After hours and hours of staring at my computer monitor as I organized information in preparation of handing off a major project, I was feeling like this sunflower looks. Then my phone rang.
July 3, 2021
It was Wildebeest calling as he walked home from his restaurant shift. He told me about a co-worker getting ripped off by a higher-up and how awesome it felt when another co-worker stood up to management on behalf of the slighted co-worker. Unfortunately (and predictably), nothing was done.
So, in the true spirit of Labor Day, I put a bug in Wildebeest’s ear about getting his co-workers to stand together. I said if they all refused to take shifts with this certain higher-up until the situation was rectified, management would be forced to take action. Wildebeest liked that idea.
Will he follow through? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I planted an idea and the thought of those workers someday (soon, I hope) using their collective power to force change perks me up immensely.
Solidarity with all workers around the globe!
Emma and I ran on the trails this morning. It was my first outdoor exercise in over a week because of the horrific air quality. While the morning’s AQI wasn’t Great, I just couldn’t take another treadmill session. Running outside felt like a reasonable trade-off between lung health and mental health. I brought water for us and we did a mellow 3-miles with me urging her on most of the way. Halfway through the run, she pooped. I scooped it into a rice cake bag, knotted it off, and tied the bag to her collar. It’s tricky enough holding her leash while trail-running (sudden stops and detours really increase the likelihood of wipe-outs) and adding a poop sack was more than I could handle. The good news is Emma didn’t really seem to notice. (I did feel like a bad human-friend once we got back on the streets and ran past people from the neighborhood, Emma’s poop sack swinging for all to see.)
When we returned home, I saw a missed call from Wildebeest. I called back and we ended up conversing for nearly two hours about all sorts of things. While talking, I took my camera outside and continued our conversation on speaker phone as I photographed the zillions of bees on the fern bush.
I eventually told Wildebeest what I was doing, knowing he might freak out or, at the least, get really twitchy and itchy. (When he was a teenager, he got stung by a bee while at outdoor camp and was taken to the nearest hospital where he was jabbed with an epi pen. As bee sting reactions go, his wasn’t uber-serious. Yes, his throat did close a bit but, in his words, he had plenty of time to get to the hospital.) Turned out, my announcement didn’t send him spiraling. However, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have waded into the fern bush with me to get close-up shots.
And I know for a fact he would’ve steered clear of this specimen:
Yikes. A quick online search for “red wasp” tells me this species isn’t even supposed to be in Colorado?? And I saw several of them on the bush??
Wildebeest was with us for a little over two months, helping out with his grandma, before he left to spend time with friends in Denver. This morning, he made one more stop here where we had a socially-distanced visit outside in the sunshine. Then he went out through the gate.
January 4, 2021
He’s heading back to his home in Durango.
Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Wildebeest’s graduation from Fort Lewis College. It was a happy day for all of us (including Wildebeest’s childhood friend, Kyle) and there was much laughter throughout, including the lengthy and bitterly cold search for our car in the crowded parking lot after the ceremony.
Zebu, Wildebeest, Zippy, and creepy lurker friend, Kyle. December 20, 2019
Younger brother warming older brother’s head.
It’s a huge relief Wildebeest completed his degree before the pandemic hit (and it’ll be even better if/when he lands a job during the pandemic). In the meanwhile, he used the time off to come back home to help care for his grandmother. He’s a good soul.
All hail Wildebeest!
One day last week, son Wildebeest and I had our cameras out to practice photographing a black cat and a white cat at the same time. It’s difficult to land on the correct settings that will allow the black cat to have definition without also blowing out the white cat’s fur. This photo is proof of my ongoing struggle.
Marcel and Loki basking on their box condo. November 20, 2020
However, capturing the moment Loki launched the attack on his brother from below was a small victory. And if you look closely, you’ll see a hint of trepidation on Marcel’s face. Every picture, even a poor one, tells a story.
Thinking about all the workers out there struggling to pay rent, buy food, keep their lives going. Thinking about one of my sons who is struggling to find a job in this economy and who may very well be moving back home in the near future. He’s grateful he has a place to land if it comes to that, but it shouldn’t come to that. Not for him and not for other young people facing a bleak future. They should be able to live their lives on their own terms.
This is a disgrace and we must do better. Much better.
We’re still in lock-down mode here in Colorado as the wildfires continue to burn. Air quality is poor (although a bit better after a tiny rain episode yesterday) and I’m staying inside. Instead of walking Emma this morning, I opted for a hoop-dance session in the living room.
Horse Gulch Trail, Durango, CO. July 31, 2019
And rather than going on an actual hike, I’m reliving one from July of 2019 when Zippy, Emma, and I visited elder-son Wildebeest. I remember that hike. It was quite hot that day, but still very nice to be out and about in nature.
I’m looking forward to the day we can do it again.
Presenting . . . A Brief Exchange Between a Mother and Son
Me: Hey, if right now you said, ‘Mom, let’s go run,’ I would run.
Son: Really? You’d run?
Me: Yep. (Immediately feels a weakening of resolve ). Or, I could have an edible and a beer, and get in the tub.
Son: Oh, do that. That sounds way better!
Narrator: This concludes our straight-forward story. No twist, no surprise ending.
. . .bad hair days aren’t enough reason to accelerate the spread of COVID-19.
Wildebeest at Zebu’s graduation. May 11, 2018.
Yesterday, Denver nurses stood in intersections to remind the selfish flag-waving assholes in huge trucks that their demands to reopen the state so they could get their nails done were putting healthcare workers and others at risk. Today, Colorado’s governor (Jared Polis) announced he was lifting our stay-at-home order on April 27.
I’m so exhausted.
Lots of sunshine here today and I was eager to get outside after two days “trapped” indoors by snowstorm and frigid temperatures. Silly me, I assumed my three menfolk and the dog would share my eagerness. Not so. I finally coaxed Emma off the deck and tried to get a game of chase going in the backyard but, after taking a piddle, she ran back to the deck. The guys stayed indoors, refusing to join in the fun. (Except for when they stepped out long enough to lob a snowball or two at me.)
Well, they missed out on some awesome conditions. Warm sunshine + snow just dying to be packed and rolled into balls. However, the snow was verrrry heavy. Oof.
Eventually, I gave up on creating snow friends and started to play a game of Jenga with myself. Here’s an early iteration (actually, two).
My final Jenga tower was above my head and just as I handed my phone to Zebu to take a picture of me standing next to it, it tipped over. The tower was truly glorious and you’ll just have to take my word for it.
It took mere minutes for Marcel to discover the warm laundry just removed from the dryer. And when I went back down with my camera to document his trespass (which will result in white hairs all over my sons’ new dark-colored sweatshirts and socks), Marcel didn’t budge, despite his aversion to cameras.
I guess that cat is more averse to attempts to shame him into moving than he is bothered by the paparazzi. Another guess? There’s a lint roller in my sons’ futures.
Today is Wildebeest’s birthday (which he shares with his cousin…Happy Birthday again, James!) I haven’t yet talked with Wildebeest today because he’s out doing fun stuff with his camera and friends. But here he was 20 years ago, making a wish before blowing out the candles.
Wildebeest. November 4, 1999
I don’t know whether that particular wish came true, but I do know that today my son is happy and healthy, which means my wish came true.
Happy happy birthday, Wildebeest!
Horse Gulch. Durango, CO.
Yesterday we hiked with our elder son, Wildebeest. It was pretty warm and we opted to cut the hike short on Emma’s behalf because despite the bowls of water we gave her throughout and the handful of treats, she still made a beeline for every patch of shade where she’d pant accusingly until we got her up and moving again.
Still and all, it was a wonderful hike. It’s always good to spend time with Wildebeest and was especially nice seeing him in his natural habitat. A happy son makes for a happy mother.
I’m in the process of deleting gazillions of emails from an old account and just came across this photo. I’d forwarded it after taking the pic with my phone. It’s not a great photo, but it reminds me of the anticipation I felt as we arrived in Stockholm.
The next day we’d be seeing son Zebu who was studying at Uppsala. Oh, happy day!
Soon after adopting feline brothers Marcel and Loki in October of 2013, son Zebu vowed to buy me a baby sling to carry our loving, snuggly cats. Despite my frequent reminders of his promise to me, years went by with no sling. And then this past Mother’s Day, Zebu surprised me. It’s safe to say he also surprised Marcel.
This photo was taken in May during Marcel’s initial and longest stint in the sling. But you can tell by his ears that he’s less than thrilled with the situation. I tried putting his brother in it last night and he wasn’t having it. At all. And then Marcel humored me for all of fifteen seconds before escaping.
Maybe they’ve figured out it’s technically a sling for small dogs and are philosophically opposed to debasing their royal cat selves.
Or maybe they just really, really don’t want me carrying them around like babies.
Elder son Wildebeest came home for a visit last week along with a friend’s dog. When Wildebeest initially asked if Little Miss could come, I worried about her chasing the cats. But because my son and the doggo adore each other and because Little Miss’s human went on vacation without her, I told Wildebeest to bring her. I’d protect the cats as best I could.
Well, Little Miss is a very small dog. She’s essentially a furry football. Plus, she’s ten years old and more interested in snuggling and naps than chasing anyone. Instead it was Loki, my shy cat who’s afraid of birds and studies insects from a respectful distance, who was the aggressor. We tried hard to keep the peace between them, but multiple times over the past week Loki cornered and then chased her. Each time after it happened, Little Miss quivered in fear. Last night, Loki snuck up to where Little Miss was snuggled in Wildebeest’s lap and smacked her hard with his paw. I heard the frightened yelp from the basement. By that point, all the humans in the house were fed up with Loki’s bullying behavior. We were on #TeamLittleMiss and wondering what in the hell was wrong with the cat.
Well, Wildebeest and Little Miss headed home this morning and an hour or so after they’d left, Loki sat outside my writing room door and cried. I let him in and draped him over my shoulder. He immediately rubbed his head against my cheek and purred. And purred. And purred. As I held him, my frustration evaporated. I hadn’t consulted him before inviting a strange dog into our home and I have no idea what transpired in his life before we adopted him. Maybe he’d once been terrorized by a furry football. In any case, our reconciliation lasted about ten minutes and then Loki wanted to get down. I let him out of my writing room and got back to work. I’m guessing my handsome and loving kitty went to take another nap.
I just came across this photo of a young Wildebeest that was trimmed by my mother-in-law. I mean, this has to be her doing. I’ve never had the patience for such intricate scissors-work. I must admit, though, that bib on his head is the perfect framing device for his cherubic face, so good on her!
I smile each and every time I look at my son’s expression.
I unearthed this document while cleaning out a drawer. I’m the “T” and Wildebeest is the “F” in this exchange from his elementary school years. (In case you can’t read my scrawl):
T: For someone who didn’t want to go to the Lakewood Heritage Center, it sounds like you had a swell time.
F: (nodding vigorously) I got cheered up after the front of the bus caught fire.
Zippy and I ran around the neighborhood with Emma this morning. Lots of sunshine. The rest of the day was filled with NBA basketball viewing plus a last-minute decision to bake cookies. We had (just barely) the ingredients for oatmeal raisin cookies and I made those while the games played in the background. Wildebeest and Emma napped together partway through the afternoon. Zebu went downstairs to shower in preparation for a family photo, but that was a couple hours ago and we haven’t seen him since. My best guess is he’s now napping, too.
Pretty much an ideal day.
In a few minutes, a kind veterinarian is going to arrive at our home to help us say goodbye to Zoey. She’s lived with us the past 13+ years which is more than half of Wildebeest and Zebu’s lifetimes. This morning Wildebeest said goodbye before heading back to his home that’s a six-hour drive from here. Zebu will be with Zoey at the end.
Zoey’s last trip to Westcliffe. August 12, 2017
We’d originally hoped to say goodbye to Zoey tomorrow because it’s my birthday today. But when the vet offered to come this afternoon it seemed the best option. Zoey’s tired and has had enough, and it felt wrong to delay the inevitable. We’ve definitely made the right decision for her, but the mood is less than festive.
Rest in peace, our sweet Zotato.
Some days are so hard that I’m tempted to give up and assume the fetal position. Over the last couple days a young relative was diagnosed with a health condition and then a neighborhood family suffered a heartbreaking tragedy. I’ve felt overwhelmed and weepy. But I’ve also experienced joy as I hugged my son, watched a magpie take flight, and listened to my snoring dogs as they snuggle together in their bed. I’ve made progress on my new writing project and shared laughter with my visiting brother-in-law. I didn’t give up and curl into a ball.
Life is a series of sunshine and shit-storms, and as long as I remember to think of it that way, the better I cope. The key (for me, anyway) is tapping into the light amidst the dark. Finding the balance. I was reminded of that as I struggled to balance the light and dark in this photo of Marcel.
The result is nowhere near perfect, but then again, neither is life.
Today my son Zebu and I washed all our windows, inside and out. As we traveled room to room, Marcel the cat followed us. At one point he got up on the sill next to a newly-gleaming window and proceeded to sneeze. On the glass.
I’ll admit, it wasn’t quite as bad as this Pexels photo. Marcel didn’t shower the entire window with his snot. Instead, it was contained to a rather orderly row along the lower portion of the window. Zebu and I were mildly annoyed, but laughed about our silly feline friend as we recleaned the window. Then Marcel followed us to the next room and sneeezed on another window. Zebu and I were less amused.
And when Marcel sneezed on the third window Zebu stated the obvious: “This is feeling deliberate.”
This morning started with a run followed by delicious coffee and rice cakes smeared with peanut butter as I began working on revisions. Everything was clicking and life was good.
Looking back on it, I wish I’d bottled how I felt then because the day quickly took a number of turns for the worse and now I’m kinda worn out from it all. I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t conjure up those good feelings. Damn you, life’s curves and slick surfaces!
Ah well, tomorrow means a fresh start.
Just knowing you don’t have the answers is a recipe for humility, openness, acceptance, forgiveness, and an eagerness to learn – and those are all good things.
~ Dick Van Dyke