Archive for October, 2012

Take Yer Froog Ta Werk Day!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Ah don’ waaanna pickle…

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

This photo is *not* from this morning. I don’t think we saw any shred of that orb the entire day. Seems like it was just the other day I wrote about a rather apocalyptic-looking morning. This morning was worse. This morning was so bad that I bagged my 0-skunk-30 walk. High winds were blowing tree branches down (and my loverly ‘hicken, who should probably come inside for the winter). Water and ice pellets and I dunno what else were coming out of the sky. I *could* have dressed for that kind of weather but I decided not to be a masochist. Turned out that WWWD’s wife also bagged her walk. I think we both made a wise decision.

I knew it was windy but I didn’t fully grasp *how* windy until I parked the Ninja by the pond at work. And couldn’t open the door… Okay. I threw all my weight at it, gathered up my gear, started across the parking lot, and got blown sideways. Really! But how could that be? When I had driven in a few minutes before, my buddy Louie-Louiiii was sailing across the parking lot in front of me. Then I realized that he had been moving in a direction perpendicular to mine. He had a tailwind.

It’s been a horrible cold, raw kind of day but we are way out here at the tips of Sandy’s tentacles so I can’t complain. Power outages were only momentary at the Landfill and by late afternoon, the wind had died down considerably.

And yes, I am late with this as some have pointed out [wink]. I am late because *after* work, instead of coming home and crashing early, we headed downtown, ate at the Oscar Tango and… drum roll… went to see none other than Arlo Guthrie in concert at The Ark! I am not the best concert-goer (I don’t like to sit) but I decided I could sit for Arlo and I could and it was wonderful. Well, it was wonderful except for the woman next to the GG who was not feeling well and kept leaving. She looked awful and I hope she feels better soon. I also hope it wasn’t anything contagious. On the upside, nobody put on deoderant behind me. Right there in The Ark, I mean.

Anyway, I turned into a pumpkin about three hours ago but maybe that’s okay. I won’t need a costume tomorrow.

This land was made for you and me.

Maybe I’ll be a dangling crane (or Zaphod Beeblebrox… … …)

Monday, October 29th, 2012

What are you going to be for Halloween? I know somebody who’s mother sewed a loverly tiger costume for her once.

Oops. There were a couple of problems with that. One is that this costume had a hat. With ears, of course. Did this child like to wear hats? Noooo waaayyyyy. I will never forget the day it was 10 degrees with blowing snow and Mouse was about nine months old. I got the beach urchins all bundled up for a run to the Westgate Kroger. I got them out of the car at Kroger and by the time we were at the door, she had pulled her hat off. And yes, I was judged. Typical Planet Ann Arbor busybody: “Why isn’t your baby wearing a HAT?”

A worse problem? I had not chosen the correct aminal (intentionally misspelled) for the costume. I did not know that at the time. At the age of 18 months, when this photooo was taken, this child could talk. She was capable of saying things like, “Cookie could I please baby” and “Would you please read this book to me” with perfect enunciation. What she could not quiiiite pull together yet was, “I am not a tiger, I am a MOUSE!” By the next summer, she was able to articulate her identity in no uncertain terms. We arrived at the moominbeach and my uncle very innocently asked, “And this must be [insert birth name here].” The emphatic retort from the then two-year-old was, “No this is *not* [insert birth name here]” (without even looking at him). And then, “No [insert younger 2nd cousin’s name here], that is not your shovel. *I* was using it.” Yes, I picked my battles with this child.

This long preamble may have embarrassed my competent, independent adult child but the post is really about me. The LSCHP has decided that we are going to have a Halloween luncheon on Wednesday and we are all encouraged to wear a costume. I think there will be a contest. I am certain that I won’t win it. I [of course] don’t really care if I win it. But I do feel the need to have some kind of costume and where is my good old Aurora Borealis costume when I need it? Alas, I threw it out a couple years ago. It was disintegrating.

Last year, The Commander was getting settled into Freighter View and she called me in need of a costume of sorts for a Halloween celebration. I knew that she didn’t need much. Some of the people at FV have forgotten about Halloween and/or aren’t comfortable wearing anything but what they are used to wearing. But The Comm was excited about participating and I wanted to help her with that. I sent some fancy pieces of fabric that she could drape wherever she wanted to. And The Beautiful Jan provided a hat.

After Halloween, The Commander became a frequent flyer to the hoosegow and things went downhill and I think Jan got her hat back. I *remember* taking the fabric back to The Planet. Can I find it now? Noooooo. I know that I didn’t throw it out.

So, I am not sure what I will eventually end up presenting myself as at our Halloween party. My team went to Woldemort today to pick up some party supplies. We are systems analysts and even though we love parties and costumes and stuff, we are kind of more interested in just doing our work. We’ll see what I end up with as a Halloween costume. You never quite know…

P. S. The tiger brightened up considerably when she realized that if you dressed up in a tiger costume and went door to door yelling “trick-or-treat” “shoe on”, people would give you candy.

Afghans and M&Ms

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

It started with an afghan. One of The Commander’s many friends (I’ll call her M) gave her a hand-crocheted afghan for her 90th birthday. It is a beautiful afghan but one of the “rules” I have made up is that when a person dies, special gifts to that person need to be returned to the person who gave them, assuming that person is still around and can be found. M is alive and well and she lives a few miles down the beach from the moomincabin *and* we are facebook friends! Still, getting that afghan to her was an ongoing challenge. We are both very active and travel a lot and…

This weekend, M was here on The Planet Ann Arbor! She and her best friend (who I will get to in a minute), were going to a concert and staying downtown at the Campus Inn. Did I want to meet them for breakfast on Sunday? Well, yes I did. Except… I was stunned when she told me her best friend’s name and it turned out to be none other than my college freshman music theory teacher! Oooohhhhh…. So, could I do this? This woman was a *wonderful* teacher and I *loved* music theory and I’m sure I got a 4.0 in that class (actually I did in most classes). I remembered her *very* fondly. The problem is that I don’t remember *myself* all that fondly at that time of my life. I’d prefer not to go there. Maybe I will when I am 90. Or maybe not. Definitely not now.

I gave myself a pep talk. 1) She *was* a wonderful teacher and I knew that I would be able to tell her that without lying. 2) I was sure she wouldn’t remember *me*! I only had her that one year. She taught squintillions of students and I didn’t finish my college career at that school. Why *would* she remember me? I was right. She was still as lovely a person as I remember. I gave M her afghan and had a wonderful time.

Another odd experience today was when another facebook friend messaged me to ask why animated, noisy(!), pop-up ads were showing up on his feed. Did I know how to get rid of them? This friend is a highly intelligent computer-savvy person but facebook is not the most user-friendly web service. I didn’t know what was causing his annoying problem (I didn’t exactly know why he was asking me except that I was showing up as online in facebook chat) but in looking around at the settings, I discovered that a whole bunch of facebook apps that I have *never* knowingly installed were hanging out there. Bubble Witch Saga? No thank you. I disabled all of that crap except the ones *I* installed — like Twitter and Hipstamatic, etc. He did figure out the problem and it was an app and I am glad not to lose a facebook friend because of an intrusive facebook app. Facebook, take a note.

And then. What did I do this afternoon? Well, it was a relatively slow day. But I *did* sorta get ahead with the whole meal-planning thing that I have been struggling with for years now. No point in crowing about that though because the next couple weeks will probably blow it all to hell. I was casting about for things to sort out, throw out, recycle, whatever. Then I remembered the two big garbage bags of “textiles” in the dungeon. Last time we went north, my “boss” (aka The GG, erp) hinted that it might be good to get the “textiles” out of the moomincabin garage for the winter. And so I threw all of those textiles into two big garbage bags and somehow they survived a rainy trip down the I75 SUV Speedway in the Snowbilly Trailer.

After nitzing around for most of the afternoon — I didn’t feel like sorting thru paperwork, I didn’t feel like dealing with all those damn utensils, yada yada — I finally headed down to the dungeon and… I saw those two garbage bags. Okay, I will sort the textiles today. I threw a significant amount of fabric out (ducking from lightning bolts). I do know fabric well enough to know what to keep and what not to. I have my own blasted collection, after all. I did save a few beautiful silks and things. I kept all of the tablecloths and placemats and napkins and things. I won’t even try to detail everything tonight. What is in the photo is stuff that The Comm wove on her loom. I was confused at first. The three in the photo do not match anything else in the collection. Then I realized she was probably experimenting. I remember The Comm using the loom when I was very young but I know that us kids and then her teaching career, not to mention her many other interests, kept her from continuing to weave. Or maybe she just didn’t want to bother with looms any more…

And that’s the gist of it all. We don’t all know what want to do when we are young. Maybe we are really really really good at something (like I was with music (and math)) but then our lives twist and turn in ways we can’t predict and we end up doing something we never expected to do. In my case, I have a career that didn’t exist when I graduated from college.

Pushme Pullyu on a No Politics weekend

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Lemme see… I thought it was gonna be one of those not-very-satisfying days of pickity little tasks and prodjects (intentionally misspelled). Instead, I am somehow feeling as though I actually accomplished something.

Landfill Chitchen? Two grokkery bags full of extra canned goods and other non-perishables ready for donation. Clean refrigerator. Also cleaned much of the chitchen.

Moomincabin… Dumped all of the 30-year-old herbs / spices and washed the containers. Okay, not all of that stuff was that old but most of it has been around for a while, surviving many a winter of 20-below zero temperatures. Some would say that was a wasteful thing to do. Others would say that herbs and spices and things are better the “fresher” they are. Not that they are all that “fresh” if you buy them pre-packaged at the grokkery store. For whatever it’s worth (and that’s probably not much), I am in a minimalist mood about herbs and spices. How long have I had that allspice and how many times in five years does someone actually use a half-teaspoon of it? Also, nobody around here is demanding spaghettios shi-shows every five minutes any more, so I have gotten just snobby enough about food that I prefer to use fresh herbs (I mean with leaves and whatnot) when I can. I have a rosemary bush (tree? what?) and basil plants were one of my few gardening successes over the summer and I can also get that stuff at the grokkery store. It was time to regroup and rethink the herb / spice situation at the moomincabin and so I did, contemplating it all while washing the containers…

Besides all that, Halloween is next week and that means The Holiday Season will be upon us before I can spin around about three times. And *that* means it is time to do a serious refrigerator cleanout. I did that today and I have already cleaned the oven. I will probably do both of those things again. It’s not like we entertain a lot during the holidays. I work and this year I have am almost out of paid time off already so… Still, stress-free holidays do not include dredging into the depths of the refrigerator for ingredients.

On down into the Landfill Dungeon… Dun dun dun… If you are one of my five readers, you may remember that I posted a photooo of this table largely empty except for a couple of baskets. And then… I hauled a whole bunch of crap dining / kitchen utensils down from the moomincabin (and The Commander’s house) and here it is in its full glory. This stuff is really hard to sort out. I don’t really think we need six spreaders but I waver on which of those six to donate (if no one else wants them, that is…). Knives… We have a shit-ton of kniffies. Kniffies are hard to get rid of, in part because *everyone* has their own special kniffie and I do NOT want to get rid of the one kniffie that somebody always counted on being there. I know this from experience. There is one kniffie at the Houghton Lake Group Home that I love beyond distraction. It’s just a crappy old cheap kniffie, nothing special. But I have been using it forever, since before the new place was built and although not everybody puts it away in the same place, I always find it eventually.

I was thinking about knives and herb / spice containers and I came up with an epiphany. I won’t bore you with the details but I think I know what I want for Christmas. Me, the woman who has everything, and I really do. I am so blessed in my life that I have more stuff than I need. I do not need anything more. But sometimes I want to reorganize things and I may need some help with this one 🙂

And so, I was down there in the dungeon and Rooomba was running and I heard her sing her sad song. What? I galumphed up the stairs and it turned out that *Froggy* had knocked his tripod over and poor little Roooomba got stuck trying to traverse him and his tripod…

My big success today is that more stuff went out than came in. Or was at least staged to go out. And as much as I love to drive, I did not drive my beloved Ninja or any other automotive vee-hickle anywhere today. I think that was a win.

Apocalypse morning

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Seems like every October there comes a morning like this one when the sun contemplates whether or not it wants to bother to make an appearance. I was up early and walked in rain, wind, and dark. It was garbage/recycle/compost day and a bottle collector was making his way down my street with a garbage bag slung over his shoulder, checking the bins for returnables. When I returned to The Landfill, it was still pitch black and I was soaked through to the skin. Yes I had an umbrella but it was of marginal help in the wind.

It was so black I had to use my iPhone flashlight to locate matching work clothes without disturbing the GG, still dead to the world. A parade of garbage trucks, lights flashing, mechanical arms in motion, broke the spell for me. Life was obviously going on and I went off to work. Still, our parking lot was sparsely populated and people straggled into work in various states of stupefaction mumbling about zombies and things.

I am not upset by dark mornings like this. We have had a lot of bright, HOT, dry, sunny days in the last six months, including a good bit of Indian Summer this week and I kind of enjoy a good old dark, rainy October morning. I’m not sure I can say that my work day ever totally revved up into anything more than TGIF but I did get a lot of pickity ancillary work done and the sun eventually rose although it didn’t bother to show its face until the late afternoon when I was walking downtown…

…to the Oscar Tango, where I ran into Trogdor the Burninator and let me just say I wish he had been talking about trailers tonight because I was not at all up for any buzness bizness convo tonight.

It may have been apocalyptically dark this morning but we’ll be back on Eastern Standard Time in a little over a week and then we will have a bit more light in the mornings, for a while at least, although I will be seeing the sun starting to set as I drive home from work. By December I will be used to dark in the morning and late afternoon and I will be loving it. That’s why we have Christmas lights.

After dinner at the OT we walked down Main Street past The Ark and I think we bought tickets to go see Arlo Guthrie there this coming Tuesday! I think it was my idea. I hate going to concerts. What could I have been thinking… [wink]

Yuck. (Don’t read this if you are faint at heart)

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Seriously, do not read this is if you are faint at heart.

Early this afternoon, a city utility crew ventured into a “ditch” over on Plymouth Road. They were looking for a fire hydrant. What they found was a crashed car and a not-very-recently-dead body. As in, they couldn’t initially tell if the body was male or female. Full details are not available yet but it was a 29-year-old man. A year older than my daughter. I am wondering who he was. Apparently, he drove his car off the road into a ditch and had the terrible luck to end up in a situation where no one could see him. For I dunno how long. It sounds like he maybe (?) crawled out of his car. He must have had a cell phone. Why didn’t he use it to dial 911. Was his cell phone still in the car? Mine probably would be. But maybe he couldn’t get back into his car to get his phone… I don’t wear my cell phone when I drive. Maybe I will start.

So, who has been missing this young man? Did his parents (I may be wrong but I’m gonna guess he didn’t have a wife or children) report that he was missing? I am obnoxious with my kids. Please lemme know when you get wherever. [They also ask me to report safe arrival.] This is why. When you are 29 (or 50-something), you are allowed to live your own life but people do still care about you. I spent a lot of years driving back and forth from college to the Yooperland in sometimes absolutely horrible conditions, snow and black ice and whatever. We did not have cell phones in those days and, if we wanted to call our parents from the road, we relied on pay phones at Amoco stations or wherever, which sometimes worked but often did not. I think that’s one reason I still hate telephones so much. It is easier now that we all have iPhones. Sort of… In the last years of The Comm’s life, she still wanted us to call when we got home safely. As obnoxious as that was, she really wanted to know that we were still alive. Anything to the contrary would be be devastating.

Oh Can[anan]ada

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

I know what I want to write about today but yesterday I promised myself that I would stay away from That Topic for the duration. I won’t change your vote and you definitely won’t change mine, so what’s the point?

I am not moving to Cananananada any time soon. Not because I don’t like Canada. I love Canada. I have a whole set of ancestors who did move there back in the mid-1800s from Scotland. Eventually some of them crossed over into the USA, which is [partly] how I came to be born in this country. I grew up on the Canadian border and I can see Canada from the moominbeach. I loved going to Canada as a kid. I remember walking onto the ferry to go to Canada and walking up and down Queen Street to shop at Eaton’s or The Textile Shop and eating pastries at The Girl In Red. After the International Bridge opened, we would often drive over to Churchill Plaza to eat at the Chinese restaurant there. None of us had a whole lot of experience with anything resembling Asian food but we loved it and I remember that my grandma Margaret (of Scottish heritage) used chopsticks for the first time as if she were a pro. The rest of us asked for spoons… Gotta scoop up that sweet and sour pork and rice, roight? We tried to make that dish at home but somehow it wasn’t the same.

I was doing email and whatever this afternoon and NPR was running in the background. What caught my ears was “Kalamazoo College”. Both of my kids graduated from “K” and, by the way, it is pretty hard not to graduate within four years at K unless you are not with the program. Fortunately, both of mine were with the program. NPR was interviewing a young woman there (a first-year) who said that she would explore the idea of moving to Canada if Romney won the presidential election. She wasn’t a stupid young woman at all but…

There are many reasons to move to a different country. If you don’t have enough to eat and there is no way for you to get enough to eat, even though you have a marketable skill, moving might be a good choice. If people are raiding your house at 3 AM to drag you in to some kind of detention center (or maybe just “disappear” you), moving might be a good choice. If you are marrying a Canadian or think you will have a better career there, go for it.

Moving there because Romney might win? Hey, I don’t want Romney to win either. I have some very serious concerns about Romney and the many Christian conservative misogynists who seem to be intent on taking over the GOP. But I am not going to move to Canada if Romney (ugh) wins (even though I *love* Canada and some of my ancestors came from there). I am gonna hang out here and try to help figure out how to get rid of some of the odiously extreme participants in both parties. And I don’t view Romney as an extremist, more like an empty suit who panders to whatever audience he happens to be talking to (or over or through). If nothing else, I *will* vote. Will you?

I guess I didn’t really stay away from That Topic. Sorry.

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

Liiiv-ing in a material plutonium world and I am a material plutonium girl

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

I’ll spare you the gory details of what I was doing 28 years ago today. Yeah, 28… Yikes.

I single-handedly invented childbirth, don’tcha know >wink< Me and my cuzzints who had their first babies the same year. (We were born the same year and had our first kids the same year.)

I’m sure we were insufferable the following summer. Labor labor labor. Feeding feeding feeding. Sleeping [not]sleeping [not]sleeping. Poop poop poop (poop poop poop (poop poop poop)).

It was a fun summer and all of the grandmothers and others who went before us doted on us and our babies. I’m sure they were winking at each other, “just you wait.”

I will say that I was as healthy as a horse, as they say, and I was out hiking around the neighborhood with the GG the afternoon before my baby was born. I mean hiking, not just shuffling around. Still, in hindsight, I knew something was up and that is all I will say.

Maybe 12 hours later, maybe less, I was holding my newborn baby.

They did not put her in a “dirty old paper bag”, like the one I was apparently presented to The Commander in, in a War Memorial Hospital hallway, if I have it right…

She was my first baby and, although I have always wanted to have children, I am not really a baby person. I did not babysit on anything approaching a regular basis, I hated when I was forced strongly encouraged to volunteer in the church nursery, and I had never changed a diaper.

I was an awful kid Really! The Commander would often tell me she hoped I had 12 kids! I would snottily respond that I would let them do whatever they wanted to do whenever they wanted to do it.

12 kids? The idea actually enticed me as a small child but I think it had more to do with inventing characters with my own chosen personalities.

Fortunately I came back down to earth by the time I got into my chosen child-bearing age range and stopped at two, which is pretty much the number I could handle.

The two children that I had have been the best kids on earth. For me, that is. I know that your kids are also the best kids on earth.

I never had anything more than momentary issues with either of my kids the entire time they were growing up and now they are well into their 20s and so I am on the edge about posting photos of them on the internet. Maybe this is the last birthday I will do this kind of thing…

The last photooo is from Lopez Island. Missing that place…

Sound bites

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Today’s very small triumph over life was untangling a certain northern utility bill kerfuffle. I won’t give you the gory details except to say that the old gal could certainly be a piece of work >wink< All’s well that ends well and I am blessed to have relatives who keep an eye on our family’s property when we’re not there.

I do not think I can watch the debate tonight.

If a certain candidate “wins” the debate by lying etch-a-sketching and interrupting and talking over everybody and their special friend from Zephron III, I think I will go into hibernation for the duration.

If a certain candidate wins the election, I will move on but I will have my war paint on. You know the kind. And I will burn my damn bra. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to do that anyway.

I shouldn’t have to do that stuff in this century. Restricting a woman’s access to contraception and choice will only put more poor people (and their children) onto welfare. And it will likely drop some middle-class folks off the ledge down into the “poor” category.

This candidate says he won’t do any of that stuff. But he is lying. States will still be able to enact restrictive laws and he will no doubt appoint conservative supreme court judges.

Maybe if more people would spend just a wee bit less time watching football or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and at least listen to the sound bites throughout the campaign instead of waiting until the last month or so, they might catch on to some of the etch-a-sketching.

Disclaimer: I am not a feetsball fan but I *love* being on the Planet on feetsball Saturdays and I love the ambiance of a feetsball game on TV.

Disclaimer: I also love bad TV. I haven’t watched Honey Boo Boo (yet) but episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras got me through some rough nights alone at The Comm’s house when she was in hospice last winter.

Still, there are widely diverse sources of information (and mis-information) available everywhere. I wish more people would seek them out, read and analyze. I don’t even care if the end result is a different opinion than I have. Read, think, analyze. Well, maybe I do care. But.

Again. The Republican party that we have today is not your parents’ party. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I don’t know what The Comm is doing tonight. Probably laughing at me for having to grovel on the phone with Cloverland this morning. (Oh, okay, I didn’t have to grovel at all but I did say that I didn’t know what the heck my mother was doing…)

If The Comm is paying attention to polly-ticks down here in “Murrica”, I am sure she is disgusted enough to throw lightning bolts at Boca Raton.

This is not the party she chose in her youth. She (and my dad) had *compassion* for those who had less than us. And it didn’t take much for people to have less than us when I was a very young child.

I think she is probably too busy to throw lightning bolts though. Most likely, she and Radical Betty are sitting on the bridge of the Edmund Fitzgerald, drinking margaritas while the boyz try to beat out that old hot-rod Lincoln in the sky.

P.S. Here’s Lesley Gore, one of my all-time faves. She talks at the end, please listen to her.

Motor City

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Yesterday’s post was really kind of a throw-away. It was a long, interesting day and, at one point Lizard Breath asked me what I was going to blahg about. My honest answer was that I had no idea. I knew I would be tired at the end of the day and probably wouldn’t have processed the day’s activities well enough to write about them. So I threw up a bunch of blather about my broken washing musheen and computer* and ended up with by blurting out some stuff about young people re-settling Detroit.

I don’t want to overstate my knowledge about Detroit or speculate too much about whether or not it’s making a comeback. As a kid, I used to travel from the frozen yooperland outpost of Sault Ste. Siberia to Detroit a few times a year to visit Grandaddy and Bolette. They lived *in* Detroit in those days in a beautiful old brick house on a tree-lined street (Mark Twain St., Zone 15, Detroit — that was before zip codes). I can remember the geography of their house to this day: the staircase that curved at the top, the breakfast nook, the basement filled with treasures from the ’round-the-world trip they took when they got married just a few years before I was born.

I absolutely *loved* going to Detroit as a kid. I felt so sophisticated and worldly traveling around the city in the back of Grandaddy’s Caddy-lac, looking at all the skyscrapers and feeling like one of the 1%, even though none of us were even close to that. Shopping at the downtown Hudson’s, seeing Santa at Northland, going to the Henry Ford Museum (to look at old cars) or Cobo Hall (to look at new cars), going to the symphony or the art museum or Belle Isle. Escalators and revolving doors. It was all a far cry from the small, isolated city where I lived.

After the 1967 riot, my grandparents moved out of Detroit to Birmingham, one of the more upscale suburbs. Many other folks of Caucasian ancestry including a lot of folks on their street did a similar thing. My family has never tolerated prejudice of any flavor but there was a lot of racial tension and related violence at the time and the writing was on the wall that the grandparents’ beautiful neighborhood would soon become too dangerous for an older white couple to live. For me, in a lot of ways, going to visit the grandparents in Birmingham was equivalent to visiting them in Detroit. We could still drive to the downtown Hudson’s and Cobo Hall and Belle Isle or wherever.

The Detroit I remember as a kid was a thriving, bustling city. I remember my grandfather being proud to present it to his yooper grandchildren. I think the riots were a watershed of sorts and then the auto industry began its decline. And I’ll stop with this now because my experience with Detroit is really pretty limited. The Planet Ann Arbor may be more or less the same latitude as Detroit but it is a whole ‘nother, uh, planet here.

I really don’t think that Detroit will ever quite return to its former glory as I remember it from the back seat of Grandaddy’s Caddy-lac. It has more problems than an occasional armchair observer like me could possibly begin to untangle enough to analyze. Googling “Kwame Kilpatrick” might give you one starting point. There are probably about a billion other google search phrases you could start out with.

Detroit may not ever return to being a big industrial city but I kind of hope it morphs back into a livable city for whoever wants to live there. I am way on the outside of any of this but there are some ideas that I like… Turning some of the areas where whole city blocks of houses have been razed into some kind of farm. Or maybe multiple farms. Turning an abandoned old factory (?) building into a climbing gym. Something like that. And Whole Foods is building a store down there. Corktown was it? I remember going to a bustling Kroger (or something) with Grandaddy and Bolette (and yes, they bought me whatever I asked for just like my yooper grandparents. Knowing me, pretzels, probably.). But Detroit has been a “food desert” for many many years, since folks like my grandparents moved out. That Kroger is probably LOOOONNNG closed. And then there is the Mower Gang

Detroit still has a long way to go. Although I never felt the slightest bit threatened anywhere we went yesterday, there are dangerous neighborhoods and dangerous people. At one point yesterday, as we navigated from the freeway to Jefferson (and Belle Isle), my phone map was trying to tell us to go straight. The GG did not go straight. He said, “I don’t want to go near any of those east-side neighborhoods.” Once upon a time, he was with his high school girlfriend and he drove into one of those neighborhoods. And tried to turn around. And a whole bunch of, let’s just say people who *are* prejudiced, tried to prevent them from *leaving* the neighborhood. He has told me that story about 50-billion-gazillion times (and his daughters too) but I admit that I didn’t want to go into that neighborhood either and so we turned onto Dequindre and eventually got to Jefferson and Belle Isle.

Although I don’t think that Detroit will ever again be like it was when I was an overly excited kid visiting my grandparents there, I hope it makes a comeback. The phenomenon of young people moving back to Detroit is not new and I also know that not everyone left the city in the aftermath of the riots. But the city has endured hard times and I hope it makes upward progress.

*Both continue to work today and I canceled my “genius” bar appointment and ordered myself a new power cord because my intuition has told me from the get-go that it is the power cord that’s wonky and, once again, an Apple Store experience has left a bit to be desired.


Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Okay, so my loverly MacBook Pro laptop’s power thingy hasn’t been working all that well lately. Last night I figured out that it wasn’t charging my loverly MacBook Pro at at all. Our plan today was to drive to Detroit to meet up with Lizard Breath for her birthday. Okay, bad power cord, let’s get a new one. We’ll stop at Briarwood on the way to Detroit. Long story short, the power thingy worked at the Apple Store and I made a “genius” apppointment for tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, our fancy new (2008) (yes) front-loading high-efficiency washing musheen was throwing error messages left and right. The GG re-a-started the washing musheen and I complained that we were going to leave the Landfill with the washer going. I said something like, “What if it burns the house down?” And then, “Oh well, all of the crap will be gone.”
The GG said something like, “that’s a deal” and we kind of winked and giggled at each other and then we drove the Ninja down into Dee-troit to meet up with the elder beach urchin for a bit of a birthday kind of celebration.

We began at Belle Isle, where they have newly opened the aquarium. When I was a kid from the yooperland, I used to love going to Belle Isle when we visited my grandparents in Detroit. When I entered the newly opened aquarium, I had to work hard to not tear up a bit, remembering Grandaddy and Bolette and my own parents and childhood… (Not to overstate that, really it was just a moment.)

Lunch and then a block party type thing at a brewery. Good good times.

Got home and guess what? Washing musheen seems to be working fine (knock on wood). And frickin’ MacBook Pro powercord is working again. That’s about as far as I’m gonna go with that… Good times in Detroit today with Liz and all of her friends. Her Great-Grandad MacMullan and Bolette would be happy to see us hanging out down there and they would be ecstatic to see people settling down there in the beautiful city of Detroit again.

Pushing the envelope

Friday, October 19th, 2012

We actually did something interesting today. It happened at 0-skunk-30 and it was Mouse’s idea. “Meet me at 7 AM at the corner of Soule and Lutz and we’ll walk from there.” Mouse is a responsible young adult who can “do” 7 AM if she needs to but she doesn’t usually *schedule* events at that time.

But meet we did. Actually I walked all the way from the Landfill, approximately 1.75 miles in the pitch black of a mid-October morning. And that’s how we came to eat breakfast at the Selma Cafe. It is a volunteer-run breakfast salon serving locally sourced food cooked by local chefs most Friday mornings. It opens at 6:30 and if you don’t get there by 7, you may have to wait for a seat.

I have known about the cafe for years but, being an introvert, The idea of showing up for breakfast at some stranger’s house at 0-skunk-30 was more than a bit intimidating. Boy was I wrong! I mean I was still a little nervous and acting like the introvert that I am. But the volunteers and the other guests were all friendly and the food was outstanding (for me, apple/maple crepes with bacon and salad). And coffee.

We’ll go back, I think. In fact, we’ll probably go back in a few weeks. Because when the GG got into Garth mode and started walking around poking his nose into the kitchen, etc., he ran into a co-worker. She was a guest this morning but in a few weeks, she will be one of the chefs. In another life, I could see myself volunteering there. As an “Indian”, not a chef. Not this year though.

I wonder if my name tag (KW) will still be on the wall when we go back…

Thursday randomness

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

I am still feeling rant-y but it’s been an intense week of coding and flowcharting and spreadsheeting and [technical] writing and I am also feeling my typical Thursday incoherence. So you are spared. Or maybe not. Dunno where this’ll go…

Coffee with MMCB at Barry’s this AM. MMCB and I are usually on the same side of most political issues but this time is a bit different and we engaged in some lively (and friendly) debate today. And then we moved on. As usual, when we parted, I asked, “where are you going next?” I can’t keep track. In just the last year, it’s been something like Viet Nam, Croatia, someplace in The Netherlands and Capetown (in the same trip!), a few other exotic places that I can’t remember, and Florida enough times that she knew one of the stewardesses on the return flight by name. Florida mostly because MMCB has been living a parallel version of my current life this last year. Except she doesn’t have a trashmobile. And yes, we are still trying to figure out why the heck this jet-setter has been having coffee with the likes of a baggy old kayak woman like meeeeee all these years. Er, except that she is *extremely* down-to-earth, like me…

I am horrified at the idea that various corporate entities are sending letters to their employees encouraging them to vote in one direction or another. I know that it is legal to do that but it is sad that people in this country can be made to feel intimidated to vote one way or another by their employers. I think we all want to use more best [business] practices in delivering government services but a country is not a business and people are not widgets. And there is no evidence that a businessman[woman] would be a great president.

At my work, nobody EVER talks about polly-ticks. At least nobody on my team. We are there to WORK and it is definitely a relief that we don’t have those stupid water-cooler conversations. Well, W1.5 has been known to ask me my opinion of 5th Ward Planet Ann Arbor council candidates but that’s a whole ‘nother thing. I don’t know if he votes for “my” candidates or not and I don’t care. At least he votes!

Companies that actively try to influence their employees’ voting preferences are one reason that unions exist. And that is also an argument against privatizing every last public function. I’m just sayin’.

Moving on… About the time my brain turned totally to mush this afternoon, I walked out into the lunch room and there was a huge RAINBOW! And then I narrowly avoided what looked like a huge jaffic tram on the westbound I94 18-wheel Clogway. There is almost *always* an eastbound backup but never a westbound backup when I head home. Today was the opposite. I snaked through Briarwood Mall, then home via the old route I used to take to and from Briarwood when I still shopped at Briarwood. Like back when Faber’s Fabrics was still there. Now, about the only time I go there is when I have to go to the stupid genius bar over at the Apple Store, which I have to keep doing every few months because the stupid trackpad on my loverly lemon-flavored MacBook Pro stops, uh, tracking…

It’s the digital age and I do not live in a binder

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

I want to respond to yesterday’s comments with a story or two. Radical Betty did indeed use some colorful language, including “batshit” and another fave of mine, “rat’s ass”. And then there was the time that UKW and I were about 10 and we were sitting on the back steps outside the Old Cabin kitchen. RB was swashbuckling around the kitchen cleaning up and probably getting a head start on dinner (for 12 or whatever it was) and generally flinging things around*. All of a sudden she exploded with, “That god damn little doodly-squat doesn’t hold anything!” Well, first. When I was a kid, it was a rare event to hear any of the G2 Fin relatives swear. And also. “Doodly-squat?” I had never heard that particular word before. UKW and I looked at each other and totally cracked up! The object of her outburst was grandma’s little white garbage can, the old-fashioned kind with a lid and a foot pedal. This was before plastic garbage bags so there was always a paper grocery bag in there as a liner. I would’ve been annoyed with it too!

The Commander met Radical Betty when they both lived in Mary Mayo hall at Moo-U aka Michigan State University. They were friends from the get-go and then The Comm married Radical Betty’s brother and he became my dad. That’s a whole long story that I’ve probably told before and probably will again but my point here is that RB and The Comm supported each other throughout their adult lives and right up until the day that RB died.

I can’t speak to Radical Betty’s political leanings back when I was a kid. I remember my parents being staunch Republicans. Sometime in the early 1960s, I remember talking about a presidential race with The Comm and she said she and my dad were going to walk into that voting booth and pull the REPUBLICAN lever. It was probably the Nixon / Kennedy race. I was in 1st grade then and I remember having a straw poll in that class — yes, Kennedy won and I can still remember Dennis Jenks and some other kid going back and forth at each other in the belligerent fashion of six-year-olds: “Nixon.” “Kennedy.” “Nixon.” “Kennedy.” I forget which side Dennis was on.

So I came from Republicans. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. My dad basically got so sick of politicians that he tuned them out. Or tried to. We were up at the moomincabin during the whole the Clinton blue dress stuff and every time he heard “blue dress” on NPR, he would say, “Stick it!” Right in front of the school-age grandchildren. But he hated all politicians by that time. I can only guess that he voted for whoever The Comm told him to. Or maybe not. You never know and he could be pretty sly even those last few years.

The Commander? My mother was strongly pro-choice and I won’t say feminist exactly but, like me, she was an advocate for ALL people, regardless of gender, to have equal access to opportunities. Hey, her dad (back in the 1930s AND a republican!) supported that and paid for her to go to college. I don’t know when the tide turned but she was an Obama supporter in 2008, oh boy oh boy. One of my last good memories of her is the night of the 2012 State of the Union speech. She sat up in what became her deathbed a few weeks later and watched the entire speech. I fell asleep in a chair next to her bed. She was looking forward to voting for Obama again. It’s too bad that she won’t get that chance.

* I have some personality traits in common with Radical Betty but she had many that I don’t. Maybe she got more DNA from my great-grandparents than I did. The ones who homesteaded in northern Saskatchewan back before airplanes were but a dream in the Wright brothers eyes. I do think that I emulate her in terms of kitchen swashbuckling!

Let them eat cake

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

I think that a lot of people that I know (at least here on the Planet Ann Arbor) think I am a dyed-in-the-wool democrat. I am not at all. I am all for people working hard and making their own way in the world and not having seven kids by three or four or seven different dads and driving a Caddy-lac while on the dole. I am all for lower taxes and business and I hate the idea of throwing together an ill-conceived “program” to deal with those who are in the proverbial 47% or whatever. I have voted for republican candidates many times in my life.

But the GOP has moved waaaaay to the right side of my tolerance zone and if it ever wants to get my vote again, it will have to regain some compassion for those in the 47% (I’m not going to go near the pro-choice issue today). Those Caddy-lac welfare queens exist but I do not think they are the face of the 47%. The face of the 47% is those folks who have been working for a gazillion years and lost their jobs after the banking greed meltdown. And I think the folks we met at the yooperland Habitat for Humanity last weekend may be in that horribilis 47%. Probably toward the bottom.

We have been schlepping things back and forth from the yooperland since last February and the GG is very familiar with Habitat for Humanity and other re-use centers. In this case, we were schlepping unstained twin bed mattresses to the yooperland. Habitat down here doesn’t take ANY mattresses. I understand why and I was surprised to learn that the yooperland Habitat did. Now I know why.

When we arrived at Habitat in the Trashmobile, it was sleeting (or something) and I hadn’t noticed the toilets before. Hey, there’s my Blue and Only Toilet back there (oh, not really). Who would want a used toilet? Well, who would want a used mattress… I futzed with my iPhone in the Frog Hopper while the GG unloaded our mattresses. When he returned, he announced that we were making a delivery.

Huh? I got out of the Frog Hopper and the GG and an unknown couple were putting a beat-up mattress and box something-or-other into the Snowbilly Trailer. I couldn’t tell how old they were. Older than us? I dunno. Maybe they were or maybe they were just more unfortunate than us. The GG asked them how they were getting home and they said they were walking. He asked if they wanted a ride and they agreed without hesitation. We drove them and their new bed home, a few blocks away.

I know a few things about their story. They had been sleeping on a single bed. The woman had some kind of surgery a couple weeks ago. The house they had moved into was in a ratty part of Siberia. I couldn’t exactly remember but it may have been the house that a friend of an old high school boyfriend lived in. Leaving that house was a huge move up for that family and I doubt that they are in the 47% any more but you never know…

“Those People” (that we ran into at Habitat) seemed to have next to nothing. They had been discussing how the heck they would get the bed back home when the GG overheard them. “Maybe we can find somebody with a truck”, etc. I dunno if they have jobs or whatever but they seemed to be trying and they wanted to give us gas money but we refused it, fer kee-reist…

I am not saying that we did some wonderful thing last Friday. We were in the right place at the right time (and I was photographing toilets of all things). I have to admit that later that day we wondered if these folks had *sheets* for those beds (because we sure do have a lot of sheets!). My opinion about that was that I really didn’t want to get too personally involved with a needy family up in Siberia. I’ve got enough to do, fer kee-reist!

Troll me if you want if you are voting republican. Tell me that the choice issue is not important (it is) or give me a long diatribe about how the democrats are for more dependence upon the government. That may be true but if it is, it’s because corporate America is not taking good care of its workers. Unless they are in the 1%, of course. And just so you know, I am NOT anywhere near one of the 47% but I do not trust the Republican candidate. I think he is a liar and a flim-flam man.

Good night,
Kayak Woman, Swing Voter


Monday, October 15th, 2012

The moomincabin is closed down now [except for the wi-fi <wink>] and I have garbage bags and grocery bags and boxes and laundry baskets and what-not all over the Landfill Front Room. The GG asked me if I wanted help moving them down to the Landfill Dungeon. NO WAY!!! I FINALLY got my Sewing Table cleared off a mere weekend ago. I do NOT want to throw a whole bunch of crap down there again. Besides, if it’s all dumped in the front room, it will drive me nuts and I will triage it a lot faster.

And what a mixed bag of cosmic debris. Stuff from the garage, mostly fabric and stuff like that. The last of the food that was left behind. Oh crap, I think I left a canister of flour up there. A huuuuuge cylinder of Quaker Oats. I was grumping and kvetching around, “who would buy that? I don’t think it even got touched all summer.” Grumpity grump. On the warpath. The GG talked me down off the ledge. It came from The Commander’s house. It has an expiration of July 2012. Technically that expiration date gives me an excuse to throw it out although I’m sure it’s probably fine. The funny thing about that big container of oatmeal is that The Comm spent the last 10 months of her life complaining vociferously to anyone who would listen (usually me, sigh…) about how much she HATED oatmeal.

Cleaning supplies anyone? We can haz them. Tons of them. Storing liquids in a place that can get down to well below zero in the winter is probably not advised so I brought all that stuff down to the Landfill (some of it has probably been getting schlepped back and forth between the moomincabin and The Comm’s house for years now). I am trying to absorb it all into my own collection of cleaning stuff. Some is stuff I use all the time (i.e., I probably bought it). Other stuff, not so much. I doubt that the place is totally utterly absolutely cleaned out of that kind of stuff but progress was made. Hopefully we will start out s-l-o-w-l-y on buying *stuff* for the moomincabin next spring. We’ll talk about the huge abundance of kitchen utensils some other time…

This morning was kind of a disaster. I was out the door on time but I got about 3/16ths of the way to work and through five (count ’em) stoplights when I realized that I was in wardrobe failure mode. I mean, I was dressed but I was wearing a polartech jacket over a *tank top* and I had forgotten the cardigan sweater I had chosen to wear over the tank top when I got to work. Tank top? In my mind, that’s not bizcaz. And I would be cold. But I knew that if I wore the polartech jacket all day long, I would be hot. “Hot” meaning, “I am dying of heat”, not “I am a hot chick”. So I went back home… Through all those stoplights… etc…. I told the boyz (FZ and W1.5) about the wardrobe failure but I didn’t explain it in detail. I did tell the girlz the details and of course they got it. (Do not get me wrong, the boyz and the girlz here are all baggy old people. We are friends and we are respectful of each other and work together without any strife.)

So today started out a bit iffy. But. My goal was to deal with one bag / box / whatever a day this week. This afternoon, I think I did about four grocery bags and a laundry basket. Yay me!!!

Waiting for departure at gate 46-84

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Yeah, it’s kind of fuzzy. We’ll just call it an “action picture”.

I loved how the day started… We met up with the Mean Old Grunchie Old Grinchie at one of the casinos (of all places) for breakfast. I have never been to one of the Bay Mills Reservation casinos but the restaurant at this one (Sacy’s) lived up to its reputation. It was early enough when we got there that we could pretty much pick out our table and we chose one out where we could look at the Back Bay. I doubt I’ll ever go to the casino there but I will definitely return to Sacy’s.

We got out a bit later than we I wanted to but it isn’t a good idea to rush closing up a northwoods cabin for the winter and then there are all of the people that I wanted to connect with this weekend and didn’t end up having time to (and I HAD to take a beach walk). But. I hadn’t managed to meet up with The Beautiful Jan and so, when we saw her car down there at Jeep and Pan’s, we stopped dead in the middle of the two-track cabin road. Grinch was already out for the day and we figgered if George or Kev needed to get out, they would recognize our trashmobile and come and harass us to move it outta the way.

Too short a visit with Jeep and Pan and then we were on the road… With intermittent HEAVY rain all the way from the yooperland to Houghton Lake. The GG was actually enjoying those driving conditions, even though at times you could hardly see the vee-hickle in front of you. We stopped at HL for a bit, where there is some kind of problem with a furnace peripheral. We were not much help about that. I was chompin’ at the bit to get down the road. I did greatly enjoy learning about our great niece’s LeapPad (I mindlessly called it a “LeapFrog” and was quickly CORRECTED!! You go, Christina! 🙂

Back on the road after that. More heavy rain for a while and then we dodged severe storms and a huge jaffic tram. We were south of West Branch when annh annh annh – the emergency broadcast system came on. It was a good thing I had my seatbelt on because it would’ve jolted me out of my seat otherwise. I do not think I have heard the emergency broadcast system since the Dexter Tornado last March!

So, we are back on The Planet Ann Arbor after closing up the moomincabin for the winter this weekend. It’s always sad to close that place up and it was different this year, since The Commander is no longer around. I don’t have any kind of closure to report here. We have been schlepping stuff around for many many moons now and we have schlepped more of it down here this weekend. I hope that The Comm is happy with what I’ve done with her stuff. Her plants are alive and thriving, even that big one that is currently in MY HOUSE!

In the old days, I remember that we would put the sailboat (and later kayaks) into the living room. The Comm once kvetched about having a big garage but it is a great place for storing boats and things. I can’t complain.

Nothing like a loooooonnnng hot RV shower

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Some of the folks we hiked with today probably have a shower a bit like this in their “campers”. You know the kind of camper. You can “push” or “bump” out the walls (or whatever) and you pretty much have a fancier outfit than the moomincabin or even The Landfill. Those campers come with faaarplaces and beautiful kitchens and *bathrooms*. Do not get me wrong. I *love* that these fancy outfits exist and I love our friends who own them. Anyone who is willing to walk seven-plus miles *in the rain* deserves to have a hot shower in their camping spot at the end of the day. Like the one I had here at the moomincabin today.

We hiked with the North Country Trail Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter today from Silver Creek to what they are now calling The Shallows. We used to call it something like “the western Naomikong Point parking lot” and those of us who know Sault Ste. Siberia think of a rather different place when somebody mentions “The Shallows”.

Weather predictions were rather dire for our hike today. Rain, rain, and more rain. We did get rain but, as it turned out, we never got truly heavy rain and the light rain that we did get didn’t come to pass until the last couple miles of the hike. So it was a beautiful hike and most of us started out a little cold, which is just how you want to feel when you are starting out a hike because you usually warm up. And I did. And I was even warm when the rain started but then I was in the group of four who reached our destination first and then had to wait for the other five. I got cold waiting for the GG and all the others to arrive.

Eventually they did arrive and we all headed up to collect the drop-off vee-hickles (including the Frog Hopper) and then we hit the Silver Creek Bar/Saloon. Alas, as soon as our orders were taken, the power went out. That was okay with us because we weren’t planning to eat anyway and you can serve a bottle of beer and a glass of merlot without power.

It was very fun but I didn’t totally warm up until I got back here to the moomincabin and took a very long, hot shower. I did not want to get outta that shower. The shower in the photoooo. And it is an RV shower. It probably isn’t as fancy as the showers in the RVs our friends own but it works really well for a summer cabin on Lake Superior (technically the upper St. Mary’s River).

The boyz of noiz (aka, the GG and the Mean Old Grunchie Old Grinchie) are here and dinner is on the way.


How ’bout them thar debates?

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Just kidding!

Do you have a Key Basket? Where do you drop your car keys when you enter your landfill? I have a Key Basket. I have a Key Basket at The Landfill and there is a Key Basket at the moomincabin. I did not start the key basket tradition. The moomincabin key basket has been around for years, maybe even since I was a kid but I mainly remember that flashlights (for going to the outhouse at night, of course) and the train whistle (for calling kids home for lunch or whatever) were kept there. Anyway. This weekend, I am keeping the *one* pair of 50-cent KMart-style glubs that I have up here in the Key Basket. At least I am trying to remember to keep them there. I have a Glub Basket at The Landfill. The moomincabin is a SUMMER PLACE and I do not have a Glub Basket here.

Anyway! We left from Gaylord this morning and we were on the alert for Black Ice on the roads via a text message from the Uncly Uncle, who leaves for work around the time I *usually* get up and take my 0-skunk-30 walk. I am sure that it was slippery in some spots but we were taking it easy with the Frog Hopper and Snowbilly Trailer and we stopped at Wah Wah Soo Park to get this beauteous photooo and then we made it to the Yooperland okay.

I’ll spare you my Mackinac Bridge crossing photooo. I always take one going north but I don’t do the southbound equivalent unless there’s something interesting to report. I’m going south to Troll Land, sheesh! I love Troll Land too but somehow I am not usually very excited about crossing the bridge going south. So here is the Moominbeach with a wee bit of snow.

And for beach denizens, here is what our current pathway looks like with a wee bit of snow on it.

The snow is gone now. Temperatures rose today and they are expected to continue an upward trend throughout the weekend. When we arrived this morning, all of the trees were “raining” snow from the last couple of days. The sun was out and everything was beautiful. We (the GG) got our propane stove going and we met up with Pete over in the garage next door and then we spent some time in Town (aka Sault Ste Siberia). We are here at the moomincabin now and I have made some progress about organizing “stuff” (i.e., bagging up the rest of the linens and figuring out what to take down to The Landfill to sort out next).

I am eating an elephant these days. Maybe a couple of elephants. How do you eat an elephant? Well… One bite at a time. Today, I was dredging things out of the garage here at the moomincabin and I found the skunk cabbage inspired mittens that the Grand Poobah made for The Commmander back in 2011 when she first had the issues that led to her death. Here are those mittens, which I will mail to Pooh soon.