Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Closing the Old Year with a Bunch of Firsts


It was back to the world of reality today.  The routine of the day job and the back-log from being away from the day job.  Changing my eating habits and no more sleeping-in.  It wasn’t a slap in the face – but it was close.  Let's call it a rude awakening.

It has been terrific to have gone away for a spell - having taken the opportunity to use some sorely-needed vacation time.  Quirky technology issues that messed with my connectivity might possibly have been divinely inspired - a means of forcing a disconnection from matters of minimal importance.

The last week and a half was spent with a rather vast family.

My pop and Jill’s mom. My brother and his family.  A huge extended collection of brother-in-laws and sister-in-laws, nieces, nephews, assorted cousins and children of cousins.  The former wife and former in-laws too.

Best of all - my daughter and her family.

My 52 readers (two more have come out of the closet) know that my daughter left Tosa after college graduation to seek out her fortune on the Gulf Coast.  And fortune she found.  I’m not talking about material fortune.  I’m talking about seeking her own way in life.  And in doing so she met someone she decided to spend the rest of her life with.  She married a fella from Mississippi.  With this arrangement she traded snow for hurricanes.  Personally I think the trade-off was crazy (the hurricane part) as I’ll take cold and snow any day over something that can sweep your house into the Gulf of Mexico.

The first time I met this Mississippi lad was a number of years ago. 

It was a brutal Wisconsin February. 

He had been courting my daughter and they both traveled to Milwaukee to attend an acquaintance’s wedding in Green Bay.  Sensing an opportunity to divest of her beau for the bridesmaid’s pre-wedding warm-up my lovely daughter asked if I wouldn’t take him under my wing for a couple of days.

I’m thinking to myself – Yeah. Sure. I haven’t cared for any of the lot I’ve met over the years. What makes this one any different?

Puhlease, dad. He’s really sweet. You’ll like him. Trust me.

So – I met The Kid for the first time at the Milwaukee Ale House and my first words to him were –

Grab your bag son and climb in. You and I are going up to the farm for a couple of days and get acquainted.

Shoving him in my direction – the daughter gleefully bids him adieu.

He looks at her with pleading eyes.

She tosses him a kiss and with that - the gaggle of laughing young women disappear into the Ale House.

He turns to me and helplessly gets into the vehicle. 

He looks for the entire world to be resigned to a grim and indeterminate fate. 

He’s probably thinking - This dude is some sort of wraith from the frozen north who’s going to interrogate me about what I’ve got going-on with his precious daughter.  Then after he has that information, he’s going to feed me to the abominable snow monster. I know he has guns. I sure hope he shoots me first.

Let’s keep this in context. 

It is freezing in February and this thin-blooded fella was shaking. 

I would like to think more from the cold than a personal re-visitation upon him of the War of Northern Aggression. But for any of you fathers of daughters out there - the Number One Rule is to always maintain the upper hand in matters such as these.

Long story short – The Kid and I got along. Famously. He earned the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.  Daughter and The Kid were eventually married.  And that first frozen memory faded. 

Fast-forward to today.

The family returned and spent a frigid holiday in Wisconsin and experienced a wealth of what I would characterize as Firsts.

First snow-blowing and snow shoveling.

First sledding. 

First snow fort. Followed by first snow fight. And first frozen hands.

First snow-tubing - complete with shrieks of delight and terror over the helplessness of being able to control the careening tube down the slope of a gigantic landfill.

Falling asleep in front of the wood burner snuggling with Girlfriend.

First trail ride. Riding a horse through the quiet of snow-covered pines and breaking trail upon acres of freshly fallen snow.

The first picture of a wolf taken in our neck of the woods.

An evening lit by the ghostly rays of a full moon with its blue light reflected from new fallen snow bright enough to read a book by.

First New Year’s Eve fireworks.

First Polar Bear Plunge.

A small town parade.

The first pan-fried Wisconsin walleye.

More fireworks.

I happen to like winter. I embrace it and all it has to offer. Especially the cold that literally slaps you in the face.

And the creature comforts that follow. Warm fire, hot cocoa, an adult beverage, a good book or a silly movie and family.

And the first Hoser Hat!

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