Archive for February, 2012

Walking down the escarpment one last time

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

It is very hard to “leave your mother in that place” as a friend of mine said to me last summer. And so it was. But from the moment that I realized that The Commander was not going to be able to live alone in her own very beloved home any more, I knew where I wanted her to move. Not that there hasn’t been any second guessing then or now. Lots of it. I wondered what people would think… Like, “Why doesn’t she move her mother to The Planet Ann Arbor?”

I don’t know if the last 10 months or so would have been easier with The Comm down here or not. In some ways yes, in some ways not. I do know one thing. She had an opinion! No way did she want to move down here! I actually think she had ideas about recovering enough to move back into her house (and drive…). I am glad that she was so feisty but, alas, I knew better.

Where to move (except home) was really her decision because she was of sound mind. I thought that Freighter View would be the best. Her wonderful friend Ginny was a resident. I mean they have been friends since The Comm arrived up in Siberia after World War II ended, which was well before I was born. Ginny’s youngest daughter was one of *my* best friends my entire childhood. And Radical Betty lived at Freighter View for eight months before she died. So The Comm was familiar with the place and she was also a familiar entity there. When I went over to put in an application for an apartment, the staff were all like, “Oh, Fran! Yes, we know her!”

And she did move into Freighter View. She got the best room in the house, in my opinion. I had high hopes. I knew it would be hard for someone with The Comm’s intellectual capacity and independence to adjust. But she was healthy and quite mobile at that time and I kind of expected her to live there a few years. Her considerable contingent of friends would visit her. We would come up and visit her. She could get up to her house to continue her long-term deacquisitioning project. She was *not* a hoarder and she did *not* want me to have to clean *anything* up.

Right off the bat, I knew that “we” had made a good decision. The uber-nurse who checked us in remembered my mom from when she took a class from The Comm in high school. And so did other people that worked there. They loved her! Mom would walk around outside of the building every day and religiously do all of the rehab exercises that Howard and all of the other [wonderful] physical and occupational therapists taught her. She loved them and they loved her and I will never forget them.

But then… What I didn’t expect was that first call that Freighter View had called the ambulance for The Comm. I mean, I knew she had been having some problems but still…

Alas, she sort of became a frequent flyer. There is a wonderful hospital up there in Siberia, an easy walk from Freighter View for someone like me. She hated taking the bus ambulance over there but a few times she was unconscious until they got her over there. So, she would be at the hospital and then she would recover and then… (The Comm did not have a terminal illness, this was a very complicated situation.)

The last time she was transported to the ER and admitted to the hospital, she contracted a dangerous bacterial infection. She was there for a very loooonnngggg time and was in pain and miserable and couldn’t eat. But she was still all there mentally, able to understand her situation. She chose to enter hospice and, to make a long story short, we moved her back to her room at Freighter View.

Can I just say that between the staff at FV and the hospice folks she received excellent care during her last month or so. She even rallied for a bit and began eating and drinking a bit of coffee again. But then…

Whar’s mah Tina Fey yard sign?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Oh never mind, I must’ve thrown it in the reeee-cycle. It said 2008 anyway…

Actually, I never had a Tina Fey sign but somebody on my morning walking route had one. I have put up a polly-tickal yard sign exactly once in my life here at the Landfill. It was in the 1990s. It said “Shifrin” and that name belongs to a friend of mine. She lives over across Miller and she decided to run for school board after the existing school board decided to kill the little alternative school-within-a-school middle school that our kids attended. She served one term and then decided not to run again. I have known this mensch of a woman for a long, long time and I know she very honestly and sincerely wanted to work *together* with others to make a difference for our students. Alas, I think she is *so* honest and sincere that some of the [nasty] polly-tickal crap that goes on even at the school board level caught her completely off guard. At the school board level. What is *with* people anyway?

The Landfill is in kind of a backwater of a neighborhood so I’m not sure if my yard sign attracted any votes for my friend or not. What it did do was freak out my beloved old neighbor Hans (who died last summer). He thought it was a real estate sign and that we were selling the Landfill! Yikes! No way Hans, we are not selling the Landfill and moving into some big fugly McMansion somewhere. We *like* our neighborhood and our little woods and, uh, our neighbors.

So, today we are having a loverly little primary election here in the god-forsaken Great Lake State. There is all kinds of excitement about this election but I’m not sure any of it is excitement about the actual candidates and/or their political platforms. Nope. There’s this whole cross-voting thing. I’m not gonna detail it. You guys either already know about that or you can google it.

Did I vote? I’m not gonna tell you. That’s my business although I will admit that sometimes I do report my vote right here on my blahg. This time, not so much. The 2012 election is just crazy so far and I am watching in fascination and horror. I am very interested in hearing what our young adults have to say about this and I am also wondering what people older than me think (and remember about elections past). I do know what The Commander thinks thought and I know who she was planning to vote for in the 2012 election if she lasted that long. She sat up and watched the entire 2012 State of the Union speech on TV. I fell asleep…

Wintry mix? We could’ve stayed “Up North” another day if we had wanted to. But we didn’t. We had made a dent about dealing with stuff in the Squatter’s Paradise and we were watching the *weather* and today was the day to drive. The forecast for tomorrow just about everywhere in the north is horrible and it isn’t even all that great for the Planet Ann Arbor except that the temps are supposed to go up to 50 tomorrow here. So, no ice… We had wonderfully dry roads all the way and sunshine when we got down here. Smooth trip but the Frog Hopper was full and when we got home we dealt with unpacking pretty directly but then we were both pretty dern taaarrrred…

I am an introvert and I am exhausted

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Yeah, I think I am about done for tonight. We didn’t have an overwhelming number of people at our visitation but we had a steady stream and they were all *friends* but I have done more than my regular share of conversation today. I mean I am a *nerd* and mostly I talk to other *nerds* — the ones I work with, that is. We are all friendly with each other and we do talk but sometimes our conversations sort of sputter along. And yes I know that “introvert” and “blathering away about one’s life on the internet” are a bit incongruent.

Technology came to my aid. We had computers set up all over the room but the big screen thingy our fave funeral guy has absolutely mesmerized people. The GG had about a billion slides on that thing, including some really random stuff. I mean you might go from The Commander threatening me with a stick to an aerial photo of the Mackinac Bridge under construction to a bunch of blue peeps with faces attached to them. Yeah, Easter peeps. You know the ones. What do blue peeps have to do with The Commander? I do not know.

Friends. The McNotts, the huge family that shares our beach with us. They are not family but we’ve all known each other all our lives, so they almost feel like family. People I have come to know since The Commander started having problems and I have been hanging around up here. People whose faces I recognized from my childhood but couldn’t attach a name to. People I normally see only on facebook. A woman who I *saw* in a photo on facebook over the weekend — I am friends with her daughter on there. The friendly young minister at the church we haven’t attended since I was a child. The North Country Trail folks. I could go on and on…

After it was all over, we took the mean old grunchie old Grinchie out to Zorbam for souvlaki. I needed to eat. I’m not sure I needed a whole bunch of loud conversation about various military guns. But boyz will be boyz. Anyway, I am way beyond conversation at this point and I am just rambling on incoherently so I’ll quit while I’m ahead. As I told someone else to do earlier tonight. After I thought about it, I decided he wasn’t really ahead but he better quit *anyway*.

Good night. Heading back southward tomorrow, back to work and on with life…

P.S. I added some captions to the slideshow. And here’s a link to the obituary I wrote (very hastily) for The Comm.

The Commander

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

I remember when I started calling my moom “The Commander” (spring of 2004) but I don’t think I could put the “why” into words if I tried. She wasn’t [usually ;-)] an overbearing person or anything. But she did run her life the way she wanted to. Make no mistake.

It was the summer after Grandroobly died (2006) that we were on our way into the post office up here in Siberia and a woman wearing a gold sequined baseball cap was coming out. I did a double-take and so did The Commander. I’m not sure why it was the right thing. The Comm’s taste in clothing and furnishings and things has always been quite understated. But I thought she *needed* a gold sequined baseball cap and so I was off googling for one in short order. And she would occasionally get a kick out of wearing it.

I can’t remember whether we did four or five runs down to Freighter View today but we had The Comm’s apartment emptied out in pretty short order. We did all of this with the Frog Hopper (Subaru Outback for those who aren’t intimately familiar with the current Landfill Vee-hickle Fleet). This was possible because Freighter View is exactly .91 miles down the escarpment from the Squatter’s Paradise. If it were even a 5-10 mile drive, we’d’ve probably had to rent or borrow (our fave funeral guy even offered his van! Er, I’ll bet he doesn’t make that offer to everyone…) but this was very do-able. When I applied for an apartment for The Comm at FV, I put down my preference for a 1-bedroom unit. I was thinking she would be there for a few years or more. But, since there was a bit of a wait list, I also said we would take the first available unit. Wouldn’t you know, the first unit that opened up was a small studio but it was also the most gorgeous room in the place. It has two walls of windows offering a wonderful view of the lake freighters entering and leaving the Soo Locks. When she was offered a chance to move to a larger apartment, she turned it down and I totally agreed.

Although we had finished the schlepping by mid-morning today, we were both absolutely totally utterly exhausted! The GG clonked out on the couch for a couple hours. I actually kind of wanted to do something like that but the only time I ever nap during the day is on the beach and then only in certain kinds of weather conditions. So I took off for a little drive along the waterfront et al.

After we recovered a bit, we drove out to the moominbeach to return the little dorm-sized refrigerator The Comm had been using to its home in the garage there and then we both had enough energy to actually start going through *stuff*. The Commander was the antithesis of a hoarder. She spent the last six years sorting stuff and getting rid of it so that *I* would not have to do it. I am ecstatic about that but she lived in this house for something like 40 years and I know from experience how hard it is to get rid of everything. She did a great job but there is work to do here. But we will not have to obtain a dumpster! That will be a topic for another day (or not or whatever). Thank you Moom!

And then I went through the *23,000* photos I have on iPhoto (note to self…) to put together a slide show for the visitation tomorrow. I also posted them on Flickr, so click here if you are interested. I did not caption anything, no time…

So we are here at the Squatter’s Paradise waiting for the Mean Old Grunchie Old Grinchie to show up. There is bad TV on because I need noise and that is about all.

Love y’all and thanks for all the wonderful comments,

Moving on…

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

I guess I am finally finding time to post today. I think that the GG may have wanted to drive up yesterday afternoon but I held him off until this morning. I thought that the weather might be better and I just kind of wanted to walk down to the Oscar Tango last night. I needed to do that and I needed some time to process.

So, we got up at 0-skunk-30 and we had good driving conditions up here to the yooperland and managed to meet our fave funeral guy as he was sneaking out the back door of the funeral home. Being that his job is kind of 24-7, we were able to meet with him immediately and I fleshed out The Commander’s obit in time for the 3:00 deadline to get it into the Sunday newspaper. It’s not a masterpiece and if she were still alive, she would probably be disputing various things but I think it captures her spirit. At any rate, her visitation is Monday afternoon. Not sure how many people will show up but that’s not important.

Next stop was Penny’s Kitchen for a quick half sandwich and then three stints at Freighter View to haul The Commander’s stuff back up the escarpment to the Squatter’s Paradise. We have a few more trips to go but we are getting there. Dinner at Angio’s with the Grinch and we’ll be up early tomorrow for breakfast with him at Frank’s and then more schlepping. Can I just say that I am so glad we have not sold The Squatter’s Paradise yet? That will come…

I have lots more to say but it’s late and I’m taaaaared.

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

Frances Carolyn (MacMullan) Finlayson: 1/9/1921 – 2/24/2012

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Love you moom. See you in the next episode.

We’re getting the first snowstorm of the year and you don’t have your AWD vee-hickle?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

That was Cube Nayber, who has the same kind of AWD vee-hickle as I do. And no I don’t have mine but we’re picking it up from the “deer shop” tomorrow morning. Actually, there was a bit of a kerfluffle at the end of the day today. There’s a prediction for “significant” snow overnight so people were kibbitzing about whether they’d be able to get to work tomorrow or not.

I dunno. “Significant” snow? Lemme see… They are actually predicting 2-4 (oh, some say 5-8) inches for the southeastern Great Lake State. Of course they are also predicting thundersnow. We’ll see what we get. Whatever it is, it seems to have people in a tizzy. Some folks were running out to pick up grokkeries during the lunch hour. I saw a poll somewhere (facebook? I fergit) asking what grokkeries people were going to stock up on. Say what? I’m stocking up on 10-high, baybay!

It is late February and you’d think we’d all be used to this white stuff by now. This year not so much.

Me? I am fully prepared to telecommute tomorrow if there is even one inch of that blasted white stuff on the roads. Why? Because it takes me two or three or four times longer to get to work when it snows, AWD or not. If I telecommute, I can be working instead of hanging around in a long line of traffic slithering through the snow. It’s different in the yooperland where they actually have snowplows and use them. Here, not so much. But we’ll see what it will do tonight.

After a week of double commuting, we walked over to Knight’s tonight. We got seated next to the big round table in the back and there were a bunch of good rowdy folks there who were a bit older than us. They were square dancers. I remember when The Commander and Grandroobly and Radical Betty and Duke and Don and Katie square danced. I was a bit dubious about that, especially when they wore those outfits, but they seemed to be having a good time and they met some good friends, so who was I to judge. Anyway, one couple at the round table got up to leave and about 30 seconds later, we all heard a big thunking noise. What was that? And then something about calling an ambulance. The square dance table folks were all abuzz. Apparently the woman has a seizure history. That bollixed Knight’s up for a while but it didn’t interrupt our dinner and I’m sure the EMT folks are well familiar with Knight’s. And then the next (much younger) folks who got seated at the round table were talking about the fact that there was an ambulance outside Knight’s.

I think our wonderful young waiter was a little more freaked out about the whole thing than we were because he wished us a good night without bringing us the check. Me? I have spent so much time hanging around in hospitals and things in the last year that it wasn’t all that hard for me to ignore it (I mean, c. diff? c’mon…). And so I found myself reassuring the waiter or at least saying something like, “we aren’t freaked out”. (And the woman was apparently okay but they did transport her and yes, we did pay for our food.)

Got a ladder in yer cube?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Dum de dum de dum de… Lemme see… Bagged my walk this morning. Sidewalks had the lightest little glaze of ice crystals. At 30 degrees, Chaco sandals with Smart Wool socks were my choice of footwear. It was too warm out for my clunky old boots. Alas, it wasn’t like there was a quarter inch of ice coating everything but it was juuuuuust a wee leetle bit too slippery for worn out sandals (note to self). But YakTrax would’ve been overkill. Hum de dum… I decided to bag it.

Drove the GG over to That Darn EPA. On the way home, I stopped for a pedestrian “approaching” a marked crosswalk. It is a four lane road and the idjit in the next lane over from me whaled past me through the crosswalk at a high rate of speed. I am so glad that the *pedestrian* was WATCHING because I did *not* want to watch him get slammed into, fly up in the air and land on his face in the road. And then get run over by another vee-hickle. Nope. Not in the mood for that. In hindsight, I was kind of wishing I had had a video camera handy for that little episode. Maybe if our wondrous city council could see a few of these little incidents they would repeal this dangerous ordinance. Actually I did have a video camera but it’s my iPhone and fumbling for it, unlocking, opening the camera app, switching to video mode and hitting the record button was just a little too much for that situation.

When I stopped for the pedestrian and he started to cross, he looked at me and we connected. Not some big connection, just “I see you and you see me”. That other vee-hickle? Not so much. Whooosh! Too bad the Ninja doesn’t have a built-in cam that you can operate by pushing a button. Entrepreneurs? Or… Maybe the damn city council could just install a cheap webcam at the crosswalk so they could watch the scary things that happen. But they won’t. Because they truly believe that they are trying to make crosswalks safe. Alas, they are not… Sigh…

Fumbly bumbly. I returned to the Landfill and scrabbled up some breakfast and trolled (trawled?) the internet for a while and then headed off to my loverly dog-poopy cube aaaaaaannnndddd…

Dum de dum de dum… This beauteous blue ladder was in my cube today. How do you do, Blue Ladder? Oh yes, this provided a lot of entertainment for everyone on my team today. There was talk of standing on it to lob things “over the wall” into W1.5’s cube. Which led to talk of lobbing all sorts of things over the walls. We don’t really do that kind of thing where I work now. Back when I worked over there at That Darn EPA, we would regularly lob things around the office, rubber bands and paper airplanes and I fergit what else. I don’t know why we don’t do that kind of thing at my job nowadays. Maybe it’s because we are all old. Or maybe it’s because my old buddy Carpenter doesn’t work with us. (Where the heck are you, anyway? Are you on facebook? Find me, please.)

So, Blue Ladder graced my cube all day today. In fact, I kept catching it in the corner of my eye and jumping a bit. “Who’s there? Oh, it’s just you, loverly Blue Ladder.” Grok Grok. Hey, kin me ‘n’ Greeeeeen Guy come over thare agin? Grook frogok. We wanna sit on Blue Ladder with Wolvie ‘n’ Sparty ‘n’ sum o’ Broooosie’s other aminals! Grfok Grogk.

Double commute

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I only drove 26 miles today but I feel like I drove to the yooperland and back. Except that driving to the yooperland (but maybe not back) probably would’ve been a lot less stressful. Well, that is if the traffic wasn’t too crazy and there wasn’t any snow… Or deer… Or tornadoes…

We are down to one vee-hickle for the week. Why? Because the loverly Mean Green Frog Hoppin’ Musheen is in the body shop getting the driver’s side front quarter panel or whatever it is replaced. So we are down to sharing the possibly even more loverly little Ninja. The GG works five miles more or less to the northeast and I work eight miles away down south of the airport. Bus service over to that darn EPA is possible but tortuous. The closest bus to my work drops me off about a mile away leaving me with a walk down a jam-packed high-speed two lane highway with no sidewalks. That is, the bus WOULD drop me off there if I TOOK the bus (South State, if you know Ann Arbor). No thank you. I could certainly telecommute but I didn’t really want to. I have done that enough lately and it’s very likely I’ll be doing it again in the not-too-distant future.

So. I got up at 0-skunk-30 and took my walk, strategically changing my usual route so that I’d be walking up Miller as the GG was driving *down* Miller toward work so he could pick me up, which he did. We drove over to that darn EPA and he bailed out and then I drove home. So far so good! Completely dry pavement and didn’t even hit too many red lights. Or pedestrians approaching crosswalks.

Now, if I had only left for work when I *wanted* too, the next bit of ugliness wouldn’t have happened. But this morning was sort of a faaaar drill and I couldn’t find my *socks* etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam and so I left the Landfill 20 minutes later than I wanted to. Little did I know what a mistake that was…

It seemed okay when I finally got out the door, threw two bags of garbage into the cart, and schlepped my work laptop and lunch and stuff into the Ninja. I mean, everything was still dry and there was nothing coming out of the sky. But then. I got to the infamous Jackson/Maple intersection and what was this? Huge clumps of snow coming down. Somebody I follow on Twitter called them beachball-sized and that wasn’t too much of an exaggeration. The pavement was still dry but I had a rather ominous premonition and abandoned my original plan to take my performance taaaarred vee-hickle onto the I94 18-wheel Slogway. Which was a good thing because man oh man this snow came down fast and heavy and apparently by the time I finally slithered my way to work, the freeways were all parking lots. My own commute was ugly but ultimately uneventful and I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally parked in my very own parking place next to my loverly Canada Goose-laden pond.

But what the heck? This is Meeeecheeeegan and if you don’t like the weather, you wait five minutes. Or maybe more like three hours in this case but, by this afternoon, the snow had turned to rain and the temperature was around 40 and the snow disappeared and I did my commute home on the I94 18-wheel Slogway and it was all good. Until I got off at the Jackson Road exit. And the damn left turn signal was having one of its sporadic little spells of letting four or five vee-hickles through at a time and so I had to wait at least four looonnnnnggg cycles to make a frickin’ left turn.

And so, just as I arrived at the Landfill, the GG sent me a text: “WhenYaGonnaGitMe?” Sigh. I saddled up the Ninja *again* and wended my way through the Planet Ann Arbor surface street rush hour traffic to Plymouth Road. And back.

I am taaaarrrrred. We are having a ‘hattan. It is Fat Tuesday and I don’t have any special Mardi Gras meal but I DOOOOOOO have mardi gras beads. Except that Froggy and Green Guy are wearing them all (and I think they are into the derned laundry detergent because I am hearing all kinds of disgusting adolescent boy-type burping and farting noises and the ensuing raucous laughter). But wait a minute? When have I *ever* celebrated Fat Tuesday? Maybe I will have to add that date to my list of “Holidays to Celebrate Just for Fun Even Though They Have Nothing To Do With My Own Cultural Heritage”. Because life is short and then you die and let’s have fun while we’re here.

Anyway, this double commute is getting old and I have only done it for one blasted day. We’ll see how long I last.

Orange you glad I didn’t blahg about pollyticks today?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

You would think somebody (aka me) who *writes* for a living (and blathers away on the internet every day) would be good at word games, wouldn’t you? It’s true that writing is only a part of my job. I am not out there trying to write the next Great American Novel or anything. That kind of writing is not up my alley. But as a web application designer, it is a large part of my job to write functional specifications, which are long boring documents that describe every last picky little detail involved in any new or changed functionality I have designed and all of the ramifications thereof in such a way that our developers can do their jobs of building that functionality out. (Er, that would be *software* developers, not *real estate* developers but that’s a whole ‘nother story).

I do a lot of writing and although I am far from perfect, I am in, out, around, and through the English language many hours on most days, stringing words together to make what I hope are coherent enough sentences and paragraphs that other people might actually have a clue about what I’m talking about. Like we do not need to have dancing purple froogs hanging about on our rather stodgy web application so I need to make sure the developers don’t misunderstand me and create them. (Yes, that is an extreme exaggeration. Our developers would think I was smoking crack.)

So if I spend all this time writing, why the heck do I suck so badly at Scrabble? Hmmm… The background here is that I made a duck dinner two Sundays ago and I invited my mouse. When she got here, she grabbed my phone and downloaded a game called Words with Friends (aka Scrabble). You can play with your friends over the internet. I am now playing games with three people. AND LOSING MY ASS TO ALL THREE. OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN!!!

As bad as I am at Scrabble, I am sort of enjoying playing it this way. I have never been able to focus on any board game that took longer than Candyland or Uncle Wiggly. I just don’t have that kind of attention span. Risk? Oh. My. Gawd! I’d rather watch other people play Scrabble and look up words for them. You know, words like “nager”. In this phone format, I can make a move and the other person may make a move within seconds or it might take a day or two. I can deal with that kind of pace. And since two of the people I have games going with are my beach urchins, it is yet another way to know they are alive and well since I don’t see them very often and none of us are very good phone people.

I do hope MMCB doesn’t find out that I’m playing WWF. Her main activity on facebook is to play WWF and other word games with her sister and some friends. I am terrified of playing Scrabble with MMCB. I think that playing Scrabble with MMCB would be something like playing Scrabble with the Grand Poobah of Regenaxe. I do not wanna go there. MMCB will be at 10,000 points or whatever and I might have 73. I think that MMCB and the Grand Poohbah should play with each other.

I will keep playing. Maybe I will get better. I am getting pretty good at doing the NYT Crossword puzzle. I can even sometimes finish the *Saturday* puzzle although it may take me a few days/weeks/whatever. I can’t quite figger out why my skills at that do not translate to Scrabble. But it is a different thing…

Good gaming, folks. And good night. Love y’all, KW!

In which a small mystery is solved.

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Are we done with that little internet pissing match, as the GG calls it? I think I am, at least for the moment. I know it will rear its ugly head up two or three times again before the fat lady sings. Next time I will do my homework and choose my words more carefully because crow doesn’t really taste all that good <wink>.

Other than that, it has been a typical February weekend here at the Landfill. My flinging adventures have now largely emptied Mickey’s Closet down in the Landfill Dungeon. Can I just say the words “rodent crap”? A few dead spiders and things too. I am gonna have to rent a power washer when this is all over. Yesterday, I excavated three boxes of glassware. Or was it four… A couple of them were wine glasses that I knew I owned. I put them down there back in the Jurassic Age because there wasn’t room in the chitchen.

The box of eight blue glass tumblers (or so I thought) was a mystery. I could not remember buying them. I could not remember anyone giving them to me. Did I buy them for one of the beach urchins when she went off to college? I didn’t think so. Who would need *eight* glasses in a dorm room? Was the Dungeon starting to sprout stuff again? If so, I was hoping that it would NOT return to its old habit of sprouting ugly green ducted-taped easy chairs. I texted a photo to the beach urchins. Nope, not mine, came both replies.

Today I started taking the blue glasses out of their packing material so I could empty the mouse turds and dead spiders out of them and wash them. To my surprise, four of them were actually not tumblers but stemmed wine glasses. And there was a Chinese newspaper in there with them. Hmm… This is getting even weirder. Then I realized that the *box* had a handwritten label on it: Orrefors… Hmmm… Ohhh… Maybe these were R’s? R is my 96-year-old aunt. She is a hoarder. Before she moved to a senior apartment a few years ago, I would occasionally drive over to her overstuffed apartment in Megalopolis to fix stuff on her computer. She occasionally gave me stuff over the years but more often than not she would show me some little treasure or other and *talk* about giving it to me. She wasn’t ready to give all that stuff up. That was okay with me. I didn’t really need any more stuff. Actually, visiting her apartment made me resolve to get rid of all my crap WELL before I got to be 90. And so I am…

Apparently on one of those visits she gave me a box of this loverly blue glassware. Apparently I brought it home and shoved it into Mickey’s Closet. And promptly forgot about it. I think it is pretty cool glassware but I don’t really need any more dishes. Actually if I ever get around to gutting the chitchen here, I will probably buy new stuff anyway. I’m sick of what I have. I’m glad I figured out where these came from though. Because if I hadn’t, I would have given them to Good Will or whatever, along with my own old wine glasses. Not that the blue Orrefors have any particularly sentimental value. I’m sure my aunt got them on sale somewhere, stashed them, and probably never used them. Still, I have found a good home for them with one of the beach urchins and I bet she *will* use them and I’m happy about that. It’s a small victory but these days I will take what I can get.

Your weekend?

In which a mild-mannered systems analyst concedes a point…

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

But just one point. And a bit grudgingly at that. In the heat of the current War on Women’s Rights, I am guilty of lumping. What is lumping, you are asking? Lumping is munging data and numbers and facts and figures and issues together and wildly expressing opinions without sorting things out. Sorting things out is a very high-level description of what a systems analyst does and I am pretty good at that [I think] when it comes to working on the on-line banking application that pays my rent.

I’ve been doing some sorting today and the point I am going to concede? The UU is *right* that a private Catholic hospital should not be required by the United Snakes gubmint to provide contraceptive coverage for its employees. I know enough about the Catholic religion to know that contraceptives are a no-no, even though I believe statistics show that a majority of practicing Catholics use them. Now, to me, this is hypocritical, mean-spirited oppression of the “lowly” nurses and aides and therapists and transporters and techs and food-service folks, etc., by those at the top. And make no mistake, the folks at the top will be able to afford to purchase their own contraceptives if they want them. And many of them will. I wish that these hospitals would provide contraceptives for employees who want (or need) them. But I will agree that I was wrong. My bad.

That said. I still think that the pro-choice women of our country are currently under siege. There’s Darrell Issa and his all-male panel discussion about contraceptives. Rick Santorum says (among other things) that rape victims should make the best of a bad situation. Foster Friess “jokes” about the “gal” with the aspirin between her legs. And then there’s Virginia’s Vaginia’s new transvaginal ultrasound law (you know you want to google that one (or maybe not)). Last but not least, repeated, repeated, repeated attacks on the Planned Parenthood organization…

I know I am oversimplifying here but, if this election is supposed to be about getting the economy back on track and shrinking the role of the government (which I agree with), then why are all of these extreme religious conservatives so focused on chiseling away at a woman’s right to choose? Why aren’t we *talking* about getting the economy back on track and shrinking the government? I think it is short-sighted not to recognize that providing affordable contraceptives to women who want them is going to save money in the long run. There are plenty of other ways to cut costs besides not providing contraceptives to women. Why aren’t those other things getting any air time?

Needless to say, this is an issue of utmost importance to me but I think I am done for the moment. Y’all are thinking something like, “It’s about time she shut up!”

Okay, one more thing. I often like to say something like “one of my lots in life is large Catholic families.” I often say it in jest but it’s true. From the family that I grew up spending summers with on the moominbeach (and we are now growing older together) to my best friend (and comrade in arms against the neighborhood rock-throwers) in grade school (she attended the neighborhood Catholic school, I attended Stinkin’ Lincoln) to every single boyfriend I ever had to the family I married into. The in-laws who put up with me and my sometimes more “liberal” political opinions, hacked and lumped together that they may be. These are good good good people who I love very much and any opinions I may have about the Catholic *religion* are not directed at any of my Catholic relatives or friends. And anyway, I have issues with my childhood religion too, which happens to be “mainstream” Methodist. I am me and I question things that people can’t explain to me in terms I can understand. Systems analyst anyone?

Hey, how about those turkey vultures! That crappy Hipstamatic photoooo does not begin to capture the numbers of turkey vultures hanging about this little graveyard on one of the by-ways of the southeast part of the Great Lake State. Click (and click again) to enlarge for a wee bit better view.

Full metal jacket

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Today was such a good day… Until it wasn’t. It went south when I pitched a hissy right there at the Oscar Tango tonight. Fortunately the ambient noise was so loud that only the people *at* our table could hear me. I’m sure they were a bit freaked out and I’m sorry about that. But.

Here’s the thing. Does anyone actually think that this misguided person made an actual joke? If you cannot view the video, it’s the one where Foster Friess jokes about how when he was a young whipper-snapper, birth control pills meant that the “gal” held an aspirin between her legs. I gather that he later apologized, sort of. Y’all can google the whole sordid affair although I’m sure most of you have already seen more than you want to on facebook or wherever.

Sorry but I do not think Foster Friess is the slightest bit funny. Now. If this were a different 2012, one in which women’s reproductive rights were not being shot at from every single direction possible, I might have appreciated the aspirin joke. Instead, what do we have? A serious presidential candidate who does not believe in a woman’s right to use artificial contraceptives to plan her family (even though statistics show that a majority of the women in his religion DO use artificial contraceptives). A bunch of overstuffed Male Chauvinist Pigs claiming that allowing religious hospitals, et al, not to cover contraceptives in their employees’ health care plans is “religious freedom”. Say what? Religious freedom for who? Huge organizations that employ large numbers of people? Some of whom belong to that religion and some of whom, well, don’t.

Give me a break already! I will just say that I have spent an inordinate amount of time haannngging around hospitals in the last year or so (albeit not religious ones) and I would say that, although there are some absolutely fabulous male nurses around, probably 98% of the nurses are female. Are we really saying that all of these wonderful, intelligent, educated, professional women will have to ante up for their own contraceptives? Why? Maybe these hospitals should just not hire women of child-bearing age? Maybe these nurses would be “better off” at home barefoot and pregnant with umpteen kids? Maybe the hospitals could retrain some of those crotchety old bishops and cardinals and things to be nurses. You know, to replace all of those nurses that are now at home taking care of all those unplanned-for kids. Yeah, I am over the top.

But… Why is paying for contraceptives such a bad thing? Isn’t it better to pay a small price up front rather than a lifetime of costs for an unwanted child whose parents don’t have the financial, emotional, or psychological wherewithal to take care of it?

Sorry to be such a downer but I did grow up in the coathanger days when The Pill was a new frontier. I do not want to go back to those days and, if I have granddaughters someday, I do NOT want them to have to fight the same damn fight.

A challenge to the Republicans out there. Find a candidate who appeals to ME! I am an intelligent (erp), educated, professional, fiscally conservative, socially progressive, pro-choice WOMAN! For now, Obama has got my vote. He may be an imperfect president but he represents more of my interests than anyone in the Clown Car. They talk smaller government (which I believe in) and then they turn around and [aggressively] attack women’s reproductive rights. Sorry but it does not compute.

P.S. I think there are a lot more like ME out there. Politicians? Don’t discount us. We vote!


Thursday, February 16th, 2012

First and foremost, image credit to Dogmomster (or maybe The Engineer took the photoooo). No particular reason for posting.

And don’t worry, it isn’t me who’s imploding. I am fine albeit in that kind of floaty place that I have been occupying since January 1, 2012. I also kind of got to the end of a prodject at work today and the LSCHP was having a particularly busy day. I need a new prodject to sink my teeth into, requirements to untangle, flow diagrams and pictures to draw, spreadsheets and tables to engineer, walks to take to digest complicated stuff, yada yada yada. I didn’t have that today soooo….

…I went home for lunch. And I faaarrrred up my loverly (but flawed) MacBook Pro and Whoa!!! My Twitter feed was filled with crap about some Repiglican (yes) panel on contraceptives. Every single over-fed person Male Chauvinist Pig who appeared in the photoooos that I saw had at least one Y chromosome1.

Yes, I am angry! Male Chauvinist Pigs. We (aka women) fought against MCP control back in the 1960s2. I won’t go into all of the wars that we waged3 to legalize abortion so that women didn’t die in sordid bathrooms with coat hangers up their… Okay, I will not go any further on that. For now anyway.

Let’s not talk about abortion tonight. It is a horrible thing and I, who have birthed two children, do not see it as a black and white issue. But. People will still find ways to have abortions whether or not it is legal. And I believe that abortion should be provided in a legal and safe way. But then.

Sigh. The abortion issue aside, I cannot understand why the current crop of Repiglicans is so focused on contraception. Contraception has been going on in one form or another since the beginning of time. Picture a “cave woman” saying, “you aren’t bringing home enough game to take care of the kids we already have. We’re not having any more babies. Sleep on that rock out there tonight.” And I bet she would’ve hit him with her twig broom!

But what in the f*ck are the Repiglicans thinking about not providing women with contraceptives!!! Who the f*ck ARE these people? Who has elected them? I am sure that there are SOME women out there who agree. I have even met some of them. But. Do these people not realize that if you do not allow people to buy contraceptives, more people will be getting abortions? Or maybe the woman cannot get contraceptives and therefore gets pregnant and has the child. That’s wonderful. But what if she can’t really take care of the child? She has no money or any family support and she ends up living in a car with her kids. Who is paying for this? What the f*ck? It is the taxpayer. This taxpayer is happy to pay for CHILDREN who have no support in life. And she also wants to provide that child’s MOTHER (and the FATHER, if he is involved but oftentimes he isn’t) with some help.

But the Repiglicans do not want to help pay for these people…

Other people have discussed this issue more eloquently than I have today. But fer kee-reist! How do the Repiglicans plan to win a presidential election if they are alienating a majority of women? Hmmm?

1 Look up “XYY” chromosome on google. Gender is not a black and white thing.

2 There were many surges of “women’s lib” before the damn 1960s. I am sorry that I feel like we have to do that all again…

3 It was really horrible back in those days. If you had supportive parents, they would find you somewhere to get a safe abortion. Or you might be spirited away somewhere to have your child whether you wanted to or not and give it up to someone else. Or…

What a drag it is getting…

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Oh never mind… How can I be sick and tired of winter when we haven’t even *had* a real winter? But I am. I am sick of being cold. I don’t usually even *get* cold. I am an expert at layering. As I have posted before, I check the weather on my trusty old iPhone *before* I get out of bed. I know exactly what clothing to put on. How many layers, what kind of coat, hat, footwear, glubs, whether or not I’ll need my YakTrax. Or an umbrella. Or both. I am one of those annoying people who, when a friend is complaining about how cold it is when it’s 10 degrees and snowing, will point out, “You are not wearing a hat!” Why don’t people wear hats when it’s cold? Is everybody really all that obsessed with their dern hair? I insist on a wash-and-wear style. It kind of works. Except for right now when my hair is waaaayyy toooo lonnnnnng and scraggly. But who the heck cares what my hair looks like? Certainly not the folks I work with.

I have not been skiing yet this winter. I’m not sure if I will *go* skiing this winter. For the most part, there hasn’t been enough snow to ski on. Or there is snow but the temperature is above 30. I hate x-c skiing on slippery wet snow with leaves and pine needles on top of it. I am also disatisfied with my ski equipment. At least my boots and bindings. My bindings are a pain in the you-know-what to fasten and my boots hurt my feet. Maybe next year it will be time to reevaluate my ski equipment and get some stuff that I *like* to use. Why am I banging my head against the wall about this? I am not anywhere near the proverbial 1% but I can afford ski equipment. Anyway, maybe next year we will actually get some *snow* and maybe I will actually have some *time* to ski…

For now? Let’s just end this season. Despite the warm temperatures and relative lack of snow, it has absolutely, totally, utterly sucked camels’ you-know-what. And yes, you do know what.

Disclaimer… If you know me and might be worried about me, I am okay!!! Really. I have some things to worry about and endure and second-guess right now but I am doing my regular 0-skunk-30 walk and flinging and being productive at work, which includes lobbing friendly “insults” at the LSCHP when he deserves them. Life is like a river and although I can’t quite figger if my river is high or low right now, it is definitely out of whack. But that’s okay and I am dealing with it. I am reasonably certain that better, or at least calmer, days are in store for me eventually.

Love you all,
kayak woman

VD trivia

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Lemme see…

I managed to wear my red vest to work today even though I did not connect all of the love stories on NPR this morning with the date February 14th. I wear my red vest to work a lot. I have just about enough *comfortable* pieces of winter bizcaz clothing that I can kinda almost sorta manage to not wear the same outfit twice in one week. I dredge pieces of clothing out of a shambling mound and I randomly dredged the red vest outta that today along with a bunch of black stuff.

I was psychologically exhausted when I got home today and about the only meal that I figured I could scrabble together was chicken pieces with rice and a vegetable. Even though I couldn’t care less about Valentine’s Day, I felt a little guilty for not doing something nicer than that. And then. The GG reminded me that we had reservations at Knight’s. (Dementia anyone?) I didn’t really feel up for eating out but I rose to the occasion.

So, we got halfway over to Knight’s and I realized that I didn’t have my purse or my phone. I panicked. I didn’t really need my purse but I definitely needed my iPhone 4S, don’tcha know… The GG gallantly offered to hoof it back to the Landfill to retrieve those items. I continued on to Knight’s, checked in at the reservation desk and then hung out at the bar, where I told Yul I wanted a Franhattan on the rocks and a Franhattan up and my husband would be around in about five minutes to pay for them. And the GG did arrive just about the time Yul served up the drinks, which *I* paid for outta the cash in my purse…

Let’s hear it for neighborhood pubs!

Last but definitely not least, my beloved mother-in-law, aka The Absolutely Gorgeous Grandma Sally, was born on this date back in 1925. She died back in 1994. Way too young and I’ll talk about that day some other time. For now, you get this photooo of the beach urchin Lizard Breath with her grandma Sally. The beach urchins did not see Grandma Sally all that much and they shared her with 17 cousins. This beach urchin knew that one of the things to do with a grandma was to grab a bottle of milk out of the refrigimatator and climb up in her lap to drink it. You can even hang the dern bottle outta yer mouth if you need to rub your eye. Grandma Sally obviously knew what to do with her grandchildren too. Miss you Sally.

Just fax it! [Beware: Thinly disguised F word appears multiple times]

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Just fax it? So easy… Roight. As the LSCHP says, “Have you got a time machine?” (I like working for him.) I think today is the third time EVER that I have been forced to use a fax machine. After 30 years of working in, out, and on the fringes of the information technology field, fax machines remain inscrutable to me.

Today… I had to send a fax up to Siberia. Something that should’ve been faxed, oh, like three weeks ago but given the horrific circumstances of my recent so-called life, I am being given a lot of passes. I punched in the fax number. I even remembered to put a “9” in front of the number, which is necessary to get outside my work facility. The fax machine fed my documents through and dialed the number. Anh Anh Anh Anh. Busy signal. The crappy little digital readout said something incomprehensible about re-dialing. I was hopeful for a few minutes but nothing happened. I tried again. Same thing. And again. And again. I called the office I was trying to send the fax to. (I hate making phone calls too.) “We’re receiving all kinds of faxes today. We can’t figure out what’s wrong. It must be on your end.” I told them I would try again and I *begged* them to call me if they received the fax. I knew that was above and beyond their call of duty. Amazingly, they did call me to tell me that they did NOT receive my fax. Yeah… I know…

I went to a defect meeting and then I struck out for Staples. Maybe they could get my fax to go through. Or not. Turns out that Staples doesn’t even HAVE a fax machine. But the nice young man there told me that the UPS Store just down the row in Westgate did. Off I went. The nice young man *there* tried twice to send my fax. Anh Anh Anh Anh. Okay, I was now on plan C. Overnight mail. Of course, by then it was the lunch hour and it took me several rounds to get a parking place at the Stadium branch post office. And find the right envelope (I *did* remember to take a pen with me). And figure out which u-scan was *working*, because I sure did not want to wait in the long line inside the place.

I sure hope that envelope gets up there tomorrow and they don’t *lose* it and that they *act* on it. Otherwise, I have probably wasted all of my vacation time for the year 2012 sitting in a f*cking hospital. I can afford to go without pay for a few weeks. What I can’t do is use family leave time to take a vacation. And I do have a few small, not very exotic vacations planned this year. I mean the ones where I get to see my grown children and maybe hang out at the Moominbeach. Not the ones where I go to Cancun and get food poisoning. Sigh…

Oh, this will probably get worked out but WHY DOES THIS STUFF HAVE TO BE SO F*CKING HARD? I was practically in tears when I finally got back to work after that little odyssey today. My productivity today? Maybe three hours of actual work… And why the f*ck do we still have to use FAX machines for this stuff? FAX is dinosaur technology. If I had been able to handle all of this via the web or even email, I’d’ve had it done *weeks* ago. And I wouldn’t have had to interrupt busy receptionists with stupid phone calls.

I was really annoyed with that video that went viral over the weekend. The one where the dad shoots the laptop. I am still annoyed with him but I sure felt like shooting a few fax machines today.

I think we should paint “Deer Slayer” on zee veeeendsheeeeld

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Actually, I don’t know if the deer died. The short story is that the GG was heading down the southbound I75 SUV Speedway this afternoon and arrived at mile marker 205 (that’s south of West Branch) just as a small herd of deer decided to cross. Although he was able to slow down significantly, Bambi ran out into the road straight into the Mean Green Frog Hoppin’ Musheen and this is the result. If I have it right, she then ran into the median and *then* back out onto the speedway only to hit another vee-hickle. She flew up into the air above *that* vee-hickle and no one knows what happened to her. I bet it wasn’t pretty. I have probably mangled the details of this loverly little event. If the GG wants to correct them, he can comment.

I found out about this via text message. I was unclear about when the GG was going to leave the yooperland today and about two o’clock this afternoon, I finally texted “ACK?”, i.e., “Where in the HECK ARE you?” After a few minutes, I received the reply, “deer”. Say what? Since when is “deer” a response to “where are you?”? Tell me more. Did you SEE a deer? Did you HIT a deer? I called and my worst fears were realized. I guess it could’ve been a lot worse. Deer through zee veeeendsheeeeld anyone? Blood all over the interior? Not this time, thank you very much.

Are we having fun yet? Lemme see… This the second “incident” for the Frog Hopper [new in 2011], the first being the infamous and utterly embarrassing Green Boat Towing Incident.

It is the first time either one of us has hit a deer although I’ve had a couple of close calls over the years. Then there was the Old Coot. The Old Coot was an excellent driver with a practically perfect driving record. Except for the two times he was hit by a deer. Both times? Westbound on the Seney Stretch, once heading to Marquette for some kind of bank thingy, the next time heading to Houghton for The Engineer’s wedding. These incidents occurred years apart but, if my memory is accurate, they were in the same location. Bad karma there, I guess.

I guess a trip to the body shop and a few days or whatever of existing with one vee-hickle are in my future. The non-snow vee-hickle no less, now that Old Man Winter seems to have finally arrived here on The Planet Ann Arbor. Louis over at my work will have a field day with this. “I heard you had a little accident!”, he will gleefully crow. There’s always gotta be one Car Guy in every workplace, don’tcha know. The Engineer (may he party on wherever he is) was one of the best Car Guys and he would’ve loved this!

Be careful out there. Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

P. S. If you enlarge the photooooo, you can see a silhouette of the GG (and somebody else?) reflected at the front there, below the headlight.

Move along. Nothing to see here.

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

In which my body and my brain both take a break. I cannot remember the last time I did not get out of bed until eight AM. Even on the rare occasions that I am sick, I drag myself out ultra-early and take a shower. I may not move any further than the Green Couch after that but I do get myself up.

I am not sick today. Quite the contrary. But. 1) It snowed last night. 2) It was five degrees this morning (and that’s Fahrenheit, folks). 3) My hip was bothering me. Now. A little snow? Not a big deal. I just spent four weeks in the yooperland where there was snow even during this mild winter. Temperature? Likewise. Hip? A minor thing that has been kind of coming and going the last couple of days. I cannot figure why. Sitting in my cube all week after a month of, uh, not sitting in my cube? Probably. I almost never have aches and pains and I think I last had a headache about two years ago. When I do have the odd little ache or pain, I usually just power-walk through it until it goes away. Today I decided to give myself a pass. Maybe if I don’t walk umpteen million miles today, this teensy tinesy little pain in my hip will go away? And so it did.

Reality is that I think I am totally, utterly, absolutely burned out from my month in the yooperland, trekking up and down the escarpment, participating in various decisions, life and death-type and others and all the second guessing that goes along with that territory. I am not quite equipped for that kind of stuff and I needed to decompress today. I emerged from the Landfill for a while about mid-morning to shovel and SALT (!!!) my sidewalk while engaging in a bit of egregious idling. Which is not illegal. Yet. Thank you very much. I did actually get some flinging done down in the Landfill Dungeon for the next charity pickup, which happens to be Tuesday. Can’t let people like my cousin Jay get ahead of me there, although I think she probably is and also it seems she has a *partner* in her efforts. And I draaaaaaaggged myself out and over to the Plum Market in the mid-afternoon.

Tonight? Knight’s. With Mouse. We walked over there. It is so much fun to be able to belly up to the bar with your daughter and order Franhattans. Good night. Sleep tight (or not). Love y’all. KW.

Revisiting the Book of Revelations while eating animal crackers…

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Yes, this was during an information technology industry design team meeting. Do not ask. You do not want to know. Trust me on that. Yesterday it was werewolves…

This is the first 5-day week I have worked since before xmas. Really. At four o’clock this afternoon it was uber-gloomy outside and I was sleepy and I didn’t think I was gonna make it. Then the LSCHP bailed and soon after that the uber-boss came around and asked us what the heck we were doing haaannnggging around on a Friday afternoon when our boss was gone. In other words, get outta here unless you are doing something pressing. Go enjoy the crappy, bone-chillingly cold, snow-spitting, gloomy weather we’re gonna have tonight.

I didn’t leave right away. It doesn’t *exactly* matter how many hours I work each week although I have a work ethic that klonks me over the head regularly. Anyway. I finished up a couple of sniggly little bits. And then I un-decorated my loverly dog-poopy cube. Except for the garlands, which are hung from the ceiling tiles and we need someone as tall as FZ to get those down. I tried to return the blue stuffed smiley-faced flower to the person I thought it was on long-term loan to but she recoiled in horror! “I already have one of those!” W1.5 wanted nothing to do with it either. Cube Nayber finally admitted it was hers and she graciously took it back. We have some of the most interesting perks on earth where I work.

We are getting a wee bit of snow now here on the Planet Ann Arbor. We have not had much of that stuff this year. I have not YET had to shovel any snow. npJane did a bit of shoveling for us waaaayyy back in January, before she got stuck hanging around with us up in the yooperland version of Groundhog Day. She is out in Callyforny for the moment but last night she was hanging out with me. Thanks, Jane for the shoveling you did way back then. I may be doing that tomorrow morning. And thanks for hanging out with me at the Squatter’s Paradise during a difficult period. It was so much fun to have cuzzints there and I love all of mine.