Archive for April, 2009

Where is Brother Lee when we need him?

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

sunriseI’m not sure whether I have anything to say about the Chrysler bankruptcy or not. I am about as well informed about the auto industry as I am about the swine flu, which is to say not much. Mostly random reading and stories on NPR. But hearing the news today, I couldn’t help but think of a time back in the early 80s when Chrysler was going through a similar (?) crisis. Maybe all the vee-hickle companies were, I can’t quite remember. We went to the Detroit auto show that year and sitting at a table in Chrysler’s area was none other than their new CEO, Lee Iacocca. As far as I know, it is fairly unusual for an auto company CEO to present himself as accessible to the public in a public venue but there he was, big as life. And he went on to lead Chrysler back into prosperity for many years. Ever drive a minivan? Chrysler invented them under Lee’s leadership.

We don’t go to the Detroit Auto Show every year. I did when I was a kid. Actually, I probably didn’t go *every* year. After all, it was at least five hours from my home in Yooperland and it happens in the winter, not that winter driving conditions ever deterred Grandroobly from driving down south. But my Granddaddy and Bolette lived in Detroit when I was a kid and since we had a convenient place to stay, we went to the auto show often enough to create a little routine. We would drive downtown from the grandparents’ house. Grandroobly and The Engineer would go straight to the auto show. The Commander and I would go to the downtown Hudson’s store, where I would always get a new outfit or two. She had worked at the downtown Hudson’s store as a buyer in her youth and she knew her way around that huge store fluently. Eventually we would walk from Hudson’s over to Cobo Hall and spend the afternoon walking around the auto show with the boyz. I was never all that interested in the vee-hickles but I was *fascinated* with the beautiful models and their clothing and it was all fun and we would return to Granddaddy and Bolette’s house, big-city treasures in hand. One more breakfast in their breakfast nook and we’d be off back to the boring wasteland of Yooperland. At least that’s what I thought about my beautiful and beloved homeland back in those days.

I don’t know what’s next for Chrysler or the American auto industry. Grandaddy and Bolette moved out to Birmingham after the ’67 riots and they’ve been dead for years, and now Grandroobly and The Engineer are too. The old Hudson’s store is long gone. Detroit is a shell of a city. I’ve been living my life out on the Planet Ann Arbor all these years, going home to the Yooperland whenever I can and dreaming of California. I hope the auto companies can be revived. As for Brother Lee? According to the good old Wiki, he’s only a few years younger than our own Commander, so I guess he’s excused from trying to rescue Chrysler this time.

How could all you Washington state folk pick “Washington, My Home” over “Louie Louiiiiiiiiii”?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

springbranchesThis is not a swine flu H1N1 virus post. Why? Because I am not an influenza expert. So if you have hit the big Goggle Google (Gogol was goggle-eyed!) and landed here, I am just a baggy old bag with an addiction to blathering incoherently on the internet. Check out yesterday’s post. Even my husband couldn’t understand me. If you want facts about the H1N1 virus, check out the CDC. They have all the experts. Charts and graphs and the whole works.

I am over the initial panic that I felt when I first heard the story on NPR last Friday. We had just begun our weekend journey to Houghton Lake and were skirting around Chelsea on the back roads and it was a beautiful afternoon and I was thinking, “SWINE FLU? DEATHS? SAY WHAT?” This just gives me a chance to get up on my soapbox about viral/bacterial illnesses in general. And, again, I am not an expert but I love to bust old wives-type tales.

If you eat pork, don’t quit, fer kee-reist! Well-cooked pork (like you are supposed to cook it) will not give you the H1N1 virus. Even uncooked pork won’t give you the H1N1 virus. It might give you trichinosis but I am not even sure that trichinosis is around any more. In any event, neither pork nor trichinosis are even remotely related to the swine flu.

And what is the flu? If you have spent the last 12 hours forming an intimate relationship with The Blue and Only Toilet, you probably do not have an influenza virus. Unless you have a fever and, well, check out the CDC site. Trust me. If you are just vomiting, you have a garden variety gastrointestinal virus. If you are healthy, you’ll recover. Suck on ice chips to stay hydrated until you can progress to Cheerios or whatever.

The flu is also not related to the common cold. Do *not* demand antibiotics for cold symptoms (whole ‘nother soapbox here). No matter how many times you have to blow your nose or how much congestion is packed up into your respiratory tract, if you are healthy, you will recover. Don’t even get me started on over-the-counter cough medicine crap.

Wash your hands? Yes, good idea. I wash my hands constantly and I was amazed to hear that a rather dismal percentage of people in the USA do not (it was on NPR and I can’t remember the details). But. One of the things I take issue with is that, as far as I know, viruses can be transmitted before someone feels ill or shows symptoms. We are walking a fine balance here with not closing schools, etc., until someone shows symptoms. Since it does not seem to be a deadly virus in most cases (like most flu viruses), maybe that’s okay.

I may be a geeky old bag but I am also a wives’ tale buster and I walk outside all the time with wet frozen hair and I am convinced that I have never gotten sick from doing that. It is viruses and bacteria that make us sick, not beautiful cold weather. Walking in beautiful cold weather, even with frozen hair, energizes me and makes me feel wonderful!

Take care and wash yer hands,
Love, Kw

7:09 AM USB

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

rattiesText message to Mouse at 0-dark-30 this morning: “Did you get my emails?” Or at least I thought I had sent it to Mouse. And then. I looked at in horror at the name at the top of the screen: Lizard Breath. As dangereuse as it is to disturb the nitroglycerin Mouse at such an early hour, at least she is in the same time zone as me. I had managed to disturb California. At 4:09 AM. Sent a quick follow-up text: “Oops, wrong kid. Sorry!”

Okay, I was off to a wonderful start. This was almost as good as the time I was out walking at 6:00 AM and I kept taking my phone out of my pocket for whatever reason and every time I put it back in my pocket, I would forget to turn the screen off and it would bump against my leg or whatever and dial Mouse’s old number in Africa. And that was okay because Mouse was home from Africa, safe in her own bed here at the Landfill and the call went to nowhere. It wasn’t until later that I realized to my horror that my boss’s number was right next to hers in the contacts. That would’ve been fun to accidentally call my boss at 6:00 AM. Ha ha ha!!!

From there, it wasn’t exactly a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, except for when I missed my freeway exit. Yes. No, it wasn’t on the way to work, it was during lunch but it was a familiar interchange and I do not know what happened. Early onset Alzheimer’s maybe? I hope not. It was a busy day and by the end of it I had no brain cells left at all. For a long time after starting this job, there were periods of time when I didn’t always seem to have enough to do. No more. I am drowning. Multiple projects to work on and then some, emails flying back and forth and meetings formally scheduled or not. It’s starting to feel like the old days at CSC or YAG. I love working under these conditions, especially when I’m working with others who are just as passionate about what they’re doing as I am. I just hope it all lasts through the continuing financial meltdown so we can all keep on doing it. (No, no rumors or anything, just that nobody is safe in this economic environment.)

And yes! You are right. This whole bunch of blather was much todo about nothing!

Sayonara,
Kayak Woman

My dog rat ate my homework.

Monday, April 27th, 2009

tuliptreeEr, sorry Mouse but you asked for it. Love you anyway 😉 My sweet little mousey is a college senior at a small expensive private liberal arts college. And her grade reports have always included an abundance of As, with an occasional B. Middle school? We won’t talk about it. (Actually, I don’t even wanna talk about *my* middle school junior high experience. Blech!) But that stuff is long ago and so the call I received tonight took me a bit by surprise. Homework due tomorrow? Haven’t finished it yet? Why do you need my help? Important life-changing events over the last 22 years? Oh…

Okay. This kind of stuff is always hard for me. Our little family (knock on wood big-time) hasn’t ever encountered unplanned job loss or home foreclosure or serious illness or death of anyone except those who were ready to die. We haven’t (knock on wood big-time) been in car crashes unless you count the time the tornado hit us. Hmm, that’s an event, isn’t it, even though we all survived without a scratch? So, what can I think of…

Speaking of that tornado, I think it was in 1997, if that helps.

Yes, you did actually talk at nine months. Those were the days when dad and I worked at the same place and I would drive you guys over there every afternoon at 2 PM and he would come out and drive you home. We didn’t share a job but I worked part-time and we flexed our hours. One day, after I got out of the car, you said, very clearly, “Bye-bye Mama.” And you waved. And by the time you were 18 months, you were doing complete, perfectly enunciated sentences, and you weren’t just mimicking. There was content in there.

There was the time when you and your mouse were talking to your nursery school teacher and you peered at your teacher, the wonderful Annie, like she might be crazy and said, “You do know that this isn’t a real mouse, it’s just a toy.”

Then there was the time I bribed you to attend theatre camp. I’m not sure we have to go any further with that, Ms. Mouse. How many plays and how many theatrical positions do you have under your belt now?

And I thought of some more things but I emailed them and I will email more if/when I think of more.

Okay, that’s just a few of the things I can think of. I know you will get your homework finished by tomorrow. By hook or by crook. Thank you for turning out to be such a wonderful person in spite of whatever I tried to burn into your brain.

The photo is for The Commander, who grew up on her grandparents’ farm in Garden City and might like to see some typical early blooming trees in southeast Michigan.

Houghton Swamp Lake

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

swampThat’s not our yard at Houghton Swamp Lake. It’s a few cabins down the way. I’ve seen our yard when it was that flooded. The inside of the old cabin used to flood too. In fact, even when it wasn’t flooded, it almost always felt damp inside. Moldy and mildewy. Moe-skee-toes used to breed behind the couch. Everything article of clothing we took up there for a weekend had to be washed when we got home, whether it had been worn or not. Just to get that good old Houghton Lake smell out. Do *not* get me wrong! I loved that musty old place. It was what it was and I have more happy memories of it than otherwise.

Once when Lizard Breath was a small toddler, we arrived on a rainy, blustery fall evening to find several inches of water sloshing around in front of the kitchen counter and stove. Not a particularly ideal environment for a toddler or for the tired old moominmama who had to carry her around everywhere so she wouldn’t get wet. I think it was dry enough in the living room that she could actually walk around a bit. The Uncliest Uncle was also expected to arrive that night but when he hadn’t arrived by 11 o’clock or so, we went upstairs to bed. No sooner did we get settled in upstairs than we heard him come in the door, walk across the kitchen and then… Splash! Sh*t! He had dropped his pillow.

Nowadays, the old place is gone. I sometimes jokingly call the new place a McMansion. It isn’t. But it is probably bigger than the Landfill. It is new and beautiful and our own beloved white tornadoes — those who avoided the musty old cabin like poison — keep it scrupulously clean and dust-free. Did I mention it has TWO bathrooms?? Yer fav-o-rite blahgger blatherer is livin’ large when she is at Houghton Lake these days!

This weekend? How many different ways can you say rain? I had to break into the Beautiful Gay’s vee-hickle to steal an umbrella for my walk this morning. Puddles? Everywhere. We had some significant puddles in our yard but they weren’t anywhere near as spectacular as the ones in the photo, which was just a few doors down.

Have we solved the flooding problem? Hmmm…. We thought so. When the Courtois sibs rebuilt, they made sure that the land was filled in and built up underneath and around the cabin. There is a crawl space underneath the place and you have to walk five steps up to get to the main floor. Dry? Yes, for those of us on the main or second floors. Yes, water is seeping into the crawl space. I wonder if it is even possible to solve that problem completely…

Anyway, it was a rainy weekend. It was gorgeous! The swamp was filled with water and ducks were courting everywhere. One of the reasons I love this time of year in the north is because it usually isn’t very busy. I love tourists. The economy of our northcountry depends on them. But it’s nice to have some quiet days to enjoy some of the crappier weather the Great White North can throw at us too. And it was quiet. But not as quiet as we expected. Why? I’m not totally sure, but one local storekeeper expressed the opinion that this weekend opened the walleye season and that this seemed like an especially successful opener.

So. Fisherfolks, hikers, kayakers, bi-cyclers, campers, er, powerboat captains and jet-skiers too, Michigan’s Great White North is open for summer business. Bring it on!! And you can click here or on the pic for photos of a very wet walk today.

Quick update: internet out at houghton lake This warning has been canceled!

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

underwaterThat means the webcam can’t upload photos. Seeya later, KW

……aaaaannnnnd it’s back. Not sure why the webcam is still showing photos from this morning. Stay tuned…

Ho hum. No Internet at Houghton Lake? A tragedy? Except that… Not! I was able to *post* that our Internet service at the cabin was out because the Edge was not out and I had my iPhone! And the times, they are a-changing… Everything has been back to normal for hours now. The webcam was out for a little longer than the rest of it because I was working and the GG was taking a little snooze in front of the TV and all of that stuff needed to be re-a-starrrted. It should be back to normal now.

We were “watching” the Duggar family on the toob. 17 kids or is it 18 kids and counting. All biological children and only one set of twins. The oldest child is (as near as I can figger) a year or so *younger* than Mouse, my youngest child, and the show I watched today (while writing a functional specification for work) was getting married. He and his wife-to-be were saving their first kiss for marriage. Yes, that is what they said. I have heard of this family before. I didn’t know they were on TV. I’m sure that many people have opinions about people that have that many children. All I will say is that it wouldn’t be my cup of tea. But if I were a regular TV watcher, I could get addicted to shows like that. I mean, I once got addicted to watching the likes of Dallas and Dynasty. And, uh, er, Love Boat.

I thought I had more to say but we’re getting a birthday dinner ready for the Twinz of Terror and the TV is on loud and there’s a lot of crazy talk about hot flashes and 30-something married guys with children who actually think baggy old 50-something gals that are old enough to be their mothers are date-worthy and that’s all I am-a-gonna say. But. FER KEE-REIST!!!

The new baby was supposed to be born in May but she came in April

Friday, April 24th, 2009

mousenewborn22 years ago, of course. I won’t go into the gory details, let’s just say that the little mousey had decided she’d had just about enough and decided to emerge into the sunlight a few weeks early. And there she is, big as life, all six pounds two-and-half ounces of her. She’s not more than one or two days old in this photo, you can see a little tinge of benign newborn jaundice. I remember having to spend quite some time deprogramming the two-year-old. We had been over and over the fact that while *her* birthday was in October, the new baby’s birthday would be in May. The new baby obviously had other ideas but the two-year-old remained fixated on May.

If you want to see what Mouse looks like nowadays, you can click on over to Mousenest. She’s the one in the red dress. Of course, that isn’t *really* Mouse, it’s Cynthia. Mouse’s hair isn’t that curly and she never wears makeup or high heels. Except when she’s on stage.

Happy Birthday, my little Mouse child!
<3 <3 <3 Moom

 

15,016 and counting

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

icebergtipThat’s the number of photos that currently reside in my personal iPhoto application on my personal 2-year-old mailing-taped white MacBook. I don’t think I will buy a laptop with a plastic case again, thank you very much. I am hard on laptops but, hello!, eet eez a laptop, eet should be able to stand up to a baggy old bag beating up on it, roight? Kee-reist!

Anyway. See that birchbark bowl/basket type thing on the counter there in the Ugliest Kitchen on Earth? Yes, those are photos. Those photos are only the tip of the iceberg around here although they may be the most disorganized bunch of photos I have. I don’t know. Some of these photos were given to us from other people. Some of them were once neatly filed in albums but got pilfered for school projects, you know the kind, and never got filed back again. Some are simply duplicates of neatly filed photos but I don’t know which ones. Also on the counter, you can see part of my unfinished prodject (intentionally misspelled and yes, I am still slowly motoring along making progress on it, yay for hand-sewing). And you can see the mailing tape that I used this morning to tape up yet another part of my crumbling but otherwise wonderful laptop an envelope that I mailed to Mouse this morning. And there’s other flotsam and jetsam and cosmic debris around. Is that a bottle of whine in the back there? Yes! I was looking for that! And yes it is a fuzzy phone pic. Why? Because my blasted so-called *life* is fuzzy! That’s why!

I am drowning in photos. I have Fin and MacMu photos that my brother scanned. I have old photos that we took, some of which are scanned and some are not. I have photos (and slides and negatives) from the Commander’s collection that I *want* to scan and give to her. Some of all that stuff is in my iPhoto and some of it is not. And then there are the gazillion digital photos that I have been taking since the late 90s when we bought our first Sony Mavica. It saved photos on floppy disks!!! Remember those?

Some of our photos / negatives / slides are scanned and some not. Some of them are in iPhoto and some of them are not. Some of the photos that are in iPhoto are tagged intelligently and some of them are not. Or maybe not tagged at all. Yeah, I know… Now, where is that whine? Two-buck Chuck Shiraz, eh? Sounds good to me!

Oh, and there are about a brazillion Courtois birthdays right around now and also some Fin birthdays and maybe even some MacMu birthdays and I can’t keep up with them so y’all will have to twitter them or something. I do know that my grandma Margaret Finlayson would be 121 today! Happy birthday to all!

In the cold, clear morning light

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Two quick updates. First, I was incorrect that the school is now an Indian school. It is a public charter school called the Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe PSA. I drove The Commander and Radical Betty by it just a couple weeks ago, you’d think I could’ve at least read the sign. Second, I knew I had created an html version of the diary my great grandfather kept on his last trapping trip.

Finnelson School

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

grandberryragsYes, for a while, there was a school named after my grandfather up there in the frozen northern Yooper outpost of Sault Ste. Siberia. It wasn’t really called Finnelson. That was the most common way that people would mispronounce our family name and The Commander hated it and I just wrote it like that to bug her because she reads this here blahg. It wasn’t always easy growing up trying to be a hooligan under her watchful eye. If you felt like saying something like, “I ain’t got none,” you had better darn well be over in the schoolyard or someplace where she couldn’t hear you. I figgered I’d escape that as an adult but no. Not only does the Comm *still* correct my grammar, my blasted *daughter* does it too! For the record, my grammar is pretty dern good, fer kee-reist!

Anyway. I don’t know that Grandberry did anything specific to earn the honor of having an elementary school named after him. He was an old-school small-town bank president who came from pretty much nothing. He wasn’t too proud to take the ferry to Sugar Island (on foot) to collect collateral in the form of a cow. And during World War II, long before I was even thought about, he was a member of the Chippewa County Draft Board and he felt so guilty about sending other people’s boys to war that he told his own sons, who were in college and medical school at the time, that they had best get their effects together and voluntarily enlist. And so they did.

As I mentioned in that sorta tacked-on coda to yesterday’s rambling bunch of blather, Finnelson Finlayson School is now a charter school run by the Native Americans. It isn’t called Finlayson any more and I’m too lazy to google the current name. I can only guess, of course, but I think that Grandberry would have liked that idea. As all of my cuzzints, etc., know, he spent the earliest years of his childhood in northern Saskatchewan (Kinistino), where his parents were homesteaders and his dad and uncle were fur trappers for the Hudson’s Bay company. This was in the late 1800s. They had many friends amongst the Native Americans in the area and were given many artifacts from those friends. Alas. My great-grandfather and his brother died on a fur trapping trip much farther north in the wilderness. No cell phones in those days. My great-grandmother and her three small children did what you had to do back then, which was to live with relatives somewhere else, and somewhere else turned out to be Sault Ste. Siberia, Michigan.

There are only two public elementary schools up there in Siberia any more, Lincoln and Washington. I don’t totally understand the business rules surrounding all this but I’m guessing it is now cheaper to bus kids to larger buildings than distribute the schools around the area? I don’t know. I am thinking guessing that Grandberry probably had vague memories of his life in Saskatchewan and I think he was very interested in Native American culture. I have to guess that he would be happy that his namesake school went to the Indians when it was no longer feasible for the public schools to own it.

Stinkin’ Linkin’

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

lincolnThis is a terrible picture of my old elementary school. I only had my iPhone with me and I wasn’t really geared up for photography during that particular walk. Next time, I’ll have to try to get up a little closer and do a slideshow. “This was my kindergarten room.” “This was where my little brother broke his wrist.” (And subsequently learned to use his cast as a weapon.) “This is the door that all of my 1st grade classmates once used to enter the school *before* the bell rang, giggling away rapturously. They didn’t get caught but when *I*, the cautious rule-follower tried to follow them a few minutes of deliberation later, the dim-witted janitor pointed and yelled, ‘YOU, OUT!!!!'” Sigh.

We covered a lot of topics at the high school mini-reunion the other night and one of them was where people went to grade school. And I kept hearing myself say (obnoxiously enough), “Oh, I walked by that school [or house or whatever] last weekend!” Because I had been up there the weekend before and walking is one of the things that I do. Back then, there were six (and then seven) grade schools in town and several township K-8 schools that fed kids into our large comprehensive high school.

In those days, we also had two thriving K-8 Catholic schools and, Loretto, our Catholic high school. It’s odd that, as a heathen with a Methodist upbringing, large Catholic families seem to be my lot in life. I have been linked by marriage to a wonderful Catholic family for many years and have plenty of history hanging around with similar families.

So, I went to Lincoln School as a grade-schooler and I had plenty of friends there, despite what I might sometimes say on this here blahg. But the friend that I probably spent the most time with in those days was my friend Laurie, who attended St. Joseph’s School a couple blocks away. We lived about a block away from each other and we fought wars with the neighborhood boys many days after school and absolutely every Saturday throughout grade school. And I mean *wars*. There was a family of four boys on the other side of my alley who regularly threw *rocks* at us. As well as other neighborhood families of disrepute that we would interact with occasionally. She was supposed to clean her room before she could play on Saturday and I always had to wait for that although her mom would usually relent and allow me to “help”. Roight…

Laurie wasn’t at the dinner the other night. I don’t think she lives near enough. But almost half the people that were there had gone to the Catholic schools up there in Siberia. A couple of things happened halfway through my high school years, between sophomore and junior years. One was that our terribly overcrowded high school population moved from an ancient fire-trap of a school to a new building on the outskirts of town. The other was that the local Catholic schools closed due to financial problems and a state-wide no-vote of aid to non-public schools, so all of the kids from Loretto joined us at Sault High. At one rather late point in the evening, it seemed as though all of the Catholics (who may not all be Catholic any more for all I know) were on one side of the table and us heathens (speaking only for myself) were on the other side. Well, except for the GG, who *did* attend Catholic grade school. He was invited to move to the other side!

I haven’t fact-checked this but I *think* that the Soo has Catholic schools again these days and I have to say, more power to them. And the old Finlayson School is now a Native American charter school. It has been expanded and it is beautiful. And more power to the Indians. I believe that my grandfather would be happy to see who is running the school that was once a public school named after him. Maybe another time, I will tell my old schoolmates about Grandberry’s history. I couldn’t do it this time and that is okay.

The forest primeval, so early in the spring

Monday, April 20th, 2009

skunkcabbageI was figuring that I would miss the skunk cabbage season this year but yesterday morning I strong-armed the GG into a little hike out at the Discovery Geology Center. He would have rather walked along the river down to the Northside for breakfast. I wanted to get out into some serious woods. I won this time. This place really seems almost primeval, at least at this time of year when little bits and scraps of green things are barely edging out the very last of the leaves that didn’t fall way back last autumn. Skunk cabbage absolutely everywhere! Who knew that skunk cabbage grew anywhere other than the Naomikong Point section of the North Country Trail? Marsh Marigold. Mayapples just coming up. Pitcher plants. Tamarack just budding. Last time I saw tamarack, it was fall and the leaves/needles were golden (click on the stop work sign when you get there). I don’t think I’ve ever seen tamarack when it was just budding before. Maybe back when I was a young hooligan, running and jumping around laughing derisively when some poor, misguided parent actually tried to show me something beautiful in nature. 400-year-old trees. Mastadonts. Or maybe not but this is a place where a mammoth once fell into a bog. Or so they say. There is a bog there today. Or two or three. The floating bog was one of our destinations.

Click here or on the skunk cabbage for more pics.

Oh, all right [wink] (I promise, it’s anti-climactic)

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

I would’ve posted the answer to the mystery sooner but I was looking for some old photos (these photos) to scan and, of course, I couldn’t find them. What made this particularly infuriating was that a few days ago, in the process of looking for a totally unrelated photo, I found *these* photos but *not* the one I was looking for. Today? Found the one I was looking for the other day! These? Nowhere. Obviously I found ’em *eventually* and by the way, does your brain hurt from all that??? Kee-reist!

soohigh1soohigh2soohigh3

That halfway demolished building is my old high school, which was torn down in 1985. Although I go “home” many times a year, I almost never see anyone I went to high school with. Heck, a lot of them don’t live in Siberia any more either. And I don’t really do reunions. I went to our 20th and it was overwhelming for me. I don’t do very well with crowds in general and I have terrible small talk and schmoozing skills. And I will admit to having all of the usual anxieties about those events. “I wasn’t one of the popular kids, yada yada yada.” I *know* that stuff doesn’t matter any more. I know *everybody* thinks similar thoughts. I am a baggy old bag and I have come to terms with who I am. Still, reunions are hard for those of us who aren’t particularly extroverted. So I usually make excuses. “My daughter will be home from California that weekend, etc.” And that *is* actually a good excuse in my book.

So. I ran into Susan on line. I’ve known Susan since we were in 4th grade at Stinkin’ Linkin. Camp Fire Girls and band and skiing and sleepovers. She said, “A bunch of us get together for dinner once a year in the Lansing area. Do you want to be on the email list?” Ulp! *Did* I want to be on the email list? Well. Yes. I shot back what I hoped was a nonchalant-sounding, “sure, that might be fun”. Or something like that. Actually, it felt a bit like jumping off a cliff! But I’ve done a lot of cliff-jumping in the last five years or so and it’s getting easier all the time. One thing led to another, and then yesterday afternoon I got into the Ninja and we drove over to the Lansing area to meet up with 20 or so other 1972 Sault High graduates.

Did I have fun? Heck yes! Did I feel like an angsty geeky little teenage outsider? Heck no! Well, maybe “geeky” still fits. Susan and I figured out that we hadn’t seen each other in 30 years. And Mimi and I took ballet together when we were four! You can do the math on that one if you want and yes, I took ballet, wanna fight? And, as for those that I *didn’t* know all that well in high school, why exactly wasn’t I more friendly?

No pictures. What would be the point?? We still all look just like we did in high school. Just older. Typical 50-somethings, all. Spirited ones who made enough noise last night for a party about five times as large!!! So here’s my old high school instead*. Click on the pics to enlarge them.

*This was my *first* high school. We moved to a fancy new facility my junior year and it’s still around. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Well…

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

In about a half hour I will be embarking on a very unusual little adventure. For me, anyway. I wonder if I will blahg about it or not…

darkbluefabriccrystal

Good thing this was surrounded by high chainlink fences and barbed waaaarrr when I was a kid because I always thought it would make great monkey-bars!

Friday, April 17th, 2009

luckyshuckyThis picture is a detail of the big power sub-station that I have known all my life. It is right next to the Sault Ste. Siberia locks and we would drive by it all the time when I was a kid. It is still there and it is still surrounded by a high chainlink fence topped with barbed waaaarr. I know because it’s on my Sault Ste. Siberia walking route.

So, I’m thinking about what I wrote yesterday about political blahgging. What the heck did I write yesterday? I’ll have to go and check. Doo-dah-doo-dah-doo Grok grok. Oh yeah, it was the usual bunch of incoherent blather and blarney. Anyway. I was thinking some more today and I just want to make sure everyone knows that just because I choose not to talk about politics on my blahg very often (or even in life), it doesn’t mean that I think everyone else should avoid political topics on their blahgs. I think what I really meant to say was that not blahgging about political topics was just one of my own personal rules about blahgging.

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media on the Internet lately and people [in general] will state all kinds of opinions about blogging or Twitter or Myspace or Facebook or Linked-In or whatever, whether they are informed about those sites or not. Good or bad? It does not compute! I guess I like to think of all this stuff as tools. I think that each person needs to decide which of those tools they are going to use and, for those that they decide to use, they need to make their own personal rules about how they will use them. My blahgging rules have been evolving since I first starting posting short on-line journal entries (uh, think Twitter) and pictures on a static html website six years ago. I won’t bore y’all with my personal rules for blahgging. They are complex and they often morph over time.

My fav-o-rite social media tool right now is Twitter. I was skeptical at first. But I love that I can know what people are doing without all that phone convo stuff. Like, when people call me and ask, “How are you?”, I always want to reply with with “Dooya have five hours?” I know that no one wants that detail.

Blahg on! Or Twitter or whatever you wanna do. Form your own rules!

And. I now have two moe-skee-toe bites.

Early one morning in a quiet neighborhood on the Planet Ann Arbor

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

teapartySorry, this is not a political blahg entry. I have been nose to the grindstone in about a billion different directions lately and didn’t even know what all this tea party stuff was about until it was mostly over. Yes, I am bad but this is a G-rated (mostly) family-type blahg and I believe political opinions pretty much run the gamut on all sides of the fam. Really, we are all good citizens who make positive contributions to society and I don’t want to argue politics with anyone, family or not. And some of my relatives have changed their opinions over time, including the late Grandroobly, who was pretty much hard-core conservative back in the Jurassic Age but became pretty much anti-any-politician in his later years. Blue dress? “Stick it!”, the old coot would say, listening to NPR in the cabin as he ate his half-bowl of mixed cereal (Cheerios and Chex or Wheaties or whatever) with a little milk. (Sorry, that wasn’t exactly G-rated.) And I do not think he liked Bush but we won’t go there…

Mostly, I am *still* pinching myself that I have a really quite decent job in these horrible times. Yeah, I know I’ve been pinching myself for a while now and it’s getting old and y’all are getting taaaarrred of hearing that. But there were a few years in there that I had absolutely no idea what I could (or would) do to make a contribution to society while preserving my own self-esteem and earning an income. I love my job now, even during the occasional moments of sleepiness, like this afternoon during a recurrent meeting that I attend mostly as a listener/researcher. spongebob1 It was generally interesting but some of the usual suspects went off on a tangent and started speaking in tongues and my coffee cup was out of water, so I was struggling to keep awake. Suddenly, my boss thundered (or so it seemed), “KAYAK WOMAN! What are we doing about blah-blah-blah?” I jolted to attention and guess what? I had the answer!!! So. I hope this job goes on until I get so senile that I walk out past the parking lot into the pond by mistake but life is uncertain so who knows and don’t even ask me how much money we had to ante up to the tax man this year. All I will say is that the GG had a *very* hard time taking that envelope over to the post office.

Anyway, I was walking along watching for skunks and things this morning and those signs were in front of a house on my usual route. They are just down the street from a co-worker’s house, who I highly doubt is involved in any way. I stopped to take a picture and then I looked down at the sidewalk and there was Sponge-bob or whatever his name is. So, I dunno. I’ve lived on The Planet Ann Arbor for a long time now and there are some people in the country that might think this is the kind of place where everybody is smokin’ pot all the time but we don’t all do that (actually, I don’t tolerate that stuff very well (yeah, not G-rated again)) but there is quite a diverse population around here in many ways and that’s one of the reasons I love living here.

Sayonara,
KW

(Yer daily dose o’ blather)2

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

crocusYes, it is a crocus. A real live crocus. There are a *few* more of them around. There were a *whole bunch* more but, as hardy as they are, the last six inches of that cold, fluffy heavy white stuff flattened them. At least the flowering parts of them. It’s okay. I don’t have time to hang around in the landfill back yard anyway.

Even if I did have time (not to mention a green thumb), I have decided the landfill dungeon is a little higher on the to-do list. We just have to get rid of all of that clutter. I do not want the beach urchins to have to rent a dumpster some day. Better to get rid of it now while we have the physical energy and relative brainpower to do it than wait until we are creaky old octos! There are compulsive hoarders in both the GG’s and my families. We have the DNA and that is a scary thing.

Today, I even had the sudden thought that maybe we should move house!! That’s just about the surest way to get rid of all the old crap. Our own DogMomster is moving forward on that project and I can’t wait to read her posts about cleaning out Peeves’s old collections of collections. And. And. And. Kee-reist!!!! MWBB is moving to Arizona (!!!) this summer!!! !!! !!! We’ll have to do our weekly breakfast by Video Chat after she moves! [Er, speaking of MWBB, I better email MTCB to see if we’re still meeting tomorrow. She is *not* moving anywhere. I don’t think.]

I doubt we’ll move. I like this crappy old house and I like this nice, not-fancy neighborhood. And we have the group home at Houghton Lake and Fin Family Moominbeach/tundra. And I dunno where I was going with this but the GG just kind of whisked in through the door and whisked out again and I followed him out to figger out WTH was going on and was unceremoniously handed two old veeendsheeeel viper-type theeengs from zee Dogha and told to recycle them, which I did and I hope Recycle Ann Arbor picks them up without incident. I am glad that zeee veeeensheeeeeld vipers on zee Dogha are finally replaced and then he told me that the vee-hickle-eater thingy over at the EPA actually *ate* a vee-hickle today and although it wasn’t a terrorist and no serious damage was done, that was good fun for them thar slackers over at the EPA*.

* All the usual disclaimers about how “them thar slackers over at the EPA” really do work and I am just kidding. And they do work hard. Ask me how many hours the GG works…

Mish-i-mil-li-mak[-in-naw]

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

michilimackinacThe other day, the GG and I were driving from Houghton Lake to Yooperland and he was reading a sign about Fort Michilimackinac and rather carelessly mispronounced “Michilimackinac”. I can’t remember how he said it (and he *knows* the correct pronunciation) but it dredged up some memories for me, so I corrected him and then I Twittered something about it. Why? Because I could. From my iPhone. Yes, I am obnoxious.

When I was a beach urchin, around eight or 10 or whatever, I had a slightly younger and very precocious friend who had skipped a school grade. Our families were friends and so were we. Except. Sometimes she could be pretty darn annoying, in the way that ultra-indulged children can be. Know any kids like that? Know any helicopter parents anyone? Er, I’ve been guilty in that way myself sometimes and maybe you could just possibly detect a little bit of envy here? Like, why couldn’t *I* skip a grade? [And yes, I could be annoying too.]

Anyway. My friend’s family was renting the yellow Stevens cabin and we walked up there for dinner one night. The adults were drinking martinis or whatever and carrying on (“yeeeeheehee”, etc.) and my friend and I were off somewhere in little kid land arguing over the pronunciation of Michilimackinac. Yes, that was fun! She was positive that it was “MichiMILimack”. Uh, no “naw” at the end? Who was right? We couldn’t come to an agreement. So we finally decided to ask the grownups. Yeah. To my absolute DISGUST, all of them including my OWN parents (who shouldda known better) agreed that it was “Michimilimack”. Yeeeeheehee. Get me another martini, please dear. Yes, I was ticked off!!!

And skunk cabbage? Check it out.

Skunk Cabbage Day revisited

Monday, April 13th, 2009

grinchfrogA revisit to one of the more interesting Easter holidays I have ever spent, ranking up there with the 90-degree kayaking day and once when a tornado blew through the Planet Ann Arbor. Easter 2006. April 16. I was at *very* loose ends that year, after spending the winter hanging around with Grandroobly before he died. I was cut loose from that responsibility on March 23 or a few days afterward. I had no job that year. I only had one class, Creative Writing Business on the Internet. I can remember thinking during Grandroobly’s second surgery that I would have to withdraw from my one class but I stuck it out and, lo and behold, not only did I get an A, the teacher told me that I had really earned an A+ but the college grading software couldn’t process those. I only did as well as I did because she was a fantastic teacher and I had really connected with her and some of my classmates. I’m glad I stuck it out.

Anyway. One class and no job meant that I wasn’t chained to my computer 24/7 and I was restless and needed to drive and one day, in desperation, I “advertised” on my blahg that I needed a mission to drive somewhere. NP Jane needed a break from work and she answered the call and off we went to the Yooperland for a long Easter weekend. We had lots of fun hiking around town and visiting the beach and discovering the Lake Superior Winery and just hanging out. But Easter was serendipitous. We had a fancy brunch at the Hotel Ojibway with The Commander, Radical Betty, Grinch, and Froggy grok grok and then, while The Commander put together some kind of Easter dinner, we picked up Radical Betty and headed out to the Naomikong Point segment of the North Country Trail to look for skunk cabbage. We found skunk cabbage and we also found a grass fire on the way out there!!! Fun and excitement under cloudless skies.

Click here or on the pic for the whole adventure and a few beach pics. Note that I walked on *ice* on April 11th this year and the ice was mostly gone on the 16th in 2006. Pretty darn sure that it will NOT be gone by April 16, 2009.

A rather higglety-pigglety Easter on the I75 SUV Speedway

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

locksWe have never observed the Easter holiday in a religious fashion here at the landfill but the Easter Bunny used manage to find us anyway. He would arrive right on schedule for this moveable feast holiday that falls on the first Sunday after the Paschall full moon. Go ahead, google it! Adding on to the date confusion, we would sometimes travel to visit The Commander’s Other House, The Real House, Where She Lives Some of the Days. Or even Houghton Lake. The Easter Bunny would always find us.

Our Easter Bunny would bring baskets full of candy and just a few wrapped packages, almost always a stuffed aminal or two and sometimes a spring outfit and probably a book or two. Our Easter Bunny would hide colored eggs and one long-ago Easter, he helped a toddler find them. She was brand new to that game and needed a little help.

The Easter Bunny got lost for a few years there, when the beach urchins grew up and started moving out and we began doing whatever we felt like doing for Easter, more or less depending on whatever else was going on in life, or even the weather. Like one amazing 90-degree Easter when we kayaked on the Huron River! I was totally sunburnt at the end of that day. I would almost bet that *this* Easter there are still bits of ice hanging out down there in some of the deepest, darkest nooks and crannies of the shore. And sometimes we are not even together. Like the year NP Jane and I were in Siberia and we went on an adventure to Naomikong Point with Radical Betty to look for skunk cabbage and found a *faaarrrrrr* along the way. I’d link to that entry except it was before I converted to WordPress, so easier said than done…

This year? Rumor has it that the Easter Bunny sent some small packages of candy out to various parts of the country but he didn’t hide any colored eggs around here. Frank’s Restaurant supplied our eggs over-easy and scrambled with*out* a mangosteen juice chaser, thank you very much. And then, we jumped onto the I75 SUV Speedway for a very eerily quiet drive home under cloudless blue skies. What gives? We aren’t sure. Gas prices, unless I’m missing something, are around the two-dollar mark. The southbound speedway was so devoid of traffic that the few newly sprouting construction zones we encountered didn’t slow us down one iota. Home. Exhausted. Steak on the grill. And asparagus. Influenced by Genevievedidit.

Good night. Happy Easter and/or Passover and/or skunk cabbage hunting/fire fighting.