Saturday, August 31, 2013


"Just wait until you've been there a while, then see what you need", was the motherly advice I gave Wolfgang when he first moved into his dorm.

One of the conveniences of having him and Chaco attending college so (very) close by is that it's easy to stock "necessities" that may have gone forgotten.  So it was no surprise when I got a text from Wolfgang:

"Can we go shopping today?  I need some stuff for my dorm and clothes"

I thought of texting back a snarky reply like, "What stuff do you need for your clothes?", but decided not to bring the grammar police into this.

Instead, I picked him up, we shopped.  And shopped.

Hours later, I dropped him off and caught up with Chaco who had a pair of my gloves I wanted back.  He came back to the house with me for "some stuff".

So where did the day go?  Oh well, it was pretty expected.  But as a result, my Illustration Friday play, where the prompt is "lush", was a rush.

I think I made up for it with this serious and complex composition...


Friday, August 30, 2013

for Cookie Lady

Back when Meego was in third grade, and I was a pretty regular volunteer mom (VoMo), the other VoMos and I shared duties with a mom who became known as "Cookie Lady".

In fact I remember the party where she earned that name.  I think it was either the Winter -don't call it Christmas- party, or the Valentine's Day love fest.  The kids were all going to decorate large sugar cookies.  Another VoMo friend and I just had to help them with the various toppings because Cookie Lady had made all of the cookies and supplied all the fixings.

VoMoing was super easy with Cookie Lady in our classroom.  I really think she just loved doing that stuff  - being a school mom and all that went with it.  That's what I told myself anyways to assuage my guilt for not doing much, but SHE said!

Meego's fourth and fifth grades sent me back to the grind as Cookie Lady's son was in different classrooms.

So I was a bit surprised to have a voicemail today from Cookie Lady.  I really don't know her that well outside of VoMo duty, and last we were in the trenches together was five years ago.  But there was the voicemail.

"Hi Abby, I got your number from an old Hoopa Choopa Elementary directory..."  She went on to say that her oldest son is a high school senior and wants to raise his college test score a few points, would I tutor him?

So here I am, on dumb Friday.  I've survived my first week back to college, and am feeling pretty good about things.  I've managed to keep my head above water even with the full tutee slate.  But I'm REALLY looking forward to having that slate wiped clean in about three weeks when the current tutee batch takes their tests and is done with me.

But it's Cookie Lady.  How could I say no?  I don't even know how she knows I'm a tutor of such things.

He's taking a later test and doesn't need to start right away.  He's just one kid.  It's Cookie Lady.

Fine.  Yes.  Of course.

But he's it.  I swear!

In the meantime, it's been a fun if busy week.  My homework's done, I've been fingerprinted and background checked up the ying yang, I have a nice undergrad for elementary teaching partner, a  nice young mom for middle school teaching partner, and have met both of my mentor teachers and some students.

I've also come close a couple of times to beating the Queen of the Mountain on one of the mapmyride courses on my bicycle commute.

Her:                                                     Me:


I will be Queen!!

But first... Cookie Lady.

Monday, August 26, 2013

the return: day 1

At long last, I went to school today.

The morning was sunny, and a bit warm for my preference, but I won't complain.  I was just pulling out of my neighborhood when who should cross my path, but Bike Lady!

She was travelling perpendicular to me, and I was a few yards back, but I recognized her right away.  She acknowledged me with a smile and a nod, but I think it's a pretty good chance she didn't recognize me as Crossing Guard Lady.  Just as I would be hard pressed to recognize her without her bike helmet and glasses, I am probably equally unfamiliar to her with my bicycle commuter get up.

So it's nice to see that she's still at it.  And for those who are wondering - I know there must be several - the school has yet to find a replacement at my crosswalk.  The reliable June has been covering my old post while a backup from school covers her spot.

The ride in was pleasant if a bit warm.  It really is a nice bicycling route that I'm glad I was "forced" into.  I rode Tessa of the lovely green tires.

As expected, the bike racks were pretty full, but I managed to squeeze Tessa on the end of a primely located one.  I think the green tires will help with theft deterrence as she was the only green-tired bike I saw on the entire campus.  What's with our youth these days??

I'm just a part-time student, but as my schedule worked out, I have one class each weekday.  This morning was my math class.  It's not part of the licensure program, but my advisor thought I should add it since it's been so long since I took calculus.  I have this class and two others added to my schedule for that reason.  I refer to them collectively as my "Old Lady Classes".

True to form, I walked into a roomful of kids, it seemed.  When I first took this class in college, I was 18.  It was a bit strange walking in thirty years later.  There were about 45 students in the class, in a very warm room after my warm bike ride.  I'd refreshed myself as much as appropriately possible before class, but I had a very strong desire to remove my shoes.  I didn't.

Then I spotted her.  A woman with much more grey hair than I have.  I doubt that anyone else in there was out of their 20's.  I don't know grey-haired's story.  Not yet.

The instructor ("I'm not a professor, just an instructor") seems nice if a bit of a fast talker.  Probably a good ten years younger than I am.

After going over a bunch of first-day stuff, he launched into a review.  All thankfully easy stuff that I actually was a bit bored with.

Tomorrow, I have my first class that is part of the teacher licensing program.  I'm looking forward to that and to meeting my fellow license seekers.

In the meantime, I guess summer's really over.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Silver Liningness Sunday

This was a bit of transition week, to say the least.  Transitioning from summer to school season, transitioning from a household of five people to a household of three.

All in all, it went pretty smoothly.  Chaco has picked up the last of his stuff, and Wolfgang and I have hit walmart twice for things he discovered he needed.  Hopefully, the dust is relatively settled now.  I'm getting used to the quietude and lack of clutter.

I have the university parent's page on my facebook newsfeed.  Late last week, they posted some items about the incoming freshman class activities, then challenged us to find our kids in a few photos.  I thought, "Oh sure, like I'll see Wolfgang in any of that mass of freshman humanity", but then *WHAM* there he was.  See him?

He says he likes his roomates.  A friend of his from high school lives in a nearby dorm, and they've had a few ukulele jam sessions(??), and one of his best friend is there, but commuting from home.  The climbing center they hang around at is just down the road from the university.

Chaco has an apartment dorm with three friends.  They're getting the hang of having to shop and cook for themselves.  After hearing all last year about how bad the dorm food was, I thought maybe Chaco was just whining.  But then Wolfgang is also pretty unimpressed.  I guess it must be pretty bad if we are two-for-two on thinking that MY cooking is actually better.

Meego is having to adjust to being the lone offspring at home, something he tried to avoid by asking me to have another baby when he was in second or third grade.  He has since learned where babies come from, and the subject hasn't come up again.  

We seem to be going forward with a Plan B of sorts, as he is putting together an amphibious vivarium while I plot my big saltwater aquarium adventure.  Babies come in many forms.

And lest we forget, I'm also dipping into the college funds.  I've got both Bella and Tessa all registered and stickered up for school too.

Roll 'em!

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Time once again for an Illustration Friday, where the prompt is "rescue".

Recently,  in our local news, a buncha - and I mean a BUNCHA - cats were found living in filth in some strange lady's trailer.  We hear these stories sometimes.  What is it with these crazy cat ladies?

Some of the cats were in horrible shape and were euthanized, but a few have been nursed to health and are available for adoption from our local shelter, along with all the other rescue cats.

A few cats I've lived with have managed to get themselves stuck in trees or rafters.  I've seen many an image of a fireman rescuing a stuck cat, but I've never seen that done in real life.  Who calls 911 when their cat is in a tree?  What would the dispatcher say?

Tuna and a can opener.  That's what I'd say.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

it was probably the zipper boots

My sixth grade teacher didn't make much of an impression on me.  In fact, I had to really rack my brain to remember him at all.

I'm losin' it with Mama Kat again this Thursday and chose the prompt:  "1.) Your sixth grade teacher."  simply enough.  Who was it??

For one thing, by the time I was in sixth grade, we were moving around, having different teachers for different subjects.  So I tried to remember who my homeroom teacher was.  I could easily remember my fifth grade homeroom teacher, so why not my sixth?

Then slowly, the image hiding in some recess of my brain emerged.  Mr. Madrid.  He taught sixth grade math and was the start to my sixth grade days.

I formed a very non-opinion of Mr. Madrid.  His skin was dark, his black hair was mostly grey, his build was medium, his circles under his eyes were dark.   I remember that he wore zippered dress boots.  I've never been a fan of zippered dress boots.  No offense to zippered dress boot wearing men, they're just not my thing.

The rumor was, as sixth grade kids must form rumors about their teachers, that he was an alcoholic.  The dark circles under his eyes were clear evidence of it.

Looking back now, he was an okay teacher, just very unassuming and un-impression forming.  But I did learn some math from him, and math was probably my favorite subject in sixth grade.  He led us through our sixth grade math standards well enough, and I remember that he said "school" kind of funny.  It was more like "skewel".

He was nice, not stern.  Almost too nice, I'd say.  Whereas other male teachers had a more authoritative classroom presence, Mr. Madrid preferred to avoid confrontation.  I imagined him just wanting to get through the day's lesson so as to clock out and return to his bottle, if rumors were to be taken seriously.

On Monday, I begin fall semester classes - first steps toward my secondary math teaching license.   I have a calculus class, a "Step 1 field based Approaches to Teaching" (elementary school student teaching) and "Step 2 field based Approaches to Teaching" (middle school student teaching).

It seems like once I made the decision to "go get that dang license already!", and once I got accepted into the program, I've just been waiting waiting waiting to get going.  The program is specifically for licensing math and science teachers.  I chose math because (a) I had already met most of the prerequisites and (b) when I lurk the school job openings, math teachers are the most in demand.

If everything were equal, I would've chosen science, and my goal is to eventually get that license too.

Throughout this process, I've remembered teachers who've made positive impressions on me.  Some are teachers I had in school, some are teachers I've worked with.

Then there are the Mr. Madrids.  It's good to remember him too.  So that if a student of mine gets a future writing prompt about me, she's not all "who the hell was it?"

Update:  As I strain to remember, I realized that Mr. Madrid was, in fact, my 7th grade homeroom teacher.  For the life of me, I have no recollection of the 6th grade void.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WAAAAH!! part 2

I'm here in my very quiet house trying to organize a boatload of school and office supplies.  Recall that Wolfgang works for a company that packs and ships school supply kits.  At the end of summer, the employees are allowed to fill up a box with any leftovers they want.

Wolfgang's box has been sitting here for a few days, no one having time to thoroughly go through it.  I decided it would be a good task for this morning.

Omigosh, it was like the freaking clown car of school supply boxes!

This is what my usually pristine home office looks like right now.

Part of it is busy work to take my mind off how quiet it is around here.  I mentioned Meego went back to school on Tuesday, Chaco moved to his dorm late last week.  Yesterday, Wolfgang moved into his dorm.  *sniff*

It was an easy check-in this year since Chaco cut the trail for us last year.  Last year, we headed over about an hour after check-in started, stood in a long line to make it to the check-in building, got to the check-in building to stand in another long snaking line, before finally getting into the dorm.

So this year, Wolfgang and I decided we'd head over about noonish.  He spent the morning packing, then we played off-to-college tetris with his stuff in the Element.  That Ellie Mae is an awesome friend to have for such activities!  So easy!

We arrived on campus, got a pick of the litter parking space, walked right into the check-in building where there was NO line.  Check-in people were sitting around eating and gabbing, and when we walked in, they literally started fighting over who got to check Wolfgang in.

We let the victor go through the whole spiel about parking and unloading and all the FAQs.  Wolfgang signed what he needed to and got his keys while I quietly sat there in full Tank Girl mode.  

Maybe we should have asked some pretend questions or something, because when he was done, our guy said, "You seem tired.  Been driving all morning?  Where are you from?"

Finally, I spoke, "Uhm.... Briargate?", as in six or seven miles up the road.

Wolfgang is in a 4-bedroom suite, same as Chaco had last year.  Private rooms with a shared bathroom and living space.  We arrived, and one of his suite mates was also there unpacking.  He seems like a nice kid, studious yet friendly.  I met his mother too who seemed a bit doting, but not in a pushy sort of way, a  nice way.  So good first impression.  I wondered their impression of us as I caught a few furtive glances at my upper right arm in all its tattooed glory.  "Really, I'm just a boring engineer-turned-mom/teacher", I tried to exude.

Chaco had called me at 7:45am to see when we'd be there so he could help out.  Since when is he up at 7:45??  Well, he is enjoying college life, and I think he likes his big brother role, in this event anyway.  

Soon, it seemed like there was no need for me to hang around, yet I was reluctant to leave.  Chaco helped by asking for a ride to a friend's house for one of their rip-roaring LAN parties.  

Okay, fine. It was time to go.  

I hugged Wolfgang, told him to keep his phone charged, and to call his mother.  

I miss him already.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

how I spent my [last day of] summer

Meego left this morning for his first day of 8th grade.  No fanfare, just back to it.  Since he's our last member of the public school system, yesterday was dubbed our last day of summer.

The elementary kids went back yesterday, and I have no idea what went on at the crosswalk.  It was a little sad not being there to greet them on the first morning, but it wore off quickly.  By the afternoon, I was thrilled to not have to go out and fight the heat, the traffic, the urge to not be out there...

I had things to scratch off my endless to-do list, but decided we should try to make the most of our last day.  Meego just finished getting Reese the snake's new palacial estate move-in ready.  He and Magnum had to build a new lid for it that needed to be secure and sturdy enough to (a) keep the snake in, and (b) keep the cat out.

After a little snake enclosure feng shui, King Reese was ready to check out his new digs.

He seems very happy with room to stretch out now.

We headed out for some token back-to-school shopping - coupla pairs of shorts for Meego and a big duffle bag for Wolfgang.  Then, a trip to the pet store to get another hide for Reese, plan out our next zoological project (the transformation of Reese's old tank), and partake of more fish aquarium scheming.  

In the afternoon, Wolfgang took off to hang out with friends and Meego and I decided to take a bike ride with YoYogurt as our destination.  

This yogurt shop is in a primo location - located about halfway between the high school and the middle school.  We headed out just as the elementary kids were getting out.  When we arrived at the shop, it's like everybody and their grandma had the same idea!

Older kids there to celebrate their last day of summer, little kids there to celebrate their first day of school.  It's a wonder there was enough fro-yo to go around!  

But we got ours and headed out away from the clamor.  The outdoor tables were all full, so we took a load off on a comfy bench outside the 12-minute DMV.

We enjoyed a nice ride back home just before it started sprinkling.

No fanfare.  Just a nice end to the summer.  Thank you, summer 2013.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Silver Liningness Sunday

Our final week of summer break has been a bit eventful.  Chaco moved into his dorm a couple of days ago.  He's in an apartment dorm this year, so no meal plan, but they've got a kitchen.  He's having to learn the fine art of budgeting for food.  I'm trying to stay out of the helicopter.

Wolfgang moves into his dorm this coming week and classes begin next week.  Meego goes back on Tuesday.

As for me, I took a lovely bicycle ride to the university this morning.  I want to bicycle commute as much as practical, and I had a route mapped out in my head, but had never actually ridden the whole way before this morning.

It was actually a relatively bicycle friendly commute - not too much sharing of heavily trafficked roads and not too hilly.  I took advantage of it being early Sunday morning and rode around campus to find the bike racks.

My textbooks (that I paid too much for, but that's a cloud story, not a silver lining story) have arrived and I'm ready to be all "Jane College".

In the meantime, things are churning along on the homefront too.  I think Meego is looking forward to having the bedroom to himself and he's also busying himself getting Reese the snake's new and bigger tank all decorated  and hospitable.  In the meantime, Reese is still in his 20-gallon home, but growing too big for it.

In other pet news, Napolion seems pretty comfortable with us now.  I'm sure he misses beating up his brother, but he gets some good playtime in and he and China seem happy enough together.

Napolion and Reese

Napolion and Tessa

He does love the camera.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "power", so naturally, I drew this little fish.

With the end of summer upon us, our minds are (hopefully) turning to thoughts of school and learning.  My tuting schedule is chock full as I want it to be with the test prep season in full swing, and the kids are getting their schedules and supplies in order.  And oh yeah, I've got the student thing going on too.

Knowledge is power.

I've also been schooling myself in fish - ha... get it?? *sorry*.  Recall that my little fish tank recently went all Armageddon on me.  Since then, I've been trying to learn what went wrong.  During this education, I've become bound and determined to foster an aquarium rebirth like no other.

So I've been google schooling and youtube schooling and turning into the resident fish geek.  I explained to Magnum how, as our nest is becoming empty, I am satisfying my need to take care of SOMEthing.  Fish it is.

Yesterday, Meego, Wolfgang, and I visited a local fish shop (I'm still keeping Fridays dumb)  that I learned of.  The building was just a hole in the wall, but we walked inside and it was like a Marine Dream.  BEAU-tiful aquariums, a lovely assortment of fish and other reef dwellers...

I stood in front of the buncha-gallons tank as the fish swam around, giving me the eye.

"Think you could keep me alive and happy like this?  Do you have the POWER??", they asked.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

where were you??

I'm going with another of Mama Kat's prompts for Thursday, and this week I choose:  3.) What were you blogging about last year at this time? What has changed?

 I dipped into the archives and learned that this day last year was the first day of school here for crossing guards.  Some kids were there too.

I did another sort of theme for that day by blogging my hellacious commute.  Since then, the moon has set on that moonlighting job, and I'm no longer a member of the hideous vest brigade.

School starts next week, and I am feeling a little bittersweet about no longer being needed out at the crosswalk.

That first day of school was always fun.  The kids all primped in their new clothes and new backpacks, all excited for school - the parents even MORE excited that summer's over.  Even the motorists didn't seem crabby that they had to go back to slowing down in the school zone.  Not on that first day anyway.

I did rather enjoy the morning shift, no matter where we were on the school calendar.  Being out there in the crisp early hours, shuttling the kids across.  The afternoon shift, however, was a pain in the ass - I'm not even going to disguise that phrase - having to be out there every day at three-ish.  It was pretty limiting, but that's why I got the big bucks, I suppose.

This year, operation back-to-school for me interferes with that afternoon shift.  The principal, whom I've known for the nine years we've been here, was very grateful for my service.  She told me that both students and parents told her how likable I was.

The crossing guard that was there before me was getting into almost daily "discussions" with motorists (some of whom were school parents) before it was mutually decided that she might be more effective at another position.  My "likability" was honestly pretty easy to pull off with that act to follow.

So what's changed?  I'm not a crossing guard.  I'm a student.

I have some fond memories from those two and a half years at the post, but now it's time to move on.  I can actually hear the crossing signal from my house, so I'm not really "gone".  I just won't be freezing my butt off out there anymore.

And once again, this chosen prompt overlaps with a couple of Mama Kat's others from this week.  One is:  4.) Share the story behind your current Facebook and/or Twitter profile photo.   Magnum took the above photo one afternoon, I guess to prove that I really was a school crossing guard.  Now, that photo happens to be my avatar for my wordpress site where I dump my artplay.   (Yes, I know, it's not facebook or twitter. So shoot me!)

Then there is the prompt:  2.) Tell us about a time you wanted to punch someone in the face.  because despite my likable facade, there were times when I could certainly sympathize with my crossing guard predecessor.

But I prefer to keep things positive around here...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

iron dress shopping

On Saturday, I found myself inside that mall I never go inside of.   I went shopping for a funtime dress.

I mentioned that Magnum and I were going to a wedding on Sunday.  I don't have many occasions for wearing girly clothes.  I often wear skirts for tutoring, but those aren't girly funtime skirts, they're hit-the-books skirts.  I have one skirt that can moonlight as funtime skirt, but I was sick of wearing it to everything.

So I went to the mall, found the perfect thing on sale.  Score!  Magnum and I even ended up being halfway color coordinated.  Is that what happens when you're married for, like, ever?

Anyways, the reason I mention it is because I was standing in line waiting to purchase my cheap fun dress.  The store was actually pretty busy, it being Saturday and with this big summer dress sale going on.  So I was standing there kind of daydreaming, there were a couple of girls in front of me, also waiting.

At one point, one of the girls reached over to the sunglass rack that was near me, to try on a pair.  I hadn't noticed her much before, but when she did that, I couldn't help but note how big her arms and shoulders were.

She was wearing a tank top and compression shorts and had her hair up in a high ponytail.  She looked to be in her early 20's.  Her companion was similarly dressed and looked to be about the same age.

She put the sunglasses back and turned back around, her wide, strong back now facing me again.  Her friend was also amply muscled.

They were just extremely strong looking, yet at the same time, not distractingly so, even in tank tops.  I began surmising.  We do have the Olympic Training Center here, so I was thinking they were probably members of  U.S.A [something].  Could be powerlifting?  Swimming?  Gymnastics?  But they looked too old for gymnastics and a bit short for swimming.  Powerlifting, I decided.

Later, I mentioned this to Magnum.  Something like, "Geez, these girls at the dress place had some big arms and backs/shoulders/thighs!"

His response was, "So, did they hit on you?", half joking.

Well, NO.  He was picturing something like

Fran, from "Dodgeball"
Way back when I was in high school, a powerlifting gym opened up in town.  One of my friends asked me to go down and lift weights with her.  Her boyfriend was into powerlifting and encouraged her, so she was going to start but didn't want to be the lone girl.

"Yeah, okay!"  I answered.  Could be fun.

And it actually was, as I remember.  We didn't take it very seriously, but I did learn a few things about strength training and we had some good times.  There were a few guys, along with her boyfriend, who did powerlifting competitions once in a while and served as our trainers.

The guys weren't pigs.  My friend and I did not turn into "Frans".  Looking back, we had some good times at that testosteral building.  Eventually, I stopped because of my other extracurricular activities at school.  By then, there were some other women and girls coming to the gym.

So Magnum's compartmental joke reminded me of the stigma that women weightlifters probably are often subjected to.  It reminded me of a video I saw back during the last Olympics.  The mall girls, it turned out, were also getting funtime dresses - for a wedding "back home".  Just being girls (who could easily flatten me).


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Silver Liningness Sunday

Well, first of all...

married twenty three years today.  We got it in writing and everything.  Happy Anniversary to Magnum!

This week, I got this e-mail from the mapmyride app on my new Nexus 7 tablet telling me I got a "QOM" badge.  So I'm wondering, "what the heck's a QOM badge??"  Anyone use the mapmy[thing] apps?  Anyway, one of my bike rides overlaps a course, so I got a Queen Of the Mountain badge. 

It so happens that it is the beloved Mouse Town section of that route.  I learned that this is just one of the fun things the app does.  I would ride my bicycle anyway, but I rather like being crowned a Queen of Mouse Town. 

So yeah, I'm enjoying my new Nexus 7 tablet.  So glad I finally got it for school and tutoring... *ahem*

Speaking of which, fall test prep has begun.  All of my students are nice kids, and I'm not taking on anymore, so that's a good thing.

The work season is ending for Wolfgang.  Recall that he works for a company that packs back-to-school supply kits.  End of work season = free stuff!  Nothing particularly exciting - antiseptic wipes, facial tissues, paper, paper, paper - but "free" is always good.

I mentioned we got Meego all jumpstarted for the new school year.  Chaco and Wolfgang are getting their ducks in a row too.  Chaco finally got his crap somewhat organized after I've been asking him to do so since June.  

Now to get my own rear in gear...

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Once again, I'm feeling sad for our community.  The rains came yesterday.  Boy, did the rains ever come yesterday.

Our little friendly neighbor town of Manitou Springs was flooded and is a total shambles today.  Manitou is just "downstream" from the Waldo Canyon burn scar.  There is little to no vegetation on the burn scar, so nothing to slow the waters.  In addition to that, the ground is mostly ash, and hydrophobic - incapable of absorbing water.

When it rains, it floods.  Flash floods of thick black muddy water.

We've already had two or three bad flood days this summer, but yesterday was the worst.  Homes were washed off of their foundations, cars were swept away like leaves in a stream. 

One confirmed death, three missing people so far.

Manitou Springs is just a little hippie town that gets most of its income from tourism.  There are quaint little shops and cafes to relax in, a couple of small parks for frolicking, a fun outdoor arcade.  It is the home of the cog railway that takes visitors to the top of Pikes Peak, and it's also home to The Incline.

The residents of Manitou Springs are of the friendliest I've ever met.  Seriously, they are so laid back and easy going and hospitable.  It really is known for being home to hippies, it was recently voted one of the top hippie towns in the country.

But they aren't smelly panhandling hippies.  Just friendly don't-sweat-the-small-stuff hippies in tie dye and dreadlocks, always up for a fun time.

As its name suggests, it sports many natural mineral springs, each spring has a structure built around it so that people can learn a little about it and sample the water as it spouts fresh.  I accompanied both Chaco and Wolfgang as their middle school classes did the annual field trips to Manitou, to take in the culture and learn about the springs.  To make it "sciencey", we analyzed the water characteristics from each spring.  Meego's class is scheduled for this year, and I plan to go again.  

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "fresh" and I did this ink drawing of the current structure surrounding the Shoshone Spring.  

In my opinion, the water tastes awful.  

But I still love Manitou.

Friday, August 9, 2013

justice rides a tank and wears lip gloss

Well, here we go.  School starts for Meego in a week and a half, right about the time Wolfgang moves into his dorm, right about the time Chaco moves into his apartment/dorm.  I've said it before, I'll say it again.  I'm no Helicopter Mom.  

My parenting style is more... Tank Girl

Today was Grizzled Jumpstart day at Meego's middle school.  It's just a (pseudo)nym for go-to-the-school-among-the-throngs-and-find-your-schedule-and-locker-and-then-get-back-out-alive.  So we did that.  

I'm so glad I have boys.  It took us all of about 10 minutes to take care of business.  In the meantime I saw countless girls cutting and primping and getting their lockers all just so very One Direction-esque.  There were a few Helicopter Moms standing in the middle of the hallways - comparing schedules and conniving to optimize everything around their kids - as efficient people had to flow around to accomodate their static bodies.  

I believe that one of my main goals as a parent is to work myself out of a job, and for the most part, that seems to be going about right.  It sometimes seems, though, that their brains go on vacation during these school breaks.  Like they're almost toddlers again, dependent.  This is a testing time of year, but I'm staying out of the helicopter.  

Yesterday, Chaco negotiated his way into using the Civic for two days to go camping with some other carless friends.  He'd made sure that Wolfgang didn't need it for work, they'd gas it up, etc. etc.  I gave the okay.

So this morning, Wolfgang leaves on his bicycle and then Magnum takes off for work.  There went the Civic, down the street.  And then I'm all, "Wait a min... wasn't Chaco...?"  *sigh*

I start thinking.  Maybe (a) Chaco and his friends changed their plans, (b) Magnum forgot, or (c) Chaco never mentioned anything to Magnum.  Should I quick call Magnum?  But then I think, no.  That's what Helicopter Mom would do, and I'm Tank Girl.  Let them swim their way out of it.

Magnum carpools to work.  His office is about a 30-minute drive from home.  Heck if I had an hour laying around to go swap out the Civic because of something with which I had nothing to do.  Plus, I had Grizzled Jumpstart followed by a tutor girl today.  

There was a chance, however, that it wasn't Magnum's turn to drive the carpool, in which case the Civic would be happily resting at the nearby Park 'n' Ride.  I would happily help make the exchange there, but I would leave it to Chaco to find out.  I wipe my hands at the whole thing until then!  (All this ruminating in my head as Chaco slept.)  Then I made myself stop fretting over it anymore.

I was good.  I was a good Tank Girl.  I busied myself with my own stuff.

Turns out it was a combination of (a), (b), and (c).  The camping wasn't quite coming together, Chaco forgot to mention anything to Magnum.  Fine, they'd just use the Civic tomorrow and hang out in Manitou.  

Works for me.  Now, I've just got to last a couple of more weeks, fighting the urge to...

Wish me luck.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

I wore a hideous bonnet

We were cast as lovers in the school's production.  Young lovers.  Planning a future together.

He looked so dashing.  His clean hair just so beneath the bowler hat.  His mustache neatly groomed.  He wore a garter on one of his ample biceps, over his crisp button-down shirt.


As the also-rans sang "A Bicycle Built for Two", Frank pedaled onto the stage, me situated behind him.  Our number was a roaring success, the audience completely ate it up.  We were just so believable.

Of course we were.  We were so believable because, off-stage, we were actual lovers.  Well, as much as a couple of first graders could be anyways.

Frank was my first crush.  We even got married later that year during a lovely afternoon recess affair.  Another friend served as Chaplain and also provided the punch - saved from lunchtime for the occasion.   Alas, it turned out our friend wasn't an actual ordained minister, so my marriage to Frank was never official.  It was annulled by the afternoon bell.

But we'll always have that magical bicycle ride - which was actually on a tricycle that I had to stand on the back of - around the stage.

The story of Frank and me isn't very unique.  Many of our first budding "romances" happened shortly after we went out into the big world of elementary school.  Several crushes later, I made it to the halls of higher education where I met Magnum.  The rest is history, and our 23rd anniversary is this week.

I have not, however, remained immune to the assorted celebrity crush.  As someone has said - who was it that said it? - we can't choose whom we fall in love with.

I mention this now for another of Mama Kat's prompts:  5.) First crush.     And since I felt my own first crush was pretty run-of-the-mill, I'm taking the next step.

Magnum is aware of each of my post-marital crushes.  I confess to them on the blog now, knowing that readers will refrain from going all tabloid on me.

In the early '90s, I fell for Marky Mark.  The rapper with the rap sheet to go along, and those baggy jeans.  Of course, it wouldn't work out between us.  I was married to a good responsible man who left his shirt on when outside the house.

When it ended, Marky Mark transformed to the responsible, clothing wearing, no more Boston accent, Mark Wahlberg.

Oh well, we'll always have our underwear pictures.

This may come as a surprise to many, but I later developed a crush on Johnny Depp.  Yeah, I know.  Strange.

We managed to keep things platonic, however.  I do occasionally accompany him to awards shows because he has a hard time finding any other women that want to go with him.

I may have mentioned here before, my cougar crush on Shia Labeouf.  He's obviously too young for me.  Is he even out of his 20's yet??

That's okay.  I still let him buy me coffee sometimes.  Very grownup.

So there they are, my crush confessions.

For those who may be wondering, Frank and I are still friends, in touch through the magic of facebook, where we might wish each other happy birthday or something.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


For the last few days, the weather people around here have been talking about wednesday WEDNESDAY  WEDNESDAY!!  All this hype for WEDNESDAY.

It's supposed to rain rain rain.  Flood watches and warnings.  Flash flooding in the two burn scars.  We've already seen some of that this summer, but WEDNESDAY is going to be messy.  Roads downstream from burn areas will likely be washed out.  Damaged.  Again.

I even drove Wolfgang to his carpool this morning.  They meet at Jack's house, and when it's not Wolfgang's turn to drive, he enjoys a nice 3-mile or so bike ride to Jack's house.  

But it was overcast.  It was WEDNESDAY.  It wasn't raining, not yet, but it would start any minute.  Plus, after work, it would either be pouring down or the bike paths would be flooded or both.  

Since we were up talking to the trees over the weekend, I didn't do an Illustration Friday.  I was just going to skip, but I kinda started having withdrawals.  Then we had all the weather people screaming about Wednesday.  I chose to illustrate this week's prompt, "Hybrid" for a rainy day activity.

I rather like this steampunk movement among artsy geeks.  Steampunk fashion and accessories feature components of steam driven machinery.  We saw plenty of it at this year's Comic Con.  Lots of goggles, gear drives, chains, etc. thrown together with clothing fashions from Victorian England or Old Time American West.  

It's fun.  It's creative.  It's hybrid.  It's Steampunk.

It's Wednesday.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Silver Liningness, the Sequel

Since weeks aren't just about weekENDS, and my Silver Liningness posts are meant to recap the whole week, I need an add-on.  Despite the fun of it, camp trips don't get to hog all the silver.

With summer winding down, things are lining up for the fall.  Chaco and Wolfgang's housing situations are looking pretty set and to everyone's likings.  Chaco will be in a more apartment style "dorm".  He's with the same friends from last year.  They'll have a kitchen.  Hmmm...

My schedule is falling into place too.  I think I've got a good idea of how much tuting I can handle while doing the back-to-school thing.  Fall is a busy time for the test preppers.  I had two more slots left in my schedule when an administrator from the school where I did ACT camp called to set up separate tutorings for her twin sons.  How convenient is that??  ALAKAZOOM!, I'm all booked for September prep!

On Saturday, Wolfgang and some friends ran in a 5k, Race for Rwanda.  They really haven't run a whole lot since track season ended, so they weren't looking to be in the winner's circle.  With that in mind, they decided to make it "fun".  As they tried coming up with fun things to do, they realized that, since it's for a cause, they didn't want their fun to come off as distasteful.  So they ended up painting their torsos like the Rwandan flag (which they had to google).

Their efforts got them on the local running store sponsor's facebook:

"Run for Rwanda this am. These Rampart kids sure know how to run in style!! Rwandan flag!"

Moral of the story?  If you can't beat 'em, paint your torso!

In news of the wild kingdom, I went out and hired a new plecostomus to take the place of Hot Lips - may he Rest In Peace - the previous tank custodian.  The good news is, the new guy's still alive.  Oh, and he's being and awesome neat freak too, definitely towing the line.  

Additionally, Reese the snake has been with us for a year now.  He's just about outgrown the original tank we got for him, and Meego found a nice big one at a good price.  A friend of his had a large Boa Constrictor that was fed live mice.  I won't go into detail, but one of those mice turned out to be Mighty Mouse, and... well... no more Boa Constrictor.  Tank for sale!


As if on cue, Reese shed his skin this morning.  Napolion lives up to the title "curious cat".  No snake skin gets thrown out without a full inspection.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Silver Liningness Sunday

I'm back.  Didja even know we was gone?

We got in a feral fix this weekend.  After waiting patiently all summer, the fire bans were eventually lifted, so

we loaded up like neanderthals and headed for the hills.

Wolfgang planned an end-of-summer trip to Elitch's with a few friends, a couple of whom will be leaving this week for college.  So while they were being amused, the rest of us went to go get dirty.

Chaco refused to move from this position
until I put the camera away

It was a really nice weekend for it. Lots of rain was forecast, but we didn't get a whole lot where we were, just clouds and cooler temperatures. We did get under a few sprinkles, but we don't complain about rain!

It was a beautiful day for hiking through the Aspens.

I don't think it technically counts as "lost" if we didn't know where we were going in the first place

Strange tree carvings in those woods.  I'm sure they were signs of doom from some evil forest cult.

This morning, Meego and I went for a bacon hike and met a couple of deer.

We were enjoying a nice moment of nature bonding, when a rowdy jeep shocked us all back to the rat race.

We enjoyed a nice time by the creek while some Church-in-the-Woods people worshipped nearby, reminding me it was Sunday.

No doubt, we were affected by the evil forest cult, because we played Survival Poker while the Biblin' was going on.

Magnum had a deck of playing cards with survival pointers on them.  We had regular and strike-anywhere matches for "chips"

I'm pretty sure a use-your-watch-as-a-compass and a how-to-fend-off-a-black-bear beats a what-not-to-eat and a make-a-snowcave.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

b*tches be walkin'

Several years ago, during lent, I decided that I would walk the dogs every day.  I'm not even Catholic, but I kind of like the idea of the lenten sacrifice.  So when people I knew were sacrificing for six weeks, I made the commitment to the dogs.

By the time lent ended, it had become such a habit that I just kept doing it.  Truth is, I enjoy my walks with China.  Back in that initial lent decision, we had two dogs - China and the lovable Domino.  They were active exercise-me! dogs, and I had a 2-headed leash.

Then we lost Domino to the dreaded cancer, and China's not the youngster she used to be.  She and I continue to enjoy our old lady walks together.  Some days, I think maybe I should skip it and get caught up on other things, but then she gives me that look...  It's practically all she asks of me!

This week's Mama Kat's prompts include " Your morning drive  "   Well, I've already blogged my hellacious morning commute, so I thought I would instead share my heavenly morning walk.

Let's go walkin' with China!


We went out the back gate to catch the pedestrian trail - the same trail that started out the hellacious commute to the school crossing.

This morning, a bicyclist, who was totally spandexed out, passed by and made me wonder how Bike Lady is doing these days.

Then we head west along a nice shady sidewalk.  This is also the route that starts the famous Midnight Mile.  I like it this time of year for the shade and views of the mountains.  I do love China, but I get tired of looking at her butt.

About a half mile down the road, we are near a shopping mall.  Even though it's so close, I can't remember the last time I was actually inside this mall.

One can't seem to go very far here without coming upon a large evangelical church.  This one is not too large, and it's not that large scandel-ridden one either  

Because of our close proximity to the Air Force Academy, there is a constant din of trainer aircraft circling each morning.  

There are several of these single-engine planes in the air at any given time as well as another that spirals slowly upward before making a dump of parachuted cadets.

China and I are buzzed so much that I don't even notice them anymore.  If they're not there for some reason, it seems weird.

We walk by an apartment complex that has a pool I fantasize about crashing.  I'm not sure what PARC stands for, but I have noted that it's CRAP spelled backwards...

It was right near here that I had The Great Bear Encounter of 2011.

Eventually, we've looped back around to the pedestrian trail, approaching the school from the opposite direction, where a fearless crossing guard counterpart slaves.

The school sits at the top of the hill.

Aah, another lovely walk to get China off my back start the day!

This post actually almost qualifies for another of this week's prompts: "9 pictures. 9 words" , but seriously, if I could do just 9 words, I'd be hanging out at twitter.