Monday, September 28, 2009

A Short List According to Helen

A Short List of Things That Taste Like Blood

By Helen

1. Sardines

2. Tunafish

3. Root beer

There you go. Now you can give yourself mind benders all night long trying to mentally combine the taste of root beer and sardines.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Favorites

In honor of Back to Work, a Friday Favorites list about job stuff:

1. My favorite function in Photoshop: the magic eraser. I mean, come on. Even if I didn't know what it did I would love it, just for the name. And there are few things (at my work) quite so satisfying as clicking on annoying ugly spots on my figures and having them just...disappear.

2. Favorite thing about my work climate: they provide free hot chocolate. I mean, at my last work, we had to pay for coffee.

3. Favorite thing about my work location: (and this is remembering that actually I wish desperately that they would move so that I didn't have to drive for an hour every fricking day) I like being so very close to the hogback. It rises up less than a mile away, a flat wide slope of mountain mahogany and rock. I mean, there's an interstate between my work and it, so it's not like I can run over there on my lunch hour, but I can look.

4. Favorite thing about working (besides getting paid): being busy. I mean, sometimes I am too busy, and that sucks. But sometimes, much of the time, I am just the right amount of busy, and I like it. I'd hoped to replicate that during the year I had "off" by making my own concerns a job--but it just wasn't the same.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall season TV

Whoa, two posts in one day! Hold me back!

So, guys, I tried to watch some comedy pilots on the TV last night, and let me just say, it reminded me STRONGLY of why I no longer really watch TV. And it had nothing to do with what was on the screen.

For instance:

1. First I had to wait until the play was over in the baseball game "everyone" else was watching.
2. Then I had to cover the birds. Didn't work: they still yammered away. Turned up the volume on the TV.
3. Then I had to remind the kids (gently!) that for once I was watching a TV show, so they really needed to please not yell for approximately 27 minutes.
4. Yeah. So I turned up the volume some more.
5. This just made the kids talk louder.
6. Then the phone rang. Alumni fundraising. We let the machine get it.
7. Then there was a joke on the show that Si got so he repeated it several times, laughing.
8. Then Hubs said (perhaps in response to my irritated sigh), "Pause it. Pause it. You can just pause it, you know."
9. Then Costi the dog started making her hungry noises. We feed her, people. For real. Hubs and I both rolled our eyes and said, NO, Costi.
10. Then I had remind Helen again to whisper, please.
11. Then the show ended. I watched approximately ten percent of it. Did I like it? Was it any good? I couldn't really say. Will I watch it again? Probably not. It's not worth it.

And let me point out, here, that overall the odds were in my favor. I had the remote. I was sitting on the couch. Dinner was over. And still I can't cut the time out of the damn day to watch twenty minutes of scripted jokes. Apparently I will return to regular TV watching in 2024, when Helen graduates from high school. It better be good by then, Networks. If you still exist.

Mafia alligator

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know rewards and encouragement work better than threats to promote good behavior. I'm also tuned in to the magic of maintaining routine and parental good behavior.

There are still some days, though, when I'd like to keep an alligator to help keep the home ship in running order.

"You think that's so funny, huh? Maybe you need to go explain it to the alligator."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Running through a sprinkler

Last week, which was my first five-day week working full time in this millenium, practically, I was a little unsure if the whole "working" thing was going to last. Life just felt so unbearably busy, like I was holding my breath and running through a sprinkler every single second of every single goddamn day. I mean, this is my standard morning:

5:20 - alarm goes off. I get up and put on my running clothes in the dark.
5:25 - I stretch and do some push-ups, in the dark. If I'm running late I skip the stretching.
5:40 - I leave the house for a run. Sometimes I'll leave as late as 6. I run two and a half to three miles, with the dog, who's mostly on message but occasionally insists on a sniff stop mid-run. These feel like they take HALF AN HOUR.
6:30 - At the latest. I come in the door, strip off my running stuff, hang the "wear more than one day" items, try to get the rest into the laundry pile instead of on the floor.
6:35 - Shower. Shave legs. Comb hair. My hair takes forever to comb, so sometimes I'll read a magazine (propped on the sink) while I comb.
6:50 - Turn on Si's light, turn off his fan, say "Time to get up, sweetheart! What do you want for breakfast?" Start the water for coffee. Grind the coffee. While the water is boiling, empty the dishwasher. Load the assorted dirty dishes that have gathered since the dishwasher ran last night. Gather up a few lunch/snack items and put them in my lunch bag. When the water boils, pour it into the coffee maker. We do French press coffee, BTW. Best coffee ever.
7:02 - Return to Si's room, pull the blanket off him, get him some clean clothes to change into, say, "The bus will be here in fifteen minutes! You really need to get up now!"
7:05 - Return to kitchen and cut up a peach for Si's breakfast. Pour him some milk. Pour myself some OJ and take a vitamin. Pour out my cereal. If Si's made it to the table on his own steam, I'll start eating. If not, I go and tell him the bus will be here in ten minutes, or whatever lie I need to tell him to get him the hell out of bed. I try to read while I eat and usually make it through about one paragraph.
7:19 - Notice the time and panic. Tell Si he needs to be walking out the door this second. Go find his shoes for him and put them on his feet. Ask him if he has his homework. Remind him to brush his teeth. End up getting the toothbrush pasted and wetted for his majesty and bring it to him for his brushing pleasure. Answer complicated questions regarding plaque build-up. Tell much-told horror story involving root canals at age 25 and add "THIS is why you need to brush your teeth!" Open door and practically push Si out of it. Feel grateful he will take the bus this year. Check to make sure he gets to the bus on time.
7:27 - Turn on Helen's light, open her blinds, kiss her cheek and say, "It's time to get up, sweetheart! What do you want for breakfast?" Endure some nonverbal glaring abuse and/ or a brilliant smile. Turn off the light when she screams "I can't see!" but remind her it's time to get up anyway. Explain physics of eye adjustment. Ask if she wants cereal or toast.
7:31 - Feed the dog, who is barking with impatience.
7:32 - Put together Helen's breakfast.
7:40 - Uncover the birds and roll up the covers. Feed the cursed things. Change their water.
7:41 - Finally, finally, finally pour out some coffee. Drink while I assemble the rest of my lunch. Go carry Helen from her bed to the couch. Ask if she's ready for milk in her cereal yet. Remind her that I want to leave very soon.
7:50 - Wish I were leaving this second. While Helen eats her breakfast, and Hubs comes in and starts pouring out his own cereal, pull out three outfits for her to choose between. Also brush my own teeth.
8:00 - While Helen gets her clothes on, paste and wet her toothbrush. Also get the comb and comb her hair while she complains that she wanted to brush her teeth first. Load my things into the car. Put the Netflix movie out for pickup. Pee one last time.
8:03 - Tighten Helen's shoes, as per her request. Hurry her out the door to the car. Kiss Hubs goodbye.

God, right? Minus the run and the showering, this was pretty much what I did last year, when I wasn't working, only it always felt like there was a little more slack. Evenings and weekends are more or less the same; however, I DID notice that this week feels a little less pell-mell. Am I adjusting? Or is it because Hubs actually got up early, too, and helped at least with the reminding and the putting the children out of the door? Or is it because we spent the weekend at home, instead of up in the mountains? Probably all of the above. I'm rooting for number one, though. It's all about adjustment.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wait, Is This a Post About the Weather?!?

Well, yes. I happen to love weather and could happily talk about it all day long. I'll try to keep it short.

Because what I love most is weather like we're having today: misty- rainy, with occasional lapses into sleet. Sporadically the clouds lift long enough for me to get up from my desk and walk around the block. Weather like this makes me happy to be in an office, happy for once to have an indoors job, happy to have a job that makes me drive almost up to the foothills, so that when I do walk around the block I can catch glimpses of the snow-covered hills hiding behind the hogback. Standing on pavement in the rain and looking up at hillsides that are white with snow makes me feel like I'm gifted with second sight and can see into alternate worlds. That, up there, is the world I wish we'd moved to; this, down here, is the world where we actually live.

So. Happy last day of summer!

Edited to add: the sky just turned green and then it started to hail. All over the building, I can hear little exclamations of surprise and dismay.

And some people think weather is boring!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Favorites

Since I got up at five-thirty a.m. and went on a run every single day this week (go me! even if some of the runs were more like "very aerobic walks" and also very short) (also, this schedule might be contributing to my feeling that there is not a single second in the day when I can just relax, dammit), another running-themed Friday favorites.

My top five favorite things about running:

1. Except for the shoes (and the clothes, if you want to get fancy), it's free.

2. It doubles as exploration. I LOVE scouting out new neighborhoods, checking up on peoples' gardens, and exploring new trails while I'm out supposedly exercising.

3. It gets me outside.

4. I can do it almost anywhere, in any weather. I've run in sixteen states, four countries, and three continents; I've run in snow, rain, sleet, and in 100-degree weather and below-zero weather (the latter is MUCH MORE PLEASANT).

5. It gives me great calves.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tink, tink, tink, tink

...tink, tink, tink, tink, tink...

So, Silas found a pick (an ice pick? a climber's pick?) within about an hour of hour arriving at the cabin on Friday night. He finally, and reluctantly, relinquished it at approximately 1 pm on Sunday, when we got in the car to go home (Word of WisdomTM: ice picks + children + car = no). For those of you that can do the math, that's, oh, about 132 straight hours of hammering. All of the rocks around the cabin we stayed in now have little white marks on them. Also all of the rocks along the creek at the bottom of the hill. That kid has persistence, and also, apparently, gold fever. That's what he was doing, by the way: mining for gold. (Only 149 years too late! Sorry, kiddo!)

But! It was a wonderful weekend, nevertheless. We stayed at one of the cabins around the Glen Isle resort, which is a moldering old marvel of a historical lodge, with cheap cabins, lots of roads and trails, and easy access to the north fork of the Platte (and easier access to the little creek that empties into the north fork, which was a load off for the lazy parents among our group, which was all of us.) Hubs worked, I read the old magazines laying about the cabin, and my sister-in-law slept. Helen colored like a madwoman, at least when she wasn't out monitoring Si's progress. Their cousin kept tabs on the comings and goings of all visitors.

Every so often Hubs and I wish we had the means to buy some property in the mountains--to get ourselves a real summer cabin, something we can return to again and again, and pass down to the kids, a tangible piece of what I sometimes call their Colorado Heritage (usually while dragging them up a glacier or down a canyon). When I was growing up, I spent a few weeks every summer at the summer house of a friend, swimming, boating, and running wild in the woods, and it breaks my heart, sometimes, that we don't have the time or the means to provide this kind of summer to our kids. So far we haven't had any luck finding them friends with summer cabins, and short of winning the lottery, there's no way we're ever going to own a cabin. (Damn real estate bubble hasn't burst enough).

Then we go have a weekend the one just passed, and I start to think: who needs a damn cabin, anyway? It would be nothing but work, all summer long (that's what my friend's parents were doing, after all, while we swam and boated and ran wild. They were scraping and painting and floating out docks and fixing outboard motors and digging out privies and cooking, cleaning, and fixing ALL SUMMER LONG). Meanwhile, for about a hundredth of the price, we can go rent a cabin on the weekends we actually have available, and give our kids the gift of the whole entire state.

So. I haven't totally given up on the dream of a mountain cabin, but given the circumstances, I'm thinking we may actually have found a workable alternative.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Favorites

We're heading off to a cabin tonight in celebration of Husband's 40th (he's FORTY) birthday, which will raise all sorts of questions, such as, is it actually POSSIBLE to work full time all week and then do anything but drool on the weekends? We'll see. In the meantime:

My five favorite things about this house (which I am still, uh, learning to love):

1. It's one floor (with a basement).

2. The laundry room is literally two steps from our bedroom (this is the best set-up EVER and I HIGHLY recommend it).

3. The five floor-to-ceiling windows in the front room (esp. once these windows have been replaced and we no longer spend the winter heating the outdoors with our central air system).

4. The cavernous back porch, sunny and bright midday, shady and cool (yet open to the entire yard) in the afternoon. It's a perfect place to have a beer after work or eat dinner in the summer.

5. Our new master bathroom.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

If You Have a Boat or a Plane

Just a quick post this morning before I head off to work, but I simply had to share: an email request for auction donations for Si's elementary school noted that a "great hit" from auctions past included auctioning off a weekend in your vacation home...also, "if you have a boat or a plane," those make "very popular offerings."

I'm trying to imagine owning a Cessna, and then imagining letting someone else fly it around. "Just be sure to top off the tank when you bring it in! Oh, and be sure to pull up on the landing!" or whatever it is you have to do in order to land.

Or it's equally possible that they mean auctioning off a trip in your Lear jet. There are a sizable handful of parents for whom this isn't a joke. Sigh.

Perhaps we can auction off a chance to use our camping equipment ("bent forks and crappy knifes we stole from our college cafeteria included at no extra cost!").

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Favorites

During this time of transition from summer break to school and from not working to working full-time, when we all wake up in the morning groaning "is it a school day aGAIN?", a Friday Favorites list showcasing transitions I like.

My five favorite transitions:

1. From night to day;

2. From week to weekend;

3. From non-talking toddler to talking toddler;

4. From dirty to clean;

5. From worrying about money all the time to not worrying about money too much at all.

But really. Transitions, they suck.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Joining the Family

Had my first day of work yesterday and it went well. I didn't get fired on my first day, for example, even though I had this sort of irrational fear that I would (not while there, of course. I wasn't getting "we're going to fire you as soon as we can" vibes or anything). I was pretty tired by the end of the day, and by tired I mean tired of sitting in a chair: one thing about those eight hour days is that it takes some serious sitting muscles. There was also the whole getting-up-at-five-am-and-meeting-thirty-people-before-lunch tired. But that's to be expected, and it's even kind of pleasant, or will be when I get along a little further and it is accompanied with a sense of having accomplished something.

The part about starting a new job that I'd forgotten, or that I have gotten more sensitive to, is the absorbing of a whole new body of information. This is something that gets harder as I get older, or is harder because I already have a lot of things I want to be doing with my day. At the start of a new job I always feel a little like I've stumbled into someone else's family reunion and suddenly I'm expected to become a permanent member of that family and also the family archivist. All while I'm still kind of scanning the horizon for my own family reunion. (The workforce: a vast park full of picnics, apparently.)

Well, I'm off to roast some hot dogs. For someone's else's family. Cheerio.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

When You Get Up at Five

It's hard to feel scintillatingly intelligent, or even basically competent. Nevertheless, here I am. Me and the distinguished-looking bags beneath my eyes. Because: guess what today is! Yes, it's Tuesday. Yes, also the first day of September. Ding-ding, time's up--it's my first day of work!

My boss (boss-to-be?) did call yesterday to uh, check in and make sure I was still coming (the number of times he's asked me if I'm still interested in this job, if I'm really coming, if I'm going to be there, etc., are beginning to make me a leeetle nervous--wait, what did I sign up for, again?) I was relieved to hear from him--my second interview was almost a month ago, and I hadn't really heard from them since. It was easy to start wondering if it was all a mirage--that I would show up today and people would politely ask me what I was doing there.

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to it. Not to the early mornings or the (*ack*) drive or the rushing around that will once again be part of my life, obviously. But I'm looking forward to more than my paycheck--I'm looking forward, boringly, to routine & having coworkers again.

So! Here's to work!