Archive for November, 2008

I’ll admit it, tornado driving is worse.

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

I like snow. I like to drive. I do not like snow driving. At least not on the freeway with 10,000 gazillion other drivers. Around town? Enh. No problem. But out there on the I94 18-wheel Slogway with all the other Thanksgiving Sunday travelers? Not good. I think this comes from when I was a college kid and had to drive my crappy old rear-wheel drive Pinto wagon (remember those?) four or five hours north to the Yoop for holidays.

Lemme see. There was the time I fishtailed off the road into the median and probably the only reason I didn’t flip over was because of the two feet of soft snow that grabbed my little vee-hickle and swirled it into a [relatively] slow-motion donut. A passing trucker pulled us out and we were good to go, if a little shaken.

And then there was the time that an hour of driving through a heavy wet slushy snowstorm caused muddy slush to coat my vee-hickle’s grill. The last few hours of that drive were blessedly easy, on dry pavement. Or so I thought. Except that the bitterly cold temperatures froze the slush solid, which blocked the air flow to the engine or whatever and the poor little vee-hickle almost overheated. At least that was what a rather irate livid Grandroobly told me when I got home. Temperature gauge? Who knew? I thought you just turned on the engine, shifted into first and drove. Yes, I have long since learned there is more to it than that and now I am being punished for that sin by the Ninja, which talks to me about every single blasted perceived slight. “Fill up my tires, you old bag.” “You better go get an oil change sometime in the next five years.” Whatever happened to a simple “service engine soon” light? I suspect Grandroobly is behind this, with the diabolical Engineer providing technical expertise.

And *then* there was the time that rain turned into ice that turned the I75 SUV Speedway into an ice rink and everybody was fishtailing around like crazy and traffic slowed to around 10 mph as we all struggled to keep going in a straight line. Eventually, as the freezing rain morphed into what they call “wintry mix” these days, the overall speed increased to about 35 and just south of Gaylord my poor overworked driver’s side windshield wiper totally utterly disintegrated. I stopped at a friendly old Amoco station that still sold something besides cigarettes and pop and one of the guys replaced it for me for the price of the new wiper. I eventually arrived home safely but I’ve blocked the last 110 miles of that trip. Mackinac Bridge? Did we go over a bridge? Say what?

Today. Even though there was no precipitation when I set foot outside early this morning, I knew the weather was going to take a turn for the worse. Whistling little gusts of wind made the few remaining leaves rattle ominously in the trees. Normally I would’ve ignored all of this. This is Michigan and this is what it does here and I didn’t have anyplace I *had* to go today. But Mouse was scheduled to drive back to school today. You can’t tell your adult children what to do even when you are paying their tuition but all of my own snow drives came to the forefront of my memory and, despite my best efforts to stay calm, I was anxious and apprehensive. When I heard “winter storm warning” on the radio at around nine AM, I grabbed Froggy and made him wake her up, gently suggesting the possibility of an earlier departure than is typical. I was relieved when she agreed and so, after a coffee at the Plum Market, we topped off her tank, then she got on the I94 18-wheel Slogway and I walked home. And yes, for anyone who cares, she did encounter some nasty stuff along the way but she made it safely.

It started snowing here later and has been snowing to beat the band ever since and by the time I got done walking slipping and slithering over to the Plum Market (yes, that was my second trip there today), I resembled a soggy raccoon-eyed abominable snowman. And I am currently being spammed by a beloved nonagenarian first-time cell-phone user. It’s okay. It’s reminiscent of the twilight zone but at least she’s trying. You go, girl.

And so it goes. G’night –KW. Work tomorrow. Hi ho!

Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Y’all can scatter my ashes anywhere along the second sandbar in front of Fin Family Moominbeach and please give an extra shake onto the seat of any real estate developer’s bulldozer that might be in the vicinity.

I know that some day, I will might be faced with moving out of my beloved Landfill into some kind of other living situation. It’ll be a looooonnnnnngggg time from now but it’ll happen. If I don’t get felled by a crazed seagull on Fin Family Moominbeach. And that might be a better fate. Just leave me for the carrion birds to pick over, won’tcha please.

I don’t want to have to move to a place where I don’t know anyone and have to make new friends again. With people that I might like but can’t easily escape from just by driving off to my own home, er landfill. The landfill that has a basement and a back yard.

Speaking of driving, I do not want to ever depend on someone else to drive me anywhere. Driving is one of the things I love to do the most and I have owned my own vee-hickle since just about forever.

I don’t ever want somebody else moving my “stuff” to another place and having to decide for me what needs to be thrown out.

My thoughts about this are a bit incoherent tonight. But, since I am still a strong, independent kayak-type woman, this morning, the GG and I parked the Ninja at the top of Bird Hills and hiked that park and all over the Barton Dam trails and tracks. Click here or on the pic for more. The GG gets credit for at least half the pics.

Cerberus and Sherbutter and old beat-up telescopes on Green Friday

Friday, November 28th, 2008

What did you do on Black Friday? Me? Lemme see. Walked. Groceries at the Jackson Road Meijer. Deposited a vee-hickle insurance refund. Gas in the Ninja. *Washed* the poor, neglected mud-caked Ninja. Did a load of laundry. Cleaned the kitchen floor. Yes, really. It just looks like that because the linoleum is destroyed. Made a lasagne. Cleaned out the refrigerator. Vacuumed the steps to the basement. Cleaned the bathroom. Dusted the front room! Yes!!! The oven is in rather desperate need of cleaning but that’ll have to wait until after I bake my lasagne so I don’t gas anyone. Total damages for a Black Friday? About $95. Oh, I’ll probably walk over to the Plum Market when Dogmomster gets here. I forgot to put parmesan on my list. Not bad for Black Friday.

I don’t remember when the day after Thanksgiving started getting called Black Friday. When I was a kid it was just the day after Thanksgiving. I don’t remember any special shopping trips but then, when you live in a rugged little northern city up in the Yoop in the 1960s, it’s pretty much the same little old stores in the same little old downtown. Dime stores, JC Penney, Monkey Wards, a couple of fancier clothing stores and I can’t even remember what else off-hand. It was still pretty exciting going shopping but not enough to get up at four o’clock in the morning or whatever. Actually, sometimes I went shopping with a friend *on* Thanksgiving Day over in Canada where our Thanksgiving was just another Thursday.

I can’t say I have never gone shopping on Black Friday. Actually, last year, we spent Thanksgiving at Houghton Lake and then spent Black Friday in Petoskey, shopping in the gaslight district. I don’t think we bought anything, not even lunch, but I love Petoskey and the drive there is always gorgeous.

I don’t get the whole lining up outside Best Buy at midnight though. I was dead on the couch in front of House re-runs at 8:30 last night. I dunno how people do it. They must not get up until noon on Thanksgiving. I don’t generically dislike Big Box stores (or even WollMort for that matter). They can be useful under some circumstances. What I don’t like are crowds and long waits at checkout counters. I don’t care about sales and special deals unless it’s something I need. And I don’t really need anything right now. Well, I need some clothes rather desperately but I really need to buy my own (gulp) and I’m not going to find anything I want at Walmart at 12:01 AM on Black Friday. Ditto the new Landfill kitchen. And some new trees and things.

I need to get rid of things. And that’s a hard, on-going slog that I’ve been blathering about a lot lately. But that’s why, when someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I get a little green around the gills. I used to be able to make little “moom’s cheep xmas lists” but nowadays I have everything and then some. If somebody buys me something *new*, I have to expend the effort to get rid of something already owned. So I just don’t know.

I hereby declare that henceforth, the day after Thanksgiving will be known as Green Friday. Have a good one!

Grok grok grok squee-grok! We’re goin’ t’ Alferony’s house! Grok grok!

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

You are not using words. You are screaming. And I can’t help you if you do not use words.

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Sigh. I got let outta work a wee bit early today (shh) and, after I got home, I walked over to the Plum Market and I was just wandering around having fun and checking things out and I went down this one aisle and a kid in a grokkery cart was screaming and his young, beautiful, patient mom was saying what I wrote in the title. In a quiet, carefully controlled voice. I dunno. I understand what she was doing. But.

Back in the Dark Ages, I tried to do that kind of stuff too. It wasn’t easy and when one of my kids got into meltdown, that’s just where we were. I remember once when Lizard Breath was a baby and I didn’t have Mouse yet, I took Lizard Breath downtown shopping for *hours* one Friday morning. I didn’t work on Fridays in those days and that was the time to shop. After a couple hours of that, we were on our penultimate errand at the bank and a well-meaning grandmotherly type of person asked me what was wrong with my baby. You know, because the little lizard didn’t respond to the grandmotherly-type person’s overtures in a very friendly manner. I explained that we had been shopping all morning and this was our last errand and my baby needed to get home. And, what the heck, so did I!

I had mixed feelings watching that mom deal with her kid today. I mean, she was right in what she said but sometimes kids just get to the point where they have totally maxed out and are out of control and screaming is all they can do. They can’t *use* words. And you are stuck at the grokkery store with your screaming kid because that’s the only time you can get to the blasted store because there’s nobody around to take care of your kid while you slowly cruise the [up-scale] grokkery store aisles. Like I can do now. Or even send my children (when they’re around) out to do it for me.

My Mouse is safely home for Thanksgiving. My Lizard has plans with her friends in her SanFran home. Sometimes I wonder how we all got where we are now from back in the old days.

G’night and Happy Thanksgiving,
KW, who has more than her share to be thankful for (knock on wood)

“May I see your ID, Ma’am?”

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Kee-reist! “Thank you for asking,” said the old crotchedy kayak woman to the friendly, perky young clerk at Cost Plus. I was buying whine and she looked like she was about 15 but she must’ve been 18 or over or she wouldn’t’ve been able to check me out. And she has probably been told by her management to CHECK EVERYBODY!!! Of course, I was cheerful about handing over my driver’s license. Birthdate 1954. Over 21 since almost forever. Youngest child 21 since last April. Hey, we can send Mouse out to buy booze, we said, and laughed about that, and we did ask, and she complied. On her bicycle, no less. So, I was asked for my driver’s license today, buying whine for Thanksgiving at Dogmomster’s and for throughout the holiday season. I am 54. I have thick bushy blonde/gray hair. It is uncolored. My hair is longer than I would like it but I need my Mouse to cut it for me. I am not as thin as I would like to be and I have never been very flexible (i.e., I could *never* put my legs behind my head like UKW did when we were kids). But I am strong and I have a lot of stamina and I move fast and usually not too klutzily. Usually being the operative word. I don’t have a whole lotta wrinkles (er, check back with me when I meet my bathroom mirror tomorrow morning). Arthritis? No.

It’s been a long time since I have been carded and I know the kid that carded me has probably been told to card everyone who looks like they might be under 70 or something like that. I don’t care. Thanks, kiddo!

Kill ’em all ‘n’ let God sort ’em out

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Okay, don’t take the title too seriously. I don’t really think that. It was on a t-shirt that the GG obtained sometime back in the dark ages and we put it on Mouse when she was about a year and a half because. Well, because it sorta fit at that time. Mouse grew up and nowadays she would be the last person to kill any kind of living being, except maybe for a mosquito or a biting fly. But I was thinking about this today because there are so many people I don’t understand. This is what I am upset about. [Sorry about all the blinking, flashing ad content. I think the mLive website is horrible too. Have faith and scroll down. It’s worth reading.]

Here’s the synopsis, but read the article because I may not have all of the details straight. An 83-year-old WWII vet has lived in his home way out in the country for umpteen million years. It is an old farmhouse, not one o’ them thar McMansions. His wife is dead, there are no children. A “utility person” with a hard hat and *Illinois* license plates (in Michigan, say what?) approaches him and says he is supposed to run waaaars down to this man’s back meadow and build a generator there. What? They spend some time out there “surveying” the land and the hardhat *#%hole seems to be stalling and then they get back to the house and there’s an unfamiliar crowbar on the table and (hello!) an accomplice appears. Hard Hat kicks the octo down the basement stairs and beats him up for *hours* while Accomplice searches the house for money. Octo states repeatedly that there is no money and eventually Accomplice gives up looking for it so they leave him for dead. Octo isn’t dead though. He actually *walked* to a neighbor’s house and although they didn’t even recognize him at first (because of being beaten up), they eventually called 911.

As the article says, the octogenarian is recovering, after surgery. But kee-reist. The problem is that this stuff is not new. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. People, ESPECIALLY you who are our beloved elders, do NOT open the door unless you absolutely know the person on the other side. If you don’t know that person, do NOT open the door. If they persist, call the blasted police. If someone you aren’t sure about tries to talk to you outside your house, call the blasted police. Please stay safe. We love you.

Oh, that pic? It’s a deadhead that I got on one my few kayak rides at Fin Family Moominbeach this summer. It was too windy for kayaking on most days. And I didn’t notice that, um, gesture until I cropped the pic today. It is certainly appropriate for this entry. Be safe y’all.

New title: Lions lose again

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Well, I am not a football fan and an indoor football stadium is just about the last place you would find me on a brilliant bone-rattlingly cold November Sunday afternoon. The highlight of my day so far was walking over to the Plum Market shortly after it opened this morning and actually spending a little time wandering the aisles instead of my usual mad grab and dash. Beautiful fresh rosemary for goat cheese tarts ala Elizilla (here’s hoping I don’t screw up the crust). Prepared vegetarian dolmades, chips and guacamole, and a couple of salads for people that need after work snacks. A rainbow colored whisk. A whisk that I do *not* need. How many whisks do I have? How much crud, crap, corruption, and cosmic debris do I have in my house? What was I just blathering about yesterday? But it was nice to slow down for once and the sun was shining and nobody was grumpy. Actually I’m going to guess that everybody who might’ve been grumpy was probably still asleep.

So things were going along in a nice quiet Moom-alone kind of way until about mid-afternoon, when a replacement window salesman came up the driveway. I saw him from my window-seat and met him at the door, which seemed to scare him out of his skin. I was off my game and didn’t manage to get a firm “No thank you!!!” in before he started blabbering away, “have you ever thought of replacing those windows?” Folks, we have lived in this ramshackle dump for 24 (count ’em!!) years. Those windows were not new when we moved in and I actually like them. Believe it or not! Maybe someday we will have to replace them. But it has got to be obvious that we are not in any kind of a hurry and, when we do finally get around to replacing those windows, we will NOT be hiring the first door-to-door scammer that comes along. And I don’t believe that all my neighbors are getting replacement windows from you either. In fact, if you are bothering any of my elderly neighbors… Well. Hey, Frooggy? Where’s my flame-thrower?

I do NOT give money to ANYONE who knocks on my door for any reason but the door-to-door types that drive me the craziest are the environmental folks. I almost always agree with their cause. Fervently, even! But they always manage to insult me. Pontificating away about cause du jour as if I were some kind of illiterate door-knob. As I work to get a (“No thank you!!”) word in edgewise, my overloaded brain goes off on a festival of free-association tangents: where was your organization when Ganzhorn stole “my” land and the Wetlands Drainage Canal was built? None of this stuff is logical or coherent and I don’t say it out loud but I probably look a little glazed over, so pretty soon the solicitor at the door (yes, you guys are solicitors) actually looks at me in my stupor and asks *solicitously*, “Do you *know* anything about water conservation (or whatever)?” Um, duh? I have learned to answer, “Yes, I know how to read!” In a pretty darn sarcastic voice. Kee-reist! Who the heck do they think I am anyway. I may live under a blasted rock but my rock has newspapers and magazines and radio and even TV if I feel like turning that dern thing on. And whaddya call those tubes again?

You guys. Door to door sales or solicitations are *not* the way to go these days. How the heck do I know if you are actually selling something legitimate or if you are a serial killer.

If you (like me) are struggling with all of the issues swirling around the bailout of The Big Three, here is an eloquent essay from a better writer than I’ll ever be. I first ran across it last week and since have seen links to it from a few other different little corners of the internet so maybe it’s gone viral. If so, it is a good blog and bravo for giving us something to think about besides a bunch of stupid sound bites.

Click here or on the pic of the GG to see a few more pics from yet another losing Dee-troit Lions game. I say that with whatever affection I can muster for a football team. But with much affection for the city itself.

Good night,
Kayak Woman

“Just because it once belonged to someone doesn’t mean it’s valuable.” — The Beautiful Gay

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

I think that the Michigan/Ohaaaaaao State football game is an excellent time to go down into the dungeon, pick my way through the crud, crap, and corruption into an oubliette and dredge up some 24- to 80-year-old flotsam, jetsam, and cosmic debris. Give it the old heave ho. Those who actually watch football around here started out in the usual Michigan/Ohaaaaaao State mode. Jumping up every five minutes to do, well, I dunno exactly, just sorta rummage around the house randomly getting into my desperately needed Saturday moom-alone space. Except. I guess Valdemort said it best on Twitter: “don’t worry, they’re both playing like crap!!” It’s a simple enough sentence but hours later, it is still cracking me up because I can *hear* her saying it. Anyway, I guess they were both playing like crap, because pretty soon, the landfill football fan started snoozin’ and all was quiet for a long enough time that I was able to get rid of a whole bunch of old floppy disks and some empty paint cans.

So look at the box of floppy disks I dredged up! What you see on the top is just the tip of the iceberg. And in that handy-dandy little floppy disk holder in the front, there is even a divider with a label that says “Bad Disks”. Why are we saving those things? I do not know. We bought the strawberry iMac in 1999 and we’d had it for a little while and then one day, I wanted to upload some photos from the digital camera that we had back in those days and (hello!) there was no floppy drive on the strawberry iMac. And that was a problem because that digital camera stored photos on a floppy disk. Really! (I swear, I have typed “floopy” instead of “floppy” every time I’ve typed that word throughout this whole entry including the last time.) Anyway, I am a geek and I figgered it out.

Anyway. Today. For once, I had the psychic energy on Finding good clairvoyants online after i started tackling some of all that cosmic debris that we’ve been saving over the 24 years we’ve lived in this crappy old landfill. I am not going to crow about it much because tomorrow is another day and I may be totally uninspired by then. But I’m trying. And I’ll *force* myself to get back to it. I do NOT want my kids to have to clean up after us some day. I am not planning to go anywhere anytime soon, except maybe over to Trader Joe’s tomorrow. But I know how this goes. If you don’t get rid of your crap when you are young, all of a sudden you are in your eighties (or nineties as quite a few of my ancestors have managed to get to) and you really *don’t* have the kind of steam that’s required to take care of it. Now is the time. We are going to slim down our possessions. Lean and mean is the name of the game.

So, it was a really bad day in the world of Michigan football but we’re used to bad news here in the beautiful and resource-rich Great Lake State (sorry, couldn’t resist that). And I could care less about football but tomorrow, the GG is going to a *Lions* game. Yup. The Dee-troit Lions. Hope there’s a place for him to snooze.

Finally, if you are from Ohio and have randomly surfed here, do NOT getchyer underwear up in a bunch about my use of “Ohaaaaao”. I have nothing against Ohio. I haven’t spent a whole lot of time *in* Ohio but I know that trips up and down the I75 SUV Speedway do nothing to make that state endearing to anyone. It’s the flyway to Florida and back. I have been off the freeway though, just a little, and I found the back roads to be absolutely beautiful. I have spent a little time in Cleveland and I liked that city too. Yes, I did. I am just being silly when I say “Ohaaaaao”.

Champagne in styrofoam cups

Friday, November 21st, 2008

I am totally fried tonight. Click on the pic for more photos of the short but beautiful trail that I can walk from my work. Ice was forming on the ponds today.

I just don’t know. There is much that I don’t know. And I just don’t know.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

So, after all of that blustery ranting yesterday, the GG made one phone call and the building issue is hereby resolved. No inspection needed. I have no idea what they’ll do to our tax assessment this year. I am not gonna worry about it.

So I am done blustering around and I’ll leave that to Ol’ Man Winter who blew and blew and blew and threw snow squalls at us and I slipped on my first patch of ice for the year but it was just a bitsy little patch and I only slipped an inch or two and I did not fall flat on my back and hit my head and that is a good thing. Today was an intense day of writing at work and about all I have left in me now is random blather. As Lizard Breath will probably say, “I can tell when it’s one of *those* days, Moom.”

It is probably a good thing that I am not mixed up with running the government because I just have no idea about what to do with the Big Three. I remember going to Detroit to visit Funny Grandaddy and Bolette when I was a little kid. They actually lived *in* the city of Detroit back then. They had a beautiful old house on an elm-lined street and they had all kinds of neat stuff from their trip around the world in their basement. And they had a breakfast nook! I loved breakfast nooks and I can still remember sitting there waiting for the toast to pop up, talking to Bolette. She was my step-grandmother, my real grandmother died in a car accident long before I was born. But I always felt like Bolette loved me like I was her own granddaughter (she didn’t have her own children). She had been a teacher and when she asked me questions about my school, she actually *listened* to the answers. I loved that because I liked school but I was usually bored there and most grown-ups were too busy to listen to me.

We would all pile into Funny Grandaddy’s Cadillac (boys in the front, girls in the back, no carseats anywhere) and head to the Henry Ford Museum or Greenfield Village or that newfangled Northland shopping center or downtown to look at all the skyscrapers. Being from Sault Ste. Siberia, I was fascinated with skyscrapers. I think our biggest building up in Siberia was six stories. And Funny Grandaddy had a Cadillac with actual push-button windows! That was back in the early 60s, It wasn’t until I bought the POC in 1996 that I owned my own vee-hickle with push-button windows!

Funny Grandaddy and Bolette moved out to Birmingham after the Dee-troit riots in 1967. It was just too hard and maybe dangerous for an elderly white couple to live there any more. 14 mile was a lot safer than 8 mile and they had lived way south of 8 mile.

All I am trying to say is that, although I have never lived in Day-twa, I have memories of when it was still a beautiful, bustling, vibrant city. When my parents and grandparents could still take us to some of the places they went when they were young and I wasn’t born. Nowadays, so much of it is just a bombed out city and killing The Big Three will only make it worse. Not to mention all of the people throughout the country whose personal finances will be derailed by the death of the auto industry. On the other hand, there are a number of good reasons that I fly Honda Express. We can start with the POC. But I just don’t know.

I didn’t even get a blasted skylight out of it!

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Oh, don’t worry, it didn’t happen again. I’m talking about last April when the neighbors’ tree fell on Mouse’s bedroom. Nobody was home. Mouse was at school and we were driving up the I75 SUV Speedway to Da Yoop. Because we love blizzards so much that we just had to try to catch one more. And we did. Anyway. Unlike the *last* tree that fell on our house, this one didn’t actually come down through the roof into the house. As near as I can figure out, it hit the roof and bounced off. Or something like that. Damage? Oh, I dunno, about $35K or thereabouts.

The damage was limited, if I can even use that word in this situation, to exterior stuff and Mouse’s bedroom. As extensive as it was, it didn’t affect our day-to-day activities very much. Working kitchen and bathroom and utilities, etc. Just a pain in the you-know-what to have to deal with it all. Eventually, the roof and the trusses and the plaster and whatever else were fixed and we settled up with the insurance company and the contractor and slogged on. So, what was stuck in the door when I got home from work yesterday? This notice from the Planet Ann Arbor Building Department:

Our records indicate that the Building Department issued a permit for either a new house, an addition, remodeling or some other type of construction. Interior inspection and/or measurements are needed to complete the appraisal of your house for the 2009 assessment year. Please contact blah blah blah….

New house? Um, can’t you see that this is not a new house? Remodel? I wish! Come ah-uh-ah-uh-ahnnn in, Mr. City Inspector. Take a good long look at the ugliest kitchen on earth (check it out on YouTube) and the junk-filled, rodent-infested dungeon. The One and Only Blue Toilet and the crumbling blue tile floor that surrounds it. Complete with a mushroom that grows in one of the corners. It’s obviously a hardy species, it’s been around since 1984. While you’re at it, you can admire our loverly decor: Student Ghetto/Early Inlaw. That green couch is probably 80 years old! According to the GG, every person in his family has been sick on it. As of Christmas 2005, that includes your favorite blahgger!

Seriously, Mr. City Inspector, I would *love* to do some remodeling. Maybe when we get done paying the last two small private liberal arts college tuition bills? And finish paying ourselves back for the Ninja Vee-hickle? Kitchen? I am chompin’ at the bit. For now, noooooo, we did not add anything on to the blasted house. Don’t those building permits tell you what kind of work was done? I sure hope that disaster recovery reconstruction doesn’t equal higher property tax.

You guys, I did not even get a blasted skylight out of it!

obsequious sycophants and untrained trophy dogs

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Yeah. Yaknow? Just because I have been acquainted with you since our kids were in elementary school together, it’s not okay. Just because we are always friendly to each other when we pass each other on the sidewalk in the schoolyard in the early morning dark, it’s not okay. Just because I am not afraid of dogs, it is not okay. Just because I like dogs and am friendly to your dogs even as they are jumping up on me and one of them is snarling at me, it’s not okay.

Okay. I like dogs. I had Tigger when I was a kid and she was the best dog EVER and she was one of my best friends. Sometimes when Laurie and I were “mad” at each other (grrrr), Tigger was my only friend.

Most dogs like me too. There was my old friend Sam (er, do I need say that he was not the archaeologist Sam?). My brother would leave him with me up at Fin Family Moominbeach for a week or so many summers. Actually, I’m not sure how much Sam liked me, really. Whenever my brother would be packing up to leave, Sam would go and hang out by whatever vee-hickle The Engineer happened to be driving at the moment. “A dog and his car,” The Engineer used to say, in a mock-mournful voice. The Engineer would leave and Sam would spend the whole week totally ignoring any kind of command I tried to give him. But he would sure be around for food and hugs and things. I guess I was an okay substitute. Old Sam and The Engineer have gone over the horizon and Ernie and King Alfred are replacements for Old Sam and, I dunno, they really need their own post. But I am definitely part of their pack. One of them obeys my commands and I can pick the other one up if he gets out of hand. If I can catch him!

I am not afraid of dogs but there are breeds that I don’t trust as a matter of form. If a golden retriever jumps on me or even knocks me down (and that’s happened) I’m not afraid. Goldens are big dogs but they are usually friendly. If I see a dog that looks like it has shepherd or pit bull baked into it and there is no owner around, I am wary. The group of dogs I encountered this morning included three goldens and a kind of wolf-looking dog. Shepherd? I’m not sure. Every time I have come within 25 yards of the wolf-looking dog since forever, it has growled and snapped and barked at me and the owners always rather insipidly say, “Rover (not its real name), come on, stop that.” The goldens? They just jump on me.

Yaknow. At 0-dark-30 in the morning, I am not particularly interested in mixing it up with your beautiful, untrained trophy dogs. I love your dogs from a distance. If they can’t keep a distance from me, you need to keep them tightly leashed.

Hereya go, unkly uncly uncle.

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Or however you spell that. Mrs. Commander or Dogmomster, do y’all have any ideas? Just kidding, you guys.

Anyway, way back on Saturday, when we were up at Houghton Lake and decided that it wouldn’t be prudent to go hiking in the woods on the opening day of the firearms deer hunting season, we took a drive instead. We drove back roads up to the ski ranch and then we made our way over to the other side of the tracks west side of US127 and wound our way through snow showers on more muddy back roads checking things out. Missaukee County is a beautiful area and at any other season of the year, we drive through there and see very little traffic. Opening day of deer season? We shared the road with many, many hunters. It was a festive atmosphere and everyone was friendly. Lots of multi-generational hunting expotitions by the looks of it.

If anyone ever gets tired of looking at great big ugly boxy McMansions in carefully groomed former farm fields, go and take a tour of Missaukee County. I dunno. About the only time you ever hear about Missaukee County is when there’s a tornado warning there. And that’s sad because it is a beautiful county with lots of forested land and the Deadstream Swamp. How many black bears are in there? So, the area we were driving in looks a little like Deliverance. You will see a few sorta decent looking, well-kept houses around. Mostly ranch style or “Dragon houses” as Grandroobly used to call double-wide trailer houses, an old banker with many years of experience appraising pieces of property. Well-kept-up houses are in the minority and, at least in the area where we were driving, there was very obvious poverty everywhere. This is despite the fact that there are WORKING OIL WELLS absolutely everywhere in that county.

I don’t even begin to understand economics but it seems like everywhere we go in mid-northern-Michigan, there are oil wells. What is going on here? And why does our beautiful Great Lake State with all of its resources continue to have such a hard time. Who is getting the money from all of those oil wells?

Anyway, we photographed this piece of property. I am pretty sure it was abandoned, otherwise I’d’ve been reluctant to photograph it. Does anyone know what the heck that old rusted out vee-hickle is? The Engineer probably wouldda been able to say what it was and when it was made and how many of them he had seen on the highway and how many times they changed the engine. But he’s not here and I dunno.

Four customers and counting

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

I promised the UU* that I would post a photo of his favorite scene from the weekend but then we were driving home and THIS happened and I gave the GG my iPhone so he could take a picture. ’cause y’all would NOT want me to be taking a picture while driving in THIS stuff, roight? Anyway, the picture doesn’t show what it was really like out there. It was as dark as if Armageddon was descending and there was so much blasted snow in the air that I could hardly see anything. Whiteout. Yes. On November 16th. This is Michigan and it does snow here. And I am more than okay with that. Except when I have to traverse the highways with all the other morons who are stoopid enough to be out there in the snow.

It wasn’t like this all the way down. For the first two-thirds of the trip, we switched back and forth between intense snow squalls and blinding sunlight. We got through the dreaded Lansing interchange and we were on I96 and there was quite a bit of traffic but the road was mainly wet and anybody who wasn’t going some insane speed like 80 mph and weaving in and out of traffic wouldda been just fine. But apparently there were some geniuses who pushed the envelope and a couple cars were off the road and it seemed like everybody kept hitting their brakes. Don’t tailgate! Duh. So I bailed at the Williamston exit and jumped down to [beloved] Holt Road, which was pretty slushy but at least nobody else was on it. Then. I got to M52. It was okay at first. Just above Stockbridge, it got ugly. It got worse between Stockbridge and Chelsea and just about the time we were getting to the area of North Territorial Road, I said to the GG, “where the heck ARE we?” I could not see a thing.

Things improved once again and we made it home safely to the Planet Ann Arbor. And, I dunno, sometimes it seems like I write about driving an awful lot but what can I say? I drive a lot. And I am outta steam. Again. I’m posting and Mrs. Commander or Dogmomster or anyone is welcome to correct my grammer grammar and syntax, etc., if they want. Hey Froggy, what the heck kind o’ food do we have around here anyway?

Kayak Woman

* UU = the Uncliest Uncle. How many of y’all were thinking that I was talking about the Unitarian Church? The UU is the GG’s twin. They are identical and they were are holy terrors. I have that on record via their late Aunt Gale. Yes, it’s spelled Gale. Like the wind, she used to say.

If you can read this, you are within range. No trespassing.

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

The plan for today was a long hike in the woods. Rain or shine. Or snow. Whatever. We were ready. Until yesterday morning. One of my co-workers, in random conversation, mentioned that this Saturday (that’s today) was the opening of the firearm deer season. Duh. Why did I not remember that?

I am not anti-hunting. I am not even against guns. I know some o’ y’all are. We’ll have to agree to disagree. I have never shot a gun myself and I don’t have any particular interest in shooting anything but a camera. Er, except for the time back in the 1990s when some *$#-hole serial killer was hanging around in the vicinity of my walking route beating women to a pulp and leaving them for dead. At that time, I was ready to train every woman on the Planet Ann Arbor to use a gun and station them at every corner. I also knew how ridiculous that pipe dream was. But I was angry about having to live my life in fear of such a mentally wounded human being.

Hunting? I *personally* could not kill an aminal* for sport and I think it would take me some time to get used to killing aminals for food if I needed to. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with hunting because my family didn’t hunt. Except for one thankfully unsuccessful goose-hunting expotition by a pajama-clad Grandroobly but that’s a whole ‘nother story and probably a better one. I do know that hunters are not bad people and by far, most of them are responsible about following hunting rules and regs and gun safety practices.

But every segment of the population has its outliers and I know that there are always a few amateur or inexperienced deer hunters/gun users out there who may not know all the rules or may be a little quick to pull the trigger. And we won’t even talk about alcohol here. Which I am also not against (uh, bartender, I’ll have a manhattan, please). But there is a certain festive atmosphere that happens up here at the start of the firearms deer season and it’s all fun but I don’t want to be mistaken for a deer. I don’t own any blaze orange hiking gear and I decided that, this weekend, we were not gonna hike in the woods. Anywhere. The hiking season is long. It lasts most of the year. If you own some of those long skinny sticks that you put on your feet, it lasts the whole year. I’m willing to give up the woods to the deer hunters for two weeks.

* Any words mispelled on this blahg are intentional and have a long history behind them.

Couple quick updates

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

Last night’s accident on the way up here: from WILX (via the Google), only two minor injuries. In a related article, from the Lansing State Journal, accidents at that dangerous interchange are up 29% since they raised the speed limit from 55 to 70.

“Our” deer: The DNR notified us that the deer was shot. They didn’t know whether it was a bullet or an arrow.

I guess it wasn’t the worst trip ever. The Tornado Trip still gets to keep that title.

Friday, November 14th, 2008

I’d rank this trip up there somewhere in oh, I dunno, about the top 50 maybe?

It was crappy drive and it was a crappy day. And I do mean CRAPPY. There was rodent crap in my plastic food storage container drawer. There was rodent crap in my DISHTOWEL drawer. There was rodent crap in my SILVERWARE drawer. It was on the stove and behind the microwave. And in the dungeon. ALL OVER THE DUNGEON. Did I mention the spiders? No? Want me to skip over that part? I know The Commander does. Okay, I will.

Driving? We took the Lansing route. Why did we take the Lansing route? Because the Lansing route is USUALLY a little easier. There may or may not be less traffic but whatever traffic there is, is USUALLY less aggressive. We thought that since it was Friday night, the evening before the first day of rifle deer season no less, that it would be crazy to drive up the I75 SUV Speedway. We figgered that all the rifle totin’, SUV drivin’, SE MI redneck hunters would be out in full force.* Lansing route? Yes!

Or not. A nightmare of vee-hickles switching lanes left and right, refusing to move over for merging traffic, PASSING ON THE RIGHT WHEN THE RIGHT LANE IS ABOUT TO END, FER KEE-REIST!!! All in a driving rain as twilight was falling. And then. We got to Lansing. We turned north and merged onto US127. One more huge snarl of interchanges to navigate and we’d be home free heading north on a nice straight relatively quiet road. No tornadoes. No ice or snow. What’s a little rain? Nuthin’.

Except that I had just barely merged onto 127 when four or five lanes (or whatever it is) of brake lights lit up ahead of us and somebody was yelling at me that I was in the wrong gear but I wasn’t in *any* gear right at that nanosecond because I had my foot on the clutch and was madly trying to calculate which gear I *should* be in and, in the end, it turned out to be neutral with my foot on the brake, right next to the Jolly Road exit. I said, “we should get off on the Jolly Road exit. It’s right there.” I was met with dissent. We sat. And we sat. A cop car with its lights flashing went over the Jolly Road exit overpass, then made its way across the freeway and down the left shoulder, stopping about a half mile ahead. We sat. And we sat. An ambulance with its lights flashing went over the Jolly Road exit overpass, and, well you know the rest of that. It did what the cop car did. And we sat. I said. I am gonna sit here for five more minutes and if we don’t move, I am getting off on the Jolly Road exit. And so we did. And wound our way through a gauntlet of stoplights down Harrison to Trowbridge, where we were able to get back onto an EMPTY freeway.

The rest of the trip continued without incident. We only encountered one deer in the middle of the road and we didn’t hit it. And I do not think I want to know what happened back there on the freeway in Lansing. With the way people were driving today, it’s a wonder anyone ever gets anywhere in one piece. Kiddos, PLEASE BE CAREFUL!

Kayak Woman
inonepiece@Houghton Lake

* I’m stereotyping, you guys. I mean about the red necks and all. I KNOW that hunters are not all rifle totin’, SUV drivin’, SE MI rednecks. So don’t flame me.

Bus stop, wet day, she’s there, I say, “please share my umbrella.”

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Do-do-do-do doo doo, doooo doooo. Okay, I was not approached by a guy with an umbrella at a bus stop. Rather *I* had an umbrella and *I* approached a man. With a very cheery “good morning”, I might add. Actually, I wasn’t even sure from half a block away in the dark whether he was male or female, standing there with two fluffy little carefully leashed dogs. Not a regular person on my route but, as I got closer, I could see that he was just a cute little old man (read: probably not that much older than me) who was standing on the corner watching all the girls me go by. Whaling along with my umbrella. His reply to my good morning? “Are you just walking or are you walking *somewhere*?” Honestly, how the heck do I answer questions like this? Galumphing along down the middle of the street in the early morning dark trying to debrief myself from whatever nightmares I had quite recently (pre-shower) forced myself to wake up from.

I’ve blahgged about this before but I have been doing this early morning walk for many years. Three miles or so, that’s really about all I have time for. Wish it were more like six. Oh well. I am one of the regulars. Runners, dog-walkers, friends walking together. We all know each other. We sometimes share a “good morning” or a little wave. Sometimes we don’t. We are all out there doing our own thing and respect each other’s space. I don’t remember exactly when I started walking early in the morning. I think it was when both of the beach urchins were finally in high school together and Lizard was a senior with a legal parking place down there at our downtown highschool, Commie High. So they could drive to school together and I finally didn’t have to deal with a carpool or junior high bus. Four to a seat? Roight. That first year of walking, being your typical helicopter mom, I would call Lizard’s cell phone every morning at a certain point during my walk to make sure they were awake, etc.

I tried to do that wake-up call thing with Mouse and I was told in no uncertain terms to turn my engine off and shut my rotors down! Except for once when I encountered a cute little owl on my walk and wanted to tell her about it. My rotors didn’t completely shut down though and I would arrive home in time to drive her to school and when it became her turn to own a legal parking place at the school, I would start up The Indefatigable for her so it was all warmed up when she left for school. Grandroobly used to do a rather similar thing for me when I was a kid and I felt like passing it on.

I guess I am walking *somewhere* every morning but it’s beyond me to describe to a stranger *where*. Not to mention why, etc. It’s just what I do and that is all.

do do do do doo doo dooooo dooooo

In a dark, dank, dusty, moldy, rodent and spider-ridden corner of the Landfill Dungeon…

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Lives a [an?] historic workbench. Covered with old dead computers and related crap. And other stuff. Horse’s patoot anyone? Okay, some of those computers aren’t dead exactly. They just don’t do useful things like connect to the Internet. Aaaaaannnnd. A talking moose! Yes. There really is a talking moose and it lives in the system folder of that loverly little cyberbeastie sitting right there on that wonderful old historic workbench. Which can’t be used for anything, um, worky, because it is busy serving as a place to store old dead computers and related crap. And I’m back at the beginning of this paragraph, I guess.

The loverly old cyberbeastie in the picture was once a much-beloved Family Computer here at the Landfill. And it *was* a family computer. It was purchased just before the little Mouse was born. In fact, I remember once I had to call the EPA front desk to have the GG paged for some kind of buying-a-new-computer issue and telling the receptionist that I was NOT having the baby. It was just a computer thing. No emergency. But that computer is just about Mouse’s age, probably within a week.

We used that computer for more than a few years. The newborn Mouse got to be 2-1/2 and learned to play a little concentration game that came on it and even learned how to use the, uh, mouse, to navigate the top menu to get a new game. All the while standing rather precariously on a stool. The Millennial Generation in action.

The Talking Moose… Yes. One day, I walked into the “computer room” and hit the button to faaaarrr up the computer. Spronnnnnnnng Chunka-chunka-chunka-chunka. Everything was all right. Or so I thought. Just as it was about to display the desktop? Kaboom!!! Crash and burn. I did it all again. And again. And again. I called the GG. No answer. I called the EPA front desk to have him paged. No baby on the way this time. “WHY THE #$&* DOES THE *$#^ COMPUTER CRASH EVERY TIME I TRY TO START IT UP”. Yes, I was probably yelling. No, I am not proud of myself. The GG’s response: “Oh. The Talking Moose must be in the system folder again.” !!!!!!! So, what do I have to do? The answer was to dredge out that computer’s boot disk and use that to start it up. Remember those old floppy disks? Who still has those? I know I have some somewhere.

We went on with life and, several computers later, there was the Strawberry iMac shown in yesterday’s post. That was our *last* “family” computer and it went to the recycling center a couple weeks ago. But that’s a whole ‘nother story and I am outta steam for today.