The Best of the Me 2015

this year’s Best of the Mike Paulus Poll was a craa-zee!

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

The votes are in, the polls have been slammed shut, and the tallies have been tilly-tallied. So it’s with great pleasure and excitement that I present to you the results of my 2015 Best of the Mike Paulus Poll wherein I polled only myself. Strenuously. There might be a few surprise winners on this year’s list, so hold on to your pants, and remember – as with previous years, this year’s voting was 100 percent subjective and 200 percent self indulgent. Let’s get to it!

Most Peaceful Stroll Destroyed by the Sweet Sounds of Progress

Winner: Walking along the bike trail curving through Phoenix Park

The workforce of Downtown Eau Claire is no stranger to loud noises this summer. Between building construction and road recombobulation, we’ve all had our fair share of skull-rattling audio. But worst of all for Mike Paulus was the metallic, jackhammer-like ear attack broadcast from next to Phoenix Park. Right across the Eau Claire River from the Chippewa River State Trail Trailhead is Haymarket Landing – site of the Little Retaining Wall the Couldn’t. After this wall began crumbing into the river, crews began repairing it with a (totally awesome) barge-based crane. Part of this crane’s job was to form a new wall by driving giant steal beams down into the shoreline, right to the bedrock, with some kind of whack-a-doodle hammering thingamajig (actual name). And boy, was it loud. It was bad enough from blocks away where I work, but my usual lunchtime saunters along our inner city waterways were an absolute catastrophe. Downright irksome, I’d say. However, if one could plug one’s ears (as I can) one could see some relatively cool construction work happening (as I did). Small price to pay for what’s being built.

Most Oddly Mesmerizing Letters

Winner: “The Big Eaux”

Last July, there were a bunch of concerts in a field outside of town, and they called it the “Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival.” On one side of the field, they’d propped up these giant white capital letters: E A U X C L A I R E S. And then at night they projected all kinds of crazy video and light textures onto the letters, and I’ll be damned if the effect wasn’t hypnotastic. I just stood there in the dark with a bunch of sweaty, goofy-haired post-hipster hipsters ... gawking. It was great.

Best Blueberries

Winner: Augusta Blueberries

If you like picking your own berries (and why the hell wouldn’t you?) the joys of picking blueberries in early September are hard to beat. As my family learned, the bushes out at Augusta Blueberries were bursting with blue bounty well past August this year, which meant cool air, warm sun, no bugs, and insane amounts of giant, easy-to-snag berries at a fantastic price. ’Twas off the hook, berry-wise. I wouldn’t have been surprised if little berry fairies popped from the bushes to pelt us with their delicious fruit balls. It was that amazing.

Best Use of Origami

Winner: The “free origami stand” my kids set up

So last spring, in lieu of mixing up some lemonade and trying to sell it from a sidewalk-based stand, my kids set up a small table in the front lawn, made a quick sign, and opened up an Origami Stand. The sign read “ORIGAMI is free here! Here are your options: Cootie Catcher, Dog, Horse, Butterfly, Santa, Balloon, Piano, Fluttering Butterfly ... And if you want, I can do two!” They didn’t see a lot of foot traffic that day, but a number of gracious neighbors got some pretty kickass Fluttering Butterflies to take home. Now, I’m not bringing this up to brag about how awesome my kids are, but I’m totally bringing this up to brag about how awesome my kids are. Deal with it.

(I’d also like to point out that neither of my kids gets their artistic inclinations nor their philanthropic leanings from me. That’s all their mother’s work. I’ll take credit for their love of donuts and chicken nuggets, though).

Best Snowblower

Winner: My neighbor Brad’s

What makes my neighbor Brad’s snowblower so great? The fact that it somehow consistently removes snow from my driveway all winter long, often before I’m even out of bed in the morning, that’s what.

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