Thursday, July 12, 2012

A guy walks into a bar..wait..that's a bakery

Let’s call him Andy, for starters. He’s a special educator, hates his job, saves his money and quits. He’s never been to Ireland, where his parents are from, so he finds a cheap flight and gets on the plane. The answer for his dead-end life, he thinks, is finding an Irish wife. Maybe he has read Thomas D’Arcy McGee’s poem, “The Irish Wife,” with the stanza:

My Irish wife has clear blue eyes,
  My heaven by day, my stars by night;

And twin-like truth and fondness lie
  Within her swelling bosom white

My Irish wife has golden hair,

  Apollo’s harp had once such strings,
Apollo’s self might pause to hear
  Her bird-like carol when she sings.

Or maybe he knows the Irish are known for story-telling, a sense of humor and love of family. Their hearts are warm, their dispositions happy. Irish women make tasty Irish stews, corned beef and cabbage and soda bread. And an Irish woman can hold her whisky.

So, where does one find an Irish wife? A pub, of course. In Galway he searches out a nightclub and has himself a Guinness while he looks around. A redhead catches his eye. He asks her to dance. She’s not bad looking, a spark in her eye. When they take a break from the dance floor, he tries to make conversation, but she obviously isn’t entranced by the Yank. She does, however, give him a good tip. Make sure you go to Griffin’s Bakery. Their motto is “Half a loaf is better than being without bread.” The Irish gal has given him half a loaf, but he’s still hungry.

The next day he stumbles into Griffin’s and orders an apple turnover. The counter girl is fresh-face pretty, her brown hair cropped short under a silly baker's cap, her eyes not blue but a captivating hazel. When he asks how much for the turnover, she answers with a strange accent. Not Irish—he’s disappointed. He’s a Massachusetts boy, but this girl is no Yankee. He has to ask. Georgia, she says. Not Russian Georgia. Southern States Georgia.

What are the chances a New England boy will find himself face-to-face across an Irish bakery counter looking straight at a girl from Georgia? A girl named not Fiona or Colleen or Sinead..but Laura? Sometimes it’s better not to ask questions. It’s better to eat pastries.

And so he does. Every day. When he starts putting on weight, Laura takes pity on him and asks if he wants to hang out after work. He does.

Turns out, Laura escaped to Ireland for a five-month Celtic experience. Andy was crashing with Galway friends for a few months. Long enough to fall in love. And love takes this serious educator back to the States and down the east coast to Athens, Georgia. Three years ago he married that bakery lady, and now she’s his heaven by day, his stars at night. Four days ago Laura discovered that she’s pregnant. They are ecstatic. Last night they stayed in the treehouse. H and I are ecstatic.

I didn’t make apple turnovers for breakfast, but we’re serving blueberry muffins. And cheese omelets. And strawberries, melon and kiwi. All in the name of love.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Treehouse Haunts

Now that Fern Forest Treehouse has taken a bite out of the Apple (check out the web developers video at, it’s time to polish up the old blog again. Our most recent guests were Alexandra and Mike from west of Boston. Alexandra was living in Manhattan as a set designer and traveled with a touring production of The King and I, which landed in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mike, a Green Bay local, happened to be filling in backstage on the same show. Alexandra saw him. She gave him orders. He did what she told him. Then she noticed. He was awfully good looking. Uh-huh.

Mike is a self-starter. When he was 17, he started a haunted house design business, building haunting displays, hiring actors to put on gory makeup and scare people. He had no plans to leave Wisconsin, so Alexandra gave up her New York apartment and moved to Green Bay, no easy task for a die-hard Patriots fan. She never took to the Packers, but Mike forgave her.

His haunted house business grew (check out, and he’s now involved with three companies, managing one that builds haunts in the U.S. and internationally. His displays are so scary that one huge football player fell to the floor in fright while his petite girlfriend stood giggling at the ghouls. Mike’s an outdoors kind of guy who fly fishes from his kayak when he’s not plotting scary sets.

Alexandra grew up outside Boston and missed her family. She also missed the Patriots. A dozen years earlier, she had put her name on the list for season tickets, and when her turn came, she convinced Mike to move east. They now live in a condo near her parents. Mike tries to be a Pats fan, but he can’t compete with Alexandra in enthusiasm. When she won an auction for a Pats helmet, Randy Moss signed it, which Mike took as an insult, considering that Moss had mooned the Green Bay crowd after running thirty yards to score a TD when he played for the Vikings. But he forgave her again.

I can’t blame him. Alexandra is pretty in an unmadeup way. She’s fashionably slender with enough dark tresses to toss over a shoulder. She now teaches yoga classes for children and moms in Southboro (see Mike is robust, a half sleeve of tattoos on his right arm (images of spooky houses, of course) and another tattoo on the calf that shows under his cargo shorts. He wears hiking boots and looks as if he’s ready for anything.

When I told the couple about moose and bear sightings around Fern Forest, Mike said, “Don’t worry. Animals don’t come near me.” Maybe they sense Mike’s profession and keep their distance. Alexandra’s brother, who works with her father in the auto body field, replaced letters on his Pathfinder to read “Wrathfinder.” I wouldn’t mess with Mike, but I might trust him with my life, if things came down to it.