round island

Birch Pt. Beach Blahg Archives
February 2006

Wed. February 1:

Yesterday afternoon I got one of those calls that you always know you are going to get. Grandaddy (my dad) was taking his usual walk downtown to the post office in Sault Ste. Siberia when he fell on some ice and broke his hip. I have not seen him yet but he is as okay as okay can be in that kind of situation. Last night the Octos were flown to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit where he will have surgery. It is a very good hospital but it will be a challenge navigating back and forth to Detroit, especially during the Super Bowl, an event that you can be sure I completely ignore every other year. Unfortunately, U of M could not schedule him until next week. I have no further news or information at this time. I am going to spend a little time here in A2 tying up a few loose ends of my own and then I will head over there and do not know when I will return. I am not going to post a blow by blow on this blahg. I am sure Grandaddy doesn't even want this entry to be on here. But that's the news. I am not sure when I will be back on line, sometime later today, I'm sure.

Thu. February 2:

Happy Groundhog Day! That is all! Oh wait, I think it is Skunk Day around here.

Fri. February 3:

Go Seahawks! I am a sports fan this weekend. The last time I was a sports fan was during the 1984 world series. Detroit was in it that year and I do not know why but I got obsessed with baseball for a couple of weeks. I mean, I didn't sit there and watch the games. I can't even remember who the other team was. But I was certainly concerned with who was winning and it was quite exciting if I remember accurately. In the end, Detroit won and Lizard Breath was born a week or whatever afterward. Apparently the wife of one of the Tigers (I can't remember who) had a baby in the same hospital a day or so before Lizard came along and I can remember people getting into a kerfluffle because a limo came to pick her and the baby up. I was not impressed. Limousines and things like that are just trappings. And I bet my baby was cuter than hers >:->> Hey, it's my blahg and I can say what I want :-P Anyway, since we are going to be commuting to Detroit during the Superbowl, I will fill in for the Regenstreif/Harms of Seattle. Go Seahawks!

The Octos are doing as well as possible under the circumstances and surgery will probably not be until about Monday. Since I really don't want to publish explicit info on here, family members and friends who would like email updates (probably daily for the time being) should email me and I'll put together an email distribution list.

Sat. February 4:

Check engine. Just what I needed today. Owning more vee-hickles than drivers may seem like wretched excess to some but there are times when it comes in handy. Grok grok. I toldya to keep the POC! grok grok grok

Sun. February 5:

Citizens of Ann Arbor, kee-reist!, clean up your sidewalks! We do not need any more broken bones! There is a law or ordinance or whatever in this town about snow and ice removal. You can get a ticket if you don't comply but they enforce the law/ordinance in a haphazard manner so you never know. Anyway, I shoveled my walk (manually) this morning and then I salted the hell out of it. And by noon or so, the pavement was wet and non-slippery. This evening it is dry. I walked this evening and I encountered three different scenarios. 1) somebody shoveled or snow-blew and put salt down (dry pavement, easy to walk on, this is what I did with my sidewalk) 2) nobody shoveled (mildly hard to trudge through but not slippery) and 3) snow-blower and no salt. Yeah, you guys, once again, when you blow your sidewalk completely clean and do not salt afterward, the sheet of moisture that gets left behind freezes when the temperature drops and becomes a goddamn sheet of ice. Do y'all not *ever* walk *anywhere*! Sheesh! I do not need to break my hip or crack my skull or any of that stuff. We have enough of that stuff to deal with here. grok grok. Yeah, I cannot (grok) land buoy 22 (grok grok) on icy sidewalks. grok grok. FROGGY! Buoy 22 is grounded and so are you!

I know that it's early in the game, but so far the Seahawks are doing great. At least that's what the GG tells me, the TV is on with the sound off and we have NPR folk on the radio. Rock on and GO SEAHAWKS!

Mon. February 6:

My usual Monday routine is to get up early and walk, eat my cheerios and meet Marci for coffee at Barry Bagels. Assuming she isn't gallivanting around the world somewhere. We've been doing coffee for a long time, since our kids were 6th graders, and we've migrated from Cafe Zola downtown over to the west side. But today I am off to Henry Ford. Wish us luck.

Tue. February 7:

Traveling blues...

Wed. February 8:

Yup, there is a big wall there. About all there is to do is just get up and punch it down.

Thu. February 9:

Obviously overly oxygenated octogenarians.

Fri. February 10:

grok grok grok. We liked the Henry Ford Hilton. grok grok ooh ooh ooh ah ah We do not understand (grok grok) why we got kicked out. Grok Grok grok. All of a sudden (grokGROK), the old bag threw us ohh ooh ooh ah ah into her vee-hickle (grok grok) and now we're back in A2 in that blasted laundry basket. Grook grokgrok

Sat. February 11:

Well, I have always had a very tentative relationship with telephones and this week just about has me at the end of my blasted rope! Onward...

Sun. February 12:

Lemme see... I have eaten at McDonald's three times in the last five years or so. October 9, 2002 at St. Ignace, July 1, 2005 at Houghton Lake, and today, February 12, 2006 somewhere near Battle Creek. That doesn't count all the times we've picked up coffee at the drive-thru of the Stockbridge McDs on morning trips to Houghton Lake. The reason we were near Battle Creek today was that we were on our way to Kalamazoo College to watch a play for which Mouse served as the Assistant Stage Manager. Liz, who wasn't involved with this play, sat with us in the audience, as well as her friend/housemate Laura, whom we've known since middle school. I was apprehensive about heading in that direction and leaving the octogenarians to their own devices over at Henry Ford. But things apparently went okay down there today and Bubs and Harry visited them. THANK YOU!!! I will venture to guess that The Commander needed a break from me anyway :-) As apprehensive as I was, after days on end of living out of a backpack, car, and dirty-old ski jacket (with zip pockets to lose credit cards in ;-) and hanging around the surgical waiting lounge, ICU, and pre-op, I *needed* to go to Kalamazoo today. I didn't know how much I needed it until I got on the road. The play was Sorrows and Rejoicings by Athol Fugard and is set in South Africa. It was good and nobody put on deodorant behind me but what I really needed was to see and hold my babies who are not babies any more. I suppose that sounds all sappy and stuff and I don't care. Deal with it! :-) :-)

Mon. February 13:

The good, the bad, and the ugly. In chronological order, more or less...

Tue. February 14:

Well, *that* was interesting! The land-line rang this morning and, as usual, I hesitated a bit to answer it. It is usually either a solicitor or the GG frantically asking me to interrupt whatever the heck I'm doing and look for some random piece of paper. But Radical Betty has been calling that phone lately and I don't like to miss her, so I answered it. "This is the Ann Arbor Police Department." I almost hung up. I thought it was one of those phony "police associations" that ask for money all the time. But something made me keep listening. It sounded like it was a computer recording and it went on to report that a 69-year-old African-American male with a red-plaid shirt (or bathrobe, maybe) had been missing since 4 AM from a house a couple of blocks west of here. A particular concern was that he was dependent upon medication. If I saw him, I should dial 911. Sigh. I was kind of impressed that the police now apparently have the technology to call every phone in a neighborhood when there is some kind of issue going on. But I hadn't seen him. I almost felt like driving around the neighborhood looking for him. But I was just about to go out the door and head down to HF to check up on *my* old man. I hope they found that guy. I'll bet he's somebody's grandpa.

Oh yeah, sheesh, almost forgot. It's Valentines Day? Really? I absolutely totally completely forgot about that! Not that I think it is the best holiday on earth anyway. I used to like to make little Valentine gifts for little girls. It kind of broke up the long winter a bit. But these days, I could almost care less. But THANK YOU for the candy and for being so supportive of me and not complaining about the lack of food in the refrigimatator or the pervasive dirt, grime, and clutter. And I will share that candy! :-)

Wed. February 15:

Bag Snagger desperately needed. Highway M14 eastbound, right side of road between mile markers 18 and 19, near sign for exit 20, Sheldon Rd. and Plymouth.

Thu. February 16:

The Sault Ste. Siberia Evening Snooze droven-ins are often highly entertaining, especially when they report on exciting events like public urination in the parking lots of the local watering holes during the wee hours of the morning, etc. Tonight, I think the A2 Snooze droven-ins have trumped those of that rugged outpost in The Great White North. In one item, a man visiting the county courthouse for a probation appointment has a bad day when girlfriend 1, who is sleeping in his car, is awakened by girlfriend 2, who he has asked to meet him there with a set of keys. A brouhaha ensues and girlfriend 1 ends up smashing the car window of girlfriend 2. Or is it the other way 'round? I've lost track. Apparently girlfriends 1 and 2 had no prior knowledge of each other. Go figure. But that was just a little warm-up. The *really* good story was about the guy who complained that someone has been leaving bread buns in his backyard and they are attracting skunks and he is afraid that one of the skunks will attack him! Kee-reist! Now *that* is a story that I can definitely relate to! About the only thing I cannot figure out is why they feel that it is necessary to use the term "bread buns". Do they really think that if they use the unadorned word "buns", readers will get confused about what kind of "buns" have been left in the guy's yard. Buns of steel? Hmmmm.

Fri. February 17:

The Ann Arbor Public School District, in its infinitely superior wisdom, decided several years ago that we needed a third "comprehensive" high school. We already have five (I *think*) high schools but three of them, including Commie High, where my kids went to high school, are smaller programs. The new school was scheduled to open for freshmen plus a few volunteer upper-classmen in the fall of 2007. This plan was devised after about umpteen million "community forums", which I will not give my explicit opinion about. Well, folks, a couple of weeks ago, our fearless leader, the superintendent, resigned to take a new job in Illinois or someplace. I thought rather idly that he was just bailing out before the always messy, emotional process of redistricting began. Boy was I wrong! Shortly thereafter, it came out that the new school is one year behind schedule and about a gazillion dollars over budget and they are looking to house the 2007 freshmen in some other facility such as an empty elementary school in Ypsilanti or Saline. Say what??? I am beginning to wonder just what on earth a school superintendent does for a living. Anybody know? Sharpen pencils maybe? Doodle? Play computer games? Maybe I could do his job. I think the first thing I would do is wave my great big wand and cover the entire site of the new school with forest just like it used to be. Bah humbug.

Sat. February 18:

Well rat's ass, I cannot readily find any pictures of Jane or Karen even though I know there are plenty of them buried somewhere on this dunder-headed beast. But happy birthday!!! Much belated wishes to Jane, who's birthday was the 13th. She is the youngest Fin G3 cousin and I can remember when she was a baby. Cute? Yeah! Always one of my favorites and last night when the GG and I stumbled wearily into Knight's Inn for a late dinner, Jane, who was there coincidentally, ran up and hugged me. Very much appreciated! And then there's Karen, my sister(-in-law), whose birthday is *today*! She has been there with us through Grandaddy's two surgeries and beyond. She spent her birthday with octogenarians -- two whole sets of them -- and a nonagenarian canine. A valiant trouper! Neither of these gals are anywhere near their 50th yet and I am here to assure them that it will be the best!

Today we headed down to the HF Hilton with every good intention of shaving Grandaddy. That is, the GG was prepared to do it. I cannot manage to shave my legs without a bloodbath. But Grandaddy was blissfully sleeping the whole time we were there and The Commander was pretty tired and we figured he probably needed the sleep more than he needed a shave. So, albeit a bit apprehensively, we high-tailed it back to A2, grabbed our skis, and shot up the I75 SUV Speedway to the Luxurious New Courtois Cabin at Houghton Lake where Gay is making dinner! We had to provide cumin, which they couldn't find at any of the smaller grocery stores to the north of the lake. We found it at The Hub. We're having a manhattan. Good night.

Or not. For Valdemort's sake, I have to add that between Bay City and someplace south of West Branch, all of the trees were absolutely loaded with ice from the storms the other night. Tornado watches, blizzard watches and ice storms all within the lower half of Michigan's lower peninsula. A meteorologist's dream.

Sun. February 19:

That ended up being a pretty darn good deal! We loaded up Bob's car this morning and took off to ski up at Beaver Creek. When we finished, we drove over to the ski ranch so he could drop off some skis he and Gay had rented yesterday for Chris and Kelly. As we were getting out of the car, I thought to myself, "I should really watch which skis they take out of the car just in case they return my skis by accident." After all, as I once heard their own father say, "The twins were born with half-brains." >:->> But I failed to watch and wouldn't you know it, when we got back to the cabin, the GG told me that they had returned *one* of my poles by accident and that my poles were now two different sizes. Hmmm. Not a particularly good situation. So, the GG and I went *back* to the ski ranch to try to retrieve my pole. The whole thing is pretty long and convoluted but it turned out that the twinz had, in fact, traded *both* my poles in, the poles I had now were *both* ski ranch rental poles (matching sizes after all) and, by the time we got back there, the ski ranch had rented *my* poles out. Ski ranch guy said I could keep the rental poles and that was really fine with me. The only difference between the two sets was that the rental poles had "130" written on them with magic marker. Who cares? But then, during the conversation, both the GG and the ski ranch guy noticed that 130s were actually a little short for me. So, they took those and gave me some taller rental poles. To keep! I would never have known I had the wrong size poles. I have been skiing just about forever. I am nothing more than a good amateur with a heck of a lot of stamina and I am *not* a gear-head. I guess I use my poles but I don't really pay much attention to them. But somehow, I think I might've come out ahead in that deal!

And, btw, it is freaking *cold* here! I dunno what it's like down there in St. Louie. I guess they're probably all out riding bikes in their underwear or whatever. Here, I have to wear a balaclava and about three or four layers, including snow pants, just to go outside!

Mon. February 20:

I guess I must just be a weird-oh or whatever but I have come to the conclusion that I would really rather wash dishes by hand than use a dishwasher. I always liked washing dishes when I was a little kid. We had this coffee percolator that was great fun to wash because there were tubes and a filter with all kinds of little holes you could squish suds in and out of. And whenever we visited my grandparents in Detroit, after dinner, my grandmother Bolette would let me help do the dishes. We'd go in the kitchen while The Commander gabbed with whatever relatives were around. Blah blah blah blah blah yeee hee hee hee. It was all grownup talk and I wasn't interested. Bolette used to talk to *me*. She would ask me all about school and she actually listened to what I had to say as if she was interested and cared about the answer. I loved her. Later on when I was older, I used to just naturally gravitate toward doing the dishes wherever I lived. I didn't care if we took turns or not. Partly I just don't like having dirty dishes around. But partly, it is the idea that washing dishes is one of the few jobs in life that you can actually finish in less than about five years or so.

So now, here in the Luxurious New Courtois Cabin at Houghton Lake, there is a dishwasher. I was kind of appalled back when somebody (forget who :-) first suggested something like, "won't it be nice when we have a brand new cabin with a dishwasher and a wide-screen TV." I remember I was standing by the stove in the moldy old cabin and I was probably putting dishes away. I can live without dishwashers and wide-screen TVs and a whole other bunch of other similar stuff (but not a computer ;-). But I am only one member of a big family and I knew that it was inevitable that the new cabin would have a dishwasher. And when there are a gazillion people here, I definitely use it. But when it just me and the GG (grok grok, what about me? grokGROK?). Okay, Froggy too. Anyway, when it is just us, I close up the dishwasher, get my dish drainer out of the closet, move the coffee maker and the knife block over a little bit and just do the dishes in the sink.

Tue. February 21:

Sometime last summer Elizabeth said to me, "Mom, I like little kids *much* more than you do!" She's probably right but, really, I don't dislike little kids. I am just not known on this earth for having a whole lot of patience, at least not in this incarnation or whatever, and you need scads of patience to deal with little kids. I've had two and I am done for now. Although I actually planned my kids and love them absolutely to distraction, I do not really think I am the best mother in the world. Actually, I sometimes wonder how the heck they grew up to be who they are with me for a mother. But tonight I was walking around the neighborhood a little more slowly than my usual powerwalk and I remembered Dark Walk. When Mouse was around 3-6, we used to do Dark Walk almost every night, sometimes even when it was bitterly cold out here in the Great White North. Mouse was a nuclear powered kid (uh, a bit like me) and there was often just a bit of a struggle getting her to settle down at night. I don't remember how Dark Walk got started. Probably one night I got home from work (I used to work until 7 or later) and just picked her up and walked outside with her. However it started, it got to be a habit. She was usually not crying before Dark Walk, just sort of loud and obnoxious in a scattered sort of way. Dark Walk was magic! I would pick her up and walk out the door and immediately, she would completely settle down. I'd walk down to one corner and back and then go the other way into the schoolyard. I am happy with how my kids have turned out as young adults. I know that it isn't anything that I did. I was mostly just muddling along. But there were some small things that sometimes worked. I think Dark Walk was one of them.

Wed. February 22:

Blah. I am so restless today. I have a mid-term tomorrow and I just do NOT feel like studying for it. I am at the absolute utter end when it comes to focus and concentration. I hope I pass. For reasons too long and complicated to explain, I did not make what has become my daily trip down to the Henry Ford Hoosegow even though the octos are still there and I've been on and off the phone with The Commander multiple times today. (Kids and others, all is fine with the octos.) This afternoon, I finally put my study guide down and went out to get my vee-hickle so I could drive down to the river. Lo and behold, it was over 40 degrees out. I was over-dressed and the sun was so bright, I felt like I almost needed to put on the air-conditioning and there was a guy putting in a kayak who was actually not dressed like one of those polar bear kayakers who go out and shoot the rapids all winter. I drove along the river and then I turned onto Joy Road and finally I traversed a few little dirt roads before heading back down across the river and home. I am still restless and blah and kind of immobilized and I still do not feel like studying. I hope I pass the test.

Thu. February 23:

A chapter has ended. Twenty-three days ago, my brain was trying desperately to process some new words and phrases: "slipped on ice", "broken hip", "air ambulance", "Henry Ford Hospital" (or Hilton or Hoosegow or whatever), "surgery", etc., etc., ad nauseam. "Broken hip" morphed into variations on the theme of "pelvis smashed to smithereens" or "how the heck did you do *that*", and "surgery" became "two surgeries". There were many other things to process, like "jaundice" and "surgery postponed" and "intensive care unit" and "the apartment", and well. That's about enough.

My octogenarian parents had a long haul down there at Henry Ford. I drove down there almost every day. I missed three days but partially made up for that by going twice on one day. It got hard toward the end. Sometimes I would get down into that underground parking lot and I would have to sit there and *will* myself to grab my backpack, get out of my vee-hickle, beep the lock, and galumph up the stairs to the entrance. What kept me going was that I knew that it was even harder for The Commander to be stuck on what I came to think of as a desert island in the pretty darn well bombed out city of Detroit. It is certainly not the same city that it was when she worked at the downtown Hudson's 60-some years ago. Not to mention Grandaddy being stuck in a bed for three weeks plus. A guy who normally walks as many miles as he can every day. Kee-reist, I had it easy driving 40 smooth miles back and forth to A2 and falling asleep in front of the Olympics every night.

There were hard times. There were scary moments. At the end of it all, The Commander and I were starting to recognize people around the hoosegow and they were starting to recognize us. It was getting old. One of the things that kept us all going was the great care we felt that Jack got. And us too! Almost every one of the docs we dealt with were fantastic and a couple of the young residents in the ICU actually told us that Jack was one of their favorite patients. Very sweet guys. Nurses and Nurse's Aides? I can't remember even one that I didn't like. Those women (and a few men too) obviously know their stuff and, even though they take care of the gazillion people that come in and out of that place constantly, they all seemed to take the time to find out who Jack was and what we were all about. June and Annie and a bunch of others exchanged hugs with the octos before they left this morning. I love them all.

So, the octos are back in Siberia. An ambulance took them back up there. It was a smooth ride and Jack did very well with it. The Commander is back in her house with her own kitchen and bathroom and laundry facilities. Jack is nearby at Tendercare, where they have already managed to get him into a standing position. He is well aware that he is back in the Sault and is very happy about that. I do not think he is ready to admit that he is residing in Tendercare for the time being. He is probably thinking about all the years he visited his aunt there. She died in 1998 at age 103.

Anyway, the next chapter in all of this has yet to be written...

Fri. February 24:

So, do y'all know what you can get for two dollars and fifty cents? Not much, right? Well, one thing it will buy is the release of your vee-hickle from the underground self-park at the Henry Ford Hoosegow. Know what else? If you cross the Mackinac Bridge, it pays the entrance fee into the Upper Peninsula! So, after days and days on end of paying $2.50 to get myself out of the hoosegow self-park, today that same amount of money got me into the UP! Yay! An Alberta Clipper is supposed to dump on us tonight. We'll see. I have my skis. And I just noticed that The Commander is wearing a different sweater. I wonder if she burned the other one ;-)

Sat. February 25:

Those of you who have out-of-town college kids, I do not know what kind of communication you have with *your* kids but after a couple of weeks of *nothing* from Mouse, this came into my in-box:

moom, you're right about shambling mounds. i have them under my desk and next to my bed. thankfully, no insects.

shambling mound - n. a collection of miscellaneous objects cohabiting an area in an extreme state of disarray. includes unwanted objects such as receipts, stray bits of yarn and string, trash, clumps of hair, and occasionally (but not always) the presence of insects of assorted types.

About all I've got to say to that is, "Hmmm, no rodents?"

Yes, I'm prob'ly in trouble for posting this entry but I am sick and tired of writing about horspittles and the like. And, really, when it comes to college kids, no news can sometimes be good news.

Sun. February 26:

The dad in the trailhead parking lot said, "Youse did real well!", to his young sons as he put their skis into the back of his pickup truck. Yup, I am in the UP. Say ya, eh?

Mon. February 27:

The beautiful, statuesque skier is my cousin Aimée and she is one of my uber cousins. Y'all have heard of first cousins and second cousins and third cousins five times removed and kissing cousins and whatever. What the heck is an uber cousin? In this case, it refers to the two female Fin cousins, Aimée and Pooh, who share my birth year and who more or less grew up with me. At least we spent a lot of summers together on the Fin beach. We had one heck of a lot of fun. I always envied them a bit since they grew up in what I thought at the time were more exotic places than where I grew up, which was Sault Ste. Siberia. Aimée lived all over the place, including Alaska. Pooh grew up in good old Ann Arbor, my own kids' home town. Anyway, those are my uber cousins. We don't look much alike, do we? :-)

I have a lot of cousins, both Fin and Mac. I love all of you. And I appreciate your support during Jack's sojourn at the Henry Ford Hoosegow. Really, you are all uber cousins!

Tue. February 28:

Good times in the UP at the end of February: