Archive for April, 2010

That Device arrives, at long last

Friday, April 30th, 2010

It is cool but I don’t think I’m gonna be giving up my MacBook any time soon. I am dead tired after a long day of work and walking downtown and back. That is all. G’night. –KW.

I think I am in love

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

When we moved into the Landfill 25 years ago (okay, it is now almost 26 years), there was this big beautiful PINK flowering crab tree in the front. It wasn’t what sold me the house. I doubt that I even noticed it when we first looked at the house. It was just another tree. Too early in the spring for the flowers to be in bloom. What sold me on the landfill was that there was a WOODS behind it. It is a teeny-tiny woods but it is a woods with trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit in the spring and I think this is probably about the only landfill on the Planet Ann Arbor that has a woods behind it that we can afford. Then and now.

Our flowering crab tree was old when we moved in but it was gorgeous with beautiful light pink flowers. Mouse was born on April 24th and I will always remember that it was a Friday when she was born and, even though we came home when she was 24 hours old, those flowers seemed to have bloomed overnight.

The tree was old when we moved in and in the later years, it started to die, helped along by a horrible summer of drought and sustained 90-100 degree temperatures. We often have hot summers here in lower Michigan but this was unusual. In the ensuing years, small branches fell off and then larger branches and finally it was just a skeleton and my blasted black thumb poked right into my all too tender heart. The GG cut all of the remaining branches off just before Halloween a couple years ago and installed some eyes from the robot store into some big knots. Last fall he bought me a new tree. Yaknow, the flowers on this tree are not quite the light pink color that I wanted, like what was on the old tree. They are darker. Send a man to describe pink and whaddya get. Not exactly what I had specified. But she is a beautiful tree, don’tcha think? I LOVE her. I have no idea what gender she is (-; She is thriving right now with flowers everywhere. She is beautiful. I hope I [we] can keep her alive. I think she needs a sister. With slightly lighter pink flowers. I will make sure that I love both of my trees equally. I promise.

“Cheese eater” is not a good password hint. Trust me on that.

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Saturday, I survived another trip to the Apple Store. My experiences there have been a little mixed over the years. Saturday? It was fine in the grand scheme of things. But I was on edge at the end of it. Wondering why I didn’t just order the darn thing on-line. Why did I think that making a trip to the Apple Store to buy a computer would be a better experience? I don’t know.

When a salesperson finally became free enough to help us (and it *was* busy!), almost as soon as he opened his mouth, I started to get nervous. Why? This is going to be hard to explain, I think. Let’s see if I can do it. We walked in there knowing exactly what we wanted, which was basically the newest and most powerful 13″ Apple laptop there is. To replace a creaky old 12″ G4 powerbook. So, why, when I said, “We want to buy *that*!” did he start asking questions? What are you going to use it for? Are you going to use it for this or that or whatever? Well. It is going to be used largely for the same things the G4 powerbook has been used for, except that the G4 powerbook can barely do any of those things any more because it is five years old and yada yada.

I know these people are trained to sell computers and that this young man was just doing his job. And trying to be helpful. Many customers need that. Me? It just put me on edge. It made me feel like he had sized me up as a baggy old bag who didn’t know anything about computers. (And Mouse as a ditzy young woman who didn’t know much of anything. Dangereuse assumption that.) I could feel myself getting panicky. With great difficulty, I squelched the urge to start stammering about how I was working in the IT industry back when this kid was probably in diapers. Writing FORTRAN programs on a DecWriter II hooked up to a mainframe somewhere via a 300 baud modem. Or faaarrrin’ up the old Apple II+ so my toddler could play Sticky Bear ABC. Or all of the Apple computers I used in between jobs to manage non-profit organizations, all on my own dime. Or about the loverly systems analyst job I have now, after an almost 15 year hiatus from gainful employment. I *did* stammer out something about how high my family’s stack of Apple laptops is getting to be. He looked at me like I was nuts.

I think what bothers me is still related to how hard I had to work to gain any kind of respect back when I was young, thin, and blonde in my first IT career. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about them thar computers when I got hired. The truth is that the guy who hired me was told to by *his* boss and I’m sure he didn’t want to but I will be eternally grateful that he took a chance on me. Because I *loved* (and *love*) computer work. And I was (am) good at it. Except for the stuff I’m not good at. Networks? Yuck! Hubs and waarrrrrs? Not. And then there’s all the the stuff I don’t know, which is a LOT! But given the time, tools, file permissions, and a nice soft place to bang my head, I can learn anything.

Pleeeease. Everyone. Just because someone is female, old and baggy or young and stylish, doesn’t mean that they don’t have at least some basic knowledge of computer technology (or any other knowledge, fer kee-reist). The Apple Store is a trivial example. We were just trying to buy something, so it wasn’t a long term relationship. Probably next time I will order on-line and forgo all of the uncomfortable face-to-face conversations. But what about job-seekers? I worked so hard back in the 1980s to gain a little respect and I had quite a bit of success but it took some years. What about today’s young women? Women my daughters’ ages. When I hear about the job-seeking experiences of some of the young female college graduates that I know, I sometimes think that we have not come very far at all. That is all I will say.

The Cheerio is to the left and closer to shore

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

There really is a Cheerio (or was) at Fin Family Moominbeach. It was a big round cement-type thing with a hole in the middle that was a few feet out from the shore and when my “cuzzints” and I were four or five, we used to spend hours playing with it. Or *on* it, since it was too heavy for us to lift out of the sand and play *with* it. I don’t remember exactly what we played on the Cheerio. The Cheerio disappeared for many years and then a couple years ago at the annual 4th of July Potluck, it was a low water year and I spotted what I thought was about a quarter of the Cheerio, which probably broke apart over years of submersion in the sand under the water or wherever. I said, “There’s the Cheerio!” One of my favorite Piedmont friends looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Get out!” in her beautiful no nonsense Connecticut-type accent.

Alas, I don’t have any photooos of the Cheerio. Or even the Quarter Cheerio. In this photoooo, we are standing on a “raft”. Can you see it? Yes, it is submerged. When you live on a beach, like we did in the summer, all kinds of flotsam and jetsam and cosmic debris lands on your shore daily. Back in the days before rules about freighter garbage came into play, we would routinely get a lot more than we do now. Grapefruit rinds. Mesh onion bags (you can wear them as hats, don’tcha know). Pulp logs that escaped from their journey down from wherever (you could build forts and other structures from them). In this case, some sort of constructed piece of whatever had floated in and we used it as a “raft”. I guess we didn’t go very far on that raft that day.

By the way, the “cuzzints” in the photooo are not Fin cousins. They come from the MacMullan side of the family (aka The Commander’s family). That’s Sally on the left. That’s meeee in the middle. Yes, I was quite tall for a 6-year-old but I am also standing on a submerged raft. And I think that Sally’s sister Teri (a year younger than me) is on the right. I can’t quite tell because she’s bent over.

The interesting little factoid about these two cousins is that their dad was the director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources back in the day. There is a facility in northern lower Michigan that bears his name and there are signs on the two area freeways that point it out. He’s long dead (alas) but he always loved to bring his family up to visit during the summer. And so, once when he was there, my uncle Duke and old Doc Read were out fishing with some sort of illegal fish trap. As they headed their little fishing boat toward shore, they realized that the director of the MI DNR was standing there on the beach. Well, what were they gonna do? Hmm. They landed the boat on the beach and hauled their traps or whatever they had up onto the land. The director of the DNR just looked the other way.

I am always careful about what I put on my blahg but, since this happened back in the 60s or thereabouts, and almost everyone who witnessed it is dead, I think it is okay to post it. Mom, please correct me about the details of the fish-trap thing!!!

HB to Mr. Roboto Glitter and his Twin of Terror!

Monday, April 26th, 2010

And what did Mr. Glitter receive for his birthday? Well, practically nothing, from yer favo-rite blahgger anyway, although sometime tonight he will get a steak dinner. Why isn’t he getting big piles of presents? Because Mr. Glitter dun gone ‘n’ ordered hisself one o’ them thar dee-vices. You know the ones. Yer favo-rite blahgger found out about it ’cause he tweeted it. It ain’t’a gonna git here till maybee th’ end o’ th’ week ’cause he went all full tilt boogie ‘n’ ordered one o’ them thar 3G ones. ‘n’ maybee it won’ even git here till after that. Okay, he hasn’t been totally neglected. I ordered him a Scottevest and he can play around with that until That Device arrives. And Mouse bought him some books. He’ll live.

And yes, to those who may not know, I am married to one half of a set of identical twins. The Beautiful Gay is married to the other half, who comments occasionally as the Uncly Uncle. The Beautiful Gay was the UU’s high school girlfriend. I didn’t start hanging out with the GG until until I was 26. TBG and I are different in a lot of ways but we have some similarities too and I love her and we get along very well. Can I tell the twins apart? Yes, but. When I am looking at whatever twin I am talking to, I certainly can. No mistake. When I am just hanging around, say the Houghton Lake kitchen or whatever, and one of them walks through and says something and I’m not really paying attention, I’m not always sure. The Twinz of Terror are numbers five and six of 10 children! At the time they were born, my lovely late mother-in-law Sally had six children ages six and under.

Once, when Lizard Breath was a little over a year old or so, we spent a day helping the UU and The Beautiful Gay and their kids move into a new house. Late in the evening, the UU and I took off to get a drink somewhere. The Beautiful Gay was at work at her family’s bar and the GG was left to watch over Lizard Breath. Lizard Breath being our daughter. Guess what? She thought that both of her parents had left her with the UU! She was NOT happy and spent the entire hour or so that we were gone complaining about it. Nothing the GG said to her managed to convince her that *he* was her *dad* and not her *uncle*. Go figure.

Yes, Mr. Glitter and his twin were holy terrors. I have that on the authority of their late Aunt Gale. She dropped that little tidbit at our rehearsal dinner. Something about the twins wandering around their neighborhood at the grand old age of five, cutting people’s screens. Or something. I can’t quite remember. Guess what? By that time, I had already figgered out that they had been holy terrors and I was going through with it anyway.

I guess I am done for tonight. Good night and have a great night. If you have nothing to celebrate tonight, raise a glass to the GG and the UU. You have my permission! (-:

Slodddggge.

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Today was just one long slodge. I cannot believe how little I managed to get done today. I did not possess one iota of motivation today. What did I do today? I took my early morning walk about a half hour later than I wanted to. Threw some laundry in. Ate breakfast. Mucked around on the internet. Scanned some old photoooos. Changed the sheets. Cleaned the Blue and Only Bathroom (but I do that every day or thereabouts). Walked to the Plum Market and back. Slugged around on the internet. Washed what few dishes I used today. Slodged around on the internet. Yeah, it probably sounds like I did quite a few things today. But most of those things (except the internet stuff) took just a couple minutes each. My unfinished prodjects (intentionally misspelled)? Languished. Poor little Roomba sat neglected under the ugly old table in the Ugliest Kitchen on Earth.

I think I know what the problem was. I think I am in a kind of weird w-a-i-t-i-n-g mode right now. What am I w-a-i-t-i-n-g for? I am w-a-i-t-i-n-g for Mouse’s moving day. Which is happening next weekend. Mouse has found a summer sublet with some friends and that is all I am going to say about it for now. It’s up to her to choose to broadcast (or not) the details on these here tubes.

It’s not like I am dying for her to move out. Actually, I am going to miss her. I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive when she moved back in after college graduation last June. I was getting kind of used to the empty nest. I could leave for work in the morning and lock the door and be reasonably certain that when I returned home, the Landfill would be in the same state that I left it in. Unless a tree fell on it or something. They do that sometimes, don’tcha know.

I think that we have managed to achieve a relatively peaceful co-existence. This Mouse is not the kind of adult child who parties all night, sleeps until noon every day, and slugs around watching movies all day. She is always busy doing something, even when she is not gainfully employed. Acting, for one thing and most recently designing clothing and stuffed aminals. And we do stuff together sometimes. Coffee on Sunday at the Plum Market. Urban hikes at Barton Dam. Fabric store junkets. It’s little stuff but it’s the little stuff that makes life worth living.

It’ll be good for Mouse to NOT have, uh, you know, Moom around in some ways. There’ll be no one to randomly freak out when it’s three o’clock in the morning and Mouse isn’t home and start calling/texting madly in a big panic. And there’ll be no one trying to nudge Mouse awake on the days when she has to be somewhere early. Like, uh, I will sometimes do. Even though I know I don’t have to. I am sorry but I can’t always help myself. The days when “bad aminals” would sometimes glue Mouse into her bed are burned into my brain. To re-package something Lizard Breath once said as a young child, “once you are born from a mama, she is stuck to you.”

And, you know, Mouse will be a mile and a half or so away. She can come home to visit or get stuff or whatever. Heck, she can even *walk* here. Or I can walk there. We can meet for coffee or breakfast or lunch and we can go on fabric store junkets. It’ll be fine and it’ll be fun.

That street/woods light in the photooo kind of reminds me of the lamp post that the children of Narnia found after they went through the old coats in the war drobe in the spare oom.

The 23rd anniversary of Mouse’s escape from the womb

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

And yes, Mouse could not wait to get out and so she emerged big as life about three weeks early. Just as healthy as could be and ready to get on with things. I know it sounds crazy but sometimes I almost wonder if she actually remembers making a decision to get outta there early. I do have an old friend who claims to have remembered his birth while on some kind of painkiller but I don’t think I want to go anywhere near that tonight. In Mouse’s case, I think this means that she knew from a very early age that she was her own person and her moom was necessary for some things but there was no way she was going to let her moom dictate her whole life. And that’s okay with her moom, aka meeeeee. Mostly.

The outfit? Yes, it is killer, isn’t it? That was Mouse’s second birthday. The Commander and Grandroobly were down here from their home in Sault Ste. Siberia and it was The Commander who made that beauteous knitted hat. And no, April 24th is not too late in the Great Lakes State to give someone a wool hat because we do sometimes still get snow in April. Or May. Or June. Or… Of course, this hat was given to *Mouse*. The same Mouse who would always pull hats off unceremoniously no matter what the weather. 10 degrees and blowing snow? I don’t need no stinkin’ hat! The top and skort? Dogmomster and The Engineer gave her that. They wrapped it loosely in a gift bag with tissue paper and handed it to Mouse when they walked in. Mouse pulled the outfit out of the bag and immediately stripped the clothing she was wearing off, right in front of god and everybody else, in our back living room, and put on the new outfit. New clothes, gimme. I think the green high heels (look down) were probably something that were just around the landfill and, well, Mousey is Mousey and she was just getting dragged along for the ride.

So, today was Mouse’s 23rd birthday and it is the first birthday I have spent with her since she left for college, which will be five years ago this coming September. I have always tried to make sure my kids had adequate gifts while they were at college and beyond. Usually that includes a significant amount of money, especially when they were studying abroad. This year I bought Mouse two things. Mouse’s early interest in clothing has blossomed into costuming and, er, fashion, although Mouse’s idea of fashion is to create her own designs, not just shop for whatever is the latest and greatest hot trend. And so, I bought her an adjustable dress form. And, duh, the second gift? A new computer. Because she has been limping along with the Apple G4 Powerbook that we The Commander bought her for college five years ago. We had an interesting experience with the Apple Store salesman who *finally* came to our aid in purchasing a new computer. They were VERY busy there today and seemed a bit understaffed and I was kind of drumming my fingers, like “we want to buy this”, and then the guy who finally did help us was wanting to go through the whole spiel about, well what do you want to do with your computer. Like, what we are already trying to do but the dern thing is so blasted slow that we can’t. In truth, we could’ve easily bought online since we knew what we wanted. Note to self.

Today. We met up with NPJane at Cafe Zola for brunch. Mouse had actually never been there. I’ve been there about a billion times and probably NPJane has too. We drank mimosas and bloody marys and we boxed some food to take home. Then we went to THE MALL (yikes) and bought the new computer and a couple dresses for Mouse for work. Home for a few hours. Then. Moom, let’s go get Indian food. Okay. This was around 3 PM. We were both hungry. We headed downtown again and, of course, we ordered way more food than we could eat, so now we have leftover [Mouse what did we order?] Indian food (really good food) in the refrigerator too.

And Mouse is now out with friends for dinner at Seva and whatever barroom they up at.

Happy birthday Mouse. I love you.

TGIF!!!! (to about the 20th power)

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

It is Friday. It has been a good week. I have a really interesting prodject intentionally misspelled at work going on right now, not to mention that I am still doing residual stuff on the last prodject. I am geeked about designing and coding screens and thinking about how I will write my next spec. But it is Friday and I have a few things to percolate in my head for the weekend. And that’s how design work is. You throw something up there and let people dash it to bits. And you re-work it with the help of your team and then you do it again, lather, rinse, repeat. When I first got my current job, I was terrified about showing my screens to others, even the friendly people on my team. Not so much any more. I think my current job is a good fit for me (-: I am still glad it’s Friday.

I have learned to control my iPhone by voice! By accident. Yes, really. You gurus (you know who you are) are gonna think I am nuts. The first time I ran into voice control was last week, when I hit that round button on the bottom for too long. I was at work and I quit the whole thing really fast. What were those things floating by? Then I was hanging out with MMCB and we were talking about the new Michigan law against texting while driving (which I agree with to a point) and I started up iPhone voice control and I said something that started with “I” (of course) to MMCB and my phone heard that. And suggested that I wanted to call my long-suffering cat-herding boss. Isaac. Kee-reist!! Fortunately, the call needed me to hit a button before it could go thru. Tonight, I managed to call The Commander via voice control. Very cool. Maybe I will try the GG next.

Does anyone know what I was doing 23 years ago?

Walking to Canadaaaaa (and back)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Today, Detroit area journalist and blogger Nancy Nall posted a link to an appalling story about some Canadian women who cannot cross the border into the US to take a blasted yoga class. Some of them have been barred from crossing into the States for five years! Jeesh and fer kee-reist! What have we come to? I know that there is an increased security risk since some crazy Al Qaeda folks commandeered jet-liners and crashed them into the World Trade Center. Hey, I am a relatively nervous flyer from the get-go. Uh, who’s flyin’ this plane, anyway? I wanna know! So I can agree that we don’t want people to come over here from foreign countries to go to flight school without some pretty extensive background checking. But yoga? YOGA? Who is making these rules and where the heck did the zero tolerance come from? Yoga?

When I was a kid in Sault Ste. Siberia, until I was 10 years old, the only way we could legally cross the St. Mary’s River into our sister city in Canada was to board a ferry. If I am remembering accurately, we boarded the ferry down at the Coast Guard dock. It was a car ferry and we did often drive a car over to Canada. The trips I remember most from when I was a little kid were walking trips. We would park our cars and walk onto the ferry, pay our fee (I remember quarters but maybe I’m wrong). I remember a turnstile but can’t think exactly how it was involved.

We often took a walking trip to Canada in the summer in those days. I remember Grandma Margaret going on those trips and various aunts and cousins. We would walk around the downtown area and our parents would buy cute little tartan plaid wool skirts for us. Sometimes we might catch the bus downriver a bit to Bellevue Park where there was a little zoo. We would often end our afternoon eating fancy pastries at the Girl In Red restaurant. And then we would walk back to the ferry and head home.

I don’t know what the educational visas were like back when I was a kid. I know that I desperately wanted a flute teacher when I was in high school and the much larger city on the Canadian side was one place we looked. We didn’t find anyone over there but I think that if we had, we would not have had to jump through a whole bunch of hoops for me to take lessons. Sigh.

I don’t remember all of those fun family trips to Canada very thoroughly. Cousins, aunts, uncles, mom, if you do, please comment or email me if you don’t want to comment.

Love y’all,
KW

Accidental friendships

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Tomorrow morning I have a coffee date with MMCB. I have a coffee date with MMCB every Thursday. Every Thursday, that is, that MMCB isn’t jet-setting off to Europe or Hawaii or Viet Nam or dropping her cell phone into the basin of an Australian water closet (actually a *very* UN-MMCB thing to do). Sometimes I marvel that we’ve been meeting for coffee for 11 years.

I first met MMCB at sixth grade registration for Mouse and her son, when a mutual friend introduced us. I remember meeting her and I remember thinking that she was really nice and friendly but that I would *never* be able to keep up with her! Those of you who know me in real life are probably laughing at that. Yes, I can be rather nuclear powered at times. All I can say is that a lot more of my energy is positive these days than it was when I was young, or even 10 years ago. But man oh man, MMCB is one of the most positive people I have ever known and her energy is right out front there. I love her dearly but I do not think I would want to be a tech support person on the other end of a call from her! Just for example.

I was meeting for coffee with a group at that time and so was our mutual friend. The next thing I knew, MMCB was in our group. People started to drop out of that group as our kids wended their way on through middle school and high school and beyond. They went back to work or moved out of town or whatever. Somehow MMCB and I kept on going. Nowadays, we can talk to each other about almost anything and, depending on the subject of conversation, we sometimes finish each others’ sentences. And yes, the GG and are always wondering why a globe-trotting jet-setter would want to hang out with the likes of well, meeeee.

It’s odd how friendships die or ebb and flow or manage to stick for a long time or forever. When I met Sam (archaeologist, not dog) so very many years ago, I also didn’t expect to form a long-term friendship. Like MMCB, she was very nice and friendly and interesting and all. It was just that I was tied up with my own life and didn’t envision making a new friend at that time. But look at us. We have been friends for over 30 years and I think we are life-long friends at this point.

I think that in general, my friends have more positive energy than the other kind. I am not an unfriendly person but I think I prefer to sit back and let people decide if I am their friend or not. It’s kind of like, if you can drill down through my layers until you have an idea of who I am, we can be friends. And yes, that means I don’t have a whole lot of friends because most people don’t want to bother. I have been known to quietly fire so-called friends that were negative or got too high maintenance for my liking. With some people it’s a temporary thing (I need a break!) but there are a few folks around town here that have me ducking behind the grocery store aisles when I spot them.

P.S. I’m talking about non-relatives in this post. I have about a billion cousins and in-laws and things and they are stuck with me!

Peevishly yours

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I follow a few of the young, well, “mommy-blahggers”. Actually, I think these young bloggers deserve a better title, probably something better even than “life-blogger with a current focus on parenting.” I don’t comment a lot on those sites (or any sites really — if I don’t have something constructive to say, it’s better to just sit on my hands) largely because I always hated it when I was a young mother and people who were then the age I am now tried to shove unsolicited advice down my throat. I definitely didn’t know it all then and I think I sometimes even asked for advice or at least a reality check. But it wasn’t necessarily helpful when some withered old bag would lecture me about how I should do this or that yada yada.

My withered old bag is not one particular person. She is bits and pieces of about a gazillion people I have known in my lifetime. And sometimes she is me! She includes our former *beloved* neighbors who asked me if I was going to put my yet to be born baby in day care. I didn’t intend to but I was playing a game with my work at the time, so I hedged and said it was a possibility. They then asked what my *mother* thought about that. At that moment, I wasn’t even sure where my mother *was*. By that I mean that my parents were scheduled to take a group joy-ride to the Canadian Maritime Provinces with some aunts and uncles and I expected that they were on that trip and nobody had cell phones then and so I didn’t expect my mother to call home. And then there was The Diaper Brigade. Dun dun dun duh-duh-duh dun dun dun… Cloth or paper/plastic. You could ruin your kid/the earth either way. Sigh. I am a wimp. I did not have any experience changing a baby’s diaper until I had my first beach urchin at the grand old age of 30! Pampers worked for me. If I had to do it again? Maybe I’d do it differently. Oh, probably not… And I will not even go anywhere near the dern breast-feeding argument. Or maybe I will. I did. Some people can’t. We all do what we can. Live and let live.

Advice? There are a couple things going on here. Yes, there are certain things that people would like to put into the category of not letting history repeat itself. Food battles. Homework battles. Clothing battles. Battles. Battles. Battles. Our kids need to grow up to be independent people who can take care of themselves. They need to make their own rules. If we can manage to pick our way through all of the minefields involved in raising children, they will adopt a personalized version of our values even if some of their rules are different. Maybe some of their rules *have* to be different! When I was in junior high, there was one telephone in our whole house. It was the old black dial-up kind. If a boy actually wanted to call me, he might have to get through my, ulp, father, the bank president and old WWII pilot, before getting me on the line. And I would be in the living room with, um, other people. I was always a bit envious of the kids in my little town who had a “teen phone” listed in the phone book. That would never have happened at my house.

Fast forward. When my kids were in middle school, I finally got my first cell phone. We were just moving out of the days when there was one email account for a whole family (remember those days?) and Instant Messenger was a new thing. We had one computer for the whole family. We would come home from play rehearsals and eat a late breakfast dinner and then the kids would get onto I/M with, well, probably mostly the kids they had just seen at the rehearsal and some middle/high school friends too. I never looked at the screen to see what they were doing. I was watching falling asleep to Taxi or whatever on Nick at Night. I’m not sure why I trusted my kids but somehow I always did.

And then all of a sudden, everybody had Apple laptops, like in the picture, which was taken at Fin Family Moominbeach and yes that is a manhattan on top! I wonder what the parents of my grandchildren (and, do not get me wrong, I am NOT expecting grandchildren any time soon), will have to deal with. It will be different than what I had to deal with. It will be waaaaayyyy different than what my parents had to deal with. Yes, there are some things that don’t change with each generation but some things do and that is why each generation of parents needs to be free to tweak the values they were raised with and form their own rules.

Well, all of that is certainly not what I started out to write today. I hope it made some sense but I’m not sure it did. But that’s par for the course around here (-:

Good night,
KW

Invention needed: shopping cart, James Bond style

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I love being able to walk to the grocery store from my house. My walking grocery store is a full-service, upscale type grokkery store and I would like to think I can rationalize the dollars I spend on food there by the fact that I almost never drive an automotive vee-hickle over there.

The only problem is that, when I walk to the grocery store, I have to haul the groceries home. This is a relatively new phenomenon for me and although I am kind of rocking it in some ways, I am also finding it tedious to try to limit my shopping expotitions (intentionally misspelled) to stuff I can haul home in one or two grocery bags hung from my shoulders.

So, how about a new kind of shopping cart. My dream grocery cart for walking to the store from a few blocks away would have some specifications. It has to have large wheels. Think baby jogger strollers. It either has to fold up into nothing and attach to a grocery store cart or serve as an acceptable replacement for a store cart (and the store would have to be happy with that). It would have to fold up into enough of nothing that it could be stored outside the house with the Landfill Kayaks.

What I would really like is if I could have a grocery cart that had retractable skis. If the sidewalks were totally covered with snow, I could ski the cart down to the store. If the streets of the Planet Ann Arbor were cleared down to pavement, I could push a button and the skis would retract and we could wheel across the pavement.

I don’t think this invention will happen any time soon but I can dream, can’t I?

In the deep dark forest primeval

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, I was walking west on Miller when I was startled by a bicycler directly behind me on the sidewalk. He said something like, “On your left.” I know that this is the proper protocol for a bicycler to notify a pedestrian of his approach but he was so close behind me that it had the usual effect of scaring the bejabbers out of me. Left? Whose left? Do I move left? Or right? Or what? I jumped but I’m not sure which way I jumped. Fortunately, we did not collide. He continued on his merry way and so did I. And then I posted about it on Twitter and Facebook and, well, I certainly didn’t go viral but more comments than I usually get ensued on Facebook and the discussion also spilled over onto my blahg.

Some clarifications may be in order. I am all FOR bicycles and bicycle riders and biking to work and the whole works. I don’t bike a whole lot. In fact, the only bike ride I have been on since the last time I took girl scouts to Mackinac Island (1998, maybe, and it was RAINING and I FORGOT to pack my long pants and I was FREEZING) was when we biked the Golden Gate Bridge last October. I LOVED it but I was SUPER cautious, especially on that long, often steep, downhill into Sausalito.

There are a few reasons I don’t bike frequently. One is that I have an old piece of crap bike from the 1980s. (Yes, I could buy a new one but a new laptop will probably happen first and then maybe another kayak or two and yada yada…) Also, I am terrified to bike anything but the quiet neighborhood roads around here. The main roads are terrifying. There are a few bike lanes around but it isn’t uncommon for them to end abruptly. And traffic? I have no words.

I would LOVE to see our cities plan for bicycles, not to mention pedestrians. Unfortunately, that kind of planning has been haphazard around here and I can understand why some people ride on the sidewalk. Now, I am not sure why my friend from yesterday was on the sidewalk, since that particular stretch of Miller is very wide with a defined bike lane going in both directions. But that is where he was riding. I don’t *think* it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk on the Planet Ann Arbor. I know I have done it but that was when the beach urchins were young bike riders.

Yes. I do like to have a warning if a bicycler is coming up behind me when I’m walking. Absolutely. It would be better though, if the warning came a little earlier so I have time to process it. When I am walking, I am usually thinking. Sorting through whatever it is I’m doing at work. Or some project at home. Or what I’m going to cook for dinner for the next few days. Or life, the universe and the precession of the generations (or whatever the heck you call that). I am not totally out of it. If I see someone approaching me, I can manage to spit out “good morning” or some other appropriate bit of conversation. I am on the alert (usually) for skunks. I can hear motorized vee-hickular traffic blocks away. The salt truck, the crazy newspaper jeep, the little Mini Cooper, and whatever. I can hear the little beeeeep beeeeep beeeeep of the pedestrian traffic signals on the bigger roads, also blocks away. Bikes are usually silent and an unexpected voice from behind? Yipe!

I have a bicycle friend that I encounter occasionally on my early morning walks. He whizzes down through my west-side walking neighborhood to his work somewhere downtown. The first couple of times he whizzed by me, he tried the “on your left” thing. As usual, it startled the bejabbers out of me and I jumped in a random direction. One morning, he tried something else. About half a block back, he rang his bell. I heard that! I turned to figure out what/where the sound was coming from. Oh! Bicycle rider! And I happily, safely moved out of his way. No words to process, no jumping wildly in a random direction.

In other news, I spotted the first trillium of the season in “my” woods this morning. JITP too.

Mom, a lizard is out of the cage!

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Well, this was a slodgy April Saturday here on the Planet Ann Arbor. One of those bone-chilling April days where the thermometer says 46 (Fahrenheit) but you have to wear a ski-band, scarf, and little knit gloves and your polartech jacket. And Mouse had some sort of mournful sounding music playing on her iTunes all afternoon. It may not have BEEN mournful. I wasn’t listening to the lyrics at all. It was the harmonic structure that was doing me in.

I did my best today. I ran Roomba through several rooms and I am eye-balling another area but Frooggy & Company will not let me get there… And I did laundry and various little bits of cleaning and de-cluttering and I pre-cooked a few things, sauces and stuff, and actually managed to do just a wee bit of yard work (garbed in polartech with gloves, scarf, and ski-band). But that more or less depressed me. So much to do around here and who the heck has time? Not to mention my black thumb.

A facebook/childhood friend who now lives in the southern tier of states posted that her cat had brought a big green (live) lizard into the house. I know of a cat who does this kind of thing, although I’m not sure I have ever heard of him bringing in a lizard. The only cat that I have direct experience with bringing aminals home was Muksaslooie. He once proudly deposited the legs of Radical Betty’s favorite little red squirrel, one she had trained to eat out of her hand, outside her door.

So. Lizard in the house! Yiiy! When the pet-deprived beach urchins were in 5th and 2nd grade, we obtained five anole lizards. The beach urchins were pet deprived because I actually figured out from having a *beloved* childhood dog that pets were very hard work. And then they died. That plus the fact that neighborhood is suburbia and you have to carry around dog-poop bags was enough to keep me from getting a dog. The GG will not have a cat. He likes birds too much.

Anyway, we had these lizards. Anoles. Anoles are less maintenance than dogs because you don’t have to walk them or anything. But they are high maintenance because they require live food and that means that you have to buy live crickets at the pet store. In a plastic bag. You take the crickets home and release them into the lizard cage and the lizards eat them. Our lizards lived in a cage. The only time they would get out is when somebody left the top off.

So one day. It was June. The Beach Urchins were waiting for my friend Jane to pick them up and take them to the Girl Scout day camp. It was a great low-budget camp where the kids learned how to safely make their own campfires and many other things and it is long gone but that would be a whole ‘nother post. Just before Jane arrived in the driveway, another friend called. This friend, well can I just say it takes her a long time to spit out whatever it is she has to say. We all love her but. So, I was on the phone wishing this woman would get to the point and Jane arrived in the driveway and just then, the Beach Urchins yelled, “Mom, a lizard is out of the cage.” And the fire drill began.

I forget what the heck happened. I’m sure we captured the lizard and the kids got out to the carpool and Jane and I probably laughed our you-know-whats about the whole thing. Just a little slice of life from the Landfill. The photoooo is from Sault Ste. Siberia.

Four year old straight pickles

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Okay, let’s try this again! Yes, I did take down a post yesterday. I think a couple of people even saw it before I took it down and it still existed in my RSS reader this morning, so for all I know, it might still be in yours. Why did I take it down? Because I was totally pissed off! Who was I pissed off at? Mostly myself. (Yes, I used the p word. Sorry.)

It was the end of a long day and I wanted to write a post about Sarah Palin. Yes, really, not that any politicos should bother getting their hopes up too high. Unfortunately, my overworked little brain would not let me get the words out in any kind of intelligible order. This happens to me a lot. It is bad enough that I usually don’t get the time to write my blahg until the end of my workday. It is even worse on the days when I don’t even get 15 minutes to myself in my own house. When growlers are rummaging around for snacks and amphibians are frog-hopping wildly around my kitchen sliming things and grokking at the top of their lungs.

And that’s how it was yesterday. But then I hit the jackpot! A five foot long grocery receipt appeared in my back yard. Five feet! Forget Sarah Palin! I had a new topic, or so I thought. Somebody paid $445 for 275 items at Aldi’s. We speculated about who on earth would ring up a five-foot long grocery bill. I think about the longest receipt I’ve ever generated was maybe two feet or thereabouts and that was at the Westgate Kroger, which prints all kinds of statistical crap and ads and whatnot at the bottom of their receipts so they are about twice as long as they need to be. We came up with a theory about whose receipt it was and I posted that. And then. I won’t go into what happened next but yes, I took it down. It was a clumsily written piece of crap and that is all.

What about Sarah Palin? I am tired of her. I am also tired of everybody and his cousin complaining about her bendable straws and stuff. Those of us who think she is a nincompoop (and yes, I admit I am more in that camp than the other one) are just as bad as those teabaggers or whatever they are. We rant and rave about Palin and her book and her speaking contract and yada yada. The teabaggers rant and rave about Obama and his birthplace and communism and yada yada. I have friends and relatives all over the spectrum but I don’t think either side is totally correct and, as usual, I am just plain fed up with all the wrangling. This country is pretty messy and we have to work together. If you have been a ranter, I love you anyway!!! I do my own share of ranting, believe me.

And when I get my next public speaking gig, I am going to demand a big great jar of four-year-old straight pickles to go with my water bottles and bendable straws.

Comments are open again and I’m about to hoof it downtown. Maybe I’ll post some hipstamatic photooooos somewhere tonight. Or not.

This day ended up being a bad day. That is all.

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I am not a perfect person. I am not always politically correct. I don’t always eat right or throw my trash away correctly or whatever. I dunno. I try to do my best. It is usually not enough. I am an idiot. That is all. Sigh. Comments closed. (Er, not that I get lots of comments anyway (-: .) I do hope that tomorrow is a better day.

Eggplant parmesan and noodles with pesto

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

That’s what’s cooking tonight, as if you wanted to know. A co-worker was pushing home-grown basil today and nobody would take it! Until he got to me. Yes, I will take your basil! I’ll use it in my pesto! I don’t know where Mouse is but this is her kind of dinner. She is not a vegetarian but she isn’t crazy about eating a lot of meat and the first couple of nights this week we had chicken pieces from the freezer and leftover ham that I froze on Easter. I do my best. I am pretty good at cooking but, at this stage of the game, I am horrible at planning. And Mouse is probably not happy that I reported her personal preferences on the web but I think that they really aren’t much different than a lot of well-educated 20-somethings. The GG and I? We do like a good steak every couple weeks or so. Although we tend to eat a MUCH smaller amount of steak these days.

So, I was standing here next to the sink and somebody knocked on the door. I was thinking it was about the time of day for solicitors to be coming through. I mean usually, they bang on the door about when I am changing my clothes after work (and washing my feet, don’tcha know). I went to the door reluctantly, ready to sling lightning bolts at whatever person was disturbing my privacy. But no. It was my old friend Mrs. K (as I’ll call her here). Mouse has been subbing for her middle school classes this week and she was dropping off a video for tomorrow.

Mrs. K is the mother of one of Mouse’s best friends since kindergarten. And she more or less saved my life that year by taking Mouse to play with her daughter MANY days while my job at that time kind of wound down. I won’t bore y’all with the details. I worked very hard that year. That is all. Anyway, that job ended when Mouse entered first grade but I was friends with Mrs. K forever and she was the girl scout leader for Mouse’s troop and I will never forget when we tried to make those solar cookers but I bet Mrs. K would like to (-:

Oh, and those spools of thread? Those are The Commander’s. Aren’t they beautiful?

Are the vampires really sparkly (or is it twinkly?) these days?

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

My long-suffering, cat-herding boss keeps talking about how vampires sparkle and I keep telling him that they sure didn’t do that when I was a kid. When I was a kid, they hung out around the outhouse on Fin Family Moominbeach. Sparkle? No way. They peered out of the trees with their fangs showing and blood dripping down their chins. Werewolves howled in the distance and some kind of entity that I used to call “The Spitfire” lurked by our homemade climbing bars waiting to reach out and snag me with its fiery jaws. I never told anyone about that little demon. It was only in my own mind.

Yes. I was afraid to go to the outhouse at night. Heck, if there was a luna moth on the path or some sort of scrabbly little moth inside the outhouse, I was scared to go out there in the daytime. And then, during the last couple years of the outhouse’s life, it sort of rocked back and forth when you walked into it and, if you weren’t careful, your pee might sort of dribble out under the toilet seat and onto the floor instead of going, well you know, where it was supposed to go.

We have indoor plumbing up there now. It is not fancy but it works and we can be clean. And I am about a half-step below OCD about being clean. Shower? Yes. Every blasted single day. And I wash my face and feet every evening before dinner. Why? Well. When I was a little kid and my parents first built our little cabin, I can remember that every night, I sat in the kid chair in the back of the kitchen with my feet in a little dishpan. Cleaning the sand off. If it was a bad day, I would have a sliver and I would be hoisted up into the sink so that The Commander could dredge my sliver out. With a sterilized needle. Yes.

When I got to be a teenager, I would come home to the cabin every night and wash my face and my feet. My parents were always worried about me and when I would come home yada yada. Sigh. Until I had boyfriends and stuff, I was just hanging out on the beach and I was safe. I know. I know. I worried about my kids at that age too, even though I really didn’t need to. Anyway, I would get home and turn on the teakettle to heat some water. I would put one of the Commander’s little plastic basins into the sink, put warm water into it, and wash my face. And then I would stand in front of the sink and hoist one of my feet and then the other into the sink and wash the sand and whatever off of my feet.

I still wash my feet every evening. I dunno exactly why. It just feels good. This is Michigan. It is the Great Lake State. It is a god-forsaken state in many ways. But there is water. Beautiful, fresh water. Not the worst place to live. If you have a job…

Welcome to the 21st century

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Sandwiched in between my two careers in the information technology business, I spent six years working for the youth theatre guild that my children participated in. I was really a sort of glorified volunteer in a way. It was a very small non-profit organization and so I was paid a small stipend. This was fine with me for a very long time. I loved the organization and the work. Even when I didn’t. And it provided me a way to be involved with my teenage children without, you know, being involved with them but that’s a whole ‘nother story. And I am not sure they would see it that way.

Anyway, when I became the administrator of the Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild waaaaay back in the late 1990s, almost the first thing I did was drag YAG onto the World Wide Web. I loved the theatre training and experience that my children were getting but I didn’t like that rehearsal schedules were published sporadically and many times the only way I could figure out when my kids had their next rehearsal was to ASK someone when I picked them up at the end of the current rehearsal. I did not want to drive all the way across town during rush hour only to find that my children were not needed at that particular rehearsal. There had to be a better way.

Trial by fire. Back in those days, YAG didn’t have its own domain name. I ran the YAG webpages off the free space we got with our family’s email service. The url to get to the actual YAG content was about five miles long. The denizens of the Planet Ann Arbor are usually a bit ahead on the tech game and so a lot of people had email and web access then but getting to our website was still a challenge. But more and more people managed to get there and we also set up a Yahoo group and some people joined that and some didn’t. But we were underway and I’ll never forget that somebody at the cast party for hmm, Alice maybe (?), mentioned the new website and everyone in the room cheered and visiting dog barked and everything. Man oh man, I felt like I had arrived.

I kept the website going as long as I worked there. I never really got it to be as interactive as I wanted it to be but I was diligent about keeping the content updated. No one ever cheered me again. Some people even complained, “You didn’t say this or that or you did say this or that and it was confusing blah-de-blah and you spelled this wrong.” And that was okay. Being a webmaster is what it is. I learned a heckuva lot from running that website and sometimes it helps me in my second IT career, the one I am currently working in and am paid pretty dern well, thank you very much.

So, back in the late 1990s, I tried to drag YAG into the 21st century and I had some success. The folks who are hanging out with YAG now have gone beyond my meager 1990s efforts. YAG is now on Twitter and Facebook.

All I have to say is YAY FOR YAG!!! It is a wonderful organization that changed my childrens’ lives, not to mention my own.

I have a lot of photos of YAG plays somewhere around on this electronical beastie but this is one of the few I could easily find. It is of Mouse (long hair) leading a cast of younger children in warmups before a play at Scarlett Middle School. Which play? Darned if I can remember! She was either the assistant director or the stage manager, I can’t remember that either. Mouse was not feeling well at the time (garden variety virus) and during one of the performances I had to call the GG to come and pick her up and take her home. I love my current IT career but I do sometimes miss the old YAG days.

Where am I? How do I?

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Where am I? I know that I am on the Planet Ann Arbor after driving down from Sault Ste. Siberia. We drove the old two-lane roads through Pickford and down to Cedarville and then over to the I75 SUV Speedway and across the Big Mac bridge and down. The GG drove from the Commander’s house until Indian River and I drove the rest of the way.

I was trying to email/facebook with folks when we were in the area of the Big Mac bridge today but I was on the Edge network and nothing seemed to be happening. Slow slow slow. But, yaknow, when I was a kid traveling back and forth from the Planet to Siberia, I didn’t have anything resembling a telephone in my vee-hickle in those days. I just got on the road and drove.

The picture is of Lizard Breath and her beloved grandma Sally. Sally has been on the other side for a long time but she (obviously!) loved her grandchildren! I will never forget the first time Sally met Lizard Breath. Sally and Garth were spending a lot of their time in Florida at the time Liz was born and so they were not around then. And heck, she was their 12th grandchild, so probably they weren’t crazy to be around right after her birth anyway. Been there, done that (-: The Commander and Grandroobly were definitely there. She was their first! Garth and Sally stopped through when Liz was five weeks old and I will never forget Sally holding my baby, looking her in the eye and saying, “pretty, pretty, pretty” over and over again. And my baby responded!

Home today. Work tomorrow.

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