Archive for August, 2009

We don’t need no stinkin’ headshot!

Monday, August 31st, 2009

oldbagOkay, I know what a headshot is, in a high-level way at least. But every time somebody says anything about a headshot, I absolutely crack up laughing because for me, it brings back memories of my old friend Paula. We were backstage soldiers marching together to further the cause of youth theatre on and around the Planet Ann Arbor. We were board members in an organization that had made a difference in our childrens’ lives and we worked like dogs, especially Paula, who had the unenviable job of organizing the organization’s stock of costumes, props, and set pieces. In a crumbling old insect/rodent/bum-infested farmhouse that we were able to rent for a song. Yes, once there were actual homeless folks squatting in there. I know, I know, “bum” is not a politically correct term. Paula did a lot of other often odious stuff that I won’t mention for lack of space.

One of her most important unsung jobs was that of helping the beleaguered administrator (that would be me) keep sane. How? By being one of the few board members that *regularly* replied to the email messages I would send to the board (or a subset of the board) asking for assistance in dealing with this or that problem that was beyond my bailiwick. Problem parents were one of the worst. If you were a parent who didn’t “get” our organization, things didn’t always work out particularly well. This was a *theatre* guild, not a soccer team. Rehearsal schedules happened when they happened and, in this particular organization, being known by your family, church, or school as a “gifted” actor/actress didn’t automatically land you the title role. We had a rather unique philosophy that *everyone* who auditioned would get a role and that the cast was an ensemble. One in which *every* actor, no matter how many lines or time spent on stage, was an equal participant and *every* actor was responsible not only for mastering their own role but supporting the other actors in their roles, no matter the size. Paula and I “got” it. Over the years our kids played roles from “Tree #3” to major Shakespearean characters and everything in between. There may have been times when the cast list was disappointing when our kids first saw it but by the time the stage was struck, they didn’t want it to end. We appreciated what the guild did for our kids and tried our best to support it. Even when we didn’t agree with something. Like “why the heck *can’t* we have a comprehensive rehearsal schedule for the next month. The soccer moms get one.”

Sigh. The soccer moms were hard enough to deal with. Then there were the folks who actually believed their 8-year-old (or whatever) had a real future as an actor. Kids with actual agents who had done commercials and stuff. Our organization generally puts out a pretty high quality production, given that it operates on a shoe-string budget with volunteers and often inexperienced actors. It just isn’t the right thing for kids with professional resumes. And headshots, fer kee-reist. Mainly because the parents are involved in the wrong way. They try to hang around and coach the kid instead of figuring out how they can volunteer: costumes, anyone?

And so, back in 2004, I was registering kids for that summer’s two-week day camp. A day camp that’s run in the basement of a building behind the UM football stadium. It isn’t air-conditioned. Lunch, snacks, and some of the classes take place outside on a rather small, barren patch of grass next to an intermittently busy road with buses, etc. Crazy as it is, it’s a popular camp and, since I first bribed Mus Musculus to attend it 15 years ago, I have been amazed at what it does for children. That’s to set the stage. Someone from out of state emailed me to ask if her wonderfully, fantastically talented agented kid could attend our camp. (Of course, if you pay the fee.) The other choice was Interlochen. (Er, if yer kid is so good, I’d choose Interlochen…) She bandied me about a bit. “Well, maybe my child needs a break from high-stress auditions,” or something like that. Roight. So if your kid does *not* get a “lead role” with our scrappy little no-diva organization, will she be upset? And who will have to deal with that? Me? Yiiiiy! And she also wrote that she could provide a blasted headshot! Yikes! That’s when I emailed my friend Paula to get a reality check and to help me wordsmith my reply back to this woman. Paula replied that she tried to work on a response but she found herself writing “we don’t need no stinkin’ headshot”. True. We took any kid from anywhere. I don’t know if I can find that email now. It may not have made the transition from my Powerbook to my Macbook.

Paula died unexpectedly in December of 2004. We went on with life the weekend after she died, performing a play that she helped with and would’ve wanted us to go on with. The show must go on. I still miss her. I can’t believe it has been almost five years…

Orange

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

orangebridgeYes, it is orange. The newly refurbished bridge across the Huron River at Delhi, that is. Actually, I think I read in the local newspaper that it was a little more orange than the folks who specified the color expected it would be. Historic bridges has a page dedicated to the Delhi bridge that seems to tell its story pretty well if you’re interested. I dunno, I like the color! I don’t think it’s that much different than the old bridge (looking at the historic bridges website). I’m just glad that they didn’t decide to replace the old bridge with some boring modern thing. I am not crazy about the anachronistic stoplights. Seems a bit too Nanny State for me. It’s always been a one-lane bridge. Maybe the road surface looks too much like a highway now. I dunno. They don’t have stoplights at the relatively recently restored Foster Bridge a few miles downriver. That bridge is green btw.

And so, it was a very unseasonably cold weekend here on the Planet Ann Arbor. The GG blames it all on sunspot cycles and epicycles. He says there are virtually NO sunspots right now and that we have been through a typical 11-year cycle but nobody knows what the sunspot epicycles are. So maybe we are in for another ice age? I hope not too much. We went urban hiking down by Barton Dam today. I grabbed a camera on the way out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right camera. It definitely wasn’t my trusty old powershot because The Commander is holding my camera hostage up on Fin Family Moominbeach. I’ve been snagging the GG’s camera, a slightly older version of my Powershot. This time, I accidentally snagged Mouse’s camera, probably even a bit older version of my Powershot than the GG’s. And that camera was giving me a battery warning. So much for photography today. Oh, I had my iPhone. It is what it is but… Anyway, I won’t bore you with a bunch of photooos of vegetation that I can’t identify. (I think I am outgrowing my trusty old Powershot. Maybe I’ll have to spec something else out and put it on my xmas list. Hmmm…)

P.S. That’s our cute little Ninja vee-hickle off in the distance across the bridge.

I’m gonna let y’all in now but just so’sya know, if there’s any kind o’ scuffle, don’t go after me. I got a family!

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

fireThat was the cheerful greeting from the postal worker who opened the doors at the Stadium branch post office this morning. I had packed up a big box of stuff to send to Callyforny, cause I’m just a moom who mails stuff to California, don’tcha know. I like packing up boxes of stuff to send to my kids wherever they are. I definitely have more fun packing boxes up for other people than unpacking them. And I am getting to be an expert with bubble-wrap and packing tape and all that fun stuff. Back in the day, I loved when somebody at college would call me in the middle of the day, “Moom, can you send me such-and-such?”. A mission! I would immediately interrupt my schoolwork or whatever I was doing and search out whatever it was they needed and pack it up. Extra fun if I had to go out and buy something and bonus points if I had to run out to Staples to get mailing supplies. Oot and aboot. Anything to get my face up out of my computer for a while. Anything to be useful to my grown-up children.

All right, let’s not get all maudlin here, KW. Nowadays I still like to pack up boxes but getting them to the post office isn’t all that easy because my loverly work cubicle is out in the backwater of a beautiful business park that is nowhere near anything on earth. If I have something small enough that I can drop it into the box by one of the post office uscans, fine, I can do it on the way to work. If it’s a big enough box that it won’t fit in that drop box, I have to go inside and play post office line roulette. Don’t get me wrong. All of the Stadium post office employees that I have ever encountered are wonderful. Well, except for “Al” back in the bulk mail unit but I think my days of non-profit bulk mailings are over so he can harass somebody else about using the wrong blasted rubber bands. But I just digressed. The problem with the regular customer service line is that you never know who is ahead of you. If everybody has a straightforward errand there, it goes fast. We won’t talk about those other days except to say thank god for the iPhone.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago, I packed up a box to send to the left coast and I finally got around to mailing it today because I thought it was too big for the uscan box and I didn’t wanna wait in line on the way to work. Today, I rather randomly drove over the post office and arrived a couple minutes before 10 o’clock. Miraculously, the place opens at 10 on Saturdays! (It changes all the time so I didn’t know.) Not so miraculously, I was last (probably eighth) in the line of people that had queued up outside the still-locked door. Some of those people had some serious-looking stuff to mail, like the woman with a big dolly with four big boxes on it.

Just as I joined the queue, the above-mentioned postal worker opened the doors with his cheerful greeting. He also tried to encourage everyone who entered the door to use one of the two uscans. Most people brushed that off but I (last in line) said, “I’d love to use the uscan but I think my box is too big.” “Oh, no it’s not!” he replied. And so we went and measured my box against the drop box and, lo and behold, it fit with room to spare! I think they must’ve changed the drop box or something because I was sure it wouldn’t fit. He asked me if I needed help with the uscan and y’all know I didn’t because I love to beat up on computers et al.

The whole thing took me two minutes and he really *was* cheerful and I walked out of there with a smile on my face and that was wonderful customer service from somebody who probably doesn’t get paid a whole heck of a lot (but who knows who he really was). That was after I had read dooce.com’s post about her new and defective Maytag washing machine. It had my blood boiling a bit although it had a happy ending of sorts. But why do we have to resort to Twittering by popular bloggers to change how customer service/support is handled? Why can’t the corporate slugs figure it out without being hit on the head. Anyway, the Planet Ann Arbor Stadium post office has some wonderful folks working and I certainly encountered one of them today. I hope they’re being paid well and treated right. G’night.

Baseball and various Janes and deer and snowpants and I fergit what else

Friday, August 28th, 2009

neonfishYeah. It’s late and I’m taaaarrrred and I have been out to eat twice today. Once with the work gang to a Chinese buffet and once to Knight’s Dexter’s Pub with a motley crew including a Seattle “cuzzint” among others. That is, we tried to go to Knight’s but due to a bizarre snafu on our part, no one managed to make a reservation and the place was absolutely, totally, utterly nuts and people who *did* have the foresight to make reservations weren’t getting seated and some of them were getting mad and the parking lot was one big merry-go-round but we had walked so we didn’t get a ride on that. So we ended up in Dexter and although several other people had the fish, I had the butternut squash ravioli and nobody took off their snowpants at the bar and if you aren’t sure what’s up with the snowpants, maybe if you ask Mus Musculus very nicely, she’ll tell that sordid little story. Oh yeah, and it rained torrentially off and on throughout the day and we need a blasted lightbulb fairy here! G’night. Crash and burn.

 

I’m moving the beds, etc. DO NOT PANIC. Your living room will be clear in a few hours <3

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

shadowmouseThat’s the text message I received toward the end of my workday, *immediately* after I had yelled over the wall that I wondered what I would find at home today. Yelling over the wall means saying something loudly enough that your cube neighbors can hear you. Don’t hit me Mus Musculus, I laughed when I got it. Actually, I had been pushing to get this particular bed-shuffling chore done earlier in the summer but some people were resistant. I dunno. Would it be logical to take our bunk beds up to the Group Home @ Houghton Lake? I think we could use some bunks up there but not sure if others would agree.

Anyway. I know that the 22-year-old Mus Musculus will finish this task pretty directly. Unlike the 16-year-old Mus Musculus who spent something like three months repainting her bedroom. Everything from in there was in my living room the whole time. Luke of Perrynet finally broke down and asked me what the heck was going on. There was a “yaffa-block” (google it) hanging out in the middle of everything and his then middle-school-aged daughter was watching our house with binoculars. Why? Because it looked to her like we had a cage for a MYNAH BIRD in our living room. Yes. Situated askew in the middle of the room, surrounded by a whole bunch of other junk. I dunno. I guess true compulsive hoarders close their curtains window treatments so people can’t see the mess. I must not be too far into that syndrome yet because I resist curtains window treatments like the plague.

And so. I think that Mus Musculus feels relatively safe living here for the time being but I know that after years of dorms and Senegal and having her own loverly little apartment, she is not particularly happy being stuck with her grumpy cranky senile old parental units here on the Planet Ann Arbor. I want to say to all employers, “Don’t hire the perky little bottle-blonde ding-dong that says she knows it all. Hire someone who can do the damn work and that person may be the one who doesn’t have all the perky little pat answers at the interview.” And that is where I’ll stop with this because it really isn’t my business. I do know that my mus musculus is going to have a long and varied successful career. It will not be the standard engineering or computer science or doctor/lawyer/Indian chief type career. Er, actually, Indian Chief might be a good title for Mus Musculus. But not politically correct, I guess, for a blue-eyed blonde Celt. Sigh. Maybe I shouldda bought one of those tomahawks at Black Iron Days last weekend.

I had Mrs. Pratt for English!

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

thistlyQuite the old battle-axe at that, with her blue rinse and those old-fashioned dresses that just about everybody over, oh I dunno, about 55 let’s say, wore back when I was a bratty little 8th grader. She kept her “hankie” you-know-where and once when she had to sneeze, she couldn’t find her hankie right away, so she was fishing around you-know-where right at the front of a classroom full of 8th graders, a good portion of whom probably couldn’t’ve cared less about learning about past participles and the subjunctive and diagramming sentences. What? That’s too much like math and I ain’t gonna do no milkman problem at the board ’cause I ain’t gonna be no milkman. Oops, that was another class. That thing about the missing hankie? I never saw it happen. I think it was a 1960s [Sault Ste.] Siberian equivalent of the urban legend.

Mrs. Pratt was a task-master. Worksheets upon worksheets upon worksheets of verb conjugations and whatever the heck you do with nouns (help me out here you grammar/syntax nazis, you know who you are!). And diagramming sentences. Occasionally, Mrs. Pratt would slip in something a bit more creative. I got in her good graces once when the assignment was to bring in a few pieces of “found” creative writing, as in *find* some descriptive writing somewhere, copy it out longhand (no computers then, what were you thinking?), cite the source, and hand it in. I’m sure she didn’t trust the likes of about 85% of us to actually *write* something creative. I found mine in a Seventeen magazine short story, I think the character’s name was Ellie and the story had a beautiful description of her alone in her room listening to the hissing of an old radiator in the midst of her melancholy teenage angst. A lot like my life, actually, and I was Mrs. Pratt’s fave for a day or two. I also got on her bad side once. For cheating. How can someone who actually *likes* to diagram sentences and turns in perfect worksheets cheat, you are wondering? Because I hated being labeled as a brain. I didn’t want to top out those stupid standardized tests. I wanted to be cute and cool and popular. So, I let a couple of cute, cool (in a dark kind of way), and popular (with kids my parents probably wouldn’t want me hanging around with) girls befriend me. I was their fave just about long enough for them to get me to let them copy my papers. They dropped me fast when we all got in trouble and I continued on muddling my way through the inscrutable (to me) labyrinth of the junior high social hierarchy. I am still pretty confounded by social stuff but these days I have an idea why and have developed a few coping mechanisms.

Guess what? I will never be a real writer but life did get better and the stuff I learned from Mrs. Pratt and a few other unsung old-fashioned (or not) English teachers has stood me in good stead throughout my series of careers. Not that I exactly knew what to do today with the second word of a hyphenated word in a title-cased report name. (Got that?) To capitalize or not capitalize. That was the question. I didn’t know the answer but I do know how and where to look this stuff up.

P.S. I bet 50/50 odds that the kid who wasn’t gonna be no milkman (and I do NOT even know who it was), is either dead or owns a house five times the size of mine with marble everything and a big indoor swimming pool and, oh I dunno, six vee-hickles maybe. Or at least a blasted Roomba. Because I HATE to vacuum. Probably the girls that befriended/dropped me too. Alas, I am just slogging along. But that’s okay.

What does it mean when your boss starts following you on Twitter while you’re on vacation?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

weaverI suppose it could mean a lot of different things, depending on who your boss is and who you are and what you do for a living, etc., etc., ad nauseam. I happen to work in one of the more stodgy industries around and I happen to have a great boss who puts up with me and my sometimes rather quirky behavior pretty darn well. I doubt he reads this, I’m just saying. Anyway. The reason for the Twitter follow was to send a communication to me and frankly, although my first reaction was to absolutely dissolve in laughter, it was an ingenious method! Think about it. If your boss *calls* you while you are on vacation, what are the first and second and third things you think? Hmm… 1) I am fired. 2) I have done something absolutely unforgiveable (and am fired). 3) I dunno what three is, you can use your imagination but it surely includes some version of “I am fired”. But Twitter? I dunno if anyone has ever been fired on Twitter, maybe it has happened. But it certainly wasn’t my first thought and, indeed, he was trying to arrange a fun team outing and wanted to know my availability for it. So yes, I follow my boss (and vice versa) on Twitter. It’s okay. We’re both adults. He’s got too much going on in his life to be running for King of Twitter and I go in spurts and both of us are pretty careful about what gets tweeted.

This entry really isn’t about my boss. It was an interesting summer technology-wise in general and Twitter also came in handy for meeting up with our northern correspondent Paulette. She’s the one who notifies us when the seagulls return in the winter and other important events. And so. Paulette on a rainy Saturday afternoon: “Have you seen this interesting larvae?” Clumpity clumpity, a whole bunch of folks clump down to the beach to check out the larvae and end up seeing all *kinds* of interesting wildlife including the crayfish that serves as my current Twitter profile pic. Paulette early one morning: “I’m on the Yoga Rock!” KW finishes up some breakfast chores just in time to meet Paulette on her way back from the Yoga Rock. Paulette on a beautiful evening: “Whine on the beach!” Clumpity clumpity, KW clumps her way down to Paulette’s end of the beach for whine. Pooh and Fudge (or Sophie?) in attendance. Yes. If it is particularly important to get hold of someone *right now*, we use phones or text messages or whatever. But Twitter has led to some very serendipitous moments.

Oh yeah, that photo? Old technology anyone? The Commander has her loom set up on the beach. I dunno when this was. I’m sure I wasn’t around yet, although I very clearly remember the loom (it’s still around) and even those canvas beach chairs (which are not around). But I think this was before I was born and it may be *well* before I was born because they were married for 11 years before they had their first child. The child that turned out to be me.

Git those dad-blasted scammers!

Monday, August 24th, 2009

paintedrocksThe Reservation Rewards folks, to be specific here. Wave to Mary and the gang. They monitor the blogosphere, don’tcha know. It was the spring of 2007 when I looked at one of our credit card statements and what I saw there snapped me out of the fog I’d been bumbling through for the last two years of losing The Engineer and Grandroobly and quitting my so-called job and the beach urchins fledging to college and California, yada yada.

It wasn’t a lot of money. My credit card wasn’t maxed out with trips to Timbuctoo on the space shuttle. It was a $10 a month charge from an organization called Reservation Rewards. The problem was that I had no memory of signing up for anything from any organization that would incur a $10 a month charge for what amounted to nothing. They had been charging my credit card that fee for 13 months. Yes. Say what? I think they count on the fact that some folks will not notice a small charge on their credit card, even if it happens every month. And I didn’t during that time span. But… You can click here to read what I cobbled together more than two years ago about the whole thing. Was it really that long ago? Kee-reist. I got all $130 back and then after it was all done, a $99 charge appeared on that VISA from some different organization. One that smelled to my supernose a lot like Reservation Rewards although after some serious googling, I couldn’t connect the two. I managed to get that thing reversed too after some painful labyrinthine phone calls and I have been watching my bank accounts and credit cards online like a hawk ever since then. No further problems. I feel that Reservation Rewards engages in deceptive practices and my brain was thinking “class action lawsuit” at that time but I certainly didn’t have the knowledge or the energy to start one up.

Hahahahahah! Today! The GG sent me a link to a class action lawsuit against none other than Reservation Rewards! You’ll have to copy/paste the link into your browser if you’re interested, it broke my wordpress page: http://webmarketingsettlement.com. These Reservation Rewards folks (don’t forget to wave at Mary and the gang) need to be shut down. I am not going to participate in the class action lawsuit, I don’t think. I got all of our $130 back and, if I have it right, the most we could get out of it would be an additional $20. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe I should join the suit to keep this kind of stuff from happening again… I couldn’t care less about the $20 but… Hmm…

Good night,
Kayak Woman

P.S. If all of you blogosphere-monitoring folks from Reservation Rewards have found this goofy little blahg, you can comment if you want but please don’t bother contacting me by email. I just hope all of you will decide to find a legitimate business to work in.

Ramp up, Kayak Woman!

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

buttsYes, you do have a blahg to write tonight, even though you don’t have a lot to say. Or actually you have a *lot* to say but your brain is doing the writer’s block thing or the stuff you would like to write about edges over into the dark side. What dark side? There are two of them. One of them is the whole category of “I-can’t-blahg-about-that”. That means a whole lot of things that I won’t even begin to describe here today. The other one? Oh, it is only the days when my poor, incomplete little bag of life, DNA, body and brain are not working in synch and I am howling at the moon. Or the people inside the house although I am not doing that kind of howling today. I’m just doing it inside my old bag.

Okay. What the heck did I write above there? It is only to say that I am human and I have bad days or weeks and good days or weeks and last week was a bad week and I was questioning who I was and I dunno why because people everywhere were all treating me very nicely and sometimes I think I have it all figured out but somehow a black cloud tried to settle. I beat it back!! I think. It is the end of summer. Even though I enjoy the other seasons a lot, summer has always one of the best for me. When I was a beach urchin, it was the season of running around the beach and woods unfettered and with minimal parental involvement. And I am off the track again. Sigh.

So. those butts there are scraping paint off the old Houghton Lake garage. I am not sure what that old child-sized lawn chair is doing there. I think that if one of those ol’ boyz sat on that chair, he would destroy it. Good night from yer favo-rite writer’s block blahgger. Except I can’t really claim writer’s block because I am just an old bag who writes a blahg. Kee-reist! ’nuff said.

G’night,
KW

Now where did I put that spreadsheet? Hmmm…

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

wheelHey, it’s Black Iron Days festival this weekend? Yeah, I’m in! I haven’t been to Hartwick Pines in probably 15 years and I think it’s been longer than that since I’ve been to Black Iron Days. I’m usually not at the group home the same weekend as Black Iron Days is scheduled. I might be in the area, rocketing by on the I75 SUV Speedway. No time to stop, gotta get back to the Planet Ann Arbor to my swampy, rodenty, cluttered landfill and work et al. Not today. It is the end of August and I am actually at the group home at Houghton Lake and it is colder than blue blazes here and drizzly. I didn’t quite need any little knit glubs today but it was a great day to be wandering around amongst all the blacksmiths with their hot coal fires.

And so we filled the Ninja vee-hickle with folks and hot-rodded (of course I am waaaaayy overstating that) up to Hartwick. We parked far enough away that we were able to walk through the beautiful old forest to get to the festival. I’m not going to write a whole bunch about the festival. It was fun, we talked to a lot of friendly artisans there including an Otto who lives near the moominbeach and has been acquainted with some members of my family as well as another Otto that we all know and love. I didn’t buy anything today except a hot dog and a cup of coffee from the boy scouts. I did pick up a bunch of business cards. I really wanted to buy some cute little trinkets for my beach urchins but then I remembered that they are not six and nine any more and they definitely do not need fancy bubble makers with sparkly stuff tied all around them. Although, as one woman pointed out, maybe it is *me* who needs one o’ them thar fancy bubble makers with the sparkly stuff tied around them.

Alas. The only problem. I didn’t consult The Spreadsheet at any time during the last week and so we totally missed the Marquis and Pooh on their return trip to the Planet Ann Arbor and then Saint Louis. The irony is that we narrowly missed seeing each other today. To make a long, complicated story short, I was standing on the main street in Grayling and I asked, “Where are you?” “Oh, we’re south of Grayling.” Our summer is not quite over yet but it was a hectic one and I feel very sorry that I didn’t have more time to spend with many of my cousins and their families. I do love you guys.

We are grilling stuff at the group home now. No, we won’t burn the place down. Faarrrr later? Hope so. Y’all down there in Florida, thanks for letting us know when the webcam doesn’t work and as I write this, I realize that the lakeside is still not working. Hand hang on to your shorts! And click here or on the photo for more.

Oh, just chill, ya ol’ bag.

Friday, August 21st, 2009

toasterbobMe, that is! I’m sure y’all are chillin’ just fine! (Sorry fer the slang, Mus Musculus.) I have somehow managed to make it through an entire week of work. The week after my annual vacation, that is. Work was fine, actually it gave my brain a refuge from, well, you know, my brain! My brain at work is nothing like my brain in my chaotic, cluttered house. At work, it is pretty calm, measured, and collected. Or not. I suppose there are a few co-workers who might think I am even more nuts than they already think I am if they stumble upon this bunch of blather.

Anyway, we are at Houghton Lake and I am totally sick of the blasted freeways, just like I usually am at this time of year. Oh where, oh where did my floo powder go? Oh where, oh where can it be? It wasn’t even one of those trips from hell. We took the Lansing route and there were no slowdowns anywhere. It rained pretty hard for a few minutes but no tornadoes touched down anywhere near us. In fact, I doubt there were tornadoes anywhere in the Great Lake State today. The clouds we did see from about Lansing through the rest of the trip were indescribably gorgeous and they will have to remain that way because I was driving. If I hadn’t been driving, I’d’ve dredged out the GG’s digital cam and taken some photos. I may have even gotten off on an exit to do that. Oh yeah, I am using the GG’s cam because I left mine at Fin Family Moominbeach. I did *not* leave my UFP up there this time but I *did* forget to bring it to Houghton Lake this weekend. My brain is on drugs. Psychedelic ones. Don’tcha know. Or maybe fried egg ones.

For the first time since early June, we are here for the whole weekend. Maybe I’ll be able to find the quilt magazines/patterns that I left up here then and have forgotten to look for every blasted time I have passed through here all summer. The last time I was here, it was just an overnight but the 20-somethings were here with us and I miss them. This weekend it’s just a bunch of old farts. And there is one of them, Toaster Bob, in the pic. And Hurricane Bill is sitting across the kitchen from me reading random blahgs on my old Powerbook. It’s supposed to be unseasonably “cool” tomorrow. What the heck? It’s been unseasonably cool all summer. G’night. -KW

Driving and flying and drinking and driving

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

runwaySomething like that. When we left the North Country Trail last Friday, we stopped by the old WWII Raco airfield on our way back to Fin Family Moominbeach. We had two vee-hickles, and I was riding behind in the “girl power car” with Uber Kayak Woman and Pengo Janetto. When we got onto the old runway, the “boy car” hit the gas and we all just cracked up watching the testosterone shoot down the runway at 95 mph or whatever, in the old Dogha. Go, boys, go.

UKW and I took our time driving the old runways. The ones where weeds are growing up all along the cracks in the cement. My dad and UKW’s dad were pilots in the Army Air Corps back in WWII. (No, they never flew out of Raco. Not sure anyone did?) The AAC went on to become the Air Force and her dad went on to become a colonel. My dad quit the AAC after WWII and, after factory stints in the Detroit auto industry and the old tannery in Sault Ste. Siberia, he joined his dad in the banking business, a business in which you can get into all kinds of “shit”, as I’ve written a few times before. It’s not easy to find “official” info about the Raco airbase but I found this website (link should work now). Scroll down for Raco. It was supposed to protect the Soo Locks from air raids but none ever happened there, not that I was born yet.

I think I can vaguely remember when Raco was still closed to the public when I was a kid. That was a long time ago, back in the 50s and now the Raco area is more well-known for blueberry picking. The GG re-discovered the old airfield back in the 1990s. It was wide open by then and he used it as a driver’s training area for anyone over about the age of eight. Yes, that was probably illegal but, yaknow what? It is not a bad thing for a young child to learn to drive well before the age of driver’s ed. Especially when they learn to drive stick. Y’all, teach your children to drive early if you can. The longer they drive with you, the more practice they get. That is all.

Delete Tweet

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

culvertNo one was hurt.

Yes, I deleted three tweets off of Twitter last night. I had tweeted them in rather extreme, overblown anger.

Even though no one was hurt.

I have not had the best week. Absolutely no reason for having a bad week, not even the reason I tweeted the nasty tweets last night. (And then deleted them.)

No one was hurt.

What’s bugging me? The usual. I had to return to the Planet Ann Arbor last weekend from Fin Family Moominbeach and I kind of crash-landed and there was a dead rodent somewhere that we couldn’t find and this place is a cluttered mess and clutter stresses me out something awful. Something like this happens every year, you’d think I would learn the danger signs. On the other hand, work has been a blast with a Star Trek outing on Monday and an avalanche of stuff to do since then, which I like.

And yaknow, no one was hurt.

And then, last night, the GG dragged me out to the Apple Store at Briarwood Mall. I am not crazy about Briarwood Mall and I am not crazy about the Briarwood Apple Store, click here to find out why. And yes, it has improved a bit since then. There is now a genius who can operate a checkout thingie. Which was good because we were out there to buy one o’ them thar terabyte drive thingamajigs. For the 18,000 photooooos in my iPhoto, don’tcha know. But we didn’t need any help from the sales staff to buy that, we just had to make the decision. The mall was closing as we left with our latest expensive piece of electronical clutter and it was dark when we hit the freeway.

But no one was hurt.

Which was a good thing, because when we exited the freeway at an exit that I take almost every work day, at least when it isn’t snowing or something, we were about to turn into the street and, ka-whomp!

No one was hurt but I go into some kind of maniac mode when somebody hits my vee-hickle. I have been in exactly one accident in my life and that was when I was 17 and there was glare ice and it happened in front of the funeral home and you can guess what kind of thoughts ran through my parents’ minds when they happened along minutes after it happened. But no one was hurt and IT WASN’T MY FAULT! I love to drive and I would like to think that I am good at driving. I know. Everyone thinks that. But I am always very alert, I rarely use my phone in my vee-hickle (I *hate* talking on phones), and the older I get, the more patient I get. At least I’d like to think so. Some people might disagree. But I don’t get into accidents. Knock on wood. (Er, this doesn’t count the time I was sitting in the Jeep in the Commie High parking lot and the kid with the fake leg sticking out of his trunk hit me and knocked me over the parking space barrier. That was not my fault either.)

No one was hurt. But I was itching to fight with whatever stereotype I thought the driver fit. You name it. Instead, he APOLOGIZED to me. Sincerely and humbly. Even though I was not the driver, just the crazy woman in the passenger seat who was freaked out that “her” “fancy” little 6-speed manual Honda Civic SI had been bumped from behind. The woman who was not hurt in the slightest.

I dunno. I won’t say anything about the person who bumped into us. But I bet he had a worse day than I did and I spent most of today feeling remorseful about being such a you-know-what. All I can do is try harder tomorrow.

The melody-bass polarity of shoreline dreams

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

shipWhen I read the RegenAxe blahg early this morning, there was talk of freighter dreams. Now there is a spectacular photo of a hummingbird that the GG is familiar with. So go there. The Marquis and Pooh of RegenAxe are hanging out up on Fin Family Moominbeach and I wish I was still there but I am down here earning a good living at a job I love and that is how it is for the moment. I had the usual crash landing but I am okay and who knows what’ll be next in life.

Everybody who has spent any time on Fin Family Moominbeach has a common dream about great lakes freighters coming in front of the island. Great lakes freighters are big! 700-1000 feet long. They are close enough to the moominbeach that we can read their names with binoculars. The boat in the photo is not a freighter, it is much too short and it has all those lights on it. It’s a passenger ship. But the edge of the island is on the right and the Pickle Finger is on the left and that boat is about to travel in front of the Pickle Finger and then make a right turn out into Whitefish Bay and Lake Superior. I have probably spent more time at the moominbeach than many and I have quite the overactive imagination and actually, I usually don’t dream about freighters coming on the beach side of the island. I usually dream about crazy shoreline changes. Islands where we don’t have islands. Rivers in strange places. Fighting wars with guns and everything on inland lakes back in the swamp. You name it.

I suppose I have probably had freighter-inside-the-island dreams, I just don’t remember them. I do have a freighter dream though. A few years ago. In the dream, I was standing in The Commander’s cabin, looking out the front picture window. A huge 750-foot type freighter with forward and aft cabins (Edmund Fitzgerald style) came screaming along through the woods, along the old road from the Don/Katie direction. Just before it hit the east picture window, it veered off toward the lake, still at a very high rate of speed. It went airborne somewhere in the woods in front of the cabin, flew over the beach, and crashed KER-SPLASH!!! into the lake, where it promptly turned onto it’s its side (hit me about that apostrophe!). My brain was screaming at me to run down there and try to rescue people (the water is *very* shallow there, if they didn’t die upon impact, they could STAND UP, fer kee-reist!) and call the Coast Guard. And then my brain woke me up!

I think I have blogged about that dream before and I would have to find it (which I am not gonna do right now) to figure out if it was prescient at all. Whether or not it was prescient, it was definitely related to an earlier incident involving a deer, Sam (dog, not archaeologist), and Piglet (best guinea pig ever). But I am done for tonight. G’night.

Star Wars Starbucks Star Trek

Monday, August 17th, 2009

bridgeIt isn’t easy to get my work team involved in team building exercises or outings or bonding things or whatever. We are the so-called geriatric team. When somebody mentions going out for a beer after work, we all scurry for home, veg out in front of the TV, and go to bed at 8:00 PM. Or something like that. I don’t want to say that team-building stuff isn’t important for baggy old folks like us but the truth is that we already get along well and treat each other with respect. Although we are certainly not above a little good-natured teasing. But the days of Technical Staff Meetings that start at 5:30 PM at the local watering hole are pretty much long over for us.

Today, we went on a team outing! It was arranged by our long-suffering, cat-herding boss. We took a trip to the Detroit Science Center to see the traveling Star Trek exhibit. Not all of our team members are Trekkies. A couple of us hardly know anything about Star Trek but we were game. What the heck, it was most of a day away from work, and for me, that meant a virtual extension of my vacation busman’s holiday. Although I did manage to do triage on my piled up email before we left this morning. A few real Trekkies who are not actually on our team tagged along.

I have a strange, minimal knowledge base about Star Trek. In the first place, when the original TV series came out back in the 60s, I am not sure that we even had a channel that carried it up there in Sault Ste. Siberia. We first got TV when I was two years old and for many years, we only had the CBC network, and then CBS. You had to have rabbit ears to tune either of them in with any great clarity. By the time we got cable TV, I was a teenager and busy with other things. I do remember little bits and pieces of Star Trek, including the major characters. Who doesn’t? Then. In the late 1980s, when the beach urchins were small, Detroit channel 50 showed Star Trek re-runs every Sunday evening at 6:00 PM. I would turn that on while I was cooking dinner and the beach urchins would hang out at the table in the kitchen drawing and whatever. Although I remember bits and pieces of plotlines, et al, it was mainly a pleasant background “music” to life at the landfill. And then, one Sunday, I turned on the TV at 6:00 PM, expecting to see yet another Star Trek re-run but it wasn’t there. Star Trek had been replaced by Star Search 90. A talent show. A pretty bad talent show. Without a gong. Alas. Star Search 90 became the new Sunday night dinner cooking “music”.

Today, I think I have become a Trekkie! Well honestly, I doubt if I will *ever* be a real Trekkie. But I had an absolute blast. My boss was in his element and he and some of the other Trekkies seemed to delight in educating a newbie (me) in the finer parts of Startrekabilia. Team-building exercise/outing/whatever? Yes!!! And I think that a few DVDs are in my future. Netflix, areya ready?

P.S. Mouse update. Thank you Jan. I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of a gas leak. That was a scary thought but I don’t think it’s that this time. The smell is in a very localized area and I think it’s abated a bit today. Mrs. Commander, it is not in the refrigerator. I took *everything* out of the refrigerator yesterday and cleaned it and threw a bunch of stuff away. Not because of the rodent, because I couldn’t remember what was in there before we left! I think you should write about that Garden City mouse-in-the-refrigerator experience some day!

P.S.S. Er, regarding the title, I referred to the exhibit as both “Star Wars” and “Starbucks” today. That last was when we were *in* the exhibit. Practicing to be an octogenarian? Hmmm.

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle…

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

eyeYou know how it goes. We walked in the door yesterday after a long clunkity-clunkity drive down the infamously clunkity Great Lake State stretch of the I75 SUV Speedway. Both the beach urchins were home when we walked in — a rarity — and the younger one almost immediately said something like, “Dad, I know you just got home, but there’s a dead rodent somewhere in the kitchen and will you please get rid of it?” Seemed like a simple task at the time, right? Not. “Somewhere” is the key word here. It was not in one of the rodent traps under the sink. Actually, the rodent traps under the sink were not *set* while I was on my vacation busman’s holiday for a week or thereabouts in the Great White North. The traps were not set during that time for *precisely* the reason that we did not want to crash land back on the Planet Ann Arbor to find decomposing rodents. So what was up? We looked under the sink. Nothing. We looked behind the microwave. Nothing. Pulled out the regurgitator. Nada. I nagged, “pull out the dishwasher, it smells like it’s underneath the dishwasher.” Not. Looked *under* under the sink. Found the Upper Peninsula but no dead rodent. Outside? No, unfortunately. Honestly, I think it is rotting up in the wall somewhere. Alas. Wherever it is, the smell is the absolute sheer utter worst right in the spot where I do probably 98% of the food preparation. What to do? I am *not* going to take the walls apart. I guess I will just have to wait until it decomposes a bit further. Honestly, after a day spent largely in the kitchen, I was starting to feel a bit nauseated and when I took my afternoon walk, the smell stayed in my nose just about the entire time. It’s okay, I’ll live. I’ll be at work (Star Trek?) all day tomorrow. Hopefully I won’t smell like dead rodent when I get there. Not sure if I do or not.

Summer Odyssey 2009 is now officially over. The older beach urchin texted upon landing in San Francisco. She has to work tomorrow too. And she moved into a new living situation (house with 20-somethings) just before traveling out here to Moom’s Best Vacation Spot so now she’ll maybe have some time to settle in.

Me, I need to get shish-ke-bab ready for the grill. I am not crazy about the tedious job of skewering things. Onward.

Signing off from the Green Guy Cafe

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

greenguycafeAnd crash landing here on the Planet Ann Arbor. Laundry, groceries, CARWASH!!!, trying to figger out where the dead rodent is… A beautiful drive down through da yoop on the old roads. Tilson Road to Rudyard, then old US2 to St. Ignace, where we checked on the existence of Gay-able lodgings for a future weekend of fun for the Beautiful Gay and her friend. And, yes, there are casinos too. That is all.

We hit the freeway on the approach to the Mackinac Bridge and after that, things got progressively more boring as they always do. I finished the first book that I have actually finished since I went back to work almost two years ago. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Jane, I hope you don’t want it back. I am afraid I’ve more or less decimated it, my kids have given me grief about that. I’ll buy you a few coffees. I hope that finishing a book gets me back on track for reading. That is, reading a book for pleasure. I do keep the New Yorker in the bathroom so I can read it whenever I’m in there. I am a fast reader when I get down to it and that’s an old habit from when I had pre-schoolers. A lock on the bathroom door can be a good thing. As long as you have very good hearing and don’t spend the whole day in there or something.

Anyway, I used to get tears in my eyes when I left the beach but I was okay today. And I have been okay the last few years. I think I am finally learning to live in the moment. That isn’t easy for me. I don’t know how to put this into words but I am constantly looking ahead and counting up how many hours are left in the day or how many days and how are we gonna fit everything we want to do into the time that is left to us. At Fin Family Moominbeach, that is hard, because the weather changes about every five minutes and some of the stuff that is on the to-do list doesn’t happen because the weather is crappy. Beautiful always but not always suitable for swimming or kayaking. So, what do you do if your plans don’t work out? You change them. And be cheerful about that. Not always easy for me but I am learning.

North Country Trail

Friday, August 14th, 2009

pinkflowerbeesMorning hike from the Pine River on Forest Road 3139 (think that’s the right number, may be wrong) to Betchler Lakes. Six miles or so. Many flies and moe-skee-toes. With my shorts on, I was dressed more for the beach than a north woods hike. I knew it and somehow managed to grab some insect repellent on the way out. It turned out that the bugs didn’t seem interested in any of my exposed skin. They went for my shoulder blades instead. Which were under my new favorite tie-dyed tshirt. Go figure. No moose or bear were sighted but we did see bear scat here and there so we figured they were watching us. Our small contingent of fast-hiking 20-somethings managed to flush a couple of sandhill cranes and I think I’m going to have to download iBird after all. I was thinking that since I’m not really the serious birder of the family, we could get by with just one copy but maybe not. But those cranes made an absolutely indescribable sound and even though I could see big crane-like birds, I couldn’t absolutely identify them. And when Uber Kayak Woman said she had heard a kingfisher, all I could say was something like, “budda, budda, budda”. I had no idea what one sounded like. Home by way of the old Raco airbase, then beer on the beach and swimming with UKW.

Alas, my busman’s holiday on Fin Family Moominbeach is rapidly drawing to an end. Back down into Troll-land tomorrow. It has been a hot, muggy day and right now it looks like a storm is trying to form across the water. Click here or on the photo for more hike photos. Look for the huge clump of *pink* Indian Pipes and a sign of our next season at the end of the series. Cocktail hour awaits. Tequila and tonic anyone?

Cobbling together a boring bunch of blather on a busman’s holiday

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

sunsetfireFirst, some actual excitement! Last night a bunch of Moominbeach G4 20-somethings dug a huge firepit and built a beach fire. Siblings, 1st and 2nd cousins and a couple of significant others who are keepers in my opinion and that is all I will say about that because that kind of stuff is off blahgging limits, don’tcha know. The fire itself was a rare occurrence because of forest fire danger, not to mention sheer, utter laziness. Anyway, Uber Kayak Woman and I and some other G3ers sloshed down there with our wine glasses and, as darkness fell, we saw the light from a smallish powerboat over by the “point” at the Cedar Point end of the beach. It was moving s-l-o-w-l-y along the rocks down there and the light flashed on and off in an SOS pattern and we discussed the Morse code but dismissed the idea that it was an actual SOS. Which wasn’t very smart because pretty soon the boat was coming along the *beach* and then a couple of strangers appeared and it turned out that the boat had launched from the State Park a few miles down and RAN OUT OF GAS in the SHIPPING CHANNEL! and the boaters managed to paddle it over toward the point and then WALK IT ALONG THE ROCKS! In the DARK! The situation could’ve been a *lot* worse. The water was flat calm last night and the people in the boat had (hello) cell phones! What did we do without those back in the day? They had already called the DNR and a friend and sure enough, pretty soon we heard a big diesel pickup truck going along the back road. To make a long story short, the GG gave them some gasoline and we stood on shore and helped them navigate safely past the second sandbar before hitting the gas.

Today my 20-somethings left for Troll-land and beyond with two of them eventually returning to the Golden State. Work and what not. Do I miss them? Of course I do. I don’t know what the heck I ever did right as a parent. There was the good, the bad, and occasionally the ugly. Mostly I was just kind of bumbling along. Somehow, despite whatever I tried to beat into their brains, I have ended up with talented, highly capable kids. They know how to cook and they are willing to help with chores and errands and things even without being asked. So, this morning, we made a little farewell breakfast with eggs and hash browns and percolated coffee and fancy sausages from the Colony Market in Grand Blanc. It was warmer outside than in, so we ate out on the deck. The GG and the Commander spent the afternoon on the deck watching the hummingbirds and I spent the afternoon on the beach and yes! I am sunburned! Thanks for asking!

Getting on toward cocktail hour. One more day, hiking in the morning and then a Big Sweep. Back to the Planet Ann Arbor on Saturday with Sunday to gear up for work!

Aloha,
KW

P.S. Speaking of cell phones, I also used mine as a flashlight last night!

HB, Old Boy, and Thanks for the Beach Day!

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

I’m not sure where the heck you are these days. I haven’t seen the Ryerson in a while. Someone (was it Pengie?) said that it was not running this year. Anyway, we needed a beach day and we got an absolutely supreme one today. So, if you are at all responsible, thanks! Here are some photoooos of the Engineer on some other beach days, with cameo appearances of The Commander and Grandma Margaret. Click on them to enlarge. Yes, it’s one o’ them thar blasted galleries. I have had a long hard day of swimming and kayaking and burning my skin. It’s almost cocktail hour and I’m lazy and y’all can just deal! (Bwa-ha-ha)