Sunday, February 28, 2016

circuit break

I was here at my desk yesterday afternoon, being productive as usual *COUGH* ... when ZAP!
Power outage.

Silence.  No computer hum.  No toad filter.  No monster fish bubblin'.

Once I'd determined that it wasn't just our house on the fritz, but also the neighborhood and beyond, I considered the options.  It was another unseasonably warm day out, so I decided to go out and get some nature.

Magnum had been working on revamping his greenhouse, so he could garden without "fertlizing help" from the cat and other area wildlife.  But he decided to chuck all that fun and come along with me.

We headed out to Bear Creek Park, a nice little area, not for strenuous hiking or biking, more for just a relaxing time in the woods for relatively easy hiking and wildlife viewing and such.  It also includes a nice nature center that is a fun place to take young kids.  I took advantage of it yesterday to gain knowledge and appreciation for honeybees, since they seemed to have it in for me a couple of summers ago.

So it was a nice day for it, even if the trees were bare and the grasses were brown.  There weren't too many others around, so the woods and creek were quiet and peaceful.

Since we were up, we thought we should at least log one geocache and found this one.  It was a few paces off the trail, and this park is really big on preserving the area flora.

I was feeling a bit criminal about being off trail, so we signed the log book and dashed back.

The particular area we were in is also off limits to dogs so as to  not disturb the landscape and wildlife.  Strangely, we encountered two hikers with a total of five dogs.  It seems in addition to us, there was a definite criminal element in the park!

On the song bird trail, we saw a grand total of two chickadees.  I think the area song birds are aware that it's still February.

So it was a nice little escape.  When we returned home, the toads were splashing and the fish were bubbling.  I learned that power was out for about three hours, so I'm glad I didn't wait around for it.  There's some sort of mystery utilities project going on up the street, and it temporarily killed our power.

Those guys were still working late into the night, which seems strange for a Saturday.  Probably more criminal activity.


Friday, February 26, 2016

naked and (almost) alone

I went swimming at the university pool yesterday.  I've gone swimming there on a few occasions when I've had the time.  As usual, there was hardly anyone else there.  Traditional students just don't seem to use the pool much even though it's a perfectly nice facility.  So I was in there with three other people, and we were all "old" by university standards.  In fact the only person there of traditional student age was the lifeguard.

I'm not complaining.  I had a whole lane to myself and could just lazily do some laps like the others.  Afterwards, I was getting dressed in the locker room when one of the other old swimmers rounded the corner, totally naked except for the towel wrapped around her head...

which struck me as a bit strange since, I don't know what goes on in men's locker rooms, but women typically don't traipse around so naked in women's locker rooms.

Oh well.

"Isn't it funny how empty the pool locker room is, but they assign people to lockers right next to each other?", she commented.  (When checking into the rec center, the desk person assigns the lockers.  You get what you get).

I agreed and moved a little so she could access her poorly assigned locker while I could continue my own outfitting.  Thus began a conversation.

She, too, wondered why the young students don't use the pool, and commented how she'd just begun swimming, and how nice the pool was, and what good exercise it seemed to be.  The pool area also has a large hot tub, where young people could hang out and do... hot tub stuff.  But they don't use that much either.  I agreed on all counts and added that I didn't necessarily dislike how uncrowded it was.

Anyway, we continued gabbing along, and I learned she's a member of the faculty.  She teaches 2-D and 3-D art.  This university isn't exactly known for it's fine arts program, but apparently it does have one.

The whole time we were gabbing and dressing - about 20 mins. or so - not one other person was in the locker room.  I mentioned this to Magnum during our China beauty walk last night and we reminisced about our earlier college days.  Back then, the university rec center was always teeming with activity - weight room, cardio room, raquetball courts, gym, and especially the pool.  I suppose our university had a larger enrollment, and more students living on or near campus?

Or is the campus rec center just  not as much of a thing as it used to be?  Ours is a nice rec center and just recently completed the construction of a large addition.  Most of the young students I see there are usually hanging out playing ping pong or shooting hoops, while just a few are actually using the fitness equipment.

This after Wolfgang stopped by this week.  He just recently joined a fitness center - I wouldn't actually call it a "gym".  It's this huge facility that's in that ritzy neighborhood Magnum and I biked around last weekend.  A couple of Wolfgang's friends have memberships there, so he'd gone as a guest a few times to work out with them and decided to sign up too.

He could work out at the rec center for "free" since it's included in his student fees.  Same goes for one of his workout buddies, but they'd rather pay their hard earned money for the private center.  Maybe that's the trend these days:

"Campus rec center?  Pffft, that's for stupid freshmen and old people!"

Okay, fine.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

going up

Magnum and I went for a good bike ride yesterday.  The weather was just so nice, we had to go out in it, so he suggested the ride.  No real destination or errands in mind.  He just said he wanted to go somewhere that started out uphill and finished downhill.

"Do the hard work up front".

So we ended up just tooling around to the more ritzy bits of our part of town.  We live in an area of Colorado Springs that is generally more hoity toit than average.  Our neighborhood, however, is at the older, low end of that spectrum - what Chaco likes to refer as "The Ghetto of Briargate".  Yup, that's us.

A friendly bike ride away is where the other half lives, upwards in elevation from our street and home value.  God forbid they should have to deal with our runoff!  There are various bike friendly pathways to get us there and back, so it fit our requirements.

It was a beautiful day for it, hard to believe it's mid-February.  Don't worry, it won't last, which was all the more reason to not squander it.

So we brought our riff raff selves and enjoyed our nice ride, going passed the large exclusive community elementary school, that looks to us like something out of "The Jetsons":

It's only K thru 5.  What do they do with all that space?

Not far from there were various little playground parks, and it was nice to see a fair amount of kids and dogs with dog walkers out enjoying the day.  Was the (totally unnecessary)  doorway to this playground inspired by the Jetson school?

At one point along the pathway was a large faded splotch of blood.  

"Something big died there", I remarked.  

Magnum agreed, then speculated, "Maybe some kid just dropped a juice box?"

Nope, that was no juice box death.  I'm sticking with the big bloody thing. 

Eventually, having climbed the ladder, we'd had our fill and headed back to our humble neighborhood.  While friendly and clean and bike accessible, the Cordera Community is not really my cup of tea as a place to live.  I like older, unique, and more established  neighborhoods where the trees are big and the people and houses don't all look alike.  Plus, I like my houses small - less to clean.

But it was a nice little sightseeing excursion for a couple of hours. Then it was all downhill from there.


Friday, February 19, 2016

work arounds

"Do you have a best friend at work?"

Magnum was telling me about his employee satisfaction surveys, and how he finds this question interesting/comical.   But I know it shows up on such surveys because  studies have shown... employees are more satisfied at work if they are happy socially at work.

Now Magnum is waiting for the next round of survey taking so that he can answer a big fat "NO!".  Jake, Magnum's "best friend at work" was sadly laid off a few weeks ago.  Jake is actually one of the few (now ex-) of Magnum's coworkers I know.  He and Magnum carpooled together.  We went to Jake's wedding, which so happened to be on our anniversary, a few years ago.  He's a nice guy, and I assume he was productive at work, but the company needed to trim.

While we're sad that Jake no longer works there and that Magnum doesn't have a carpool anymore, in the big picture, I think Jake will be okay.  He got a decent severance, his wife works full-time, they don't have any kids, and Jake has marketable work experience and recently earned his MBA.  He was kinda sorta looking to move on anyway.  In fact, I'm suspicious that management had an inkling of Jake's thinking of moving on, which made him an easy target for layoff.

We were talking about this and work friendships in general last night as we were taking China for her beauty walk.  I've heard it said that people often have a "work husband/wife" - not meant in the marital relations context, but traditionally meaning a coworker of the opposite sex with whom they share the most stuff with.

I don't currently work in a workplace with typical coworker interactions, and I thought back to when I did - before I left the corporate world behind to be a stay-at-home mom.

"Geez, come to think of it, I had a whole harem of work husbands!", I revelated.

The majority of my coworkers were men.  Men of all ages.  Conversations weren't always work related, and I remember thinking that the stereotypical "man talk" was over generalized.  These guys would talk about struggles with their diets, relationship problems, worries about kids, new recipes they wanted to try - similar stuff as what is considered girl talk.  Yes, they would discuss sports, particularly on Monday mornings.  And lawnmowers.  What is it about lawnmowers that makes them SUCH a topic of discussion??

But I heard my fair share of labor and delivery stories too.  Very interesting from the man's point of view.  I've also gotten much TMI regarding vasectomies...

Some of this, I suspect, might have come from them not having many women at work to gab with.  Maybe if I and the few other women weren't around, they would just happily go on about sports and lawnmowers.  And while I know they discussed those other things with guys too, I honestly think they enjoyed the opportunity for "girl talk" with actual "girls".  I never had the feeling that they were just trying to make conversation with the females to be accommodating.

And thinking back to those surveys, I agree.  It's important for workplace happiness to have friends at work rather than just coworkers.  And Jake's absence is being felt.  Magnum says that management has already gotten earfuls regarding the way the layoffs were handled.

Not long after I left, one of my work husbands got laid off.  To make things worse, the manager who laid him off was a woman I'd known from another department, and I had recommended her for the management position.

I never told my work husband that part of the story.  Could've been grounds for "divorce".

Do you have a best friend at work?  A work husband/wife?


Sunday, February 14, 2016

every rose has its thorns

First off, Happy Valentine's Day!  Or as the guy on the local news last night dubbed it - "Singles Awareness Day!".  Magnum and I don't typically make a big deal of Valentine's Day, so I hadn't really been thinking about it, but since it's all over the place once I turned the computer on, I'll give a shout out.

Actually my first date with Magnum just happened to be on Valentine's Day many moons ago.  He remembered that date was on a Sunday also.  We were both full time college students, and I had a part-time retail job and he was in the national guard.  So that particular Sunday, after I got off work, happened to be a time that fit into both our schedules.

I remember a coworker commenting that I had a "hot" date after work, and I replied that it was just "tepid".  HA!

This was a nice week.  It's been unseasonably warm, so all our snow is melting.  I've also become more comfortable with the fact that both my parents are gone from this earth.  It was time, and I'm thinking my dad is thrilled.

Magnum had Friday off from work, so after I finished some school stuff, I invited him and bicycle Bob to go for a ride with me and Bella.  I had to stop by the university, so we took the long way.  When we were about to head home, I noticed that Bella had a flat tire. No!  She "never" gets flats!  But alas, there it was.  (It was a goathead - remember the *#% goatheads, ShadowRun?)

I knew the  outdoor office on campus had a bicycle workshop facility open for anyone to drop in and use, but had never used it or even checked it out.  But, heck, I pay tuition!  It's great - tools and equipment for easy use.  They even sold bicycle tubes in all kinds of sizes.  We were soon back on the road in fine form!

So it was a nice week.  And the daylight is nicely longer, have you noticed?  I know it starts happening after the winter solstice, but seems to take a while to become noticeable.  It's noticeable  now and I like it!

On that note, however, the school district has decided to tack on an extra 10 minutes to the school day after all the snow days it's had to use, to hopefully avoid having to add extra days to the schedule.  So Meego now has to get up a whopping 10 minutes earlier for the remainder of the year.  The hardship!  I make fun of him, but I'm secretly happy that I'm no longer a crossing guard - 10 minutes earlier would be a pain.

And brother Hagrid informs me that, once he retires from his government job, his identity will no longer need to be so secret.  He's offered a solution for the meantime:

I'm thinking my genetics just keep getting better and better!

Friday, February 12, 2016

fat photo friday

I'm here playing with myself... er... playing with my blog settings and cleaning out some phone pics.  So I thought I'd put up some fat photos from this week, see if they fit, maybe play a little "I Spy"

We went to a girls high school basketball game this week to watch Meego play.  No, Meego doesn't play on the girls high school basketball team.  He plays in the pep band.  We've gone to a few games this season, and the girls team is actually quite good, but crowds are typically small, see?

Extra points for anyone who can spy the school mascot!  I see him!

Photo galleries for the Super Bowl half marathon were published.  Looking at them now, the snow is kinda pretty, rather than the "razzum frazzum fricker frackum" snow it was during the race.

I found myself.

And now for more photographic skill pleasure, Meego's jazz concert.  Like a bunch of (faceless, dressed in black) Amish doll musicians!  That's as good as it gets with my phone in a dark auditorium.  At least the music was good.

I'm not going with fat pic on this one, but I am going with blurry!

Brother Hagrid, man of mystery, and my SIL recently renewed their vows.  I can't post pics of Hagrid.  I can of SIL, but in keeping with the blur theme...

I did get together with Hagrid last week, to go over some stuff regarding my dad and just have a nice little catching up time.

I often look to Hagrid, as he's 15 years older than I am, to gauge my genetic near future.  Things look pretty good - look, hardly any wrinkles!

What's in your phone?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

hurry, hurry!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, the stats:

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

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

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

Thanks, Dad.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

drop by drop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

sad update on the down

So... my Dad passed away yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

downs and ups

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

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

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

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

Nope.  It's just "no fun".

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

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

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

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


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

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

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