August 2005 Birch Pt. Beach Blog

July 05 | September 05

Mon. August 1: 62 years? Holy kee-reist! And is this the right day? Are we sure it isn't July 31st? Sheesh! None of us can ever remember. Anyway, no one's going to Yellowknife this year. So hit it kids: Happy anniversary to you. Happy anniversary to you. Happy anniversary dear Octogenarians. Happy anniversary to yoooooooouuuuuUUUU!

Tue. August 2: Well, let's see. After one of the yellow kayaks and I "chased" that big sailboat out of the bay this morning and I retrieved my vee-hickle from being AWOL down at Pete's house, I went to the art fair. The Sault Ste. Siberia art fair is much much easier to deal with than the Ann Arbor art fair but this year I think it was just about as hot and muggy. My favorite jeweler is not around any more and Anny Hubbard wasn't there or if she was I didn't see her so I didn't have any difficult decisions to make. Of course, I already have several Anny Hubbards sitting around my house un-framed and I have laid down the law with myself that I cannot collect any more until they are framed! Anyway, I didn't spend any money at all. I already have too much clutter. Sigh. And most jewelry just gets in my way. So I dropped the octogenarians off at their house and high-tailed it back out here and hit the beach, where it was very hot and sunny so I kayaked around Cedar Pt. into Mosquito Bay. Watched the Saginaw go up and the Algonorth go down, then headed back and went swimming to try to cool off. Settled back into Harry Potter (book 4 page 535, chugga chugga chugga) and then Bubs came down and got in the water and then there was this weird noise like maybe a tsunami or something but it turned out to be heavy rain heading across the bay so we got flushed out and now I am blahgging on the deck with hummingbirds buzzing around. And cogitating on whether I oughtta go in and help out with the garbage, since it sounds like it is about to get carted up to the main road. Or maybe not? Sincerely yours, Garbage Woman, enjoying a busman's holiday >:->>

Wed. August 3: Harry, 7-ish this morning: "Did you hear the news today?" Well, I hadn't and knowing Harry, I wasn't quite sure what was coming next. What kind of horrible thing had happened that I'd missed? Did hostile aliens invade Harbor Springs? Or was it just that the Sault Ste. Siberia Glen's had put a huge blow-up crab on its roof? I did not know. Well. Are you waiting with bated breath? It turned out that there was a heat index advisory in effect until 8 PM for the eastern UP and northern lower Michigan. Apparently it is hotter here than it is "down there" but I bet Lizard Breath might argue with that since she's suffering in the swampy hot carbeck house right now.

Anyway, we drove down to Drummond Island to look around and visit Sally and Bernie and Steven and Scott. We ate lunch at the beach at Glen Cove and the GG and I walked around a few rocky mini-peninsulas and back via a road that would be more fun in a jeep than a honda accord. And there were a bunch of mourning cloak (I think) butterflies feeding on a dead frog and the GG was worried that they'd freak me out but that species doesn't bother me. Anyway, it was a great time. I don't know why I've never been to Drummond before. Probably because every time my parents took us over in that area of the UP on our sometimes interminable-seeming Sunday drives, we'd get to DeTour and there'd be a ferry there and us kids would be all excited about the prospect of taking a *ferry* to an *island* but the parents would squelch that pretty fast because it cost actual *money* to go over there. Actually, I never visited Sugar Island when I was a kid either even though I watched that ferry go across and back at least a gazillion bazillion times from Clyde's Drive In. And nowadays, since I have been to Sugar Island a couple of times, I much prefer watching it from Clyde's Drive In.

And then we came back and it is hotter than Hades here and I went down to the beach and Radical Betty and I were out in the water and we saw some little bodies down by the pond and it turned out to be the triplets. And now it's evening and Bubs is here looking for gossip and so far, most of the gossip involves minor little boring routine things that the GG witnessed Bubs doing (like cleaning sand off her feet, etc.) I'm tired. I think I will do the laundromat tomorrow. I hope you-know-who is not there because I don't feel like making small talk much these days, especially with people whose politics are way more rigid than mine are...

Thu. August 4: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from The Commander to Lizard Breath.

The real news is that I decree that we have changed laundromats. Laundry is serious business here at the beach. I do it approximately once a week. I always have enough beach towels and sheets and clothing for varying numbers of people to fill at least 2 triple loaders and 1-2 smaller washers for "delicates" or whatever. I do not like to wait. I try to get there right at 8 AM when it opens and I do not waste time. Who the heck wants to spend the day in the laundromat when you can be on the beach and/or reading Harry Potter. Or playing the flute. Or cleaning the bathroom. Or blahgging. Or whatever. But I was a little slow today. I got there at 8:21 AM. 21 minutes after the place was supposed to open. There was no sign of life. Dark. Closed. That was the last straw. Back in the day, there was a person by the name of Mrs. Piche who ran that laundromat. The machines worked and you could always get change out of the change machine and Mrs. Piche did not make any bones about politely but firmly correcting misbehavior from wayward urchins, as my then rug rats found out during a little sibling scuffle one day. I forget exactly when she left but there has been a series of rather non-descript proprietors there since then and more and more washers and dryers seem to be out of order every time I go there. And the change machine? I've learned to get my quarters from National City. When you go through a couple rolls of quarters in one session, you cannot mess around. But closed at 8:21 AM? That was it. The last straw. Why was it not open? When would it open? Was it closed for good? I did not want to sit around in the plaza waiting to find out. I decree that our new laundromat is the one down by the locks. It was open when I got there. Nobody was there but the proprietor, who was seated in a prominent position in front of the TV. Things were arranged a little differently but they did have triple-loaders. There was even a pot of coffee "for customers only, no loiterers." That sealed the deal. I'm not going to the plaza again. Done. Maybe I can get my new laundromat to install wireless internet...

Blam. Done with Harry Potter book 4. With The Commander snapping at my heels waiting for it. Now I'm into book 5, about page 70 or so. Wherever it is that Sirius reveals that the Order of the Phoenix is meeting at his family's house. Kids, can I leave books 5-6 up here for The Commander to read? She's hooked.

Fri. August 5: Pocketa pocketa skreek-k-k-k-k skrawk-k-k-k-k. This here vee-hickle does not zip, zap or vroom any more. Well, actually I'm not sure if it ever did vroom. So go ahead and pass me if you want. Just leave me in the dust. Freedom and independence are important and 50 mph is not gonna cramp my style.

Sat. August 6: News from the hot, swampy Carbeck house: Mus musculus, family muridae, order rodentia, class mammalia, phylum chordata, kingdom animalia. Conservation status: secure. In my basement. Hmmm, do I want to go home? >:->>

Sun. August 7: A rather eventful day of small occurrences:

Mon. August 8: Hem hem. The High Inquisitor of Birch Point Beach commences to conduct an investigation into the disappearance of Harry Potter, book 6! It is a well known, highly publicized fact that Volcano Mama aka Garbage Woman had a plan to read all 6 volumes of Harry Potter while at the beach this summer. A woman who has not had time to read anything but a textbook in over a year. Who has allowed issues of The New Yorker to stack up, unread, for approximately two years. Who can barely manage to skim through the daily newspaper. A woman starved for some good, light, escape reading. So. I am finished with book 5. Where is book 6? Elizardbreath left it on my bed when she went back to Megalopolis. It was sighted on the bookshelf under the ladder after she left. What servant of the Dark Lord took it upon themselves to decide we didn't need it here and remove it from the premises? Hem hem. Five weeks.

And apropros of nothing, as Harry would say, yesterday was Harry's birthday and he didn't say anything about it and I forgot about it! I do not know exactly how old he is and if I did I probably wouldn't publish it. HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARRY!

Oh yeah. One more thing I just thought of. There was a hummingbird on the beach today. Is that a usual kind of occurrence? I've never seen one there before.

Tue. August 9: Kalamazoo College (excerpted from letter to parents): "One day [your student] is incredibly independent, can make all her decisions herself and views any discussion with you as intrusive and patronizing. Before you can catch your breath, [your student] is hoping that you will help pick her First-Year Seminar and all the rest of her classes, decide on her major, buy all her clothes and call her roommate."

Roight. Mouse, 4th grade: "*You* KEEP yourself OUT of *my* business." That emphatic statement was in response to a very tentative inquiry into the status of one-a them thar projecti horribili ('scuse my "Latin," please ;-) that never seem to get started until the absolute last fraction of a nano-second before the due date. With all due respect to the well-meaning folks who wrote the letter, I never even *saw* the list of First-Year Seminars, I don't know what she's planning for classes or a major and the idea of *me* helping her buy clothes is enough to induce a case of hives. I *have* been asked if I will reimburse her for things she purchases for her dorm room. Roommate? Hmmm... But that subject will not be mine to blahg about.

(Oh, hahaha. With all the talk about Harry Potter, I must make the editorial comment that the person to whom I wished a belated happy birthday to yesterday is My Dear Uncle Harry, *not* Harry Potter. Master Potter's birthday is, of course, on July 31.)

Wed. August 10: Well, I am trying to blahg but The Commander is talking and I cannot concentrate on writing so I won't and anyway the only thing I could think to write about today was dead birds so I will guess it is better I do not bother :-)

Thu. August 11: Today was my last day alone here. In this episode anyway. If you can call hanging around with a couple of octogenarians "alone." So, what did I do? Walked the beach a few times. Coffee and political commentary ($65-what? a barrel) with The Grinch and Radical Betty. Laundry. Gasoline ($2-what? a gallon). Groceries. Kayak into Mosquito Bay and back. Beach. More beach. Kibbitz about various boats of all sizes with Harry and Bubs. Still more beach. Karen and Pengo and Sam and Ernie and Alfred the Great arrive. I'm not alone anymore. Beer on beach. With Karen. Watch dogs carouse around and bark at innocent people like Ron and Pat. Kayak around Guano Island. Swim. Watch while Karen cleans off the grill that prob'ly hasn't been cleaned off all summer. Make drinks. Blahg. We're about to get inundated. Terri, Sally and Anastasia this evening. Val and Alex late. GG and Lizard Breath tomorrow. I needed to be alone for a while and I was. I'm not alone anymore. But I'm ready to not be alone.

Fri. August 12: "Uh, do either of you remember which side of the Pickle Finger the boats pass on?" "Yikes, we are in the channel here aren't we?" "And that big 1000-footer is coming down the pike." That was me, Karen and Pengo Janetto in kayaks in the middle of the shipping channel in the upper St. Mary's River with the St. Clair, a 1000-foot freighter, coming down the pike. Today would've been Jim's 48th birthday and a big crowd of people are here to celebrate his life and scatter his ashes in various places around the area.

Since it was a calm day and Jim had been a boat owner ever since the day us kids dug the leaky old S. S. Top Drawer out of the sand down by the pond, we took off this afternoon toward Cedar Point with a ziplock bag of ashes. We took turns scattering some of them off the end of the point and then somebody (Karen, I think ;-) had the brilliant idea that we could just scoot over to the Pickle Finger from there. We were all game. So we took off. But as we got closer and closer and the St. Clair was coming farther and farther down the pike, we all individually and privately started speculating. Are we in the channel or not? The green buoys mark the edge of the channel, right? Well, we are inside the green buoys, so I guess we are in the channel. Yeek, the St. Clair is also in the channel. Which side of the Pickle Finger do the boats pass on? How many million boats have we watched go up and down the channel since forever and why the heck can we not remember which side of the Pickle Finger they go on? Anyway, we figured that the St. Clair would at least not *hit* the Pickle Finger and although it was a *long* haul from Cedar Point, we managed to reach the Pickle Finger before the St. Clair got quite down to our part of the channel. So we hung on to the Pickle Finger for dear life until the boat went by. Figuratively speaking, that is. Actually it was pretty darn cool, almost as if Jim had ordered a freighter to pass us. We, or I at least, do not really believe in that kinda stuff but it was a good coincidence.

And now, we have had a huge 19-person, 3-dog party. 28 legs in all. We've had renditions of Argie Bargle and What a Weird Dream, shades of birthdays past. We've had memories of the 4th of July parade on the back road when Jim refused to wear his vee-hickle costume. And, sheesh, I forget what else. A bunch of people went out to sprinkle some more ashes around the garage. I didn't go out there. I'll probably be involved in some more ash scattering before I'm through. But I went to the Pickle Finger today and I think there are enough people at the garage that I do not need to be there.

Sat. August 13: Last day in this episode. So what did we do? Karen and I walked up and did the new conservancy trail on the old Read Corp. land this morning. And we scattered ashes near the old beaver pond. And I did the walk again later with Terri, Liz, Val, Alex and Pengie. And tonight we scattered ashes in places along the beach that we all thought would be particularly important to Jim. We are all tired. And, as always, I wish there was even just one more day here. I do not want to go back to Megalopolis tomorrow. I know that I'll find myself in the line at Kroger or the Saline Rd. Meijer or the Jackson Rd. Meijer, wherever I end up going. And with my luck, the person in front of me will get their driver's license stuck in the bowels of the conveyer belt so that some pea-brained manager type person has to come with a bunch of tools and dig it out. And I won't be able to switch to the the next lane because my groceries will already be on the conveyor belt. I'll be stuck. In any case, I'll have to walk out onto the scorching hot tarmac of the grocery store parking lot wishing I was on Gogomain Road or the Curley Lewis Highway or somewhere again. (Actually, Curley Lewis's character is in dispute around here but the road that's named after him is beautiful.) Anyway, of course I'll just have to shift gears back into my other so-called life because that *is* life. I love it here. I love it in Megalopolis. I have a really hard time leaving here for Megalopolis. I have an equally hard time leaving Megalopolis for here. I guess it is my lot in life to be torn between the two. Not to mention having Houghton Lake to complicate things further. But Val and Alex just came up from swimming in the almost dark and I'm gonna quit for the night. See all of you so-called Yoopers in the next so-called episode.

Sun. August 14: Well, I am back in Megalopolis but that is too surreal to blahg about, maybe sometime tomorrow if that mountain of paperwork doesn't smother me. Double small-private-liberal-arts-college tuition bills are buried in there somewhere, ready to STAB me when I least suspect it >:->> Why the heck was I ever afraid of werewolves and vampires? Anyway, instead I am announcing our nephew Tim's live journal. (There is also a link on the left, underneath "GB Fins.") He is a favorite cousin of Elizardbreath and Mouse, a highly intelligent 20-something young man who is a very talented creative writer. Some of his earlier writings reside handwritten in some of the Houghton Lake logs.

And what is a Live Journal? A few months ago, Elizardbreath asked me if I knew what Live Journals were. Well, Live Journals are basically blogs, more or less like this boring blahg, except they have "comment pages," where people can leave comments and potentially get up to all kinds of hi-jinks with the blahger. Anybody can get one. Me, you, The Commander, Roberta, Bubs, Radical Betty. It's interesting to think what kind of hi-jinks those last four along with their friends and a few other relatives could get up to.

Anyway, my little encounter with Live Journal occurred when I was searching for song lyrics a couple years ago. I kept hearing this absolutely ridiculous-sounding song on the radio about some guy who was apparently being inundated with chimpanzee postcards from all over the world and I couldn't understand all the lyrics and it was driving me nuts. Like, what *are* they singing about? So finally, I googled some of the lyrics I *could* understand and I ended up at somebody's Live Journal where I found out that the song was by the Bare Naked Ladies. But perhaps more interesting was that the person with the journal turned out to be involved in a little "community" or whatever you want to call it of trans-sexuals. Liz said something like, "yeah Mom, that must have been an obscure little corner of Live Journal and only somebody like *you* would end up there." And she is probably roight.

Anyway, Tim writes some interesting stuff and I sincerely doubt y'all will end up in the same corner of Live Journal that I did whilst looking for Bare Naked Ladies lyrics. And on a little tangent, we have a little chicken dish here called Bare Laked Nady Chicken (that's not mis-spelled) created by Liz and some of her friends a few years ago. Maybe I'll blahg that someday.

Mon. August 15: Burping Tregurtha and other UP adventures?

Coming back from being in the UP for 3 weeks makes you feel a little like you've been on the moon or somewhere. So, what has changed here? Certainly not a whole lot around the house. Things the refrigerator is currently overflowing with: pickles and pickle-like products, mustards of all colors, yogurt and applesauce. Eat up, you guys. And the bathroom seems to be sprouting shampoo, conditioner and "body wash" type products at an unprecedented rate. Today, after interviewing one 20-year-old, I managed to eliminate exactly one partially empty tube of some kind of oatmeal bath stuff and one razor. What about the other 20 or so bottles, tubes and razors? I cannot keep up. I pine for the days when there was *one* bottle of Suave shampoo, *one* bar of regular old Dial soap and *maybe* one razor. *Occasionally* when my hair was at its absolute total end-of-winter rat's-nest worst, I might splurge on a bottle of Suave conditioner. Kee-reist, soap is soap! But a few things around and about my regular beat have changed and mostly for the better. Wireless internet has finally arrived at Barry Bagels, along with new furniture. I like the wireless, I haven't decided about the furniture. The Kroger u-scan now lets me code my own produce in instead of making me wait for the clerk to get rid of whatever problem customer is painstakingly arguing with her about some "special" price so she can look at what I have on the scanner and punch it in. There are little pictures to choose from and everything. Red potatoes or long white potatoes? Etc., etc. Staples has come to Westgate! Or, at least I think it has. I cannot figure out if it's open yet or not. It kind of looks open but there's a huge cardboard sign haphazardly stationed outside the front door saying CLOSED UNTIL AUGUST. It *is* August, is it not? I drove by it about four times this morning and still couldn't figure it out. Anyway, it says it has a "copy/print" center and my hopes are high that I will not have to make quite so many trips out to Office Max. Fuel economy and an increase in sanity. Stadium Blvd.? No change there. Still a horrible, torn-up mess.

Anyway, Elizabeth reminded me about burping Tregurtha, something my brother used to do that I had *totally* forgotten about. Luckily, we have Valdemort to carry on that fine tradition!

Tue. August 16: Whhhoooooof! I think that shopping is probably the activity that -- hands down -- tires me out more completely than anything else on earth. I can get up in the morning, walk 3 miles, kayak 12, then walk 3 more miles late in the afternoon and I'll be tired but it'll be that good kind of fuzzy-around-the-edges tired. After a couple hours of shopping, I just get that raggedy-nothing-left feeling. I brought this on myself. I volunteered to take Mouse "college shopping", you know, sheets and towels and laundry baskets and things. (Oh, and maybe a few clothing items too but don't tell anyone.) She had really planned on doing this herself and getting me to reimburse her. But then she told one of her friends about that plan and he said something like, "Mouse, do you not realize that every mother wants to do this with her kid?" And Mouse said something like, "Jeremy, do you not remember what *my* mother is like?" And I forget what Mouse said his response was but today Mouse and I went out and shopped until we (or I anyway) dropped.

Y'know, you cannot just take the sheets you already have on the twin bed you've been sleeping on since forever to college, because the beds in the college dorms are "twin X-long" and they don't fit. I guess those beds accommodate people like Alex. But it is probably good that we got Mouse new sheets because I'm sure the sheets she has had for the last umpteen million years are about to shred anyway. But none of this is easily bought. This kid is a fiber artist and works in the yarn business. She knows fiber and she must've been born with extra rods and cones in her eyes because she doesn't just go for whatever color is eye-catching and cool. Colors were very closely scrutinized. Is it pink? I hate pink but this "pink" isn't too bad. How much yellow or green or blue or whatever does it have in it? *Then* she has to touch all of it. Does it feel soft or rough or sheesh, I do not know all of the words here. She did not get pink. She hates pink. ROSPTL (rose petal) was almost acceptable but she chose sage. Very pretty but prob'ly not what most college kids will choose with all those wild colors out there.

Anyway, that is certainly not all we bought and we did not get her any towels yet because the fiber artist went into overdrive and the mom got extremely bored ;-) I won't detail what else we bought. Y'all are already bored by this drivel about shopping :-) Stuff. And clothes. And we were in the Gap over there at the mall and Mouse was nitzing around about sizes (0, 1 or 2 anyone?) and I found the underwear section of the store and I was kinda intrigued since I am prone to buy underwear at Walmart or Target or wherever I happen to be. But then I heard a familiar voice. Not Mouse. A person who lives a block or so away from me who I avoid if I see her outside when I am walking because she is a compulsive talker and I cannot get away from her!!! She WORKS there. She was helping Mouse. When Mouse took a whole bunch of sizes/styles of the same corduroy pants into a dressing room and, thinking it was gonna be a while, I said something like, "I shoulda brought my computer in here," she told me to CHILL (or something like that, I think she's even older than I am) and THEN SHE SAID SHE WORKED IN THE UNDERWEAR PART OF THE STORE. Well, I did chill. I "read" two issues of the magazine "Lucky, the magazine about shopping" and eventually we got outta there without any incident except whatever happened to my bank balance, which I am not sure I really want to know. I wonder if I'll go back to the underwear store...

And then there was Froggy!! I am not sure why he was invited on this shopping trip. He was unruly all day. He licked me every time I parked the car. And when we got home, he got so drunk on frog juice that Elizardbreath had to straightjacket him.

Wed. August 17: Rrrrrrg. I have been stuck somewhere inside Microsoft Excel *all* day today but even if I could figure out how to climb out, I am not sure that I would want to, since it sounds like a terrarium out there. Ooh ooh ooh ah ah ah ch ch ch-ch-chch dr-r-r-r-r-rr grok grok grok bagawk!

Thu. August 18: In the first place, I do not know why I had to put "Microsoft" in front of "Excel" yesterday. I've been messing around with Excel forever, since it was called Visicalc and I dunno if Microsoft was even around in a viable way. Lotus 1-2-3 notwithstanding, Excel is synonymous(e) with "spreadsheet."

But I finally found my way out of Excel and I am 99% done with the Commie High treasury. I just have to nitpick my records a bit more and write some informal notes. It's almost unbelievable that we've found somebody to take it over but we have and I'm officially done with it on Tuesday. I think it'll be my last treasury, at least for now. I did my first one back in 1991-92 when Mouse was in the 4-year-old class at Stone School Co-op. The GG had been the president the previous 2 years, including one year when we didn't have *any* kids in the nursery school. Lizard Breath was in kindergarten and Mouse wasn't old enough yet. Some kind of weird transaction took place in which my doing the treasury got the GG out of doing the presidency. I was quite skeptical about the whole thing but it turned out that I *loved* doing the treasury. I took one look at the umpteen-million column paper that the previous people had been using and being the spreadsheet queen that I am, moved it all onto Excel, complete with links and functions and all kinds of built-in error checking. And I guess it was marginally faster than doing it on paper. We had an old Mac Plus that we had bought just before Mouse was born in 1987. When she was 2, she would stand precariously on a chair and play Concentration on it and could even navigate the menu to get a new game when she needed one. That Mac wasn't particularly new by the time I did the nursery school treasury and I used to load up Excel and go do something like move the laundry from the washer to the dryer while my files were opening up. Well, heck, nowadays I do that when I open up anything Adobe on my powerbook. Will G5 or whatever's the next generation powerbook be faster?

Anyway, I liked doing treasury work well enough that I went on to become the PTO treasurer at each of the 4 public schools my kids went to. I started out doing all the usual volunteer stuff: kindergarten center time helper, 1st grade computer lab helper, field trip chaperone, reading partner to at-risk kids, etc., etc. I am sorry but that stuff is just not my bag. I'm just not all that good at working with kids and I am way too impatient to enjoy it much. Going slow enough and being patient enough to get through an easy book with a struggling reader is almost more agony than I can manage. It seemed like some of these kids had never encountered a book before school. I can remember when Lizard Breath got her first very own book, Mouse's Train Ride. She wasn't even talking yet but she just about hyperventilated every time we turned a page. We were on to the likes of Charlotte's Web and The Wind in the Willows by nursery school. Once when she was in kindergarten, I read some "parenting" article in the newspaper that said a kindergartner should be read to a half hour a day. All I could wonder was how do you get *down* to a half hour? We could easily do 2-1/2 if she had her way. Some of the kids I worked with at the school were a whole nother story. I couldn't even understand some of the stuff they talked to me about. Voodoo and guns and you name it. Books? Hmmm. I don't think they got that stuff out of books and I highly doubt anyone had ever read to most of them on any regular basis. Well, the book Parsley does have a hunter with a gun in it but his luck runs out and he comes to a bad end. Anyway, those kids deserved somebody better than me, somebody for whom the whole thing wasn't so darn painful. Eventually the Haisley PTO treasury became vacant and I stuck my hand up and retreated into messing around with numbers and data and after that I had enough of a reputation that my name somehow got onto the short list whenever people were looking for a new treasurer. But I am done. Kalamazoo College certainly does not need a treasurer and that is okay. Onward.

Fri. August 19: Dawg Blawg for the Dawg Daze of late August: Bob and Gay have a new dog, Chloe Belle. She's another Bichon Frise and if she turns out anything like Bandit did, she will not be a frou-frou dog :-)

Sat. August 20: Hmmm, what on earth did I do today? Hung around in the dungeon painfully sorting out old toys and things to give to charity and thought I caught mus musculus scurrying around out of the corner of my eye. Mus musculus in the basement and maybe blissus leucopterus on the lawn? Or what passes for a lawn around here. Where is Grandpa Garth and his baby grass when we need him? Lizard Breath decided I was bored and I have to admit I was, among other things and even though there is plenty on my agenda, so we went on a death march down by Barton Dam. No poison ivy that I could see, as if I could identify it, but plenty of black dirt got caked all over my feet. Where is Lake Superior when you need to rinse your feet, eh? ATM (to *deposit* money, not withdraw it :-P), Westgate Kroger, new Westgate Staples (3 cents a self-serve copy until November) and KMart. Nests are emptying. Two kids that I know of went to Albion yesterday, one to Beloit and a clump more go to Western Michigan on Tuesday. That's about all folks. Ho Hum. Hot summer nights in the Carbeck Swamp. We want thunderstorms! (Bob, I got the cabin pictures and I didn't forget to post them, just didn't get 'em processed today :-)

Sun. August 21: Lizard Breath: "Mom, are you just unpacking now?!?" Well, yeah. Sort of. And I have been "home" for a whole week now! But I have been living out of a "suitcase" for the entire summer. Or, more accurately:

Anyway, no, I am really not unpacked even yet. I wonder if I will ever be unpacked again. Didn't someone (or two or three) write a book about that kind of thing once? And btw, Sam (dog, not archaeologist) you do not need to protect Ernie and Alfred the Great. You know better than that, old boy. I love you anyway.

Mon. August 22: About all I have to say today is BLEAG! It isn't anything I can blahg about or anything any of y'all would understand, so don't ask (and don't worry ;-)

Tue. August 23: The carbeck dungeon is in a state of uproar at the moment, with me trying to get rid of stuff and Lizard Breath foraging for good old junk to furnish her rental house in Kalamazoo. She was intrigued by Uncle Harry's highball glasses but upon hearing whose they were, she elected not to ask to take them. Um, that's Grandma Sally's Uncle Harry, not my dear uncle Harry (hmm, maybe some Courtois "kid" could guest-blog about their Uncle Harry some day. Mine is still alive and kicking). Anyway, that is not to mention the scurryings of mus musculus and web-creeping of any number of species of arachnid. In the midst of all this frenetic activity, I struck *gold* today! The book Mummies Made in Egypt, by Aliki, a greatly favored book of our once 3-year-old eldest child. I have been looking for that book off and on for about 6 years now. I could not find it anywhere! I didn't *think* I had gotten rid of it but who the heck knows what I might have done, either inadvertently or in a fit of "I can't stand this rat-hole one more single second, everything OUT!" I suppose I could probably have obtained another copy of it. It's a thin, paperback child's book that I paid $3.95 for probably about 18-19 years ago or so. Wonder what the heck it costs now? Actually, it's $6.29 at amazon (duh, I have the internet, I can look this kind of stuff up). And some of the reviews are kind of hilarious. One person is afraid of the book. Another says it is a good book for advanced 2nd-3rd graders and the book itself says it is for ages 8-12. Oh yeah? I used to have to read the mummies book over and over and over and over again ad infinitum to a 3-year-old. And it is pretty graphic. There's stuff about canopic jars which hold embalmed organs and probably one of the all-time grossest sentences in the history of young children's books, "They removed the brain through the nostrils with metal hooks." I have a distinct memory of sitting on the couch at the cabin, reading that sentence to 3-year-old Liz and watching The Commander's face :-) :-) :-) It did not faze Lizard Breath. But it is a darn good book and if $6.29 is the going price for that kind of book, it's worth paying. It was certainly more interesting than the notorious "cat family book" by Richard Scarry. I think that one is still in the basement somewhere also and I'll bet I won't ever get rid of that one either. But it's late and I'll post about that book another day. Or possibly I already have and just can't remember. Good night from your sieve-brained blahger.

Wed. August 24: Clunkety-clunkety-clunkety-clunkety-clunk. Ka-whomp. Say ya to da U. P., eh?

Thu. August 25: So, the GG painted the deck today. What color did he he paint it? Red! What the heck else? If I had been asked, I might've said something blue, like robin's egg or aquamarine or whatever. And actually I think I was asked :-) But it seems like nobody wanted any kind of wild, vibrant color like I might've suggested. Red was the color we were gonna get and that's what I'll have to live with, not that red is not a vibrant color... But I do not really care that much. If I need color, I'll buy fabric or beads and do something with those. The deck can be red. And it matches Don's deck pretty well which I think is also newly painted. But I remember the last time we painted the deck. It was back when, hmmm, I'm trying to remember how old Val and Mouse were. I *think* they were 1-1/2 (Mouse) and 2 (Val). We drove up for a long Columbus Day weekend. Jim, the GG and Grandaddy painted and the rest of us, Moms, Grandma and four little tiny girls, hung around. I don't remember much about what we did but at one point we were bored so we walked down the beach. It was a pretty nice day but, heck, it was October, there's a limit to how warm it can possibly get on the shores of Lake Superior in October. And I didn't think the water was particularly warm but some other people did. I forget who got into the water first but I remember Val getting her clothes completely soaked, including a sweater. Then Mouse went down there and took *all* of her clothes *off*. Yeah, completely buck naked. Who the heck wants to be encumbered? I think they both got baths after that but I cannot totally remember. Well, whomp, it's just a *few* years later and 18-year-old Mouse and I just walked the beach twice tonight, part of the time with Judy and Dashy, and when we were done, we could see the Big Dipper but not *quite* the Little Dipper (just a bit too much light). We saw Cassiopeia and we were looking for "The Rion," as Mouse used to call Orion, but it wasn't out there yet. I see all that stuff from the Haisley schoolyard when I'm walking in the early morning in the fall. And it's almost fall. G'night.

Fri. August 26: Yrrrrrk. It was another hot beach day. I do not know why we get these hot beautiful days when we come up here for little short weekends but when we come up here for some kind of duration, it rains and all that other stuff. Anyway, it was hot as hadies today, on the beach at least. All the biting flies were out. And for the second day in a row, me, Mouse, Jane and Radical Betty were in the water up to our necks. It sure felt good and the biting flies could not get us! Anyway, what else can we say about today?

Once again, good night.

Sat. August 27: Corrections, corrections. Yes, "hadies" is more accurately spelled "Hades." Sorry, my internal dictionary turns into a pumpkin at about 9 PM. Today was a rainy day but not without its own little excruciatingly exciting moments:

And that's pretty much it. The barn-raising was fantastic and then the GG and I put away the kayaks and then Mouse and I double-walked the beach, mostly in the dark and talked about the stars and ghosts at Doelle's and the distant lightning, etc. And she wants the dial-up internet connection and I have to finish the dishes.

Sun. August 28: Sometimes when I am walking the beach, there will be an octogenarian standing up there on the bank pretending to be watching out for boats or eagles or cormorants or I dunno what. But that isn't really what they are doing. No indeed. They are waiting for me to get back. Either I have a phone call (a cause for general panic for some reason, I mean, just tell 'em I'll call 'em back! ;-) or they need to tell me they are going to town or not to drive over 50 mph or any number of little bits of trivia >:->> Back at the carbeck landfill, there is no beach to walk and I have to resign myself to wearing out my feet on the cement sidewalks of Megalopolis. And nobody is ever waiting for me at home. Anyway, the summer is over in terms of this place and the next time I come up here, it'll be too cold to stay out here and I'll have to camp at the Octohouse in town. So, back to Megalopolis and school and an empty nest and a difficult decision and I dunno what else. See ya in the next episode.

Mon. August 29: Yesterday, I walked in the door totally fried after yet another trip to the Great White North and Elizardbreath said, "Mom, will you use your super-nose to figure out what that smell is in the refrigerator?" Sniff, sniff... Well, that would be old dead broccoli, my dearest dear. And then she said, "I want to move to Kalamazoo *this* Thursday. I can work on my SIP [thesis-like beast] better in my house and I need a mattress and a desk." Whew!! I knew that she had to be there on the morning of September 9th and I knew that she wanted to go there a little earlier than that and she drove one of my vee-hickles over there last Friday to sign a lease and move some stuff. But. This. Thursday. I don't know how I hadn't processed that before. Actually, it is fine with me if she goes over there this Thursday. Actually, there is a part of me that wishes to heck the kids *would* get going. It's the part that trips over all the crap sitting around in this bombed out pit (Karen's phrase) waiting to get packed up and moved to Kalamazoo. Why does K start so late? Albion and Western Michigan and Moo-U and a whole ton of other schools have already started. But then there is another part of me that is wondering why we can't have just a little more time.

Life just feels so crazy these days. I do not know where the summer went and I'm not sure what I did all summer. When I saw school buses this morning, it hit me with a big jolt that *I* start school this week too. I have two night classes, 3 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. That is not my choice but it was the only time the classes were offered. Neither of these classes will be trivial and one will be *hard*. It is called "Web Coding III," in which "students will explore and incorporate client-side and server-side technologies into websites." Learning this kind of stuff is actually one of the main reasons I put myself back in college at this advanced age, although I have also gained a wealth of knowledge from the other classes in the program. This class is taught by the head of the department. He looks like he's about 15 years old but he is a fantastic teacher. I'm not sucking up. I highly doubt he reads this. His classes are not for the faint of heart. The recommendations for "Web Coding III" include the statement, "Begin working on the homework immediately. Advanced coding is neither easy nor trouble-free, so expect each homework to take some time." And he is 100% right! It is a programming class and even though I am an old programmer, I know I am in for a wild ride. Web programming is a whole different aminal than messing around with Fortran on an old rickety mainframe (yes, I am a dinosaur) because there are about a million browsers out there and they all handle things differently so you can get something working perfectly on, say, Firefox and then have it totally crash in Internet Explorer. Kaboom! Begin immediately. Hmmmm. When I get home from that class at 9:30 PM or so, not my best hour of the day in any case, what I will probably have to do "immediately" is wash the dishes! And this week, I have Kalamazoo on Thursday and prob'ly Houghton Lake for the Labor Day weekend. And I'm not stupid enough to talk much about my "job" on my blahg so we won't even go into everything that has to be done with that. Homework. Sigh.

Where on earth am I going with all this? Despite all my kvetching, it must seem obvious that I don't actually have a whole heck of a lot to do today. I mean, I really need to clean and reorganize this landfill but until the kids get all their stuff out, that's pretty impossible. Coffee with Marci, then a few groceries, a little bit of laundry and dishes (broken dishwasher) and I scrubbed the tub out and deposited some checks and somebody came to put in a dastardly new water meter that can spy on us. I know I'm just marking time until my classes start and the kids start leaving home. I guess it probably sounds like I am marking that time on some other planet. Zephron III, maybe?

I suppose I could remove myself to the backyard and do some pre-reading. Sincerely yours, Hermione of Carbeck Dr. ;-)

Tue. August 30: Courtois Girls Go Shopping, episode 3572a.5(f): The plan was for Liz to look for a pair of jeans at The Gap. At Briarwood Mall. It was 10 in the morning and we were there but the store was not open yet. We saw a clerk coming toward the door to open it up and Elizardbreath was a bit embarrassed to be the first customer in the store, so we took a short walk. On the way back, we passed Chico's, which actually has some clothes that I like, i.e., they fit me and are not beige or taupe or pink or some other awful, insipidly dull color. But it was way too hot in there for me and they DO NOT HAVE MIRRORS *INSIDE* THE DRESSING ROOMS, so I declined to try anything on. If I decide I want to pursue additional employment this fall, I will make a return trip. If I can steel myself to deal with the mirror situation. Anyway, we entered The Gap and an overly talkative male salesperson gabbled something at us and then proceeded to regale his two female co-workers with all kinds of crap about how the typical demographic group frequenting The Gap was age 18-24 and how "those clothes over there" were more suitable for a 30-year-olds. Fortunately, all of them more or less let us go about the business of searching through the jeans because neither of us are crazy about overly attentive sales personnel and it was too early in the morning for Liz to want to make much conversation with anyone. The "demographics" remark came in handy when one of them did ask me if I was finding what I needed (which was nothing) and I said, "I'm not in the right demographic, hee-hee-hee."

Eventually, Liz picked out a few pairs of potentially acceptable jeans and we were on our way back to the dressing room area when three obnoxiously loud "blondes" entered, one of whom was pushing a stroller containing a baby that had to have been drugged because it was sure quieter than either of my urchins would've been on a shopping trip. Uh, "blonde" is used with a "speak slowly, I'm blonde" connotation. Approximately one of these gals had hair lighter than mine and I'm sure hers came out of a bottle. Anyway, while Liz went through several episodes of trying on jeans of every size and description (straight thru curvy, low-rise through high-rise or whatever), I sat there "reading" my new favorite magazine, "Lucky, the magazine about shopping" and "Cargo," a similar magazine for men, featuring an article about a guy who got a facial on his back in an attempt to get cute girls at the beach to put sunscreen on him.

During all of this, the "blondes" sashayed in and out of the dressing room area trying on all kinds of stuff and waltzing around the store wearing it. Then, one of them dialed her cellular telephone and, trying her best to sniffle and cough up a storm, called in sick! Loudly. Right there in the dressing rooms. From the get-go, she wasn't exactly convincing but she was at least sorta trying to sound a little bit sick. When it became apparent that her excuse had been accepted, she lost all vestiges of fake congestion. The blondes finally left and Liz and I discussed how we had both considered yelling out something during that phone call to clue her boss or whoever in to the fact that she was in a clothing store dressing room, not in bed. Like, "Mom can you get me this in another size." Or, "Liz, did you find a pair of jeans that fit yet." Only for the sake of returning the obnoxiousness, not because we gave a rat's you-know-what about whether she went to work or not. Sadly, Liz did not find just the right jeans and I'll bet she forgot to get her free iTunes download after trying on about a million pairs. But we had a little better luck at the mattress store and I'll blahg about Cindy Sheehan another day, I guess. She has me just about over the edge >:->>

Wed. August 31: Grok grok! Protector? Grok grok. What does she mean (grok) she needs a (grok grok) protector? grok grok Silly owner! Grok. What does she think *I* am? grok grok. Me an' Smokie  ooh ooh ooh ah ah  are the protectors around here! Grok grok! She does not need Ryan to come home. GrokGROK grokgrokgrok bagrawk! She's got us! Grok grok grok  ooh ooh ooh ah ah  grok GROK! grok grok grok We will LICK Shuggy Scissorhands to death! grokGROK  ooh ooh ooh ah ah  grok grok grok bagrawk!