Archive for June, 2012

Yugoooooo…

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

I cracked up when npJane commented “Yugoooo” when I posted this crazy photoooo of the Mackinac Bridge on facebook this afternoon. First, this is just the Hipstamatic Salvidor Dali lens and I used it just because I am tired of taking “straight” photooos of the Big Mac.

We got outta Dodge (aka The Planet Ann Arbor) just after 7:00 AM this morning. We took the Lansing route to Houghton Lake, stopping at our fave Best Choice Market for a few things and then the Houghton Lake Group Home long enough for the GG to cut the lawn and me to take a much needed (but HOT) walk along Long Point road.

And then on toward and into the yooperland for a week of work at the Dillon House and various other endeavors and maybe even a little bit of vacation for me. Boy do I need it. The last year? Not fun…

This photo was just for fun but it is a bit scary. The Mackinac Bridge was finished in 1957. My parents drove me and my newborn brother over it the first night it was open to the public. I was three and I actually remember that excursion. Before the bridge was built, we used to take a big car-ferry over the straits whenever we drove down south to see our relatives down in Dee-troit and Ann Arbor and East Lansing and other points south. I remember walking on the ferry deck with my dad and putting my hands in my jacket pockets just to be like him a bit.

Sometime back in the 1980s, when I was a young mother, there was a Friday night when my dad called me from the moominbeach. He was all excited about how strong the wind was that night and just had to tell me about it and even held the phone out into the wind so I could hear it. Me? I was wishing I was up there with him… Alas, the next morning brought the news that a young woman driving a Yugo had gone over the side of the bridge to her death. This kind of thing had never happened before. The “authorities” eventually found the Yugo down in the straits somewhere and I can remember all kinds of diagrams of how they figured the car went over the side and how it landed where it did. Short story? She was going way too fast in very high winds and somehow managed to get up on the guardrail and flip over the side!!!

No problems like that today. The seas were pretty calm at the Straits of Mackinac and I saw folks walking around in the water to the right of the bridge as we embarked upon it going northward. Here at the Moomincabin the wind was out of the northwest and I took my first swim of the season. I swam alone although Dogmomster, Ernie and Alfred were on the beach. I didn’t swim for long but as I did I thought of all the times I have swum with my cousins when we were kids and later on with Radical Betty and I was missing Uber Kayak Woman who always loves to jump the kind of waves we had today. Beautiful beautiful swimming. Chicken on the grill via Dogmomster Grillmaster and then a beach walk and now I am sitting on the back deck (wearing a polartech jacket and long pants) watching the moon rise back in the swamp.

Good night,
KW

Wind me down

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Hot again today but not anywhere near as hot as yesterday. Easy, mindless coding all day. Somedays that’s just the ticket. Frees parts of the brain for more creative thought, kind of like sleep does. Walked down to the Oscar Tango after work and actually didn’t melt into a puddle in Maryfield Park or somewhere. Home watching faarflies in the Landfill back yard. Small load of laundry waiting to be switched to the dryer… …aaaand just switched. Need to get to bed early because this weekend is a Work Weekend. And the next week too although there’ll be a couple days of telecommuting and even a wee bit of vacay thrown into the mix. Whew! I am in desperate need of a little vacay…

Now that I’m a certifiable hillbilly, I wanna know whar’s mah cee-ment pond!

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Yeah, I know. Two things. 1) The Planet Ann Arbor is not the hottest place on earth (or even in the U-nited Snakes of Amercia). 2) I can just about betcha that everybody *on* the Planet Ann Arbor who has a smart phone has posted a screenshot of the temperature on some planet somewhere in the social media universe.

But it is hot! It is frickin’ hot! As npJane once commented on some frickin’ hot day some other decade. Or maybe it was a frickin’ cold day that time. I can’t remember. We get both and everything in between. What we are not getting this June is rain and since Black Thumb Banana actually has some things planted that are *thriving*, she is not a particularly happy camper.

I really don’t want a cee-ment pond here but I am wishing I had one of those old plastic KMart kiddie pools right now. Those things always made extreme heat kind of tolerable. Like the summer of 1988 when we went through about a month of 95-105 temps *every* day and no rain. A true drought. “They” aren’t saying that about this summer yet. Mouse emulated the heat wave by coming down with roseola and spiking temps up to 104 or 105 herself. In one of the more bizarre parenting moments I’ve experienced, I sat with her in one of those plastic pools to help her cool off.

Later on, I have good memories of biking around to various playgrounds with the beach urchins when they were elementary school age on hot evenings and then letting them bathe and wash their hair in the pool. And there was that very surreal night when Mouse and I were home alone on a horrifically hot Friday night. I sat with my feet in the pool. Mouse somehow had half a *tricycle* in the pool and Froggy was learning to drive in the Little Tykes car that I didn’t want the neighbors to give back to me. I wish I had a blahg back then. I wish I had a digital camera back then. I wish I had had the foresight to at least write about that whole episode for posterity.

100 is hot for here. Mid-80s is more the usual. It could be worse. This is actually a kind of a “dry” heat. There is actually a decent breeze, one that bears a hint of coolness. Usually when it is this hot around here, the humidity is high, the air is stagnant, and the Landfill feels like a swamp. I took that 100 degree screenshot on my iPhone as I was walking to the Plum Market in the late afternoon. I was maybe a little slower than usual but not that much. Maybe I am finally getting acclimated to heat?

Of course, I could always cave and turn on the Landfill’s relatively newly installed central A/C…

Note to self: Clean your oven and figure out what that funky smell is in the vicinity of the sink

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Dead rodent? Black mold? I do not know. It comes and goes. Yesterday morning, I fully expected to have to clean the whole area under the sink out after work (it needs it anyway). When I got home, I could not smell it. This afternoon? Sorta… I am trying to ignore it for the time being.

I am still clanked up about education today so move along if you aren’t interested in that topic. I assure you, all you will find in this space today are the rantings and ravings of yer fav-o-rite blahgger.

First of all, I know I am dreaming here but I think that there should be a requirement that all of the legislators who want to dabble in education, especially K12, actually spend some time getting their hands dirty volunteering (or teaching if they are qualified) in a classroom. I mean *significant* time, not just reading a book to a kindergarten class as a publicity stunt. As a *mom*, one who cared about her kids’ education, I have spent many many hours of my life volunteering in the public schools they attended. I have seen first-hand how difficult life is for our teachers and I can see how easy it is for children, especially those without a lot of support at home, to fall through the cracks.

So let me tell you about a few of my pirates. When the beach urchins were at Haisley Elementary, a bunch of teachers and parents dreamed up what they called the P.I.R.A.T.E.S. program. Volunteers were paired with students who struggled with reading to read with them on an individual basis once a week. We could help them read or read to them. There were no metrics surrounding this program (that I know of), the idea was that these kids were identified as needing some extra attention.

Of course I volunteered for this. I started reading to Lizard Breath as soon as she was able to sit up and make the connection that my words were explaining the pictures in the book. Mouse’s Train Ride. I think she was about six months old and I can still remember her hyperventilating each time we turned a page. By the time she was four, I was reading The Wind in the Willows to her. I remember reading some parenting article in the newspaper one time that proclaimed that parents should read to a kindergartner a half hour a day. At that point in my life, I was lucky to get away with anywhere near as little as a half hour of reading. More like two hours, if Lizard Breath had her way. I continued to read books aloud to my children for years, well after they became competent readers. I would sometimes read while they ate breakfast and I will never forget reading The Indian in the Cupboard to three generations on the Moominbeach.

So, I got my first pirate, a first grader. She was excited to be pulled out of class to read with me (and sometimes Mouse if she wasn’t at nursery school). I don’t know what I expected but this cute, friendly little blonde girl, so much like my own children, didn’t seem to be able to read. Or sometimes even pay attention when I read *to* her. Once when Mouse *was* there, *Mouse* was paying more attention to the [simple] storybook than my pirate was.

The next year, the first-grade pirate I was assigned was interested in books when I read them but not that interested in decoding the words herself. She did tell me some stories of her own though, although they were not all that intelligible… Something about voodoo once. And another story about her uncle parking on a street in [New York City?] and getting shot? What? I know this stuff happens. But, despite the fact that this kid’s first language was English, I could not understand what she said. And she didn’t seem to be asking for help. Just telling a story.

One year, I had three pirates (that year did me in). These pirates were all in fourth grade. One of them was struggling to read but valiantly trying. One day she said something about having lunch at “Fred’s Place”. Say what? What the heck was Fred’s Place? Well, Fred’s Place turned out to be a group that somebody formed at the school for kids who had an addicted parent. I was the PTO treasurer at that time and man, did that group ever fly under the radar.

I can only remember one other pirate. It was the year I had the three. This kid? Her mother had a doctorate degree (yes, a doctorate) in education and this kid could not read. What is bad about that, you are asking? Kids from all walks of life struggle. Well. Because this mom did not seem to be around. She was off traveling around giving talks and yada yada and this young kid was struggling to learn to read *in fourth grade*. But also? Trying to date… Sigh…

I do not know what happened to any of these kids. My first two pirates were only in the school for a year. Who knows how many schools they have had to adjust to throughout their lives. Of course, none of us volunteers were told *anything* about the family situation the kids came from. I am only inferring things about that from what the kids felt free to tell me (and in the last case, the neighborhood scuttlebutt). But it was clear to me from spending time with these kids that no matter how much their parents loved them and tried to care for them, there were challenges.

Why do we think *teachers* can do it all? I am not trying to say that any of these kids would have learned to read earlier or at least easier if they had parents who had the time and the inclination to read to them like I used to read to my kids. I know that there are plenty of kids whose parents *do* read to them at a young age who still struggle when they get to school. None of this stuff is black and white.

Why can’t our wondrous legislators understand how much the success of our students depends on what is going on in their homes. I have never taken a standardized test that I didn’t ace but I do not think that evaluating our teachers should be based on those. Those legislators who think they have a handle on how to reform education should spend enough time volunteering in a classroom to realize that they need to help the *families* of those children who will inevitably fail all of those damned standardized tests.

I am sure that tomorrow I will regret something that I have written tonight. But here goes.

Good night,
kayak woman

Fiddling Looking at girls in bacon bikinis online while Rome America burns

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

I don’t know if I can write coherently about what I think is happening to public education in the Great Lake State. I have never loved the draconian Emergency Manager law that our wondrously nerdy governor managed to push through with his gang of tea-party-like conservative (misogynist (yes, really)) Repugs. I know that many of our school districts are in dire straits because of mismanagement by local school boards. I can understand why our governor (among others, even including me, sometimes) think that a more business-like approach to running the schools might result in bounteous budget surpluses instead of huge budget deficits. At last count, two of the school districts in the Great Lake State that have been taken over by emergency managers are now facing transfers to as yet to be chosen for-profit “charter” schools. All of the teachers are being laid off and will have to apply for new jobs with the new “charter” schools. Folks, these “charter” schools are *not* the kind of charter schools that are established by students, teachers, and parents collaborating to create a learning community. They are big businesses financed by folks who have [arguably] never spent one day *in* a classroom.

The public schools are *not* a business. The public schools exist to serve *all* children, even those whose families cannot afford to pay for their education. I mean those families who move from one horrible apartment to another or live in their car or whatever homeless shelter they qualify for at any particular moment. Maybe we cannot successfully educate all of these children but I think that we need to try. If we don’t, well, maybe some of them will survive and become successful on their own but others will “turn to a life of crime” (yes, that was so cliche that I had to put it in quotes).

I would be getting in well over my head to try to suggest a way out of this problem except to say that we need *incremental* change rather than the radical solutions that our wondrous governor and other governors around the country are forcing down our throats. Are the unions too powerful? I dunno. I have always had mixed feelings about unions but I think they are necessary so that people are treated fairly. Let’s talk to them. Teachers *do* need health insurance and retirement plans. How do we accomplish this without bankrupting school districts? I do not know but I think that making radical changes will only destabilize the schools. And that is not good for the students… … …

On teaching? I could never be a teacher. I would kill the kids! (Oh, not really.) I am a *very* good *coach* for people who are easily teachable. But so many of the children in even the “richest” of school districts (like mine) have so many needs. I don’t have the patience to deal with children who cannot, oh, I dunno, use a pair of scissors in kindergarten or think it’s okay to throw crayons in the toilet in first grade or… well, I do not even want to think about middle school here.

The Commander was a teacher. That was her third career, after being a (1) retail buyer / office manager and (2) moom (yes being a mother IS a CAREER). She taught “home-ec” classes, which were in the “vocational” part of our high school. She was teaching kids life skills. She got a lot of kids who were not on the “college track” and one of the things the principal asked her to do was to create a class on child care. Guess what? A bunch of senior football players decided to take that class because they figured it would be a blow-off class. And it may have been a blow-off class but they had a great time and that class turned out to be very popular through the years.

I was in high school when my moom began this career and I remember how hard she worked. Planning curriculum and grading papers sitting in the old red easy chair in front of the TV at night. Last summer, when I had to do the unmentionable, which was to move her to the Freighter View assisted living facility, the wonderful uber-nurse who checked her in to her apartment was a former student. One who remembered her and loved her.

To all teachers: I love you. You are doing one of the hardest jobs on earth. I hope you are being paid what you are worth… … …

Seeing red. Or yellow, at least…

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Boy oh boy, am I getting to hate driving. At least the kind of driving I have to do around here. I used to take the freeway to work all the time. Well, except when it was snowing or raining torrentially. I am lucky to have a choice of routes (and a boss who doesn’t expect me to punch a time clock).

Last Friday afternoon, there was [yet another] accident on one of the freeways that surround The Planet Ann Arbor. If you are not squeamish, you can click on this link to AnnArbor.com’s follow-up story today. If you don’t want to click, the gist is that a Ford Explorer traveling in the left of two lanes and driven by a mother with four of her own children and two teenaged step-children rolled over several times and the two teenagers died in the crash. Witnesses have reported that a Honda Odyssey with a temporary license in the window ventured into the Explorers lane and *hit* (sideswiped?) it but continued on. Nobody seems to know exactly what happened or where the heck the Odyssey is.

Honestly, there are too damn many vee-hickles on the roads and many of them are going way too damn fast. I can’t help but wonder if this was caused by an impatient driver who was trying to pass the Explorer on the right. Passing on the right is illegal in this state and it is dangerous. I cannot count how many times I have been in the left lane passing a slow vee-hickle *behind* a bunch of slow vee-hickles and some asshole gets sick of riding behind me, swerves over to the right and then tries to jockey back into the left lane in front of me just as I am actually *passing* the slow vee-hickle I’ve been waiting in line to pass. I dunno if that is what happened in that horrific accident but slow down people fer kee-reist!

I drive freeways all the time but somehow since The Commander died, I have not been taking the freeway to work. It is only a five mile stretch for me but the on-ramp is as scary as hell. It is a slow (*20* mph) merge and you cannot see what kind of traffic you are trying to merge with until you are literally *on* the merge ramp. Good luck if there are three huge semis chugging along in the right lane… I will take that stretch of freeway again but for the moment, I cannot do it. I cannot exactly explain why. Maybe because I don’t want to tempt fate…

I am seeing yellow on my dashboard but I am seeing red about a lot of other things. But we won’t go there tonight!

Reading Ivanhoe at the age of nine

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

I remember The Engineer absolutely cracking up when I told him that our mother read the book Ivanhoe at the age of nine. I don’t remember why she told me that little tidbit. I mean it was probably because I was acting like a smart-alecky little kid, even though I was a 30 or 40-something mother of two and systems analyst. But I don’t remember the exact context. And I don’t remember exactly why it was so funny to The Engineer and me. Probably because neither of us had ever read Ivanhoe. Although I did read it after that little episode. If she could read it at nine…

When I unearthed the artifact in the photoooo, I let out a wee little bit of a gasp. I am certainly not the first person on earth who has dealt with her parents’ estate so I know some y’all will recognize the little time warpy feeling of “Oh! I remember that!”. Because I do remember this little cross-stitched picture so well. I want to think that it was on the wall in my loverly dream bedroom back in the house on Superior Street but I’m not sure. I know it was somewhere. And I remember The Commander telling me that she had stitched it when she was, oh, I can’t remember… Three? Six? Nine? Oh, probably not three but I believe six is possible. After all, she read Ivanhoe at nine. At any rate, it disappeared from sight at some point, likely when the parents moved to the Dillon house. I was busy with my life and I forgot about it… until I was cleaning out The Comm’s dresser a couple months ago.

It’s so hard sometimes to know what to do with the things that my parents owned. There is stuff that’s easy to get rid of that I’m pretty sure nobody wants (exercise bike anyone?). There is stuff that seems to be destined for a particular grandchild. Mouse, as a fiber artist (among many other things), will likely end up with the thimbles from yesterday. I think Mouse is probably the only person in the family who actually *uses* thimbles. There is stuff that I like but cannot adopt because I don’t have room to store it. Or because I would kill it. Thank you to Lizard Breath and Dogmomster for adopting the houseplants. Dogmomster posted a wonderful photo on facebook showing how she had given a massive mess of African violets the space to breathe and thrive. THANK YOU!

Some things, like this little cross-stitch, fall into a gray area. In general I am in a flinging mode as you know if you are a regular reader. I have no plans to leave the earth any time soon but, when I do, I am not going to leave a mess behind. Also, I want to live a simpler life. Less stuff means it’s easier to clean and find the things I do need or value. But I will hang on to this little cross-stitch picture. Maybe my short-term strategy will be to take it up to the moomincabin and hang it up somewhere so others can look at it. And maybe it’ll just stay there until great big bugs take over our planet or whatever.

Odd that the cross-stitch has a green frame. I have been known to buy green frames. The first time I did so, I was kind of surprised at myself. It seems to be an odd color for a picture frame but I often think it works well… Who framed the cross-stitch? My mother? Or my grandmother? I dunno. Also, do I frame photos in green because it’s in my DNA or do I just subconsciously remember *this* frame? Or because it happens to work out well for the particular piece of art I am framing…

In which the 19th century collides with the 21st

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

I just googled the word “thimble” and the top search result is a web app called Mozilla Thimble, which allows a person to easily create a website… I’m sure it’s wonderful but the thimbles *I* remember are little metal cup-shaped doo-hickeys that fit over the tip of your finger and help you push sewing needles through fabric without making your fingertip look like it has been through a meat grinder. Like the ones in the pic except a wee bit less fancy.

I learned how to sew at a very early age and I am actually fairly proficient at it when I bother to put my mind to it. I even like it sometimes but these days I am focused on other things. I believe that The Commander tried to teach me how to use a thimble but I never quite got the hang of it and have always preferred to make my fingertip look like it has been through a meat grinder.

For whatever reason, I think that the last few years of her life, The Comm was worried that I would just dump all of the stuff in her house without looking at it. In a lot of ways she knew me pretty well but she obviously had no understanding of my affinity for mucking around with data bases. I tried to reassure her but… Well. I mean, there are some things we have gotten rid of without much remorse. A cheap “computer desk”. The 1980s-era electronic keyboard. My iPhone probably has a better one. The exercise bike! Seems like those things are fixtures in the homes of that whole generation! Heck, if I want to ride a bike, I will pay someone to fix up my old bike and I will ride it *outside* (hmmm)! Until then, I will continue to hoof it. Outside, thank you very much.

But her papers and her jewelry and her dishes and books and fiber arts stuff? S-l-o-w as she goes. I am well aware that there are important family documents around so I am sifting through paperwork literally one piece of paper at a time. Jewelry? Same thing. (None of the jewelry I am dealing with is worth *anything*. The few pieces that have any value are in the safe deposit box.) Anyway, I have been sifting through the costume jewelry all week. Some of it I remember, some I don’t. Some of it she actually documented with post-it notes. I’m photographing those along with the pieces they describe.

And then there are little surprises, like when I opened this little box (that was in a jewelry box) and found these thimbles inside. Given that The Comm labeled the box “Lathers”, I can only guess that they are from the 1800s. Her mother (my grandmother) was a Lathers before she married a MacMullan and The Comm was either given these or managed to snag them somehow (knowing The Comm, I suspect the second but who knows). I don’t think they are worth a whole lot. I almost think the *box* is worth as much as the thimbles. But who knows.

I never knew my grandmother Emily Lathers MacMullan. She was killed in a car accident (hit by a drunk driver) when The Comm was 15. That would be around 1936. By the time I came into the world in 1954, Bolette was my grandmother and she did a darn good job of grand-parenting for a woman who never had any children. But I wonder about Emily maybe now more than ever. I mean, it actually feels kind of funny to call her my grandmother. I guess that’s because I didn’t know her.

In the last weeks of The Commander’s life, when we knew that it was unlikely that she would recover, in the existential fog that surrounded us both amidst the constant sound of the oxygen machine, I admit that I frequently wondered if those folks over on the other side were watching me and I wondered whether they approved of me or not. And I wondered about Emily Lathers who landed over there way too young, before all of her children were grown up. The woman who gave birth to my mother back in 1921, when she was young and vibrant and happily running a household that included a husband and five children and at least one set of grandparents. A woman who I’m sure lovingly cared for her baby girl Frances (third child). Was she watching me? What did she think of me? Was I taking care of her baby all right? The answer to that isn’t simple. I tried to do my best but, well, that’s as far as I’m gonna go with that.

Hello? I started this blahg entry with the thimble pic and I was really just marveling at finding these interesting thimbles, which I am sure are not terribly valuable but they are certainly not going to get unceremoniously dumped either. Although I am a reasonably decent seamstress, the MacBook Pro in the background turned out to be more a tool of *my* trade (whatever my trade is) than a thimble so I thought that the photo was kind of cool.

Sorry, I didn’t exactly mean to head over into emo-ville but I am back now, so…

G’night!
KW

Okay. I am sitting in the Landfill backyard listening to all kinds of wildlife, mostly birds but also children. Watching bird mamas feed their babies in our birdhouses, bird fights, and rabbits. Where did all the blasted rabbits come from? (Yeah, I know where they came from <grin>.)

Meta-blahg

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I was emailing back and forth with my BFF (well, one of my BFFs, that is, I actually have a few and so does she) Sam the Archaeologist (not dog) about the restlessness (or it is ennui?) of a typical Thursday when you have a 9-5 type job. Among other things… … …

There are certainly plenty of Thursdays that I can’t think of anything to blahg about but yesterday I had a rather different problem. Actually, my poor little overworked brain was aswhirl with things to blahg about. Current events like Vagina-gate1. Ongoing issues that make me angry like our loverly governor’s relentless push to grab our public schools and sell them off to the highest bidder2. Philosophical conversations such as “Can women have it all?” Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Hint: The Atlantic.3. But after four solid days of intense design work and coding our hi-fidelity prototype (including wrangling some nasty old school javascript), my brain was fried. So I just opened up WordPress and started typing and what tumbled out was a bunch of blather about how stupid I was when I was young.

I wondered as I was writing it if it was TMI (“Too Much Information” for some of my readers who may not be familiar with internet abbreviations) but, in the end, I decided it was okay. Just some little bits and pieces of my life. I may have been an angsty, insecure, self-conscious teenager but that was only part of it. I also have memories of running around laughing hysterically or singing at the top of my lungs (and laughing hysterically) or whatever. With *friends*, yes I had them! Life is like a river, yada yada…

I decided to hit publish in the end because, as an adult, I think it is really stupid to play dumb to win friends but I am also not ashamed of that period of my life. I was just trying to figure out how to survive and I think other people do that kind of thing too (especially women) and I want it to stop and maybe if *I* admit to being such a nincompoop, young women who randomly find this blahg will realize that life can get better. Er, not that I think there are a lot of teenagers reading my blahg. *I* certainly wouldn’t have when *I* was a teenager. What the heck does that baggy old kayak woman know anyway?

Since I am meta-blahgging today, I’ll let you know that up until now, I was kind of on a roll but all of a sudden I have lost a bit of steam. Where am I? How do I?

Oh yeah. Blahgging every day? I dunno. Because it is a challenge. I could write a whole ‘nother meta-blahg about that but I won’t do it today.

1I have probably said enough about V-Gate already.

2Before you get your underwear in a bunch, I KNOW that was a GROSS over-simplification of the situation and slanted to boot. Many of our public schools *are* in dire straits but I am not convinced that any old charter school operator can fix our *systemic* problems. I am *not* against charter schools. But. More on this in some future blahg post.

3I read part of this article on my phone [at work] and saved it to instapaper. So I have not read it all yet. I do not think this woman has said anything new. What scares me is that we keep having to repeat these kinds of conversations.

What the heck was that snappy title I had just two minutes ago?

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

It’s Thursday and that is not my fave day in general. I don’t think I even noticed that fact until I became a daily blahgger. When I was a teenager and was beginning to comtemplate life, death, the universe, and everything in a more comprehensive way than I did when I was three (or I was at least better able to articulate my world-view better), we still lived on Superior Street, and Sunday night was my worst time. I’m gonna guess that it was because there was nothing good on TV and Bad Boyfriend wasn’t calling me. I didn’t have a lot of friends and hanging out with the parents was difficult for whatever the reason of the week was and so I was stuck in my room feeling bored and angsty about not being one of the popular kids. Dancing by myself to the Beatles, the Stones, Motown, the Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and who knows who else. Dreading yet another week of high school and having to dodge around trying to make myself look dumber than I was for fear that boys and popular kids wouldn’t like me but still getting decent enough grades to get into college someday…

Yes, I really did struggle with that stuff. I was an extremely angsty teenager living in a small northern town, born to a “prominent” family but also a humble and honest one, at least that’s how I think about my family. I finally ditched BB for good (after he had ditched *me* a number of times and then came back, I finally decided I was done with that and “grew a pair”). I eventually met another boyfriend who was actually *in* college and valued education. I straightened up PDQ and have aimed for straight A report cards throughout the rest of my life. And have [mostly] achieved them. And yes, I valued myself (at that time in my life) by what other people thought of me — especially boys. We all do that to an extent but I took it to an extreme. What the *heck* was I thinking? Well, and then I met the GG and 30 years later…

I do NOT recommend that any young woman (or man!) follow my path of trying to act dumb in a misguided attempt to find friends. Some of those popular people are arrogant assholes. Some of those popular people are nice, charismatic people who are just living in their own space and care but can’t adopt every miserable geek or mugwump that comes along. Some of those popular people are struggling just as much as all of us unpopular mugwumps but they have been “adopted” by some of the popular people, whatever variety. And umpteen bazillion variations on all of that. When I have [thank you facebook] reconnected with some of my “popular” high school co-horts, they have been absolutely wonderful to me and I can only say that it is *me* who has changed over the years. These folks have been wonderfully friendly to me (and the GG) and I love them.

Am I popular now? Hmmm… No, I am not. I have a small number of really good friends and they are mostly my friends because they didn’t give up on me. They somehow saw something in me that made me worth getting to know better. I may not have called them up for a second “date” because I just figured *they* were popular and *I* wasn’t. They realized that I am meeee and they sought me out anyway.

Oh, so (lost my train of thought) why is Thursday my worst day? Because it seems to be the day that I tend to run out of things to blahg! Today?

Smart bombs and shoreline dreams

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Boy was I cranky when I woke up this morning. It is hot and we are being hardcore about not turning on the central A/C. That’s one thing. Number two? Well, I woke up just a wee bit later than that batscope hour of the morning. It was about 4:30 or so. I used the Blue and Only Bathroom. I remember getting back into bed and thinking how comfortable I was and that I had another hour or so to sleep or just kind of ruminate about things. Listen to the birdies wake up. But then. beep beep beep Squreeeeeeeakchkchkchkchkch!!!!

Yes, it was our smoke rain alarm. Why why why why why why, when smoke rain alarms run out of battery, why why why why why do they have to run out of battery in the middle of the night? I badgered the GG. “Did you hear that????” “Mumble mumble huh was that the smoke alarm?” YESSSS!. There followed a bunch of scrambling and fumbling around and finally he pulled the circuit breaker on the alarms. Silence…

Again, I am not sure why, when all three of the bedrooms in this god-forsaken one-story house are squinched together next to the teensiest tinesiest little “hall” you could imagine, we need a smoke alarm in each one AND the “hall”. Especially since we rarely shut the bedroom doors. It’s CODE. Don’tcha know? Fer kee-reist, couldn’t we have some common sense here!

Please please please pretty please with sugar and a few cherries on top, can we PLEASE get some “smart” smoke alarms? It is 2012, fer kee-reist. If a smoke alarm can detect actual smoke, it can also detect when there is NOT smoke. And so why in the hell does it have to go into full-tilt boogie alarm mode when the battery runs out in the middle of the night? Why can’t it think to itself something like, “There’s no reason to alarm these peacefully sleeping people about the battery running out, so I will just wait until tomorrow morning to let them know.” Or it could email me that the battery is running out. Or text message. Or whatever. C’mon smoke alarm guys, make it happen.

Anyway, after a whole bunch of fumbling around by the long suffering GG (and just *try* to tell me that climbing up on a chair or whatever in the middle of the night is safe, liability folks), I was able to settle down again. Alas, not only did I go into REM mode… I went into Shoreline Dream mode! Giant seiche, 40-foot wave going *out* from shore, then anti-seiche, i.e., water was up over the bank and beach was totally submerged. And then a bunch of us were up in the lighthouse in front of Don / Katie’s to watch (roight). I kept running off to find my phone camera, which is really stupid because I *always* have my phone in my pocket. I woke up on time but that was only because of my clock radio. I hate when REM dreams happen just before I have to get up. Groggy cranky…

It is now the evening of the day and I am catching sight of faaaarflies outta the corner of my eye.

Love y’all,
KW

Meeting the neighbors without your underwear

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

We finally did meet the new neighbors, the ones who took over Hans’s house. I was worried just the other day about meeting them in a no-bra state. Today. Dun dun dun…

The Beach Urchins were *both* over here for dinner! I haven’t done regular family dinners for years. We had barbecued chicken and eggplant parmesan and pasta with pesto and salad. I did a lot of prep work ahead of time but I was still overwhelmed after working all day and I was wishing I had time to walk to the Plum Market after work but I was futzing around in the Landfill Chitchen, yada yada.

When you have adult daughters, sometimes you get a helping hand. Text message: “Moom, do you need anything from the Plum Market?” Well, yes, I do – a head of leaf lettuce and almonds and some pasta… Both kids: “What do you need me to do?” Well! Harvest some basil, make salad, make some balsamic viniagrette… And then… They were reluctant to leave me with the dishes. I shooed them out. Dish processing is one of my fave things to do in life.

Right at the end of dinner was when we met the neighbors. It’s always awkward (for me) to meet new neighbors. In this case, it was a ladder that allowed us to break the ice. Hans’s son had given the GG the ladder. We were grateful but we already have one, so the GG was resolved to give it “back” to the new neighbors. And so, there was our neighbor out on the garage roof *without* a ladder. The GG said, “Let’s go.” I was wearing two items of clothing at that point: 1) a tie-dyed t-shirt with a huge hole in one underarm and 2) shorts. No bra or underwear. Yes, goin’ commando. Fer kee-reist, it was 90-something degrees today and we do not have Lake Superior in the backyard. Or even one of those little KMart swimming pools like we used to get when the beach urchins were small. (Note to self…)

At any rate, the neighbors didn’t seem to care what I looked like and they didn’t ask if I had undergarments on or not. The Beach Urchins were there to kind of mitigate the situation. I figure it was something like, “the baggy old hippie-looking kayak woman can’t be all that bad if she managed to spawn those elegant young women.”

Good night, sleep tight,
Kayak Woman

The Jewelry Monologues

Monday, June 18th, 2012

So, I got about midway through the process of cataloging The Comm’s costume jewelry when I had the brilliant idea that maybe I should start sorting out my *own* costume jewelry. Adult ADHD anyone? Just to make it clear, that is some of *my* costume jewelry in the photooo, not The Comm’s. The Commander had nowhere near the gaudy taste that I do.

But I am sort of “over” jewelry. I was going to write about how much I liked it when I was a kid but I think I have always had a sort of a love / hate relationship with it. Jewelry I remember?

— A matching pink and gold necklace / bracelet set that I wore with my pink party dress when I was five. I still have it (I think).

— A birthstone (garnet) ring that my high school boyfriend gave me for my birthday once. I think I still have it. (He was good at picking out jewelry until he gave me a necklace with a cross on it. Um, not so much.) Er, that would be my *good* high school BF, not Bad Boyfriend. Lemme see, BB gave lent me exactly two pieces of jewelry while I knew him. One was his very own St. Christopher medal. Not being Catholic, I still dunno what that was all about. The other was this big ring with an Indian head (I think!) on it. We were “going steady” and you know that I wrapped yards of yarn around it so it would fit on my very small finger. Like all the cool girls did…

— A *loverly* Native American (or at least Native American style) choker I bought in my early 20s (no boyfriends at the time) in Ontario and wore it with the pride of an Indian wannabee. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be an Indian. Alas, my DNA got in the way of that dream. I have long since made peace with that.

— That same period of time was when I would attach a roach clip to one of my bib overall pockets. It held a loon feather. I was always a lightweight when it came to the usual contents of a roach clip and that’s a part of my life that I definitely do not want to explore in great deal on the Internet at this time, thank you very much. Hippie wannabee but those days are long gone…

— I was 37 when I got my ears pierced. For some reason, my parents seemed to think that getting your ears pierced when you were a teenager would bring shame upon the family. I know… I do not know why. “But moooooom, everybody *else* is getting their ears pierced.” Actually, “everybody else” *was*. Not me. Why didn’t I fight it? Probably because there was already enough going on what with Bad Boyfriend et al. I was smart enough to know that I had a pretty good ride going on there with those parents, even when we disagreed about something. Like, they had jobs and salaries and I didn’t. So I picked my battles. My kids? Ears pierced in grade school. If somebody I wanted to judge me as a bad parent, I did not care.

Whew! I let that last one get away from me. All I had intended to say was that I had a love affair with earrings for a while. I still wear them when I remember to, especially a certain pair of Radical Betty’s that I snagged when Uber Kayak Woman opened up her jewelry box after she died.

The truth is that I often feel encumbered by jewelry. Any bracelet that dangles in any way is out because I make my living hanging out on a computer and have you ever tried to type with bracelets jangling around? And earrings I forget plus, if they do not have silver waaarrs, they irritate my holes. Necklaces… Necklaces… Necklaces… I love them but I hate when they disintegrate. I once had a beloved necklace with lots of beads and fish and stuff. I wore it all the time at my old IT job, back in the Jurassic Age. I was wearing it the day some corporate hussy came in to deliver some sort of bad news and I was trying to stand there and listen respectfully when the string that held that necklace together suddenly decided to disintegrate and I started to rain beads and fish and my beloved work-friend Nader (where the heck are you?) jumped down and scrambled to try to collect them. It was a futile effort. I wasn’t going to try to put that thing back together. It was a cheap thing and there are probably about a billion similar necklaces down in Fla. It was kind of fun to watch the poor little corporate gal squirm a bit as her carefully rehearsed presentation got totally derailed by my wardrobe failure.

Anyway, I am getting rid of jewelry (mine, not The Comm’s (yet)). Anyone want some?

The title? Its my monologue but I also stand in solidarity with all of those folks (including one of my daughters) who traveled to Michigan’s capital today for a performance of The Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Capitol building. Eve Ensler, who wrote the play, proposed this event and flew out here for it and a number of female state legislators are in the cast. We have got to get rid of the Michigan Misogynists! Creating a better business environment for our state does not include legislating what women do with their bodies.

P. S. How could I forget the two gold chains I *always* wear. I guess because I have not taken them off in about the last 25 years. I had to check just now to make sure they were still there!

Obsessive-compulsive

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

What did I get done today? Hmmm…

— Harvested some basil from the pots in my back yard. Yaaaayyyy!!!

Played a bit of Bejeweled / Angry Birds / NYT xword / Cut the Rope, checked email / Twitter / Facebook / Google Reader.

— Ran my cute little Roooomba no less than THREE times in my front living room. Why? Because IT NEEDED IT! The first time I ran Roomba, she ran out of battery before she finished the room and I cannot tell you how much dust and fluff and scraps of flotsam and jetsam and cosmic debris and ugly old blonde-gray hairs I cleaned out of her. So, lather, rinse repeat and again, she ran out of battery before finishing the room. The third time was the charm and she finished up with her cute little victory song. (To which I *always* sing out, “yay!”)

Played a bit of Bejeweled / Angry Birds / NYT xword / Cut the Rope, checked email / Twitter / Facebook / Google Reader.

— Reorganized all of the stuff in the “Stuff that Needs to Go Back To The Moomincabin” “area” now that Lizard (and Dogmomster?) has transferred a few more [clean] towels and things back to me. Without The Commander up there as an ongoing cabin manager, we are going forward with a “Pack it in, pack it out” operating strategy and we are still working things out. Right now I think that *every* cabin towel is down here in Troll-land. Don’t get me wrong! I am greatly appreciative of the fact that I am sharing the place with a bunch of people who contribute in a *positive* way. People taking laundry home and washing it and pro-actively handing it off to the next person likely to travel to the moominbeach? Who the heck can complain?

Played a bit of Bejeweled / Angry Birds / NYT xword / Cut the Rope, checked email / Twitter / Facebook / Google Reader.

— FINALLY got sick of the overflowing scarf-hat-glub basket by the front door, looked it in the eye, took it downstairs, *washed* everything (that was washable) and left it all to air-dry. Current contents of the scarf-hat-glub basket? 1) Loverly Campmor kayak / sun hat and 2) rainbow-colored bumbershoot. Even managed to move my snow boots to a storage location of sorts.

Played a bit of Bejeweled / Angry Birds / NYT xword / Cut the Rope, checked email / Twitter / Facebook / Google Reader.

— Made myself get SERIOUS about organizing (again) all of The Comm’s papers and stuff. At least all of the stuff that is currently within reach. This has been an ongoing challenge even though The Comm was ingenious about organizing stuff. I am not quite so ingenious and I have the further complicating factor that I have TOO MUCH STUFF of my own, even with all the diligent flinging I have been doing. I have felt stymied about my flinging in recent weeks and I finally decided it was because I needed to make a more concerted effort to deal with The Comm’s effects. So I have given myself permission to take a mini-break from my own flinging…

In the old world — you know, like five years ago — I would’ve grabbed a pen and a notepad and started documenting all of her papers and other items. I would collect data about all of it to enter into a spreadsheet. I would’ve been thinking something like, “It would be so cool if I could photograph each of these things and attach the photo to the item’s spreadsheet row.” Except that… I am probably not an Excel super-user but I have been using it since it was Visicalc and I have done some pretty “sexy” things with it as the old-school geeks would say. Photos? Excel is not built for photos, at least not large numbers of them.

So… I got on the Internet… Hmm… There has to be something for the iPhone. And I found MyStuff2. And downloaded it for $4.99. And then spent the rest of the afternoon cataloging this and that along with photos of the items *and* their storage locations, etc. *And* I can email myself CSV files of my data [without the photos] that I can upload in Excel if I want. I love this app but I am just a bit nervous about my relationship with it. Will my enthusiasm run out? What happens if I put something in one storage location and then move it? Will I update the app? (Probably not.) But it’s a really cool app and we’ll see…

I know that I have GOT to get a handle on what I own. My stuff. Mom’s stuff. And it’s not like we own a 20-car garage full of luxury vee-hickles or diamonds or whatever. Most of this stuff is of *sentimental* value only. But I still have to go through it and make executive decisions about what to do with it.

Oh yeah, and then I played a bit of Bejeweled / Angry Birds / NYT xword / Cut the Rope, checked email / Twitter / Facebook / Google Reader.

And we are grillin’ steaks tonight. Way more than we can eat. Leftovers are always good!

Love y’all,
KW

Oh, the humanity

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

We were walking around with about a gazillion other people at the Detroit Eastern Market this morning and we were about to walk across I am not even sure which freeway on a footbridge where there were a whole bunch of people selling stuff and it was getting hot and the smell of patchouli (and manure) was in the air and I was thinking, “Oh, the humanity,” and then the GG said, “Oh, the humanity.”

I dunno why I have never been to the Eastern Market before. I’ve read umpteen bazillion articles about it over the years and one of my fav-o-rite blahggers, who lives over in the “Pointes” and is a *real* writer (who actually makes sense! <grin>), frequently posts a Saturday photo from the market (doesn’t look she was there today though). Me? Well, am I one of *those* people, you know, the snobby over-educated Planet Ann Arbor folks who don’t go “into the city” very often? Why would we? “It’s dangerous down there and anyway everything we need is here, yada yada.” Except I am not one of those people. For one thing, I am hardly over-educated with the flute performance degree I’ve never used and my community college “internet professional” certificate. Also, as much as I love the Planet Ann Arbor, I have one foot firmly planted up there in the Yooperland. It keeps me humble. (I think…)

Anyway, I have never been to the Eastern Market before. Despite the facts that I have visited relatives in the Day-Twa area all of my life and the GG and I long ago flirted with the idea of settling over in the northern burbs for a bit before we ended up in A2 (more on that some other time).

Now the beach urchin Lizard Breath is living over in Fabulous Ferndale and she and her 20-something friends hang out all over the area going to shows and bars and whatnot. And so an email went out: Who wants to go to the Eastern Market this Saturday? Me, the GG, Mouse (who was a *really* good sport about getting picked up at 7:30 this morning), Dogmomster, and Valdemort.

What did we ever do without text messaging? As our three vee-hickles converged upon downtown Dee-troit and parked in various places, we were storming each other with messages: “We are at such-and-such an intersection, where are you?” etc., etc., etc. Only Liz actually had any idea of where things were and, having lived in SanFran the last six years, she’s also a neophyte. We all eventually connected and spent a wonderful morning floating around like a big cluster of cats trying not to lose each other while taking everything in and trying to get our bearings.

So, what did we buy? Lizard Breath snagged a beauteous black coffee table at the antique store for something like $30. And a couple little cactus-y / succulent plants (Mouse too). I bought those for my kids against the protests of the vendor who seemed to think my kids should be buying *me* stuff (and of course, *that* brought a flood of thoughts into my head about my life with The Commander and how things [sorta] reversed the last few years but we won’t go into detail about that now or maybe ever…) The GG? 12-year-old cheese of course. I cannot remember if Dogmomster or Valdemort bought *anything* (besides breakfast). Me? Well. Sweet corn from O-haaaa-o (hey, it’s more local than Fla, not that there is anything wrong with Fla corn). Aaaannnnnd… Drum roll… This beauteous hicken. Yes, he is a hicken. Don’t ask. What is his name? I do not know yet…

I will go back to the Eastern Market again (and again (and again)) but I won’t go every weekend (that we are “home”) because I was *exhausted* [psychologically] by the time we got home in the early afternoon. We have our own [rather renowned] farmer’s market here on The Planet and we love to walk down there at 0-skunk-30 on Saturday mornings.

I dunno what’s on tap for tomorrow except for a run to the Jackson Road Meijer for stuff I can’t carry home from the Plum Market in a backpack. Yaknow, like toilet paper…

Goodnight and love y’all,
KW

P.S. Uh, we have new neighbors. They bought Hans’s house. I am sure they are wonderful but I am not quite feeling like I can hang out in my back yard without an, uh, bra, just in case we have a close encounter with them…

In which I use words that violate the Oscar Tango’s standards of decorum

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Why yes! The V-J word was used on numerous occasions tonight at the Oscar Tango. But I also used the BS word and the K-R word and probably a couple other mild swear words. The V-J word? It was bandied about with wild abandon. “And how is your vagina tonight?” After all, the V-J word is the offical term for a certain part of female anatomy. I do not think it is a controversial word in any way, shape, or form.

I hate to keep going on about the Michigan Misogynists but I am not sure if they quite know what they have done to themselves by spuriously banning a female state representative from speaking on the floor for using that term. “She was hysterical! yada yada”. I dunno. I watched the video of Rep. Lisa Brown speaking and she sounded angry but I don’t think she was out of control. I have witnessed people of the male persuasion get more out of control than that. Anyway, among other things touched on tonight was Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues (which I have never seen performed). Lo and behold, when I got home from the Oscar Tango tonight, I checked Twitter and there, big as life, was a link to this facebook page, announcing a performance of the monologues in Lansing, our loverly state capital, with the playwright in attendance. Of course our state representatives are on vacation until mid-July but I hope they are taking a note, as the theatre folks say.

Funny little digression. This noon, a bunch of us at work met up with a recently retired work friend at a park. And wouldn’t you know, we pushed two picnic tables together and the men all sat at one with the women at the other. Randomly. We made all manner of jokes about this and counted male and female folks as the numbers shifted throughout lunch. I heard not *one* person talk about yesterday’s debacle in the state house. We. Don’t. Talk. Politics. At. Work. It isn’t verboten. It’s just that we are geeks. We talk about non-work things but most folks have geeky non-work activities too. Very few politicos among us (and I am the neophytiest of politico neophytes). We respect each other for our knowledge, experience, and the quality of our work. There is NO disrespectful talk about anatomical differences in gender or presumed gender roles. That kind of stuff just does not fly. I know how lucky I am to work in an environment like that and I wish that every human being could experience the same conditions.

I doubt that I truly violated the Oscar Tango’s standards of decorum by using the BS word or any other mild swearwords that may have escaped my lips tonight. For one thing, it is a barrroooom and I am sure that the staff has witnessed far worse things than me talking about a bull’s pile of crap. Also, it is too loud in there for anyone to hear anything I might have to say (it is a barrroooom after all).

Lemme see… It is late and my own personal Friday night chimney has stopped blowing cigar smoke in the door at me. I adopted a beautiful rosemary bush that was left on my front porch tonight. I hope I don’t kill it. And a new adventure is in store for tomorrow. You are happy about that! It may well help me to move on from blahgging about the Michigan Misogynists.

Good night,
KW

Catch your dreams before they slip away

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Remember the MI HB 5711 from yesterday? It passed. Of course. I expected the Michigan Misogynists to pass it. They didn’t vote on all of it though and that’s a good thing. For now. And I am not going to go into the gory details on my blahg. What the Michigan Misogynists did do was ban a female representative from speaking for using the word “vagina”. There’s a video here. The speaker is Lisa Brown. She’s the second speaker and her use of the term “vagina” comes near the end of her speech. I wonder what word would have been more “decorous”? “Hoo-ha”, maybe? Pro-choice women of Michigan? Who voted the Michigan Misogynists into offce? Let’s send these misogynists to the moon (or just back home) in November! We can “create jobs” et al without inserting some weird Christian version of Sharia law.

Maybe this is anticlimactic but Henry? I love you but you count as one of my annoyances. Every “Mother’s Day” I go out and buy a couple of flats of multi-colored impatiens and plant them in big round pots. Just like The Commander used to do. And they always seem to flourish. Sometimes when we’ve been outta dodge or I’ve been neglecting them, they get to looking a little sad but a wee leetle beet of water works wonders within a day or two. This year? Oh my god. *All* of them went downhill in short order. I thought that either my black thumb was somehow working behind my back or that The Comm was messing with me from the other side. But then the GG noticed that it looked like my beauteous flowers were being nibbled. Henry? You are lucky you (and your family) are so dern cute.

On the other hand, I have basil and tomato plants in pots on my loverly patio and *they* seem to be doing fine, thank you very much with fingers vigorously crossed that they stay that way.

Shopping? My Mouse took me shopping today! I was mostly buying things for Mouse but I love shopping with a buddy and I love buying things for my kids. Really! I used to have shopping buddies. The Commander was one of the best. I mean, her first couple of careers were in retail and she loved to shop. I can shop for grokkeries on my own and I buy most of my clothes online now (really) but other stuff makes me hyperventilate. It’s been a long time since I have done any serious shopping with The Commander because in the last few years shopping was getting to be a challenge for her. But shopping never quite left her blood and I will always remember when she spent Christmas 2010 down here on The Planet and I took her to the Plum Market and there were a few times that she was so agog that I had to mitigate the all-too-familiar situation where an elderly person is blocking traffic. (Of course I did that over at Ace Hardware today and it was because I was trying to walk and text! I did apologize.)

Burning bras and other “feminist” adventures

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

I am cranky again today. Reason 1? (Pssst! The taaarrrr light is on in the Ninja again. I think we have a defective taaarrr(s).) Reason 2? I am frickin’ sick of traffic. Reason 3? You do not want to know.

But… Reason 3? Google “Michigan House Bill 5711”. You will no doubt find all manner of links. Jezebel calls it “batshittery”, which I agree with plus I love that word. I’m sure you will find a few lot of ultra-conservative folks out there who think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. (That’s what ah said. Bunny Bread.) I’m not gonna link to any of those news stories. I am trying to read the actual *bill* and interpret it for myself. Because I am trying [again] to understand exactly why the current crop of Republican legislators think that they have a *mandate* to mess around with a woman’s right to choose. If they are truly interested in “creating jobs” and improving the economy here in the god-forsaken Great Lake State, then they need to *focus* on “creating jobs” and improving the economy here in the, well you know where. Spending time trying to push through anti-choice legislation is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. Stick with the program and show some *real* progress on “creating jobs” and improving the economy here in the Great Lake State and you may gain some disenfranchised voters. I have voted for Republicans a few times in my life. I cannot do it now.

Feminist? I dunno. I am all for *everyone* — male, female, or somewhere in between — to have the same opportunities to choose from. When you are applying for a job, who the hell should care what gender you are? Or, if you are the primary caregiver for your child, who the hell should care what gender you are? I know that there are non-discriminatory laws in place that are supposed to handle this but I think we have a long way to go. And BTW, the conservative in me does not want to make more laws to make things equal. I want culture change. For a long time I thought I might see that in my lifetime. These days, I’m not so sure.

Okay. Feminist? All I will say is that I have never met a bra I didn’t want to burn! <grin>.

All that said, who is gonna watch Dallas tonight? I never missed a Dallas episode back in the early 1980s. Who shot JR? When Lizard Breath was a baby, she had a Fisher Price person with a big cowboy hat and she referred to him as JR. Apparently there is a new Dallas with some of the old actors. Larry Hagman anyone? He’s 80! Will I watch it? I dunno. I kinda want to but I’m not sure what channel it’s on or if I have that channel (amongst the bazillion channels I do have (and mostly don’t want)). And I think it is on at 9:00 PM. Will I still be awake? Maybe…

Are y’all gonna watch new Dallas tonight?

A tale of seven (or more?) sewing musheens

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Before I get to yer daily dose o’ blather, thank you to Mac and Our Northern Correspondent Paulette (see yesterday’s comments) for setting me straight about the rail in yesterday’s photoooo. It seemed crazy to me that something like that could migrate all the way over from the Back Bay. I do remember the Stevens’s lighthouse-style boathouse and being sad that it burned down. My memory isn’t clear about any rails being involved but I was very young then and it rings a bell that this is the correct explanation for where that rail came from. Thank you both.

Okay, I have been awash in confusion about sewing musheens all day. This is not really the appropriate venue to go into why. All I will say is that my mother was a trained seamstress and accounting for and appropriately distributing sewing musheens is part of my life right now. But not all of the sewing musheens I have been thinking about today belonged to The Commander…

Without further ado:

  1. The beauteous old black Singer. The one with the gorgeous wood cabinet and the fancy gold decorations all over it. I don’t have any pictures of it but you’ve probably seen one somewhere. Maybe your grandmother’s house or a Normal Rockwell illustration. My dad bought that sewing musheen for The Commander back when they were newly married and rattling around the southwest while he taught Army Air Corps recruits how to fly airplanes during WWII. I can remember The Comm sewing stuff on that thing throughout my whole childhood and I made a few loverly (or sometimes not ;-)) outfits for myself on it. This one has been at the moomincabin for years and I am reluctant to do anything with it for a while.
  2. The 1960s Singer — *not* black with gold decorations. I can’t remember why she bought this one. Does it have a zig-zag stitch? I think so but I can’t remember. It was a good musheen though and I remember using it to sew clothes… I have found a home for this musheen. It is old but The Comm took good care of it and my hope is that it will live on for while at least.
  3. The Comm’s serger… I don’t know what to do with this. I will probably “adopt” it for the moment but I’m not sure I will use it.
  4. My old Singer featherweight. Cute little black Singer that I sewed lots of stuff on. The Commander bought me this one when I was in high school so I could have my own sewing musheen and not use hers all the time. It was wonderful. Alas, there came a day when I bought a new musheen and after years in the dank dark gray-green greasy limpopo Landfill Dungeon, I am not sure that it will ever be usable again. I am sad about that.
  5. My Viking, the basic musheen that the GG bought me when I decided I needed something that could do a zig-zag stitch. Uh, basic sewing musheens do zig-zag (and probably more) now. Also, was the Singer feather-weight acting up? Because I had Grandma Sally’s White over here for a while. She definitely wanted that back though and so the Viking. Which has had a *lot* of use! But not recently as I have shifted my focus to de-acquisitioning.
  6. Mouse’s Viking, the basic sewing musheen I bought her when she was in college. How many college students do you know who have a sewing machine and a *spinning wheel* in their dorm room?
  7. Dogmomster’s serger. Why did I include that? Because she gave / loaned it to Mouse a few years back.
  8. My dream musheen: A couple of years ago, for about a week, I was in love with a fancy sewing musheen at our loverly Viking store that would do musheen quilting and I dunno what else. Maybe wash the dishes? I squelched my desire. It wasn’t hard to do that because the dern thing cost something like $2500! It was a good thing, because not too long after that, my de-acquisitional phase began.

So those are the sewing musheens that I know and love. And then there are the looms and the spinning wheels… Not tonight.

Family mythology

Monday, June 11th, 2012

First of all, I totally stole this photooo from Lizard Breath. I *have* an almost identical photooo somewhere but I cannot find it.

Now that I have disclaimed that particular fact (there are more to come), I have no idea what this thing is. It kind of looks railroad-related to me. How ’bout you? The first time it surfaced was in late summer 2007. In the span of about 24 hours, I bought my first iPhone, did a whole bunch of errands in an absolute downpour, picked up Uber Kayak Woman over at Metro and drove us north to the beach. The photooo I can’t find [easily] was one of my early iPhone photoooos. The Commander and I had walked down to Our Northern Correspondent Paulette’s end of the beach and there it was sticking out of the sand. (After only a few years, The Commander was not able to walk the beach any more and then even get down to it…)

What is *that*? Is it a piece of rail? Could it have somehow migrated all the way over to our beach from the Back Bay, where there was once an active railroad trestle? Strange things wash up on beaches. I will never forget when The Engineer walked down to “The Pond” (near where the “rail” is) and found a “loverly” old drawer-shaped wooden boat submerged in the sand. A reclamation crew was quickly scrabbled together and we liberated it and painted it yellow (or was it yellow already?). He christened it “The Top Drawer” and we all had great fun rowing it around despite the fact that it was always just a wee bit leaky. And square. Maybe not the best shape for a boat?

Anyway… That was then and now there’s this rail-like thing. Whether this is a rail or not, it got me thinking about the old trestle that crossed the Back Bay from Bay Mills to Brimley. As family mythology would have it, my grandmother used to have to walk that trestle from her family’s home in Bay Mills to school in Brimley. As family mythology would have it, when a train was coming along, my grandmother would have to climb over the side and hang on, waiting for the train to pass by. Given the geography of the area, I doubt that most trains were moving very fast going across that trestle so maybe that was considered safe in those days. Nowadays? Faced with having your kid walk across a railroad trestle — over water not less — every soccer mom (and even me) would saddle up their mini-van and drive their kid to school, even though it might be five times the distance around the Back Bay from Bay Mills to Brimley. But this bit of mythology happened in the early 1900s and I don’t think too many people had automotive vee-hickles then, especially not in the yooperland.

I am calling this mythology because I certainly wasn’t around when my grandmother was going to school and, by the time I was born, that trestle was long gone and all I can do is report what my parents told me umpteen gazillion years ago and I am probably mangling that. By the time I landed on this planet, Bay Mills was largely vacation homes and even though we would sometimes drive over there, it was not usually that exciting a drive and my main memory of the Back Bay was of a guy named JB who was a friend of one of my cuzzints driving a fancy boat (hydrofoil? hydroplane? I can’t remember) from there into our bay when the lake was calm enough for him to do that.

Grandma would’ve lived in Bay Mills way before she married my grandfather and they and a couple of friends bought the moominbeach. I can remember my dad sailing or canoeing me around our bay and showing me the old cribs (submerged rock docks) and telling me stories about what it was like back in the 1800s. Not that *he* could even remember that but he was closer in age to those who could. I can’t present this story as the truth. I think there are probably elements of truth in it. But I don’t know what and how much is true.