July 4

Jul. 6th, 2010 10:18 am
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I was in the UP for my 20th HS reunion over July 4 weekend. Weather was great, we had a hotel room that looked out over Bay de Noc, got to catch up with old friends and see some family. Good time!

At the reunion, though, it reminded me that there always has to be That One Guy. It can be That One Woman, but usually, it's that one guy. You know: the one who takes it too far, gets too drunk, hits on people a little too obviously. Yeah, we had one of those guys.

If you can help it, don't be That Guy!

New kitty!

May. 6th, 2010 08:13 am
sarahmichigan: (Default)

Originally uploaded by sarahmichigan
As promised, photo of our new cat.

He came pre-named as "Boy," and we'll probably continue to use it as he will come when called. But, he's sort of by default being called "Buddy" since he is such a lover cat.

I can tell he's still a little uncertain- there's been a lot of change for the poor cuddly dear, but he warmed up to both of us pretty quickly- sat in my lap so long my leg went numb and then half-sat on J.'s arm until that went numb!

He is a 9-year-old almost-senior cat, but they need love too! When his original owners died, he was inherited by some friends of mine who already had 4 cats in a townhouse, and the other boy cats were giving Boy a hard time. We're hoping he'll be happy being an only cat and King of the House with our family. :)

Two more photos of him (including one where you can see the "bullseye" on his side a bit better) here.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
So, this weekend, I was at Penguicon. I had fun, though I always feel a little pressured to "stay up late and have fun!" Except staying up late is not fun for me, generally speaking. I enjoyed some panels about writing, playing Fluxx in the games room and enjoyed the hell out of the Drag show, though I was too antsy to stay past the first hour or so of it (I'd already been sitting a long time watching the Masquerade).

I also volunteered for the first time, thinking it might be a way to force myself to meet people as I can be a bit shy and just tend to hang out with people I already know at these sorts of things. My shift was from 8-10 a.m., and it was eery to see how quiet the hotel was at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, considering it was completely full. So, that didn't help much with the meeting people thing, but at least I earned some good karma points.

Yesterday was J. and my 13th wedding anniversary. We didn't do anything too exciting, but I always kind of think of Penguicon as our anniversary getaway as it's usually just a week or so before our anniversary. I made bean and potato enchiladas and we watched "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" which I really loved, so it was a good evening.

And, later this week, we will be adopting a cat, which I'm really excited about. Photos and details once the adoption is complete!
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I've been threatening to do this for a while, but finally got around to it. I made a slideshow of photos of our cat Mu-Mu, who passed in January. It's both a) a tribute to her passing and b) hopefully, a way to educate pet owners about feline mammary cancer.

Mumu's story: Tips for avoiding feline mammary cancer

sarahmichigan: (Default)
It was fun experiencing spring twice- once down here in southeast Michigan and again in the Upper Peninsula during the 6 days I spent with Mom. While up there, the spring peepers started singing and crocus came up in her lawn. Too bad I was there a little too early to be able to dig up wild leek...
sarahmichigan: (Default)
So, we ended up in the U.P. longer than we meant to. The trip started off well-- good weather on the way up, enjoyed J.'s family. He gave one of our old digital cameras to the 5-year-old niece and we enjoyed seeing what she took photos of. Had a good time at my mother's place later in the weekend, good food, got to see my brother A. and his wife again, which was nice.

However, on the way home on Sunday, I was driving and hit a deer, just a few miles away from my mom's. We're OK, but the car wasn't driveable as is. The tow company thought they could bang out the metal and get us on the road so we could at least get home and start on insurance and collision repair and everything at home. We were thrilled to be on the road with the car by early Monday afternoon, but...

... then it started overheating and we had no heat in the car about an hour and a half out. We ended up stranded in the middle of BFE and had to call for roadside service. Thank goodness I actually had signal on my cell phone, because that's not guaranteed up there.

We were told it'd be 40 minutes for the tow truck and that the repair place they were towing it to had rental cars (another thing you can't be guaranteed of with these small towns up there!). Well, apparently the tow driver was wrangling with our insurance, and it was more than 2 hours before they showed up, and this is in a car with no heat on a 35-degree day. Finally got a tow, but Jeff had to sit in my lap in the cab of the tow truck for a 20-ish minute drive. Got to the dealership just 10 minutes before they closed, got the paperwork signed with the tow truck and got the rental car agreement signed. As soon as we had a key in hand, it started snowing.

As if we weren't miserable enough, we hit really awful, blowing snow on the Mackinac Bridge and just south of there. J. was completed frazzled and freaked out- it had pretty much been the worst couple of days of our lives, and we were tired and the visibility was terrible. We finally ended up getting a hotel room in Gaylord (about 4 hours north of home) and stayed there Monday night, and drove the rest of the way home yesterday. We spend Tuesday afternoon dealing with insurance, running errands, doing laundry, making calls to workplaces to let people know what was going on, and I actually had some assignments due, so I had to work from home for 5-6 hours as well.

Finally, I think we're pretty much back on track today, but we still have to find out what the adjuster says, what they'll pay for, and when we can (oh joy!) drive back to the UP to get the car when it's fixed.

Not exactly how I wanted to spend my four-day holiday, but at least nobody but the deer is dead.

How was yours?

Still playing catch-up on my LJ friends list. I'm about 200 posts behind, but I'll read and comment soon!
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I don't suppose anybody reading this might know why, when I hook up a portable hard drive to my computer with a FireWire, I can see it with the Device Manager and it says it's working properly but I can't actually access the information on the drive?

In other news...

I'm home from Virginia where we went to visit my brother and sis-in-law and do touristy things. We saw colonial Williamsburg and went to the Suffolk Peanut Festival and generally enjoyed the warmer (70s and 80s) weather down there. Fell in love with my brother's dog, Scoobie. He is part wire terrier and part something else and altogether cute and mellow. Had a good time reconnecting with my brother. He has mellowed somewhat with age but is just as weird as he ever was.

While I was gone, I had three articles go to print in two different publications. Well, I guess "print" isn't entirely correct since one is online only as far as I can tell, but still groovy.

Executive Profile: John Coy, owner of Fran Coy Salon
I had fun touring his facility and seeing all the "green" improvements they've made.

Meditation grows in popularity for both health and spiritual reasons
They did some copy editing of this, but I was much happier with their mostly hands-off approach than I was with a previous article I did for their "Faith" section.

Detroit Derby Girls talk about derby life, filming of 'Whip It'
This was a fun one to report.

sarahmichigan: (Default)
I didn't really post any detail about my visit to my mother a few weekends ago, and today seems like an appropriate time.

I drove down on a Wednesday after work and got there around 12:30 a.m., stayed until Sunday morning and then drove back home. As I was leaving Sunday morning, Mom said she enjoyed spending time with someone who could "understand big words." Not quite as catty as it may sound- she just appreciates my articulateness and word nerdery as I appreciate hers. I read 2 whole books while I was there and she read one.

It was a long weekend of words and nature, a perfect combination in my opinion. I brought her a book, a pot of begonias and a pot of chives as a birthday present. While I was there, I walked a nature trail through a marsh and listened to the blackbirds. While traveling down a country road, I saw four wild turkeys jogging down the side of the road, looking at me nervously over their shoulders. I saw many deer, and a juvenile bald eagle flew right past her windshield at one point. We picked wild leeks on her property, and I brought some home and cooked with them in the week afterward. In addition to reading, we talked about books, played word games, and watched a movie (The Secret Life of Bees) based on a book we'd both read. We also saw a live play. It was mediocre, but we only paid $5 a ticket, which is a bargain. A love of live theater is something I'm so glad my parents instilled in me.

I rubbed her back and helped her get online with her laptop (I had almost forgotten how slow even fast dial-up is!), and we cooked together. We went out for Mexican in town and invited an old high school friend of mine to meet us there. The three of us talked and laughed for almost two hours. We went into town to her church and saw a live simulcast of Dave Ramsey talking about the topic of Hope. We played with Mom's dog, who was recovering from being mauled by her neighbor's two wolf-dog hybrids a few days earlier.  And we talked and talked.

I really cherish my relationship with my mother. It hasn't always been perfectly smooth or happy and we still have areas of disagreement, but it's real and authentic and I feel like I can be myself with her and she with me, at least in the ways that are most important. I should log off LJ and give her a call.

Happy Mother's Day to you all!
sarahmichigan: (Default)
1. I'm going to go visit my mother for a few days around her birthday next week. Ever since I told her I was planning to drive up, she has been very excited and is planning all sorts of things to do. More than 2 weeks out, she already knew she wanted to make me banana-oatmeal pancakes and a curried squash soup (presumably not at the same meal) and watch "The Secret Life of Bees" with me. And possibly go out to see a live play.

2. As I've said in the past, I was happy to vote for Obama and don't quite get why some of my more progressive friends were so disgruntled with him. However, lately, there have been several moves in his administration that I really don't like. HOWEVER, one man can't do it on his own- this is, theoretically anyway, a government of the people. If we don't like what he's doing, we have to make our voices heard. I'm thinking of writing some letters on the following topics:
a) His back-pedaling on fixing the Faith-Based Initiative crap. Supposedly, he was not going to dismantle the faith-based initiative altogether but was going to support measures that would tell faith-based groups that they couldn't discriminate in hiring (i.e. firing gays and lesbians). He appears to have backed off on that point, to my disappointment. You can send a message from this page.
*b) The Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and -- even if what they're doing is blatantly illegal and they know it's illegal. Also, the administration is fighting efforts to undo telecom immunity and hold the government accountable for past and present spying on private citizens.
*c) The Obama administration said Friday that it would appeal a district court ruling that granted some military prisoners in Afghanistan the right to file lawsuits seeking their release.

*Heads up on several items provided by [livejournal.com profile] sophiaserpentia .


OK, now I really need to stop f*cking around on LJ and get some editing and writing done- I have a couple small projects due today and one big one due Monday that I'd just as soon get done today and tomorrow if possible.

sarahmichigan: (silly)
Strangely enough, April Fools always makes me miss my family and feel nostalgic for my childhood. My family really got into the spirit of April Fools in a fun and usually-not-mean way. For instance, I told my mother in a recent phone conversation that I'd learned to make mozzarella from [livejournal.com profile] custardfairy , and when I mentioned rennet tablets, she asked if I remembered her having them around the house when I was a kid. I didn't. She used them for a couple different culinary uses, but also for pranking. She would put a rennet tablet in the glasses of milk for us kids so when we went to drink them, they'd be solid.

I remember other pranks, like blue milk and green orange juice. I also tried pranking back, but it was usually lame (fake snake in the bedside lamp) or went horribly awry. I remember putting a wet cloth in my Dad's bed thinking he'd go "Yuck!" when he felt something cold and wet. Being 6 or so at the time, it didn't occur to me that it'd soak into the mattress and make a majorly wet and chilly night's sleep for him. :('

The only really mean prank I remember was my brother A. calling and telling Mom he was on his way home for a surprise visit from college... but no, just an April Fool's joke.

When my sister got married, it was beautiful weather in Michigan and the family camped at a park near Lansing the night before the ceremony. At the time, my brother A. was dating Y., the woman he eventually married. She came along for the trip, and I remember lying in our bunks in the Scamper talking about family traditions. Y. said that when she and her brother were little, her father played an April Fools prank by getting them up around 5 a.m. yelling, "The pig got out! Help me catch it!" They were down in the yard in their pajamas running around the yard before they realized, "Wait, we don't have a pig." (They had owned one but had sold it the previous year.)

So, yeah, I understand why some people are annoyed by April Fools pranking, but it has a special place in my heart, even if I don't do much of it myself these days.

sarahmichigan: (Default)
I'm posting from The Corner Brewery. My sweetie & his pals are gaming on a big table and I'm cuddled up on a couch with a microbrew and the laptop.

In other news:

-When posting something your editor wrote to the Web, it's probably best NOT to misspell her name. D'oh! I have been rushing and getting sloppy and need to slow down and do it right the first time.

-J & I are about 3/4 of the way through our project of laying down wood laminate flooring in the living room, and will hopefully finish it (all except putting in new moulding) tomorrow. We ripped out old, spotted white carpet in order to put down the new flooring and I am SO glad to be rid of that crap. It never looked clean, and flat non-carpet surfaces are better for our allergies anyway. I think it's going to be beautiful when it's done.

-My holidays were good, but not as restful as I'd have liked. We were working on home improvement tasks and hosting family and driving to visit family, so I never felt like I got a ton of time to relax, but it was good. Family has gotten more important to me as I've gotten older, and I'm making an effort to reach out even when it's hard or inconvenient. I wrote Christmas cards to elderly aunts on my Dad's side I haven't talked to in years and got answers back from all, which was awesome. My oldest brother and Mom visited us for one night and the next morning on their way to my other brother's house for Xmas. We had J's siblings and their families over on Xmas eve and had dinner with my uncle and cousin on Xmas day. This was actually the first Xmas in about 7 or 8 years that we didn't go out to a movie and Chinese food. I kind of like that tradition, so maybe we'll get back to that next year. ;)
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I've written about this briefly before on my LJ, but I went into more depth in an opinion piece I recently had published. I talk about how the media handled my father's death, both on TV and in print, and how it affected my approach as a journalist to handling stories of death and tragedy.

Read it here.
sarahmichigan: (Default)

Getting in and out of Mom's property was a chore, but I actually had a lot of fun while I was there.

I enjoyed walking around the property slowly with her and faster by myself (or, I guess me and the dog) on Friday and again on Saturday. Her dog, a female half-shepherd about 5 years old, is a total sweetheart.

Mom and I spent most of Friday yakking with each other about recipes and books and making food. We watched the TV serial of "Empire Falls" together. She'd seen it, but I hadn't. We'd both read the book. I still like the book better, but the TV adaptation was good. Paul Newman totally disappears into the role of the reprobate old father.

My brother finally made it in on Saturday afternoon, only to have to wade out through the flood again to pick up his friend R. from the airport. He'd recently re-connected with this old high school friend (they're both in their mid-40s), and she was out of work for a few weeks because she'd recently had eye surgery. He flew her up to have a little mini-vacay with our family. Her flight got delayed, then sent back and forth three times because fog precluded a landing, and she got in about 17 hours later than originally scheduled.

At first, I was a little miffed at having an "outsider" in the middle of our family get-together, but I really like her. R. is a bit of a redneck, as you'd expect from someone born and raised in the Upper Peninsula who went on to become a long-distance trucker. However, she's funny and down-to-earth and pretty easy to get along with. The both of them were pretty slap-happy by dinner time on Saturday, since they'd each had something on the order of 3 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours. After dinner, my brother, R. and I played a couple rounds of Gin Rummy while Mom collapsed on the couch for a bit, and then we all fell into bed around 10 p.m. Saturday night.

I didn't get to see my brother very long, and I didn't get to sample his famous Pad Thai I'd been hearing about, but it was all good. He has this entire week to hang out with R. and Mom and I hope they get off the property today or tomorrow to take Mom out for a birthday dinner.

sarahmichigan: (Default)
I did end up having to put on hip boots and wade out to my Vibe on Sunday morning. I am glad I packed relatively light in a tote bag that had two straps, so it could be worn as a backpack. It probably weighed about 35 pounds at least with all my clothes, books, toiletries and two pairs of shoes in it. The hip waders were too big, so it took a bit of effort just to walk on the muddy gravel, much less the part where I waded through cold river water that varied from ankle-deep to mid-thigh deep. I was sweating fairly hard by the end of the walk, even though it's only about 0.6 miles and usually doesn't take that much of an effort.

Luckily, the high ground around my Vibe had dried out, so I was able to get out of there under my own power and didn't have to be towed out of a couple inches of water and muck, as my Mom and her neighbor were worrying about. 

It was a long drive back, too, but I made good time and had books on CD to keep me company. It's good to be home.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
We've been trapped on Mom's property all day. She was thinking of getting in the Jeep and trying to get out again today, but then her neighbor stopped by in her hip wader boots and pointed to a spot on her thigh about 1 &1/2 inches below the top of the waders, saying that was how deep the river was. It's probably gone up at least 6 inches from when I arrived last night.

We've been trading calls back and forth with my brother who is on the road on his way here (I thought he was flying, but he's driving instead). There's talk of him having to also wade in, and my possibly having to borrow a pair of waders so I can go home on Sunday. I'm really hoping it doesn't come to that, and the river will go down on its own accord far enough that Mom can drive me out of here to the Vibe. It'd help if rain wasn't predicted throughout this area and just north of us all along the river for the entire weekend.

Freaking Mother Nature...

I stayed up  late with Mom watching a movie and waiting to see if there'd be any further coordinating phone calls. But I'm ready to brush my teeth and hit the sack. Please cross your fingers for me- I really do not want to be stuck here any longer than I'd originally planned.
sarahmichigan: (Default)

Greetings and salutations from the Great White North. For those of you reading J.'s journal, I survived the flooding out of the road that leads to my Mom's place out in the country. The one bridge over the Rapid River is flooded out, but there are two other places where the water is knee-deep, and you can see currents running through it.

I've been trying to get Mom's computer to run faster, but it is buggy as hell. I'm about 95 percent sure it's chock full of ad-ware and spy-ware.

Low points of the trip to date:
-Failing to properly navigate the round-about system at the Brighton exit off I-23 north. I manage the roundabout in Ann Arbor for Maple/Miller just fine, but the Brighton one was scary. It didn't help that it was rush hour.
-Encountering bad traffic at two other exits I attempted.
-Being harassed by seagulls at a road side park.
-Rain through most of the Upper Peninsula.
-Getting near my MOm's house near midnight, and being so tired, and it being so dark and rainy that I missed the landmark I use to find her dirt road that I went about 10 miles out of my way before I turned around and came back.
-Getting to the entrance to Mom's drive (0.6 miles from the main road to her house) and finding her there waiting for me because the road was flooded out.

-I got great gas mileage for most of the trip.
-Being amused at finding a tank full of dip-your-own minnows near the restrooms at the first gas station I stopped at in the U.P.
-Mom's Jeep successfully got us through the flooded areas. I parked the Vibe at the end of the drive where it was dry.
-Walking in the rain around Mom's property today with her and her dog.
-Having toast made from homemade bread I made for breakfast, followed by Mom's homemade cream of broccoli soup and her homemade Italian bread (with a really interesting seasoned cream cheese spread) for lunch.
-Showing Mom how to cut and paste, send an attachment, and forward an email.
-Figuring out how and showing MOm how to load the color cartridge in her printer.
-My oldest brother should be arriving late tonight, and I hear there may be Pad Thai tomorrow night...

sarahmichigan: (Default)
My great aunt Margaret is really cute. She called me last night to get my brother's phone number. I knew she was in her 80s, but couldn't remember how old exactly. In the course of conversation, I learned she's 87 (good genes in my family!).

She is worried about my Mom living in the country by herself and wanted my brother to buy Mom one of those medical alert bracelets that allow you to call for medical help at the push of a button. Aunt Margaret called me back later to say that my brother had assured her that Mom always takes her cell phone with her when she's out walking in the woods, and she can call anyone she wants if she falls down and can't get up.

Great Aunt Margaret says she's doing well for 87 but she gets tired sometimes. "Sometimes," she said, "I get up and have breakfast, and then it's time to go back to bed and take a nap."

For all the work she did raising 3 boys and then later running a house with property and a big garden alone after her husband died, I think she deserves to take a nap any time she wants.
sarahmichigan: (Default)

Here's my practically obligatory holiday recap:

We started early in the month by exchanging presents with J.'s parents on the weekend of the 9th and with me getting my presents in the mail to my family. I gave J. his presents (WMU alumni gear) early, too.

On the morning of Saturday the 22nd, we ran some errands and bought a Norfolk Island Pine, which looks like an evergreen but is really a tropical houseplant. It was a little Charlie Brown looking kind of tree, but cute once decorated.

His siblings and their children came by in the late afternoon that day, and we had a houseful of toddlers for a while. There's a 4-month old, a one year old, a three year old, and a four year old between his two siblings. We did a pretty good job of babyproofing the house, though little one-year-old A. wanted to pull the ornaments off the tree. I put out a veggie & dip plate and then later fed everyone lasagna and garlic bread and variety cheesecake after we'd opened presents.

My loot this year included:
-A nail/manicure kit
-Candy & nuts (the nut sampler from J's folks was really, really good)
-Homemade cookies and homemade caramels from my mother
-A quilt from my mom, made of pieces of clothing and bedspreads and ties and such that have childhood memories attached to them
-A yoga mat
-Red wine glasses (so I don't have to be embarrassed about serving red wine in white wine glasses if/when I host another wine 'n' cheese party!)
-A gift certificate to Borders
-Assorted plastic kitchen storage containers
-A soft, squishy stuffed pony from J. (I can say I got a pony for Xmas!)

Sunday and Monday were pretty mellow. We watched a lot of movies and other video entertainment. J. had to work a half day on Monday, so I dropped him off, and then ran errands and went to my PT appointment and picked him up afterward. 

One errand I was glad to get completed was getting my hair trimmed. It has been so long that it's been getting in my way, and the split ends were getting pretty bad. It was such a nuisance; I would roll over in bed and it would get caught in my armpit or under J.'s arm. Or I'd squat down to look for something that had rolled under the futon and I'd step on my own hair! I had about 6 inches taken off, but it's still down to my shoulder blades. With that many inches off, it looks much healthier and wavier, too, so I'm pleased.

My brother who is in the Navy also called me on Christmas Eve. He was just about as reverent in his tone talking about getting homemade caramels from Mom as I was when I talked about the caramels to J. These are gooey homemade treats with nut bits in them that are delicious and a completely different treat than store-bought caramels, and they reek of childhood nostalgia.

On Xmas day, we slept in, played games, and then went out for a movie and Chinese food. Nobody took us up on the offer to come along, but that was fine. That evening, we watched Scrooged and went to bed early-ish since we both had to work on the 26th.

I came back to two hours of mandatory OT on Wednesday, but luckily, J. knows the ins and outs of the doctor's office and got me a doctor's note excusing me from mandatory OT, which I'm really appreciating about now!

If I can just make it through the rest of today and tomorrow, we've got all next week off, with a few days in Florida. Sounds heavenly.

Hope you all had a Merry, Merry Christmas!

Who died?

Nov. 7th, 2007 10:46 am
sarahmichigan: (Default)
My sister called me last night, and I wanted to ask her who had died.

The only times she's called me in the last 2-3 years are when Mom was in the hospital: once a couple years back when Mom rolled her jeep on black ice, and then earlier this year when she had complications from breast-cancer surgery.

I faithfully send birthday cards to all my siblings every year and call all of them at least a couple times a year, but my sister almost NEVER calls me unless there's bad news.

She was just calling to catch up, tell me how they were settling in after moving to Tennesse, and inviting us to come down for the holidays.

We haven't slipped into an alternate dimension, have we?

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