Archive for December, 2014

Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

knights

Our first venture into the downtown version of our fave neighborhood pub / steakhouse. We walked downtown. It was frickin’ cold out. I wore my balaclava. We stopped at Kilwin’s on the way down. Was it open? No. Or yes. I told Mouse I would text her when we figgered out where we were eating. It ended up being the new downtown Knights. Our first time there. We ate at the bar. It’s different than our familiar old neighborhood Knight’s in some ways but in other ways it felt the same.

Home via Mouse Taxi, watching more Faaaarfly, driving north tomorrow.

Two lights this morning. If I get three, do I win a prize?

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

twolights

Okay, the Ninja is definitely driveable with these two lights on. Whatever. That is all for my so-called life today because these lights are not what’s important.

Here is a link to my family’s wonderful friend Otto McNaughton’s obituary. We were planning on spending a quiet New Year’s weekend here at The Landfill and I was gonna work Friday. Instead, we will spend New Year’s Eve here but we have reservations at the Hotel Ojibway up in Sault Ste. Siberia for Thursday and Friday night so we can attend his funeral.

For the moment, we’re watching Faaarfly episodes on our medium-ass TV.

Love you all. Kayak Woman!

Red Plaid Nation

Monday, December 29th, 2014

redplaidAfter almost a week of not working, I had to *force* myself to faaaaarr up my work musheen this morning. Where am I? How do I? Alas, this morning, I didn’t have to ask those questions. My work was cut out for me. My annual performance evaluation is due by the last day of the year. I hate those things (doesn’t everybody?) but chop chop, KW.

I haven’t submitted my eval yet but it is largely done. I know I will want to do some more wordsmithing before hitting the submit button. I had other stuff to do too. I chose to work on a new project, one that… oh well, you do not want to know. It was a slow day, therefore it wasn’t until four in the afternoon that somebody sent me an actual question about something. As it turned out it wasn’t my project and I couldn’t answer it comprehensively as hard as I tried. It was my friend Mary and if we had both been in the office, we may have managed to sort it out but we weren’t and we didn’t, so we just laughed about it and decided it could wait. This is a slow season in my biz except for those who answer support calls. Soooooo glad I don’t do that. I have done plenty of customer service in my time and I am actually pretty good at it (just ask Mr. Drysdale, my first boss) but…

Okay, so the mail came and with it was this Red Plaid smoke ring. A smoke ring is a scarf-type thing. My cuzzint Pooh knitted this for me. I know how to knit (and a whole bunch of other fiber arts stuf) but I am focused on my career and flinging my house for now so I am not doing anything much. Except continuing to try to re-a-start a reading habit.

Late afternoon sunset kind of walk after a day of telecommuting. The sun shall rise again. The north shall rise again.

Veteran Greenhorns

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

veterangreenhorns02The Veteran Greenhorns lost another one today. In the photo, the top row (left-to-right) is Jim Sherman, Jim Boult, Jack Finlayson (aka my old coot), and Tegner (the only one of the greenhorns that I don’t know). Bottom row: Pete Sherman, Otto McNaughton, Lewie Read. Now that Otto is gone, only the Sherman boys remain. (I hope I haven’t mixed them up. Their families visited us often enough that I *should* know. And they are *not* twins. Still…)

I’m not going to go on and on about Otto. He was my dad’s friend, a member of our beach community, a man of many youthful adventures who went on to father nine of the beach urchins that I grew up with. When I was a kid, I remember Otto having three jobs: high school biology teacher, customs agent, and news reader on the local AM radio station. He was quite a character (aren’t we all?) but I’ll only report a couple memories here.

A childhood memory: The McNaughtons had a cabin down the beach from us but also lived on the river in town. When the weather was calm enough, they would load up their boat with the whole family and whatever else they needed. They would drive it seven miles (or whatever it is) upriver and Otto would drive full speed right up *onto* the beach and all of the kiddos would jump out onto the sand.

hickoryhills1An adult memory: Otto’s son brought him to the long term care facility in Sault Ste. Siberia to visit The Commander when she was in rehab there. The Comm had recently turned 91 and Otto was about to become that age too. He asked her if she had been able to renew her driver’s license without any trouble. “Oh yes,” was the answer. They were both a bit hard of hearing so, while they were talking, I snaked my head behind Otto’s back and winked at his son and said, “She may have a driver’s license but I have her car keys.” Actually, that’s not totally accurate. I did have a set of keys to her car but so did she. I had just parked her car where she couldn’t get to it. I am much more cagey (Commander word!) than most people give me credit for [wink].

The Veteran Greenhorns began as high school buddies who went “adventuring” together, mostly out in the woods, as near as I can figger. The photo doesn’t embiggen much but a couple of them seem to have compasses on their shirts. They were lifelong friends even though some of them moved away from the yooperland.

We didn’t plan our hike today to honor Otto or the Veteran Greenhorns. It was on the agenda before I looked at facebook this morning. Hiking the gorgeous Hickory Hills trail out at the Eddy Discovery Geology Center (a state park) seems like a fitting activity though. Beautiful glacial terrain. We didn’t wear compasses on our red plaid shirts. I did use my iPhone’s compass app once. I wasn’t lost. The trails are well marked and beaten in. I just wasn’t sure what direction we were heading and was curious. Of course, the GG reminded me “the sun is in the *south*”. Jeebus. We also tuned our Satty-lite radio to channel 004 aka 1940s music. We’ve been doing that a lot lately but it seemed especially fitting for today.

Love you all,
Kayak Woman

Last of a generation

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Otto McNaughton, 93. Godspeed.

Lookin’ like Silence of the Lambs

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

dungeon1Boxing Day Coma begone! The GG took off to some sort of high school mini-reunion somewhere over in Megalopolis after I did all of my regular Saturday chores. We dropped off a Ninja trunk full of stuff at Kiwanis this morning so of course I was searching for the next trunkload.

I started filling a banker’s box with Good Stuff (for somebody else) and I took a break to check up on the internet and there was Lizard Breath tweeting “New year’s white tornado (@kayakwoman).” The timing of the tweet turned out to be random but you might also call it prescient because boy oh boy did I get on a roll this afternoon!

Not that I flung all that much. The banker’s box collected a few more things. In casting about for what to fling next, I wandered into the dungeon utility room. The room with the furnace, water heater, washing musheen, and dryer in one quarter of the room and a whole bunch of junk in the rest of the room. Dun dun dun! I approached The Closet!

What was in the closet? Not really a whole lot other than spider webs and rodent droppings. This closet is really not a good place to store things and I can’t remember exactly when the last time I took everything out of it and cleaned it was but it was not that many years ago because I didn’t put a whole lot of stuff back into it.

dungeon2Today I took everything out of it and cleaned it (the closet and a lot of the stuff). There were two boxes of cheap stemmed wine glasses that I put in the Ninja’s trunk. Hey, I do not need 20 of them! But not the Orrefors that my eccentric hoarder-ish aunt Roberta got on sale somewhere (and never used) and (eventually) gave to me. If you have noticed the hobby horse down in the box in the lower right, she stays too. A Cfam Heirloom who, like Puff the Magic Dragon, needs to find a new child to love her. Er, my children *still* love her but they don’t play with her any more. I wish I could easily find the photos of Horsey tethered in Mouse’s bedroom.

By the way, I am flattered that someone on this earth called me the White Tornado on Twitter but I cannot legitimately claim that title. It rightfully belongs to my [late] aunt Katie, a super organized doctor’s wife and mother of four (of my cousins) plus a couple of exchange students along the way. She was LEGENDARY at housekeeping — among many other things. I remember once when a big contingent of the FinFam went out skiing in Jackson Hole (or somewhere) and they stayed in a rented condo or whatever and everyone said that the broiler pan in that condo had probably never been as clean as it was after the White Tornado was finished with it. Not to mention that I stayed with Katie / Don and my cousins for a week when my brother was born and The Commander reminded me for the rest of my life how Katie had cleaned behind my ears…

My cleaning efforts do not hold a candle to the real White Tornado and I tip my black sequined bomber hat to her. She was certainly an influence on me as far as cleaning (and raising children!) but I will tell you that she never had a basement that could evoke scenes from the Silence of the Lambs as well as mine does!

P.S. Lewis the Cat died today. He was the Downtown Home & Garden Cat. He was very old and it was his time. Still, we paid our respects to him just a couple weeks ago when he was still alive. And now he’s not. Life…

Ooooooffff (and a shower)

Friday, December 26th, 2014

ratfinkNot sure I can be anything close to coherent tonight. I am sooooo taaaarrred. Kind of a slodgy day altogether. It isn’t that I didn’t get anything done because I did get caught up on most of the post xmas day cleaning and laundry, not that there was really all that much, given that we had a relatively minimal xmas.

There were a lot of tentative plans tossed about for the day: hike the Geology Center Hickory Hills loop, walk down to Treasure Mart, etc. An “adult” was needed down at Lizard’s work today so she took off this morning after a quick little Daddy Breakfast. Many thanks to the GG because I got one too — one egg, scrambled, one half an English muffin toasted and buttered with butter fresh from my new Le Creuset butter crock.

Most of the hiking plans got scuttled but eventually Mouse and I walked over to the Plum Market where we wandered around in a daze like everyone else over there. We were particularly intrigued by an elderly couple who didn’t seem to have a clue about how to move through space without blocking others from proceeding down the aisle. The woman was wearing a purple wool coat and the man had on black and pink striped pants. The Ann Arbor Plum Market equivalent of People of Woldemort minus buttcrack with or without toilet paper. I think Mouse was a wee bit annoyed by them but I couldn’t quiiite get there. I was remembering the xmas of 2010 when we had The Commander down here. I took her over to the Plum Market and she was so excited by the place that she kept stopping right in the middle of the aisle, occasionally raising her cudgel above her head to point things out. Yiiiy! Moom, watch out! I did my best to mitigate these situations. Most people were polite and friendly and I could sense sympatico. Been there, done that!

Anyway, we did the usual Friday hike down for dinner at the Oscar Tango and all was well. I won’t say toooo much about why I needed a shower when I got home. Just that I got a little freaked out about some headlights coming down the hill near my UrbanP spot. I’m sure they couldn’t see ANYTHING but… Oh well, it was just urbanP and that’s what showers are for and those clothes are in the laundry now.

Hope that wasn’t too incoherent. Last night, the Beach Urchins turned us on to episodes of an old TV show called Firefly and, if I don’t fall asleep, we’re gonna try to watch one or more tonight. I *loved* them, even though I believe that they contributed to some unsettling dreams. We’ll see…

P. S. The skies were not cloudy all day. Took the edge off the boxing day coma!

We’re having frog butt for xmas dinner, how ’bout you?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

We’ll get to frog butt but we’ll start with breakfast. Eggs Benny in the works here. Photo by Liz.

xmas1

I almost forgot about the mimosas until my first cuzzint once removed posted a photoooo of Eggs Benny and mimosas on facebook. Thanks for reminding me, buddy! Breakfast first, then gifts. I do not need anything (I am flinging, remember?) and fortunately people took me at my word and didn’t buy me a whole bunch of stuff. What I got was all very cool and it included this surprise gift from Chloe Belle. Pretty cool, eh?

xmas2

Afternoon is not my best time of day *ever* and xmas day kind of drags on for me so I always like to get out for a bit of a hike or something. Sometimes it feels a bit like pushing ropes to get others to go *with* me. I think they *like* the idea but the Back Room is soooo comfortable (albeit messy!) that it’s hard to motivate. This year, it was Lizard who brought up the idea and so here we are over in Miller Woods. We got a wee bit over two miles in. It was just the ticket! Kept KW sane for the slodgy part of the afternoon.

xmas3

What is Mouse photographing? Herbert the Crocodile, of course! (Not sure what the GG is photographing).

xmas4

Lizard took the next pitcher. She instagrammed it and @annarbornews “liked” it. (They don’t follow each other.)

xmas5

Frog Butt for dinner!

xmas6

Oh, not really. Duck Dinner! Courtesy of Harnois Meats, this duck was running around about 10 days ago. Check out all the GG’s new thermometers. I haven’t been able to find my old fashioned glass meat thermometer since the reno. Now he has an assortment of high and low tech thermometers to choose from. I got the two glass ones on eBay. I can’t find them in the stores nowadays, not that I spent a whole lot of time searching. He got some other fun toys too but we don’t have meteorites here [wink].

xmas7

I can see Russia my xmas tree from my chitchen window

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

There are many perks involved in renovating one’s ancient 1970s (probably) chitchen. This particular perk did not show up on my radar screen until last Friday when the GG put up our xmas tree. Say what? Well. The deal is that I can SEE THE TREE FROM MY CHICHEN! I do not have to snake my head around to look through the “old” “window”. I love hanging out in my chichen and I love having a xmas tree but every year, by the time we take the tree to the recycling drop-off, I am a little sad that I didn’t spend more time with it. I guess we could put it *in* the chichen? No. Not a good idea. No matter. Now I just have to “look out the window”.

xtree1

So, a couple weeks ago, pre-xmas tree, the GG was Up North hiking with our North Country Trail buddies. He texted me something like, “Don’t touch anything in the area by the Reading Chair” and “I’ll reorganize the Back Room when I get back”. Okay… And he did — last Friday while I was at work. I wasn’t enthused about the New-New location of the Red Puano at first but I am getting used to it. That said, I wasn’t crazy about the New (post-reno) location of the Red Puano either. But I had gotten used to it. That’s all a terribly long, complicated story but the Red Puano (and the tree) have been positioned in a way that makes a cute little Xmas Nook where the GG can read, drink coffee or a wee little snort, nod off, whatever. (Hmmm, embiggen to see a list of computer fonts taped to the Red Puano. That’s been there since the 1990s…)

xtree2

As you can see, the backside of the Red Puano creates a rather narrow entrance to the Back Room. I was particularly not crazy about this aspect of the arrangement but since it provides a place for a few ornaments (including Elf on a Shelf (you can’t see him)) to reside, I am even getting used to that. I think we need to remove a couple vacuum cleaners and my Purple Compost-Schlepping Crocs. ‘hicken can stay there. He is a good Xmas Aminal when he is not in service as a Garden Sentinel.

xtree3

Today? Hiked down to the farmer’s market at 0-skunk-30, then over to meet up with my coffee buddies at Barry’s at 8:00 AM, then the Plum Market on the way home. My coffee buddies are Jewish and always provide a bit of respite from the xmas craziness although it’s less crazy in this secular household these days. Lots of pre-cooking for tomorrow. The GG is handling dinner for tonight — slow-cooking beef short ribs on the gas grill. Another trip to the Plum with Liz (in the rain) for snacky stuff and whatever. No desserts this year. We have a box of shortbread cookies from Sister Pie (not your grandmother’s shortbread although that was good too!) and Mouse is bringing a carefully curated selection of chocolates from Kilwin’s. Rained cats and dogs later in the afternoon. I loved it! White Xmas? I don’t care!

Good night,
Kayak Woman

Polar Vortex

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

hohohoThe last time xmas occurred on a Thursday, I scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday as vacation days. Lizard Breath flew in from SanFran on Monday night and we cooked a turkey. The idea was to make a non-Thanksgiving and that was all good but I started vomiting in the wee hours of Tuesday. By 8:00 AM, I was no longer hanging out with the Blue and Only Terlet. I had exchanged that activity for lying on the Green Couch watching all the dogz go by sucking on ice chips. I got over that virus pretty fast but I was slodgy enough on Wednesday that I took *both* days as sick days. (It wasn’t food poisoning, Mouse had passed a gastrointestinal virus along. Sh*t happens.)

Here we are with xmas on a Thursday and *again* I scheduled vacay for Tuesday and Wednesday. Totally different experience this time. For one thing, LB now lives in Detroit so there was no airplane to meet. And I was *far* from ill today. As I said (more or less) on facebook, I did a LOT of walking, some shopping, a wee bit of wrapping, a teensy tinesy bit of baking, some cooking, a few chores, and I even flung an itsy bitsy number of things even though I have instituted a moratorium on flinging until after xmas. Oh, and my beloved Ninja threw the g*dd*mn check engine light at me today but I didn’t panic. The GG thinks it’s a gas cap issue. I bet it’s an O2 sensor. Somebody bet on the bay.

I did have a little bit of trouble with the concept of Vacation at Home, Here on The Planet Ann Arbor. In the early hours, I had to talk myself down off a few ledges. Like, no you do not need to make a lunch and, more importantly, it doesn’t matter that you left a few files checked out in the version control application because all of the other BAs are out until the new year and they are the only people who use those files.

By the way, the temperatures are in the 50s today. A far cry from whatever we had last year but not unusual at all. One of my fave xmas eve memories was walking thru the neighborhood to look at the lights with Lizard Breath pushing Mouse in a stroller. Five and 2-1/2 maybe? Tomorrow’s predictions are for warm weather and maybe even thunderstorms. It’ll get colder after that and, although we will surely get the cold and snow of a southeast Great Lake State winter, I doubt that this will be a Polar Vortex kind of winter. But we’ll see…

You’re just buying it for Kiwanis

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

sunI am grateful that the GG has bought into my journey to de-hoard The Landfill. He organizes occasional Saturday trips to the dump (to the dump to the dump dump dump). I get sooooo excited about those trips! Let’s fling that old printer and that strawberry iMac. And the crib… And there are all of the trips we have been making to the Kiwanis Club drop-off center on Washington, just east of the Drop Acid Not Bombz railroad bridge.

BTW, the “dump” is not exactly the same thing as the dump we all remember when we were kids. I remember going to the Brimley Dump more than a few times. That’s where you went when you wanted to see bears and I had a childhood friend whose parents would drive there to look at bears but I don’t remember my family ever doing that.

What I do remember is the time that I went with The Commander on a trip to the dump. I don’t remember what we were dropping off but The Comm was driving the old green Pinto wagon and somehow, we ended up on top of the Spectacle Lake Overlook instead of the dump on that trip. She certainly knew where the damn dump was and I think we were having enough fun that she missed the turn. We gnoffed about that trip for many many many years. And I ended up owning that crappy old Green Pinto for a couple years until it pretty much rusted into the ground and the ‘rents actually BOUGHT me a NEW vee-hickle. But that would be a whole ‘nother story.

So, the GG and I made our usual trip over to Ace Hardware on Saturday. It’s hard for me to go to Ace Hardware and not buy something because I am overwhelmed by all of the cool, beautiful household goods. So I was looking at various items and pointing a few of them out to the GG and that’s when he said something like, “Okay, buy it for Kiwanis!”. Yes. I will forever think about that when I think I might want to buy something. Is this something I need or is it just a cool / cute thing that I like? And yet, I will still buy things. Because, even if you are flinging, you still need things.

Life is hard and then you die. Good night,
KW

Sunset Solstice Hike

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

I tried to coerce the GG into taking a ride out to the Geology Center to hike the Hickory Hills segment of that trail. I failed. It’s okay. I really didn’t try all that hard. He was dragging a bit, a combo of things like feeling on the edge of a cold virus, being out late last night, and the winter solstice. He took a nap and I got after some picky little kitchen issues I’ve been kind of shoving under the rug since forever. For one thing I moved my baking dishes into the drawer shown below. I had been storing them in a cupboard above the stove — like I *used to do* — but I was getting annoyed about always having to climb up on a stool to get them down safely. I don’t think of myself as short but it’s a bit of a reach for me to pull multiple glass, etc., baking dishes down from above the stove. And the drawer is DIRECTLY across the aisle from the dishwasher, right below the drawer I store my china in. It will be even easier to unload the dishwasher now! No brainer, roight?

drawer

Some of you might be thinking something like, “That isn’t a whole lot of baking dishes…” I use each and every one of these dishes on a regular basis. I do own some other baking dishes and they are currently stashed in the back of the cavernous cupboard on top of the refrigerator. I don’t miss any of them and, any of them that I haven’t used by 2016 will be flung if no one else wants them. That is not a threat, just reality. Most of us have toooooo much stuff. You’ve heard me rant about this before, roight? [insert ghostie emoticon here].

Anyway, Hickory Hills didn’t quite work out today but we did get some good stuff done today. Like we rearranged the beach urchins’ guest bedroom. I kind of hope that Jay doesn’t see this because this bedroom has been used as a staging area for sorting out Stuff and Jay had the misfortune to have to sleep in that bedroom last summer when it was at one of its more cluttered phases. I de-cluttered it before Turkey Day. Today, I instigated a small re-org. I wanted to move the bed over to the wall that is NOT NEXT TO THE BLUE AND ONLY BATHROOM. So people who stay here overnight cannot here hear the terlet flush, etc. TMI? We discussed doing this and then I walked to the Plum Market and when I came back, the GG was in that room and I couldn’t even get in the door to help (I don’t think he wanted my help, hee hee) and this is what it looks like now. Not sure that my aunt Roberta would’ve liked her painting to be hung on a purple wall butcha never know. She wasn’t exactly your average everyday person.

bedroom

The GG was not a total slug today and he was really in tune with taking a sunset walk down by Barton Dam and so we went. I do not know why we always stop to watch trains when we hear their whistles blow but we do and we were surprised when it was a freight train instead of the usual Amtrak.

train

And then there was this cute little bird nest with snow in it.

nest

The sun had not gone down when I took this photo but in the next 20 minutes that we bushwhacked the “old” trail right next to the river, it did and the drive home was pretty much pitch black. Actually, I think the last time anyone on The Planet Ann Arbor has seen the sun is last Monday afternoon. I love both solstices and all of the seasons in between.

Big Barb (aka Barbara Millicent Roberts)

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

bigbarbBig Barbie was a Christmas gift to our 1-1/2 year old great niece from her grandmother, my beloved sister-in-law and friend TBG. Our cute little niece seemed (at least tonight) most interested in using Big Barbie’s hairbrush.

I had been hanging out on the couch with a couple of nephews and then the GG sat down and then I needed to use the Water Closet or whatever, so I got up and replaced myself with Big Barbie (with permission from Big Barbie’s owner’s mom). It didn’t seem like the GG noticed, even though I took this photoooo. So here he is with his new friend Big Barbie.

As I have said before, big Catholic families seem to be one of my lots in life. I married into one (10 siblings, eight are still living) and they are the warmest, most welcoming people in the world. Still, it took me something like 10 years to be comfortable with my in-laws in a large group situation. Not so much any more. We are just family but we are a wonderful family and today’s party was one helluva bunch of work for our hostess, the Lady of Linden, but it was a spectacular party.

It is really late and I hope I don’t get one of those damn second winds that makes it hard to go to sleep.

G’night and love y’all,
Kayak Woman

P. S. No blasted ice storm this year, thank you very much!

Well-lit at the Oscar Tango

Friday, December 19th, 2014

So, after days and days of waltzing around in Keen sandals on dry pavement, this morning I looked outside and thought I might need boots and YakTrax. Yes. A nasty coating of ice everywhere. Uncomfortable walking even with YakTrax on. I probably did about two thirds of my usual walk. I could’ve done the whole thing but sorry, it just wasn’t any fun. If you look closely, you can see a couple of Photo Bombers in the photooo below.

welllit1

The GG and I were texting evening plans at the end of the day. He was already walking downtown and I asked if I would need YakTrax on my own trek. “They’ll be overkill” was the answer and so they would’ve been although I stuck mostly to walking in the street because the sidewalks still had sneaky patches of ice here and there.

welllit2

I *always* text the GG my progress as I walk down to meet him at the Oscar Tango on Friday evenings. Duncan, Wellington Park, Maryfield Park, Huron Dexter Jackson, Crest, 7th, Drop acid, not bombz! You guys know the drill. I did that tonight but I was also texting a bit with my beloved cuzzint Jay, who was walking down to meet us from Chez Harry over on the other side of town. In the end, we had *nine* people at our table including us, Jay & FOY, npJane, Rey, Mouse, and some Porterization.

welllit3

Sooooo much fun. So many people talking at once over so much background noise. Sometimes that kind of situation drives me absolutely nuts but not tonight. It was lovely and I felt a wee bit of the Christmas spirit creep into my rather battered soul being with so many wonderful friends and relatives. After we parted ways, we had a wonderful walk back up the hill to The Landfill where I am currently adjusting to the xmas tree and the new location of the Red Puano…

Love you all,
Kayak Woman

Oh-bla-di Oh-bla-da…

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

1304Take a walk down memory lane with me if you want to. Let’s travel back to Sault Ste. Siberia, circa 1966-1969… 1304 Superior is the shabby little bungalow where I spent my entire childhood (in Sault Ste. Marie). Between my freshman and sophomore years in college, my parents moved into the house in which my grandparents spent their last years but that’d be a whole ‘nother story.

The route that I took to my junior high and high school was down Superior Street to Easterday. I turned right at Easterday and walked a block to Johnston. I hung a louie at Johnston, walked past Soo Builders (the red circle in the map) and across the Johnston Street bridge over the power canal (the green circle in the map). My junior high and high school was underneath the search box in the photoooo. They are long gone. We moved our high school to a beautiful new building on the outskirts of the populated part of town between my sophomore and junior years but that’d be another whole ‘nother story. Anyway, I have to note that I walked this route to school in “fashionable” clothing whatever time of year, deep snow, ice-coated streets, whatever. Pitcher yer fav-o-rite blahgger at 13, slipping and sliding all the way down Superior Street in a miniskirt, nylons (with garter belt), and high heels! I reach back in time and ask my younger self, “Where are your YakTrax, girl?” Throughout most of my childhood, we didn’t have snow days. The kids living in town could walk to school and the kids who were bused (not bussed, there is a difference) in from the countryside were excused from school. Some of them “made it” (in life) *anyway*. At any rate, school was rarely canceled for yer fav-o-rite blahgger. Who lived in town. Alas.

The old high school is long gone but a lot of Soo Builders burned down last night. I don’t know much about this business except that I walked past it during my a few of my formative years (and sometimes now too), but I hope that the family who has owned it since forever (the 1920s) can rebuild.

Howling at the moon

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Typical college party convo at MooU back in the day:

Not very cute guy trying to be cool: Where are you from? What is your major?

Kayak Woman: [oh dear]

What do I tell this person that I have absolutely no interest in? That I am from the Yooperland? That’ll get him into all kinds of stereotypes about Yooperland girls… Except that I was not the typical Yooperland Girl… But who is? Okay. What is your major? Truth? Music. Flute performance to be specific. Silence for a moment. Then, … “Are you into Jethro Tull?” Duh, yeah. By the way, Jethro Tull was the name of a GROUP. The [excellent] flute player’s name and group leader is Ian Anderson. I am pretty good at the flute but I cannot quite match up to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Here’s a back-in-the-day version of Living in the Past.

What are you into? Archaeofacts [back in the day]: Cleaning human toe bones. KW [back in the day]: vibrating columns of air. Were we cool or what?

Love y’all,
Kayak Woman

’twas spoooooooky in the Deep Dark Scary Woods this morning [insert ghostie emoticon here]

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

frozenIf you are one of my fab nine, you prob’ly know that I walk a three-mile loop through my neighborhood *every* morning that I am down here on The Planet Ann Arbor. Except when there is lightning or a dangerous layer of ice over everything. I also bag it when the temperature gets above about 95 or below minus five or 10. Or I am sick. But I am rarely sick. I *return* to The Landfill about about seven AM so, if you know anything about geography, you might guess that it is still pitch black by the time I get home from my walk at this time of year.

I end my walk by taking the loops through the Deep Dark Scary Teensy Tinesy Wee Little Woods. At this time of year, I use my iPhone flashlight to navigate the woods. Now that the Nice People with the Biting Dog are walking in the woods hours after I take my walk, 99% of the time, the woods are not scary. Well, that is, if I don’t think about the Bludgeoner. The guy who “terrorized” west-side A-squared back in the mid-1990s. His first victim was a 50-something woman taking what I am gonna guess was her regular morning walk through Eberwhite Woods. Not sure if his modus operandi was to kill, exactly. He bludgeoned “middle-aged” women and ran off. Some of them lived, some of them died. Were we scared? Yes. I was more often walking during the late morning or even afternoon in those days (beach urchins to get to school, no paid career). Once, a neighbor asked me if I was afraid to walk knowing this *sshole was at large. Well, yes, but I was more angry! I told her that I thought that the women of Ann Arbor should unite, get gun training and station themselves at the entrance to every woods in town. Was that a rational idea? No, it most certainly was not and I still do not know how to shoot a gun. Eventually this piece of sh*t person was caught. We were at Houghton Lake for New Year’s Eve when TV 9 & 10 (no less) reported it and, yes, there was rejoicing.

So every neighborhood is safe until somebody like that shows up and you don’t ever know when that is. But for the most part, the scariest thing that happens in “my woods” is when I flush a rabbit or trip over a root or a fallen branch. Or encounter a Biting Dog, one that has Nice Owners. Most days I just galumph on into the woods without giving it a second thought. Once in a Blue Moon, I just walk by. Not sure why. I guess The Bludgeoner is haunting me on those days. Then there are eerily beautiful days like today. I don’t think the fog lifted until about noon. The woods were spooky but in a fun Halloweeny kind of way. Once I was startled by a VOICE!!!! It turned out to be a dog barking maybe 30 yards away on the other side of the fence. And then it’s its owner tried to shush it. Mostly it was just dark and foggy and eerie and I loved it!

Note that, when I walk, I am always hyper-aware of whatever is going on around me (with the exception of bicyclists sneaking up silently behind me). If I see someone that sets off my spidey-sense, I go a different direction. There are many other people who have been walking or running or dog-walking in my neighborhood *forever*. We recognize each other even though we don’t always talk to each other.

Let’s switch the subject! Quick! Apparently, Froooggy and Green Guy have been getting into my Netflix account because they now have these loverly snowflake headdresses and I guess they are trying to cross-dress as Elsa and Anna. Do I have those names right? Because I have *never* watched Frozen. I’ve read about it up the wazoo but I am not a Disney kind of gal, not to mention that my beach urchins are long past that stage, if they ever even got there. One of them did memorize the words and songs of the little mermaid but not too many years later The Bard and a bunch of other playwrights bludgeoned all the Disney stuff to the ground.

But aren’t these guys kind of twee? I love them! They also look like they’ve been into the laundry detergent again, maybe with a chaser of Listerine…

That’s what aaah said…

Monday, December 15th, 2014

bunnybreadY’all remember this stuff? I seem to remember that The Commander kind of turned her nose up at it although she certainly did buy plenty of white bread and made plenty of PBJ sandwiches with that bread because, whaddya gonna do. Those kiddos have to eat *something* and *this* kiddo did *not* eat macaroni and cheese out of a blasted BOX, no siree. I’m not sure what they mean by “Soft-Twist”. To me that brings memories of getting bored at the dinner table and pulling pieces off a piece of [white] bread and kneading / twisting it into little “pills” or whatever. TMI? Yeah, prob’ly. I’m sure that’s not what “Soft-Twist” means. I’m TLTG (too lazy to google) though.

So today was our annual work holiday luncheon and we made our way over to a popular barroom in Ypsilanti. If I had thought through the issue of car-pooling, I wouldda droven the Frog Hopper to work today. As it turned out, I ended up driving the carpool. I shouldda known and it was okay. I like to drive. But four people in the Ninja. Not unheard of but I’ve been using the Ninja as a station for all the cosmic debris I’m flinging to reside until I have time to take it to the next stop on its journey. So I had to move a few bags to the trunk before the Ninja was passenger-ready. As luck would have it, it wasn’t totally passenger-ready and the Queen Bee (aka my supervisor) had an altercation with an ice scraper (one of about seven) that I didn’t bother to move to the trunk. Come to think of it, I would’ve prob’ly had to move a bunch of stuff in the Frog Hopper too because that vee-hickle is the go-to camping / hiking vee-hickle and there is stuff that seems to live there…

It was all fun. A recent re-org has dumped a bunch of long-time employees more firmly into our team and they were fun and I pointed one of them to the Ski Ranch as a possible source for snowshoe rental on the way to the Yooperland. That made me feel way cooler than I actually am.

So, we returned to Cubeland and I sucked up my courage and emailed Building Mom for a reality check on how much vacay I have left for the year. For once, my spreadsheet matched hers and I am one hour short of four days. On one hand, I am happy to be able to take a bit of time off over the holidays. On the other hand, I’m kind of wondering what I’m gonna do with *all* that time… I hope that I will use it for, lemme see: 1) time with my family 2) time with my family 3) time with my family 4) cooking stuff for my family 5) hiking with my family (in the goddamn woods if at all possible!) 6) dusting.

I didn’t include Flinging in that list. Why? Because. Today I read an article about an obsessive-compulsive de-hoarder. A mom who threw out almost everything including family members… If you didn’t read the article, her collection of silverware includes something like two forks. I am more afraid of having too many possessions than too few and I will continue to fling until the mass of “stuff” in my life is manageable. It’s getting there and I think I will know when to stop. I would never throw out a family member.

You guys may have had a more scenic hike but I definitely got more moiles in

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

“You guys” of course refers to the GG and all the North Country Trail folk and I may have gotten more miles of hiking in this weekend but I definitely did not win! They did a short hike this weekend, three miles or thereabouts, after which was the annual potluck at East Lake. Me? I averaged eight miles a day this weekend. The scenery? It was what it was, houses and shops and highrise “young professional” housing developments and the cranes to build more of those and a wee bit of woods. I cannot feature living in a high-rise apartment building. How in the heck do you schlep your grokkeries up to your apartment? What about your xmas tree? Are xmas trees even allowed in high-rise apartment buildings? What happens if somebody’s xmas tree catches fire? But also, I neeeeeeed to be able to just… walk… outside…

We bought our xmas tree today, after the GG returned home from his boondoggle Up North. We bought it at Downtown Home & Garden this year, not Whole Foods (last year). I made sure of that since Mouse & I stopped by DH&G Friday night and I promised one of the DH&G employees aka Mouse’s Roommate that we would buy our tree there this year (in full disclosure, The GG had also mentioned buying it there).

This is the first xmas tree I think I have *ever* helped select in my entire life. Lemme see… When I was a kid, we got our trees from our next door neighbor, Green Thumb McGinnis. In keeping with the size of our shabby little bungalow, we always had short bushy little trees. When I was small, they were magical *anyway* with colored glass bulb ornaments and bubble lights and garlands and tinsel thrown everywhere. Do they still sell tinsel?

The first year we were married, we were living in a second floor flat on Jackson (NOT a high-rise!) and I didn’t really want to schlep a tree into that space but the GG put one up anyway. I ended up with a gastrointestinal virus that xmas (not the first xmas bug and prob’ly not the last…)

And then we bought The Landfill. It is definitely not a big fancy house. Heck, there is only one bathroom. But the Back Room has a “cathedral ceiling”, which makes it possible to put up a relatively tall xmas tree. So, the first year we owned this place, the GG brought a great big xmas tree home. I was a bit skeptical but I will never forget the huge smile of delight on my then 2-month-old baby’s face when we turned on that tree’s lights!

Anyway, we have a beauteous tree this year. I accompanied the GG to buy it (at DH&G) but he chose it. All the trees were beautiful and there’s no way I could’ve chosen one over the other. It is outside for now. The Back Room is kind of a disaster at the moment. We’ll get there…

Ssshhh!

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

worktreesDon’t tell anybody that I am actually starting to feel like I am making some flinging progress around here.

La La La! I didn’t say anything! Today. Well, let’s start with the second Saturday of December last year. Today was nothing like that Saturday except that I walked downtown. This year, I walked downtown twice! An early trip to the farmer’s market that I am lucky to have survived. On the way down, I was walking on the sidewalk when someone RIGHT BEHIND ME said, “excuse me”. A bicycler riding on the sidewalk even though there was a bike lane there and very little traffic! I think I jumped a mile and kind of eeked, which seemed to scare her about as much as she had scared me.

Anyway, I survived that only to FALL during my trek back up the hill to the Landfill. Huh? It was not dark or icy and I was walking on regular old sidewalk pavement. In other words, I tripped over my own feet. I’m not sure *exactly* what happened but I felt my right rubber-soled purple Keen sandal “catch” in an odd way – the antithesis of slipping on ice. All is well, although after I got home and changed clothing, I noticed that some blood had seeped through my purple tights. Yes, I managed to skin my knee. Not the first time and won’t be the last.

Saturday chores and the inevitable trip over to Ace Hardware and then I walked downtown again, this time to the Main & Liberty area*. Xmas shopping with enough success to fill my Maple Leaf Backpack. That second trip was without incident. In fact, I hiked up through Miller Woods on the way home. Then an afternoon of wrapping a paltry few packages, picking through Landfill stuff, organizing Landfill stuff and flinging Landfill stuff. Not MUCH flinging done today though, just little bits but eye-balling the next big push (a lot of my fabric). For now, Ninja has four banker’s boxes in the trunk and we will drop those off at Kiwanis whenever we manage to. Two of those boxes are filled with old binders. I remember when I used to BUY those. Jeebus.

*My two trips downtown and back today amounted to about eight miles of walking and then I walked over to the Plum Market in the late afternoon. At any rate, it was MUUUUUCH easier to get around town today than it was the second Saturday of December 2013.