Archive for August, 2013

Channeling Grandroobly

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

lizgrandadI don’t know where to start, so I guess I’ll just start somewhere. Or other. We were talking last night about a grokkery run this morning and I said I wanted to do it early. This morning? I walked the beach and then I kayaked over to the old rock crib and beyond and back and then I made myself a cute little omelet and *then* Mouse and I went to the “park store” and *then* to Besteman’s to get maple syrup. Going to Besteman’s for yooperland maple syrup is always a bit of an adventure and I never quite know what to do. Today I parked in their yard and called the number on the sign out by the road. The person who answered the phone said he was in the shower (!!!!) and it would be a few minutes before he could come out to complete our sale but we were welcome to enter the garage and open up his cupboards to obtain syrup.

Okaaaayyyy. So we did that. As we were rummaging in the cupboards in the Besteman’s garage, a young family pulled up and entered the garage. “Uh, we are syrup buyers and we called and talked to somebody in the shower (!!!!) and we’re embarrassed that we are in this garage rummaging in the cupboards. It was a niece and she was exuberantly friendly (because this weird “people in the garage” thing is probably pretty regular for the Besteman family) but still. We did get some syrup and it was a fun excursion.

The rest of the day? The most beautiful beach day on earth. For most of the summer, when I have been able to get up to the moominbeach, I have mostly been the only person hanging out on the beach. Today was almost like the old days. It was loverly to hang out on the beach with my kids and a bunch of beloved Regenstreif folks.

And so this granddaughter is channeling her grandfather by sweeping the deck. I am happy that I haven’t had to do much of anything this weekend except talk to my cuzzints, etc. Mouse has been doing most of the cooking and Lizard did some rather neglected sweeping. I am just hanging out having fun. And doing dishes. But that’s okay, I am channeling Bolette. She and I always did dishes together in her house in Detroit and I loved it and I also helped my cuzzints with the dishes over in the Old Cabin and we always had so much fun.

Blahgging from the Lyme Lounge here on the shores of Gitchee Gumee.

Kayak Woman

The bacon was from the store

Friday, August 30th, 2013

kwbeachMy Mouse and I drove “up north” today. I think we experienced just about every little bit of weather that the Great Lake State could throw at us in late August. Except for tornadoes. We did not (thank you god) see one blasted funnel cloud (unlike a trip I took earlier this summer).

Driving rain storms where you can barely see what the heck is ahead of you, not to mention the lane markers on the highway? Yes. And then there was our loverly grokkery stop at Glen’s Family Fare in the thriving metropolis of Gaylord. The store was more than fine. But the jaffic tram we encountered getting back to the I75 SUV freeway was epic. We were almost to the freeway and I noticed that traffic was at a dead stop *on* the freeway. Mouse was driving and we were just before a side street and I had an epiphany! Old US27!!!! We made a snap decision to hang a right and zig-zagged our way north and east through Gaylord to Old 27. I texted a wave to the Uncly Uncle as we passed his place of work and we were on our way. Got back on the freeway at Vanderbilt and it was clear sailing from there.

So, when we arrived at the moominbeach it was sunny and we could see an upbound freighter out there. We took a beach walk. Fog rolled in. The sun came out again. The wind came up and down and shifted this way and that. I spent the whole week tripping over the clean laundry (towels and whatnot) that I planned to haul up here this weekend. I forgot that stuff. I do not know how. I was distracted by our tomato picking forays into Mouse’s Garden this morning. It’s okay, There are plenty of towels here. For my Beach Towel, I decided I would use one of Radical Betty’s old beach towels. Uber Kayak Woman left it here in the moomincabin on one of her junkets back to the Great Lake State. So it would be here whenever she wanted to come back. I’m using it for the duration.

I’ll crawl around under my desk in my own loverly cube but I will not crawl around in that cave.

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

barroomI was hanging around over by Louie-Louiiii’s cube today talking him down off whatever ledge he happened to be on at that moment when… Rrrrrrrr beep… beep… beep… A bunch of the lights went out and the emergency lights all came on aaaannndddd… Some areas of the cube farm had lucky-shucky and some had, hmmm…

Someone who knows more about the building lucky-shucky than the average bear instructed us that if we were plugged into outlet “4”with the little red triangle thingy above it (in the depths of our cubes), we were on “backup battery” lucky-shucky, which was okay as long as it lasted. Any other outlet had wonky lucky-shucky. (Wonky wasn’t the actual word he used but it works.) I crawled under my desk with my iPhone flashlight and switched my plug into the correct outlet. I refused to crawl into the mess in the LSCHP’s office cave. He was on his own. Oh, not that he asked me (or anyone else) to do that.

Anyway, we had just scheduled a little design catch-me-up kind of powwow and guess what? We moved it down the road to the sports bar by Woldemort. “You guys wanna drink?” asked the LSCHP. Oh yes, was the answer (actually the Queen Bee was responsible and ordered a soft drink). In fact, he told our waitress why we were there and then he said that maybe sometime next month he would stick a screwdriver into an outlet somewhere so we could do it again. A corporate credit card paid for this little junket (team building exercise). I have worked very hard my whole life, whether paid or not and I still can’t get used to the idea that I don’t always have to pay my own way. I still try though.

I retain a pretty healthy respect for lucky-shucky but I am less scared of it than when I was a kid and was *terrified*! The Commander was a weeeee bit overprotective in some ways when I was really small and kind of over-hyped typical childhood dangers like playing with matches and sticking utensils into lucky-shuckial outlets. I was not a kid that needed to be told things more than once and doing so just kicked my overactive imagination into high gear. (I probably did that kind of stuff to my kids too — sorry!) And then there was the time she plugged in the old frying pan down there on Superior Street and the ratty old cloth cord burst into flames.

Nowadays, after all these years of plugging and unplugging technological devices, I’m not all that chicken any more, although I *hate* messing around with the fuses at the moomincabin. You have to SLAM them into place with the palm of your hand and every time I have to do that, I expect a shower of sparks and lucky-shuckial buzzing. Bzzzzzzzp! Bbbbbzzzzzzzppttt! Oh, not that they actually DO that!

Home now rushing around to get ready to leave for the Great Hot North tomorrow, er, not that I have much to pack since my ratty old leisure clothes are all up there already. Left them at Houghton Lake 10 days ago and the GG picked them up today on *his* way up. And making a quick batch of pesto to freeze — so quick that as I was grating cheese, I had to remind myself that blood is not a pesto ingredient! Yes, I grated my thumb. No, there is no blood in the pesto.

It’s a long weekend for me but it’ll be a quick one and I’ll be butt in seat bright and early Tuesday morning.

Pole vaulting over mouse turds

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

harvestSo, what did I flub up today? I missed a meeting. I *missed* a meeting. I MISSED a meeting. We have this email / scheduling type app on our laptops at work called Outlook (maybe some of you are familiar with it). 15 minutes before a meeting, it flashes a little reminder at you. I was at my desk DEEPLY engrossed in my little SWIFT-boating prodject but somehow I still missed the reminder. (Okay, I was probably in thought-processing mode which means I might’ve been picking at an xword on my phone for a minute or two.) The funny thing was that my team was nowhere to be seen and I kept wondering where the heck they were. Was there a meeting that I was not invited to? Could be. Oh well, I thought. Two hours after the meeting began, I noticed that the Outlook icon was lit up. Meeting? What meeting? When? It’s okay, I wasn’t really needed anyway and I’m sure someone would’ve pinged me if I had been. The Queen Bee said something like, “If this is the worst thing you’ve ever done, you’re in pretty damn good shape.” (Of course, she didn’t say “damn”. I don’t think the QB *ever* uses words like that.) And then we all went on to talk about important stuff, like our QA manager’s daughter’s first day of kindergarten.

My workward commute included a stop at the Saline Road Meijer to pick up a few things that were on my big-box grokkery store list like CHEERIOS!!!! Hello. The GG left an empty box right in the middle of my “road” aka the chitchen counter this morning. Like, WE ARE OUT OF CEREAL, GET SOME! (Yes, of course he can navigate a grokkery store and buy his own cereal but I’m sure he knew that I would have other stuff on my list, so why make multiple trips.)

My homeward commute included a driver who must have found her driver’s license in a Crackerjack box. But why talk about that. It’s an everyday occurrence.

Then I got home and my new neighbor complimented me on how good I looked. “Are you going out somewhere?” Yes, we have a new neighbor — in the Burke’s old house of dynamite if anyone’s counting. Well, no. I just got home from work and I’ll be in tie-dye in about five minutes. She seemed kind of floored to see me in KW-style bizcaz. I like my new neighbor. The last neighbors were fine but I never quite connected with them. My bad for being shy. This gal is a little different. Outgoing and very colorful albeit not in the way that I am with my tie-dye duds. Tattoos are not something I’ve ever been interested in for myself but I couldn’t care less if others get them. But heck, I didn’t even get my ears pierced until I was in my 30s, not that I didn’t want to but that would be a whole ‘nother story. Anyway, nothing like dragging your ass home at the end of a workday and having some beautiful vibrant young person (with or without tattoos) yell from her driveway about you how good you look! Say what? I’ll take it.

By the time I had my tie-dye on, I saw that Daisy was parked out in the street and my Mouse harvested all that stuff in the photooo today… She asked, “Can you believe this came out of the back yard of The Landfill?” KW (aka Black Thumb Banana) was speechless!

I could prob’ly go on and on (and on and on and on) but I won’t. G’night!

SWIFT boating is soooo much fun…

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

devinepreserveBut I will *not* bore you with it. Suffice it to say I am designing another file compare tool. That’s one of my little niches of expertise albeit not one that’ll make me rich or catapult me into fame.

Other than that, I don’t have much. Thunderstorms were in the forecast when I opened up my weather app at 0-skunk-30 this morning. But ho-hum. Didn’t look like much was coming in the direction of The Planet Ann Arbor any time soon, so I toooooook my shower and thru my purple Keens on and galumphed off in the dark through the school yard, watching warily for my fav-o-rite crepuscular aminal. The stinky kind, don’tcha know.

I got through the schoolyard to Duncan Street. Everything was all right. Then. Flash! Yes, just a wee little bit of a flash. Hmmm… The one thing I didn’t check before heading out was my lightning app. I checked it. Whoa! Lightning 24 miles away! That’s a safe distance but I was out walking and I know from experience that storms can move quickly and sometimes rather unpredictably so I cut my walk short and sure enough, by the time I got back to the schoolyard, the lightning was now 12.2 miles away. Too far away for audible thunder but too close for comfort.

Sure enough, not long after I got home, the storm hit. Not a big one by any means but there was plenty of audible thunder and enough rain that I didn’t have to water the Mouse’s Garden today.

As much as I love my lightning app (it’s actually built into the WeatherBug app, maybe other weather apps have one too though), I wonder if it makes me even more of a chicken about electrical storms than I already am. Then again, I have seen lightning do some interesting things. Like one Saturday back when the beach urchins were young and a tree exploded in the woods behind The Landfill. It had been a little drizzly the whole day but it was quiet rain and storms didn’t seem to be on the radar at all. And then… Kaboom!!! What the heck was that!?!

By the way, a pet peeve!!!! In the last couple days, I cannot count how many people I have seen posting about “lightening” on facebook. “Lightening?” Really? These are people who are college-educated and some have advanced degrees. LIGHTNING!!! There is no “e” in “lightning.” I know that not everybody has the “spelling” gene but thank you for letting me rant and rave and vent and act crazy. I needed that. Oh, and goodnight!

P.S. I misspelled “animal” (as “aminal”) intentionally. Long story. So crucify me.

User guide to life

Monday, August 26th, 2013

produceI have written many times about how religious I am. Or not. I went to Sunday School and church with great regularity when I was a child. Overall, it wasn’t all that bad. It was a mainstream Methodist church, one with a big, complicated building with all kinds of nooks and crannies and staircases to wherever. There was (is) a huge pipe organ that could just about shake the place when Mrs. Cole played the anthem enthusiastically. I dunno who plays the organ now. The last time I went to church, the GG and I went with The Comm and people said things like, “It’s so nice to see you” (to The Comm) and “your mother tells us about all of the wonderful things you are doing” (to me). Of course, that made me wonder what I had been doing… After church, we took The Comm to Woldemort and helped her buy a cute little PINK digital cam.

We went to church when I was a kid largely because my grandparents went to church (and my dad was the church treasurer). Like I said, Sunday School could be fun (when I got the red chair) and so were many of the other events the church planned. There were fun times and boring times and a couple of bad times along the line. When I was 16 or thereabouts I declared (in typical 1960s style) that I did not want to go to church any more. I would rather “commune with God” on the ski slopes (or wherever). My parents actually said OKAY! My old coot never did subscribe to religion exactly, even though he ushered at church throughout my whole childhood and handled the church treasury even during the long-ago years when he had to negotiate with the electric company to pay the bill, etc.

I got off on a tangent into childhood memories there but even though I don’t go to church* or believe in some omnipotent god-like being (actually I do, just not sure he/she/whatever cares about us), what I do believe in is The Golden Rule. The one thing I have taken from my childhood religious training is, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” I am not perfect in any way, shape or form but I do try to live by this “rule”. Whether or not it’s a religious rule, it is a good rule to live by.

*It kind of cracks me up that sometimes some of my Cfam outlaws apparently don’t realize (or remember) that I am not Catholic. The GG is Catholic [albeit quite a bit lapsed] and I grew up with all kinds of Catholic folks. But I am not Catholic. It is funnier than heck that people don’t know that after all these years. I guess I am accepted, roight? Love y’all.

In an existential mood…

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

froggy…but I won’t bore you with that. There was a lot of existential talk during The Commander’s last year, *especially* the last seven weeks as Clostridium difficile did its dirty (dirty dirty) work*. I cannot for the life of me find the tweet now but I am sure that I once tweeted something about how sick to death I was of circular existentialist conversations that seemed to have no end. The problem is, I also totally utterly absolutely understood her questions. I just didn’t have any answers, at least not any kind of answers that would satisfy her questions. I sometimes wished I could talk to *her* mother (my grandmother Emily, who died in a car accident many years before my birth) so I could ask her what the heck mom was talking about. But when I looked around the room, I was the only one there. No mooooom, I am not god or whoever and I love you but I just don’t know. Maybe *she* knows now. I hope she has seen Emily (her mom) again. The Comm missed Emily greatly even as she went on into the future and built a wonderful adult life. (If so, I hope Emily is keeping mom and her sister Roberta from duking it out like they tried to do at that noodle restaurant in Royal Oak back in 2006… [grin])

I said I wouldn’t bore you with existentialism but there I went, off on an existential tangent. Today? We did our quick little urban hiking route down by Barton Dam early this morning. I don’t think we’ve been over there since maybe May? I could prob’ly look it up on my blahg but I’d get so bored by all the blather that I’d be head-down on the keyboard by the time I found the answer. Amtrak came by while we were on the trail section that trespasses next to the tracks so I put a cute little five second train video on facebook. Amtrak honked at me. A fb friend flattered me by saying maybe I was cute but actually the GG was standing behind me and waved at the train. I think Amtrak is so accustomed to (and probably annoyed as all getout by) people hanging out by that stretch of tracks that it doesn’t take much for them to give a little toot toot. Kinda like when you are kayaking near the shipping channel in the upper St. Mary’s and a freighter comes by.

My Mouse came over to harvest basil and a few loverly ‘maters from her glorious garden today. She heard Froggy grokking away out in the Frog Hopper and launched a rescue operation. Froggy and New Froog and Turnstile and Softy Beanbag had apparently been stuck out in the Frog Hopper for a WEEK, aka they didn’t make it into the house after we returned from HL last Sunday. I guess we aren’t very good parents, are we, leaving sentient beings in an automotive vee-hickle for a week. Anyway, upon tasting a wee bit of freedom, our fav-o-rite froog launched a tomato stealing expotition and there he is with a couple of his friends, tangled up in the tomato patch. Softy Beanbag apparently stayed out of the fray.

Kudos to the GG for cleaning all of the flotsam, jetsam, and cosmic debris out of the driveway. He said something like, “this has been a mess for years now.” I replied with something like, “I know, I’ve been ignoring it for years now.” Actually, I haven’t been ignoring it exactly. It’s just that I wasn’t sure how much of the “stuff” hanging out there was “valuable” or not. I wouldda flung most of it. Not sure what the GG flung but it looks wonderful out there now.

A second walk at the Devine Nature Preserve this afternoon and then nap-time for the GG and blood-time for KW (i.e., I shaved my legs and knicked in such an inconspicuous place that I-ee-I-ee-I-ee-I couldn’t even figure out where all the damn blood was coming from…) Yeah, TMI, roight… We’re about to throw our Harnois cornish hens and some Farmer John corn on the grill and we have some Mouse-grown tomatoes that I’ll just slice up. And we’ll transition into the evening not to mention the workday tomorrow… hi ho…

*There is a very effective treatment for Clostridium difficile nowadays. It’s called fecal transplant and whatever you are imagining about that is probably true. Yuck, roight? Yes. Nevertheless. That treatment was not mentioned when my mom had c. diff. I had no idea it existed, not to mention I had no idea what c. diff WAS(!!!). No longer than one damn year later, the elderly mother of a yooper friend of ours developed c. diff — in the damn hoosegow because that’s where people get it. A fecal transplant quickly brought her back to health.

Tweak tweak tweak

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

fishskeletonThe GG has had headphones on absolutely all day. All the way down to the farmer’s market this morning, all the way around the farmer’s market, all the way home. All day. In one way it’s a blessing because we don’t have to be talking to each other all day. (Yes, we’ve been married a long time.) But then there are those times when I (or somebody else) NEED to talk to him and he is oblivious! Like our fave farmer’s market coffee folks (Roos Roast, google it) asking him what kind of coffee he wanted. Oblivious…

We did our usual thing at the farmer’s market. Got coffee, then walked around a bit checking out what was there and had breakfast — a half donut for me (other half later) and something sweet and sticky for the GG. At that point I was ready to do some serious shopping so I tried to shoo him off to visit his girlfriend Victoria the artist. Her wares were there but she was nowhere to be seen so I hit up the artist across the way, who paints gorgeous landscapes that remind me of the moominbeach, although they are typically Lake Michigan scenes. I showed him a photo of sunset on the moominbeach and a long conversation ensued about the Lake Superior shore and sunset times there and here and in the arctic, etc. I love this guy and one of these days I will see just the right painting and open my stingy little wallet. Or maybe he does commissions… Hmmm… I’m not quite there yet…

Home but not without talking ourselves into a couple of Harnois Farms (google it) cornish hens in addition to all the fruits and veggies. Two big bags of used but clean linens (some mine, some The Comm’s) down to Kiwanis for donation, that’s three bags of stuff outta the Landfill this week. Flinging has been on a bit of a hiatus this summer and every little bit counts. Took our obligatory weekend trip to Ace Hardware, then home for a day full of cleaning, organizing, and flinging (me) and cutting down trees (the GG). Feels soooooo good to be here on The Planet on a beautiful Saturday.

Ooooops… the GG is rattling his car keys and that means it’s time to go to a partay over in Ypsilanti.

And so we did and now we are back and, as hard as it is for me to drag myself outta The Landfill at 6 PM on a Saturday evening, I am sooooo glad we went! A pair of neighbors had big birthdays plus a big anniversary this summer and this was a surprise party for them. Once upon a time, one of my beach urchins was five months old and it was March and finally a nice enough day to go for a stroller ride here in the Great Lake State. We rounded the corner and there was another mom with a beautiful two-month-old *redheaded* baby girl. Who knew then that those kiddos would become the bestest of pals for, well, I won’t say how many years. You can guess but please guess silently because I am still processing my life without my parents and Radical Betty in them. I don’t *actively* miss any of them but for years my life was one foot in front of the other and now it’s sorta more like what’s next and where do I put my foot and I’m still figuring those things out. Pardon me, even though I have a wonderful career these days, I’m under construction. Again…

But hey, tonight was soooo much fun and we were meeting for a *fun* reason and plenty of young people seemed happy to hang out with us baggy old folks, including our own beach urchins of courserous. Or (duh) maybe the beach urchins were *why* folks were hanging out at our table? Whatever. It was all fun and let’s all do it again, but not for me please, when I get there.

Should I hit publish? I guess I will. I’ll probably tweak because that’s what I do.

Good night,

P.S. The GG always kind of hoped for a redheaded baby to match his gorgeous sister Susie. I am not a DNA expert but I sort of suspected that we would get blue-eyed blondes and that is exactly what we got.

“You’re in a room with four orcs. Whaddya do?”

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

yukonI couldn’t describe today’s title if I tried. Let’s just say it’s one of the odd little perks that come with my job…

We are actually on The Planet Ann Arbor for the duration this weekend. Does it ever feel good to just beeeee for once! We didn’t get Porterized down at the Oscar Tango in the usual way tonight. Instead, they pinged us from the Yukon Inn up there in Paradise via this pic and a few others. That guy in the photoooo is the dogman. I never knew the dogman but we had dinner with his brother, a former C-fam outlaw, a couple weeks ago. Come to think of it, we were at the Oscar Tango that night too.

I posted (with permission, thanks Diane!) this photoooo on facebook, and one of the comments was from Our Northern Correspondent, who said that her husband had watched the first moon landing from the Yukon Inn. That brought back interesting memories for me. I watched that moon landing in the Piedmont Old Cabin on the black and white TV. A bunch of us teeny-boppers used to watch TV on that thing every night until the 11:00 news, at which point we would walk down to Doelle’s in the dark and sit on the porch down there scaring each other (or probably it was just meeee that was scared). Something like that. I know that I was in a constant battle with my parents about staying out “late”. Not a fun part of my life as a teenager but then we didn’t have cell phones back then. Or even a frickin’ *landline* in the cabin, come to think of it. How the heck did I fergit that? (Still mind-boggling that I can now walk the moominbeach with a computer in my pocket — one that can post photos to cyberspace via the 4G network.)

Anyway, we were all gathered at the Piedy’s the night of the lunar landing and it was all cool… Except… That… I felt like absolute death warmed over. Sore throat and fever anyone? I was darned if I was gonna tell my parents about that. I was sure they’d make me go to bed or something. I have a history of being sick during space missions. In second grade, I threw up all over my desk while we were watching John Glenn launch to orbit the earth. I was in good health watching Commander Hadfield cover that David Bowie tune on them thar tubes. Maybe I’ve broken the spell?

Where were you during the first moon landing? I know some of you were not alive yet.

Jeebus, the ceegar smoke is thick tonight!

Washing yer sheets four times a year…

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

franclotheslineThis loverly little article flew by on Twitter a few minutes ago. Read it if you date dare. I accidentally wrote “date” but it kinda fits…

I wash my sheets once a week, more or less. In my current minimalist lifestyle, I only own one set of sheets for my bed and that means that I need to have time to wash and dry the sheets and put them back on the bed while still keeping my sanity. That usually means Saturday is the day. If we are outta town for a weekend (and we frequently are), I skip a week. I think I wash sheets every week because it’s what The Commander did when I was growing up. It was one of those unwritten rules that families live by. She knew how to use a clothesline, as this photoooo of her at a young age (at her parents’ home? I think but I’m not sure…) shows. But she was definitely willing to use a dryer and, when we were young, we spent many fun days at the laundromat during our summers at the moomincabin. And it *was* fun. We got pop and snacks and stuff. Laundromat Queen. A title I later wrested from her, albeit not without a bit of a struggle. She didn’t want anyone (me) to wash her unmentionables and I don’t blame her because I don’t like people washing mine either. In some ways, the apple hasn’t fallen very far from the tree.

Back when we had the Moldy Old Cabin at Houghton Lake, the sheets were not washed very often. Oh, I think Grandma Sally probably had something similar to a once-a-week rule when her children were young but by the time I was around, it was sort of a man cave much of the time and the Gumper did not systematically wash sheets every time somebody different slept in them like The Comm (and later on me) did at the moomincabin. What the heck, he had more important things to do in life. You know, like futz around with small motors or “organize” rope or curate his worm collection. I loved the Gumper and I miss helping him put lawn mowers up and down onto and off of the picnic table during intermittent rain showers (for example). I was more okay with the sheet situation than some might think. I mostly just ignored it and hey, nobody ever got sick from sleeping in not-recently-cleaned sheets at HL. Eventually I began hauling sleeping bags up there. Now that we have the loverly new Group Home, which has laundry facilities, the (unwritten) rules are different. If you use Group Home sheets, you put them on your chosen bed when you get there and *wash* them before you leave. Or else you haul your own sheets up there. Or sleeping bags, which is what I do. All of the families in the group do what they need to do and it all works. I *don’t* wash our sleeping bags all that often, maybe 2-3 times a year.

In which I don’t (exactly) brag about my kids

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

tomatersFor a couple reasons. One is that I find kid bragging pretty darn distasteful. I come by that honestly. The Commander was very careful never to brag about me, despite the fact that I was known for a while in grade school as “The Brain of Lincoln School”. Oh, how I HATED that nickname!

That nickname came to me when I took the Iowa tests in third grade. I never knew a standardized test I didn’t like and this one was no exception. Still, I was nervous about how I had done and I will never forget Mrs. Ala looking at me with wide eyes and announcing to the room that I had received straight 99s on the test. Oh dear. Can I just slither off my chair and melt into the floor please? I had expected her to say that I had failed. Passing with a perfect score was almost worse.

Acing standardized tests and having one or two of my crappier grade school teachers call on me ALL the time (even when I wasn’t raising my hand but other kids were) took a toll on my self-esteem and I spent three or four years in junior high and early high school actually “cheating” on tests to try to get lower grades. Why? I didn’t think I would be able to find a boyfriend if I was too smart. Oh dear… And actually, there were plenty of people who were waaaayyyy smarter than me. Like my friend Rothwell, who took math classes at the local college and went on to a successful career at a big oil company (and is nevertheless humble about his accomplishments). Me? I’ve grown into a kind of a successful failure, if you know what I mean. Maybe a little bit of a female Walter Mitty. And that’s okay. It has to be. It’s who I am.

Would I be different if The Comm had constantly bragged about me? I dunno. I probably would’ve been annoyed if she had done that. Just shaddup and let me go out and do daredevil things on my bike, mooooom…

So when I grew up and became a parent I didn’t brag about my kids either. It isn’t my style and I was always annoyed with parents who constantly bragged. During the beach urchins’ later high school years I often felt like I wanted to slug the next person who bragged about how this or that program at Carnegie Mellon or wherever would be such a good “fit” for their child. (What did their child think?) That was tempered a bit by incidents like the time a parent confided in me that her former wunderkind was currently flunking out of high school via smoking as much pot as he could get his hands on. Or whatever. Shepherding kids through the teenage years is a crap shoot even for the most involved of parents and I sincerely hope that kid has found his way into a successful adulthood.

People are always asking what my mouse is doing and I can’t give them the quick sound-bite answer they want. (Actually I can’t answer any question in a short sound-bite as you might guess by this ongoing diarrhea of the keyboard blahg.) Anyway, in my opinion, Mouse is an artist. I mean that in the broad sense of the word, not something like “she paints pictures”. When she is interested in something, she thoroughly immerses herself in it and learns how to do it well. *One* of the things she has been doing *lately* is gardening. She has planted a garden in my backyard and her tomato plants have been threatening to take over the universe. This morning, I found these two beautiful ripe ‘maters. I posted the photo everywhere in cyberspace and, when I got home from work this afternoon, one of those ‘maters was sitting on my ‘puter.

Thank you Mouse. We already ate it. Love you.


Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

plantstuffIt really should be what they call “high summer” but when you are hanging about in a suburban area, albeit a kinda planet-ey one, it feels like things are gearing up. Umich students are not scheduled to move in to dorms until Sunday or later and the public schools don’t start until after Labor Day (by state law) but all of a sudden the area is clogged with traffic. Hey, I’m just trying to get to work and back, y’all. If you are driving during rush hour and it’s not snowing to beat the band (and it was NOT today), please at least go somewhere approaching the speed limit and not 10 mph below it.

My job is a wee bit slow right now. It happens and you never know, I could get dragged into all kinds of mayhem tomorrow. Today I mostly wrote help pages. Zzzzzzzz… Until Louie-Loui-i-i bugged me at the end of the day about a picture (of a word table) that he needed to paste into his spreadsheet. He is (admittedly) not a Spreadsheet Queen and we went several rounds before I finally managed to get him a picture he could use. I’m a Spreadsheet Queen and I’d’ve prob’ly done something different with his spreadsheet than he did but I like to help folks with technology tools when I can and I was bored with help pages… When I first got this loverly job, I had a hard time with the slow periods. Now I know how to deal with them and that they can be a GOOD thing. Building a bit of slack into the overall schedule is a good thing for our stodgy old industry. We make fewer mistakes. Usually.

Anyway, some people may be looking toward fall but I am just wishing that time would slow down a bit. I have not heard the umich marching band yet. I can hear it over here at The Landfill, which is probably more than two miles away from Elbel and the Big House but we are at a high point in town. When I was a kid running around like a wild Indian on the moominbeach all summer, in August, I was living in the moment and even though school was looming on the horizon, I squeezed as much fun as I could out of summer (except when I was booooorrrrred, of course). When Labor Day rolled around, I was happy to pack all of my stuff back into my bushel basket and ensconce myself in my small but loverly bedroom, organizing everything for a new school year — one that I looked forward to. Until we spent the first month *reviewing* all the stuff we learned the last year… Sigh.

Oh hey, dropping back in to say that I am now following the Umich Marching Band on none other than Twitter! Their season begins today!

Wish I had an onion but I don’t!

Monday, August 19th, 2013

raftingMight make a catchy little tune although I’m not sure why anybody would want to sing about an onion. But then y’all can’t hear the cadence my little once-musician brain has cooked up for those words. Anyway, it’s that season again. One of the best perks at my work besides when Broosie exchanges coffee filters for donuts is when Farmer John brings in his harvest. He sets his produce out on a table in the lunchroom with a price list and a paper cup cash register. Honor system. It works where I work. Where many of the old-time employees kind of grew up together, if you know what I mean. I got corn on the cob and green beans and summer squash today. I’m gonna make a veggie melange outta the squash and some stuff I have around here. Me and TBG made bunches of veggie melange type things this weekend plus her luxurious salads and people just loved it. Life-long carnivores were wondering why anyone needed meat. I could use some onion in tonight’s melange. I don’t *think* FJ had onions there today, if he did, I missed them or I didn’t think I needed them or whatever. We’ll live but onions are on my list.

How stoopid is it for an Info Tech professional (aka meeeeeee) to not have a functional spanner scanner in the house? Pretty stoopid. I used to have a cute little cano-scanner. It was extremely light weight and didn’t even have a power supply. I could just plug it in to a USB port on my MacBook Pro (or whatever it was) and it ran off the computer’s power. I fergit whether it was when I bought a new MacBook whatever or upgraded to a new operating system but my loverly little spanner scanner stopped talking to my ‘puter at one point. We have a printer that scans things but getting it to talk to my ‘puter seems waaaayyyy overly complicated. Anyway, it is now a pain in the you-know-what to span scan things and I am in the market for a new spanner scanner that I can easily hook up to my late model MacBook Pro. Which is showing signs of Bad Trackpad Syndrome. Alas…

Spanner? What? The Commander was an Amazon Woman when it came to using computers. I will never forget when I got my first email from her. It was back in about 1998-99 and she was in her late 70s and I almost fell out of my chair. Us kids had been after the ‘rents to get a computer and wanted to “help”. In the end, she did it all on her own. I can imagine her smirking as we replied to her email. Someday I’ll tell you about the motorsickles. Or not…

Actually, as a teacher back in the 1970s when “computers” were first making little inroads into the schools, she approached the administration because she was *interested* in being trained on them. Mr. F. pooh-poohed the idea that a “home-ec” teacher (aka WOMAN!) would need need to learn computing skills.

She may not have convinced that pompous ass poor excuse for a high school administrator that computers would be useful in “home-ec” classes (hello, 620 shop aka school store that mom started) or for a WOMAN!!! Later in her life she learned how to do all kinds of things on all the personal computing devices and peripherals that she owned, including a spanner scanner, and eventually an iPhone.

I can’t say I much miss trying to talk to mom on the phone that last bunch of months when she was at FV. There were many many many complaints about the food and lack of transportation (aka loss of driving privileges). I commiserated with her on both counts but I was also dead tired of those subjects (and dead tired in general). Two things I do miss about The Comm (among others): 1) getting text messages from her — at age 90! — there are people myyyyy age who don’t do text messages and 2) calling her “scanner” a “spanner”. Correct word or not, she still managed to use the device and I’m not sure that *I* haven’t used “spanner” instead of “scanner” at some point. Tolerance please. When people mis-speak, etc., etc.

Big sky…

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

bigsky…over Houghton Lake. Yes of course this photo is apped! It is apped via Hipstamatic, specifically the Matty ALN lens and Big Up film. No flash — who needs a flash with this sky? I made a commitment to myself a couple years ago to de-clutter my life and one of the things I did was to ditch my digital camera in favor of iPhoneography*. I know that some people kind of pooh-pooh iPhoneography but I regard it only as a different artistic medium than say, film (which some people still use) or other fancier sorts of digital cameras. Of course, I am not calling myself an artist, except in the sense that I think we all strive to be artists in whatever we are passionate about doing. For now, two of my main artistic endeavors are iPhoneography and curating my “collection” aka de-cluttering. Earlier pursuits like music and fiber arts are pretty much on hold for the time being. I still own a flute or two and a piano (or two…) and a dungeon full of fabric.

Enough philosophizing, at least about that stuff.

I was really feeling iffy about going up to the Group Home for the weekend. I’ve been weary of traveling for a couple years now and I was feeling like I needed some good old Planet Ann Arbor time. But The Beautiful Suzie and our lovely GrandmotherTrucker were gonna be there and my own quick green lizard (and some friends) and Jim and his daughter The Beautiful Chelsea and the Uncly Uncle and The Beautiful Gay and the Lord and Lady of Linden spent a quick overnight and how could I have missed that? It was sooooo much fun. The lake was absolutely glorious, as you can see. All weekend. I got some kayaking in too, if only a wee bit.

We made the wrenching decision this afternoon to forgo yet another pontoon boat ride, this one over to the tiki bar. We hemmed and hawed but we knew life would be better tomorrow morning if we had a nice calm evening here at the Landfill. So we launched the Frog Hopper southward.

Then. We got home and I was like, “where is my clothes bag?” That would be the duffel bag I haul my clothing back and forth to the north country with. Answer? Well, it was not in the Frog Hopper. Which meant… Dun dun dun… It was sitting by the back door at the Group Home. I felt a flash of anger about this but it was really just a miscommunication. The GG has been the main vee-hickle packer for the last few years. He *is* good at that (and he tends to travel with more stuff than I do these days, wasn’t always that way), so I have become accustomed to just packing my stuff and putting it out there for him to shoehorn in somewhere. I won’t detail what happened today but I got over the anger pretty quickly. It wasn’t really his fault and it was all my crappy fun clothes and I have multiples of those (yay for owning umpteen gazillion tie-dyed t-shirts and for *wearing* your fave hiking skirt home!). There was not one single article of bizcaz in there so I am good to go. I might have enough unmentionables to get me through… I do own a washing musheen…

Anyway, home now and happy to be able to harvest a wee bit of basil and some rosemary from Mouse’s garden to help dinner along.

*I think the cam is still around and maybe the GG uses it sometimes but I am done done done (dun dun dun) with walking around carrying more than one device.

“I’m not being bossy, I’m just telling you what to do!”

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

canalThat was my dear brother-in-law after telling us we needed to move our you-know-what’s so we could launch the Pontoon Boat properly. And he was right, we needed Bertha Butt up there in the front of the boat. He himself was not on the Pontoon Boat. He had launched his the loverly old Green Boat. For years now, the Green Boat has been an object of great disparagement here at the Group Home. People would say things like, “that old boat won’t ever run”, and “he needs to get rid of that old boat”, and probably even “it’s an eyesore”. Well, guess what. He did get the dern thing running after all these years and he and The Beautiful Chelsea had great fun running it all around Houghton Lake today. So, yay! More boats! The rest of us remained on the Pontoon Boat, which ferried us over to the grokkery and liqwire stores. I can remember The Comm once standing in a grokkery store line with a bunch of ‘hattan juice saying to some guy something like, “This is what you get when you teach your kids to drink Manhattans”. Now I know… [wink]

Oops, here are the Lord and Lady of Linden. I’ll be back.

And I am back! After a cocktail cruise into the north bay and a chaotic but ultimately successful dinner. It ain’t easy with 14 people here or whatever but it reminded me of when I was a beach urchin and many days, after a day of hanging out on the beach, The Comm and Radical Betty and Bubs and The Goddess Esther if she was around would gather at around 3:30 or 4:00 and declare it to be a Community Dinner day. If they needed food, they would shoot up the hill and down to Aunt Jane’s What a Pickle gaaaarage-style market. And we would all eat at the big old table in the old kitchen at the Old Cabin. It was fun and I miss those days and tonight kind of reminded me of them.

Oh, the faaarrrr. Do you really wanta know? When I got up Friday morning, there was a video on the Courtois Family facebook page. Early that morning, a cabin a few doors down, owned by what Grampa Garth used to call “The Schoolteachers”, caught faaaarrr. Suze woke up to about a gazillion faaaartrucks out in the street. The cabin is still standing but it’s pretty much totaled. It was old and the logs were disintegrating and I don’t exactly understand the whole thing but… I’m not gonna say anything more because even though I doubt they have any idea that my stoopid blahg exists, they would not want to be featured on it.

And that whole thing reminded me of the time when I was a teenager and Grandma was still alive and we woke up one morning to see a bunch of bedding in the Old Cabin back yard. What? Grandma only stayed at the Old Cabin with Radical Betty at that time of her life. RB had put her to bed in the main room under an electric blanket. Radical Betty was sleeping on the front porch and something made her wake up at that bat-scope time of the morning. She looked through the window into the main living room to see flames at the foot of Grandma’s bed. The electric blanket had caught fire. RB mobilized immediately, moving Grandma into her own bed on the front porch, putting out the flames and dumping all of the bedding outside the cabin. Not necessarily exactly in that order.Good night,
Kayak Woman

Seeya tomorrow

Friday, August 16th, 2013


This is all yer gittin’ outta me tonight. I’m having toooooo much fun tonight. I’ll tell y’all about the faaaarrrr tomorra.


We are the devils, the mighty mighty devils…

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

knights… Everywhere we go-o, people wanta kno-ow. Who we a-are, so-o we tell ’em. We are the devils… I woke up this morning remembering the words to that cheer. It was used on the feetsball field but it was also yelled out on every dern band bus I was ever on. Especially the junior high band bus. I was in the high school band when I was in seventh grade. The junior high school was attached to the high school and music teachers were few and far between in those days, so if you were good enough to get into the high school band as a junior high student, you were in the band. Not to brag but I was probably good enough to be in the high school band when I was about a 5th grader. I stayed pretty quiet in 7th grade even though Mr. Diecke put me above the other 7th graders in chair placement but in 8th grade I started challenging for chairs and I beat out at least one 12th grader.

So, the junior high band bus was great fun. The first time I rode it, in 7th grade, my old man actually gave me a bunch of pennies to play poker with. Yes, poker. He had played the trombone back in the 1930s and that’s what they did on the band bus back in those days. I played poker with my pennies but I don’t remember if I won or lost. I do remember that after that year, poker for pennies was no longer allowed on any band bus. “Politically correct” was not a known term in those days but it was coming down the pike and the powers that be decided that poker for pennies was not an appropriate band bus activity. It was okay, we found other obnoxious things to do.

In high school I preferred to ride the older kid type bus. I was sick of the fart jokes and it was a lot quieter and we didn’t yell out the old Blue Devil cheers too often. My main memory of riding the high school band bus was once when I was in 12th grade and I was definitely first seat in the flute section and the parents were in Hawaii and the Engineer and I were staying at Don and Katie’s house. I drove the Engineer and I to school in my grandma’s old Ford Fairlane that she didn’t drive any more. I forget exactly what happened but we were on a bus back from a band festival in Escanaba or someplace and I had a date with my boyfriend when I got back. I forget how many buses there were but our bus broke down somewhere in the yooperland and they had to send a new one out. I had a chance to ride home with some Soo parents coming along in a car but I decided I needed to stay with my bro’, even though he really didn’t need me at all, being there with Matt and Joel and Weidrich and whoever, he was probably having a great time and maybe they were even playing penny poker without anyone knowing. We eventually got back to Siberia and I still went out with my boyfriend. Don and Katie were much less concerned with what time I got home than my parents were [grin].

We went to Knight’s tonight. Man oh man, was it crowded! We put our name in and then hung out at the bar. We were told 35 minutes but it was longer than that but we eventually got seats *at* the bar and ended up eating right there. I am no doubt repeating myself but Knight’s is building another restaurant downtown in the old Jacobsons / Borders space. I think they will go for a slightly different demographic down there. I think “our” Knight’s will continue to be successful and I think the downtown Knight’s will thrive too. I will probably post about this again. Somehow it makes me want to jump up and down with glee!

How ’bout them Red Owls

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

redowlsHere it is. I dunno, dooya think there are any sports teams out there who go by the Red Owls? Up there in Sault Ste. Siberia, we were the Blue Devils. “We are the devils, the mighty mighty devils. Da da da da da-dah…” I used to love going to feetsball games and cheering for the Blue Devils. And marching with my piccolo* in the Sault High marching band. Snow anyone? Lose your shoe in the mud? So much fun. That was all before I became jaded about high-profile team sports though. I couldn’t care less nowadays.

I have two main memories of the old Red Owl grokkery store. One was when Radical Betty used to take my rather eccentric great aunt (RB’s aunt) out to buy grokkeries once a week. Great Aunt, who was quite religious, would spend some time inserting little religious papers into greeting cards. Radical Betty, who was definitely not religious, would hang around and wait for her to do that. We would all laugh (in a family-type good-natured we-love-this-person) way when RB told these stories.

My other memory is when the then mom of teenagers, aka The Commander, locked bumpers in the parking lot with “an old lady”, as The Comm called her. It was *not* The Comm’s fault and she was *steaming* when she got home. I fergit what happened after that but now that that teenager is a baggy old kayak woman and The Comm is dead, I remember the few vee-hickle escapades she had the last couple years of her life. I will not detail them here. They were (mostly) pretty minor two mph parking lot kinds of things and I know how embarrassed she was.

What did I do when we (mom and I) lost (in her house) the driver’s license she obtained legally when she turned 90? I scared up enough documentation to prove her identity, took her over to the Secretary of State, and helped her get a new one. Did I let her drive again? No, I did not. Did I let her have a set of car keys? Yes, I did, and a Dillon Street garage door opener too. But I locked her car in the cabin garage where she couldn’t get to it without help. This was before there were efforts afoot to keep people from voting without an ID but I won’t go there right now. I do know who The Comm wanted to vote for in the 2012 elections but she wasn’t able to vote by that time…

I was not the best mother but I read to my kids (and anyone else who would listen) constantly and I did Dark Walk with my Mouse. I think both of those things cancel out all of the fluorescent orange Mac ‘n’ Cheese boxes I cooked for my kids as well as the times I yelled at them, etc. I was a pretty horrible daughter for the most part (except for the grandchildren) but I tried to be respectful of The Comm’s dignity as she declined.

Not sure how I got here but g’night and Go Blue Devils. Go Red Owls too, if you exist somewhere. Or not. Fun archaeological stuff at work today!

*The piece o’ shit school-owned piccolo that my parents actually PAID out of their own pocket to send away for repair. Thanks, Jack & Fran.

Higgledy-piggledy Piggly Wiggly

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

oldcabinI didn’t know what the heck to write about today. It was a kind of higgledy-piggledy day and a couple of really good things happened at work (oh, no big raise or anything, just little things) and then all the way home, I kept getting stuck behind vee-hickles whose drivers were drovening 10 mph below the speed limit. Or taking forever to enter an intersection after the light turned greeeeeeeen. I’m sorry but: 1) put down the damn phone and 2) If you are not capable to drive competently due to extremely advanced age, putchyer Lincoln in the gaaaa-rage and give it up. (We’ll see how happy I am about giving up driving some day. Except that I will NEVER own a Lincoln! Well, except maybe for that Lincoln that passes the Edmund Fitz in that old hot-rod Lincoln song.)

Higgledy-piggledy led to Piggly Wiggly and my mind went off on a tangent about the grokkery stores I grew up with. There was the A&P. We went there most often. It was a couple blocks away from my grandparents’ house and just across the street from the Boult house, where I spent a lot of time with my friend Helen. Over on Superior Street, we weren’t within easy walking distance of the AP (as grandma used to call it) but that’s where we often shopped. But we also shopped at the Red Owl. It was down by Brady Park and last I looked, it was a Border Patrol stronghold. I was out in the gaaa-rage sifting through The Comm’s stuff not too long ago and there was a bunch of stuff in a big Red Owl box. I had a moment of panic just now. Did I get rid of that Red Owl box? I think I had a plan to disperse its contents and break it up and throw it in the recycle. Why? At least without taking a picture of it? It’s okay. I have had NOOOOOO time to deal with any of The Comm’s stuff that we brought down here last time. It is in Mouse’s old room. Whew!

The Piggly Wiggly? We didn’t go there often. I don’t know why. There was something about that store that fascinated me. I fergit what. Something about how the carts were corralled. I dunno, when I was a young child, I often did a very light-weight version of parkour (google it). The Piggly Wiggly provided possibilities that I never acted on.

Anyway, this is the cabin that my grandparents built back in the 1920s. May it stand forever.

Me and my photobomber

Monday, August 12th, 2013

kwdancing<boring>Got to work last Thursday after some vacay and faaaarfox was gone — gone, yes gone, I’m told it happened without warning during a meeting. Okay, I can still use IE, roight? Well, sorta but not but I finally got on after a whole buncha re-a-starts and I opened up a support ticket and they didn’t respond to me for whatever reason (maybe because a whole buncha other folks have the same blasted problem) and then things kind of improved so I forgot about it — until I got in there today and had some of the same problems but I eventually got on to IE today and then we lost connectivity to the web and our internal server and that was a different problem and the prediction for getting it fixed was TOMORROW!!!! so I worked from home for the afternoon. Or tried to because at first IE was sorta kinda working okay and I could get to both the corporate server and the internet and then I couldn’t get anywhere and and and and that lasted for the last two hours of the day. Monday, Monday… I got sooooo much work done today (not).</boring>

I don’t totally love this photoooo but it’s okay enough that I made it my facebook profile pic for the time being. I do NOT know who the photobomber is. He may (or may not) be checking out somebody’s butt but I can assure you it is not mine. Baggy as I am, I am not sure that my butt is all that bad but that dance floor was filled with gorgeous young 20/30-somethings who love to dance. I am sure he was looking at somebody else’s butt or face or whatever. Who knows. Me? I was dancing with my daughters and nieces and sisters-in-law and a coupla times, even my husband. But not The Lord of Linden, blast it all because he is so much fun. But we’ll get out there again. We are all so much fun, aren’t we?