Wednesday, November 30, 2011

without a trace

Somber times here at the AbbyNormal household...

Our cat has gone missing.

Cookie has been in the family for over 12 years, so he's been here longer than Meego.  We freed him as a trapped stray, and he followed us home and has been with us ever since.  Being the cat that he is, he's always had his own agenda - coming and going as he pleases. 

Sometime Monday evening, we surmise that he went out.  Nobody remembers seeing him since.  A somewhat eerie twist is that I took a photo of him with Chaco shortly before he went missing.

There was just something about the image of the two of them sitting there in The Corner in the glow of the computer monitor that struck me, so I snapped a quick spontaneous photo. 

So we've searched all of his usual hangouts, and searched a few unusual hangouts, but still no sign of him.  Wolfgang and I even paid a visit to the Humane Society last evening.  Dang, there are a LOT of cats at that place!  None of them was Cookie, however. 

It was my first visit to our local Humane Society, and I know they sometimes get a bad rap from other Rescue groups because they do occassionally put animals that aren't adopted in a timely manner to sleep.  But I found the place quite warm and caring.  If I hadn't committed all of my volunteer availability to the Po-Po, I'd look into volunteering there.

But honestly, I didn't expect to find him.  He's too smart and too careful to end up at the Humane Society. 

And that's what makes this such a mystery.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 29, but not really

November is coming to a close and I'm still blogging every day.  Okay, so I didn't find out about the blog everyday bandwagon until half the month was gone, but better late than never!  Last week was a bit of a challenge to post something each day with the holiday and all, but I managed and now we're into the home stretch.

And I'm going to try to keep going. I understand that the mayhem continues, here's the new badge for December. 

NaBloPoMo 2011

Go ahead, click it!  It starts December 1st and runs until December 31st. Just make the commitment to (1) blog daily for the month (nothing more to it than that!) and (2) to support your fellow NaBloPoMo'ers by reading a handful of the other blogs on the blogroll. 

Or not.  I'm not a pusher.

They'll have daily prompts again for those days when you feel your own life is just too boring to share. 

These kinds of things are good for me.  I've learned that, like many, I need some external challenge to keep my interests up.  That's why I could never keep a journal going before the blog age, no matter how "healthy" I'd heard it was.  I'm curious about other bloggers.  Did / Do you keep a written journal?  For any appreciable length of time?  For your eyes only?

Oh yeah, there was also portrait-a-day month which I managed for about a week.  But I did add a few portraits to my "gallery" and so to herald the end of that November promo, I made a video

I didn't embed it here because THIS is not an art blog, but it's a video of portraits, just portraits.  Feel free to click and see.

Now, time to go do the paid employment thing...

Monday, November 28, 2011

instru mental

I think I've mentioned here that Meego took up the baritone this year for 6th grade band.  Since, often when he tells people who are not particularly brass-oriented, they ask "baritone what?", I've included a photo of the brass baritone.

I also wanted to include a photo to demonstrate the size of the baritone.

No, none of these baritone players is Meego.  These are fully grown adult baritone players.  Meego is smaller, his baritone is the size shown.

I, for one, love the sound of the baritone and am happy that it was the instrument he settled on when we went to pick-ur-instrument day last year. 


Meego rides a bus to school and schlepping this thing back and forth is quite an ordeal.  Magnum is at work during times Meego goes to and from school, and ironically, I am escorting a bunch of other people's kids to and from school during times Meego goes to and from school. 

So there's the dilemma.  How can the poor kid practice the baritone at home?  His genius of a mom I decided to ask the band director if there were any extra baritones laying around the bandroom.  I'd be happy to pay the rent on an extra one if Meego could keep it at the house and not attempt the schlepping thing. 

Lo and behold, not only was there an extra one laying around, the band director let us keep it at home for free.  Granted, it's not particularly pretty,  but it's certainly suitable for an 11-year-old beginner to stash at home and practice on.  This system was working wonderfully.


For some strange reason, Meego brought home the pretty, stays-at-school baritone over Thanksgiving break.  It's sitting on the floor next to the beat up, stays-at-home baritone.  Naturally, he wants it at school in time for band class, and the bus driver doesn't allow it on the bus in the mornings.  I could run it over there now, like I've done in the past, but I really want to drive home the idea that he uses the ugly one for practicing at home and the pretty one stays at school since I blog and doodle and play with the dog work and have appointments in the mornings, and it's often difficult to get it to school in time for band class.

Hmmm, what to do.  Any advice?  I'll wait, I've got nothing in particular going on right now...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Silver Liningness

"Silent gratitude isn't very much use to anyone" -  Gertrude Stein.

And so how can I be grateful in silence - especially this week of government mandated thankfulness? 

Really, though, it was a nice week.  Kids and husband all had the whole week off, so ironically, I was the only one with any sort of work schedule - having a few tutor sessions to pepper the week.  But I wasn't so busy as to not enjoy some holiday festivities.

And the weather's been great all week, considering it's the end of November (with the exception of yesterday which totally blowed... yes "blowed" as opposed to "blew").  Got in some nice fresh air time. 

The Turkey Trot as mentioned on Thursday was very fun.   I race about once every blue moon.  When I do, I prefer to be competetive about it, but I also appreciate those who just like to have fun.  I saw several participants dressed as pilgrims or turkeys or native Americans, and I understand there was a group festively dressed as salmonella in the true spirit of the holiday. 

It was also fun to have Wolfgang there - our first race together - knowing he was in the pack somewhere up ahead of me.

That competetive streak is something that came to light recently from my life coaching activity, which is still challenging me in good ways.   That reminds me, I have homework...

Spending "black Friday" with Mom and Dad was nice too.  Mom has been struggling off-and-on with health issues this past year, and Dad's not getting any younger either.  Both of them were looking good and were relatively energetic during my visit. 
Mom and I actually did do some extreme grocery shopping together - which doesn't really count as black Friday shopping I suppose.  Simple pleasures.

And speaking of bargains, sort of, I managed to sell off some electronics this week.  In light of yet another story of murder-by-craigslist, I will say that it's at least been good to me.

So a nice week all around, but I'm ready to get back into the swing tomorrow...


It's Illustration Friday on Sunday this week!  The prompt is "round".

I believe in Karma - that whole notion of what-goes-around-comes-around.   It does offer some comfort when I think about child molesters, or those who cover up for child molesters, or those who bring pepper spray to their black friday events, or...

Maybe it's also why I like to ride my bicycles.

The gerbils of this world understand.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

sunshine award

This award has been sitting in my e-mail for a while now and I'd say it's about time I did the right thing and acted on it!

Linda Hensley, a blogger and wonderful artist I met through Illustration Friday action presented me with it.  It's a total honor since Linda is such a great artist and writer.  Illustration Friday gets a lotta traffic, and I usually just check out a few entries.  I always go see what Linda's come up with, and she typically has a great story to go with her illustrations. 

The rules for receiving the award:
- Thank the person who gave you the award (check).
- Write a post about it (in process).
- Answer to the questions below (here goes).
- Pass it on to 10 bloggers who you think really deserve it and send them a message to let them know (you all deserve it!)

The questions:

01. My favorite color:  ROYGBIV

02. My favorite animal:  Racehorses (is that one word or two?)

03. My favorite number:  13

04. My favorite non-alcoholic drink?   Hawaiian punch.  Just kidding.

05. I (reluctantly) joined facebook and (as required by my boss) twitter.

06. My passion: (I can't pick just one) parenting, painting, writing, running, bicycling, teaching, but housecleaning not so much...

07. getting or giving presents?  Yes

08. My favorite pattern?  Fibonacci

09. My favorite day of the week?  Tuesday

10. My favorite flower?  The Sunshine Award one of course!

Friday, November 25, 2011

feral time

Greetings on this Black Friday.  I for one did not do any door-bustin' whatsoever.  I took a quiet trip down to sex-change town to visit my parents, and all I did to stimulate the economy was buy some gas.

It was nice to get away.  I left all of the menfolk here to fend for themselves without me.  They had some good man-time.  Went and shot at things.

And I wanted to keep up the spirit of NaBloPoMo and not miss a day!  When all else fails, just load up some gratuitous photos, right?  Yesterday, after the turkey was but a carcass, we went a did a little communing with nature.

I brought the camera, much to the camera-opposed children.  I had to trick them into being photographed.

Chaco, sniped from a bit of cover for me - resulting in a covered photo of him...

"Hey, Meego, what's this thing?!" (Ambushed!)

"Where you at, Wolfgang?!" (Psyche!)

Even managed to catch Magnum in the corner.  Something about two birds in the bush? 

Anyway, we did have a nice Thanksgiving.  It was just the 5 of us again this year.  I would prefer a get-together, but at the same time, there's no pressure on me to not screw up the meal.  And we did enjoy this nice time in the wild. 

With the unseasonably nice weather, and people with visitors in town, we came across a few others enjoying the great outdoors.  One little girl was wearing a white skirt and a short-sleeved white fur hoodie.  Was the cutest thing and not something normally seen in such a place.  The fur and the natural surroundings made her resemble a child of the Cave Bear Clan or similar. 

Another group of kids was stopping to pick up just about every rock they could.  Cheap Colorado souvenirs I guess. 

I hope everyone reading had a nice holiday, if you so celebrate.  No drunken relatives having to be removed, no pepper-spray incidents, etc.  Although if any of that stuff did happen, please do tell!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! (for lack of a better title idea)

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends!  And I'm thankful for all of my blog friends no matter what your citizenry!

Wolfgang and I went Turkey Trotting this morning.  It's a beautiful November day, so as expected, there was a huge turnout - over 3000 runners I think.

I don't race very often, so for someone who usually runs alone in the dark wee hours of the morning, this was quite fun to be part of such a hoard.

My goal was to be first for my age group, but some 45-year-young buck beat me, so I got second.  Well, I was still the fastest old lady...  Time was 22:46, so I'm good with that.

Update: Official results = second fastest old lady.
Wolfgang made an impressive showing at 60th overall.  For a race of 3000+ people, he would probably get into Harvard in a test score analogy.  19:36 for him.

So it was a nice way to start the day.  And I got this cute squishy turkey for my efforts.  I can't decide what to name him/her.  Our sacrificial turkey is about ready to eat, and the aroma is making the cat and dog a bit more mental than they usually are. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my blog friends!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Okay, the week started off with my birthday and the age reminders just keep a-coming.  Chaco asked if he could either borrow the car (no) or get a ride (probably not) to a friend's house for a party.  I asked him which friend this was and where friend lived.  The friend was Andrew and Andrew doesn't live that far away, so like the true bicycling mom I am, I suggested Chaco just ride his bike to Andrew's.

The following rivetting exchange ensued.

Chaco:  "I can't".

Me:  "Why not?"

So Chaco goes on to explain that he needs the car because he's bringing his computer.  Now, this Frankenstein computer he built has many bells and whistles and unique features.  However, portability is not one of them.

"Bringing your....?  What!?  Why?", I says.

"We're having a LAN party", he flatly replies like it should be obvious to me.

*blank stare*

At that point, I had never heard the term "LAN party".  I was familiar with "LAN", and I was familiar with "party", and the two terms seemed pretty mutually exclusive to me. 

Me: "A LAN party?!"

Chaco: "Yeah", looking around like there's something weird in the room that he hasn't noticed.

And I'm thinking that that's got to be the nerdiest thing I've heard in a long time and I'm giggling.  "Really?  A 'LAN party'"?

"Yes", Chaco replies, amused at my amusement.  And I'm thinking, without saying out loud, gosh, when I was his age we got drunk and made out...

I've since learned that these things... these LAN parties...  aren't so far outside the bell curve as I originally thought.  They're quite popular and common, and I'm actually glad that nerds computer aficionados have an agreeable means to socialize.

Figure 1 shows just such an event!

Figure 1

Here's a challenge for you.  Find the female. tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock...  Never mind, there isn't one.

Regardless, I gave Chaco and the beloved computer a ride to Andrew's for this LAN party.  There are certainly worse things they could be doing.  Oh... so much worse.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

the day he stopped being clingy

We were at the library.  Not the little branch library, but the big huge 4-story library downtown.  There was a sturdy wooden dollhouse in the children's area that Meego liked to play with while I got books for us.  That day, there was another little boy about Meego's age playing with the dollhouse.  Meego was just 3-years-old and rather shy, so I was glad there was a "peer" there for him to play with. 

As I selected a few books, I kept my ears on the dollhouse area and watched Meego and the other boy play with my peripheral vision.  After getting some good stories, I went to retrieve Meego and go to the checkout. 

He wasn't there.

What I'd thought was the sound of both him and the other boy playing turned out to be just the other boy talking with himself. 

It was the worst feeling in the world.  Where was Meego?  I walked past all of the bookshelves in the children's area, searching each aisle.  No sign of him.  He wouldn't wander off without me, would he?  He was usually so clingy, I'd never had to worry about it.

After what felt like hours but was probably just a couple of minutes, I realized he wasn't in the children's area, so I had to expand my search.  Damn, that library was huge!

One of the staff saw me looking and I told her I was looking for my toddler son.  He was wearing a blue fleece hoodie.  I felt like the worst mom in the world, but at the same time, I was glad to have another set of eyes looking for him.

She said, "There's a storytime going on downstairs.  Maybe that's where he went".  She said she would go check while I continued to look on the main floor.  Surely, I thought, he wouldn't go all the way to the next floor down.

More hours minutes passed with no sign of him.  Then I saw the woman who went to check downstairs.  "Yep, he was at storytime", she said, nodding towards the stairs.  I turned and saw Meego working his way up the stairs in that awkward way that 3-year-olds have of navigating stairs. 

I still felt like a sh*tty mom, but it was the best sight in the world.

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt:
"What is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you and why?"


Monday, November 21, 2011

it's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to


Nope.   I don't really want to.

But, that's not to say that it's a day without heartbreak.  Not about my birthday though - that's all good.  I'm a lucky girl.  No, today we lost a family member.  We lost Gil.

Gil was a wonderful fish.  He showed that chivalry was not dead in the way he would let "the girls", his tankmates, get the best scraps of food.  And he always showed his gentle caring towards them when they would be floating upside down and doing their beachball impersonations while awaiting their daily fiber treatments.  He clearly had a big, yet two-chambered heart.

And gil was a looker.  Dark, obviously virile, and in perfect proportion.  And those bulging eyes - SO so deep.

I will miss Gil.  He'd been struggling lately, and I had a feeling his days were numbered.  Even in his last breath - or whatever breathing through Gil's gills was called - he attemtped to spare the family.  I found his body resting gently and hidden in the fronds of a thick plant. 

I distracted the ladies with some flake food and gently netted Gil's body.  We made a procession to the porcelain cemetary and carried out a proper submergence ceremony.   It was beautiful really.

And now I sit alone here with just my thoughts, after the ceremony, after the houseful of people paying respects (not really), and it is in this solemn hour that I bid fond farewell.

Rest in peace, Gil the fancy goldfish. May a flight of angel fish sing thee to thy rest.  Amen.

Cry if you want to.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Silver Liningness

Good silver lining Sunday morning!  Let me count the ways...

I did not go for a bike ride this morning. The temperature was in the 20's and 30 is my cutoff, even with the foot jackets. Instead, I got out my yoga mat. It's harder than it looks, really! And much warmer than a bike ride in 20 degrees.

I've been able to keep up with NaBloPoMo, and I've met a few more bloggers.  It seems like I've been blogging forever, and I've met some great people along the way.  Many have come and gone and/or migrated to facebuuk, and it's always nice to meet others who still like to blog. 

On that note, the Portrait-a-Day challenge has been fun, but I'm burning out after a week.  I enjoy doing portraits, but every day?  For a whole month?  That's a lot of eyes-nose-mouth-chin-hair activity.  I think I'll change it up to Portrait-Every-Once-In-a-While month. 
(Eric Balfour from "Skyline".  Not a great movie...)

But my participation in Movember is still going strong.  Haven't shaved my face all month.

And we can't have all fun and games!  I'm enjoying the variety of tutoring activity I'm doing lately.  And the workload is just about right. 

On those coat tails, I got a message this week from the mom of a girl I recently tutored.  She did it!  She got the score she needed on her college entrance exam and signed with her "dream University" last week!  I just love those messages.


Saturday, November 19, 2011


Happy Illustration Friday Saturday!  This week's prompt is "vanity".

I am NOT one to get a vanity license plate.  I don't even put those "honor student" bumper stickers on the car.  Nope, our cars are truly profoundly unadorned.  (The "honor student" bumper stickers are slapped onto the bedroom door).

Is there, I wonder, a certain personality profile for people who pay the extra fee for vanity plates?  What does a vanity plate say about them?  Do you have one?  What does it say, and why?

Friday, November 18, 2011


I only knew him for a short while, but I've remembered him for years.

I don't particularly remember our first meeting, I just remember that he began keeping me company.  That's the only way I can describe our "relationship".

I worked evenings as a hotel desk clerk, and during slow seasons I typically ran the desk by myself.  We met during the slow season. 

He told me he worked construction, but he didn't seem like what I think of as a typical construction worker - David Hodo, he was not. 

He had longish thick dark hair with a little bit of wave in it.  It was always shiny and clean.  He combed it back, and some of it would fall forward over his forehead.  I found that very attractive.

He had a full beard, but it was kept short - Sean Connery, not ZZTop.

He wore silver wire-framed glasses.

He had a medium to large build and usually wore jeans, boots, a button-down shirt, and a black leather jacket - at a time when I was impressed by leather jackets. 

I worked most weekday evenings, and soon I began to anticipate his visits.  He would first go into the hotel lounge and have a beer before coming out to "keep me company".  He always acknowledged me when he first entered the hotel, before going into the lounge. 

He was rather quiet and soft-spoken and struck me more as a writer or musician than a construction worker.  He wasn't particularly flirtatious - didn't say any silly pick-up lines and didn't give me the impression that he was trying to impress me.  I found all of that very attractive.

I enjoyed our conversations.   He would tell me about his day working construction.  It wasn't a passion for him, and I sensed that someday, he would do work that was.   I was a college student then and sometimes talked about school or the hotel.  It may sound boring, but I enjoyed his easy company. 

I didn't know his actual age, but I was 20 and he was, I'm guessing, at least in his late 20's. 

We never went out - never spent time together other than those  nights I was working the desk.  I vaguely remember him asking me to go out, but I can't remember why we never did.

That bothers me.  To this day, that bothers me.

Yesterday's NaBloPoMo prompt:

"Make a list of everyone you've ever had a crush on in your life, then choose one from the list and describe him or her in great detail"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

street fash-on

"Never compare  your inside with somebody else's outside".  --- Hugh Macleod

I've been feeling a little... well... inadequate this week.

It all started last weekend when we went to that football game.  All those beautiful people out there, looking so well put together.  So youthful and crisp.  Yes, I have vest envy.

We were parking the van, and those parking lot attendants' vests were the bomb!  It made me stop and realize how frumpy my crossing guard vest is.  Here's a shot of it, clearly past its prime.

See how it just lays there?  On whatever happens to be available to lay across? 

It's mesh with a teeny worn-out patch of velcro to hold it shut.  Woe to the wearer should a slight wind come along. 

But then, I told myself, I'm a crossing guard.  These were Parking Lot Attendants.  Parking Lot Attendants at a military installation.  They deserve the primo outerwear.

And all was fine until yesterday.

I was out driving in the next school district over.  You know, the one with the lower test scores and higher drop-out rate than our school district?   I came across a couple of crossing guards, and they had some spanking vests, I gotta say!

It made me curious.  What other alternatives are out there?

Here's a hot little number.  Shine up the go-go boots and do the exposed shoulder thing, and that traffic will be a-stopping!

Or how 'bout the "Yay Team!" look? Nothing says safety like matching rain slickers.  Plus, after the shift is done, go out and do an episode of "Deadliest Catch"!

                                         Just no.

Ah, yes.  Put on some skinny jeans with pumps and carry an umbrella a la Mary Poppins, and those kids will follow you anywhere!

Okay, who calls this a uniform?  It's a cargo strap.  I don't feel so bad now.

Gay pride parades need officials too, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  

Okay, the Graphic Novel look isn't really my style, but I do feel her pain.  

I guess I'll stick with the frump vest. It's not like I really have  a say anyway.

POD:  Waiflike fashion icon, or just the lucky lucky girl that got to take underwear photos with Marky Mark?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I beg your pardon?

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt asks us to write about the moment we leave childhood and enter adulthood.  I don't know that there was a particular "moment" for me.  It was more of a process.  I do remember a moment when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old and realized that I could probably be anywhere in my little hometown and be able to find my way back to my house. 

But adulthood, I guess, is often about a loss of innocence, and I'm reminded of the disturbing revelations coming out of Penn State.  MissKris recently blogged about a personal experience of hers, and I have heard similar accounts from others. 

Several years ago, I wrote about a particular situation I found myself in while collecting donations for a high school band trip.  In short (pun intended?) A "family man" had answered the door, and while his friendly wife made out a check for the band, he proceeded to try to impress me with what was underneath his bathrobe.

I was not all that innocent, though.  I was probably 15 or 16 years old,  so it wasn't particularly traumatic.  I just thought him a pig and felt sorry for his wife and the two kids that were in the next room watching cartoons.  For their sakes, I didn't say anything to Mr. Jackoff.

Another time, at about the same age, I was at my job as a hotel restaurant busgirl.  One of my duties was to run room service. 

I took a hamburger to this man - as I recall, he was a truck driver.   He asked me to stay for $200.  Him, I did feel a little sorry for.  He was still a pig, but I felt a little sorry for him.  How pathetic. 

I hope that entering into adulthood is mainly a process , and not one defining loss-of-innocence or loss-of-protection-and-nurturing moment.  But I know it doesn't always work out that way. 

Yesterday's POD was Marion Jones, in going with the "running" theme.  Let it be known that I have just as many Olympic medals as she does.

Today, I chose Tom Cruise's character from "Risky Business" - the guy somewhere between childhood and adulthood.  I thought his expression is probably similar to the ones I had when dealing with Mr. Band Donation and Mr. Truck Driver. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

gotta cut loose

I was out running this morning.  It was a nice morning for it with temperatures in the upper 30's and just slight breezes. 

When I run outside, I don't wear any headphones or any other particular type of gadgetry.  I do wear a running watch, but I don't stress over what it says.  And what it says is usually what it said the last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, etc. 

No, I guess I'm a pretty lo-tech runner.  Plus, as I've said here before, I like to be aware of my surroundings when I'm running outside, and I think having music blasting in my ears takes away from that. 

As I was heading back toward my house, I went by a high school boy on his way to school.  He was walking and I could see the earbud cords hanging from his head, so I swung way around him since I figured he wouldn't be able to hear my approach.  A few yards later, we were held up at a traffic light. 

As we waited for our walk signal, I was aware of his music.  Soon, he couldn't take it any longer, and began to bounce his head.  We continued to wait for the light. 

Pretty soon, his shoulders joined his head in the dance.  Then his hips, and then finally, his legs and feet.  He knew I was there waiting for the light with him,  but he wasn't going to let that stop him from dancing. 

It's nice to see that there are still kids that walk to school.  Good for him.  Who wants to ride a no-dancing school busy anyway?

"Dance like no one is watching, love like you'll never be hurt,sing like no one is listening,and live like it's heaven on earth."    -- William Purkey (or maybe someone else)

Today's POD (portrait of the day):  someone who maybe should've considered that someone IS watching...  Guess?

Monday, November 14, 2011

if a tree falls on a weekend...

does anyone care?

Yesterday, we noticed that a large tree had fallen over.  It was most likely a casualty of the obnoxious Saturday wind.

This was problematic because it was totally blocking the sidewalk and grass.  Sidewalk users were bound by a residential fence on one side and a busy boulevard on the other.  (Note:  this is "my" crosswalk boulevard with the horrible drivers).

I know that this sidewalk gets a lot of pedestrian traffic from kids walking to and from school.  Now, I'm not usually one to think morbid thoughts, but I did have visions of kids trying to walk around the downed tree by stepping into the crazy-driver boulevard.  I called the city.

"Hello, there's a large fallen tree blocking the sidewalk on crazy-driver boulevard."

"Oh, okay.  Is it blocking the road?"

"Not really, it spills onto the road, but cars can pass"

"Okay, we don't have a crew to clean it up today.  I'll leave a note for tomorrow".

"I see, well I do know that a number of kids will be walking that way to school in the morning, so I was concerned that they will try to walk in the street".

"Oh, okay.  Is the tree blocking the road?"

"Not really, it spills onto the road, but cars can pass"  *deja vu*?

"Okay, I'll leave a note for tomorrow". 

Let me just say now that this isn't a rant about the city not cleaning up the tree in time for school this morning.  It was a Sunday, and I was just happy that a real person answered the phone. 

The point is, that we can take matters into our own hands, so that's what "we" did.  *ahem*.  Magnum took our camp saw to the tree carcass and cut a path for the pedestrians.  It was quite an architectural masterpiece, really.  I should've gotten a picture, but instead all I have is the aftermath of what the city left after they did eventually get to it.

It wasn't a complicated thing to do (easy for me to say) to provide some peace of mind.  And it didn't go unnoticed.  I ran into another mom I know from the neighborhood whose daughter walks with Meego to their bus stop. 

"Your husband's awesome for cutting through that tree.  I called the city, but they wouldn't clear it yesterday."

Yeah, maybe we'll send them a bill.  Or maybe they'll "accidentally" fix the pothole at the end of our driveway?

Now for something totally unrelated... I've learned that,  not only is it NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo, and Movember, it is also portrait-a-day month for the portraitly inclined. 

I confess that, when first hearing of this, I was all "nope, not enough time, plus, what if they suck?"  but then I thought I could at least try because it will be good exercise for my "accepting my vulnerabilities" (life coachee speak right there!)

So I will try to crank a portrait a day.  Just pencil stuff.  Spending no longer than an hour. 

Know who it is?  Got a fave face?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Silver Liningness

Happy Sunday and time for a little silver liningness of the week just past.  First of all, though, yesterday was ridiculously windy around here.  If I believed there was an actual place as hell (which I don't),  I'd say that along with the fires, there's obnoxious wind there too.  BUT, in true silver liningness form... our yard doesn't have as many leaves needing raking anymore :).

And despite the hellacious winds, we went to an Air Force football game yesterday.  It was sunny out and not particularly cold.  Disappointingly, because of the high winds, the fly-overs were cancelled.  And the live falcon demonstration which usually looks like the image on the left was replaced by a substitute live falcon demonstration, featuring the "live falcon" on the right.  It was silly stupid fun, and I for one have a deep appreciation for silly stupid fun.  (Note:  I don't particularly care for watching football or sports in general, I go to these things for the sideshows.).

I got out my yoga mat this week for the first time in a long time.  Oh... I attempted some yoga with it too.  It's been a while.  And I'm reading a book recommended by the get-a-life coach.  Our library had it and it's a pretty good book to ponder, so I'm thankful for both the coach and the library. 

Ms. Coach also turned me onto this channel. It was vaguely familiar, but I'd never watched any of the presentations before, and I've learned that there are several worth watching.  I was watching one last night, thinking myself all in-the-know, when Wolfgang the 11th grader noted that one of his classes watches presentations from this channel quite frequently.   Okay, so I'm as in-the-know as an 11th grader.  I'll take it.

We watched a nice movie too.  Little Big Soldier wasn't really what I expected it to be.  First of all, it's Jackie Chan.  Also, it's in Mandarin Chinese, so there's reading required, which doesn't bother me.  I expected just goofiness and some older-Jackie-Chan martial arts stuff, and there was that, but it's also a very touching story.  And the scenery of ancient China is beautiful.  Go see!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Okay, anybody else have a whiteboard or something similar on their fridge?  As I recall, we ended up with one on our fridge because somebody just HAD to have one for his locker at school, but soon found out it just got in the way, so it ended up on our fridge.

I have to admit that it does come in handy sometimes.  Recall last Thanksgiving when Chaco left me this note.  Since then, many many drawings have seemingly magically appeared on the previously orphaned whiteboard.  Often, we aren't sure of who the artist is, as the drawings are mostly done on the sneak. 

What has somehow evolved is, about every month or so, someone will start a new picture thread, and all subsequent pictures are to rhyme that starter depiction.  So technically (as if we actually have rules) the drawings aren't necessarily "things to do", but the thing on there now looks like a good directive - safety considerations aside.  The thread started with a ghost, and this is what is now on the whiteboard:

I know that some people refer to themselves as list makers.  Others, not so much.  Magnum, in proud Asperger fashion, is a king of list making.  As part of the employee work/health incentives program, I was tasked to make a couple of lists.  One, I'm supposed to list ways to reduce stress in my life, another, list ways I can eat healthier.  The fun thing is, if I do it, I'll actually get paid money.  Yes, I can be a paid journalist.  And I actually even doubt that anyone will read it, but turns out, it doesn't matter! 

So yeah, I'll do it.  It's on my list of things-to-do, along with the above drawing, a note that Chaco needs a haircut and the subaru needs an oil change.

What's on your list of things-to-do?  Do you take time to schedule the fun things too?  Do you even have a list? 

Friday, November 11, 2011


Hello and happy Illustration Friday!  This week's prompt is "silent".  I drew a ninja for it, but I didn't really like him... he looked too mean.

So I pulled this friendly Mongolian horse from my archives.  I drew this a few weeks ago at the request of a friend who actually went to Mongolia, camped in a yurt, and basically did the whole Mongolian nomad experience.  For about a week. 

I could like the silence.  I think.

three wishes

Happy 11/11/11!  I actually have to go to a meeting that starts at 11:00 (really!), but since it's NaBloPoMo, I wanted to get a post in.

Today's prompt is to make 3 wishes, but I'm going to change it up to meet MY needs, rebel that I am. 

It's Veteran's day.  Thank you, Veterans!  And  a little special thanks to these three <--- my change-up.

Dad, brother, hubs...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

thought you saw me wink, no

I just learned that its NaBloPoMo! (National Blog Posting Month)   Even if you too did not know it was NaBloPoMo, aren't you glad to know now?  If just to say it out loud?

NaBloPoMo 2011

Each day, a writing prompt is posted.  I'm going to jump on the bandwagon even though we're 10 days in already.  Today's prompt is:

What is your secret (or not-so-secret) passion?

I would like to reveal a secret passion.  My not-so-secret passions have been gabbed about enough here I think.  I mean, come on, for one, I have jackets for my feet!

One of  my other passions, which might not be that much of a secret, is that I love to people watch.  "People watch" written together like that is a verb, right?  It doesn't sound correct to say that I love to watch people.  That sounds a bit creepy.

So yeah.  Some people go to the mall to shop or "hook up" (teenagers!).  I go to people watch.  Some people like to hit museums and get all cultured.  I usually find the people more interesting than the exhibits.  Restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, boring meetings - all fertile ground!

In that sense, my moonlighting job as a crossing guard is wonderfully indulging.  When I'm not escorting the little people across the street, I'm watching the motorists.  Some are harried, probably late for work.  Some are eating and/or drinking.  Multi-tasking moms on cell phones, burley city employees in fashionable (moreso than mine!) orange vests, sleepy parents driving kids to school, friendly waving strangers, grumpy commuters, rebellious motorcyclists in their biker leather glory,  young dangerous-looking guys, and we can't forget the occassional traffic cop - I watch the watchers too.

And this is why I also enjoy reading blogs so much.  It's just another form of people watching.  Watching from the inside. 

What's your (PG-13) secret passion?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

things I will say

I was just over Here and this entry resonated with me a lot.  It was written from a prompt to "Pour Your Heart Out".

Okay, enough linking...

As I have confessed, I recently began talking with a get-a life coach.  I mean, seriously though.  Who does that??  It was a few weeks ago, and I was feeling restless, like there should be more to "this".  So I started surfing the internet about life coaching - thinking maybe I could find a good forum or a newsletter or something.

Here's the thing.  I consider myself to be pretty happy and content with how my life is going.  On the surface it seems great.  Married forever 21 years to a patient and employed Magnum, 3 healthy kids, the house, the cars, the pets, the hobbies...

So why the restlessness?   All these years, since Chaco was in kindergarten, I've been a busy volunteer mom at schools, at youth sports, all that stuff.  And now I've got time and energy for other things.  But... what things?

And to be honest, I feel taken for granted and resentful sometimes.  And to be honest, I feel like I've lost some of "me" in the last few years. 

First of all, if you just go and naively do a search on "life coaching", you will get about a gajillion links.  Not helpful.  I made my search words more and more and more and more specific, until I whittled the list down to a mere gazillion. 

So I ended up checking out a few of the sites.  Now, I've read a few books before about finding your way, awakening your giant, coloring your parachute, etc...  As I perused around, I think I came to realize that it's tough to life coach your own self.  For me it is anyway.

I clicked a button to sign up for a complementary session.  My coach lives in Buffalo.  We skyped.

And from that one free skyped session, I felt a little better.  Not to sound all new agey and such, but she asks "powerful questions" to align with who we really are and get rid of the stuff that gets in our way.

She described this process as being like driving.  "Therapy is looking in the rear-view mirror.  Counseling is pulling over to ask directions.  Life coaching is focusing on the road ahead.  And sometimes, we have to check the rear view mirror and we might need to pull over and ask directions, but the focus is on moving forward". 

Sounded good to me.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

maybe not best but pretty darn good

Remember I took that polygraph for the po-po a couple of weeks ago?  It was actually more than just getting hooked up to the machine and being asked a bunch of questions.  I was "prepped" ahead of time and Polygraph Man also went through a series of getting-to-know-you questions.  I think that was just part of the volunteer interview process, or it could've been part of he polygraph prep process.  Either way, two questions struck me as intriguing.

"What's the best thing that's ever happened to you?"

"What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you?"

I had trouble coming up with what I thought were good answers.  The BEST/WORST?  Maybe I have trouble with superlatives. 

When he asked these questions, I spent a few seconds in my head, trying to hone in on events that happened quickly and maybe surprisingly, not things that were processes.  Like "that time I won the lottery" (never have) or "getting that cancer diagnosis" (nope).  I ended up just giving pat answers.  Best thing:  each of my kids being born.  Worst thing:  Grandma getting sick and dying.  Nothing particularly extraordinary or horrid.  Next question?

Afterwards, I thought, do people carry in their heads best thing/ worst thing?  I started thinking about a "best day", or close to it.  And I remembered...

It was several years ago.  I was single, in my early twenties, and living in Boulder, CO.  I had a male co-worker that I used to walk with at break times when everyone else was smoking cigarettes or nursing their hangovers (interesting bunch).  I'll call him Jeff because that was his name.

Jeff was an interesting guy.  He had been a photographer in the Vietnam war. He went on reconnaissance (yes, I totally had to look up the spelling) missions and took photos. 

Jeff had a brother who owned a glider = engineless aircraft.  Jeff's brother wanted to glide over this particular mountain peak one morning and have Jeff snap photos.  Wouldn't that be pretty? 

So the date was set for one fall Saturday morning.  Jeff asked if I wanted to join him.  It would require us to get up at an ungodly hour and hike up a mountain in near darkness so as to be at the top by sunrise/glide-over time.

Yeah, sure.  I'll go.

Jeff picked me up at the ungodly hour in the dark.  He said, "Brother's got some problem with the glider.  He's not coming.  Do you still want to go?"

Well, I was already up.  I had put on all the crap I had to put on that hiking up a mountain in the fall in the dark required.  Might as well forge ahead. 

Jeff and I climbed that mountain.  We were at the top by sunrise.  I swear we could see Nebraska from there.  It was like watching the whole world wake  up. 

He took a few photos.  We had nice conversation.  He took a few more photos.  After we'd had enough of that, we hiked back down, went to a greek restaurant and ate enormous omelettes and drank a ridiculous amount of coffee.

Nothing against any of my kids - they still own the 3 top spots - but that was one of my best days.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Silver Liningness

Happy silver liningness Sunday!   And let me just begin with some bicycle love for the beautiful  Bella.  Had an enchanting ride this morning despite the frigid temperatures. I prefer Bella's bulk... er... robustness for when it gets chilly.

Along those same lines, I was wearing some new Pearl Izumi shoe covers as part of my Save-the-Tootsies campaign.

They're great, just slip them on over the shoes like little jackets for feet. I splurged and got me a pair just yesterday.  This morning, the thermometer said 31 degrees, and Bella, Pearl, and I made for an enjoyable threesome.  *ahem*

Okay, enough of that. In other silver liningness news,  Halloween came and went.  I'm actually kind of glad to not be doing the school party circuit anymore.  I did consider some sort of dress-up for my crosswalk clients.  Like maybe a hit and run victim?  Then I thought that could be a bit traumatic and mildly inappropriate for some.  I went as myself. 

My brother Wombat (a.k.a. "Guano") was passing through and treated me to lunch earlier this week.  I hardly ever see him, so it was a true treat. 

Things continue to move forward with the police dept. volunteerage.  When I hadn't heard from them for a few days after the polygraph + urinalysis, I was going over that polygraph in my head.  That fire?  At that party?  It wasn't intentional, I swear!!  Then they called with next steps.  Whew. 

I joined a local writer's group this week.  They do workshops and discussions and conferences and stuff like that.  I thought it would be a good thing for me to do. <---Life coach, remember?   Yep, had another good session with the get-a-life coach

Watched a movie yesterday - Two Hands - but didn't particularly like it.  The silver lining is that there were a couple of scenes that were absolutely hilarious

And, what's not to like about an extra hour?

Friday, November 4, 2011


TGIIF!  Another Illustration Friday, another prompt.  This week it's "stripes".  So I was out working the streets again and trying to think up something.... hmmmm....


Thursday, November 3, 2011

snow day

Okay, mark the calendars.  Yesterday  gets credit for being the first snowday of the school year.  I holed up in the house with the 3 kids as long as I could take it. 

Did I ever mention that Chaco built himself a computer?  For his birthday last year, he asked for some cash to purchase parts for this Frankensteinian computer.  He ordered the various components, assembled them, and now the two of them share a happy existence in what we all lovingly refer to as "The Corner".

My computer (well, technically it's my and Magnum's computer, but come on...) sits just a few feet away from The Corner.  It's on my gigadesk - my happy island drifting about in The Mancave.  I blog here, I paint here, I draw here, I shop here, I'm a girl here.  This is Girl Island in the country of Mancave.

BUT Chaco has some wonderfully deep, highly resonant, obnoxiously beastly, abhorrently foul, impressively balanced speakers in The Corner.  I love them when he streams music through them.  When he plays computer games?  Not so much.  Machine gun fire, explosions, yelling and swearing - all in beautifully clangorous surround sound.

Snow day became blow-stuff-up day.  Even with him sleeping in and the frequent breaks I forced him to take through threats of eviction, the battlefield was taking a toll on me and my sanctuary.  I found solace in hot beverages and a chilly arctic trek with the crazy dog.

Today is quiet again.  It feels almost sad at how quiet it is.

Just kidding.