Friday, April 30, 2010

The Perfect Coffee Mug

This isn't it. But it's close. Every time we would visit IHOP I would appreciate the thickness of the mug, it's smaller size tucked into my hand just right to warm it. The thicker the mug, the better. The old diner mugs were perfect. They were made by the Victor company, which originally made insulators for power lines. They manufactured their first mugs for the military during WWII. They were prized by the navy, especially, because their weight kept them from toppling over in the high seas. If you see any of these old beauties at a garage sale with "Victor" imprinted on the bottom, snap them up. They were driven out of business by the cheap knockoffs and no diner mug nowadays has the heft and warmth of the Victor. So we make do.

IHOP's mug came closest to it. It's small and about as thick as you can find these days. I don't like gigantic mugs. I sip on my coffee too slowly to need a gallon at a time. And if I can tuck it into my hand, I can hold against my chest and under my nose easily. Coffee is one of those scents I can still just get a whiff of. Ever since I lost my sense of smell two years ago, coffee, piñon, and garlic are my friends. (I can smoke the rest of house out with piñon incense just to trick myself into believing I can smell.)

So I finally asked our IHOP one morning, could I possibly buy my coffee mug?

She looked at me strangely and said, "Just take it."

"No, no," I protested, "I don't want to steal it. But I would love to have one."

"I'll go ask the manager," she said and tottered off into the back.

Later in the meal she came back. "The manager says, just take it."

My in-laws were up for a visit with us that morning. So Nell decides she needs to try to get me a set. At each IHOP they visited over the next year, she asked. And guess what, every time, they sold her one, never gave it to her. Sorry Mom!

Now I have four: my one gifted and three she bought for me. Every one who sees them asks if I stole them. So the answer is no, really, I didn't. Honest. :)

Angels, in the early morning May be seen the Dews among

I just know Emily Dickinson was a morning person. For all her darkness, she delighted in the same morning sun as I do.

So here's another morning blog, because the beautiful days just keep on coming.

The last couple of days it's been Sammi weather: overcast, storm clouds, a smattering of rain. I'm going to lose her to Oregon or Washington, I just know it.

We even had some sleet/snow mix yesterday afternoon. Didn't stop the playing, though...

So it was a delight to wake up this morning a see the clear skies again. With Ihop cup in hand (note to self: next blog to explain how I did not steal it), we did our pretty mornings ritual in the backyard. Ever wonder how I get such rapt attention pictures of the pups like this one?

All you have to do is hold the ball over your head:

(thanks Sammi)

Our walk along a different route including some more spring delights.

These are cousins of the bluebonnet -- smaller and mostly purple, but they still remind me of home.

My maple tree is bursting into green!

The orchid is going on four blooms now, too.

The Sun — just touched the Morning –
The Morning — Happy thing –
Supposed that He had come to dwell –
And Life would all be Spring!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Last week while Bob was out of town I was

A. sick
B. lazy
C. working a 60 hour week for vacation coverage
D. all of the above.

Correct answer: D.

So this morning I geared up, dropped Sammi off at school, and got my recovering booty over to the gym only to discover that it is closed this entire week, which I might have known if I'd darkened the door once last week to read the sign posted.

Serendipitously, however, all last week the weather went from bright sunshine on Monday to rain and snow the rest of the week, while this week we have the return of the bright gorgeous Colorado sunshine and blue, blue skies. I wish my eyes were that color blue. It takes my breath away.

I leash up the pups, grab the keys, and head out for a long walk. I can't stick to the track for an hour, but an hour out in the cool breeze is easy. We're about 20 yards from the house when I realize I don't have my poop-scoop supplies clipped onto the leash, so we return, unlock the house, get clipped up, and head back out.

It isn't until we're almost to the off-leash dog park that I notice the clip is gone. Luckily, neither pup has needed a sanitation call, but I decide instead of making the loop, we'll retrace our steps after they play to see if we can figure out where it fell.

There are 4-5 other dogs there to play chase and a million balls to fetch and a nice loop for me to walk so we take out time. Katy will run herself into the ground playing fetch, though, and at 9, she doesn't listen to her aging hips well enough. So after a bit I sit down and she joins me while Evan plays a little longer. Here's the view:

You can see Evan off in the distance socializing. The high school is the large building on the right, our little neighborhood with the red roofs is on the left. And check out that blue sky :)

So we head back down the trail looking for our lost supplies...

Along the way, I snap the amazing signs of spring all around us:

Keep an eye on this fella. Very soon there will be a million dazzlingly fierce yellow flowers that will turn into leaves in the space of a few weeks. Nature's first green is gold...

While the Aspen are best known for their Autumn hues, I love them just as much when the delicate fluttering green leaves first erupt. They tremble with beauty. The big fat spruce alongside is bursting with cones up top.

Okay, so with all this looking up, you think, did you manage to find the dropped supplies?

Yep. At exactly the 20 yard point from the house at the same spot where we turned around to go back and get said supplies, there they were, waiting for our return. It was at this moment, in sight of the door, that I reach down to pick them up and shove a hand in my pocket to get my keys.

Which aren't there.

Screw the poop supplies. Where the ___ are my keys??!? Visions of walking back and forth looking for them now pop into my head. The 90 minutes of walking has been nice, don't get me wrong, but I did want to relax at the computer before hitting the shower and then starting the work day.

Deciding it is possible I left them in the house (locking the door from the inside) we get into the backyard, thank God again for the hideakey, and discover them, sure enough, sitting on the counter. Whew. Another delightful Tuesday after all.

P.S. It's Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and the trash guys still aren't here. ;)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I bolted awake this morning to the sound of a garbage truck rumbling close by.

It's trash day, I'm still asleep, no one had to get up for school, Bob's out of town, and, no, I didn't remember it was trash day until this exact minute.

More maddening, the house sits on a curve, so acoustically, that nearby sound could be a block over.

And here in Colorado, all trash services are privatized. There are multiple trash services that consumers are free to choose, so there are multiple trucks rumbling around, all of which sound the same.

So I jump out of bed, open the blinds and reflect that they are quite aptly named, with the sun streaming in, making it impossible to see anything. Who am I kidding? I can't see anything anyway when I jump out of bed thanks to these -3.0 eyes. I am in my cami and ridiculous snoopy pajama pants, groping for glasses, with bed-head you would not believe trying to make a groggy decision of whether or not to run into the street blind and looking like this, lugging the garbage can, in hopes I haven't been passed by.

Choosing the middle road, I dash into some street clothes, find the glasses, and run a brush through the hair (which results in leaving the worst of the bed head now standing straight up, all alone, on the front of my head, but so be it.

We can't get the garbage can out of the garage with both our vehicles parked inside, so this hasty maneuvering also requires me to find Bob's spare key (Nick is parked behind me) to get the Jeep out of the way before trucking the can to the curb, which is now blocked by the neighbor's Suburban they've decided is best parked directly in front of my house.

I scan the street and realize no one else has the WM green can so I still don't know if this was all for naught. (Vendors are distinguished by the color of their cans... snort.) Deciding it's worth the shot, I pull the Jeep out, run the can through the yard to get to an open spot on the curb and leave it to the Trash Fates.

Not five minutes later, after letting the now insane dogs outside, as I don't normally go into hysterical movement when first getting out of bed, the trash can is empty.

It's going to be a good day. :)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mr. Miyagi

When I started going to the gym I was well over 200 pounds and embarrassed to be there. Here are all these hard-bodied people and, God bless 'em, they are trying not to notice the Pillsbury Dough girl in their midst. Or maybe my presence spurred them on in the vein of "but for the grace of God, there go I." Mostly they were probably just thinking, yeah, she won't last.

Two and a half years after my first courageous foray into the weight room, I am pretty much a regular. I see the same folks at the same time on the same days. But this past week I've been changing up my schedule and hitting the gym after I take Sammi to school instead of the 5:00 opening. It turns out it is just as empty at 7:30. (Avoid 6:00 a.m. at all costs though.)

And last week was a homecoming of sorts, because the 70 year old, 5'2 Afghani gentleman, deeply and naturally tanned with distinguished lines all through his face, and his carefully groomed white beard and head full of white hair, whom I only know as Mr. Miyagi, was finishing up his workout as I was beginning mine.

I was introduced to him way back when I started by Marsha who was showing me the ropes but I can never remember his name. I know at some point I am going to slip up and call him Miyagi aloud, but the reference will be lost on him.

Mr. Miyagi would always greet me in those early days in his broken English and offer advice on which machines I should use, or how long I should run, and I would politely smile and listen and then keep on doing what I knew I could do. He liked me and would call me "teacher." I brought him information on conversational English class offering at ACC after he asked about them. It was one of those acquaintanceships you somehow slip into without realizing its happening.

After I started working 7-4 and going to the gym at 5:00 there was no more Mr. Miyagi. And I've been doing that for a good while, quite a few pounds ago.

So when I walked back in at 7:30 that morning last week he was on the leg-press machine and did a double take before recognizing me with a big grin. I have a feeling he feels a little like Mr. Miyagi, too.

He told me today, with his hands about 8 inches apart -- "you skinny!" I just smiled and said, "I'm getting there." And in his Mr. Miyagi way he responded, "Just don't quit."

Thank you Mr. Miyagi. I needed to hear that. Wax on.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

SU 1300

Some time yesterday evening, without paying attention, I favorited my 1300th link via my StumbleUpon account. It was a site of collected poems about classic fairy tales.

Of the 1300, my top ten categories turn out to be:

386 Photography
160 Humor
88 Poetry
48 Arts
44 Astronomy
39 Classical Studies
29 Linguistics
29 Philosophy
27 Nature
27 New York

So, as a stumbler, that's me by the numbers, at least for today.

I try not to completely flood Facebook with my stumbles, although it's tempting, but every now and then I want to see a group of my favorited photographs as the schizophrenic collection that they are. Herewith, some of the last 20 photographs added:

All of the above can be found at their sources via
Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's Saturday (and Sunday might not come)

I have a habit of waking in the middle of the night and not going back to sleep for at least an hour. I've learned not to get up, to just lie there and let the thoughts wash over me, to meditate on them, not to look at the clock. Eventually sleeps come for me again, and over the years, I have begun to cherish that time.

This morning was no different, except that as I lay there, I realized my arm was aching. The area from the wrist to the break flares up occasionally, and probably will more often as I age, especially here in this colder climate. Today, the pain was radiating out from closest to the wrist and I was massaging it when it occurred to me this spot would most likely be where the nails would be driven in at crucifixion. When I was younger I had a enough fascination to read extensively about Roman crucifixion -- maximize the pain, slow the death, that was the goal. To really keep your prey hanging long enough that they will have hours of pain and agony, you can't drive a spike through the center of the hand: all that writhing could eventually tear their hand off. So you drive it down into the base of the hand, between the bones right above the wrist to keep them sufficiently pinned.

Squirming a little yet? No, this isn't going to be one of those horror blogs on the details of crucifixion. You want to know, go look it up.

But I'm massaging my wrist and thinking about the Crucifixion and I being to imagine what that Sabbath must have been like for the people who loved Jesus, who believed in Him, only to watch Him die the most agonizing of deaths.

As John, at sunrise I would be observing this Sabbath holed up in a dark, locked room, terrified and grief-stricken over the loss of my best friend and the man I believed was going to be my, and my people's, Savior. How could He not be? I have seen so many miraculous things with this man. They were real. They had to be.

But as the hours tick past now, the doubt creeps in, whispering to me in the dark: it was all for nothing.

The last sleep I've had was at a time when Jesus asked me to keep watch. Since then, I have witnessed his slow, torturous, agonizing death, over many hours, blood flowing, screams of pain, flesh torn away, gasping His last. How could he charge me with taking care of Mary when, odds are, the authorities will come for me next? There is no hope left.

We, and even John, when he finally wrote his account, had the benefit of seeing the bigger picture, of knowing that Sunday did come.

It's easy to forget how dark the pit can be in the light of day. On a weekend of remembrance, let's not skip over Saturday. It will make Sunday's dawn that much sweeter.