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Sunday, May 15, 2022

good things come in threes

 So a thing happened this weekend.  I'll leave some enigmatic clues and let readers guess.




Onward.🎉



Friday, May 13, 2022

surf's up

"Would it be considered harassment if a coworker or supervisor attempts to stop me from filing a claim of harassment against another party?"

My coworker, Party Girl, posed this question to me last week while well within earshot of our full-time coworker, Bugs.  Bugs is not in a supervisory role, but when Boss is gone, Bugs is typically put in charge. Boss happened to be out of town when things were going down with Nurse Ratched.

Party Girl, another coworker we'll call Betty, and I had dug around and found the official HR form for submitting a claim of harassment.  We decided to each submit our point of view of the Nurse Ratched situation, and Bugs attempted to discourage us from doing so.  The question was Party Girl's cute and clever way of telling Bugs his "advice" was not needed.

"Pretty sure the answer is 'YES!' as we all learned from our mandatory harassment training", I promptly replied as we all gave Bugs the side eye.

He backed off after that.  

To summarize, Boss did something we all (except for maybe Boss) agreed was inappropriate (not sexual, nothing like that) with a student.  That student went to her instructor - Nurse Ratched - to complain about Boss and ask for some leniency on the exam she took with us since she was feeling frazzled while she worked on the exam.

Nurse Ratched, understandably, became upset with Boss and complained to... somebody.  I really don't know what all happened after that as I don't have a need to know.  But because of the incident between Boss and Student, Nurse Ratched decided to bully, judge, and demean all of us, even though she's never dealt with anyone other than Boss, other than that one incident.

And THAT is when it became a problem for Party Girl, Betty, and me.  Nurse Ratched's abuse toward us seemed to be persistent and escalating, so the three of us each decided to get our two cents in.  

Bugs tried to stop us, saying, "It's already being handled" - referring to the Boss/ Student/ Nurse Ratched incident.

We disagreed as it had spilled over to baselessly involve us three underlings.  This was a new situation for handling.

Anyway, we felt good about telling our sides of the story and get confirmation from the honcho in HR who handles these things.  Honestly, I wasn't expecting much, but I guess something happened.  Nurse Ratched has been cordial in her subsequent communications.  Dare I say, apologetic, even?

Sheesh, in all my years, I'd never felt a need to submit a report of harassment or anything else to a Human Resources department. Kids, I tellya.

I feel good that we didn't just cower and hope it goes away.  I'm glad we spoke up for ourselves despite Bugs' attempts to stop us.  

Bugs is a nice enough guy, but doesn't like making waves. We more or less told him, too bad, you're in the deep end of the pool with the big girls now.

And to this day, I still haven't even met Nurse Ratched in-person.  

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Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

5. Write a blog post inspired by the word: proud


Monday, May 9, 2022

let's go for a ride 'til heaven comes

I don't really watch sports.  I've had a passing interest in some, but most sporting events just takes so dang long.  More time than I care enough to commit.

And then there's horse racing. I love to watch horse racing. I know some think it's inhumane.  I tend to think/ hope the horses are treated like the elite athletes that they are, bred to run fast and... enjoy it?  I confess that I just love to watch them run full out.

The triple crown races begin the first Saturday in May with the Kentucky Derby, and I've watched it every year for as long as I can remember.  I recall last year, I was working at the nursing home. The old ladies gathered 'round in their wheelchairs for refreshments, all wearing massively ridiculous hats they'd decorated the day before.  Such a hoot!

This year, I was in the comfort of my own home.  I had no idea, going in, who the favorites were or the odds. No money riding on it, I just want to watch them run.  



And omigosh, whatta race!  It wasn't until right at the wire that I learned the winner was the longest shot in the field - basically just filling in for a horse that had scratched at the last minute.  


80 to 1 odds! The jockey had never ridden in the Derby before. I can't imagine the feeling!



Anyway, I get a kick out of watching the aerial replay.  That longshot horse, so far in the back, picking them off one by one and ending up winning the whole thing.



What can I say, I get a rush from it.  If I were an old lady in a nursing home, ridiculous hat or no, that finish might have been my ticket to heaven.  


Sunday, May 8, 2022

from empty to cuckoos nest

I had some revelations this week.  Nothing ultra profound, but the universe has spoken to me.

It has to do with work, and the details would be boring to readers. Plus I don't want to type it all out.  But this week, a certain instructor at the college - we'll call her Nurse Ratched - started throwing barbs at us in the testing center. Little passive aggressive condescending barbs.

Our staff consists of the director, one full-timer, and four part-timers.  I'm one of the part-timers.  I have never personally met Nurse Ratched nor had any dealings with her other than being a target of her dissings this week.

All of us part-timers are upset about Nurse Ratched's baseless hostility as she's provided no reasons detailing why she's laying into us.  We strongly suspect it stems from an incident between one of her students and our boss, and now she's writing all of us off.

I mentioned here once before that my boss can be somewhat annoying in that he has a tendency to talk incessantly about himself or topics of interest to him.  I was painfully trapped in a particular marathon he went on about college hockey - even after I expressed zero interest in college hockey.  

Anyway, he's very down to earth and can be okay to work with - aside from that annoying tendency.  I'd also say he's good at his job as far as dealing with facilities, software, budgets, scheduling, testing companies, etc.

His customer service skills, however...  ooch.

Luckily, he deals with customers and students very little, but there was that one recent incident with Nurse Ratched's student.  And now Nurse Ratched seems to think we're all clowns because of Boss's behavior.

This bothers me because, as I've said, I also am often annoyed with Boss's behavior, yet I  keep my mouth shut because he's Boss.  So what's happened here - I actually agree with Nurse Ratched about the incident, yet she sees me and my equally innocent coworkers (who, like me, get annoyed with Boss but say nothing) as mini Bosses.

Revelation-wise, this is telling me to speak up when I see questionable or inappropriate behavior, even when it's coming from the boss.  And just because I'm a "lowly" part-timer, my input is relevant. It's my choice to be part-time. I've sat back, biting my tongue, while higher ups make decisions that affect me.  Screw that.

Also, Happy Mother's Day to the moms out there. I rather miss being with young kids all day - so much more mature than what I deal with at work now.


Friday, May 6, 2022

mama, he's crazy

My family doesn't make a big deal on Mother's Day, per my wishes.  It's a Hallmark Holiday and doesn't meld with my nonconfornist demeanor.  I used to gift/ send notes and cards/ call my mom when she was still around, but I've told our kids that "every day is Mother's Day" for me.

That said, two memorable Mother's Days come to mind.  

My first real job - i.e. I had to pay taxes - was as a busgirl at a hotel restaurant that was popular for Sunday brunch among the locals.  I'd been working there only a few weeks when Mother's Day rolled around, and OH Migod, the bedlam. 

So many tablefuls of so many people making so many messes:  a busperson's nightmare.  The wait staff didn't like it either since it was buffet, so tips were  non-existent to miniscule.  Kitchen staff struggled to keep the buffet stocked.  The dishwasher... oh, the poor dishwasher...

That job helped my teen drinking kick into gear.  Or at least it certainly didn't hurt. Sunday brunch mimosas became rather appealing.


So these days, I'm just happy not to be working OR attending a Mother's Day brunch.


The other  - much more memorable - Mother's Day was in 2000 when I was hugely preggars with Meego.  He was 2 weeks past his due date at that point.  

I recall being in bed and kind of flopping around like a beached whale, trying to get comfy, when I felt a strange *pop* then warmth and realized my water had broke.  I laid there for a while, on my beach, and thought, "Hmmm.  Interesting", because I'd been pregnant for so long, I'd started to feel like it was going to be a forever condition.

Just as I looked over at the bedside clock, it changed to 12 midnight.  It was officially Mother's Day.  Meego arrived all "Happy Mother's Day!" a few hours later, no Hallmark card needed.

Maybe that's another reason I don't need anything special for Mother's Day.  How they gonna top that?









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Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

1. Write about a memorable Mother’s Day.


Sunday, May 1, 2022

wannabe nobody with my thoughts in my room

My office/ studio/ space is the smallest room in the house - not counting the bathrooms.  I liken it to Harry Potter's bedroom under the stairs


but it's really not that small.  I don't have exact measurements, but I'm sitting in it now, and I'd guesstimate it to be about 10 feet by 8 feet.  And there's a nice big window looking into our back yard. 

It was feeling cramped and cluttered, so this week, I've been giving it the Marie Kondo treatment. It's not quite to my liking just yet - mainly because I'm sitting here typing about it instead of finishing off the decluttering and organizing - but it's got potential.

Happy first day of May.  I guess I have a "spring cleaning" bug.  I've already done smaller Kondo-izing with some kitchen cabinets and my clothes closet.  

In other organizing news, I had my annual blood screening this week.  Results came back all green, no yellows or reds, so we're keeping that drive alive.  Prior to my appointment, the website and confirmation emails stressed their mask requirement.

I arrived on time, properly masked (almost forgot) only to find none of the employees were masked.  Okay.  Similar thing happened a couple of times I rode the university transit buses recently.  Masks are still "required", but hardly a mask in sight - even on the drivers.  I wonder what airplanes are like?

Personally, I don't feel a need for a mask as long as I feel fine and carry little likelihood of spreading anything.  I only wear one when required... but find myself the odd one out in those situations.  I guess I'm not the rebel I thought I was.

We'll probably go out for a coffee walk soon.  I'll make sure to jaywalk at some point.



Thursday, April 28, 2022

tech support!!

A test candidate came to the testing center where I work earlier this week.  It's been bugging me ever since.

I mean, test candidates are supposed to come in or we'd be out of our jobs, but this guy who came in - I swear I know him from somewhere.  Let's call him Walter, although his name is slightly less common than Walter - less common enough that someone with his name would be easy to remember.

I heard/ read that forgetting names is common shortly after meeting someone new, but if they have a unique name, we're more likely to remember it.  Makes sense to me.  So this Walter struck me as the only Walter I knew, but where do I know him from?

As we were interacting, before and after his exams, he also seemed to be looking at me with a bit of an I-know-you-from-somewhere look.

Okay, so here are the clues:

  • He's in his 20s
  • His test was one that we typically, but not always, give for students from the university
  • The students are usually horticulture majors
  • His face and build were familiar, but I'm seeing a younger version

And then there's this slight kicker:

  • The ID he provided was an out-of-state driver's license.

Okay, so.  Anyone figure it out for me yet??

Naturally, I first surmised that he's a friend or classmate or extracurricular-activity mate of one of our kids, considering his age.  Nothing rings a bell.  
A student from that high school I worked at briefly?  Mmmm... nope, not seeing it.
Then I thought, god forbid, maybe he was a former tutor student whom I failed  to remember.  I didn't think so, but I actually obsessively scanned through my tutor archives for any Walters or parents that might jar my memory.  Nuthin'.

Clearly, we are somehow closely linked and were abducted by aliens at some point.  When the aliens wiped our memories of the event, peripheral imagery remained in my subconscious.  

OR

Clearly there's some Vanilla Sky thing going on


OR

I've just got crappy recall.

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Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

2. Write a blog post about something you felt/feel frustrated by


Friday, April 22, 2022

ditch day!



Back in August, 2018, I blogged about dropping Meego off  at college - 

thus, the start of the empty nest years.  It doesn't seem THAT long ago, does it?


I wrote about:

  • how we were able to fit ourselves and all of Meego's worldly belongings (that he wanted to take with him, anyway) into our vehicle 
  • the approximately 2-hour trek to the university.  
  • meeting Meego's roommate and feeling they were a good match

I also posted this list that coincidentally showed up in my instagram feed and decided - oh goody - it would give me some things to do in my empty nest life.


Apparently, I promptly forgot about the list because it didn't ring a bell when I came across it after I looked up that old blog post.  Hmmm...

WELL, here we are, nearly 4 years later.  What has changed?  

  • The university is about 3 miles away (we moved, they didn't)
  • Meego lives in a rental house with 3 roomies and has acquired, I'm sure, lots more crap.
  • That nice freshman roommate?  Turns out he was Lord of The Drug Den, but that's another story.
  • Then there was this global pandemic...

We went to the university today as it was Engineering Days - to showcase undergraduate senior design projects.  It's also a nice way for prospective engineering students to visit and get a taste of college life for engineers.

The place was quite packed, and there were a lot of groups eagerly showcasing their hard work.  We managed to find Meego in the crowd with his Civil and Environmental Engineering group.  In short, their project had to do with modeling flow and controlling floods along "The Grand Ditch"

The team happily answered questions and provided details of what they did/designed.  A well-done project with a worthy  purpose, I say!

But really, they all seemed happily proud of their work.  And ready for graduation and beyond!

Really doesn't seem that long ago that I was one of those sleep-deprived undergrads, presenting our senior design project.


Just kidding.  THAT was a looooong time ago!
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Linking up with Mama Kat for the prompt:

4. Share a blog post you wrote years ago, what has changed?

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

that's how they roll

Greetings on this lovely spring day.  I have the day off from work, and I'm not complaining.  I'm currently at the germ-riddled public library computer lab because I don't like being holed up at home.  I think I have the opposite of agoraphobia. 

I had a lovely bike ride here, mainly because of a tail wind.  I will b*tch all the way home when it's a head wind, so it all balances out.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was using an old GoPro that I think Wolfgang left behind, as a bicycle cam.  I usually roll video while I'm commuting to and from work in case I encounter any idiots on the road and want evidence of the idiocy - not that it's typically been a problem.  

I have bicycle commuter acquaintances who, honestly, I think are overly paranoid.  They have front view, rear view, and helmet view cams.  Seems like overkill to me - not to mention expensive and cumbersome. But for the most part, Fort Collins is pretty bike friendly with providing bike routes that avoid much motorized traffic.

Happily, my footage has all been very hum drum.  I usually erase it after I get home to make room for the next commute.  But yesterday, I came across this cute(?) vehicle on the bike path after work and decided to save this 10-second snippet of the ride.



Man, woman, and child were just tooling on down the pathway in this 4-seater, complete with canopy.  Rental?  I've never seen such a thing, but the group seemed to be enjoying their playtime, the assumed mom waving as I ding-a-linged past.




In other recreational news, one of the local PEOs I recently met decreed, "we HAVE to walk together!" when I mentioned that I lived about a mile and a half from her.  Do we?  She's assuming I'm a "walker"?

Well, she hit me up and I agreed to walk with her next Monday - after work, after walking the dogs? Honestly, I didn't feel that we "HAVE" to walk together, but I said okay. 

She has a rather strong and persistent personality, so I rolled over.  She is also quite the loud talker and is... strangely... a librarian.  But she certainly seems joyful, so what can it hurt?  Other than my ears?

Or maybe it's karma, for that library book I ruined?



Sunday, April 17, 2022

we are of star stuff

SOURCE
Happy Easter to my Christian friends.  And, not to be controversial, but... a  joke:

I vaguely remember getting all dressed up for Easter as a little kid.  Mine was not a regular church-going family.  Did we go to Easter services?  Which church?  Obviously, that part was not memorable.  

I assume I was sloughed off to some Sunday School/ Nursery type place during Easter service.

My grandmother was a common presence while I was growing up and quite religious. But she didn't proselytize a whole lot with us grandkids.  She was a typical lovingly gushing Grandma. I learned more about her faith after she died, and put a few dots together.

Anyway, she was a Christian Scientist, and their big holiday is Thanksgiving. But she came to our house every Sunday, and Easter was a special Sunday.  So I guess that accounted for the dressing up and (possibly?) going to church.

Following Linda Sue's lead, I managed to dig up old photo evidence of the Easter Dress Up.  As expected, why yes, my brother Guano DID look like a used car salesman.


Older brother Hagrid had, happily for him I'm sure, grown out of the dress up shenanigans by that point.  It's likely that he was the one behind the camera if he was home from college.



Either way, someone felt it necessary to get a shot which included the swingset horse.

Again, my memory is not too clear, but I would not be surprised if the me-and-a-horse shot was my idea. 

I do remember thinking that my Easter hat was the  absolute bomb.  In my mind, the hat helped to transform me into Annie Oakley.

I mean... the uncanny resemblance...

Is that the Easter bunny??



Friday, April 15, 2022

testing... testing... testing

Work crews are ripping apart our sidewalk as I type.  They've been repairing gutters in our neighborhood for the past few weeks and are on our street this week.  Jackhammers, bobcats, dump trucks... much excitement and noise to be had on this good Friday.

I got the dogs all inoculated this week.  Recall we were testing out some chill pills - namely Trazodone - for Penny as she's historically been a big old Drama Queen at the vet's.  She didn't seem to have any adverse effects from the drug, so I wasn't sure if she'd be any different for her vet visit.

But I'd say it went a little better than past experiences.  She wasn't thrilled to be there, but didn't put up as much of a fight.  Where normally she'd wriggle and squirm and whine, this time, she sort of just froze in place, seemingly trying to make herself invisible.  Actually a pretty workable response when it comes to being examined and vaccinated.  



In my last post, I showed Penny looking a bit stoned on the futon while on the Traz.  This is her off of it later:

A little more alert and sober looking?

Merlin was his usual gentlemanly self, and both dogs got an overall clean bill of health.



In other  updates, remember that library book I ruined?  Well,  I took it back this week.  

I'll note that I did actually try the iron test to get the pages back into smooth submission.  From my experience, ironing does NOTHING to remove wrinkles from paper.  NOTHING, I say!

I didn't feel right just plopping the book unceremoniously into the book drop, so I walked it up to the desk. There was a young guy, probably a student worker, at the desk when I fessed up to the tea damage.  He looked it over and said, "Hmmm, lemme ask my supervisor", and took it to some mysterious out-of-sight realm of the library.

He returned a couple of minutes later and said it was fine, they would just note the damage so that future checker outers won't get the blame for it.  I was then free to go about my life without ever showing my shameful face to the mysteriously realmed supervisor. 

Speaking of tests and shame, earlier this week, I read that the SAT cheater who took tests for rich kids was sentenced to a couple months in prison and two years of supervised release.  Okay, but what bothers me is how some refer to him as a "really smart guy" and "test taking savant" or "guru" because he could take those tests without knowing the contents ahead of time and get the score close to what the bribers wanted.

Puleez, SAT and ACT are for assessing readiness for college. Most of the test takers haven't even graduated high school yet.   Mark Riddell was the test prep director at a  boarding school. I've tutored these tests for years, and there are LOTS of others doing the same thing.  Any grown a&& adult tutor - again, LOTS of people - worth his or her fee can do what Mr. Really Smart Guy did.  

I just don't like seeing him put on some sort of pedestal.  Exceptional traits about him, apparent from this story, include his greed and lack of morals, not his intelligence.  

...Okay, rant over.  Love you too.  

Abby, ruiner of library books.


Monday, April 11, 2022

trippin' with Penny

The dogs have an appointment at the vet's later this week for some vaccines.   I've mentioned how Merlin turns all junkyard dog when strangers come to the house, but he's a perfect gentleman at the vet's.

Penny, on the other hand, is fine with people coming over, but is a ball of anxiety at the vet's.  Worst of both worlds with those two.  At Penny's last appointment, the vet suggested giving her some chill pills - a.k.a. Trazodone - for future visits.



I picked up the pills last week, and the instructions are to start giving them three days out.  Really?  Oh well.  Gave her one this morning, and no apparent ill effects.  This is her this afternoon.

Honestly, she often looks like this when lounging around the house, particularly after coming in after being out in the sun.  But she might be? a bit more relaxed than usual.  I just hope it  mellows her out for the vet.  We shall see.



Yesterday, we took the dogs for a good walk, and when we came back, Penny looked a bit stoned.  This was before we'd given her any Trazodone, mind you.  

Our walk took us onto the nearby high school grounds, and she slurped some little thing into her mouth and down before we could stop her.  I was looking at her when we got back home, and her eyes were all squinty.  Really, her eyes made her look like she was trippin', but she was otherwise her usual self.

Heaven knows what all's laying around the ground at the high school.  



On Saturday, I'd been bicycling home by the school and saw there was a baseball game in progress.  I don't follow baseball at all, at any level.  But I've tutored a few nice high school baseballers - and softballers too for that matter.  

Scholarships to be had.  

I recently drew this kid, feeling like some springtime movement.   

Pencils to be dulled.





Friday, April 8, 2022

sisters

With my sis, Running Sue, at P.E.O.
2016 Colorado State Convention

This week, I've been taking steps to get back into the P.E.O. groove.  

I've mentioned it before, but, in short, P.E.O. is a women's charitable organization.  I've been a "sister" since almost forever.  Anyways, we provide scholarships, grants, loans, and  friendship in support of women's post secondary education.  It's pretty much the only volunteer thing I do these days.

My mom was a P.E.O. and that's how I got involved.  I didn't know much about it back when I was 20, but it seemed rude to decline their invitation to join, so here I am. 

One nice thing about P.E.O. is that there are chapters all over the United States and Canada.  Move?  Hitch onto another one!  



So when we moved from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins a couple years ago, I knew I'd have sisters here to connect with.  There are 10 chapters in Fort Collins alone, and about 20 chapters if I include surrounding towns.  

Except... COVID.

Everything P.E.O. went to hell Zoom when COVID hit.  We still raised and gave away lots of money for education, but the social side of things  naturally dropped.  Typically, I would've started visiting other chapters shortly after moving here, but I got held in COVID limbo - Zooming with my CoSprings chapter until things eased up... which is now.

My phone and email have been lighting up with invites from local chapters to come visit.  This week, I visited two whose schedules meshed around my work schedule, and I'm on tap to visit another next week.  

Meanwhile, P.E.O.'s been working toward modernizing its image in recent years.  When I was a kid, this was pretty much what I imagined a typical P.E.O. meeting was...

peointernational.org



And this is what the propaganda circulating around P.E.O. looks like these days.

I'd say the current representation is somewhere in between the two images.  And it is still VERY much straight, white, Christian women.  Some are working to further change that up, while others offer strong resistance regarding changes to the Christian part. 

I will note that all of the women in this graphic are bona fide recipients of P.E.O. funds.



Meanwhile, no way will I visit all ten, let alone twenty local chapters.  I'll say five tops, then pick a spot to settle down.  Well... pending them liking me too. 😊

Until then, it's nice to be a sought after, wined and dined guest.  

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Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

5. Share something that you worked on this week.


Sunday, April 3, 2022

who moved my cheese?

We've made it to April.  As such, I got into some spring cleaning this week.  Well, really, it's not because of April, it's just that it was so needed, and I couldn't come up with anything better.


I found some cheese.  I was spring cleaning away and decided to include a good scrub down of our fridge that came with the house when we bought it two years ago.  Prior to us buying it, the house had been a rental for several years.

There I was, removing shelves and drawers of the fridge and soaping everything down when I found a couple sticks of string cheese behind a drawer.  

I couldn't recall having bought string cheese in recent years, so I determined that this was not, in fact, our cheese.  I was able to make out the expiration date of May 2013.  


Anyone want antique string cheese?  Egads, it's 10 years and probably several renters old.

Speaking of cheese, I'm trying to cut down on my dairy intake.  It's pretty mean to the cows, y'know?  I gave up eating beef several years ago, and that was fairly easy.  But it turns out that, gawd, I love cheese and have yet to find a decent substitute.  Advice?

Meanwhile, maybe I can use the reminder of this rental fridge discovery to help curb the cravings.

And speaking of chucking things out, this week, I got around to getting a much needed haircut.  Honestly, it's been a bit of a crapshoot finding a good stylist since moving here, plus a global pandemic, blah blah.  I had one I liked in the last town, but I've bounced around here with mediocre results.  

I went to a new-to-me salon this week and came away happy.  I brought a reference photo, and the stylist nailed it without charging an exorbitant amount or trying to upsell me on everything.  

The anxiety around finding a decent stylist along with whole slap down at last weekend's Oscars reminds me to put less importance on hair in light of other things going on.  I confess to getting nervous whenever I plop into the stylist's chair, having had a handful of bad haircuts.  But it's just hair.

For those who've watched the Fleabag series on Prime Video, you probably remember the iconic "Hair. Is. Everything!" scene.  I found it hilarious, and, sadly, a bit true.



Yeah, it's not gonna happen in here.

Sorry, see ya next week.




Friday, April 1, 2022

he can't stay

It was 1999.  I was hanging out with Chaco and Wolfgang, exploring our new neighborhood we'd recently moved to.  There was - I think it was - a middle school a few blocks from our rental house.  

We'd walked down there on our explorations, checked out the play facilities, and were  headed back when I heard a loud

"HELP! SOMEBODY OUT THERE??  HAAAALP!"

At least I'm pretty sure those were the words.  It actually sounded more like

"mew. MEOW!  MEEEE-OWWWWW!!"

We halted our walk and strained to listen for the source of the distress calls.  It became apparent that they were coming from one of those temporary classroom pods sitting outside the main school building.  The pod had a raised floor with panels covering the space beneath the floor.  Somehow, a cat was trapped underneath the pod, behind those panels.

When we got home, I called the school district to make them aware.  I vaguely remember talking to someone who said it would be taken care of.  A day or so later, we were once again having an exploratory outing in the area.  Once again, "HAAAAAALP!"

"Oh, sheesh", I muttered.  Risk of a vandalism charge or no, we went back to the house and returned with a screwdriver, a couple hot dogs, and a sippy cup of milk.

It was short work to remove one of the panels.  While I did that, Chaco and Wolfgang were able to take bits of hot dog and pass them through a sliver to the skinny cat beyond.

Soon, he was out.  All fur and bones, but not quite on death's door.   He polished off the hot dogs, given just little bits at a time, and washed them down with the milk.

"Our work here is done", I decreed.  "The cat's free to go back to his home now".  And we headed back to our house.

Well, he followed us home, so I got some proper cat food.  He hung out in our back yard and ate on the back patio. Nights were getting a little chilly, so I built him a warm cubby out of a plastic tote and some old carpet and pillows. 

Wolfgang and that homeless cat

But he can't stay.  He's not allowed.  He's not ours.  We'll call him "Cookie".  But he's not ours.

Then one day, I found myself at the vet's.  We figured since Cookie was a homeless kitty, we should probably get him/her (we didn't know which at that point) fixed.

That's where and when it hit me.  Dammit, Cookie was our cat.  

Turns out he was male, fully intact and healthy.  We arranged for the end of the "intact", and the deed was done.  I paid the bill and was given the invoice.  The patient's name listed as:

Cookie Barker

There it was, he officially had the family name.  

We allowed him inside our off-limits rental house to recover from his surgery.  Lease be damned, we would be moving shortly anyway.

He kept us around for a good 13 years.  Then one day, he went out for his usual stroll and never came back.  We searched high and low, but I guess it was his time.

I spontaneously snapped this pic of him sitting with Chaco in the glow of the PC monitor.  I'd glanced over and saw them sitting like that, and felt I should get that pic.  It was later that evening that Cookie left for the last time.


Don't tell Napolion I said this, but Cookie really was the best cat ever.  He spent thirteen years thanking us for getting him out of that classroom pod.  

See you on the other side, Cookie.

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Linking up this week with MamaKat for the prompt:

1. Tell us about a time you got a new pet.


Sunday, March 27, 2022

sunshine and bronze


The Father-in-law set of in-laws swung by for a short visit.  We spent yesterday with them on what ended up being the warmest day of the year so far - welcome, springtime!

Magnum went in search for something for us all to do and discovered Benson Sculpture Garden right down the road.  It claims to be:

 "one of the 20 must-see contemporary art sites across the USA".  


I can support that sentiment and would recommend it to people in the area looking for something to do on a nice day.



"Currently, there are 172 pieces of sculpture on permanent display by world-renowned artists worth over $5 million"


We spent a good amount of time there and still didn't see all of the sculptures, mostly bronze.  My 87-year-old FIL is in pretty good shape for his age, but 10 acres is quite a lot for anyone.


...including me, here taking a little sit break with some chums. 


Wolfgang trying to emulate a two-right-feet sculpture

It was nice to hang out and get caught up with the family.  Meego had to miss the sculptures because of school work - ah, joys of college.  At least he joined us for food.

I was reminded of how much I appreciate the smallness of where we live now vs. living in Colorado Springs.  The sculpture garden is actually in Loveland, CO  - the next town south of us.  Yet it took us all of 12 minutes to get there by car, and we could have easily bicycled there.

Colorado Springs had its niceties, but I certainly don't miss that sprawl.

The rest of the week was of  pretty typical stuff.  Most of the snow and ice has left, although I wouldn't count it out for the season.  Still, I'm ready to move on.



Wednesday, March 23, 2022

a most absorbing read

When some mishap happens (mishappens?), I usually try to look on the bright side. It can always be worse, right? 

So earlier this week, after my initial "*GASP* sh&t!", I began picturing worse things like

  • the entire cup of tea
  • milk instead of tea
  • the loaded potato...


Okay, so the thing what happened...

Tuesday, I'd just come home from work.  It had been a somewhat long day, and I'd ridden my bicycle home with a blustery headwind bullying me the whole way.  Earlier, I'd picked up a library book from the campus library that I'd put on hold and had come up available. 

Once at home, I settled in, fixed a pot of hot tea, loaded up a baked potato snack, and began perusing the library book.  The book is "The Child Is the Teacher:  A Life of Maria Montessori".  Earlier in my mom career, I'd learned a bit about the Montessori method and felt supportive of it (although, our kids all went to public school).  I'd also had a tutor student who taught at a Montessori school.  She had interesting things to share.

But I'd never learned much about Maria Montessori herself.  This book is hot off the press and popped up in my "suggestions", and I thought I'd check it out and was happy to see that the local library had recently procured a copy.

So there I was, chilling at home with some hot tea, a savory potato, and a newly published hardcover library book, of which I'm probably the first person to ever check out.  

I think I got a text notification or something like that, and I stood up, tea mug in hand, to fetch the phone.  In so doing, I managed to dribble a bit of tea.

A dribble is all it takes.

That dribble of tea splatted onto the open pristine virgin page of the book.  I didn't even notice right away, but I turned back around and saw the page all splotched, wet, and wrinkly... NOOOoooooo!

I took a napkin and hoped to sop up the wetness in time.  Alas, the wrinkly splotch remained.  Next, I took my hair dryer to it on low cycle.  Mmmm, maybe dried it off, but the damage was done.  I closed the book and put it under a box of about 5 pounds and left it overnight.


This is what it looks like now.

Pretty noticeable?  Yeah?

The wrinkled pages are noticeable when the book is closed too.


Now, if his were MY book, one that I'd purchased for myself, I'd chalk it up to clumsy and move on.  Or if it were an older, previously enjoyed, worn-and-torn library book - fine. But it's a brand new library book!  

But if I think about it... Maria Montessori would probably be okay with it.  

Principle 5: Auto education

Auto education, or self-education...This is one of the most important beliefs in the Montessori method. Montessori teachers provide the environment, the inspiration, the guidance and the encouragement for children to educate themselves.

Welp, I guess I educated myself.  I wonder if the librarian will be happy about that?


I'll remind her that, at least it wasn't the loaded potato.

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Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
3. Write a blog post inspired by the word: accident


Sunday, March 20, 2022

weekend "getaway", and what's with yer dog?

Happy first day of spring!  Spin those mattresses! Change those toothbrush heads!

It was a pretty uneventful week.  Work was on the quiet side with the students and instructors out for spring break.  Now on to the final push to finish out the semester before summer. My coworker, Party Girl, got her elderly dad moved here from Nevada.  

Her dad's losing his memory, and it's been a stressful situation for her. I know she's relieved to have made it to this milestone in the process.  And I'm glad the lightish workload allowed her some flexibility in her schedule.

Strange and sad, the dementia thing.  PG says her dad doesn't seem to really know who she is, but he has an inkling that they're related, so trusts her.  Physically, however, he's in great shape for his age - which is a worry.  He can easily walk off and get lost.  

When I worked at the nursing home, we had several residents who weren't very aware of who/where they were.  But none of them could get anywhere fast.

"Maribelle's headed for the elevator"

"Oh, okay.  I'll get her after I stock these dozens of coffee mugs..."

Magnum and I had a rip roaring outing to Denver yesterday.  Well, not really.  We actually just went to the airport to pick Meego up from a Spring Break trip he took to California.  His girlfriend moved there for work after graduating last spring, and they're making a go of the long-distance-relationship thing.  He had a good time and put me once again to itching for a vacay.  


Until then, meandering around the Denver International Airport will have to suffice.

I hadn't been to the airport - any airport - since, again, picking Meego up from a trip.  I noticed a handful of maskless people in the airport, but not many.  

However, I saw tons of people with masks only covering their chins. Why bother? 

(photo is from last time at the airport - premask days)



Wolfgang came over to let our dogs out while we were airporting.  He had a friend with him, and, not unexpectedly, Merlin had a cow.

Merlin is a sweet and loving pooch, but he reacts in full on stranger-danger protective mode when someone unknown to him comes to the house.

This is fine up until a point, but we need him to chill out once we assure him that the friend/ contract worker/ extended family member is welcome.

He's okay away from our home - tolerates the vet and the kennel - but he's a junkyard dog at home.  What does that say about the state of our home?  Oh well, I'm thinking we might enlist some professionals on this one.  



Friday, March 18, 2022

I don't need many words with you

My teammates and I showed up on time, looking sharp - almost unrecognizable.  Greg, a typical "granola" in t-shirt, rock climber pants, and hiking shoes, was decked out in his best interview suit.  

However, George was probably the most transformed.  George had a punk hairdo - whitewalls buzzed on the sides and forming a V at the nape of his neck, tufted bangs up front - and always wore hefty black boots, black t-shirt, and black jeans or shorts over his muscular build.  But there he was in his Sunday-goin'-to-meetin'-clothes

Then there was me.  I usually wore jeans, maybe a polo shirt, (now vintage) Reebok freestyle hi-tops.  But I wore a suit that day as well.  It was senior project presentation day, one of my final acts as a college undergrad.  

Greg, George, and I were good friends during that semester of our senior design project.  We actually had a fourth teammate, Steve - a pretty frat boy who was absent for most of the work. He might have been there on presentation day, but is foggy in my memory of it now.  I do remember him apologizing for not doing anything and offering to type up the report.  The remaining three of us thinking, "how's he gonna type up the report, he doesn't know what happened?"

Our project was a cute success.  We presented it, got our "A", and went on to graduate and do other cute things.

For my part, I sucked.  I was up there in my suit and realized I had not honed my presentation skills.  


I really shouldn't have been nervous.  We were just presenting to our professor and fellow classmates.  I got through it, but it was not a cute success.  Looking back, engineering classes in general at that time didn't require much discussion during classes, let alone presenting in front of class.

Afterwards, I realized that, up until that point, I really hadn't had much experience with public speaking.  It just hadn't come up other than maybe a handful of times in high school?  For some club fundraiser or such?  I certainly hadn't had any formal training.

Once I became a working girl after college, one of the first trainings I signed up for was "Effective Presentation".  The class lasted maybe a week, and there were about six of us plus the instructor.  We learned and practiced presentation skills, made and watched big honking VHS video tapes of ourselves, and got better.  Sheesh, if only I'd known in college.

Later, when I was busily volunteer momming in elementary school, I noticed lots of class presentation type activities required of the students.  I thought, "Oh, good they include this stuff in school now".  And I think it continued into middle school.  Hopefully high school too.

Seeing those kids up there, presenting compelling stories or describing a favorite possession calmed my nerves for their futures at the lectern. 

But at least I could play a mean game of Spanish Bingo!

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Linking up with Mama Kat this week for the prompt:

2. Tell us about something you never learned in school but should have.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

state, the new community?

I worked last Saturday, and we began the day by ceremoniously taking down our COVID "decorations".

It still feels weird to be a member of the unmasked at work.  Our boss really kept a tight ship regarding masking and vaccine mandates and was the first to happily delete it all.  

Of course, masking is still optional - just as before COVID, really.  But we see very few masks around campus.  One coworker continues to wear his, mainly since his 83-year-old mother lives with him.

It's nice not having muffled speech, but I notice I need to apply lip balm more frequently as my lips are no longer kept in their controlled environment.


Yesterday was Pi Day.  The math department did  Pi Day "festivities" last week since the students are on spring break this week.  I don't know what they had going on other than free personal pies from a local bakery.  I didn't get one, they were gone before one could say "3.14159265359"



I work on a community college campus, and the rumor mumblings are that it is going to change its name to "so-and-so State College".  Some other community colleges have already made this change.  The reasoning is that "community college" has evolved into a somewhat demeaning designation.

I attended a Junior college for two years prior to transferring to a university for my bachelors degree.  I'm not sure the difference between a Jr. college and a community college, but the Jr. college I attended did have dorms and sports.  I don't think community colleges have those.  Ours doesn't and I could dig deeper and find out the true differences, but I'm not really interested enough...

Instagram


Despite not having sports or homecoming or really any sort of intercollegiate competitive teams, the college does have a mascot.  He can be spotted at random places and times, doing random things. 

I've wondered what purpose a community college mascot serves? 

Maybe he can head up the committee on whether to change the name.







Thursday, March 10, 2022

fifty ways to leave your lover

Yesterday was a c-c-c-c-cold blustery day.  Another snowy Wednesday.  For some reason, our stormy days this winter seem to have all fallen on Wednesdays.  I have Wednesdays off from work and get a little stir crazy, so I braved the elements for an outing.

I walked to one of the university bus stops, and while I was waiting, I saw a person on a bicycle crash in the snow as he turned the corner about a block away from me.  He sat there in a heap, him and his bicycle, for about a minute - which is a rather long time to sit in a heap in the snow during a snowstorm.  I wondered if he was too injured to get up?  Should I leave the relatively warm bus shelter and check?

But he eventually got up and dusted himself and the bike off and started walking and pushing the bike in my direction.  Was he unable to pedal?  Was the bike too damaged to ride? Honestly, it appeared that he was playing it up a bit, hoping someone would notice - maybe make a viral tiktok?

He shuffled on by, and stopped, seemingly to reassess, a few feet from me.  Then he got back on the bike and started pedaling down a dangerous road in a snow-covered bike lane on a day of low low visibility.  No helmet, no lights.  Okay, so I feel a bit of solidarity with him as a bicycle commuter/ don't-use-a-car-unless-I-feel-a-need person.  But common sense says leave the bicycle at home.  I'm going to assume he made it to his destination... or got that video fame he wanted.

It felt good to get out, and I'm reminded that we're long past the lockdown days of early COVID.  I had a mask as they are still required on the buses - until March 18th it seems.  



Living in a college town means that public transit is relatively good, but I know that city buses are often seen in a negative light - thugs, druggies, homeless, etc.  I've seen very few questionable characters - usually from the druggie category - in my years of observations.  Most people I've ridden with are just going to work or to school.  

Then there's the routing and scheduling.  The bus doesn't go at the right time, or the stops are too far away from home.  Again, living in a college town helps - especially if one is going to or from the university.  Many paths to that mountain.

The transportation decision tree for me usually goes:
bike→walk→bus→car
or
orange→blue→pink→green from this lovely venn diagram 
Weather being the most common factor.

So yes, I'm pro bus even though I own a car.  Why add to traffic congestion just to transport myself and a few belongings? In fact, I sort of "make" myself drive the car somewhere about once a week, just to stay in practice.


I remember the bus driver in Colorado Springs who drove the route to the community college.  I would ride there to meet with tutor students, and he took it upon himself one day to mansplain to me how to go about buying a car.  

"Yeah, I have a car.  I've bought and sold several" 😒

One of my bicycle commuting cohorts had someone offer him money for a sandwich when he was stopped at a convenience store on his way to work one day.  They assumed he was homeless/ poor since he rode a bicycle.  He makes six figures.

I'm wondering how the current rising gas prices will affect driving habits if at all.  How high until it makes a difference?


Sunday, March 6, 2022

onboarding

"Our dreams were to have land of our own, raise a family, train them to be assassins..."

Well, uhm, okay. I watched a video about young girls who are lured online and groomed into becoming ISIS brides.  Not all are young girls or necessarily naive, although many are.  In general, they join up looking for "adventure, camaraderie, and purpose".

Aren't we all?  I was a bit amazed at how easily these kids were lured and supposedly converted to Islam, if not already members.  Many were "normal" kids - bright, active, social.  Nobody would've guessed nor could fathom "why?".  They just didn't come home one day, and their parents eventually get a text.


I watched the story while playing with my pencils and sketchbook and drew this yogini.

Yesterday, we were in the neighborhood of a Best Buy, so we went inside and I played with a Surface tablet.  I haven't felt lured and groomed into digital artplay, but that little Surface tablet was nice.  

Not cheap.  Not necessary.  I bought nothing, then came home and played with pencils and paper.  

Of course the Surface tablets support much more than just digital artwork.  Maybe when my current PC departs this life.  Maybe.


Speaking of adventure, camaraderie, and purpose, we made it through another week.  A pretty low key one at this end.  I guess "boring" can be a good thing.  In contrast with sons and daughters running off and becoming terrorists, yes, "boring" is good.




Friday, March 4, 2022

face appreciation?

I just found out that today is "Employee Appreciation Day".  Well... what does that mean?  

It so happens that I have the day off from work today.  They tryna tell me something?


Actually, our boss is pretty good about showing the appreciation for us underlings.  Especially this semester, with the increased COVID requirements, some days can be a b*tch.  I don't think we've had one day go by without incident of someone being turned away for lack of proof of either vaccination or recent negative test.  

The students aren't a problem, but we also serve non-students who are unaware of the requirements.  Sure, it's spelled out in their appointment confirmation emails, but who reads that stuff??  Not everyone, it turns out.

Really, though, it's gone relatively smoothly.  Most people have been nice about it and able to come back later with the goods.  One notable exception is a guy who had an absolute hissy fit, made a bit of a scene with security, then broke a door on his way out.  His exam certification had to do with physical training, and we highly suspect a bit of roid rage was going on.  He's not allowed to come back.

Too bad for him because *HOORAY* the powers that be told us that the mandates are being lifted after next week.  No more required proof of vaccination/ negative test.  Masks won't even be required anymore.

This because our county and those of other branches of the college have moved into "low risk of community transmission".  The major state universities have already stopped their mandates this week. Case numbers and hospitalizations have significantly dropped, so time to move on.  

All good news, of course.  

But it will be weird to see the naked faces at work again...

and to be a naked face.  

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Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: stop.