Archive for December, 2007

The year 2007 in pictures

Monday, December 31st, 2007

fireplace.jpgOr not. I just don’t have the energy tonight. I’m okay. I’m just adjusting to a different life style than I’ve been living the past few years. In this case, that’s a good thing!

I really was thinking about making a slideshow of 2007. I even went back through iPhoto and exported pictures. But 2007 was a huge, almost magical year. I hope I don’t regret saying that. Knock on wood, big time!!! But it was pretty magical, especially after 2005 and 2006, which I don’t even want to think about right now. I know that someday I will want to revisit those days. For the moment, I have largely buried them. Onward. Back to the slideshow, though. Before I even got to September, I had exported over 100 photos. I don’t want to make a slideshow that big and you definitely do not want to look at it.

It *has* been a rather magical year (er, yeah, I guess that’s the *third* time I’ve said that?). Anyway. Travel. I went to California for the first time in my life, riding on an airplane for the first time in I don’t want to count how many years. And I’m a kid who grew up going on Sunday afternoon flights with my dad, even being allowed to steer the plane once in a while from the co-pilot’s seat. Go figure. Back and forth to Fin Family Moominbeach all summer. Hanging around with The Commander and kids and dogs and aunts and uncles and cousins of every degree. And in-laws. And friends. Skiing, hiking, kayaking, death biathlons. Picking up my flute and kinda sorta seriously practicing, only to have to put it down again when other opportunities came into my life. Starting an unfinished prodject and making slow progress but not quitting. And having the faith *not* to quit.

Learning — finally — to be brave, courageous, and bold. Gaining a toehold on self-confidence and finding out that other people maybe might actually have faith in my abilities. And hoping that I can live up to it all.

The GG likes to celebrate the New Year with a lot of commotion and people. I just don’t care. I don’t even care if I make it to midnight or not. I think it’s a hangover from the days when I was a kid who downhill skied every single day between Christmas and New Year’s. By the end of a week of skiing, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I would nod off as I skied (in my mind) down the top half of old Number 1 at Mission Hill, jerking awake as I approached the corner, hoping I could come to something resembling a graceful stop or turn before skiing the last leg down to the clankity old chairlift. I can still remember lying in my bed with the silver headboard on Superior Street up in the Yoop with one or two beloved cousins in my room with me.

They’re threatening us with heavy snow tonight. I *may* want to go and walk in it if we get it. I do not want to walk downtown. I know I will fall asleep on the couch before midnight. I do not care!

Not a bad year. Hope yours was good too.

Living on the Planet Ann Arbor

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

owlz.jpgDriving rather aimlessly around the planet (Ann Arbor) today with Elizilla, the discussion turned for a while to which planet was better, Ann Arbor or Berkeley or whatever. I’m not going to relate that whole conversation but it did get me thinking off on my own tangents. In my life, I’ve spent five days in Berkeley and going on 30 years in Ann Arbor. That’s more years than I spent in Sault Ste. Siberia, even though I grew up there and it’s my first and longest lasting love. Although I often felt like just blowing that pop stand when I was a kid. Malls? J. L. Hudson’s? Relatives in Detroit, Ann Arbor, East Lansing? I loved visiting them. I tried my hardest to be what I thought was a sophisticated city kid back then. But hey: you can take the girl outta the Yoop butchya can’t necessarily take the Yoop outta the girl!

I moved to Ann Arbor because I loved Ann Arbor. When I was a kid, I always thought it was just about the coolest place on earth. And here I am! When I was young and we lived in The Marquis’s old apartment on Seventh Street, we used to be able to easily walk downtown and we often did. To eat or go to the bar or whatever. Walk out the door and through West Park. I remember that old, shabby apartment fondly, even with its rock-n-roll floors and I was so glad that our friend Jim Carpenter took it over after us and our kids actually got to see it back in the day. Not sure where Jim Carpenter is now! Buddy? Love you. Where are you? Surf on in! Please???

We got married and, being tired of the rock-n-roll floors, etc., we moved to a nice two-bedroom upstairs apartment on Jackson. Noisy there but it was a nice apartment. Kids were supposedly not allowed, so when we found out about Elizilla, we, ulp, found a real estate agent and after months of dreaming in thousands of dollars, we closed the deal on this loverly landfill. The price was $65,000 (can you believe that?) and we put down a third of that so we wouldn’t have to do an escrow account. Note that we had a little help from our parental units to do the down payment. Sigh. I can’t believe how much this house seems to be worth now, although with the real estate slump, it’ll surely drop quite a bit. I don’t care. This is my house. I live here. It is paid off. Yay!!!

Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’ve spent so many years here now. We raised our kids here and they know their way around town and have been known to say (during political type discussions with their dad) things like, “Well, you raised us in Ann Arbor and you sent us to Community High.” Indeed! 🙂

It’s hard sometimes. I have my loverly little landfill here and Fin Family Moominbeach “up north.” I love both places so much. In the last couple years, it’s been hard to be here at the landfill. I needed to be on the beach to the point that I neglected the roots I’ve grown here. I don’t know exactly how to balance it all but I will figure it out. And, omg, I love Berkeley! Love y’all. Kayak Woman.

Dancing in the dark

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

bluetrees.jpgWith the salt truck. As I slide-stepped out into the street, rattly-bang came the salt truck, causing me to chicken-walk over to the grass. (The salt truck is not very light on its feet so, if you decide to dance with it, you have to make sure it doesn’t run you over.) A pirouette onto a side street and rumbly-bump, there it was again. Quick! Scurry-slither up a driveway to the sidewalk. Promenade up the avenue with the the salt truck clunkity-chugging along behind. This little pas de deux went on for about 15 blocks. With a bit of digression by Garbage Woman, who insisted on stopping to pick up a bunch of flattened *unbundled* cardboard boxes that had blown off the top of someone’s recycle bin all over the street.

An interesting morning walk, to say the least. It really is shaping up to be a winter of ice here on the wild, wild western edge of the Planet Ann Arbor. It’s been a few years since we’ve had one of those, so I guess we’re due. Now, the rules state that if there’s a quarter inch or more of ice coating everything — sidewalks, streets, grass/snow — I don’t take my morning walk. But today, the ice was randomly distributed along the streets and sidewalks. Little patches or big sheets of ice or none at all. Here, there, but not quite everywhere. I can handle random ice. It’s a fun little challenge to be constantly figuring out where to take your next step. I didn’t take my little baggie of stealth salt with me this morning. There was no point. With ice [not quite] everywhere, *nobody*, including yours truly, had gotten out to salt their sidewalk yet. I have since salted my sidewalk and those of the elderly neighbors on either side. And then I went over and salted the heck out of the entrance to the schoolyard. It is an impassable mass of ice and frozen mud over there — again. I wasn’t a bit stealthy about it. I didn’t care who saw me. Runners or dogwalkers or schoolchildren. I didn’t care. Actually, I was hoping maybe a few of the school district’s minor suzerains would be on hand. Not. No one was there and I scattered my salt alone in the desolate schoolyard. I suppose if I were a minor school district suzerain, I’d be sitting in front of a delightful fire sipping a hot toddy. Or maybe I’d jet off to Tahiti. I dunno. But it’s gonna be a long, slippery winter here on the Planet Ann Arbor. And that’s okay, because we’re tough around here.

Love, Kayak Woman

P.S. Just now, my iPhone chimed with a text message from Mouse, to let me know that she has safely reached the casamance. I’m not exactly where that is, haven’t managed to look it up yet. Actually, maybe the GG will. But she took a boat there yesterday from Dakar, so obviously it’s in Africa. Where’s it’s hot. And there’s no blasted ice. Love you, Mouse.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

Friday, December 28th, 2007

chicos.jpgAnd truly it is! Ugly, wet, yucky stuff. We started with heavy, wet snow at around one o’clock. By three, it was rain. Or something. When I took my walk this afternoon, the sidewalks were slippery with about a half inch of mottled gray/white slushy stuff. Talk about slow going. I had visions of slipping as I ran across N. Maple in the dark and the oncoming vee-hickles not seeing me and running right over me. Not a pretty thought but I did make it. And it’s okay. I actually love days like this, especially at this time of year. Winter solstice. Michigan. Dark and yucky weather. It has its own beauty.

So, what do you do when the weather outside is frightening. No, you do not make a delightful fire. Well, sometimes you do. But Elizilla and I went to the mall! Yes, the mall! I own about enough items of clothing that can be put together to qualify me as wearing bona fide business casual to work maybe about two days a week. Five days a week? Hmmm. I *hate* to shop! But I had deliriously mumbled something about Chico’s earlier in the week and, even though I don’t think my California girl likes to shop much either, she more or less dragged me out there. And loaded me up with things to try on. And I did and I bought it all!! We walked up to the counter with the goods and I had absolutely no idea how much money I was spending. I didn’t bother to look at the price tags. For all I knew, I was spending $600 or something. NOT in my budget. I almost didn’t care. I liked the clothes. “Moom, that looks good on you!” (Love.) In the end, I got five pieces for something like $135. FIVE! Count ’em. My little lizard had steered me to the *sale racks* (hello, Kayak Woman) and I think everything I bought was pretty deeply discounted. Bling bling!

After that, I felt obligated to strongly encourage her to let me purchase a “fancy” dress for her. She looks gorgeous in it. Turnabout is fair play! 😈

“a woman can do anything if she’s lucky enough not to have morning sickness”

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

snowflakes.jpgBenazir Bhutto, 1953-2007

Benazir Bhutto caught my full attention for the first time in 1988 when she gave birth to her first child while serving as Pakistan’s Prime Minister. I was flabbergasted. How could she manage all of that? I am about seven months younger than Benazir Bhutto and, at that time, I had a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. And a part-time job that could be very intense, as much as I loved it. And a schedule that, as perfect as it was for raising babies without day care, came with its own stress. At that time, the GG and I worked for the same company in the same building. The GG would get up ultra early and work from 6 AM until 2 PM. I would bundle the kids into whatever vee-hickle was left for me to drive that day and head over at 2 and wait in the parking lot until he came out. I’d get out of the driver’s seat and go into the building to work until 7 PM. He’d get into the driver’s seat and drive the kids home. It was a long day but it worked.

I did love my job then and it could be intense. But, honestly, as important as handling and trouble-shooting vee-hickle emissions test data processing is, I think that the duties involved in running a country are probably more important. And a lot more difficult than picking through computer programs finding errors and fixing them or handing them off to the appropriate person with a lucid explanation. And there were days when it was actually more relaxing for me at work than it was at home. I remember one time when I got to work… I forget exactly what was going on but toilet training had been particularly difficult that morning. I walked into my office and headed over to the coffee maker and there was a *puddle* on the floor! I jumped. “What’s this?” I thought, wondering who had peed the floor. I must have looked pretty strung out because Byron (my boss) said, “Just get your coffee and go sit down, Mama.” We both laughed and I did as he said. No country to run…

I can’t really compare myself to Benazir Bhutto, except that we had children at around the same time in our lives, as well as in the late 20th century. I’m sure she had a lot more help with the day-to-day business of raising children than I had. And that’s okay. The fact that a quick google didn’t turn up much information about her children, who are still teenagers, indicated that she thought enough about their upbringing to try to keep them out of the public eye. I hope it stays that way until they have had a chance to get to adulthood.

I am not tuned in to politics enough to know all of the whys and wherefores that returned Benazir to Pakistan when she did. I think she was sincere in her disapproval of what was happening there. Why are there so many suicide bombers everywhere? So many of them are young kids and I think they’re being taken advantage of by people who know how to manipulate their emotional immaturity. I think that Benazir knew well the risks of returning to Pakistan and I am going to bet she had a good idea she would die.

I didn’t have much morning sickness when I was pregnant but I can’t even run my own little landfill, let alone a whole country. I don’t know that everything Benazir did was right or wrong but I think her vision was right on and I so greatly admire her courage.

Rest in peace, Benazir Bhutto.

I hereby decree!

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

The GG will forthwith begin driving The Indefatigable, leaving a… Well… How should I phrase it? A less interesting vee-hickle for Elizilla. He will then park The Indefatigable in it’s rightful position on the street in front of the landfill.

That is all,
The QOFE

fog.jpg

Hey Bro’, where are my annual Christmas dog pictures? Hmm?

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

😉 Oh! And I hear there’s now a big new purple rabbit, too!

Eet’s not a gang, eet’s a club

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

scrider.jpgMerry Christmas, everybody! Well, not *quite* everybody. Yesterday, after a round of email conversation with a couple of Jewish buddies, I found myself going back to check my last message to them to make sure I hadn’t wished a Merry Christmas. Even Happy Holidays would’ve been a little tacky since Hanukkah has already happened this year. On the other hand, one time when I was still hanging around with YAG, we were in the throes of tech week for our December production at the Mendelssohn. I had just managed to park the POC down at the theatre and, as I was getting out, I heard a blast of klezmer music and looked up to see a great big menorah on top of a van passing by my rusty old vee-hickle. “Happy Hanukkah!” the driver yelled out. Then, apparently he peered a little closer at this baggy old Celt because he backpedaled a bit and asked, as if he were afraid he had offended me, “Are you Jewish?” No sir, but I like your spirit and I’m honored to be on the receiving end of a Happy Hanukkah wish. So, when I wish someone, anyone, a Merry Christmas, what I really mean is something like, “May your life be blessed with peace and light and happiness and relative prosperity without too much wretched excess. And all that good stuff.”

We’re off to a slowish start today as our California girl adjusts to this time zone and copes with a monster cold featuring laryngitis and a sore throat. Haven’t opened any gifts yet. Or eaten breakfast. Two text messages came in from Dakar and then I actually managed to make the land line (but not my iPhone) complete a call to Mouse’s cell phone. Not sure what the phone bill will be. And don’t care! Glad I didn’t get rid of the land line? Yeah. Merry Christmas to me!

Believe it or not, there are two of these goofy looking blow-up Santa riders on my evening walking route. I don’t know if they know each other or not. There goes the neighborhood?

At least no one set their alarm clock for three AM this year. And I tend to be really random on Christmas Day, so I just may be back later! Or not.

Oh my god, I seem to have married a MacMullan!

Monday, December 24th, 2007

sallygrandma.jpgMarcia pointed that out today when some very MacMullan-ish behavior* emerged out of both Don AND the GG. Now, Don *is* a MacMullan, so it’s logical for him to exhibit MacMullan-ish behavior, but the GG is NOT! And I am half MacMullan but somehow this particular behavior seems to have skipped me. In fact, quite frankly, it irritates the heck out of me! But the MacMullan folk have many other wonderful qualities and they are The Commander’s family and I love them *anyway*! 🙂

No matter how “done” I think I am with the Christmas holiday, I never seem to be quite done. And so today was a flurry of last minute errands and deliveries. It is a little easier this year since I don’t have two kids at home so I only had to actually buy physical gifts for one. Gifts that get wrapped up and opened, I mean. Mouse has been taken care of in the typical way of handling Christmas gifts for someone spending the solstice holidays in an African country. Clickety-clickety-click. Ka-ching! Took about three minutes.

It is always hard, for me anyway, when there are two (or more) kids, to figure out how to gift equally. I would always meticulously keep track of what I bought and try to make the number of gifts and the total dollar amount come out as close to equal as I possibly could. I would *spreadsheet* this stuff. With fancy little functions that counted up various categories (toys, books, clothing, etc.) and compared them. Then I would sit there on Christmas morning silently panicking that I might have slighted someone. And almost always, it would *seem* as though one daughter received more gifts than the other. I know how silly this is and I realize how many people even in our society of excessive consumerism go without gifts, not to mention food and shelter, on Christmas. I know we are among the fortunate, even with our rusty old vee-hickles and rattle-trap landfill and old tattered shabby-is-the-new-black clothing. It is just part of the whole guilt-related baggage of being Moominmama. I dunno. Maybe someday grandchildren might ease this a bit by removing the focus by a degree? Or will I then just worry about making it equal for each grandchild? But I’m too young for grandchildren.

Speaking of grandmothers, little girls do know what they are good for. You go and get your bottle out of the refrigerator and your grandma will hold you while you drink it. You don’t even have to ask. Just crawl up in her lap. She knows just what to do. Miss you, Sally. And Garth. And Grandroobly.

*MacMullan-ish behavior = getting started on a whole new track of conversation just as you are heading out the door of someone’s house. Or driving out of the driveway. And that reminds me, thinking of driving out of the yard at Houghton Lake with Garth coming toward the vee-hickle with just one more thought on his mind, I’ve known a few Courtois’s who are pretty good at it too.

You’re a mean one, Mrs. Grinch, doo doo doo doo

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

I am drenched. We have rivers instead of streets today. It is windy and rainy and ugly. And I am muddy. Because the Haisley entrance to the schoolyard is an impassable mass of mud. Why doesn’t the city get after the *school district* about *their* sidewalks? The basement floor is flooded — again — and supposedly there is no way to fix it. From now on, the rule is that any newspaper that is in the recycle bin is fair game for starting fires. If it ain’t in there, I ain’t read it yet! Except for the sports section or the classified ads or the auto section. I don’t read those. Do NOT throw out the Saturday Community section until I have read it. I’m just as much of an old gossip as everyone else and I *like* to read about all the incredibly gifted kids and their wonderful accomplishments. Sarcastic? Me? :mrgreen:

Bah Humbug,
Mrs. Grinch

He(She)’s making his(her) list(s) and checking it(them) twice(thrice, nth). Gonna find out….

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

santas.jpgFriday: Visit from Valdemort (love) and an evening at Knight’s with our Birch Point Beach buddies, the Porters.

Saturday: Delivery day for The Commander’s pointsettias. One down (Bubs and Harry). One to go (Don and Marcia weren’t there and we thought their breezeway would be two cold for this luxurious plant). We’re staying in tonight. Which is a *good* thing.

Sunday: Lizard arrives, assuming O’Hare Midway isn’t too socked in for her flight to take off. Courtois party at Jim and Becky’s.

Monday: Nieman party. Bring a white elephant if you want to play the bag game. Don’t get me wrong, the bag game is a riot! But I usually try to retreat to the kitchen during the bag game. Where the whine is. Usually there are a few other retreaters in there too. Where the whine is. 😉

In between all of this is slogging around town shopping. Food. Three, count ’em, three grockery stores today! There was a reason I told the clerk at the Jackson Rd. Meijer, “Seeya tomorrow,” as I left yesterday morning. Because guess what? I *did* see her “tomorrow.” Which would be this morning. And I’ll be back there tomorrow. Unless I decide to visit Arlene at the Westgate Kroger uscan instead. Gifts. Really, we’re done. Almost. Other random stuff that can’t be lived without. After all, both the Westgate Kroger uscan and the Jackson Rd. Meijer will be closed on Christmas, don’tcha know?

Why am I not stressed out? What am I forgetting to do? It’ll be a small, quiet holiday here at the Landfill on the Planet Ann Arbor. Only one daughter will be home. The other one is on study abroad in Africa. Three years ago we had the flip side of this situation when Lizard Breath was off on her study abroad. Which was in Spain but she spent the winter holidays trucking around Europe. Anyway, that makes three of us here for Christmas. So it just isn’t a big deal to get ready for it. So I am not (knock on wood) too stressed out.

This is a little spooky! But I am rambling aimlessly and incoherently today and I better get going about putting some food together for *tonight* or the GG might kill me or something. Not stressed out? Maybe we’ll revisit that in a while. 😉

Happy holidays y’all!

Seven and five-eighths in that kind of pee yellow color

Friday, December 21st, 2007

pointsettia.jpgMy phone rang while I was at the counter at Urban Outfitters. I didn’t answer it. Actually, I get few enough calls on my cell phone (I am soooo popular) that when I do get one, I can get a bit discombobulated about trying to answer it. Especially when I’m already doing something that involves talking. Anyway, the caller was the usual suspect so when I got outside, I called back and he reminded me — for the umpteenth time — that he wants a Stormy Kromer hat for Christmas. Stormy Kromer hat. Stormy Kromer hat. Stormy Kromer hat. Broken record anyone? Size seven and five-eights in, what was that color again? Kind of yellow-brown? My *favorite* color. 🙄 Oh, *not* yellow exactly, you say? More like brown? Okay, last I looked, Stormy Kromer hats come in a whole bunch of different and exciting shades of brown. And there’s a pink one. And a red and black checked one. And a couple different camouflage patterns. But really, if I buy you a Stormy Kromer hat, does that mean I have to appear in public with you wearing it? I dunno. I’m trying to figure out if the GG is trying to emulate *his* dad’s wardrobe or *my* dad’s. Yeah, I know. My wardrobe ain’t nothin’ to write home about either. grok grok. You stoopid ol’ bag! grok grok. *I* want a Stormy Kromer hat. gork grok. Do they hava nice frog green with a li’l bit o’ purple abou’ th’ edges? grok grok Or maybe a nice purple one with a l’il bit o’ frog green abou’ th’ edges. grok grok grok. er maybe ya cud git ’em t’ make me a speshul hat with shiny rainbo m’talic tassels. grok grok grok. Stormy Kromer hat! Stormy Kromer hat! Stormy Kromer hat! grok grok grokGROK!

I ain’t never gonna git acrost this street race track

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

racetrack.jpgAnd when I do get a chance to cross it, I will have to RUN. I think I can count on one hand how many times over the last 20-odd years that I have been able to cross that street without RUNNING. And tonight, after I RAN across the street, I had to galumph through about, I dunno 6-8 inches of old, dirty snow to get to the sidewalk. And, although running is not my chosen form of exercise, I CAN run, pretty dern fast at least for a short distance, even though I will celebrate my golden birthday in 2008.

Oh, heck, I had a whole long diatribe about how some of my neighbors were threatened with TICKETS for not cleaning up the snow cement that the SNOWPLOWS left behind. AFTER they (the neighbors, that is) had already done all the shoveling that they thought they had to do under the byzantine snow removal rules of the Planet Ann Arbor. I picture a small, round, bald, red-faced man standing on a chair yelling at his minions to just “ticket them all!” Yeah, stereotyping again. 😉

But I don’t want to write all of that. Folks, this is MICHIGAN. It’s WINTER! SNOW HAPPENS! We all have to pull together. And sometimes make some personal sacrifices. Small ones, in the grand scheme of things. You planet officials have to lead the way. If we don’t know the letter of the law we can’t follow it. So PUBLISH IT. I know. You have it on your website. That’s great. But I have yet to meet anyone who has said (oh, in about October), “hey, did you check out the rules for snow removal on The Planet Ann Arbor yet?”

Whoever it was who made the phone call that resulted in my neighbors being spuriously ticketed even after they had completely cleaned their sidewalk: We all care about handicapped people and kids and whoever cannot negotiate snow on the wheelchair ramps. I won’t even talk about my dad’s last seven weeks on the Planet Earth when he could only travel *anywhere* via ambulance. 😐 But y’all have to remember that when a Planet like Ann Arbor gets dumped with so much snow that the plows can’t keep up with it, even those of us who are able bodied and healthy cannot necessarily keep up with it either. There are frail elderly neighbors who cannot shovel. And other, younger people with diseases like emphysema that make it impossible for them to even walk down the street. Pease give us all a bit of a break.

Love y’all
Garbage Woman

Now that I have stopped shaking!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

snowpines.jpg“It’s Christmas tiiiiiiime in the city. doo doo-doo-doo doo…” I *was* gonna blahg about the perfectly coiffed Forsythe Middle School mom in the Lincoln Navigator (or whatever that behemoth was) that backed up into my *beloved* dirty old green honda accord as I was walking toward it in the Westgate Kroger parking lot. And then she almost hit it again despite the fact that I was *screaming* at her. And *then* she almost hit ME until I banged on her back window. No damage but kee-reist! I was still shaking when I pulled into my driveway.

But I won’t blahg about that. Except that I guess I already did. But actually I have more interesting news. I am about to embark on, hmm, I think it’ll be about my third career. I have been offered a full time job as a business analyst. With full time pay. At the financial services company where I have been working as a part-time student intern this fall. And I have accepted it. This will necessitate a huge change in my lifestyle. It will be a challenge to adjust to a full time work schedule but I am excited about this unexpected opportunity and I am accustomed to dealing with a very busy life in general and I am adaptable and I will make it work.

I will not be blahgging about the details of my work or my colleagues. I have found competent, friendly people and a cooperative atmosphere and the work would probably just bore most of you to tears, not to mention that it is of a proprietary nature. What probably will be fair game for blahgging will be the challenges of fitting a full time job into my so-called life. Like the struggles of Kayak Woman to obtain a more comprehensive wardrobe of acceptable “business casual” type clothing. Or how (if?) this will change my relationship with the Westgate Kroger uscan. Or whether certain people will call me every afternoon just as I am trying to make the turn on to the Landfill street with a big truck tailgating me just to ask where I am. You know who you are!

So, that’s the latest and there ya have it. Now you can go back and listen to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” umpteen thousand million times as you’re scrambling to do that last minute shopping! ’tis the season! 😈

Blahrrrrambgle

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

xmas-lights.jpg“You already turned in all your stuff! You don’t need to be here!” That was my Illustrator teacher’s cheerful greeting when I arrived at my last class yesterday. And then she proceeded to surmise that I had arrived by snowshoe. Actually, I had slithered over there via the dirty old green honda accord, but it was all fun. I do get invigorated by cold weather and lots of snow, and sometimes I think I tend to exhude an aura of Nanook of the North or Abominable Snowman or whatever, galumph-stomping along in my raggedy old ski jacket and salt-encrusted boots. Over-the-top optimism in conditions where others may want to just retreat to some warm place. And so another semester is over. I have only one class scheduled for next semester: web coding 4, php/Ruby. For those of y’all who are going, “say what?” those are programming languages. Or maybe scripting languages is a more appropriate word? Php and Ruby can be used in various environments but the focus of the class will be on server-side scripting, that is, interacting with user input and server data to dynamically create html web pages. Er, *x*html, considering who the teacher is. 😉 I had considered taking the second Flash class. I LOVE playing around with Flash but that class gets pretty heavily into action-scripting and I know better than to set myself up with two programming classes at once. Especially when one of those classes (Flash) also includes a heavy element of graphic design. Heck, last year I was taking Flash 1 and I went to California during my spring break and I remember dreaming that I had to turn myself into a “movie clip” before I could get up and take a shower. Anyway, the php/Ruby class has the potential to kill me all on its own but if I *do* pass it, I *think* it will allow me to collect an advanced certificate, “Web Application Developer.” I am also one class away from the advanced graphic design certificate but that will have to wait for now.

I am fried and we are off to downtown to eat at Conor O’Neil’s and go to a volunteer party at The Ark. Glarg. The GG is rummaging now, so I guess we better get going.

Courage,
Kayak Woman The Abominable Snowman

Kids, don’t ever ask your stupid old Moom to be the systems administrator for your blog!!!

Monday, December 17th, 2007

me-and-sam.jpgUPDATE: And sometimes when you’re feeling down, you get by with a little help from your friends. In this case, Sam the Archaeologist, who had Mouse’s Nest cached and showing the deleted post (Sneaky White Lies), which I restored (AND LOGGED OUT AGAIN AND I WILL STAY OUT!). Interesting coincidence that Mouse’s post talks about going back in time and kicking oneself. Also, check out Sam’s most recent post for a view of a cool new laptop! (That’s Sam and me in the pic, geeking along in the Yoop last summer, the boyz were in the back.)

Here’s what I originally wrote, really, I am okay! 🙂

I am batting about zero toady today. (I make that typo a *lot*!) Mouse wrote a wonderful blog entry this morning and I managed to DELETE IT! 😥 I created Mouse’s blog and I have login access to it. But I only ever log in to troubleshoot things like overflowing spam comments, etc., that are hard to deal with when you can only get online in African cybercafes. This morning, I tried to make a comment to her latest entry. But it didn’t take. So I logged in to try to figure out why. It just wasn’t there, not even trapped in Akismet. I figured I had forgotten to hit the submit button so I made the comment again. This time, it showed up but it was from “Mouse” — because I was still logged in. As “Mouse.” So I went out there again to try to delete the comment and guess what? I accidentally deleted the *entry*, not the comment! I’m sorry Mouse, I am logged out now. I won’t log back in.

I never really talk about the empty nest syndrome much. The last few years have been interesting. I lost my brother and then my dad and quit my job. Then one daughter graduated from college and moved to California and the other goes to college in Kalamazoo but right now she’s on study abroad for six months in Africa. And I am okay, do not get me wrong. My kids are doing very well and I am proud of them and happy for them. They are *supposed* to grow up and move away. I manage to slog on about as well as I can, after all there are a few perks associated with not having children in the house. But it is a little hard to communicate with someone in Africa and I really look forward to reading Mouse’s blog entries when she gets the chance to make them. So I am TOTALLY TICKED OFF with myself right now!!!!! And it is at moments like these that life catches up with me. I usually move pretty fast so it doesn’t happen that often.

Mouse, I am sorry. I will NOT do that again. I did take the opportunity to make a backup copy of your database. It was probably about time. I love you. I hope you can reconstruct the post.

Okay. I am getting *nothing* done right now. I am going to dry my eyes and go get the laundry and clean the kitchen and slither over to my last class of the semester and whatever else I need to do. Onward.

Good thing we’re not doing set construction tonight

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

snow.jpgWe are home here on The Planet Ann Arbor. There was a so-called winter storm here that dumped a whole bunch of snow. Jane said 10 inches and that must be a bit of a shock for her after her recent two weeks on Bali. (With luck, she’ll let me post some photos on ababsurdo) Anyway, the sun came out at Houghton Lake and we took the Lansing route down and the low winter sun just about killed us but that made the roads okay but it got worse as we neared The Planet Ann Arbor and our dirty old green honda managed to slither down our street but there was NO WAY we could even think about driving it up the driveway until we had shoveled. So we did. We spent about 40 minutes shoveling the driveway and sidewalk. Marcia across the street had snowblown a path through everyone’s sidewalk and that gave us a great start! Thanks, Marcia!

Oh, yesterday’s litte mishap. 🙂 I didn’t skid off the road like it might’ve looked like. I just didn’t back out of the driveway/yard quite right and got stuck in a snowbank that a plow had left whenever. I dunno when. When we got there on Friday, I drove *into* the yard just fine. Yay for front wheel drive!

G’night and love y’all,
And see some of y’all next week
Kayak Ski Woman!

Nobody spent too much time thinking about volcanoes

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

stuck.jpgThat little incident was the handy work of yours truly, Yooper Grrrrl, who has apparently forgotten a few winter driving skills. It’s okay, it only slowed us down a few minutes and then we were on our way to the ski ranch. I don’t have much to say about that but I did take pictures so you can click here or on the picture if you want. There was plenty of snow yesterday and then it started snowing again and this morning I think there was about six new inches. Walking around the point was somewhat challenging. The plow hasn’t been by yet but some big truck or whatever had driven around and left big ruts that were okay where they weren’t drifted over. It’s supposed to snow down south today and I am not looking forward to the drive home. For the moment, the conversation is about the housing market and since Cassandra holds some slightly different opinions about real estate than a lot of people, she is clamping her mouth shut. But when the conversation momentarily veers into garbage collection issues, Garbage Woman gets a little clanked up and can’t keep out of it. 😉 Hopefully the Dirty Old Green Honda Accord will at least make it out of the driveway some time relatively soon. The roads may be bad but the skiing will be good. If you want to take a bath in the lake, you’d better not forget the ice auger and nobody is spending too much time thinking about volcanoes.

Web Sites That Suck #58768

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

garysally.jpgI get an email from Sprint every blasted month reminding me to pay my Mouse’s cell phone bill. It has a link in it to take me out to the web site to pay the bill. For reasons too long and ridiculous to relate here, I can never remember the password. Now, when I go to my on-line banking site and I can’t remember the password, it asks me for the answer to my security question and a couple other things and, voila!, I can reset my password. Of course I don’t usually forget my on-line banking password because I log on to it about every five minutes or so rather than once a month. But you’d think that if National City can set up a secure on-line method for resetting your password, a blasted telephone company could too, right? Not. Sprint’s method is to SEND A TEXT MESSAGE TO THE PHONE! Now, if it were MY PHONE, that might make sense. But it is MOUSE’S PHONE (HELLO!) and she is a college student (HELLO!) who usually doesn’t live at home. And right now, SHE IS IN AFRICA!! (HELLO!!!!) And for reasons that I’m not quite sure of, her cell phone is over there with her but it is DEAD because she CAN’T PLUG IT IN TO CHARGE IT OVER THERE. Why? Because it is AFRICA! So what the heck good does it do for Sprint to send a text message to a dead phone over in Africa? Hmmmmmm? All I am doing is trying to PAY THE BILL, fer kee-reist! For the life of me, I understand about security issues, but I cannot fathom what kind of business reason Sprint could possibly have for making it so excruciatingly difficult for its customers to pay their bill. So now, the GG has been on the phone with Sprint for the better part of a half hour* and the issue apparently STILL hasn’t been resolved. So. Do you guys want your money or not? Hmmmmm? Grrrrrrr.

*Mouse’s cell phone is technically in the GG’s name (don’t ask) *and* he is a *lot* calmer than I am when it comes to arguing with stoopid customer service personnel that have to follow a bunch of stoopid, ill-conceived, byzantine company policies.

Rabbits and Deer and Geezers and Skis

Friday, December 14th, 2007

bestchoice.jpgVery quiet up here at the Courtois Group Home at Houghton Lake. When I took my walk this afternoon, whatever weather my iPhone hooks up to said it was 18 degrees at Houghton Lake. I think it’s a good 10 degrees colder here on the point. My legs were pretty cold at the end of my walk. A snowmobile went by on the lake a while ago but I’m not sure I saw any vee-hick-ular traffic on the road at all. Maybe one car. Two rabbits and several deer lingered on one empty lot and we all stood stock still for a few minutes to watch each other, until the crunching of my feet on the icy road spooked them. A couple of old geezers were out enjoying the silence and, yes, I flirted back. I love to make small talk with cheerful old geezers. Women my age are supposed to be invisible but somehow I’m not. At least not to the old geezers. Like Grandroobly used to be.

We were iffy about coming up here this weekend. It’s really close to xmas and I feel like I have a million things to do. What else is new, roight? But my classes are finished. Well, almost. My last Illustrator class is Monday but there’s nothing due and the teacher says it’s just a fun class. Her classes are always fun but I’ll be there anyway! But there’s *snow* up here. There’s enough snow to cross-country ski! Last year, we didn’t get to ski until the end of January! And the UU is coming up here too. Another person! The GG and I won’t strangle each other!

The text message came from California. It asked for the recipe for pita chips. I emailed it. But here it is, for posterity. It isn’t actually so much a recipe as a plan. All you need is pita bread, olive oil (spray), and salt. And maybe a couple other things on the side. You’ll see, if you read. Be creative:

  1. Split the pita bread in half and cut it into triangles or whatever. Not all pita bread is equal. Some of it splits apart better than others. Be patient and if the first brand you try doesn’t split easily, try another kind. When you find one that generally works well, stick with it. BTW: kitchen shears work well for cutting up pita bread.
  2. Brush your pita triangles with olive oil. A pastry brush works well here. Oh, or spray olive oil!! How could I forget?
  3. Bake them on a cookie sheet. In my oven at The Landfill, I bake them at 350 for approximately 10 minutes. This can be a trick. These are thin little pieces of bread and they can cook quickly all-of-a-sudden and I have been known to burn them. Heck, I’ve been known to sit there playing with my computer totally ignoring the oven timer buzzer. Don’t do what I do. Figger out your own oven and be attentive!
  4. Line a bowl or whatever with paper towel(s) (two layers works well) and put the baked pita chips on the paper towels.
  5. Salt them lightly (if you want) while they are still warm. You could also sprinkle a little pepper or garlic powder on them or… I dunno. This is where you can experiment and be creative.
  6. Serve with hummus and/or baba ganouj. Other dips/spreads work too. If you don’t have a favorite recipe that you can make with your eyes shut while listening to a Sousa march on NPR, just buy this stuff! Actually, the feta spread from Best Choice (the wonderful deli/market in the picture — at Houghton Lake!) would be really good with pita chips!

Have fun and don’t obsess about the perfect pita chip! 🙂

Oh, now Kathy and Doug are on their way up too! Fun!

Have a great weekend!
Kayak Ski Woman!