Archive for April, 2013

Splash! (((Oh sh*t)))

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

webcamfloodingI don’t check the Houghton Lake webcam very often. Actually, I’m embarrassed to post that link because it is sooooo out of date. That is, the photos are up to date but the rest of the page sucks and that statement about one of the webcams being up on the St. Mary’s is just plain wrong. I do not know where we found that web designer or why we hired her. I hope we aren’t paying her anything [wink].

Other folks in the C-Fam watch the cam more often and this afternoon Gr8tgrty posted a note in the C-Fam facebook group: look at the webcam! And I did and here is what is going on in the front yard at the cabin. This isn’t exactly a new thing although it’s quite spectacular. Somewhere in the huge mishmash of photos here in the Landfill, I have photos of me walking around the Houghton Lake yard barefoot carrying my 1-year-old child through a flood something like this.

Back in those days, flooding in the yard usually meant flooding in the cabin. Nothing like sloshing around in a half-foot of [dirty] water in front of the sink. And stove, although I refused to cook at the cabin when it was like that. Probably the most memorable moment in Houghton Lake flooding history was the time that we met the UU up there for the weekend. We got there before the UU on a Friday night. The kitchen was partially flooded. Lizard Breath was very young and we were upstairs settling down to sleep at around 11 or so when the UU arrived. We heard “Splash! Shit!” from downstairs. He had walked through the kitchen and dropped his pillow in the water.

Flooding was a frequent occurrence and the place wasn’t exactly what you’d call clean, although most everyone tried. We all complained about it and some people avoided going there. It was Grandpa Garth’s cabin and that’s how it was there. He bought the place back in the 1960s and it provided his 10 kids, their cousins, and various Royal Joke neighborhood friends a place to escape to in the summer. I wish more kids had that kind of opportunity (I certainly did, in spades!). Although Garth sometimes entertained ideas about fixing the cabin or even replacing it with a more viable structure, I think he liked that place the way it was.

Grandpa Garth died in 2001 and after a few years of settling his estate and thinking carefully through what to do with the cabin, the C-Fam had the old place razed and a built a beautiful new chalet in its place. Some people were reluctant about this, even some of us out-laws (well, meeee). Lots of memories in that old place, even for an out-law like meeeee who didn’t hang around the place until 1980. (I could not have asked for a better father-in-law.)

The new place? It is wonderful! We can keep the heat on throughout the winter and just flip on the water heater, etc., when we get there. No more pumping water outside in the snow and hauling it in with buckets. No more flushing the toilets with buckets in the winter. No more heating water on the stove and pouring it into a rubber camping shower to get clean. Those were good times but… Now there are year-round flushy toilets and a washer and dryer and a dishwasher (that I don’t always use but appreciate) and and and… Always so many fun family members to hang out and have fun with.

The most important thing? The first floor of the new cabin is far enough off the ground I don’t think we could *ever* have water in the kitchen! Hopefully it will not seep in to the “basement”, which is a half-height area underneath the rest of the cabin…

But still, this view of the Houghton Lake yard is spectacular.

King of the castle

Monday, April 29th, 2013

castleThe Grand Poohbah — aka my cuzzint — commented yesterday wondering why she had never taken me to Eberwhite Woods when we were kids and my family came down to The Planet Ann Arbor for weekend visits at her childhood home on Crest. I commented back but here’s more…

We were not deprived of playground equipment when I was a kid up in the yooperland. Our town was crawling with kids and I lived right across the street from Stinkin’ Lincoln School, where there were three or four swingsets, two slides including one of those big old nine-footers, old-school monkey bars, two sets of crossbars, and I fergit how many teeter-totters. My grade-school buddies and I ruled that playground back in the Jurassic Age. We didn’t just *swing* on the swingsets. We would get swinging as high as we could and then twist our swings up together. Round and round until we finally slowed to a stop. We were all over that big old slide, using it in ways that were never intended. And we won’t even talk about the monkey bars. All of this with cement or gravel underneath. Skinned knees anyone? Mercurochrome in the nurse’s office? I’m not sure they even bothered to call home for that kind of thing in those days.

What we did *not* have over at Stinkin’ Lincoln was one of those little playground merry-go-rounds. I *loved* those things. Grab hold of the bars, run around in a circle as fast as you could (and I could run *fast* then), jump on and watch the sky spin around until the thing stopped (or somebody else got it going again). The only playground I knew of where there was a merry-go-round was at Brimley State Park and my parents would *rarely* pay the 50 cent (or whatever it was) day pass fee to go in there.

So, my dearest @Pooh, I will guess that the main reason you never took me over to Eberwhite Woods was because I always insisted on going to Virginia Park, where there was a *merry-go-round*! (Besides the fact that we were only down here for weekends and didn’t have a whole lot of unscheduled time, what with feetsball games…)

castleggI think the nanny state outlawed nine-foot slides and old-school monkey bars a loooong time ago. Merry-go-rounds? I dunno. I’ll have to make a conscious effort to *look* for the one at Maryfield Park The Yellow-slide Playground next time I Red-Queen through there on my way downtown on a Friday night. Nowadays, we have all of these fancy “safe” play structures that kids aren’t supposed to be able to get hurt on. Except I bet they do because they probably use those structures in ways that the designers never envisioned, just like we did on the old nine-foot slide. (Climb up the steps (or slide), climb over the side, and slide down the pole. Yes.)

Still… We got over to Eberwhite yesterday morning and, before heading over to the trailhead, the GG walked over to the castle. Ignoring all of the signs saying not to play on the thing outside of school hours (why are there so many damn signs on playgrounds?) he walked over and around the whole structure, exploring all of the nooks and crannies.

Was he reliving some childhood fantasy? No, he was not. He was an integral part of a large team of volunteers who BUILT the structure. Although Eberwhite was not our elementary school, we were involved with a co-op nursery school then. Some of our co-op friends lived in that neighborhood and he answered the call for volunteers. Good times and good memories ensued.

I miss all the simple but dangereuse old-school playground stuff we had when I was a kid and have mixed feelings about manufactured play spaces, but maybe there’s a place for both the simple stuff and fancy castle-like structures like this. I can imagine being a kid and acting out various scenarios throughout a structure like that and exploring all of the nooks and crannies.

In search of trout lily and castles

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

troutlilyAs many years as I have lived on The Planet Ann Arbor, I have never walked Eberwhite Woods. Even though we performed a play in their gym/auditorium/cafeteria/whatever back in my YAG days.

Neither of the beach urchins could drive yet and I schlepped them and a bunch of neighborhood kids back and forth every evening during tech week. Two memories stand out during that period. One is when a little altercation occurred backstage during a rehearsal. I’ll leave the details out. Tech week rehearsals are long and often difficult and actors (and their parents!) are tired. We were on our way home and I had every seat filled in the loverly old Island Teal POC and it was pretty quiet and some tears were shed (not mine, but I felt like it!) and then someone said, “[sibling], I’m sorry that I kicked you!” After a split second of silence, somebody (me?) giggled a bit (tentatively) and then everyone in the POC exploded with laughter, even those who may have been shedding tears a few seconds before. We’re all in this together and some days are better than others.

The second memory is that I totally, utterly, completely ran OUT of toilet paper that week! And then, during the ensuing emergency toilet paper buying run, some nosy old biddy at the Westgate Kroger had the nerve to ask (shrilly), “Why are you buying so much toilet paper?” Because I don’t want to run out at an inconvenient time (or ever, fer kee-reist). She’s lucky I didn’t strangle her. How the heck did she know anything about my life? What if I had eight kids? Sheesh!

Nevertheless, I have never walked Eberwhite Woods. I suppose I could have snuck out of a YAG rehearsal there to walk. But I was shy about that. Why? Because, in the mid-1990s, a serial bludgeoner/killer bludgeoned his first victim in that woods. A 50-something woman taking the walk that she probably took EVERY morning, if she is anything like me. She recovered from her injuries but I bet (if she’s still alive) she never recovered enough savoir faire to be able to walk in that woods again, as friendly as it is without a serial bludgeoner/killer’s possible presence.

He operated in my general area of town and although I wasn’t terribly afraid I would encounter him on my solo walks, I was always watchful. But then, I am *always* watchful. I call him a bludgeoner because his modus operandi was to beat a woman up and leave. He didn’t rape and didn’t seem to care whether he killed or not. Some of his victims died, others did not. Alas, even though he was caught and put behind bars in 1995, in 1999 I was still leery of entering Eberwhite Woods alone.

I got the idea to go there this weekend via the Damn Arbor blahg, which posted earlier in the week that Eberwhite Woods was filled with trout lily. And yes it was! I have seen this spring wildflower only in small patches before, in the yooperland with Radical Betty out on the North Country Trail at Naomikong Point. In Eberwhite Woods, Trout Lily is almost like a ground cover. It is everywhere.

What has it got in its pocketses?

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

peagravelAlso known as, “Mooooom, you have crickets in your pocket.” Yes, I did have crickets in my pocket. It was my iPhone. I like to do yard work but I hate to do yard work. I don’t really know *how* to do yard work. But I have got to be channeling The Commander again, because I have been on a rampage to eradicate the Landfill yard of every blasted oak leaf I can get my hands on. And acorns? We must have 50 gazillion acorns on our lawn. Mouse even found one that had sprouted. I would not let her plant it. We do not need any more oak trees around here. (Actually, the oak trees are mostly in the woods.) Anyway, a rake can be utilized to gather acorns in more-or-less one spot but picking them up and putting them in the compost bin absolutely MUST be done by hand.

So why do I have crickets in my pocketses? Because when I am faced with a chore or whatever that I am not thrilled about doing, I figure out some way to break it up into small conquerable pieces. If I were to just go out in the yard and start raking, the whole mess would quickly become overwhelming and I would get bored and probably drift off somewhere, like facebook… Unless I manage to get into a raking zen zone. But usually that doesn’t happen. So. My strategy has been to set my iPhone timer for five minutes. When I hear the crickets, I can either stop or reset the timer and do five more minutes. And five more minutes. Etc, etc. Somehow this allows me to get into a bit of a raking zen zone. I suppose that doesn’t make much sense. It doesn’t make much sense to meeee either. Mouse thinks I am nuts… But somehow it works. And it worked extra well today because I didn’t even count how many times crickets sang in my pocket but I got a lot of picky hand-raking done and about the time that *I* finally quit (to walk to the Plum Market (again) and then put dinner together), the GG got out of his new hammock and swung into action and filled both of our compost carts to the brim with leaves.

Today was a dump day. I am always ecstatic when we somehow mutually agree to do a dump run. This dump run turned into a multiple-stop affair: 1) The annual Pi-High e-waste collection, where we dropped off an old giraffe-style iMac and some ancient disk drives, 2) Recycle Ann Arbor (aka The Dump), where we paid $9.50 to drop off some carpet remnants (yay!!!), and 3) Habitat for Humanity, where we dropped off an old microwave that our kids (and some cousins before them) used in dorm rooms. And yes, I tested it before taking it in to make sure it still worked.

In the middle of all that, we picked up the first of two loads of pea gravel, which the GG laboriously shoveled out of the Courtois Snowbilly Trailer into a wheelbarrow to dump next to the south side of the Landfill where Terrafirma dug everything up and fixed the leak in the dungeon wall last fall.

Oh, and then we met Mouse at Downtown Home and Garden and hauled some stuff back to the Landfill for her so she could work on setting up her garden in our back yard. And crickets in my pocket ensued.

Y’all know that Gollum is source of the title, roight? Who has not read The Hobbit? Radical Betty was still reading to her children when they were tweens and maybe early teens and one summer when they were staying at the Old Cabin, she was reading the Hobbit. One of the things I will remember as long as I live is sitting on the couch at night in the Old Cabin with a fire in that big old stone fireplace listening to RB read The Hobbit to her kids and me and whoever else was listening. She read with dramatic expression and she is one of the people who inspired me to read to my own children since their births more or less until they were tweens. I read to them the breakfast table before school. I read to them on the beach. And wherever… One of the few things I think I did right as a parent is reading to my kids as long as they would tolerate being read to.

Oh bla di oh bla dah life goes on…

Friday, April 26th, 2013

327Probably should’ve added that I don’t really like the song in the title. The Twinz of Terror had a birthday today. They turned (ulp) 59. I hit that milestone back in January. This birthday was harder for me than *any* previous birthday. I don’t really think it was the number so much as the fact that, without The Commander around, I know that I am “next”. I’m not planning on leaving this god-forsaken life any time soon but my parents are gone and somehow that has made me contemplate the next stage of my life with a bit more focus. And some denial.

That said… Today was a wonderful day. I walked downtown after work and met up with The GG at the Oscar Tango and then we moved over to the Grizzly Peak for dinner with the beach urchins and NpJane and THEN to this loverly barrrooom over in Kerrytown for a drink called Mr. Michigan. I GOT CARDED THERE. I. GOT. CARDED. THERE. To be fair, this is how it went down. The waitress asked Lizard Breath for her ID. LB looks younger than her late 20-something years and is accustomed to this routine. Waitress eyeballed Mouse and recognized her as a previous customer who knits and didn’t actually card her. I — jokingly — said to the waitress, “I wouldn’t be insulted if you asked me for my ID.” She said, “Actually, I *was* going to ask you if I could see your ID.” And so I dredged the derned thing out. It was very dark in that place and I guess she couldn’t exactly see my face.

I have been feeling old lately. Not in the sense that I have aches and pains or am forgetting things or whatever. Just, kee-reist, 59? What? Facing down the big 6-0. Enjoying the extremely hard-earned bits of wealth that are gained after many years of work while wishing I could grab my 20-year-old self by the shoulders and shake some sense into her.

We are not 20-something any more but we are not finished yet. We are still hiking and x-c skiing and kayaking and galumphing back and forth to the Great White North. And working! And (knock on wood) we’ll be doing that for quite some time to come.

Happy birthday to the Twinz of Terror!

Narrowly avoiding tragedy on the I94 18-wheel Clogway (and other adventures)

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

projectorheadHeading home on State Street, driving over the I94 18-wheel Clogway, I always glance to make sure the westbound lanes are clear before I get on the entrance ramp. They usually are and they were today. I have about a five-mile drive on the freeway and everything was all right until the freeway bridge over Liberty Street came into view. That’s when a big tandem trailer ahead of me started fishtailing all over the place. Yiiiy! Dry pavement, 50 degrees (aka no black ice). There was an SUV more than a few car-lengths ahead of me. I downshifted to 5th gear just in case something ugly happened. It didn’t but I stayed well behind the whole thing until I got off a mile later. The truck slowed down but not without a bit more fishtailing. I hope that truck and all of the other vee-hickles it encounters on the road make it to their destinations safely. I was shaking when I got off at the Jackson Road exit.

Fun times. Margaret had a fun link on her blog today. What famous author do you write like? I threw yesterday’s blahg entry into the analyzer and the answer was…. Margaret Mitchell? Now. Does that mean that I am a wondrous writer? Or does it mean that Margaret Mitchell is, ahem, not?

Seriously, I don’t really care if I am a great writer or not. I think that I have some decent writing skills (and so does my boss or I wouldn’t be employed) but I have never had any creative writing aspirations. In fact, I was always surprised when my teachers and professors, etc., thought that I had any kind of talent at all. But in every job I have ever had, my writing/communication skills have been extremely important to my success. (Note to public schools…)

My blahg is just my blahg. Being me and being [sometimes] a perfectionist, I do my best to write coherently. I know the difference between there/their/they’re but sometimes when I am galumphing along, I type the wrong version of that homophone and end up correcting it the next day. Jeesh. What would Mrs. Bishop (beloved 2nd grade teacher) think? I do know that she wouldn’t banish me to the hall.

It’s snowing, so it must be Mouse’s birthday

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

mousebirthday1989And yes, it is *April*. But this is the god-forsaken Great Lake State. I’m not sure there is even one month out of the year that snow hasn’t been documented somewhere in our state. Maaayyybeeee July? But we have had some frickin’ cold Julys up on the moominbeach. I particularly remember encountering Radical Betty on the beach one chilly July day wearing GLOVES and bitching vociferously: “We just get a little BOX of summer!” Indeed.

I wish I could [easily] find the photooo I took of Mouse on the day she turned 18. An inch or maybe a bit more ON THE GROUND here on The Planet Ann Arbor! She was heading out to drive The Indefatigable down to Commie High (and emancipate herself at long last from my supervision). The snow didn’t stick today but that white stuff was coming down outta the sky most of the day. But hey, the forsythia is finally getting ready to go. And you get this photooo instead. It was one of The Commander’s faves.

I didn’t post a photo of my grandma yesterday by accident. Yesterday would’ve been grandma’s 125th birthday. I didn’t mention it in yesterday’s post because I was of two minds about what to blahg about yesterday and I just started in and, since it was a particularly awful day for edumacation in the Great Lake State, edumacation won. But I was able to tie grandma in at the end! Yay me?

Anyway, when my grandma was still alive and I was in high school, we would celebrate her birthday with a family dinner at the Robin’s Nest, a once popular, now defunct restaurant out on the business strip in Sault Ste. Siberia. We would always arrange for a separate room and everybody would always (that I remember) order the same thing: steak sandwich, medium rare. Salad bar (I think?), fries, and cokes for the kids and teetotalers, prob’ly beer for my old coot.

My grandma died during my freshman year at college. 99 years and one day after her birth, my Mouse was born. I’ll spare you the details but Mouse was a few weeks early (get me outta here already) and so, when Radical Betty, My Dear Uncle Harry, and Bubs returned from a junket across the pond, we had fun surprising them by arriving at Chez RegenFin with our new baby (and our toddler and their grandparents and NpJane). It’s a small thing but as long as I live, I’ll remember Harry whispering, “Girl or boy?” as he opened the door.

Alas, our gift to Mouse will have to wait a couple days longer. It’s a load of planting mix soil so she can make a garden in my back yard. I am ecstatically happy about this and cautiously optimistic that we won’t have 100-degree temperatures and no rain for weeks on end this summer. I am diligent about watering gardens but man oh man did it get old during last summer’s drought! But it is a trick getting planting mix soil this spring. Nobody had it for ages (too cold, or whatever) and finally Lodi said they would have it this week and they did. But by the time the GG hitched up the hillbilly trailer to the Frog Hopper and got over there, Lodi was sold out. Friday morning, knock on wood… Oh yeah, but there was that one loverly trip to Haberman’s Fabrics a while back… [huge grin]

My parents used to always call me on my birthday and sing happy birthday. I haven’t talked to Mouse or even texted or facebooked her today. Should I call and embarrass her by singing to her when she’s at work or wherever she is? I may just do that. Not that Mouse would necessarily be embarrassed… But I may just text anyway.

P.S. I long ago stopped mentioning every person in the family’s birthday here. Too much, not to mention that I will guess that some folks might not WANT their birthday mentioned on my random blahg. I certainly have mixed feelings about having *my* birthday broadcast on the internet. But yesterday was also Jack C’s birthday. An older brother (but not by much) of the Twinz of Terror. This birthday ends in a zero. HB to Jack!

Skunk in the barnyard, PU

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

margaretbeach(No, the person in the photoooo is not the skunk. That’s my grandma. Not a skunk!) I want to blahg about the sorry state of public education here in the Great Lake State. Alas, there is so much going on right now that I don’t know where to start. Not to mention that I am only a very concerned tax-payer who values public education and is appalled at the apparent efforts by our state’s Not-My-Dad’s GOP legislators to destroy public education here in Michigan. The “skunkworks” (google something like “Snyder skunkworks” if you dare) is one of the latest efforts.

I was also appalled when I heard that our wondrous Gubner wants to dumb down high school graduation requirements by eliminating things like Algebra II and FOREIGN LANGUAGES!!! !!! !!! WHAT?!?

The idea is to “train” people for vocational jobs… I certainly don’t have any expertise about how to craft high school graduation requirements. I took Algebra II and LOVED every minute of it, even the time that I was sitting there taking a test, oozing mucous from just about every facial orifice, wearing a dark brown second head of hair wig (yes, really!) and our loverly but strict teacher, Mrs. Grout, came along and snatched up the snotty old crumpled up Kleenex I had on my desk and threw it in the trash. We were *expected* to take Algebra II in my family! (I got an A on that test and in that class and I *loved* Mrs. Grout…)

I also took a language. Latin. The Commander: You *will* take Latin. (The other choice was French and I don’t think she was all that impressed with the French teacher. I won’t say why.) I took three years of Latin from Mrs. Velde, a concentration camp survivor. I was terrified of her and her paddle although I don’t remember a time when she actually used it on anyone. I can’t say Latin was my best subject (hello, algebra) but I managed to get As and, guess what? It helped me hone my [English] writing skills. But I regret that I didn’t learn any other languages.

So, who are these employers that we are apparently trying to dumb down our high school graduation requirements for? I dunno. Maaaayybeeee a job stocking big-screen TV sets at Woldemort doesn’t exactly require Algebra II. But not requiring a foreign language? I do not get that. Spanish? French? CHINESE? ARABIC?

Sorry, but people who would do away with a high school language requirement are shooting our country in the foot.

Okay, I ranted in spite of myself and quite incoherently. Maybe it’s fitting after all that the woman in the photo is my grandmother. That woman walked the train trestle from Bay Mills to Brimley to go to high school and had to climb down under the trestle when a train came by. (Family legend that I may not be reporting accurately.) She valued education and sent all four of her children to college. When I was a kid, the Sault Ste. Siberia Evening Snooze always reported the children who made the honor roll and Grandma would watch that newspaper to see which of her grandchildren were on it. Make no mistake, she was *not* a crabbly old curmudgeon. She just cared about her grandchildren and their education.

Oh, the photo also includes gratuitous photos of Pooh, NpJane, my loverly dog Tigger, and The Commander.

Horsetrading up the Tower of Babel

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

michayweAs aghast as I remain at all of the explosive events of the last week, I don’t exactly have many opinions about them. Actually, this week started out with yet another [accidental] explosion in the nearby town of Dexter, 10 miles (or less?) to the west of The Landfill. One dead, one critical. I doubt that this explosion will make the national news. But we’re all weary and wondering when life will get “boring” again?

The news coverage of the Boston Marathon explosions? Can I just say it made my poor old tired old systems analyst’s brain hurt? Last Thursday(?) for example? As I pulled the Ninja out of the driveway NPR was reporting that the bombing suspects were 10 and *20* year old brothers. By the time I got to work, the older brother was 26. Absolutely *no* explanation from NPR on the change in age. Does it matter how old the bombers were/are? Not really and it’s just a simple example for the many other gaffes the news sources made in their rush to be first. Reminds me of *those* mornings. You know the ones — when you are breaking your neck trying to get out the damn door… It’s just that it was one more detail that news agencies got wrong in the rush to be first to report something-anything, whether it was accurate or not. The devil is in the details. Get it right or don’t post it.

Actually, I do have an opinion about all of these explosions. It’s that shit happens. Does that mean I don’t care? Of course not! I care very much. If somebody plants bombs at the Boston Marathon finish line, I think we need to get ’em. I also think we need to *try* to be prepared for events like this. Except that they can’t necessarily be predicted. Pressure cooker bombs? (Airliners into the World Trade Center.) What? Yeah, I know there are instructions for pressure cooker bombs on the internet… What is next? What kind of bomb / gun / whatever implement of destruction will be used? What religion (or not) will the next nut be involved with? How will “we” handle it?

The photooo is from Michaywe ten days or so ago. A day when I was walking in the snow with boots and YakTrax (in April…) and life was good (except for somebody’s damn unattended *big* dog) and there were no explosions.

Oh dear, I must be channeling…

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

trailYeah, I seem to be channeling The Commander lately. How else do you explain my feverish drive to wash the windows and rake the yard. I have been known to do these kinds of chores in my life. I am actually sort of a “clean freak”. I may not be able to hold a candle to The Beautiful Gay but I do like things to be clean. I regularly clean kitchens and bathrooms. I get easily derailed by clutter in other rooms, which is one reason I am always talking about flinging.

Windows? For whatever reason, I don’t usually notice whether the glass is clean or not. I think I (just now) figured out why. To me, light is light. My windows never get dirty enough that I can’t see squirrels or rabbits or Burke in his birthday suit out the window. But really, I’m more concerned about the light *inside* the house. 1) I like a lot of natural light. 2) I don’t like a lot of artificial lucky-shuckial light. 3) I love using small xmas-style LEDs at night. Heck, we don’t need a whole bunch of big lucky-shuckial lights to read any more, do we? (Disclaimer: I do know that many people still like to read an actual paper book.)

I got off on a tangent there. The Commander was very particular about having spotlessly clean windows. Me? Not so much. As mother and daughter, we had a relatively complicated relationship. Nothing like what you might see on Days of Our Lives or whatever (we did NOT watch soap operas when I was a kid. Those were “beneath” us [big-grin].) Our trajectory? A rebellious teenager grew up and realized her mom was actually cool and smart. A long period of glasnost and many many fun times followed the birth of the grandchildren. By the time Mom got to her late 80s, she realized that she couldn’t really live independently but diligently kept up appearances, knowing that her daughter was deeply involved in her third career and was willing to let things slide a bit…

But also… Daughter was treated like a rebellious teenager again. This time is wasn’t that I was out late or hanging around with Bad Boyfriend. It was that I didn’t do basic household chores exactly how The Comm would do them. Like when she (repeatedly and somewhat shrilly) said, “You haven’t ever learned how to wring out a washcloth!”. Sigh… To clean up a big ugly spill on the floor, you need a wet washcloth. Once you get the mess cleaned up, you use a wrung-out washcloth or even a paper towel, depending, to get the blasted floor dried out… … …

It was okay and I *usually* just sucked it up. When the time came, I joked with the hospice folks that I was not The Comm’s favorite child. I know that wasn’t true. Honestly, *I* do not have a favorite child and I don’t think The Comm did either. But I do know that she would have rather had my brother be around to help her make the horrific decisions she ultimately had to make with meeeee.

Anyway, the Landfill windows are sparkling clean inside and out today and the sun is shining in the front window and various prisms are scattering rainbows all over the front room and The Comm would’ve enjoyed that.

I can do anything for 5 minutes…

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

deardaughterMove along please. There’s nothing to see here. Unless you want a blow-by-blow of the boring chores, errands, and spring cleaning endeavors of a baggy old kayak woman here at the Landfill on the Planet Ann Arbor.

Got up at six, took a shower, and backed the Frog Hopper into the street on my way out to take my 0-skunk-30 walk. I have to say it was dicey getting the Frog Hopper out there because the dusting of snow we got last night made it hard to see out of zeee veeeeeeensheeeeelds. I actually found a patch of black ice on my walk this morning. It’s okay, I didn’t fall. Came home and the GG was up and aboot, which meant that I could throw the sheets and shower curtain and bathmat into the washing musheen. Then the Jackson Road Meijer for a few grokkeries of the sort I don’t really want to haul home in my backpack. Filled up the Ninja on the way.

I did not sit down today for more than maybe a half hour break sometime in the afternoon. Up and down the stairs. Up and down the step stool. In and out the back door. In and out of winter-*ish* clothing. All of the blinds and curtains in the Landfill are clean. All of the interior windows and a few of the exterior windows are clean. Three of the garbage/recycle carts have been dish-soaped and hosed out. I didn’t bother with the recycle cart because I don’t ever put anything icky in there. It probably needs it *anyway* but I had already begun filling it with next week’s load. Two trips to the Plum Market, one alone and the other with the GG. 15 minutes of raking up sticks and acorns and I dunno what else in the back yard. And yes I know it was 15 minutes because I used my phone as a timer. I can do anything for 5 minutes. I can do anything for 5 minutes. I can do anything for 5 minutes. Actually I made it to 15 minutes.

I felt like I made some good progress today. I don’t think I have washed the blinds or curtains since we bought them, which was back when the beach urchins were teenagers or thereabouts. I also washed all the spiderwebs and dust and crap out of the window frames. It feels marginally cleaner here today. Alas, there is still too much junk and old papers and things around. That drags me down…

The GG? He did spend some couch time today but that’s fairly typical for him on a Saturday and I don’t mind it. He seems to think he didn’t do too much today. The truth is that he spent the entire morning trying to scout out some good soil for Mouse’s new raised garden bed. He even hauled our loverly hillbilly trailer around in the hopes he could haul some home. Alas. Nobody has it yet. Or if they do have it, it is “too wet”. This is a truly horrible “spring” (groundhog?) and someone at Lodi Farms wrote the note in the photoooo to help the GG get off the hook with Mouse. He worked very hard today and deserved his nap!

Snow squalls on Crazy Hat Day.

Friday, April 19th, 2013

crazyhatdayYes, we have spirit week at work sometimes. It’s okay, it’s not like somebody at the mother ship decrees that we *must* dress up. It’s that the LSCHP enjoys stuff like this. Grateful Dead t-shirt and Batman yarmulke anyone? We are just about the stodgiest crew on earth but we play along (or not)…

Lemme see… This week, all we had to do on Monday was wear something red. I was off last Friday so I didn’t even get the email about this until I got into work on Monday. I was already dressed. Luckily, red is one of the three colors in my wardrobe and I had randomly grabbed red (and black) that day, so I was covered. Tuesday was a team t-shirt. I could not care less about sports teams but I dredged up a t-shirt with a Lake Superior map on it and hung it over the back of my chair. Lake Superior is its own team and I have to say it is winning big-time this year. Wednesday hip-hop? I don’t even know what eeez that. Several other gals made up for me. Thursday: something old-fashioned. Hey, that’s our whole team of baggy old folks. And today was Crazy Hat Day.

mouserabbithatI didn’t exactly forget Crazy Hat Day. But this morning it was total cat-herding mode here at The Landfill. The Ninja was going in for scheduled maintenance at 7:30 AM and I did *not* get to do my regular 0-skunk-30 walk and that just threw my whole day off. Crazy hat? What hat? I’ve been wearing my crazy hat all winter and this morning it was 60 (at least to start) and I didn’t need a blasted hat for once and I decided not to wear one. So there.

We do have crazy hats around here. There’s the aforementioned crazy hat that I wore all winter. The black bomber hat with the hologram sequins. It *is* a crazy hat but everybody at work has already seen it. I could’ve worn one of the GG’s Stormy Kromer Elmer Fudd hats. Or the getup he has on in the photooo above from the Oscar Tango tonight. Or I could’ve dredged the Landfill Dungeon for old costume headgear. Mouse ears or maybe Mouse’s rabbit hood. It might at least fit on top of my head? Heck, Brooooosie wears winter hats with ears on them. Why can’t I?

Oh well, it was 60 degrees when I woke up and checked the weather on my phone at 5:30 this morning. By the time I rolled into my work parking spot a little after 8, it was down to 44, according to the Frog Hopper’s temperature gauge. Walking down to the Oscar Tango tonight? 40 or thereabouts and little snow squalls. Very lightweight and no accumulation whatsoever tonight although a possible half-inch is predicted overnight. Fortunately, I did not put my [crazy] winter hat away for the season yet.

Good night,
Kayak Woman

Hey Superwoman, don’t let the revolving door hit you on the way out…

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

chloebelleA lot has happened in our country this week and I am not gonna write about it. It isn’t that I don’t care, more like I don’t have any words. At least not any words that haven’t already been said about a quizillion times.

I am gonna rant about our own local superwoman instead. Who is this superwoman? She is the wondrous school superintendent that our wondrous school board hired less than two years ago and is “retiring” in June (spell “retiring” however you want). We hired the Superwoman at an unprecedentedly high salary, as I wrote about here, and she signed a contract to stay for five years. Yes, I was skeptical. That blahg entry wasn’t very polite and a few of my five readers actually commented. I took their points seriously and posted a follow-up entry a few days later.

Alas. My intuition was right and the Superwoman was not a good fit for school superintendent on The Planet Ann Arbor. I can’t entirely blame her. The school board decided upon a salary of $245,000 before they even began the search. It wasn’t the Superwoman’s fault that “we” paid her that much but, in an era when people are trying to gut public education and teachers and other “little” employees are having to accept more and more concessions, this salary dogged her throughout her tenure here and she really did not live up to it.

I don’t know what talents this superwoman possessed. She claimed to have expertise at dealing with the “achievement gap” but I doubt that anything has changed with that. The achievement gap will NOT narrow until our society gets serious about dealing with the socio-economic issues behind it. I remember some of the sound bites — like when the board tried to cut busing to the bones and a parent asked for some basic busing data. “You’ll have to FOIA that!”, shrilled the Superwoman. What? And I will also guess that her salary was enough to pay for weekly flights back to the East Coast to be with her family after working a four-day week here. Say what? Let them eat cake?

As much as I disliked the Superwoman, I am equally disenchanted with the board of education. Why did they hire this person? And why are they hiring the same “executive search firm” AGAIN for the NEXT Superperson search? The short answer is that because since the Superwoman didn’t work out, the search firm will do a new search for free (or almost free, my b-l-o-n-d-e brain exploded at that point and didn’t quite understand all the damn details).

I could go on and on about what I think we should look for in a new Superperson. But I won’t. Although I usually write my blahg from a small, ugly chitchen in a raggedy old house on The Planet Ann Arbor, I know that I don’t have a lot of local followers. But I want to say to everyone everywhere, GET INFORMED and VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!!

I know it’s hard to spend time getting to know all of the candidates for every election that comes along. And it’s hard to tell what any candidate will actually do once elected. But listen to me. I personally know a couple of people on our local school board. I love them but they are not doing a good job. I will always regard them as friends but they will absolutely *not* get my vote again. So, research your local candidates and VOTE!!!

And god help us here on The Planet Ann Arbor. Who will the school board and its executive search firm find next…

“It isn’t spring until the ice is outta the St. Mary’s!”

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

clydes2013That would be a quote from The Commander circa 1963, who spent a lot of time arguing with me about whether I needed to wear a blasted jacket or not. Heck, it’s sunny and warm out. Why the heck do I need a blasted jacket? [The temperature was probably in the 40s…]

We didn’t get to Clyde’s the first day it opened this year but we did get there last weekend. Was it snowing? I can’t remember if it was snowing *while* we were at Clyde’s or not. I think that started up a bit later. But it was damn cold and I gave our waitress an extra big tip. I am always a good tipper but this woman *cheerfully* ventured out into winter weather conditions to wait on us. She deserved an extra good one.

Clyde’s opened in 1949 and I have been going there all of my life and I could write about that… All of the times I went there with my parents or grandparents or the times I took the beach urchins there, etc., etc., etc. This time, there was a bit of a facebook cluster-you-know-what going on. What fun! Lemme see…

I am facebook friends with the Siberia bank manager (she also lives next door to The Commander’s house). She traveled south that day and posted on facebook that she had crossed the Mackinac Bridge. I saw that she had posted that when I posted my routine Mackinac Bridge photo. We got to Clyde’s and there was a facebook message that said I should go over to the bank and pick up a newspaper clipping about my grandad becoming the bank president. And so I did and then we went over to Barish’s where the GG bought clothing and we both commiserated with Bill O. about losing elderly relatives and talked about hiking and x-c skiing and whatever. Bill O and his family lived in the house across the alley from my childhood house on Superior Street. He is an uber-cool person who is still running his family’s ancient clothing business in Sault Ste. Siberia.

Other facebook things happened throughout the weekend. Siberia class of 1972 friends, North Country Trail folks, etc. I am babbling incoherently but Facebook cracks me up (except when it doesn’t).

In which my moldy old feet have finally dried out but the Frog Hopper is still recovering…

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

I don’t usually do series-type blahg entries but you never know what I will do next (and neither do I). I left off yesterday with a quick drive-by at the moomincabin after which we headed south to the Brevort Lake area for a group hike with our fave Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore North Country Trail chapter. The GG “led” this hike. I’m still not totally sure what that means although he did do a safety talk and made sure to keep an eye on who was the farthest out. In this case, it was pretty hard to get lost, since you could just follow the snowshoe tracks back to where you came from. But still. Anything can happen…

This was a snowshoe hike for sure. When we started out, the sky was cloudy and the snow was cold enough that the snowshoeing was pretty much okay for me with my old-fashioned snowshoes.

hike1

We snowshoed around 5.5 miles that day. It was an in-and-out hike and when the GG and Dan and I got to the point where we figured we needed to turn around, THE SUN CAME OUT!!!! Sorry for the caps but… The GG and Dan went on just wee bit further but I just stood there and watched (and tried [unsuccessfully] to video) the snow falling from the trees. Gorgeous!

hike3

I was terrified of this bridge on the way out but I somehow managed to traverse it by hanging on for dear life. I managed on the way back too. It was a bit easier on the return trip but I was still freaked out. This couple did it with aplomb.

hike2

And finally, a mini-snowman.

hike4

By the time I met the snowman, things were pretty slippery for my old-fashioned wood and sinew(?) snowshoes and I struggled with the hills. When I encountered those, I would head off to the side into the deep snow and things got a little dicey sometimes. So glad I took ski poles with me… And that the GG thought to pack some in the Frog Hopper… When I finally got back to the bonfaaarrr, my boots and feet were absolutely soaked through but I felt fantastic. Like I had [again] used some muscles that needed to be used. We ate dinner with the group in St. Ignace, then headed down to the UU’s house in Gaylord…

Alas, I left my soaking wet boots in the Frog Hopper in the UU’s garage OVERNIGHT!!! Guess what? The next morning, when I was mobilizing to take my walk, I opened up the Frog Hopper to get my boots and the STENCH of my still-damp boots slammed me in the face. Yuck. I wore them anyway. With YakTrax on the outside and Smartwool socks on the inside, I felt safe on ice and warm at 20 degrees, even with wet stinky boots.

Yogi is coming! Yogi is coming!

Monday, April 15th, 2013

I’m not going to write about Yogi but I’ve been hearing about him all day via Broooooosie, who wandered about in cube land warning everybody about him. Yes, Brooooosie does do productive work to earn his salary although given the point in our release cycle I have no doubt that today was a slow day for him. Even if he wasn’t productive, I for one would want the company to still pay him. He’s one of those people that every workplace needs to have around. Anyway, every time Brooooosie warned me about Yogi (and it was multiple times), I told him I had spent the whole weekend in a damn snowstorm. Because guess what we didn’t open up over the weekend?

cabin1

The place with the red railings is the moomincabin and that snowbank in between the moomincabin and The Old Cabin really is around the same height as the GG. Round Island kind of faded away with all the snow that was coming down so I aimed my iPhone a bit more to the west and caught these pine trees on the bank with Cullis’s Point in the background.

cabin2

And here’s a close-up of a clump of snow-filled red pine needles at the end of the path to the moominbeach.

cabin3

And finally, a view down the path to the beach. We needed to get going at this point. We were only able to do a drive-by at the moomincabin this weekend. Checked things out, grabbed a few more boxes outta the garage and headed on down to meet our North Country Trail hiking buddies at Brevort Lake. When we got down there, the Mean Old Grunchie Old Grinchie had called my phone wondering something like What The Heck? Who has droven in? He is one of the folks who keep track of who comes down our little two-track road during the off-season. I called back and explained our drive-by visit and lack of hooking up with him or Jeep / Pan. It was a good weekend but it didn’t quite go as planned…

cabin4

This photo is of the moominbeach approximately a year ago. We didn’t open the place that weekend but we did spend some time out there and I’m sure I walked the beach in bare feet and some people probably went out in the woods and used implements of too much fun, etc.

aprilnoice

Well, where should we stay tonight? Eeny, meeny, miny mo…

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

twinz(Note that I flipped the picture so it is correct — see comments.) Gaylord has always been a stopping place on my Great Lake State road map. As a kid, we would stop at the Sugar Bowl restaurant on Friday night trips down to Dee-troit or the Planet Ann Arbor or wherever. Steak sandwich medium rare, fries, and a coke, thank you very much. Later, when I was driving back and forth from the yooperland to college in my rusty old rattle-trap POC Pinto wagon, I used to stop at the uber-friendly Standard station there. Once when I was driving up in freezing rain/sleet/snow/whatever (like last Thursday), zee driverz side veeeendsheeeeld viper blade broke off while I was on the freeway. I limped into Gaylord, stopped at the Standard station and voila! Not only did they *have* a veeeensheeeeld viper blade to fit my stoopid old vee-hickle, they replaced it for me! For free! I just had to pay for the blade. Which was five or seven dollars. I could do that…

In the last few years, stopping at Gaylord has taken on a whole new meaning because the GG’s identical twin, who occasionally comments here as the UU (usually when he thinks I’ve gone off my rocker about something polly-tickal but sometimes for other reasons), now lives in the area. And lemme tell you, the UU and his lovely wife The Beautiful Gay run the best hotel on earth. Spotlessly clean and cocktails at the ready for people who have been traveling through ice storms. In April, no less… And it is a handy place from which to make a morning launch to the yooperland for whatever business may be at hand up there. Only 100 miles to go…

This time around, we were also provided with entertainment in the form of their cute little grandson, who is learning to talk. This weekend, this young boy was also confronted with the fact that there’s some other clown in the universe who looks exactly like his grandpa “Bob Bob” (I think that’s what he calls Grandpa Bob).

twinzmouseBeen there, done that… Lizard Breath was confronted with the whole “dad has a doppelganger” thing early on and she “got it”. Well, at least as long as they were both standing there together, she knew which one was which. There was one time… We had spent a day helping the UU and TBG (and their children) move. Late that night, the UU and I went out for a beer, leaving Lizard Breath (a year old or so) alone with her *dad*. Boy howdy, was she MAD!!! My parents are leaving me *alone* with Uncle Bob!!! The GG never did get her to understand that she *was* with her dad until we came back.

I don’t have a picture of that but I do have this picture of the then three-week-old Mouse with the Twinz of Terror. With a gratuitous shot of the moldy old Houghton Lake cabin behind them (long before we tore it down and rebuilt). I can’t quite read Mouse’s face in this photo. You would think that an infant of that age might not recognize people (or their faces maybe) but around this time, our venerable friend Master W visited and as he was holding her, she was staring at his face, apparently scrutinizing whether or not he was worth her time. Well. Either that or she was thinking about The Phantom Tollbooth.

Bob Bob’s young grandson? Of course he figured it out and by the time he and his parents hit the road this morning, he was calling the GG by his name. It sounded a little more like “ball” than “bill” (which was hilarious!) but the kid has got it!

Good night everyone and special thanks to the UU and TBG for putting us up twice this weekend. Always a good time!

I went to Lincoln School

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

johnstreetI don’t know why, but it was so much fun today to say that to somebody who actually knew the Lincoln School I was talking about. I mean the one in Sault Ste. Siberia, right across the street from my childhood home. It was a group of Sault Boy Scouts and their leaders who came out for the monthly North Country Trail hike. One of these young men, F, is planning to build a bench for our section of trail as an Eagle Scout project.

That was all fun but a bit later on, things got even more interesting. After hiking, the Boy Scouts left and most of the rest of us meandered over to St. Ignace for the annual dinner and presentation. The GG and I put our stuff down at an empty table and wandered around socializing for a bit. Yeah, I know. Me? Socializing? You know that a glass of cab helped a bit… Then, F and his dad (who was not at the hike) came in and sat at our table. Of course this was okay but I was a little nervous. I have to make polite conversation with strangers? Okaaaaayyy…

We began with the usual small talk: where are you from, what do you do, yada yada. F’s dad married a Sault “girl”. I was familiar with the family name but didn’t really know his wife or her siblings. After some years of marriage, they moved “back” to Siberia. Here’s where the conversation got interesting:

F’s dad: my wife grew up on Young Street.

KW: I grew up on Superior St. [several streets east of Young St.]

F’s dad: we live on John.

KW: My grandparents lived at [street number] John.

F and dad in unison: That’s our address.

[KW’s jaw drops and she stares blankly.]

Wow! I talked about the nooks and crannies I remembered and bumping down the then carpeted stairs on my butt and the bedroom my brother and I slept in when our parents left us with the grandparents and how the attic was off limits because my eccentric great aunt lived there.

F’s dad told me how he’s been working to fix up the house and undo some attempts at “modernization” by some interim owner(s). The attic has been converted into a master bedroom. The radiators have been refurbished. And I forget what else. But what about the pocket doors? (Oh please say the pocket doors are still there.) Yes, they are.

Like my grandparents, this family is raising a family of four in that house: two boys, two girls. F has the front corner bedroom and being a young teenage boy, I am sure he quickly tired of hearing a baggy old kayak woman squeal, “That was my grandparents’ bedroom!”

Anyway, not to get sappy here but I feel happy that the old house seems to be in good hands in the 21st century.

And here we are back at Chloe Belle’s in Gaylord after an adventurous and snowy weekend. We’re having a gay old time here (no pun intended) and I’ll probably find about a billion typos and maybe a few frogs and newts and whatever in this post tomorrow.

G’night, –KW

This is Michigan and it’s… uh… spring?

Friday, April 12th, 2013

ojibwayThere are so many days that my life is so boring that I don’t have a clue what to write about. Get up, take a walk, eat breakfast, do some chores, go to work, come home, do some chores, maybe walk to the Plum Market, cook dinner, blaaaaaahhhhhhggggg… … … Oh that’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of interesting things going on in my life. It’s just that most of it falls into that loverly category of I-can’t-blahg-about-it. Like all of the crazy (funny) stuff that happens at work or polly-tickal rants or my deeeeeeep thoughts about everything under the sun. (Actually, I thought I had written a version of this as a comment on Margaret’s latest blog entry but I must not have hit the post button.)

But then there are days (like today) when all kinds of things happen and it gets to be almost 10 PM EDT and I sit here in front of my loverly little MacBook Pro going b’dah b’dah b’dah b’dah… How do I process today and what do I write about and will I make any sense? If I were better organized and didn’t work full time at a job that requires, uh, a whole bunch of technical writing, I would try to work an “exciting” weekend like this one into a “mini-series” of stories that I could write about throughout the next week or so. Instead you get a brain dump. Like this…

Drove up from Gaylord today on increasingly worsening roads. Y’know, when it gets to be mid-April, if we get significant snow on The Planet Ann Arbor, even though I am the Chief of the Black Ice Police, I don’t salt or even shovel my sidewalk because it usually all melts within about twelve hours. The Planet Ann Arbor probably puts its snowplows away in March, not that they do more than a cursory plowing job even in January. Up here in the Yooperland, the plows are still out. There is a ton of snow and it looks like January.

It is snowing again tonight. When will it stop? The GG says, “The back of winter doesn’t feel broken yet.” He means throughout the Great Lake State and I agree with him. I am weary. When will it end? Last year we opened up the moomincabin in April. I doubt that’s gonna happen this year. We didn’t get out there today. Tomorrow morning we’ll go and see how deep the snow drifts are.

P.S. The building in the photoooo is the Hotel Ojibway, where we’re staying tonight. When I was a little kid, this was one of the “fancy” hotels in town. It is so surreal to be staying here after a lifetime of driving and/or walking past the place. This time I know where the ice musheen is…

Soccery Blue!

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

yuckLemme tell you, I was uttering worse oaths than soccery blue today. Lemme count the ways…

First, when I went for my walk this morning, it was windy *and* raining cats and dogs. My feet were sopping wet by the time I had walked 10 feet into the schoolyard and I was hanging on to my umbrella for dear life. And swearing a blue streak.

Work was just peachy until I walked out at two in the afternoon. No, I didn’t get mad and leave, I took a wee bit of paid time off to go home and get ready to head north later in the afternoon. Windy and colder than blue blazes as I walked out to my vee-hickle and I was swearing a blue streak.

Okay. The I75 SUV Speedway today? Suck suck suckity suck. Started out okay. 38 degrees and dry roads until, oh I dunno, just about the Zilwaukee Bridge maybe? At least that’s about the first time I noticed any kind of precipitation. It was just kind of misty stuff at that point and the roads were still dry but I was a little spooked and fighting to get zeee veeeendsheeeeeld vipers at exactly the right setting (and swearing a blue streak).

Rainier and rainier and rainier and then after we made the jog over away from Saginaw Bay, the road was reeeeeallly wet and I felt uncertain about what was actually underneath my taaarrrrs, an uncertainty that turned into a case of white knuckles as I noticed that all of the trees and bushes at the side of the road were coated with ice and the rain was *noisy* — like ice pellets — and it was WINDY. Despite the passenger’s protests, I slowed down to around 60, swearing a blue streak. I didn’t want to take any chances but still, for a long time, I think the road was mainly wet and I may have been a bit overcautious.

The conditions suddenly got messier and then, within the space of a couple miles, at least three vee-hickles were off the road, including one that definitely passed me maybe five miles back. Guess what? EVERYBODY slowed down. Apparently they finally realized that Mother Nature meant serious business? Except maybe not because I still saw people yapping on their cell phones… I made it as far as West Branch, where we got gas and the GG took over driving and then we trundled along at around 45 mph for the last 60 miles or whatever it is to Chloe Belle’s house in Gaylord.

Tomorrow we’re moving on to Sault Ste. Siberia, which is supposed to get 5-8 inches or whatever. We sure picked a wonderful spring weekend to travel to the north country. Soccery blue! And good night.