September 2004 Birch Pt. Beach Blog

August 04 | October 04

Wed. September 1: Computer whiz? Did I really dare to call myself that a few months back? Hmmm, how do you turn this thing on? Oh, there's a *tower* under the table. Duh. Thanks to the guy in the seat next to me, I finally got it going. But floppy disks to transfer files? I do *not* think so. There is one computer in this house that can read a floppy disk but I am not going to go down in the basement, scrape a couple inches of dust off it and use it! (And, no, I didn't get to my class on time, I was 5 minutes late thanks to a tremongous traffic jam. But contrary to all my favorite admonishers, I did *not* have any trouble parking. There were a million spaces at 9 AM and I parked my POC in my usual type of spot out in the hinterland a good walk from the building. So there :-)

Thu. September 2: A barrage of advice and assistance with organizational skills from a 20-year-old college junior (approximate words):

    Where is your syllabus?
    Is this all? Ed's syllabuses are like a book!
    It wasn't Ed's syllabuses. It was Lanny's.
    And it's not syllabuses. It's syllabi.
    Where is your homework assignment?
    Your homework assignments are getting all curled up!
    You need some folders!
    Here, I'll get you some folders. How many classes do you have?
    Here are some Kalamazoo College folders.
    I have just enough for your classes.
    Put the syllabus in the left pocket.
    Put the homework assignments in the right.
    Print out that one syllabus that's on the internet and put it in there.
    You may lose the internet some time and you'll be out of luck!
    Is this your notebook?
    You need a notebook for each class.
    You are so unorganized.
    Look at that pile of papers over there.
    You need to organize yourself.
    You better do your homework now.
    You do *not* know how to be a student.

Sam (archaeologist, not dog), during an earlier email message reminiscing about college: "Hey, you weren't a total screwoff--weren't you first seat???" Yeah, man!

Fri. September 3: Well, do y'all think we should take our kayaks up to HL? Or should we just take along our ski boots and poles for some good cat skiing?

From a professor with a pretty good sense of humor (hopefully I won't do anything to screw with that ;-), a little bonus link to another blogger's random rantings, ravings and better artwork than you'll ever get out of yours truly. I kinda like the OAQ's, maybe I should write some of those for my site.

And, finally, from an anomynous emailer, the cat in the Courtois party pictures is named Frizzlefry (I should've known that) and the dog with the younger Steve is Puff. I still don't know the owl's name.

Sat. September 4: Random "In Whiches":

Sun. September 5:

    Zoobah doo boop boo
    Zoobah doo boop boo
    Zoobah doo boop boo
    Zoobah doo boop boo
    Zoobah doo boop boo
    Zoobah doo boop boo

The GB Fins (minus Pengo & The Boyz) plus the Carbeck Crew (minus Mouse) take East Lansing by storm! Um, er, if not by storm, by something...

Mon. September 6: Labor Day. That is an understatement. I have been up since before 6 AM and I have done everything but throw rocks up out of the water onto the grass. I think there is still some laundry down in the dungeon. I better get it up here because these clothes are about at the point of standing up by themselves. I cannot wear them again tomorrow. Time and Determination conquered a wireless network problem. The jury is still out on whether they conquered the jeep door. Well, back to work! (Hmm, what's that old saying? A man works from sun to sun, a woman's work is never done? Whadda y'all think?)

Tue. September 7: Rrrrrrrrppp! Tuesdays are just gonna be ba-a-aaad! If all goes well and there isn't some kind of blasted fire drill going on here, I get up on Tuesdays and walk my usual hour in the early morning when it's dark enough that you can still see "The Rion" in the sky. Then, I try like heck to get out the door by a bit after 8 in order to get all the way the heck over to WCC for my 9 AM class. I feel sorry for some of the kids who are young enough to be my children and look like they've been up until 4 AM. Hey, I am at least awake and don't even need coffee, although coffee is fun anyway, well, except for when we got that real strong stuff at Kerrytown :-) But I know from ancient times past and have witnessed in recent years how life can be and I know kids are busy and stay up late. Anyway, on Tuesday, I have an afternoon class too, so I'm there until like 4 PM. Like, all day! Like, mom packs an actual lunch! (Today it was a pkg of peanut butter crackers, an apple, and 2 little V8 cans. I ate it in the POC after I finally found the derned old beast where I'd parked it out in the hinterlands of the parking lot!) So, I got home today at Idunno, about 5 PM maybe, after hitting one of my usual grocery Uscans. I was kind of planning on my usual afternoon walk. But Liz was here with a Fedex slip saying they'd tried to deliver her package (plane tickets to Spain, plus) when no one was home. So, we drove all the way over to Concourse Blvd. and back. It was an hour or so but an hour spent with Liz was well worth giving up an hour's walk with a blasted iPod. Exercise be damned! I'll have plenty of time to feed that addiction when she's in Spain ;-)

Wed. September 8: This is for all of us who are parents of 20-year-olds or thereabouts!

Last Friday around 2-3 PM or so, my almost-20-year-old and I were driving around doing errands and as we approached the Packard/Platt intersection here in A2, it was completely blocked off and we had to take a detour. It was not road construction! It turned out that a gas station attendant had been shot early that morning and the scene was so gory (well, plus they were probably still investigating) that they *still* had the intersection blocked to traffic.

Today the A2 Snooze reports that there's a suspect! The murderer took off and 53 minutes later robbed another gas station in a west-side Detroit suburb (no one was killed in that robbery). I didn't read the article too carefully, I guess they caught him on video-tape both times. He is *20*!

I don't care what the government thinks, 20 is still a kid to me. (Heck, to the octos, *50* is still a kid!! ;-) How the hell does a kid get so screwed up? How can a kid my kid's age be out robbing and murdering people while my kid hates to even use my credit card when she has my permission? Most of the 20-year-olds I get to talk to are highly intelligent, thoughtful people who *care* about other living beings and the planet. They play hard but they work hard too! They make mistakes but, heck, so do we!

Go hug your 20-year-old right now, if he/she is available. If not (and mine will not be after next Thursday, she'll be in Spain), email them and tell them how proud you are of all the good things they do.

Thu. September 9: Scene: a shoe store on campus (approximate words):

    Lizard Breath: "Do you have these in a 7?"
    Young Male Clerk: "Mouse?"
    Lizard Breath: "No, I'm Liz".
    Young Male Clerk: "Oh, you're her sister, I'm sorry."
    Young Male Clerk: "So, are you at Pioneer now?"
    Lizard Breath: "No, I go to Kalamazoo College."
    Young Male Clerk: "Oh! You're *older*!!"
    Lizard Breath: "Yeah, I'm going to Spain next week."
    Young Male Clerk: "I better quit while I'm ahead. I can't get anything right."

Well, yeah, but Mouse *acts* like she's about 50 a lot of the time, so I can see how someone could get confused >:->> (hey, gimme time to duck before you take that swing at me :-) And thanks to the shoe store clerk for providing some good entertainment and a blog entry!

Fri. September 10: Well, I do not know what I have done today. Oh yeah, I did actually clean the front living room but the reason for that momentous event is too embarrassing to put in the blog. Anyway, I've been promising the GB Fins I'd put a few pictures up so they get the blog today:

Ernie pursues a stick    Val in uniform    engineer's dream

Sat. September 11: Kathy (sister-in-law, not rodent): "Oh, by the way, can you please think of another way to describe me? I am not ready to be an 'elder Farnell'." (See the September 4 entry from Houghton Lake.) And she's right! Kathy is the GG's sister and she's married to Doug. They are anything but old and decrepit! They run a successful business and are otherwise busy with their new house, family, travel and more stuff than I can keep up to date with. And they are always good fun!

I'm gonna grab this opportunity to say that Kathy has always been an inspiration to me, particularly in the area of child-rearing, something I was woefully unprepared for when I became a 30-year-old first time mother with absolutely *no* experience dealing with children. I was a pretty smart-alecky kid, one of those who had never changed a diaper. I managed to bumble through it all somehow (it helps when your husband is one of 10 kids) but I was always impressed by how Kathy handled her kids -- and heck, everybody else's kids too. She made it all look so easy and fun and there've been lots of times when I have thought "I wonder how Kathy would handle this." My kids would have faced a much bigger challenge to turn out as well as they have if I hadn't had a few good role models and Kathy is one of the best. But it would be a gross understatement to say that raising children is the only thing she's good at!

Anyway, the day I wrote that blog, I was trying to recount some of the more humorous parts of the day. It was great that Kathy and Doug stopped by and I didn't want to leave their visit out of the blog. But, to tell the truth, it was just a very pleasant visit sitting around talking in the gorgeous warm sunshine, and warm sunshine has been in short supply this summer :-) Nobody careered (careened?) wildly around the yard on cat skis or launched themselves off the end of the dock in hot pursuit of a good stick. So, as nice as it was, there wasn't anything much to write about, hence I just wrote something lame. Then, since I had to connect via the outdoor internet cafe, I never got back on and edited it in my usual frantic, anal sort of way.

Anyway, you guys ROCK ON! And good luck to Steve, our 20-something Farnell nephew who's currently on the road heading to Seattle.

Sun. September 12: Is it ADD? Is Alzheimer's setting in already? A 3rd theory was suggested by my college junior when I complained that I could read something at home and understand it and then get into a classroom and sit there with my mouth open and a dumb look on my face when a question is asked about it. She said something like, "Oh, I have that problem too. You probably just read too fast!" Could that be right?

Anyway, is it easy? No, it is not! (No, I did not expect it to be.) I have to read. I have to write. I have to think. I have to take notes while I'm reading. It's the only way I can slow down (yes, Liz is prob'ly right) enough to retain anything.

Looking ahead at the week to come, I decided that I needed to spend *all* day yesterday studying so that I'd have the flexibility during the week to react to whatever last minute going-to-Spain stuff came at me (and spend time with Liz) *plus* help get the YAG 2004-05 season off to a smooth start. And I did spend all day studying. And guess what? I was *tired* at the end of the day! Just about as tired as if I had done a 15-mile kayak trip.

These teachers know what they are doing. And plenty of the other students sure have it over me when it comes to class participation. How do they pull stuff out of their heads and turn it into complete sentences? I cannot usually even manage to say "hello" on the telephone without garbling it. Even when I *know* something, it's at least an even bet that I will not be able to pull enough of the right words outta that soup in my brain to make a complete, intelligible sentence.

Mon. September 13: A phone Luddite finally succumbs: 734-417-1951.

Tue. September 14: So, with the departure to Spain less than 48 hours away, do ya think the Lizard is working on packing? Nooooo, she is out on the web fart-horsing around looking for information on our "fart-horsen" (Farquharson clan) ancestors. (This entry is aimed at Fins in general and directly at Grandaddy, so, Old Man, you had better not be standing way over there at the door to the "generator" room when the Commander reads it.)

Wed. September 15: I definitely have to try to get onto the Oprah Winfrey Show! My car does not look as if it has been in a gunfight. Actually, my car is *beautiful*! After all, it has been repainted twice -- once after the tornado hit it and again after the tree fell on it. But increasingly often, I have this almost overwhelming urge to just drive the dern thing into the river. It's okay, I can swim. You cannot grow up on a Great Lake and not learn how to swim. Anyway, I do not want a Pontiac. Apologies to the Pontiac I got my driver's license on. May it rest in peace. But I figure I could sell a $28K new car for enough to buy what I really want, which is a little 5-speed manual Honda Civic. My minivan is 8 years old. It has almost 100K on it. I do not need a minivan any more. I am not a Soccer Mom any more. Oh wait, I never *was* a Soccer Mom. I definitely have to try to get onto the Oprah Winfrey Show. I have missed the boat. Okay, end of rant!

Thu. September 16: Where's my car? :-(

It had to happen sometime. I got finished with my in-class assignment and homework early and since today's the day Liz leaves for Spain, I left class early. (Yes, it's okay to do that and I wasn't done early because I'm extra smart, it's just that I have a very little bit of previous experience in PhotoShop, which is what the class is about ;-) Anyway, I got out to the parking lot and COULD NOT FIND MY CAR! Do y'all have any idea how many dark green/dark blue/black Honda Accords there are out there? Of every vintage. Plus there are Honda Civics in just about the same colors. *My* Honda Accord currently has a green pinwheel in the back window. I walked around for what must have been 10 minutes. I could not find it. I pushed the panic button (hmm, this is what that button is for, I had always thought it was just a way to wake up the Burkes early in the morning). Nothing. I was trying really hard not to get panicky. It couldn't actually be stolen, could it? Why would anyone want it? I mean, it's a really great car (unlike that other one I sometimes blog about), but there are gazillions of them out there. And I had locked it, I remembered beeping it. Tears were starting to form. I really didn't want to spend the rest of the day fiddling around with the police, etc. And then. This older African-American gentleman was doing some garden work there in the parking lot. He said, "what's wrong?" I said, "I can't find my car." (I was trying to laugh while I said it but I'm sure I sounded a little frantic.) And then, he pointed and said, "Well, you were going across the parking lot that way this morning. So you are over there. Now, God bless." And guess what? He was right. Over there was my own dark green Honda Accord with the green pinwheel in the back window. So, god bless you too, Mr. Maintenance Man.

Fri. September 17: For a while yesterday, I couldn't find my car. Today I don't know where my baby is. Yesterday was airplane day. We dropped our lizard off at Metro at around 5 yesterday and we will not hear from her until she gets to some kind of internet access. I can't just call her cell phone, well I could, but I'd just be phoning myself, because it's sitting on the ledge by the front door. She'll get a new one in Spain.

Yesterday afternoon I was given the task of sewing a zipper into a purse she had bought for the trip. She knows that hand-sewing calms me down, even though this particular job required that I pull the needle through via a pair of bead pliers (*need* to find some time to do some beadwork!). I did pretty okay at the airport. I hate to wait around, so while they were checking baggage (we drove Lexy too and they met up with a couple other kids at the check-in), I kept myself busy by hunting around unsuccessfully for an ATM. Hey Liz, didn't your mother ever tell you to carry more than $15 cash with you on an international flight? Guess not :-/ but plastic does rule the world these days and she's got plenty of that. And then, well, I can't blog about it but it wasn't without tears, and the GG said, "we need to go," and we got into the honda and drove home.

The itinerary is Amsterdam to Madrid, where the kids will meet their program director, then on to Cáceres, by bus, she thought but wasn't sure. Liz will be fine. She is probably a little nervous about living with another family but, as a neighbor recently said, "it's hard to believe someone like Liz will have any trouble getting along." I've updated the study abroad info. I'll blog again when I hear from her. And I hope she will send pictures and do some guest blogs while she's over there. That way y'all can have a little break from all of my rantings and ravings.

Oh, yeah, she left me her desk because she thinks it is awful (aesthetically speaking) for me to study in the kitchen. And she left me Macbeth, a really cool sweatshirt, because she says they don't wear sweatshirts in Spain. And I am wearing Macbeth this morning, with that really cool (but old) "Mexican" (but really came from Hudson's back in the day) skirt that always gets me a lot of attention >:->>

So now, I am gonna call up a friend of mine who recently had some surgery and, if she's up to it, I'm gonna take her some coffee. Hey Commander aka The Birch Pt. Beach Grammar Nazi, was that the correct usage of "take"? >:->>

Sat. September 18: Arrival in Cáceres. Well, I don't exactly know *when* she got there but today at 11:38 AM Ann Arbor/5:38 PM Spain, we got a quick call from Lizard. I don't know much yet, she couldn't talk long. It is hot there. Her host family is really nice. Spanish is okay, her host family repeats stuff if she doesn't understand it. Mouse thought to ask that, I was in my usual fog.

Sun. September 19: Boring day, boring blog ;-) Kayaked the Huron River from Portage Lake to Strawberry Lake and back. Could this be the last time for this year? This is Michigan, who knows what the weather will do next. Homework in the back yard but didn't get much done emailing back and forth the whole time w/ my bro'. Then downtown for shoes with Mouse, confusing Our Favorite Shoe Store Clerk once again -- this time he thought Mouse was Liz. Speaking of Liz, she's getting settled in in Spain. She has a cell phone, has emailed us and is learning how to get around via her feet and the bus. Email me if you want her email address(es).

Mon. September 20: How to call Spain (not) editorial comments in []:

1st attempt, Verizon Wireless cell phone:

    Welcome to Verizon Wireless!
    Direct dial calls to international numbers are restricted.
    Please contact a long distance operator or use a calling card to place these cards.
    [um, I don't even know what ees that?]
    For further assistance please call
    10 C 30 [C???!]
    7 [ye-e-ah, each line is a different voice]

2nd attempt, land line, direct dial:

    beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep, etc., etc., ad nauseam

3rd attempt, land line, "operator assisted":

    dit-TWONNNNG! AT&T!
    Please enter your calling card number & PIN or major credit card number with 4-digit expiration date NOW!
    Thank you for using AT & T
    Your international call cannot be completed as dialed.
    Please check the number and dial again or call your operator for assistance.
    071P [duh?]

4th attempt, operator placed call:

    [hmmm, how do I call an operator (yeah, I know this is dumb)]
    Operator Dee. How may I help you?
    How do I get the international operator?
    Well, [sounding incredulous that anyone could be so ignorant] just dial 00.
    Long confusing menu leading to more long confusing menus, y'all are spared the details.
    Finally, a person!!
    Do you want me to place the call at a higher rate?
    What is the number you are trying to dial?
    SPRONG! SPRONG! Hi mommy!

What's been omitted from this little story is all the travels around the web it took to find the country and city code and how to put all of the numbers together in the right order with the right prefix, etc. Plus looking up in the phone book how to call various operators, etc. (yes, I *know*. I am the internet queen. I hate phones! Even have nightmares about them ;-)

Tue. September 21: Stress dreams?

  1. Cats everywhere! Inside, outside, Carbeck house merged with the old Superior St. house, Lincoln School merged with WCC. Cats all over the place, sleeping, grooming, eating, hunting, etc. What the heck? I'm not afraid of cats. The last cat I had a relationship with was Mike/Muksaslouie and, yeah, he would bite sometimes, but only if legitimately aggravated.
  2. Houghton Lake. No nightmare there, you say? Well, actually, it is a little nightmarish with all the deconstruction that's been done. But that had little to do with the nightmare in question which was that we drove into the yard about 15 minutes before I had to be at my first class and I was trying to figure out how I was going to take a shower and get all the way to WCC on time -- in the POC, no less. Lurch, lurch, lurch, brake light, lurch.
  3. Where's my powerbook? Went into the ladies room at WCC to find a *male* in there (singing and doing his business). Beat a hasty retreat, *ran* to my class, discovered my powerbook was not in my bag. Back to the bathroom, wading through all kinds of people who wouldn't get out of my way (hey, this reminds me of the grocery store!), to find two women in there playing with a powerbook. Grabbed it and got yelled at. It wasn't mine. Saw mine on the counter by the sink, complete with a post-it note from Mouse on it. But when I opened it up, the guts were gone! Hey, this is *not* real, WAKE UP!

All this between 5 and 5:30 AM today. I dunno what this is all about, I don't really think it is about school. It is definitely a challenge to keep up with all of the work but at least I'm *trying* to get with the program. And I'm *starting* to retain just enough information that I actually think about some of the material even when I don't really have to. I *think* that's positive...

And my underwear haven't fallen off in class yet. Onward and upward!

Wed. September 22: I am gonna get outta this hot seat whatever it takes. Even if it means a loss in income and the prospect of having to drive the dern POC until I die -- or until some kind of employment materializes that I both *want* to do and am *good* at. So, if you have problems or complaints, please email somebody else. And don't call at all. It probably wasn't my decision to make and I may not even agree with it. Oooh, I guess I am cruising pretty close to the edge this week -- I'm sure I'll get myself into trouble yet >:->>

Thu. September 23: Sticky notes proclaiming "EGGS!" blanket the Carbeck kitchen, leading authorities to believe that Alfonzo the Watermelon is once again haunting the premises. He is presumed to be armed and dangereuse. Be on the lookout for flying seeds!

Fri. September 24: Today's entry is re Wednesday's blog and I suppose Tuesday's qualifies too ;-) Y'all, please don't take me toooooo seriously when I write something that sounds cranky, stressed out, or as if I were in the "depths of despair" (Lizard/Mouse, what movie is that from? ;-) Occasionally, I *am* in the depths of despair -- for 5 minutes or a couple of hours or whatever (don't y'all get that way too?). It usually doesn't last. I cannot keep myself down all that long. And, this week, there was only one little section of my life that was making me absolutely stark-raving CRAZY! Okay, make that two, driving the POC and paying its repair bills is always conducive to lunacy. Kevin Liu, come back into my life!

But, really, I am okay. I do need an "agenda" (translate, "career"). But I do not want to teach. Anything. Substitute, music, anything. Teachers have the roughest job on earth! My cousin has made a career switch into education. I think she is subbing right now. She is a good teacher. She cares about those kids. She has some fantastic stories to tell. But I do not know how a person of her stratospheric IQ (or whatever you call it) can find the patience to deal with the huge continuum of non-education-related agendas she encounters among the kids she has to teach every day. Not to mention all the issues of the self-involved parents that largely populate 21st century America. It doesn't end with K-12 either. My profs at the community college obviously have to deal with some of those same issues. But those last two sentences represent other blogs for other days.

No thanks! I'm a "senior" this year. I've volunteered for the public schools for 16 years now plus co-op nursery school. I've done all kids of stuff and maybe I'll blog about some of *that* some day too. This is my last year. I am the Commie High PTO treasurer. It's an easy job. I can do it standing on my head. And that's good. Because I am tired. I enjoyed going to my last high school capsule night ever, hearing teachers and other parents say nice things about my kid (who deserves the praise btw). But I will be glad to be done with it all. The last thing I want to do is teach!

Well, that was quite a long, jumbled up ramble and I'm sorry to have subjected y'all to it but I'm gonna quit without my usual anal editing and go take a walk so I don't fall asleep before the party tonight ;-)

Sat. September 25: Whew! I have the homework done for all classes next week. I have the reading done for all classes next week (and I actually *remember* some of it -- I think). I've done a draft for the 2 classes in which I have writing assignments due next week. And I have the research mostly done and the beginnings of a draft for the project due October 5. NOW, I get to finish the laundry, finish cleaning the bathroom, and clean the filthy kitchen floor (yeah Mouse, I heard you and your midnight baking buddies commenting on that). If I get really industrious, I might vacuum a couple of rooms and eradicate a few shambling mounds. Busman's holiday!

(Um, actually, I'm scared to death I'm forgetting something!)

Sun. September 26: I have *finally* completed the task of winding the skein of blue yarn that has been wrapped around a lampshade for the last four months into a ball. I had to detach the gauge swatch from it in the process. But the lampshade is free once again. (Obviously, this has not been an exciting day ;-)

Mon. September 27: Today...

Project that's due next Tuesday? No progress so far today :-/ I am *not* going to get into the habit of waiting until the night before to do the project and have to stay up all night like the teeny-boppers do!

Tue. September 28: So, I have acquired yet another job title, "Yarn Store Recycling Processor."

Sincerely Yours,
Garbage Woman

Wed. September 29: Well, okay, this stuff came from something *you* forwarded to me, so, back at ya:

    | | Anne is an extremist. No middle ground. She does not like to go slow.

Yeah, man! I am not good at waiting around. 'bout time you figured that out.

    | | My high-strung wife gets really cranky if I call her anything but Anne.

Well there *are* some nicknames that I *do* tolerate (and I'm gonna ignore the "high-strung" comment for now, I'm not really sure that's such a *bad* thing anyway):

Banana(nananananana....) Bananoid Anne Banan
Volcano Mama
(& the Red Hot Lava Girls)
Virtual Mom Kayakwoman54
(no that's not my age)
Black Thumb Banana Mama Muskellunge Garbage Woman

But "The Brain of Lincoln School" does *not* bring back positive memories ;-) And "BABY"??? YEEK! We do not even need to GO there, do we? I do know what The Commander thinks of that as a nickname for a woman!

But I like what Duncan (of Cameron Comics) said the best:

    | Anne sounds like a real force of nature.

Rock on! I'll update this with a link to *his* website when the GG gets home. I can't find it and all I came up with on Google was some other Duncan Cameron having a G&T at the South Pole or some place. Lots of fun but not *our* Duncan Cameron! Well, okay, it isn't Duncan's *personal* site but it is one that he has a significant interest in: sailing.

Thu. September 30: Political blog, anyone? (Mark?)

Well, I think I've actually got one brewing after an event of yesterday but it'll have to wait, because right now I have to go get a high maintenance parent off my back and then we're going to a party and the GG is all nervous that we'll be late. So, Ciao.

And Marky, you can just go on out and hug your Bush/Cheney yard sign and smile for the camera, okay? >:->> Bwahahahahaha!