Friday, December 31, 2021

feeling helpless

I'm typing this while watching the live briefing regarding the Marshall fire in Boulder county.

Scary Scary sh*t happened yesterday.  While we were putzing around with our little home improvement projects, thousands of people were evacuating as homes were burning.  Super dry conditions coupled with high intensity winds sparked horrific fires.  The burn area is about a 1-hour drive from us.

Chaco called me as he lives and works near the evacuation zone.  He went into work around noon to put in a half day before the New Year holiday, and several coworkers were abruptly leaving to evacuate from their homes.  He's sure at least 2 or 3 of them lost their homes.

I encouraged Chaco to head to our house rather than wait for an evacuation order.  He loaded up his car, but decided to watch and wait.  His neighborhood was able to stay put.

Meanwhile, I checked in with my oldest brother - known here on the blog as "Hagrid" - who lives in Louisville.

His home was completely destroyed.  

While I'm utterly relieved that he and my sis-in-law made it to safety, I feel devastated by this loss for them.

Less than a week ago, he and I were texting cutesy Merry Christmas messages.  Yesterday morning began like any other.  


Thursday, December 30, 2021

a little back and forth

 I'm sitting here looking out my new office window.  So clean and shiny 😊.  New windows are installed, and it's nice to have that completed.  The new windows are currently naked because we just can't adorn them with the crap old blinds we removed.  On to some new blinds and we'll call it good.

But speaking of calling it good, it's that time to look back on the year that wuz.  2021 feels like it went by fast, or is it just me?  I'm thankful for much. A quick recap:

January was significant in the rolling out of the COVID vaccines.  Since I worked at a nursing home at the time, we got first dibs (actually, "first dibs" were mandated...)

I bicycle commuted several miles for work.  Winter commuting was... fun

Ran a few races.

Inked some Inktober.

Bought two bicycles ,
BUT I sold an old one too.

Took one of those bicycles along with the fam to the mountains for some R & R.

Completed a horticulture semester course and mainly learned that I have much to learn.

Left the nursing home after taking a job at the community college.

All in all, another good year.  The state of the world is not ideal, but is it ever?  I'm trying to stick with the adage of controlling the things I can, etc...  Our family has enjoyed good health and relative prosperity, and I'm ever grateful for that.

On the somber side,

The world lost Malcolm.  Not a week goes by where I don't think of that kid.

Then, we lost the wonderful Michelle.  These two left us so quickly and unexpectedly.  

And I'm certainly grateful for them too - for the privilege of knowing them.  

AND, I'm always grateful for you blog friends - old and new - who stop by here and also keep me entertained at your sites.  Looking forward to more oversharing and whatnot! 

Okay 2022.  I think I'm ready.  Please play nice?


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

 Share your favorite (remembered) moments of 2021.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

can I run the trace of your mind

Christmas is a wrap.

We had a nice one here with the brood.  The kids are all currently single, so it was a low-key fivesome plus three dogs and a disgruntled cat.  We opened some cards and gifts, ate, walked the pooches, played some boardgames... a good day was had.

Magnum and I don't gift each other. If we want something, we buy it, no matter the date.  I'm too much of a noncomformist to make a list or such *shivers*.  But we do get SOMEthing for each of the kids to open on Christmas day.  It gets harder every year.

In my recent tidyings, I did come across someone's gift from years ago:  a GoPro camera.  I dusted it off, woke it up, and bought a bicycle mount for it to use as a sort of "dashcam".  I found a handful of skateboarding videos on it and determined it was Wolfgang's.  Don't tell him I've made it mine 🙊

I took it for a test drive on Christmas Eve.  Once I put it on, I noticed that the brake cables on Violet sit right in front of the best placement for the camera, but didn't obscure much in the end result.

Don't worry, I don't plan on turning this blog into a record of boring bicycle commuting videos.  

Other commuters I know use cameras to catalog abuse from motorists, but I manage to avoid those scenarios *knock on wood*.  Respect goes both ways.

Here's a test run snippet.  I found a generic app on my computer for editing and set it to Mozart for hopeful increase in entertainment value.

We're scheduled tomorrow to begin our new window install - replacing every window in the house.  Ooh, a makeover!  It will probably the coldest day of the year, our luck.

The impending window install did spur me to take down the paltry Christmas decorations I'd put up.  So there's that.

Onward to 2022!

Friday, December 24, 2021

we know you love a party

"The test center is closed as we celebrate the Pagan Solstice.  We will reopen on January 3rd when our hours will be..."

"...However, if you are a virgin and would like to volunteer to sacrifice yourself to ensure the return of the sun for the rest of us, you may contact us at..."

Then again, we just went with the standard winter break message.

The boss, assistant boss, and I worked the final shift of the year yesterday.  We were only open for four hours for the last trickle of customers before the holidays.  We took care of some general cleaning and tidying - took down the holiday decorations, cleaned the breakroom, then penned and recorded the winter break outgoing message on the voicemail.  Done and done.

I'm as ready as I'm going to be for Christmas.  We don't go all out, especially since the kids are all up and out now.  But it's nice to have some time together.  I've got a few decorations up around the house, there are a few gifts and cards, there's ham.

I definitely don't want to take part in the deadweight loss of Christmas, minimalist clutterphobe that I am.  On a somewhat related note, my step-MIL has sent us an abundance of "treats" every year for Christmas for many years.  Store-bought cookies and candies, etc. that we never manage to consume on our own.

Most of it ends up going to coworkers and then expires into the trash.  I keep thinking to gently let her know not to send so much if any.  But then, Christmas passes and I forget by the next time I talk with her, and it seems wrong to mention it in my Christmas thank-you note.

Once again, I received and opened the "box of diabetes" a couple of weeks ago.  I brought over half of it to work, and during yesterday's cleaning, the leftovers went into the trash.  There's still a significant amount at our house that we will dole out to the kids, then chuck the remainder.

Any advice on how to handle this?  Mention it to her in my thank-you note?  Give myself a reminder to bring it up the next time they visit - possibly summertime? Just let her keep sending the crap and not say anything?  There are certainly worse things.

Monday, December 20, 2021

we could spend some conversations

I've been in a tidying mood for some reason. Finally started dealing with a bit of clutter in a clutter magnet corner.   When we moved into this house, it was to be only a temporary stay, but we ended up buying the place.

We were looking for a house, the landlord wanted to sell, the stars aligned.  The place needed and still needs some TLC after having been a rental for several years.  We've made baby steps - literally starting with new interior stairs, and then adding a new exterior paint job. Windows are half paid for and supposedly going to happen in January.

 On Friday, we got a new garage door opener as the other decrepit one finally gave up the ghost.  Such joy from a new garage door opener.  Now, about these appliances...

All that tidying and home improvement aside, I am looking forward to the upcoming winter break.  This is the last week at work, and we are closing early on Thursday.  Last Friday, my four coworkers and I managed a quick white elephant gift swap during a short lull in business.  I ended up with a dartboard?  I'm tempted to leave it at work so we can use it there to vent our frustrations.

So I'll have a little over a week off.  Last year, when I was working at the nursing home, there's  no break in the action.  Many residents didn't know one year from the next, let alone holidays.  I miss some of them and some of my coworkers there, but I don't miss the 24/7/365 of the place.

No major plans for the time off other than  to get together with our grown kids on Christmas day.  

I'm sure we'll think of something, but I'm looking forward to some lazy days and days lost to the sketchbook.

Did this sketch yesterday thinking about the upcoming downtime.  It's generally agreed that, when drawing people, the most difficult parts are feet, face, and hands.

See what I did there?  Strategic avoidance.


Linking up (late) with Mama Kat for the prompt:

1. Tell us about something you are looking forward to.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021


She came in and seemingly couldn't stop talking.  Told us about her husband driving her there, how she's cold all the time, why she brought so many different forms of identification, how many times she "went pee" beforehand...  And so many questions:  how do I work the locker again?  What did you say my seat number is?  Can I use the bathroom? Can I use the bathroom again?  And then, apologizing for being cold, for asking to use the bathroom, for forgetting her locker combination.

I wanted to tell her Just. Stop.  Calm. Down. Breathe. Slowly.  But I couldn't get a word in. Anxiety.

She took two separate but related certification tests.  She passed both of them, but thought she'd failed both. Then she couldn't stop talking about how amazed she was that she'd passed. She was positively giddy and shaking and teary eyed.  Honestly, I thought she was going to pass out.  Honestly.

She left and was going to text her husband to come get her.  We let her go on her way, in her racing heart, chatty state.

Did we do the right thing?

That was yesterday.

Today, a young woman came in, hardly said anything or made eye contact other than when necessary.  Similarly, she asked twice for bathroom breaks during her test.

While on her second bathroom break, my coworker returned saying that the young tester was having an "anxiety situation" in the bathroom and someone from disability services was talking with her.  She's not a student at the college, had similarly come in for a certification test.  But my coworker noticed her and rightfully found a counselor.

We patiently waited a few minutes for the woman to return and calmly redirected her to her workstation if she wished to continue.  She did manage to complete her exam, but her scores were not immediately available.

Upon finishing, she quietly signed out, gathered her things, and left - as silently as she'd arrived.  Shortly afterward, my shift ended, and I popped into the bathroom before heading home.  Quiet woman was in there sitting on the floor of a stall, her knees pulled up toward her face. I noticed someone was in the stall, but hadn't realized it was Quiet Woman sitting on the floor until noticing that what I thought was a backpack on the floor of the stall next to me was an actual back of a person.

"Are you okay?", I asked, not knowing what I'd do with her answer.

"Yeah", she replied, rather unconvincingly. "I'm just not feeling that well today".

"Would you like me to get someone from Student Services?", thinking that whomever she'd spoken with earlier had been of help.

"No", she quietly responded, adding a, "thank you", and a hint of a smile in her voice.

In my mind, I waivered.  Should I get someone anyway? Or did she just need a bit of quiet time?  Was this in relation to her test?  Or something else?  

I reminded her that the counselors were just a few steps away, or she could always return to the testing center for help or concerns.  

"Okay, thank you".

Then I left her alone. 

She was young - early 20's.  I still picture her sitting there on the floor.  She wore jeans and a cute pair of pink high top Vans.

Did I do the right thing?  I had the impression that she needed some alone time.

But I could be wrong.

Anxiety can look so different from different people.  Maybe that's why I'm more of a math person.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

home stretch

Last weekend, the running club held its December tortoise and hare race.  This one, a 6K so ~ 3.75 miles.  I found myself... among the finish line photos.  Like this one, resembling a partially formed twin growing out of green-shirt-guy's neck.

The morning was breezy, but unseasonably warm and sunny.  T-shirts and shorts in December?  Bare hands and ears?

By the afternoon, the winds had blown some system in, plummeting temperatures into the 20s.  That prompted me to dig our Christmas decorations out of their dormancy and get a few up and out - our house no longer the bah-humbugest on the block.

In other news, I've been looking into consulting a speech therapist.  I don't have a lisp, my r's don't sound like w's, I don't stutter.  But I sometimes have bouts of what I've learned is "vocal cord dysfunction", been dealing with it, infrequently, for years.  I thought it was maybe exercise induced asthma, but nope, all signs point to VCD.  I'm glad of that because it's usually treated without medication, but rather exercises with a speech therapist.

I haven't searched that much, but the ones near me I've found that take our insurance typically just work with children on forming proper speech patterns and such or work with old folks who've had strokes, etc.

What about us middle-of-the-packers?

Saturday, December 4, 2021

no kissing

"We could make this a COVID 'kissing zone'!"

We looked at her like, you can't be serious.  Are you serious?

At work, we are situated in a corral-style layout.  We invigilators are positioned in the center of the place while testing goes on around the periphery.  We are corralled in by counters and, because of COVID, plexi-glass.  

With the holiday season in full swing now, we've been putting  up decorations here and there.  We have some lights strung along the tops of the plexi-glass partitions,  and coworker J thought we should hang some mistletoe from the lights at one point - thus prompting kissing from respective sides of plexi-glass.

Yeah, no.  Nice thought, but there are easier ways to visit the HR department.

So, no mistletoe to be had, but the place is looking quite festive.  I noticed what looked like a headless snowcouple from my vantage point and had to walk around to see what it was from the front.

Oh, okay, just what I'd thought.  A headless snowcouple complete with disembodied heads.  Apparently, it was meant to be a hot cocoa pot, and the heads are the lid.  We're using it for candy - persistent leftovers from Halloween, but don't tell anyone.

On a side note, I remember a resident from when I worked at the old folks home.  She told me she asked one of my young coworkers for some cocoa and was met with a blank stare.  I guess "cocoa" is a word only us old folks know as "hot chocolate".  That pot must be an ancient relic.

We do have a tree on a shelf in a corner.  Public institution that we are, we cannot have any religious symbology as part of the decor.  Adorning the top of the tree is an ornament commemorating 2020.

Looking closely, I realized it's a dumpster fire.

For a mascot, the college has the Wolves.  We have no sports teams, but apparently all schools need a mascot.  

We thought to put him - Apollo - at the top of our tree, but the dumpster fire won out since we're not allowed to adorn Apollo with angel wings.

He functions well as our masked motivator anyway.

Signs of the times. I wonder what would happen if we DID hang the mistletoe...

Monday, November 29, 2021

onward and back

 Ah, Monday after a holiday break!  Can you feel the boundless enthusiasm?

Well, it will be good to get back into the routine of things, I suppose.

I will be going into work later today, and right now, I was planning to watch some more video of my final module for the gardening course I've been doing this semester.  The course has been useful and educational, and one of the main things I learned is that one cannot get very in depth on these topics in a one-semester course.  

Aha, maybe that's how they getcha?  Scratch the surface on a variety of topics that serve to suck us down a deep, expensive, and time consuming rabbit hole!  

It's all interesting, naturally, and I realized that I'm going to miss "tuning in" to these courses now that they're coming to a close.  Would I like to take more courses?  Yes.  Do I want to pay for  more courses? Eh...

Way back when I was in real college, a friend talked me into taking a Life Drawing class.  "A nice break from all the technical classes", he'd said and was right.  I think the class met one evening a week.  No books, no calculators.  Just our drawing toys to balance life out.

Live models would come and sit while we students would draw.  Traditional life drawing classes have
nude models, but thank gawd this class did not.  Neither my small town nor we immature students would've handled that very well.

Things I learned from that class have mostly stuck with me over the many years, and every now and then I like to draw a (fully clothed) random person.  

So I did this pencil drawing while learning about nasty plant diseases today.

Maybe someday I'll be able to successfully grow a decent plant.

Friday, November 26, 2021

so many things!

Thanksgiving day has come and gone.  I'm thankful for much, and I'm grateful to have today off from work as well.  No shopping on the agenda!

All the "kids" were here for our simple festivities.  I feel I need to have another term for them than "kids", but it'll have to do for now.  I cooked the traditional foods, but certainly no pressure since it was just the five of us.  

So we ate, walked the dogs.  Wolfgang brought some games over, and we played two of them.  Board gaming has made a thriving comeback as of late, and he's got a nice collection.  These newer games are creative and imaginative, and I'm glad it's a popular pastime.    

Earlier in the day, I did the local turkey trot, aptly named "Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Run".  Four miles around downtown.  It was my first time doing it, and it was much fun - a popular local race that was cancelled last year for obvious reasons.  

The morning was chilly but sunny and very nice conditions for the event.  I heard there were over 3,000 participants, and the atmosphere was one of buoyant gratitude to be able to do these things safely again.  I personally hadn't been part of a mass start like that since 2019.

Came across this clip later on instagram and thought it looked like right where I'd started from.  Then yep, watching the clip I realized camera-person had been right behind me.

I'm thankful I survived it and am happy with my finish time, ending up 3rd place for my gender/age category.

All in all, a very good day.

And we have leftover pie.  Anyone want leftover pie?


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
1. Write about something(s) you are thankful for.

Monday, November 22, 2021

moon messing and goats

Happy Thanksgiving week to us 'mericans.  I, for one, am looking forward to the short work week.  Was it just me or were people acting a little weird last week?  I theorize it was that beaver moon lunar eclipse going on up there and messing with us.  

Since I work in a testing center, anxiety is common, but sheesh.  We had a couple of people actually break down and not finish their exams.  I feel quite bad for them and hope they're doing better.  Another tester aptly earned the nickname "Mean Woman" with her strange and brusque manners.  All that was missing was another helicopter mom losing it.  Had to be that moon.

This week will be better if only because it's shortened.

In other news, I had a birthday.  Coworkers broke out in song and presented cake during a break in anxiety riddled activity.  When asked what I was doing for my birthday, I truthfully explained, "nothing really". 

Magnum's birthday is later this week.  Then there's Thanksgiving.  We just lump the three together.

Honestly, I don't really remember any birthday celebrations since I turned 21.  Seems that's the last biggie:  Okay, we can drink legally now.  No need to keep counting.  That year, I also celebrated with coworkers.  

We went out after work (I was a quality inspector at a big corporation), quite late since we worked 2nd shift.  I had my first legal drink in a bar, but didn't get trashed.  Actually, by that point in my life, I'd drunk enough illegally that getting trashed wasn't big on my agenda.  But it was a good time.

My coworkers now are a nice bunch too.  One gifted me a cashmere sweater set - no, not for my birthday.  That would be a bit much!  She'd been trying to sell the set on ebay, but no takers, and she said she'd rather give it to me than donate it to Goodwill, so okay.  It just happened to coincide with my birthday.

It's too small for her now, and her advice, in hindsight, to me was to wear it a lot rather than save it for special times.  Now, this woman is not necessarily "fat", but she has very large boobs.  I honestly think they are not original equipment. They're a bit too... "solid" looking in their largeness.  She would tell me if I asked, but I haven't felt a need.  

Bottom line, I got a new-to-me cashmere sweater set.  No goats were harmed in the making.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

you were good to me

Thank you to those offering comforting thoughts regarding the tragic loss of Michelle.  Yes, she was vaccinated and also had compromising issues.  But she was by no means "fragile" - very active with her family and the community and her work.  Loved to travel.  She's left a palpable void. 

A week prior to her passing, she was admitted to the hospital and put on a ventilator - certainly not a good sign.  She'd been showing teeny signs of improvement with her medical team hoping to take her off the ventilator soon. Then she had a stroke, her body working so hard.

There was really no hope at that point, so the family planned to move her to comfort care.  She passed away right after the ventilator was removed.  At least she didn't linger. 

I've known several people who've had COVID.  Two of them have died from it.  But the others got through it without much fuss.  Some have mentioned "long COVID" symptoms - brain fog and fatigue, mostly.  Many don't really know how/where they got it.

And the world keeps spinning.  I'm looking forward to a little Thanksgiving break next week.  There's
always plenty to be thankful for!  

I'm thankful for people still blogging and still stopping by!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

if I say I'm fine, I'm lyin'

I still can't quite believe it.  I lost another friend.  

Wonderful Michelle - wife, mom, daughter, friend, business woman, and so much more - succumbed yesterday to fucking COVID. 

Michelle is another of my sisters in P.E.O. and flawless.  Two weeks ago, she was fine.  Now she's gone, leaving a husband, four kids, one grandchild, and many many friends.

Rest In Peace, Michelle 💓

Friday, November 12, 2021

fever, holes, and a precious pig

Thanksgiving 2003 was a memorable one.  We were in the midst of moving from Utah to Colorado and checked in to a hotel room.  Chaco and Wolfgang were elementary school-aged, and Meego was a toddler. We'd just arrived in town, and the bulk of our possessions were on a moving truck somewhere. 

After getting settled at the hotel, we went to check out our soon-to-be new neighborhood.  We made sure the keys worked in our empty rental house, then took the short walk to the elementary school to check out the all-important playground while the school was closed due to the holiday.

About halfway to the school, however, Wolfgang started to lag.  This was strange as back-in-the-day Wolfgang would typically be leading the pack once the word "playground" was audibled.  A quick once over determined that, yep, he'd come down with something.

By the afternoon, Wolfgang was feverish and languishing in the hotel bed.  Everyone else was raring to get out and explore our new surroundings.  Plus, it was Thanksgiving.  What's to eat?

I "took one for the team" and stayed in the infirmary with Wolfgang while Magnum took Chaco and Meego out for exploration and dining.  I don't remember where they went to eat, but Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant is a bit depressing to me anyway.  As I recall, our hotel room had a mini fridge and I'd gotten some food to sustain us.  Wolfgang and I probably had some sort of hotel room sandwich for Thanksgiving '03.

I do remember him sleeping a lot while I read the book, Holes, in its entirety.  As I was out getting a few groceries earlier, I'd picked up the book to read while "holed up" at the hotel - it seemed fitting.  Tightwad Thoughtful, caring mom that I was, I purposely selected a book that the whole family could read rather than something that would be particularly entertaining just for me.  Note that this was before hotels had wi-fi, and you could just stream videos willy nilly.

So I read all about Stanley Yelnats digging holes at a desert boy's detention camp while listening to Wolfgang's febrile mumurings.  Wolfgang had this thing - maybe he still does, dunno - where, when sleeping off  a fever, he would talk in his sleep.  A lot.

He never sleep walked, but he would sit up and talk about all kinds of things as if he were fully awake.  His eyes would be wide open, and he'd look me right in the eyes and speak from some far off plane.  

It wasn't often easy to "talk  him down".  In fact, I think most times, he just stopped on his own whatever schedule and would fall back to deeper sleep.  

That day, the other guys eventually came back, and the room got a little more energized.  Meego and Chaco were watching something on the TV when Wolfgang suddenly sat up, looked over at Chaco and said,

"Don't do it, Chaco!"

Don't do what?  We all wanted to know.  Wolfgang cleared it up for us as he was acting very protective of his pillow.

"Don't touch my pig!", he clarified, somewhat cradling the pillow.

"Wolfgang, you're dreaming", I told him .  

He turned his head toward me, looked me right in the eyes, and said, "Okay".  

Then he went back to glaring at Chaco, "Don't do it!"

This exchange repeated about three or four times, then was over as mysteriously as it had started.  The pig apparently unharmed.

By the weekend, our moving truck had arrived, and Wolfgang was mostly over his mystery illness after a few more sleep rants in the new-to-us house.  We did all end up reading Holes (which strangely includes an imperiled pig) together, and later,  watched the movie.  Probably because of that fateful book selection, none of our kids ever ended up n a boys' desert detention camp.

It was certainly a memorable Thanksgiving.  

  • We moved across state lines,
  • We conducted a successful preemptive strike against the potential for any of our kids ending up in boys detention camp, and
  • We preserved the safety of a beloved pig.  Apparently

Eighteen years later, I'd say we have yet to top it.

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

3. Write about a memorable Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

how smashing

I had a routine mammogram scheduled for last August.  The doctor's office called and said the mammo-machine was on the fritz, and I would need to reschedule.  

I got rescheduled for September, and they called again to say that the new mammo-machine was great, but they were still working out a few bugs and I would need to reschedule.

I got rescheduled for October, and they called to check if I'd had any recent vaccinations.  If so, I would need to reschedule.

This, a couple of days after I got my flu shot. wouldn't ya know. Okay, fine.

I'm now scheduled for the end of December.  Any bets that the mammo happens?  That new machine's gonna be old by the time I get in there.  Honestly, I'm not disappointed to have these mammograms cancelled.  I've not gotten a COVID booster and was planning to wait until early next year anyway.

But yeah, that flu shot.  I noticed the morning after I got it that my left armpit was gelatinously swollen.  I'd taken the shot in my left arm and hadn't noticed the swelling until I went to shave and was all,

"WTF is THAT?"

I googled and of course learned that I was dying, but that it could also be a reaction to a vaccine in the form of swollen lymph nodes.  It took almost a week for the swelling to go down.  Anyone had that experience before?  For all I know, it's happened to me before, I just had never noticed.  I take it as evidence that my flu shot - and my lymph nodes - did its job.  

Now, onward to a completed mammogram for Christmas.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

getting organized

This old bag got a new bag.  Recall I was contemplating getting a new bicycling bag after a stronger, faster commuter went by me, flashing big leg muscles and a pretty bag. I researched and contemplated getting that damn bag for myself.

Thank you to those who chimed in, saying I should get the damn bag.  I did (minus the cat) and have been happily using it for a week.  We are getting along famously.

The bag actually comes in three sizes:  Mini Metro/ Citizen/ Metropolis... aka S/M/L.

Because of my petite torso, I got the Mini Metro, figuring anything bigger would be too much for me.  I figured correctly.  The "Mini" is plenty big, and I have no desire to carry any more than this holds.

I've always used backpacks and waistpacks in the past, never seeing the advantage to the over-the-shoulder messenger bags, but by George, it's better!

Since it sits lower and weight is distributed differently, it's very comfortable wearing this bag while on a bicycle.  On the flip side, I wouldn't want to use it for hiking.

It easily holds everything I schlep around, even on these moody fall days with big temperature swings when I want to swap the hefty morning outwear for lightweight afternoon garb.

Yesterday I needed to make an amazon return - too-big shoes in their box - and set out for Whole Foods.  My other go-to bag can't handle a shoe box, but Mini handled it with aplomb plus ample space for  the other crap I needed to carry - lock, phone, wallet, etc.

The errand to Whole Foods was all really just a ruse to get out for a joyride in the lovely fall weather we've been having.

Stopped for a selfie in this nice tunnel of elms on the university campus.  Pretty soon, I'll be whining about the snow and ice and cold, but at least I'll have a weatherproof bag 😊.  

Mini is "guaranteed for life", so guess I'm gonna stick around a good long while more to get my full benefit.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

this is a test

"He stepped out of the office for a few minutes, is there something I can help  you with?"

One day at work, I was chatting with my loquacious boss.  He was telling me about things he looks for during interviews as he was in the process of hiring a new part-timer.

"Yeah, I have a series of questions, but there's really one main answer I'm interested in", he said. He continued, "You got it correct".

So I'm sitting there trying to remember his interview questions when he reveals, "It's where I ask what you would say if a patron comes in and asks to speak with the director".

I'd said that I would first ask if there was something I could help them with and take it from there.  So when I took a phone call yesterday, and the caller asked for my boss by name (strange since Boss has his own phone line), I told the caller that he'd stepped out (true, Boss was in the bathroom), and asked if I could help.

The man on the phone asked why his son was unable to take his test with us.  I won't bore with the details, but these tests are highly secure, and names on registrations for test takers must exactly match their identifying documents or we can't launch their exams.  As a testing center, we don't register people for tests, we just administer tests after they register and then make an appointment with us.  The man on the phone thought that making the appointment with us secured his son's ability to take the test.  

The guy was registered in his mother's name.  Apparently his mom registered for him and mistakenly?  oddly?  helicopterly?  submitted her name. Their names weren't even close - different last names even.  

We advised  him to contact the testing board to correct the name, and we would go from there.  I'll mention that the would-be tester is college age, and that registration instructions explicitly state the name requirements.

So the dad was calling to figure out what happened and what his son needed to do.  Reasonable enough.  The disturbing part of the phone call, for me, was that I could hear a woman on an absolute RANT in the background.  Omigosh.

Screaming over and over, "HE NEEDS TO TAKE THE TEST TO-DAY!"..."HE NEEDS TO TAKE THE TEST TO-DAY!"..."HE NEEDS TO TAKE THE TEST TO-DAY!"... at the seeming top of her lungs.

Since this was a  phone call, I couldn't see the woman's body language, but dang.  I seriously thought she was in need of fast-working medication.  Seriously.

To his credit, the man I was speaking with was relatively calm about the whole thing.  And to the woman's credit, I don't recall any swearing on her part, but dang.  

After briefly explaining the situation, I did take the message for Boss, and Boss called the man back a few minutes later explaining the same thing.  This went down mid-morning, and we'd not heard back nor seen the kid again by the time I left in the afternoon.  

Crap like this happens once in a while, although I've not ever seen someone registered in their mother's name try to take a test.  But minor misspellings, lost or expired IDs, etc. happen and are cleared up with relative ease.  

Her ranting in the background of that phone call was replaying in my head the rest of the day.  I am/was a bit concerned for her and for the son, who seemed like a nice enough kid.  

  • Why did she fill out the registration in her name?
  • Was she, in fact, losing it?
  • Why was the man so calm, like this is typical behavior?
  • Why didn't the kid come back?

Well, I hope everyone's okay.  He needs to take his test today?  Today is now yesterday.

Monday, November 1, 2021

life is a series of challenges

Anyone want some candy?  We had zero trick-or-treaters  last night.  Last year, we had one group, but it was COVID times, and we weren't sure what was the norm.  This year, COVID isn't as big a deterrent, but it was a cold, wet evening, so maybe?  Anyway, we've got leftovers.

Other than that, it was a good ending to the month.  I did manage to pull out a few more drawings for Inktober '21.  I include the fat raven here because I forgot him in the last update.

In all, I finished with 11 drawings out of 31 prompts, so at least I got into double digits.

So yes, I participated.  Yes, I had a good time with it.  No, I didn't do it under pressure.  The "purpose" of Inktober is to get people into the habit of drawing on a regular basis, so for me, it worked.

In other participation prizes, I ran a 10K yesterday morning.  It was the October Tortoise and Hare race for the local running club.

These are typically run around the start/end of the month, and it wasn't intentionally a Halloween themed event.  Not surprisingly though, there were a few people in costumes.  I was passed by a cow and a Wonder Woman and was able to pass a Chewbacca and a Spider Man.  I saw a few other costumes along the course,

For the most part, actually, we were dressed to deal with the wet, drizzly conditions.  Here, I'm waiting for my start time (I was warming my hand, not picking my nose) behind this mom of undefined pink costume with her bat babies.

I did manage to stay quite dry for the duration.  I was wearing a fleece neck gaiter at the start, but once I warmed up, I pulled the gaiter up around my head.  

So no, I was not trying to appear dressed as a snake charmer. My finishing "turban" is merely the result of wardrobe management.  

In all, I was happy with how I did - came in slightly faster than the algorithm predicted.  These Tortoise and Hares are fun, but it's been a while since I've done a typical mass start race, and I kind of miss those.  First world problems, I know.

Now it's the start November already.  National Novel Writing Month.  

Don't hold me to that one.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

that time of year again

28.  Crispy
We are nearly to the end of October already.  I have no candy for trick-or-treaters yet.  Will they be interested in scraps?

Inktober is nearly wrapped up, and I have less to show for it than in years past, but I'm okay with it.  No pressure.  Today's prompt is "Crispy" for my buzzard friend.

I hadn't drawn much more than doodles for the past several weeks whenever I'd pick up my pens.  At first, doodling was a form of meditation for me after Malcolm's sudden and unexpected death.  And I sorta stopped drawing "real" things.

So I'm grateful for Inktober for providing prompts and getting me out of my doodling stupor even though I got behind in the prompts nearly before the thing started this year.  

But it's been a good busy.  My Mother-in-Law was in town last weekend with her husband.  The second recent in-law visit since I have two full sets of them.  yay.  Oh well, it wasn't bad, and it's nice that all our kids are around to visit with them as well.  These in-laws are both in their mid- to late-80s and it's a bit worrisome to think of them driving the interstate, but they got here and back home okay.  

Anyway, here's the rest of what I have for Inktober '21 thus far:

Yup, a whopping seven out of 28 submissions to date.  But better than nuthin'. Twenty-fifth percentile!  Well, it's not a competition... not a competition... not a competition... not a competition...


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
5. Throwback Thursday. What were you blogging about last year at this time? What has changed?

Monday, October 25, 2021

the old bag

The first thing I noticed were his legs.  Yes, (1) they were quite large and muscular, but (2) the temperature was upper 30's - a bit chilly for shorts in my book.  Maybe big muscles are warming. 

After acknowledging the big bare legs on the crisp morning, the next thing I noted was his bag. It was attractive and resting comfortably-looking on his back, made specifically for bicycling.  He continued south at the point where I turn east, but not before I'd acquired a good case of bag envy.

This happened one morning last week as I was riding my bicycle in to work.  Mornings are busy with bicycle traffic as I live in between a high school and an elementary school.  Packs of high schoolers pass in my opposite direction as I ride along with the elementals and, sometimes, a parent or two.

But Bag Guy was no high schooler, nor a parent of an elementary kid.  He looked to be another commuter like myself - but younger, faster, with stronger legs and nicer bag.

Until then, I'd been content enough with the backpack I wear to work.  It's about 3 years old and still in decent shape.  It holds what I need and then some.  I emptied it out for a round of what's-in-my-bag:

And I thought, "well, just for fun, let's see if I can find that guy's bag online", which of course I did.

I found it all over:  the bag company website, Amazon, All at the same price

The bag company detected me lurking around and offered me 10% off my purchase.  But I can get it from amazon with free shipping, which about balances with the 10% off, BUT I can get it from REI, pick it up myself and avoid shipping altogether PLUS get my 10% dividend.

And then I thought, "Wait, do I need a new bag?".  Well, no 

"Does that bag have some nice features my current one doesn't?".  Well, yes.

"But do I need it?". Well, no

...and so on.  

My inner don't-settle-for-less struggles with my inner minimalist. 

Then this morning, this popped up in my Instagram feed.  This black cat in the bag I want/don't need.


I've always liked black cats.

"Is this cat telling me to get the damn bag already?".  Well... ?

Sunday, October 17, 2021

how far off, I sat and wondered

Thursday night, I was awakened by... nature sounds?  In my grogginess, I thought maybe it was raining, and I was hearing soft drips from the backyard trees.  Then I remembered it was cold outside and our windows were closed.

Upon further awakening, I concluded the sounds were coming from the cat.  He was cleaning himself.  But then... he doesn't usually clean himself so loudly, so moistly

At that point I debated on whether I even wanted to know what he was doing.  But yeah, of course I needed to find out.  I flicked on the reading lamp.


He was eating a mouse. SH*T!

We've spotted some mice lately, running around the yard.  It seems they've infiltrated.  On the one hand, I was all, "Yay, the cat's doing his job!".  And on the other hand, "Ew".

We had a similar awakening on Friday night.  We're sure he's catching the mice somewhere in the house, then bringing them to our bedroom as trophies.  Yeah, no.

Thankfully, last night was mouse free.  I'm hoping the others, if they exist, have gotten the message.  And I'm thinking it's highly likely there are more than just two, because when there are two... there are never just two.

And yes, we have mouse traps now.  And also, for this reason, I've deemed that we will always love and care for employ a family cat.  Napolion's badass.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

we're the old ones now

Aside from biting the dark dust on Thursday morning, this has been a  nice week. And this weekend happened to be homecoming and parents' weekend at the university.

Back in the days before we lived here, Magnum and I traditionally skipped parents' weekend and instead came up to visit on the following weekend, rebels that we are.  Well, not so much rebellion, but more about avoiding crowds, traffic, and high hotel rates - provided one can find a room available.  

Plus, we didn't attend school here, but rather attended the in-state rival university, so no "homecoming" for us either.  We lived in town last year but, alas, there was a world-wide pandemic happening. There were no crowds or hotel logistics to deal with, but... yeah.

4th year's a charm, I guess, as we were actually present, somewhat.  We didn't go to the football game or bonfire, etc.  Leave that for the college kids.  Meego and his house mates hosted a parents' weekend BBQ bash at their place last night, so partake we did.

They are 4 guys - all great "kids" - renting a house near campus. Pretty decent place with a nice backyard for such events.  They've got a patio, grill, fire pit, corn hole out back and a well-done beer pong table in the garage *ahem*.  Veeery college dudes vibe.  And a nice turnout for the bash with all the house parents in attendance, even a coupla grandparents, and several college friends. 

Our hosts accommodated us by playing 80's music, while admitting to not knowing hardly any of the artists.  Magnum and I behaved ourselves and left the drinking games to the youngsters, although a coupla parents joined for a bit, citing Uber as an option.  Not sure about Grandma and Gramps.

So a nice week for the students, with the football team even pulling out the all important win.  One hitch was that the college Prez recently tested positive for COVID.  She stated in her email that she'd been exposed about a week prior, so was tested.  As such, she quarantined herself from homecoming events. So bummer for her, but she said she felt fine, and hopefully that's still the case.

The party was reminiscent of my own college days, although those guys live quite more comfortably than I ever did during those times.  In the meantime, I'm working through my gardening extension classes. Finished soils and botany and am now learning entomology (bugs).

Metamorphosis is interesting:  larval stage all about eating and growing.  Adults' job is to reproduce and die.  

Anyway, had a good time this weekend with the larvae.  Next?

Thursday, October 7, 2021

something strange in your neighborhood

It makes sense that we call the current season "Fall".  I totally get it now.  

I was out enjoying a lovely run this morning, before sunrise.  Best time of day, right?  The trees and their ancestors cohorted to take me out.

I was loping along this particular section of sidewalk, a particular section I've walked and jogged many a time before.  But the trees, they had it in for me 

The lovely sidewalk in the friendly daylight

It was early morning, it was dark.  There are streetlights interspersed along the road, but those Ash trees are so good and providing shade...

Then there's the friendly fences that create a nice boundary between the public and private properties.  The trees talked to the fence... or the fence talked to the trees.  I dunno, but whoever's idea it was, I bit it.

I was moving along my merry way down the sidewalk, had entered the under-canopy of those tree friends.  I could make my way just fine in the temporary darkness.  Then,

wham-blam! (or something like that).  I was on the ground.

Realizing I was no longer upright, I sought the reason.  Oh fine, a slat from a section of fence had broken free and landed crosswise in the sidewalk.  A ghost of trees past, it's the only explanation.  My knobby knees and knobby shoulder we're its main victims.

In the end, no real harm done.  Coupla skinned knees, little shoulder abrasion, and a slightly tweaked rib near my right boob/underarm (heaven knows I've not got a lot of padding in that particular region). I got up and finished runnin' the route and took the "poor me" photo of the knee wounds when I got home.  

Have a nice trip, see ya next fall!

Coulda been a lot worse... as in... so glad no one saw me.


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

6. Write about a time you thought there was a ghost.

Monday, October 4, 2021

turn down for what

Happy October!  It feels good to wrap up summer, I think.  I'll be whining about cold and dark soon enough, though.

Magnum and I had a free Sunday yesterday and decided to take a drive up to Estes Park, CO for a little "getaway".  HA! Joke's on us.

We got there, and it was CROWD-DED.  We wondered if this was typical?  I mean, it was a beautiful day weather-wise, Estes Park is a popular tourist trap... But lo and behold, we soon learned it as the annual Elk Fest!  

"The festival coincides with the famous elk rut, or elk mating season"

And, in fact, we did see a herd of elk meandering through the masses.  Here's one of them, totally ignoring the traffic laws.

So, yes.  It's mating season in the high country, and the elk don't care who knows what they're up to.  Our quiet getaway squashed, we made the most of it and headed to the festival where we stopped by several booths of typical fest fair:  handmade jewelry, purses and bags, nature photographs, live birds of prey, and a double-wide tent featuring pelts and antlers of several dead animals.

Estes Park is also home to the Stanley Hotel, Stephen King's inspiration for The Shining.  We did a ghost tour of the place a few years ago during a winter break.  Highly recommend.

We didn't go inside the hotel on this visit, just appreciated it from afar.

After our fill of scenery and Elk Fest festivities, we headed back home, confident that the elk will do their thing and carry on the species.

On the drive up, we noticed a few bighorn sheep crossing signs, but didn't see any of those creatures.  The ride home didn't disappoint, however:  

I love ewe.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

act like you don't see me

I was talking with one of my coworkers today, sort of connecting the dots to how we'd both ended up working at a college in a testing center.  

I knew she'd been a school teacher for several years, elementary through high school.  But then she told me she originally wanted to be a nurse.

"I liked science, and took the test, and was accepted into a good school, but I just wasn't sure that I could really do it", she explained.

So she tried the waters and earned her CNA certification.

"The first job they assigned me was in a dementia ward of a nursing home, and in a short period of time, it became a job I just DREADED going to".

It was enough to turn her off nursing school, and she ended up enrolling in an education program instead.

I had a similar try-it-and-see experience when I thought I might want to be a high school teacher.  I took a job as a non-licensed para at a high school back in 2017, remember?  Do ya?

I figured it was a good way to literally get my foot in the door toward being a licensed teacher and also a way to see if I'd like working in a public high school.

The short answer is, "NOPE".

I won't go into a detailed bitchfest of what I think is wrong with public high school.  And really, it's not all bad, it just was not my cup of tea.

I'm grateful for that job since it saved me from putting any more time and energy (and money) into pursuing a teaching license.

I remember one kid, Chris.  He was a senior who'd transferred in after moving from another state.  He was a bit of a "thug".  Didn't work very hard at at school, got into trouble for truancies and such, didn't care much for authority. But he had pretty solid attendance, probably to the disappointment of some of his teachers.

I worked in the study hall, and he would goof around in there while other students were trying to work.  He once told me that he didn't have anything to work on, so I told him I'd give him some math problems, which I did.

He worked on them for the remainder of the time and handed the worksheet back to me before leaving.  I looked it over, and he'd done it all correctly.  That was honestly a surprise.

Another time, he was again acting up, out of boredom I suppose - again having nothing to work on because his class schedule was ridiculously light.  I asked if there was something he liked to do that was school related and could be done quietly.  He told me he liked to write.  Specifically, he liked to write Rap lyrics.

"Great, write some Rap", I enthused.

"You wouldn't like what I write", he responded.

"No, go ahead, write whatever you want", I said.  But he still declined, saying it could get him in (more) trouble,

"Okay, write a Rap song about yourself, then", I tried.

To my surprise, he did.  To my bigger surprise, he showed it to me and asked what I thought

It wasn't nasty or filled with cusswords - not too many anyway.  He wrote about liking basketball - he'd tried out for the school team, but didn't have the grades to stay on the roster - and hanging out and coming up with Rap lyrics.  He wrote about missing his friends back in the town he'd moved from.  He wrote about his eye for fashion - he was a bit of a sneakerhead and liked hip hop style clothing.  The school didn't allow any bling, though.

I found it surprisingly good and thoughtful.  And maybe more surprising, he seemed to really want to know what I thought.

There was a pep rally in the gym one day.  I was already terribly bored with the job and just there out of obligation.  I noticed Chris in the stands among the other seniors.  He was trying to get into the cheers - how the different classes try to out scream each other at those things.  But he was off to the side by himself and didn't really know the different cheers.  

Another day in the study hall, another time I'd pulled him aside for being too rowdy, we were back near my desk, thinking of something he could do quietly for the next hour.  He leaned in and whispered,

"I don't really fit in at this school".

I whispered back,

"Me neither".


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
5. Write about a time someone surprised you

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

it's a start

My thoughts while listening to other runners strategizing before the start:  "Geez people, it's just a fun run.  Chill"

My thoughts while getting bunched up at the turnaround: "Move it or move aside!  Sheesh, this isn't a Sunday stroll!"

My local run club had our first race of the Tortoise and Hare season last Sunday.  Weather was beaut.  It was a short fast race - 4K, so about 2.5 miles.  

Tortoise and Hare races are sort of "backward".  Instead of a mass start with finishers trickling in, T&Hs estimate everyone's finishing times, then we start accordingly.  Slower runners start first, and several waves of runners follow.  We are spaced at 30-second intervals.  If the estimates are accurate, we all finish at nearly the same time.

It usually works out quite well, the club's algorithm for predicting finishing times is based on previous T&H races and has proven to be pretty accurate.  My start time was 20 minutes into the race, and a few speedster waves started after me.  We were pretty bunched up by the halfway point and continued to take on mass toward the finish.  

The club does a T&H each month from September through March, supposedly to keep people running through the winter.  

Here's the start of my wave, all of us looking a little bored?  

It was fun to race again with a good turnout.  Next month is a 10K, just in time for Halloween.  Hopefully it won't snow.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

to hug or not to hug

It's been a minute since I visited my space here.  I decided to open up my tutoring biz for a little side gig income streaming, and it didn't take long for the requests to trickle in.  I took on three students before closing the request door again.  Nice kids, all.  Two local seniors, one online junior.  Keeping me maybe a little too busy.

One of the locals, I'm pretty sure, has ADHD.  "Slow down and focus, Betty.  FoCUs!" (her name's not Betty).  I've had ADHD tutees before, and they are a challenge.  Helps me sympathize and appreciate not having that particular disorder.

But I do enjoy the work and was worried about my brain turning mushy from not doing it.  Now that COVID restrictions aren't so limiting, I like having the option of meeting in-person again.  

I don't go to people's homes and instead meet locals at libraries or such.  WAAAY back when I first started tutoring for a test prep company, we were advised against tutoring in homes.  If we did go to a student's house, a "responsible adult" had to be present because there are scammers/ opportunists who might claim something happened that never did.

Personally, I think students typically do better if they have to get their stuff together, get properly dressed, and leave the house to meet.  Even meeting online isn't so bad since they need to have their materials ready in one spot and login to an account.

So scammers and opportunists aside, the handful of times I did go to someone's home, I quickly grew tired of students who didn't have their stuff ready, who'd maybe just crawled out of bed, sat eating a meal or snack during tutoring, interacted with their pets... yeah, no.  Not doing it.

One of my coworkers has also worked as an adjunct instructor at the college.  He told me about a female student who once came to him in tears, asking if she could do a make up of a test she'd missed. With broken sentences she explained having "a lot going on right now", and feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all.

He told me he interrupted her speech and just gave her a hug "because she really seemed to need one".

And I was thinking, "Ooooh, Steve, nooooo".  

I get that she probably did need a hug, but not from her college instructor?  Her older male college instructor?  

So it got me thinking.  I wouldn't hug a high schooler, but I have had college students who were grown ass adults and nearly my age and almost on "friend" terms.  Hugs though?  Female student maybe, men, hmmm, no.  

Steve thinks it was the right thing, so maybe it was.  Every situation is different.  Steve also says he has ADHD.  

Oh, look, a squirrel!