Archive for June, 2013

And so…

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

boattraficI saw these two freighters pass this afternoon. I mean I was sitting on the beach watching them. I didn’t use binoculars to check out their names. I didn’t really need binoculars. I used the Marine Traffic app on my iPhone to figure out what was what.

This app kind of ushers in a whole new world of boat watching on the upper St. Mary’s River. My earliest memories include walking the beach in the evening with my parents and grandparents aunts uncles and cuzzints, watching all kinds of freighters go up and down.

Back in the day, when the beach urchins were young, grandroobly kept track of the shipping traffic via a scanner. We would be hanging out down on the beach and he would come down and tell us what boat was coming down. Since it was probably still above Ile Parisienne, we probably couldn’t even see it yet but still.

It’s been a long day here today. Mouse and NpJane both plunged down into Troll-land. Man oh man, we miss them here. I know that Mouse made the journey safely because she posted a photo of herself and her tomato plants. They are almost as tall as their owner.

Good night. I am supposed to telecommute tomorow. We’ll see if I actually do that…

I am in full tilt boogie washer woman mode here, so no pics please!

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

oldcabinmouseI started washing floors today. After a laundry / grokkery / hardware store trip to town, that is. It’s been too long. I am pretty sure the GG was the last person to thoroughly wash the downstairs floor here but neither of us seem to remember when that was. Hopefully it was spring 2012 but I don’t really remember much about spring 2012 so who knows. I know that we didn’t wash the floors when we were closing up last fall because it was too frickin’ cold and wet to be able to dry them. Same thing a month ago, Memorial Day weekend.

Today I got sick of my bare feet kind of crunching along on sand and dust and a few little pine needles and who knows what else. Dead moe-skee-toes, maybe? Probably. I vacuumed the big chunks off of the rug in the chitchen and then I shook the heck outta the rug and hung it over the pee rail on the back deck (oh, don’t getcher undies in a bunch, nobody pees *on* the dern rail). I swept and vacuumed and swept and vacuumed and I wasn’t really thinking about actually *washing* the floor today but then I sorta couldn’t stop but I didn’t have any “floor cleaner” on hand (whatever that really means) so I faaaarrred up the Ninja and headed up to the “park store” to get some spic and span and After Bite and quart-size ziplock bags and spray olive oil and I fergit what else. The Beautiful Gay would be proud of me for getting down on my hands and knees to clean the floor.

With luck I’ll get more floor washing done this week. If not, maybe later this summer (or maybe somebody else will catch the floor-washing bug). In any case, it feels just a wee bit cleaner in the moomincabin tonight but there’s more floor to be cleaned and all of it could probably stand to be cleaned a couple more times..

We had some beach time too. NpJane and Mouse were here today and they both have to leave tomorrow and of course I had to sit on the beach with them. And the RegenAxes, who arrived shortly after NpJane. Good times.

I don’t have a photooo of the beach today but I do have one of the faaarplace in the Old Cabin. Mouse’s hair is wet because she had just taken a shower. When I was a beach urchin, my hair would’ve been wet because we would’ve been standing in front of that faaaar warming up after a swim in the big lake they call gitchee gumee. No showers in those days.

I spent summers in this beautiful old log cabin until I was six, when we built our own small cabin. I won’t talk about all of my memories about the Old Cabin tonight. We were honored to be invited for a wonderful spaghetti dinner there tonight. Thank you to Mark & Pooh & NpJane and good night.

things that spiral and create great devastation

Friday, June 28th, 2013

glampingHere we are glamping (google it) in the back yard of the moomincabin. This is right where the Sherman clan used to park their VW Bus and pop-up camper back in the day. And use our outhouse… Yeah, nothing like running out to our [doorless] outhouse and finding the Sherman dad in there… Uh, excuse me, Mr. Sherman. Or more likely I tore outta there like a bat outta hell without saying a word.

My drive up wasn’t the worst ever but it had its moments. For one thing, I couldn’t leave right when I wanted to because a[nother] loverly severe storm chose my planned departure time to descend upon The Planet Ann Arbor. So, I waited. And watched the weather. Everywhere. It was one of those days when “they” say scattered showers and thunderstorms and you are nonchalantly driving along on the I75 SUV Speedway or wherever and all of a sudden there’s a damn tornado staring you in the face.

And that’s sort of what happened today. I left when the Planet Ann Arbor storm seemed to be heading off to the east. I kept my radio tuned to NPR while driving north and kept my eye on the clouds. Rainstorms north of Flint but nothing serious. Rainstorms north of Saginaw but nothing serious. Until I glanced to the left (west) and saw this loverly vision. Say what? I had just looked at the weather radar on my phone and there were little popup-type storms everywhere along the corridor but none of them looked organized enough to produce a funnel cloud. But there it was. I stayed pretty calm. It didn’t come anywhere near to touching the ground and didn’t seem to be spinning. Was it really a cyclonic cloud? Shortly after I saw this, the freeway jogged west and then north and I was a bit nervous during the westward stretch but going north looked clear.

I won’t bore you with the whole trip. There was some text fumbling that resulted in me galumphing around in the crowded St. Ignace Glen’s for booze and being accidentally bumped in the ribs by Jimmy Olsen, cub reporter’s 12-pack of toilet paper. “Was I in town for the car show?” he asked. “Nope, I’m doing a booze run on the way up to the Big Lake.” I went to that car show once a billion years ago with Grandroobly. Jimmy Olsen was babbling about how he got in free because he worked for the newspaper. Um, there are still newspapers? He was a good kid and we wished each other well. I’m guessing I wasn’t quite the type of person he wanted to interview about the car show. Plus, he was buying toilet paper…

A few more rainstorms through the yooperland, then a bit of chilling, dinner at the Cozy, and now we are blahgging / surfing / swatting moe-skee-toes here in the as-yet-unnamed new trailer. Some names have been bandied about but no decisions have been made.

Good night,

The Landfill Dungeon is dry! Thank you Terra Firma!

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

You’ve heard of a coffee break? We took a twitter break at my work this afternoon! We had a loverly little rainstorm this afternoon. In the midst of that, I stuck my nose into twitter to check out what was going on around town and wow, what a mess. Photos and videos galore of torrential rain and flooded streets. Stalled vee-hickles and nutty drivers. Fun times. Actually I was glad I was at work.

As luck would have it (good luck for once), I had a pretty dry commute. When I got home? The dungeon was dry! Bone dry! I think this was the acid test for Terra Firma’s work on our wall last fall. Good job, folks.

I was not tuned in to the fact that today is the 8th anniversary of my brother’s death until I saw photos of him on Facebook. Those were pleasant surprises. I really don’t want to talk much about his death or the day he died. I will say that the day *before* that somewhat unexpected event, I was in a big argument with the UU about garbage, of all things. The UU may not even remember this (I hope he doesn’t) but I was kind of angry at the time. Looking back, if I had known what was going to happen the next day, who hauled what garbage home from Houghton Lake would have been the last thing I’d have argued with anyone about. Life is too short for that shit. Sorry about that Bob.

My brother died before Facebook and seeing his photo on there is always kind of a surprise, albeit pleasant, as I said. The Engineer could certainly do email and surf the web, etc. but he died before we got into the connected world we have today, with iPhone and facebook and texting yada yada. I think it was the fall before he died that bigbandboy pinged me via instant messenger one Sunday afternoon. I forget what we talked about but it was so much fun. The last email exchange I had with him — literally days before he died — we were talking about upgrading the parents’ computer. He didn’t reply to my last message about that…

Today, seeing photos of him playing the trombone and “driving” the Ryerson and being happy made me feel like I had to mark this anniversary somehow. I wonder what bigbandboy would’ve done with social media. What profile pics would he have used and who-all would he have connected with. The Lintula brothers for sure. Parker? Boat Nerd and any of the Great Lakes freighter boys who are now on-line. He’d’ve loved those guys. And many many many others. Much more social than yer fav-o-rite blahgger…

Love you bro. Hope you’re keeping the ‘rents in line. The Commander needs a little more supervision than Grandroobly. She can be a piece o’ work… [wink]


Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

dropletsOh, nothing really bad at all. Just I’m trying to work and take care of little bits of bizness and get ready to head to the Great Not-So-White North for a week. Oh, don’t be too envious. I will get a wee bit of vacay but I will also be telecommuting part of the week (not to mention de-Dillon-izing the garage…). The Queen Spider Bee (hee hee hee) has decreed that telecommuting will be A-okay. I hope my VPN account is still active. The last time I telecommuted was back in March when I had The Crud. If it’s not active, I guess I’ll be I/M-ing with tech support Monday morning. Good times.

Why oh why oh why (oh why oh why (oh why oh why)) did I not put gasoline into the Ninja on Sunday. No, I did not run outta gas today, I had four little squares left. I just like to get gasonline on the weekend — preferably early in the morning when nobody else is oot and aboot. I didn’t do that last weekend. I had about 10 squares then but I drove over to megalopolis and back and even though I was down at something like 7 squares by then, I did not get gas. Finally, today, I went out of my way [sort of] to get gas on the way home after work.

I fumbled a bit, opening the trunk instead of the gas thingy but I eventually got it all going and I was in the zen of pumping gas when I was surprised by a person asking me a question. What question? Was there something wrong with my credit card? What? Oh no, it was, “Do you wash your car regularly?” Well, duh. Can you not see the damn redwing blackbird *poop*? What? Everyone else in the universe can! Turned out there was some speshul promotion going on there today and he had a spray can of some kind of spray “wax” that would, well, I dunno what it would do, but I am reasonably certain that it *wouldn’t* keep my redwing blackbird buddy from pooping on my vee-hickle. I’m sure that this nice young man is just trying to make a living but…

P.S. to people who have to approach “customers” to sell them “stuff”, sneaking up on a customer and then saying, “I didn’t mean to scare you” is NOT a good start! When I am pumping gas, I am pumping gas and I do *not* want to talk to anyone.

Eventually, I got home and *then* I walked over to the Plum. And was given an award! Speediest checkout of the day! I got in to a very short line and dumped my 10 (or whatever) items on the counter. The folks ahead of me used an expired credit card. Yikes… This is gonna be a mess. It wasn’t. They found another (and were very embarrassed). Whew! I hate when I’m behind people who buy grokkeries they aren’t prepared to pay for! Makes me nuts. And here on The Planet (especially at the Plum Market), it is rare that it’s someone who can’t *afford* their grokkeries. If I ever find myself behind someone who truly cannot afford to pay for their grokkeries, I think I *might* pay for them… Oh, don’t worry, you guys (aka the GG) I have never encountered that situation.

Anyway, I shoved everything into my backpack as fast as my young cashier checked it through and, at the end, I received his award. I did that kind of work once back in the Jurassic Age. I loved that job except when I had difficult customers. Cashiers don’t get paid anywhere near what they deserve to be paid and I always appreciate a cashier who is efficient and knows all of the speshul codes by heart (like I did back in the day) and can get people through their line quick as a wink. I try my best not to be a difficult customer. This guy was a good cashier and he seemed to seemed to appreciate me as a customer. I bet he had a hard day.

KW, there is bird poop on your vee-hickle. Yes, I know…

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

froggyThis morning was just about perfect. Woke up and checked the weather on my phone. Storms were far enough to the west that I figured I’d at least get half of my 0-skunk-30 walk in before they arrived at The Planet. I will walk in rain. I will not walk in lightning. I played it safe, looping around the nearer reaches of my neighborhood, running my pedometer app and occasionally checking in with my lightning locator app. I figured if the storm got too close, I could nip home in no time.

And guess what? Just as I left the woods, which is the last thing on my route, dun dun dun, THUNDER! I was a half-block from home and I had done my whole three miles. And then! A beautiful rumbly-thunder kind of storm rolled through, dumping enough rain that I didn’t have to go out and water today! Yay! Not that I don’t enjoy watering the gardens (yes, we have *gardens* this year (knock on wood!)) but I think that rain is better than some baggy old kayak woman with a hose and watering can and I bet the plants do too. Like, “Oh dear, here she comes again! Duck quick!

I don’t have much else to say about today. Mouse sent me the frog photo this morning. I love my job and I don’t want to retire any time soon but I am envious of those who are hanging about the fringes of Zlske Superior without me. Is another storm bearing down on The Planet? Or is it just dark because it’s getting to be that time of night.

It’s raining again! And there’s rumbly thunder. I don’t think I’ll have to water tomorrow. Love love love love.

Reverse flinging

Monday, June 24th, 2013

mightysooIt’s odd how de-hoarding activities can sometimes lead to acquisitional activities. I spend a lot of time flinging but sometimes I encounter something that makes me stop in mid-fling and start tooling around on eBay or wherever. Bakelite utensils with red handles anyone? How ’bout vintage Sunset magazine cookbooks? The Golden Book encyclopedia set that we bought at the Red Owl one-book-a-week when I was a kid? Hey, I *read* that encyclopedia! Daguerreotype? Something about printing? Yes, I used to read encyclopedias and I got well past the Ds… Yes, this reverse flinging thing is dangereuse. KW the spendthrift in full-tilt boogie action!

So, a while back, I was doing a little light flinging and thinking about a launching a little prodject and I don’t exactly know how it happened but The Mighty Soo popped into my head straight out of the blue. I read The Mighty Soo when I was about nine or 10. I had been an independent reader for a few years by then but I clearly remember mis-pronouncing (in my head) colonel (like it looks) and Chicago like “Chick-a-go” with an accent on the “Chick”. I’m not sure what the heck I did with Etienne Brulé. (BTW, maybe some day we can get My Dear Uncle Harry to tell his *hilarious* story about mispronouncing words while reading when he was a kid. I cannot repeat it. I would mangle it. Let’s just say it involves the word “bastard”.) Anyway, I thought something like, “Hmmm, I *think* that would be an appropriate book to have in the moomincabin library but I don’t *think* I ever *owned* the book. I *think* it was a library book. Of course, I went out and ordered it on eBay and this gorgeous book came in the mail today, very carefully wrapped up.

I never thought of the moomincabin as having an actual library. We are all readers but when I was a kid we had very little space, not to mention money. We did make regular trips to the library and I spent many a cold, windy afternoon hanging out on the top bunk reading. Or maybe the bottom bunk. The Engineer and I traded off fairly regularly. I don’t even remember arguing about that very much. The Comm and The Engineer might remember it differently — us kids certainly argued about a lot of stuff! What *I* remember is that the top and bottom bunks each had their own charms and advantages and just about the time one of us would be tired of the top bunk, the other would be tired of the bottom bunk and we’d switch.

Nowadays? Hmmm… We kind of have a library. There are a bunch of vintage novels that belonged to Grandberry (and maybe other relatives too). Horatio Hornblower and stuff. A sizeable collection of cookbooks, including a bunch from Grandma’s Other House, The Real House, Where She Lives Some of the Days. Nature books, some paperback novels (on a crappy, rickety set of shelves) and I fergit what else. Oh, Cully Gage’s yooper humor books. I was kind of over those after book 1 but The Engineer loved them and I bet we probably own all of them and I still remember my brother giggling as he read the first book. I’m guessing he probably got over them too but I choose to remember his laughter. Now we will have Color Me Beautiful and The Mighty Soo. And if we already do have The Mighty Soo (the GG seems to think so but I’m pretty sure we don’t), we will have two copies. As the GG (an identical twin) likes to say, “More is better”. I think that’s true, at least in this case.

Of course, being meeeee, every time I think about The Mighty Soo, that old Mighty Quinn song comes to mind. So sorry that the link has a [frickin’] ad. What has happened to YouTube? Oh, don’t tell me…

Hey, the band Manfred Mann is still alive and kicking! You know you want to click!

While you were at the zlske…

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

cat1…I was here at the Landfill playing with this cute little kitty. Not really. I spent the whole day over in Megalopolis and this character was here to greet me when I returned. He/she/whatever does have a collar.

It took quite some doing to *get* to Megalopolis today because I696 was CLOSED between I275 and Telegraph Road. I did not have a clue. I was on I275 and there were signs indicating some kind of a detour but I could not for the life of me decipher them so I bailed out off the dern freeway and spent quite some time navigating around between the GPS and google maps on my phone. The GPS (of course) kept telling me to go back to the FREEWAY. FREEWAY CLOSED! HELLO!!! Google maps at least gave me a bit more perspective about where I *was* but I had to get *off* the road and *park* to look at it! Alas, I can drive a damn stick shift with aplomb but I am not coordinated enough to drive a stick shift and simultaneously use a TELEPHONE or do anything more than the absolute basic stuff on a GPS. At one point I was actually on 10 Mile Road. “That’s great!”, I thought, “I’ll just go east until I get to Telegraph.” Not. Somehow 10 Mile morphed into Grand River without my knowledge and I have a VERY foggy memory of Grand River being near Grandaddy and Bolette’s old house in DayTwa. I knew I was heading in the wrong direction… I eventually got down to the D today but my immediate goal was Ferndale. And I eventually got there…

cat2What was I doing over in Megalopolis today? Well, I was putting my bubble-wrapping skills to work big-time, that’s what. We went out to obtain some banker’s boxes and bubble-wrap. I grabbed one roll of bubble-wrap, then I made a snap decision to grab another. How many boxes do you need? Oh, three or four. The Office Max guy said, “they’re cheaper if you buy a 10-pack.” KW the spendthrift wouldda paid the larger price for fewer boxes but we ended up getting the 10 pack.

Guess what? We used *all* of the bubble-wrap. We used all but *two* of the boxes. I had forgotten how many dishes The Commander had in her Dillon house set of china. I should know. I bubble-wrapped them all last summer so we could schlep them down to Ferndale. I am foggy about that period of time though. I bubble-wrapped a lot of other stuff too. I kept running out of bubble-wrap. And BOXES!!! What a scramble. Today we were at Office Max and somehow, the reptilian part of my brain remembered all of that if my cerebrum did not. Oh, and then there was the toilet paper adventure. We traversed an entire Tarjay store today looking for TP and couldn’t find it *until* I saw a family heading toward us with a cart full of TP. THAT WAY!!! p.s. I think TP should be right by the front door!

Anyway, we did some packing and we went out to lunch (pizza with figs and gorgonzola? yes! and I’m not even sure the waitress charged me for my second glass of house red) and moved some things. It was hot and sticky today and the “kid” has another week or whatever to finish moving and she has some comrades to help her with the big stuff. She doesn’t want her moldy old parents to be bothered with the big stuff and that’s really okay with me, although we are really not “too old” [grin]. I was glad to be included in this move and I think I was actually useful without being intrusive and I loved seeing her new place.

Nothing to see here, just a[nother] mid-life crisis

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

scampThe last one occurred back in 1992. The GG just haaaaaaddd to have a Jeep Wrangler. I was less enthusiastic. Money wasn’t exactly growing on trees in those days. Oh, not that it does now either but somehow we are *fortunate* to have good, decently-paying jobs and no dependents or debt. Getting there has not been easy and we aren’t done with life yet but nowadays, if he wanted to buy a damn jeep, I’d prob’ly say something like, “Call me when you pick up the cashier’s check.” But not so much in those days. He wore me down back then, babbling endlessly about a fictional mid-life crisis and once nearly tipping the Exxon Tanker Valdez over on a crappy, puddly back-woods two-track *not* designed for a minivan (but a jeeeeep could’ve handled it (roight, the jeep prob’ly *would* have tipped over…)). I eventually caved in.

I remember the day we picked The Indefatigable up. It was raining cats and dogs and we had to drive all the way over to Southfield or someplace to get it and Mouse had an ear infection. Fun times. Of course I got over my reluctance pretty darn quick because it was a *fun* vee-hickle! Even when we jammed all four of us into it for a trip to the Great White North. It taught the beach urchins and their cuzzints (of all degrees) how to drive “stick” (in most cases, long before they were of legal age to obtain a learner’s permit). And I’ll never forget the first time I dropped my Mousey off at nursery school in The Indefatigable. Her teacher Annie was on curbside duty that morning and when she remarked on our new vee-hickle, I said, “It isn’t a vee-hickle, it is a mid-life crisis!”

That mid-life crisis lasted 17 years and it took a few years after that to conjure up another one. And, in all fairness, he didn’t actually use that as a bargaining chip this time around but take a look at the old boy’s Xmas / Birthday / Father’s Day / [31st] Anniversary present to himself! I figure if I hadn’t said something like, “Just lemme know when you pick up the cashier’s check (but don’t pick it up before I pay Terra Firma…),” it may have become a second mid-life crisis [winkity-wink].

This whole boondoggle required a Frog Hopper trip to Minnesota and this new home-away-from-home is now experiencing its shakedown cruise and this is the only pic I’ve received so far. I wonder if it has a name yet. Little Princess II? Uncle Fester’s Lair? Oh, I bet he can do better than that…

Translating BAI codes in my head…

Friday, June 21st, 2013

grandma-margaretIt’s amazing that I got home today without killing another living being. I mean, the drive home was pretty okay today and there were no near misses with other vee-hickles and I didn’t even feel road rage toward another driver. It was the pedestrians in my own business park… I was *not* going very fast (speed limit 25, that’s 4th gear in my Ninja) but I had to SLAM ON THE BRAKES because Mr. and Mrs. GOOSE decided to shepherd their tweens across the road right smack in front of me. I waited for them to pass and snaked around to the right before the NEXT family in the flock could get to the street. Whew! And then! What is that? It looked like a fat squirrel. Oh yeah. Baby groundhog. I didn’t hit any aminals today. I have hit one or two in my life, both a loooong time ago and I still feel awful. Somebody else managed to hit and kill a skunk out on S. State Street. Thank you for that…

One of the prodjects I’m doing at work right now is a tool to compare two data files that are supposed to have the same fields and values and point out differences in them. This is the second of these tools that I have designed and I like this kind of work. I have been designing data files since I was eight years old. At that age, my data files were written in pen on lined notebook paper. Column 1: quantity. Column 2: item. Example: 5 bobby pins. Yes, I am a nerd. Bear with me…

I didn’t design the data files I’m dealing with at work but for reasons you don’t care about or even want to know, I am getting to be the go-to gal for designing file compare tools. And yes, these tools are better designed in-house, at least in my business…

One of the first things we have to check for when comparing two files is whether each file is a real [insert-file-type-here]? If it is not, we abandon the file compare process and spit out a nasty error message. Our way of explaining this to everyone else is to say something like, “If one of the files is a picture of your grandmother, the tool will abandon the comparison and spit out an ugly error message.”

This is a pic of my grandmother. I think she is beautiful. I think I will include this photo in my spec (my supervisor is encouraging this). A picture of Froggy would also work in this context but I know that everyone I work with will ooh and aah about this beautiful grandmother woman. I remember once when I was projecting in a meeting and we were waiting for I dunno what and Mouse had sent me a bunch of beautiful photos of my aunt Radical Betty (my Grandma’s daughter) so I projected those while we were waiting. Everyone in the room oohed and aahed about my beautiful aunt.

I think they will do the same when they see my grandmother.

Destressification and spacification…

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

multibikeI hate departures. Or maybe it’s just the long goodbyes that can accompany departures that I hate. It doesn’t matter who’s leaving, me or someone else. I just suddenly get the gotta-gits and I *have* to be outta there, or whoever is leaving needs to leave (already). No “just one more cuppa” or returning to get that one forgotten thing (unless it’s a phone power cord) or one last bathroom trip — well okay, a bathroom trip is certainly reasonable. Still, those who are on a journey need to get going and those who are left behind need to settle back in to life as usual.

Once upon a time we were leaving Florida. We had been at my in-law’s house for a week or thereabouts. I loved my in-laws and we had had a fantastic time in Florida but it was time to go back north and we were ready. The beach urchins were strapped in to the Exxon Tanker Valdez and I was nursing a loverly swimmer’s ear infection. My ears are (or once were) prone to produce a lot of wax, which trapped water, and I think the salt that was blowing around everywhere that year exacerbated that situation. Anyway, we were ready to launch. Beam me back up to the Great White North, please!

We were in the driveway saying goodbye to our kids’ grandparents and someone made the mistake of saying something about getting breakfast on the way outta town. Now, our plan was to grab a drive-thru breakfast at a Hardee’s. Hardee’s? I do not know what we were thinking, except that we were thinking fast food and coffee. The Grandparents began rattling off all of their fav-o-rite restaurants for breakfast. They were really trying to be helpful and I’m sure those places were all wonderful but they all required going in and sitting down and w-a-i-t-i-n-g for food. We wanted to be in Georgia in, well I dunno when, but an hour earlier than stopping to eat a sit-down breakfast would have gotten us into Georgia. (Not to mention that it was a crap shoot as to whether or not one or both of the beach urchins would eat *anything* they were served at a restaurant (or home or anywhere) — do you have air on your menu? I might eat that.)

In the end, Hardee’s was a *terrible* choice and I have never been back to one. The woman running the drive-thru was reeeeeeallly reeeeallly nice (I am not being sarcastic) but I choked down about half of my breakfast “sandwich” and threw the rest of it into the trash. I’m sure the coffee was tolerable but I think a ziplock bag of my all time fave utility breakfast Froog food Cheerios would’ve served us just as well in terms of sustenance that morning.

3:00! Time to go fishing!

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

babylizbuttsLong Suffering Cat Herding Person: How are you ladies?

Kayak Woman: Just ducky!

LSCHP: Ducky?

KW: Yeah, ducky! How ’bout you? Are you ducky today or are you, hmmmm, possumy or something? [Possumy? What made me think of possums? The LSCHP is *not* reminiscent of an opossum!]

LSCHP: Actually, I think I’m herony today.

Okay, be a heron. I was cool with that. He’d make a good heron. You never quite know what you’re gonna get at my workplace. I’m sure yours is similar in its own unique sort of way. I am actually regarded as kind of a free spirit, a little bit crazy but in a positive way. I’m pretty sure that my family has long viewed me that way too with emphasis on “crazy” and not a particularly positive spin on the whole thing. Me? I have a rather different view than either faction. I won’t go into it. You don’t want to read 100 pages of navel-gazing. Somehow it works for me to play along with the whole “free spirit” thing at work. So, when 3:00 PM rolled around and the LSCHP emerged from his cave and announced that he was nodding off, I suggested maybe it was time to take a fishing break. (Get it? Heron? Fishing? Gnoff gnoff snort.)

3:00. Once upon a time, there would be four beach urchins up at the moomincabin. Four small blonde female beach urchins. Their grandmother would often let them help cook, navigating the tiny chitchen with four beach urchins on [four] stools two on either side of her. She would teach them how to cut up fruit and vegetables with a sharp knife and other important life skills. All the while, The Commander would be watching My Dear Uncle Harry serve his beautiful wife Bubs (my aunt) and their children, etc., fancy little lunches on the Old Cabin back deck. Good times.

Four beach urchins. “I’m hungry.” “I want a juice box.” “Not that juice box [after I opened one].” “I don’t want the *blue* bottle, I want the *pink* bottle — waaaaaah!” “My brain just stopped on salami.” “That’s a shitty old bottle.” Yada yada yada. When you have a whole bunch of little kids in a small space, you need to set up a few rules. Otherwise you end up spending your entire day preparing food and doing dishes.

And so The Commander instituted the 3:00 Snack Rule! The idea was that after the lunch dishes were cleaned up, the adults could take a break from the chitchen if they wanted to. It actually worked pretty well. Babies and very small children [and grandaddy] were exempt of course. But school-age children? They could certainly wait and they did. And then they got to be old enough to get their own snacks and we moved on.

I am all for children being able to make their own choices and drive their own environment. Up to a point. Parents are important people too though. One of my most important jobs as a moominbeach mom was lifeguard. I spent a lot of time down on the moominbeach counting the number of heads swimming out there in Gitchee Gumee. It was a life-and-death job that I took seriously and I didn’t lose anyone. So glad I could get a break from the chitchen to hang out on the beach.

I’ve come to retuuuuuuuuurrrn… the broiler paaaaaan!

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

colorSorting through The Commander’s stuff… The latest load was kind of a mixed bag but it included a box or thereabouts of books. I have to be careful about getting rid of books because various people — including but not limited to the guy I live with — seem to quite easily get their undies all up in a bunch at the very idea of me actually getting rid of a book.

I have gotten rid of a *lot* of books in the last few years. Oh, don’t worry you guys — I’m talking about books that I-ee-I-ee-I own, okay? Like. I collected quilt books for quite a while. All of a sudden, I just got *sick* of them. I will probably quilt again someday (hey, I have *fabric*!) but I am on hiatus for now. If I reeeeeeally want one of those books again, I bet I can buy it somewhere. The internet is a wonderful thing, don’tcha know. For now, somebody else can enjoy those books, as I once did. Those books went to the Planet Ann Arbor AAUW’s annual book sale. The AAUW is an organization The Comm belonged to (in Siberia) and avidly supported.

Novels and things? I am a digital kind of gal. I know that there are lots of folks who don’t want to give up regular books. That’s okay! For me, if it’s a novel that I am gonna read *once*, I may as well just download it. I can read it on my phone, anywhere, any time and I don’t have to lug a book around. And if I actually *finish* the dern book, I can just download another one. I’m thinking here of the time that we were up at the moominbeach and The Comm finished a book at 8:00 PM one night and was crabbing (oh yes, she was crabbing [grin]) that she didn’t have another book to start in on. I didn’t have one for her but I did have an iPhone and just for grins I downloaded the Green Eggs and Ham app (yes, Dr. Seuss). I handed her my phone and that kept her occupied for maybe a half hour. And it apparently tuckered her out but that was good because I think she went to bed shortly after that.

The latest load of books was a mixed bag of fiber arts type books. I saved a few (native American designs and such) to take back to the moominbeach but most of them (in this load) were not all that interesting. “Old” *can* be interesting but it isn’t always.

There was this one book. “Color Me Beautiful”. Oh, we had fun with that book back in the day. A girlie kind of book that guided you through a process of deciding what colors look good on you. What color “season” are you? I’m winter. I think. I sure as heck wear a lot of black! When I first encountered the book in that bag of stuff, I perfunctorily threw it into the “donate” pile. I’m sure I threw out *my* copy many years ago. But then, a little while later, as I was putting the donate pile into a bag to actually donate, I eyeballed that book again. Guess what? It is now in a bag of stuff (including books, yes really) that will travel back to the moominbeach. Who knows? Maybe some of the beach urchins will get a kick out of “discovering their colors” some boring rainy moe-skee-toe-ey day.

I have to shout out to my blahg buddy Agate Gal, who also (coincidentally) blogged about this color system recently.

If you have ever done this color-me-beautiful thing, what color are you?

So, whaddya wanna talk about?

Monday, June 17th, 2013

skyscraperIt’s the end of the day and I’m hanging out here in the Landfill Chitchen trying to think of something / anything to blather about. List of stuff on my refrigerator door maybe? My mind is almost completely blank.

When I got over to my fav-o-rite cube farm this morning, none other than Louie-Louiiii was waiting for me in the lunch room (which is by the entrance I enter from). He probably saw me fumble with the door — I swiped my moldy old badge and actually entered the wrong code. Fortunately, it worked the second time ’round. Every once in a while, the lunchroom door does *not* work — even if you enter the correct code — and we make insipid jokes like, “I wonder if I still have a job?”

Anyway, L-L was all hopped up about some confusing stuff in one of my specs and was chomping at the bit to call me on it. He worked yesterday. I did not, so I was kind of in a Monday fog, i.e., what do I do for a living again? He was right. It was confusing but it required a larger audience, including the LSCHP, and so between that prodject and the two other prodjects I am actively working on right now, my brain got a workout today. And I’m taaaarrrred.

I am typing this standing at my chitchen counter. I wish I had a standing desk at my work. I love my job. It is almost entirely brain work. If you saw what I work on, you might not think it’s very creative but believe me, it is almost endlessly so. You go in to a new prodject thinking, this will be a no-brainer, we’re just lather, rinse, repeating some old functionality yada yada. But almost never. There’s always something new and challenging to think through. I have plenty of freedom to sit around and think about how to do / explain things, write, code, make flowcharts and/or tables and/or whatever it takes to help my very specific audience understand what to do to build out and test things. If I want to occasionally sit in my cube with my feet up and my eyes closed, nobody cares… Except me, being terrified about nodding off and tipping over onto the floor. Ka-plonk…

But that’s just it. My job is a bit sedentary. That’s not the best thing for the likes of KW, who kind of likes to be up and bounding around (except when she is slugging around on the beach). It’s not that I don’t get a lot of exercise. At the least, there is my 0-skunk-30 walk, which is three miles. Add a lunch walk (1 to 1-1/2 miles) and some days an after work walk to the Plum Market and back (2/3 mile round trip). Still, I am at my best when I am not sitting around in a chair most of the day.

I’m not asking for advice for myself here, I’m just blathering. I *can* get up and walk around any time I want to and I do. Thinking back, this is probably the most sedentary job (not to mention the most highly paid (but not sure there’s a correlation there…)) that I’ve ever had. Cashier at “your Tempo store?” On my feet all day. EPA Ops? Lots of jumping around to deal with various issues from everyone under the sun. YAG? Yikes!!! Up and down the stage door stairs (usually running!) in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre (or wherever) umpteen billion times a play. Current job? Loverly but quiet and sedentary cube culture…

I am lovin’ this sorta cool, sorta rainy summer…

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

roseThis photooo was not taken at the Landfill. It was somewhere down on Westwood during my 0-skunk-30 walk this morning. Beeyootyful morning after a night of off-and-on light rain.

I won’t show you a photo of our garden prodject of the day because I don’t want to jinx it. It was a very ambitious prodject for us lowly black thumb people. Seven [big] holes were dug and a couple hundred bucks spent. And then our young whipper-snapper neighbor came along and wished us luck because he had a similar prodject going and it had failed. So fingers crossed.

So the GG’s Father’s Day present was to dig a bunch of big holes and dispose of the clay-ey contents. Over the fence into the woods (hope we don’t get in trouble). I tried to help dig holes but I was shooed away to find my own fun elsewhere. I can only guess he figured my help would jinx the prodject even further.

We don’t do these greeting card type holidays very well. Lizard Breath texted earlier today to ask if she should come over this way. We are so accustomed to having kids away at college or across the pond or on the left coast that we learned long ago to just muddle away at days like this and make our own boring little bits of fun. Hike or kayak or burn a bunch of sticks. So I was sort of speechless. Well, sure you can come over. You can come over whenever you want (but if there’s an ice storm or something, please don’t). But there’s nothing much going on around here. Well, I said all of that but secretly I am happy to have some 20-something company this afternoon.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers out there. And that includes godfathers and dogfathers and, well, it’s a slippery slope from there. And don’t feel too sorry for the GG digging all those holes. It was definitely *not* his only Father’s Day gift. But I’m not gonna tell you any more about that for now.

It doesn’t take much…

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

stickburningSome people want to jump out of airplanes or climb Mt. Everest or sail around the world in a one-person sailboat (with no shower, ahem). What is on my bucket list*? Burn those blasted sticks that certain people keep collecting hoarding in the Landfill back yard.

Every once in a while throughout our marriage, I have gotten fed up with the stick pile and single-handedly dismantled it myself. In the old days, that meant bundling all of those blasted sticks up and tying them with string so the reeeecycle folks could pick them up off the curb. That could be painful. Some of those sticks have PICKERS on them and I didn’t used to have decent glubs for that kind of thing… The last few years we have acquired no fewer than *two* (count ’em) big Reeeeecycle Ann Arbor compost bins. They may not be enough for all of the damn leaves we get every fall but they are more than adequate for disposing of whatever old dead sticks we can accumulate.

But then there is *this* summer. The first summer in a long time that I have had the luxury of even a teensy tinesy bit of time to think about something besides work and what/where we are doing/going the next weekend and whether or not it requires pulling the Infamous Courtois Trailer to haul stuff around (you guys, I am *kidding*, I *love* the trailer!).

This year, I started getting annoyed at the growing stick pile and then… I dunno what happened but I started thinking something like, “Hey, we could burn those!” Yeah. That would be fun. Alas, for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks, we’ve been out of town or it’s been rainy or windy or both or we’ve been focused on other things and forgot.

Today, I dragged our [legal] backyard faarrrr pit out and the GG built a little faaarrrr and we sat out there and took turns feeding it for at least an hour. The whole time we were arguing (weakly, for us) about whether it was going to rain or not. We did it anyway. In the end it did start raining, very lightly. We could stay dry sitting under the apple tree. It was so much fun! Why, I do not know. And all the while my cute little Rooooomba was wheeling around the Dungeon, cleaning up after the water heater installation earlier this week. I can now walk down there without yucky crumbly stuff sticking to my feet.

We didn’t burn all of the sticks. There is a huge pile left for us to burn throughout the summer. Yippie-yi-oh-ki-ayyy!

* I don’t have a blasted bucket list.


Friday, June 14th, 2013

urbanpI swear to god or whatever that this thing was *not* in the schoolyard this morning. There is one on Miller, where they’re doing major road construction. The other morning I was walking by *that* one just as a big construction worker emerged from it. He looked a little dumfounded to see meeee there and awkwardly wished me a good morning! Uh, good morning to you too, sir!?

Anyway, it can be a trick making it all the way home from the Oscar Tango on a Friday night without needing to, oh you know, somewhere along the way. There are a few wooded areas between downtown and home, so it’s easy in the dark of winter. On a beautiful sunlit evening like this one, people are *everywhere* including in the woods.

I made it tonight with no problem. I’m not sure how. I had two ‘hattans and some water with dinner at the Oscar Tango, then we walked around the mayor’s green fair for a half hour or so (where I totally failed to recognize the neighbors of PerryNet, fer kee-reist, aka “Bill, do you know that girl you’re talking to?” Sorry kids, you are out of context! Embarrassed? Yes!)

Anyway, we eventually struck it out back over to the west side and this porta-potty was in the schoolyard. I did not use it. I did not need to. I would’ve had to be pretty desperate to use it since The Landfill is less than a block away. Why do we have a porta-potty in the school yard? I will bet you dollars it’s because the school has gone high tech and you can’t get in the door any more without swiping a card — like I have to do at my work. That means that the summer soccer kids can’t use the bathroom. No more getting the janitor to prop open one of the doors with a chair. It’s probably illegal to not provide the kiddos with a bathroom. And it should be. (And really, they can’t all come over and use The Blue and Only Bathroom.) But what is this world coming to…

It is a work weekend here on The Planet Ann Arbor. I hope I get a lot done. If it is a work weekend for you, I hope the same for you. If it is *not* a work weekend, have fun! I mean that.

Goodnight, KW.

Chore girl in corporate America

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

bigbucketheadMy work day began with a 9:30 AM meeting. A meeting scheduled by my long-suffering supervisor (formerly known as Cube Nayber) at that un-Godly hour only because she could not find another day and time when a conference room *and* all of the required people were available. Boy oh boy, did she take some ribbing! “9:30? I’m not even awake! And poor X is dialing in from over there in the Central time zone!”

And then there was yer fav-o-rite blahgger, who chirped, “I could do this at 7:00 AM! Well, except that I am just getting back from my 0-skunk-30 walk and beginning my morning chores at that time.” Whoo boy! Chores? Hee hee hee hoo haw! Whatcha doin’ KW, milking yer cow? At that point, the meeting got totally derailed for five minutes or so as we debated things like whether or not you can have chickens in your back yard on The Planet Ann Arbor (yes) and what the requirements are for keeping other farm aminals. If I hadn’t been in the hot seat at this meeting, I’d’ve been googling but somebody had to get the train back on the tracks and I needed some answers so I squelched it and we got back to the fascinating details of transferring information in the banking industry. (This was all *friendly* and I swear, old Crooked Jack — an old BF’s nickname for my decidedly NOT crooked old coot — steered me into this biz.)

And then I got to thinking about the whole farm aminals in the back yard thing. First, I love aminals but I don’t think I am cut out to be a farmer. I don’t even own a dog or cat. One of the earliest stories about me that I remember The Commander telling (over and over and over) was about our family visiting a farm (my great-aunt Alice’s farm? I dunno) and me wrinkling my nose up as soon as we drove into the driveway. What is that smell?

Then there was the time that one of my favorite girl scout leaders decided it would be a good prodject for the girls (including my child) to “raise” baby chicks. Her husband was HORRIFIED. He was horrified enough that he called the city to ask about ordinances and maybe they could arrest his wife, etc. Naw, said the city. If it’s only for a couple weeks, we wouldn’t bother with it. So we had two chickens for a couple weeks. Actually we ended up with four because one family was going away for the weekend and could we take their chickens for a couple days and I fergit all of the details but that family had a weird habit of dumping birds off on us. Anyway, by the end of the two weeks, the chicks had just enough wing power that they could get out of their laundry basket and, while I didn’t think they smelled toooo awful, it seemed like wherever I went, I could smell chicken. Was it just somehow in my nose or did *I* smell like chicken? I was glad when our fearless leader picked them up. I can still remember her pulling into my driveway with a big box in the back of her minivan, half-grown chickens flying around inside. She had a wild look in her eyes. I made her a beauteous chicken bolo necklace after that episode. I wonder if she still has it.

I’ve probably not been the best parent when it comes to letting my kids have pets. [Delete a whole long bunch of stuff about this.] I love aminals but I don’t want to spend a lot of time caring for them and I want to be free to travel without finding caretakers for them.

Trying to keep up with myself…

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

haisleymorningDo I hear an echo? Derecho? Anyone? “They’ve” been threatening us with weather-type gloom and doom all the dern day. Derecho? We’ll see.

The only derecho (google it) that I have ever been in (that I know of) is the Greeeeeen Stoorrrrrrm of 1980! I sat on the front porch at my North Seventh Street apartment eating one of my all-time fave breakfasts of dry cheerios that morning. It was a loverly upstairs flat but I was glad to leave it in the end. But I loved the front porch and the morning of the Green Storm was beautiful. A gorgeous sunrise and birds chirping, etc.

My Seventh Street porch faced the east and so did my drive to work over at That Darn EPA. Sitting on the porch and driving to work, I didn’t think to look back to the west for what might be coming in. Not too long after I got to work? We were all called to gather into a [not] very secure storm shelter / aka conference room. There were no outside windows in my office so I was totally freaked out when I walked out to the lobby and saw that the sky was DARK GREEN!!!

Oh. My. God! We sat in the conference room nervously discussing the storm and some were probably praying, even me in my godless way. The GG was at my apartment (he was unemployed that summer, the only time in his LIFE that he was EVER unemployed) and I was worried about him. Nobody had cell phones back then, so I couldn’t text him and I can’t remember exactly when we did get telephonically connected but we finally did and everything was all right although I remember that he reported a wild ride over on Seventh St. It was okay, he *loves* derechos and tornadoes and things and he had fun!

I didn’t hear the term “derecho” until probably 25 years after the Green Storm. That term has been around for a long time and I think the Green Storm was labeled as a derecho way back then but that was before them thar tubes and who knew?

The derecho talk has settled down but there’s still talk of storms. My bet is *not* on a derecho. But we’ll see… And now it’s starting to rain…

Good night and please take shelter if you need to.

19 years…

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

oldwaterheaterI’ve been noticing for a while now that I don’t need to turn on the cold water to moderate my shower water temperature. Okay, I dunno, maybe somebody “bumped” the temperature control on the water heater again…

Last week, I went down to the Dungeon to do something with laundry and SPLISH! Oh no! There’s water down here. Again. Now, we get a little freaked out about water in the dungeon these days. We have never had a wet basement. Nothing like the one at my original childhood house on Superior Street. At one point I can remember my parents panicking because there was at least a FOOT of water in that basement. It was a horribly typical “Michigan” basement with a Silence of the Lambs type room in it and everything. Mostly nothing valuable was stored down there. Except for the furnace and the washer and dryer…

Here at the Landfill? Finished basement. Ugly as all getout but still finished. But then, the last few years, water would leak through the south wall whenever we had a big rainstorm and pool in front of the dryer. I would be hauling a bunch of laundry down there and SPLOOSH! I would step in it. After a few years and some DIY attempts at solutions, we finally contracted with Terra Firma to come out and do the job right. They did and water doesn’t come in any more. Still, when I SPLISHED last week, I immediately looked for the source. Whew! It wasn’t coming in the wall. No, it was coming from under the water heater.

Things got precipitately worse this morning and I had to turn off the hot water before I went to work. Oh, that was fun. Crappy breaking-up phone convo between the GG and KW: “The handle is YELLOW!” “No it’s not, it’s RED!” “Which WAY do I turn it!” Lather, rinse, repeat. It WAS red (top picture) and I turned it clockwise.

newwaterheaterSo. $900 for a new water heater (and no, that was NOT what the $1000 check was for).

I knew that it had been a loooonnng time since we bought the OLD water heater. It was back in the day when Mouse was just barely old enough to be left home alone for an hour or two if we were going to be close by. I don’t know if it was the day that we got this old water heater or not but it was right around then. I remember coming home from driving Lizard Breath somewhere. The GG was at a school meeting (the school is in the backyard). Mouse and Froggy were hovering at the top of the Dungeon stairs trying to muster up enough courage to go *downstairs* to get something. I understood. I remember feeling that way about my own childhood basement too. I was glad she didn’t get down there though because her BIRTHDAY PRESENTS were down there and not all of them were WRAPPED!

But 19 years? Yes…

Anyway, old water heater and new water heater. And since water heaters are REALLY boring things to take pictures of, you get a gratuitous shot of one of our old MacPlus computers back there (and some other junk). By the way, the NEW water heater has a YELLOW handle!