August 2004 Birch Pt. Beach Blog

July 04 | September 04

Sun. August 1: Latest news from the Great White North:

It can't get any better!

Mon. August 2: I have air-conditioning in my POC again. Dropped it off this morning, then dumped the GG into the lower river. Picked him and the POC up later. A/C works great. What will go wrong next? Elizabeth, the Tahquamenon and dinosaur pictures are on the web but I still need to write the html to display them. I'll try to get that done tomorrow. Otherwise, you can just Fetch out there and copy them onto your powerbook :-)

Tue. August 3: So, Elizabeth and the Honda functioned as boomerangs these last 24 hours. She and Ryan went home yesterday. Today Elizabeth and Mouse came back up! Various groups attended the art fair today but only Liz and Mouse bought anything. Betty and I saw the Joseph P. Cotton going up into the locks but a big fat boat nerd tried to tell us it was the Paul Tregurtha or some other such nonsense. If ya wanta get the GG a present, buy him a coyote face, he wants some to decorate the interior of his jeep. Mark continues to cover the beach with Pod People (or lemmings or whatever). And here are your pictures, Liz:

Wed. August 4: The question is: What is the best time to go to the laundromat? And the answer is: Whenever George is not there! No, that is really not very polite but the laundromat at the Soo Plaza continues to be a surreal experience which I managed to procrastinate about for 10 days this summer. But I finally had to go, and I was the only female in the laundromat the entire time I was there! There was a guy "working" there although "working" apparently means watching morning news/talk TV shows and *not* doing anything about all the out-of-order equipment there. All the customers were super-sized older men. So, as the GG rather snidely asked, "Did anybody try to pick you up?" Well, no! Why not? I had my powerbook, of course! It's presence has several interesting effects on men, mainly according to age:

  1. Younger men sidle up to me and ask stuff like, "hey, if you ever need any help with the website (etc.)...." (Make no mistake, they are interested in the machine, not me!! ;-)
  2. Men around my age either ignore it completely or make noises about how they really don't know much about spreadsheets/html/whatever because they "just don't have time" (yeah, right! :-)
  3. Older men? They just give me a kind of terrified sideways look. A woman with a computer? I am regarded as armed and dangereuse!!! >:->>

All that nonsense aside, I was outta there in about an hour and 10 minutes. I only had to use 2 triple-loaders plus a regular washer (I have been able to fill 3 of those big mothers for the last 18 years). And I've taught my children well, so although they did not elect to accompany me today, click here if you want to see us in action last summer.

Thu. August 5: It is not easy to keep up with a blog when people keep hijacking my powerbook (!) It's already Friday and all my feeble memory can conjure up about Thursday is a mish-mash of thrift shops, cookies, dogs, book stores, tattoo parlors, gumbo, dogs, Ganzerville, dishwashing, cousins, beaver dams, boats, dogs, pod people, octogenarians, whitecaps and kids. Did I mention dogs?. And, btw, the next time a Carbeck computer kicks the bucket, the GG is going to get a laptop as a replacement!!!

Fri. August 6: I finally managed to keep Ernie from running away from Harry but it involved him sitting on my lap. Uh, I mean Ernie was on my lap, not Harry.

Sat. August 7: Cross-country skis I need, or at least I will when we get some snow again. Old ratty kitchen stuff? No thank you! I already have too much of that kind of junk. So, if y'all wanta stop by the cabin at Houghton Lake, you're certainly welcome but keep your trunk locked and don't let the Courtois boyz load it up with junk! >:->>

Sun. August 8: I am now officially on vacation! This has been a summer of all kinds of more or less unplanned and/or unexpected adventures. I've been hanging around with all kinds of friends and relatives. Our theatre camp had a record number of kids this year. We've had kayaking adventures all over the place. It's been a FUN summer!

But my time has not been my own. I've been so geeked up it took me 10 days (!) to read a beach-read type novel that Mark lent me. I have hardly played my flute at all. My beadwork is untouched. My web site is still a haphazardly arranged jumble.

I'm on vacation. Only the octogenarians and I are here. I'm writing this blog entry on the beach. I just watched a pilot board the Victoriaborg. The pilot boat is now heading further up to drop another pilot off at the salty (Günay-a) coming down behind it. Big Butt (the Roger Blough) just went up and the cormorants are flotilla-ing. I'm gonna watch the boats all day if I want to. I'm gonna kayak (well, I was doing that anyway ;-) I'm gonna play the darn flute and at least take my beads out and look at them. If I don't get anything done to the web site, oh well, it'll still be there in the fall.

And there's a lot going on this fall. There's a new YAG season to look forward to, I'm taking off on a little 9 credit-hour college adventure, we're tearing down the Courtois cabin at Houghton Lake, Liz is off to Spain for 6 months and Mouse gets to figure out which college to go in the fall of 2005. I am gonna clean my studio if it kills me (and it probably will) and I wanna meet up with Pooh in Chicago or St. Louis or maybe both.

I am on vacation this week. I will meet you at Houghton Lake next Sunday and we will head back to A2. You know who you are and how much I hate having to repeat myself a gazillion times ;-) That is all. Questions are not allowed today :-) It is threatening to be a beach day. I'm gonna watch the next salty go down, then I'm taking a kayak out. See ya in a week.

Mon. August 9: So, I am on vacation. It is raining (that's not necessarily a bad thing). The Middletown is downbound at Light 26 with the Stewart Cort in hot pursuit. The octogenarians, after no small amount of bumbling in and out the door, have gone to town. MOM ALONE in a cabin in the woods adjacent to a deserted beach!! And what is she doing? Hanging around on the internet paying bills and transferring money around, etc. Sheesh!!

Tue. August 10: Since I'm on vacation, I'll let Valdemort Talking Binoculars do my blog today with badgers, mushrooms and snakes (oh my):

    This is the site that earned me my personalized title (which never happens
    save for admin & mods) on the trombone forum.


Um, what is your title and where is the trombone forum? (Or maybe I don't want to know.) [Editorial opinion from G-daddy: "monotonous"]

Wed. August 11: Radical Betty, Charter Member of the Birch Point Order of Beach Pterodactyls is doing my blog today while I'm on vacation: "We had a long winter and we just got a little box of summer!" Indeed, it was 44 degrees this morning and never got above 57.

Thu. August 12: My guest blogger for the day is my "little" brother Jim. It's his birthday, but not his 50th. Here are a few pictures and here is his blog:

"It's my birthday and I'm going to guest blog if the Banana will let me! I also am throwing in a free picture of Ernie at the beach which, by pure luck, has captured the essence of beach life for a dog. The fleeting glance at "Dad" as he whips by from retrieving a stick out the the waves.

Since the majority of readers of this here blog are at least semi-centurians or well beyond, I thought a young whipper-snapper's perspective might be worth it. It isn't so bad being less than 50 (or 80 for that matter). You learn to live with it. Perhaps the best thing about being on the tail-end of a generation is that you can at least see what is coming your way. I can hardly wait to argue about blue garbage bags in the year 2037!! Maybe they will be yellow by then and we can turn the air yellow instead of blue to match the bags (go ahead, expand that thought in your imagination).

One of the few benefits I found this summer while on leave was a taste of not knowing what day of the week it was, like so many other retired folk I am surrounded by. It was a short lived experience, but interesting. I used to think Jack was kidding about this after he retired but it is true!! It is actually possible to NOT KNOW, or to care for that matter!! It takes years to learn expertise on the job, it obviously takes minutes (moments??) to learn the ropes of retirement. I have all the other skills down: boat watching, snow shoveling, coffee drinking, reading, beach walking, etc... I'm ready.

But, there are kids to get to college, swing band gigs to play, and infathomable tasks to complete at work. In spite of all that, I will enjoy my b'day and let the Banana continue her vacation. Salute!!"

[Hey, a short comment from your regular blogger: tell us if you're under 50! --laughing loudly here in the Great White North!]

Fri. August 13: I was gonna put out a rather off-color picture I got from Mark & Pooh that kinda reminded me of a few real estate developers I've encountered but then I got a message from my sister-in-law Suzie and I decided she could guest blog today. I don't know how often she gets a chance to read the blog but she probably won't have a chance to read *this* blog entry for a while because there's a hurricane headed in her direction. So, excerpts from her message from Bradenton FL:

"will call ya when we get phones back. power should be turned off soon by power co & water.  we have been boarding up signs and taking pics. we are camp ready but will be staying here at the home @ palma sola bay. we have everything on highest ground and hot tub for baths set, pre cooked food and propane for reheating. (somehow i dont feel so bad about that  outrageous payment to the insurance co last week)

it's a very surreal feeling. No cars should be on the road after 2pm. target hours are 5-9 here. we have been pacing for 2 days now, packing, boarding the house [with a sign] that says 'fri 13th, sorry charlie, & goodbye charlie.' I didnt write 'well blow me down!' power may be out 48 hours depending on location & power lines. trees & flooding are our big worry, plus the animals are sick, i guess we all are with worry. we are at  8 - to 13 ft elevation so the surge is critical. we are set best we can. watch the news, we won't have it here but the cars have radios. no emerg vehicles after 45 mph winds & bridges close.

i'll say a prayer for you, say a prayer for us."

And we were complaining about the crappy weather here in the Great White North!!! Hope you guys are all right. Even us agnostics here will be praying!

Sat. August 14: In the midst of looking for the latest in a never-ending series of lost or misplaced objects around here, I found my favorite polartech vest which *I* had been missing since we were up here after 4th of July. And I needed it (as well as polartech socks) to walk the beach this morning. 39 degrees!

Sun. August 15: This is the last day:

I'm looking forward to the next episode but ONLY if the next episode doesn't involve sitting around on the side of the freeway in the POC!!! Pray or whatever it is you do.

Mon. August 16: Yeah... I'm here... took the I75 SUV speedway, actually it was mainly old fogeys moseying along pocketa-pocketa in Cadillacs today... POC was okay, just wish it wasn't getting to be such a dog... at least the a/c worked... only stop was Freeway Fritz for gas... dunno if the potatoes would be good for breakfast because I ate PBJ & juice in the car on the freeway... don't have much to say... ran over a slug in the driveway... where's my dredge... what's going on with the recycle bins... who is saving non-recyclable juice container tops and why... we have at least 5 jars of pickle-type products *open* in the refrigerator, only one of which came from YAG... wish I'd had time to clean this damn place before I left... :-/

Tue. August 17: Yep. It's Megalopolis all right. Liz & Jane were not kidding when they said the Westgate Kroger got reorganized. Again, that is. If I had a dime for every time in the last 25 years that the Westgate Kroger has been reorganized, expanded, moved or gone on strike, I'd be rich! I can't believe the traffic here. Getting from the post office to the Jackson Rd. Meijer at 10 AM involved multiple traffic light backups, closed roads I didn't know about and big double-trailer gravel-hauling rigs everywhere. What the heck is going on anyway? Is it always like this?

On the other hand, I have a laundry dungeon at hand here, and a high-speed internet connection, and Cherry Limeade. And, so far, nobody cares what color garbage bags I use. I even like this old rattletrap house, although at the moment, what I really need to do to it is pick it up, turn it upside down and *shake* it a few times. Once this summer the commander was heard to say that she could imagine her son relocating to the UP at some future time but not her daughter. And as much time as I try to spend up there in the summer, she is right. I am destined for dual citizenship.

Wed. August 18: "Watch for forest fires." From the ACT test registration, that is one of 90 very random statements on an interest survey. You're supposed to respond to it (and all the other 90) with either (approximate words) "I would hate to do this", "I am indifferent to it", or "I would like it." I won't say how Mouse responded, that's her business. But it prompted some discussion around here:

  1. Liz: Why would the average "suburban" kid even think about forest fires?
  2. Liz: It's better not to put out forest fires because, well I don't exactly remember the whole thing but it was something about the underbrush smoldering for weeks on end. She's probably right but...
  3. Me: when I was 8-10 years old or thereabouts there was a summer of prolonged extreme fire danger and a forest fire almost did get going over by the back range light so I was very interested in watching for forest fires and quite terrified of them!

I don't really understand what the ACT is going to do with all this stuff though. I don't know how those 90 survey items are going to help a kid figure out what they might want to do with the rest of their life. I can understand why some of these kids get frustrated filling out endless surveys of that sort. If anything, I suspect we'll just get more spam in our various mailboxes.

Thu. August 19: Answer an email, wash some dishes, update a web page, catch a few rodents, print some address labels, throw a load of laundry in, compile a DVD order, take the trash out, etc., etc., ad infinitum...

    "Mom, do you want me to clean off my desk so you can use it while I'm in Spain?"
    "Oh, I dunno, I don't really need it."
    "Well, maybe you could do your *homework* on it."
    "Oh, I'm pretty happy working in the kitchen, actually."
    "Well, not everybody *else* likes you to be working in the kitchen!"
    "They *don't*?"
    "No, it makes you seem like a housewife!"

Fri. August 20: Just because this place is uninhabitable doesn't mean it has to be uninhabitable!

Sat. August 21: De-nailing knotty pine. That is all! Oh yeah, except for dead mice. (Sorry Mouse!)

Sun. August 22: "Thanks for all your help." Well, in the first place, I didn't really help that much, just pulled a bunch of nails. I also managed to get plenty of kayaking in along the way :-) But the truth is I would not have missed this weekend for anything!!! So, what was this all about, the knotty pine and the dead mice and the big pile of rubble and who is the guy in the window? What it's all about is that the Courtois's are actually in the process of knocking down their cabin at Houghton Lake in preparation for building a new structure.

The Courtois family has had the cabin since 1964, when Garth and Sally (aka, the grandparents) bought it. Sally died in 1994 and Garth died in 2001 and the family now consists of 9 of their 10 children (Gary died in, hmmm, was it 1996 or is my math (or memory) out of whack?), 19 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren plus various outlaws. I'm one of the outlaws, of course. I've been hanging around for something like 25 years now and have spent many a weekend at that cabin.

We all love Houghton Lake but the structure is not without its problems. When the lake level is high it often floods. It's dirty and musty and mildewy and hard to keep clean and when you return home you have to wash everything that's been up there for a weekend. There's barely enough room in the bathroom for one person to turn around and you are best off if you enjoy sharing your shower with frogs and spiders and things. If the cantankerous old oil furnace doesn't work even after you push the red button *hard*, be prepared for laughter from the furnace repair guy. And so on and so on... It's time!

So, earlier this summer, a crew went up there and spent a weekend emptying all of the "stuff" out of the cabin and packing it into the shed. This weekend, 7 of us were up there: the GG, his twin brother Bob, sister Liz, brother Jim w/ daughter Chelsea, nephew Scott (he's the handsome guy in the window) and me to represent the outlaws. Our main mission was to strip out the knotty pine paneling and de-nail it. Our goal is to attempt to refurbish this stuff and use it in the new place to alleviate some of the boredom of having plain old drywall everywhere.

The weather cooperated and we had a beautiful sunny Saturday to work inside and out (and kayak). The cabin is mostly uninhabitable now, so we slept in trailers and tents. We were able to use the bathroom and make coffee inside and we set up a little internet cafe outside in the shed.

This fall, as soon as we come to a complete agreement about the plans for the new cabin, a bulldozer will come and and knock the remaining structure down and begin construction on a new, clean, dry, pretty cabin. We will miss this old one. We have plenty of good memories. Click here for some pictures. Courtois's, there are more pictures so I'm gonna burn some CDs.

Mon. August 23: The Regenstreif clan gets to blog today:

Jane: "Banana -- you're a great mom, but I, for one, have NEVER thought of you as a housewife. you cook, clean, and all those housewife things, but no. that's not a word I would ever use to describe you." Thank you and right on, Jane! and btw, my own loverly daughter very recently told me in a friendly but slightly sarcastic tone of voice, "Mom! As if you are the standard mother!" :-) Right on! (Well, but, cleaning, I dunno, of late, it's pretty bad.... :-)

Mark/Pooh: I love you guys and it looks like Pooh's neck is back to normal. Click here for proof.

Tue. August 24: Once again, I'm gonna let someone else do my blog. I'm too busy, so here are the GB Fins:

    news flash:

    Val makes the marching block in the MSU Marching Band!!!! No pics yet but she is not an alternate, she is on the field in the main deal!!

So, CONGRATULATIONS, freshman block marcher! This is great news and I am ecstatic! Well, except that it also means that I'll prob'ly have to sit thru a football game or two -- my "favorite" sport, I just "love" neanderthals ;-) The "pics" referred to are apparently of her in her uniform when she gets it. So, later...

Wed. August 25: Well, this is just a weird day. I have just been wracking my brain trying to think of a decent blog but nothing comes to mind. I don't wanna talk about YAG or "Steve from Traffic Power" trying to sell me some scheme for attracting more web traffic. I hung up on him. And there is no good stuff like veggie music on the froot-loop email group today, they're actually talking about politics and Excel. Sheesh. I give up. It is just weird. Maybe a good thunderstorm would help...

Thu. August 26: Why do I have Thailand and Senegal weather stickers on here? And why was yesterday such a strange day? Okay. Despite the fact that I had an absolute ton of work to do yesterday, my quasi-ADD was about 10 times worse than usual and I could not concentrate. Elizabeth was gone virtually all day and although she didn't tell me where she was, I knew she was hanging around with her boyfriend, Ryan, whose study-abroad journey to Thailand began last evening at Metro Airport. (Yes of course he's nice, when it comes to making friends, Elizabeth is just about the pickiest person on the face of the planet.)

I was right about her whereabouts and eventually she returned from the airport (and I didn't care that she didn't tell me where she was, I guess I was probably just about the last thing on her mind). I watched her as she walked down the street and around the corner toward her best friend Colleen's house, a journey I've watched her make since she was just a little kid. Three weeks from today, I'll be taking Liz to the airport for her own trip. I'll probably be a lot more than distracted and unfocused that day.

So, that's why there's a Thailand weather sticker. And Senegal is for Jess, her other best friend, who leaves in about 10 days. I wanted a Kandahar sticker for Donny but Weather Underground doesn't provide them for Afghanistan.

Fri. August 27: From the froot-loop (aka flute) listserve: As Richard Strauss said in a conducting book: "never look at the trombones, it only encourages them."

Sat. August 28: Of all the days for two shopping-averse people to choose to go shopping for clothing, the Saturday before school starts is probably the absolute worst possible choice. What were we thinking? *Everybody* was out there. Including quite a few people I know but ducked to avoid having insipid back-to-school type conversations with them. (I didn't try to duck Marci, she doesn't like shopping either.) Sorry guys but malls just make me twitchy. And where on earth can you buy fashionable but not overly "trendy", well-constructed clothing that doesn't cost $500? Oh, why bother asking...

Sun. August 29: Jim F: "since you have already crossed the line and shown dead animals on the blog, here is the sturgeon that washed up on the beach and is the current talk amongst the beach dwellers."

Okay, today is not for the faint of heart. The dead mice are not the first such picture I've ever posted. There was the infamous incident on the beach summer 2003 where some red-blooded being made off with a bird body and left the wings on the beach. And then there was the dead loon this summer that I never did get a good picture of due to a NW wind and ensuing breakers. But it *stank* and eventually I took a shovel down there and disposed of it. And just for good measure, a non-dead aminal picture but just about as gross, my leg after a little run-in with an ice floe.

Is that enough? >:->>

Mon. August 30: This is my last day of relative freedom for a while and it's a big picture blog today, you know where to click:

Tue. August 31: This is the last first day of school in our journey through the Ann Arbor Public Schools. And it is my first day of back-to-college. And we are down a car today of all days as the Honda was due for scheduled maintenance. So, it's 8 AM (7 PM in Thailand, add 12 hours & subtract 1 ;-) and so far, I have walked for an hour, droven the GG to work, hit an ATM for various bank transactions, forwarded an email message and written another one, eaten Cheerios, made a bag lunch and emptied the dishwasher. I hope I get to my class in time. Am I scared? Heck no, I haven't had TIME to be scared!!