Monday, December 31, 2012


The last day of the year is already upon us!  The fluffy flakes are a-flying outside.  It looks like our New Years, like our Christmas, is going to be a white one.

Since I'm holed up inside at the moment, I thought I'd do a recap of 2012 in imagery.  Because I can.

It's a curious thing to look back on events and wonder what any of  them mean in relation to the big picture.

Not knowing, though, is the real adventure.

Anyone care to play "Name That AbbyNormal Event"?  What else you gonna do while waiting for the ball to drop?

Thanks for the 2012 ride!  I'm looking forward to more good bloggin' times with all the blog friends, old and new.  

See you next year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Welcome to the last Sunday of 2012!  I was thinking about doing a silver liningness year-end post, but that seemed like too much work, so I squelched it after about 30 seconds of thought.

I've enjoyed this week off from work.  The crosswalk is, of course, closed during winter break for school, and the only tutoring biz I've done has been paperwork and a bit of e-mail correspondence.  It has been a true week of sloth, inefficiency, and time mismanagement!

Still, Christmas happened.  The kids are happy with their gifts and winter break activities.  Recall that we had a snow day on the last school day before the break.  The poor high schoolers were taking finals that week.  Some have to go back to a final exam when they return in January.  Wolfgang, thankfully, was pretty much done, so he has joined me in my sloth, inefficiency, and time mismanagement.

Oh, and I did get that iPod I was craving.  Got a nano, and it's now loaded up with fave tunes.  This morning, I held a ceremonial burial of my ancient cassette tapes.  It's almost embarrassing to admit I had them.

Along with the arrival of new stuff comes one of my favorite activities - purging old stuff!  I have a feeling the cassettes were just a beginning.

Before I close, I do want to acknowledge a few silver liningness milestones from 2012:

  • created 53 "publishable" artworks
  • ran 1115 miles despite the bum foot
  • kept the tutoring schedule full up
  • learned to say "no" to tutoring inquiries when the schedule was full up
  • visited some new places
  • got a new cat
  • got a snake
  • had a first ever real-life blog friend meet up!
  • ... which resulted in a first ever mud run
  • got one kid settled in at college
  • visited my old school with another kid
  • blogged every day
  • replaced the Subaru (may she rest in peace) with the Element
  • stayed sane, so far, despite a few strayings

I'm looking forward to 2013!  I think it will be even better than 2012.  I've no specific reason for thinking that other than I'm just rose-colored glassed that way.  I look forward to enjoying it with all of my blog friends, old and new!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


I remember reading an article several years ago, probably in a parenting magazine or some such.  It was about children and new stuff.

The article recommended against having children open birthday gifts with a bunch of other kids around, like at a birthday party.  Save the opening of gifts for a later time, after the little partiers had left.  The reasoning was that, the other kids would most naturally want to play with all of the new stuff too, but the birthday boy or girl wouldn't be ready to share.

"Making" the kid share would only cause more disruption.  There needs to be ample time for the child to make the new thing rightfully his.  A period of "imprinting" before the child is ready to share.

Sounded sensible to  me.  I don't think that's true just for kids either.

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "New".  I pondered what to illustrate.  My new iPod is a pretty boring subject.  Then I thought of the new Element.

I finally let Wolfgang drive it this week, after much prodding.

I guess I was ready to share.

Friday, December 28, 2012

not bees knees

Remember last spring / summer, I had a foot fail?  Foot wouldn't run?  You should, I remember.

I freely consulted with a local physical therapist who offered free consultations.  She was competent and thorough, gave me some idea of what was going on with my bum foot, supplied me with a few exercises, and even gave me a pretty green resistance band (which I lost somewhere in Nebraska, harumph!)

And that was that.  I did the exercises, I stopped wearing evil shoes, and eventually I was a running fool again.  One follow-up call to the physical therapist and I haven't seen her since.

I felt a little guilty actually.  My "condition" didn't require ongoing visits.  I got all that stuff for free.  I just felt I should offer something in exchange.  Today, I finally did!  Magnum!

He's been gimping around like an old man for some time now.  Knee troubles.  Like with my foot, there was no specific moment of injury he could tie down.  It's just something that seemingly occurred over time.  He's not really one to suffer in silence *ahem*, so I've been listening to him bat around different courses of action for some time now.

I don't remember if the physical therapist was my idea or his, but I told him he should go see the one I saw for the bum foot.  I realized this could push me further down the guilt path if I referred him and his free consultation didn't prompt future visits.

He went today for free, and looks like he'll be going back all consuming.  Yay, no longer a mooch!

The physical therapist even said she remembered me.  I hope in a good way and not in a mooch-who-wears-wrong-shoes-then-uses-free-consultation-for-free-exercises-and-resistance-band-only-to-lose-it-in-Nebraska way.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

shiny new

Firstly, we love our pets.  Secondly, we don't buy them Christmas presents.  And apparently, we're in the minority on that one.

A recent AP poll said that 56 percent of dog owners planned to buy their pooches Christmas gifts.  I actually think that's kind of cute.  Why not?  They're a part of the family.  I've had neighbors give us a plate of cookies that included dog treats too.  That was a nice touch

But we don't get gifts for our pets.  Maybe if the kids were smaller, we'd do it just for fun, but heck, at this point, the kids are lucky to get much!  Really, we don't make a big deal about having piles of gifts on Christmas morning.  If someone needs something, we just get it when needed instead of "wait 'til Christmas".

So since China is ecstatic when given a belly rub, what would she care about having a wrapped rawhide/squeaky toy?  December 25th on the calendar is just another day of the week.  The cat?  She thinks the ribbons are her presents, and I'm not going to tell her otherwise.  The snake starred in a video.  Merry Christmas.

The fish?  They continue their sick infanticide, so they are definitely on the naughty list!  NO fish gifts!

But this year, I guess the universe took pity on China.  Her all important leash crapped out during a Christmas day walk, spurring us to get her  a brand spanking new one.  It's a beaut.  Check out the personalized monogram even!

Do you gift your pets?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

giving in

We went Boxing Day shopping today.  Well, I didn't really shop.  I was just escorting people who were shopping, and I didn't buy a darn thing.  Maybe I just liked being out with all those other day-after shoppers.

As I was loitering shopping, I saw a few things I might like to have, but nothing really spoke to me.  But I'm not fully without desires.  There are a few things I wouldn't mind adding to my earthly treasures.

I think I might breakdown and finally get an iPod.  I don't own an mp3 player of any kind.  I got an iPod shuffle a few years ago.  Magnum got it for free - I forget how - and smartly gave it to me.  So I have an iTunes account and have playlists on the computer, but that's it.  Nothing portable.

The shuffle was a bust.  Ever have one?  All of the controls were incorporated into the earbuds.  If one sweats while wearing them, and the sweat gets into the controls, the controls go out the window.  I only used mine while sweating.  I enjoyed the songs until they were played at max volume and max volume only, with me being unable to do anything about it.  WHAT?

I wasn't the only one that happened to.  The shuffle and I parted ways.  I could make do without, I told myself.  I'd be the bhikkhuni  of mp3's.    ("bhikkhuni"  is a word I learned today. They're like female monks).   Apparently, I've grown tired of the nunnery.  I want an iPod.  One with controls that work.

In fact, the more I sit here thinking about it, the more I want one, like, now.  If I blog it, it will come.

Also, by now, most everyone's heard of the Crossing Guard Cat, right?

I'd like one of those too.

But I think I'll start with the iPod.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

warm greetings!

The day hath arriveth!  I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday, however celebrated.  We woke to cold temperatures and fresh snow.  YAY, white Christmas!

It's been a quite fruitful morning.  Recall that I was worried that Meego's gift wouldn't arrive on time, but it made it with time to spare.  We got him a video camera, so he's been getting the hang of it.  Also, with the Christmas cash, he's paid off the remaining balance of his snake loan.

Put the two events together, and we have video of said snake.  As I said, it's cold here this morning.  He's fond of fleece.

I noticed after uploading the video, that Magnum's secret contraption can be seen several times.  I'm still not saying what it is.

Merry Christmas to all of my blog friends!  I must now walk the pooch and then make my (pretend) world famous scalloped potatoes.

Monday, December 24, 2012

ghosts of Christmas past

While I could have gotten a sex change relatively easily in my hometown, Christmas shopping was another story.  Suffice to say that the place was not the shopping capital of the world.

My family, like most other families in town, took the roughly 200-mile round trip to the nearest "big city" about once a month.  That's when we'd live like the other half lived.  There was a mall there.  When I wanted something, I knew I'd have to wait until another trip came around.  When it got close to Christmas, I knew I'd better get my shopping done by early December.

When I was in college, I worked a retail job.   Black Friday was a zoo, but Christmas Eve was a JUNGLE! I couldn't believe all of the desperate shoppers out there buying up anything and everything that was left on the shelves and not nailed down.  And this was at a sporting goods store.  Merry Christmas fish bait?  Merry Christmas jock strap?  Desperate times.

So from my mall-deprived upbringing and my retail worker experience, I learned to not be a last-minute shopper.

Later on, after Magnum and I were married but before we had kids, we lived in New York and would travel "home" to Colorado for Christmas.  One year, we remember it well, we bounced around to 5 different Christmases.  The worst part was the confused little neices.  We vowed no more Christmas bouncing, especially after we had our own kids.  We're the black sheep of his family anyway, so it was easy.

So from the slightly dysfunctional family dynamics, we learned to not stress about Christmas.

I'm thankful for these lessons now, on this Christmas Eve.   I've also heard that, when the Mom is stressed out, the whole family is stressed out.  I'll just have to take that one on face value, having not experienced it first-hand *COUGH*COUGH*.  I'm staying comfy and calm and liking it.

I'm sitting here in my comfy bicycling clothes because I went for a nice non-stressful joyride in the opposite direction of the mall, wanting to beat the snowstorm that's moving in for our, hopefully, white Christmas.  I took along our toy from last Christmas - the helmet cam - for some experimentation.  Still some learning to do...

But [click this] and come ride with me!

Wishing all of my blog friends a warm, cozy and blissful Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!   I'm happy to say that I'm ready as I'll ever be.  Christmas can happen now.

On Friday, we went to Phelan Gardens and got our Christmas 2012 tree.  She is currently sleeping in the garage, but we'll probably bring her in and get her all prettied up later today.  When I told the kids where we were headed, they just thought it amusing that we were getting our tree from felons.

On that same day, Meego's real Christmas gift arrived via Santa-disguised-as-a-UPS driver.  But... where are my vacuum cleaner bags?

I'm also happy to say that there were no drug busts at our house this week and that we have decorative lights that actually light up now.

In other mishap news, however, Wolfgang and some friends went to the Sports Climbing Center a couple of nights ago.  This is a local indoor rock climbing gym.  Much fun!  They were on their way out the door when Dylan, one of the buddies, took an innocent last walk on the slackline.

Not Dylan
Image for educational purposes only

Slackline is like a tightrope, only fatter and less tight, about yay....

So Dylan was moseying along the slackline when he did a hurkey~doo and ended up dislocating his kneecap.


Paramedics were called, kneecap was put back where it belonged.  The silver liningness in it all is that no lasting damage was done.  Dylan is fine.  Teenagers.  Remember the good old days of being one, when we could dislocate something and feel perfectly normal a few hours later??

In addition to the holiday prep, it was a pretty productive week in other to-do list type stuff too boring to blog about.  Now I'm ready to settle in for some holiday downtime.  I hope the same for my blogging buddies!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "glow", so I painted this Mayan mask in light and shadow, as in:

Mayan mask says, "Sunrise?!  Aw.... rats"

Friday, December 21, 2012

can you feel it, baby?

The secret to getting ahead is getting started 
Come on come on 
Feel it feel it
Feel the vibration
~ Marky Mark Twain

The world is still here.  I guess we'll have to pay the master card bill for this month after all.  Darn Mayans anyway.

I've been busy this morning taking care of bidness, and we are currently still Christmas treeless.  That status should change within the next few hours.  If not, we may have to uproot one of the baby trees from the backyard.

In the meantime, how 'bout those New Year's resolutions!?  Got any?

Last year, my main goal was to cook more real food.  I think I improved on that.  But considering where I'd come from...

I've not got Marky Mark Twain abs, but I keep trying anyway.  And my records show that I've logged 1,084 running miles so far this year.  I'm happy enough with that considering I didn't run a step for 10 weeks while waiting for the bum foot to heal.

For this year, I haven't fashioned any specific goals, but I've been thinking along the lines of future employment.  The tutor/crossing guard combo works out well with the family dynamic for now, but it's not a long-range vision.  Since the lottery gods aren't likely to shine on me, I would at least like to have a formulated plan in place.

I'm just in the thinking-about-things stage for now.  As far as immediate goals, a Christmas tree would be nice.

Since the world looks to be sticking around, got any plans?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I just wanna say

Magnum and I took a chilly old folk's walk last night.

"I saw today that that guy who killed his dad with a bow and arrow at Casper College had Asperger's too", Magnum noted.

"Oh great.  Ban people with Asperger's?", I contemplated.

"Well, I can fake normal", he said with mock confidence.

"No.  You can't", I joked but not really.

Yes, the Aspies have been getting some negative press lately.  My Asperger wife friend Maureen posted a damage control article on facebook, but I don't feel a need to do similar here.  My readers know Magnum's not a monster.  Violent?  PSSSH.

Honestly, when it comes to just getting all authoritative with the kids, even that usually falls to me.  Magnum's too much of a softie.  It wasn't Asperger's that killed those children. Personally, I think it was most likely a number of things that aligned into the Perfect Storm.

And that's all the press I want to give to that loser.   Besides, the world ends tomorrow.

But just in case the forecasters are wrong, we'll probably go get our Christmas tree then.  I realize it's last minute, but I didn't want to have another living thing to be responsible for on End of the World Day.

We always get our trees relatively late because, (1) we get a live potted tree, so it doesn't come into the house until just before Christmas anyways, and (2) the longer we wait, the bigger the bargain.  The nursery people practically pay us to take one.  Maybe the late tree buying is our version of Black Friday shopping?  And we mustn't forget, (3) we're just disorganized that way.

In other shopping and Christmas preparedness news, I'm crossing my fingers that we have more to show for Meego's gift on Christmas morning than a pack of vacuum cleaner bags.   More on that to follow.

Unless the world ends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

glad I'm not there... oh, wait

Friday night, I was awakened by the cat.

"Some cops are arresting a guy in a truck right in front of our house", she said, standing over me, all big-eyed.

"Really?  What for?", I groggily replied.

"I dunno.  They handcuffed the driver and put him in the back of one of the cop cars.  There's a woman in the passenger seat.  A K-9 unit just arrived", she continued.

"Ah, must be drugs then", I logically concluded while speaking with a cat.

Slowly, my body and mind merged, and I realized Chaco was doing the talking while the cat just hung out in the crook of his arm.  Otherwise, I'd start thinking those were darn good drugs out there.

Saturday morning, the drug truck was still there, right in front of our house.  Large red Ford F-150 with a cap.  I hadn't bothered to get out of my warm bed while getting updates from the cat the night before.  I wonder what the neighbors thought.

"Drug bust?  At the AbbyNormals?  Hmmm..."

It's not so hard to imagine, really.  After all, we have no Christmas decorations up.  Sure sign of a drug operation, right?  *SIGH*

Actually, we DO have some lights UP, they're just not LIT up.  Wiring obstacles.  I've left it to the menfolk to handle the decorating of the exterior of the house.  Me? On the roof?  HaHaHaHaHa!

So there are unlit light bulbs tastefully bordering our roof.  If they were lit up, it might be pretty.  In the meantime, thanks to our trucked in friends, we are the neighborhood drug house.  At least someone eventually came and retrieved the drug truck, but probably not until the damage to our reputation was done.

So today!  Today, I will get this all reconciled.  Nature has gifted us with our first snow day of the year!  There's not much accumulation yet, but it's nasty windy out - blizzardness - snow is falling horizontally.  I was so happy to not have to be at the crosswalk I went out there (??) to capture a photo of where I didn't want to be.  The things I do for this blog...


I actually made a video too, but it's pretty boring.  Just imagine the wind a-whipping through your ears, those traffic lights doing their Snow Day Happy Dance, and a few disgruntled commuters slogging by like turtles.

My afternoon tutelage is also cancelled, so I've got the WHOLE  DAY to finally get the house ready for Christmas!  There might even be time left over to set up a meth lab.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

wisdom of youth

Our family dentist is a hoot.  If I were to meet him somewhere outside of dentistry, I doubt I would guess that as his profession.  I know that there are several hoops to jump through just to get IN to dental school, then one must get THROUGH it.  The dentists I've known before, while friendly, have been rather serious types.

But our current dentist is Extrovert with capital "E", fast talking about nearly everything under the sun.  A little over a year ago, he was giving me a crown.  Just before he popped the thing into my head and sealed it there for all time eternal, he dropped it on the floor!  Utilizing the 5-second rule, he quickly plopped it into some sort of solution and affirmed, "Don't worry, this stuff kills everything known to man, I'm surprised it's even legal!", in his characteristically entertaining way.

I've never had troubles with that crown.  I guess there was nothing unknown to man on that procedure room floor.

I've gotten used to his goofiness and find it refreshing in a dentist, because he's also shown himself to be quite competent.  I just have to listen carefully since he talks so fast and so much.  Last summer, he was telling me about his reactions while watching the latest Batman movie and asking me about my shoes when, somewhere in the middle of all that, he recommended that Chaco get his wisdom teeth pulled very soon.

Oh... what?  Dental stuff??

We didn't get around to the wisdom teeth extraction in time for the start of classes, so one of the "bucket list" items for winter break is to get 'er done .  This morning, Chaco and I spent about an hour at the oral and maxillofacial place doing consultation and consent stuff.

As is usual, a portion of that time was spent just waiting.  I decided the view out the window was nice so captured it here.

Find The Element?

I suppose the mountains were pretty too, burn scar and all.

I've never had my wisdom teeth removed.  It seems to be nearly a rite of passage for the college-aged, but I'm keeping mine!  I need all the wisdom I can get.

Monday, December 17, 2012

eat this

Step 1)  Make a peanut butter and jelly sammich
Step 2)  With a rolling pin, flatten that sammich but good
Step 3)  Roll the flattened sammich into a log shape
Step 4)  Slice cross-wise to make individual little PB&J rolls
Step 5)  Name them something other than "peanut butter and jelly sammich"
Step 6)  Give them to your kids, pretend they're special

I remember doing the above to get my scrawny kids to eat.  I think I called them "peanut rolls" or something - it was back during the blur of the daycare days.  Either way, it worked well enough.

I'm not very creative when it comes to food preparation.  Maybe I was told, "It's all gonna end up in the same place anyway"  too often.  Today, I wasn't even trying to be creative, but I came across a recipe that I may try.  Or not.  Maybe it was just a message to me to increase my creativity, but it was pizza cupcakes.


There's the part of me that says, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".  Seems like pizza is often sent out for a makeover.  What's wrong with just plain old pizza?  I remember the first time I had pineapple pizza.  I think it was my last.  If not, I wanted it to be.  To each his own, I'm just not a fan, sorry.

But the underlying fact here is, I'm not creative with food.  This is not a foodie blog by any means.  I just stumbled upon this recipe and was thinking I might give them a try just to see the strange looks on my family members' faces.  That and the "...they are super easy to make."

And for special occassions, I could definitely be up for...

...making good use of Jabba the Hut's muffin top.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

The air is still heavy with Sandy Hook, but it does help me to feel gratitude.  For one thing, the universal shock, disbelief, and sense of tragedy is in itself a good thing.  It's when this sort of thing is no longer so shocking that we've really lost our humanness.

So, I reflect on the goodness of the week just past.  For one, Chaco is home for his long winter break.  Evidence abounds:

"Chaco Central" was quickly set up in the ManCave, pretty much taking up the entire surface of the project table... and a few square feet of floor space.

And we can't overlook the obstacle challenge of getting anything out of the coat closet.

The Ellie Mae has been with us for one week now, and I continue to just love her.  What a fun and friendly little vehicle!  One of our bargaining chips was that she needed some new tires.  I took her to our shop of choice to get her all decked out.  Those guys down there know me all too well, greetings of "Hey (cashflow) Abby!" when I step in the door.  It's a wonder they haven't gotten me one of those lovely shirts with my name on the lapel with all the time (is money) I'd spent there with the Subaru.  No offense, but I hope to be seeing much less of them now.

My tutor matching service did a "Twelve Days of Christmas" promo for the first 12 days of December.  Each day, one tutor and one student that had a lesson that day were chosen for something from the gift shop.  Well, I didn't win, wasn't chosen on any day, but it was still fun to check each day.  They're an enjoyable and user friendly group to work with, and I don't need a water bottle/t-shirt/hat/other propaganda anyway.

In other employment gratitude, I'm grateful for my crossing guard job.  As far as "moonlighting" activities go, it's a privilege to work with the elementary kids and their families, as reminded from Friday's events.  Friday afternoon's traffic was solemnly well behaved.  I guess drivers realized, for a while anyway, that maybe an elementary school crossing isn't so inconvenient after all.

I also got a small raise.  Don't tell them, but I'd do it for free.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "snow".  Typically, the word snow would conjure up thoughts and images of fun and playfulness and rosy cheeks...

But with yesterday's news still so raw, I was more in the mood for something quiet.  Stillness.

Stay safe, my friends.

Friday, December 14, 2012

the more they stay the same

I had to go to the Principal's office this morning.

It was time to review for the mid-year employee goals review.  A review review, if you will.  As many I'm sure can imagine, this is a rather lengthy process for crossing guards.  SO many different areas to cover.  I must have been there for 12 whole minutes!  Seven hundred twenty +/- seconds of my life, including the idle chit chat.

Since I don't work on actual school grounds, I think of myself as more like a moon of the school.  When I do go a-visiting, I need a little recalibration to get into disciplined school mode rather than that of the ruffian outpost.

A highlight component of these visits is to play "What's In Abby's Mailbox Now?", since I check the thing 3, maybe 4 times a year.  Let's have a look!

Aside from various pieces of paper with boring but required text for public employees, I managed to find a few goodies.

First was a sweet birthday card from the Principal and Vice Principal.  Then was a very mass-produced looking but still appreciated birthday card from the district Superintendent.

Finally, a large bar of chocolate fell on my head (my mailbox is top shelf), labelled "First Aid Chocolate". Along with that came tumbling down a lovely resistance band as "Thank you for promoting a drug free and healthy school", complete with instructions for use.

My job-related goals have not changed from last time.  Keep the school kids from being threatened or maimed on the way to school, all the while exuding a cheerful and helpful representation of the school.  Sign here, date there.

In other midyear news, I must retrieve Chaco later today.  This could be titled "The Retrieval of Chaco in Two Acts", since the first act was Wednesday.  His finals were over, and he wanted to pack up and ship off most of his stuff so as to clean the dorm room as required.  Once again, I'm glad for the convenience of him going to college so nearby.  What is an all day or more event for some college parents is just another errand for us.

The Ellie Mae and I arrived ready for whatever he had to dish out, including much teasing of The Ellie Mae.  

Act I was a success, and I will return for the final act later today.  While it's been several years since I was in college, I can report that, if Chaco's University is any indication, the "happy penis" remains the college campus snow sculpture of choice.

The more things change...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

into the void

I've lost something, and this is rather distressing.

My earmuffs.  My earmuffs have gone missing.

I've realized that I have lots of headgear.  I've got hats to keep me in all kinds of warmness in weather ranging from bone chilling to just slightly cool.  Then, when things cross over that line, I've got hats to keep me cool.

But I've only one pair of earmuffs.  Well... I HAD one pair of earmuffs.  They've gone missing.

I last remember wearing them last Friday when I went walking with China.  I've looked in all of the obvious places, including my head.  No earmuffs.

Magnum says, maybe it's karma, "for stealing that Mickey Mouse hat".

But I did NOT steal that Mickey Mouse hat.  If anything, I rescued the poor thing!

Either way, I am now earmuff-less.  But it's not a tragedy.  I'm putting things in perspective.  Others have lost much more.

Anyone who even remotely follows the sport of boxing knows who Manny Pacquiao is.  My half Filipino heart half follows.

He lost over the weekend.  He punishingly lost consciousness.  He took a big nap on the canvas, and the image of his nap has been showing up everywhere ever since.  Oh look, here's another one...

Then there's Anne Hathaway who, I guess, lost her underpants.   Then she had a wardrobe malfunction (likely story) captured on camera.  I'm not putting that image on my blog.

Some lower profile losers from my small world have recently lost homework (mmm hmmm....), an iPhone, prescription glasses, a gold necklace, and one chihuahua.

I can live without earmuffs, I'm telling myself.  But June came by today wearing some awesome leopard skin patterned earmuffs, and now I have earmuff envy.

I can live without earmuffs, but I'd prefer not to.  Have you seen them??  I'm a sore loser.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

hot mess

Ms. A was a visiting professor.  I was in her English Lit. class for the necessary humanities credits.  I don't remember that much about the class.  We read.  We dissected what we read, endlessly.

Ms. A was probably in her late 50's.  Unmarried.  My impression of her, from her personality, was that she was probably an ex-"hippie".  Marijuana.  Free love.  The whole package.  I liked her as an instructor.  She was laid back and seemed to enjoy discussing English Lit.  She gave me an "A".

At the end of the semester, she invited the class to her small house for a sort of cocktail party where we mingled and watched a movie version of one of the literary works we'd studied.  Neither the literary work nor the movie was memorable enough to stay with me.

As far as physical appearance, her hair was dyed a reddish brown.  Lipstick usually looked hastily applied.  She had a soft apple shape.  I hadn't really thought about her physical appearance much until the day I came across her in the sauna.

I used to go to the University rec center quite regularly.  There was a cardio room, a weight room, a pool, a 1/8 mile track.  In the large locker room was a dry sauna.  Very relaxing after a workout and shower.

Usually, there were just other student regulars in there.  We'd sit and lazily chat, keep each other from dozing off.

One day, I entered to find Ms. A sitting there with another oldish woman.  Both of them buck naked in all their respective soft appleness.

Okay, that was weird.

She was one of my teachers.  Naked right there.  Hippie or not, it was strange.  If she hadn't been one of my professors, I wouldn't have cared.  But I must have compartmentalized her into the Teacher box, and it was strange seeing her out of it.  Really out of it.

She didn't seem particularly uncomfortable with me, a student of hers, being in there.  I proceeded to close my eyes and pretend to meditate or something.


"I think I saw JB's tutor last week.  Is she a crossing guard?  On Crazy Driver Boulevard?"

One of my students' moms told me her daughter thought she saw me being all crossing guard, or at least someone that really looked like me being all crossing guard.  Was it me?

"Yep, that's me", I confirmed.

Apparently, JB's sister babysits one of the kids from Hoopa Choopa Elementary School, my place of crossing guardness.  She picks him up after school.

"Oh, well that's nice to know that side of you", the mom said.  I guess she had compartmentalized me into the Tutor box, and seeing me out of it gave her fresh perspective.

I'm glad it wasn't a sauna.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


The pack neared the halfway point.  This was a fun part of the race, the turnaround to see all those that we were ahead of, look other runners in the face, look for anyone we knew... wait... what?  Seriously??

I wanted to blog about a topic, and went to the site of that Turkey Trot I did at Thanksgiving because I was going to post an image of the course map to illustrate a point.  Alas, the map is gone, but I found a few photos and swiped a couple

The start.  Find Abby, win a prize.

This is a fun event because (1) it's Thanksgiving, (2) attendance is always big, (3) competition is pretty fierce, (4) it's a nice course, and (5) it's for a good cause.  Did I leave anything out?

One thing that makes the course fun is that, at the halfway point, the course makes a sharp U-turn so that runners backtrack for about a third of a mile from where they just came.  There are racers going in both directions.  It's a chance for some of the more average runners to get a glimpse of the leaders as they go blasting past.  (note:  I was the only one in my pack who gave a *woot* to the leaders as they went passed in the opposite direction.  Sore loser poopers.)

The turnaround is clearly marked with bright orange pylons and a water table, and it's a somewhat crazy funneling of bodies to make that 180 turn.   Except there was this guy... this one guy... He jumped the gap well before the official turnaround.  Literally cutting the corner.  What's up with that?

There was sort of a collective groan around me as he did it.  He was a "grownup".  Cheating?  It's just a freaking Turkey Trot for cripes sake!

I don't understand cheaters.  So the guy shaved some seconds off his time with that move.  In a race with so many attendees, I'm sure it did make a difference in his standing, at least within his age division.  But how satisfying could that be?  He knew he cut the corner.

I mentioned that Magnum and I are doing the pedometer challenge thing for a chance to win prizes.  The last pedometer challenge awarded prizes to top performers.  There were a few who highly likely cheated.  Their step counts calculated to around 30 miles a day.  Every.  Day.  Never mind that they had full-time desk jobs.

That's probably why this latest challenge just sets a threshold, then does a random drawing among all who make it in.

Oh well, I suppose there will always be cheaters.  I prefer dignity and sleeping at night.

Oh, and that kid that fell early in the race?  The one I heroically saved from being trampled??  He beat me!  Here he is - #2890 - crossing the finish, none the worse for wear.  Once again, find Abby and win a prize.

No cheating!

Monday, December 10, 2012

sweet things

I braced for the real winter of this morning.  I layered up good, put on the clunky boots.  I love their warmth, but is there a way to get that warmth without the clunkiness?  I'm like a toddler walking in those things.  

Yesterday, as the snow fell, we had a cozy day inside.  I did get out to shovel the driveway and deck while Magnum was playing with the Fun Car and that other project that I'm not yet wanting to share the purpose of.  Later, he and I took China for a chilly beauty walk. 

Wolfgang was going to go to the Climbing Center with some friends, but I guess they decided not to because of the snowstorm.  When I was playing around with Henry Stanley, he asked what the Illustration Friday prompt was, then sat down and did the above Calvin and Hobbes.  

He's a pretty decent artist in his own right, usually doing characters from video games or sci-fi movies.  But maybe the cozy day put him in a more whimsical mood for "Explore".  I've encouraged him to set up his own online gallery, and it's on his list of things to do.  In the meantime, I thought I'd go ahead and submit this one for him.

The woman on the radio this morning said it was -1 outside.  By the time I went to The Office, it was in the low teens.  I looked forward to seeing the die-hard regulars that don't let a little weather keep them from walking or biking to school.  

And most were there, bundled up, ready for another week.  It was a nice morning actually.  The mountains are gorgeous in the sunlight with the freshly fallen snow.  I didn't take a photo, my cheesy camera wouldn't do them justice.

One of my regulars isn't a school kid at all.  "Bunny" lives up the road and walks by almost daily for her dog's beauty walk.  Bunny is herself a former crossing guard for another local school.  We chat in the mornings, sharing war stories

She and the pooch showed up this morning, appropriately bundled.  She asked if I was staying warm, which I was, then handed me these things!

An insulated cuppa hot chocolate - complete with hand grippie - and  this cute little Santa crossing guard.  Where does one even get a cute  little Santa crossing guard?!

And here I thought this morning would be cold.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

First of all...

we finally got snow, real snow!  As much as I've enjoyed the warm bike-riding conditions and NOT freezing my buns off at the crosswalk, we did need the snow.  November was so dry.  Plus, we as a state depend greatly on snow for the all important tourist dollar.  Not to mention the all important spring runoff.  So YAY for snow!  Oh, and it's real pretty too.

This was another positive week, striking a nice balance between work and play.  Yesterday as we were boosting the economy at the car dealership, I texted Chaco:

"We're trading the Subaru today.  You probably won't like it"

He was also not a fan of the Element.  One of my selling points to Magnum was that Chaco wouldn't like it, so how fun to get one!

Later, I e-mailed a photo of our purchase to Chaco.  He replied:

It's proving to be a fine choice, however.  As mentioned, one reason we chose it was because we could haul our bicycles.  We weren't sure if we could get all five in, but we went for it.  Magnum tried out the theory today and easily got three bikes in without even removing the back seats all the way.  We're pretty sure we can get in 2 more bikes, no problem.


Until now, when we've wanted to do an all-family bike ride somewhere other than out our front door, we've had to haul the bicycles in our 5' x 8' covered cargo trailer.  Then there's the matter of parking.  I figured, with the Element, we can sell the trailer - another selling point!

Maybe if I show these to Chaco, it'll cheer him somewhat.  Or maybe I'll just let him wallow a while.  

Anyone need a 5' x 8' covered cargo trailer in lovely condition?  Say you saw it here and get the AbbyNormal discount!  Thing is... you'll have to come to my house to get it.

Explore, part II

Since it's difficult for me to let an Illustration Friday go by without me, I got my fix in today for this week's prompt:  Explore.

School year 2004 - 2005 was notable for me because Meego went off to preschool that year.  He only attended twice a week, a couple of hours each time, but for me, who'd had at least one child always hanging off me like a koala bear for 10 years, it was a bit strange to have those 4 hours a week with just myself.  

One "me" activity I did while Meego was getting socialized was read.  I came across a biography of African explorer Henry Stanley, and became wholly engrossed.  After finishing it, I poured through Through the Dark Continent, volumes 1 and 2:  Stanley's own "classic account of explorations of lakes of Central Africa, perilous journey down unexplored Congo River. Incredible hardships, perseverance." 

When I saw the prompt, I was reminded of those afternoons hanging out at the YMCA where Meego's preschool was.  I'd often go for a swim and then read until his "class" was over.  Reading about Stanley's adventures made me feel that my own life was so safe and easy.

I could say that I purposely chose those hours of free time to broaden my mind and knowledge of historical events.  But the truth is...

 I'm just a sucker for a man in a pith helmet.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "Explore" and I illustrated nothing.

BUT, I was otherwise occupied with doing actual explorING.

After researching the vehicle model that Magnum turned me onto by dissing it so much, I worked to bring him over to my side.  I showed him some articles, we googled images, we saw some really fun things that other owners had done.

It worked.  He wasn't yet as in lurv as I was, but he agreed to go kick some tires.  Meego and Wolfgang came along to get in their two-cents, literally all they contributed financially.

So that was the bulk of our day.  Driving, tire kicking, weighing our options.  Just looking.

Truth is, we don't do so well with just looking.  We'd done our research, the salesman was good.  And thanks to our superior car negotiating skills (mine are pretty bad, Magnum's worse than mine) we drove our new family member home.

So I'll share a first photo.
Don't laugh, okay?
I know she's kinda quirky looking.
That's part of what I like about her.
Plus, we can probably fit 5 bicycles in her.

But first, how about a moment of silence for the Subaru?

Okay, you won't laugh?

Here she is
Element. (pronounced "Ellie Mae"?)

(click it, she gets bigger!)

Friday, December 7, 2012

but it's got a great personality!

Lately, we've been thinking a little more about replacing the beloved Subaru.  Her latest collapse a few weeks ago was yet another reminder that maybe we should just put her out of her misery.  I've turned my thoughts halfheartedly into thinking about a replacement.

In another life, I might not even own a car.  But that's just impractical with kids and all.  Still, I try to drive as little as possible.  Magnum and I are usually on the same page regarding our vehicle preferences.   Functionality, reliability, and economy are priorities.

Every day, I'm out at my crosswalk, checking out the different cars going by.  It's like a parade, just for me, but nothing has perked me up. I sigh and think, welp, we can just get another Subaru, for lack of any other inspiration.

Last night, Magnum and I were taking an old folk's walk (pedometer love!) and started talking cars.  We narrowed our options down to makes we would consider, but that's as far as we got.  Until...

He started criticizing a certain model.  While criticizing this model, he brought up attributes I was unaware of, as in, "ALTHOUGH it was designed for outdoorsy people... DESPITE it's favorable reviews...  I ACKNOWLEDGE it's got nice cargo capacity..."

As I was listening, I'm thinking, "I want one of those!"

Bottom line for Magnum?  He doesn't like how it looks.

What?  Since when do LOOKS matter to  him??  (don't answer)

All curious, I started researching the ugly things this morning.

I looked into our finances and the trade-in value of the Subaru.  I found some used ugly things in our price range around town and beyond.  I checked with my friend Cuckoo (really, that's his name) who sells cars in the next town over.  Sadly, Cuckoo doesn't currently have a suitable ugly thing.  He could probably find us one, though.

I want one of those ugly things.  Or at least I want to go drive a few ugly things.  I phoned a local salesman whose got an ugly thing on his lot.  We'll probably visit him and the ugly thing tomorrow.

Has my Asperger man learned reverse psychology?

Nah... too bad.  He must really think they're ugly

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas candor

Meego and a couple of his friends were playing a video game in the Man Cave while I was at my estrogen island known as the giga desk.  These friends are twin brothers, about 3 years younger than Meego.  They were about 6 or 7 years old at the time.

Twin1:  I wish we had  a PlayStation2
Twin2:  Maybe we should ask Santa for one
Meego:  Santa's not...

It was the Christmas season, touchy times.

I think it's safe to assume that Magnum and I are in the minority among families that celebrate Christmas, but have never done the Santa thing.  I don't remember having much of a conversation about it.  It's not like we were still in the dating stages and...

"Do you want to have children someday?"

"Oh, yes absolutely!"

"Will you tell them there's a Santa Claus?"

"Gosh NO!!"

It wasn't an issue, we just "didn't go there".  Neither one of us felt comfortable lying to them, even if it made Christmas less "magical".

Of course, our kids were never so isolated as to not know about Santa Claus.  He's on TV, he's at the mall, he's on the dang wrapping paper, after all.  We just told them that it's all a sweet Christmas story, for fun.

And we added the rule:  do NOT tell your friends!!

That part hasn't always been easy.  I guess with them thinking of Santa Claus as a story and nothing more, it was difficult for them to get that their friends believed.  Those years I did the daycare?  Serious damage control was necessary at Christmastime.

When I was little, I believed in Santa and got presents from him at Christmas.  I knew the guy at the store or the Christmas party in the cheesy beard and fake boots, whose lap I sat upon, was not Santa.  But the one on TV at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was really him.

I don't remember any traumatic revelation, I just know that at some point, the Santa story became just a story.  It was probably Guano's fault.

And I would never tell someone else's children that Santa doesn't exist, anymore than I would explain to them where babies come from.

Apparently, a couple of teachers don't feel the same.  I came across this story, and I admit it bothered me.  When my kids go off to school, I hope they have mind-expanding lessons and interactions.  But tell a group of 5-year-olds that there's no Santa?

Shut UP!

Epilogue:  Santa brought the PS2.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

so... whachu wearing?

It's on.

I mentioned the health incentives that Magnum's company offers its employees and spouses?  How we jump through their hoops like trained animals going for the treat bucket?

Most of them don't even involve doing healthy stuff, to be honest.  We each had our screenings, where we're just told what our various numbers and suggested ways to get them better.  Another hoop was filling out our online questionnaire to assess how healthy our lifestyles are.  One interesting question was, "Do you smoke?" with answer choices "Yes", "No", "I don't know".

How would I not know whether I smoke or not?

BUT I digress.  The latest incentive actually requires some work.  Pedometer bling!

Starting tomorrow, we will be entered into a daily random drawing for each day we get in 7,000 or more steps.  The contest lasts 21 days, meaning we can get in 21 entries.  I just snapped this photo, note that I've already got over 9,000 and I haven't even taken China for the daily beauty walk.  >7,000 per day is not a major undertaking.  This is just my morning calisthenics play plus a few trips back and forth across the morning crosswalk.

On a related side note, I got to wondering why "pedestrian" and "pedophile" had the same word root.  One is a Greek root, the other Latin.  No relation.  Good to know, I don't want to lose my job over a "pedophile meter".

ANYWAY, since I hardly ever win random drawing type prizes, and this drawing is bound to have lots and lots of entries, I don't really care nor do I expect to win anything... But there is a daily leader board that doesn't affect the drawing, just shows who's kicking butt.  Yeah, whatever...

Oh, who am I kidding?!  Game on, B*tches!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


My family moved there right around the time I was born.  I spent my first 20 years there.

I was a happy kid, growing up in our brick house with my parents and two older brothers.  The town we lived in was a small coal mining town.  Not tiny, it had a population of about 9,000.  My memories of growing up include the usual stuff, I suppose.  My friends, school days, teachers, boyfriends, extracurriculars, favorite music, etc.

brick streets = ratlly cars
The town itself was not without its quirks, as I suppose a lot of small towns are.  There are the trademark brick streets, the many bars and liquor stores offset by a few Catholic churches, the rumors of mafia activity, the brujo stories.

The residents are not typically affluent, but they are generous and friendly.  There were plenty of large families that made for huge weddings.  Some, it seemed nearly the whole town was in attendance, and yet everyone managed to take home a plate of homemade Italian cookies.

Oh, and it also happened to be the sex change capital of the world.

Not the sex change capital of the west, not the sex change capital of America, but the sex change capital of The World.

A certain skilled and pioneering surgeon, who also happened to have a preference for small town life, gave it that distinction.

The story has it that a woman approached the good doctor and asked if there was something he could do about her dislike for her female body.  Surgically.  He couldn't at the time, but that didn't stop him.  He learned.  And that got the balls rolling... so to speak *ahem*.

There have been news segments, a documentary was made, but I think for most of us that lived there, the title didn't affect our day-to-day all that much.   Around the state, however, my hometown seems to be known for that one thing and that one thing only.  It has sort of a carnival side-show connotation.

Whenever I tell someone where I'm from, I brace for the awkward silence, the raised eyebrows, the questions, the furtive glances - searching for an Adam's apple perhaps? Some stray facial hairs?  Big hands and/or feet?

Outside of Colorado, most have never heard of my little hometown, unless they have a passing interest in "gender reassignment surgery"....  or Gunsmithing school.

1980 something something...

To me, it's just where I spent my formative years.  It's just where I made friendships that have lasted a lifetime.  It's home.

And I don't know beans about Gunsmithing either.

Monday, December 3, 2012

who's this woman in my kitchen and what'd she do with me?

During the weekdays, it's "I'll just keep things relatively tidy until the weekend when I'll have time to REALLY clean"

Then the weekend comes and it's, "Aaaaah, time to just kick back and play... :)"

Suzy Homemaker I'm not.  Luckily, I don't like messiness either, though, so the pain of cleaning and such usually overrides the pleasure of letting the house go completely to pot.

Yesterday morning I got up with the intention of getting things all clean and trig (new word I learned over the weekend that has nothing to do with triangles - just had to use it!).  But then came the walk with the husband and dog, the Bronco game, the lovely bike ride, the book...

I got up this morning with the house in pretty much the same disarray it was in yesterday morning.

Years ago, I ran a daycare out of our home.  I cooked and cleaned every day.  Toys were neatly organized in their respective cubbies, children's books and videos arranged nicely.  Healthy snacks and lunches were readily available.  What happened?

The difference then was that the daycare was my Business.  Keeping the house clean and well organized and stocked was my "profession".  I had paying clients that expected these things.

I was thinking about that this morning.  How I was more motivated to keep the house nice and comfy for "outsiders".   Why should things be different than for just the family?

Now that the tutoring schedule has slowed down to a nice zen fountain rather than the fire hose it was for a while there, I've got more time to tend to the hearth.  This morning, I gave the kitchen a little TLC - scrubbed some grime, buffed and wiped and dusted.

I even cooked a big batch of these little tortilla things I used to make all the time.  I had to go hunting for my whole wheat flour and found it at the bottom of the freezer.  It was two years old.

Still, don't expect a total metamorphosis to the neighborhood Martha Stewart.  That is definitely not in the cards.  If I find her, though, I might invite her over.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Silver Liningness Sunday

It was actually nice to get back to the grind after Thanksgiving Week of Sloth.  If we didn't have the grind, the Weeks of Sloth wouldn't be special.

The weather has been unseasonably warm and dry.  We need snow, but at the same time, it's hard to complain about sun and temperatures in the 60's.  It's probably my fault, from buying all that warm stuff for the crosswalk.

Magnum and I have been keeping up with the workplace health incentives and have begun receiving our cash rewards.  We even received new pedometers for getting even more rewards.  Will Christmas be fully funded with work health incentive cash this year??  Doubt it, but we'll see!

On that note, Meego is lobbying for a trial bike.  They're for doing parkour-like things while on a bicycle.  Looks fun, is not at all very practical, and the bikes are crazy expensive considering they each have only one gear and no seat.  Still... maybe if he lets me play with it?

Meet my friend Brother Harry.  Harry and I used to work together as desk agents at the sex-change town hotel many years ago.  I was studying to be an engineer, he was studying to be a Jesuit Priest.  He had some of the best dirty jokes...

It so happened that our boss and I shared the same first name.  She went through a "slutty period" involving the hotel, so Harry gave me a new name, which he still endearingly refers to me today.

I am now a retired engineer, and Bro Harry is a much loved Jesuit.  He still lives in my hometown, of which he is pretty much the pope, if hometowns had such things.

This is a pic of him at the recent tree-lighting ceremony.  I thought it so cute, he makes the Silver Lining post pic this week.

Harry Christmas!

Saturday, December 1, 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "Stretch", so I drew this tall, skinny person.  oops.

I'm not all that familiar with Sumo wrestling, but from what I do know, it's an intriguing ancient martial art in Japan.  With that, it's highly ritualized and includes:

"... both step back into the ring, squat facing each other, clap their hands, then spread them wide (traditionally to show they have no weapons). Returning to their corners they each pick up a handful of salt which they toss onto the ring to purify it."

Would you get mad at this guy for spilling some salt on your floor?  I wouldn't.