Archive for November, 2016

Yellow Azalia

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

azaliaI can’t believe it is already Wednesday during what has turned out to be a rather grueling week. Oh, not because of Lefty. He is doing well enough that he walked downtown today. Although we do *not* want him to overdo (do we, girls? 😐).

Actually, it’s a good kind of grueling, the kind where I get to analyze things and do archaeological digs and pull billions of little bits and scraps of information together into a beautiful synthesis of rules, adorned with explanatory tables and flowcharts and screenshots and things. I came home yesterday having about a 5% understanding of the stuff I needed to sort out. A series of small epiphanies happened overnight and by half an hour after I got to work, I *owned* it.

Anyway, let’s take a couple of trips back into ancient history. The first trip goes all the way back to last Sunday when we were driving around southeastern southeast Trollandia. We didn’t exactly *happen* upon Azalia (not the same spelling as the flower). We were in Dundee, strategizing about how to get back home without taking the freeway (which was right next to us) and I saw Azalia on the map. Azalia? I was intrigued enough to want to check it out but the roads we ended up on sort of zigged and zagged around Azalia but didn’t go *through* it.

We eventually back-tracked a wee bit to make a special trip to Azalia and were rewarded by this astounding old-skool YELLOW Ford Fiesta that looks like it might still run. I liked the store/post office too but it isn’t open any more. I wonder which model year this venerable old vee-hickle is. If I remember accurately Fiestas were sold in the US between about 1978 and 1981.

And so my second trip back into ancient history. My first *new* vee-hickle was a 1979 metallic gold Ford Fiesta. It was a decent car but the pride I felt upon buying it was waaaaay out of proportion to what it was. It was a *car* but it was youth speaking. I OWN MY OWN CAR! A NEW CAR! Not long after that, I met the GG and since his old purple Gremlin was in a failure mode, he bought a 1980 BLUE Ford Fiesta. We owned those cars for a good many years and after a while, they became part of the trio of vee-hickles that Lizard Breath may remember as “Mommy’s Little Gold Car, Daddy’s Little Blue Car, and The Orange Car”. The Orange Car? Neighbors catty-corner from us.

Lefty-sitting (or not)

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

leftyI make it a point not to discuss medical crapola on my blahg but our latest little adventure ended in a rather hilarious way at least for meeee, so here’s the high-level overview.

Our little errand over in Livonia yesterday took us to a Umich outpatient surgical center. It’s one of the places our fave bone docs make minor repairs to people’s hands. So Lefty there in the pic decided to schedule a wee surgery on his right pinky NOW so that when spring rolls around, he can use his chainsaw. All went well and we were back home at around two and I was even able to get some work done although my work laptop doesn’t really talk to the Umich hoosegow wi-fi wherever so I was kind of crippled, pardon the pun.

Anyway, I had planned to telecommute today so I could be around home to, you know, “supervise”. Like, no, you can’t drive the Ninja because your right hand is encased in a splint and god only knows how many other wrappings so you cannot operate the Ninja’s gear shift. (Been there, done that btw, via Titanium Pinky’s 2015 adventures.) I suppose we could’ve recruited a relative or two to lefty-sit but I was hoping to get through this adventure without losing track of my onion goggles or whatever.

After I got back from my 0-skunk-30 walk this morning, I had a bit of brek and did a few chores and then I made a grokkery run. Lefty was out cold when I, uh, left, and I expected he would still be sleeping when I got back and I would put away the grokkeries and settle in to work. But. When I drove back into the driveway, maybe a half hour later, Hello! Lefty was coming out the door dressed like he was setting off on a hike. Say what? Well. He was going to walk over to the Village Kitchen to get breakfast. And so… I went to work! What the heck. Good thing I did go to work because I really needed to be there in person today. You don’t wanna know…

Oh, Lefty also went to see Arrival at some movie theatre somewhere today. He and I have both read the short story/novella the movie is based on. I have not seen the movie. Have you seen the movie and/or read the novella? If you have done both, what do you think about the changes incorporated into the movie? I think I will watch the movie some day but I am not anxious to do that. From what I’ve read, the story seems much “quieter” than the movie. I liked the story and I’m not sure I would be happy with the movie.

Anyway, all is well here and how about that alien hand (not the surgery hand).

I have no birds words

Monday, November 28th, 2016

birdsWe had a little errand over in Livonia this morning and we were negotiating the dangerously crappy old-skool cloverleaf-style interchange ramp taking us from M14 east to I275 north. I was not driving. We were not going very fast. I looked up. Wow! Miraculously, I was able to get my iPhone camera open and pointed at this sign soon enough that I could wait a few *seconds* until we got close enough for me to get the best possible shot. How often does that happen? Not to mention that the sign points to my home city, none other than The Planet Ann Arbor! You know, where all the “weird-ohs” live 🐽. Whatever. I’m taking it all as a good omen. Not sure what that omen portends although I do have a few things on my wish list. I’ll let you guess.

When I got to thinking about it, I was reminded of the gorgeous boat trip we took in Sarasota Bay a couple years ago, guests of The Mean Old Grumpy (not really!) Aunt Suze and Cap’n Ed. Throughout the cruise I noticed gulls and seabirds of all sorts sitting atop channel marker signs. I wish I had 100 photoooos of that phenomenon but it was a while before I got over my awe of the overall experience enough to start noticing the details. Like, what the heck are those birds doing sitting on top of those channel markers? Obviously they were fishing! Duh. To me (at first) they were just birds sitting on top of a sign. But look into their eyes. This is business!

Birds are mostly a passing interest for me. I’d rather watch birds than fight for the latest electronic gewgaw or “fashion sensation” at the mall on Black Friday. I mostly experience nature in a broad brush way and rarely have the patience to seek out the details. So I wonder why all of those birds were lined up along the Ann Arbor freeway sign. They certainly weren’t fishing. Bird aficionados?

Driving toward the light

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

catfishAfter four days of mostly gloom and doom (I mean weather-wise), the sun shone brightly upon us today, if at a low-slung angle. I took my usual walk this morning and when the GG became sentient I suggested that he eat a quick brek and then we could go for a ride. Yes, he did want to do that. I knew he would.

I didn’t really care where we went but I kind of expected we would travel more or less west, out through the glacial hills of western Washtenaw County, twisty-turny, up-and-down little roads and lots and lots of forest. So I was a little surprised when he headed south instead. We drove through bright sun-backed fog until we got a little north of the small city of Saline. We continued to head south and man oh man, we were driving into the sun and it was just about blinding. It was loverly and I wish I had tried to get a picture of it but I know that random iPhoneography from a car windshield could not have captured the “bathed in light” feeling we experienced. You’ll just have to imagine it.

So if the terrain to the north and west of The Planet Ann Arbor is hilly and forested, the terrain to the south is flat with big fields and long straight roads. Mostly that is. There are little pockets of hills and forests here and there. If we had kept driving south, we would soon have hit the Ohio border. We’ll do that [again] one of these days but today, when we hit M50, we hung a louie and, oh dear, we went to Cabela’s.

I did not really want to go to Cabela’s today. Shopping was not on my agenda. The GG wanted to visit the fish, or so he said. That may have been true and we did catch this lovely catfish customer. (And, what the heck, we’re at Cabela’s and I’ve had coffee and they have facilities so it isn’t all bad.) Of course, looking at the fish was only an excuse to get yer fav-o-rite blahgger in to Cabela’s so we could visit the Implements-of-too-much-fun Library. We’ll talk about the Good Ol’ Boy in the Iotmf Library talking to a customer on the phone about their NPI some other day. All in all, I think the Good Ol’ Boy was innocently asking about credit card numbers without connecting them to a person but as an online banking industry employee, my ears pricked up big time. Anyway, the Iotmf Library buys Iotmfs as well as sells them and someone picked up a business card about that. So, I was kind of glad to make that stop although I was itching to get back outside.

I suggested to the GG that I didn’t want to just jump onto the US23 freeway from Cabela’s back to The Planet Ann Arbor. Fortunately he agreed and, from there, we did a slow cruise through the beautiful village of Dundee and then zigged and zagged north and west until we got back to Saline and from Saline it is a straight shot back up to our home on The Planet Ann Arbor. I was kind of ready to get home by then but then again not. For various reasons, I have been working this weekend. It’s *not* overtime, I’m making up for not working Friday plus some hours of possible down-time this coming week.

After hours of working (me) and sleeping (the GG), we ended the afternoon with a sunset walk down at Barton Dam. And we’ll talk about Azalia and the yellow car some other day.

Go Blue, Drink Red

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

abcwhineI am not a football fan. I am not a football fan. I am not a football fan. Downhill skiing in the winter Olympics? I’m a fan (even though I usually fall asleep watching the Olympics). The point is that I am a fan of a very limited array of sports. I am not a football fan. I was a football fan today.

Alas, red trumped blue today as Ohio State beat our home team, the Champions of the West, (Trumped. Get it? 🐽) Us Nasty Blue Gals have had a rather rough month here in these parts, don’tcha think? [wink]

It was a fun afternoon *anyway*. We walked downtown in search of our usual mac and cheese at the Griz. Alas, the Griz was SLAMMED. There are THREE bars at the Griz (one is in the basement, a resurrected version of the Old German). ALL THREE were overflowing with people. We didn’t see Jenel anywhere. I bet she’ll be mad at us when we finally make an appearance which’ll probably be next Saturday. It will almost certainly be quieter then.

We ended up a block or so up the street at ABC Brewing. Miraculously, there were two adjacent seats at the bar there and we grabbed them. I was thinking I’d be missing my wee casserole of mac and cheese but I made short work of processing the ABC menu. Dried cherry/almond salad in a wrap, protein-ized with duck confit (I wasn’t even sure what duck confit was but it was good protein-ization). And a glass of cab, thank you very much. My nod to the “red” roots I come from? That is, before “red” moved waaaaaay to the right of my parents’ ideology (if you can call it that). I turned blue long before they did but they eventually followed joined me there. At least The Commander did. I’m not sure what the heck my old coot thought in his later years. He was pretty plainly p*ssed off with the whole dern dog and pony show. Blue dress? Stick it.

Of course the football game was on TV and that dominated the bar and the conversation but a lot of fun stuff happened and yer fav-o-rite blahgger even figured out what was going on some of the time. I marched in the marching band in every single Soo High football game from fall 1966 through fall 1971 and about all I can remember about the actual game on a good day is people chanting “1st and 10, let’s do it again!”. (Please don’t go there. This blahg is G-rated.) I do remember marching in just about the worst weather you can imagine, think mud and snow and whatever, and I think I’m blocking a vague memory of somebody walking out of a shoe in the mud. The only reason I know that person wasn’t me is because I was pretty OCD about shoes when I was young and wanted them to be tied tightly!

Blue whine is actually a thing nowadays but I think I’ll stick to red.

Good night and love y’all whatever color you are,

Taking home the carcass

Friday, November 25th, 2016

candlesOnce upon a time I forestalled (or would like to think I did) my children from becoming vegetarian by telling them that my criteria for vegetarianism was that they would have to eat, y’know, *vegetables*. The beach urchins were very young then and I had noticed a trend among some of their friends. And vegetarianism is just fine with me. The problem is that my kids were basically eating *air* at that time. Punctuated with fluorescent orange mac ‘n’ cheese from a box, pizza rolls, spaghettios (shy-shos, as Mz Liz initially called them), cheerios, and I fergit what else. None of it was greeeeeen and some of the more successful items came from aminals. Sigh.

Like most people, I thought that when I had my own kids, I would reinvent parenting. I would feed my kids nothing but fresh foods including plenty of vegetables, etc., and they would be excited to eat whatever I put in front of them. Y’all can guess how that turned out can’t you? I battled with them or I didn’t depending upon whatever my mood was. Or their moods. Or what the particular food was. Or how ugly the day had been. Whatever. You pick your battles. When I was a child/teenager, I always said to myself that things like hair and music would not be battles between me and my children. And they weren’t. Food? I hadn’t really thought about that. Not sure why since I was pretty dern picky myself.

Although the beach urchins eat a lot less aminal flesh than I do, I don’t think they have ever become rigid vegetarians or vegans or whatever. I think we have *all* tried to incorporate some of the best of those cuisines and others into whatever we decide we want to eat. I was doing that well before I married and had children. When it comes to Thanksgiving, we have a turkey and everybody eats it. We have a bunch of other stuff too. Once upon a time we had a vegetarian guest for Thanksgiving and she graciously told me that she always ate well at such feasts because of all the side dishes (which I had made sure did not include anything aminal that year).

We were cracking up this morning when one of the beach urchins and I were trying to figure out which ziploc bag in the freezer contained the turkey carcass. Don’t ask why it was hard to figure that out but we did eventually identify the carcass. Why? Because she wants to take it home and stick it in her freezer (in a refrigerator that’s bigger than mine) until she has time to make stock with it. But jeebus, “which one of these is the carcass?”

Gloomy gloomy gloomy day today. Punctuated by a walk downtown for lunch at the Blue Tractor with Liz, then a sinking spell, then had to RALLY to walk down for a regular Friday dinner at the Oscar Tango. ’tis the season. Always walk toward the light!

Lookin’ like Beethoven?

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

tdayplumHere we are (Mouse and me) on our annual Thanksgiving Day trek over to the Plum Market for mini desserts. Once upon a time, I used to make a pie or maybe even two for Thanksgiving. Alas, I am not the best baker. The Commander could make a pie with her eyes closed, dancing around the moomincabin chitchen to a Sousa march. Meee, not so much. Then a few years back I was hit by a nasty pre-xmas gastro-intestinal virus. Although I was mostly over it by xmas eve, I was not up to anything more than the basics that year and that’s when I discovered that it was a lot less stressful to walk over to the Plum Market and buy something from the Zingerman’s Bakehouse outlet there. We don’t eat a lot of sweet stuff around here anyway. A full-size pie or cake sits around here until it molds or dries out or whatever.

We have a collection of pics like this one going back 4-5 years now, including one that looks almost exactly identical to this one except that Mouse and I have our clothing colors switched, sorta. But that hair? (I mean my hair.) What on earth did that hair remind me of? I finally figured out that it reminded me of none other than Beethoven’s hair. Google him. I dunno. The Commander was never crazy about my preference for wearing my hair long. And believe me, this haircut (which is actually a wonderful cut) is long in terms of The Comm’s preferences. I wonder if she would’ve liked my hair better if I had told her I was merely emulating Beethoven. I was a musician, after all. She, on the other hand, had a London Fog trench coat for a while that made her look kind of like Columbo. Google him if you dare. (She liked Columbo and actually got a huge kick out of that resemblance.)

Anyway, I’m not sure if I am up to giving out a cheery “Happy Thanksgiving” this year. I have seen so much of that stuff on my facebook feed today that I’m starting to feel a bit ill. I think we should *always* be giving thanks for whatever is good in our lives and mine is plenty good, KNOCK ON WOOD BIG-TIME!!! I think we should *always* be wishing others well, even when they don’t “look” like us or have treated us badly (I need to work on the second one), as hard as that can be. It just seems so empty to do it on facebook, et al. I am not religious at all (and I am as FAR from perfect as you are and likely WORSE) but “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. Something like that.

Note that if you did post a happy thanksgiving type message or meme on facebook, I love you and I am not targeting you in any way. I actually don’t even remember who did or did not post a Thanksgiving message. I’m also sure I have done the same thing in past years. Just that this year my timeline overall got a bit cloying with so many people chiming in with the same message.

Oh, that 35 mph speed limit? Don’t believe it for a minute if you are trying to cross N. Maple on foot.

Ucky and murky and slodgy and blechy? Get outside!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

murkyI want to make this a Trumpless weekend but we’ll see if I make it through. I am not enamored of his choice for education secretary. Betsy DeVos is a charter school proponent. And so am I! But not in the way that charter schools are being implemented. It’s all too complicated for this humble vanity blahg but charter schools have not been about *children* like they were supposed to be (yes there are exceptions). Alas, big corporations, etc., have gotten involved. Like the ones Betsy DeVos and her family own. Sigh. I did go to the dark Trump side. I’m sorry. Not usually a sign gal but geez. If you can afford to send your children to any school you choose to send them to, it’s unlikely that you have a CLUE about government public schools and the difficult problems they have, especially in communities where there is no money to fund them. Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder, despite much hoopla, has not solved the Detroit public school system’s issues and he has actually set foot in a few public schools, including Pi-hi here on the Planet Ann Arbor, since that’s the school a couple of his kids graduated from. I’m not sure where Betsy DeVos’s children were educated but I would be surprised if it was in public schools. She is not an appropriate advocate for educating our country’s children. Our children.

Other than that, today was a pretty awful day, at least weather-wise. I was most of the way through my 0-skunk-30 walk when I could hear needly-sounding precipitation coming out of the sky. Ice. It was very light and I didn’t need to get my umbrella out of my backpack. (Did I actually haul an umbrella along in my backpack this morning? I actually can’t remember. I think I did? That was sooooo many hours ago.) We didn’t ever get enough freezing rain to make the roads dangereuse but we had regular rain *all* day. Mr. Golden Sun has blessed us with his presence so many times this fall. He did not even try to make an appearance today.

Work was gloomy today. I mean in terms of having almost NO ONE to interact with. Sometimes I enjoy that but today it was just weird. KennyP was there bopping around and it was fun to listen to her clean out the refrigerator. The Benevolent Despot was in for a while. We had a company sponsored early release today (3 o’clock) and at about two PM, I counted maybe 10 cars in the parking lot. I was more than ready to bail out at three. As I started up the Ninja to leave, a beloved song from Dave Brubeck’s Time Out came on. That got me into the groove.

And then I came home and… The broken string of blue lights along my living room wall where it meets the ceiling had been REPLACED with a new string! 10 minutes after I got home, The Pensioner came in hauling a Chico bag full of groceries. He had anticipated things that we might need tomorrow morning like English muffins and *tangerine* juice. Yes, tangerine juice. I/we always buy fresh orange juice over at the Plum. When they have tangerine (or blood-orange) juice, I snap it up. I walked over to the Plum anyway. I had my own little list. But I was happy to be able to cross a few things off that list.

But the main point is that I bundled up and headed out into the rain and hoofed it over to the Plum, where it was busy and all lit up and filled with stuff to buy and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. And I felt better for getting out and going over there. So. Turkey Day tomorrow. Both Amazon Gals coming home. Faaaaar in the faaaarplace (first one of the season). Drive safely kiddos.

In which double and triple chins are not particularly photogenic…

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

nosolicitingLinked In? Please stop suggesting friends (or is it connections?) that I do not want to, uh, connect with.

The Benevolent Despot? He is my boss. He’s the big boss, not my immediate supervisor, although I did report to him for a few years. I connect with him every day at work and I know him well. I love him (as a BOSS!) but social media? Not. Well, we *do* follow each other on Twitter but I rarely post and he probably hasn’t posted in eight years or so.

My investment guy? Naw. Actually he is not really a social media guy. He is a phone and face-to-face guy. As in, “Hi! How are you doing? Let’s go out to eat.” This drives me a bit nuts but I like him and it has also been helpful at times during the ridiculous trail of tears that happened after The Commander died.

My ex-sister-in-law? Linked In? Please please please please pretty please with a cherry on top? Will you stop suggesting that I connect with the woman who harassed me and my family for YEARS via unscrupulous lawyers. I’m not sure how those lawyers made her life any better but we won’t go there today. The thing is that SHE DISCONNECTED ME! So why do you (Linked In) think I would want to become friends with her AGAIN? I do not get Linked In’s algorithm and I do not see a way to tell it that I DO NOT WANT TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE I DON’T WANT TO CONNECT WITH. Or maybe, I should just try to connect with her and see what happens. Hmmm…

Triple chins? Most of us baggy old kayak women can manage to show them. Well, I can do a double chin, but I could do that when I was a skinny teenager. I don’t think I’m quite fat enough to do a triple chin even now that I am old and baggy. But if I were worried about what I might look like in the random photos and videos that come with a public position (like president of the USA), I would not run for that position.

Love you all,
Even if I don’t agree with your presidential choice,

slam dunk

Monday, November 21st, 2016

snow2I said variations of that phrase so many times today it is turning into my new mantra. “It’ll be a slam dunk!” “I thought it would be a slam dunk.” Finally it all just devolved to “slam dunk”. If I look at certain people and merely mouth the words “slam dunk”, they get it. And we all laugh in that way that one does when the alternative is to shed tears, preferably into a beer or something.

I’ll never forget when Big Band Boy and his buddy Pete would traverse the Canadian border up in the Yooperland to play in a jazz band on the Canadian side. At the zoo in Bellevue Park, where I have watched the bears do you-know-what. Or maybe it was Big Band Boy who saw that. I definitely saw a Boiled Iggle there once. Anyway. I can’t exactly remember all of the machinations of assigning parts to various musicians but I *think* that there were times when rather mediocre trombonists were assigned good parts because they were Canadian or maybe simply because they were buddies with the director.

Big Band Boy was anything BUT a mediocre trombonist. By that time (late high school, I think) he was an award-winning musician who had come a long way since the days when he practiced up in his bedroom in our shabby little Superior Street bungalow, shaking the house as he stomped his foot to keep time. And I believe he fainted once. That’s not an uncommon side effect of learning a wind instrument. He became an automotive engineer (cars were a life-long passion for him) but played in an acclaimed college jazz band and kept up with the jazz scene, playing in various groups up until close to his death.

Did Big Band Boy whine and cry about not getting all of those good parts, the ones that would allow him to show off his talents? Naw. He sat up on the bleachers with the biggest sh*t-eatin’-est grin on his face that you have ever seen. Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I did see it and maybe that’s the same day we saw the bears do the thing. The point was that *he* was having fun *anyway*.

I don’t exactly know how I got on to this old story but I can’t end it without reporting that every time Big Band Boy’s friend Pete drove, customs on one side or the other took his Camaro apart looking for you-know-what. At least that’s what BBB told me. I don’t think I ever rode when Pete drove. I did ride with Pete a few times. We were kind of crush-ish throughout high school but I never knew it then. He was actually a year older than me, aka four years older than BBB. We were in his Camaro in a big old Sault Ste. Siberia snowstorm and there was some rocking involved to get it unstuck from some kind of snow/ice situation. I mean carefully throwing the vee-hickle into forward and reverse, etc., not what you might be thinking. Really really nice guy with a fancy car but in the end, after many crushes and some failed relationships, I met a guy with an ANCIENT purple Gremlin and he was cooking a can when I met him and I still married him. I have just enough info about Pete to know that he has also married well and happily. Which makes me happy.

I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now. Beware, there’s probably an ad…

I agree with Michael Moore. But we’ll see.


Sunday, November 20th, 2016

snow1Why do I let beautiful warm fall seasons like this one lull me into thinking we’re not going down the escalator. Just two days ago the Ninja’s dashboard reported 70 degrees as I drove home from work while the sun sank toward the western horizon. But I know what the next few months have to offer. Been there done that.

Still I wasn’t totally prepared for the penetrating cold and wind that today brought. It’s not really all that cold out. It’s around 30. But the wind is screaming. I did my usual walk this morning albeit maybe 45 minutes later than usual but that was just slothfulness. I was bundled up and warm enough although one of the first things I did this morning (after cooking bacon!) was to order a second smartwool balaclava so that when one of them needs to be laundered, I will have a spare. Actually, I think I should buy a bunch of those things for folks to borrow when they visit and do not have, uh, hats. I mean real hats, the ones that keep you warm, not those great America red thingies. Not sure what those red hats are gonna do for America but they will definitely not make me, up here in the Great Lake State, warmer. Fortunately I have an arsenal of winter clothing at my disposal.

Anyway, we had a sort of slow day here in a way. I did a whole lot of little things in the morning. Cooking and cleaning and moving furniture. I did not move my grandma’s buffet out of the front living room. I wanted to move it and I suggested the move (two buffet type things right next to each other? Really?). I was totally surprised when I got home from a morning trek to the Plum to find it GONE! Oh, don’t worry. He just moved it into the “guest room”. Actually my Mouse wants Grandma Margaret’s buffet and she is welcome to it and I will keep it here until she has the space-time to deal with it.

We did take a bit of a Ninja Ride today. A half-hearted ride out into the nearer reaches of the county, then downtown. Downtown? Why are we going downtown? We parked down there and got a beer/whine at Hopcat. We hadn’t been there before. It was lovely but I think it is not exactly my fave place to go. I love the Griz and the Jolly and the Oscar Tango the Redum Hawk and ABC and I kinda wanta try the Blue Tractor… I was kind of thinking that Hopcat might be a little like this generation’s version of Dooleys. Whatever. We had wonderful service and I was happy.

We got back home and took some sinking spells. The GG crashed out. I got back into reading Kavalier and Clay for a couple hours, then schlepped over to the Plum (yes again) to stock up on a few more items for the Thanksgiving week. I will be schlepping a turkey home from there tomorrow. And then… It is interesting to try to grocery shop a holiday dinner via a backpack but I don’t have a lot of folks to feed.

So yesterday, I went outside and my Ninja had a thin covering of snow on it. Today’s pic is from something like five minutes later. The street looks like it’s covered with ice. Not, thank you god. Just wet and dried up quickly. I counted up my YakTrax supply this morning. Four pairs! Two unused. The others look pretty okay.

Typical kitchen misadventures

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

choreday1So, one of the beach urchins is moving house today. The GG took the Trashmobile (Frog Hopper plus C-fam junk-hauling trailer) over to Detroit to “help”. I was itching to “help” too or maybe just itching for something to do somewhere besides the Landfill. I heard a whiff of a conversation that I wasn’t in on though… “Moom will just get bored”. Yes!!! Not to mention annoyed at the cat-herding that is inevitable during any kind of a move that involves anything more than clothing, a flute, and a big bunch of classical flute sheet music. Not to mention that some of her friends are also moving this weekend. I didn’t even try to understand all of what was going on. But I knew that I wouldn’t be of any real help. This person moved out of my house at age 17, moved several times throughout college including to Spain for study abroad, then to Callyforny at 21, moved a couple times there, moved back here, first to Ferndale and today is her second move in the beautiful city of Detroit.

Yesterday I actually asked if this young adult would like “dad” to bring over a vacuum cleaner. Moom, I have a vacuum cleaner and I’ve already done a lot of pre-cleaning so it’s pretty clean here. So. How could I help? BY STAYING OUTTA THE WAY, FER KEE-REIST! (Oh, when I say *young* adult? I don’t mean young 20-somethings. Nope. My beautiful little beach urchins are edging beyond that age and they manage their own lives without any interference from me. I CERTAINLY don’t try to tell them what to think! But what the heck, *50* is a young adult as far as I’m concerned.)

choreday2So this not-all-that-young adult stayed here at the Landfill today. After the usual early morning Saturday trip to the farmers market, I went in search of turkey wings. Why? Because, despite some excellent teachers (my moom and The Lady of Linden among them) I have never quite mastered the knack of making gravy from the turkey pan. What works for me is to make gravy ahead of time and freeze it. This procedure involves baking some turkey wings, etc., and this year I had a *terrible* time finding turkey wings. I had to go to *two* big-box type grokkery stores to find them but I finally did over at the Westgate Kroger. The stores were all SLAMMED today because home football game plus Saturday before Thanksgiving so I felt lucky to get through the Uscan lines without incident.

But grocery mishaps? So, after I finally found the turkey wings, I needed to buy some chicken stock. And you can see that I didn’t get matching stock. Why not? Because I grabbed a box of stock off the shelf and then for whatever ungodly reason couldn’t process ounces into cups (I KNOW THIS STUFF!) so I shrank over to the other side of the aisle to google the conversion. Yes, I needed another box. I did not read the fine print so of course I ended up with mis-matching boxes of chicken stock. Actually I didn’t want *either* fat-free or low-sodium but. I shoved my lurking OCD over into the corner where it belongs. It’ll be okay that I have two different kinds of chicken stock. It’ll all taste the same in the end. It’s not as bad as when you grab tomato paste with “Mexican” seasoning in it or whatever.

choreday3I also bought cereal for Chex mix. Mouse was here not long ago and she needed a snack and we didn’t have a lot of snacks and I remember her saying that even Cheerios would be okay. Without looking up into the cereal cupboard, I said that I thought no one was really eating cereal around here since the GG retaaaaared and so any Cheerios we had around were probably stale as all get out. Today I bought rice, corn, and wheat chex. I got that stuff home and well. Not only is there an UNOPENED box of Cheerios up there, there was an unopened box of rice chex (so now we have *two*) and *two* unopened boxes of grain cereal. All I can say at this point is EAT CEREAL!!! Jeebus.

Well and then there was when I walked outside and the Ninja was kinda covered with snow a little bit. Hey, Ninja, are you ready for another winter with me? You are 8 years old and I am kinda thinking about what might be next. But I love you soooooo much! I’m not quite ready to change you up yet. I am thinking about when I drove you up to Tahq in late September and how much fun I had shifting you into whatever gear we needed and how beautiful I felt getting out of you at that rest stop just above the beautiful mouth of the Tahquamenon river. Let’s do another winter together. I can drive the Frog Hopper if I need to or I can telecommute.

You been in the back seat before

Friday, November 18th, 2016

So said the parking lot gal when she spied the GG in the back seat of the Vee-hickle of Porterization. I’m not sure if that means that we’ve arrived or what. Our plan had been to walk home like we always do but it was raining and we didn’t exactly have rain gear (or at least I didn’t). I suppose we couldda figgered out how to hire an Uber or something but we were already porterized so we bagged it into their vee-hickle and so we were able to bask in parking lot porterization fame.

It’s okay (that we didn’t walk, I mean). It’ll be a busy weekend. I have multiple grokkery runs to do and various pre-cooking chores for Thanksgiving. Not that we’re having some big whing-ding or whatever. Just four of us. I just like to have the main stuff done before the holiday so nobody has to be futzing around in the chitchen too much. I do make eggs benny for brek. And we cook a turkey on the grill. Other than that, everything but salad and some sort of veggie saute thingy gets heated in the oven. And we usually walk to the Plum to get some wee bit of dessert.

And it was 70 degrees today but we are being threatened with all sorts of gloom and doom tomorrow. We’ll see. I think the Yooperland may get some of the S stuff. Gaylord? Yes. Snow belt. Down around here? Maybe some of our rain will turn sort of white from time to time. I have to admit I used to welcome the first snow but I think I still have PTSD from our 2014 Polar Vortex winter. But we’ll deal with whatever we get. We have no choice.

G’night, KW

Gaze not accepted

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

plumsunsetKind of a ho-hum pic but just to show a place that I walk to *frequently* and that when I *took* the pic, it was maybe 5:35 PM? I hope you aren’t thinking that bright light is the sun because my GPS flipped over from day to night right around the time I drove into the Landfill driveway today. Not the sun.

What you can’t really see in this pic is all of the new stores that have replaced the once thriving KMart that anchored this old-skool shopping plaza. When we bought the Landfill, KMart was a going concern and it wasn’t always easy to find a parking place over there. In recent years, the lot was usually empty. The last time I remember going in there was a few years ago when the GG *insisted* on buying fake fireplace logs there. They were cheaper at KMart than they were at Ace Hardware, where we were also going. Maybe so but when I tried to check out at KMart the clerk was practically crying asking me to sign up for some kind of “program”. If she didn’t get enough people to sign up, she would lose her job. I felt *awful* for her but by then I could see the writing on the wall. KMart is going down. It did and I can’t remember if I signed up for the “program” or not but I felt for her. But I just wanted to get outta there that day. [delete long stuff, i.e., this ain’t the New Yorker]

So 200-hmmm-8(?), when did Mouse come back from study abroad? The Plum Market took over the old Fox movie complex. I am not much of a movie-goer (I hate to sit) but I did go to a few movies there. I *much* prefer the Plum Market. AND I CAN WALK THERE!!! After all these years, KMart is gone and is now being replaced with Home Goods, SteinMart, and Sierra Trading Post and I’m not sure what else but looks like some other store fronts might be in the works. The plaza is starting to look a bit spruced up. I dunno how successful all of these “upscale” stores will be. I doubt I will shop in them although I will probably do a walk-about at some point just to check them out. We’ll see where this all goes. I’d prefer less concrete and more natural features and small inroads have been made in that direction. And there I go off on a long tangent again.

Gaze not accepted? It’s when a person is doing the “I’m looking at you” thing and the receiver of the gaze doesn’t want to answer the question, at least not until he/she has thought about it for a while. Spoken out loud, the statement “Gaze not accepted” made a conference room full of people kind of jump out of their seats. Think about it. But know that we all jumped up (figuratively speaking) because we do NOT discriminate at my work against anyone. If you have the skills to do the job and do not proselytize about polly-ticks or religion or whatever, you are part of our team. We are focused on work. I won’t lie, there have been some little references to the new “regime” but they represent the quiet black humor that some of us will need to endure the next four years.

One last lonely milkweed bug

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

milkweedbugClose to 60 again today and climbing a bit over the next couple days and then I think I have heard that the S word is in the weekend forecast but probably not any significant accumulation(?). If so, that’s a good thing, especially given that one of the beach urchins is moving house this weekend. (I mean the lack of accumulation, not the S word.) Two years ago? It snowed most of the second half of November if I remember accurately. The ponds at work were coated with ice. I had more fun than I should probably admit to throwing gravel onto the ice to listen to the sound it made. A little coda to the preceding Polar Vortex winter of 2014.

I said I was done with polly-ticks (although it’s my blahg and I can write whatever I want to whether or not it makes any sense). I am not finished with Clickbait. I encountered an article from the Huffpo this morning with the headline “Bernie Sanders Could Replace President Trump With Little-Known Loophole”. Did I immediately click share and lurch along happily down my facebook feed? Noooooo. Actually, I didn’t vote for Bernie in our primary, back in some other lifetime, or so it seems. I took some heat for going with Hillary (rather than Bernie) but at least I voted.

Did I (who abhors the fact that Trump won the election) think, “OMG, Bernie is gonna save us!!!” (and click the share button without reading the article)? Noooooo.

I thought something like, “There is NO WAY that Bernie Sanders or anyone else could possibly “win” an election that was over a week ago, except maaaaaayyybeeee for the person who WON IT?” Not that I wouldn’t prefer Bernie to Donald Trump but c’mon. There may be some electoral college tricks that could happen but they wouldn’t involve Bernie Sanders, they would involve Hillary Clinton. AND THEY AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN!” Sorry about using the word “ain’t”, moom, wherever you are. I am in my house, not in the schoolyard where you can’t hear me use bad grammar.

I clicked ANYWAY. I wanted to know what the HECK kind of cockamamie crap the article was going to present to me. Plus it was on the Huffington Post. I have mixed feelings about the Huffpo but I believe that it is not in the business of publishing fake news. But could the Huffpo have gone over to the dark side? Well, click for yourself and tell me what you think. Or not, if you prefer to lurk. I think the Huffpo NAILED IT!

Again, reading, writing, and critical thinking.


Outta steam

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

kayakOh, don’t get your hopes up too high. This Vanity Blahg of mine is not going anywhere any time soon. I just need a break from the topic of the season. I’m not very good at sorting out my thoughts about polly-ticks from the get-go and writing them down coherently after a long day of analysis and writing, etc., at my job is almost impossible on the best of days and today was fine except that I was deep into wrangling three different prodjects. I do have strong gut feelings about our seasonal topic and I am hoping that President-elect Trump can convince me those are wrong but I am not optimistic. But there I go off into the wild blue yonder like I said I wouldn’t do.

Another thing I was NOT doing today was kayaking. I did not take that pic. I was not on the river. Other things the GG did besides kayaking included preparing to fling some things that I have long wanted to get rid of. I can’t divulge what they are, just stuff that I don’t really want to have around. Not that there won’t still be a few species of that item around. I’ll be okay with that.

Stop here if you haven’t seen Arrival. Spoilers here. But read the novella before going to the movie if you can.

I listened to a story about Arrival on NPR on the way to Houghton Lake last Friday afternoon. I was so taken by the story about the movie that I downloaded the novella that the movie is based on and interrupted my current book (which I love) to read it. The novella is a bit quieter than the movie seems to be (but I haven’t seen the movie). Spoilers? There is no Chinese general trying to blast the heptapods out of the sky in the novella. The military is involved in the whole thing but the heptapods leave suddenly for no particular reason. And also, the protagonist’s daughter did not die via illness. She fell to her death while rock-climbing in a national park. (Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang.)

By the way, why can’t I just slow down time so that we are still *at* Houghton Lake basking in the beautiful late November sunshiny days we were blessed with over the weekend. The sun is shining here and it’s warm but I am missing the north-country so much.

Last but not least, it is so quiet in my “row” at work nowadays. We are missing a few of our co-workers so much. The bantering and the white boards with all the strike marks in different colors. And the cakes and the oven mitt and trying to buy powdered sugar from Tim Hortons and and and… We all miss you so much friend.

Tillie in Maui? Uh-oh spaghettio

Monday, November 14th, 2016

mauiSomething like that. Which Tom Wolfe Robbins book does that come from? Seems like it was a beautiful red-headed young woman and I think it was her grandmother who was Tillie? And maybe Tillie was some sort of exiled queen of some eastern European nation or something. Help me here, Tom Robbins fans. I read several of his books in my youth. Even Cowgirls get the Blues? The gal with eight-inch thumbs, roight? (Sure couldn’t play the flute with those, I thought while reading the book and practicing the flute umpteen billion hours a day.) I’m not dissing Tom Robbins. I loved his books. He and people like William Makepeace Thackeray helped me get out of a science fiction rut that I really wanted to move on from (at least temporarily) but after I read about 3-4 of Robbins’ books I was kind of over it. But you never know. I may re-read some of those books. It’ll be on my phone this time ’round.

So I wanted to write about clickbait today. I am sooooo sick to death of clickbait. You know, where someone shares some kind of inflammatory headline about what Donald Trump or Hillary or whoever has said or done. On the Hillary supporter side (because you KNOW that’s who I supported, and if you didn’t, I love you anyway and hahahahahaha), there was a thing about how Obama said last week that it was absolutely legal for illegal immigrants to vote in the election. It is not, of course and President Obama knows that but the question (from a beautiful young Latina woman) was not clear and he fumbled the answer.

And then there’s the whole George Soros is paying people to protest thing… C’mon, is George Soros really paying protestors? Maybe he is. I doubt that he is paying every single protestor. I bet he is paying fewer than 1% of the protestors. I think most of the protestors are protesting because they do not want this president to take office. I am happy about people protesting president-elect Trump but I don’t think that the protestors will reverse the election results. If this president does *not* take office it will be because he has spuriously decided that running a country will not let him run his businesses and hang around in his beautiful homes and apartments. But I think he will take office.

My fave protest sign ever (it was on facebook so take it for whatever) was “Not usually a sign guy. But jeez.” My sentiments exactly.

P.S. I want to add this after thinking all night about the illegal immigrant voting thing. When I heard this rumor, I did some googling. I found a snippet of phone video of a TV interview in which Obama did indeed say something that sounded like it was okay for illegal immigrants to vote in our country. It was also pretty hard to hear him because whoever made the phone video was also breathing (loudly) like Darth Vader. I did some more googling and found the original source of the video. It is agony for me to watch talking head type videos but I watched all four minutes of it, which provided the full context of the conversation leading up to it. The actual question involved whether, when a *legal* US citizen voted, her voting information (address, etc.) could be used to sniff out possible *illegal* relatives and deport them. He answered her correctly (essentially, no) but would have done well to provide the actual rules. But I think when people are presented with ridiculous “stories” like this, they have an obligation to try to suss out accurate information (or at least *read* the damn article) before clicking share on facebook or wherever. Off to finish my chores and go bring home the bacon. Hi ho.

“Deep down, he wants to be madonna”

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

First of all, we went back to Mikey’s restaurant for brek this morning. We ate there yesterday morning but I ate light because I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish a whole omelet plus “taters” and an English muffin. Big breakfasts do not sit well with me in general and especially not when I am hiking. I will take a box but yesterday, that box would’ve had to sit in the Frog Hopper wherever we parked it up in the beautiful Jordan River Valley. We went back to Mikey’s today and we both took half of our breakfast home in boxes.

Mikey’s is a great restaurant and it has taken over the old Houghton Lake Big Boy restaurant. We ran into one of its owners and her friend when we were hiking at Tahq back in September and picked up beer for them. My main memory of the HL Big Boy restaurant is going there at a late stage of pregnancy with my [beloved] in-laws. Except that they wanted the frog legs and the frog legs didn’t look like the pic. I was terribly embarrassed when they complained to the waitress even though they were correct in complaining. But frog legs at the Big Boy? Or anywhere. Not… Anyway, Mikey’s is good but we certainly won’t abandon Little Boots and those loverly Gunslinger Quesadillas. We hope that both restaurants keep going strong.

And then there was the long slog down south. We were hauling a trailer, albeit a small one with one kayak on it, but I bagged driving because trailer and we took the “old” road (M13) rather than the I75 SUV Speedway, joining up with I75 after skirting the darkest depths of Mordor. Maybe we should have stopped for tea and crumpets? Or not. Snort.

I have been reading (or at least looking at the cartoons and reading the short stories) the New Yorker since I was a 20-something or maybe even before that. Radical Betty always subscribed to it and I read it at her house. When I finally approached something like adulthood, I subscribed to the New Yorker myself. For a while I read it pretty much cover to cover.

Life got crazy. Kids grew up and moved away and I went back to college and fell backwards into a career. New Yorker? The dead tree version stacked up and I had to vacuum around it. I’ve been through various iterations of the on-line mag. What turns out to work the best for me is getting regular emails that link me to web or phone friendly stories. I read a number of those stories today sitting in the Frog Hopper on the way home. One of those links led me to this 1997 profile of Donald Trump. It’s a long read (and it may not be available to anyone who doesn’t have a subscription). I am guessing I probably read it back in 1997 but can’t say that I remember doing that. I have never been terribly interested in celebrities of any sort though and who knew, in 1997, that this person would one day be elected president? Jeebus.

Is the New Yorker a reliable source of news and information? It isn’t exactly a newspaper. But it is a long-time source of literature and commentary about current events. I remain concerned about the lack of reliable properly vetted information that we, as voters, have received throughout the recent election cycle. I believe we are in the middle of a change in how news is delivered. Here’s another New Yorker article that focuses on that issue. I have to admit that I didn’t totally understand everything in that article (at least upon an initial read) but, in a small way, me and my iPhone are part of the next wave of journalism. I am rarely in a place where I get a chance to document something political but, if I ever am, I will have my phone open to photo/video whatever is going on. And post it along with my commentary (correct or not) wherever I want to post it. Can we, as adults (educated or not) sort all of this information out. Can we figure out how to educate our children to do the same? Hmmm?

Love y’all, KW

Death March with the Twinz of Terror

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

jordan1You don’t always know how much you need sleep until you wake up at that batscope hour and you look over at your cube-shaped alarm clock to check the time… And your cube-shaped alarm clock is NOT THERE. And you are thinking something like, “Where the hell am I?”. But just for a second because you figger out pretty damn quickly that you are, aaaahhhh, at the beloved C-Fam cabin at Houghton Lake. I fell back asleep for a while after that but I still got out for a walk before the sun came up. I felt soooooo good this morning. I needed that sleep.

We ate brek at Mikey’s this AM and then we headed up north to the Jordan River Valley. We hiked one direction a bit and met up with The Uncly Uncle and Gene and it’s too complicated to talk about the whole thing but we eventually finished a beautiful warm fall hike on Gene’s adopted section and then we drove down to Mancelona, where we could not find a dive barrrooom *anywhere* (what is up with that?), so we drove over to Waters, where we found a wonderful barrooom, and then down to the Best Choice grocery and finally to Houghton Lake again, just as the sun was setting at 5:14 PM!

And here’s this from the Cream, just for fun. Get into my big black car. Indeed.

Perfect evening for a kayak ride…

Friday, November 11th, 2016

hlfaarWell, except for a few facts like it is pretty cold out there and we arrived here just as the sun went down and I am pretty much dead taaared after a week of work and, well you know. There was Brexit and our fam had its own little version of that a while back with Kexit but hmmm. Not sure how to mash up whatever the heck happened this week with “exit”. Exit of common sense is about all I can think of.

Anyway when we got here tonight there was a faaaaar already going down by the shore. It had been going pretty much all day thanks to The Beautiful Liz and her hubby. They were raking leaves. I am so glad I am not doing that this year. I actually like to rake leaves but I am so so so so busy and overwhelmed at work that I am happy not to have to do a bunch of chores on the weekend. I mean I don’t want to do chores that other people or governmental entities have defined for me. I am happy to do my own chores. I have raked leaves here and at the Landfill many times and I’m sure I will do it again. For the moment, I am happy to get a little break. Thanks y’all for doing such a wonderful job!

I am done. Stick a fork in me. I do not know what I want to do tomorrow. I know that I don’t want to walk 20 miles. I am pretty sure I don’t want to be terribly social, not that hikers are usually social. I know that the GG wants to meet up with an organized hike tomorrow. I hope I can muster the strength to do that. I would really rather just hang out down around here and take a variety of shorter hikes interspersed with some scenic drives and things. Sorry to be such a wimp. I was hoping for a nice long weekend around this time of year but it ain’t happening and I am taaaared. I said that already.