Archive for November, 2009

Grump grump grump rant yuck

Monday, November 30th, 2009

fishpipeA lot of y’all know that I am not a sports fan. I mean, I do watch things like downhill ski racing sometimes. I wasn’t ever a very good downhill skier but I could get down most hills and a few mountains intact if not gracefully and I have an idea what those skiers are doing. Football? Baseball? Basketball? Ho-hum. Golf? Ho-hummmm. Part of the problem is that, given the choice between sitting in the stands spectating and trekking around somewhere in the great outdoors, I would pick the second. All that said, I do know who Tiger Woods is. Unless you are living somewhere that is totally off the grid, you can’t help but hear his name on the radio occasionally.

For most of my drive to work this morning, some talking heads on the radio were debating the Tiger Woods accident and the possibility of domestic discord and whether or not he was a role model and, if so, what responsibility he had to his fans, yada yada yada. This went on and on and on and on and on and… Finally I looked at the dial and realized that this wasn’t my normal NPR station (and probably not even NPR) and switched the station. Yeah, I listen to NPR. Anybody wanna fight?

Okay. Here we go again. Sports idols (or movie stars or politicians or whatever) for role models? Sports idols (and movie stars and politicians and whatever) are PEOPLE!!!! Being a human being is messy. You can be a wonderful, thoughtful, caring, empathetic person. A good role model, in other words. But none of us are perfect. Not any one of us. I have yelled at my kids. Don’t even ask me how many times I have yelled at the GG. I have thrown wet washcloths at him. Nothing more. No golf clubs here. But he has never done anything to me like hang out with another woman. I do not know why because I am just an old bag who throws the occasional washcloth. If he did find someone else, well, I don’t know what I would do but I would probably feel like killing him.

But then a bunch of money gets dumped on some young sports star. What happens? I don’t know what’s going on in Tiger Woods’s life or household (and it isn’t any of my business) but I think we as parents need to help our children to choose their role models carefully. I think our kids need to know that even the sports idols (and movie stars and politicians and whatever) that have been held up as role models are human. They make mistakes no matter what their agents and publicity folks might say. It may be that the fame and the cash that comes with fame has contributed to the frequent family dysfunctionality that goes along with being a star.

Role models? My grandparents, who scraped themselves up from mostly nothing to be respected citizens of a small city and manage to buy the beach property that we still know and love on Fin Family Moominbeach. And have fun doing it all, loving and caring for their grandchildren. Were they perfect? I bet not. I bet I won’t leave as good a legacy as my grandparents did but I am doing my best to live my life in a positive way and bring up my children to have a positive influence on the world. It isn’t always easy and tonight I am not doing the best job. Peace.

And now, I veeeel perform zeeee cloning

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

cloningRoight. He used to say that he would be performing the cloning whenever he gave our first little Lizard Breath daughter a bath when she was newborn. Y’all know what the heck cloning is, roight, and that it has very little to do with giving a baby a bath. Somehow, our lizard lived through all of the GG’s experiments and the GG has lived to have his adult daughters beat on him a few times.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. We had some beloved Planet Ann Arbor/Fin Fam Moominbeach relatives over for turkey et al on Thursday. I think I heard my dear uncle Harry say that he would cook a turkey in his own house. I don’t blame him. I always do that when I feel obligated to spend turkey day somewhere beside my own Landfill. Leftovers, anyone?

And so. The rest of the weekend… I had vague ideas about shopping for xmas. The GG had other ideas, which were that finally, after 25 years of living in this Landfill, we are gonna GUT this ugly kitchen and re-do it. So, we’ve dragged all over the big box home stores, Lowe’s and Home Despot Depot.

Friday night? Matt Watroba at the Ark. Oh. The GG walked down early to try to get a good seat. I love Matt but I wasn’t sure I could stay awake in an audience. Because I am me. Sigh. Mouse was tired too. We rose to the occasion though. We had a table. I had just enough whine to simmer myself down and then a wonderfully unending supply of ice water. Good show? Man oh man, wonderful. Matt and our own town’s harmonica virtuoso, Madcat Ruth, and many other wonderful musicians. And a surprise appearance by Jeff Daniels. I haven’t swooned over a film star since Mighty Mouse. Jeff Daniels? I am not swooning but this guy brings his good fortune back to support the arts in his home state. Our very beautiful but perennially suffering state of Michigan. Thanks Jeff, and Matt, and Madcat. And all.

And then there was Saturday… Discovering a new hiking trail with our Hotlantian friends Sam (archaeologist, not dog) and jcb And then there was lunch at the Red Hawk. With whine. Because that’s how my Sam and I do things. And then a quick stop at the Briarwood Mall Apple store, where the GG and I came close to upgrading our iPhones but didn’t quite do it. Too many people yada yada yada.

Christmas shopping? Not. When and what? I dunno. I just want a dumpster in my driveway.

Butt back in seat tomorrow in my cube. Hope y’all had a great weekend. Love you all.

Kayak Woman

Three

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

seedcloudsIn the Jurassic Age my cousins and I roamed Fin Family Moominbeach like a bunch of wild orangutans. We had a minimal set of rules. Don’t go swimming without getting an adult to watch you and DON’T THROW SAND! These rules were set by the eight benevolent despots also known as our parents, with our grandparents smiling on the sidelines. An idyllic childhood? Yes. But. Of course not. There was all the usual wrangling that goes with the territory of being siblings and cousins of different ages. I bet there was some tension amongst the benevolent despots too. In-laws adapting to the over-riding family culture that permeated Fin Family Moominbeach. Parenting style differences anyone? There must have been some of that stuff but looking back through my rose-colored glasses, I don’t remember it. I remember that we could *always* get somebody’s mom to watch us swim, no matter how cold and windy it was. We could walk into our cousins’ cabins without knocking and we were taught to call our benevolent despots by their first names. No need to bother with Aunt or Uncle. We respected those folks and they knew it. Who needed titles? Our parents may have been serious about trying to raise good citizens but they also had a heck of a lot of fun along the way.

Our grandparents grew old and frail and died and that was sad but I was young and my own demise seemed like it was about a billion years away. After not too many years, we lost our first uncle. He was far too young and it was pretty disconcerting because he was one of the main rabble-rousing adventurers among the benevolent despots. But still. It was sad but I was at the beginning stages of life, so to speak, meaning that just over a year later, I invented babies by having Lizard Breath. Cousins were also having children then and we didn’t forget about Duke ever but we just kept on going on.

It was many years before we lost another of the benevolent despots. Our aunt Katie and then our uncle Don (her husband) just a few months later. And then, just to keep us on our toes, The Engineer decided to check out way early. Oops, wrong generation. And then, Grandroobly (my dad). Things were kind of quiet for a while there. And then there was Radical Betty, who I think we all thought might live forever. Even in the last summer. Oxygen? Yeah, you might get her hooked up to that tank but you’d have to catch up with her first.

Of course, no one lives forever and Radical Betty didn’t either. When she died, I realized that only three of the Benevolent Despots were left. The Commander, Bubs, and Harry. I pushed that out of my mind until I learned that Cam died early Thanksgiving morning. Cam was not one of our despots but she was Radical Betty’s best friend in life. Well, maybe except for The Commander and a few others but one can have more than one best friend. I know that. Anyway, Cam and Radical Betty met each other when they were three and they were friends forever and, in the last 25-30 years of their lives, they both lived in the vicinity of Fin Family Moominbeach. Cam was de facto social director for 1990-2000s social stuff. Fish at the Cozy Inn? Lunch at Penny’s Kitchen? Who’s coming? I don’t know who will do that now, although I think Fish will live on at least.

I am going to miss Cam. I have no words about all of this though. The Commander was pretty calm about it. Cam has had lots of medical problems for years now. Having seen a few people that I love die and watching what led up to their death, I am not sure that dying is the worst thing. That said, I am not doing it for a while!!!

Disclaimer: This is my view on things. My cousins may or may not have different views. And that’s okay.

The Sirens of Black Friday

Friday, November 27th, 2009

seasickThe sound of sirens swirled about the Planet Ann Arbor as I walked this morning. Accidents. Multiple ones. Snow? Hmmm. There was a bit of that stuff on our vee-hickle roofs and windows when I went out this morning but the neighborhood streets and sidewalks didn’t seem to be the slightest bit slippery under my feet. Not so on the freeways, it turned out. Accidents on I94, US23, and two I94 overpasses, one death and a 10-car pileup. A little black ice just for Black Friday? Do y’all remember what the roads are like in the winter around here? What month is it? Time to back off on the gas pedal. Oh, and put that stupid phone away, while you’re at it. Yada yada yada. Who is everybody talking to all the time?

I went shopping today but I did not join the throngs lined up outside Walmart or Meijer or the mall. Nope. We drove all the way across town to Home Depot, where I agonized over cabinets and counters and floors and colors and materials and and and… It is time. The dilapidated Landfill chitchen is on the verge of disintegrating. Something has to be done. It needs a new, well, it needs a new everything. Maybe it doesn’t need a new refrigerator. I think we replaced that a year or so ago.

You guys, this is HARD!!! I know think that I want light colors. It’s a small kitchen on the north side of the house. I call it a galley kitchen, the GG says it’s something else. There’s an argument there. I like lighter colors. Except that I also like bright colors. So maybe some tile as a backsplash (or whatever you call that). I kind of want granite counters but not if I decide that the really fancy high-end granite isn’t in the budget. Or that it is maybe too much for my little kitchen. Then what? Floor? Leaning toward wood. Cabinets? I cannot see my way through that forest. I can’t visualize the samples in my house. I look at all those glossy brochures and they all show these big fancy schmancy McMansion-type kitchens. I do not have a big fancy schmancy McMansion-type kitchen. I have a little 60s-era sorta-ranch house kitchen. Ticky-tacky. That’s the kind of house I have. You know the old song, “they’re all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same.” I can’t envision those cabinets in my little ticky-tacky kitchen. I was dizzy. The cheesiest Christmas music on earth was playing and I caught myself thinking, “why don’t we just buy a whole new house? Then I could have a kitchen with a big island in the middle and a couple of sinks and a little nook to use my laptop in and. and. and…”

I do not really want to buy a new house. I like this house. It’s a perfect size for us. There is a woods behind it. There is a woods behind it. There is a woods behind it. Did I mention there is a woods behind it? But this is hard. The last time somebody approached me about coming up with a plan for this kitchen, I out-and-out panicked. No! I can’t do this. I don’t like that and I don’t like that and I don’t like *that*. What *do* I like? I do not know. I am bound and determined not to panic this time. But it is not easy.

By the way, did you know that you can get a cabinet for under your sink that has a *drawer* in the bottom of it so you can just pull all of the little rodent traps out in one fell swoop?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

grinch-and-froggie

Over the river and through the woods… or not.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

pumpkinsHalloween was just a few days ago, wasn’t it? I think I mentioned that the other day. Oh well. Today? Another rainy day. A beautiful one. A little chilly but not worthy of my ripped up old ski jacket. Why didn’t I buy two or three of those things? I don’t know. I guess I am getting to be a bit like Grandroobly (my dad), who insisted on wearing 25-year-old jackets and things in the last few years of his life. This was *not* to the liking of the Commander but what the heck. If it’s comfortable, who the heck cares what you look like. It’s okay kids, I am re-learning how to shop for biz-caz et al and I’m actually doing okay. I can go almost a whole week without wearing the same outfit. Maybe there’s something of the Commander (and a bit of whatever DNA fueled the always elegant Radical Betty) in me after all. If I had a crystal ball, I would take it with me when I buy clothing and I would ask it something like, “Am I going to like it well enough to buy two or three or more?” Alas. I bought that blasted ski jacket about a bazillion years ago and nowadays I can’t find anything like it that I also LIKE. Sigh. And then there’s my favo-rite black polar tech REI zip-up hoodie that I bought last year. Do they have one this year? Nada. That I can find, anyway.

It is Thanksgiving Eve. I met Mouse for lunch at Panera and it was nice (and drizzly) outside, so I waited outside for her. A cute little Mini Cooper pulled in and I thought, “my neighbors have one of those. Or two.” But I didn’t figure it was my neighbors because there are other Mini Coopers around. But it *was* my neighbors and so Mouse and I and Shuggie’s parents had lunch together. And then I took the last hour or so off work. I was done. It’s not like I am on the front-lines for the on-line banking industry anyway. I sit waaaaayyy back in the early part of the process. If something goes wrong today, I am usually very far down on the list of people to call. My work has been sliced and diced every which-way by all kinds of folks before any customers have to use it.

We are staying home for Thanksgiving this year. We don’t have a cut and dried tradition for this holiday. We’ve done different things over the years. I will NEVER try to guilt my children into coming home for Thanksgiving or any other holiday. My parents didn’t do that to me. Thanksgiving in particular always seems like just about the worst time to fly. The skies are ultra-crowded, the weather can be awful, and it is only a 4-day weekend and that’s only for folks that actually get days off for the weekend. I also think that our kids need to establish their own traditions. It was hard for me to absorb that idea when I was a young mother but ultimately it was the best for me and my family to learn to celebrate the holidays on our own.

Operator error

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

irobotI was at the checkout counter at my own fave Plum Market grocery store. The one that’s a few blocks and one annoying intersection away from the Landfill. I almost always walk there but this morning, I drove over there before work, grabbed a turkey, took it home, stashed in the refrigimatator, and high-tailed it for work. I knew I would be back there in the early evening after work and I knew I would want to walk to the store then and I did not want to carry a turkey home with me, along with a bunch of other stuff.

So, yes, I was at the checkout counter again after work, and the cashier was one of the young men that often checks me out. I had a coupon in my purse for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more. I wasn’t sure if it was expired or not. I wasn’t sure if I had spent over $50 or not. As it turned out, I had spent over $50 but the coupon had expired. When did it get to be after November 21st anyway? But the cashier said that they honored coupons a week after they expired. I didn’t really care. I could afford to buy what I had in my cart without a coupon. And so, he swiped the coupon. It didn’t work. He asked, “Did you buy alcohol?” Well yes, there was a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau. 2009. The coupon wasn’t good for wine. I didn’t care. It was my error for not reading the fine print on the coupon. We laughed and I hoisted my shopping bags and walked home, in the dark afternoon that is the western edge of the Eastern Standard time zone.

I feel very fortunate that I can walk to an upscale-type grocery store in my neighborhood and not pay *too* much attention to the prices. I do have my limits. We eat well here at the Landfill but we don’t eat a lot, at least not most of the time. Potato chips are my downfall and if I allow them into the Landfill, they don’t last long. The stupid thing about all of this is that I have walked over to the Plum Market a number of times during the time that the coupon would’ve worked and spent $44 or $40 or whatever. If I were better organized, I would’ve managed to consolidate some of those grokkery lists a bit better and my coupon would’ve maybe saved some money.

Bring on the storm, so we can jump the waves

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

stormSam (archaeologist, not dog) sent me this fascinating link today about how changes in weather patterns can affect The Big Lake They Call Gitchee Gumee. And she also asked a rather provocative question, which was whether I thought it was sunnier up in Sault Ste. Siberia in the winter (when I was a child) than it is on the Planet Ann Arbor.

I grew up on Lake Superior. It always annoyed (annoys) me when I tell people from the west coast that and they kind of yawn and poo-poo me and ask something like, “Well. Can you see the other side?” No, you can’t see the other side. Now that I have seen the blasted Pacific Ocean a couple of times, I am humbled. But. I didn’t live *on* Lake Superior year-round anyway. When we weren’t at the cabin, we had a small but respectable house on the south side of Sault Ste. Siberia with a flushy toilet and everything.

Winter in the Yoop? I do remember gorgeous winter days in the Yoop when the sun shone gloriously and we would be outside carving caves into the huge piles of snow that the plows and our parents’ shovels created. Those snowbanks would get so tall that we could actually slide down them on sleds or even pieces of cardboard. Into the street. Yes, that was relatively safe then and there. I *loved* to play outside when I was a kid (except when I wanted to read or draw or whatever) and I wonder if I remember those gorgeously cold and sunny days the best. And I remember the days when, as a moom on the Planet Ann Arbor, I was frustrated that it wasn’t nice enough or snowy enough for my kids to want to play outside. I just don’t know. Some winters are snowier than others no matter where you are although Michigan’s UP can usually count on some pretty heavy snow that may not leave the deep dark woods until about Memorial Day weekend.

I don’t know about weather in general. Global warming? Climate change? Do we really have enough data collected at this point in history to be able to accurately predict more than a few days of weather? I don’t think so. We have warm winters. We have cold winters. We have snow or we don’t have snow. We have summers on our beach when it is cold, rainy, and blowing an onshore gale (seemingly) every day. We have summers when the prevailing winds come out of the swamp and it is almost too hot to sit on the beach. Don’t even ask me about the summer of 1988 on the Planet Ann Arbor when it was 95-104 degrees for DAYS on end and I didn’t have A/C either in my house or any of our cars. This summer? Did we get past 80? Maybe for a few days.

Are we heading toward climate change/global warming? I don’t know. I still don’t think we have enough data. Don’t get me wrong. I am not in favor of spewing all kinds of crap into the atmosphere and I think that in the long run, we all need to reduce our footprints.

Have yourself a merry little time warp

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

vertigoI think I might’ve said something around Halloween about how it’s all over once Halloween is done. Halloween was just a few days ago (right?) and here we are. It’s Thanksgiving week and I am trying to figure how I’ll get everything done and still work. And even us heathens are contemplating panicking about Christmas shopping. Me? Hmm. 1) I hate to shop. Except for grokkeries. Or fabric. Or beads. 2) I get seasick about the idea of obtaining any new possessions and so do my kids, for the most part. 3) I fergit. Probably a variation of #1 and #2. I know. My Jewish buddies just roll their eyes and laugh at me when I complain about Christmas.

Anyway. It was densely foggy this morning and it would’ve been a beautiful day to walk over to the river and downtown but I felt like I had too much to do. Mouse had an early hair-dressing call for her last performance this afternoon and I wanted to be around if she needed me for anything this morning. She doesn’t often need me but, “Moom, we could go and get me breakfast at the Plum Market and then I could go and pick up the hair lady and you could walk home.” Yes! Whatever you say, Mouse! Actually, I had been thinking about that scenario too.

I did stuff at home until it was *finally* noon, when the downtown stores on the Planet Ann Arbor open on Sunday. I am not complaining here. When I was a kid, most stores were not open at all on Sunday. I was grateful that some of my favorite boutiques were open at a time when I could get to them. Not that I shop at them often. Because I hate to shop, don’tcha know… But by noon, downtown was already crowded with shoppers and I felt overwhelmed even before I began.

And so, I was buying stuff at one of my favorite stores and, of all things, their computers were down. The cute young women (girls?) behind the counter were kind of fumbling with how to process transactions. They pulled out one of those old-fashioned mechanical credit card swipers with the carbon copy receipts. They could NOT figure out how to use that thing, which they were calling a “knuckle-buster”. Now I was not angry in the slightest about this. First: this particular store is run by volunteers. If you are not being paid, you are not expected to know everything on earth. So I was patient.

The thing is, I know how to use those old things. My college break job was running a checkout counter at the Tempo store in Sault Ste. Siberia. I actually loved that job. The only problem with it is that it didn’t pay anything more than minimum wage. But it was fun. The cash register I had to run? An old-fashioned mechanical thing with rows and rows of keys. We were on the cutting edge in some ways. Not only did I have to enter the price of something, I had to enter a department and line number and if it was “softlines”, I had to enter a “tag number”. All those numbers got printed out onto rolls of paper and sent to the home office by snail mail for “processing”. I worked there enough that I could ring people’s stuff up almost before they had put it on my checkout counter, department, line, and sometimes even tag number.

When somebody paid with a credit card, which I think was maybe about 3% of the time back in those days, it was just a pain in the you-know-what. If it was over $50, even if the customer was somebody like my dad, who managed one of the banks and knew the store owner, I would have to call the back office in the store, and *they* would have to call VISA or Mastercard to get an authorization number, and then the back office would call me back to give me that number and I would write it (by hand) onto the credit card receipt after I ran it through the knuckle buster. Irate customers? Hmmm. “Why do we have to wait? What’s the problem. Our credit is good.” They didn’t realize that I was just a lowly employee who was trying to follow the rules and not making a personal judgment about their potential ability to pay their bills.

I tried to tell this young woman how to use the knuckle buster. She was trying to put my debit card in *between* the receipt copies. I said [nicely], “you have to put the card *underneath* all of the copies so the carbon paper can imprint all of the copies. She could not figure it out. She didn’t exactly freak out but she was greatly relived when the manager came along and showed her how to use that piece of old-school technology. It was all okay. I paid for my stuff and got outta there and probably by the end of the day, everyone was an expert.

My guess was that this young woman was probably younger than my kids. It kind of blew my mind to think back to the days when *everybody* used knuckle-busters to process credit cards and most cashiers were freaked out when they had to learn to use some computerized device to do it. Now it’s totally the other way around. Go figure.

Stage mother

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

mousegermainepengyActually, I am really not that much of a stage mother. At least I am not one of *those* stage mothers. You know the kind. I won’t go into detail. That’s a rant for some other day. The truth is that, until Mouse was eight, I hadn’t ever given even a moment’s thought about getting my kids involved in acting and theatre stuff. It wasn’t anything I had ever been involved in myself, outside of playing in a few pit orchestras, so I never thought about getting my kids into it. But then, when Mouse was eight, an opportunity came along that I didn’t think we should refuse. Mouse was not quite so enthusiastic but agreed to give it a try when I bribed her with the promise of a mouse watch. I have no idea where the mouse watch is these days or whether it works any more. On the other hand, I have lost count of how many plays she has acted in or directed or stage managed or costumed.

Tonight, she played Germaine in Picasso at the Lapin Agile at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre here on the Planet Ann Arbor. That’s Mouse and her cousin Pengie and they’ll probably kill me for posting that but I don’t think it’s too terrible a picture and it’ll float down the page fast enough anyway. Mouse doesn’t usually look like that. Our hair doesn’t do that kind of thing without a lot of intervention and so hers is curled and sprayed within an inch of its life. She doesn’t usually wear makeup either. That’s about all I have to say. Thanks to all the relatives, friends and old YAG buddies who came to the show.

I’m at the end of my rope for the night. Cleaning and shopping for the holidays tomorrow. G’night! -KW!

Moom freak-out moments in that batscope time of the night

Friday, November 20th, 2009

batwomanI have been persona non grata a few times this week. To others but mostly to myself. The worst transgression occurred last night in those wee batscope hours of the night. Although, as I was sitting there freaking out at 2:30 AM or whatever it was, I couldn’t help thinking that it didn’t look any different outside than it does when I walk at 6:00 AM or thereabouts.

So, last night, I fell asleep in front of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” *again*. I think that is the third time I have watched that movie. I have watched a different set of scenes every time but I have never watched the whole thing and I haven’t seen the end. Does it end in daylight? I know that it is a critically acclaimed film but boy oh boy do I have trouble watching a party that *begins* at 2:00 AM. Because that’s the blasted batscope time of night for me and if I wake up it is to go to the bathroom or get some water or investigate the aftermath of a tree falling on the house. Or freak out. Like last night.

So last night, I think I got to the part where they drive drunkenly to a bar (what bar is open after 2:00 AM?) and Sandy Dennis dances. And then I crashed out on the couch and the GG apparently turned off the DVD and went to bed. I woke up at 12:21 AM. Mouse was not home. Now, Mouse is in a play right now and last night was opening night AND SHE IS 22 (!) and she has lived on her own at college and in Senegal and she has been staying out late since she could drive solo after midnight and I have always trusted her and I am used to this stuff. Or so I thought. Usually, she texts me when she’ll be later than usual. Last night she didn’t? Why? Because it was opening night and she was having FUN (duh!), unlike her moom, who was trying to stay awake to watch a movie she (me, that is) is rapidly developing an, uh, interesting relationship with. Okay. It’s 12:21. I texted: Grok? And went to bed.

And woke up an hour or so later. No response from my text. Okay. Batscope time. I went on to high alert. I texted. I called. I left messages. I didn’t leave messages. I woke up the GG (bad idea). I sat on the Green Couch and checked my email and twitter and stuff on my phone. Er, and clipped my toenails. Why not, I’m up in the middle of the night. I went downstairs and got the laundry. I washed the remaining couple of dishes I’d left soaking earlier and cleaned the sink and I’d’ve probably gone on to start cleaning the whole kitchen and vacuuming the house if I hadn’t gotten ahold of myself.

Of COURSE, she came home. She was FINE! (I knew that somewhere down there.) She had been out having fun with the cast and left her phone in the car.

I try so hard not to worry about my kids adult children. When they aren’t at home I really don’t worry about where they are at whatever time of night it is wherever they are. I remember when I was that age and would go out for half the night. I was always okay but I knew that my parents were always back home worrying. It was a constant source of household strife but now that I am an old batscope kind of moom, I know where they were coming from. Where the heck *is* she? Who is she with? Is her car in the ditch somewhere? That was back in the days *well* before cell phones. Imagination takes over in that batscope time of the night. Really, it’s pretty easy now. If you aren’t sure where your kid is, you can call. Or try to. And it is perfectly acceptable for your kid adult child to leave her phone in her car.

Whatever. My imagination took off last night. I tried to control it but, in that batscope time of night, I was thinking all kinds of crazy things. It can be hard to do the transition between the days when you tuned your bat-ears to every teensy, tinesy, wee little sound your newborn baby made to tuning out the comings and goings of her adult life. Even though she has somehow, despite my intervention, turned out to be such a rock-solid adult-type person that you would trust her with your life.

Love you, Mouse, sorry! Have fun in Dallas, Lizard! Maybe you’ll meet JR.

At least I am not being assaulted by hot rollers

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

waterloggedAnd that’s okay. I like my witchy hair, as Mouse calls it. It’s getting just a bit longer and shaggier than I am happy with right now. Maybe Mouse’ll chop it for me when she is finished with her play.

Ever hear of a bad hair day? Of course you have. I may live under a rock but it is really a rather middle-sized rock. I do get out occasionally. Well, bad hair day? I have had a bad hair life! I *always* wanted to have long, glorious hair when I was a kid. Mostly, I did not. The Commander, bless her heart, had a different plan for me that involved “cute” short “pixie” style hair. Oh there were little experiments with home permanents and bobby pin curls and stuff. But usually my hair was short. Much shorter than I wanted it. To be fair, I’m sure there was a maintenance issue involved. I have really “big” hair and it gets messy and tangled up at the slightest breeze. Or just sitting at a desk for an hour or so. Whatever. I am sure that The Commander didn’t enjoy untangling my hair. I know I don’t.

When I got to be a teenager, I grew my hair out. And I started experimenting with trying to actually, um, curl it. My hair may look straight on a quick glance but it isn’t that simple. It has a mind of its own. That is not necessarily a bad thing but I didn’t realize that then and I wanted to look like the models in Seventeen Magazine or the Breck Girl or whoever. So I endured many nights of sleeping with curlers in my hair. And Dippity-Do. Anybody remember Dippity-Do? Ever sleep with curlers in your hair? Yeek! On a good day when Venus, Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter (and its moons) were all lined up with Earth’s Moon, I would get up in the morning and take out those curlers and my hair would look kinda sorta almost like the models in Seventeen Magazine or the Breck Girl or whatever. For about five minutes. The act of walking out of my bedroom would mess it up. And hats? Stuffing a hat on my beeyootyfully curled hair didn’t help much either and so I usually didn’t wear a hat and it is amazing that I never got frostbitten ears walking downtown to school in sub-zero (Fahrenheit) Sault Ste. Siberian winter weather. Maybe the hair helped? I dunno.

My use of curlers morphed into the electric kind and then a curling iron that I never got the hang of and eventually into nothing. Now that my hair is short — and it isn’t what a lot of people would call short but it is a length that I like — I NEVER bother with curlers. I do the wash and wear thing. Get up at 0-dark-30, shower and wash my hair and let it air-dry as I do my morning walk. Brush and go. I am an old bag and my hair is kind of wild, witchy, ugly, blonde-gray hair but there is an absolute ton of it and so it swings when I walk. Which I love. Whatever it looks like. Yes, it is probably ugly but who the heck cares!

Didja/dooya all have hair issues?

Physical or logical delete…

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

nostoppingI can’t stop, stand, or park but it is a place to drop off students… Say what? Am I supposed to do a slow drive-by and throw the kid out the window or what? Who do the public schools have writing this crap nowadays and who approves it? Probably some idiot who uses “Dude!” in their regular conversation. “Dude! it’s okay, my parents threw me out the window at the elementary school and I landed on my head but I’m okay.” Sigh.

I walked my kids to this school 99% of the time they attended it (except when they were old enough to walk themselves). It would’ve been ridiculous for me to drive them to school because, to walk to the school, we go out the door, down the block, hang a left, and we’re in the school yard. Driving them to school is about a mile. People did that. I do not know why. If I ever drove a vee-hickle around the end of the earth and back to that school, it was because I had a bunch of crap to haul over there (or take home). The proximity of the elementary school is one of the reasons that we bought the Landfill all those years ago. It is on the same block as an elementary school and so our kids did not have to cross streets to get there.

There have always been parking lot issues over there at that school. It is the same age (59 years) as my old school in Sault Ste. Siberia, good old [stinkin’] Lincoln. Almost everybody walked to Lincoln School, even some of the teachers, probably. The parking lot was gravel and maybe, I dunno 10 or 15 vee-hickles parked there on an average day. I lived across the street and so I certainly walked but even if I was staying at my Grandma’s house, maybe 10 blocks away, I walked.

Our school here in A2? Oh man.. Kids get droven (intentionally misspelled) in from everywhere. There are kids who get bused in from outlying areas and I can understand why their parents drive them on days when time is tight and there’s something else to do. But I have never figured out why folks in my own neighborhood drove their kids to school. Having every blasted perfectly coiffed soccer mom (stereotype warning) drop their kids off at school every day makes a mess in the parking lot. And that makes the school (and the district) have to spend all kinds of money (aka taxpayer dollars) to deal with traffic patterns and flows and parking spaces and yada yada. None of this crap has anything to do with educating students.

I walk alone.

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

darkI walk alone. On Fin Family Moominbeach. And sometimes in the woods there too. It is safe there. I have been going there since I was an infant. The susurration of the pine trees as we turned the corner on the last leg of our journey there is my first auditory memory. It is safe there. It is my family’s beach. It is on the shores of Lake Superior. Everyone is a friend there. Until the day a friend of a friend followed me down to the end of the beach and I didn’t know it until I was *at* the end and turned around. I’m not gonna tell this story. It had a good ending and, although I wouldn’t have believed it 30 years ago, I ran into this person a couple months ago and was able to greet him with friendliness and actually quite some humor. Is my beach safe? It is chock full of family members and close friends who would do anything for me and my family. It is safe. Except when it isn’t. Because anyone can be anywhere at any time, whether they are a good person or not.

I rode my bike alone. Around and around and around the block, 20 times was it? Yes, it was 20. I was about eight. I may have been a tad OCD at that age. Sault Ste. Siberia is a very small city. It is safe. It was a small block. Friends lived in every single house all the way around that block. Every night I would do this riding. It gets cold up there and one night, after all my riding, I remember bursting into the house happy and exhilarated and heading straight for the bathroom to run my frozen fingers under a stream of nice, hot water. The next night? Some asshole (sorry) in an old jalopy screeched to a stop beside me and asked if I wanted a ride to the “picture show”. I grabbed my bike and ran like hell. He yelled, “hey kid! hey kid!” I was two houses away from home and I could run FAST. I dove into our old dilapidated garage and into the house and as I looked out the dining room window, I could see his old jalopy going FAST down our alley. I did not tell my parents. I was too scared. Siberia is a small town and it is safe. Except when it isn’t. Like when The Commander’s friend Pauline walked out of the beauty parlor after getting her hair done and looked left and the guy who was walking toward her looked so scary she almost went back into the shop. She didn’t. He didn’t interact with her. But he hitch-hiked down and over to Chicago and killed seven or eight student nurses in their apartment. Richard Speck if you dare to google. He had been working on a lake freighter and jumped ship in Sault Ste. Siberia that day. (Or maybe not exactly, now that I have googled…)

I walk alone. In the dark. Here on the Planet Ann Arbor. It is a safe city and I live in a safe neighborhood. Except when it isn’t. Serial killers? Yes, we have had some. John Norman Collins. He was killing college girls back in, when was that? The late 60s. I wasn’t a college girl yet. I didn’t live on the Planet. Early 80s. Coral Watts. Raping and killing young women. Following them into their apartments, forcing them into their bathtubs and slashing them to bits. I lived alone then, in an apartment on the Planet. He killed women and then drove to Canada and back. Canada? Why? I dunno. He must’ve been calm enough that customs waved him through. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the last serial killer we had here. It was in the mid 1990s and he was operating in a swath through town that was pretty dern close to my neighborhood. His first known victim was a woman in her 50s taking a walk in the woods that adjoined her back yard. Like I do every day. He bludgeoned her and left her for dead. She didn’t die but others did. I wasn’t walking in the dark in those days. I had kids to walk to school. Past the deep, dark, scary woods. A neighbor in my nice, safe (except when it isn’t) neighborhood asked me if I was afraid of the latest serial killer. Well, YES!!! BUT!!!!!!! More than that, I am ANGRY!!!! I told her that I thought that every woman in the city needed to be trained to use a gun (YES!) and take turns stationing themselves outside all of the woodsy parks. I think she thought I was a bit over the top but, WHAT THE HECK??? (For the record, I have never shot a gun.)

I walk alone. I have had enough weird and scary things happen to me in my life that I am always on the watch for people that seem out of place. People that want to engage me in some kind of weird conversation or whatever. Or just don’t look like they belong. It’s a safe neighborhood here. Except when it isn’t.

It’s a wonderful world, except when it isn’t. There are bad people. Watch out for them. Here’s one resource. Please do your own research for more.

Love y’all and be careful out there,
Kayak Woman

And we are his sisters and his cousins and his aunts

Monday, November 16th, 2009

autumnleavesIt is tech week at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre and I am not there. It is tech week for someone just about every week at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. For quite a few years, two weeks a year, it was tech week at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre for me. Not that I was ever on stage, although once I was the pit orchestra. Yes I *was* the orchestra. Me and my flute. Peter Pan, 1999. Improvised my own music even. Watched the elder beach urchin play Wendy. And a mermaid on the nights she wasn’t playing Wendy.

I have sat in the audience at the Lydia and I have played in the pit at the Lydia. Most of my experiences there were with the A2 Young Actors Guild as a parent volunteer or the administrator of the disorganization. Tech week, when the cast and crew move in to the theater is always exciting, no matter how large or small the performance venue. The Lydia? Everybody was SO excited to be back at the Lydia again. To be able to enter via the STAGE DOOR! Yes!!! The kids in the cast (and the parents and the director and producer and even the long-suffering administrator) always loved when we finally moved in to the theatre. We’re here at the Mendelssohn again! And we would all proceed to take the place over again. And I mean take it over! 40-60 young actors running, jumping, swinging from the rafters. Dressing rooms and the costume room down in the bowels of the place. The Green Room. All of it. It was so much fun.

Fast forward. Mouse’s upcoming play is at the Lydia Mendelssohn. I am not there tonight. I won’t be there all week. I will not be in the orchestra pit and I will not be in the ticket booth and I will not be backstage. I will be in the audience. I will be banned from the backstage area (I think). As part of my job, I used to have to ban relatives and friends of our actors from getting into the green room and beyond. This is all okay. I think. I don’t have young YAG children any more and I have my own wonderful full-time job but I do miss tech week at the Lydia Mendelssohn.

Don’t forget to jiggle the handle!

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

ip10This post is inspired by my cousin, who not only knows how to fix a toilet but has also been known to ride one in parades. And the GG, who is at this very moment monkeying around with the plumbing in the Blue and Only Bathroom and he won’t tell me what he’s doing in there but there hasn’t been anything wrong with the Blue and Only Toilet that I know of and he’s been out of town, so who knows what he is doing.

I was terrified of toilets when I was little. I wasn’t afraid of falling in, at least not that I remember. I was afraid the toilet would overflow. I don’t remember ever seeing a toilet overflow but the adults in my house always seemed to get panicky about stuff like that and I had some kind of idea that there would be a big explosion or something equally terrifying. I was also pretty nervous about outhouses, especially in the dark when the werewolves and vampires were out. Or if there was a luna moth on the path. But that is all a whole ‘nother story and one I’m sure I have blathered about before.

And then I grew up and married the GG and started going to a loverly old shacky cabin with a toilet that was actually a bit more frightening than an outhouse. An entity known as Gumper (or Bumpa or Grandpa Garth if you prefer) never failed to caution anyone who entered the bathroom, “Don’t forget to jiggle the handle!” Because if you didn’t operate the toilet flush lever in precisely the right manner, pushing the lever down with exactly the right amount of pressure, holding it down the right number of nanoseconds and, yes, jiggling it in just the right way, the toilet would run. You would go off on your merry way and you’d forget all about the toilet and whether it was running or not and poor long-suffering Gumper would be left to catch it. As near as I could figure out, this situation seemed to have been going on (running?) forever and there was a part of me that wondered why somebody didn’t just, well, fix it!

Y’all are wondering, “What are those buckets for?” Buckets? What buckets? Oh! Those buckets! Well, those buckets are what we used for flushing the toilet in the winter months when we did not have running water inside the cabin. Flushing the toilet on ski weekends meant throwing buckets of water down the toilet. And since the policy was sort of loosely “if it’s yellow, let it mellow….” sometimes you had to throw two or three buckets down there to get all of the paper to go down. No need to finesse the flush lever during those winter weekends and now y’all are wondering why the heck you asked about those blasted buckets. At least I didn’t finish that cute little “if it’s yellow” saying.

Anyway, after living with the GG for a while, I ceased to be afraid of toilets. If a toilet threatens to overflow — and the Blue and Only Toilet has done that on many occasions — I simply grab the good old plumber’s helper and start plunging away. I will never learn how to take a toilet apart but I can plunge one and I can catch one when it’s running.

And so, the GG’s little plumbing job was not related to the Blue and Only Toilet after all. He dun-da-da-dun-dun-daaaaahhhhhhh!!! installed a fancy NEW SHOWER HEAD!!!!! I’m not sure what inspired him to do that. The previous shower head was probably old when we bought the house and the last time I nagged him about it he seemed to think that was fine. Roight. There is a new one now. That is all. Oh. Except there is a leak…

Moom, can you walk 12 blocks?

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

decayIf I ever get to the point where my kids have to ask me a question like that, just shoot me, okay? It wasn’t me and it wasn’t either of my kids in this case. It was a rather obnoxious woman staying at our hotel in San Fran who was constantly bragging about her son, whom* she was visiting out there, and he apparently lived six blocks away from the hotel, hence she needed to be able to walk 12 blocks.

I am sorry, but I can’t stand when people constantly brag about their kids. I should be used to it, since I brought my kids up on the Planet Ann Arbor, where the kid-braggarts are legendary. But I am not. I mean, I am proud of my kids and I will post when they do something significant. You know, like graduate from college or whatever. Mostly I am proud of them not because of whatever wonderful things they have done but because they have somehow, in spite of my intervention, grown up to be thoughtful, open minded, adult human beings.

Anyway, this woman seemed to incite other parents to rise to the occasion and brag about their *own* kids and (I won’t lie) that made me feel a bit panicky like I wanted to start bragging about my kids but I am not the kind of person who can easily get a word in edgewise in mommy one-ups-man-ship conversations like that, so I just retreated back into Facebook or whatever. Fortunately, she and most of the other guests didn’t roll into the parlor for breakfast until well after I did, since being, well, *me*, I had to *force* myself to stay in bed until 6 AM out there on the left coast. So, by the time she made her grand entrance, I had been up on the roof and back to the room a bazillion times and was getting ready to go out for a walk somewhere in the Mission District with the GG. Vertigo-inducing death march on the hill between two yarn stores anyone?

I don’t know what kind of activities that kid had planned for his moom. I’m sure they had a good time and I think he played the puano in the parlor one afternoon and reduced a few people to tears. I wasn’t there and I know I am being snarky. I bet she didn’t often have to walk more than 12 blocks though. Me? Even before the trip, when people would ask me what I wanted to do in San Francisco, my answer was something along the lines of “go with the flow” and “walk”. I am so scheduled all of the time. Work and rocket trips to the Great White North. I wanted somebody else to make most of the decisions and I didn’t really want to have a long, complex schedule of things to see and do. I love San Francisco and just being out there seeing something different is enough for me. And so we walked. All over the place. Yes, we also took Maggie and the BART and we biked across the Golden Gate (very fun), but mostly there was a lot of walking. It was enough walking to make me feel that sort of nice, warm, fuzzy kind of tired at the end of the day. I do bet that the daughter we were visiting out there had to spend a few days recovering from herding cats all weekend.

Today’s walking here on the Planet Ann Arbor? Lemme see. My usual 45 minutes around the neighborhood at 0-dark-30. Down to the Farmer’s Market and back with Mouse mid-morning. Plum Market mid-afternoon. (Grocery shop much? Yup.) I do not know how many miles and I don’t care. It was enough mileage that I am feeling that sort of nice, warm, fuzzy kind of tired now that it’s not too far from the end of the day.

*Hey, grammar freaks: have I used “whom” correctly here or is it “who”?

I’m proud to be a hillbilly

Friday, November 13th, 2009

sunrise2Except I’m really not a hillbilly. But I am a Yooper, which isn’t all that different in terms of stereotypes and that’s what this post is about. If I can pull it off and I probably can’t because it’s Friday night, the 13th no less, so I am brain-dead. But I’m gonna plummet along into it anyway.

I get the double-whammy when it comes to stereotypes. I grew up in Michigan’s upper peninsula. It is an absolutely gorgeous area with Lake Superior to the north and Lake Michigan to the south. It is not often very warm up there and it is a long way from any kind of megalopolis. And when you live on the Planet Ann Arbor, no matter how many years you have lived on the Planet Ann Arbor, if you volunteer the information that you came from the Yoop, folks get this crazy idea that you are illiterate and ride snowmobiles everywhere and shoot guns, etc. And it’s true that guns are shot, but..

On the flip side of the coin… If you tell folks from Michigan’s upper peninsula that you live on the Planet Ann Arbor, the look and unintelligible response that they give you makes you wonder if they think you are growing marijuana in your blasted backyard. I dunno. Maybe some folks are. I’m sure they probably are. I’ll almost bet there are more folks in the UP who are growing pot in their back yards. Me? NOTHING grows in my dern backyard. Including regular lawn-type grass in the last couple years. We have this awful clay stuff here and I have a blasted black thumb. So. Not growing (or smoking) pot here.

This stereotyping stuff is ridiculous. Yes, I grew up in the Yoop. And I’ve lived many more years on the Planet Ann Arbor than I have in the Yoop. But, since we still have family property in the Yoop (and *love* it there), I go there frequently. I love it down here too. I loved visiting my cousins here when I was a kid. I wanted to live here when I grew up and somehow, I ended up doing that. So now I am boomerang woman.

All of us, all of us. Our ancestors have come from all over the earth and we all have different and very complex family histories. Let’s all find out about our history and use our knowledge to try to make the world a better place instead of pigeon-holing everybody into these ridiculous stereotypes.

Flabbergasted. And ticked off. Etc.

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

eyetreeI can’t blahg about what I want to blahg about today even though I am totally, absolutely, utterly, pissed off. It has to do with the lack of progress that we seem to have not made since I was a kid young woman looking for a job back in the last dying days of the 3-martini lunch (late 70s). I eventually found a job through connections and *struggled* to make my own way until after the first year or so when the christian conservative “technical supervisor” quit (thank you God!) for a better job or whatever. And then. I settled in and learned everything I could and I *think* I was a valued employee. Whatever I looked like. I know that my young, thin, blonde appearance was a detriment in the early days. Eventually, folks started to understand that there was a blasted brain underneath there.

And so… Why the heck hell do we care now in the 21st century, no less, what people look like and why do people who are my age and have been through the goddamn trenches still counsel [extremely intelligent] young women to wear makeup and show cleavage. Oh man, I try not to show cleavage these days. I would love to be young, thin, and blonde again. I DO wear makeup. I use Cover Girl to cover ancient acne scars and I use eye-shadow and Maybelline mascara. Yay for Maybelline!!! I doubt that anyone I work with cares about that. I think they mostly don’t use makeup and our discussions about business casual clothing revolve around trying to not wear the same outfit all week. We are focused on our work and not our appearance. And I keep a pair of business casual shoes in my desk.

Fer Kee-reist, let’s hire people for what they can do and not what they look like. In the job that I have now, people are very much valued for what they can DO rather than what they look like. Why can’t we all actually talk to the folks who apply for jobs instead of trying to judge them by appearances.

Whennnn…. Johnny comes marching home again, hurrah, hurray!

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Hmmm. I guess the title might make y’all think I am posting about Veterans Day. I am not. But since I wrote that title without thinking, I want to stop a moment to honor all of those who have served and/or are serving our country. I may not agree with all of the wars and conflicts our country has managed to get into but I am not naive enough to think that we don’t need armed forces and I appreciate what those folks do. And yes, I have relatives who serve or have served, including my dad in WWII.

I wrote the title because I thought it was funny and then I remembered the date and I should know better than most because November 11th is a federal holiday and those slackers over at the EPA (i.e., the GG) have the day off. I was actually thinking about the B52 in Dr. Strangelove (and squirrels). But I’m not posting about soldiers or errant B52s or federal holidays. I’m posting about squirrels (and chipmunks) and their continual and relentless march home to whatever bird feeder the GG puts up and fills with bird feed. Witness what’s been going on at Houghton Lake in these pics:

squirrel1squirrel2squirrel3

I especially like the 3rd one where the squirrel (click to enlarge the pic) is giving the GG’s webcam the evil eye. This war between the GG and wild rodents has been going on all summer. Mouse could probably tell this story better than I can but, at one point, the GG said, “They’re comin’ from two blocks away.” He was referring to chipmunks. Mouse asked, “How do you know that?”. The GG replied, “I see ’em comin’ across the street.” Sigh. I don’t know. I just live here. I work and I come home and squirrels et al are swarming over the GG’s wonderful birdfeeder in the Landfill backyard and now they have followed him to Houghton Lake.

Good night. And we’ll see if I try to watch “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” again tonight. Yeeeeee.