Archive for August, 2011

Free range chickies?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Maybe some others have seen this link about first grade readiness checklists now and back in the Jurassic Age. Well, actually, 1979 was not the Jurassic Age. The Jurassic Age was when I was a street urchin on the south side of Sault Ste. Siberia back in the early 1960s.

Anyway, I saw the link fly by on Facebook or Twitter a couple times and then my own beach urchin Lizard Breath (top photoooo, 1991, Mouse is the one with the rabbit hat, she had impetigo that day and so was not in school) emailed me the link and asked about her own childhood. And, well, yes, I did let her walk to her friend Shuggie’s house by herself at the age of six. Shuggie’s house is around one corner, just out of sight. And yes, I did expect her to call when she got there. And when she forgot (and she sometimes did), I called Shuggie’s moom to make sure she got there. She did walk to and from school (also very close to the Landfill) many days. But I (or the GG) often walked her there too. I remember once when she was nine and wanted to go to the schoolyard by herself to play. I guess I was hesitant because I still remember her saying, “Moom, I am nine.” She said it very gently, as LB does, i.e., Moom, I’ll be okay.

I often think to myself something like, “When I was a south side Sault Ste. Siberian street urchin, I was roaming all over the neighborhood by the time I was three.” When I really think about it, not so much. My moom and Laurie’s moom got us together in kindergarten but I’ll bet it was first grade before we started going back and forth to each others’ houses alone. We were about a block and a half away from each other and, for one thing, walking down my alley involved dodging the rocks the Waisenen bros threw. They were even younger than us and I don’t think they were allowed to leave their yard. At least Johnny wasn’t. He was maybe three but he was a dern good rock thrower.

Is the world more scary now than it was in the Jurassic Age (or 1979 (or 1991 (or 1600 (or…)))? I dunno. I could go on and on and on about how my childhood neighborhood was safe, yada yada yada. My parents *did* know a lot of people and those people knew me. My grandparents lived maybe 9-10 blocks away. And yet, there was that one time… I was eight and I was doing my current (rather OCD) evening routine of riding my bike around the block 20 times or whatever it was (it was a small block with approximately four houses on each side and an alley in the middle) and a stranger pulled up beside me in a car. He yelled what I now know was, “Hey kid, do you wanna go to the picture show?”. I was freaked out by him from the get-go but, to make it worse, there was a funeral home in the area with a name that sounded a lot like “picture show” but I can’t remember it for the life of me and Google isn’t turning it up. But I was thinking, “Why would I want a ride to a funeral home?!?” Anyway. I was two houses away from my house. I could run like the red queen at that age. I flung myself off my bike, grabbed it, and ran like hell with it past the Herons’ house and Green Thumb McGinnis’s house through my yard and into the garage. The guy was yelling “Hey kid, Hey kid” the whole time. What was he thinking? I got inside the house and saw his car screaming down the alley. What was he thinking? Was he actually still looking for me? I never told my parents this. I’m sure my dog Tigger was probably barking like heck, lunging at the back door, wanting to eviscerate him. (Moom, don’t be freaked out. I handled it. I lived and gave you grandchildren!)

A wonderful Haisley mafia moom who also happens to be a judge in this town once said that the thing we are all afraid of — that would be stranger abduction — *never* happens. I think she is largely right. I think that most of our country’s missing children have been taken away by relatives. Sad and scary (sometimes) as that is, they are usually not killed in those situations.

So… I think there are dangers to children in every generation. I think our job as parents is to try to educate our children about how to deal with those dangers. To be aware of our surroundings and the people in them and know how to react appropriately. I remember being told by my parents about not talking to strangers. I wasn’t always exactly sure who was a stranger or not. But the picture show guy was definitely a stranger and I was damned if was gonna go anywhere with him in his crappy old beater of a car. Say what? Fortunately, I was very close to home. And could run like the red queen…

Cognitive dissonance

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Sometimes I think I was better off back when I was ignorant and apathetic about Planet Ann Arbor politics. That was just a year or so ago…

#1. Sidewalk repair milleage? Really? The city (I’m changing to “city” for the rest of this) doesn’t already repair its sidewalks? Well, no, it doesn’t. I know this because several years ago almost everyone in our neighborhood received a notice from the city saying that this and that sidewalk pane was in a state of disrepair. Well, duh. We had a couple of sidewalk panes that fit that description. The edges were far enough apart to allow a couple of big moths to mate in the space between them. This was during a tornado warning. The sky was a loverly shade of yellow-black, the beach urchins were throwing every stuffed aminal they owned down the basement stairs and the GG was out there with Hans, taking photooos of the moths. Anyway, we got a notice that we either had to hire a contractor to fix the sidewalk or the city would do it at a premium price. What the heck? We’ve owned this house for 27 years and this was a first for me. A bunch of neighbors got together and hired someone and we moved on (and on and on) with life. Nooowwww… Apparently there will be a milleage on the November ballot to raise our property taxes so that the city can replace sidewalks as needed. Do I feel gypped? Well, yes, I do. Nevertheless, I will probably vote yes albeit not without some trepidation. Even though I have already paid big bucks to fix my own sidewalk, I think the city *should* fix the sidewalks when they need it and I can afford the tax increase. Now *will* the city fix the sidewalks? They certainly don’t fix the roads…

#2. Idling ban? Well that’s a good idea. Make a law against idling your vee-hickle. Like when you turn your vee-hickle on in your driveway while you SHOVEL SNOW!!! Or when you are waiting to pick up your kid at school (actually when I *did* that, I turned off my vee-hickle). Environmentally friendly law? Yes sir! But. If you are laying off police officers, who are you gonna get to enforce this wondrous new law? Hmmm… Wasn’t there a serial rapist (or rapists, no one knows for sure) earlier this summer? Is there a disconnect here or what? Lay off police and enact new, trivial laws. And whatcha gonna do about all of the idling that occurs at the Jackson/Maple stoplight, where you have to sit through four cycles to make a left turn. Do those people have to turn off their vee-hickles too? Again, who is gonna enforce this? (Yes, I know that the Prius and other hybrids automatically shut off. We aren’t there yet. Our vee-hickle needs to handle significant snow and tow boats and trailers.)

#3. Medical marijuana. I hesitate to even go there on this more or less G-rated blahg. But. Sheesh! I can’t begin to understand what’s going on around here. First, a bill gets passed in Michigan for people to be able to obtain pot for medicinal purposes. I voted for that. I actually think that pot should be legal. It isn’t my drug of choice (and I don’t go anywhere near it) but I will never be convinced that it is any more dangerous than alcohol. In fact, it may be *less* dangerous if you are talking about driving because, in my humble experience back in the 1970s, people who have been smoking pot are more interested in sinking back into some dirty old couch than getting into an automotive vee-hickle and driving somewhere. Anyway, a bill gets passed. A2 has had a lenient law about pot from the get-go. The city council spends at least a year figuring out the rules surrounding medical marijuana “dispensaries”. Rules from the state are not at all clear but multiple dispensaries open up anyway. Then. A court rules that people can’t buy pot from these dispensaries. The day after that, what’s left of the police invades the dispensaries and shuts them down. Go here if you are interested. The comments are where the real action happens. Does any of this make any sense? I am shaking my head in disbelief.

Confused? I am. I’ll leave the public art bucket and the train station parking structure for some other day.

eets a guy treep

Monday, August 29th, 2011

At least that’s the excuse I’m using for not going off to Montana with the Twinz of Terror. Actually, I wasn’t invited. Mouse did receive an invitation. She has to work (and so do I).

Anyway, the Twinz of Terror and the UU’s son Tim are in Montana visiting The Beautiful Gay’s sister, The Beautiful Patty. They surprised TBP by taking her *daughter* with them. I did not realize that was a surprise until about the day before they flew, so it’s probably a good thing I didn’t do something dumb like spill the beans on facebook! Anyway. Very cool surprise.

I hope I do get to Montana (and a whole bunch of other places) one of these days. It was not in the cards for me. My sojourn as the 21st Century Nomadic Enigma has taken a toll on my vacation time. I still have some but I am eeking it out with great care.

Anyway it was really a guy trip. I do not have the right kind of footwear to hike in mountainous terrain. Our Canadian friends were right to be skeptical of my Chaco sandals, although my attire was fine for the trip to Betty’s Cove. And there are grizzly bares bears where they are going (I think). And I am not a happy camper. I mean, I like to cook and eat and sleep outdoors, etc. I am just not crazy about bares bears and bugs. And I NEED water. I mean water that I can bathe and wash my uber-thick hair in. I don’t necessarily need a shower. A lake or decent sized stream will do, assuming there is privacy. Yes I am a camping wimp. What can I say?

This photoooo was taken by the GG last night. There are ‘hattans in the wilds of Montana! Last I knew, the Twinz of Terror and Tim were headed off into the wild for some sort of overnight camping-hiking trip. I hope they have a good time. I think I’ll stop at that.

Night of Skunks!

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Once upon a time, I used to walk my kids to school. A half-block down the street, past the Deep Dark Scary Woods and into the schoolyard. I always walked them over there in the early grades but once they got to the H-team, I didn’t much bother except when I needed to go over there for PTO business. The H-team was 3rd and 4th grade and the H-team teachers (there were four) did not let the H-team kids into the building until they were darn good and ready to. There was a lot of backpack whacking and stuff. Mouse in particular did not seem to mind me walking her over there and hanging around outside the H-team door with her. Maybe I was a somewhat mitigating factor for the backpack whackers? People, your kids are not cute when they hit other kids with backpacks. Control them! It’s kind of like owning dogs, in a way.

Anyway, Mr. K of Multiplication Blues fame was one of the 3rd grade teachers (probably still is, actually :-)) and one morning, when we arrived, Mr. K mentioned a strong skunk smell wafting through the schoolyard. Well. *I* had first noticed the skunk smell at that batscope hour of the night. In fact, I think that was what woke me up that particular time. It was skunky all over the neighborhood the next morning and, when I told Mr. K that there were skunks everywhere, he replied, “Night of Skunks!”, in a horror movie type voice.

It was skunky around here last night. I don’t know who is bathing their dog in tomato juice this morning but the smell lingered until mid-morning, when Froggy and I grabbed a couple o’ bagels and some cream cheese @Zingermans @Plummarket and took them over to Mouse’s beautiful balcony. I think that in a perfect world, Mouse would probably like to be living downtown on the Planet Ann Arbor. Or maybe on a totally different planet somewhere.

My Mouse has an uncanny way of landing in cool apartments. I still miss her little studio over in Kalamazoo. We would go over to K and take her out to breakfast and hang out in her apartment before whatever show she was acting/directing/costuming/whatever went on. I would monkey around on the internet and the GG would nap… Her current place is not large or luxurious. It is really nice but it is typical apartment housing for folks who can pay their rent but are not quite ready for kidz and dogz and a mortgage. I have lived in a few places like that myself. This is a fine apartment. The balcony? OMG. I love sitting on Mouse’s balcony in the late morning on a late summer day with bagels and coffee from Mouse’s french press and Froggy and iPhones and…

What’s the story, morning glory…

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

In the late 1990s I often drove hordes of teens and preteens all over the city in my loverly old POC. Oasis was one of the CDs in the rotation. There were others. I got sick of some groups/artists but not Oasis. I swore to myself when I was a teenager that I would *never* fight with my children about trivial things like taste in music or clothing. And I didn’t. I *think* that [in part] got me through never having to deal with some of the very real sex & drugs type problems that many of us baby-boomer me-generation parents have had to deal with.

Anyway, even though the GG flew out to Montana today, he was up for a 2-mile hike down to the Planet Ann Arbor farmer’s market this morning. We got down there just at 7:00 AM, got coffee and trundled around until we were ready to gear up and truck back up the hill to the Landfill. We ogled a lot of things but we didn’t buy anything except coffee because…

There was this whole Montana trip. Our nephew’s friend picked up the GG at about 10 today. The Twinz of Terror and nephew Tim flew outta Daytwa today for Montana. For a week. In a way, I wish *I* could’ve gone with them. Alas. I have lots of stuff to do at work next week and I am going up to the Moominbeach to labor on the Labor Day weekend. That’s a joke, you guys. But I’ll be cooking mostly just for me this week so I won’t need a whole lot of food of any sort…

I am not quite sure why the Planet Ann Arbor mayor and city council think we need more art in the city when we have all of these loverly faaaar hydrants.


Friday, August 26th, 2011

I dunno if you can tell, but the sidewalk in front of Iztarg Gratzi there is totally overflowing. Sidewalk seating is all the rage here on the Planet Ann Arbor. In the summer anyway, not winter, for what are obvious reasons to anyone who lives anywhere near here. There are big crowds of people eating outside all the way up and down Main Street on a Friday night. It is wonderful that these big crowds of people come to downtown A-squared to eat. All that business is a good thing. But I was totally maxed out tonight. I walked down to meet the GG at the Old Town Barrroooomm after work. It was *not* all that busy at the OTB tonight. They don’t bother with outdoor seating. Just wait a few weeks until feetsball season is in full swing. It’ll be busy. When we were done with dinner, I was DONE! I wanted to start walking back to the Landfill *immediately*. Others were not quite ready. I guess I was not very patient. I have to be in just the right mood to deal with crowds like that. It helps if it is early in the morning and I don’t have anything in particular on my agenda. Friday evening? Not so much. Plus I kept getting stuck walking behind people smoking cigarettes. Not sure when *that* started to bother me so much. I mean, I am *not* allergic. Back in the Jurassic Age when smoking was acceptable, I *dated* people who smoked cigarettes. And I even *like* the smell of woodsmoke, especially when it stays in my hair overnight until I wash it out. I’m sorry. I guess I was just ultra-sensitive tonight. I think I will chug some ice water and hit the rack with the New Yorker on my iPad. Hope I can prop my eyes open long enough to actually read it. Seeya tomorrow. Good night. –KW.

Remote… Data… Concentrator…

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

So, it is late and I am having trouble figuring out what to talk about or where to start. The GG is babbling away about his [very good] job and his upcoming trip to Montana and I cannot get a toehold into the space that I need to write even the most basic incomprehensible kind of blather that makes up the majority of my blahg posts.

I have been kind of slodging along the last couple weeks. My job has been in one of the relatively slow periods that it sometimes gets into between prodjekts. I had to drag myself out of the Landfill Chitchen today. But then, things started picking up. Dev and QA peppered me with at least a billion picky little questions. I live for that stuff even when it makes me think on my feet. Or maybe *because* it makes me think on my feet. The LSCHP actually threw a staff meeting together to regroup with us and assign new work (yay!). And I got an actual joke (a work kind of joke) from an unexpected person and that made me smile.

And then… I got a text message from none other than @mouseleen. “Getting off at 5 & going to the Plum Market, and then do you want to take a walk?” [er, something like that, anyway]. Well… Yes!!! We didn’t do it in exactly that order. We met at the Landfill and grabbed some Plum bags and walked a couple of miles. We walked down toward West Park, passing my work buddy W1.5’s house at one point. All kinds of people [and dogz] were out walking this afternoon. It was nuts. We eventually made our way over to Dexter and headed up to the Plum Market and then home to the Landfill, where we met the GG and we all walked over to our loverly neighborhood pub, Knight’s, for dinner.

A serendipitous day. May we all have a few of those here and there.

Love y’all and g’night,


Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Yes, the sign says “FREE”. It’s a little hard to see because, although there was enough light, I am always just a wee bit nervous about taking photooos of stuff in people’s yards. For one thing, is it legal? I do think that its legal for me to photograph something in someone’s yard from a public street. But then there’s the whole what if they see me thing? Anyway, I took a blurry photooo and…

I do not have a clue about what the sign means. Did these people vote for Obama with the huge hope that he would solve all of the problems of the world, or at least our country and have buyers’ remorse? Or did they use the Obama/Biden sign to shore up the “FREE” sign to indicate that there were free items in the box below it? It’s hard to tell here on the Planet Ann Arbor. We are known as a rather liberal-progressive town but not *everybody* here is that (I am not, or not exactly) and so, whatever. The sign was not there this morning but I did have to deal with a damn skunk a few doors down from my house. Anyway…

I voted for Obama. I am a skeptic from the get-go and didn’t buy into the whole hope thing. I liked Obama’s approach and I don’t like that the Republican party (and I have voted for quite a few Republicans in the past) seems to have abandoned science and women’s [and children’s] rights.

I don’t think of Obama (or any president) as a savior in any way. But he inherited the horrible economic situation that we are living through these days. I more or less predicted the housing/mortgage crisis back in the late 1990s. I could not figger how so many people were able to buy McMansions. Or why the banks were giving them mortgages. It happened and I don’t think there are too many individuals who could lead our country out of the mess it is in. I am very unhappy that there has not been a bi-partisan effort to deal with this very difficult issue.

Good night. There is a tornado *watch* going on here and I am hearing thunder. No earthquakes, thank you very much.

Love you all,
Kayak Woman

Earthquake? What earthquake?

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

I have felt exactly one earthquake in my life. It was right here on the Planet Ann Arbor. Winter 1986. 1-point-something on the Richter Scale. I was vacuuming. Things started vibrating. I could hear stuff rattling on the shelves in front of the chitchen sink (no, I don’t have those any more). It’s a big gravel rig going up Maple. Except the rattling went on and on and on. And on. Yes. An earthquake.

I was *in* a 4-point-something earthquake once. I didn’t feel it! I was in Callyforny and we were sitting in a Starbucks in Oakland. It was around 9PM and Elizilla and I were waiting for her roommate to meet us. “Moom, did you feel that? It was an earthquake!” Something like that. Naw. This baggy old snowbilly flatlander was oblivious. I was not oblivious a little bit later when a crazed looking street person started following us to our vee-hickle. I am well accustomed to crazed looking street people. We have a *lot* of them here on the Planet. 99% of them are harmless and the other 1% are probably harmless 99% of the time. This guy? He freaked me out!

Ho hum. An earthquake in Virginia. How often does Virginia have earthquakes? Not very often. I’m sure our niece The Beautiful Renee is thinking about the irony of moving from SanFran to Virginia and experiencing an earthquake in *Virginia*. I am also remembering my step-grandmother Bolette. She was born in 1902 in Iowa. Her dad was a preacher and he moved the family to California and then Detroit. She remembers that they were relieved to leave the tornadoes of the great plains and the earthquakes of the west coast behind. And then, in the first year they lived in Daytwa, there was a tornado and an earthquake. Most of our earthquakes are very small but we have had some loooooverly tornadoes in this area.

So, did you feel this east coast earthquake? Have you ever felt an earthquake?

Ooooh, park park park park

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Here we have a few of the soldiers in a huge fleet of vee-hickles who are rebuilding the Haisley parking lot, the school behind the woods behind the Landfill, where the beach urchins attended grade school and I toiled for many hours as a hands-on volunteer. We bought the Landfill when we knew that Elizilla was on the way. One of the reasons we bought it was because there was a *school* behind the woods behind the house. It is a school that my children could walk to without crossing a major street — or any street. Walk a half block, turn right, walk another half-block and you are in the schoolyard! It was actually easier and faster for us to get to the school on foot than by driving, which involved over a mile on major Planet Ann Arbor arteries.

The parking lot… It’s been longer than I care to remember since the beach urchins attended Haisley School but the parking lot was a problem even then. According to the principal dictator at the time. The school was built in 1950. At that time probably just about everybody walked to school. The 1990s? Not so much. Lots of people drove their kids from even a few blocks away. And then there were the buses. And now that kids are coming in from the McMansions that blanket so much of our beautiful county’s once-farmland, I’m sure it’s worse.

I was the PTO newsletter editor for a few years and I can remember the principal dictator having hissies about how to get the word out to parents about how to navigate the parking lot. (Hint: The PTO newsletter is probably not the best way to do that. Just sayin’.) That was a long time ago and I don’t know where that principal dictator is these days but it seems she got her wish.

MAJOR reconstruction of the Haisley parking lot this summer. All summer. Who in the Planet Ann Arbor school administration has a brother-in-law in the parking lot business? This is the Cadillac of parking lots. The old parking lot was really not that bad. It was paved and there were handicap ramps. I dunno. I don’t think the huge amount of development done to this parking lot was necessary to improve it. In my experience with school parking lots, the problem is usually that people are inconsiderate of others. They jockey for spots and ignore traffic signs and sit there idling (watch for a post on idling maybe later this week).

I may be wrong but I have a very hard time believing that this huge parking lot improvement was necessary. And, given that our whole country is struggling with education and even the Planet Ann Arbor is *still* struggling with the achievement gap, WHY are we spending our tax dollars building fancy new parking lots? Shouldn’t our hard earned dollars be directed to readin’ ‘ritin’ ‘n’ ‘rithmetic?

I know enough about accounting to know that there are different buckets and that rebuilding a dern parking lot does not fall into the same category as RRR. But, what the heck? Why can’t we reorganize the damn buckets? The school district’s primary responsibilty is to educate children. Keeping buildings and even parking lots up to snuff is important for student safety. But…

I think that this is a good example of why citizens need to pay attention to their local boards and politicians.

A couple grand here, a couple grand there, here a moo, there a quack, everywhere a squeak squeak

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

We seem to be throwing money around two thousand dollars at a time lately (er, no we can’t afford to do that, who can?). Today’s winner of the Landfill Lotto? None other than the Planet Ann Arbor Apple Store! Congratulations guys. And gals.

Nobody around here had any plans to visit the Apple Store this weekend. I certainly didn’t. The last place I ever think about spending any time on a weekend is Briarwood Mall. Alas. Last night, after our guests left, the monitor on the Mother Ship, aka the GG’s iMac, went dead. Just. Like. That. It was [arguably] time. The Mother Ship is at least seven years old. The GG has been telling people it’s 10 years old but I did some figuring… We didn’t buy it until our beloved old strawberry iMac died and that was after I bought my 12″ screen G4 powerbook and *that* was the winter of Lizard Breath’s freshman year in college and **that** was in 2003. Seven or ten years is old for a computer but he did not want to give this one up.

So this morning, after trying a few more magic tricks and work-arounds, he pronounced it dead and was out the door 20 minutes before the Apple Store opened. I declined to accompany him. I have a new MacBook Pro, a new Windows beastie (for work), an iPad and an iPhone. I am over-satiated with computers and I have no interest in desktop machines. 27″ screen? What for? Opening a bunch of different browser windows? Maybe. Watching movies? I’d rather watch them up close and personal on my iPad. To each his own though and I wished him well on his little shopping trip.

Odyssey would be more accurate. They had what he wanted. Almost. He wanted more RAM. They had to install that. But then. Both our credit card and our debit card were declined. Say what? Actually, I wasn’t surprised about the debit card. I knew there wasn’t currently enough money in our checking account to pay for a computer so I’m glad that was declined. But the credit card? Hmmm… Did I pay the bill? I went out to their website. Lemme see. Outstanding balance: $1.50. Date due: 9/12/2011. Available credit: four times the price of the first new vee-hickle I bought. Disclaimer: I am not suggesting anyone should use a credit card to buy a car.

While I scratched my head about why a credit card with a negligible balance and no deliquency was declined, my brain went into full-tilt boggie boogie (boggie? boggart?) problem-solving gear. I could transfer money from our savings account to our checking account. Oops. I couldn’t get to that bank’s site today. At least not with my laptop’s browser. Carefully crossing my fingers, I began the login process on my phone. Success! Whew!! A few other glitches ensued but he was finally able to pay for his new 27″ screen iMac. And then. Ka-thunk. It was a lemon. Having to get that RAM upgrade installed may have been a blessing in disguise because the lemon was discovered *before* he left the store. A non-lemon was found and f-i-n-a-l-l-y the GG was on his way, huge box in hand.

A few things are making my brain hurt. 1) All of the gyrations involved in getting the right amount of cash and/or credit in the right place to make a successful transaction and 1a) the fact that I could do it just by clickety-clacking around the internet here in the Landfill Chitchen. 2) Wondering if it’s possible to count up all of the computing devices we have bought since the first Apple II+ back in 1979 and 2a) how many of them are in the Landfill Dungeon (not the strawberry iMac) and 2b) when did we get to the point that we are so dependent upon computers/internet that we can’t even wait for a new computer to be delivered via overnight mail. 3) How many years is it since Elizilla was a freshman in college? Yeeesh. Somebody please quit hitting the fast forward button.

The star Vega is overhead but you can’t quite see the ring nebula

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

We live in a garden city here. My neighborhood is one of those ticky-tacky type neighborhoods that were built in the 1950s and 60s. The folks that have been here since the beginning (and are dying now, alas) remember cows grazing across North Maple. Our homes have modest footprints, typically built with three small bedrooms and one bathroom. Additions have happened over the years and run the gamut. There is a woods behind my house. A small woods, but still. And the photooo below is what you see when you look down my street on a rainy August afternoon. You can *almost* forget how many houses are packed together on this street.

Of course, when you have that many trees around, sometimes they fall down. On your house. And car. Twice, friends. Not today. Yet. I did hear a HUGE boom of thunder coming from (I think) the woods behind the house.

Anyway, we walked down to the farmer’s market *early* this morning. We bought a bunch of stuff including a couple of eggplants.

And some of us acted like tourists. Even though I have lived in this city since 1979 and we have owned the Landfill since 1984 and it has been paid off since something like 1997. Maybe we are aiming low here. Whatever…

We were walking home from the farmer’s market and we saw this fungus from all the way across the street. We could put candles on this thing…

As we were trudging back up the long incline toward the far west side of the Planet Ann Arbor, the sun climbed high enough in the sky to make it hot and ugly and moe-skee-toe-ey. I did laundry and chitchen type chores all day and reminisced with facebook type people about our junior high teachers. The GG went over to get more slag.

Storms rolled through in the afternoon and, at one point, thunder and lightning hit simultaneously in the vicinity of the woods. I have not been back there to check if anything got hit. RegenAxe and NpJane came for dinner and I couldn’t repeat all of our conversations if I tried but it was fun and we solved all the problems of the world. I think.

The star Vega is overhead but you can’t quite see the ring nebula.

Linear models with R

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Yesterday, the Marquis wrote about the days when we did not have telephones or even addresses at the moominbeach. And it’s true. When I was a kid, my uncle Don, who was a doc in Sault Ste. Siberia, was among the few in the area who had a phone. It was on a party line but I’m guessing that the operator could break in to whoever was yakking away on it if there was a need for his services in town. There was a loud bell installed on the exterior of his cabin and I remember when it would ring in the middle of the night and, in very short order, his T-Bird would start up and off he would go. It’s sometimes so hard to believe that he and so many others of his generation are gone…

Anyway, as a teenager or 20-something, it could be annoying not to have a phone but it could also be handy if you were trying to avoid someone. One summer I went on a date with a guy that I had absolutely no interest in forming any kind of relationship with. It was a rather horrible period in my life when I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do for a living and I kind of wanted a boyfriend but I was forever getting hit on by boys that totally creeped me out. I don’t mean that they were serial killers. Just that I wasn’t interested in anything about them and they didn’t seem to have even a rudimentary clue about what I was all about and I sensed that they wouldn’t understand me. *I* don’t even always understand me!

So, in a weak moment I said, “Okay, I’ll go out to dinner with you.” I drove. That was safer for me. I forget who paid. We went back to his room in a co-op for tea (yeah). His mama called from the east coast. After about 15 minutes of that, I told him I was leaving (ladies, always take your own vee-hickle). He broke off his phone call for an awkward parting. When could we meet again? Well, I am going north. How could he get hold of me there. Uh, I do not have a phone or address up there. Phone? True. Address? I could’ve given him my parents’ but I lied. I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Yes, I should’ve just told him straight out to get lost. Me? Socially awkward.

Epilogue? I never saw him again. But. Wouldn’t you know, he did not go back to the east coast to be with his mama. He stayed on the Planet Ann Arbor, got married to someone not-me and raised some kids. And wouldn’t you know, those kids were in Commie High at the same time that Mouse was. Somebody was raving about the family once. Did I know TWG and his kids? My creepy little systems analyst type brain spent a few split seconds putting two and two together and I started backing up. Beep beep beep. Nope. Don’t know him. Nothing to see here. Seeya in the next episode.

These days? Sheesh. I can’t imagine being without my phone. It’s tethered to me wherever I go. That said, it is *my* phone. It isn’t listed in the phone book and I give out the number only to people I actually need or want to hear from telephonically. Anyone I can train to use email or text message, I do. The Commander used to complain that one of the Engineer’s friends used the telephone like a weapon. I now know what she meant.

P.S. Worked 8 hours, walked 9 miles. If there are any damn typos or unintelligible sentences or whatever in here, deal with it. Maybe I’ll even fix them tomorrow 😉

Yaknow that village they’re always trying to shove down our throats…

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

I grew up in one of those villages that “they” are always trying to shove down our throats.

I did grow up in a small town and there was a certain amount of village-ness going on there but what I am really thinking of is being a kid at the Moominbeach. When we were at the moominbeach for the summer, we didn’t knock on other people’s doors. We just barged in. We were looking for a cuzzint or maybe one of the McNott crew. We weren’t rude at all. That was just the beach custom. A mom and/or grandma was usually there keeping house or whatever, dressed for casual company and ready to deal with whatever kid came in the door. Us kids were polite when talking to that mom and/or grandma. Our parents/grandparents all knew each other and they taught us to be respectful of adults. And so we may have banged in the door without knocking but, once we were in, we darn well were polite!

In the Fin family, the custom was to address the aunts and uncles by their first names: Don & Katie, Jack & Fran, Betty & Duke, Bubs & Harry. There was no “Aunt Fran” or whatever. I’m not saying that it’s bad for anyone to want to be titled with “Aunt” or “Uncle” or whatever. If the title fits, wear it. But I don’t need a title. I am Anne or Kayak Woman. I prefer Kayak Woman…

And so… The Moomincabin aka VGLLC has not been occupied for much of the summer. It is locked but trusted people have a key. If you are a relative and I have told you who has a key, you have my permission to access our cabin. Anyone else? Beware of the bare bear. That is all.

Love y’all,

Read at your own risk

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

<grump-n-growl>I need an apparation app. Floo powder will not do. I think floo powder might land me in an oubliette somewhere in 14th century Scotland. Or maybe with one arm in SanFran and the other in Fla. Anyway. I was sitting here in the Landfill Chichen this morning doing my usual little round of morning internet chores. You know. Checking deleting spam email. Checking twitter and facebook and Google reader. Deleting more spam email. Logging on to my bank accounts.

It was time to go to work. I did not wanna move. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to work. I wanted to be at work, in my loverly dog-poopy cube. I did not want to drive there. I wanted to be able to touch a series of buttons on my iPhone, enter a secret code and (ka-bam!) be at work. I don’t normally mind my wee little 8-mile commute. I thought for a bit… Is my Celtic Sixth Sense kicking in? Do I not want to drive to work because something is gonna happen on the way to work? My Celtic Sixth Sense is not all that reliable except in hindsight, so eventually I dragged myself out to the Ninja and drove to work. And it was okay. The worst thing was the big oil tanker screaming along in the right lane on my entrance to the I94 18-wheel Clogway. It’s the eastbound entrance at Jackson, if you’re familiar with Planet A2 geography. The entrance ramp is a 20-mph hairpin with almost no visibility. I do it [almost] every day and I’ve seen it all. Having only *one* big ugly semi screaming along in the right lane while I’m trying to merge is a *good* thing.

Man, am I grumpy this week. I dunno exactly why. Nothing truly horrible has happened (knock on wood BIG TIME)! In truth, there have been some good times. But a series of of minor but annoying little incidents have been adding up. I think maybe I got to the absolute end last night when I went back into the Chitchen to clean up the rest of the dishes. With more wild abandon than I should’ve employed, I flung one of the GG’s fav-o-rite glasses into the dish drainer (no working dishwasher here). Except I missed! And it careened onto the floor and, being the kind of glass it is, shattered into billions of little bitsy pieces of glass. The kind that can get into your thumb (or wherever) and stay there for years. The GG yelled, “Don’t move!” [Because I was barefoot. I do not wear shoes in my house.] He cleaned it up the best he could with a broom and dustpan and then, when I was calm again (because I was not really calm when it happened), I ran Rooooomba. My poor little Rooooomba went back and forth over that floor until she ran out of battery. She did do the job though. No glass.

I need a vacation from my life but I will not get one any time soon because I do not have any significant amount of vacation time left. I need just an iota or two or three of good times and definitely some kind of good news. I do not know what that means. All I know is that this week has been a blasted bust so far.</grump-n-growl>

Actually, I was better by the time I wrote this. Catch a wave…

A cage for a mynah bird

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

So, you are a Michigan gal and you go off to college at a small, private, liberal arts college in Michigan, and then, on the day before your college graduation, you shock the heck out of your baggy old moom by announcing that you have a job in San Francisco. Actually, it wasn’t that much of a shock. The beach urchin had dropped little bits and pieces of hints here and there. She definitely left me outta the larger loop, knowing that I would fret and worry and maybe even try to give her unnecessary (and unwanted) advice. On the one hand, it was harder than heck to not know what was going on. I mean, I was the one who spent her infancy checking to make sure she was still breathing. On the other hand, in a way, I didn’t really want to know and that was a reasonable position, given that, aside from things like breaking into the house via the Blue and Only Bathroom window once (or was it twice?) while we were out of town and she locked herself out, the kid never gave us a smidgeon of trouble. If she was ever out having a better time than we knew about, well, we never knew about it. She didn’t want my advice about finding a job and that’s okay. I do not have good advice about finding a job. My jobs have always been the result of falling down a rabbit hole.

But this post isn’t about my stellar child-rearing skills. It is about stuff. You know, the flotsam and jetsam and cosmic debris that gets collected throughout all those years you raise children. Especially if you live in the same blasted house for 27 years.

Anyway. Imagine if you are a young 20-something and you are living out in SF and you are traveling home to see your baggy old parents little sister and your cool cousins and friends and your ultra cool nonamoose for a little bit of a summer vacation. Your baggy old parents are off rattling around in the Great Not-So-White North when you are scheduled to arrive, so some of those ultra cool friends pick you up at Daytwa Metro and drop you off at your house. Your once cool (but small) bedroom has now been taken over by your grumpy old coot, who is using it for an office and mail / cosmic debris depository. You climb up into the top bunk and there is: 1) A Nesco oven, 2) a large carved wooden fish, and 3) uh, we’ll just call this item an implement of too much fun because it is not a particularly politically correct item in some circles. Hint: think 2nd amendment. Oh yeah, and some stuffed aminals. What do you do? Well, of course you text your friends out on the left coast. Because this is the goofy house that you grew up in and this is the kind of crazy thing your baggy old parents do. And yer baggy old moom laughs when you tell her that because, well, just because…

Actually, I have been told that some of the cool kids actually think that the Landfill is a cool house. I can’t figger it. At the moment, it is a junk-filled, rodent-infested nightmare. I have made almost no progress in the de-hoarding area in the last six months or so. I actually gave up on the chitchen remodel late last fall. I just didn’t have time to deal with it. I guess we’ll do it someday. Maybe I really am over-thinking it…

Today? Some progress. Not by me. But I was told I could take a peek into a certain area of the Landfill and I did and I was definitely impressed. Thank you!

Oversized load

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I dunno what it is exactly. I am relatively impervious to moe-skee-toes but sometimes just their general presence will make me itch like crazy. Today, I was standing next to our handy-dandy Planet Ann Arbor Reeeecycle cart opening mail and a few wee little moe-skee-toes were buzzing my shoulders. No gallinippers in my yard. Yet. I did not get even one bite but somehow, my ankles were reverberating with ITCH!!!

The itch did not subside until I walked over to the Plum Market and back, *washed* my feet and ankles and rubbed some anti-itch cream on them. Which I usually try to avoid.

The Commander had a lot to say today and one of the highlights was that she had a new *purple* shirt. Dogmomster was up there over the weekend and she and The Comm went shopping and that’s what they came up with. I think The Comm likes the shirt but is a bit dumbfounded that she owns something *purple*. I think it is a wonderful color for her! I wonder if she remembers the periwinkle blouse with all the fancy tucks in it that got the “wrinkles” the time I had scarlet fever and hallucinated. Periwinkle is not all that far away from purple.

I have been [mostly] cryptic about the fact that my mother (aka The Commander) has moved to an assisted living facility this summer. She is 90 (!) and, up until April 10th, 2011, she was able to live in her own very lovely home. A small stroke made that situation a huge challenge.

So, she is now living in the Freighter View assisted living facility. It is a gorgeous facility and she has a beautiful room with window views to the west and north. She is right across the street from the Soo Locks and is able to watch lake freighters go up and down up close and personal. And she has friends there, among the staff and residents.

Still I feel guilty. “Leaving your mother in that place,” as one friend calls it. And her mom is in a beautiful facility too. I live five hours away from The Comm. I am not there to drive her to and from appointments and social activities or to her house to sort stuff out. But quitting my career, which keeps me sane, not to mention that it will give me my social security quarters, is not a good option for anyone in any living generation of my family.

The Comm reads this blahg and she also knows how I feel about all of this. She is an ultra-smart woman and the stroke didn’t really affect her brain or speech or whatever. I’m just saying here that I wish I could get up there more often than I can. Winter will undoubtedly be hard.

I am doing my best to adjust to this new reality. I think The Comm is doing better at adjusting than I am.

Back on the planet of gallinippers, rabid bats, and political correctness at all costs

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

It was a loverly but rainy weekend at the Group Home at Houghton Lake but I would’ve preferred to have our crash landing back here on the Planet Ann Arbor occur about an hour earlier than it did. Getting home between five and 5:30 is just about perfect. Too late to get too involved in any major chores around here but early enough to get over to the Plum Market to get grokkeries for dinner.

As it happened today, we didn’t get home until after six and then I didn’t get back from the Plum until almost seven and *then* I couldn’t get my laptop to go on the internet. And that was because we all kept getting knocked off the internet up at the Group Home and *that* was because the “switch” assigns addresses dynamically and that would be okay except that back when we first had broadband internet at the Group Home, there might’ve been 2-3 computers online at one time at best but now there are more like 12 or 15 or 20 with all of the laptops, phones, and tablets and things. *I* had three of those all by myself this weekend and I’m not exactly sure how many devices the GG travels with. He grabs up just about any old MacBook type thing that we all shed and repurposes it. And so, with all those devices, the switch gets confused. It’s hard to believe that the ISPs who provide broadband wifi once thought they could get people to pay for service for EACH device. That obviously didn’t work. Anyway, the GG changed the network settings on my laptop this morning so it wouldn’t be constantly knocked off internet at Houghton Lake. And that made it impossible for me to get on the internet at home tonight. He fixed that too.

And then I was getting around to making a ‘hattan and I discovered that I had three (THREE, count ’em) bottles of dry vermouth but NO bottles of sweet vermouth. I discovered that *after* I had gone to the store. What a tragedy. The GG saved the day.

And it smells like garbage near the Landfill Chitchen sink… Even though that’s not where I keep the garbage…

Are we having fun yet?

I am making light of the gallinippers but not the rabid bats. The gallinippers are harmless — they don’t even carry West Nile Virus or Equine Encephalitis, or so they say. Rabid bats are a bit scarier. So far, two have been found in Washtenaw County this year. That’s about average. If I do run into a bat in my house, I hope it is flapping around in the toilet, like the one Radical Betty encountered once when she got up to use the bathroom at that batscope hour of the morning (hee hee, snort snort, get it?). Political correctness? I’m too taarrrred to think about that tonight.

Photo credit to @mouseleen. I think I actually *know* the chalk artist (under a different name) in real life…

If bad luck comes in threes, I’ll take these three aka Boatventure

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

It is raining here in the Great Lake State today. It has rained on and off all day just about everywhere in the state as near as I can figger. Well, at least it has here at Houghton Lake. I do hope our intrepid cyclist adventurers are dry today. I’m sure that they’ll report in sooner or later. We are here at Houghton Lake. It was boring for quite a bit of the day but then… Well… We hitched up the Green Boat to the Mean Green Frog Hopping Musheen, as you can see here. And you can also see the not raccoon proof garbage container here.

Y’know. If whenever I am in a situation where there is a vee-hickle or boat or trailer failure, I am always calm when one or two or three of the Courtois boyz are there to figger things out. The Twinz of Terror, their brother Jim, and the Lord of Linden is no slouch either, although he wasn’t there today.

We got thru that little incident relatively unscathed and towed the green boat without any further problems. The mission was to put the Green Boat into Houghton Lake.

The boat engine sounded good at first but it petered out not too far from shore. That was okay (I thought but others may have disagreed). A storm was rolling in… I wonder if the jet-skiers who set off as the Green Boat was returning had a good trip…

We eventually got back to the Group Home and the Twinz of Terror were plotting and planning about their upcoming trip to Montana…

And then, the power went out… but it was okay because we grilled everything…

And them the power came back on.

Propane, Bait, & Liqwire

Friday, August 12th, 2011

I yam at the Group Home at Houghton Lake and those are the kinds of things you can get down at the corner store. You can get pizza too and that’s what we’re having tonight. Which is good because the alternative was the North Shore Bar and the North Shore Bar is fine but I didn’t want to go there tonight ’cause it took me almost the whole trip up here to chillax (ducking to avoid a certain beach urchin’s blows) and I wasn’t even driving this time and all I wanted to do was get to the Group Home. I was in over-stimulation mode. Sensory integration issues, anyone? I got sick of listening to people on NPR analyze the damn stock market to death. People? It goes up and it goes down. That is all. Don’t getcher underware in a bunch. So we switched to that newfangled satty-light radio and I didn’t like what was on that either, so the GG switched to his iTunes and that was marginally better except that Bob Dylan’s nasally old voice felt like somebody crawling their fingernails down a chalkboard. And do not get me wrong, I love old Bob but my hearing has got to be about five times more acute than the GG’s and I just could not take the volume, which I *know* was not really all that loud. And then there was that Puma camper that insisted on traveling slowly in the left lane on the non-freeway stretch north of Lansing that everybody but the GG was passing on the right and I hate when people pass on the right but this time it probably wouldda been the right thing to do. Oh, and we were north of *Lansing* because I checked my phone before we left and it looked like the I75 SUV Speedway was one big parking lot. No thank you.

But now we are here — finally — and we are with the Uncly Uncle and The Beautiful Gay and Jim and The Beautiful Chelsea and a couple of dogs and hopefully not any bats because they have found a couple of rabid bats on the Planet Ann Arbor. (Sorry, didn’t mean to freak anybody out ;-)) I have not seen a gallinipper yet but I haven’t really been outside. I’m sure they are around. At least when I yam at the Group Home at Houghton Lake, there is nobody around to remind me of all the stoopid stuff I did in my misspent youth and that’s a good thing ’cause, yaknow, I really do not wanna remember most o’ that stuff. I was who I was, and life was often difficult for me, growing up in a small northern outpost where there were all these pesky social rules that my rather larger-than-life personality could not figger out how to fit into. Nobody around here knew me before I was in my middle 20s and by that time, well, I may still have been a little wild but I *was* capable of holding down a responsible full-time job and all that stuff. I am blocking all that other stuff as hard as I can. Except when *I* feel like talking about it.

I gotta go now. You are happy about that. We have a finicky “switch” up here at the Group Home and we keep intermittently losing them thar tubes, which is a dern pain in the you know what ’cause some of us cannot live without having access to them thar tubes every single second of the day, don’tcha know. So the GG has schlepped up a new “switch” and he wants to try to swap the old one out and so I have to finish this up so I can be offline for a while if I need to be. That is, except for the Edge network…