Thursday, October 31, 2013

and then there were three

L to R:  Abby, Meego, Magnum

The guys got on the stick so we have three jack-o-lanterns to adorn the front stoop.  We told Meego he's too old for trick-or-treating, but he's out roaming the neighborhood without the candy begging part.

I didn't see any costumes at school today.  Then again, college kids can be very individual in how they dress, so maybe I did see some costumes and didn't know it.

So far, we've had a good steady flow of traffic - cute little kids, still in the excited and polite years.  Now that it's approaching 8 o'clock, the older more obnoxious ones will probably start appearing.

I'm sad to see October come to an end - such a nice time of year.  Today in my teaching class, we did an activity that is meant to help students understand the reason we have seasons.  I was cast in the role of  "Fall".  A happy role for me as I dutifully tipped my head, just so, towards Polaris.

Now, onward toward winter.  I for one,  plan to not shave my beard for all of  "Movember".


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

'tis the season

I drove all over town to get THE perfect pumpkin!

Well, okay, actually, I CALLED all around about a 5-mile radius to find a store that still had ANY pumpkins.  Then I went to the ONE that said, "Yeah, we got a few, but they're being pilfered fast!"

It was slim pickings, but we scored three nice ones!  Nothing like last minute pumpkin gettin' to make Halloween interesting.

Yeah, Halloween is tomorrow already!  I did remember to get candy a few days ago.  But Meego reminded me, I think it was just yesterday, that we didn't have any pumpkins yet, so we went on our pumpkin-gettin' mission after school today.  MINE is carved, what are Meego and Magnum's excuses?

Actually, Magnum's cleaning up dinner - more power to him - and Meego went to go help a friend get the friend's fat suit working.  

Speaking of fat suits, hear about that woman planning to give don't-eat-candy letters to obese trick-or-treaters?  How does that even become a news story without her promoting it?  COUGH*attention hound*COUGH.  And what about the kids dressed in fat suits or other non-revealing costumes??  Meego's fat suit friend, for instance, is actually a little athletic dude.

OH the logistics involved!  I'm dishing out candy.

Years ago, we lived down the street from a dentist.  He gave out toothbrushes.  I, for one, appreciated that and always made sure to hit his house.

I just checked the weather forecast for tomorrow night. and it doesn't look too bad except for maybe people out dressed like Tarzan or Miley Cyrus.

Are you dressing up?  Giving out treats?  Shunning the whole thing as being of the Devil?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Silver Liningness Sunday

This has been a week of friendly responsiveness.  I've already mentioned the very strange happenings at the DMV.  But there's even more!

Last week, I ordered a pair of warmups online and was asked to fill out the store's customer satisfaction survey afterwards.  Everything was good, except I dinged them on "delivery/tracking" because I was never able to get tracking information on my package.  Sheesh, I got an unexpected lengthy personalized response in less than 12 hours.

Yesterday, I e-mailed the help desk at my tutoring management site over some troubles with the online tools.  Again, I got a speedy personalized response.  Well, the problem's not resolved yet, but there's much to be said for a quick response.

Speaking of tuting, I finished up with Son of Cookie Lady and The Princess this week.  Their tests were yesterday.  Son of Cookie Lady was an interesting student.  He's on the autism spectrum and is very intelligent, but sometimes gets lost in tedium.  He repeatedly impressed me with his grasp of deeper meanings, but then would turn around and say something like, "Why do they ask that question?  I wouldn't ask that question.  I would ask..." or "Why do they use this word this time, but another word on that other question?"  I'm interested to learn how he did, and wonder where he will be twenty to thirty years from now.

So I'm looking forward to more time for family and school and grateful to be financially able to cut back on work.  I've said "No" three times in three weeks!  I'm having fun playing with the new camera and taking some sloth tips from Reese.

Reese says, "Lovin' my new chunk o' driftwood!"

It was also nice to enjoy a short but sweet visit from brother Guano this week, and grateful that he was able to check on our elderly parents too.

The fall weather continues to be wonderful.  A friend of mine, who enjoys running, has been nursing an injury for two weeks and hasn't been able to enjoy the lovely running conditions.  She's grumpy, but as she says, the bright side is "My Halloween costume is making itself!", reminding me that I'm grateful to be able to play outside.  


Saturday, October 26, 2013

won't you be my neighbor?

Fall is my favorite season.  It's a beautiful fall day today.  I was doing homework, and it was strangely fun, but Magnum, Meego, and China were all outside.  Pout.

I grabbed that new camera and went out for some playtime while the menfolk "worked".


Thursday, October 24, 2013

wait... what?

I packed for the occassion:

  • Novel I'm currently reading
  • Nexus 7 tablet, fully charged
  • Full water bottle
  • Notebook and pencils

I was prepared.  Today was the one we'd designated as DMV afternoon.

I picked Wolfgang up at the appointed time.  He approached the driver's side, asking to drive.

"Nope, we have to keep this as painful as possible", I explained, "to further etch the experience into your brain so you don't lose your driver's license again".  Even though I'd prefer not to drive, this was a teaching moment.  We did what we had to do.

We arrived and Wolfgang told the touchscreen why we were there, and it spit out a number.  We looked at the printout, estimated waiting time was 23 minutes.  Wowza, sounded good to me!

We found seats and Wolfgang left for the restrooms.  I don't even think my butt cheeks were fully into sit mode when I disbelievingly heard what kinda sounded like our number:  L508.

I looked again at the slip of paper:  L508

I looked at the wall mounted monitor:  L508

I sat transfixed, staring at the monitor as the automated voice repeated the number:  L508

Then an inner voice said, "Damn you, GET UP!  Before they say L509!!"

I grabbed my bag o' stuff and practically ran to the designated station.

"Yes... we just got here....   he's in the bathroom...",  I stammered

"You're here to replace a lost license?", he asked, looking bored.

"Yeah, he's in the restroom.  I have his birth certificate", I said pantingly and slapped the document on the counter, hoping to keep the bored DMV man occupied so he wouldn't say something like, "Step aside while I take the next person"

As Mr. DMV clicked away on his keyboard, I covertly texted Wolfgang, "WE'RE  UP!"  under the judgemental eye of the "No cell phones" sign.

I'm still in a bit of a shocked state.  I have spent HOURS of my life at that very DMV in the past.  Going for snack runs, doodling the ankle bracelet tracking devices of various criminals, playing endless games of hangman as the phrases became more and more violent toward all things DMV.

Wolfgang too.  "I told my friends I'd be gone for like three hours".  We were in and out in about 15 minutes.  It almost felt wrong.

We hightailed it to the parking lot and drove off before some mistake was righted, and we were corraled like captive beasts.  Like before.

Something's wrong with that DMV now.  I'm scared to go back.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

guess who's coming to dinner!

Brother Guano graced us with his presence, briefly.  And no, he didn't really come for dinner, but it seemed like a better title than "guess who's coming to crash on the futon!"

Just one of those passing-through-the-state visits.  Short but sweet and better than nuthin'.  I was glad my Tuesday class is in the afternoon, although if it were a morning class, I'd have good reason to ditch.

I played a bit with the new camera that I still haven't played with nearly enough (like, really, at all).  Note the grainy photo.  Back to the drawing board.  But still, I had to record the blogworthy event, since he's one of the sort of readers and cast of characters around here.

I thought I would also slap the photo on my facebook since a good number of my fb friends know Guano from our growing up days.  facebook kept trying to tag him as Wolfgang.  Really?

And speaking of Wolfgang, he lost his driver's license.  No, not as in had it taken away, but as in "had it at Elitch's (amusement park), didn't have it after".  *sigh*  You know what that means...



I said I'd take him this week since he doesn't have a car.  How ironic.  Since he's under 21, he's got to go to the Teens and Criminals DMV for a replacement.  Here I thought I was done with that place until Meego is of age.

So I'll take him.  Maybe HE'LL stay for dinner.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Silver Liningness Sunday

I was paying some bills, but writing the silver lining blog post sounded like more fun.

Another good week of course.  It's even good to have bills to pay I suppose.  And last night I had a dream that I was on a chartered airplane going someplace fun, except the plane didn't have a bathroom.  WTH?

Anyway, I visited another PEO chapter this week.  I'm starting to feel a little impatient with just visiting and want to settle down with one of them soon, but I really should give them all a fair shake.  I've narrowed it down to five chapters, based on their meeting times, and I've visited three.  Sheesh, it's like The Dating Game.

School's going well.  I think I've settled into the whole student thing now, just in time to start setting up my schedule for the next semester.  I'm taking part 2 of the math class I have now and I'm torn between continuing with my same instructor, whom I like, or switching to a different instructor with a better time slot.  Sheesh, more Dating Game!

I mentioned Napolion's first trip to the vet's.  I still don't know if he's responsible for my flat tire, but I'm keeping an eye on him.  Speaking of tires, I had a lovely autumn bike ride this morning and decided to bring the helmet cam along.

I took a spin over passed MouseTown*.  Weather was beaut, but it's changing fast.  More snow in the forecast for tonight.   I didn't see any rare mice, as usual.  Here's the minute-and-a-half version:

*Local Preble Jumping Mouse preserve


Saturday, October 19, 2013

I can't complain... today

I took Napolion for his first vet visit this week.  He was overdue for some shots, but I wanted him to come to like us before I whisked him to the torture place.   The time had come.

He almost seemed to enjoy it.  Our two previous cats were strays that never really lost their wildness.  Cat carriers, car rides, vet offices were NOT welcome parts of their worlds.  Napolion took it all as just another part of his day.

So it was all going smoothly.  Meego was with me as he had a day off school, and we arrived a little early as instructed to fill out paperwork for the new patient.

As we were in the waiting room, the receptionist was on the phone.  It was clear from her side of the conversation that she was discussing having a pet euthanized.  I was pretty sure the client on the other end of the conversation was upset and crying.   It was going something like this:

Receptionist:  Do you want to be in the room with her?

-----   No, that's fine.  You can just drop her off and we'll take care of everything.

-----  Why don't you bring her in around 5:00...

-----  Yes, I know...  Well, 18 years is a long time, that shows how well she was cared for.... I know, but their bodies just can't last much longer than that...

----  It's okay, we'll take care of everything.... yes.... 

----  Okay.... okay..... yes.... Okay, you should just bring her NOW.

I was already feeling bad for this poor (I assumed) woman.  Letting a pet go across the rainbow bridge is never easy, and I got the feeling that she just wasn't prepared.

Later, we were in the examination room enjoying Napolion's antics with the tech.  Then the tech left to summon the vet and get the vaccines ready.  As we waited, the woman from the phone arrived.

Oh, the wailing, the sorrow in her voice.  She was really not in a good place.

Then I heard some small commotion followed by the receptionist's voice over the PA system into the back area, hailing a technician.

"I need you up front NOW!"

There were more comforting words, more murmurings and wailing.  Things seemed to settle down a bit, then it was pretty quiet.  This was followed by

**whisper** I don't know.. **whisper ** she's going to...**whisper**whisper**we'll have to..**

Eventually our tech returned, followed by the vet.  She apologized for the wait, they'd had an "emergency".

No problem.

Then we watched as our young, healthy, funny cat charmed everyone in the room while being put through the paces.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that one of Tessa's tires was flat.  I figured I'd run over some glass near the house because it didn't go flat while I was riding.  When I patched it, the hole was quite small, but enough to release all the air in seconds.

I remembered seeing Napolion playing with my bike after I'd come home that previous day.  Could he...?  Nah... could he?

Well, it's POSSIBLE that I popped your bike tire...

No problem.

This time.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

who needs clowns?

Walking home from one of my friends' house when I was about middle school aged was always a tense situation.  It was a bit of a canine obstacle course.

First up was the Doberman Pinscher that may or may not be outside, roaming free.  When I walked by his house, would I have to deal with him?  Running towards me?  Barking and frothing?  If they really could smell fear, I was screwed.

Assuming I survived that obstacle, about a block or so further were the Chow dogs.  A family bred them, and sometimes the mates were inside a fence, sometimes not.  They too would come after whomever should dare walk down the street passed their lair, black tongues a-flapping.

I don't know how many times I had to deal with these dogs.  And obviously, I survived.  In fact, as far as I know, they never actually attacked anyone other than with barking and scare tactics.   Still, when I was a kid, I was afraid of dogs.  All dogs.

I'm not sure why I had The Fear.  Maybe it was a result of our town's lax leash laws, but I just didn't like dogs at all.  Why would people want to have one or more living with them?

Somewhere, that all changed.  I can't put my finger on a specific time or event.  It just happened.  Maybe I just outgrew it like an allergy.

Now, I love dogs.  Their loyalty, their unconditional love, their expressiveness.

We lost sweet, playful Domino a few short years ago.  I still miss him dearly.  China isn't getting any younger either.  Still pretty active and healthy for an old lady, but we always have to include that "for an old lady" part.  

Now, I can't imagine NOT having a pooch around.  So, I'd like to say to the Doberman and the Chow Chows...

Sorry I hated you when I was a kid.  Thank you for not mauling.

For Mama Kat's Writing Prompt:

3.) Something that scared you when you were young...are you still afraid?


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

here we go

It was almost time to head to class, and I saw snowflakes.  Snowflakes?  Already?

Not a lot of them.  Nothing to really get much coverage, and it didn't look like they were going to invite many friends, but still, I draw the line at riding my bicycle to school in snow.  Especially since it's sort of the first snow, and drivers get a little weird about it.  As much as I try to avoid it, I do ride a portion of the way in traffic.

I decided to give it the eyeglass test.  "If I can tell it's snowing when I take my glasses off", I decided, "no bike".  So I took off my glasses and looked out the window.

No more snowflakes.

Then I looked at my fish aquarium and noticed that I can't see my freaking bubble curtain without my glasses either.  Maybe I should devise another test?

Eh... not today.

It seems a bit early.  We typically don't get snow or cold-enough-to-snow until about Halloween or a little later.  The last time we had a wintry October was just a few years ago.  That winter ended up with record snow amounts and so many snowdays for the schools that the kids had to tack on extra to the end of the year.

Snowdays kind of lost their luster after that.

I've gone through the clothes and swapped out short sleeves for long.  We put the heavy blanket on the bed.  I cleaned and prepped the swamp cooler for hibernation.  And tonight, a celebratory dinner:

Clean-out-the-fridge-and-throw-it-all-in-a-pot soup.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Silver Liningness Sunday

Lovely sunny Sunday morning to all!  It was a bit chilly - mid 30's - when I headed out for a bike ride earlier.  The sun made it feel nice and friendly, but I did break out the foot jackets.

Another good week is in the books.  We're about halfway through the semester at the university.  Mid-term exams (I really only had one) went smoothly.  Grades were just posted, and I'm happy with how I did.  I felt that it went well, but there's always that nagging feeling that I'd done something stupid that messed everything up after the stupid thing.  pffffft.  math.

Meego had his first middle school band concert this week, so here's the token grainy cell phone pic from the cheap seats:

They sounded really good, and their progress is noticeable.  The band program has dwindled over the years, and is not as big as it was when Chaco and Wolfgang were there.  In fact, I noticed that we didn't need to sit in the cheap seats as there were better ones still unoccupied.  But Meego is used to us sitting in this spot, so we assumed our positions so he'd see us when they made the grand entrance.

I did a bit of grocery shopping with Wolfgang yesterday.  Always nice to spend some time with either college boy, even if just selecting pop tarts.

And I'd already mentioned the backpack and stuffings I won earlier this week.  Wolfgang confirmed that, yes, the orangish thing in the photo is a plastic food container.  It's still a mystery as to why it's shaped like a fat peanut.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


We had mid-term exams this week.  Gosh, I haven't taken a mid-term since... who knows?!  Oh well, I think I held my own okay.  I'm starting to get used to this college kid thing.

As a result of mid-terms, I found myself without much homework.  What to do with my Saturday morning??  I ended up taking a stroll over to my previous Saturday morning stomping grounds - the right side of my brain - to do this watercolor pencil sketch.

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is "moustache".  Does anyone know the reason for the popularity of the black handlebar moustaches popping up everywhere?  I got a kick this week out of this photo from the local humane society's surgery team on my facebook page:

I think they were removing a dog's manliness at the time.  A little facial hair ode to testosterone?  

May it rest in peace.  

Friday, October 11, 2013


Back when I use to teach LSAT (law school admission test) prep classes, we liked to play around with courtroom words like, "Objection!"  "Irrelevant!"  "Sustained!"  "Overruled!"

I never really thought about what "sustained" meant. It was just the judge's way of saying, "yeah, okay, I agree with ya".  So I guess that goes with it's broader meaning - to support and maintain.

This week, I got an e-mail from the Office of Sustainability at the university.  Seems they were the sponsor of the Bike Jam that kicked off a few weeks ago.  They do things to help the university (and beyond) be environmentally friendly.

I just remembered Bike Jam kickoff day.  I arrived on campus and there were some friendly booths set up with some freebies - water bottles, trail maps, and the like.  There was food.  There were signs advertising "Free Bike Parking Today!"  Bicycle parking is always free, they just wanted to make a dig at the horrendous commuter parking situation.

I registered, got some freebies, parked my bike for free.

Anyways, Bike Jam apparently came to a close.  The e-mail said I came in third (squeee!).  Come get a prize!

So yesterday, I went to the Office of Sustainability in all my third place glory to get my prize.  It was.......  drum roll......  a cute Patagonia Chacabuco backpack!  There was even some stuff in it.


Well, I bicycle to campus (Remember?... Bike Jam?... Third place?)  .  I wear a backpack.  I only have one back.

"No problem", said the nice Officer of Sustainability.  "We'll hold on to it for you, pick it up anytime".

Don't get me wrong.  It really is a sweet prize and I appreciate the whole Bike Jam and sustainability efforts, but I found it ironic that my bicycle commuting hampered my efforts to accept my bicycle commuting prize.

Back home, I texted Wolfgang and told him the situation and asked, "You think you want it?"  He just needed to walk over to the building and pick it up.  I'd tell them I was sending him as my agent.

No need to twist his arm.  He picked it up and texted me pics once it was back in the dorm.

My thought process in offering it first to Wolfgang went something like this:

-Chaco has two or three backpacks, one that we just got him for his birthday.  Plus, he tends to shy away from "granola" brands like Patagonia.  Plus, he scarfed up our ex-camera the second he heard we got a new one.  

-Meego still lives here with Magnum and me.  He already has access to the cornucopia of good stuff, plus we regularly provide his small zoo with mice and crickets to eat.

-Wolfgang it was.  

Dilemma solved.  I wonder what he'll do with the yogurt cookbook?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

who's moving it?!

It was dark.  We really had little choice of it, since there was no electricity.

We lit a candle.  I don't remember where it came from.

We didn't have any furniture yet, just a few boxes.

There was a bag.  A paper sack.  We ripped it into individual pieces.

On each piece, we wrote a letter of the alphabet.  Two more pieces for "yes" and "no".

We arranged the letters in a circle on the bare countertop.

Then there was this cheapo piece of metal, like a disposable ashtray or something.  We bent it to fit our needs.

I don't remember the questions.  

The answers, though, were getting creepy.

Then "we" started to spell something.

Midway, Guano blew all the bits of paper sack, scattering them off and around the countertop.

We all shook our hands about, as if we'd just seen a...

SH*T!  Turn on the lights!....  CRAP!!

I'm losing it with Mama Kat again this week.

2.) Spooky! Tell us about your encounter with a Ouija board!

...not that I believe any of that Ouija stuff... heh....

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Silver Liningness Sunday

Greetings on this lovely Sunday!  Nothing like bad things to make us appreciate the good.  Friday was sooper dooper windy, so today's calm is all the more sweet.  But also on Friday, as I was fighting a 30 m.p.h. headwind during my bike ride home, I was thinking about this local bicyclist who got lost and bumped her head and... and... well, "difficult rides" are also relative.

I mentioned yesterday's Cool Science Festival.  It was a fun geek fest!  When I got the e-mail reminding me that I'd volunteered to represent the UCCSTeach display, I was briefly, "why did I do that?"  But it really was a fun thing to be a part of.  Cute kids of all ages.   Also, it was kind of nice to hang out with a few instructors and fellow students and get to know them a little better.

My favorite mirror layout was probably from this one guy - clearly post-pubescent judging by his beard - who arranged the mirrors in a Stonehengian circle that led the laser beam right to the target.

But the little kids who struggled and then overcame the thing were equally fun.

And this Praying Mantis showed up and obviously took a shine to one of our microscopes:

He wins the "Most Popular Geek Fest Volunteer" award for our group anyway.  

It was a nice day for it, and it was well attended.  Chaco stopped by for a while - he needed Magnum for an errand - so it was nice to literally bump into him.  Meego ended up helping volunteer at our booth after making the rounds.  

In other silver liningness news, I got my new glasses yesterday.  As the technician fitted them to my face, nose, and ears, she commented that I'd gotten the best lenses they sell.  Yeah, tell me about it --> $$$.  I figured after five years, I'm worth the upgrade.

Happy October!  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I've not been furloughed!

It's a rip roaring exciting Saturday night.  What're you doing?  I'm catching up on blog reading, where did the week go??  I've really not been here since Wednesday?  

Today was kind of fun, there was a "Cool Science Festival" held on the university campus with lots of different science-y displays and activities.  I didn't get to see any of them because I was working the laser table (bounce a laser off of various mirrors, make it hit a target, amaze your friends)  for our UTeach department.  But Magnum and Meego tagged along and made the rounds while I was being all Carny.

A nice way to end the week/start the weekend, but it's also nice to be sitting here catching up with the blog friends.  So days have gone by in a seeming blink, but I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

try not to miss me

At first, when he moved back from the dorm last summer, it was an adjustment for me to get used to not having as much space as I prefer.  I've mentioned that I'm a minimalist.  He's doesn't really buy into the minimalist lifestyle.

And that's okay, I knew we would be just fine.  It would just be for the summer, and so I wanted to make the most of having him home.

I grew used to seeing him in the kitchen in the mornings, brewing up something good for breakfast.  Just knowing he was there, at home, each day, was comforting.  Plus, he helped me out, doing work around the house that saved me time.

As the end of summer approached, I had to brace myself for him leaving again.

"It's good he's going back", I would tell myself.  "I'll miss him, but it's where he should be".

But as the day of his departure got closer and closer, I felt myself becoming more uncomfortable at the thought of watching him go.  What had started out as encroachment into "my space" had become the filling of a void I didn't know existed.  I really, really didn't want him to go back.

I told myself, it was my duty as a mother to let him go.  We intended for him to be at college from the start, and that's where he would be.

And then I said, "screw it already, I'm getting another one for home".