Barn Raising

As I mentioned a few days ago I’ve been helping get my father in law’s house wheelchair ready so he can can come home from the rehab facility. When she who must be obeyed asked if I’d like to up to Northern Michigan, the upper peninsula to be exact (Yes, that makes my wife a yooper) to help on this project I assumed it would be a two or three day trip. Four at the outside. One week later I’m still here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, much.  Building things with your hands can be fun and rewarding. It’s pretty satisfying finishing a job, stepping back and saying “I did that” It’s also been fun working with my wife’s family (also a bunch of Finnish Yoopers). It’s been sort of like a Amish barn raising where the men do all the work and the women make the food and clean up the construction mess after. Except that instead of cooking and cleaning they went shopping for cute things to put in the new bathroom and found lots of other projects for us men to do that had nothing to do with the original mission.

The other big difference between the Yoopers and the Amish is that at he end of the day instead of having dinner  and bible study by candlelight, us men, us manly men, head to the sauna for beers and smart talk. The Yoopers are serious about their saunas. I learned that when Cathy invited me up to the Great White North to meet her parents for the first time. It was a normal kind of “meet the parents” weekend. It started out with a pre-dawn country breakfast followed by a long walk deep into the woods with Cathy’s father, brother, and uncle, all of them carrying guns. Hmmm. OK, to be fair, I was armed too because we were deer hunting but it’s still unnerving to have the father of the girl you’re sleeping with walking behind you with a loaded rifle. Accidents happen, you know? But no one died that day, including deer, and afterwards I was invited to join the guys for an evening sauna. I grabbed my swim suit and walked into the dressing room where the guys were undressing. It was then that I noticed that I was the only one who’d brought anything to wear in the sauna. Great. But immediately felt better when one of the naked men handed me two beers for to help with the bonding. Yep, guns, beer, and sweaty naked guys, a perfect way to get to know your future father in law.

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