Archive for October, 2008

I partied with the band.

Friday, October 31st, 2008

No, we did not line our driveway with deer skull luminaria. Sorry, maybe next year.

We are getting a decent business this year on All Hallow’s Eve or whatever it is. It’s a little weird to be 50-something empty nesters. People are paranoid these days. Who lives in that house? There are no big wheels or little tykes vee-hickles hanging out on the sidewalk there, so there are no kids. I know that our house, with all of the colored LED lights that I love so much and Vandergriff with his pumpkin head probably gets scrutinized from the street. Is this house with its old people okay? The GG is better at interacting with little kids but I always try to appear with him when he hands out candy. It’s okay, people. He once took our own little babies trick-or-treating. We miss those days and we love to see your kids. We hand out pre-packaged snack-sized chocolate bars and we do not embed poison or razor blades in them. They come straight from the grocery store. And our hearts. Come back. Next year or even tonight. I do not care.

I thought I had a train of thought going here but it got interrupted when a waft of smoke came through my open (On October 31!!!) kitchen window. Cigar smoke from the GG of course. I will have to figger a way to tell Grandroobly to stop influencing him. Anyway.

My hands-down favorite trick-or-treater tonight was my PiHi bus-stop friend. I see her *very* early in the morning when I am heading home from my walk and the kids are congregating at the PiHi bus stop. She’s a smart girl and I think she’s pretty but I’m not sure *she* thinks that. I also think she has a heckuva lotta guts (Mouse-like) but I’m gonna guess she doesn’t fit in with the usual freshman-type PiHi groups. She was dressed as a witch and was trick-or-treating alone. I told the GG to give her a *lot* of candy. I hope to heck I didn’t embarrass her but I *am* in her corner, whoever she is…

So. Yes. It was a good Halloween with lots of customers and we connected with our wonderful neighbors and I could actually hang out in the street with bare feet and LED lights are the best and I’m taaaarrrred and click here or on the pic for Halloween 2008 at the Landfill.

Didja get the bong out of it?

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Raarrrg. Siddown kiddos, before you read this…

I had my whole afternoon planned out. What’s left of afternoon after work, that is. I came home and changed out of what passes for business casual and grabbed a couple of Plum Market bags and trucked on over there. It was a beautiful afternoon and I had a nice, relaxing walk over there and back. Or, not quite. I got to about a block away from the Landfill and noticed that there was a flatbed truck and several fine gentlemen in the street, one of them the neighbor across the street. I knew what was going on. We have sold The Indefatigable and those fine gentlemen were here to pick it up and our wonderful neighbor who seems to see everything that happens around here had come over to make sure that somebody wasn’t making off with The Indefatigable while we were not home. Thanks neighbor!

Sad but true. The flatbed truck was legitimate. The GG was still at work and I was set to the task of emptying The Indefatigable of all of its bird bones and aminal skulls and other flotsam and jetsam and cosmic debris. And then. Finally. The GG got home. He said good-bye to his old friend and the flatbed truck hauled it away.

I was not in favor of purchasing that particular vee-hickle back in 1992. I didn’t think it was practical for a family of four and I would’ve rather spent vee-hick-ular cash on upgrading minivans more frequently. I caved and the day we went to pick up The Indefatigable, Mouse was not quite five and Lizard was seven and Mouse had just been diagnosed with an ear infection so we had some of that gooey old pink antibiotic fluid with us at the vee-hickle dealer. I drove the old red minivan home and the GG drove his new vee-hickle. I think we each had a kid with us. I can’t for the life of me remember which kid was with who.

The Indefatigable was not originally named The Indefatigable. It was originally named The GG’s Midlife Crisis. I will remind him about that if he ever starts looking at sports cars or convertibles or whatever. You only get to use the Midlife Crisis excuse once! When the jeep was three or four months old, the GG was rear-ended on the southbound I75 SUV Speedway one Sunday afternoon. He had gone north alone that weekend and he was unhurt but I shudder to think what might have happened if our tiny little girls had been in the back seat. The jeep was drivable but required a few weeks in the body shop to get straightened out, etc. It was at that point that the GG’s brother Don dubbed it The Indefatigable and, although I was initially skeptical, that name stuck. Thank you, Don.

Fast forward. Please somebody quit hitting that blasted button, willya? Both of the beach urchins learned to drive in The Indefatigable and drove it throughout high school and college whenever they were home. I loved to drive it in the beginning but have become less enamoured of it in later years as various problems developed. Holes in the floor and door. Enough play in the steering that dry pavement felt like ice. You name it. We own newer vee-hickles and I don’t have the patience for a persnickety old one. Although I will always miss driving it around with two kayaks on the top. Kayak Woman!!!

Today was the day. The buyer is another one o’ them thar slackers over at the EPA. He really, really, really plans to fix it up and actually drive it again. That’s one of his hobbies. It has gone to a good home and, with any luck, we will see this vee-hickle again. Click here or on the leaf/sky photo for more.


Draw a pumpkin! Draw a pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Is that the cutest Halloween Aminal you have ever seen or not? [I know, I know, Gay I will post Chloe Belle later this week.] Guinea Pig was originally named Dina until we figgered out that he was a boy (don’t ask) and were beyond thinking up names by then except for things like Eagle Bait or Toilet Brush et al. He was the *best* Halloween aminal ever. He was almost totally black except for a couple of white toes and the GG used to hold him while greeting trick-or-treaters. He would blend right into the GG’s black sweater.

He belonged to the older beach urchin me. Okay, technically he was Lizard Breath’s aminal but after she went to college, he was mostly mine! I remember shortly after we got Guinea Pig when we came to the realization that they actually lived longer than a couple years and the GG said, “We’re gonna have him after the kids go to college.” And we did. And I loved him. Rest in peace, small aminal.

Anyway, he belonged to the kid young woman (ulp) who said in yesterday’s comments what I *tried* to say in my blasted blahg, except she was much more eloquent. I may get paid to write gazillion-page functional specifications but there are more than a few reasons why I don’t usually write about politics. I did NOT beat that stuff into her brain. When I read it, I felt a bit like Mr. Toad, sitting in the road after being run over by a motorcar. Why couldn’t *I* have said that? Both the beach urchins have been heard to say, “You guys raised us on the Planet Ann Arbor and sent us to an alternative high school. What did you expect?” Uh, yeah. Me? Sault High, 1972.

Of course, before all of the above, the beach urchin was once two years old. The GG took her to Farmer Grant’s to pick out a pumpkin (or two or five) and when it was time to leave, she toddled around and said good-bye to all of the pumpkins that they weren’t taking with them. And that was also the year that the GG probably drew about 15 brazillion pumpkins. “Draw a pumpkin, Daddy!” Over and over and over again. You give a two-year-old a truckload of crayons and let ’em go and what do they do? They ask *you* to draw. After all, your drawing is better than theirs. Did you know that?

I wouldda taken a picture of the Tina Fey yard sign but the homeowner was coming out the door.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

This is not really a political post. I have already stated which presidential candidate I am voting for this year. I didn’t have to do that. It’s a secret ballot. Or it is supposed to be. My last voting experience was less than perfect in that respect. Anyway, I am a long-time independent voter. Fiscal conservative. Social liberal, to a point. But I have already let the cat outta the bag on who gets my vote this year. Look it up if you don’t remember.

My personal opinion about Sarah has changed a bit since an initial bout of horrification that the GOP somehow thought she was an appropriate running mate for McCain. Say what? I still don’t think she’s the best choice. I don’t agree with a lot of her views and I don’t think she has the required experience. But she is a person and an accomplished one, it seems, and I bet she knows she’s in over her head. From what little attention I’ve paid (and it is *little*, don’t get me wrong, if you want informed political views, go somewhere else!), I think she’s being a pretty good sport. And heck, he could’ve picked Paris Hilton. Roight?

It’s just that I wish people would lay off the blasted $150K clothing thing. The highest “elected” office I have held in my life is PTO treasurer. I was “elected” to that position at four schools — for a while, I held that illustrious office in two schools at the same time. And, yes, it *is* an elected position. The difference between PTO treasurer and the US vice president is that about the only qualifications you need to be a PTO treasurer is that you can breathe. Really. People are peeking nervously out from behind bushes everywhere saying, “Don’t pick me! Don’t pick me!”

Fortunately, it didn’t much matter what I wore to PTO meetings. Half the time, there were only five or six people there anyway. If I got the tax reports filed on time and kept the checking account balanced, everybody was ecstatic. Well, except for the time when I schlepped up to an alternative middle school meeting in a ripped up tie-dyed t-shirt and wrinkled shorts and found that some helicopter parents were there to *video-tape* the meeting. It had *nothing* to do with the treasury and I sincerely hope that tape is languishing somewhere in a basement as trashed out and rodent trodden as mine is.

I hate to shop. If I am not scheduled to be at work or some sort of event, I am usually schlepping around town in 15-year-old rags. I do manage to do work with the help of a couple of overworked black skirts. If *I* were running for an office that required me to wear something other than the paltry number of outfits I own that vaguely resemble business casual, not to mention anything remotely resembling fancy, I would be totally up the crick without that old paddle. Rest assured, I will NEVER run for that kind of elected office. But I understand. Yes. $150K is a bit much. Nieman Marcus is a bit overboard. Okay, maybe more than a bit. But, when I *do* manage to scrape together both a bit of extra cash and the psychic fortitude to actually set foot inside the mall, I do not head to J. C. Penney. In my experience, those clothes are fine if you are gonna change up your wardrobe every six months. I’m looking for more like 15 years! I don’t mind spending a little. Who knows when I will manage to coax myself back over there for another shopping trip?

I am not Sarah. She’s a lot younger and prettier than me and she has greater aspirations than I do. And I bet she doesn’t schlep around in the kind of rags that I do. But just cut her a break on this one, please?

And on into the night woods

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Are y’all taaarrred o’ my commentary yet? I know *I* am tired of my commentary!!! I’m gonna leave you with photos of our hike on The Engineer’s namesake trail yesterday morning. It was the GG and UKW and me. I haven’t captioned the photos. Y’all can figger it out on your own if you want to. The beaver dam and Lewie’s red pine plantation and some *ancient* (1800s? Dogmomster?) burned-looking pine stumps are all in there. I’ve posted photos of this trail before and I will again. Every time I hike anywhere, I see new things or I see old things from a different angle. Click here or on the pic. Good night, KW.

Non-Thanksgiving and home

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

It was an absolutely fantabulous party but I was so tired at the end of non-Thanksgiving last night that I was flat out on The Commander’s couch probably 15 minutes after the last guests left. And that was like at about 8:15 or 8:30 or I dunno what. Probably at least a few hours before a certain dinosaur birthday party started out there in Cali. Sorry, we are not [usually] 20-something partiers like we used to be [a couple of summers ago, or two weeks ago or whatever]. [Bwa-ha-ha-ha.] It was a *good* tired, do not get me wrong!

Anyway, The Commander cooked a fantastic Thanksgiving-type dinner. Uber Kayak Woman made pumpkin red kuri squash pies and wilted spinach salad. Jeep and Pan brought wonderful hors d’oeuvres. Football was on, TV and iPhone. Dice games were played. By your own favorite non-gaming KW, even.

We (UKW, GG, and I) had been playing around with the idea of a walk from town (SS Siberia) to Fin Family Moominbeach early this morning. We didn’t quite make that plan happen. But the alternative plan did! The GG and I drove out to Fin Family Moominbeach and met up with UKW and walked the drainage ditch road up around to Five Mile and the Ganzhorn Gash and then we walked the southern part of The Engineer’s namesake nature trail. We had a coffee and red kuri squash pie at Dennis’s beautiful cabin and then we went back into town and collected our crap and left for the Planet Ann Arbor.

It was a beautiful drive down. Weather is crazy in the Great Lake State this weekend. It was too warm for snow but we hit everything else. Rain, hail, and sleet. Although we were mostly on dry pavement. No tornadoes, thank you veddy much! I think we are on the cusp of switching over to a winter weather pattern. So, although I took pictures of my bro’s namesake nature trail, I decided to post cloud pictures instead. The first picture is from the Rudyard flats, then there are some Mackynack Bridge pics, the rest are below the bridge and they end somewhere south of West Branch. We stopped at exit 181 for gas and I started to drive then because generally I like to drive the traffic-ey parts of the route. So after that I was not free to take pictures.

Love y’all. To those left o’ Birch Pointers, missed your faaaaar. Knights next weekend?

Click here or on the pic for a cloud slideshow.

Last but not least, love to Suzie, my beautiful sister-in-law in Florida. It is her birthday today. Miss you, Suzie.

Walking the road wetlands drainage ditch, 2000 and 2008.

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Click on the stop work sign for pictures of the hikes we took yesterday and in 2000. Although I am still not happy about the road (and I’m *really* not happy about the paving of Five Mile by the clay banks), I have to say it was soothing to see the growth of new vegetation along the sides of the road. Proof that it might take a bit more trying to kill off Mother Nature then we all might think? In all of the slides, the photo on the left is from 2000, the one on the right is 2008 (yesterday). A few of the locations match exactly (the culvert, the stuff on the hill, Five Mile, and Ganzhorn Gash) although the angle of the photo may not. Other pairs are not matched exactly, just show similar content. When we walked this route in 2000, I had a GPS with me and was trying to match the route the GG and I had walked the previous summer. On *that* hike, this road/canal was an overgrown, buggy trail through the swamp and at one point we managed to disturb some eagles. I remember being particularly upset in 2000 (as were the others) about the almost certain loss of the eagle’s nest. But eagles still live in the vicinity of the beach and the eagle population is on the rise. So, I dunno. I didn’t take a GPS with me this time. Click here or on the pic to see the rest of the slides. When I have time, I will repost the original 2000 slideshow in its entirety with cleaned up captions. And I think I will put together a more extensive one of the 2008 hike. Happy non-Thanksgiving!

Update to clarify that the stop-work sign is from 2000. It is not current.

A close encounter with The Engineer

Friday, October 24th, 2008

It is non-Thanksgiving here in the Great White North. Whaddya mean, ya old bag, y’all are wond’rin’. What is non-Thanksiving? Well, it is when Uber Kayak Woman and I can both be here in the season when most of the leaves are down and the cold north winds are a-blowin’ and we are hosting an early Thanksgiving dinner for our mooms and a few other beloved relatives. Actually, I am not much of a host, since it is at The Commander’s house and she is doing all of the cooking (except what UKW is doing), including the mashed potatoes that I volunteered to do. It’s okay and maybe I will manage to slip in the cranberry sauce. This particular holiday is a quickly thrown-together one-time holiday, so all you bankers (you know, all of you who read this here blahg), don’t get your underwear all up in a bunch and update your holiday schedule or anything.

So we practically broke our necks getting up here, getting to Houghton Lake at 8:40 last night and, after spending a short night there, back on the road by about 6:00 AM. Coffee and one of those cinnamon rolls at the Grayling McDonald’s, narrowly missed one deer family on the I75 SUV Speedway, sunrise on the Mackinac Bridge, and here before 9:00 AM. What did Stormy Kromer do? Clonked out, of course!

This afternoon, Uber Kayak Woman, Radical Betty and your favorite blahgger re-created a hike that three generations of Fins and a friend took in November of the year 2000. It was UKW’s idea. She’s been biking it lately and thought it might be time to take some new pictures of it. And I did. 142 of them. It was a gorgeous hike and I want to post a sort of then-and-now slide show about the 2000 hike vs. this one but it might take a couple of days for me to get it all sorted out.

We were up there on the Ganzhorn Gash, which is now a Little Traverse Conservancy preserve and we heard a lake freighter blow three long, two short. I thought, “Ryerson!” We got to the trailhead of the Jim Finlayson Nature Trail (my bro’, aka The Engineer) and decided to go up on the overlook platform. It was a random decision because we were tired enough that we could’ve easily enough decided to just keep on trucking and get back down to the beach. But I wondered whether we could see the river any better without leaves on the trees. So we went up on the platform. Can you see the river better without leaves? Well, not really. But. There. Far away. Between a faraway break in the trees, I could see the unmistakable front superstructure of The Ryerson! It was The Engineer’s favorite boat and we were on the platform marking the trailhead of The Engineer’s namesake trail. The first picture is a close-up of zooms in on the front superstructure of the Ryerson, just to the right of the birch tree. The second is the overall view from the platform. As UKW said, it almost looked like the boat was floating through the trees.

Ryerson sightings. For a while, the Ryerson was out of service (I think, somebody correct me). At any rate, we didn’t see the Ryerson for a while. And then it was back. The Engineer and Grandroobly were both dead. The first time I encountered it, it was right down there sitting by the Corps of Engineers and I almost fell over. Then there were the times it was the first and/or last boat I saw from the beach for the season. Getting a little far away. Today? Almost out of sight. It’s been a few years since they’ve been dead and today the Ryerson checked in but it was pretty far away. I guess that means the ol’ boys know that we’re doing okay and they’re probably finding other things to do. That’s okay, you guys. But please check in from time to time. Love you.

I am outta words for now. Sayonara. Kayak Woman.

Say ya, eh?

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Happy Birthday, Little Munchkin

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

And if you are 24, then that makes me, oh never mind… And a late 22nd to Valdemort. How the heck could I forget? Probably because I was distracted by wrestling with a slug-filled, exploding box. Off to cube-land, more later. Updated to add a few more pictures (click here or on the pic) of my little “iron butterfly” (i.e., she’s tougher than she looks) from a trip to Florida back in the dark ages. This trip featured the little lizard’s first stay in a motel room as a sentient and independently mobile being and boy, when we got up to leave at 0-dark-30 the next morning, she made dead sure that she stationed herself out next to the Jetta as we were packing. No way was she gonna let us leave her behind! Not unlike a certain dog I used to know.

Great balls o’ faaaaar!

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

With a fireball here and a fireball there… Oh, that’s right, it’s Julia’s birthday! So that’s what all the fireworks are about.

Seriously, it was a relatively boring day at work. I mean I was in the flow of what I was doing and so was everybody else, so we were all sort of humming along and then I clicked over for a quick little Twitter update and the latest twit tweet was from Lizard Breath: “fireball” on i-880 south, cars everywhere by work!!! So then, Dogmomster posted a news story and found (of course) that there was a oil tanker accident. There seem to be a lot of explosive oil tanker accidents out there in Cali. I remember one a couple years ago when my beach urchin was still living in Berkeley that actually melted a section of elevated freeway. Bridge or whatever you call it. No one was killed in today’s faaarball last I knew so that is a good thing. But then, the news page that Dogmomster’s link went to linked to a *horrible* story about a five-house fire somewhere in the Day-Twa area (I forget where, downriver, I think) and that was much worse because I think some people, including children, did die, so that was definitely *not* fun to read… But then. Later in the afternoon, I heard a couple of my fellow cube-workers talking about smoke over at the Planet Ann Arbor Airport. And there was. It was pretty wimpy looking smoke, not really like anything had crashed. And I don’t think anything did because the airport seemed to be operating about like usual when I left work. But we took the opportunity to spend some time conjecturing. Anyway, I spent the afternoon falling out of my chair because of one faaaarball or another.

Julia. Who’s Julia? I wish I could remember all of my relatives’ birthdays. I can’t. Er, actually I can to a point. It’s just that on any given day when I’m chillin’ and doin’ my blahg, I’m prob’ly focused on some other silly little random thing. Sorry. But Julia is our niece and I remember Julia’s birthday because she was born 10 years and one day before my own firstborn baby and I remember when she used to come over here and stay sometimes during school vacations and help take care of my own firstborn baby.

Julia has grown from the beautiful, mischievous-looking young girl in the picture into an elegantly beautiful young woman who has been living out in the beautiful state of Colorado for quite some time now. And if you happen to be good at story problems, you might even be able to figger out her age. Sigh. Please, somebody put duct tape over the fast-forward button. Happy birthday, Julia!


Happy Birthday Jay!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

She’s my Seattle cuzzint out there at Raincharm! I won’t say how old she is but she’s not too far behind me. Two kids in college and the whole nine yards.

That is not a picture of Jay there. What were you thinking? My cuzzint may be an engineer but she does not look like a bulldozer and, given a choice of vehicles, she is more likely to be found driving a toilet. That’s the Planet Ann Arbor leaf pickup crew there. At 0-dark-30 this morning. This isn’t just Jay’s birthday, it is the first leaf pickup day here in the Landfill sector of the Planet Ann Arbor. Problem? Well. There are some leaves on the ground. Maybe two percent? Or three percent? Or maybe even five percent? I dunno. I did not rake any leaves into the street for the pickup because I didn’t want to be bothered with raking an infinitesimally small percentage of the total number of leaves that fall in my yard into the street. Back in the day when I was a youth theatre guild administrator and set my own hours, I might’ve managed to rake a few of our leaves, just for the joy of it. Full-tilt boogie full-time career? Not. By the time the *second* leaf pickup day rolls around, our leaves will be down and I will be going hucklety-buck. I forget when that is. Sometime in November. Even then, not all of the leaves are down but it works.

I think the planet rotates the leaf pickup dates because ours is not always this early. One year, our first pickup date was something like November 8th and we actually managed to get all of the leaves out into the street by then. The second date was December 11th and we had a few more by then but what happened that day? 12 inches of snow. Leaf pickup? Not. I think the street cleaner finally got some of them in April. But it was sure a fun day and I shoveled a bunch of times (another thing I do for the sheer joy of it) and we had to cancel a tech week rehearsal at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre (not a good thing) and it snowed the whole week and I couldn’t see out zee veendsheeeld of the POC because zee vipers ver totally screwed and my feet were wet and cold all week from running up and down the slush-covered back stairs of the Lydia. That was one long sentence but I miss those fun times.

This year, we have early leaf pickups. I just don’t understand why they bother to schedule the early and late dates. If the leaves are not down yet, why spend all that money on sending out trucks and crews to pick them up? Just sayin’.

Oh, and we also have to manage to rake the leaves at Houghton Lake somewhere in there. Fin Family Moominbeach? We ignore them, of course. Who rakes leaves in the woods?

Five Mile Road

Monday, October 20th, 2008

This photo is largely for the benefit of Uber Kayak Woman, who is, I hope, regularly riding a bicycle on this road. And yes, it is a road. Except it doesn’t look like this any more. It is now a 60-foot wide (or whatever) paved street with big ugly McMansions on it. Colonial style and whatnot. Just perfect for the Great White North. Yes, that’s sarcasm. I knew I had some old digital photos of Five Mile around somewhere and yesterday I found them. Right here on my cute little cyber-beastie.

Five Mile Road was beautiful when I took this picture. It was November back in the year 2000 and walking it that day made me feel like I had gone back in time to a day when people still traveled by horse and buggy sometimes. The years when Grandberry would end a summer day of work at the bank in Sault Ste. Siberia, board the train (yes, the train), disembark seven or eight miles away at Gladys (yes, Gladys) and walk the last mile or so down to the old log cabin on Fin Family Moominbeach. The tracks are long gone. I don’t even think they were there when I was a little kid. Time hurries on…

The photo is pixelated because I took it that day in 2000 with our newfangled Sony Mavica digital camera. It saved photos to a floppy disk. Remember those? I had to remember to keep a good supply of blank floppies around because I think those things held maybe 40 photos at the most. They filled up quick. And I knew jack-doodly about Photoshop back then. I think some free version of it came on our strawberry iMac. I couldn’t even figger out what a layer was, fer kee-reist. So my photos were largely unprocessed. It was a good old camera but time hurries on…

The day I took this picture was an amazing day when three generations of Fins and some of our friends hiked a road/canal that a developer had blasted through some conservancy land adjacent to our land. At the time of our hike, the DNR had stopped the road but later on they were bought off or whatever people do to assuage the DNR and the road continued and we now have new neighbors where there was only wildlife before. We are coping. At least it isn’t condos. Or Walmart. Time hurries on…

It was a wonderful hike and I have a lot more photos from it and I think maybe I’ll repost them one of these days. But not today. For one thing, I don’t have time to reprocess the pictures. For another thing, I have to rephrase some of the angry captions I wrote back in that time. We aren’t happy about the road or having new neighbors but, as we have no choice, we need to be friendly and not act like somebody stabbed us through the heart or something. Time hurries on…

The photo I didn’t get.

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Nope. There is not a great blue heron in this rather fuzzy photo of fog on the river at Barton Dam. We stumbled out of the house and into the Dogha just after seven this morning. And I mean stumbled. The driver (I won’t say who it was but it wasn’t me) was all ready to go with the engine running but apparently figgered he could just lift the Dogha up into the air and drive *over* Mouse’s vee-hickle (formerly known as the CLBHCWTYFITB) behind it in the driveway. Not. So. MUCH fumbling around with various keys and doors and locks ensued and then ANOTHER trip back in for my camera. Because how the heck could I forget my camera? And we were [finally] off.

We parked at the Bird Hills Park trailhead and picked our way along the trails in the dark. It was just getting light when we got down to Barton Dam. I stopped to pull out my camera (the one I went back inside to get) so I could catch the fog on the river and *there*, 10 feet in front of me was a great blue heron. Alas, it flew off a split-second before I could get my camera up and focused. So you get this fuzzy photo instead. You can click on it for more, but you won’t see any herons. Sorry.

Anyway, we crossed the river on Barton Dam, then walked the tracks to Bandemer Park, crossing the river again. Walked the woods trail to Argo Park, then over to the Northside Grill for breakfast. After breakfast the fog had dissipated and the sun shone out of a cloudless sky. We crossed back over the river on Argo Dam and returned via the cement trail on the other side back to Bandemer, then back across Barton Dam and up through Bird Hills back to the trailhead. About three and a half hours to do the whole thing, including breakfast. And there will be a quiz on all this at the end, so I hope y’all were paying attention.

Note to self: explore Bird Hills in more detail instead of just bashing through it at top speed. It used to be grazing land and that’s a bit hard to imagine given that it is totally filled with tall trees today.

Quiz? What quiz? You guys, I was just kidding. I’m not even totally exactly sure where the heck I walked today. I mean, I know where I walked but I couldn’t tell you when one park turned into the next one. I am glad our waterfront is being turned into parkland and that there is (are? Mouse?) a variety of trails, some more rustic than others. Sunday evening. Folk music on the radio. Work tomorrow. Another day.

Updating in response to comments: Bird Hills was logged in the late 1800s, then served as grazing land until the 1920s. So, by the time The Marquis moved into the adjacent neighborhood in the 1970s, there were definitely tall trees. There’s more but I hesitate to post it until I have done some decent research.

Northside grill

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Yassa Poulet, robot eyes, and ferries from the past

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Oh I dunno. Where was I? I am in a mess in this rickety old landfill. It was a beautiful day and I could’ve easily spent it hiking or raking leaves but Saturdays here on the Planet are work days. Days that I tink around with little stuff, cook ahead if I am inspired enough to and chip away at whatever shambling mound I’m currently trying to reduce. And that can vary wildly from week to week or day to day or moment to moment. There are just too many mounds upon mounds of shambling mounds.

So. What progress? I managed to chip away at extraneous paperwork. Shh! Do NOT tell the GG about this. He has printouts of computer programs from about the 1970s. The paper is yellow. And no, I did NOT throw any of those out. Then I got to working on the old electronical crap. I collected an old monitor, CPU, two printers, and a box full of keyboards and things to take to the recycling center. It didn’t akshully get TAKEN to the recycling center, mind you. Just collected into a “staging” area. And there’s more where that came from. AND. I found an Epson box and I thought, “I will just break that box up and recycle it.” Except when I opened the box, I found a PRINTER in pristine, never-been-used condition. A C84, just like the one we’re using now. Even the ink cartridges are in it. Wrapped in plastic. So if the economy keeps on tanking and the world as we know it ends and we are all foraging for food out in the forest, WE will have a brand spanking new printer!

And the photos… Boy howdy, how the heck did I get into this mess! I remember starting out putting all of our photos into albums of various sorts and saving the negatives in envelopes and labeling those envelopes with the year and sometimes even the month or whatever. I am not entirely sure when it all broke down. At some point, pictures stopped getting put into albums. And we would pirate pictures that WERE in albums for school projects and they would never quite get put back properly. It was okay, we had the negatives, right? Roight. Somewhere. And then we switched into digital photography and you would think that it would be easier to keep track of your photos if they were on your computer. But not.

And then. There are the photos and slides and negatives that I am taking a little bit at a time from The Commander to scan. I was scanning some slides labeled something like “1952 logging” this afternoon and what popped up but the old car ferry that used to transport us across the Straits of Mackinac before the Mackinac Bridge got built. The ship’s name is, of all things, Vacationland. Which is a little weird for me since my whole life has been spent schlepping back and forth to and from the Yoop over the Straits of Mackinac. Vacation? Yes. And no. But it’s all okay and life is cool here on the Planet this weekend.

Fire in the backyard? Hike Bird Hills and Barton early tomorrow? Yeah.

Kayak Woman

Commuting by kayak.

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Or not. I have done that a few times in my dreams. I have bizarre dreams. In one of them, I was kayaking to *high school* — yes, I was back in high school — across Fin Family Moominbeach bay, through slush. My “high school” was on Cedar Point. I did not have to kayak all the way to Sault Ste. Siberia. I guess that dream was a composite of some of my usual haunts, which primarily involve bizarre shoreline changes and real-estate developers with a few traveling-type nightmares and some ghosts thrown in. I actually had a *good* dream last night, something about receiving $10,000 from our house insurance company to redo the kitchen and being able to use $9000 of it free and clear, no strings attached. Yeah KW. In your dreams. Sheesh, where’d that come from?

I don’t commute by kayak though. I commute by Honda Express. I was ready for today to end. I spent the entire day perusing a bazillion-page document that directly affects my own upcoming bazillion page document and it was interesting for about five hours and then… Not really the best thing for a Friday afternoon. But that isn’t interesting enough to blahg about. And then I got home and the A2 Snooze had all kinds of things in it that I thought were interesting: PiHi students getting suspended for publishing a satiric newspaper, autistic kids (anywhere) being put in time-out rooms (read: closets) for “misbehavior”, and the MEAP test, and I fergit what else, which is probably a good thing. I have opinions about those things but I don’t have a whole lot of experience or expertise, so I think I will siddown, shaddup, and read (write?) for the time being.

But my commute home today was gorgeous. I drive by our little airport every day and I am fascinated by watching its traffic. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t take much. Our airport accommodates a lot of light planes and the occasional charter jet. Sometimes there’s a helicopter or a blimp. I know very little about flying planes but I did fly with my dad a lot when I was a kid, so I am aware that planes are directed to take off and land in different directions or on different runways. Wind direction and what not. Today was a red-letter day! On my commute home, I watched a beautiful charter-type jet land and several prop planes of various sizes take off. I even rolled my window down so I could hear the sound of the jet taxi-ing (whoooooosh) and the smaller planes taking off.

I did *not* take this photo while driving by the A2 airport. When I drive by the airport, I am usually in stop-and-go traffic and if I started taking pictures, I might rear-end someone. Not a good thing. I took the pic up on Fin Family Moominbeach back in September. I *think* it is one of those fire-fighting planes. Not sure. Ontario anyway. Update: I was right (of course!) but I was too lazy to look it up. But the ever inquisitive Dogmomster was channeling the Engineer, so she did and it is indeed a firefighting plane. They sometimes practice in the upper St. Mary’s and this one was shooting landings but not scooping water, at least not that I saw.

Sidewalk Batman

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

So, it’s Thursday and that means it’s kind of almost the end of the week and, when I left work today, I was in the middle of a little Javascript thing that might better wait until tomorrow morning, at which time I will whip out my little Javascript sword and knock it out quick-like. And not blow the home page away, which is what I did at the end of the afternoon and had to back the dern thing out. And I don’t think anyone noticed. Except my boss has an interesting habit of running into known errors before they are fixed, so we’ll see tomorrow. It’s okay, that’s his job. It’s also his job to decide whether to say anything to his employees or not, so we’ll see about that too. It’s prob’ly hard to be my boss and have to manage old bags like me. Herding cats… Mrrrr-yeeeeooooow, etc.

So, what do we eat tonight? Last Thursday night, we had breakfast dinner but that won’t quite work the same way this week because we are now almost totally outta food. So, I came home from work and walked over to the Plum and I am now trying to figger out something like the gorgeous one-dish pasta meal that Uber Kayak Woman made last Saturday night at Radical Betty’s. I will probably not duplicate it very well, mainly because I am standing at the chitchen counter blahgging instead of paying attention to the stove. Oh well.

Anyway, getting home today was almost like running a gauntlet and this is only the Planet Ann Arbor, I hear that LA and NY and about a billion other larger cities are much worse. The odd thing was that getting from work to the freeway was uncharacteristically traffic-free. At the other end it was jammed and I had to wait through about three lights at the left turn from Jackson onto N. Maple. It was almost like a seiche (google it). The traffic had tipped from the southern side of town to the northwest.

I dunno. It is Thursday and I guess I don’t have much to talk about, so I am done. And that is how Thursdays often are.

Kayak Woman

Don’t take Carrie to the prom

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Is history repeating itself? One of the beach urchins told me today that someone told her she looked like Sissy Spacek. You know. Carrie? Right? The one you don’t take to the prom because mayhem will ensue and blood will spurt all over hell and gone? Oh, just google “don’t take carrie to the prom”. You’ll find it.

It was a 1976 movie. I know. I just googled it. Actually, I *saw* the movie back in 1976 or whenever it was that Carrie made it to the little yooper podunk town of Sault Ste. Siberia. I am pretty sure that I saw it with Uber Kayak Woman. For whatever random reason, we were both there at the same time and I was a little surprised that she suggested it because it didn’t seem like the kind of movie she might be interested in at the time. But we went. And afterwards, we went to one of the local Siberian barrooms and about all I remember (or think I remember) about that was a lot of wild dancing jumping up and down and careering around and yelling intelligent things like, “BARROOM!” Or maybe that was a different time. But probably not. Akshully, it was prob’ly *every* time.

But then random strangers that I would run into at the grokkery store or whatever would walk up to me and say, “Hey, you look just like Carrie!” I would stand there dumbfounded for a split-second thinking “who is Carrie?” and then I’d remember all the blood streaming all over the place and I would be kind of double dumbfounded. Me? I would ask. Er, stutter stutter stutter, I am not Carrie. Of course by that time, Sissy Spacek had done some other movies too and was gaining a reputation as a pretty darn decent actress. But still. It was all sort of weird and I would look at myself in the mirror and I could sort of see what they were saying but I still really didn’t think I *really* looked like Carrie, blood or not.

This went on for 10 or 15 years but I haven’t heard it for a long time now that I am a baggy old moom who talks to herself and knocks people over with her cart in the grokkery store aisles.

So I was totally floored when I heard that someone actually said that to one of my daughters! I don’t think she looks like Carrie at all. She thinks that *I* look more like Carrie than she does. I’m not sure I have ever even told my kids about that, although it’s entirely possible that I have. I guess I’ll just give up trying to figure it out. Instead, I’ll just do a lot of wild dancing jumping up and down and careering around and yelling intelligent things like, “BARROOM!” In my back yard. Maybe it’ll scare the skunks away.

So, Have any of y’all ever been told you look like a moooooooovie star?

P.S. Oh, and heck, Sissy Spacek *is* a heckuva good actress and if y’all have never seen Carrie, you oughtta rent it! Make a party out of it. Serve Bloody Marys or something. Toast me!

Dinosaurs for pets or food!

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

So, a beach urchin I know claims that she’s going to have a dinosaur birthday this month. She will have a birthday and it may be a dinosaur birthday but it won’t be her first dinosaur birthday because, 22 years ago, I threw a dino birthday for her. I figured it’d be a hands-down hit. After all, dinosaurs were part of her routine in those days. Every afternoon, I would pack up the little rapscallion into her car seat and we would drive to the EPA and wait in the parking lot for the changing of the guard. The changing of the guard where I would go in to work and the GG would come out of work and drive the little squirt home. They had a routine when they got home. I don’t remember it all but they had to listen to the cuckoo clock. The one that I finally closed down after a little bout of insomnia. And then they would play with the train in the basement. It was an N-gauge railroad. Little tiny train cars. The little lizard would stand on a stool and very carefully and patiently place little plastic dinosaurs like the one in my hand (and trucks and airplanes and a goofy cat face that apparently rode around on a flatcar) onto moving train cars as they went by. And lift them off again. Etc. This was a baby who was well under two years old.

When birthday number two came along, I was well prepared or so I thought. The Commander and Grandroobly were here visiting. I had the dinner all planned. And the cake. Garlands and Japanese lanterns festooned the whole landfill. And there were about a brazillion presents, all wrapped up. Yeah, I know. What the heck was I thinking, buying all that crap? Anyway. This kid was *fascinated* with dinosaurs. By that time, we had books and that Wee Sing tape and we read and sang about dinosaurs all the time. And there was the dino-train in the basement. I bought some beautiful plastic dinosaurs. There were six of them. They were, oh I dunno, about 8-10″ tall. I was really proud of myself. I was so cool. She would love these things. Or not. She started to open my lumpily-wrapped dinosaur package. And then. Tyrannosaurus Rex’s head peeked out! Yikes! She was terrified! She started wrapping that package right back up! Quick! Get Tyro outta here! And then, she was afraid to open anything else!!! Now what do I do? I did a lot of really fast talking about how there were *no* more dinosaurs in any of those other packages. Wouldn’t you know, the very next thing she opened was a dinosaur puzzle! Sigh.

I won’t be at the little dinosaur’s birthday this year. I am not gonna make it out to Cali right now. I’m trying to get into a carryover situation with vacation time for next year and I just may manage that. And then we’ll see. It’s okay, I’m sure she’d rather spend her birthday with friends anyway! I did when I was that age. So, kiddo, you are maybe lucky that I can’t find those old dinos anywhere. They may be here somewhere. Or I may have given them away. I don’t remember. They were probably made in China anyway and are filled with lead. Who knows. But I was definitely wanting to send those to you, all wrapped up in a big lumpy, scary package.