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Birch Pt. Beach Blahg Archives
May 2006

See main blahg index page for entries after this one

Mon. May 1:

"Well, Beaver Creek is not very far away. Let's go sooner than later," she says as she sits like a big ugly slug in front of her computer. grok grok

Tue. May 2:

Anyone who remembers the infamous 2-Year-Old Summer at the Finlayson Family Old Cabin will probably laugh a little hysterically when I say that it can be a challenge to share a family cabin with, well, a family. An extended one, that is. I do not really remember the 2-Year-Old Summer. I am told that the shores of Gitchee Gumee were persistently dark, chilly, and rainy that summer. I have a few vague little bits of memories, one of which is of me and two other little girls (you know who you are) standing in ankle-deep water wearing little blue Keds tennis shoes. No adult in sight. A flagrant violation of The Rules. Maybe I'll get The Commander and Radical Betty and Bubs to guest-blahg about the 2-Year-Old Summer some time. I bet they remember it clearly, in big, bright, primary colors. Either that or they've blocked it!

We have been alone here at the Courtois Cabin at Houghton Lake for a couple of days. I love it here and it is nice to have the place to ourselves. But the weekend was filled with in-laws and I miss them. It is not always easy to share a living space with extended family members, adult siblings and whatnot, even for a few days. We all run our own lives and have our own opinions and do things our own way. People need varying degrees of space and, even in a place as big as this, it isn't always easy to get away from all the lively discussion and exuberant activity that is typical of the Courtois family in general. And I know how hard it can be to live with me! But it is worth it to try to make things work out and it is pretty fun with a bunch of people here. As my own family experiences a period of dwindling numbers, spending the weekend with a big bunch of Courtoises reminds me that I am not as alone as I sometimes feel these days. You guys are the best and I'm happy to be a part of this family.

We are heading back to the Planet Ann Arbor in a little while and I am happy to report that the garbage truck came by this morning and the new garbage contraption worked out very well indeed. Tangentially yours, Garbage Woman.

Wed. May 3:

Location: The Planet Ann Arbor. Weather: actually pretty nice. Bank: three trips, number two was because I forgot my debit card on number one :-/ Post office: two trips. Westgate Kroger uscan: one trip, yes, only one. Laundry: two loads. Mood: actually pretty okay. What next: gardening, I guess. Or whatever you call gardening when it's me that's doing it. I am a terrible gardener who kills plants by merely looking at them. grok grok. Just call her Black Thumb Banana. grok grok. I always try to blame this on the fact that I grew up spending my summers in the woods, where there are plenty of plants around that grow all on their own without any human intervention. But the truth is that lots of people have beautiful gardens on the shores of Gitchee Gumee. I was just more interested in other pursuits, such as running around with my cousins and other beach urchins, acting like a wild Indian. Yeah, I know that's not politically correct but when I was a kid I was fascinated with Native American culture and I wanted to *be* an Indian! Preferably as wild an Indian as possible! So :-P

Anyway, it has always been a challenge for me to deal with my yard here on the Planet Ann Arbor. I don't know the first thing about gardening and this is typically what happens: I do not have YAG this year. It is early May and I have been traveling rather frenetically in and out of town since January. I do not know what to do with my life next or where to start. The yard is not totally overgrown yet. It seems possible to actually make some headway. So today, I put on my nice new sloggin' around shoes and headed out back to tackle this year's crop of weeds. I pulled up dandelions and things. I picked up leaves and sticks. I almost stepped on a cute toadie. grokgrokgrokgrok!!! A toadie?!? Can me and Smokie have the toadie? grokgrokgrok frgok! ooh ooh ooh ah ah! There's a lot more to be done. And then there is the basement. And the shed. And all my fiber art crap. And. And. And. I was alone today and I didn't have anything but random chores and errands on my schedule so I *forced* myself do something constructive and actually made some minor progress and I think I feel kind of okay. Like even though I can't quite figure out where I'm going next in life, life *is* gonna go on and it's gonna take me with it and someday there will again be days when I am so happy and crazy that nobody can stand me. And maybe there'll even be days when I will make a difference in the world. At least maybe I'll get the yard cleaned up. Put on yer purple sloggin' shoes, Black Thumb Banana, and slog on. grokgrokgrokGROK!!

Thu. May 4:

Hose nozzles. Candle holders. A debit card. Keys. Those are some of the things that are missing around here. This is starting to feel like an octo house. I know I put the hose nozzles away last fall. I remember putting them in some logical, obvious place down in the landfill dungeon. I cannot find them. Anywhere. The landfill dungeon is a dank, dark, spidery place. It is really not fun to look around down there for stuff. I think that octogenarians are sneaking into my house and gleefully squirreling my stuff away into odd little nooks and crannies. Either that or a certain ol' man out there on the other side somewhere is trying to mess with my mind. Where are my nozzles? I need my nozzles.

Fri. May 5:

Sheesh. My hose nozzles were found and there is even one that works without leaking water all over hell and gone. But how could I forget urushiol oil? Still another impediment to successful gardening endeavors. How on earth could I have forgotten? Can somebody who is capable of identifying poison ivy please click on this link and tell me if this is it?

In the springs of 2004 and 2005, I managed to get whomping cases of poison ivy. Both times, the only place I could figure I had encountered the dastardly plant was in my own back yard. Except that we had never had poison ivy before, that I knew of, and I couldn't find anything that remotely resembled it in the yard. Not that I am any good at identifying poison ivy or any other plant. But I am bound and determined not to repeat the experience this year!

I did not have my first poison ivy reaction until I was somewhere in my forties. I don't know if that's because I had never had a close encounter with urushiol oil before or if I just wasn't sensitive to it until then. But I am definitely sensitive to it now. A couple years ago, I was wandering around the MooU Mechanical Gardens and I deliberately sought out the poisonous plants so I could *try* to figure out what it looked like in order to avoid future encounters. Right? Not. I still can't identify it and even though I was standing several feet away from the damn thing, later on I discovered a suspicious looking itchy, weepy little rash on my elbow. It was really hot and humid that day and the only thing I could figure was that a couple drops of that oil had traveled through the air on water droplets. Am I crazy? grokgrokgrokGROK. What a stoopid question!

This morning I was out messing around with the compost, pretending I knew what I was doing with my hoe and pickaxe. As usual, I was barefoot and barelegged, except for my sloggin' shoes. I looked down. Yikes! There was a vine-y looking plant with three leaves right there by my feet. I don't *think* I touched it. I came in immediately and washed my feet and legs, then washed the towel in hot water. We'll see. Sometimes it seems like I just cannot win even one round. grok grok. That's what happens when you get old, you ugly old bag. grok grok.

Sat. May 6:

Okay, multiple choice quiz. Choose the one best answer. This is 100% of your grade.
  1. Win the lottery.
  2. Turn back time.
  3. Five week vacation.
  4. Early morning skunk encounter.
  5. Hang out with Karen.
And, today is Pooh's birthday, so she has caught up to me. So, y'all know what to say, right? Other May birthdays that I know of: May 1 Ashlan (my 1st cousin once removed) was 17, Jack (dad) would've been 87 on the 9th, his brother Don 90 on the 11th, Bolette (my step-grandmother) would've been 104 and Anna Raeburn (my great-aunt) 113 on the 16th, and Charlotte (my aunt) would've been 83 on the 28th. Anybody else? Who'd I miss? Courtois family? Anyone in May?

Sun. May 7:

I am still processing the double billing of the play Medea, by Euripides, that I saw today in Kalamamalakazookman. Mouse played Kreon, king of Corinth, and one of Medea's now-dead sons in the first interpretation of the play. Lizard was, as I heard one person say, "the best stage manager." And I have to agree, but I am obviously biased, being her female parental unit. I didn't have roses and pussy-willows for my actress but I did have a jar of The Commander's strawberry freezer jam. That's prob'ly better anyway. I can identify with Medea, and even Andrea Yates. I would *never* kill my children (or anyone!) but life is hard and I can be moody at times. Don't like myself much at those times but...

Last night, we watched the Kain-tucky Derby, proving once again that I am an occasional sports fan in spite of myself. I chose Sinister Minister and he was ahead for a while but ended up as an also-ran. I choose horses solely on the basis their names. I don't pay attention to the odds and that is okay since I do not bet on horses or anything much else. It is surprising to me how un-inventive the horse's names often are. Heck, we have bags and bags of stuffed aminals in the basement with more creative names than what those horses have. Bouncy Bow Pink Bow Purple Bow Blanket Mousie Mushroom Ears? Octopolis? Yeah. Anyway, click here for the GG's Mint Julep Recipe. It's a little sweet for my taste but I can handle one once a year. As long as I don't have to wear one of those awful hats that the Kain-tucky Derby gals always seem to have. I wonder if those gals ever get moody....

And urban hiking rocks if there is nothing else around.

Mon. May 8:

"Well, what about all the trash that's in the car from all your trips?" Guess who. Hmmmm, lemme see...
I dunno. I just do not want to take responsibility for every little blasted scrap of flotsam and jetsam and cosmic debris that inhabits the landfill and all three of the vee-hickles that currently reside on the adjacent street and driveway. Yeah, I have probably left some crap in various vee-hickles. Yeah, I did do a lot of traveling this winter. Not by choice for the most part, although I made the best of it when I could. But I am not sure that I am solely responsible for most of whatever crap gets left in various vee-hickles. Sigh.

It could be worse. I didn't find any McDonald's bags. Sincerely yours, Garbage Woman. grook GROK!

Tue. May 9:

Email from Jim, April 21, 2005, 8:29 AM: "I'm planning on going up for Jack's B'day. FYI."

I remember clearly the flood of thought that washed through my brain on reading that message. "Does he want company?" "What do I do about YAG?" I loved road trips with my brother and his dog. But we had performances going on for one play and another play was going up in a couple weeks. May 9th fell during that play's tech week. It was not the best time for me to be out of town. I knew if I missed part of tech week I would probably return to find some kind of mess that would just make more work for me.

But something, Celtic sixth sense or whatever you want to call it, said, "to hell with YAG. You are not indispensible and somebody else can cover for you. Go north." And so I did. Jim and Valdemort and Sam (dog, not archaeologist) and I loaded ourselves into Jim's Honda minivan and headed up. Miraculously, in a region of the country where it can snow as late as June, we had a little bit of summer that weekend. The boys fooled around with their fancy new garage. I kayaked to Cedar Point. When we asked Grandaddy what he wanted for his birthday dinner, "hot dog on a bun," was the reply. A man of simple tastes. No fish or any of "that green stuff", aka eggplant parmesan, thank you very much.

I saw my brother alive and walking around one more time, at Mouse's graduation party. Our next meeting was in a hospital intensive care unit. He was unconscious by the time I arrived to say goodbye. If hindsight is worth anything at all, it's because those of us he left behind get some comfort from speculating that he likely knew a year ago he was not going to live much longer. The trip to the UP was the last chance to see his parents, visit his garage, and walk the beach.

We didn't predict that Jack would die before his next birthday. I certainly didn't expect him to live forever and at 86 years, just about anything can happen at any time. On the other hand, he was pretty darn healthy for an old coot. Living a quiet lifestyle with The Commander looking after him, he might've motored along indefinitely. But that changed instantaneously when he slipped on ice January 31. After a mind-bogglingly horrific odyssey through two hospitals and a rehabilitation facility, he slipped away on March 23.

Happy birthday, ol' man. Wherever you are, I hope there's a little snort (or two) of Jack Daniels. And a hot dog on a bun. A cookie or two or three. S-A-N-D. A sunny, warm, fly-free beach next to a shipping channel filled with lake freighters. Jim and Sam to walk the beach and look under vee-hickle hoods with. Duke and Don and Lewie and some of the others who went before you. And a few B52 bombers doing a tree-top flyover. Love.

Wed. May 10:

The good news is that a stranded ice-climber has made his way back to civilization or whatever you call it.

Things were not quite so exciting around here today. Once again, I dragged my lazy carcass out of the rack at an early hour, took a shower, and walked the neighborhood. After coffee with Marci, I again forced myself to forge ahead in the arduous process of unraveling all of the tangled up threads of my life with the intent of trying to knit them back together into something new and improved. Specifically, a new career with a reasonable income and a clean, organized, clutter-free house and grounds or whatever you call my suburban yard. I toyed with blahgging about all of that today but it was just too long and melancholy and, well, tangled. Maybe I'll try to do it in installments. Or maybe I'll make y'all just wait for the DVD to come out. I know you are waiting with bated breath. I wonder which actress I should get to play the part of me. Lemme see, in my life, people have told me I resembled B-Witch, Carrie, and Cicely Tyson. Wonder if I can get one of those. grok grok. That was *Old* Witch, not B-Witch, you stoopid old bag! grok grok. Getcher head outta the clouds and putcher feet back on the ground. grokGROK!

Thu. May 11:

<laundromat_blues>Sitting here in the Super Suds Coin Wash watching filthy, musty old sleeping bags agitate in big front-loading "Texas" washers. There's only one guy in here that might've made me feel a little nervous back in the day. Most of the rest are just typical laundromat characters, older guys of various ethnic backgrounds, kind of sad and lonely looking. Or maybe just tired at this early hour of the morning. The kind of guys that look the other way the minute I take out my powerbook. A woman with a computer? Yikes, stay away from her! And that's good because I can hide behind this thing, typing and watching people while I'm at it.

Now there is a mom with a couple of little girls. I used to spend a lot of time in laundromats with little girls. Sometimes they would whine or complain or fight. One time Mrs. Piche, who used to run the now-defunct Soo Plaza Laundromat, took it upon herself to break up a little scuffle between my then two- and four-year-old daughters. Mrs. Piche was much more effective at discipline than I was. I used to think I couldn't wait until those kids grew up enough that they might actually be of some reasonable help. Either that or I could leave them home and just rip through the laundry by myself. Now I see that other mom and I miss them.

The weird guy that used to bag groceries over at the Westgate Kroger is not here. I think his problem was probably Tourette's. He used to blurt things out randomly. Usually it was just monosyllabic nonsense but one day he got stuck on "paper or plastic?" and was asking every customer that over and over and over and over. Arlene the cashier and I rolled our eyes in unison. Who wound him up, I wondered. Anyway, I used to have a POC-style washing machine, so I was at the Super Suds a lot for a few years and I used to see him over here sometimes. He would always try to strike up some kind of strange, unintelligible conversation with me. Like, say what? I'd probably talk to him nowadays. What the heck, potential blahgging material maybe. But that was back when I was a young mom with a couple of little girls and he just kind of creeped me out. I haven't seen him in forever. I wonder if he's dead.</laundromat_blues>

Fri. May 12:

You guys? If you catch me sticking an apostrophe into a word where one doesn't belong ("it's" instead of "its" is the main culprit) will you please HIT ME or something?

I consider myself a pretty good grammar nazi. I know I've blahgged this before but you cannot grow up with The Commander as a mother without turning into a grammar nazi. If you wanted to say something like "I ain't got none," you had better darn well be over in the school yard or the gully or at Aunt Marion's corner store or the Pingatore house or somewhere. Any place where she couldn't hear you.

The proper usage of "lay" and "lie" was beaten into my brain at an early age. I still don't understand exactly when to use "bring" and "take". I mean, it always seems to me that at some point in the process of schlepping something from point A to point B, "take" morphs into "bring". Doesn't it??? Exactly where is that point?

If there was anything that The Commander missed, it was surely drilled into my head in junior high by Pratt & Loye. They were no-nonsense English teachers -- sisters, if I remember accurately -- who dressed in that old-fashioned style that allowed a woman to place a handkerchief down the front of her dress for (hopefully) convenient retrieval. A classroom with Pratt or Loye at the helm was a tight ship. No fooling around. Once in seventh grade, Loye caught me cheating, i.e., letting someone copy my answers. Never again!

These days, I occasionally encounter words that I don't know how to spell or can only vaguely define. Like lassitude, for example. But I know how to look them up so I *do* look them up. If I write something like "gonna" instead of "going to", I do it on purpose. I'm not a trained writer but if I write in sentence fragments or start a sentence with a conjunction or commit any number of other grammar/syntax crimes, I do it more or less consciously. Proper use of commas, I sorta know. Proper use of semicolons, I am darn froggy on. grok grok And I do not even pretend to control Froggy. grokGROK! In the end, this is just a blahg, and it's my blahg and I can do what I want and y'all can just deal :-P

But when I stick an apostrophe into "its" when I'm using it as a possessive pronoun, not as a contraction for "it is," it's not intentional! Substituting "their" for "there" or vice versa is another frequent error. I don't know why I keep doing this. I guess bats are scrambling my brain! grok grok. Just lemme know if she screws up. grok grok. I'll schlurrrrp her! grok frookGROK!

Sat. May 13:

<reinvention>I'm a little reluctant to blahg about this because it's just almost a little too close to the nitty gritty, if y'all know what I mean. But it is life and maybe writing about it will help me sort it out. If you don't feel like reading about it, go watch TV or process the dishes or eradicate some poison ivy or something.

The general gist is that multiple chapters ended for me in a very short space of time over the last year. I am sitting here flat on the ground without enough to do for the first time in forever, evaluating various potential income-earning activities, wondering which one (or two (or three)) to do and how the heck to get started again. To put it bluntly, how to get my butt off the ground.

In a lot of ways, I liked my job as a non-profit theatre guild administrator. The hours were about as flexible as it gets and I could work just about anywhere: home, rehearsal, beach, theatre, Houghton Lake, car, Cafe Zola. Many of the responsibilities were right up my alley. I am a natural for playing with spreadsheets and databases, creating forms and handouts and play programs, and handling and counting money, and just generally bopping around town keeping track of things. I taught myself html and dragged the organization onto the Internet way back when the world wide web was still the wild wild west. I worked with a lot of fun people that I loved and I was the glue, the person who remembered and kept track of all the little threads and details and people and how they all fit together to make the organization run. I have always ended up being the glue wherever I have worked. I like being the glue.

I resigned for a lot of complicated reasons but the short story is that I was working many, many hours more than I was getting paid for. A small, volunteer-run non-profit usually doesn't have a lot of money to spend on employees and I never expected to get rich working for YAG. I did believe in the organization though and I still do. But it had just gotten out of hand. We were constantly running on almost no help and that meant I often felt like I had to do things that were largely not within my skill set, like get beat up on by cranky parents. Yes, in a youth theatre guild on a planet like Ann Arbor, you do encounter those. My self-esteem can sometimes be a bit, shall we say, tenuous? Being trampled by self-involved parents advocating for their "gifted" children just crushed me. I'd be backed up against the wall wanting to scream, "I don't do the casting and there is only one Lady Macbeth in the play!"

So now what? I knew I was heading for a period of downtime after all of the last year's activity. No job. No classes. Social activities I used to barely have time for seem few and far between. Moping around the landfill trying to figure out which shambling mound to attack first. Walking. Living from coffee date to coffee date. Walking. Writing long, boring blahg entries. I do not do well with unstructured time unless I have some pretty clear missions. And I need money. How to make some money without selling out to a stultifying 9-5 job with a cubicle and a 2-bit boss?

Web design? Yeah, I have enough experience to do small, simple web sites. 50 pages or less or thereabouts. I can do html, css, javascript, a little bit of perl, I'm not bad at image processing, I can write content if I have to and I am trying to teach myself how to handle audio and video. I'm not a graphic designer and my technical skills aren't sophisticated enough (yet) to handle a content management system or much in the way of back-end processing. But really the stickiest question involves finding and dealing with clients. I am a shy person and I tend to focus on the things I canNOT do, rather than promote my talents.

Or maybe I could sell off my inventory of craft and fiber art items? I'm certainly not doing much else with it. So, I am slowly on sorting that stuff out, finishing what's unfinished, photographing it and putting it out on Etsy. We'll see what happens there. People are looking at my stuff but they're not buying it. A good friend says photographs don't do my bags and things justice, that people need to get up close and be able to touch them. I think she is right but I am too shy to walk into a store and ask if they want to sell my stuff. Y'all don't anybody even think about buying anything. The object of this game is selling to the general public and that's the only way to win. Right now, I'm still learning the rules.

Enough kvetching. I do feel marginally better. And, yes, I know that "shy" and "writing about yourself on the Internet" does not quite compute. I can't figure it out either. Glue for hire. Not necessarily cheap.</reinvention>

Sun. May 14:

Dear Old Witch,

Here is a Mother's Day poem for you:

"F" is for the fleas and flies you feed me,
"R"'s for flying rockets to the Moon,
"O" is for old witches and their broomsticks,
"G"'s for garbage women and raccoons, (and skunks, grok grok grok)
(ooops, another "G" is comin' up, whaddo I do with that? Oh, yeah...)
"G" grok grok grok grok grok grok grok groooook groooook,
"Y"'s for when you yell and scream at me,

Put them all together, they spell "FROGGY," amphibian that means the world to you.

Love, Froggy.

Froooogggy, that is just about the strangest Mother's Day poem ever written.

grok grok grok. EVERY DAY is Mother's Day, you old bag. Click here for the audio version. If you dare.

Mon. May 15:

Look to the right... Look to the left... Look behind you, quick! Tiptoe into the bedroom and peek into the laundry basket... zzzzzzzzzzzgrokka. Whew! Y'all can rest assured that Froggy is still sleeping it off. zzzzzzzzzzzgrokka. So, where was I? Oh yeah, birthdays. Every once in a while, I actually remember someone's birthday, besides those of my immediate family members that is, and I post a happy birthday. But, for the most part, I just motor along obliviously. And then people alert me to the fact that I've missed someone. And I feel bad. So I have begun the birthday project. Which will be a monthly list of birthdays of family and friends that links to this page. Click here for May. Here is where it is up to you: if you are *not* on there and *want* to be on there, please lemme know. Note that I am not publishing full information about anyone. This is the Internet! Right? Y'all know who y'all are. If you don't know who someone is, you can email me. That is about all I have to say today and I am gonna guess there are those who are relieved about that.

Tue. May 16:

Mouse: "moom i am in the library surrounded by three books, four volumes of scholarly articles, and i have an annotated bibliography, the first page of my paper, the library search engine, and two more articles up on my computer screen. i don't think you need to worry about it today."

Well, okay, by now I know better than to worry about whether Mouse is doing her homework and that was a much better response than, "You *keep* yourself *out* of my business," which I got from her once in fourth grade. I think part of the problem that time was that she had been assigned to work with "one of those others who are not girls." No longer a problem as far as I know unless you get paired up with one of those young men who write like dinosaurs and are incapable of reading and replying to email. No, they are not extinct. I frequently get them as partners. Just what I need, another kid ;-) Anyway, I wasn't *really* worried, only that I might be distracting her by emailing her about knitting and the like.

Annotated bibliography? Glorp. I don't even know what eez that. Well, at least I didn't until last fall in one of Jason's killer classes, Web Coding III. We were assigned to write a research paper complete with an annotated bibliography. I picked the topic "Asynchronous Javascript and XML." Interesting topic and a lot more controversial than you might guess. And yes, I did figure out how to make an annotated bibliography all by myself without any help from either of my smart-alecky little munchkins ;-)

Wed. May 17:

Volcano Mama's Internet Guide:
Is that all clear as mud? If not, lemme know and I'll try to clarify it. Want more? Watch this space for occasional installments in this ongoing series. I don't know it all but I do know when to call in Michigan Power Rodding. grokgrokgrokGROK!

Thu. May 18:

I took my walk on the Planet Ann Arbor this morning but it felt like I was on the shores of Gitchee Gumee on a day kind of like this one. Cool. Okay, cold. Windy. Maybe a few more clouds than in the pic and a bit of a threat of rain. If I closed my eyes and imagined the sounds of wind pushing the tops of pine trees around and waves crashing against the shore, I could almost be there.

The wind in the pine trees is just about my first memory. I think it goes back until I was not even one year old. Six Mile Road was gravel in those days, so we would clunkity-clunkity-clunk down it. When I got a little older, I thought it took forever but when I was a baby I prob'ly didn't much care. Although I'm sure there were days I might've been upset about something *else*. Hungry or mad at the world or whatever. Anyway, I always knew when we turned onto Birch Point Road because I could hear a big swhooooshing noise up in the treetops. The sound of freedom, although I didn't know it those first few times. After all, I couldn't even walk yet. One of my first memories. I wonder if someday it'll be the last thing I think about.

Anyway, we are now here at the Luxurious New Courtois Cabin at Houghton Lake, aka The Group Home. There are no significantly tall pine trees here or even a proper beach. It rained all the way up. When we were almost here, the GG mentioned that we would be arriving at a cabin with a dry kitchen floor. And we both reminisced about all the years when we would arrive here after a rainy trip, or even a not-rainy trip, and there would be 3-6 inches of water sloshing around in the kitchen. Those days were fun in their own way. I loved it then. I love it now. There is no water sloshing around the kitchen floor and there is waaaaarless internet. Party on and chuck cabbages when you get the chance.

Fri. May 19:

Yay for feedback! There are people who read this stoopid blahg grok grok who are pretty fluent when it comes to technology and they had comments to make about Volcano Mama and her Internet Tips. grok grok Excuse me a minute. (Froggy, I wasn't talking about you and no, you can't use Garage Band right now. Go play on the highway.) Sorry about that rude interruption.

Karen wrote, "um, aren't 'application' and 'program' synonymous?" Dum de dum de dum. Hmmm. Good question. Didya do any research before writing that, Volcano Mama? Well, Vmom was thinking along the lines that a "program" is a generic term for a set of instructions for a computer to follow. "Application program" aka "application" is a set of instructions designed for a more specific use. says it pretty well. Vmom thought her intended audience might get confused by "application" alone. Say what? Application? For what? A spot in the assisted living facility? Get the drift?

Then the Marquis (or maybe it was the Grand Poohbah, I wasn't sure) wrote, "If you subscribe to either MSN or Yahoo as an ISP they provide their own proprietary browser." "I stand corrected," says Vmom. "MSN and Yahoo *can* be browsers and are obviously useful to some people as such." But again, Volcano Mama's intended audience might get confused by that. They don't have time for anything more than about one or two mouse clicks. In general, Vmom is not a terrific fan of proprietary software on the web, but that's just her not-so-humble opinion, inspired in part by what the gang over at WCC has beaten into her rather one-dimensional brain.

Volcano Mama's intended audience is people who want to use the Internet for very specific purposes. Like emailing their grandchildren or reading someone's stoopid blahg. They want to get on there, do their business and get off quick. No news sites or flash videos, thank you very much. They do not have time to fiddly-diddle around learning all of the various complexities of using computers and browsers and surfing the Internet. They are too busy going to water-ex and taiko drumming performances and foreign films and classes at the college and visiting their friends at Tendercare and eating corn chowder at Penny's and reading the newspaper down by the waterfront and cogitating about improvements to their properties. So Vmom is trying to keep it pretty basic.

Anyway, yay for feedback! Keep it coming. One of these days, I'm gonna get off my you-know-what and install Wordpress on this here blahg so I can turn on some comments and y'all can comment to your heart's delight and get into flame wars with each other and the whole works.

And finally, Sam and I were certainly on the same wavelength yesterday as she also mentioned the sound of wind in pine trees in her blahg. Except she didn't call it a swhooooshing noise, she called it susurration. Her vocabulary wins!

Sat. May 20:

Lemme see...

Sun. May 21:

I am up to four who agree with me about the DVC guy and one of those also threw off some similar comments about the author of Lord of the Flies, which I haven't read since high school.

Anyway, I actually read a book this weekend. The DaVinci Code. I think the last time I sat down and read an actual novel was last summer when I *forced* myself to sit on the beach and read something fun and mindless, all six Harry Potter books. I just have not been able to get relaxed enough to siddown, shuddup and read for eons. I dunno, maybe I am still tired from reading out loud for hours a day through a large part of the 1980s and '90s. Read it again, mommy, read it again. Read another chapter. Ad infinitum. Ad nauseam in some cases, Cat Family Book in particular.

Did I like the DVC? Hmmm. Far be it from me to pretend to be a book reviewer so take this with so many grains of salt. This book had its pros and cons. I did think the writing was pretty bad. The two central characters seemed, well, one-dimensional (I think that is a cliché, right?). We were supposed to believe they were experts at their chosen fields, yet we learned so little about them. It was as if they were created *only* to educate us about the symbols and codes central to the story. And run around like crazy evading various police just to make things exciting. Am I making sense? I didn't think so. grok grok stoopid stoopid question grok grok.

On the other hand, I, uh, *read* the book. I could not put it down except to hike and do email with Mouse and talk to Liz on the phone, etc., etc. It had a relatively happy ending. I actually like happy endings in books. If I get involved with a book, I feel sad for days when it ends badly. And not every book has to be high-brow literature. Heck, if it gets people to read and think, all I've got to say to the author is, "You GO!"

Religious stuff? Sorry, y'all do not even want to know what I think :-)

Will I see the movie? Maybe someday when I am 90 and Sam and I are sitting around drinking tea wine someplace, preferably outside, where we can project the movie onto a virtual screen from whatever passes for a powerbook in that almost unimaginable future. And heck, we may even have a supply of rotten tomatoes there ready to throw at that virtual screen.

Cheers, y'all!

Mon. May 22:

Tonight we helped Karen, Valdemort and Pengo Janetto celebrate Jim and Karen's 25th wedding anniversary at Dave's Ribs with The Commander making a telephonic appearance as we were driving there. Bro', we missed you but I bet you were watching us through one of the windows. Were we obnoxiously raucous enough? Actually, I guess we didn't start singing until we got back in the car. Anyway, thanks for bringing Karen into the family. I needed a sister.

SQUEEgrok SQUEEgrok! Sproinnnng! Sproooinnng! I got a present! A beeyootiful loverly present! SQUEEgrok SQUEEgrok! A cute little froglet that says, "You make my heart leap!" Sproinnnng! SQUEEgrok! Thank you Ernie and Alfred! SQUEEgrok! Sproiinnnng!

Tue. May 23:

grok hic grok. Get drunk and sleep at the cabin? grokGrok hicburp. Yesh, shounds lika good idea. grok frgok hic burp. c'mon Sssshmookie, lesh go (grok grok) get Buoy 22 warmed up (hichic grok).

Uh, Froggy? You are on the Planet Ann Arbor and the cabin is on the Shores of Gitchee Gumee. That is 350 miles from here. Don't you remember what happened the last time you tried to fly Buoy 22 when you were drunk? I do not need any more fighter jets landing in my back yard. Why don't you just go sleep it off in your laundry basket?

grokHIC groook frok. I wanna join the Thud Club! grokgrokgrokGROK! hic grok sprrroinnnnng! whoooooosh! THUD! zzzzzzgrokka
Froggy? Froggy? Are you okay? Hmmmmm. Thud Club, eh? I'd say Froggy has passed the initiation test for that fine organization with flying colors. Green, that is. With a little purple around the eyes. Hey Smokie!

ooh ooh ooh ah ah?

Will you go and wake up Moley?

ooh ooh ooh OOH ah ah!!!

Yeah, I know Moley can get a little surly when you wake him up. Here take this dirty sock in there, that'll brighten him up. Get Moley and then you, Moley, and Clammy oughtta be able to schlep Froggy back into his basket.

zzzzzzgrokka flying machine zzzzzzzgrokka sleep cabin zzzzzgrokhika thud thud thud zzzzzzzgrokkahic
G'night, Froggy, seeya in the morning. Hope your head is okay. Empty nest? Kee-reist!

Wed. May 24:

Announcing Mouse's new blahg, She and I have been working on this top secret project for the last week or so and she tells all about it in her first entry.

I don't have much else to say today. It is looking to be a terribly exciting day of:

Thu. May 25:

As my life continues to have the consistency of an old, dry, crumbly piece of toast, it is fortunate that there are other blahggers out there. Karen locates a missing person (May 23) and discovers that the way to get to Brimley actually does not involve turning left at the Brimily light (May 24). Sam is either talking about mushrooms or my [step-]grandmother. And Mouse, well, it appears that Mouse's blahg is going to be a lot more interesting than this bunch of drivel. grok grok Whadidya expect, ya oogly old bag! grokGROK! Just a minute. (Shut up Froggy.) Sorry about that. And yes, Mouse *did* start calling herself Mouse at the age of 1-1/2. Mouse could talk as well as any adult at that age and was perfectly capable of clearly (and loudly) expressing her many opinions, including what she thought of the name I gave her at birth. No, I am not at liberty to tell anyone that name. And neither are you, Frooooogggy! grok grok I'm gonna go get some frog juice. grok grok. Hmmm, he's off to an early start today.

Fri. May 26:

<tv_rant_beware>Once again, we were engaged in a coordinate change, shooting from the Planet Ann Arbor up to the Great White North. We were too lazy to plug in an iPod, so we were rolling along idly listening to NPR. The program was about the FCC and its rather haphazard approach to handling profanity and other so-called non-child-friendly crap on TV, crap being the operative word imnsho. What to do about Janet Jackson's boob. Why it is okay to air the f-word in a prime-time network TV broadcast of Saving Private Ryan but not in a PBS documentary about the history of blues music. And something about a televised teenage orgy that I didn't quite catch. After 45 minutes, the GG finally had the presence of mind to hit the OFF button. I don't know how long the program droned on after that. Sometimes silence is golden.

You know, I do understand that people don't want their small children to be exposed to the f-word and other explicit language and images. But, honestly, the NPR folks interviewed some parents who write to the FCC every week. And, as one of the "experts" said, if a kid hasn't heard the f-word by the time they get to be, oh, 10 or 14 or so, they've been living in a closet. Which, of course, would bring up a whole 'nother set of child welfare issues. I'm sorry folks, but gimme a break and get a blasted life!

Back in 1991 we bombed Baghdad for the first time. In those days, I was a young, naive shadow of the jaded old bag I have become and I was quite distraught about the whole thing. Not to mention that it happened on my birthday, of all things. I mean, really, couldn't they have waited just one more day? But then I started watching the war on TV. I was mesmerized to the point of neglecting some of my other responsibilities. Mouse, who was going on four, got pretty sick of the whole thing and she would say, "Mom, turn off the war!". I'd say something lame like, "in a few minutes." A few minutes would pass and the war would still be on. "MOM! Turn OFF the WAR!" One day, she took matters into her own hands. She studied the remote control unit until she figured out that the letters O-F-F spelled "OFF" and proceeded to push the darn button herself.

You guys, if a 3-year-old can turn off a television set when there is something unsavory on it, why can't a 30-something parent do the same? There are a whole lot of things in this world that children need to be protected from and the average everyday soccer mom doesn't have a whole lot of control over most of that stuff. The television is one thing that you CAN control. Not only can you control it, you can control it from the privacy and comfort of your own home. So TAKE control. Three letters. O-F-F. OFF!</tv_rant_beware>

Sat. May 27:

Sun. May 28:

The other day I think I told somebody I missed throwing buckets of water down the toilet in the ratty old Houghton Lake cabin. This morning we woke up to huge thunderstorms and then the lucky-shucky went out and did not come back again and, as we were faced with the possibility of actually having to throw buckets of water down the toilet, I began having second thoughts about that statement. On top of that, the old hand pump is long gone, which means that we would be faced with Grandroobly's definition of running water: "You run down to the lake with a bucket, fill it up, and run back up."

We had planned to scrounge breakfast at the cabin this morning but the idea of trying to feed twelve people and two dogs in a kitchen with no running water or lucky-shucky was a little daunting, so we all headed off in various directions to obtain a restaurant breakfast. And use a bathroom with a flush toilet. The Twinz of Terror and Chevy and I headed up to Ron's. A couple of the others aren't crazy about Ron's, so they elected to go to Coyle's. We should've gone to Coyle's.

When we got to Ron's, it was closed because the lucky-shucky was off. We could've done the intelligent thing and turned around and headed over to Coyle's but instead, we made the mistake of continuing on up to that restaurant by the Cut River. I have eaten breakfast there something like twice before and both of those times, I came out of there saying I would never, ever eat there again, even if the lucky-shucky was off in every other restaurant in the universe. It isn't that the food isn't any good or that the waitresses aren't friendly. But that place has got to be the most excruciatingly slow restaurant on the face of the planet.

We went there anyway. When we got there, there were only a few customers and for a few minutes I felt a little bit of optimism creep into my otherwise apprehensive mood. But then it took forever to get seated and forever for the waitress to get around to taking our order. And then all kinds of people started coming in and something like five or six groups who were seated well after us got their food while we sat there waiting.

At first it was okay. I wasn't really hungry and there was no need to be in a rush. After all, it was raining cats and dogs and there was no lucky-shucky or running water back at the ranch. But then I started to get a little bit hungrier and I had probably had a smidge more coffee than I needed (the one thing they were quick about was filling up coffee cups) and somebody in there had a small child who was not a particularly happy camper and it all started adding up until I began getting that unwelcome little feeling that I needed to start crawling out of my skin. And then I started to get really hungry and I was watching people who came in after us happily eating their food and paying and getting up and leaving.

*Finally* our food came and it was okay but then we were finished and it was taking absolutely forever to get the check, even though they still kept coming by to fill up our coffee cups and we kept telling them we were finished and needed the "ticket." To get outta there, fer chrissake. And then it got to feel like we were in a full-tilt-boogie twilight zone somewhere. Tourist trap maybe? I gave the GG some cash and bolted for the door. I walked over to the Cut River and hung around there for what seemed like forever. The others were *still* inside the restaurant.

I can't exactly remember how the heck we finally got out of that place and home but I am NEVER going to that place to eat breakfast EVER AGAIN! Even if the lucky-shucky is off in every other restaurant in the universe. I meant it the last time I said it and I *really* mean it this time. Do NOT try to make me go there again! A-men!

Mon. May 29:

All parties must come to an end and usually I know the party is over when I find myself back in the Westgate Kroger again. Today we landed back on the Planet Ann Arbor and found that the cupboard was definitely bare, so I navigated a gauntlet of stop lights until I got to the WK parking lot. Btw, Houghton Lake folk, I think I left a few perishable items in the refrigerator up there. I hope you either ate 'em or threw 'em out. I don't care either way. I love y'all and I apologize for leaving extra food :-)

Anyway, I am not sure who designed the WK parking lot but it had to be an engineer who was walking around at about 100. And I do not mean 100 degrees although it felt about that hot in the WK parking lot today. I think this because just about the entire lot slopes almost indiscernably down from the store entrance to South Maple Road. And, of course, that means that when people who are walking around at about 100 have forgetten grok grok. Who is walking around at about 100? grok grok. You can't even spell. grokGROK! Okay, forgotten. Anyway, when people mindlessly abandon their grocery carts in the middle of the parking lot, they have a tendency to start rolling down the slope and smash into whatever is in the way. I mean the carts do the rolling, not the people. I have not actually seen anyone's children roll down in a cart but once I saw a guy's wallet head down the hill. He was screaming bloody murder and swearing like a drunken sailor about someone stealing his wallet until I pointed out that it was in his cart, which was down at the end of the parking lot smashed into somebody's vee-hickle. Not mine though because I park strategically.

So I parked strategically and sprinted into the store. I was about to grab a cart, swing it around, and push it into the store. I can do that in about one motion as long as the carts are not all tangled up with each other. Except today there were NO CARTS! Where were the carts? This was the full-tilt-boogie twilight zone. Yeah, I know. I was in the full-tilt-boogie twilight zone for a while yesterday too. After a few minutes of standing there gaping dumbly at the empty space where they keep the carts, I managed to get a grip and walked outside to search one out. Grocery shopping tip: *always* get a grocery cart. Even if you think you are only going in there to purchase one small item.

First I was nearly mowed down by two people who were driving vee-hickles around at about 100 (and I do NOT mean 100 mph) and almost crashed into each other. And me. Somehow I managed to make it to the cart corral intact and extract a cart. It was just about as bad inside as it was outside. It was almost like a Thursday morning when the bus people get dropped off to do their shopping. 100 appeared to be about the average and I do not mean 100 years old. People were dawdling around blocking just about every aisle I tried to go down and we will not even talk about the people attempting to check out via the uscan. Fortunately, the WK management was smart enough to schedule Elsie to run the uscan today. I'd have been ready to jump out of my skin if that goofy guy had been there. Hmmm, come to think of it, I haven't seen him around lately. So maybe he's not around anymore. Uh, this is a different guy than the Tourette's guy I blahgged about a few weeks ago.

I made it home and we aren't gonna starve tonight and I'll prob'ly be back over there tomorrow. Grok grok. You WILL be back over there tomorrow because we are out of frog juice! grokgrokgrokGROK!! And, kids, I know you hate when I talk about the 100s. But I didn't want to leave Houghton Lake this morning and it is hot here on the planet and it smells a little funky and it's messy and that means I have to clean and I am a little crabby. And it's my blahg and I can say what I want :-P I love you but deal. grok grok.

Tue. May 30:

<uuhhhh>Heat. Humidity. Mosquitos. Biting flies. Bad dreams. Not nightmares exactly. And no shoreline stuff for once. Instead, I was frantically and frenetically putting together a play program for YAG at the absolute last possible nanosecond, as usual. As if I didn't ever have anything else to do at the last possible nanosecond before a play went up. I had to go down about eight flights of stairs to get to the copy machine and I was kind of surfing down them, like my feet were not exactly touching the steps. And you know what it's like when you get a song stuck in your head and can't get it out? Every time I woke up during the night, I had a certain song stuck in my head. grok grok. Can ya guess what song it was? grok grok. Bet it was one o' my little ditties. grok grok. Grok grok yourself, you old green rag. Yes, it was a frog song. It is still in my head. If you don't know what song I'm talking about, you are welcome to click here to hear it. I am not gonna click. It is an awful little ditty and I need to get it *out* of my head. grokGROK! Whaddya mean? Garbage woman, indeed. Anyway, I did not want last summer to end. Now I do not want this summer to start. Too many people who were here at the start of last summer are not here now and uncertainties about the future abound. Life is going on anyway. I guess I am going with it one way or another and this is just one of those mornings. So after I banish a certain raccoon from the grounds here, I am gonna find *something* to do to make a positive contribution to the world. I just don't know what yet. Well, I have called Howard Cooper, I guess that's a start, albeit a small one. grok grok, yeah, get off yer butt. grok grok Let's go get that raccoon. gork grook</uuhhhh>

Wed. May 31:

"This place is humid!" That's what Wyle said before he installed central air in the Landfill yesterday. I said, "yeah, this place is a swamp!" This is the first time I have ever lived in a place with air conditioning. Am I using it? No. Or at least not yet. I have mixed feelings about it. I do not like to be hot and sweaty unless I am doing something active enough to make me hot and sweaty. On the other hand, I don't like to have the doors and windows closed. I like to be able to hear the birds, insects, mammals, and amphibians that inhabit my yard. I feel shut in when everything is all closed up tight.

Some summers are hotter than others here in southeast Michigan. Most summers have at least a few days when I feel like crawling into the freezer. But my favorite way of cooling off is in cold water. When I am on the Shores of Gitchee Gumee, I can just walk into the water until it's up to my neck. As an added bonus, hanging around in Gitchee Gumee also makes you feel clean. I suppose some might say it freezes all the dirt and sweat until it cracks off your body. Here on the Planet Ann Arbor, I don't have easy access to such a large body of clean, cold water. I used to use the kids as an excuse to truck over to KMart and pick up one of those little plastic kiddie pools. I would put a canoe chair in it or just hang my feet over the edge. Nowadays, I just suffer in the swampy landfill.

One summer back in the day, the Twinz of Terror took Lizard Breath and her identical cousin, The Beautiful Renée, off on a road trip to the Badlands and other points of interest. While they were enduring death marches and buffalos in the road and tornados dropping trees on their tent, Mouse and I were stuck here on the Planet in 90-100 degree heat. One night it was particularly hot and sticky and I decided there was just no point in either of us even trying to go to bed until we were so dead tired that we couldn't keep our eyes open any more.

We filled up the kiddie pool and I sat there with my feet in the pool watching vigilantly for skunks. Mouse had a tricycle parked so that its front wheel was *in* the pool. I'm not sure why she was riding a tricycle because, at seven or so, she had long graduated from those beasts. But we never throw anything out, so she found one and was riding it around the yard. Froggy had learned to drive the Little Tykes Coupe that day, another long-outgrown vee-hickle. He was careering and careening wildly all over the yard and I guess that was the beginning of his descent into delinquency. Naw, actually, he has always been trouble. grok grok. Whaddya mean, you old bag? Anyway, I think we finally went inside and crashed on the fold-out couch in the back room.

I suppose there will be times when I do turn the a/c on here in the Landfill. I have to admit that when Wyle was testing it yesterday, I was sitting at my powerbook and the feeling of *cold* air coming out of the vent next to my feet was pretty darn nice. Actually, the heat that usually comes out of that vent has turned a large area of my ugly kitchen floor into a horrible orange and black mess. I wonder if having cool air coming outta there will reverse that. Hmmmm.

©2003-2006 Anne Finlayson, aka Anne Courtois