Archive for July, 2011

phwhooooph

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

This morning, I woke up to the sight of tall red pines outside my window. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I woke up at the loverly hour of four AM. UKW had a six AM flight out of Chippewa County International Airport. Although the Mogog drove her over there, I could not let her leave without one last goodbye. She was making coffee when I got downstairs and we both had a bit of a start (and then a giggle) when we looked out the front door to see the Mogog standing next to the Frog Hopper in his standard white drywall dust covered overalls. Too big (and too white) to be a skunk. I lingered a bit over my coffee (and facebook, et al) after all the goodbyes were said, then I clumped back up the ladder to read (on my phone) until the tall red pines became visible with the daylight in the swamp.

It was a wonderful faaarrrdrill of a week up there at the Moomincabin. UKW, the GG & I held down the fort. The Mogog, The Commander, all four of the beach urchins (daughters and nieces) were in and out. And a supporting cast of thousands… That is, many friends and relatives who made minor appearances on our particular stage. You betcha they are not minor players in our hearts and they are not minor players at their own cabins with their own families.

If I had to pick a favorite day, it would be a tossup between the serendipity of our first Saturday, when we got up early and embarked on an impromptu blueberry picking trip and the Tuesday we made the sojourn to Canada to meet up with Radical Betty’s buddies and hike to Betty’s Cove. But there were many, many, many other good times.

Today? O. M. G. We have been spoiled all these years being able to leave the Moomincabin and not worry too much about closing it up at all. Not so much today. The garbage? The garbage alone for the last week filled two cans. I deliberately did not pay Waste Management to pick up our cabin trash this summer, not because we can’t afford it but because I knew that there would be only one week or so when we wouldn’t be able to either put it out at the Squatter’s Paradise or schlep it back to our handy-dandy A2 Garbage Cart. I thought I would figure it out when I had to. And I did, but not without a little help from my friends cuzzint. So, even though we had two vee-hickles up there, we had nowhere near enough room for two big cans of garbage. The Mogog came to the rescue. “Oh, that’s just a vanful. I’ll take it,” he said in that soft gravelly voice that shows his gentlest side. (Love you cuzzint!) I left the recycling and a bunch of beer-snob [I say that with love] bottles that Glens doesn’t accept. When I next travel north, I’ll be traveling light enough that all of that stuff’ll just rattle around in the back of the Frog Hopper.

Food? Can you say “leftovers”? I am not complaining. It is always like this when you have an ever fluctuating number of people around for a week or thereabouts. We were lucky enough to have UKW and her super kitchen organizing skills on hand for the duration. I’m sure that otherwise, we’d’ve had much, much more leftover food to schlep. Even so, I left some stuff. Condiments. Orange juice that doesn’t expire until September 14th (hmmm, wonder what’s in that…). With luck, my MacMullan cuzzint Teri and crew will visit soon and they are welcome to stay at the Moomincabin if they want.

Today? We got a later start than we may have another year. We cannot just schlep down Piche Road to the I75 SUV Speedway when we’re ready to leave the Moomincabin any more. We headed in to FV to touch base with The Commander and give her a chance to say goodbye to the Callyforny granddaughter that she won’t see again for a while. And then. Clyde’s at St. Ignace. Slow but friendly service and good [greasy] food as always but perhaps a bit heavy for the kind of heat we had all day. BIG-TIME backup at the Big Mac. Alas, no commuter lanes were open, not that I could’ve navigated to one with all that traffic. The rest of the trip was pretty okay. A few slow-downs here and there but no dead stops of the sort that allow a modern kayak woman to check her email on her phone. I had to keep shifting up and down and inching along.

We are here on The Planet. Elizilla split off in the Ninja at Flint to visit friends in the Dee-troit area. Mouse took one of the Comm’s looms (with permission) to her apartment. UKW is probably hanging out with her friend Forward [I think/hope that’s his name!] out in the PacNW by now. And so we have scattered, or at least we have begun to scatter.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone who has helped my little branch of the Fin fam over the last few months. For those (mainly The Beautiful Jan but others have offered) who have been driving The Commander to social events. To UKW and the GG my husband and The Comm’s grandchildren who have helped drive her back and forth to the Moomincabin for our beautiful little summer sojourn.

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up to the sight of drywall and cheap furniture covered with shambling mounds.

Love you all so much. –KW

Chili Quails

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

It is the last night here. Tomorrow night Uber Kayak Woman will be back in the PacNW and we will be sweltering on the Planet Ann Arbor. Today? We took our more or less annual expotition to the Iroquois Point lighthouse and here are Elizilla and Uber Kayak Woman rock-hounding on the beach at Point Iroquois.

Mouse and Elizilla rock-hounding.

I dunno. This is probably the remains of something that was built back in the 1800s or thereabouts.

The lighthouse tower is closed for the year for renovation and refurbishment. No Lighthouse Legs this summer.

Boardwalk down to the lighthouse beach.

Fresnel lens in the museum. When I was a kid, there was still an actual light in the tower.

And then it turned into a gorgeous (but HOT!) beach day.

Clouds rolled through after dinner and we didn’t think there would be a visible sunset tonight.

We were wrong.

Good night.

“It was hot and sticky and I was feelin’ kinda crunchy”

Friday, July 29th, 2011

We are having one of those days around here. The kind where things don’t exactly work out perfectly. Like when I tried to burn Mouse’s bread (and the cabin) down. Nothing like putting a pot of spaghetti sauce on the back burner and turning on the front burner. The one that Mouse’s bread dough is rising on top of. With one of my fav-o-rite dish towels draped over it.

I was happily ensconced over on the couch when Mouse came in to check on her bread and noticed FLAMES on top of the stove. Sorry, I don’t have a photooo of that. I was kind of standing there with my mouth open trying to decide whether or not to scream and who to scream for. Mouse was better prepared. She grabbed the baking soda and put out the faaaarrrr. It bears mentioning that earlier in the week, we did not HAVE baking soda out here and had to snag some from the Squatter’s Paradise.

After all that, the Mogog came over to cadge a G&T and dinner (and he has a standing invitation by the way). He was greatly entertained by the GG’s continuing adventures with wifi and webcams in the Great White North.

The sun was over the yardarm by then.

I don’t have any words for this one.

Goooood night. –KW

Non-Thanksgiving Day

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Non-Thanksgiving Day morning.

The old lighthouse-keepers house is not really haunted (I don’t think) but we used to pretend it was so we could scare the bejabbers out of ourselves. Well, I was always scared. Not sure about everybody else.

Nowadays, it is scary enough just kayaking around the bay sometimes. Even when I don’t run into The Cylinder. Because sometimes stuff like this happens…

And this…

And then there’s this old dock from back in the 1800s when they were hauling logs out of the bay. I think. If this thing isn’t haunted, I don’t know what is.

But enough of the day-dreaming. It was non-Thanksgiving Day and there was grokkery shopping and food preparation and table hauling and a sneak trip down to Rudyard for Besteman’s maple syrup. Anyway, onion goggles anyone?

Smokin’ out the moe-skee-toes with a bunch of stuff hanging on the clothesline in the background.

Non-Thanksgiving! Our original vision was to actually cook Thanksgiving-like food for non-Thanksgiving. There was even talk of a deep-fried turkey, which I have never experienced. As the date approached we bagged all of that in favor of hanger-burgers and hotdogs and typical summer fare. It’s all good. We had representatives from all four branches of the Fin Fam and the only person who didn’t make it was the Mogog. I mean person in the area, that is. The Fin Fam is scattered all over our beauteous country and if every single member of it had been in attendance, I think our deck would’ve collapsed. As it was, we had 24 people or thereabouts.

Remember a while back when I predicted there would be moments of angst and disagreement during my summer vacation busman’s holiday at the Moominbeach? Well, those happened today. I am just now considering letting the GG out of the doghouse. Despite that, we have a lot to be thankful for. Not to get all maudlin but I guess the main thing I am thankful for at the moment is that my grandaddy and his buddies made various expotitions out here (on foot or by rowboat or even train) back in the early part of the 20th century and managed to scrabble enough money together to buy a piece of lumbered-over land with a beach in front of it.

Good night, –Kayak Woman.

Yeah, I could use Grizbob but I really need an app app

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Oh, where in the heck am I? The mean old, grunchie old Grinchie is here kinda holding court in a way that only the Mogog can do. He is in fine form and that is making me have a hard time concentrating. Anyway… The seagulls are getting ready to leave for the winter. They leave on August 13th. Here it seems like each seagull has its own rock.

I was shamed for not kayaking this morning but the truth was that I was sorta settling in to the moomincabin chitchen, washing dishes and cleaning dead flies off the counters, etc. I was pretty dern happy doing that. Even though (as I’ve said before) by about the time we get settled in to this place, it’ll be time to leave.

Here’s a gratuitous photooo of the moomincabin living room. I did a simple 180 from taking the chitchen photooo to get this one. That’s how small this place is.

It really wasn’t a beach day today but it was pretty warm down there at the end of the day. UKW and the Beach Urchins and I dragged ourselves into Gitchee Gumee, which is actually pretty warm this summer but felt chilly today until we got all the way under… Here I *think* Liz is checking out the aftermath of one of the triplets tipping a kayak. [he was fine!]

We have a totem pole going here…

And I have a dinner helper from Callyforny…

And a ceegar smoker outside the chitchen window.

G’night.

Betty’s Cove

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

We spent the day in Cananananada today. We hiked with a bunch of absolutely wonderful Canadian folks. They are involved with the Sault Naturalists and the Voyageur Trail and I fergit what else. Above all they were friends of my aunt Radical Betty and today’s hike to Betty’s Cove was made in honour of her. I have heard of Betty’s Cove before and I somehow thought that it was named after my aunt posthumously. Not. It was named that in the 1980s or thereabouts. She was an exhuberant participant in those organizations then and led the pack on many outings.

This is a secret cove. Getting to it involves a “short scramble” down and up. I won’t say any more about that except that there are about a billion ways to get there and I’m not sure the Soo Nats take the same route twice. So. It is still secret. I am pretty sure I would not be able to find it again. Good people, those Canadians, and, although our traverse across a friendly border and back was smooth in the grand scheme of things, I have some recommendations for the so-called “budget cutters” in our loverly national government. We’ll talk about that some other day.

Here’s Uber Kayak Woman (aka Radical Betty’s daughter (and my cuzzint)) upon our arrival at Betty’s Cove.

Getting to Betty’s Cove involved parking near one or two or 189 of these things. They supply a lot of the lucky-shucky to Soo, Ontario and we can see them from our beach, not to mention M28.

I felt honoured to be included on a hike with Radical Betty’s Canadian buddies. We took the “short scramble” to get down to Betty’s Cove. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the “short scramble” was. More like “long steep bushwack down the escarpment through woods and/or various old log slides”. And back up. Fun hike? Yes. Short scramble? Not.

UKW found a soccer ball for Carl. He’s married to our cuzzint Jay, who has been suffering with a horrible cold virus and could not accompany us today. We missed her. She’s also Radical Betty’s niece.

The GG looks out to “sea”.

Sparkling whine in honor of Radical Betty.

Toast!!!

Lunch on the rocks by Betty’s Cove. Actually, the GG and I sabotaged our lunches. “I thought you were packing the sandwiches.” “I thought *you* were packing the sandwiches.” Good thing we were talking about bagels with smoked fish (yes, don’t ask) and cheese, not a baby or something. Actually, I think I will make it a practice to forget my lunch on these trips because with all the handouts we got I had more to eat than if I’d managed to remember my own lunch.

Lotsa folks were unnecessarily worried about my footwear.

Betty’s Cove is a cobblestone beach. I think that’s the right term!. These rocks are around the size of my foot or thereabouts.

The cove from our lunch rock.

Good good good people, these folks from Cananananada. Love.

Take the money and run

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Morning on the shores of Gitchee Gumee.

Grokkeries, laundry, FV, Squatter’s Paradise, recycle, Kenny’s Pitchen for lunch and then finally…

Are the clouds starting to gather over there in the west?

Our fav-o-rite geologist visiting the Canadian border one more time before moving to a Mexican border town.

This storm was a plassover but another one hit us a little later. We needed the rain. Actually we could’ve used more than we got.

I am done for tonight. Dun dun dun. Flight tracker says Elizilla’s plane lands at Metro in 1 minute. Tomorrow oughtta be a more exciting day. Hopefully not too much more exciting.

Searching for boiled iggles

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

We’re going on an eagle hunt. We’re looking for an eagle’s nest. It’s somewhere between here and Cedar Point. And here we are at the “pond”. The one at the Doelle end of the beach.

Now we’re rock walking.

I call this “Round Island Point” but some people disagree with me. By the way, this is near where the eagle’s nest is. The eagle’s nest is huge. There were two baby eagles hanging out on the adjacent tree branches. We think they’ve fledged but we don’t know. The iPhone has a wonderful camera but it isn’t really made for wildlife photography. So I do not have a photooo of the eagle’s nest.

Later on, I did a wee bit of kayaking.

This is my fave spot to sit on the beach.

I like to look up into the trees.

Another kayaker drifts by.

Last and definitely least, Friday was my eighth blahgiversary. Yes, I forgot. Eight years. I never had any aspirations for being a big-time blahgger like Dooce or the Pioneer Woman or whoever. Actually, I didn’t even know who Dooce was when I started blathering away on the internet. I am still a small-time blahgger and I am happy about that. I don’t check my statistics. Actually, I don’t even currently have a way to check my statistics. I guess I will continue to be a small-time blahgger until somebody finally gets fed up and glues my fingers together. When will I run out of boring, incoherent things to say?

blue genes

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

As I have blahgged about before, I do not seem to have inherited any berry-picking DNA from either side of my famblies. But we were all up early today (the GG, UKW and me) and drinking some coffee down on the beach and, when someone mentioned an impromptu trip out to the Raco area to pick blueberries, I was totally into it. I love to hang out on the old forest roads in the eastern yooperland and also, what the heck, have iPhone [camera], will travel.

And so, those two people in the photooo who are butts up are not related to each other in any way that I know of but clearly they have both inherited the butts-up gene from somewhere or other. In fact, UKW aka mini-Duke aka mini-Grandberry was practically opening the car door while it was still moving to get at the berries at the side of the road. You know who was taking the picture, roight?

After we “surveyed” and picked out on the old rifle range (above), we headed off to Arbutus Lake. After taking a few beauteous iPhone-type photooos, yer fav-o-rite blahgger decided she better earn her keep and picked probably about an eighth of the total volume that were picked today.

After Arbutus Lake, we stopped along the road in a very moe-skee-toe-ey spot with not a whole lot of berries. And I do not know what is with the ghost frog hopper in the next photooo.

By this time, we had enough blueberries for two pies, pancakes and I dunno what else, so we headed back up toward the Big Lake They Call Gitchee Gumee. We took a “short-cut” along Tower Road to our fave Dancing Crane Coffeehouse and of course we had to stop at the dump Spectacle Lake Overlook. And I dunno how the photooo below happened either. It kinda reminds me of the stuff I see in my shoreline dreams.

The Dancing Crane Coffeehouse is building a geodesic dome! The GG (aka Mr. Engineer) is wondering where to get those joints… Hmmm…

Back at the moominbeach, we had a gorgeously warm and windy afternoon and various people braved the waves to kayak with spray skirts. The Uncly Uncle and The Beautiful Gay and Chloe Belle arrived and here are Twinz of Terror in and on the Purple Kayak.

Now? UKW has engineered pies, enchiladas, and salad for dinner and the boyz (and TBG?) have just returned from an expotition over to the eagles’ nest. Seeya tomorrow.

P.S. Reading this in the clear, cold light of the morning, I sure did use the word “after” a lotta times!

Green sky at night…

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Dinner for eleven tonight and a birthday party for Uber Kayak Woman. Lasagne, salad, garlic bread, and angel food cake with chocolate and raspberries. Beer and whine.

Other than that? Typical summer day at the beach in the new reality. Grokkery runs to town, FV, lunch at Karl’s, and then an hour or so hanging out on the beach in the late afternoon sun. A swim and then time to mobilize for the party. The birthday girl herself did a fair amount of the cooking. We are all adjusting to the new reality and making mis-steps as we continue to learn the ropes.

Watching boats come down out of the sunset after a walk to Doelle’s and another swim.

That is all. At least that’s all I can think of.

Exhausted. And a wee bit sunburned. Didn’t think I was out there long enough…

Good night,
–KW

 

Dry-wallers [but not midgets] come up with the best lines

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

At least my fav-o-rite drywaller does. Alas, I cannot remember any of them at this time. Not after all the experimentation we did with my new whine vinturi tonight. I’ll let you google that. All I know is that it makes the best noise ever. And it smooths out our cheep whine too. Back in the old days, Critical Flow Venturi calibrations were either filed under prodject 1010 or 1012. Prodject 1011 was TGI and *that* is forever associated in my brain with Professor W and that is all I have to say about that.

I am largely a basket case tonight. It was 81 degrees (F) when I got up this morning at the Group Home at Houghton Lake. Walking was tolerable only because there was a nice strong breeze off the lake. I tore myself away from Houghton Lake. And The Beautiful Gay because a part of me wanted to hang around with her for a few days…

But we eventually got on the road and headed on north to the yooperland. We got gas at Kinross and, instead of finishing the trip on the freeway, we veered off onto some back roads, which, in a couple cases tested the Mean Green Frog Hoppin’ Musheen’s all-wheel drive. Somehow that was a perfect ending to our trip. Hot here, like everywhere else in the Great Lake State but a nice stiff breeze coming in off the lake has made the moominbeach and cabin very tolerable and I even put on a polartech jacket to go outside tonight.

So I reluctantly left a strong, beloved female relative/friend at Houghton Lake, my s-i-l TBG. I welcomed a strong, beloved female relative/friend here in Siberia. A traveler from the PacNW. One who I spent summers with here on the moominbeach when we were beach urchins. My uber-cuzzint Uber Kayak Woman. I had a hard time switching gears (I always do) but it’s all okay. I can manage to get together with TBG pretty frequently because we at least live in the same state, have identical twin husbands, and share a cabin. UKW? Not as easy…

We had a cocktail and then we swaaammmm. OMG! The water was soooo gorgeously warm!!! I have not been swimming yet this summer. I don’t exactly have a good excuse. When I was telecommuting from here earlier in the summer, it was COLD! I was wearing leggings and polartech socks and sandals and even a polartech jacket most days. Aaaaannnd, I was in a holding pattern… The Commander was living in an interim situation that she wasn’t happy with and I could not change it without moving a mountain. Not to mention that I was working my regular full-time job. I didn’t swim or kayak or do much of anything except walk. This afternoon, we walked into the lake and there was NEVER that one moment where you are in up to your waist and have to brace yourself for getting completely wet. It was so warm, we just walked out until we were up to our necks. That was all.

Late dinner with the Grinch. Jeep and Pan came to cheer us on and plans are in the making for tomorrow and beyond. More cuzzints are arriving tomorrow and next week and the beach urchins are arriving on Tuesday. Along with a growing list o’ “very important” stuff that the GG fergot.

It is mid-late July and I am still seeing sunset at 10:37 PM.

Goodnight,
KW

Shower frogs and vole placentas

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Oh yeah, I do have one o’ them thar blahgs, don’tcha know. The ones where baggy old kayak women rant and rave and kvetch about their so-called lives.

I yam at the Group Home at Houghton Lake tonight. You would not believe how much time and how many photooos I took of that weather vane and tree until I got just the right one. Well, actually it wasn’t exactly the right one but it’ll do, I guess.

I was using the iPhone Hipstamatic app. I am trying to decide what little creative type activity I will do with my vacation busman’s holiday this summer. (When I am not doing actual work for the LSCHP, that is. I promised a few hours for something that cropped up at the last moment.) Last year it was cheesy little videos that I posted to facebook from the Green Guy Cafe. This year I am toying with the idea of getting to know what the Hipstamatic app will do. I have more photo apps on my iPhone than I can count. Maybe I will concentrate on *this* one for a week or so. This photooo was taken with [randomly] the John S lens, Big Up film, and no flash. I’m not sure I’m crazy about the pink frame. It gives our northern lake a bit of a Floridian tinge. But what the heck, it feels like Florida here. If you are a regular reader, be prepared for a lot of bizarre photooos for the next week or so…

The Beautiful Gay and Chloe Belle (dog, not hospital CFO) are here. TBG is knitting! I wonder who she is knitting for… 😉 It is HOT here. So HOT that we have the a/c on. Yes, there is central air here. We’ve come a long way, babaaayyy, from the days when we shared a shower with frogs and voles gave birth to their litters in the pocketses of the jackets hung up in the moldy old closet under the stairs.

Best Choice and then Moominbeach in the morning.

Love y’all and good night,
Kayak Woman

Working from home until the bank opens, then coming in (EOM)

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I have been at the darn bank a lot lately. The last few years, I have avoided the bank like poison. If I need cash, I get it at the grokkery store and there’s only one bill I pay by check and that’s the property tax bill and that’s only because I don’t like that particular on-line payment system. Don’t ask. (Kalamazoo College also did not take plastic. I had to send checks to a lock box. Wonder if that’s changed yet…)

This morning’s bank errand? Totally bizarre. Someone around here has been carrying a rather large wad of cash around for quite some time. An envelope full of nice, crisp hundred dollar bills. This fact came to light last evening during a discussion about having enough money in the checking account at the time the aforementioned property tax bill was due. Say what!! Let’s get that into the bank! And then I was just a wee bit freaked out about how to actually *get* it into the bank. The money was from an innocent enough source. The GG sold our beloved old Dogha to someone who paid cash. Somehow I still felt like a drug dealer making the deposit. I mean, who the heck carries large sums of cash around any more. I have colorful plastic cards and on a good day, I have enough cash to buy a cup of coffee.

And so, it is still hot here. I don’t even know why I wrote that. Why bother. We are under some kind of “heat dome” or something. It could be a while and I will make myself remember this when it is 10 below zero next winter. If it were 10-15 degrees cooler and it was not the eve of the Planet Ann Arbor Art Fair(s), we would’ve walked downtown for dinner on the eve of our annual launch from the swampiness of summer in the southeast corner of the Great Lake State to the swampiness of the moominbeach. (The moominbeach has a swamp behind it but this summer it has also been hot and swampy.)

Too hot and too far and probably too many people. We trucked over to Knight’s instead. Knight’s was pretty crowded too but somehow we managed to get one of our coveted tables on the balcony. I think it may be the first time I have ever gone out to dinner with an empty grokkery bag tucked under my arm. Because, after dinner, we detoured to the Plum Market to buy some stuff to eat in the Frog Hopper on the way to Houghton Lake tomorrow night. Well, that is we detoured to the Plum *after* we hit the party store. The one that I always fergit is there. The errand there tonight was cee-gars (fer the GG, not fer yer fav-o-rite blahgger) but I noticed that they had what looked like quite a large selection of fancy beers and 10-High too.

I can handle the GG smoking an occasional cee-gar*. After all, Grandroobly used to indulge in those from time to time. I am glad that I didn’t marry a member of the Copenhagen Chewers of America. If I am remembering accurately, there were quite a few of those in my high school. I mentioned the CCA to the liqwire store clerk and she looked at me like “eeee-yew” until I winked and said, “those were the study hall guys” and then she cracked up. I had a study hall in my schedule in freshman year and I HATED IT! Sheesh! I could do my homework in about 15 minutes and then I had to sit there for the whole rest of the hour. It was in our creaky old high school auditorium and we had assigned seats that were like five or six seats and a couple rows from anyone else. Which… Was okay because I didn’t want to sit with any of those people anyway. Somebody in there actually once told me I looked like B-witch…

End of fire drill day #1.

* It’s the ensuing spitting that I can’t stand!

109 and 4

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Got into the Ninja in the late morning to make a trip from work to the Saline Rd. Meijer. Vee-hickle temperature sensor’s take on the ambient temp? 102. Now, it was really not *that* hot. I think that temp was the result of sitting around in the sun on a paved parking lot. It slowly wound itself down to 89. Back at work, I lowered the windows a few inches. Not far enough down for the red winged blackbirds to poop all over the interior of the vee-hickle but enough to at least make me think I was letting some air in. A couple hours later our building “mom” sent out an email that said, in essence, “red blobs inbound toward the Planet”. I slodged out to the parking lot through the heat and humidity and turned the key. 109! Oh, and *4* (count ’em) weather alerts on Weatherbug on my phone: 1) heat advisory (yeah, we know that), 2) some kind of air quality alert (thank you god for giving me good lungs), 3) severe thunderstorms, and 4) an extra special alert from Weatherbug about detecting lots of lightning in the area. We never got severe storms but we did get some decent rain (and we NEEDED it) and it is now about 81. Tolerable.

Man, that was boring. Weather in the Great Lake State. If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes… How about Borders? Yes, it is closing. I could write a maudlin post about how wonderful the original store on State Street was. (Actually, I think there was at least one Borders store before that.) About how they actually had MATH BOOKS there. About how the GG used to take his newborn baby there and everybody would ooh and aah about how cute she was and pretty girls would strike up conversations with him. About how that same baby learned how to climb stairs at Borders. And how, after months of saving up money to buy an American Girl doll, she decided she would rather have a hard copy of The Wind in the Willows and guess where we went to buy that? And about a billion other memories of Borders.

I am sorry that Borders is closing. It means that people I know and love will lose their jobs. It means that a large store in downtown A2 will be empty. I sure hope that Thongs and Bongs doesn’t move in! Oh right, they already have a space right next to a high-end chocolate store and a youth writing center. Anyway, in my not-so-humble-opinion, Borders made a couple of mistakes over the years. One was expanding waaaayy too fast and forgetting its roots along the way. The other is not keeping up with new technology. In the first place, not catching on to Amazon.com’s online model. In the second place, not looking ahead to the inevitable future of electronic books. But, in a way, who knew?

Finally, that is our old KMart kiddie pool, or maybe the first one. They don’t last a really long time. We never did get anything approaching a severe thunderstorm today but we are being threatened with another one now. Not sure it’s gonna turn into anything.

Oh, P. S. There’s Rubber Ducky in that pool!

I need one o’ them thar kiddie pools from KMart. Or the Big Lake They Call Gitchee Gumee.

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Or I could just turn on the Landfill’s handy dandy central a/c. But that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? Because, really, if you live in the Great Lake State, the scorching heat of summer is welcome after the hardland of the winter. And vice versa…

It was, I dunno, the late 1980s or early 1990s. It was hotter than Hades. Like it is today. We (me and the beach urchins) made an evening tour around to all the neighborhood playgrounds. Yellow-slide Playground. Red-slide Playground. I forget what else (somebody help me here). I can’t remember exactly what our vee-hickular configuration was. I *think* I was pushing Mouse in a stroller and Lizard was riding a bike with training wheels. When we got home from that evening’s adventures, I filled the little KMart kiddie pool with nice cold H2O, went and got the soap and shampoo and it was bath time in the Landfill back yard. What the heck? I grew up bathing in Gitchee Gumee in the good ol’ summertime.

Er, actually, I have got to say that bathing in Gitchee Gumee in the summertime can be lots of fun but it is not fun when it is oh, I dunno, 45 degrees (Fahrenheit) when you wake up in the morning and you need to be at work at 8:00 AM. There were many times when I sucked it up and bathed in the damn lake and I will never forget once when I got to work (at 8 AM) and the big boss Mr. Drysdale asked me if I had gone swimming that morning. This is a whole lot less creepy than it sounds because it was common knowledge around the Tempo store that I swam (in Lake Superior) before work. There were also (many) days when I wimped out and cadged a shower at Radical Betty’s or the White Tornado’s. I always felt kind of guilty about using their facilities and I was sooooo happy when The Commander finally decided that the Moomincabin needed just enough indoor plumbing to support a toilet and shower. And really, that is just about all it does need. It is only a summer home, after all…

But, when you have little kids and it is really hot and you *don’t* have central a/c (and we didn’t then), taking a bath in cold water in a little swimming pool in the back yard gets the job done and it is FUN!!!

Love you all,
Kayak Woman!

85.49 Gig (or whatever) and please don’t dress like Burke…

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Minus 1: Once again, when I am walking on the sidewalk and you are coming up behind me on a bicycle, waiting until you are two feet behind me to stage-whisper “on your left” is liable to cause an accident. You have startled the bejabbers out of me and I could potentially jump ANY direction. Like left. Ride in the street or get a bell and start ringing it a half block back, like the kindergartners do. And don’t get surly with me when I mention that you startled me. (Disclaimer: This is aimed at ONE cyclist with bad manners, not the grizillion others that I encounter who don’t, so don’t anyone get their undies in a bunch :-))

Minus 2: If we have been watching you and your buddy stand out on the sidewalk in front of The Landfill smoking cigarettes for 15 minutes, it is unlikely that we will want to take you up on your “free estimate” when you finally get around to knocking on our door. In fact, we will think that you have been “casing the joint”, although you will not find anything of value here so I’m not sure why you might bother. You get extra points deducted for knocking at my door as I am standing on the other side of it dressed in washer-woman clothes and bagging up some odiferous garbage and SAYING, “Oh, I caught you when you were doing the garbage.”

Plus 1: Whew. Managed to clean out the rest of last winter’s ashes from the Landfill Faarrplace. And then went on to clean the whole surrounding area and ran Rooooomba around that half of the room. Twice. Because there was so much dirt in the carpet near the faaarrplace that the first run drained my poor little Roooomba’s battery.

Plus 2: Can you say 85.68 gigabytes? I cleaned out my old (2007) MacBook today so that we can install it at The Commander’s new apartment at Freighter View. A new Command Central. I went from somewhere around 6 GB when I started this cleanup and I am now at, like 85 GB. Or whatever. The Commander has an “old” computer (iBook laptop) and it is time. Her computer is in a failure mode. And thanks to our friend M who spent time today working to help The Comm with her computer.

Anyway, I managed to regain a bit of control over the Landfill today. The pluses added up to just a weeeee bit more than the minuses…

We are gonna burn brush and stuff tonight. Burn, baby, burn.

Naturalists Naturists in a dirgible dirigible

Friday, July 15th, 2011

I am on the cusp. It is the last weekend before my “vacation”. I don’t know why I always feel like this before my “vacation”. As excited as I am about going on “vacation”, I am almost afraid to embark on it. It is the same “vacation” that I always take. And probably mostly always will take. This year’s version of hanging out at the moominbeach. Yes, I am that boring. I mean, it is an absolutely gorgeous stretch of beach. And the beach urchins will be there. And Uber Kayak Woman. And the rest of the cast will be this summer’s subset of all of the usual folks. The same folks I’ve known since I could first walk and talk and their children and grandchildren. It will be fun and exciting and relaxing and boring there will be moments of angst and disagreement and I may even fling a muskellunge or two. It will be what it will be.

And I am nervous. I am always like this before my “vacation”. Given that it is the same blasted “vacation” every year, you would think I would be used to it! Not. It is the shifting gears part that throws me. I am here on The Planet Ann Arbor and it’s actually pretty darn nice down here in the summer. At least when it isn’t a hot, swampy mess. And even when it is a hot swampy mess, well, I dunno, it is what it is. It is home after all these years. I did not have a very productive work day today. I was antsy as all get-out. After work? It is Friday and so I walked down to the Old Town Barrroooom for a ‘hattan (or two) and dinner. NpJane met us there tonight and, after a while, we became Porterized. We walked NpJane home and then we trucked back on over to the far west side and I. Took. A. Shower. It is a “dry heat” here today (you know the kind, roight?) but after a day’s total of 8 miles of walking, I needed a shower.

So, we’re home here this weekend. We will be burning stuff in the back yard. And cleaning out the faaarrplace that I usually clean out in April but didn’t get to this year. And whatever other chores there are. And I will be trying to chill before we begin this summer’s odyssey to the Great No-so-white North. I know that as soon as I get into the Frog Hopper, I’ll be okay. When I get to the moominbeach, I’ll be wondering why I was so nervous about leaving. For now, I am in a sort of a slow train-wreck mode. It’s okay. This is always how it is.

Yes, this is boring. I’m sorry. I am dead on my feet tonight. I am babbling. Good night.

Incoherently yours,
Kayak Woman

Hire the Yooper! Maybe he’ll be able to handle the snow removal problem.

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

So… The loverly Planet Ann Arbor officials have done their best to reduce the police and fire department staffing to what some folks are calling dangerous levels. They ended the annual leaf pickup last fall. They ended the annual Christmas tree pickup last winter. Snow plowing? Half-hearted attempts at best the last few years. Don’t even talk to me about the roads or the Stadium Bridge. On the other hand… They are building a trenormous underground parking garage where my fave old library lot used to be and they *tried* to sneak through a plan to build a conference center Martian toaster on top of that. And there’s a fancy fountain somewhere. And a proposed train station where I don’t *think* there are any trains (but I could be wrong). And I forget what else. Buckets, anyone?

Now they are talking about coming after our trash pickup service. We can’t afford it, we have to cut back services, yada yada… Among the ideas currently being floated? Only pick up the trash once every two weeks. Okay, that would probably work in the winter but my handy dandy A2 garbage cart gets pretty darned odiferous when it’s 90 every day. I suppose I could freeze the most odiferous garbage items, like Radical Betty used to do when the moominbeach residents used to take turns taking everyone’s garbage to the dump. I can just imagine trying to get all of the Planet Ann Arbor Residents to do something like *that*. Another idea? Have people put all of the trash receptacles on one side of the street. Now that actually sounded good to me at first. With trash cans on both sides of the street, the trucks currently have to make two passes down each street. That has got to be expensive! But then I thought about how much fun (not) it is to haul those big carts out to the street through eight inches of unplowed snow. And then I thought about how easy it is for meeee to manage big garbage carts but what about our more frail residents. I will guess that there are some folks around who have enough trouble hauling those things out to the curb on a dry mid-summer day. I wonder how I’ll feel about these carts when I am 90? And who will help me? Or will I be hanging out at Freighter View? I hope I can get The Comm’s room!

The news that our local taxes can’t afford the level of trash collection we’ve become accustomed to comes after years and years of upgrades to trash pickup equipment. First it was the handy-dandy A2 garbage cart and new trucks that picked it up with a big arm. Compost and recycle carts followed along with their respective pick-up trucks. I actually love this system but it does involve a lot of trucks and maybe it’s too good to be true?

But yes, we are looking to hire a new city administrator here, now that the last one has grabbed started drawing his pension and gone to work for our wondrous governor at a nice six-figure salary. We have two candidates for the administrator position and one of them is from the Yooperland (actually, he isn’t *from* the Yooperland but he has lived and worked there for enough years to qualify for Yooper status). He’s the one I hope they hire and it is not because he’s a Yooper or because I think he will improve the snow removal situation (although I hope that situation does improve because it was piss-poor last winter). It is because he is (in my not-always-very-humble opinion) the superior candidate. Alas, in breaking news, it turns out that he is also a finalist for a similar job in Iowa. Pick Michigan. Pick Michigan. Pick Michigan. Say yeeeesssss to Michigan!

Killer Tomatoes

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The Oak Park front yard vegetable garden controversy has been blogged and twittered by folks from The Planet Ann Arbor to Timbuctoo – “gone viral” as they say — so I am well aware that most of you are not reading about it here first.

If you have taken up residence under my recently vacated rock (yes, the amethyst one, make yourself at home), the story goes that a family in Oak Park (it’s a Dee-troit suburb) planted a vegetable garden in their front yard and a city official (we’ll just call him Zippy the Pinhead) cited them for violation of some vaguely worded city ordinance or whatever and told them they had to move their garden to the back. They refused and the whole thing went to court and, well, if you want accurate details, check out the gardener’s blahg: http://oakparkhatesveggies.wordpress.com/. (I didn’t link to her, she has enough traffic, not to mention phone calls and interviews and things, and she is trying to *reply* to them all. All. But she is a wonderful writer and is handling the whole thing with much more grace and courage and a *much* better sense of humor than *yer* fav-o-rite blahgger would! So check out her blog.)

Is this insanity or what? A vegetable garden? How can a vegetable garden be a bad thing? The local officials here on the Planet Ann Arbor have been known to do some loony things but they have not outlawed vegetable gardens. Even in the front yard.

The beautiful vegetable garden in the photo belongs to some neighbors of mine. It is in their front yard and I am envious. I am envious of anyone who can grow things. My neighbors. Some of my nieces. The Botanist. The Beautiful Aunt Suzie in Fla with her exotic fruits. Even my daughters have shown some talent at getting green things to grow, although neither of them have the time or space to do much gardening at the moment.

I am a huge wannabee gardener. Alas, I have a black thumb! Or maybe I don’t. Maybe I just don’t have enough guzzinto to get out there and *persist* in doing some of the hard work involved in gardening. I can always use the excuse, “I don’t have time.” I have a full-time career, right? Roight. I used that same taaarrrred old excuse when I did not have a full-time career. This year, like every year, I day-dreamed about having a garden. With vegetables. I thought I would try starting small, with a couple containers of, I dunno what. Basil (as I just told Sam in an email), maybe. I use a lot of basil and I have actually *grown* it before. Successfully, even. My excuse this year even has a bit of validity to it. What with living the life of a 21st century nomadic enigma, I was hardly home at the Landfill and, when I was, if I wasn’t doing the most basic of things necessary to keep a 21st century landfill going, I was sitting in the back room staring into space.

I think gardens are a *good* thing! I think we should be encouraging people to grow their own food in whatever nook or cranny they have access to. In the last couple weeks, there has been a *storm* of publicity about the “obesity epidemic” and the “food deserts” that force so many of our most impoverished citizens to subsist on cheap, unhealthy snack foods. And what if everyone had a garden in their front yard? Maybe that would get people talking to each other a bit more. Maybe if more people were outside working in their [front yard] gardens, a few more criminals might be deterred.

Many people have written more eloquently than I have about this issue. I actually think that the Oak Park city officials will come to their senses and back down. They are getting negative publicity from all over the world. I hope that the people of Oak Park will get more involved in local politics and vote somebody besides Zippy and his crew into office. I am no poster child for city involvement myself but I am earnestly trying to get more engaged in the local government here on the planet. I hope we can get rid of some of the clowns (yes) here. Sigh…

Enough for now. If you are a gardener, I hope your garden is thriving. I wonder if there is hope for me and my black thumb…

Rest in peace, Papa

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

I was hanging out here in the Landfill Chichen scrawling out a long, unintelligible screed about the latest antics of our loverly mayor and city council, when there was a knock at the door. At 6:30 or so who could be at the door? Mormon missionary? Sierra Club proselytizer? Young American Kid selling candy to “keep him off drugs”? All of those things and noooo thank you. I knew if I went to answer the door I would bite somebody’s head off. So I got the GG. And wouldn’t you know, it was Luke of Perrynet. Luke can knock (and has knocked) on our door any time of the day or night.

As I walked from the Chitchen to the front room, I saw him point next door and say, “Sunday at 3:00.” Hans, “Papa” to his grandkids. I wasn’t surprised. I’m not sure how old Hans was. He was younger than The Comm but he was no spring chicken and he had a lot of problems and, for a few years now, I’ve been figuring it was only a matter of time.

Papa and Fabian (his wife prefers “Fabian” over “grandma”) were living in the corner house to the south of us when we moved in. In fact, they lived there when we were kids and, when I became a Haisley PTO mom, I encountered old papers with Hans’s name on them. Haisley PTO president.

Papa’s daughter had twins, boy and girl, a few months after Lizard Breath was born and Laura came along about a year later than Mouse. Although those kids were living in Chicago, cancer and a divorce caused them to visit Papa’s house with quite some frequency, and they even lived there for a year, going to school at Haisley. Those times are some of my best memories of bringing up kids here in the Landfill neighborhood. With kids right next door, there were built-in playmates. It was a lot like when I was a street urchin on the south side of Sault Ste. Siberia and it alleviated me at least somewhat from the whole minivan-playdate scene. On the flip side, I can also remember yelling, “SHUT THE DOOR!” about a frizillion times a day as everybody slam-banged in and out of the house.

I have so many memories of Hans, I can’t sort them out. One of my favorite? It was summer and Lizard Breath and the twins were five or thereabouts. We had one of those loverly little plastic kiddie pools from KMart in the back yard. Wish I had one now! It was lunch time. My plan was something like PBJ sandwiches! Max (one of the twins) came bounding in the back door brandishing a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese! Okay. I hated that stuff when *I* was a *kid*! I had *never* cooked it for my kids and I was kinda hoping we wouldn’t go down that road. I refused to cook it. I was nice (I think). I can’t remember if they actually ate PBJ at my house or not. But they did take the macaroni and cheese over to Papa’s house and *he* cooked it for them and my kids *loved* it and boy oh boy, have I bought a you-know-what-load of Kraft macaroni and cheese over the years. To this day, I still haven’t touched a bite o’ that stuff.

We haven’t seen much of Papa and Fabian over the last couple of years. I went back to work, they became very frail, and we are out of town a *lot*. They have a good network of friends in the area and I have seen various people there over the years. Apparently they moved to assisted living a while back (I’m guessing around the time I became the 21st century nomadic enigma or thereabouts) and Fabian, who has memory issues and/or a touch of dementia, is settling into the memory care facility there. She’s aware enough to know that Hans has died.

I haven’t said anywhere near enough but, “Farewell, Papa.”