February 2004 Birch Pt. Beach Blog

January 04 | March 04

Sun. Feb. 1: A look at the front of my refrigerator before I get industrious and clean it off:

Mon. Feb. 2: All right! Whar be my scissors? If y'all HAVE to borrow "a scissors", will y'all PLEASE return "it" to my office/kitchen when you are finished using "it"? Seems I either have 10 scissorses or none!

Tue. Feb. 3: "So anyway this Tuesday is primary day in MO and next Tuesday is primary day in MI. Any Blogs?" (Mark Axe)
    Hmmm... Well, most of y'all should know I'm not a very political aminal. I have two issues that decide who I vote for. Anyone care to guess what they are? >:-> Other than that it's just all a bunch of bluster and blather and yammering away. I've come to agree with a certain relative of mine (wanna guess?), whose general opinion about politicians is something along the lines of "stick it!"

Wed. Feb. 4: My fingers work just fine but my B-flat key is sticky as all get out!!

Thu. Feb. 5: Well. WOW! That's just about all I have to say about yesterday! Karen is in the market for a professional-grade flute. So, we road-tripped to South Bend to try some out. When I bought my professional-grade flute way back in some other life, you ordered one from the company, most often Haynes, and then you had 2 years to come up with the money ($1500 at the time) while you waited for them to get around to you on their waiting list and build your flute. Things have sure changed. She ordered up 4-5 flutes to try out and they assigned us to room 4/4 (I would have preferred 7/8 or something a little more esoteric ;-) We took turns playing virtuoso-level French flute music for at least an hour. Fun! I almost couldn't stop. (All against the backdrop of a tuba player somewhere who kept playing the same lake freighter-sounding note over and over and over and over.) Yes, we tried out a few Haynes, both handmade (like mine) and "manufactured". We actually liked the manufactured Haynes better. We tried one fancy looking flute with all kinds of engraved kinda country/westerny-looking floral stuff all over the keys and stuff but it was BROKEN and most notes wouldn't play at all! I bet Karen'll end up with Haynes (or maybe Muramatsu, she's checking those out today over at Ervin's house ;-) My new favorite is now the Sankyo. I didn't want to put it down! Gotta get my #&$@ B-flat key fixed...

Fri. Feb. 6: Randomness on a Friday....

Sat. Feb. 7: Whew! My little rodent actually got to the ACT test on time with no arguments about ANYTHING! I hope I live thru the next year and a half of college stuff. Kids: Yes, you do have to take those darn tests. You do have to do the junior conference. Don't even entertain the idea that "I" is a grade or that it's the teacher who screwed up (well, unless it's you-know-who, and in his case, just keep your damn ducks in a row, please.) College essays? Yeah, get going on those this summer. You're a good writer (Judith says so), you can do it. Those teacher recommendations and things? Yes, those are important. Please turn them in on time. And time? There is less time than you think. Please just do it. Oh, yeah, and you know when they ask you about leadership stuff you've done? Whaddya mean, leaving that section blank? What about all those plays you've stage-managed or helped direct? Heck, you even function as a leader when you are "just" acting. That stuff DOES count! Don't be afraid to brag just a little bit. WCC, jobs, and even the army are all good things for some college-age people. But they are not for you, little mouse. So let's just try to get through this stuff somehow without killing each other so we can ALL get on with our lives.

Sun. Feb. 8: Well, I know that my life is a total and complete mess when I can't even find my Telemann Fantaisies or my book of French flute virtuoso pieces. I want to accuse one of my little theatre rats of absconding with them. But I fear they (music, not rats) are hopelessly buried under some shambling mound down in the dungeon. How does this place get like this? And how many garbage bags will I use up before I am through with the dredging?

Mon. Feb. 9: Mark Axe: "Shambling mounds or shamblers appear to be mounds of rotting vegetation. They are actually intelligent plants, with a roughly humanoid shape and a brain like control center in the 'chest'. - Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual"

Indeed, and since Guinea Pig is gone, they provide excellent company for me here in my virtual office!

Tue. Feb. 10: bark, bark, ruff, ruff, grrr, bark, bark, woof, grrr-Mom! (Sam & Ernie, audible all the way from GB). Flute odyssey continues: Bloomfield Hills to meet Karen at the Muramatsu dealer and help make a final decision, then killed a little time at Somerset Mall before a celebratory lunch. Home again "slummin' it" in west A2. (Good thing I washed my dirty Honda yesterday before making a trek over there ;-)

Wed. Feb. 11: Today's "blog" is probably only important to me and my own personal nag. But today is the day that I MOVED the YAG website to it's own server space! I have my own new email ID over there, anne@aayag.org, but y'all should still use my regular one here at ababsurdo. I'm feeling pretty darn excited (and a bit geeky). So to celebrate, I think I will take myself skiing!! That is all! s'later! Gone skiing! :-) :-)

Thu. Feb. 12: Let's go to Tempo. The price is low at Tempo. Tempo is your store with more, at lowest possible prices. doo *doo* doo.

Fri. Feb. 13: The Liquor Luge? "It consists of a homemade block of ice slightly larger than a gasoline can, held up at an angle by a makeshift wooden frame. Two gutters are carved out to facilitate the flow of alcohol." It's at the I-500 snowmobile race in Sault Ste. Siberia, of course! You have to register w/ the NY Times to get to the story -- but it's free.

Sat. Feb. 14: Liz & friends being silly @ kzoo and Karen's got me going so I think I'm taking a road trip!

Sun. Feb. 15: I can't blog today because I spent the entire day at a YAG board retreat @ Sue's house and am totally and completely out of words, energy and everything else. No we were not drinking anything with alcohol in it! The GG is here doing the taxes. Connie, Mouse, TK!!!, and Goose are watching a movie. I need air! Taking a walk!

Mon. Feb. 16: A, that is all. No I or P or U. Not even from you-know-who. Go, Mouse! Thank you, Commie.

Tue. Feb. 17: Bleag! Piles of bills to pay and papers to file and things to print (and cartridges to change) and things to scan and 2 (!) different banks and 2 (!!) trips to the insanely overcrowded Stadium post office (no, I didn't have to hang out with Al either time). I HATE when I get behind on banks and papers and stuff! But then -- drum roll -- I FOUND MY MUSIC!!! (French stuff & Telemann and lots more.) So, I'm taking a walk!

Wed. Feb. 18: Skijoring? Oh yeah, I can just feature being pulled along on skis by Sam (dog, not friend) and Ernie. And who gets to clean up the trail? Grr-Mom!

Thu. Feb. 19: Speaking of dogs... There are a lot of dogs around here and every day in the late afternoon they drag their owners over to the schoolyard for a little romp. George, the English mastiff, is my favorite, the rest are just a motley collection of golden retrievers and labs and unidentifiable mutts. It gets pretty crappy, especially in "my" woods where people don't seem to think they have to clean up. And I don't know why I keep getting so lucky, but just about every day this week, I seem to happen along just as some darn dog or another decides to do its business. This always makes me think two things:

  1. One of the many reasons I don't have a dog is because I prefer to walk without carrying a supply of plastic bags.
  2. WHY am I WATCHING this???

Fri. Feb. 20: Packing for Houghton Lake:

And we thought it was bad back in the day of hauling babies and their paraphenalia. Omigod, I forgot the diapers vs. omigod I forgot the powerbook power cord! (And yeah, we have been traveling with computers since B.K.)

So, rain all the way up here and foggy as all get out from just south of Clare. I felt like I was flying my dirty Honda via instruments! Furnace is on. Water is pumped (25 buckets) and the sun is well over the yard-arm. It's supposed to snow tonight! Yahoo!

Sat. Feb. 21: I swear, the garbage cans here are haunted. Courtois's, I love y'all but beware today's blog >:->>

When I started hanging out with the Courtois family and coming up to this wonderful, luxurious cabin, I had to learn new methods of garbage processing. In particular, the garbage was searched regularly and all valuables were retrieved from it. Once I tried to throw out a pear that was two-thirds rotted. Nope, back out. Another time, the kids and I stopped through here on our way up to Siberia and we somehow traded an old rusty rake, shoe boxes and empty film containers for a rotten green pepper and cucumber. Those two items may have missed the trash but, upon arrival at the beach, they went straight from my car to my uncle Don's compost heap! Empty milk cartons? They can make a float boat! Plastic margarine containers, bread bags, all of that stuff is valuable. Don't throw it out. There was one hilarious incident involving bagels, moldy cream cheese, peanut butter, a tour of the Houghton Lake area hardware stores, and "japaleno" cream cheese that I will have to make a movie about one of these days when I can actually remember all the details, it just about defies description.

Today I had mixed success with the garbage cans here. First, I tried to throw out a gallon-size ziploc bag full of some HORRIBLE chocolate-oatmeal instant packs. I think I actually bought it, YEARS ago, but everyone HATED it and it's been here ever since. It even outlived its original box, hence the ziploc bag. No one's eating the damn stuff, so I'll deep-six it. Wrong! It came back out of the trash! "Let's make sure there are no OTHER kinds of oatmeal in here!" There weren't and it was finally returned to the trash and accepted. But I couldn't get the Cream of Rice box that expired in 1995 to stay in there. Seems to me that's either moth or mouse turd city, plus who the heck eats cream of rice!

P.S. I loved Grandpa Garth a lot and I miss him. I'm sure he's got better things to do than haunt the trash here but if he wants to, that's fine with me.

Sun. Feb. 22: Skied Beaver Creek this morning, packed up, and headed to the ski ranch to meet up with the GB Fins for skiing and gumbo. Interesting little ski at the ranch. First of all, it was so icy & slippery that even though I put on stick wax, it was pretty much 2 steps forward, 1 step back all the way around. On top of that, every time I got to a downhill stretch some neophyte ahead of me would fall and lie there stretched out across the entire trail so I'd either have to stop or kill them! And then, I was out in the middle of nowhere on the "Adventure Trail" and my cell phone rang. Who rang? Was it Mouse reporting some domestic disaster? Nooo. Was it my brother wondering wtf I was? Nooo. It was my favorite British theatrical director! A whole new place to talk YAG stuff :-) We met up with the GB Fins at the Cajun Gumbo Fest and listened to a high school jazz band. It was great seeing my engineer/trombonist brother make that good old shit-eatin' grin at all the wrong notes, bad intonation and other musical faux pas (and yes, Lizard Breath, I parked my ear at the door). (And all that said, those kids were out there *trying*. I bet they'll get better :-) Home in Megalopolis after negotiating the I75 SUV Speedway and actually feeling a bit jet lagged.

Mon. Feb. 23: Uglies from the Ski Ranch Cajun Gumbo Fest!

Tue. Feb. 24: Almost skunked! Returned from walking around 7:30 this morning and was about to turn up my driveway only to see a squatty black/white aminal waddling along beside my van! EEK! Not Mike Cat's ghost! Beat a hasty retreat into the street and watched warily while the beast hung around under my car for a while, then finally started moseying toward the back of the house.

Wed. Feb. 25: Dogs! My favorite aminal! Standing by the woods last night talking to Robin and her dog, Neil and his dog, and another guy I don't know very well and his dog. Well, that is, the humans were talking and the dogs were all running around in the schoolyard. Big trophy dogs all. Retrievers and stuff. So, I had my back to the schoolyard and all of a sudden WHOMP!! I was on the ground with two great big dogs! Didn't see 'em coming. Didn't hear 'em coming. Why me?? Why do these goofy aminals always head straight for me?

And by the way! That glass door does NOT always SHUT by itself. You have to PUSH it shut! Especially if you're gonna leave the big wooden door open. And please DO leave it open. I have to have LIGHT in this place! This morning when I got home, the glass door was NOT SHUT tightly! And neither was the big wooden door. It was 15 degrees out! Are you trying to make the gas company rich?

Thu. Feb. 26: Boringness, at least nothing fun to blog (wait for Saturday). It's a school break. I didn't go anywhere that required an automobile Tuesday or Wednesday, not even the Kroger Uscan. Spent the entire time setting up the YAG Summer Theatre Academy web page for 2004. And going back and forth on email with various people about YAG and other things. Taking breaks to walk, do the absolute minimum amount of housework I can get away with and play my flute (!). Mouse has been in and out. Pies have been made but not by me ;-) Kalamazoo & back this afternoon.

Fri. Feb. 27: Items on a grocery list emailed to me from Kalamazoo: easy mac (REGULAR CHEESE), instant coffee, strawberry nutragrain bars, and orange juice. Sooo, first of all, what the heck is "easy mac"? And why have I been told so vociferously to get the "REGULAR CHEESE" variety? And does this stuff COME in more than one variety? Well, why not, everything else does, the last time I bought canned tomato sauce, I got home with a "Mexican" variety, NOT what I wanted. You have to stand there for 5 minutes reading the labels to make sure you get PLAIN tomato sauce. Anyway, "Easy Mac" does indeed come in at least four flavor varieties: "basic" (which I assumed was REGULAR CHEESE and bought), "extreme cheese", "nacho cheese", and "Tombstone pizza". Plus, you can get "Big Packs" (I didn't). So, here are all the varieties of Easy Mac you can buy. And here's why it's so popular with the college crowd >:->>

I have a sort of spotty history with box macaroni and cheese. I HATED it when I was a kid! When I had my own kids, I swore I wouldn't ever feed them anything made with flourescent orange powder. Then one day, Max Rogoski, age 5, came in the back door brandishing a box of that dreaded Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I had been gonna make peanut butter sandwiches and I refused to cook that box! I don't exactly remember what happened next but the kids must have gone next door and gotten "Papa" (Hans, the Rogoski kids' grandfather) to cook it for them because from then on, it was an integral part of my grocery list. And I didn't complain much because when you have 2 skinny little picky-eater sticks that bounce along on the 0 growth curve, you pretty much feed them whatever they'll eat. But to this day, I have NEVER eaten any of that stuff! (I do like Harry's Homemade though :-)

Sat. Feb. 28: Okay, today I have to blog about outhouses because today is the day of the annual outhouse race in Trenary, MI. Folks, you'll know you're heading in the right direction if you come to a really big suspension bridge.

We finally tore down our old rotted outhouse last summer. That is, Jim, Val & Pengie did. I just took pictures and kept Karen updated via frequent email reports. Back in the day, everybody on Birch Point Beach had outhouses. The Piedmonts had a 3-holer. It's gone now along with most of the others. The old Fin cabin's 2-holer and Jack McNaughton's are still there and operational in an emergency. Ours was an el cheapo affair, one hole, no light, and NO DOOR!

I used to be scared to go out there at night when I was a kid, especially after I saw my first horror movie. I was sure there was a werewolf out there waiting just for me. The outhouse next door at the old cabin had a light and you could turn the light on and off from inside the cabin. So when my cousins were at the old cabin, I would usually use that outhouse at night. When they weren't there, I had to use ours, which meant grabbing a flashlight and running like a bat out of hell all the way out there and back.

And then there was the infamous luna moth incident. I am not afraid of bugs in general. I shared my shower with a great big spider this morning. I could've easily dispatched it but decided to let it live (hee hee to Grandma Fran & Lizard Breath). But somehow, after an early incident involving catching a butterfly and a great big bumblebee in the same net, I developed a ridiculous phobia of lepidoptera, especially lepidoptera with great big wings. So, after an incident where I'd encountered some stupid little flittery moth in the outhouse, I sent my mom to go and check it to make sure there were no butterflies. She came back to report that there weren't. But on the way out I was startled by a great big luna moth on the path, so of course I ran screaming back into the cabin, "Get rid of that luna moth!" (FOR THE RECORD: I am no longer afraid of luna moths and there are only 2 or 3 species of butterfly that I don't particularly like, but I guess that's a blog for some other day.)

Eventually, in the face of an impending change in the rules for septic tanks and drain fields and all that stuff, Grandma decided it was time to have a septic tank installed. However, she was not yet ready to install indoor plumbing. So, these guys came out to dig up the back yard and install a septic tank and, in the process, they knocked down the outhouse and filled up the hole. "They're getting a septic tank, why in hell would they still want that thing?" Except, NOT! Grandma yelled out the back door, "You put that outhouse back up! We have to USE that!", and another teenager died of embarrassment. They dug another hole and put the outhouse back up. But these were septic tank installers, not outhouse hole diggers, and forever after that, when you walked into the outhouse, it rocked back and forth! About another eon later, Grandma finally got a regular flush toilet put INSIDE the cabin. But it wasn't until the family acquired a female in-law that hot water and a SHOWER were installed. THANK YOU KAREN! But again, I guess that's another blog...

Sun. Feb. 29: Words of wisdom from a 12-year-old boy scout:

I guess the GG might add, "don't set off smoke bombs at boy scout camp or you may end up cutting grass with a scythe" ;-)