Archive for June, 2010

Tree cave

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I have a new lunchtime walk. I work in a “business park” south of the little Planet Ann Arbor Airport. Our park used to be a farm. The owner was Mr. Avis. Maybe you’ve heard of Avis Car Rental? Some of my co-workers have been around long enough to remember Mr. Avis being driven around the grounds of his business park in a golf cart. Me? I had to google where the heck Avis Drive was when I went in for my first interview. Avis? Hmmm, sounds like a car rental place…

I have a loverly little eight-mile commute. I’d like it better if I could walk to work but this isn’t too bad. It takes some doing to run errands during my lunch hour. It is a half mile or so just to get out of the park. But I sometimes do run errands. More often, I take a walk. My systems analyst user design type job is, let’s face it, sedentary, although it takes my brain into wormholes you can only imagine. Alzheimer’s? As long as I have this job, you won’t be gettin’ me! But I am not a sedentary person and I need to get out and walk or whatever during my lunch hour.

There is a built-in nature trail in our business park that I can walk and I did that for a long time. The problem with that is that it is all pavement and there’s a pretty long trek through parking lots, etc., to get there and then there are all those biz-caz-tennis-shoe folks I have to say hi to. And I don’t mind that. It’s just that I don’t feel like I’m really part of that type of lunchtime exercise crowd. Even though I, er, am doing exactly that.

I have devised a new route! It involves a walk across grassland (admittedly, it’s mowed) and ends in a tree cave to die for! And nobody else ever seems to walk over there. Photos below, click to enlarge. These are from my iPhone. I actually like the iPhone camera but it is what it is and the bright sunlight and high winds interfered somewhat.



Apparently I have arrived…

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Alas, I didn’t arrive at the moominbeach on the day that the Full Circle Superior folks (who are walking around Lake Superior) walked it, which was today. I know because I follow them on Facebook and this afternoon they posted (from my fave Dancing Crane Coffeehouse) that they had made it to Brimley State Park. I commented to the effect that “my” beach was a half mile east of the Birch Point range light and that I was sorry I couldn’t be there to wish them well. I didn’t expect a reply. I know that with the logistics of the trip and sometimes spotty internet connection, not to mention the number of people following them, they can’t reply to every little off-hand comment. So I was elated to receive the reply, “We walked by your place this morning.” Judging by the photos they posted, it looks like they might have also walked the Jim Finlayson Nature Trail (named after my brother, the engineer in the sky). At the least, they walked some of the Little Traverse Conservancy property that once belonged to our family.

I felt unexpectedly emotional about this transient little internet encounter with some other folks who love Gitchee Gumee as much as I do. Folks that I have never met and probably never will. Fortunately, various people at work were in rare form today and the hi-jinks going on around there provided a nice counterpoint to any eye-watering/mascara-running I might have otherwise indulged in. (Yes, I do wear make-up but most people don’t know it these days.)

The Full Circle Superior folks are about to cross over into Ontario to begin the second half of their journey. Godspeed!


Monday, June 28th, 2010

I refer to the moominbeach on here a lot but I never explain what it is. The moominbeach is the Lake Superior beach and surrounding land that Grandberry (my grandfather) and two of his friends purchased in the 1920s. They built log cabins there and brought their families out to live during the summer. (My grandfather probably shoots lightning bolts every time I refer to the place as the moominbeach.) The beach is close enough to Sault Ste. Siberia that, even back in those days, you could commute to work. Although I’m told that Grandberry actually commuted by train from the Soo to a siding called Gladys and walked the last mile or so. Those train tracks were long gone by the time I was born, I think, but you can still walk on the old grade and I used to do that with my dad. He would point out where Gladys was but I don’t think I can recognize it now. Maybe the GG can…

That’s Radical Betty in the photooo. She’s my dad’s sister and she’s playing faarrr chief in that photoooo and she was my fave. Actually, that’s not the right word. I love all of my aunts and I didn’t *love* RB any more than the others. But I had a rather different relationship with RB and I can’t remember off-hand the African word that my “cuzzint” Uber Kayak Woman used to describe my relationship with her mother. Betty was someone I could talk to about stuff that, well, I couldn’t necessarily talk to my own mother about, not that I have a bad relationship with The Commander. Heck, sometimes I could talk to Betty *about* my mother. They met in college and that’s how The Commander met my dad. They were friends and then sisters-in-law for a looonnnng time. They may not have agreed about everything but I never knew it. In my memory, they loved each other, were there for each other, and they laughed a LOT! Even on the days when there wasn’t a whole lot to laugh about. Even when I was a kid, I loved having Betty around.

Radical Betty died at the end of last summer and I have posted about that but I don’t think I have ever posted my feelings about her. And I am not going to do that tonight, at least not comprehensively. That’s partly because I haven’t totally processed them yet, not that a person is ever finished processing the feelings they have/had for a beloved friend or relative that has died. But over the weekend, when I was slugging around down on the moominbeach, it was deserted, and I didn’t think I was lonely, because I like to walk the beach alone. But I was lonely. So many times in my life, I would be walking the beach and Radical Betty would be coming along and we would meet and walk together. Not any more. Well, I am sure she is walking with me some of the time but I can’t necessarily talk to her any more.

Anyway. In the photooo, Radical Betty has her faaaarrr chief hat on. It’s too long and complicated to explain but, after many years of no road access to one end of our beach, the folks who owned land down there manned up and built a huge road over some major wetlands. And now we have neighbors down there. This photooo is from 2003 and those folks had built a beach faaarrr down there one night that was STILL SMOLDERING THE NEXT MORNING. Um, we don’t do that kind of thing on our beach. There is a forest there and we do not want a forest fire. Betty and I discovered the smoldering fire down there with no one anywhere in the vicinity and I swear, she was breathing faaarrrr out of her nostrils! We cruised back down the beach to the drywall bucket depository (whaddya mean, what’s a drywall bucket depository? Don’tcha all have one o’ those?) grabbed buckets and put that faaaarrrr completely out. Fun times? Yes. Miss you Betty!

where am i, how do i…

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

I walked the beach this morning. The almost always deserted moominbeach that my family owns with a couple other families. Even though I was scheduled to provide a small pancake breakfast to some of our dwindling numbers of family members, I hung out down on the beach, listening to the lake freighters blow their foghorns. I walked up over the bank and found a red pine that was covered with beautiful spiderwebs. I sat a while longer. Checked Twitter and Facebook and Email. Yes, I am bad in the bad old days of the 21st century. Round Island eventually began to emerge out of the fog and so I went hucklety-buck. The Grinch was scheduled to have breakfast with us and I had to get cracking. And… I haven’t made pancakes for a really long time but even though I used a different recipe than I used to (the old Betty Crocker vs. the old Joy of Cooking) and even though I had to substitute a couple of ingredients (butter for shortening, for one), they were fine! At the end, I had even recovered my pancake making mojo!! And yes, there was bacon. Oh yes!!! But not enough. There is never enough bacon.

And then, we hit the darn I75 SUV Speedway back down to the Landfill and work and our life on the Planet Ann Arbor. It was not a fun drive. It featured many many moiles of huge rainstorms. The kind where you can’t see what’s in front of you. There was a lot of traffic and there were brakelights everywhere. For a while I got off the dern freeway and drove down the old highway that parallels it. It wasn’t much better. There weren’t a lot of vee-hickles but there was so much standing water on the road that I was afraid we were gonna hydro-plane or something.

We’re home and we didn’t hydro-plane and and and and the next couple weeks are gonna be intense and goodnight and I love y’all.

Land of the midnight 10 o-clock sun

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Best laid plans? Yeah, that would be yesterday. A morning of running errands with The Commander ended with lunch at Clyde’s Drive-In, then the grokkery store, and finally out to the cabin, where we expected to while away the afternoon tinkering with various little prodjects (intentionally misspelled) and slugging around on the beach. All the usual stuff. Problem. The Commander didn’t really feel quite right all of a sudden. She was having just a wee bit of trouble getting enough air. Hmmm… The Commander is healthier than a lot of folks *my* age and has absolutely no history of respiratory problems whatsoever so, with little ado, we formed a little expotition (also intentionally misspelled — think Winnie the Pooh here) into the ER at good old War Memorial.

They wasted no time triaging her into an ER room where they performed just about every test under the sun and then some. Nothing. Well except for just a wee bit of crackling in one of the lungs. I forget which. Eventually we were bounced out with a prescription for an antibiotic. The Comm was in fine form by then and was talking the ears off of everyone who came in the room, MacMullan Blindsides left and right. Oh, you don’t know what a MacMullan Blindside is? Well. It is when you are having a perfectly rational conversation with The Commander about, oh I dunno, say mushrooms and all of a sudden, she is talking about great aunt Maude’s underwear and you are still talking about mushrooms and you can’t figure out when or why she shifted gears. Anyway, because Fin Family Moominbeach is in the land of the midnight 10 o-clock sun at this time of year, we got back out to the cabin in time to enjoy the last couple hours of daylight over a barbecued chicken dinner cooked by the GG, who I booted out of the ER a couple hours before we left because he was getting a little antsy with The Commander’s cudgel.

I knew she was totally on the mend this morning when I heard myself ending one of those psychologically draining kinds of conversations that baggy old bags like me have with their mothers, maybe you know the kind, by saying something like, “I have my own darn money and my own darn vee-hickle and if I wanna buy bathroom cleaner, I’m gonna go buy bathroom cleaner.”

And now for a little multiple choice question: Why will KW get in trouble for posting this blahg entry?

a) Because she posted about taking The Commander to the ER.
b) Because she posted about MacMullan Blindsides.
c) Because she posted that bit about the bathroom cleaner conversation
d) All of the above.

Signing off from the Green Guy Cafe, where I am currently stealing broadband wi-fi internet. -Kayak Woman.

No that photoooo is not taken in a morgue. I think it looks a little like one (er, not that I’ve ever been in one). But it is inside the vault at the 1st National Bank. You know the one. It’s where Jesus saves.

Living on the edge

Friday, June 25th, 2010

When you live on the edge, sometimes the dog eats your homework your phone eats your post. Of course, I mean The Edge, the network that your iPhone uses when you are in the Great Lake State’s Upper Peninsula. That is, when you are in a part of Da Yoop where there is any kind of cellular telephone network at all. And yes, this is another o’ them thar first-world type problems. You know the kind.

Anyway, we arrived here at the moominbeach at 9:45 PM and the sun had *just* set and that photo is colored courtesy of one of the Hipstamatic iPhone app, one of my faves. Because I am such a cool hipster. Roight. I can just see Mouseleen rolling her eyes. Oh, speaking of Mouseleen, I need to email her. Check your email, kiddo. Anyway. It was actually kind of gray, also windy and chilly, and the Roger Blough (aka Big Butt) was downbound. I went back up to the cabin and guess what was in my pyramid peg measure? A dead bug! Yes, there was. I was gonna clean the bug out of my pyramid peg measure but I got distracted and forgot and the next thing I knew, the GG was spluttering around spitting and stuff. Yes, the bug ended up in his cocktail. No, he was not amused (hee hee hee snort snort). And so, I tried to blahg about that and I got my post all written — on my phone, with a picture (this one) — and then I hit publish or whatever it is on my WordPress iPhone app aaaannnnddd… Loading loading loading… loading loading loading… keep them doggies loading… loading loading loading… rawhide!!! Or… not… Not only did my post not post but my phone ATE MY POST!!! So you are getting it today, or at least a version of it.

At the moment, I am at The Commander’s “other house, the real house where she lives some of the days” stealing her wi-fi so I can use an actual keyboard to type. The GG is out at Woldemort and it is raining so do not feel sad if you are not here in god’s country (or this god-forsaken country or whatever it is). And that is all for now. We’ll see what kind of octo-type adventures we all get up to today.

Cheerio! — KW

If there are any typos in here, bag it.

Bugs and bolts [lightning, that is]

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

My step-grandmother Bolette was a preacher’s daughter. They lived in Iowa for a while, where there are tornados, then they moved to California, where there are earthquakes. Finally they moved to Detroit and she once told me her dad said that at least there wouldn’t be any earthquakes or tornados in Detroit. And then within the first year they lived there, they experienced *both* an earthquake and a tornado. And so, yesterday in the Great Lake State, in one day, we had both an earthquake tremor and I’m not sure how many tornados (none in my neighborhood though) and lightning? A bumper crop of lightning bugs gave way to one of the biggest light shows I’ve seen in a while. All is well at the Landfill and didn’t even lose power. Seeya later.

5.5 5.0 06/23/2010 01:41:42 PM 45.862N 75.457W

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

No, I did not feel it. But many people in Michigan did. From the Planet Ann Arbor up to Sault Ste. Siberia and even farther west than Meecheegan. Wisconsin, I have heard. I heard about the earthquake on Twitter. For anyone who is still wondering “how does Twitter work” or “whaddo I do with Twitter” or any of those things, this is a good example of how Twitter DOES work. I had great fun yelling “earthquake” over the wall to co-workers. After I found out about it on Twitter.

I did not feel the earthquake. I was in my cube (I think, I may have been hanging out talking to my boss in the street outside his office and both of us have voices that project enough to drown out any kind of earthquake (and no, we were NOT arguing!)). I felt nothing. Folks in other Planet Ann Arbor locations felt themselves swaying or saw stuff swaying. And so did folks up in the eastern Upper Peninsula (via Facebook) and that is a VERY bizarre location for earthquake tremors to happen.

I can’t even imagine feeling an earthquake up there. I *have* felt one here on the Planet Ann Arbor. 1985? Or whenever. I was vacuuming my baby girl’s room and I heard stuff rattling on a shelf in another room. Okay, a truck was going by. Or not, because it kept on rattling for a looonnng time. Yes, it was an earthquake. I forget where it occurred or what the magnitude was…

Photooo? That’s me with my summer head o’ hair, thank you Mouse, and yes it is pretty bushy but I like bushy hair because it bounces when I walk! Photo taken by the GG with my iPhone’s Hipstamatic camera application. Fun fun fun. Check it out!

It was just rabbits, O best beloveds

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Yes, it was. Somebody handed me a towel full of inch-long baby rabbits. “Oh, just hang on to them for a minute. So-and-so’ll come along and get ’em.” Roight. Of course, they started wriggling out of the towel, hopping down onto the floor where all the people in the store could step on them. Yes. Mouse kept picking them up and handing them back to me. And they were multiplying. I don’t mean in the way rabbits usually multiply (I don’t think). Just that every time I turned around, there were more of them and I was terrified that they were gonna get stepped on. I kept saying I wanted to get outta there and everybody was ignoring me and I was about to jump out of my skin and the rabbits kept hopping down onto the floor and Mouse kept picking them up and handing them back to me. And…

Flash boom ka-bang!! Thank you Thor, God of Thunder!!! Thank you for waking me up and putting that dream out of its misery!

And no, O dearest dear ones, this was not a prescient dream, just one of those stupid packing dreams (rabbits? what next?). That big bolt from the heavens and the ensuing monsoon whacked it. It whacked my morning walk too but that’s a whole ‘nutha story.

Yes, I do occasionally have prescient dreams.

You’re right, you don’t wanna know about them. (I don’t even wanna know about them.)

Don’t worry, I can’t see what color your aura is.

ZZ Top, where were you?

Er, dooya think I am nuts or do you all have prescient dreams too?


Monday, June 21st, 2010

And the livin’ is eeeeeeasy. Fish are jumpin’ (doo doo da doo, doo da doo), an’ th’ cotton is hiiiiiiigh (doo doo da doo da doo da doo). And the old song diverges just a bit at this point because, don’tcha know, Mama Mooma ain’t rich and, as much as I like to harass the old GG, he ain’t no good and that’s a double negative, I think, but in the case I’m wrong, what I mean is that my kids have a good dad.* (Definitely have had those lyrics wrong for umpteen years, see below.) But then the the song dovetails back into familiar territory with: So hush little babeeee, do-oh-oh-oh-oh-on’t yoo-oou cry-y. La-de-da-de-dah-lou. La-de-da-de-dah-lum.

One of the lullabyes that I used to sing the beach urchins to sleep with. Oh, not that they always went to sleep necessarily but, for the most part, they did listen and settle down somewhat. I am a born musician. I am a trained flutist but I am not a trained singer. I could bore y’all with the details of trying to be a musician, especially one who played a wind instrument in a rugged outpost like Sault Ste. Siberia in the 1960s. Knowing that I needed a *real* teacher and not having one and doggedly forging along *anyway* through whatever interesting virtuoso classical flute music I could get my hands on could be frustrating.

Going to summer camp at Interlochen was the only way I got decent flute lessons when I was in high school. And it was there that we played a Gershwin medley, which is where I learned Summertime. I am not a trained singer but I don’t think my voice is all that bad and I think it could have been trained. I think I might read as a mezzo-soprano if anyone ever tried to figure me out but they won’t because, at this point, I don’t care.

In my adult life, I have used my voice to try to sing my baby girls to sleep. And that’s pretty much all that counts.

* Ha ha. Maybe I had that part wrong. Daddy’s rich (er, not) and Mooma’s good-looking (um, roight). Anyway…

P.S. To get the tune, check out YouTube. I couldn’t find any renditions out there that I liked. In iTunes, I have three: The Essential Gershwin, Janis Joplin, and Billy Stewart. Grok grok. I’ll sing that stooopid ol’ song! Grok grok!

Scrambled eggs. Or spaghetti.

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Lemme see, what was today? And what was it not? It was Father’s Day. I feel pretty much the same about Father’s Day as I do about that other Hallmark holiday. Except that the other Hallmark holiday isn’t really a Hallmark holiday (go ahead, Goooooooogle it), although I think Hallmark (et al) has probably taken full advantage about marketing it full-tilt boogie.

So, what did we do to celebrate Father’s Day? Or observe it or whatever it is we do on Father’s Day? Well, Mouse wanted to arrange a brunch for the GG at Cafe Zola but that didn’t work out because they were booked (duh), so we went with Plan B. Which was? I dragged the GG out of bed at 0-skunk-30 and we took one of our favorite urban hikes along the parklands by the river over to the Northside Grille. 5.5 miles by my iPhone pedometer app. We got there just about 8 AM and had a wonderful breakfast there with our own very tired Mouse. My fave part of the morning was when the dads at the next table read picture books to their little kids. I don’t know where the moms were. I was thinking about a long-ago Mother’s Day when Grandmother Trucker and I were sent out to breakfast at Ron’s Restaurant at Houghton Lake alone while the boys took care of the kids. This seemed a bit opposite in a way but today’s dads were having a great time and the kids were happy and weeeee were trying to listen in! (-;

Our Mouse had driven to the grille, so she taxied us over to the Landfill and chopped off a bunch of my hair, which means that I no longer have to sign my emails with “Your friend, Shaggy the Dog”. A summer head o’ hair! Yaaay!!! And then. The GG took a long winter’s nap and Mouse and Froggy settled in for a short little snooze on the Green Couch. And then, when Mouse left, Froggy musta hitched a ride with her ’cause I cain’t find him nowhere ’round here! I guess it’s more fun to live downtown with a bunch of good-looking 20-something wimmin than it is to live here with a baggy shaggy old bag but I do hope he doesn’t create great devastation down there at Mouse’s House! Hear that, old Frog? Don’t wear out your welcome. Er, *if* that’s where he is. I don’t *think* he mailed himself to Callyforny again.

What else? Well, it occurred to me that it is also Radical Betty’s birthday today. I’m sure she is celebrating it somewhere out there. Probably with Duke and Grandroobly and The Engineer and a whole host of others who went before her. Instead of getting all maudlin (is that the right word?) about that, I elected to post a bunch of photos of our 2006 kayak trip to the Pictured Rocks on Flickr. I know that “Batty” doesn’t want me to be all sad and so I’m not gonna be. We live and we die. She lived her life to the absolute fullest and I’m gonna try to do that too, although I know that I don’t have it in me to do it with as much style and grace and savoir faire as Radical Betty did.

Oh, and what else? I *thought* today was the summer solstice but my calendar disagrees with me. At any rate, the next few weeks are going to be totally chaotic and I am going to have to force myself to live in the moment a lot of the time to just get through. Except for work… I worked a few hours here at home both yesterday and today in order to get some things prepared for the coming chaos. I cannot afford to go in tomorrow and do the all-too-typical slow start into Monday. Dum de dum de dum, what was I doing last week? Not this week. I have a plan for tomorrow morning.

The GG is not *my* father but he’s getting steak for Father’s Day because that’s what my dad would have wanted. And corn on the cob. My dad wasn’t all that crazy about much of “that green stuff” but we’re having some of that too. What’re y’all doing today? Was it a good weekend? Did you spend it with your father, either in real life or remembrance…

Shaggy the Dog Kayak Woman

I am so far behind on housework that it almost doesn’t matter where I start.

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

I don’t mean the routine stuff like washing the dishes. I’ve done that by hand since my dishwasher quit cleaning them adequately at least five years ago but, as I’ve blahgged about somewhere sometime, I actually prefer to wash dishes by hand. And I don’t mean cleaning the Blue and Only Bathroom because it is a small bathroom that only takes about five minutes to clean. And I don’t mean vacuuming because running Roomba involves moving some furniture (or not) and pressing CLEAN. Dusting? Let’s not talk about dusting…

I mean my ongoing prodject (intentionally misspelled) to eradicate cosmic debris so that the beach urchins don’t have to rent a dumpster to clean up after me some day. And so that I can beeee freeeeeee!!!! Freeeeeeee from the shackles and chains of clutter, flotsam, jetsam, and cosmic debris! So I can walk through the Landfill without ramming into pieces of furniture (and subsequently forgetting about the ramming incident and then wondering where the heck that big ugly bruise came from).

The Landfill is not a big house. It is a little 1959 ticky-tacky sorta ranch-type house with an A-dition and a teeny tiny woods behind the back yard. It is our first house. It was the only house anywhere near the Planet Ann Arbor that we could afford that actually had a woods behind it. When we moved in, in June, 26 years ago and four months before Lizard Breath was born, it was huge. To us. It practically echoed. How would we ever fill it up? Well, somehow we did fill it up. Not necessarily with the stuff that my expensive taste might have dictated, because we couldn’t afford that. Our decor was and is a conglomeration of Student Ghetto and Early In-Law. Fortunately, we are not compulsive hoarders. Whew, did I just say that? I guess so. We do collect stuff but we aren’t hoarders. That syndrome scares the heck out of me and there have been people in both of our families who had it or have it. Not us thank you god. We do not have to walk around in little aisle-ways between head-high stacks of newspapers and magazines or whatever. I *can* actually let Roomba run without moving a whole lot of stuff if I want to. And I am very anti-materialistic these days. “Travelin’ light” is my new mantra. But we still have stuff. I don’t know how you can live in a house for 26 years and raise two children there and not have stuff. I don’t want to wait until I’m 80 to start reducing that stuff.

Today. What did I have the psychological energy to do and where did I want to start? I very randomly started with the little blue linen closet in the Blue and Only Bathroom. Beach towels, anyone? Why are there so many blasted beach towels everywhere I go. Oh, I know, it’s so I can take them all to the Lockview Laundromat in Sault Ste. Siberia and load up three triple loaders and WASH them. Fun times! We don’t use beach towels here at the Landfill any more and the Moominbeach does NOT need any more, there’s a six-foot stack there. Houghton Lake? I don’t want to dump stuff there but these are nice towels. Whadda you guys think?

I don’t know what to do about the beach towels but I weeded out a whole bunch of single bed sheets that haven’t been used in maybe 15 years and a couple of shredded towels. And I wrapped up a couple of little packages for posterity. Embroidered/appliqued pillowcases with crocheted edges that were made by my moom and mother-in-law. I ironed them and labeled one package “Finlayson” and the other “Courtois”. Couldn’t get rid of those, even though the fabric that some of the Finlayson/MacMullan pillowcases were made out of is starting to rip.

That was all I did for the good of the Landfill today besides all of the day-to-day cooking, cleaning, laundry or whatever. The GG did some urushiol oil removal from the front “garden” and vacuumed out the Dogha and the Ninja, both of which were in desperate need of that…

First world problems

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Today, I got home from my info-tech design job to which I commuted via car (2008 Honda Civic SI 6-speed manual [to be exact] nicknamed Ninja). I left work a few minutes early because I have worked exceedingly hard lately and I don’t punch a clock. I washed my face and feet in the Blue and Only Bathroom, using the Great Lake State’s abundant fresh water supply. Hung out in the as yet un-renovated Landfill Chitchen for a bit. Texted the GG that I was leaving the Landfill. Set the pedometer app on my iPhone and walked downtown, texting my progress along the way. Huron-Dexter-Jackson intersection. Seventh Street. First Street-order me a ‘hattan.

One more block up to Ashley, hang a right, go another block, cross the street, and I would be safe at the Old Town bar, where a nice cold Manhattan awaited me. Roight. Problem. Homeless man hanging out front and center at the corner of Ashley and Washington. “I just need…” I have never been one to hand out spare change to panhandlers. I care but I am not sure that handing money to everyone who has their hand out helps. When I was young, thin, blonde, naive, and worldly enough to know how naive I was, I was chicken about talking to strangers. That was probably a good thing. I was vulnerable then. Tonight I decided I wasn’t chicken or vulnerable, although I didn’t really want to talk. I don’t usually carry much cash, maybe $10 at most. Tonight I had more than $100 on me. I dunno why, just randomly. And a debit card and a couple of credit cards with lines of credit on them that would buy me a reasonable automotive vee-hickle if I needed one (but I don’t). And an iPhone. I am not wealthy by a long shot. I’m just your average “middle-class” American moom.

The homeless man approached me. For the first time in my life, I reached into my purse and handed him a $5 bill. Or maybe it was $10. I’m not sure. I know it wasn’t more than that. He was talking about getting food at the Fleetwood Diner. And maybe he did or maybe he spent it on booze. I don’t care what he did with it. He told me thank you but I silently turned and walked away. Toward the Old Town and the GG and our friends and my first world life…


Thursday, June 17th, 2010

I love you guys. That is all. Or maybe it’s not. My reasons for blahgging may vary from the norm a bit (or maybe not, who knows). I am blahgging mainly for myself and posterity. I don’t *ever* expect to make any money off my little corner of the blahgosphere and I am not a so-called “comment whore”. I get comments or I don’t. I don’t *make* a whole lot of comments either. If I don’t have something to say, I don’t, even if I like the post.

One of my blahgging “rules” is to write every day. I am not a “real” writer so that is a challenge (but that’s why I do it) and, as one of my beach urchins once said, “Moom, I can tell when it’s one of thooooose days.” One of the reasons I have thooooose days is because there are so many funny or crazy or weird or sad stories that touch my life but are not mine to tell. My moom reads this. The beach urchins read this. The GG reads it. When he can keep up with it (-; Other relatives read it…

All that said, I loved what happened yesterday. I hadn’t thought about Camp Wikweia in about a billion years and then Pooh started coming up with silly songs and I posted about the camp and all you guys wrote great comments and I especially loved the ones from my cousins who *went* to the camp. Even though I really wasn’t the happiest of campers back then, I ended up dredging up some really good memories of that place. And maybe I can finally let go of that stupid old cottage cheese thing, although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat that stuff straight. But yesterday was serendipity or something like that.

Jan, I never knew that you met Pete there or had his sister as a camper. It was only after your comment that I remembered you were a counselor a bit before my time there. I do remember a counselor telling *me* that I looked like Sandy! (-: Jay, I remember when you went to Camp Michigamme with the Mullin twins. I never went to Michigamme although I’ve driven past Lake Michigamme a bunch of times. You are so right about Interlochen being a different kind of thing. And that brought back memories of the young KW as a totally driven flute player from a rugged northern outpost with no access to a decent flute teacher. Music? Er, well… First seat! Camper? Still not particularly the happiest but sucked it up and even helped some other more inexperienced campers deal with homesickness. Er, there may have been a camp boyfriend that helped with my particular homesickness. Trumpet player (-; Swimming? I don’t think I ever had time to go swimming at Interlochen!

Camp Michigamme has a facebook page. I’m sure Interlochen has one too. Dooya think that Camp Wikweia needs one too? Even though it doesn’t exist any more? I wonder if I have the chutzpah to create one. I wonder if anyone would join…

Good night. Love you all, –KW

Oh, I don’ wanna how I wanna leave Wikway-ay-a!

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Yes, Jane, yer big sis Pooh and I went to Campfire Girl camp! It was called Camp Wikweia and we went when you were a baby. And yes, I totally agree that the cabin is the best camp and who would ever want to go away to camp if they had the cabin?

I was a Campfire Girl and The Commander was the leader of our troop or tribe or whatever it was called. I think I was pretty bratty a lot of the time but that would be a whole ‘nother story. The camp was one week long and served troop/tribes all over Da Yoop and I think G2 conspired to send both Pooh and me out there, maybe because you were a baby and also because I’m not sure I was all that happy about going. “She needs to be socialized, don’tcha know.”

It wasn’t really all that bad a camp. We had campfires and sleepouts and we could buy candy and make braided lanyards out of gimp and do other crafts. There was archery, which I am pretty sure I sucked at. We sang plenty of silly songs like the ones that Pooh seems to be dredging up with wild abandon. (And no, we didn’t sing about plastic Jesus dashboard statues.) The swimming was okay except that it was a mucky lake and they roped off sections for kids of different levels. At that age, I had delusions of grandeur of swinging up through the ranks of the swimming levels to Swimmer and Advanced Swimmer and beyond. Alas, in my life, I have become a serviceable swimmer but nothing spectacular. And that’s okay. But here I was, swimming in this mucky lake and I missed the cold, clear water and the sand bottom and the sandbar system that kept us from straying too far out at the Moominbeach.

I only remember one truly horrible incident and I don’t think that happened the year that Pooh went. And yes, I did go a couple other years. One of those years, they had a control freak nincompoop running the camp. She had a one bite rule. I could eat one bite of just about anything, or at least anything they had at that camp. I could not for the life of me choke down one bite of cottage cheese. Why? Because, when I was about five and had scarlet fever or whatever it was that gave me fevers high enough that I can still remember the hallucinations, The Engineer, who was around two, stuck his blue ‘gar (aka cigar) into my bowl of cottage cheese. Nothing like a chewed up blue crayon in your cottage cheese to turn your stomach. I hadn’t recovered from that incident by then. Actually, I still haven’t. (It’s okay ol’ boy, I forgive you for that.) Unfortunately, this illustrious person had graced my camp cabin’s table with her presence that night. What? You won’t eat cottage cheese? Why not? I couldn’t explain what the problem was and she wouldn’t let me (or anyone else at the table) leave until I had eaten cottage cheese. Way to guilt-trip a kid. Somehow, I finally managed to choke just, well, one small bite down. She made a big fuss about her little victory at the table and then she just couldn’t leave it alone. Every time she saw me after that for the whole rest of the week, she would call me her “Cottage Cheese Girl”. (If you know me at all, you know I was thinking, “where did I put my flame-thrower?”)

Still, it was a pretty good camp and a lot of people loved it there. My cousin “Susie Swim” (who *did* swing up through the ranks of Swimmer and Advanced Swimmer and beyond, with aplomb) worked the waterfront there for years. My mom’s friend/my friend Helen’s mom Ginny was the camp nurse for a long time. That horrible director was only there one year. Many of my school friends loved going to camp there. They made life-long friends there and remember it with great fondness. Me? Not so much. I am not a group activity type person from the get-go and even then, I wanted to be back at the Moominbeach running around with my cousins like wild Indians. I never cried publicly about it or told a counselor or anyone and I wasn’t UNfriendly. I sucked it up. But I can still remember standing outside the dining hall while everyone else was singing “Here we stand like birds in the wilderness, waiting for our food”, watching the water sparkle in the sun and thinking about my own beach with tears in my eyes.

I guess it couldda been worse. I couldda been one o’ those others, you know, those others who are not girls. I couldda smuggled a smoke bomb or two or three into boy scout camp and then been ordered into slave labor, cutting grass with a scythe. Roight.

Jesus takes his money to the 1st National Bank…

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

…Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves. It had to be my “cuzzint” Pooh who taught me that song. She is the keeper of weird little songs. She also taught me a song that goes “And there was granny, swingin’ on the outhouse door” and “seven old ladies were locked in a lavatory”. She is also one of the smartest people I have ever known.

The thing is that Grandberry (my grandfather) and his son Grandroobly (my dad) worked at the 1st National Bank when I was a kid. Grandberry was the president and Grandroobly eventually worked his way up from Assistant Teller to President. That’s a whole ‘nother story but I remember visiting the 1st National Bank when I was a little kid. I was treated like a princess. There was a short teller window made just for children like me and I often got to go behind the tellers’ stations to see what went on behind the scenes. I was mostly interested in the office supplies. Rubber bands? Yes. And maybe there were balloons and pieces of candy…

Yesterday, Jesus was struck by lightning along a soul-sucking section of the I75 SUV Speedway down in Oh-haaa-o and he, um, melted, or died or whatever. (Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful parts of Ohio too.) This whole thing cracked me up like you wouldn’t believe. And it cracked up a whole bunch of systems analysts too when I finally yelled it over the wall this afternoon. Sam (archaeologist, not dog) has the best photo of the butter/touchdown Jesus when he lived. I love the power lines/towers in the background.

Updated to add that Sam sent me a couple of YouTube links: an earlier one and here’s an updated one (haha, I’ve got both videos going at once, so much fun!): burning of big-butter Jesus Man oh man, I just heard something about not making craven (graven?) images. Duh. Say what?

Messing about in boats.

Monday, June 14th, 2010

So, do you remember how nice it was to go for a little evening cruise and drop off into a little snooze in the boat? This is really not as dangerous as it looks. I don’t remember the exact occasion but we were probably putt-putting along through the shallows close to the shore of Houghton Lake. The lake was calm and us kids, masquerading as grown-ups with our own kids, were probably sipping a little cocktail. We had jobs and a house and kids and life was so good.

The boat was one of Grandpa Garth’s boats. He used to say, “Some men have 50-foot boats. I have 50 feet of boat!” And he did have a bunch of small tin boats and a speedboat that could haul water-skiers. He was an old World War II Navy vet who served on the aircraft carrier Hornet in the South Pacific. Sometimes we would be at the moldy old Houghton Lake cabin with him and, late at night, he would dip just a wee bit into the Triple Sec and get a wee bit teary-eyed as he told us just a wee bit about those days. He didn’t tell us much. About how the storms could be scarier than the battles. About how they used to bunk pilots with him (he was the master mechanic, I think) and often those pilots wouldn’t come back the next night. My dad, aka Grandroobly, was an Army Air Corps pilot in WWII but he served his time stateside as a flight instructor. He was scheduled to be deployed to the South Pacific toward the end of the war but, just when he was about to go, we dropped the A-Bomb on Japan. I think he always believed that the bomb saved his life. And mine too, I guess, since I would be a wasn’t if he had died. I never thought about this in those days but just now I imagined an alternate universe where my father was one of those pilots that bunked with my father-in-law. Pointless speculation, I guess. Since I wasn’t born until something like 10 years after World War II ended, it was really more or less ancient history to me when I was a kid. I was thinking about mathematical concepts like limits before I was five. I had formed my own opinion about God. History somehow eluded me. There was a big enthusiastic family of parents, grandparents, and older cousins waiting to greet me when I was born and my life was good (mostly), so I just kept on truckin’. Now that we have lost the grandparents and 5/8ths of the next generation and 1/11th of us cousins (my little brother being the numerator in that fraction), I am discovering how important history is.

Hmmm, to think I was gonna write about spaghettios today but somehow I am totally off on the dangereuse track of blathering aimlessly and uselessly about life, the universe, and everything. And I’m not sure where to go from where I have gotten to, so I think I’ll just hit publish and go hide under the toilet or somewhere.

Courtois fam, please correct any inaccuracies in the comments! Same for The Commander!

Boating with the Twinz of Terror

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

It was late morning at Houghton Lake and I was dithering and dathering about whether to take my kayak out. I wanted to and yet I didn’t want to. There aren’t really a lot of places to go from the cabin. I love going around the point into the canals but I was feeling a little bored with that. People were mustering for a power boat ride and The Beautiful Betsy asked me if I wanted to be included in that. I gave my stock answer. Naw… Then the GG came in and bugged me about it and I don’t know what he said exactly but suddenly I thought, “YES!” For one thing, they were going to the mouth of the Cut River. That’s only a few miles away but it would take a couple hours to get there in a kayak and if the wind kicked up or something, I would have to ditch somewhere along the way and phone home. If I could manage to get out of the boat without ditching my iPhone. Even though I package it in double ziplock bags when I’m kayaking. (Note to self, get a dry bag.) And so I schlepped myself onto the boat and off we went. I know that The Beautiful Gay was happy we were gone because that gave her a chance to CLEAN!!! (-: I don’t think there is anyone on earth who can clean as well and as enthusiastically as TBG. In that respect (but not necessarily in others), TBG reminds me of The White Tornado!

Anyway. Yes, the boat ride was fun! And then we got back to the cabin and, alas, it was getting time to bumpety-clunk down the I75 SUV Speedway toward home. And that’s where we are now. The last hour or so was soul-sucking. The GG says I say “soul-sucking” a lot lately. And I do but that’s because there is so much stuff I seem to have to do these days that IS soul-sucking. Sharing the crappy old bumpity-clunkety freeways with crazy *ssholes who tailgate like mad even though you are in the passing lane BEHIND some slow folks. Etc. And then there is going to the maaaalllll. Or WoldeMort. Radical Betty used to use the term “mind-boggling” a lot. I hope that “soul-sucking” doesn’t get to be my signature term for the next umpteen years.

Anyway, we are back home from a beautiful weekend at Houghton Lake and my butt will be in my cube tomorrow where I’ll be picking my way through the very pickety work that a business systems analyst does in the design area of the on-line banking industry.

Just say aaawwwww…

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

I was reluctant to travel up here to the Courtois Cabin at Houghton Lake this weekend. I LOVE the Courtois Cabin at Houghton Lake but it is hard to fit work and the Landfill and Fin Family Moominbeach and Houghton Lake (not to mention SanFran) into my life sometimes. Yes, this is a first-world problem. We are not rich by a long shot but I am spoiled. I know that. I did grow up with an outhouse, at least in the summer. In fact, I spent some time this afternoon trying to convince some folks that a family of four using an outhouse in the Great White North for a couple months out of the year was really not all that gross. Were they convinced? I’m not sure.

Anyway, I got up this morning and walked the Houghton Lake version of my morning walk and then we hit Best Choice for fancy food and WoldeMort for a three-quart saucepan (sorry, it’s not red) and a few food items we didn’t get at Best Choice. Came home and I took my usual kayak trip over into the canals. When I got back from my kayak ride, The Beautiful Gay was sitting by the seawall with a glass of whine!!! It was waaaayyyy before the sun gets over the yardarm but I thought, “what the heck, I am gonna have some whine too!” And I did.

The boyz took a boat over to the Northshore Bar for an afternoon beer and we (The Beautiful Gay, Chloe Belle, and I) sat down by the seawall all afternoon watching duck families paddle around. There were a few of them with ducklings of various ages. Nine ducklings? Ten ducklings? There were nine in today’s photooo. The mooma got all of her little duckies up on the seawall and they were huddled together taking a nap. And so was the mooma. I don’t think I have ever seen them do that before. We were apparently quiet enough that they didn’t feel threatened by us.

All in all, an absolutely gorgeous day here and it’s been a long time since I have spent time with The Beautiful Gay and I’m glad I came up here instead of staying down home on the Planet Ann Arbor where it is supposedly hot and slodgy.

Geek travel decompression

Friday, June 11th, 2010

I bailed out of work a little bit early today because we drove (again) to Houghton Lake. It wasn’t really all that hot around the Planet Ann Arbor today but it was humid and I felt really slodgy all day and then I had a cup of coffee in the afternoon so, when I finally got home, I was kind of slodgy and waarrrred up all at the same time. Not cool. I was being all uppity about wanting to do the driving and then I remembered that we had That Device (aka the iPad) and I talked myself down off of that ledge. Why? Because, ladies and gentlemen, with That Device, I can actually sit in the passenger seat of the Dogha and watch us drive up north. And, believe it or not, doing just that was *eventually* what got me to decompress and enjoy the bumpity clunkety ride up the I75 SUV Speedway. Except for the part where the GG was going 80 past the West Branch Speedtraps. No, he didn’t get caught.

Anyway, that’s a really crappy photo that I took with my iPhone. It is a satellite view of the Great Lake State (er, part of it anyway) and the big red arrow that I photoshopped in there is pointing to a blue dot and that blue dot is *us* bumpity-clunking along. I have the iPad way zoomed out for the photo because I think it is cool looking at the Great Lake State surrounded by, you know, the Great Lakes. If I zoom it in close enough, I can actually watch the blue dot move along.

When I was a kid, we traveled a lot. Up and down and around the Great Lake State, sometimes venturing into the neighboring states or the province Ontario or beyond. I learned early on how to read maps and highway signs and I would often sit in the back seat and read the map. How far is it from Sault Ste. Siberia to the Motor City? How many miles is it between this little town and that little town? What is the population of this town or that city? Is it larger or smaller than the population of Sault Ste. Siberia? Or the Motor City? Except that, in my little world, the Motor City was the biggest and coolest city on earth. But that would be a whole ‘nother topic. Today I was just doing what I used to do when I was a kid except now I have some really cool technology to do it with.

All in all, it was a very smooth trip and we made it here in near record time and The Beautiful Gay is here making dinner and I am pretty well decompressed (knock on wood). Times have changed and travel is changing. It is not that many years since I first had a viable wifi laptop and sometimes when we were traveling, I would have to MacStumble around looking for an open wifi so I could post a blahg entry. And then we got our iPhones and click here if you want to read about our *loverly* trip to Chicago along the Internet Highway a few years ago. The post I wrote because I could not write how I felt about dropping my “baby” off at O’Hare to catch a flight to Dakar.

Cheers! -KW