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.

 

 

 

July 4th Extravaganza

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Redneck in a fireworks store!!

It all started with a “quick” stop at the Pro Fireworks store in Williamsburg. Knowing that he and my dad would need supplies for their annual explosives display, Yooper Stewart came home with $25 worth of artillery shells and Black Cats. He also cruised the store, checking out supplies and prices. Having purchased fireworks with my father before, he knew right away that he could get twice as many supplies at Pro Fireworks for the price they usually paid at the fireworks tents. That led to another stop at the store.

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I literally couldn’t fit all of the fireworks in one photo.

Watching YS in a fireworks store is like watching my seven year-old niece cruise the doll aisle at Toys R Us set to the theme song of The Lego Movie: “Everything is AWESOME!” At one point we were looking at another fireworks box (they all looked the same to me) when we heard an employee in the next aisle say, “loudest one in the store!” Yooper Stewart ran around the corner to find out what it was. Thirty minutes (and $75) later, we had quite the supply (which, of course, doesn’t mean he and my dad didn’t still go to a fireworks tent to buy just a few more things).

Set-up started at about 8 p.m. on July 4. The past method has been setting all of the fireworks on a piece of plywood on top of two saw horses. After last year’s excitement (a Roman candle accidentally setting off some of the stand-by fireworks), they decided to upgrade: active fireworks on the plywood, back-ups in a wheel barrow (we’re very high tech).

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Almost ready…

The first firework went off around 8:06 p.m., with additional “test runs” happening until 9:30 p.m. That’s when the big show started! And kept going…and going…and going. Yooper Stewart, my dad, and my  second-cousin Mike blew things up until 11 p.m. Some of the fuses were loose, but they lit ’em anyway. They didn’t know how loud, big, or bright some would be, so they lit ’em to find out. Not sure if you can light that cake within 3″ of another cake? Why don’t we light it and see what happens?

They had a BLAST! (I spent much of the night ducking behind patio chairs). I’d love to say that I can’t wait until next year, but honestly, I could have bought a really nice pair of shoes with that money. Yooper Stewart, however, is already looking forward to bigger and better explosions (the neighbor’s show was louder – he and my dad need to top that).

The Next Generation

Yooper Stewart isn’t really a kid person. It’s not that he doesn’t like them, he just doesn’t have much experience and they can sense it. His #1 goal when dealing with kids: prevent tears. It doesn’t take tykes long to figure that out and use it to their advantage. YS recognizes this weakness, so he usually tries to avoid being alone with kids, but they love him. They seek him out and follow him, loving his easy spirit, kindness, and willingness to blow up firecrackers at any moment.

Legos and the outdoors - perfect!

Legos and the outdoors – perfect!

One of his biggest fans is JT. Yooper Stewart is one of her favorite snuggle buddies.

Recently JT spent the weekend with us. It wasn’t entirely planned, so YS and I had some work we needed to accomplish. Since the weather had finally warmed up, we decided to work outside so JT could play in the yard and burn off some energy. As soon as she saw YS sorting Legos, however, she wanted in. Because YS was sorting and organizing, it didn’t really work to have her playing with those particular bricks, but that wasn’t a problem. When it comes to Legos and outdoor work space, we can always find a way.

DSC02758JT – the next generation.