Home Again

Stilt Sandpiper

Yesterday, we drove home. We got a late start leaving Ann Arbor, but still made good time and with the time change working in our favor, got home at six. A bit of rain greeted us as we crossed the Mississippi. Its only real effect was to pump up the humidity though. Welcome back to Sweat Louis! The lawn didn’t look as bad as I had feared, so no rush there. As Joanie reported, the city had removed our last Silver maple on the parking strip. I’m sure the squirrels who inhabited it thought, “What about the foreclosure moratorium?” The stump still remains and I can see that the squirrels had hollowed the heartwood down to the ground. The city should be back eventually to grind the stump away, like it did the first two.

Last night, was a dark and stormy night. Thunder and lighting were out all night long and have extended their display into today. Moments after the first rain began, I could hear the sirens wind up their wails at the nearby fire station. This occurs every time it rains. Nobody drives carefully on the highway until it’s too late. Is it just me? But the first few fat raindrops sounded like squirrel scratching when they hit the back porch. Anyway, I kept being awakened with each new round of storms.  We were rewarded in the morning with flash flood warning boxes blanketing the city. Our sump pump even got into the act.

Joanie takes in our mail while we are gone and there were a few surprises. My absentee ballot for last week’s election had eventually arrived. I had to go to the election commission to cast my ballot, because it had not shown. Surprisingly, a second ballot arrived for Anne. When I asked her, what about the other 9,998? She said that she had had China handle all of those. Our bill for the Toyota never arrived, so I’ll have to go online and try to fix that, along with straightening out many of our other bills. Most of them are already online and normally, I have no problem paying them remotely, but unfortunately I really need the laptop to do that. The bank’s iPhone app doesn’t really distinguish between the multiple accounts that we have with the same payee and I’m not about to put a ton of money down, thinking I’m paying off a credit card, when what I’m really doing is paying thirty years of rent on the safety deposit box. I’ve already done that.

My final must accomplish chore for today is to restock the larder. To that end, I placed and received grocery orders through both Instacart and Shipt. I used Shipt to backfill some of the items that Instacart couldn’t fulfill. Now our once empty icebox is reasonably filled again. There is still laundry, cooking and cleaning and it might even clear off enough for a walk. Oh and don’t forget the blog either.

Ann Arbor Interlude

Fly Fishing the Huron

For a rest day, a lot happened on Friday. Apparently too much to blog about then. We did a small hike in the next door Dolph Nature Area, read trolling for ticks. Cruised the old family homestead on Lincolnshire. Drove out Huron River Drive first to Delhi. Snuck in for lunch with Bluebirds, but got scoped by the park police. Not a problem. Snapped the pictured fly fisherman before beating feet. Cruised Dexter in our AWD PPE. Then headed back to the ranch for siesta.

Dinner at Chez Harry’s for his 93rd birthday. The menu included Jane’s signature enchiladas, Harry’s delightful salad and Anne’s angel food cake topped with strawberries and cabin blueberries. Jay hosted a zoom meeting and the boys offered their well wishes. There were presents, but Anne stole the show with the presentation of her memory, remembrance, clan Farqhuarson quilt. One half tartan and one half family photo gallery. Harry loved it! It was a big hit.

Harry Admires the Quilt

Serendipity intruded when the first friends that we made, after we first moved to Saint Louis from Ann Arbor commented on the blog last week that they now live in Ann Arbor. They live quite close to where we are staying and we arranged to meet for breakfast at nearby Zimmerman’s Roadhouse. We had a delightful conversation over coffee and pastries, catching up on old times.

In Ann Arbor, Anne read Carsick by John Waters, director of the movies Pink Flamingos and Hairspray. It was on the bookshelf at our Air B&B. In it was a gift receipt indicating that the book was to our hostess from Jane. The book recounts tale of hitchhiking across America. The story is divided into three parts, “the best that could happen”, “the worst that could happen” and “the real thing.” Anne liked the first part, found the second part disturbing (that’s Waters), but it was an episode from the third part that piqued my interest. Waters was hitching through Saint Louis and while crossing the Mississippi River was marveling at the Arch, his favorite public sculpture. He knew that he had caught a good ride, when the couple giving him the lift, told him that they had had sex in the Arch. More particularly in one of the tram cars that carry people to the top and back. These tram cars normally seat five, but on off hours it is easy to believe that a couple could get there own private car. The rub is that it only takes four minutes to get to the top. The return run is even faster, three minutes. No time for foreplay!

On our way home now. Headed back to the Lou. Looking forward to sleeping in our own bed again tonight. It’s been a great trip.

Mental Cruise Control

Open Road

We got an early start on our down state journey, crossed the bridge and entered troll land. It was foggy when we began, with the island stolen by Canada, but we broke free from it when we got on the highway. Anne took the first shift, getting us to West Branch and I drove the rest of the way. Traffic was light. We stopped for gas at Birch Run. For some reason the RAV4 is getting less range than normal when I fill up in Michigan. I don’t know if it is the formulation or what? Satellite radio supplied the mind floss for the journey and served as our mental cruise control.

We arrived in Ann Arbor and found our Air B&B. It is a basement studio apartment that is billed as an urban treehouse, which seems like an oxymoron, but is actually quite apt. We inadvertently tried to enter the neighbor’s house first, but it was locked and we were fortunate no one was at home as we tried to break-in. We’ll stay here two nights. We have a backyard pizza party tonight and Harry’s birthday party tomorrow. There is also our friends from Saint Louis who now live in town. I also hope to visit my family’s former house.

That Woman…

One is not like the others

Two dredges and a sailboat cruised into a bar… Only to find that “That Woman” from Michigan had closed them all down. I’m speaking of the governor around here. The down-state bars have been closed for some time now, but as of this morning all bars state-wide have been shuttered. I don’t know if this edict will actually affect any of the drinking establishments that I have visited in the past, because there is a loophole. If food is served and if food represent a sufficiently large percentage of sales, then they won’t have to close. Not that I care to frequent either type of watering hole these days. Our big adventure was to go to the Brimley post office yesterday for stamps.

We needed to mail the signed contract for a new porch roof. After repeated calls and some frustration I finally raised the roofer by calling him on his cellphone. He satisfactorily answered my questions and I awarded him the job. Mailing the contract made it official. So, sometime this fall the cabin will get a new roof “system.” Because it is a system it will cost more, but should last longer too. I got an inkling of this, when on one of my many calls, I got the roofer’s wife. These two obviously don’t talk, because the first thing she announced was that they weren’t taking anymore new jobs until spring. When I explained my situation and said that I wasn’t ordering a new shingled roof, but a roof system that changed her tune. This system must be quite lucrative, enough to let us jump the line.

We thought that we had heard the squirrel in the loft again, but now I’m not so certain. Anne went up in the loft and the sounds continued. Didn’t see anything, but when she went outside the sounds ended. I think that the squirrel was on the roof. We trapped a fourth mouse in the loft, which seem to be never ending. Anne thinks that we have not heard the squirrel lately, because it has been so windy. This morning it is much quieter and still. She may have something with that idea. Anyway, that’s the rodent report for today.

Anne that other woman from Michigan, got to show off her new quilt to her cousins and garnered sufficient admiration from them validating her sense of self worth. After being somewhat too cool here for the last few days, it looks like we’re due for a warmup. Anyway, it looks like it will be quite the beach day today. Time to step away from the blog.

Stag’s-Horn Clubmoss

Stag’s-Horn Clubmoss

Down the beach by Doelles, we found these plants. It is an ancient species. One of the first vascular plants or plants with tubes to conduct water that ever existed. It dates back over 400 million years from the Devonian epoch, to when life had first risen from the seas and begun its terrestrial conquest. Name aside it is not a moss. Appearances aside it is also not a fir, but something more ancient. Named for its club-like projections or “candles” that can be seen held above the small leaved, conifer-like stems, they stick up and are known as strobili. They produces numerous minute spores for reproduction, for 400 million years now and counting.

Anne and Bill arrived. They brought the contract for the roofer that caused way more problems downstate than expected. Maybe I should have gone the printed route as he first suggested? Thanks to Anne and Bill for their assistance.

Not much new on the squirrel front. It went 36 hours without a peep, but then at first light I heard its tale-tell scratching. They sounded weaker than before, either he is becoming more cagey or he is really trapped and is growing weaker. It was quiet enough that I was able to fall asleep again and Anne never even woke up. If you are out past midnight gazing at the stars, you are not going to be a morning person. I googled squirrel bait and peanut butter is recommend, which is what we are using. Anne added the tops of strawberries that we had had for breakfast. The guinea pigs always liked those. Anne crawled beneath the cabin looking for holes, but couldn’t find any. We only ever hear or see this critter in the loft. I think that it is trapped up there and our only hope is to lure it into one of the smaller traps before it dies.

I cooked up a storm, fixing maque choux to go with the taco meat I cooked the day before. We’ll be living off of this combo for days yet to come. I also made creme brûlée. Haute cuisine has come to the cabin, but we’ll top it with ice cream to maintain our roots.

Second squirrel 🐿 update: This morning Anne was awoken by the squirrel at 4 AM. It is definitely a morning person, woman, man… Then she felt debris (pine cones and pink insulation) falling near her from above. She also heard stuff falling near the door. I had just swept the floors yesterday! Then she heard a loud snap. Rising to investigate she found a rather dead mouse 🐁 in the rat trap. Using a coat hanger, she took it all outside. Later I was informed that it is a gentleman’s job to dispose of the body in the swamp. I did it, but I should point out that she is the landlord around here. While writing this a squabble erupted between a pair of squirrels outside and Anne ran to the window to investigate. Waving my hand, I had to say, those are not the squirrels you are looking for.