Tuesday, October 28, 2008

'Tis the season!

Deck the Halls!

With boughs of....pumpkins? ghosts? tombstones?!

Yup! These houses might look decked out for Christmas, but it's Halloween decor! I was amazed by this last year, and am amazed again this year. Folks here actually decorate their homes and yards with the same zeal for Halloween as they have for Christmas!

See, you gotta understand that I come from West Texas. The "buckle" of the Bible Belt. Lubbock, Texas, to be exact. This is the town whose over-zealous churches pooled their resources to take out a full-page ad in the newspaper, proclaiming....


No, I swear. Really, they did. Yup, they actually outlined why a fictional character was being banished to the Netherworld.

And when I did the calendar for my kids' elementary school, I was forbidden to embellish October with ghosts, witches, skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, "boo!", candy corn, or anything even hinting at Halloween.

When trick-or-treating, the kids there can expect to get at least one person who drops a pamphlet into their candy sack, about the evils of Halloween. That's a popular house, lemme tell ya....

So, to see these brightly decorated homes just bowls me over. Gotta love this town.

I just wish my sucky phone took better pics for you....

Friday, October 24, 2008

One of those weeks....

Yes, it has been one of those weeks. It's been over a week since I've posted, so I thought I'd just jot a little update here, dear Diary.

It started last Sunday night. Daughter complained of pain behind her shoulder when she was going to bed. "It could be her stomach," my mother said. "I've hear that stomach problems can refer to pain to the shoulder."

My mom really should have gone to medical school. She would have loved it. She used to drive doctors crazy with us kids because she'd already researched what the problem could be before setting foot in the office. I've seen more than one doctor try to melt into the floor when he didn't make his escape in time.

So, Monday morning, Daughter comes to my room at time-to-get-ready-for-school time. "Mommy," (yeah, she still calls me "Mommy" and I love it!), "my shoulder still hurts and my stomach hurts, too." I told her to try showering and see how she feels. The hot water might do the shoulder some good.

After her shower, she got dressed and felt a wee bit better. I told her I'd rub in her shoulder to get more relief. As I started rubbing with the balm, she leaned against the counter and said, "I need to sit down." When she turned, I became alarmed. The color had drained from her face. Her lips were ashen.

She sat. I made the executive decision that she'd stay home from school. Slowly, the color returned to her face. I retrieved fresh pajamas and was helping her into them when it happened.

Hey, Jen - the Queen of Poo -- I'm now Blogget - the Queen of Barf.

I cleaned her up and tucked her into my bed, near the bathroom. I called school and work to let them know we wouldn't be showing our faces that day. When Daughter was finally asleep, I left to go to the bank and go to the grocery store for the good ginger ale.

And here's a Blogget Household Tip: for the treatment of nausea, I recommend Reed's Extra Ginger Brew. Sipping on this stuff really helps settle upset tummies!

So, I do my quick running and while I'm in the car, my cell goes off. It's Son.

"My stomach hurts."

Oh good God, no.

I chat with the nurse and head to his school. Poor fella looks terrible. We get about a block from his school, and I'm crowned Queen again.

A big apology to anyone using the Art Center parking lot in Grand Junction that day. He really couldn't make it any further.

For those of you out there who don't have kids, aren't you glad about now?

And that, my friends, was my Monday. And Tuesday. They went back to school on Wednesday.

My Thursday and Friday were booked with teaching workshops at my college. I do this once a term, teaching those who teach how to teach online. It's on the whole a completely frustrating experience, and have been told by observers that I display to patience of a saint. I'm not so sure about that, since they don't hear the rants I go on once I get ahold of a listening ear.

But my experience had a new nuance this time. I woke up Thursday with serious nausea.

Oh yay.

I had no choice. I had to teach. No way around it. I had to take the dreaded Phenergan. This is the stuff that Old BF refers to as "the trade your head for your ass" medicine. It's the stuff that knocked SC for a loop, the first weekend that I met him. So, I took just half of one so I could retain half of my head and half of my ass, in their proper places.

No food or drink in the classroom? Screw that. I packed ginger ale.

I arrived at work at 7:30 AM. It was freezing outside. Literally. 32 degrees. I gathered my things from the car, to start my across-campus walk to my office. I overestimated my ability to balance and....dumped my ginger ale all over myself.

Damn. That was a cold, cold walk.

I had a three-hour break between sessions, so I retreated to Ranger's house. He had the place ready for me. He tucked me into bed, with a mattress warmer to make the covers cozy. He had ginger ale, Jell-o, and chicken soup waiting. I ate a small amount, sipped on the ginger ale, and went to sleep. As I slept, he cuddled up against my back and watched over me, gently waking me when it was time for me to return to reality. I opened my eyes to look into his blue eyes, tinged with worry for me and sorry for having to wake me.

I survived the rest of the day and made it home to crash for the evening. And got up to do it all again on Friday. Rinse and repeat.

My head and ass are slowing getting back to normal. Hopefully, dear Diary, I'll get back to blogging normal, too!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I don't usually post these, but this one is surprisingly accurate!

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Marilyn!


You are a Marilyn -- "I am affectionate and skeptical."

Marilyns are responsible, trustworthy, and value loyalty to family, friends, groups, and causes. Their personalities range broadly from reserved and timid to outspoken and confrontative.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Be direct and clear

  • * Listen to me carefully

  • * Don't judge me for my anxiety

  • * Work things through with me

  • * Reassure me that everything is OK between us

  • * Laugh and make jokes with me

  • * Gently push me toward new experiences

  • * Try not to overreact to my overreacting.

What I Like About Being a Marilyn

  • * being committed and faithful to family and friends

  • * being responsible and hardworking

  • * being compassionate toward others

  • * having intellect and wit

  • * being a nonconformist

  • * confronting danger bravely

  • * being direct and assertive

What's Hard About Being a Marilyn

  • * the constant push and pull involved in trying to make up my mind

  • * procrastinating because of fear of failure; having little confidence in myself

  • * fearing being abandoned or taken advantage of

  • * exhausting myself by worrying and scanning for danger

  • * wishing I had a rule book at work so I could do everything right

  • * being too critical of myself when I haven't lived up to my expectations

Marilyns as Children Often

  • * are friendly, likable, and dependable, and/or sarcastic, bossy, and stubborn

  • * are anxious and hypervigilant; anticipate danger

  • * form a team of "us against them" with a best friend or parent

  • * look to groups or authorities to protect them and/or question authority and rebel

  • * are neglected or abused, come from unpredictable or alcoholic families, and/or take on the fearfulness of an overly anxious parent

Marilyns as Parents

  • * are often loving, nurturing, and have a strong sense of duty

  • * are sometimes reluctant to give their children independence

  • * worry more than most that their children will get hurt

  • * sometimes have trouble saying no and setting boundaries

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tragedy at a distance

It seems to be coming in waves lately.

Week before last, I learned that a dear friend from high school had just lost her husband. Apparently, he went into the hospital for heart surgery and had such severe complications that he never came home again. In her own words, he was her soulmate. I can only imagine her heartache and grief. I offer to "be there" for her, but from this distance it's difficult. Still, I try and want to do more.

This morning, I get an email from another dear friend, letting me know that another friend's son has died. She sent me his wife's blog and it's just too heart-wrenching to read. He was in Iraq and had to undergo an appendectomy. He collapsed while on the webcam with his wife and little daughter. How agonizing is that? She couldn't see what was happening, but heard people calling for help and someone counting like they do for CPR. Someone tells her he's not okay, and twelve hours later, two men in uniform are on her doorstep.

Can you even imagine that kind of devastation? I just can't.

His mother is a good friend of mine. His aunt is a good friend, too. My heart is breaking for my friends in Texas, and I'm too far to put my arms around them and let them cry.

In my business, we bridge distance with technology. Sometimes, it's still insufficient, and it's frustrating me.

A little randomness....

I have just a few little things here and there today. I don't want to be at work, so my mind is wandering.

Yesterday, I went to work late. When I left the house to take the kids to school, it was....brrrr....26 degrees outside! Yikes! I took my frozen toes to where I knew they'd get warm -- Ranger's bed. He has a heated mattress pad and an electric blanket. And warm feet.

I got warm feet, too! Unfortunately, this plan might have backfired. Ranger woke up sick this morning. Dangit. I'm taking Airborne like candy today to try to keep it from taking hold in my system.

Walking to work this morning, I saw some pretty leaves and had to share. Autumn has arrived on campus!

Son had his first "formal" school dance over the weekend, for homecoming. Drama Queen had a lovely royal blue dress, so we got a matching blue shirt, new dress pants, and a perfectly matched tie (which I am still patting myself on the back for finding!) for him. He looked so handsome! Even with his Peter-Tork-Monkees-hairdo.

Drama Queen's mom wasn't happy with their choice in dinner spots. They wanted to go to the nice little Indian restaurant we have downtown. The proprietors are now friends of Ranger's and mine, so we knew they'd be treated extra nice. But DQ's mom tried to push it to her own tastes. A noisy, throw-the-peanut-shells-on-the-floor steak place, which is about twice as expensive as the Indian place. And I was footing the bill for dinner, so she didn't mind upping the price. Her idea got vetoed. The kids went where they wanted.

I left them alone for dinner. When I got back to pay the bill and take them to the dance, the proprietor hollered my name when I walked in. "Blogget," he exclaimed. "I told them, 'Go ahead and go! I know Blogget! She come pay me anytime!" He didn't realize I was their ride, but the sentiment was sweet.

He asked, "This is your boy?" I nodded, proud of him. He was being a good gentleman that night. He told me to say hello to Ranger, and we were off.

They stayed at the dance a couple of hours, then wanted to come back to our house. Why? Because I'd gotten a special treat for that evening. A chocolate fountain. We all sat around, dipping fruit and cookies into the luscious flow of rich chocolate, and laughing a lot. It was a lovely evening. Both of them thanked me profusely for helping make it so. That was nice to hear!

Of course, then, last night, DQ is in tears over how much attention Son pays to his new laptop instead of her. So goes the rollercoaster that is adolescence.

I saw a video out of Lubbock, Texas, yesterday. This is my former hometown, where many friends (and Greg) still are. Here it is, and it's just too sweet. Funny to me that it made the national news, though!

Click here for the Weatherman Proposal Video

That's about all I have this morning, dear Diary. We'll see what the week brings!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

You gotta love an air show

I mean, really. You just gotta. It's flight and might and history and power, and what's cooler than that?

(By the way, this post was to have some GORGEOUS pics in it, but they're trapped in my $1500 computer-paperweight at the moment. Ranger is a brilliant photographer. Maybe I can update with them later.)

My house sits on a big hill, overlooking the area where the airport runway is. When I take flights from there, I can see the back of my house from the runway. So, when we heard the airport would host a big air show, we were overjoyed. When we heard it was $20 a ticket for one day (it was three days long), we were overjoyed that we could just use our lawn chairs.

And so we did. It started on a Friday night. The same Friday that Ranger and I argued. When the dust settled, he asked if I wanted to go watch the fireworks at the air show. I asked if he wanted to watch them from my backyard. It was a date.

Ranger arrived with his camera. I've mentioned before what a shutterbug he is. We watched a World War II bomber circling overhead. My ex is a WWII plane buff, so I learned a few things like what a B-17, a B-25, and a B-29 look like. This was a B-25. Mitchell. I'm proud of myself for knowing that, actually.

We all ate dinner outside. Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Yum! As the sun started setting, we settled into our lawn chairs, with pieces of Black Forest Cake, and waited. We saw the planes going up, but we lost them in the darkness.

Suddenly, streaks of light blossomed across the blackness of the sky. Planes left brilliant trails of color and fire, dropping traditional fireworks along the way. Different type of planes, different sizes and different speeds. Astounding! This went on for an hour or so. Ranger took some beautiful pics, leaving the shutter open to get a different effect. They look like dragons over our mountains.

Throughout the evening, he constantly touched me in reassuring ways, saying "I love you very much," in every small moment. He uttered promises constantly, knowing I was unsettled by the day. "I promise, I'm never leaving you again," he said. "I know better now. You've shown me a better way."

See, here's the thing. It's what's made that day pivotal to us. Ranger learned how I argue, and it's very different from anything he's ever experienced before. As a result, he's amazed by how it changed us, and he's amazed by me.

In his past, arguing meant being belittled and reminded of his mistakes, being made to feel stupid and unworthy of forgiveness and love. It meant being stomped into the ground until he submitted to the will of another. Submit or be punished. And anything you said or did was a weapon to be used against you another day. He's learned to duck and cover, to run away until the storm blows over.

With me, the storm gets worse the longer it's let to brew. By worse, I mean I start feeling abandoned, and that hurts me and pisses me off. Insult to injury, and the hole gets deeper.

But when I argue, even though I might be angry and/or scared, I still have the ultimate goal in mind -- how is this best resolved? How can this be salvaged? What do we learn from it? How do we change and grow, together. I want us both to arrive at the same place, where our anger is soothed and we feel we're moving forward from what we've been through.

"I'm so not used to that," Ranger told me. "But I understand it now. And it makes me love you so much more. And I'll never scare you like that again. I promise you, on all I hold holy."

In all this, I see how he's been hurt. I see his fears and his vulnerabilities. I see how he needs to be stronger. But he also sees my hurt, my fears, and how he can make them better or worse. The realization that he really does have something new and different here, with me, and that he almost threw it all away is a big "wake up call" for him.

We had begun to take each other for granted. We would go several days without seeing each other. Now, we seem determined to make sure the other one feels special in each day. We seem to have crossed a threshold, and made it to a new level of understanding each other.

Saturday morning, I woke early and lay in bed, thinking about what was happening with my relationship with Ranger. We were still treating each other tenderly, as though the wrong word or touch might break the other one. I looked forward to spending some time with him that day, watching more of the air show. The Blue Angels were going to fly that day.

This is a busy town, I have to say. In addition to the air show, we also had a car show of some 200 cars in the downtown area. Drama Queen was determined to get Son to the Fruita Fall Festival, in nearby Fruita, CO. She and Son officially met at this event the previous year, but truth be told, Son would rather watch football on TV.

And we had Ranger's #1 priority for the day: The Greek Festival. The Greek Orthodox Church was holding their annual festival, with a whole menu of Greek food. Ranger has a special love affair with Greek food, but we don't have a Greek restaurant here. So, today, we'd get our fill of baklava and gyros.

My phone rang. "Good morning," said Ranger's sleepy voice. "What are you doing?"

"Laying in bed, being lazy," I said. We talked sweet nothings about wanting to be curled up together in my soft, warm bed, watching the Food Network or the Travel Channel (our favorites), and planning our day together. Two hours later, we were still doing the same thing. And I loved every minute of it. I love these kinds of domestic fantasies....especially with someone who loves the same fantasies and really wants me in them. The only thing I'd love better is to be in the same bed, having a cozy start to our day together.

"Sweetie?" he said, drawing my attention from the show we were watching.


"I need you to know," he said. "I'll never hide anything from you again. I'll never run from you again. I'm so sorry I did that. I know better now. I should have known then that you're different, and you wouldn't have judged me like that. I understand better. And you've shown me that we can stand and fight together."

"You really scared me," I said. Truth be told, I was still scared.

"I know," he said. "And I'm really sorry. I promise to never scare you like that again."

I could hear my family stirring. The smell of breakfast cooking. I reluctantly hung up the phone and got myself ready for the day. Ranger was doing the same thing, on his side of town, and getting ready to come to my front-row-seat backyard.

With such a busy weekend, this town still hasn't managed to get information out very well. We couldn't find a schedule for the air show anywhere. To go in person would cost $20 per person. Can you believe that? I mean, there's seven of us, including Ranger and Drama Queen. So, $140 to go walk around the airplanes and watch what's in the sky. And that's for just one day, and not the whole 3-day show. Ugh.

So, we pulled up our chairs on the backyard hill and waited. We watched a bi-plane, a wing-walker, various military jets, and the WWII planes. There was a P-51 Mustang flying side-by-side with modern fighter jets. Too, too cool. And they'd all fly right over my house! The kids ran all over the hill, trying to see where they were coming from and where they went.

Then, we had a break. Looked like everyone landed for lunch. So, Ranger and I took off for the Greek Festival. We stopped at the ATM to have cash enough to get one of everything. We were prepared to bring back a veritable feast of Greek yummies, and wait for the rest of the air show.

We got to the festival site and parked, walking up the street hand-in-hand. We met the owners of the mailing centers where he works. They asked how his son was doing.

"So, you didn't have to leave town?" they asked. I was puzzled. Then it dawned on me. I was hearing the story he told to cover his sudden departure the day before.

"No," Ranger said. "He's all right. He has a broken leg, but he'll be okay. They decided I didn't need to be there. And they decided the other driver was at fault."

He turned to me. "I forgot to tell you. My son was in a car accident." I reacted appropriately. As we walked away, I asked about the story. "Actually, it's true that he was in an accident," he said, and told me the details. "He didn't break his leg, though. He's all right. They just needed to see it as an urgent situation."

I understood, but I felt bad. In all the stress Ranger and I went through the day before, he was also dealing with a crisis with his son. I wish I'd known at the time, but I suppose he didn't have a chance to tell me that, amid all my panic.

Then, we entered the festival. The smells from the "food court" were amazing! We filled our plates with one of everything available. Sometimes, two of what was available. It was amazing!

And I was a little daring, too. Ranger showed up with a small cup of a clear beverage. I could tell from his grin that it was not water. It was ouzo. I've never had ouzo, but I like licorice, so he thought I might like it, too.

I knocked it back in one swallow. The burn was tremendous. My stomach toyed with the idea of rejecting it....but then my tongue went numb. I think my stomach followed suit. Ranger just laughed at me and handed me a breath mint.

At home, we divided our haul onto two plates and returned to the backyard. Just in time.

The Blue Angels roared overhead. Ranger abandoned his plate for his camera. I'll really have to post pics here because they were so close. Sometimes, we could see the pilots as the planes went by. The roar as they approached our hill was indescribable. I felt the power through my blood, in my bones. I threw my head back and closed my eyes, letting it all course through me. I opened my eyes to find Ranger watching me. "I love you," he mouthed, in the din.

Ranger took pictures of the planes, the formations, the pilots, the kids, my folks, and me. Hundreds of pics. I really need to rescue them from my stupid laptop and post some here.

Eventually, we returned to our mini-feast. Ranger was stuffed and satisfied. It was a glorious day, and I was sad to see it end.

The following day, Son and I were driving up to Aspen to attend a College Fair. Drama Queen wanted to go, too, but Son refused to invite her. He wanted the time to be between us, mother and son. I was touched! Things have been so different since his oral surgery.

I woke up that Sunday morning in the middle of a dream. I don't know what it was about, just that Ranger and I were together somewhere, as it faded away and the morning light invaded. My room was chilly. The window was open and a breeze was blowing the trees. It was a good dream, and I was enjoying the residual emotions of it...when suddenly....

WHAM! It felt like my heart was seized in a powerful grip of panic. I was flashing back to that Friday. The argument. Trying to find Ranger. Afraid of what he might do. The heartache. The panic. The fear. I started hyperventilating, and sat up in the chilled air to catch my breath.

I've never had a panic attack before. I've never had an emotional flashback like that before. I don't like it. I went to the shower and cried. This is where I go when I don't want anyone to know I'm crying. And the odd thing is that I wasn't really sure why I was crying, just that I really felt like I needed to. I don't like crying, either.

I got ready for the little trip Son and I were taking that day. It's about a 3-hour drive. He was getting ready while I went to get gas in the car, and snacks and drinks for the trip. I called Ranger and asked him to meet me at the store. He left a package of baklava at my house, and God knows it wouldn't last the day if left with my family!

I was looking at the display of cold beverages when I felt his breath on my neck. I smiled. He wrapped his arms around me from behind and kissed my neck. We chatted as I tried to find the snacks my son wanted. The panic attack sat in the back of my head, though. My eyes felt puffy still. I was worried about it. And Ranger could tell.

"Babe, what's the matter?" he asked. "You seem distracted. Something's wrong."

I sighed, and I told him about my dream. Then about waking. Then....

"And then all I felt was how scared I was the other day," I said. The tears were welling up. "And how I thought I was never going to see you again. And how you were leaving and not fighting for me. And...."

"Baby, baby....no," he was saying, hushing at me. He cradled my face in his hand and wiped my tears with the other. "No, no....don't be scared. I'll never, ever do that to you again."

"But I don't want you to think I'm just rehashing and making you 'pay' for it again," I said. I knew this had been a problem and I didn't want that perception. I couldn't explain what happened that morning, but I know he'd rather know about it than not.

"I don't think that," he said. "I know I scared you and that you need to know it won't happen again. It won't. I'll make sure. I know you're different than anyone I've known." He paused. "The weird thing is that I think we're closer now. I've never had that happened before. Argue and get stronger. I didn't know it could work this way."

"You need to know," I said, leveling my stare at his eyes. "Thinking I'm better off without you is never the best option."

He nodded. "I know that now. I'm never leaving you again. I swear. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, and that's worth fighting for."

And for a few moments, he held me, kissed my head, and quieted my fears.

Right there, between the cereal aisle and the meat department.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Technical difficulties....

....please stand by!

My computer has crashed at home, so I'm not able to blog as freely at the moment. However, Ranger is trying to heal it, so everyone keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I'll cheat and try to get some blogging in at work. LOL