Archive for September, 2009

I can tell when it’s one o’ *those* days, Moom…

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

beachgrassThat means, “Moom, it’s obvious you really don’t have anything much to blahg about today.” And it’s true. I’m just kind of head down boogity-boogity at work and since at least 50% of my job involves pickety-pickety writting writing (writting?), writing/writting that would bore ALL of you to tears within about one paragraph, the digital inkwell can run a little dry. You’re think something like, “well, why post if nothing happened.” Because. My grandfather kept a diary for a couple years back at the turn of the century. I mean the turn of the *last* century, the early 1900s. He didn’t go to college and I can’t think off-hand whether he even graduated from high school but he had the makings of a wonderfully creative writer. He used a small (moleskin?) journal and most of his entries were very short. Almost a century later, I enjoyed the mundane entries just as much as anything. I had no idea what life was like back in the oughts of the 19th century. Motorized automotive vee-hickles? Say what? I mean, maybe there were some (I’m not looking that up right now) but there was no way that the average Yooper family, including my grandfather’s family, owned a motorized automotive vee-hickle. So, even the more mundane entries were interesting. How did people get around town (a lot of walking), etc., etc.

So I will forge ahead even on *those* days because maybe someday my yet-to-be-even-thought-of grandchildren (like I’m sure I once was) will be on the edge of old and baggy (me, now) and, if they can find this goofy old blahg, maybe they’ll be able to envision a little bit about the life of their grumpy and cranky (spirited!!) old grandma. Back in the days of Twitter and Facebook and gasoline powered engines.

So, today. At the moment, the GG and I are fighting with just about the most poorly-designed umbrella on earth. We cannot get it to close! You are supposed to use a button to both open it *and* close it. It always opens just fine. I think I have managed to get it closed about two percent of the time. If the GG cannot do it, I give up. If I ever get the dern thing closed again, I am gonna throw it into the A2 Garbage Cart! Yes, I know how wasteful that is. I paid like $12 dollars for this thing and it is a total design failure. Gimme an old-fashioned bumbershoot any day!!!

I miss my newspaper. The actual *paper* version, that is. I *love* the internet. I am online all the time. I work on a computer that is connected to a LAN and the internet. If I am not at work using my work laptop, I am hanging out on my personal laptop, which is usually connected to the internet. And. I have an iPhone, so I can usually connect to the internet with that when my personal laptop cannot. I used to love to come home and read a *real* newspaper! I don’t find myself seeking out the on-line newspaper. It isn’t that it’s a bad newspaper. It’s just that on-line news isn’t part of my routine. I live for Thursdays and Sundays when we get a real newspaper.

Adding to that, my morning walk is getting scarier these days. Because there is no local daily newspaper any more, lots of folks have signed up to get the NY Times and the delivery person in my neighborhood hot-rods around in their Jeep Liberty at breakneck speed, flinging newspapers left and right. In the dark. Duck and cover, KW! Wonder what my grandaddy would’ve thought about that!

We will NOT TALK ABOUT OUR ONGOING ISSUES WITH BEING AWAKENED AT 4 IN THE MORNING BY A BLEEPIN’ SMOKE RAIN ALARM!!! Er, yes, it’s true, 4 AM is not all that much earlier than I get up in the morning. Still.

G’night, kiddo and all other long-suffering readers,
Kayak Woman

Jumpin’ off the old hamburgler stand deck

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

deckflowersThe cabin at Fin Family Moominbeach is closed for the long hardland of the Great Lake State Yooper winter. If it were up to me, I’d’ve prob’ly waited a few weeks more but it is not to be, at least not this year with the Cali trip in the mix, etc. I am not sure if The Commander intended for this particular container of flowers to be stashed under the back end of the deck but there it is. Maybe it’ll provide some food for some creature or other. And it’s just a plastic container so, if something happens to it, we’ll just buy a new one in the spring. Ho-hum. Er, not that we are trying to be wasteful or anything. Just saying.

Anyway, that railing that goes down the steps is new within the last five years or so. I can’t remember *exactly* when the GG built it but it is there so that octo-folk can get up and down the steps without losing their balance and falling. There is a railing on the front steps too (not shown) and you might be able to see the pee-rail back behind the step-railing. I’m not gonna say what that was for, you can use your imagination. Although it *is* stable enough to put drinks on while barbecuing.

When I was a kid and the deck was first built, there weren’t any railings anywhere. Us kids didn’t need no stinkin’ railing! In fact, most of the time, I was in such a hurry to get somewhere that I didn’t even bother with the STEPS! I would go out the door running and launch myself off the deck totally over the stairs onto the pine-needle-covered sand, jump over the baby pine tree that finally got so big that the octos cut it down (it was in the way of their parking spot) and then over to the Old Cabin or on down the old road or path to the old Mc Cabin or the Read cabin or THE POND (!!!) or wherever.

Some folks now need the railings. I don’t need them yet. I don’t (usually) launch myself off the deck over the steps anymore. I am actually still able to walk up to the back deck on the path from the Don/Katie/Betty direction and climb up onto the DECK, without using those steps, by reaching one foot a couple of feet up onto the deck and heaving the rest of myself up there. I wonder how long I will be able to do that. And what will make me decide I can’t do it any more.

Sucky guy clarinets and obnoxious trumpets and, well, er, there are always those raunchy old trombones.

Monday, September 28th, 2009

beachweedsCuriosity killed the cat and Kayak Woman took a Facebook quiz. As much as I stick my nose high up in the air about those Facebook quizzes, really, I am no better than anybody else slogging along on the those tubes and I do occasionally succumb to the siren call of a facebook quiz. I just don’t always put the results on my news feed or whatever it is. This morning? “What instrument are you?” popped up. Well. I spent the better part of my youth playing and eventually achieving a relatively high level of expertise on a certain musical instrument. So. What instrument am I?

Yiiiy!!! The clarinet!?!? NOT!!! REPEAT! NOT!!! Oh, I don’t have anything against the clarinet. It’s just that it is not MY instrument! MY instrument is the flute!!! I can remember being a very little kid and seeing pictures of flutes and thinking, “I WANT THAT!” I was HOT to learn where to put my little fingers on those complicated-looking keys. Two beloved older cousins played the flute too, when they were in high school. I admired them and envied them in general but the reason I picked the flute went farther than that. It was MY instrument. Gimme one o’ those flutes! When I finally got my hands on one of those crappy old instruments that they give 5th-grade band students, I was the first kid to get a sound and I went through the whole lesson book in about two weeks. I played piano too so I already knew how to read music (actually, until I got hooked up with piano lessons, I taught myself…). Anyway, I spent many years practicing the flute (and the piano) for *hours* every day and my original degree is in music. With a focus on flute, to be exact. Alas… I was very good at playing the flute but I don’t really have a performer’s personality. And teaching? You guys are lucky I’m not a teacher! It’s okay, I love computer work toooo. And that’s what I doooo.

But the clarinet!!! The thing that was really weird about this quiz result is that, back when I was a young college student and was still in the music education track, I took classes in how to play all of the other orchestral instruments. So I could teach them to young children. (If I didn’t kill the kids.) I picked most of those instruments up VERY quickly. Brasses? Check. Strings? Wow. Percussion? Yes. Clarinet? Hmm… I thought that I was so dern cool that I could just pick up a clarinet and be able to play it well right away, like the other instruments. NOT!!! I could NOT get a sound out of that thing. I tried and tried and tried for several weeks. No luck. The reed confounded me. Finally!!! A squeak and then something resembling a clarinet tone. The teacher and I both breathed a sigh of relief. I mean, the other instrument being studied in that class was the FLUTE. And I was known as a person who was good at the blasted FLUTE.

Anyway. The questions on these quizzes are always pretty weird and sometimes I can’t even answer them. Probably, if I had picked “things that make me look cute” for “favorite clothing” I’d have gotten the coveted “I am a FLUTE” answer. Because “cute” is part of the stereotype for flute players. At least high school band flute players. “Blonde” is probably part of that stereotype too. “Girl” is definitely in there… You should’ve seen what I wore to walk over to the Plum Market after work today. Cute? Not.

When I finally got around to reading the description of a clarinet player, I knew I’d been had. Only a high-school kid could’ve written this thing. Sigh. There are “sucky” guy (and gal) clarinet players. Some trumpet players are obnoxious and some are not. I dunno. I didn’t see what the young quiz-writer had to say about trombone players but I’ve lived with a couple of them and they can be dern raunchy. And some flute players do fit the cute, blonde (er, and arrogant) stereotype, at least when they are young. That’s all I’m sayin’. G’night!

Regrouping

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

beachfrompathIf yesterday was silent on the beach, today brought all kinds of folks out. I don’t mean that there were big crowds of folks, just, well, me and the GG and Paulette and Jeep and Pan and the Grinch. That was enough. It’s a big chunk of the beach population at the moment. Not that the GG and I are part of the current population because we’ve now landed back here (whomp!) on the Planet Ann Arbor.

Yesterday, I needed to walk alone and words are going to fail me here so it’s a good thing I talked about that yesterday. Today? I walked alone to the Doelle end and back. And then I saw Paulette down in front of her house. I had twittered “on the beach”. I wonder how many others are using twitter to invite their friends to meet them on the beach. I think it is a very cool use of Twitter. Anyway. I met up with Paulette and we walked the beach again. And when we turned around, there was the Grinch! I needed lots of folks on the beach today.

I only had an hour or so at the beach today. The cabin is closed up for the winter. No water any more. If I’d had to use the bathroom, I’d’ve used Harry’s outhouse. But I didn’t. And so. We who are left behind are going on into the future without Radical Betty. The beach feels different and lonely without Betty. She had one of the biggest spirits on earth. For all those years, when she was out of town on her many adventures, her presence was felt. So many summer afternoons, I’d be sitting on the beach and look up to see her carrying a beach chair and a basket of beer.

But we will go on. Today I walked the beach with our friend and neighbor Paulette. And then the GG and I met the Grinch at the Dancing Crane Coffeehouse before we flipped down through the res and Brimley and over to Tilson Road and down down down down south. And work tomorrow (hi-ho!) and maybe eventually, I will unpack… er, before we go to San Francisco in less than two weeks… Yes.

Radical Betty was a huge loss but all of us who knew and loved her will regroup in time. Love you all. And thanks to everyone who was on the beach today! Beach Folks, Fin Family or not…

Silence

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

beachI walked the beach today. Silence reigned. One flock of geese honked its way raucously up into the skyway. No wind, not a ripple on the water. The seagulls are gone. None of those buzz-sawing mo-skee-toes of early summer. I walked along the water’s edge. I splashed through the shallows. I walked along the bank, peering out through beach grass and pine needles. I watched the pilot boat guide two salties. Gliding silently downriver toward the locks and the lower great lakes to the St. Lawrence Seaway and the ocean.

I walked along the back road. Silence reigned. Except for the grokking of the raven and an occasional scolding squirrel. The summer cabins are all empty now. Pipes drained. Battened down for the coming hardland of the northern winter. I could hear the echoes of the past. My old dog Tigger barking wildly at the dastardly milkman. The slamming of the screen door on the old Mc cabin as the kids ran in and out. Kids (us!) running along the paths behind the cabins, down to the pond, making forts in the woods, everywhere. Lying in the dark listening to the grownups talk and laugh throughout the night.

I remembered a weekend in June. It was Radical Betty’s birthday and we were planning a party. When she landed in the hospital, it became a weekend of constantly evolving plans. Home and stable again, we had a birthday party. The last. Uber Kayak Woman took an afternoon off and we walked the ancient rocks to Cedar Point. It was a beautiful afternoon of battling sun and fog. The sound of seagulls and wind and waves hitting the shore.

It was silent when I walked today. Uber Kayak Woman walked with me. In spirit. In reality, she’s home in the San Juan Islands. I tried to conjure up the spirits of those who are on the other side. Walk with me in the silence of this beautiful early autumn day.

Click here or on the pic for photos of that June weekend.

Yu(go), if you want but I have a blahg entry to post!

Friday, September 25th, 2009

bigmac1Yu can go over the bridge if you have a Yugo. I made a sick joke there but it really isn’t funny at all. I went over the Mackinac Bridge today for about the umpteen millionth time. The first time I went over that dern bridge was when I was three. I can remember it, sorta. I doubt The Engineer would remember it much, being only a few months old at the time. But he was with us, big as life!

I had gone back and forth across the Mackinac Bridge about a billion times before someone actually drove off the bridge. Wiki is the best I can do for the moment. Her name was Leslie Pluhar and she was driving a Yugo (remember those?) and she was apparently driving too fast for the wind conditions. I was in the Landfill Chitchen on the Planet Ann Arbor on the evening before the incident and Grandroobly called me from the Moominbeach cabin. He stepped outside on the deck and held the phone out specifically so I could hear the wind howling! He and The Commander were having a great time then, years away from the frailty that comes with being an octogenarian.

I think about Leslie just about every time I cross the Mackinac Bridge. Lots of scenarios about how her car flipped over the side of the bridge were published after the incident and I have a hard time thinking about how her family dealt with that. I have never been afraid of the bridge but I have definitely been careful about observing the speed limit since her death.

In August of 2007, Mouse made our first blog post from the bridge. We were driving down to the Petoskey area for a Yarn Store Boondoggle and I had a brand new iPhone (the one I still have). She couldn’t post a photo of the bridge at that time from the iPhone. Nevertheless, our Mackinac Bridge post was a first, at least for our family. Nowadays, I post a bridge photo of some sort on Twitter and sometimes Facebook every time I go north. And wonder at how much life has changed since the Mackinac Bridge opened the first time I crossed it as a three-year-old with my parents and infant brother in 1957.

Car-train to Florida. Car-train to Florida. Car-train to… Oh, wait!

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

amtrakAlas. I am not on the car-train to Florida. Only in my dreams. There was a time when I did dream of the car-train to Florida. It was 1992 and we were on a long sojourn to Florida in our horribly over-packed red minivan. We had everything with us on that trip including Zack, Lurky, and the kitchen sink. Or maybe Zack and Lurky were on an earlier trip, Anyway, it was waaaayyy before you could twitter or friend people on Facebook, in fact only the hardcore geeks could manage to navigate the internet, but we just *had* to take our old MacPlus computer. Too bad we didn’t pack the keyboard. It’s a little weird to think that nowadays the GG and I alone usually travel with 3-4 laptop computers plus our two iPhones. You do the math.

Instead of driving straight down the I75 SUV Speedway, we took the loooong route, visiting Washington DC, the Maryland shore, and Chincoteague Island along the way and then on (and on and on) down toward the Sunshine State. We were somewhere along I95 and we were at the point where we really didn’t care that the almost-five-year-old was climbing all over the interior of our vee-hickle (just like I did when I was a kid), when I started seeing billboards about the Amtrak car-train to Florida. You and your vee-hickle could get on in New York and, when you disembarked, you would have your vee-hickle right there with you! We had seen all kinds of wondrous sights and I think I will always remember walking along the shore on Chincoteague (in my down coat) but man, I was taaarrrred by that time and we were slogging down the freeway in South Carolina or somewhere and Mouse was bouncing all over everywhere and I was dreaming about taking that car-train. Note that my brain was ignoring the fact that the car-train began its journey in New York City and I live in Michigan and, at that point, there wasn’t an opportunity to join the car-train. Car-train, car-train, car-train. I will write more about that trip to Florida some other time. We did a lot of fun things and it was wonderful and memorable, although I would like to forget the raging swimmer’s ear infection that I managed to contract. And maybe a few other little details… At least my “biorhythms” weren’t all screwed up on that trip.

Tonight. There is no car-train from The Planet Ann Arbor to the Great White North. An Amtrak passenger train runs through town a couple times a day but it goes to Chicago and that ain’t anywhere near the Great White North, although folks in Florida might think of it that way. Us? Lemme see. Fly Honda Express. We knew ahead of time that a fiery truck accident had US23 all snarled up so we swung over and up the Lansing route which was infested with construction and closed exits and bridges and then I had one sorta near deer miss north of Mt. Pleasant after it started getting dark. Sigh. We are here at the Houghton Lake Group Home and I hope the blasted webcam isn’t pointed at me but I am too fried to check that out.

Tomorrow? Well, stay tuned and you will see.

Ditzy is the new cool?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

headlamp“I’ve tried and tried and tried to stop texting while I’m driving and I just can’t do it!” I was heading home in stop-and-go traffic on State St. today, warily watching the fancy-looking cell-phone yapping gal in the Escalade behind me through my rear-view mirror, when I heard a ditzy-sounding teenage girl say that (or something like that) on NPR. The scariest part of this story was that the person in question (was her name really “Brandi”? Or “Brandy?”) had been in no less than two serious vee-hickular accidents by the age of 19. BECAUSE she was TEXTING WHILE DRIVING. BOTH TIMES!!! The first time, she was knocked unconscious with very serious injuries that took her quite a few months to recover from. Now, wouldn’t you think that would be enough to make a person decide to not drive while texting (or whatever distracting behavior)? Not. The next time, she rear-ended a semi-truck. That time, she was okay. I don’t think her vee-hickle was. I wonder who was stoopid enough to buy (or loan) her a second vee-hickle after she crashed the first one.

What scared me the most about this was not necessarily that Brandi/Brandy crashed her vee-hickle while text messaging. It was that the reporter interviewed a number of teenage children and all of them were very cavalier about how they used their phones to text while driving. I can’t find the article on-line at the moment but these kids were all saying how cool it was to text while driving and “everybody does it” and their parents were all stooopid and all the usual stuff. Sorry, but all of these kids that were interviewed sounded ditzy to me. I was ready to strangle each and every one of them. But I wonder. My own once-teenagers and their friends were, for the most part, not very ditzy. They were young people who were learning, and sometimes struggling, to make their own way in the world. Figure out their own identity. They loved to have fun, party with their friends, everything that makes life worth living. But ditzy? Not. Most of these kids were pretty responsible and articulate when it came right down to it. Were the kids NPR interviewed just playing around with the reporters? Or is ditzy really the new cool? Or did my kids really and truly avoid the ditzy ones…

I dunno. I can’t say I haven’t *ever* texted on my phone in one of my vee-hickles. But it is a pretty rare occurrence. I learned how to drive when driving was still fun. My parents loved to drive and so did my brother and I. But driving was (and is) an activity in itself. It is an opportunity to get to your place of employment quickly (hopefully). It’s an opportunity to see the world, highways and byways and even two-tracks. But, with the opportunities, there’s also the HUGE responsibility of handling a fast-moving motorized vee-hickle on a road with other similar vee-hickles. To me, the acts of driving, accelerating and decelerating, turning and braking are actually fun. Add in a stick shift and going up and down through the gears is the ultimate in fun. Navigating the labyrinth of dealing with other vee-hickles just adds to the fun. On most days…

Texting isn’t the only driving distraction there ever was but, fer kee-reist, when I am in my vee-hickle, I find it to be a small quiet spot in the midst of whatever chaos is going on. I focus on whatever is happening on whatever road I’m on and I usually love driving (er, unless I’m on the southbound I75 SUV Speedway and the Zilwaukee Bridge is closed.) Why can’t we teach our children that driving requires extreme focus and that is one of the things that makes it fun? Why do we (or our children) need to have a distraction while driving? And where did NPR find these hopelessly clueless ditzy teenagers?

Am I nuts or what?

Minor annoyances (not terribly kid-friendly, I finally gave up and used the D word in this)

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

waterplantsWhen I took off for my walk this morning, it was just after six and I could not figure out whether it was the trees or the clouds that were raining. Or misting would be a better word. It was a beautiful morning, all in all, but I had not taken an umbrella with me and so my glasses were getting all misted up and since they don’t have veeeeeendsheeeeeld vipers on zem, my ability to see anything was getting rather diminished. I wavered for about a block. Go back and get my umbrella? Or not. I didn’t. It was okay, the weather dried up just a bit.

When I got home, my feet were filthy from walking in the woods and so I ran some water in the Blue Tub and washed them. 30 seconds later, I was sitting at my computer in the Landfill Chitchen and beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeppppppp beeeeeeeeppppp beeeeep beeepp. It was the newfangled hard-waaaarrrred smoke rain alarm that we were mandated to install after the last tree fell on our house. Yes, there have been two tree incidents. I was pretty darn sure there wasn’t a faaarrrrr anywhere. I know faaarrrrs can happen fast but there was NO faaaarrrr anywhere, just a dern stoopid smoke rain alarm that goes off when it’s extra humid outside. Which it was, plus I think I kicked it over the edge by the small act of washing my feet in the bathtub without turning on the bathroom fan. Who knew?

This time it was relatively easy to get the dern thing to shaddap. I reached into the “broom closet” and flipped the big attic fan on. It turned off and didn’t turn back on. But yaknow? These things are an annoyance. I am not trying to say that they aren’t important and don’t save lives. I know they do. I don’t even mind that they are a bit over-sensitive. But can’t we make these things a bit more user-friendly. Eh? Okay, I think I know why we always install them near the ceiling. But whaddya do when they go off in the middle of the night for some random non-faaaarrrr-related reason and you are scrambling to find a stool or chair or something so you can get up there and pull the damn (sorry) thing down so you can get the battery out or whatever. What if you are in a WHEELCHAIR!!!! Or sick. Or whatever.

I’m brainstorming here. First, we have waaarrless technology these days, roight? So. When the blasted battery is about to expire (and even my hard-waaaarrrred smoke rain detector has one of those, which is one reason it’s so damn hard to turn it off), why can’t it be “smart” enough to email or text me? Or at the least, it could be set to not start beeping about the battery until morning! If the battery is just getting low, why not wait until people are awake and relatively sentient. It’s not an emergency, especially if the blasted thing is also hard-waaarrred to the house lucky-shuckial system. And of course we could lose power too but I’m not sure I’m ready to figger that out yet.

Also, for those occasions when the damn thing goes off because of RAIN (or bacon), how about some kind of remote-control system that would allow you to push a button to turn the blasted thing off. I know, I know. What if a little kid grabbed the remote unit and turned it off during a real fire? That possibility would have to be thought through. What I think would happen more often is that the adults in the house would stash the remote control unit in random spots and then not be able to find it when it was needed. Or mix it up with the TV remote control unit(s).

I dunno. These are just ideas. I think smoke rain alarms could be designed to be more user-friendly, especially with today’s technology. Smoke rain alarms have been around for my kids’ entire lives and one of them says that she has heard smoke alarms go off for nothing so many times in her life that she doesn’t much pay attention to them. Whaddya think? How can we make these things more user friendly?

Go ask Alice. I think she’ll know.

Monday, September 21st, 2009

sidewalkMy cube neighbor is not named Alice. Actually, Alice was one of the nicknames my old [beloved] boss from umpteen gazillion years ago gave me! I’m gonna call my cube neighbor Alice from now on. It’s a better name than Cube Neighbor and it isn’t her real name but she is definitely who I call on when I am having a Windows Moment.

Actually, this is kind of a rant. I do not have Windows Moments very often. Um, do y’all even know what a Windows Moment is? Well. It is when a person who has been using Apple computers for about a brazillion years has a work laptop that uses the Windows operating system and that person is computing along dum-de-dum-de-dum and then… Hmm, where is this function on this computer? I know where it is on my trusty old mailing-taped MacBook. Where is it on Windows? Make no mistake. My work laptop is a loverly little computer and it has never failed me [knock on wood]. And I will go to great lengths, even to the Great Google, to figure out whatever it is that has me stumped before I lower myself to the point of yelling over the wall to Alice for help. Not that I have to lower myself to ask Alice. She is a wonderful colleague who has been my patient mentor since day one.

That said. Yaknow, an operating system is an operating system is an operating system. We have had Apple computers here in the Landfill since 1979. Actually, we didn’t even live here at the Landfill in 1979. I can remember an Apple II Plus sitting on top of a dresser on 209 N. Seventh St., running a random number generated probability machine. And I can remember the boys of my youth playing the Space Eggs computer game all night long. Throughout the years, I have used all kinds of computers and operating systems thereof. Several mainframes, a mini-computer, and, later on, Macintosh and what we used to call IBM-compatible computers, which ran on a command-based language. Windows came along just as I was on my last legs at that job and I went forward into the world with the Apple machines we have always had at the Landfill.

I am not afraid of any operating system. I don’t always have time in my life or my job to learn new ones but if I have to I do. But just once in a while, I’ll be sitting there in my cube and I’ll be struggling to find some obscure function on my loverly little Windows laptop and I will get to the point where I will yell over the wall to Alice for help.

Disclaimer: The image is not a political statement. Not by me, anyway. It was on a Planet Ann Arbor sidewalk near downtown. I dunno who put it there. Republican? Democrat? I could go either way on this… Have a good night and if you are near a decent beach, have a ‘hattan for Grandroobly and The Engineer or a G&T for Radical Betty. Or both!!! I won’t tell.

Hawkfest 2009

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

erie11We don’t get to Hawkfest down at Lake Erie Metropark every year. I think I’ve written before about how much I love to roam the fringes of wilderness along the edges of this large urban park with its tennis courts and wave pool and large expanses of carefully groomed lawn. To me, it is especially beautiful early in the morning as the sun is rising. The light is indescribable. Somehow it feels almost tropical to me and yes, that is a really weird thing to say since this place is downriver from Detroit, fer kee-reist, and I have been there when it was snowing to beat the band with the wind blowing such a gale that I had to wear my snowpants and balaclava.

Hawkfest falls in mid-September and often coincides with the annual closing the cabin ritual. This year we have postponed closing the cabin just a bit and, since we were going to be here on the Planet Ann Arbor anyway, we jumped at the chance to head down to Hawkfest. I think I have said before that I am not anything resembling a serious birder. I actively watch birds and other wildlife in a random way. If I have seen a bird before, I can often identify it again, like when I recognized a killdeer today. There are killdeer along the ponds outside my work. It’s a good thing nobody was counting on me to notice the Mississippi Kite that was not in its regular migratory path because I hadn’t even heard of one of those before.

We did more or less our usual pattern of hiking down there. We participated in the Hawkfest pancake breakfast and attended the Howell Nature Center program on raptors, where we met a falcon, two hawks, a turkey vulture, and a snowy owl. All of the rescued birds that we met could not be released into the wild for one reason or another. I really enjoyed the program this year. The Howell folks are always good but I particularly liked today’s presenter.

I took a lot of photooooos and posted 22. I didn’t take bird photos although there is one groundhog. We saw a few of those tunneling around under the “rocks” down by the shore, rocks that I am sure were probably not there even 25 years ago. Y’all, I am trying something different with the photos this time. Instead of creating 22 little html files, I have put my photos on my Flickr account. I hope this works for people. If you don’t usually look at my stupid slide shows, you don’t care and that is A-OK. If you do, lemme know if this Flickr thing works for you. Or not. Er, please try…

Life at the Landfill, Episode #5673

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

scary“Moom, is there some kind of table that I can use to put my sewing machine on?” She wanted to set up her sewing machine outside and the only table out in our hillbilly-style back yard is a tippy old thing that the GG stole from some state park back in his mis-spent youth (or something like that). It should have been a simple request. I *own* a so-called sewing table. I have owned a so-called sewing table since I was in high school. But where was it? I’ve been using my old childhood desk for a sewing table for many years. Could I have gotten rid of the sewing table? I couldn’t remember getting rid of it. But heck, that doesn’t mean anything. Who knows what fit of madness I may have had back in all the chaos of raising teenagers and running a youth theatre guild. I mean, back in those days, I considered myself lucky if I didn’t have to make an emergency run for toilet paper.

Oh where, oh where has my sewing table gone? Oh where, oh where could it be? Ahem. I dredged out my hazardous waste suit and put my headlamp on and headed down into the Landfill Dungeon. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I peered to the left into my so-called studio. The one I have been s-l-o-w-l-y and painfully picking away at cleaning out since I don’t know when. I was actually making progress until this summer when somebody put me into a blender. I have made enough progress in that room that I could walk down the middle of it and look around the perimeter. And see that the sewing table was not there.

Next stop? The “library”. The previous owners (think 25 years ago) took great pride in their re-do of the once loverly basement that is now the Landfill Dungeon. They built two whole walls of bookshelves down there. There was a table (twin to the ugly one in my kitchen) and I bet they had some nice comfy chairs down there too at one time. Hmm, maybe that’s what spawned all those duct tape easy chairs that seemed to grow in the Landfill Dungeon for so many years. Nowadays? Yes, there are plenty of books on those shelves. And magazines and old ammunition from WWI or whenever. And then there are moldy old boxes of papers all over the floor and old dead computers and various peripherals. And other artifacts of antiquity. No sewing table. Sigh. That left one place to look…

The Freakout Chamber!!! Not my favorite place in the universe. It was dark in there. I reached for the pull-chain that theoretically turns on the bare bulb light fixture. No dice. Oh yeah, I have to flip the switch at the bottom of the Dungeon stairs. Only with that light on will I venture into the Freakout Chamber. Alas. That is the room in which I found my sewing table. Covered with power saws and about an inch of dust that could probably be carbon-dated back to the Jurassic Age. No way was I gonna uncover that table today.

Mouse was able to devise her own solution, as you can see here. I am joking about this being similar to how sewers work in Senegal. I don’t really know. I think probably there are a few who sew outside but I bet many of them work from home or a shop. Mouse knows more about this subject than I do since she’s lived there. The truth is that each Senegalese tailor probably sets up shop as it is most convenient. Inside or out. You can check out Mouse’s blahg for what she’s making right now. She is so much more patient with the details than I ever was when I was young and sewed my own clothing. Sigh.

P. S. The guy in the photo is on a painting in my basement and, yes, I am afraid of it. I forget what its history is…

P.S. Now that he is on my blahg in an iPhone photo, he isn’t as scary as he is in the Landfill Dungeon. Hmmm. A new facebook profile photo?

For Radical Betty and the other beach folk who have gone before.

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Bed is too small for my tiredness;
Give me a hillside with trees.
Tuck a cloud up under my chin.
Lord, blow the moon out, please!

rocks

Dancing Crane Coffeehouse

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

dancingcranefbAs much as I love Barry Bagels and Zingerman’s at the Plum Market, I miss the Dancing Crane Coffeehouse so much when I am down here on the Planet Ann Arbor. The coffeehouse is on the Bay Mills Indian Reservation, just down the road from King’s Casino. I think I only managed to get there once this summer. Sigh.

The Dancing Crane offers the same stuff as Starbucks but I think they do a better job and they are way more FRIENDLY!!!, plus they have smoothies of all sorts. They have wifi and you do not have to pay for it, like you do at Starbucks (last I knew, I’m not a Starbucks regular, partly because of that). If you need to plug your laptop into their powerstrip, they appreciate a tip. I always try to give an extra good tip anyway because I love the place so much. Da Yoop needs more places like this coffeehouse.

If you are not plugged in to the internet 24/7 like yours truly usually is, there are many beautiful books and board games and puzzles and, on one rainy Saturday afternoon in August, a musician entertained us from the intimate stage. If you are in Michigan’s eastern upper peninsula, the coffeehouse is a wonderful place to visit.

 

iClick. iClick. iClick.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Grok grok. So. Ol’ Baggy wuz asleep on th’ ol’ couch in th’ bak rooom last nite ‘n’ Mouse wuz tryin’ t’ wake th’ ol bag up ‘n’ I was clickin’ my i-balls t’gether ‘n’ it wuzzint werkin’. Enyway, click on my li’l thermommyter t’ heer th’ rest o’ th’ story ‘n’ heer me sing one o’ my favrit li’l ditties too!

upsidedownfrog

 

Grrr

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

mermaidOnce upon a time, back in the days when I was “rolling my own” blahg without the help of the wonderful WordPress blahgging platform, one of my entries was, in its entirety, “Grrr”. That’s right. That wasn’t even the title. I didn’t have titles back then. I edited an html file every day to add a new blahg entry. It’s okay, html is easy for me. I’ve been using it since 1998 or thereabouts, back in the Wild Wild West days of the World Wide Web. W6? I appreciate WordPress greatly and even more, I appreciate “my” web server guy, who does the blasted WordPress upgrades *for* me. But I still do my editing in WordPress html mode and my old-school slide shows are hand coded, baby! Cheap, dirty, and ugly but sometimes that’s all you need to get you through the night.

Anyway, I can’t find the “Grrr” entry in my archives. It involved some stressful events that occurred during an early morning departure from the Landfill to [Sault Ste.] Siberia. I don’t remember exactly what happened but someone (I won’t say who) was acting a lot like his father. Or maybe he was acting like my father. Either way, it was not fun. So, I posted my “Grrr” entry and the next time I looked at my email (I didn’t have a “comment page” in that roll-yer-own blahg) the Marquis had sent a message stating very clearly that “Grrr” was NOT a “proper” blahg entry. Say what? Obviously, the Marquis had not been at the Landfill that morning!

Anyway, I actually had a *good* day today. Productive and the whole nine yards. But I was grumpy. I was grumpy because I was taaarrrred of communicating with other people. I don’t mean the people I work with. Work was fine today. Just people in general throughout all the years of my life. So often, I feel like people think I don’t have a working brain. They tell me the same blasted stories over and over again. Or I make an off-hand comment about a small problem I have that I am already figuring out solutions for and they jump in to offer all kinds of overwhelming irrelevant suggestions. Or they ask me questions and don’t listen to the answers. Or I make an off-hand, rather sloppy comment about something trivial and they correct me!!!!! Or they tell me, repeatedly, how to do something that I already know how to do. Occasionally, it’s something I even have *expertise* in. Maybe even more expertise than they do. What? Little ol’ baggy ol’ me? Expertise in something? Naw, that baggy ol’ bag wouldn’t know anything about that. Kee-reist!

I think I had more to say but that is probably enough for now. And I don’t always feel like this. It was just bothering me today. And I probably do this stuff too… If I have done it to you, I apologize. Sigh. G’night.

DON’T SPIT!!!

Monday, September 14th, 2009

river04You guys can we talk? And I mean guys. Those of the male gender. Gals if you are grossed out by spit, quit reading. Now.

I am not exactly grossed out by spit. As long as it doesn’t land on me or any of my belongings. I just don’t quite get it. I’ve been watching and listening to people spit for one heck of a long time now. Like ever since I was born and I’ll betcha a double nickel you can’t guess when that was. Anyway. Is spitting somehow connected to the Y chromosome or is it some kind of rite of passage that gets passed down from male to male throughout the generations?

The Old Coot, that is my old coot, used to spit. Regularly. If he was in the house, he would at least spit in the toilet if my memory is accurate. Outdoors? Any place that was convenient. Was it related to his occasional cigar habit? I don’t know. I remember when The Engineer was maybe about three and the two of them would stand there (where? somewhere, anywhere) and they would SPIT! To be honest, I don’t remember whether The Engineer spat in his adulthood or not. But he sure did emulate his dad when he was a little kid.

And then there was the time when The Old Coot had morphed into Grandroobly and he and his teensy tinesy little granddaughter Lizard Breath took a walk. She was riding her tricycle down the Landfill sidewalk and he was walking alongside. And. Haaaccccchhhhh-ppptuuuii. Yes. Grandroobly apparently felt the urge to spit. “DON’T SPIT!” said the toddler, emphatically but matter-of-factly. Ooops. Caught in the act! Alas. Grandroobly still felt the urge to spit. What to do? He backed up about 25 feet behind the tricycle and very discretely (or so he thought) spat again. Without missing a beat, the toddler said again, “DON’T SPIT!”

I do not get this spitting thing. I do not EVER feel the need to spit. Well, maybe that’s not totally true. If a bug or some other unsavory type of thing gets into my mouth I will spit to high heaven to get it out. If I take a drink of something and something happens that absolutely cracks me up, get out of the way. Yes, I do clean my laptop screen occasionally. But I can’t remember EVER merely thinking, “hmm, I need to spit.” Why did I not get this little scrap of DNA? Why was this little ritual not passed along to me?

Guys, whuddup with this? Gals (if you’ve gotten this far), do you spit? Do you “get” spitting? Whaddya think?

Mouse will not like this photo

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

spinnerIt certainly isn’t the best photo of Mouse that ever existed but I’m not great at photographing people even on a good day. But I wanted to post a shot of my Mousey spinning in the back yard here on the Planet Ann Arbor. As you can see, she is spinning fiber with an actual spinning wheel, not whatever that device is that people use at gyms for exercise.

Mouse posted photos on her blahg of The Commander weaving on the beach and herself (Mouse, that is) ironing on the moomindeck beach with her sewing machine at the ready. I definitely wasn’t around to take the picture of The Commander weaving on the beach. I wasn’t born for a few more years. I did take the photo of Mouse ironing on the deck. I was definitely born by then.

But then. One of the things I remember about my aunt Katie, who died in 2004, was that she sometimes used to set up an ironing board up on the bank above the beach and she would iron while she watched her children swim. And sometimes some of us other younger “cuzzints” too. Ironing on the beach? How the heck do you do that? Well, you do it if there is an electricical outlet in the big old pine tree right there at the top of the bank where you want to do your ironing.

I don’t think Katie was out there ironing fancy hand-made clothing or quilt blocks. She could run a sewing machine as well as anybody out there but I think her ultimate job title was something like Small-town Doctor’s Wife and Mom of Four. And that’s what Katie did. With expertise and aplomb! And what can I say? He was one of the most hardworking docs in town in those years. Does that old electrical outlet in the pine tree still work?

Yodel-eh-hee-hoo!

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

bigmacOne of these days I am going to have to learn to yodel. I think I could do it. I am not a trained singer but I can carry a tune and even slip between head and chest voice and whatever. Except when I’m drunk. And maybe even sometimes then. I am told that when I was three, I was standing in a church pew singing Christmas carols at the top of my lungs and some woman who regarded herself as a good singer turned around to see who was out-singing her and she had to look *down* because I wasn’t very tall when I was three don’tcha know.

I didn’t used to think that yodeling was cool. That was back in the days when we used to trudge up to Minneapolis Woods in the dark Sault Ste. Siberian winter evenings to ski! Schlepping our heavy old downhill skis, boots, and poles. It wasn’t a big hill, just a part of the escarpment (which we had to trudge up to get there) that runs through Sault Ste. Siberia and beyond. Minneapolis Woods had a big skating rink in those days and a fast rope tow that would probably be outlawed these days. And a ski jump! A rickety looking wooden ski jump. That was in the days before liability insurance outlawed anything that was any fun and I don’t think that ski jump is there any more (I may be wrong). And I bet the rope tow has been replaced with something safer too.

Anyway, Minneapolis Woods certainly wasn’t the fanciest ski area but there was a warming shack and a loudspeaker that played some of our favorite 60s music, Wipe Out being a favorite, because that’s what a lot of us often did, joyfully in most cases. Hahaha! I fell! No broken leg! Yodeling was also in the rotation. I want to say that we grumbled about that when it came on but we were having so much fun riding up the rope tow and skiing down that it didn’t really matter. It was just part of the experience. And I miss it now. I wish I could yodel well enough to do it outside the landfill kitchen. Maybe I’ll get there yet!

9-1-1

Friday, September 11th, 2009

firetruckI wasn’t intending to blahg about September 11th. I usually don’t because, since I wasn’t personally affected by it, I sort of feel as though it’s in bad taste for me to yammer away about tragedy and heroes and all that. I am not being disrespectful at all and we have all been affected. But I wasn’t affected in the same way that those who lost friends and family members or witnessed the plane crashes. My life has been inconvenienced by post-911 security procedures everywhere but, after some initial shock and terror, it resumed the usual boring trajectory of just trudging along. With my family intact.

But then this morning, I was out for my 0-dark-30 walk and I found myself dodging fire trucks and ambulances in my usually quiet neighborhood. The neighborhood where I am more often dodging skunks out on their morning rounds (and I did dodge one today). Make no mistake. There were no skyscrapers or 747s involved in this incident. I don’t know what it was or who dialed 9-1-1. Heart attack? Kitchen fire? Gas leak? It may or may not have been a tragedy for someone but it didn’t affect me, except that I had to dodge some vee-hickles. (Yes, I walk in the middle of the street. We’ll talk about that some other time. Actually, we probably already have.)

September 11, 2001 was a bizarre day for me. I had a prescient dream that morning, just before I woke up. I didn’t remember or connect the dream until later. In the dream I was at the moominbeach and I heard something going on in the bay and when I walked down to the beach, there was smoke everywhere and fire engines at the end of the beach and I don’t know how they got there because there was no road down there in those days but the beach does weird things in my dreams. Anyway. One of my aunts was standing up on the bank looking terrified and I ran like hell to grab her and then I forced myself to wake up. So yes! Now y’all *know* how crazy I am!

I got up and took a shower, walked, then came home and did all the stuff a moom with two high schoolers does in the morning (whatever that was) and settled in to do some theatre guild work on my strawberry iMac. In a major aberration from my usual habits, I didn’t turn the radio on that morning! I don’t know why. It was a *gorgeous* morning and I was just jazzing along without the news. At one point I made a quick dash to the Westgate Kroger. As I was getting a cart, I overheard some folks talking about a “small” plane hitting the World Trade Center. I didn’t pay much attention and I remained oblivious until I saw a dark green Honda Accord pull into the Landfill driveway later that morning. I did a double-take. Was that *our* dogha? What was the GG doing home so early? Was he sick? Did they fire him? Of course not. Of course, the EPA had been shut down. Who knew what would happen next? What would be the next target?

It was a scary day. It did change our lives. I hope that this frivolous entry about my own little life does not disrespect those who lost loved ones in that tragedy.