January 2004 Birch Pt. Beach Blog

December 03 | February 04

Thu. Jan. 1: A few terribly exciting New Year's memories:

This year: Mouse at a YAGgie sleepover. Liz at a party till oh-dark-30. Us old folks hung around home, drove my creaky old blue minivan along the river and I had to get woken up to watch the ball drop. Today: watching videos (yes, really!), writing html, backing up my powerbook, hiking, and hoping I can endure the GG's antics during the Rose Bowl or whatever the UM football neanderthals are in this year.

Fri. Jan. 2: I will miss Lizard Breath lots. I will miss Chadwick. I will miss Hermit Crab. I already miss the umpteen million relatives we got connected with over the holidays. I won't miss the GG or Mouse, they live here. I've got Panther installed on my powerbook and a fully operational email program for the first time in months and Connecticut Yankee auditions are next week assuming Rob makes it back to town ;-) I need to get back to work here in my virtual office.

Sat. Jan. 3: Well, I really don't wanna blog about what's going on around here today, mainly because it's not that interesting. Lizard Breath heads back to school today and we're going thru some fairly typical confusion about that:

It's fairly quiet nevertheless: this Nitroglycerin Girl is staying relatively calm w/ the help of a needle & thread, the other Nitroglycerin Girl was still in bed at 1:30 or so (!) and Liz joins the Nitroglycerin Girls Club only on rare occasions. I guess we're all happy except for Mouse who was looking forward to being "home alone" while we drove to kzoo and back ;-)

Oh, and the reason that a lot of the faces in the kindergarten picture are scribbled out is because "somebody got mad and scribbled on them for some unknown reason". Who dunnit? ;-) (The girl right in the front was grandaddy's "best girl" at the time. He is directly right of her.)

Sun. Jan. 4: Well, I married the GG for better or worse but NOT for lunch! With him home for the last few days, there's just been too much inactivity around here for my energy level (okay, okay, I KNOW you did the taxes -- take your bow and get over it!). So I got up early this morning and dragged him out hiking. We had sorta planned to go down to Lake Erie Metropark but the weather forecast was for tons of snow so we decided to stick closer to home and took the wrangler out to Waterloo Rec Area instead and hiked 2-1/2 hours over very hilly terrain. Now we are back home and there is STILL no snow. I don't think it even LOOKS like it's going to snow. WHERE IS THE SNOW?? Of course, my skis are at Houghton Lake...

Randomness: BeauSoleil, i.e. I actually found some music I like without the help of one of my daughters! The gossip is that everthing that's in my iTunes was put there by either Liz or Mouse. And I used to be a musician!

Mon. Jan. 5:

When: 7:45 AM
Who: Mom & Mouse
Where: Miller Rd., making the daily run down to Commie. There's only space for seniors to park there, she has one more semester.
Temperature: cold enough for both layers of my Columbia coat, cold enough for boots although velcro sandals with polartech socks prob'ly would've been ok, not cold enough for my polartech balaclava, so, oh, about 28 or so
Mouse (approximate words): this steering wheel cover keeps my hands warm but I need a cover for the stick shift.
Mom: um, why don't you just wear gloves?
Mouse (approximate words): Oh, I didn't think about that. Maybe I should be wearing a coat too.

Tue. Jan. 6: oh well, what the heck, there's nothing interesting to blog about here in early January so we'll dig back into the past:

When: summer 1992 (or thereabouts)
Who: Mouse & Grandma
Where: Birch Point Beach
Temperature: 61 degrees, wind coming in off Lake Superior
Situation: a discussion about the appropriateness of Mouse's choice of clothing (skirt & sleeveless shirt) to wear to Radical Betty's house for cocktails, etc.
Grandma (approximate words): why don't you put on a jacket?
Mouse (approximate words): No!
Grandma (approximate words): it's cold out! You should be wearing a jacket.
Mouse (approximate words): No!
Grandma (approximate words): But the wind is cold! Are you SURE you don't need a jacket?
Mouse (approximate words): No! I have some nice warm mouse fur!

Mouse: 10, Grandma: 0. And, no, she wasn't wearing shoes. Y'all know we don't wear shoes at the cabin! I keep mine in the CAR so I have them when I get to Glen's and the laundromat (and the creaky old blue minivan repair shop)!

Wed. Jan. 7: Driving along on Stadium Blvd., heading east toward Clonlara School at rush hour with my virtual office in my creaky old blue minivan and the AIRBAG light on. Going past Pioneer High, in the left lane behind a slow, erratic driver. I prefer to be in the left lane at that point and switch to the right AFTER the light at S. Main, otherwise you get stuck behind all those people turning right at S. Main and sometimes you have to sit thru the $&%* light TWICE! But this guy is driving me NUTS! And there's (miraculously) nobody in the right lane, so I switch into the right lane. As I approach the light at S. Main, it is (miraculously) GREEN! This is too good to be true. Can I really make it thru this light? Oh sh--, it just turned yellow. Can I run it? No, I can't (or won't). But the slow, erratic driver that I was previously stuck behind is now NEXT to me and he DOES run it! But there is (miraculously) a COP in the right place at the right time who peels out and takes off after the idiot and NABS him!!! YAY! That totally made up for having to sit there for 3 minutes at that light.

Thu. Jan. 8: One big black bug bled blue black blood while the other black bug bled blue.

Fri. Jan. 9: YAG Babe Adventures, starring Mom & Elena

Sat. Jan 10: Well, I'd like to blog about talking to my dear, darling brother-in-law Don today because he had me rolling on the floor laughing but the conversation was not really fit for a family web site, so I'll have to do grocery store fun instead since grocery stores seem to be my lot in life:

Cruising Whole Foods early in the morning when you can still find a parking place -- 8 degrees Fahrenheit, sunshine & snow dust, mood = over the top:
  Older male clerk (well, prob'ly my age ;-) behind counter: How are you today? How do you like that sunshine?
  Mom: It's gorgeous! And it's only about 8 degrees! And there's this snow dust coming down! I just wish I were skiing instead of hanging around A2.
  Clerk: Yeah, don't you wish you were at Aspen?
  Mom: Yeah, that would be so cool! There's just not enough snow here!
  etc., etc.
(Now, little does he know that I haven't downhilled in a good number of years, I do x-c exclusively now although that can certainly involve lots of up and down. And my ski trip accommodations usually involve that "luxurious" Courtois cabin at Houghton Lake, featuring buckets of water to flush the toilet and a rubber camp shower that you have to fill w/ water from the teakettle. But heck, I'll usually oblige anyone that wants to flirt!)
Westgate Kroger U-scan early in the morning -- 5 degrees Fahrenheit, mood = pretty damn good but intent on getting outta there and onward into my to-do list which involves making food for Sue's wild party:
  brrring-brrring-brrring... brrring-brrring-brrring...
  Mom to efficient Afro-American female cashier: what's that ringing noise?
  Cashier: it's the coupon printer. It's out of paper.
  Mom: well, at least it's not my ears.
  Cashier: Yeah, we just like to annoy you from time to time!
  Mom: LOL!
(Only the Kroger U-scan cashiers can get away with saying something like that to a customer! :-)

Where the heck were these people when I was trying to xmas shop?

Sun. Jan 11: Movie time! Octogenarian Garbage Processors, a movie in 3 scenes with cast (in order of appearance):

Grandaddyplayed by Green Goth
Momplayed by The Abominable Snowman
Grandmaplayed by Pumpkin Head
Mouse (a cameo appearance)played by Rave Girl

Mon. Jan 12: Question of the day: do I think it's going to SNOW again? Duh, it's winter and this is Michigan? Other than that, I am not one of those people who hates Mondays. It's my morning to have coffee w/ Marci & then I get to work ALONE in my virtual office after 2 days of people hanging around my house. But all I have to say about THIS Monday morning is: BLEAG!

Tue. Jan 13: I don't know what to blog about today... Okay, techno-weirdness. The power goes out for about 2 nanoseconds. Just long enough for the older digital clocks around here to lose the time (THANK YOU DTE! just what I needed to do, reset clocks). My powerbook is unaffected, of course. Except, now I can't get back online in the kitchen either via the cable modem or dial-up. Cable is working on the TV in the bedroom, I'm not even sure how to turn the other TV's on any more. The phone is working. I'm sitting on Elizabeth's bed with the powerbook plugged into her phone jack and I'm on-line. But I can't get on via the jack in the kitchen... Of couse, that's the phone jack that you have to stick a toothpick into WITH the plug or else the plug doesn't fit. And is the cable that runs the TV different than the cable that connects the modem? Duh, yeah, how dumb can I get? The iMac won't go on-line either. I HATE wa-a-ars!

Wed. Jan. 14: Triscuit with guacamole? Yep, sounds like a Courtois boy snack. Someday I'll have to blog about "japaleno" cream cheese. Bwahahahaha!

Thu. Jan. 15: Post-it notes found on my powerbook this morning:

  1. 1) Clean oven. 2) Put cheesecake in @ 350 degrees for 15 min. 3) Cool cheesecake!
  2. You should get me: 501 French verbs and 501 Spanish verbs. Esp. Sp.

And, thanks y'all who've already said happy birthday (the Fins all sound like Fins on the phone but I can't always tell WHICH Fin it is)! But don't jump the gun. Today is the Grinch's birthday. He's reachable via email if he's not battling worms and viruses. But it's doubtful that he's home or reachable via phone ;-) You could always talk to Radical Betty though, if she's not off bushwacking somewhere in Canada!

Gotta clean the house, at least the big chunks, board meeting here tonight! What should I feed those people? (Well, besides Mouse's cheesecake, if I don't ruin it.)

Mid-day update: Why today? Drove all over town in the jeep and finally ended up at the Westgate Kroger and decided to actually open the back gate to put groceries back there on top of all the junk that's there instead of putting them on the floor in front of the passenger seat. But then I COULDN'T SHUT the back gate!!! So I walked home, picked up the honda, drove over, transferred the groceries and left the jeep in the Kroger parking lot!!! I knew I couldn't possibly be finished with Kroger today... Still later: Mouse FIXED the door! My little engineer.

Fri. Jan. 16: "50!!! Keee---rist!!!!!!" (Jim)

"Anne is darn good fun for 50! so rock on, and hey, we even have snow if you want to go skiing for your b-day." (Jane)

Rock on is right! And I am definitely going skiing, here at Houghton Lake, as soon as we get the water pumped!

As for being 50, I have nothing to say! I still feel like about 25 until I look in the mirror!

Sat. Jan. 17: One more thing re 50: as Lynne @ the Ski Ranch pointed out, I MADE it. As some of y'all have pointed out, I'm the first of the 1954 kids. Bill/Bob are next, then Pooh, then Mark Axe & Aimee (on the same day, right?) But I wasn't supposed to be first. That honor belonged to my MacMullan cousin Cathy. But she didn't quite make it so I had to do it. I spent the 15th watching warily for beer trucks and tornados and things.

Now back to regular stuff: I received this dog picture from 2 different people!

Sun. Jan. 18: Too tired to blog. Great weather all weekend, snow and cold. LOTS of skiing. We've gone MILES. Jim, Karen, Pengy, Sam & Ernie showed up at the ski ranch yesterday! Not much else to say. How good can it get?

Mon. Jan. 19: Television is a bad habit.

Tue. Jan. 20: Houghton Lake winter shower procedure (this procedure assumes that none of the water on the stove has already been heated, if it HAS, you'll have to get creative about getting the right temperature water):

  1. Fill the teakettle with water from one of the big barrels.
  2. Turn the tea kettle on high (burner 3, back right).
  3. Get an empty bucket from the shower stall. If none are empty, empty one into the toilet.
  4. Get the shower down from where it hangs on the showerhead, put it in the empty bucket, and take it out to the kitchen.
  5. When the water in the teakettle is about shower temperature (usually 3-5 minutes), pour it into the shower.
  6. Repeat until you have enough water in the shower. Washing long hair is 3 teakettles-worth, short hair prob'ly 2 teakettles, 1 teakettle is sufficient if you don't have hair.
  7. Carry the bucket with the shower in it back into the bathroom.
  8. Remove any buckets from the shower stall. Put them anywhere.
  9. Put your clothes and towel and whatever in SAFE places where they won't fall into buckets of water or onto the floor or into the toilet, etc. (This step can be a challenge.)
  10. Hoist the shower up and hook the handle over the top of the showerhead.
  11. Get all the way into the shower stall and take your shower. NO, you don't just LEAN into the shower. Sheesh!
  12. Helpful hint #1: if you are washing your hair, do that first.
  13. Helpful hint #2: the hose frequently (at least 5 times a weekend) comes undone from the shower bag. Just shove it back on -- QUICKLY!

This procedure is DESIGNED so that there is water left over after your shower. There are two reasons for this:

  1. it is no fun to be hanging out in the rusty, moldy old Houghton Lake shower stall with shampoo all over your head and NO WATER, so EXTRA WATER is built in to the procedure.
  2. Leftover water can be used by Mr. Rank and Mr. Odiferous to take a shower (hint, hint).

Wed. Jan. 21: Ya know those skinny orange (well, they're usually orange, sometimes they're other colors) plastic bags that the newspapers are delivered in? THOSE THINGS CAN GO STRAIGHT INTO THE GARBAGE! They don't even have to go through some complicated recycling process! Thank you! -Garbagewoman!

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Fri. Jan. 23: Well, here we are again at the luxurious Courtois cabin. We have Mouse with us this time because she may not get another chance to ski this winter. Drove the dirt/salt-encrusted honda up I75 today just to remind ourselves of how much we "adore" I75: trucks blocking traffic, sno-mo-hauling boys in SUVs going 80 with 90-mph traffic-weaver freaks just to liven things up. I passed a cop sitting in a trap by West Branch. I was going 80, everyone else was going 85-90 and he didn't even blink. No tornadoes though! Joannie and her entourage are supposed to be somewhere in the area this weekend. We don't expect anyone else. (Hope we don't kill each other! :-)

Sat. Jan. 24: From my email:

Mark Axe: Today I took off the afternoon and enjoyed biking in shorts and 50 degrees. Thank God for global warming!

Me: It's 10 below here this morning and I walked around Long Point in my purple abominable snowman outfit:

I was WARM! So, take THAT all you southerners!

And then there's this from Jim, which I have no real response to :-) :-) (turn up the sound!)

Sun. Jan. 25: This little story is not for the squeamish. Elizabeth, my little fainter, don't click on the "picture" link unless you are sitting down in a place where you won't hit your head on anything hard if you happen to keel over.
    Yesterday morning, I was hanging around getting restless waiting to go skiing. A bad aminal had Mouse glued into her bed and wouldn't let her get up. And the GG was sitting around reading and eating terra chips, wallowing in the jet-laggy phase of the cold virus that's currently passing through our household. So, I decided to walk out onto the ice and take a look around.
    I got down to the seawall and I'm not exactly sure what happened but I made some kind of horrible mis-step and the next thing I knew I had fallen UNDER the ice floes that are pushed up against the seawall and WHANGED the HELL out of my leg on the edge of one of the floes in the process.
    I struggled to my feet and started limping back up to the cabin, somehow managing to be cheerful to the neighbor and her dog even though I felt like crying or screaming or swearing or maybe all three. It hurt for probably about the next hour, which was about how long it took for the bad aminal to finally release Mouse and for us to get the ski gear into the car and drive over to the ski ranch.
    Once I got out on the ski trails, the pain went away and I completely forgot about my leg and we skied for about 3 hours. We came home and probably about another hour after that, I looked down at my leg and noticed that (HELLO?) it was a big, bloody mess and my clothes were stuck to the wound via dried blood such that I had to peel them off so I could clean it up. Of course, I had to take a picture :-)

Onward and upward: sound bites from skiing:

Good weekend, we didn't kill each other although we decided we skied happier if we all went our separate ways instead of trying to stick together. Wimped out on skiing this morning, Mouse wanted to get home and it was below zero.

And last but not least, thank you, Jim, for not sending me pictures of Ernie and the pee icicle.

Mon. Jan. 26: Zee vindshield vipers veel not turn zemselves off! Yo, Chrysler, can we talk? This creaky old blue vee-hickle that I paid you top dollar for back in the dark ages has got to have about the biggest dern windshield in the world, I mean WINDSHIELD! So why in the HECK can you not outfit it with a pair of windshield wipers that does not have a mind of its own? (Okay, all you engineers, I KNOW I'm talking about the thingy that CONTROLS the windshield wipers, not the actual windshield wipers, so you can shut up!) The original ones that came on the car used to turn themselves on at random times. I should've gotten them fixed under warranty but I was lazy and waited until I had a teenage driver whom I thought might get discombobulated. By then it cost me $175! But it was fixed. For a while. Until it started getting cold out. When it's cold, the damn things DO NOT TURN OFF!! It gets worse every winter. And while you're at it, why don't you move the windshield washer nozzles to a different place, one where they won't get coated with 3 inches of ice after every snowstorm (earth to engineers?). It's winter and this is Michigan for chrissake, I need to be able to SEE!!

Tue. Jan. 27: 7:30 AM: I am soaking wet for the 2nd time today. The first time was when I took a shower. Then I went for my usual walk. I'm not sure what kind of precipitation was coming down for the 1st 40 minutes or so, the last 10 it was great big splodges of snow. Question for a birder: could that have been an owl I heard in the woods today? Or what?

Wed. Jan. 28: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~lgranthm/scifair/index.htm

Thu. Jan. 29: I don't know why we even bother scheduling school in January. First they had Martin Luther King Day off. That was at the beginning of final exam week, which was last week. During final exam week, it always seems like there're about 2 hours of school a day and I have to ask EVERY day, "what time do you have school?" God help me if I wake somebody up in time to be at school at 8 if they don't have to be there until later. Then they had THIS Monday off. Why? To recover? From what? And THEN Tuesday and Wednesday were snow days! At least Mouse hasn't been sick. Usually that adds a couple more days off!

Fri. Jan. 30: Clean the house? What a novel idea! Now, where's my can of gasoline....

Sat. Jan. 31: My leg has now healed to the point where I can once again use it to open and close the dishwasher door.