Tuesday, July 31, 2012


You ever have one of those days where things just go according to plan?  When you wake up feeling fresh and ready and productive?  Your mental clarity is strong, your emotions high yet stable?

You have a to-do list that, even if a mile long, manages to be completed?  Your work is detailed, crisp, and organized?  You're on time for appointments and appointments are on time for you?

Your interactions with others are jovial and sincere?  The other people and things you regularly want or need access to are available and humming?

You have good hair?

Today wasn't one of those.

  • Shoes then socks then feet got drenched.
  • Laundry left on the clothesline became wetter than when it was hung.
  • Printer cartridge dried up.
  • Tutor student was late.
  • Scissors.  Where are the scissors?
  • Package for UPS was forgotten.
  • There's more laundry.
  • There's not much food.

But the hair actually looks pretty good.

Monday, July 30, 2012

breaking up is (not so) hard to do

After all the fun of the weekend, it was back to it today.  Before the summer band break that started a couple of weeks ago, I had been contemplating a split.

I suspected cheating.  And lying.  I became suspicious of a lack of full disclosure on some issues.  Things just didn't add up.  I weighed the pros and cons.  I remember learning that change boils down to a math formula. Simply, change happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change.

The cost of the status quo got too big.  I ended it.

It went well actually.  I gave them the old it's-not-you-it's-me speech. They received it very graciously, probably glad that I didn't spill the beans about the stuff I had on them.   I divorced that tutee family.  Ah, freedom.  Feels good!

I didn't like talking about it much because of privacy issues of the students.  And I didn't want to be whining about it around the kids.  As a result, Magnum was getting earfuls these last few weeks during our old folks walks.

In the end, the decision was easy.  The break-up was easy.  The mom wants to keep in touch, and maybe I will.  Maybe a little.

I'll just say that, despite the positive stories of homeschooled kids successes, there is a dark side to homeschooling.

The end.

Meego in herpetology heaven

In other news, Meego's reptile obsession continues.  I'm almost ready to throw in the towel and just get the darn thing already!  But no... he should wait...  We did check out a fun reptile store today, in the name of research, while running some errands.

A bearded man was playing matchmaker with me and a Bearded Dragon.  He was very good.  But I was able to resist his charms.  The store currently houses several pets that lost their homes in the fire.  Look at this cutie pie!  What a flirt!

But nope.  We managed to leave empty handed.  There's a very good chance we'll be back, though.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

A while back, I was reading ShadowRun300's blog, and in it, she casually mentioned her family's plans to visit Colorado Springs in July. *GASP*  Imagine my delight.  Would I finally meet a blog friend in person?

I commented that I planned on being in Colorado Springs in July too.  In fact, I was there right then.  In my house.

A series of e-mail exchanges followed as her family's plans changed, got finalized, changed, finalized...  Naturally, I was hoping that in there somehow, she and I could arrange for a meetup of sorts.

At one point, she'd asked me about destinations that were favorites among the locals, moreso than the touristy things.  One place that is a happy hangout for many local hikers, bikers, and rock climbers is Red Rock Canyon Open Space.  In fact, for all zero AbbyNormal trivia buffs, the current header photo of the blog - enigmatically titled "Meego's Feet and Some Ducks" - was taken at RRCOS.

The backs of some people in a rock quarry

Eventually, we made plans to get together for a hike there.  I knew that Magnum and Meego would happily join.  I left it participation-optional for Wolfgang and Chaco and was happy to hear the pitter patter of big feet at a relatively early time for them on a Saturday morning.

Just as we pulled into the parking lot, SR texted that they were there and described her vehicle.  I went in search and soon found a familiar looking person appearing as though she were looking for someone looking for her.  YAY!

We gathered the various family members around, made some quick introductions, and then our party of 9 hit the trail.

How nice to meet her husband and two youngest kids!  Her son, much like our kids, is like iron to magnets when it comes to rock formations.  They HAVE to scramble upon them.  Daughter was not immune to the more adventurous routes either.  Not surprising, they're great kids, both striking me as nicely mature for their ages.

Adding to the nature defacement

As we progressed through the area, and the kids roamed around, we grownups were able to visit a bit between shouts of, "GET DOWN FROM THERE", "DON'T GO THAT WAY", "THAT'S TOO HIGH", and "DON'T BREAK ANYTHING, I CAN'T CARRY YOU BACK TO THE VAN"

After about two and a half short hours we were back to the parking lot, enjoying cool refreshments provided by the ShadowRun's.  Beverages in an ice-packed cooler, what a concept!  As we continued to visit, we took in our results:  a few visible scrapes, some possibly mud-ruined clothing and shoes, embedded cactus spines, and no broken bones.  All under a full layer of a sweat-sunscreen-dirt combo.  Success!

I was flattered when SR's son presented a binder that held some pencil portraits he'd drawn and wanted to show me.  They were very good!   They were all of girls he knows - heh - drawn from various angles and expressions.  Once again, I had to remind myself that he's only 15.

My first blog friend meetup!
And with that, our meetup came to a close.  It seemed but a short visit, but it was really nice to have been fit into the family vacation plan.

SR and I chatted a bit about our other mutual blogger friends, and how fun it would be to get a larger group together.

HINT   HINT.  Anyone?

Saturday, July 28, 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "lonely".  Sheesh, how depressing is that??

I really had a hard time coming up with an idea.  Maybe that's a good thing?  In the end I ended up doing these drama masks, with more detail going into the "tragedy" and less on the "comedy".

Drama masks kind of creep me out actually - such extremes.  My thinking was that many people are lonely, but they walk around wearing their happy masks.  We don't know the reality behind the mask...

...or maybe the thought of drawing both masks in detail seemed like too much work.

Either way, MY real face is happy today.  I got to spend real-life time with an awesome blog friend - the famous ShadowRun300!

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 27, 2012

mediocre finale

Today was it.  The Big Day.  The culmination of the hard work of the last two weeks.

Okay, it really wasn't a very big deal at all.  Meego's summer band session came to a close, noted by a concert.

Six years ago, I attended my first such concert at this middle school.  Chaco and Wolfgang had each done their first stint of summer band, and I was pleasantly surprised with the performance.  They sounded really good, better than expected.  The band directors were charistmatic and fun.

I would go on to learn that this school had a pretty good band program with lots of participation.  In Chaco's final year there, one of the band directors was replaced with another.  The previous one was moving to a different school - not far from ours.  His daughter attended that school, so when an opening for a band director came up, he went for it.

It hasn't been the same since.  No biggie for us really, since none of our kids makes a big deal of band.  I remember how Chaco and Wolfgang both talked of how they didn't like the new teacher and didn't enjoy band so much anymore.  She was a bit of a biotch.  Not their words, but my inference.

The difference was notable today.  The concert just wasn't what it used to be.  The quality of music performance has gone down.  Attendance has gone way down.  The band program as a whole has gone down.

There's Meego warming up in the small island of Baritonia, part of the sparsely populated Band of Intermedia.

I'd say that summer intermediate band used to be about 2 - 3 times this size.

But I dutifully sat through it.   There were 4 small bands that played in all.  The intermediate, advanced, beginning jazz, and intermediate jazz.  It was a long hour.  Meego's band did okay.  The jazz bands were SO tiny, they needed to be supplemented with adult helpers.

I watched some others in the audience and didn't see much enthusiasm like there was in the old days.  Many got up and left as soon after their family member's thing was done.

And so ends summer band.  School starts in a couple of weeks, and Meego is still busily prepping for the Land of Reptilia.

It's good to have a next thing to move on to.  You got one?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

that time again

I remember the Olympics when I was a kid.  Watching with the entire family on our black and white TV that we had to actually get up to change the channel or volume on (yes, my kids have heard ALL about that).  We'd sit there and marvel at how fast the athletes could swim and run, how far they could throw and jump, how gracefully they could dive and tumble.

Then us neighbor kids would go outside and mimic what we saw.   We'd wear patches of dirt into the lawns while trying to longjump.  At the pool, we'd do ridiculous versions of the butterfly.

Chaco was born in the middle of the 1994 winter Olympics.  Many a breastfeeding session was spent watching the skating and skiing.

For the 2002 winter Olympics, we lived near Salt Lake City and the ski venues.  We didn't attend any of it in person, though.  Security was tight.  No bags were allowed at any of the events.  Meego was 2 years old at the time.  Anyone who has ever had a 2-year-old knows that they don't go anywhere without a huge bag nearby.

And that's fine.  Over the years, I've lost interest.  It seems more money driven now, and frankly, some of the athletes get on my nerves a bit.

During the 2008 Olympics, it seemed that most every time I turned on the TV, it was beach volleyball time.  I couldn't care less about beach volleyball, and maybe that was the final straw.  I find I just don't really care so much about the Olympics anymore. 

Maybe I'll tune in on occassion, though.  I'll probably watch some track and field, some Marathon perhaps. 

Are you watching?  What are your favorite events?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

out of the shadows

First of all, I want to give a shout out to my latest Celebrity-Crush-Whose-Feelings-Will-Never-Be-Mutual.

Christian Bale came out to visit Aurora yesterday.  How cool is that?

He and his (so lucky) wife showed up unannounced at the two hospitals where victims of the Batman shootings are.  Then they visited and added flowers to the growing memorial outside the theater.  He did it in such a classy way.  Never alerted any press.  In fact, the local police arranged for him to arrive at the hospitals in an ambulance so no one would be the wiser.  

One of the victims posted a photo of himself with Christian Bale on his facebook page, then the word spread  like... well, let's not say "wildfire".

Stuff like that really does make a difference.

Wolfgang, huge Batman fan, was muchly impressed.  I've mentioned that he doesn't yet know what he wants to be when he grows up?  I think now he wants to be Christian Bale.

Onto other things.  I had a day off today.  Meego is doing summer band, so I've taken some days off from the mid-day tutees.  In the meantime, I'm sharing summer band duties with one of the neighbor moms, and it was her turn today.

I did summer cleaning.

Remember the piles o' crap I removed from the kids' barracks just so they could clean?  They were still there.  My Tough Love Mom defenses came down because I couldn't look at them anymore.  I went through them.

Here's the take:

  • "lost" winter gloves
  • enough socks to stuff a 6 foot Nile Monitor Lizard
  • Wolfgang's band shoes from 8th grade
  • missing cell phone charger
  • gym shorts for school P.E. - still in the school gym bag (!!)
  • Two pairs of rollerblades
  • Back-to-School information from 2010

...and various inconsequential items.

Actually, I'm just happy I didn't find any sandwiches.  Either way, we don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff.   The house is tidier, the garbage dumpster is heavier, I feel cleaner.

You just never know who might come visit.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ride, Sally!

I was in my final year of college and was schlepping through the Engineering Center when I walked passed one of my professor's offices.  I noticed some people and an unusual bustle of activity going on in there as I traveled down the hallway.  Then I overheard my professor say, "Hey, you wanna girl in the picture?"

Next, he poked his head into the hallway, "Hey Abby, will you c'mere for a minute?"

Turns out there was some trade magazine there to do an article about my professor and some new equipment he'd successfully acquired for the university through a grant.  Of course, they wanted to include photos of him - a bit of a "celebrity" in the world of manufacturing - and were setting up when I walked passed.

The photo shoot came to include the professor, the equipment, and a girl.  Check out the state-of-the-art technology!  Ignore the 80's hair...

Obscurely famous professor and a girl

Magnum and I still laugh about that episode.  How my prof didn't say,"Hey, you wanna engineering student in the picture?"   Nope, I knew why I'd been chosen. It was a way to say, "Look how trendy we are - robotic stuff and girl students!"  My ethnic look probably didn't hurt either.

Shortly after that, I was out in the working girl world and once again was asked to be a girl in a picture. This time, for a company recruiting brochure.  I went to the designated area that was set up to look like one of our typical cubicles.  I sat at the table with Marvin, pretending to analyze a drawing, while the photographer took pretty pictures.

Marvin was a black guy.

We both knew why we'd been chosen.  It was a way to say, "Look how trendy we are - black and female engineers!"  We were also both relatively young at the time.  I still remember how we were actually joking about that "assignment" while the cameras clicked.

I've never been one to "soapbox" about more girls joining the STEM professions.  While I'm certainly happy for anyone who wants to join in, I don't see it as a gender issue.  Like any other field, it should be chosen because of an inherent interest.  I ended up "retiring" to the mommy track.  Do I regret that decision?  Not one bit.  Do I miss being an employed engineer?  Absolutely.

Yesterday, when I learned of Sally Ride's death, I was a bit sad.  She became the first US woman astronaut at about the same time I graduated high school.  I was also surprised to learn that she'd had pancreatic cancer.  I guess I wasn't the only one.  Despite here noted achievements, she was not in the limelight much.  Her choice apparently.  I'm sure she got tired of being asked so often about her femaleness.

Still, I hope she knows that she inspired many.  Rest In Peace, Sally Ride.

Monday, July 23, 2012

in other news...

the lizard has been found!

And no, this is not Meego the herpetologist's latest acquisition.  This is Dino.

Dino is a (freaking!) 6-foot long Nile Monitor lizard that escaped from his front yard about a week ago.  Yes, he's someone's pet.  I don't know, I guess they were all out having a few beers on the porch or something, and Dino took off.

So the news went out, complete with reverse 911 calls to neighbors - watch out for your pets and small children alerts and such - in case Dino gets hungry.  The owner claimed that Dino is "nice" and would probably just be looking for shelter.  But of course, everyone's thinking, "Won't he get hungry?  Eventually?"

ANYWAY, he was found.  Somebody spotted Dino about two miles away from home, and on the other side of the freeway.    They called the sheriff, and the sheriff, wisely,  called the owner.  Owner and Dino had a touching reunion.  Everybody breathed a sigh of relief.  Dino is fine, just missing a part of his tail.

One of my friends says it's a sign.  A sign that Colorado's luck is taking a turn for the better, on account of Dino's happy reunion.

I think she's grasping at straws, but I'll take it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Another up and down week.  That seems to be the theme this summer in general.

But this week's highlight is that it was Wolfgang's birthday on Friday - yay, happy 17!  I remember reading a book about some aborigines in Australia who thought it strange that we celebrate birthdays, since they just happen without extra effort on our part.  Just keep riding the earth, you'll get a few birthdays!

It was a bittersweet birthday.  He and a few friends had originally planned to go to the midnight showing of Batman here in town on Thursday night.  They all had to work the next morning though, so they wisely decided to sleep through midnight and made plans to see the movie the next day at the local IMAX.

They all still went, despite the cloud over the event.  He and his friends still loved the movie.  They are all big sci-fi/comic book movie fans.  "Dark Knight Rises" is currently Wolfgang's favorite movie, having nudged out the latest Spiderman flick they just saw recently.

He said the theater was full and that there was a large crowd waiting for the next showing when they left.

I'll admit that I was nervous about them going, but I'm glad they did.  Naturally, we all feel so bad for what happened in Aurora.  I can relate to the people and the families of those in the theater.  Mostly kids and young adults, looking forward to seeing a much anticipated movie.  Summer fun stuff.

Wolfgang raced in a 10k yesterday morning, then we went out for a birthday lunch.  Afterwards, we went and bummed around the nearby mall, mainly to soak up their free air conditioning.

I saw it first!

Wolf bought a Batman poster that he plans to do a drawing of.  Have I mentioned how, of the three kids, I probably relate most to Wolfgang?

He runs.  He draws.  He has no idea yet what he wants to be when he grows up.

We also ended up buying the same souvenir shirts from Comic Con.

We just have to be careful not to wear them on the same days.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "carry".  I was thinking about burdens, plus, it's hot outside.  The combination produced a camel.

Camels seem to always have smiles on their faces.  Even when they've had the last straw.  Even when they're  "spitting", which is actually purposely throwing up on you.

Keep smiling.

Friday, July 20, 2012

dark night

I think I can speak for the majority of residents when I say that Colorado is tired of being in the news... not that I'd wish such news items on anyone else.

We woke up this morning to the news of the Batman shootings, and I immediately felt all expletive.  I'm sure that plenty of the people at the midnight showing in Aurora were just some sci-fi/fantasy loving people we most likely rubbed elbows with at Denver Comic Con.  

It's hard to be a mom.  What do we do?  Stop going to movies?  Stop going to midnight openings?  Tell our kids they can't go?  Chaco and Wolfgang both enjoy attending midnight openings, and what's not to enjoy?  


Sad, mad world sometimes.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

it better not try to sell us car insurance

Meego wants a pet.  A reptile.  He's long been interested in reptiles in general - turtle/snake/lizard - and has recenlty narrowed it down to lizard.  Now leaning toward a leopard gecko.

oh.  how.  precious.

Now, don't tell Meego, but this is pretty much a done deal.  I like having pets, but I feel like if we're going to have pets, we should learn about what they entail before we  get a new one.

Last week, when he started going all reptilian, I wanted Meego to shoulder most of the responsibility for reptile acquisition because (1) he should know just what he's asking for, (2)  I wanted to see if this was just a passing interest, and (3) other than summer band, what the heck else "educational" has he got to do right now?  So I told him, "Welp, go do some research".

Geesh, he's turned into the family herpetologist (note:  I wasn't familiar with that term before he informally became one).  He's been homeschooling himself in all things reptile.  It's kind of impressive.  It's kind of driving me nuts.  

Like I said, this is pretty much in the bag.  I definitely see one, if not more, scaly family members in our future.  His enthusiasm is a bit contagious, but I want him to wait.  I told him it would be at least a month before we bring a gecko or anything else home, even though he now knows where every stinking gecko distributor is within a 50 mile radius of our house.

My reasoning?  (a) I had to wait for stuff.  (b) In this world of instant gratification, I think waiting is good. And (c) I had to wait for stuff.

Growing up in a small town, long before the internet, where there weren't that many "real" stores, I often wanted things.  But it was just normal to know that it would be a while before I'd have access to them.  Our family would make trips about once a month to the little bit larger town an hour and a half away.  Finances willing, we would satisfy our consumer wants.  I think waiting for stuff made the stuff more special.

So, he dreams longingly for a cuddly cold-blooded companion.  Because I had to wait for stuff.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

going topless

Ah, nothing like the pitter patter of big men with big feet and heavy tools.

Yes, it's roofing day!  Remember?  That new roof we were hoping for?  That new roof we tried to get while failing at hail dancing?  It seems our insurance company took pity on us and decided we were worthy of a new one.

So today's the day.  I counted 8 strippers on the roof this morning

Strangely enough, China is not very bothered by all of the banging.  I thought she was going to be a pain to live with today.  When I let her out this morning - because she's gotta go out eventually - she was a basket case as expected.  I've realized that it's not the noise that sends her over the edge, it's the mere fact that there are people on our roof.  When she's inside, she can't see them, and it's just another day even though it sounds like we're in a pneumatic nail gun test lab.  Crazy pooch.

I did take her out for her usual beauty walk this morning.  From where we live, we've got a good view of the charred remains of the hillside to the west.  It's kind of a strange sight, the burnt areas look like patches of shadows from clouds, but there are no clouds.  It's just that everything in those spots is now black.  There's a lot of debris removal and smoke damage removal and general activity of that sort going on in those neighborhoods.

I'm not going to complain about needing home improvements.

The roofers are currently taking a lunch break under the tree in the front yard - eating out of styrofoam containers and drinking Gatorade.  It's probably around 100 degrees on our roof.

I'm not going to complain about the heat.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


So it looks like I'm back to running.  I ran three days last week, hopefully to reprogram my cells to remember what running is.  I think it's working.

One thing I like about running is that it's pretty darn basic, right?  One foot in front of the other?  Recall that when I went to the physical therapist about my foot injury, she put the root cause as weakness in the middle of my foot.

Weakness?  B...b....but, I run and stuff!  Whaddyamean, "weakness"?

So, geek that I am, I looked a little further into the situation.  I sent myself to school.  The school known as Google/YouTube school. I studied running and feet and injury in general.  I studied shoes.  I watched super slo-mo videos of Kenyans...

I'm not going to go all tutorial on here, this isn't a running blog.  But I'll do a sort of review.  (No, not a review of THAT product!)

Based on what I learned at google school, I went shopping over the weekend and got new running shoes
new shoo

Old shoo

Note the differences.  On the left we have a meaty, thick-soled, heavy-heeled, stabilizing shoe.  On the right, the lightweight, flexible, low-profile shoe.  This morning, I ran in the latter.

I intended to do the 7-mile loop I'd been using for my reprogramming.  Especially since I had new shoes that made my feet do more of the work, and since I was changing my foot strike, I didn't want to overdo.  But omigosh, they felt so good that when I got to the turnaround point, I just didn't want to turn around.

Mouse Town beckoned to me from beyond!  Recall that Mouse Town is an undeveloped area along a favorite running route.  A happy Preble Jumping Mouse community has been discovered there, and it is now designated as "habitat", thus no development.  There are, however, some beaten down running trails.  I haven't visited Mouse Town since the spring.

And what a lovely time it was in Mouse Town.  The sun just rising, the birds eating bugs, the undisturbed Preble Mice probably making more Preble Mice... and me.

love.  these.  shooz.

Monday, July 16, 2012

first room on the left

Our kids, God bless 'em, all share one big bedroom.  For the most part, it's all they've ever known and when they were younger, they seemed to prefer it. Technically, our home is a 4 BR but who actually uses all of the bedrooms as bed rooms?? 

So they have the large Master bedroom and the design motif is that of contemporary American barracks, from what I've seen of barracks.  And for the most part it works, they have the Man Cave to overflow into.

The problem for ME is that the room gets teenaged-boy-trashed x 3, and when I ask them to clean "the mess", they can all say, "It's not my mess".

Okay, fine.

I went ahead and took the first step for them.  I got all of this stuff off of the communal floor.  I've assured them that my days of buying their trash are over.

So it's helped.  Now they can better see what needs organizing {sheesh}.  Chaco is in there now going at it, Meego and Wolfgang will have their turns.  This has me in anticipation mode.  

See, a few weeks ago, we were packing up for our road trip.  Chaco appeared with a sandwich.  He'd found it in his closet.  

It was in a container since he'd brought it to school but obviously didn't eat it.  At least it wasn't furry and smelly.  Rather, it looked fine, but was the consistency of a cinder block - thank you, dry Colorado climate.  Note that this was about a month after his school year had ended.  

We got back from the road trip and a few days later the fire started.  A few days after that, the fire got downright nasty.  We each packed a bag and set it by the door just in case we needed to leave in a hurry.  Chaco didn't need to pack, though.  His road trip bag was still intact since he'd just shoved it to some corner of the barracks.  I'll admit that came in handy, but... yeah.  Sigh.

Last week, he was going to a LAN party and was packing up a daypack.

Found yet another cinder block sandwich.

You see what I'm up against here??  Note that, not only has he now found 2 long forgotten sandwiches, but no one else had noticed them in the meantime.  This occured even though they assure me that they "clean" the room every Sunday.  I think they are just making dusting and vacuuming noises, opening and closing a few drawers for effect.

When I was growing up, I had my own bedroom.  Yes, it was occassionally trashed and disheveled.  I recall one poor plant that died a slow death.  Is this slob karma coming back to haunt me?

Anyone else have slob karma?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

As parents, I think we're responsible for feeding, clothing, and sheltering our kids.  Maybe there's some clause in there about education too.  I think Magnum and I are meeting our basic liability.

Other than that, we prefer they fend for themselves and EARN their "stuff".  But there is one other item that we feel each kid is "entitled" to.  A bicycle of course.

Now I know that, to some, a bicycle is more or less a "toy", but not here.  A bicycle is an essential piece of transportation.  We will never buy cars for our kids, but we have purchased every bike that has ever called our garage or hallway its home.  

Recently, every one of them upgraded.  Chaco commutes quite a bit on his bicycle and was justified in requesting and getting a new one.  Meego had outgrown his as had Wolfgang.  So Meego got Wolfgang's old but new-to-him bike, and Chaco, Wolfgang, and I went a-shopping.

Such a fun place!
I made the mistake of taking a nice cross bike  for a little test drive.  Well, I needed something to do while they were tire kicking...

I remember reading a post by a bicycle blogger who said that the number of bicycles one needs is defined by :
n = k +1

n = the number of bicycles one needs
k = the number of bicycles one has

Sigh, I am NOT getting a third bicycle!  I don't even have/make  enough time to fully enjoy the two that I have.  

ANYWAY, we made it out of there, and everyone is happy with their new wheels.  This is the LAST bike we're buying Chaco, although I think we said that last time... 

I set about selling the cast offs.  My typical craigslist strategy is to look for similar items and then price mine accordingly,  undercut the competition.  Luckily, bicycles are popular items on craigslist.

Due to my superior marketing abilities (a.k.a. too much undercutting), I had buyers chomping at the bit in no time.  I almost wish I would have priced them a little higher if only to cut down on the number of inquiries, and then having to tell the snoozer losers that the bike they wanted had already sold.  

Either way, I think both bikes went to good homes, and the money I made selling the old ones very nearly offsets what I paid for the new ones (that is SO not the truth).

I'm thankful this week for kids that see the practicality of bicycle commuting.  I'm thankful for friendly bicycle shops.  I'm thankful for buyers of used bicycles. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012


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

Truth is, my interest in doing the artsy stuff has been lost since the fire.  It all seemed a bit pointless.  If not for my desire to not break my Illustration Friday streak (started in January of 2010), I probably wouldn't have submitted anything these last three weeks.

So when I saw the prompt, I was familiarly uninspired.  But I gave it a go, thinking I wanted to do something Hansel-and-Gretel-esque.

Horrifying story isn't it?  A brother and sister abandoned in the woods.  They think they find a happy place, but turns out that they are really meant to be dinner for a witch?

But they're too smart for the cannibalistic witch, and they escape the not-so-happy house.  PLUS, they get treasure, find their way home, lose the mean step-mother, and live happily ever after.

I admit that I enjoyed drawing this, following my trail of ultra-fine Sharpie.

Friday, July 13, 2012

looking ahead

Happy Friday the 13th!  It's a day off for me today, so I'm whooping it up by cleaning house, ironing, and defrosting the chest freezer.

I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks.  There's this family that I tutor for.  They have two kids - one son, one daughter.  The kids have some learning disabilities, but not profound.  Anyway, I've been tutoring them for several months, and it's starting to weigh on me.  I won't go into the boring details, but I've been contemplating wrapping up this assignment for a few weeks.

I mainly stay on for the mom.  She's got a lot of weight on her shoulders with the two kids and a husband who is legally blind.  He does work out of the home, though, and provides for them financially.

Anyway, Meego's got summer band starting next week for two weeks, so I just decided to take them off from "The Family".  My other students' schedules aren't affected.  But I think the family might be sensing my desire to wrap up.  I was working with the son, who is 13, and I was asking him about a test he'd recently done.  I suspected some cheating, but have no proof, and I told him that if there's cheating going on, I would not continue tutoring with him.

Dad was in another room, but I think he may have overheard.  The next day, some of the "dysfunction" I've observed with this family seemed decreased.  It's like they were putting on a bit of a show for me.

So I'm going back and forth on whether to wrap up or stay and just continue to keep an eye on things for now.  In a couple of weeks, I'm going to start tutoring at the library for adult ESL.  It's volunteer work, but the library provides all of the materials and training.   That is also making me think that it's a good time to finish up with the family and move on.

But for now, I'm looking forward to the weekend and then a couple of weeks of lighter schedule.  Kat still doesn't have an official name.  We did however get a snail today.

His name is Patrick.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I have a separate e-mail address for this blog.  As such, the spam filter gets quite a workout, but other than that, I honestly don't get a lot of incoming mail from it.

Today, I got an e-mail that perked me up a bit [comments in bold mine]:

Hi there - I'm emailing you to find out [zzzzZZZZZzzzz] if you'd be interested in reviewing one of our new silicone female toys [Wait.... what???] from  [Ladygasm?  Seriously, that's the name??] on your blog. My idea is this: I can send you a free Ladygasm Cici or comparable toy (you can Google it) [ you bet I did], and in exchange, you'd just write a review giving your honest thoughts about the toy, and of course somewhere in the article, link to our website or Amazon listings of the toys. [Of course!]

If this project goes smoothly [*snicker*], there are probably other ways we could work together as well [Mmmm...Hmmmm]. My goal is to let people know about our new brand while providing you with the opportunity to write interesting content for your site. Also, I could give you a personalized discount code to leave in the review (if you like the toy), so that your readers could enjoy the same toy and also save money.

So, just email me back and we can get started. I'm happy to answer any questions you have.


Uhm... well.   So....

Naturally, my first inclination was to send it straight to the delete pile.  When I googled it, I was referenced to a ton of video reviews that have been relatively recently uploaded, so it looks like this happy e-mailer has been busy "reaching out".  I gotta say, it's probably not a bad marketing ploy.  The country's had some rough economic times.  People don't go out as much...

I mean, it's free... I'm sure I could handle a "review".  And actually, Magnum and my anniversary is coming up shortly.  Year 22.

Is that the year for silicone?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dad's wisdom

When I was a kid, my dad used to pull my teeth.  Soon after one showed the slightest sign of coming loose, he'd take me out back and punch me in the mouth.

Okay, it wasn't quite like that.

Actually, we'd go into the bathroom where he would wrap some floss around the short-timer and wiggle it and wiggle it and wiggle it until it came out.  His reasoning was that my mouth needed to be rid of the old teeth to make proper room for the new teeth, or else the new ones would come in crooked.  I guess there was method to his madness.  My teeth did come in pretty straight, and I avoided the whole social awkwardness that braces sometimes brought.

Eventually, I had kids of my own and made sure that their teeth came in straight too.

NOT!  You kidding?  Gross!

Surprisingly, though, we haven't had many teeth issues.  Yesterday, I was at the dentist with Meego for a checkup.  His teeth look straight enough to me, but apparently he's got some weird jaw curvature going on so that his back teeth hardly touch when he closes his mouth.

Looks like we're in for "Summer Dental Checkup, the Sequel".  "headgear", "appliances" were a couple of the words mentioned.  Braces probably after he loses all of the baby teeth, depending on how well the "headgear" and "appliances" work.  So now we have an appointment with the orthodonti$t in the very po$h office building with rather fancy busine$$ card$.  

Chaco also went in.  His teeth are fine and straight and without issues.

Except for maybe those wisdom teeth.  Yep, those should come out.  Dentist says he's right in the age window where people get their wisdom teeth removed, and that he should probably do it before school starts.  I thought about the stories I've heard of others' experiences of being doped up and getting their wisdom teeth out.

I've kept mine.  Yes, I have a couple of wise old teeth, and they're not going anywhere.  Apparently, I have - in technical dental terms - a "big mouth".

Headgear, appliances, braces, wisdom teeth removal.  I blame their father.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

making up

It was a pleasant and relatively humid 60 degrees under mostly overcast skies.  My biggest decision before I stepped out was choosing among the somewhat heavy, but stable workhorses, the more lightweight but neutral fawns, or the speedy but less supportive gazelles.

I went with the fawns, simply because I like their colors.

I was a bit anxious, wondering how things would go as I walked up the road.  It had been an entire two months since I'd been running.  My last run, which had ended with me hobbling home, was back on May 8th, but who's keeping track?

A couple of familiar dogs seemed a bit startled to see me at first, then jumped into action, saying, "Hey, I wondered where you'd gone!  Welcome back, now GET AWAY FROM MY FENCE!"

Soon  I was off, hopefully looking like I knew what I was doing.  Hmmm, things didn't feel too rusty.  Most importantly, the foot was agreeable.  My next concern was my other running parts that have been collecting dust over the last two months, but they seemed to remember their jobs.

I'd planned to do my 5-mile loop, stopping to walk as needed, but it wasn't all that needed.  Granted, I wasn't moving at breakneck speed, but I guess the bicycling and boxing during the running hiatus had kept the lungs up to snuff anyways.

In the end, I was having so much fun I ended up going for 7 miles.  Six and a half would probably have been better - the last half mile, things started to complain a little.

But not the foot.  It's almost like it had it's own little happy soul (sole?).  There's still a tinge of discomfort, of something not quite right in there, but it's much less now and not made any worse from this morning's reunion.

There's comfort in knowing I can run again.  I'm a bit more ready for the zombie apocalypse now.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Christmas in July

"What are you in the mood for?", he asked.

"Hmmmm... something... a little wild maybe", I responded.

"Wild?  Okaaaaayyy....", he pondered.

"Can we incorporate something cold too?  It's been so hot lately, I'd like something cold", I afterthought.

"Okay, how 'bout this?  You like this?", he offered.

"Oooh, interesting.  Pretty outside the box, doncha think?", I noted, "I think I might like more of this".

Magnum and I were settling down to watch a movie and didn't have any particular titles in mind.  All we had at our disposal was Netflix, and Magnum found this "Christmas story", unlike any Christmas story we'd ever seen.

 It was certainly creepy, with moments of comic relief. I think I liked it, but it's hard for me to say. I mainly wanted something cold to help escape from the oppressive heat, and this does have some nice Finland-in-winter scenery.

 It was so hot in the house, though, that the laptop we were streaming through kept overheating and shutting off. Really, we must have had about 10 "intermissions"! But I think I enjoyed it well enough, as far as escape movies go.

 Curiously, there are no women in this movie.  Usually that's a red flag for me as I suspect it to make things too much from a man's point of view (think Tom Clancy), but that wasn't necessarily the case here. I think there may be a reason there were no women, but I don't know what it is.

Anyway, if you want something different.  Something cold.  Something outside the box.  I suggest you watch "Rare Exports".  If you want a nice Christmas story... Forget it!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

The Waldo Canyon fire is pretty much in our rear view mirrors now.  Fire crews really got a handle on it over the last week, I don't even notice smoke in the air anymore.  I can't imagine what it would be like to return to something like this.
There are many sad stories, but the families in the burnt homes are resilient and know that the community is behind them.  Donations continue to pour in.  Wolfgang and I were adding to a pile outside a store last week when I thanked one of the women running the donation site.  She echoed what most of us are feeling when she said, "Oh, I just want to do SOMETHING".

Also this past week, many area parks and open spaces reopened and Colorado Springs once again looks like this.

And this  [ouch].

So we're pretty much back to the day-to-day and loving that, however boring it can be.  Boring is good sometimes.  

“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on.” 

Saturday, July 7, 2012


When I saw that this week's Illustration Friday prompt was "suspend", I first thought, "Didn't we just have that prompt??"

I specifically remember almost illustrating some fine fine fine suspenders.  Okay, maybe it was the {naked} torso the suspenders were on...

Either way, I never did an illustration of those suspenders, but I was curious enough to check the archives. The prompt I was thinking of was "suspense".  Okay, there is a difference.   I didn't do suspenders this time either.  Are they just tempting me by having such similar prompts???

I'm doubling up this time since the July NaBloPoMo theme is "kids", I did a suspended kid.

Friday, July 6, 2012


I used to live with a crazy lady.  I mean, I'm not sure if she was certifiably crazy, but she was quite the recluse.  Lived alone in a relatively large house but took in a bunch of renters.  I was one of the residents, but it never really felt like "home".

I was young then, so it was an okay life.  At least there were always others around to do stuff with or just sit and talk.  There were boys too.  We were all too young then for me to think of them as men, but we were old enough for me to be interested in them as boys.  There was one sandy-haired boy I liked in particular, and he liked me too.  I thought it might be nice to settle down with him, maybe have a family together, but then I found out he was sleeping with some of the other girls in the house.  Broke my heart.

Maybe that's what made me decide to leave.  Or maybe it was just the lack of privacy.  I'm not a recluse like the crazy lady, but I really need my space and I didn't have it there.

I didn't even really have a plan, it was more like a sixth sense that directed me.  I knew there were good people in the world, and I trusted in the universe to help me find them.  I was still so young.

One day, these people I was staying with took me to a strange place.  I think it was their church.  There was some ritual going on and I started to feel very lightheaded.  The next thing I remember, I woke up in a dark place and I felt like crap - worst hangover of my life.  After a few days, I was well enough to escape that place.  But I was different.  Something was different.

Ever since that experience, I'm not so trusting of others.  I eventually found a nice secluded place to figure out what to do with my life.  There was a woman nearby who would check on me occassionally, but otherwise left me alone. There were boys and men there too, but none of them really interested me in anything other than friendship.  I don't know.  I was different.  Something had changed in me, and I no longer thought about finding a man and settling down.  In fact, I couldn't even remember why I'd ever considered it in the first place.

One day, something was going down.  I thought it was the end of the world.  The sky was gone, everything had turned a sick red-orange, and it was difficult to breathe.  The woman who sometimes brought me food was calling for me, or was it an angel of death in disguise?  Was I dying and going to hell?

Too curious for my own good, I peeked my head out just a little.  A large figure in red grabbed me before I could get away.

Next thing I knew, I was in some sort of transport vehicle.  There were others in there with the red devil.  I was frozen with fear, but I managed to catch a glimpse of the outside world.  I saw fire and mayhem.  Yes, this was definitely hell.  What had I done to deserve this?

I was put in a cell, but it wasn't as bad as I'd expected.  Strangely enough, I began to feel comfort in the presence of the demons.

They took me to their church shortly after that, and I was once again swept up in a dark ritual.  I awoke, remembering nothing but feeling quite impaired.  I was returned to my cell where I drifted off.

I awoke a short while later, still in pain but coherent.  One of the resident evils stroked me and talked to me. I felt like maybe I could trust her.  She said she had something that would help me feel better, and without thinking, I took all that she had to offer.

Immediately, I felt better and was in a happy place.  The next day though, not so much.  She returned with another stash of contraband for me and washed away the pain.

I used to live with a crazy lady.  Now... I think I live in a crack house.


Story of Kat, at the suggestion of ShadowRun300.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


It seems like we were just packing up for Comic Con + Corn 2012.  Granted, things have been literally hazy crazy around here, but now things have happily settled down some, and *poof* I look up and it's July.

I'm slowly getting caught up on things.  Kat, the cat, has been spayed.  Note that I have a name for her.  No, it's not an official family sanctioned name.  That is still in the land of impasse, which I grew tired of, so I just started calling her Kat.  If you spell it with a capitol "K", that makes it a proper name.  So there.

Like others have mentioned, I don't think cats much care what their names are.  So she's Kat to me.

Strange story, however.  I mentioned I took her to the vet's to get the once over.  The vet shaved a patch to look for a spay scar and found none, so we scheduled it.  After she was all prepped, the vet called me and said, "We shaved more off of her, and she does have this strange scar higher up that could be a spay scar, but it's different so we can't be sure.  What should we do?"

I made the executive decision to keep going.  The vet did a small incision - just enough to allow her to dig around.  Alas, no uterus.

Aside from a couple of gerbils and our fish, all of our pets have been strays and we can only guess as to where they came from.  What is Kat's story?  Other than that she has now been spayed twice.

So anyway, new cat with a new scar in a new month. I've signed on for another month of daily blogging for July.  As expected, even though I fell off the wagon in June because we were up to our ears in corn, no one over at BlogHer much cared.

NaBloPoMo July 2012

This month's theme is "kids", something we are assured Kat won't be doing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

it's all tickety boo

Years ago, when I was a working girl, we had a new manager join our department.  He transferred in from our plant "across the pond" in London.  He showed up for his first day of work on the 4th of July and wondered where everyone was.

It's atypically quiet around here.  Fireworks, other than sponsored shows, on the fourth have been illegal in Colorado for years.  But the ban hasn't been aggressively enforced.  We are right across the border from Wyoming where it seems it's All Fireworks All The Time, and there's usually plenty of popping and booming going on in the weeks surrounding the holiday.  Until this year.

For obvious reasons, fireworks are REALLY banned this year.  And even if they weren't, most people are smart enough to know they'd better not shoot any because they could (a) start a fire or (b) have their wise neighbors go all SWAT team on them if they even think about it.

A friend of mine checked to see all that was restricted:

  • charcoal grilling 
  • campfires
  • warming fires 
  • fireworks
  • smoking outdoors
  • blowtorch action. 

Well, I sure am glad they included "blowtorch action" because you never can be sure!

Of course, independence is a good thing and not something that requires fireworks for us to be grateful.  No hard feelings toward the Brits :)

Happy 4th of July to my American friends!  Happy Wednesday to all!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


wake up.  WAKE UP.  GET UP.  GET UP!!

That's how my husband was sultrily awakened by his sultry wife this morning.

Magnum and I get up at the same time each day, so we share the same alarm on the same clock.  I'm in charge of the alarm.  There was a short window of time during our 22+ years together when he was in charge of the alarm, but that resulted in too many mornings like this morning, so I got the job.

Waking up with an alarm is usually not a problem.  I think my internal clock usurped the alarm clock and pulled a coup today by getting me to continually hit the snooze button without even realizing that I was continually hitting the snooze button.

It's safe to say that sleep quality was not the best last week.  We'd go to bed later than usual and breathe smoke all night because it was too hot to imagine leaving the windows closed at night while it was so hot during the day.  And when things went all Armageddon, we tried to look like we were sleeping for a few hours, but I don't think we really were.

We're lucky, though.  I have a few friends who are parents of little kids, and they didn't even bother to go to bed much.  At least we have older kids - one of whom is an adult on paper and is also a night owl.  He was up listening to the scanners while we pretended to sleep.

Now that things have calmed down considerably, real sleep is returning.  And returning and returning and returning until it's been a good hour and more cycle of alarm-snooze-alarm-snooze-alarm-snooze...

I remember a strange dream I was having probably somewhere during that time.  I was graduating from high school except I was the same age I am now.  My fellow graduates and I were at some bar in my hometown waiting for our commencement ceremony to begin.

Things were as they would be now - us not having seen each other for many years and just sitting around the bar catching up with one another, all while wearing caps and gowns and waiting to receive our diplomas.

Do dreams have meanings?  Or are they just the brain flushing itself?  What was I graduating from?  Where were our diplomas?

Maybe I'll graduate tonight, on time.

Monday, July 2, 2012

returning to...


There's just a hint of smoke in the air today.  The fire continues to burn to the northwest, but last I heard it was 45% contained, and immediate threat to structures has been greatly reduced.  People are returning to their properties and roads are opening up again.  Hopefully fire crews and police are getting a bit more rest.

Kids are playing outside again.

Meego and a couple of friends back to solving the world's problems
It's still very hot and dry, as is much of the country.  Wolfgang went for a run this morning.  He hadn't run much in two weeks.  We did a lot of sightseeing and swimming while on vacation, but no running.  And the air quality was so bad last week that sitting around eating pork rinds was healthier than running outside.

The cat remains nameless.  We had a pretty good brainstorming session early on but with nothing resolved.  We took her for a once-over at the vet's to confirm that she is, in fact, a "she".   When we first brought her home, I told the kids how Rock Chef learned how to sex his rabbits from the internet, and we could do the same with the cat.

Word of warning:  don't do a YouTube search on "cat sex"!

Eventually, they found the proper procedure and dubbed her a girl.  The vet confirmed and also determined that she has not been spayed.  Since she's a stray on the chubby side, we were concerned that she might be in the motherly way, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  She's just chubby.

Since she has no proper name, she is in the vet books as "Kitty" which makes for a rather strange name on file since our last name has definite dog connotations, but oh well.   She scheduled to go under the knife tomorrow.

I've been looking for a pet carrier for her, but the whole city is sold out of them.  Hundreds of pets were evacuated last week.  Some people were at work when the alert to evacuate their homes "immediately" hit and couldn't go home to retrieve pets.  Animal control officers actually went into the fire zones and saved them.  I honestly can't say enough about the efforts of so many.

Many pet carriers and kennels were needed and the community responded by donating ones they had or going out and buying up all that were available.

"Kitty" will show up for her spay job in a laundry basket.  And I'm totally fine with that.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

 “The aim is to balance the terror of being alive with the wonder of being alive.”  

This was a week to remember.  I, for one,  learned that sometimes the biggest (literally!) clouds have the biggest silver linings.

I'm thankful for:

  • a roof over my kids' heads
  • clean clothes
  • electricity
  • clean water
  • fresh food
  • cold refrigerators
  • trees
  • rain

among other things.  
But I'm most thankful for people.  Friends (and that includes blog friends!) and family who had sobering realizations of how much we care about each other.  But I'm also very thankful for people I will probably never even meet.  I can't express my gratitude adequately in words.  I'm passing the buck and going with photos this week.

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” 
- Carlos Castaneda