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Birch Pt. Beach Blahg Archives
April 2006

Sat. April 1:

Radio fundraiser type girl on NPR (chirpy little sing-song type voice): "I just became a mommy, so I had to buy a mommy car." So, of course, she has a minivan now and, this being the Planet Ann Arbor, it is a Honda Odyssey. First, I OWN a couple of Hondas and they are great but, like, so what? But what I really want to say is, "excuse me just a minute here. Mommy car? HAD to buy?"

Back in the Jurassic Age, when *I* first became a mommy, we were running two 5-year-old Ford Fiestas. Remember those? Little 2-door econoboxes. They eventually became known as "Mommy's little gold car, Daddy's little blue car, and the orange car." Orange car? A Fiesta down the street from us.

I have to admit, it got *awfully* tiresome getting a baby in and out of the back seat of a 2-door vee-hickle so, when Lizard was about 8 months old, we added a VW Jetta to the fleet. Four doors, manual transmission, NO air-conditioning! Luxury! But we still drove those little Fiestas another five years or so. We eventually gave one of them away and sold the other for $50. Who the heck would buy a $50 car, I wondered. A guy whose current vee-hickle lacked a seat, of course.

I never became a soccer mom but I did eventually join the ranks of moms with minivans. Schlepping two kids and huge shambling mounds of crap back and forth to the Great White North just became too much for our little Jetta, not to mention my sanity. The red Plymouth Voyager was the first car either one of us had ever owned that had air conditioning and an automatic transmission. It was a pretty darn good workhorse but I wouldn't call it fancy. If anything, the increased number of seats just provided more places for people to pee. grok grok. You are in trouble now, you ugly old bag. frok grook

We traded in the old red van for my beautiful blue POC. It was the prettiest vee-hickle I ever saw and I fell in love with it at first sight. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as enthusiastic about me. grok Yeah, it liked ME the best. grok grok After a rocky relationship that lasted almost ten years, we parted ways last fall. I cried. grok grok. You should've given it to me! grok grok The kids are grown up now and I am done with minivans. I have downsized to little 4-door sedans. Hondas. Accord. Civic. Not exactly sustainable living but a baby step in that direction. Maybe we'll get a new Wrangler one of these years. Those are fun vee-hickles. But I'll never fall in love again.

What I really want to know is just what page of the Mommy Manual states, "Buy a minivan." Is it anywhere near "Head off to the nearest housing development and buy a McMansion." Or "Buy soccer gear and start training your baby NOW so she'll be the best player on the 3-year-old team." Or, well, y'all get the idea. People, there are reasons for buying minivans and some of them include babies but having a baby is not THE reason to buy a minivan. Throw the blasted Mommy Manual away and start thinking for yourself. This is about YOU and YOUR BABY. What do YOU need?

Sun. April 2:

<moominbrag>Lizard Breath: "Moom, thank you for paying for me to go to this college. There are so many kids whose parents can't or won't help them." That was the general gist. I don't remember the exact words.

I do not make a habit of bragging about my daughters. My parents didn't brag about me, even on the rare occasions that I managed to put my head on straight and do something worth bragging about. They believed it was in bad taste and I agree. But as bad a year as it has been for the Fin family, some people have been pretty successful. I was reminded of that today when we made a quick little vee-hickle swapping trip to kzoo and had lunch with our kids.

So I am going to brag about them a bit. Not that they have made any major accomplishments in recent days. I'm talking about how they conduct their lives in general. There are so many kids who go off to college and wash out in one way or another. Party until they flunk all their classes and drop out. Or whatever. Not my kids. They are responsible people who study hard to achieve academic success. They participate in life, trying new things and taking leadership roles where they have expertise. They are independent thinkers who form their own opinions, largely uncolored by anything we may have tried to beat into their brains. They maintain a positive attitude even on the days when life decides to throw one of those inevitable pieces of crap at them. And they care about their family and friends more than they care about fame and fortune.

Yes, little lizard, it is an expensive college. Even though we aren't paying anywhere near the full tuition price, we are far from wealthy and it is hard to write those checks. Somehow we are managing and I am glad we can. My heart goes out to those parents who are struggling a bit more than we are and I say BAH HUMBUG to those who can pay but won't. It is a good college and you girls have proven that you are worth every last bloomin' penny. You go, girls. I love you.</moominbrag>

Mon. April 3:

Life. And death. We are down another pack member. Those who also read Karen's blahg will know that she made the very difficult decision to put down her 13-year-old dog, Sam. It took place this morning. He was having a lot of problems and it was time.

Back in the old days, I spent some time every summer taking care of the Grand Blanc Fin cousins at the cabin and Sam was always a part of that package. He knew me as "Anne-mom" and although he regarded me as a rather poor substitute for his *real* mom and dad, he did include me in his pack. He was a highly intelligent, extraordinary dog who kept very close tabs on his pack count. I was proud to be a pack member and I will miss Sam.

Okay. Sam is gone and I am about done. Throughout the whole last year or so of shit, people kept saying, "you know, troubles come in threes." Threes? It feels more like about 15 now between various deaths and job loss and other rather smaller things. Karen and I were talking about that and how three of our Finlayson pack members are now walking the beach: Jim, Jack, and Sam. That's a BIG three. I DECLARE that this is the end and GOOD things are going to start happening now! I am going to FORCE myself to stop moping around and do something constructive. Maybe even artistic. It's time. OKAY? OKAY! As my brother is probably saying right this minute, "KEE-REIST!"

Oh yeah, and I am NOT going to sew my finger!!!

Tue. April 4:

"Moom, I already know that. It was on Val's away message." Apparently, Valdemort's instant messenger away message is a kind of a blahg in its own right and that's where my kids having been going to get the latest Fin Family news. A little bit of competition, maybe?

Wed. April 5:

Brrrrrinnnng. I picked up my phone as I came to a stop at the Packard/Stadium intersection. "Hey, we need your superbrain. Who was the author of Peter Pan?" asked the caller. grok grok. Superbrain? The Old Witch does NOT have a superbrain. Grok. Shut up, Grooggy.

"J. M. Barrie," said I. "By the way, who the hell is this and what the hell are you doing?" grok grok. My name is NOT "Grooggy." grokGROOK.

"This is the federal government and we needed help with a crossword puzzle," the national expert replied. grokgrokgrokGROK! National expert in what? grok grok. Gorky, we're still trying to figure that out. grokGROK! I am NOT "Gorky". grok grok

Folks, your tax dollars are hard at work at the EPA today ;-)

(Uh, a little disclaimer lest someone decides they want my head.)

Thu. April 6:

<snot>Somehow or other, I managed to survive hanging around horspittles and the like all winter without picking up any diseases. I have not had a cold since the fall of 2003. The only disease I have had since then was an absolutely deadly gastrointestinal virus that knocked me flat for a few days before the New Year. This week, I have a cold. It's just a silly little cold. I feel great and I am gallivanting around just about like usual, walking six miles a day and infecting everyone I come in contact with. And that's okay, I doubt that the uscans at the Stadium Post Office or Westgate Kroger are vulnerable to my little virus ;-) But I am blowing my nose a lot and I need something to blow it on. As usual, I do not have any Kleenex. I don't usually buy Kleenex because I don't usually need it. I am not above using toilet paper in a pinch but, even in a disaster zone like my kitchen, a roll of TP would be a little tacky. As everyone should know, a puffalump mouse makes a nice handkerchief and there is a very nice mousey of that sort peeking out of a YAG bag over there by the door. But I suppose I would get in trouble if I used her. Hmmm, what can I use to blow my nose... grok grok grok. Oh, no you don't. grok grok. Do NOT even THINK about sliming ME! grok frook. I am already green. grok grok. Get off yer you-know-what and go buy some blasted Kleenex! grokgrokgrokGROK!!!!</snot>

Fri. April 7:

Brrrrrinnnng. I was walking along Long Point Drive on the north shore of Houghton Lake and the number of the caller was a 989 number but it was not the number of the land line at the Luxurious New Courtois Cabin. Hmmmm. "Hello?" I said, a bit tentatively. Like, who *are* you and how did you get my number?

"It's Liz! I'm calling from a pay phone at Whiteheads! Where are you?" replied the caller. Uh, this was Liz my sister-in-law, not Liz my daughter or Liz my first cousin once removed or Liz my long-dead great aunt or Radical Betty who wouldn't identify herself as Liz anyway.

Are there really pay phones out there any more? I guess so, since Liz called me from one. I think the last time I used a pay phone was about five years ago. We were in a complicated situation in St. Ignace that I won't even begin to try to describe and I needed to make a long distance call. I had a cell phone with me but it was one of those old ones and I had never really figured out how to use it except to call local A2 numbers and anyway, it was out of battery. So, we found a pay phone. I had one heckuva time figuring out how to use it. It kept asking me for my calling card number. I could remember the number (I am *good* at remembering numbers) but I couldn't figure out how or when to punch it in or whatever. Finally, I figured it out and managed to get through, right about the time the situation resolved itself all on its own without any telephones.

Eventually I got a new phone and I learned how to use it to make long distance calls and even receive calls. And then it got old and died, and right after it died, I happened to be driving the POC over to the community college and, hello, the brake light came on. No phone. Hmmm... If the car dies, I can't call the GG and I can't let anyone at WCC know why I'm late to class. The car seemed okay so I nervously continued on my way and arrived at WCC without incident. And then I started looking around for a pay phone so I could call the GG and rant at him about the brake light. No pay phone. Anywhere. On a commuter college campus.

After that, I really thought that pay phones were a thing of the past. But if anyone could find one it would be Liz, who has got to be one of the last people on the face of the planet to not have a cell phone. And, although I feel like I couldn't do without one now, I do have some admiration for anyone who resists having new technology forced upon them. Liz, you go girl!

Sat. April 8:

Okay, ol' man, wherever you are, just go ahead and gnoff. I don't care and you deserve a good gnoff after all the horrible crap you went through.

I really, really, really needed to go for a hike in the north woods this weekend. So, we are here at Houghton Lake and today, the Twinz of Terror and Liz (sister-in-law, not any of those others) and Randy and I went up to the Mason Tract to hike along the South Branch of the Au Sable River. It was a gorgeous day for hiking, cold but not a cloud in the sky. No bugs except for one early member of a non-threatening species of lepidoptera. The river was high and fast and sparkling.

We parked our vee-hickles at the trail head, marker 13, at Chase Bridge. The original plan was to walk in to trail marker 9 and then turn around and walk back out. That would be 8.6 miles. But when we got as far as marker 10, Liz realized she had lost her glasses (bad thing, and they were not found!), so she and Randy turned around then to try and find them. The rest of us decided that the GG would also turn around and help look for the glasses and then continue on back to the trail head and get the car. Bob and I would continue on hiking up to marker 3, where the GG would pick us up.

When we got to marker 9, instead of going left, away from the river, which is where the trail went, we went right. Until the trail petered out. Instead of being smart and walking back to marker 9 and figuring out where the correct trail was, we decided to cut across country and connect back up to it. Smart idea, right? Swamp? No way, not here in the north woods. Oh, c'mon, Yooper Woman, you know better than that. Wrong. Bob kept saying cheerful things like, "this looks like a trail" (uh, not) and "this is where you find people like Jimmy Hoffa." Were we wet? I know *I* was, with my velcro sandals and polartech socks! Scratched up and bloody, too. Eventually, we managed to locate the trail again and, when we looked at the map on the next trail marker, we realized that we had probably slogged and floundered along through the quagmire for a mile or maybe more, given that our path was not exactly straight.

Jack was a great hiker who knew his way around the woods and how to *not* get lost, so I'm sure that our little adventure gave him a good gnoff. When we all finally got connected back up again at the trail head, we headed off to Jack's Place. Yes, there really is a barroom with that name in Roscommon County. I wish we had remembered to get a picture. We had a little snort in Jack's honor and then we sang a rousing, almost tuneful round of the theme song from Gilligan's Island. No, the singing didn't have anything to do with Jack. I really don't quite know how that got started or why we were doing it. But it was fun and even though I wasn't drunk, I sang with gusto anyway. I actually knew most of the words.

Sun. April 9:

A mission accomplished and another adventure at the Mason Tract.

Also: Progress at the New Luxurious Courtois Cabin continues and now the garage is drywalled and has some fancy new windows and doors. It is beautiful! However, being as accustomed as I am to crappy, moldy, dusty old dwellings, I can't help but get a little nostalgic for the old days.

The last time my brother the engineer visited the Courtois Cabin (it was the moldy old one), he pronounced the garage to be an engineer's dream. Over the years, it housed boats and snowmobiles and lawnmowers and engines and more engines and gas tanks and tools and all kinds of little valuable pieces of flotsam and jetsam and cosmic debris. Grandpa Garth was in his element keeping old motors going and managing all of that stuff, inventing new tools when the need arose. He told me one time that at any given moment, he couldn't find 10% of his stuff, an everchanging 10%.

Once, we spent a whole weekend tinkering with one of the lawnmowers. We? Some of y'all are thinking, "hey, Evil Blahg Lady, you do not know the first thing about motors!" Well, maybe not, but I had a very important role in that particular project. The weather pattern that weekend was a persistent intermittent drizzle. It would drizzle for a while and then it would stop for a while and then it would drizzle for a while again. And stop. Repeat ad nauseam. My job was to help The Gumper lift the lawnmower up onto the picnic table every time it stopped raining and then help him lift it down when it started again. After about ten rounds of that I got pretty bored and I finally said that a "$100-an-hour guy" like him could just go out and buy a *new* lawnmower and then he'd have time to do something more fun. He thought about that for a minute and finally he said, with a little twinkle in his eye, "I could go fishing." He enjoyed fishing a lot but I'm not sure it ranked above tinkering with old motors.

Another time, I pulled the POC into the yard at Houghton Lake and The Gumper was waiting for me by the garage. "This is yours!" he said, proudly pointing to a used refrigerator in the garage. Say what? For a fraction of a second I was on the verge of feeling a little insulted. Relegated to using an old refrigerator in the garage? Indeed! But almost immediately, I realized that this was a *good* thing. Visitors to the cabin, including us, had a habit of leaving food behind when they returned home and random leftovers were always hard for Grandpa to deal with. I sort of understood why then and I definitely understand why now that my own beloved children come home and sometimes leave me with food. An additional refrigerator provided more space, helped keep the food separate and, for some odd reason, I kind of enjoyed walking out to the garage to use the refrigerator. I dunno, maybe it reminded me of the *really* old days of outhouses on the shores of Gitchee Gumee.

Ranking up there among the best times I have ever spent at Houghton Lake is the night the GG and I watched the spider. I think Grandpa was dead by then. It was a warm kind of drizzly night and there was a spider spinning a web in the door of the garage. We stood there by the open garage door, with all of the cosmic debris behind us, for hours, listening to Prairie Home Companion and other Saturday night radio, sipping a little bourbon now and then and watching that spider. Yeah, I know, sometimes it doesn't take much, does it?

Anyway, this is what the garage looks like now. It is beautiful and "my" refrigerator is still there :-)

Mon. April 10:

So, I am back on The Planet Ann Arbor again. Sigh. Don't get me wrong, I love The Planet Ann Arbor. It's a place where, for the most part, you can be just about whoever you want to be and it's a great place to raise kids. Others may differ on that last but they can just go jump in the canal. But, I dunno, I am just restless. A chapter of my life has ended somehow and I am at a loss about how to start the next one. That leaves me with too much time to think. About life. And death. Infinity. The procession of generations. What the *heck* to cook for dinner. Real estate developers. Volcanoes. Not necessarily in that order...

Tue. April 11:

<keereistgimmeabreakalready>I was walking across the N. Maple/Miller intersection and, of all things, I heard a loud electronic wolf whistle. There were no other pedestrians around and my first thought was that it had something to do with the GG being ridiculous. Except that, as weird as he can be, he is too wrapped up in data and spreadsheets and computers and laboratory instruments to be bothered to obtain an electronic wolf whistle and use it to go out and harass women. I think. Anyway, I ignored it, thinking somebody had just activated it by accident. But then, after I got across the street, I heard it again. I did not even *want* to look at whatever ugly, perverted old man was eye-balling the likes of me. Or maybe some little boys were just getting their jollies by toying with an old bag. Whatever. I do not know who it was. I just kept on walking. Guys, I do not know what is going on lately but can we talk? I am 52 years old. I have had two children. I am not cute. I am looking for a life, not a boyfriend. grok grok grok. Yeah, and she doesn't cook or clean and last week she tried to use me as a Kleenex. grok grok. Froggy! Into your laundry basket! Now!</keereistgimmeabreakalready>

Wed. April 12:

A visit with my Aunt Roberta today was yet another reminder that family and good friends are pretty much the only things in life that matter and that the procession of generations is what keeps things going. I don't allow myself to think deeply about that stuff too often because the gamut of emotions that reverberate throughout my body and mind is almost too much. Most of it I can't put into words. What words I do have are between me and the Big Dipper. Sorry. grok grok. "think deeply?" You? grok grok Thank you Frooooooogy. You and The Marquis are always good for keeping me somewhere near the ground.

Thu. April 13:

Group projects. They are the bane of my college experience. I was thinking that thirty years or so ago students didn't do a whole lot of group work. Then I realized that was not exactly true, at least not for me. But the groups I was in were different. There was always a maniacal dictator who stood up in front maintaining order by waving a sharp-pointed object around. He (sorry, but it was always a he) reigned supreme over the group, often thundering with anguished rage when someone did not pull their weight. "You kids are killing me!", an Interlochen director once screamed when somebody missed an entrance. It was probably the trombone section because they sat way up in the back and typically got away with all kinds of shenanigans behind the dictator's back. I, however, always had the wonderful luck to sit right smack underneath the guy with the baton. Mind my Ps and Qs? You betcha! I was petrified of playing a wrong note or counting wrong or being sharp in the high register. And flutes are *always* sharp in the high register. Sigh. I dunno, I suppose it was just a different set of group issues.

Fri. April 14:

When will it end? We are down yet another Birch Point Beach pack member. Yesterday, Jan and Pete made the very difficult decision to put down their beloved golden retriever Mo, who had been very ill the last month. He will be greatly missed but I'm sure Sam and Jim have already welcomed him on the Rainbow Bridge. Now, please, please, please can we stop with all of this so I can write about something a little happier already?

And, in that light, there are black-capped chickadees living in a bird house attached to the side of the Carbeck Landfill. According to the birder of the house, that is very unusual. But this place has always been Bird Central. No cats allowed. And here are a few of our bird adventures over the years:
There are birdhouses tacked up all over the outside of the landfill here. Some of them are simple ones that the GG constructed with brownie girl scout troops. Others are fancier ones that we collected during a time when we were a little more into acquiring things than we are now that the landfill is, well, full. There is a riot of loud chirping going on all around the house as I write this and that indicates that we have no vacancies here! And right in the front birdhouse, above my garbage can, are black-capped chickadees!

Sat. April 15:

The only important rules in life:
  1. Do not go swimming without getting an adult to watch you.
  2. Do NOT throw sand!!!

Sun. April 16:

A beautiful day of serendipity in which:

Mon. April 17:

Overheard at Penny's Kitchen: "Let's move the time of water-ex to after the day care kids swim so there'll be more pee in the water and it'll be warmer."

Tue. April 18:

I do not know where to start. Even without skunk cabbage or grinches or sightings or wine shops or ice floes or taiko drummers or fires real and imagined, that was a pretty wild trip. I don't actually have a nickname for my youngest G3 Fin cousin Jane. She's just Jane. Don't get me wrong, this Jane is *not* Plain Jane in any way-shape-form, but, somehow, Jane just seems to be enough name for Jane. Anyway, she needed to get off The Planet Ann Arbor and I can't exactly talk about my state of mind, restless is the best I can do. So. Road trip! Where? North, of course, to check up on the beach and the octogenarians et al.

On the surface, Jane and I do not seem to have a lot in common. She is young and single and employed and well-traveled. I am old and loooonng-married and unemployed and my travel consists mainly of bombing up and down the I75 SUV Speedway. Over the years, Jane and I have spent a lot of time together, sitting on the beach watching boats and birds and people through binoculars and indulging in an occasional adult beverage. Coffee or beer, use your imagination. But we have never taken a trip together. Fun? Yeah! We have some similar interests including hiking and kayaking and driving and an occasional adult beverage (or two), among others. We both like to read, although my stack of unread New Yorkers is *much* higher than Jane's. Oh the other hand, I have probably read more kids' books than she has, at least I've probably read more of them aloud. I dunno if that strikes a balance or not and, anyway, who cares. We seem to like about the same level of excitement. Not too much sitting around but when it is time to sit, it's time to sit.

I have to report that there are some definite signs that things are different in the Great White North. Where there was once a schedule, you know, 10:30 pick up the mail, 2:00 get the paper, 5:00 cocktail, etc., etc., a social calendar of sorts is emerging, not that the things on the schedule are not being done too. But things are going pretty well up there. Silver linings exist and life is moving on. A matriarchical society is emerging and, if I were the boogeyman, I would not want to mess with some of those octo-women. Thinking of them gives me strength on the days that I just do not want to get out of bed. And there are more of those lately than I want to admit but please don't worry about me. I *do* get out of bed. Every day. Early. And I walk. Every day. Early. And I am definitely okay. Or will be. And, you know, The Houghton Lake Resorter is crazy and Car Kit can just be damned and can I be a taiko drummer too?

Wed. April 19:

Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun
Please shine down on me.
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun
Hiding behind a tree.
These little children are asking you
To please come out so they can play with you
Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun
Please shine down on me.

Oooops. I am not supposed to sing that song. I'm sure I'm in trouble now. I promise I won't do it again. But, you know, it is April and this is Michigan and Mr. Golden Sun has definitely NOT been hiding behind a tree. For more days than I can count, he has been out there shining all over the state, even in the Great White North. This is not how it usually is. I remember one April when we went to the Octohouse and spent Easter afternoon driving up to Whitefish Point and back. It snowed the entire time. And last year, it snowed on Mouse's birthday, which is coming up again next week. We even had a fire in the fireplace that night. You know, I like the sun. But this is almost getting to be a little too much. It was beautiful hiking around the Eastern UP in the bright sunshine. There were no leaves out and you could see all over the place. But after a few days, it almost started feeling a little arid. And I am just not really used to that, I guess. It isn't 104 degrees here but other than that it kind of reminds me of the summer of 1988 when Mr. Golden Sun shone relentlessly every day and we had no air conditioning anywhere and the baby Mouse screamed bloody murder every time I put her into her car seat. I felt like screaming too. I am going to do a little rain dance, I think. I have not seen a cloud since sometime last week. We need some humidity here. Moss and mold and mushrooms and a few mosquitos. Rain and snow and black clouds and thunder. C'mon, give us a little gloom and doom here. This is Michigan. What the heck is the deal?

Thu. April 20:

One more week of this crazy class. Business on the Internet. I like the teacher and my classmates a lot. I won't say exactly what I think about the class. My own personal little blahgger's statute of limitations on what to post about school won't run out for quite a while. Uh, actually, I guess I already said it was "crazy." Take that however you want. That's all you're gonna get for now. Just count your blessings that I didn't blahg about some of the other stuff that was on my mind today. None of it would gel into a coherent entry and that is definitely to your benefit. You did not want to know and, anyway, other people are much more interesting than me. If you want cutosity, Sam has duckies on her blahg and, in news of the weird, Alfred has risen to new heights over on the dawg blawg (April 17 entry). Or perhaps he has fallen to new depths. It can be difficult to tell with Alfred.

Fri. April 21:

"What kind of aminal is that?" I asked the 2-year-old in the woods. She was intently watching a squirrel as her young parents looked on. I guess I look like one of those scary people who shouldn't talk to little kids, even when they're with their parents, because her dad replied, "It's a squirrel." grok grok. Scary person? grok grok. She's the Ugly Old Witch of Ritsema Woods. grok grok. Don't let 'er try to fool you. grok grok. She *roasts* children! grok grok FROGGY!!! I declare! I don't let my tadpoles get anywhere near her! grok grok Froggy, you do NOT have any tadpoles! ...... *Do* you??????

Anyway, I know what a squirrel is and I hate when people answer questions for other people, even though I have been known to do it myself. I know there are those who think I am not particularly crazy about little kids but I do sometimes enjoy them. Especially when they seem excited about something and are NOT throwing a full-tilt boogie tantrum in the aisle of the Pioneer High Auditorium or yelling things like, "you're strangling me!" loudly enough for everybody in the Westgate Kroger to hear.

But that's okay. It wasn't really a big deal whether I talked to the kid or not. I was just wandering around in the woods, mindlessly for the most part. But it got me remembering that in our little batch of G4 Fin cousins, quite a wide variety of pronunciations for the word squirrel emerged as the girls each reached the 2-year-old stage. Lizard Breath came pretty close to mimicking adult speech with "shirrel". Valdemort's "sirker" was probably about the most creative and it is my all time favorite word for squirrel. Mouse, of course, enunciated "squirrel" with perfect precision. And Pengo would just let out a bloodcurdling scream upon encountering a squirrel. I can't remember what the reason for that was but it was definitely not fear! I don't know what that kid in the woods called the aminal she was watching but if y'all ever hear me say "there's a sirker", you'll know what I'm talking about.

Sat. April 22:

Go Grand Blanc! I am a sports fan today. Track and field. Pengo Janetto was running in a meet in Ypsi and Karen was a carpool driver and I have never been to a track meet before and the GG and Bud turned off the lucky-shucky at the landfill, so Mouse (who was home for the day) and I took off to the track meet. We are totally sunburnt and dried out but it was a blast! I've never been all that crazy about watching sports like football but running I can understand. That is about all there is. Go Grand Blanc!

Sun. April 23:

Hmmm, critical thinking or creative writing?

Mon. April 24:

Mouse: "Happy You Gave Birth to Me 19 Years Ago Today Day." I had been a little slow to call and sing the birthday song, so she called me and we both sang at once.

Yup, it was 19 years ago today. Mouse was a couple weeks or so early. Knowing her as well as I do now, I figure she had just about had enough. "Get me out of here!" And that was fine with me. Given that everybody is healthy, the earlier the better. And I sure was ready.

And so began the Mouse that roared. A small aminal with an imagination the size of the universe. A very early talker and deep thinker. She has always had a habit of coming out into the kitchen when I least expect it to tell me something she's been thinking about that just about knocks me off my feet. She was always dirty! If it wasn't food or mud or sand, it was paint or markers or glitter glue or whatever. If she was wearing three skirts, she was pretending to be a water spider, not Britney Spears or whoever. Nuclear powered. Just try to keep up with her skiing or kayaking or walking or whatever. I can't. And I learned early on that if I really wanted her to do something, it was more effective to recruit Chrissy the Police Mouse or some other aminal to handle it for me. That is, any aminal except Froggy, who inevitably makes things worse. grok grok Whaddya mean? grokGROK!!!

I don't know. The small aminal Mouse is a highly spirited little rodent and there were times when life could be a wild ride around here. But I can't think what life would be like without her. I love you, Mouse. Where did the time go? How'd I get so old? Who hit fast forward?

Tue. April 25:

Yaknow? Those popsicle boxes are boxboard and they go in the *recycling*, not the trash. There *are* some freezer packages that do not get recycled but those popsicle boxes are fine. And random plastic packaging for I do not know what, windshield wipers maybe? Naw, couldn't be windshield wipers, we don't ever buy new windshield wipers around here. Anyway, whatever they are, they do *not* go in either of the recycling bins. They go in the trash. Okay? Okay. Sigh.

Sincerely yours, Garbage Woman.

Wed. April 26:

There are just a few too many birthdays in April for me to keep up with and today the Twinz of Terror catch up to me at age 52. I dunno what Bob is doing for his birthday but the GG is going to eat at an Irish pub and then watch Japanese drummers so I guess he is having a multi-cultural birthday. Other April birthdays include:
I hope that covers it. grok grok. What about MY birthday? You missed that. grok grok Excuse me a minute. (Froggy, those are just the *April* birthdays. Your birthday is not *in* April. It is October 23rd. Get back in your basket. Take Smokie with you.) Sorry about that. Anyway, it is hard to keep up with all of this all the time. This blahg is really not a birthday blahg, it is a rambling old bag's blahg. grok grok. An UGLY old bag! grokGROK! (Frooggy, get going!) But I think that everyone should celebrate their birthday by doing just about whatever they want to do, short of committing murder or other mayhem, and I like to recognize birthdays if I remember them. One of these days maybe I will get myself off my butt and create a birthday data base and write a little program that will compare the records in the database to the current date. If there is a birthday, it will make a nice little birthday message with some of that  flashing html  all the cool web designers are so hot on ;-)

Thu. April 27:

Final exam. And presentation. Group presentation, that is. I have no idea what grade I'm gonna get in this class. There were a couple of assignments I didn't quite finish due to hanging around at one hoosegow or another and I missed one whole class. That was the first class I have missed since I started this little college adventure, but it was March 23rd so I had a pretty darn good excuse. Anyway, since studying for today's final exam was making me try to crawl out of my skin, I had to find an alternate activity. And all of you PC users are in luck today because that alternate activity ended up being putting my wonderful little videos out on Click here for the fire eaters and here for the Burns Harbor. Cheers!

Fri. April 28:

I do not know exactly what is going on but I am not afraid to speak in front of a group any more. I used to be petrified. I am just about terminally shy. I mean I am shy enough that it is hard for me to even call friends up to ask them if they want to meet for coffee. Yes, it is that bad. From about junior high through college, I couldn't even ask or answer questions from my seat, which was always as close to the back of the room as I could get. Giving a presentation to a room full of people was a fate worse than death.

It took me two whole years to work up my courage to sign up for the web development program at the local community college. I can still remember how scared I was to hit the submit button after I filled out the on-line admissions application. Pooh emailed me and said, "sit in the front row." Say what? Sit in the front row? Pooh is my ultra-smart cousin and I doubt she has ever been afraid to speak up in class or anywhere else. But me? In the front row? Right where the teacher can see me? Not on your life!

I was terrified that first day of school and I was five minutes late and I didn't exactly know where the classroom was and I was pretty darn disheveled by the time I got there. grok grok. You are ALWAYS disheveled. grok grok. I was thinking, "Kee-reist, what the heck am I doing?" There was one seat left in the front row and Pooh was haunting me so I took a deep breath and *willed* myself to sit in that seat!

School is all about participation nowadays and the teacher made it clear that people who did not speak up on their own would be asked random questions. You can't just slide by with getting As on tests and papers any more. This was not going to be fun and it wasn't easy that first semester. The teacher would ask questions and before I could even begin to get my thoughts organized, other people would just sing out all kinds of intelligent opinions. How the heck did they come up with that stuff so fast? I did not think I would ever be able to keep up.

Slowly and gradually, I began to force myself to speak up. The first time I had to do a presentation, I got full credit *only* because I covered everything in the assignment and *miraculously* did it within the specified time limit. If points had been awarded for elegance, I'd have earned about a negative 400.

I do not know exactly when the tipping point occurred but during the one class I took this semester, there were times when I just about had to clamp my hand over my mouth to shut myself up and give some of the quieter people in class a chance to talk. grok grok. Yeah, you need to shut up sometimes, you ugly old bag. grok grok. Presentations? Lemme at 'em! I can even be funny! I don't know what happened. I guess I just do not care what people think about me any more. grokGROK!

Now, if I could just manage to extend this newfound self-confidence or whatever it is into making somebody want to pay me for something... :-/ grok grok. Yeah, then you can buy me more flies and things. grok.

Sat. April 29:

Well, all the cool blahggers are talking about food and people keep asking me for recipes, so, even though I could pretty much care less about cooking and food at the moment, click here for turkey tetrahedron and click here for barbecue sauce. Ingredient quantities are sorta approximate. Deal. grok grok. click here for me. grok grok.

Sun. April 30:

A few things, in no particular order:
©2003-2006 Anne Finlayson, aka Anne Courtois