Sunday, February 7, 2016

hurry, hurry!

So I heard some people say that the Super Bowl is today.  Really?  Great, who's playing?!  Oh well, doesn't matter, I love hockey...

Actually, around here, one would be hard pressed to NOT know about the Broncos in the Super Bowl.  Although, I think after their last visit two years ago, things are a little humbly toned down this time.

Our fair city hosted its 5th annual Super Bowl half marathon and 5k.  I wasn't sure if I'd do the half this year, what with Dad's passing and all.  Didn't really know if I was in the spirit of things.  Then I thought, oh pshhhaw. Or something like that.  It would probably be therapeutic.  I remembered running it last year, just about a month after my mom passed.  It was  nice.  So on Friday, I registered.

There's not a whole lot of focus involved in distance running, so the mind can wander wherever it wants while the feet just carry on with the left, right, left, right, left, right,.. This year, Dad would be at the forefront.  I even silently said, "Dad, this probably isn't your thing, but it's going to take me a while, so I'd love to have you come along :)"

And it was nice.  I'm really glad I did it.

We had a crap ton of snow earlier in the week, so course conditions were questionable.  But the directors assured us that it had been plowed twice and was in "typical winter running" condition.

I wore my regular road shoes, and in hindsight, I probably should've gone with the trail shoes.  It was pretty sloppy slushy snowy muddy icy.  Quite a few people had yak trax or screw shoes, which were overkill.  But my trail shoes, lazing around back home in my closet, would've been handy.

Either way, I had a good time.  Temperatures lingered in the 30s, the sun shone the whole time, and the atmosphere was festive as always.  All finishers got a medal/bottle opener.  Win!

About 650 ran the half-marathon, so it's not quite the big show that Agg does every year.  Still, there were nice spectators along the way, and I spotted some fun signage.

  • All Toenails Go To Heaven!
  • You can do it, Random Stranger!
  • I love you, Mom.  You're my favorite runner! (Awww....)
  • Hurry, Hurry, Omaha! (and other Bronco-esque stuff)
  • Run fast, we're Freezing! (at one of the aid stations)

Anyway, the stats:

Time:  1:51:50
188th place overall
47th for the ladies
1st for the old ladies

I'm okay with my time, considering all the slipping and sliding and the big puddle that left me with wet socks for the last 4 miles.  It's nice to just have finished without having fallen on my face along the way.

And a bonus:  announcer pronounced my name correctly at the finish line.

Thanks, Dad.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

drop by drop

Thank you, everyone, for the nice thoughts and words about Dad.  No matter how prepared - and even kinda hoping for it, for his sake - it's a difficult thing to lose a good dad.

But it's sinking in and getting easier with each passing day.  I think of the conversations he and I had this past year.  Death was often the topic of choice.

He'd lived a pretty colorful life up until around the time I was born - served in WWII, was stationed in the Phillipines, met and married my mom there, traveled around and worked in civil service, owned a radio station, had three kids...   He was 40 years old when I was born, and at that point, he settled down and took a job as a math, science, and engineering instructor at the junior college in our little hometown.

Dad, apparently practicing his powers of meditiation
one late 80s Christmas...
So while he was quite experienced, book smart, and very logical, he also enjoyed studying philosophy, meditation, religion - the whole "meaning of life" bit.  He'd recently began identifying mainly as a Buddhist (if he had to pick something).

In addition to his robust health that kept him going for 91 years, despite his age, his head of hair remained relatively full and wavy.  Since it all had turned white, we would think of  him fondly as "Moses".  This past year, he began going with the buzz cut.  I suspect this was mainly for practical purposes, but I told him he even looked like a Buddhist monk.

I'll miss those conversations.  I think what I'm most grateful for at this point is that my dad's mind stayed sharp right up until the very end.  If it had been reduced somehow by dementia or other neurological problems, that would have been truly tragic.

A few  hours after my dad's passing, I got a call from a rep from the local organ and tissue donor facility, as my dad was a registered donor.  She asked for my consent and then went through several questions for screening purposes.  Afterwards, I remarked that I was honestly surprised that they would be very interested in the remains of someone my dad's age.

But she explained to me that his skin was very useful.  Apparently, older skin is better than younger skin for grafting.  The less elasticity, the better - who knew??

“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.
“Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.Buddha


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

sad update on the down

So... my Dad passed away yesterday.

All in all, this was not a surprise.  And given his rough Sunday night, we all figured this could be "It". It's somewhat comforting to know that this is what he's actually wanted for a while.  He wasn't sad or depressed, he was just ready for the next phase.

So while a large part of me is very sad, another part of me is relieved and thinking, "wow, he did it".

We got close to two feet of snow beginning Sunday evening.  Most everything has been shut down for two days, and Meego has yet a third snow day today.  I was hoping Dad would still be around, and I would go down to see him on Friday as the weather forecast looked good.  

I'm just so happy to have my many memories of him.  Our conversations, especially in this past year, have been special.  Before my mom passed, when I called, he would talk with me for a bit and then, "Here, let me give the phone to your mother".

He was a deep thinker, enjoyed long walks, and loved good conversation.  He had no patience for small talk.  As a running joke, I would sometimes greet him with, "How are you?(don't wait for an answer) How 'bout those Broncos!?"

A friend of mine yesterday said that grief is not something we go through and then come out the other side like we were before.  It's something we absorb and it becomes part of us forever.

That's what I'm doing.  I'm absorbing.  And looking forward to going on walks again with Dad.

Monday, February 1, 2016

downs and ups

As expected, today was major snow day.  I did shovel duty three times because I'd rather shovel in small multiple batches rather than one big huge batch.  Since we were stranded at home, that plan was doable.  Magnum worked from home and took a shoveling break too, for a total of four passes.  It needs another pass, but screw it.  Meego was home too, but I figured I'd let him just enjoy the snow day and hope that he would voluntarily grab a shovel at some point.  Surprise. He didn't.

My dad had a rough night last night.  Sadly, this has happened before and will likely happen again.  It's probably the reason for the big gash he got on his forehead a couple of weeks ago.  Simply diagnosed as brachycardia, which is a slowing of the heartbeat.  In my dad's case, it's super slow - like 18 beats per minute.

So it's upsetting because I feel like the universe is beating up my elderly dad.  His heart rate drops.  He falls.  He injures himself.  He doesn't want a pacemaker.

I've asked  him what these episodes are like.  Does he see "the tunnel"?  The "great light"?  Loved ones that have gone before??

Nope.  It's just "no fun".

Despite this, he's quite calm in general.  Even the doctor commented to me about how nice he is about the whole thing, even when he's in quite a bit of discomfort.  Honestly, five or ten years ago, I wouldn't have expected this from my dad.  But he's reached a point where he's just very accepting.  And since my mom passed away last year, the weight of  leaving her behind is gone too.

Still, Universe... stop punching him in the face!

On the up side, one of my nephews got engaged over the weekend.  I learned of it because he popped the question during Snowdown - a winter celebration in Durango, CO - and the proposal happened to be captured by someone shooting an amateur video of the party.

So the video was shared and reshared and reshared some more on facebook all day yesterday, with my nephew and the lucky girl tagged each time.  I received multiple feeds.  I won't embed it here, but here's [the link] to the video.  Remember, I said it was amateur!


I don't actually know why there is a marching band in a bar, but apparently it was all part of  Nephew's plan.  And what the heck, looks like fun!

Anyway, my nephew is a pretty big burly guy and super likable.  I can totally vouch for him as I've known him since his whole body could fit on my lap.  I've considered him to be a good catch for a while.

So sorry, ladies.  One less ghostbuster in the pool.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

fresh air, sunshine, and meat

There's a predicted big storm headed our way.  It's just teasing now with pretty fluffy snow outside. The ugly mean snow is expected to arrive later on and the meanness will last until mid-week.  So, in preparation, we went out yesterday and stocked up.

Not on food and other provisions, which might have been the more practical thing, but we stocked up on fun outdoor time.  After managing to rouse the teenager, we headed for the hills.

If lost in the wilderness, it can be helpful to have fuschia shoes

Despite the weather forecast doom, yesterday was a warm day for January.  The trails were quite muddy slushy snowy, but manageable.

And it was nice to see quite a few others of all ages out enjoying the area as well.  But not so many as to not give a sense of being in the boonies.

We were at Spruce Mountain Open Space, which I highly recommend.  It's easy to get to and has great views.

Sacrificing safety for the all important photo
(disclaimer:  Meego made me do it)

We even managed to log a geocache during our indulgent adventure.  The clue said it was "in plain sight".

Well, I guess it would be in plain sight if you live inside the old dead tree stump.
Thus satisfied, I can now accept my outdoor time being spent with a snow shovel.  For a while.

Speaking of outdoors and provisions, our neighbor apparently went out, hunted down, killed, and processed an antelope.  This because he gave us a couple of pounds of freshly processed antelope meat.

I've never eaten antelope and just keep picturing this------->

which is why I'm not much of a meat eater and would really suck as a hunter.  But since the deed is done, I'm thinking I'll slow cook it into a stew and let the carnivores have at it.

The neighbor is a nice guy, and now I see that he could also come in handy for the apocalypse.  

So as I'm probably settling into a few days of cabin fever spent with cooking dead animal, I'm plotting a course to help me through... other than just hoping for a good outcome from that groundhog on Tuesday.

Feel free to take pity on me with updates on your blogs for me to read.  My note to self to "don't look down" only carries me so far.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

my name is not Normal

"Hello Ms. Barker,

Thanks so much for letting us know about the issue you have raised. I immediately closed the listings and will send all the books back to our warehouse for inspection. We deeply appreciate the way you have handled this - it really means a lot to us!

Best of luck with your studies and may 2016 be an outstanding year for you and your family!

Sincerely yours,


Yeah, blah blah blah blah....

Okay so this thing happened.  I'm a typically pretty organized person, relative to our offspring anyway, which upon writing that, I realize isn't necessarily that organized.  Anyway, I'm usually  organized enough.  AS SUCH, I ordered a textbook for a class I'm taking this semester a little over a week in advance of the start of class.  Obviously, I ordered a "used-in-good-condition" book because who in the heck buys textbooks new??

I ordered it through amazon from a "top seller", with high customer satisfaction and all that.  I also have a prime account, so I happily received the book in two business days.  It was nicely packaged and lived up to its "used-in-good-condition" description.  I leafed through it for about 10 seconds, then put it on my tidy shelf where it would be all set to go for the start of class.

The day before the first day of class, the professor posted the syllabus, which I perused a bit.  In my perusement, I realized the book that was sitting on my tidy shelf was not the book she was referencing in the syllabus.  What the...?

Scenarios flashed through my mind:

  • I ordered the wrong book (no way)
  • The mean professor changed the book at the last minute! (how dare she!)
  • The lame university bookstore doesn't have the right information! (oh for chrissake!)

Either way, I knew I needed the correct book, so I flashed over to amazon to order the different book, then set about returning the wrong one.  Lo and behold! I discovered that I'd ordered the right book in the first place.  The dang "top seller" sent me the wrong one!

To add to the confusion, the book they sent me was similar to the one I'd ordered - same subject matter, similar title - but different authors and, obviously, different ISBN.  So when it arrived, I didn't even think to check if it was the right one.  If they would've sent me something like "Goodnight, Moon", for instance, I mighta noticed!

The right book (from a different top seller) arrived just a couple of days after class started, so no biggie, and amazon promptly processed my return.  I was still pretty disappointed in that original seller, so I wrote a little review.  I did mention that I doubted this was a common problem, and that the book arrived promptly and nicely packaged, but still... I gave them a 2-star "poor" overall rating.

Not ten minutes after my review went live, I got a phone call.  Joe.  Wanting to know what happened. Explaining that he was so very sorry.  That theirs was just a small family business.  That he was worried about the negative effects...

Okay fine.  I told him I'd remove my review.  I mainly just wanted them to be aware of their mistake and  hopefully be more thorough in the future, not so much to deter other customers from purchasing from them.  Obviously, he was now aware.  He thanked me profusely, and after the deed was undone, I received the above e-mail.

Interestingly, as I was removing the review, there was a pop-up window from amazon asking my reason for deleting it.  It mentioned "Don't do it just because the seller asked you to".  Well, yeah, that was kinda my reason, but I deleted in anyway.

I did take note that in the e-mail he sent, Joe spelled my last name, Barker, correctly.  More often than not, those who don't know us personally, spell or pronounce our name "Baker" upon seeing it in print.

Which did you see?  Go ahead, be honest.

I'm no baker, by any definition of the word.  So I give Joe credit for getting that right.  Now, if only he could read ISBNs.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

The east sucked all our snow. Thanks!

While the eastern part of the country is digging out, I feel almost guilty - but not really, not at all - with the last couple of days when we've had spring paying a visit.  Don't worry, it won't last.

Apparently, Friday was "Orange Friday" around here.  About a football game or something later.  I stopped on the "Popcycle Bridge" - an old rundown bridge that was recently revamped along the trail system.  It includes painted lines and decals, cute benches, and traffic signs, as a place for young kids to learn the ways of the road.  We old kids like it too.

I don't own any Bronco gear, but Bella was up for the fashion challenge.

Speaking of rules of the road, I got Meego signed up fro Driver's Ed this week.  I called the place and the guy says, "Got number three set to go, eh?"

He remembered us?

He probably had all our information at the ready from my phone number, but I do appreciate the familiarity... and the family discount.

We haven't figured out a car for Meego yet, which he is very happy about.  We want him to learn to drive a stick, but our current fleet is all automatics.  Chaco bought the Civic off us, and I doubt he'll loan it to Meego for the cause.

We're not trading Ellie Mae, she's so lovably functional.  We inherited my mom's 2000 Toyota Echo, which would be great if it were a stick, but it's not.  No way we're trading that either, because... Mom.

So Meego's grinning like the Cheshire cat, and offering to help pay for "his" car.  Since he started making decent money last summer, he's considered possible cars.  He was googling images one day, and I mentioned that I remembered wanting a Honda CRX back in the 80s

So he did a quick image search and replied,

"You wanted one of those??", rather incredulously.

"Yeah.  So??  Whassamatter with that?", I replied.

No answer, just a strange look.

So I'm totally in the market for one now.  Because every boy should learn to drive in his mom's teen dream car.