Saturday, March 31, 2012


It's Illustration Friday on Saturday time where this week's prompt is "return".  They're homing pigeons.  Get it??

I'm actually at the library now, playing the part of invigilator.  Maybe the toughest part of invigilating a 3+ hour test is staying awake and relatively alert.  So to help me with that, I thought I'd get my Illustration Friday submission in.  I got out the colored pencils and drew this earlier.

When I saw the word "return", my first thought was of home, thus the homing pigeons.  I was going to draw one in flight, but in going along with the home concept, I instead drew the coop.

Friday, March 30, 2012

it would just be culture shock anyway

Magnum and I were on our old folk's walk the other night and were pondering what we would do with half a billion dollars.  Then we decided we're probably better off without it.

Okay, maybe not "better off", but fine.  With that, we decided not to buy a ticket for tonight's drawing.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that we have played a few times in the past, just for fun.  Good thing it was just for fun too, because we've never won a cent.

So yesterday, Meego and I went for a bike ride and stopped at 7-11 for a Slurpee and no lottery tickets.  This morning I went to the pet store and bought a new bulb for the aquarium and no lottery tickets.   While out getting a, hopefully, solution aquarium bulb, I also got a few groceries and no lottery tickets.  We are about to leave to go for a hike and no lottery tickets.

Hey, while we're out, would you like me to grab no lottery tickets for you too?

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Our fish aquarium.  What is its purpose?  It doesn't feed or clothe or shelter us.  It's not particularly interactive.  It doesn't cook or clean or change the oil.  Perhaps it's just one extravagance amid my minimalism. 

I luxuriate in its humming, bubbling presence.  Its meditative spirit fills the room with a certain calmness. The ritualistic cleanings and arrangings make it a sort of zen garden for me, along with the daily practices of feeding and turning the light on in the mornings and off at bedtime.  I would love to have a bigger one or a more exotically shaped one rather than the 30-gallon rectangular, but it'll do. 

Currently, however, its zen presence is being messed with.  We have an intruder.  The intruder is pond scum.

A few weeks ago, the fluorescent bulb in the hood blew out.  I sought out a replacement and selected one that was specifically categorized for plants and aquariums, and then there was light.

Followed by pond scum.

I noticed my zen garden aquarium becoming cloudy and greenish.  It was hard to see the fish when they went to the back.  Cleaning it only makes it a little less cloudy and greenish for a day or so.  

Just my luck.  I've never been particularly good with plants. Seems like all of the houses we've lived in just didn't have an area that provided the right amount of sun, and my plants have struggled.

And yet here I am, procreating a bumper crop of pond scum. 

So I'm calling on the experts:  fish keepers and/or pot growers.  Should I

(a) leave it and realign my zen values?
(b) go without a light in the hood and just rely on nature?
(c) start up a small pot-growing operation?
(d) a and c?
(e) b and c?

I'm thinking if I choose (c), while it won't cure the problem, I just might not care anymore.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

sanguinary spring

Meego be nimble
Meego be quick
Meego jump over the bush
"OH Sh**!"

Meego get road hash
Meego ooze blood
Meego just play
Don't mind the flood!

First Road Hash of Spring

Meego keep playing
Meego don't clean
Meego go get
The first road hash of spring!

The Shoe

Meego wash off
Meego don't stew
Meego get band-aids
And hand Mom the shoe

*Okay enough with the rhyming!*

Yes, Meego has earned the distinction of first road hash recipient of spring.  Not even 24 hours into the official start of spring break did he acquire this striking design!

He jumped over a bush but didn't, it's true. 
He just kept right on playing, it's true. 
He finally cleaned himself up, it's true.
He ultimately asked if I would clean his shoe. 

I put him in the shower
We turned on the spray
I said, "no" to the shoe
And threw the sock away.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

dead ringer

I was reading over at Anita's a story of a lost ring.  I won't go into details so as to not provide spoilers (but it's a nice story).

I suspect that many - maybe more women than men - can relate to her story.  How many rings have fallen victim to our need for hand lotion?  Or in my case, protection from melanoma.

My wedding band?  It's not really my wedding band.  Well, it is... but not... but is...

One fateful summer day about 11 years ago, my wedding band and I were at the pool with a friend and her kids.  I was in full mom mode then with three relatively young offspring of my own. 

I devotedly slathered young Meego top to bottom with sunscreen.  Prior to doing that, I'd removed my wedding band. 

It hasn't been seen since.  Seems I forgot to put it back on.

Oh, I looked for it.  Later, when I realized what must have happened, I went back and searched.  I searched the lost and found, I searched our joyful little spot in the grass, I searched the cement around the pool, I searched the weeds near the fence.  I searched in vain.  Then I gave up.

We went to a store in the mall and told the salesman that I'd lost it while having a tryst with my lover.  I had since changed my errant ways, and we were celebrating my renewed commitment by purchasing a wedding band anew. 

He still charged full price.

Of course he knew we were kidding.  Right?

At least Magnum believes the pool story.

Monday, March 26, 2012

human display

The day was warm and sunny, and without the irritating wind that's been hanging around. Traffic to and from Denver wasn't an issue, and as far as I know, the stepmominlaw didn't pick any fights.

Zoo success. 

Because it was such a nice day, there were plenty of zoo visitors - lots of little and cute zoo visitors.  How special for a toddler to be inches away from a Komodo dragon's mouth and yet free from the threat of certain death.

Lots of educational opportunities at the zoo too.  For example, there was a zoo employee giving the mountain goat habitat a good cleaning with a fire hose, which gave me some great ideas for my house... if only I could get the other inhabitants to go along.

We really don't do much with the paternal in-laws.  I first met them while in college during a bring-the-girlfriend-to-meet-Dad trip.  They live in California and Magnum and I flew out during a break.  I remember his dad, who seemed like a nice enough man,  picking us up at the airport.  When we got to the house, Magnum and the stepmominlaw proceeded to get into an argument while she made him a sandwich. 

I would soon learn that this was all very normal for them.  She'd probably enjoy a round or two with me, but I think she's learned that I'm not interested, so no fun, and she has (almost) given up on the trash talk. 

I'm not sure why they were in Denver yesterday, but they'd invited us to come up and do the zoo.  It was nice to have the large crowded zoo to detract from a fight or two breaking out.  Probably the most difficult part of the day was getting teenagers up and presentable by a decent hour for a zoo. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Silver Lining Sunday

I'm not here.  Or am I?

I think I'm in Denver hoping to bump into Peyton Manning for some obligatory time with Magnum's dad and stepmom.  We're at the zoo.

I like zoos.  Nice zoos.  Not zoos that put desert foxes in 50 gallon aquariums.  I saw that at a zoo once.  I didn't like that zoo.  Mean zoo.

I was trying to remember the last time we went to a zoo and I'm not sure the date, but I found a photo

At that time, I think all of the kids were still shorter than me.  Now, it's just Meego and he's gaining fast.  At least I'm still taller than the penguins.

So, we're there now.  Through the magic of pre-set blog post scheduling, we're there. 

It's a beautiful warm and sunny spring day.  Magnum's stepmom hasn't picked a fight with anyone.  I'm enjoying myself.  and LOOK!  Over by the big cats!

... it's Peyton Manning!

(okay, so I can pre-schedule a blog post.  The details might yet be a little fuzzy).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Peyton's place

I guess old habits are hard to break.  It didn't feel like Saturday if I didn't play with my art toys.   Plus I needed a graphite fix.  All this painting had the pencils giving me the evil eye.

As anyone who lives in Colorado and many others in other states know, Peyton Manning became a Denver Bronco last week. 

I have a passive mild interest in football, mainly just because other people I know are into it.  I don't really care how the Broncos are doing, but living here, Bronco news is pretty unavoidable if one has any contact with the outside world.

I was shopping with Wolfgang (again!) yesterday.  We were at a local sporting goods store.  They already had racks of Peyton Manning as Bronco football shirts.  Didn't he just sign a couple of days ago?  I wonder what sweat shop went into overtime to get those shirts cranked out.

I do like Peyton Manning, though.  I didn't really care what team he ended up with, but he has made some cute commercials.  Now, he's signed a lucrative contract to be, among other things, a resident of Colorado. 

Think he'll swing by the crosswalk now that I've drawn him?? 

Friday, March 23, 2012


It's a Friday episode of Illustration Friday on Saturday!  This week's prompt is "swamp".

I have been a self-indulgent indulger today.  It's a day off for me and the first day of spring break for the kids.  In like fashion, I slept in, took a leisurely walk with the dog and Magnum (who is also indulging), did some recreational reading, and painted this bullfrog.

If I'm going to have a day in the life of a princess, I may as well have a prince too. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

going through the change

I sold some stuff. 

Remember my recent big buy-out of clutter?  I threw away about half of it.  I donated about half of it.  One tote I kept for myself.  I bought it, it was mine to do with what I wanted.  It was high-end toy train stuff.

We got the first starter set for Wolfgang's 2nd birthday, and the set grew from there.  A few more cars here, some extra track there.  Eventually, fancy things like turntables, roundhouses, moving bridges,  and loading cranes joined in.  I couldn't just put it on the thrift store truck.  No, for that, I preferred an open adoption.

I took out an ad, and a nice grandmotherly type came by to purchase it.  So YAY, I made back some of my bribe money.  All in quarters and dimes.

Magnum came home and wanted to know about all the coins on the dresser. 

"I sold my trains", I told him.  "A grandma paid me all in coins".

"OOooh", he says - he's into metals these days.  "Did you go through it to look for silver quarters?"

"Uh... no", (like I'm really going to go through that pile of quarters to look for silver ones)

"I'll go through it", he says.  "One silver quarter is worth six bucks".


Okay, so I went through it.  I found a bunch!

... of quarters that are worth 25 cents.

What would you put in the extra effort for? Money? Fame? Accolades? {... fill in the (PG-13 optional) blank ...}?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012



included a cold blustery wind to replace our nice spring weather.   A cold blustery wind that buffeted me all during crossing guard morning.  Finally, when I was free to return to the warm indoors, it...

included a butt of a driver who barely missed me as I crossed the street on my way home, who slowed down only after I pointed out the flashing lights as she passed me by.

included me almost wishing she'd  hit me (doing only slight, if any, damage, and keyword being "almost") to serve as a [censored!] wake up call.

included an "aging parents" incident that brought up the helpless feelings.  Again.  And then...

included a guy confronting me in a parking lot over how/where I had parked.


I was wearied by that point.  All this, and it was barely past noon.

The guy was upset and I couldn't believe I was having the conversation.  In the back of my mind, I was wondering if there were candid cameras somewhere.  He didn't seem like a weirdo, and yet he was being ridiculous. 

Eventually, unexpectedly, I managed to show him that he was mistaken.  And, when I should have been pissed off at the whole thing, maybe I was just too tired of it all by that point.  Instead, I offered to help him out.  Maybe he was just havng a crappy day too.

He just got quiet.  He sheepishly apologized.  He actually said, "I'm sorry". 

He said, "I'm sorry". 

To me. 

Turns out, that's all I needed.

The day got better after that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

have you seen these?

Wolfgang and I went shopping over the weekend. His feet, my credit card. He needed yet more footwear for track.

We were at the specialty running store.  Great on product line and customer service, not so great on price.  Thankfully, they give discounts for high school cross country and track athletes.  I almost feel that Wolfgang should have a designated parking space by now.

While he was selecting some flashy spikes, determined to shave more seconds off his mile, I was checking out these funny-looking shoes.  Have you seen these?

not  my  feet
They're HUGE yet surprisingly extremely lightweight.  I had to unwedge one to dislodge it from its display shelf.  Apparently the display shelves were created before these shoes were.

They're like bouncy houses with laces.  The store staff tells me they're building quite a fan base.

I think they were designed for people who run ultra-marathons and such - those 50+ mile  races that go over the river and through the woods and across Grandma's back forty and so on and on. 

As strange as they look, they also look really comfy.  At $170 a pair, they'd better be.  If I was an ultra marathoner, I'd be tempted to try a pair.  I'm not an ultra marathoner. 

Still, though,  imagine the intimidating and imposing figure I would present if I showed up at the start line with some of these Frankensteinian  Hoka's

Monday, March 19, 2012

good karma?

Busy day.  Busy busy day.  I'm not complaining, I like busy, within reason, and today was certainly within reason. 

Still, this afternoon had me rushing out to the crosswalk with stop sign and cheesy vest flailing.  Once in position, I straightened myself up a bit and was immensely pleased to see this:

YES - a police cruiser, lights a-flashing, with a freshly nabbed criminal!

It's actually been a while since I've had any "backup".  Could it be that they somehow felt my recent  Illustration Friday tribute?

Granted, this wasn't a motorcycle cop, but it's still quite early in the season for those guys.  Cruisers it is.

Early in the school year, there was much hype about a new "mobile traffic unit" that the local police were dispatching.  It's a van equipped with radar gun and uber high definition camera equipment, all automatic.  It's very slick.  They just park it in certain speed zones, and if cars speed by, the drivers get very clear and unflattering photos of themselves along with speeding tickets and fines.

My crosswalk was graced with its presence early on.  I felt like how a dog rescued from the pound must feel - suddenly special. 

But, as sometimes happens with pound puppies, I was sent back.

It seems that the new, state-of-the-art, super-high-tech, mother-of-all-traffic-controlling-police-vans van was malfunctioning in my zone.  See, there are these large intimidating power lines that follow the path upon which the crosswalk is situated.  Apparently these power lines interfere with the state-of-the-art, super-high-techness of the van.

So, once again I was all alone.  All alone under the power lines that are probably cooking my insides daily.

But let's just sweep that under the rug for now...

I'm no longer graced with RoboCop presence, so must hold out for occassional visits from the flesh and blood kind.   I got one today, and he wrote lots of tickets.  I swear, it's like fishing in a bucket.

What's next for the drawing board?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Like other parts of the country, we've had some really nice and unseasonably warm weather this week.  I ran in capri tights all week.  CAPRIS!  In the usually frigid early mornings!  Under the Venus - Jupiter conjunction!  Magical.

This was also jury duty week. As inconvenient as it can be, I remember to see it as a privilege. And I do find it interesting. I was almost disappointed when the defendant decided to change her plea to guilty, thus sending us all home. Additionally, jury selection for a major local trial that is estimated to last about 5 months was going on while I was captive. Glad I dodged that one. It's for a suspected child molester, though, so I probably would've been kicked out during questioning for being too biased against.

In entertainment news, we watched a whimsical French movie, "The Girl on the Bridge" (La fille sur le pont).  It was fun and humorous combined with having a couple of absolutely enchanting scenes.

"Welcome"  is another film we recently watched.  In contrast to the playfulness of "The Girl on the Bridge", this one deals with very harsh realities of refugees in France while also presenting the  emotions from a marriage that is ending.  That might sound depressing, but it's also touching and hopeful.  It wouldn't be correct to say that I "enjoyed" it, but I found it to be well done and very moving.  I know a movie is good if it continues to haunt me long after I've seen it, and this one does.

And somehow, we found "The Wraith" which is a terrible movie from the 80's starring Charlie Sheen.  It was so bad, yet SO 80's, we couldn't stop watching!  I don't recommend it, but kind of do, just for the laughs (it's not meant to be a comedy) and nostalgia. 

What are you watching?

Saturday, March 17, 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "shades", so I decided to pay homage to my local motorcycle cops. 

I've mentioned how they sometimes come out and watch my back at the crosswalk.  My friend who volunteers for school district security says I should call them often and tell them how bad the traffic is, but I never do.  I think they've got more important things to do.

Still, they pop by now and then and have quite a lucrative time, and I appreciate that.

Since my last couple of IF submissions have been headless people, I thought I would hone in and do a head shot with this one.  I'm all about the dramatic cropping. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

the separation

I need to share something.  It's nothing that others haven't gone through, but I know that doesn't make it any less sad. 

It all started out wonderfully with a chance meeting that revealed similar interests and compatible personalities.  Soon, the inseparableness was noticable, everything else was eclipsed,  and each day was another happily anticipated one. 

There were long conversations that went late into the night.  There was the sharing of secrets and hurts that had previously gone unspoken.  The chance meeting blossomed into something special as new memories that will last a lifetime took form.  This was the real thing.  Forever.

Time marched on, however, and the relationship stepped out of the forefront.  Things that would have been shared before just weren't seen as important anymore I guess.  The little tokens and gestures stopped and complacency took their place. 

From there it spiraled.  Not only were feelings no longer shared, but things became purposely hidden.   The rift became wider and was accentuated by sneaking around behind each other's backs, snide remarks, and deceitful actions. 

The complete betrayal was practically inevitable.

Now, the relationship is shattered.  I'm not sure if it can be mended.  I'm just taking it one day at a time.  And sometimes I feel like I'm just a spectator on the side of the road...

Reason number 64 why I don't need TV:
  • Fourth-grade girl crosswalk drama.  *ROLLS  EYES*

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the pursuit

"If it wasn't for Art, I wouldn't go to school."

A high school student submitted that as his essay on his standardized college entrance test.  The writing prompt asked him to argue either for sports or arts funding for schools.  That's his essay in its entirety.  All one sentence of it.

I like it. 

He actually received a score of 2 out of 6.  He addressed the topic (more or less), took a position (more or less), and it was legible. 

Some tutor cohorts and I were discussing essays on standardized tests and how to discern between those who just don't have the smarts and those who are "bright non-conformists".

I say I like the essay because, as  a test prep teacher and tutor I've read many essays that have droned on and on in shameful attempts to kiss essay grader butt.  This one-sentence wonder actually showed more passion than many of those. 

I say I like it, but if he were a student of mine, I would have to try to coach him to write what the test makers want him to write.  That's just the way it is if the aim is to get a good score on the test.

I probably wouldn't have him as a student though, because I suspect that he may in fact be a "bright non-conformist".  I've had bright students and I've had non-conformist students, but never bright non-conformist students.  I think that's because bright non-conformists know that they don't need tutors.

Admittedly, much of my waking life is spent conforming or trying to get others to conform.   I didn't really even realize this until I did the life coach thing.   Much of my tutoring is to help people do well on standardized tests. In addition, I'm a freaking crossing guard! 

One of the things my coach and I discussed was "Where is all this artwork coming from?!"  I honestly did not know during my pre-coach ennui.  I guess it was just an outlet for the non-conformist side of my brain - my way of, literally, coloring outside the lines.  I still need the other side though.  I wouldn't be satisfied in submitting a one-sentence essay. 

Sometimes I wonder about Mr. One-Sentence.  Where is he today?

Starving or the next Steve Jobs?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

rolling around

to i:  "Get real!" 

HAHAHahahahahah...  *cough*  sorry.

Happy pi day!  As a certifiable geek, I admit that I am a pi lover. 

In a world where nothing gold can stay, I appreciate the constants.  So I thought we should celebrate. 

Did you know that entire songs and raps and poems have been written about pi?   I thought I should attempt to pen a poem.  I made mine an acrostic poem:

Precious  pi
I really like you

Okay, so maybe I didn't actually celebrate pi day.  But I do like it because it means that it's nearly spring.  And I have been doing some spring cleaning/purging, unloading stuff left and right.  I'm not really a sentimental person when it comes to things.  I'm more of an out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new. 

I guess in celebration of pi day and spring, I did manage to get myself a new hoodie today.  And I'm still struggling to become fluent in Spanish.  What would out-with-the-old be without some in-with-the-new?  Full circle, right?  For pi day?

What are you looking to get rid of?  Or do you hold onto things forever?  What are you looking to acquire?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

peer pressure

I am an 18 years of age or older citizen of the United States residing at least 50% of the time in this county and can read, write, speak, and understand English who does not have sole responsibility for the daily care of a permanantley disabled person living in my house.


And I was randomly selected for jury duty.  How special.

The day could certainly have been worse.  I was a little concerned, though, when it started with me making the courthouse metal detector beep, backing up and taking off my watch and belt, making the metal detector beep again, and then being subjected to the wand.  And I still couldn't get them to kick me out.

Last night, I'd packed my jury duty survival kit - a totebag loaded with some work materials, 400 ASVAB flash cards, and not enough food.  About all that stuff was good for was to weigh me down.  I had very little uninterrupted time even though a bulk of the time was spent waiting.  How does that happen??

I will not bore blog ("blore" - new term?) with the details.  I do, however, have renewed appreciation for Einstein's theory of Relativity.  Time is certainly not the same everywhere.  Courthouse time is right up there with In-an-Airport-During-a-Blizzard time.

Today I

  • met some nice people
  • thought probably too much about the idea of "jury of peers"
  • felt old when it seemed all the lawyers were practically young enough to be my children.
  • prompted a woman to change her plea to "guilty" just by my mere presence in the jury box.
That last one, I'm rather proud of.

But alas, that story will have to wait for another day.  I feel a need to do something productive like walk the dog, and then I must tute. 

Judicially yours,

Monday, March 12, 2012

in the beginning

Approach the track.  Step onto it and feel the surface beneath the racing shoes.  I can't be still.  I unconsciously shift my weight from foot to foot.  I shake my hands and arms out.  Shake them again.  It's taking forever to line up. 

Finally the official takes her position, shouts "on your MARK!" ,*tick* tick* tick* my heart is pounding.  She raises the gunless hand *TICK *TICK *TICK... my heart is ready to jump out of my chest.   *BANG!*

I'm breathing hard even though the race just started, the adrenaline is almost too much.  I'm still so jittery.  Eventually, I'll relax... eventually...

I ran track in high school and starts always made me nervous.  I was a sprinter, so my races were all finished in a minute or less.  I loved the relays though.  I always got the anchor position on our team since (a) starts made me nervous, and (b) I was the fastest of the sprinters. 

My good friend Debbie always ran the start position because (a) she couldn't stand waiting for the baton to get to her, and (b) she was second fastest of the sprinters.

My other good friend Carolyn (of cow-tipping fail fame) always ran second or third position because (a) she was a strong and methodical sprinter, and (b) she was third fastest.

The final position was... was... whomever.  We only had three sprinters on our track team, and there were no 3-legged relays.  Sometimes Sherri the distance runner would jog up and hand me the baton.  Other times it was Anita the big shot-putter or similar. 

This always made for some interesting fun - especially for me because, unless something really strange occurred during the race, it was guaranteed that at least ONE girl would be ahead of me by the time I got the baton.  There was very little pressure on me, and having someone ahead gave me something to chase like the fake bunny at the dog track!

By the halfway mark, it's a comfortable lead, but I haven't settled down yet.  Is it too much speed?  The race is still young.

Bell lap and the lead has grown even more.  It's hardly even a race anymore, yet I'm still a bit of a wreck.

The final sixty yards and my nerves have transformed to a bit of befuddlement.  I feel like I can finally relax.

"Is he just running really fast or is everyone else really slow?", I say to Magnum.

Wolfgang crosses the finish line first, nearly a hundred yards ahead of the next guy. 

His first track meet of the season was on Saturday.  There were two heats for the boys' 1600 meters, and he was assigned to the slower one.  He ended up 5th place overall.

He was happy with his race, but wishes he would have had someone to push him.  Maybe he would have broken 5 minutes.  As for me, I agree that he was in the wrong heat this time, but I don't know if my jitters can take a close race. 

They're actually worse now that I'm a mom spectator!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sivler Liningness Sunday

It's not like I ever said, "When I grow up, I want to be a crossing guard".  In fact, I don't think I'd ever even seen one in the flesh until we moved here.  But, through a series of occupational events, I am indeed a crossing guard.

And I admit that I like and appreciate this little moonlighting job.   The crosswalk is less than 100 yards from my back gate.  I get to be outside and help the neighborhood kids get safely to and from school across an otherwise dangerous road for pedestrians. 

My salary won't get me to Europe anytime soon, but it does happily support our kids' extracurriculars as well as my own artsy, running, and bicycling habits.  It requires no preparation outside of normal working hours, and I can easily work my tutoring students around it.

One afternoon last week, I was just about to wrap things up after my usual throng of school commuters had contentedly headed home.   Something made me stay a few more minutes.  Just a feeling that I should hang around in case of... I don't know.  But I stayed.

A little girl walking by herself approached.  She'd walked past me a few minutes earlier, but didn't cross the street.  She was unfamiliar to me and I sensed that she might be a new kid at school.  I thought I would introduce myself. 

"Hi, I'm Mrs. AbbyNormal, do you need to cross the street?", I asked.

Up until then, she'd appeared pretty sure of herself, but once I spoke to her, her little chin and lower lip started to quiver.

"I can't *sniff* find my *sniff* house", she said.  Tears forming now.

Oh, I felt so sad for her, she was just a third grader.  This wasn't necessarily a first time for this.  I've had kids from the school wander down to my crosswalk when whatever parent/guardian/sibling fails to be where they're supposed to be after school.  Why these kids decide to hoof it down to the crosswalk across the busiest road in the neighborhood, I do not know.  We get those situations cleared up easily enough.

This was the first time, however, that I've dealt with a new kid in this situation.  She had wandered lost through the neighborhood for a while, then thankfully came back to me.  She and I walked back to the school.  Turns out she had gone south when she was supposed to go north.  Mom would be waiting for her at the north crosswalk.

As we walked, I called the office and they told me that Mom and some of the school staff were there looking for her daughter.  The little girl, Maddy, and I made some light conversation.  I commended her for coming to me and for having memorized both her parents' phone numbers (even though neither of them answered!). 

I asked where she'd moved from.  Do they have snow there?  Does she have brothers or sisters?  Who is her new teacher?  She seemed to relax a bit, but once we reached the school and Mom came out the front door, it was an understandably tearful reunion. 

"Okay, we're going to practice walking some more!", Mom assured her. 

So this week's silver lining post is for my new friend, Maddy.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "yield", so I thought I'd I would depict yielding to temptation....

y'know... the apple?

Friday, March 9, 2012


I don't feel like I've been anywhere.  That didn't used to bother me much, but I think I'm growing out of that phase.

When I was in college, I had a roommate for one year that was an exchange student from France.  Isabelle was so much fun!  What I liked about her was her sense of adventure.  She just showed up with hardly anything more than the clothes on her back, and she made friends easily and soon had a place to live (my apartment) and the bare necessities.

I loved to listen to her speak.  Even though I didn't understand a lick of French (still don't, really).  Such a pretty langue.  Next to it, English to me sounds flat and boring.  She could be talking about the weather or cleaning the bathroom, and yet be so emotive.  Even when she spoke English with her French accent, English sounded so much better.

With Isabelle at a rodeo.  I have no idea where she got that hat.

She was only here for a year and wanted to take full advantage.  She wanted to do "Amareekan theengz!"  We'd go bowling, we'd eat nachos.  And it wasn't just with me.  I was an overly scheduled engineering student with a part-time job.  She always had something fun going on with somebody.

And the boys she left in her wake, oh, those poor heartbroken boys... 

Magnum and I have been watching more foreign movies lately, and I find that the more I watch, the less I am interested in Hollywood movies.  I'm sure there are some really bad foreign films, but we've come across a few really good ones, and they're giving me the travel bug.  I want to go to Europe - France, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Greece, ... 

Magnum likes to travel.  He likes Europe too.  When he was in the army, he was stationed in Italy and got to play around there a while.  My "worldly" travels consist of a Mexican border town and the Canadian side of Niagra Falls.  *SIGH*

Maybe we should formulate a plan to go to France.  I have no idea what has become of Isabelle.  I like to think that she is happy.  She was studying to be a teacher, an English teacher.  What a hoot it would be to find her after all these years.

Isabelle, c'est moi!  It's me!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

kindergarten consolation

It was a bittersweet time for me when Meego started kindergarten.  I still remember his first day as he wore a backpack that was nearly as big as he was.  He was excited, though, and I was excited for him, even though I knew I would miss having him as my constant compagnon.  I had spent the previous 11 years with at least one, and usually more, kids home with me during those weekdays.  It was like "Empty Nest Lite".

At least it was an easy transition.  He only went to school in the afternoons, so we had our mornings together.  That first afternoon, I took him to his classroom and all us kindergarten moms hung around as the teacher read a story.  There were tears - some downright wailing and bawling in fact.  Some of the kids were crying too... 

Not Meego.  Finally, it was his turn to be a school kid, rather than a volunteer mom tag-along.  Shortly after the start of that school year, I thought that he and I should go out and mark this life transition.  One morning, the two of us headed out for some quality time.

To the bike shop.

I mean, right?  What better way to celebrate/console myself than to buy a new bicycle?  He had a new teacher, new friends, new school stuff.  What about my needs?!?

The bicycle I had at the time was like the minivan of bicycles.  It was sturdy (heavy) and had a child's seat for Meego attached.  He was moving on, I should too.  We went to the bike shop and that's when I met Bella. 

Just as I had mixed emotions about Meego starting school, I had mixed emotions about making such a purchase for myself.  At that time, I wasn't bringing in any income, and I had trouble buying things for myself.  I justified Bella in knowing that riding her would save on gas expense.  I'm not necessarily a recreational rider.  I like to use my bicycles for "getting stuff done". 

That was over six years ago now, and we've gotten a s***load of stuff done!  What a great bicycle - goes most anywhere I want her to take me, all the while looking good. 

Last week I took her in for her annual spa treatment, and I just picked her up today.  All shiny and cleansed and rejuvenated - ready for action.  See how perdy?

And yes, a few years ago, I added the speedy Tessa the roadbike as further consolation or whatever.  But Bella is a milestone marker for me.

Ma belle bicyclette

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I yam what I yam

As March rolls in, I realize that I've managed to keep up this blogging-every day for three and a half months.  I did go ahead and "officially" sign up over at BlogHer for another month of reading and writing - it's not just writing everyday, it's reading others' blogs too.  But to me, the two go hand in hand.   I don't see me doing one without the other.   

NaBloPoMo March 2012

This month's theme is "whether" and asks us to choose between two given alternatives.  Today's prompt is:
 "Would you rather have more blog readers or more blog comments?"

I don't  have a ready answer.

When I started blogging, what appealed to me was the idea of having a "place" that was mine.   Just mine.  This was back in the days when a solitary trip to the bathroom was a real treat.  To my surprise and delight,  I got some readers AND some comments.  But even without them, I think I would still blog, even though nobody cares to accompany me to the bathroom anymore.

Plus, what makes blogging different and more fun than private journaling to me, is the idea that someone might read it. 

I remember a blog friend from days gone by who is now a f*book casualty.  She would get very offended if people read but didn't comment, to the point where she would often admonish such activity in her posts.  I didn't share that view.  My blog doesn't come with rules for readers.   It's not because I'm indifferent, but the opposite.  I'm happy that anyone stops by, I'm not about to place limits.

I notice, too, that the blogs I prefer to read (you know who you are!) are those that don't obsess over increasing traffic and collecting followers.  Or, if they do, they're pretty good at hiding it.

I think trying to appeal to the masses would take the enjoyment out of blogging.  It's like when I decide to make a painting or drawing, I just do what I'm in the mood for.  If I only created stuff that would look good next to the couch, that wouldn't be as fun.  Take me or leave me, this blog is often just a ramble.  No coupons, no tent sales. 

That said, the prompt got me thinking, and I did a check on my traffic stats for the past month.  Here are the top 5 searches that landed people here:

"Parkour girl" 
"School bus bike" 
"Compression tights women" 
"Fat people artist" 

Hmmm.... how very Shakespearean.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

wake up!!

That's what I wanted to shout out to all the resolution runners that I've been missing for the last month or so - not expecting to see again, until maybe next January.  This was the kind of morning to encourage an addiction!

I got up to go for a run  this morning and it was a balmy 40 degrees at 5am.  I had to stop and think.  I couldn't remember what to wear for 40 degrees, a good 15 to 20 degrees warmer to what I've become accustomed to.  Turns out, I could have gone with one less layer, but a westerly breeze kept me alive.

So it was a very enjoyable morning out, getting home just before sunrise.  Just a couple of weeks ago, when I returned home from a morning bender, my hands were too frozen to operate the thumblum of the door lock.  Luckily, they made for very effective stumps for banging on the door until Wolfgang opened it for me.  My hands eventually thawed, and I got to learn a new word - "thumblum".

No frozen stumps this morning, though.  In addition, I was wearing a new pair of running shoes for their first time out of the box.  They felt wondeful, very comfy speedy.   Two toes up.

So here's a pic of the freshly deflowered shoes and  what is left of my purge purchase - a tower of totes!  The rest of the stuff I bribed bought from the family of hoarders is in the trash dumpster where it rightfully belongs. 

The totes will be picked up by the thrift store truck later in the week, to someday become some other mom's pain.

Sunshine, new shoes, a tower o' crap.   It's gonna be a great day!

Monday, March 5, 2012

let's make a deal

In my past life, as a manufacturing engineer, my job duties included participation in contract negotiations with suppliers.  It was my job to know where every penny of every part's cost came from.  To this day, I look at "things" and sometimes mentally rack up an estimated cost to make them.  The high price of eyeglass frames, for instance, baffles me somewhat.  Manufacturing cost and market value are certainly NOT the same thing.

Supplier negotiations weren't my favorite part of the job, but they were bearable.  If nothing else, they prepared me for parenthood.  Geesh, it seems like every freaking day includes some wheeling and dealing where money is not the only medium of commerce!  I've been known to actually say, "Negotiate with me!  And do it with out whining (dammit)!"

In those old professional days, the concern was to "not leave anything on the table" once the contract was signed.  And that's where I am now. 

I'm tired of all the stuff on the table... and the floors, and the shelves, and the closets, and the etc.

There are totes and boxes and hodge podges of stuff that our kids haven't used in years or at least months.  It's occurred to me that the main function of these piles is to provide a barrier to me, as I'm the only one that moves them around or even seems to notice their existence.

I want them out and I'm willing to pay.  It's come to that.  Yes, I'm willing to pay hard earned cash for the privilege of throwing stuff away.

I have done similar with favorable results.  I've paid them a dollar a pound for anything they purged (within reason).  This time, I've just gathered up the disagreeable materials and have an offer on the hopefully soon-to-be cleared table. 

And don't tell them, but I'm willing to go higher.  Notably higher.

In my days as a cost engineer, I got to negotiate contracts worth millions of dollars.  This particular deal is worth much more than that, though.  Namely, my sanity!

Update:  They got me for twice my original offer.  Still a total bargain!

Saturday, March 3, 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "intention".

What is any artist's intention?  To create something nice or to have fun trying? 

Friday, March 2, 2012

a matter of principal

My crossing guard boss is the assistant principal at the school.  She's new this year, and I've only ever met her once.  It was early in the school year, and I got an e-mail from her.

"We need to get together next week to go over your goals.  What times do you have available?"

I cheerfully replied, "My afternoons are free, let me know what works best for you."

She responded flatly, "Let's meet Friday morning at 8:30."

Uhm.... oooooKay.

Now, I was fully aware that this was just something she needed to cross off her to-do list.  My goals as a crossing guard, although they take up two pages of text, boil down to, "No one dies or gets maimed in or near the crosswalk during my watch". 

So I arranged to be available to meet with her NOT in the afternoon.  If nothing else, it would be nice to meet the new assistant principal.  I guess that feeling was not mutual.

I arrived promptly and was told I would need to wait.  So I sat in a chair in the office - not the one where the misbehaving kids sit, but the one where the kids who have vomitted and need to go home sit.

Eventually, she showed up.  I rose, said smilingly, "Hi Jen, nice to meet you!".

"Hi.  Come on back", she said without breaking stride towards her office.

Uhm.... oooooKay.

I don't remember much of what else transpired.  There was some clicking of a mouse on her part, some printing of documentation.  I was free to go.  I left with the feeling that she didn't like me, yet she had never met me.  Did I have some reputation that peceded me? 

I mentioned this meeting to a couple of friends who still volunteer at the school, and they assured me, that it wasn't me, it was her.  "She's always like that".

"OH, good!  I mean...  Really?"

A few days ago, I received a summons for jury duty.  Oh joy.  I went to the school staff website and did what I needed to do for jury duty absence.  Still, I thought I should touch base with Jen, to make sure someone covered for me at the crosswalk.  I didn't expect to get any reply.  Most likely, June will cover for me, and one of the substitute crossing guards at the school will cover for June. 

Since I see June each day, except when she goes on vacation without telling me and causes me to lose sleep over her "disappearance", I would just confirm it all with her. 

Lo and behold, the very next morning, I had a reply from Jen.  Not only did she acknowledge me with a "thank you", but she also included a "so much!" for letting her know. 

I'm wondering, maybe she's just one of those people that is better at communicating via written word rather than in person.  Which do you prefer?  Face-to-face or text/e-mail?

Or maybe there's just something suspicious afoot.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I was tutoring earlier today.   It was a good session.  Win-win all around I think.  I don't want to go into details, but you can probably read between the lines...

Sometimes, parents who homeschool hire tutors for some supplementary help.  I THINK  that's often a good thing (1) because it adds to the client base, and (2) it gives the kids exposure to a teaching style other than their parents'.  

It also gives THE PARENTS a bit of a break and/or helps in subject areas that they aren't comfortable teaching. 

I was at the home of such a family today.  My student and I WERE at the kitchen table, HAVING  a grand old time with fractions.  Theirs is a nice family.  The MARITAL bond seems strong between the mom and dad, and the kids are well-behaved and easy going. 

It gave me a sense of purpose to help my student understand the RELATIONS between equivalent fractions WHILE knowing that our session also provided a little breather for Mom and Dad.  I don't mind going to students' homes, and by now, we've got a nice routine going.  Today WAS much like any other Thursday AT THEIR HOUSE

I usually chat a bit with one or both of the parents, but I didn't see them much TODAY.