Wednesday, August 30, 2017

the beginning of the end?

I began getting allergy injections yesterday.  It made me feel... old.

When I first visited the allergist, Dr. Dllaf (don't-look-like-a-flower) seemed to have a quizzical look about him.  But since I'd never met him before, I thought maybe he always looked that way.

"So... why are you here?", he asked.  Did I detect an undertone of smirk?

I told him a bit about my history with stinging insects and dizziness for which allergies were blamed.  I mentioned how a well-timed bug sting on the eve of my annual check-up landed me in his office.  He asked a couple of other standard informational questions, then described the testing procedure.  Did I detect an undertone of ho hum?

The contrastingly energetic and friendly nurse then proceeded to conduct my allergy testing, leaving me with little itchy welts all over my back.  I'd failed.  Or passed.  Depending on the point of view.

Afterwards, Dr. Dllaf was back, but seemingly a changed man.

"Well!", he announced upon arrival, "You really ARE allergic!"

I was not surprised, why was he?

He was much more animated in that second conversation and talked to me like one would an intelligent person.  He even went on a bit of a tangent about current research in the world of allergies and asthma, which was quite interesting, but a bit TMI.

All the while I wondered, "Who is this imposter look-alike, and what did he do with that other guy?".  But I realized I liked this second one better anyway.

Fast forward to yesterday when I got the first of my injections.

The waiting area was populated with several other allergic people there to get their shots.  The average age was, I'm guessing, maybe 12 years old.  And that's only because there were a bunch of little kids who had parents with them.  Throw out the parents and the average would decrease considerably.

That's when it occurred to me.  Perhaps most allergic people get this thing done when they're kids. Similar to orthodontia maybe?  I looked around and didn't see anyone my age, or even really approaching my age.  Even the parents... 😕.  Oh wait, the guy who gave me the shots was probably from my generation.

I began getting allergy injections yesterday.  It made me feel... old.


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
3. Write a post that begins and ends with the same sentence.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

a mountain, a sweatlodge, and a sacrificial deer

First, we had to wait for Wolfgang to run up a mountain...

FREE official photo

Last Saturday was the annual running of the Pikes Peak Ascent.  Thirteen miles up the mountain.  (The marathon - up and then back down - was run on Sunday).

This was Wolfgang's third time doing the race, and he managed a new PR of a very respectable 3 hours 15 minutes, being the first of his buddies to finish and taking 6th in his age group

Eventually, his two friends crossed the finish line, and they all got off the mountain.  In the meantime, we'd been packing up the van for our trip north to the eclipse.  We made it out late Saturday afternoon, arriving in Chugwater rest area late that night.  Good ol' Chugwater.

It wasn't much further to Manters Camp, so we had most all of Sunday to play around and explore after we set up the large tent and got our campsite humming.  All of us except for Chaco, who somehow managed to get a decent sleep at Chugwater, needed a siesta.

We napped in the tent, not realizing that we hadn't removed the outer coverings of our windows, so the breeze did NOTHING.  We awoke in pools of our own sweat.  I just decided to refer to it as Sweatlodge time rather than naptime.  Supposed to be healthy, right?

Thusly refreshed, we trekked out to the surrounding boonies and found a real pretty getaway spot.  As it happened, Wolfgang had a gimpy foot that he'd injured while training for the Ascent, and the foot was really whining after running the thing.

As such, we didn't traipse around as much as we might have so as to not "leave the cripple behind".  Still, Chaco got in a bit of a climbing fix

Spot him?

That tippy top scared me, but I got close.

We were in an area of national forest and  broke out our camp cookware and ended up having our dinner there and just hanging out.

By the time we'd cleaned up and packed up, it was nightfall...  *foreboding music goes here*

Chaco was driving the country road back to our campsite, about 10 miles away.  Suddenly, a deer went scampering across the road in front of us.  Immediately, I thought,

"Hmmm, usually where there's one, at least one more is behind it"


We got him.  The sound was horrible.  I was pretty sure he was dead since we hit him just as he was emerging onto the road - in the head.  Chaco pulled right over to inspect the van and to make sure the deer wasn't suffering.

As expected, it looked like the deer had died instantly - hardly any blood.  His body lay "peacefully" parallel to and alongside the road, facing behind us.  I'm pretty sure we hit him in the head, and he spun around.

He took our passenger side headlight with him, but didn't damage the engine and only left a couple of small dents in the side door.

A clearer view in the morning,
after the late night duct tape job

We'll have to have the panel surrounding the headlight fixed before we can repair the light, but all in all, the damage was pretty minimal.

After we returned home, I took the van to the shop for an oil change and a once over.  As I explained the deer incident to the service guy, a young man in the waiting area chimed in.

"That happened to me once!  I wasn't sure if it was an elk or a moose, so I called it a 'melk'!"

So I replied, "Oh.  Yeah?"

I mean, what else do you say?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

to the dark side

You may have heard that there was a solar eclipse event that graced portions of the United States yesterday.  Here in our neighborhood, we got about 90% of totality.

But why settle for 90% when you can drive a few hundred miles for the full 100??

So that's what we did. Hightailed it north to Wyoming.

It actually took a "bit" more planning.  Magnum found and reserved us a campsite about a year ago.  Then we had to get the official glasses.  Then we all had to have the day off.

Recall that I just started a new job.  I felt uneasy about asking for two days off right off the bat, but I went ahead and put it in the system to be off without pay and arranged for a substitute, THEN I asked.  The bosses were way cool.  One noted, "You reserved your campsite before we even posted this opening...", which was true.

So, free from guilt, the guys and I headed up to Wyoming.  What an amazing sight!  The day was perfect for it, full sun with just a few wispy clouds in the distance.

As can be imagined, there was a lot of gazing at the sun.  Those thin cardboard glasses we got worked beautifully.  Pack o' ten for $12.95.  Last week, they were  $150 if you were lucky enough to find them in stock.

The CheezIt box was a highly technical device used to see the eclipse without glasses and without going blind. It was one of three projects Meego was required to come up with and build and use for one of his classes.

It worked perfectly, of course, because everyone knows the moon's made of cheese.  

It was totally worth the trip.  We watched as the moon slowly slowly covered the sun and the temperature slowly slowly dropped and the ambient light slowly slowly became dimmer and dimmer.  Then with a final surge, it was "suddenly" dark.  

Stars came out, we could take off our glasses and see the ring.  It was dark and cold and awesome.

The camp we were at was a great location and had many other eclipsians, some with very sophisticated viewing equipment.  (Ours was the only CheezIt box I saw...).  The people next to us had some sort of live radio feed with countdowns to various points of the eclipse.  As we all stood in awe of the sight, after a couple of minutes, the robotic voice chimed in,

"In ten seconds, put your glasses back on".

Darn if that "diamond ring" didn't appear in exactly 10 seconds

And then it was passed.  People were still clapping.  Some were pouring champagne.  Good times.

All in all, a highly memorable experience.  I'd "seen" partial eclipses before, but those just don't do justice to a total eclipse.  Well worth the drive and effort, even the tedious long drive back in all that post eclipse traffic.  

And we did take a moment for that deer we killed...

but that's another story.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

the good, the bad

Well, I survived my first week of Back-to-School.  To be honest, I'm actually a bit surprised how much I'm enjoying this new job.

The staff's great, and I'm enjoying getting to know my students.  I have about 250 of them, so to say I'm still learning everyone's name is an understatement.  I'm sure there are several of them who don't remember my name either, so it's fine.

In reflection on this last week, a few pro and con observations...

The Alarm

I get  up about an hour earlier than I was used to.  Magnum and I actually eased ourselves into this new wake-up time about a week before school started, so to be used to it.  I do actually like being up early, but I need to get better and getting to bed earlier!

The Commute

My commute is actually quiet awesome.  It was one of my decision criterion when looking for a job.  I'm about 4.5 miles of pleasant bike paths from the school.  To help me realize just how awesome the ride in is, I zip on by all the traffic feeding into the high school and nearby middle school.  What a rat race!  As added insult, the city decided to do a bunch of road construction along the main road, taking it down to one lane, starting this first week of school.  I'm pretty sure I actually get to work faster on my bicycle than if I drove!

Dress Code

I didn't really need to revamp my wardrobe for this job.  Tutor clothes are certainly boring enough for a high school.  As far as students go, I have seen a few violations of the dress code - all from girls.  Use your imagination... not too much.


Lunch for the kids is a bit of a zoo as there's only one lunch period for everyone.  It saddens me to see that whole mass of teen humanity filling the lunch area and beyond,  yet see several kids off by themselves eating alone and not necessarily looking happy about it.

Free stuff

So far, I've gotten a free travel cup, a big water bottle, a hoodie, a t-shirt, and a cinch sack.  Yes, they're all emblazoned with the school name and such, but... free.  And speaking of lunch, I brown bag it in the teacher's lounge which has been a good way to meet and get to know some of the others.  I discovered two Keurig machines in there along with a variety of flavor pods.  I asked how much the beverages were and the answer was

"It's free.  The student council stocks that for us"

I love the student council!

Epi pens and beyond

My classroom is "nut protected" because I have a few students throughout the day with severe allergies, so I'm okay with coming up with some sort of nut-free snacks for myself.  Gotta feel for those kids.  Other confidential information on my rosters include depression/anxiety diagnoses, seizure disorders, plenty of allegies and asthma and migraines, and a few restraining orders against parents or other family members.  Jimminy.

That schedule

We all know that public education doesn't pay all that well.  But, my day is done with plenty of daylight left.  And look at all that time off.

And then there's what's-his-face

Meego's a senior this year.  His schedule is lighter than last year, as is typical for seniors.  I'm sure he'll be highly organized and on top of his school work.  (Put that last part in for giggles)


Linking up again with Mama Kat for the prompt - with a bit of divergence:
3. List 8 things you’re looking forward to and/or list 8 things you are dreading about sending the kids myself back to school.

Monday, August 14, 2017

and so it begins

I vaguely remember freshman year of high school.  One notable characteristic was the vast difference between freshmen and seniors.

The seniors seemed SO grownup.  They drove cars, had serious relationships, and muscles (guys), and facial hair (guys)... okay maybe I mostly noticed the guys.  But in general, they all just seemed so old.

So this morning was the first day of school in our district and my new job.  Freshmen-only day at the high schools.  We made a big welcoming "gauntlet", then opened the front doors as these seemingly tiny teenagers came streaming in, looking rather like deer in the headlights.  Some seemed so young and small.  *sniff* you forget how small they are *sniff*

It was nice for us newbies too, to just have a few innocuous students in da house.  After the big gauntlet rah rah, and everyone was settled in the gym, my newbie coworker says, "That was exhausting!"

I looked at my watch.  About 5 minutes had gone by.  Just 7 hours and 55 minutes to go!

Later, after things calmed down a bit and the Freshmen went through their paces without any upperclassmen to harass them, they generally seemed pretty happy to be high schoolers.  I got situated in my room, which was assigned only this morning because of a bunch of last-minute flux.  I went to check wi-fi networks for my phone.

It's interesting to note that the high school is a good-sized complex, but plopped smack dab in the middle of a residential area, so a number of wi-fi networks showed up within range.

I had to laugh at the name of that last one

I guess if you live that close to a high school with 1700 students, it's good to have a sense of humor.

Friday, August 11, 2017

something new, something old

I graduated high school from the same school district I attended on my first day of school in Kindergarten... and all the grades in between.  I never knew what it was like to be the "new kid", and I never really wanted to either.

It seemed so awkward.  Not knowing anyone or where anything is, where to put your stuff, what people dress like, what bathrooms you shouldn't go into, any unspoken hierarchies, etc. And of course, where to sit at lunch.

This week, I was one of the new kids.  I started my high school job.  It was awkward at first, but I think I held my own.  Oh sure, I've started other jobs before, but this one being at a high school at the beginning of the school year, it feels similar to being a new student.

And so far, I'm likin' it.  Everyone seems really cool and nice, and not in an overly-cordial-because-the-principal-makes-us-be-nice-to-new-staff kind of way, but in a genuine-real-and-cool-people kind of way.  People sit with me at lunch.

So yeah, I love it!  Of course, we haven't had any students yet, they start next week...

Also, this week, I got the not-very-surprising news that I'm allergic to bees.  Wasps, yellow hornets, white faced  hornets, and yellow jackets too to round out the party!  Yay!  What the heck's a white faced hornet??

They tested me for a bunch of other stuff too, but that was last week. Apparently, the stinging insect test stuff has to be mixed up $pecial (no, that's not a typo).  Bottom line, if it's a tree, weed, or grass, I'm allergic to it, along with all those stinging insects.  Throw in a few molds for good measure.

I'm not allergic to cows, however.  Good to know?

So I'm gonna start getting allergy shots in hopes it will help my seasonal drunkenness balance troubles.  Runny nose and itchy eyes I can handle, but the vertigo's a b*tch.

The shots won't treat me for the stinging insects, though, since so far, I tend to just get a &$^##! annoying local reaction without the life threatening stuff.  Basically, my allergist advises me to

"Try not to look or smell like a flower"

As the nurse was putting me through all that testing - poking me with a gazillion syringes - she noted the smallpox vaccine scar on my left shoulder.  Who of the readers here is old enough and has a smallpox vaccine scar?  Anyone?  Show of hands?

I don't have too many vivid memories of first days of school, never being too stressed out and all.  But I DO remember getting that smallpox vaccine.

My loving mother took me down to a local gymnasium.  I was all happy because I was excited that I was going to start going to school.  Also, I enjoyed going out and about running errands with my mom, PLUS, she said after the "thing at the gym" we would see Grandma and get a donut!  Win!

Everything changed once we opened the door to that gym.

Crying and screaming children everywhere.  Tears, boogers, the whole caboodle.  They were all about my age. And I was all,

"Mom!  What fresh hell have you brought me to?!?"

I started crying too because it seemed to be the protocol.  I hadn't even gotten the shot yet.

I recall that the shot itself didn't really hurt.  It just had a strange "electrical jolt" feel to it, and left a bloody mark on my arm, now a memorable scar.  I remember thinking I could probably stop crying.

Bring on the donuts.


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
1. Share a back to school memory

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

she was

She was...

a wife

a friend

a mom

a sister

a daughter

a runner

a cancer survivor

and much more.

She died on Sunday at only 44 years old, leaving a loving husband, two wonderful daughters, and many many friends including me.

Even though I never met her in real life.

Similarly as with my internet friend JFuzz, I maybe didn't realize how much I cared until Rebecca was sick again.  Until we knew she was dying.

Rebecca was, strangely, one of my first facebook friends. I'd originally joined facebook because a few blog friends, several years ago, prompted me to join so we could play an online game together. One of those blog friends was also a friend of Rebecca's.

So yeah, I met her through a silly online word game.  Thank goodness.

And I learned she was more than her vocabulary skills.  And when her cancer came back, I was saddened, but SHE kept her smiling face somehow.  Through all the chemo and medications and having to miss out on fun things in life, she kept smiling, right up 'til the end.  Even when told it wasn't working.  Nothing was working.

Now she's finally free from all that.  I feel very sad for her husband and daughters, but I'm glad that her suffering is over.  I think of her as not necessarily "gone", just having crossed another finish line onto the next fun thing.

Enjoy your post-race beer, Rebecca.  You've earned it and so much more.

Rest in Peace.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

not in MY mom tent

Today marks the culmination of another of Meego's Marching Band Camp (this one time...?)

Overall, they had a good and productive two weeks as demonstrated in a little show they put on for us parents today.  A good start to the season.

As often happens, I volunteered a bit here and there during camp.  Yesterday, I had duty in the first aid tent, which is really just a canopy for shade and small cooler of supplies.

No real skill is required, they just like to have a volunteer there to help out in case someone gets a minor injury and to make sure everyone's getting enough water and putting on their sun screen, etc.

I did a first aid shift at last year's camp and had to deal with two or three asthma attacks that probably freaked me out more than they did the asthmatics.

So I arrived and went through the supplies and just did a general check over of things.  There was one kid already sitting in the shade of the canopy, with no discernible "injury".  After a few minutes, I realized that he just wanted to be in the shade instead of out marching.  Okay.

A small handful of other kids wandered in and out, seemingly just for some extra shade and downtime.  They are given regular breaks throughout the day.  So I just made sure they weren't visiting the "ER" for any kind of serious problem and didn't bother them otherwise.  But in my head...

Get off yer lazy asses
When I was in HS marching band?
It woulda been downright SHAMEFUL to be sitting here in the mom tent while everyone else was out on the field
Heck, we didn't even HAVE a mom tent!
Ever heard of, "Suck it up"??

Okay, maybe sympathy isn't a strong trait of mine.

I'd gotten there on bicycle Alice.  She felt the same as I did, see?

"What's with these princesses??"

As I look now at the photo of my duty station, I recall I brought a notebook to do some tutor stuff while there.  Maybe I should've had those kids in the mom tent do some math problems while hanging out in the shade.

"March or math!! Pick!"

But overall, the large majority of the kids put in the work and effort.  It's nice to see them dealing with the long days and repetition, repetition, repetition that is marching band.

"Do it AGAIN!  It's okay, I've got NOWHERE else to be at all today!" -- the words of my flag coach still etched in my brain.  Back in the days of no mom tent.

Meego and the rest of the bangers

Meego is center snare in the battery drumline.  They're a fun bunch of kids, and you can bet none of them came to bunk out in the mom tent.  Although one kid was not wearing his drum today during the performance, just marching and going through the motions.  Hmmm....

He'd better have a good reason.  😈


Thursday, August 3, 2017

... and then there was one

It's been many years since we welcomed you and your gang friends into our home.

Almost instantaneously, the three of you began to methodically and thoroughly kill everything that was alive, so I didn't dare bring anything else within your reach.

I kicked the meanest of you out, so you and your partner lived a minimal life since then - no new friends nor new vegetation to murder.

As the years ticked by, I wondered at your longevity and ability to thrive despite the depravity.

Ultimately, however, it was I who controlled your fate, as I think you know.

But I couldn't do it, I could not willingly put you to death, so I continued to sustain you both, feeding the monsters within.

But now, he's gone and only you remain.

Why do I feel sorry for you?

The Death of Monster2

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
1. Write a blog post in exactly 8 lines