Archive for March, 2013

In my Easter bonnet…

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

quarryI always laugh when my Jewish buddies wish me a happy Easter. I don’t really “do” Easter.

When I was a kid, Easter *was* a big deal and it wasn’t about getting your picture taken with the Easter Bunny at the mall. There wasn’t even a mall back then, at least not where I grew up. We would wake up and look for hidden Easter eggs (not the computer kind), then there were Easter baskets filled with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans and stuff nested in Easter grass. And there would usually be a gift or two. And then we dressed in our Easter finery to attend some sort of event at church and probably a dinner at Grandma’s or Don and Katie’s. All of the businesses in town were closed on Easter in those days. Even the grokkery stores and probably the gas stations (but I don’t really remember). Convenience stores? I don’t think we had those when we were kids.

I don’t practice a religion nowadays and we did not raise the beach urchins in any kind of church setting, although we certainly did hide Easter eggs and provide Easter baskets and gifts, etc. I think religion is fine when it involves a personal relationship with some higher power and/or provides a caring community for people who need one. What got me off the train is the hypocrites so often encountered and that religion is so often used as an excuse to start wars or kill/enslave/oppress people. I do *not* think that our tax dollars should support any kind of religious organization and I do *not* think that religion has any place in polly-ticks. I think that there probably *is* a higher power of some sort. I don’t think that higher power cares about our petty problems. I do believe in the Golden Rule but often fail in practice, alas…

In my Easter bonnet today, I took an early rain walk with the GG during which he bagged our planned hiking tour for the morning. Back at the Landfill, I made eggs benny for the GG, Lizard, and I. Some slodging around ensued and then LB and I prepared to walk to The Plum Market. She grabbed her sunglasses and I was thinking, “What? It is cloudy out…” Halfway through the Plum, things got *bright*. The SUN WAS OUT! (The Plum has skylights.) We finished our shopping, walked back home and dragged the GG out for a couple more mini-hikes, like this one at the Fox Science Center (photo), an old quarry.

Liz went back to FF and I tried to go to Staples and that’s when I realized that most stores (including Staples) *were* closed for Easter. So, a mini-ham dinner here tonight with Mouse (who apparently has the mangy old cold virus that we have both survived) and back to work tomorrow. Heigh-ho!

A gardening slave driver and the dead aminal patrol

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

hickenI had a plan to work on the Landfill Dungeon this weekend. Particularly the room where the washing musheen and dryer and a whole shit-ton of junk reside. This was a dicey prodject because a lot of that “junk” doesn’t really belong to me. But that room is feeling dirty and kind of creepy-crawly to me* and I neeeeeeed to clean it. Actually what I really need to do is take everything out of it and turn a fire hose on it. Alas, I won’t be doing that.

So, today I made some minor inroads toward getting that prodject done. But the best plans of mice and men often go awry and so did mine. Sort of. Mouse has been waiting for a day when she could come over and get some garden beds going. Today was the day. And Mouse really isn’t a slave driver. What happened is that I went outside to see what was going on and the next thing I knew, I was pulling old dead oak leaves out and away from struggling crocus shoots. I did most of this without a rake, bending over and scooping up leaves and sticks and pulling out some sort of vine that was *not* poison ivy (I figgered out, thank you god or whatever). I am no stranger to exercise but that particular form of exercise served to help me discover muscles I don’t think I knew I had. It’s okay, it’s that good thank you for using me feeling.

And so, as I was pulling weeds away from new crocus shoots, I, uh, encountered a dead aminal. I recoiled in horror before I touched the aminal (because I am a wimp) but I also had fancy rubber gardening glubs on so, if I had… Oh Veeelhelm! Dead aminal in the back yard! He gallantly threw the chipmunk over the fence into the woods. And yes, it was the chipmunk that died in our house a while back. Don’t ask. Then. Walking by the birdhouses hung on the north side of the Landfill, I saw for the umpteenth time what I thought was the remains of a dead bird sticking out the entrance. Veeelhelm! Dead bird alert. It was a dead bird and a whole bunch of other bird hoarder crap and a long tirade about house sparrows and their housekeeping habits ensued, yada yada…

And so I worked outside today instead of inside? Okay, it was actually WARM out today. It won’t be for much longer. There will be plenty of time to work down in the dungeon in the next couple months.

That’s Hicken there in the photooo, not Mouse…

Dragging along behind the Easter Bunny

Friday, March 29th, 2013

reflectionsWe used to have a real Easter bunny at work in the form of a six-foot pink stuffed bunny that sat outside Broosie’s cube for a couple months surrounding Easter. Pink Bunny would arrive sometime after Snowy and Snowy left for the summer. Some people were not crazy about Pink Bunny and, after Broosie moved to a new cube that was arguably more in the “public” eye, an email went out advising that people should leave “weird holiday decorations” at home. I understand aiming for a modicum of professionalism but I never minded Big Pink Bunny. After all, Froggy visits the office occasionally for frog-type holly-days like Halloween and St. Paddy’s Day (and gets invited to meetings and luncheons and drunken bashes and things). Also, “public” is kind of a mis-nomer because almost *nobody* besides maintenance-type people *ever* come in from the outside and the few actual clients who do come in usually show early on that they are just as eccentric as those of us that work there and totally understand that some people need to haul huge pink rabbits to work with them. Harmless eccentricities are part of what makes life worth living.

Anyway, the Easter Bunny, in the form of a friendly executive at the mother ship, kicked us all out at two this afternoon. Man did we need that! Also, there was this bizarre bright light in the sky. None of us could quite figure out what it was but I was sitting waaaaayyy in the back of Barry Bagels this morning and it was blinding me even back there. But it felt soooo gooood!

It’s been a few weeks since I walked downtown on a Friday afternoon. The original plan was the usual one, dinner at the Oscar Tango. We switched to the Grizzly Peak brewery though because we invited someone who has got to have extreme cabin fever due to a broken knee. I cannot even imagine. Well, actually I *can* imagine — that’s why YakTrax are “consumables” for me in the winter (although this particular accident didn’t turn out to be ice-related). Anyway, we all realized that the steps at our beloved OT are not all that accessible even with a walking cast. We’ll get back there soon but the Grizzly accommodated our needs very graciously, even waiving their requirement that only parties of more than four can get reservations.

A chance encounter with L the Rake’s mom outside the Grizzly (she had also eaten there) and then a gorgeous ride along the river and down through farmland and forest topped off the evening. And then home to the Landfill. Lots of weekend plans! Hope yours is a good one!

I don’t do networks…

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

ojibwaySigh… Once upon a time, I owned a printer that plugged directly into my 2003 12-inch screen G4 powerbook. I could print anything whenever I wanted to. Life was good. Eventually we went waarrrless here at the Landfill. For a long time, that was okay too. My laptop could “see” the waaarrrless printer and therefore print to it. I’m not sure when things went south but it has been forever since my laptop has been able to “see” the waaarrrless printer. That means that I can’t print anything. Well, not without going into the frickin’ snake pit, unplugging a waaaarrrr from the back of the damn Mother Ship and plugging it in to the airport or whatever that white thing is.

Look. I am not stoopid. At least not always. I am a systems analyst. But I DO NOT DO NETWORKS!!!! Oh, I will pony up at work if I decide I don’t want to be viewed as “girly”. Not that anyone there thinks I am “girly”. Weird, maybe… When we had a strange day of “half-power” earlier this winter and my regular power source was dead, FZ yelled over the wall to check out other outlets. What other outlets? Four of them, as it turned out… We have huge cubes… I hit the floor and plugged / unplugged like crazy until I found an outlet that worked. I hope no one who happened to walk by was offended by my baggy old butt mooning them from under my cube.

Still, it seems to me that the printing services here at The Landfill have deteriorated over the years. It kind of reminds me of my [beloved] father-in-law, a [very talented] old-skool mechanical engineer. It always seemed like there was a note on his TV to the effect of “Do not touch”. Okay, how *do* you run the dern TV if you can’t touch the dial? There may or may not have been a remote control involved in this… And then there were the clocks up at Houghton Lake. One of them had a note saying, “Clock is dead, do not run.” Balancing that out (maybe) was the “It’s always five o’clock somewhere” clock. It didn’t run but then, it wasn’t *designed* to run. [hee hee hee]

If I have to plug and unplug cables, I guess I will, sigh. Just seems like (in 2013) this should not have to be an issue.

A wee bit of Cali encountered in Fabulous Ferndale

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

cablecarActually, I think we were in Pleasant Ridge for this cute little encounter. Megalopolis sorta all runs together for me, especially when I cross city limits by walking up an alley. Well until you get down into Dee-troit proper, where whole neighborhoods look like they’ve been bombed and even the normally fearless GG doesn’t like to get off the main thoroughfares.

Geez oh pete! Remind me to *never* try to pay for anything at The Plum Market via a check! I chose lane number 1 today, not without some trepidation. The woman ahead of me didn’t have a lot of stuff, maybe 10 items, but three of those were bottles of champagne and that means extra bagging and there was no bagger in sight. Still, I gambled and put down my five items behind her and, with my backpack already unzipped ready for loading and my debit card in hand, I waited for my turn. And waited. And waited. The bagging was pretty quick even without a bagger. But then. The woman ahead of me asked if she could write a check. Well, of course! Oh boy… But still, how long could this take? It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r… Even though this woman had her phone number and her driver’s license number and I dunno what else PRINTED on her check, the clerk had to check all of that stuff off, write down the license expiration date, and I do not know what else. And THEN!!! Something was broken. A machine to scan the check maybe? Check the ABA / account number maybe? I wasn’t sure. But the clerk had to CALL someone and even after that, she did more excruciatingly slow writing on the check. Meanwhile… At the adjacent express counter, people came and went, came and went. Why did I not choose the express counter? I do not know. Everyone in line there when I chose lanes plus about five more customers were long gone by the time I got outta there.

The check-writing woman apologized for slowing everything down and I joked that I doubted I could even *find* my checkbook. That statement was an untruth. I know where my checks are. I just rarely use them! I don’t *ever* carry them to the grokkery store or anywhere else around town. I do try to remember to throw them into my backpack when I am traveling somewhere. Sometimes they do come in handy.

It was different when I was a kid working as a cashier at the old Sault Ste. Siberia Tempo Store. (Let’s go… to Tem-po… The price is low at Tem-po… Tempo is your store with more… At lowest possible prices. Doo doo doo.) The cash register I ran was the old-skool kind where there were rows and rows of buttons. We had to add up our own sales tax, helped by little numbers that showed up in the “windows” at the top of the cash register. I am good at things that require using my hands, like typing and playing the flute. I am good at remembering things like prices and “line numbers” and “tag numbers” and calculating sales tax percentages. Those skills transferred well to running a cash register and many was the time I could “ring up” somebody’s stuff before they even had a chance to put it down on my conveyor belt. (Did we have conveyor belts there? I cannot remember…)

Back in those days, most people paid by cash or check. When people handed us credit cards, it was a pain in the you-know-what. We had to use those infamous old credit card carbon-copy forms, where we hand-wrote the price and sales tax, then stuck the card underneath the form into a low-tech device that imprinted the card info onto the forms. If the total was over $50, we had to call the store office and the office had to call an 800 number to get a verification code that the card was okay, which we would have to write (with a pen) onto the form… This could take a while… Sometimes the office staff was busy and didn’t answer the phone immediately. Sometimes the damn *800 line* was busy. A manager could override that situation but sometimes the *managers* were busy. Did we have impatient people in our lines? Yes we did. I particularly hated when I had to make someone wait who I knew had picked my lane because they knew how fast I was. It wasn’t my fault. It was company policy.

I always try to remember those days when I am in a situation like I was today. The cashier was doing her best but had to follow company policies but I’m sure she got that I was radiating impatience (even though I understood her predicament). Being an on-line banking systems analyst and a once cashier, I also try to think of ways the store could make a better customer experience, not that I have any control over that at my neighborhood grokkery store. (And I love The Plum but stuff does happen. Breathe, KW.)

Sunnier today. Sunny enough that the I94 18-wheel Clogway accident of the morning was due to sun and not black ice. We got up to 45 degrees this afternoon and I’ll take that. Cold virus? Still coughing a bit but a quantum leap forward and every cough seems to be productive and that’s about as far as I’ll go with that except to say that it’s a good thing.

In the zen of waiting for spring…

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

batscopeYet another ugly, gray, chilly, raw day. The clouds occasionally parted just enough to tease us with bits of blue sky. Not enough… Plus it’s a kind of slow week at work. For me, anyway. Dev and QA are on the other end of the prodject and they are in stress mode at this point. I’m sitting around picking away at small issues and ancillary documentation, waiting for the next prodject’s requirements to be handed down.

The GG spiced it all up by changing his plane reservations from El Paso to Daytwa like twice. I had expected to pick him up at 5:40 PM. Then it was 9:15 PM (yuck), then he managed to change his flights and ended up landing at 2:30 PM… In a snow squall… Like the snow squalls I drove out to Metro and back in. Roads were fine, thank you god. Squalls were light and temps were in the upper 30s / lower 40s. (I am thankful that I don’t work for Marissa because I was able to leave in the mid-afternoon to pick the GG up at Metro, take him home and work from home the rest of the afternoon.)

So, spring is late. But that is a good thing in the grand scheme of things because last March we had an extended period of 80-90 degree days and a tornado and then freezing temperatures in April. Guess what that did to the Great Lake State crops?

This year:

Farmer John’s asparagus crop should be prolific this year. Looking forward to being able to buy his produce at the “farmer’s market” in my work lunchroom. Asparagus is only the beginning.

Besteman’s should have a good maple sugar run this year.

Holland (Michigan) should be able to hold a tulip festival this year rather than a tulip *stem* festival. Kudos for Holland for making the best of things last year.

Traverse City should be able to hold the annual cherry festival without importing cherries from Poland.

And then there was the apple crop.

Whatever, Batscope hitchhiked home on the GG’s plane(s) today and Frooog has obviously adopted him.

Cautiously optimistic about marginally higher temperatures this weekend. Rain? That would be okay.

In which I am *not* the first terrorist of the year

Monday, March 25th, 2013

nctsunI was not the first terrorist of the year this year because I was down here on The Planet Ann Arbor, slaving away in the salt mines on THE DAY THE SOO LOCKS OPENED! Two years ago, I totally confused some locks security folks in the small, usually quiet, city of Sault Ste. Siberia.

I remember that day pretty well, actually. I remember The Commander bustling around in her beloved house cooking for us, etc., etc. She was making a pork roast and I remember us discussing how to kind of jazz it up, plus we needed a couple of grokkery items in general. I put my backpack on and walked down the escarpment to the SuperValu and schlepped a whole pineapple and I fergit what else back up. I was worried about her living alone and driving (at 90!) but she seemed to be doing okay…

A few weeks later, we made another trip up. Similar stuff. We went hiking with the North Country Trail folks and then attended their annual meeting/presentation type thing at the Pure Country Restaurant in Rudyard. Looking back, I see a warning sign. The Commander didn’t want to go to the dinner. She had attended the year before, had a wonderful time, and was treated like royalty. Mrs. Finlayson, what would you like, can I get you anything, etc. … … But, okay. She was still bopping around cooking for us…

The next day, we drove down south and I didn’t call her for a few days. That was dicey. We were getting to the point where I felt like I really needed to call her every day. Or most days. It was hard. The Comm did not have dementia but she had difficulties processing conversational speech* and phone conversations in particular were tortuous. I wish I *had* called her sooner that week but I didn’t. She had seemed okay the Sunday we left, bustling around making breakfast for us. And then. I work. And we bought a blasted vee-hickle (The Frog Hopper) that Monday. When I finally called her on Wednesday night, her speech was slurred… Apparently, she suffered a small stroke later on Sunday (the day we left) and didn’t quite figure out that she needed help with that until I called.

A rather wild scramble ensued. I drove up the next morning only to find that a totally incompetent ER doc had DISCHARGED her with nausea meds!!!!! I have gone over and over and over and over in my mind what I should’ve done when I got there that day but the fact is that I am a systems analyst and I had no clue. So I spent a HORRENDOUS night alone with her in her house, got her back (by ambulance) to the ER the next morning only to have the same nincompoop try to discharge her again. No!!! (Thanks again to Our Northern Correspondent and also the GG and the UU for help and moral support. That was an awful day.)

That was the last night The Comm slept in her house (with me “sleeping” on the floor in the bedroom across the hall from hers listening for her to fall out of bed…). She initially recovered from the stroke quite well and I kind of expected her to live on for a few years. I was hoping that she would be able to do overnights at her house or the moomincabin when we were around. It was not to be. She never spent more than a few hours at her house again. She did an overnight at the moomincabin and a couple weeks at Jeep and Pan’s house. And then a loverly apartment at Freighter View assisted living. A downhill slide ensued. Repeated aspiration pneumonia incidents and then a damn c. diff infection that took her down. Hospital infections are bad…

I didn’t really mean to blahg about this stuff today but some of my facebook friends posted photos and videos about the beginning of the shipping season. And it got me thinking about the last couple years. And the year that *i* was walking around down by the Soo Locks when it opened for the season.

* A wonderful friend of Lizard Breath’s is a speech therapist and she has a *word* for what The Comm struggled with.

Word of the day? How about blech?

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

crocusYeah, it was one of *those* days. I could kvetch about the weather (which really was blech) or complain that my regular hiking buddy is off gallivanting around somewhere in the southwest this weekend. But really, I only have meeeeeeee to blame for the blechness. As in, quit slodgin’ around and git offa yer dern keister, KW!

Got up a whole *hour* late!!! That means it was light when I *started* my walk this morning! The *plan* was to walk *early*, eat the rest of yesterday’s breakfast, then gas up the Frog Hopper and hit up the Jackson Rd. Meijer *early* before the crowds descended. You know, for things like toilet paper and laundry detergent that I can’t reasonably haul home from The Plum Market in my backpack. For whatever reason, I did not make that trip until about noon. I wasn’t totally idle during that time. I did a couple loads of laundry and cleaned The Blue and Only Bathroom. But still.

I decided (for about the umpteenth time) to attack paperwork this afternoon. I was relatively successful except for the three (or was it four) trips I made out to the driveway to put the latest vee-hickle registration forms into the Ninja and Frog Hopper. Unlock vee-hickles, fumble around in glove boxes, etc., lock vee-hickles. How can something like that be so blasted difficult? You do not want to know. Usability note to the Great Lake State: put the expiration date front and center and make the font HUUUUUGE! I can easily see fine print but I had to keep re-orienting myself to where the date was. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the most important piece of information on the document and it certainly does not stand out. (Of course, the fact that some people around here are loathe to throw out expired documents makes it harder to deal with paperwork in general but I’ll leave that rant for some other day (or never).)

A couple good non-blechy things!

When I finally kicked myself off of my iPhone and Burping Tregurtha (I think that’s gonna be my new MacBook Pro’s name, I wonder what The Engineer would think), I took the Long Cut (along the river) to get to the grokkery store and I found another new nature preserve to explore. I didn’t explore it today but I’ll be back.

And yes, there are crocuses (croci?) coming up in the “garden”. That’s definitely a good thing. What is bothering me is that these are very very old crocuses that were here when we bought The Landfill way back when. I planted a whole bunch of crocus bulbs last fall and I see no evidence that they exist…

But still. Something is growing again.

Start your day right with a 24-egg omelet!

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

maesA little R & R today. You are as happy about that as I am. Gets my brain off news and polly-ticks and stuff. [grin]

Lemme see… Got up and took my 0-skunk-30 walk. 20 degrees or thereabouts but black ice was limited to a small (easily avoided) section of sidewalk at the end of my block by the entrance to the schoolyard / woods.

Picked up Mouse at her apartment 8:30-ish, then hit the freeway over to the other side of town…

…to Lizard Breath’s apartment.

Collected Liz and walked a few blocks up the alley along Woodward to Mae’s for breakfast. I had the huevos mexicanos. Oh don’t worry. I didn’t eat the whole thing. I took half of it home in a box so I can revisit the experience here in my own chitchen tomorrow morning.

Back to Lizard’s where Mouse cut my hair! A SUMMER HED O’ HAIR!! Man, my hair gets leggy in March. It is the *only* month out of the whole year that I feel like maybe some conditioner might help. And it was particularly looonnnnng this March. This morning. No more.

Haberman’s Fabrics via Liz’s car. For Mouse. Back when I sewed my own clothing, I used to easily succumb to the “crack” that a fabric addict finds in a true “fine fabric” store, i.e., *not* Joann Fabrics, which *is* what it *is* but is *not* a “fine fabric” store. My first “fine fabric” store was The Textile Shop across the International Bridge in Soo Ontario. It was where we bought the fabric for my first formal dress. The Commander made it for me and it’s one of the few dresses I still have from my childhood. (Fortunately I didn’t keep the boyfriend.) I once made a lot of my own clothing too but nowadays I order my clothes online from Chico’s or JJill and various other places. But I appreciate that one of my children likes to make at least some of her own clothing and is *better* at it than I was. And has much more elegant taste. That stuff skips a generation, I think.

Mouse, after paying for her stuff at Haberman’s, spied yet another interesting bolt of something but somehow we made it outta there more or less alive. Fabric stores, like Lake Superior, apparently have rip-tides. [grin]

I can’t quite describe the next stop and I can’t find a link to it. Many booths filled with homemade or vintage stuff or art made out of things people probably threw out of their parents’ / grandparents’ houses when they died. And here I am deacquisitioning stuff. Alas. [grin]. I did buy one thing though and the proprietor was able to take my credit card via her Square device. I know about Square but this was my first experience. So cool.

And no, I did not use my card to buy the 100-year-old baby beaver in a jar of formaldehyde (?). I was tempted but I couldn’t quite bring myself to purchase it. (Sorry, @tmotu.)

Anyway, not much of anything constructive done today but I needed a day like that!

It’s the economy, stupid.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

silhouettesToday was not a good day for public education here in the god-forsaken Great Lake State. I don’t think passing the EAA bill is a done deal yet but I can’t say for sure. Try as I might, I can’t quite keep up with this stuff. I have a full time career and about a billion other things to do and, yaknow… Speak s-l-o-w-l-y, I’m blonde, aka, I don’t totally understand it. (Or want to. And why the heck do I *have* to? Because our elected legislators are not trustworthy.)

What I do understand is that it seems the idea is for an dictator of some sort — EFM, EM, whatever, to come in, close a bunch of schools in an under-performing district (like Detroit) and fire all of the existing teachers, then re-open [some of] the schools in some sort of “charter school” format. They hire back some of the teachers and fill in with untrained teachers from the likes of Teach For America. Enthusiastic kids with no frickin’ clue. Why is this good for the students?

Yes, there are many problems with public education. Yes, we have school boards who make egregiously irresponsible financial decisions (“I’ve got an uncle in the furniture business” and other misadventures). Charter schools are not inherently bad. As I understand it, originally they were supposed to provide educational “laboratories” to try out new educational ideas and strategies. They were public schools but the idea was that they would be small and carefully designed with input from all of the stake-holders. I agreed with that. Nowadays… Our state is willing to replace schools and sometimes whole school districts willy-nilly with big businesses that masquerade as charter schools. Technically, they are still public schools but they are also selling stuff to us taxpayers and our ill-informed elected officials. Standardized testing programs and technology mostly. Technology is an important TOOL but iPads will not save education and using the results of standardized testing to evaluate teachers? I have no words, except maybe, “yeesh!”

I could go on and on (and on and on) about this stuff. Can the likes of Bill Gates and Michael Milken (Michael Milken? Really?) fix them? I don’t think so. I think they are largely in this venture for their own personal gain. What is wrong with our schools country is that no one seems to care about the extreme poverty pervasive to the families whose children attend so many of our struggling schools. Where there is no food on the table (or even a table). Where the kids can’t sleep at night because they are terrified because: a) people are doing drugs at the house and there are fights, etc., b) mama’s boyfriend will come and “visit” them during the night, c) they are living in a car, d) All of the above… There are kids who arrive at kindergarten NOT KNOWING HOW TO USE A TOILET!!!!! I once over-heard my kids’ [beloved] old-school kindergarten teacher complain that she had a kid didn’t know how to use SCISSORS!!! I was horrified at the time. Now I know how lucky she was to be teaching here on The Planet Ann Arbor…

These stupid for-profit (make no mistake, they *are* for-profit and your tax dollars will pay for them) charter schools are not the answer. Testing testing testing is not the answer. On-line courses will be an important part of education going forward but they should not replace neighborhood schools. Getting rid of recess and art and music (especially instrumental music) and gym (as much as I hated gym!) is not the answer. We need to teach the arts. I think we even need football.

I am zee veeetch ovv Reeeetseema Wooooods

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

myhouseLizard sent along this link to an article discussing the [many] accents and dialects of The Great Lake State. It’s kind of long but the short of it is that there is quite a big difference between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, at least the southern lower. I don’t think the mid or upper lower are mentioned.

When I was a kid in the yooperland, I noticed that my Detroit area cousins pronounced their “a” vowels differently than I did. Apparently, it’s called the Northern Cities Vowel Shift but I just thought of it as nasal, which the article actually mentions. Up in the Yoop? It’s a big place and there are varying accents / dialects (with Canadian, Finnish, and Native American Ojibway tribe influences). I grew up in Sault Ste. Siberia and I always thought we talked “normally”, whatever that means. Of course, my grandparents would sometimes end sentences with “eh”, like the Canadians, which would make sense because my paternal grandparents were both born in Canada. My parents did not follow that speech convention. Actually, The Commander was from the Detroit area and, as an educated woman who was brought up “properly” (and tried her best with me…), the biggest problem that I had with language up in the yoop was that I wasn’t “allowed” to talk like a lot of the kids I went to school with. Like, if I wanted to say something like, “I ain’t got none”, I would have to make sure I was over in the schoolyard or somewhere The Commander couldn’t hear me.

I won’t go on and on about accents and dialects and stuff. It is still sometimes a little weird to me that I came from the yooperland but have grown deep roots down here on The Planet Ann Arbor. I live two lives in a way. There are so many stereotypes about the UP and, when I was in college (in the southern lower peninsula), I learned to be careful about who I told where I was from because, as a well-dressed, not terrible-looking young woman, I was often inaccurately pegged as a northern Dee-troit suburb rich babe. I was not (especially the rich part, I made a lot of my own clothes then, hello?) but being from the UP sometimes made me “exotic” somehow. Um, we are not all hicks up there, thank you very much. “What is your major?” is another question that could sometimes raise it’s ugly head. Classical flute player. “Oh, do you know Jethro Tull?” Bangs head on computer screen 30 years after the fact… After a while I got tired of trying to explain who I was to boring northern Dee-troit suburb people boys who thought that all Yooper “girls” had grown up with outhouses (and I did but — snort) and were just waiting for some fancy frat boy to take them outta the UP forever take them out on a couple dates and then dump them. No thank you…

That was then. I was young. I ran into the GG, who, well let’s just say as a person who was from a northern Dee-troit suburb but whose family had a then rustic cabin at Houghton Lake, he understood… Nowadays I live a fractured life between The Yooperland and The Planet Ann Arbor. I don’t know what my accent sounds like these days. I hope I haven’t unconsciously incorporated the dreaded Northern Cities Vowel Shift into my speech. I do add an “eh” to certain types of declarative sentences sometimes. With a sly look at the person I’m talking to and a wink and a nod to my long-dead grandparents. A lot of the folks I work with are from Russia or India or China or wherever and I’m not sure that when I append “eh” to a statement that they understand it. Why would they? When I exaggerate my inflection and add a facial expression, they get it. Anyway, for me, it’s just an affectation.

Typhoid Banana

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

treesActually, I was accused of having the bubonic plague, not typhoid. It was the LSCHP, who was looking into my cube from over the cube walls from a vantage point just outside the bathrooms. If you are tall, like the LSCHP, you can see all kinds of stuff as you traverse the building. Of course, if you are tall, like the LSCHP, everyone can see *you* as you traverse the building. Me? I can stand on tiptoe in my cube and see if the LSCHP’s door is open or closed. That’s about the extent of it. But I can go to the ladies powder room unobserved. Except for those moments when I round a corner at the top speed I generally travel at and almost knock over someone else who doesn’t top the cube walls. Stop signs anyone? [grin]

I would say I am back up at 100% but for the residual hacking up a lung stuff that lingers. So, let’s say 99%. The coughing is annoying but it’s getting better by the day. Going in or outside sometimes triggers coughing. Eating something, standing up, walking around, etc., too sometimes. I’m at the point of thinking it through. “In another week, I will not be coughing…” (That is how I got through the later months of pregnancy too. “By Thanksgiving, I’ll be holding a baby.” Etc.)

Is this really the first day of spring? I’m not turning off my xmas lights just yet. When I drove to work this morning, the sun was shining brilliantly but there were intermittent snow squalls. At one point it was so beautiful I almost wanted to stop and get a picture. You can’t photograph every moment of your life though and I trundled on. Roads were dry. Yay. Snow squalls continued throughout the day. Roads stayed dry.

Pulled into my parking spot by the pond to see a familiar face (and wings) careering toward my windshield. Like maybe about a foot away from it. Yiiiy! My own personal redwing blackbird has returned. Welcome back buddy. And welcome to Spring Birdpoop Season.

Oh, and around here, it is also Dead Branch season. The photo is just down the street from me but this is what it looks like all over town (often much worse) and has ever since the seven inches of slushy snow we got a few weeks ago knocked branches down everywhere. The city has actually decided to provide a *service* to its taxpayers and is picking all of this stuff up! I mean a service besides erecting various pieces of “public art” or building yet another 14-story young professional rich student apartment building downtown. I wouldn’t want to live on the 14th story knowing that the city has been ratcheting back the fire department in recent years but that’s just me, I guess.

Button my buttons, I’m a reindeer

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

franteaching5Agate Gal (who has a son, I don’t) wrote much more coherently about the Steubenville rape situation than I did yesterday in my chaotic post. What am I writing about again? Rape? Or reminiscing about my childhood years…

AgateGal says what needs to be said. I am going to reminisce…

I can’t remember what subject my high school football coach taught as a teacher. I do think that there were probably situations where sports kids were passed even though they didn’t earn their grade. That was a bad thing then and I’m sure it still happens. I was mostly irritated that I didn’t get to be the object of adulation as a flute player. But people were not interested in classical flute players and I was not noticed at all. “It gets better”…

When I was in high school, The Commander was a home economics teacher there. Remember them? They taught cooking and sewing? Forgive me moooom! My mom created a class called “Child Care”. She contracted with some church or nursery school to let her high school students work with the young children in a day care / nursery school setting.

For whatever reason, a bunch of the senior football players took that class. To this day, I’m not sure if the coach encouraged them to take it or if they just wanted an easy A or what. I remember that those kids had a wonderful time interacting with young children in that class and my mom loved them.

I never took a class from my mother. I was on the “college track” and I was taking English and math and all that stuff and I didn’t “need” home-ec. Except I was already getting that stuff at home. Well, not the child-care stuff. I had to figger that stuff out on my own. And I did. …

I have to note that here on the Planet Ann Arbor, football players AND THEIR COACHES have been in COURT because of a big brawl that occurred during (?) a football game last fall. And yes, some of the coaches were fighting too. Nice going guys. Such good sportsmanship!

It’s winter (yes, still) and this is Michigan…

Monday, March 18th, 2013

springbreakbeachMy problems today are first-world problems. My house is warm and has reliable lucky-shucky and running hot water and The Blue and Only Toilet and its friends. There are two late-model vee-hickles in the driveway. I cannot tell you how many computing devices we own at this point. Tre-guuuuuurrrrtha!

Still, I was out of sorts today. All day. It isn’t only that I am still coughing out the cold virus that hit me last week, although that was annoying. And yes, I am fine. I had a wonderful 3-mile walk this morning and I returned from that greatly exhilarated..

Sigh. Football players and rape. Again. Yes, Steubenville. Y’know, why is it that we (as a society, I mean) continue to elevate children (yes, children) who happen to be good at an athletic sport into the realm of heroes?

When I was a little kid, I really wanted to be a popular high school girl, homecoming queen and dating the quarterback or whoever. I never did that. I was never that “cool”. By the time I was actually *in* high school, I kind of didn’t cared. I had Bad Boyfriend (a cross-country runner) and then, in junior year, I started to date a college freshman who had graduated from my high school two years ahead of me. He was a great boyfriend although we ultimately broke up. Still, I was really not homecoming queen material…

In the last few years, I have reconnected with some of my high school class including a few people who were on the football team. What do I remember about those old football players? When we did the musical play “Hello Dolly” and some of these guys were recruited as waiters. I played flute and piccolo (and most of the violin parts — on my flute, don’t ask) in the pit and every time those football player / waiters galumphed across the stage with their rubber chickens and stuff we all laughed like crazy. I am sure that none of those particular football players have ever raped anyone. They are wonderful guys. I am glad to be friends with them now and so sorry that I didn’t get to know them better back in the day.

The thing is that I understand the culture of a small town and how important sports can be. Football games in my town were fun and exciting (even though I didn’t really know what was going on). But rape is never okay. I saw a few of the original Steubenville videos and I was amazed that these kids would actually think it was okay to put them out on social media. Say what? You are video-ing what? What the hell are you doing? What were these kids thinking? Where were all the parents?

I may not have always been the best parent but I will doubt that anything resembling a rape ever happened here in The Landfill. I’m not sure what I did but apparently it’s not all that hard to raise daughters who have enough self esteem to be uninterested in the attention of some popular football player.

I married you for better or worse but not for…

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

oldcabinFill in the blank with whatever you want. It’s “lunch” in the old saying but lunch today was one of our better moments. Yer fav-o-rite blahgger had the brilliant idea to internet order tuna sandwiches from Barry Bagels. The internet said, “orders will be ready in approximately 25 minutes”. So, the GG drove me over in the Frog Hopper, I by-passed the long ordering queue and went straight back to the order pick-up area and I was outta there in under a minute. Oh yes, I will do that again. Once home, he ate his sandwich back by The Mother Ship (I don’t know why I call it that since my laptop isn’t dependent upon it in any way). I ate mine sitting on the Green Couch looking out at the loverly brilliant sunshine. Colder than blue blazes though.

We weren’t fighting or anything although there have been a few rather “tense” moments this weekend (we were working on various tax prodjects). Post tax stuff, a full-fledged rummage ensued in the late afternoon, the object of which was a “camping umbrella”. It was eventually located “in a bag hanging on a doorknob”.

It is moments like this that I feel reaffirm my Relentless Positive Action Campaign to Reinvent The Landfill. It is similar to our wondrous governor #OneTermNerd’s campaign to “reinvent” Michigan. I may not have come up with that title but I began a slow and steady process of deacquistioning The Landfill maybe five/six years ago, when I decided I didn’t want the Beach Urchins to have to put a dumpster in the driveway some day. I have relentlessly and positively worked toward a simpler life in that time. I do not beat myself up when I have days or weeks or months or even years of backsliding. The point is to keep looking ahead and every little thing counts. Stuff happens and when you are making 5-hour emergency trips to the yooperland, you have very little control over your life and you have to accept that your deacquistioning prodject might take a few steps backward.

I think that Relentless Positive Action is a wonderful slogan for deacquisitioning The Landfill, but not so much for Michigan, although that could well be because I totally disagree with many of the ill-thought-out bills the guv’nor has hastily signed into law. I wish #OneTermNerd would run up against as much resistance in his campaign as I sometimes do. “You are getting rid of *that*?” Sigh… I think if we own fewer possessions, we will be able to find those that we do own (and care about) more quickly. But, as we say in the web design world, “It’s an iterative process.”

This weekend? A small bit of progress but not much. Lots of phone solitaire, fer kee-reist. I hate when I get onto solitaire jags but I have, off and on, my whole life. Cards. You know, regular cards that had to be shuffled. Ancient Mac-Plus computer application. Phone app. I can forget about solitaire for *years* and then all of a sudden I re-discover the app on my phone and I am hooked again. Enough hooked that I don’t even work on the NYT xword, which is my usual vice. Gah. KW, get ahold of yerself! Still, it filled some cracks of time and acted as a stress reducer…

How do I? Where am I? What am I doing here?

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

overhangHave you ever seen snow slide off a roof in quite this kind of formation and then just sit there for hours (or days even). This is from last weekend. We were driving down a slushy, slippery Birch Point Road. I made the GG stop so I could get out and take a picture. I slithered across the ice to get closer and then a snowmobile came along, so I slithered back across the ice to let him go by and then I slithered across the ice again to get the photo.

I can’t believe I am looking back to last March’s 90-degree weather and the Dexter Tornado with fondness. It wasn’t exactly fun and the early heat forced a lot of things into bloom early, which ruined our god-forsaken state’s cherry and apple crops and I don’t remember Farmer John bringing in a lot of asparagus in April and I’m sure other crops were affected. I know that the several inches of snow that I woke up to this morning is what we need. I was more than well enough today to walk at 0-skunk-30 and I did, albeit with YakTrax on. Still, I was annoyed by the damn snow. I am sick of this stuff and I am sick of living on Blackicelandia and I am sick of layering DKNY tights underneath cotton-spandex leggings. Where are my blasted shorts anyway?

And that is about all for today.

Congrats to LB. Love you, kiddo.

Burpin’ Tregurtha and celebratin’ St. Paddy’s Day a couple days early

Friday, March 15th, 2013

macbookproSo, as I told my [Jewish] coffee buddy this morning (after a spirited conversation about religious extremists of *all* faiths), my [Jewish] boss decreed that we would celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at an after-work party at a nearby pizza/wings sports bar type joint. He brought his own green food coloring to dye the beer. Froggy was invited to the party! Actually, Froggy was invited to a tech meeting earlier in the afternoon. He got all decked out in his special St. Pat’s mardi gras beads and crashed the beer party. I had to remember to take off my St. Paddy’s Day deely-bobbers before I drove home. I had two glasses of cabernet (no green beer for me, sorry) and I was perfectly fine driving but I did not want to attract the attention of any po-leese officers by driving while Irish.

We had a reservation over at Knight’s tonight, which is an easy walk from here, thank you very much. One person at the party had been asking what Knight’s was like, and, of all things, asked if you had to dress up to eat there! Say what? I talked him down off that ledge with stories about Knight’s like the time I embarrassed Mouse there by taking off my snowpants at the bar right in front of god and everyone. I had a skirt on, I just had to pull them *down*. It wasn’t like I was getting naked or anything, fer kee-reist. And then there was the time we got the coveted balcony table above where people are walking in and it was summer and some poor unsuspecting woman walked in with a low-cut top on and let’s just say I got a good photoooo. Not a photoooo of the woman, mind you… When we were shown to that table tonight, the hostess asked if it would be all right. “Yes, of course it will, we were just talking about this table!”

There’s my new MacBook Pro in the photooo, or a bit of it. We got the “old” one back today with all new guts except the drive, which came back completely intact with all my “stuff”. I dunno. I wanted to love the “old” one but it seemed lightly lemonish from the start. The trackpad was bad out of the box and the 24-hour file transfer (or whatever it is) took three days and I had to keep replacing trackpads and and and… And NOOOO, I did NOT spill “pepsi” on it on purpose. Not at all. Just saying that this one “feels” different to me. More solid and together. Like my 2003 12″ screen G4 powerbook and my 2007 MacBook whatever. Both of which *never* had to go back for service for *anything* and *still* boot up and *work*, albeit slowly. Well, knock on wood for this new one and I think the lemony one has some good years left in it too.

Oh, and there’s one of those secret sun places that happen most often near the equinox. (And my long-defunct dishwasher.)

Jesus of the Snowbanks

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

jesussnowsWhere is my “Queen of #&@$ing Everything” button when I need it? I used to keep it on a fav-o-rite old jacket of mine until one day we were at a Brownie Girl Scout event with a bunch of 1st graders and one of the few kids who could read… Oops. I haven’t seen it in about a billion years. Maybe I’ll look around on eBay…

I am back to probably 98% today. About the only “normal” thing I bagged today was my 0-skunk-30 walk. It was 20 degrees when I woke up and I knew there would be black ice about and I decided to lie low and bag it. I went to work. I worked all day. I survived a long Tower of Babel style meeting in the late afternoon. I knew it would be interesting when the LSCHP came in 10 minutes late, sat down next to his minion (aka me, the presenter) and whispered, “What are we doing here?” Ummmm… I told him and then I stage-whispered his question to the other folks in the room and hilarity ensued. The meeting was a long slog of legacy/web-speak stuff (don’t ask) that I get to translate into a functional spec that the development team can follow. Wish me luck.

As a once Methodist / lifelong agnostic, I am not qualified to comment on the new pope. I am very impressed by his apparent humility (politicians, take a note) but I doubt much will change in the grand scheme of Catholicism. Last Saturday, I walked from the Hotel Ojibway in Sault Ste. Siberia up to *my* house on Superior Street (the house I grew up in, not the one I’m trying to sell). And then, I tried to recreate the walk I used to take to my grandma’s house down on John Street. That walk involved walking through the parking lot on the block that housed St. Joseph’s Catholic Church along with the K-8 school that my childhood BFF attended and some kind of nunnery or something. The church is still there. The school is gone and I *think* the “nunnery” is too. Despite the huge snowbanks surrounding Jesus, I could still walk through the parking lot.

After that, I couldn’t quite remember my usual route to my grandma’s house. I mean, I knew where her house was and I did walk by it. I just couldn’t remember my *childhood* route there. Possibly it was variable, since I also walked to friends’ houses in the neighborhood.

Every time I walk through my childhood neighborhood, it is like being in a time warp. It was wonderful walking around my old neighborhood in Sault Ste. Siberia last weekend. I don’t think a lot of people have the opportunity to tour their childhood neighborhood. Assuming they even grew up in *one* neighborhood… For now, when I am up in Siberia, I can walk to my childhood neighborhood when I want to. No one knows me there now and I feel a bit like a ghost. Eventually, I guess I will be walking around there *as* a ghost. Oh, that’ll be a while from now. Just sayin’. [grin]

Not one of these was from myyyyy grokkery store

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

cartsI don’t know what was going on today but there were about a billion abandoned grokkery carts between here and the Plum Market, including this group by the bus stop. KMart, Aldi’s and I dunno what else. Plum Market? Nothing. A fair amount of black ice though, especially right off my front porch, where it seems to collect no matter how much salt I put down. We *must* redesign that space…

But guess what? In order to get a photooo of all those carts, it meant that I… Walked… To the Plum Market this afternoon! The GG was skeptical. Don’t overdo, he cautioned. Well, I was not running a marathon (or snowshoeing five miles on warm wet snow on the North Country Trail). I was just walking to the Plum Market! We do not have whatever strain of influenza is [was?] going around this winter and I was back up at about 90% this morning. But it had snowed and Twitter reported black ice accidents around the area. And I was tired… I decided to lie low and work from home.

By about mid-afternoon, I was starting to get cabin fever. Something about being in a house with sick people for a few days. It isn’t an odor exactly (or maybe it is — big-time housecleaning this weekend!). I needed to get out and I needed to eat something besides sick food. You know, dry Cheerios, orange juice, yogurt, ramen noodles, Indian food (don’t ask). I wanted *spaghetti*! With meat sauce! Off I went.

I don’t know if the GG will eat spaghetti with me. He’s much better but still in a recovery mode. Do men suffer more from respiratory viruses than women? In my family that seems to be more or less true. Or is it an individual thing? Barfing viruses? I definitely get them worse!!! Fortunately I don’t get them *often*! Blech!

Sick bay

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

snowshoeingI thought yesterday was a bad day. Welcome to March 12! Mouse texted around noon or thereabouts: “Is Dad stuck in a dungeon somewhere? I’ve been texting him and he isn’t answering.” Well. Dad was not answering because he was flat on his back in bed suffering from one of the nastiest cold viruses to hit these parts in a while. How did I know that? Because I was hanging out on the Green Couch sick with the same virus.

I was not as sick (today, anyway) as the GG but I chose to work from home (take *that*, Marissa!). It was one of those awful raw March days when the temperature hangs around in the low 30s and the skies are not sunny all day and Mother Nature was spitting little bits of snow and stuff at us from time to time. Dressing up even in the comfortable style of biz-caz that I wear to work was too much, especially a certain undergarment that I hate even on a good day! Also, I did *not* want to infect all of my co-workers.

There was a meeting at two this afternoon that my virus-addled brain *thought* I had to present at, so around 1:15 or so, I struggled into that dreaded undergarment and the warmest biz-caz clothing I could dredge up, faarrrred up the Frog Hopper, turned on the butt warmer (yes I use it), and trundled on over to the office, through a snow/sleet/hail/whatever storm. The LSCHP took one look at me and boomed, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” Turned out I did *not* have to present but I was there for an hour and fifteen minutes and when the meeting ended, the LSCHP boomed, “GO HOME!”

The GG is still pretty sick but he’s eating and chugging water and tangerine juice, etc. I am ambulatory but nervous as all getout about having the proverbial other shoe drop. My only hope is that I RARELY get head or body aches, even when sick. Famous last words…

It does kind of amaze me that I can’t even remember the last time I had a cold. How did I get through the last, horrible year of The Commander’s life without ever getting sick? I galumphed around like an Amazon the whole time, even those dark days when she had c. diff and we had to suit up just to go into her hospital room. That was just awful and we eventually resorted to making nervous, unfunny jokes about spores during that period…

Yesterday’s drama? Yeesh. An Apple Store trip. A *decent* genius bar guy who didn’t treat me like an idiot. A decision to buy a new laptop instead of sending mine away to be eviscerated and rejuvenated. An argument about that. Another trip to the Apple Store (by a different person, who probably shouldn’t have been out at all). A new laptop, *plus* the “old” one has been sent off for repair. When he left, I thought the plan was just to refurbish the “old” one and now I am feeling sorta like I need to burp Tregurtha or something.

I do appreciate everyone’s concern yesterday but it was just stupid first-world problems (and some bad behavior) and by the time I managed to get around to posting, I had nothing. Except the old Paul Bunyan (or whatever it is) down there at Brady Park.

Oh, what was Mouse texting about? Lumber for raised garden beds to put in the Landfill back yard! Something to look forward to!