Archive for February, 2014

Bogue Street Blues, the college memories of a Successful Failure

Friday, February 28th, 2014

In all the years since I lived in East Lansing, I have driven through and around it many times. I have skirted the edges of it on yarn store boondoggles in Frandor and lunches at the Tsunami Terlet Panera in Okemos. BTW, my years in East Lansing were not the best years of my life. They were often painful times for me as I rather desperately tried to figure out who the hell I was and where the hell I belonged in the world. One of the good things was that I met my BFF here aka Sam (archaeologist, not dog). Actually, I did not meet her in East Lansing. I met her on Radical Betty’s back deck. But it was in East Lansing that I got to know and love her. Those were good times.

Every year, the first Saturday in March, the GG schleps an increasingly large amount of crap up here to East Lansing to run a North Country Trail booth at the Quiet Waters Symposium. I always stay home. I work hard and I greatly value alone time at The Landfill. But this year I surprised myself by deciding to accompany him. I dunno why exactly. No immediate flinging plans and the Landfill Chitchen Reno is still a few weeks away. What the heck? I’ll help at the booth but I will also hike East Lansing and my old Moo-U campus.

After a crazy dial-in to a work meeting from our hotel this afternoon (when the heck did they build a huge, luxurious Marriott right in the middle of M.A.C. Avenue anyway?), I took a little exploratory jaunt. I walked down Grand River to River Street and my old apartment (I came to MooU as a transfer student and didn’t live in a dorm here), Water’s Edge. The Red Cedar River is to the left and a bit out of the picture.

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Actually, that building is not the Water’s Edge I lived in. That one burned to the ground sometime back in the 80s or 90s or whatever. I remember hearing it on the news. This one is a new version. I remember when I first moved in I thought the place was so fancy. There were four of us, two bedrooms and TWO FULL BATHROOMS. In my entire life, I think that’s the only place (besides the Group Home at Houghton Lake) I have lived in that had more than one damn bathroom. In reality it was a kind of a cheesy joint with dirty hallways and very little security. Walking down there brought back many memories but I’ll save them.

From there, I decided to try to remember my route to the music building. Who can guess what the next photo is? Nowadays infamous for couch-burning parties after sporting events.

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I certainly didn’t get lost but I didn’t follow my old route exactly. Everything was familiar in a kind of a dream-like way. And then suddenly I was at the music building.

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I have lots of memories of this place but indulge me in one particularly bittersweet one. My teacher Borouchoff did the initial auditions for the symphonic wind ensemble that year. He made, um, meeee, first chair. Yes, I was really good enough to play first seat flute in a large university wind symphony. We hosted a new composer symposium that year and did a lot of crazy esoteric stuff and I was *really* good at crazy esoteric stuff so, among other kudos, I earned a “bravo alto flute” from none other than Gunther Schuller, who was one of our guest conductors. Alas, we had a nincompoop for our wind symphony director that year (and he *was* a nincompoop — he was *out* after that year). He re-auditioned for winter term and anointed the daughter of the director of Grosse Pointe High bands to first seat, knocking me down to second. Sucking up? Yeah, probably. Was I upset? Of course I was upset, what were you thinking? I kept a poker face though because that’s what I do in those kinds of situations. After the audition lists were posted, I was galumphing along through the basement of the music building and all the cool jazz guys started coming outta the woodwork asking me, “What the hell happened there with the flute section?” We all knew what had happened and those guys were sooooo sweeeeeet.

I headed back to the Marriott after that. We had a cocktail, then headed over to Beggar’s Banquet to meet up with our niece, The Beautiful Chelsea. I don’t think of our organized, poised, soon-to-graduate niece (teaching, yay!) as anything resembling a struggling, starving college student but it was still fun to buy her dinner! Paying it forward for all of the aunts and uncles who used to buy me dinner. Beggar’s Banquet has been there forever and it is still as good as ever.

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And now, we are settled into our room and the GG is asnore in front of a Futurama marathon. I need to remember *not* to mention that at work Monday morning, lest the LSCHP take off on a half-hour monologue about Futurama. We have work to do. Chop chop!

Good night,
Kayak Woman

Things I won’t miss about my Fugly Kitchen #2

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

floorstainThis. Do you have any idea how long I have been living with this ugly stain? I think the beach urchins were around six and four or thereabouts when we decided to get rid of the ugly beat-up 70s-style red-yellow-orange baroque patterned vinyl flooring that came with The Landfill. We were young and we were gonna renovate the place piece by piece. Not probably a good idea.

We went out to a Floor Store. I (at that time) (thought that I) wanted ceramic tile. People (The Commander mostly) said stuff like, “That’s a bad idea, you’ll break things and the beach urchins will fall and crack their heads”. I now think I was trying to emulate Radical Betty’s small but gorgeous chalet on the Moominbeach. She had butcher block counters too and I also lusted after them. But we weren’t at counters yet, just floor. I did NOT want a vinyl floor but I capitulated and we chose this white vinyl flooring. The guy at the Floor Store told us that it would not discolor. Did he lie? I dunno whether he lied or whether he was just incompetent. Lots of people are. Somehow they still get jobs and wreak havoc upon the rest of us…

That floor was a DIY prodject. We lived for quite some time with the old floor torn out, walking around on the “sub-floor” or whatever it is. I didn’t like that but we were young and invincible and we knew it would get better when we put in the new floor. And so we did and it was all wonderful until… The loverly new floor started to stain. What the f*ck? I have lived with that ugly stain for more years than I am strong enough to count (over 20). My new floor will be hardwood. Oak to be exact. Not some kind of oak impersonator. Real oak. That vent is going to be moved and CKL says the reno team will try to figure out how to prevent that from happening again. I love CKL and I am hoping for the best but we’ll see.

I’ve grown up from the days when I wanted to emulate Radical Betty. I still want to emulate her in some ways but I am meeee and one of the things I remember about RB is that she loved me for who *I* was, knowing my history in some ways better than I did, since she was one of The Commander’s college friends and then an in-law and she remembered me since before I was born.

My subtitle for this post would have been “Whiteout”! Because that’s what I drove through to get to work this morning. It was sunny when I left The Landfill. I had coffee at Barry’s with MMCB this morning and when we went outside, it was snowing. And blowing. That leads to whiteout conditions. My drive was really pretty okay. I don’t think it was really all that slippery on my route and people were driving slowly and carefully in any case. Alas, reports came in from all over Michigan. Accidents everywhere, fatality on M52 (43-year-old man who slowed down for conditions was slammed from behind by a semi… sigh…). Lots of roads closed everywhere in the Great Lake State. Whiteouts. Accidents.

When will it end.

Things I won’t miss in my Fugly Kitchen #1

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

fuglykitch1That’s #1 in a series, not the thing that’s the biggest pain in the you-know-what.

Whenever I turn on the faucet, water dribbles out of the thingy in the photooo. Or maybe it’s most of the time, nope it’s all the time, just checked. I’m not sure how long this has been going on. Probably since we bought the Landfill but maybe not. I do not know. That sprayer works better than it used to but it’s still kind of weak. You can see the dirt on the windowsill and an inch or so of wall beneath and maybe you can see the misshapen “backsplash”. By the way, this little three inch thingy is a backsplash? Wait until you see my new backsplash.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. My new faucet is to die for. The sprayer thingy is built into it. CKL asked me early on what I thought about single vs. double sinks. I surprised myself by saying I wanted a single sink. I used to fantasize about a double sink. But we have one at the Group Home at Houghton Lake and I find myself a bit underwhelmed. Neither side is big enough for me to soak a lasagne pan. DISCLAIMER!!!! I LOVE the Group Home kitchen and those who planned it. I feel at home working in almost any kitchen (I got that from The Commander!) and the Group Home kitchen is by far one of the nicer ones I have worked in and I CAN clean a lasagne pan there. If the UU doesn’t beat me to it!

All that said, I realized that when push came to shove, I was a single sink person, at least in my current space. My new sink will be a couple inches wider than my current one (I think). It is a drop-in sink, not one of those undermounts. Is that what they’re called? Neither the GG or I can think up the name of that right now. I see grungy stuff collecting in those undermount sinks. Although I will have a dishwasher, I will probably still primarily wash dishes by hand (with Bolette and my memories of doing the dishes at the Old Cabin with Pooh and UKW). I can divide the sink by a dishpan like I have always done. Yes I know I will need to actually run the damn dishwasher once in a while.

This is the first in an intermittent series about the things I won’t miss in my current kitchen. Because I want to document it before it gets gutted. It’s been a good ride here in the Ugliest Kitchen On Earth. But it’s time.

Pride always goes before a fall…

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

huronice…so I write this with much trepidation. Also, I am not a work blahgger. But today? Today? Today? I had a spec review today. We have been eating an elephant at my work since a little bit before I started working there, which is getting to be more years than I am strong enough to count. The part of that elephant that we are currently eating affects our core business and it is really scary to make a change as big as we are working on making. So people are nervous. Are we going to get this right? In truth, we may NOT get every single little detail right the first go ’round but the big changes won’t happen until a whole heckuva lot of parallel testing, etc. has taken place. We do not do Big Bang changes in our business. You would be unhappy if we did. Actually, you are probably unhappy with us at times anyway but I am here to tell you that we really really really do care about your user experience. You do not know how much time we spend nitpicking and agonizing the details of web page field labels or error messages or just general functionality.

I have been at this for six years now and lemme tell you, my spec review today rocked! I can remember being terrified at doing my first spec review. I still get a bit nervous about them. You never quite know what’s going to happen. In one particularly contentious spec review before my time, somebody [I won’t say who but a Russian accent was involved] started rather derisively singing error messages. I wish to heck I’d been there for that!

Today was the best spec review I have ever done. I had to explain several extremely complex pieces of functionality and I did it with elegant text and beautiful diagrams. I think the highest compliment I got was from the LSCHP who said something like, “I feel like I’m on crack but I actually understand this.” (He was NOT on crack.) And W1.5 only made his “that’s not quite right” face when other people had questions. Actually *that* was probably the highest compliment.

Good night. I am celebrating this small piece of success but I am not letting it go to my head. I am a humble person and I believe that life is a river and today was a particularly good day for me at work but who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Blankity-blankity-blank

Monday, February 24th, 2014

dirtyoldsnowI am a blank. If you are a daily blahgger like me, *this* is one o’ *those* days. Do I need some vacay? I dunno. Maybe? But it isn’t really even that. I mean, right now I am more focused on the Landfill Chitchen Reno. Waiting with great anticipation and hoping I can get away with some occasional telecommuting so I can observe the process first hand. I definitely want to be there when they gut the place. Or maybe not. This chitchen is ugly as all getout but it is highly functional and has served me well in the 30 years (ouch) I have cooked in it. And lived in it. Because that’s where a lot of us moms live. The heart of the home. I am not even being sappy here.

We watched Cool Runnings last night in honor of the Olympics. We watched the Olympics intermittently. I am not a skating fanatic. I enjoy watching the skaters but I don’t like the drama that often accompanies it and I hate when they fall. I am a ski fan (I hate when they fall too). Downhill and jumping and all variations of slalom primarily. That is the winter sport that I understand the most although I was never more than a sorta competent amateur. Oh yeah, I do still ski but it is Michigan-style x-c ski. Very tame and I am cautious about downhills. The bindings on my x-c skis (as old as they are) allow me to do a decent snowplow and I *do* that when I feel like I need to. I learned to snowplow when I was 10 and went to Weber’s Ski School during xmas week. I think that ski school was free and after years of attending it, The Commander signed me up (at 16 or whatever) to teach 8-year-olds how to snowplow down the Bunny Hill at Mission Hill.

I’m toadily off the track here but I’ll never forget when I finally got Good High School Boyfriend to go skiing with me. Bad Boyfriend actually might have liked it but couldn’t afford it, among other things. So, I had visions of teaching Good BF how to ski. Not. Good BF did NOT want to have anything to do with the Bunny Hill. Nosiree! He and his friend went straight to the chair lift and I can’t remember exactly what happened next but it was pretty much a disaster and he split the non-ski-type pants he was wearing and then he and his friend ended up in the bar (the drinking age at that time was 18 and they were 19). I was not happy about that so I walked into the bar (even though I was only 17 and therefore not legal) and gave them hell. That is not why we broke up. That’s a longer story and not blahgable.

But I did end up marrying a guy who skis! He has an identical twin who skis too! We have so much fun!

Where was I? I didn’t watch a whole lot of skiing during the Olympics but we did watch some luge and bobsledding. Hence Netflixing Cool Runnings last night. Cool Runnings seems to be the new thing to hate but we watched it a number of times with the Beach Urchins way back when and I still like it. It is one of the few John Candy movies that I like. Although I respect his talent overall, please do me a favor and do not EVER watch Canadian Bacon!

What did I write and how the heck did I get here?

What we didn’t do today.

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

icehillWell, first what *did* we do today? I managed to get one more box of kitchen stuff packed up. I’m now down to the point where if I pack anything else up, I will likely be box-diving down in the Landfill Dungeon. In fact, I had to do that yesterday: bamboo skewers for shish-kebab. The strategy is to make a run up to the Uncly Uncle’s house the weekend before our start date to snag the Lyme Lounge out of hibernation. I am starting to get the problem-solving wheels turning in earnest about how I am going to set up my Reno Chitchen, what I will need and what it’ll be possible to cook using the Lyme Lounge cooktop and the gas grill in the back yard. This will be fun! Roight?

I have 33,000 photos in iPhoto! And then there are the albums upon albums and slides and whatnot from the Fin archives. How am I ever going to sort all of that stuff out? I do not know. I know that I do not need to keep all of those photos. My PacNW blahggy friend Margaret got me started on organizing photos again. Or at least thinking about it. At the moment, I am toadily overwhelmed. I need to kick my own dern systems analyst butt! How do you eat an elephant again? (We’ve been eating an elephant at work for at least six years and we are starting to see a dim light at the end of the tunnel.)

We took a drive out into The County. It turned into a kind of reconnaissance drive to check out potential hiking spots. We [again] didn’t bring snowshoes and most of the foot-trails are post-hole city if you’re wearing boots and YakTrax. The GG seemed to need a slow day today but he was talking about fetching the purple kayak from Houghton Lake so we could kayak again. In a month. We’ll see. The river is completely frozen right now, except where there are rapids.

I feel like I didn’t accomplish much today but I guess we all need days like that.

Oh yeah, what did we NOT do today? Well. We did NOT go down the hill in the photoooo. We were moseying along on some of the back roads out in the county and Tiplady Road was a total sheet of ice. It was okay, there was almost no traffic and we were going reeeallly slow (because we were moseying, which we would’ve been doing even if the road wasn’t a sheet of ice) and the Frog Hopper is an AWD vee-hickle with new taaars and anti-lock brakes, which worked very well when the GG tested them — at VERY slow speeds. But then we approached this hill. There was a guy wandering around at the top of it who somehow didn’t look like the average neighborhood walker. And he wasn’t. He flagged us down to say, “DO NOT GO DOWN THAT HILL!!!” He had gone down the [steep] hill and then couldn’t get UP the [steep] hill on the other side. After many attempts to get up one side or the other he ended up in the ditch and apparently it looked like others had come to the same end. We offered a ride but he already had a friend coming to pick him up. No, we did not continue in that direction. Yes, we turned around. I hope that guy got his truck outta there.

Post-holing through polar vortex 3 (or whatever number this is)

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

First of all, note to Maple Village: SALT YOUR SIDEWALK! You know the one. It runs along N. Maple between Dexter and Jackson. Can y’all even tell what is *in* the photooo below? I navigated part or all of that stuff multiple times today. I managed with YakTrax and a hiking stick. These fashionable items are The New Black, don’tcha know, at least here on Ice Sidewalk Asteroid. I encountered various males of varying ages along the way, all of whom warned me about the ice. Of course, I showed them what was on the bottom of my feet with a HUGE grin on my face. Oooohhh, you are prepared. Yes. I am. Except that the ice today was too slippery to be overly confident even in YakTrax, hence the hiking stick.

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Two of those trips were to the Plum Market, the middle one was all the way over to Staples. Can you guess what my Staples purchase was? More Bubble Wrap, you say? Yes, that was it. I got another box of stuff packed away. My small but beauteous collection of liqueur glasses. Very fragile and very carefully packed. I actually hardly ever use them but they happen to be among the few possessions that are important to me. The GG was wrassling with taxes and getting a collection of stuff together for the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore NCT chapter booth next Saturday’s annual Quiet Waters Symposium over at Moo-U (said with affection). I was emailing / texting with a beach urchin and she urged us to get out and go walk down by the river and then the GG brought up a river walk (maybe she was emailing / texting him too? hmmm…[grin]) and so we did. We started by Barton Dam and the “snowbank” on the steps in the photooo below is what we had to navigate going UP the steps to the dam. I literally crawled up that snowbank on my hands and knees and took the photo afterwards.

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After walking there, we hit the Burns-Stokes Preserve on Zeeb Road. It was loverly but we were post-holing all over the place. Why did we not think to take snowshoes? I do not know. Maybe because we almost never have a need for snowshoes on the Planet Ann Arbor.

I lied that we were in Polar Vortex 3. It was windy today but the temperatures were in the 30s and Mr. Golden Sun made enough appearances that some of the ice melted and my face feels just a bit hot but that could’ve been wind too. Also, I didn’t do my Skunk Walk today. Too icy at 0-skunk-30. But between my trips to stores and the post-holing along the river, I got a lot of exercise and some of my muscles (the ones that don’t normally have to deal with post-holing) are feeling it. Not sore, just that loverly thank-you-for-using-me feeling. Actually I think we are supposed to get another so-called polar vortex next week but we’ll see whether that’s hype or not. Below is the obligatory photo of Barton Dam, in this case almost totally frozen.

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Love y’all, all five of you! G’night!

A little hint of summer to go with the bomber hat (and the YakTrax)

Friday, February 21st, 2014

sunglassesI dunno. Am I a wimp? The GG said something like, “KW is wimping out” just because I encouraged us to accept a ride home from the Oscar Tango with the Porters tonight. They always always always ask. Isn’t it too hot to walk? Or too cold or windy or snowy or rainy or tornadoey or whatever? Tonight? It was too damned icy. Not to mention windy as all getout! Yes, we could’ve walked home. We both walked downtown. But I was sick and taaarrred of having to make a blasted decision or two or three every step of the way.

It was okay walking down. It was sunny enough that I could at least see what I was walking on but even then, I wasn’t always sure how slippery it was. Conditions varied. I even dredged out a hiking stick for the walk downtown and I used it a few times. In the end, I just didn’t wanna do the same thing home in the dark. This morning, I set off on my Skunk Walk. I made it all the way through the schoolyard (behind my house) and then… I turned around. That’s right. I bagged it. It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t fun. My fellow Skunkwalker aka W1.5’s wife bagged it too. Some days that’s the prudent thing to do.

Here I am talking about the damn weather again. We’ve experienced something called a Texas Hooker the last few days. I have read the descriptions and looked at the maps and I still do not quite understand. Is it the same kind of system that caused Hurricane Ike to dampen the normally dry Landfill Dungeon a few years ago? I do not know. Apparently the Polar Vortex is scheduled to get drunk and fall on us again next week? We’ll see. And yes, I stole that description from somewhere on the internet. I’m sorry but that’s kind of what it feels like around here.

Potholes? Can I just say that I was getting off the I94 18-wheel Clogway at the Jackson Road exit today after work and it was a good thing there was nobody in the left lane because I had to jump over there to miss a pothole that would’ve swallowed the Frog Hopper up. I cannot believe the potholes we have here on the Planet this year. I wanted to take a picture of some today but they were in the middle of an intersection downtown and I was walking and there was intermittent glare ice and I didn’t feel like I could stop right there. Like “What is that baggy old bag doing standing there in the middle of the road with her iPhone?” A big clompety-looking young man was galumphing along ahead of / beside me plugged into his iSomething-or-other and he made an interesting noise when his foot slipped on ice.

I’m done boring you with the weather (for today). Tomorrow I’m gonna pack up a whole bunch more chitchen stuff so I’ll probably bore you with tales of bubble wrap. You can’t wait. You’re welcome.

Dreaming of summer and the moomincabin and kayaking and pontoon boat expotitions to tiki bars and hiking with moe-skee-toes (and ticks, yick!) and the Lyme Lounge and a beauteous new chitchen and ice where it belongs, which is in cocktails, not all over the roads and sidewalks!

Every color of the rainbow and then some

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

A southeast Troll-land journalist / blahgger that I follow has been referring to this winter’s conditions under foot as “Icy Lumpy F*ck”. I’m not going to permanently usurp her term but lemme tell you I was walking on ILF this morning. Actually, every foot step required an evaluation (dry pavement? wet pavement? packed snow? lumpy ice? glare ice?) and a decision (street? sidewalk? edge of sidewalk / street where there’s packed snow?). And what if I was in the street (in the dark) and a car came along and I had to cross glare ice to get outta the road? Exhausting? Yes. Psychologically anyway. Here I am standing on ILF in my driveway. (I think my feet have a bit of a wicked witch of the east look, don’t you?)

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The forecast? Freezing rain turning to rain and 40s. So the whole Planet Ann Arbor population was surprised when 10 AM brought blizzard conditions!

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We were in a meeting during this and FZ spent the *entire* time looking out the window at the snow, so he was the second person to spot lightning (W1.5 was first). I exclaimed, “Oh shoot, I missed it again!” The CRD said, “Well go outside and stand in it.” [Say that in a Russian accent, if you please.] Others chimed in with stuff like, “Yeah take a key and a kite.” And this is what it looked like out the lunchroom door.

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As I was taking this photo, a co-worker from the Indian subcontinent came along and asked me how I liked this weather. As much as I have been kvetching about weather this winter, I was loving it today. Enter another Indian co-worker who mentioned that I was from the yooperland. They both giggled like crazy and so did I! Then the LSCHP came in and there was a conversation about whether we could change the weather or maybe swap places with the folks at our Florida mothership for the winter (probably not…). And finally the CRD (Russian, remember) wildly proclaiming that he would call the mayor of Moscow to get the weather changed. But we might not like the change [wink wink]. Later on the snow did turn into rain and although I don’t think the temperature ever got above 36, the roads were really not slippery, just flooded in places. Planet Ann Arbor folks might recognize the next photo as northbound N. Maple between Maple Village (KMart) and Veteran’s Park. It’s a crappy photoooo but I was *driving*. I was about to splash through yet another puddle lake.

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Finally, the photooo below is the end of my driveway this afternoon. I was slodging through several inches of water and snow and ice, schlepping the handy-dandy Planet Ann Arbor garbage and recycle carts down to the curb. This photo does not do justice to the depth of wet snow and water (and ice). My feet were soaked at the end of this. Thank you Zeus (or whoever) for hot running water. It felt so good to wash my feet after that.

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And then the GG came home and after yelling “LUUUUUCY, I’M HOOOOOME!”, he disappeared (I was in the Blue and Only Bathroom washing my feet). He was actually trying to shovel WATER! I mean, that is what was out there today. He was out there for a long enough time that I actually went out looking for him at one point. Yes, he was okay. Thank you Zeus!

Sometimes it’s the little things that get you through the night (or day (or whatever))

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

hl1I experienced a wee bit of a dip in spirits over the last 24 hours or so. I had no reason for that. I lead a pretty dern charmed life, knock on wood big time!!! What got me outta that stupid funk?

A loverly Skunk Walk this morning. Warmer than it has been in I can’t think how many weeks but not warm enough (yet) to create a huge mess of rotting, melting snow. As a fellow skunk-walker and I passed each other, he started to warn me that there was ice ahead of me. I lifted up a boot and gleefully said, “I’m wearing YakTrax!” I expected the frequent answer, “What are YakTrax?” Instead I got, “So am I!” High five!

A series of little archaeological digs at work. I mean computer-type digs, I was certainly not out digging in the dirt. I will leave that to Sam (archaeologist, not dog) and Pengo, who does a bit different kind of archaeology than Sam but I think it does sometimes involve digging in the dirt. KW, not so much, but she is a MASTER at ferreting out old computer stuff.

45 degrees when I left work this afternoon meant most of the ice (but not all) had melted in the parking lot and the roads were dry. I still cannot park in My Parking Place. I haven’t been able to park there all winter. There’s a huge snowbank there. Where is my Red-Winged Blackbird…

I walked to the Plum Market this afternoon without boots and YakTrax. Yes! WITHOUT BOOTS AND YAKTRAX! I did not wear bizcaz shoes, I wore my red Keen sandals. Yes, there was ice. Yes, there were ugly mud puddles. I got there and back without incident and without even getting very wet.

As I was walking back to The Landfill, L of Perrynet was parking her car across the street. She THANKED ME!!! For what? For putting a bunch of binders and plastic baskets out on the curb last fall. She is a newly minted kindergarten teacher in town and has put those artifacts to good use in her classroom. I actually remembered that those things were picked up pretty fast. I am very happy about how they are being used.

Making Shell Noodle Casserole for dinner tonight. When I was a beach urchin, The Commander used to make “goulash”. I hated it. I think I hated the name… Fast forward. The Commander made goulash Shell Noodle Casserole for us one time and the dern beach urchins could not get enough of it. Being air-eaters, that was a good thing. I’m making it tonight. I think the GG will eat it. He pretty much eats anything I cook…

Oh yeah! And then there was the Fin Family Moomintroll link that Mouse posted on my facebook timeline today. The Finlayson family that I was born to is Scottish (and other stuff), not Finnish (but who knows who our ancestors mixed it up with). But we love Tove Jannson’s moominfamily books and, if those linens had been available when the beach urchins were young, I definitely would have bought them.

Winter at the Landfill 2014, for posterity

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

carbecksnowNot the best photoooo. I had already backed the Frog Hopper down to the bottom of the driveway when I decided I *had* to get a photo. This is *probably* the most snow we’ll see this winter. I mean piled up like this. It got over 30 today and sounds like we’ll get a couple days like that. It’ll get colder again and we will get more snow but I think the downhill slide has begun. So I drove the Frog Hopper back up the driveway and got a few pics.

I know that the sidewalk doesn’t look very well cleared (a city ordinance requires people to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice) but I shoveled last night’s snow and it is not slippery. I am the Ice Police and I try to lead by example. That sidewalk is packed snow with salt underneath and I find that whenever I put salt down, it keeps ice from forming for a good long time. I know that salt is questionable for the environment but I do not want to be sued for sending someone to the hoosegow with a concussion or broken bone. Last winter, a Soo woman who had been a friend of The Commander slipped on ice, hit her head, and died I fergit how many hours / days later without regaining consciousness. Check out the Marquis’s blahg for a story about what my cuzzint Pooh (Anne) did to help a neighbor today. (If I lived in St. Louis, I would probably not be the Ice Police. St. Louis gets its share of winter weather but it isn’t anything like what we get here in the Great Lake State.)

Also YAKTRAX YAKTRAX YAKTRAX!!! I wore mine over to the Plum Market Sunday afternoon and a young whippersnapper asked me if I was all right. I think he actually meant something like was I finding everything I needed, but YakTrax are just wee bit unwieldy on most floors and I was walking kind of funny and feeling self-conscious about it. So I explained that to him and showed him what was on the bottom of my boots. He looked at me like I was a little nuts but he ended up being really friendly, probably because *Mouse* was with me. Mouse will probably kill me for saying this on my blahg but the young men who work at the Plum Market are friendly to her in a different way than they are friendly to me. I guess it’s just an age factor. (Ducking!)

The good news? CKL emailed me today and asked if we could start our chitchen renovation on March 24th instead of the 29th. YES YES YES??? YES! She also asked if I needed storage containers (they provide them) for the stuff currently in my chitchen. I told her I would get back to her on that. I am the Queen of Bubble Wrap and I have packed and moved chitchens umpteen times over the last few years. I am an expert and I already have the Landfill Chitchen about 70% packed up. It is MUCH more fun packing up my chitchen for a reno than it was packing up The Comm’s kitchen forever.

Frosty fun

Monday, February 17th, 2014

hl2Once upon a time, girl scout troop 505 was working on the Frosty Fun badge. It was a winter not unlike this one and we had to postpone a sledding outing at least twice. Once because it was 15 below (and I am not talking about the wind chill factor) and then it warmed up and everything froze and the sledding hill turned into a sheet of glare ice. I can’t remember if we ever ended up doing that sledding outing or if we just bagged it and had a hot chocolate party instead but I was awarded the Frosty Fun badge, adult edition, after one of the troop members and her mom saw me walking by in minus seven or whatever — for about the fifth time. Pretty good badge and accompanying haul. Everything but liqwire! Oh well.

I schlepped in to Cubeland today but some people, you know, those gubmint slackers, had the Presidents’ Day holiday off. So I came home to a foreign object in my chitchen. A coffee maker. I have not owned a coffee maker in years. We went through a series of “fancy” Krups coffee makers and various cappuccino doodlies, and grinders and whatever. The dern things always broke before I thought their time was up and, at some point, prob’ly around the time I went back to school and then work, I just bagged it. By the time I have taken a shower and finished my Skunk Walk (actually, by the time I get vertical), I do not NEED coffee. If I do, there’s always instant. Or Zingerman’s @PlumMarket a couple blocks away. The beach urchins are a bit pickier about coffee and when Mouse comes over to spend the night at xmas or whenever, she hauls her French press (?) (and half of her kitchen — sourdough starter anyone — and sometimes plants).

This is all okay with me. It works. So when I first saw the NEW coffee maker (wonder how many old ones are in the dungeon), I had to force myself not to panic. As in, “I am going to gut this chitchen in a little over a month and the last thing I want to do is to acquire a whole bunch of new stuff now.” And then I YANKED myself off the ledge. Fer kee-reist! The GG lives here too and if he wants to make coffee in a coffee maker, he is certainly entitled to buy one. It is a small one and I will find a home for it in the New Chitchen. For now it’s just hanging out randomly like everything else that I haven’t already packed away.

I could bore y’all with the weather but I won’t, except to say that with all the big snowpiles around here, this winter reminds me of my childhood winters in the yooperland. When we used to be able to walk on top of the SNOWBANKS to get to school instead of the sidewalks, which were actually plowed by the city. I have been living on the planet for a long time and this is the first time we have had snow like this. We’re supposed to get a bunch more snow overnight. I dunno if we will or not but my troll-land yooper facebook friends are getting all “yoopered up” and I guess I will too. Or maybe I will just work from home. Oops, sorry, I just bored y’all with weather stuff.

Real women wear skirts (when they want to ;-)

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Mouse doesn’t look much different here than she did in an ancient photooo I do not have time to locate right now. Same place, N. Higgins Lake State Park, aka the Beaver Creek foot trail, right across the road from the R. A. MacMullan Conference Center.

beavercreek

In that old photooo that I can’t find, Mouse was not wearing a skirt. But why the heck isn’t a skirt appropriate outdoors wear? I do not think my thoughts are organized enough tonight to do a mini-rant about this but I LOVE wearing skirts. They are comfortable (at least mine are) and they look good on me (as much as anything looks good on me) and I feel fantastic when it is minus five or whatever and I am joyfully galumphing along in my YakTrax-clad clodhopper snowboots with a warm wool skirt swirling around my ankles (yes, there are a couple of layers under that skirt). I feel feminine but I also feel like I am conquering the world, or at least the Planet Ann Arbor. Power skirt!

I have already lost my train of thought on that one. Can I just say, it was a perfect weekend up at the Group Home! Skiing, snowshoeing, walking out on the ice in the dark, Best Choice grokkeries, the hardware store (actually Home Depot this time). Beaver Creek this morning was beauteous in the sunshine. Those trees were planted by the CCC and they are all lined up in neat rows. Not like Mother Nature would create a forest but pretty in its own way.

beavercreek2

We took the middle route at Beaver Creek today, 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to *6* (skipping 5) to 7 to 8 and back to 1. Doing the longest loop can be a slog because it is mostly flat or a barely perceptible uphill for absolutely forever. We missed all of that but did the hills.

beavercreek3

Still, I think we all felt the exhilaration that exercise brings on, so we headed back to the Group Home, made a good dent into leftovers for lunch, cleaned and packed up. Of all things, our trip home was very smooth despite the amount of snow that Thor or whoever was throwing down upon us and the 20 degree temperatures. The sun never completely went away and the I75 SUV Speedway was dry the entire trip. Thank you Thor. Or whoever.

Living dangereusely by skiing waaaaay out in the land of erupting volcanos

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

hl4It has been a coon’s age since I have skied with either of the beach urchins. There was college and stints in Spain, Senegal, and Cali. I’m skiing with Mouse this weekend and I’m picking on my mouse a bit here (or maybe she doesn’t care) but I remember the days and some of the Mouse-isms…

— Carrying my Mouse in a backpack when she was nine months old. Her big sister (3-1/2) was on a cute little pair of skis and we were switching off kids. The GG was inbound, I was outbound and Liz was momentarily out of my sight a bit ahead and around a corner. I heard her say (to someone), “I am with my mommy and my daddy.” A couple had encountered her and *appropriately* asked. Like, what the heck is that teeny little munchkin doing out here alone. I rounded the corner with Mouse on my back and they understood. The Ski Ranch is one of the safest environments on earth for families. Except for the volcanoes but we’ll get there.

— The first time my 2-year-old Mouse used skis herself. She was burning up the trails even then but this was the second day out and the last day of the season (for us) and she was done done done. I said something about taking her out on the “Little Kid Loop” behind the ranch [disastrous choice of words] and was told in no uncertain terms, “I don’t want to go on the little kid loop.” A bit of a meltdown ensued. I picked her up, skis and all and carried her back into the ranch, telling Bob [ski ranch owner, not Uncly Uncle], “We’re done!” Bob’s kids are approximately my kids’ ages and he definitely got it.

— “Dad, when you die, can I have that?” (A tiny little disc-like container of skin cream that he bought at the ranch.) Funny, she never asked if she could have the GG’s bean bomb, also purchased there…

— The time we somehow got to HL without a decent pair of mittens for Mouse to wear. It was late in the season and the Ski Ranch did not have any beauteous pink or purple-colored mittens left. They did have a loverly pair of gray ones. I was thinking that would be a hard sell until I came up with a genius idea. “Mouse, aren’t those a pretty mouse-color?” Bob, being a decent salesman (and father), very gingerly began referring to the color as “mouse-colored” too and pretty soon he had a sale. And Mouse had mittens.

— And then there was the time Mouse was about five and we decided it would be a good idea to take the snow urchins out on the Manitou, a relatively long trail. Liz and the GG got ahead and Mouse and I were just slogging along. I don’t really think the trail was too long for my mouse physically but I do think she was bored with skiing at that moment and I was kind of wondering where the heck we were and if we’d ever get back to the Trapper’s Cabin. In the end, I was carrying all four ski poles and holding her hand. And then, out of the blue, my mouse piped up with, “Mom? I’ve been thinking about volcanoes too much.” Who knew?

— Finally… 13 years ago… Mouse said, “Mom when you are [insert age with a 0 at the end], I will be faster than you at skiing.” (Mouse was 14 then and ALREADY faster than me.) I started to open my mouth to make some kind of smart-alecky retort but stopped short as I realized, THAT’S ONLY 13 YEARS FROM NOW! Friends. That 13 years went fast. Mouse is still faster than me but I am faster than most of the traditional x-c skiers out there. I cannot beat the skaters. I do not even care to. But Mouse is waaaaay faster than me.

It was sooooo much fun skiing with my Mouse again today. It’s been a while. I posted a seven second video of her skiing down a hill on facebook today, so if we are friends there, you can see it. The photooo I posted here is of the GG and Mouse returning from a little snowshoeing expotition back in the swamp behind the Group Home. We didn’t have enough pairs of appropriate boots here for all three of us to participate but I needed a wee bit of Moom Alone time anyway so all was well. Mouse is wearing my old clodhopper boots, my fancy new “modern” snowshoes and a whole bunch of her own Mouseknit clothing.

I spent many years skiing along behind small children. It was slow and sometimes tedious and people got cold or bored or cranky or whatever (including me!). (And of course I got plenty of chances to ski unfettered.) I knew at the time that one day I would miss all of that. Friends, I am there now and I do sorely miss it.

P. S. Here are the Fleet Foxes for your listening pleasure. I love the band and I love the song along with about a gazillion other people, I guess. I sort of understand it but not totally but it kind of brings tears to my eyes. Not a whole lot of music does that.

Good night from the Group Home @ Houghton Lake,
KW

Champagne flight

Friday, February 14th, 2014

moonFlying and drinking and drinking and driving. Line outta the Right Stuff if my memory is accurate but it prob’ly isn’t. When I was in college people did actually drink and drive. I mean, I know they still do but back then the legal limits weren’t as stringent as they are now and I can remember a couple of people getting stopped by the po-leese and told to just GO HOME! Not so much nowadays. I’m not offering an opinion one way or another. I don’t drink and drive though.

And I didn’t tonight although I did have a wee little glass of whine *before* we left for the Group Home @ Houghton Lake tonight. Mouse rode up here with us and we were waiting for her to arrive and I was antsy as all getout like I usually am when we’re trying to launch somewhere and I knew it was ridiculous but I couldn’t help it. But then. Hey, a bottle of whine on the counter. I poured a half glass. What the heck, I wasn’t gonna drive. I was gonna sit in the back seat and read, etc., on my phone. And so I did. Half the time I even had to look at my phone to know where we were. That was a good feeling. I am usually obsessively counting miles. Like West Branch is mile marker 212, how much farther is it to West Branch? Next stop Houghton Lake! It’s not that I am an anxious little “when are we gonna get there” kid. Just that I drive the I75 SUV Speedway soooo often and I get soooo taaaaared of it sometimes. But we had dry roads! Yes! (I think we’ll take the Mouse Store route home.)

That is the moon there! Over Houghton Lake. I think I took the picture through a screen but I’m not sure. I am taaaared and the GG keeps asking me if I want vegetables and ranch dip. I do not. Not right now. I am not hungry. Reminds me of a certain macaroni and cheese episode back in the Jurassic Age. Skiing tomorrow. Cheers and good night!

Skating along through advanced algebra in a dark brown wig

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

rosagroutFacebook is so much fun sometimes. I am friends with a lot of Soo gals who were figure skaters when we were children. I envied those kids so much, with their twirls and jumps and sparkly costumes. I used to ask if I could be in the skating club too but I gave it up pretty quickly because The Comm did NOT want me in that club. I don’t know if I should divulge this or not but The Comm could be a bit of a snob at times and I don’t think she liked the idea of mixing it up with the Skating Moms very well. After a number of years dealing with Acting Moms, I now know what she meant.

That’s not that I didn’t ever get to skate. There was the skating rink on the basketball court right across the street from our little bungalow down on Superior Street. I remember skating FAST across the ice and flinging myself on top of the snowbanks that surrounded the rink, rolling onto my back, and looking up at the stars. Pure joy! Then there was the next door neighbor who would make a rink on the empty lot between our houses. On a really lucky Saturday, somebody would drive us down to the Pullar Stadium for public skating. I doubt I’d’ve ever been a good skater even with lessons but it was fun and it’s a bit ironic to me that nowadays my goal is to NOT slide on ice, hence my YakTrax have been firmly attached to my boots all winter.

So, what does that “old” lady in the photooo have to do with skating? A facebook friend posted an old photo of herself in a beauteous skating costume. There were a lot of comments and I don’t remember exactly how the conversation got to this point but somebody else commented with a photo of Mrs. Grout, our advanced algebra teacher in Siberia. I LOVED Mrs. Grout. I was a math nerd, albeit a closeted one for the first two years of high school. kwI came outta the closet junior year, which was advanced algebra (unless you were my music friend Rothwell, who took math classes at the college). I LOVED advanced algebra. Mrs. Grout was one of those strict old-school teachers who didn’t take any you-know-what. We were there to learn, by golly. She ran a tight ship but those of us who worked hard (and I did because it was FUN!) knew that she loved us.

My fave memory from that class? We were taking a test. I was wearing a dark brown WIG! Yes, really! Wigs were a fad in my high school and I had three of them. I’m sure I looked TERRIBLE in that wig. I can’t feature what Mrs. Grout must’ve thought of it but I’m sure she gave me a pass knowing that I was just trying to find a way to fit in with the in crowd. I also had a bad code id by doze. I was going through Kleenex like there was no tomorrow. Mrs. Grout was walking up and down the rows of desks making sure nobody was copying. I think she knew I was not copying but there was a snotty old wadded up Kleenex on my desk. Her hand swooped down and her index finger and thumb grabbed the merest corner of my snotty old Kleenex and removed it.

So that’s my beloved teacher Mrs. Grout in that photooo and I bet you can’t guess who is in the other photooo. I would like to say that it was a very bad hair day but pretty much *every* day is a bad hair day. I wasn’t into all the airbrushing and stuff that some people had done with their senior pictures. I remember overhearing one gal say, “I had my sweater tinted pink.” Roight. (I think I look more Fin than Mac in this photo but whatever.)

P. S. The Comm may not have wanted me in the skating club but I cannot forget the time she had cataract surgery (at 88). Her eyesight improved exponentially but the anesthesia hung around for a couple of days. And so, 24 hours (or so) after the surgery, she was marveling at how well she could see and made this statement: “Well, if I want to skate, I will just skate.” Um, I understood Commander-speak pretty well and “skate” translated to “drive”. No moom, not yet. But at least you don’t need your tricycles any more… A couple years later I did have to remove her driving privileges. I did what I could to allow her to save face. Sigh. Love my moom wherever she is.

A little ray of hope via Mr. Golden Sun (and LED lighting)

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

backyard5:30 AM. My iPhone proclaimed one degree Fahrenheit. Was it above or below zero? I honestly don’t remember. I can dress for my Skunk Walk at that temperature and walking was wunderbar this morning! For whatever reason, the radio kept saying things like minus 10 or minus 12 or even minus 15. Not. Well, maybe it was down at the Planet Ann Arbor airport where it is often significantly colder than everywhere else in town. I work down by there and the trees *were* frosted in that area but it didn’t *feel* like minus 10 when I got out of my vee-hickle at work. Or maybe they were reporting the wind chill? I reeaalllly reeallly wish that, when they report the temperature, they state clearly whether it is the wind chill temp or the absolute temp. I actually don’t really care what the wind chill is. If it’s windy, it feels colder. That’s plain old common sense. We need more of that in this world.

Anyway, I felt another little hint today. You know the kind. Where you suddenly see kayak rides and pontoon boat expotitions to the tiki bar (and moe-skee-toes and ticks (YICK!)) in the future. I felt the first hint of this over the weekend. Did I blahg about it then? I don’t remember. We are not done with Old Man Winter yet and won’t be for a while but I wonder how many more below zero Skunk Walks I will have to bundle up for. Oh well, if we do have more of those mornings, and we probably will, I am ready for them!

lightsDidja know? Did I tell you? I am getting LED light strips! I am so excited! I am getting them under my cabinets. I love this. I have no fewer than FOUR (count ’em) clunky old fluorescent tubes underneath my current cabinets. I am not a huge fan of bright overhead light. I like natural light from the outdoors — that’s why I always keep my big wooden front door open when I’m home. After dark, I like low lighting except where I need to see. I like wee little LED xmas-style lights. I like being able to read stuff on my laptop / iPhone / iPad in a dark room. The lighting of the future. I will have some other overhead-style lights for when they are needed but I am so happy to get rid of the fluorescent thingies and replace them with LED. If I had renovated The Landfill Chitchen 20 years ago (or maybe even five years ago), LED anything would probably not be an option. I wasn’t even thinking about lighting all that much. Although now that I think about it, CKL did ask me about it and I talked about it rather articulately. For me.

And I am getting rid of the “box-work” or “soffets” or whatever the heck you call them everywhere and on the north side of the chitchen, I will be able to put pretty stuff on top of the cabinets for display purposes and string little LED lights along them. Old glass vases and things from The Commander’s house and fancy liqwire bottles that the GG bought back in a blueberry liqueur-making phase. He is always doing something. Today it was shoveling snow. Alas. We did not get more snow today (thank you god) but the plow came by and plugged up the end of the driveway. I schlepped the Frog Hopper up the driveway after work and then headed to the Plum Market, planning to shovel out the plow-plug when I got home. But I fergot! Sorry.

In which the Landfill Chichen strikes back at KW

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

chitchen1Apparently The Landfill Chitchen knows its days are numbered. Actually the *bottom* drawer is already broken and has been for years. I think I slammed it in a few too many times during some of my, well let’s just say they were not my finest moments. I used to keep plastic containers in that drawer but it became impossible to use and so I sorted them out, flung the orphans and moved them above the refrigerator. Even though I have to use a stool to get above the refrigerator. The top drawer has probably been slammed a couple of times but not recently and it wasn’t broken until this weekend. I was kind of resigned to living with the drawer hanging out over there on the counter but the GG is fixing it (using another language, as my Grandaddy would’ve said).

KW slams drawers? Yes she has been known to do that. Ask the GG. Actually, don’t ask the GG. Let me tell you something though. I am a “spirited” person. I have oodles and oodles of positive energy but occasionally a low pressure system moves in and I have to have a thunderstorm to clear the air brain. When I am over it, I move on. I am not the only Fin with a personality like this although others have cooler heads. I am NOT bi-polar in any way and I am not a violent person. I occasionally throw a dishrag at somebody. You can guess who. I will only say that I was NOT the person who threw a dishrag at My Dear Uncle Harry! I would NEVER do that!

chitchen2I call my kitchen the chitchen because that’s (more or less) how Lizard Breath said it when she was learning to talk and started naming rooms in the house. Chitchen, Back Room, etc. I’ve probably blahgged this before but when the beach urchins were babies, the GG and I shared job time. We worked for the same company at the same facility and I worked part time. He worked from 6 AM to 2 PM. I drove the beach urchins over at 2. I went to work (until 7) and he drove them home. We really didn’t want to put our kids in day care. I am NOT against quality day care in any way. I just didn’t want that for my children. We were extremely fortunate that we could manage that kind of situation. I think that people are still struggling with the issue of bringing up children while pursuing a career and I wish our culture supported working parents better. Heck, I have grown-up self-supporting children nowadays and a decent career as a systems analyst. But I had some breaks along the way that a lot of people don’t get.

So anyway, when we only had one baby and she was experimenting with talking, the GG would take her home every afternoon and there was a routine. I don’t remember the whole thing but I know it included the cuckoo clock and the n-gauge train in the Landfill Dungeon. I believe the GG set her up on a stool and she would watch the train go around the track and carefully place little plastic dinosaurs onto flat cars and then pick them up again.

I am not sure how I got to this point. Stream of consciousness, I guess. At any rate, I think the Landfill Chitchen knows that its days are numbered and it’s striking back at me.

Old friends and new friends

Monday, February 10th, 2014

tilesStarted the day with Eleanor and ended it with Kami. Start date ca. March 29. Projected timeline 17 days. I think that’s business days. If you are in the banking biz, it’s important to know the difference between business days and calendar days.

So, I met with my old friend Eleanor at the bank this morning and then we committed financial suicide with my new friend Kami this afternoon. I think we’re actually doing this! Late March through mid-April. The blue thing is my blacksplash tile. It matches one of my Le Creuset crocks pretty damn close, don’tcha think?

I hugged my new friend as we were leaving DreamMaker today. She gets me. I get her. I said something like, “We shouldda done this 20 years ago.” But if we had done it all those years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to work with Kami. She would’ve probably been in grade school. We’re not done with this prodject yet but I think we’ll be back for more.

The zen of chopping veggies to prep for “fast food” during the work week

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

snowbanksI’ve probably blahgged about this before but there are so many stages to a marriage. I won’t even begin to try list them here. There have been times when I wanted the GG to be around if at all possible. There have been times when I needed a bit of space. Nowadays I need spacification but I also miss having my best hiking/skiing/kayaking buddy around when he travels northward and I am in a time-banking mode.

This weekend? The GG spent last night in a DNR lodge with a buncha women! Yes, really. Pat and Marilyn and Joan and I fergit who else. Yes, those are all women. There were guys too. I loved that he listed all of those women though. They are all wonderful friends of both of us. A whole bunch of Hiawatha Shore to Shore North Country Trail folks showed up for my mom’s funeral visitation and I will never ever ever forget that. I love those people.

This weekend I was torn between wanting to be spacified and wanting my life partner to be with me walking / skiing / showshoeing around town. In the end, I had a great weekend! I met npJane and Mouse downtown on Friday night. I flung and/or packed up crap from the Landfill Chitchen the rest of the weekend. I bundled up and walked and shoveled and whatever. I packed up a few more banker’s boxes in preparation for our upcoming kitchen reno and I chopped up a whole bunch of veggies for “fast food” during the week.

What else? I do not know. I took off on a long, snowy walk this afternoon. The GG was not home when I left and the last communication I had from him was during a cell phone call. He was on the southbound I75 SUV Speedway and he said something like, “Oh shit, I’m out of gas, I gotta stop.” He got home safely and we are hanging out in the back room of the Landfill with a faaarr in the faarrr place.

Good night and love y’all,
Kayak Woman