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!


Monday, September 20, 2021

advantages of social distancing

Summer is winding down.  We're getting hints of fall, then we get hit with another day in the 90s.  But at least we don't get hurricanes in these parts.

One day last summer, I noticed a new sign on one of the bike paths, showing a "COVID Bike Route ", and I wondered, "What the heck's a COVID bike route?"

I learned that it's a bike route that is particularly wide so we don't breathe on each other too much while passing.  I'm wondering if someday things like these signs, chains of separation on buses, etc. will end up in the Smithsonian or in some COVID museum.  

...or will they just become the usual?

A couple of weeks ago at this same intersection, I pulled up behind a couple of middle-agers on bicycles - man and woman.  I thought I recognized the man right away as the guy we bought our house from.  The woman was probably his wife.

They're a nice enough couple.  I've mentioned that the house we bought was a rental when we moved in, and we ended  up buying it from our landlords.  So we'd known them in that capacity and had a pretty casual negotiation in buying the house.  

Most of our tenant dealings had been with the wife even though her husband was the sole owner of the house.  I found her very easy to get along with.  

The husband is also a nice guy, but there's just... something... about him.  Hard to put my finger on it.  He's a bit cartoonish, for lack of a better term.  Physically big and talks a lot without saying much.  But in a very friendly way.

So I approached them from behind as they were stopped at the intersection, waiting for the signal to go.  I kept my distance as I slowed in order to politely social distance on the COVID route avoid having to chat with them.  

Yes, admittedly, I hoped they wouldn't recognize me lest I get hooked in to a long drawn out chit chat of small talk.  Honestly, I would think they preferred to avoid that too.  It was a Friday afternoon.  I'm guessing they took the day or afternoon off of work to enjoy a bike ride together.  They didn't need a rental-tenant-turned-property-buyer to interrupt their "date".  

Plus, the dude was without a shirt, which I found a bit off putting.  I mean, the guy's a big man in his late 50s/ early 60s.  There's certainly no law against it, but shirts are our friends.  Add that to his inclination toward effusive talking, and I decided I'd prefer to avoid being recognized.  

Once we got the signal to proceed, I dingled my bell and made a wide pass of the couple like any old stranger on the bike path - hoping the helmet and dark glasses make us all look alike anyways.

Glad it was the COVID route.

Friday, September 17, 2021

no dark sarcasm

Last night, I was walking the dogs and could hear much football activity from the high school.  The school is less than half a mile from our house, and its stadium is THE stadium for the school district.  Each of the four district high schools' home football games and other events are held there.  

The announcer announced, the band played, the cheerleaders cheered, the crowd roared.  It all sounded very similar to when I was in high school several years ago - brought on feelings of reminiscence.  

I remember reading, somewhere, that our high school memories are usually so vivid because they're made during a time of big changes.  Although typically lasting only 4 years, high school takes us from awkward adolescence to early adulthood.  

What would a yearbook photo be without someone (not even covertly) flipping the bird?
Find  the Abby? (not flipping the bird)

I have no desire to return to high school or adolescence, but I miss certain things from that time of life.  

  • I miss having a bunch of friends at the ready to hang out with, anytime.
  • I miss the extra bonding that comes from competing on a sports team and performing in a band/ choir.
  • I miss making frequent measurable progress in school subjects.

Then there was college.  College could be a grind, and I wasn't as involved in "student life" at a big university as I was at my small high school.  I was an undergrad back when most students didn't own  their own computers.  We walked around carrying our projects on disks and hoping for a decent vacant computer in one of the computer labs.

I remember one night near finals when final projects were coming due. I was in a full computer lab around midnight.  The air was thick with anxiety. There were no other sounds but that of clicking on keyboards.  Out of the clicking burst a classmate, Mary, 


STEM students are typically rather quiet and reserved.  Yeah... Mary wasn't one of those.

But still, from those days...
  • I miss having a bunch of friends at the ready to hang out with, anytime.
  • I miss the extra bonding that (hopefully) comes from meeting new roommates and completing group projects.
  • I miss being focused on something that would (most likely) propel me to a professional career.

I recently started my coursework for a gardening program offered as an extension through the university.  I know so little about growing healthy plants.  A nice thing about this program is that it also provides information specific to Colorado growers.

I plan to use my acquired knowledge as a hobby and, among other things, do something with our yard.

All the courses are online.  I'm not "graded", but will receive a certificate of completion.  There's really no schedule, and I can work through the courses in any order.  I like the relatively low level of complexity and pressure and instantly related to this meme when I saw it:

Yeah, just gimme the basics

There are certainly things I don't miss about school.  Pressure and confusion being a couple of them.

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

2. Write about what you miss most about going to school.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

getting clean

We've been watching Nine Perfect Strangers on Hulu.  You watchin'?  Good escapist TV, comes in handy these days.

I happened to catch the first episode, and it really drew me in.  I think the casting is super well done.  It deals with people at a wellness retreat - to become "better".  There are drugs involved, both as addictions to escape from and as to use for wellness treatment.  

So... what's the difference?

A friend recently told me that she's addicted to smoking weed.  She's determined to stop, not to get over her dependence, but because she knows the smoking is bad for her lungs.  She's developed a noticeable phlegmy cough.  

She says the pot helps to calm her thoughts.  She smokes before going on walks with her dog, and the smoking-walking routine is rather therapeutic.  She's tried edibles and infusions, but apparently she's developed such a high tolerance from the smoking that no other form works for her.  If something other than smoking did the trick, she'd switch in a heartbeat.  

I'll note that she is about my age, has a stable marriage, lives comfortably in a suburban home, has a good relationship with step-kids in their 20's, is productive at her profession, is very sociable and well-liked... 

She told me she's considering hypnosis to kick her habit.  She doesn't want to go to rehab because of the stigma of, "I went to rehab".

When she said that, admittedly, I did think, "Wow, rehab?  It's that bad?"

So I'm watching Nine Perfect Strangers and wondering what that would be like.  Would I cope okay for ten days?  With no connection to the outside world - no news, no internet, no contact with friends or family... no alcohol, no caffeine?

Sure, I could do ten days.   

I think?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

oh, she's precious!

College football season is upon us.  I really don't follow college football, but I live in a college town, so it's difficult to not pick up on what's happening locally.  The university's season home opener was Friday, and it did not go well, so I've heard.

The CU Buffaloes - my alma mater - won their game ( GO BUFFS!) against... whoever they played.  I wasn't paying attention to that.

But what WAS on a lot of people's minds was the new CU mascot:  Ralphie VI.  Ralphie is a live buffalo that runs at the start of every CU home game and also the start of the second half,  It's rather exciting to watch - often more exciting than the actual football game for some *ahem*.

It's exciting because Ralphie is this huge mammal being controlled (loose term) by five handlers, or "Ralphie Runners", and directed by several others.  Being a Ralphie Runner is not for the weak, and one must try out and make the team.  

Here's a typical "Ralphie Run" for example.  Watch the runners.  Could you do it?:

The tradition's been going on for years, and there have been several Ralphies - Five to be exact.  Well, there is now a Ralphie VI, and she made her debut run on Saturday.

I didn't have a stake in the game at all, but I was curious to see how the newest Ralphie did.  Omigosh, she's so little!

I know there are some who don't like live animal mascots for college sports, but I understand that Ralphie is treated very well, like royalty almost.  

I can understand why.  

Hoping for many more years... and several more pounds... for Ralphie VI!  And football records?  

Yeah, whatever.

Monday, September 6, 2021

the mattress that you stole

Happy Labor Day!  Celebrating the "workin' man" today.  To me, it's the unofficial end of summer.  I was out laboring in what currently passes as our "landscape".  Suffice to say that we're tearing it down in order to build it up.  

My in-laws, namely Magnum's dad and stepmother, had been visiting since midweek.  They saw some sights around Fort Collins, mainly with Magnum, for a few days, then we got together in Boulder last night with more family to celebrate the FIL's 87th birthday.  A nice, rather posh, bash it was.  

On Saturday, we met up at the university's flower trial garden. Meego and Wolfgang, as well as Magnum's brother joined us. Lotsa flowers (pronounced 'flares' in redneck-speak).  It was a beautiful morning for it.  Some pics:

There were plenty of bees around, and I am allergic, but they couldn't care less about me or other humans with all that lovely flower nectar to be had.  

Then yesterday, off to Boulder.  Magnum and I attended and met in school at CU Boulder.  I've got many fond memories of the place but haven't been back much.  It was nice to visit, although the locale we were at was quite changed.  I wouldn't mind living there again, but these days, housing prices are quite ridiculous.  We could afford the back of a van maybe.

Dinner was at a swanky hotel.  (Lucky) Thirteen of us altogether.  I think FIL had a nice birthday, and I enjoyed visiting with the extended family.  Hadn't seen the stepmother-in-law's daughter and her family since the FIL's 70th birthday bash.  Magnum's bro and sis and our kids helped round out the baker's dozen.  

We've gotten together many times over the years.  FIL used to tear up the ski slopes.  Now he walks with a cane.  Was it really that long ago that Magnum and I, along with Magnum's siblings and stepsister, would travel to these meetups as college kids?  Now, we're the ones with the kids in college and beyond.  

My time in denial is running out.  

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

always be

It's highly probable that my and Malcolm's paths wouldn't have crossed after we went our separate ways after leaving our jobs at the old folks home.  We were a generation apart, just coworkers really, I didn't know his family or friends outside of work.

But then came the day he died.  I doubt I will ever forget finding out.  It was a Sunday, and the evening shift was clocking in.  One of the girls, Ella, looked to us all, "Is it true?  Did you guys hear?  About Malcolm?"

She pulled up posts on Instagram from mutual friends, none of them stating it in so many words, but leaving little other option.  Walk chalk messages and hearts, "RIP, Malcolm"... what else could they mean?  

We all pulled out our phones, looking to see if anyone else knew anything, the younger crew Snapchatting away.  It couldn't be true.  Could it?

I texted him.  He never texted back.

Shortly after, it was confirmed to us from HR.  It's been over three months now, and think of Malcolm often.  I think of silly things that happened at work.  It was certainly not a glamorous job at all, but it was one that was rich with teamwork.  I don't miss the work, but I miss those coworkers.  

Watching all these kids going back to school, and freshmen moving into dorms, I think of Malcolm and his family.  He'd planned to start at the university this fall and major in business after taking the year after high school off because of the COVID lockdown.

I think of the lost potential and the void he left behind.  

His  mom reports that they still get middle-of-the-night chalk messages that mean so much to them.  He would have turned 20 last week.  His dad posted:

Yep, he would like that.  And it's easy to "give a little thought" to Malcolm.  

Sunday, August 29, 2021

I bet you think this song is about you

Yesterday at work, I was finishing up a woman's test administration.  As she stood waiting, she commented, "You have beautiful..."

And in that split second prior to her speaking the final word, I pondered what she could possibly be thinking.

Hair?  Eyes?  Skin?  Nails?  Voice?  Accent?  Mind?  Handwriting?  Style?

Also in that split second, the logical answer occurred to me as, "none of the above".

After all that micro pondering came the object of her affection:  "...veins".

Oh.  Yes.  Of course.  I get that sometimes, actually.  I get it from nurses, phlebotomists, paramedics, EMTs, etc.  

A nurse I worked with at the old folks home told me, "Ah, you'd be so easy to give an IV!"  One time, I went to donate blood, and the phlebotomist proclaimed, "Oooh, it's like Christmas!"

During yesterday's conversation, the tester nodded, "Yeah, I'm a paramedic".

So there it is, my seemingly most notable physical quality.  There are worse things, but truthfully, I'm a bit self conscious about my arm veins.  

I got comments on my veins from the nursing home residents, and a couple little old ladies once asked to touch them.  That was weird, but what the hell.  Similarly, there are worse requests from nursing home residents.

I don't know why my arm veins are the way they are.  I chalk it up to genetics plus age making my skin thinner.  

I'm not wishing for an IV, but I guess it's good to know it would be a relatively effortless procedure.  When I do have blood drawn, it's over almost before it starts.  

But still.  I'm ready for long-sleeve season.  

What's something about you that brings people to comment?  Are you happy with it?
(And Peggy, if you're reading this, I think I already know your answer 😊)

Friday, August 27, 2021


It's early afternoon, Friday, and I'm a bit surprised at how unproductive I've been so far. I currently have Fridays off and thought I would get some yardwork done.  It's hot, though... blah blah blah whine whine whine.

I've mentioned that school has started up here.  Colleges and universities started classes this week.  It's nice to have so much activity on campus at work - everyone all gung ho and motivated, supposedly.  Our vaccination numbers are relatively high, and we still have the campus-wide  mask mandate.  I've not heard of any complaints.

So  no big surprises with the start of the semester and otherwise. A few small ones maybe:

Merlin and Napolion,
the neighborhood Karens

We've put  our pooch, Merlin, on a diet.  At 70 lbs., he was about 10 over what he should be.  I think he's gotten leaner, and he's still chipping away. 

It's surprising since he was a 35-pound bag o' bones when we got him.  I guess he's been making up for lost time and calories. 

Speaking of dogs, I asked my boss if we allow service animals for clients at work.  The answer is yes, but specifically dogs and miniature horses.  Nothing else.  

Miniature horses are the one ADA exception to service animals other than dogs.  Oh, how I hope someone comes in with one!

I have noticed increased traffic while going in to work in the mornings - bike traffic, somewhat surprisingly.  Fort Collins is a very bike-friendly city, but we still have our challenges with car traffic.  

It's nice to pedal along with the youngsters in the mornings, but I'd say they need more parking!


And along with parking and pets, I bought Napolion a new litter box today.  This one has supremely high walls.  When we cat sat Wolfgang's Maisey a couple weeks ago, I was instantly enamored with her glorious litter box.

The one I got for Napolion isn't quite as majestic as Maisey's, but pretty darn close.  I've got it all set up within my view as I type.

I'm quite surprised at how much I'm anticipating Napolion's first gander at the thing.  

Where's that cat when I need him?


Linking up with Mama Kat this week for the prompt:

3. Share about a time you felt surprised.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

single and ready to mingle

Last weekend, I found myself in the midst of a bit of a frenzy.  I put the lovely Ariel, my commuter bicycle, up for sale on Marketplace.  Just about everyone and their grandmother wanted her.

The price I set was no loss leader, quite fair according to bicyclebluebook.comBut the lovely Ariel does clean up and photograph nicely...

...backdropped by the newly painted house, no less.

The point is, I sold her.  The woman who adopted her paid me full price online, sight unseen, then drove a nearly 5-hour round trip to pick her up and take her home.  I would never do such a thing, but to each her own.

But why would I sell such a lovely?  Well, her talents were being a bit wasted here.  Fort Collins is  a relatively flat city compared to the never ending uphills and downhills of Colorado Springs.  Ariel had 24 gear combinations.  I've used maybe 3 since we moved here.

Enter the delightful Daisy.  I mentioned a couple weeks ago? Daisy?  A new bicycle?

Simplicity at it's finest, Daisy has one gear.  One gear!  Her clan is also known as SS, or "single speed".  Count me in.  No suspension, no derailleurs or shifters.  Only minimalist unpretentiousness.  So lightweight and nimble!

I found her on Marketplace as well.  Her owner said he got her for his daughter, but she decided she wanted more gears after riding Daisy for about two miles.  Daisy was fresh from the womb, her tires still had all their flash.  

So Daisy has settled in while Ariel serendipitously made it back to the hills of Colorado Springs.  Daisy comes to and from work with me.

As of this week, we ride along with the school kids in the mornings on their way to the elementary and middle school along my route.

Wanna race?

Friday, August 20, 2021

they're baaaaaack

I accompanied Meego to get his wisdom teeth removed on Tuesday.  As I left our neighborhood to pick him up, I was met with a mass of high school humanity traffic.  

We live near a large high school, and yep, they're back to school.  What is usually a quick left turn out of the neighborhood instead had me waiting for a slow train of cars and bikes and pedestrians for what seemed like forever.  But eventually I got a break in the action and we made it to the wisdom teeth removal in time.

So that's checked off the to-do list.  Fall semester for the university and the college where I work begins on Monday.  I think I'm looking forward to a frenzy of activity on campus rather than the slow trickle of summer session.  We're all wearing masks, but in-person classes are in order.

My job, by the way, has to do with a variety of proctored testing for professional licenses, certifications, and such.  We also accommodate college students trying to test into certain academic programs or test out of course prerequisites as well as take make-up exams.

I realized after telling a few people that I work at a "testing center", the term isn't clear - especially nowadays.  Several people assumed I performed COVID testing.  Funny/ tragic how our thoughts turn immediately to COVID for various terms.

Like last summer, when I was still at the old folks home, when tents showed up in a parking area.  Any other time, we would assume they were for a party, but we all automatically assumed they were for COVID testing.  (Actually, they were to increase the area for visiting, since visits had to be outside).

So young kids are back in school, big kids are back in town for college, and away we go.  As I was leaving Meego's house last week, I drove by another college rental.  Several dudes were sitting out front.  As I drove past, I happened to notice one of them pointing at a cardboard-and-sharpie sign.  I only made out the beginning:  "YOU HONK...", and kept on a-driving.  I heard a collective sigh from the dudes and realized the sign said "YOU HONK... WE DRINK".  

Yep, the college kids are back.  Sorry guys.  But I'm sure they managed plenty of drinking without my help.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

the Silver(thorne) lining

I've got some blog catching up to do here.  I could also do some housecleaning and/or yardwork, but surely this is more pressing.

We took a couple of fun days in the mountains last week, managing to get the brood together all at the same time.  Went up Tuesday night to an Airbnb condo in Silverthorne, CO and returned Friday morning, so we had two full days to play.  

In summary, we hiked, biked, fished, gamed, and ate.  I count it all as a success.  We had access to a pool, but sort of forgot about swimming.  Dang.

The biking bit involved riding up and down Vail Pass, which I'd heard of doing, but this was my maiden voyage.  

It was a beautiful day of beautiful scenery and no threat of rain/hail/lightning.  10/10 would recommend.  

We weren't planning to go all the way to the summit, just enjoy riding along the path for however long.

We made it a mile or so passed the halfway point when Chaco's knees started creaking - it's uphill the whole way from Frisco to the summit.  Wolfgang, Meego, and I went on a couple miles further while Magnum and Chaco headed back to check out the marina. 

Everyone but myself had rental bikes, and we wanted to make sure to get back to the shop in time not to pay for an additional day.

But first, some victory pics...

In looking at the map after the fact, we turned around about 2 or 3 miles from the summit.

The way back was a total rush.  We had no idea we were climbing so steeply until turning around.  I sped down the path and watched as Wolfgang and Meego became little blue and red dots respectively.

A few heart palpitations and eaten bugs later, we were all back to downtown Frisco.

Thursday, we hung out in Frisco and hiked around Dillon Reservoir where Chaco tried his luck at some fishing.  

Yeah, no luck there...

Ella the pooch was with us.  She never sat down.  Her favorite part of fishing is when it's time to leave.

We also got in a bit of culture by visiting some historic displays downtown, engaged tourists that we were.

All in all, a positive wrap up for the summer, COVID variants and all.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

run to the party and dance to the rhythm

The  masks are back.  The college where I work stopped requiring masks for vaccinated people on July 1st, but as of today, they're back.  

I certainly understand why the Prez made the decision, but needless to say, we were less enthusiastic while putting up little mask notices than we were when we ripped 'em down a little over a month ago.  Fall semester begins on the 23rd, and hopefully the in-person classes will hold.

So yeah, summer's winding down.  Admittedly, August is not a favorite month for me.  My allergies kick in to high gear each August.  If I'm on the ball, I start taking allergy meds before symptoms hit as a prophylactic measure, but I guess I forgot this year and I was ambushed yesterday.  Dizzy as a drunk sorority girl, yet without a drip of alcohol.  

I snorted some Flonase and popped an antihistamine and am feeling better today.  Now I'm looking back at how summer went down.

That's Jake and me atop Arthur's Rock a couple weekends ago.  Our hiking partner, Jasmine is a flatlander transplanted to Colorado and not yet quite comfy with scrambling to the top of rocks.  So she played photographer.

Last weekend, we were reluctant dog boarders.  Chaco had an out-of-town conference, and much like the U-hauls of August, dog kennels were full up.  Hopefully Chaco and Wolfgang are learning from these waiting-'til-the-last-minute consequences, but somehow, we parents got snagged in those nets too.

Ella's a good pooch who gets along fine with our two, but she's not cat friendly, so we had to play a bit of cat and dog musical chairs for those four fun-filled days.  

I will say that living with three high-energy dogs is not something I would choose to do, but we made it and I am ever so grateful for my monster pet vacuum cleaner.

In other crowded indulgence news, I bought another bicycle.  I know, I know, I just bought the lovely Violet!  But, I can't have just one bicycle.

In actuality, the new bicycle brings my "fleet" to four, but I plan to sell one as soon as I get her cleaned up a bit for the marketplace.  So, while four's a crowd, three's company.  Nice company.  Ironically, I acquired the new bike in my unrelenting quest for minimalism.

More on the delightful "Daisy" soon enough. 

How does your summer look from the rear view mirror?

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

wild things

 Wolfgang moved from his apartment to a duplex last weekend.  We helped out a little, and I'll share this public service announcement:  

The first weekend in August is probably the MOST busy time for moving - definitely feel it in a college town!  Get that U-Haul reservation WELL in advance.  Yeah, Wolfgang didn't have one of those.

Lucky for him, he has some friends who have a big a** van they're converting to a camper, so that van toted most of Wolfgang's stuff .  He had to be out of his apartment by midnight Saturday, but couldn't move into the new place until noon Sunday, leaving him homeless for 12 hours.

He stayed the night with his van friends while we housed some of his stuff along with his rescue cat, Maisey.  In general, cats don't like change, and Maisey easily falls into that category.  

Maisey in calmer times

She was a grumpy kitty after having all of "her" things packed up and removed, then being stuffed into a carrier only to arrive at an unfamiliar place housing two dogs and a fight club cat.  Nope, not amused at all.

She spent the night and most of the next day camping in Magnum's office.  Social time allowed some petting but was accompanied by intimidating hissing.  It was quite an ordeal to get her packed up once again to move to her new digs, but Wolfgang reports that she seems happy now and has figured out that she's "home".  

But she put up such a fight on Sunday, that we had to call upon the expertise of Jim Fowler.  Remember him?

More seasoned *ahem* readers here might remember Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom TV show.  I remember watching it on the weekends and seeing Jim wrangle various deadly creatures, all while being narrated by Marlin Perkins ala "watch Jim almost die from the anaconda/ rhino/ panther/ etc."

So Magnum played the part of Jim and managed to scoop the wary Maisey with a towel and chuck her into a basket with Wolfgang at the ready with a good lid.  Success, whew!

Marlin and Jim would be proud.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

caught between the moon and New York city

My first knowledge of Arthur's Rock was sad.  A local news story told of a despondent man who laid in wait and stabbed his ex-girlfriend multiple times before jumping to his death off of Arthur's Rock.  Heartbreaking, yeah?  The woman - an elementary school teacher - had a long recovery, but thankfully survived.

The story left many questions, one of which for me was, "what/where is Arthur's rock?" as many locals  seemed to know the place quite well.

I learned it was a prominent feature in nearby Lory State Park and very popular hike.  Morbid story aside, I wanted to do the hike.  

When I started my new job in June, I knew the schedule would allow some time to get out to some local hikes I've yet to explore, Arthur's Rock being tops on  my list.  But I'd kinda forgotten about it until one of my previous coworkers from the Old Folks Home hit me up for some hiking and suggestions.  

We went this morning, and it was a beaut!  Another coworker buddy joined us for some good time nature fun.

A little break before scaling the "summit"

Summit selfie instead of looking down

It was a rather hazy overcast morning, and we were loving it after many days of full-on sun and high temperatures.  The haze hindered the views a bit, but they were still pretty glorious.  The total hike - out and back - is under 4 miles, so not too taxing or time consuming.  I learned why it is so popular!

It was nice catching up with these two also.  Continuing on the morbid theme, I asked them which residents had passed away since I'd left.  No big surprises, but a couple of small ones.  I miss my coworkers, but I don't miss watching people decline and die.  And of course, we're still mourning Malcolm.

But not to end on that note, it was a nice morning well spent.  I later learned that Arthur of Arthur's Rock is Arthur Howard, the man who sold the land to the state of Colorado.  

We'd speculated it was that aardvark cartoon kid, but were wrong... not surprisingly. 

Thanks, Arthur

Linking up with Mama Kat this week for the prompt:

1. Write about something you want(ed) to do before summer ends

Friday, July 30, 2021

getting carded

In a little while, I'm going to the eyecare place to pick up my new glasses.  They ask that customers either wear a mask or bring their vaccination cards.  I don't actually have a vaccination "card", I have a vaccination "cheesy slip of paper".  I don't know if the shooters ran out of cards and just made paper photocopies to then fill in, but that's what I have.  

We were vaccinated at work, and one of my coworkers left her vaccination cheesy slip of paper in her work scrubs and put them in the laundry.  So much for that "proof of vaccination".  But she requested and received an actual card from the pharmacy that supplied our vaccines.  

At first, I was all, "Oh NO, you WASHED it??".  But when she got her card, I was all, "Aw, I want one".

I never got one.  Maybe I should?  Last time I went to the eye docs, I took a picture of the cheesy slip of paper and showed that when I checked in and was allowed in without a mask, but they'd prefer the card for some reason.  Maybe I should put in the effort.

I'm thinking the COVID vaccine should've been the heftier gun version - like the smallpox.  Your proof of vaccination is the tell-tale scar.  My scar is still obvious, I think I was in the last class of kindergartners to get that badge of courage.  Anyone else have a smallpox vaccine scar?

Meanwhile, watching any of the Olympics?  I haven't watched any yet, just catch a few of the headlines each day whether I want to or not.  Thinking of my vision shortcomings, I could totally relate to this capture:

I may never win Olympic gold, but yes, I can relate.  Scoreboards and everything else are so far away.

Here's the full reaction:

Yeah, she's one of us.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

new colors, raw meat, and hot buns

"Well... that was confusing"

We got the family together yesterday to celebrate Wolfgang's birthday from earlier this month. The above quote was his greeting as he came in the door.  In fact, each of the guys admitted to troubles in arriving at our house.  

I guess we should've told them we just had the exterior of the house painted.  Looky!

Before 😒:

After 😁:

We hired a pro with excellent google reviews, and I'm happy with how it turned out.  It even feels like the house is preening a bit.  The body shade is called "Night Owl".  I don't know what the old color was called.  Old Mustard?  Chicken-gone-bad?  What-did-the-baby-eat?  Suffice to say I was not a fan of the old color or its fadedness.

I've mentioned that the home we bought last March, right on the cusp of pandemic lockdown, had been a rental for many years.  As such, it's needed some TLC, and we've been chipping away.  It could use some interior paint as well, and I'll tackle that task once we decide on colors.  Right now, EVERY wall in the house is the same color - probably named "Landlord White".

So yeah, we had a nice little get together for Wolfgang.  He suggested Korean BBQ, which was fun.  We ordered a pile of raw meat and things (it had a more formal name on the menu) and grilled  right there at our table.  Sizzlin' good time.

And speaking of sizzlin', I started using the all gender bathroom when I get to work since it accommodates one person at a time, and I like to clean up a bit after riding my bike in.  I learned it has a heated bidet.  Not only is the water warm, but the seat is also heated.  Seems fancy!  

But it's summer!  It's hot!  About the last thing I want to do after riding in to work is sit on anything heated.  Just, nooooooo!  

Other than that, it's quite nice.  Enough whining.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

women with balls

Rather large balls at that.

I was out enjoying a nice run in the early morning coolness - not to be confused with the midday heat from hell.  A figure appeared up ahead of me, jogging in my direction.  As we got nearer to each other, I saw she was a stocky woman in workout shorts, tank top, and braces on both knees.  

She was carrying a large hefty ball on her right shoulder.  It looked like the medicine balls at the gym, only bigger.  I'd guess it was about a foot and a half in diameter and probably about the weight of a toddler.  Her face was strained, sweaty, and determined as our paths crossed.  

Hmm, okay.  Don't see that every day, but she was putting in some work.  I wondered if maybe she was training for a firefighter test or something similar?  As I continued up the street, I noticed another balled woman headed in my direction.  Similar carry form as the first, similarly sweaty and strained, but not moving quite as fast or determined. 

Not far behind her was yet another woman-with-big-ball.  This one was walking and carrying her ball closer to her body, like a bag of groceries, with two hands.  Two more walkers employing the grocery carry method trailed behind for a total of five such women within about a half-mile.  I concluded they were an early morning HIIT class at the nearby gym.

I was left feeling a bit wimpy.  I mean, yes, I was out there frolicking about, yet carrying nothing, let alone a large heavy ball.  

I do have a rather annoying and conspicuous "war wound", however.  My annual summertime war with the bug world is in full swing, leaving me with a collection of welts.  This one on my face.  See it?

In the insect world, most males don't have stinging capability, so my itchy blemishes are most likely from females.  

Those bitches.

But maybe the face welt gives me credibility among the women with balls?

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
1. Write about something that surprised you