Archive for April, 2006

Go Thunderchickens and other Random Stuff

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

A few things, in no particular order:

  • Happy birthday Kathy (my sister-in-law)! Sorry I don’t have a big red, white, and blue tricycle for you but have a wonderful birthday anyway.
  • Yesterday afternoon I did not take my usual walk because I was sitting around on my you-know-what watching a sporting event. grok grok. Yeah, yay for frog jumping!! grok grok. No, Froogy, it was not frog jumping. Sheesh! But it was no ordinary event and all of us here in the Luxurious New Courtois Cabin were totally enthralled as we watched our nephew Jim and his robotics team, the ThunderChickens, win the NASA FIRST Robotics National Competition in Atlanta. Jim used to be a little kid who was constantly plugging and unplugging things and switching lights on and off. He has come a long way from those days and is now a high school sophomore whose role during the robot games was to work in the pit, keeping the team’s robot in top condition. I have to say, watching robots play a basketball-esque game is much more fun than watching big, ugly neanderthals pummel each other on a football field. Go ThunderChickens! World Champions!
  • Thanks to those who sent their own stories about class presentation petrification. It is always good to know that you are not alone.
  • A very special thanks to Bob and Jim for making my dreams come true. Well, nice try, anyway 😉 Sincerely yours, Garbage Woman.

Turkey Tetrahedron, BBQ Sauce

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Well, all the cool blahggers are talking about food and people keep asking me for recipes, so, even though I could pretty much care less about cooking and food at the moment, click here for turkey tetrahedron and click here for barbecue sauce. Ingredient quantities are sorta approximate. Deal. grok grok. click here for me. grok grok.

Stage Fright

Friday, April 28th, 2006

I do not know exactly what is going on but I am not afraid to speak in front of a group any more. I used to be petrified. I am just about terminally shy. I mean I am shy enough that it is hard for me to even call friends up to ask them if they want to meet for coffee. Yes, it is that bad. From about junior high through college, I couldn’t even ask or answer questions from my seat, which was always as close to the back of the room as I could get. Giving a presentation to a room full of people was a fate worse than death.

It took me two whole years to work up my courage to sign up for the web development program at the local community college. I can still remember how scared I was to hit the submit button after I filled out the on-line admissions application. Pooh emailed me and said, “sit in the front row.” Say what? Sit in the front row? Pooh is my ultra-smart cousin and I doubt she has ever been afraid to speak up in class or anywhere else. But me? In the front row? Right where the teacher can see me? Not on your life!

I was terrified that first day of school and I was five minutes late and I didn’t exactly know where the classroom was and I was pretty darn disheveled by the time I got there. grok grok. You are ALWAYS disheveled. grok grok. I was thinking, “Kee-reist, what the heck am I doing?” There was one seat left in the front row and Pooh was haunting me so I took a deep breath and *willed* myself to sit in that seat!

School is all about participation nowadays and the teacher made it clear that people who did not speak up on their own would be asked random questions. You can’t just slide by with getting As on tests and papers any more. This was not going to be fun and it wasn’t easy that first semester. The teacher would ask questions and before I could even begin to get my thoughts organized, other people would just sing out all kinds of intelligent opinions. How the heck did they come up with that stuff so fast? I did not think I would ever be able to keep up.

Slowly and gradually, I began to force myself to speak up. The first time I had to do a presentation, I got full credit *only* because I covered everything in the assignment and *miraculously* did it within the specified time limit. If points had been awarded for elegance, I’d have earned about a negative 400.

I do not know exactly when the tipping point occurred but during the one class I took this semester, there were times when I just about had to clamp my hand over my mouth to shut myself up and give some of the quieter people in class a chance to talk. grok grok. Yeah, you need to shut up sometimes, you ugly old bag. grok grok. Presentations? Lemme at ’em! I can even be funny! I don’t know what happened. I guess I just do not care what people think about me any more. grokGROK!

Now, if I could just manage to extend this newfound self-confidence or whatever it is into making somebody want to pay me for something… :-/ grok grok. Yeah, then you can buy me more flies and things. grok.

Final Exam

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Final exam. And presentation. Group presentation, that is. I have no idea what grade I’m gonna get in this class. There were a couple of assignments I didn’t quite finish due to hanging around at one hoosegow or another and I missed one whole class. That was the first class I have missed since I started this little college adventure, but it was March 23rd so I had a pretty darn good excuse. Anyway, since studying for today’s final exam was making me try to crawl out of my skin, I had to find an alternate activity. And all of you PC users are in luck today because that alternate activity ended up being putting my wonderful little videos out on Click here for the fire eaters and here for the Burns Harbor. Cheers!

Happy Birthday, Twinz of Terror

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

There are just a few too many birthdays in April for me to keep up with and today the Twinz of Terror catch up to me at age 52. I dunno what Bob is doing for his birthday but the GG is going to eat at an Irish pub and then watch Japanese drummers so I guess he is having a multi-cultural birthday. Other April birthdays include:

  • Steven, our great-nephew, who turned 4 on the 5th.
  • Danny, my first cousin once removed, who turned 21 on the 7th.
  • Jan, my cousin, whose birthday was the 16th.
  • Datura, our great-niece, who turned 3 on the 17th.
  • Jack, my brother-in-law, whose birthday was the 23rd.
  • Margaret Finlayson, my grandmother, who would have turned, lemme see, 118 I think, on the 23rd if she were still alive.
  • Mouse, my daughter of course, who, as y’all have already read, turned 19 on the 24th.
  • Last but not least, Kathy, my sister-in-law, whose birthday is coming up on the 30th.

I hope that covers it. grok grok. What about MY birthday? You missed that. grok grok Excuse me a minute. (Froggy, those are just the *April* birthdays. Your birthday is not *in* April. It is October 23rd. Get back in your basket. Take Smokie with you.) Sorry about that. Anyway, it is hard to keep up with all of this all the time. This blahg is really not a birthday blahg, it is a rambling old bag’s blahg. grok grok. An UGLY old bag! grokGROK! (Frooggy, get going!) But I think that everyone should celebrate their birthday by doing just about whatever they want to do, short of committing murder or other mayhem, and I like to recognize birthdays if I remember them. One of these days maybe I will get myself off my butt and create a birthday data base and write a little program that will compare the records in the database to the current date. If there is a birthday, it will make a nice little birthday message with some of that flashing html all the cool web designers are so hot on 😉

Garbage Woman, Episode 90-million

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Yaknow? Those popsicle boxes are boxboard and they go in the *recycling*, not the trash. There *are* some freezer packages that do not get recycled but those popsicle boxes are fine. And random plastic packaging for I do not know what, windshield wipers maybe? Naw, couldn’t be windshield wipers, we don’t ever buy new windshield wipers around here. Anyway, whatever they are, they do *not* go in either of the recycling bins. They go in the trash. Okay? Okay. Sigh.

Sincerely yours, Garbage Woman.

Happy You Gave Birth To Me 19 Years Ago Day

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Mouse: “Happy You Gave Birth to Me 19 Years Ago Today Day.” I had been a little slow to call and sing the birthday song, so she called me and we both sang at once.

Yup, it was 19 years ago today. Mouse was a couple weeks or so early. Knowing her as well as I do now, I figure she had just about had enough. “Get me out of here!” And that was fine with me. Given that everybody is healthy, the earlier the better. And I sure was ready.

And so began the Mouse that roared. A small aminal with an imagination the size of the universe. A very early talker and deep thinker. She has always had a habit of coming out into the kitchen when I least expect it to tell me something she’s been thinking about that just about knocks me off my feet. She was always dirty! If it wasn’t food or mud or sand, it was paint or markers or glitter glue or whatever. If she was wearing three skirts, she was pretending to be a water spider, not Britney Spears or whoever. Nuclear powered. Just try to keep up with her skiing or kayaking or walking or whatever. I can’t. And I learned early on that if I really wanted her to do something, it was more effective to recruit Chrissy the Police Mouse or some other aminal to handle it for me. That is, any aminal except Froggy, who inevitably makes things worse. grok grok Whaddya mean? grokGROK!!!

I don’t know. The small aminal Mouse is a highly spirited little rodent and there were times when life could be a wild ride around here. But I can’t think what life would be like without her. I love you, Mouse. Where did the time go? How’d I get so old? Who hit fast forward?


Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Hmmm, critical thinking or creative writing?

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.

One More Week

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

One more week of this crazy class. Business on the Internet. I like the teacher and my classmates a lot. I won’t say exactly what I think about the class. My own personal little blahgger’s statute of limitations on what to post about school won’t run out for quite a while. Uh, actually, I guess I already said it was “crazy.” Take that however you want. That’s all you’re gonna get for now. Just count your blessings that I didn’t blahg about some of the other stuff that was on my mind today. None of it would gel into a coherent entry and that is definitely to your benefit. You did not want to know and, anyway, other people are much more interesting than me. If you want cutosity, Sam has duckies on her blahg and, in news of the weird, Alfred has risen to new heights over on the dawg blawg (April 17 entry). Or perhaps he has fallen to new depths. It can be difficult to tell with Alfred.

Mr. Golden Sun

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun
Please shine down on me.
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun
Hiding behind a tree.
These little children are asking you
To please come out so they can play with you
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun
Please shine down on me.

Oooops. I am not supposed to sing that song. I’m sure I’m in trouble now. I promise I won’t do it again. But, you know, it is April and this is Michigan and Mr. Golden Sun has definitely NOT been hiding behind a tree. For more days than I can count, he has been out there shining all over the state, even in the Great White North. This is not how it usually is. I remember one April when we went to the Octohouse and spent Easter afternoon driving up to Whitefish Point and back. It snowed the entire time. And last year, it snowed on Mouse’s birthday, which is coming up again next week. We even had a fire in the fireplace that night. You know, I like the sun. But this is almost getting to be a little too much. It was beautiful hiking around the Eastern UP in the bright sunshine. There were no leaves out and you could see all over the place. But after a few days, it almost started feeling a little arid. And I am just not really used to that, I guess. It isn’t 104 degrees here but other than that it kind of reminds me of the summer of 1988 when Mr. Golden Sun shone relentlessly every day and we had no air conditioning anywhere and the baby Mouse screamed bloody murder every time I put her into her car seat. I felt like screaming too. I am going to do a little rain dance, I think. I have not seen a cloud since sometime last week. We need some humidity here. Moss and mold and mushrooms and a few mosquitos. Rain and snow and black clouds and thunder. C’mon, give us a little gloom and doom here. This is Michigan. What the heck is the deal?

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?

Water Exercise aka Gossip Hour

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Overheard at Penny’s Kitchen: “Let’s move the time of water-ex to after the day care kids swim so there’ll be more pee in the water and it’ll be warmer.”

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!!!

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!

Group Projects

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

Group projects. They are the bane of my college experience. I was thinking that thirty years or so ago students didn’t do a whole lot of group work. Then I realized that was not exactly true, at least not for me. But the groups I was in were different. There was always a maniacal dictator who stood up in front maintaining order by waving a sharp-pointed object around. He (sorry, but it was always a he) reigned supreme over the group, often thundering with anguished rage when someone did not pull their weight. “You kids are killing me!”, an Interlochen director once screamed when somebody missed an entrance. It was probably the trombone section because they sat way up in the back and typically got away with all kinds of shenanigans behind the dictator’s back. I, however, always had the wonderful luck to sit right smack underneath the guy with the baton. Mind my Ps and Qs? You betcha! I was petrified of playing a wrong note or counting wrong or being sharp in the high register. And flutes are *always* sharp in the high register. Sigh. I dunno, I suppose it was just a different set of group issues.

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.

Need a Life, Not a Boyfriend

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

<keereistgimmeabreakalready>I was walking across the N. Maple/Miller intersection and, of all things, I heard a loud electronic wolf whistle. There were no other pedestrians around and my first thought was that it had something to do with the GG being ridiculous. Except that, as weird as he can be, he is too wrapped up in data and spreadsheets and computers and laboratory instruments to be bothered to obtain an electronic wolf whistle and use it to go out and harass women. I think. Anyway, I ignored it, thinking somebody had just activated it by accident. But then, after I got across the street, I heard it again. I did not even *want* to look at whatever ugly, perverted old man was eye-balling the likes of me. Or maybe some little boys were just getting their jollies by toying with an old bag. Whatever. I do not know who it was. I just kept on walking. Guys, I do not know what is going on lately but can we talk? I am 52 years old. I have had two children. I am not cute. I am looking for a life, not a boyfriend. grok grok grok. Yeah, and she doesn’t cook or clean and last week she tried to use me as a Kleenex. grok grok. Froggy! Into your laundry basket! Now!</keereistgimmeabreakalready>