Archive for June, 2007

Beach Flotsam

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

ernie.jpgThis is day number four of one of those three-day blows and I don’t like to complain much about the weather but I was wearing long pants and wool socks on the beach this morning and I was kind of wondering if I ought to go to Walmart and see if they had any of those little knit gloves in stock yet. It’s the kind of day I can remember when I was a kid and whoever’s mom agreed to watch us swim would sit on the beach in a winter jacket. Not very warm.

There is a lot of interesting flotsam on the beach today, including quite a few dead birds as Ernie there will tell you. Dead birds wash up frequently and sometimes other aminals too. Once when I was a kid, a dog carcass lay down there for half the summer. Frankly, I’d rather find dead birds than sick or wounded ones. One time, there was a wounded bird down by Doelle’s that would startle the living daylights out of me every time I walked by it by trying to fly away. After a few days, it couldn’t fly any more and just lay there making this raspy breathing noise. It was awful. There wasn’t a darn thing I could do for it. I don’t shoot and there wasn’t anyone around who did. That was one time I wished I did know how to shoot. Finally my brother came up for the weekend and the first thing I did was ask him to walk down there with me and put that bird out of its misery. But by the time we got there, it was too late. Rest in peace, little birdie.

Once when I posted a picture of some dead mice found in the walls of the old Houghton Lake cabin, my brother wrote me an email that said something like, “now that you have crossed the line and posted dead aminals on the blog, here is the dead sturgeon that the octos have been all clanked up about.” He wasn’t quite right. The mice were not exactly the first dead aminals I had ever posted about, there was an early post about some seagull wings with no body down at Doelle’s. That was back in 2003. Much kibbitzing among the octos (and some younger folk) about who done it.

So, some flotsam, birds and other things. This post is for my brother and, if you do not want to see dead birds, DO NOT CLICK the dead bird links!!!

  • A nice fresh cormorant head.
  • This one is safe to click. Ernie and The Lord Valdemort found this loverly iron work that “floated” in. Or whatever. I thought maybe it could be used to cover the holes in the floorboards of The Indefatigable until I saw that it was also full of holes.
  • A dead seagull with a bad case of conjunctivitis. Or do seagulls naturally have orangey-red eyes?
  • I don’t know *what* this is. Was it alive? Is it organic? I actually think it’s a piece of wood or something with all kinds of “stuff” attached to it.
  • This dead loon has been here a while and is pretty well decomposed. Do NOT let it bite you.
  • Cormorant parts.
  • I’m not sure what this is but it’s a dead bird of some sort.
  • This one’s okay to look at, no dead stuff. Alfred and Lord Valdemort pronounce this a paddle to the sea! It seems to have a flag and a float and an anchor. Not sure where the *boat* is.

They have debit card parking meters, why not debit card triple loaders?

Friday, June 29th, 2007

I am getting tired of shoveling quarters. I got to the laundromat this morning, the one with the wifi, and the triple loaders cost 16 quarters. I used two of those. Then I used four dryers. That is, I was lucky enough to find four *working* dryers that were somewhat adjacent. They cost a quarter for every five minutes. Lemme see, I think I used four quarters each in two of them, six quarters in a third, and seven in the last one. I brought my own detergent, which I think The Commander bought, so I didn’t pay for that. All that adds up to, hmmm, 16 quarters equals $4, times 2 is $8 plus $2 plus $1.50 plus $1.75. $13.25! Right? I wonder how much it costs me to do an equivalent amount of laundry at home. I guess I could always do it at The Commander’s house. Or Radical Betty’s. But that would mean I’d have to do it in a serial fashion and I’d rather do in parallel. Much faster. And I hate to wait.

I was thinking, though, as I was clinkity-chunking quarter after quarter into those triple loaders, “why can’t they just make one that takes a debit card?” It would be so much easier and I wouldn’t have to be messing around scavenging and rolling quarters all the time. They have debit card parking meters over at the STAC building at U of M now. Why not the laundromat? Actually I bet there *are* triple loaders that take debit cards but I doubt that the Lockview will be installing them any time soon because it’s looking pretty decrepit these days. They didn’t even have any coffee going. Heck, I’d’ve *paid* for coffee! And there were the usual kinds of characters there. A guy who came in from outside twice to use the bathroom. I’m sure glad I didn’t have to go. I think if I *had* had to go, I’d’ve driven up to The Commander’s House or walked over to the locks. And a couple other guys standing there cussing up a storm. Something about going to Canada. Or coming back from Canada. I couldn’t follow it. I thought they were about 65 or so until they I heard them talking about how old they were, which was one and two years, respectively, *younger* than me! I suppose they were thinking a similar thing about me, i.e., “look at that old bag! Betcha she’s about 110!” Grok grok! Ol’ Baggy is as ol’ as Methooseela! Grok grok grok GROK!!!!

Anyway, the moral of this story is: Beach Folk, if you need to use the laundromat, go early in the day, eight in the morning if you can. It was mostly empty this morning but with all those broken machines, I bet people were waiting around by afternoon. And I hate to wait. As a few of you know. Unless I’m waiting in a place with wifi. And coffee.

Online at the Lockview Laundromat

Friday, June 29th, 2007

via “OPENWEB.” Not sure what that is, it can’t be that the laundromat has wifi. Half the dryers don’t even work.

Walking the Beach, starring Ernie and Alfred

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

This is just me and my digital camera shooting another amateur video. This one is of Karen’s dogs, Ernie and Alfred, walking the beach, and I’ve even narrated it. The beach is on Lake Superior (technically it’s the upper St. Mary’s River) and the water in Lake Superior is very low this year, making for a more interesting shoreline than usual. I walk pretty fast, so this is pretty shaky. Enjoy. Unless you are on dial-up, like I usually am when I’m at the beach.

Doggy Death March

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

jimnaturetrail.jpgIt’s June 27 and I woke up in a state of complete awareness about what I was doing two years ago today. That being jumping into my car and driving to Grand Blanc just in time to see my brother die. I can still remember standing in the hospital parking lot with Karen after it was all over, thinking, “what did we just do?” The sun was blazing down out of a hot, hazy summer sky.

We didn’t have any special plans to observe that event today. It’s a pretty motley crew here at the moment. Me and the GG, The Commander, Ernie and Alfred. Not much going on. It’s a windy day and much cooler than the last couple days and, along about noon, I was a little bored and I decided it would be a good day to take the dogs on a death march up to the nature trail on the old Read Corp. property. I really wasn’t making any particular connection between the trail and the date. I just think dogs need a lot of exercise (and so do I) and this was one way to get it.

As we started to walk up there, I suddenly remembered that Little Traverse Conservancy, which owns the land now, had named the trail after my brother. The mission took on a new meaning. When I got to the trail head, there was a young couple with two little kids on the platform. They were just passing through from Maryland and I don’t have the slightest idea how they knew about the trail. The man asked if it was Canada that he could see and I told him it was. Then, shy as I am, I found myself telling him the soundbite version of how the trail came to be and that it was named after my brother. Who died two years ago today.

The dogs and I then continued on our death march, which obviously did its job because Ernie was too tired to even ask to follow me over here to Green Guy’s Internet Cafe. The first time I ever walked the trail was with my brother and his old dog Sam and it struck me today that hiking “his” trail with his dogs was a perfect way to pay a little tribute to him! And that little family on the platform may have gotten just a little bit more than most visitors do.

In a separate coincidence, although I’m having some difficulty finding information on international flights, our China contingent should be a little less than an hour away from landing at O’Hare as I write this. I know my brother would be happy that his family took advantage of the chance to take this trip and I’m excited to see Karen within the next few days.

I think I hear my brother telling me that the sun is over the yardarm, so I’m gonna go now. Cheers!

Volcano Mama and the Red Hot Lava Girls

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Yes, I know I am sunburned. I *need* to get sunburned at the beginning of every summer. It does not hurt. It will not peel off. It will turn to tan. Yes, I know I have blonde hair and blue eyes. My skin is not as light as most people think. It does tan. I am not insane. I have been this way all my life. I will start using sunblock after toady today. Actually I use it on my face whenever I’m going to be out on the beach or the water. Well, mostly all of the time. I admit, my face is a little pink right now. I won’t forget again. Okay? Okay. Y’all keep track of your own business now and we’ll all be happy. Love, Kayak Woman! Er, I mean Volcano Mama. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Wish I’d had my camera

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Caw! Caw! Caw caw! Woof woof arf arf! Cawcaw Caw Caw! I don’t who was chasing who. Kee-reist.

Desert Island Dogz

Monday, June 25th, 2007

hotbeachday.jpgWell, I don’t know what to write about today. It was blazingly hot on the beach, I’m not sure if the picture shows how hot or not. Today was my first swim of the season. I mean it was my first swim in the big lake. I took an unplanned swim in Houghton Lake a week or so ago because I couldn’t find a shallow enough spot to *gracefully* exit my kayak. I’m sunbaked and sandblasted. It reminds me of the days when the kids were little and we’d all sit in front of Don and Katie’s cabin and it would get to be about 5 or 5:30 and the conversation would get really degenerative. Somebody would ask, “What time is it?” And somebody else would ask, “Well, where is the sun?” And I would stand up and grab my beach chair and reply, “Over the yardarm!” And walk back down the beach toward home, with my cute little tow-headed beach urchins trailing along behind.


A Dog’s Life

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

erniebone.jpgThere are a lot of reasons that I don’t have a dog. Or any other pets, for that matter. It isn’t because I don’t like them. When I was a little kid, I was terrified of dogs! The Commander and Grandroobly decided that getting a dog for me was the only way to resolve that issue. The summer I was six, a stray puppy showed up on the doorstep of a family friend and pretty soon, I had a dog.

The day that Grandroobly brought the dog home, a bunch of us cousins hung out on the old log pile next to the old cabin. These were huge logs with “seats” cut out in them and you could play all kinds of games, train being the one I remember the best. Nevertheless, the afternoon seemed to go on forever.

Finally Grandroobly drove in and got a very jumpy, wiggly, little creature out of the car. Guess what? I was still scared of dogs. I don’t know what I was thinking, maybe that I’d get over my fear instantaneously? She was very friendly and everybody else had fun playing with her. I was too scared.

It wasn’t until evening, when my new puppy was asleep in her box, that I finally felt brave enough to approach her. I fell in love and that was the end of my fear of dogs. By the next day I was playing with her and picking her up and getting licked and the whole works. And by that time, she also had a name. Tigger. I think it was Radical Betty who named her but I may be mis-remembering. Why Tigger? Because Tiggers bounce! And this puppy bounced!

Tigger had a good 13 years. She was a true cabin dog and back in the day, whenever we’d hit Birch Point Road, Grandroobly would let her out of the car and she would run like the devil all the rest of the way to the cabin. She wasn’t perfect. She didn’t like the cabin milkman and she wasn’t always crazy about our friend Kevin and I think she chewed up a pair of My Dear Uncle Harry’s shoes. Dogs are dogs.

I know there are pictures of her around but I can’t find a good one, so you’ll have to make do with Ernie and his goofy looking bone. Tigger was a golden retriever-looking dog except smaller. *Lots* of fur. Oh yeah, why don’t I have dogs (or pets) now? That’s way too long for today. And not particularly politically correct either. Seeya in the next episode.

A Busmanwoman’s Holiday with Two Male Dogz

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

I think we own *everything* on the beach now. Sorry, all you beach folk. You may have a title for the property but we own it. I have seen lifted legs in just about every possible configuration there is. There’s the quick little don’t look now but I just marked that old log. There’s the full-tilt boogie lift my whole body up in the air along with my leg so I can mark this old dead loon wing without actually touching it. And then there’s the circuitous little dance around the yard lifting and sprinkling every tree and blueberry bush. With a sprinkle sprinkle here and a sprinkle sprinkle there. Hmm, ma, maybe you better think twice about using that cute little blueberry patch for pie. Actually, I don’t even know how you can manage to go around and pee just a little bit at every object. Uh, usually, once I start, I don’t quit until it’s all gone. Grok grok. Yuck! Ol’ Baggy, that wuz TMI! grok grok grokGROK! Oh, shut up, Froog! Anyway, I was mystified about why the sand castle pile in front of Brigid’s cabin seemed so important. King Alfred didn’t give the castle pile a mere lift and sprinkle. He got right on top of it and pooped. Kee-reist! I figured somebody’s grandchildren had made it so I wasted no time in dredging a shovel out of the garage. Actually, you don’t *dredge* things out of Jimbo’s garage. It’s way too neat and clean. But that’s beside the point. I knew I needed to clean that up quick. Nobody pooped on it the next few times we walked by but both dogz seemed to be vying to be the first to lift their leg. And then we met Brimley. That sand castle pile belonged to Brimley, a one-year-old Piedmont puppy. He’s around the same size as King Alfred but he runs circles round Alfred and the big little guy’s nose seemed just a bit out of joint. Ernie wisely elected to watch from a safe distance up on the bank.

To be perfectly accurate, because I know Karen will correct me when she eventually gets around to reading this, Ernie and Alfred were born male but they are neutered. But they still lift their legs. They are great dogz but I’ll be glad to hand them off at the end of this little adventure. Love, Kayak Woman.

A summer head of hair — perfect attire for scooping dog poop off of small sandcastles on the beach.

Friday, June 22nd, 2007


Soo Locks Web Cams

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

They’re back! Where did they go? It’s a long story but the link was on the Houghton Lake page. Yes, I know that doesn’t make sense. Jane alerted me and I reinstalled the link on the sidebar there under “Other Interesting Stuff.” If you don’t see it, refresh your browser. It’s odd but it looks like it’s a hot day up in Siberia (not sure if it is) and the water looks kind of warm, like bath water. Global warming, anyone?

Stuff #4583 aka Go Away #3782

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

It’s summer and all the ya-hoos are out. Rickety old minivans drop them off in the neighborhood and after a bit of loitering around on the corner by Hans’s house, they shoulder their backpacks and go off to seek their fortunes.

The last solicitor brave enough to pick his way through the land mines that line the driveway leading up to the front door of The Landfill was a friendly enough young man. I cut him off with a firm “no thank you” before he had a chance to launch into his spiel. “But I’m not trying to *sell* you something, ma’am!” he replied. “I’m from the blah-blah-blah organization and I have free stuff for you.”

Say what? Seriously. I know better than that. I’m sure that any cheap little trinkets that you are giving out are just a gimmick to make me feel guilty enough to listen to your spiel. And at the end of your spiel, you will be asking for money for something. But beyond that, I do not WANT any of your STUFF! I am trying to GET RID OF STUFF HERE! I do not want to buy anything from you. I do not want any of your free stuff. In fact, I have a whole bunch of crappy old STUFF that I would love to give you. Except I won’t give it to you because I do not want you at my door.

Kids. I know it’s hard to find a summer job but didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s dangerous to go door-to-door? There are serial killers out there. And crazy old ladies like me who are likely to throw bags of trash at you. You are not going to get rich going door to door selling magazine subscriptions or asking for people to sponsor you for “young American” contests or giving away cheap little trinkets. In fact, your supervisor over there in the rickety old minivan isn’t going to get rich either. There’s probably some shark 16 levels above him who’ll make a little cash out of this little scam. Not you.

Go home. Your mom is worried about you. She doesn’t trust your supervisor. Actually, she thinks HE’S a serial killer. Find an honest job. If you can’t find one, volunteer your time somewhere. Help out with some old people or at-risk children. Serve soup to the homeless. Whatever you do, for the umpteen millionth time, please do not knock on my door. I don’t want whatever it is you have. I have enough stuff.

It used to be so easy…

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Well, it wasn’t really, sometimes it was downright scary. But usually I could come up with an answer or a couple possible strategies or, if nothing else, a hug. Now I rarely know the answers and I’m not always sure I even understand the questions. And when I’m feeling a little down — and I am *sometimes* — occasionally, there’s somebody around that I can talk to but more often, I just have to push whatever’s bothering me further down inside somewhere. Oy. Don’t mind me, it’s just one of those days. I’ll shut up and get back to work. Love, Kayak Woman.

Quarter Drive

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

laundryshoes.jpgLemme see… I got one quarter with my change for the coffee we got at the Zeeb Rd. McDonald’s this morning. I found two more when I cleaned out The Indefatigable this afternoon. And another two were hiding in the key basket. That brings me up to a whopping $23.50!

But I’ll need more. It takes 10 quarters to wash a vee-hickle. I’m trying to wash approximately one vee-hickle a week, mostly taking turns between the Hondas. The Indefatigable has too many holes. It’s two quarters (plus two dollar bills) every time I cross the Mackinac Bridge. And I’m not sure how many quarters it takes to do the laundry. Back in the days when I filled three triple-loaders plus a couple light loads and then umpteen batrillion trips through the dryers, it took at least 80. It’s considerably less nowadays but I still need quarters. Oddly enough, the mess of laundry in the pic doesn’t look like it’s big enough to take up three triple-loaders plus but that pic is from summer 2002 and that was my typical laundry routine then. And then there are always a few miscellaneous parking meters to feed. Fortunately it takes only one quarter a lunch at Penny’s Kitchen, compared to five or six anywhere downtown on The Planet Ann Arbor.

Anyway, I need more quarters. American quarters only. I’ve got nothing against Canada but Canadian coins don’t work in American machines. Last year I did what I usually do, which is go over to the bank and “buy” some rolls of quarters. The first time I hit the Lockview Laundromat, I started putting quarters into the washers and they wouldn’t turn on. I was really puzzled until I scrutinized one of the coins and found that it was Canadian. At a quick glance, they look a lot like the new-style American quarters. The coins in the roll I got from the bank were hand-rolled by some customer, who had loaded it up with Canadian quarters. Probably a third of the coins were Canadian. That was bad enough but the next roll I opened had dimes and nickels sandwiched between the quarters. Maybe rolled by a customer’s three-year-old? [NOTE: this is *not* a rant about the bank. Just in case anyone thinks all I do is rant about banks and on-line businesses. This was a fluke, I managed to get the laundry done, and went on with life.]

This year, recent housecleaning endeavors yielded two rolls of quarters plus some. It became a game to see how many quarters I could add to that through change from purchases and general scavenging.

I’m up to $23.50. I need more. I’ll pay anyone IN The Carbeck Landfill 12.5 37.5 cents for each quarter they give me. (Uh, yeah, 12.5 cents would not be much of a deal, would it?) NOTE!!! This is not a plea for readers to send me quarters in the mail. So DON’T send them. I won’t pay you for them. And I’ll find what I need around here, I’m sure. Or go to the bank. Have a good summer, have fun at the laundromat and the carwash, and cross the Mackinac Bridge a few times but please don’t buy property in the Yoop. We already have enough McMansions.

On the Warpath

Monday, June 18th, 2007

I have spent way too many hours today cleaning up after various little financial mishaps. It’s about high time I got actively re-involved in financial matters at The Landfill. I’m pretty good at keeping track of money — or lack thereof, as is mostly the case around here. I’m not very good at *investing* it and I am *abysmal* at *making* it. And that has got to change. But for about the last couple years, the zombie that took over my body would not let me even look at financial stuff. That is not good and that zombie was one bad aminal, but I seem to be back in the saddle again (knock on wood) and today, I was on the warpath!

The first situation had the best ending. We got a second notice about our North Country Trail membership dues. Hmm, *had* we paid? A little sleuthing turned up a payment record on my “second” VISA, which I almost *never* use. I called up the NCT. I got a *person*. A friendly one! And a clear phone line. My person *quickly* looked up our records, found the payment, said that the expiration date didn’t advance for some unknown reason, and *fixed* it. Then and there. So, kudos to the NCT!!! That’s how it *should* work!

Unfortunately, when I went on to the next couple of little problems, things quickly got weird, bad, and ugly. First, a Visabuxx card that’s not being used and getting charged an “inactivity” fee every month. I want to cancel it and send the balance to the card owner. How hard can that be? I started working on this last week. I’ll spare you the details but I have been through a couple rounds of *excruciatingly* slow conversations via phone and email. I am getting nowhere. I wanted this to be a little surprise for the former card owner but I guess it isn’t. And “little” is the operative word here. There’s not a whole lot of money remaining. But it’ll be even less if they insist on charging me $5 to close it. I don’t know where this is gonna go next but I’m-a gonna fight it.

And then things got really weird. When I found the NCT membership transaction, I noticed that we were being charged $10 a month by Who what? After *much* navigating around, I found that Reservation Rewards provides paying members with printable coupons for businesses in their vicinity. Hmmm. Was the Westgate Kroger one of them? Noooooo. Some grocery store over in Canton was though. Naw, I don’t think so. Even if any of the businesses were ones that are already on my beat, I am not a coupon clipper. They just aren’t worth the trouble. And they aren’t worth $10 a month. Sheesh. I’m not sure how that whole thing got started. The GG is a computer scientist with a whole career of experience behind him. And he is a skeptic. The LAST thing he would do is KNOWINGLY sign up for any such thing. Our best guess is that it’s related to, which also had a transaction on that VISA. Maybe I’ll get some of those ten-dollarses back or maybe not. I’m gonna ask for them. Buyer beware!!!

What irks me is how complicated all this stuff is. When my body is not inhabited by a zombie, I am pretty good at tracking down discrepancies in bank statements and things. I can navigate automated phone systems and understand people with heavy, non-American accents. I can beat my way through a badly designed web site with the best of them. What bugs me about all this is thinking about the absolutely clueless people out there. Those who cannot easily beat their way through about a million unintelligible automated phone prompts or a website that doesn’t give you an easy, obvious way to cancel an account. What do you do if you are hard of hearing or can’t see well enough to read a computer screen or suffer from cognitive issues? I was impressed by how a relatively small organization like the NCT dealt with an issue and I wish more companies would follow that kind of example.

Okay. Rant over. Moral of the story: watch the detailed activity on your bank and credit card statements. I sloughed off on that for a bit. Never again. Zombie OUT! At ease!

UPDATE: I’ve been contacted by someone from Reservation Rewards who ran across my blahg and I’ve cleaned up the “late-night” language in this entry so as not to slander them. That kind of talk really isn’t my usual style but I spent a lot of time on this stuff yesterday and I was frustrated and angry. Apparently, the GG signed up for a membership in May 2006 and somehow inadvertently signed up for a Reservation Rewards membership in the process. He has no memory of doing that and this isn’t the kind of thing either one of us would knowingly buy into. He subsequently received emails from Reservation Rewards but deleted them, thinking they were spam. I’d’ve done the same thing. I get a *lot* of spam. In June 2006, they began charging one of my VISA cards a $10 monthly membership fee. From my standpoint, this was not authorized by either of us. Reservation Rewards has offered a refund. The Visabuxx situation is still not cleared up.

A Little Spot of Kayak Bliss

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

canal.jpgThe Twinz of Terror did a death marathon this weekend — Dead Stream River all the way to the otherwise inaccessible Bear Lake and back. I enjoy a good death marathon or biathlon or whatever once in a while. I generally like to get a *lot* of exercise. But I don’t always like to do death marches and this was their trip. It’s okay. This morning was *perfect* for kayaking to The End of The Canal.

I don’t exactly know why I like The End of The Canal so much. It’s not some big fancy kayak trip, I can get there in about 40 minutes. But it’s a quiet little space adjacent to a large vacation lake full of pontoon boats and jet skis water lice and I can usually sit there and drink my V8 or water or whatever all by myself. Except for the birds and turtles and an occasional deer coming down to take a drink. Sometimes I encounter power boats in the canals and I have to admit, I usually feel just a bit virtuous that I’m operating under my own power, not petroleum. But, to their credit, the powerboat folks often act a little envious of me and my little boat. Like, “maybe *we* should be doing more of what *she’s* doing. It’d be *good* for us.” Maybe I’ll convert some of them yet. When I first started hanging around at Houghton Lake 27 years ago, I was one of a very few walkers. Now there are gazillions of walkers. So there’s hope.

I didn’t see either powerboats or deer this morning. I encountered only one turtle and it was mostly underwater. It was hot, maybe it didn’t need to sun itself? I dunno. There was a big dead tree hanging out over the water close to The End of The Canal. I didn’t think much of it except that I needed to avoid it. As I got very close, I was startled to see a strategically placed nest right almost on the end of it with a black and white bird on it. I startled the bird too and it flew away. I stopped at The End of The Canal for just five minutes or so. I drank my V8 and rinsed out the can. When I paddled back out, I made a wide berth around the dead tree with its black and white bird. It didn’t fly away again.

Maybe the GG will send me a jpg or gif of his gps trail up to Bear Lake. Or maybe not.

China Itinerary

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

I know that Karen will have some great blahg entries and probably about a gazillion pictures when she gets back and recovers from jet lag. But I thought The Commander and maybe some others might like to be able to visualize where our intrepid travelers will be in China, so here’s a map with a very sketchy overview of their itinerary below it:


  • First concert in Shanghai.
  • Bus to Hangzhou for concerts two and three. (Hangzhou is just a bit southwest of Shanghai and doesn’t appear on the map.)
  • Bus to Ningbo City for fourth concert (east of Hangzhou).
  • Bus to Chanxing City for fifth concert. (Chanxing is not on this map either, it’s west of Shanghai and north of Hangzhou.)
  • Fly to Xi’an, farther over to the west. No concerts here, just sight-seeing and cultural activities.
  • Fly to Qingdao, on the east coast north of Shanghai, for the final two concerts.
  • Train to Beijing to tour the Great Wall and other sights.
  • Fly back to Shanghai and then home.

Tsssssssssp! Yeh Neerg Yug!

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Korg Korg! Elihw ht’ lo’ gab ‘n’ ht’ etuc li’l teksuom erew gnivah tsafkaerb revo ta Yrrab Slegab siht gninrom, I tas ereht ‘n’ d’reggif tuo siht ylrevol wen egaugnal. Ew nac klat t’ hcae rehto thgir ni ht’ emas moor sa ht’ lo’ gab ‘n’ ht’ hcnirg ‘n’ ht’ lo’ rednammoc ‘n’ lo’ Lacidar Ytteb ‘n’ lla ht’ tser o’ esoht srekcals! Esuom t’now neve eb elba t’ dnatsrednu ti ‘n’ ehs si doog ta segaugnal. I t’nac tiaw t’ hcaet ti ot ay. M’i kcuts ni Esuom’s moor ref won niyrt’ t’ pleh reh naelc ti. Tub m’i annog tig pu ereht yb kooh ro yb koorc. Ll’i tig pu ereht t’ Dnarg Cnalb ‘n’ gnirps Einre ‘n’ Derfla attuo ht’ liaj ‘n’ ll’ew lla ylf pu ereht no lo’ Youb 22. Eikoms? Nik ay tig taht lo’ niylf’ neehsum derif pu? mud ed mud ed mud ed mud Korg Korg!!!

Fourteen Hours Ahead

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

That’s the time zone difference between The Planet Ann Arbor and Shanghai, China. And China is where the GB Fins are today, er, tomorrow, beginning their tour of that country with the Windiana Concert Band. My brother married a flute player (like me) and I think Karen is playing first chair plus piccolo. Valdemort followed in her trombone playing dad’s footsteps and is also in the band. Pengo Janetto is not a band nerd so she’s doing setup. And Karen’s mom is along for the ride, excited to be visiting cities that her brothers saw during World War II. The boyz of bark are locked up at the kennel until I spring ’em. And they better be good! Grok grok grok. I’ll keep ’em in line. Grok grok! Roight, Froog, you’ll be the biggest carouser. Hmmm, maybe Alfredo’ll decide you resemble a hedgehog… GROKGROKGROKGrok Help!!! Grok grok.

Yes, I could have participated in the China trip. For a number of reasons, I wasn’t ready. The short of it is: after New Year’s Day 2007, I felt like I’d been hit by a train. The previous year and a half of hauling a sleeping bag around and living out of a ratty old LL Bean duffel bag filled with tattered ski or kayak clothes (depending on the season) had to end. I had to kick the zombie out of my body and grab hold of my life again. And the first step on that journey was regaining control of my house. Yeah, I know that sounds like a boring excuse. I’ll spare you the details but it had to be done. And I knew I would want to be around the Great Lake State this summer. People are flying in and out. California, China, Maine, Sénégal. I dunno how to describe it but I had to be on the ground. It seemed like somebody had to be.

This is Karen’s trip. Right around the time that my brother and Karen got to the point that the kids were getting to be on their own and they could maybe actually do some fun things, Jim’s health was hitting a downward slide. I don’t think I quite realized how much at the time. I kept thinking that he was going to beat the H-C virus somehow. My hunches are often sometimes right. Abysmally so sometimes. Not this time. It blindsided me.

I am fortunate to have a sister-in-law like Karen and I am very happy that she has forged ahead with her life. It’s what my brother would want. This trip is a celebratory trip as much as a working trip. Life goes on. You might as well have fun. So you guys have a great time. It’s been a long time since I’ve been happy hanging around tinkering with The Landfill. I’m not a zombie any more. I’m not happy every minute. But I am not numb like I was a year ago. I’m making progress and I’m having my own weird kind of Planet Ann Arbor fun. My bro’ would say, “Yeah mon.” Or maybe, “Kee-reist!” You never know.

And, lessee, it’s 6:47 PM here, so that must mean it’s 8:47 AM in Shanghai — tomorrow!!!