Archive for January, 2008

He’s an engineer. Said with a hard “g”, as in gah.

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

engineers.jpgI said that in response to an email today. It was the latest in a series of emails from Mouse dealing with the complications of returning home from a study abroad in Africa. This one was not about the housing snag, which we are working on and that’s all I’m gonna say. Well, except that she won’t be living in a cardboard box. I hope. 😉 This email was about a flight snag and she had forwarded several messages about it and this particular one included a long, unfathomable discussion of the whole problem from a person who identified himself as an engineer of some sort. Mouse suggested that maybe he needed a course in writing from Judith Dewoskin, a legendary Commie High English teacher. I agreed but sheesh, an engineer? I understood.

My brother the engineer and I once had a rather legendary discussion about how to approach problems. He maintained that life was a story problem. I HATED story problems when I was a kid and I countered that life was all about patterns. Patterns, I can understand. It was Sunday morning and we were at Fin Family Moominbeach and NPR was on. At that moment, that puzzle program with Will Shorts came on. I couldn’t quote you the algorithm for the puzzle that day but when he said, “Norman Mailer” and “carpenter in Utah” I spouted out “Mormon Nailer” in very short order. The Old Boy asked, “Hey, how did you get that so fast?” Of course, my smug reply was, “Patterns!” Actually, I think I was coming out of the bathroom when I said that.

My bro’ was actually a wonderful writer. He was a mechanical engineer but he was also a jazz trombonist. A mix of skills. And my cousin Jay is a civil engineer (think toilets) and also a wonderful writer. She is female (married, two children) but doesn’t refer to herself as a “lady engineer” like Susan, a friend of mine from high school, used to do. She worked for GM and I’ll bet it was hard in those days to make people take you seriously as a female mechanical engineer at GM.

To me, the housing situation is more critical than flights home. There are always flights. The flights’ll get worked out and I bet it’ll happen without any intervention from me. I think the best policy is to wait a bit on that. Engineer Boy or someone else will figger it out. The housing situation will get worked out too. We’re not waiting as much on that.

Mouse flew to Senegal out of Chicago O’Hare. It was a long day going over there and back from The Planet. We dithered and dathered all summer. Metro would’ve been so easy and that’s where Lizard flew out of when she went to Spain. Mouse originally kind of wanted to take the train over to Chicago a day or two before her flight and stay with a friend. And then there was talk of arranging for a flight from Metro to O’Hare. In the end, I was glad we drove her over there and not just because of the whole ipod fiasco. It was more than that and I don’t have time to translate my thoughts into words right now. But I also want to be there to scoop up my little Mouse off the plane home from Senegal. Day-twa or Chicago. I don’t care. Squeak squeak. I want to be there too. And so does Froggy. grok grok

And yes, I have totally lost my focus here and there is no conclusion to the whole engineer thing. It’s my blahg and I can write what I want to, write what I want to, wriiiite what I waaaant to. You would write too, doo da doo da doo. Stream of consciousness anyone?

Goose hunting pajamas

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

gunfighters.jpgWay back when, Grandroobly once drove his dad’s vee-hickle to Canada and back with a rifle sitting up there in the back window, right in plain sight. He had no idea it was there and didn’t look. He went through customs on both sides without any problems despite being asked, “do you have any firearms?” They used to ask that all the time but I haven’t personally been asked about firearms in a long time. Anyway, he said, “no.” And then, after he had cleared customs on both sides, he looked in the rear view mirror and there was his dad’s rifle sitting in the back window. I’m not sure when this exactly happened. I am thinking it was back in the day when we still had to take the ferry to Canada.

It’s Jim Sherman and Grandroobly in the picture. They were friends and of course, they were just playing around. I don’t really remember my dad shooting guns much as I was growing up. He was not a hunter. He was a very busy banker for as long as I can remember. I knew he could shoot a gun. His dad, my Grandberry, was certainly proficient with a gun and he taught his sons, I think. That’s the way things used to be.

Many years later, after Grandroobly was retired from banking, he woke up very early one morning and there were a bunch of geese out in front of the cabin, on Fin Family Moominbeach. Grandroobly got up and after a couple of trips down to the beach and back, he grabbed a gun and decided to go and shoot a goose. When he got back down to the beach, he realized that he was still wearing his pajamas and then he started thinking about some of the, well, anti-gun women around there in the Birch Point Bay area (they were friends of ours) and he decided maybe he wouldn’t try shooting a goose after all. And, really, he was the last person on earth who would ever want to kill another living being. Especially while wearing pajamas. Miss you, old coot!

And I don’t even *own* a pair of railroad pajamas.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

moom.jpgOkay. Steady as she goes…

Umpteen million years ago when Lizard Breath referred to birds as “duck”, dogs as “woof”, and crocodiles as something like “khoup” accompanied by a hand motion imitating big jaws clamping shut, we went to Florida. Grandpa Garth and Grandma Sally had just sold their house in Royal Oak and they headed down to take up permanent residence in their Florida condo. Er, except for summers when they stayed in the cabin at Houghton Lake. Anyway, the three of us (no Mouse yet) plus a certain beloved Aunt Suzie of beautiful red hair packed into our then-new VW Jetta and followed them down. And even ran into them a few times during the trip. I don’t mean we crashed cars, just met them for breakfast or whatever. Yeah, I know you knew that.

One day while we were down there, it was raining cats and dogs, er, woofs and meows. I was in an absolutely horrible mood. Totally down in the dumps. No logical reason for it, yet nothing could shake it. We were walking around at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Really, it was a beautiful day. A nice soft, warm rain. Just the kind of day I normally like. And the Jungle Gardens is a beautiful place. Birds and aminals everywhere but uncrowded, without the ultra charged up carnival atmosphere of Disney World, et al. There was this biorhythm machine. One of those gimmicky things where you put in your quarter (or two or whatever) and tell it your birthdate and it gives you a printout of your “cycles” for some period of time, including the current day. Physical, intellectual, and emotional cycles or some such rot. I am a pretty extreme skeptic about stuff like that and I was not enthused about spending 50 cents or whatever to get some computer’s idea about my blasted biorhythms or whatever. But I was talked into it. Lo and behold! All three of my biorhythm cycles were at rock bottom zero for that date! Who knew? I still don’t believe in stuff like that but somehow the total ridiculousness of the whole thing started my mood spiraling back upward. Slowly, if I remember right. But surely. Or maybe it was just that my blasted biorhythms were all starting to head back upward.

I’m flowing a bit better today. It was touch and go for a while. I was so angry that I couldn’t think! And it was a long day with a full day of work and then straight to class tonight. A call from California this afternoon was the turning point. I’m still angry but I have managed to stuff my anger into a compartment, which is where it should be by now, so I can actively (and hopefully calmly) try to contribute to a solution.

Credit to Judith Viorst for one of my favorite children’s books (but not necessarily one of my kids’ favorites ;-)) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Credit to Elizilla for the picture. An ugly but somehow I like it. I guess I yam who I yam. Actually, on a second glance, I look a bit like Grandroobly there. Usually I look more like a MacMu in pics. It’s still an ugly and I still don’t care.

Oh yeah, re the north/south weather type convo in yesterday’s comments. Webmomster, if ya want a TRUE NORTHERN lifestyle, check out the Nunavut bloggers for FAR NORTHERN life. This is a sort of conglomerate blog but if you scroll down for a while, links to individual blogs are on the right sidebar. I am absolutely fascinated by this kind of lifestyle and the amazing people who have made the Arctic their home. Could I do it? Hmmm. I bet I’d have a great time for about three weeks. In the end, the kicker would probably be the iffy water supply. I’m a Great Lakes Gal and I love my showers!

Kayak Woman, whose [blasted] biorhythms are apparently on the upswing!!!

Blue skies and silver linings?

Monday, January 28th, 2008

blueskies.jpgSorry but I am just p#$%ed off today. About people who let their greed and personal issues allow them to forget that other people might be hurt by their actions and lack of thought for others.

Shoot. Life is always up and down and the trick is to flow with it. Today I am not flowing very well. I am just, well, you know, I said it above, upset with a few people. People that I do not know, not my relatives, friends, or co-workers. Or anyone involved with anywhere up in the Yoop. I was upset. But then, a couple of links came in from my cousin Mac, one o’ those boy cousins of the snake bites, that made me look up and think about some blue skies. I already sorta knew about rights to the beaches on the great lakes. What I wasn’t clear about was some of the riparian rights. We definitely have land on a navigable river so I think the right to walk the beach applies to us. I think I will print copies of that article and hand them out to everyone who wants to walk our beach. Especially our teenagers, who, I think, because of their association with our beach, tend to be less inclined toward delinquency than maybe some other teenagers are. Those who don’t have one o’ them thar villages to bring them up that the public schools seem to always keep shoving down our throats.

Thanks, Mac. Those links made my day. Mañana to everyone. It is raining pretty hard here. I love rain. I love snow too. But I am getting sick of dressing for it, shoveling it, and driving in it this winter. I will still never move south! Kee-reist, may life be better tomorrow.

“i missed out on so much, not being born yet.”

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

painting.jpgMe? I’m totally lethargic today. I had a whole list of chores to do and have I done any of them? Well, maybe about 25%, I guess. I didn’t vacuum. I *really* need to vacuum. At least the carpet in the front of the house. I don’t think I am ever going to vacuum the carpet in the back room again. Ever. That’s right. Because in a matter of weeks, there will probably be brand new carpet back there at long last. *That* I will vacuum. Occasionally. Not nearly as often as I should. I do hate to vacuum. I did clean out the microwave. It needed it. I can’t think how long it’s been. I did not do my homework. It’s okay. I’m not taking the class for credit. Good call, Kayak Woman. Somehow I knew I would be too mentally tired to spend my every non-working hour doing homework. Actually, I began the homework. I like to code and I usually jump at any opportunity to write code. But right off the bat, I got hung up trying to make some simple CSS positioning work the way I wanted it to. I just could not force my brain think it through and my fingers were not very cooperative either. Uncharacteristically so. But I have been spending so much time on a Windows machine lately that about two out of every three times I went to save my file, I would hit <fn><s> instead of <cmd><s> and then when I refreshed the browser, nothing happened. Of course. Because it was still interpreting the old, unchanged file. So I would flip back to TextWrangler and save the file and then refresh the browser again and depending on where I had managed to insert the wayward “s”, there would either be an “s” sitting out there in some weird place or I would have an even worse looking page because the “s” rendered some important piece of code useless. So I gave up and drug the GG out for a river ride.

Anyway, I was thinking about Lizard Breath’s comment from my old cabin post a couple days ago (see title). I remember very well being in the skin of that kid with the ugly glasses (I *hated* glasses) and sometimes I am amazed that I ever even *had* children. I mean, I was more interested at that age in running and jumping around like a mad person, swimming in virtually every kind of “summer” weather that old Gitchee Gumee could throw at us. Snowflakes on Labor Day weekend? Just lemme go get my bathing suit on. And I was, well, not a particularly nice person! Nosiree. I remember The Commander dragging me down to my friend Kathie’s cabin one time expressly to apologize for giving her a snake bite. I went through the motions of the apology but I didn’t really understand why it was such a horrible crime. I mean, I learned it from my older boy cuzzints. It hurt but it didn’t hurt *that* much. I thought she was just being a crybaby. And then there was a time that Pooh, through indignant tears, declared, “Well I *hope* you can be more *ladylike* at the 50th!” We were playing around in this brush pile that was around for a few years and had a couple of sort of room-like structures in it. (In much later years, the always observant Grandroobly advised me not to go back around there because, “That’s where Sam goes to crap.” He meant dog, not archaeologist, of course.) I can’t remember the argument at all. I just know that I got off the track somehow and wouldn’t quit. I’m sorry, Pooh! Although you have to know that Pooh has gotten me back for that many times over by being umpteen million times smarter than me and stealing whatever book I happened to be reading, FINISHING it, and returning it before I even noticed it was gone. The old biblioklept!

Anyway, I managed to survive to adulthood and through my twenties (and we won’t even talk about that era, okay?) and I had some kids! Two of them, as you can see. When I was pregnant with my first one, I can remember various people reacting in horror! *You* are having children?!? My own mother even expressed some reservations but not exactly to my face. She admitted that she had wondered aloud about my mothering capabilities to my doctor-uncle Don and he replied with something like, “You would be amazed at how well some of these young moms do.” In truth, as I have said before, I often wonder how the heck my girls grew up so gracefully with me for a mother. Maybe they could sense that I was, well, not very good at this parenting thing and just did an end run (or whatever you call it) around me.

Kids. Don’t worry too much about missing out. We all miss out on one thing or another by virtue of being born in one decade or century or another. You may have missed out on the community dinners. We have those, after a fashion, still. They’re just different now. You guys grew up with actual hot, running water. Not the kind of running water that Grandroobly remembers which was, “you grabbed a bucket, ran down to the lake, filled up the bucket, and ran back up.” And flushy toilets. Sheesh. I had to go out there and pee with werewolves and vampires and luna moths and whatever. And there was no damn door on our outhouse! And we have internet on the beach!!! When I was a teenager, the only way I could communicate with my crappy boyfriend in town was to go next door and ask to use my doctor-uncle’s phone. And that’ll be a whole ‘nother blahg entry someday.

If I could change anything, it would be to not have developers encroaching at the other end of the beach. Every time I even think about that, I feel like I’ve been punched. I still think it could’ve been stopped. I didn’t have the knowledge. Or the power. Or the money. Or the chutzpah. Or the stamina. I will go to my grave feeling infinitely sad about that. Sigh.

Bagels with peanut butter and some o’ that japaleno cream cheese

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

bagsnagger.jpgOne of the down sides about working full time is that I no longer have time to be “home alone”. I am only home hanging around during the day on the weekend now — that is, the weekends when I am *home* — and then I seem to have to share my house with, well, other people. People who often just kind of hoover around, not necessarily doing anything constructive. Cracking pistachio nuts. Turning the heat up to 90. Yes, really. 90. Just to get my goat. (When will she notice? Real fast, old buddy.) Playing all kinds of oddball music. ASKING ME WHAT I AM DOING!!!! Horsing around with the taxes. How much money did I make last year? Not much! (And you know it, so why can’t you just wait for the W2s so I don’t have to think/talk about it.) And talking about retirement accounts. My FAVORITE subject! I have to be perfectly fair here. The GG would probably not be discussing retirement accounts except that his ugly brother is also here hanging around. It is the weekend of the Planet Ann Arbor Folk Festival and the twinz of terror have front row seats. Along with Bill and Anne and Don and Bridget and Rich (?) and I can’t remember any more names right now. And so they are here h-a-n-g-i-n-g around, turning up the heat, playing weird music, cracking pistachio nuts, and talking about taxes and retirement accounts. And occasionally crashing out for a nap, thank the gods.

The fact that I do NOT like to talk about retirement accounts does not mean that I think retirement accounts are a bad thing. It just brings back some, well, interesting memories. I swear, my beloved father-in-law, may he rest in peace, should have gotten into the infomercial business. We’d go up to Houghton Lake for a weekend and there would be a sort of “topic” of the weekend. Like how to grow grass. Or fixing rickety, decrepit old lawnmowers. I can’t even begin to convey the number of boat/dock/hoist-related topics. The rule of 72s or 78s or whatever. Viaticals. (Remember those?) “Every housewife should know” stuff, usually about lucky-shucky. Retirement planning was probably about the most frequent topic.

The Gumper had the best of intentions. I know he worried about all of us kids and our sometimes rather wayward financial habits. He didn’t want us to end up being paupers. Heck, *I* don’t want us to end up being paupers either! Oh wait! I thought I was already a pauper! Anyway, I’m sure he thought we should be putting more money away for our dotage and he was probably right. And I knew that. Which is probably why it drove me so crazy when the subject turned to, “well, what kind of retirement plan do you have?” etc., etc., ad nauseam.

One of my favorite memories is from a summer day when the beach urchins and I stopped by the Houghton Lake cabin to visit Gumper and Sally Grandma. They were about five and seven (I mean the beach urchins, not the grandparents) and we were on our way up to Fin Family Moominbeach with my old red minivan just jammed with stuff. Clothes and books and art supplies and about a gazillion stuffed aminals. And a special delivery for Gumper that included an old rusty rake, a couple of shoe boxes, and some empty film canisters. We got to Houghton Lake and we were sitting at the kitchen table with the grandparents having a nice conversation. Until *somehow* the conversation veered dangerously into the dreaded territory of “what kind of retirement account do you have?” It was my fault. I forget what I had said but I somehow managed to start it. Lizard Breath — at *seven* — was right on it. She grabbed me and stage-whispered into my ear, “Mom! Change the talk!” Um, stop a runaway train? Hmmm. Somehow, I managed a subject change. Except that, to my astonishment, the grandparents jumped up and started emptying the refrigerator! “Here, take this [2/3rds rotten] cucumber! And how about this [slimy] green pepper!” And so on. Yawk!

It was okay. In the end it was a pretty even exchange, a rusty old rake, shoe boxes, and empty film canisters for a few rotten vegetables. I took the vegetables up to Fin Family Moominbeach and dumped them onto my uncle Don’s compost heap. Just another day in the life of Garbage Woman.

Don’t get me wrong! I miss Sally and Garth. They were wonderful parents-in-law and I always enjoyed spending time with them, especially at Houghton Lake. I know that all that retirement stuff just meant that they cared about us. And I LOVED the “every housewife should know” stuff. I wish I had that on video!

I dunno. Will we have enough money to retire on? I’m sure we could have and should have started earlier and saved more. But, on the other hand, I am nowhere near ready to retire yet. And I am *not* looking to go off and buy a condo in some hot, humid climate. The only non-vee-hickular air conditioner I ever want to deal with is that great big lake up there north of the Yoop. So we’ll see.

“I think it may be time to post that picture of (almost) all the cousins having lunch in the old cabin.”

Friday, January 25th, 2008

feeding.jpgSo wrote Not Plain Jane of Bali fame in an email today and I think she’s right. The well has been pretty darn dry this week anyway. So here’s one for my youngest, cutest cuzzint. Actually, it could be that my MacMu cuzzint Doug is a tad younger, I’m not sure off-hand which month he was born in. He’s a great guy and good-looking but NP Jane is cuter.

We all look pretty awful here, except for those who are lucky enough to be behind someone or otherwise MIA. Or NP Jane, who is as cute as ever. On the left we start with Uber Kayak Woman, then yours truly (kee-ute, eh?), The Ol’ Boy with his mouth full, Jay with her mouth open, NP Jane as big as life (!!!), Pooh figuring out various mathematical algorithms, The Commander is totally blocking Suzie (spelling?) I think, then a bit of Sandy, and Mac (don’t take that picture?). I think The Grinch was prob’ly sitting on the end there, maybe he went to the outhouse. Jan is also missing but I’m sure she’s not at the outhouse. She was off living her adult life far away from the rest of us riff-raff.

That particular version of the Old Cabin kitchen is long gone now but not forgotten. This looks like a “community dinner,” and those happened when everybody was hanging out on the beach until the end of time and some of the Fin Family Moominbeach G2 gals (our mooms) had probably had a beer lunch. Beeeeer is goooood for you. Uh-oh, it’s getting to be dinner time. They would each figure out what was in their respective refrigimatators and throw together a feast. Well, except that we seem to be eating steak in that pic. That *might* have taken a bit more planning. Or maybe not? Possibly just a quick little ride up to the J&K Market (Aunt Jane’s, What a Pickle) on Six Mile. Who knows. And is UKW chomping down on some corn on the cob? I can’t quite tell. If so, it means that Grandberry (*my* grandad, not Grandroobly) probably stopped and bought a bushel straight off the farm somewhere.

Love y’all. Miss the good old days. Or most of them, anyway.

quick iPhone update

Friday, January 25th, 2008

snow and tornados in LA??? Elizilla?

Hmmm, interesting that iPhone posts seem to put themselves into the category “mouse”.

Just don’t delete the autoexec.bat file.

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

autoexec.jpgHoping that this doesn’t violate my own self-imposed rules about blahgging about one’s job, my work environment involves a mix of old and new technology. I am not directly involved in the old stuff. They have plenty of talented people handling that end of things and it’s not my job. But I can actually understand, to a point, what people are talking about. And it does bring back memories.

Like the big old Data 100 printer we had back where I started my illustrious (or not) computer career. I’m not very well versed in printer technology but this thing was about the size of a stove and there was a ribbon and a print-head (?) that actually printed characters onto the paper through the ribbon. It was noisy. If the door to the computer room was open, and it usually was the first few years I was there, you could tell by the sounds the printer was making exactly whose printout was printing. Various mainframes and a mini (the bane of my existence) and I have some crap from the innards of the mini above my fireplace now.

Much, much, MUCH later on, I had a desktop computer there that was what we used to call “IBM-compatible”. All that meant was that it wasn’t a Macintosh. We used DOS back in those days on our PCs. About six months before I left that career, we switched over to Windows. Danielle made the switch gracefully and made quilt-looking desktop backgrounds and the whole works. I was too busy to breathe and just made do with a blue (or whatever) desktop. I could blahg more about Danielle, one of the few people I have ever been able to actually DELEGATE WORK TO and KNOW THAT IT WOULD GET DONE! But I won’t. Wherever you are, Danielle, you go girl! I loved sharing a cube with Danielle.

Once I did actually delete the autoexec.bat file on my not-quite-Windows-yet machine. With some trepidation, I reported it to my boss. No, I was not afraid of my boss. We were friends and I won’t blahg about that relationship (don’t take that in the wrong direction) until one or the other of us is dead. But I knew he would absolutely razz me up and down, sideways ’round when I told him I’d made a catastrophic mistake. “ALICE!!” he’d yell. No, that isn’t my name. It’s okay. Anyway, he just called our network friend (another Anne, a Chinese counterpart) and she got me back in there in short order and was nice and friendly about it too.

I didn’t think I missed those days but sometimes I do. But onward!

Blueberry Eyes, Summer 1987

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

bathkids.jpgToday was a perfectly good day but there’s not much to say except that my little mini-commute home took forever because it was snowing so I took the “back” roads and got hung up at several stoplights for more than one cycle. Fun city and somehow I actually enjoyed the commute. I’m sure there’ll be days when I don’t. I got home and something made me remember back in the day, when I had my other, original corporate-type computer job. I came home one afternoon evening (!) and I was informed that Mouse had gotten her neck stuck in between some swing-set parts. She was about 18 months old. The GG managed to catch her before she was strangled or decapitated or whatever and he HELD THE SWING SEAT APART FOR I FORGET HOW LONG until Burke came home and into his back yard, so that the GG could yell something like, “Hey Chris, can you give me a hand here?” Burke came over in a jiffy and the GG and Mouse were free. Honestly, it took a while for it to hit me how horribly awful the situation could have turned out if the GG hadn’t been paying attention. Miss you Burke!!!

Kids, I hope you don’t mind me posting this pic. It’s from when Mouse was “just” the much-loved newborn baby. Lizard Breath was a master at wielding a washcloth and I’m sure she was helping to wash her baby sis in this pic. “Mama, DON’T take my sister back to the hospital!!!” Even though all we were doing was birth certificate paperwork there at the time.

Girls, this post is for you. I love you kiddos. Life ain’t always easy but blue skies and silver linings do exist. <3 <3 Moom. Not to be sappy or anything.

Titanium iridescent crepuscular bathyspheric algorithms

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

purplehaze.jpgGiraffes ambled ridiculously tiptoeing galumphingly toward whales, eventually tumbling mournfully among the theremins. Whenever anthills level kangaroos outside inhaling formaldehyde anenomes, sunshine imminently emanates umbrellas. Jamberry accumulates kitchens, manipulating garrulous octopi, thinking deliriously terrifical wandering homonyms. Fenicular somnambulist nematodes almost ruminated through yardarms speculating ominously careering tornadic iphones hovering everlastingly beyond rhombic lambeosaurs ingrown telnets. antidisestablishmentarism is aleatory! Tesseracts alliterate nanoseconds liberating galleons righteously. Noblemen and insectivores anthropomorphize analog revolutions triangulating semiphores and crustaceans. Certain trilobytes and histogramic reneging sussurational biblioklepts ambivilate munificently as lagomorphs oscillate tenuously tomorrow.

Meet me in Moosonee. Don’t forget your balaclava. Or your snowpants. Or your airplane.

Monday, January 21st, 2008

portage.jpgI was so tired when I got home today. I knew that learning a new job would make me tired at times but this afternoon, it snuck up on me. I was energized all weekend and I was energized driving up to the Yoop yesterday and I even walked around town through the snow and I still felt pretty energized. And I was energized enough to get up at 6:30 or whatever this morning and walk around town again. In the dark in my balaclava and snowpants. Driving back down from the Yoop was a mini-repeat of yesterday. Meaning that there was lake effect snow in the same places but much, much less. I let the GG start driving and worked on my unfinished prodject until West Branch, then I took over. I dunno. I promise I was not drinkin’ or anything but I was getting sleepy this afternoon. I don’t usually do that when I’m driving. I finally finished the rest of the GG’s coffee and that helped.

And then, when we got home, I sat myself down with my computer and started to get settled in. First there was a whole bunch of rummaging going on in MY KITCHEN! I refrained from asking. Until the clunking and clanking and banging around began. WHAT ARE YOU DOING??!!?? Defrosting the refrigerator was the answer. I thought this refrigimatator was frost-free! Why do we have to defrost it? This was *not* a project I wanted to get involved in. My first refrigerator of my “adult” life was here on the Planet Ann Arbor when I moved into The Marquis’s old apartment on Seventh St. That refrigerator had a freezer with these little home-made wooden doors that closed in the middle with a hook. Our next apartment was a wee bit more upscale and I think that refrigerator even had those little slots for individual eggs, but maybe I’m not remembering. Then we moved to the Landfill. Our own house. A real house. With an ancient refrigerator. And stove. I still have the stove. I LOVE the stove. I do NOT want one of those stoves with digital controls. Like The Commander has. Or the one at Houghton Lake. But the refrigerator was a different story. Once, I was convinced that there was a wounded seagull inside it. Frequently, I would have to mop up an entire inch of water from underneath the bottom crisper. That’s a lot of water and I have no idea how it got there. It didn’t spill out of anything. The winter of 1997 was the worst. The refrigerator was 31 years old by that time and I had just about had it. It seemed like every time I came home in the evening, the GG had the blasted refrigerator pulled out into the middle of the kitchen to work on it. It’s not a huge kitchen and I couldn’t even walk around it. I think we were finally just about ready to bite the bullet and buy a new one when the ice storm hit. It was a HUGE ice storm. Trees were down everywhere. Lost of people lost power. We didn’t lose power initially but a power surge that occurred two days after the storm took down a couple of computers here and a printer* and THE REFRIGERATOR!!! Guess what? Our homeowner’s insurance paid for a new one. Sometimes lame procrastinating penny pinchers like us win one. So, new refrigerator 11 years ago (yes, it was 11). Will it last as long as the crappy old one? How long are refrigerators supposed to last? I dunno. Heck, I guess it’s already lasted around a third of the time the old one did. Why do I still call the blasted thing new? I do know that I had to go out while the defrost operation was taking place today. That whole deal was not in my plan for the afternoon and I just couldn’t deal with the chaos. So I left and went to the grokkery store and then took a walk.

I am really happy that MLK Day gave both the GG and I a paid holiday from work because that enabled us to more easily transport The Commander from the Yoop to the Planet and back. But I have to wonder if this holiday from work really has anything to do with Dr. King’s vision. Lots of people are getting a holiday from work for this and I’m not sure Dr. King’s dream included anything about rednecks from southern Michigan hooking up their sno-mo trailers to their twuks and heading up the I75 SUV Speedway for a nice long party weekend. Er, and occasionally going *off* the I75 SUV Speedway because of, um, maybe overestimating the vee-hickle’s capabilities and, um driving a bit too fast. Sorry you guys. My bro’ was a snomo guy and he owned twuks and I loved riding with him and I miss those old twuks (but not the sno-mos) and I love y’all. But I’m just sayin’.

So, as we were dropping down through the Eastern Yoop this morning, a Moosonee weather report came on. I’ve never heard a weather report for Moosonee before. Moosonee is not accessible via road. Who the heck would want to plow that length of road at this time of year. You can take a train there or fly out of Timmins.

*Yes, we had a surge protector in place. It did not work. Beware.

Just don’t let your car keys out of your sight!

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

yeti.jpgI am not crazy about driving in snow. It doesn’t much bother me around town at relatively slow speeds. I just hate when I’m on the freeway and I’m not quite sure what the road surface is actually like and everybody else seems to want to go a different speed than me. Either they tailgate like crazy and then zoom around me in the snow-covered left lane. I am always happy when I see one of those in the ditch a few miles up the road. And then there are the little old ladies or whoever who are *slower* than me and I have to pass them. We won’t even talk about the oil tankers.

When we left the Planet Ann Arbor this morning, it was snowing. It was also really cold and I think for that reason, not very slippery around town. The freeway didn’t *seem* that slippery either but it was hard to tell. There was only one lane that wasn’t totally snow-covered and I was thinking, “if I have to drive in this the whole 350 miles, I am going to be tired at the end of it.” Luck was with me though, at least for a while, and somewhere south of the Linden/Grand Blanc area, the sun came out and we had a cloudless sky and a DRY HIGHWAY all the way to the Grayling rest area. I was able to drive about 80 except in the West Branch area where the state cops hang out, so we made fantastic time. Then we stopped at the Grayling rest area and, as soon as we got back on the freeway, the threatened lake effect snow materialized big-time and the roads deteriorated quite precipitously. Stopped again at Gaylord to get gas and coffee and it was an absolute zoo there. The GG asked if I wanted him to take over the driving. I dithered a bit. Was I more nervous driving or riding? Finally I decided to let him drive and I stuffed myself into the back seat with Froggy. Miraculously, around about the Injun River area, the sun came out again and we had beautiful sunshine and dry pavement *again* all the way to Rudyard. Where it *again* deteriorated into snow-covered and slippery (?) roads. Fortunately, we were almost here by then.

It has been a wild weekend. The GG drove up here on Thursday night to attend a North Country Trail board meeting and pick up The Commander for a trip to the planet. They drove down on Friday. Saturday was spent in Royal Oak going to Jerry’s funeral, partying with the MacMullan clan, getting a tour of all the GG’s old haunts, and shopping at Trader Joe’s. Back up to Siberia today and home to the planet tomorrow.

That is all. Click here or on the pic for life in the Great White North.

Boomerang Woman, aka The Abominable Snowwoman.

And now for a Franhattan. Hope she doesn’t make ’em backwards again. 😈


Saturday, January 19th, 2008


The three remaining MacMullans (out of five): The Commander (number three), “Old Man MacMullan” (Don, number five and he calls himself that, I’m just quoting him), and Roberta (number one). Missing are Ralph (number two, of highway sign fame) and Charlotte (number four and they’re sitting on her piano bench). I was actually too tired last night to write that. Or anything else.

Coming Clean

Friday, January 18th, 2008

comicme.jpg“Well. I really like what you’ve been doing to your house.” So said The Commander, who is down here via the GG and Froggy Taxi Service to attend her brother-in-law Jerry’s funeral. It is an interesting taxi service, since it involves driving The Commander’s vee-hickle down here. Anyway, I really haven’t done *anything* to my house. Except that, for the last year, I have been deeeeeee-cluttering it! Am I finished? No, I am not. When will I be finished? I dunno. It took 22 years to get it into a landfill-like state and I don’t expect it to get cleaned up in a matter of weeks. What was that old saying about building Rome in a day? Or whatever. Actually, the place probably hit a critical mass, oh around four or five years ago. Right around the time people started fledging out of the nest. Somehow it took me until last winter to get around to taking some action.

But the house does look pretty darn good if you don’t go down into the dungeon. I have a confession to make. I didn’t get to this point alone. A couple years ago, I was yet again kvetching about how awful my house was. Elizilla happened to be the receiving end of that particular volley. She said, “Moom, you should check out Flylady’s website. One of my friends uses it. Maybe it would help you.” Out of the mouths of babes, er, 21-year-olds. I did check out the website at that time and, I have to admit, I thought it was a little hokey. Why did I need a little bug lady to email me housekeeping routines and missions and things. Back in the dark ages, I used to do that stuff myself. I had regular housekeeping routines that I kept up religiously and I was a master at meal-planning and I even had a spreadsheet that was coded so I could sort it to make my list fit into the aisle configuration of all my favorite grocery stores. And even at the worst of it all, I was keeping the kitchen and the Blue and Only Bathroom clean and doing the laundry regularly. So was it really that bad? I stuffed the flylady website way back into the back of my mind.

I don’t exactly know when everything started to head south. But a year ago, when the holidays were over, after a couple years of school and funerals and living out of an ancient LL Bean duffle bag and a couple of dirt-encrusted Hondas, I was sitting there feeling like I’d been run over by a train. Something had to change. Tentatively, I went out to the Flylady site again. Tentatively, I subscribed to the email group. It turned out to be what I needed. Constant gentle reminders to keep up with regular chores and reassurance that if you pick away at disaster areas, eventually you will get them cleaned up. The whole plan is based on 15 minute chunks of time (or even less sometimes). What can you do in 15 minutes? You might be surprised.

I’m proselytizing a bit here, I guess. My house is still messy. And meal-planning still eludes me for the most part. But I am making progress. My *mother* even noticed it. My favorite Flylady saying (among many) is “Your house is not a museum for other’s people’s stuff.” Yes, yes, yes. Except I may have gone a bit overboard when I rejected the old red footstool that I can remember from the beginning of time. Thankfully, the GG and Froggy rescued that and it now resides at Houghton Lake.

Good night and may your house always be spotlessly clean and have no clutter (kidding 😉 )
Kayak Woman, formerly Garbage Woman

Kelly’s Pub

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

cartescape.jpgI can’t believe what I did just now. The blasted landline rang and I answered it with, “Grok grok.” In a frog voice. It’s okay. It wasn’t John McCain this time. It was one of those recorded voices. The thing that’s weird about it is that I didn’t even think twice about answering the phone that way. I just picked up the phone and said, “grok grok,” into it as if that was a perfectly normal way to answer a phone. When I was still in the job application process, Elizilla got my cell phone voice mail once and was horrified that it said something like, “Hi, this is Kayak Woman. Leave a message.” Or whatever, I can’t exactly remember. Elizilla is right, if you are seriously looking for a job, you should probably not have a name like “Kayak Woman” in your voice mail. I don’t recommend it but it did turn out okay somehow.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been entranced with the telephone. Way back in the dark ages, I was allowed to dial my grandparents’ number and my dad’s number at the bank (5-5201 was the bank phone, I *think* and I still can’t remember Grandma’s). Grandma was always happy to hear from me, of course, and whoever answered the phone at the bank was really nice and friendly and would always get my dad to the phone straightaway. Another number I remember from an early age was my friend Laurie’s. I won’t publish it here because I would bet dollars that her dad still has it and I don’t want the nefarious types of web surfers to start giving him crank calls. Laurie went to the Catholic grade school a couple blocks away from my own Lincoln. We would play after school during the week sometimes but Saturday was our day. She had to clean her bedroom every Saturday morning and I would call at about 9 AM to find out if she was finished yet. Usually not but enough that her mom would let me come over and hang around while she finished up. Or not.

Phones were kind of fun when I was little. I was always happy when the phone was actually for MEEEEEEE! WOW! Someone wants to talk to me. And then. There were the years of waiting for various crappy boyfriends to call (or not). And being at college and beyond and sometimes having a horrible time getting through to my parents. I started having phone-dialing nightmares when I was first at college and I STILL have them! But I have lots of other nightmares and y’all just do not wanna know. And then there started being calls about people dying, etc. They don’t happen that often and I won’t go into detail. Why bother. We all get those calls.

I hate using phones. They are necessary. There are times when email just doesn’t do it. But I do NOT understand all of the people that seem to hang out on their cell phones constantly, especially when they are in their vee-hickles. I cannot talk and drive at the same time. I mean, I *can* but I would rather not. When I’m driving, I like to be aware of what’s going on around me. And, if I am not in a phone kind of mood, I might not have much to say. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, it’s just that I am not in the mood to do telephonic conversation. I suppose I am in Kayak Woman mode.

Call me if you want. I may or may not get your call. And if you call my landline, Froggy just might answer!

Mommy, am I grown up yet?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

grrrdogz.jpgWell. *Am* I grown up yet? When did I grow up? Will I ever grow up?

A few years ago when I turned 50, Mouse was still in high school and delighted in loudly crowing to everyone within earshot, “You are 50!” At the ski ranch. In an auditorium. At the grocery store. Heads turned every time. I didn’t really care! 50 was the best birthday of my life! Even though I spent it at the Courtois Group Home at Houghton Lake. I mean the old moldy version of the Courtois Group Home, where you had to flush the toilet in the winter by throwing buckets of water down it. I loved that birthday.

My typical response to Mouse was usually something like, “Okay, I may be 50, but you are almost-17-going-on-25-with-big-flashes-of-2-and-a-half.” And that pretty accurately describes how Mouse was. And is, although now that she’s almost 21, the going-on is more like 40. But those big flashes of 2-and-a-half are still there. And guess what? I have them too. Like last night when I came home at 9:30 or whatever after being gone since eight AM and the GG had some music on that I objected too. I sure let him know about it. Whiiiiiinnne. And really. He was listening to THE BEATLES, of all things. What *was* my problem?

Age just isn’t a number. I think we are all a big conglomeration of ages. We are what we were at two and 22 (“mama, he has some 2s!!!”) and 30-something with young kids (“getcher blasted boots on already!”) and so on and so on. I am so jaded sometimes now. I get so tired of people that complain over and over and over about the same old things that they either can’t change or won’t change. I feel like about 90 at those moments. And then there are the days when I just take care of business without sweating the small stuff, like a 50-something moom just needs to do. And there are the moments when I kick up my heels and fling a kayak into the lake as if I were 20 again, jump in and paddle off! Er, except that I didn’t start kayaking until I was in my later forties. But kayaking makes me feel like a 20-year-old.

Am I grown up? I dunno. I haven’t ever reached an age where I felt any different. I do approach things sort of differently now. I push myself to do things that I might not have twenty years ago. I laugh and let things slide that I might not have twenty years ago. Usually. I’m not perfect. I feel like I can sort of “handle” life now. Knock on wood big time! Am I grown up? I hope I never feel like a grown-up.

So, 54 going on about 90 with the overwhelmedness of 35 and the (mostly) physical strength of 22 and big flashes (lots of them) of 2-1/2. HGBTM!!!

Love you all,

Kayak Woman

Welcome to a new great-niece!

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

One of the longer days I’ve had. Got to work a little early this morning although not quite as early as I wanted to due to snow driving conditions, albeit relatively minor ones. Mad dash to the bank during what passed for a lunch break and then ate what passed for a lunch at my desk. No, I don’t work for a slave driver. I was trying to get my eight hours in so I could leave in good conscience by five PM today in order to blast over to WCC and pick up an audit form for the class I’m registered for. Because I’ve decided that I can’t work full-time at a new job and take an intense class and deal with all of my life and family responsibilities and retain any semblance of sanity. [delete long, lame stuff about that.] And then I went to said class. For those who may not understand this stuff, auditing a class means paying for it but not being responsible for turning in work or being graded. I don’t recommend it for anyone who isn’t an old bag like me who actually has some family responsibilities, etc.

So. Sorry, Joanny, that I missed your call! My phone was on vibrate and at the time you tried to call, I was in class and my phone was packed away in a padded purse in a YAG bag under my desk. So I didn’t hear it. Wish I had! Didn’t get a picture either. But what wonderful news!!! Christina! Six pounds, 11 ounces. Joanny’s call came in at 7:01 and she said Christina had been born within the hour. Both parents are very happy and doing very well!! Congratulations to Dave and Jenny and welcome to Christina!!

Grok grok rok!! Don’ fergit that it’s th’ ol’ Grinch’s birthdy too! grok grok! Ya can’t fergit yer favrit cuzzint!! grok grok

Froggy, you’re right! Happy birthday to my “cuzzint” Grinch too! Love you!

Rant ‘n’ kvetch ‘n’ all that kind o’ stuff

Monday, January 14th, 2008

walmart.jpgLemme see. Seems like just the other day, I was ranting about the Washtenaw County Jury Board sending Elizilla a questionnaire and how stupid that was since she has been a California citizen for quite some time now and I think they even sent her a postcard once (er, that I put into another envelope and *forwarded* to her) to ascertain her current residency. Well, folks, today, two mail days later, she has received ANOTHER ONE! Do ya think their data base is stuck or something? Paper or plastic? Paper or plastic? Paper or plastic? Or do they just *really* need Elizilla in particular. I know better than that. I’ve sat through a couple of jury duty sessions. Probably 95% of the time, they make a bunch of people come downtown and sit there cooling their heels and they don’t use ANYONE! I understand why they do that. It’s to intimidate people into settling out of court. I’m sorry. My time is more valuable than that. And I don’t mean in terms of how much money I make. I was earning a big fat zero the last time I was called for jury duty. There’s just gotta be a better way. I mean, they could at *least* provide waaaarless internet or something. Bagels and juice are nice but. Anyway, I mailed the FIRST questionnaire out to Cali on Saturday. Do I really hafta mail THIS ONE TOO? I don’t have *time* to just go to the post office at random hours any more. Maybe I should just write, “not at this address” on it and send it back. That’s what I’d do if it weren’t my daughter. I do NOT have any faith whatsoever in the Washtenaw County Jury Board. Kee-reist. Yes, I hope somebody down there sees this. Somebody with a working BRAIN, that is. Er, I better shut up. I’ve been called twice in the last five years and my year off isn’t quite up yet (I don’t think) but I sure don’t want to have to do it again next year. Just rub my nose in it, willya?

On the up side of things, one of the benefits of having a full time job is that when John McCain calls, I am not home. You guys. I am not here during the day any more. I cannot answer the phone. The last thing I want to see when I come into the house in the evening is my voice mail light blinking. Anyone who KNOWS me has the number to my cellular telephone. But as much as I hate picking the blasted thing up to check the voice mail, it is SO gratifying that when John McCain leaves a message, I can just double-7 him out of town. Over and out.

[I’m still not ready to talk about the latest Sprint bill. Wanna make a guess?]

Yes, that is Walmart in the pic. Houghton Lake style. Swimmin’ pools, moooooovie stars.

Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here!

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

waterfall.jpgI’m having a wonderful time but you prob’ly don’t want to be here because I lie. I’m not anywhere near that waterfall. Alas, my main view today is the street in front of the Landfill, where the sky is, once again, a hazy shade of winter. Except today it’s not all foggy and beautiful. Just kinda blah. Like this blahg was gonna be today. Until Not Plain Jane came over with her Bali pics! Not Plain Jane is the youngest and cutest Fin Family Moominbeach G3 cousin and I don’t know what you were doing on Thanksgiving but NP Jane was on her way to Bali for a two week visit in honor of a friend’s birthday. NP Jane, who is leaving a smaller footprint on the earth than your favorite blahgger, has so far resisted the urge to become the owner of a digital camera. Or a cellular telephone or computer, for that matter. But she knew that the Landfill might have an extra camera or other piece of digital crap lying around that might be borrowed. And of course we did and I was more than happy to lend it to her. You go, girl!

After weeks of snafus about getting together — illness, postponements, work, holidays, you name it — we finally managed to meet up this morning to retrieve the pictures from the camera and get them onto a computer. It was not easy. The memory card for that particular camera is bigger (I mean in physical size, not gigabytes) than the one for my camera and the reader that reads the card was across town at the GG’s home away from home. There is a USB cable that goes with the camera but it doesn’t work without some special software from Canon and we tried to download that but the download took f-o-r-e-v-e-r and ultimately failed. WHY do they do this stuff to us???? The only person that I know of who has successfully been able to use that stupid cable and Canon software is Mouse. Hmmmm. Wait!! Mouse’s computer is here! And so, we were able to retrieve the pictures, transfer them over to my iPhoto, and burn a CD. Today was the first time Jane had seen them on anything bigger than the little camera screen.

With Jane’s permission, I’ve posted a random selection of her Bali pics. This is just a small fraction of all the photos she has, which I think is something like 362. I haven’t captioned them. I don’t even know what all these pretty pictures are of and anyway, it isn’t my story, it’s Jane’s. She has plans to make a Flickr account and post them there and when she gets them up there, I’m sure she’ll send a link. For now, click here or on the pic for a little break from the hardland of the winter.