Archive for February, 2010

It was a slodgy Sunday

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Anyone new to this random little blahg might wonder who The Commander and Grandroobly are (they are my parents) or what the Landfill is (my house). When you have a blahg, it is hard sometimes to decide where to draw the line on privacy. Although I think I am probably pretty easy to find via my blahg, over the years, I’ve grown more careful about identifying other people by their real names. I will occasionally do it, like when my children graduated from college. But I do refer to most places and people by nicknames here. Reader Dona suggested I post a glossary. Maybe not a bad idea and it was just about the slodgiest Sunday on earth, so here’s a start:

The Commander: My long-suffering octogenarian mother (or is it me who’s long-suffering?). Champion grammar corrector. If you feel the urge to say something like “I ain’t got none” make sure that you get yourself over to the schoolyard or some other place where you are out of earshot.

The Engineer: My (late) brother, long-suffering at the hands of a terrifying older sister. Automotive engineer, jazz trombonist, snow-mo and powerboat driver before turning toward more silent sports in later years. Dog-lover and uber-collector.

Fin Family Moominbeach: My family’s beach on Lake Superior since Grandberry bought it (with a couple of friends) back in the 1920s. Actually, it is *technically* on the Upper St. Mary’s River, looking up through the river’s mouth into Whitefish Bay. I spent all of my summers there with all of my cousins and other friends. It was the proverbial village that our school districts are now trying to shove down our throats. Wish I had more time to spend there.

Froggy: Hmmm, I really have no words for this ridiculous little amphibian who occasionally hi-jacks my computer so he can use GarageBand to record ribald little ditties and post them on my blahg when I’m not looking. Grok grok! Ridiculous? Ribald little ditties? Don’ lissin t’ that stoopid Ol’ Baggy. grok Ggokr frdok grodko! Uh, well, there he is. If you see green, it is not me, it is Froggy.

The GG: Long suffering significant other (husband and father of children). GG = Grumpy Growler, although I am usually more grumpy. Twinz of Terror, which you’ll occasionally see, refers to the GG and his identical twin brother.

Grandberry: My grandfather, who is long dead but makes occasional appearances here, not to be confused with Grandroobly, his son.

Grandroobly: My (late) father, WWII pilot rather reluctantly turned banker. Runner, walker, skier, sailor, paddler, driver, ice-clinking beach-sitting Great Lakes freighter-watcher. Grandroobly? We were at a funeral dinner and he spilled water or something and suddenly his granddaughters were calling him Grandroobly. He accepted that. What can I say?

Green Guy Cafe: Radical Betty’s front porch overlooking Lake Superior. Wifi and occasionally coffee.

Landfill: My house and main residence on the west side of the Planet Ann Arbor. We bought this house 25 going on 26 years ago a few months before Lizard Breath was born. It is a trash pit. Please don’t anybody even entertain the idea that I might need any more stuff. I don’t. (-;

Lizard Breath: Older 20-something beach urchin living in San Francisco. With part of my heart in a jar under the bathroom sink next to the cleaning supplies. Or somewhere.

Mouse: Younger 20-something beach urchin living, uh, here at the Landfill. One of the most talented people I have ever encountered (not my doing) and looking for interesting, meaningful work. Sorry Mouse, had to put a plug in. Occasionally updates Mouse Nest.

Ol’ Baggy:Th’ ol’ bag hoo calls herself Kayak Woman. Do not be fooled, sheez just an ol’ bag. Grok grok gork.

Planet Ann Arbor: Mid-sized mid-western college town, home to the University of Michigan. Visited cousins here as a kid and always wanted to live here. And do. And love it. But hardly ever go downtown these days. Go figger.

Radical Betty: “Favorite” (late) aunt, sister to Grandroobly. Hiker, bush-whack skier, paddler. Absolutely fearless Amazon woman willing to try just about anything.

Yoop (or Da Yoop): Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I grew up there, my moom (see “The Commander”) lives there, and we have land there (see “Fin Family Moominbeach”). I don’t remember being called a “yooper” when I was a kid and my moom HATES that term. I think it’s pretty funny.

Spam of the day (warning: not safe for work or children)

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

This email was from Esperanza Dawkins. Oh, such a good friend of mine. Rumor has it that when a truck carrying a load of Vlbiaefpgbora slid off into the Ohio River, all the lift bridges suddenly went up. Yes, I usually just delete these things but come on (no pun intended). *bridges*. Kee-reist. Delete delete delete. I do not think that there are whole boatloads of Vlbiaefpgbora. But who knows.

That is Piggie in the picture. I didn’t want to have a guinea pig around here. Actually, I didn’t really allow pets around here in general. I love aminals but I do not like to take care of them. Feed them and brush them and vacuum up their fur, etc. It’s a long story but I always thought that guinea pigs were boring aminals with no particular personality. So I resisted and I resisted and I resisted. And then one night I came home from YAG or wherever and there was the cutest little aminal on earth and he ended up being a member of our family for over four years. He had a very active, social personality.

And he was smart. Every morning, the GG would get up and get his cereal. Piggie would wait until the GG was done doing that and then, when the GG put his cereal bowl in the sink, Piggie would start squeaking like crazy. “Reep reep reep!” Get me some lettuce! I remember once when I walked into the Landfill after a week or so in the Yoop with the Commander and Grandroobly. I walked in the door. I talked to the GG and Lizard Breath and Mouse. Guinea pig was silent. Then. I said, “Hi Piggie!!” Reep reep reep! He ran up and down inside his cage. He knew who I was. He knew all of us. He died when his owner was a college sophomore.

I’m not going anywhere with this exactly. Guinea pigs are great pets and I am gonna crash soon. G’night. -Kayak Woman

P. S. No, I do not want another guinea pig or any other pet for that matter. I like pets best when I can return them to their owners.

Things that are in my living room #2

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Ooooch. This was not a fun day. It was not anything that happened at work. Work was fun as I inched my way through the beginning stages of a new project. It wasn’t the snowstorm. How many of those have we had this week? Five or six. Once again. Snow-hum. Traction control in deep-ish snow in the Dogha is almost as fun as plowing through deep snow in the old boats the kids of my generation learned to drive in and shoveling is great exercise, yada yada, yada.

Most mornings, a walk is enough for me to chase away whatever blues or nightmares I might have. Saying hello to a walking acquaintenance or two or three. Having a friendly (?) standoff with a raccoon outside a storm sewer drain. A fox trotting along right up Revena big as life. Birds landing in the street in front of me. I tiny owl watching me from a tree. Train whistles in the distance. Dodging the Newspaper Jeep. Sirens. On icy mornings those always give me a chill. By the time I get home from my 0-dark-30 neighborhood prowl, whatever demons my poor over-active brain managed to collect during the night are gone and sometimes I’ve also managed to do some problem-solving.

This morning? Yikes. I ended my walk in anger! At what? You don’t want to know. Nothing earth-shaking or life-threatening, that is for sure. It was just that my brain was at work on probably four or five problems at once and I couldn’t see my way through the fog to focus on even one of them. Where do I put my foot? What do I do next with this? Or that? Where am I? How do I? Too many things on my mind…

I wish I could report some great break-through in my mood today but it didn’t change from black to rainbow colors, although I can see those colors again in the back of my mind. A little research into one of the things that was bothering me, a little more shoveling, a couple walks through snow, and rhumba-ing with my Roomba and I’m feeling a bit better. Don’t get me wrong, I am not depressed and I do not even suffer from Seasonal Affection Disorder. Today there was a logjam in my brain and it took me a while before I could grab onto the right thread to pull me outta that.

And I STILL do not have any damn driveway salt!

Things that are not in my living room #1

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

At least not yet. Last week, while the GG was in Florida, we had all of this gorgeous, warm (sort of), sunshiney non-Michigan-type weather. This week? Snow and more snow. Ice drives to work. Shoveling. Crap, I am the only person here at the Landfill at the moment and somebody just clinked ice-cubes. You guys… Go drive the Ryerson somewhere or something.

It’s a little late in the winter for me to do my usual speech about sidewalk snow removal, which is that whatever you do to clean your sidewalk, you also have to salt it. If you do not, ice will form underneath whatever snow falls on top of your carefully cleaned sidewalk and unsuspecting walkers will fall on their you-know-whats. They might crack their skull or break their backs or pulverize their pelvis.

Here on The Planet Ann Arbor, we are mandated to clear whatever sidewalks are in front of our house. I have been slodging along all week shoveling snow and I love to do that up to a point. Except for the vee-hickle shuffling so that all three (yes) vee-hickles are in the driveway before the plow comes along. And then. We ran out of driveway salt earlier in the week. Last night, I asked the GG to get more salt. He did. Sort of. Except that a horrendous mis-communication between him and some clerk at Stadium Hardware led him to bring home water softener salt. Not the right thing. Driveway salt consists of relatively small grains and when you sprinkle it around, it melts relatively large areas. This water softener salt consists of HUGE grains and each grain only melts the immediate area around the grain of salt. It’s okay. It’s the end of February. It’ll snow some more. When we get into about the middle of March, I usually don’t even bother to shovel any more. It usually melts the next day. To heck with the dern mandate.

Good night and keep shoveling if you can. It’s pretty darn good exercise,
KW

Things that are in my living room #1

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Actually, I am pretty much avoiding my living room these days. Not because of the tepee and, no, we do not have any small children here. That is a froog backpack and an Orange Baby in there and this is the Landfill and sometimes all I can say is that it is what it is and I have very little control over much of anything around here, except for the snow shoveling and the garbage and the compost bin. I only have control over those because nobody else seems to notice that those kinds of tasks need doing on a sort of semi-regular basis. Well, snow is a relative outlier, so shoveling isn’t often an issue. Anyway. I don’t even have much control over the laundry or the refrigerator, try as I might. Actually, scratch that about the laundry. I’m happy to not have control over that. The beach urchins started doing their own laundry when they were about 12 and 10 (respectively). I think they decided I wasn’t doing a good enough job. And that’s okay with me. When they got to college, they were self-sufficient about laundry. So I did right by doing wrong, hee hee hee. One of those fine unintended parenting moments, fer sher.

Y’all might guess that a froog backpack is a stuffed frog in the form of a backpack. This froog has been hanging out upstairs because a few years ago, the resident amphibian known as Froggy (the one who occasionally takes over this blahg to post something a little, well, off…) mailed himself to California. Yes. I was rather relieved but the GG was looking high and low for him. He found Backpack Frog down in the Landfill Dungeon with all of the other aminals that were thrown down there during an anti-climactic tornado warning umpteen million years ago. Backpack Frog is a good, serviceable aminal but he will never have a personality like Froggy’s. And that’s probably a good thing. He does take good care of Orange Baby.

Orange Baby? I’ll save her [their] tale[s] for another day.

Well, what about white?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Well, what about it? I cannot describe most of today and I won’t even begin to try. The GG confronted me after work today about our, ahem, kitchen renovation. The one that we need to get going on soon. Knock out a wall. Refrigerator in the front living room. That kind of stuff.

Against all odds, I am thinking about white cabinets. I’ve been thinking about them for a while. My kitchen will not look like the beautiful one in the photo that I scanned out of a magazine. It isn’t configured in the same way and, although we have a woods behind our house, the kitchen doesn’t look out onto it. It looks out onto the back yard that for many years belonged to the Burkes. The backyard with Burke’s Erection, a rather elaborate deck and gazebo construction. Where the Burkes had cocktails on many afternoons. Those afternoons that they weren’t gallivanting around the country or world. The Alma Highland Festival. Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Russia. Wherever. The GG and Burke had faarrrworks waarrrs in the old days and more than once, we witnessed Burke in all of his newborn glory out on his deck in the middle of the night.

The Burkes are dead and we have new neighbors now. They are fine and I am not proud of myself. I introduced myself when they first moved in but I have not been as friendly as I could be. Sigh. I live under a rock. My particular rock is “I work outside the home. dah dah dah.” Well, I do work outside the home as y’all are tired of hearing about. But. Not a good excuse.

Anyway. Kitchen… I am now thinking… White cabinets. Wood floor (the GG is grumpy about this). Granite countertops. Motawi Tile backsplash. Glorious vibrant color wherever I can fit it into the details…

Updated to say thanks for all the comments. I was trying to love cabinets in a natural wood color but since I want a wood floor also (yes, I know water can damage it), I thought I would get lost in all that brown. Not my favorite color in life. Keeping white clean. The jury (both on and off-line) is split on that. (-: No wood stove here at least. I can see how that could create an ongoing cleaning issue.

I am a Yooper and I rock!

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Well. That is. I rock cars. Back and forth. Forward. Reverse. Lather, rinse, repeat. When they are stuck in 8-10 inches of heavy wet snow.

We’ve had another snow-hum here in the southeast part of the Great Lake State. I don’t know what the weather gods have to say but the business end of my shovel at 0-dark-30 this morning told me that we had around 8 inches and it continued to snow until about two o’clock or so. The snow was a little wet this morning but still fluffy enough that our little Ninja car (Honda Civic SI) could manage it and it was actually *fun* to shovel. Yes, I am a little crazy. I love shoveling in the dark of the early morning. I did the sidewalk and whatever I could do of the driveway and then I shoveled a path through the backyard to the compost bin. I had all three vee-hickles running with the front and back defroggers on and the GG brushed them off and we were good to go to work when it was time and I won’t describe that. The GG had a worse time than me but he had the Ninja and I had the Dogha (Dirty Old Green Honda Accord).

So, when I got home this afternoon, all the main roads had been plowed and they were wet, so no problem. The street in front of the Landfill? Well. Not plowed. Probably 10 inches by this time. Heavier and wetter snow with ice underneath it all. I drove up in front of the Landfill in the Dogha and I dithered and dathered about whether I should park it and pull Mouse’s little blue Civic out of the driveway and put the Dogha in. Car shuffling? Hmmm. I made some sort of wrong move and I was STUCK. Put the tranny in D and Rrrrrrrr. Put the tranny in R and Rrrrrrrrr. Okay. Flashers on. Out of the vee-hickle. Shovel out every bit of snow that I can. Put the shovel in the snowbank for future use. Put the tranny in R and Rrrrrrr-grab-just a little. Put the tranny in D and Rrrrrr-grab-a-bit and then (thank you god) the traction control system comes on and I am outta being stuck and able to drive into the Landfill driveway. I am a Yooper and I can rock cars. Sometimes anyway.

I wonder. We are buying these energy efficient vee-hickles. They are wonderful. The Dogha is actually pretty darn good in snow usually but it is a top dollar Honda with a V6 engine and therefore, not all that energy efficient. The Civics are very light-weight and don’t have the guzzinta to drive through heavy snow. If we are all driving tiny little vee-hickles, we are using less gasoline but if nobody plows our neighborhoods when a significant amount of snow falls, how are we supposed to get out and do whatever we need to do? I think this is an unintended consequence of the so-called green movement. I am definitely in favor of driving smaller vee-hickles but what are you going to do? Is it okay for folks with 4-wheel drive vee-hickles to be able to get out during a snowstorm but not folks with small energy-efficient vee-hickles. I know that when I first walked out there this morning, I wished that we still had The Indefatigable (our old jeep wrangler).

I don’t know. Some of us can telecommute. I could but I kind of like the challenge of getting to work in a snowstorm. What kind of vee-hickle do you have and does it get you to work and does your neighborhood get plowed and yada yada yada…

Doing the rhumba with the roomba

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

And in limbo for the last week or so. The GG has been in Florida with most of his living siblings saying goodbye to their wonderful older brother Don, who is gravely ill and isn’t expected to last much longer in this world. I haven’t been blahgging about this partly because it is not really my business and partly because I have not had much information (which is okay). My husband flew down to to Florida last Tuesday. He had his iPhone with him but not his laptop. We have had lots of short communications but it wasn’t until this morning while Mouse and I were having coffee and buying groceries at the Plum Market that he texted me his flight number back to DayTwa. Home.

The GG asked me if I would go to Florida with him. Sigh. I wanted to but I need to save my vacation time for going north and dealing with my own family. I worked all week and spent the weekend doing things with my Mouse. Lunch (and whine) at Seva. Buying a Roomba and testing it out. Coffee at the Plum Market and then an urban hike down by Barton Dam.

I don’t know how many hours Don has left on the earth. I am impressed with how my husband and all of his siblings have rallied to try to make their brother’s last hours be as comfortable as possible. Large Catholic families seem to be my lot in life and this family is one of the best of those. Love you all.

Th’ Ol’ Growler gits a kewl helly-copter ‘n’ I git this stoopid ol’ ride’em toy. Grok grok grodko.

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Th’ ol’ grumper is outta town ‘n’ Ol’ Baggy cud not git that ol’ tornado vakum cleen’r t’ power up, so she bot this beest. Grok Grok. She wuz all eksited ‘n’ she sed sump’n like “Oh, Froggy’ll do all th’ vackyumin’ now. This thing is skary ‘n’ I wuz upside down fer awhile. What if Ol’ Baggy makes me do all th’ blastid vackyumin’ now. Grok grok grok, grodko

Did you know that elephants are taller in the shoulders than the hips?

Friday, February 19th, 2010

I am taking just a little break from what has been a rather sucky winter around here. Yes, I can talk like a middle schooler. Actually, middle-school kids are probably way beyond “sucky” by now. But. This winter has brought one problem after another. Mostly small things but some of the sucky stuff that is kind of waiting in the wings is quite a bit heavier.

Today? Well. The sun was out. A bill I thought I had to pay was already paid. I had lunch with Mouse. Elephants were fitted with box feet. And there was something nice at work. For me. Not something earthshaking, mind you. I am not all that upwardly mobile at this point. I don’t think I would even want my boss’s job. But I got a nice little recognition of my work and skills today and I was greatly appreciative.

This post is for anyone who is switching careers in mid-life. I am thinking mostly of women although I know that men also encounter this situation. Go for it, is about all I have to say. Three years ago, I was a vagabond beach bum empty nester moom boomeranging back and forth between The Planet Ann Arbor and Da Yoop wondering what the heck I was gonna do with the rest of my life. I kind of wanted to be a free-lance web designer/developer but I knew that I didn’t truly have the personality that would be required to do that. I had gone back to school though. That got me an internship and my current long-suffering, cat-herding boss took a chance on me and hired me as a regular full-time employee. If I’d seen my job advertised anywhere, I wouldn’t have bothered to apply. I would’ve thought I didn’t have the skills. It is a job that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Who knew?

I’m not going any further with this. I’m just saying that, if a tired old kayak woman aka moom of grown children can find decent, interesting employment, so can y’all. Don’t give up!

Restless

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I was restless today. I was restless all day. I love winter. I love the darkness that surrounds the solstice and the cold and the snow. I don’t know why. I know others have trouble with this and I empathize with them but for me, the cold and the dark are energizing. To me, there is nothing like getting up at 0-dark-30 AM and walking out into the schoolyard and seeing the Dippers in the sky. Or even slodging along through a snowstorm. I can’t deny that when we go through weeks and weeks of single digit or below zero Fahrenheit temperatures, I get tired of pulling my snowpants and balaclava on and off but once I am outside, I am happy. We are coming up on late February. It is at this time of the year when we in the Great White North start seeing what I like to call Summer Skies. Bright blue with blinding sunlight. I usually see skies like this while cross-country skiing in the great northern woods. I have not been on skis all winter and I have only been in the north a couple of times this winter. Today I was restless. I went out and walked my lunchtime away. I got this photooo when I turned back south. The sun was so bright that I couldn’t even see the screen to see what I was photographing. The last time I took a photooo from more or less this vantage point, it looked like this, which I also think is beautiful.

Time is marching on and today I got my first glimpse of the summer to come. Summer 2010. Our first summer without Radical Betty, not to mention those who went before her. I will be walking the beach. Fin Family Moominbeach. Who wants to walk with me?

Restless.

P.S. Man oh man, this should not be a postscript but I have again forgotten to mention that it is DogMomster’s birthday! Even though I did wish it via Twitter. Head over to cliffsvic and wish her a happy birthday!

Bottle Sales, $42.89. Roight.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

I wish I could get ahead of the menu planning game again. When the Beach Urchins were small, I had it pretty well down. I shopped twice a week, Tuesday and Friday mornings. I made lists in Excel on our old MacPlus computer and printed them out on our old dot matrix printer and we were off. The pre-schooler would assemble a stack of six or eight books so she wouldn’t run out of reading material during the one-mile trip to the old Westgate Kroger. If it was 10 degrees with blowing snow, I could count on the toddler to pull her carefully tied-on hat completely off between the car and the store. Oh, sorry, Mrs. Old Biddy Busybody but I DID dress this child properly for the weather. She may be barely walking but she has her own mind. “I’m hot and I don’t need no stinkin’ hat!” If I ever harass a young mother struggling with her children, slap me please!!!

Somewhere along the line, my carefully crafted menu planning system fell apart. You guys have heard me kvetch about this before. Navigating the pickity tastes and preferences of kids of every age. Working weird and sometimes widely variable schedules. Becoming empty-nesters and then not. Boomeranging back and forth to a couple of different points in the Great White North, some of which are supplied with food and some not always. My grocery lists degenerated from Excel spreadsheets to randomly hand-written post-it notes that may or may not make it in the the car with me to get to the grocery store. Or just wandering drunkenly through the aisles wondering what the heck is at home and what I want to cook during the next week. These days. I am using an iPhone app to keep a grocery list. That actually works pretty well for me so far. I am way beyond being self-conscious enough to worry about whether other people at the grocery store are wondering why that baggy old kayak woman is looking at her phone as she pushes her cart around the store. At least I am not yapping at somebody on my phone. But it still doesn’t solve the whole problem of what to eat and when and where.

And then there is where and when to shop and I won’t go into all of that because my shopping habits defy easy description even to me. 0-dark-30 Saturday trips to the Jackson Road Meijer. Mad dashes to Whole Foods during my lunch hour. Walks to the Plum Market after work or whenever. Best Choice Market (and/or WollMort) when we’re at Houghton Lake. Glen’s or Supervalu or Four Seasons up in Siberia. I am trying to impose order on all of this. I know I would spend less money on groceries if I could organize myself better. But.

Today after a long day at work, I drove home and then walked over to the Plum Market. I love walking to the Plum Market. I bought about a half a bag of groceries (yes, I took re-usable bags over there). The cashier told me the total was $71.06. Ummm. There was a bit of salmon in there but the rest of it was fresh produce. The scary part about this is that I spend quite a lot of money on groceries all the time and I am not Donald Trump but I can afford to buy food and usually when somebody gives me a total that sounds a little higher than usual, I figure out (quickly) what I bought that was expensive. Today? Not. That amount seemed waaaayyy high for what I bought. I looked at the receipt. Bottle Sales, $42.89? What the heck? I am shy (sort of) but I challenged this. Turned out that the produce code for grapefruit was 4289. The cashier apparently typed in 4289 and then hit the wrong button and I was charged with Bottle Sales. Whatever the heck that is.

The cashier couldn’t figure it out but another person could, after digging thru my bag, which I didn’t totally appreciate, and I did (of course) get my money back. I had one grapefruit in there. I wonder if I paid for that grapefruit or not…

Siddown, Shaddup, and Read

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I think I first heard about SSR when Lizard Breath was in fourth grade. I was terrified of her teacher, an old battle-axe who once mistook me for a custodian and thrust some boxes at me. “Go burn these!” Yiiy. I was dressed more or less like a custodian. That was because I was copying the school newsletter, a stressful, thankless job that involved a persnickety copy machine I used to call the tyrannograph and ink. I can’t say for sure if whine was ever involved after those sessions or not. If it wasn’t, it should’ve been.

I have been the mooma duck around here for 25 years. I can’t say I’m the best moom on earth. I have made more than my share of mistakes. But there is one thing that I think I did right and that was that I read to my kids virtually whenever they asked and wherever we were. Although we made regular trips to the library, I am pretty sure that I am also single-handedly responsible for Border’s great success of the 1980s and 90s. Once, when Lizard Breath was in kindergarten, I read a parenting article in the Planet Ann Arbor Snooze that proclaimed that parents should read to their kindergartners one half hour a day. A half hour? A measly half hour? Sheesh. Read it again, mama. Read it again. By that time, we were most likely reading to our kids about two hours a day.

I started reading to my kids when they were infants. Of course we started out with little cardboard books but by the time LB was in kindergarten, we had worked through the likes of Charlotte’s Web (I have to give the GG credit for that one), The Wind in the Willows, and I forget what else but we were doing “chapter books”.

I didn’t quit reading to them even after they became independent readers. I would read to them at bedtime and breakfast time. I loved reading at breakfast time. Even the spirited child would calm down somewhat. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe series. The Little House on the Prairie series. The Anne of Green Gables series. I read The Indian in the Cupboard series on Fin Family Moominbeach. Several generations of folks listened to that. (Oh, man, how I miss those days.) We read many, many, many more books. So many I cannot remember them.

I wrote a bit about our young math prof nephew last week when he stayed here during a snowstorm. He is looking for poetry to read to his young daughter and has written a very eloquent blog entry about it. About the only poem I remember reading when I was a kid was Eletelephony, which is a wonderful poem but I think he is looking for more here. I am a pretty crusty old kayak woman and normally somebody would have to dump a truckload of molasses over my head for me to say the word “sweet” but Cap has written a really sweet post about reading to his daughter. Our great-niece. Yes we are old.

Did you like poetry as a young child? If so, do you have favorite books/authors? If so, go on over to Cap’s blog or comment here if you’d rather.

At the end of my blasted rope

Monday, February 15th, 2010

So. How long does a blasted laptop last anyway? I pretty much know the answer, for me anyway. Four years is pushing it to the edge. My current laptop? Eet ees a napple. MacBook. One with mailing tape holding it together, no less. I am rough on laptops. That is all.

2003. (I think.) I opened up a New Yorker magazine and there, ladies and gentlemen, was an ad for an absolutely gorgeous 12-inch G4 Mac Powerbook. I was in love. I loved our strawberry iMac. The one that the three of us who were still living here at the Landfill were sharing. But, man, I wanted that powerbook. And one day, I bought it, thanks in part to The Commander, who helped me pay for it. We could afford it I think but I was working for a non-profit stipend in those days and felt incredibly guilty about buying anything for myself, even if needed it. And I did need my own laptop. I didn’t ask my moom for that money. She handed it to me. Thank you again, Mrs. Commander. I used that laptop to death.

Anyway. I ordered the dern thing. It was supposed to arrive overnight. I wanted to open it up and be using it when the GG arrived home from work. Surprise the heck outta my husband? Yes! Sigh. There was a snowstorm in Ohio and it did not arrive as planned. The next day? The GG was home. I had a trip to kzoo planned that afternoon to take Mouse to visit her kzoo college freshman sister for the weekend.

So. How could I keep this new computer a secret from the GG? He was in the back room playing with the strawberry iMac. Fedex (or whoever) came and dropped off three boxes. Powerbook, printer, and I forget what else. I pulled all three boxes inside and told him thank you. The GG did not notice. I opened the box with the computer in it and stood in the kitchen rolling up about a mile of packing paper to recycle, talking to him the whole time. I set up my new laptop and turned it on. Finally, the GG came out to the living room to pick up our cute little guinea pig and I think he jumped about a mile upon seeing my new laptop.

Mouse drove us over to kzoo that afternoon while I played with iPhoto et al. (Can’t believe both she and her older sis are now graduates of that college…) I love these Mac laptops but I get frustrated with how fast they get filled up with crap. My fault? Yes, but.

Tonight. I was charged to help Mouse with a prodject (intentionally misspelled) on her aging laptop while she was at rehearsal. I will not even begin to describe the agony of trying to use PhotoShop Elements on it.

You guys? You highly paid computer folk? You have to either make your computers last longer by making them more adaptable to the space and juice needed by new software (and larger and larger photos). Or you have to make them cheaper, so we can all buy them more frequently.

Why can’t you buy hamburger buns in packs of two?

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Two days ago, Friday afternoon, I was walking up the cabin road. You can’t really tell in the photoooo but the road was nicely plowed and easily passable for my beloved dirty old green honda accord. I parked my Dogha up at Lewie’s anyway because I LIKE to walk the hill. Sometimes I even walk that road in the summer, just for fun, if the mo-skee-toes are not too fierce. None of those little pests were oot and aboot on Friday but there was another much larger aminal (intentionally misspelled) up the hill a way and I stopped in my tracks.

A deer in the road is not that rare a sight in the great white north or even around about the Planet Ann Arbor. In fact, there are so many deer in our state that deer/vee-hickle collisions are prevalent. A deer ran out in front of me on the freeway last summer and I am still not exactly sure how I missed it but it was a while before I stopped shaking. Mouse was driving behind me tandem style. I know she remembers. Still, since I was a little kid, deer encounters (non vee-hickular ones) have always been magical and so was Friday’s.

Whomp. We are back on the Planet Ann Abor. We drove five hours down from Sault Ste. Siberia today (no deer collisions, thank you very much). I didn’t plan on dinner at home tonight because a friend was having a chocolate/wine party. When it came right down to it and we finally got off the dern freeway, we just weren’t up to driving another half hour to go to a party (and then back). So, I threw together a lasagne from the frozen sauce that I took up north that we didn’t use. The Commander had a different idea about what food we would serve and that’s more than okay and it’s why I froze the sauce in the first place. But that’s where my question about hamburger buns came from. I use twelve noodles in every lasagne that I make. I bought a standard grokkery store brand box of noodles today and it had 20 noodles in it. Maybe other people use that many lasagne noodles? I use twelve. Why can I not buy just 12? Otherwise, I end up with something like three packages of lasagne noodles hanging around. Because I get to the store and can’t remember what I have at home, yada yada yada. I know, just shaddup, KW.

Happy Valentine’s Day y’all. I hope you don’t ever hit a deer with yer vee-hickle.

Octowoman plus fifty-something daughter = tired to about the tenth power

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Daughter, not mom… Happy Valentine’s Day Green Day. Grok grok grok.

Lunar Life

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Where am I? How do I? I am here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is beautiful here. It is almost a five hour drive from my home on the Planet Ann Arbor. On a good day. One without a whiteout or black ice or tornadoes. I grew up here. I am here in my parents’ house. It is not the house I grew up in. That one was down on Superior Street. Here in the city of Sault Ste. Siberia. Oh, blerg, I just had to move because the GG and The Commander are blathering away about Ayn Rand and I can’t hear myself think. Interesting writer but…

This afternoon, I walked the beach. At least I tried to. We hauled our skis and snowshoes up here with us but I did not take those out to the moominbeach with me. The snow was not so deep out there that I sunk up to my hips with every step but it wasn’t really the best for walking. I prowled around the cabins a bit. Everything looked fine for those who own cabins/houses on our beach. I spent quite a bit of time visiting our friend Barb. She is the mom of a couple of good childhood friends of mine and I have loved her since I was a little kid. Among other things, she was one of the many beach moms who could always be counted on to watch us kids swim in Gitchee Gumee at the drop of a hat, no matter what the weather was like. Ski jacket on the beach? In July? Sometimes. I grew up with the proverbial “village” that people are always talking about and I think I am still learning how much I love and appreciate that village.

I am tired and this may be a lame blahg entry but it does document where I was today and what I did and who I was with. Sometimes that’s all it’s about. It sounds like the Olympics are starting out in The Commander’s living room and I think I will go watch that with my mom and my husband. Love you all. KW.

“Skitching” and other Yooper adventures

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

When I was a kid in Da Yoop, one of the unofficial winter sports of the region was “skitching”. This involved grabbing on to the back bumper of a passing vee-hickle and riding along behind it on the ice that most of our streets were made of in the winter. If I remember correctly, it was mostly boys who engaged in this sport. I could run faster and jump higher than a lot of the boys in the neighborhood but somehow, “skitching” felt off-limits to me. I have been putting “skitching” in quotes because I don’t remember what we called that ill-advised sport when I was a kid. My memory banks are probably faulty but it was Nancy Nall who provided the word “skitching”. I’m adopting that word as of now. Scroll down on her blog to view the video of young men surfing through the snow behind a car at something like 1:30 AM in the beautiful city of Detroit after a relatively large snowstorm. They are not skitching but they are having fun. (And wearing helmuts helmets (duh).)

So. The kids boys around my neighborhood were always skitching. Like I said, it really wasn’t so much a girl-type thing. When I was in junior high school, my friends and I would walk up to Minneapolis Woods to ski many winter nights. Yes, that meant that we carried our heavy downhill skis and boots. There was a rope-tow there and a ski jump and a warming hut where you could buy hot chocolate and stuff and a big ice rink. I rode up the rope tow and skied down about a billion times. Ski jump? Never. Too chicken. We were in junior high. There were boys around and some of them liked some of us. I personally never connected with anyone at Minneapolis Woods. I think I day-dreamed that my crush of the moment would see me executing perfect parallel turns going down that hill. Not. Either me executing perfect parallel turns or any of my crush boys watching.

One night, my dad drove up to Minneapolis Woods to pick my friends and me up from skiing. The road there was a sheet of ice. A high school guy who was interested in one of my friends actually skitched my dad’s car. Hmmm. My dad was a highly skilled driver (and former WWII pilot). He realized that the kid was skitching and managed to maneuver the car to throw the kid off without hurting him. The kid said, “Wow, that Mr. Finlayson, the bank manager, is a really good driver.” Yes he was! But. The skitcher did not seem to know that Mr. Finlayson was my father. I didn’t have a whole lot of respect for that particular skitcher and so I was really proud of my dad. I tried to play it cool on either end though.

Can you use the word “crepuscular” in a sentence?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

How about:

Skunks are crepuscular and do not intersect with people very often.

Yesterday’s “snow-hum” turned out to be just about that here in the southeast corner of the Great Lake State. What did we get? Maybe eight inches? It was enough snow to challenge my little 6-speed manual Honda Civic and its so-called performance tires but not enough that I couldn’t get it out of the neighborhood and onto the main roads, which were actually pretty good and my little eight-mile commute was pretty much okay. The GG doesn’t seem to agree with me about the roads and his commute is three miles shorter than mine but it’s in a different direction so I dunno.

I dragged myself to a vertical position just a wee bit later than I wanted to this morning and then, when I went out the door to take my walk, my neighbor was out shoveling. Since I live under a rock these days, I took that as an opportunity to get caught up on all the neighborhood gossip. By the time that was done, it was really too late to walk. I started out anyway but as I was about to turn the corner at the end of the block, the sight of a skunk swimming across the street stopped me in my tracks. At least swimming was what it looked like it was doing. Through the snow. I waited until Mr. Skunk had made his way across the street and up the neighbors’ driveway, under their fence, and into their back yard and then I inspected the trail he had made. And noticed that there was another such trail a bit further away.

At that point, I came to my senses, realizing that it was late enough that I had better abandon my neighborhood prowl and involve a snow shovel in my morning exercise instead. As I walked back down the street and into my driveway, I realized that these little skunk swim-trails were absolutely everywhere. Up my driveway and across my back yard behind the compost bin and shed and I don’t know where they go after that. I grabbed my shovel. I started up every vee-hickle in the Landfill Honda fleet and turned on the defrost and the rear defrogger grok grok. I shoveled the sidewalk. I salted the sidewalk. After I yelled to the GG to put some more salt in my drywall/salt bucket, that is. I started shoveling the driveway. The GG and our houseguest came out and shuffled vee-hickles around. I shoveled whatever I could shovel in the driveway amid all of the vee-hickle shuffling chaos. I shoveled a path to the back yard and out to the compost heap. I don’t think I got as much exercise as I do on my neighborhood prowl but it was enough.

Our houseguest? Cap is our nephew (he’s married to our niece so neither of us can claim any common DNA). He is a mathematics professor at UMich and very wisely chose not to wrangle US23 to his home an hour or so north of here in a snowstorm. He has a life-blog and an, uh, mathematical blog, which I can sometimes actually understand, although people who were making prime number sieves in fifth grade could probably understand it better than I can.

So. Can anyone use the word “crepuscular” in a sentence yet? If you have actually read all of the above blather and gotten this far, that is (-; Did you have to look the word up? Don’t be shy. I looked “crepuscular” up the first time I encountered it and that was only a couple of years ago. Believe me, the definition was not what I expected. I fell in love with the word at that time and I was only too happy to have the opportunity to use it on Facebook today. So, send me a sentence. Or, if you prefer, shut down yer ‘puter, make a faaaarrrrr and pour yerself a glass o’ whine. That is just fine with me too! <insert huge smiley face here>.

Snow-hum.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Snow day? Hmm. Not really. Because I don’t punch a clock, I left just a wee bit earlier than usual. It’s okay, I’ll get at least 40 hours in this week one way or another. It snowed all day but I don’t think we are getting as much snow as was predicted. Nevertheless, I knew that leaving during my regular rush hour commute would be messy. It would probably take me twice as long to get home as usual. I think I was right. I wasn’t really worried about the driving. It wasn’t all that bad, at least on the Planet Ann Arbor surface streets. Slippery but even those fearless SUV drivers were driving at a conservative speed and keeping a safe distance. This is February and even though we haven’t had a whole heckuva lot of snow this year, people have learned.

We are not paralyzed by snow here like so many of you on the eastern seaboard are. We’re getting a sniggly little bit of a snowstorm here. We can pretty much deal with it. The freeways are dangerous. I heard random news reports that there were big trucks jack-knifed in many locations, three of them in the Climax area of I94, near Kalamazoo. I do not take the freeway for my little commute when it is snowing or even sometimes when it’s raining really hard. It’s a busy stretch of road with lots of huge trucks and some awful WWII-style cloverleaf exchanges. Dangerous from the get-go and a big backup could keep me sitting there for hours. For an eight-mile commute.

I have always thought that non-essential employees should not have to report to their physical place of work on snow days. By “non-essential”, I mean those who do not have to be on site dealing with actual people or pieces of equipment. I am a non-essential employee in my current job. The work I do sits waaaayyy back from any of our actual customers. That doesn’t mean that I’m not important. If I do my job well, our essential employees will not be called upon to answer questions and/or fix things.

The thing is that so many of us can work from home. Telecommute. I rarely do that but I can if I want or need to. I always thought that I would want to telecommute. And heck, when I was a theatre guild administrator (or whatever I was), I did work from home. Now? I actually enjoy going in and hanging out in my cube. Go figger. But. When the weather is bad, I still think that those of us who do not need to be on the roads, at least during rush hour, should not be there. Having extra people on the road just snarls things up.