Archive for September, 2010

I work with woolly mammoths

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

This is my first panoramic photoooo ever and it is where I work and I took it with an iPhone photo app. Click and click again to get the full-sized photo (which actually isn’t full-sized ’cause I downsized it quite a bit for the web). It’s called Pano and I learned about it from AgateGal and, and, and. And yes, I need some practice! It was bright out there and I couldn’t see the screen very well and I MOOOOOVED halfway through. I bet you can figure out where I did that!

I’ve been kind of experimenting all summer, using my iPhone exclusively as my only camera. I have a trusty old Canon Powershot but I am just sick and tired of hauling a whole bunch of electronical crap around, so I am on a diet of sorts. I’m traveling with my phone, laptop, power cables for each and that’s it. Except that, in the interest of full disclosure, I do sometimes use the GG’s iPad.

I came late to photography in general. I mean, I think I got my first camera when I was maybe 10 but I never did all that well with film cameras. Too much hassle and too expensive to buy and develop film, especially since I’m not really the best photographer. And there was waaaaayyy too much commitment involved for meeee to learn with one of those things. I couldn’t afford it and I was focused on other things. Then there was digital and my life changed. Our first digital camera, an old Sony Mavica, actually stored images on floppy disks. Remember those? It was big and bulky and I was forever charging it (or running out of charge) but I was hooked! And here it is 12 years later and I have a camera in my pocket literally all the time. And I probably have about 12 photo apps on it. I can’t even remember what they all do! The Pano app stitches individual photos together to get a panoramic view and that’s the woolly mammoth there to the left of the cute little glitchie.

And there’s no point to all of this other than something along the lines of girlz having fun. Summer is over and my little experiment didn’t yield any scientific results, not that I was aiming for anything like that. The iPhone is a decent enough camera for the average everyday boring blahgger. Like meeeee. It has its limitations but it has some advantages too. One of them being that I can whip it out in seconds. Another that I can muck around with my photooos without dragging them over onto my aging laptop and w-a-i-t-i-n-g f-o-r-e-v-e-r for Photoshop to load. Although I often do that anyway to adjust the lighting and downsize, etc., etc., etc………. Because I am meeeeeeee…..

It’s Thursday and that frequently means breakfast for dinner. Gotta get cracking. Love y’all. -KW

Basketball Jones

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

A niece who is a senior at Michigan State University twittered this link from the Michigan Messenger this afternoon. I hope she doesn’t mind if I write about it. In a nutshell, a couple of MSU basketball players sexually assaulted a fellow (female) student in their dorm room. The young woman had a few drinks and introduced herself to them and then agreed to accompany them to their room, where they all engaged in a game of strip basketball. They then began to assault her and wouldn’t let her leave the room. A prosecutor subsequently talked her out of filing charges.

Okay. Sexual assault is NEVER okay. It doesn’t matter who the perpetrator or the victim is. Or how provocatively the victim may have been acting. No is no and it just isn’t okay. But. I get particularly irritated when young male athletes assault young women and then [seemingly] get away with it. What is it that athletes do that allows them occupy such a revered position in our culture? That lets them get away with crap like this.

I went to Moo U too. I played the flute there. A couple other flute players and I traded off 1st seat in all the top ensembles there. We were good. Did people jump up and down in their seats yelling and screaming when we played? Hmmm. Well once, Gunther Schuller (Google him) said, “Bravo, alto flute,” to me after conducting our group in one of his pieces. Anthony Braxton (Google him) told me my playing was “Cool!” or something like that when *he* conducted us. I loved his music and I loved playing it, but the passage he was talking about was basically a cacaphony of many instruments randomly and wildly improvising. I was just flapping my fingers around and I can’t believe he could even hear me. Most of my admirers were little old ladies who came to our more traditional concerts and hovered near backstage to tell me how lovely my playing was and admire my black dress. Not that they knew me from any other long blonde haired female flute player.

That’s all okay. I accept that classical music will never inspire the same emotions in most members of the general public as a good, rousing basketball game. I don’t frequently listen to it *myself* anymore. On the other hand, when I was in college, I NEVER used my musical talent as a tool to sexually assault someone. If some young man had introduced himself to me in a dorm after having a few drinks, knowing that I was one of the top classical musicians on campus, I would NOT have invited him up to my room for a game of strip flute playing. I’d’ve won that game more handily than a basketball player throwing a ball into a hoop, but I doubt I’d’ve been able to block him from leaving. In all honesty, the fact that I was a good musician was only a curiosity to most of the boys I met in college. I didn’t have any fans and any boys who pursued me were interested in much more superficial qualities.

Again (and again and again and again). Athletes are people. They are no different than any of the rest of us except that they have a different talent. So what? Being able to play basketball (or football or soccer or baseball or ski or kayak) does not automatically make someone a good person. A person who is worthy of being revered as a hero. In the grand scheme of things, playing basketball is just another talent. It doesn’t really matter how many people love to watch basketball or get emotionally involved in the games or revere individual players. Our star athletes are just as flawed as the rest of us. They are not above reproach and should not be allowed to shove sexual assaults and other criminal activities under the rug.

We need to teach our children that it takes more than bouncing a ball around a basketball court (or vibrating columns of air, for that matter) to make a hero. Or even a good, honest, responsible person.

Your email won’t wake me up!

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I once heard a professor say this to a struggling student in one of my classes a few years ago. It was “Coding 1”, which was basic html and css. I already had quite a bit of experience coding web pages with basic html and css, so I was kind of coasting along. Other people were struggling though, and one young woman had confided in the teacher that she didn’t like to email him late at night because she was afraid she would bother him. This was long enough ago that most people were still using big desktop computers and I don’t know about you but I didn’t normally lug my computer to bed with me in those days. Our professor would’ve had to sleep in the same room as his computer, leave it on all night, and configure whatever email program he was using to bleep (or whatever) whenever a new message came in.

Fast forward a few years… I keep my iPhone next to my bed every night. I don’t normally leave the sound on but I do sometimes use it as an alarm clock and when people are traveling somewhere, they text me when they arrive, so I leave the sound on for that. Then there was last night. I had a totally bizarre dream. I was attending a wedding. At the Doelle house. At 2:30 AM. If you follow The Marquis’s blog, you may recognize the Doelle house from his latest three-minute story. It is pronounced “Doley” and it’s an old lighthouse-keeper’s house at the end of the moominbeach. Until a couple years ago, there was no road access to it and, when we were kids, we used to pretend that it was haunted. One of the many weird features of my dream, other than all of the dead people who made an appearance (we won’t go there), was that a bunch of Hari Krishna folks were milling around down on the beach asking for money (actually it was more complicated than that but I couldn’t explain it if I tried).

This dream was soooooo weird that I woke up, grabbed my iPhone and Twittered it. Yes. I really did that. Tweeting at 0-batscope-30 did not wake up the GG because his phone doesn’t bleep when somebody twitters and I had turned off my phone’s sound so he wouldn’t hear the key-click. But it did wake up at least one other person. I’m not going to say who. Guess if you want. I will say that, if y’all are gonna sleep with yer phones, make sure you have Twitter notifications turned off because you never know who might wake you up!

Bee-cee-clette question

Monday, September 27th, 2010

First of all, I have a serious question for the bicyclists among my five or ten readers. You know who you are. I was gonna ask this yesterday but, when we got back to the Landfill, I got caught up in the usual vortex. Unpacking. Peering into the refrigerator trying to take inventory and form some kind of meal plan. Giving up to go off wandering through the grokkery store grabbing stuff willy-nilly off the shelves. So I forgot. Late yesterday morning, I was on the southbound I75 SUV Speedway. I was in the yooperland about 10-15 miles north of St. Ignace and traffic was light, as it always is in that area. As I was passing another vee-hickle, something on the right shoulder caught my eye. At first I thought somebody’s motorcycle had broken down. As I got closer, I realized that it was five or six *bicyclists*. They were dressed in neon green gear with flags on their bikes and slow-moving vee-hickle triangles attached to the back of their clothing (?). My question, as if you can’t guess, is whether there are ever circumstances under which it’s legal to ride a bicycle on the freeway. The only thing I could think of is that they were forced to ride on the freeway because the adjacent two-lane roadway (Old US2) was flooded in some places. But did they have to get special permission? Or what?

So another summer has ended. The furnace kicked on this morning, the sky is leaden, and we’re trying to hold off until October to replace the screen in the front storm door with glass. Just last Thursday it was in the 80s. The moomincabin is closed. I can’t take much credit for that. All I did was put some silverware away and empty the refrigerator. The Commander’s cleaning buddy had already swept the floors and washed the windows. The GG drained the water and put the storm windows on and loaded the Landfill kayaks up onto the Dogha (I did help a bit with the kayaks). I know how to put the storm windows on but I can’t say I’m all that interested in learning how to do the plumbing up there (or anywhere). I know that it isn’t that hard but I’d rather have someone else do it, even if I have to pay, which I didn’t this year because the GG did it. Thanks.

As much as I love it up there, I really don’t want to make a permanent move back there. I think the GG would do it in a heartbeat and he didn’t even grow up there so go figger. I complain about the Planet Ann Arbor sometimes. I call it slodgy and I get annoyed by the vapid blah-de-blah of some of the pseudo-intellectuals around here. Oh, you probably know the kind. But, I have always loved it here and, when I was a kid visiting my cousins here, I always wanted to live here. As a snotty, bratty teenager, I regarded the yooperland as a rugged outpost. Boring. No malls or cool hippy stores or even McDonald’s. Snow in the woods until the end of May, fer kee-reist. Throughout the years I have lived here on the planet, I have grown to love and appreciate that rugged old outpost for what it is. But I raised the beach urchins here on the planet and this is their home. And not everybody around here is an annoying pseudo-intellectual. So here I will stay, see-sawing through a life carefully balanced between the yooperland and the planet A-squared.

So. What about those bicycles on the freeway?

I don’t fall in!

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

And I didn’t. I grew up on the Great Lake they call Gitchee Gumee and I can swim, although nowadays swimming there for me mostly means walking out until the water is up to my neck and hanging out there in the Greatest Air Conditioner On Earth (aka L. Superior) until I am cool enough to get out of the water and sit on the beach to dry off and get hot again. Occasionally some body surfing if the waves are big enough. Anyway, I can swim, but I am always a little leery when I am on a pier or a dock or whatever and there is deep water right next to it. Like there is in this pic. I know that I am not going to walk over there and jump in and that nobody is going to come along and push me in. It still makes me a little nervous. Like what if I tripped and fell in. A little bit of vertigo…

But of course I didn’t jump. Yesterday, I posted a little “goodbye summer 2010” video on facebook. I took it with my iPhone. It was cold and windy and we had just closed up the cabin and, after that, we headed into the beeyootiful city of Soo Ste. Siberia to be with The Commander for our last night up there. This morning dawned sunny, if not exactly warm. We (of course) managed to leave a few of our belongings (cell phone chargers be damned!) out at the moominbeach yesterday and I drove out there early today to retrieve them and drop off some clean sheets and towels and walk the beach, of course. Yesterday it was warm enough that I could walk in the water in my bare feet. This morning, not so much. Sandals and polartech socks, thank you very much.

And so… We drove back down to the Landfill here on the Planet Ann Arbor today, stopping to fix the Houghton Lake webcam and visit with The Beautiful Kathy on the way. I can just about count 100% that The Planet Ann Arbor will have more warm, “Indian Summer” style weather. Not quite as sure about Sault Ste. Siberia and the moominbeach but I have been up there when the weather was warm late in the year, so you never really know.

Happy Birthday Don Courtois!!! We all (me, the GG, and Mouse) just walked out the back door and yelled that to you. We love you. If you can find The Engineer, he’ll prob’ly give you a ride on the Edmund Fitzgerald!

Stop and climb. It’s still a dime dollar.

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

I wasn’t really very far off the grid. I could’ve walked over to the Green Guy Cafe to bask in the wonderful world of wi-fi. But it was cold and windy and rainy and dark and the beautiful midsummer evenings of blahgging in the brilliant evening sunshine with a glass of whine at my side were just a memory. I tried to make do with the Edge network and whatever sniggly little couple of bars AT&T felt like doling out. That is, when my phone wasn’t s-e-a-r-c-h-i-n-g for service or doodle-ooping me over into Cananananada. No I do NOT want to pay $139879823 a minute for data service!

So, what did we do this weekend? It was a pretty eventful weekend. Your favo-rite blahgger endeared herself (or not) to Homeland Security at the Soo Locks by promising that she would not use her umbrella as a weapon. The poor, beleaguered security person was only asking if she had any knives or guns (no) and probably hadn’t even thought of KW’s umbrella as a weapon and she gained entry without any ado. It was 7:30 AM, there were *no* other touristas in the park at that time, and I suppose the guard thought she was just a klutzy old bag. But it was a pretty stupid thing to say to Homeland Security and it took a while (and a lot of hopping) before KW could manage to extricate her foot from her mouth.

The photooooo? Is one of a series of ponds down by the Castle Rock section of the North Country Trail. The NCT folks were camped down there for the week working on trail maintenance so we got up early today, fortified ourselves with some loooovvvverly burned pop-tarts from the GG’s camping stash and headed down there to hike. We did 9-1/2 miles on very hilly terrain. Lots of steep slopes but thankfully not vertigo-inducing in the same way as the hill between the yarn stores. Back to the cabin to close it up for the winter and eventually in to town for dinner with The Commander, who is at this very minute sitting in front of the fire watching The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in Swedish with subtitles on the GG’s iPad.

That is about all. I am feeling that good fuzzy-around-the-edges kind of tired tonight. G’night. -KW

I am alive and living on the edge

Friday, September 24th, 2010

The Edge network, that is. As in bad connection. At the moominbeach with the GG and the Grinchie. Seeya maρana. Love y’all, KW

Whaddya mean, ya don’t have the “Where’s KW?” iPhone app?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Or is it the Boomerang Woman app? Yes. Back in the Yooperland again. Temps were in the 80s on the Planet Ann Arbor this morning but I knew enough to throw my favo-rite black polartech hoodie into the passenger seat next to me. Because, by the time I got north of Gaylord, the temp had fallen down in into the 50s and it was pouring rain. The rain kept up all the way up to Siberia and still continues. It was a great evening to take The Commander out to dinner at the Palace Saloon for good old south-of-the-border Mexican food and a wee bit o’ whine. Er, that border would be the Canadian border… There’s a ridiculous little video of that experience posted at facebook if you are on facebook and inclined to view it.

Jeep and Pan say we can expect gale force winds starting sometime tomorrow and Cap’n Hobbs corroborates that, so we will see. Our plan for the moment is to ride the storm out at the moominbeach. We won’t be searching around for kayaks and things afterwards. Our boats are all put away now.

And, y’know what? I think today has just caught up with me. 0-skunk-30 walk, coffee with MMCB, work (left at noon), then tangling with the downtown traffic to pick up something from Mouse, and finally bumpety-clunk up the I-75 SUV Speedway to the Yooperland. Got here just about exactly when my newfangled vee-hickle GPS said I would and, wouldn’t you know, The Commander had already plotted my route into her iPhone and was able to predict my arrival. Surprised the heck outta the GG that she figgered out how to do that. He thought I had texted her the info or something. I was not surprised. That Commander is quite the cagey one. Palace Saloon for dinner and now Ben Hur is playing on the medium-ass TV here at chez Commander’s.

G’night,
KW

Over Yugo

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Okay. I’m knocking on wood big-time and throwing on my flame-proof clothing and fastening a huge lightning rod to my head just for good measure. Because I’m writing about a controversial topic today. I’m not so much worried that my five readers will flame me. Y’all can disagree with me or not. I don’t care. I’m more worried that the cosmos will slap me upside the head in some way. Knock me off the Big Mac next time I head to the Yooperland or whatever.

My topic is distracted driving and it is a hot topic in this god-forsaken state. I’m not sure where the Great Lake State is in the process to outlaw texting while driving. I dip in and out of news randomly and a lot of it is a bunch of yada yada to me. But we are heading in that direction. Now, I agree that people should not be texting while driving. I *can’t* text while I’m driving. Between my phone’s touch-screen and autocorrect (yes, I know I can turn autocorrect off but I choose not to), oh, and the fact that I drive stick about half the time, you’ll get nothing but a bunch of gobblety-gook from me. Not to mention that I might hit a pedestrian, cyclist, other vee-hickle, tree, *deer*, whatever. So I don’t. Unless I’m on the southbound I75 SUV Speedway on a Sunday afternoon and some nincompoop has decided to close the Zilwaukee Bridge. Because I’ll be sitting with my vee-hickle in park. (Dear Jenny, closing the ZB on Sunday afternoon is a bad thing. Don’t do it again. Tx, KW.)

Anyway. I don’t think people should be texting or even trying to talk on their cell phones while driving. I think it’s dangerous. I even think that maaayyyybeeee there oughtta be a law. But. I think we are heading toward a rather slippery slope because we are starting to go beyond talking about “texting” into the realm of “distracted driving”. How do we define “distracted driving”? Putting on make-up? Or panty-hose? (Who wears panty-hose anymore?) Reading a book? Eating? Changing the radio station? Settling a sibling argument? I don’t even want to think about the sub-topic of WHOOOOO will define “distracted driving” so we’ll save that for a nice rainy day. Then there’s the sub-topic of enforcement. How do we enforce laws against what people are doing inside their own private vee-hickles. What do we let the po-leese stop people for and do we let them search the car once it is stopped. And are the po-leese gonna be able to see far enough into our vee-hickles to see exactly what we are doing in them? How? Are we gonna give them x-ray glasses? Or maybe we should just start requiring that automotive vee-hickles be made with transparent bodies. Yeah, that would work… Roight.

In my dreams, we would do a few things differently. Driving is a privilege, not a right, but it seems like we have forgotten that. I am no teabagger but I am afraid that if we keep reacting to problems by passing more and more arguably-enforceable laws, our society will sink under their weight. If we pass laws against texting, what’s next? Will we be forbidden to eat in our cars? Will “they” tell us we can’t drive our children around? They *are* distracting. Why can’t we (all of us) use some common sense and be more responsible for our own actions. Texting or doing anything else while driving is dangerous. So let’s just not do it!

Yes, I re-wrote much of this. Why? Because it was a higgledy-piggledy mess, that’s why! Prob’ly still is but that’s all yer gonna git! πŸ˜› Now to figger out how to detach this big old lightning rod…

It’s Saturday night. Why are you here?

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Actually, once upon a time, at a job I had many years ago, a woman who is now dead came to work in the evening instead of the morning. Prescription drugs gone awry. You have to pee in a cup to prove you’re not a pot smoker but anything you can get out of bigPharma is A-OK. But this is not a rant about drugs and drug testing. It’s just what we’all were greeted with this morning. We’all knew dern well that it was Tuesday morning, not Saturday night but, although it was a very productive day, the day-of-week confusion that I woke up with all on my own this morning only worsened throughout the day.

What day is this, anyway? Is it the equinox? First day of fall? Maybe. It is pretty hot here on the Planet Ann Arbor today, around 80 under a beautiful overcast sky at around 6:30 PM EDT. It still feels like summer. It is too early for summer to end. I had a pretty good summer. I just wish I could’ve spent more than little bits and pieces of time in the Yooperland. And I’m wishing I could head out to Cali. Last fall we (me, the GG, and Mouse) flew out to SF for a long weekend with Elizilla. It was my second visit to Cali. Yes, I am that lame. (Only been to Flor-i-duh twice too. Lame. Lame.) I flew out to Cali solooooo when she first moved out there and slept on the couch in her shabby but loverly little Berkeley apartment, complete with ants and slugs and the whole works. We walked/drove/rode BART all over and ate avocado sandwiches and I felt right at home in that apartment and in Berkeley. Some guy at the Berkeley Bowl even mistook me for an employee! Naw, I’m just a baggy old Ann Arbor hippie. Er, not exactly.

That was spring 2007. After that, I was swept up into a strange and totally unexpected vortex of the college internship that led me back into a full-tilt-boogie career in the IT industry, and I didn’t get out to Cali again until last fall, 2009. By that time Elizilla had long abandoned the loverly/shabby Berkeley place and was sharing a rather fancier apartment in the city’s Mission District. It was Fleet Week. We didn’t know it was Fleet Week (or at least I didn’t) until the Blue Angels started buzzing the city and I was apprehensive about maybe having to tour the Hornet, the aircraft carrier that The Gumper (my late f-i-l) served on in WWII. I have nothing against boat/sub/airplane tours in general. Just that, being Grandroobly’s daughter, I spent my childhood touring boats/subs/airplanes. Been there, done that. We didn’t end up touring the Hornet, love you Grandpa Garth. We walked all over the place. And that’s all I wanted to do. We stayed at Marty’s, an over-the-top Victorian hotel/B&B two blocks away from Elizilla. I could see her apartment from Marty’s roof.

I wish I/we could fly out there for another trip this fall. Alas, there’s just too much going on. I am thinking about taking a trip this spring. There is *even* talk about Elizilla and I meeting up in the PacNW instead of SanFran. Not sure what we’ll do… Stay tuned.

Marching gorillas

Monday, September 20th, 2010

My trombone-playing, MSU marching band veteran niece Valdemort posted this guerilla marching band link on Facebook this morning. This is in Dee-troit and it is really cool. Aaaannddd…

One of my secrets is that I am a professionally trained flautist flutist flute player. I was am good. I mean that I reached a point in my study of the flute and music that is kind of like learning to ride a bicycle where you don’t quite ever forget and I could go on and on about that but I won’t. I can remember looking at pictures of flutes when I was a very young child (think three, yes really) and wondering what all of those complicated keys did. And wanting to play one. Two of my beloved older cousins did play the flute in school and I was always as envious as all get-out. And then. Finally. I got to be a 5th grader and I managed to be issued one of the three crappy flutes available at Lincoln School and a lesson book. I finished the lesson book in about two weeks.

I’m not here to tell that whole story tonight. That’s meeeeee at Interlochen in about 1971. My second year there. I am sitting in first seat in that photoooo and I hated those glasses and my hair looks awful and it looks like I’m wearing a windbreaker type thing over my Interlochen uniform, which consisted of a yellow short-sleeved shirt and blue skirt. And yellow kneesocks! Yeee. It must’ve been raining that day. Usually, it was just hot as all get-out at Interlochen. The guy two chairs down is John. He was originally assigned first seat but I beat him out at the first week’s challenges and kept my chair for the second. You go, KW. He was also from the Yoop. He had lessons. I [mostly] did not. I had to bash my way through whatever music I could get my hands on all by myself. He carved out a successful flute career for himself. I did not. But I am successful in my life and I have no regrets. And, you go, John!

Whatever. I love this guerrilla type marching band. Is the music perfect? No, but it isn’t supposed to be. It just looks like fun. If I had time to be involved, I would be wearing some sort of sparkly skirt below the band jacket. And my raggedy old Chacos. And I probably wouldn’t be playing the flute because the flute is useless in a marching band. Piccolo? Maybe. More likely the cymbals or some other percussion instrument.

“Everybody” is “up” north and I am here.

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Actually, I have a bone to pick with the use of the phrase “up north”, even though I find myself using it more often than I’d like to admit, at least in casual conversation, as in, “I’m going up north this weekend.” I never knew that the phrase “up north” existed until I went to college and almost everybody was from somewhere in megalopolis and they always referred to anywhere north of, oh, I dunno, Saginaw, as “up north”. People like me were pretty much considered to be hicks. Other college kids didn’t quite get that I didn’t grow up anywhere near a farm or that my family was educated or that we traveled frequently to various places in and around megalopolis to visit relatives and shop and go to museums and even certain Big-10 football games. We won’t go into the games I played with people’s minds once I figured out that they thought I was some kind of northern hillbilly chick. (Oh,don’t take me toooo seriously about that…)

I am older now and I know better and, oh boy, I am trying hard to erase the snootiness of my youth and recover whatever northern hillbilly hickness I might have ever picked up over there on the streets of southside Sault Ste. Siberia. I used to actually be a pretty darn good athlete as a grade school kid. I could beat all the boys that challenged me at running, jumping, bi-cycling, and even a few ball games! But I don’t really remember any hickness there. People were just working as hard as they could to raise their children, like we all do.

I still have a hard time telling people down here on the Planet Ann Arbor that I’m going “up north”. When I was a kid, going to the moomincabin was called “going out to the cabin”. North? We were going west. About seven miles as the crow flies, 10-15 by road. We moved out there for the whole summer and Grandroobly could easily drive in to work every day. Now? Well. It’s even more complicated, since I hooked up with the GG and his huge family and their cabin at Houghton Lake. Because sometimes going “up north” means going to Houghton Lake and sometimes it means going to the moomincabin. And sometimes it means both. And most people don’t understand the concept of owning two cabins, so they get confused (me too, confound it!). But we do have ownership in two cabins, and the folks I work with are pretty darn quick (despite being the “geriatric” team) and they have learned to ask, “Are you going to Houghton Lake or the Upper Peninsula?” They get it and I love them!

So, not everybody was “up” north this weekend, but the GG and the UU and TBL and TMOTB/CMOH (hope I got that right) were at Houghton Lake. And the GG went north from there to the UP, where he will work on trail maintenance with his wonderful North Country Trail friends. And hang out with The Commander. My mother, as you might know.

And I am here at the Landfill on the Planet Ann Arbor because I have one o’ them thar jobs to go to this week. It is a good job and I can work from home and sometimes do. But it has been hard for me to get up to the moominbeach as often as I would like to for the last few years. I am lucky that the GG gets along with The Commander as well as he does.

Quick drive-by clarification

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

I was just on the phone with The Commander. Yes, she does read my blahg and she read yesterday’s and she asked me if she had ever criticized the way I brought up my children. I’m not exactly sure where that came from since I didn’t mention anything about childrearing in that entry but I had to reply with a big, resounding “NO”!!! Because she didn’t. Ever. And I appreciated that. Thanks Moom!

We’re the top

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

The top generation, that is. We spent the morning at a service and celebration of the life of The Beautiful Becky’s father, Ray. TBB is one of my many beautiful, fun-loving Courtois sisters-in-law. She’s married to the GG’s “little” brother Jim and mom to their four children. Ray had a long, successful career with the International Union Operating Engineers Local 324 and many people today spoke of his talent for getting people with different opinions to work together. Not an easy thing during the years of decline in the Detroit area. I didn’t know Ray very well. We saw him and Becky’s mom (who died a week or so before my dad, in 2006) mostly at graduations and things for Becky and Jim’s kids. In the spirit of six degrees of separation, I believe an interest in conservation issues led him to cross paths with my uncle Austin, who served as the director of the Michigan DNR until his untimely death in 1972. Ray later served as chairman of that same organization. I don’t know much about all of that. I was a young, crazy kid in those days and didn’t have a full understanding of what my elders were doing.

So, some of the many Courtois family members (including the outlaw known as KW) attended today to support our beloved sister Becky and her family. I sat by The Beautiful Kathy and we caught up on whatever little bits of gossipy type stuff have happened since the last time we were together. Which was the weekend before Labor Day. A beautiful weekend of hiking the Mason Tract and motor-boating over to the tiki bar. And talking and laughing and talking and laughing and drinking whine and talking and laughing and talking and laughing, blah-de blah-de.

Today, one of the topics that came up was how we are getting to be the top generation in our family(ies). My sweet, beautiful mother-in-law Sally died too young way back in 1994 and Garth followed her in 2001. That’s nine years ago. I miss them. In my family, there are still a few folks left in the generation above me. On both sides of my family. Including The Commander. My mother. That venerable entity who still trundles and steams along at the age of 89. Hauling a butcher knife out of the kitchen when her long-suffering daughter starts talking about getting her a headlamp so she doesn’t fall down in the woods in the dark. Raising her cudgel up in the air at the grokkery store to ask “what is that up there?” Expressing anger at that long-suffering daughter (and only living child, alas) because she does not do things exactly like she was taught. As if a spirited child like KW [or Mouse] could be taught anything…

But I thought about all of this today. Yes, The Commander does drive me nuts sometimes (it’s okay, she reads this and she knows that and it’s mutual). I mean, I don’t (always) cook or clean the way she does and I do not wear shoes when I walk on the rocks at the end of the beach and I sometimes wear clothing that she doesn’t really approve of, although she doesn’t say much about that any more, I think she’s given up πŸ˜‰ And… Oh well, this is threatening to go on and on into the night. I will try to make it short. I am… Sorta… Glad… That there is still someone who occasionally treats me like I was 15 years old. Or three. I don’t really like being treated like a kid but, I know that one of these days, I *will* be the top generation. But I am not yet and I am not quite ready yet. Stick around for a while, you baggy old pie-making, iPhone-using old bag. Love you!

Farewell and Godspeed, Ray. You were one of the best.

Disaster recovery exercises

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Today was technically a work day for me but I worked from home (and from Zingerman’s at the Plum Market) and I will be honest enough to say that I was not all that productive. I had a lot of complicated thoughts about working (or not) from home and how my work situation(s) and thoughts about working (or not) from home have changed over the years and I was thinking about blahgging about that and then my long-simmering hankering for a GPS for my automotive vee-hickles boiled over and after running the gauntlet out to Best Buy twice (yes, twice, don’t ask), I have just such an aminal in my hot little hands to install in the Ninja tomorrow morning, when I will be bumpety-clunking over to a family event north of the Motor City. Disclaimer: I do not NEED a GPS to get over to the northern burbs of the Motor City. Or anywhere else in this god-forsaken state. I’m just an insufferable geek!

Anyway, in the late afternoon, I walked downtown to meet the GG for cocktails and dinner at the Old Town Barrooooom. On probably one of the most gorgeous evenings we’re going to have for many months. I ran into TWO of the most friendly dogs I have ever met. And I don’t mean the kind of friendly dogs who are jumping on you all the way up to your neck licking you as their owners rather insipidly yell, “He’s friendly!” from 50 yards away. I like dogs and I *know* they are just being friendly when they do that but… Both of the dogs I met on my way downtown tonight were venerable old souls who were sitting out on their respective sidewalks *alone*. I’m sure they were left out there alone because they could be trusted to greet a non-threatening passerby just as they did me. By slowly walking up with a wagging tail and uplifted head, asking for a pat. Which they definitely got from me, along with a sincere “Goooood dog”. My childhood dog Tigger, who was as obnoxious as all getout in her youth, especially if you were the milkman, learned to do that as an old dog. The GG wanted to hang around downtown for a while after dinner but I was reaching the absolute end of my rope, so we headed home. The dusk was deepening as we got over toward our west-side neighborhood and, when I saw a young man walking slowly along the sidewalk carrying a little girl, I knew exactly what he was doing. Dark Walk was once one of my more successful techniques for getting my spirited little mouse to settle down enough to make the transition into sleep. And then, a pit stop in Miller Woods (yes, you do know what that means) and home to write a higgledy-piggledy babblety-babblety blahg entry of incomprehensible blather. G’night! -KW.

Well, it looked like a gator at the time…

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

NPJane (or is it “Hurricane Jane”) and I were walking the moominbeach the Saturday of the big windstorm we had over the Labor Day weekend. I was wearing a green raincoat over the short shorts that make up the bottom half of my summer hiking outfit. I’m sure I prob’ly looked a bit like a flasher but I needed to be able to wade out into the waves and NPJane was the only person around and she knows I am not a flasher. I think. We were scouting for beach chairs and boat rollers and a red kayak and we didn’t find any of those — that day, anyway — but we did find this sorta alligator-like piece of wood or whatever it is. Rest assured that there are no alligators anywhere near the shores of Gitchee Gumee. Grandroobly did once try to adopt one as a pet. This was in the 1920s, I think. He bought it from Basil (whose mom prob’ly told him to get rid of it) for 25 cents. He kept it in the bathtub at 1001 John St. overnight. His mother (my grandma) told him he had to get rid of it. He sold it to some other kid for 10 cents. Not an auspicious start to a banking career, was it?

It is Thursday. I don’t know why but Thursdays usually drive me nuts and this one is no exception. For one thing, after our work kayak expotition on Tuesday, I woke up the next morning thinking it was Friday. Alas, it wasn’t anywhere near Friday. But here’s where we are right now. Not to work-blahg, but I love my latest assignment, which involves a little more programming than usual. It’s just javascript but that’s okay. And we are moving forward on our kitchen reno albeit in fits and starts, due to our own incompetence at nailing down our requirements. And finally, I am suffering from a bit of canceler’s remorse. Maybe I shouldda kept the old phone number for some small amount of money per month. Even though we don’t ever use it or have a phone that actually works.

But then again, I think that keeping an old phone number forever even if you are not using it could be called a form of hoarding. I’ve gone on record before saying that I didn’t want to leave my kids (someday, not soon) with a bunch of crap to clean up. The Commander is determined not to leave me with a bunch of stuff (not that she’s going anywhere any time soon) and I am bound and determined to continue that tradition. So, phone number begone! And now, I need to get going on the rest of the Landfill.

Good night. Is Thursday a difficult day for you? Whaddy’all have planned for the weekend?

R.I.P. 662-2983

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

“You’ve had this phone number for 30 years! Are you sure you want to cancel it?” Yes. Yes, I do. And yes, there are people who aren’t particularly happy that I’m canceling it. Including me! But I’m doing it *anyway*.

Yes. I have had the number 662-2983 for 30 years. I was not the original person to be assigned that number. It was the Marquis of Regenaxe. I had to wrestle with the phone company to take it over from him when he and the Grand Poohbah got married and moved to St. Louie* and I took over their apartment. Yesterday, I had to wrestle with the phone company again to finally disconnect service to it.

It isn’t easy to disconnect your land line. They make you call the phone company. Ever tried try to call the phone company? I’m just sayin’. If I could have used the inter-tubes to disconnect my phone, I’d’ve done it a long time ago. But you can’t do that. Why? Because they need to “verify your identity.” Know what that means? They need you to tell them your name and the last four digits of your social security number. In other words, it’s horse-crap! They *could* collect that information over the information highway. They want you to call them so they can try to plead, wheedle, and cajole you into keeping your old land line phone service. Even if you haven’t had a working telephone connected to it for the last three years. “But you are a preferred customer yada yada yada.” Roight. And, “Well, what are you going to use for your phone service?” Um, the device I am calling you on maybe? After 12 minutes of this stuff from two (count ’em) customer service sales representatives, I finally said, “We have three iPhones here. Your company is making plenty of money off of us.” And so it ended.

I am sorry. I know there is at least one person who is a little sad about this. And I’m kind of sad too. It’s a little like the day a couple years ago when I cried after I dragged a battered old garbage can out to the curb for a special old garbage can pickup. It was here when we moved into the Landfill 24 years before and it was old and battered then. I had no personal attachment to it at all so wtf about the tears. Phone number? That’s a little different. My childhood telephone number still exists, although the person who retains it is now pretty successfully using an iPhone. I can remember my friend Laurie’s phone number, which I called at 8:00 every Saturday morning. And I remember the bank telephone number that I used to call and ask, “May I speak to Jack Finlayson, please?” when I needed to wheedle something out of my dad. A couple other important telephone numbers, my grandparents’ and my friend Helen’s, are lost to me. Try as I might, I can’t dredge them up. I guess they’re in some obscure data base table somewhere within the far reaches of my brain.

But this is the 21st century and we were paying $40 a month for a landline and long distance service we haven’t used for several years. Farewell 662-2983. I hope you end up in good hands. I will never forget you. Literally.

* The Marquis is probably gonna hate that I wrote “St. Louie”. I love him and I’m just messing with him. πŸ˜‰

When worlds collide.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Wow! Two of my worlds collided today on a work kayak/canoe outing. When the invitation came out a month or so ago, I didn’t accept immediately. My team really is a bit like cats. We are the so-called geriatric team and we don’t tend to socialize in the way that a 20-something work team might. We are geeks and when we are not at work, we want to be home with our families, getting our chores done or pursuing our other interests. We don’t need to “bond” in order to learn to treat each other with respect. We learned that lesson early in our careers. So. I own kayaks, so I can kayak pretty much any time I want, logistics and weather permitting. I could participate in the outing or not. Whatever.

But then. My cube neighbor yelled over the wall, “Hey KW, are you going on that kayak trip?” I replied, “I will if you want me to!” And she did. She lives on one of the small lakes out in the county and she was interested in trying out a kayak. I know that kayaks can be an intimidating idea if you’ve never tried one. I remember when The Engineer brought that first yellow Walden Vista to the moominbeach. I was flabbergasted! I had seen NPJane do the Eskimo Roll in her white-water kayak. Yiiy! I was terrified to try kayaking — and didn’t for at least a year. When I finally did try, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long. It was my kind of boat. Stable and low in the water and easy to maneuver.

I love my cube neighbor. After three years at this job, I still regard her as a valuable mentor. She wanted someone with experience to be with her for her first kayak trip and I welcomed the chance to mentor her in that small way. Not that she needed it.

As I suspected, my cube neighbor turned out to be a natural at kayaking! It was a pretty short ride altogether, about an hour or so. We were dropped off just below the Broadway Bridge and paddled back down to Gallup Park. While we were waiting to board our buses up to the drop-off, one young whippersnapper was asking about the depth of the river. I haven’t actually kayaked that stretch of the river before but then my brain dredged up a vague memory of *walking* that stretch of river, or part of it, once back in the dark ages. The whippersnapper was amazed! “You WALKED? You walked IN THE RIVER?” Well, yes. He couldn’t get over that. I told him that beer might well have been involved but I don’t really remember if it was…

Anyway, this was an absolutely gorgeous day to kayak and I had a wonderful time, even when I had to scooch myself off of rocks or even get out of my boat to move it from one inch of water to six inches of water. And even though my butt was totally wet by the end of it and didn’t dry out for a couple hours. I mean wet by water and not by you-know-what-that-begins-with-p. Other people were complaining about how wet they were but I enjoyed every minute of it. Today was a beautiful kayaking day and I was with friends and getting wet is part of it all.

All the kids are above average

Monday, September 13th, 2010

I am just mindlessly blathering away today so go somewhere else if you want actual meaningful content. I whined to the long-suffering, cat-herding person about being in a lull and I am no longer in a lull, oh boy oh boy oh boy, and then dev finally started to get after me and so work is on my mind. And kitchen design. And tomorrow is Kayak Day! Yay! So I am going to whine about something that happened Friday evening that I am not really grumpy about any more. At least not today. I do get intermittently grumpy about this topic.

And no, my dear Porters, it has nothing to do with our loverly evening out on the town. That was fun although my skin and hair started to take on just the slightest tinge of a rather pumpkin-ish color by the time we reached the schoolyard on our walk home. It was what happened on the way *down* to the Center of the Universe aka The Planet Ann Arbor. When I ran into some old friends of mine, fellow grade school (and high school) parents. Beloved friends. I miss them. We worked together on school volunteer stuff a lot. Their house is on my walking route and I can remember one time when: 1) I took off for a walk. 2) She called the house asking for me. 3) Whoever answered the phone told her I was walking. 4) As I approached their street, she was hanging out the door waiting for me. Good times.

So Friday, I ran into these people as I was red-queening downtown to meet the GG/Porters for cocktails/dinner. I couldn’t just ignore their presence. I LIKE them! But man oh man. Planet Ann Arbor parents or what? Blah-de blah-de yada yada. The Kid is doing so wonderfully well. Grad school at blah-de-blah. Wonderful fiancee. They even LIKE her. And her PARENTS are so great blah-de blah-de! This went on for maybe five minutes. Was I antsy? Well, yes. I had been texting the GG my progress downtown every quarter mile (iPhone pedometer app) and I knew he was wondering if a squirrel had attacked me or whatever.

I dunno. This kid is a smart kid but not any smarter than my kids. Anyway, I think most of the kids on the Planet Ann Arbor are above average but, then again, most of the kids on the Planet Ann Arbor are showered with food, clothing, books, technological devices, trips to exotic locations… Helicopter parents? Yes, we have them. I *hope* I wasn’t one of those… But then. There are the other kids. The ones who don’t get breakfast not because they refuse to eat anything but because there isn’t any food in the house and/or no responsible adults are around/awake to help them get food. Etc. Yes, we have those folks here. But that would be a whole ‘nother entry. One I’m not up to tonight.

My children are wonderful. They are intelligent and accomplished and more thoughtful about their rules for living their life than I think I was at that age. But they are also people. They have good and bad days. Triumphs and failures. And so, if they have some kind of triumph, I might mark it but I don’t trumpet it everywhere to anyone who will listen. Because you never know what is around the corner and pride so often comes before a fall. Yes, it does. But then. The folks that I ran into that night were telling me about their kid because they *like* me and trust me enough to tell me about their kid’s current success. And that kid has probably had some bad days too. So… Hmmm….

I have posted this photoooo of my beautiful tow-headed beach urchins before and I’m posting it again because I love it so much. Because it reminds me of when I was a kid hauling logs on the moominbeach with my brother and cousins.

Joyful and triumphant. And beef stew.

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

I dragged the GG out at 0-skunk-30 and we drove down to Lake Erie Metropark to look for raptors hike. We really were interested in the raptor migration but we also knew that we probably weren’t into the prime season for that. Hawkfest is next weekend and we’ll miss that this year. Alas.

Anyway. We got off in true KW/GG fashion, arguing about where to get gas and which McD’s to get coffee at yada yada. This is before sunrise, mind you. We ended up getting gas at the Shell by the south entrance of Dee-troit Metro and then. As we were exiting. We were sitting at a red light. It was taking a looooonnnnngggg time. 747s were taking off overhead. Ever sit at the end of a runway when a 747 is taking off? Yeah, probably some of y’all have. I’d just as soon not πŸ˜‰ Anyway. The light was redddddddddd. The GG waited for traffic to clear. And then. He made a left turn. That’s right. He RAN the light! I made the usual exasperated, annoyed freaked out noises and then I thought about it. My dad started doing stuff like that the last couple years before he died. Making up his own traffic rules. “There aren’t any cars within a mile in any direction and I’m not gonna sit here and wait for the light to change.” The old guy was still a wonderful driver in terms of skill and eyesight and reflexes and all that stuff. But… So, my husband is turning into my father? Hmmmm…..

I love Lake Erie Metropark. I love Lake Erie Metropark. I love Lake Erie Metropark. I love Lake Erie Metropark. I love Lake Erie Metropark. That is all. It is an urban park. Large grassy areas for pic-a-nic baskets and a wave pool et al. Cops. Bi-cycle cops with guns (friendly to us old bags and that was a holiday weekend). Border patrol cops sitting around watching folks like us walk or whatever. Nature is around the fringes. I don’t care. It is what it is. I love it anyway. Our walk today was 5.6 miles. In beautiful overcast weather. We could’ve added another 1.5 if we’d done the Marshlands Nature Trail. I left it up to the GG and he declined. And that was okay. The sun was just coming out and I didn’t want to break the spell.

Home. Dragged Mouse out to Jenny’s farm stand in Dexter. Three piglets, a HUGE horse. I stayed back a bit, even though he was behind a fence. No newborn goats yet. Too early.

Neighborhood ice cream truck includes “O Come, All Ye Faithful” in its musical rotation? Why? Maybe the driver has been hanging around behind the Plum Market? The heathen KW asks her lapsed-Catholic husband if he’s ever heard that xmas carol and he replies something like, “the Catholic church recognizes Jesus.” Don’tcha know. Here I thought we just sang it at Central United. At Christmas.

To end the day, I took a load of laundry down to the washer in the Landfill Dungeon. I saw one of my little knee-high stockings on the floor and I picked it up thinking I didn’t know if it was clean or dirty and I would just throw it in with the wash. (And yes, I do wear those knee-high things. They keep my Chacos from destroying my feet at work in the summer. Don’t ask or I will give you more information than you ever wanted to know.) I reached down to grab it and realized that it was attached to something. That something was a very small specimen of mus musculus (the scurry type, not the puffalump type) and it didn’t seem to be moving very fast. I enlisted the GG’s help to mitigate this situation and he carefully relocated mus to the compost heap at the back of the yard. I hope that all that’s wrong with that little mus is hunger. That may not be true but, if it is, our compost heap will provide plenty of food.

So, it was a less than slodgy Sunday for once and we are gonna grill some salmon and saute a bunch of veggies and our own Mus Musculus is out at the first rehearsal for her newest play and I know she is happy about that but I can’t say any more, mostly because I can’t even remember what play it is or what role she has.