Archive for December, 2013

I love this planet

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

I was extra grumpy about New Year’s Eve this year. The plan was to galumph downtown for dinner and a ‘hattan, a little walking around, another ‘hattan somewhere else, then home. It’s colder than usual this New Year’s and although I am no wimp about cold weather, I had to kick myself in the you-know-what to get going. You know it turned out okay, don’t you? Here we are at the Red Hawk sipping ‘hattans (and photographing them…), waiting for our duck quesadillas (yes, I do like quesadillas).


This isn’t just your average every day Planet Ann Arbor New Year’s Eve. They have flooded the “Big House” for a hockey game between the Dee-troit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow.


Some people didn’t seem to quite get that there was a big game tomorrow and kind of pooh-poohed the idea that there would be a whole lot of people downtown tonight but our fair planet was ready!


What a crowd! Slightly different than the usual football crowd. I can’t explain why exactly except maybe that I was surrounded by Canadian accents. I definitely felt at home walking around wearing my backpack with the big Canadian maple leaf on the back.


Of course I *am* right at home here on the planet and I wear that backpack all over the place, mostly to schlep grokkeries home from the Plum Market. In the end, the GG let me wimp out like he always does. We had a nightcap ‘hattan at the Grizzly Peak and as I was putting my YakTrax back on for the long uphill snow-slodge back to the Landfill, some young whippersnapper walked up to the bar and ordered four Jagers! Jeeesh! His night was just getting started. An end to mine was in sight. Home and a second shower and just a wee bit of whine to end the evening.

Happy New Year!
Kayak Woman

P. S. It’s cold out there. Wear a blasted hat!

Girls can’t jump

Monday, December 30th, 2013

iceThis is really the first winter Olympics with a women’s ski jumping event? REALLY?

I’m thinking about the old ski jump at Minneapolis Woods up in Sault Ste. Siberia. Back when I was a kid, there was a skating rink, a warming shack, a rope tow (a pretty fast one if my memory is accurate), and a SKI JUMP! There was a sound system that blasted tunes out onto the slopes while people were skiing. There was a lot of 60s rock and “Wipe Out” was a fave but I’m sure that the management needed to accommodate all ages, etc., so there was frequently a yodeling album (or whatever) in the rotation.

Winters in Sault Ste. Siberia… Sigh. When I was in junior high, so many nights, I would schlep my downhill skis, poles and boots up the alley behind our humble home on Superior Street walking toward The Rion in the sky and Minneapolis Woods on earth. We had so much fun skiing at Minneapolis Woods, going up the rope tow and down the hill forever, all the while listening to the music and watching those brave men (and yes there were women) climb up to the top of the ski jump and fly down it. I don’t remember any accidents at all. Those kids knew what they were doing and it was fun times. (No, I did not jump!)

Sshhh. Minneapolis Woods was also a place for junior high kids to rather surreptitiously meet up with, you know [wink wink] Romantic Interests. Oh, not me. Not that I didn’t have little crushes on some of the boys that showed up to ski. I just always thought that they wouldn’t be interested in me. I was in 8th grade for most of this, ROIGHT?

I had friends who did meet boyfriends up at Minneapolis Woods. Once I was up there with a friend and her [bad] boyfriend, when my old coot came to pick me (and my skis) up. Somebody tried to hitch a ride on the back of my old coot’s car and my dad somehow managed to shake that person off without injuring him. Friend’s boyfriend noted that Mr. Fin, the Bank Manager, was a good driver. Well, yes, he was, he also flew planes, etc. AND HE WAS MY DAD!!! I’m not sure that kid even knew that.

To my parents, who worried so much about me all those years ago when I was a junior high kid schlepping ski equipment up to Minneapolis Woods. I liked a few of the boys who hung out there. I bet a few of those guys liked me too. We were too shy to say that to each other. I never had a boyfriend at Minneapolis Woods, as much as I may have wanted one. The boyfriends I had back in those days were not skiers.

I didn’t marry a ski-jumper but I did marry a cross-country skier. I think that I am probably a better yodeler than a skier.

Note to self: the next time you are in Sault Ste. Siberia and staying at the Hotel Ojibway, walk up to Minneapolis Woods!

In the zone

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

zoneYesterday was such a glorious day. And then there was, well, today. Photoshop auto-corrected the color in the zone photooo to something a little brighter and whiter and that was probably accurate but this kind of gray-blue cast is more what I remember about this morning so I canceled the auto-correct.

I didn’t sleep well last night, mainly because we forgot to turn down the thermostat at the Group Home and I woke up at that Batscope Hour hot and thirsty. I took care of the thirst issue directly but the thermostat is downstairs and I couldn’t quite muster the focus to walk down the stairs and around to the back hall and TURN THE DAMN THING DOWN! I got *back* to sleep only to conjure up nightmares involving people who are on the other side. You do not want to know and fortunately I have only a fleeting memory. That dream woke me up and of course by then I needed to visit the water closet. Variations on a theme, anyone?

Even though it was dark when I got up, I could tell that the weather was taking a downward turn. We hadn’t talked about skiing this morning. I think we both assumed we would ski if the conditions were any good. I took a walk to test the “waters”. Ice ice ice. Not a total sheet of ice exactly but enough slippery spots that if I hadn’t had the foresight to strap on my YakTrax, I would have returned for them.

I made the executive decision that we would not ski today. I texted the GG from way around the point. Something like, “Whaddya think? Little Boots? Icy.” Little Boots is our Houghton Lake equivalent of a Cowboy Bar. It does not serve beer. It has a sign that proclaims something like, “There’s one meal of the day without beer. It’s called breakfast.” I love Little Boots. I always order the Gunslinger Quesadilla, which comes cut in thirds. I eat two of the thirds and box the other for breakfast the next morning.

The GG was okay with my executive decision. (Don’t tell anyone but I actually think he overdid things a bit yesterday.) We went back to the Group Home, packed and cleaned up and were driving out just as the temperatures were diving down into the 20s accompanied by a loverly freezing mist. Perfect Black Ice driving conditions. The I75 SUV Speedway was pretty okay actually. We bailed off of it at exit 202 to take M13 for a while but that was just because we *like* to take M13 sometimes, past The Big Mouse at Wilson’s Cheese Shop and other attractions. We merged back onto the I75 SUV Speedway just north of Bay City and had dry roads from there.

I watched the temperature inch from 25 up to 42 throughout the day. Now we’re down to 27. Yes, cold weather is returning. And possible ice around The Planet Ann Arbor tonight. Everyone be careful driving.

*Those* muscles. The ones you don’t use often enough…

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

I am probably a pretty lame x-c skier in the grand scheme of things. A couple hours this morning was enough for me. It was the first ski of the year and climbing the first [wimpy] hill damn near killed me. After that? I was okay and so were the other 5-6 hills. Go figger. But at the end of it I was done for the day. I wasn’t all that tired. Just wanted to do some other things today. Also the temperatures were in the 30s and with that blinding light from the UFO orb shown below, I knew the snow would get wet and sloppy this afternoon. Also crowded with people. On my morning ski, I encountered one person besides the GG.


I had other things to do? Yes, I did! Like snow-shoe out on the ice and visit with the residents of the seasonal shanty town. (The GG expressed a desire to walk across the lake to the liqwire store but I squelched that. Sounded too much like a Death March to me.) The ice on Houghton Lake is a foot thick! That is unusual for the end of December. It’s plenty thick enough to support a couple of measly little snow-shoers not to mention sno-mos, ATVs, and probably even trucks. I LOVE my new snow-shoes! I can even get them on and off without help!


Here’s a gratuitous shot of the Cfam Group Home just after I climbed back up onto land from the lake. There used to be a much more rustic cabin on this property. A few years after The Gumper died, a bunch of his children [reluctantly!] decided the old place was too hard to maintain so they knocked it down and built this loverly place and share it amicably. There are a lot of things I miss about the old place but I have to admit that I don’t particularly miss pumping water, throwing buckets of water down the toilet, or using a camping shower in the winter. (Well, actually I do kind of miss pumping water.)


Late afternoon UFO sun. I could’ve obsessed about getting a sunset pic but I am taaaarrrred in that loverly fuzzy kind of way where long-dormant muscles have been used and my boots are soaking wet and I decided I would just miss the sunset. I do love the shadows in this pic.


Black hole sun

Friday, December 27th, 2013

blackholesunDriving up to the Group Home at Houghton Lake this morning, we were kibbitzing about whether or not anyone was there. We had no idea, so I checked the Group Home webcam. Nobody was up there (yet) but there was this loverly black hole sun photo so I posted it on facebook and got a goodly number of likes and comments. Not that I am a like/comment whore at all ’cause I am not but it was still fun.

So, on facebook, The Beautiful Joanny said something about black hole sun. Yaknow, if you spent the late 1990s like I did, driving the Beauteous Island Teal POC around the Planet Ann Arbor with varying numbers of teenagers and tweens in it, you probably had 89.5 (or whatever it was) on the radio and Black Hole Sun was definitely on rotation. I don’t know what the kids actually thought about that song but I liked it. But I liked most of that old 1990s music.

We had dinner over at the Riviera Resort tonight and I tried to play the Black Hole Sun video for the GG on my iPhone. He didn’t recognize it at all, even though he was holding the iPhone speaker right up next to his ear. Maybe he didn’t spend as much time driving kids around in the POC back in the 1990s? Or maybe he spent that driving time calculating numbers to the 13th power in his head to tune out the radio. Or maybe he simply couldn’t hear the video because the folks at the next table were drowning it out singing along with the lounge singer’s rendition of Sweet Caroline. (Hey, I was just about ready to join in!)

Even though nobody was at Houghton Lake when we got here, The Lord and Lady of Linden and their left coast son (our nephew) joined us at the Riviera for dinner and we are all now happily settled in at the Group Home for the night. Ski Ranch in the morning!

Good night,
Kayak Woman

Not too shabby fer gubmint work

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

plumbersantaHere’s yer fav-o-rite gubmint employee moonlighting as a plumber. Too bad he doesn’t get paid for moonlighting because he’s pretty dern good at plumbing. Here’s his temporary xmas day fix and I took this photooo today as he was off to the hardware store (after working a full day for the, you know, gubmint) to get a *real* part.

I grew up in a household where an overflowing terlet was cause for Great Alarm and Panic. Bzzzzt! Bzzzzzt! Bzzzzt! Warning warning! Danger Will Robinson! I was TERRIFIED that the terlet would overflow! After a few years hannnnnngggging around with the CFam, dumping buckets of water down the old HL terlet in the winter, I got pretty damn good at wielding a terlet plunger. 98% of the time, that’s all you need to unclog a terlet. Another 1% of the time, a Courtois boy can handle it. The last 1% you actually need to call a certified plumber. It takes an extraordinary situation for a Courtois boy to give up on a plumbing problem (or even an ancient oil furnace) but I have seen them do it.

And so, I worked from home again today. I can remember a Christmas season when I more or less kind of “shut down” between Christmas and sometime after the new year. I was soooooo taaaarrred! That was a long time ago when the Hot Lava Girls were teenagers and there was no reason for it. Just a psychological thing. I didn’t have a nice paid career at that time. Not this year! Xmas was loverly and I had fun and tons of energy and *today*, I got one heckuva lot of creative design work done (pictures / flowcharts and the like, the groundwork for my current work of art functional spec). Plus I ran a load of laundry and set Roooomba off to clean floors. That was all while kibbitzing with the beach urchins as they packed up their xmas stuff (and laundry (I love when they bring their laundry here)) and headed off to their own jobs / homes, etc.

The GG is down in the Dungeon right now installing the real part. I know it will work. If it doesn’t he will fix it!

P. S. Don’t fergit to jiggle the handle!

P. S. S. I did my last load of laundry at my moom’s house back in July or August…

Merry Christmas Are we having fun yet?

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013


The GG:

(1) slow running bathtub drain
(2) remove hair from drain
(3) clog of hair goes slips down drain and completes pipe blockage; bathtub will not drain
(4) attempt to snake out drain pipe
(5) metal snake pokes hole in drain trap and water runs into basement (I did put a bucket under trap in the basement just in case of such an event)
(6) remove “holy” drain trap (holey)
(7) have devil of a time snaking out long horizontal drain pipe ; smelly black crud and hair
(8) hardware stores are closed – make temporary repair to drain trap
(9) everything is back in working order – the temporary fix works really well; will install new trap tomorrow.
(10) Merry Christmas; It kept me busy.

Okay, that wasn’t *all* that happened today. Here’s Gertrude humming along making eggs benny:


Late morning samosas mimosas:


Twitter play:
@tmotu: Who’s in charge of making the samosas?
@kayakwoman: Samosas???
@mouseleen and/or @elizilla: Did you mean *mimosas*?

Also note the loverly red glass dish holding the paper whites (do NOT notice the Froogs! They hog enough attention!*). I received (thankfully!) a small number of carefully chosen *useful* gifts (and yes, I did get my coveted new snowshoes). And this beautiful dish, which Mouse snagged at Treasure Mart. I told her that she was lucky she managed to snag it before Broooosie got there. Colored glass items occupy a small section of my “most coveted items” list. I wouldn’t say I am a serious collector, in fact (as you know if you are a regular reader) I am in a deacquisitional, anti-hoarding phase of life. But I LOVE this dish and you will NOT find it on eBay!

Finally, this may not be the Lyme Lounge but it does emulate the good old Little Princess, except for the red.


*Some penguin posted a bottle of Dead Guy Whiskey on facebook and the last time I saw Froooggy, he was stumbling out to his Flyin’ Musheen drunkenly caterwauling about whiskey and listerine and londry detergent. Folks out on the Left Coast, beware if you see Buoy 22 coming your way. It is NOT Sandy Claws!

That moment when it’s the Batscope Hour and somebody is bumping around in your house…

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

sunAnd it’s not you… Was it the GG? He has been known to rummage around in the wee hours. Nope. I didn’t panic and reach for my gun. I am a gun owner but I have never shot one. I don’t even know where my damn gun is. It’s okay. Everything was all right. I didn’t even panic. I remembered my Dee-troit beach urchin saying something about coming over on Monday. I looked out the window and sure enough, there was Ruby out in the street. Monday? Actually it was well into Tuesday by then. Actually, it was pretty much past the Batscope Hour even, seeing as it was less than an hour before the time I habitually get up. One of her BFFs is “home” for the holly-days so I’m sure they were out “whooping” it up somewhere. But yikes! The extra bedroom is a MESS!!! And there’s a BIG Secret in there. I bumbled around apologizing for the mess.

Shades of the past. Back in the day, people came in and out of The Landfill at all hours of the day and night. I usually left the door unlocked. People (friends too) made a certain noise when they came in. No, I won’t say what it was. I had my Moom Moments. The ones where you wake up and it’s 3:00 AM and your college kid is not home yet. I didn’t panic as much about that kind of stuff as my parents did. Usually. But then, back when I was a kid, nobody had a cell phone. At any rate, I can still remember the sound of The Indefatigable turning into the neighborhood and driving up the street. Yes, I could hear it from three blocks away. On the nights my mom-dar was all lit up, I knew my kid was home and I could relax.

So I did get up less than an hour after that and… Skunk Walk, trip to the Jackson Road Meijer (still dark), walk to Plum Market, drive downtown, bake Chex mix and pita chips, downtown with Lizard for bibimbap at Kosmo, home again, walk to Plum Market [again], pre-cook stuff for dinner, Sinking Spell [kee-rash] with xword puzz.

So we got to Kosmo for bibimbap and found a booth and man oh man, I was blinded by the light! Where did this object come from? A facebook friend suggested it might be a UFO. At any rate, we sure haven’t seen Mr. Golden Sun for a while. I spent my Sinking Spell basking in the sun by my front window.

Everybody’s here now. All four of us. Faaar in the faarplace. Eggplant P in Gertrude’s top oven. Bread that Mouse brought to cook in her bottom oven. Mouse’s coffee shop for morning and yes yes yes, I have the ingredients for mimosas.

We wish you a merry Christmas!

“Snowy and Snowy are here. It’s time!”

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

snowysnowyYay for spacification! I love to work. I love to schlep myself over to Cubeland every day. One of the downsides is that I am rarely home alone in my house. I was feeling just a weeeeee bit panicky about the Christmas holiday over the last week or so. Today I worked from home. Before the Queen Bee left for her vacation, I promised her that I would be an ACH expert when she returned and I am getting there.

Working from home allowed me to get started a lot earlier than when I schlep over to Cubeland. I took my Skunk Walk and then I got to work, taking mini-breaks to eat and start rooooomba up, wrap a package or two (literally), and sort a bitsy load of laundry. I knocked off around three. I needed some grokkeries of the sort that I couldn’t really schlep home in a backpack. Okay, I’ll just go to Meijer. So I saddled up the Ninja and headed out to Meijer. Oh, yeah. You don’t just *go* to Meijer at three in the afternoon two days before Christmas. Oh, there were a few parking places left but I thought about how long the line to the uscan would be and I decided to bag it. I took the slow route home along the river and spent the rest of the afternoon pre-cooking stuff for our minimalist xmas dinner. It’ll be a whole heckuva a lot easier to “just go to Meijer” after my Skunk Walk tomorrow morning.

In general, I am not as “panicky” (that’s a relative term) about Christmas as I usually am. I’ve made enough progress organizing and de-hoarding The Landfill that I can [sometimes] breathe just a bit. I actually curated no less than *three* little Christmas displays in the Front Room out of a combination of my stuff and The Comm’s stuff. The refrigimatator is not totally jam-packed with stuff. The Commander’s xmas cookie recipes (and a few new ones I found on Pinterest…) are insinuating themselves into my consciousness.

I’m not doing much more about Christmas except for things I already had on my agenda. I’m taking tomorrow off. It’ll be one of the two vacation days I have left. It’s fine. I know that I have readers who are facing a much more difficult holiday than I am. It is my firm belief that winter celebrations that fall near the winter solstice are all about warmth and light. I hope y’all have both of those things and much more.

In peace and good will,
Kayak Woman

No, this is not a tick!

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

notatickUpon close inspection via the GG’s microscope, we have definitely determined that. (This is actually a hi-res scan, not a photo via the microscope). And yes, the GG knows just enough about microscopes and ticks to be dangereuse! Actually I think he knows more about ticks than he wants to.

Moving on… Everyone agrees that the Ice Storm was largely a non-event here in Washtenaw County. This morning there was a thin layer of wet slushy stuff that required me to do my Skunk Walk in YakTrax, mainly because it was too dark to *see* exactly what I was walking on.

Picked away at small tasks all day, mostly cooking ahead, bits and pieces of shopping and cleaning. And surfing the net. Looking for Boat Books (don’t ask). Looking for the cutest mouse architect book ever. Why did I not know about this book when the beach urchins were young? I most certainly would’ve bought that book. $348? I am not quite that level of collector. ($100 maaaayyyybeeeee… eee… eee… On a good day. Not $348. Kee-reist!) I’ll keep watching… And I’ll start saving my pennies up in Trunky, who I believe is still around here somewhere, at least I didn’t get rid of him.

Italian Cucidata… I received a request for this cookie recipe late last night and, wallah voila! I was able to dredge the recipe up outta my hard drive in seconds or thereabouts and send it off! Italian Cucidata are xmas cookies that The Commander used to make. She ground up candied fruit in her grinder and wrapped little bits of that whole mess in dough, sprinkled them with little colored balls, and baked them.

The Commander had a whole series of Christmas cookies that she used to make and maybe I will try to wrap my brain around that and blahg about it one of these days. This exchange of emails got me wondering where the heck my mom’s old grinder ended up. In the months after her death I got rid of quite a bit of her stuff but that was mostly clothing or furniture that wasn’t useful to anyone in the fam and I didn’t have a personal connection to. (Aka, I am not a hoarder.) I know that I would not have gotten rid of that grinder, at least not right away. It probably either came from the farmhouse she grew up in over in Garden City or was given to her as a wedding present. I found grinders that looked a lot like hers on eBay (and a new one at Cabela’s), not that I would actually buy one. Maybe *she* got rid of it (but I don’t think so). If she did, it’s okay with me. Or maybe I just haven’t encountered it yet…

Pooh, if you do end up making Italian Cucidata and you have more than you need, send a few of them my way. If you have time and you don’t have to go out of your way too much. And only a few. Love you cuzzint.

Be a good little girl scout and be prepared.

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Man and boy, what a long day. But not without some good fun. Do you know that by something like 8:15 AM, I had taken my usual 0-skunk-30 hike, put gas in the Ninja and bought a decent load of grokkeries out at the Jackson Road Meijer? After which I embarked on my usual Saturday-type chores, mainly changing the sheets, doing a few loads of laundry including the sheets and shower curtains, vacuuming and whatever else. Today, wrapping a few packages and throwing together a lasagne for the annual Cfam Christmas bash were on the agenda.

I was kind of freaked out about the Christmas bash this year. It was being held at our nephew’s house in New Baltimore, which is a pretty long drive from here plus we decided to swing by Detroit and pick up Lizard Breath along the way. Of course, freezing rain was predicted. I really wanted to be *home* tonight (and I am) but I was *prepared* to camp out on the floor in New Baltimore if worse came to worst.

As it turned out, we drove through a deluge of water all the way over there and back but even though the temperatures hovered just above freezing, we never encountered ice. Well, it was just a weeeee bit slippery underfoot in our driveway when we got home, but it wasn’t like when you get out of your car and promptly fall on your butt.

As I write this, various relatives are reporting in to the Cfam facebook group that they have made it home safely. I’m glad we didn’t have to turn this event into a slumber party even though I will have extra some unpacking to do tomorrow. I have a lot to do tomorrow. I’m sure everyone else does too.

I could blather on forever about the party and the Santa Anarchists who came in at the end and my own depravity but I’ll cut that short. Can I just tell you how blessed I am to have such a wonderful bunch of in-laws to play with? Thanks to our nephew for hosting and his mom for all of her hard work pulling it all together. Love you all!

Duck duck sploosh

Friday, December 20th, 2013

glassThinking all day about what I very clumsily tried to articulate last night about the duck dynasty. I do not think what the duck dad said about gay folks was okay. I won’t try to take on the first amendment here. I am not a blasted lawyer rock thrower. The thing is that people *do* say things like that and I think at least some of those people believe in what they are saying. What I want to ask when I hear statements like that is, “Have you ever *met* a gay / black / Muslim / whatever person? Alien from Zephron 3? Someone who is somehow *different* than you?”

I think our society has a long way to go when it comes to accepting people who we perceive as different than us for whatever reason. I don’t think that racial slurs or nasty comments about religion or gender orientation are ever acceptable. But I also think it’s somewhat counterproductive to sling rocks at folks who make those statements without trying to understand where they are coming from. Why do they think that and what might it take to change their viewpoint?

I’m not sure if all of that made any more sense than the disorganized bunch of blather I wrote last night. It’s probably best if I just write about the weather and what I had for lunch and so I will. Man oh man, I do not think it is QUITE the shortest day of the year yet but it certainly was the darkest! Foggy ALL day as our snow melted. Rain in the late afternoon and evening. I wore my red Keens with Smartwool socks over tights on my walk down to the Oscar Tango. It was well after sundown when I left the Landfill at 5:20 or so. It rained on and off, sometimes hard, and navigating the terrain was a mixed bag. Street or sidewalk? Gingerly mincing through bits of leftover slippery slush. Splashing into puddles that turned out to be deeper than they looked. Diving out of the way of motorized traffic, knowing that I was almost invisible, except maybe when I had my umbrella opened up. My feet were wet when I got downtown. They were also warm! Home again, clean and dry after taking an evening shower, my second today. Thank the gods for huge freshwater lakes.

Good night,
Kayak Woman

Duck duck goose (or insert your fav-o-rite error aminal)

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

froghopperNo, this is not the result of an accident, unless you count a baggy old kayak woman INCHING as far as she can into her own personal parking place now that there is a big snowbank in front of it. I texted a photoooo of this to the GG with “?” as the only text. Of course, when he replied with something akin to “WTF”, I sent a second message assuring him that there had been no accident. He thinks that this little piece of trim (or whatever it is) was “glued” on but there are holes for bolts that never got installed. Likely he is right but I am still gonna look around for bolts in my parking place tomorrow.

Do you watch Duck Dynasty? I do not. Not that I haven’t ever indulged in Bad TV. I discovered Honey Boo Boo back in the winter of 2012 when The Commander was sick and entered hospice and I was stuck up in the yooperland, luxury camping in her house. When I first got there, the GG was with me and then when he had to leave, npJane came up to hang out with me and UKW flew all the way from the PacNW. Although she was there for me, I know that she made that pilgrimage to say goodbye to The Commander. I remember those days as a dark swirl of snow, schlepping down the escarpment in winter clothes and YakTrax before dawn most mornings, Christmas lights and YouTube videos at Command Central by night. Dark dark dark.

I wanted and needed people around me. I was kind of afraid to be alone in The Comm’s house. Eventually we got The Comm situated in hospice at Freighter View and I faced a period of time when I was alone in her house. I think I tried to cry when the GG left. But I was okay. I schlepped up and down the escarpment to Freighter View every day. There were people there to take care of her physical needs (which I really could not do and she didn’t WANT me to!!!). It was getting a little lighter outside. At night there was Bad TV. Honey Boo Boo. Self-absorbed, vacuous sorority gals. Whatever. I don’t think Duck Dynasty was around at that time.

I have mixed feelings about shows like Duck Dynasty (and remember, I have never watched it). It’s kind of like “Escanaba in Da Moonlight” for me. I just couldn’t get into that movie (it might’ve been better as a play, which is what it started as). My experience growing up in the yooperland had nothing to do with deer hunting. I was brought up “properly” to excel at school, go to church, and appreciate the arts. We lived in the woods (and on the beach) in the summer. Walking through the woods on our own beaten trails between the cabins (or down to the Three Sisters or the Fox Holes or even all the way Doelle’s) was just part of life. Nowadays I walk the North Country Trail and any other good trail I can get my feet on whenever I can. I am okay with deer hunting. I just don’t do it.

I have lost my train of thought here but I don’t really care what happens with the Duck Dynasty guy who made anti-gay statements. I disagree with whatever it was that he said (I am shielded by NPR news) but I am sorta more concerned that folks like this are making gazillions of dollars misrepresenting the citizens of the state in which they live. I continue to be taaaared when people find out that I am a yooper and stereotype me, even though I have always had relatives in lower Michigan and have resided on The Planet Ann Arbor for many many years. [And people stereotype me about *that* too. No, I do NOT grow pot in the back yard here!] But then, if Duck Dynasty is truly reality TV, people should be able to say what they think. I might abhor it and so might you but if we are going to go on into the future without strife, we have to talk…

What channel is Duck Dynasty on? I should watch it.

Where is that Green Guy when I need him?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

xmasgiftI know where he is. He spent a year or thereabouts down here on The Planet Ann Arbor but he is back home now and I think he belongs there. I think his owner is kind of hiding and I don’t blame him, I’ve been hiding a bit too. I do miss Green Guy and I miss his owner but I bet they are spreading good cheer to their friends in the yooperland and I love them for that.

I *always* seem to have a Christmas Crisis day. I think that day is today. I have hit the wall. Got home and was greeted with, “What do you want for Christmas?” Well, other than some nice new MODERN snowshoes and the iPhone 5S that I already have, NOTHING!!! Please please please please don’t buy me that fancy new [$700] Rooomba! I LOVE that Roooomba. But I am not READY for it yet. I already have a cute little Roooomba (and three or four other vacuum cleaners) and I am thinking something like, “Where will I put it?”

I do not need to sit around and open presents on Christmas morning. It was fun when I was a kid. It was fun watching my kids open presents. But I do not neeeeeeed anything! What I dooooo [finally] want to do is remodel my damn chitchen. I want that prodject to be taken seriously and I want to start it after the holidays. I do not really care when it gets done but I long for the chance to reorganize this space so I can fit a few more of The Commander’s things in it and maybe even, uh, buy a couple or three new items. I think I will even get a new dishwasher. Even though I am a compulsive hand dish-washer, I’ve come full circle on that. I think I want one with drawers though.

To make matters worse, I do not really have a whole lot of things for [most] other people. The person asking the question has asked for exactly TWO things. I have been procrastinating about shopping (because I HATE to shop!), therefore, I cannot find one of those things, at least not one that meets that person’s requirements. So I had to ask for alternate requirements… And then I could not FIND the photoooo that he texted me for the other item, so I had to ASK HIM TO RESEND IT!!! Am I lame or what? (Don’t answer that!)

On top of everything else, the GG feels “sore-throaty” today. Oh joy. Please do not give it to me!!! Alas, I know enough about how communicable diseases work that I know I will get it unless my kick-ass immune system randomly decides to kick it out. At least it isn’t a damn vomiting virus. Respiratory viruses usually don’t keep me from walking or working or enjoying life.

Brrr Hum-bah

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

pinetreesnowOh, not really, just wondering how I am gonna fit the few holiday tasks I have assigned myself into the remaining days. I thought I had three (count ’em) more days of paid time off (besides sick time, I have a lot of that). Something didn’t seem right though. I knew that Building Mom would have a more accurate time-off calendar than the one I’ve been keeping (or trying to keep), so today when the Queen Bee asked me (for about the umpteenth time*) what days I planned on taking off over the holidays, I took a deep breath and emailed Building Mom. Alas, my fears were true. I have only TWO (count ’em) days left. I had neglected to include one vacation day I took in July. Shit. Note to self for 2014: be more diligent about recording your paid time off in that blasted Sharepoint calendar that everyone loves to hate. It’s annoying but I have finally managed to *find* it and bookmark it and it does keep track…

Our “shop” more or less shuts down over the holidays, at least it’s sleepy for those of us who do design / development work. People who provide support to actual customers need to be on task. Only a few of them work in my backwater office though and frequently if you show up anywhere near the weeks containing Christmas and New Year’s Day, the parking lot will be practically empty. Last year I was in a similar situation with paid time off. I compensated somewhat by telecommuting on most of the days I did actually work. But then I got a little cabin feverish, so I schlepped into work one morning. The LSCHP was there and almost no one else. The LSCHP does not celebrate Christmas and always looks forward to having the building more or less to himself during the holiday period. He greeted me that fine morning with, “Look at what the cat dragged in.”

So, what tasks are left? A couple gifts for the GG. Mouse (nudge nudge) needs to give me a list. I think she has one. I also know that she doesn’t always read this blahg ‘o blather. Veggie lasagne for the Cfam party this Saturday. I am behind! I do not even have any frozen sauce around. Duck(s?) for xmas dinner. Whole Foods or Plum? Can’t decide. I *do* have hollandaise sauce (for Eggs Benny) in spades!

What am I *not* gonna do? Bake cookies! Actually, I would *love* to bake cookies but I have to work and there’s a family party this weekend and I still need to buy the few gifts I am going to schlep around town to buy. I am also not sending out xmas cards or newsletters. I know that a lot of family members and a few good friends lurk on ababsurdo (and lurking is A-okay, by the way!), so they know what’s going on around here, which of course is usually not a whole lot. I did enjoy writing a Christmas newsletter back in the day and I still enjoy receiving them.

I am out of steam and you are happy about that!

Love y’all
Kayak Woman

*QB took on the job of managing meeeee (and Cube Neighbor) only because we are, well, us, and do our work without a bunch of prompting. So when she actually *asks* me to do something, I try to jump to it.

Units is on!

Monday, December 16th, 2013

xmastreescandlesMy ever-observant mathematical genius uber-cuzzint Pooh of Prime Number Sieve fame (and once wearer of two *different* shoes through a whole morning of college classes — maybe you know this kind of person? [wink]) was a little confused about how many lasagne noodles I have in my cupboards. “Youth wants to know!”

No, of course I do not have 32 boxes of lasagne noodles in my house! I have two open and partially full boxes of lasagne noodles. I switched *units* on y’all! Not only that, “32” is an approximate count. I opened the boxes and sorta counted “4, 8, 12…” but clearly there were enough noodles for two lasagnes, so I didn’t get too particular. I keep track of lasagne noodles (more or less) by noodle. One lasagne is 12 noodles, four per layer. If I go by boxes, here’s what happens: 1) I look up in the cupboard and see a box of lasagne noodles. 2) I go to the grokkery store and think, “I don’t need lasagne noodles. I have a whole box.” 3) I do not buy lasagne noodles. 4) I am making lasagne and it turns out that the box has 4 noodles or 6 noodles or 11 noodles. Not enough. 5) I grab my Black Cloud and head BACK to the grokkery store to get lasagne noodles (or send the GG, who’ll probably overdo it and buy like five boxes…(she said *one* box but maybe she needs some extras…)).

Today was our team’s loverly “holiday” luncheon. I am calling it that in deference to our Jewish and Buddhist and Muslim and Jehovah’s Witness team members. In reality, the LSCHP, the uber-boss who arranges these things, breaks out one of his Christmas yarmulkes for this annual occasion and, well, Sandy Claws anyone? This year, we went to the Quarter Bistro, which is right over there in my neck of the woods in what used to be Mountain Jack’s! Wow! Why oh why have I not ever been to the Quarter Bistro? I mean besides the fact that I live under a damn rock. It was soooo good. We’ll have to put the bistro on our beat…

We used to go to Mountain Jack’s a *lot*. It was a steak house with a gun-fighter theme and my old coot loved it. And so did we. Back in those days, Knight’s did not exist and Mountain Jack’s was our go-to place for all kinds of occasions: family in town to visit, power out at The Landfill (rare event, knock on wood), my 31st birthday… Lizard Breath was three months old and it was snowing to beat the band. She fell asleep as soon as we got there and slept through the entire meal, lying next to me in our booth. When we picked her up as we were leaving, a chorus of awwwwws ensued from neighboring patrons. “You have a *baby* there? She was so quiet. She’s so pretty. How old is she?” What a beautiful baby.


Sunday, December 15th, 2013

pamYes, I really do have FOUR (count ’em) cans of Pam in the three cupboards that pass for my pantry. Why? The short answer is, “I do not know.” The long answer is complicated. Like some of it probably came from the moomincabin or even The Comm’s house, even though I don’t remember her using a lot of Pam. More likely it’s that I was at the store buying pita bread to make my own pita chips and I couldn’t remember if I had Pam at home (I use it to make pita chips), so I bought some more. And there you have it. (That light in the background is not God, don’tcha know, just an amateur iPhoneographer [insert error aminal here].

I did my more or less twice-a-year food cupboard cleanout today. This was not a planned activity, I just sorta got going. Take everything off each shelf, WASH the shelf, put things back in an organized fashion. I always seem to find multiples of things that I don’t really need multiples of. I always seem to need tomato products so I need multiples of those. But I am not sure why I have three cans of bean sprouts. Especially since I always buy them fresh when I need them.

I have food in three cupboards (plus the refrigimatator, of course). The two upper cupboards and the lower one. The corner cupboards have the worst lazy susans in the universe. There are no rims on the shelves and things sometimes FALL OFF! Kabump kabang! A remodel will get rid of those things. But here’s the thing. These cabinets are half full. I’m thinking I don’t need a huge food pantry. I don’t really need to keep a lot of non-perishables around. (Yes, we are making ‘hattans there.)

landfillkitchenI won’t go into detail about my grokkery shopping habits but they sure have changed since the Plum Market opened up a few blocks from The Landfill. I can walk there pretty much whenever I want (once yesterday and twice today). I still do big stores like Meijer and Kroger and Glens, etc., in the Great White North and sometimes here on the Planet too. I do *not* want to schlep toilet paper home on foot and I cannot buy Windex wipes at The Plum.

I made a list of the stuff I currently have in my cupboards (two of them, I didn’t list the stuff in the upper right — 6 packets of hollandaise sauce, another item I use approximately twice a year) and I am gonna share it with you. What do you have in your cupboards?

Anise extract
Baked beans – 1 large, 1 small
Baker’s chocolate
Baking powder
Baking soda – 2 boxes
Balsamic vinegar – 4
Bamboo shoots
Bean sprouts – 3
Beef broth – one 8oz box
Black beans
Black olives – 2
Bread crumbs
Cane sugar
Canola oil
Chicken broth – 2 48 oz boxes
Chicken broth – 3
Chow mein noodles
Cider vinegar – 2
Condensed milk
Corn meal
Corn starch
Enchilada sauce – 2
Food coloring – green
French onions – 2
Grape seed oil
Green chiles – 2
Gumbo soup mix – 2
Lasagne noodles – 32
Lemon extract
Mushroom soup
Mushrooms – 2
Olive oil
Panko – partial box
Peanut butter – 2
Peppermint extract
Pizza sauce – 2
Raspberry vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Rice cooking wine
Rice pilaf – 2 flavors
Rice, instant containers
Sea salt
Shortening – small can, bars
Spaghetti – partial box
Tomato paste – 2
Tomato sauce
Water chestnuts
White vinegar
White wine vinegar

Lucky-shuckial storm

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

westparkThat is, we are on Electra’s downside as I write this. Being a life-long resident of the Great White North, Electra is my first named storm unless you want to count Hurricane Ike, who dragged his fingertips across southeast Michigan and “flooded” (dampened) the normally dry (albeit scary) Landfill Dungeon.

Electra? Around town it was pretty much business as usual for this amount of snow (three to six inches). Probably would’ve been worse if it were a weekday. We actually didn’t drive anywhere today. Not so much because of the snow, the Frog Hopper is AWD and could easily deal with this stuff. We had other plans, which involved an early walk to the Plum Market (for me) and then a walk downtown (for me and the GG) when the stores opened for Christmas shopping. I was kind of dumbfounded when the Plum seafood counter guy asked me how the roads were. Well, I didn’t drive…

The walk downtown would’ve been absolutely loverly… Except… I ordered a new pair of LLBean snow tennies this year. I have been wearing those things since the beach urchins were in grade school. They are so warm that my feet are warm with only tights on. They are as comfortable as all getout. And they are comfortable for MILES. This new pair that I ordered? Yiiy! I was in agony most of the trip! LLBean has changed the fit! I should’ve known something was up when it said to order a half size up. I *did* that! They are *still* too tight! I was hoping that they just needed “breaking in” but I do not think that’s working. What to do… For now, I dredged my old pair out — so glad I didn’t discard them! They will work for now. Alas, I liked that form factor. (To maybe balance that out, I have FINALLY found a comfortable unmentionable of the sort that many women fling immediately when they return home from work in the afternoon. It’s even cotton [mostly], which is one of my requirements. I like this item so much I ordered four more. I still fling it when I get home from work but it is soooo much better than what I had before. And I do not EVER wear those damn underwire thingies. What value does a stoopid little waaaar in that particular location add to anything? Female friends? Just say NOOOO!)

So where was I? Our Mouse is in a play. We attended it the first night and we were thinking we would attend it again. Tonight ended up being our last option. But. There’s Electra. And the play is over in Ypsilanti. And Electra has left some nice snow behind and we have a faaaar-place, etc. So we bagged it. When I texted Mouse to tell her we were not going to make it, her response was more or less surprise that we were even thinking about attending the play more than once. She knows me. In an earlier version of my life, I helped produce a huge play production on this weekend in December every year. Our whole family was always involved and I rarely actually *sat* in the audience. I am not a sitter. The GG is better at that than I am.

Still, I love to watch Mouse in plays and I was torn today. Break a leg, kiddo!

Ho Ho Bah

Friday, December 13th, 2013

xmaslightsI decided a while back that I didn’t really want to carry around both a phone and a camera. My camera was old and my iPhone was new and, really, is it the equipment or the photographer who creates the magic that goes into a good photoooo.

So one of the main reasons that I upgraded to the latest and greatest iPhone last weekend was because of the camera. BFF had already upgraded and she was raving about the new iPhone camera. She is a pretty serious amateur photographer who owns and uses multiple cameras so I take her opinions seriously and wrote on the web about how excited I was to get a camera upgrade, etc., etc, yada yada.

So, BFF wanted to know how I liked the camera. Huh? What? Alas. Truth be told, I got the new phone last Saturday and I have probably taken like four photos since then and one or two of those were actually screenshots of things I saw on the web and wanted to save, etc. Alas, I have been nose to the grindstone in one way or the other since I got my new phone. Home and work and home again, some bits of very unsuccessful shopping and a helping or two of wearisome crapola thrown in just for good measure. In the midst of it all, interesting things to photograph haven’t exactly jumped up in front of my face.

I am disappointed with this shot. I took an identical shot a week ago tonight with my 4S. I didn’t post it because it turned out about like this one. I’m posting this just because… It isn’t that the camera is bad. I think that the camera is probably wonderful. It is the photographer. Meeeee. I was scampering up Washington Street and I was dealing with glubs and stuff like that and kind of rushing to get to the Oscar Tango, where I knew the GG had a table and Rayanne had probably already dropped off my ‘hattan. I didn’t take any time to set up a decently framed photo and it was dark and, well, you get what you get. I’m posting it anyway. I will get to know the camera. Oh, it was Rayanne’s last night at the OT. She’s starting a job in her field. I hugged her (and gave her an extra good tip). I will miss her but I understand when it’s time to move on.

Oh man, “where’s the bus?” I yelled to the GG tonight. Had to urbanP. Stepped into the usual urbanP park and (yikes) there were people with dogs. And just enough snow to illuminate everything including an urbanP-er. I made it *almost* all the way home. I bagged it at Ritsema Woods (just behind The Landfill!) Nobody was around, not even a bus.

Good night,
Kayak Woman

Put your phones down and don’t shout out answers!

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

So, the GG arrived home here at The Landfill this evening (in the dark of course). He took off his coat and hat and glubs and all of that stuff you have to wear when the temperatures are in the damn teens and he perused the avalanche of catalogs that arrived today and then… drum-roll… Grabbed a cereal bowl! Um, oops, methinks that is your *morning* routine! [insert error aminal here]

Catalogs… I cannot keep up. The thing is I actually *use* catalogs. I order 99% of my clothing online and a lot of other stuff too, oh you know, like Onion Goggles. Plus I keep hoping that I will find at least a few xmas gifts via catalog. I finally got through most of the catalogs last weekend and then we didn’t really get much mail at all for a few days and I figgered we were *done* with catalogs. And then I came home to an AVALANCHE of them today!!! Yiiy! (I *do* also shop at local businesses — here on The Planet Ann Arbor and I especially like to patronize shops in the god-forsaken yooperland. I will probably hit up a bunch of small shops here on The Planet this weekend.)

I dredged some old photooos out of iPhoto today. Last night, the GG made a kind of reckless statement that he had been closing the moomincabin for 10 years. I begged to differ. I am almost positive that, up until October 2005, my parents (both of them) did it (together). My old coot died in March 2006 and in October 2006, me and The Commander and Radical Betty did it. Mostly The Commander. Radical Betty and I were distractions at best. The GG was not there because he and the UU were out in SanFran visiting their “twin” daughters. I have a photo of Shakey Jake to prove it. After 2006, the GG definitely took the lead in closing the Moomincabin. I know that The Comm appreciated that.

So, here are some photos from the fall that The Comm (and I and RB) closed the moomincabin. It was a GORGEOUS weekend and there is a sandbar in the foreground and a salty in the parking place in the background. If I am not mistaken (and I may be), a huge snowstorm hit during the next week and The Comm and Radical Betty had to abandon a trip to Petoskey. Such is life in the yooperland.


The next photooo is an absolutely awful photo of The Commander. No, she is not crying! There were no tears that day. We were all having fun. I think she *was* struggling to remember how to shut down the water without my old coot being there. But I think that photo is just a random kind of thing where she was either messing with me or I randomly caught her at an awkward moment.


We packed a takeout lunch from Karl’s Cuisine (and whine) that day. And here is the ever elegant Radical Betty sitting on the front steps.


Finally, the event that will make me remember this particular day forever. I vaguely remember draining the water heater, etc., etc. The tree in the middle of the next photo suddenly turned into a whirling dervish and the top of it fell down and this is what was left, shelf fungus and all. There was NO WIND that day.


I miss the presence of these two women on the earth and at the Moominbeach greatly these days. They were not biological sisters (The Comm married RB’s older brother aka my old coot) but they were sisters of the heart. They loved each other, they carried on the beach culture my grandparents had established, and they had so much fun! And so did I for all of those years I shared with them.