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...