Archive for September, 2011

Bah-tender, ah’ll have a manhattan!

Friday, September 30th, 2011

It was a day of cold wind and somewhat scattered rain showers, so I looked at the weather on my phone in the late morning to try and figure out if it would be possible to take a walk at lunch today since I managed to forget my umbrella this morning. (Note to self: Take an umbrella into work and put it in the drawer with your bizcaz shoes.) It wasn’t raining at the moment and the radar thingy didn’t show much rain coming in but what were those areas of light pink up there by Saginaw? Ice? I’m sure the roads were not slippery but it’s a-coming’. I walked out the door and it started spitting rain at me. By the time I got to the end of the parking lot, it was coming down hard enough that I wimped out and high-tailed it back to the safety and comfort of our warm dry building.

I was more prepared for the weather this afternoon. I got home from work, changed into a silk/wool turtleneck, cotton scarf, polartech jacket, leggings, smart wool socks, and glubs. Threw an umbrella into my backpack and I was off. Downtown. Bah-tender, ah’ll have a manhattan. Two of those and dinner and I was totally done in. So, here’s a loverly shot of the Liberty/Main intersection and I am done. Good night. Seeya in the next episode.

Can I just say…

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I am “on” Twitter. It’s a bit hard for me to describe my approach to Twitter and what I “tweet” there. Almost always it really *is* “what’s happening”. Some tweets are more cryptic than others. I love when the Long Suffering Cat Herding Person actually *looks* at Twitter and wonders what the heck I was talking about. Like the burning chicken tweet. “What were you doing last night?” In the beginning, Twitter was where I kept up with family “from a distance”. I knew my 20-something kids were okay and doing well without actually having to have awkward conversations with them. I still do that but Twitter has gotten rather quiet on the family front. I *have* discovered that it is a fantastic way to follow news and current events. I think it works even better for me than an old-fashioned paper newspaper and I have frequently kvetched about the demise of our own Planet Ann Arbor Snooze, so I guess I have moved on.

And then there is Facebook. I reluctantly joined facebook a couple of years ago ONLY because an A-squared friend was in the hospital and her family was updating via facebook. She was my first friend. I am now friends with just about everybody in my family (Fin, MacMu, Courtois), a couple members of the McNott clan, a bunch of Soo High 1972-ers (or thereabouts), a few A-squared friends, and some in a few other small categories (you know who you are). I try to post *real* updates on FB. Sometimes just what I’m doing, often to let family members know where I am, etc. I do not use apps on facebook and if I ever start posting political rants on there, you will know I am well into Alzheimer’s Disease! But, if I do, please don’t unfriend me because I have yet to unfriend someone because of their political opinions.

LinkedIn? I don’t quite get it. I know it is supposed to be a “professional” networking site. But what? I guess it is supposed to be a way to network to find job opportunities? But I’m not sure that would ever work for me. I am not a schmoozer. My method for finding a job is to fall backwards into one. (Note that I DO NOT recommend that method.) But I do not schmooze (unless there is booze). I do not schmooze at parties or coffee shops or even at my own work. And I do not schmooze (exactly) on the internet. Er, well, I sometimes schmooze at coffee shops but that’s usually with people who are blowing snot-rockets out of their nose or whatever. Sorry about the visual.

A few years ago I was at an internet usability conference and I was in a session run by a company in town that is known for their innovative approach to software development. It was a great session but I had to speak out at one point. They were talking about who would use what social network and the presenter actually made a blanket statement that 24-year-olds would be using LinkedIn because they would be looking for jobs. I challenged that and *then* I texted my own then 24-year-old: Are you on Linked In? Answer (30 seconds later): No. I reported that response and it threw the [wonderful] presenter off just a bit and I have ever since I have regretted that. I had no intention to be a rabble-rouser. I just didn’t think that you could stereo-type who uses what social network. And I still don’t. I think we all use them differently.

Google+? Not sure about that one yet…

News from the north

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The news from the north is reported by none other than The Commander, who had a fight with a “big bug” today. It was at least an inch long and had “fuzzies” and some other stuff that I can’t quite remember. She was unable to catch it and now she can’t find it and hopes that she won’t end up sleeping with it!

The Comm is not generally afraid of insects and other creepy-crawlies. Except for spiders. She does not like spiders but, over the last 87 years or so, she has developed a pretty good method for dispatching any spiders that get in her way. She grabs a paper towel and kind of snatches up the poor little spidey with the paper towel and flings the whole mess into the garbage. I have my own weird little insect phobia but I am not particularly freaked out by spiders. I regularly share my shower with spiders. Of course I have also had the pleasure of sharing my shower with frogs back when we still had the moldy old cabin at Houghton Lake.

Nevertheless, there are times when I have used The Comm’s spider eradication technique. Usually just when the dern thing is in my way. Or somebody else’s way. Like once, the summer before Elizilla’s college sophomore year, when she arrived home from wherever a few hours before I get up in the morning to find a spider in her room. “Moom, can you get this spider outta here?” I think that spider was harmless but it was ugly enough that I grabbed a paper towel and did the dirty deed. I guess I learned *something* from my mother.

In general, I am happy and relieved that The Comm is chasing big bugs and walking around outside et al. She has not been feeling very well for a few days. It seems that a garden variety cold has gotten her down and it’s the second one since late August. So she is battling both the insect kind of bug and the respiratory virus kind of bug. But she seems to be conquering at least the respiratory virus (with the help of the wonderful FV staff). You go Moom!


Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

I turned on facebook chat last night after a long hiatus. My California kid (no, she is not a “kid”, but she is *my* kid) was futzing around with facebook chat and she was trying to connect with the GG but he is sort of a facebook pooh-pooher and he wasn’t responding. So, all of a sudden, some sort of app apparated in front of my browser and I grabbed onto it and suddenly I was facebook chatting with my lovely child in Cali.

I remember back in the Pleistocene (aka, the 1960s) when there first started to be talk of a phone that would allow people to see each other while they were talking. Once during that era, a friend called me up and told me she could see me over the phone. She had a see-a-phone. Say what? She was rich. Her mom had died when she was born and her dad doted on her. I wasn’t terribly gullible but, who knew? Did she really have a see-a-phone? My grandparents were among the first to get color RV TV (er, in Sault Ste. Siberia, definitely not on the Planet Earth) but I didn’t think my family would have a see-a-phone any time in the in the foreseeable future. But maybe her dad had managed to wangle one from someone (an alien, perhaps)? But then, how could she see *me* since I was talking on my parents’ crappy old fashioned black dial tellyphone. Well, of *course* she didn’t have a see-a-phone. That technology didn’t happen for all of us in the masses until my own children were young adults.

Today? I walked with one of those adult children over to the Plum Market to buy grokkeries. She brought laundry over here and ate bbq chicken with us for dinner. And now she and Lairi the Rake are wandering around their old childhood neighborhood (and maybe over to Knight’s Pub) in the dark. Mouse and Lairi have been friends since about kindergarten and, after attending different high schools, they were college roommates sophomore year at Kalamazoo. I hope they have fun and don’t run into any of my fav-o-rite skunk friends.

Gooooood niiiiiight!

Cutting the cheese

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The story of our trip to Houghton Lake last weekend is that the weather was unexpectedly gorgeous and I went on boat rides that didn’t involve my own muscles pushing a double-ended paddle through the water and I even drove a gargantuan pontoon boat for a while. I actually think that the Uncly Uncle sets me up behind the wheel of that big boy just because it makes for funny photooo ops. And that’s okay with me. Actually, one of those is my latest facebook profile photooo. As long as he takes over when we have to maneuver in tight spaces. Like when there are duck blinds within a mile of us. Whatever. It was a beautiful weekend and I had a wonderful time and I wish all weekends could be like last weekend.

Another little story thread that I have been alluding to is cheese. I made enchiladas Saturday night. To put my enchiladas together, I needed a cheese grater. To grate the cheese, don’tcha know. I could *not* find a cheese grater at the Houghton Lake Crazy House Group Home to save my life. I have been hanging around at HL for 30 years and I could swear that there was a cheese grater in the moldy old sinking-into-the-ground cabin. I could *not* find a cheese grater this weekend.

A chorus of suggestions bubbled up! Did you look in all the drawers? Yes. Did you look in all the cupboards? Yes. What about the moldy old shed? You know, the shed where we shoved everything that didn’t fit into the loverly new cabin when we built it. No dice. Old glubs. A broken chair that somehow made its way to the Planet Ann Arbor. Boxes labeled “kitchen stuff” and filled with random collections of cups of various sorts. No cheese grater.

I said, “it’s okay, I’ll cut the cheese.” I meant with a knife. Gales of laughter. Do you know what “cutting the cheese” means? Well, yeah, sorta. At least I think I do. And yes, I did. There was quite a bit of testosterone around when I was growing up.

The problem-solving shifted a bit to who was at KMart or going to KMart and could they pick up a cheese grater. I did not want *anyone* to make a special trip around Houghton Lake (27 mile circumference) to pick up a blasted cheese grater when I could just, uh, cut the cheese, uh, with a knife… Nevertheless, when we took the “green boat” out of the water at the boat launch, which is conveniently (or not) near KMart, I had to talk people down off the ledge. “Do you want to go to KMart to get a cheese grater?” “Are you *sure* you don’t want to go to KMart to get a cheese grater?” This became a *joke* by the end of the day but NO NO NO NO!!! It is a GORGEOUS day and the last thing I want to do is spend any nano-second of it in KMart and I don’t want anyone else to have to do that either! Let’s go back to the cabin and get the trenormous pontoon boat out in the lake for a ride! And I will cut the blasted cheese with a blasted knife! (Not to dis KMart. If it had been a cold, drippy, crappy day, I would’ve probably been happy to make a foray into KMart to get a cheese grater.)

We did not get a cheese grater last weekend and I cut the cheese (with a serrated knife) and was totally happy! We have one now. I bet that when I take this cheese grater to Houghton Lake five old cheese graters will resurface.

Good night,

Nope, no cheese grater in here. A whole box full of old glubs though…

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

You know it’s fall when you return from your 0-skunk-30 walk at Houghton Lake to this.

And then I turned around. Despite a few chainsaw massacres that I can remember, our lot is pretty shady and it’s hard to get a photooo that shows the Group Home in good light. This isn’t the best but it’ll make Chloe Belle happy. The W’s red cabin is the one in the background.

We took that trenormous pontoon boat that the Sea Hag (aka KW) was driving yesterday over to the boat launch today. Well, the Twinz of Terror drove it over there, I just drove the Frog Hopper to pick them up. We had an appointment with a boat storage pro with a pickup truck and trailer et al, who will dry out the boat and store it indoors all winter. No shrink-wrap here. P.S., we drove the green boat over to the same boat launch yesterday.

We did not find a cheese grater but we found a whole lot of other moldy old goodies that can never be thrown away… Kidding, you guys…

The Twinz of Terror held a last minute ceegar powwow by the lake before the spacebus lifted off back to the Planet Ann Arbor.

In which no one wastes any time buying a cheese grater at KMart

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

We expected rain today (I think) and the morning certainly did not start out very auspiciously. The skies were gray and the temperatures were in the upper 50s or thereabouts. When I started out on my 0-skunk-30 walk, it was pitch black. For some reason, I was a little spooked about bears. There are bears around here but they are rarely seen. What was that!!! A snort! No, it was not a bear. A deer family white-tailed it across the road and into the swamp about 50 yards down the road from me.

It was just about the greenest summer I can remember here in the Great Lake State. By the calendar it is fall now and here is some evidence, although most of the trees in the Houghton Lake area are still green.

I took the red tree photooo at the Reedsburg Dam and it was still pretty gloomy then but then…

We somehow lucked into a wondrous beauteous late-September day. The Uncly Uncle drove The Beautiful Gay and yer fav-o-rite blahgger across the lake in the “green boat” (not to be mistaken with the Green Boat) and we encountered this loverly, seagull poopy boat just before we got to the boat launch facility.

Yes, that is yer fav-o-rite blahgger piloting a trenormous pontoon boat. She did not hit anyone or (ahem) run aground. Actually, she had to be coaxed into even going as fast as 15 mph.

The folks on the front deck of the pontoon boat silhouetted against more sky candy.

When you grow up in the Great Lake State, you grow up “messing about in boats” (via Ratty in Wind in the Willows). Or sleeping in the back of the boat while your parents take a wee little cocktail cruise along the shore. (And yes, this is from the Jurassic Age.)

And here is a view of the past (and future) on the largest inland lake in the Great Lake State. Last March, the Twinz of Terror and yer fav-o-rite blahgger walked across the lake and here are the Twinz investigating an ice fishing operation out there somewhere. We will do this again. And we’ll be saying something like, “remember that last boat ride when it was so gorgeous out on the lake and KW did *not* crash the boat or (ahem) go aground”.

Good night. Sleep tight. I do not have any space junk in my yard and I hope you don’t either.

Road Warrior

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Can I just say that the traffic sucked tonight? I left my loverly, dog-poopy cube *early* today so we could get onto the I75 SUV Speedway *early* so we could maybe, yaknow, avoid some o’ the northbound Friday night traffic? Roight. Took us a whole extra hour to get up here to the Houghton Lake Crazy House Group Home. At one point, the GG was talking to The Beautiful Kathy on his tellyphone and it turned out she was one or two miles ahead of us. At that point, we were all in a monster traffic slowdown and so we dumped off the I75 SUV Speedway and took a little two-lane road called oh something like Mackinaw 10 miles or so north. When we cut back over to the freeway at Pinconning, it was *still* majorly slowed down but we sucked it up and merged on anyway and [thank you god or who/whatever] after about three more miles, we were sailing!

Arrived here (hello!) to a dead refrigimatator. It’s okay, there’s another one in the garage. We’ll manage.

I am sorry. I am toadily roto right now. We have only spent *one* weekend at HL since the New Reality set in and it is supposed to rain all weekend but I don’t even care. Take care this weekend and do not get hit by any falling space junk.

P. S. I need an apparation app!

[Petty little first-world] things that annoyed me today

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

I picked my way slowly down the middle of my street at 0-skunk-30 this morning, warily watching for a white stripe in the dark. I made it all the way to the schoolyard without an encounter, only to be accosted out of the blue (or black would be more like it) by a big friendly [dumb] golden retriever. Again. I do not dislike dogs. Actually, I *like* dogs. But. Your dog does not belong in my personal space unless I invite it there. I don’t care how friendly it is. Keep it under control!

We interrupt this list of petty grievances with a fun fact from W1.5: Skunks can be trapped with a special trap that does not have enough height to allow them to raise their tails, which they need to do to spray. He knows this because he once had a family of them living under his porch.

If I had a dime for every facebook post I’ve seen in the last couple days complaining about the most recent batch of facebook changes, I would be rich. I understand the frustration and I would NEVER un-friend someone for posting such a thing. It’s a free country with [arguably] free speech. But. 1) Facebook is free. 2) Facebook has *always* had a confusing interface — that hasn’t changed. 3) Facebook is a *social network*. Let’s pour our outrage into something real, like the state of our wondrous country’s economy, for example. 4) Facebook is free.

Uh, P. S. What *I* don’t like about the latest FB changes is that they are calling all of the posts “stories”. What?

To the woman in the pretty blue Prius who wanted me to let her into the neverending left turn lane at the Jackson/N. Maple intersection: This is the third light I’ve sat through. Go to the end of the line.

I fergit what else and you are happy about that! What are y’all doin’ this weekend?

Skunk Town

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

After Stargazer’s comment, I was thinking about teaching as a career (not for me, just in general). Who chooses it, when, and why? When I was in elementary school, I thought being a teacher would be the cat’s pajamas. But I was a kid then. It was the 1960s and I was fascinated with the teacher’s planning book and I thrived on correcting other student’s papers (which probably isn’t allowed any more). It would be heaven to have a room full of kids like me who thrived on doing mimeographed sheets of math problems or answering questions in reading workbooks.

It’s too long a story for tonight but I discovered in college that I did not really want to teach. I was a music major by then but that’s a whole ‘nother story — a long, boring one that I’d like to block until I am 90 or so… After college, I had the idea of working a day job and doing music at night, so I taught myself to type (if you can play the flute or the puano, you can type!) and somehow I fell into a computer career. I had no experience whatsoever but it was a good fit for me and I ran with it. And I didn’t really have the time or guzzinta to launch a music career on the side. I don’t really have any regrets about that.

Later, when I decided to quit that particular job, I remember The Commander saying something like, “Well, maybe now you will go back to school to be a teacher.” The Commander began teaching one afternoon a week when I was 10. She then went to school to get a teaching certificate and, with that, Mr. Dubow hired her as a full-time high school teacher. And then, she went on to get a masters degree. She became a popular teacher in my high school. For one thing, she created a child care class with real children coming to a space in the school. As I have traversed the hospital and assisted living landscape of my hometown during the last five months, I have run into more than a few people who fondly remember when they had my mom for a teacher.

Still, teaching isn’t for me. I can coach apt students, people who are interested in learning (like me). And I am best on a one-to-one basis. I do not know how I would deal with managing a whole classroom.

I do have the greatest respect for what teachers do. My mom would go to school at 0-skunk-30 and come home after work and grade papers far into the night. I think it is even harder nowadays with shrinking budgets and insane reporting requirements. And helicopter parents. I do not understand why Michigan’s governor is trying his darndest to squash the teachers’ union. I wonder if he knows any teachers or what the heck they do…

Speaking of skunks, somebody encountered a rabid one on my regular walking route.

Four years

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

It was a Tuesday four years ago too. Mouse was getting settled in with her host family in Senegal. I packed up a peanut butter sandwich, got on the freeway and headed over to the south side of town.

Without an employee’s badge, I had to steel myself to walk in the front door. Hello? No one was in the front office. There was a phone on the counter with instructions for visitors to call and have someone paged. I had two names. The Long Suffering Cat Herding Person and my Cube Neighbor. I don’t like phones, so I very nervously made the call. The LSCHP was not there yet. One never quite knows when the LSCHP will be there (or not) but I didn’t know that then. Cube Neighbor let me in.

I was a student intern then. I worked about 12 hours a week. At the end of the class associated with the internship, they hired me as a full-time full-tilt-boogie business systems analyst aaaaannnnnd heeeere IIIIIII aaaammmmm.

The truth is that before I got hired by the LSCHP, I didn’t think I would ever work again. I am horrendous at job interviews and I didn’t know where to start. What did I want to do? So many people seem to have that figured out or if they don’t, they can manage to wow people with all of the stuff that they know or can do. Me? I don’t know how to describe what I can do. What I know how to do is to learn how to do things. Pull little bits and pieces of information together or tear something apart to figure out how it works, what data goes where in what form and how to do it (hopefully) better (yeah, systems analyst). I also know how much there is that I DON’T know and that gets in the way sometimes.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not knowing what you want to do with your life although it sure can make it harder to make your way. Not having a plan set in stone allowed me to be comfortable with ratcheting back a bit to take care of my children. I could be home to read to them while they were eating breakfast. I could help out at their schools and girl scouts and the young actors guild, etc. And now I have somehow fallen into a career that didn’t exist (exactly) when I was young.

I am certainly not suggesting that everyone follow my particular career path. It hasn’t always been easy. We didn’t have tons of cash hanging around when the beach urchins were growing up and, although I love my work now, I wish I had more paid vacation time time off to deal with family responsibilities. If I had taken a straighter path, I would have tons of time off and probably a lot more money…

Anyway, I’ve been there four years. We’ve survived a devastating collapse of the U. S. economy and a merger and I have had promotions and raises. The LSCHP was not at work today but Cube Neighbor was. I spent the entire day trying to wrap my brain around a certain basic concept that I won’t even begin to try to describe. I am getting there and I am gonna hit up FZ tomorrow to make sure somebody hasn’t slipped some crack into my coffee.

Are we having fun yet?

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Well, I am having more fun than I was yesterday afternoon when I was struggling with a dysfunctional MacBook Pro trackpad. Or this noon when I was haaannnggging out at the Apple Store waiting for some young whippersnapper to swap it out for a new one. This is the THIRD trackpad for this loverly little laptop. The one I bought in June.

The first trackpad was dysfunctional right out of the box. The second one? Worked for quite a while. The deterioration was slow. It would be randomly unresponsive for a few minutes in the morning and then kind of straighten up and fly right. Was it the heat and humidity? Could be, but thees eez a laptop! They are supposed to be able to take a certain amount of abuse. Did it start after I upgraded to the Lion OS? I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t even remember exactly when I *installed* Lion. The whole situation deteriorated precipitously yesterday afternoon and I was starting to feel stressed out every time I checked my email or whatever.

And then. Dun dun dun. Software Update popped up. On a Sunday afternoon, for once. I was actually kind of overjoyed. Usually Software Update pops up just about when I’m ready to shut down and try not to break my neck as I scramble out the door. I was just hanging around de-hoarding the Landfill, so I started the update. I was even optimistic. Maybe it would fix my trackpad problem? Then, in the middle of the update, during the stage when my computer was shut down… Bbbbbrrrrraaaaaaapppppp! What the heck was that! It was infinitely worse than the old Deep Shit sound. At least I knew what the Deep Shit sound was. Miraculously, the laptop started back up normally. But that update did NOT fix the trackpad problem. Actually, it deteriorated precipitously AGAIN! Yes, Precipitously2. There was nothing left to do but make an appointment with the, uh, Genius Bar. I couldn’t even do that because I couldn’t navigate the Apple website!

And so, another new trackpad. I hope this is the last one. My Apple Store experience? Not too bad toady today. I did not get treated like some old hag. I was able to communicate that I know how to use a trackpad without resorting to saying things like, “I bought my first Apple computer before you were born” or “I used to use a DecWriter II terminal to write FORTRAN programs for a mainframe computer” or “a remote mainframe support guy once called my FORTRAN code ‘sexy'” (actually, I have no clue what that meant). I did mention that my history with trackpads began with the G4 12-inch screen powerbook AND that said powerbook is now repurposed serving up music at LongPointLLC or whatever. And, whenever I had to wait for anything, I sat there and read blahgs and Twitter and things on my iPhone. Yes, I can swish and swipe just like all the hipsters. I swish and swipe the iPhone and I swish and swipe the Blue and Only Toilet. Every day.

I could maybe make a song outta that, roight? Swishin’ ‘n’ swipin’ phones ‘n’ toilets. Dum de dum de dum…

Do the hipsters swish and swipe their Blue and Only Toilets? I am gonna guess some do and some don’t. Just like the rest of us…

Hmmm, maybe we are having fun…

190,142 Broadwing Hawks

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Today was our annual [more or less] junket down to Lake Erie Metropark (LEMP) for Hawkfest. (I wrote more about LEMP a few years ago.) My favorite time to be at LEMP is before the sun comes up and we made it there just in time for sunrise this morning.

Can I just say that I loooooove this polartech jacket? It fits me perfectly and the raspberry color is right square in my wheelhouse. I bought it at one of those camping outfitters downtown one Friday night. Moosejaw maybe? We had just eaten at the Old Town Barroooomm and I was taarrrred. The GG wanted to go into the camping outfitter. I did not. I grudgingly accompanied him. And bought this looooverly jacket. Funny, we haven’t been back there since. Since when? Since I told him how much I spent! It was worth it. I need to buy another one a few more.

Early morning light makes such interesting shadows.

Not the best photoooo but I had to include some lotus. There are huge fields of these at LEMP.

190,142 broadwing hawks flew south over LEMP yesterday along with a smattering of other raptors. Yes, people really do count them. Many of yesterday’s hawks were flying at 2000 feet or thereabouts. They are not individually counted. The folks who count are trained to “estimate” based on the density of birds in a “field” of view. Or something like that. I am not a birder, therefore I am less than knowledgeable about this but I am enough of a mathematician that I get the concept. Anyway, some boy scouts spotted the hawk in the photoooo below in a tree off in the distance. We got close up and after some wandering off in the “weeds”, i.e., this is some rarely seen species of hawk, the GG decided it was probably “just” a redtail. Gorgeous whatever it is.

We are on the border here… The island in the sunrise photoooo belongs to Cananananada.

So watch out for birders like this, with bulls-eyes on their hats…

De-hoarding episode 523.2343.67

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

There are mornings when it is hard to drag out of bed at 0-skunk-30 but I am always happy when I do because I LOVE morning! The earlier the better. We hiked down to the Farmer’s Market early enough today to get there just after it opened. I love when it isn’t crowded down there and that ONLY happens early in the morning (or in the dead of winter).

It was gorgeous this morning, overcast and cool enough for a polartech jacket and socks but not glubs or any other winter accessories. Coffee at Roo’s Roost to start out, ended up with onions, teeny zucchinis, Macintosh apples, two teeny acorn squashes, raspberries, a jar of sauerkraut for the GG, and some sort of multi-berry muffin for breakfast. The GG LOVES sauerkraut. His grandma O’Neil (spelling?) used to make it. I do not like sauerkraut. When I was a kid, The Commander (who is otherwise a very good cook) used to heat up that jarred stuff from the grocery store and it stunk up the whole house. No thank you. I cook lots of stuff but sauerkraut is not within my repertoire. This stuff apparently looks like what Grandma O’Neil made.

We got a refill on our coffee for the trudge back up the hill to the Landfill and I thought this photooo of the GG would be crappy but I like how it turned out and I think he should use it for his facebook profile pic. (And indeed, he is!)

The GG’s prodject was to move these l-o-o-o-verrrrrly bushes from the back yard to the front. These bushes were not new when we moved in here in 1984 but I guess they are in some sort of historical plant zone or something because we don’t seem to be able to get rid of them.

I found that bush photoooo coincidentally as I worked on *my* prodject today, which was to pick away at de-hoarding… I was working in the basement and I think Mouse took that photoooo sometime around 1995 or thereabouts. The GG intends to brick the area where the ugly bushes were (in front of him).

I actually made some progress on my long-term prodject today. I cleared both of these plastic shelving units mynah bird cages of toys and games from the 1990s. Some pitched, some saved for our next garbage sale (our last one was in the mid-1990s — I found photooos of that today too), and a few saved for posterity. But only a few. Dooya think if I put these loverly plastic shelving units mynah bird cages out by the street with a “FREE” sign on them somebody will pick them up?

It’s just beer tents and music…

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Actually, it was Oktoberfest and it was probably a lot of fun but I was hanging by a few frayed threads by the time we got to Washington and Ashley and it’s a two mile walk home from there. Not that long a walk unless you have already worked eight hours and walked seven miles. And untangled a telemarketing mess.

As we approached Haisley (only a quarter mile to go), we heard a loudspeaker and then a marching band. We wondered if it was a pep rally or something over by the Stadium (do they even do those?). And then realized that it was coming from the *other* direction. A football game at Skyline High? It’s a new world.

Finally, a relatively close encounter with the White Skunk. He (?) is a recognizable character these last few years, with a particularly wide stripe.

That is all. Good night.


Well, it snowed over there in that state next to us.

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Er, yeah. “That state next to us” is Commander-speak for Wisconsin. I can’t corroborate that it snowed in Wisconsin yesterday or whenever it was. All I know is that the ambient temperature here on the Planet took a dive this morning and there are frost warnings for tonight. Although I acclimated pretty well to living on the surface of the sun this summer, I am ready for this. Bring it on! Maybe it’ll get rid of the dern moe-skee-toes once and for all!

Actually, this is not unseasonable weather for the Great Lake State at all. I can remember putting on little knit KMart-type glubs to walk the beach urchins to school on cold September mornings. And I can can even dredge up a Labor Day weekend memory from the Jurassic Age. We always stayed at the moomincabin until Labor Day and we were down on the beach the Sunday before that year. Us kids were swimming despite the fact that there were scrappy little bits of snow in the air and all the adults were wearing their winter jackets. It’ll get warm again here before Old Man Winter arrives to stay. Or not.

And I am not at all poking fun at The Commander. Well maybe just a little bit but she reads this and she can take it. In truth, I am continually amazed at the stamina she has in the face of adversity. She has been through a lot in the last few months, including several moves, yet she is determined to keep up a positive attitude. I hope I can emulate that when I am 90, assuming I make it to that venerable age.

Moom, you go girl! Love, Kayak Woman


THIS is what I meant!

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Read this! The short version is that an American woman, wife, and mother and the two Indian men she was randomly assigned to sit next to were detained, questioned, and *strip-searched* in the grubbiest of holding cells after their flight landed at Detroit Metro on September 11, 2011. These people did not know each other before the flight and didn’t even talk to each other on the plane. The men visited the bathroom in succession and someone panicked about “suspicious activity” and, well, just read it. I cannot describe it.

This is a perfect example of what I was struggling to say in my September 11th post. I hadn’t planned on writing a September 11 post at all. I do not have a personal story about that date. I don’t know anyone who died in the attacks and, other than being terrified for a while, it did not touch me in a personal way. In the end, I wrote my post but only because I hate what our country has turned into in the 10 years since the original attacks.

I almost don’t have any words. Using the bathroom on a plane is suspicious behavior? And what about our civil rights here? Was this woman given an opportunity to call a lawyer (or even her husband)? No. She was handcuffed and taken to a holding cell, questioned and searched. And why a strip search? The plane had already landed. Why would she be a threat to anyone at that point? Some people (here at the Landfill) are saying that she didn’t exercise her civil rights by refusing to answer questions without the presence of a lawyer. Okay. I understand that. But I think that this woman was feeling intimidated and, if I were in that position, I would be TERRIFIED. I am a rule follower. In this case, the “police” were not following the rules. I would probably freak out and maybe even lash out and then things would escalate and I would cross some sort of line, resisting the poleese, maybe… I don’t even want to think about it.

We can’t keep doing this kind of stuff to our fellow citizens. If we really need the level of security screening of average American citizens that is currently in place, we need to make crystal clear rules and find a way to communicate those rules not only to our air travelers but to our so-called “security” police. We need to hire people who don’t freak out so easily and who don’t let power go to their heads. And I think that the airport police thugs and FBI agents involved in this particular charade should be reassigned to a job cleaning toilets. I am wondering how they sleep at night.

We need to take our country back!


Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Sorry, I am a little cranky today. Someone purporting to be from a utility company called The Commander and told her that her bill had not been paid since May. I scrambled. It could be true! I took over that responsibility in May or thereabouts and, in the muddle of switching from paper check to automatic payment [and working full-time and keeping my eye on four residential units scattered all over the Great Lake State], anything could’ve happened. Except that, when I went online to check out this particular utility, ALL of the bills (and there are three of them — count ’em) are PAID! ZERO BALANCE!

I’m not gonna go into the gory details. There is some kind of miscommunication going on somewhere and I’m just gonna wait until somebody contacts me. Whatever it is, it’ll get sorted out. [Note to KW: turn on your ringer.]

But I’m cranky and so, when a tweet came in from the local online snoozepaper that some numbskull had crashed a JAGWIRE into a light pole, my first reaction was something like, “three-martini lunch at Fraser’s Pub” or “teenage driver”? I mean, this happened at the Stadium/Packard intersection in the middle of the afternoon.

I am segueing off into the ether here but it reminded me of once when one of my beach urchins was a new driver and MMCB was lamenting about some wondrously wonderful kid who had crashed the brand new BMW (!) that his parents bought him when he got his driver’s license. He had a bunch of friends in his car with him. No one was injured, thank you god.

But. Who in the HECK has enough disposable income to buy their 16-year-old a damn BMW??!!? When the beach urchins reached the driving age, we had two vee-hickles. The Indefatigable (an approximately 10-year-old Jeep Wrangler) and the POC (my loverly old Plymouth Voyager SE. Island Teal with a tint of Lemon). We most certainly didn’t have anywhere near the cash to buy a BMW (!) for our kids, let alone ourselves. Jeep or POC. Take yer pick kids.

The Jeep was most often the choice, if I remember accurately. It was a “cool” vee-hickle with bird and aminal bones and Einstein buttons and old toilet paper rolls everywhere and a STICK SHIFT!!! There is a whole generation of kids who have grown up without learning how to drive an automotive vee-hickle with a manual transmission. My kids were an exception. They learned how to drive stick in The Indefatigable out on the old abandoned Raco airbase when they were, I dunno, eight or 10. It is a cool skill to have when you are a high school student these days and I’m sure that, even in this enlightened day and age, there have been more than a few, uh, males, who have done a double-take upon learning that my beautiful blonde daughters are competent at driving a standard transmission vee-hickle.

Where the heck was I????????

I don’t know anything about the Jagwire person but I hope they are okay. I hope Mouse wasn’t anywhere near that intersection when it happened (it is possibly on her way to work). What is it with all of these vehicular status symbols? We recently bought a new vee-hickle. It was time. We bought what we needed and, because we are BOTH working, we didn’t scrimp on stuff this time. Actually, it’s been a number of years since we have scrimped. We keep vee-hickles just about forever so we might as well buy the top-dollah version in the first place. But we bought the Frog Hopper this time, not a Jagwire.

Yeek! It has been a long day and we are gonna grill salmon and crash. Unless the utility-type person that thinks I haven’t paid The Comm’s bill since May calls. Or skunks invade the Landfill.

Sorry, I’m a little cranky today.

Good night,

P.S. I really do know how to spell JAGUAR. Why does everyone pronounce it “jag-wire” and not “jag-waaar”. I don’t get it.

Just when you thought it was safe to go outside…

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Okay, September 11 was 10 years ago. I have looonnnnggg ceased to be actively afraid of terrorist attacks. I am afraid of lightning, tornadoes, nutso drivers, a few species of lepidoptera (it’s a recognized phobia, google it), deep water, and my own shadow. Aaaannnddd….

Skunks!!! If you live in grizzly bear country, or poisonous snake country, or Ebola virus country, you are probably laughing at me. Skunks are so cute! Once we were hanging out in the Landfill Back Room on a hot July night and we heard an owl-like noise outside. The GG headed outside only to come slam-banging back in after about a nano-second. We never figgered out whether or not there was an owl but what *was* in the back yard was a mother skunk with a bunch of babies. I dunno how many. 10 or 12 maybe? A clump of skunks. They were traveling back and forth across our yard. It was one of the cutest things I have ever seen. I’m glad I was inside…

We seem to be having a banner year for skunks. There is one(?) skunk that hangs out on our block almost every morning at 0-skunk-30 when I take off for my walk. I peer out into my front yard before leaving. Any skunks? I wonder whether there’s a skunk ambling along on the other side of the Landfill Fleet of Vee-hickles. Once many years ago, I rather cavalierly opened the front door at 0-skunk-30. Yikes! A skunk was cruising across my front porch at that very moment. Close door quick!

Yesterday afternoon, before it was anywhere near twilight, the GG went outside to monkey around under the hood of the Mean Green Frog Hoppin’ Musheen. No, nothing is wrong with our loverly new vee-hickle, it was something to do with emissions testing. As he was standing there, a skunk went by on the other side of the car. I was yelling out the chitchen window that it was a really odd time for a skunk to be traveling (they are crepuscular aminals) when ANOTHER skunk walked right by his feet! Fortunately, he was not skunked. I probably would’ve been because I probably would’ve freaked out and scared the skunk.

It is dark for most of my morning walk these days. I love walking in the dark but I am back to walking in the middle of the street, scanning both sides for that stripe of white in the darkness. And dodging the damn Newspaper Jeep.

11:11 [9/]11/11

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Where was I 10 years ago? Who cares? If you must know, I was home, working on YAG stuff on my beloved strawberry iMac. I [uncharacteristically] did NOT have NPR on and was therefore blissfully unaware of the attack until the GG arrived home at a totally unexpected time.

In other words, I have pretty much the same memory as anyone who wasn’t personally affected by it — I saw it on TV. I have a much more interesting memory of JFK’s assassination. I was sitting in Mrs. Scott’s 4th grade classroom feeling like crap from a fever and sore throat and Patty McKerchie tipped her chair over (actually not all that unusual an event) and then we all got a couple days off school and it snowed and everybody was outside having a blast except me because I was home sick in bed.

I don’t want to belittle the horrific 911 tragedy. A lot of people died and if you lost a loved one on September 11 or in the one of the wars we are still waging in the middle east, you have my sincere condolences. We were all terrified in the aftermath. What would happen next? What were these terrorists capable of? Would they crash planes into large suspension bridges or, um, crowded football stadiums in fly-over states? Maybe they would set off nuclear bombs in several different cities at the same time. Or unleash the smallpox virus. None of that stuff happened but we did start two wars and ramp up a gargantuan security charade. Could we have handled it in a different way? I don’t know and I’m not immune to the sadness of the memories. I had NPR on most of today and I was greatly moved by the stories people told.

September 11 should be remembered. But so should the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina and the Oklahoma City bombing and the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Joplin Missouri tornadoes and the Columbine High shooting rampage and the Virginia Tech shooting rampage. And then there was the Bath School disaster, way back in 1927. Yes I know that some of those events were natural disasters and others were perpetrated by deranged people. I don’t see how we could possibly have predicted *any* of them with any accuracy. Stuff like this has been happening since the beginning of time and it will continue until the end. We need to do the best we can to predict and prepare for disasters but we need to understand and accept that there will be disasters that will catch us unprepared.

What annoys me the most is when people talk about how much more “united” we became after 911. Maybe for about five minutes? Now? Our economy is in a shambles, our government is in a perpetual deadlock, and we are involved in two protracted wars overseas. We can’t enter an airport or our own country without running the risk of being pushed around by a customs or TSA agent who has let the power bestowed upon him go to his head. If we are taking a stupid little cell-phone video of a tourist attraction, we can be questioned by a “security” person for suspicious behavior. We are making her nervous. Because we are *all* potential terrorists these days.

I think it’s fine to commemorate September 11 for what it was, a terrible tragedy that took the lives of a lot of people. But I want to get on with life. I don’t think we should abolish all security measures. I just think we need to ratchet things back a bit. Tone down the arrogance, the snide questions, the general harassment. Power should be used only when it needs to be. When that fragile octogenarian who has set off the damned alarm shakily states that it might be his pacemaker, he should be treated respectfully, not detained and harassed with nasty, sarcastic questions. Let’s look at each other as human beings and try to regain some semblance of a sense of humor about the whole thing. I am tired of being “protected” from myself. Let’s get over ourselves.

Today. I didn’t listen to NPR *all* day. I braved some of the squirreliest traffic I’ve encountered in a while to travel to Megalopolis to attend a niece’s baby shower. I cackled with sisters-in-law and nieces and in-laws of in-laws and defined “first cousin once removed” to a niece because that’s the relationship she will have with this yet-to-be-born babe, the next member of our new generation. We are moving on.

P.S. I didn’t know what to title this post. I had been thinking about something like “keep your jack-boots off me” but I used that word yesterday and anyway, it seemed a little over the top somehow. When I — randomly — opened this new post at exactly 11:11 AM this morning, I had my title. Not that I am attaching any significance to it. It’s just an interesting coincidence.