Archive for May, 2014

Dooya think it’s about time I put these babies away until the next Polar Vortex?

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

vortexheadgearThese two loverly hats saved my sanity* throughout the Polar Vortex, along with various other layers and accessories, including my long gray wool skirt, YakTrax and my REI hiking pole. Bomber hat on the left, balaclava on the right. I kept a little shambling mound on the Green Chair throughout the vortex. These hats plus my purple ski band, ski jacket, polartech vest and jacket, scarf, glubs. I could pick and choose appropriate layers as needed. The wool skirt was draped over a chair in the Monster Bedroom, easy to grab in the dark if needed without any rummaging around in the closet disturbing people who sleep a wee bit longer than KW (and I mean a *wee* bit because the GG is out and gone before KW gets home from her walk). Knock on wood, I don’t need that stuff any more. Shambling mound begone! It’s not too far away though, easily accessible should the Vortex make an encore appearance. After all, there is *still* ice in Gitchee Gumee…

Odd rhythm for a Saturday. Stayed up late last night (after midnight) to have a nightcap with Lizard Breath, who spent the night. I was thinking I shouldda been in bed a couple hours ago but it isn’t often I see my Lizard *alone* and actually get to talk to her about, oh I dunno, her job, etc. Not that this was some big kvetching session — her job is fine! It was just that I can see similarities in how she and I approach our work — and some differences too. I couldn’t verbalize this stuff if I tried and if I could, I wouldn’t talk about it on my blahg. Suffice it to say that I appreciated a bit of “quality time” with my [adult] kid and so sacrificed some sleep. Well worth it.

So, up early and taaarrred (but no overhang!) so the first question I asked the GG after I got out of the shower was, “How much coffee do you put in the coffee maker?” Because I don’t usually run the coffee maker. I usually launch full-tilt-boogie out of bed, into the shower, and off on a 3-mile hike. I do not think about coffee! This morning I drank two cups, cleaned out the refrigerator and then, when all the chaos cleared, I text-messaged the heck out of Mouse to get up and meet me at the farmer’s market! And so we did. I walked down but caught a ride back here with her in Daisy. She spent the next few hours in her gardens and I spent them picking at various things inside and out. You know that a walk over to the Plum Market occurred.

All in all, it was one of those days when small goals were accomplished if not larger ones. Those days can frustrate me but they are necessary and I tried to roll with it today. I was grateful for Mouse’s presence. I had felt a bit melancholy all morning. I am okay now (I was *okay* then, really). When I get “down”, I make myself get up and get moving! Ten minutes of walking and I am seeing things in a different light. But I am a social enough person that I like somebody else around at least part of most days even though I may not always be very talkative. Therefore, it was nice to have my Mouse around for a while.

Chores? Oh, boring stuff like cleaning the *smelly* garbage cart plus “J”‘s bucket to take up to the moominbeach and a little weeding / raking. (I can see PI in the woods but it is not coming through the fence into my back yard — yet!) “Processing” veggies from the farmer’s market, laundry, setting Roooomba off on a mission to vacuum the half of the Monster Bedroom that can actually be vacuumed by a robot (don’t ask). A mission to buy toilet paper (which I found) and a flexible hose (which I didn’t, so I had to order one). And then I pruned my RSS feed and a few other computer type things and even sent a small exploratory probe into downsizing the 30K photos I have in iPhoto. That didn’t last long but “Rome” wasn’t built in a day and it’ll take a while to downsize it.

Walk in the woods to end the afternoon, now I’m baking most (or maybe all) of a dinner that I expect will last a few days. Or a couple days and some lunches. Or whatever. Salmon (Copper River! shoutout to AgateGal for the tip a few years ago — I just about “died” when I saw it at my fave Plum Market), Yukon Gold potatoes, corn (no corn in the Great Lake State yet, Fla will have to do for now), green salad, and Veggie Saute. What’s in my saute? Lemme see, “baby” zucchini and patty-pan squashes, scallions, baby beets from the farmer’s market and whatever herbs I decide to use. Alas, dried for tonight.

What else? I don’t remember and you do not probably care and that’s okay! I’m sitting here in the very green Landfill back yard. As the GG has been known to say, “The Planet Ann Arbor is a garden.” True, except during the PV.

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

* Hats saving my sanity? Because they allowed me to go outside and WALK!

Old Ann Arbor hippies

Friday, May 30th, 2014

hippiesOh not really, although I don’t mind being mistaken for an “old Ann Arbor hippie”. We didn’t intend to dress alike tonight, or at least I didn’t. I was going to wear something else for my trek down to the Oscar Tango tonight but at the last minute I just bagged it. I don’t care what I look like and I just wanted to be comfortable. I suspect that the GG suspected that I would wear tie-dye and decided to match me and there we were and Mouse was with us tonight and she got the photooo.

I have been mistaken for an Ann Arbor hippie (old or not) more than a few times in my life. I have complicated thoughts about my identity: Yooper, Planet Ann Arbor extraterrestrial, classical musician, would-be fiber artist, vagabond masquerading as an IT professional, hiker / skier / kayaker, beach-slugger, Black-thumb gardener, social progressive / fiscal conservative, flinger. Ann Arbor hippie? I was a wanna-be back in my teenage years, hanging out in the frozen north trying like heck to figure out how to be “cool” and fit in. Hippie? I loved the look and I did my best to emulate it — when I wasn’t trying to emulate some other look. By the way, I am kind of rambling along here, not kvetching about anything.

I could tell you about the time a prospective boyfriend-type person pegged me as an Ann Arbor hippie. I had him pegged as a frat boy. We were both pretty wrong, not to mention wrong for each other, although we made a pass at it (and he was a good person). Or the time all four of us were dressed up in tie-dye at the Log Slide (4-minute video) and some free-spirit-newly-divorced-type woman asked us where we were from… “Ooohhh, old Ann Arbor hippies”. She was trying to get her kids to go down the log slide. I thought she was nuts. Climbing back up 500 feet in deep sand? No thank you… I think she was more hippie than me.

A few minutes ago, I thought I remembered another hippie incident but it has slipped my mind. Oh yeah, it’s probably has to do with people looking at me aghast like I grow pot in my yard when I tell them where I live. Er, not, my job required a drug test, plus KW learned early on that she and pot do *not* go together. Anyway. Then there was tonight when we were walking up the hill toward home and somebody in a car came up behind us and yelled something about “those hippies”. It’s okay, it was just our friend John and (alas) the talk quickly devolved into the R-word, which I have trouble with but that’s a whole ‘nother topic and not one I will be discussing here on the old blahg.

Man oh man, am I taaarrrred tonight or what? Walked home from the Oscar Tango, took a shower and just kind of collapsed for a while. Watching videos of people going down (and up) the Log Slide probably didn’t help. I am surfacing a bit now. I only hope I don’t get a second wind. Better to wind down at this time of night.

Kayak Woman

The Rules

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

hikingrulesThis sign was posted at the beginning of the Trail Between the Falls Sunday morning. That would be the Tahquamenon Falls in The Great Lake State’s upper peninsula, aka the Yooperland. Y’all knew that “Yooper” is now in the dictionary, right? (The Commander HATED the word Yooper.) Anyway, we have hiked the trail between the falls many a time and, on a normal Memorial Day weekend, that hike could easily fall into the list of conceivable possibilities of Things To Do. Although the bugs are often bad that weekend…

This particular MDW, we did not plan for such a hike. Why? Because we knew that the trail was closed due to extremely high water. It is a difficult trail by Great Lake State standards and I was really rather relieved to do a series of smaller trails on what turned out to be a hot sunny day. I love a good Death March but we don’t *always* have to do one.

So, let’s look at these rules…

Hikers should bring plenty of water and wear good shoes. I have hiked that trail plenty of times in horrible shoes. Not that Chaco sandals are horrible for hiking. They are very good but they do not provide a whole lot of protection from things like stubbed toes, etc. I persisted in wearing my Chacos for many years and I still love them but I now have a couple pairs of Keens, which are a bit more rugged. Probably my worst footwear choice EVER for that trail was a late fall hike after some snow had already fallen. The Commander did not “approve” of my chosen footwear (the trusty OLD snow boots that carried me warmly through the Polar Vortex this year) and convinced me to wear a VERY OLD pair of leather boots of hers. Big mistake. The Commander’s feet are a whole size bigger than mine and these boots did not fit and therefore kept pulling my socks down over my heels. The Comm was not a hiker and I knew better than to listen to her… Love you moom but I am having trouble letting go of that incident and many other footwear things…

There is no cell phone service along the trail. No, there is not. The nearest cell phone service is 10 miles away in Paradise, which now has the 4G / LTE. I am here to tell you that last 4th of July, Paradise had only a sliver of Edge service. By October, life had changed. In Paradise. Still, if you are at Tahquamenon Falls, you are in the wilderness. Those tourists you see everywhere using their phones and speaking in every language on earth except English? They are taking pictures. (And so am I.) (And I love hearing the different languages at Tahquamenon. It is a wonderful place to visit as is the yooperland in general. I just don’t remember when all of these lovely folks started showing up. They weren’t around when I was a beach urchin.)

The trail is 4.8 miles and features exposed roots, stairways, and difficult terrain. Yes, yes, and yes. I love this trail but it has to be the most-traveled section of the North Country Trail in the yooperland. It erodes quickly and it is extremely hard to maintain. I know a bare minimum about maintaining trails after hanging out with the HSS NCT Chapter, just enough to know how difficult it is.

You can also get to the upper falls by driving. Yes, you can. And we did, on Sunday. We did some small bits of strenuous hiking in the lower falls area but the Twins took the Frog Hopper to the upper falls and I got to ride with Sam and jcb in their Prius. Still, this is good advice and should be heeded by those who may not know what they are getting into attempting that trail.

The shuttle does not operate year-round. Check the schedule before starting your hike. I have never taken the shuttle. In fact, it is a new thing. It is a good thing. In the old days, you had no choice but to spot two cars or hike both directions. We often hike both directions and did that last July although we toyed with the idea of taking the shuttle back. In the end, we weren’t sure we wanted to hang around and wait for the shuttle, so we just hoofed it back. After lunch at the brewery… It was hotter than Hades that day and I actually got sweaty enough to take a dip in gitchee gumee when we got back to the moominbeach. Of course the shuttle is not operating this year (yet) because the trail is closed.

Spring Beauty

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

springbeautyThat’s the name of this cute little spring wildflower up here in the Great White North. There were carpets of these things up at Tahquamenon last weekend. I may be misremembering this but it seems like my BFF wasn’t sure of the name. That was a bit weird since her dad was The Botanist and she knows about a gazillion more things about plants than I do. I kill plants. I have a black thumb. Somehow, after years of encountering Spring Beauty early in the spring in the Great White North and asking people over and over “What is that flower?”, I know the name. Folks have asked me the name too. I didn’t know it then but I do now and I tell people what that blasted wildflower is with confidence! Of course, that only makes people think that I know nature-type stuff. So they ask me stuff that I do not know. Except for what I do know… Is this recursive? I think so. For me to be able to answer a question about a wildflower for a botanist’s daughter, no less…

How far does the apple fall from the tree? I do not know. The Botanist’s daughter is not a botanist but she does have a Phd in archaeology. Not too far off in terms of education at least and she knows a heckuva lot about plants to boot. Me? I follow my dad in a few ways. A banker’s daughter. He was a “slacker” if you want to call him that, a guy who didn’t graduate from college but worked his you-know-what off to be a successful *honest* banker and a greatly-respected citizen to boot. Much more intelligent than he got credit for in his life, if his military records are correct. Me? A slacker. Yes. Music degree that I’ve never done anything with. Successful careers nevertheless. Online banking? Yes. A thing my dad never quite got the hang of, even though it happened well before he died. I caught on to it right away and now I am working in that industry, trying my darndest to make online banking a better experience for all the folks who use it. Not all that far from the tree, am I?

Spring Beauty? Oh my god, I got a phone call from Dreammaker this morning. K and company want to do a professional photo shoot of my beautiful new Landfill Chitchen. Of course, my first reaction is something like, “I have to clean!” The reality is that they will take stuff out of my kitchen that they don’t need and put their own props in there and then put stuff back when they are done. I’m sure that this photo shoot will be posted on their own site to show what you can do with an ugly 70s kitchen. I don’t care. I loved our renovation. There were a few weeks when cooking dinner was a challenge but I expected that and it was much less trouble than I had expected.

Toadily roto (ducking various missiles)

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

foggywoodsI got hardly any exercise today so why am I feeling so fatigued? (Is that an oxymoron? “Oxymoron” is one of those words that I *think* I know but probably don’t…) I suppose it might have something to do with the mad scramble to clean up the moomincabin and pack all of our crap into the Frog Hopper this morning, then the five hour drive down the I75 SUV Speedway.

When we got up this morning, it was 40-something degrees and foggy, so I dressed appropriately. Were there any freighters out there? I would’ve had to check Marine Traffic to tell you. I do know that I didn’t hear any foghorns. We drove up Chickadee Lane and out of the fog and the temperature rose pretty quickly to the upper 60s or whatever — with a big dip back into the 40s at the Big Mac, which was also fogged in. By the time we got down into the upper lower I think we were in the 70s. We made a stop at Houghton Lake so I could change into something a little cooler (and we could drink a razz-ber-ita down by the lake). Will razz-ber-itas and their cousins become this summer’s “thing”? Probably not with Generation 4, who prefer craft beer and Franhattans — flawed as they are, but the “old” men, aka the Twinz of Terror, seem enamored with them, although they also don’t turn down a Franhattan at cocktail hour.)

Where the heck was I? Oh yeah, left HL with a few more moe-skee-toe bites than before our arrival and then the Speedway from somewhere north of Flint to The Planet Ann Arbor sucked. There’s something to be said for stretching out Memorial Day weekend an extra day or two to avoid the holiday traffic but we had the early stage of rush hour traffic to deal with at the end of our yooperland commute. A different aminal and not a fun one.

I didn’t get much done this afternoon beyond getting unpacked, throwing a couple loads of laundry in, and walking to the Plum Market. Aaaahhhh. I needed that little walk.

Oh, we took a hitchhiker home with us today and no, it is not a goddamn tick! (Knock on wood that we *don’t* have any goddamn tick hitchhikers!) It is someone very very very green, who needed a good road trip to The Planet Ann Arbor with his buddy the Froog. Our hitchhiker will be well taken care of here and he will be able to visit his owner and y’all would probably have died laughing watching Old Baggy take off running BAREFOOT down the road when his owner drove in last night. Git over here buddy! I know you’re hiding but so am I. I love you *anyway*.

The GG grilled three out of the four nights we were at the moomincabin so I am doing *all* of the cooking inside tonight. It’s boring. I mean the menu is boring. Chicken thighs, rice, asparagus, salad. Oh well.


Memorial Day Bloody Monday

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Warning! Warning! This post includes photos that may be disturbing to some, mainly dead animals or parts of them.

Although KW does not kill or harm animals, she has seen many dead animals or animal parts wash up on the beach in her life & they do not *usually* bother her. Despite the title, these photos are not particularly gory or bloody. But just saying…

Dead animals have been known to create quite a stir here at the moominbeach, such as once when a huge sturgeon washed up down by Our Northern Correspondent’s stretch of beach. It was the talk of the octogenarians on the beach for days. Not sure why somebody didn’t just grab a shovel and bury it but that’s kind of the way things roll around here. More fun to watch something slowly decay and talk about it forever.

But back to today. First, we went up and hiked the nature trail on the old Read property. We were walking on an old beaver pond when we spied this loverly pile of fur. No bones. What was it?


Well, a bit further on, there was this deer leg, or part thereof. (We’ll get to the bloody Kleenex in a minute. It has nothing to do with the deer leg.) So who dunnit? I’m thinking not a human. Wolf? Bear? The answer is probably more prosaic. The deer probably starved to death and was eaten by rodents and carrion birds. Who knows why the leg was nowhere near the fur.


All right, dun dun dun, the Bloody Kleenex! That was for yer fav-o-rite blahgger, who came out on the bottom in a little scuffle with a stick during a bit of bush-whacking necessitated by a beaver pond that was flooding the trail. Just a little scrape but several pinpoint-sized wounds kept sending loverly little streams of blood kept running down KW’s leg. Annoyed? Why yes! Note to self: snag some of The Commander’s lifetime bandaid supply for your backpack!

Next up? Tick count! I think that little expotition snagged no fewer than eight unwanted travelers. I saw the GG putting a ziplock bag of ticks into the freezer and I asked him why the heck he didn’t just throw the plastic bag in the trash. Well. The answer is that the GG puts them in ziplock bags and freezes them until he can add them to his “collection” in the Lyme Lounge. A tick collection…


Finally, the GG took up temporary residence right smack in the middle of the path to the beach such that if I wanted to get to the beach, I had to walk to the side of his chair. And that meant that I had to navigate around all of his stuff… Bird book, Know Your Ships Book, various dirty napkins, a glass and a little can of Raz-ber-Rita (google it), bird head and wing. WAIT!!! BIRD HEAD AND WING? WHAT? Yes, this Caspian tern (or parts of it) was out at buoy 23 last night and today the GG kayaked out there to retrieve it.


Who dunnit? Probably a bigger bird, a raptor of some sort. I dunno where it is now. It is NOT in the freezer. The Commander’s older brother was a naturalist and she remembered him putting owls and things in the family refrigerator. I do not see a Caspian tern in the refrigerator.

This isn’t probably the most politically correct blahg post ever but it documents a slice of life here in the woods on the shores of Gitchee Gumee.


Double Valley

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

snowpileI do not know how to describe today, exactly, except to say that it was a beautiful play day. We drove over to Tahquamenon and met up with Sam and jcb, who drove up from the Green Cabin.

This was the kind of day… When the best thing to do was to go with the flow. That’s what I did. I think that various people (I won’t name them) wanted to do a Death March kind of hike. We didn’t do that. Instead, we did a series of small hikes. In the end, I think we were all happy with that.

This was the kind of day… When we all expected it wouldn’t be very warm. When I got out of the Frog Hopper in the parking lot at the lower falls, I still felt like I might need my polartech jacket. And I did for a while, but I wrapped it around my waist when we took the totally uphill side trail back to the lower falls gift shop.

This was the kind of day… When we got to the brewery and they weren’t serving alcohol yet. Duh, it is Sunday and it was only 11:12. Yes. It was KW’s decision to have an early lunch. And it was okay in the long run…

…because it was damn hot out today and don’tcha know there are no damn leaves on the deciduous trees yet and so hiking was different than it often is at this time of year, so I am a bit more sunburned than I expected to be but at least there were not damn moe-skee-toes and I haven’t encountered a damn tick yet, even though the Twinz of Terror and I hiked at Naomikong on the way home.

A loverly day of various small hikes and lunch with good friends. And an after-dinner putt-putt cruise.

The snowpile in the photo is not the biggest snowpile in Paradise but it is definitely the dirtiest!

I have no one to kitchen dance with here at the moomincabin

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Note that I need a female partner (or two or three) for kitchen dancing. I am here with two males. I love ’em but they are not appropriate kitchen dancers!

No “emergency” trips to the hardware were required for cabin opening this year and the GG was scheduled to help Captain Pete with an annual task that requires two people, so yer fav-o-rite blahgger made a solo trip to town for grokkeries, supplies, gasoline, aaaannnndd impatiens. I don’t do tooooo much to remember The Commander but I always pot multi-colored impatiens at the moomincabin on Memorial Day weekend or thereabouts. That’s what The Commander did and it seems to be one thing my Black Thumb doesn’t screw up. So here’s to you Mom!


About the time I finished potting the plants, I realized that the wind had died down and it was WARM out. Just like the predictions said it would be. I walked the beach barefoot for the first time this year. When I got down to Our Northern Correspondent’s end of the beach, a sandhill crane totally freaked out. That crane is in the next photo but s/he isn’t the photo’s focus. I’m sure this crane was protecting a nest and I didn’t try to get any closer.


And then the Uncly Uncle arrived with LUNCH! While the Twinz barbecued our lunch, I threw caution to the winds and launched a kayak for a wimpy little paddle along the shore to Doelle’s. I posted this photo on facebook and a friend cautioned me about the need to wear a wetsuit. I do not own a wetsuit but he is dead right that if you are going to kayak in Gitchee Gumee at this time of year (especially this year), you need a wetsuit. I was very close to the shore. It is shallow there and, unless something very weird happened, it would’ve been an easy albeit cold walk to shore. Again, note that there are no leaves on the deciduous trees here. Pretty late, even for the Yooperland.


Finally, I was sitting down there getting sunburned (yes) and the Twinz of Terror came scrambling down the path with a Bote Engine. For the Putt-Putt Bote. The next three photos show the Twinz scrambling that Putt-Putt Bote down off the bank. They launched it and the motor started up like a charm, unlike last year on our wedding anniversary (snort snort). They took off and became Porterized. I have yet to get there.




Vestiges of the Polar Vortex

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

As much as I was thirsting for a long Memorial Day weekend vacay in the Great White North… This morning, I took the compost out and just look at the May Apples that we have in our back yard. Makes it so hard to leave town.


But of course we left *anyway* and here we are at Clyde’s in St. Ignace. It’s not our usual Clyde’s — the one that overlooks the shipping channel — but it’s just as good and it did the job. And I loved the waitress.


We stopped at the Park Store on the way because we had forgotten to tote up some fresh water (we don’t drink the well water until we have run it for a few days). When we got here, we found that the Polar Vortex had left us a nice little note of remembrance.


We took a little trip over to Porterland given that Porterization will hit Birch Point later tonight if it hasn’t already. They have a much bigger snowbank than we do. Our little snowbank is now half the size it was when we got here.

I want to say more but I think I am done for the time being. The GG is chomping at the bit to grill the steaks.

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

Texting from the Water Closet

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

redbudThis redbud photo is not very well framed but it is better than my usual attempts at photographing redbug redbug redbug redbud (three strikes, you’re out!) in that it is fuzzy in all the right places.

I was saddened to hear (via twitter, of course) that a long-time local theatrical organization is folding. I don’t know exactly what the issues were but I am familiar with the issues a non-profit arts organization faces. I can only guess about the specific financial challenges. I suspect that there were also interpersonal difficulties at play. I am guessing all of this because my “middle” “career” happened to be in non-profit theatre management. “Middle” means that it was sandwiched between my “childhood” career (computer programmer / systems analyst) and my “adult” career (business systems analyst). “Career” means that I was paid doodly-squat. That was sometimes kind of okay but not when I had to do things that I felt someone else in the org should be doing (would be MUCH better at doing than I was. Like soothing panicky helicopter parents whose kid didn’t get the role they wanted. Etc.). It’s a long story that I won’t go into but it plays into why arts orgs fail. Although I believe my old YAGgie org is still going strong!.

Oooh, this was maybe too close to KW’s heart, given how much of a nonsensical screed that last paragraph was. There were good times too. You know that. Many many many of them.

What I want to say (and probably can’t coherently articulate) is that I think the arts are highly undervalued in the first world country that we live in. Yes it is a first world country although by the condition of the roads in the Great Lake State, someone might not perceive that. I *absolutely* think that the so-called science curriculum (STEM?) is important. We *need* rigorously trained scientists and engineers, etc.

We need artists too. I think I was a great artist as a child in many media but music is what I pursued as a young adult, although I don’t really practice the flute or piano any more. From my experience in the theatre world, those are the folks who are capable of making the world a better place. I am not talking about the divas or the “cute wanna-be” actresses. I am talking about the folks who work their butt off to get a successful play production off the ground, whether or not they are acting in the play, which they may be. There are many skills involved in producing a play and, believe it or not, some of them have something to do with science. In my experience, in a well-run play production, what makes the world go ’round is that everyone works together and uses whatever skills they have to create a quality product.

Texting on the terlet? Oh, don’t do it.

Lyme Loungin’

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

lymeloungingDon’tcha just love being alive in the 21st century? Digital photoooos alone are enough to make me happy! I never quite got the hang of film. Do *not* get me wrong! I *totally* appreciate old-skool film photography. But I was such a klutz. I had a couple of [film] cameras as a kid. The first one was a kind of boxy form factor (I may be dreaming this one up…) Then I think I had an instamatic. What a pain though. You shoot a roll of film (randomly, if you are me) and then you have to find *money* to get that film developed (or build a dark room, like my buddy Kev did) and *usually* a *ride* to someplace that will develop the film. My parents were pretty indulgent overall. Money was not that hard to come by but I knew that we were not rich and so I did not ask for much. Rides? My parents both loved to drive and I could almost always get a ride somewhere. Oh, and I knew they would not spring for a dark room… But still.

I broke my last film camera. It was a slick Nikon(?) automatic kind of thing. How did I ruin it? Well. Its demise was the result of certain panicking by a couple of [beloved] male members of my family and my FULL-TILT BOOGIE PANIC to shut the damn thing down. They were concerned that I might run the battery down, if I remember accurately. They were jumping up and down shouting at me, so I shut the damn camera down… while it was still rewinding the film… Sigh… I love you guys ANYWAY! Wherever you are.

Digital? I can do digital. I am ABSOLUTELY an amateur photographer but I was an early adopter of digital camera technology, we’re talking late 1990s here. You take a gazillion photos and you delete (or not) all of the bad ones. Alas, I have gotten into some bad habits where I have NOT been diligent about deleting bad photos, either from my iPhone or iPhoto. It was kind of embarrassing when I handed my phone to our QA manager so she could see photos of the Landfill Chitchen Reno and she asked, “You have 6000 photos on your phone?” Yes. Sticking out my tongue at my old coot and The Engineer*.

Weird noises in the neighborhood? Last night: One gunshot! We’re pretty sure it was a gunshot. The GG thinks it was a rifle. This is really unusual in our nice but not fancy neighborhood. Usually gunshot-type sounds in our neighborhood can be traced to faaaarworks. This afternoon: fighter jet. I hear them occasionally, even when they are not in town for a Umich feetsball game. Once upon a time, the weekend after 911, when no planes were in the skies anywhere, I was hanging out on my strawberry iMac and a fighter jet flew overhead. Turns out that a private pilot didn’t understand the rules and took a small plane up.

* I doubt that my old coot would ever have adapted to digital photography but The Commander made a few inroads. The Engineer was alive during the early years of digital photos and he DID adapt to it. I wish he had been alive for the iPhone. He might have pooh-poohed it at first but so did I. I also think he would’ve embraced it and would have probably used it as a camera. Although not as his ONLY camera, like his terrible older sister does.

Magister mundi sum

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

ripplesAccording to Twitter, today is my 7th anniversary with that service. A little hard to believe. I joined quietly and for a while, the only people who followed me back were kayak boys (and a few kayak women). After all, my Twitter handle is @kayakwoman, of course. I posted random tweets about what I was eating for lunch doing.

At some point, I ‘fessed up to various family members that I was “on Twitter” and for a [short] while, Twitter was *the* place for family members to connect. I remember one particularly awful day. We were heading to the Cfam xmas party at the Lord and Lady of Linden’s in an ice storm and I was just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel following a nasty pre-xmas vomiting bug. I was feeling well enough to check Twitter on my iPhone and one of our nephews was tweeting updates about who was bailing because of the ice storm.

Well, then there was the time that the LSCHP King set up a Twitter account just so he could ping me up on the moominbeach during my vacation. He wanted to make sure I would be available for a “team bonding” expotition to a Star Trek exhibit down in Dee-troit. Cube Nayber was saying, “You could just *call* her.” No, he had to Tweet me. Nothing like getting a tweet from your boss while you’re sitting on the beach! [grin]

Facebook came along and the family jumped over there and so did I. My Twitter habits morphed and I now use it mainly as a news / info feed. I follow a number of newspapers and magazines and various design sites — and Lake Superior, Pope Francis (his Latin feed), and God or whoever. I hardly ever see tweets from anyone I know in real life. My own tweeting habits have devolved considerably and I mainly tweet when I have something totally off-the-wall to say. Things that are too snarky or cryptic for facebook, for example. If I want to post a photo somewhere and it isn’t quiiiite right for facebook, I put it out on Instagram. Life is complex these days.

The photoooo? Houghton Lake a couple weeks ago. Cap’n Jim took me and TBC for a sloooooowww ride along the shore in the Pontoon Bote.

You have performed an illegal operation. (Say it in a British accent. A dramatic one.)

Monday, May 19th, 2014

dishdrawerLast Wednesday, Cube Nayber came in and proceeded to have a pretty bad day. First of all, CN could not get in the door. It’s a “secure” door where you have to wave your badge at it and punch in part of your employee number. (No piggy-backing allowed!) It gets finicky sometimes. Then… dun dun dun… CN’s laptop would not boot up. The error message? Something like, “Can’t find disk.” Yeah, roight, we both said. Seen that message before. Usually doesn’t mean there’s no dern disk! Ticket was filed and escalated and the verdict was, “Send that baby back to the Mother Ship!” Been there done that. TWICE! Troubles come in threes, so they say, and there was a number three. All I will say about that was that it involved an elderly relative a trillion miles away but fortunately CN has living siblings, one of whom was “on duty” and fortunately, the crisis subsided. I was relieved for CN. Been there done that too.

Things looked pretty grim for the laptop — the expected turnaround time was 4-5 days and certain working documents were not backed up (and before you start tsk-ing at CN, backing things up is a challenge at my work for reasons that defy description). Anyway, this morning, the word from the Mother Ship was that THERE WAS NO DISK IN THAT LAPTOP!!! Say what? CN was out this morning and the Queen Bee was a bit panicky that we might be dealing with a theft! Which would be a bad thing as well as extremely weird, given the environment we work in. As it turned out, the disk FELL OUT and was found intact [hopefully] in the laptop bag. But no screws to keep it in the laptop. Were the screws missing from the beginning? Would you think to look at the bottom of your brand new laptop to see if there are actually screws holding the innards in? Some people would. I have owned more laptops than I can count at this moment (not to mention my work laptops) and I have NEVER checked to see if there were screws holding things in. We’ll talk about those hubcaps another time…

I finally unearthed the rest of my china. I rarely use the cups and saucers so they were not dredged out of the boxes with the rest of it. It all fits in this drawer! I had toyed with flinging this china (1980s Dansk) and buying something new and more colorful. My mother changed china at some point but I think that was because her Russell Wright collection had considerably dwindled. That was back in the day when, if you wanted replacement pieces, you had to write or call somebody to get replacement pieces. Remember when it cost an arm and a leg to make long-distance calls? (I’m sure it still does if you’re calling Senegal.) Nowadays, I can just head out to various replacement china websites or even eBay and replace stuff clickety-clickety.

I like the idea of storing dishiosheoooos in a big drawer. It’s right across the way from Albert (my dishwasher). (Toying with Albert as a name for the dishwasher. Bertie and Gertie? Gertrude being my stove…) Oh yeah, that’s our current Coffee Station up there on the counter. For now. When the chitchen got finished, I just moved the temporary Coffee Station into the chitchen. I think it will move / morph some before we are finished. For now, it’s okay where it is. It is notable that, for a long time, we did not have a coffee-maker. That would take a whole post, one which I have already written

Carefully Curated Clutter

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Pretty successful Work Weekend here at the Landfill. Rooooomba is going over and over and over (and over and over and over) the Landfill Dungeon utility room floor. She isn’t getting into every single nook and cranny in that room (because KW hasn’t moved absolutely everything out of the way) but she is getting the bulk of it. She’s a persistent little beastie, one who managed to push a mouse trap over to the door and wedge it underneath. KW has gotten a good start on washing the windows — at least the interior ones — and the Venetian blinds in the Monster Bedroom and the Blue and Only Bathroom. It was a bright sunshiney day and the Landfill is looking (and smelling, if you like the smell of Windex, that is) pretty darn good if I do say so myself. At least parts of it are looking good. Let’s try to ignore those parts that are not.

I am s-l-o-w-l-y moving stuff back into the Landfill Chitchen now. As much as I loved the clean, spare look of the new cabinets, tile, and wood floor, I found myself (as I knew I would) wishing for a bit more color. And some clutter, believe it or not! My Ikea rails *finally* arrived and the GG put them up yesterday (thank you!) so now I have most of my pots and pans hanging above Gertrude…


…aaannndd, well, we’ll just call these Frequently Grabbed-for Tools. These are among the things that I box-dived for right off the bat!


I am still strategizing optimum usage of all the big drawers I have. I had mostly cabinets before but somewhere along the line kitchen design introduced the concept of big wide drawers. I love them. The ones I am using. But I am still trying to figure out what should go where. I’ll get there. One piece of clutter I would like to get rid of is my dish drainer but, as a hard-core hand dish-washer, old habits die hard. Not that I am not using my loverly new dishwasher, just that there always seems to be something to hand-wash and y’all may know that KW is up for that.

What did the GG do toady today (one of my frequent typos)? Well of course he lay around sipping Kaintucky Bourbon and watching sports on TV built a fence. With a gate. To keep the henries and all the other varmints out of Mouse’s Garden. I hear tell that deer have been more and more frequently spotted in adjacent neighborhoods and are apparently causing a significant number of car / deer crashes. Enough that The Planet Ann Arbor city council actually recently discussed in a meeting a possible plan to allow deer hunting in the city. Yes, you read that right. We’ll see how that goes over… Nevertheless, it’s only a matter of time that we’ll have deer in the back yard. Of course there is more to “deer hunting in the city” than what I just wrote but — WALLAH! VOILA! — here is the GG’s new fence / gate.


If you have renovated your kitchen or built a new house (kitchen) or moved or are just wishful thinking, what kitchen tools did you / would you box-dive for first?

Would love to know but only comment if you want to 🙂 I am shy about commenting on blahgs too. G’night, KW

Didn’t Secretariat do that?

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

floweringcrabPssst… Did you know that Knight’s Steakhouse (aka our neighborhood pub) serves @strongdrinks? @damnarbor tweeted something to that effect today and somebody retweeted it. Apparently @damnarbor hadn’t ever been there before. I dunno why not but then I haven’t ever been to Pacific Rim and MMCB absolutely swears by Pacific Rim. @strongdrinks is Knight’s twitter handle and it fits and that’s why we almost always WALK there. Also because it’s right around the corner.

My fav-o-rite parts of this weekend? Hmmm… I missed doing our regular routine of walking down to the Oscar Tango and back last night, not to mention the Porterization!, but going downtown to Dee-troit was a lot of fun too. I’m glad our landing back on The Planet Ann Arbor was soft enough and early enough for the GG to set up his new ISS-Above station AND watch the internet for Pengie’s grad-walk. And then he crashed hard.

I wasn’t sure The GG would want to walk down to the farmer’s market today or not. We go EARLY. We aim to get there by 7:00 AM if we can manage it. He rose to the occasion and I think we were down at about Main at 7:11 AM. Not too bad. I love our farmer’s market trip and the food processing that occurs after it and then… I wash the bedsheets and the shower curtain (cloth) and send Roooomba out on various tasks to clean floors and I dunno. I am not the best housekeeper but I am not the worst. I usually make a walking trip over to the Plum Market or two and this weekend I tinked away at triaging kitchen stuff. Keep? Donate? Store for a while?

I hate the late afternoon. I am psychologically geared toward early morning and that is when I do my best work. We dealt with my late afternoon blues by heading out to Lowe’s to buy wood for various garden fences and a gate. I wish I had taken a picture of the clouds out there. They dumped on us when we returned to the Frog Hopper with our wood. The temperature was in the 40s but it felt like 30-something.

In which the Red Plaid Nation goes to the art museum

Friday, May 16th, 2014

That is, if you can get to the art museum. Getting off of the Planet Ann Arbor on a Friday afternoon? No can do. I finally decided to drive all the way through downtown over to the web of WWII-style cloverleaf freeway interchanges near Arborland in order to get to the I94 18-wheel Slogway because I knew the other THREE entrances were HOSED! And I96 is CLOSED so no point in taking that route! Getting down to Daytwa was not the quickest trip but we were mostly moving. We did the last few miles on largely deserted Michigan Ave. and got to the Green Dot Stables just in time to get a table before people started lining up.

I don’t want to say too much about Liz’s job because it’s her business but she is the type of person who functions as “the glue” pretty much wherever she lands. I think it is more okay to talk a bit about *where* she works. MOCAD is a contemporary art museum located in an old car dealership on Woodward in Detroit. Although improvements have been made throughout the building, a lot of the “bones” have been left as is. Not the best photo but this area is where the band plays and the drinks, etc., are served. We had one drink but didn’t stay around for the band because, you know, farmer’s market in the morning and Work Weekend!


This is the kind of stuff that will often stop the GG in his tracks for an impromptu inspection. What is it and what does it do?


Here’s the main exhibit room. No, there isn’t anything there yet. The artist is going to reside in Detroit and paint things on all of those canvases. We’ll have to return in June and see what he has created.


Well, actually there are some exhibits. There’s this colorful piece!


Of course there are the people. Here’s a clumsy bit of kinnearing. Check out those smiley face leggings. I did not manage to kinnear the lady with the purple pants. Yes, I am channeling The Commander. I don’t think I will attempt to explain in what way [grin].


And of course, there was this representative of the Red Plaid Nation, looking a bit out of place away from the Great White Northern Woods. I didn’t have to kinnear him!


Muuuuuch smooooother drive HOME and then, we thought we totally missed Pengie’s commencement for her master’s in forensic anthropology or some such thing, I wouldn’t know, I’m just a lowly old baggy old systems analyst. But no, due to the wonders of the world wide web, there was a video link and the GG was patient and persistent enough to watch it until our Pengie walked across the stage and received her diploma and hood(?). I took this crappy photo, which I am shamelessly posting without her permission (and I’ll take it down if it’s not okay with her). Congratulations!


And so, good night. Lots to do this weekend. Wash those windows, KW!

My friends from Atlanta are wandering around the Plum Market…

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

It was late in my work day and I received a text message from Sam of Archaeofacts and jcb. I walked over to the Queen Bee’s office and I just barely got the words in the title out when she said, “Go home!” An evening of whine, song (YouTube link), and lasagne ensued. Song? Well you had to be here to understand the story but kitchen dancing was involved.

If you know my Sam and I in real life, you might think we are always all about being happy and having fun. And we are, make no mistake. We have been doing that together for something like 35 years now. But we have also been through a lot of “stuff” — together or in parallel — and both of us have been operating in a sort of recovery mode the last couple of years.

Sam and jcb headed out a while ago. They have a hotel reservation in the Lansing area and are heading up to open the Green Cabin tomorrow. Yes, it is that season. The Moomincabin is next. I don’t have much else to say tonight except that I started out the day having coffee with MMCB and ended it here at The Landfill with Sam and jcb, whine and lasagne. Friends make the world go ’round.

Oh yeah, and then, since we all share various levels of geekiness, there was a robot (YouTube link).

deja vu

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

dejavuSomebody from tweeted today that we were going to get a lot of rain over the next few days but the weather had stopped trying to kill us.

This broken tree was down in W1.5’s neighborhood today. Scenarios like this were all over the place down there. There was a rather obvious path. To an untrained eye (like mine), it looked a lot like a tornado had blown through. The weather experts say it was strong straight-line winds. I will defer to them. Also, I will guess that a tornado would’ve caused more building damage. The only damage I saw to houses was where trees or branches had fallen on them.

My little corner of the neighborhood was untouched, thank you very much! Not so much back in 2000 and 2008.

I didn’t have a blahg in 2000 but I did have a website and that’s where I posted the photos when the first tree fell onto our house. It was something like three in the morning and some rough weather was coming through and I was a little nervous but the GG was all excited about the incoming wind/thunderstorms. There were a few thunderbolts and that was okay but then there was a huge burst of wind and a huge thunder. Except that noise wasn’t thunder, it was a tree falling on the house. The GG and I jumped out of bed and our teenaged beach urchins met us in the “hall”. Everyone was okay, including our guinea pig and Izzy the rat. Luke of Perrynet (aka “You’re not Shuggy”) watched the whole thing and saw the top third of the tree “explode” and fall. He watches everything. We appreciate him.

2008… I took Friday afternoon off from my new loverly systems analyst job. We drove to Sault Ste. Siberia to visit The Commander and Radical Betty that day. The next morning there was a huge snowstorm but it all melted before noon and so we were at Kenny’s Pitchen for lunch and I received a message from that same neighbor saying, “A tree hit your house.” I get so much spam email that I almost deleted that one but… Perrynet? I read it and then I called. That tree hit Mouse’s bedroom but it was okay because nobody was home at the time.

Now that we have FINALLY revamped the ugly old Landfill Chitchen, I am so glad that no trees fell on my house!

I’ve drinken the kool-aid

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

seagullBut not out of this loverly cup. I snagged this cup at Little Boots Country Diner for my coffee Sunday morning. Like, “please please please let me have that seagull mug!” I am not a mug collector (ask me about mug collectors some time) but it was all I could do to not pocket this one. At least I didn’t get a Safe Sex mug but although Little Boots collects random mugs, it is a family-oriented restaurant and I suspect they would probably pass a Safe Sex mug along to Sally Ann or someplace. Not that I have a Safe Sex mug to donate. There is a Rabbit Sex mug at the moomincabin but 1) the Rabbit Sex isn’t obvious at first glance, so it’s conceivable that Little Boots might actually use that mug until somebody alerted them and 2) I cannot get rid of that mug because my family would probably kill me.

Anyway, what kool-aid did I drink? I drank the Costco membership kool-aid. I have friends and relatives who have been raving about Costco for years. For most of those years, it was a 15 mile drive out of my way to go to Costco. It did *not* fit in with my admittedly quirky shopping habits. Now there is a Costco on my way to work. I see its backside every day. I’ve been thinking of getting a membership and just the other day, as I was passing the backside of Costco for about the billionth time, I wondered how long it would take me to drive into the parking lot, park, and fill out the membership paperwork. That very day, our Building Mom emailed everyone to say that the Costco gals would be in the lunchroom at noon to sign people up (and hand out treats). I signed up and grabbed a piece of cake. I noticed that others were in there just grabbing cake. I think many folks at my work are already members though. We’ll see if I actually use that membership. My shopping habits are indeed quirky.

Of course, now that I have signed up for a Costco membership, I am getting spam email, etc., about Costco. It isn’t FROM Costco. It’s from Russia or Turkey or wherever. I also don’t think it’s from the act of signing up for a Costco membership. I think it’s because I googled Costco microwaves earlier today. I mean, I googled thundershirts a while back (google them) and now I get ads and spam emails about thundershirts, even though I don’t own a dern dog.

Keeping one eye out for funnel clouds while the other eye watches paint dry

Monday, May 12th, 2014

ants21st century [first world] problems: Sitting in a meeting during a severe thunderstorm while various people’s smart phones send multiple alerts. The LSCHP King? “If I don’t stop getting these alerts, I’m gonna tornado some of the people sending them.” I wonder if he wants to borrow my battle axe?

Reading the rest of this post will be like watching paint dry, even if you are familiar with navigating The Planet Ann Arbor in an automotive vee-hickle. The short version is something like, “The Planet Ann Arbor was grid-locked today and it took me an hour to do my eight mile commute even though it wasn’t snowing.” You are welcome to stop at that!

  • Took three (or four?) lights just to get out of Avis Farms. Not nearly as bad as the Polar Vortex days when people couldn’t get enough traction to get through the stoplight but pretty bad.
  • Inched along S. State St. all the way from Avis to the S. State / Ellsworth roundabout. Relatively smooth trip through the roundabout but not without a little godless-style praying.
  • Nasty indescribable mess getting through the next half mile or so to the I94 18-Wheel Slogway.
  • Eyeballed westbound traffic and made the executive decision to get ON the Slogway. (Big ugly dark clouds to the north and west. Yeek.)
  • Saw taillights ahead as I approached the Saline Rd. exit (1.5 miles from my starting point). Made the executive decision to get OFF and [gulp] head north on clogged surface streets into what looked like armageddon. Luckily the Saline Rd. exit was OPEN, since major road construction is just beginning there.
  • Next few intersections were slow but not slower than usual. Left onto Scio Church. Cars backed up ALL THE WAY TO THE SEVENTH STREET STOPLIGHT! What is going on here? This is not the usual. Well except maybe on Football Saturdays, when I AVOID THAT AREA LIKE POISON! Peeled off and did some “fancy” neighborhood maneuvers in order to approach the stoplight from a different (and not backed up) direction.
  • Busy but not backed up all the way up Seventh to Huron. Left turn onto Huron. I was home free! Or not. Dexter was backed up all the way from N. Maple (my turnoff) to the Dexter-Jackson-Huron “Y” intersection. I hung a QUICK right, hoping against hope that I wasn’t turning the wrong way onto a one-way street, and zig-zagged through the neighborhood I walk in every morning…
  • …over to Miller. Miller was also waaaaay backed up but I somehow managed to piggy-back onto it behind a Prius and it only took me three lights to make the left turn onto N. Maple, although it felt like about an hour. Smooth sailing from there.

As awful as the skies looked, I did not encounter armageddon today. By the time I got home, things had lightened up considerably although I have been hearing thunder off and on ever since. The Landfill backyard is flooded. The Landfill Dungeon is dry (Yay for Terrafirma!). The Landfill Chitchen is fine (thank you Zeus). My impatiens look beautiful!

Oh yeah, click and click again to see the ants in the photo. Or don’t click and click again if you are squicked out by insects. Your choice.

Love y’all,