Monday, October 25, 2021

the old bag

The first thing I noticed were his legs.  Yes, (1) they were quite large and muscular, but (2) the temperature was upper 30's - a bit chilly for shorts in my book.  Maybe big muscles are warming. 

After acknowledging the big bare legs on the crisp morning, the next thing I noted was his bag. It was attractive and resting comfortably-looking on his back, made specifically for bicycling.  He continued south at the point where I turn east, but not before I'd acquired a good case of bag envy.

This happened one morning last week as I was riding my bicycle in to work.  Mornings are busy with bicycle traffic as I live in between a high school and an elementary school.  Packs of high schoolers pass in my opposite direction as I ride along with the elementals and, sometimes, a parent or two.

But Bag Guy was no high schooler, nor a parent of an elementary kid.  He looked to be another commuter like myself - but younger, faster, with stronger legs and nicer bag.

Until then, I'd been content enough with the backpack I wear to work.  It's about 3 years old and still in decent shape.  It holds what I need and then some.  I emptied it out for a round of what's-in-my-bag:

And I thought, "well, just for fun, let's see if I can find that guy's bag online", which of course I did.

I found it all over:  the bag company website, Amazon, All at the same price

The bag company detected me lurking around and offered me 10% off my purchase.  But I can get it from amazon with free shipping, which about balances with the 10% off, BUT I can get it from REI, pick it up myself and avoid shipping altogether PLUS get my 10% dividend.

And then I thought, "Wait, do I need a new bag?".  Well, no 

"Does that bag have some nice features my current one doesn't?".  Well, yes.

"But do I need it?". Well, no

...and so on.  

My inner don't-settle-for-less struggles with my inner minimalist. 

Then this morning, this popped up in my Instagram feed.  This black cat in the bag I want/don't need.


I've always liked black cats.

"Is this cat telling me to get the damn bag already?".  Well... ?

Sunday, October 17, 2021

how far off, I sat and wondered

Thursday night, I was awakened by... nature sounds?  In my grogginess, I thought maybe it was raining, and I was hearing soft drips from the backyard trees.  Then I remembered it was cold outside and our windows were closed.

Upon further awakening, I concluded the sounds were coming from the cat.  He was cleaning himself.  But then... he doesn't usually clean himself so loudly, so moistly

At that point I debated on whether I even wanted to know what he was doing.  But yeah, of course I needed to find out.  I flicked on the reading lamp.


He was eating a mouse. SH*T!

We've spotted some mice lately, running around the yard.  It seems they've infiltrated.  On the one hand, I was all, "Yay, the cat's doing his job!".  And on the other hand, "Ew".

We had a similar awakening on Friday night.  We're sure he's catching the mice somewhere in the house, then bringing them to our bedroom as trophies.  Yeah, no.

Thankfully, last night was mouse free.  I'm hoping the others, if they exist, have gotten the message.  And I'm thinking it's highly likely there are more than just two, because when there are two... there are never just two.

And yes, we have mouse traps now.  And also, for this reason, I've deemed that we will always love and care for employ a family cat.  Napolion's badass.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

we're the old ones now

Aside from biting the dark dust on Thursday morning, this has been a  nice week. And this weekend happened to be homecoming and parents' weekend at the university.

Back in the days before we lived here, Magnum and I traditionally skipped parents' weekend and instead came up to visit on the following weekend, rebels that we are.  Well, not so much rebellion, but more about avoiding crowds, traffic, and high hotel rates - provided one can find a room available.  

Plus, we didn't attend school here, but rather attended the in-state rival university, so no "homecoming" for us either.  We lived in town last year but, alas, there was a world-wide pandemic happening. There were no crowds or hotel logistics to deal with, but... yeah.

4th year's a charm, I guess, as we were actually present, somewhat.  We didn't go to the football game or bonfire, etc.  Leave that for the college kids.  Meego and his house mates hosted a parents' weekend BBQ bash at their place last night, so partake we did.

They are 4 guys - all great "kids" - renting a house near campus. Pretty decent place with a nice backyard for such events.  They've got a patio, grill, fire pit, corn hole out back and a well-done beer pong table in the garage *ahem*.  Veeery college dudes vibe.  And a nice turnout for the bash with all the house parents in attendance, even a coupla grandparents, and several college friends. 

Our hosts accommodated us by playing 80's music, while admitting to not knowing hardly any of the artists.  Magnum and I behaved ourselves and left the drinking games to the youngsters, although a coupla parents joined for a bit, citing Uber as an option.  Not sure about Grandma and Gramps.

So a nice week for the students, with the football team even pulling out the all important win.  One hitch was that the college Prez recently tested positive for COVID.  She stated in her email that she'd been exposed about a week prior, so was tested.  As such, she quarantined herself from homecoming events. So bummer for her, but she said she felt fine, and hopefully that's still the case.

The party was reminiscent of my own college days, although those guys live quite more comfortably than I ever did during those times.  In the meantime, I'm working through my gardening extension classes. Finished soils and botany and am now learning entomology (bugs).

Metamorphosis is interesting:  larval stage all about eating and growing.  Adults' job is to reproduce and die.  

Anyway, had a good time this weekend with the larvae.  Next?

Thursday, October 7, 2021

something strange in your neighborhood

It makes sense that we call the current season "Fall".  I totally get it now.  

I was out enjoying a lovely run this morning, before sunrise.  Best time of day, right?  The trees and their ancestors cohorted to take me out.

I was loping along this particular section of sidewalk, a particular section I've walked and jogged many a time before.  But the trees, they had it in for me 

The lovely sidewalk in the friendly daylight

It was early morning, it was dark.  There are streetlights interspersed along the road, but those Ash trees are so good and providing shade...

Then there's the friendly fences that create a nice boundary between the public and private properties.  The trees talked to the fence... or the fence talked to the trees.  I dunno, but whoever's idea it was, I bit it.

I was moving along my merry way down the sidewalk, had entered the under-canopy of those tree friends.  I could make my way just fine in the temporary darkness.  Then,

wham-blam! (or something like that).  I was on the ground.

Realizing I was no longer upright, I sought the reason.  Oh fine, a slat from a section of fence had broken free and landed crosswise in the sidewalk.  A ghost of trees past, it's the only explanation.  My knobby knees and knobby shoulder we're its main victims.

In the end, no real harm done.  Coupla skinned knees, little shoulder abrasion, and a slightly tweaked rib near my right boob/underarm (heaven knows I've not got a lot of padding in that particular region). I got up and finished runnin' the route and took the "poor me" photo of the knee wounds when I got home.  

Have a nice trip, see ya next fall!

Coulda been a lot worse... as in... so glad no one saw me.


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

6. Write about a time you thought there was a ghost.

Monday, October 4, 2021

turn down for what

Happy October!  It feels good to wrap up summer, I think.  I'll be whining about cold and dark soon enough, though.

Magnum and I had a free Sunday yesterday and decided to take a drive up to Estes Park, CO for a little "getaway".  HA! Joke's on us.

We got there, and it was CROWD-DED.  We wondered if this was typical?  I mean, it was a beautiful day weather-wise, Estes Park is a popular tourist trap... But lo and behold, we soon learned it as the annual Elk Fest!  

"The festival coincides with the famous elk rut, or elk mating season"

And, in fact, we did see a herd of elk meandering through the masses.  Here's one of them, totally ignoring the traffic laws.

So, yes.  It's mating season in the high country, and the elk don't care who knows what they're up to.  Our quiet getaway squashed, we made the most of it and headed to the festival where we stopped by several booths of typical fest fair:  handmade jewelry, purses and bags, nature photographs, live birds of prey, and a double-wide tent featuring pelts and antlers of several dead animals.

Estes Park is also home to the Stanley Hotel, Stephen King's inspiration for The Shining.  We did a ghost tour of the place a few years ago during a winter break.  Highly recommend.

We didn't go inside the hotel on this visit, just appreciated it from afar.

After our fill of scenery and Elk Fest festivities, we headed back home, confident that the elk will do their thing and carry on the species.

On the drive up, we noticed a few bighorn sheep crossing signs, but didn't see any of those creatures.  The ride home didn't disappoint, however:  

I love ewe.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

act like you don't see me

I was talking with one of my coworkers today, sort of connecting the dots to how we'd both ended up working at a college in a testing center.  

I knew she'd been a school teacher for several years, elementary through high school.  But then she told me she originally wanted to be a nurse.

"I liked science, and took the test, and was accepted into a good school, but I just wasn't sure that I could really do it", she explained.

So she tried the waters and earned her CNA certification.

"The first job they assigned me was in a dementia ward of a nursing home, and in a short period of time, it became a job I just DREADED going to".

It was enough to turn her off nursing school, and she ended up enrolling in an education program instead.

I had a similar try-it-and-see experience when I thought I might want to be a high school teacher.  I took a job as a non-licensed para at a high school back in 2017, remember?  Do ya?

I figured it was a good way to literally get my foot in the door toward being a licensed teacher and also a way to see if I'd like working in a public high school.

The short answer is, "NOPE".

I won't go into a detailed bitchfest of what I think is wrong with public high school.  And really, it's not all bad, it just was not my cup of tea.

I'm grateful for that job since it saved me from putting any more time and energy (and money) into pursuing a teaching license.

I remember one kid, Chris.  He was a senior who'd transferred in after moving from another state.  He was a bit of a "thug".  Didn't work very hard at at school, got into trouble for truancies and such, didn't care much for authority. But he had pretty solid attendance, probably to the disappointment of some of his teachers.

I worked in the study hall, and he would goof around in there while other students were trying to work.  He once told me that he didn't have anything to work on, so I told him I'd give him some math problems, which I did.

He worked on them for the remainder of the time and handed the worksheet back to me before leaving.  I looked it over, and he'd done it all correctly.  That was honestly a surprise.

Another time, he was again acting up, out of boredom I suppose - again having nothing to work on because his class schedule was ridiculously light.  I asked if there was something he liked to do that was school related and could be done quietly.  He told me he liked to write.  Specifically, he liked to write Rap lyrics.

"Great, write some Rap", I enthused.

"You wouldn't like what I write", he responded.

"No, go ahead, write whatever you want", I said.  But he still declined, saying it could get him in (more) trouble,

"Okay, write a Rap song about yourself, then", I tried.

To my surprise, he did.  To my bigger surprise, he showed it to me and asked what I thought

It wasn't nasty or filled with cusswords - not too many anyway.  He wrote about liking basketball - he'd tried out for the school team, but didn't have the grades to stay on the roster - and hanging out and coming up with Rap lyrics.  He wrote about missing his friends back in the town he'd moved from.  He wrote about his eye for fashion - he was a bit of a sneakerhead and liked hip hop style clothing.  The school didn't allow any bling, though.

I found it surprisingly good and thoughtful.  And maybe more surprising, he seemed to really want to know what I thought.

There was a pep rally in the gym one day.  I was already terribly bored with the job and just there out of obligation.  I noticed Chris in the stands among the other seniors.  He was trying to get into the cheers - how the different classes try to out scream each other at those things.  But he was off to the side by himself and didn't really know the different cheers.  

Another day in the study hall, another time I'd pulled him aside for being too rowdy, we were back near my desk, thinking of something he could do quietly for the next hour.  He leaned in and whispered,

"I don't really fit in at this school".

I whispered back,

"Me neither".


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
5. Write about a time someone surprised you

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

it's a start

My thoughts while listening to other runners strategizing before the start:  "Geez people, it's just a fun run.  Chill"

My thoughts while getting bunched up at the turnaround: "Move it or move aside!  Sheesh, this isn't a Sunday stroll!"

My local run club had our first race of the Tortoise and Hare season last Sunday.  Weather was beaut.  It was a short fast race - 4K, so about 2.5 miles.  

Tortoise and Hare races are sort of "backward".  Instead of a mass start with finishers trickling in, T&Hs estimate everyone's finishing times, then we start accordingly.  Slower runners start first, and several waves of runners follow.  We are spaced at 30-second intervals.  If the estimates are accurate, we all finish at nearly the same time.

It usually works out quite well, the club's algorithm for predicting finishing times is based on previous T&H races and has proven to be pretty accurate.  My start time was 20 minutes into the race, and a few speedster waves started after me.  We were pretty bunched up by the halfway point and continued to take on mass toward the finish.  

The club does a T&H each month from September through March, supposedly to keep people running through the winter.  

Here's the start of my wave, all of us looking a little bored?  

It was fun to race again with a good turnout.  Next month is a 10K, just in time for Halloween.  Hopefully it won't snow.