Archive for September, 2008

This is a no panic zone!

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Sorry about that. I mean yesterday. Can you believe that when I got home from work yesterday, I couldn’t think of *anything* to write about? A letter from National City started it out and I got rolling into just about the biggest bunch of blather you’ve ever read. Er, maybe you were smart enough to not read it. And then somebody blew through the living room clinking ice cubes when nobody but me was here and I was in the kitchen, aka Moom was *not* in the living room. And Grandroobly was *not* in the bathroom but that’s a whole nother story.

Seriously folks, I don’t know if National City will go down in the latest financial debacle. I actually think there is an outside chance it won’t. It is not primarily an investment bank and although I know it has been feeding at the same trough as the rest of the sub-prime swine, a lot of people have small-time deposits there. Like us. It is our main bank but we don’t have a whole heckuva lot of money in there. Checking and small-time savings stuff. So, I am not going to panic.

I am no economist. The last time I met a derivative was in calculus back in the Jurassic Age and I think that particular derivative was a different critter. If you want coherent information about the bailout, go elsewhere. You’re mostly gonna get a bunch of incoherent blather outta me here. I have, however, been alive long enough to know that this isn’t the first economic crisis we’ve ever had. Remember how low the stock market fell after 911? And there was the whole Enron (say what?) thing. And the savings and loan debacle. What were they thinking? Why weren’t we paying attention? I am sick and tired of having a bunch of incompetent you-know-whats feeding at the trough. Sub-prime mortgages? Junk bonds? Run ’em outta town. Send ’em to Gitmo. Send a few politicians off with ’em. Don’t look at the stock index or your 401K for a while. Heck, buy a few stocks. Be prudent about it. And let’s get on with it. Presidential election? It’s already pretty interesting and this just adds to that.

P.S. Somebody really did clink ice cubes in my house last night. I’m sure it was Grandroobly. I think he was toasting me! Skoal! Y’all probably think I’m nuts. I don’t care. I’m convinced that Grandroobly and the Engineer do make contact at times. Deal with it.

Thanks, Dad, Love You!! The Engineer Too!

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Stormy Kromer’s new wheels?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

I am tongue-tied. I will miss National City when it is gone. I wasn’t all that crazy about NCC when it took over 1st of America. An early go-round with customer service where I called to complain about something and the woman gave me a *sales* job did not do anything to endear me to NCC. But it was a minor issue and arguably my “fault” for not reading some random piece of junky looking mail spelling out the new “policies” for my checking account. I was too busy to research other banks and the folks at my little local branch in Maple Village are the best and so I went on. And then they created a top-notch on-line banking application and I could do probably 90% of my banking that way. Y’all know I was sold at that point.

I am dumb-founded at what’s going on in recent days. I grew up in a household where, until I was about 10, the sole wage earner was a bank executive. Make that small-town bank executive. We lived in a little house with a persnickety old oil furnace and the scariest basement on earth. Toward the end of our residence there, I remember the Commander slogging through a couple feet of water down there on a couple of occasions. But life wasn’t that bad, really. That house was comfortable and we always had what we needed and more, including a college education, and a tiny little cabin on Fin Family Moominbeach. Fancy vee-hickles and designer clothing and all the latest lucky-shuckial gadgetry? No. Because our banker was a conservative. He didn’t loan money to people he knew couldn’t or wouldn’t pay it back.

Somebody hit the fast-forward button and it was 1984 and Stormy and I were living in a $400/month two bedroom apartment here on the Planet and it was a nice apartment but Lizard Breath was on the way, so we decided we needed to buy a house. I *hated* the whole process. We figured out how much we thought we could spend based on the fact that I planned to quit working for a few years (I didn’t end up quitting until much later but that’s a whole nother story). Everyone involved kept telling us we could afford more. Not in my opinion. We ended up buying The Landfill for $65,000. We put one third down (our parents did help us a bit but we had quite a lot saved up). We gambled on an adjustable rate mortgage and, at that particular time, it was a good gamble. Interest rates dropped sharply and we paid off our mortgage in 13 years instead of 30. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t an easy slog even without a mortgage. And an ARM *is* a gamble. We won that one but we have lost some others, albeit small ones. And still. Throughout the whole buying process, I would lie awake many nights, counting in thousands. How much money do we have in which account and is it enough? And, despite how often I complain about it, I *love* the Landfill.

I dunno what’s next. I am not an economist or a political pundit. Cycles. Things go up and things go down. We are not close to retirement, at least I am not. Our current employment situations don’t seem to be in the direct line of fire, but who knows?

As the daughter of a small-town banker who was capable of collecting cow collateral if he had too to, I am re-thinking the whole mattress strategy. Are you?

Ice cubes were rattling like crazy here a few minutes ago and nobody but me was home. Love you guys. We’re doing the best we can here on the Earth. We’ll come through okay. Love you!!

Nipigon Dreams

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

I am not sure if I have ever been to Lake Nipigon. I have been scanning some slides of the Lake Nipigon area. They are from 1955. Since I was alive in 1955, it is possible that I was on the trip but I’m gonna guess that if I *was* on the trip, there mighta been a few slides of, you know, meeeeee? But there aren’t. Actually, I have only come across one photo that has any people in it at all and it’s one tall skinny 30-something guy standing in the water in camping/fishing/outdoor-type clothing. I can’t see his face but he looks suspiciously like a Veteran Greenhorn. Grandroobly, perhaps? Or Lewie Read? Or maybe one o’ them thar Sherman boys. Henry’s boys. No babies anywhere. Not a one. I suspect this was a Veteran Greenhorn trip. No babies allowed. Oh well. I *have* been to Lake Nippissing. There was a pink toilet there. And a spider in the associated bathtub. Also pink. Er, the bathtub, not the spider. I remember these things. Actually, I remember the pink toilet. I think The Commander remembers the spider.

Of course, today’s photo has nothing to do with Lake Nipigon. It is from this morning when we were rolling along the I94 18-wheel Slogway, across the bottom of the Great Lake State, in the Ninja Vee-hickle. Not that it was a slog today. It was a beautiful drive. Light traffic, dry pavement, and the rising sun at our backs. My only regret is that I kept wanting to stop and capture some of the fall color that is creeping in. Freeway speeds are just to fast to do it justice, so y’all get this iPhone rear-view mirror thing instead. That’s a Whole Foods truck by the way. Seems like we always pass a Whole Foods truck when we travel over to kzoo on a Sunday morning.

Delivered the Ikea table Mouse picked out for her loverly little apartment. Breakfast at the Crow’s Nest. Auto parts store. Washed the windows on the Cute Little Blue Honda Civic and topped off its tank via the parental nickel. Took a walk in Mouse’s neighborhood, then futzed around with her persnickety internet connection for a while before leaving. Which brought out the old Mother BEAR instinct in me (this is more about me than you, Mouse). Rant about bad cable service deleted. Anyway, Mouse is Mouse and she’ll figger it out and I talked myself down off the ledge and drove home and promptly collapsed onto the couch with my electronical beastie. Whooompf! *Forced* myself to take my typical afternoon walk, ending up at Plum Market for some minor additions to tonight’s menu. I am so ready for cooler temperatures. 70 was too hot and dry for me today. Ike? Where are you when I need you? But that’s all just a minor little kvetch. And so. Back to work tomorrow. Have a great week, y’all!

Kayak Woman

P.S. Missed you guys *much* at Houghton Lake this weekend but needed at least *some* chores-and-errands type downtime here on the Planet A-squared. Yeek! Maybe I have too many, er, houses…

Bravo Nurse Aimée!!!

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Nurse Aimee (leaving the accent off the first “e” for the rest of this post for ease of typing, etc.) aka Uber Kayak Woman, that is! That’s her on the left in the sandals (yay for sandals), receiving her Bachelor of Nursing diploma. She graduated in August and passed her national board exam on Thursday.

I have told a couple of people about my cousin who went back to school at an “advanced” age. That is, some people think it’s an advanced age. I am the same age and I am just revving up, thank you veddy much. So I am not sure what some people are thinking. Anyway, back in May of 2007, she left her home and her family and drove across the country to enroll in an accelerated program that allows people who already have a bachelor’s degree to obtain a degree as a registered nurse. And I do mean “across the country”! Lopez, WA to Portland, ME? That, my friends, is *across* the country. In a Subaru with a sea kayak on top and I dunno what else. A Canadian customs guy asked her, “Dooya have anything *weird* in there?” and then let her go, scratching his head and figgering his time would be better spent on someone else.

I know a bit about what it’s like to decide to retrain yourself at half a century. But my college courses pretty much stopped at reading, writing, and critical thinking. Oh, yeah, coding and programming. There was a bit of practical experience that involved actual human beings but for the most part I was just beating up on computers, as usual. Aimee did all of that except for maybe the coding and programming *and* interacted with actual patients *and* had to do stuff like give injections and I dunno what else. Yikes! Anyway, when I told friends of mine that my cousin was becoming a nurse at our age, they immediately questioned, “Does she know how hard nursing work is?” I was tongue-tied. There is no way I could ever describe Uber Kayak Woman to someone who doesn’t know her. She is who she is and she manages to figger out how to do whatever she needs or wants to do.

I am rambling. The GG randomly decided to tear apart the Blue and ONLY (repeat, ONLY) Bathroom today in order to install a fan and replace light switches and other lucky-shucky stuff. I knew nothing about this plan until I returned from an early morning uber grokkery run to find that my nicely cleaned tub had a whole bunch of plaster and crap in it. Sigh.

Wish Uber Kayak Woman aka Aimee (with an accent over the first e) your warmest congratulations! Three cheers for the red, white, and sand. And the maple leaf across the-eh riiiiiver. You go girl!!

I don’t recollect.

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Repeat it about 1000 times and say it with a southern accent. You know, like one o’ them thar good ol’ boys. Er, no offense to any of my southern friends. Yes, this ol’ Yooper has a few o’ those.

There are a lot of things I do not understand about life and maybe that is why I am not a politician. I do not understand how people can let some friend, an unrelated person, pour money into renovations to their own house or cabin or whatever. And not reimburse the “friend”. And then, later on, not even have a clue about how much was spent or what it was spent on. Now why does this stuff happen? Because the person on the receiving end, the politician, can grease some wheels somewhere for the “friend.” Oh, but they were such *close* “friends”! Roight!

Yes, I am reacting to a news story. It is not the first time this kind of thing has happened. Republican? Democrat? Who cares? They all do this. It’s one of the oldest stories on earth. I do not understand why anyone would want to get into politics. I think holding an elected office would be a horrible job. I don’t think I would *ever* learn how to do it well enough to feel anything but incompetent. What the heck is the attraction?

I know what close friends are. I don’t have a whole lot of friends but the ones I have are close ones. Some of them occupy economic positions a few rungs up or down the ladder from me. Or at least from my perceived position on the ladder. I’m only guessing that though. And I believe you can only sorta guess that kind of stuff. I long ago came to the conclusion that you couldn’t guess this stuff based on size/fanciness of house or vee-hickle(s). I do know that certain occupations are more highly compensated than others and that is how it is and how I guess. When I even think about guessing. I mostly don’t. Because I couldn’t care less.

My friends and I do not talk about our household revenue or lack thereof. We talk about our families and jobs and *volunteer* work and how much things cost and bad customer service or driving or computers (that’s a big one and yes, we are pretty boring) or, well, I dunno. Whatever we have in common. I would never in a billion trillion years ask a friend to give me money to renovate my house. Or even let them sorta tacitly push a nice renovation on me. One that I might not exactly recollect later. Even if I was running for political office. Then again, I guess this a moot point since I never never never never *will* run for political office. I am just not cut out for it.

You guys, is Michigan playing football tomorrow? Who knows? I need to plan my day around the traffic.

I’m Popeye the sailor man, I live in a garbage can.

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

So, in Mouse’s comment to yesterday’s blahg post, along with her laundry list of stuff for us to bring (take?) over to kzoo this weekend, she asks, “which one of us said that?” The one who, on the way to college for the first time, read the billboard for Popeye’s Chicken as something like “pope-ee-yes”. I guess the apostrophe didn’t even give a clue. It was definitely Lizard Breath, who is also the toddler in the pic, sitting in the Commander’s old red chair with Hush Puppy (needs a mama) and none other than the Commander, reading Harold and the Purple Crayon.

It is funny the things you remember about certain days in life. For the most part, my memories of Lizard’s first day of college are a mishmash, mostly involving schlepping endless loads of crap up three and a half flights of stairs to the top of Trowbridge Hall and eating breakfast (finally) in the school cafeteria with a whole bunch of other Planet Ann Arbor alternative school parents who were just about as dazed as we were. But certain little bits of conversation have stuck with me. The Popeye’s thing and “can you get Dad to settle down” and “she’s tougher than she looks”. Do I remember the convocation speech? No way.

My kids will tell you that I am not really the best mother on earth. But one of the randomly few things that I did that were successful was that I read to my kids. A lot. When the Lizard was in kindergarten, the rule of thumb was “read to your kindergartner 30 minutes every day.” Say what? I was lucky if I could get away with under about two hours! By that time, we had made our way through Charlotte’s Web and The Wind in the Willows and any number of other books that I can’t even remember now. It was one of my favorite things about being a moom. And it is one of the things I miss the most about when they were little. I loved those books as much as the kids did.

Moom, we’re taking me to college and I just read that sign “Pope-ee-yes”

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

The young man in the picture is our nephew Jim and he is giving his parents the “go-away so I can par-tay” sign there. Just kidding, Jim and Becky. This is the kid we used to call Little Jimmy, the one who once toddled around inspecting every light switch and lucky-shucky plug in sight and probably some that weren’t visible. He probably had a whole schematic of the lucky-shucky in his house in his head by the time he was three. He grew up to lead an award-winning robotics team in high school and now he has begun his first year at the University of Chicago. By my description, y’all are prob’ly thinkin’ he’s gonna be an engineer of some sort. I don’t know what Jim’s plans are but I will tell you that he is a multi-talented young man with a wide variety of interests and many of them don’t fit into the category of engineering. So I think we will just have to wait and see what he does. I bet it will be something interesting.

Anyway, the trip to Jim’s college involves largely the same route as our kids’ journeys thereof, except that Chicago is a couple hours past Kalamamalakazookman (oh, don’t ask where that came from ;-)). So. Six years ago, right around this time of September, we drove our Lizard Breath over to Kalamazoo College to begin her freshman year. I remember I cooked a whole big breakfast that morning before we left. Nobody could eat. Nervous? I think we all were. At one point, Liz grabbed me and stage-whispered, “Can you get Dad to settle down?” Ultimately, dealing with setting up her computer et al kept him occupied.

At our kids’ small private liberal arts college, the freshman drop-off day involves a long, boring convocation ceremony and then little break-out sessions where the tearful parents meet with their student’s freshman writing teacher. We were asked to write down one statement about our student, i.e., this is not kindergarten and that’s all you helicopter parents get. Being a hindsight kind of gal, I couldn’t think of *anything*, and so sat there with my mouth open. The GG wrote, “she’s tougher than she looks” and that was (and is) so so so true. No different than when she was a 4-year-old kindergartner, really.

I was not one of the mothers who cried when they left their kid. I said goodbye, we drove home, I made the GG a stiff ‘hattan, and headed over to do my (then) job as the A2 Young Actors Guild administrator. We had auditions that night and I needed to be there at least at the end. Was I nervous? Shoot, yes! Will my kid adjust okay to college or call home crying every night? Will she get good grades or flunk out after the first semester? Life is so hard. But she was fine! She thrived on college. Grades? Fine and improved throughout the years. She only called home crying once in four years, when she slipped on ice and thought her arm was broken.

Congratulations, Jim. U of C is a wonderful school and your whole life is ahead of you. Thumbs up!

Yaknow, if you burn dynamite, it doesn’t blow up. Really.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Better? Yeah. Coooooool off. I blasted a few rocks to smithereens today. Burke sneaked me some dynamite from wherever he is. Traffic? Still horrible today. Note to self. When you are driving to work on your five little miles of freeway and some stoopid son-of-a-putt cuts you off, do NOT, repeat, do NOT get mad and gesture at him. It is *very* likely that he is going to the same business park that you are. And thank you very much, sir, for not retaliating. You were in the wrong but I should have kept my temper under control. You were a lot bigger than me. Work? Muuuuuccchhhhh better. I love my work when I am busy. My colleagues keep reminding me that there are lulls and I know I will eventually get used to the cyclical nature of my work. It is really such a nice job that I am still pinching myself after a year. And I am still tripping over my work ethic. And then there’s national politics. So-called “bankers”? I still have no words. This crap will happen again. It doesn’t really matter which party is in power. This stuff happens because people get greedy. I don’t know why. I am pretty happy in my ugly little late-50s tract house with the Blue and Only Bathroom, among other loverly features. ‘course, I do have a beach at my disposal too, at least part of the year, so maybe I should just shut up.

I do know that, as much as I love the dark and cold of winter, it also means that our beloved cabin on Fin Family Moominbeach is closed up for another year. The boats and chairs are put away. Those storm windows that I hate so much are up. A necessary evil. The next time I go north, I will stay in the Siberian Command Center. It has its perks. I have a morning walking route carved out that goes down around the locks and downtown area. If I have time to go out again later, sometimes I walk around down by my old childhood house on Superior Street and my grandma’s house on John. If I’m lucky, nobody gets paranoid about me taking pictures. I mean really, an old terrorist like me. And I did once fancy myself as a neighborhood terrorist, beating everybody including boys who were older than me at races and jumping contests and kickball and stuff. I am a ghost of that wild Indian child now.

I’m rambling. I don’t really have anything much to say today. I’m feeling better about life but sad that summer is over. Life does go on and I found orange and purple LED lights at Tarjay today. And more skeletons. I am actually ahead of the “holiday” season this year. Yay! Last year, the blasted Christmas lights were out by the time I started looking for Halloween stuff. Note to self: buy trick-or-treat candy soon.

Toxic post. Read at your own risk.

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Yes, this is toxic. I am in a toxic mood today. Lemme see. How can I count the ways…

Number one… What the *heck* are they teaching in driver’s ed these days? Is passing on the right legal now? Last I looked, it was not, at least not here in the Great Lake State. If I am going slow in the left lane on the freeway, it is because I am behind a bunch of slow vee-hickles passing an even slower vee-hickle in the right lane and I can’t go any blasted faster without plowing into somebody’s back end. And I am not gonna do that. So why the *heck* (believe me, I wanta write a different word) do you insist on swinging out around to my right when you are only gonna get trapped behind the even slower vee-hickle in the right lane. Is it because you think I am some blasted old bag who doesn’t know how to drive? Think again. Slow down, fer Kee-reist, and wait your blasted turn. We’re all in the same boat here.

Number two… I am not one o’ them thar water cooler people. I do not like to be un-busy at work. I know that I am nuclear powered and most job situations do not accommodate my needs 24-7. But. When I don’t have anything to do, all I can think about are all of the things that are being neglected in the other parts of my life. And I want to go and do them. But I can’t because that’s not what I’m getting paid to do. Please, please, please, god or whoever you are, make me busy. Because I cannot just sit around and look at my blasted fingernails. Sigh.

Number three… I swear to god (or whoever) that if any of those so-called bankers get bailed out with one o’ them thar golden parachutes, I am hitting the streets in protest. Those people need to be dipped in cow manure. What were they thinking? And why were WE not paying enough attention? That is about all I have to say.

I was thinking about closing comments to this post. I hate when the so-called mommy-blahggers whine (and I do read some of those and some of them are very good) and everybody and his brother comments only to say, “hugs” or “you pore thang”, or whatever. I don’t need that. I don’t get umpteen million comments anyway. That’s okay. I’m not out here to collect comments. I am in my own stupid little space of misery today and I know that I will soon have a happier day. Or whatever. Life is a river. Today my kayak hit some rocks. My own rocks. That is all. Love you all and hope you are having a better day than I am.

Sky Blue. And Silver. And Sea Green and Gold.

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Those were my first favorite Crayola colors from the 64-crayon box. I went on to the rainbow colors a little later. My cousin Sally is an artist and she’s a little bit older than me and I will never forget when I was a little kid and she showed me how to use crayons to do a color wheel. And how to use the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, complimentaries, etc. etc. etc. Not sure if you read this, Sally, but love you!

This weekend, I returned to Sky Blue, Sea Green, Gold and Silver. Those are the colors of the beach. I think it is fall now. The season, I mean. I honestly think it happened this weekend. When I got to Fin Family Moominbeach, you could still almost say it was summer. I swear that trees changed colors in the three days we were up there.

It was the most beautiful weekend ever. We cleaned and organized and schlepped stuff to Grandma’s Other House, the Real House, Where She Lives Some of the Days. We ate lunch at Clyde’s and Penny’s Kitchen. We (The GG) painted the deck and shut off the water and I dunno what all the GG did. It was definitely more than me. I mostly schlepped stuff around. In and out of various vee-hickle trunks. Boats and chairs and clotheslines and paddles.

The Commander is now ensconced in her Siberian Command Center. We left around noon. I hate long goodbyes. I said, “Well, you will want to putter around and put things away. And you have lunch dates for at least tomorrow and Tuesday. [And Tuesday’s lunch is a big fancy do at the hotel, no less.] And there are lectures at the college almost every night this week. Political crap and I dunno what else.” How many octo-women do *you* know who manage two homes. At 87, The Commander can still do it.

I am here on the Planet missing my beach. Blazing sunshine. Rain and thunder. Lake freighters. Fire-fighting planes shooting landings at the Canadian airport. I will be back. The north shall rise again! Three cheers for the red, white, and sand. And the maple leaf across the river. Click here or on the pic for really, really random pics from the weekend.

Love you all so much,
Kayak Woman

P. S. Yes, we accidentally left a glass at Chez Porter North last night. See you guys on the Planet!

In which the Back Light is resurrected

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

I knew there had to be pictures of the Back Light somewhere in the universe but I didn’t think they would be very easily dredged up. Today we were schlepping stuff in to The Commander’s house and she was fuddly-duddling around in the kitchen, so I rooted around looking for old pictures. The Back Light was pretty much the furthest thing from my mind. I was looking for pictures of me and the ol’ boy when we were kids. And I was having a devil of a time finding them. Seemed like I could find every generation but mine. Randomly, I picked up a little plastic box with a picture of Lizard Breath on top and started leafing through the photos in it. Lizard, Valdemort as a baby, the ol’ boy, Radical Betty, and others. And then. A winter expotition to the Back Light! Grandroobly, the ol’ boy, and Laker! When we were kids, we used to be able to actually go inside the Back Light, climb the staircase to the top, and look out over the swamp to Gitchee Gumee. I don’t think anyone went inside on this expotition. The old light is leaning pretty far over in these pics. I don’t remember exactly what year the Back Light fell but it woke Radical Betty up when it did. Earthquake, anyone? Click on the thumbnails and click again for full-size pictures.

Quick Update from Fin Family Moominbeach

Friday, September 19th, 2008

I did not photoshop that first picture, my iPhone did that all by itself. Every once in a while it asserts its own mind and comes up with something creative. The second picture is virtually the same scene and I just liked the third. Reflections.

Anyway. Yesterday was a pretty blasted long day what with working eight hours and driving five. Got here in the dark and slept downstairs, just for a change. When I woke up this morning, I checked my phone for a ballpark weather report. It said 44 degrees and I thought something like, “socks and sandals and a polartech vest.” And then I thought, “hmmm, it really doesn’t *feel* as cold as 44 degrees.” Then I realized that I had probably been looking at the temperature for the Planet Ann Arbor. Sure enough, the temperature here was 50! Colder down south for once. Still sock/sandal/vest weather at this time of year. Would’ve been barefoot weather in the summer at that temperature but there’s a little chill in the air now.

Not much else to say at the moment. It is a work weekend! Back later. Click on the pictures to enlarge them a bit.


Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Say ya to da UP, eh!

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Fly Honda Express: Planet Ann Arbor to Fin Family Moominbeach

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Currently flying north of Vanderbilt

Well, if Goose was were home, you could drive her some bacon!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Maudlin? Yesirree bob. I am maudlin. 2:18 PM text message from Mouse: “Leaving.” 5:07 PM, Mouse to Moom upon answering one o’ them thar ‘areya there yet?’ calls from her helicopter moom: “I’m around the corner.” Meaning around the corner from her apartment, not from the Landfill, which would mean Goose’s house. Reason for call? It is exactly 100 miles from here to Kalamamalakazookman, and that usually only takes an hour and a half on the I94 18-wheel Clogway (no offense intended to our own GrandMotherTrucker or any other truckers) unless there’s ice or a jaffic tram or whatever. Reason for forgetting to call Moominmama upon arrival? Visiting Tom, Dick, and Poindexter “around the corner.” Friends from last year’s study-abroad program in Senegal. [Er, names and genders changed to protect the innocent from ababsurdo.] And that’s okay. I was happy to hear that Mouse had arrived safely and was having fun. And she’s probably rolling her eyes at this.

Today. My “baby” Mouse left home to begin her senior year in college. She took my beloved Cute Little Blue Honda Civic with her. With my blessings. That vee-hickle has served me very well. I particularly remember the winter it was new and I drove it down to the Henry Ford Hoosegow 23 days in a row. But now I have the Invisible Ninja Vee-hickle. *And* my old but *beloved* Dogha. Which I drove to work today, thank you very much. It is starting just fine now that we have replaced the battery that had 115K on it, so that problem was not related to ethanol or methanol or whatever. And now Mouse is probably *really* rolling her eyes. But that cute little warhorse of a vee-hickle is in good hands.

Oh well, the GG is home and I have been on the phone with The Commander (don’t ask 😉 ) and life threatens to go on at a faster clip than I would like it too and I am (almost) thoroughly distracted from the whole empty nest syndrome at the moment. But this morning, before I went to work, Mouse and I did a little field trip out to Dexter to Jenny’s Farm Market. There are all kinds of pickles and preserves and fresh vegetables there and there are aminals too, ponies and goats and an overly friendly dog named Molly who tried to climb into my car when we parked there. Click here or on the pic for sloppy iPhone pics of Jenny’s Farm Market. For no other reason than it was a fun thing to do and this is southeast Michigan at its prime. We bought some things and the very friendly counter guy gave us some free doughnuts. Grok Grok. Ifya look close enuf, y’ c’n see Ol’ Baggy! Betchya can’t gess witch pitcher it is. Grok grok!

Now, who will tell us when House episodes are on TV and what channel they are on…


Don’t let her kid you, it’s the baby goats she likes.

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

In my career, I am a bit player in the cast of a large web/software application production. Do not get me wrong. I am happy in my little bit role. No one person could do the whole blasted schlemiel. We need a small army of people using a variety of related but different skill sets to pull this stuff off. Several times a year. In a lot of ways, each production is the same old, same old. But then there are the things that blindside you right off your you-know-what. You carefully research and figger out what you’ll do differently the next time and then, the next time, there is a whole ‘nother set of problems to solve. It’s okay, I like to problem-solve. *Most* of the time. There are days (or parts thereof) that I just wanna sit and ruminate or whatever.

This is so much like my last “career” as a youth theatre guild administrator. We did five or six productions a year. We used lots of different venues, both for rehearals and performances. Different age groups. Different casts. Different scripts, sets, costumes, props, musical accompaniment (or not), choreography (or not). And then there were all the administrative hassles. Posters, tickets, video order forms, T-shirt order forms, media release forms, rehearsal schedules. You name it. I’m forgetting 90% of it. Every single play production, we would go through some sort of horrible, complicated mess. We would slowly dredge ourselves out of the mess and figure out how to make it work out. We would pat ourselves on the back and say to ourselves, “Well. Next time, we won’t have to deal with *that* because we’ll know what to do!”

But guess what? The next play would come along and there would be some totally new issue. One that we hadn’t even begun to think of before. I loved this stuff. Er, well. Sometimes I hated it. But. I loved the problem solving and the multi-tasking involved in running a youth theatre guild. I loved hanging around backstage with the producers. At least I loved hanging with Elena and Paula. Others? Well, they did their best. It was fun [usually] and there was always [always] something different going on.

One of the things I do *not* have to deal with in my current job is high-maintenance parents. You know the kind. “My kid is so talented, she needs to be the star.” “My kid has soccer practice whenever your rehearsals happen, can he still be in the play?” And there were those who jumped through hoops to evade the studio fee. Kee-reist, we are a blasted NON-profit organization. Who the heck do you think is funding us? And I won’t even go into the kind of crap that you get from the over-educated Planet A2 parents (who can’t tie their own shoelaces) about challenges and gender identity and blah-de-blah-de-blah. And some of *those* types of people were the ones who would try to avoid paying the studio fee.

Disclaimer: with a few very notable exceptions, I even loved the high-maintenance parents. Some of them even got on board with our program. And for the most part, the really awful ones pulled their kids out in quick order [thank god] and put them into commercials (or whatever) instead.

Robin in the rain, such a saucy fellow. Robin in the rain, mind your socks of yellow.

Monday, September 15th, 2008

It was a beautiful rainy day and I was out sloshing around the neighborhood in ankle deep water with my buddy Ike. I had a big broken bumbershoot to shelter my little Flip video cam and I was filming sewer drains in action. [Update: Er, that would be *storm* sewer drains, thank you Jay!] No, I won’t bore you with those. Not today, anyway. So. I had walked in and out of the schoolyard several times, through the sprawling mudpuddles and past the entrance to the woods. I was heading home and it was raining really hard and the wind finally started to come up a little bit. As I was walking beside the woods, my Celtic sixth sense kicked into gear, and I thought to myself, “hmmm, maaaayyyybeee I should just *not* walk through the woods today.” I didn’t walk through the woods but it wasn’t due to my little prescient flash of insight. It was because the woods was basically a big mudpuddle and I was already sopping wet and the idea of going home, changing out of my wet clothing, washing the mud off of my feet and legs, and, oh, maybe pouring a wee bit of ‘hattan was too hard to resist.

Fastforward 15 minutes. I was hanging out reading the newspaper in my nice cozy ugly cluttered kitchen and Mouse and the GG were in the back room. The wind was coming up a little bit more and all of a sudden, CRASH! What was *that*? Actually, it wasn’t that loud. I wasn’t even sure I had heard a crash. It wasn’t inside the house and nothing was amiss in the yard. The GG was entranced with the wind, so he took off in the new vee-hickle and drove around looking for gloom and doom and devastation. Nobody bothered to look around any closer to home.

This morning, I took off on my walk and it was dark and I got to the schoolyard entrance by the woods and I was watching warily for skunks and there weren’t any skunks but there was a CROCODILE!!! Except (of course!) it wasn’t a crocodile. It was a great big tree that had fallen out of the woods, crashing over the fence in the process. It was right next to the entrance. The one that I had dithered around about entering yesterday afternoon.

Disclaimer: Here on the western quadrant of the Planet Ann Arbor, Ike brought a lot of rain, some lightning, and some wind. We have in NO WAY experienced anything approaching the devastation that Ike brought to the folks in Texas or even other areas of the upper midwest. My heart goes out to all of those who have lost homes or vee-hickles or other possessions. Or friends and family members. I have no words about that.

Whaddy’all know (or think you know ;-) about bamboo flooring?

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

It is TIME!!! This morning, I actually *asked* the GG if he wanted to go to Lowe’s with me. I usually avoid Lowe’s like poison. We go there when we need lucky-shucky supplies or plumbing equipment or coaxial cable and I can stand about two minutes of that before I get bored. So I go look at the books and magazines. And I see all the lovely kitchens or bathrooms or decks or backyard studios that I’ll probably never have and I get discouraged. And then I just want to get outta there.

But we are going to do something about our ugly, cluttered kitchen. It was ugly when we moved in 24 years ago and we have made hardly any changes to it in that entire time. It is a small kitchen and there is really not any room to expand it, so we are not talking about knocking down walls or anything like that. And don’t get me wrong. I do not mind a small kitchen. We are going to rearrange things a bit and get a new floor (!!!!) and hopefully some new cabinets. And *maybe* a new dishwasher and stove. But I *like* the stove, so who knows…

The floor… The question of the day is: what kind of flooring? I had just about picked out some of that wood laminate (think that’s what you call it) when somebody mentioned something about bamboo. And that is what prompted the trip to Lowe’s today. Here’s the deal. I will never have linoleum anywhere in my house ever again. It was a bad decision. Watch the video all the way to the end and you will see the main reason why I am unhappy with it. There are others. I like the look of wood but this is a kitchen and I’m pretty sure that I won’t take care of it very well. Hence the wood laminate. But what *about* bamboo? It’s pretty. Does anybody have any long-term experience with it? I like the idea of using a natural and [arguably] environmentally-friendly material. How will it hold up? It’s a kitchen. I am a klutz. I drop things and spill things and sometimes I even throw things. Well, okay, I only throw things like wet washcloths, but still.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, is a video of my ugly kitchen that I have courageously posted on YouTube in all its cluttered glory! Click or be square!