Archive for October, 2009

Lemme just light this ceegar before I hand out candy to the cute li’l trick-or-treaters

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

oldwitchFor whatever reason, Halloween is one of our favorite holidays around these parts. I could probably write enough blather to fill a book about Halloween. My experiences trick-or-treating alone (yes, alone) in the snow in the dark as a child in Sault Ste. Siberia. Our first Halloween in the Landfill, showing off our beautiful 8-day-old baby girl to all of the trick-or-treaters. All of the years our daughters went out trick-or-treating in costumes that I lovingly slaved over until I got too frazzled to make costumes any more and they made their own. The year Mouse had a tiger costume (that I made) and didn’t really like the tiger costume and didn’t quite understand the whole trick-or-treat thing but yelled “shoe on” at every house (it’s a long story). The year it snowed and I thought I heard one last late trick-or-treater at the door but it was my own child, tired and cold, coming home just ahead of her dad and little sister. Warm bath, anyone? Yes, this is Michigan, where we do have lots of water, if nothing else.

I could go on and on. Tonight, the GG trick-or-treated across the street with a glass in his hand. It’s a sorta slow year. But then, the “bus” kids haven’t been dropped off yet. Those who have come from even less fancy neighborhoods than my nice but not fancy one. I always buy a lot of candy. I give out multiple candy bars to our trick-or-treaters. But I still always have a lot left when the “bus” kids get dropped off. And I don’t mind handing it out. Here, take five or ten candy bars.

Okay, are you getting trick-or-treaters or not? And are you dressing up? What’s your costume?

Spooooooky

Friday, October 30th, 2009

spookyEh. Not really. This is the streetlight in front of the Landfill at 0-dark-30 yesterday morning. And a birdhouse on a tree. One that I once swatted a feral cat off of with my witch’s broom. All in a beautiful fog. I had just returned from my walk and it was still blacker than the ace of spades. And foggy. On that walk, I encountered the female runners in headlamps. Six or eight of them in two or three groups. You go girls! A skunk. Backed up pretty darn quick. Me, not the skunk. A couple of folks I always say “Good morning!” to who walk dogs wearing LED lights. My co-worker’s wife and her friend, who have been walking at 0-dark-30 at least as long as I have. A bicycler who was coming up behind me (I walk in the street (yes, I *know*)) and rang his bike bell a half a block back (*thank you*!). The older guy with the reflective orange vest, a little slower than he maybe once was but still vigorous. Like my dad… A bottle picker with his plastic bag, trying to fade into the shadows. The couple with the attack dog that they are now leashing tightly. I wonder who threatened to sue. They’re nice people. Just clueless like so many other dog owners I encounter around here. The kids waiting for the Pi-Hi Skyline schoolbus.

This morning? Whoa! Rain! Actually, it was mostly a light drizzle when I took my walk and I only put up my umbrella toward the end. Dark. For whatever reason, the GG did not go to work today. Even though his official schedule doesn’t require him to work Fridays, he usually does if he’s in town. Today, he didn’t even wake up until after I left for work. That meant that I had to scrounge up something resembling biz-caz in the dark. I have trouble with that these days even when I can turn on the light because I am in the process of dumping a whole bunch of my old clothing and my whole half of the room is one big shambling mound. New Kayak Woman clothes. Old Kayak Woman clothes. Several things that belonged to Radical Betty, who looked a lot more elegant in them than I do. Black skirt? Which black skirt? I think there are about eight in there. Today, I found the one I wanted by touch.

By the time I packed my work self into the Ninja, the rain had turned into a deluge. I decided not to tempt fate and try merging onto the freeway at my usual hairpin turn entrance. I was early and I don’t punch a time clock anyway and it’s an eight-mile drive and yada yada. The back roads would do just fine. And then the rain came down even harder and there were huge puddles everywhere and I got behind the BUS and it was still DARK and I couldn’t see jack-doodly.

This story does not have a bad ending. I made it to work just fine and this is just a little slice of life from late October 2009 on the Planet Ann Arbor.

Corrected to add that I was wrong. The GG did in fact go to work yesterday. And how many times do you think one blahgger can use the extraneous word “just” in one entry? Huh? Not to mention that it seems everything was “just fine” yesterday. Editor please? Geeesh!

Love,
KW

Since I am finished talking for now, I will let my fingers do the drivel

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

fireboatThese days, most of these days anyway, my Mouse and I spend an hour or two in the late afternoon or evening together. I work all day, she goes to an evening play rehearsal. We have settled into a little routine where I come home and process the few dishes that she purposefully leaves me and we talk a bit, nothing too serious. Usually Frooggy needs to be located (he loses himself a lot) and placed on his favorite Clorox wipes container. It always looks to me like he is on a toilet when he sits there but, since he is a puppet, there isn’t anything much inside him to have to process and put into a toilet. But then, when he gets into the laundry detergent and the Listerine and all that stuff, how the heck does he process that stuff and where *does* it come out.

Anyway, this afternoon, I made some off-hand comment that Mouse couldn’t quite process because of my bad grammar or unfinished thought or whatever. And I answered that I was just spewing drivel out of my mouth because, when you live with someone as ultra-literate as Mouse, sometimes you just have to give up. It all reminds me of when I was a tough (I hoped) little kid living on Superior Street and having a grammar freak for a moom. If I wanted to fit in with the children of the largely* unschooled population of my neighborhood, it was important to know how to say things like, “I ain’t got none.” Unfortunately, that did not fly at our house on Superior Street. If I wanted to say something like that, I made sure that I was over at the schoolyard, which was definitely out of earshot of The Commander.

Whooda thunk it that I would escape a grammar freak moom only to give BIRTH to a grammar freak!!! Yiiiy! I dunno (bows to grammar/spelling freaks everywhere). My absolutely totally utterly beloved younger daughter has been correcting my grammar since, well, I’m trying to think about when that started. Maybe about three? Around the same time that the first gulf war began and she figured out how to turn off the war by pressing “OFF” on the remote control that handled our little kitchen TV.

I was gonna (not correct pronunciation) ask what quick recipes folks were doing when they got home from work. Because I have made oven-fried chicken for about the tenth time in October. I used to be very creative. I dunno (not correct pronunciation) what I have turned into. Recipes, anyone? No kale chips please. I don’t think we’re ready for those yet…

* The south side of Sault Ste. Siberia was a wonderful place to grow up and a very wide mix of folks lived there. I love to walk around there now.

Stop strangling me! Or I will just start hanggggingggg around…

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

goldengate2goldengate5goldengatemarin

Yes, I did once pick up my small mousket daughter in the grocery store, which caused her to yell, “Stop strangling me!” (See yesterday’s comments.) As you can see from her comment, I wasn’t really strangling her, and other grocery store patrons were actually rather amused. She wasn’t even all that stressed out during that grocery store trip. I remember another trip to the store with her when she was about two and talking to me very articulately about whatever was on a magazine cover in the checkout line. Actually, I think it was basketball players, of all things. Another woman marveled about that. “She has a really big word list!” And yes she did. She was always extremely articulate and I can’t talk any further about that.

Those photoooos are some Golden Gate Bridge photooos that haven’t made it onto ababsurdo or Flickr (yet). How many photos of the Golden Gate Bridge are on Flickr anyway? I haven’t searched, but probably about a billion. But these are *my* photoooos. The first and third are is from our Sunday trip over to Marin County via Maggie, a beautiful little motorized vee-hickle. The middle one is from the ferry (or maybe the dock, I’m not sure) we took from Sausalito back to the “Warf” the day we biked across the Golden Gate. The *first* is also from the bike ride, before crossing the bridge. I wrote (a bit) about that bike ride here. It is a beautiful bridge and I miss it…

Terrible Horrible No-good Very Bad Parents

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

octopiRewind. Sometime in the 1990s, I was going in to the Westgate Kroger and a tall guy with a rather grim look on his face was carrying a small girl (three years, maybe?) out of the store. She was screaming her head off. One o’ them thar Planet Ann Arbor parentally correct busy-body type people was following him out, anxiously asking, “Sir, what is wrong with your little girl? Sir? Sir? What is wrong with your little girl?” Ohhh. Been there, done that…

Kee-reist. The mommy wars go on and on and I think I know why (partly anyway). When my parents and I were kids, parents were pretty much free to do whatever they needed to do to discipline their children. Was that a good thing? Probably not, in the case of folks who regularly slammed their kids’ heads into walls or beat them with belts out in the woodshed or whatever. My parents didn’t do that to me but I was spanked sometimes. By hand in the appropriately padded place. Nowadays we are all supposed to do discipline with words. Hushed words at that. No raised voices. Ever. It’s all negotiation. If you get yourself out of control because your toddler has been just totally uncooperative for *hours* and you are trying to do something like maybe get somewhere on time, people think you are crazy. Get that crazy-woman some drugs! Now! You are supposed to calmly sit down and *negotiate*. Always. With your *toddler*. Okay. I do not think so. Sometimes you just have to choose to be in charge, whether the results are pretty or not.

I think I can count on one hand the times I swatted one of my kids on their butts. I did do it, rarely in case you didn’t read the first sentence. Hit them with a belt or smash them into a wall or put them into a washing machine? No! Raise my voice? Oh yeah! Kayak Woman is only now, as an old bag, learning how to quiet her voice. And, man oh man, she can still raise it if she gets “out there”. I know people who never get “out there” and I wish I could be better at that but I’m not. I am me. And overall, I do not think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I think that children have to learn that they will not always be the center of the universe.

I wasn’t the best. I loved my babies beyond description. I read all the right books and glommed on to all of the parenting articles in the newspaper. I did the best I could between my own instincts and all of the conflicting information I got from other sourses sources. There were good days and bad days. We got through it all enough that a few weeks ago we were all together hiking around the beautiful city of San Francisco and having a wonderful time! I think that if we are really going to try to prevent child abuse, we need to target folks who don’t read the local newspaper (not that we have one any more) or buy tons of books. I also think we have to support young mothers in every darn way that we can and not give them long lists of rules about how to bring up their children.

We have to support fathers, too. That father that I saw at the Westgate Kroger so many years ago? I knew that kid was okay. I know what happened in there. He passed by the cosmetic counter and that kid wanted him to buy her lipstick and he said “NO!” Like I did once about a billion years ago. He was calmly carrying her out to the car so she could settle down from her public tantrum. For all I know about that situation, the child’s mother was in the checkout line (this was before the uscan) and told the dad, “Take her out!”

Oasis

Monday, October 26th, 2009

oasisWhen we arrived at Houghton Lake last Friday evening, we were a bit surprised to see that the old Oasis Party Store (Ice Cream Oasis in the last few years) had burned. But not all that surprised. I am sort of a johnny-come-lately to the Houghton Lake area. I didn’t start visiting the area until about 1980*. The Courtois family (my in-laws) have been traveling up there from the Day-Twa area since the 1950s and in 1964 they bought the original version of the cabin that a consortium of Grandpa Garth’s descendants own today.

Sadly, this isn’t the first burned building we have encountered upon arrival at Houghton Lake. There was the time we drove up expecting to eat dinner at the Spikehorn Bar/Restaurant before we continued on to the cabin. We pulled into the empty parking lot. Empty? This is a Friday night? Empty? The building looked a little odd to us and we realized that the interior had burned. I forget what we did for dinner that night, probably continued on over to the Northshore Bar. The Spikehorn rebuilt and has a booming business nowadays but I don’t think any of the old knotty pine survived. Can’t remember what the cause was. Sigh.

And then there was the New Year’s Day that we went skiing or somewhere. I don’t exactly remember. When we left, everything was fine, which means in this case that the old, rather shabby looking resort/hotel-turned apartment building down the road was still intact. Why wouldn’t it be? When we got back to Long Point at the end of the day, it was GONE! Smoking ruins were left. The cause? Overloaded electrical circuits. That freaked us out just a little wee bit. Here we were, staying in our beloved cabin, about the same vintage or maybe even older than that old resort-type place. Lucky-shuckial circuits, indeed. Were ours okay? One of the things that my beloved father-in-law/engineer did was carefully instruct his children and grandchildren and their significant others about what to plug in with what and what *not* to plug in with what. Another chapter in his “every housewife should know” series. He was right and we *were* very careful about not overloading outlets and thank god, nothing ever happened there.

I have NO IDEA what happened to the Oasis. Given the building’s approximate age, it could’ve been electrical. Or maybe not. I don’t know. I hope that the Oasis owners will be able to salvage the place but who knows. If it gets rebuilt, I bet it will be a more modern structure. It’ll be clean and safe and beautiful but all the character of the 1950s structure will be gone.

Like the modern structure we built on Long Point when it became too difficult to maintain our own beloved old disintegrating structure.

* My uncle and his kids (my cousins) lived at Houghton Lake when I was a very small child and I have vague memories of leaving their house and driving (like the wind) to catch the last ferry back to the UP. More on that some other day.

Ohhhh Canada Canada Canada

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

pumpkinheadsI got up early enough this morning (at Houghton Lake) that three quarters of my morning walk was in the dark. The (uh) Aspergers-like part of me was calculating how many twelfths of my walk was ahead and behind me. The rest of me was listening/watching for motor vee-hickle noises/lights. I had a weird and scary experience walking at HL when I was 30 and seven months pregnant (fer kee-reist!) where a *kid* stalked me on his dirt bike. I am over that. Sort of. Nowadays, I mostly encounter older folks outside their houses or going by in SUVs or Caddylacks or whatever. I’m pretty much non-scary to them, so they always talk to me. But. I was just a little spooked out this morning. It was dark. Anyway.

By the time I got back to the Houghton Lake group home, it was getting light. As I was on the last one-twelfth of my walk, I heard a White Throated Sparrow! I grew up listening to White-Throated Sparrows, hanging out in the clearing between the Old Cabin and ours on beautiful calm days. White-Throated Sparrows have two songs. One of them has an ascending melody, the other descends. I heard the descending one today. I didn’t see the bird. I am not a birder and the birder in the house was a bit skeptical but various searches confirmed that I did hear a White Throated Sparrow.

And so. It was very quiet at Houghton Lake this weekend. I hope that the deer-hunting season brings more folks up. And (sigh) we could use fewer deer along the freeways. As much as I hate for aminals to be killed, I would rather have someone actually eat them. I am taaarrrred of watching for them on the freeway…

And yes, the GG did haul all of his pumpkins up to Houghton Lake, carve them (with power tools), and haul them back. There they are in the trunk.

Rediscovering the old Underground Forest after a very muddy Ninja drive through the Jordan River Valley in the rain

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

undergroundforestI know I have probably posted about this place before. It is a favorite place from my childhood. When I was a kid, we drove down from Da Yoop to Day-Twa or the Planet Ann Arbor or Lansing a few times a year and the Underground Forest was one of the few tourist-trap-type places our parental units would willingly take us to. I can still remember excitedly walking up those steps. We would go inside and the friendly folks there would take our quarters or whatever it cost. And then. We would step through the doors to the museum. Not sure if the photo shows this very well but the place is built into a hillside and so the museum was underground. There were carefully crafted dioramas of the aminals of our northern woods and I can only guess, based on memory, that the aminals were taxidermied. I think I can also remember the dank underground smell of the museum. I never cared. The Engineer and I loved that place.

And then the freeway was built. I’m talking about the I75 SUV Speedway, the road that this road warrior has a love/hate relationship with. It gets me up to Da Yoop and back quickly. Or not. The Underground Forest was on the old road that we traveled before I75. Traffic on the old road dwindled. I am not sure if the Call of the Wild museum in Gaylord is a new incarnation of the Underground Forest or not. I have been such a road warrior for so many years that I have never been to Call of the Wild but their dioramas look so familiar. If there is a connection, I wish they would post it on their website because this is one person who fondly remembers the old place.

Today we drove from the Houghton Lake group home north and west on county roads until we hit the western entrance to the scenic Jordan River Valley and we traveled through there on this beautiful rainy day. The roads were pretty darn muddy for our beeyootyful Ninja vee-hickle’s performance tires but we made it through. I remember earlier journeys in the beautiful blue POC and The Indefatigable. It is actually one of the places the beach urchins liked to go even when they were teenagers and, by definition didn’t want to spend time with parents.

And so, back through Gaylord where we visited Saturn Booksellers and the GG bought a couple of books. And then. Down the old road, US27 and I knew we were on the route to the old Underground Forest but I can never remember exactly where it is. So the GG was driving today and I was watching like a HAWK! And we found it and I relived my childhood memories again (da-da-da-da-da) and then we got back on the freeway at Grayling and we got groceries at Best Choice and old Doc Frankenpumpkin got out his cloning power carving tools and maybe there’ll be photooos later or tomorrow.

And we’re watching a Lawrence Welk re-run. Of all things.

Signing off from the Houghton Lake bureau,
Kayak Woman

What I was doing a quarter century ago today but I’ll spare y’all the gory details

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

plutoniumgirlAs it happens, the GG is at this moment telling the birthday girl all the gory details. I know y’all don’t want to know. But at 7:40 AM EDT, exactly one quarter century ago, yer fav-o-rite blahgger, not known to the world as someone who was dying to be a baby production line, had her first born. Actually, I always did want to have my own kids. When I *was* a kid, I’m sure that my vision was that I’d let *my* kids do all of the stuff that moi mommy wouldn’t let *me* do. Bwa-ha-ha…

Fast forward. I was in my late twenties, married (at 28), and “I’m gonna have kids someday” suddenly loomed large. Oh. Maybe I should do that soon? I was lucky and our first serious attempt at actually producing a child resulted in The Girl with Plutonium Eyes shown in the photo. Well. But. Er. I was scared shitless! [‘scuse my language] I didn’t know jack-doodly about babies. I had never changed a diaper! When people would shove their precious little baby into my inexperienced arms, I would nervously make what I hoped were appropriate noises and hand the little darling back ASAP!!! So, I was pregnant and I had no experience with babies and I was *30* fer kee-reist!

Yes, that all changes when you have your own. I’ll admit that it took a little while until I was accustomed to all the typical baby noises (what is she doing? is she dying?) but changing a newborn’s diaper was really a no-brainer, although one I would often fob off on the GG if I could manage to think of a good excuse to do that. And he did have plenty of experience, being number 5 out of ten with plenty of nieces and nephews. As it turned out, *my* baby was the best baby on earth. She was ultra-healthy. She was calm and happy. Unless there was a good reason not to be. She grew up into an iron butterfly, beautiful and delicate looking on the outside but don’t kid yourself, she’s filled with kryptonite.

Best baby on earth? *Every* baby is the best baby on earth! My first baby was a beautiful, bright, adorable baby girl. One who taught me, a new and *very* inexperienced mooma, more than any teacher or job I had ever had. The best baby on earth. My own baby. Love you.

Gunslingers

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

gunfightersAll that stressed out self-validating blather from yesterday was for naught and being in the hot seat today was fine and so…

Betcha can’t guess what I was doing 25 years ago today. I can remember it. I’ll let you guess. It was a Monday, if that helps.

I’ll tell a little Customs story instead. Canadian Customs, that is, in a small, northern outpost. Grandroobly told this story a few times in his later years. Grandroobly is the guy on the right in the gunfighter photoooo (as always, click the photo to enlarge). He doesn’t look very much like a grandaddy there, does he? He might look like a dad to some but it was quite a few years before he actually was a dad. A dad to yer favo-rite blahgger, that is. The other guy? That’s his friend Jim, who is one of Henry Sherman’s boys. And he still *is*, although Grandroobly is not. I’ll just betcha the Engineer was named after Jim Sherman.

Anyway. One day Grandroobly took his dad’s car to Canada. I don’t know why and it doesn’t matter. Now, here’s where I’m unclear. I *think* this took place well before I was born and therefore before the International Bridge was built (it opened when I was 10) and, if so, he would’ve driven droven his dad’s vee-hickle onto the ferry. In *my* mind, I always think of him driving across the bridge on this little adventure but I bet he made this trip on the ferry.

Anyway. He got over to Canadian Customs and they asked the usual questions. How long are you gonna be in Canada? Why are you here? Are you bringing in any liquor? Dah-da-dah-da-dah. Are you bringing in any firearms… Grandroobly was not bringing any kind of verboten contraband into Canada and he answered a polite “no” to all of those questions, including the firearms question, like he always did. And so, the nice customs man welcomed him to Canada (for probably about the nine gazillionth time).

Grandroobly did whatever it was he needed to do in Canada and got back on the ferry and went through more or less the same process on the American side. It was only when he had been cleared to re-enter our beeyootiful country (for probably about the nine gazillionth time), that he looked in the rear-view mirror and… YIKES!!! His dad’s RIFLE was in the back window.

All I have to say is that those were slower times. Taking a ferry to Canada. Nowadays there’s no ferry and it can take an hour or more to get back across the International Bridge. I don’t have any words about that but I often think that Grandroobly didn’t really want to live any further into the 21st century than he did.

Signing off for the night,
KW

Just don’t try skating until the drugs wear off and don’t forget to wear your tricycles

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

yellowflowerI won’t say who that was directed to. Maybe it was directed to a couple of people. It is an especially bad thing to try skating under the influence of anesthesia if you haven’t skated since you were about five.

Yes. Today was a rather bizarre day. I have a quiet little job on most days. Except when it’s not. Quiet that is. It wasn’t very quiet today. Tomorrow I have to spend almost the whole day (or at least it seems that way, it’s really only three hours) sitting in the hot seat while people review my stuff. And “stuff” is all you are going to get here. It’s okay. It’ll be fun! Yes. It will be fun. I used to hate to do presentations and run meetings and stuff. It still isn’t the most fun thing I have to do in life but I *can* do it. I can even be funny if I need to be. I think. At least in the closed environment that I have to do these things. I’m sure it would be scarier if I were in a large venue with a whole bunch of people I’d never met. Tomorrow? It’ll be fun. Knock wood. Big time.

Someday I will get around to writing about some of the crazier or weirder days I had at my old job working for a government contractor over there at the EPA. I quit that (beloved) job in 1994, so I think I am pretty much past all of the statutes of limitations about blahgging about your job in that case. That doesn’t mean that I would ever think about slandering any person I used to work with. My focus at that job ended up being to try to make things better for all parties involved. To try to cut through whatever computer processing problems our customers encountered and fix them. I taught myself Fortran on that job in order to figure out some of the issues. I did a lot of stuff later on but my main function in that office was always to be a backup for fixing production-type problems. In that venue, I NEVER had to lead big meetings. I only dealt with folks through a window or over the phone as a go-to gal back in that day who could actually fix your problem. Fast! Things are different over there these days. I don’t have a code to get into Operations over there any more. And that’s okay.

Blathering. Miss that job sometimes. But love my current job…

Authority figgers (& mahmmy blahggers?)

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

bgy747This is probably going to end up being one of those random, blathering rants that y’all will be wondering something like “what was the point?” if you make it to the end. Apparently, a young mom with a baby was detained by those rollicking folks at the TSA because her baby’s metal pacifier clip or whatever set off the alarms. She freaked out and wrote a long scathing rant on her blog about being separated from her baby. Which turned out to be a lie (?) and the TSA posted videos showing the whole thing on their blog. Yes they have one. I admit that I haven’t watched all of those videos in total (I get bored with internet videos where nothing much happens for a long time) but apparently they show that the baby was not taken away from the mom. I have to admit I was uncomfortable by the length of time she and the baby were left in that cube, Hmmm.

Sigh. As long as there are borders and airplanes and things, there will be people (and machines too, nowadays) who have to “screen” other people. I grew up in a border town. I don’t remember ever having a whole lot of trouble with customs officials myself when I was a kid. Actually, until I was 10, we could *walk* to Canada by parking a motorized vee-hickle in a parking lot and walking onto a ferry. The only means by which you could get to Canada in those days. Yes, it took cars too. We didn’t ever have any trouble going with our parents. My dad was a very well respected business man on the Michigan side and my grandfather began his life as a Canadian citizen, not that it made any difference. But the important thing was that we were always taught to wait until the customs agent motioned us forward and then answer the questions directly, politely, and humbly. Right or wrong, whether we were innocent tourists or not, these folks were empowered to either allow us into their country (or back into ours) or not. Simple, right?

Not. Of course you get whatever customs agent you get. Eventually they built a big bridge there and we grew up and started crossing it and dealing with customs agents ourselves. Sometimes they are rational and sometimes not. The Engineer used to ride over to Canada and play gigs with a fellow brass player who drove a Pontiac Firebird (fancy chick-type magnet of the 60s/70s). According to The Engineer, Canadian customs folks would detain them and tear Pete’s car apart, throwing all of their expensive trumpets and trombones on the ground. I don’t know if The Engineer was exaggerating or not. Me, I once encountered Santa Claus at Canadian customs. I was on a date to see a play production with a very nice guy and the customs guy ho-ho-ho’d us along to the play. Grandroobly later helped me get un-entangled from that guy by lying to him on the phone. “She’s not here.” Click. Hee. Thanks, dad…

Fast forward. I don’t know. The TSA folks are doing their jobs. They can be random and some of them are more friendly and/or compassionate than others. It is a tough job and I wouldn’t want to do it. Yikes! Those folks have to be hard-nosed enough to deal with the infinitesimally small number of people who are actual threats to flights and still be nice to all of the regular folks, moms with babies, baggy old mooms like me and the 84-year-old I sat with from SFO to Minneapolis. Whatever. It’s hard.

When I do fly, I try to make sure everything is in order by the time I get to the TSA. This last time, it almost wasn’t. The boarding pass that we printed out at Day-twa Metro had a name on it that didn’t match my driver’s license (don’t ask, you don’t want to know). Freak out? Yes. We schlumped over to a ticket counter where the grumpy old bag clerk was *not* amused and complained that it would be *hard* to fix and then *fixed* it in something like two minutes. Yeah, right. THE NAME ON MY DRIVERS LICENSE IS MY OFFICIAL NAME AND I DO NOT HAVE BOMB MAKING MATERIALS!!!!!

The TSA? Well, for me, it was okay going out from Day-twa Metro (DTW) except that I was flustered about the boarding pass name issue and was therefore scrambling to get things into the bins, et al. I got through okay. Mouse had her hands swabbed for something. The TSA person wouldn’t tell her what for. I was thinking Swine Flu, even though she was 100% healthy, no fever or anything. SFO? It always seems friendlier there than at DTW. I was more calm when we checked in to fly home. In a strange way I was comforted when a guy wearing a TSA badge cut in front of me on the conveyor belt. Don’t get me wrong. He wasn’t rude. I was flumping around getting my stuff in order and he took advantage of the empty space in front of me to shove his stuff (shoes and all) through. Everybody has to go through it and he certainly knew what to do. They double-checked the GG’s shoes. He had purposefully stepped in horse-shit the day before. What can I say? At least he didn’t try to fly with his broker-knife this time. Or shaving cream. Sigh.

I was prepared to be grumpy at the mommy-blahgger but the more I think about how long she was left in that stupid cubicle, I think the TSA screwed up in that situation. I’d’ve probably been freaking out too, baby or no baby in tow!

Death by insecticide and other politically correct incorrect toys and games

Monday, October 19th, 2009

crocusPolitically incorrect toys has been a topic coming at me from all directions in the last week, internet and home. Not that I am buying toys for anyone these days. I have probably bought ten times my share of toys. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t buy so much crap. I don’t know what I was thinking. I certainly wasn’t a deprived child. What the heck did I think I was making up for?

There’s the whole doll thing. I credit Nancy Nall for writing a better blog entry about this than I can manage. But. Barbies? Bratz? We didn’t have Bratz around here. I didn’t outlaw them, they just didn’t exist when my daughters were babies. I wonder if I’d’ve tried to ban Bratz if they had been around then. I don’t know. By the time Bratz came out, the beach urchins were more interested in things like driving. They were most interested in Barbie when they were babies. She was the hot thing among the nursery school set. It was an ownership thing! Everybody’s getting Barbie dolls and they’re pretty and I want one too. They are fun for a while. But it is REALLY REALLY hard to get their clothing on and off. And their heads pop off. And we won’t even talk about those stupid shoes. But then. When Lizard was seven or so, she and a friend used her Barbie “case” as a spy accessory. I found it in the Landfill Dungeon with every remote control device in the house. A couple years after that, all of the Barbie stuff was sold at a garage sale.

So… I *had* girls but I am *married* to a boy and he kind of likes guns just a teensy tinesy little bit and whaddya do if you are a politically correct Planet Ann Arbor moom and you have a *boy* child (I don’t though) and you forbid any kind of guns in your house, real guns or toy guns or toast cut-out guns or whatever. “We don’t shoot people”, says the moom who so carefully selects every school her child attends [and college because most planet A2 children get to college, except those who don’t]. But kids do play those games, even girls, let me tell you about growing up on the south side of Sault Ste. Siberia.

I could go on and on about this but I have to tell one of my favorite stories about shooting-type games from Fin Family Moominbeach back in about 1966, which would’ve been when I was 12. The Engineer (my younger brother) and his friend walked up to my older boy cousin (Grinch). They asked the Grinch, “How ’bout you be Raid and we’ll be insects?” And so, the Grunchy old Grinch sat on whatever pulp-log structure we had on the beach that summer (it varied) and pushed on his head with one of his hands and made a sound like an aerosol can being sprayed. The Engineer and Kev fell back on the sand, writhing in the agony of a dramatic death.

Crocuses? Those crocuses are from yesterday, not last spring. Admittedly, that particular yard has a micro-climate going on.

Woodchuck faarrwood delivery on an otherwise drab weekend

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

courtoiscarWhen I landed (whomp) back in my work cube last Tuesday, after a magical* long weekend in San Francisco, a co-worker asked me how my weekend was. Well. It is hard for me to answer questions like that in general and especially after a weekend like that (sometimes I think I am an extremely high-functioning autistic person (Asperger’s anyone?) but that’d be a whole ‘nother blahg post or two or a hundred)! So I said that it was wonderful and fantastic and all that stuff. And then I asked him how his weekend was, a weekend that I *knew* had been spent on the Planet Ann Arbor going to Home Depot to look at toilet seats or whatever. No, he didn’t really go out to look for toilet seats but he said he’d had a “drab” weekend. I totally, utterly, absolutely cracked up!!! Man oh man, I was looking forward to a drab weekend. One that didn’t involve hiking up and down vertigo-inducing hills or riding a bicycle (!) across a large suspension bridge or riding in the back seat of Maggie on highway 1 between about Point Reyes and the Golden Gate. Cliffs? Yes! Yikes!

At that point (Tuesday morning), I was jet-lagging and I was looking forward to a nice, drab weekend. I love that term. Drab weekend. I don’t always get enough of those. Even though I go absolutely nuts when I am home and everyone is just haaannnngggging around.

So. This weekend? Yes it was drab. If you can ever call a weekend around here drab. The weather was actually gorgeous. Lots of walking, a bit more shopping than I would usually prefer. No toilet seat shopping, thank god. We’d’ve certainly been fighting about that. We replaced the Blue and Only Toilet Seat a few months ago.

Today? Hee hee hee! I dragged the jet-lagged (still) GG outta bed well before the sun came up to walk down to the river and over to the Northside Grill(e?) for breakfast. He crashed out after we came home and he was asleep when the faaarrrrwood that we ordered yesterday arrived. Mouse woke him up with, “the wood truck is here.” He grumbled something like “okay” and went back to sleep. It turned out that he thought we had said that a woodchuck was outside. But it wasn’t a woodchuck, it was the wood *truck*. And they delivered the wood and the GG and I stacked it. And that is about all. Like I said, it was drab.

* Magical just means how the heck did I get out to California and back in five days and, well, y’all have mostly traveled more often by jet-plane than I have so you know…

Bottle Train

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

bottlebrigadeYes, the GG (in the foreground of yesterday’s pic) does look as though he’s angry that somebody else got to the trash first. We all know people throw valuable stuff into the trash all the time, roight? Actually, the guy going thru the trash was humming an Asian-sounding melody as he picked bottles out of that trash can, which was located on the sidewalk that runs along the east (?) side of Dolores Park in the mission district. When we came along with our empties from lunch, he interrupted his activities to very politely accept our contributions to his stash and then he went back to humming. Our trip to the left coast was a whirlwind that ended too soon. I have been (butt in seat whomp!) firmly ensconced in my beloved cube all week, and I am not going to even begin to try to make some kind of political statement about this but I have to say that I greatly enjoyed the bottle-pickers that seemed to be absolutely everywhere. They roamed both of the parks we ate take-out lunch in, waiting until all of us tourists looked like we were finished with our cans or bottles and then politely asking for them. And heck, I didn’t wanna schlep that empty bottle all over San Francisco.

I loved the bottle train in the photo. I think my kids were not happy that I took this picture but I did not get their faces in it or anything. These characters walked this train of shopping carts several long city blocks (that I saw, maybe their journey was longer). At first I was just thinking they were derelicts or whatever. But the more I watched, this seemed like a pretty darn well-oiled operation with several people shepherding a train of shopping carts to a grocery store with a decent bottle return facility.

We have bottle pickers here on the Planet Ann Arbor too, except maybe not in the parks. I sometimes see the bottle pickers when I’m walking on Friday morning, which is when we put the trash/recycling out. I think some people are so busy and/or disorganized that they put returnable bottles in their recycle bin. I don’t. Usually. When I have enough bottles to take them to the Meijer bottle return and it rejects one of the fancy labels that my 20-somethings have purchased, I usually give up and put the blasted bottle in my recycle bin. I love you guys *anyway*, even when I have to dredge orange slices outta that Oberon wheat beer or whatever it is. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Happy Boss’s Day!!!

Friday, October 16th, 2009

dumpsterYes, that’s today. Unfortunately, my long-suffering, cat-herding boss did not get a whole heckuva lot of recognition although I think he did get a bit of the usual harassment. Not from me. I don’t think. I was pretty much head down boogity boogity today. I didn’t find out about Boss’s Day until I went to get coffee this morning and a friend on another team was cutting a pan of brownies into pieces and putting them on a plate. She was doing that because her kids had eaten a couple of the brownies already and she didn’t really want her boss to know that. I’m sure her boss (who has children too) would’ve laughed. And, anyway, that boss got more than my boss got. And, no, the brownies did not have any blasted pot in them.

Rewind… I always seem to work for interesting bosses and about a billion years ago I worked for Byron. He was a wonderful boss but, for whatever reason, Lizard Breath was terrified of him when she was a little girl. Once, we were driving down Miller and I heard Liz say to a friend, “My mom’s boss is *Byron*!” And they both screamed. And once, when we were in the parking lot at my work waiting for the GG to come out and drive the girls home while I went in to work. Suddenly, Lizard Breath dived down on to the floor of the old rickety red minivan yelling, “Mom, Byron’s coming!!!” Yes. Byron was walking out to his vee-hickle. Man oh man, such a tyrant!! Not! I loved working for Byron and that was a long, long time ago and he put up with a HUGE amount of harassment from his employees and I miss him now.

So, back in the day when I worked for Byron, one day Lizard Breath piped up with, “Mom, why is Grandma the boss of Granddaddy?” Yes. Good question. She had been thinking a bit.

These days, I have another boss. He isn’t like Byron at all but he is eccentric in his own right and is also a good boss. He has to be to put up with the likes of me!!! And I am sorry I didn’t think of something to do for Boss’s Day. Except I didn’t know it *was* Boss’s Day until I got there. Oh well.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

cali27The good? The good? Yes, the good. Actually, it started out with a bit of bad when I got up this morning and discovered that my loverly old MacBook was sitting there at 9% battery life. You know the one. The MacBook with 9 gig left on it and mailing tape holding it together. (Hmm, 9% and 9 gig… unlucky number?) Anyway. This was a little surprising because it was PLUGGED IN to a powerstrip!!! Alas, the teensy little green light on the connector was not glowing.

This called for a trip to the dreaded Apple store. I was not excited. In the first place, the Apple store is deep within Briarwood Mall and I HATE to go to Briarwood Mall even on a good day. I figured the best place to park would be near Macy’s and that would mean that I’d have to walk through Macy’s, past all of those velociraptors that like to spray perfume at me. Yuck. And then there’s our Apple store itself. The one that doesn’t have a checkout counter. I have had some weird experiences there. I won’t write about them again today, y’all canclick here if you want.

I needed my MacBook so I steeled myself for a mad dash through the mall (during the half hour I allow myself for lunch) and the usual chaotic experience at the Apple store. Guess what? I did park at Macy’s and I cruised through there without a perfume encounter and I even saw some cashmere scarves that I’ll have to go back and take another look at. I entered the Apple store at top speed. Woman on a mission!! That’s me. Er, today anyway. A young saleswoman asked if she could help me. “Macbook power cord!” I said. She pointed me to where the accessories are (which I already knew) and I headed back there. Immediately, a young gentleman followed me back there, asked me which MacBook I owned and what color it was, grabbed the correct power cord, and CHECKED ME OUT! Right there. All in under about 60 seconds. He told me I looked like I was in a hurry (yes!) and when I got back to my cube, my emailed receipt had already arrived. Service? Yes, sir!!! I was impressed!

The bad. To the nitwit who tailgated me almost all the way to work. You know, I do not get in the left lane and go 65 mph because I am trying to block traffic. There was a truck over there AHEAD OF ME, who was trying to pass a couple other trucks and I couldn’t go any faster without hitting the truck! Duh! On that particular stretch of freeway, it’s probably a GOOD thing when folks are not going like bats outta hell because there are TWO (count ’em) entrances to the freeway there and one of them is an old cloverleaf things that is just about as bumpy as a two-track out in the tootlies somewhere up in the Yoop. Folks on that ramp are going about 25. And you were getting off at the same exit as I was anyway, which meant you should’ve prob’ly been slowing down and planning to move over. How under the sun do some of these nitwits pass the blasted driving test anyway? This one wasn’t even yapping into a cell phone.

The ugly? My long-suffering, cat-herding boss and I detonated my latest spec this morning and turned it into no less than SIX specs. You do not wanna know. It’s all proprietary stuff and even if it wasn’t y’all wouldn’t understand it. That’s what I get for gallivanting off to San Francisco for a long weekend.

Food week

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

pinkflowerThursday morning (a week ago). Raspberry danish from some coffee kiosk in Day-Twa Metro. I had ordered a scone and probably ate several bites before I realized I had a danish. I didn’t care. I don’t like to eat a lot when I fly. This was good and about the right size.

Thursday afternoon or whatever. White wine. What the hell, I’ve been up since 0-dark-30. Somewhere over oh, probably about Nebraska.

Thursday afternoon. Late lunch. tacos & beer in the mission (forget the name of the restaurant)

Thursday night. Late dinner. Star’s Pizza (name?). Pizza. Very good. And the GG was a minor celebrity due to his Trogdor the Burninator t-shirt. Who’da thunk.

Friday morning. Early. As in I FORCED myself to stay in bed until 6 AM PDT. Breakfast at our gorgeous hotel, The Inn San Francisco. Yes, I’d stay there again. They even liked (or pretended to like) Froggy! Lots of fruit, sweet breads, quiche, hard-boiled eggs, cereal, coffee, juice, I fergit what else. Wonderful spread. Every day, I would get up, shower and hit the parlors (which is where they put out breakfast). I would check email/twitter/fb while the GG got himself up. We would head to the roof to drink our coffee, then come back down and eat.

Friday morning. Mid-morning, after hiking the hill between the yarn stores. Chocolate croissant at the Dolores Park Cafe (name?). Decadent? What the heck. We walked moiles that day!

Friday afternoon. Sandwiches from a cute little shop near Washington Square Park. We ate on the grass in the park where I refrained from photographing the young woman in the black bra and orange lace thong underwear who was getting drunk with her boyfriend a few yards away from us. Honestly, you do NOT wanna know. I was blanking on the sandwiches at first but mine was a fancy BLT with avocado maybe?

Friday night. Dinner at an Indian restaurant (name?) on steroids. That would be “east” Indian, not “wild” Indian. I’ll save that story for another day.

Saturday morning. Hotel breakfast again.

Saturday around noon. Swigs from some bee pollen drink the GG bought in Sausalito. Thought about eating there but it was really crowded and one of our party needed to get back and work that afternoon. So we got on the ferry and headed back across the bay and returned our bikes and did some complicated navigation back to catch the BART back to the mission and…

LATE lunch at Mr. Pickle!! Just down the street from our hotel. Mama fixed us wonderfully messy sandwiches that we ate on the grass in Dolores Park. Mine was turkey with cranberry sauce and afterwards, when we got to the yarn store (at the bottom of the hill), an employee overheard me talking about my greasy hands and directed me rather directly to the bathroom.

Saturday night. LATE dinner at a Senegalese restaurant on steroids. At least I think it was on steroids. I haven’t ever been to a Senegalese restaurant before. I’ve had a Senegalese *dish* before — Yassa Poulet. But it was made in my very own, very shabby American chitchen by my very own mouse child, who lived in Senegal for six months for study abroad.

Sunday morning. Early. Hotel breakfast.

Sunday morning, after climbing up the blasted hill between the yarn stores. AGAIN! Quiche at a pie restaurant in the mission district (restaurant name?)

Sunday early afternoon. HAMBURGERS!!! At the In-and-Out somewhere near Santa Rosa. I think that’s where we were. Well, I had a hamburger, at least. Some folks had double-doubles and others had grilled cheese from the “secret” menu. Whatever. Good fast food that we ate in the car and it hit the spot.

Sunday afternoon, a little later. A wonderfully extroverted moom-type woman at Walker’s Orchard fed us slices upon slices of apples. I think we each got ten and if you missed one, she caught up with you. Did that cancel out the hamburgers? I don’t care if it did or not.

Sunday night. Actually cooked in Lizard Breath’s chitchen. Actually Mouse did a lot of that cooking. We made pasta and moom-style sauce and fed us and a good contingent of Liz’s housemates. Bet they’re glad we’re gone!!

Monday morning. Hotel breakfast. Light on content. Have to fly.

Monday noon or whatever. White wine somewhere over, oh, I dunno, let’s say the Rockies this time.

Monday evening. White wine probably somewhere over Wisconsin.

Monday night, rather late. Scrambled eggs, bacon, fried potatoes. Back in the Landfill Chitchen again. Yes, you are right, I did not eat much all day. Flying again. Whine does help…

Tuesday morning (we’re not done yet): dry cereal and OJ. No milk. What was left was bad.

Tuesday, late morning. Cookie at work during corporate webcast. OMG, how many cookies can I stuff down my STARVING gullet.

Tuesday noon. I can’t *really* eat more than one cookie. Tuna sandwich from Whole Foods.

Tuesday night. Baked chicken, rice, and frozen veggies because, with a totally fried, jet-lagged brain, that is all.

Wednesday morning. Cereal WITH milk that Mouse bought yesterday.

Wednesday noon. Leftover chicken, et al!!!

Wednesday night. Enchiladas!! I made a quick trip to Plum Market and defrosted the sauce I had in the freezer and voila.

I am done. Folks offered wonderful restaurant recommendations for San Fran. We didn’t get around to any of them but what we did was just as wonderful. We’ll save those other spots for another trip. Honestly, I think I would have to go out there for a month or so just to hit all of the don’t-miss-type tourist things. And all of the restaurants.

Back in the U.S.S.R. You don’t know how lucky you are, boy.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

cigarstoreI’ll spare y’all the details of flying the friendly skies. I don’t do it very often. I am a nervous flyer. I loved flying with Grandroobly (my dad). That old WWII pirate pilot would always tell me what was going on in the Cessnas we used to rent for our little evening drives. I would be happier if all of today’s airline pirates pilots were more chatty. I can tell when we are beginning our descent. I loved back in the day when it was routine to tell everyone that. It’s okay. We had wonderful flights this trip. The last one was the best I’ve ever had, into Day-twa, of all places. Totally smooth all the way and, coming down out of the clouds, I could see the lights below. Our pirate pilot was hanging out repacking or whatever in the mid-section of the airplane (757 for you Boeing folks) as I disembarked and I made sure to thank him for that wonderful, last flight of our journey.

One of the things that we did *not* do in San Fran was shop. We ate out a *lot* and we bought some yarn at one of the yarn stores at the bottom of the hill and we bought a load of grokkeries at the rainbow store to make a dinner at Lizard’s house the last night. Other than that, my focus in San Fran was to walk all over hell and gone and I sure did that.

There were people who wanted to buy cigars. Go figure. We found a “smoke shop” the first morning we were there. Okay. Bongs and porno magazines. I am not a prude but I just wanted to get outta there. I am not sure if the GG ever found a good cigar shop. The one in the photo was down around the wharf/waterfront somewhere. We were on a streetcar heading to a bike rental place.

Shopping? Naw, What the heck, malls are everywhere. Sigh. G’night.
Kayak Woman.

Drinkin’ ‘hattans & makin’ bacon (and eggs) in the Landfill Chitchen.. and, uh, blahgging

Monday, October 12th, 2009

daytwaIf you live on the west side of the Planet Ann Arbor, when you return from a journey, you will exit at Jackson Road and when you approach the dreaded Jackson/N. Maple intersection, you might look up and see the Ann Arbor Muffler sign. That means you are home again, home again, jiggity jig and if you have a problem with one of your old beater vee-hickles, my friend Ivory will take very good care of you at Ann Arbor Muffler. I mean that!

And so. We are home from our whirlwind trip to the most beautiful city of San Francisco. I took that photo of Metro after we landed tonight and miraculously found our beloved Dogha waiting for us in the long-term parking. Was it the 9th floor? [Say it in the annoying voice of a professional nag. You know the kind.] This photo doesn’t show the Metro that I know and love. When I picked up two passengers from the left coast last summer, the vee-hickles were stacked up about five rows deep from the curb (hope that makes sense) and there were Dee-troit cops all over hell and gone, standing outside their flashing vee-hickles blowing whistles. I do not know what was going on. I think we’ve been on “orange” alert for at least five years now, so it can’t have much to do with security, and they were completely ineffectual at directing traffic. So whaddya say to someone who has never flown in to the beautiful Great Lake State before? Uh, welcome to Michigan!!!

Anyway. It was quiet *outside* Metro tonight and busy but not totally nuts inside. Our first flight was delayed this morning but things improved throughout the day, helped by a big tailwind and we actually landed in Day-Twa on time. Home now. Breakfast for dinner and I am amazed that we actually have ‘hattan-making materials here in the house. What milk was left was bad (no surprise) and the garbage disposal was odiferous when I first ran water down it.

San Fran? Stayed in an absolutely gorgeous Victorian hotel/bed & breakfast in the mission district. I could see Lizard Breath’s house from the roof. Lots (and lots and lots and lots) of walking and some touristy type stuff with a twist. More later when I’m done processing…

Love, Kayak Woman. Moom, I’ll call you in the morning!