Archive for December, 2009

Which couch did you crash on?

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I couldn’t remember. I know we were at Houghton Lake skiing for the ensuing weekend but I could not for the life of me remember New Year’s Eve. I know that I wasn’t blotto and I doubt that I made it to midnight but I couldn’t remember which couch I had fallen asleep on, Landfill or Houghton Lake. Well, no problem, I thought. I’ll just go back and look at my blahg for 12/31/08. Alas, it was a bunch of cryptic BS about my job and my so-called life. It said absolutely nothing about where I was and what I did that day. And yes, that’s me and that’s the Houghton Lake couch but that loverly webcam photo was *not* taken on New Year’s Eve.

So. Where am I tonight and what did I do today? I went to work! I got quite a bit done, if I do say so myself. There were maybe about five people in the building, including me, my boss, and one other team member. The boss decided we could leave just a wee bit early (don’t tell anybody) and I was thankful for that because people were chompin’ at the bit to get me to walk downtown for “happy hour” and dinner. So, I walked out to the parking lot. Something was funny about the Dogha. It looked almost a little forlorn. The Dogha is getting up into its dotage these days and it has a lot of miles on it but it really isn’t a forlorn-looking kind of vee-hickle. But forlorn was how it looked this afternoon. Or lopsided maybe? Yes. Lopsided. With good reason, given that the right rear tire was flat. Fortunately, driving over to my work to deal with a flat tire was probably about the most exciting thing the GG did today except maybe for the part where Einstein took a picture of his shirt. So he came over and put air in the tire (which had a screw embedded in it, btw) and drove it home and all was good.

And then, we walked down to the Old Town bar for a drink and a burger. Another couple was walking in behind us and the GG said, “Joe!” (a guy he works with) and then realized that it was *not* Joe. And we could have just left it at that except that after a minute or so, I realized that not only was it not Joe, it *was* somebody from *my* work, albeit not someone I know well. Which meant that on an evening when about the last thing I felt like doing was being social, I had to screw up my courage to walk over and explain about the GG and “Joe” and ‘fess up that I did recognize him and, well, Happy New Year!

And then we walked home and I am on my favorite Landfill backroom couch and there is no way I am going to make it to anywhere near midnight but that’s typical. And there you have it. Next year when I can’t remember where I was tonight, I can look it up and find out.

G’night and happy new year,

P.S. Which couch did you crash on? Or did you stay up to ring in twenty-ten?


Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

It’s that time of year again. When LSSU publishes its annual list of banished words. I have a bit of a history with LSSU. No, I did not go to college there although when I was a little l kid, I used to think I would go there someday. Why? Well, because LSSU is in Sault Ste. Siberia and that’s where I grew up. As a little kid, I couldn’t believe I would ever live anywhere else but with my parents. Of course, I didn’t stay there although some folks did and it is a good college. Nowadays, The Commander’s Other House, the Real House Where She Lives Some of the Days, is practically on LSSU’s small but beautiful campus. She can walk to water-ex at the pool there on a good day and that is a good thing.

This year’s banished words? You can read them all. I will only comment on a few.

Green: Isn’t this getting to be a lot like “lite”? Green is a color. Let’s keep it that way. Every blasted marketer on earth is now using the word “green” to promote everything. When I am not burning up petroleum flying Honda Express to the Great White North, I am trying to keep my carbon footprint to a minimum. Buying products that some nincompoop marketing guru has slapped the label “green” onto isn’t helping me do that.

Speaking of Carbon Footprint? I have no words. Or maybe I do. But I probably shouldn’t say them here because we are sorta land barons, in a hillbilly sorta way, and managing land means flying Honda Express up and down the blasted I75 SUV Speedway. Lots of times.

Maverick. I have been walking past the yard of a dog called Maverick for many years now. He always sounds like he wants to bite my leg off but he’s behind a chainlink fence and can’t get to me. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him lately…

First Dude. Oh please

Bailout? I thought that was a 2008 word but I guess not. Sigh.

Staycation. Who the heck has TIME for a staycation. Landfill. Cabin(s) in the northcountry. Children on the left coast. Crazy octo-women. Man oh man, I am constantly counting and recounting my vacation/personal hours. Sigh. I hate the word “staycation”.

What do you think about LSSU’s latest list? Would you add any words to it?

Well, *I* heard it from Michael Moore. How ’bout *you*?

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Yes. The film-maker. He was sitting in Daytwa Metro on Sunday afternoon when cops and ambulances and things surrounded an incoming jetliner from Amsterdam. He twittered about it and one of my Twitter buddies (@agategal) retweeted him. Note: I don’t follow Michael Moore on Twitter and he definitely doesn’t follow me. I don’t follow a whole lot of people. I am on the Internet too much as it is and I have to draw the line somewhere.

Oh, no. Not again. Same flight as Christmas Day? Another Nigerian? Is there a pattern here? That’s my airport! I don’t know about the landing patterns but outbound planes fly over my neighborhood many times a day. My daughter flew into Metro on the 23rd and had a flight out again in two days (that would be this morning). This was starting to get a little nerve-wracking. I jumped onto some news sites. They were filled with the usual conflicting details of a breaking story. We actually went so far as to brainstorm alternate transportation to Pittsburgh. Train? 20 hours. Megabus? Doesn’t go there. Rental car? Hmmm. Only four and a half hours. About the time it takes to get to the Mackinac Bridge or beyond.

Back at the airport, mmflint tweeted that he didn’t know what was going on but flights were still taking off (and I could hear them heading out over my neighborhood) and he was going to resume reading his book. I thought he sounded a bit bored with it all but maybe that was just the 140-character limit. Within an hour or so, it became clear that this was not a repeat bombing attempt, just some poor schmo with a gastrointestinal problem. If I was sick and somebody dragged me out of the bathroom, I’d’ve been beyond verbally abusive. I sure hope somebody apologized to him.

So here we go. More TSA rules. Many folks who know a lot more than me have written plenty about this all over the web. I am just a small, inexperienced and rather uninformed voice. But where the heck did they come up with these rules? I think they are grasping at straws. How do they think prohibiting people from using their laptops, et al, the last hour of a flight is going to prevent a bombing? And keeping people out of the bathroom? Seems like that one has already been proven useless, or maybe dangerous is a better word. I have a novel idea! Why don’t we keep people on those watch lists OFF airplanes? What are those lists for anyway? Are we just storing names in a database for the fun of it? And yes. I know this is complicated. I know there will be people who are put on those lists for dubious reasons. I don’t know how to sort that out. But we have to figure it out and stop punishing the not-so-trembling masses for the acts of a few deranged individuals.

I got up at 3:45 AM today to drive Lizard Breath to Metro in order to make a 7:00 AM flight. It was nuts over there but I’ve seen it worse. She reported long lines but both her flights were apparently on time and she made it to Pittsburgh safely. No word on allowed bathroom usage. Heck, I hate the idea of going to the bathroom on an airplane so much that I don’t eat or drink anything significant when I fly, which is not very often and I can survive a non-stop trip to the left coast without the loo on most days.

Snow showers

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Our snow “showers” lasted all day. Mouse shoveled the snow off her vee-hickle this afternoon. She drove to the Plum Market and bought two items or thereabouts. By the time she got out to the parking lot again, she had to de-snow the dern vee-hickle again. I think her next stop was gasoline and when she was finished with *that*, she had to de-snow *again*. After all that, I walked over to the Plum Market. It wasn’t snowing any more and big blue expanses of sky were opening up to the north. It was windy as all get-out and it was getting cold.

I was going to rant about the three new (count ’em) traffic circles that have been foisted upon us over the last couple years. But I can’t. Not tonight. I wanted to rant about our Planet’s decision to not pay overtime to plow neighborhood streets until four or more inches of snow had fallen. Actually, maybe I didn’t want to rant about that. We don’t have a Wrangler any more but all of our Hondas can do four inches of snow, even the one with the “performance tires”, whatever the heck that means. And more often than not, when we get that much snow, it melts over the next couple of days. But not always. But I can’t rant about it.

I reeeeeaaaallllly want to rant about how I am *still* coughing even though I am bombing around at full-tilt boogie. I HATE HATE HATE HATE colds that don’t knock you out but the blasted congestion and related cough lasts forever (less than a week, actually). I especially hate it this year when people are still freaked out about the swine flu. I DO NOT have the swine flu. I have said that out loud in various stores a few times in the last week because I saw other folks looking at me when I hacked and coughed. Like in the Plum Market today. Yiiy! Hey, you guys, I WALKED over here. Did you? I cannot stay home just because my uber-fantastic immune system is still chucking my current cold virus. You guys. I do not have the swine flu! I have a cold. I am pretty dern sure I am not contagious any more. How do I know? I don’t, really. But usually people are the most contagious *before* the symptoms happen. How do you think viruses survive, fer kee-reist? The swine flu is well over its peak here on The Planet. When is the last time you’ve even heard about the blasted swine flu? So get over it already. I can’t stay home when I am otherwise healthy just because I am still coughing up the mucous that my healthy body and immune system summoned up as a part of its response to this cold virus. So get a blasted life!

So, I guess I finally found my rant. Rant yer own rant! We’re having an eclectic a random bunch of dishes for dinner tonight. Back to work tomorrow after five days. Hi Ho!

Mom(my blogger)

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

I was never exactly the “typical” “mommyblogger” that you will see on the internet. I started blahgging six years ago, when both my kids were still teenagers, although one was in college. I was pretty careful what I said about them then and I am much more careful now. But…

It’s 2009 and our beloved 25-year-old (Lizard Breath) is home for Christmas the Holiday of Wretched Excess. She has five days at home. In the beginning, those five days felt like forever. We both said, “we’ll do this and that and the other thing and climb Mt. Everest in our spare time.” Roight. Naw. We spent Christmas Eve shopping and visiting our 94-year-old aunt and shopping some more and some more and more and we went to a [wonderful] party in the evening. And then yesterday, we drove all over hell-and-gone to visit relatives, which was wonderful (and I am not kidding about that). Of course, it never works out like we want it to and we didn’t manage to get to Mt. Everest.

And so today I was sitting around wondering what we were gonna do today. As much as I love having my beloved adult children home for the holidays, I was starting to feel a bit grumpy. I wanted to do something with my California daughter. She and her sister had been out late with friends and I was waiting patiently for her to wake up. dum de dum de dum… Well, what the heck did I want to do? Neither one of us likes to shop very much. I was thinking about walking down by the river… And then, she got up and said, “I’ve got your cold.” Oh. Yeek. I switched into mom mode right away. It is not the worst cold and it is NOT the GODDAMN swine flu. But it is cold here and I nixed the river walk right away. I do not believe the old wives’ tale that cold air can make someone sick. I do think that it takes more energy to keep warm in cold weather and it’s best for someone who already has a cold to stay inside and conserve energy. Oh, baby girl, just chill out on the couch in front of the fire. She has a flight to catch in a couple days to visit friends on another planet near another beautiful rust-belt city before heading back to the left coast. I walked over to the Plum Market to buy tea for her. I tried to buy cup-a-soup but they didn’t have quite the right form-factor so I didn’t bother.

I love my daughter and I love when she comes home but It isn’t about me and it’s okay if we just hang out and do nothing. It is what it is. Life doesn’t always have to be terribly exciting. I wasn’t the best of mothers, I know that. I am glad that my kids have other places to go than our own little Landfill. And I am glad that they know they can relax and crash out here when they need to. I like to feel like a moom sometimes. But I think I am still learning how to be one after 25 years…

Note to Planet Ann Arbor officials: if you are going to install traffic circles, SALT THE HECK outta them at the first sight of a snowflake!!!

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

My day started out wonderfully well. After a looonnnnggg night’s sleep, I was up early and although I am still coughing and blowing you-don’t-wanna-know-what out of my nose, all that congestion is at least moving and that is *all* you wanna know, believe me. Our travels today did not start out quite so auspiciously. We slithered *past* the entrance to the freeway during a snow “shower”. Most of the other vee-hickles trying to deal with that particular interchange were doing the same thing and I think it is miraculous that we weren’t involved in an accident. Today, we visited family in the greater Daytwa area. The GB Fins up in Grand Blanc for lunch, and The Beautiful Becky and Jim and family in Sterling Heights. Our day was wonderful (and I even got my favorite red corkscrew back) but not without the strife of a nuclear family being together again after the kids grow up. I think everyone had their moments today. My moments were probably the worst. I kept thinking, “I have to make the enchiladas. I have to make the enchiladas.” Other than that, don’t ask. Especially about the lens cap incident. We’re home. We I found the lens cap. The snow “showers” stopped before the second leg of our journey. I’m making the enchiladas tomorrow.

I took this little video with my upgraded iPhone (that was supposed to be my only Christmas gift). It is something like 51 seconds and the last 10 are the best. It features The Commander’s four grandchildren. All girls. Two are mine and two are the Engineer’s, may he rest in peace get Grandroobly to watch the video from wherever they are. The granddaughters are only supporting actors though. The video STARS none other than *****ALFRED***** the dog!!! P.S. I hope you Beach Urchins are okay with the video. It’s pretty benign and no one much watches my little slices of life anyway. Which is probably a good thing.

What do we do on Christmas?

Friday, December 25th, 2009

The partial answer is that I get really, really, really, really bored about halfway through the afternoon. What I really need to do is get outside but if I am sort of semi under the weather (like I was today) and the weather is even too crappy for me (like it was today), it’s even hard for *me* to get outside. In this heathen/lapsed Catholic household, we celebrate Christmas in a cultural way. Sometimes we do have area family members over but a lot of times (this year) we just hang out. Presents? Yes. Too many. I’ve been trying to downsize that whole thing. And then a lot of hanging out until it’s time for dinner. And that is simple. Duck and mashed potatoes (rice would work too) and salad. And teensy tinesy little prepared desserts from the Plum Market.

When I was a kid up in Sault Ste. Siberia, there was a definite agenda. We got up on Christmas morning at our own little house on Superior Street and opened our presents. We got to play with them for just a while until the next thing on the agenda, which was to have breakfast at Grandma and Grandaddy’s house, oh I dunno, maybe eight blocks away or so, on John Street. It was close enough that my parents and grandaddy were always driving a big long ladder back and forth between our houses — somebody (The Commander) would drive and two others would hold the ladder outside the passenger-side windows. Anyway. We would have more presents at our grandparents’ house, from our grandparents and cousins, and when we were finished with that, there was a big breakfast in the dining room. After all that, we usually went home again for a while and that’s when boredom would hit and so we would be whining and crying and fighting and whatever else and our parents would probably be wishing we’d just go outside already. Eventually, it would be time to go to our aunt and uncle’s house for a big turkey dinner with just about every relative within 50 miles or whatever. Usually by the end of that affair, we would be ready for bed, at least I’m sure my parents wanted us to be. Of course, my most vivid memory of Christmas dinner is the year that I had just not been feeling right all day. My mom finally asked my doctor uncle to take a look at me. He took one look and said, “She has the MUMPS!” Yes, I did. I was six. They didn’t vaccinate for the mumps in those days (and maybe that was a good thing but that’s a whole ‘nother entry). Mumps! Merry Christmas to me!!!

I call myself a heathen but we did go to church when I was a kid. The Central United Methodist Church, that is. Christmas Eve was magical there with choir and organ music and pageantry and the last song (Silent Night) sung by candelight. Us kids always went home that night with our heads in the stars, opened one gift and headed to bed with sugarplums dancing in our heads.

This year? We did about the usual thing here at the Landfill. I tried really hard to downsize. Not sure I did the best job. Anyone want a remote control helicopter? Don’t ask why we have two…

What did y’all do? Are you downsizing? How successful were you at doing that? Er, I mean if you celebrate Christmas, that is.

And you too can take home these big great pants if you win the Bag Game

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

I have never understood the rules of the Bag Game. Somebody hands out playing cards and then the hostess draws cards from another deck and if you have a matching card, you have to take a bag from under the Christmas tree. If the hostess is running out of cards, sometimes she speeds things up a little bit and makes people take two bags. After all the bags are distributed, there is some crazy passing around and horse-trading that I never quite understand and eventually everybody goes home with some stuff that they didn’t bring to the party. The GG bagged a very cute birdy and I dunno what else.

There are folks who absolutely love this game but if I can manage it, I try to hide out in the kitchen while it’s going on because I have more than enough junk in my house to make my own bag game. Or two or three. I may not be the best Bag Game player but we’ve gone to this Christmas Eve party for most of the years since our kids were little and I always have a good time. And I did tonight except that a virtual wall of fatigue hit me about an hour into it. I am exhausted. I have some kind of cold virus. I do NOT have the swine flu. There’s no fever. Just some congestion. Hack and cough. Hack and cough. It’s a productive cough probably about 10% of the time and that is probably too much information.

I was hanging out in the party kitchen and suddenly for some odd reason, I realized that I had left my phone somewhere out by the front door. I wasn’t worried about losing it. It was in my purse and nobody at this party would walk off with my purse or my phone or anything else. Still, I wanted to find it. I walked out to the front entrance and was fumbling around by the closet looking for my purse. There was a knock at the front door. It wasn’t my house but it was a party so I opened the door and there was a friend I used to walk with almost every day, back in another life. I could walk into her house without knocking. Our kids grew up and we didn’t exactly grow apart but she got divorced and moved over to the other side of town and she went into the real estate business and I went back to school and we don’t see each other or the party hostess much any more.

This is long and rambly and I am exhausted (how many times have I said that) and I am sick of coughing and I think I could sleep for about 12 hours. Good night. Merry Christmas if that’s your holiday. If not, I hope you have a relaxing December 25th.

A beloved visitor from California arrives in the Great Lakes State

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

And so another Christmas holiday begins with the arrival of the Beach Urchin from San Francisco. The one who was mistaken for a 15-year-old on her second plane today (San Fran to Phoenix, Phoenix to Daytwa). Nope. Sorry. She is really 25. She was reading Oscar Wilde and her seatmate had been a bit non-plussed that a high school freshman would be reading Oscar Wilde. The seatmate told her that he had been wondering if her mother knew where she was. And actually, her baggy old mother *did* know where she was, because my beautiful 1525-year-old had emailed her itinerary to me and also texted me before boarding. That age-confusion kind of stuff used to happen to me about a gazillion years ago. Not so much any more, although I do *not* seem to get mistaken for a senior citizen very often and that is a good thing. I don’t care about them thar stoopid discounts. I know that’s a rather cavalier attitude but let a baggy old kayak woman have her own fun, okay?

So, the Landfill Fin-Courtois fam is all together for Christmas here on the Planet Ann Arbor and chicken pot pie is in the oven and the next winter storm type weather isn’t scheduled to arrive until tomorrow. And wouldn’t you know that the GG, Mouse and I, all three of us, woke up in the night with congestion, et al, so we are officially on the “sick” call, although I am at about 98% of myself and it isn’t anything at all like the Christmas Crud I got last year, which involved an intimate relationship with the Blue and Only Toilet. Grodko Grodko Grokdo.

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

Round Island Morning Solstice

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I can’t take credit for either the photo or the title today. Both were sent to me by our northern correspondent Paulette, from her end of the beach known in my blahg as Fin Family Moominbeach.

I love this photo. It makes me a little homesick. Even though, in the grand scheme of things, I also love my adopted hometown, aka The Planet Ann Arbor. It can be beautiful down here in the winter sometimes. More often it is just kind of bitter cold and gray. And that’s kind of okay if you have to commute to work because usually it means dry pavement and if you go to work in the dark and arrive home in the dark, you aren’t missing much.

Our beach, the one that I share with Paulette and lots of others, is beautiful in every season. Even on the days that it isn’t. It is different every single day of every year. At this time of my life, I can’t easily get up there for Christmas. I remember when I still did travel to the Yoop for Christmas. I remember a Christmas Eve once when I hadn’t met the GG yet. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration at Radical Betty and Duke’s then new chalet on the lake. I remember sitting on the snowshoe chair next to the fire eating chocolates and sipping brandy and looking out at the trees behind Radical Betty’s house on the shores of the moominbeach. Nowadays, my kids still come home to the Planet for the holidays and I work and long ago I decided it was probably better to schedule paid vacation time in the summer than break my neck traveling to the Yoop for Christmas. It’s okay. I’m used to it. And I have a particularly interesting project going on at work right now. But this photo did make me feel just a wee bit homesick. I miss you, Paulette. And Radical Betty and Cam and all of those who went before them. I am not a religious person but all I have to say is, “sleep in heavenly peace.” Except that I’ll always believe that most of those folks are having a wild and wonderful time somewhere in (or out of) the universe.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Okay, where are we around here?

Sewing prodject (intentionally misspelled)? Done done done (dun dun dun). Yay! Fun, fun, fun. Except the part where the person who published the pattern (on the internet) apparently didn’t use a pattern tester before publishing the pattern. It’s all good. After about two of these secret items (I made five), I could just about make them in my sleep.

Landfill Chitchen? Total pit! I am currently wavering between a massive de-clutter/clean-up or just letting it all rot until we rip the whole mess out. In May? Really? Will I really be able to pick out flooring and cabinets and tile and yada yada by then? Hmmm?

Gifts? Mailing the last Courtois gift out tomorrow morning. To our own Grandmother Trucker, the GG’s youngest sibling. There were 10 Courtois kids and nine of them survive. I believe there was once a motorboat named The Happy Dozen Duzin (corrected in comments ;-)). Fortunately, we draw names these days.

Gifts? The kid version, this time. Why am I still obsessing over making Christmas exactly equal for my two grown children? I don’t know why but I always seem to try. Do they have an equal number of gifts? Have I spent an equal amount of money? Not this year in either case. And then there are the Christmas stockings. I’m trying to remember when The Commander stopped filling Christmas stockings for us. It was probably sometime when we were in our 20s. Maybe when The Engineer got married? Or maybe not until after I stopped going to Siberia for Christmas. When will I stop that tradition with my kids? Not this year, at least. My love for them is as equal as it gets. They are mine and yet they are not. And so it goes.

Work? I am envious of all you teachers who have time off at Christmas and in the summer. But I am not envious of your job. Honest to Pete, the world is much better off having me interact with computers in a cubicle than try to teach your children. It was not the most relaxing weekend in the world (don’t ask) and I was actually SLEEPY when I got to work this morning. Coffee? Coffee? It’s okay. I was steaming along by the end of the day.

Public Service Announcement

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

snowchildA couple weeks ago, My Coffee Buddy was regaling me with a long tale of kvetch about making lasagne. Now, MCB often kvetches about how much she hates to cook but I think she is actually probably good at it. She’s just in that baggy old more or less empty nest stage of life where there are rarely any more than a couple people to feed at home, so why bother. Plus MCB gallivants the world with her globe-trotting husband to the point where I get dizzy even thinking about where she is at any given time. Switzerland? Viet Nam? Home from Alaska for 24 hours and then England? The mind boggles. Yeah, I know, I’ve been trying to figure out why this person hangs around with a baggy old kayak woman like me too. Most of my travel involves flying Honda Express up and down the I75 SUV Speedway to the Great White North and back and I can’t even keep track of what’s in my refrigerator doing that. Traveling the world on a regular basis? I would give up, I think.

Anyway, when she said something about how long it takes to cook the noodles before putting the lasagne together, I was goggle-eyed. What? You cook the noodles beforehand? Why? I said, “You don’t have to cook the noodles beforehand.” It was MCB’s turn to be goggle-eyed.

Folks. Here’s the PSA. You DO NOT have to cook lasagne noodles before you put your lasagne together. It doesn’t even matter what kind of noodles you buy. You don’t have to buy those fresh noodle sheets (although those are sure good!). Leave those mass-marketed no-boil (or whatever) noodles right there on the shelf. You can put a lasagne together with dry noodles and, guess, what? They will bake nicely with all that sauce and cheese and filling and stuff and they’ll be soft when you serve it. I promise!

I was thinking that everybody knew about the uncooked lasagne noodles but I keep encountering this conversation with otherwise intelligent folks who know their way around a kitchen. Trust me and try it. Here’s my recipe (or whatever you want to call it) but you can certainly use your own.

And so, I made veggie lasagne yesterday for the annual Courtois family party. We slithered over to Sterling Heights and back. Intermittent black ice was the theme of the day. Black ice? Heck, this is Michigan and it is winter here and, well, ho-hum. This year, I was able to actually eat some of my own lasagne. Last year, I was recovering from a nasty gastrointestinal virus and I ate cheerios out of a ziplock bag that Mouse foisted upon me against my own protests.

Family xmas party, fun was had by all

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

We don’t ship to cities over 15 characters

Friday, December 18th, 2009

nestSo, today I tried to ship something to the small but beautiful city of Sault Ste. Marie. That’s 16 characters, folks. I started typing it into the city input box on the checkout form. Sault Ste. Mari. Um, it wouldn’t let me enter the “e” at the end of “Marie”. Okay, whatever. I entered the state and the zip code and hit “Submit your order” or whatever it said. BEEP BEEP BEEP ERROR ERROR ERROR. The error? The stupid form (apparently) checked to see if the city name matched the zip code. And of course it didn’t, because the FORM didn’t let me enter the full city name. So I couldn’t order the item. On that site. I did manage to find it on Amazon (it wasn’t a book, I’d’ve ordered that from Borders), which (of course) did NOT limit me to entering a 15-character city name. Fer kee-reist, I’m not sure whether the first web site has outsourced their developers or their designers to Zephron III.

Other than that, OF COURSE today was a better day. I was just kvetching yesterday. Sometimes I need to do that. Thanks for all of your support in and out of the comments. I do, in fact, have a very generous vacation policy at my company and I could take some time off in the next week. I am trying to save as much time as I can to carry over into next year. I am thinking I might need that time for things that are more important than Christmas shopping. It’s okay. We made some progress around here today. The tree is up (finally) and I got my sewing prodject (intentionally mispelled) mostly done and all of us managed to get some shopping done today. Mine was on-line. I have an absolute full-tilt boogie bah humbug day just about every Christmas season. I hope yesterday was it. Good night!

Bah humbug!!!

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

beachglassThere is usually one day during the Christmas season when I get on my hands and knees in front of my Jewish buddies and ask them if they will adopt me until about December 26th. I hope that this was that day and that I’ll get over this. Oh. My. God! I went to the grokkery store on the way to work. Don’t ask. I went to the grokkery store on the way home from work. Different grokkery store and again, don’t ask. I do not have gifts for everyone yet. I have a sewing prodject (intentionally misspelled). Why did I start a blasted sewing prodject at this time of year? I do not know. Shoot me now!!! But I digress, as Jay often says. I do not have gifts for everyone. I do not have time to buy gifts for everyone. I work. I can only shop at night or on the weekends. This arrangement does not work out for me. I am a *morning* person. I do not like to shop at night. I also do not like to shop on weekends. That’s when all the other working stiffs are out panicking because they haven’t finished their Christmas shopping yet. I hate crowds. I hate lines. I hate all of it. And then there’s the Landfill. When was the last time I vacuumed? I know that I declared one weekend at the end of October as a clean-up weekend and I wore my fingers to the bone deep cleaning. When was that? I hate vacuuming. I especially hate vacuuming after I come home from eight or more hours of work and it’s dark and I have to turn on lights to do it. And then there’s all the blasted clutter. We all have clutter here.

What pushed me over the edge today was that, when I went to shut my work computer down, it told me that there were 19 updates to install (19?) and that I couldn’t power it down or anything until those updates were done. This is the first time I have *ever* received a message like this upon shutdown. Fer kee-reist. It didn’t take all *that* long, although update 7 took until I went to the bathroom and back and then the kitchen to clean out my coffee cup and I was wondering if it would ever end. Sigh.

I don’t know when I’ll get my shopping done. Most of this weekend is spoken for and then there is work next week. I am not ready. I don’t know where that piece of purple beach glass is these days but it once gave me some luck. I hope to have some peace during the winter holidays. I do not want to be stressed out. I wish I had a couple of days off to clean up the Landfill. My wish is for a clean, uncluttered house and for a downsized Christmas where my small family is together.

I am babbling. Good night.

Where can I get a big blow-up menorah?

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

oldcabinYou know, probably 80% of success in life is showing up. Alas, I didn’t make that up. I’m more or less quoting somebody but I can’t remember who. Maybe it’s an amalgam of a bunch of statements from a bunch of people. The thing is, I didn’t really figure this out until I was maybe about 50. I didn’t figure it out until after I had watched person after person after person commit to employment or volunteer work or even college classes (which they are PAYING for (usually)) and then basically just not show up when they said they would. “My car broke down.” “My grandma died.” “My back hurts.” “My guinea pig is dying.” “My printer didn’t work.” Whatever.

I could kvetch and kvetch about volunteer help all those years I did nursery school and PTO and youth theatre guild work. But the truth is that when you don’t pay people to do something, they don’t show up. Why should they? Or they show up and they don’t do what you want them to do and you don’t have time to train them. Or they show up once, effervescing with enthusiasm and then never show up again. But they are *volunteers*! They don’t get paid! Work is a different thing, in theory anyway. You go to work and you do your job and you are there when people need you and you collect a paycheck every couple of weeks or so. A friend from my elementary school mafia days went to work back then for the JC Penney store in The Mall. I’m not sure if she’s still there but she was there the last time I talked to her. Others? Heck. They would hire people who would NOT SHOW UP TO WORK! Did they get better jobs? I don’t know. If they did, why did they not inform the store that they wouldn’t be working after all.

In one of my earlier careers, we hired keypunchers. Yes, they punched cards. Believe it or not, keypunching required skilled personnel. We never hired a keypuncher who couldn’t do the job. We did hire a couple of keypunchers along the way that would use just about any excuse in the book to not show up for work. In the worst case, one of them worked for us for eight months and took probably about three months out of that off. The day my boss told me he was going to fire her, I had parked my vee-hickle next to hers and I went out and moved mine! And this was after we went to her wedding at some crappy apartment where, during the reception, a drunk guy who was playing frisbee in the parking lot shot vomit out of his NOSE and then just kept on playing. I can’t believe I just wrote that either.

I will never be the CEO of anything unless you count the Landfill. I do not care. I like my job. I show up! I show up on time, if I possibly can, although I don’t punch a time clock these days and people trust me to put in my hours. I’m not going to go on and on about my job.

Show up. Do your homework. Read the directions. That is all. Er, except, do they make big blow-up menorahs?

Kayak Woman

Rant. Not safe for work. Or children. Or not.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

kayakwoman1960Sexting. Y’all know what that is, right? Just in case there is anyone who doesn’t, it is the act of sending a revealing photo of yourself to someone else via a text message. Don’t worry, I will never sext you. I am too old and saggy and about the one thing that my otherwise wonderful iPhone won’t let me do is send pictures via a text message.

Sexting is something that some teenage girls do. They send a sext to their boyfriend and then a couple days later, the happy couple has a fight and the boyfriend gets back at the girl by forwarding the sext to everybody in his phone’s contact list. And all of those wonderful honor-student-good-citizen-award-winning folks tease the girl unmercifully. You know, all of our good kids who are going to Harvard someday. And then parents and school officials get involved. And maybe they should get involved in some way but you don’t get to pick your parents and you don’t often get to pick your school officials and what the heck is a blasted “official” anyway? And things blow up and the upshot is that the boy ends up being on the sexual offender registry for life (?) and the girl turns into a pariah and ends up committing suicide (extrapolating here, but apparently some girls have done that).

Okay. What is wrong with this blasted picture. So many girls *still* lack any kind of self-confidence when they hit their teens. Everybody is after them to perform in one way or another. Be a good girl, don’t go out with boys until you are 16 (say what?). No, you can’t a have navel piercing (not to mention the de rigueur three ear piercings). Get good grades so you can apply to all the top colleges and get admitted with a free-ride scholarship. Yeek! These girls are remembering just a couple years ago, when they were riding their bikes all over the neighborhood pretending they were riding beautiful horses through the Great Plains with the Shoshones or whoever. And looking ahead to living the American Dream with that 13-year-old with the Beatle haircut. Confused? Sigh.

Should our children be sending porno-type pictures of themselves around the internet? No, no, no, no… Should our CHILDREN be penalized for the rest of their lives for sending porno-type pictures of themselves around internet? No, no, no, no…

That photo is of me when I was six and I was walking on Fin Family Moominbeach. I owned the world at that age. As a young teenager, not so much. My self confidence was low in those years. I wonder if I would have sexted if the technology had existed then. I’d like to think not but who knows? I am glad that the only thing I could do in those days was dance in front of my own bedroom mirror and wait for my so-called boyfriend or, really, anyone to call me.

Don’t get me wrong. My life is good and my teenage years may have been hard and angsty but I was largely okay (and yes, I did have friends!) and then I ended up with female children and *they* don’t seem to seem to have some of these issues. I can only partially credit myself. Family and friends and our youth theatre guild helped me so much with this stuff.

I do not think that this sexting thing should be taken quite so seriously. I think that many of these children (and that is what they are) are experimenting. Of COURSE it is not a good thing to sext oneself to your boyfriend and of COURSE it is bad for the boyfriend to forward the sext. Is any of that a criminal act? NOOOOOOO! Most of these kids will grow up. They’ll go to college and beyond and they will eventually regret whatever they did when they were young. If we give them half a chance.

Things that go bump in the night morning outside the shower…

Monday, December 14th, 2009

upboundMy phone rang vibrated at work this morning. It was Mouse and I jumped. I really do not like phones. I liked phones when I was a little kid and could call my grandma or my friend Laurie or my friend Helen or sometimes my dad at the bank. “Is Jack Finlayson there?” All the nice ladies would get my dad right away. They liked me (I think?). I don’t know why because I was pretty much a brat. Later on, it became a game of waiting for the dern phone to ring. Where is my boyfriend? He said he would call, roight? And still later, phones were often a bearer of bad news. Once, a few years ago, I answered a call from my mom by asking, “Who died?” Who indeed? I forget who now. And I don’t *ever* ask that any more because *so* many of The Commander’s friends have died, not to mention my dad, brother, and a bunch of my uncles and aunts. Those people were supposed to live forever! What the heck happened?

Well. Even though email (et al) is my favorite way of talking to people, of course I also use my phone. There are certainly times when a phone is useful but I do not understand those folks who are constantly on the phone. In their vee-hickles, or wherever. I can’t do that. I suppose that I live under a rock though.

So, my phone rang at work this morning. It was Mouse wondering what the heck the loud noises in the Blue and Only Bathroom were that woke her up this morning. She thought I was slamming cabinet doors and stuff. Her room is adjacent to the Blue and Only Bathroom. I can understand. Well, not. It took me a minute to remember that, after I got into the shower today, there was a sort of a crash. Something fell on the floor. It wasn’t in the shower and it wasn’t me. I peered out. There was an odd looking thing on the floor. I didn’t know what it was but things seemed stable, so I continued with my shower. What was it? It was some sort of shaving device that fell out of the medicine cabinet all on its own. I picked it up and put it back in the cabinet and got dressed and went for my walk and headed off to work.

I don’t know what else to say. Stuff happens. I’ve lost my train of thought but my shillelagh is at the ready. Onward and upward, like the Algolake there in the pic.

Okay, you guys asked for this. Ignore the shambling mounds behind me please. Boy, do I need a haircut!

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

kwskijacketWhat you got yesterday is what you get when I write my blahg at 10 PM or whatever the heck time it was. I am a morning person. And no, we hadn’t just finished eating dinner but we were still hanging around the dining table with the whine and the cookies. Dinner was a little late though. (What else is new, roight?) Honest to Pete, I had actually gotten the chicken into the oven early, for me. Alas, The Commander’s oven didn’t seem to be operating at full power. It always seems like it’s something, doesn’t it? This was just chicken thighs and I turned up the oven and they eventually cooked and what the heck, I could’ve cooked them on the stove-top for that matter.

I’m really not all that crazy about traveling up to the Yoop at this time of the year but once I get there I love slodging along through the cold and the dark and the snow. I walk along the escarpment in the darkness before dawn. Above the lights of the twin cities and the huge flame at the steel mill across the river burning brightly, surrounded by huge clouds of steam. I walk along the waterfront, noting whatever freighter (or not) is locking up (or down). Is it a salty? What port is it from? They’ll keep locking through, in and out of Lake Superior, for another month or so and then they’ll hang it up until sometime in March. Sounds? Almost other-worldly. Beeep beeep beep. Buzz buzz buzz. Gates are opening and closing at the locks and folks are backing up big cranes and things. THUNK! Clank clank clank. Something over at the steel plant. Whoooooooshhhh. Not sure what that was but finally figured it was something to do with the steel plant. Freighters horning to signal their departure from the locks. Trains whistling and clunking and clanking around. And suddenly, as I walked down into Brady Park, an order shouted over a loudspeaker. I stopped in my tracks, trying to hear the words. A Coast Guard cutter or maybe even an ice-breaker parked there by the Paul Bunyan, its lights blazing, mobilizing for duty. Were they talking to me? Well, of course I knew they weren’t.

I really needed a few more days up there this time to hang out with The Commander and the Grinchie and Green Guy. To do a little more Christmas shopping. To go out to Fin Family Moominbeach. I’m sorry all you folks who live out there. I just did not make it out there. Sigh. To walk. To walk all over town. Through my old neighborhood. Up Cotie’s Hill (I do not know how to spell Cotie’s) where you can’t sled any more. Down by the waterfront. Out by the airport. I mean the one my dad flew little Cessna airplanes out of all the time. An evening flight around town, anyone? Yes, let’s go. Well take Grandaddy or maybe a friend with us.

We are home on the Planet Ann Arbor. The driving was beautiful today. I have so much to do between now and xmas that I have been making proclamations left and right since we got home. We are eating leftovers this week! I have gifts for these people but I don’t have gifts for these people! Don’t put my skirt in the dryer!

And that is my loverly new ski jacket there in the pic with a few shambling mounds behind it. The “master” bedroom has been a hazardous waste zone since late summer. I am sorry. You were maybe expecting more outta that jacket? Well. You haven’t seen the zip-out lining or the velcro attachable hood or the secret pocket and wire-securing loop for my iPhone. Except that I don’t listen to music or news or whatever when I’m walking. I listen to the ambient sounds of my neighborhood. Whichever neighborhood I happen to be in at the time.

Don’t wait for spring…

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

albertahouseI wanted to write a big long diatribe about buying locally (I mean xmas presents in this case, not food). I am just about done for tonight. I was babbling on facebook earlier about boosting the eastern Upper Peninsula’s economy today. I have spent some money up here this weekend and I’ll probably spend a little more tomorrow. I’ll be back down on the Planet Ann Arbor tomorrow and hopefully I’ll help with that economy too. I am tired. The firmly whacks together. If you are in the grokkery store, watch out for octo-women who use their canes to point at things in the produce aisles. And I do not know what else. Except do buy locally if you can. And support the arts. And Walmart is not all bad. After all, that’s where Froggy found his beeyootiful green Mardi Gras beads with the big kiss-me lips. Where the heck else could you find stuff like that? I do not need any new things for Christmas. I have too much already. My kids also have a lot of stuff. Needful things only, please Mooma. The Commander? She does not need anything at all. She probably has 15 frying pans. When you live long enough, that’s the kind of thing you end up with. A large colander? Not so much. Where the heck is that thing, anyway. Sigh. We’ll see what Santa drops off tomorrow.

I am tired. Yes I am. We had a great dinner with The Grinch and all of us. And just a bit of whine and a whole lot of cookies. I can’t write anything more for now. Good night. I wish I had a couple more days here. I hope we do not have black ice and whiteout stuff tomorrow. Love y’all, KW.