Friday, December 30, 2016

What Happened?!

It's almost time to change the calendars.  I'm tired of hearing the people on the radio talk about all the famous people who died in 2016.  Yes, it's sad.  I get it.  Do we need to go through the list every day leading up the 2017? I think not.

Instead, I went through the archives to pick out some of my highlights.  Gotta love them archives:

Our 2016 started with a fun trip to Estes Park.

Dad's time on earth ended in February.  Not necessarily a highlight for me, but I'm hoping it was one for him.  He'd emphasized that he was ready, that he'd had a good life for nearly 92 years.

I miss him and Mom every day.

 I'm glad Meego enjoys extracurricularing in the high school band program.  If nothing else, it keeps him from wearing the same clothes all the time.

This year, I learned that I shouldn't donate blood, because it might kill somebody.  Oh well, I can take a hint.

Chaco graduated and has become a productive member of society (and he's off the parental dole, yay!)

Had a rip-roarin' good time at P.E.O. convention.  Looking forward to the next!

Third round of driving lessons...

Donald Trump made Wolfgang a news celebrity

A blog friend came to visit in real life!!

Followed by another one!!

We enjoyed a lovely morning of bloonz backdropped by the Peak

And I finally got around to climbing the Peak with Chaco.

A good marching band season...

...many more geocaches in the log...

                ...and grad program completion.
(no commencement ceremony for me, clipart it is)

Okay, 2017.  Bring It!


Thursday, December 29, 2016

gallons of ink

Remember the days before youtube?  I do, vaguely.  Heck, I remember the days before the internet.  And then came the early days of the internet, where pages took several minutes to load and contained only text.  Uploading images, sometimes not possible, could take hours.

Now, youtube says there are 300 hours of video uploaded every minute.

Personally, I mainly use youtube to help me solve some sort of problem rather than for entertainment.  When our microwave went on the fritz last week?  I learned what was wrong with it on youtube and how to fix it... which helped me determine that I should just go buy a new one.

So I don't subscribe to any channels, just search for stuff when I have a specific need.  Then there's the process of wading through the unhelpful videos to the good stuff.  That said, I'll give a shout out to global cycling network which has many well done videos that have saved me bunches of money  by helping me fix and maintain my bicycles myself.  Their bicycles are much  more high end than one I will ever own, but they do a good job of explaining everything, and I just happen to enjoy their accents.

Another fall back is TED talks.  I'll often stream videos that seem interesting to me while I'm completing some mundane bit of housewifery.  They have tons of content, much of which I don't care for, but I can usually find something interesting.

So, those are a couple of "Big Box Stores" of youtube, but I'd like to throw some applause to Peter Draws, by a youtuber named Peter who draws.  Surprise!!

There are a lot of videos of people drawing or painting or whatnot on youtube.  Some are tutorials and some are just "lookie what I made!".  Peter Draws videos aren't quite vlogs and aren't necessarily tutorials either.

He makes time lapse videos of himself drawing highly intricate... doodles, for lack of a better term.

Peter Draws
Peter Draws

 He then does voice-over commentary.  It's almost like a blog post, but it's a video.  It doesn't seem like the typical vlog, though, because it's just his words streaming while this drawings are forming.  He doesn't always talk about the drawing, just random thoughts - stuff that might be written in a blog post.

The audio is very clear, with no background noise pollution, unless he intentionally includes a bit of music.  And he takes care to provide good video quality.  We just see his hands moving around while the drawing takes shape.  In fact, he mentions in one of his videos that he typically goes out of his way to not let the paper move while he makes the videos.

That's not an easy thing to do.  I've made a few very amateurish videos of me drawing, and the paper  is annoyingly moving all over the place while my camera sits at a bad angle.

The resulting Peter Draws videos, I just find very relaxing.  While I don't sit back and just watch them, I often stream his videos while I'm doing some drawing for Illustration Friday, for example.  I don't know if I like his videos because I like to draw, or if I just like them because I like them.

I'll include the trailer for his channel here, readers can see what they think.  I'm interested to know.

I don't know him, he doesn't know me, he's not paying me to promote his channel.  I'm just answering a prompt.


Linking up with Mama Kat for the promt:
6. List your favorite YouTube channels.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

what I did for Christmas break

Christmas day was a lazy one.  It was super duper windy outside, so we all just hung out indoors ALL DAY.  Really, it was continuously gusting around 60 mph.  Several neighbors and I will be talking to the fence guy very soon.

In many ways, it was nice to be holed up in the warm house, since we'd spent the previous night, somewhat out in the elements.  We cooked and ate and cleaned up and lounged around and played board games and watched the Broncos lose.

Wolfgang went full-on cabin fever and cranked out this thousand-piece puzzle we received as a gift, in one sitting.

He admitted that the sky nearly did him in.

I took advantage and got in some enjoyable reading and contemplated future projects.  I decided I should know how to create animated gifs. Not sure why I decided that, it was probably a cabin fever suggestion.

So as the wind howled outside, I decided to learn something and thought of swirling clouds...

... or spinning ones

I suppose it's a start.  Of something not very big.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Rock II

I think of her as my first real blog friend.  She was actually the second person to comment on my infant blog, way back when.

The first person to comment vanished not long after she appeared, but "Allie" and I became good friends.  She's just one of those blog friends I feel quite certain I could be good friends with in real life too.

At that time, she had one son who was just a little older than Meego.  I found her very unpretentious, very what-you-see-is-what-you-get.  As a stay-at-home-mom, she provided a warm loving home for her family.

As with many from that "era", she doesn't blog anymore, but we've since connected on facebook and I enjoy hearing from her.  It was kind of weird to see recent high school senior photos she posted of her son.  Is he really that old?!

Like me, she doesn't post often, but last week, she announced that her man gave her an engagement ring for Christmas and popped the question.  Not surprisingly, she said, "Yes!!!!"

This man is her son's father, and they've been together all under one roof for as long as I've known Allie.  I never asked why they weren't married, and they seemed happy and loving enough that the legal document wasn't necessary.

So, it was kind of fun to see her flashing a photo of her engagement ringed finger and all those exclamation points after her "Yes".

As sometimes  happens, the prompt at Illustration Friday is going into a second week.  It's still "Rock", and darned if I was gonna draw another toad.  So, thanks to Tony and Allie for the inspiration.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy [state your holiday], blog people!

Merry Christmas!

I wasn't exactly sure how to open this post, since not everyone celebrates Christmas.  In fact, our family isn't necessarily Christian, but living in the society we live in, we celebrate something today.  And honestly, I'm just too lazy and non-politically correct to list all of the celebrations this time of year.  Just know I wish you the best!

We did end up doing our annual yay-we're-not-homeless!-appreciation camp out last night and woke to fresh snow on the ground this morning.  I'm not sure how cold it got, our tent and mummy bags kept us all pretty comfy after the fire died out.

Then this morning, of course, we had to make the arduous trek all the way back to civilization.  Here is Meego at barely the halfway point back to civilization:

So we're enjoying a nice holiday, and I'm appreciating my plumbed  house with central heat and electricity!

And also, since the family is probably expecting something special to eat today, I appreciate that I didn't have to go hunt something down and kill it.


Friday, December 23, 2016

nice to meetcha, intestinal protozoa!

The comma in the title is meant to separate items in a series.  It's not nice to meet intestinal protozoa.

A couple of months ago, we got a letter from our veterinarian informing us that she was retiring and had sold the practice to a nice new vet.  While I was a bit sad to see her go, it's nice that she can retire on her own terms with fun plans.  I'd guess she's in her mid 60's, and she's been our vet for the last 12 years through two dogs and three cats.

I took China in this week for her annual checkup, and so I met the new vet.  Her name is Bond, Dr. Bond... heh.  Anyway, I like her.  She seems very competent and personable and she spent a good amount of time getting to know China, the "old gal".

Honestly, after last  year's annual check, I'm surprised that China is still with us a year later.  Last year, we discovered liver problems associated with her age.  But she just keeps chugging along with no real indication of a desire to leave just yet.

So the vet called me with the follow-up this morning.  She "surprisingly" found that China is shedding giardia.  And I said, "Really?!" And the vet said, "I know, right?!"

Really, at her age, China spends the bulk of the days lounging on her bed.  We get her out for about a one-mile walk in the evenings, and she spends a bit of quality time in her dog run in the backyard each day.  I figured giardia to be for the more adventurous, but apparently not.

The good thing is, it doesn't seem to be making her very sick (knock on wood).  She's just a typical old lady dog.

So she's got some medicine to help "clean the pipes", and I gave her a bath.  These days, whenever I give China a bath, I think of Patrick Star:

Yeah, I sort of enjoy giving her a bath.  And I bet she's now got the cleanest dog butt on the block.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

ice skate you skate we all skate

It was sometime in the early '90s.  Winter of '91 or '92.  We lived in upstate New York and came to Colorado for a little Christmas vacay with Magnum's family.

I'd been on ice skates only once before in my life, when I was probably about 10 years old.  Back then, I was at the home of a friend who lived on a ranch with several ponds on the property.  We went skating on one of the ponds.  I'm sure I fell several times, but I remember thinking it was fun, and so different from what I'd seen on TV.

But this last time was different too.  This time we were on the much larger and smoother Keystone Lake.  I fell several times there too, and on a bigger scale, but as I recall it was all very fun on a lovely sunny Colorado winter's day.


But it's not about how good of a skater you are, everyone knows it's all about how you look while doing it.

We were skating with Magnum's brother, brother's wife, and their toddler daughter who is now in her late 20's.  My brother-in-law was wearing a very loud getup, fashionable for the time and the country where they lived.

My fashion sense was impeccable with my big 90's hair and awesome acid washed mom jeans when they weren't just for moms.

Interesting how much fashion changes in 25 years.  

Thank God.


Linking up again with Mama Kat for the prompt:
6. Tell us about the last time you went ice skating.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

what a poser

For a while, several years ago, I went to weekly yoga classes.  Chaco and Wolfgang were just little things, and Meego was still a future thing.  I ran a small daycare out of my house, and a friend of mine who had one small child and anxiety suggested we try some yoga.

Okay, why not!?  Sounded fun and different.

I remember the first class, it was an introductory class for total newbies.  Our instructor went around the room and asked us to share our reasons for being there.  There were the typical responses:  to improve flexibility, to improve balance, to calm the nerves...  I remember one guy's honest answer, "my wife made me".

My answer was equally honest, "I just want to get outta the house."

We continued going for several months.  I was pretty terrible at it - flexibility has never been a strong point of mine - but nonetheless, I enjoyed it and it got me out of the house for one or two evenings a week.

In the years since, I've dusted off the yoga mat a handful of times and flailed about on my own.  Feeling like I needed something new, I got the mat out this week and have been doing some youtube yoga.  Or rather, I've flopped and strained and collapsed while a serene person on my TV gracefully bends and extends - all the while, breathing deeply and speaking calmly.

How do they DO it!  I can barely breathe through most of it, let alone deeply.  Speaking coherently, let alone calmly, is out of the question.  I know I'm doing all kinds of wrong, but in the words of one yogi, "just be where you're at".

The other night, I pulled up a 15-minute "beginner vinyasa flow for detox", and thought it sounded like a good thing to do.  I went through the typical struggles and limitations and failings, but survived the 15 minutes, then drank a big glass of water as instructed since "this acts to wring you out like a sponge".

That night I had the weirdest dreams - nightmarish exorcism type stuff!  I was in the role of the possessed one, and was in some sort of hellish holding area, and the exorcist was coming for me.

I woke up all, WTH??

Later that day, the microwave began weirdly malfunctioning.  Then my watch died.

So, benefits of yoga?  A freed mind. And new appliances and electronics...

... unfortunately, not free.


Sunday, December 18, 2016


I remember the day we brought home the toads.  Meego had been researching and setting up a home for them.  The first pet store we went to had some, but they didn't look particularly healthy, so we went to another.

I remember the employee who helped us.  He said he'd just recently gotten the job and absolutely loved it.  He gathered up three lovely fire-bellied toads and had us fill out the paperwork - yes, there is "adoption" paperwork to complete for fire-bellied toads.

They seem to like it here.  We've had them for almost four years, and they bark and hump each other with happy frequency.  We think they're all males as they each take turns being humpee and humper and the population has remained at three.

This week's prompt at Illustration Friday is "rock".  My first thought was *ZZZZZZ*, but then I thought of the toads.  They are wonderful climbers.  Rock climbers.  Rock Star rock climbers?  In fact, I've named this one Rock, so he gets to star.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

festivities, women on stairs, and pantry tattoos

My P.E.O. chapter had our annual Holiday party this week.  Potluck dinner and lively gift exchange. All very festive, go Christmas.

During a break in the action, I asked if everyone would sit on the staircase for a "Von Trapp Family" photo.  I write a monthly newsletter for our chapter, so photos help liven things up.  Just as I was about to snap the pic, our hostess' husband arrived and offered to snap it so I could be included.

I attempted to get the ladies to go all mosh pit and transfer me up the stairs, but my request was denied.  Oh well.  This photo's resolution is bad enough to protect the innocents.  Blog, meet the chapter.  Chapter, blog.

The P.E.O. f@cebook page is full of holiday party pics.  Staircase shots are definitely in this year.  

We do a Yankee Swap gift exchange.  I personally don't put big hopes on what I'll end up with, it's just a fun thing to do.  Last year  I came home with a makeup kit.  I don't wear makeup.  Was someone trying to tell me something?

This year, however, I'm pleasantly pleased with our new little addition.  I've named him Charlie Cactus, and I'm determined that he not die on me (like most other plants in my care).  I've enlisted Meego's expertise on flora and fauna.  The life expectancy of his toads determined they would be long dead by now.  They seem to want to live forever in the swamp Meego maintains for them.

As you can see, Charlie's a bit lopsided at the moment.

There were a few non-P.E.O. guests that had come with friends, and as I was chatting with one, she noticed a tendril of tattoo sticking out from my not-long-enough-to-fully-cover-my-tattoo sleeve, and asked to see the whole thing.  

She mentioned that the friend with whom she'd come - let's call her "Sadie" - had a couple of lovely tattoos.  I looked to Sadie in surprise, because all this time I've known her, I didn't know Sadie was sporting tattoos.  I asked about the "whats" and the "wheres" and it was fun to learn how she'd decided on them.

Later, as we were cleaning up, Sadie pulled me into the pantry to show me a lovely tattoo of an  Indonesian woman (Sadie was born in Indonesia) and another tattoo depicting chickadees among cherry blossoms.  Both tastefully and nicely rendered.

I'd say they were in PG-13 areas, as the reveal only needed a bit of peeling of Sadie's top - upper boob and upper back - enough to make use of the pantry as opposed to a kitchen full of people.  

Sometimes it's funny to think back.  I became a P.E.O. because my mom was one.  Growing up, I usually had no idea what these women did, and they seemed so prim and proper.  When I was asked to join, Mom told me it was all good, so I figured it couldn't be all THAT prim and proper.  

Now I've been in P.E.O. for 31 years (sheesh!) and am enjoying rum Christmas cookies and swapping tattoo stories.  I knew it!


Linking up with Mama Kat again for the prompt:
7. Write a poem, post or story where the last three words are ‘I knew it’.


Monday, December 12, 2016


I'm not taking any notes today.  Just doodling in a spiral notebook.  It's not even my notebook, it's one of Meego's that was handy.

I thought I'd do this doodle for Illustration Friday, where the prompt this week is "spiral".

My class is finished.  It was the capstone class, which means I've completed the program. I got the program exit survey in my email today along with a reminder for commencement registration (not doing the ceremony - I'm a party pooper that way). It's kind of a weird feeling to done.

I actually finished a bit earlier than I'd originally expected.  I'm not desperate for a new job just yet, but it's nice to now have the degree and see what, if any, doors it will open for me.  In the meantime, I've got my tutor shingle back up for now, but tutoring's not really something I want to do for much longer.

So in the meantime meantime, I doodle in spiral notebooks.  I was going to do this doodle for the prompt, then remove it from the notebook after taking the pic.  But I think I'll leave it in there and just put the notebook back where Meego left it.  Something every teen aged boy wants to surprisingly find during class?


Thursday, December 8, 2016

I'm boring, don't follow me

Someday, we'll get this one!

Very recently, I opened an Instagram account.  Not because I feel a need to instantly share what I'm eating for lunch or what my cat is doing or an exciting selfie taken while alone in the car... No, I opened the account because it just happens that Instagram is the sharing platform of choice for the Geocaching mother ship and community.

Readers here know that Magnum and I took up geocaching a couple of years ago, and it's become a fun hobby.  Prior to taking it up, I had no idea how big a following it had.  There are some real zealots.  There are also some very exotic cache locations and creative containers.  For instance, there is apparently a cache on top of Mt. Everest.  It has the maximum ratings for difficulty and terrain.  Ya think!?

Might skip this one

So naturally, it's kinda fun to see where/what others are hunting and finding - for those who have an interest in the activity.

For those who don't have an interest... YAWN.

Which is why it annoyed me to learn that, as soon as I opened my Instagram account, it tried to hook me up with my f@book friends who also have Instagram accounts.  Not only that, but those friends were also alerted about my account, and I nearly instantaneously began receiving requests to "follow" me.

I felt I should allow them to follow, then I felt obligated to follow them back.  But, if we're already friends on fbook, I honestly don't care to see their Instagram photos.

There.  I said it.

I set up the Instagram account solely for geocaching fun.  As far as I know, only one of my f@book friends is a geocacher, and she doesn't do Instagram.

So lemme just say right now.,. if you are a friend of mine on f@book and you also have an Instagram account and you receive a suggestion to follow me and you have no interest in geocaching, don't take the bait!

Unless  you want your feed to include infrequent posts of bug riddled containers in the woods or...

... little things hanging in trees or...

... yes... tupperware in the forest.

Much more exciting than it looks


Linking up with MamaKat again for the prompt:
4. Share a recent photo or video you added to Instagram and give us the back story.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

blank pages

Oy, it's been (almost) a week since my last post?  I'm hereby making an early new year's resolution to blog more often.

Until I started blogging, I didn't really write much - was never one to write in journals or diaries (is there a difference?).  My previous work life didn't require it, and that was fine with me too.  But now I enjoy it, and I enjoy helping tutees with writing too.

This is good since I need to do quite a bit of writing now for school.  So I don't mind it, but I'll blame that for my lack of blogging.  Too much of a good thing and all that.

And this week, I got an e-mail in my university account offering "custom writing services" a.k.a cheating.
The note listed several reasons to use the service
  • tight deadlines
  • writing papers prevents you from attending social functions
  • papers due the next morning, but you haven't started any
  • no time to sit and focus on research
  • working on papers bores you

Serilously?  I'm not naive enough to not know that there are students who pay others to do assignments for them.  This is the first time anyone has hit me up, though. Their note mentions that the are available on Facebook, WhatsApp, Kik, WeChat, Line and Skype".  Geesh, they're everywhere.

They advertise writing assistants who *help* students write papers, but  the not-so-fine-print advertises that they will

"...confidently provide papers that are original, delivered punctually, and which conform to the writing style of you university/college and that all communications will maintain the highest level of confidentiality..."

Sure sounds like cheating to me.   I did an internet search and found all kinds of others. Okay, maybe I am a bit naive about just how many such services exist.  I'm curious as to how many customers they have.

In the meantime, I, for one, will continue to do my own work, responsibly and punctually!

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Since I'm still on a bit of a break, I thought I'd get out my art toys and play some Illustration Friday, where the prompt this week is "Tape".

I ventured into the waters of Manga style, which isn't really my thing, but every now and then, ya just gotta live on the edge!

In manga drawings, "...characters often have large eyes (female characters usually have larger eyes than male characters), small noses, tiny mouths, and flat faces..."

I've seen many a manga drawing from amateurs that are quite good, and I understand manga comic books are pretty popular.  I don't know if I can pull it off so well though,  I'll leave it to the youngsters.

But, I had no other inspiration for "Tape", and now I've got something to show I care.

Thanksgiving went off without a hitch, and we enjoyed the food, some Best Buy hordes, and a bit of board gaming.

As I've mentioned, the trek to Best Buy just started out a few years ago as a destination for get-outta-the-house walk on Thanksgiving and has become sort of a tradition.   We weren't there for door-busting, just showed up after the fact.  As for me, I mainly enjoy the people watching.

It was pretty crowded, but the store set up extra register lines and everyone was just so darn polite.  Lots of, "excuse me", "thanks", "after you", "you go ahead", etc as customers trucked huge carts of TVs and such around.  Really, people were buying multiple TVs - 4 or 5 to a cart.  I didn't even check the prices, but maybe they were deals?

We managed to emerge a while later without spending anything except for Meego, who did get a good deal on a computer monitor.  Wolfgang had some things in his sights, but none were on sale.  That's the way the Thanksgiving door busters bust.

Meego's monitor is a nice step up from his previous one, which isn't saying much.  I oohed and aahed over the resolution and then asked Meego if he wanted to join us in the *smirk* "real outside".

In movie news, Magnum and I watched Moonrise Kingdom, yet another quirky Wes Anderson production. I liked it in a quirky Wes Anderson kinda way.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

thank goodness!

Thanksgiving is upon us!  Already!

Surprisingly, I got my act together and have my turkey and fixin's ready to get cracking.  It remains to be seen, however, if any of it will actually be edible when I'm done cracking.  No pressure, though, since the only people I will potentially poison/repulse are those in my immediate family.

In the meantime, here's this Thanksgiving meme thing from MamaKat:

1. What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Acorn squash, except I don't make acorn squash for Thanksgiving, but I realize now that I totally should.

2. What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?

 Pumpkin pie all the way!

3. What does your ideal Thanksgiving outfit look like?

I mean... right?!?
Way to work it!

(This is where I got the idea for acorn squash)

4. What is your best Thanksgiving memory?

The way my Grandma would lift her wine glass arthritic elbows and all and make a toast of thanks and then we'd all ching ching our glasses and swig some wine which may as well have been drain fluid because that's how it tasted to me as a kid but it was Thanksgiving and Grandma made a toast and we drank wine!

5. Least favorite Thanksgiving dish.

Well how to answer that one since if I don't like it, I don't eat it.  Sheesh.

6. Do you have any quirky Thanksgiving traditions?

Like walking to the Best Buy after dinner, even if it's snowing, not to necessarily buy anything but just to say we took an after dinner walk to Best Buy on Thanksgiving?

7. Where do you and your family usually celebrate Thanksgiving?

In our home.  Then at Best Buy.

8. What do you love most about Thanksgiving?

I guess I just like the fact that we have a day set aside to be grateful.

9. What do you think has changed most since the first Thanksgiving?

Uhhh... nature, art, books, society, health, technology....

10. What are you thankful for?

Oh, bunches of stuff, but of course, family, friends, health, prosperity, nature, art, books, society, technology...

But really, I am thankful for family and friends - blogfriends too fer sure.  Thanksgiving also coincides with birthday times for Magnum and me, so I'm grateful to be around for another birthday, considering the alternative.

My mother-in-law made this scarf for me, so I took the happy selfie to let her know I received it and love it.  Then I noticed that my windows photo app has added new editing tools and I couldn't resist trying them out.  So, happy Movember too!