Only in the Sault Ste. Siberia Evening Snooze:
Archive for March, 2007
Taking a little break from htminimalism and 1950s hello kitty (you do *not* want to know) to put up a couple new blahg pages. One is my post about our June 2006 Pictured Rocks kayak trip. The other is a compilation of links to all my California-related posts and pictures. Links to the new pages are on the right sidebar under “Pages”.
And while I’m at it, since I have nothing coherent to say today, I’ll give y’all a couple of bonus links. For those jetting off to China and other whereabouts, the Transportation Security Administration. Leave those jackknives at home or in your checked baggage! Unless you are Mouse, that is, I guess she has magical powers. And just for fun, if you want to call it that, a couple of loverly Flash games: Samorost 1 and Samorost 2. As always, these things almost completely foiled me. Good luck!
This was a question asked in class last night and Mighty Mouse was the first superhero that popped into my head. After I learned to read, I was fascinated with Superman comic books and the whole world that surrounded Superman. Lois Lane and Lana Lang and Lex Luthor and kryptonite and the fortress of solitude and the bizarros. But Mighty Mouse was my first superhero. He starred in one of the few cartoons that came on when I was a pre-schooler in Siberia and we could only receive one TV channel on our black-and-white set. I had my first and last celebrity crush on Mighty Mouse and I can still remember him singing “Here I come to save the day!” as he flew off to rescue Pearl Pureheart. I didn’t remember her name until I saw it on Wikipedia. In my 3 or 4-year-old mind, I imagined that Mighty Mouse was rescuing *me*, not Pearl Pureheart!
I have a whole lot of real-life heroes. Actually most of them are *heroines* and they are people I know and love in real life. But Mighty Mouse is still my favorite superhero. Who’s yours?
“Bad news,” said the GG. I hate when someone says that. I sighed and forced myself to refrain from asking, “Who died?” But apparently the season for death has passed for the time being. Knock on wood BIG TIME!!! He went on, “we can’t have a well here.” Meaning at The Landfill. I could feel the panic rising! How was I going to live without running water. I take a shower and wash my hair a *minimum* of once a day. If it’s above about eighty degrees or I’ve been doing full-tilt-boogie skiing or kayaking, a second shower is definitely required. I would not do well in Harare. If we couldn’t have water, we’d have to move. And I don’t want to move because this is the only house with a *woods* behind it on The Planet Ann Arbor that we can afford. Oh wait, fer Kee-reist! Sanity returned. What *was* I thinking? We don’t *need* a well here. We have
city planet water here.
The big story is that The Gelman Plume has reached our neighborhood. The results are in from the little drilling operation that Froggy was so clanked up about back in January. The water that comes into The Landfill is okay but the ground water is full of dioxane. Hmm, I wonder if that’s why the front lawn is such a god-awful mess. As in “no grass.” Or maybe it’s just the skunks that have been spotted digging things up out there in the middle of the night.
Subtitle that “Gogol was Goggle-Eyed!” Yes, that’s a
Goggle Google search box over there. I was researching those beasts for a current client (free, of course…) The standard WordPress search function does a pretty darn good job of finding things in all of the posts that were written with the blahgging software but it cannot find stuff in my moldy old unconverted unwashed archives. Like chocolate cherry cake, for instance. Except that I made a whole separate WordPress page for that cake, since people are always looking for it. Anyway Google will search my whole site, even the moldy old unconverted unwashed archives. That can be handy. I think the graphic is butt-ugly. Why they can’t make one with a transparent background, I do not know. Or maybe they do and I’m just clueless. Hmmm, I s’pose I could prob’ly remove the background myself. Wonder if that’d get me in trouble?
It’s getting to be that season and I have spent just about the whole dern day on school and internship tasks and research. Except for one mad dash to the bank and the Westgate Kroger and some of the usual humdrum, boring household cleaning crap. Deep vein thrombosis anyone? Gotta get out for a walk!
Or you could subtitle this “Spammers Be Damned!”. ‘scuse my language but when I opened up my blahg this morning, there were no less than 159 spam comments to delete. Those also come in to my email box. I have reached my absolute limit. I hereby announce that I have activated Akismet. This is just ridiculous!
Up until now, I have dealt with spam comments by 1) setting my blahg up so that first-time commenters have to be approved and 2) deleting spam comments. I would wait until about eight or ten would pile up and then go out there and blast them to smithereens. 159 in one day is just too many. Who on earth has time to sit around overloading everybody’s server with that kind of crap and what kind of thrills do they get out of it?
Really, ranting and raving about spammers just wastes precious energy but maybe you’re wondering, “what does this mean to me?” It means that any comments you make will likely get trapped in purgatory, aka the spam bucket, for a while. I’ll be watching, but if your comment doesn’t show up within a reasonable amount of time, lemme know so I can release you! Supposedly Akismet “learns” who’s not spam after a few comments. We’ll see. I do know that people who call themselves “Kayak Woman” are prone to setting off every spam alarm in cyberspace so I may well be in there with you. Grok grok! Yeah, Ol’ Baggy’s comin’, git out th’ seckyerity wand! grok grok GROK!
I was walking along Arbana in the dark this morning and it is extra dark down there because there are no streetlights on that stretch of street. It’s also a pretty good skunk area so I am always extra watchful. There was a paper bag in the middle of the street. Or was it? Something made me stop and peer a little closer at it. Was it alive? It wasn’t a skunk. I have never seen a paper bag that looked like a skunk. I took a couple of tentative steps closer. It looked like it had eyes. Finally it made a small, almost imperceptible movement. For just a split second, I thought, “cat” but then I realized it was a very cute, terrified opossum. I said, “it’s okay, little possum, I won’t hurt you, get outta the middle of the street before some vee-hickle hits you,” and then I went on my way. I sure hope it got out of the street before any vee-hickular traffic came along.
Words of the day. Er, that would be *compound* words of the day, I guess.
The Mighty Mouse is gone again and
23 we are now three-quarters of the way through paying for college tuition. That is, she’s starting the third and last quarter of her sophomore year. Yes, Kalamazoo is on a quarter system. Not *all* colleges do the semester thing, for those who seem perpetually confused when I say that she doesn’t get out of school until mid-June. I don’t really know why Kalamazoo uses the quarter system but my own personal pet theory is that it works well with the study abroad program. Most students go on study abroad for the first six months or so of their junior year. They come back to the snakes in about February, get a little chance to re-acclimate, and then return to school for the spring quarter.
I am usually pretty cavalier about the empty nest but I’m feeling a bit melancholy today. It isn’t exactly that I wish my kids were home. I’m happy that they are where they are, doing what they’re doing. It shows that somehow they managed to survive whatever panicky parent type nonsense I tried to jam into their heads. And here they are on the left coast 🙂
I miss the old days. Wheeling my babies to the neighborhood playgrounds in strollers and later on, trikes and then bikes. And memories:
- When Elizabeth was 18 months old, she insisted on making a solo climb all the way up to the top — well above my reach — of the old tire structure at Haisley and back down. Happily pooping the whole time, as I found out soon enough. (Hope that was okay to post.) And that old structure was torn down long ago. Old tires are hazardous, don’tcha know.
- Elizabeth was about that same age when she insisted on going down the big curly slide at the Yellow Slide Playground by herself. The third time she tried this, she got turned around somehow and came down head first. Fortunately, I was there to catch her.
- Hot summer nights when we would bike to the Yellow or Red Slide Playground and then have bathtime in the plastic swimming pool in the back yard.
- Dinosaurs poop in the grass.
- A summer evening when we were walking to the schoolyard and the beach urchins ran into each other, fell down, started crying and I had to pick *both* of them up and carry them.
- All the years I read out loud to the beach urchins while they were eating breakfast. And many other times of the day and night. To those guilt-inducing “experts” who say, “read to your kindergartner one half hour a day,” all I’ve got to say is, “how do you manage to get your kid to let you *stop* reading after a half hour?”
- The time that Mouse was nine or ten and home alone for about a half hour while I was at a school meeting. When I got home, she was standing at the top of the basement stairs with Froggy, trying to work up her courage to go down there and get something. Grok grok. Mouse wudda ben safe with me down in that ol’ dunjin. Grok grok.
- The time (only time ever) that Mouse came home from school crying her eyes out. What on earth had happened? She had made some “cute” snowballs at recess and couldn’t bear to leave them there alone. I saddled up Sugar and we went over and retrieved them and they melted safely in our front yard.
- The time Elizabeth and Grandroobly were on a little expotition with Liz on her tricycle and Grandroobly walking along behind. He needed to spit, so he did and Liz told him in no uncertain terms, “Don’t spit!” The next time he needed to spit, he got far enough behind her that he didn’t think she’d notice him spitting. No such luck! “Don’t spit!” Without even turning around to look at him.
- The time when Mouse was about two and very deliberately chose a pair of Mrs. Potato glasses as part of her outfit for a trip downtown and also chose to wear them upside down.
- I’d tell about the neon green dress and matching fangs but I know I’d get in trouble. Actually, I guess I probably just did tell about it. Grok grok grok. Duck ‘n’ run, Ol’ Baggy. Grok grok.
I could go on and on but I won’t. And, to all you well-wishers who think I need a dog or cat or guinea pig. Please. I love aminals but I do not need any of those beasts. I will just try to muddle along on my neverending difficult quest to find a new place for myself in the world. Grok grok GROK! Anyway, Ol’ Baggy already has a nice, beeyootiful, green FROG!! grokgrok frgok GROK!
Of course, I wrote most of this post earlier this afternoon and I was thinking it might be a little morose but then I thought, “I’ll feel better after I take my walk!” And I took my walk and guess what? I do feel better. Cheers! grok grok grok!
First of all, I am always happily surprised when I open up my blahg in the morning and there’s a post that I did *not* write! 🙂 Well, that is, unless Froggy happens to have been the author. Some of his posts I would really like to delete but, as he has somehow managed to finagle administrative privileges to my blahg, I can’t touch them! But I like what Isa wrote about The Old Coot, aka Grandroobly. Her stories, as she says, are not always exactly correct but that’s the way it goes with Fin Family Moomintroll stories in general. Every single summer since the beginning of time, we seem to have to rehash whether Grandroobly and The Commander got married on July 31st or August 1st. I dunno why I never thought about this before but I suppose we could always just celebrate twice, eh?
Anyway, the story I am going to embellish upon tonight is about when the old boy was a World War II pilot. I’ll probably get some of it wrong and most of the people who were intimately involved are dead. The Commander and Radical Betty probably remember it the best at this point and The Comm will need to comment or post and correct any of my errors. (Hey Mom, do-ya remember how? :twisted:)
My dad and his brother, Jack and Don, were in various stages of college when WWII was going on. Their dad, Donald McKenzie (MacKenzie?) Finlayson, was on the Chippewa County draft board at the time. As Grandroobly told Mouse one time during a phone interview for one of her high school assignments, his dad was having a difficult time sending other people’s sons to war while his own sons were safe at college downstate. So one day he told Jack and Don to get their affairs in order and get their you-know-whats down there to volunteer. And they did. My uncle Don was in medical school at that time, and obtained a medical type of assignment on a destroyer (Tuscon-Utah-Arkansas crew, please correct/embellish this if you want! I don’t know much about it :-)). Grandroobly signed up for the Army Air-Corps. As he told Mouse in the interview, “if you wanted to pick your job, you volunteered.”
So he learned to fly. A few years ago in Kenny’s Pitchen, he talked about those years a bit. He sang the song, “You’re in the Army now. You’re not behind the plow. You’ll never get rich. You son of a bitch. You’re in the Army now.” And then he talked about reveille. “5 AM and bar-rar-rar!” That was boot camp, of course, but he did go on to learn how to fly aero-planes and “the biggest bomber in the world,” as he told Mouse in their phone interview. Biggest bomber in the world, the B29.
As it turned out, he never saw active service. As a “leftenant,” he was a flight instructor and B29 flight engineer. When my parents got married, they expected that he would be sent out to the South Pacific any day. That never happened, because “we” dropped The Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The war was over and my dad eventually migrated home to Sault Ste. Siberia and became a banker, not his first choice of career although he ended up being good at it. But that’s all a long story that I will probably never really know in its entirety. And that’s okay.
I wrote earlier this week about a dreadlock sighting. That was my brother, not my dad. I dreamed that I went over to Metro to pick up Mouse and a Boeing 757 pulled up to the curb. No cops or millions of people or anything. And it looked kind of like a bus. A guy with long blond dreadlocks got off that plane/bus and I looked and I saw my brother smiling at me. And I walked over and we hugged. He was smiling. Real or not, I dunno. Jim went to Jamaica with the MTU jazz band
once three times. I can see him with long, dark blond dreadlocks. My dad? Naw. Well, I can’t describe him in just a few words but by the time he died he was quite a bit less “conservative” than he was when I was a kid. If they are traveling together, I *know* Grandroobly is not doing the dreadlock thing. But he *is* having fun and making friends!
I want to post something I wrote about Granddaddy when I was 17, for a Short Story Writing class with Judith – I think the assignment was a character sketch of someone we knew. It’s complete with bad writing devices and grammar. I clearly didn’t have some facts straight, and I think I took some liberties with details (unknowingly or not). I should point out that my father has since brought to my attention that Granddaddy used to listen to the ship scanner for what was coming up or down river and then walk down to the beach and know what it was, seemingly by magic. I also want to add one last story:
When I was in Spain, I called home around Christmas time when my parents were visiting my grandparents in the Soo. It was snowing, and Granddaddy informed me that I really ought to come home to shovel the walk. I responded that it would be a little difficult for me to get home and he said that it was fine, I could just parachute in from the plane it wouldn’t even have to stop, in fact the snow would cushion my fall.
The Big Friendly Granddaddy
My granddaddy is a character, but not of the type that you can tell just by looking at him. If you’ve ever read The BFG by Roald Dahl, that’s hwat he reminds me of. He doesn’t look like a big friendly giant, but that’s kind of how his personality is. Quiet, a little silly, and just maybe a little shy. He seems tall although he’s gotten smaller as I’ve gotten older, and he wears a lot of old clothes. Occasionally, my grandma will look at him and say “Jack, I didn’t even know you owned those pants anymore.”
I think he’s always been the way he is. One day in kindergarten, the class was sitting in a circle on a big square carpet in the kindergarten room and the teacher left for a minute. While the teacher was gone, granddaddy and another kid contrived to turn the entire class around by turning the carpet. Another time, the teacher sent him outside to collect all the children who hadn’t come inside from recess, but he didn’t come back and eventually the teacher had to go and get them all. I think they were all paddled.
Once, when he was a little older, he bought a baby alligator from another boy for ten cents. He kept it in the bathtub until that night when his mother told him he had to get rid of it. The next day he sold it to another kid. Of course he made a profit of fifteen cents by selling it for twenty-five.
I don’t know a whole lot about his teen years, but he grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. During the winter, he lived in town, but during the summer his family moved out to a log cabin on the very last bay of Lake Superior before it becomes the St. Mary’s River.
He went to college in the Lower Peninsula, and it was there that he met my grandmother, Fran, then the roommate of his sister, Betty. He asked my grandma to go out with him one day. He came to get her on foot and she asked him what they were going to do.
“Well, I thought maybe we would rent bicycles. Do you have fifty cents for rental?”
They ended up walking down to the river, and proceeded to find a place to sit down under a tree. Granddaddy decided to initiate a conversation.
“So, what do you think about God?”
I’m not sure of the year they were married, but it was during World War Two, because they had to be married on or near Granddaddy’s Air Force base in Texas. He never actually made it over seas, but instead spent the war teaching other men to fly planes for the U.S. He kept his piloting license for many years and took his family out on plane rides on Sundays.
After the war my grandparents moved back to the Soo. Graddaddy became a banker and they had two children, first my mother, Anne, and a couple years later, my uncle Jim. My mom doesn’t talk much about my granddaddy when she was young, but she has told me numerous times what he used to do when picking up she and her cousins from downhill skiing at Minneapolis Woods at night. The high school boys would always hold on to the back of the car in order to get a ride back to town, and granddaddy would manage to knock them off the back without injuring them. I hear this story a lot in the midst of lectures about good driving.
He retired from the bank in his mid-fifties. My grandma tells me that she would leave early every morning (she still worked as a teacher at Soo High) and granddaddy would sleep in, then make the bed by pulling the covers up as straight as he could around him, then creeping out without wrinkling them much.
When I was a little girl granddaddy used to get a cookie under my watchful eye, then turn to me and say “My cookie.”
“No, my cookie!” I would reply.
Eventually I caught on and started arguments of this sort myself.
“No, my chair!”
“No, my blanket!”
The one I remember best was “My dress!” to which granddaddy didn’t have much of a response.
Although there are a hundred thousand or so stories about granddaddy (and just about everyone else in my family), my best memories of him will always be at the beach. He will be walking the beach with me and my various family members, being careful to walk on the cool, wet packed sand at the water’s edge because it’s easiest there on his bad knee. He will look out over the water towards the island and the enormous lake freighter making its way up or down river to Duluth or Detroit and he’ll guess what it is. Uncle Jim and my cousin Val will proclaim its name much louder than my granddaddy. I’ll steal my mom’s binoculars just to check, but even without them I know he’ll be right every time.
Like I said, I have about a million stories about him, and I like to think that I learned a lot from him. Most importantly, I miss him. I like to think he and Jim are raising all sorts of strange, fun… stuff on the beach, impervious to the wintry weather. And I hope you all find the story I wrote funny!
I guess there are probably a few people who are wondering about that. It was exactly a year ago that my dad, aka “Grandroobly” to his granddaughters, died. Don’t think for a minute that thoughts about that last week and the six weeks preceding it haven’t been right up at the top of my consciousness. It’s just that, when it comes right down to it, I can’t quite exactly think what to write. So I’ll just dive in. Excuse my rambling train of thought, please!
Last year, on this day, I got the news as I was headed up to Sault Ste. Siberia for the second time in four days. Boomerang Woman. It was not a surprise, even though he was just about the toughest old coot in the whole world. I think I even called him that in my blahg a year ago. And he was. As the year 2006 began, he was going on 87 and about the only thing seriously wrong with his health was an irregular heartbeat. I figure if you’ve reached that age and that’s the only major thing wrong with you and it doesn’t keep you from doing your daily activities, you’re doing pretty okay.
Although the old coot had been limiting his activities for a while, one of the things he was still doing was walking. And I don’t mean slowly shuffling around the block holding on to a walker for dear life. His main walking route was down the escarpment to the post office and back up. A tall, skinny old coot wearing gazillion-year-old clothing that served well to masquerade his former existence as a bank executive. He did carry one of those new-fangled walking sticks but its intended use was to deal with any vicious aminals he might encounter. I dunno, when Liz and I were at Point Reyes, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a whole bunch of people who were obviously taking a *class* in how to take a walk with a walking stick. I can just hear what Grandroobly would’ve had to say about *that*. Sheesh.
If I could wish for anything different for the last seven weeks of my old octogenarian coot’s life, it would be that his irregular heartbeat would’ve kicked into full-tilt boogie mode and felled him quickly. In his sleep, walking to the post office, or wherever. But that wasn’t to be. His old ticker kept going through a fall on ice (or whatever), air ambulance to the Henry Ford Hoosegow, two lengthy surgeries, 23 days in the Hoosegow including 11 in the ICU, a ground ambulance ride back to Siberia, and a few weeks in a rehab place. In the end, it was an out-of-control bedsore that killed him.
I am convinced that he was ready to go. I don’t think he wanted any part of living on a planet where the only way he could be transported anywhere was by ambulance. I think he knew right from the first day at the Hoosegow that there was a good chance he wouldn’t make it. He had no appetite from that first day and he wasn’t particularly interested in doing anything to keep his mind active. By the time that bedsore became infected, his body had deteriorated to the point where it couldn’t even begin to fight the infection. There are a lot of people who apparently have a hard time deciding when to let go of someone they love and I think there are times when it *is* terribly hard. But when we were faced with the decision of whether to put in a feeding tube or not, there was only one answer. We knew he didn’t want to stick around for the excruciatingly hard road ahead of him and we knew it was right to let him go. His death was not a tragedy. He had a good, long, active life up until the day he fell. The last seven weeks were hell on wheels. Wherever he is, it’s a better place. (Actually, I think it’s Jamaica at the moment. ;-))
I wrote the mouse entry for my own little mouse because I knew she’d like it but the truth is that the old coot would’ve liked my stupid little mouse story too. He loved aminals and for some odd reason, he always liked to hear about all the stupid little adventures I have with them when I do my urban hiking. Like when I used to chase Wilma’s runaway dog for her and the time I pulled a dog out of traffic on the N. Maple Raceway to safety and held it until its frantic owner could get to it.
I don’t know if any of this made any sense or not but I am definitely remembering my dad. I just can’t be all that sad about it. Since I lost both my brother and my dad, the other side just doesn’t seem that far away. Not that I am in any way ready to go there, mind you! I still have a lot to do here! Ciao!
I was walking up someone’s driveway in the early morning twilight when something *very* small scampered away and scooted under a nearby A2 Refuse Cart. *Way* too small to be a skunk. Whew! I walked around to the other side of the cart and a very wee little mousey — of the scurry variety, not puffalump — was peeking out at me.
It is common knowledge (right?) that it is statistically safer to fly than drive. And I believe that but flying still makes me nervous, even after successfully flying to the left coast and back. And then there are days like today. I swear. If I had a dime for every time someone:
- Cut in front of me without putting on their turn signal.
- Cut in front of me without putting on their turn signal and then *slowed down*.
- Tried to merge into the same lane as I was trying to merge into at the same time as I was trying to merge into it.
- Didn’t let me in to whatever lane I wanted to get into, even though my turn signal had been on forever.
- *Tailgated* me, even though I was going at least five miles over the speed limit. (No, I am not a particularly slow driver but I am *very* alert, cautious but assertive when I need to be. Taught well by Grandroobly or maybe I just inherited a bit of his DNA.)
- Shot *across* a parking lot, emerging *suddenly* in front of me from between parked cars, thereby forcing me to SLAM on my brakes.
- We won’t even talk about the plastered-to-head-cell-phone crowd. Or the fast-food-supersize-me-eatin’-in-my-car crowd. Or the I’m-in-Jamaica-in-my-mind crowd.
After two trips to WCC (20 miles round trip, surface streets there and freeway back) and one trip to Metro (50 miles round trip, freeway both ways), I feel like I was in a vee-hickle all day and I feel pretty lucky to be alive. Aeroplanes seemed to be taking off and landing at Metro with none of those problems.
Doo doot doot doo doot da da da doo doot doot doo doot da da da waaaaaaaahhhhhhh doo… doo… doo… doo
Not sure if it was a real sighting or just a dream thing but those dreadlocks were *long*. I guess you’re thinkin’ back to that trip to Jamaica with the jazz band, or maybe you’re even hanging around Jamaica for all I know. I suppose you can do whatever you want with your hair when you are on the other side, which might give me something to look forward to since my hair has always refused to do anything I wanted it to. There are a few others who I wish would just keep themselves *out* of my dreams though.
Boy oh boy, did Ol’ Baggy make a fool outta ‘erself at skool t’day! Grok grok grok! Th’ in-class asinemint wuz sumthin like git with a partner ‘n’ make a 4-color palette fer th’ subjict that th’ teech’r givesya. In seven minits! Ol’ Baggy wuz flabbergast’d about th’ seven minits! Enyway, she ‘n’ Sandy team’d up ‘n’ they were given th’ topic o’ “Th’ Fifties.” As in th’ 1950’s, that is! Sandy ran ol’ Google ‘n’ Ol’ Baggy *tried* t’ run photoshop but Ol’ Baggy ackshully remembers th’ fifties ‘n’ ‘er stoopid ol’ brain kep’ gittin’ in th’ way. So. Here’s what they came up with:
So, each team in th’ class wuz given a diff’rent theme ‘n’ at th’ end, evrybuddy hadta guess who made what palette. Sum o’ th’ other palettes were “road rage” and “migraine” ifya wanna know. Enyway, when Ol’ Baggy ‘n’ Sandy’s palette got put up on th’ screen ‘n’ evrybody figgerd out it wuz th’ 50’s, one comment was, “I could see that.” Ol’ Baggy piped up with, “I *remember* that!” Sheesh! ‘n’ another person said sumthin’ about, “that’s crazy!” Ol’ Baggy gnauffed ‘n’ gnauffed about that. Luckily, she didn’ start blatherin’ away about before there wuz TV ‘n’ when there were outhouses evrywhere.
Anyway, if I were th’ techer, I’d prob’ly flunk Ol’ Baggy fer that ugly color comby-nation. Whaddya think? Akshully, I like how th’ ol’ palette goes with Frog Green!
5:45 AM: get up and ratchet the thermostat from 62 to 67 and go back to bed for a few more minutes. Having just a bit of trouble adjusting to daylight savings time for some reason.
6:00 AM: drag myself to a vertical position and head out to the kitchen to check the outside temperature. It’s 30, so I can get away without tights today, yay! Take a shower, etc.
6:30 AM: put on ski band, scarf, polartech vest, outer jacket shell, gloves, chacos. Head outside into — surprise! — a blast of wind and wet snow!
7:55 AM: Drive to Monday Coffee at Barry’s. It is dark and the streetlights are on and ice is coming out of the sky and it feels like December.
I have a lot to do today but one thing that I do not have on my agenda is to identify the gender of each of the variously-colored baby Abyssinian guinea pigs in the cardboard box that I was hauling around throughout the night and segregate them into separate boxes. Sheesh.
Or something. Lemme see… If you are Kayak Woman and Karen and you need a night where you can talk and drink and not worry about anybody driving home, it either has to be summer at the beach or you have to figure out a time when a) Kayak Woman is not gallivanting around out of town somewhere and b) Karen is not driving a trackmeet carpool or fulfilling any number of umpteen million other obligations. Or gallivanting out of town somewhere.
We needed a night like that. Ol’ Kayak Woman was actually going to be *on* The Planet Ann Arbor for the weekend and relatively unencumbered. Karen was similarly unencumbered. So I asked, “doyawanna shuttle on
down up to The Planet and we’ll go to Knight’s?” And I can’t even articulate the response but it was definitely positive, if somewhat unintelligible.
We headed downtown to Borders to connect Pengo and one of her friends up with another friend who goes to the UM. It was a pretty nice day out but pretty cold and I could not for the life of me figure out why there were so many weird and/or drunk looking people around. But I don’t go downtown very much any more, so who was I? After a while, it sunk in that a lot of them were wearing obviously green items of apparel, arguably not the favorite color around this planet. Finally someone more in tune with the world than I am mentioned that it was an actual holiday! St. Patrick’s Day! You might’ve thought that a gal like me whose ethnic background includes a healthy dose of Ireland (MacMullan, anyone?) would remember something like that. Not. Sheesh!
But then, we were in the market for a manhattan (or two), not green beer. And we got our manhattan at Knight’s, along with prime rib and the whole Knight’s experience. We had Pengo and her friends with us and Jane met us there too. Afterwards, Pengo and the himem headed over to Bursley Hall for the night, Jane went to her potato (beer) party and K and KW walked dawgs and then sat in the back of The Landfill talking about kids and octos and dogs and life and jobs and men and life and dogs and kids and life and jobs and octos and y’all do not wanna know. Over a nightcap in front of a nice fake-log fire.
Say what? It was about a million years ago when Monday Coffee at Barry’s was Monday Coffee at Cafe Zola. There were a few more participants in those days. Vicki and I had been raving about our favorite neighborhood pub, Knight’s Steakhouse, and one particularly vocal anti-Republican member of our little klatch seemed totally astounded that we would be caught dead in such an establishment.
We looked at each other in amazement. Hmm. Let’s dissect this. First. Republicans? Well, okay, neither one of us are card-carrying members of *any* political party. At least I know I’m not. I’ve known Vick long enough to be able to pretty well guess that she isn’t either. I don’t always agree with Republican *or* Democratic politics but I have voted for candidates from both parties in my life. Political issues come in about a gazillion colors for me, not just black and white. Life is hard and I’d rather slog through it without exhausting myself further by engaging in political arguments. I think that if great big bugs from outer space were to invade the earth, we’d all get onto the same page pretty darn quick.
So, onto Knight’s. Knight’s is what it is. It is not a fancy, upscale restaurant. It is an old-fashioned steakhouse. It attracts a relatively older crowd, especially during the lunch hour, when wheelchairs are a prevalent means of locomotion. Knight’s specializes in steak. The fish and seafood are pretty darn good too. Vegetarians can eat there although that’s not the restaurant’s specialty. The fast, friendly servers don’t tell you every last detail about the special of the day. The bartenders make a *strong* drink. And that’s okay because it’s within an easy walking distance of my house.
I think my favorite Knight’s memories involve the middle school science fair that Vicki and I used to run. The science fair took place for five days every February. Saturday night was midway through it all and came at a time when we could begin to relax a bit. The exhibits were all registered, set up, and judged. There were still two days to go but we had time to go out, eat and carouse a little bit. Get in out of the snow and stand in the crowd at the bar drinking a manhattan and laughing and talking at the top of our lungs while we waited for a table. Good times.
It’s March. That means it’s still winter here in the Great White North. It’s the month my hair absolutely drives me *nuts*. Dry and ugly and static-elucky-shucky. And I am so sick of putting tights on underneath all my clothes so I don’t freeze when I go outside. March can be a long slog. Karen’s been slogging along too, a slightly different slog than mine, perhaps. The antidote? Knight’s. Manhattans. Steak or whatever. Talk. A sleepover. With dogz. Republicans? Yeah, probably a few of those too. Who cares?
Or probably a handmade lace shawl or two would suffice in this day and age.
So, Mouse stood on her head and then we dropped her off at Metro for a flight out to California. As I hugged her before she went through security, I said, “I only wish I was going with you.” And I did. After all these years as a confirmed denizen of the Great White North, I don’t know why I’m doing so much California Dreamin’. But I’ve already had my trip and it’s better that she go alone. The girls will have a lot more fun and travel lighter with just the two of them.
I enjoyed being out there just me and Liz. In contrast to some of our loverly “family vacations,” there was absolutely no arguing and no one was ever at cross purposes. I was up for the low-budget tour. I didn’t care about shopping or fancy restaurants or exciting activities. I wanted to just hang out and soak up the scenery and the local population. Sure, we ate out sometimes. But homemade avocado sandwiches and vegetarian burritos were just as good and, overall, we really didn’t spend much money at all. I knew she would have to be at work some of the time and that was okay too. I had plenty of work to do myself and it also gave me the chance to get out and walk around Berkeley by myself. I’m easy. I’m happy sleeping on couches and sharing bathrooms with whatever critters live there. Spiders and mushrooms live in mine.
I’m sure Mouse will get a slightly different tour. As Liz and I passed a yarn shop in San Francisco, I said to her, “I think that store is in your future!” I bet Mouse will want to explore the left coast’s palette of fiber art materials and supplies. I love fiber art stuff too but with Photoshop and Flash filling up so much of my creative space lately, I could’ve cared less on this trip. And Mouse will probably not get up at 5 AM everyday and fade at 10. So, I don’t know what they’ll do but it’ll be different than what I did and probably Lizard’ll be relieved when all of the guests scheduled this month or thereabouts have come and gone and life settles back to a dull roar.
Have a good time, kiddos! Post pictures. Froog and I will take care of the little mouse, Squeaky. She’s safe! grokgrokgrokGROK!!! I’ve got my own little adventures planned for this weekend. And I’ll be hanging out at Metro next Thursday, ready and waiting for the usual weekend of grocery shopping that happens before another quarter at K begins. Trader Joe’s anyone?