Archive for October, 2010

Where have all the trick-or-treaters shoe-on-ers gone?

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

It is 7:30 on Halloween night and we have had three groups of trick-or-treaters. What the heck is going on? It is not a particularly warm Halloween but it’s not anywhere near cold enough to snow and, anyway, we are not getting *any* kind of precipitation tonight. I can remember the beach urchins going out in snow and Lizard Breath coming home with such cold feet that I ran her a nice warm soaky bath. I definitely went out in the snow when I was a kid up in Sault Ste. Siberia and the GG remembers when he and his twin of terror would still be out trick or treating at 11 PM, ringing doorbells insistently enough to get people out of bed. No, they did not have parental supervision on those expotitions.

Duh, now that we have turned on the actual porch light, we are getting a few more kids. We have a lot of lights and lit pumpkins out there but we forgot to turn on the porch light. Still, it’s pretty quiet out there tonight. Is it because it’s a school night? Do people think we are grumpy old people? We are not! We love Halloween. Heck, the GG spent a good part of Friday carving jack-o-lanterns with his power tools. And I gleefully hand out handfuls of little packages of high fructose corn syrup in various form factors. I stole Frooggy’s orange and black bat mardi gras beads and I’m wearing my big black skeleton earrings and a beauteous piece of black/purple/silver spider web fabric to drape over my head. It matches my socks. (I retired my old aurora borealis costume this year. It’s shredded. Gotta move on.)

I hope that Halloween remains a fun holiday for kids and that trick-or-treating doesn’t die out. It is not that dangerous in my neighborhood. Parents accompany the little ones and hopefully middle/high-schoolers should have enough street sense not to hang around if someone creeps them out. And yes, I happily hand stuff out to middle and high-schoolers. They are still kids. Let ’em have fun! Now, the beauteous zombie in the photooo is not on her way out to trick-or-treat. At 23, she is heading out to meet up with friends at a barrrooom somewhere. She says that she hasn’t dressed up for Halloween in eight or 10 years. I think I lost track after the year she was a hippie, dragging around in an old flowered skirt of mine. That wouldda been about 5th grade. I think. Or was she a hipp*o* that year…

At any rate, I think we’ve maybe had five groups of trick-or-treaters total this year. Maybe next year we’ll just go “up north”. Except it’ll be a Monday. Sigh…

P.S. Elizilla, I have a *few* photooos. I’ll try to put them on Flickr tomorrow. And there is a little video on facebook. Hope that two turntables and a microphone turned out!

Navel gazing

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

I scored a 30. On the Autism Spectrum Quotient test. I took the test on facebook but y’all are not on facebook. How do I know y’all are not on facebook? Because The Commander is not on facebook (she is on twitter though), therefore, y’all are not on facebook!

According to the folks who put the test together, “Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher.” I am pretty darn close. Of course, it’s just a test on the internet and the disclaimer is that, “the test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger’s report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives”.

Yes. I have long suspected I wasn’t too far off from being autistic. I am not autistic but, as the beach urchins were growing up and I was hanging around the public schools volunteering, there always all this talk about autism and Aspergers and the difficulties that so many children were having with school, yada yada blah-de blah-de. I am not a very kid-friendly person from the get-go. I’m not warm and fuzzy with most children, although I was pretty over the top with my own kids but I suppose that’s biology taking over. When I encountered kids in the schools who fell somewhere along the high end of the autism spectrum, I could often understand why they were having difficulties. I don’t think a lot of the wonderful people who become teachers are necessarily prepared to deal with some of these kids. I think that a lot of the folks who are drawn to teaching as a career love to be around other people and may not understand how overwhelmed a kid with Asperger’s (for example) can get in social situations. Like school.

I’m not sure if the term “autism” had been invented back in the Pleistocene Age, when I went to grade school. I didn’t hear about Asperger syndrome until sometime in the 1990s or whenever. I suspect that if I had *exhibited* more difficulties adjusting to school than I did as a kid *and* Asperger’s had been defined back in the Pleistocene Age, I may have been a good candidate for an evaluation and might even have been labeled an Aspie. As it was, I did okay in elementary school. I was ahead of the game academically (mostly because I was old for my grade) and although I wasn’t the best at socializing with other kids, I managed to play with lots of the kids in my class and me and my best neighborhood friend (who attended the nearby Catholic school) were BFFs until we hit junior high and I’m not gonna go on from there because junior high and sometimes high school sucks for lots of kids.

My life has been pretty dern good. I’m still not the best at social situations but I am okay if I can find something to focus on or there’s a bit of whine. I have some really good friends. Friends who have laughed off my social difficulties and refused to give up on me. And I am a very good friend once I understand and trust someone…

I could write on and on about whether or not I think that the public schools in our country are properly serving kids on the autism spectrum. I think that most of these kids are highly intelligent and creative in their own way. They know how to do things that others do not. We need to support these kids and not make them (or their parents) feel like outsiders.

Enough. Did you take the test? Did you get the score you expected?


Friday, October 29th, 2010

Duncan Street.

Wellington Park.

Maryfield Park.

Encounter the Bs and their loverly dog but manage to red-queen politely along without having to hear two hours of news about their wonderful son, yada yada yada.

Huron/Dexter/Jackson intersection.

Slauson Middle School.

Somewhere on Washington Street. Near Mulholland, I guess.

Drop Acid Not Bombz railroad bridge.

Aaaaannnnnnd, the Old Town barrrrooom!

There are two restaurants I will order hamburgers at.

One of them is Clyde’s Drive In.

The other is the Old Town barrrrooom.

Figger the four mile round trip down to the Old Town barrrroooom and back prob’ly burned about enough calories to equal a bite or two of that hamburger.

Water the woods in Maryfield Park on the way home.

Become a bit damp via the watering expotition.


Brucie’s Halloween costume today: big beer mug hat, pumpkin sweatshirt, and stuffed squirrel.

My Halloween costume today: black socks with silver spiderwebs and purple spiders.

People who follow games involving large men throwing balls around report that big beer mug hats are not now more prevalent than cheese hats among attendees of games played in the state of Wisconsin.

Not cold enough for a faaaarrr inside the landfill.

Perfect for a faaaarrrr outside in the back yard.

Too taarrrred for a faaaarrrrr.

GG asnore on the couch.

iPad safely home.

No need to rush down to the Old Town barrroooom in a panic at 11 PM looking for iPad.


Thursday, October 28th, 2010

I have some interesting perks at my work. For one thing, we are right next to the airport. I mean the Ann Arbor airport, not Daytwa Metro. I like to watch planes and helicopters and things take off and land and I love when somebody is doing that as I am driving by. And occasionally, the Goodyear Blimp tethers itself there. There’s the building mom receptionist who goes above and beyond the call of duty to alert us via email when there’s a storm coming or there’s some kind of traffic jam on the nearby freeways. There’s Farmer J, who provides us with our own little market beginning with asparagus in about April and ending around now with pumpkins. There’s the co-worker who keeps me and my team members supplied with loverly objects that he ferrets out from thrift shops and ebay, et al. Crystal vases and things. Stuffed aminals. Red sweaters. Mirrors. And mirrors and more mirrors. You need mirrors to reflect some of these beeyootyful objects, don’tcha know. I won’t even begin to try to describe that long-suffering, cat-herding person in this space. For one thing, as I’ve said more than a few times before, I ain’t never gonna make no money off o’ this here blahg, so I better not do the dooce thing. For another thing, he is pretty much indescribable. One needs to experience him. I love these people, as if you couldn’t tell.

And then there’s my parking space. You can see the view from my parking space there in the photoooo. Yes. It’s my parking space. I park there every day. Nobody else ever parks in that space. Oh, occasionally some birdwatchers come along and hang out there with their cameras and scopes and things for a while. Mostly, it’s myyyyy space. And no, I do not have an assigned space. Actually, I don’t think anybody in the Planet Ann Arbor office has an assigned space. There’s no *need* for assigned parking spaces. Even for the management. There is enough space in our parking lot that you can pretty much pick your space. I have chosen *this* space. It’s in the farthest row away from the building, which would be the third row. And look who was in the pond right in front of my parking space this morning! It was the old admiral, keeping an eye out for fish. There are a lot of geese there too. When I first parked, the geese were surrounding the old admiral and there were so many of them that I didn’t even notice him at first. As I exited the Dogha, one goose started to flex his wing muscles. By the time I had gotten my laptop and other work-related cosmic debris out of the Dogha, the geese had relocated to an area farther out in the pond and only the old admiral remained.

Raccoon eyes

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

I mentioned a while back that Chloe Belle sent me on a little photoooo dredging expotition back into the Jurassic Age. The purpose of the expotition was to find wedding photoooos so that the very creative TMOTB/CMOH could put together a collage of all the once brides who were invited to The Beautiful Renee’s wedding. TMOTB placed this beauteous collage in the bathroom at the reception.

The assignment was to provide a photooo of myself at my wedding and I procrastinated about sending it in. In part that was because I *thought* that I had a bunch of wedding photos on my computer and I figured I could just find one any old time and go print it at Tarjay or somewhere. Wouldn’t you know, when I finally got around to looking for my photos, after a whole bunch of deserved admonitions from Chloe Belle, I could not find the wedding photos. 20,000 haphazardly tagged photos? Yeah. You try. So I had to go back and look for the album and find something to scan. Nothing is ever easy and neither was this. Because I didn’t *have* any kind of “official” wedding photographer. The Engineer probably took some photos and maybe some other people. It was a beach wedding and it was what it was and I had a devil of a time finding a photo of just me. I finally had to crop the old coot (my dad) out of one. His hand is on my arm in the photo in the collage that was posted in the bathroom.

The photo accompanying this post is not the one that was included in the collage*. I’m posting it here because it shows that we were barefoot. I had to talk The Commander down off a ledge about that. That venerable woman had a really hard time accepting the fact that I was going to get married in bare feet. Fer kee-reist, I got married on the BEACH!!! MY beach! The beach I have known since I was six months old. I have ALWAYS gone barefoot on that beach. I still do. Why the heck would I wear shoes at my wedding? That conversation went on right up until it was time to walk down to the beach, uh, aisle. But I WAS wearing bare feet. And, as the old coot and I started down the path to the beach, I happened to look down at HIS feet and guess what HE was wearing? Or not wearing, as was the case. (Love you, ol’ man, wherever the heck you are.)

I never did get my photo printed out. I loaded it on to a jump drive and took it over to Tarjay on the way to work. The machine was jammed and nobody there knew how to fix it. They had a call in to Kodak. Did I have any shopping to do? Meeeeee? Shop? Yiiiy! Shopping? No. I looked at the nice, friendly employee with panic in my eyes and mumbled something about having to go to work, not that the long-suffering, cat-herding person would much care if I was a little late.

I left the store feeling a little dejected. I knew that Chloe Belle was waiting for my photo and I felt like I was letting him down. But it was more than that. Going through those photos reminded me of all the people who were at my wedding that aren’t around any more. Duke was the first to leave us, only a year or so later. For a long time after that, things went on very happily. My generation had our babies and then, in only a few years, we lost Katie, Don, The Engineer, my dad, Radical Betty. And here we are. The Fin Fam is sort of between weddings. Our 20-somethings are busy building their lives and not ready to marry. We meet more often at funerals these days. I got to work, dried the damn tears off my face, checked that I didn’t have raccoon eyes, and went inside to lose myself in the details of my job.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think one of the reasons I cry at weddings nowadays is that I am thinking about all of the people who are not around any more. I am not sad exactly. I’m not sure that anyone could be sad watching The Beautiful Renee and her new husband Nick begin their life together. They are wonderful young people and I am very happy for them. But there I sat, tears streaming down my face, feeling caught between the future and the past. I haven’t explained this very well but I am outta words. Ya do the hokey pokey and ya turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about!

Sappily yours and good night,

* I sent it to Chloe Belle but only for fun. I didn’t expect it to be included.

Jet Ninja lag

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Yes, I was Dragon Woman today. Even though we didn’t even switch time zones over the weekend. I got up on time but I had abandoned my walking routine over the weekend and a part of me felt really lazy about starting it all up again. I know better than that. I am much better off if I keep moving and I can’t even imagine a lifestyle of sitting around watching TV and eating at McDonald’s or wherever. It’s hard to establish an early morning walking routine just anywhere you happen to be staying. Our neighborhood this weekend was safe enough in terms of the demographic sector. But walking in the dark on the narrow, winding country roads seemed like insanity. It was okay. We did do some walking around the city and there was that one death march at Mt. Mitchell. And anyway, it was worthwhile to hang around with the folks at the cabin, including the daughter I hardly ever get to see. So I bagged it for the weekend.

Today I did my morning walk but I had to abandon my lunchtime walk. Why? Well. For one thing, we were under a tornado watch. Yes. In truth, it didn’t look very tornado-y out there to me and I would have walked anyway, except that it was raining cats and dogs. And even *that* would have been okay. Except that the wind was blowing hard enough that my umbrella would have turned inside out. So I bagged it. Blah.

The weather is not anywhere near as bad here as was threatened. The tornado watch was canceled a long time ago and about all we’ve got going now is a “high wind watch”. It is not very windy out so I guess we’re watching. In general it was a very blah day and obviously I don’t have much to say. I was in Asheville just long enough to get to the point where I’m missing it now. But here I am, slodging along on The Planet Ann Arbor in the messy old Landfill. Hope y’all had a more exciting or at least productive day than I did.

Six hundred eleven moiles

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Asheville, North Caraliney to Ann Arbor, Meeecheeegaan. Am I a little roto, you ask? Yeah. I am a little roto. But not as roto after 611 miles as I have been on past trips down from the Yooperland, which is “only” 350 miles or thereabouts. Our first stop before leaving town last Thursday morning was the Plum Market (Zingerman’s for carry-out coffee and bagels). My first stop after returning to the Planet Ann Arbor this afternoon was the Plum Market (a WALKING trip to forage for food after all of those moiles in the loverly Ninja). I managed to pick out food but I am kind of a zombie right now and I told the lovely 20-something woman who checked out my grokkeries about that and she commiserated with me about that drive and welcomed me home. Love.

This trip was as smooth as it gets. Only one or two VERY minor slowdowns both directions, i.e., only had to downshift to about 4th gear for traffic and/or construction. Even during the heavy rain we got on eastbound I40 this morning between Asheville and Knoxville. That’s pretty dern good. It turns out that Angry Birds (an iPhone game) works about as well as dramaqueen* for those who are prone to motion sickness on car trips. I suspect that plain old solitaire on the iPhone would work just as well. I sure played a lot of games of that over the weekend. But I don’t get motion sickness for the most part.

Our lodging was absolutely beautiful. I posted a photo the day we got down there. Scroll down to last Thursday. I wish I had more photos but this weekend what it was and I had a lot of fun but I didn’t take lots of pictures. The Beautiful Becky (one of my many wonderful sisters-in-law) searched our place out on the internet. It was a log “cabin” (house) in the woods with a huge front porch and creek down the hill in the back yard and every amenity, even an iron! This place was competitively priced with most hotel rooms and sleeps about 10 (we had eight). It was wonderful to have a beautiful place in the woods that we could come “home” to, to spread out and relax. One of my favorite memories of the weekend might be getting up early the morning after the wedding to tink around cleaning the kitchen up and making a breakfast for Elizilla before her flight back to SanFran. One bonus was that we figured out that our place was so close to the wedding venue that we didn’t even need to navigate the main roads to get to it. Another was that, the family who rents it have a non-profit (I think) therapeutic horseback-riding business. They work with children and they were kind enough to give the teenage nieces staying at our cabin a chance to meet and ride some of their horses. We were downtown during this but it sounded wonderful. If I had had that kind of introduction to horses when I was a kid, I’d probably like them more. Oh well.

Asheville? Absolutely gorgeous! I have whoooooshed through Asheville once before. It was at the end of a long day of traveling from Florida to Michigan with young children and I think *everyone* was at the end of their ropes. This time, both of those children were with us but one (23) helped with the driving and the other (25-26) flew in from her home in SanFran and back out again.

What to do in Asheville? The Biltmore? The Blue Ridge Parkway? Downtown Asheville? Well. We had time enough to do EITHER the Biltmore or the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you know me in real life in the last 15 years or so, you will know that, given a choice between the Biltmore or the Blue Ridge, I will choose the Blue Ridge. And so I did. We also dipped in and out of downtown Asheville a few times. We had wonderful food everywhere we ate and I chose things with a southern flavor everywhere except the Indian place we ate lunch yesterday. There are a gazillion stores, restaurants, and art galleries in downtown Asheville. If I was in a more acquisitional stage of life and had a wee little bit more disposable income, I could’ve had a field day shopping. Alas, I got overwhelmed by the shopping. I did like the street musicians that seemed to be everywhere. They were usually pretty good and I wish I had had some dollar bills hanging around to sneak into their instrument cases when the GG wasn’t looking. As it was I had NO cash for most of the weekend. Bad planning on my part.

And then. We stopped to meet someone who Mouse has long known by association with a friend of hers here on the planet. That wonderful person owns an art gallery in downtown Asheville and we only had time to do a little drive-by visit with her but she had some wonderful ideas about things to do and places to eat and where to shop. And where to stay downtown if you wanted to do that. If you didn’t have a car… All of which made me (sort of) wish I had five more days there. But I didn’t. Maybe some day. And so we are back here on the Planet Ann Arbor, missing the beautiful days we spent at the cabin with Jim and TBB and our children.

The wedding? I do not have the words to say how wonderful the wedding was. This CRUSTY, baggy old kayak woman was sitting there streaming tears, wishing she had even just one blasted kleenex (or could pull out her iPhone and play solitaire in order to FOCUS on something!) and freaking out about whether she would have to spend the whole night wearing raccoon eyes. All I will say tonight is that, I know there were probably tense moments during the planning, etc., etc. It’s hard to plan any kind of an event without that. But there was NO evidence of any kind bridezilla in this shindig. These “kids” and their families created a beautiful event that truly celebrated the beginning of their lives as a married couple but made everyone else feel included too. It was one of the best weddings I’ve ever attended.

Love y’all,
Zombie Woman

* dramaqueen = dramamine

Doing U-eys in the Greenlife parking lot

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Over the course of the weekend, the GG and I have both, on separate occasions, made a wrong turn that resulted in a U-turn in the parking lot of the Greenlife grokkery store. An omen perhaps? Except I didn’t realize it was a grokkery store either time. But then this afternoon, I had been thinking about what the heck we were going to eat for lunch on our trip home. I was not looking forward to the prospect of having to find quick, healthy food near the freeway in, say, Kentucky. Bourbon maybe… Thanks to a little help from a new acquaintenance, we are set with salads from Greenlife. Which turns out to be a grokkery store a lot like Whole Foods! Yes.

We have gotten the hang of driving Asheville. Sort of. At the least, we can get from here to the downtown area and back. Turn at British Petroleum, Ingles, and Ingles. (Ingles is also a grokkery store.) And we have been to the airport twice. After this morning’s trip to the airport, we met up with the bridal party at their hotel for a rather disorganized breakfast. Which was okay with us because we had already eaten breakfast. After everyone said their goodbyes and scattered to the winds, we (meeeee, the GG, and Mouse walked around downtown for a while. People say this place is similar to the Planet Ann Arbor (the Ann Arbor of the south or whatever). I dunno. Not quite. Can’t totally put my finger on why. It is a beautiful city and I have loved staying here but I think I will never live anywhere else other than the Great White North.

This is boring and I am fried and the interior of my brain feels a lot like that photo of the wedding reception looks so I am done for the night. Back on the road tomorrow.

Verging on vertigo

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

I finally made it out onto the Blue Ridge Parkway today and all I had for a camera was my iPhone. Actually I did have my trusty old Canon Powershot but I had taken out the memory card and I was too lazy to dredge around in my little black backpack for that so I got whatever photos I got and here is one of them.

I am always talking about what an enthusiastic hiker I am, yada yada. Well. We took a measly little two-miler today up near the top of Mount Mitchell and IT DERN NEAR KILLED ME!!! Yes. We went DOWN on a more or less vertical trail with big rocks and tree roots for steps for what seemed like forever. I had to pick my way amongst the rocks with my worn out old hiking sandals. If we hadn’t been surrounded by forest, I’m sure I’d’ve had vertigo. I dunno why I was thinking that we would be going DOWN the whole way. Maybe because we drove UP the mountain from our end point? But then (hello!), we started going UP. And that was an absolute killer. Same kind of thing in reverse and I was HOT by then. It was not cold in the mountains today. Cloudless sky and absolutely no breeze. And, of course, I was hiking with MOUSE, who was going FAST, dancing along over the rocks like a little mountain goat. I could not keep up and, to add insult to injury, she kept stopping and turning around to make sure her baggy old moom was all right. Roight!

We got back and regrouped on the cabin porch for the afternoon and now we are all scrambling (or not) to get ready for the wedding and I am trying to decide if anyone will notice if I wear my raggedy old hiking sandals. At least we have determined that the wedding is actually in our neighborhood, just a few miles away and not involving busy streets or loopty-loop freeway interchanges. Yay for that!

Happy birthday Elizilla and congratulations to Renee and Nick!

Loop de loop de loop de loop de loop de loop de loop de loop de loop

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I bought a little GPS unit for my automotive vee-hickle a while back. For no good reason, just because I wanted one. I don’t need a GPS to get to work or drive up and down the I75 SUV Speedway or any of that stuff. Today I think that thing paid for itself! I spent a large part of the day ferrying people around here and there and we are staying a bit outside the city in a tangle of winding roads that change names (or seem to) every few miles and the freeways loopty-loop all over the place. Even with the GPS, I managed to make some wrong turns. Once it even told me to turn around! By the end of the day, I was starting to get the hang of Asheville. I think. I don’t know what I’d’ve done without my GPS. What a mess!

There was a “guy” trip up to Mount Mitchell for hiking this morning and I missed out on it. Oh, not because it was a “guy” trip. I wouldda barged my way into it if I’d really wanted to go. And actually, I did. But there was something else that I wanted to do even more than hiking in the mountains, which was to pick up my “baby” at the Asheville airport. She took the red-eye from San Francisco last night and was scheduled to arrive at 11:15. That was not compatible with hiking in the mountains. I’ll have to do that another day.

And so, because I hardly ever see both of my kids together these days, here is a photoooo (Mouse posted a better one on Twitter). The one on the left is Liz. It’s not much of a picture but she doesn’t look too shabby for someone who was up all night, don’tcha think? Aaaannnnnd… She will be 26 tomorrow. Which I can hardly believe. This will be the first birthday I’ve been with her since her 17th. We were having lunch at… Uhhh, I forget the name of the place. We had been leaning toward Thai but we changed our minds at the last minute when we saw fried green tomatoes on the menu at the place next door. We can get Thai anywhere but we figured we’d probably never get good green fried tomatoes in the Great White North. Callyforny maybe. But they were good and then we were too tired to do anything else so we wound our way back to the rental cabin and vegged out. Tonight? Dinner and cocktails at Olive or Twist with the bridal party.

P.S. Correction: apparently we drove over to her college on her 19th birthday, took her out to lunch, and gave her an embarrassing number of gifts. Forgot that.

Asheville or Nashville

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Lemme see. We left at 6:00 AM today, dropping down south outta the Planet Ann Arbor. It was after, oh, I dunno, about 1 PM, after a wonderful little picnic lunch at the Tennessee welcome center and a leetle wee expotition into Jellico to find dramaqueen, and a nasty little 20 mph interchange ramp onto I640 that we saw that highway interchange sign. Mouse and I were both wishing we were camera-ready but we weren’t and the GG was sitting in the back plugged in to just about everything and therefore oblivious.

It took us 11 hours to get to this beeyootiful cabin just outside of Asheville. No, we did not go to Nashville. We are supposed to go to a wedding this weekend but I would really rather just sit on the porch here. And walk down to the creek in the back yard. Etc., etc. I am just kidding. I dunno what we’ll do tomorrow but we’ll be at the wedding with bells on.

It was one of the best drives we’ve ever taken down south on the I75 SUV Speedway and Dayton was the only place we encountered horrible traffic and that didn’t even slow us down. And I loved I40 through eastern Tennessee, and at one point, the GG suggested that we get off the road and go through the mountains and, hey, there was a road right there that would take us up near Clingman’s Dome! Well. I had seen that road too and I said, “Bill, I think that road goes straight up a mountain and I am not into bushwhacking at this point in the trip.” In the Ninja. No thank you. And so, we stayed on the freeway and here we are and I cannot believe what a beautiful place this is. And The Beautiful Becky and I spent quite some time out on the back deck and Mouse did a lot of the cooking and now Roy is here and I gotta go.

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

Not my favorite subject

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

If you had asked me as a teenager what my favorite subject was, I would’ve said, “math.” Or not… Because even though math *was* my favorite subject, it was a terribly uncool subject. For a girl, don’tcha know. (I have no memory of what I *did* answer to that question, if I was ever asked, that is.)

I’m not here to write about that boring subject (being a teenager, not math) tonight. One subject that was definitely NOT my favorite was HISTORY!!! Somehow or other, I managed to slide through history classes with good grades and without once nodding off at my desk and crashing down onto the floor. I guess that last was ONLY because I was terrified of embarrassing myself in front of all the cute boys and kool kids et al. But history? Borrrrinnnng.

I know that I learned about the constitution and all that stuff and I distinctly remember the phrase “separation of church and state” but god knows, it’s all a big sloppy mish-mash down in the bowels of my brain. I have a pretty good data base in there but the input/output mechanisms vary according to the subject (and the time of day, number of distractions, amount of whine, etc., etc., ad nauseam).

Y’all maybe know more about history than I do. In fact, I *know* that some of you are history buffs. And that’s great. My point is that I think that there are probably a whole heckuva a lot of Americans like me, who have not visited the constitution in a pretty darn long time. Americans (like me) who are educated and well-read and have professional careers. Americans (like me) who are capable of a high level of critical thinking. Or would like to think they are.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That was Amendment I and I post it here without opinion. Because I am not knowledgeable enough to *have* an opinion. Except that I am going to start [re]-educating myself about all of this stuff. If you already know all this stuff like the back of your hand, I think that’s great! If not, here’s a good place to start. And there is a constitution app for the iPhone. Which is probably what I’ll use for my own remedial reading.


Happy Raccoon Day

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Not to keep going on this whole hair/clothing theme but I agree with agategal’s hairdresser that people identify with the hair color they had when they were children. I was a tow-head too and, like so many other tow-headed children, my hair darkened as I got older. But I still call myself a blonde. My children were also tow-heads and I used to get annoyed when people would ask me how they got their blonde hair. Uh, they got it from meeeeee!?! (And the GG, who also has light hair.) I would think, “My hair is still blonde. It’s just OLD blonde.” But people can be rude and some of them seem to have no boundaries about the questions they ask. I even remember once when some nincompoop thought I was Mouse’s grandmother. I did NOT look like a grandmother at 36 or whatever it was! I did not even have THAT much gray. And, I could’ve made an assumption based on HER appearance that she had had HER son [wonderful high school senior blah-de blah-de] when she was a teenager. But I didn’t. Or at least didn’t ask.

After the Sun-In experiment when I was 16, I never fussed around with hair-dye again. Well, except for that purple punk dye streak blotch a few years back. I’m not sure what I was thinking with that. It was okay for a non-profit theatre guild manager but it probably wouldn’t fly in the biz-caz world. I do manage to get away with a raggedy old pair of Chacos. Purple hair would probably be pushing it. [Note to self: you will need your black suede beaded flats this weekend. Don’t forget to get them out of that drawer in your cube.]

Anyway, I don’t have anything against hair dye. Once, when Monday Coffee was still downtown at Zola and there were more regulars than just MMCB and me, I kvetched about my hair and all of the gorgeous red-heads and brunettes at the table started absolutely cracking up, then ‘fessed up that they all dyed their hair regularly and that *their* hair probably had more gray than *mine* did. Flabbergasted? Yes! I had no idea! I’m [usually] a minimalist when it comes to fussing around with clothing and hair and makeup and stuff. Takes me about a minute to put on makeup (yes, I do wear it), drag a brush through my hair and stumble out the door! And so, I have made more or less made peace with my hair. And some of those beautiful friends of mine have since let their hair go gray too.

And about the clothes. No, I don’t have a special new outfit to wear to the wedding. It was not to be. I am taking a few different skirts and jackets and a bunch of scarves and some jewelry (good thing we’re not flying) and I will figger it out when I get there. But I did get this gorgeous biz-caz type outfit at Territory Ahead (Thank you for the link, Pooh)! This skirt and a black kind of cap-sleeved long knit vest. Which I wore today with a black silk/wool turtleneck sweater from Chico’s, a red & black silk scarf of Radical Betty’s, black tights, and my signature ratty old black Chacos. I am dying for a light-blue sweater dress from Territory Ahead but I would need to try that one on.

Okay, sorry, I promise I am not going to turn this into a fashion blahg. 🙂

Every day is a bad hair day

Monday, October 18th, 2010

It surprised me yesterday when Mouse was cutting my shaggy old head o’ hair and the GG actually made a mild protest. I mean, bottom line, I don’t let my husband tell me how long to wear my hair. Or some preacher claiming to channel Jesus Christ. Or anyone. The odd thing is that I spent my childhood wanting desperately to have beautiful long blonde hair. The Commander had a rather different idea. She regards short, pixie-type haircuts to be very elegant. And they are. On people who have personalities that fit that style. Me? Not so much. I was a pretty crazy mix of girly-girl and wild, athletic tomboy when I was a kid. I don’t actually think that combo is too bad for a girl but I’ve never actually thought about that before, so I’m not sure I can put it into words tonight and I guess it would be a whole ‘nother topic. Anyway, I have always felt somehow “larger” than close-cropped hair, if that makes any sense. And my hair is huge too! Wild and unruly, somehow worthy of something more than a pixie cut. Don’t take this to be some weird sort of diatribe against The Commander (who does read this blahg regularly). We all try to impose our own values upon our children, even those of us who think we don’t. And to be complete, there were things that were non-negotiable with my parents but hair was not one of them and The Comm held her breath and looked the other way when I grew my bushy unruly old dishwater blonde hair long and tried to lighten it with Sun-In. Anyone remember Sun-In? Trust me and don’t try it.

And so, I did frequently have long hair as a teenager and 20-something and on into my years as a young and then not-so-young mother. But then. I was wearing my too-long hair in a ponytail to keep it out of my way and that hairstyle had an annoying way of showing every single scrap of gray that I had. Which was quite a LOT. I tried to braid it. Yes, really. Nothing like trying to look like a 5-year-old when you are 50. It was not pretty. Finally one day, I had Mouse (who is a fantastic self-taught hair-cutter) cut it all off. It was pretty short when she was done but it was nowhere near pixie or that horrible helmet-like “bob” that so many women wear these days. What is up with that anyway? Those gals all look the same. My new, short(er) hair *bounced*. I loved how I looked (yes, younger). There was gray but a lot of blonde still showed. And I loved how it felt when I walked. Swinging around and bouncing up and down. I wash it every morning and let it dry as I take my walk. I feel beautiful and I am beautiful. But I am not any more beautiful than you. Or you or you or you.

Goodnight, sayonara, ciao bambino,
Kayak Woman

I want the pharaohs but there are only men.

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

It was a tinkety tinkety kind of Sunday. No major prodjects (intentionally misspelled) were accomplished. At least not by me. The GG may feel differently. We are in pre-faaaaardrill mode here. I dragged the GG out for a walk down by the Urine Huron River this morning. That was after my own neighborhood prowl, so I had about 6.5 miles by the end of that, which was cool. The GG took a long winter’s nap after that, late morning until mid-afternoon. He prob’ly feels guilty about that but it was okay with me and I understood. It allowed me to be a bit slodgy today too, although I didn’t take a nap, but the only time I ever take naps is when I’m sick, which is almost never. So.

I tinked today. Five loads of laundry! I am not one o’ them thar folks that doesn’t keep up with laundry. No Mount Washmore in my house. And I don’t wash one item at a time either. But I was sorting today. Winter clothes. Wedding clothes. My clothing stash in the Blue and Only Bathroom, where I get dressed every morning. Some stuff could just get thrown in, other stuff had to go through the handwash cycle. Yada yada. I walked to the Plum Market. I did some secret stuff. Mouse chopped off a couple inches of my huge hair. I can still put it in a little bitty ponytail when I cook. I love my bouncy new hair. The GG seems to want me to grow it out and look like some scraggly old hippie. No. Sorry. Love you anyway. Er, don’t grow yours out either, old pharaoh.

This afternoon, I was thinking about how nice it would be to have a faaarrrr in the backyard tonight. I didn’t say anything. The GG was taaarrrred today and we have a rather epic week ahead of us. Lo and behold, in the late afternoon, I smelled some smoke somewhere. I looked out in the backyard and, lo and behold, there was the GG, stoking a little faaarrr in our loverly little urban faaaarrrr burner. He was a pharaoh today.

Happy Indian Summer,
Kayak Woman

P. S. I think I am wearing one of Grandroobly’s old weathers sweaters (“weathers”? what the HECK did I write? -LOL) tonight. It’s from LL Bean and “Finlayson” is taped into the neck…

Blue Alert

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Every morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is reach for my iPhone and check the weather so I know how many layers to wear and whether I’ll need an umbrella and/or my snow boots or whatever. If there is something really awful going on out there, sometimes I will actually skip my walk but there are only a few weather conditions that are severe enough to make me do that. Extreme cold (under about 10 below zero Fahrenheit), lightning, and ice storms of the sort where every outdoor surface is covered by a quarter inch of ice (or more) and tree branches and power lines are falling down left and right. Every other kind of weather, I walk. Yeah, I am one of those fanatics. I get energized by exercise in the great outdoors and that is all.

*This* morning, the little red severe weather alert symbol was lit up on my phone’s weather app. How now? The temperatures were in the upper 30s, the skies were clear. What was up? Tornado? Blizzard? Hurricane? I didn’t think so. Turned out it was a FROST alert! Oh, come on. I am sorry but I can’t figure out why frost on the 16th of October here in the Great Lake State rates a red alert! I do not know much about farming but I would think that anyone who is seriously growing crops around here has pretty much harvested them for the season. This is LATE for the first frost. It is TYPICAL for the first frost to occur in September or even occasionally in late August. October 16th? Folks, we have had an unseasonably warm fall so far.

I got to thinking about alerts in general. I think that weather alerts are often overkill. We are always being threatened with huge blizzards in the winter. Probably about 5% of those we actually get significant snow. I don’t see how frost can ever be much of a threat to the average black-thumbed suburbanite (like meeeee). Unless maybe I walked outside barefoot and froze my feet. But I can SEE outside and know better (usually) than to do that kind of thing. I checked the homeland security site to refresh my memory on how those particular alerts work. I was surprised to see that we are actually at yellow right now because every time I’ve driven into Daytwa Metro for *years* now, it’s been orange. Oh, but that’s only for air travel. Okay. I think that our little frost alert today should have been coded at about blue. That would be adequate to warn people not to walk outside in their bare feet.

Anyway, it turned out to be a blue day. As you can see. Mouse and I drove over to Haberman’s today. Haberman’s has EVERYTHING but I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, probably because I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for. But look what I *did* find! I bought enough of that gorgeous blue wool to make a short jacket or maybe a long sweater-type vest (it’s a little stretchy) and after I had that fabric cut, I found the sheer silver-streaked blue silk shown on top of it. Mouse got some black camel hair for a winter coat and some lace that she’s been eye-balling for a long time. And then. The mail came aaaaannnnnnd…. There was a package. For meeeeee! It contained the beautiful blue candelholder shown in the photoooo! I ordered it from Kingfisher Glass, which is my internet buddy agategal’s new Artfire shop. Very quick shipping and superb packing job. Agategal is better with bubble wrap than I am and I have sent a lot of fragile stuff to Cali in my time, so I am pretty good.

Wedding attire? Well, I have gone in several directions and talked myself down off of a couple of rather ambitious sew-it-myself ledges and I think I have come up with some ideas from my very own closet. Anyway, I am not the bride or even TMOTB/CMOH and, as the Beautiful Becky said, we’ll all look good after a bit o’ whine. And SHE is wearing, uh, beige, and she will look beautiful and there’s a baggy old kayak woman somewhere on the Planet Ann Arbor who has been trying for two days to pull her foot out of her mouth.

And the skies were not cloudy all day.

In which we use KW’s brain ’cause it’s more efficient

Friday, October 15th, 2010

We were hemming and hawing about whether or not to take a rocket trip to Houghton Lake this weekend. Drive up at 0-skunk-30 tomorrow morning and come home on Sunday. I want to go up there so badly I can almost taste it but, in the end, I decided I just couldn’t. We have a complicated couple of weeks coming up and I have a lot to get done in the next few days and, as much as I’d love to be rattling around “up north”, I need to take advantage of some of the stores and things that Megalopolis has to offer. And I need to do that on a weekend, when I don’t work. Because, as much as I love my career, I don’t get much done after my work day. I can be on the freeway heading home thinking I’m gonna do this and that productive-type-thing when I get home and then, as soon as I GET home, I think, “Bag it!” (I do manage to write my blahg and that is why it is so often such a big jumbled up higgledy-piggledy mess.)

Anyway, we were in town tonight and we walked down to the Old Town Barrrrooooom and I said to the GG, “Maybe it would be good if we checked out our route to Asheville on the iPad.” We have an upcoming road trip to Asheville, North Carolina and it’s been a long time since I’ve been “down south” but I know that the general route is to take the I75 SUV Speedway down to Knoxville or somewhere thereabouts and hang a left. I couldn’t remember the specifics. Somehow the GG’s route didn’t look right to me. Why are we turning east at Toledo and heading down through Pennsylvania? And all the way to the Atlantic coast. Hmmmm. Because he was apparently planning to go to Asheville, VIRGINIA! Roight. I can just picture us in the car at 0-skunk-30 screaming at each other because whoever was driving was making (or not making) a [wrong] turn at Toledo. And Mouse screaming at us for screaming at each other. Fun times. Um, where are we going again?

And then there was this whole bunch of confusion when we were getting ready to leave and a group of party guyz who were in town for the UM homecoming wanted our table. I was talking to one of the party guyz while the GG made a pit stop and when the GG came back, he thought that the party guy was this project manager from my work who had also happened to be in the barrrooom earlier and stopped by to say hello. It was loud in there and I couldn’t get the GG to understand that the party guy wasn’t the project manager and that, in fact, I didn’t know the party guy from Adam. So the GG kept talking to the party guy and calling him by the project manager’s name and the party guy and his buddies started playing along and, by the time we walked out, I was laughing so hard I almost literally couldn’t walk and I had to FORCE myself to regain some semblance of composure before we got to Mouse’s work so she wouldn’t think I was drunk or something and kick me out. And YES, I KNOW this isn’t funny to any of you. Really, you had to be there! And I was and I’m writing about it so I won’t forget it. Because, omigosh, I am laughing all over again and I am outta words and y’all think I am nuts!

And now it’s 10 PM and I better get to bed because I may not be driving to HL at 0-skunk-30 tomorrow but I will be up at 0-skunk-30 walking, going to the grokkery store, doing laundry, and driving to Haberman’s Fabrics over in Royal Joke (yay) with Mouse. And a bunch of other things, some of them a little secret.


P.S. I am elated that I can now successfully exchange text messages with The Commander and that she seems to see the utility of that method of communication in some circumstances. If you are my age or thereabouts and have not yet mastered text messaging on your cell phone, take a note!

Tetrachromatic Cougar

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Dear Chicos,

Yaknow… I started buying clothes from you because you had clothing that was comfortable and it was in COLOR!!! What is up with all of the beige this fall? Beige is NOT a color! Did you not get the memo? Yes, you do have a lot of black. That’s okay. The problem is that I HAVE a lot of black already. I am looking for some accent pieces. White, beige, and denim will not do. I gave up jeans way back in the dark ages when Calvin Klein changed the cut of their signature jeans. And what the HECK is with all the aminal prints? Whaddya think, I am some kind of cougar or something? I assure you, I am not a blasted cougar.

Tetrachromatically yours,
Kayak Woman

So, I need clothes for work and I also have a wedding to attend next weekend. I can disguise the fact that I basically wear about three outfits to work by mix and match and accessories. Scarves are my friends. Weddings and things? Hmmmm. I knew I had to drag my sorry carcass over to the mall at some point and I was dreading it. I hate shopping for clothes and I hate trying them on and I hate pushy saleswomen that try to point me to colors I don’t like. Like beige. Or salmon pink. Beige doesn’t look good on me, not to mention that it is not a color. We won’t even talk about salmon pink. I am a black with jewel tones person. Take a note Chico’s.

Today, I steeled myself for my more or less biannual clothes shopping trip (or is it semiannual, the Internet seems to provide conflicting answers to “twice a year”). I do buy things that I KNOW will fit/work via the internet but I was thinking I might actually have to try some things on today. Sigh. Chicos had just about what I described above. I also gave Macy’s a chance, since I parked over on that side. I had some success there with some long, tiered skirts a couple summers ago during their “Summer of Love” promotion or whatever. Today? O.M.G. I could not figure out which department was which and there were clearance racks from SUMMER stuck in the middle of everything and and and and… It was all I could do to keep from running outta there screaming!

By that time, I had actually come up with an idea. Hope you were sitting down for that! I figure that I can get away with wearing some of my nice comfy black wardrobe — long skirt and tank top — with a luxurious shawl of some sort. Preferably something a little sparkly. Silk or velvet with a fringe and/or a sprinkling of beads and/or sequins about the edges. I’m thinking my fave turquoise. Or lapis lazuli. Or gold. Or even silver. Alas. I could find nada at the mall. But. I could SEW something. I do own a sewing machine and I know how to use it. A shawl is basically a triangle, so it would be quick. Or I could pay Mouse to sew it for me. (Of course, I’m also gonna ask Mouse to chop off some of my raggedy old mop…) It’s probably too late to mount an expotition to Haberman’s in Royal Joke or Fabric Gallery in Williamston to get some FINE fabric. Like I want. But maybe I can get by with something from Joann’s. Hmmm. And jewelry. I do own some decent costume jewelry…

Stay tuned. Or not 😉

P.S. I’m not sure if the bride is a regular reader but if she does happen to read this, she should NOT be stressed out about my stupid little KW-type clothing problems!!!!!! It is the BRIDE and GROOM’S day. Not mine. I am very happy for my niece and new nephew and I will have fun at their wedding whatever I end up wearing! Hopefully not a lampshade butchya never know. Love.

Please don’t use Internet Explorer. Use Faaarrrrfox or Safari or Chrome or whatever.

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

I could rant about the couple hours I spent in Internet Explore Explorer* CSS hell today but I won’t. I climbed outta that pit. I didn’t manage it as elegantly as those Chilean miners are doing but I did it. (Is anyone else wondering where the heck those guys went to the bathroom down there?)

Chloe Belle has ordered me to go on a little photooo dredging expotition from the deep, dark reaches of the Jurassic Age. (By the way, Chloe Belle, where the heck are you?) And look what I found along the way. It is an uuuuuugly of yer favo-rite blahgger, that would be meeeeeee. With my mouth open, apparently talking someone’s ear off. As usual. I am in the cafeteria of the old airplane museum at Wright Patterson AFB because, don’tcha know, if y’all are in the vicinity of Wright-Patt, you have to go look at all the old airplanes and things (ho-hum). And we were *in* the vicinity of Wright-Patt because we were on our way home from the beeyootyful state of Floriduh. “We” being meeeee, the GG, the toddler Elizardbreath, and the Beautiful Aunt Suzie.

We had followed the grandparents (Gumper and The Beautiful Sally) down there after they sold their house in Royal Joke and moved permanently to their Florida condo. We stayed in a motel the first night of the trip and, in the morning, when we were packing our Jetta, the toddler Elizardbreath made absolutely certain that she was outside the motel room right next to the car so that she would not be forgotten and left behind in the motel room. My heart goes into my throat even now, thinking about what thoughts and fears must have been in her little head.

The toddler Elizardbreath had a wonderful time on that trip. She watched seagulls and ducks and the tame great blue heron that lived by the Gumper’s pool. She collected shells on the beach, picking out only those that were perfect. Some doting older women encountered her on the beach one day and said, “You are just like a doll and you deserve a shell,” and gave her one. She (with a little help from the GG) went to KMart and bought a rubber ducky for the Gumper’s pool. She learned to say “erderator” (alligator) with a little help from The Beautiful Aunt Suzie and we saw erderators at Myakka State Park and the Sarasota Jungle Gardens and probably a few other places.

Our morning routine for much of that trip was notable because of Halley’s Comet. The GG would get up every morning at something like 4:00 AM and drive way out into the middle of nowhere to set up his telescope and look at the comet. I wasn’t *quite* as early a riser then as I am now but, when he returned at around six or so, we would take our baby and go out to breakfast somewhere before we began our day.

I have put a photoset of rather crappy scans out on Flickr. Click here.

* Roight. Explore the Internet with Internet Explore. Duh.

I hated middle school junior high too

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

This’ll probably end up being a bunch of unintelligible gobblety-gook because I have spent the last two days untangling a whole bunch of old spaghetti-like javascript. Now, don’t get me wrong. This kind of prodject (intentionally misspelled) is right up my alley. I was chompin’ at the bit when the long-suffering cat-herding person pointed in my direction. Gimme, gimme! I love to write code. I love to debug code. Any kind of code. This is web-based client-side code. So… Faaaar up the Faaaarfox error console, add a bunch of alert boxes or other output devices, comment code out and get one little bitsy bit of code working before stepping on to the next. Y’all wouldn’t think somebody as impatient as me would be suited for this kind of meticulous work but I am. In fact, I can get lost in it and forget what time it is. As fun as it is, my brain is fried after a day of doing that. I left work at a perfectly sweet breaking point today though! No leftover problems to give me processing dreams tonight. I don’t think…

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe I ended up working in the IT industry. Talk about coming in through the back door. I was a blasted music major! When I first arrived at college, my roommate was interested in being an accounting major. Much more practical than music, don’tcha think? This was the early 1970s and she had to take a Fortran class. And *some* of y’all might know what that meant, right? First, you had to go to some kind of computer lab to type your program onto some keypunch cards. Then, you had to take those cards to [probably] some extremely nerdy boy at a window. And thennnnnn, some time later — sometimes muuuuuch later, if the “system” had gone down or whatever — you — dun dun dun — went back to that window and picked up your program’s output on 11×14 inch fanfold computer paper. The first time my roommate went through this agonizing process, she was presented with stack of paper a couple feet high, with like one or two characters or words or whatever per page. Yiiiy!! I was glad I was a music major. I didn’t have to deal with the computer lab or any nerdy guys or anything. Well, I did have to deal with nerdy guys but they were mostly afraid of me so that wasn’t much of a problem.

I never did end up working in the music world but that would be a whole ‘nother entry. Thanks to my cousin Pooh (thanks Pooh, really), I did manage to land a very lowly job at a computer operations shop for a government contractor over at the EPA. (That’s not exactly where I met the GG — actually I met him through Pooh too — but he subsequently began working for the EPA as a computer scientist and has had a long, good career there. Just had to make clear that we are still involved with the EPA even though I haven’t worked over there for years.)

After a rather clumsy, inauspicious start, I took to the computer world like a duck in water and I carved out a pretty darn good niche for myself there. A niche that eventually allowed me to work part time for *years* while I was raising young children. And I taught myself how to program Fortran, which *eventually* earned me some respect from the “boys’ club” there. Don’t get me wrong. There were female programmers then, there have been since the beginning, and there are now. I’m just saying that I didn’t really regard myself as a likely candidate for an information technology career and there were some hurdles to overcome because I was female (and didn’t have any experience back in the dark ages of the late 1970s). I did it anyway, having children along the way and taking time off to raise them. And no, I am not a CEO of anything. I would *hate* that!

Okay, where was I? I really did hate junior high. I wasn’t teased. I don’t even think people didn’t like me. I just couldn’t figure out how to be as happy as I was when I was a wild grade school kiddo running and jumping and riding my bike and just generally being wild and having fun. I didn’t know to make the kind of small talk with other people that smooths the world over and makes friends.

I am still awkward with small talk and don’t even talk to me about parties. But life is pretty damn good now. And I think I am done blathering for the night.

Love y’all