Archive for the 'cousins' Category

I love this picture. That is all.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

In the cold dark wet of a December in the Great Lake State, the picture below arrived in my email box this morning. My cousin Sandy sent it. It is our cabin, the one I was blathering about yesterday, being built. That’s The Engineer on the left. Then Sandy, Uber Kayak Woman, Suzy (never sure of spelling any more), and yer favo-rite blahgger. Looking a little perturbed about something as was usual in those days. It was the summer The Engineer turned three and UKW and I were both six. Sandy and Suzy are a bit older, just entering their teens (and I remember those hats). I admired my older cuzzints a lot. Nowadays we are all the same age. Yes. We are. Heck, we have all stopped at 35! There’s the Old Cabin in the background with the original back end (kitchen) on it. And if The Engineer were still around, he would know *exactly* what models those vee-hickles that you can almost see in the background were. Yes he was only almost-three then. But he would remember. Thanks, Sandy. I needed this today. Oh, and, yeah, not sure which month or date this pic was taken but there are definitely summer days when winter-ish clothing is needed on the shores of the Big Lake They Call Gitchee Gumee.

Summer head o’ hair

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Didja see that baggy ol’ woman sitting in her Cute Little Blue Honda Civic at the Dexter/Maple stoplight this morning? She was trying to brush the knots and tangles out of her damp bushy hair? Betcha thought she was running late to work and didn’t have time to brush her hair before she left the house. Well, guess again. Because that messy-looking old kayak woman was ME! And I was EARLY. It was just after 8:00 AM and I got up at 0-dark thirty and between 0-dark-thirty and 8:00 AM, I took a shower and washed my bushy hair, walked three miles, tended my weed bed and threw some compost out, ate breakfast, checked my email, did my on-line banking, washed, dried, and put away a load of laundry, made my bed, cleaned the Blue and Only Bathroom, washed the crumbs off the dining table, packed up a load of junk that was cluttering up Lizard Breath’s bedroom, decluttered the table in the kitchen, washed dishes (about five times), and put a couple bags of garbage into the Handy Dandy A2 Garbage Cart. Oh, and changed out of kayak clothes into what passes for business casual (no pantyhose, thank you very much), and said good morning to my Mouse. And I think I actually did brush my hair a few times in there but by the time I got my vee-hickle over to the Dexter/Maple stoplight, it was still damp and full of knots and tangles.

What was I thinking walking out without a jacket or gloves on April 1?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

It’s a wonderful conference! Internet User Experience 2008. I’m having a blast! Some of my esteemed co-workers are there with me and they are fun. *Lots* of fellow WCC Internet Professional Program, from current and past classes! They are fun too and it was wonderful to see them all, especially those I haven’t seen for a while. I loved the presentations! They covered a diverse variety of user experience issues related to websites of all descriptions. It was obvious that even the most nervous “I hate talking in front of people” presenters were excited about their topic and I was on the edge of my seat all day. *And* surfing the web *along with them* on my MacBook (more on that in some other post someday). And there was food! And coffee. And beer and wine at the end. Which I did not partake in.

Two things stuck in my craw:

1) A map of Michigan in a power point presentation, showing the cities that User Experience events have taken place in. They’re all southern lower Michigan with an emphasis on The Planet Ann Arbor. That’s all okay and pretty much expected. But I could *not* figger out why the state map showed the Yoop in a greyed out kind of color. I wonder what the presenters from the State of Michigan web world thought of that? They were great presenters and I’ve been using the site to renew license plates for a *long* time and I’ve always been impressed. Maybe one of them quietly told the UPA that Michigan has *two* peninsulas? I hope so. And in my particular Yooper world, there is broadband Internet on the beach! 😉

2) At the end of the day there was a panel debate scheduled to talk about building web sites for different user types, etc. According to the schedule it was to be a “Racous” (uh, raucous) debate and they did correct that in the powerpoint version of the papers they handed out. It wasn’t. At least while I was there. But when they started lumping me in with the octogenarian set and saying that 50-somethings were more likely to be sitting around knitting and therefore, well, read my last post. I raised my hand fist in the air when they opined that 50-somethings “can’t think of anything to blahg about” and yelled out, “EVERY DAY! EVERY DAY!” Really, it was a Grandroobly kind of thing to do. They identified me as an outlier and then Brooke dragged me outta there ’cause it was time for class.

I don’t want to start an international incident here. The first issue is a kind of lockstep familiar thing. ‘nother post. The second thing, I’m just not sure about. Why the heck did it stick in my craw? The comparison was between baby boomers and their millennium gen (or whatever they call it) children. Actually, it’s a subject that I am greatly interested in. I think my anger was the visceral anger of a person who has [almost] *always* had to prove herself. When I was young, thin, blonde, and Yooper, I had to prove that I *had* a brain. Now, I have to prove that my brain still works. In this case, to a panel of people, one or two of whom I think *are* “boomers”, who have identified me as an outlier. Sigh. And anyone who thinks that knitting is a mindless activity needs to visit for a bit with a knitter or two. Of all ages.

Okay, got that off my chest. I’m going back there tomorrow for more fun and it will be fun and I will not forget my jacket and gloves again. Forget? Me? Forget? Duh. Say what? Speak slowly, I’m blonde. Sigh.

Going to See Green Guy

Monday, June 12th, 2006

GrokgrokgrokGROK!! I don’ wanna go with you! grok grok I wanna go back to kzoo! grokgrok grook bagrawk! I’ll jest go saddle up buoy 22 now ‘n’ head over there. grok grok. Smokie! Get the frog juice ‘n’ listerine! grok grok.

Froggy!!! That is just about enough! Don’t you want to go see The Commander? And Radical Betty? And your owner is going to meet us up there! And what about Grinch? And your buddy Green Guy?

Squee-grawk! Squee-grawk! GREEN GUY!!! Sproing! Sproing! We’re gonna go see Green Guy? Squee-grawk! Squee-grawk! You didn’t tell me that, you old bag! Squee-grawk! Yeah, lemme hop right into th’ car here! Sproing! Squee-grawk!

Uh, Smokie, will you sedate him or something? Quick!

Grok grok. Yeah, Frog juice, with a little chaser of Listerine. grok grok hic grok. hic-zzzzzzzzzzz grokka

And, with that, I guess we are off to the Great White North.

Happy Birthday Rey! Or Was It Yesterday?

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

Well, I have Rey’s birthday as the 7th, so I thought it was today. The Grand Poohbah says it was yesterday though. Yeah, that would be 666. Anyway, today or yesterday, he is 19 now. Other birthdays I have for June are:

  • Pengo Janetto: June 8. She’ll be 17 and I did not forget hers!
  • Tatsuo (Roberta’s late husband): June 9
  • An Anniversary: Harry and Bubs: June 16
  • Teri: June 19 (around my age ;-))
  • Radical Betty: June 20 (at least 110)

Who else? Comment or email me to lemme know.

btw: the main source for this stuff is a calendar The Commander gave me at least 10 years ago. That means it’s pretty much complete up through the Fin G4 generation, since the youngest of those kids is 17. And I probably have every Mac except maybe Alec. Jan has to fill me in on the Fin G5, since she’s the only one of us G3ers with grandchildren. The GG and Kathy my sister-in-law are my main Courtois sources.

Black Thumb Banana

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

Location: The Planet Ann Arbor. Weather: actually pretty nice. Bank: three trips, number two was because I forgot my debit card on number one :-/ Post office: two trips. Westgate Kroger uscan: one trip, yes, only one. Laundry: two loads. Mood: actually pretty okay. What next: gardening, I guess. Or whatever you call gardening when it’s me that’s doing it. I am a terrible gardener who kills plants by merely looking at them. grok grok. Just call her Black Thumb Banana. grok grok. I always try to blame this on the fact that I grew up spending my summers in the woods, where there are plenty of plants around that grow all on their own without any human intervention. But the truth is that lots of people have beautiful gardens on the shores of Gitchee Gumee. I was just more interested in other pursuits, such as running around with my cousins and other beach urchins, acting like a wild Indian. Yeah, I know that’s not politically correct but when I was a kid I was fascinated with Native American culture and I wanted to *be* an Indian! Preferably as wild an Indian as possible! So 😛

Anyway, it has always been a challenge for me to deal with my yard here on the Planet Ann Arbor. I don’t know the first thing about gardening and this is typically what happens:

  • In March or April, we get an isolated warm, sunny day or two, so I go out there and ramble around randomly, pick up a few stray sticks, rake some leaves. I think to myself, “if I just came out here for an hour or so a day, I could get this place cleaned up. Maybe not filled with beautiful flowering plants, but cleaned up.”
  • It proceeds to snow for a week or so.
  • The YAG spring play comes along and I have NO time to do anything but hang around at rehearsals or on the computer or deal with some disgruntled parent.
  • The play is over, it is now mid-May and I am just about flat on the ground. I inch my head up far enough to look out in the back yard and it is totally overgrown, so I lie back down again.
  • It gets to be Memorial Day and we leave town.
  • When I get back, I have to go hucklety-buck to organize the summer theatre academy.
  • Then it gets to be the 4th of July and we leave again.
  • Ad infinitum ad nauseam.

I do not have YAG this year. It is early May and I have been traveling rather frenetically in and out of town since January. I do not know what to do with my life next or where to start. The yard is not totally overgrown yet. It seems possible to actually make some headway. So today, I put on my nice new sloggin’ around shoes and headed out back to tackle this year’s crop of weeds. I pulled up dandelions and things. I picked up leaves and sticks. I almost stepped on a cute toadie. grokgrokgrokgrok!!! A toadie?!? Can me and Smokie have the toadie? grokgrokgrok frgok! ooh ooh ooh ah ah! There’s a lot more to be done. And then there is the basement. And the shed. And all my fiber art crap. And. And. And. I was alone today and I didn’t have anything but random chores and errands on my schedule so I *forced* myself do something constructive and actually made some minor progress and I think I feel kind of okay. Like even though I can’t quite figure out where I’m going next in life, life *is* gonna go on and it’s gonna take me with it and someday there will again be days when I am so happy and crazy that nobody can stand me. And maybe there’ll even be days when I will make a difference in the world. At least maybe I’ll get the yard cleaned up. Put on yer purple sloggin’ shoes, Black Thumb Banana, and slog on. grokgrokgrokGROK!!

The 2-year-old Summer

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Anyone who remembers the infamous 2-Year-Old Summer at the Finlayson Family Old Cabin will probably laugh a little hysterically when I say that it can be a challenge to share a family cabin with, well, a family. An extended one, that is. I do not really remember the 2-Year-Old Summer. I am told that the shores of Gitchee Gumee were persistently dark, chilly, and rainy that summer. I have a few vague little bits of memories, one of which is of me and two other little girls (you know who you are) standing in ankle-deep water wearing little blue Keds tennis shoes. No adult in sight. A flagrant violation of The Rules. Maybe I’ll get The Commander and Radical Betty and Bubs to guest-blahg about the 2-Year-Old Summer some time. I bet they remember it clearly, in big, bright, primary colors. Either that or they’ve blocked it!

We have been alone here at the Courtois Cabin at Houghton Lake for a couple of days. I love it here and it is nice to have the place to ourselves. But the weekend was filled with in-laws and I miss them. It is not always easy to share a living space with extended family members, adult siblings and whatnot, even for a few days. We all run our own lives and have our own opinions and do things our own way. People need varying degrees of space and, even in a place as big as this, it isn’t always easy to get away from all the lively discussion and exuberant activity that is typical of the Courtois family in general. And I know how hard it can be to live with me! But it is worth it to try to make things work out and it is pretty fun with a bunch of people here. As my own family experiences a period of dwindling numbers, spending the weekend with a big bunch of Courtoises reminds me that I am not as alone as I sometimes feel these days. You guys are the best and I’m happy to be a part of this family.

We are heading back to the Planet Ann Arbor in a little while and I am happy to report that the garbage truck came by this morning and the new garbage contraption worked out very well indeed. Tangentially yours, Garbage Woman.

Track Meet

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Go Grand Blanc! I am a sports fan today. Track and field. Pengo Janetto was running in a meet in Ypsi and Karen was a carpool driver and I have never been to a track meet before and the GG and Bud turned off the lucky-shucky at the landfill, so Mouse (who was home for the day) and I took off to the track meet. We are totally sunburnt and dried out but it was a blast! I’ve never been all that crazy about watching sports like football but running I can understand. That is about all there is. Go Grand Blanc!


Friday, April 21st, 2006

“What kind of aminal is that?” I asked the 2-year-old in the woods. She was intently watching a squirrel as her young parents looked on. I guess I look like one of those scary people who shouldn’t talk to little kids, even when they’re with their parents, because her dad replied, “It’s a squirrel.” grok grok. Scary person? grok grok. She’s the Ugly Old Witch of Ritsema Woods. grok grok. Don’t let ‘er try to fool you. grok grok. She *roasts* children! grok grok FROGGY!!! I declare! I don’t let my tadpoles get anywhere near her! grok grok Froggy, you do NOT have any tadpoles! …… *Do* you??????

Anyway, I know what a squirrel is and I hate when people answer questions for other people, even though I have been known to do it myself. I know there are those who think I am not particularly crazy about little kids but I do sometimes enjoy them. Especially when they seem excited about something and are NOT throwing a full-tilt boogie tantrum in the aisle of the Pioneer High Auditorium or yelling things like, “you’re strangling me!” loudly enough for everybody in the Westgate Kroger to hear.

But that’s okay. It wasn’t really a big deal whether I talked to the kid or not. I was just wandering around in the woods, mindlessly for the most part. But it got me remembering that in our little batch of G4 Fin cousins, quite a wide variety of pronunciations for the word squirrel emerged as the girls each reached the 2-year-old stage. Lizard Breath came pretty close to mimicking adult speech with “shirrel”. Valdemort’s “sirker” was probably about the most creative and it is my all time favorite word for squirrel. Mouse, of course, enunciated “squirrel” with perfect precision. And Pengo would just let out a bloodcurdling scream upon encountering a squirrel. I can’t remember what the reason for that was but it was definitely not fear! I don’t know what that kid in the woods called the aminal she was watching but if y’all ever hear me say “there’s a sirker”, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Travels with Jane

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

I do not know where to start. Even without skunk cabbage or grinches or sightings or wine shops or ice floes or taiko drummers or fires real and imagined, that was a pretty wild trip. I don’t actually have a nickname for my youngest G3 Fin cousin Jane. She’s just Jane. Don’t get me wrong, this Jane is *not* Plain Jane in any way-shape-form, but, somehow, Jane just seems to be enough name for Jane. Anyway, she needed to get off The Planet Ann Arbor and I can’t exactly talk about my state of mind, restless is the best I can do. So. Road trip! Where? North, of course, to check up on the beach and the octogenarians et al.

On the surface, Jane and I do not seem to have a lot in common. She is young and single and employed and well-traveled. I am old and loooonng-married and unemployed and my travel consists mainly of bombing up and down the I75 SUV Speedway. Over the years, Jane and I have spent a lot of time together, sitting on the beach watching boats and birds and people through binoculars and indulging in an occasional adult beverage. Coffee or beer, use your imagination. But we have never taken a trip together. Fun? Yeah! We have some similar interests including hiking and kayaking and driving and an occasional adult beverage (or two), among others. We both like to read, although my stack of unread New Yorkers is *much* higher than Jane’s. Oh the other hand, I have probably read more kids’ books than she has, at least I’ve probably read more of them aloud. I dunno if that strikes a balance or not and, anyway, who cares. We seem to like about the same level of excitement. Not too much sitting around but when it is time to sit, it’s time to sit.

I have to report that there are some definite signs that things are different in the Great White North. Where there was once a schedule, you know, 10:30 pick up the mail, 2:00 get the paper, 5:00 cocktail, etc., etc., a social calendar of sorts is emerging, not that the things on the schedule are not being done too. But things are going pretty well up there. Silver linings exist and life is moving on. A matriarchical society is emerging and, if I were the boogeyman, I would not want to mess with some of those octo-women. Thinking of them gives me strength on the days that I just do not want to get out of bed. And there are more of those lately than I want to admit but please don’t worry about me. I *do* get out of bed. Every day. Early. And I walk. Every day. Early. And I am definitely okay. Or will be. And, you know, The Houghton Lake Resorter is crazy and Car Kit can just be damned and can I be a taiko drummer too?

Fire, Skunk Cabbage & Other Crazy UP Adventures

Sunday, April 16th, 2006

A beautiful day of serendipity in which:

  • The Grinch, yeah, that’s the same one who stole Christmas, banishes the Easter Bunny to an ice berg in Lake Superior and raucously insinuates himself into our Easter brunch.
  • grok grok grok. Do NOT forget about the Easter Frog! frok grook
  • Jane, Radical Betty, and I discover a grass fire between the Curley Lewis Highway and the adjacent beach near Salt Point. Lacking drywall buckets, we quickly alert the folks at the nearby fish hatchery who tell us that help is on the way and various emergency vee-hickles soon arrive to put it out. You guys, putcher cigarettes out in your vee-hickle ashtrays please.
  • The rule of thumb is that if the water and air temperature do not add up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a wet suit is necessary for kayaking. We do not have wet suits.
  • We discover that it is a good season for Skunk Cabbage in the swampier areas of the North Country Trail near Naomikong Point.
  • With *much* discussion and the help of bird field guides old and new, we ascertain (we think) that the big white bird we saw out in the lake at Naomikong was a Tundra Swan. Known in the 1947 field guide as a Whistling Swan.
  • We discover with great glee that there is now an outhouse at Naomikong Point and use it five times between the three of us.
  • We discover the means by which Harry locks his shed.
  • Jane, Grinch, Radical Betty and I ring in the summer season with G & Ts while watching ice floes in the bay and lake freighters inch their way up into Whitefish Bay.

The Rules

Saturday, April 15th, 2006

The only important rules in life:

  1. Do not go swimming without getting an adult to watch you.
  2. Do NOT throw sand!!!


Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

“Moom, I already know that. It was on Val’s away message.” Apparently, Valdemort’s instant messenger away message is a kind of a blahg in its own right and that’s where my kids having been going to get the latest Fin Family news. A little bit of competition, maybe?