Random bits of my so-called life.

Pig Roast

March 20th, 2018 by kayak woman

Do you ever get nostalgic for the days when you handed your teenaged / young 20-something children your debit card (and / or car)? *Did* you lend your debit card and / or car to your kids?

I did. And I really *am* nostalgic for those days. I *never* worried that they would use my debit card for nefarious purposes and they never did. A lot of the time, they were actually out buying groceries and things for *meeee*! My card got lost a couple times but I just canceled it and moved on. *I* have lost my own debit card! I probably worried more about the car but that was mainly because driving in traffic (and/or “weather”) can be so darn dangerous. I knew they were good, defensive drivers but I don’t trust other drivers and we all make mistakes, no matter how careful we are.

I like to buy things for my kids. I wouldn’t be singing this song if they were constantly hitting me up for rent, etc., but they manage their own finances with aplomb so if I step in to pay for something, it’s because I *want* to. Restaurants are my best example. I always try to grab the check. When I do this, I am honoring my own parents.

My parents *always* paid for the restaurant meals I (and my family) shared with them until the last couple years of The Commander’s life. The Comm was “with it” until the end but at a certain point her thought processes became a little slower and it was easier for me to just pay the bill. And I did, with my own money and with no regrets. Thanks in part to the life experiences and support my parents provided me throughout my life, I could well afford to pay by that time. Orange heart 🧡

Teenagers and 20-somethings eventually become 30-somethings and don’t need to take their mom’s debit card to the beer grocery store, but the other day, I handed one of my beach urchins my debit card to walk over and buy some beer, because we were totally *out* of beer. And then we *both* forgot about the card and she accidentally took it home with her and when we figgered that out I said I didn’t think I needed it this week. But then I went to buy orange juice today and. uh. I do not have a debit card. Or any cash. I do have two *credit* cards but I *never* use them and, guess what? They did not work… Probably because I never use them… So I had to leave my groceries behind.

It’s okay, I’ll get my debit card back soon and the GG gave me enough cash to get me through until then. And the next time a daughter comes over and I send her out to buy beer, I’ll give her my debit card again. And I’ll be trying to snag restaurant checks until I can no longer manage to do that. Because orange heart 🧡.

Wood Smoke, Man Colds, and Orange Hearts Forever 🧡

March 19th, 2018 by kayak woman

I carried the smell of wood smoke to work with me today. It was in my jacket and scarf. I love the smell of wood smoke and, unlike cigarette smoke, I don’t mind if it gets into my clothes. Although I will have to wash my smartwool jacket soon. It is musheen washable with care: COLD, delicate, line dry (for best results). I can do all that. There was stuff about ironing it but I will NOT be ironing my jacket. Whyyyyy?

We are almost out of orange juice today. I figgered the GG would notice about that and schlep out for OJ. He has turned into a pretty darn good supplier of breakfast-y type food and drink, so much so that I don’t really have to think about whether or not we have eggs or English muffins or orange juice. If I want to Drive Bacon, I usually have to obtain it myself but I don’t eat bacon all that often. That said, note to self: try some of Sparrow’s duck bacon one of these days.

Anyway, I got home and the door was kinda pulled shut and the GG issued some sort of guttural-sounding hello when I came in. I couldn’t figger out where he was at first. It didn’t sound like he was in the Man Cave or the Bureau of ATF. This may start sounding like Outlander. Where is he? Over a cliff with some sort of life-threatening injury that’ll be dicey to fix back in the 18th century?

Of course not. It turned out the GG was pretty comfortably ensconced over in the Extra Bedroom reading something on his Kindle. He was suffering from a Man Cold. He didn’t go out all day. I noticed in the middle of the night that something might be up with all the snuffling noises and then he kept saying Ouch in his sleep (or not). I couldn’t figger the ouch thing out but know now that it was a sore throat. So, I will make do by mixing the scrap of OJ that is left with cran juice tomorrow morning and we’ll figger out how to get more OJ then. The GG is vertical for now and taking a wee bit of bourbon, which probably means he isn’t deathly ill. Still, I hope I don’t get his cold.

Orange heart? 🧡 Orange heart? 🧡 Orange heart orange heart orange heart? 🧡🧡🧡 There is an orange heart emoji now. I think that is new. I can still remember learning the rainbow colors in kindergarten. I was entranced. I hate when one of them is left out and that is usually orange. Orange is an underrated color. It is not the best color for *me* to *wear* except maybe as an accent on Halloween but it is a beautiful color.

The photoooo is of Mouse’s hands holding a leaf with a wee jawbone. She found this in her pocketses yesterday afternoon after a jaunt in one of our county preserves. Isn’t it cute? I’m sure some of you are glad I didn’t post the pic she sent of the big (dead) snake someone slung over a tree branch. Quite some discussion ensued about what kind of snake it was but I THINK we sorta settled on garter snake. Not poisonous in any case. The Great Lakes State’s only poisonous snake is the Massasauga Rattler and they are around southeast Michigan but rarely encountered.

G’night and Orange Hearts to all 🧡🧡🧡

Hangit around

March 18th, 2018 by kayak woman

Nothing like sitting at a table in a restaurant and looking at various versions of your own face all the way around. That was lunch with a whole bunch of MacMu cousins and my remaining MacMu uncle, The Commander’s youngest sibling, who has beat out The Comm, as he is turning 92 tomorrow. The Comm made it to 91. He is five years younger than her and was born a bit prematurely and she remembered that he was small enough to fit in a shoebox when they brought him home. He is now wheelchair bound and has difficulty communicating with fluency but he is definitely all there and pretty darn cagey about snagging a beer (or two…).

We met up with him and his three children and our cousin Teri at the Sidetrack over in Ypsi and I had the GG drop me off at the Plum Market on the way home so I could pick up some more items for our own little dinner party with our kids and friends. The plan was to continue burning the Brush Pile in the back yard and it was warm enough today (56?) that I did not need my balaclava at all. As it turned out, the faaaaar from yesterday’s brush burning did not extinguish itself overnight. We have all been taught to extinguish outdoor faaaaars completely and that is good advice but our little overnight faaaar was probably not much of a threat in our suburban back yard, where the ground is wet and squishy as all get out now that our holy backyard glacier is finally melting.

Oh dear, it was such a beautiful, fun weekend that I pretty much totally fergot about my war with xml help pages. It’s Sunday night and I will be back at it tomorrow. My cousins (from today) are all in various stages of retaaarment. Retired, semi-retired, thinking about it, whatever. I am not there yet. I have not followed a “traditional” career path and for now I love my work too much to quit. And so to bed and up early tomorrow. Ho hum and hi ho.

Holy backyard glacier

March 17th, 2018 by kayak woman

This is the first time I have sat outside since sometime last fall. I can’t remember when. It got pretty warm today (like 47 or something) but I was sitting out there wearing most of my winter walking regalia, including a long wool skirt (over other layers), a balaclava, and my ultra-light Smartwool winter jacket. Oh, and a blanket at the ready. I did not need all of that stuff walking downtown today. I didn’t need all of that stuff when I first went outside. But I was *sitting* and as the sun sunk lower over in the west, I was glad I had all of it. I didn’t ever have to use the blanket and no one snowP’d their name in our own personal glacier. At least not this afternoon. Being female, whenever I snowP, I can only make random yellow holes in the snow.

Apparently, here on the Planet Ann Arbor, Conor O’Neill’s opens at 7:00 AM on St. Patrick’s Day and charges a $10 cover charge just to get in the door. Scuttlebutt has it that there was a line of people waiting to get in to Conor O’Neill’s that stretched around the block at 7:00 this morning. I love Conor O’Neill’s but…

We did a version of our usual Saturday Planet Ann Arbor thing, Farmers Market in the morning, then a walk down to the Grizzly Peak for lunch with our fave bartender there. We got to the Griz a wee bit earlier than usual because I figgered that on a beautiful sunny kinda-warm St. Patrick’s Day it would be busy and it was. Bar seats were still available when we got there. When we left, the place was a zoo. We walked by Conor O’Neill’s on the way to the bus and there was definitely a line out the door but it didn’t go around the corner. St. Patrick’s Day is fun but I’m not sure you have to go to an Irish pub to find the fun but whatever.

Anyway, we got to the Blake Transit Center about a minute before bus 31 came along so we took that thing out to the Plum Market and walked home from there.

And then, the GG got involved in burning various pieces of brush and whatever and I went and sat outside next to the mini-glacier.

We’ve got more to burn tomorrow. Love.

Wearin’ o’ th’ Greeeeeen

March 16th, 2018 by kayak woman

Somehow I actually remembered that I needed to schlep Froooooggy down to the Oscar Tango tonight. It is after all, the day before St. Paddy’s Day and I knew that my greeeeen friend would be upset if I didn’t haul him down there in all of his fancy greeeeen regalia.

But then when I got home from Cubelandia, I could not find him! Last I remembered I had placed him in his usual position next to Green Guy on the back of the Green Couch. I texted the GG: Do you have Froggy? No, he did not. Where could he be? I walked into the back room and immediately spotted him sitting with Turnstile the seal. Oh yeah, MOUSE was over here for dinner on Monday.

I stuffed Froggy into my backpack along with his green tutu and two pairs of 4-leaf-clover glasses and deely-bobbers to match and schlepped downtown to the Oscar Tango. And the pic is what you get when your dinner company steals your frog’s St. Patrick’s Day accoutrements. It was also hilarious that our lovely wait-person Liz *remembered* Froggy from previous years and was excited to see him.

I am kinda done done done. I left work a weeee bit early today after winning a small battle in the war between Kayak Woman and xml help pages. I may need a developer to help me with this before I am through with it but I am too stubborn to be at that point yet.

G’night, –KW

Oh darn!

March 15th, 2018 by kayak woman

So I got home from Cubelandia this afternoon and rolled the handy-dandy Planet Ann Arbor garbage cart down to the curb, flung a garment or two, threw a load of laundry in, and faaared up my MacBook Pro. And. My blahg was down! I wasn’t worried at all. I figgered it was either some sort of temporary glitch with the host that would resolve itself or the Guru would be *on* it ASAP. (Note that the Guru ≠ the GG. The GG is a computer scientist and he can do a lot of things but he has nothing to do with the guts behind my blahg.)

Actually, for a few minutes I felt freedom! Maybe I will get a day off from blahgging? So I was almost kind of hoping the blahg would stay down for a while. When I refreshed it again 15 minutes later, it loaded right up and I thought, “Oh darn!” I had been hoping for a break but I didn’t get one. (I’m sure a few of y’all might wish I would take one 🐽)

It is not easy to commit to writing a daily blahg entry. Some days mark an occasion or event of some sort. Some come with a good story, like the time we got hit by a tornado on the NB I75 SUV Speedway (except that was 1997 and I wasn’t blahgging yet but I did write it up in the Hoton Lake log). Some days I am struck by a memory or photo that inspires a story. Some days a bunch of lightly captioned photos tell the story. Some days I have absolutely NOTHING to talk about and then something totally bizarre happens and I am rolling. Some days I just plain have nothing.

I have been doing this blahg almost every day for almost 15 years. Why do I do it? For one thing, it’s a wee bit of my minor tendencies toward OCD that I have not been able to shove into a corner. For another, people I don’t see every day occasionally wonder where I am if I don’t post something. I now roll with random service outages or trips to places like Tahq where there is NO service, letting people who might care know what’s going on. I have learned to think of those little breaks from blahgging as a chance to relax just a bit.

Today I guess the momentary outage found my topic for me, allowing me to randomly Navel Gaze to my heart’s content. You’re welcome 🐽.

Oh yeah! I was NOT blahgging in today’s photoooo. That is an Apple II+. I *think* the pic is from our old Jackson Ave. apartment. I was either futzing around with Excel VisiCalc or writing programs in the Basic programming language that was easily available on those old musheens. I was definitely not playing Space Eggs or Sticky Bear ABC.

Colored lamp evolution

March 14th, 2018 by kayak woman

I wish I had a bigger pic of this but I do not. [Delete long rant about saving original photos, not just the optimized ones.]

This photoooo was taken the first weekend that the new version of the CFam cabin at Houghton Lake was habitable enough to stay at for a weekend. It was early May 2005. Central heat and hot showers were among the amenities. The floor was not finished. We went out to Home Depot to buy various hardware and lucky-shuckial things. When we encountered This Lamp, we both stopped dead in our tracks and bought it! I mean, when the GG and I agree on something like that instantaneously, it is a done deal. Oh, don’t worry, it was only something like $30 or so. A Cheapie, as The Commander used to say.

The lamp looks good in that bare bones version of the cabin but in the long run it wasn’t the right thing so we took it home. And then a few years later, my cousin Uber Kayak Woman began traveling to Michigan more frequently to see Radical Betty (her mother) and at one point she was down here at the Landfill to catch a flight outta Metro and and and… It turned out that she ALSO owned that lamp and, like me, had bought it on a whim during a trip to Home Depot. I was thunderstruck. We are not alike in so many ways… and… yet… we are…

Somehow or other, we ended up with THREE of those lamps. I’m thinking maybe Mouse had one for a while but I can’t remember. At any rate, I loved them dearly until I didn’t. It was sudden. I think it was before we got LED bulbs for our existing lamps so that we could change the color via our iPhones but I’m not sure. I can’t remember if I was simply sick to death of floor lamps or what. Well, I do hate floor lamps but now we have all of the floor lamps The Commander had in her house. I want to get rid of them. I am meeting resistance. Sigh.

At any rate, those lamps were in fact Cheapies and I fergit what The Pensioner did with them but they did disappear and I am happy about that.

21st century still life with Stormy Kromer

March 13th, 2018 by kayak woman

I can’t decide whether to call today Rabbit-hole Hopping or Whack-a-Mole. And then there were the tailgaters.

Tailgating? In snow? There wasn’t a lot of snow and the surface roads I take to work seemed pretty okay but I (and MOST other folks) were going a wee bit below the speed limit. Not much, 2-5 mph or thereabouts. I had tailgaters ALL THE WAY over there, even though the folks IN FRONT OF ME were going about the same speed I was. THREE times, some a**hole tailgater indignantly revved his engines and passed me. The last of these squealed around me on squiggly little Tech Drive in our business park so he could make the left turn onto Data Drive, also my turn, a couple seconds before me. Fortunately, he turned into Truck Hero, meaning he wasn’t somebody I work with, which would be really awkward. I hope he was happy. I didn’t much care if I held him up. I was going exactly the speed limit (25) and did NOT want to spend the morning figuring out how to get me and my vee-hickle out of a pond. Jeebus.

As it turned out, slow and steady won the race for many folks. Nikio texted that she was stuck in traffic on the freeway. I checked maps and yes, the freeways that ring The Planet Ann Arbor were totally red and there were accidents all over the place. People. Slow down and keep a safe distance! Old Man Winter is still throwing snowballs at us.

We won’t talk about the Rabbit-hole Hopping or Whack-a-mole. That’s what I did all day and I could not describe it to y’all if I tried. Suffice it to say it involves the most convoluted Old-Skool javascript you could imagine and an attempt to drag our product into html5. I am a good programmer, albeit one who was often tearing her hair out today. I am not bragging. Actually, I don’t know why more women are not working in the IT biz as programmers/developers but that’s a subject for another day. To be clear, I am not currently *employed* as a programmer or developer, but my business systems analyst job often involves debugging crappy old javascript and I am more than equal to the task.

Finally, I struggle (or not) to understand why anyone would name their child after Donald Trump, especially an Afghan family (google it). I am not in any way shape or form a Trump supporter but I acknowledge that he has a lot of supporters in his “base” (whatever that means) and I will guess that many children in our beautiful country are being named after him. I kind of wonder how those children will regard their names as they grow into independent teenagers/adults with their own thoughts and opinions. As a child who was named something I don’t particularly like and as a mother who named a child something she doesn’t particularly like, I think the answer will be all over the map.

A small minority

March 12th, 2018 by kayak woman

Monday is always Monday but *this* Monday happened to be the Monday after our annual switch to daylight savings time. Everybody except me was kvetching at our daily stand-up this morning. Well, I may have been kvetching but I was not kvetching about DST. I know I am in a small minority of people who like the change to and from standard to daylight savings time.

Instead, I told a story. You know the one. Back when I was a kid I had to walk 8 miles to and from school through big snowdrifts and it was uphill both ways.

Okay, that wasn’t the story I told, although schlepping to school in Sault Ste. Siberia in the winter could be a slodge. We didn’t *close* the schools in those days. If the weather was bad, the kids that got bused in from the country missed school that day. All of us town kids walked to school as usual. No buses. Two feet of snow? Glare ice? Keep on truckin’.

We’ll talk some other day about what it was like to walk to school when the temperature (and I DO NOT mean the wind chill) was 32 below zero in a miniskirt with nylon stockings and a cute but not-warm fake leopard fur coat and some sort of silly hat. I did get a good laugh today when I told my colleagues that when I was a teenager, my appearance was more important to me than warmth.

Today let’s talk about the year that some politician decided it would be a good idea to change the entire yooperland over to the Central Time Zone. That equals year-round DST, which is what I THINK people are discussing in various states now. If you’ve ever looked at a map of Michigan – I mean a map that shows BOTH peninsulas, not all maps do – you might be able to see that the *upper* peninsula (aka the yooperland) extends waaaaay west. There are parts of the western UP that *are* in the Central Zone. That makes sense. Sault Ste. Siberia (look up the map) is waaaaaaaay over in the eastern UP, more or less directly north of Detroit.

My main memory of living through the winter of Central Time Zone was that the sun did not rise until sometime after *9* AM. Like maybe 9:20 or so? Fortunately, that experiment got scrapped after that year. Our politicians made a good decision for once. Some of the far western yooperland counties used Central Time before and after the experiment, as they should.

Why do I like switching time? I like the “midnight” sun in the summer. I like the early dark of winter evenings. I actually like the switch! I don’t think I can put that into words. I know that people struggle with SAD and that the time change is hard for kids and dogs, etc. to adjust to. Been there, done that. I allowed myself to sleep a little later than usual on Sunday but I was okay with getting up on time this morning and enjoyed the return of darkness to my morning walk. To me it is calming to be outside in the dark.

To sum it all up, I love the change of seasons and the rhythm of changing light and dark at either end of the day, even when it happens abruptly. I hope that people who want to toy with these settings think through all of the possible unintended consequences before taking action.

P.S. My cousin Pooh sent me this magnet that she picked up in Key West a while back. KW (Kayak Woman) and tie-dye. Thanks!


March 11th, 2018 by kayak woman

I am determined to drive my loverly little 9-year-old Ninja (Honda Civic SI, 6-speed manual tranny w/ performance taars) to work this week despite snow weather forecasts. It’s not supposed to be a lot of snow but I am annoyed that Old Man Winter seems to be haaaannnnging around longer than I would like, like it was supposed to be something like 40 today and nope. 35 and there is still ice in the micro-climate between the front door and the recycle/garbage carts.

Nevertheless, I am gonna thumb my nose at Old Man Winter at this point.

So, I am in the sixth Outlander book and a character named Mouse shows up. She was characterized as being a Force of Nature, if you know what I mean. My Mouse is also a Force of Nature. Apparently the Mouse in the book was named Mouse from birth (Native American). I did not name my daughter Mouse at birth. She named herself and I have always supported her choice. I never really liked my name (Anne) either. I never felt like it “fit” me and I am still uncomfortable with it.

How do we know when we name our children if they will want to be known by the name we bestow them. We don’t know but we do the best we can. The Commander did once tell me that she named me after Anne of Green Gables. That makes me happier about my name but Anne of Green Gables had always wanted to be called Cordelia. In other words, she didn’t really like her name either.

Daylight Savings Time is upon us. I actually love the time changes.

In which…

March 10th, 2018 by kayak woman

I seem to be popular with the 30-something guys and their dogz who inhabit our neighborhood.

I talk to Ano’s dad frequently but today, I was walking over to the HOMES brewery to meet up with Mouse and npJane for lunch and there was a guy putting his dog into a car and he said something like, “Getting a late start today?” I was discombobulated because I didn’t exactly recognize the young man or his dog. But he was very friendly and I figgered he recognized me as an early morning walker and I bet I have encountered him and his dog before. Me: Well, I went to the farmers market early this morning and now I’m walking over to HOMES to meet my cousin and my daughter for lunch.

The young man talked about how much he liked HOMES. I was hoofing it over there to meet Mouse and npJane. We sat OUTSIDE! I don’t think the temperatures got out of the low 30s today but the sun was strong and we sat outside by the faaaar and we were comfortable. For a while, other people ate outside too. It felt like we had started a trend.

We had so much fun and it was warmer sitting on the south side of HOMES today than it sometimes is sitting in the hollow in front of the Old Cabin in August.

Book blahg

March 9th, 2018 by kayak woman

I have no idea what to blahg about today so I guess I’ll do a book blahg. It won’t be very interesting because I just downloaded the sixth book in the Outlander series. That’s right. I have been reading the Outlander series since, hmm…, when did I start reading the Outlander series. I’m thinking it was around xmas?

For a while there I had to scramble a bit to keep ahead of the GG because we watched what amounted to the first two books on teevee. Although I think more of the series is available now, we have not gotten around to locating it and I am waaaaay ahead of him now. I’m not gloating at all. For all I know, he could be reading the series in secret and he has a lot more time to sit around reading books than I do but I’m gonna guess that his current reading material is either the Russian Revolution or yooperland geology. I could be wrong. Of course, I don’t want to be a spoiler either so I have a hard time clamping my mouth shut about what happens next (in the TV adaptation) although I am not shy about pointing out where the movie has cut something out or whatever. The books are loooong and detailed so a lot of stuff necessarily ends up on the cutting room floor when making a television series.

There is a lot of blood and gore and broken bones <spoilers>snakebite or failed hanging anyone?</spoilers> in these books and sometimes I think I might need a palate cleanser book. Two problems here: 1) my palate cleanser books often turn out to be dystopian books like Annihilation, which isn’t exactly a palate cleanser, and 2) I am hooked.

One of the (occasional) perks of reading these books is that sometimes the name Farquharson shows up, also names like Findlay (subtract the “d” and add “son” to the end and you have my name). I don’t know all of the details of my heritage but my Fin relatives came from Scotland and I remember when I was young people saying we were part of the Farquharson clan.

So where was I? It is a fun book series and I feel connected to the people a bit because of my own long-ago heritage even though I was born and raised in 20th century America. I love the protagonist, even though she is a sassenach, like my long-suffering husband. And now I have to go hoof it over to Knight’s because I have porterized myself tonight.

Put another log on the faaaar

March 8th, 2018 by kayak woman

When I got home yesterday, the big wooden front door looked shut so I had hope that The Pensioner was out gallivanting around somewhere, giving me a little time to Spacify. No such luck. “Oh, I must’ve swung it shut.”

We keep the big wooden front door open except when we turn in for the night or no one is home. We have an outer glass or screen door, which can be switched out depending on the season. I like the wooden door open during the daylight hours because it lets more light in from outside and I like to light my house with as much natural light as possible. This leads to awkward conversations on the rare occasions we have guests and they innocently shut the door when they come in. For the most part, I just sneak around behind them and open it up again.

Then… The Pensioner aka Mr. It’s-20-Below-and-Snowing-Let’s-Go-Out-and-Snowshoe-8-Miles was heard to be whining (and I mean actually whining, not drinking cab) about how long and c-c-c-cold this winter has been. I’m not sure I agree. My standard of calibration for how cold a Planet Ann Arbor winter can be is based on the 2014 Polar Vortex winter. The neverending winter when we had snow that rivaled the snow we got in Sault Ste. Siberia when I was a kid and walked on top of snowbanks to get to school (for fun, not because I had to). This winter? Pffft! Yeah, we have had some intermittent snow. We have had some cold snaps. We have also had more than a few “January thaws”, as we used to call them in the yooperland back in the day.

I looked at TP and I scrutinized his hoary-looking facial hair and I said… No I didn’t say “shave”, at least not that time. I said, “Why didn’t you make a faaaaarrr?”

He did not make a faaaaaar yesterday (and that was okay) but I came home to one today. Yay! As usual, I am not sitting out there next to it but I can see it from the chitchen and he just put another log on. I’m remembering one of the songs the GG had on a mix tape made by his friend Duncan when I first met him. I was not a fan of country music at that time but this song cracked me up and I loved the tape (which wasn’t all country). I can’t say that this mix tape was what got me hooked up with the GG permanently but it was definitely a factor.

Sooooo, put another log on the faaaar. Cook me up some bacon and some beans…


March 7th, 2018 by kayak woman

Yeah, I know. There is no snow on the moon. Or trees. Or lights, at least not unless somebody has landed there. This is the backside of the school parking lot where the plows stack up all the snow. It was snowing to beat the band at the time but it was also warm enough that the only place any of it stuck was the grass and trees. Not the pavement. I wore my yaks anyway. They make for horrible walking on pavement but I knew there was ice underneath the snow in the woods and I NEEDED to walk in the woods.

This snow pile is higher than my head and it reminded me of a time waaaaay back in the Jurassic age when I thought I had lost my children and various friends of theirs. They were well old enough to go to the schoolyard alone, especially in a big clump. So I was humming along doing something in the Landfill Chitchen with NPR rolling along in the background. And I looked outside and. and. and. It was getting DARK! And I had one of those moom moments. Where are my kids?

I went outside and yelled for them. Nobody had mobile phones in those days. No reply. It was eerily silent outside. I went in to full-tilt boogie Panic Mode. I yelled some more. I ran over to the edge of the schoolyard and yelled some more. Nothing. I grabbed my bike and pedaled madly over to the OTHER entrance to the school yard, the one in the pic, dodging ice patches along the Bacon Driving Route.

I can’t remember exactly how it ended. Did I find them or did I turn around and find them at the Landfill when I got home? Whatever happened, OF COURSE it ended well. They were hanging out behind those big piles of snow and I could neither see nor hear them.

When I was a kid living on the south side of Sault Ste. Siberia, I remember neighbors who built snowbanks so high you could actually sled down them into the street, which was almost always covered with hard-packed snow. It never felt dangerous to sled into the street. I suppose we were paying more attention than adults think children do.

Come to think of it, *our* kids used to sled down the Fabian’s front yard into the street when it snowed enough to do that. I remember letting them stay out late (10-11 PM) on snowy nights, even when there was school the next day. We certainly get snow here in Southeast Trollandia. It regularly wreaks havoc with the roads but during *most* winters, enough snow for decent sledding is rare and lasts only a short time.

Frahg Blahg

March 6th, 2018 by kayak woman

Grok grok grok! I betchyall fergot about meeeeeeeee! It’s yer fav-o-rite frog! Ol’ Baggy isn’t payin’ attenshun right now so I’m steelin’ her ‘puter cos I wannit t’ tellya all about how me ‘n’ my bff Frogette wer th’ STARS o’ th’ ol’ quiet wotter simposeum ‘r’ wotever it wuz. ‘n’ weeee arnt kiddin’! (I’m on th’ left. Frogette haz snowflakes on ‘is head. I don’ know whar ‘is tutu went.)

Thare we are up on our peddy-stils next t’ that ol’ north kuntreee trale thingy. Peeeepul kep’ commin’ along ‘n’ wen thay saw US!!!!! up thare, thay all took pitchers of us! Yay fer Frogzzz!!! Grok grok grok grok! Ba-grawk!

Th’ only problum wuz that sumbuddy put me down on th’ tabul while thay wer pakkin’ up ‘n’ sum li’l munchkin got aholt o’ me ‘n’ decided ‘e wannit t’ steeeeeel me! I think Ol’ Baggy wuz wachin’ t’ make sher I didn’ git stolin but she didn’ do ENYTHIN’ about how th’ munchkin wuz treetin’ me! Grok grok Graaaaaaaawwwwwk! Th’ munchkin wuz flippin’ ‘n’ floppin’ me all over th’ place, up ‘n’ down ‘n’ upside down’ ‘n’ then it tride t’ feed me a FISH! I DO NOT EAT FISH! ‘speshully not NITTED FISH! I eat flees ‘n’ flys ‘n’ I drink londry detergent w’ a chaser o’ listereeeen. ‘n’ then th’ munchkin kep’ grabbin’ me by th’ EYE! D’ya know that wunce when I wuz a tadpole, one o’ my eyes pop’t OUT! It wuz orful! Th’ Ol’ Penshuner hadta gloo it back in!

Fine’ly th’ munchkins ol’ granpappy tole ‘im that ‘e cuddnt keep me ‘n’ after a looooooooooong time, Ol’ Baggy grab’d me up ‘n’ stuf’t me ‘n’ Frogette ‘n’ Bukky Beever ‘n’ a cupple uvver aminals inta that big red been bag ‘n’ sumbuddy throo us inta th’ ol’ Frog Hopper. Whew! Sumhow I lost th’ watter bottel that I keep in my puppethole but th’ munchkin’s ol’ granpappy found it ‘n’ gave it t’ Ol’ Baggy ‘n’ evenshully…………… she put it back inside me so now I kin kinda sit up strate agin.

Oops. I heer Ol’ Baggy clumpin’ along tward th’ chitchen. Seeya in th’ nex’ eppysode of Froggy the Grate! Grok grok grokkity grokkity grok, ba-grawk!

Chocolate church

March 5th, 2018 by kayak woman

One of the most fun things to do after the Quiet Water Symposium is to explore back-road routes home to The Planet Ann Arbor. The Planet is an hour or less drive from East Lansing if you take the freeway.

We prefer the picturesque back roads whenever possible and this year it was a gorgeous day, so we headed south and east (and south and east (and south and east)). You can’t really get lost on the back roads between East Lansing and The Planet Ann Arbor but you can get recursive.

We checked in on my BFF’s childhood home, a place I visited many times as a college student and then later on… It looks occupied. I chose not to take a photoooo this time. I think she and I are kind of beyond those bittersweet days of slowly losing our parents. When I am in Sault Ste. Siberia, I do sometimes drive by the old Dillon house (and sometimes even the Superior Street house) but I do not get emotional.

Anyway, we wound down south and east and at one point we encountered Catholic Church Road! I was happy that the GG turned onto Catholic Church Road. I figured that if it was named that, there was probably a Catholic church. He turned south again at one intersection and I made him turn around. I wanted to see that church if it existed and so it did. It was beautiful. There was a little graveyard across the road with Jesus on the cross and everything. I am not religious at all but I loved this little church.

Eventually we wound our way back to The Landfill. After unpacking and a walk to the Plum (me) and some decompressing, we found lunch at The Den of Iniquity The Session Room. Where it turned out to be Haisley Day! Haisley School is the school behind The Landfill where the beach urchins went to grade school. I heard somebody say something about Ike (pronounced EK) and I did a double-take because Ike was in kindergarten with Lizard Breath and somehow I knew that the EK they were talking about was the Ike that I knew. Turns out that another person at the bar was a kid from Haisley. And then… The bartender (who we *love*) turned out to be a Haisley kid too.

32 unruly (and HUNGRY) folks

March 4th, 2018 by kayak woman

We’ve been booth-babing for our eastern yooperland chapter of North Country Trail volunteers over at the Quiet Water Symposium for more years than I am strong enough to remember. It is always the first Saturday in March and man is it a busy event!

A couple of other Michigan chapters usually show up too, the Jordan 45 and Chief Noonday, and they were also there this year. Both of those chapters maintain trail in the lower peninsula, known to some as Trollandia, i.e, if you live *below* the [Mackinac] bridge, you are a troll. The GG and I live well below the bridge but we hang out with a yooper NCT chapter and every single year I have a version of this conversation:

Booth visitor: So you are with the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore chapter?

Me [noticing that he is festooned with NCT regalia]: Yes. Which chapter do you hang out with?

BV: I’m with the Jordan 45. I am a troll.

Me [with gusto]: I AM A TROLL TOO!

BV [stepping back a bit in puzzlement, like does she know what a troll is]: Really?

Me: Yes, I live in Ann Arbor.

Our conversation ensued about his childhood in Willis, which is southeast of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area and my childhood in Sault Ste. Marie.

I actually love these kinds of conversations, not only because I love to bust stereotypes. The North Country Trail stretches from the state of New York to the state of North Dakota, so why nitpick about who lives where in what state.

People were calling me a dual citizen this weekend. And I am. Because, yes, I am a troll. I have lived on The Planet Ann Arbor for most of my adult life. It’s where we own our primary residence and it’s where we brought up the beach urchins and it’s where I go to work every day and it’s where we walk downtown or wherever. I love my life here. But I grew up in Sault Ste. Siberia and own and maintain a cabin and property on the yooperland beach that my grandparents bought with a couple of friends back in the 1920s. So…

Without going into too much history and/or detail, our yooperland NCT chapter and some of the trollandia chapters have gotten friendly with each other and so last night, something like 32 people headed over to the East Lansing Pizza House and somehow they accommodated us in a back room thanks to our beloved Lansing member. Sooooo much fun.

An update about our crappy hotel. I slept like a LOG last night. We did the continental brek this morning and it was great (for me). I had a mini bagel and a WONDERFUL clementine. And coffee. After they found some cups… It was okay but I am still shipping for Kellogg Center for next year.

Baffin Island to the Everglades

March 3rd, 2018 by kayak woman

Another successful Quiet Water Symposium wrapped up. I get a wee bit taaaaared of wo-manning a booth after a while and I wasn’t all that interested in walking around to look at the other exhibits. Been there done that and I am a terrible schmoozer who doesn’t like to collect swag. (Disclaimer: I was one of something like *8* people helping run our booth today so I was NEVER ALONE for more than a few minutes!)

Today, I broke it up by actually attending a couple of presentations. I am usually a bit reticent about those. I don’t like to sit and there are a lot of topics that aren’t all that interesting to me, like safety precautions for wilderness trips and tick prevention, etc. Those are all important topics and I’m sure the presenters are wonderful but…

But then I saw that there was one on hiking and kayaking/canoeing on Baffin Island. I have never been to Baffin Island. I doubt that I will ever go to Baffin Island. I will NEVER hike in the remote netherlands of Baffin Island ALONE. Like the presenter did. A small Amazon Woman who teaches art to children somewhere in Indiana in her regular life.

It was absolutely fascinating. The scenery was soooooo much different than our scenery here in the Great Lake State. No trees, for one thing. I knew there wouldn’t be any trees but it is so hard for me to visualize that without seeing pictures.

I enjoyed that presentation so much that I went to another one, kayaking/canoeing the Everglades. Heck, I’ve already been to Baffin Island today, I may as well go the other direction. I have never been to the Everglades. I may well go to the Everglades some time. I may even KAYAK in the Everglades. I will NEVER kayak for seven straight days in the Everglades, camping in what few small dry spaces the mangroves have to offer or on chickees built where there is no dry land at all. Like the small Amazon Woman presenter did. Albeit not alone.

Knock on wood, I have made my peace with our sorta sketchy lodgings, although I much prefer the Kellogg Center (alas, they had no rooms by the time we tried to make reservations). We’ll be outta here in the morning for a slow ride home to the Planet Ann Arbor on the back roads and the young man who runs the desk is excited about his upcoming summer internship at the yooperland’s Seney Wildlife Refuge. Not your typical Norman Bates at least.

First world problems

March 2nd, 2018 by kayak woman

Once upon a time we were on our way to Fla and we didn’t stop in time that day to find even a bottom-tier chain motel that wasn’t full up. I mean like the one we once stayed at in Corbin, Kentucky. It was kinda okay (my in-laws sang its praises) but I GOT A COLD SHOWER. Yes, A COLD SHOWER. I know. I used to bathe in Lake Superior when I was a kid before The Commander installed hot water and a shower at the moomincabin.

That night we couldn’t find a place, we ended up staying at the Swamp Fox. Yes, that was really the name of the motel. As fugly as it was, at least there were people staying there that kinda reminded me of my parents. It felt friendly and I knew I only had to stay there one night.

I know there is hot water where I am staying tonight. The GG obtained a couple more towels so that should be okay. I mean, even when my hair is “short” it is long and it is not particularly “short” right now (Kaitlyn where art thou?). I can kinda manage with one towel but it is really better if I can wrap my hair up in one towel and use the other one to dry everything else. TMI, I guess.

I will not complain (tonight) about the NOISY “temperature control” musheen that I cannot control. Mainly I cannot turn the blasted fan off and it insists upon blowing air in my face, randomly hot or cold, completely unhinged from whatever I have tried to set the temperature to. I just hope I can sleep through the cacophony. Oh dear, the fan just shut itself off for 30 seconds and I could hear the frickin’ freeway noise. I suppose I could be schlepping around 1840-something Scotland staying in bedbug infested “inns” like my fave Sassenach heroine. There certainly wouldn’t be any freeway noise there and at least we are not staying under the end of an airport runway like we once did in Knoxville.

Good night. I am taking one for the North Country Trail this weekend and I will live to laugh about it but I will not be staying at this place again.

In which the xmas lights get a 1-day stay of execution

March 1st, 2018 by kayak woman

We have one sniggly little string of xmas lights across the front of our humble little home here on The Planet Ann Arbor. When the xmas season starts, we plug them in. When it endsendsendsends… we unplug them. When does the xmas season end?

In terms of our sniggly little string of lights, it ends when I notice at some point that they are still on and unplug them. I was planning to unplug them this morning, March 1st. But then… The weather forecasts were all over the map about what kind of precipitation would be where when. It was warm and pleasantly raining when I walked this morning but I had a premonition that things were going to go downhill. I declared my own personal snow emergency and drove the Frog Hopper to work. It has AWD. The Ninja has performance taaaaars. Wonderful on dry pavement.

The rain didn’t start turning to snow until just a bit after noon but a lot of people had bailed to go home and telecommute by then. I lasted until the GG texted me that I might be better off telecommuting than driving home later. If mister “Hey, it’s snowing so let’s go out and drive in it, it’ll be fun!!!” suggests that I come home, I take it seriously and I did bail at around 1 PM. My drive was a slog but I only experienced one slippery spot and I had anticipated that so I was not out of control at the time. Apparently things got precipitously worse later and many cars are in ditches now. Slow down folks. Even 5 miles under (more on the freeway) would have kept you safe today. Just slow down.

I got home safely and sat on the Green Couch all afternoon, working from home, watching big flakes of snow come down and hearing clumps of snow fall on the roof.

This snow is supposed to quit in the middle of the night and melt tomorrow and I will turn off the xmas lights tomorrow morning. If I remember…