Then and now

I drove Zebu to the airport this afternoon and hugged him goodbye, a parting made easier with the knowledge he’s happy to return to his new home and life in Seattle. After driving the 40 minutes back here, I resumed drafting a new scene in my work-in-progress I’ve neglected for the past four days. The scene is bumpy, but I keep reminding myself it’s impossible to revise a blank page which means ugly writing is better than no writing. I’ve set a goal to finish this draft by June 30 and then will reward myself with a printed and bound copy of the draft.

“June 30th” is my new mantra and it’s pulling me through some rough patches as I write this book. Two years ago today I was camping and photographing birds, without any notion of this latest middle grade novel.

Dark-eyed Junco, State Forest State Park. June 12, 2019

Then again, maybe the story was already beginning to simmer and I just didn’t know it. Either way, I will honor my commitment and finish this draft by June 30. I owe it to myself and the characters.

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.

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!

Breathing deeply

I’m very grateful for today’s clean air! The snow ( temporarily, at least) cleared the smoke and ash from the wildfires. There’s also sunshine. Hooray! And it was a balmy 40 degrees as Zippy, Emma, and I walked around the neighborhood, skirting patches of ice. It’s the first walk in weeks and weeks (months?) in which I didn’t have to wear a mask to protect my lungs from smoke. I felt so free.

House finch. October 24, 2019.

My son, Zebu, doesn’t get it, but I absolutely love the day following a big snowstorm. Clean, crisp air plus blue skies equals happiness.

This photo was taken the day after one of our snowstorms last October, but it’s a perfect representation of this day. And maybe this same House Finch is out in the plum bushes as I write these words.

Thankful Thursday: Zebu edition

Zebu and Emma. December 30, 2019.

Today is Zebu’s birthday. He is 24 (and so much more). He’s living here as he works from home, saving up money in preparation for a move to Seattle in the next several months. I’m grateful for our solid relationship and the laughter we share. He’s a master of puns and makes me cringe/crack-up on a daily basis, and it’s going to be a major adjustment when he moves out. In the meanwhile, I’m enjoying his company while I can (as is Emma).

Happy Birthday, son o’ mine.

Note: I just downloaded new photo editing software and am facing a steep learning curve. 🙂

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.

Exuberance

Three years ago today, I arrived in Amsterdam. I was jetlagged and foggy in the head, but still remember the lift I got from the mounds of tulips blooming in a nearby park.

Amsterdam. April 28, 2017.

Such exuberant flowers, unruly in their passionate display. We should all live so boldly.

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.

Making friends

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.

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!

On your marks…get set…bake!

My son Zebu had all four wisdom teeth removed yesterday, so I’ve been on ice pack and medication duty. Every 20 minutes, he applies two bags of frozen peas to his chipmunk cheeks. The peas are held in a sling we made using the leg from an old pair of my flannel pajama bottoms which is then tied around his head. After 20 minutes of ice, he goes another 20 minutes without. Ice on, ice off. I’m the timekeeper which means it’s easier to stay close.

So how are we spending our time? Watching the Great British Baking Show, of course.

Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Noel Fielding, and Sandi Toksvig | Netflix

Actually, I’ve never watched the program before even though all sorts of folks on Twitter rave about it. A show about baking? Who cares? I’m the woman who can’t get cakes out of pans in one piece and so spackle with tons of frosting to hold them together. I enjoy eating baked goods, but couldn’t care less how they come about.

Well, I stand corrected. It’s a very interesting and entertaining show. In fact, I haven’t really accomplished much of anything today besides watching those brave people create amazingly beautiful baked goods (along with some Tracy-worthy disasters). Zebu is napping now, but I’m confident later on we’ll tune back in to see how the remaining bakers fare.

The one downside to the Great British Baking Show? It makes me very, very hungry.

Stockholm from the bus

May 2017

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!

Sunday Confessional: I’m having more fun than Marcel

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.

Monday, Monday can’t trust that day

I started my day at one of my favorite places on the planet, Kapok Park. I wandered around with my camera and came upon this sign that reminded me of Zebu. I’d taken a photo of him next to that same sign when he and I visited the park a year ago.

So when I saw the sign today, I missed my son and decided to take a quick pic to send in a text. I stepped closer to the sign and focused on framing the shot. Suddenly I felt a burning, stinging sensation in my left ankle. I looked down and noticed ants crawling on me. Lots of angry, biting ants.

I’d somehow neglected to see their enormous anthill-home and stepped in it with my big shoe.

The good news is I had a lovely visit to Kapok Park where I managed to avoid molesting the alligators. The bad news is I caused considerable distress to an ant colony.

Happy Monday!

Sunday Confessional: I don’t care about Game of Thrones

So the final season of Game of Thrones starts tonight. My mate and my son just finished watching a recap in preparation for the first episode. Their excitement is palpable.

As for me? I’ve watched a total of maybe a couple hours over the years. Game of Thrones is not my cup o’ violence. However, if I happen to be walking through the room when Peter Dinklage’s character is onscreen I always stop to watch.

Photo credit HBO

Confession: I don’t even know his character’s name. And that’s okay by me.

In the eye of a bomb cyclone

I’d never heard of “bomb cyclone” until yesterday and now Zippy has repeated that phrase so many times Zebu and I are debating drinking a shot every time he says “bomb cyclone.” Might as well have some fun with it, right?

The wind is blowing hard and swirling every which way. Windows on all four sides of the house are affected.

 

North. South. East. West. Everywhere I look is a snowy-blowy mess. Bomb cyclone.

Oops, everyone take a drink!