Baby It’s Cold Inside

I literally have cold feet and I mean “literally” literally


Marido and I went to a party the other night. It was a lovely party with lovely people and excellent food (which included the major food groups of cheese, bacon, and chocolate, even combining two of those foods – the cheese and the bacon – into one appetizer – cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates, which were excellent).

But before the party was the dilemma I always face before I go to an event:

  1. Will there be food? What kind of food? Should I eat now just in case?
  2. Will it be cold?

A sub-category of #2 is, Will this be a shoes-off place. If it is, then I have to plan my inner footwear carefully. The Good Socks only. Not the Old Socks From Target That Do The Trick But Are About To Develop Holes In The Heels.

Anyhow. I had to worry.

I prepared for #1 by eating some cheese and crackers at home, which I should not have done because as I noted, the food was delicious, but on the other hand, we didn’t get there until 7:00 and I usually eat supper about 5:00 which is not too early, haters, when you get up before 6:00 a.m.

(Note to self: Re-load purse snacks.)(And not just with chocolate.)(Some protein, too.)

I prepared for #2 – well, I didn’t.

It was a holiday party. I decided that just jeans and a t-shirt would not be enough, although honestly, people wear jeans and t-shirts to the theatre here.

Wisconsin is not formal.

But I thought at least a skirt and a sweater and some jewelry and a festive scarf. The scarf not so much for decor, though, as for a portable dynamic warming device that can be used to cover whichever part of my body needs more warmth.

We arrived. The host extended his hand for my coat. I took it off, waited, thought, “It’s warm in here!”, and gave it to him optimistically.

Then I ate as one does.

Then I looked for someone I might know so I could pretend to be happy conversing on a Friday night instead of being at home with a book.

And I did find lovely people to talk to – I just need to be able to clone myself so I can be at a party and at home at the same time.

And then I noticed I was getting cold.

How could that be?

It was warm when I arrived. I had marveled that I was able to be wearing only one layer indoors and yet be warm enough. I had marveled at the women who had exposed shoulders, a daring choice even in the summer here.

(At work, I am known as The Woman Who Always Is Wearing Her Winter Coat Indoors.)

(Right not, at home, I am wearing my pajamas, my fluffy robe, my fluffy socks, and my fluffy slippers, and I am still cold.)

But now? Now I was cold. How could that be?

Like, I was cold and felt a draft.

Because the porch door was open.

People. It was 22 degrees.

And the door was open.

Who does that?

I said something and got the answer, “The beer’s on the porch!”

I answered, “If only there were a way to allow people to go from indoors to outdoors without letting all the warm out!”

“But it’s too warm in here!” was the answer.

I asked a few other people if they were cold.


Only me.

The porch door was open and, it turns out, the kitchen window was open as well.

This is not my place.

I mean, Wisconsin is not my place and that house was not my place.

So I went into the bedroom, got my coat, and counted the minutes until we left. It took my feet an hour to get warm once we were home.

No. More. Parties.

I am done.


I am losing my Texan-ess!

If I can’t say the words right, will they let me back in?


You guys, this is really disturbing.

I have forgotten how to speak properly.

I listened to this Texas Monthly podcast. The official topic is an interview with the historian H.W. Brands and how we appreciate presidents more after they leave office.

But the important part was when he said this:

What Makes a Texan a Texan

I’ve lived in Texas since 1981. I got here when I was 27. And I’ll be quite honest and say I don’t consider myself a Texan. I’ve observed this in my children. I’ve observed in other people. And my conclusion is that to think like a Texan, to feel like a Texan, you have to get here by seventh grade. You have to take that seventh grade Texas history class, because you have to know what you have to know to be a Texan and you have to learn the culture—the transmitted mythology of Texas. I think it’s not at all a coincidence that that seventh grade Texas history class comes at the time in young peoples’ lives when they’re getting confirmed in the Catholic church or Bar Mitzvah’d in Jewish faith. It’s a your coming-of-age as a Texan.

I lived in Texas when I was in 7th grade. I had 7th-grade Texas history.

I am a Texan.

But – I am losing my Texan-ess!


College friend who is a lifelong Texan: Here’s one test: pronounce ‘Bowie’

Me: “BOW (bow and arrow) – ee.”

Me: At least, that’s how we pronounced it for Bowie Elementary, which I attended for the second half of fifth grade and where I learned the entire Carpenters’ songbook because every week for music, my teacher would hand out mimeos of the lyrics, put on the record, and lead us singing with Karen.

CF: Hmmm. Acceptable but not preferred. When used with knife, Texans say ‘boo-ee’ rather than Boh-ee from its namesake James

CF: An excellent reason! Also David Bowie 😁

Me: Remember I was forced to leave Texas in 1993 when I couldn’t find a job. So I am not up to date. (Another Texas Monthly podcast about how to pronounce “Bowie”)

CF: Laughing at the Carpenters’ songbook. And mimeos

Me: That smell.

CF: Right?

Me: And maybe we did call it “BOO-ee!” It’s been a while! [Junior High friend who went to same elementary school], do you remember?

JHF: Boo Eee

Me: Oh no! I HAVE LOST MY TEXAN-ESS! I need to get back IMMEDIATELY.


In the Zombie Apocalypse, I will be fine, don’t y’all worry

Have you made your plans for the Zombie Apocalypse? I have and this is maybe the only reason I would be willing to endure Wisconsin winter

This, my friends, is Lake Michigan. A huge body of fresh water.

If it comes, I am ready. I have The Skills.

Co-worker Clara: When the Zombie Apocalypse comes, [husband] and I are ready.

Me: How so?

Clara: His family has property in the UP. We’ll have what we need: shelter, fuel, fresh water, venison and other game.

Me: Yeah, but what happens when you run out of matches?

Clara: Um. I’m an archaeologist and worked in the field for seven years. I can make fire with a stick.

Me: What happens when you run out of bullets?

Clara: I can make arrowheads.

[NB Yes, Clara is truly awesome.]

Other co-worker Hal: I want to come!

Clara: What can you do?

Hal: My dad and my brother are union carpenters and they have taught me. I can build anything. And I can do wiring, too.

Clara: OK.

Hal: And my wife is a veterinary technician, so she could probably do surgery on people if she had to.

Clara: Definitely, then. Bring her along.

Me: Can I come?

Clara: What can you do?

Me: I can knit? And sew? And crochet?

Clara: Hmmm.

Me: And, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I discovered I can make brownies under any circumstances.

Clara: OK. You’re in.

We Are of The Tribe of We Who Do Not Waste

Sometimes, even I cannot Clean My Plate and trust me, I try

This photo is from our trip to Spain. I did not have Tupperware with me, which made me sad. So we just ate everything. 

I don’t think this is a uniquely Wisconsin trait, but I don’t recall seeing it elsewhere.

Of course, I myself never employed it elsewhere. It never occurred to me until I was here.

Restaurants serve huge portions


Wisconsin is not one of the fattest states – runs to the google – hmmm. Number 21. Which is not really “one of the fattest” but more “in the middle of the pack but still supports my point, which is THE FOOD HERE IS REALLY GOOD.

Cheese curds. Fried cheese curds. Frozen custard. (Which is ice cream but with more fat.) Cheese, cheese, cheese. Kringle, I suppose, although I have a little bit of it maybe once a year when someone brings a kringle to work. (I have very good self control at the store when I see prices.) Cream puffs, which are also a once a year thing at the state fair, which, unlike the Texas state fair, happens in the summer and has nothing to do with football and everything to do with food. Summer sausage. Bratwurst.

I will have to tell you all about my cousin’s venison sausage. Being related to people who make sausage for a living is a very good thing, you guys.

Anyhow. Lots of really good food + huge portions + We Don’t Waste = leftovers.

So a few years ago, Marido and I got half-price tickets (because half price is why) to the chili cookoff.

With each ticket, we would get eight three-ounce samples.

That is 48 ounces of chili.

Which is a lot.

So I took a bunch of little Tupperwares.

And steeled myself for disdainful looks of Can You Believe The Tacky?

I should have known. In the only city in the US to run a surplus during the Depression (although this story may not be exactly truthful), I would not be alone.

Every time I opened a little Tupperware and spooned chili into it, someone would look at me and say, “I wish I’d thought of that!”

I am with My People.


I’ve been meaning to write about the Packers

And I will write about my friend’s mom’s Packers rosary, but first this

If you’re not following the Manitowoc Minute, go there right now. You will not be sorry

The Packers play the Bears tomorrow. I don’t think the Cowboys have a rival like the Bears. I would consider this to be more akin to the Longhorns-Aggies deal.

And yes – I am perfectly happy for it to become law that Texas and A&M have to play each other every year. I miss the Southwest Conference.

Nobody up here understands Aggie jokes.

When “ito” isn’t “ito”

I call my cat “Gordita” because I love her


I have been trying to explain the concept of “ito” to Marido.

Sometimes it literally means “little.”

Sometimes it means “cute,” like, “Gordita” for the cat.

And sometimes it means – hmmm.

Marido: So a “cafecito” is a very small cup of coffee?

Me: No! It’s a regular-sized cup of coffee!

Marido: But ito!

Me: It conveys a sense of intimacy and friendship and coziness

Then he got it – a nice little coffee between friends.

Then I reported on a radio ad I heard: “Solo un dolarito!”

Marido: But – a dollar is a dollar! There is no such thing as a little dollar! It’s still one hundred cents!

Me: But it’s just one little dollar!

Marido: Dolarito!


Then he saw this display at the folk fair.

“NOPALITOS!” he said.

But the best one was the message my co-worker in Madrid sent about meeting for lunch when Marido and I go to Spain – the message about “paellita.”

We are going to have a little fun lunch and eat paella. Pero mucho paella. Mucho.

Upper Midwest Makeup Tricks

The topic of pantyhose will be addressed in a future post, but – my Southern sisters? We don’t wear hose up here for style.


Before I moved to Wisconsin, I had A Winter Coat.


One. Winter. Coat.

Because that’s what I needed. That’s what a person needs in Texas and in Memphis.

Then I moved here and discovered that One Winter Coat Is Not Enough.

You guys – it’s cold here.

I discovered that you don’t care how ugly a coat or a hat is as long as you are warm.

I discovered that coats are rated for certain temperatures and if you take the bus to work that you want a coat rated for 15 below zero.

You have the Waiting At The Bus Stop Coat and you have the It’s Not Quite Spring Yet Coat and you have the We’re Going Someplace Nice Coat (which is never warm enough).

Underneath the coat, if you are waiting at the bus stop, you wear fleece-lined tights underneath and sweatpants on top. The sweatpants are removed once you get to work but the fleece-lined tights stay.

This is how it happens in Milwaukee. It’s probably different in Spendthrift Chicago, where the second you walk into a public building,  you start tearing your clothes off because it’s so hot.

In German Milwaukee, buildings are cold. Behind every thermostat is a grandmother shaking her head and saying, “Just put on a sweater.”

I need to point out that the German grandma telling you to put on a sweater is very different from the Cuban abuela telling you the same thing.

The abuela is worried you will catch your death of cold.

The German is worried you will increase the heating bill.

Why did I even start writing this?

Oh. Because I wanted to talk about what else needs to happen when it’s cold.

You probably put your makeup on at home. If you put it on in the car – which is the easy way to do it because you can actually see your eyes when you are sticking sharp things near them, you can do that easily, too.

Now put your mascara in the freezer for a few hours and then try to apply it.


Now you know why since the beginning of November, every morning when I get my keys out of my purse to walk out of the house, I stick my mascara in my bra.

For purposes of the photo, I put the mascara in my boot.

(My snow boot.)(One of several pairs of winter boots that I own.)

It takes at least ten minutes of body heat to get the mascara warm enough to apply.


?Hey baby que pasó?

There’s no basement at the ALAMO!

OK, the Alamo reference isn’t relevant, but I think it’s funny. It’s been how many years since that movie came out? Thirty? Forty?

Il y a longtemps.

Anyhow. I told you I would tell you the vato story.

It involves my ?Que hora es? Mexican co-worker, Carlos.

As one does, I was humming, “Hey baby que pasó?”

And then I asked Carlos what a vato was.

He told me it was like – like – like – like dude!

And I said, “So a vata is a girl dude?”

And he was so shocked that he couldn’t speak.

Finally,  he gasped, “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A VATA!”

And I said, “There is now.”

You know what else?

There is also a jefa.

I have also decided that marida is a word, even though google translate says it is not and even though my co-workers in Chile thought I was so, so wrong for saying it’s a word.

What’s sauce for the marido is sauce for the marida, I say.

O=male and A=female.

So now, my best work friend (and great life friend) K is My Favorite Vata.

Which makes Carlos a little bit loco but Hey baby this is que pasó.