Tuesday, January 31, 2012

and now for something really stoopid



I'm on stakeout.  The people around me are going about their business, totally oblivious to my mission.  I blend in perfectly.


No change, but something should be happening at any minute.  My heart rate increases.


I'm still waiting for "the thing" to happen.  I continue to blend in perfectly.  I'm getting bored.   And a bit hungry.  I should have brought snacks.  On TV and movies, there's always snacks at a stakeout.


Still nothing.  Screw this.  Mobilize plan B.  I'm going in!


I am now inside the compound.  I'm absorbing the necessary information without tipping anyone off to my true purpose.  As reluctant as I am to do so, I realize I must fall in line with the others.


Still in line.  *YAWN*


At last, I am in position.  I speak.
"Uhm... yeah.... Uh..."  I should have rehearsed this better, "I... uh... lost a couple of RedBox videos in the drive-thru drop box yesterday.  I saw that the mail is collected from there at 12:45 on weekdays, so I came by to.... uh.... get them"

She speaks.
"Videos?", *please not so loud!*  "Are they Netflix videos?" *seriously, I can hear just fine!  Turn it down a coupla notches!  The others might HEAR you!*

Me again.
"Uhm, no.  They're RedBox videos?  They were accidentally dropped in with some mail yesterday, and I just want to get them back so I can return them to RedBox" *pleased at my adept use of passive voice so that I never confessed that I was the one who put RedBox videos in the mailbox*

"OH!" *was that a hint of a smile?  This isn't funnyIt's just embarrassing and stupid!*  Actually, it's my job today to collect from the drop box and I'm way behind.  I don't know when I'll get to it.  I can take down your information though. "

I give her my information - name, phone number, video titles.  I tell her that I have  PO box there that, should she find them, she can just put them in.  "That would be awesome", I add pamperingly.  She is surprisingly friendly.  I think she might actually do it!  *ominous mistake*

Monday night

No word.  I check the PO box.  It seems absolutely cavernous in its stark foresaken devoidness.


I call.  Tell my story from scratch because I talk to a different person who knows nothing about any videos.  She takes down all my information.  I think she might actually do it!  *when will I learn?*


No word.  I check the PO box.  It's an absolute lonely chasm of  yawning hollowness.

I call again.  Talk to someone else.  He says, "Oh, well that mail went down to the sorting facility on Monday".  Note:  it's Wednesday... *big sigh*

"Right, I would just like to know who I need to sleep with what I need to do to retrieve those videos."

He gives the number to the sorting facility.  Long, long message followed by a beep.  I tell my story from scratch again.  This would not be my only message to the sorting facility who never returns my call despite their promise.


Sorting facility calls me.  By this point, I've resigned myself to having to pay $50 for a couple of mediocre videos that I will never see again in my life.  I'm brainstorming things I can sell for $50 to make my universe right again.  But...

He speaks.
"Yeah, I got your videos and sent them back to the branch on Tuesday.  They sent them back here for some reason".  *thanks a lot for NOTHING branch people!* 

He says he'll try again.  He's got my PO box number and will send them directly there.  I should have them on Friday.  He sounds friendly and competent and helpful, but I've got walls up  now.


I check the PO box.  It's like Christmas in there.

Monday, January 30, 2012

reality check

It was an unseasonably warm afternoon last Wednesday.  Kids were just getting out of school.  People were out and about, running errands, going to or from work, etc.  I was doing the crossing guard thing.

 I had two girls ready to cross the street and found a moment when the traffic wasn't too jammed up to do just that.  The light changed, the traffic stopped, the walk sign began to flash and buzz. 

The SUV came barrelling through.

I saw her coming, and so did the girls.  I knew she wasn't going to stop.  Despite the flashing school zone lights.  Despite the flourescent signs.  Despite the stopped cars.  Despite the other drivers honking at her.  Despite me and the kids.  She drove on through at about 45 miles per hour.

I was standing near the edge of the road, and she was in the lane closest to me.  If I wanted to, I could have reached out my stop sign and scratched that SUV up good, but I didn't.  Not in real life anyway. 

I watched her face as she drove by.  She actually looked a little startled, probably from the other cars honking at her.  Maybe it was just dawning on her that something was different. 

And it stayed with me.  For hours afterward.

There are speeders every day.  There are the occassional red light runners.  Oddly, this was the first time they were ever in combination.  It's like some drivers can only concentrate on one rule at a time.

"Okay, I can reduce my speed, but I can't pay attention to the traffic light at the same time" or vice versa.

So yeah, the barrelling SUV bothered me - not in a scared-the-bejezuss-outta-me way, but in a how-can-she-have-been-so-effing-clueless way.  It bothered me so much, I vented a bit on my facebook when I got home.  I hardly ever put anything on my facebook wall, can't remember the last thing, and don't care enough now to go check. 

Later that evening, I was still all *razzum frazzum razzum frazzum*.  I vented to Magnum as we went for our old folks walk.  I was replaying it in my head too much.  Then I would replay the other version - the one where I scratch her up. 

I wasn't proud of this.

I'm not posting this to b*tch about that driver.  Eventually, I did let it go.  But I would have liked the letting go to have happened sooner.  And honestly, as I rehash it out here, I'm starting to feel the *razzum frazzums* trying to bubble up again. 

So, I'm seeking advice again.  How do you let things go and keep them from messing with you after they're done and gone?  Is there an event or situation you still can't let go of?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

It's the last Sunday of January already!  The weeks are a-flying.  I thought I'd do a little review of the month to kick off this week's silver liningness:

  • I've run 113.5 miles so far this month (gotta include that .5).  This included getting new compression tights and racing a strange person in the dark.
  • I did 5 artworks.  One was a portrait of Rafael Nadal who lost in the Australian Open final yesterday.  Did my portrait help him get to the finals, or contribute to his losing?  I'm actually a bit superstitiously sports curious and pondering what to do for the Super Bowl. 
  • I unloaded a bunch of Run with Lumber crap supplies.  I chaired that event for 6 years and am glad to hand over the responsibility to my worthy successor.  I'm also very glad to have all that crap outta my house.
  • Tutoring biz was steady but not overwhelming this month.  Carry on!
  • I've managed to keep up with NaBloPoMo and blog each day in January.  I'm going to sign up for February.  Anyone else??

Run With Lumber 2011 Success

As for this past week, it was another goody.  Chaco and I went bowling yesterday.  Notice that we can rearrange the letters of "Chaco" to spell "Coach".  He gave me some helpful pointers, and I felt and saw results almost immediately.  Not all that tough to do since I used to basically walk up to the line and just throw the ball in the general direction of the pins. 

And did I mention that I got my very own bowling ball this week (SQUEE!)?  It's pretty.  My new goal is to break 150.

I was working with a new young tutor student and wanted to assess her skill level.  I asked her a few questions regarding her knowledge of math terms and asked, "What is a negative number?"  She answered "One that isn't very good".  I think I might need to make a list of favorite incorrect answers.

As always, I'm thankful for my blog friendships and the support and camaraderie that go with them.  They keep me positively positive!  I less-than-three all of you!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Hello and welcome to Illustration Friday Saturday.  This week's prompt is "forward", and I guess I still have bicycles on the brain, so  drew one.

I was going for the perspective shot here, the whole idea of moving "forward".  I for one, have yet to master going backwards on a bicycle - on purpose anyway.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

love hurts

One minute, we were happily reunited at the end of a long day, looking forward to some quality time together, the next, it was all wrong.  So so wrong.

I was just a poor college student at the time, but life was good.  In about another year, I'd have my degree and be poor student no more. 

That day had progressed like most other days.  A day of classes and homework.  It was late afternoon when I tiredly retrieved my bicycle from the rack and began heading for comfy home.

Pedalling easily across campus, I took in the fresh air and the welcome movement after a day in the books.  It was overcast, like it was going to rain.  I noticed a car headed in my direction.  It was an Audi.  I noticed it begin to turn left.  And keep on turning.

There was no time for me to react, to turn my bicycle or shield myself in any way.  At that point, everything turned all slow motion.  There was the smack of the car hitting my bike.  Slow motion, I was in the air.  Slow motion, I was on the hood.  Slow motion, I was on the windshield.  Slow motion, I was on the edge of the hood.  Slow motion, I dropped to the ground. 

The next thing I remember was people standing over me.  Other students.

"Are you okay??"

*standing and staring*

"I'll be a witness for you!"

And the driver of the car, emerging.  "OH  MY  GOD, Are you okay?!  I didn't see you!  Are you okay?!"

I was a bit dazed and surprised, but otherwise okay.  These days, such a thing just might send me blubbering to my Chiropractor and begging, "Do me!  Do me NOW!"  But back then, yeah I was a bit bruised, but none the worse for wear.

Some of the rubber-necking students helped me up and picked my backpack off the ground.  Ironically, I had landed on my physics book while demonstrating Newton's laws of motion.  Ironically, the woman who hit me did so while making an illegal turn towards the Law building.

I was still feeling a bit dazed, but glad that I really wasn't hurting much.  Then, I picked up my bicycle. 

It was a robust mountain bike - specifically a Specialized StumpJumper.  I'd gotten it second hand at a great price.  I loved that bike. 

And it was broken. 

It couldn't walk roll at all.  The front rim was like a taco, the front fork a nearly useless appendage.  It broke my heart.  My bike had saved me by taking the brunt of the impact.

The Audi driver was still a bit freaked out.  My broken bicycle, I think, actually perked her up because now she could do something to make amends.  She drove me home, all the while, she was talking nervously and continuing to apologize.  All the while, I was wondering if it was safe to be riding with her.

She gave me her address and telephone number, told me to have the bike repaired and she would pay for it.  I took my bicycle straight from her car and transported it to my little hatchback and headed for the bike shop. 

"Do me!  Do me NOW!", I begged the shop guy.  Uhm... for the bike repairs I mean.

It was a few days, but eventually she was back as good as new.  My bodyguard.  Years later, I sold her to a friend of mine in upstate New York who coordinates host families for foreign exchange students.  I recently heard from my friend, and she tells me how the bike is still enjoyed by the many students that shuttle through.  
Fresh from the "spa"!

So I'm feeling a little bicycle love today. And I just picked Tessa up from her annual tune up at the shop.

She's beautiful!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

dear darkness

The morning was dark.  There was no moon. It seems to bring out the strange.

Mouse Town was particularly eerie.  Recall that Mouse Town (my personal term of endearment) consists of several acres of undeveloped land that sits in limbo ever since the a booming community of Preble Mice was discovered.  Mouse Town is along one of my favorite running routes and I enjoy the break from civilization.  On these dark mornings, it's almost otherworldy.  No lights, no concrete, no human evidence other than the trampled trails. 

I have seen and heard coyotes in Mouse Town.  I had an interesting encounter with a crazed deer in Mouse Town.  I have yet to meet any of the rodentia. 

This morning I emerged from the darkness and feralness of Mouse Town and was thinking that the remainder of the run would be relatively tame.  I passed by a high school kid walking to school.  He carried a lit-up iPod and was making noises at it (singing?).  A little further on, I stopped to wait at a crosswalk and the kid joined me.  He was about six feet tall and gangly, wearing a backpack over a black leather jacket, jeans, army jungle boots, and a hickish mesh cap. 

Our light turned and I resumed my run across the 6-lane road and soon both heard and felt the jungle boots slapping against the pavement.  The kid was also running now.  He was racing me.  How fun!  At least I hoped he was racing me as opposed to being about to pounce on me and beat me to a pulp just because I'd heard him singing. 

But then, I reasoned, if he was going to pounce and beat me to a pulp, he wouldn't do it in the well-lit intersection of a 6-lane commuter road.  No, he must be racing since, additionally, I was carrying nothing of value for him to mug me for.  Well, I was wearing the awesome tights, but I don't think they're his size.

He surged ahead just as we made it to the curb and continued running full out.  He continued for about a half a block, then slowed to a shuffle.  At that point, I reminded myself that not everybody walking with a backpack early in the morning is necessarily a high school kid.  It was still a bit early for school, but I often encounter kids who have morning clubs and such.  This kid looked more like he had a smoking circle to attend, but who knows.

He moved to the side to allow me to pass and turned towards me.  I smiled and thanked him for the race as I went by.  He was panting heavily and giving me a look that said, "Why would you want to keep running?!"

At that, I decided I liked him.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

don't try this at home, or anywhere

If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style. - Quentin Crisp

It would be a night to remember. 

I was with three of my best friends.  Late spring.  Beautiful night.  We were all 17-years-old and very very wise.  Or so we thought.  Being young and wise and high on friendship and the beautiful night (and there was probably beer present, I'm thinking yeah), we waxed philosophically about our lives and deep topics like friendship and boys and


For those unfamiliar with the term "cow-tipping", it's something of rural lore pertaining to the act of tipping over cows.  No, not "tripping" over cows.  TIPPING over cows, as in pushing on them until they fall over.  For those who have heard of this and wonder of it's truth, there is NO truth!  It's all a big MYTH!!

Three of the four of us didn't know that.  We do now.

The fourth one was a rancher girl named Stephanie.  Stephanie lived in the outskirts of our little hometown.  There were lots of smallish hobby-type farms and such around our boonie-filled town, but Stephanie's place was actually quite an operation.  A real ranch that was her family's business.

And they had cows.  Lots of cows. 

That's where we were that night, in a cow pasture under the moon and the stars.  The four of us, the many cows, and  Stephanie's dogs, Shep and Red Neck (really, those were their names).  I remember sitting on the ground, leaning against Red Neck as our discussion turned to cow-tipping. 

Theresa was most curious and asked Stephanie if it was true. 

"Yeah, we tip them over all the time.  Want to do one now?"

Of course we did. 

"Just find one in the open that isn't moving around much.  That means that it's probably asleep.", Stephanie instructed, "then just walk up to it quietly, and then SHOVE it good!"

Okay, the three of us would do this together.  In the dim moonlight, we found a suitable victim. 

"I don't know, it seems kinda mean", Carolyn was having misgivings. 

"Nah, they pretty much sleep through the whole thing", Stephanie assured.

We approached.  Some of the other cows moved off slowly, but our target remained. 

I remember how, up close, cows are a lot bigger than they look on TV and the movies.  That was part of the fun of hanging out at Stephanie's - all that real world knowledge!  This cow was no exception.  It suddenly seemed enormous. 

Nevertheless, the three of us positioned ourselves - legs anchored, hands lightly on the cow's flanks. 

"Okay," I whispered (why was it me that counted us off?), "one... two... THREE!"  BIG SHOVE!

That cow did not tip.  Didn't come close to tipping.  The only things that fell over were Theresa, Carolyn, and me.  The cow, on the other hand, was I think a little pissed off at the whole thing.  She reared her head at us, kicked a little, and took off for about 10 steps.  The other cows were all a little wtf?  too.   In today's terms, it was an epic fail.

I was glad it was dark and I wasn't quite sure what I'd landed in.  The three of us laid there laughing at each other, but clearly Stephanie was laughing the hardest. 

"Cows don't sleep standing up (YOU BUTTHEADS)!  That's just a bunch of bullsh*t somebody made up!  Like you're really gonna tip one over!"

And then, "Come on over to the barn, I'll hose you all down".

A night to remember.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

what we wear

It's like the wrap around a gift.  It's often the first impression.  It's our clothing.  Sometimes, our clothing is the only clue to our personalites.   It can build up or, likewise, destroy our image.  Like it or not, others relate to us through what we wear and the way we wear it.

This is certainly important in our professional lives.  Tips abound for what to wear to job interviews, company parties, "casual Fridays". 

My first job was working in a hotel restaurant in southern Colorado.  Most of our business came from tourism, and my restaurant cohorts and I ran around in our denim skirts, western shirts, - and yes - bandanas tied around our necks.  Our nametags were little metal sherrif badges.  Oh, the abuse. 

I guess when people come to Colorado, they want to see people dressed like "cow people" even if they're in a hotel.  On a side note, I have never actually tipped a cow, but I have tried and failed.  That is for an altogether different post, however...

Despite my failure as a cow tipper, I did collect many a tip at that restaurant job, and I don't doubt that a good percentage of those tips were inspired by my "cowgirl" uniform.

I've been a hotel desk clerk, wearing a dark blazer, dark skirt, and white blouse.  I've been a quality control inspector, wearing a white lab coat.  As an engineer, I usually wore a skirt, casual top, and sensible shoes.  Now, as a tutor, slacks (no jeans) or skirt and the casual top usually do it.

But crossing guard - now there's where clothing is of utmost importance.  First, I have to be seen, hence the orange vest.  Next, I must present an air of dominion over the traffic while always presenting an aura of calm nurturing and safety for the little ones.  Lastly, I must take into account the effect of the elements in any given weather conditions.  All of this taxes me greatly.  I've probably spent whole minutes planning my crossing guard clothing plan.

Today was windy blustery cloudy.  And I had just the ensemble.  Warm yet visible, comfy yet functional, sheltering yet flexible.  i.e. Wolfgang's heather grey track hoodie.  (Don't tell him, he wouldn't like it.  Hopefully he doesn't read this).

As I put on my final preparations before heading out into the zone, Chaco sized me up.

"Hmm.  You look like... The Unabomber".

I was going for convenience-store-thief-caught-on-surveillance-cam, but I guess Unabomber is an equally flattering statement.

Monday, January 23, 2012

yeah... about that, part III

Welcome to another installment of the Life Coach Chronicles.  Part I and Part II  tell how I ended up here - in the throes of sessions with a life coach.

I spent 2 months with my coach.  Our sessions were each scheduled a week apart.  Have a session - digest for a week - have another session - digest for a week...  I thought that worked pretty well.

I never really knew where a coaching session would go.  She would ask me questions, and then based on my answers, she'd ask more questions - all the while providing insights.  Sometimes I had trouble answering.  Sometimes my answers surprised me.  Sometimes the inner critic BIOTCH tried to join in.  Often, the session would go somewhere else entirely than what I'd expected. 

And there was homework, but good homework.  One of the first "assignments" I completed was a 16" x 20" painting of the kids.  My coach never said, "your homework assignment is to paint a 16" x 20" portrait of your kids", but rather the session had led us to where I decided it would be good for me to "create an artwork that was bigger than 9" x 12"".  Because of some other discussion we'd had, I chose to do an acrylic portrait with all 3 kids as victims. 

Who's next, Bill Gates?
And to my surprise, THEY actually liked it.  I expected them to be all, "Aw, Mom, don't paint us!"  But, they in fact, liked it enough that it now hangs in the prestigious position just above the XBOX.

But we didn't harp on the art thing.  As coaching progressed, art still remained mostly a hobby for me.   As parents, a lot of us put our desires secondary to the rest of the family's.  The artplay is just the results of much needed "me time".   I needed to get comfortable with doing other "me time" things.

And nothing was heavy-handed or rigid.  My coach would often ask, "So, what do you think your homework should be?"  Or sometimes, unexpected revelations would come up, and she would ask, "Would you like to coach on that now?"

One really helpful assignment was for me to list 10 "boundaries" - or things I would not tolerate.  My list includes accepting labels for myself and others, hypocrisy, and what I call "the TGIF mentality" among other things. 

After completing that, my next assignment was to list 10 "must haves" - things that energize and motivate me.  I've got physical exercise, music, and creating art, among other things.  I highly recommend brainstorming these lists for yourself.  Be as nurturing and as naughty *wink*wink*nudge*nudge* as you want!

And as these sessions went on, I noticed that I felt different.  I felt better - more confident, more relaxed.  The different buckets in my life  were improved too.  I thought I was a better teacher, a better mom, a better wife, a better friend.  I also think my artwork and writing improved.  In the midst of this, I joined a local writer's group and jumped on NaBloPoMo to enjoy the challenge of blogging every day.

Before this, I was restless and feeling stuck and thinking that my life was passing too quickly.  It's kind of funny, looking back now.  I thought a life coach would help me find a "job".   Now, I've got inspired plans.  In some ways, I can't do them quickly enough.   I know it's not for everybody, but working with a coach was worth it for me.  As long as I remembered to keep a sense of humor too, and not take myself too seriously!

Let's share some links,shall we?

Here's my coach's site.  Tell her Abby Normal sent you and she will ...   "What??"

Then there's the site with the helpful questionnaires

I read and learned from this book, as the author was Coachly recommended. 

TED  has a lot of interesting talks on a variety of subjects.

Okay then?!  Carry on, my waywards!
(... there'll be peace... don't you cry no mo'... GUITAR SOLO!)

"Never wait until you are good at something before you start doing it.” - Brent Kelly

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Happy silver liningness day!  For starters, my oldest brother recently got hitched, with my neice (his daughter) officiating.

This is a second marriage, and he and his bride have actually been together for several years, but they went ahead and tied that knot a little tighter.

Since I'm a bit of a romantic sap, they get top billing this week.

Okay, enough mush... and speaking of sap, we had that tree thing this week.  In the end, I'm happy with my tree man selection.  He is a pretty nice guy, just lacking a bit in professionalism maybe.  I suppose that I'd rather err on the side of friendliness and competence in sacrifice of professionalism. 

 In other happenings, I had a renewed motivation to "get my act together", mainly in just getting organized around the house.  Maybe it's the New Year, maybe it's the Life Coach, maybe it was that sherrif pulling us over for an expired registration sticker (sheesh!).  ANYWAY, now that things have gotten back into a groove after the holidays, I knew I needed to revamp my work area a.k.a "The Giga Desk" (as opposed to "Mega Desk", because mine is exponentially better)

It used to be a hodge podge of art toys, teaching materials, tutoring notes, household paperwork, and whatever other crap got piled on.  It was "organized chaos", but I knew I needed to increase the "organized" and drastically decrease the "chaos".

Giga desk

This is the "After" photo.  You don't want to see a "Before".  I've already banished it from my brain.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

your face

The tree is down.  Tree man Dan made good on his promise to make yesterday up to me.  He returned today with ALL his good stuff and went to it.  He spent all day with me, only me.  AND *looks around paranoidlyHE BROUGHT A FRIEND!  I'm not angry with him anymore.

Meanwhile, Magnum and I watched a movie.  Water for Elephants.  I read the book a few months ago.  I honestly don't read much fiction, but I picked up that book and surprised myself by finishing it.   I recommend them both.

Often, when I see a movie I like, I get an urge to draw one of the characters.  It's like a taunt to me "Come on, Abby.  Let's see what you've got!  Just TRY to capture the essence of this character, I triple dog dare you!"

When I watch a movie, I really study the faces.  I get caught up in the unspoken "dialogue", and the good actors (along with direction and lighting, etc.) can really say a lot.  Sometimes they scream without making a sound.

So now, I am resisting the urge to draw Robert Pattison's "Jacob".  I'm resisting because I'm a non-conformist.  Ever since he was cast as the beautiful Edward for the Twilight saga, everybody and their grandma has been doing portraits of him.  Search "Robert Pattison Art Portrait" on Google images and see what happens.  It's almost as bad as searching "Johnny Depp Art Portrait", but not quite. 

I won't draw him either.  Not today anyway.


Another Illustration Friday Saturday!  This week's prompt is "twirl". 

To be honest, my first thought was to do a possum illustration because of the way possums "twirl" their tails around tree branches and hang upside down.  But when I looked up images of possums for reference material... I learned that, well...

possums kinda creep me out.

So I painted this instead.  If you stare at it long enough, it twirls.

Friday, January 20, 2012

the woodsman

I've stayed home today.  For a man.  With a man.

We've got this tree that we've decided needs to come down.  Earlier in the week, I screened some tree guys, and we decided which one to give the job to.  He's here today. 


Now, this is a pretty big job involving a pretty big tree.  He's working alone - chainsaws, big limbs, etc...  I figured I'd stick around just in case something goes awry, even though he is "fully bonded and insured".  And that's all well and good, I've got some things that need doing around the house, and my tutoring schedule is free.

He showed up mid-morning and got himself situated amongst the trees.  I peeked out the window and saw him hack a few branches, and things were going well.  A few minutes later, I can still hear the chainsaw, but tree man is nowhere to be seen.  It was, frankly, a little surreal.

So I go outside, and I totally bust him taking out a stump at the neighbors'.  A stump! 

And I'm just, "Dan!" (his name is Dan), "Dan!  I thought that you were MY tree man!"  I'm so hurt, I can't hide my pain. 

He starts stumbling and stuttering a response.  "Ah, Abby, I'm sorry... he asked me to remove this stump for twenty bucks..."

"Twenty bucks?  Twenty BUCKS?!?  That's all it takes for you to totally abandon me like this?", I'm raw emotion now.  He is sheepish defined.

I break down further.  "Okay, Dan.  I know we haven't been together THAT long, but I just really need to know that I can trust you, okay?  I thought we'd bonded pretty well, and I really don't want to have to re-enter the fray and  start fresh, looking for another (tree) man."

He's all about the apologetic mumble.  I continue.

"... And *sniff*  I JUST broke up with the milkman *tears flowing now*  after many years, so I'm just really REALLY VULNERABLE right now!"

"You're right, you're right", he placates, "I.. I.. I'm so sorry"

So I soften a little, "Okay, I'm happy that you are so desired by my neighbors and all, but I just really NEED you to keep it in my yard right now, okay?"

"Yes, yes.  Of course.  I'm sorry".

So he's back on my property again.  Doing what he'd said he would do, when who should show up but Neighbor Flanders!  Now SHE'S got him cornered - literally up against his truck!  That woman has no shame, I swear.

I'm frustrated again.  It's been an hour and a half and there's been hardly ANY action!  Well, for ME anyways!

Eventually, she moves off, and tree man is mine once again. 

Then we enjoy about 2 hours of uninterrupted arborism.  It was nice, but then he needs to go, and I'm fine with that.

The tree still stands.  He says he'll be back in the morning.  For more wood.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

get your fash ON

And then it was down to just one. Another resolution runner - the only one I would see that morning. They have a way of making themselves known.  She was dressed all wrong, but she seemed enthusiastic.

Her obvious mistake, in my opinion, was that she was wearing a big parka.  Like, BIG parka.  And I was thinking, "oh no, she's gonna get overheated/bogged down and she'll think that's what running is and she'll never come out again". 

I do think it's a rather cruel irony that resolution time coincides with the dead of inhospitable winter - for us in the northern hemisphere anyways.  People resolve to be more active, go run outside and freeze and hate it, or join a gym and run on a treadmill and hate it.

If only they knew - it's really just another excuse for FASHION!

Wolfgang runs cross-country in the fall and track in the spring for his school.  He doesn't do a winter sport, so the track members get together during this "off season" and do training runs together to keep in shape.  It's cold and inhospitable outside now.  He needed some new compression tights, so he and I went shopping.

And, you know when you have a coupon that says something like "$10 off your next purchase of $50 or more!",  so you rationalize buying more stuff so you can ratchet your total up to 50 bucks so you can save the 10 bucks?  Yeah, it was like that.  Wolfgang's compression tights were on sale, so I checked to see if the women's tights were too.  Lo and behold...

If I bought two pairs, I could use my coupon :). 

Plus, these compression tights were really really cool looking.  OH, they would probably be good performance-wise too...

But they were really really cool looking.  Even Wolfgang was jealous that the men's were just solid black. 

I got them.  I "saved" 10 dollars by getting them, right??  Plus, I consider it my duty to be a fashion and function example  to the resolution runners...

 if there are any left. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


There I was.  Produce section of the grocery store.  Doing the produce thing when a clean cut, friendly faced hispanic man approached. 

"Hola, habla español?", he said.

"Si, un poco", I replied.  At this point I figured he didn't speak English and possibly needed some grocery-shopping related assistance.  I put on my invisible Spanish-thinking cap and readied for his question.

Instead, I was presented with a Jehovah's Witness pamphlet in Spanish.

What the eff??

He continued to speak to me in Spanish while flipping through the pamphlet with nice illustrations of happy, healthy dark-haired people.  I stood there, saying nothing in response because I was too busy wondering why he had targeted me.  Was it that (a) I look like an hispanic person who does not speak any English? (b) I look like an hispanic person who does not speak any English and who is on a path to eternal damnation? (c) he was really a dirty old man who is into kinky Spanish spoken things, and this was his way of weeding out the potentials? or (d) something evil was afoot?

Furtherly mystifying was that I had just come from a tutoring session and was in my relatively professional version of myself, rather than a non-English speaking version of myself. 

I didn't ponder that for too long, however, because what I REALLY  wanted to know was... why was this happening to me in the produce section of a grocery store?  I can't remember ever being subjected to that inside a place of business.

Eventually, I was able to basically tell him, "Gracias, but what I really need are some tomatoes", and we parted on good terms.

Later I was thinking, I couldn't do that.  Just go up to people and start giving unsolicited advice.  It seems such an intrusion.  Plus, there are some who just Don't.  Like.  It.  Especially with topics involving religion or politics.  It's like asking for a punch in the face.

I'm curious about how others feel about unsolicited advice.  Are there some areas where it's welcome, but others where it's not?  What about giving it?  Comfortable?  Uncomfortable?  Un poco?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

the thing what happened

CRIPES it's cold this morning!  Wind.  Blowing snow.  I felt that wind all the way through my windpants AND my Miley Cyrus leggings.  Hug a crossing guard if you come across one today.

Speaking of snow, there was that little run-in with the law over the weekend...

We were returning home after a nice time in the big city, and I felt him before I saw him.  I was driving the rocking van - Chaco and Wolfgang are NOT insured to drive it, do you know what insurance premiums are for 18 and 16 year-old males?!?  Anyway, I felt this dark sinister SUV sort of sidle up beside me, like it's going to pass.  Instead, it pulls back and falls in behind me.

I check my rear view and say to myself, "Frick it's a cop!" all the while exuding an outward calm.  More specifically, it's a county Sherrif's deputy in a dark sinister SUV.  The lights come alive and start a-flashin'.

I signal to indicate that I intend to pull over, but I know I have to stall.  I tell Magnum, "We're being pulled over, you know what to do".  Instantly, he springs into action and checks the hidden compartments in the door panels.  Then he efficiently disperses the extra loose bags of cocaine to each of the kids, and they adeptly tuck them into their properly pre-determined orifices.  Well trained, they are.  Once I'm confident that the contraband is properly secured, I slow to a stop on the shoulder.  I put on my boring housewife persona while watching in the rear view as the deputy approaches.

Okay that last paragraph?  It didn't really happen much like that.  It was more just me slowing and pulling over while various earbuds began popping out with everybody saying, "Why we stopping?"  It's just that this story is, in reality, quite boring and a little embarrassing, hence the embellishment...

The deputy, he was very Bruce Willis.  Think tough-looking and hairless.  He speaks through the passenger window and tells us that our registration sticker is expired SINCE   *COUGH*  AUGUST

He takes my license and the van registration and returns to the dark sinister SUV.  I know precisely the database he is checking.  I am, after all, a woman of the law.  Well, a highly sporadic volunteer at best, but still. 

He returns and tells us he's confirmed that our registration is up-to-date, but we really need to put the sticker on.  Next time, it will be a $95 fine. 

The remainder of the drive is uneventful, and once we get home, Magnum thoroughly adheres the registration sticker that's been in the kitchen basket SINCE *COUGH* AUGUST.  Then, he does similar with the registration sticker for the Subaru.  *sigh*

With that, we invite the neighbors and all of their kids over for a wild night of narcotics.  No one has slept since Friday.

Monday, January 16, 2012

yeah... about that, Part II

Welcome to another installment of the Life Coaching Chronicles.  In Part I, I gave the story of why and  how I hired a life coach. 

It was important that I felt I could (a) trust her, (b) feel comfortable talking with her, and (c) get results.  (c) was yet to be seen, but (a) and (b) were a go after that initial consult.  And notice that I say "her" because I knew I wanted a woman coach as things were going to get personal, and it's probably best to avoid that whole "Harry Met Sally" hypothesis. 

Also, I liked that she came from a creative background as opposed to being a corporate/business type coach or a relationship guru type coach, since I felt it was my right brain that was the most confused.  I watched the movie my coach told me about in which she'd successfully tackled  a challenging role that, in turn, had made quite a postive impact on many lives. Yes, this just might work.

Artwork courtesy of Deidra Alexander

One of the first things she introduced me to was the "inner critic" and how I should train myself to ignore it.  We all have one.  It's the voice that tells us stuff like, "You're too old for a career change", or "You should do what makes sense according to your resume'", or "People will think you're weak if you tell them you hired a life coach".  WAIT, WHAT?  Or how about, "A life coach?  Seriously!?  Think you could be any more self indulgent?!?" 

Yeah, that voice.

When I was researching others' experiences with life coaching, I remember one woman who actually constructed a doll to represent her inner critic.  It was hideous.  I didn't construct an inner critic doll.

I got a bunch of homework before our official sessions began.  My coach directed me to this website where I completed a questionnaire to identify core strengths and values. Additionally, I did a fill-in-the-blanks questionnaire and colored in my wheel. 

My coach's job was not to tell me what I should do (that would be so much easier).  It's to help me figure out what I should do (that would be so much better).

After just one session, I noticed I was already thinking differently and noticing things I hadn't really thought of before.   One thing that came up, for instance, is the fact that I had none of my artwork on display anywhere in my house - not counting the couple of murals anyway.  Even the space where I do my artwork looks more like an engineer's cubicle most of the time.  Yes, I'd uploaded some here and on the art blog, but all of the originals were tucked away in binders or folders.

I thought of my art hobby as just an indulgence for me, but it wasn't suitable for the walls of my home, and not to be taken too seriously. 

It made me wonder (speaking of the murals), why I had enthusiastically "vomited" a large display of floor to ceiling bold-colored florals one day, but kept everything else in a stash?

I still don't know the answer to that, by the way.

And let me just add that Magnum supported this whole mid-life crisis  life coaching endeavor.  I told him I felt confident that the benefits would outweigh the cost, and he backed me.  "Not everyone has that", my coach reminded me. 

And that is really a big piece of this.  I know that I have advantages and opportunities that not everyone has.  Some of them I've aquired through dumb luck, but others, I've "earned", and I don't want to go squandering them. (btw, I've earned Magnum with a little help from dumb luck).  I just really want to do this right - not surprising after what the core values questionnaire told me...

After just a couple of sessions, I was already thinking differently and better.  I was putting some frames on and hanging up a few artworks one night when Wolfgang asked me what was up.   I told him it was homework from my life coach.

"You have a life coach?", he asked.

"YES!", I replied rather loudly and quickly, before I could be too embarrassed to admit it.

It had started out well, though, I thought. But it would get even better...

critter cam


Having trouble getting your kids to wear their helmets when bicycling?  I've got a solution - strap a camera to it!

Exhibit A shows a typical enthusiastic teen ready for some bicycling.  Except, he's actually wearing a helmet!   Exhibit B shows the same enthusiastic teen from the perspective of a much taller person (or the same person standing on a chair...)

Exhibit A                                                                                                Exhibit B

Yeah, okay so anyway, Wolfgang was playing around with the helmet cam.  He and I made a nice sturdy mount for it as the camera people wanted us to order theirs special (LAUGH!).  Actually, though, our CONCERTED effort consisted of me showing him where various scraps were and him then going and designing and creating and testing it out.  Yay for teamwork. 

Next time, OFF road!  Note that he wisely avoids riding on Crazy Driver Boulevard as it's just not safe to be out there unless one is wearing a bright orange vest and carrying a large bright red stop sign.

... and we wouldn't want something bad to happen to the helmet cam.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Happy Sunday! Time for a little silver liningness reflection...

First of all, this week I got a blogger award.  Now I know these things float around all over the blogosphere, but whenever I get one, I still get the warm fuzzies.  Sharing this one, however, requires a confession of sorts. 

I have another blog.

But, it's NOTHING to me!  I don't even refer to it as a blog.  It's just something that happened over the summer when I needed some.. some.. RELEASE.  

I had all these paintings and drawings laying around, and I wanted to have my own place to organize and categorize them, so I made this page for them.  That's all it was, I SWEAR.   But then some other artsy people started to visit, and so I started to visit their artsy places, and the few of us could just geek out on each others' techniques and ... well... there you go.  One of my "others" gave me this Candle Lighter Award this week. 

This award belongs to those who believe, who always Survive the day and those who never stop Dreaming, for those who cannot quit, for those who keep trying and if you’re in this catergory, you are Entitiled to this Award.

Anyway, I got it from my artsy friend, Cha, and I rather liked the sentiment behind it because sometimes, we can be our own worst critics.  I know I can, anyway. 

And speaking of other blogs, I wanted to share this great recipe I tried this week for pork ribs and saurkraut.  I got it from a food blog and I didn't save the link because I was pretty sure I could make it again from memory (I'm all about the simple).  I was looking for it this morning to link here.  There are a crap load of food blogs, let me just say!  If I ever find that recipe again, I'll give the link.

But anyway, the Real Food Project of 2012 continues.  My testers declared this recipe a keeper and I will make it again - from memory.

In movie news, I made it through Fast Five, the fifth  freaking  installment from "The Fast and the Furious" franchise.  I have now seen all five movies, and I'm pretty sure I've seen the first one more than once.  Vin Diesel aside, I know I am not the target audience for these movies.  I only mention it here because I think this makes me worthy of some award for testosteral tolerance. 

Yesterday, Chaco had some birthday money burning a hole in his pocket, so the five of us took a trip up to Denver for some big city slicking.  It was a nice little trip - weather-wise, traffic-wise, all-around-wise.  Well, except for getting pulled over by the Sherrif's department on the drive home, but that's for later...  Good thing for paint-a-horse rehab, and  now I'm better for it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Hey, it's Illustration Friday on Saturday time!  This week's prompt is "prepare", so I did this racehorse and groom.

I love to watch horse racing.  I don't gamble, I just love to watch the horses.  All that beauty, power, and grace rolled into one for a race that lasts about 2 minutes.  And it's amazing all the preparation that goes into a 2-minute race.  Maybe I'll put The Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes or Preakness on my bucket list. 

And I'm hoping maybe if I'm good this time around, I can come back in my next life as a racehorse.  Total badass filly. 

Friday, January 13, 2012


She greets me as I arrive.  Cordial.  Practiced.  Yet sincere.

The table is clean and uncluttered.  Just her textbook.  Her notebook.  Five freshly sharpened pencils.

I ask her what's new.  She tells me about a book she's reading.

She likes to read more than she likes to do math.  But I'm here, so we will do math.

We'll  play a game first.  She knows this.  She likes this.

I shuffle the cards and deal.  The game begins.

She wins.  And smiles.  I tell her she's faster than she was last time.

Open the book.  I remind her that algebra can be fun.  She's starting to believe me?

She's Wolfgang's age.  Academically, she's younger than Meego.

It makes me sad to think how lonely she was in school.

It makes me happy knowing her parents took her out.

It makes me sad that these concepts are such a struggle for her.

It makes me happy when she answers correctly and smiles.

It makes me sad that she needs a private tutor.

It makes me happy that her tutor

is me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

post partum

I was talking with a friend of mine today.  She had some news.

"Oh, MAN, I thought I was gonna DIE!", she shared.  "The pain - I wanted an epidural!  But they wouldn't give me one!"

"Really?", I said, amused at her experience.  "I kind of actually LIKED the pain.  It kept me present with the whole process, y'know?"

"Forgeddabout!  I didn't feel a need to be present.  I just wanted to see my prize at the end.  You actually LIKED the pain?!", she replied.

"Yeah.  I did.  I'm sorry it wasn't the same for you."  I told her.

"I don't know.  I remember you'd told me that it wasn't that bad.  That was part of my decision to go through with this.  But I'm happy with how it all turned out, I don't know if I could do it again, though."  She debated.

"Again?", I asked.  "You're thinking of another one?"

"Oh GAWD, I can't even think about that yet!  I'm so sore.  I hope my husband doesn't mind, but I don't even want him touching me right now!"


Yep, she got herself that tattoo she'd been pondering for some time.  A while ago she asked me for a referral to the place that did mine.  Have I ever shown it here? 

With such "body modification" - tattoos, piercings, etc. - there seems to be two main camps. Those that love it, and in fact, may even be addicted; and those that think it's just wrong/stupid/don't get it.

I can't speak for everyone with a tattoo, but for me I'd say I wanted mine as a means of self-expression mixed with a bit of rebellion? I did some research, found a good clean shop with an original artist who would design something based on my preferences. I'm happy with how it turned out. I basically wanted something "pretty" and I think I got that, but it's also got a bit of a wild edge to it that I like.

And I'm done.  I had one thing in mind, got it done, the end.

And yes, it does hurt, but it's kind of a "hurts so good" kinda thing.   Really.


I spy

... with my grainy eye

1 Navy HC-4 helicopter
1 Messerschmitt Me 262 (yes, I totally had to look that up)
1 Scratchboard rendering of "Marvin the Martian"
1 Birthday boy

Chaco's 18th birthday today.  He can now purchase his own spray paint.

I remember 18+ years ago when I was awaiting his arrival.  I lamented to some friends, "poor kid's birthday will be right after Christmas when everyone's all partied out".  They set me straight, though.

"Heck, that's when the best sales are!"  Oh.... YEAH!

Happy Birthday Chaco.  Best after-Christmas deal I ever snagged.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I did

Several years ago, a neighbor friend and I used to walk our dogs together. One day she told me that her 30th wedding anniversary was coming up. "Wow, thirty years", I commended her, "What's your secret?"

She pondered a moment and then, "Welp, every time I wanted a divorce, he didn't.  Every time he wanted a divorce, I didn't". 

Well... OKAY THEN!

Recently, I read an article by a woman advocating for term limits on marriage.  I should link it, but I don't remember where it was...   She cited the high divorce rate, and the fact that our courtrooms are already overcrowded.  Plus, divorce is expensive.  Why not just have term limits?

Her thought was, when the term is up, both can either walk away clean, or decide to "renew".  Much like we renew our driver's licenses, why not the same for the marriage license?  I don't recall what happens with property and children.   I thought it pretty outside-the-box. 

She posed an interesting question, though.  She pondered how many couples have stayed married because daily, they choose to stay married vs. couples who stay married just because they GOT married. 

Magnum signing his life away

In some ways, it seems like forever ago when Magnum and I got married.  And it's safe to say that we are in the "choose daily" bucket.  Today, I ran across another similar blog post asking if marriage was becoming obsolete.   I admit that I've wondered this one myself, partly because I've got a bit of a rebellious non-conformist streak.  I wonder, why do I need a government issued license for love?  Well, technically I don't.  I just need one for marriage.

We're in the midst of our 22nd year.  If someone asked me my secret to staying married, what would be my answer? 

(a) I love him
(b) He fixes stuff around the house for free
(c) He's warm and winters are cold
(d) Divorce was invented by lawyers, and I refuse to let them win!
(e) All of the above

What do you think?  Term limits?  Is it all obsolete?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

P.S. I'm really really sorry

Today a friend shared that PostSecret had posted his submission.  Have you been to that site/read the books?  Various people's cathartic secret confessions?  Some are rather silly bathroom-type things.  Some deal with illegal activities.  Some are downright creepy

I went to the site and checked the recent secrets to see if I could figure out which one was his.  I don't know which one and he's not telling.  I'm good with that because, it's supposed to be a secret.

There is probably a helpful psychological aspect that comes from submitting a confession and then seeing it show up in print.  I suppose I'll never know, though, since I really have nothing to be particularly sorry about.  Nope, I got nuthin'.

I don't have anything like that time back in high school, when I was pretty good friends with this girl I'll call Sherri.  Sherri had a boyfriend.  I had a boyfriend.  Sherri and her boyfriend had a rather volatile relationship.  Nothing physically violent, but just a lot of emotional ups and downs.  Theirs was much like mine and my boyfriend's.

I don't have anything like the fact that I was pretty good friends with Sherri's boyfriend too.  I'll call him Freddie.  Freddie had a fun sense of humor and was just fun to be with.  And we were on the track team together so cheered each other in our respective events.  He was a good miler, I was a pretty decent quarter-miler.  We got each other.

I don't have anything like with the whole on-again-off-againness of both mine and Freddie's respective relationships, leading to there often being emotional turmoil going on with at least one of us.  Being from a small town, we all hung out together - sometimes with the boyfriends/girlfriends, sometimes not. 

I don't have anything like the time Freddie and I and some of our other friends were out camping and talking and drinking beer around the fire.  I don't have anything about Freddie and I both being sad about our latest fights with the boyfriend/girlfriend.  I don't have anything like how the whole attraction that had been building the entire track season, combined with beer and campfire and openning up and sadness, led Freddie and me to pair up when the inevitable pairings up ensued.

Even though I don't have anything like the eventual make-out session being relatively chaste, I know if there was such a thing, it wouldn't have been parentally sanctioned.

And so I didn't experience the overwhelming guilt I felt for what I'd done to Sherri.  And when it got back to Sherri and she never spoke to me again, I don't know how much more awful that made it.  I don't know anything about how it would have made me feel so awful, that the awful feeling would last 30 years and more.

But if I did, that's what I would be so sorry for.

Monday, January 9, 2012

yeah... about that

I've kind of, sort of, but not really been wanting to blog a little more in depth about my recent search for and subsequent sessions with a life coach.  The short version is that I'm at the start of a transition phase of life and I don't want to screw it up.

The longer version begins with the fact that my kids are getting older and less dependent on me.  This is a good thing and one of my main goals as a parent.  At the same time, though, I have identified as being a "young mom" for so many years that I'm a little at a loss to know what to do next.  It's not that I have no  interest in anything else.  In fact, it's more the opposite.  I have so MANY diverse interests and I don't know which to pursue - and that "young" piece is becoming a "not so..."

So I wanted to get a handle on this, knowing that I do still have a few more years to get to a new place.  I didn't want to find myself in an empty nest with no plan.  This is, in a sense, an impending retirement for me - from a job that I've loved - and so a tough act to follow.

This life coach thing... it was really something new for me.  I've mentioned before how my first investigations into it just overwhelmed me with the sheer number of life coaches in the world.  So I got very very very specific with my search words - so specific, I can't even remember what they were.  But I'm pretty sure that "transition" was in there and "feeling stuck" and probably "meaning" too.

In the meantime, I researched to find others' experiences with life coaches.  I remember one guy who said he'd worked with a coach on two separate occassions in his life (so far).   Each time, he'd spent six months.  Six months?  What did they talk about for six months??  Overall, the experiences I read about were positive.  Certainly there are many different types of coaches from different backgrounds, but they also all seemed to follow some fundamental practices.

After visiting a few of the sites that popped up from my very very specific specific search, I contacted one for a free consultation.  Most of them offer this.  Also, like my coach, many will handle sessions via skype or over the phone.

I will admit that I was, at first, a little braced for a sales pitch.  But this coach didn't come off that way at all.  I felt that she could help me, but at the same time, our free consultation was never pushy.  I just got the impression that she truly wanted to help people who were "stuck" while "in transition" and looking for "meaning", etc...

Also, during that first consultation is where I learned that she was an actress celebrity.  This was actually relevent to what we were discussing, it wasn't just, "Hi, my name is Coach and I'm also an actress celebrity (so be in total awe, little person)".  Despite her fame, I found her to be very easy going and approachable. 

I didn't consult with any other coaches.  I hired her.

To be continued...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Greetings on this sunny Sunday!  We're one week into the last year of the earth!

As special as the holidays are, it was nice to get back to the usual and sometimes responsible grind.  School was back at it on Thursday, and I enjoyed seeing my little pedestrians and parents again at the crosswalk. 

Plus, weather-wise this past week was a mid-winter treat.  Highs in the 60's on a couple of days.  I ran errands on my bicycle while wearing capris.  CAPRIS!

A few years ago, I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I'm seriously thinking of getting my own bowling ball.  Ever since Chaco started bowling for his school, we've been going bowling more often.  Still just for fun, but I'm the type of person that, if I'm gonna do something, I'm gonna do it right (dammit!).  Bowling for real is quite new to me.  But I've seen improvement in Chaco's game and form in a relatively short time.   True, he has a coach, but he also has his own ball which is way better than those plastic community chunks at the bowling alley.  So yeah, I've got a coupon that expires at the end of the month, and I'm thinking...

Speaking of coaches, I was feeling like maybe I was stagnating and possibly backsliding after nearly two months of helpful life coaching.  I knew that once our weekly sessions stopped, it would be up to me to keep my motivation going.  But I actually find myself doing quite well on solo this week.  I guess it was a combination of the zombie flu and the holidays that got me off track, but now I'm feeling more focused and motivated and organized rather than the scatter-brained and frustrated and clueless of a few months ago. 

My coach is actually a bit of a celebrity.  I didn't know that before I met her, but that is not an indication of her lack of celebrity.  I'm just often not in-the-know of such things.  Being a visual person, I thought a small pic of the coach near my wheel would help me focus, in much the same manner as I did my Web Cam training.  It's ended up to not be necessary.  I do still have my Shia Cam, however.

And I feel somewhat obligated to give a reluctant shout out to facebook.  In general, I think it's overrated, and I use it pretty sparingly.  This week, though, I found myself involved in a very helpful professional discussion with someone I used to work with.  I've gotten to know her much better since we've become facebook friends than when we actually worked together.  I'm still pondering if that's a good thing or a bad reflection...

Along those lines, one of my very first blog friends, who no longer blogs, shares good family recipes with me on facebook.  One of my nights of real cooking was one of our new favorites I got from her.  Big juicy burgers from the crock pot!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

one week in

I went out running this morning.  Let me just clarify that I don't run every day.  I only run a couple of days during the week and usually Saturday mornings.   During the week, I'm up and out before the chickens and typically don't see much more of humanity - other than my ex, the milkman.  Such a player!

But on Saturdays, I'm out when it's a little later and a little brighter.  WHO were all those people this morning?!? 

It's time for the resolution runners.

It started with a guy going up the hill across the street from me, not far from my house.  I heard him before I saw him.  Huffing, puffing, hacking, and spitting.  He didn't look (or sound) like he was having much fun, but he kept at it. 

Next was another guy dressed all in black.  Black wind pants, black hoodie, even black shoes I think.  He was actually moving at a pretty good clip.  On second thought, maybe he had just knocked off the Western Convenience store and was not a resolution runner at all.

There were various others.  Some with dogs.  The dogs seemed both happy and befuddled, wondering what was up.   It wasn't "jam packed" by any means, but considering it was pretty chilly out and relatively early, it was noticably more crowded.  Just like last year.  And the year before that.  And the year before that.  And... well... so on.

So, good for them.  But I hope they don't feel bad if they don't stick with it.  I've known people who started running and eventually it just became, in their words, "drudgery".  I know I've had good days and bad days, but I've never experienced "drudgery".

I think I've mentioned this before that I've run for such a long time not because I'm particularly disciplined.  I just like to do it.  I don't track a bunch of statistics or use a bunch of the latest gadgetry - heart monitors, pedometers, gmaps, etc.  I don't even wear earbuds.  As silly as it sounds, I just like to go out and put one foot in front of the other, quickly and many times.  Some people knit...

I wonder how many will join me next week. 


Happy Illustration Friday on Saturday once again.  First one for 2012!  This week's prompt is "grounded", and I decided to draw an airplane.  On the ground.

I wanted it to be a pretty airplane.  It may be strange to think of a warplane as "pretty", but the Red Baron Fokker, I think, is rather pretty. 

About a year ago or so, we watched the movie.  Prior to that, when I would hear "Red Baron", I usually thought of Snoopy and/or pizza.  I liked the movie, though.  I probably wouldn't have chosen it, but the guys wanted to see it, so I watched along and enjoyed it. 

Similarly, I appreciate how these Illustration Friday prompts get me to draw or paint things I might not normally draw or paint - like this little Fokker.

Friday, January 6, 2012

in the sea

Anita is a blog friend who, in my preference, doesn't blog nearly enough.  But when she does, it's always something interesting and thought provoking.  She's done it again in writing about being the LBW (Lone Black Woman).

She ends by asking her readers:
How often are you the lone (fill in the blank)?

Before I was a mom, I was an engineer.  More specifically, a mechanical engineer.  More specifically, a manufacturing engineer.  I truly enjoyed my job, and did it for about 10 years.  But once the babies came along, the whole thing sort of lost its luster, and I hung up my factory toys when Chaco was 3 and Wolfgang was 18 months. 

<-- Amy from "Big Bang Theory".  She's awesome!

But during those years, and certainly during my time in college, I was often the lone female at meetings, on design teams, etc.  I honestly didn't think about it that much.  I suppose that growing up in a neighborhood full of boys had amply prepared me for my academic and professional lives. 

And, I think it's safe to say, that the majority of the men I worked with had no problem with me either.  I know it was awkward for a few at first, but once they got to know me, all was fine. 

At the last place I worked, when I was a new-hire, I was assigned a "mentor" to work beside while he showed me the various ropes.  He was older - in his early 60's - and close to retirement.  We became very good friends.  Later, he confessed to me, that when our boss told him that he would be training me, he "wanted nothing to do with it!".   He confessed this to me at a company picnic, after he'd had a few beers.  He went on to say what a blessing our working relationship had turned out to be, and I wholeheartedly agree.

For the younger guys, those closer to my own age, I never felt like it was an issue at all.  We all worked side-by-side, not "genderless" by any means, but simply comfortable with each other.  The whole "lone girl" thing would sometimes come up as just a fun aside. 

I do remember one guy, though.  I think he was just uncomfortable around women in general.  He was  mid-40's at the time.  We were at a design meeting discussing certain components.  Parts that fit together are often referred to as "male" and "female" for obvious reasons.  This man stopped, mid-discussion, looked at me, the lone female,  and asked, "Does it offend you that we refer to these as 'male' and 'female'?"

I almost wanted to laugh.  I almost wanted to make some sarcastic p*nis/v*gina remark.  In the end, I just assured him that no, I was not offended.

We're all just people.  I included the pic of Amy (not a mech. engineer, she's a neurobiologist, but fits the stereotype just fine) from "Big Bang Theory" since, despite my disinterest in most of TV, I do enjoy that show.  Probably because I can relate to all of the characters, and it makes me reminiscent of my working girl days.  I'll end with an Amy quote:

"Sheldon, sometimes you forget, I'm a lady. And, with that comes an estrogen-fueled need to page through thick glossy magazines that make me hate my body."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Seven Links Challenge

Terri recently challenged me to do this not-a-meme-but-sure-feels-like-one.  From the title,  it sounds like a sausage eating contest perhaps, but it's not.  It does require a bit of blog digging, and I thought it would be a good thing to do at this, the start of the new year/month.

There are 7 categories, and...
  1. The blogger who is nominated publishes his or her seven links, one for each category.
  2. The blogger nominates up to five other bloggers to take part.

Terri's submission is here

I've been blogging for a looooooong time.  I remember when I first started.  We had just moved here, and I was home with toddler Meego all day while Chaco and Wolfgang were in elementary school.  I didn't know anyone here in town yet, and blogging was just taking off (remember the days before facebook/twitter?  Remember??)

So I dug around in my blog archives to find my 7 links.  I can't go back to the beginning beginning, because I used to be at a different blog host before moving over here to blogger in '08, and I just scrapped the old stuff.  Besides, that would be too much work...

Anyway, here's what I came up with:

Your most beautiful post   - I chose Once Upon a Time, the recent post about the autistic girl / crossing guard customer who sang for me.

Your most popular post - If I go just off of pageview statistics, the "popular" posts are those that I've done for Illustration Fridays, but I wanted to filter those out because I think of my blog as the place where I write.  The Illustration Fridays are just a "thing on the side".  But similarly, a post that turned out to get lots of visits (from keyword searches most likely) is Inflation where I discussed the artist Botero and Chaco's disdain for him.  Botero is still a "rolling" joke between Chaco and me, by the way...

Your most controversial post -  Now this was difficult.  I purposely avoid controversy here.  It's my blog and I don't want to be starting fights!  This is not to say that I don't have strong opinions on certain topics, I'm just not a rant blogger.  I tentatively chose School Daze as my controversial post, but could've just as easily gone with the one about hair. 

Your most helpful post -  In Writing Good, I gave some tips on... uh... writing good. 

A post whose success surprised you  -  In this case, I'm going to go ahead and include an Illustration Friday post.  For Mysterious, I did a rather silly drawing of a platypus.  Imagine my surprise when it was chosen as Pick of the Week by the Illustration Friday bunch.  I was humbly honored to be chosen since Illustration Friday gets hundreds of submissions each week.  Tickled, really.

A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved - Remember that bear that almost ate me in A Dog Walk with Half a Face and a Bear?

The post that you are most proud of - Pride.  Hmm...   I had to think on this one a bit.  I've written posts where I'm proud of my family, or proud of something that happens at work or through volunteering.  In the end, though, I'll go with Because Second Place is First Place Last where I took first place for the ladies in a 5k.  The thing I was proud of, though, is not that I won, but that I entered it in the first place.  I participated.  Prior to that, I hadn't entered a race in years.  And I can count on one hand the total number of races I've run in, not counting high school.  But I decided to do this one, mainly because it was for a good cause and it was time and I JUST WANTED TO.  I've learned (life coach!) that I can and should do things "just for me" once in a while.  That race got me out of my shell a little - note that this year I did the Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving :).   And I actually realized that we still haven't used those coupons I won!

Okay!  That was a nice walk down memory lane.  Now here's the part where I nominate "up to" five other bloggers.  I nominate three.  Don't want to be pushy!

1.  CiCi at Liquid Mind, Sanguine Soul.
2.  Jenn at So This is Love...
3.  Judy at Where One Day Runs Into Another

... and anyone else who would like to.