Random bits of my so-called life.

“Mother’s March On Leftovers”

March 5th, 2015 by kayak woman

My Dear Uncle Harry is one of the funniest people I know* and although it’s a long time ago that I remember him saying that, I’ve always remembered it. I’m sure he still says it. Probably some of his kids do too. Anyway, that’s what’s on the menu for tonight. A couple of baked chicken thighs, a bit of eggplant parm, noodles with pesto, asparagus (not quiiiiite in season here yet so trucked in from somewhere, can’t wait ’til Farmer John starts bringing his in), and salad (no tomatoes, no salad). No lunch needed tomorrow and going out to eat both Friday and Saturday nights.

It is hard to believe that anyone orbiting the Planet Ann Arbor will ever grow asparagus again, given the terribly beautiful white sparkly stuff that thickly carpets our town. Here is what it looked like last night.

icesnow1

And here is a view from Cubeland this afternoon.

icesnow2

And finally, out my front window before the sun set. I love random lens flares, don’t you? [wink]

icesnow3

These photoooos make it look cold and snowy here and it is! But what they don’t show is that 95% of the roads and 80% of the sidewalks are bone dry. I knew that driving would be a piece of cake, so I commandeered my beloved Ninja to drive to work, thumbing my nose at November’s snow and ice. I began my Skunk Walk with YakTrax this morning but took them off after I got through the schoolyard. “They” are talking about 40s next week. Bring it!!!

* My Dear Uncle Harry is funny in that he has a wonderful, rather dry sense of humor, *not* that he is “funny” in some weird way. Love.

CliffsaVictory

March 4th, 2015 by kayak woman

cliffsvictorySomebody had fun making this artifact (it has a cover page, which I won’t display for reasons I won’t disclose). I found it in the Landfill Dungeon last weekend during yet another de-hoarding session. I’m not going to get rid of it. I’m trying to decide whether it belongs here at the Landfill or maybe at the moomincabin. We’ll see. For now it is lolling about on top of the Landfill Microwave. (Yes, we have one! I bought it in Sault Ste. Siberia from my second cousin once removed!)

The Cliffs Victory was a favorite Great Lakes shipping vessel when I was a child. Not that it was my favorite. I liked to watch the boats go by but I had other interests that kept me occupied. Like reading every blasted biography in the kids’ section at the Carnegie Public Library (the one with the big lions!). And (later on) obsessively practicing the Taffanel / Gaubert flute exercises. Hey, those “wallpaper” exercises are more fun than you might think and obsessively practicing them helped me get first seat at the Interlochen All-State camp — ahead of a few snooty Planet Ann Arbor kids [wink wink]. When you grow up here on the Planet, you can actually take lessons with Detroit Symphony folk or UMich profs, etc. Me in the Yooperland? Mostly no lessons at all… But that would be a whole ‘nother blahg entry and, since I evolved into a systems analyst and haven’t touched my flute in a long time, I’m not sure what the point would be.

Off on a tangent again. That’s me lately. We were in an intense design session this morning and I looked out the window and derailed the whole thing by interjecting “Blue Sky!”. It was okay, the LSCHP derailed it a few times too. Oyster costume? Okaaaayy… Anyway, my old coot and my brother the engineer were true boat nerds. I remember three boats from that era, the Cliffs Victory, the Ryerson, and the Sykes. I think the Sykes is still operating although it rarely locks up into Gitchee Gumee. Not sure about the Ryerson. Is it still running anywhere? I *think* that was my bro’s all-time fave. I can’t ask him but I have a pitcher somewhere of him on the bridge getting a tour. The Cliffs Victory died in 1987 when it was dismantled over in South Korea.

My brother didn’t live long enough [alas] to get an iPhone and download the Marine Traffic app. I no longer have to listen to a scanner or use binoculars to figure out what boat is out there in front of me. I just look at Marine Traffic. The Engineer (my brother) didn’t live long enough [alas] to be on facebook. Therefore, he cannot follow the Cason Callaway or the Algolake on facebook. So much fun. And this winter, they are both over [I think] in Wisconsin (Lake Michigan) for dry-dock stuff. There are Canadian (Algolake) and American (Callaway) “rows” there. The Algolake is doing maintenance on their propeller. Lots of hard, cold work. I’m sure they’re having fun too. Knowing The Engineer, he would’ve probably been direct-messaging those guys asking them questions and whatever and prob’ly getting invited on board, etc. Miss that old boy big time.

Forecast: flying ice

March 3rd, 2015 by kayak woman

riversunOkay, it wasn’t an official forecast, just something somebody retweeted but, yes, big shards of ice were flying off cars on my journey home tonight! And just now, NPR was talking about a similar phenomenon in a different city. So it is a thing.

The bad news? A couple inches of snow, then freezing rain before the temps got up into the 30s and it all turned into rain. The good news? A smooth, orderly morning snow commute. It’s March and that means the yahoos of the southeast Great Lake State have finally figured out how to drive in this stuff. And how is that? Slowly, of course, and no tailgating. I feel like a broken record here but no, your AWD vee-hickle will not keep you from sliding when you slam on the brakes. Sliding where? Off the road? Into the vee-hickle in front of you? Into the wild blue yonder? Who cares. S-l-o-w down in that white stuff.

I was annoyed when I got home and realized that there was enough snow/ice that I would have to shovel the sidewalk. This is not something that usually annoys me all that much. I generally like the exercise. Also, I haven’t had to shovel a whole lot this winter. What was annoying me is that the geniuses on the Planet Ann Arbor Council are considering new rules about shoveling snow that would require homeowners to shovel *every* time it snows, even if it is only a light dusting. Ever try to shovel a light dusting? As it stands now, the threshold amount of snow for shoveling is one inch. This frequent pedestrian would prefer a three inch threshold amount. It would take a thesis to explain why but if you are not careful about when and how you clear your snow, ice will form, which is dangerous, rather than inconvenient.

I realize that our loverly planet people are trying to accommodate people with disabilities. The kind of disabilities that require wheelchairs, etc. I am all for accommodating people with disabilities. The problem I have is that I don’t see people traversing the sidewalks in wheelchairs *anywhere* at any time of year. Given the condition of some sidewalks, I’m not sure people in wheelchairs could traverse them safely even in the summer. To me, this seems like fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. There are definitely some snow-shoveling scofflaws around but most people do their best to clear their walks.

Winter is winter around here and it is hard to get around sometimes, even if you are vigorously able-bodied. Last year at this time I was gingerly picking my way around with YakTrax strapped to my boots and an REI hiking pole. Still, I felt like a disabled person. There was sooooo much ice everywhere. And big heaps of snow. Sometimes you had to sort of jump down from a big heap of snow onto a sheet of ice. Somehow. We all tried to keep our sidewalks clear last year but it was next to impossible. I kvetched to a neighbor about the horrible conditions one day but I had to end with, “I could complain to the city about the homeowner but *I* am the homeowner.”

What seems to be lost on the Planet Council is common sense. I won’t say which planet official’s office nixed the existing one inch rule but it is definitely not the office I would go to if I wanted common sense. I care greatly about the ability of disabled people to get around but c’mon, when we get feet of snow or freezing rain, we are *all* struggling to get around. Give us a break!

Of course, the photo is not from today. We were down by the river late Sunday afternoon and I think the writing in the snow says something like, “Hi Pants”. We couldn’t quite decipher it.

Day in the life

March 2nd, 2015 by kayak woman

Shut down my staticky alarm clock (not that I really need an alarm clock), checked the weather on my iPhone, and launched for the shower.

Layered for today’s weather, shut off the Blue and Only Bathroom fan, made sure the GG was awake, and launched out the door for my Skunk Walk.

Arrived home, emptied the dishwasher, ate breakfast, packed a lunch, did some chores (dishes, folded laundry, cleaned stovetop and sink, cleaned bathroom fixtures, took compost out to heap, milked cow), and egregiously idled the Ninja while I put my eye makeup on (yes, really).

Slodged down to Cubeland. I have a decent commute on a dry day, which today was. Tomorrow, maybe not so much. Long busy day punctuated by a short afternoon drive-about (needed some sun but wasn’t dressed for walking) and watching the moon rise (3:52 PM, waxing gibbous, 92.2% visible). And the Queen Bee’s coughing fits — she’s about where I was a week ago. I still have occasional coughing fits but they are minimal compared to hers. I feel her pain. Today she was trying to stay a good distance away from us. I said, “It’s okay, I am immune to that cold virus!” Indeed.

Afternoon chores: mail (renew mag subscription), empty lunch bag, change clothes (and wash feet!), make dinner (eggplant parm and noodles with pesto), add things to grokkery list (Grocery IQ app on phone), and, oh yeah, blahg…

What to blahg about? I dunno. Back in the day when my “job” was youth theatre guild administrator, my days were often a lot more interesting. There was a lot of stuff that I certainly couldn’t blahg about but very often, the day-to-day adventures of driving all over town managing a highly creative organization provided a lot of blahgging fodder. Sorry, but I’m a boring systems analyst now and the details of my job would not be interesting to anyone.

My day wasn’t the most exciting but sometimes that’s a good thing. Lots of sunshine today and more melting than I thought possible, given that the temperatures only climbed into the upper 20s. That melting included the ice immediately outside my front door. The ice that doesn’t melt no matter how much salt you throw at it. It melts in March. Usually. If it’s not a polar vortex year. This is *not* a polar vortex year.

Check out how the folks at Lake Superior State University recently dealt with minus 40 (not wind chill) temperatures here. I walked to high school in similar conditions. The schools were never closed when I was a kid in the yooperland.

G’night,
KW

White? Blue? (Black? Gold? (Texas Tea…))

March 1st, 2015 by kayak woman

snowfortsI got really annoyed (really fast) with that whole dress thing that stormed the internet for a day or so. Is it gone? Honestly, I would rather have pics of what people are eating for lunch than vacuous discussions like this one. If you have ever taken a picture of snow that involves strong sunlight and shadow, you will intrinsically understand why it looks white where the sun is shining on it and blue when it’s in shadow (I took this yesterday). Black and gold are a bit more complicated but think about tree limbs with the sun shining on them (brown but kind of gold in the sun) or in silhouette (black).

Whenever someone says something about a Blue Dress, I remember a summer sometime in the mid 1990s. NPR was constantly rattling about The Blue Dress. Guess what my old coot would say every single blasted time NPR said, “Blue Dress”. Can’t guess? Well, I’ll tell you that he said, “Stick it!” Right within hearing distance of whatever grandchild happened to be around. I bet that they love him for doing that and I do not think you could ever confuse the color of that particular blue dress with white [grin].

I don’t know why things like the blue / black / white / gold dress gain so much traction on the internet. I couldn’t understand why people saw different colors, at least in terms of what got posted. I saw low-resolution, badly photoshopped photos.

But why complain? I would much rather have the Internet talk about a white / blue / gold / black dress than airliners crashing into the World Trade Center, just for example.

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

In which the sun is so bright that I can see every speck of dust

February 28th, 2015 by kayak woman

kwwoodsMan oh man, what a gorgeous day! It began a bit cold. My iPhone proclaimed something like -13. I got up and mobilized *anyway* and, as has happened so many times this winter, it was cold in my neighborhood but more like 8 above, which is a no-brainer to dress for. Balaclava and snowpants, etc. Layer up. I’ve got it down pat. YakTrax? I didn’t need them today. I have certainly used them this winter but not anywhere near as much as the last two. Prob’ly in the next week though…

The sun was out in full force ALL day! It was gorgeous! It also highlighted every single speck of dust! Did I dust today? Not really, except in the chitchen, which I deep-cleaned.

I spent a lot of time down in the Landfill Dungeon today and I made big progress! Not that it looks all that much different, only I can see progress. Long way to go still.

I woke up this morning to a batscope-type text, something like “Moom, do you want to ski with me at Kensington tomorrow?”. Oh man, Yes I did. But we didn’t, although I did check out where my skis were. The thing is that we have a lot of snow here but we got that snow weeks ago and we haven’t been blessed with much of any snow since then. We have old, crappy snow and the trails at Kensington are probably as icy as all getout. Not great for xc-skiing. I was still very happy about the invitation, batscope that it was.

I did walk through Miller woods today. I wore my red Keen sandals. I took my hiking pole with me and I used it a couple times on steep little hills but generally I was okay without it. And then I headed over to The Plum Market and eventually home.

Yes, I am wearing a skirt. With leggings underneath it. Layer up and layer down. Don’tcha love the north-country? I do!

The North Shall Rise Again

February 27th, 2015 by kayak woman

froghlBut it’ll have to rise without me, at least this weekend. Once again, I am carefully hoarding my 20 days of annual vacation time. I started off the year in terrible form by taking January 2 as a vacation day. Well worth it but painful to use a day so early in the year. Then I worked MLK Day in exchange for taking a mid-February Friday off to go up and freeze (and have great fun!) at Tahq. Oh, plus I get eight hours of paid volunteer time! I will take some or all of that next Friday and it will be doing something really fun!

The Twinz of Terror are gonna ski the Vasa tomorrow. I know that I cannot keep up with them on the Vasa, at least not this year. It would be my first day of skiing for the season and I am always AWFUL that first day, especially the first uphill, which always KILLS me! I need at least a few days of skiing every day to feel good about what I’m doing. Plus my equipment is well overdue for an upgrade, especially my boots, which are disintegrating. The GG outfitted himself with new ski equipment this winter and that was fine. I could’ve done the same but I felt like we had been spending kind of more money than we usually do and wanted to put the brakes on for a bit. I like to live off the income we work so hard to earn and not pull anything out of savings or wherever. I have to note that, with skiing, it is NOT the uphills that get me. I’m fine after the first uphill of the year. It’s the downhills! I do not like to feel out of control.

Excuses, excuses. Anyway, I am here on The Planet Ann Arbor. Froooggy and Turnstile and some shadow person are at Houghton Lake. And The Beautiful Becky and Jim, who I am really sorry I am missing because they are so much fun! It’s okay. I kind of need a weekend at home alone, one where I am not sick and there are no other distractions aka lovely parties at Wendy’s house, etc. I’ll find plenty of stuff to do around the Landfill and I’m feeling really good now that my Kick A*s immune system has totally ejected my recent cold virus, so I’ll be hiking all over town. Maybe I will see if the aubergine vase is still at Treasure Mart and snag it. But it’s probably not. Broooosie probably has it. Maybe I can buy it from him… Got a third of a donut-type thing from him today…

G’night. Love y’all. KW

One (or more) flew over the compost heap

February 26th, 2015 by kayak woman

One of my self-imposed morning chores these days besides milking the cow is to take the compost container that I keep beside the sink out to the back of the back yard and dump it into the compost heap. By the way, I had to google “heap” to make sure I was spelling it correctly. I was thinking “heep” but I guess I was thinking of Uriah Heep, Dickens character and rock band. Anyway, some people might think it painful to trudge out into the back forty to dump the compost in the deep freeze temperatures we’ve been having. I am enjoying it for reasons I can’t totally explain except that it is beautiful outside in the winter, even when it doesn’t look like it does in the photo below. If you are one of my nine reglear nucular taggers, you will remember that by the time I take the compost out, I have already walked three miles in the dark through the ice and snow (aah-aah-aaaaah-aah).

So yesterday, I headed out to dump the compost and quickly backtracked to grab my iPhone because…

compost1

When I got to the compost heap, I did a double take because…

compost2

Clearly, someone else had been to the compost heap since the last time I had been out there. I had a hunch about who it was. Can you guess? It turned out to be a six-month supply of eggshells. They are welcome here in my compost heap. I love it when people drop stuff off there.

My cold is receding at a rapid rate although I am not quite finished with the coughing. I was chagrined to learn that The Queen Bee called in sick today. That is a rare event and I hope it wasn’t me who infected her but it probably was. Not the best thing to get your supervisor sick but I don’t think she’ll hold it against me.

Just in case you have forgotten where I live, here is Led Zeppelin [it’s a video]. I’m sure I have posted this song before. Aah-aah-aaaaaah-aah.

P.S. The GG HATES this song!

RIP Northland Mall

February 25th, 2015 by kayak woman

Somewhere around here, I have a studio-quality photo of me sitting on Santa’s lap at the J. L. Hudson store in Northland Mall. I can’t remember how old I was but it was before The Engineer was born, so I was under three. Northland was built the year I was born. It was originally an “open-air” “shopping center” (I actually remember that part — sorta) but was later enclosed into the style of mall that we all (or some of us anyway) have learned to love and then hate. Although we sometimes shopped at Northland when we visited our grandparents in Detroit, more often we went to the downtown Hudson’s, where The Commander worked as a buyer for a short time after college until my old coot decided they were moving — immediately — to the yooperland. Okay then. The downtown Hudson’s is long gone and, when they imploded the building, The Commander watched it go down on TV at The Engineer’s house.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with shopping malls but I do not think that they will survive all that much longer, at least not in their current format. I do NOT buy clothing at our local mall EVER even though one of the stores I often buy clothing from (Chico’s) is *in* the mall. I order it online. Chico’s either has colors or not. When they have colors, I order clothing. When they don’t, I don’t order clothing. The key thing is that I don’t have to trek out to the mall to find out what colors (or not) Chico’s has at any given time.

I used to *love* to go to malls. I grew up in a small town and although we could certainly get what we needed at the stores on the main street, my eyes were always wide with wonder at all the stuff available in the big cities of southern Michigan. I remember when Briarwood Mall came to The Planet Ann Arbor even though it was years after that that I moved here and I loved shopping there. When the first beach urchin was a baby, we would sometimes go there just to let her walk around on a cold winter night.

I’m not exactly sure when things changed but today, I order almost everything online except for grokkeries, which I mostly obtain locally and on foot. But… I read somewhere on the internet today that you could actually set up a standing order for terlet paper via Amazon or somewhere. Maybe I should do that because I *hate* schlepping home big packages of TP. Who knew?

I’m not sure where I am going with this blahg entry and I am not sure where “shopping” is going in the near or distant future. I don’t think malls are in our future, at least not in the same form-factor. What do you think?

They wanna bleed yer brain before they throw you out on yer *ss

February 24th, 2015 by kayak woman

This is what happened on the Big Mac today. I got it via Twitter and facebook and npJane. For a long time there were no details. Finally, a [somewhat] more complete report was posted on facebook. When I read the headline, I thought, “What in the hell were people doing changing drivers in the middle of the Mackinac Bridge in the middle of a frickin’ snow / windstorm in deep-freeze type temperatures. Craziness? My heart softened when I learned that the drivers were “older” and changed drivers because the wife was struggling with white-out conditions at the north end of the bridge somewhere near the toll booths (north or south of them wasn’t clear last I looked). There are places to pull off north of the toll booths but if you are in a whiteout, you can’t necessarily see where they are. I don’t have anything more to say about this. I just hope that the injured person recovers and that winter ends someday.

It was technically warmer down here today than yesterday but it felt colder due to the wind. I felt awful as I was walking home from the Plum this afternoon when a woman asked me if I was catching the bus. (I get this question fairly frequently.) No I am not and I am sooooo sorry that I don’t know the bus schedule and I really really really hope you don’t have to wait a long time for the next bus. Public transportation is not that bad here on the Planet Ann Arbor but it could be better…

And so… Let’s dream about summer…

babylizbutts

sat2

buoy23

franbetty

grillmeister

laundry

octogarbage

feathers

grandaddy-with-a-big-stick-and-sam

grandma-margaret

parade1

If you have made it this far, g’night. KW. <3

Snow snowmobiler?

February 23rd, 2015 by kayak woman

snowsnowmoAnd then I went to work. Last evening, that is. Some system change was made over the weekend and a “tester” from each team was needed and I figured that my number was up so I “volunteered”. Not my fav-o-rite day or time to go into work, in fact I have *never* been in there on a weekend day in the 7.5 (!) years I’ve been schlepping down there to work.

Sunday evenings? A sunset late afternoon walk by the river, a faaaaar in the faaaarplace (at this time of year), folk music on NPR radio. And last night, we had a beach urchin here for dinner.

<Beepity-beep-beeep Beep Beepity-beep!> We interrupt this blahg for a special report. Some ya-hoo was just on the radio saying he “he was retaaaaared and he didn’t want no drones flyin’ over his property”. I actually understand his pain because I’m not sure I want that either… But I had to laugh when memories of B52s from then-nearby Kincheloe AFB screaming low over my family’s beach flooded into my brain. My old coot and our beloved Uncle Duke (when he wasn’t off working at his own fly-boy career) would run outside to watch, followed by all of us kids and Tigger barking up a storm! B52s!!! Drones?</Beepity-beep-beeep Beep Beepity-beep!>

Okay, back to yer usual dose of boring blather. I wouldn’t want to go to work every Sunday night but it was okay. I was there for about 40 minutes. The beach urchin commandeered the chitchen to finish dinner and make the GG a ‘hattan (a skill her Grandmoose taught her as a toddler — as well as how to cut vegetables with a Sharp Knife). My drive home was sublime. Dry roads, no traffic, the waxing cresent moon hanging in the sky. Food and a ‘hattan when I got home. Love.

We are down in the deep freeze for the duration, it seems. I am annoyed by everyone freaking out about how cold it is because [except for the hole at the Ann Arbor airport] it isn’t really that cold. Zero degrees or thereabouts with no wind is pretty easy to dress for, especially in a suburban environment where, if you are freezing to death, you can always call someone to pick you up or bang on someone’s door. The parts of my face that are exposed during my early morning skunk walks are staying warm and no, that is not because they are numb. It is beautiful out there, especially when you can see the stars. Bundle up and try it out!

Gift Wrap Debacle, Rodent Turd edition

February 22nd, 2015 by kayak woman

I went to Goose’s wedding shower this afternoon. I didn’t do very well on the “How Well Do You Know Goose?” game because I knew Goose the best when she was in middle school. I remember days-long back-to-back sleepovers during dreary winter school breaks and bagawking outbursts and Driving Bacon (not). I do not remember the Indoor Snowball Fight. I am either blocking it or it happened after I went to bed. I do not know Goose’s favorite color or cocktail or what she would plan for a romantic date. It was okay. My good friend Goose’s Mom didn’t do all that well either. Her future mother-in-law? Won hands down! (This is also a woman who has been known to put bottles of gin in Easter baskets. How do I get her in my fam?)

My gift? A le Creuset bread pan straight off the gift registry. I love le Creuset and have a few pieces but I made the decision not to replace my existing bake ware when I redid the Landfill Chitchen. So I love to buy it for others.

I think it is so cool that young couples can request “no gift wrap please” when they create wedding registries. I just wish I had noticed that request as I perused the registry. Because what follows pretty much defies description.

Actually, I specified gift wrap when I ordered the pan from Williams-Sonoma. That would’ve been fine except that when the package arrived, I heard some clinking around when I picked it up off the porch. Hmmm, this item is a one-piece ceramic bread pan. Why is it clinking? Well, you know why it was clinking, roight? So, I unwrapped the broken bread pan to ascertain that it was, indeed broken, then embarked upon Plan B, which was to head out to Williams-Sonoma at The Dreaded Mall and buy one off the shelf. (Note to self.)

I declined to get this one gift-wrapped. I was in a hurry to get back to work and I just knew that I had some pearly white wedding-style paper in the Landfill Dungeon and a pearly white wedding-style stick-on bow. Or not. Or sorta. I had some pearly white wedding-style paper but there was nowhere near enough to wrap the box the bread pan was in. I could not find the pearly white stick-on bow.

I schlepped over to the Plum Market and found some acceptable paper (albeit not recyclable due to metallic stuff) and a stick-on doodly in their Papyrus kiosk. Wrapped the package and I was good to go. Wouldn’t you know that later that day, when I was cleaning out the Cedar Closet Under the Stairs, among the detritus on the floor was a pearly white wedding-style stick-on bow. I sighed as I retrieved it and put it in my stash of stuff destined for the Scrap Box.

Mouse arrived with her gift today. It was UNWRAPPED because she had READ the request on the registry. But seeing my extravagantly wrapped (for me) package she thought maybe a bit of ribbon or something would be good. I said, “Oh, I have just the thing!” and retrieved the pearly-white stick-on bow from the dungeon. We were just about to stick it on to her gift when I noticed… What do you think I noticed? Rodent turds of course! What else? Yes, it’s in the garbage now.

Being the Queen of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle PLUS a Gift Wrap Hater, I was pretty annoyed at myself for fussing around so much about the wrapping but it was all good. Most people brought wrapped packages and the bride-to-be graciously accepted them. The venue was three blocks away at Wendy’s beautiful house and it was filled with food and whine and old friends. And sunshine! All I have to say is that the beach urchins are good at picking out good friends with cool moms.

But then it was all over and this introvert came home and “crashed” for a good long time.

85 to 95% and 3 out of 7

February 21st, 2015 by kayak woman

twinkleAnd because I’m running outta pitchers, a random photoooo of Top-of-Fridge Cat aka Twinkle Star Finlayson, my childhood tortoise-shell cat (for a year or so until The Commander got taaarrred of cats (and litters of kittens (I knoooowwww))).

85 to 95%? Accepting a ride home was probably a smart thing to do last night since I woke up at that Batscope Hour on the edge of a sore throat and feeling just the teensiest tinesiest weeeeee bit feverish. (I actually had the faintest whiff of a premonition when I accepted the ride and I hope our friends do not get this cold.) The sore throat was virtually gone after I took my shower but I was dragging *ss enough that I bagged my walk even though it was a balmy 19 degrees or whatever. I was at about 85% this morning, which was well enough to slodge slowly through my usual Saturday chores and do two grokkery runs (Jackson Road Meijer in the Ninja and a walk to the Plum). Then I climbed onto an upward trajectory and regained most of my usual energy by early afternoon. If you know me in life, you might have an idea of that energy level. I’m calling it 95% but that’s because my immune system is still shoveling out a significant amount of mucous / mucus (not sure which is correct).

3 out of 7? Three closets down, four to go! A couple weeks ago, the GG made a huge dent in the “cedar” closet under the stairs. Our real estate agent made a big deal out of that closet as a selling point. It’s basically just another yucky basement closet that once had a bunch of wood chips (cedar?) on the floor. We moved in and filled it with Stuff We Don’t Wear EVER* and eventually some other junk got put on the floor and rodents (and spiders) invaded and and and… Anyway, this afternoon, I summoned up some gumption and, with the help of my iPhone flashlight, picked all of the crap off the closet floor (hangers mostly), vacuumed, and cleaned it with the dregs of a bottle of Mr. Clean that came from The Comm’s house that I’ve been wanting to get rid of. We won’t talk about the rest of the closets until we get to them. Flinging, like software development done right, is an iterative process. Eating an elephant.

Oh, you guys, can you believe that I am subscribing to a 2-day-a-week newspaper so that we have paper to start faaaarrs with? I arrived home from a late afternoon (sunshine!!!!) walk to the GG rummaging in the recycle bin for newspaper. Oops. I forgot to save some. We get a newspaper on Thursday and Sunday mornings. By the time it arrives, I have already read everything online via that newspaper’s Twitter feed. I looked at the GG and said something like, “Yeah, I was gonna stop our paper subscription but then I remembered that we need it for faaaarrr starter.” He actually snorted out a bit of a laugh. So, we are actually paying $30 every three months for newspapers that we burn a few months of the year and recycle the rest of the time.

* If you are not going to wear something EVER, GET RID OF IT! Someone else will use it if it is clean and in good repair. If it is interesting enough (or not), some costume person may snag it for a play. If it is truly unusable and unsaleable (and most of the stuff we get rid of is unsaleable), there are organizations that will recycle it. The one thing that I do NOT put into any kind of recycle stream is used underwear, even if it has been laundered. That’s as far as I’m gonna go with that for now.

Temperature? Who, what, where?

February 20th, 2015 by kayak woman

snowshoeingOkay. My iPhone proclaimed -22 this morning when I checked it prior to getting up. Could that be right? Maybe. I slugged in bed 20 minutes or so longer than usual as I considered whether to bag my walk. Finally I got up and took a shower and wouldn’t you know that, according to the chitchen indoor/outdoor thermometer, it was only -2. I can do minus 2 and so I did, although I had to cut a mile off my walk because I didn’t start out as early as usual. Whatever. It was beautiful out there and I was toasty warm.

So. Came back and faaarrred up the Ninja to egregiously idle it for a bit. -10 degrees? Whatever. Still not that cold. The chichen thermometer said something like -3 at that point. The one in the bedroom was colder. -8? I fergit. By the time I was ready to go to work, the Ninja proclaimed -3 also. By the time I got to work, it was -14.

What was the temperature here on The Planet Ann Arbor? I do not know. Cold. But I think that the -22 that my iPhone reported early this morning was the reading that they get in the “hole” at the Ann Arbor airport. Makes me kind of wonder where they take the temperature in Roscommon County, where it was -39 this morning. Although it was -30 or below many places in northern Michigan this morning. We weren’t talking about the wind chill factor anywhere this morning, as far as I know. When the temperatures get that cold, there isn’t usually any wind.

It was 10 or 11 (above!) when I walked down to the Oscar Tango tonight. I was hacking up a lung the whole way. That is, when I wasn’t blowing by dose on dinky little kleenexes. Kleenexes that were inadequate for the amount of mucus that was coming out of by dose and we do not want to go there but bubbles were involved. I did that all day at work, accompanied by “Sh*t!” or whatever work-safe expletive my brain mustered. I’m sure that W1.5 across the wall was highly entertained. Or maybe grossed out would be more accurate.

The plan was to walk home too but we were Porterized tonight and so we threw in the towel and accepted a ride home. Cold and windy and what the heck. I was proud of them — they were wearing hats!

G’night! Love y’all. Stay warm if you are in the Great White North. KW.

Send a St. Bernard. With lots of grog. Or is it glog? Whatever.

February 19th, 2015 by kayak woman

I’ve been hackin’ up a lung the last coupla days. How ’bout you? My co-workers seem to be tolerating me. I’m not sure why. Am I Sick? I might be Sick according to someone else’s daffynition. Me? When I launched this morning, it was 1 degree. I can’t remember if it was minus or plus. What’s the difference? I put my loverly new snowpants on and my old Zippy-the-Pinhead balaclava and boots with YakTrax and I encased my iPhone into a glub into a pocket of my inner layer polar fleece so that it wouldn’t die in the cold and therefore not be able to open up the Landfill front door when I got home. And I took my usual vigorous three mile 0-skunk-30 neighborhood prowl. Like I do [almost] every day. It was gorgeous and I wasn’t cold at any time and I was in my element. I couldn’t see the moon. There was no moon at all [wink].

I hacked up a few pieces of lung during my walk. Please don’t look at where they landed. I don’t spit in general but when it’s dark… … … and there’s snow everywhere… … … and nobody is around… … … But I was nuclear powered! Sick? Not so much.

So, when you are in the Yooperland in the winter, there are snowmobiles everywhere. And there is a brewery at Tahquamenon Falls. May she stand forever. She looked like this last Saturday morning, when it was a bit below zero and the winds were howling.

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The brewery was open at that time of the morning and I bet you could get a beer or some whine but we just went inside to check it out with a promise to come back later. The folks who work there drive miles over horrific roads. They are my heroes albeit the driving up there is better than it is here because the roads are plowed more frequently and there is NOWHERE NEAR as much goddamn traffic.

As it turned out, we were back at the brewery for lunch and there were about a billion snowmobilers there. Yay for snowmobilers. They help keep the yooperland economy going.

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I took that photo from our fave seat at the bar next to the bathroom and where the Snowmobilers hang up their suits and helmets. Snowmobile suit technology has come a really long way since I was 18 and the drinking age was 18 and I was in the bathroom at the Stable bar in Sault Ste. Siberia and the woman in the next terlet sat down and the hood of her snowmobile suit fell into the terlet. Oy.

This place was busy last weekend.

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And this is why, although I order cabernet there. It’s usually Smoking Loon or whatever. It’s all good.

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Tomorrow? Minus 15? I may well take a pass on walking in the morning. But Sick? Naw. I’m hackin’ up a lung but I think that spending as much time outside as I do is a good thing. Fewer colds and those that I get rarely get me down very far.

Love y’all and good night,
KW

Lurch!

February 18th, 2015 by kayak woman

lanternAdventures in inadvertently p*ssing people off or scaring them while wearing YakTrax.

I was heading toward the checkout counters at the Plum Market. I exited one of the aisles. I lurched forward a bit. The young mom-with-kids who was also headed to the checkout counters raised her eyebrows and opened her mouth in terror! I’m not sure if she thought I was racing to beat her to one of the checkouts or if she thought I was coming after her kids (uh, no thanks, I have my own). I quickly said, “You go ahead!” And then I tried to explain that I was wearing YakTrax and they can be squirrely on hard floors (like the one at the Plum Market). I am as aware as ever of trip-trapping along through a space without knocking everyone down but I don’t have as much control as I do when I’m wearing my Keen sandals, for example. She laughed at my explanation but I’m not sure she was all that convinced.

Coming home from the Plum Market after work today, I gauged via the traffic signals that I could run (and I did run) across the intersection. I did not hit the walk signal. Alas. A very smiley person was walking up to the intersection from the other direction. She did not get a walk signal. We were having a friendly conversation but she did say something about me not hitting the Walk Button. No, I didn’t. I had made a split-second decision to *run* across the street at an advantageous time. If I *had* hit the Walk Button, she would still have had to wait for the next light cycle. It is a long one for that particular crossing and it is cold out today and I felt her pain. Still, although I kept apologizing for not hitting the goddamn Walk Button, it was all a smiley, friendly conversation and I was kind of wondering if maybe she was walking around at a bit less than 100. Which is okay. Just that why the heck do I still (hours later) feel so guilty about not hitting that goddamn Walk Button?

We’re in for a nasty overnight although I do not think we are supposed to get a lot of snow. I won’t say what the GG has been doing since he got home from work. It involves the block heater on the Frog Hopper and that is all that I will say except that, if the Frog Hopper started up at Tahq in minus-19 the other day, it will start tomorrow morning and that’s all that counts.

Chopper Blahg

February 17th, 2015 by kayak woman

choppersDid your dad and brother have choppers when you were a kid? Mine did. What are choppers? Back in the yooperland day, they were leather work glubs. If you were a guy in the yooperland, you had choppers. They were great for shoveling snow or taking the trash incinerator out to the alley to burn the trash (anyone else remember incinerators?) or working on the cars or snow-mos or whatever.

Well, “if you were a guy” maybe applied to my shabby little family bungalow. The girlz in the fam wore more fashionable glubs. Or did we… There were a lot of homemade mittens too. They were cool but they weren’t necessarily very warm without something like ski mitts over them. Or choppers. But I bet a lotta yooper girlz wore choppers too. If not then, they certainly do now! (You don’t own me.)

It seems to me that I mentioned something about choppers around here a few weeks ago. Home or work or wherever. I can’t remember. My audience did not know what the heck I was talking about! Choppers? Say what? I shut my mouth quickly.

Last weekend? Saturday at Tahquamenon Falls. Temperatures hovering around zero with howling winds and blowing snow. Choppers? Yes! Our hiking buddy Pat (on the left in the photo) was knitting mittens to wear inside them. Our hiking buddy Marilyn had an extra pair that she foisted upon me and she gave me some hand warmers too. We have hand warmers around (somewhere). We may have bought some of them but we also get them free sometimes with LLBean or REI orders. We’ve never used them. Honestly, we don’t usually need them.

I used Marilyn’s extra pair of choppers and some hand warmers, although I eventually gave the handwarmers to Kay, one of our Fearless Leaders. I will be buying my own choppers soon and finding / collecting the Landfill hand warmers. I expect I will manage to complete that little bit of an organizational chore about the time we get 50-degree temperatures again… March 2, according to our loverly QA manager…

It was so much fun to be able to use the word “choppers” in a sentence up there in the Yooperland and not have to explain that I wasn’t talking about helicopters or something.

I’m turning into my mother…

February 16th, 2015 by kayak woman

The plan was to get up and take my reglear nucular tagger walk and get back in time to schlep over to Zingerman’s@PlumMarket for a Queen Bee croissant and coffee with Lizard Breath who stayed the night because last night turned into an actual Family Dinner and since frozen precipitation was not in the forecast for the next 48 hours and there are brand new sheets in the “guest room”, why not stay the night? [Note that this post provides a few photoooos of Tahquamenon that have nothing to do with the content.]

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I didn’t get up quiiiiiiite as early as I had planned to. I woke up on time but my phone proclaimed something like -15 degrees. I knew that was probably not accurate anywhere but down in the hole at the Planet Ann Arbor airport but I still dragged *ss for 10 minutes longer than usual. So, when I got back from my walk (which I cut short even though it was maybe minus 1 and I was dressed for it), I was jumping around going hucklety-buck trying to unload the dishwasher, make a lunch, trade Eskimo clothing for bizcaz, and I fergit what else.

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I knew that my “kid” would be ready to go *on time*, whether or not her mooooom was. That’s why I was jumping around going huckle-ty buck. And bugging her. “Do you want some more fabric?” “Here are your coffee ground containers.” “Don’t forget this or that or that other thing” Sigh. That was about the point where I turned into The Commander. I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again: it used to drive me nuts when I was trying to leave the moomincabin or her house and she would follow me around with stuff she didn’t want me to forget. Noooo Moom, I need to focus! Once, in a rare moment of clarity, I managed to step outside myself and look at the whole situation from afar. I grabbed a grocery bag, handed it to her and said something like, “You take this bag and put anything in it that you think I might forget.” She had a mission and I could focus on mine. Note to self…

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“Moom, settle down.” Indeed. At any rate, I love that I don’t have to grab a plane to meet either of my daughters for breakfast and being with Liz this morning and then watching her peel off to the right to turn onto Jackson and catch the I94 18-wheel Clogway back over to Detroit (on DRY pavement!) buoyed me on to my own job.

I would end with that but a few minutes ago, I heard “You Don’t Own Me” faaaar up in the back room. Lesley Gore died today. I am not gonna get maudlin about this but I did shed a few tears. And then there is this. So much fun.

Love y’all, KW!

Paradise

February 15th, 2015 by kayak woman

What a wonderful weekend we had staying with our North Country Trail friends up at Tahquamenon. We were able to rent a DNR lodge between the lower and upper falls. The plan was to take long death marches, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing or whatever. In the photo below, we are arriving in Paradise, which is 10 miles east of Tahquamenon. I was driving. I am NOT a terribly confident snow driver these days but this was fine with me. There were almost no cars anywhere. Snowmobiles? Going everywhere along the side of the road.

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I was trying to get a picture of what it’s like in Paradise and in pursuit of that goal, I was kind of slithering all over the place, not because the road was slippery because it wasn’t (if you were driving for the conditions, which I certainly was, at like five mph…). Anyway, I finally found an appropriate photo opp, which was that big pile of snow in front of the “Soo…” sign.

As I was taking the pitcher, I was vaguely aware of two vee-hickles passing me… I took the photo and we continued on through Paradise and up to the DNR lodge. When we got there, Marilyn and Joan had already arrived and they were talking about passing us in Paradise! It wasn’t until we were sitting at the Brewery a bit later that I looked at the photo and realized that Marilyn’s car was there at the left. She is one of our loverly NCT hiking friends and among other things, she supplied me with choppers and hand-warmers this weekend. More on that later this week, maybe.

This weekend was rather a bust in terms of the death-march style hiking we usually do with our NCT friends. Below zero temps Saturday and today. We did a short but strenuous off-trail snowshoe on Friday (when it was a balmy 18 degrees), some *very* short hiking loops yesterday (at below zero temps and blowing snow), including down the steps to the Upper Falls. This morning it was minus 19. As cold as it was, we left the lodge reluctantly, wishing we had more time to hike, etc.

By the time we got to Paradise, the temperature had risen ten degrees to minus 9 and I took this photo from behind the Frog Hopper with bare hands. That tracklike thingy on the right is where snow-mobiles ride. Not this morning. Too cold for almost anything.

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Long drive today but mostly dry pavement once we hit the I75 SUV Speedway. I took over at Indian River. That’s also the time I took off my [new] snowpants [thanks to the young woman at the Ski Ranch for helping me pick them out!] and my ski jacket and boots. The temperature never went above 6 degrees anywhere we were today but the sun was strong and I was pretty hot in the Frog Hopper. As luck would have it, a beach urchin arrived at The Landfill before we got there — with a plan to cook dinner. We walked over to the Plum Market to get ingredients and man oh man, did 6 degrees feel balmy!

Thanks so much to all of our Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore North Country Trail friends for such a wonderful weekend! No words for how much I loved the weekend and how hard it was to leave today.

Too cold to hike!

February 14th, 2015 by kayak woman

-4 & howling winds! So quick trip to Paradise to download the Saturday xword & get a few groceries. Back off the grid in a minute!