Archive for January, 2013

Switching back from Chacos to YakTrax. Again…

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

iceAfter a balmy, rainy couple of days, I knew I would have to bundle up this morning. It is winter and this is the Great Lake State and, well, you know… And so I did bundle up but I did not put on my YakTrax. When I peered out the front door at 0-skunk-30, it was snowing just a little bit and the pavement was dry with snow sort of lightly swirling across it. I hesitated about two houses down… Did I need my ice cleats? Naw, I’ll be all right. And really I was, except that shortly after that suddenly there was an inch or two covering everything and I totally lost confidence about where to place my next step. I made it around *most* of my loop by walking on the grass wherever possible and gingerly walking on whatever pavement surfaces I had to cross. People’s driveways are the worst. PLEASE SALT THE SIDEWALK WHERE IT CROSSES YOUR DRIVEWAY! Actually, it wasn’t slippery anywhere that I walked. I was just freaked out.

I saw WWMD’s lovely wife walking with her friend, like I do most mornings. (And she *is* lovely, a beautiful woman and very gracious, unlike yer grumpity old fav-o-rite blahgger.) I felt relief when I got home from that walk and, even though there was barely an inch or two of snow on my sidewalk, I shoveled it and then I SALTED IT. PLEASE PEOPLE, SALT YOUR SIDEWALKS! And then I ate my half-bowl of cheerios (am I turning into my dad?), did a typical round of chores and stuff, and headed over to work. My commute was pretty okay but a lot of people had horrendous ones, including a multi-accident multi-fatality mess somewhere over on I75.

When I got to work, I faarrrred up Freddy. He is a loverly old-coot Windows desktop musheen who seems to manage to fly under the mothership’s radar and was therefore available to me when I had to send my lemon back to the mothership for repair. He works perfectly but he doesn’t have Snagit or Visio or TFS, some of the major tools I use in my job. I am having to edit code in Notepad… (You guys, I know there are better utilities for editing code that I could download from them thar tubes. Except that I can’t download them to Freddy. Don’t ask and don’t suggest things. Love you anyway[smile])

I got a little bit lost there. When Freddy finally finished faaaarrrring up and I faaarrrred up my email, there was a message saying that WWMD and his lovely wife were spending the morning at the urgent care. She had *fallen*… On a hidden patch of ice… Under the snow… Don’tcha know… She broke her arm… Even though it was not her leg, I don’t expect to see her out walking for at least a little while. I’m sure she is feeling generally uncomfortable right now. I hope she does resume walking soon. I am pretty sure she owns YakTrax and I’ll bet she’ll be using them on days like today. I know I will!

I’m a damn Yooper and I’m supposed to like snow, and I do, when I don’t have to drive around with a billion yay-hoos on not-very-well-cleared roads. And nowadays so many of those yay-hoos are yapping on the damn phone while they are driving! How do they do that? When I am driving, I get into the “zen” of driving, if I can (not in snow/ice though, then I am on pins and needles). I HATE having to talk on the damn phone in any case… I miss the days when it would snow and I would shovel out The Landfill and then snuggle in with the beach urchins. Of course, I am sure that I am looking back on those days with rose-colored glasses and not thinking about the messes and fights and yelling and screaming and long TV-watching slodges that probably also went on [wink].

Everybody be careful out there. That is about all.

Shine on you cheesy diamond.

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Webers Inn

Webers Inn

Weber’s Inn is the go-to place for a lot of folks here on The Planet Ann Arbor for special occasions or a fancy dinner or whatever. For whatever reason, it isn’t often on my beat. Not because it isn’t any good because it is. Just, I dunno… For one thing, I was acquainted with the owner the last couple years of college. On the off chance I mention this factual tidbit to anyone local, I *always* stipulate that I doubt he would remember me and I do doubt that. We were just acquaintances. Actually, I am aware that his children went to the same middle school as mine and I can even remember sitting at the PTO table at registration taking his t-shirt check for his kid and hoping to hell he didn’t recognize me. If he did, he didn’t let on and that’s okay. Why? Just because. I would re-write that period of my life if I could, but I can’t, so I write about it very occasionally, in painful little bits and pieces and kind of hope that nobody remembers it… (Not that the Weber kid had anything to do with that. As I said, he was just an acquaintance.)

I have eaten at Weber’s a few times over the years, mostly at retirement banquets or company parties or whatever. The food is always adequate at those things but not spectacular but who can pay top dollar for food for a large group of people? I think the only time I actually ate a regular restaurant meal at Weber’s was lunch once with The Comm and her friend Pauline, who was living in town at that time. I don’t remember too much about the lunch. What I do remember is that The Commander made very specially prepared finger-food lunches for the preschool-aged beach urchins before we left. She covered the plates with plastic wrap and instructed Grandroobly to place them on the table and remove the plastic wrap for the little munchkins. When we returned from lunch, the beach urchins were wide-eyed with excitement about the wonderful lunch *grandaddy* had made for them. Indeed…

We ate at Weber’s tonight in celebration of a very special birthday. I won’t call out the person or the year but it did have a zero at the end of it. I am thinking we have been missing a wonderful place all these years. The food was good and the service was superb. The young waitress even put up with all of the boyz’ cheesy jokes with aplomb. If I have a complaint, it is that we can’t easily walk there. It’s a lot closer to The Landfill than some of the other places we walk to but it is in a pedestrian no-man’s land.

One of the best things? (I mean besides Ray.) It had to be the piano player. I wasn’t paying attention at first. I was hearing a typical lounge-style piano player doing lots of flashy runs, rich chords, glissandos and whatever. And then I started listening a bit more closely. He was playing Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd! Here’s a link to a video. It’s pretty long (as is the song) and I won’t be offended if you don’t click over. I loved Pink Floyd back in my teen / early 20s “emo” days and many was the time I walked over to Cedar Point alone singing that song right out loud. That was before the iPod and even before the Walkman. I had to *sing* it with my own voice and so I did. Nobody was around to hear me. I was wondering who the heck I was and what I would turn into and wishing I really was a “crazy diamond”. (There. That was a little bitsy piece of the part of my life I wish I could re-write. Er, except for the singin’ out loud part. We all need to do that more often!)

I am a baggy old kayak woman now. A few years ago, I wandered into work on a Friday. Casual Friday, that is. I was wearing what passes for biz-caz because I’m more comfortable in that than holey old cotton/spandex leggings. The LSCHP was wearing a rather outlandish outfit that included a Pink Floyd t-shirt. I fergit exactly what the conversation was. I think WWWD was involved and maybe FZ. At some point the LSCHP pointed at meeee and said, “And KW partied with the band.” Well, not so much (and he *was* kidding) but I totally cracked up. I have actually evolved to the point where some of the other baggy old folks who work with me think I might actually have been *cool* when I was young? Bwa-ha-ha-ha! (And the young version of KW is now walking to Cedar Point singing just a little bit louder.)

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da life goes on brah La la how the life goes on

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

fogBrah? Is that what they actually bleat out in that song? I just randomly googled lyrics. Kinda reminds me of when kids graffitied (or maybe it was just a sign) something like “the braw law” over at Forsythe when the MYA alternative school parents were all up in arms about “stuff”. Another post someday. Or not…It actually is not one of my favorite Beatle songs.

Today… For the first time since I dunno when, my iPhone actually proclaimed lightning in the vicinity when I woke up this morning (after weird weird dreams involving the UU driving me to work from some unfamiliar location after sleeping in until 11 AM!). The lightning was 9 miles away. I considered whether or not to walk. By the time I got outta the shower, etc., the lightning alert had gone away and so I put my boots on (but not my yaktrax) and started walking. It was great walking, wet streets and sidewalks. Until it wasn’t great. Very very slippery ice all over the place on some streets and sidewalks. I can’t explain it. Navigating that stuff in daylight would’ve been okay but not in the dark. I bagged my walk about halfway through.

Foggy *all* day with rain on and off and a bit of thunder about mid-afternoon. Life slid sharply downhill just after 3:30 this afternoon when my work laptop crashed and then crashed again and I couldn’t resuscitate it… My first-tier support guy tried but we didn’t get anywhere and so now I am waiting for a call from the second-tier. I was on the phone with the kid when the LSCHP walked by and I sorta vaguely heard (thru the fog of my phone call) my colleagues telling him, “she’s on the phone with support, her computer crashed”. I heard him boom out, “I hope she’s backing up her files.” Well. Yes and no… This laptop is less than two years old and I haven’t named it yet but I think I will name it after my loverly old 1996 Island Teal minivan, aka the POC. Because this is the second time I have had a catastrophic problem with it. I hope I don’t have to send it somewhere this time. Alas, if I do not have my computer, I cannot work. This afternoon I was literally sitting there trying to finish old NYT xword puzzles on my iPhone waiting for my old fashioned POTS phone to ring. It didn’t. I left for the day. We need to have viable computers at work…

But, y’know, this’ll get figured out. Life will be a frickin’ pain for the next day or so but it will go on. If I really can’t do any work for a day or so here, I could trade tomorrow off for a weekend day. It sucks but it is a first-world, 21st century problem and, slacker that I am, I have a good job, one that I am still pinching myself about and I can deal with it.

Oh man, we just had lightning and thunder. Flashy lightning and long, beautiful, rumbly thunder. I love hearing thunder in January.

I’m sorry but I have to get this out of my system or I may burst…

Monday, January 28th, 2013

swandamI don’t really want to write a polly-tickal rant but when I read last week that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal had decided to cut hospice services from the state’s Medicare program, I was disheartened. I tend to be fiscally conservative but some of the things that the Not-My-Dad’s GOP are proposing are way too much for me.

I can’t help wondering if Mr. Jindal has any idea about the complicated dance surrounding the end of a person’s life. Deciding to enter hospice care is a wrenching decision and I am glad that The Commander was of sound mind and able to make that decision on her own. I can’t say that the weeks following that decision were always easy. But they were a helluva lot easier than the period of time when she was repeatedly transferred to the ER to be resuscitated. (ER doc to KW on the phone: we’ll try to bring her back but be prepared for the worst and drive carefully. I prepared myself for the worst. At least twice. It’s all a blur…)

The Comm was not on Medicaid. We never had a lot of money when I was growing up but my parents worked very hard and my mother could afford to keep her house *and* an assisted living apartment that last awful year of her life. Not everyone can do that, even if they have worked very hard all of their life. Does that mean they have to die in pain and discomfort? Sigh…

Folks, a primer on end-of-life stuff:

  • Hospice is a *good* thing.
  • Being a frequent flyer at the ER is *not* a good thing. Especially when you are elderly and/or sick and frail. Every time you go there, your health ratchets a few notches down.
  • If you are dying, the hospital is not the place to be. They are obligated to try to feed you even if you cannot eat and they cannot legally give you the drugs you need to manage your END-OF-LIFE pain effectively. The nurses are wonderful but they cannot provide the level of care you need because they have other patients…
  • EVERY person deserves to die in as much comfort as is possible. Rich or poor, it doesn’t really matter.
  • I will bet dollars that it is less expensive to provide hospice care to a dying Medicaid patient than it is to haul them over to the ER over and over again, performing expensive and useless cover your ass tests and exposing them to horrific infections. Like C. diff… … …

I have to give Mr. Jindal some credit for scrapping this stupid plan. But take a note Not-My-Dad’s GOP: if you think that Bobby Jindal is a viable candidate for the 2016 presidency, know that I will not vote for him. We need to reduce our deficit but we cannot do that without maintaining compassion for our fellow human beings, rich or poor.

Again, I’m sorry but I had to get this out of my system!

Hoping the GG will change his fb profile pic to this…

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

ggprofileAbout halfway through the day, I decided [finally] to give in to my lethargic tendencies this weekend. You might not think of someone who spent a good amount of time galumphing around the city on foot as lethargic, right? Wrong. That is about *all* I have done other than the bare minimum of chores and errands. Except be grumpy and cranky and lethargic. And no I am not sick! I seem to be impervious to whatever strains of flu, rhinovirus and gastrointestinal bugs are going around this year. Knock on wood! Actually this relates to one of the things I am grumpy about — I am sick to death of people saying, “I had the flu”, when what they had was a 24-hour vomiting virus. That’s not the flu.

I am sick to death of people who get on facebook and post 25 photo memes in a row. Pictures of cute animals and photoshopped-beyond-reality landscapes and bacon bikinis, without or without cute (or snarky (or religious)) sayings plastered all over them. I don’t mind a meme or even two or three here and there but 25? In a row? Also, if you *must* post a photo meme with cute / snarky / religious saying plastered all over it, at least make sure the SPELLING IS CORRECT! I finally hid that person from my timeline (nice enough person, just clueless, it seems (if you are reading this, it isn’t you)). Hope she’s having fun in detention with all the Bubble Witch Saga and Farmville folks.

I am sick to death of people who post polly-tickal stuff on facebook without FACT-CHECKING it first! The most egregious post of the day was a map showing all the states in which the number of people on welfare is more than the number of people gainfully employed — “America’s Death Spiral”. I know we have some serious problems in this country but that sounded really fishy to me. What Snopes had to say about that was that the count of people on “welfare” included government employees. I don’t think working at least 40 hours a week for a government agency is the equivalent of being on welfare. The government workers that I know are busy fueling the economy with their paychecks and as are just as good (or bad (or ugly)) citizens as anyone in the private sector. I didn’t hide the folks who posted that monstrosity. I don’t agree with their polly-ticks but they are good people who also post *real* stuff about their lives, etc., which is what I like to read about on facebook. Not that I necessarily need all the gory details or anything, just like to keep up.

Good stuff? Okay, KW, dredge up something good… Okay. The little things. Like being in the Plum Market, not remembering if there is parmesan cheese in the refrigerator, and being able to TEXT the GG to ask!

An “amaryllis care” email from Mouse. I will do my best but it would probably be good for Mouse to pay an occasional visit to make sure.

A long phone conversation (yes, really, I was on the phone!) with a friend who used to live within bacon-driving distance until she moved out of state.

And here’s one for the beach urchins! We were sitting next to a Western Michigan University professor last night at dinner. Of course we mentioned that our girls graduated from K, the small college “next door” to WMU. Professor: “Oh, then they can probably read and write better than my students!” I can’t make any comparisons but yes, they do read and write well. But, as wonderful a college as K is (and it *is*), they were good at that stuff well before they got to college. I attribute that to spending a lot of time *reading* throughout their lives, *acting* with a top-notch youth theatre guild (Shakespeare anyone?), and growing up within that proverbial “village” that it takes. You know the one. And that village included some fantastic *teachers*, who I definitely do not want to forget, especially since everybody and his fourth cousin twice removed seems to be out to get teachers these days. But I am supposed to be writing about a “good” thing, so I won’t go there.

Marathon Men

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

marathonmanYeah, I know they’re fuzzy. These guys love to boogie.

I had an odd little six degrees of separation kind of moment last night. That faaaarrrr that hampered my drive home? Well, I follow a certain young turk Planet Ann Arbor blogger on twitter. I am not stalking some young whippersnapper. He’s one of the better reporters (in my opinion) for the on-line Ann Arbor Snooze, most of his tweets are links to news articles, and he is also a wonderful photographer. But he posts just enough other stuff that I know he has a beloved dog (Stan) and lives in a cool apartment downtown. When I got home last night and checked Twitter, he had tweeted something like, “My house may be on fire but they saved my dog.” His apartment was in that house. His DOG was in that house. His DOG was in that house. … … … I don’t know this kid face-to-face (and he doesn’t follow me) but I felt both alarmed and relieved for him.

I dunno why but it seems like we have had a lot of rather spectacular fires around here lately, although no fatalities, thank you god or whoever. This is in an era when our wondrous mayor and a bunch of particularly vapid council folks (in my not-so-humble opinion) have been engaged in trying to cut basic city services to the bone while spending what I think is ridiculous amounts of time discussing public art and hobnobbing with real-estate developers who seem to want to fill our beautiful little city with huge 14-story apartment towers for young professionals wealthy college students. One recent fire proposal was to reduce the number of fire stations from five to three. What? I admit that I do not understand all of the issues here but I would rather have more than enough fully (or even a bit overly) staffed fire stations than a bunch of committee-chosen “art projects”. Fortunately, our relatively new city manager has somehow managed to squelch that whole fire station proposal. [I am a fan of this guy and not only because he’s a former Yooper.]

I am not against art, even tax-payer funded art. Art is very important! I just think that the mayor and city council exist to make sure that basic city services are provided: fire, police, garbage / recycle, SNOW REMOVAL!!!,

Rant deleted and apologies all around. Let’s just blame my inner 5-year-old, shall we? First world problems, 21st century ones at that!

Title, anyone?

Friday, January 25th, 2013

walking4Okay, so when I began my 0-skunk-30 walk, it was not snowing (as predicted) and I was able to high-step around the neighborhood without a problem. I started out with YakTrax but took them off about a quarter of the way through the whole thing and I was OK!!! Alas, by the time I had to drive to work, the roads were not particularly good. And I had the Ninja… Which the GG has been driving all week and left it without *any* gas… “Oh, there’s a half tank!” Nooooo… There was a half tank when you started driving it, now there are three squares… So, I slodged along to the Shell station on the busiest corner on earth and got all set to put gas in my vee-hickle, except that the pay outside thing was broken. So I had to get back into the damn Ninja and move to another pump. A long slodge later, I finally got to work. Sigh.

Much later… This is the weekend of the Ann Arbor Folk Festival (google it if you want). The GG always buys high-end tickets for this show. He went to it once when he was a young punk kind of person and these days we support it. I don’t go to the show. I’ve been to the show. I like folk music (any music that I am not *playing*) in the background of my life. The Folk Festival is loverly but it is long and it is LOUD and one year there was a headliner who spent more time walking around picking out which fancy gee-tar he was gonna play next than actually playing something.. Even the GG was bored with that. It was after 11 PM. Let’s go home. Yes…

Tonight, I walked down to the Red Hawk restaurant to meet with the GG and drive a vee-hickle home. I didn’t leave work as early as I should have, so I scrambled to get downtown, walking and running (yes), trying to get down there on time, whatever that means. In the end, there was time to spare for anyone going to the folk festival and the GG snagged a couple of wonderful folks to share a table with us, Marquita and her daughter (?) Kristen. They were going to the folk festival too.

And then Chloe Belle came along and I drove his loverly old Jeep Liberty home to The Landfill. It took me absolutely forever to get back over to my west-side Ann Arbor home because there was a huge faaaaaar on William Street that made a mess of the downtown A2 traffic in general. As if the snow wasn’t enough.

In which everyone on the QA team looks the same

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

amaryllisExcept that they don’t. This is one of the most multicultural teams I have run into since my last couple years at CSC. Back then we had just about every gender, ethnic background, religious identity, whatever, even “hillbilly”. We worked together and we left our differences at home and we rocked! It’s like that where I work now and the QA team folks are wildly different in terms of appearance (and gender, ethnic background yada yada). The teams that *do* look quite a bit alike are the business analyst team (aka my team) and the research team. Baggy old WASPy-type folks. We rock too (I’d like to think). We embrace the more multicultural teams and they seem to put up with us.

The story behind this is that one of us baggy old BAs (actually not me) kind of inadvertently made the statement that everyone on the QA team looked the same. What she meant was that they are all professionals who do their jobs so well that when one of them approaches you to pick apart your very carefully written baby spec, it doesn’t matter who it is or what they look like. Because they know their stuff and you had better be ready to answer whatever the question is. Or they will… Make jokes about you forever…

And so, I got home today and I went in and out of the Landfill about three times, putting stuff in the recycle and garbage carts and dragging them out to the curb. And *finally*, I actually looked at what was in the Front Room… A very carefully lined up bunch of stuffed aminals leading up to an Amaryllis plant! When I left this morning, there was nothing unusual in the Landfill Front Room.

So, Mouse was here… We texted back and forth. Me: Thank You. I hope I don’t kill it. What kind of plant is it? Mouse: It’s an amaryllis. I’ll foster it for you after it blooms if you want. Me: Is it the same kind of plant that Sam was traveling with a year or two ago? Mouse: Yes.

Oh yeah, I got back to walking in the dark this morning. Finally. The GG seemed to be nervous that I wouldn’t walk again. Nope. My legs got cold but it was all good. I think I need to retool my winter outerwear just a wee bit…

Defect! Defect! Defect! Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

AnneInterlochen1971So Pooh commented that she remembered the fake leopard skin coat and that kind of got me going down memory lane a bit. I forgot to say in yesterday’s blahg that I also wore mini-skirts many of those 0-skunk-30 minus 28 tundra walking days.

I *did* worry about my hair in those days. I envied the gals who had long straight blonde hair down to their butts. One of my daughters actually has hair that will do that kind of thing if she wants it to, although she goes for a more elegant look these days. I think she inherited that more from her dad than from me. Because, me, not so much. My hair gets long and kind of straggles around like in the photoooo and even now if I don’t have a place to stash an emergency brush, I kind of look like that first-seat gal in the photoooo, except older and grayer. Sigh… We won’t even talk about the Sun-In “hair-lightener” product, which is apparently still around

The young woman angsty teenager in the photoooo? That photo was taken at the Interlochen bandshell in the summer of 1971 and sent to me (or my parents, I can’t remember) by whoever was hired back in 1971 to take photos of all of the Michigan All-State Interlochen symphonic band campers so people like me would have a memento of us playing our instruments back in the Jurassic Age.

I don’t remember this exact day but it looks like it was chilly (the bandshell is outside) and I think I have a windbreaker on over my uniform of navy skirt and white light blue blouse and I fergit what else. Oh yeah, yellow socks. Yes, I am first chair here. A kid from the yooperland who only had one year of serious flute lessons and that was in 8th grade. Second chair gal was really nice and I liked her but I can’t remember her name. Cindy (or something) from Grosse Point (or someplace). Third chair? That’s J. He originally won first chair. I beat him out on both chair challenges and maintained first chair until the end. We were both Yoopers (he was from Escanaba or Menominee, I can’t quite remember). We got to be friendly and when I went down to The Planet Ann Arbor to Band Day at the UM football game the next fall, he was there for band day and I talked to him. (I was there with my family, the Sault Ste. Siberian band program didn’t or couldn’t support a trip to Ann Arbor at that point, or maybe never). Anyway J went on to a flute career and is on the flootloop group nowadays. I do something different. (Something where, in the middle of a quiet afternoon, it isn’t uncommon for someone to randomly shout out things like, “Defect! Defect! Defect! Doo doo doo doo doo doo”.)

If you are a flute player, you will see that we are all putting our fingers on the same keys. If I were on my toes, I’d be able to tell you what note we’re playing. But I can’t and now that’s driving me nuts…

Waiting (or not) for Superwoman

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

thermoIf you are under the [crazy] assumption that yer fav-o-rite blahgger = Superwoman and you were waiting for her to fly walk by this morning, you would still be waiting. Because Superwoman (er, yer fav-o-rite blahgger) gave herself a pass this morning. Minus 2? No thanks. I could’ve dredged up my balaclava and my snow pants and I wouldda been plenty warm enough for minus 2. But what the heck.

WWWD was hot to find out whether or not I walked. His wife and her friend have a regular walking route that intersects mine assuming I’m not early (or late) and they *did* walk this morning but they apparently cut it short. My mild OCD wasn’t strong enough to send me outside this morning. If I had a walking buddy, I’d’ve probably been out there. I used to have a walking buddy or two or three (or four or five) but that was a long time ago and a whole ‘nother story. These days I’m on my own. Although I *love* an occasional companion, I prefer to walk alone, at least for my regular 0-skunk-30 walk.

A weather mini-rant…

I get so sick of hearing what the damn windchill is gonna be. It’s okay with me if the weather gals calculate the windchill and even report it. I am nerdy enough to appreciate that. But I wish there wasn’t so much blasted hype surrounding the windchill. When the wind blows in the god-forsaken Great Lake State, it’s cold! And if it is cold and/or windy, BUNDLE UP okay? Layer, layer, layer, make sure your face, ears, and neck are covered with something that actually insulates them, not some fashionable silk scarf or a hat doesn’t cover your ears or will blow off the moment the wind hits 5 mph.

Do NOT be like me as a once high school student up in the yooperland! Walking across the tundra in the dark in minus 28 degree temperatures. That was actual temperature, no windchill factor added in. Actually, I don’t remember it being windy those days. Wearing a cute little fake leopard skin coat with NO LINING OF ANY SORT and nylons [remember those, anyone]. Edit! And a mini-skirt! How could I forget that? I must’ve had a hat and gloves and boots but I’m sure they were more fashionable than functional. Miraculously, I never got frostbite.

When it is colder than blue blazes, like it is today, and the wind blows, which I don’t think it actually did much today, it is damn cold out! By the time I got home from work, it was either 8 (house) or 12 (car) above zero, so I walked over to the Plum Market, wind chill be damned. I was not wearing a stupid little fake leopard skin coat and I was warm by the time I got home.

Stay warm, you guys.

P. S. That’s my *new* indoor/outdoor thermometer there in the photooo. My *ancient* thermometer got stuck on 106 last summer. When it *was* actually 106 degrees. Isn’t this fancy newfangled thingamajig cool? Hmmm, it doesn’t seem to embiggen via clicking. I must have a new version of wordpress. I’ll have to figger it out… And so I did… Click to embiggen…

Don’t drive it over 50 or the engine will blow up

Monday, January 21st, 2013

blowerSo, we were driving down from the Group Home at Houghton Lake to The Landfill on The Planet Ann Arbor. The driving conditions could have been worse. At least we could see some of the ice. Man, do I hate ice driving. At least we were in the Frog Hopper, which has some decent winter taaaarrrs. But still.

Incoming email while driving down the I75 SUV Speedway on black [or not] ice:

What is “a twist?” Clock or counter-clockwise? Is anything explosive?

The GG is a dern good driver but I hate when he tries to respond to text / email messages while driving, especially on a day like today with ice everywhere. He apparently at least agreed that texting and ice-driving at the same time wasn’t the best thing, so he told me to reply with something like, “Clockwise but wear your earplugs because it might explode.”. The adult kid and her dad (and I) thought the whole thing was pretty funny (I think — *I* don’t think things like that are very funny). But…

But it kind of reminds me of a day when I was at the Moomincabin and I was not 50 yet and my loverly old POC minivan vee-hickle was in the shop up in Soo Ste. Siberia, so I borrowed the parents’ Geo. By the time I was ready to go off on whatever jaunt I was off on, the octo-parents were long gone. But there was a note on the table. It said, “Don’t drive the Geo over 50 mph or the engine will blow up”. The entire note was written in Fran’s handwriting including Jack’s signature.


Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Well, lemme see, how many times in one blahg entry dooya think I can tell you the temperature today? At least I can’t tell you it’s 40 degrees because it’s not anywhere near 40 degrees today. I was gonna tell you it was 12 but last time I checked, it seems to be 9.5. Cold and windy with a side helping of treacherous walking, even with YakTrax. Our wet slushy road froze solid overnight. I managed close to six miles anyway, split into two walks. Skiing? Nope. Not enough snow.

So, a cold slodgy day today and most of us slodged around at the Group Home the entire day. But then, the Beautiful Becky came home from a trip around the lake and made some wonderful chili in the afternoon and so we weren’t exactly hungry for our planned duck breast dinner until I dunno, around eight or so. I think the duck breast was successful and maybe we’ll do it again.

I am done for today. Football is still going on. I actually love the ambience of people watching football on TV while I hang out on the Internet. Good night…

Green Cheese

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

I think that about the most exciting thing that happened around here today was when we got diverted off of the main road around Houghton Lake because we were about to interfere with the Tip-Up Town parade. We had stopped at Woldemort to get a certain container and then Radio Shack and Home Depot. After the detour, we hit up the liqwire store and the Best Choice grocery store.

That snowmobiler in the photooo seems to be doing something dangerous. It was warm here today (40 or so) and it looks like there’s water out there just past the ice but it is actually ice. There is no snow on the ice this year. After the sun set tonight, we could see the reflections of snowmobile headlights out there on the ice. At any rate, the water in front of the group home is knee deep for many yards out and if a snowmobiler happened to go through the ice here, they might get pretty cold but they wouldn’t die unless something really weird happened.

It is the first of two Tip-Up Town weekends here and it was something like 40 degrees here today (yes, I already said that) with little periods of light rain. Tip-Up Town is an old ice-fishing festival that has been somewhat co-opted by snowmobiles in the last 50 years or so. It’s pretty warm here for an ice-fishing festival but it’s supposed to get a lot colder overnight. And now it seems that snow is spitting around and someone here spotted lightning. Yay for thundersnow and so goodnight.

P. S. Nothing like repeating myself 100 times or so. Blahgging in the midst of a room full of cackling people and a blaring TV!

Ho Hum

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Up at 0-skunk-30.

Shower. Walk. Breakfast. Chores. Pack. Mad neck-breaking scramble to get out the blasted door.


Mad neck-breaking scramble home through [non-rush hour, i.e., left work early] traffic to the Landfill.

Change clothes. Pack. Argue with GG about what food to take. Get stuff out of the refrigerator. Put it back. Get it out again. Mad neck-breaking scramble to get out the door into the Frog Hopper. Oops. Didn’t lock the Ninja. Back inside. I was driving so the GG got that loverly duty.

Drove three hours up the I75 SUV Speedway. Roads dry and traffic not tooooo terrible but not quite rush hour yet. Five speed traps. Three vee-hickles stopped for speeding in the West Branch area. Not me. I know better. And no, I’ve never been stopped. I know from watching people get stopped in the West Branch area over and over and over and over again for about a billion years. I go 70 or even a bit under from mile marker 190 until I get off at 227, the HL exit (yes, someone got stopped there tonight). And then they set speed traps on 55 (a 55 mph two-lane) after you get off the dern speedway. I *definitely* think we need highway cops because I have seen some crazy stuff on the freeways but I agree with the GG that having speed traps where cops are sitting around trying to catch people going maybe 80 on a lightly traveled stretch of freeway is not a good use of tax-payer dollars… … …

Sundown shortly after we got off the I75 SUV Speedway. Cold here at the cabin. Snow but not enough snow to ski. Didn’t bring skis. Think I need some new skis. I never have quite gotten along with my boots and I *hate* my bindings. Anyway, there’s not enough snow to ski. I will walk instead. I have my YakTrax.

Bar food at the North Shore. Friday night fish fry in honor of Grandpa Garth. Greasy but too busy lazy to organize better food ahead of time. Utility food.

Apple TV on the Group Home’s big-ass TV. No Beverly Hillbillies. I watched a Beverly Hillbillies movie last night. Randomly. I mean it was *on* so I watched it. It was made in maybe the 1990s? Cloris Leachman was playing Granny. It was all pretty stupid but I laughed my you-know-what off. When I was in third grade, I was allowed to stay up until 9:30 one night a week to watch TV. I picked the night the Beverly Hillbillies were on. Oh, the GG just put Lesley on for me. There were some scary moments during the 2012 campaign when Lesley’s anthem was about all that kept this baggy old feminist type person going. That and throwing things at whatever media I was reading / watching / listening to. (Oh, I’m just kidding, you guys. Sorta.) Now it’s Crimson and Clover. Memories of 9th grade. I think our “class colors” were crimson and silver. I suppose clover isn’t a color? Like a lot of the songs on the radio in those days, I never really listened to or understood that song’s lyrics. Although I never mistook the lyrics “Leaving on a jet plane” for “Lincoln on his death bed”. Nope. The Commander, listening to a girl singer / guitarist during the “talent” part of a church mother-and-daughter banquet in about 1970: “Why is she singing about Lincoln on his death bed?”

I was skeptical about Apple TV at first but, heck, if the GG wants a new toy, he can have one, especially if it’s one that doesn’t take up a lot of space (this is just little connectors and things). Now I hear that it may allow us to give up cable TV? Hmmm… Then we could get rid of the big-ass TV in the Landfill back room. And by big-ass, I mean one of those trenormous old Sony Trinitrons. Truly a big ass. Anyone want it?

I think I have hit new heights of random blather tonight. I am sorry. I am toadily roto (ducking so Mouse doesn’t hit me). When I started writing this, I was thinking in monosyllables. Now I am deep into diarrhea of the keyboard. Alas, I am still thinking in monosyllables.

G’night from the C Fam’s Group Home at Houghton Lake,


Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Lemme see…

I live under a rock when it comes to sports. I like to watch downhill skiing and ski jumping in the winter Olympics, that is about it. But even us under-rock worms cannot escape this stoooooopid Manti Te’o “catfish” thing. Seriously, WHO THE HECK CARES??? He is a college football player, fer kee-reist! If anything, the tragedy in this whole thing is that so many people idolize team sports “heroes”. They are not heroes at all. They are just people with a particular skill and / or talent. A *kid* in this particular case. An obviously confused kid. Why is this news? Oh, maybe because nobody shot up a school this week… People, get a blasted life!

Disclaimer: I do not hate football (or any other team sport). I loved going to high school and U of M football games as a kid, I love the ambience of football Saturdays here on The Planet. I love the ambience of football games on TV on New Year’s Day, etc. I love when the GG goes to a Lions game (yes, really) and texts me photos of him and his brothers from the stadium. But…

Godspeed Dear Abby. When I was a beach urchin, our little Sault Evening Snooze newspaper published her sister’s advice column, Ann Landers. I was an avid reader of Ann Landers from an early age. I always sorta felt like I had to sneak to read it because I had this vague feeling that The Commander didn’t approve, although I can’t remember her ever saying anything to indicate that and she certainly encouraged reading. Still. She did vociferously disapprove of soap operas, which of course made me fascinated by them, which probably led to my addiction to Dallas (who shot JR?), at least for the first couple years. (As a baby, Lizard Breath had a Fisher Price Little People guy with a cowboy hat that she called “JR”.) Anyway, looking back, I think I actually learned a lot about life from those old Ann Landers columns. Her advice wasn’t always perfect but when people called her out, she took her wet-noodle lashes well. I miss those gals and I only rarely tune in to today’s advice columns.

I think we have found a new go-to restaurant in downtown Planet Ann Arbor. The Grizzly Peak is a brew-pub and I always associate brew-pubs with, yaknow, beer. Which I like occasionally and in particular situations. We discovered on New Year’s Eve (*early* on New Year’s Eve before the partying got going downtown) that they do an admirable job with cocktails too. Those “crazy hipster kids” [wink] are emulating their grandparents’ generation by embracing martinis and manhattans, etc. The Grizzly Peak brew-pup brew-pub is catering to those “crazy hipster kids” and while it offers good beer, you can also get decent whine and cocktails. And the food was wonderful too!

I wonder if it’s possible to reserve the Moose Table! We will still be regulars at the Oscar Tango!

Happy No Politics Day

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Yes, it is that day again. I don’t usually dread No Politics Day (NPD). I learned a long time ago to use it to my advantage as much as possible. A day to do whatever the heck I wanted to. This year, I have been really blaaahhhh about it. Is it because it is the first NPD I’ve spent without The Comm’s presence on the earth? I dunno. People ask whaddya want for NPD? Well, nothing. I mean, I have Six-Four-Oh* and that’s a variation on what I have been asking for on every gift-giving type occasion (instead of typing “occasion” just now, I typed “equation”, what the heck does *that* say about me? I’m not sure I wanna know) is a dumpster in the driveway. Six-Four-Oh will do just fine.

*Six-Four-Oh is our home-away-from-home, aka storage unit.

I pay attention to polly-ticks nowadays but I am late to the table and a few years ago, I was up at HL on NPD and people were yammering away about polly-ticks and I got kind of fed up and declared that it was No Politics Day and people who were not in my nuclear family (aka the outlaws) could talk polly-ticks all they wanted but people *in* my nuclear family (aka the GG) could not. And guess what? Everybody respected my wishes! They were back at it the next day and that was okay. Since then, I have “drinken the koolaid” and nowadays the person who has the hardest time respecting NPD is meeeeeeeee! Sigh.

Dread or not, it wasn’t all that bad a day. I worked. I could’ve taken a day off now that it’s a new year and I have a full set of paid-time-off-type days available again. But I am gonna save those some of those damn days for summer! It was one of those work days where I thought I had my work cut out for me but ended up falling into a series of interesting rabbit holes. Yes, use whatever brain cells you have left at this advanced age, KW!

And, tonight? What a great time! Met up with both of the beach urchins and npJane down at the Grizzly Peak for dinner at a table under a *moose head*, of all things. I knew as soon as I saw that thing that the evening would be okay. I hope it is a good omen for the next year. After dinner, we headed over to the Oscar Tango for a nightcap, which is where I took the photoooo. And then we all toddled home.

Gifts? Well, yes, I did get one. Let’s just say I will be playing a bit of quidditch in the next year [wink]. And cookies and a natural bristle brush and the GG used NPD as an excuse to buy himself a gift, some sort of Apple TV or whatever. It’s okay. As far as I’m concerned, NPD is a great time for anyone to give and/or receive gifts. Or fling or whatever!

Love y’all and hope you had a wonderful No Politics Day.

Kayak Woman


Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

My old coot tends to haunt me by clinking ice cubes when I am home alone during the cocktail hour. I believe he is also responsible for leading us to Maggie, a chop-shop Honda Civic that has lived a good, long second life in the hands of one of the beach urchins. (The Engineer was probably involved with that one too.) And then there was the life-changing day I found a perfect piece of purple beach glass underneath my kayak. At the end of that day, the loverly career that I have today began the rather tortuous process of falling into my lap. (Crazy? Yeah, maybe…)

The Commander? She haunts me on the Internet.

Yes, really.

You are reading my blahg, so take a gander at the little Flickr widget on the right. I have a whole bunch of random photos out on Flickr and that widget is set to show a random selection. I do not know what photos you are seeing. What *I* usually see are photos of The Commander. Old photos from when she was young, with us when we were kids, with her grandchildren, making funny faces with Grandroobly, hanging out with Radical Betty and Cam, all kinds of stuff. I know this widget is supposed to display *random* photos, so it’s weird to me that my mother shows up in all or most of the photos almost all the time. Occasionally I do get a truly random set but more often than not, it’s all The Comm. Is she haunting me [grin]?

Today, I got the message in the photo from Twitter in my email. Actually, it came to Froggy and yes, he is on Twitter. He usually doesn’t tweet much of anything because he is usually banished to his “londry” basket to sleep off all those laundry detergent / listerine cocktails. Yes, The Commander had a Twitter account. I think she tweeted about 15 times. Her first *real* tweet was, “I’ve been sorting pins”.

The Commander finagled her first computer back in the late 1990s. I will never forget receiving an email from Jack & Fran Fin. Whaaaaa? Totally out of the blue. We (my brother and I) had been kind of bugging her to get online. We were both full of advice, some of it conflicting, and she decided to just do it herself. Grandroobly never quite caught on* but that would be a whole ‘nother story and I think he enjoyed looking at pictures that people sent, etc.

Our online lives accelerated during the last few years of The Comm’s life. She tried to keep up. She used on-line banking (and struggled with it a bit…). She set up that Twitter account (with the GG’s help). She bought an iPhone!!! And learned to text message! She never joined facebook. I thought about helping her with that a few times but I decided that if facebook was too complicated for me (and it is but I just muddle), it would be incomprehensible to her. I will never forget the day that I set up The Comm for a facebook chat (on my account) with her granddaughter in Cali (at that time). She told everyone she encountered about that chat.

I am joking about my moom haunting me via the internet. I can’t help wondering what new-fangled technologies will flummox me when I reach the end of my life and am so focused on things like how to get to the bathroom, etc., that I can’t absorb new technology. The Commander persevered almost until the end.

* Short story: My dad was a banking executive who was involved in the original transformation of his bank’s records to computerized format. It was not a fun experience. On the other hand, after he retired from that job, he worked free-lance doing bookkeeping for some rich old ladies and he was entranced when I showed him Excel on our old MacPlus.

It’s my blahg and I can kvetch if I want to

Monday, January 14th, 2013

So, lemme see. Got to work and wondered why my supervisor’s vee-hickle was not in the parking lot. The email said that she was dealing with a horrible sore throat et al, and wouldn’t be in. I am very glad she didn’t come to work because I do not wanna get whatever virus that is. I have not been sick in I cannot fathom how many years. There was a Christmas when I got a horribilus vomiting thing but that was a few years ago. I have not had a respiratory virus in a while.

Received a nasty-gram from the corporate bots five minutes before I left today that I hadn’t completed security training and needed to do it IMMEDIATELY. My “case” had been forwarded to upper-level management and yada yada… Yiiy… First, I think I did that training in August but I doubt that I can find proof of that. Second, usually when an employee (meeeee) is scheduled for on-line training, they get umpteen million email reminders. Third… Okay, I was ready to go home. The Rule Follower in me collided with the Straight-A Student. I could probably have completed the “training” in five minutes but I may not have managed to pass the test with 100%. Sigh. Straight-A student won the battle here. I will do the training first thing in the morning, so I can pass with 100%. I hope that’s good enough.

There’s other stuff but it is so trivial that you do not even wanna know. Oh, except that the blasted light above the chitchen sink flickered a few times and then kind of fizzled out. It’s one of those CFL coil-ly type bulbs that are supposed to last forever. I do not think they are all they are cracked up to be. We are using them for now but I am eagerly awaiting affordable LED lighting and I am actually revisioning my landfill chitchen window as something different. It may hold some plants, assuming I don’t kill them and there will be some pendant lamps hanging down there…

Love y’all. Who is going to Houghton Lake this weekend?

Mr. Bare Bear Hibernator

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

When I was a kid up in Sault Ste. Siberia, we spent every summer on the moominbeach. The moominbeach is only something like seven miles as the crow flies from Siberia, a bit longer by road. That meant that Grandroobly could commute to his banking job and we were free to swim and run around on the beach or along the paths through the woods to our cousins’ or friends’ cabins. Or hang out at our own cabin to read, draw, play the flute, whatever.

There were further destinations: The Pond (by beach or path(s)), Doelle’s (by beach or path (watch out for the foxholes!)), Birch Point, Cedar Point, Guano Round Island, The State Park (candy store!!! merry-go-round!!!). For many long years, we needed an adult for most of these destinations. Like, you can only get to Round Island by boat…

And The Back Light! I can’t envision the moominbeach back in the 1800s but of course shipping navigation systems were totally different then than they are now and so there was a pair of “range lights” at the end of the moominbeach. That end of the beach was almost totally deserted and inaccessible via road when I was a child. Alas, developers have made some inroads… Anyway, the long-neglected back light was accessible by an old path, once paved by some sort of cement pieces. An expotition to the back light was kind of a once-a-summer deal. It was a wet, slimy, buggy trip back there but once you got there, you could enter an old abandoned lighthouse and walk up the stairs to the top and then you could see over all the trees out to our bay. Yes, our parents thought this was a safe thing to do! And I love them for that. I only wish I could have taken my own children up to the top of the back light but I couldn’t because…

I think the photo of Grandroobly in front of the back light was taken sometime in the early 1980s. I can’t for the life of me remember what year it fell down. Radical Betty probably knows. She thinks she heard it fall… Anyway, I do not know who took the photo of npJane standing in front of the remains of the back light but I occasionally wonder where that photo is and I’m glad I found it!

If there was ever a day meant for hibernating, I think it was today, at least here on The Planet Ann Arbor. It wasn’t all that cold but it was dark and gray and it *felt* cold. The precipitation was in a liquid state and the skies were cloudy all day. And when I went out to throw a few things into the recycle bin this afternoon, I was thinking it sounded like ice pellets were falling. We’ll see what this turns into.

We took a ride out into the county and did a small hike in a new preserve. When I came home, I finished an on-going ironing prodject and no, it was not a sewing prodject. And then I threw together some enchiladas for dinner. Am I getting my cooking mojo back? Maybe…


Blasts from the past

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

I can’t even fathom how many years I have had a birch bark basket sitting on the Ugliest End Table On Earth, which sits next to the Green Couch. That basket contained the most random collection of photoooos on earth. Organized in a, well, actually not organized at all! It was a dumping ground and not one that I can even begin to describe without writing about 50,000 words. I wish I had taken a picture of the basket before I began sorting them this afternoon. At least then you could get an idea of the magnitude of the job. Think shoebox. And a shoebox can hold a heckuva lot of photos. So… Sort and re-sort. And re-sort. And re-sort. And re-sort. I am not done yet but here are a smattering of what I’ll call the “outtakes”… All of the photos in this post were taken with film cameras, some of them by the cute little disc camera we bought on our honeymoon in the Canadian maritime provinces. Then there are the boxes and boxes and boxes of photos in the Landfill Dungeon and some albums that we’ve actually put together because we used to do that but it’s all over now… Anyway…

First, none other than the GG and yer fav-o-rite blahgger AAANNNNDDD [drum roll] “Daddy’s Little Blue Car” aka the GG’s 1980 Ford Fiesta. We are standing in front of the C fam’s old house on Woodsboro Drive in Royal Joke, just a few blocks away from the Shrine of the Silver Dollar Little Flower, where the GG went to grade school and re-confiscated things the nuns stole from him, or so he says. He can rebut my possibly fractured version of his childhood escapades if he wants to [wink]. I loved that down coat when I bought it and I was so nervous about spending that much money… Down coats were kind of fashionable at the time… I would *never* buy a thing like that nowadays. I am the goddess of layering… Who was I then?

I almost didn’t give this next photo a second look. Okay, it’s Liz sitting in a duct tape chair next to a bear and making a weird face. Then I remembered, oh yeah, the Landfill Dungeon used to sprout duct tape chairs! For quite a few years when we were new home-owners, it seemed like we’d manage to get rid of an old duct tape chair and two more would magically appear. That was before the days when duct tape was a cool art supply… We still have that stereo thingy. At least the case. I *think* that many of the components have been replaced but I have long stopped keeping track of that. I remember when we bought that stereo and how nervous I was about spending that much money…

Here we are at the *old* Houghton Lake Group Home, before it was rebuilt. Lizard Breath is on the right and a teensy bit of the newborn baby Mouse’s head down below Liz. And Donny and Doug and the *beautiful* grandma Sally, who died way too young. Note that there is *one* computer there – our MacPlus or whatever it was. Nowadays, the New Group Home is filled with computers: laptops and iPads and smartphones. I remember when we bought that MacPlus and how nervous I was about spending that much money.