Barronett Bob (AKA Corn Man)

This past month I was reminded about the power of social media and journalism 101. While perusing Facebook, I saw a post that was being shared with hundreds about one of my favorite farmers in the world — Barronett Bob. Or, just the Corn Man. The rumor was he wasn’t going to be selling this year due to heart issues. The post going round seemed legit and I was sad to think I wouldn’t get to enjoy the greatest sweet corn of all time so I shared it on my facebook page. The next day, much to my surprise, I learned the Facebook post had bad information. Barronett Bob was in fact healthy and was just days away from heading up to Ashland to sell hundreds the sweet taste of summer. I was relieved to hear he was ok and happy the information was false. But, I got to thinking and what I found interesting is the person who cracked the facebook rumor did so by something so old fashion–they picked up a phone and called him to confirm the story, only to discover it was false. It seems so simple, yet, it was a great reminder about the benefits of speaking to the source for information.

Next week, I’m excited to stock up on Bob’s treats when he rolls into Ashland with his truck of gold. I’m even hopeful for one of his watermelon. In the meantime, if you’ve ever wondering more about the man behind the corn, check out Julie Buckles and her post: The Secret of Bob’s Super Sweet Corn. Julie is a great author and I think you’ll find the story about Bob almost as good as his corn….

Iron River Coffee Anyone?

So a crazy thing happened today that I feel I need to share in hopes to help me pursue my dreams. If you know me at all, you know I’m a coffee addict. You also know that I absolutely love living on Moon Lake. But, for those close to me, you also know that Iron River’s lack of an espresso machine is a personal conundrum I struggle with daily. For the past 5-months, I’ve been doing my due diligence in trying to determine if the rest of the community feels the same. This has involved meeting with regional coffee shops, talking to businesses in-town, crunching numbers, meeting with a distributor, attending a food show, reviewing real-estate in-town and doing some serious soul searching.

All of this had led me to today. As part of this process, I put my ideas on paper and competed in the area’s business idea contest. Today, I got up in front of a room of 50-60 folks from state agencies, local banks, and community members. There were business owners and agency reps from economic development. And, there were other dreamers who believed their idea was worth sharing.

I had 120 seconds to share my vision. I am confident the last time I was this nervous was when I presented my senior thesis at Bemidji State University in 1999. I hate public speaking. But, what was more at stake was whether this group of individuals would embrace my idea. Would they get the need for a community hot spot in Iron River that provides a premium espresso.

I was a babbling fool who was sweating buckets. Keep in mind, the room did not have air conditioning and it was 90+ degrees in Ashland. But, I got up there and put my heart and soul out to the audience. I laid it all out there. And guess what, I didn’t win. I tied for first. But, I did manage to win the audience choice award. This meant a lot to me because it showed that people understood my passion. They shared my passion. And they believed in me.

Call it fate or something crazier, I met the VP of the bank who happens to own the building I’m interested in purchasing in the bathroom. It was a great conversation. Several other conversations with commuters, economic development folks and bankers provided me insight and feedback on how to make this possible. While energized, I’m also overwhelmed. I have a great stable job and a booming freelance career. I’m the mother of a 2-year old with whom I attempt to embrace every moment possible. My husband and I are involved in the community. We’re stretched thin. And, I’m not exactly a trust fund baby. Folks talked a lot today about being fearless. But, as brave as I am, the whole thing has left me clueless. To be honest, I don’t know what comes next.

But I do know that today felt good. It would have felt equally as good if I hadn’t won. I put myself out there. I put my dreams out there. It was scary. It was intimidating. But, I came out realizing that others will support my dream. It was worth every second. Sitting here typing this note, I don’t know if I’ll be a coffee shop owner in 12-months. But, in this moment, it seems a lot more possible than yesterday. And that my friends is something.

I Dig Being Two!

IMG_1285I’m hijacking mom’s blog again in anticipation of my second birthday coming up on Saturday. Things have changed a ton since I last wrote. First, I’m communicating. My vocabulary includes a lot of body parts, food groups and demands. I’ve mastered the words mine, poo and no. And, while I still don’t get it, I have found if I add the word puh-lease to the end of everything, I pretty much get everything I want.

Mom says I’m in the height of terrible 2’s and have a bit of a temper. I’d say I’m more the vocal, independent type that knows what I want and how to get it. It’s the Sisu Fin in me so mom only has herself to thank for that.

I’m also very curious. This past week, I figured out that if I connect my step stool to my play kitchen, I can walk up the stool, use the kitchen as a step and finally gain access to the kitchen counters where there is all kinds of good stuff, including access to all of the food cupboards. Dad busted me and said he wasn’t sure if he should be angry or proud of the fact that I figured that out on my own. What can I say? I’m a natural problem solver.

I am obsessed with water and consider myself very brave. I love jumping off the dock, going for boat rides, dunking my head in the water and rolling around in circles in the tub… all of which makes my parents quite anxious. Seriously, you should see them. They are wound up so tight when I’m playing. They keep saying I’m going to drown, even though I sport a life jacket constantly. A couple weeks ago, I even went tubing at the cabin making me the youngest Probst to enter the world of water sports.

I still enjoy being read to but I’m much more into turning the pages and trying to figure out the names of things on my own. There are just so many words out there for me to learn. I’m not sure if wombat is a must know at two but I’m going with what mom and dad give me to read and soaking it all up like a sponge.

I waited a while to walk. I found crawling to be more effective. But, around Christmas that started to change. Now, I run and jump and walk all day long. I love stairs. Another thing that seemed to stress mom and dad out. Then again, everything seems to stress at least mom out. I love tackling dad. We roughhouse a ton. I frankly love it and dad is a wimp. But, it seems to get me into trouble at daycare sometimes. Turns out tackling dad and tackling infants aren’t the same thing. Go figure. In addition to running around, I love throwing balls and swinging bats. Oh and stroller and wagon rides. Pretty much anything outside where I’m moving is good. I’ve also taken up weeding. Mom taught me that. It doesn’t seem to make much sense since we never seem to be done but it passes time. And, only sometimes mom says what I’m pulling are actually plants versus weeds. Give me a break, I’m two.

I love food. I weigh in at over 32 pounds and have been called sturdy by more than one person. I like my food spicier than mom, although that doesn’t take much. Dad says I’m clearly a carnivore. But, I could live on graham crackers if given the opportunity. For the first few months of eating, I resisted cheese and refused to eat anything with cheese in or on it. It just seemed like such a cliché since I was born in Wisconsin. But, I have learned the errors of my way and now beg for cheese constantly. Joey loves when I get cheese. Especially the shredded kind since at least half of it ends up on the floor for her. She’s sort of a beggar. But I don’t mind. She’s my best bud.

I remain a full-time daycare kid. It works out pretty good. I think mom and dad feel a bit guilty so I’ve been told I’m a bit spoiled at times… But, I frankly wouldn’t want to be with my parents 24/7. They are sort of boring. All of my friends are at daycare, plus they got pet chickens and rabbits and all kinds of cool toys I don’t have at home. Did I mention the chickens? How cool is that? Rumor is I might be getting a chicken pen so I can have one (or more—we’re still negotiating that front) next summer just like mom had when she was growing up.

This past year included quite a few adventures. I went to the Children’s Museum, multiple zoos, countless festivals (mom’s obsessed), swimming in Lake Superior, cabin visits, shopping, the library, lots of restaurants, hiking, my first Big Top show and had my photo taken a ton (literally). I watched mom cross the finish line at several races. I also helped lead off the Blueberry Festival Parade since my dad is town supervisor. Dad forgot to mention it to mom so we were scrambling a bit but I ended up getting to throw bouncy balls. Plus, mom didn’t have time to get me a blueberry costume and dad wouldn’t let her die a diaper bright blue so that’s good. It was bad enough I had to be a ladybug (or as PR mom tried to spin it, Mr. Bug) for Halloween. Can’t wait to see how they will humiliate me this year.

All of that said, it was another good year on Moon Lake. It is hard to believe my age has doubled since I last wrote. I’m still not potty trained but I sleep a solid 11 hours nightly. I love my afternoon naps. The whole play hard, sleep hard seems to suit me well. This past month, my car seat flipped from backwards to forwards. I now see the world whiz by me in a whole different light. I have a hunch a lot of being two will be like this—seeing the world differently. I’m looking forward to it!

Until next time,

Jake from Moon Lake

Hot Enough?

Moon Lake summers are awesome… right up to those few days where temperatures surpass 80 degrees. It isn’t the heat but instead the humidity that drives me crazy. Crazy enough that after years of debate, my husband finally realized that if we didn’t get central air, our marriage might not survive. (It helped that I was also 8-months pregnant and on bed rest when he finally caved).

This past weekend, we ran it 24/7. It was pretty much heaven. But, I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty about the energy I was consuming. Not enough to turn it off but more like the guilt you get when you sneak a piece of cake when nobody is looking.

I’d like to say my hubby and I are conservative environmentalists. We burn wood when we can, recycle, reuse and steer clear of gas-guzzling vehicles as much as possible. We try to support local businesses. But, I also shop at Wal-Mart and have even contemplated sneaking ketchup packets into the Duluth Grill to avoid using their homemade stuff. It is about balance folks.

That said, I really respect people who walk the talk. In June, I had the opportunity to tour Bailey’s Greenhouse outside of Bayfield. It is a wholesale greenhouse that isn’t open to the public but has gained local attention for its commitment to renewable energy. Driving up, I wasn’t surprised to see the rows of solar panels around the property. But, there definition of renewable energy is so much more than that.

Joe Bailey and Gail Chatfield

Joe Bailey and Gail Chatfield utilize a variety of renewable energies to power their home and business. And, they can truly quantify the savings they are experiencing while doing their part to help the planet. If you’re interested in the numbers, you can read the article I wrote for this month’s Business North here.

This in itself would be impressive. But what really inspired me was their commitment to giving back. They are busy sharing their knowledge and resources with others through a regional website. And, they are investing time and energy into bringing local foods and education to area schools. I only spent an hour or so interviewing and learning more about the operation so I’m no expert on what they have accomplished. But, what I do know is they are passionate about renewable energy and living proof that where there’s a will there’s a way.

Community solar is slowly making its way to Iron River. My husband I were quick to sign up for a few panels. But, after hearing their story and learning more about the potential community solar has for a community, we’ve committed to doubling down on our investment should the initiative move forward. I’m hopeful it will, not only because it is the right thing to do but because it helps me run my AC completely guilt free on those hot, sunny, summer days.

Lacing Up is Hard to Do

Today marks 12-weeks until my next half-marathon. It is also the kick-off of training for an anticipated 5K in August and a 10-miler run in September. A lot has happened since my last post. Two weeks after the half, I did my first 5k in Stillwater and absolutely loved it. I also learned during that race, I can push myself a lot harder during training. I finished in about 39 minutes. Not bad for my first race, no warm-up and no pacing or understanding of what it takes to run a 5k. The following weekend I completed a 5k obstacle fun run. No timing but a lot of laughing. For the past 4-weeks, I’ve been focused on enjoying summer, cross training (aka mowing the lawn, gardening, swimming with my 22 month old) and watching Scandal. As I watched the calendar turn to July, though, I knew this fun time was over.

This morning I woke up after sleeping soundly for 9.5 hours. Physically, I felt great. My hubby knew I needed to run this morning and was in full support. There would be no excuses or leisurely cups of coffee on the deck contemplating when I should run. Instead, it was go time. Getting dressed, I knew I was in better shape today than I have been in years. I knew just 8 weeks ago I ran a Half-Marathon in my best time ever. Just 5-weeks ago, I completed a 5k doing 13-minute miles. For me, this is impressive. But yet, I still felt that same jolt of discouragement and why bother as I grudgingly put on my shoes.
I don’t know about any other runners out there but for me, lacing up is the hardest part. Once outside jamming to my tunes and breathing in the fresh air, it physically hurts but my mental game improves. Just run to that tree, go past that mailbox, run to that stop box. Everything is so finite on the course—measurements are by steps, minutes and miles. As Nike so eloquently puts it, you just do it. But that’s only half the game.

Lacing up is much more subjective. It is about the why’s and the can I and what ifs. It is the fear of losing a toenail, injuring my knees, damaging my hips, getting attacked by a random rodent or bear. It is the realization that I’m still bigger than I’d like and those cute running outfits just aren’t a possibility right now.
Today, I won. I quickly laced up my shoes, glanced at my medals and bounded out the door. My first 30-minute training session went quickly—in part because I chose the single most humid day this summer to start training and the black flies are in full swing. But, I hit my goal, sweat and made it home before 8 am. It felt great. I pocket this for now knowing I’ll need this encouragement the next time I lace up.

I don’t know if I’ll make it this time. I don’t know what surprises are in store for me the next few months. But for now, I’m committed. The first training is I n the books. And from here, we’ll see what happens.

Race Day Recap

Always earned, never given. For Valentine’s Day, my hubby bought me this quote as a metal hanger for my medals. At the time, I was super excited about adding another medal to the mix. I was in the height of training for my fifth half-marathon but I was only averaging 3-5 mile runs, making it somewhat easy and enjoyable. By mid-April, the novelty of training had worn off and I was left looking at that rack and a month of long runs wondering what the hell I was thinking. Similar to last fall, life had thrown some curveballs and it would have been easy and totally acceptable to quit. But for whatever reason, I opted to see this one through to the finish line.

Two weeks prior to race day I did a trial run. It was clear that despite having a longer training time, I was going to come nowhere close to my goal. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed in myself. I felt I had a solid plan and was determined to clear 3-hours. But looking back, I didn’t diet or push myself early on to improve my time. And the reality is, if you change nothing about your training you can pretty much expect the same for results.
By race day evening, I just wanted the race to be over. By race day morning, my stomach hurt. Not with race day jitters but just frustration. To add to this joy, I had the pleasure of being the larger than average gal lining up with a bunch of runners. Don’t shake your head at me and say, but you are a runner. You know what I’m talking about. If you want to feel fat, head to a half-marathon and look at those in your company. But, it was during the porta potty line that I noticed something distinctly different about this race. I’m guessing it was my mindset. As I patiently waited for my turn I decided to quit dwelling in what I didn’t do and acknowledge the fact that in 15-minutes I was going to line-up and run a race. And sometime in the next 4-hours I’d finish a race. And, what I made of the time in-between was up to me. Yes, I could dwell on what I didn’t do. But, I could also say, I’m still here and why not enjoy today.

Exhausted but happy.

Exhausted but happy.

And I did. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word since I was in intense pain. But, I can honestly say I had fun. The Journey’s Half-Marathon in Eagle River was by far my favorite race. And, somewhere around mile 6 and the tune, this is my Fight Song (Thank You Courtney for sharing that song), I really started pushing myself. I pushed myself harder than I ever have pushed myself before running. By Mile 12, I was wondering if I had pushed too hard. Whether I would actually clear the finish line before collapsing. But I did. Later when I checked my time, I discovered my time was 3:13. In runner’s time, that meant I missed my goal by a lifetime. But, in my time, that was 15 minutes faster than my last race and 25-minutes faster than my first run. But more importantly, I put it all out there on the race course and discovered I have a lot more in me that I ever thought possible. The icing on the cake, seeing my son when I finished and knowing that someday he’ll understand that while his mom might not finish first, she finishes what she starts and tries her hardest. And for right now, that’s enough.

Mother’s Day Gratitude

My son turned 21-months today. Tomorrow I run my first half-marathon in a year. Sunday is Mother’s Day. This trifecta has my mind spinning with emotions – some high, some low – but all of it is topped with gratitude.

When I decided I’d run the Journey’s Half-Marathon six months ago, I didn’t realize it was on Mother’s Day weekend. For obvious reasons, this holiday is particularly difficult for me and many people I know. On the one hand, I want to celebrate the single most influential person in my life… while at the same time mourn her loss and attempt to let go of the anger of her choices. After 19-years of dealing with this turbulent, emotionally charged weekend annually (thanks Hallmark), I can say it is getting easier.

Don’t get me wrong. If I’m honest, I still haven’t 100% forgiven my mom. And, I still miss her terribly. I still tear up when I see heartfelt Mother’s Day commercials that are designed to tug at my heart and guilt me until my wallet pops open and I rectify those feelings by buying trinkets, cards and flowers. Kudos to these marketers by the way. It still works on me and I don’t even have a mother.

I think it gets easier as time goes on because I’m realizing how little control we have over some portions of our destiny. I had 18-years with my mom. She was an amazing mother who loved me unconditionally. Unlike so many of my friends, I had time to say good-bye. I knew my mom was dying, long before she took her last breath. I know without a doubt she knew how much I loved her when she finally passed.

This past week, I was shocked to hear the news about Dave Goldberg dying. I’m slowly working my way through Sheryl Sandberg’s book wondering where I fell on the continuum of career versus family. At times I applaud her efforts, while at other moments, I despise her. Now, I just feel her loss and am reminded that nobody can escape fate. Yesterday, a long-time acquaintance visited me at the hospital to talk about his efforts to pay it forward. Several months ago while competing in a ski race, he went into cardiac arrest. Call it fate. Call it God. Call it whatever you want… but a physician happened to be skiing behind him. For 25-minutes, this man conducted CPR on the trail and while he was transported via a snowmobile sled to an ambulance. Once at the ambulance, they were able to shock him back to life. Just a few months later, he’s back to bike riding and coordinating a free communitywide CPR class, forever changed but healthy, happy and alive.

I don’t know where I fall on the spectrum of grief. I know it is ugly and unpredictable. But in this moment, I can also say that I’m grateful to the woman who made me and this weekend I’ll do my best to remember all she did for me. Tomorrow, I run for me because she gave me the strength and courage to race, even if I suck. She taught me that it isn’t always about winning. That, just showing up and playing hard is enough. Even death can’t take that away from us and for that I’m extremely grateful this Mother’s Day weekend.

I love you mom. Always have and always will.