As we’re driving back to the cabin in Somewhere Really Far North, Wisconsin, my son says, “Mom? This snowy landscape looks like hell to you doesn’t it? Most people think it’s hot, with flames. You see it as a cold place, don’t you?” It was the proper use of the word hell, so I’ll let that slide. “Yes. This is how I picture it.”
I’ve never been a fan of cold weather. If we each picture all the things we like in heaven, why wouldn’t all the things we hate be in hell? It would be cold and covered with snow. Hell would have only olives to eat, individually wrapped in plastic, on a table cloth made of paper towels, and served with disposable plastic forks. The walls would be painted beige and I would be required to live in a shopping mall. How do we vote for the things we believe in? By our actions. Support the good things we believe in, don’t support the things we don’t like. This challenge has really made me think a lot about this concept. Will I use disposable containers after it’s all said and done? Yes, but with a new view on how to use less. The last few days have taught me a lot.
While I’m up north, I decided to drive an extra hour or so to go see my aunt, uncle, cousin and grandma. They’re in Far Far Away Way North, Wisconsin. I think I really did go to Farbucks. It’s somewhere near Canada.
My uncle bought a bowling alley in a small town called Tomahawk. With a population just over 3,000, that’s a really small place compared to the Dallas area where I live. I’ve always been intrigued by small towns. Life seems so much simpler there. I’m not sure if it’s the green grass theory, but I would be willing to test it out.
The bowling alley is awesome. It’s small, old and has a lot of character. I could completely see myself doing something like my family did. Move to Smalltown and do something radically different. Why do continue to live in the suburban rat race? Yes, I know. Mostly for my kids, since this is their norm.
The bowling alley served all the drinks in real glasses, not styrofoam cups. The kids bowled, grandma played on the video gambling machines (also what I would call the old people version of iPads), my sister visited with everyone while my aunt and I explored the basement. She says it’s gross and ugly. I thought it was magical place, filled with relics of meaningful business operations from years past, timelessly involved in the present day world.
Is this really the simple life? Smalltown seems very attractive to me. Is it really that way, or is that just how I imagine it to be?
The Last Supper
So, I better ‘fess up. I bought some groceries in prepackaged, disposable containers. Let me explain.
The reason why I’m in Wisconsin is because my dad is dying of lung cancer. This will be the last time my kids and I get to see him. I’m not sure that reality has hit me yet. My dad really likes this roast I make, so I told him I would make it for him. This would require the purchase of some ingredients that are outside the scope of my challenge. There was no mental debate here. I bought the disposable packages with Campbells soup, Lipton soup and A1 sauce. The roast was great and dinner was awesome. I still can’t believe that it’s the last meal we’ll have together.
Even in Smalltown and Far Far Away Way North, there’s plenty of disposable stuff. While at my aunt’s house, I picked up a thin mint chocolate candy, unwrapped it and popped it into my mouth before I even realized what I was doing. I completely just messed up on my challenge. What was I thinking? I wasn’t. It was a habit. I like the chocolate, the chocolate was there and I took one. It’s the cultural norm.
Trash removal is even more interesting in FFAWN, WI. There’s no trash pick-up, it’s a trip to the dump. My stepmom can’t get the trailer hooked up, and obviously my dad can’t do it anymore. I hooked up the trailer, my boys loaded all the trash and we were off to the dump. $6 to dump the trailer full.
Clear plastic bags? Wha? FAIL. Where does one even get clear plastic trash bags? Seriously? I don’t even use trash bags. Good thing my family does or we would have been blowing trash all up and down the highway.
Still, even here, lots of trash. They had a trailer for donations, but the dumpster containers were still full. Bags upon bags, sofas, mattresses, VCR tapes (I took one because I likes the box, even though the sign said no rummaging), boxes, and so much more.
I really thought Smalltown would have less waste. Why did I think that? Because life looks simpler, but as it turns out, it’s a simple, disposable life. There are many abandoned houses out here too. My dad showed me one on the way back from town yesterday. Yes, I went there and took some photos. Abandoned houses are more dangerous here. If you fall through the floorboards in the south, you might hurt your knee or something. Here, they have basements. You’re going to a whole new level… literally.
I have much more I could add since it’s been 3 days, but my dad is awake now. Well, he might be awake because I knocked over his oxygen tank when going to get some coffee. The valve opened up and it sounded like the place was about to blow up. I couldn’t get it to close! Turns out you need a little key tool for that. Good thing he has many tanks. I guess hospice plans for stuff like that. Chat with you tomorrow!