Archive for May, 2013

Red Queen in a Blue Skirt. With ticks.

Friday, May 31st, 2013

clematisFirst of all, you know my alter-ego Black Thumb Banana, roight? Well, last year, Black Thumb bought a beauteous new arbor at the farmer’s market and two clematis plants to plant on either side of it. One of those plants had a beauteous flower like the one in the photoooo when she bought it. Alas. Last summer the temperatures hovered in the 90s and even 100s FOREVER and the god-forsaken Great Lake State was dry as a bone the whole time. Black Thumb trudged outside and struggled with hoses to water everything in sight every morning and evening. That original clematis flower faded and though the plant survived, no more flowers bloomed. Black Thumb figured it was just another failed experiment that would die over the winter, never to return.

This morning. Black Thumb returned from her 0-skunk-30 walk and walked through the Landfill back yard for her morning Focus For Five Minutes Fer Kee-reist weeding session. And stopped dead in her tracks upon seeing the gorgeous flower in the photooo! There were actually two of them. By the end of the day, something like five? More photooos tomorrow for those who are shopping for arbors.

And so, after a long day in the salt mines, KW swooshed home to The Landfill. She changed into her beauteous new blue summer skirt and got ready to red queen down to the Oscar Tango. As she was puttering around The Landfill, she felt the all-too familiar feeling of a [frickin’] tick trying to latch on to her side. Say what? Now, the last time KW encountered a tick was last Friday, roight? She has been back here on The Planet Ann Arbor all week. The Landfill and its surrounding grounds do not have ticks (it did have poison ivy but KW has eradicated that). KW’s climate controlled cube farm *certainly* does not contain ticks. Or any bugs that bother humans.

Where did this [frickin’] tick come from? Well. When KW packed for The Great White North more than a week ago, she packed this loverly new blue skirt. Unfortunately, last weekend, the weather in the Great White North was more conducive to wearing snowpants than a summer skirt. So it stayed packed in KW’s crappy old LL Bean duffle bag all weekend. Along with some other possibly ticky clothing. Even though the blue skirt hung in KW’s bedroom closet all week, she suspects that it was harboring a tick. Note to self: adopt and practice more effective tick-control routines when hiking in the Great White North woods.

P.S. These ticks are *dog* ticks, not *deer* ticks. They are icky but they do *not* cause Lyme Disease. And yes I *do* know how to deal with ticks, I’m just annoyed that I have to and therefore dragging my feet about it. I don’t remember ever seeing a damn tick around in the yooperland when I was a kid. Moe-skee-toes and biting flies? Yes. Not ticks.

Lots to do this weekend. Good night,
Kayak Woman

Don’t let the door hit you…

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

little2heartI am at the end tonight. What to blahg about? I dunno. Life is kinda “meh” right now… Nothing good, nothing bad, definitely nothing much to look forward to. Work, home, work, home, yada yada.

The Landfill Front Room is filled with [more] stuff from The Commander’s life. A box of bags. Luggage, tote bags, evening purses, little bags that I made when I was in a serious fiber arts phase. Fiber arts books, some of them [maybe] valuable, some of them [probably] not, some of them copies (yes, copied on a copying musheen) placed into binders, most of them probably available on eBay or Alibris or wherever. A little plastic basket full of cables and cords to things I don’t think exist any more. Why this little plastic basket is in the bottom of a big cardboard box of *bags*, I do not know. Maybe I packed all of that stuff in there together. Maybe it was the GG. I don’t remember. I only remember days and days and days of (not enough) bubble wrap and (never enough) boxes. We never figured out where to buy banker’s boxes in Sault Ste. Siberia and we kept forgetting to buy them down here on The Planet (I know…) and so we kept driving by the back of the Sault Ste. Siberia KMart looking for discarded boxes. Any boxes… All of that stuff is slowly making its way down here to The Landfill, getting sorted out and either adopted or donated. Or thrown out… Yes. I am not shy about throwing some of The Commander’s stuff out. I think she is okay with that.

I remember when The Commander was still alive and kicking and offered her bags (and lots of other stuff) to people in the G3 and G4 generations of the fam. Sigh. The Landfill had been overflowing with stuff for years and even her grandchildren (G4) already owned too many possessions. It cracked me up when The Commander spent Christmas 2010 down here with us and took a look around and came to the conclusion that we did *not* need any of her stuff. “I looked in all of the drawers and they were all full!” Indeed. And I can still imagine her gleefully snooping around my house. I also caught her poking the faaarrrr. What a loverly old nonamoose.

Don’t let the door hit you? You know who I’m talking about, roight? It’s Michelle Bachmann and Le Marquis states all of this better than I can. I don’t quiiiite agree with his last sentence about the lord or whatever but it is HIS blahg and, as far as I’m concerned, he can write whatever the hell he wants to. That’s what makes the blogosphere world go ’round, so you go, Marquis. And Michelle? Good riddance.

Kayak Woman

So glad…

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

ducklake7…there are no facebook photooos of me when I was in college, thank you god. Yes, college was fun, although for the most part, photos would be me drinking beer and talking / dancing / whatever. I was also a *very* serious student. I was a music student who practiced a strict regimen for *hours* every day and *almost* always had a 4.0 grade-point average. Not always. I mean, when I was a sophomore and my (old icky) piano prof had a crush on me, I got totally creeped out, stopped practicing and got a C. It’s okay, my major instrument was flute and I felt comfortable enough with my sophomore year flute teacher that when he reported that the piano teacher mentioned my disinterest in practicing, I could tell him why. And he *understood*! I can’t dredge out that guy’s name at the moment but this was the early 1970s and he *rocked*! And then there was a conducting class creep that I can’t even describe (well, disparaging the UP was only part of his stupid spiel). He wasn’t interested in meeee (I don’t think, hmmm), he was just icky. And I am not a conductor but a better, more supportive prof might’ve gotten me through that class with more than a damn C!

When I graduated from college (with a music degree) I had no frickin’ idea about how to make a living. I felt reduced to searching the classified ads for secretarial and receptionist type positions. Remember when those jobs required a typing test? I can type like the wind but not the kind of typing a secretary had to do in those days. I didn’t really want a secretarial job. In the end, I dropped off a cliff into the IT business, thanks to a cousin of mine. I flourished there and my typing skills are one reason I did, who knew… Good thing there weren’t photos of me on facebook back in those days. Maybe this almost straight-A student who liked to have fun (who *still* likes to have fun) wouldn’t have been hired.

Nowadays, employers can search facebook et al to look for what their prospective employees have posted. I hope they are thinking about their own youthful indiscretions when they search for new hires. Please. Talk to the *person* and find out what they are all about. Who do you want working for you? I think you want a diverse bunch, including maybe a few folks who hoist a beer once in a while. People do grow up. If you are researching googling a potential employee and you find a few drunk party pictures, please give that person a chance.

In which I forgot to pack my YakTrax / snowshoes

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

ducklake3This photoooo was taken Saturday, May 25, 2013 on the North Country Trail in the Great Lake State’s Upper Peninsula Two-Hearted River area. [No, we didn’t see Hemingway’s ghost.]

The hike (if you didn’t read my previous blahg entry about it) is along the shores of Gitchee Gumee and much of that area was devastated a year or so ago by a forest faaaarrrr. Snow? On Memorial Day weekend? Well, yes! Why not? I am joking about the YakTrax and snowshoes. I didn’t really need those. My Chacos did just fine with the few bits of snow we encountered, although they are getting so old and decrepit I was kind of wondering if they would make it through nine miles of somewhat strenuous hiking. I kept wondering if I could hike outta there in Smart Wool socks. Note to self: NEW SANDALS! SOON! Maybe I’ll try some Keens too. The problem is that, in order to buy Keens, I’ll have to endure an actual *shopping* trip (to REI) to make sure they fit.

This afternoon? It is hot and muggy here on The Planet Ann Arbor. (Yesterday it was 50 or something and the GG had the damn heat on…) After I got home and did my Workday Five-Minute Gardening thing and folded moomincabin laundry and sorted out still more of The Comm’s old clothes, etc., the tornado siren blew. Why? I do not know. There seemed to be a small, fast-moving storm to the north of us. Did they blow the tornado sirens for the whole dern county because of that? Why? People need to be warned about tornadoes. But if you over-warn people, they will become inured to the warnings and not take them seriously. Especially here in The Southeast Great Lake State, where *most* tornadoes are relatively small and localized and do not usually cause widespread damage or loss of life.

I was off work for a long holiday weekend. It was a wonderful weekend with a good mix of work and play but I could’ve used a few more days off. When I crash-landed yesterday, MMCB had sent a facebook message saying that the only day she could meet this week was this morning. She had just returned from two weeks in Greece [talk about crash landing, except she does this stuff all the time, i.e., the next trip is Taiwan (dunno why she hangs out with meeeee…)] and, knowing that I had taken a long weekend, wondered if I would have a lot of stuff to do at work. I said something like, “Tomorrow, after this long weekend, most of my co-workers will spend the first few hours in a daze.” And we met. And I got to work and we were, indeed in a kind of daze. I am a *designer*! Depending on where we are in the product cycle, we can sometimes put our feet up just a bit. I am a work-a-holic and it took me a long time to figure out that design work involves some down time… I often figure problems out as I am driving home or within “processing dreams” or on my 0-skunk-30 walk.

To Jeep and Pan, I showed the loverly Bear Picture to my co-workers and they loved it!

Seek an alternate route

Monday, May 27th, 2013

cabinatsunsetOkay, I will. Thanks!

I love Twitter. I follow a random bunch of tweeters. Family members (most of whom rarely tweet). Online news sources. Design blahggers. Education blahggers. Severe weather alerts (all over the country, not just here). Willard Mitt Romney (I eventually unfollowed him). Commander Hadfield (who doesn’t follow him?). God. And lots of others, including @MDOT_A2. And apparently @MDOT_A2 also follows me. I’m sure that God couldn’t be bothered.

Following @MDOT-A2 was handy today. What is @MDOT-A2? It is the Michigan Department of Transportation handle for parts of southeast Michigan. I am not inundated by tweets from MDOT but I got a useful one this morning! Southbound Zilwaukee Bridge closed — seek alternate route. Roight. I knew that the bridge was closed. I wasn’t focused on the fact that we were traveling *on* Memorial Day when every yahoo in SE Michigan (including us, of course) is heading back down to megalopolis. I was focused on how much crap we had to stuff into our two vee-hickles (yes, two) for the trip down… And the neighborhood bear… And any number of other things…

Thank you MDOT. We took the Lansing route, the one without the bridge. We encountered a few little slow-downs. Mostly these occurred when the cops stopped somebody for whatever and everybody else slowed down to gawk. In the last such incident, two SUV drivers in the left lane adjacent to me had a little trouble stopping in time and, if one of them hadn’t scooted over onto the left shoulder, they would probably have hit each other and maybe me and my little Ninja… We need highway patrols. There are some *terrible* drivers out there and they need to be stopped and maybe these folks were in that category. But if the cops were stopping an otherwise responsible driver for going “five over”, I am not impressed…

And so we are home again and the photooo is from last night when the sun was setting over the moominbeach.

One morning in the Great White North

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

bearFirst of all, I hope that Jeep and Pan don’t mind that I post this photoooo. It’s their photo and I have not obtained permission. But isn’t it a great picture?

That said, what an interesting morning this was. I got up and walked the beach and everything was all right. Got home and the GG was cooking breakfast. I sat down and settled in to checking deleting spam email, looking Twitter and facebook, etc., etc. Our Northern Correspondent posted on facebook that a bear had ravaged her bird feeders. She had also heard evidence of someone possibly having too much fun. I peered around the room… The usual culprit of having too much fun was sitting over at the dining table slugging around on the internet. This was all quite the little moominbeach mystery for about five minutes. Then. Via email, I received this loverly photo of a satellite dish upgrade guy *bear*! Along with an explanation of the episode of having too much fun (an innocent action). I texted this information to Our Northern Correspondent.

I am not an expert on bears and I don’t live here year-round by any stretch of the imagination and I have *never* seen a bear here although I have seen plenty of bear scat (and did this afternoon, as I was walking down the road). This guy isn’t very big and I’m told that often in the spring, yearling bears are found going after birdseed or hummingbird juice or whatever. There’s probably not (?) a mama bear lurking nearby at this point. Based on the damage I saw to the pole that holds ONC’s feeder, this guy is pretty strong and if I encounter him, I will give him a wide berth. Also, I will make sure that I am not walking around with a bird feeder!

A day of chores ensued with a period of someone having too much fun in the late afternoon. I was warned (thank you) and I said, “I’ll go down to the beach (I was going there anyway) and I’ll text you when it’s okay to begin your fun. And I did and he waited until I texted and I walked and then I sat in the little hollow in front of The Old Cabin with a glass of whine and NpJane. At least I was there with NpJane in spirit, she’s down there on The Planet Ann Arbor.

All this digital communication (we have the 4G network pretty much everywhere on the beach this year) is blowing me away. I remember when we didn’t have *telephones* here. Except for my uncle Don, who as a doc, *needed* one so he could get to town to deliver babies or handle emergencies, etc. I was very young when Don and Katie built their cabin I can vaguely remember a telephone in the Old Cabin.

The evolution of communications on the moominbeach might be a post for another day. When I was a kid, the bear news would probably have hit all of the beach folks pretty fast too but it would have traveled on foot. Today it all happened via the internet. There are good and bad aspects to that but again, another day.

Good night,
Kayak Woman

Forest faaarrrr [insert 4-letter-word that begins with “p” and ends with “n”]

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

ducklake5Approximately one year ago, the GG and Lizard Breath were up here at the moomincabin having too much fun [while KW slaved away in the salt mines] and when they got up one morning, there was SMOKE outside! Where was the fire? They looked around outside and somebody called the DNR to try to figure out what was going on. The moomincabin is located in a forest and when it gets dry, any little spark could set off a conflagration in no time. Forest fires are *good* in the grand scheme of things but not so much when they occur in areas where people own property on which they have built structures. Like us. That’s why we are ULTRA-careful with beach faaaarrrs around here.

It turned out that there was indeed a fire and it turned into a BIG forest fire but it was many miles away from the moominbeach. It was called the “Duck Lake” fire and I was itching to take a drive over there later in the summer. I was strongly discouraged from this and actually I don’t think it was possible for any old random looky-loo (like meeeeee) to drive into the area, for good reasons.

It has been a year and there is a section of the North Country Trail that runs right through the area of the Duck Lake forest faaaarrr. This summer, volunteers working with our own Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore NCT Chapter are working to re-establish the trail: re-routing, blazing, and doing general maintenance work. It can be a trick to blaze a hiking trail after a forest fire. The burned trees haven’t finished falling down yet and probably won’t for a few years. So you can blaze but you will probably have to re-blaze again (and again (and again)). There’s also a *lot* of deadfall to clear and that is also an exercise that’ll have to be repeated again (and again (and again)) as more trees fall down.

We did over nine miles today. Started at the mouth of the Little Two-Hearted River, walked a couple miles beyond the mouth of the Two-Hearted River, then back. Our turn-around point was the beach below the red-pine forested dune where the GG and Mouse camped a couple years ago, *before* the fire.

A beautiful hike and a relatively strenuous one for The Great Lake State, at least with all of the forest fire deadfall. We stopped at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery for an appetizer and an adult beverage after hiking, then swooshed down M123 and the Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway for home.

The photoooo doesn’t do this particular scene justice. We walked into this section of the burned out forest and at first glance it looked like these trees had been hit by frost or an ice storm. It’s cold this weekend but it’s not *that* cold. 55 degrees or thereabouts at the time I took the photo. This effect is the sun shining out of a cloudless sky, illuminating all of those bare branches.

Tired? Yes yes yes! The GG is on his second nap this afternoon. The first one was in the Frog Hopper on the way home from the brewery. Now he’s in the back bedroom. Me? I don’t usually take naps but I did take a shower, which can function as a nap for me. I wore Smart Wool socks and sandals today and my feet were black! Tomorrow is our last day here for a while. Chores are at hand and we’ll be sticking pretty close to the beach…

Oh bleeg, I have to do my blahg…

Friday, May 24th, 2013

trail3I am wearing winter accessories a lot this weekend. I don’t have my ski jacket here, just a couple of polartech jackets. I don’t have my bomber hat but I do have my ski band. And I have some of those cheeeeep little Woldemort type knit glubs. And a couple of scarves. I have been wearing all that stuff. On the beach. It is frickin’ cold here.

I walked the beach a couple times today and we made a run into Sault Ste. Siberia for various things (including a short stop at our fave UP Tire but we won’t talk about that) and then we came back out here and scrabbled together a gulag-style lunch, i.e., there is such a thing as being a bit too minimalist about food and I am guilty of it this weekend. And then… The GG asked me if I wanted to hike to hike The JF Nature Trail and maybe do a bit of trail maintenance. After a split second? Well, yes. I did. So off we went.

A perfect day to trek up the hill and past all the double-wides, et al to get to the nature trail. This land used to belong to my family and the plan was that it would stay wild forever. Alas, that did not happen and I am not gonna go into that whole thing tonight. There is a nature trail now and it is named after my brother. We walked it today and it is actually very well maintained. The GG sawed a few small trees that had fallen across the path but other than that and some wet spots we had to make slight detours around, the trail is in good shape.

Due to the cold winds coming in off the lake, we did not encounter moo-skee-toes or flies today. Ticks? Yeek, I picked up a tick. This tick was a dog tick, not a deer tick. There’s a difference. I do not remember any ticks when I was a child. They kind of freak me out. It can be hours after a hike and all of a sudden there will be this *thing* running up my neck (or wherever) and it will be a frickin’ tick! Kee-reist!

Anyway, I am taaarrred and we are heading over to the Two-Hearted River area early tomorrow to hike so…

Love y’all and good night,

39 and counting…

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

moominCounting up or down? I don’t know. I suspect the temperature will get colder overnight. I pulled the flat of impatiens the GG bought for me to pot in honor of The Commander into the chitchen for overnight. Apparently impatiens here in the yooperland are not in danger of mold. We’ll see. I have some I’m gambling on down there on The Planet Ann Arbor too.

I had a little list of things to pack for the moomincabin. “Hat” was one of those things and so I packed my big summer beach/kayaking hat. Somehow this morning, a little voice said something like, “What about your ski band? And maybe you’ll need some glubs — that is, other than the Old Coot’s choppers that are hanging around the moomincabin. And so I grabbed some of those things and boy oh boy was I happy I did. It was in the 60s when I walked on The Planet Ann Arbor this morning. It was 44 on the Mackinac Bridge. I was still bare-legged with sandals on. “Need to dredge up some socks” was the text accompanying my typical north-bound Big Mac bridge photo. Posted safely from the rest area immediately north of the bridge.

I did walk the beach this afternoon. I had my ski-band and my glubs on and a scarf and wool socks (and sandals) and a wool/silk turtleneck and two layers of polartech. I needed every bit of that. I didn’t pack my ski jacket. I decided that if it got cold enough that I needed that thing, I would bag walking. Or walk the road or whatever.

This place is kind of a mess. I don’t remember it being so messy when we packed it up last fall but it probably was. But I know that it was a whole lot *less* messy last fall than it was the fall before (and the fall before that). The last few years have been crazy and I made some good inroads at de-cluttering last summer but there’s more to do. The task at hand is to transition the cabin from a nuclear family’s second home to a group vacation home. It was okay for the place to accumulate extra stuff when my parents were alive and in control. They *lived* here in the summer. As we galumph along into the future, I think we’ll be better off with a more minimalist approach. Things that are *needed* should be here but not a bunch of extra stuff. (Of course, my fave jigger is not here, because *I* “borrowed” it for the winter and fergot to schlep it back up…)

I am greatly appreciative of the GG’s efforts to open the place and do some initial cleaning. He is able to take the time off work. I don’t have as much time as he does and believe me, the last thing I want to do with my paid time off is to spend my time up here deep cleaning (although some deep cleaning is needed and I will no doubt happily do some of it). But it was nice to get here today and not have to swing into action immediately.

P.S. The GG read this and thinks I don’t appreciate his work. The place is *not* a pig-sty by any means. It’s actually in pretty good shape and he is responsible for much of that. I am just looking for ways to reorganize things in order to make it *easier* to clean and maintain — without losing the character of the place…

Praying in my own godless way for the most recent tornado victims to find peace with their losses and a solid spot to place a foot as they step into the future

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

pocstormWe have cyclonic storms here in the Great Lake State. I don’t know if we’ve ever had anything approaching an F5 tornado a couple miles wide and packing 200 mph winds (or whatever it was). But we do get some killers and, therefore, I can be a ninny about them. The GG? Naw. Let’s go outside and watch…

I have been through an actual tornado and lived to tell the story. It was 1997 and we were heading north on the I75 SUV Speedway one hot, humid July day. The sky turned black, we bailed into a rest area, I wanted to go and hide under a toilet (if you know me IRL, you *know* how much I hate public toilets), the GG made me park on the entrance ramp *back* to the freeway and… There was the tornado, coming straight at us. It flipped one or two cars over but in the end, we didn’t get a direct hit. We were rocked around a bit but came through unscathed, except for the sand-blasting my loverly old POC endured, the beauteous lemonish vee-hickle in the photoooo. That tornado was nowhere near an F5 but it was a killer — one person in a mobile home, if I remember accurately. One is more than enough.

That photoooo was not taken on the tornado day. It was taken in the loverly Landfill Driveway a few years later, 2000. No, a tornado did not come through that time. It was 3:00 AM and a bit of wind woke us up. The GG said something about how nice it was that a storm was blowing in because that would make sleeping so much better. Roight… So a little wind and some thunder and lightning. And then! Swoooooooosh! HUGE WIND! More REALLY LOUD THUNDER! Except not. That was the sound of a tree falling on our house. We jumped out of bed and so did the then teenaged children. Thank the gods no one was hurt (including Izzy the rat, guinea pig [many names (Toilet Brush?)] and whatever anoles [not named that I know of] may have been left by that time).

I’m a mom and when severe weather is predicted, I worry freak out. What is the safest place in my house to throw my body over my childrens’ bodies in case worse comes to worst? Under the dungeon stairs, I think… What if we’re not home or I’m separated from my children or THEY ARE OUT DRIVING SOMEWHERE ALL ON THEIR OWN! Because licensed teenagers and adults doooooo that kind of thing… I can’t imagine living in Tornado Alley. I need the green of the Great Lake State and the big water of Gitchee Gumee. I’m not sure there is any place that is safe enough to survive an F5 tornado besides an underground shelter like the one Dorothy didn’t quite make it into when she went to Oz.

And then there was the day when we were all home at the Landfill and the sky was really threatening and the tornado sirens blew. Total chaos erupted. The beach urchins freaked out and threw every last blasted stuffed aminal down the Landfill Dungeon stairs. Workers across the street were noisily chipping up some old branches or whatever and did *not* stop because of the dern tornado siren. The GG? Well, he was outside! Where else? A couple of cecropia moths were mating in a crack between sidewalk panes and he and our late [beloved] neighbor Hans were out there watching them. And taking photos, which are around somewhere but I couldn’t find them in iPhoto so you get the POC instead. No tornado came anywhere near us that night but whenever I think of that evening, I imagine a beautiful zaftig soprano trilling an aria throughout all the activity. That’s about all that was missing.

And now there’s a blasted stinging insect in the house…

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

eggLemme see… I lost a minor design skirmish at work today. I suspect the issue will return in the not-too-distant future but I decided to cut my losses for now and let it ride. I do know how to pick my battles [grin]. Er, let it ride. These guys are so cool. Bachman Turner Overdrive. From my youth. They are still going. Love it!

Then there was the homeward commute. Oh. My. God! My commute is almost exactly eight miles. I can use the I94 18-Wheel Slogway for five of those miles. Or not. Today, I left work and got to the stoplight at the entrance to Avis Farms Business Park and S. State Street and it was impossible to make the left turn I needed to make to get to the Slogway. Why? Because traffic was backed up all the way from Ellsworth and it seemed like only one or two vee-hickles were getting out per traffic light cycle. I bailed out and hung a right and went alllll the way down to Textile and over to Lohr and back up to Ellsworth. The next few traffic lights were kind of okay but then I got to that mess by the Westgate Kroger and traffic was backed up so badly I had to wait something like four lights to make a left turn there. Eventually I got home, schlepped over to @PlumMarket, which had tweeted that they had Copper River salmon (okay, be right there), home for a few chores and am *finally* settling down to the business of deciding which leftovers to heat up for dinner.

My commute is about to get precipitously worse. A new construction sign appeared yesterday afternoon. Alas, it did not say “Velociraptors afoot”. It said “Road construction begins June 3”. Sigh… That road construction is the replacement of the ridiculously busy S. State/Ellsworth intersection with a big traffic circle (among other things). Traffic circles seem to be all the rage around here these days. I don’t have a coherent opinion about them. I *get* that they are supposed to allow traffic to flow more smoothly and eliminate t-bone style accidents. I also think that a lot of people don’t know how to use them (and/or are yapping on their cell phones). I am always extra wary. We’ll see if this one is an improvement. The construction process will definitely be a nightmare. I can work from home but I can’t do that all summer (and don’t want to)!

So now, here I am, watching warily as a stinging insect (hornet? wasp? I dunno) tries to figure out how to get OUT(OUTOUTOUT) of The Landfill via the screen in the Chitchen window. No buddy, that is not gonna work. I don’t want to kill him but I’m not sure how to direct him outside without getting stung, which I really don’t want to deal with tonight (and no, I am NOT allergic so no advice needed on that topic). I have left the side back slider open for him (for now) but with much trepidation because: 1) I do not want any OTHER stinging insects (or moe-skee-toes) in my house and 2) I do not want any SHIRRELS/SIRKERS/SQUIRRELS/SCREEEEECH in my house!

Some people are probably toasting me with ‘hattans at the Green Cabin up in the yooperland. Skoal to you guys too. I miss you. And the Beautiful Green Cabin. I’m going to the yooperland myself in a few days. Right now? I haven’t even left for the yooperland and I’m already feeling that “behind” kind of feeling that I get whenever I get *back* from the yooperland or Houghton Lake or wherever. I neeeeeed an apparation app!

Photo credit to the GG, who found this beautiful egg on the bank at the moominbeach.

In which…

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Update: The Oklahoma death tolls are starting to roll in and I have to say that having a pontoon boat get blown upside down is *nothing* like losing the child you sent to school in the morning… … …

Earlier today we owned a boat. A loverly pontoon boat. One that could drive boatloads of folks to the tiki bar or the corner with the grokkery and liqwire stores or wherever. It’s not all that easy to see the beauteousness of this boat in this webcam photooo but there it is.


*Something* rolled through. Was it “one of those things that spiral and create great devastation” (oh, sigh, as the death tolls from Oklahoma start to roll in…) or just a big old straight-line wind? I’ll guess the latter. But I wasn’t there. And where is the boat?


Oh, there’s the boat!


The good news? No one was there (a neighbor took the last photo) and no one was harmed, including the neighbors, who were no doubt hunkering down during the storm.

Disclaimer: The GG and I do not own this boat alone. We own it jointly with a bunch of his siblings. And of course, despite what happened today, we all still own it…

Flip a switch and it’s summer

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

jiggerI managed to change out the glass insert in our front storm door for a screen today. All. By. Myself. (Full disclosure, it required a couple of text messages to the Great Still-a-wee-bit-white North.) Why did I think this would be so dern hard? It’s really similar to changing out the windows for the screens and vice versa at the moomincabin and I’ve been known to accomplish that task multiple times per day. Different tool required, that’s all. That tool (pliers) is now in one of my Chitchen Drawers. Where I can find it again! The hardest part was getting the *heavy* glass insert down the stairs to its summer home in the Landfill Dungeon without breaking it or dropping it on my foot or something. Somehow I made it. Slow as she goes…

I was a bit apprehensive about being spacified this weekend. When I was a “kid”, being alone with my babies for a weekend could be daunting. The GG was always very interactive with the beach urchins, a guy who, despite working a full time job, probably changed more diapers than I did. He *certainly* provided them with more adventures than I. As the beach urchins grew into schoolchildren and then teenagers, the pendulum swung a bit. I was less apprehensive and more likely to say, “Go play with your brother” (aka The Uncly Uncle / identical twin). Team Estrogen would be just fine alone and there was usually something going on with YAG or school or friends to keep us busy.

The space-time continuum shifted again when the kids left home, the older generation grew frail and started dying and I sold my soul back to a very welcoming corporate America. Those years? I *needed* space. You want to go camping? Go! Come back in a couple months! Sometimes it was meeee who took off. One summer before I went back to work, I swung back and forth between the yooperland and The Planet Ann Arbor 10 days there, 10 days here. All summer. A couple years ago, when The Commander started to need our help for real, we were both working and we had to tag-team a lot. One of us in the yooperland, the other on The Planet Ann Arbor. I began staying out at the moomincabin after Memorial Day that year and, as much as I loved being there, I was lonely (and it was COLD but that’s a whole ‘nother story). I mean I was busy during the day telecommuting to work from the long term care rehab facility and hanging out with The Commander. At the end of the day, I would be back out at our beloved cabin. But missing having the GG around to hang out with, watching the shipping traffic traverse the upper St. Marys, cocktail in hand with the grill going. Since that time, when I have spent weekends alone, I have appreciated the space but there’s this creeping sense of loneliness…

This weekend? Perfection. It turned out I had plenty of spacification. And I needed that because there is soooo much to do around here. Cleaning, flinging, organizing and reorganizing, gardening (what? me?), packing for next weekend. Loneliness? Not. No chance for that, thanks to the beach urchins. Friday afternoon and evening with Mouse. Gardening “with” Mouse every day (i.e., Mouse gardens, KW rakes and weeds and pulls out poison ivy and waters things when asked). And my quick green lizard made the trek over here from megalopolis today for a belated mother’s day dinner. No I did not wear my best lavender pantsuit and we did not eat at a restaurant. We walked over to the Plum Market to buy ingredients for veggie tacos and she cooked them here in the Landfill Chitchen. And made me a loverly “summer cooler” cocktail. I keep a bottle of gin around for just such occasions. We ate in the actually quite loverly back yard gossiping (shh!) and reminiscing and watching mama birds feed their families.

Am I glad I stayed on the planet this weekend? Yes. Although a video on the C Fam facebook page of people at Houghton Lake heading over to the tiki bar in the pontoon boat gave me pause… Did I get a lot done this weekend? Yes. Did I get *everything* done that I wanted to? Of course not. If only I could just tinkle-tinkle-tink my nose like B-Witch used to do, it would all be done.

My beautiful but not fancy neighborhood is now as green as summer and this post was not in any way a “hint” to the beach urchins to come over and entertain their moom every time she spends a weekend alone. As I said in my Mother’s Day post, the greatest gift I could receive from my children is that they are independent adults who do their best to make positive contributions to society. And this post is really not all that “deep”. I’m just navel-gazing again. Isn’t that what blahgs are for?

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

Homegrown terrorists

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

wildbegoniaBlue gloves anyone? Maybe if I get sick of being a systems analyst, I can get a job at the TSA? I wore about five pairs of blue glubs today before I was through. This morning. Continuation of the current round of Landfill Dungeon rodent turd eradication. This is not a recent invasion, these turds are old. Not that they aren’t infected with hantavirus…

The first time I heard about the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome was in 1993. I was sitting at an old desktop computer over at That Darn EPA not feeling particularly well and thinking, “Am I sick? Or not?” I am so rarely sick that I can’t always tell right away. That day, a mysterious virus was on the news. My [beloved] then-boss walked in and said (dramatically, in his lovely Spanish-accented English), “Deed you hear about thees theeng? Eet eez coming from thee west.” Indeed. Well, yes I had. I had been comparing those symptoms to mine. Respiratory? Not. But still. I love you buddy and thank you very much for reminding me that healthy young people in Arizona have died quickly of an unknown disease and I don’t feel all that hot today so hopefully I don’t have it…

And of course I didn’t have that disease, which turned out to be a virus borne by mice. Not that we don’t have mice here (sheesh!) but there are zero Michigan hantavirus deaths. I think that’s *ever*. I ended up taking a couple sick days. I had a garden-variety three-day diarrhea bug (sorry) that half of the Haisley Mafia had already recovered from (“oh, I had that last week, yada yada, hee hee hee)”. To add insult to injury, I realized that I had lice. Yes. I. Had. Lice. Me. The fanatic who washes her hair at least once a day! One of the more inglorious moments of my life as a parent was sitting in the Blue Bathtub with Nix in my hair and, well, let’s just say that the Blue And Only Toilet was maybe two feet away just in case…

Today, I got [most of] the rodent crap cleaned up and cleared the decks to run Rooooomba around down in the Dungeon for a while and then Mouse came over to do some gardening and I took a little walk to the back of the yard and… Yikes! Poison ivy was encroaching upon my back “garden”. It actually grows in the woods behind the Landfill but sneaks through the chainlink fence into our “loverly” [heavy sarcasm] garden. I suppose I could harass the school district to get in there and get rid of it but there really isn’t all that much of it and one of the things I do *not* want to be known as is the cranky old broad in the neighborhood.

Anyway, I won’t even try to describe the condition of the back of our yard but it took some doing to even get *at* the PI back there. For a while, I actually went into the woods and pulled out some PI on *school* property. As well as some other plants and junk vines that were impeding access to the PI IN MY YARD!!! Like, “Hey Mouse, will you throw some clippers over the fence?” I *think* I got all of the PI out. I think. I was working on the junk vines and as I was pulling some of them off a utility pole guy waaaarrrr, I looked up and there was a saggy utility waaaarrr. Was it a lucky-shuckial waaaarrr (yikes!) or a phone waaarrr. And did *I* do that or…

If it’s a lucky-shuckial waaarrrr, it isn’t affecting the Landfill because our power is on. If it is a phone waaarrrr, it *certainly* isn’t affecting the Landfill, since we don’t have a landline any more. At any rate, I decided not to mess with the vines and retreated back into Rodent City aka the Landfill Dungeon.

I don’t usually do poison ivy eradication. I usually whine until the GG does it. I am different this year. I don’t know why (but don’t cross me because I have *very* little patience.). I suited up to do my own damn battle with PI. So far, so good. I have been known to get a teensy tinesy PI lesion by standing next to a specimen plant in a botanical garden. Today there is no evidence of PI anywhere on my skin. Knock on wood!

HMFWIC — of a certain red winged blackbird

Friday, May 17th, 2013

trilliumfieldJust about everyone in the world was off work today. I mean in my cube-farm, of course. My supervisor sent out a humorous “BA status” email the other day that she and my co-worker would be out Friday (today) and *I* would be “in charge”. It’s almost impossible to describe my job or work situation but there is almost *never* a need to leave someone on my team “in charge” of anything. So I replied that I would be happy to be in charge of the red winged blackbird. The one that fights with (and poops on) the Ninja all spring, to the great amusement of my co-workers.

As it turned out, the Long Suffering Cat Herding Person (uber-boss) *did* show up today. He had been out all week at a corporate junket on the mother ship. FZ and a few QA-type people (but I’m not sure who because they all look alike [untranslatable inside joke]) were in this morning but FZ drifted out after lunch and then the LSCHP intercepted me as I was heading back to my cube from wherever and suggested that if I wanted to sneak out early this afternoon, “no one” would notice. In part, this was a genuinely nice gesture but I also suspect he wanted the place to himself.

Boy oh boy, I needed that. To make a long story short, I scampered over to Mouse’s place and we walked to a nearby woods where there are huge fields of trillium. I do not think I have ever seen so many trillium in one place *ever*. I did once abet The Commander The Trillium Bandit on a little trillium digging expotition in the yooperland. Yes, The Commander, a woman who did NOT break laws. But that’s a story for another day. This was a serendipitous day. The unexpected gift of a few badly needed hours of free time and a walk in an unfamiliar woods blanketed with spring wildflowers.

After that, we both headed to the Landfill where Mouse worked in the garden and baked bread and I cleaned up rodent crap in the Dungeon (yes, again, different room) and we both did laundry. The day culminated in a walk over to Zingerman’s Roadhouse for a cocktail and dinner and now I am going to quit while I’m ahead because I’m about ready to fall face first into my laptop. 9 miles today? Yes, that’s about right. Plus some hard labor. Sleep and then back into the Landfill Dungeon tomorrow.

Good night,

Oh great. The moe-skee-toes are out.

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

damReading that tweet from a fellow Ann Arborite this afternoon did nothing to improve my mood. (And no, she didn’t spell “mosquito” like I did. That was how moi baby pronounced it when she was first exploring how to say the word for those pesky little buggers.) My mood? It was okay, it isn’t wasn’t *exactly* a woe-is-me kind of mood. More like an okay-I’ve-parked-at-work-but-I-do-not-wanna-get-outta-the-car kind of mood. Why? Because it was an absolutely GORGEOUS day. I mean, I *did* want to get out of the car, I just wanted to *stay* outside. Walking from the Ninja to my loverly once dog-poopy cube was not enough time outside. It has been a loooonnnnnnng winter and even just a few days ago, I had to suit up in glubs and ski-band, etc. to take my 0-skunk-30 powerwalk. Again. Today? Sigh.

To make matters worse, the long-hard-working and currently sequestered GG (I’ll take that down if you want me to, buddy) headed up to the Great White(?) North this afternoon. I cannot join him until about a week from now. But man-oh-man, did I want to be heading north today. Or anywhere, really. Actually, I’d kind of like to travel somewhere different than northern Michigan for a change. As long as it doesn’t involve the damn TSA, that is… I just want to get in a car and go…

Everybody else at work seemed to be suffering the same sort of ennui that I was but we made it through and despite a snails-pace commute home, I felt more like my usual self once I got there. A special package of dahlia tubers on my front porch helped with that (thanks UKW!) and then I kind of swung into multi-tasking action… Water the front lawn, coil up that annoying 100-foot hose, begin the task of switching out winter bizcaz for summer bizcaz, filling up a big trash bag with donations in the process. Fling-a-ding! Good mood? Yes! I hope I can propel that mood throughout the weekend.

I have not encountered moe-skee-toes yet this year but I’m sure I will soon. Hopefully there won’t be any damn gallynippers. One of the last times I remember The Commander reading my blahg was summer 2011 when we had gallynippers in the area. She called me specifically to ask me what were those gallynipper things? At that time, I was hoping that she would settle in to her beautiful assisted living apartment at Freighter View and read my blahg for a few more years but it was not to be. I am not sad about this. It was what it was…

This weekend? I have a lot of things on my list. As much as I wish I could be up in the north country, I am buzzing with prodjects here at the Landfill and maybe I will actually make minor inroads in getting some of them done.

If you title things in iPhoto, sometimes you can actually FIND them again…

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

pulplogfortI titled this old photooo “pulp log fort” and when I searched for “fort”, there it was, out of 30K photos. There’s something to be said for the old film camera form factor…

Our beach is on the Upper St. Mary’s River, a few miles west of Sault Ste. Siberia. It doesn’t really look much like a river at that point. We have a long, wide sand beach on a bay with a lot of water and you “can’t see the other side”. I remember when I was a 20-something, it seemed like I was constantly explaining the great lakes to people who had never seen them. Noooo, you cannot see the other side. Having seen the Pacific Ocean a few times, I now “get” that Gitchee Gumee is not the same but still…

When I was a kid, there were active pulp mills upstream from our beach and pulp logs would often get loose and float onto the beach. That provided all kinds of entertainment in the form of building materials, including the logs that we used to make this loverly fort. This was a small fort. I remember my older cuzzints (and me, later) building huge log forts that towered over me. Pulp logs were involved in building many structures on the beach, including “totem poles” and loverly cocktail tables.

That’s yer fav-o-rite blahgger there in the front on the blue-striped towel (loooooved that towel and part of it may still exist as a cleaning rag (and maaan did I hate that short short haircut!)). Pooh is on the right front. Jay behind me. Aaaaannnnd… the other blonde. A visitor to be sure. Was her name Jenny? Yes, I think it was. Her parents were great friends with mine and they rented the Yellow Cabin that then belonged to the Stevens but now belongs to Our Northern Correspondent.

Jenny and I were friends but she could be annoying. She was younger than me but was promoted into my grade for being “super-smart” and boy oh boy, did she know it. I know that we mostly had fun playing together but I will never forget the time she insisted that the proper pronunciation of Fort Michilimackinac was Fort Michimilimack. Alas, the parents sided with Jenny when we interrupted their cocktail hour to ask for a ruling. Yeee heee heee ha ha haaaaa Jenny is right! Isn’t she smart? (And cute.) Yeee heee heee, pour me another. KW seethed for quite some time after that and gave her parents HELL later that night. (Er, just so you know, KW googled the spelling of Michilimackinac just now. Just to make sure she had it right… … …) (Errr… Upon reflection… The blonde kid could also have been Becky Springer. But Jenny makes a better story…)

Not to end on a sour note but Michigan school update: Buena Vista schools will be funded through the end of the year and the students will not have to endure hastily thrown-together summer “skills camps”. But Albion Schools voted to close their high school after this year. After 140 years, they will educate only K-8 and bus high school students to Marshall, 10-15 miles away. This does not seem like a good thing to me but I am also wondering if a for-profit charter school might try to step in to pick up the “slack”. This is purely conjecture on my part of course. If you are a Michigan voter, please please please please, at least try to educate yourself about our governor’s policies on education (and other issues). He will likely be running again and I do not want him to win another 4-year term. You can disagree with me if you want but please try to understand the issues. If our current model for funding schools is not working, it needs to be changed — without hurting the CHILDREN! And for-profit charter schools are NOT the answer but I don’t have the chops to write about that tonight.

First they came for the [insert-race/religion/philosophy-here]…

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

gorillaThis morning, things looked bleak for the Buena Vista School district. No plan seemed to be in sight for the schools to re-open, instead, federally funded optional summer “skills camps” were in the works. This sounded awful to me. Who would be the teachers and how much training and experience would they have? What about the curriculum? Would it be delivered over an iPad (or more likely, a bunch of battered old desktops from the Jurassic Age)? Would the kids get any time for art, music, theatre, recess, daydreaming, etc., etc., etc. By the end of the day, it seems possible that the school district *may* be able to re-open to finish the school year after all.

I hope this works out. I remain astounded at the state of public education in this state. Who is to blame? Not in any particular order but… 1) School boards and administrations for not being fiscally responsible (and sometimes downright corrupt). 2) VOTERS (people like you and me) who vote incompetent and/or corrupt school board members into office. 3) Our state government. Yes. Governor Snyder shares the blame. He has raided the school aid fund to provide a tax break for businesses. I am sure that businesses *need* tax breaks but I think raiding the school aid fund was the wrong way to fund those breaks. Many school districts are struggling, including the affluent Planet Ann Arbor Schools. We are not likely to close in the near future but we need to cut 8.67 million for next year (that links to a very competent, honest A2 school board member who I would vote for again in a heartbeat (p.s. she has no idea who I am…)). So, why do I care about Buena Vista? Please see title… The citizens of our state (and others — hello Louisiana) need to push back against efforts to defund education to the point where public schools have to close their doors. We as taxpaying citizens have a responsibility to VOTE for competent, honest representatives at all levels of government, starting with the school board. Those we vote for have a responsibility to ensure that our children have decent public schools to attend.

Enough of that. I have had an intense, lifelong interest in education, my own, my kids’, pre-school through whatever level you get to. If I could have my druthers, I would dictate that we do *not* decimate public education. I would decree that we *enrich* public education, pay our teachers (who are *professionals*) what they deserve. I would make sure that children receive rigorous education in the basics aka reading, writing (!), math, science, social studies and the arts. Yes, to me *art* is basic. Also, physical education and team sports are important but I would argue for more recess time where kids can explore and play whatever impromptu games they dream up.

Summer? Kids should *not* have to be subjected to drill and kill during the summer. I am not categorically against drill and kill. I actually *loved* drill and kill when I was a kid. Don’t ask (I am a nerd…) but I do think it has its place. Still, I wish that every kid had the childhood that I had. Every year, the day after school got out in June, we moved out to our cabin, seven miles or so up the river. I packed my stuff in a bushel basket. My dad could drive to town to his bank job every day and we could run pretty much wild. The caveats were that we did not go swimming without getting an adult to watch us (which we almost always could, even though they might have to put a winter jacket on to watch us) and we did not THROW SAND!!! Every single blasted kid who grew up spending summers on that beach has been told DON’T THROW SAND!

I wish that all kids could have the kind of summer opportunities that I had (and make no mistake, we were NOT ANYWHERE NEAR the 1%. In those days, we were probably somewhere down in the lower reaches of the god-forsaken, unwashed 47%). Still, I never had any trouble recovering academic skills when school started in the fall. In fact, I was annoyed that we always had to review stuff from the last year. Partly that was just meeee but partly it was because my brother and my cousins and I had a whole summer to run free, swim, play, do acrobatics, read library books (on windy days in the top bunk), create castles or even whole cities in the sand, dig to China, *bury* each other in the sand, go on field trips with our moms laughing uproariously in the front seat. I know that most kids don’t get these kinds of opportunities in the summer but I don’t think that any “skills camp” could ever replace them.

Mold and rabbits and things

Monday, May 13th, 2013

blossomsOne thing that I did not do yesterday (Mother’s Day yada yada) was “plant” a bunch of impatiens. One of the few things my black thumb manages to succeed at is to throw a whole ton of impatiens into a big pot. If I remember to water them occasionally (when I’m home), they seem to thrive throughout the summer and I usually end up throwing them in the compost in late September. I got this idea from The Commander although her thumb was a lot greener than mine is.

For the last few years, the GG’s mother’s day gift to me has involved buying a bunch of impatiens for me to put in pots and setting up a wheelbarrow full of soil from our compost and whatever. Last year I potted my impatiens on Mother’s Day. They were beautiful. I probably took photos. So much fun. Alas. Within a couple of weeks they seemed to be dying. What was happening? We thought that Henry the rabbit was eating them. Why had he never eaten our flowers before? I couldn’t figure that out.

This spring, the GG went over to one of our fave plant places. Where were the impatiens? Nowhere. He asked. Guess what? A *mold* has infected impatiens plants, at least in this area. There are a few plants available but people are reluctant to sell them. “Buy them at your own risk!”, proclaimed the not-very-friendly gal we talked to.

I have to guess that the impatiens we bought last year died because of the mold cause we did not use mold removal, not because Henry ate them!

I did not buy any impatiens this year. I have not purchased any annuals this year. Mouse has a vegetable garden going, the GG planted some sunflower seeds yesterday, and I am looking forward to a certain package to arrive this week. Me? I am still hand-raking the yard five minutes at a time, trying to work myself into the zen of gardening, possibly under the steerage of someone over on the other side.

Goooood night,

Every day is Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

bathouseWhat did I *not* do today? I did not get my hair done and put on my best pastel outfit and sit through an interminable Mother’s Day brunch at some restaurant somewhere. If you did a version of that (perhaps in basic black with turquoise-streaked hair or maybe a tie-dyed t-shirt), either to honor your mom or as the guest of honor, I hope you had a wonderful time. That’s not snark. I mean that! A few years ago, I happened to be in Sault Ste. Siberia on Mother’s Day and we (me, the GG, The Grinch, and Froggy) took Radical Betty and The Commander to the Hotel Ojibway for brunch (NpJane, you were there on a different, equally cool occasion). It was wondrous. The food was fantastic with a beautiful buffet including a chef who would cook an omelet to order on the spot. The seats are always comfortable and the view of the Soo Locks cannot be beat. (I think RB was happier about Froggy’s presence than The Comm…)

I don’t really know how to explain this. I don’t really miss my mother. I miss the life and times I experienced with her. Well, most of them. The Book Cadillac jeans argument (yesterday) is probably not one of them [grin]. I don’t miss the struggles we both went through the last ten months of her otherwise long happy life. The 10 months when her health slid downhill and she was *forced* to accept help from me and many others were not fun. I believe that her death was a relief for both of us and I have had only a few of those moments that the bereaved often report that they wished they could call their mom or whoever.

All that said, as I think I have said before in this space, I seem to be *channeling* The Commander! I think of her as I continue hand-raking old dead oak leaves and clipping off dead branches on our ugly hedges and commanding “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, do you have a saw” to cut off some particularly thick branches. Oh, not to mention buying just the right garden tools. For me. Like small rakes and two of those fancy pocket hoses that people who watch TV see on TV. A woman at Stadium Hardware was all excited that they had been “upvoted” on some show on TV. Maybe I should watch more TV… Oh yeah… I made cookies today. I. Made. Cookies. Today. Just regular chocolate chip. The Comm *always* made cookies. Me? I know how. But not so much. Gertrude worked double time to get them baked with her two ovens. Love to Gertrude. The Comm would’ve loved her too — one of the few times I have wanted to call my mom was when I bought Gertrude!

I am certainly not upset that my children were not with me today. They both know what I think about this Hallmark-type holiday (I know that it didn’t really begin as a greeting card holiday). I love my children from here to eternity but I am happy that they have their own lives. I have spent many a Mother’s Day (and other more significant holidays) away from my beach urchins and I am accustomed to that (and so was my mother). One of the best Mother’s Day gifts I could ever receive is the knowledge that those children are off living their own successful lives and not feeling obligated to thank me for giving birth to them.