Thursday, July 30, 2009
And how's the summer reading going? I just finished reading A Walk in the Woods, my curiosity about the Appalachian Trail was piqued by one of my running friends who is contemplating an attempt at it.
The author didn't actually complete the whole 2160 mile trek, though. He completed about 40% with his hikes interspersed with long stretches back in civilization. So now, I wanted to read about someone who'd done the whole thing start to finish. I just started reading A Walk for Sunshine.
The first book was very enjoyable and educational and fun to read. Two thumbs up. The author is a writer who hiked portions of the trail then wrote about it. The hiking is certainly commendable, but he's a writer first, a hiker second.
The second book is okay so far. I find the writing rather elementary, particularly after having just finished A Walk in the Woods. And I don't feel a need to be told what moleskin is or the definitions of "hypothermia" and "switchbacks", but it should be a good adventure despite some nonessential sentences.
So the first book is well written, averagely hiked. The second is well hiked, averagely written. It will all balance out in the end.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
He showed up at my front door one afternoon a couple of summers ago. We had a dying tree in the yard, and I'd called him, among others, to come and give me an estimate for its removal.
He had a sort of hippyish look to him. Longish fuzzy hair in a ponytail, full beard, John Lennon glasses. He had a sort of hippyish personality too. Very mellow and friendly. I soon learned that he and his tree service business were from the local hippie place just outside the city.
So I liked him, this hippie Tree Man, and I hired him to remove the tree. It almost seemed incongruent when he showed up a few days later, in his usual granola aura, driving a big diesel pickup pulling a trailer of power equipment.
And he made impressive short work of that tree. Several of the neighbor kids, in addition to our own kids, showed up to watch. All took delight in shouting "TIMBER!!" when the magic moment happened.
"Those all yer kids?", he asked in his hippie way.
"Nope, just three of 'em", I replied in a, hopefully, not too mother-from-suburbia way.
"Mmmm.... I've got 5 kids...", he countered in a rather conversation-while-sharing-marijuana way.
Good ol' Tree Man.
This summer, we discovered that another tree in the yard was needing last rites. It's a smaller tree than the last, so Chaco, Wolfgang, and I took it upon ourselves to put it out of its misery.
We hacked and sawed and pushed and pulled and hacked some more and sawed some more and pushed.... well, y'know. All that work reminded me of the ease with which Tree Man had removed the previous tree. But then, he did have all that equipment, and here we were, me and my two scrawny teenagers.
But we got it. It fell precisely where we'd hoped it would, and then we set about making little pieces of wood out of it.
That was a week ago today.
This morning, Magnum asked, "So'd you cut that tree down yesterday?" (We hadn't told him - remember that little Asperger's game we like to play?).
"Uhm, actually, it was last week", I revealed.
SO it only took him one week to notice. Never mind the fact that he had worked in the yard over the weekend. Never mind that it's a freakin' TREE! that's no longer THERE. One week only. That's pretty good, I'd say.
If a tree falls in the yard... ?
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My parents were oldish by the time I was born. Dad was 40 and Mom was nearly 37. So I would gaze at those photos somewhat whimsically, wondering who those young happy looking people were. Of course, I knew they were my parents, but they just seemed so young and far away and different.
For instance, here's a photo I have of my dad, taken in the Phillipines around the time he met my mom. He's the skinny smiling guy on the right. The other guy is obviously some army buddy, and I have no idea who the young filipino girls are, neither are my mom. Maybe she took the pic? Doubt it, but I'm sure there was nothing untoward going on involving these two young girls. Sure of it. It's Dad!
I think of him so young. Going off to war. Going so far away from his family. Serving.
And it seems strange sometimes to actually see my dad here, all young and boyish. My memories with him are as someone large and principled and protective and instructive and dad-like. Here, he's just a pup. On the other side of the world, helping fight a war.
Recently, I came across some photos taken years ago about the time Magnum and I were both single and about to meet. I wonder what the kids think when they see these? Is it hard to imagine their parents in the days before true adulthood? As being something other than their mom and dad?
They know Magnum was in the army, and have a typical boy-child interest in this. Here he is, back in the day, second from left, ready to bravely defend the country!
And here's one I found with some friends and me. Sadly, most of the pics from around that time are similar. Helping to make the world a better place??
Maybe I should've served in the Peace Corps or something, and taken a few inspiring pictures of such.
Maybe next go around.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
China, the crazy dog, has completed the first round of her heartworm treatments. Six months of baby heartworm killer and pills. Final round 2, the nastier of the two, is to kill the adults at the vet's next week. Hopefully, all will go well, and she can be a heartwormless dog again. Anyway, got her all prettied up yesterday with an afternoon at the salon. Well, actually, she was just due for a haircut...
With 3 boy children, it was almost inevitable that one or more would bring home a tramp at some point. Happened this week. They pooled some money, made the proper arrangements, and even got me to do the driving. Here she is, Tramp meet the blog. Blog, Tramp.
I would've gotten more of an action shot, but... lightning delay...
I was pretty neutral on the whole trampoline business, but they found this one used, they paid for it, they assembled it. All I did was drive (forever) to go get it and bring it home. A nice piece of the story is that it turned out to be a nice young military family that was selling it. The dad, with a prosthetic arm, was grateful to not have to move the tramp around when he mowed the lawn anymore.
Earlier this summer, I learned what I'd long suspected to be true. Network TV SUCKS! (my own personal humble opinion). I really don't watch much TV and we don't have cable or satellite, but with it being summer and the kids having no homework and staying out later, I'd begun turning the thing on just to see what was on it. Never found anything to my liking. So Magnum and I found ourselves just being bored sitting and looking at TV or being bored sitting and looking at each other. I suggested we go for a walk one night. Now it's become a regular evening trudge around the neighborhood. *GAG* like a couple of old folks.
Remember last week? When I had that picture of that Chaco contraption and asked people to venture a guess as to what it was? Remember that? How exciting it was??
Well, we had a total of four guesses!
Whodat: Hydrolysis attempt
Kelly: A bong (we really want to party with her now, don't we!)
Terri: A battery
Goes by the name of Anna: "I've got nothing! I'm too technologically challenged to even venture a guess!"
Okay, so technically, that's really three guesses, but I need any attention I can get.
And the winner is... ding ding ding ding ding ding ding ding (think "Price is Right" or some such)... Whodat! (applause applause)
Actually, it was electrolysis, not hydrolysis, but he had the correct definition: separating the oxygens from the hydrogens in water and separating them into bottles - Sprite and Pancake Syrup in this case. (No, this wasn't the hair removal kind of electrolysis).
But since Whodat is my geeky brother IRL, he has enough geek points to last him. Now he's got more.
Thank you to all who participated. See yous next week!
Friday, July 24, 2009
So on Monday, for Wolfgang's birthday, we all went to Elitch's. Technically, we weren't there just because it was Wolfgang's birthday. We plan a trip there each summer, so we go on his birthday because he was born on a fortunate date.
Elitch's is an all-day bit of a big deal occassion, so we might have to remind him that we would be going anyway, lest he go all birthday-boy equivalent of "Bridezilla" on us. The other kids' birthdays are more low-key, particularly Chaco's. Chaco had the misfortune of being born about two weeks after Christmas when it's the dead of winter, and everyone is all celebrated out and tired of spending money. It's a wonder he gets a cake.
But anyway, back to Elitch's. I confess to not being a big fan of amusement parks, but I don't think I'm too abnormal in this regard. The very few other mid-forties women that I saw were, like me, there under familial obligation. In addition, there's my severe acrophobia thing...
And it was a good day. Everyone had fun. There are things to entertain even the middle-aged acrophobic moms. I wandered about, people watched, cooled off heartily at the water park, and witnessed my children thrill riding from my wimpily-on-the-ground vantage point.
We purposely didn't bring a camera. I wanted to just "do" Elitch's without feeling a need to stay alert for great Annual-Pilgrimage-To-Elitch's shots. Not many others, particularly mom or dad types, shared my cameraless attitude.
A companion of a particularly photo obsessed woman remarked to her friend, "I swear, you need a 12-step program". She wasn't being sarcastic.
I wonder, is there such a thing?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I lay there for a bit and heard more rumbling, then flashes of light were noticeable on the walls and ceiling. Storm was coming.
I directed my myopic eyes to the night table where the digital clock said 12:23 a.m., in blurry red. The rumbling got louder. The flashing got brighter. Storm was closer.
I crawled out of bed and navigated through the dark house to the back door, then out to the yard, then over to the dog run where the grateful looking, tag-wagging dog stood waiting for me. I opened her gate and she made a mad dash for the back door. A fan of lightning and thunder, she is not.
Chaco met me at the door as he'd had the same idea and had gotten out of bed to save the dog from trauma by thunderstorm. No sooner had the dog gotten herself all cozied in the house, the storm arrived, bringing much lightning, much thunder, much rain.
I went back to bed, knowing sleep would be impossible, but thinking that it would be nice to be horizontal again. The storm raged outside. Chaco wandered around the house with a headlamp on his head, like a coal miner, searching for the cat.
In the morning, we all talked about the previous night's storm. All of us except for Meego, anyway.
"Wait... what? A storm? When?"
Dang, that kid could sleep through a trainwreck.
Same thing at last week's camping trip. I recall being awakened at least 4 times during the night by packs of roving coyotes. Loud critters, those coyotes. I wouldn't say that they howl. It's more like screaming. Loud screaming, yipping, yelping to their cohorts across the woods in what is their equivalent to, I guess, updating their facebook status.
In the morning, we all talked about the loud nearby coyotes. All of us except for Meego, anyway.
Monday, July 20, 2009
He's a good friend, a good brother, and a good son.
I'm always proud to say that I'm his mom.
Happy Birthday, Wolfie!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
As previously mentioned, we took another trip to the boonies for some primal camping. A short and sweet trip, but grimy and feral nonetheless, and everyone had a good time. Nice to get back to nature - all that earth, wind, fire, water and predatory wildlife. We learned throughOUT the night that there are many many coyotes in this particular area. Either that or hordes of screaming banshees.
Yesterday, for a nothing-else-to-do-on-a-Saturday activity, we went and hit the local flea market for entertainment. Always good for a show. We even ended up finding some bargains amidst the piles of trash. I am currently sporting a lovely turquois and silver ring I bought from a nice garbage-selling man.
And with summer break still in full-swing, no one has yet uttered that ubiquitous "I'm Bored" (other than myself, but I only say it in my head). Seems like each of the kids finds things to occupy their time in between hanging out with friends and other adventures. And for today's pic of the week, we have:
This is a Chaco apparatus. It brings me back to when I was pregnant with him, our oldest, and wondering just what kind of child Magnum and I would spawn. I had a brief vision of some Jimmy Neutron type, constructing bombs in the basement.
This is not in our basement, however, it's on the back deck. Note that it is "live" (plugged in). To my relief, it is not a bomb. Note also, that it is very environmentally friendly with all that scrounged stuff from the recycle bin. We have a Sprite bottle, a pancake syrup bottle, a cranberry juice concentrate can, a ginger snap tin. Mega geek points for anyone who can identify what it is.
Friday, July 17, 2009
It first dawned on me a few years ago when I was working as a temporary special ed. resource teacher at the local elementary school. We were discussing a particular student, and my boss was rather upset because some counselor was trying to "treat" the student for Asperger's when none of us, who worked with him daily, felt that he had it. He had issues, oh yes he did, but he didn't have Asperger's.
And it think I already had an inkling about Magnum before this, but the discussion of this student only solidified my non-professional diagnosis. All the while, I was thinking, "No, Alex (that's his name) doesn't have Asperger's because he doesn't do the Asperger stuff that Magnum does".
So, long story short, I told Magnum of my suspicions. He found an Asperger specialist type person in town, and he passed her tests with flying colors. If I remember correctly, "normal" (also known as "NT" for "Neuro Typical") people get an average scaled score of 4 in the battery of tests. The average Asperger person scores a 14. Magnum, in his typical overachieving fashion, outdid them and scored a 17.
And lemme tellya, it's not for the weak. As I've told Magnum, "a lesser woman woulda left by now!". He knows I'm having fun with him... and he also knows it's true.
He's learned to laugh at himself. Yes, Asperger's can be fun. For instance, around here, whenever we change something about the house, we play the game of don't-tell-Dad-and-see-how-long-it-takes-him-to-notice. All in fun of course.
I finally told him about a particular lampshade after two years had passed.
So, I must say, while "a lesser woman" wouldn't put up with the whole NT-married-to-an-AS scenario (and many just don't), in many ways I'm glad to be here. We're on the brink of our 19th anniversary, and looking back, I was a lesser woman before. This challenge has, I think, made me better than I was.
I could cry, but I choose to laugh. Because sometimes it's funny.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Okay, one of these things is not like the other.
Yes, these are my ankles. Note the boney old-ladyish looking one on the left. That is the "normal" state. Note the puffy, lack of boney old-ladyish one on the right. That's the annoying state.
Seems that while we were out in the wilds earlier this week, some flying biting thing had a feast of my right ankle. Beeotch.
I remember the little ankle-biters following me around during our fishing excursion. Not sure what they were. Horse flies? The itchiness was apparent when we returned home but that's nothing new because my legs always itch in the summertime. I'm not sure if it's just a heat rash kind of thing or if it's from running on weed infested trails or some combination of both, but the itchy leg syndrome is just something I must deal with. Every summer.
But soon after the itchiness started, the puffiness began. And kept puffing. I wondered, how big could my boney old-lady ankle get?
So itchy ankles in summer are nothing new. A puffed-up ankle accompanied by a couple of bite sites characterized by little hard bumps is a rather novel thing, however.
Could be worse, I guess. Coulda been a bear.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Hello, people of the civilized world. Just got back from another blast back to the stone age. Yes, we took another camping trip.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Yes, there is a beach! In Colorado even! A few of them actually. They are absolutely nothing like the beaches on TV, or, I bet, the beaches on vacations. There are some lakes here. And there are parts of the shores of some lakes that have some sand. There's a lake here in the city that has some sand, and someone put in some restrooms and a lifeguard chair and called it the beach.
I kinda like the beach. The pools get all crowded and I feel like a log in a log jam on the way to the sawmill when I go there.
The beach has a lot of room to swim, and it's in the middle of a local park. Kids frolic around in the surf and sand, serious swimmers do their laps, training for their next triathlon I suppose. The lifeguards are not Baywatchians, just nice responsible high school kids holding down nice responsible summer jobs.
So yes, we hit the beach whenever our schedules and the weather cooperate. So far, this year, we've gone ONE whole time. It rains nearly every afternoon. I don't mind rain. Hail can make a mess and sting when it hits. Lightning, I've got the phobia.
So days at the beach are that much sweeter since they can be hard to come by. Yes, I like the beach.
Except on Wednesdays.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
So there I was, loping along on a dirt trail through some undeveloped land. This area was discovered to be a habitat to the precious jumping preble mouse, and there is ongoing debate as to whether these rodents... er... precious jumping preble mice are endangered or not. In the meantime, no development is allowed there.
I don't have any particular affinity for the preble mouse, but I am grateful for the debate they've stirred up as it keeps my stretch of running boonies in its state of boonyness.
So as I'm basking, I hear some thrashing about in the foliage to my left. There are other trails in this preble mouseville, and I had seem some runners/dog walkers bobbing about.
I look to my left and see a couple of dogs... no wait... these are HUGE dogs... no wait... these are two big DEER! Two deer trotting single file towards me, headed for the road on my right.
So I slow up as to let them have the right-of-way. I wasn't too worried about them crossing the road as there wasn't much traffic out yet, and visibility was ample enough for drivers to plainly see the deer.
I let them cross in front of me. They made it across the east bound lanes without incident and were in the median ready to cross the west bound lanes when some traffic went whizzing by. This caused the deer in front to, thankfully, stop its forward progress but caused the deer behind to, not so thankfully, bolt.
Bolt and do a 180 back toward the direction from whence it came. Bolt and do a 180 right back to me, standing there like the proverbial deer in the headlights. How ironic is that?!?
And I swear, it was looking me right in the eye the whole time, and speaking to me. This is what it said. "Get out of my freakin' way! I'm a crazed deer, and I WILL take you DOWN!" And this was not Bambi. It didn't look a thing like Bambi. This deer was huge. A lot of steaks and sausage there.
Okay, captivating bonding moment with nature was then OVER! I quickly became a runner once again. Not in my usual relaxed stride, but more in resemblence to Captain Jack Sparrow when he was running away from the cannibals.
By the time I looked back, the deer were no longer in sight. I was secure in the knowledge that neither had ended up as roadkill, and thankful that I hadn't ended up a big trampled salt-lick.
Those preble mice. They know how to party.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Because of certain "trappings" I've picked up in life (namely a husband and 3 kids), my life is not the carefree clutter-free life it once was, but I manage. So on last week's post, I had posed a question to what others had in THEIR closets. Those items that have either been forgotten, or that we are just too weak to bring ourselves to part with.
Despite my anticlutter stance, I admit to such a weakness. Two, actually.
I know what some may be thinking. "We had to turn in our track uniforms at the end of the season". Yeah, well so did we, which is probably the reason this particular piece of cotton contraband is difficult for me to part with. And that's all I will say about that...
Monday, July 6, 2009
Fourth of July pretty much marks the halfway point of summer break, and here I am feeling a bit stir crazy. I know because when I get this way, I start doing restless activities. Today? I pulled weeds. I mean I pulled bunches and bunches of weeds.
Remember how I told a while back about our backyard jungle? The one that became somewhat civilized after I placed a new weed whacker into Wolfgang's destructive hands? Well, whaddya know, the place doesn't stay cleaned up on its own.
Today, it was an all-out weed assault. Because I'm restless. How are weeds measured? Bevies? Bushels? Bunches? Barrels? Anyway, I pulled lots. Pounds, many pounds. Yes, the nature (pun intended) of my backyard allows for this.
We do have somewhat of a structure, if we can call it that, to our summer. We made a list. A to-do list like thing. A list of things we want to do over the summer, finances allowing. That last part? That "finances allowing" part? Kinda limits us *pffffffft*.
And we've checked a few things off the list - done some things more than once - and it's going well, I'd say. But still, here I am all restless.
I think I need help. I need some good cheap fun advice to use up these last precious weeks of summer break. I feel them slipping through my fingers.
I need a good brainstorm session. No criticizing.
Legality is negotiable.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
First of all, on this holiday, I am thankful to wake up in the U.S., given some of the alternatives.
We enjoyed a lovely hike today. It was cut a little short because of some ominous looking and rumbling cloudage. I'm not a big fan of being on top of a mountain when lightning comes to visit.
As it happened, however, once we'd made it back to our van, the nasty stuff had moved off in a different direction, but we still had an enjoyable time and took in some nice scenery. There were a few other hikers and mountain bikers enjoying the day, but not so many as to give it the tourist trappy feel. And with that acknowledgement, assume whatever you'd like regarding the "nice scenery" *wink*wink*.
Also, got rid of some junk this week. The next door neighbor is getting ready to sell her house (Nooooooo! Not the GOOD neightbor!!), and threw a garage sale yesterday. Chaco, Wolfgang, and Meego decided to get in on it and sold some of their crap.... er... previously enjoyed recreational items. I didn't sell anything, but it got me digging around anyway, and our donation box is once again ready for pickup.
Oh, and I did get in a good chick flick after this week of All-Transformers-All-The-Time. Ladies, I recommend "In Her Shoes". I'd never heard of it before and don't remember how it ended up on our Netflix queue, but I am so thankful it came to us in my time of need. Magnum even watched it with me and declared it good.
So, once again, Happy Independence Day! Be safe. Don't drink and drive. Don't hike around lightning. Don't get cocky with the Chinese explosives.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
The story goes that I was just walking around minding my own business when an evil softball hit me in the face. I think I was about 3 years old.
Thankfully, I have absolutely no recollection of actually being smacked in the face. I imagine that it wouldn't be pleasant. But I just remember sitting there all bloody on the kitchen counter. I don't recall that I was crying. I was just sitting there, smeared about in my own blood, as Mom took care of things. That's what moms are for. Cleaning up blood and stuff.
Unless it's not that bad. Unless it was brought on by oneself.
Yesterday, I was at the stove stirring up some sloppy joes when Meego walked in with a concerned look on his face. I could tell something was up.
Yes. He had a tampon stuck up his nose.
Okay, so before your brains start creating these images of female hygeine products and strings dangling from the nostril and applicators washing up on the beaches, recall the definition of "tampon":
And no, he didn't say, "Mom, I have a tampon stuck up my nose", I just thought I'd use actual medical terminology.
He'd gotten a bloody nose, took the appropriate action of shoving a tampon up the offending nostril, except he shoved it too far and left no extraction handle. Then, I'm guessing, in his attempts to remove it, he managed to only push it up further.
I decided that this was a teachable moment.
Since he wasn't just 3 years old, and since he hadn't been an innocent victim, and since he didn't have blood gushing, I basically told him that he'd made that bed, now go sleep in it. In other words, he should try to get it out himself. That would learn him to not do the no-extraction-handle again.
After much snorting and blowing and sneezing and whining, the tampon had not budged a whole lot. Finally, Chaco, being the control freak he is, took matters into his own hands. He took my tweezers - MY tweezers! The ones that keep me from being all unibrow! - and adeptly extracted the offensive tampon.
He went on to describe the extraction in much detail as we lost our appetites for sloppy joes.
I think Meego learned his lesson. As for Chaco, I think he could make a very skilled surgeon some day. If he wasn't such a techno-geek. And lazy.