The New (and Improved?) Yooper Stewart

0220170943a_500x1000He did it!

Yooper Stewart finished his first solo week driving in his own truck. He drove to Connecticut through a winter storm, was woken up at 1 a.m. for a 5 a.m. delivery, and managed to drive 3,000 miles total.

The Saturday after his week ended, his company threw an employee party to celebrate people for their years of service and to recognize the company’s 45th anniversary. We decided to attend so YS and I could meet more of his co-workers. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to help him organize his truck (though he wasn’t sure that he wanted the help).

When I arrived, Yooper Stewart looked the same, but something had changed. I didn’t realize it yet, but after five weeks on the road (one by himself), YS had had a heart change. Miraculously he did two things he’s never done before.

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  1. He wanted to go to a party. That’s right – no more waiting until the last minute with me dragging him behind me as he tries to come up with a good reason why he should be able to skip another social function. I knew my bearded introvert would enjoy his alone time in the truck, but I didn’t realize that all that alone time would awaken his social side and lead him to seek out personal interactions. Not only did we arrive early, we were one of the last few people to leave.
  2. He let me organize his things. I’m a natural organizer. Yooper Stewart is not. I’ve been begging him for years to let me help him organize his office, but he’s never let me. After a tiring week on the road in a cramped, disorganized truck, however, he was willing to let me try. And he liked the results. (Maybe now he’ll let me into his office!)

0219171919_500x1000To celebrate his first successful week, he celebrated like any good redneck – with a medium-rare ribeye (thank you Mom and Aunt Linda for the gift card!).

With his first week behind him, he’s feeling more confident and relaxed. He’s ready to take on his first month, his first summer, his first year. (And I’m ready to take on his office…)

It’s Official – Yooper Stewart’s Truckin’

As you may remember, Yooper Stewart decided to go to school to become a semi-truck driver. It’s a job he’s been prepping for his entire life: long hours on the road, not having to interact with people, and optional showering. 13395

After school, he interviewed with two companies and received two job offers. We spent several days praying about it before he made a decision, though it wasn’t easy. His new employer provides a variety of delivery routes and locations, which appeals to YS. It also, however, delivers to New York City – a location YS was in no hurry to visit. Still, we had peace about the decision, and YS decided he’d face NYC when he had to.14076

YS accepted the job and took his first four trips to NYC: twice to the Citibank building and twice to Nassau Colosseum. He didn’t always have time to play tourist, but he did manage to dine out a couple of times.

To make sure YS was completely comfortable in a truck, his trainer took him to NYC for the grand tour: from Delaware to Manhattan to Long Island to Queens to the Bronx to Manhattan to New Jersey. After this training, I think YS is going to be ready to drive anywhere. 14211

It’s been an interesting transition. We both thought I’d have the harder time with it (not seeing him for two weeks at a time), but it surprised us both that YS struggled the most (primarily because he’s a hardcore introvert, and he had to spend a month in a 6′ x 6′ box with a complete stranger). Though the training surprised us, what didn’t surprise me was that YS mastered training faster than average. Shortening his training by 25%, he’s ready for his last run before he graduates to his own truck. 14208

 

I won’t lie – we can’t wait for him to be in his own truck. Not only will he have some much-needed alone time, he’ll be able to set his own schedule (which includes home time!). And then – in April – if everything goes well, I’ll get to pack up my bag and hit the road with him. (Neither one of us wants to speculate as to how well we’ll do together in that truck cab, but we take comfort in knowing that if it doesn’t go well, it’ll only be 3-4 days.)14214

We’re both looking forward to settling into our new lifestyle. Everything has been inconsistent and constantly-changing since December, but getting his own truck with put YS back in the driver seat (literally and metaphorically). We still don’t know what life will look like in three months, six months, or a year, but we’re excited to find out.

Eleven Years with Yooper Stewart

478Yesterday Yooper Stewart and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary. That’s right – eleven years with my redneck. Some days we’re amazed that we’ve made it this far. Pretty much every day we’re thankful that we stuck with it and pressed through.

We were married on November 26, 2005, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I recognize November 26 as our anniversary; Yooper Stewart recognizes the Saturday after Thanksgiving as our anniversary. Either way, we don’t celebrate the way most people celebrate.

For starters, sometimes our anniversary (Nov. 26) is on Thanksgiving, so the whole family is invited. Regardless of when Nov. 26 falls, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is always the U-M/OSU game, so there’s a football game involved (for me, not YS – he couldn’t care less). And some years we’re up at 4 a.m. for Black Friday savings.479

Our gifts are pretty unconventional too. We generally don’t exchange gifts – a dinner out (when neither of us has to cook or clean) is usually enough, but recently Yooper Stewart has requested – and received – Legos. I prefer practical gifts, so it’s not uncommon for me to get a mop or some type of cleaning supply. This year he surprised me by finally fixing the top two items on the to-be-fixed list.

The past eleven years haven’t always been what I’d expected, but it sure has been a fun ride. I can’t wait for the next eleven.

 

It’s a Birthday Miracle!

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We’re back!

Okay, so it’s not as much a miracle as it is me finally getting my act together to pay some renewals and find a new home for YS. I did it, though, and here we are! Just in time too – YS is taking a giant, redneck step this year and leaving his job to hit the road. That’s right: he’s going to truck driving school. We’re excited and nervous (but mostly excited). He actually took today off work to go visit the school before he starts classes.

While he’s studying, I’ll be at home with these two hairy guys – Bucket (you’ve met) and our newest family member, Cooper. They aren’t nearly as handy in the kitchen as Yooper Stewart, but at least they’ll snuggle with me and keep me warm.

I’ll get back into the swing of things soon, but wanted to get this happy birthday, we’re-finally-back post up today so you’d know where you can find YS online.

Happy Birthday, Honey!

Shovel It

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Tackling the plow snot – the worst part of shoveling.

 

Winter. Those glorious eight months of biting cold, sunless days, and piles and piles of snow. Yooper Stewart used to love the winter (because he used to own a lawn care business and didn’t work when it snowed). These days? Well, he’d rather not share his specific feelings about the season, but let’s just say it’s not his favorite.

A contributing factor to his waning love of the snow – shoveling. He now works doing outdoor maintenance at the local hospital. That means lawn mowing and flower beds in the summer, but it also means salt tubs, snow blowers, and shovels in the winter. Being paid to shovel a sidewalk isn’t too bad. Having toe clear out two parking spaces at home, however, wears on you.

Fortunately for YS, he married a helpful woman who hates shoveling as much as he does, so she shares in his agony to help reduce the number of hours he spends throwing snow. A couple of years ago my parents retired to Las Vegas, so they gave us their snow blower, but we live significantly farther north than they did and that cute little machine couldn’t handle the work. After we burned out the third motor, we stopped fixing it and broke out the shovel.

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Yooper Stewart & Mrs. YS (sporting the biggest, warmest coat you’ll ever find)

 

Shoveling on a good day is bad enough, but this picture was not taken on a good day. On this day we were shoveling snow while the snow fell on us while the wind blew the shoveled snow back in our faces. Then the neighbor revved up his snow blower (thanks – rub it in). Then we saw it – the snow plow. We’d just cleared the end of the driveway and the snow plow was three houses away, ready to drop another half foot of snot in front of our car. Awesome.

I won’t lie – I wanted to flip them off, but Yooper Stewart is a working man. He’s talked with the guys at the DPW before. He patted me on the head and waved at the snow plow driver. The drive waved back, lifted the blade, and drove past our driveway sparing us another 15 minutes of work.

I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned here, but with sore shoulders and an aching back all I can think about it buying YS a new John Deere for his birthday.

Smith or Robertson – You Decide

Murphy’s law – I write a post about Yooper Stewart’s camera shy ways and the next week he lets me take pictures of him. Of course.

The Sunday before Christmas, the fam took a trip to the Music House Museum. You can read all about (and see some great pictures and videos) here. The picture of YS and me started a discussion – who does Yooper Stewart look like?

Is he a Smith brother…

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Or a Robertson?

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You decide.

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Camera-Shy Redneck

So, YooperStewart.com hasn’t turned out exactly as I expected. I thought things around here would be more regular, but apparently the prunes haven’t kicked in yet. My goal has always been to show you what it’s like to be Yooper Stewart, and I wanted that to include actual photos and videos. I’ve brainstormed a dozen ideas for blog posts, but I didn’t want to post anything until I had a visual accompaniment. Seeing as though I’m only posting once every 4-6 weeks you can guess how well that plan has worked out.

I’ve come to realize that YS is a bit camera shy. There’s no real explanation for the shyness – the reasons tend to change with the weather – but its popping up more than it used to. I think my organized ways are rubbing off on him and he’s a little embarrassed when things aren’t just-right or well-kept. Then there’s the issue of his trade secrets. He doesn’t want me to show too many of his Lego-selling tricks online. Believe it or not, he’s not very shy about is his appearance, so that’s not usually an issue.

With this sudden onslaught of shyness I’ve been hesitant to publish new posts because I’m a bit worried that my stories of Yooper Stewart aren’t enough to entertain you – I want the safety net of photos. Then again, we’re talking about Yooper Stewart, the man who recently informed me that he’s out of body wash even though I put a brand new bottle in the shower two weeks ago. I’m not really sure what’s going on there, but with those kinds of shenanigans happening I don’t think I have much to worry about.

I could tell you a hundred stories, and it’s time that I get back to that.

Happy Birthday, YS

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Thirty-six years ago today, Yooper Stewart entered the world. How prophetic that he was born on opening day of rifle season during the deer hunting season. I doubt his parents imagined that camo would become an every-day pattern in their son’s life (at our house we now consider camo a neutral – we pretend like it matches everything because he’s going to wear it with everything anyway).

I’ve know YS for nine years now, and I love the man more and more each day. Here are some of the reasons why I love him:

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– He remembers the names of my favorite authors, then picks up books with endorsements by those authors because, “I figured if your favorite author liked it, you’ll like it too.”

– When everything goes wrong and I want to throw things out the window, he taps into his calm-reserves and talks me down (unless the problem is fudgie traffic – then I have to talk him down).

– Have you seen him smile?

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– Every night in the winter he gives me a foot rub before bed. EVERY night (even if I’m already asleep, he’ll rub my feet until he knows for sure that I’m unconscious).

– He’s taller than me. That means I can wear heels!

– Old ladies love him.

– Little kids adore him.

– He makes me a better person (whether I want to be or not).

Happy birthday, honey. I love you!

With Matt

By Any Means Necessary (aka Hunting Yooper Stewart Style)

(WARNING: Graphic photos below – if you are squeamish about dead animals, stop now!)

For the past two years my husband has battled the woods and the elements in an attempt to score some organically-raised, free-range venison (aka he’s gone deer hunting). As the new guy at work, however, he’s the last to get vacation time for this event, and seeing as the rifle season is only two-weeks long, he’s limited to an hour here and there before and after work. After a few days of non-stop working and hunting, he’s usually exhausted and hasn’t been able to kill anything yet.

The year he tried something different – he smashed our car into a deer.wreck

It wasn’t actually by choice, and it did cause quite a bit of damage to our car, but Yooper Stewart is safe, the car is fully covered, and YS finally managed to bag a buck (a 7-point buck at that). As luck would have it, YS was actually pulling the trailer, so he tossed the great car-killer into the back and brought it home.

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Technically YS still had to get to work (he was on his way before the little run-in), but his deer-hunting boss understood the value of free, fresh meat. A friend offered to process the deer for us, but not until the following week. With the predicted temperatures at 75 degrees for the day, YS had to at least gut and cool the carcass in order to preserve it.

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After watching a demonstration on YouTube and talking with a friend about proper technique, YS started the process of gutting a deer – the first time he’s done this in 20 years. (FYI – “How to Gut a Deer in Eight Minutes” works on YouTube with an experienced hunter gutting a deer conveniently located on a hill. For the rest of us, plan on half an hour).

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I’ll spare you the really gross pictures (though we have them – my aunt took pictures of EVERYTHING). After the gutting, YS had to rinse the deer well. Having hit him with the car, some of the intestines exploded, releasing its contents into the deer. YS took his time cleaning – no one wants deer poop in their venison.

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As I said, with predicted temps in the mid-seventies, cooling the carcass was critical. The original plan included a tarp and bags of ice, but then it occurred to us – we had an empty chest freezer in the garage! Commence operation Freezer Stuff.

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The whole dragging-to-the-freezer process humored me (especially when this happened), but then YS needed help getting the deer into the freezer. That required me touching the deer. I’m not all that squeamish, but touching the deer’s head…I know it’s not possible, but I kept expecting it to wake up and thrash. I don’t know why that was my biggest fear, but it was. Regardless, I’m keen on the idea of “free” meat for the winter, so I sucked it up.

He wasn’t a natural fit for the freezer, so YS grabbed a hatchet and got creative. (Icky picture below).

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That will work for now (and it will guarantee that my chest freezer gets a head-to-toe, inside-and-out soak and scrub down with commercial strength hydrogen peroxide – to be performed by YS).

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It may not be exactly how YS planned to provide meat for his family, but it worked, and now he has a nice, 7-point rack to show off.

Staying Busy, Yooper Style

I have horribly neglected this site all summer, and I apologize. It’s not that there aren’t stories to tell, we’ve just been good-and-busy, so I’ve been pouring my time into the paying gigs. Summer vacation is officially over, however, so I have a few minutes to let you know what’s been going on.

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After putting on his most comfortable around-the-house outfit (plaid and camo is a favorite combo), YS took Aunt Linda outside to show her the compost pile. It’s a must-know location for disposing of a watermelon that’s spoiled when you cut into it (bleh).

DSC02771Then he busted out his favorite toy: the dual-bevel, sliding, compact mitre saw (I had no idea what any of that meant before I got married). He uses it at least once a month for various projects. This summer he used it to help organize his Legos (that deserves a post of it’s own).

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Let’s just say the Lego project involved a lot of shelves.

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One of his favorite activities was driving our friends’ boat. It had been years since he’d been on a motorboat, and he loved it. (Besides the camo, have you noticed the other theme throughout these pictures? I swear these are summer photos, it was just a rather cool summer).DSC02800

There were a few really nice days, so we made sure to take advantage, and his new favorite way to enjoy the outdoors was in our new kayaks. We’ve rented them before, but this year someone generously bought two for us. We took full advantage, exploring Grand Traverse Bay and the Chain-of-Lakes. Generally YS is the slowest moving person I know, but put him in a ‘yak and I can’t keep up.DSC02847We even managed to find some time to play tourist and go up to Mackinac Island for the day. We thought a weekday would be less crowded than the weekend, so we drove up on a Monday…the Monday when the Chicago-Mackinac sailboat race was ending. That’ll teach us to check a calendar.

This doesn’t show half of what we did this summer, but it’s a pretty fair representation. Regardless of what he was doing, YS stayed true to himself – camo, hoodies, and a beard. It’s all part of his master plan to convince me that camo and hoodies are all-occasion wear.