Wednesday, May 29, 2019

who are we?

I received a series of texts last night/this morning around 2am.  I normally turn my phone off at night, but I guess I forgot last night.

So I was awakened by these incoming texts - paragraphs of them.  Who is going to roll over and go back to sleep with that going on?  They were from a student of mine, one of the local high schoolers.  Let's call her "Betty".

Betty and her mom came to me early in the school year after Betty'd suffered a concussion during basketball practice.  As Betty struggled to recover, she fell behind in her classes, which made up a challenging junior-year course load.

I enjoy working with Betty.  She's observant and funny, and she works hard.  She often seemed tired and confused, forgetting things we'd reviewed just moments prior.  Her speech and writing would sometimes become notably slow.  Betty's doctor eventually advised her to drop the math class I was tutoring her for as it was putting too much strain on Betty's brain, slowing her recovery and making her headaches worse.

Then there's neighbor kid, Matt.  He's a couple years older than Meego and attends college in Denver.  A little over a year ago, he was hit by a car while running and errand on his bicycle, and he wasn't wearing a helmet.  Once again, concussion.  It's set him back a couple of semesters of college, but it could've been much worse.  His mom tells me of the bizarre personality and mood changes in Matt since his concussion, but he seems on the mend now.

Then there's my friend, Dee.  Dee's husband had a bad skiing accident a couple of seasons ago - concussion.  Dee says he underwent a "complete personality change".  At first, it was amusing, but then, among other things, he wanted to leave Dee and the thriving business they've built.  Dee managed to keep it together, and counseling is helping them a lot.

These kinds of things get me pondering.  Who are we at the "soul"?  How much of our personalities are shaped by our culture and our biology and our brain matter if a blow to the head can make such marked changes?

So these texts.  In them, Betty describes her frustration with this past school year - with having to withdraw from precalculus and also returning an utterly lackluster SAT score. She has a plan for summer break to get some of herself, her grades, and her test scores back.

I'm here and rootin' for ya Betty!  Now, get some sleep.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Florida man

On Friday, I went to our financial place to roll my lunch lady 401k over to my IRA since I'm not a lunch lady anymore.  The place was busier than usual, and I chalked that up to Friday being the first nice day after a string of wintry days.  At least some kids took advantage of their snow day in May...


... since there's a slim chance of getting another opportunity to make a "Happy Last Week of School!" snowman.

So I sat among the others - one man, one woman, both around my age I'd guess - waiting their turns.  As soon as I entered the waiting area, the man chimed up, like he was our host or something.  He announced to me and the other woman that he was there to cash in his 401K and move to Florida. 

He went on talking, without our urging him to do so, about how he'd had a "vision".  In this vision, he saw himself walking along a beach, and he was financially independent.  He had no idea how he'd become financially independent, but he was convinced the vision was true and a sign for him to cash in his savings and relocate to Florida. He was putting his "faith in the vision above his faith in the world".

As he spoke, I sensed that he was... a little off.  Maybe a bit mentally challenged?  Autism spectrum?  He made a lot of references to his parents, particularly his mom, and made it clear that he still lived with them.  Additionally, he actually told us the amount of his 401K, which was relatively small.  And I'm pretty sure he wasn't old enough to withdraw it without penalty.

Strangely, he seemed to be directing his sermon primarily to me.  I glanced to the other woman who was all

While, on the inside, I was feeling all

Eventually he was called to speak with someone.  Shortly afterward, I took care of my rollover and left. 

I'm kind of wondering if the guy will actually go through with his plan.  As he spoke, he told us he'd had a total of five visions in his lifetime.  He followed the message of three of them, and they'd all come true.  This financially-independent-walking-on-the-beach was number 5.  Okay, so what of the fourth one?

Never mind, I don't want to know.

Ever had a vision that didn't make sense?  Or an "omen" that did?  How'd it work out for you?

Saturday, May 25, 2019

broken [fill in the blank]

Welp, this last week has featured a broken vehicle (my fault) and a broken heart (Meego's) in addition to all of our broken trees.  Being a clutterphobe, I'm a Marie Kondo fan, and who's gonna complain about Jesus? (Don't answer). So this meme struck me as relevant for me this week.

But I'm not here to whine, but rather to look on the bright side.  Plus, I don't want to talk about the bonehead move that left us short one vehicle.  I will say that I'm glad I've been a bicycle commuter for some time now, so even the crap winter weather we've had didn't majorly hamper my getting around.

Meego's missing the girlfriend he broke up with when he left for college last fall.  She wanted to try to make the long-distance thing work as she still had a year left of high school here, but he was reluctant.  They'd usually get together when he came home for visits, but he admits he sometimes blew her off.  She was trying, but then gave up a couple of weeks ago.  Now he's home for summer and feels the breakup was a mistake.  He's apologized, but she's understandably reluctant and won't see him, and he's kicking himself.  Ah, life lessons!  And a reminder that I would NOT want to go back to the high school years!

All of our deciduous trees took a hit in last week's storm, as did trees all over town.  When stuff like this happens, it's nice to see neighbors helping each other out.  We're not sure if we're going to have someone come out and shred our downed branches or have them hauled away.  All of the "tree people" are so busy right now, we figure we can wait for the dust to settle.  In the meantime, we're just tidying up and moving the severed limbs to an area on the side of the house because I don't want the trees to have to see them.  Yeah, go ahead and laugh at me for that, you won't be the first.  

Magnum's out there now with his new toy saw.  I'm going out now to help make a nice hidden joy-sparking pile.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

the sound of chainsaws in the morning

I take back the whining I did about the snow that last couple of weeks.  That was nothing - a few flakes covering the grassy areas.  Here's the photo Magnum sent his boss this morning:

It's the view from our garage.  Our big tree out front lost a few limbs from this latest snow - heavy, wet, lots of it.  We got about half a foot or more.  Backyard didn't fare much better

School kids got a snowday.  Sheesh, high school seniors have already graduated! 

But at least no tree limbs fell on the house or did any other damage.  We've just got some cleanup to do.  Neighbor across the street has a huge poplar that lost several branches.  He says he wants to remove the whole thing, but the missus wants to salvage the tree.  

"I've got some negotiating to do", he says.

I wonder if Mother Nature is up for some negotiation?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

to vax or not to vax

It was nineteen seventy-nevermind.  I was in second grade.  During one week, about half the class was out sick.  The next week, they were back, but the other half was out sick.  I remember thinking how funny it was to be in such a nearly empty classroom during that time.  It didn't occur to me then that I didn't take a turn.

Around that same time, some neighbor friends of ours couldn't come out to play because they were sick, but my brother and I were more than welcome to play at their house.  We hardly ever played in our friends' houses, we mainly all ran around the neighborhood outside.

Later, in hindsight, I realized.  Friends' mom maybe talked to our mom.  Said something like, "Mutt and Jeff have chickenpox, send your kids over to get it while it's hot!", because that's how kids became inoculated against chickenpox when I was a kid. Get it, and get it over with.

However, despite the best efforts of my second grade epidemic and friends' house quarantine exposure, I never got chickenpox, nor did my brothers.  Both brothers ended up getting chickenpox as adults, and according to them, it was horrible.  When the varicella vaccine came out about 25 years ago, they both told me to "be all over that!"

So I was.  My doctor's office at the time wasn't even sure what to do.  They treated adults and didn't keep chickenpox shots around.  They had to special order the vaccine, have it shipped all temperature-controlled blah blah.  Twice.

"How did you not have chickenpox as a kid?", my doctor asked, maybe thinking I'd grown up in some sort of reclusive cult or something.  I told her about the second grade epidemic, about the neighbor friends' house quarantine.  Nothing happened, I don't know why.  I never got any of those "childhood diseases".

When I was in college, I vaguely remember an alert going out about measles cases on campus, encouraging students to stop by the health center for a measles shot.  Apparently, measles is even worse on adults than chickenpox is, and my brothers' "be all over that!" echoed in my brain.

How did we even get alerts like that back then??  This was in the late 80's before the internet and email.  Geez, I'm old.  Whatever, I heard about measles on campus, so I went in for a vaccine.

I think.

See, I remember the alert.  I remember thinking I didn't want measles.  I remember going to the university health center for other services [A-gynecologist-CHOO].  But did I get that measles shot?  I never thought to keep a shot record for myself, and apparently my brain isn't such a good storage device.

I asked Magnum if he thought we should get measles boosters.  He said he had the measles as a kid.  PFFFT, lucky him.

Me, I'd rather not be a Marcia.

Have you had the measles?  Chickenpox?  Been vaccinated?  Any advice for a former reclusive cult child?

Monday, May 13, 2019

a good day for cartel burritos

We don't celebrate Mother's Day, but by not celebrating, it turns into an "event" of sorts anyway.

We had a little family get-together this weekend because Magnum's dad and step-mom were in town for a short visit.  Wolfgang and Meego came down from the  north, and Chaco and his girlfriend joined us and the in-laws for a nice dinner out on Saturday.

Thankfully the snow and its cold friends had moved on by then.

But as much as I love being a mom, Mother's Day, to me, is a Hallmark holiday.  I don't care to get caught up in that, and the kids know it so they happily comply.

Plus, Meego was born on a Mother's Day, and that's a pretty tough act to follow.

So it was a nice weekend that included all our kids, each of them acknowledging the not Mother's Dayness. 

When Meego and Wolfgang arrived, they were hungry and our fridge was rather empty, so Wolfgang suggested some "Cartel burritos". 

There are several Mexican restaurants in town that are known for their authentic Mexican food.  The restaurants themselves have very little of what would be considered ambiance, and the employees speak hardly a lick of English - both good signs that the food is good.  Further confirmation comes from the fact that Mexican construction workers flock to these places during their lunch breaks.

Recently, all the restaurants were found to allegedly have ties to El Chapo, drug lord extraordinaire, as part of a drug money laundering network.  Sheesh, like something out of "Breaking Bad".

The investigation is focused on the food distributor.  Thankfully, the restaurants are still in full operation, so we had some good Cartel Burritos and El Chapo Taquitos.

Five stars.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

dogs and jobs

I was at the university earlier today.  As I was leaving, some people were setting up an area for "Pause for Paws" in the library.  Some dogs were on the way to help students relieve some stress of finals.

I was tempted to hang around as the dogs would be arriving in about 20 minutes.  But then I thought, nah, leave it to the stressed students.

I don't think there was any such thing WAY back when I was an undergrad, but now I see this sort of thing at many colleges and universities.

Oh well, we have our own home therapy.

I took Merlin in to meet our vet for the first time this week.  He had some redness and discharge in his left eye.  I'm guessing he got something in it while having puppy time with Penny.  The good doctor gave us some eye ointment, and it quickly did the trick.

April 12
May 6

Other than that, he got a clean bill of health.  He's put on a good 10 pounds since we got him about 3 weeks prior when he was a bag o' bones at 35 pounds.   I'd say he's still got a good 5 to 10 pounds more to go to be at ideal weight for his frame.

In the meantime, today is another dreary snowy day.  I was going stir crazy at home, so it was good to get out, even if I didn't pause for paws.  I would fail as a hermit.

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

I'm on the cusp, leaning more toward the extrovert side.  Every time I've taken the Myers-Briggs test - the first time was in college for a psychology class, in the days before dogs came for finals week - I've resulted with ENTJ.  "E" for extrovert, but not heavily so.

I won't list traits, strengths and weaknesses  for ENTJs here - because I'm just efficient that way *ahem*, but I tend to agree with the general overview.

As far as jobs I should avoid, these top the list:

receptionist, home health aide, child care provider, craft artist, data entry clerk, restaurant host, and food preparation worker.

Of these, I've been gainfully employed as three.  Oops!  Well, they were all stepping-stone jobs.  I found it rather humorous that "Priesthood" is listed as about the worst career for me, but thinking about it... yeah, no.

What is your Myers-Briggs type?  Does it match nicely with your profession?

Monday, May 6, 2019

hair we go

Meego made an impromptu visit this last weekend.  There is a bus route that runs specifically from his school to here with a changeover in Denver.  We'd been meaning to check it out, and he texted that he'd give it a go.

While here, he asked for a haircut. He'd let his hair get quite long - I can't remember the last haircut he had.  It didn't look too bad, but I guess he decided he was done with that for now, and asked to "go back to the old ways".  Less maintenance.

That dark fur blob on the floor?  No, it's not a new pet.  It's the volume of hair I removed from his head.

I see that Prince Harry now has a baby son.  Well, we had a hairy son...

Students are in the final weeks of school/ fall semester, and I feel ready for a lull.  Right now, it's a rush of prepping for final exams, EOC assessments, and the June SAT.  I know my tutees are ready for a break too.  Hang in there!

The range of students' motivation and work ethics interests me.  Some are super motivated and want lots of practice. Others take more prodding and parental pushing.  Then there are those who, I think, just want me to do their homework for them.

Speaking of cheating... Anyone catch the Kentucky Derby on Saturday?  Honestly, I don't generally follow sports, but I enjoy horse racing - because it's over and done with in so little time, and I think horses are just beautiful to watch when they're running full out.

The original winner, Maximum Security, was DQ'd for straying from his lane and impeding some horses behind him.   His win was overturned and the second place horse, Country House, was declared the official winner.

Racehorses have such unique names.  Maybe in a timely fashion, Maximum Security should have a name more like "College Admission" or "Crew Team"?

Friday, May 3, 2019

appreciation Friday randomness

As I sat down at my desk, the garbage truck came by to do its thing.  As a clutterphobe, I count trash days as happy days.  Our service uses those trucks with the arms that reach out, grab the trash bin, lift the bin up, and dump the trash into the truck bed.

I noticed that it was moving quite slowly and a bit awkwardly this morning.  So I took a look and realized that there was a new guy in training with a vet showing him the ropes.  Shout out to the garbage collectors and garbage truck tutors of the world.

Speaking of tutors, I'm thankful for my current gaggle of students.  I put in a light week or so after we got Merlin to help him get used to his new home, but things are back in the swing.  It seems that whenever one student finishes up, another one magically appears, and my schedule is full again.

Speaking of students finishing up, that strange girl finished up this week.  The one who would often summon me and then have nothing to work on?  She's taking her final exam today.  She wasn't all bad, but I can't say I'm sad to see her go.  She hinted about a summer class, but I'll burn that bridge when we get there.

And speaking of Merlin, he continues to be a fabulous addition.  He and Penny get along great, and the cat doesn't hate him (anymore) either.  He's super loving and playful and also knows how to relax.  Oh, the peer pressure is strong with that one.

I'm also thankful that the sun decided to come back today.  It's been gloomy and cold and wet all week, and we just aren't used to that out here.  I resorted to playing mind games  to delude myself into thinking I was on an exotic vacation in the rain forest.  I don't think the rain forest occasionally blows snow in your face, but the delusion did work, somewhat.