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.  


Clearly there's some Vanilla Sky thing going on


I've just got crappy recall.


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!

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

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


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...

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.  


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


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


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.


Linking up this week with MamaKat for the prompt:

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