Monday, August 31, 2009

Summarizing Conclusions

So, what I learned from listing my favorite runs is that my two basic requirements for good runs are views and million-dollar homes. Hmm. Apparently, who needs bike paths? Natural areas? Quiet, car free spaces? Not me!

So I should clarify: all of my favorite runs DO involve bike paths, or at least parklike medians. Also, my key criteria seems to have been whether or not a run made me want to drag myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. I'll point out that otherwise great runs that involved ANY stretch of running along a busy road or along a dank secluded river, even if I would do them in a second and have never had ANY safety problems, didn't make the cut. It's how the run looked in my mind, you see. It's easier to actually power through a poorly lit underpass, especially when I'm right there and can suss out potential hazards, than to imagine running there. Especially if I am in my safe warm bed.

In other words: I love ALL my runs. Except for the ones I don't.

Happy Monday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Favorites: Best Short Runs, 4 miles or (usually much) less

1. Boulder, Colorado. From the 6-person condo I had a room in to the foothills and back. Best moment: crossing north Broadway at dawn, looking south and east over the whole city and the Flatirons. Best at dawn.

2. Greenwood Village, Colorado. My three-mile loop up through the million-dollar houses and down through Cattail Park. Great views of the foothills and the plains. Best at dawn.

3. Fort Collins, Colorado. From our rental on LaPorte over past the Cemetery and down Mountain Avenue, past all the cute little Old Town Victorians and uber-designed gardens. Best at dusk.

4. Near Belfast, Maine. Down the dirt road a friend lives on, out onto a gravel road to the dead end and back. Past a nineteenth-century cemetery, two-hundred-year-old farmhouses, and pine woods. Best midday.

5. Boulder, Colorado. From east Arapaho Road, south past the golf course into the open space and back through the leisurely 2-acre east Boulder suburbs. Best midday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yellow: Should We Hate It?

Sources Say Yes.

So, I spent all last week painting the kitchen and TV room yellow, and I hate it. Also, I'm so tired from painting in the first place that I'm not sure what the best fix is anymore. Simply repaint it? No way. The yellow will STILL BE THERE. I'm thinking torch the house and start over.

So the deal is, I thought I liked yellow. Since we moved in I've had in mind to repaint the kitchen a pale, summery yellow, something to feel bright and good-morningish as the sun streams through the house and the water heats for coffee. I've even painted a few other rooms in the house yellow--the hall bathroom and the hall. That's where the trouble started. I liked that yellow, but in certain light it seemed a little cold. Not quite enough sunshine, a little too much overcast polar sky. So, I thought, let's still go with yellow. Let's just warm it up a bit.

Unfortunately, I didn't really process the mechanics of "warming up." You warm up a color by adding red, or, since we're dealing with yellow to begin with, you add orange. Technically, it seems, you warm up yellow by adding the cheese powder from boxed mac and cheese.

So the past week I've been painting the walls of my kitchen with the fake-cheddar sauce yellow of mac and cheese.


It's gotten to the point where I can't look at any yellow anywhere without feeling slathered in butter. The yellow of the hall and bathroom? Looks like banana taffy. Yellow houses I used to like? Yech. Even Helen's pretty yellow dresses have something unbearably margarine-y about them.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Favorites, painting related

1. My favorite part of painting a room: pulling off the masking tape in long delicious strips.

2. My least favorite part of painting: finding that the paint leaked under the masking tape, or that the tape pulled paint off of the already-painted part.

3. Favorite paint color in our house: the pale olive green in the bedroom (name: emulsion. Not QUITE unsavory enough to nix my love of the color, but close). Favorite paint name: trailhead (a pale yellow).

4. Second favorite paint color: the bright reddish-orange wall in the TV room. Okay, going on it looked exactly like canned tomato soup, and I did have an "OMG is it too Seventies?" moment, but overall it works, and makes the space warm and cozy without seeming oppressive.

5. My actual real favorite part of painting? Being done. And I'm not there yet. So adios, amigos. Back to work.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Countdown Begins

Summer's almost over: the days are cooler, I'm starting to get emails and phone reminders from the elementary school, the school bus drove through the neighborhood today, checking its routes. By this time next week the kids will be in school and I will be frantically readying for work.

Here's what I want to finish up before I start work:

1. Painting the kitchen and laundry room. People, the hardest thing about painting walls is the prep, and these rooms, with their windows, cabinets, shelves, appliances, et cetera et cetera and so on, have MASSIVE amounts of prep. To the point where I stand in front of the wall that will definitely be prepped today and start to get headachey just thinking about it.

2. Trimming up the bushes on the sides of the house. The folks we bought the house from basically stopped trimming bushes about five years ago. The house is being smothered.

3. Organizing the basement. Right now it's just heaps and heaps of stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else. Kitchen stuff, camping stuff, fishing stuff, Christmas stuff, boxes of happy meal toys I had secreted away, hoping to stealthily dispose of, and which the kids have found and have strewn about.

4. A thorough house-clean.

I also want to go for a hike, laze about, finish some writing projects, and who knows, perhaps invent a cure for cancer. Also organize the tupperware cabinet. Part of me knows it's silly to think that life as I know it will end when I go back to work--but part of me doesn't think it's silly at all. The last time I felt like I had to organize the tupperware cabinet was just before Helen was born, and that's a lot what I feel like now: like I'm nesting. Life will still go on, with beautiful sunrises (of which I will get to see QUITE A FEW during my morning commute) and good meals and whiny evenings--I'll just have a lot less energy to spare for upkeep. Also, I sort of want to have a home space that is restful, vs one that is nagging me to do something about that empty suitcase in the middle of the bedroom floor or the pile of papers on the sideboard.

How about you? Last time you started a job, what did you have to finish up/ square away?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Favorites

1. Favorite pet: our dog (sorry, birdies. Also, sorry, Gerbie. If you're still alive.)

2. Favorite plastico crap toy now littering the house: the Playmobil Cabin. People, it comes with a tree, and on that tree is a woodpecker. With approximately the right markings. It warms my birdgeekophile heart.

3. Favorite boat: the sunfish. Not that given the chance to commandeer one, I'd be able to pilot it. I just like to see them, floating about on whatever body of water we happen to pass.

4. Favorite gross thing: baby poo. Specifically, nursing-baby poo. Which thing is made significantly less gross and more endearing in that I won't have to actually encounter it until such time as my kids have kids themselves. Or I get some more nieces and nephews. No pressure or anything, siblings.

5. Favorite kid's book: Mickey and the Night Kitchen.

6. Favorite child: whichever one will let me read them Mickey and the Night Kitchen again. Oh, it's on, kiddoes!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Random Conversations; Also, Bathroom Pix

Three random conversations around the house:

1. Me: Silas! Is there a more respectful way to ask Helen to stop talking to you than shouting STOP?
Silas: No!

2. Me (to unnamed child): Please, hon, if you want to wipe your boogies on your own bedroom wall, that's your business. But other places in the house it's not okay. Not the car, either.

3. Child: Mom! Mom! Mom?
Me: I'm back here, hon.
Child: Moooomm? MOM! MOM! MOM! MOOOOMMM!!!! MOMMMM!!!
Me: I'm here, hon.
Child: MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! There you are. Why didn't you answer me when I called for you?
Me: What do you want, kiddo?
Child: What? Oh, I forget.

Siigh. I'm ready for school to start, and almost ready for the job to start. I'm frantically trying to get the house ready and my other affairs in order; I'm painting walls, cleaning windows, trimming bushes, organizing stubborn corners of messdom. What I am very glad for is that our bathrooms are completely done. Behold, our bathroom, a year ago:

With a bonus view of our basement crawlspace.

As of three weeks ago, we finally have this:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life with an Eight-Year-Old

We celebrated the birthday of this guy over the weekend:

The party was at ten in the morning, and he was hoping to wake up at nine so he wouldn't have to wait more than about ten minutes between his wake-up routine (dragging himself to the couch, complaining that he's not hungry, reluctantly eating a bowl of Kix before starting on the morning's business of bossing around Helen) and the arrival of the first guests. Of course this didn't happen and by 8:02 he was flopping about on various chairs wondering WHEN the party would START.

But start the party did, and it was remarkably pleasant. We even led everybody down to the park at the bottom of the street for a game of baseball, and yes, it was a bit chaotic, reining in eight eight year olds and a four-year-old helper (still weepy at being locked first out of the treehouse and then out of Si's room)--two of the boys wanted to take the Long Way, one needed me to carry a complicated piece of home carpentry that he'd whipped up during the free play of the first hour of the party (!), another found a crawdad claw that had to be kept track of--but also, I'm kind of shocked to say, fun. Walking along with two of the cheerfulest little boys on the planet (I took the Long Way too), one of them trying to make sure I knew where the Family Fun Center was and how to get there (just in case, you know), the other telling me about his recent trip to Philadelphia--I can't think of many better ways to spend a pleasant weekend morning.

Because this is the thing about eight year olds, I'm learning: they are pleasant company. They can make themselves juice and sandwiches. They are starting to appreciate humor, even that which does not involve poop, knock knock jokes, or cartoon characters slipping on banana peels (not that any of these forms of humor are NEGLECTED, you understand). They can go off by themselves. They can process. Excitement doesn't totally unhinge them. They can have a birthday party, three fun-size snickers bars and a slice of cake in the morning and still be able to play peacefully with their new toys until bedtime. They remember to add "I had a really fun time at your house!" when writing to grandparents to ask for more stuff.

Thank goodness. We're entering the sweet spot (which will last until he's approximately 12 and then end abruptly, I'm fully aware) (although I'm still hoping this won't happen to us and he'll be a CHEERFUL and PLEASANT teenager) (ha ha ha ha).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Favorites

1. My favorite national ice cream brand is Breyer's.

2. My favorite temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with a slight breeze.

3. My favorite tree is the Limber pine.

4. My favorite state is Wyoming (siiiigh).

5. My favorite movie is Brazil.

6. My favorite child is...ha ha ha ha! Redacted! I love all of my children equally! (Just not the same in every single minute).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Exit Canyon City

We're back from our camping trip to Canyon City and I believe I have to retract a few statements. The weather, for example, was fine. Not too hot, just rainy enough to give us an excuse to go into town for late-afternoon margaritas, and nowhere near the Federal Supermax Prison. We got a very nice campsite, despite the fact that the campground had a pool, a game room, and evening kid movies. I may have turned up my nose at such accouterments in the past. I may even have been slightly annoyed at how these highlights essentially dictated Si's conversation for the entire 2-day trip ("What time is it? Is it 6:30 yet? How about now? I want to watch Finding Nemo" and "Can we go to the game room now? I'll go by myself. Why not? Will somebody go with me to the game room? I want to spend my quaaaarters. When can we go to the game room?") But the actual campsite location--at the top of a hill with 360 views, backing into pinyon-juniper woodland with plenty of room for exploring (and, thanks to the heated & fully plumbed bathrooms, pleasantly lacking in human feces)--made up for nearly all of this.


The Royal Gorge: Biggest Tourist Trap In the West!

It's a big canyon:

With a bridge!

(Note Helen's clenched fist. She wasn't totally convinced by the bridge's physics)

Under the bridge: the canyon. Yours for only $24 a person (children 4 and older $19)! (HACK)

We also petted the crabby goats, observed the mangy "wildlife" in pens, rode the train, the trolley, the incline railway, and the aerial tram. We had some "homemade" ice cream (cooked up on site from great tubs of ice cream syrup), watched people ride the skycoaster, and got thoroughly tired.

The next day, we did a little wine tasting at the Abbey in town and felt much better.

Monday, August 3, 2009

HOT (wither)

It's too hot to post. Not that my brain has proved fertile enough to produce two posts in two days before ANYWAY, but I had to get a mention of the heat in there somehow.

Ohio-cool and pleasant compared
to Canon City

Also, since it's so hot, we've decided to go camping this week. In the heat. Because we are idiots. There are hundreds--thousands--of magnificent campsites up in the cool mountains
mere hours to the west of us, but are we going there? No. No, we are not. We let ourselves get talked into camping in Canon City (of the Federal Supermax Prison fame).

Suck. Note to self: let's suggest that we camp on Long's Peak next. On January 3rd, perhaps. Because why use altitude gradients to your advantage when you can add extreme to extreme for maximum discomfort?

Okay, enough sarcasm. I promised photos:

Getting ready to let Painty go back to his business

Painty. The Painted Turtle.

Nothing like a backpack to help move the day along.

That's all. Next time: bathroom photos! (Because our other news? After a year of misery and construction, we finally have three fully functional bathrooms again)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Back from the Bloggy Break

Breaking news: I texted yesterday for the first time. Whoa boy, I'm speeding into the twenty-first century. Here's the sum total: "Sweet stop no idea how to punctuate this thing stop"

Yeah, so. Still some work to do to get me into the twenty-first century.

In other news, we just got back from a week in Ohio with my parents, where among other activities Hubs and I attended my high school reunion (20th). Well. I have to say I enjoyed Hubs' high school reunion better, and I may have known more people at his (note: I did not move to his town until ten years after he graduated from high school). Okay, I kid. I knew plenty of people. However, considering that my graduating class was only 300 or so, and I attended the public schools in my town from kindergarten through 12th grade (more or less), there were surprising swaths of unknown faces. Also, I disappointed myself by thinking EXACTLY THE SAME about my classmates. In other words, usually I'm excited to meet people and basically interested in everyone I have a conversation with. One of my big regrets about high school was that I too often dismissed people I barely knew as uninteresting; I was hoping, I think, that the reunion would be different. Nope. Five minutes into talking to someone whom I hadn't seen for twenty years I would be mentally checking my watch, already as tired of him or her as I had been on the last day of high school.

To be fair, people seemed to sort of feel the same way about me. It might just be a reunion thing.

More news: despite my lackluster interview skills, I have apparently been offered a job. I am totally aware of how great this is and how lucky I am to be offered ANYTHING. Also, I am ninety-nine percent sure I will take it. However, I am allowing myself to freak out. It's full-time, and I haven't worked full-time since I've had kids. (cue panic). I will have to COMMUTE. By CAR. (I have NEVER had to do this). (Yes, I am spoiled.) It's a regular corporate-type job, meaning that there are only two weeks of vacation, plus assorted Major Holidays. (cue MASSIVE panic). It seems pretty straight-laced, so if Si has a day off and I want to take him to the museum, I will have to use vacation time (meaning there will less for when I actually want to do an awaycation). If it's a spectacularly beautiful day and I want to take off and go hiking, I will have to use vacation time. I know that this is the situation of the vast majority of people who work, and the fact that I am even complaining about this shows how good I've had it/ ungrateful I am. [and I will spare everyone and not launch into a tirade about how 50 40-hour weeks are bad for us, how EVERYONE should get more time off, because work, as valuable as it may be, is only part of our lives and we are all starving our souls by working so much]

Anyway. Mostly I need to process the Change involved in going from being underemployed to fully employed. Apparently complaint is essential to that process. Apologies all round.

Next time: pictures!