Archive for the 'life-death-universe' Category

Empty Nest No More

Friday, June 9th, 2006

With Mouse’s arrival on Wednesday, my life changed overnight from a world that was a little too silent for my taste to a whirlwind of talk and activity. I was ready for Mouse to leave last fall. Unlike some mothers, I am happy to see my kids grow up and move on. I was busy and I looked forward to having fewer people to have to take care of, not that Mouse has ever had any particular need to be taken care of.

Life was not easy this year and by the end of the year, I was sitting on the ground wondering what had hit me and what was next. One minute the future would seem filled with an overwhelming number of choices. The next I’d be looking into a big black void. I am not good at being idle and I was starting to make some progress, albeit in small ways. But it was too silent around here.

Since Wednesday, it has not been silent here. Teenagers are in and out at all hours of the day and night. We have driven all over hell and gone running errands and having lunch, etc. (Note to self: do not buy Mouse coffee again. Tea may be a better choice.) There is a lot of talk. About knitting, school, knitting, religion, knitting, politics, knitting, sewing, knitting, palindromes, knitting, life, death, and the universe. Did I mention knitting?

Mouse will return to kzoo as a sophomore in the fall. Then there’ll be study abroad and senior year and graduation and on into the world. It’ll go fast and I will get used to the empty nest again. Somehow, I will find my way into a future of doing something worthwhile that makes me happy. For now, I am glad I have a teenager at home for the summer. It is not silent here now.

Weekend on the Planet

Sunday, June 4th, 2006
  • Walked downtown to see Dr. Ralph Stanley at The Ark on Friday night. I didn’t realize I liked bluegrass music but it was great and I only started nodding off about ten minutes before the end, even though I had to sit in a seat for two hours with no computer or beadwork or anything. Dr. Stanley did the music for the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, which I enjoyed watching (until I fell asleep) once this winter at Houghton Lake.
  • I admit that I have thought more than once in the last year, “oh brother where art thou.”
  • I suppose since I am a musician, I should do a music post one of these days. But not today.
  • Migrated some entries to my “new” blahg.
  • VACUUMED the front and back living rooms, even moved some of the furniture and vacuumed BEHIND it. I HATE to vacuum, especially when I have to move a bunch of cosmic debris to find the floor.
  • Cleaned the kitchen floor for what little that is worth.
  • Started sorting out my fiber arts stuff and making a traveling stash. My fiber arts stuff is still a trenormous rat’s nest of flotsam and jetsam. And, yes, cosmic debris.
  • Lemme see. Did I go to the Westgate Kroger uscan or not? I went today but I can’t remember if I went yesterday. grok grok grok. You old bag.
  • Had a hilarious telephonic conversation with Lizard Breath about dynamite and guns and anthropology and sightings and octowomen and I forget what else. Life, death, the universe, and everything, I guess. I needed that, kiddo.
  • Walked downtown with Jane (not cousin) and Ken and Vicki and Paul and ate on Palio’s roof. Just when we got done eating, it started to *pour*! So we retreated down to the bar for a nightcap.
  • I needed female conversation this weekend and I did get some. I don’t always get enough.
  • There are advantages to having friends of both genders but lately I tend to prefer female companionship. Probably because I seem to need to talk more than usual. Coffee anyone?
  • Planned an all-out assault on the so-called lawn, a mass of moss, dandelions and other weeds. Actually everything but grass. It’s so bad that Chemlawn came to the door one day and asked if I needed help with my lawn “issues.” Yeah, probably, but not from Chemlawn.
  • Weeded the “garden” in front of the house with a few close encounters of the poison ivy kind. At least I hope they were close encounters. No rash yet.
  • We saddled up the jeep and trailer and braved the roads with dysfunctional tail-lights to obtain some more mulch. I love garden stores. Too bad I kill plants.

kaboom (not)

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

“There was enough dynamite there to blow up this house and the two houses on either side of it.” -Bomb Squad guy. My house was one of those “either side” houses.

Yesterday morning, after winning a knock-down, drag-out fight with WordPress, I went outside to get my vee-hickle and go forage for food somewhere. As I drove out of the driveway, I noticed a police car parked at the end of the block. I can count on one hand the number of times someone has had to call the police to our street in the last 22 years, so it is always a little odd to see a police car. What was even odder was that the cops were just kind of lounging around by the back of the car. I couldn’t figure it out. Lunch maybe?

I drove across town to Whole Foods and totally forgot about the police. But when I got back, they were still there. This was getting to be really strange. I fooled around with my hoses and sprinklers for a little bit, hoping they would do something that would give me a clue about why they were there. Finally, I went inside.

A little bit later, I looked outside again and there was another city police car, a state police car, and a big armoured truck with “Sterling Heights Bomb Squad” written on the side. At that, I decided I was done being shy. The state cop was closest, so I asked him what was going on and he said, “There’s nothing to worry about. We’re just picking something up. You’re safe Ma’am.”

Picking something up? Say what? I couldn’t think what else to ask, so I just went back inside. As it turned out, our next door neighbor, who lost her husband in March, had discovered some dynamite and other explosives in her basement. She asked another neighbor about how to dispose of it and he took one look and said, “You really need to get the police.” So she called and the bomb squad came out. They were suitably impressed with the stash and later that afternoon, I saw them in Vet’s Park having a field day blowing up various bits and pieces of dynamite or whatever burning dynamite, which is, I’m told, one way to get rid of it. Boys will be boys and most of the boys I know like to blow things up. Chris was no exception and I’m sure he’s having a good laugh over there on the other side somewhere.

I am okay and the Landfill is still intact, darn it.

Happy Birthday, Ol’ Man

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

Email from Jim, April 21, 2005, 8:29 AM: “I’m planning on going up for Jack’s B’day. FYI.”

I remember clearly the flood of thought that washed through my brain on reading that message. “Does he want company?” “What do I do about YAG?” I loved road trips with my brother and his dog. But we had performances going on for one play and another play was going up in a couple weeks. May 9th fell during that play’s tech week. It was not the best time for me to be out of town. I knew if I missed part of tech week I would probably return to find some kind of mess that would just make more work for me.

But something, Celtic sixth sense or whatever you want to call it, said, “to hell with YAG. You are not indispensible and somebody else can cover for you. Go north.” And so I did. Jim and Valdemort and Sam (dog, not archaeologist) and I loaded ourselves into Jim’s Honda minivan and headed up. Miraculously, in a region of the country where it can snow as late as June, we had a little bit of summer that weekend. The boys fooled around with their fancy new garage. I kayaked to Cedar Point. When we asked Grandaddy what he wanted for his birthday dinner, “hot dog on a bun,” was the reply. A man of simple tastes. No fish or any of “that green stuff”, aka eggplant parmesan, thank you very much.

I saw my brother alive and walking around one more time, at Mouse’s graduation party. Our next meeting was in a hospital intensive care unit. He was unconscious by the time I arrived to say goodbye. If hindsight is worth anything at all, it’s because those of us he left behind get some comfort from speculating that he likely knew a year ago he was not going to live much longer. The trip to the UP was the last chance to see his parents, visit his garage, and walk the beach.

We didn’t predict that Jack would die before his next birthday. I certainly didn’t expect him to live forever and at 86 years, just about anything can happen at any time. On the other hand, he was pretty darn healthy for an old coot. Living a quiet lifestyle with The Commander looking after him, he might’ve motored along indefinitely. But that changed instantaneously when he slipped on ice January 31. After a mind-bogglingly horrific odyssey through two hospitals and a rehabilitation facility, he slipped away on March 23.

Happy birthday, ol’ man. Wherever you are, I hope there’s a little snort (or two) of Jack Daniels. And a hot dog on a bun. A cookie or two or three. S-A-N-D. A sunny, warm, fly-free beach next to a shipping channel filled with lake freighters. Jim and Sam to walk the beach and look under vee-hickle hoods with. Duke and Don and Lewie and some of the others who went before you. And a few B52 bombers doing a tree-top flyover. Love.

Octo Meddling?

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

Hose nozzles. Candle holders. A debit card. Keys. Those are some of the things that are missing around here. This is starting to feel like an octo house. I know I put the hose nozzles away last fall. I remember putting them in some logical, obvious place down in the landfill dungeon. I cannot find them. Anywhere. The landfill dungeon is a dank, dark, spidery place. It is really not fun to look around down there for stuff. I think that octogenarians are sneaking into my house and gleefully squirreling my stuff away into odd little nooks and crannies. Either that or a certain ol’ man out there on the other side somewhere is trying to mess with my mind. Where are my nozzles? I need my nozzles.

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!!

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?

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!!!

Goodbye Mo and Landfill Birds

Friday, April 14th, 2006

When will it end? We are down yet another Birch Point Beach pack member. Yesterday, Jan and Pete made the very difficult decision to put down their beloved golden retriever Mo, who had been very ill the last month. He will be greatly missed but I’m sure Sam and Jim have already welcomed him on the Rainbow Bridge. Now, please, please, please can we stop with all of this so I can write about something a little happier already?

And, in that light, there are black-capped chickadees living in a bird house attached to the side of the Carbeck Landfill. According to the birder of the house, that is very unusual. But this place has always been Bird Central. No cats allowed. And here are a few of our bird adventures over the years:

  • When Lizard Breath was about 18 months old, a blue jay decided to nest in the top of our apple tree. Baby Liz and her daddy watched day after day as the blue jays built the nest. Every day, they checked the mama blue jay’s eggs and later on the newly hatched birdies. Until grackles came along and ate them.
  • For years, robins nested on top of an outdoor light on the back of the landfill outside Lizard Breath’s bedroom. We were forbidden to use the adjacent door or even to sit outside in the vicinity of the nest. In the wee hours of one morning, the GG somehow figured out that a cat was after the newly fledged birdies and he got up, got dressed and went outside no less than three times to try to evict it. To no avail. One year, the robins didn’t come back and no birds have nested there since.
  • Then there are the woodpeckers that peck our metal fireplace chimney every spring. Several years in a row, a particularly persistent bird insisted on drilling away on the darn thing at sunrise every single blasted morning, waking up everybody in the house and a few of the neighbors too. Drrrrrrr. Drrrrrr. Small children were terrified of that noise until they saw through our spotting scope that it was just a very silly little bird.
  • And how could I forget Willow, a wild baby bird that was foisted upon us one time (yeah, I know). Willow was a “junk bird”, i.e., one of those birds that hang out picking at french fries in fast food parking lots. The GG fed her baby bird food and bonded with her (I do not know Willow’s true gender). She fledged during a trip to the UP (yeah, I know) but alas, after we returned home, her cage door was accidentally left open and she made an escape, never to return.

There are birdhouses tacked up all over the outside of the landfill here. Some of them are simple ones that the GG constructed with brownie girl scout troops. Others are fancier ones that we collected during a time when we were a little more into acquiring things than we are now that the landfill is, well, full. There is a riot of loud chirping going on all around the house as I write this and that indicates that we have no vacancies here! And right in the front birdhouse, above my garbage can, are black-capped chickadees!

Important Stuff

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

A visit with my Aunt Roberta today was yet another reminder that family and good friends are pretty much the only things in life that matter and that the procession of generations is what keeps things going. I don’t allow myself to think deeply about that stuff too often because the gamut of emotions that reverberate throughout my body and mind is almost too much. Most of it I can’t put into words. What words I do have are between me and the Big Dipper. Sorry. grok grok. “think deeply?” You? grok grok Thank you Frooooooogy. You and The Marquis are always good for keeping me somewhere near the ground.

Life, Death, Infinity, & the Procession of Generations

Monday, April 10th, 2006

So, I am back on The Planet Ann Arbor again. Sigh. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Planet Ann Arbor. It’s a place where, for the most part, you can be just about whoever you want to be and it’s a great place to raise kids. Others may differ on that last but they can just go jump in the canal. But, I dunno, I am just restless. A chapter of my life has ended somehow and I am at a loss about how to start the next one. That leaves me with too much time to think. About life. And death. Infinity. The procession of generations. What the *heck* to cook for dinner. Real estate developers. Volcanoes. Not necessarily in that order…

Lost in the Swamp

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

Okay, ol’ man, wherever you are, just go ahead and gnoff. I don’t care and you deserve a good gnoff after all the horrible crap you went through.

I really, really, really needed to go for a hike in the north woods this weekend. So, we are here at Houghton Lake and today, the Twinz of Terror and Liz (sister-in-law, not any of those others) and Randy and I went up to the Mason Tract to hike along the South Branch of the Au Sable River. It was a gorgeous day for hiking, cold but not a cloud in the sky. No bugs except for one early member of a non-threatening species of lepidoptera. The river was high and fast and sparkling.

We parked our vee-hickles at the trail head, marker 13, at Chase Bridge. The original plan was to walk in to trail marker 9 and then turn around and walk back out. That would be 8.6 miles. But when we got as far as marker 10, Liz realized she had lost her glasses (bad thing, and they were not found!), so she and Randy turned around then to try and find them. The rest of us decided that the GG would also turn around and help look for the glasses and then continue on back to the trail head and get the car. Bob and I would continue on hiking up to marker 3, where the GG would pick us up.

When we got to marker 9, instead of going left, away from the river, which is where the trail went, we went right. Until the trail petered out. Instead of being smart and walking back to marker 9 and figuring out where the correct trail was, we decided to cut across country and connect back up to it. Smart idea, right? Swamp? No way, not here in the north woods. Oh, c’mon, Yooper Woman, you know better than that. Wrong. Bob kept saying cheerful things like, “this looks like a trail” (uh, not) and “this is where you find people like Jimmy Hoffa.” Were we wet? I know *I* was, with my velcro sandals and polartech socks! Scratched up and bloody, too. Eventually, we managed to locate the trail again and, when we looked at the map on the next trail marker, we realized that we had probably slogged and floundered along through the quagmire for a mile or maybe more, given that our path was not exactly straight.

Jack was a great hiker who knew his way around the woods and how to *not* get lost, so I’m sure that our little adventure gave him a good gnoff. When we all finally got connected back up again at the trail head, we headed off to Jack’s Place. Yes, there really is a barroom with that name in Roscommon County. I wish we had remembered to get a picture. We had a little snort in Jack’s honor and then we sang a rousing, almost tuneful round of the theme song from Gilligan’s Island. No, the singing didn’t have anything to do with Jack. I really don’t quite know how that got started or why we were doing it. But it was fun and even though I wasn’t drunk, I sang with gusto anyway. I actually knew most of the words.

Goodbye Sam (dog, not archaeologist)

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

Life. And death. We are down another pack member. Those who also read Karen’s blahg will know that she made the very difficult decision to put down her 13-year-old dog, Sam. It took place this morning. He was having a lot of problems and it was time.

Back in the old days, I spent some time every summer taking care of the Grand Blanc Fin cousins at the cabin and Sam was always a part of that package. He knew me as “Anne-mom” and although he regarded me as a rather poor substitute for his *real* mom and dad, he did include me in his pack. He was a highly intelligent, extraordinary dog who kept very close tabs on his pack count. I was proud to be a pack member and I will miss Sam.

Okay. Sam is gone and I am about done. Throughout the whole last year or so of shit, people kept saying, “you know, troubles come in threes.” Threes? It feels more like about 15 now between various deaths and job loss and other rather smaller things. Karen and I were talking about that and how three of our Finlayson pack members are now walking the beach: Jim, Jack, and Sam. That’s a BIG three. I DECLARE that this is the end and GOOD things are going to start happening now! I am going to FORCE myself to stop moping around and do something constructive. Maybe even artistic. It’s time. OKAY? OKAY! As my brother is probably saying right this minute, “KEE-REIST!”

Oh yeah, and I am NOT going to sew my finger!!!

My Brother Married a Flutist

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

My brother did a lot of good things in his life but one of the best had to be to marry a flutist! One who sometimes drags me out of my musical stupor to do something flutey. Yesterday, our plan was to participate in a Native American flute workshop at the Flint Institute of Music. Not only was I overdue for some kind of musical experience, this was a week that I desperately needed the companionship of a female friend. All of the usual Ann Arbor suspects were out of town or couldn’t be scared up for whatever reason. Sigh 😉

I drove up to Grand Blanc and we caught lunch at a nearby restaurant and then had some good dog time. Along the way, we caught up on all the bits and pieces of our so-called lives, kids and octogenarians and work or lack thereof in my case :-/ and bombed-out houses and aminals grok grok and you name it.

We got to the workshop only to find out that the presenter was stuck in an airport in Oklahoma or somewhere. But there were still flute choirs to listen to and a chance to participate in one and we were certainly up for that. I have been on plenty of stages in the last ten years or so but usually it has been to deliver food to the stage manager of one play or another. Definitely not to perform. Yesterday, Karen and I were two of about twelve flutists of all ages and abilities and we read through five or six pieces, ending with an arrangement of The Pink Panther scored for 100 flutes! It was a total riot! Non-competitive, unlike Interlochen or college. No big egos involved.

We finished off the day with a cappuccino at the Indian Hills neighborhood Starbucks and then I said goodbye to the dogz and Karen and Pengo Janetto and jumped onto southbound US23. Perfect day. Until I got about two miles north of the M14 interchange. I was passing someone at about 75 mph when I realized that there was a po-lice car with its lights on *directly* behind me and my cute little Honda Civic. YIKES!!! I completed my pass and prepared to pull off, thinking something like, “shit, this is my first speeding ticket ever!” Wonder of wonders, HE KEPT RIGHT ON GOING! WHEW! A moment later, another po-lice car passed me. I got onto M14 and prepared to make my ascent up to the Planet Ann Arbor when I saw both of those po-lice cars pulling somebody else off. They were obviously after someone for something but it was not me. This time. grok grok You should’ve asked me for (grok grok) a ride on buoy 22. grook grook Froogy, you and buoy 22 are grounded, remember?

The day didn’t turn out exactly as planned but it just didn’t matter because Karen and I actually got to spend some time hanging out together somewhere besides a goddamn horspittle. We have spent too darn much time hanging around horspittles in the last couple years. THANK YOU BRO’, wherever you are, for marrying a flutist. THANK YOU KAREN, for dragging me out of the walking train wreck I seemed to be stuck in.

One Hundred Percent

Friday, March 10th, 2006

Good news? Hmmmm. Yes, I do actually have some. By some miracle, I managed to get 100% on the mid-term test I took a couple weeks ago. I had all but forgotten about that test because I blasted up to the Yoop the next day. For the life of me, I do not know how I got that score. There were some truly surreal multiple choice questions. I had to parse them right down to individual words about five times before I could even begin to figure out what they meant. That is all. Yeah, I know, that’s not much, is it? I am happiest when I am operating in a head down, one foot in front of the other mode, preferably at full-tilt boogie. In other words, when I have a mission, even though I may not always completely understand what the mission is. But I have been adrift this week. Not fun.

Update: Good news item number two: Jacob the cat actually came out and let me *pet* him a bit today! His sister Sarah is a pretty good friend of mine but Jacob is quite a bit more skeptical.

Get a Grip

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Kee-reist, woman. FOCUS!!! Yeah, grok GROK! ooh ooh ooh ah ah!