Friday, August 31, 2012

working the pole

Things around here are  hot  HOT  HOT, and I've been feeling very exposed lately.  I for one am happy to put August to bed already.  Really, it seems like this last half of the month has been hotter than it should.  Once school starts up again, I'm ready to be in fall mode.

Mighty morning shade pole

I was telling Magnum last night that I would love to have some sort of crossing guard shelter.  I'm not picky.  A decent duck blind would do for those moments between walking back and forth across the hot pavement.  The afternoon shift lasts for a good nearly 20 minutes!

In the meantime, I just do the best with what I've got lest I start licking myself like a kangaroo.  And what I've got is a pole.

Better than nothing I suppose.

While early September isn't necessarily that much different from late August, it just sounds better.  Go ahead, say it:  Sep*TEM*berrrrrrr.  It just sounds much cooler than hot AUGH!*ust.  I welcome the end of August and the start of September.

I've signed up for another month of daily blogging.  September's theme is "eye" and looks like the Blogher people are putting together some introspective prompts.  As they say, "We're going to be exploring eyes as the window to the soul, think about how we build memories and access them later, and delve into our Wordsworthian "inward eye."'

NaBloPoMo September 2012

Good-bye August.  We had some fun times, yes we did, with your hot, uninhibited nature.  But we both knew this wasn't meant to be a long-term relationship.  So a toast to September:  here's mud in your eye!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

day 1

Last week, I mentioned how one of Chaco's dorm roommates has Asperger's and also reminded the blog that husband Magnum has Asperger's.

There are a lot of blogs out there.  There are parenting blogs, art blogs, running blogs, fish keeping blogs, knitting blogs, snake keeping blogs, bicycling blogs, teaching blogs,  Asperger-wife blogs... Mine is none of these, but all of these.

Except for knitting.  Did you see it?  I don't knit.

Lotta Joy commented on that recent Asperger post, "I wish you would give more details of the differences you and your husband adapted to after getting married."

 Okay!  I haven't been Asperger-wife blog for a while.

But firstly, let's put on the "trousers of time" (a term Rock Chef used today that I found cute, but it was better when he said it), and go back to the fateful day when I met my Asperger-wife-blog material.

It was January of 1988.  The first class of the first day of the winter semester at the university Magnum and I attended.  I walked into the classroom and sat in a suitable location.  The professor had yet to arrive so I did what seemed the natural thing to do.  I started talking to the person next to me.

I don't remember what I said, just something chitty chatty about classes starting up again.  But this guy I said it to seemed somewhat startled.  Like, why was I talking to him?  Yet, at the same time, he seemed pleased that I was.

Magnum, about the time of
his chit chat victimization

He was wholly focused on my every word, my every chitty chatty, just-killing-time word.  Then he said something in response like, "yeah".  Out of the blue, he then added, "My name is Magnum", which at the time took me a bit by surprise.

Think about it.  How many chitty chatty conversations have you had with people you didn't really know?  In a dentist's waiting area?  Standing in line somewhere?  Sitting and waiting for a class to start?  For me, it's usually been deeper into the conversation before names are swapped, if at all.

"Hmm.  I'm Abby.  Nicetameetcha", I replied.

And we were off.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

to be Abby

I was over at Mama Kat's.  For the unfamiliars, Mama Kat's is a fun site with loads of fun stuff for us  bloggers to use up otherwise productive time hone our blogging skillz.  Each week, she hosts a writer's workshop with a list of prompts to choose from and then link up.

Mama’s Losin’ It

I discovered it several weeks ago during a bored blog-surfing episode, but never linked up.  However,  this week, one of her prompts spoke to me.  Mama Kat asks:

"If you could change career paths now and be anything you wanted to be…what would you be and why?"

This kind of struck me as the perennial "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  prompt we were constantly given as elementary school kids.  Every... stinking... year.  But now, we ARE supposedly grown up, so instead of looking ahead, we are asked to look back.

Okay, so for writing prompt sake, let's ignore that I'm a mom.  Also, let's look back to my original answers.

In grades K-2, my answer was always "artist", and then I would draw the required accompanying self portrait of myself standing in front of an easel, painting some masterpiece while wearing a smock and beret.  Because that's what artists wear and do.

Somewhere around 4th grade (because I canNOT remember ANYthing about 3rd grade, remember?), I switched it over to the highly specific "scientist", and then I would draw the required accompanying self portrait of myself working in a lab with bubbling test tubes while wearing a smock.

CLEARLY, I wanted to grow up to wear a smock.

The bubbling test-tubes image stayed in my mind for the most part.  When time came for college, I realized I hadn't put much thought into just what sort of job entails smocks and bubbling test tubes, so I became an engineer.

Along my journey to becoming a manufacturing engineer, I got to wear the occassional smock.  In the occassional lab.  I don't recall many bubbling test tubes, but there was a fair amount of grimy beakers which, it turns out, were much more interesting.  

And truth is, I found that career path pretty fulfilling until I got on the mommy track.  But (finally, I shall answer the question) the path I would follow if I had it all to do again is to be an...


No really, I mean Abby from the TV show NCIS.

Now, I don't even watch the show.  Frankly, I find TV crime dramas rather ho-hum, and Mark Harmon's haircut bothers me.  But I really love the Abby character and I want her job.  And no, I did not steal my blog name from her.  If anything, she stole from me.

I even love her goth fashion as it works for her, and I would totally also wear it in MY lab.  Under my SMOCK.  But, to be honest, I would lose the bangs...

What's your dream job??

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

an update

I was on my fa(ebook page yesterday, just checking the usual goings on, in case I missed anything the last few days.  I don't really use fb much, but I keep my account so I can *monitor* the kids'.  Chaco got bored with it quite a while ago and deleted his, Meego has never had an account, Wolfgang's is even less active than mine.  

So, not much monitoring to do, but I keep my account for the usual:  certain news feeds, interesting links, long lost friends, occasionally surprising status updates.  I came across one such update yesterday.

"It took me a long time to decide to share this, but...", it began.  I had to slow down to make sure I was reading what I was reading.  

It went on to share the breast cancer diagnosis, the full mastectomy on Friday, the "hopefully caught early enough".  

This from someone I grew up with.  I remember going through elementary school, onto middle school, then high school.  We were both active in band and sports.  We lived in the same neighborhood.  In fact, I  remember the message sent when we first connected on fb:

"Hey, it's great to find the smartest and prettiest girl from the neighborhood!"

Yeah, flattery will get you everywhere.  I've mentioned here before about how I was pretty much the ONLY  girl in the neighborhood.  But that's Jim.

Yes, Jim's a guy.  

His status went on to say , "I am the 1%. The less than 1%. To get breast cancer.... So women and men get checked, be preventative..."

We go around usually thinking of breast cancer as a women's issue, that it's a "sisterhood" thing.  

Well, let's not forget our brothers.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chinese wisdom

On the wall next to my gigadesk, I keep one of those dry-erase calendar boards.  I use it strictly for displaying my Tutorville appointments so others in the household can see the current schedule, so I can see what's ahead, so others can check it if I'm not here and they're wondering on my whereabouts.

I was answering e-mails and filling the calendar in for September this morning.  It was bringing me down, so I stopped to take China out for her beauty walk.

China:  What's your problem?

Me:  I think I've overscheduled myself.
China:  Stupid

Me:  I know.  I keep saying, "Just say No!"
China:  Well...?

Me:  I've got this mom who sounds pretty high-maintenance.  I haven't agreed to any tutoring, but she seems to think that I have.
China:  I've told you before, you've got to be real clear with these people, in a nice way, but clear.

Me:  I know, but she just asked me some questions about her daughter and I gave her some answers.  SHE never asked about MY availability.  I was just answering her questions!
China:  Okay then, you've not committed to anything.

Me:  Right.  Still, I wish I would've answered her e-mail a little differently.
China:  Just e-mail her again after the walk.  Be very clear.

Me:  Yeah.  Or maybe I can fit her in.
China:  Oh come on already.  You'll burn out and your tutoring will suck.  Remember what's-her-face?  Back at that other place you tutored?

Me:  Oh yeah, she had a real unique name... what was it...?
China:  Stop changing the subject.  You remember how she crashed and burned?

Me:  Right.  I'm going to e-mail that mom back.  Tell her I'm full up.
China:  Yeah you are.  And what about Marcie?

Me:  What about Marcie?
China:  Have you called her? You were going to call her for a girly get together after school started.

Me:  Haven't called her.  I wrote it on my list though
China:  Lame.

Me:  Gawd, you're so right.
China:  And you'd better not be considering letting go of that crossing guard job.

China:  Darn right.

Me:  You're so wise.
China:  I know.  Just say "No".  Except when it comes to my bathroom habits - that's your responsibility.  I'm just a dog.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

This was a good week.  Things have settled down somewhat, and I was able to get in some free time / me time.  I cleaned.  It was good.  It's not over.  It's never over.

On the homefront, things have settled nicely back into a school-time routine.  Pets are growing, as I mentioned earlier that King Reese has undergone his first shedding since we got him.  It's a sign of good health, so that was nice to see.

We've also determined that Kat No-Name is also still growing.  She's not just chubby, but we've noticed she's gotten bigger all over.  She's also not as skittish as she was at first.  She used to mainly just hang out in the lower floor as that's where we put her when we first brought her home.  For one, her comfort food is there.  But lately she's been hanging around with the masses and has begun sleeping around, spending her nights with various family members.

Work in Tutorville is nicely steadily busy.  I am needing to turn students away since as soon as I get an opening in my schedule, it's quickly filled.

This morning, I had a beautiful bike ride with the lovely Tessa.  There was no wind to speak of, and the temperature stayed around 60F.  I snapped a pic of the gas station I don't require backdropped against the mountains, just before the fun downhill plunge toward Mouse Town.

view from the gutter

And speaking of bicycling, we all went to see Premium Rush.  Magnum and I decided to go, and Wolfgang and Meego tagged along.  As expected it was light on plot and character development, yet heavy on action and adrenaline.  Joseph Gordon- ("JoGo" to me) Levitt is yet another of my Cougar Crushes and I wasn't disappointed.  Fun movie!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Aaah, I needed that.  Seems like I haven't done any artplay for a long time, and my time away from it has mostly been spent hanging out in my left brain.

I dug myself out a little bit today for Illustration Friday where this week's prompt is "Tall".  I chose to do this Japanese castle rising above the trees.  Even though it's a bit "geometric" for a foray outside of the left brain, I made myself do it with no help from a straight edge.  It does look a bit unstable in places - as well it should.

A little instability is a good thing from time to time.

Friday, August 24, 2012

let's ride!

I just know her as "Bike Lady".  I dubbed her that myself.  She's a bicycle commuter that goes through the crosswalk nearly every morning.  Rain, shine, snow, ice, freezing cold, she's there.

She has three bikes that I know of.  Most days, it's the lightweight commuter, but when there's snow and/or ice, she has a beefier ride complete with studded tires.  There's also a middleweight bike, but I don't recall seeing that one in a while.

We've mostly just ever said "hello" to each other.  Usually, she just rides on up, pushes the button to cross, and she's off.  If her timing's good, she catches the light while I'm already crossing some kids.  If there's a group of kids coming, she's always courteous to wait for them so we don't stop traffic twice.

I'm curious as to how far her commute is.  I assume she's going to a job.  I'd guess that she's around 30 years old.  Her dedication, even in the nastiest kind of weather, is impressive.

I similarly enjoy riding my bicycle with a purpose.  I have no interest at all in bicycle racing - either watching or participating - but I love to use my bicycles for commuting and just gettin' stuff done.

Premium Rush opens today in theaters.  It's an action movie centered around a bicycle messenger in New York City.  I usually watch action movies because that's what the rest of the family is watching, not of my own choosing.  But I'd like to see this one as I'm intrigued by the whole bicycle messenger subculture.  In a nearby parallel universe, in fact, I AM a bicycle messenger.  If not in NYC, then in Chicago.

I think I can get Magnum to see this one with me.  A friend of mine has also highly recommended Hope Springs, which doesn't look like Magnum's typical kind of movie.  But maybe we can use the JoGo movie as a warm up.

Whachu watchin'?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

front office

It's testing time at the schoolhouse!  As many probably know and live - or have lived - elementary schools have a couple of "testing days" at the beginning of the year, and then do it all again towards the end of the school year.  Today and tomorrow are the beginning.

view from the front

Last year, I mentioned that crossing guard June and I trade offices on testing days.  Maybe someday I'll share the wholly intriguing story as to why, but for now I'd rather leave you scratching your heads.   Suffice to say that it's all just a demonstration of how we are just a couple of safety conscious, flexible team players with high school diplomas or equivalent, willing to work in all kinds of weather.

To that list of attributes, we can now add "well informed".

A couple of my regular clients were giving me crap on Tuesday afternoon.

"You weren't here this morning.  We had to cross ourselves!"

I knew that because when I entered the path to get to my regular office, these two were already on the path heading towards school.  What was UP with that?  The morning bell wasn't due to go off for over a half an hour.

I asked them and confirmed that, yes, they do eat breakfast at school.  STILL, seemed awful early.  I told them that I would start showing up 5 minutes earlier than usual for THEM and THEIR breakfast needs, all the while grumbling under my breath about loitering kids and parents who shove them out the door too early... grumble... grumble... grumble...

Later when I saw June, I asked her what time school breakfast started.  She said she wasn't sure, since "school starts 5 minutes earlier this year".

"Hmmm, okay.... wait... what?"

Lo and behold, school hours have made a 5-minute shift.  You'd think someone would tell the freaking crossing guards, right?  June figured it out via keen observation.  In their defense, I'm sure it was announced/discussed at one of the schools-about-to-start-staff-workshops, but heck!  Us Outsiders don't go to those things!

So here we are.  School started a week ago, and I now know the hours of operation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

today, a tomorrow

It's like incessant noise to me.  Like a little yapper dog barking and barking and barking.   Like the sound of dishes being rattled, like chipped glasses rubbing against each other, like squeaky brakes, like a car alarm, like, well, annoying NOISE.

I'm speaking of clutter.

screaming internally
I'm a minimalist.  I don't like a bunch of stuff.  Less is definitely more.  And no, it's not about "saving the planet" or jumping on a trend for self improvement - thus elevating myself above the evil consumer.

It's really just a psychological quirk with me.  When there is a lot of clutter around me, I can't concentrate.  I have trouble sleeping, working, playing, or being productive.

This room, while tidy, would drive me a little nuts.

One of my favorite activities is to take a bunch of stuff and throw or give it away.  Recall that I have paid my children good money to allow me to do just that with some of their stuff.

in my dreams

So, I'm (usually) okay with the fact that, in order for me to have an ounce of sanity at least a minimal amount of minimalism, I must do the bulk of the clearing out and tidying up.  For reasons I don't understand, "stuff" doesn't bother others as much as it bothers me.

Over the past few weeks, the minimalist in me has been pushed to the max.  How that happens, I don't know, but I've just been busy and having to let the clutter management slide a bit.

I thought I would explode from the "noise".

But there was always light at the end of the tunnel.  I kept thinking, "tomorrow".  Tomorrow, the kids would all be at at school and I can get on this.  Tomorrow my tutor schedule will be light and I can get on this.  Tomorrow I'll be caught up with Task A and I can get on this.

Remember how it's said that Tomorrow never comes?  Yeah.

BUT, today, a tomorrow came for me.  No students scheduled.  Kids are all at school.  I got up earlier than the early I usually get up - couldn't really sleep anyway because of all the "noise".

It's better.  It's quieter.  It's tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dear Diary

I've been feeling restless lately.  It makes sense, I guess.  There's been a a lot of change in my life in recent days.

And I guess it's all good.  I'm happy.  I'm comfortable.  I've been hanging around with some newer aquaintances, and that seems to be going well as I get to know them better.  This whole transition thing, though, has caused me to take a closer look at myself.  I should make more changes.

I started thinking about how, perhaps, others view me.  There's a school of thought that says we shouldn't care about that, but I for one think it's important to ponder .  What am I projecting?

As I thought this over, I don't think that others see the "real" me. I think I appear as smallish, rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  I wanted to change that perception.  To do that, I decided to start with my appearance.

I'm sloughing off the old, and re-emerging in a truer form.  I experimented with that today, and I think it's going well.  My new friends really noticed the "new" me.  I can tell that I'm bigger, more prominent to them now.  

Alpha status.  That's my goal.

Hugs and Kisses,
King Reese


Yes, Reese the snake shed his skin sometime in the last 24 hours.  Meego texted me while I was tutoring.  He remained burrowed under for most of yesterday, but then he popped up today and, migosh, he's actually quite a bit bigger.  I didn't expect it to be noticeable, but it is.

power hungry

Kat is quite interested in all this.  I think maybe the two of them are in competition to see who can be  Biggest Pet.

patootie cat

Oblivious China better watch out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

out with the old, in with the not-so-new

Over the weekend, as Chaco piled goods that I would be paying for into our shopping cart, he chattered incessantly about his college experiences so far.  Since he'd only been there a few days, and real classes hadn't even started yet, these experiences consisted mostly of getting to know his orientation group and his dorm roommates.

One roommate is his good friend Andrew.  He and Andrew arranged it so they would share a dorm, and left it to the roommate gods to choose the two others that would make up their suite.  I mentioned here that, on moving day, I met one of them.  I described him as "pleasingly nerdy".

As Chaco chattered, one piece of information he fed me was, "Matt has Asperger's".

Oh, really.

Recall that our very own Magnum has Asperger's.  Now, when we met, I'd only ever heard of hamburgers.  Same for him, pretty much.

He was notably shy, quiet, didn't make a whole lot of eye contact.  To be honest, at one point when I realized he liked me liked me, I figured it would never go beyond friendship because he would never get the nerve to ask  me out.


Anyway, over 24 years later, here we are.  I won't say that being married to an Asperger man is easy, but at the same time, I don't think Magnum's Asperger's fully defines him.

I was kind of glad when Chaco told me about roommate Matt.  The "quirkiness" I'd picked up on during our brief meeting made sense.  Apparently, he just flat out stated that he had Asperger's and wanted them to know in case they had any questions.

"You know Dad has Asperger's", I reminded Chaco.

"Yeah", he said, "it's like autism, but not"

"It's like 'Autism-lite", I replied.

"Matt's a little socially awkward, but a nice guy", Chaco summed up.  "Andrew notices more than I do, but he'll get used to it".

I'm glad the roommate gods put Matt in with Chaco and Andrew.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

A busy week, mainly marked by back-to-school activities.  Chaco is nicely situated and seems to be loving the Joe College life.  Talked my EAR off as we went shopping on Friday to get other stuff he realized he "needed".  Real classes begin this week, hopefully the honeymoon won't end.

So far, as expected, it's nice that he's out of the house, but close by.  A noticeably large chunk has been taken out of the weekly food bill - or rather been transferred to the university.

In the meantime, I am thankful for the nice batch of students I currently have.  They're a nice well-rounded crop of varied backgrounds and interests.

So while the full schedule is keeping me on my toes, I do enjoy it.  I did learn, however, that I need more balance.  Too much work and no play makes me a dull girl.

Friday afternoon, I returned home to find this in the e-mail from my tutoring service:

Congratulations, Abby! You won!

...You were randomly selected as the Round 3 winner for our Summer Learning Adventure giveaway. Thank you so much for participating in our contest. We always enjoy hearing from our network of parents, students, tutors and fans, and social media provides a great way for us to connect with you...

What?  I won?  What?

I followed the link to the facebook page.  Oh yeah, I vaguely remembered answering a question as part of a contest, never expecting to be "randomly selected".  Cool!  It's not Powerball, but it's $25 at amazon.  I'll take it.

Now, what to buy?  I'm thinking art toys.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


When I saw the prompt "Teacher" for this week's Illustration Friday, I thought of all the wonderful teachers I've had over the years.  How could I choose?  

Plus, once again, I knew I really didn't have time to do a "proper" illustration.  That seems to be the theme lately - always playing catch up.  When life gets too busy, as others I'm sure can relate, I start to lose some of myself.  Maybe without even realizing it until some little thing or things gets me to notice.

Like missing an opportunity for a fun social time.  Like needing a few work clothes, but losing interest in shopping for them.  Like a vague feeling of detachment.  Like realizing I've become somewhat aloof.

I looked at my work desk.  It's functional.  It's without personality.  It's dusty. I hastily drew it, not necessarily because I like it.  I don't like the drawing either, for that matter.  It's without personality.

This has been a good teacher.

Friday, August 17, 2012

beyond bed and bath

It's been a busy week.  What with getting Chaco off to college and Wolfgang and Meego back to school, not to mention dusting off the stop sign and restarting the hellish commute to crossing guard duties.  Add to that the gaggle of tutor students and I was looking forward to today - house to myself, no students on the schedule.

I would get caught up!  Caught up on cleaning the neglected house!


It was just SO quiet.  And I needed a few smart pieces of clothing for work, as many had become dumb.  And my hair.  My hair needed a general cleanup.   So, a funny thing happened on the way to cleaning the bathrooms.

I ended up at the mall instead.

I managed to procure one smart blouse before I got sick of shopping.  It didn't take long, once I remembered I don't particularly like to shop.  I did make it to the seen-one-seen-them-all franchise mall hair salon.

A stylist was sitting in a chair reading 50 Shades Freed (book 3 of the trilogy).  I assume she's read the previous two.  Anyway, she jumped right up from the S&M fest to segue into cutting my hair.

She struck me (no pun intended) as very adept.  At cutting hair that is.  In fact, I don't think I challenged her enough when I just asked for a general cleanup.  While I was there...

  • A young boy, apparently newly kindergartened, loudly tantrumed while repeating, "I'm NOT going back to school!"  Many times. Many many times.  Loudly.
  • A teenaged girl came in to get a "shaggy look" while several female family members hovered around to watch the birthing of her new hair.  Really, it reminded me of a delivery room blessed event.
  • A man and woman spoke animatedly to each other, I think in English.  I'm still curious as to what they said.

It was a somewhat successful mid-day off.  The bathrooms are still filthy.  What's that saying?

The road to the mall is paved with good intentions?

Luckily, I live with people who don't discern well the difference between a clean bathroom and a gross one.

Or maybe that's part of the problem.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The King lives!

Not Elvis.  I don't think.

It's back to school for everybody today.  It's SO  QUIET!!

I meant to get caught up on backed up housewifery before heading off to Tutorville, but I've been procrastinating and thought I'd share about the latest family member. Then it became apparent that typing with one hand was very slow going, so I'm sharing via a VLOG post.

Blog, this is King Reese.  King Reese, this is the blog.  Note that Reese has a real name and furry cuddly Kat is still just "Kat".

Reese managed to come home with us last weekend from the Reptile Expo.  I'm really not surprised, such pushovers we are.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

traffic report

Okay, I thought I would piggyback off of Rock Chef who piggybacked off of ShadowRun300 and take the blog on a visual tour of my work commute.   Today is the first day of school (except Wolfgang and Meego get an extra day of summer; they go back tomorrow), so grab your supplies and let's go.


I exit the back gate of the house to the walking / running / jogging / strollering / coyote prowling / bear sighting path.  Looking to the left, I can see the school about 135 yards away (really, we checked on the GPS)

To my right is the way to The Office.

Depending on traffic and weather conditions, it usually takes me about 1.37 to 2.18 minutes to arrive.  The Office usually has a nice view of the mountains, but smoke from various wildfires in the western U.S. has decided to hang out here for a few days.  

I pull in,

park my transportation,

and settle in to my workstation.  Minivan alert!

Bus all shiny for the first day back in the trenches.

After a full nearly 40 minutes of dealing with various clients, I'm ready for the lengthy return.

Whew!  Miller time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

moving day

The eagle has landed.  Or something like that.

We packed Chaco off to college today.  It seemed somewhat less traumatizing than others I know doing the same thing with their little freshmen.  Chaco's campus is about a 15-minute drive from our house.

Wolfgang came along, maybe to get a feel for college life, so I was banished to the small space in the backseat among the bags, boxes, and baskets o' stuff.

Once we arrived, we needed to hike up to the check-in building...

... where there was the inevitable line.  At a university so known for it's state-of-the-art tech, why were we still having to do the stand-in-line-to-get-a-bunch-of-paperwork bit?  Oh well, we compliantly fell in.

It wasn't all that bad, and once we made it through the check-in, things went relatively quickly.  We were able to pull the car up closer to the dorm to unload.  Thank GOD, because I thought we would have to lug stuff up that hill like Sherpas.

Another nice surprise were volunteer students hanging around waiting to help people carry their crap.  I took all my inner whining that I did while standing in that check-in line back.  I hung back with 3 girls/beasts of burden that seemed to be carrying the most heavy things.  I decided I wouldn't mention to Chaco that his hard drive had been lugged to the dorm by a couple of girls in flip flops.

Two of Chaco's suite mates, including his buddy Andrew, were already getting situated.  The second guy was pleasingly nerdy from a mom point of view.  While I was wondering about when, where, and how they would eat, their main concern was the TV situation and what gaming platforms they had at their disposal.  I don't expect much rowdy partying from this bunch.

So, we've made it passed phase 1, and things seem to be going according to plan.

I miss him already.

Monday, August 13, 2012

help wanted

I was chatting with the elementary school principal a couple of days ago.  She's been busy lately, rearranging teacher assignments and filling some last minute openings.   One opening has sat all summer - the north side crossing guard.

I provide this highly detailed map to illustrate the Grand Scheme of all things  crosswalk-to-school.

See big Jon over there on the far left?  That would be north.  Big Jon has relinquished his esteemed postion at that crossing while remaining a playground monitor.  Apparently, he's got a life outside the crosswalk.

No one is jumping at the chance for some reason.

Granted, Jon is a big guy, so those are some big shoes to fill (literally), but what's not to like?

I checked the postion posting.  It reads:

Classified posting for Crossing Guard.  Requirements:

  • High school diploma/GED equivalent.
  • Flexible.
  • Safety conscious.
  • Team Player.
  • Willing to work in all kinds of weather.

That's it??  

What about the perks?  The friendly faces in the morning.  The excited-to-go-homes  in the afternoon.  Okay, it's really about POWER.

Well, maybe she's had plenty of applicants and none of them has measured up.  I recall my own interview for the position.  It was pretty intense.

Asst. Principal:  Hey Abby, we need a crossing guard on crazy driver blvd.  You wanna do it?
Me:  Uh... yeah.  Okay.
Asst. Principal:  Good.  Come to the school for an interview tomorrow.


Me:  I'm here for my interview
Asst. Principal:  Okay, but it's not really an interview.  It's more of a "Welcome aboard!"

So yeah, there's lots of pressure.  This may take all year.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Another week has flown by.  I'm still trying to catch up.  I feel no guilt at all in saying that I'm looking forward to everyone starting school up again this week - although it doesn't happen until late in the week but I'll take it.

Yesterday, Magnum, Meego and I went to the Reptile Expo in Denver.   No, this was not necessarily  a romantic 22nd anniversary date, but it was fun stuff!  Wolfgang was away at Cross Country camp and Chaco's not so much into the non-furry things, so it was just us three.

This expo occurs every three months, and with Meego's ongoing herp hobby, we couldn't resist.  There were a lot of very cool snakes.

I know these aren't everyone's cup of tea - in fact don't say ANYTHING about this to my mother! - but I really think snakes are so purdy.  There were some impressive ones there.  Impressively priced too!

It was mostly snakes of several constrictor varieties.  Next highest in population were various types of geckos.  The bronze medal goes to bearded dragons.  Then there were some assorted iguanas, chameleons, and the like to round out the expo.  

Mesmerizing Emerald Pythons
It was well attended by a well behaved, reptile-loving crowd.  The breeders were all very friendly and informative.  

All in all, a fun time was had.  It was purely another research activity.  Not buying anything.  JUST LOOKING and getting information!

Famous last words...

Saturday, August 11, 2012


For this week's Illustration Friday topic "Freeze", I'm being majorly lazy by just pulling something out of the archives.  I did this drawing of an Inuit woman about two years ago.  

Back-to-School time is a busy time for us tutor types.  Lots of seniors wanting to get their college entrance exams out of the way, hopefully with decent scores.  On the home front, Back-to-School time means that we scramble to fit in last minute summer adventures.  The combination has left me with very little time to play artsy person.  

So.  To the archives.

And speaking of old stuff... Magnum married his wife 22 years ago today! Whoop! Yikes, I wonder what the old lady's like now??

Oh wait...

Friday, August 10, 2012

go team!

I went to check my school staff e-mail.  I was able to log in, so that was a good sign that I hadn't been fired.

There were several messages, 99.873645% of which didn't pertain to me, but then one caught my eye.  Something about staff shirts.  I actually got a staff t-shirt 2 years ago when I first signed on as a crossing guard.  It's a nice basic cotton T with the name of the school on it.  Blue.  I sort of think there was just an extra laying around, so it was given to me.

Later that year, the full-timers got these cool tie-dyes.  Apparently, there wasn't one of those left laying around and I was deprived.

So I read the e-mail about how we were to go pick up our staff shirts in time to be worn to the big rah-rah all school district kickoff event this morning (school starts next week for students).  I did not plan to attend this event.

I still wanted a shirt.

I called secretary Nancy.

Nancy:  Hello, Hoopa Choopa Elementary.

Me:  Hello secretary Nancy.  It's AbbyNormal [insert socially appropriate blather about summer, the start of the year, the rah-rah event, etc.].  So... yeah... I was wondering... do I get a shirt too?  Or are they just for the full-timers <---- I added that last question to give secretary Nancy an Out, just in case they totally overlooked the quarter-time crossing guard.

Nancy:  You betcha.  Yours is in your mailbox, just come pick it up whenever.
(sign #2 that I haven't been fired

You are correct if you think this is one
of those lame-o bathroom mirror photos
So, it's a pretty good fit and comfy.  I'm not big on V-necks as it gives a bit of a scrub look.  The color totally clashes with the ratty vest.  You'd think they would've taken that into consideration...

Nancy:  School staff pics are next week, so wear your shirt then, too!

Yay, sign #3 that I haven't been fired.  Not yet.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Olympics or apocalypse?

I was out running this morning and wasn't even a half mile from my house before my first encounter.  It was a guy going downhill as I was going up.

"Harder going up than down, I bet", he panted, "Hmmm, looking forwad to that *sarcasm*"

There were others too.  Some of them across the street.  Some of them crossing at intersections.  Some of them with dogs.  None with cats.  All were running.

It was a beautiful morning, so I can't say as I blame them.  If not for the nice weather conditions, it seemed like the week after New Years with all of the Resolution Runners.

The regular cohorts were there too - the feisty Korean Grandma (really, I know the grandkids.  They're definitely hers, they're definitely Korean), the woman who puts lights on her Shelties in the dark winter mornings, they guy who seemingly always wears a sweatshirt and shorts,  no matter the weather...

But all these new faces!  I pondered and deduced what must be the cause.  It's the Olympics!

Especially with track and field getting the bulk of prime time attention this week.  It's like when we were kids and we'd watch the Olympic athletes and then want to go out and do what they were doing.

Who can blame them?  I've been watching me some Olympics this week.  I wasn't much into swimming, and gymnastics just makes me so nervous, but I do enjoy the track events.

Joe noted their perfect bodies, and yes there is that...  But I also appreciate that blazing speed and making it look so easy.

We watch the replays in slo-mo - their faces totally relaxed with cheeks and lips flopping about while they are running 20+ miles an hour or clearing hurdles.

Unlike some of the other events, running is perhaps something people feel more readily able to do.  Could you do a back handspring atop a balance beam?  Me neither.  Swimming requires a pool.  But running?

So, we watch.  It looks easy.  We go out with visions of grandeur.  Or not.  But still, it looks fun so why not?

It was nice to see these unfamiliars out this morning - even in Mouse Town there were three more.  History tells me they likely won't stick around for long.  But it's nice to think that there is still some impressionable kid in all of us.

Or maybe there's another reason behind the fad.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

rhymes with fat

A pet update of sorts.

But not really because Kat still has no (real) name and still has the belly.

"Does the bow in this shelf make me look fat?"

She seems happy and healthy enough.  The guys like her chubbiness, and I admit that I find it cute too.  I have seen much fatter cats, but still.  I don't want her to have a stroke.  What can she say?  She likes her food.  She likes her memory foam.

Today is a day off for me.  Well... from the PAID employment anyways.  I look forward to such days - all the things I'll get done.  While I have gotten several things done so far, I'm basking a bit in laziness too.

We all have our guilty pleasures don't we?  Five of mine, in no particular order (other than the nice symmetry)
  • napping
  • fig newtons
  • people watching
  • chick flicks
  • blogging
I'm glad to say that I can check all of these off of my list of things to do today.  Although nodding off while doing paperwork might not count as napping, and Twilight bloopers may not count as a chick flick.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Readers will be thrilled to know that I totally owned Meego's school supply list.  We prepped and strategized so well that the whole experience will hardly even be a blip on the credit card screen.

Afterwards, while basking in my success, I went online to get everyone's registrations in order.  That was all going quite smoothly too.  And then I hit the "fees" tab.

They make it so easy.  Just check off the items that apply and then pay the grand finale total.  There was the

  • you're-a-senior-now fee
  • you-ride-a-bus fee
  • you're-in-IB fee
  • you-participate-in-fall-sports fee
  • you-participate-in-band fee
  • you-must-have-the-official-planner fee
  • you're-required-to-wear-this-shirt-for-PE fee

along with the optional

  • better-buy-a-yearbook-or-your-kid-will-be-alienated fee
  • buy-school-pics-or-regret-it-forever fee
  • load-up-the-lunch-account-so-your-kid-doesn't-starve fee

and last but not least, the

  • thank-you-for-paying-your-fees fee

Let me just add the disclaimer that I'm not against paying these fees.  I do believe that these extras should be paid for by money not of the "general fund".  And there is some success here too.  I did not buy the home-game sports pass nor the parking permit.  Still, this will be a blip on the credit card screen.

I thought I might be eligible for some sort of discount though.  I mean, heck, I'm a crossing guard for this district which practically makes me Superintendent.

Monday, August 6, 2012

the eye of the beholder

I remember her well.  She was a good friend.  We hung out a lot, enjoyed music, friends at the lake, at the drive-in... This was back in my carefree high school days.

I worked at a restaurant, and the money I earned was pretty exposable.  I think it was my senior year that I bought my first vehicle.  Wasn't she a beaut?

I remember the day I took this picture.  My brother was selling a car and taking a photo of it for the ad.  My truck was sitting there in front of the house having a particularly good hair day as I had just washed it, so I took a few photos too.

Okay, I realize she really wasn't that "pretty", but I think it was the rough edges that gave her her personality.  

The truck had its limitations, but it served my purposes well.  It got me to and from the job that allowed me to purchase the truck in the first place.  It was a hangout for my friends and me with whole bunches of us piled into the bed at the drive-in movies.  It hauled inner tubes up to the mouth of the river that we would float down in the summer.  It was with me for other activities that I won't expand upon.

She met her demise shortly after I traded her.  I think she was depressed and decided to end it all.  

Wolfgang has asked me if he could get a car.  He made a lot of money at that EduKit job over the summer as it was a 40-hour-per-week job, but only for the summer months.  Now he feels rich.   True, he's got more money than what he's used to, but that's not saying much.  

I'm glad he's got something to work towards - incentive to keep having paid employment.  At the same time, I explained to him that a car requires a steady income.  Gas, insurance, maintenance, registration...  

"The short answer", I had to say, "is 'no'".

And he was fine with that, after learning that there's more to having a car than the sale price.  He assured me that he's got other things to waste his cash on that he wants to purchase.  

But it reminded me of MY first.  You never forget your first.  What was yours?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

camp crocodile

We had us a bit of a feral adventure weekend!  Now, I'm back, all showered and sweet-smelling and faced with a mountain of laundry.

We high-tailed it out yesterday morning for the wilds of Alamosa, CO to go visit the alligators.  It's a talapia farm where the alligators are employed to.. erm .. clean up the waste.  
swamp things
There are a LOT of alligators there.  I'm thankful for fences!

There were other cuddly things too!

Holy purse material, Batman!
We camped nearby at a campground that is more-or-less the parking lot of a swimming pool.  The pool is fed from a geothermal well and the water is quite hot year round.  It's not exactly "refreshing", but it was a nice activity after a day with the gators.  
The camping area was very comfy with frog/fish/duck ponds all around.  We were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the bullfrog orchestra.

We turned in early so as to be up with the stars to go on our next adventure:  The Great Sand Dunes.  This was our first family trip there, and actually my first time there.  Magnum has given me flack for never having been to this Colorado attaction, so THERE.  Check it off the bucket list!
We were up with the stars and got to the sand early.  That was definitely the right choice this time of year.  For one, the sand gets really hot later in the day.  Plus, it gets pretty crowded.  When we set out, the temperatures were in the 50's and there were only two other groups that we could see.  
The kids took off...

starting to feel like an ant
What a blast!  Of course they made it their mission to get to the highest dune.  The dunes stretch for miles, and depth perception is deceiving.  As soon as we'd get atop one dune, we'd see another taller one yet to be conquered.

How do I always end up carrying all the crap?

Wolfgang going all native
I've never seen so much sand since that time in the Sahara!  And since I've never really been to the Sahara, I've never seen so much sand!  

We finally got to a point where we decided we should probably turn around.  I think the kids would've just kept on going, though, because they (1) were having such a good time, and (2) are stupid that way.

We were barefoot the whole time, but the sand started to get really hot on the way back and all of us except for Chaco wimped out and put the shoes back on. 

So good times! Five thumbs up for the gators and dunes!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Did anyone notice that we turned a page in the calendar?  It's August.  How did that happen?  July is a blur.

I did manage to sign up for another month of daily blogging.  This month's theme is "sweet".  Well, isn't that... uhm.... sweet.

  NaBloPoMo August 2012

I was a bit reluctant, as I do feel an abduction coming on.  Tuscan Raiders?  Jawas?

If you don't hear from me, save the ship.

Friday, August 3, 2012

going back

It's back-to-school time.  Let's warm up with an anatomy fact:

"If you removed all the arteries, veins, and capillaries from a person's body, and tied them end-to-end...the person will die." ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

Today's mission, should you choose to accept it - school supplies for Meego.


I'm looking at this list I just printed off and am already picking out the items I will ignore in my silent revolt.  When I was a noob at this, I would just buy everything on the lists.  When I got sick of that, I started writing checks to EduKit.   Once both Chaco and Wolfgang were in high school, I got back into the hunt for Meego's stuff.

It doesn't look too bad.  I know I've got some of this stuff in my stash of misfit school supplies.  I refuse to buy the seemingly 3-year supply of pencils along with the handheld pencil sharpener.  An entire package of red pens?  I think not.

So it shouldn't be too bad.  Just out of curiosity, I went to the EduKit site to see what the going rate is for the middle school's 7th grade kit.  It's $61 plus a $21 Spanish kit for El Meego.  I'm pretty sure I can beat that.

Wolfgang has a summer job working for EduKit.  He's been full-timely sorting and stuffing school supply boxes.  Not a bad way for a teen to make a gob of money over summer.  Hmmm... employee discount?  Or maybe a few Meego middle school 7th grade kits just lying around?  Who would notice just one?

Okay, in lieu of advocating workplace theft, I guess we'll go out and brave the pillaging hordes.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I was talking with a neighbor a few days ago.  She was fretting.  Her son is attending the same college as Chaco and the dorm move-in date is not far away.

"He needs bedding... maybe we can supply a fridge if his roommate has a microwave... fret... fret... fret..."  I nodded sympathetically, but in my mind, I was thinking, "eh, whatever".

Chaco is attending the local university, and yes, he'll live in the dorm.  He's in a suite that houses four students.  He and one of his friends make up half of the suiteness.  He got his housing information this week and learned the names of the other half of the suiteness.

Chaco and his friend are both pretty tame and happy in their computer nerdness.  In fact, with Chaco's upcoming nest-leaving, we are losing our entire household IT department.  That's the extent of my fretting.

As he was telling me he'd received his housing info, I gave him the required mom speech about "no drugs!" now that he's a college freshman, fresh out of his parent's house.  He knows it was sincere yet dripping with sarcasm.  He assured me all was fine with the roommates.  The other half of suiteness are also two friends from a small school from the city up the road, and they both have World of Warcraft accounts.

"They're nerds too."

He learned all of this just from knowing their names.

I've never lived in a dorm.  That is one piece of college life I never experienced, from the list that also includes binge drinking, date rape, same-sex experimentation...  Silly me, I just studied and graduated.  I spent my first two years at a junior college then transferred to a university.  Always lived off campus.

I attended a frat party or two and was unimpressed.  Rich, good looking people, stupidly drunk.  I had a few friends - exactly three, actually - who were sorority girls, but they were rebels.  Nope, I never felt I missed out by not living in the dorm, and I was very content to not be in a sorority.  It never even occurred to me to try.

So, we're kind of in a transition, but not a big one.  I'm glad Chaco chose the local university.  It IS a good school, but it's also very close by, so the mom factor is high.

Maybe I'll remind my neighbor that, if we really wanted to, we could go there and spy on them in our spare time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

half staff

There was a funeral yesterday.  Actually, I'm certain there were several funerals yesterday.  But there was one here that had many of us locals stop and take a moment.  A local police officer died in traffic while on duty last week.

It's always sad to hear of one of our public servants dying while serving, but this one touched me a little more than usual.

He was a motorcycle cop.

I've mentioned here how the motorcycle cops sometimes come out and watch my back at the school crossing.  I know they have other, more important things to do, but they occassionally take the time to swing by and keep the traffic in line for the kids.

When we heard the sad news, I looked closely at the face shown on the TV screen.  Did I know him? Was he one of "my" motorcycle cops?

I realized I've never learned any of their names.  They sometimes come over and chat a bit, ask about the traffic, ask about how many kids cross and at what times.

I look at his face, and I'm not sure.  I try to picture it with a helmet and sunglasses and... I'm not sure.

With school about to start, I'm having to dust off my stop sign.  I'm thinking about that first day when the kids are all excited in their new clothes with fresh school supplies.  I'm remembering one morning when a little boy stood next to me, wearing a backpack that was almost as big as he was.  Just as we were about to cross, a Jeep Liberty sped through the crosswalk.  The motorcycle cop to my left fired up his bike and zoomed passed.  

I looked down at my little friend and said, "Wow, how d'you like that!?"

His eyes were wide with admiration, eyebrows as high on his forehead as they could go.  "WHOA!" 

"Yep, he's our hero today"

Rest In Peace Officer Tyner.

Photos courtesty of CSPD.