Sunday, October 15, 2017

some pics, no ink

Last weekend, I mentioned how Magnum and I came upon a cute little rattlesnake while out geocaching?  Lo and behold, a Colorado hiker died after being rattlesnake bit last weekend.  It's actually quite rare to die from a rattler bite, especially if medical  help is available, which it was for this young hiker.  Plus, it's not like he was out of shape, he was a triathlete who loved to go on hikes.  Sad thing.

I have since learned that those little young snakes are often more dangerous because (1) they usually inject venom whereas adults will often "dry bite", and (2) the younger snake's venom is typically more toxic than with older snakes.  Well, now.  I feel bad for the guy's family and friends, though.  By all I've read, he was a really nice guy.  Be careful out there.

On a much lighter note, it was a lovely morning for a bicycle joyride.

The fall air was crisp, and I realized I looked somewhat like a scuba diver on dry land in the cool-weather garb.  Balaclava season is upon us.

I snapped this photo of a hot air balloon hovering at a height I would not be comfortable hovering at.

But it was pretty from the ground.

Yesterday, we went to watch Meego and the gang at a marching band competition.

Meego and the rest of the bangers

They had a good showing, despite the fact that it was annoyingly windy.  I felt for those flag girls - do a toss move and, "where'd my flag go?!"

I'd been keeping up with Inktober 2017 until yesterday.  The day just got eaten up by marching, and in-lawing, and haircutting, and general lazing arounding.  So now I'm behind a day, but I'll catch up.  It's the halfway point, I can't stop now!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

this one has a story

Today's Inktober prompt is "shattered".  I kept coming back to a recent incident, so I inked it out for the catharsis.

A couple of weeks ago, I was leaving work.  As I came upon my bicycle in the rack at school, I noticed my tail light was missing. 

Now, sometimes, I remove my lights when I park the bicycle just because there are people who will take them.  But I'd become too trusting and had begun to just leave my lights attached.

So I was discouraged when I noticed the taillight missing.  It wasn't an expensive light, but it served its purpose of helping me stay visible, especially now that the morning rides are getting increasingly darker.

In my discouraged state, I looked around the area a bit and sadly, found my light.  Broken in several pieces and strewn about.  It was a sad day.

I gathered up all the pieces and tucked them in my bag.  Not sure why, I just didn't like seeing my trusty light all shattered and left for dead like that.

I mentioned it to my supervisor who happens to be the administrator in charge of discipline - behavior issues, detentions and such.  She in turn told the head of security:  A large police officer named Buck. 

Buck in turn involved "Security Barb", one of the school resource officers.  Barb contacted me:

I do have a camera facing some of the bikes.  I need some intel on which bike I am looking at..."

"Intel" - doncha just love the CopSpeak?!

Barb showed me some footage, and eventually we found me showing up for work and parking the bike.  I was encouraged at how clear the picture was, however, it was footage of mostly the top of my head...

Good ol' Barb, though.  She scanned the footage from that fateful day and:

"...found what I think is the incident at about 14:54:55..."

The incident at about 14:54:55, doncha love it!

Anyway, yes, she found the incident, but was unable to identify the perps.  Two boys.  One swiped at the light and it came off.  The second perp picked it up and threw it against the wall. 


I thanked Barb very much for her efforts, then wrote the incident off as a disappointing lesson learned.

Today, one of the counselors came by my room and asked to speak with me outside.  He asked me about the tail light, what I knew, etc.  It seemed strange that he would be asking me about it at this point.  I had my bike parked in my room, where I've parked it since The Incident.  He noticed I had a different and more secure light on the bike - in my room and not in the rack.

He didn't say so, but I'm wondering now if they continued to investigate and possibly found the tail light violators?  I'd told him the light wasn't worth much in a monetary sense, but I was just disappointed in the kids who'd done it.

He was quite sympathetic in a school counselor sort of way.  Said, "You'd probably at least like an apology, I bet". 

I dunno.  I hope the team did find the kids, but I don't necessarily want to know who they are. I just want them to know they got caught.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

rattlers, study hall, and revealing quizzes

Magnum and I got in some hiking/geocaching yesterday afternoon. It was a gorgeous day out, plus it's supposed to turn crappy overnight tonight, so we had to go outside.

We had much success finding caches in Ute Valley Park, where we also came across a cute little rattlesnake sunning itself.

That park is known for rattlesnakes, but when we came upon this one, I realized it was the first time I'd seen a live rattlesnake in the wild.

He/she was actually quite cute.  A young one, no more than 18 inches long, I'd say, with the cutest little rattle.  I tried to get a decent photo of it, which was when it showed us the rattle and that it knew how to use it.  But it slithered off into the grass before I could get a decent photo, probably cursing the damn weekend hikers.

At work last week, I had to send emails out to the parents of 11 students who are failing study hall.  One one hand, 11 out of about 250 isn't a bad percentage.  On the other hand, IT'S FREAKING STUDY HALL!  Who fails study hall?!

I don't think I had a formal study hall during my high school years.  I recall that certain teachers would just sometimes call a study hall day to get caught up.  I do remember being in the school library with a couple of friends as we worked through sex quizzes in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Why did my high school library have a subscription to Cosmo?!?

Oh well, can't say I didn't learn anything in study hall...

Today's Inktober submission:

8.  Crooked

Saturday, October 7, 2017

ink has spilled

Inktober is one week old/young!  It's been a fun week of  joining in the draw-every-day challenge.  When I was a kid, up until about puberty, I'm pretty sure I did draw every day.  So, it's been a bit of return to my prepubescent self?

Oh well, whatever, it's been fun.  There are daily optional prompts, but the priority is to complete an ink drawing every day.  I like using the prompts, though. 

During the week, I've actually been "sneak drawing" while at work - just kinda chip away at the drawings in between work stuff.  Dang, those teenagers can be so interruptive!  Rude, no?  Also, for drawing at work, I limit myself to my little moleskine notebook, a fat sharpie, and a generic felt tip.  Further challenge!

Here's what I got so far

1.  Swift
2.  Divided

3.  Poison

4.  Underwater

5.  Long

6.  Sword

7.  Shy

Wolfgang's been keeping up too, so we keep each other motivated.  Good little exercise for those of us feeling rather underemployed 😕 😀

Thursday, October 5, 2017


Couple of months ago, I bought some new shooz (yeah, I know, stop the presses).  They're running shoes, and I ordered them online.

So they arrived and felt a bit tight, but not too.  I hopped around inside the house and deemed them good.  Then I ran around outside, and that changed my mind.  I really should go up a half size.

I got a second larger pair and we've been enjoying a  happy existence ever since.  But... what about that first pair?  I couldn't return them because I'd stupidly hastily run around outside in them.  Other than being too small for ME, they were perfectly fine shoes, only worn that one time.

I could donate them, but I was thinking (1) they're practically brand new, (2) they're not a common brand for people who don't run, and (3) I just doled out some good cash for these things.  Maybe I could sell 'em?  Maybe some other runner lady, with feet slightly smaller than mine, would recognize the brand and realize the bargain!

I jumped into action.

Guess the shooz!
(photo not my feet/shooz/legs)

Off to craigslist I went, with a few pretty pictures and a bit of the story - only worn once, wonderful, just too small for me, blah, blah, blah...  I posted my ad under both "clothing" and "sporting goods", and figured I'd just let it run for a couple weeks.

Not surprisingly, nothing happened.  Weeks went by, and I actually forgot about the ad... until I got a recent email in my covert only-for-things-like-craigslist email account.  The subject read, "Running Shoes".

That jogged (see what I did there?) my memory that I'd put those shoes on craigslist.  At that point, I figured any response wasn't even legit, and was reminded I should probably just bite the bullet and put the shoes in the donation bin.  Chalk the expense up to lessons learned.  I opened the email anyway.  It was from a dude.

      "Any chance you could sell these to me fresh off your feet? Thanks"


Okay, there are stranger things than smelly shoe/feet fetishes.  But no.  There's no chance.


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

3. Write a blog post inspired by the word: change.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

grey days, red rubber pants, and buffaloes

I used to do "silver lining" posts nearly every Sunday, but somewhere along the way, I got out of the habit.  I think I'm due.

We had grey skies and rain all last week, which is quite rare for this neck of the woods.  We don't typically get socked into any one particular weather pattern, but there it was - the week of grey.  It was nice to have all that moisture, but the lack of sun was starting to get to me by the end of the week.

However, one of the teachers at work noted that the students all seemed better behaved than usual?  Maybe so.  The greys kept the stir-crazies away?  Crappy outside, may as well buckle down?

The sun did return, and I snapped this photo while out on a joyride with Alice this morning.  First sign of appreciable snow on the Peak - not much.  Like a pubescent boy getting his first chin hairs.

In other silver liningness, I usually have the sun in my eyes on my way into work each morning.  With the clouds, that wasn't a problem.  One coworker asked how I stay dry on such rides, so I'll give a shout out to my rain gear.   Love me some rubber pants on a rainy day!

And y'know my big brained brother, Hagrid?  He has officially retired from his secret government scientist job after 48 years.  I hardly remember a time when he wasn't a secret government scientist!  He had a retirement bash last week, that sadly I couldn't make it to.  I'm sure he still got plenty of glory, despite my notable (NOT) absence.

Now, it's on to the next thing for him - a deserved and respected university position at his Alma Mater - MY Alma Mater too!  Go Buffaloes!  The university should name a building after Hagrid.  Then I can pretend it's named after me.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

I'll start tomorrow

Okay, I'm gonna do it.  Inktober starts tomorrow.  An ink drawing a day, every day, during the month of October.  To get myself mentally prepared, I visited the Inktober facebook page for inspiration.

I suppose it was inspiring... as well as intimidating.  As another visitor put it:

what about us ordinary folk who create mediocre artwork? Are we still able to participate or will we get publicly humiliated ?!! 

Public humiliation aside, I think it will be a fun challenge to wake up the parts of my brain I haven't used much lately.  I thought I'd get a head start today, and for ink, I'd already decided I want to steer clear of drawing people. And definitely no portraits.

The prompt for tomorrow is "swift", and this is all I came up with.

Okay, so much for planning...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

staying chill

Yesterday morning, I was out for a run, and I went through Mouse Town.  Earlier in the week, Magnum told me I shouldn't run over there because of the Pooper Lady.

"What?  If I see her, I'll take her out!", I replied

"No", he explained, "You shouldn't run there because people might think you're her - brunette runner lady"

"PFFFT, I don't look anything like her"

She does appear taller than me in the covert pics of her.  Plus, I don't wear the tight spandex ensemble or bright green shoes or old lady bun she's wearing in the photos either.  I also don't carry handfuls of TP... But still, I felt a bit paranoid as I made my way through the area.  "I'm somebody else with dark hair!", I felt like explaining.

At last check, her identity remains a mystery.  Charmin has even offered her a year's supply of free TP if she turns herself in, but no takers.

I also ride through Mouse Town each weekday on my commute to and from work.  Since the new park's been completed, it's even a nicer ride than before.  The job can be tedious at times, but at least there's a nice commute 😀.

I "teach" Study Hall for 10th thru 12th grade at a high school.  I don't really teach a specific subject, since it's study hall, but the students do have some requirements in order to pass and I'm there to help with homework or other stuff.  But other than doling out the assignments and grading them, I'm sort of a zoo keeper.

One of the reasons I took the job - other than the fact that I didn't have any other solid offers at the time! - was so I could explore working in a high school to see if I should go ahead and get that license.  I'm leaning toward a "no", although my supervisors have opened that door for me at this school.

I'd just forgotten how restrictive public school is, and that's what I find so tedious.  But I do enjoy the students.  They recently did a grade check and reflection for me, and as with their other assignments, I enjoy reading their comments - kinda like kid blogs

Exhibit 1 is from a girl who apparently doesn't have much faith in her Algebra 3 outlook, among other observations.  I also noted that it's another instance of a student describing me as "chill".

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2 is from a boy who knows how to tell it like it is, particularly in regard to his "History" class.

Exhibit 2

I wonder what he thought zoology was?  And super nice teacher or not, he's still getting a D in speech.  Study hall is fun?

I notice that the Student 1 didn't include her grade percentages and that Student 2 included his, but put grades and percentages in the wrong columns.

A couple of rebels, obviously.  I like 'em.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


"I'm gonna go down to Meininger's today", he said.  "Wanna come?"

Of Wolfgang's many interests, one that he shares with me is playing with art toys, and Meininger's is the best "toy" store around.

"Okay", I said, "but I'm NOT buying anything!"

It was true.

Wolfgang had a specific pen he was looking for as  he'd told me about Inktober, where the challenge is to make an ink drawing every day during the month of October.

He's going to try.  I'm going to try.

BUT, I have paper, I have pens, the pens have ink.  Enough for every day for a month, if I make it.

As usual it was a fun little outing.  Meininger's is not a "craft" store, it's for true art weirdos.  We fit right in.

And it's been a while since I've done much artwork as that took a backseat to grad school, but alas I have some time to play again.  So I doodled this jar that sits on my desk.

I doodled for Illustration Friday, where the prompt this week is "juice".

I doodled to test out the new pen on the new paper...

that I bought today, when I wasn't going to buy anything.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

do you remember...?

... the 21st night of September?

I went back and looked.  I did not write a blog post last year on the 21st of September.  Why is this significant?  I don't know.  I'm still wondering why the 21st night of September is so specifically referenced by Earth,Wind, and Fire.  Even Wikipedia didn't know:

"September 21 is the 264th day of the year (265th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 101 days remaining until the end of the year."

Well, how enlightening.

But Meego informs me that even kids TODAY jam to that song on September 21st.  He was the one who reminded me that today is that day.

Me:  Fall officially begins on Friday
Meego:  Yeah, but you know what Thursday  is, right?  "The 21st night of September"!
Me:  <crickets>

What I WAS blogging about around this time last year was mostly about how woozy I was feeling all the time.  And now I remember. September 2016 was particularly drunken.  This September is mucho better.

Maybe the allergy shots are responsible, plus I've been doing the neti pot (as opposed to that other pot).  I honestly think the neti pot is making a difference because I started it before the allergy shots.  I just noticed that when I began to google "neti pot", I got "neti pot death" right away.

I don't plan on death by neti pot.  I only use distilled water.

Anyway, as unglamorous as it is, the silly thing seems to work.

So, upon that realization, I feel like dancing.  Get that disco ball spinnin' because I'm not!

Linking up with Mama Kat for the prompt:
6. What were you blogging about last year at this time? How have things changed?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

a real sh*t storm

Well, this is just gross.

As if there weren't enough reasons to abstain from the news, I came across this story of a local... runner.  It seems this runner has been making regular pit stops along her route through a normally laid back neighborhood.  In fact, I enjoy running near where she's been spotted - my beloved Mouse Town.


I don't even really want to blog about it, but ever since I read the story and watched the video, it's impacted on my mind.  What is up with this person?  I call her "Mouse Town Pooper".

There's just no explanation, really, other than mental illness?  A park was recently constructed in a portion of Mouse Town.  Apparently, it was decided that the Preble's mice still had enough space to do their thing and keep on existing alongside a new park

So the park is complete with recreation AND bathroom facilities.  Brand new and operational.  

I imagine that, now that there are photos of her all over the local news, someone will come forward and put an end to this strangeness.

What I thought was funny about the story, however, is how the news channel actually interviewed a few people around the neighborhood and caught their comments about how gross and wrong the behavior is.

Like, we need to ask people that?

Friday, September 15, 2017

'til I drop

One of my least favorite but necessary activities is "fetching" groceries. I try not to complain about it because of the starving people out there - first world problem that it is.  But I just typically find it so mundane, traipsing around the grocery store, checking items off my list, dodging the other shoppers.

Then there's the waiting in line to pay for the cartload.  I'm always in the slowest line.  Every.  Time.

However, it's better now than in the "old days".  Now, there are self-serve checkouts.  Plus, I'm old enough to remember when cashiers actually had to punch in prices for every item.  Lovely things, those bar codes!

Monday, I used Walfart's pickup service for the first time.  Go online, fill the cart, pick a time to pick up the stuff, and... voila!  A wonderful Walfart's employee wheels the goods out.

It worked just as planned.  I didn't have to go in the store.  I didn't have to go through any register line.  I still had to drive there, but all in all, it was a wonderful thing and didn't even cost extra.  Really, I had NO problem with the fact that someone else picked my bananas.  

This, I'm sure, is in response to the power of  Many actual retail stores - the ones that have been able to remain open despite the amazon competition - are jokingly referred to as "Amazon Showrooms".

Who here has tried something out in a store, only to go and get it cheaper off amazon?  Anyone?  Admit it?

I have bought groceries from amazon too, but still had to wait a whole two days, so I appreciate that amazon lit a fire under Walfarts, of which there is one about a mile from my house.  About a mile away in the other direction is a Whole Foods - now owned by Jeff Bezos/Amazon.  It's been quite a while since I've shopped at "Whole Paycheck", but I'm curious now to see what's changed.

I remember when amazon first showed up as an online bookseller back in the mid-90s.  What a great thing it was.  I figured it would give used book stores a lot of trouble.

And now look, what an understatement.


Linking up with Mama Kat again for the prompt:
2.  Write a blog post inspired by the word: books

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Things have settled into a sense of "normalcy", for lack of a better term, since I started the high school job.  I'm a month into it and starting to feel like I somewhat belong there.

I still have regularly scheduled time with one college tutee, and I have a couple of other high school tutees who occasionally call me in a panic.

Plus I'm getting to know most of my 250-ish students at the school a bit better.  They're a diverse group of good kids.  My hardest adjustment has been getting used to how ordered and by-the-book public school is.  In some cases, it's good and necessary, but I also think it's rather prison-like in others.  I'm not much for being a prison warden.

One student, who sports burgundy hair and a septum ring, told me I was "pretty chill", I think as a compliment?  Either way, I don't think that's a typical descriptor for a prison warden.

In the meantime, I have short conversations with a couple of crossing guards along my commute - nice ladies, as most all crossing guards are 😉.  Some may recall that, back in my crossing guard days, I had a daily customer fondly known as "Bike Lady".

I never did learn her actual name.  We would exchanged pleasantries, and I knew how long her commute was, but that was about it.  In fact, I probably wouldn't even recognize her anywhere else because of her bike helmet and glasses she always wore with a ponytail.

Now, it seems, I have become Bike Lady.

One of the crossing guards commented on the large amount of traffic, noting that the high school and middle school were neighborhood schools, yet hardly anyone seems to walk to school anymore.  I took this pic from my classroom one morning before the start of school.

No, that's not the parking lot, it just looks like one.  It's the steady stream of cars inching to and from the "neighborhood" school.  At least there's one representative on foot.

There are buses for students who live over a mile from school, and some of the cars are students and staff.  But a large majority are students who live less than a mile away, being driven to school and dropped off  by parents.

This is quite different from my own high school days.  Parents rarely drove their kids to school, and typically only on days when the kids had something big to bring to school, and only if the kid didn't have a driver's license.   I went to a relatively small school in a small town, so thought that might help explain the difference, but Magnum went to a big school in a big city where no one was driven by their parents either.

Is this a new thing now?  Did YOU get your own self to high school and back?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Bike Lady

Monday, September 4, 2017

this is bananas

... and water, and Gatorade.

Happy Day of Labor, my fellow Americans!

Meego and I got in some volunteer hours again this year with working Aid Station #9 for the ADT Marathon.  It was a nice day for it, not too hot or windy.  No rain.  A bit buggy, we found out

Winning times weren't all that fast.  First place was a rather sluggish (for first place) 2:50 and change.  But most seemed to be having a good time of it.  We had a couple of guys drop out at our station - we were at mile 17.  One had a knee injury and we never did find out what was up with the other guy, but he'd declared himself done.

One of Wolfgang's running friends from high school ran it and finished a respectable 2nd place for her age group at about 3:30.  I told Wolfgang last night that he should come down to our station and cheer her on.

"Ugh, it's so... EARLY"

So much for fan friends.

But these little cuties came down to cheer on Mom.

Actually, they enthusiastically cheered for everybody, but especially Mom.

Cutest things.

I think some proceeds from this race go to maintain area trails, so it was a good morning of work for a good cause.

We arrived at 7am, and expected to be able to pack up and go by about 10:30, but we ended up waiting for the Last of the Last - an enthusiastic woman in a rainbow tutu - who came strolling on through at around 11:30.  There was a full hour between her and the second to last.

But she was just so positive and enthusiastic and grateful, I'm glad we waited.  She's probably still out there.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

moving house

A large and very furry dog has appeared at the next door neighbor's.  He's clearly not a puppy, so I'm guessing the neighbors are dog sitting, or maybe have adopted an older dog.  I googled, and I'm pretty sure he's a Great Pyrenees.

It's a rather hot day today, and I don't think he's happy judging by the amount of barking.  I'm uncomfortable just looking at him.  But maybe it's his change of living quarters that has him a bit unsettled.

We had brunch today with my Mother-in-law and her husband.  They are in the midst of selling their home in New Mexico and moving here to a Senior Living Community.  So we had a little tour of their new house and walked around the place and ate in the dining hall.

It was all very clean and comfortable, their new house is nice, staff people are friendly.  Plus, they'll be close to us now and also to Magnum's sister who lives here in town.  But I could sense a tone of resistant acceptance from both of them.  It's an admission of growing old and losing some independence.  A situation that is not temporary.

I'm reminded of my own parents' resistance to leaving their home.  In fact, I'd hoped they would move to the very place my in-laws are moving to, but they wouldn't even consider it.  Moving out of their house was about all they could accept.  Leaving town was not an option.

Watching my parents, I would think to myself, "Well, if/when my time comes to admit I can't do it all myself, I'll know and be okay with it", but it's probably easier said than done.

As we were strolling the area, my stepfather-in-law mentioned that residents need to be at least 55 years old to live there, and I was all, "Wait... what?"  Magnum will be 55 in a couple of months.

No way we're that close to being eligible to live in a Senior Living Community.  Seems like I was still a kid just yesterday!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

the beginning of the end?

I began getting allergy injections yesterday.  It made me feel... old.

When I first visited the allergist, Dr. Dllaf (don't-look-like-a-flower) seemed to have a quizzical look about him.  But since I'd never met him before, I thought maybe he always looked that way.

"So... why are you here?", he asked.  Did I detect an undertone of smirk?

I told him a bit about my history with stinging insects and dizziness for which allergies were blamed.  I mentioned how a well-timed bug sting on the eve of my annual check-up landed me in his office.  He asked a couple of other standard informational questions, then described the testing procedure.  Did I detect an undertone of ho hum?

The contrastingly energetic and friendly nurse then proceeded to conduct my allergy testing, leaving me with little itchy welts all over my back.  I'd failed.  Or passed.  Depending on the point of view.

Afterwards, Dr. Dllaf was back, but seemingly a changed man.

"Well!", he announced upon arrival, "You really ARE allergic!"

I was not surprised, why was he?

He was much more animated in that second conversation and talked to me like one would an intelligent person.  He even went on a bit of a tangent about current research in the world of allergies and asthma, which was quite interesting, but a bit TMI.

All the while I wondered, "Who is this imposter look-alike, and what did he do with that other guy?".  But I realized I liked this second one better anyway.

Fast forward to yesterday when I got the first of my injections.

The waiting area was populated with several other allergic people there to get their shots.  The average age was, I'm guessing, maybe 12 years old.  And that's only because there were a bunch of little kids who had parents with them.  Throw out the parents and the average would decrease considerably.

That's when it occurred to me.  Perhaps most allergic people get this thing done when they're kids. Similar to orthodontia maybe?  I looked around and didn't see anyone my age, or even really approaching my age.  Even the parents... 😕.  Oh wait, the guy who gave me the shots was probably from my generation.

I began getting allergy injections yesterday.  It made me feel... old.


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
3. Write a post that begins and ends with the same sentence.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

a mountain, a sweatlodge, and a sacrificial deer

First, we had to wait for Wolfgang to run up a mountain...

FREE official photo

Last Saturday was the annual running of the Pikes Peak Ascent.  Thirteen miles up the mountain.  (The marathon - up and then back down - was run on Sunday).

This was Wolfgang's third time doing the race, and he managed a new PR of a very respectable 3 hours 15 minutes, being the first of his buddies to finish and taking 6th in his age group

Eventually, his two friends crossed the finish line, and they all got off the mountain.  In the meantime, we'd been packing up the van for our trip north to the eclipse.  We made it out late Saturday afternoon, arriving in Chugwater rest area late that night.  Good ol' Chugwater.

It wasn't much further to Manters Camp, so we had most all of Sunday to play around and explore after we set up the large tent and got our campsite humming.  All of us except for Chaco, who somehow managed to get a decent sleep at Chugwater, needed a siesta.

We napped in the tent, not realizing that we hadn't removed the outer coverings of our windows, so the breeze did NOTHING.  We awoke in pools of our own sweat.  I just decided to refer to it as Sweatlodge time rather than naptime.  Supposed to be healthy, right?

Thusly refreshed, we trekked out to the surrounding boonies and found a real pretty getaway spot.  As it happened, Wolfgang had a gimpy foot that he'd injured while training for the Ascent, and the foot was really whining after running the thing.

As such, we didn't traipse around as much as we might have so as to not "leave the cripple behind".  Still, Chaco got in a bit of a climbing fix

Spot him?

That tippy top scared me, but I got close.

We were in an area of national forest and  broke out our camp cookware and ended up having our dinner there and just hanging out.

By the time we'd cleaned up and packed up, it was nightfall...  *foreboding music goes here*

Chaco was driving the country road back to our campsite, about 10 miles away.  Suddenly, a deer went scampering across the road in front of us.  Immediately, I thought,

"Hmmm, usually where there's one, at least one more is behind it"


We got him.  The sound was horrible.  I was pretty sure he was dead since we hit him just as he was emerging onto the road - in the head.  Chaco pulled right over to inspect the van and to make sure the deer wasn't suffering.

As expected, it looked like the deer had died instantly - hardly any blood.  His body lay "peacefully" parallel to and alongside the road, facing behind us.  I'm pretty sure we hit him in the head, and he spun around.

He took our passenger side headlight with him, but didn't damage the engine and only left a couple of small dents in the side door.

A clearer view in the morning,
after the late night duct tape job

We'll have to have the panel surrounding the headlight fixed before we can repair the light, but all in all, the damage was pretty minimal.

After we returned home, I took the van to the shop for an oil change and a once over.  As I explained the deer incident to the service guy, a young man in the waiting area chimed in.

"That happened to me once!  I wasn't sure if it was an elk or a moose, so I called it a 'melk'!"

So I replied, "Oh.  Yeah?"

I mean, what else do you say?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

to the dark side

You may have heard that there was a solar eclipse event that graced portions of the United States yesterday.  Here in our neighborhood, we got about 90% of totality.

But why settle for 90% when you can drive a few hundred miles for the full 100??

So that's what we did. Hightailed it north to Wyoming.

It actually took a "bit" more planning.  Magnum found and reserved us a campsite about a year ago.  Then we had to get the official glasses.  Then we all had to have the day off.

Recall that I just started a new job.  I felt uneasy about asking for two days off right off the bat, but I went ahead and put it in the system to be off without pay and arranged for a substitute, THEN I asked.  The bosses were way cool.  One noted, "You reserved your campsite before we even posted this opening...", which was true.

So, free from guilt, the guys and I headed up to Wyoming.  What an amazing sight!  The day was perfect for it, full sun with just a few wispy clouds in the distance.

As can be imagined, there was a lot of gazing at the sun.  Those thin cardboard glasses we got worked beautifully.  Pack o' ten for $12.95.  Last week, they were  $150 if you were lucky enough to find them in stock.

The CheezIt box was a highly technical device used to see the eclipse without glasses and without going blind. It was one of three projects Meego was required to come up with and build and use for one of his classes.

It worked perfectly, of course, because everyone knows the moon's made of cheese.  

It was totally worth the trip.  We watched as the moon slowly slowly covered the sun and the temperature slowly slowly dropped and the ambient light slowly slowly became dimmer and dimmer.  Then with a final surge, it was "suddenly" dark.  

Stars came out, we could take off our glasses and see the ring.  It was dark and cold and awesome.

The camp we were at was a great location and had many other eclipsians, some with very sophisticated viewing equipment.  (Ours was the only CheezIt box I saw...).  The people next to us had some sort of live radio feed with countdowns to various points of the eclipse.  As we all stood in awe of the sight, after a couple of minutes, the robotic voice chimed in,

"In ten seconds, put your glasses back on".

Darn if that "diamond ring" didn't appear in exactly 10 seconds

And then it was passed.  People were still clapping.  Some were pouring champagne.  Good times.

All in all, a highly memorable experience.  I'd "seen" partial eclipses before, but those just don't do justice to a total eclipse.  Well worth the drive and effort, even the tedious long drive back in all that post eclipse traffic.  

And we did take a moment for that deer we killed...

but that's another story.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

the good, the bad

Well, I survived my first week of Back-to-School.  To be honest, I'm actually a bit surprised how much I'm enjoying this new job.

The staff's great, and I'm enjoying getting to know my students.  I have about 250 of them, so to say I'm still learning everyone's name is an understatement.  I'm sure there are several of them who don't remember my name either, so it's fine.

In reflection on this last week, a few pro and con observations...

The Alarm

I get  up about an hour earlier than I was used to.  Magnum and I actually eased ourselves into this new wake-up time about a week before school started, so to be used to it.  I do actually like being up early, but I need to get better and getting to bed earlier!

The Commute

My commute is actually quiet awesome.  It was one of my decision criterion when looking for a job.  I'm about 4.5 miles of pleasant bike paths from the school.  To help me realize just how awesome the ride in is, I zip on by all the traffic feeding into the high school and nearby middle school.  What a rat race!  As added insult, the city decided to do a bunch of road construction along the main road, taking it down to one lane, starting this first week of school.  I'm pretty sure I actually get to work faster on my bicycle than if I drove!

Dress Code

I didn't really need to revamp my wardrobe for this job.  Tutor clothes are certainly boring enough for a high school.  As far as students go, I have seen a few violations of the dress code - all from girls.  Use your imagination... not too much.


Lunch for the kids is a bit of a zoo as there's only one lunch period for everyone.  It saddens me to see that whole mass of teen humanity filling the lunch area and beyond,  yet see several kids off by themselves eating alone and not necessarily looking happy about it.

Free stuff

So far, I've gotten a free travel cup, a big water bottle, a hoodie, a t-shirt, and a cinch sack.  Yes, they're all emblazoned with the school name and such, but... free.  And speaking of lunch, I brown bag it in the teacher's lounge which has been a good way to meet and get to know some of the others.  I discovered two Keurig machines in there along with a variety of flavor pods.  I asked how much the beverages were and the answer was

"It's free.  The student council stocks that for us"

I love the student council!

Epi pens and beyond

My classroom is "nut protected" because I have a few students throughout the day with severe allergies, so I'm okay with coming up with some sort of nut-free snacks for myself.  Gotta feel for those kids.  Other confidential information on my rosters include depression/anxiety diagnoses, seizure disorders, plenty of allegies and asthma and migraines, and a few restraining orders against parents or other family members.  Jimminy.

That schedule

We all know that public education doesn't pay all that well.  But, my day is done with plenty of daylight left.  And look at all that time off.

And then there's what's-his-face

Meego's a senior this year.  His schedule is lighter than last year, as is typical for seniors.  I'm sure he'll be highly organized and on top of his school work.  (Put that last part in for giggles)


Linking up again with Mama Kat for the prompt - with a bit of divergence:
3. List 8 things you’re looking forward to and/or list 8 things you are dreading about sending the kids myself back to school.

Monday, August 14, 2017

and so it begins

I vaguely remember freshman year of high school.  One notable characteristic was the vast difference between freshmen and seniors.

The seniors seemed SO grownup.  They drove cars, had serious relationships, and muscles (guys), and facial hair (guys)... okay maybe I mostly noticed the guys.  But in general, they all just seemed so old.

So this morning was the first day of school in our district and my new job.  Freshmen-only day at the high schools.  We made a big welcoming "gauntlet", then opened the front doors as these seemingly tiny teenagers came streaming in, looking rather like deer in the headlights.  Some seemed so young and small.  *sniff* you forget how small they are *sniff*

It was nice for us newbies too, to just have a few innocuous students in da house.  After the big gauntlet rah rah, and everyone was settled in the gym, my newbie coworker says, "That was exhausting!"

I looked at my watch.  About 5 minutes had gone by.  Just 7 hours and 55 minutes to go!

Later, after things calmed down a bit and the Freshmen went through their paces without any upperclassmen to harass them, they generally seemed pretty happy to be high schoolers.  I got situated in my room, which was assigned only this morning because of a bunch of last-minute flux.  I went to check wi-fi networks for my phone.

It's interesting to note that the high school is a good-sized complex, but plopped smack dab in the middle of a residential area, so a number of wi-fi networks showed up within range.

I had to laugh at the name of that last one

I guess if you live that close to a high school with 1700 students, it's good to have a sense of humor.

Friday, August 11, 2017

something new, something old

I graduated high school from the same school district I attended on my first day of school in Kindergarten... and all the grades in between.  I never knew what it was like to be the "new kid", and I never really wanted to either.

It seemed so awkward.  Not knowing anyone or where anything is, where to put your stuff, what people dress like, what bathrooms you shouldn't go into, any unspoken hierarchies, etc. And of course, where to sit at lunch.

This week, I was one of the new kids.  I started my high school job.  It was awkward at first, but I think I held my own.  Oh sure, I've started other jobs before, but this one being at a high school at the beginning of the school year, it feels similar to being a new student.

And so far, I'm likin' it.  Everyone seems really cool and nice, and not in an overly-cordial-because-the-principal-makes-us-be-nice-to-new-staff kind of way, but in a genuine-real-and-cool-people kind of way.  People sit with me at lunch.

So yeah, I love it!  Of course, we haven't had any students yet, they start next week...

Also, this week, I got the not-very-surprising news that I'm allergic to bees.  Wasps, yellow hornets, white faced  hornets, and yellow jackets too to round out the party!  Yay!  What the heck's a white faced hornet??

They tested me for a bunch of other stuff too, but that was last week. Apparently, the stinging insect test stuff has to be mixed up $pecial (no, that's not a typo).  Bottom line, if it's a tree, weed, or grass, I'm allergic to it, along with all those stinging insects.  Throw in a few molds for good measure.

I'm not allergic to cows, however.  Good to know?

So I'm gonna start getting allergy shots in hopes it will help my seasonal drunkenness balance troubles.  Runny nose and itchy eyes I can handle, but the vertigo's a b*tch.

The shots won't treat me for the stinging insects, though, since so far, I tend to just get a &$^##! annoying local reaction without the life threatening stuff.  Basically, my allergist advises me to

"Try not to look or smell like a flower"

As the nurse was putting me through all that testing - poking me with a gazillion syringes - she noted the smallpox vaccine scar on my left shoulder.  Who of the readers here is old enough and has a smallpox vaccine scar?  Anyone?  Show of hands?

I don't have too many vivid memories of first days of school, never being too stressed out and all.  But I DO remember getting that smallpox vaccine.

My loving mother took me down to a local gymnasium.  I was all happy because I was excited that I was going to start going to school.  Also, I enjoyed going out and about running errands with my mom, PLUS, she said after the "thing at the gym" we would see Grandma and get a donut!  Win!

Everything changed once we opened the door to that gym.

Crying and screaming children everywhere.  Tears, boogers, the whole caboodle.  They were all about my age. And I was all,

"Mom!  What fresh hell have you brought me to?!?"

I started crying too because it seemed to be the protocol.  I hadn't even gotten the shot yet.

I recall that the shot itself didn't really hurt.  It just had a strange "electrical jolt" feel to it, and left a bloody mark on my arm, now a memorable scar.  I remember thinking I could probably stop crying.

Bring on the donuts.


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
1. Share a back to school memory

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

she was

She was...

a wife

a friend

a mom

a sister

a daughter

a runner

a cancer survivor

and much more.

She died on Sunday at only 44 years old, leaving a loving husband, two wonderful daughters, and many many friends including me.

Even though I never met her in real life.

Similarly as with my internet friend JFuzz, I maybe didn't realize how much I cared until Rebecca was sick again.  Until we knew she was dying.

Rebecca was, strangely, one of my first facebook friends. I'd originally joined facebook because a few blog friends, several years ago, prompted me to join so we could play an online game together. One of those blog friends was also a friend of Rebecca's.

So yeah, I met her through a silly online word game.  Thank goodness.

And I learned she was more than her vocabulary skills.  And when her cancer came back, I was saddened, but SHE kept her smiling face somehow.  Through all the chemo and medications and having to miss out on fun things in life, she kept smiling, right up 'til the end.  Even when told it wasn't working.  Nothing was working.

Now she's finally free from all that.  I feel very sad for her husband and daughters, but I'm glad that her suffering is over.  I think of her as not necessarily "gone", just having crossed another finish line onto the next fun thing.

Enjoy your post-race beer, Rebecca.  You've earned it and so much more.

Rest in Peace.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

not in MY mom tent

Today marks the culmination of another of Meego's Marching Band Camp (this one time...?)

Overall, they had a good and productive two weeks as demonstrated in a little show they put on for us parents today.  A good start to the season.

As often happens, I volunteered a bit here and there during camp.  Yesterday, I had duty in the first aid tent, which is really just a canopy for shade and small cooler of supplies.

No real skill is required, they just like to have a volunteer there to help out in case someone gets a minor injury and to make sure everyone's getting enough water and putting on their sun screen, etc.

I did a first aid shift at last year's camp and had to deal with two or three asthma attacks that probably freaked me out more than they did the asthmatics.

So I arrived and went through the supplies and just did a general check over of things.  There was one kid already sitting in the shade of the canopy, with no discernible "injury".  After a few minutes, I realized that he just wanted to be in the shade instead of out marching.  Okay.

A small handful of other kids wandered in and out, seemingly just for some extra shade and downtime.  They are given regular breaks throughout the day.  So I just made sure they weren't visiting the "ER" for any kind of serious problem and didn't bother them otherwise.  But in my head...

Get off yer lazy asses
When I was in HS marching band?
It woulda been downright SHAMEFUL to be sitting here in the mom tent while everyone else was out on the field
Heck, we didn't even HAVE a mom tent!
Ever heard of, "Suck it up"??

Okay, maybe sympathy isn't a strong trait of mine.

I'd gotten there on bicycle Alice.  She felt the same as I did, see?

"What's with these princesses??"

As I look now at the photo of my duty station, I recall I brought a notebook to do some tutor stuff while there.  Maybe I should've had those kids in the mom tent do some math problems while hanging out in the shade.

"March or math!! Pick!"

But overall, the large majority of the kids put in the work and effort.  It's nice to see them dealing with the long days and repetition, repetition, repetition that is marching band.

"Do it AGAIN!  It's okay, I've got NOWHERE else to be at all today!" -- the words of my flag coach still etched in my brain.  Back in the days of no mom tent.

Meego and the rest of the bangers

Meego is center snare in the battery drumline.  They're a fun bunch of kids, and you can bet none of them came to bunk out in the mom tent.  Although one kid was not wearing his drum today during the performance, just marching and going through the motions.  Hmmm....

He'd better have a good reason.  😈


Thursday, August 3, 2017

... and then there was one

It's been many years since we welcomed you and your gang friends into our home.

Almost instantaneously, the three of you began to methodically and thoroughly kill everything that was alive, so I didn't dare bring anything else within your reach.

I kicked the meanest of you out, so you and your partner lived a minimal life since then - no new friends nor new vegetation to murder.

As the years ticked by, I wondered at your longevity and ability to thrive despite the depravity.

Ultimately, however, it was I who controlled your fate, as I think you know.

But I couldn't do it, I could not willingly put you to death, so I continued to sustain you both, feeding the monsters within.

But now, he's gone and only you remain.

Why do I feel sorry for you?

The Death of Monster2

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
1. Write a blog post in exactly 8 lines