Wednesday, January 28, 2015

next door

Our neighbors to the south of us.  They've got 5 kids, but it seems as though the oldest has moved somewhere - haven't seen her for a while.  I think she has a bio mom outside the home.  Anyway, they have the five kids, tons of local relatives, also with kids.  They have, I think, three dogs, some chickens, a coupla cats, and some "herptiles".

They can be noisy.  They generate lots of trash.  Their little pomeranian can be a noisy pain in the ass at times...

Today, I noticed a "For Sale" sign up in their yard.





Our neighbors to the south of us.  They've got 5 kids.  Four girls and a baby boy.  They're all cute kids.  The girls are active and kind of tomboyish and don't take any crap from the boys in the neighborhood.  When I worked at the elementary school, I worked with two of the girls.  They were funny and friendly and smart and entertaining and never boring.

I always enjoy our brief conversations.  They're just very down-to-earth people. They are animal lovers and their pets are active members of the family.  They're newest pooch has only three legs - a rescue dog, I think.

Today, I noticed a "For Sale" sign in their yard.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Silver Liningness Sunday

Greetings on this warm Sunday!  Can you hear the snow melting? Yes, fresh snow is pretty, but after a couple of days, it becomes a crusty annoyance.  I'm happy for the melting.

This was another nice week, and I took a photo so we can play a little "I Spy" for the good-things post.  Not to worry, it should be super easy.

First of all, the new semester began this week, so it's nice to be back to learning stuff.  I'm liking my classes.  I know it's only been one week, but things look promising.  

Then there's that university Pedal Perks program for bicycle commuters.  It continues with the new semester, but I learned that not only do they give out prizes each month, but they gave out big semester prizes at the end of the last one.  And I was a weiner again!  I got a $150 gift certificate to a local bike shop and a $5 gift card to a another local shop thrown in for good measure.   Sheesh, generous!  On top of that, they gave out bicycle computers to all participants.  Nothing fancy, no GPS or such, just a small unit to track speed and distance, but it's free and cute!

In other news, remember the Christmas crud that moved through the family?  I managed to avoid it for the most part, but I did have this irritatingly hacking cough for a week or so.  I'm glad to be done with that, but it seems to have left an injury to my rib cage (bastard!).  I'm no stranger to rib injuries, but that doesn't mean I like them.  There's not a whole lot one can do about them other than ride them out, so that's what I'm doing.  In the meantime, I found some free samples of Performance pain relief gel in our drug stash.  I think they were included in one of my race packets from last year.  Usually, I just chuck that stuff, but apparently I decided to keep these.  Yay.

Last fall, I had a tutee who is a local basketball standout.  No "dumb jock", he's also a good student and just a nice kid from a nice family.  He needed to raise his test scores to open up more scholarship opportunities, and he worked hard for me.  I remember telling him, "Get 'er done on the tests, sign with that college, then you  can enjoy this basketball season and the rest of your senior year."  He seems to be following through on all of that, and yesterday his team was featured in a story in the paper for beating a rival school that hadn't lost a division game in five years!  It's always nice for me to learn about former students going on to do good things.  "A" is a team captain, and the photographer got a nicely timed photo of him to accompany the story.

In movie news, Magnum and I watched "Better Living through Chemistry".  Nothing life altering, but fun entertainment enough with a few nice lessons.  You can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone...

Thanks for playing along!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

dogging through the snow

When I was in middle school, I rode a bus to school.  Our bus stop was down the street in front of another family's house.  The family was from California, and their kids also rode our bus.  The rest of us would show up well before the bus arrived so as to not miss it, but the kids in the house could wait until the bus arrived before coming out.

We would wait outside, and we could see the kids in the bus stop house watching TV while eating cereal.  When the bus rounded the bend, we outdoor kids would automatically line up in our public school Pavlovian fashion, signalling to the insiders that it was time for them to come out.

Until one day.  One day, as we waited, it started to snow.

The bus stop house kids came running out, all awestruck.  They didn't have jackets on yet, but they just kept looking around in wonder.

"It's snowing!", they exclaimed the obvious.

The rest of us were all, "Yeah?  So?"

But then we realized.  Those kids had never known snow before that.  Certainly they'd heard of it and seen it on TV and such, but that was their first experience.  I remember that moment vividly. It was interesting to me to see someone my age encountering something for the first time.  Something I took for granted.  I have no memory of the first time I saw and felt snow, it's just always been around.  But those kids... they were totally rapt.

A few years ago, Wolfgang had a friend, also from California, who'd never seen snow before.  On our first snow day from school, he came over very early in the morning, wanting to play in it.  He had on a jacket, but no gloves, no hat. He soon learned.  Near hypothermia is a good teacher.

This morning we woke up to fresh fluffy snow, and I was remembering those kids experiencing snow for the first time.  Yeah, it's messy.  It's cold.  It limits our activities.  But it's also pretty and kinda fun.  I dragged China out for a walk.  She used to love a good romp in the snow, but as she's gotten older, "love" has been demoted to "like".  Good enough.

China looking forlorn.  Or maybe it's just me projecting:

Oh, who's she kidding.  She still loves it!


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Silver Liningness Sunday

With this weekend comes the end of what turned out to be quite an eventful winter break.  In the end, it's all good, and "as it should be".  Now, I'm actually looking forward to getting back into the routine swing of things.  I did take on a new tutee over break, so that has helped to keep me somewhat on my toes and from turning too mushy.

This week was a pleasant one.  I had a nice visit with my dad and things wrapped up with Mom.  My dad was "prepared", but of course, misses her.

In the other direction in the family tree, Chaco turned 21 this week.  How can we have a 21-year-old "kid"!?  He and a friend took a trip to Los Angeles to visit another friend.

Some back story:
When Chaco was a freshman at the university, he had 3 roommates.  One was a buddy from high school, and the other two were random picks by the roommate gods.  Random1 was tolerated for a year, but Random2 became a good friend.  Also, Random2 had another good friend, an upperclassman at the university.  They'd met through online gaming.

Soon, Chaco was hanging out quite a bit with Random2, whom we shall call "Flop" because that's kinda his name, and the friend, whom we shall call "Lite" because... yeah.

In year 2, the three were roommates along with Andrew, the buddy from high school.  Flop wasn't doing so well, however.  Flop became a poster child for the reason why one should not choose to go to college with the purpose of, "I have an online gaming friend at that one".

Flop flunked.

After three semesters, Flop returned to his home in Los Angeles to his angry affluent parents.  Now, a year later, the three are all still good friends through the magic of... naturally... online gaming.  Hence the fun trip for Chaco and Lite - a visit to Flop house, which from the description is nothing like a flophouse.

Wolfgang was enlisted to drive them to the Denver airport on Monday.  I wasn't too keen on Wolfgang navigating the colossal airport on his own and suggested that he have a friend go along.  Chaco's reply was, "Bringing one of his friends would only make things worse.  You should go!"

He had a point.

So anyway, it seems I spent a lot of time on the interstate this week - visiting Dad down south, driving north to the Denver airport and back, driving to the Denver airport and back again.  It was fun, though.  To be honest, I wasn't sure they'd want their mom to come along, which is why I suggested a friend.  But they all seemed to be at ease having me there.  I also enjoyed the one-on-one time with Wolfgang.

We picked up Chaco and Lite late last night.  They got all decked out for their traveling days - full power gear.  When Chaco showed up in his suit for the flight out, I asked, "Wha.... why are you dressed like that??"

"It's our 'easy access' gear.  No one questions a guy in a suit in an airport!".

I didn't ask what they might be questioned about, just went with it.  I managed to snap this pic on their return. It's not great, just a covert mom-shot in an airport.

Chaco (L), Lite (R)
Airport men of business, don't ask questions

So, a good week bringing a good break to a close.  Thankfully back to the grind.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

ten years a citizen

In February of 2005, my mom became a U.S. citizen.  For all of my years growing up, she'd always said she wasn't interested in becoming one, she was fine with her "alien" status while remaining a citizen of the Philippines.

So when she mentioned that she was jumping through the various hoops toward citizenship while in her 70s, I was feeling a bit protective.  Was she planning to go on exotic travels?? NOW??

Thankfully not (because if she did, I probably wouldn't have slept a wink the whole time). Recall that after 9/11, "aliens" were scrutinized a little harder, sweet and fully legal or not.  We actually knew of a couple who were sent packing.  I'm sure my mom wasn't at any risk of being deported, but I guess for her sake, she decided to be safe.

The day of the ceremony was a fun one.  Mom had gone up to brother Hagrid's the day before, then Hagrid drove her to Denver and I met them at the venue.  Guano didn't make it, probably off fighting the wars somewhere.

It was actually quite nice.  I was expecting the thing to be rather dry - a monotone reading off of names as each new citizen stood to get their official documents.  Now, ten years later, it's all a bit blurry, but I remember a video that made us feel all patriotic, a speaker who had herself recently become a citizen and had found wonderful success, and of course, my brother Hagrid quietly making funny comments.

As this was happening, I looked over the crowd of pending new citizens, about 50 or so.  There was a good variety of ages and nationalities. And there was mom, impeccably and appropriately dressed as always.  She'd always had such a strong fashion sense, knowing just what to wear for any occasion.

Side note:  for my wedding, she didn't even shop for a "mother of the bride" dress, just looked in her closet and said, "I think I'll wear that blue one".  It was perfect.

Side side note:  I did not inherit this trait.

ANYWAY, it was a nice ceremony, and when it was done, Mom was already friends with a few fellow new citizens as well as the immigration official who'd sworn them in.  I remember the official kept saying nice things about "Josefina", since that's the name on my mom's paperwork, although she'd never gone by Josefina.  My mom was Pining, (peh-NEENG), which is the my-friends-call-me version of Josephine in the Philippines.

We snapped a few happy pics afterwards.  I've got a few with Hagrid too, but recall that he needs to remain all  mystery man, so I'll just post the above pic...

For Mama Kat's prompt:

1. Find a photo of yourself taken 10 years ago and display it on your blog along with a current photo. How have you changed since the day that photo was taken?

I'm breaking the rules a bit by not posting a current photo - y'all know what I look like now, right?  And as far as how I've changed?  Well, I miss Mom now, but I'm still ever proud to be her daughter.


Monday, January 12, 2015

digging to China

Heh.... get it?

Okay, never mind.  It's just the cabin fever talking.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sivler Liningness Sunday

I expected to be at my dad's today, after not making it there on Friday after not making it there on Wednesday.  Here I sit.

Mom was cremated, and we didn't have a public service.  I was going to get her ashes on Wednesday but the state was covered in ice and my dad didn't have the ashes yet anyway.  Plan B was Friday, but once again our state was covered in ice and Dad didn't have the ashes.  Today was plan C.  No ice, but no ashes either.  Plan D - tomorrow.   Snow is forecast.  Of course.

But all in all, it was another good, productive week.  Thanks to the icy times, my house has been fully de-holidayed and meticulously cleaned.  Being shut in does weird things to a person.

This activity also included tidying up after having all of the kids and their various electronics at home.  Somehow, a lone computer tower has bubbled up, like a lone sock from the laundry.  Whose is it?  Where did it come from?? And more importantly... where am I supposed to put it?!

We had a PEO meeting yesterday, and I want to share something that I hope readers won't mind.  A member of our chapter died totally unexpectedly at the end of December.  The timing so close to my mom's passing is why I say I hope no one minds, because I don't want this to come off as a "blog of death"!

Thing is, Bev's passing was in total contrast to my mom's.  Bev was young, energetic, active, "full of life".  She was a school teacher and very inspiring to me in my own teaching endeavors.  She'd had a lower back injury a while back and successfully treated it with a chiropractor.

So when her lower back started bothering her in early November, she attributed it to the earlier injury needing some straightening out again.  Back to the chiropractor.  Except this time, it wasn't getting any better.

She visited her GP to see what other options she had, and ended up being diagnosed with - BAM - late stage colorectal cancer.  She died just about a month after the diagnosis.

My PEO chapter, along with Bev's other friends and family members, are still in a bit of a state of shock.  But yesterday's meeting was nice in that it was a means for us to gather and process this together and support each other.  As sad as it is, it's brought us even closer.  PEO is, by definition, an extremely supportive organization, and something like this really brings that quality out.

I mention it because I was looking back at last year's posts to see if I'd made any New Year's resolutions that had typically gone forgotten.  Lo and behold, I found that I had resolved to "hook up" with a local PEO chapter after several years of inactivity on my part.  Whaddya know?  I did it!

As for this year, I haven't really made any specific resolutions yet.  Just going with it.

Thanks for coming along!  Take care of  yourselves!


Monday, January 5, 2015

on a lighter, lower note

Thank you, everyone, for your comforting comments and thoughts regarding Mom.  It's truly a help.  As "they" say, life goes on.  And it's not all ham and jell-o*.

Meego's school is back up and operating, but students don't return until Wednesday, so he's still in lazy mode.  Extracurriculars are back on track, though, and Meego is in the Winter Percussion Ensemble playing bass guitar.  They have practice today.

It's a gloomy, grey day here.  I was sitting here finishing up a draft of Mom's obituary for my dad to look over.  On top of that, Magnum was home from work, still nursing his case of The Crud, slinking around like our own resident Quasimodo.

So when Meego asked if I would take him to the guitar store, I was happy for a change of place.  He had Christmas money burning a hole in his pocket, and he'd been stalking a new bass guitar.  Off we went.

What a nice little change of place it was.  Checking out all the guitars, being with other people plucking and test driving.  I've been there before with him, but I guess I appreciated the diversion more this time.

I even snatched this rare photo of Meego's orthodontiated teeth!  As rare as a Bigfoot sighting!

The outing was an utter success.  Meego got the 5-string bass he wanted, and was able to trade in his 4-string for a nice chunk off the price.  

Me:  Aren't you going to miss... what is your bass's name?

Meego:  No, the new one's much better!

Me:  But still, you've had good times with what's-his-name.

Meego:  {smirk}

Me:  Well, if you'd given him a name, you'd miss him...

...Kids these days.

Anyway.  It was fun.  And I don't know squat about guitars.

The store slogan was on the door when we walked in, and I thought it a bit of an overstatement.

But it actually wasn't all that far off.

*"ham and jell-o" is a term I think of for somber events that involve food.  A while ago, the husband of one of my P.E.O. sisters died, and she had guests coming in from out of town.  We wanted to help her out, but at first she declined.  One of the others said, "No, you just take it easy.  We're all about ham and jell-o!", and it has since stuck with all of us.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Silver Liningness Sunday

I'm grateful for many things this week.  But I guess, in general, I'm just grateful for life itself.  What a roller coaster ride it can be.  A wise man once told me, "Heaven sounds boring.  All our needs are met?  It sounds like a nursing home."

So as difficult and sad as life can sometimes be, I'm grateful for it.  It's what makes us human, I suppose.  And along with the difficulties come the many blessings.

Like Mom, such a blessing.  She quietly passed away early Saturday morning, such a loss.  She would have been 87 years old in a few weeks.

She'd been struggling with failing health for the last several months.  During my more recent visits, although responsive and never senile, she was always so tired, and slept a lot.  She and my dad had to move into their local nursing home last winter.  Dad is the "wise man" quoted above.

My mom is a native of the Philippines.  She met my dad during WWII, and they eventually moved to the states.  She once joked to me (although I'm not sure it was fully a joke) that she married Dad because she wanted a refrigerator.   I can vouch for my dad that he did, in fact, get her a few fridges.

She had no formal education beyond the eighth grade, but that never limited her achievements.  She raised us three kids, made many lasting friendships, worked devotedly at her job, and was an outstanding bridge player. She was invited to join P.E.O when I was four years old and has been my role model for my own charitable activities.

So although this was not an unexpected event, it's a final reminder of how much I was already missing Mom.  I look forward to the day when she and I can, once again, meet for lunch and go shopping.

The silver linings are that she was the best mom I could have asked for, and I believe she is happily home.

"God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers."
                                                                             ~Rudyard Kipling


Thursday, January 1, 2015

sliding into 2015!

We've made it to the start of yet another year. Welcome to the other side!  It came in here a bit appropriately like a lion.

After eating the biggest crab legs I've ever cooked - really, there was initial concern that we didn't have a vessel big enough to steam them! - we played cards until the witching hour.  For the Midnight Mile, Chaco was coming down with the crud, Magnum was battling the crud, and Wolfgang has just gotten over the crud, so went a-partying.  That left Meego and me as the sole milers, but Magnum and Chaco joined us in the arctic as our official recorders/photographers.

And it wasn't bad.  10 degrees when we headed out into the land of fireworks and snow, no wind to speak of.  A few slippery spots, but a good time, good time.

This morning, I woke up to sunny skies for another New Year's Day Rescue Run 10k.

The sunny skies didn't stick around, however, and we were soon under a thick cloud blanket.  Oh well!  It's New Year's day!  Let's be real!

As always, it was a good time at Palmer Park.  The course is very hilly and somewhat rugged.  I assessed my lot of running shoes and realized I have nothing remotely resembling trail shoes.  I put on my bald Brooks and headed out.

After about the first mile in, the snow started falling.  It was actually nice and gave the run a very festive feel, especially out there in the boonies on New Year's day.  It seemed the perfect way to spend the holiday morning!  Until we all had to drive home.  Yeesh, that was more challenging than the freaking race!

As expected, there was ice and snow to deal with.  One stretch of about a mile or so was particularly annoying, but I baby-stepped through so as to not necessitate an actual rescue during the Rescue Run.

My stats:
Time of 50:14 - my slowest ever on that course.
10th place overall for the ladies
1st place for the old ladies

So my time wasn't that great because of the ice and crap, but everyone else had to run through the ice and crap, so I'm happy with the overall standings.  Most of all, though, it's a fun race on New Year's day for a good cause.

And I'm liking this year's shirt.  See?

Here's my first place old lady medal.  Yep, pure solid gold...

I also won a coupon for a pizza and a couple of 3-day passes at 24-hour fitness.  That place is probably pretty quiet this time of year *sarcasm*.

Happy New Year!