Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

On a normal day in a normal year…

Friday, August 7th, 2020

After returning from the moomincabin to the Planet Ann Arbor, like just a year ago, I wouldda probly gone out to a couple o’ grokkery stores to stock up. I got back yesterday and I didn’t need to do any immediate grokkery shopping. That was a good thing because I was having a HARD TIME figgering out what the heck we needed, not to mention where/when to obtain it from. As much as I love grocery pickup and delivery, I still struggle a bit with it.

So I have a pickup order into the Plum Market for tomorrow morning and I’m planning to put in a delivery order to Argus tomorrow and I’ll probably hit up the Whine Castle for for some stuff and I hope nobody notices the, er, rifles in the trunk when I do my pickups. I guess I should remove them…

Experimenting a bit, I have set up an account with Daily Harvest for what seem to be prepared meals, sorta. I have not been entranced with the idea of services like Blue Apron. I’m not crazy about the idea of somebody somewhere packaging every little bitty thing in plastic or whatever and sending it to me. But this sounds kind of good and I got wind of it via one of my 1st cousins once removed. A young family that I am in awe of.

Poldark series? Yes. Reading the books and watching the series. On my phone.


Thursday, August 6th, 2020

Found this photoooo on my phone yesterday afternoon. I guess I “took” it Tuesday evening? It wasn’t intentional but it’s kinda cool in an almost painterly sorta way.

I am WIPED! Today was a driving day, at least for meeeee. It was fine except for when the maintenance light came on in my 12-year-old vee-hickle. I hate dashboard lights with a passion but I didn’t panic. I just hit the “select” button and it said oil life 10% or something. That means I need an oil change so not a big deal. This particular vee-hickle (knock on wood) has NEVER given us one iota of trouble. The taaaaar light used to come on with great frequency and usually that was basically nothing except a tire was just a weeeeee bit low on pressure. I grew somewhat complacent about it until the day it came on as I was driving to Cubelandia and when I left in the afternoon, I had a flat tire. Nail. I don’t really know how to change a taaaar so I had to call the GG. Well, actually I *theoretically* know how to change a tire but have never successfully changed one and didn’t want to spend the next hour dredging up the tools and figgering out to use them. He just, uh, changed it.

This was another non-stop solo pandemic trip down and I made myself SIT and DRINK a BIG glass of WATER when I got home. And then I kinda SAT for a while, eventually gearing up to throw some laundry in and move chairs around the back yard because my cousins were bringing My Dear Uncle Harry over for socially distanced pizza and whine. And that worked out well because the last thing I wanted to do this afternoon was cook, even though it wouldda just been meeee and I brought back a bunch of leftovers. PLUS! Two big refrigerator bags of frozen meat, etc. that I DIDN’T USE! Why did I think we needed so much food for a two week sojourn at the moomincabin? I do not know. It’s now in the Landfill freezer and I guess we’ll use it up eventually.

I’ll cut this boring bunch of blather off now because obviously I do not have much to say. You’re welcome. G’night.

Checkin’ in, checkin’ out

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

Before I left on this vacay, because I am such a goody two-shoes, I told Amazon Woman I would check in via my work laptop to see what was going on with the building I have schlepped to for all these years and is now going away. The main thing was that there is a schedule for all of us to enter the building and remove everything we want from our cubes. There isn’t much in mine but that’ll be a story for another day and I’ll tell it then. I finally checked my email today. A plan is in place and my scheduled date is fine with me.

Mouse/Raccoon are checking in to the moomincabin later tonight and weeee are checking out tomorrow morning. Any other year we would all be together at least for the overnight but this is not any other year and it doesn’t seem prudent to share space with anyone you haven’t been isolated with for months on end, not to mention that Mouse/Raccoon are grocery workers. Fortunately we do not have to sleep in the same space because we can sleep in the Lyme Lounge, which we have been doing anyway because we LIKE to sleep in the Lyme Lounge. It’s pretty awful to not be able to hang out with your kids (not to mention grandchildren, which I don’t have but sooo many friends do and so hard). Any other year, we would welcome our children to the moomincabin with hugs and ‘hattans. This year freezer ‘hattans will have to do.

I had to laugh (what else can you do?). Mouse and I were texting about what food was here and what she might need to bring up. At one point I reminded her that Meijer does a great job on curbside pickup. I also said something like “this seems like a ridiculous thing to say to a grocery worker”. Mouse/Raccoon have been going INSIDE Meijer since the beginning and they work in grokkery stores, albeit “upscale” stores in relatively liberal areas. I don’t think they have personally had to deal with the mask policing issue but PLEASE remember that whatever you think about masks, grocery workers are risking their lives to provide you with food. It isn’t their fight to fight so wear yer damn mask and shaddup.

So it finally warmed up enough for me to take off my tights and socks sometime this afternoon. These pics are from the moomincabin living room over the last couple days. The first is the GG sitting in my dad’s regular seat back in the day. In the second, I was sitting in that rocking chair taking a pic of the GG. That is our not up to code stairway to the sleeping loft. The Commander always used to sit in the rocking chair in her later years, which blocked access to get to the stairway/ladder. It drove me crazy but now I sit there too…

Except not so much this summer because I have been outside most of the time.

I bet these would rate high on @RoomRater 🐽

Yooper failure

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

When I was packing for this trip to the yooperland, I considered packing a pair of smartwool leggings. And made a conscious decision NOT to. I am a native yooper and a little nagging voice in the back of my head was saying something like, “Bad idea, KW!” Nevertheless, I didn’t persist. We had a bunch of hot humid weather and then August rolled in and the wind started coming out of the [frickin’] NORTHEAST. That’s a COLD wind. It shifted a weeeee bit to the NW today. That’s [usually] a warmer wind but it also increased in speed. Was it COLD on the moominbeach? Yes! It was even COLD on the moomindeck.

Oh, where are my leggings? Oh WHEEEERE are my leggings? Why did I not pack my leggings? I KNOW BETTER THAN THAT! Then… I was organizing my two suitcases into clean and dirty clothing and… Lo and behold, there was a pair of CLEAN red tights! I had packed those for the Memorial Weekend trip and never used them UNTIL TODAY. Nice and cozy.

What I did NOT fail at was mailing my absentee ballot in for the August primary. I can’t remember exactly what day I mailed it but I tracked it via and it was received by the city clerk WELL in advance of the election.

I will not be mailing my November absentee ballot. Mail delivery started getting “squirrely” back in March when COVID hit. I figgered it would smooth out after a while but it never really did and it has been crazier than ever this summer. We don’t always get deliveries (I know there’s at LEAST junk mail). Mail trucks deliver at unpredictable times. Mail folks park in front of my house and hang out for like 20-30 minutes before getting around to delivering mail. Packages ordered spend uncountable numbers of days languishing at some facility in Detroit or wherever.

Now I’m hearing that the Orange Baboon replaced the Postmaster General with one of his cronies earlier in the summer? And the crony has changed a bunch of rules/procedures to “reduce costs”? Is this stuff true? I do not know. I do know that the mail has been squirrely as hell for months now and it has only gotten worse this summer. That’s a personal observation and not something I learned from NPR or Nancy Pelosi. I’ve been sitting on the Green Couch telecommuting since the beginning of this and I see what’s going on.

Therefore, I do not trust the postal service for now. Oh, I mean, it’s okay for junk mail and stuff like that. Almost everything I do that may have once required the mail, I do online now anyway. Probably 95% of our mail goes straight into the recycle cart without even entering the Landfill.

But… 1) I will vote absentee in the November election. 2) I will NOT trust the US Postal Service with my ballot. I will drop it off in a ballot box downtown at the City Clerk’s office WELL before election day, hoping there will not be a crowd of people doing the same thing because COVID… 3) Guess which presidential candidate I am going to vote for 🐽

And the GG scores!

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Some terlet bowl cleaner! The good stuff that cleans the mineral stains from the well water outta the terlet bowl. You don’t even have to scrub. Just spray it around the bowl under the rim and the color magically disappears.

I dunno why but this stuff is *sold* at all the major grokkery stores but they are often out of it. That’s pre-COVID but may be worse now. I was almost OUT here at the moomincabin. I’d’ve had more hanging around but I try not to over-winter liquids at the cabin because the place freezes solid and sometimes bottles break upon thawing. Who KNEW this summer would be a frickin’ pandemic. I CAN store terlet bowl cleaner at the Landfill. Anyway, I couldn’t get it at Meijer so I ordered a couple bottles on Amazon. They’ll probably eventually get delivered (to the Landfill) but since the USPS is the delivery method, we’ll see what happens. If they ever do arrive, I will be MORE THAN READY for NEXT summer.

At any rate, the GG was heading to the [shiny new True Value] hardware store in Brimley this morning and he asked if I needed anything. I rarely need anything from the hardware store so I was about to say no and then it hit me that hardware stores often carry esoteric cleaning products so yeah, The Works! But they probably won’t have it and no substitutes. But! Voila! There he was walking up the driveway with a bottle of our special terlet bowl cleaner in hand.

And so here is a view into our looooovvvverly moomincabin bathroom. We built this place when I was six years old and can I just say at that time in my life, I never wanted for ANYTHING but we were NOT in any way shape or form close to anything resembling “rich”. My parents handed a construction/contractor friend of my dad a small amount of money and said something like, “What can you build for this?” It was VERY small but it has always had some sorta charm, particularly the three BIG picture windows. Those were salvaged from an old store front (and are not shown in this post).

Throughout my childhood, the space in the second pic was called The Little Room. It did not have running water or bathroom fixtures. It was a dark, cluttered warren of storage shelves with just enough space that you could change into your bathing suit or nightgown or whatever without your little brother watching you. Bathroom? We used our outhouse for “body functions” and Gitchee Gumee for bathing. Of course, we swam EVERY day no matter the weather so we were rarely very dirty.

The writing was on the wall when The Commander acquired a daughter-in-law and The Little Room was converted into a bathroom albeit one of the smallest bathrooms on earth. That tub/shower is actually an RV outfit (yes I know RVs have MUCH fancier bathrooms these days) and she had trouble talking someone into installing one in an actual dwelling, humble as ours is.

I didn’t show you the terlet. It’s just a small white terlet and it’s clean but who the heck wants to look at a terlet? You can guess where it is…

Crane Barges and other bote thingies

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

So sometime last week I blahgged about an extremely exciting event involving a couple of dredges and some tug botes traversing the Upper St. Marys River over to the back bay. One of them was the CB Nicolet and I didn’t think too much about that except the “CB” stuck in the back of my mind because I didn’t know what it meant. Was it somebody’s initials?

Yesterday we were on our little Sault Ste. Siberia mini-tour and as we got to the end of Ashmun Street, there was what looked like the Paul Bunyan (with its crane) parked at the lower end of the Soo Locks. I remember the Paul Bunyan going by the moomincabin when I was a kid, making its slow way over to the back bay. Anyway, it wasn’t in its usual parking place, which is Brady Park. But then we drove down through Brady Park and there were three bote-like thingies (with cranes) parked there and one of them was none other than the CB Nicolet.

Seeing the Paul Bunyan up close and personal (and in the “wrong” place) got me googling, which was tricky because if you just google “Paul Bunyan”, you know you’re gonna get a bunch of stuff about, well, Paul Bunyan. And Babe the great blue ox. This was a bote and I couldn’t find it on MarineTraffic (I dunno why). Eventually I found not only the Paul Bunyan bote, I also learned that it is a CB and that CB means Crane Barge. And Crane Barges are not dredges. They are barges with cranes mounted on them. I suppose I couldda asked my Old Cabin cousin (a former Corps of Engineers contractor) what CB meant but I hadn’t formulated a question yet (plus I didn’t remember she used to work for the Corps🐽).

The pic? Last evening we took a LOVELY cruise in the newly title-transferred putt-putt motorbote Bill’s Bote out to the shipping channel where we had the good fortune to encounter two freighters passing. The lake freighter (background) is upbound (the land behind it is Canada). The salty (foreground) is downbound. In moominbeach dialect, a “salty” is an ocean-going bote. Lake freighters aren’t built for ocean travel but salties can handle the Great Lakes. Salties need to have a Great Lakes pilot onboard to traverse the St. Marys River and if you embiggen, you can see the pilot bote clinging to the side of the salty.

So that’s your bit of Great Lakes bote trivia for today. You’re welcome.

Polly-tickle thoughts aside…

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

…because boy oh boy did I have plenty of those today. But I’ll just describe some of our goings-on today and start a mini-tour of our 60-year-old rustic seasonal cabin on the big lake they call Gitchee Gumee.

Pandemic shopping… I had a Meijer Shipt order in for 8-9 AM. It got delayed a couple times, which was okay because it was a BEE-YOO-TY-FUL morning on the beach and that gave us time to have some coffee and for the GG to take a bote ride. Eventually my shopper texted me and he was great! We got everything we asked for… except… a little later I was wondering where is the terlet bowl cleaner? At first I thought it got lost in a minor kerfuffle where the GG jumped out to “help” because Mooon Yooonit’s back end is filled with chain saws and other crapola and there wasn’t enough room back there for the number of bags on the cart our shopper hauled out. Uh, those were NOT all OUR bags. I eventually double-checked my receipt and found that the terlet bowl cleaner was not in stock. I had anticipated that as a possibility and specified NO SUBSTITUTION because The Works (not Green Works) is the ONLY terlet bowl cleaner that disappears the mineral stains that come from our well water.

After Meijer we got some non-ethanol bote gas from Holiday and then I said let’s take a slow drive thru town and by the locks and somehow we ended up getting takeout burgers from the West Pier drive-in, even though we are historically a Clyde’s family. I have to say they were as good as Clyde’s and LESS MESSY but Clyde’s will probably still be our go-to. You can’t stop patronizing a place you remember your GRANDMA driving you to for dinner.

Okay, so moomincabin tour, part 1. We call this the “back” door. Back is toward the woods/swamp/road (to us), front is toward the beach. We have one other door here, the “front door”. It isn’t actually on the “front” of the moomincabin. It is on the west side. So behind me and to my, hmmm, right. When it is hot here, we have the ability to switch out the door windows with screens. So here is the “back” door with the window panel in.

It’s relatively warm today and I had some minor stove-top cooking to do so I changed out the window panel for the screen panel. That allows a bit of coolness to come in from the swamp on a day like today when that’s where most of the breezes are coming from. So I pulled the window out of the back door and replaced it with the screen. That metal-type bar down toward the bottom is so that KW (meeee) doesn’t push the screen out when she hits the door with her butt. You can’t see my freshly washed undies drying out on the back PRail. Oh, maybe you can see a wee bit. No laundromats this summer.

Finally, there are four of these devices on each door. I use a flathead screwdriver to turn each of them to the correct position so that the window or screen can be moved out and replaced.

This is rustic northern great lakes living and I love it.

Public appearance

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Today marks the first time I have gone into any kind of business or governmental establishment since I bought liqwire at the Whine Castle on the way home from Cubelandia on March 12.

Today it was the Secretary of State and I needed to be there in person to transfer the title for an old putt-putt motorbote that belonged to my dad to meeeee (and the GG). I was reeeeallly nervous about this. The GG had organized what paperwork was needed (dad’s death certificate and a couple other things) but I didn’t realize until we got there that I. Had. To. Go. In. There. Alone. I have been inside exactly three indoor spaces since March 13. My house on The Planet Ann Arbor, the moomincabin, and Lizard Breath’s Detroit home long enough to (very carefully) use the water closet.

In the end, the GG was able to come in with me and the transfer happened smoothly. A very limited number of people were allowed inside at a time and masks were required. The counters were disinfected between customers. Two things bothered me. One was that I was NOT six feet away from the only other person at the counter. More like three. The second was that whatever he needed to do couldn’t happen because a female partner or whatever was not there because she “was not feeling well”. That is a LOADED thing to say in this day and age and I sincerely hope she was having “female problems” and not COVID-19 problems.

It was high time we got this bote transfer thingy done since my dad has been gone for 14 years. “Is Mom still alive?” No (8 years). “Any other siblings?” None living (15 years, sigh). We weren’t sure if it would be easy for us to put the GG’s name on the bote but that turned out to be a no brainer. A good thing since he is really the only person who ever uses the bote. In fact, around these parts it is referred to as “Bill’s Bote”.

I have to note that the last time I visited the Sault Ste. Siberia Secretary of State was when The Commander and I LOST her drivers license when she was living in the hospital rehab facility. We had made a visit to her home and for the life of me I can’t figger what happened except that she carried all kinds of paperwork in the seat of her walker and I can only guess it fell out of there. Yes, that was a chaotic period of time.

She was NOT driving any more and so didn’t really need a license but it was a link to her previously independent life and dignity, so after a couple weeks of increasingly contentious discussions about it, I gathered paperwork, took her up to the SOS, and helped her get a replacement. At that point she had car keys, garage door openers, and a drivers license. Her car? Locked up in the moomincabin garage where NO ONE would take her 🐽

P.S. That photooo is me taking a reflection photooo of myself in the back window last night after a big hatch of some kind of insect.

Blueberry delirium

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

Whaddya wanna do today? Well… I WANTED to slug around on the beach reading and walking and watching the botes. I knew that wouldn’t fly though. So… Let’s go out in the county and scout for blueberry patches.

I don’t have one iota of Blueberry Picking DNA but the GG does and the moomincabin blueberry crop is a dud this year. So off we went in Mooon Yooonit. We took a slow cruise along the forest roads past the Delirium Wilderness and the Sullivan Fish Hatchery and eventually ended up at Betchler Lakes. There are usually beaucoup blueberries at Betchler but today? Nada. Those plants, like our plants, are not productive this year.

Our trip then sorta degenerated into looking for every North Country Trail crossing in the area and checking out the signage and there was something about piles of gravel that I didn’t understand… It was okay at first but then it got a bit obsessive and I finally re-directed us. I stated that what I really wanted to do was go back up to Raco and take the Old Brimley Grade Road to, uh, well, wherever it ends up. I couldn’t remember. Turns out that it doesn’t end up in Brimley. Instead we found ourselves on Plantation Road and more about that some other day but Plantation dumped us off onto the “res” right near the big casino. (No we did not visit the casino.)

My STRONG suggestion to take the Old Brimley Grade Road unexpectedly led us to some good blueberry patches. And for me… I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE! I was a young 20-something and I went on a blueberry picking excursion with my cousin UKW and her parents, Radical Betty and Duke, who she was visiting. UKW *does* have Blueberry Picking DNA (in SPADES) and I went along in order to spend time with her and because I knew it would be fun even if I had to pick a few blueberries in solidarity.

Lewie Read was the driver. He was a life-long bachelor friend and contemporary of those in my parents’ generation. Duke was in the front seat with Lewie and Lewie was going on and on about a “cat house” in Raco. Radical Betty was in the back seat with UKW and me and she was all ears. A cat house? a *cat house*? Lewie knows where there’s a cat house? In Raco? As most of the rest of us had already figgered, he was talking about a BUILDING THAT STORES BULLDOZERS, not a, well, you know. I can’t say there wouldn’t ever be a brothel in Raco but if you’ve ever seen Raco, you might wonder where it might be. Bulldozer storehouse? Totally believable.

Anyway, the terrain looked totally familiar to me today and when the GG hopped out of Mooon Yooonit to check out the blueberry bushes, they are producing and he is gonna head out there tomorrow to pick! Have fun, buddy!

Red Plaid Man

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

I was driving the GG home from Naomikong Point after picking him up from a 16-mile hike. We were trundling along through the res about to pass Pickles and for about a split-second I had an almost overwhelming urge to stop and have a beer/whine. It wasn’t specific to Pickles although Pickles is a fine bar and I enjoy going there. I just wanted to have the freedom to, you know, go to a bar, fer kee-reist.

I have long grown out of my crazy college bar-fly years but we do like to eat lunch or dinner at bar-restaurants or even just stop in somewhere to have a beer/whine once in a while. In normal times, that is. The last time I was in a bar was March 6 when the GG was gallivanting around the northern lower and I walked over to Knight’s to get my regular Friday dose of porterization. I was nervous about the virus that night but we hadn’t heard of any cases in the Great Lake State yet although I was thinking there was probably asymptomatic community spread. Hence, nervous.

I haven’t really missed going out to eat/drink during our long isolation so I dunno what was up today. Maybe I was remembering one of the last times I went to Pickles, last summer. My cousin(s) TeriAna and my daughters and a bunch of their 20 30-something friends were with us. When will we be able to do that again?

Of course we did not stop at Pickles. We aren’t that stupid. Also we have plenty of beer/whine here at the moomincabin and can get more (curbside) if we run out, which I doubt we will although I’ll probably have to do some replenishment when we get back to the Planet.

When we got back to the moomincabin, I was scrolling Twitter and saw that BigGretch aka #thatWomanInMichigan had finally closed the bars in the yooperland. Even though (as far as I know) the cases are still few and far between up here. What the locals do NOT want is a bunch of people coming up here to go to bars because they are closed elsewhere. BTW, this only affects bars that do not make a significant amount of their revenue (70% I think) from food. So Pickles is not affected since it is primarily a restaurant.

I’m gonna steal The Guru’s asterisk system for a few disclaimers/notes/whatever to end this. (It’s better than bullets.)


The “res” strictly enforces a 35 mph speed limit. I’ve heard people say this is to collect revenue but I am old enough to remember when it was an impoverished area and Native American people living there were pretty regularly killed via automotive vee-hickles as they walked along the road shoulder. Wow have things changed over the years. For the better and for all of us, even those of us who are not Native American. I’ll stop now because all of this would take up its own separate blahg entry or 1000.


You don’t have to be a specialist in epidemiology to understand Virus 101… … … ad infinitum ad nauseam… … … but so many of our so-called “leaders” don’t seem to get it at all.


My opinion? We should close EVERYTHING we can until the virus is under control and make no mistake it is NOT NOT NOT. All stores/restaurants/bars should do curbside/delivery only. Schools should NOT OPEN for in person classes. Teachers DO want to be in classrooms but they do NOT want to die, nor do they want their elderly parents to die.


We need to SUPPORT those who can’t work for now as well as the businesses that would normally employ them. This BS argument about people getting paid more on unemployment than they can earn has got to go. Most people WANT to work and these are not normal times. These people are AFRAID to work! This is a major public health emergency and getting rid of the virus is tantamount to keeping our economy on track. I can afford to pay a little extra in taxes if that’s what we need and I will happily do that.


I totally support BigGretch. I don’t agree with every single thing she does but I know she has an extremely difficult job to do and I think she is on the right track. As much as I think she would make a wonderful veep, I hope she isn’t Biden’s choice because boy oh boy oh boy do we need her here in the Great Lake State.

I’m done! Love y’all (even if you disagree with me), KW

Tugboats and dredges and lightning, oh my

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

I think we had THREE freighters go by today. Two big oooglies and a salty but not the Happy River, which is YELLOW and I hope I’m here when it goes by some day. But THREE is NOT ENOUGH.

I was looking at Marine Traffic (iPhone app) and I saw three little turquoise icons that usually indicate tugboats and things but sometimes big tug-barge style freighters like the Presque Isle, which went up yesterday and I almost missed it because it shows up as a tug.

Anyway, the three little turquoise icons turned out to be two tugboats and two dredges. At least I THINK they were dredges. Not really sure. Only one of the dredgies had its own little turquoise icon. I watched this little parade C-R-A-W-L up the Upper St. Marys past Round Island and over by the back bay. Okay. “Hey, do you wanna take a little drive over to the Back Bay and check out the tugboats and dredges?” YES! Said the GG. He had no clue about these botes. His morning mini-adventure involved a walk down the back road to the Doelle end of the beach where a border patrol person was SOUND ASLEEP in his gubmint vee-hickle. Hey, what self-respecting Canuckian would want to emigrate to the United Snakes with our out of control virus and we won’t even talk about the Orange Baboon today.

So we drove out onto Bay Mills Point from where we were able to see the tugboats and dredgies but not well enough to take a pic. And no, it doesn’t take much!

From loosely remembered family lore, my grandma Margaret lived with her fam on Bay Mills Point for a while when she was a teenager. Family lore also says that she walked across the back bay to high school in Brimley on a long gone railroad trestle and had to move off the tracks whenever a train came. I wish I had a more complete story about that. My pea-brain imagines Grandma climbing DOWN over the side of the trestle to wait for the train to pass but that’s probably not the actual scenario. Also, I’m guessing the trains were not moving very fast at that point given the geography, which I won’t begin to try to describe.

Anyway, we came back to the moomincabin and I went down to the beach to read and almost immediately had to decamp because BIG BLACK CLOUDS and THUNDER! That was kind of unexpected today but it turned out that little “popcorn” storms hit us off and on all afternoon. I would think the coast was clear and head down to the beach and “bom bom bom” (as a young beach urchin once called thunder) and I would have to decamp to the moomindeck. I did that probably five times this afternoon and by the looks of the sky, we are not done yet. Yup, there is more and bigger thunder. It’s okay. We need rain.

Job like mine, job like mine, a job like mine

Monday, July 27th, 2020

I did MOSTLY nothing today. The GG made coffee and a wee brek this morning, then he high-tailed it over to Soldier Lake to do trail maintenance with one of his girlfriends. I took a good beach walk and ticked away at some minor chores around the moomincabin. Then I READ. Outside for the most part. On the deck with freighter-watching breaks down on Bill’s Birch Point Beach Bank Bench.

I think I am actually on vacation. For real. It’s hard to describe but, in a way, Forever Telecommuting feels like you are always a little bit on vacation. You’re not though. My productivity ebbs and flows a bit depending on where we are in our software release cycle and what I’m working on and I dunno, how the stars are aligned, etc. But it’s always been like that, in the office or out of the office. When I was first working there I was frustrated that sometimes I didn’t seem to have anything to do. My long-retaaarrred co-worker W1.5 wisely said, “Don’t worry about that too much.” I continued to worry about it anyway but after all these years, I never seem to be without anything to do.

I don’t have what some might call a “sexy” job. I mean if I were a young hot-shot computer scientist (or whatever they are called now) just out of college, I probably wouldn’t want my job. But it has been a good job for baggy old me. Lots of writing (which I love) and some (light-weight) coding/programming (which I love). Spreadsheets and pictures of various sorts, screenshots and flow charts and other diagrams. Every prodject is different and requires different… I dunno… Stuff… Art meets STEM…

So it’s a weird year. I have telecommuted from up here in bits and pieces of time for years now, including this summer. Usually when I actually take vacay up here, there are about a bazillion beloved people here with us. There is a lot of cooking going on and numerous trips in town to Meijer and “emergency” trips to the park store. We are here alone this year. I mean, it’s okay. I just miss having a cabin full of young adults and visiting cousins and in-laws. We *are* able to interact with my cousin next door from a reasonable distance. They have been isolating as much as we have, probably more.

So lots of time outside today, enough that I am *inside* for now. It was a beautiful day, warm but not hot or humid. But windy. And I feel a bit over-exposed. In a GOOD way!

Error messages

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

Okay, so I don’t really need any grocks yet but I decided to start a list today using the Shipt service that’s attached to Meijer. I have a Shipt account and there are three Planet Ann Arbor stores that offer pickup/delivery to my address down there. Somehow I thought it would be a no-brainer to add the moomincabin address. Not so fast, KW.

I followed a “change address” link, which allowed me to *add* a new address. And so I did. Or I tried. I got an error message saying something like “This is outside your service area”. I thought that meant the Ann Arbor stores wouldn’t deliver to the moomincabin, which is totally understandable since they are 350 miles away from the moomincabin. What I expected was that the app would let me add a new address and then FIND the Sault Ste. Siberia Meijer. Nope. It would NOT let me enter the address no matter how many times I tried.

I beat up on computers for a living so I am pretty good at it but eventually I threw in the towel and started a chat session. She asked for the address. I gave it to her and she put the address in. Still couldn’t find the Sault store. Then I noticed the zip code she had entered. Our zip code is 49715 (which I had given her) but somehow there was something like 49206. Not our zip code. I suggested she try 49715 and the response she got was “we don’t service that area”. Um, not true. I know this because my neighbors picked up a Shipt order the other day.

I went back to the address page again and had an epiphany! I changed to the SAULT zip code (49783) even though it isn’t correct and voila! The Sault Meijer showed up. I then realized that the error message I had been getting in the beginning was probably telling me that there was no service *at all* for the 49715 zip code, *not* that the Ann Arbor Meijer stores didn’t service customers 350 miles away. I’m still not sure why 49715 worked for the neighbors and not me.

I was not irritated at the chat person. It was *meeeee* that eventually figured it out but she provided some helpful clues along the way. I’m always a little irritated when apps are difficult to navigate and this one was at least for this piece of functionality. I write error messages for a living (for one thing) and although I have written some TERRIBLE error messages, I always agonize over trying to get them to make sense.

We are still early in the new age of grocery pickup/delivery and things have improved dramatically since March and April. I think ultimately these apps will have to recognize geographical differences to some extent. It’s one thing to order grocks from one of the Meijers (take your pick) in Ann Arbor. The Sault Meijer is sort of a REGIONAL store. People come from all over Chippewa County and beyond to take advantage of their prices and selection. I can see why Shipt wouldn’t want to send their shoppers all over hell-and-gone to deliver grocks to the far corners of the eastern yooperland (especially in the winter!) but I think most folks coming from far away are probably happy to pick up their stuff.

Other than that? We awoke to beautiful warm rain that continued well into the morning. It cleared up enough for us to attend a Masked Road Maintenance meeting, led by Mayor Pete (not THAT Mayor Pete) in his garage. And BTW, I am probably within the Shipt delivery range mileage-wise but I would NEVER ask a Shipt person to deliver to this place, down the 2-track road with the GIGANTIC potholes, which turned into OCEANS today with all the rain. Us yoopers know who we are and where we live.

Hi Granddaddy!

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

As I was taking this pic, I wasn’t really sure what was special about it. The clouds are cool but I’ve seen cooler. That beach chair though… Why the heck is that important?

I posted it on Instagram and one of the beach urchins almost immediately commented, “Hi Granddaddy!” Oh, THAT’S why I posted that. An empty chair. One like the ones my dad always sat in on the beach. Along with everybody else. To be technically correct, this particular beach chair belongs to My Dear Uncle Harry and his daughter (my cousin the Grand Poohbah) had been recently sitting in it talking to me (at a distance). (We also swam together and it was LOVELY.)

But that kind of hit home. After my brother and dad died, it was a tradition for a few years to set up two of these chairs at the beginning of the season and keep them there until the end. It was a symbol but not a sacred symbol. I mean it was perfectly okay for others to use those chairs whenever. But they were sentinels in a way, watching over the moominbeach when the rest of us were not there. We have lost a significant number of other relatives since then and we certainly haven’t continued or expanded this tradition. I am not crazy enough to drag out a bunch of beach chairs and set them up empty for each dead relative. There are other ways to honor them and most of those ways (in this family) involve quietly sharing stories about them. And gnoffing like crazy because this family has so much fun! Even when we are remembering those who have gone beyond.

So two stories involving the beach urchin who recognized her granddaddy in this pic. First, there was a terlet training summer when every time the beach urchin needed to use the loo she was told “Granddaddy is in the bathroom.” And then… One morning, the beach urchin approached the bathroom and NO ONE was in there. What did she say? “Granddaddy is NOT in the bathroom!”

The second story was a few years later. The beach urchin went out the front door to head down to the beach. And immediately BANGED back in! “Mom, someone has droven in!” I took a peek out the picture window and saw that my parents had just “droven” in and my dad was getting out of the car. I said, “Just take a look at who has droven in.” After taking a look, she said (with much relief), “Oh, it’s just a Great Big Mouse.”

“Granddaddy” (my dad) WAS a Great Big Mouse and greatly loved his granddaughters. My half of his granddaughters were in college when he died. They spent part of their spring break that year traveling with me to the yooperland to see him when he was at the end. While they were there, The Comm and I made the decision to transition him to palliative care. Just before we were leaving pretty much for the last time, he said something to his granddaughters. We couldn’t understand his words but a nurse who was in his room at that moment was able to translate. He said, “I LOVE YOU!”

Ding Dong Dodo da Ding Dong Dodo

Friday, July 24th, 2020

It was really not all that bad a drive, tandem that it was. As we were leaving the Planet Ann Arbor this morning, the GG needed gas and I didn’t. That didn’t work out too well though because we went to the Speedway or whatever the heck it is on North Maple and it wasn’t accepting his debit card. So he bailed and left and I COULD NOT GET OUTTA THERE TO SAVE MY LIFE. Why? Because there were a whole bunch of blasted lorries all over the place. Say it in a British accent if you will. At least three of them were Big George trucks.

Eventually I got outta there and caught up with Mooon Yooonit and the Lyme Lounge on northbound US23. Traffic was okay pretty much everywhere except for the right-lane passers and we don’t need to talk about them because that’s just business as usual, roight?

And then there was the Best Choice adventure. We have been talking about picking up rib-eye steaks from Best Choice in Hoton Lake for at least three days now. (That is, I was talking about rib-eyes, he was talking about prime rib. Not the same thing.) Today, we were getting close to West Branch and I noticed a missed call on my phone. We’ll talk about trying to use an iPhone while driving a 2008 manual tranny some other day. But I persisted and the question was, “Do you wanna exit at Roscommon to roadP?” Say what? The Roscommon exit is PAST the Hoton Lake exit. I asked, “does that mean we are not going to Best Choice?”

Long story short, we did go to Best Choice. I refused to enter the store. There were a lot of people around and while they WERE wearing masks, I am just not comfortable with interior spaces. The GG? Not so much. So he went in (masked, after I reminded him) and I put my mask on and walked around the Ninja a few times. Phone call from the GG. “They don’t have prime rib!” Duh. No, they don’t. Prime rib is a big cut of meat that gets roasted whole and then they slice pieces off of it, think Knight’s. It isn’t a STEAK! We want rib-eyes! Oh, he said, and that’s what we got. I was puzzled about why the GG, who has grilled about a gazillion rib-eyes, couldn’t just POINT at the steaks he wanted. Who cares what they’re called.

At the end of the trip he did not get off at Rudyard like I expected him to so I revved up to 75mph, passed him and left him in the dust. Anyway, we are here at the moomincabin and it was too HOT this afternoon to sit on the beach but eventually we got the umbrellas up and I did sit down there until I was hot enough to dunk in Gitchee Gumee and then we facetime porterized ourselves for a while and ate some good leftovers. Eggplant parm tomorrow (with fresh eggplants from Argus) and our fave Sparrow whole chicken on Sunday grilled with Frog Jam.

G’night! KW.

Last minute kerfluffles

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Today was a MUCH calmer day than I foresaw yesterday (knock on wood). I got the bulk of my critical Cubelandia work done by early afternoon and used the remainder of the afternoon to update a document I will use to do a training presentation sometime after I get back from vacay. It needed a LOT of updating and it felt good to get it done.

And hey, laundry? I had two loads, towels/bathmat and clothing. I kicked it off with the towels and then the first little kerfluffle hit. Hey buddy, where are your masks? I want to wash masks. He has one at the ready but after much rummaging, couldn’t find the other three. Nevertheless, we persisted with the laundry and actually I palmed it all off on him. Why should I stress about the laundry? There was nothing in today’s loads that could get screwed up and he’s been doing laundry since he was 10 and we won’t go into why except nine siblings. (Eventually I found another of his masks and I’m sure the other two will surface eventually.)

I will not be visiting the Up North laundromat this summer because pandemic. I have enough clothing to last me the 10 days or so we’ll be there and there are plenty of linens at the moomincabin and I am a whiz at hand-washing, especially at the moomincabin where you can rinse things in Gitchee Gumee. Don’t look at the undies on the clothesline. Nothing to see there. At least I won’t be able to put my laundry into somebody else’s vee-hickle like I did last summer 🐽

The second minor kerfluffle involved paperwork to be signed and transported north. It was emailed here to be printed, then the GG traversed town for the signature. I saw Staples transactions come through earlier this week but had no clue what they were for (it’s not tax season). Oh, we don’t have any ink? The color cartridge he ordered the other day did not arrive on time (today) but Staples had BLACK ink cartridges in stock so we were in business. MAKE NO MISTAKE! We were MORE THAN HAPPY to facilitate this bit of paperwork. (Especially yer fav-o-rite blahgger, who was excited about the opportunity for some spacification 🐸)

I even got a few items packed into Ninja’s trunk for our journey tomorrow but I am bracing myself for the pandemonium of packing all of the other grocks tomorrow morning. Will I leave frozen chicken thighs out on Gertrude’s stovetop? Stay tuned.

Good mornin’ Mr. Clip Clip Clip

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

So the GG was doing stuff like this while I was on the other side of the window in a meeting with Amazon Woman and Mr. Bear and a bunch of other teleCubelanders. There is rarely any Big Drama at my work except when Black Thursdays happen. Meetings? Enh? I often multi-task unless I’m in the Hot Seat.

I was in the Hot Seat today because we’re dealing with designing New Functionality. Mr. Bear kept his assertive tendencies under control, Amazon Woman kept the meeting focused, and I tried my best to calmly and respectfully interact with Mr. Bear in order to translate his “vocabulary” into terms that I could understand and therefore write about in a coherent fashion. I THINK we are “goochy” now and fortunately I have the whole day tomorrow to incorporate this stuff into the documents I have to post before I head off into the land of the “midnight” sun.

Can I just say? I have a shit-ton of grocks around here and I am stressed about it. It’s all going north in a couple days and fortunately we are taking two vee-hickles plus the Lyme Lounge because otherwise I dunno what I would do. This was all supposed to be carefully planned but you know us… We are constantly traveling north to the yooperland or the northern lower and back and man oh man, schlepping food back and forth even in a non-pandemic year is a challenge. This year? I don’t even want to go there. The Landfill is not set up to accommodate stockpiles of food for the apocalypse and someday I will sort this stuff out.

I picked up HUGE orders from Plum and Sparrow yesterday and Argus delivered a big order today. I was gonna hit up the Whine Castle tomorrow but Rodent Delivery offered to pick up any last minute items and I accepted. I have been trying not to stress out Rodent Delivery. Our grocery workers are essential and they do NOT need to be harassed about masks, etc., although I don’t think that’s been a big problem at the Plum over here on the west side of the Planet Ann Arbor. But nowadays it’s getting easy enough to get curbside pickup (or delivery) anywhere in town that I don’t have to ask for Rodent Delivery all that often. As much as anything, I asked her to do the booze run because that means I’ll get to see her before we head north, even though it’ll be a masked encounter at the door.

Pandemic vignettes

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

1) Like I do every year, I let people know when I (and the GG if he is not off gallivanting) expect to be at the moomincabin. This was fine with all of the beach urchins (that I heard from). I mean, the beach urchins and their friends usually JOIN US THERE! Hello pandemic…

Later on, one of the beach urchins asked for some time that overlapped with the end of our scheduled time up there. We have all been practicing strict social distancing, which means that we really can’t be there together this year. Did I throw a tantrum (i.e., “IIIII called dibs on that weekend”)? NO NO NO NO NO! Did I call a lawyer? VOMIT! What did I do? I stepped aside. I am still adjusting to being a full-time forever telecommuter but it’s starting to dawn on me that I can now go up there ANY TIME because I can WORK from there. I mean, I’ve always had the ability to work from there and my managers have been cool with it but I don’t even have to ASK any more.

Even if I WASN’T a full-time forever telecommuter, I’d’ve stepped aside. I remember the days when I had to eke out whatever limited vacation time I had to spend time at the moomincabin. The beach urchins are now in that phase of life and I want them to be able to enjoy spending time up there with or without me. It’s their land too. So we will cut our next stretch of time there a little short. (But we’ll be back.)

2) This particular beach urchin moved a couple (few?) months ago. Without giving out too many details of her private life, they were living in an apartment in kind of a student ghetto environment. I think they were looking for a new place in May and given the pandemic and all the other crapola that goes with looking for affordable housing, I was a little nervous that they’d find something (nervous in a moom kinda way 🐽 as it isn’t really any of my business). One day we were texting and she said something like, “Oh I’m sure we can find a Box Apartment” and I gnoffed to myself about that. Sounded a lot like the kind of places I lived in as a college student and young adult. Well, until we bought the Landfill, that is.

A week later they had instead stumbled upon a beautiful house in the WOODS near one of our neighboring small towns. We have not been there yet. We haven’t even driven by it even though umpteen million years ago a friend of ours lived on a nearby road. We have *got* to get out there! There’s a big deck and two bathrooms and they have offered to grill. Yes yes yes yes! Moomincabin is next on the schedule though.

It’s a matter of orientation

Monday, July 20th, 2020

We made it over to Detroit for a backyard dinner with whine this afternoon. I have visited this beach urchin numerous times and did not realize that THIS was the back yard.

Every time I go there, I look out her kitchen/dining room windows onto what I THINK is her back yard and I see a rusted out truck. Intellectually, I KNOW this truck belongs to the neighbor and it is HIS back yard, not hers but somehow my brain never processed where the REAL back yard was or even that there WAS one. Today we ate in the REAL back yard, which is a beautiful green space the size of some of The Planet Ann Arbor’s smaller parks. And yes, that is a shipping container. They’re using it as a shed.

She told us a funny story about the time one of the landlords (they are long-time friends) came across a couple with a dog trying to gain access to the “dog park” (surrounded by a chain link fence). Um, nope, it is private property, not a dog park. It’s a beautiful neighborhood in SW Detroit, one of the many that is in various stages of renovation if I can use that word. I guess I mean that although some of the homes/businesses there are in total disrepair, many others are in the process of renovation. It’s a busy area populated with folks of every description.

We had a lovely orzo salad, charcuterie, and some cherry BBQ potato chips, with beer and whine. Being a Chief Cook and Bottle Washer for most of my adult life, a part of me was wanting to ask what I could bring. And then. I stopped myself. We’re in a pandemic. I can’t just schlep over to the store for last-minute supplies. I have to plan ahead and I hadn’t. Plus I am in major plan-ahead mode for another trip to the moomincabin AND trying MADLY to finish up a lot of stuff at teleCubelandia before vacay. And anyway, the beach urchins are more creative cooks than I am, so I relaxed and let her do the work and it was fantastic.

Hugs? Yes, we braved them. With masks FIRMLY secured and faces away from each other. I even used her water closet, with a Clorox wipe firmly in hand for doorknobs (her suggestion to bring them) and birthday-style handwashing afterwards.

We needed this but…

Sunday, July 19th, 2020

Best laid plans… We have not seen our Detroit daughter in person since mid-February, actually longer for the GG because he was outta town the weekend I last met up with her. So. The plan was that we would head over for a light afternoon dinner in her back yard, where we can socially physically distance. Alas, Mother Nature had other plans.

Although we aren’t in a drought, it’s high summer and it’s a pretty hot one and we haven’t been getting a whole lot of rain. The weather apps were showing a 30% chance of rain/thunderstorms for today. So often at this time of year, that means we get NO RAIN. So we were optimistic that our plans were still on. We were actually more worried about 90-degree heat and were planning around when her yard is shaded. Until today. One good rainstorm this morning and a pretty heavy one in the early afternoon.

The second one hit with pretty good winds and the tree in the pic dropped a branch. We couldn’t really see it happen but we could hear it and the neighbors reported later that it was a small branch that hit a fence. No real damage.

Although we have not had further storms, at that time the weather systems across the region still seemed a bit unsettled so we reluctantly decided to reschedule for tomorrow. The beach urchin does not have to work and I do but I’ll jump on early in the AM and then leave early.

Weather is often a consideration for traveling to and from DayTwa in the winter but rarely in the summer. If we had felt safe about an indoor meeting, we probably wouldn’t have canceled today but these are strange times as y’all well know. I feel sad about it but I’m sadder that we can’t all safely gather at the moomincabin together. That said, maybe if the “kids” go there without us baggy old bags, they’ll decide it’s more fun without us around 🐽