Workers unite!

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!

My Saturday

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??

Thankful Thursday: in which we divest

Wildebeest and Zebu are both home for a visit. We haven’t seen Zebu since he moved to Seattle last August and it’s been five months since we last saw Wildebeest. I’m grateful to spend time with them, laugh at old jokes, and create new memories.

I’m also grateful they cooperated with my plan to get rid of some things. We carved out time yesterday to go through the enormous double closet in the basement that was filled with games, toys, LEGOS, dress-up clothes, etc., etc., etc. It was definitely a trip down memory lane to sort through everything. There was much laughter. We ended up keeping most of our board games, but it was an easy unanimous decision to say goodbye to TWISTER. Zebu commented that he’s always thought it was a really weird and uncomfortable game.

All these things will be loaded in the car and donated to ARC. More items are ready to go, but I’m going to check with the local elementary school to see if they can use them in the preschool and other classrooms. There’s also an electric guitar and bass plus an amp. Maybe the high school band would like them? Either way, we’ll find a home for those, too.

Hooray for letting go of possessions! I’m thankful for the many hours of enjoyment they brought us and wish them well in their new homes.

Waving goodbye

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.

I’ll huff and I’ll puff

. . . and I’ll blow your fence down.

Did the Big Bad Wolf pay us a visit last night? No. But we did have wind gusts strong enough to repeatedly slam a tree branch against the side of the house, causing our doggo much anxiety and me much grumpiness. I put a pillow over my head and eventually fell asleep.

December 23, 2020. Photo by Wildebeest

I was the last one awake and upright this morning. However, I was the first to notice something was not-right. Zippy and Wildebeest somehow both failed to see the fence was down. When I pointed it out to him, Zippy replied, “Oh, that’s probably why it took Emma so long to come back inside this morning. Guess she was out exploring.”

Fence companies are VERY busy right now. Zippy erected a temporary fence across the thirty-foot gap while we wait. It may be months. Prediction: Emma has several more adventures in her near future.

In honor of Wildebeest

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!

#Caturday shenanigans

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.

Good Day Sunshine

We woke to 8-9 inches of snow this morning after a high of 58 degrees yesterday. I should be used to Colorado’s swiftly-changing weather patterns and yet was still surprised to see that beautiful white blanket outside. We’re in desperate need of moisture so  it was with happy hearts that Wildebeest and I shoveled all that heavy snow (although he might define the experience differently).

Zippy and I just walked Emma through the slushy streets of our neighborhood.

It was a bit chilly in the shade but nice in the sun. And those dry patches of pavement were especially welcome. This low-quality photo taken with my phone doesn’t do justice to how good it felt to be outside in the sunshine, breathing clean, crisp air.

ETA: Zippy sent me these photos right after I’d posted.

             

Workers Unite

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.

Thankful Thursday: memories edition

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.

Rx for what ails me

Today’s been exhausting on multiple levels: personal, professional, societal, and human-on-the-planet. I just took a much-needed nap and am now posting this burst of yellow as a reminder of all the beauty in our world.

July 12, 2020.

Next on my self-care agenda? Scrubbing out my kitchen sinks.

Please do whatever you need to take care of yourselves.

Family dynamics

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.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Sunday Confessional: Welcome to my head

I use this blog to maintain a record of my day-to-day and appreciate the documentation it provides me. This site means more to me than anyone else who might happen upon it, and I acknowledge this truth.

So why is it still sometimes so hard to give myself permission to post a regular day’s snapshot of me when I feel less-than-great?

Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay

For instance: I ran today (after not running much over the past quarantine months), and instead of experiencing typical post-run endorphins, I wanted to punch something. Still do. I’m feeling stabby. I’m feeling old and slow and tired and fucking over it all.

There, I said it. Welcome to my head.

On developing curiosity

April 17, 2020.

It’s only Monday and I’m feeling anxious about various family members and all I want to do is hunker down with tasty snacks and forget about the rest of the week and everything that comes with it. Alas, life doesn’t work that way. Even this squirrel, who appears so content in the photo, was moments later focused on my intrusion. None of us are allowed to just be. Or, are we?

“There is a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same. A much more interesting, kind and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our curiosity is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is. If we are committed to comfort at any cost, as soon as we come up against the least edge of pain, we’re going to run; we’ll never know what’s beyond that particular barrier or wall or fearful thing.”
― Pema Chödrön

Newsflash: we all need a haircut BUT

. . .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.

John Prine, rest in power

It feels particularly cruel to lose a man of such empathy and wit right now. If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s people sensitive to the struggles of others. John Prine left us a catalog of songs that illustrate a deep understanding of people’s inner lives and the moments that often go unremarked. He was a treasure.

In the fall of 2002, President George W. Bush was beating the war drums (with the enthusiastic help of Democrats like Senator Joe Biden) in preparation for invading Iraq. During those months, I played “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” an awful lot. It was my way of maintaining equilibrium during those days of flag-based jingoism. Because, no exaggeration, flags and flag decals were EVERYWHERE. My family attended anti-war rallies in Denver during that fall and spring of 2003, and I helped the boys make signs that expressed their sentiments. Here’s Zebu in the middle, holding his sign.

Civic Center Park, Denver. October 28, 2002.

That sign was always a big hit at rallies because, once again, John Prine had nailed it.

While digesting Reader’s Digest in the back of a dirty book store
A plastic flag, with gum on the back fell out on the floor
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside, slapped it on my window shield
And if I could see old Betsy Ross I’d tell her how good I feel
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I went to the bank this morning and the cashier he said to me
“If you join the Christmas club we’ll give you ten of them flags for free”
Well, I didn’t mess around a bit, I took him up on what he said
And I stuck them stickers all over my car and one on my wife’s forehead
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I got my window shield so filled with flags I couldn’t see
So, I ran the car upside a curb and right into a tree
By the time they got a doctor down I was already dead
And I’ll never understand why the man standing in the pearly gates said
“But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
We’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war”
“Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore” 

Well, the U.S. ignored the millions of us around the world who over and over took to the streets to say NO WAR ON IRAQ, and invaded in March 2003 (with Senator Bernie Sanders voting against invasion and occupation). John Prine died on April 7, 2020, and minutes after I’d finally dragged my sad self out of bed this morning, I learned Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign.

Today is an especially hard day on the planet. Think I’ll put “In Spite of Ourselves” on repeat and sit in the sun.

John Prine, rest in power.

Solidarity, old dude!

Wildebeest made this paper mache sculpture in elementary school and it sat in our storage room for years. I finally cleaned out said storage room this summer and took a photo before disposing of the body. I texted the photo to Wildebeest.

Me: Cleaning out storage room. Saying goodbye to your pirate!
Wildebeest: That’s just horrifying.
Me: The pirate? Or saying goodbye?
Wildebeest: The pirate. Get rid of it ASAP.

Now I’m kinda wishing the sad, old pirate was around to commiserate. I think he’d understand.

Wildebeest walks the walk

Victory!

Last Friday,  Wildebeest took his final official stroll at Fort Lewis College. In addition to my pride and excitement on his behalf, the whole thing really was a fun experience. The ceremony was held in the campus gymnasium, and people in the chairs and bleachers were fired up! Being surrounded by so many happy-happy people was nice.

Way to go, son o’ mine!

 

Gratitude x 3 = Celebration

Yesterday at 5:45 pm I realized I hadn’t seen my indoor cat, Marcel, in hours. Zippy, Zebu, and I spent the next several hours in the cold and dark, calling to Marcel who goes silent when afraid. We eventually quit and went to bed to toss and turn, trying in vain to forget how cold it was outside. At 6:30 this morning, Zippy (again) checked the garage we’d left open four inches. This time, Marcel was curled up in the cat bed Zebu had put on top of the recyling bin. SO GRATEFUL.

Five minutes ago, I finished writing the first draft of my new middle-grade novel. It clocks in at 42,793 words and is a whole lot of talking heads and not a whole lot of description, which means it’s kinda skeletal. But I’d hoped to finish by the end of today and, despite my lack of sleep (see Above), I did it! Will I cringe when I read the draft in a couple weeks? Possibly. But there’s no revision without a first draft, baby. Again, I AM SO GRATEFUL.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Tomorrow morning Zippy, Zebu, Wildebeest’s childhood friend (Kyle C), and I are driving to Durango, CO, where Wildebeest lives. His graduation ceremony is on Friday and we’ll be there to witness that incredible milestone. Wildebeest was an avid student until he hit middle school and then had some bad “learning” experiences that completely turned him off school. His was an on-again-off-again college journey and he laments being such an “old graduate,” but I was also 26 when I graduated college (and look how well I turned out!) I’m proud of my tenacious son and GRATEFUL we’ll be there to witness his accomplishment.

#Caturday: Portrait of Defiance

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.

So long, Saturday

This week brought ice, snow, and frigid temperatures. But in classic Colorado style, today was blue skies, sunshine, and a balmy 55 degrees. My sons and a friend joined Emma and me on a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon, and the weather was so delicious I wanted more. When we got home, I put on my running togs and ran around the neighborhood streets.

Final light of the day hits neighbor’s roof as melting snow falls in jeweled strands.

And even though the sun has disappeared behind the hills, I’m still feeling good. Thank you, sunshine and endorphins!