Friday, December 29, 2006

The Piled High City

The Denver Post had a funny headline today: Instead of "The Mile High City" as we're usually known, their headline said "The Piled High City". Here are a few pictures from my adventure downtown and back today:

This is the State capitol building -- I took this picture from the 10th floor deck at our new building near Colfax & Broadway. The picture I took of this just last week with my old camera (my Sony died, finally, RIP), is horribly out of focus compared to this one!

On the way home, Brian drove me around downtown a bit so I could take some extra pictures. This sculpture is The Bear who's 40 feet tall and "peeking" into the Denver Convention Center.
I've always loved these guys -- I can't remember the name of this sculpture outside of the Denver Center for Performing Arts -- but I always call them "The High-Fiving White Guys". It's a name of a skit done on an old local Seattle comedy show where these guys would high-five over any little thing, and it was just hilarious. The first time I saw this sculpture I just said "Hey! It's the High Fiving White Guys!" and Brian laughed at me. I don't think they're actually high-fiving, but dancing, but it looks like it to me!

This final shot is one I took on our street. I zoomed in on our neighbor at the end of the block, and I think it does a good job of illustrating how much crazy snow we have today!

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Snowstorm, The Sequel

This is a shot I just took out my front door of the street. It's with my NEW 7.1 MP camera, with the night shot setting. Not bad for no light and no tripod, eh?

We're getting slammed with more snow, and the forecast is expecting it to dump another 2 or 2 1/2 feet on us.

Simply Amazing.

It's funny that no one can remember when we got slammed with back-to-back blizzards.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just When I Thought It Was Safe To Talk About Something OTHER Than Weather...

Hazardous Weather Outlook
Winter Storm Watch


WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH FRIDAY AFTERNOON
Tonight...Mostly cloudy. Lows in the 20s to lower 30s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

Wednesday...Mostly cloudy in the morning then becoming partly sunny. Highs in the upper 40s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

Wednesday Night...Mostly cloudy. Lows around 20.

Thursday...Snow showers likely in the morning...Then widespread snow with areas of blowing snow in the afternoon. Colder. Highs around 30. Winds becoming north 10 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Thursday Night...Widespread snow. Windy with areas of blowing snow. Possible heavy snow accumulations. Lows around 14. North winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 40 mph.

Friday...Widespread snow. Windy with areas of blowing snow. Possible heavy snow accumulations. Snow Decreasing Friday night. Highs in the mid 20s. Lows around 11.

Friday Night...Widespread snow. Windy with areas of blowing snow. Possible heavy snow accumulations. Snow Decreasing Friday night. Highs in the mid 20s. Lows around 11.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Look who's here!



MERRY CHRISTMAS!

What A Way To Start Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I got my morning heart attack when I woke up, and Brian fed the cats, and Hopper (pictured, who as you can tell "never misses a meal, or Jack's either") was right there ready to eat it.

Jack, our other kitten however, was nowhere in sight.

I called him, I jingled his food dish, which usually makes him come running. No response. Brian looked for him in the basement, and I started checking the front porch and other favorite spots. No Jack.

I went outside and saw kitty paw prints on the sidewalk, and panicked. Brian had already been up so he was fully dressed, and started following them.

Oh my God, I said. I CAN'T LOSE MY KITTEN. IT'S CHRISTMAS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

After a half-hour search, Brian up and down the streets and me in the house and outside a bit (I stayed close in case he came back), I walked into the house and I called him one more time.

The little guy showed up. Judging by how warm he was, he hadn't left the house.

Big sigh. "Jack," I said. "Don't ever do that to me again. That's NOT FUNNY."

"Meow," he said. Which I took to either mean "Sorry," or "Whatever." It's so hard to tell.

I went out and found Brian, and said Jack was safe.

What a scare!

So it's 8:30 now, and I've checked Joel's flight and it left New York on time and will be in Houston in about an hour. I watch the little flight simulation on Continental.com, and see he's over the Alabama and Mississippi line right now.

His flight to Denver appears to be on time.

Whew.

So far so good.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Putting The Fun In Dysfunctional

Tonight I talked on the phone with my brother Joel from New York (2nd from left in this photo) I was ever so politely informed that I have to blog nice things about him because he's busting his butt to get to Denver for Christmas after the blizzard shut down the airport and cancelled his flight.

After a long exchange involving me taunting him that I will NOT be told what to blog, and him demanding again in his ever-so-polite way that involved all capital letters that went like this: "YOU BETTER BLOG THAT I'M COMING DESPITE THE BLIZZARD TO SPEND 24 HOURS WITH YOU AFTER SPENDING THREE DAYS ON THE PHONE WITH THE AIRLINE,"

Joel and I started cracking up about how we were both insulting each other.

"Aren't we great?" Joel said. "We're SO DYSFUNCTIONAL."

Yeah, and we're proud of it. How sick is that?

This picture is of my family. My brothers and sister -- Jill on the left, Joel, and Jeremy up top, and Jeff on the right. I'm center front with the bad reflection from my glasses.

The 5 J's.

In order, we're Jeff, Jill, Julie, Joel & Jeremy. Mom used to yell at us in order and stop at the kid she was actually yelling at.

We couldn't be more different in some respects...but in others we're so alike it's scary.

One is that we move heaven and earth to be together when it counts. Jill was here for us when Jacob was born. This picture was taken at Jeff's house after he threw "Joel-a-palooza" -- a party at Jeff's farm for Joel and his Seattle/Portland friends who were brave enough to come to Outback Oregon and spend a few days in a tent partying with all of us. Jeremy drove from near the Canadian border to join us, and I flew from Denver.

I love my brothers and sister so much -- We're a motley crew of family that ranges from Jeff, known as the smartass in the family (seriously, he has it going for him more than me), Jill, The Boss -- Me in the middle, the Rebel -- Joel, the Artist, and Jeremy, the one without an internet connection at home so he can't read what I write about him anyway. But for some reason, we're not sure why, he has a mouth on him too and stands his ground.

Today, with a lot of snow on the ground, and us Coloradans just digging out, I realized how much little things like weather can suddenly screw up our plans. My Mom decided to reschedule her trip and spend Christmas with Jill, Jeff & Jeremy in Washington instead of spending the weekend in line at PDX trying to get to Denver for a flight she probably wouldn't get on anyway.

I like to think of her as the smart one.

But Joel -- Joel is coming anyway, and it looks like with the airport fully functional he might actually make it. His stay is so short, he may not even need to bring a change of underwear, but he's moving Heaven & Earth to be here for me.

As we laughed about our exchange of insults tonight, including me calling him crazy for doing all this, I said "You know I would do this for you too," and he said "That's what I was telling my friends tonight when they thought I was nuts."

I sure would buddy.

I love you Joely-Oh. You are the best. Just don't tell Jeff, Jill or Jer.

They might get jealous and call to taunt me about it. And Lord knows, they don't need anymore ammunition.

;)

Friday, December 22, 2006

I Didn't Realize I was Such a Geek/Nerd/Dork Until...








Outcast Genius
82 % Nerd, 52% Geek, 56% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in all three, earning you the title of: Outcast Genius.

Outcast geniuses usually are bright enough to understand what society wants of them, and they just don't care! They are highly intelligent and passionate about the things they know are *truly* important in the world. Typically, this does not include sports, cars or make-up, but it can on occassion (and if it does then they know more than all of their friends combined in that subject).

Outcast geniuses can be very lonely, due to their being outcast from most normal groups and too smart for the room among many other types of dorks and geeks, but they can also be the types to eventually rule the world, ala Bill Gates, the prototypical Outcast Genius.

Congratulations!


Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality

America/Politics

Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST







My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
















free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 90% on nerdiness





free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 78% on geekosity





free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 93% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Heidi-Ho, Neighbor!


Note to self: Don't move to Canada.

Brian and I woke up this morning around 7:30, and found -- you guessed it -- EVEN MORE SNOW on the ground.

We didn't realize how MUCH there was until we actually went out to dig ourselves out. On the north side of the house, the snow drifted a good 30+ inches -- basically waist-deep. The south side had a scant 24 inches at its lowest point.

This is a very bad day to own a house on the corner, as it means twice as much shoveling.

I'm not certain what the law is around here, but the general consensus in the neighborhood is that you have 24 hours to clear the snow off of YOUR sidewalk before, I don't know, The Snow Police ticket you for failing to do so.

I've never seen The Snow Police, so I'm skeptical that they exist.

But like ants after someone floods their farm, we all saw blue skies around 2 p.m. today, and we all headed out with shovels in hand, and started digging out. The cool thing was that we saw Anna, Mike & Dan, and we all had our good shared misery over the snow.

It was Bonding Day with the neighbors. As I trudged up the walk with my shovel, decked out in ski pants, gators and boots, Dan hollered hello, and in true Lutheran/Simpsons fashion, I said "Heidi-Ho, Neighbor" as we shared a laugh.

Another neighbor across the street was joking with us that he had MORE snow on the west side. Mike laughed at him and said "Everyone knows there's more snow over here on the east side. Look at how many more of us it's taking to dig out."

A man on a snowmobile went down the street a couple of times.

Now that's a storm.

Our dog Lucy bounded through all that snow to play with Mike's kids, who delighted in being run over by our black Lab who normally isn't free to play. We all commented on how it was a relief that the snow wasn't wet compared to the spring storm in '04, so it was an easier job. Nonetheless, I'm exhausted from shoveling tonight.

DIA is still closed.

Mom & Joel were supposed to fly in tonight, but both their flights were cancelled, of course. It's looking sketchy as to when/if they arrive, but I'm trying to remain hopeful. I don't look forward to a Christmas without them after anticipating their visits for so long, but I'd rather have them safe in their home cities than trying to land on ice.

Brian dug out the car tonight and did a bang-up job of clearing himself a "runway" of his own to get into the street.

Wow, storms like this are hard to get through, but they're harder when you're waiting for family to arrive for Christmas. It's a special day that deserves to be spent with family, and it's hard to imagine them not being here.

Let's just pray the guys at DIA are doing their jobs, and my family can arrive sometime this weekend.

If you're the praying kind, please pray hard for that please.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Blizzard of '06 is HERE.


Oh my, is it AMAZING.

This picture I took about 20 minutes ago -- Brian headed out to work tonight -- he has a night shift at UPS, and there's probably 18 inches of snow on the ground.

He went to leave tonight, and was literally stopped by the snow blocking the front porch's screen door. If you look at where the door is, there should be stairs and a 2-foot drop with a couple of steps that aren't there anymore. As you can see, it's even!

Today has been SUCH an adventure!

I went to work this morning just as the snow started, and I stayed until about 4, when most of the office had cleared out.

My boss told me to go, and off I went, thankful that I'd brought my gators with me so I could wade through the snow.

I also brought my camera, which has serious trouble focusing in snow, but I got this nice picture of the newspaper boxes on my trek towards REI where I told my husband I would be by 4:30.



I walked from my office near the capitol all the way down 15th street, and by 4 p.m. it was vacant except for a sorry few waiting for buses. I passed TWO of my 52 buses stranded on 15th Street, so I was VERY glad my husband was meeting me.

It was a long trek through foot-high snow, so I got my exercise in for the day. I smiled and talked with a few people along the way as we all shared the adventure that comes with a nice blizzard in Colorado.

I walked down 15th towards REI at 15th & Little Raven St., and when I arrived I didn't find Brian. I told him to meet me at the Starbucks there if it was still open, but it was all closed, along with the REI store.

Since it was 21 degrees and blizzard conditions, I couldn't just stand there and wait or face freezing in the snow, so I kept walking, and up to "My Brother's Bar" I headed. As I arrived, My Brother's Bar has a public address system that even beams out onto the street -- which is sort of odd -- but the voice said "Due to the fact that the governor has declared a State of Emergency, this bar will have last call in 15 minutes, and we will close in one hour. We suggest that you choose an alternate form of transportation other than driving yourself, or make arrangements to stay close by."

I walked into the foyer of My Brother's Bar, which faces the direction Brian should come in, and stood there, encased in the ice and snow from my journey, and waited. About 10 minutes later, I saw my trusty Subaru with Brian driving turn the corner, and I hollered for him and he quickly turned around.

I waded through what felt like 2 feet of drifting snow to get to the car, and then AHHHHHHHH, I was in a warm car.

Upon arrival at home, I discovered my screened-in porch had 2 inches of snow...One of the screens had been blown in by the storm, and deposited a bunch of snow in my otherwise "indoor/outdoor living room".



I worked ahead enough so I shouldn't have to try and go to work tomorrow. The only real bummer is that my brother and Mom were supposed to fly in tomorrow for Christmas, and DIA is completely shut down for at least the next 24 hours. I hope and pray that this storm clears up so they can make it, even if it's a day late.

Tomorrow, comes the fun part. Feeling like an ant after someone flooded their farm, I'm going to have to help Brian dig out and clear the sidewalk.

Tomorrow is the day I'm going to wish I had bought him a snowblower for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Perfect Storm

Ah, the Perfect Storm is brewing.

And it's All Joel's Fault.

My brother Joel, city boy, New Yorker, and magnet for drama (he IS an actor, but we're not just talking about that kind of drama) called me in October or so to let me know he'd bought tickets to come to Denver to visit us for Christmas as we had planned.

Joel mentioned, ever so casually, that he was concerned about flying into Denver and how the weather would be in December.

I, of course, having lived here for 5 years and have yet to see a White Christmas, said what all Denverites would say to family coming for the holidays.

"Oh, it's no biggie. It'll be 50 and sunny more than likely," I said, not knowing that in a few months, a liar would be made out of me.

To which Joel responded "Yeah, but I'm coming."

We all know Joel to attract bad weather, bad karma, bad salespeople & bad food poisoning as if her were a literal magnet for trouble.

Somehow, he's able to avoid absolute calamity, but by the end of it, everyone's fine, and there's a damn good story to tell. Joel's counterbalance of good luck with getting out of the worst jams he gets himself into is why we haven't excommunicated him from the family.

So what happened tonight? This is what I saw on the National Weather Service's website for Denver:


Hazardous Weather OutlookWinter Storm Warning
WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM WEDNESDAY TO 5 PM MST THURSDAY


If you click on the title of this post, you'll see the full report, but the short version is that we're expecting up to 18 inches of snow.

Now, I'm hoping that because it's ending at 5 p.m., and Joel flies in at 7:45 p.m., that all will be well by the time he arrives. DIA will have exactly 1 hour and 45 minutes to clear the runway in time for Joel to arrive as hero of the day, having braved the Blizzard of '06.

I guess if I'd wanted a White Christmas sooner, I should have just invited brother Joel out for Christmas earlier.

Yeah, Joel and The Perfect Storm.

It's like peanut butter & chocolate, Santa & the elves, wine and cheese.

It all just goes together.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Chop Chop!

This is what I looked like this morning before my haircut, and the next picture is the "after".

Oh MAN was it time. I've been toying with going short for a while. It's hard to do something so drastic, but I always swore I'd never have medium length hair again. It's way too much work!
So, with medium out, and being in dire need of change, I cut it short short! I hope you all like the new 'do, because I sure do!

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Welcome to Colorado"

It was 68 in Denver today. By tomorrow night it's supposed to snow. For three days.

Before the last snowstorm last month, we were set up the same way. Balmy, 60+ degree weather one day, snowstorm the next.

I was in the elevator the other day with a couple of guys from work I know to be native Coloradans, and since talking about the weather is a favorite Elevator Discussion, I marveled out loud about how the weather goes from 60 to 40 to Snow in a matter of hours.

"Welcome to Colorado," Dave said.

I said "You know, you Coloradans say that and I used to think you were being sincere. It took me a while, but I figured out you were being sarcastic."

Laughs in the elevator. A few semi-guilty smiles and nods.

AHA. I discover they think they're being funny in that Midwest sorta way. Subtley making a joke at your expense. But all in good fun.

Yes, if you so much as hint, marvel, complain or kvetch about the weather here, you often hear back "Welcome to Colorado", which comes with a knowing smile and a shake of the head that says "Welcome to Colorado newbie."

A couple of summers ago, we dropped 30 degrees in 30 minutes on June 2nd, and it started snowing.

I've heard thunder and seen snow fall at the same time -- I call it thundersnow.

I've seen it snow when the sun is shining brightly in my face and I can't tell where the heck the snow is coming from because no clouds are visible. It makes it look like rainbow-prism crystals are falling out of the sky. It's positively magical.

I've seen the Rockies disappear and a few minutes later, whatever weather is rumbling over the Great Divide hits Denver with a force.

I've seen clouds turn sickening green and pink, right before a funnel cloud appeared. There's a primal urge to stare at it and go inside and hide in the bathroom at the same time. Fortunately when this happened, I was out on the plains in East Aurora, so this kind of thing doesn't happen at my house not far from the foothills.

But for some reason we have a tornado siren tower not far from my house. I'm told it's "just in case", but who puts a tower up if it hasn't happened before?
I ask my neighbors and they shrug and look at me with the look that says again, "Welcome to Colorado newbie."

I've had thunder clap so hard while I sat out on my screened porch that it killed my phone and made my ears ring for a few hours. Kinda like my college experience going to an AC/DC concert on a whim.

I just hope it really does come tomorrow. I'm dying for another chance to walk my dog in the snow while all those wussy Coloradans who apparently don't know what Gore-Tex is for stay inside.

But at least they say I'm welcome here!

Sort of.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another Lesson From Bus #52

I take the bus to work every morning.

Like most people I tune out as much as I can. I've downloaded a Tetris game to my iPod, and nothing quite burns you through a commute like playing a long list of songs and a video game at the same time.

I have a funny new bus driver. She announces almost every intersection like she's surprised she made it that far. "On to Pecos?" she says in a childlike voice as if she's not announcing it but looking for an answer to her own internal question. She's announced cross streets like Cherokee, which made me look up to wonder where the heck I was. It's become a small side joke with some of us riders who smile knowingly at each other because at a stop we've talked about the driver who announces every cross street, big and small. She's very kind though, so I just crank up the iPod if I really don't want to listen to the full running commentary on my journey downtown.

But this morning, we had a new driver. I don't know his name, and I barely listened to him. Come to think of it, he did mention a lot of intersections like our normal new bus driver. I shudder to think if she's out training people. Ha.

Anyway, a younger man got on the bus and sat in front. I noticed him because he appeared to have a mental disability -- perhaps a case of Down Syndrome. I turned my iPod down and listened because he was very animated and excited to talk with the bus driver, and let's face it, we're all spectators to a fun conversation on public transportation.

Well, the Young Man said he was VERY disappointed in Cutler's performance in the game on Sunday where we took a beating from San Diego (Cutler is the new Broncos rookie Quarterback).

The bus driver said "well, we have to blame the whole team, the defense was terrible." To which the kid agreed. "Yeah, the defense was terrible. They scored 40-points against us!"

Then the bus driver said "We have to give the kid a chance (referring to rookie Cutler). He's a lot like John Elway when he was a rookie."

I smiled at what he said, and the bus driver caught me in the mirror nodding at what he said and smiled back.

Well, the bus driver might as well have invoked the name of God Himself. The young man on the bus said "Yeah. Let's give the kid a chance."

I don't know what it is -- perhaps the kindness of the driver, and the young man's love of football and his eagerness to talk to somebody about it, it all just warmed my heart.

I think often of what a cruel world this can be for people with disabilities. All you have to do is see someone in a wheelchair, or walking with a severe limp to make you realize how good you have it in the world when you don't have those problems.

But to see the kindness of the bus driver, who probably sees the gamut of humanity in a day, talk to the kid and share his love of football along with his opinions, just made me happy.

We have a choice not to ignore people different from us. We have a choice to be kind instead of mean.

I try to choose kindness whenever I can. It's something I work on all the time, but I'm hardly perfect. But I do it because in some way, we all have our pains, our trials, and our problems. And even though some people may not realize it, that little kindness can go a long way.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

How Jack Came To Our House


This is Jack. He's almost 2 years old, but you'd think he was a kitten. He's very cute, pretty small (especially compared to the Kitten Hopper, who weighs in around 22 lbs.), and this is where he likes to sleep -- next to one of the heat registers in the house. All my pets picked us before we picked them. Jack, for example, is a talker, and he talked me right into taking him home.

I went to the shelter and was looking for a girl kitty to be friends for The Kitten Hopper, and picked up a beautiful brown tiger striped kitty who was so cute, petite and quiet, I thought she was almost too quiet.

Well, Jack walked up to me in the visiting area, and talked his head off. "Meow, meow, meeeee ow!" He said. I said "What, you want me to put her down and pick you up?" And he said "Meow."

I put down cute girl kitty and picked up Jack, and he quit talking and started purring his little heart out. Loudly.

"All right, buddy, you win. I'll take you."

Then he did what all my other pets have done when I've said that. He reached up with a paw and touched my face. That sealed the deal

Well, I didn't know that Jack's talking wasn't just a desperation thing. It's part of his personality. When he isn't sleeping, eating, or doing his business in the cat box, he follows me around, talking.

I often talk back and his tone changes. "Is that right Jack?" MEOW, he says. "Well, I'm here to tell you what you heard is true."

He just talks right back, like we're having a whole conversation and I can understand him and he can understand me.

He is a smart kitty. He has figured out that doors are opened by doorknobs, and he stretches long and tall and tries to reach the knobs, then gets his paws around them and tries to open them. Especially if you're sleeping and he wants to be with you.

He likes watching TV and the fish tank, and he loves his warm spot in the house.

I think the neatest thing was the story about how he was returned to the shelter by a husband whose wife didn't ask if she could bring a kitten home. The man brought Jack back holding him "like he was a turd" the shelter lady said. After another week in the shelter, I said I'd be taking him home, and she was thrilled that he finally had a forever home.

It's taken Jack a while to be friends with Brian, I think maybe because his previous Man Of The House didn't like him. But now they're buddies, and Jack goes to Brian as often as he does me.

Brian said "You pick good ones," when I made some wisecrack about our pets being so funny and strange in their own way.

But really, they chose us.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Me Me Me Me Me.

Oh man. It's been one of those weeks -- I know it's got to be the holidays that's bringing it out in people, but I really see it with a higher focus this year.

Maybe this makes me one of them for complaining about those who complain, but I'm just hearing way too much Me Me Me Me Me out out of WAY too many people.

Maybe it's that we're all getting older. Maybe as a result we're more tired. Maybe it's the holidays and the stress of what we have or haven't done this year, and what the heck we can afford to put under the tree. I can't speak for those out there who are doing all the complaining, but it's getting so loud I just want to scream "STOP IT ALREADY!"

In the midst of all this, I'm trying hard to stay positive about what I'm happy about. I'm SO looking forward to my Mom & brother Joel coming here for Christmas. I think that's what's pretty much saving my holiday for me this year, is having family come spend it with us, and knowing two of my best friends in the world will be with us.

We put the tree up today, and I've spent most of the day making a skirt for it because I've never had a decent one. Little did I know what a project THAT would turn into. I swear I could have made a quilt in the time it's taken me! But when it's done it's going to be neat. Hand made, with my new machine, and something I'll keep for years.

Thankfully, I've gotten a few thoughtful e-mails from friends asking how I'm doing, knowing that Christmas can often bring out sadness in people, especially those like my husband and me who've lost something so precious as a child this year.

But really, I'm ok. Yes, there are sad times, but it does get easier. I just wish that people who are complaining about every dilemma would pause for a moment, breathe in and out, and count their blessings.

I know that they have more than they're seeing, and hopefully they'll see it too.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

HEY, WE'RE SLEEPING HERE!



Brian cracked me up tonight. I heard him in the bedroom, talking to the cats, because he went looking for them and found them on our bed.

The blanket they're on is normally a favorite in the living room -- it's one my friend Jenny gave me that's flannel on one side, and has down in it. The kitties LOVE it.

So this morning, Brian brought it in and put it on me because I was cold, and lo & behold, this is where we found them tonight.

What was funny was how Brian was talking to the cats -- "Hey, what are you doing in here?" Then he answers as if he's the cats. "We're on the blanket with the good side up," I hear him say.

Last night I rolled over with one of the cats on top of the blankets, and apparently sent Jack FLYING through the air. He was so out of it, he didn't realize he was airborne until he was on the way down, and landing on Brian, who was woken to a stunned kitty coming down with claws out. I remember something about somebody flying through the air, but I was back asleep before he even landed.

So as Brian's chatting it up with the kitties tonight he explained to me as I walked in laughing at him that apparently the cats were trying to get "pre-sleep" in case they were woken up or launched in the middle of the night while trying to sleep with us!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Airline Mechanical Problems... and Solutions

I have no idea if this is a true thing, but it sure had me smiling.

"This is reassurance for all those of us who fly routinely in our jobs. After every flight, Qantas pilots fill out a form, called a "gripe sheet," which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, then the pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humour.

Here are some of the actual maintenance complaints submitted by the Qantas' pilots (as marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (as marked with an S) by the maintenance engineers. By the way, it is relevant to note that Qantas is the only major airline in the world that has never, ever, had an accident.

Problem: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
Solution: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in the cockpit.
S: Something tightened in the cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on backorder.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200-feet per-minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of a leak on the right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume reset to a more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: The number 3 engine is missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after a brief search.


P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be
serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

and the best one saved for last…

P: Noise coming from under the instrument panel.
Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a
hammer.

S: Took hammer away from the midget.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Special "Thumbuddy"

Since my husband works odd hours and fewer hours in general than me lately, he's taken up quite a bit of the house work.

Come to think of it, he took up pretty much all of it this past month, as he works early morning hours and is a bit more of a clean freak than me.

So, it's been months since I cleaned the cat box. I help with dishes, but he's often done the laundry and vacuumed and mopped things before I get home from work on Friday to clear our weekend for nothing but fun, and I've often thanked him for his work because it means I can sew -- and I've done a lot of that lately.

Well, this morning, I got out of the shower and heard the vacuum running (he waited til I was up at least, but I must admit there's a tiny voice inside me that says vacuums should NOT run before I've had my first cup of coffee. There's another voice inside me that tells me to shut up that first voice because I should NOT complain that my husband is vacuuming).

OK, I've digressed.

This morning, I got up and once out of the shower, Brian decided to wash the dishes, and in the midst of my getting up for the day, I heard a swear word come out of the kitchen.

Then a "UH OH."

Then a "I NEED YOUR HELP HONEY."

I got out to him with a towel, knowing full well there had to be a cut. And boy it was a beauty. Brian practically cut his thumb off judging by the blood in the sink with the dishes.

I transferred my cup of coffee into a travel mug. With another 2 inches of snow on the ground, I went out and cleaned the car off, and drove my husband to the Emergency Room. Four hours later, we had 8 stitches, lots of guts and blood (I'm not a big fan of anything regarding other people bleeding, although strangely, I'm fine with my own).

When we got home, Mr. Clean is no longer. He has to keep the thumb up, and I find myself asking things like "do I need to clean the cat box today?"

I took out the garbage for the first time in forever. Not without a sense of humor, Brian teases me about whether I know where the dumpsters are in the alley since it's been a while (like a year) since I took the garbage out.

So, in classic Peterson retaliation -- I mean Peterson sense of humor -- I start calling him names. "How's it going, there, Thumbelina?" I ask.

OK, the meaning of all this is?

Brian and I have always switched back and forth on who does what in the house (except the garbage and lawn mowing because for no reason other than it's icky -- that's man's work).

But when I got laid off from my job, Brian came home to a clean house and dinner on the table. Recently, he's had more free time so he does more of the work. We're not married to chores but to each other, and when a quick change in the landscape happens, I pick up the slack.

And after I made some cookies and asked him what else he needed, Brian said how he appreciates that I'm taking care of him so well.

To which I respond, "That's ok, honey. You're my special thumbuddy."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Frostbite? Or, One of Those Moments You Hope Won't Ever Be Lost



Wow.

It's 20 degrees outside and snowing.

This is a picture of the view from my house towards my corner of the world on my street in Denver. Yeah. It's snowing!

This morning it was clear and cool, but not cold. By the time I went to lunch I realized I didn't have a hat or scarf with me, and knew by 5:30 when I left for my bus ride home that I'd be wishing I had both. Today I watched the Rocky Mountains disappear, reappear, then disappear again.

My new office affords me a view of Mount Evans, and with it, a bellweather of what's to come. The mountains disappeared behind clouds for a while, then reappeared for a short time as the clouds ripped over the Rockies and turned around for another strike at the city.

So I went to Ross and bought a new hat and scarf, and sure enough by the time I went home the snow was flying.

I came home, and after an hour and watching the snow from my front window, decided to take a walk.

There are few moments in life that make memories. I remember consciously making a few memories -- one of my Mom smiling down at me as a young girl, waking up to my Dad's goofy grin when I came out of surgery after my appendix came out...

Tonight I took Lucy, my black Lab, for a walk in the snow. We headed over to Rocky Mountain Lake, just 10 blocks from my house, against the storm (in my new hat, which rocks, by the way). With my iPod plugged in, I listened to some of my favorite music, and soon realized as we approached the lake that we were completely and totally alone.

As we rounded the far end of the lake, I realized I wasn't ready to head home, so we went over to the ballpark and Lucy ran back and forth as I called her to run towards me.

There was a time when Lucy was a puppy that she ran free in a big open park like that in Yakima. Her tongue dangled and she gleefully ran up and down and back again. I remember thinking at the time that when she died an old dog, that that would be my vision of her running in Doggy Heaven. And tonight was another of the same kind of vision. My black dog running in the white snow, back and forth, gleeful that she was free.

I stood in the middle of this vast field alone in the quiet snow, not cold, but alone, and happy. I had one of those moments that I realized I didn't want it to end. I wanted to feel like that forever.

So after stalling a little longer, the snow falling faster, I started towards home. Lucy walked ahead, to the edge of the park where we head home, and I didn't go. I said "HEY!" and she came. We decided to loop around the lake one more time. Braving the cold, and hey, I was already caked in snow from head to toe, my feet were still warm along with most of the rest of me -- we headed around for another lap.

By the time we hit the far end of the lake, I was tired, but so glad we went again. This time, when we hit the end of the lake to go home, I was ready.

I may be sore tomorrow, but tonight I got to walk in the snow. It's one of the reasons I love living in Denver, and worth whatever frostbite I may suffer to make that memory.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ya sure, you betcha! It's Lefse Making Day!

I don't know why, but maybe it was all the mashed potatoes I had during Thanksgiving that made me think of it -- but I decided to make some lefse today.

Lefse is a Norwegian potato tortilla or pancake of sorts -- but it's not a meal, it's more of a dessert.

My Norwegian Grandmother taught me how to make it, and being raised in largely Scandinavian Lutheran churches, our youth group used to make it in large quantities to sell at a bake sale.

My ever-patient husband Brian has been politely informed that today there will be no disc golf, and very little football except for what he can hear from the kitchen -- because lefse is at minimum a 2-man (or 1-man, 1-woman in this case) operation.

Yesterday I went to the store and bought 20 lbs. of potatoes, and I boiled them, mashed them, and added the needed ingredients. Then I had to cool them overnight. The magnificently large bowl of potatoes wait for their last ingredient -- loads of flour -- to be mixed in til it's a big messy dough. This morning I prepped the kitchen by taking out a bunch of counter-top stuff, and creating stations -- one for mixing dough -- one for rolling it out -- a frying area -- and a cooling area.

The kitchen will be an unholy mess when it's over. But we'll have scads of lefse, to share with friends, freeze for Christmas when my Mom & brother come, and of course, to enjoy slathered with butter & sugar.

There's something about making lefse that makes me feel like I'm in touch with at least one branch of my crazy Heinz-57 family tree. My ancestors come from Norway (Grandma Dahlen), Sweden & England (Grandpa Peterson), France & Ireland (Grandpa Gunnette) and Denmark (Grandma Hansen).

With such a complicated ancestry, there are few things I know how to do that come from any of those countries and lefse is one of those things that just makes you feel Norwegian. I'm just a white girl from the States getting in touch with my roots, you might say.

Ya sure, you betcha!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gretchen Made Me Think of This...


The Denver City & County Building Lit Up for the Holidays Posted by Picasa

Gretchen's post today on her blog -- http://3outta5.blogspot.com/ made me think of this...

She posted about provincialism -- how people think that their part of the world is the best, particularly New Yorkers, and that perhaps the perception of living in New York gives one a less global view than those who live outside it.

As a result of her post, I started thinking about what she said, but it also made me think about makes Denver so great, so let's talk turkey on the eve of Thanksgiving about what makes this a great city, just so if you don't live here, you'll swear you'll visit, and if you do, you'll smile a little wider.

Daniel Liebeskind, an architect who developed the new Hamilton Wing (pictured) for modern art, is in the running, if not chosen to develop the new World Trade Center buildings and memorials. Liebeskind was in town recently to open the new wing of the Denver Art Museum (with its catch-phrase of "Hot DAM!", because we have so much class).

Liebeskind said something, that as a resident of Paris and New York (him, not me), struck me with all sorts of civic pride in my adopted city.

"Denver is America at its best," he said.

WHY?

Because it's beautiful. Not just the Rockies for a backdrop. The city itself is beautiful. It's open, it's friendly. People here are well-educated, love the arts, and support them with a vengeance. They're the friendly Midwesterners who want to live in a city.

I asked someone recently why everyone was so surprised that I would move here from Seattle, a town so smug that it thinks that the 20 days a year it doesn't rain in August is worth the other 345 days that it does.

I found out that Denver has a little hang-up, and that is that they were long considered a "cow town" even though there are no cows for miles around anymore, and not for a long time.

They responded by having every cultural attraction known to man brought in, including a great art museum, a world-class zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (which I still go to at least annually), and you name the major and minor sports -- we have 'em. Ballet? Theatre? We have it in spades.

But the people are what do it for me. I've made more friends in 5 years in Denver than I did in 15 in Seattle, but the strangers are good too. When I bought a map at the map store downtown, I came out of the store looking at it, and a man stopped on his bicycle to ask if he could help me find something. When I said no, I was just new in town, he said "Welcome to Colorado!" And he meant it.

Seattleites, on the other hand, will say "Great, you're from out of town? When are you leaving?".

The annual spring & summer events like the Taste of Colorado and Cinco de Mayo celebration send hundreds of thousands of people into Civic Center Park, a vast expanse of green that spans the space between the City & County Building and the State Capitol. Denverites like to have a good party.

I live in a city that has a few big city problems, but politicians have a no-nonsense approach to life. When someone complained about the "Merry Christmas" sign on the City County building, the Mayor said "Tough." When the Italians who hold the annual Columbus Day parade were protested by the local Native Americans, the mayor said, "Go ahead and protest, but keep your cool. This is a free country, let's keep it that way."

Amen.

And despite all the fashionista girls in this city who left me behind a long time ago -- Today, when I wore my cowboy boots to work -- I got lots of compliments.

Yeah, Denver is my kind of town.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Quote of The Week

"Do all the good you can by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can."
--
Ted Mink, Sheriff for Jefferson County, Colorado.

Sheriff Ted Mink probably doesn't realize what great words he spoke today, but it really resounded with me.

You see, Colorado, specifically the mountain town of Bailey, recently suffered a terrible tragedy, when a man stormed the high school and took a number of kids hostage.

In the end, the hostage taker was killed, and he took one girl, Emily Keyes, with him as he shot her in the back as she tried to run away from him towards SWAT team members, who killed him returning fire.

This happened quite recently -- Sept. 27 -- and her parents joined the Sheriff in honoring those people, including SWAT and local police who responded to the emergency.

But the real class act I think has to be Emily's parents, who have thanked the first responders repeatedly in the media, and attended the event to give community commendations for their bravery.

So many people these days would try and blame law enforcement for not doing enough, particularly if they lost a child, and on one hand, it would be hard to blame them for trying to make sense of such a tragedy by pointing at the "what-if's" after the outcome of a hostage situation turned out so badly for them.

Instead, the Keyes family has thanked law enforcement several times, and while they grieve their daughter, they have taken the time to thank those who tried to help, even when it ultimately failed to help their daughter.

It gives me hope to see that others can reach out, be thankful for as much as they can, and not point fingers.

"Do all the good you can by all the means you can, in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you
can, as long as you ever can."

Amen to that.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This One's For a Boy Named Zachary

A friend of mine has a 5-year-old son Zachary who is fighting Leukemia. Monday is a big day, as she expects to hear news of the progress of the cancer -- to find out if it's progressed to his brain or not.

This is terrible news, as one might imagine...but despite my own loss, it's hard to really put myself in her shoes, except to be scared and hope and pray for healing for her son.

I started making this quilt this weekend. I guess you could say I was a "woman on a mission" as I designed this yesterday, went to the fabric store when it opened, found some Dora & Diego (Nickolodeon cartoon characters Zack likes) and started working on this. By late today, I have the border on it as well, and it's all pinned, ready for top-stitching.

The gals from on online support group for Pregnancy Loss that I belong to helped pay for the materials as part of the gift, and I hope to get it done this week and ship this Get Well Quilt to Zack as soon as possible.

I hope he gets better more than anything. I want him to enjoy the quilt, and live to outgrow it.

If you're the praying kind, please send one up for Zack. He's a very special boy, with a very special Mom, and we want him to get better.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

GET TO KNOW ME! (Some More)

I shamelessly stole this from Sheri. I thought the questions were good (too).

1. Explain what ended your last relationship? I briefly dated a law student named Bill from the University of Washington. We ended our relationship because he wasn't over his last girlfriend, and I knew I needed to find out where Brian and I stood before I moved on. Brian and I got married. I hope Bill had just as good of luck, because he was a very nice man.

2. When was the last time you shaved? Depends on which part we're talking about, but my legs got shaved on Saturday.

3. What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.? Riding the bus to work, watching the pilot of Studio 60 that I recently downloaded to my iPod.

4. What were you doing 15 minutes ago? Reading Sheri's blog and stealing this questionnaire for my own use.

5. Are you any good at math? Yes. And I can thank Dan, my friend and ex-boyfriend for getting me through Pre-Calculus, but I was always good at Geometry, which is why I'm a wicked quilter.

6. Your prom night? Didn't have one. I was in Brazil my Junior year as an exchange student, and my senior year I dated a college man (now my husband Brian) who wasn't about to blast back to the past and go to prom.

7. Do you have any famous ancestors? A Senator from Virginia back before my family denegrated into horse thieves.

8. Have you had to take a loan out for school? To attend school? Yes, but I paid them off.

9. Do you know the words to the song on your myspace profile? I don't have one, so no.

10. Last thing received in the mail? Netflix movies.

11. How many different beverages have you had today? OH, my. Coffee. Water. Coffee. Soda. Wine. In that order.

12. Do you ever leave messages on peoples answering machines? Yes. That's why they're there.

13. Who did you lose your CONCERT virginity to? RUSH, The Big Money Tour. It was made up for shortly thereafter by a Rolling Stones & The Who concerts that same autumn.

14. Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach? Yes.

15. What was the most painful dental procedure you have had? Removal of my wisdom teeth, in three phases. They all sucked, but back then they still handed out Codeine, so at least I was medicated properly.

16. What is out your back door? My garage and gasp my back yard.

17. Any plans for Friday night? This weekend will be spent working on my son Jacob's story of his birth and loss. He died July 7, and was due November 11, so this weekend will be taken up with that.

18. Do you like what the ocean does to your hair? What does it do to my hair that any high wind won't do? Either way it's messed up, so no.

19. Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns? Stupid queation. But the answer is no, thank God.

20. Have you ever been to a planetarium? Yes, just a few weeks ago we went to the Gates Planetarium at The Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Which rocks, by the way.

21. Do you re-use towels after you shower? Yes, we change them out weekly, and not before.

22. Some things you are excited about? The Democratic sweep in this year's elections. I'm mostly just happy that my feelings on the war in Iraq are not solo -- and that the world can see that we're not just a bunch of sheep following the herd.

23. What is your favorite flavor of JELLO? Raspberry.

24. Describe your keychain(s)? I have one with a light on it, and my favorite, a Yellowstone keyring I got while I was with my parents in 1992, just weeks before my Dad died.

25. This question is MIA. So, let's take a quote from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues... "Life is hard if you think it is."

26. Where do you keep your change? In the tackiest coffee mug on my husband's dresser, that I refused to drink out of, so it became a change receptacle.

27. What kind of winter coat do you own? I have a stupid red parka I hate, and a gray pea coat. I need to get a new one, because I live in Colorado, where it was 80 degrees today and will snow again, by Friday.

28. What was the weather like on your graduation day? Hot and gorgeous. I graduated 10 years later than I should have -- in 1999, and I was proud to walk on the floor of Husky Stadium in Seattle...and get my #*%&*@ degree that no one can take away from me.

29. Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed? Open, because the cats come in and sleep with us, and Jack has figured out that the doorknob opens the door, so he works it all night (even though he can't really open it). So the door is locked, he just makes noise all night trying.

30. Did U read this far? I hope you did! Now you are tagged! Steal this from me.

How are we doing?

How are we doing?

That question gets asked a lot lately.

Jacob's due date is Saturday. Tuesday was the 4-month mark since his birth and loss, and it's hard to say just how we're doing.

We're hanging in there. I took tomorrow and Friday off from work, and I feel another storm of grief brewing, as I don't cry every day over Jacob's loss, but some days just feel like a rough patch is ahead....Brian said yesterday he started going through Jacob's box looking for some medical paperwork and ended up crying for a solid hour. That just breaks my heart, of course...I know the same awaits me.

With these few days off, I'm going to work on printing some pictures and putting together a scrap book for Jacob's life. I will finish my nephew's quilt in between, but the focus is on Jacob this weekend. I dread it on some level, just knowing I'll be crying a lot, but also look forward to getting a proper book together with all the sympathy cards, pictures, and printing my son's birth story so there is a record of him to look through and remember.

This past week, it's been tough to see people's due dates who were close to mine approaching. It puts a lump in my throat to think of it, and that I don't get to share that same joy. At the same time, I feel a parting of the clouds -- like I'm literally seeing some daylight after all this grief. I know I'll get through this...it's just sometimes a matter of deciding to trudge on, and times like that I just miss my son so much, it hurts.

Other days I feel light enough that it's not trudging anymore, but that things will truly be ok someday. Joy will return.

Thanks to everyone for your support. I don't know what I'd do without you.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Random Pet Pictures

This is one of my favorite pictures of my kitties. They're all cuddled up and looking somewhere near the camera. They are so cute, don'tcha think?

The Kitten Hopper has this thing about tight spaces. He likes them. This is a shot I took (without the flash, under the blanket of him as he lounges in the dark. He's just happy with that. Jack, on the other hand, would be outta there as soon as the lights went out.
When the Christmas tree is up, he hangs out there. I'm so glad I bought a fake tree, because with two cats playing under it, we'd just have too many toppled tree incidents. Someday maybe they'll think it's boring, but for now, they think it's fun to hide out and attack each other in. Who can stop them?

This is Edgar. He's not OUR pet, but he was this weekend while his family was out of town. He actually got to lay on his own pillow for a while this weekend...He's a VERY good dog. Lucy acted like she didn't care about him for a couple of days, but then she realized she was having fun and wasn't such a fuddy-duddy.

But, eventually, the Kitten Hopper took over. Poor Edgar. But he did find some nice soft spot up on my furniture. My dog is trained to stay off of the new couch, but Edgar -- not so much. But what do you do...you can't exactly discipline someone else's kid, so I just told him to get down. Of course he did, but can you blame the guy? Me neither.

I have some really good ones of Jack & Lucy too, but apparently that's all the pictures that the bloggerbot will let me upload for one post. More later.

Sunday Six

1. What is a family?

A family is a group of people joined together for life, through commitment like marriage, through bloodlines or adoption.

2. How big is your family?

I have am a family with my husband, and we have two cats Jack and Kitten Hopper, and our dog, Lucy. In my "immediate" family, I have a Mom, three brothers and one sister. My Dad died in 1992.

3. Who is the leader of the family?

There is no leader of my family with my husband. We're really companions, co-conspirators, and best friends. I would suspect if the cats could talk to me, they'd say they owned the place.

In my immediate family, my Mom or my oldest brother might be considered the leaders because of their being the oldest, but again, there isn't really a leader. We're all adults now and are friends as well as family. There have been times when people have had to take leadership roles in a crisis, but it changes and it's not permanent.

4. Who is the youngest in the family?

Jack is the youngest in my family with my husband. He's almost 3 years old. In my immediate family, it's my youngest brother Jeremy.

5. What do you do as a family?

Brian and I like to travel. In my immediate family, we like to get together, spend holidays together.

6. What do you love most about your family?

With my husband, I love our bond. I had been married before I married Brian, and it was such a different feeling -- one of not being completely connected to somebody. Brian and I know we will be together, and we love each other very much. I love that he's my best friend, and the only person I really want to be with for the rest of my life.

In my immediate family, I love that I'm friends with each of my siblings and my Mom. I love it that we make the effort to talk to each other and be together, and that no matter what happens, we'll be there for each other. Misunderstandings happen, but we talk them out most of the time. Not everyone has that.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Voting Day

Lots has changed for us voters who still like to go down to the voting booth and do our thing.

My parents were hideous examples of voters. They would go, sure, and leave all of us kids in the car, without seatbelts, with the motor running.

But whenever I asked them how they voted, or just wanting to know what it was like, they just said that they cancelled each other out. One parent would vote all Democrat, the other Republican.

They wouldn't tell us which one was which, although I think they were lying about all of it anyway. Back in the 1970s, I'd be shocked if my parents voted for anything Democrat.

Today I went to the Wellington Webb Office Building in Downtown Denver for early voting, and waited 30 minutes for my chance to vote. We can't vote in our old polling places, now there are several places throughout the city where we can bring our registrations with us, and along with IDs, are cleared to vote. We can do it over the course of 10 days before Election Day.

While standing in line, I got the 2 foot by 3 foot voter's guide that ran through each of the initiatives and other items on the ballot so we could study in advance. This is almost not an exaggeration, it was bigger than an 11x17 piece of paper. All in small print.

I knew how I'd vote on the major things, but the one that killed me was the one looking to change the way initiatives are voted upon in the state. I couldn't tell if it was good or bad, frivolous or brilliant, because the initiative to change the initiative process was so badly written, my college-educated brain couldn't wrap itself around it.

So I asked the lady next to me, just asking "Does this make sense to you?" She and I laughed at the irony that the initiative to change the initiative process was a joke in and of itself.

There was a League of Women Voters pamphlet that had the pro's and con's of all the initiatives. I read it. Still unsatisfied, but leaning one way.

I'm a fan of the initiative system. I like it that laws can be passed if you get enough people to sign it to get it on the ballot, and enough people vote for it. I think it's a fine way to not wait around for the State Legislature to do something. In fact, I wish we'd have national initiatives, so we could all vote once on something and just make it law and everybody could shut up about it for a while. You can imagine some of the divisive issues I'm thinking of. Capital Punishment for one.

But this year, we had some very interesting votes. Two initiatives that sort of go together, but sort of don't were on the ballot.

One was to define marriage as being ONLY between a man and a woman.

The other was to pass a law that ok's domestic partnership between same-sex couples.

If one passes, I want the other one to also.

But to me, I found it odd to try and make a definition of marriage like that. It's kind of like saying "football" is only American Football, not Canadian Football, or European Football, known as soccer in this country. Doesn't it matter who you are, who you marry and where you live that defines marriage for you? Marriage doesn't mean the same thing to each person both in the personal as well as the financial sense that the State does. Who am I to say that it's only a man and a woman? Why does anyone really care who marries who? I haven't been able to get my mind around that yet, and probably never will.

But, the fun of the day was voting. I love doing it. We've had some scandals regarding the machines and whether they were tallying votes correctly.

But there was a cool feature on my voting machine today. It printed all three pages out, into a secure box, where I could read it before submitting my vote, and then it disappeared so the next person can't read it. But it's in there so if the machine hiccups, they have another way to count my vote.

So, I think I voted today.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Kerry's Apology

I'm glad John Kerry apologized today to the people who deserve it -- to the troops in Iraq.

When you say something, even if it's a slip of the tongue and misunderstood, the people affected deserve an apology.

In this digital world, it's amazing to me how quickly some politician's misspoken words can go zipping around the world in a matter of seconds.

In this highly divided country, Republicans in a desperate attempt to save this election for themselves (because, after all, that's what it's all about, a simple power grab) are quick to seize on Kerry's words and label him a traitor to our troops.

Frankly, I watched what he said, and took exactly what the Republicans were trying to get us to take it as. But knowing what I know about Kerry, I could understand what he was trying to say, what he actually said, and why it was a mistake.

It'd be about on par with me making a comment that sounded racist. Anyone who knows me would know that's not the person I am, and that I wouldn't possibly say something like that on purpose, much less mean it.

Likewise, if Kerry weren't a Vietnam War veteran, maybe the words would stick a little better with me. But a veteran who's spent his later years trying to help veterans at every turn doesn't make fun of other veterans -- not intentionally.

Maybe if President Bush had spent more than a short tour of duty in the Texas National Guard, and actually gotten shot at a few times, he might have a different perspective on the true cost of war.

As of today, The Washington Post reports 2,801 military deaths in Iraq, and another 340 in Afghanistan. http://projects.washingtonpost.com/fallen/ At this rate (we lost 101 soldiers in Iraq in October alone) we should be up to the same number of 2,996 that we lost on 9/11 by Christmas.

And let's not forget who else is getting killed over there. Depending on who you ask, civilian deaths in Iraq range from the mid 40,000s to up to 100,000. And we're not even counting the wounded.

Bush's resolve to continue this war at all costs and to challenge the patriotism of those who question his policies is sickening to me.

Maybe Kerry is right, if you're stupid enough, you end up in Iraq.

And I'm not talking about the troops. Either.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's NEW Iron Day at My House.



Now, I know this probably won't be exciting to many, but bear with me.

I killed another iron this week. This one was a very nice Shark I bought at Target on sale for $60. I know you can get one for probably $15 or $20 these days, but I iron a lot with all the sewing I do, so I need something a little more robust.

But they don't really make irons that last that long anymore, at least not in the price range I'm shopping in, and not with the amount of abuse I heap on it. So I'm stuck buying a nicer iron that dies within a couple of years.

For no particular reason, every time one my irons dies, I feel compelled to take it apart and see what's in there. This one actually has, or shall I say had, a circuit board, which is an improvement over my last iron.

The thing that bugs me about irons is strictly from the seamstress' point of view. I use an iron -- a lot. And it's an integral tool to good sewing, because I need flat seams. And I hate every automatic shut-off iron on the market, but that's all that's left anymore. Unless you have an electronics degree or something, there's no way to shut off the shut-off feature, so I get stuck with constantly finding my iron cold because I left it for 10 WHOLE minutes while I sewed something.

I have a backup iron. It came with the house we live in now. You can imagine a bunch of bachelor college guys living here, somebody's Mom bought him an iron and he left it here because as a musician, he probably never ironed anything, so you can also imagine the quality of this thing.

I used it a couple of times, but let's just say, it's crap. It doesn't get nearly hot enough.


So, Today is New Iron Day! I just went to Target this morning and sprang for a new Rowenta Professional Iron. Here is my new toy! I'm like my husband after a trip to the Sears Craftsman Tool store, when he gets to buy a circular saw or a beltsander or something...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sometimes Perspective Comes on Bus #52

Yesterday was hard. Hell, there are a lot of hard days for me.

I struggle with the loss of our son. I struggle the big questions like whether I could weather another pregnancy in hopes of having a baby.

I mourn Jacob in ways most people will hopefully never understand.

His due date of Nov. 11 looms large on my horizon. I've scheduled a couple of days off before that Saturday just so I can be home, cry at will, and make the memory book that awaits to be created so I can at least have a proper memento.

Today is the anniversary of my Dad's sudden death, so Autumn already has its pall for me, so it's easy to feel sorry these days for all I have had, and all I have lost.

Yesterday, as I got on the bus home, I took an earlier bus than usual. I had a few minutes beforehand at the stop, and stood a ways away from a guy who always smiles at me like he's waiting there just to stop the bus so that I can get on. It's a little weird, but he never speaks to me, and always just smiles. I write him off as a Forrest Gump of sorts, nice, but not someone I'll ever get to know.

This couple is waiting at the bus in intense conversation. The man carries a garbage bag, I presume of his personal belongings, and the woman carries a small box of her things. I don't peer too closely to see what's in it, but most people downtown carry a messenger bag or maybe a suitcase, since those of us with homes don't carry plastic bags or boxes, so I think they must be homeless.

When I get on the bus, I sit behind the couple. iPod plugged in, I'm listening to tunes, but I focus on the homeless couple in front of me. He appears to be sweating, and she wipes his brow. I don't really notice it the first time, but I do the 2nd or 3rd time.

They're younger, maybe in their 40s, and I notice whenever she talks, he smiles, even as she wipes his brow yet again. He must be sick, I think. I wonder where they're sleeping tonight. I find myself wishingh I carried cash so I could give it to them and be an angel in the midst of whatever it is they're going through. Instead, I just watch.

Sure enough another wipe of the brow comes, and I pause the music to see if I can overhear the conversation. I can't, but I can tell she's speaking so soothingly to him, even I smile. There's almost a visual beam of love that goes between this couple, I find myself feeling guilty for watching them and try to mind my own business.

And with it comes a little perspective. For all I go through in this life, I have a husband, pets, and place to call home. But also that love exists no matter where you go if you have the right person beside you.

And for that I am truly thankful.

Welcome, Little Man

My friends Doug and Susan were due the same week as we were with Jacob -- I was due Nov. 11, and they were due shortly thereafter.

Susan gave birth to their son, Lewis today. He's 6 lbs., 15 oz, about 20 inches long, and both are fine.

Today is also the anniversary of my Dad's death. When Doug told me they were going to the hospital on Monday, I secretly (and perhaps selfishly) hoped their child would be born on the anniversary of my Dad's loss, just to bring something happy on the day that has been filled with sadness for me.

It's bittersweet tears that I shed tonight -- Doug and Susan have been through so much like us in their quest to become parents, and today their dream came true.

Many sweet wishes for a long and healthy life for Lewis, and congratulations to their parents.

They've walked through fire for this sweet day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Denver's First Taste of Winter


The First Snowfall Posted by Picasa

I work in downtown Denver, in a building overlooking the Civic Center Park, a great expanse of green space between the Denver City/County Building (shown in the picture), and the State Capitol Building.

Our offices are new, and if you go up on the 10th floor, where they could have put yet another executive's office, they put a beautiful patio and rest/break area for all of us to enjoy.

Across the street and park is Daniel Liebeskind's new creation -- the Hamilton Building, a new modern art wing of The Denver Art Museum, and said that given our city's beauty, friendliness, and love of the arts, that "Denver is America at its Best."

Oh, how I agree.

Last night we got our first real snowfall in Denver. We had about 3 inches on the ground this morning, and I knew when I got to work that the view would be beautiful, so I brought my camera with me.

In the background you can see the snow-covered foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which I've come to love as much as the Pacific Ocean.

It's funny to me how visitors from the coast (and we recently had one) lament the fact that we don't have saltwater here.

No, we don't. We don't have the smelly ocean.

And granted, I love time at the smelly ocean when I go home to the Coast. But the same feeling of great space is achieved when you drive a few minutes out of Denver into what are now my beloved Rockies.

Rugged, unforgiving, and willing to kill you if you turn your back on them, just like the ocean, the Rockies are a place that are uniquely Western. They were written into America The Beautiful for a reason.

I love the snow in Denver. Don't be fooled, we get plenty of it just like Seattle gets rain, but just like Seattle, it's not that bad.

We get a few inches, and by noon it's half gone. We get a few feet, and within a day, the roads are cleared enough to get to work, even if your driveway isn't.

There's a funny thing here too -- we get a few freak snowstorms like this one so early in the fall, then another one or two in November and December, but January is freakishly warm (60s, sunny) for the most part, and then BAM.

Spring is when the snow really comes.

In 2003, we had 3 feet of snow fall 4 days before my birthday in late March.

The first year I came here, the locals informed me of the short growing season at this altitude (It's about Mother's Day through part of September), so the day after Mother's Day when I planted all my flowers -- it snowed 7 inches.

The latest I've seen it snow here is June 2nd, and I can't say that was a thrill either.

But the funny thing is, you CAN see it coming. Weatherman says "60, 40, Snow" and you know...but the good news is, it'll be 70 the day after, and gone by the time your evening commute comes.

Yes, we get strange weather here. There's a reason Denver was founded, I think. The Settlers came out, after days or weeks across The Great Plains, took one look at the Rockies in front of them and said, "This is good. We can stay here."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Black Holes

Brian and I went to The Denver Museum of Nature & Science last weekend. A gal from my work gave us free tickets, and Sunday afternoons we try and have a date, so it was time to go visit the DMNS.

The Gates Planetarium has a number of Space-related movies they show in their planetarium, and we watched Black Holes, narrarated by Liam Neeson.

It was so cool to see how scientists have been working on trying to see the formation of black holes in space, and how Albert Einstein's theories about black holes have held up over time. With digital technology, they flew us into space and showed us how Black Holes are what's left of collapsed stars, how many stars there are in just our galaxy, and how lucky we are to be in a relatively "quiet" end of the Milky Way.

There's something oddly comforting about space travel movies like that. As they took us out into space and back home again, I found myself thinking about how incredibly small we are, how vast the Universe is, and how violent and yet beautiful space is.

Due to our recent loss, I've thought a lot about death and dying, and why some of us live on for years while others have such a short time. Watching Black Holes made me feel like I understood better the grand scheme of things -- or the lack of a grand scheme, and how we each have precious little time on this planet.

It just gave me amazing perspective. On one hand, I feel like a blip of human matter in an unimaginably large Universe. On the other hand, I felt the significance of our lives on this planet hurtling through space, and the importance of making the best of whatever time we have.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Troublesome

I have a problem I'll call troublesome. That's the most polite way I can say it.

Nothing in my life now is normal. I have been forever changed by the loss of my son Jacob.

I am very troubled by the fact that so many people expect "normalcy" out of me right now.

I'm so far from feeling normal.

Grief over the loss of a child is the worst I've experienced. I can't say it's the worst thing because I don't want to tempt fate and have something even worse happen, but it's hard to imagine what could be worse. I'm forever changed by it, and feel like I will NEVER be the same. I didn't lose a pet. I didn't lose a grandma or a distant cousin. I lost my son, and his name is Jacob.

Yet the world spins through space, people go back to their daily lives, and they're supposed to. Because most are lucky enough that they're not walking a mile or even a foot in my shoes.

But a little understanding when I "don't do normal" would be nice.

How, exactly, does one ask for that?

I feel it shouldn't even have to be said. But then if you've never lost something so near and dear to you as a child, how can you possibly understand?

At a time when I perhaps should be cutting some people some slack because they haven't been there, I don't feel like it. I don't feel like I should have to explain myself. My recent loss should speak volumes.

Grief is always there. Sometimes it's so consuming I feel like I've hit the bottom of the pool and am still disoriented enough that I don't know which end is up.

Today is the day that I would be entering my 9th month. Two weeks from now I'd be expecting my son "any day now." One month from today is his due date. Thanksgiving is coming, and the due date of my first baby comes with it. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year should be filled with me being exhausted with a newborn. But none of that will happen. The anticipation of that alone causes me grief, much less having to get through it all.

So my life will be in the coming weeks. Every happy-happy-joy-joy over the holidays will be met by the fact that my son was lost this summer, and I should be experiencing it completely differently than I will, but it is not to be. The promise of parenthood was stolen from me yet again, and so I feel separated by the normal joys of today, the holidays to come, and far beyond.

So if you know someone who's gone through anything close to what I am currently going through -- heck -- even if you just find someone behaving in a way that you just don't like for reasons you don't understand -- cut them some slack if they don't act how you expect, show up for what you want them to, or say what you want to hear.

It's not about you.

'nough said.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Travel The Earth!

Wow!

Tonight I Googled the Earth.

If you click on the title of this post, you'll find Google Earth -- a program you can download onto your computer that allows you to literally fly around the world looking at everything down to your driveway.

I zipped from looking at my house, with my car parked out front, to New York City, Cape Town, South Africa, to The Vatican City and The Colisseum in Rome, to London's Buckingham Palace and Eye. Then it was on to The Forbidden City in China, to Rio de Janeiro, then off to see the workings of Mount Kilauea in Hawaii.

What a visual treat!

Just when I was lamenting the thought that it would be a while before I could travel again, I found something to scratch the itch for another trip.

Try it!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sharing Pyewacket

My husband reads to me sometimes. It's something that started in the early days of our marriage -- where he would read to me at night for a few minutes because he wanted to share a story with me, and it helped me to go to sleep.

The first book he read to me was The Hobbit -- the precursor to the Lord of The Rings series.

After that, he read the entire CS Lewis Narnia series to me, first starting with The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, including The Silver Chair, The Horse & His Boy, and Prince Caspian.

But recently, he decided to read an old book called Pyewacket to me. It's a children's story about a bunch of cats who live on a street, presumably in England, who decide it's time to get rid of their owners so they can have their houses to themselves.

Their plan works (in large part to the coincidental happenings in the human world that make their people move), but not before their hero and ringleader, crusty old Pyewacket is injured in an accident, and his return to the street they live on comes into question.

My favorite thing about the story is the way the cats understand some human speech, the kind humans who help Pyewacket, and the kitten Pete who longs to be like his hero.

It turns out that the book is a story my husband's parents read to him when he was a kid, an old family favorite right along with watching the 1960s classic Cat Balou. In my family, favorite movies were usually family flicks like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and books like the Cherry Ames and Nancy Drew stories.

It makes me wonder if I'll ever be able to pass stories like that onto any children in my life, whether they're my own or someone else's.

Who knows. But I love the memories.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Blue October For Dad

The world changed this past week. I took my dog out for a walk and the colors went crazy.

Even though it was 80 today, Autumn has arrived.

In this region of the world at this altitude, this means that even though it's 80 in the daytime, the second the sun slips behind the Rockies, it cools down quick.

What amazes me still is how quickly it happens. One week, you're running the air conditioner until 9 at night, and now there's no reason to turn it on at all, as by the time you get home it will have cooled off enough that you don't need it.

But with the change of the season also brings something of the blues to me.

My Dad died on October 25th many years ago -- he and Mom had just moved to Colorado from the Northwest, and the altitude was a factor (at least I think it was) to his heart problems, that resulted in his sudden death of a heart fibrullation at the all-too-young age of 58.


Julie & Her Dad, 1991 Posted by Picasa

My Dad was Lutheran minister. Growing up, everyone who didn't know us well figured I was rebelling against him, since I did, in fact, rebel. But my Dad was my friend long before my Mom was, only because he'd been the wild child in his family growing up, and knew all too well that trying to make me into something I wasn't wouldn't work anyway.

He wrote poetry about his love for my Mom. He told me he loved me every day of my life, and his hugs were big bear hugs that only a man who adores his children could provide.

He had a very corny -- let's just call it dorky -- sense of humor, and nothing cracked him up like a good joke that involved it starting with a Priest, Rabbi & Lutheran Minister.

He played trumpet. He loved his Seattle Mariners, Seahawks and SuperSonics. I still hear my husband in the garage with the radio of a game on and think of Dad.

My Dad was good, kind, and the ultimate example of a person for me who recognized his flaws, yet rose above and made a point of helping those less fortunate. When I was young and we were poor, our house next door to the church was a stopping point for people in trouble. A family with no gas in their car would stop, and Mom would make sandwiches for all the kids and their folks, and Dad would go with the husband to help him fill up at the gas station. When someone stopped by looking for work, Dad helped them find a job.

When a drunk young man came looking for gas for his car, Dad got him to sit down for coffee before letting him go. Another time a young man on a motorcycle crashed his bike outside our kitchen window, and Dad and my brother rushed to help him. Months later, that man would come to our door with a cane, specifically to thank my Dad for helping save his life.

Dad also liked running interference with the Jehovah's Witnesses that would stop by on an occasional Saturday morning. He'd invite them in and involve them in long, drawn-out religious conversations knowing full well that they couldn't possibly convert him -- but he figured if they were in our house for a few hours, they wouldn't be out on the street finding other people to talk to. He was funny that way.

My Dad never had it easy. He was among the first latchkey children whose parents both had to work during the Great Depression, with parents who didn't show affection the way we do today. They had many nights of plain cabbage soup for supper. He worked hard until the day he died, and instilled a work ethic in us that remains to this day.

It was the first truly bad thing that had ever happened to me, and really at 25 I was probably overdue, but felt lucky up to that point. My Mom called me in Seattle, where I had just gotten home from an aerobics class, still sitting around in my early 1990s spandex, wondering what to do with the rest of that beautiful Sunday afternoon.

"I need you to be strong, Honey," Mom said. "But it looks like your Dad has had a heart attack. He's gone, Sweetheart."

It was the first time -- but not the last -- that I would realize that no matter how good you are, or think you are: bad things happen to all of us.

I dreamed about Dad last night. It was in the midst of being on the farm where I grew up, and I was sneaking outside to find my brother who smokes and see if I could bum a cigarette off of him for no particular reason. I was standing in my old back yard, when the bus from Denver that normally takes me to work showed up.

I love space and time warp dreams like that.

But in the midst of that dream stood my Dad -- in the driveway helping my husband and his family with something they had come over for.

His boundless love for us, and his decision to do things differently -- conscientious parenting -- made him a Dad that most kids only dream of.

But despite his loss, and the hole that comes with losing someone so loveable, he continues to live on in my dreams, and for that I am thankful.

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