Archive for May, 2010

A rescue mission at Houghton Lake

Monday, May 31st, 2010

It was cocktail hour yesterday and the GG and I were sitting down by the dock sipping our cocktails and watching our adult niece Julia swim out by the dropoff. Although she is a strong swimmer, she asked us to keep an eye on her because various young red-blooded boyz of noyz were occasionally whaling along past the cabin on water lice jet-skies. They weren’t necessarily on the lookout for swimmers and she didn’t want to be mowed down. I felt honored to be asked! I have spent uncountable hours watching children swim. Counting heads over and over and over again. Heck, Julia was easy. She is an adult and she only has one head and she ended up tethering a blue inner-tube to her wrist to add visibility, which helped me and (arguably) those water louse riders.

So there we sat on that beautiful afternoon. And then the phone rang! The folks who had taken the Lord of Linden’s pontoon boat out were stranded with a broken motor. That motor had sounded horrible to me when they started it but whaddo I know? The GG sprung into action and grabbed the speedboat to head out for a dramatic rescue. Really, he was just glad to have a little minor excitement injected into his otherwise sleepy weekend. Unfortunately, there were a couple of tricks involved in making the speedboat run smoothly. The GG didn’t know what those were but he’s a Courtois and all the Courtois kids are motorheads and apparently The Beautiful Susie even has a boat graveyard at her house in Florida. (Not sure that’s her choice but she is more cheerful about it than I would be.) Anyway. “I don’t need t’ know no stinkin’ tricks. I can run this boat!” So said the GG. His brother, who owns the speedboat, came upon the scene as the GG was struggling to get his boat underway was, well we’ll just say that he was not terribly impressed. Understandably. I was remembering the time long ago when I watched the GG take off in one of Grandpa Garth’s little fishing boats without a plug. The Gumper was standing on the dock yelling, “put the plug in!” The GG, who couldn’t hear him, was merrily waving goodbye. I don’t think that was the time that the Gumper said, “twins were born with half brains”. Yes, I got along with my father-in-law and I miss him now.

That no-plug incident turned out fine and so did yesterday’s. The boat was stranded just off the dropoff a few cabins away and the GG managed to get the speedboat out there and tow the stranded boat to where everyone could get out and walk both boats back. Cocktail hour resumed. A lasagna dinner and “beach” fire followed (grass and seawall at Houghton Lake). It was a beautiful evening and I wanted it to go on forever.

P.S. Speaking of nieces! Some sappiness here? I was missing my 20-something daughters this weekend but I got to spend time “up north” with a few of my Courtois nieces, ranging in age from about 18 on up to 30-something. Man oh man, what beautiful young women! Beautiful inside and out. Gracious, proactively helpful and gracefully navigating the inevitable “stuff” that happens when a large, extended family spends extended time together in a relatively small space. Girls: I love you. Parents: whatever mistakes you might think you have made (and I have most certainly made mistakes too), your kids absolutely rock!

Sappily yours,

“Tweets” from the Houghton Lake Log, 1983 – 1992 edition

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

8/20/1984: Arrived 4:20 on the dot. The trip was awful and Kathy pulled over to yell at us kids. Betsy & Julia arrived at about 9:00. Julia was grouchy but I – Sally – cheered her up with a song.

2/8/1985: Dinner at Northshore bar. Elizabeth earned $10. Shoveled lots of snow.

2/10/1985: Timmy was up an hour or two before everyone else playing “Mr. Do” the video game.

5/11/1986: Some of the neighbors do not like guns. They might call the police, who will come to the cabin and say, “You cannot fire guns within 400 feet of any houses. [there may have been other similar episodes throughout the years….]

6/13/1986: Bill and Master Woodring discussed a duodecahedron full of duodecahedrons for *hours* on the way up and never did come to any conclusion (in fact, I’m not sure either of them knew what they were talking about). Elizabeth found the moon and pointed it out to the rest of us. -KW

5/7/1988: Donny threw up all over the garbage, the table & crying because his ear hurts. So I went to the store and got him Kids Tylenol. He threw that up too! Now this place *really* smells! Yuk! I see I’m going to have a wonderful Mother’s Day. -Grandmothertrucker.

8/8/1988: Today was cloudy and Julia ate part of an animal – gross (hamburgers). Grandpa bought a beautiful red boat. -Julia.

9/23/1988: Is this place a bachelor pad or a hardware store? -The GG.

6/16/1989: Ammo got hit by a car today!!! YIKES [pictures of tears everywhere] Ammo won’t be around any more. [alas, not everyone was exactly sad about that]

8/13/1989: Happy birthday Dave!! 2 years old today. Joanny forgot it was his birthday.

8/25/1989: KW, GG, Lizard, and Mouse arrive – nice weather but there are too many plastic orange juice and milk containers around here. [this must’ve been the infamous Bradenton Float Boat Contest episode. […or not…]]

1/27/1990: Elizabeth skied 2+ miles. This was Mouse’s second time on skis. [Hmmm, yeah, “I am *not* going on the Little Kid Loop. Waaaaaahhh.]

7/20/1990: Well. Today I made Courtois history. I was the first to write in crayon!

7/20/1990: My brother is being a weirdo. He says he made Courtois history.

7/22/1990: I’m making Courtois history. I am the first Courtois to write a sentence in this book with the pen in the mouth of this weird little rubber face. If Chris can be dumb and stupid, so can I.

12/1/1990: It’s vre nis i hop your plas is nis to. -Elizabeth.

12/1/1990: MOUSE [with upside down “M” and backwards “E”]

8/18/1991: Here with Susie. I hate spiders. There all over. -Renee.

9/11/1991: Chris and Mario shot out the street-light with their new slingshots before they went home. Someone saw them and called the police. Garth explained that *his* kids were all grown up…

10/27/1991: The water actually *receded* during the night so we can have breakfast here [at the cabin]. A good thing too since eating out with these fantastically picky kids is an ordeal and waste of money. [er, did you mean “fanatically picky”, young KW? (-: ]

10/27/1991: Everything is shut off for the winter. This place stinks and is a cluttered, dirty, dusty mess. It’s really nice. [Roight.]

2/15/1992: We are going skiing tonight!!! It will be fun very fun!!!! !!! – Elizabeth. [and it was! it was heaven on earth]

6/12/1992: I would like to put-put golf tomorrow so daddy said he might take me! -Elizabeth.

Same day: Too many bugs. -Tim.

10/10/1992: Today we whent up to petosckey and whet to a restraunt that only payed atention to the people at the bar so we left. WE NEED A NEW LOG!!!!!!!!!! – Elizabeth.

I think I need a pirate flag for this rig, don’t you?

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

I posted this photo on Twitter this afternoon along with the text “Hello, this is @kayakwoman here, actually kayaking (-:”. I feel as though I am a bit of a fraud on Twitter. I call myself @kayakwoman and I have all kinds of followers with names like @outdooryakguy or @xtremekayak or whatever (not sure if these are actual followers, just examples). But. Even though I absolutely love to kayak, I hardly ever post anything about kayaking. Because in my real life, I spend most of my time going to work, coming home, cobbling something together for dinner while blahgging and having a ‘hattan, and then crashing.

If I could come home from work, walk out the door, fling a kayak into a body of water, and take off, that would be one thing. Kayaking from the Landfill is not that simple. It involves a whole bunch o’ guzzinta. Schlepping kayaks around on the top of a vee-hickle. Spotting a second vee-hickle along the river so you don’t have to kayak umpteen miles back upstream to your starting point.

When we’re at Fin Family Moominbeach, it’s as easy as pie. You walk down to the beach, drag a kayak a few feet down to the water, fling it in, and go. If there aren’t five foot waves, that is. Last couple years? I have managed only dribs and drabs of time up at the Moominbeach and it seems like every time I do get up there, there’s a raging nor’wester going on. Too much action for my little 12-foot “sea” kayak. It likes a leetle bit of bounce. Five foot waves? Um, I don’t know the Eskimo Roll. Yes, that’s right. I don’t know the roll. I am a pretty strong amateur kayaker in calm conditions but growing up on Gitchee Gumee, I developed a great respect for the power of water and I just say no to anything extreme.

I kayaked twice last weekend at Fin Family Moominbeach. Just short rides. I kayaked around the point and into the canals today at Houghton Lake. I was out for an hour or more and I am burnt to a crisp now. Sunscreen? I don’t need no stinkin’ sunscreen. Or so I thought. Or more accurately, didn’t think. I am fried now. But I am back in my loverly little boat. I think I need to hoist a pirate flag on it! And obtain a parrot that will ride on my shoulder!

Kayak Woman

You may be in Ho Chi Minh City but *I* am in Fish Fly City

Friday, May 28th, 2010

This photo wasn’t taken today. It was taken June 19, 2004. I posted a version of that photo on my blahg back then too. And I remember MMCB emailing me something like “I am in Ho Chi Minh City”, to which I could only reply something like, “You may be in Ho Chi Minh City, but *I* am in Fish Fly City!” Those fish flies are hanging out on the Little Princess trailer. Actually they are probably dead. Fish flies only live for 24 hours or so, if I have it right. The Little Princess is long gone and, if memory serves me right, it was the fall of 2004 when we knocked the old Houghton Lake cabin down. The one that was sinking into the ground and flooded regularly. The one where you often shared your shower with a frog. The one where, when the rickety old oil furnace went on the fritz yet again, the furnace repair guy would laugh when you told him what model it was.

We have a new place here now. It isn’t a McMansion but it is new and clean and is raised far enough off the ground that it doesn’t flood and I’ve never seen a frog *inside* the cabin and you can come up here in the winter and flip a few switches and have hot running water and the whole works.

Our journey here today was tortuous. With the Dogha loaded to the gills and kayaks on the top, we navigated around the western and northern edges of the Motor City up to Addison Oaks County Park for the GG’s brother Don’s memorial. Not an easy route. No way to take the hypotenuse to get there. All right angles and even a bit of back-tracking here and there. After a few hours and more food that I normally eat in a whole day, we were on the road again. Same kind of scenarios. No direct route and even a six-mile *detour* at one point.

Finally, we were back on the I75 SUV Speedway, where we stopped at Tornado Rest Stop to switch drivers, before continuing our journey to the Great White North. Some people were really futzy and antsy today. I had my moments but, for the most part, I was able to stay in the zen of the moment. We are here. It is hot and humid and the fish flies are out.

I shot the sheriff…

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

…but I did not shoot the deputy.

Thanks to my long-suffering, cat-herding boss, this is the earworm that is now looping through my head. Here’s a Youtube clip. It’s long and there’s a bunch of noodling around* until about a minute into the thing. Play it or don’t. Actually, if you’re in my godforsaken generation, you probably have it on your iPod or whatever. Or not.

I am totally grateful to my long-suffering, cat-herding boss for getting this earworm into my head, thereby replacing the one that’s been in there most of the rest of the week. I am not gonna say what that was. Sorry. It wasn’t “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” and that’s all I’m gonna say.

The sheriff-shooting earworm got into my head while my boss and several co-workers were holding a powwow in the aisle by my cube. He was talking about a video game (hey, it was the end of the day) and I was half listening but I was also distracted by beating back a loverly little javascript buggie. It was cute but I killed it anyway. I heard the boss say, “I shot the sheriff,” and that snapped me to attention! We all chorused, “but did you shoot the deputy?” Yes, we are all in my godforsaken generation.

I am not going to try to describe my boss here today. That’s partly because it is never a good idea to blahg too much about your work because you might get dooced. Which is okay if you are the real dooce but I doubt that I could ever turn my stoopid old blawg, as Mouse used to call it when she was in high school, into a money-making venture, so I think I’ll try to keep my job. But I also won’t describe him because I really can’t. Because he really has to be “experienced”, as I once told a prospective student intern. Yes, he plays video games. I have indeed divulged that on these here tubes. I think he has that in common with maybe more than half the male population under about 65. And quite a few women too. You would be really surprised to hear about some of his other interests. Anyway, he’s a good boss. After all, he puts up with meeeeeee! And I’m not brown-nosing here because, although I’ve told him I am a blahgger, I highly doubt that he reads this. I have to add that he was not terribly happy about shooting sheriffs in that game. He likes to resolve things without violence if he can.

* I never got along with rock concerts very well even when I was a kid. To me, most of that noodling around got boring pretty fast, especially when it was just drumming. Not sure if that was because I was also a serious classical flutist or not. But I could do a whole entry about that and maybe one of these days, I will bore y’all with that…

Talkin’ ’bout my generation. Talkin’ ’bout my generation. My generation…

My favorite A holiday revisited

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

I kvetched about Mother’s Day a while back and this is what I actually did on Mother’s Day. Which was exactly what I wanted to do. No expensive cut roses had to compete with the usual Landfill clutter and cosmic debris and no fancy orchids had to die under my black thumb.

In the process, I think I hurt a few people’s feelings. Oh, maybe they didn’t feel hurt but, being a moom, I felt guilty about it anyway. If I have it right (and maybe I don’t), my beautiful and thoughtful California daughter called up the GG (aka her dad) and asked him to get me some flowers. I suspect, after hearing me kvetch about the roses and the orchid last year, he gave her a speech about how I didn’t want flowers.

Now, that’s kind of true. But I know this kid and I know she wasn’t thinking dozens of roses or fancy, fragile orchids. She may not remember this but I do. It was her senior year of college. She wasn’t home for Mother’s Day, which was absolutely fine with me. I only randomly spend Mother’s Day with The Commander and I would never try to guilt my kids into spending Mother’s Day with me. Actually, the GG and I had breakfast that morning with his older brother Don and the Lord of Linden. It wasn’t a Mother’s Day breakfast. It was just breakfast. But we weren’t home until later. And when we got home, on the front porch was a little bouquet of flowers from the farmer’s market or wherever. She had given a friend a few dollars and asked her to buy a little bouquet and deliver it to me. That was a kind of a strange spring for me. My brother and then my dad had died within the last year and I didn’t have a job, heck I didn’t even know what I wanted to DO with my life at that moment! I didn’t feel actively upset, but I was living in a fog and floating around rudderless, making every excuse to drive somewhere else where the fog might at least be a different color.

That little bouquet, from a college student paying her own rent on a work-study job, meant a lot to me. Roses? I don’t need no stinking roses. So, this year, I felt bad that the GG (I think) rebuffed her suggestion to get me flowers. But then, I had an inspiration. I do okay with Impatiens even when I forget to water them for a week or two or three. So we stopped off at the garden store and bought a couple of flats of them and the GG and I potted them and… Look at them now! They are thriving! I am remembering to water them. I even tasked Mouse to water them last weekend if it didn’t rain. I think they look beautiful!

Actually Froggy “honored” me on that old Mother’s Day four years ago. I am STILL trying to live that down!

Mumpy and grumpy

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Man, was I glad I had a job to go to today. I’m not sure how I would’ve spent my time today if I hadn’t had somewhere to go and something constructive to do. There were years when I didn’t have a job and, although we could [sort of] afford that, I have always been happier with a job. I usually get to work before anyone else on my team. We all work the same number of hours but we don’t punch a time clock and I tend to skew a bit earlier than some of the others. When I got there today, I heard this tiny little good morning coming from the general direction of my cube neighbor. But heck, she’s never there that early, so I figured it was somebody walking down the aisle greeting somebody else. So I ignored it. I settled in and got my work laptop faarrrred up for the day. And then. I heard key-clicks in the next cube! I jumped about a foot out of my chair! Lo and behold, it was indeed my neighbor who had come in early to finish an urgent prodject (intentionally misspelled). I don’t exactly know why but I was extra glad she was there this morning.

It was one of those nights last night. It is hot here on the Planet Ann Arbor but not anywhere near hot or humid enough for the grumpy old Kayak Woman to deign to turn on the central A/C that was installed a few years ago. Or even the big fan that vents out of the attic. No. “I wanna hear all the little birdies and froggies and skunkies and things,” she whined. And so KW went to bed with a cold wet washcloth draped around her neck. Yes, it is in the laundry today. But it was a restless night. Someone around here thinks they have the mumps. Yes, they do, and no, it is not me. I have a very clear memory of being diagnosed with the mumps. I was six years old and it was Christmas day and we were having our big family dinner at my doctor-uncle’s house. I didn’t feel good and The Commander finally marched me over to Dr. Don. He took ONE look and quite gleefully proclaimed, “She has the mumps!” Anyway, the suspected mumpy one was not sleeping well and so he was playing with his iPhone in bed WITH THE SOUND TURNED ON. He finally left for a different part of the house and then old KW got into one of those loop-like thought processes and couldn’t sleep. Maybe you know the kind? When I was young and played the flute constantly, I would be fingering new passages in my sleep (or non-sleep or whatever). And then when I got into the computer information technology business, I would be doing IF structures and DO loops and other programming things in my sleep. And then there was Sunday morning when I was at Fin Fam Moominbeach and had one of those AWFUL packing dreams! Where you are stuffing things into LL Bean duffel bags (or whatever) and you keep stuffing stuff in, but then more stuff appears magically and it has to be stuffed in too. In this particular rendition of that, I went on to a “dressing” scenario, where I was trying to get dressed FAST in a bathroom without a lock and every time I turned around, my damn BRA got lost. This went on over and over and over and over again. Geesh! I hate bras.

Uhh, where the heck was I? This morning? I don’t remember what kind of dreams I had exactly. At least they weren’t shoreline dreams. But I did that whole horrible loop-like thing instead. I woke up taaarrred and grumpy not mumpy but draaaaaaggggged myself outta bed to do my usual walking routine and chores and work. And there was this little good morning from my cube neighbor and, even though it was a long, rather slodgy day, somehow that little greeting started it out on the right foot.

Swing low, sweet lake of mine…

Monday, May 24th, 2010

This photo, taken at the Doelle end of Fin Family Moominbeach, is an indication of how low the water levels in Lake Superior are this year. This is not a river or a stream or a pong pond (pong?). Well, I guess it is sort of a pond in a way. Just not in a place where there are usually ponds. I mean, usually, that sand that I am standing on is under water.

I haven’t spent a whole lot of time looking up statistics on the Lake Superior water levels this time around. I don’t know if I really need to or not. I grew up on Lake Superior. That is, I spent my summers there and lived in Sault Ste. Siberia (15 miles to the east by road) for the rest of the year. One of my first memories is of lying on the back seat of the Old Black Ford listening to the wind susurrate through the pine trees when we turned onto Birch Point Road, which was gravel back then, don’tcha know. Actually, Six Mile was gravel too. I was five months old. No child seats in those days. By the time I was in elementary school and had a little brother, I/we would bug the living daylights out of our parents to move out to the cabin for the summer the very next day after school got out in June. Even though it was usually colder than blue blazes out there in June. “Mom/Betty/Bubs/Katie/Barb/Grandma, will you watch us swim?” “Yes, just let me get my winter jacket.” When we moved out, The Commander would always issue my brother and I a bushel basket each to pack our clothing and other belongings in. She would pack up the kitchen stuff and the dog and off we’d go.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that the water levels dropped so low that islands would form in the shallow parts of the sandbar system off of our beach unless there was a seiche. Seiche!! A seiche was a rare event that would always send some kid running like heck to alert everyone on the beach. Seiche!!! Everyone would go running down to the beach and out onto all the sandbars. Those sandbars that were usually under water. For my Pacific Ocean area readers, a seiche is a little like a tide except that it only happens when there are unstable weather conditions over the Great Lakes (i.e., thunderstorms). The moon may have some sort of effect on our large lakes but it is negligible to the human eye.

Our beach has always been beautiful but in a crazy sort of way, I love when the water is low because it makes the beach even wider and more beautiful. Alas, I know that it is bad when the largest (probably need to verify that…) fresh-water lake in the world is losing water. Still, I am reluctant to ascribe (is that a word?) this to global warming or climate change. I think that those are important issues and I think that we should all continue to try to use less and conserve energy, et al. But Lake Superior’s levels have been going up and down since whichever ice age created it and we just don’t have records going back that far. So who knows?

Guest blahg from Uber Kayak Woman

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

I am sure y’all (you know, all 5 of you) are dead tired of hearing from me every day. So today I am hosting Uber Kayak Woman as a guest blahgger. Uber Kayak Woman is also known as my cousin Aimée. She and her son and his significant other have recently returned from a month of hiking the Camino in Spain. They undertook this pilgrimage in honor of her mother Radical Betty, who died last September. UKW’s description of their trip is below. The photos were taken by her son Robyn, and are posted with permission. Click on any of the photos for a larger view.



For hundreds of years pilgrims, or peregrinos, have been trekking on foot, 500 miles across northern Spain, towards the cathedral in Santiago that houses the remains of St. James. Those who make the trek successfully this holy year earn a “compostella” that reputedly forgives not only their past sins, but their future ones as well. We are still mulling over that concept, wondering what changes that would imply in life.

We walked in Radical Betty’s footsteps, as she and Bugs and Horsey walked the Camino years before. It was our way of saying “vaya con Dios” to Betty’s feisty and adventurous spirit.

Step by step the journey happens, but not without a certain amount of foot pain, shoulder pain, blisters, tendonitis, and gastrointestinal distress. We did escape the bed bugs. Powered by wonderfully strong coffee, cervesa and fabulous wine. . . We started out consuming the readily available bocodillo sandwiches on baguettes, and after one too many wound up avoiding them searching for soups and such. Traditional gallego, aho, and marisco soups were wonderful. Paella at the coast was unforgettable, and we even were fed acorn barnacles on the house.

As modern peregrinos we chose to walk the mountainous parts of the Camino. We did not have the time to travel the whole way. We carried cell phones, which were very useful along the way. The “way” is marked with the yellow arrows that carry you through many mazes of trails, roads, and even through large cities. I still am trying to imagine a route through our large cities, with people walking through city centers, and the outskirts of the cities. . . even with my active imagination, I can’t quite picture it!

We loved the “STOP” signs in Spain. A cab driver said that those signs were used because there were so many languages in Spain, and everyone understood “STOP”. We did travel through three distinct language regions, but we are still wondering about the possibility of a bulk discount government purchase. . .

The cathedrals all along the way are ornate, some with long histories, most still used. It was stork nesting season, and the storks love the tallest spires. Sometimes you can find piles of sticks down below that have fallen from the nest. In some of the smaller villages they have a tactic of building a taller post, near the church spire, that has a conveniently flat platform atop to tempt the storks away from the church. They are beautiful large birds, and we got to see young in the nests. They are supposed to be good luck too, which is why their nests remain undisturbed on the church spires.

The Camino is now being traversed by bikers; with routes for both mountain bikes and road bikes. Certainly it is a faster way to accrue kilometers. The mountain bikers terrorize the walkers, reluctant to use their brakes. A dutch man who rode his road bike from home lingered over a second cup of coffee with me, confessing that every day he dreaded getting on the seat of his bike, as it would be painful for a while each morning. With the amount of foot pain we endured, more at the end of the day, I was quite sympathetic.

Hundreds of miles of Camino later we are home now, with a different perspective on the power of foot travel.

Buen Camino!

Happy 29th that isn’t

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

29 years ago yesterday, the GG and I picked up my [step]-grandmother in Birmingham (MI) and drove north. We dropped her off in Sault Ste. Siberia and continued on up to Houghton, MI. My brother (The Engineer) and DogMomster were graduating from college the next day. Oh yeah, and they were also getting married.

Of course we drove up on the eve of graduation to party. What else? The parents and Bolette drove up the next day. The old coot hit a deer on the way. It was the second (and last) accident of his life. And his second deer. Both in the same spot on the Seney Stretch. I guess that spot was just bad karma for the guy who later became Grandroobly.

The GG and I didn’t go to the graduation. That was okay with us. We drove up through the Keewenau Peninsula to Copper Harbor instead. We did make it back in time for the wedding. Mrs. Regenstreif and her “baby” (also an MTU student at the time) were there too. I don’t remember much else for the moment.

My little brother got married before I did. I think that kind of thing might have mattered sometime in the Jurassic Age. It didn’t much matter to me. The GG and I got married a year later and we then had the first grandchild (on one side, she was 12th on the other side). My bio-clock had started to tick big-time by then.

It would’ve been the 29th for my bro’ and DogMomster today. He bowed out almost five years ago. I’m beyond ending this gracefully. If you are reading this, please take a moment to toast the 29th that isn’t.

goodnight, –KW

Wretched Excess phone

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I do not think we will need to buy any new beach towels for this place for about the next 1000 years. Or LL Bean style comforters. Or blankets or sheets. Or garbage bags for that matter. Because garbage bags are what you store all that stuff in for the winter. To keep it away from the moths. And the mice and things. Not that we’ve ever had moths or mice around here, knock on wood big time. I won’t bother to go into too much detail about all the kitchen stuff. The Commander comandeered that space and arranged it to fit her own requirements. I did hear her mumbling about how many sets of steak knives (yes sets) and maybe some of the grandchilden could use some. And I suppose maybe they could although I think my kids only eat steak when I cook it and they are being polite.

Anyway, I guess The Commander was less than thrilled with all of my flailing around in *her* kitchen yesterday because I was obviously not welcome. So I headed up the ladder and started to work on sorting out the mess I made last September when we closed the place up for the winter. It was a mess! Some vague memories of flinging bedding randomly into garbage bags slowly came into focus.

I spent a bit of time this morning pulling bedding out of all those garbage bags and trying to make my feeble brain put some order into the chaos. I mucked around under the eaves and collected all of the garbage bags into one and chucked it off to one side. We are not doing compulsive hoarding around here. This is just the result of 50 years of multiple-generational cabin life.

I laughed when Pengo Janetto came upstairs as I was mucking around under the eaves and said that she used to be afraid of the eaves. But I also understood. Of course, an opening in the wall leading to a dark space could harbor all kinds of ghosties and goblins and spitfires and things for a young child. I’m scared of under the eaves too but more for the adult reason of trying to store more stuff there than the structure can withstand. The eaves (and the whole second story) weren’t there until I was 30. Pengo has never known anything different. Under the eaves is the 1990s equivalent of the vampires I used to have to fight off at the outhouse.

The sheets and towels and things are still disorganized. I did my best for the time being. The Commander has the kitchen arranged the way she wants it. I have taken my first kayak ride. Summer has begun and it’s gonna be in the 90s here next week. Which is a little scary. But I won’t be here…

Good night. –KW

Posted from my loverly iPhone. Corrections and edits will undoubtedly happen when I faaarr up my MacBook at the Dancing Crane tomorrow morning.

Can I sit down now?

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Okay. Up at 0-skunk-30. Clunkety-clunkety-clunk up to Sault Ste. Siberia. Lunch with The Commander at Clyde’s Drive-In. Then grokkeries @ Glen’s and FINALLY out to the Moominbeach. I was totally fried by the time I finally got here. I needed to walk but I couldn’t do that quite yet, until I was finished flinging grokkeries around and chopping stuff for dinner. Whoof… I finally got my walk. A freighter (the Clarke) was going up and something else was going down and they did 3 long 2 short salutes. Today was my first beach walk of the summer and I couldn’t help thinking that Grandroobly and the Engineer had infiltrated those boats to salute me.

And so I walked to the end of the beach and when I turned around, a woman was walking toward me. Man oh man, for about the last billion years, that woman would have been Radical Betty. Sigh. Not today.

I’m doing this on the iPad. It works but it’s not all that easy to type.

Good night and the north shall rise again.

Paradigm shift

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

There is no food in the house. Well, that’s not exactly true. Just nothing dinner-worthy. Canned goods and ramen noodles and Cheerios and stuff. Frozen lasagna. The homemade kind. But I’m sort of lasagna-ed out for the moment. The cupboard is so bare, I had to stop at the Plum Market on the way to work this morning to grab some salad for lunch. I planned for this old mother hubbard cupboard stuff. I’m heading north at 0-skunk-30 tomorrow morning and I didn’t want to leave a whole bunch of food around. I know I’ll be bringing home leftovers and stuff we buy that The Commander doesn’t want to be saddled with. Honestly, if we were going to stay at The Commander’s house in town, it would be easier to go out to eat. But we’re not. We’re going to bunk at Fin Family Moominbeach and I would much rather be barbecuing on the deck, drinking a ‘hattan and watching for bears and stuff. I know I will be bringing leftovers home. And so summer will begin.

So, there’s no food here and that’s good. But the problem became what to eat for dinner? I am used to eating alone and foraging around for leftovers or walking over to the Plum Market for takeouts or one little piece of salmon or whatever. I’ve been doing it off and on for all the years the beach urchins have been off at college and then life, whenever the GG has been out of town. I enjoy having some alone time. It’s a kind of flip side to all the years when you are so wrapped up in taking care of babies and small children that by the end of the day, you feel as though if you are touched one more time, you will explode or something. And then when you finally do get a few moments to yourself in the dead of night, you start to drift off to sleep and somebody is sick or something. But time does go by and before you know it, you are the moom of grown-ups and you have time to contemplate life, the universe, and everything. If you are lucky, you can maybe even do something for yourself, like go back to school and study something that you *love* that might even lead to a job that you don’t think you want and then end up loving, yada yada yada. There may even be some days when you have more time to think about yourself than might be a good thing. Today was one of those days. I was home alone all weekend and I loved it. I usually do. But at some point during the weekend, I had a kind of deja-vu moment. I was looking out the front door. I had my urban hiking/work clothes on and my bushy blonde gray hair was pulled back into a messy pony-tail. I felt like I had been there before except that it was my future. An old lady living alone, her children and grandchildren living far away, watching all the young folks go by with their dogs and babies and things. I don’t really know what the future will bring but I suspect there are many vigorously active years ahead of me. I shook it off.

Today? I could’ve come home and foraged for dinner. I could’ve spent the evening alone. I’d’ve been fine. Instead, what the heck, Mouse lives downtown. I texted her to ask if she was working tonight and, since she wasn’t, I took her out to dinner at Seva. I drove the couple miles to her house and we walked from there. It was just the ticket. *Now* I am home, packing and blahgging and rattling around. Happy to be alone but not a bit lonely.

Good night –KW

P.S. Those fleurs are in front of Mouse’s house. I dunno what they are.

You do not want to know what I did today

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Not that I did anything opprobrious or scurrilous or contumelious or even just plain old barbaric or scandalous or outrageous. Nope. Just a long, head-banging day of trying to translate requirements from the good old command line days to the new world of the wonderful world wide web. A couple of you might have a vague idea of what I’m talking about. Everybody else, please just go about your lives. I’ve got my little corner of the universe covered (sort of) and you can cover yours.

Fortunately other folks had more interesting things to talk about or, link to, for the most part.

First of all, all of the hand-wringing and outrage about Facebook privacy settings. C’mon you guys. Facebook is a social network. It is on the *Internet*. Since when has the Internet been a logical place to write about things that you don’t want everybody and his eighth “cuzzint” 12 times removed to see. Not to mention our friends on the planet Zephron III, who are at this moment realizing how easy it will be for them to take over the planet Earth because we are all wusses. A social network is built for connecting with people. If you don’t want someone to know what color underwear you wear, don’t post it. Once, when I was about eight, I was riding my bike and the pair of green underwear I was wearing was showing a bit above my pants and my loverly best friend Laurie teased me unmercifully about having green underwear. I’m pretty sure she “tweeted” that to all of her friends at the Catholic school she went to and maybe some of the kids at my public school. I was pretty careful about where I wore that pair of underwear after that. Blah-de-blah-de-blah. This guy (retweeted by @agategal yesterday) says it all better than I can.

What’s up next? Hmmm… I’ve blahgged about my own varying experiences with the local Apple Store. The good, the bad, and the ugly (too burned out to look them up on my blahg — again). The salesfolk can be cool or they can be condescending (I’ve never dealt with the so-called geniuses). Sometimes the place seems somewhat organized, sometimes not. But what is up with requiring folks to have a damn credit card to buy an iPad? Seems to me that this demographic (low-income, “underbanked” [what?]) should be one of Apple’s target markets for the iPad!!!! !!! !!! !!! !!! Er, sorry. Got stuck with the exclamation marks there. This is via @redcrew re-tweeting on Twitter

What else? This in from @DogMomster on Twitter: Apparently there is a gargantuan brush faaarrrr somewhere in the general area east of Grayling. That’s the only relevant link I’ve been able to find. I wish it had a map. If anyone can find a better link, I’d love to know about it. I hope the faaarrrr is contained by the time I drive north a few days from now…

Last but not least… Froggy wants me to link to his friend Green Guy’s latest video which was tweeted by his owner @elizilla. You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch. But you are very cooooool.

That is all. Goodnight. -KW

One of those kinds of days. You know, the kind of day when the talking moose gets into the system folder.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I got to work early this morning. Everything was fine. I put my empty egg carton in the the chicken lady’s collection box. I faarrred up my work laptop. Everything was fine. I faarrrred up my email application. Still okay. Then I tried my I/M application. 3ljdsoifjlk3kldlk##$$dd. It was worse than the notorious old “You have performed an illegal operation” message. Total gobblety-gook. Tried it again. 3liij2l383k##4h2@. Shut down computer. Faaarrrred up again. And had to change my password. Okay. Haaaannnnnnng there for a while and then The Blue Screen Of Death. I held my breath for the longest time. Just as I was about to hit the panic button, the old blue screen morphed into my loverly cluttered desktop. And my I/M app started up without a hitch. Sigh of relief.

Once, back in the day, I was trying to faarrrrr up our old Macintosh Plus. We were just barely past the days when you had to boot up by inserting a floppy disk into the disk drive. I can’t remember whether our hard drive was internal or external but all we had to do was turn on the computer and it would boot up. That was a luxury! Except for this one day. I turned on the computer. It started up with a smiley face. It gave me all the nice, happy messages I was expecting. We got almost all the way to the loverly cluttered desktop and… KABOOOM!!! I tried again. And again. And over and over again. KABOOM KABOOM KABOOMITY BOOMITY BOOM BOOM! #%@&! What is going on? Finally, in exasperation and some trepidation, I called the GG at work. I was expecting a long drawn-out diagnostic process to ensue, with calls to various Apple support folks. But no. He immediately replied, “Oh, the talking moose must be in the system folder again.” SAY WHAT??? Er, whaddya mean, again? The remedy for that? Dredge around for an old floppy boot disk, put that in the floppy drive, boot up the computer, and REMOVE THE TALKING MOOSE FROM THE SYSTEM FOLDER!! Worked like a charm.

And guess what? Apparently, the Talking Moose is still around after all these years. Think I should download him?

What go-oes up… must go-o down… doo-dah-doo

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Spinnin’ wheel, got to go ’round… (That’s what you get when you search Youtube for “spinning wheel”.) It has been a wonderful, long overdue Moom Alone Weekend and I have gotten a lot of stuff done but not everything I wanted to because there were more than a few lazy bits. I was hanging around with my MacBook in the Landfill Chitchen during one of those lazy bits when someone banged in the front door! Say what? The GG was moiles away. 350 or thereabouts. He had just emailed me a Beach Day photooo from Fin Family Moominbeach, through the front window of the cabin, which means he has those dad-blasted storm windows off and that’s a good thing.

Turns out it wasn’t some lunatic, only Mouse, home from a weekend manning a table (with a friend) at a fiber festival somewhere on the west side of the state. She was inspired to spin and so wanted to move her spinning wheel from its current storage space on top of the Red Piano to her house downtown. (I hope Mouse doesn’t mind me blahgging her today.)

That’s my mouse. One bitterly cold January Sunday way back when, we took our kids and a friend of the older one to the Henry Ford Museum (beware, it AUTO-plays a video with MUSIC). There were lots of activities for children that day and I don’t *think* anyone threw up but I can’t quite remember. Anyway, one of the activities had to do with quilting and the kids had to hand-sew some patches together or something like that. Okay, we’ll try this. 1st grade girls and an almost-4-year-old. And there was my “baby”, the tiny little Mouse, working with needle and thread to make tiny, perfect, little stitches. The older kids? Not as good. Not as interested! They are both very intelligent people who can probably deal with a needle and thread quite competently when they need to. Mouse? Mouse went on and on and on with fiber arts. She is an expert knitter. People often think that I taught her this. Uh, no. Knitting? I know how. I do not know how to make my own patterns and stuff. Like Mouse does. I’m not even sure I taught her the beginning stitches. I am not very patient. I think maybe The Commander (my moom, her grandmoom) was her first teacher. Spinning? I have no clue. Sewing? I am pretty good at that. I do not design patterns. That is rocket science. Mouse is expert at that too.

Here are a couple links to Blood Sweat & Tears videos of Spinning Wheel. Yay for the brasses and the second link is purportedly from Woodstock.

There are a few things in my yard (besides weeds) that manage to defy my black thumb.

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

It’s a Mayapple. They are all over the “garden” at the back of my back yard, which bumps up against the little mini-woods between my yard and the schoolyard. I have never seen a mayapple in bloom before and they are probably still living back there after all these years *only* because sometime back in the Jurassic Age, a nature person (you know the kind), got all excited about them. I couldn’t figure it out. I thought they were just big leafy things. I have big leafy things all over my yard. Most of them qualify as weeds. Of course, if you go by what The Botanist says, “A weed is any plant that’s growing where you don’t want it to grow.” Something like that. So says Sam the Archaeologist and she would know because she has toiled in The Botanist’s bountiful garden many a year.

Today was a nice tinker-y kind of day. I ran my Roomba through her paces and cleaned my garbage and recycle containers and did some laundry and went to a couple of grokkery stores and made some lasagne sauce. One of the Houghton Lake web cams got dropped and now takes fuzzy photooos so I decided to put a message on those pages that we knew about the problem and had ordered a new one. Because the whole Courtois fam and a fair number of other folks check the Houghton Lake webcams frequently, don’tcha know. While I was doing that, I cleaned up the html. I don’t know who created those pages, I don’t think it was me but it was fun cleaning them up so they passed the dreaded validator. (P.S. I know my blahg doesn’t validate so don’t bother to tell me that ’cause I don’t have time to care.)

And then I dredged around for some, um, gardening glubs and dragged the handy-dandy Planet Ann Arbor compost cart to the back yard and, uh, well, you have to start somewhere, don’t you. Even if you have a black thumb. I decided to start with the stuff that I *know* actually lives. Some irises and tiger lilies and things. So I was weeding stuff from around those (I *do* know what dandelions and things look like) and I looked to the right. What was that big round white thing? Hello. An actual mayapple flower!

So I am encouraged. My house is almost kinda sorta clean. Please do not wear white gloves (or glasses) when you visit. The Chitchen and the Blue and Only Bathroom are always clean. My refrigerator is almost empty, which is just how I want it to be right now before the chaos of the coming summer season descends. And my yard doesn’t actually look totally bad and there are a few things besides weeds that grow despite my best efforts to destroy them.

P.S. Haven’t found anything with urushiol oil in it yet. Fingers crossed. Er, and knock on wood…

where the heck is that high-pressure hose nozzle that I use to clean out the garbage cart?

Friday, May 14th, 2010

This is my yard at the old house on Superior Street. It is sunset in this photooo. That house is the neighbor’s to the north. Lemme think who lived there. There was a stream of folks. Harshbargers were there for a while and for some reason, I thought that the phrase “Harshbarger’s nose” was absolutely roll on the floor laughing hilarious. I have no idea why. I don’t remember what a Harshbarger looked like. And there were the Propsveldts (y’all, I do NOT know how to spell any of these names) later on, who had kids just a bit younger than me. I’m sure I teased them. There was a toilet in the basement of that house that sometimes flushed itself and once the mom of the house (I don’t remember that family’s name) was home alone at night with her five kids or whatever it was and she took a baseball bat downstairs. I am in the Courtois family now and I have learned that a toilet is not normally something to panic about. Back behind that house you can see the Malette’s house whose daughter Connie was one of our long-suffering baby-sitters. I do not think The Engineer and I were very well behaved kids with most baby-sitters, even the ones we liked, and Connie was one of those. I guess she did it for the money. That big smokestack in the background belongs to Lincoln School. I red-queened over there every morning until I decided (alas) that I was too cool for red-queening.

You can’t see our little white house in the photooo. And the garden is just to the left of that person in the summer pajamas and probably a diaper. A nice, wet cloth one, no doubt. I remember wearing summer pajamas similar to those when I was a little older, five maybe. I’m sure I had survived the throes of toilet training by then but one hot spring night, I kept asking for Fizzies (who remembers those) over and over and over again. More Fizzies! The Commander finally said, “You are going to wet your bed if you drink any more Fizzies.” “Oh, no, I’m not.” Roight. I can still remember getting up in the morning in rather damp pajamas.

The title? Well. Welcome to the world of Garbage Woman on a day when our handy dandy A2 Garbage Cart stinks absolutely to high heaven. I swear, when my work friend Cynthia visits friends in the neighborhood this weekend, she will be able to find my own personal Landfill by the smell. I need to clean that thing out. I can’t find a decent high-pressure nozzle anywhere around here. I know there is one somewhere. Since I don’t know where, I’m gonna buy myself a new one tomorrow morning. That is all.


Thursday, May 13th, 2010

That is about all you’re gonna get outta me tonight. The plan here was to have dinner at Knight’s Steakhouse. At the end of today, I didn’t even have the psychological energy for that. I wanted to come home, dress down, and stay home. I wasn’t all that hungry either.

Today I just barely managed to take my morning walk before the predicted rainstorms started to roll in. I was a couple blocks away from the schoolyard, heading home, when I started to hear thunder rumbling around in the distance. I got pretty wet by the time I was home but the torrential rains didn’t start until about the time I wanted to head off to work. My little commute was only marginally easier than it is when I have to plow through six inches of snow. It was a little less slippery today but man, there were some deep puddles. I was wishing that the Dogha was outfitted with extensible pontoons more than a few times. I did make it and then I banged my head back and forth between two of my specs for the entire day. I didn’t go for a walk at lunch because I didn’t want to have wet feet all afternoon and then finally at about three o’clock, I couldn’t stand it any more, so I did go out and walk for 20 minutes or so and my feet were wet for the rest of the afternoon but my head was clear. Sort of…

That is all. It is sunny now but did I just hear a bit of thunder?

Y’know, I can’t complain about the weather. We are really not in an area that ever floods in the kind of way that a lot of other folks experience from time to time. Our basement did not get wet at all for many years and then, a few years ago, some sort of crack developed in the wall behind the dryer. Hurricane Ike also caused some problems. And that’s just the basement! The Huron River sometimes overflows its banks a bit but it would take an exponentially larger amount of rain than we have ever had here to flood the main floor of my house and most of the other houses on the Planet.

And they all get put in boxes and they all come out the same

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Text boxes and checkboxes and dropdown select boxes and and and… Radio buttons!!! I suspect I will be dreaming about the bits and pieces that make up web user interface design tonight. When I am not trying to flowchart things in my sleep. I suppose that beats shoreline dreams. This will be the result of an “all day” meeting (five hours with pizza in the middle) to go through new designs with our wonderful developers, who always come up with wonderful questions which we often answer with something along the lines of “duuuhhh”. And then return to the drawing board for a bit. This afternoon? Brain = mush. That is an equation. Yes, it is! Pizza was good though (and greasy) and I WAS HUNGRY!!! (A little grease is good for you. Yes, it is.)

Getting out of the box a little bit. In this case, I mean the grokkery shopping box. I think it is time for the male member of the household to take on a little bit of the grokkery shopping responsibility. I don’t mean that I want him to start doing the meal planning. We’d probably be eating a lot of things out of cans in that case and, anyway, I like to do the planning. Hmm, I can’t believe I just wrote that! Meal planning has driven me NUTS for about the last 10 years. But it’s something I used to enjoy and I am trying to enjoy it again with the help of a nice up-scale grokkery store within walking distance. But I don’t do snacks very well. Back in the days before the beach urchins could actually drive themselves to the grokkery store and buy things with their own money my debit card, they were often with me at the store and you better believe we bought snacks. Moom, can we have this? Moom, can we have that? Moom, we NEEEEEEED that! There was always junk food around here, often to the point where it would get stale and I would have to throw it out. Now? I am almost always at the grokkery store alone. Sometimes Mouse goes with me but she is a healthier eater than I am nowadays and not the snack hound she once was. So. I propose that the GG actually make a weekly run to a grokkery store of his choice and fill up on whatever chips, dips, and jerky he wants. Er, except for ostrich jerky. That stuff can stink up a whole automotive vee-hickle and it did that once in my experience. Fortunately, it was the Uncly Uncle’s Caddy-lac, not one of our vee-hickles.

I think I am done. I could talk about all the boxes of junk that are in the Landfill Dungeon but I don’t want to go there and y’all don’t want to read about it.

G’night. -KW