Friday, September 25, 2009

I think I saw....

...a ghost.

She seemed real. I was walking down the hall, to the bathroom. She came from the stairs and stepped in front of me. She looked over her shoulder at me, then kept walking ahead of me. I noticed a tattoo of Marilyn Monroe's face on her shoulder.

Coincidentally, this happened on the anniversary of Marilyn's death. (Yeah, so I know that date.... She's one of my morbid fascinations.)

Anyhow, we're both headed to the bathroom. Yeah, really...the toilet. That bathroom has two little stalls. She goes to the furthest one, and I go to the close one. From my stall, I can see the feet of anyone leaving the restroom or washing their hands, before they get to the door.

A moment later, the bathroom door opens again. I think, that lady will have to wait because both stalls are full. But no....the newcomer walks past my stall and enters the other one. She uses it. Flushes. Leaves.


That girl never left. She never used the potty, even. I saw her enter the stall. I heard her latch the door. Literally, a moment later, the other woman entered.

I repeat....WTF??

Go figure. We have a potty ghost.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Things aren't always what they appear

Son passed his driver's test yesterday! I can't tell you how many people have responded with, "Stay off the sidewalks!" Ha. Ha...

He had an appointment yesterday afternoon, so we took his car. He's pretty puffed-up, considering he didn't get marked off for anything on his test. He just exhuded an I'm-the-best-driver-ever attitude.

So, we're cruising along the road, and this guy in a pickup pulls up beside Son. We look over, and he's doing this thumbs-up motion at Son.

"Look!" my confident kiddo says. "He likes my car!" Goofy grin in place, he returns the thumbs-up sign and says, "Thank you!" He looks like a proud daddy.

He pulls ahead, but the guy comes alongside again. This time, he's rolling his window down.

"Up top!" he says, motioning again. "Your iPod is on top of the car!"

Son's grin falls, and he reaches to the top. He drops his iPod on the console. I'm starting to laugh, when the guy pulls up again.

"Your phone!"

Son reaches up again and retrieves his precious cell phone.

Good thing for soft Landau tops, or I'm sure the things would have flown off miles ago.

I wave a huge "Thank you!" to the man and he pulls away.

Son is slightly humbled.

I laughed all the way home. "Thumbs-up" indeed!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sometimes I have conversations....

....that I can't believe happened.

One of the college's education courses has an online component in which students participate in online discussions. It's a message board, and the students are graded on their participation.

Three instructors co-teach this course. Each has her own discussion topic in the online course. One of those instructors is my friend and co-presenter from last year's fall conference, Cathy.

I got a frantic message from Cathy:

"Big, big, BIG problem. That new teacher, Lonnie, just deleted some of our discussions. I don't know how, but she did. Please tell me you can restore it from somewhere. Please?"

Well, no good news there. I can't restore it.

Next, I got a call from Lonnie. She told me what she'd done, then said:

"Can't you just restore it from a backup?"

"No," I said. "We do regularly scheduled maintenance, which includes backups, throughout the year, usually at the end of a term. If an instructor wants a backup done at a different time, they have the capability of doing it themselves."

"Well, that's weird," she said. "I don't know why you all can't just keep continual backups of my course yourself."

"The drain on our manpower and servers would be incredible," I said. "That's why instructors can choose to do periodic backups themselves."

"I don't know how to do that," she said. "And no one has told the others how, either."

"Yes, I have. It's in the training workshops they took." I reminded her that we're offering said workshops in a couple of weeks.

"Then I guess I need to take a workshop. You never trained me properly when I started. Cathy showed me what to do, but I shouldn't have been allowed to touch this until I'd had a workshop."

I smiled. "True. If I had my way, no one would use the system until they'd taken the workshops. But too many of your colleagues take exception to being told they HAVE to do something, so it hasn't happened."

"Then you should have had one when I started." Which was about two weeks ago. Yes, ma'am, I should hold four-hour workshops each time a new faculty comes to work at the college. Just for them. I'd never get anything else done.

And I said so. She had me repeat the dates of the workshops to her, and she picked two.

"You know," she said. "I should call the publisher and see if they can do anything about this."

"The publisher?"

"Yeah. The people we bought this WebCT thing from. I'll just call Novell."

WTF?! I tried my best to explain who Novell is and what they do. I ended with, "They have nothing to do with WebCT."

"Then who did we get it from?"


"Then I'll call them."

"That won't help. Like you said, we bought this from them. It's ours. We maintain it on our own servers. The company of WebCT has nothing to do with what's on our campus."

"Oh," she said. "Still, I don't know how this happened. I was just trying to delete my own stuff."

"Well, it sounds like you just accidentally hit the wrong checkbox. That's all."

"I just can't imagine myself doing something like that." Of course not.

"How about this," I said. "Just don't click anything that says "Delete," anymore. OK?"

So, in the end, it was still everyone's fault but her own.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I'm looking forward to having her in my workshop class. Oh joy! Can't wait for that day!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Summer of Insanity

Well, technically, it's not still summer. The weather is cooling down. We're just starting to see fall color in the leaves. Kids are back in school. But for me, it's an Indian summer of insanity.

Since going to the after-hours place, I've learned a couple of things. First, that asswipe doctor didn't believe me that this is the first time I've had an outbreak like this. He put me on the dose of Valtrex that's for recurrences. It's half the dose, for a shorter time, than I should have had. How's that for judgment?

They didn't even tell my regular doctor I'd been there. They are two doors down from her office and didn't send the note that they are apparently supposed to send, to update my records with her. See, in the Grand Valley, the medical community has this great policy of sharing. The hospital here can pull up my x-rays from Montrose, in a moment. But when someone isn't sharing nicely, the system breaks down.

So, I finish that course of Veltrex and am hurting like all hell still. I call my regular doctor. Imagine her surprise to hear I'd been at her neighbors, and she had no idea. She checks it out and calls me back. I get on the right dose of Valtrex, well after the time I should have had it. She's still scrambling to get the lab results from what they ran.

Friday night, about 8:30, I get a call from the after hours place. It's a different doctor, a woman I've seen before. She asks how I'm doing and if I'd gotten all the lab results.

"I think so," I said. I explained about the Valtrex dose.

"What about the urinary infection?" she asked.

"He said it was just a trace," I said. I had a sudden feeling that Dr. Asswipe was about to strike again.

"Oh, no," she said. "We got the culture back from the lab, and it's a severe infection. Have you had fever?"


"Lower back pain? Painful urinating?"

"Yes. And yes," I said. "Plus, I have a really sensitive urinary system." And I explained the whole three-kidney thing.

"Oh, dear. Have you had trouble with infections before?"

"All my life. They even hospitalized me for it when I was a kid."

"Oh, honey," she said. "Can you go pick up a prescription right now?"

Well, no. My pharmacy was already closed.

"All right," she said. "But you go first thing in the morning." Her tone was very "you poor dear." She kept calling me "honey." On some level, I really appreciated that.

Now, I'll finish the Valtrex and the new antibiotic today. I'm nauseous all the time from this, and I'm still having serious pain. Yuck. Please remember, I don't have a low pain threshhold. I haven't had a day without pain since I was 15 years old, when I came down with Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis. It went into remission four years later, but those were some excruciating years. I'm accustomed to pain.

And poor Ranger has had the stomach flu for three days. It's just as well, because he has to come and go through a dirt road. We've had three days of rain. He's not going anywhere, anyhow.

The only thing pleasant has been the weather. I love rain. I adore thunderstorms. We had a nice one Sunday night. Right now, it's 57 degrees outside and cloudy. I can't get enough of that! Bring on autumn. Please!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A milestone for Son

Son turned eighteen on Saturday. I still can't get over that. In a year, he'll be in college. College?! When did that happen?

I talked to him about this milestone the other day. "I know you are about to be a legal adult," I said. "And you think that means you automatically get a lot of responsibilities and freedoms. But you need to remember something. You are still accountable to me. You still rely on me to make a lot of things possible. There's things you have to take care of for that to continue."

"Yeah, I know," he said. "I can't act like a kid anymore."

"Like, I feel like you are more than ready to keep your room in decent shape."

He grinned sheepishly. "Yeah, I know that. If I expect to drive around town on my own, I should be able to handle that."

Well, knock me over with a feather.

He's doing well lately. This new girlfriend has been good for him. She's low-maintenance. Her parents don't let them go unsupervised. I've had a brief run-in with them at my house. They heard me coming close, and I saw her leap from his lap into another chair. I called him aside.

"Certainly, you don't think I didn't see that," I said.

"Yeah," he said.

"You know what's appropriate and what's not. Don't push it. I won't tolerate what I went through with Drama Queen."

"Okay, I'll handle it."

Later, I came upon them again, making out in my living room. This time, I said something. "When you come in my house and behave like that, I feel disrespected," I said. "Disrespect me again, and you won't like what happens."

They stopped, but she didn't move away from him. I took note. However, nothing else has happened.

Ranger has a $50 gift certificate to a local Mexican food restaurant. It's a use-it-or-lose-it kind of deal, so he wants to take me, Son, and the new girlfriend (I need to come up with a name for her) to dinner for Son's birthday. I think that might help us get to know her better.

Son has had trouble finding anyone to talk to him about a job before he's 18. So, he's been doing little jobs. He's refereeing soccer games on the weekends. It's decent money, for a teenager. He'll train to be a baseball umpire in December. He's really looking forward to that.

He decided to take his car to professionals to get some basic things fixed. He looked at some of the problems himself, but found that someone else had tried to fix the wiring and made a mess of it. So, he shelled out some dough and got the heater and turn signals fixed.

See, it dawned on him the other day that having a working heater isn't a big deal when you have to keep rolling down the windows to do arm signals!

On Saturday, I watched this 6'2" man-child roaming around my house and thought about him so many years ago. Is it possible that so many years have gone by? I remember turning on morning PBS cartoons while he played with his beloved trains. He had a train track playset that would end up meandering all over the living room by the time lunch came around.

We also marveled at how fast his feet grew. I could never say, "Act your age, not your shoe size," because his shoe size was way ahead of his age. He stopped at size 15. His dad had a puppy who liked to make a bed out of the top of Son's feet.

We adopted Son when he was 18 months old. For those who don't know the story, his birth mother is my sister. She was quite young when she had him. She met a man and married him when Son was about a year old. He was horrible and abusive, so the marriage lasted about 5 months. After that, she decided single parenthood wasn't for her. She asked me and my now-ex to adopt him.

Immediately, he ate like there was no tomorrow. Breakfast was waffles, fruit cocktail, cereal or oatmeal, eggs, toast, milk, and juice. And he loved cottage cheese. After breakfast, I'd send him off to his trains while I cleaned the kitchen.

One day, he hollered, "Mommy! Come see what I did!"

He had his Tinker-toys out and had been building away. He proudly showed me his handiwork and demonstrated it for me.

The child had built a catapult.

"Oh, sweetie," I said. "Mommy has to go back to school now, to keep up with you!" He beamed.

I love him so much. At times, he's been my greatest love, and my greatest heartache. I hope life is good to him, and he's good to life. And that he makes the most of what God's given him.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Our quick trip to Denver (but a long blog!)

Just a quick note here, before getting into the Denver thing. It's just unbelievable, so I have to mention it. Five days later, and Greg is still asking me for money. Asking, begging, lying, threatening, insulting...anything he can think of to get me to send some cash. Some of his tactics I don't get, like threatening to not speak to me if I don't send something. He even tried, "I want a day off. Send me something so I don't have to work today." Really, dude? I mean...really? Grow up.

All in all, Denver went well. We had a rocky start, though.

See, I finally got my car back from the collision repair place on Friday. Yay! It was 56 days at the shop....yikes.

Saturday morning, there's a big puddle of transmission fluid under it.

Back to the shop it goes. They couldn't finish it on Monday, so they got me a rental again. A little GMC Canyon pickup truck. Ranger was about beside himself with I pulled up. "Oh my God, you look so sexy driving a truck!" he said as he got in the car and nuzzled my neck.

Off to Denver we went. I hate driving long distances myself, but in a rental, I have no choice. The pickup makes my back feel weird because your feet are out in front of you, rather than in a more chair-like position as in my little SUV. Took some adjusting, but I managed! Every once in awhile, the bottom of my foot would go numb, so we'd stop and walk around until it came back.

We made a rest stop at the top of Vail pass. It's so lovely up there! So breezy and cool. When I left the bathroom, I found Ranger looking at a map on the wall. "Hey, on the way back, want to stop in Central City?"

"I've never been there," I said.

"It's a refurbished mining town," he said. "Wooden boardwalks and all. It's like stepping back in time. You'll love it." And it's true. That sounds like my kind of town.

Usually, I like to stay in an extended stay hotel in Aurora. I like the kitchenette. Sunday night, though, I got looking at that plan again. Ranger's court time was 8:30 on Tuesday morning. How early did I want to get up to drive through morning rush hour to get there?


And my back needed a better mattress than previous trips, so I went hotel deal hunting. I found a discount site running 40% if you booked over the weekend. I looked up the court building on Google maps, then matched the downtown hotels to that. Well, the ones I could afford. The court building location wasn't precise, but I knew I was closer than Aurora!

And then I found the Hotel Monaco. This is what the room looked like:

It's a funky hotel. They describe it as "whimsical." And here's an unusual amenity. Look what you can request to have in your room, during your stay (for free):

Yep. A pet goldfish. You just gotta love that.

We finally made our way into Denver close to 8:00 Monday night. Thank God for GPS routing us through traffic and to the hotel. You have no choice but to valet park your car, but they let us take about 20 minutes to get freshened up and snag the car again for dinner.

I've been dying to try this place in Denver. It's the oldest restaurant in the city, established in 1893. The Buckhorn Exchange. The walls are covered in game trophies and signed photos of famous people who have visited there. Among the appetizers are a rattlesnake dip, alligator tail, and Rocky Mountain Oysters. Guess what I had?

Yep. Bull's balls. Sliced up and fried, dipped in horseradish. Yum!

And beer cheese soup. Oh yum.

Ranger had buffalo prime rib and I had elk medallions. The most amazing flavors you can imagine! We about rolled out of that place.

By the time we made it back to the room, I was about to drop. I decided to shower while Ranger watched some TV. I got undressed, then realized I'd left my toiletry bag on the other side of the room. I had to cross between Ranger and his show.

"Pardon me," I said. "Sorry about that...."

"Wait a minute," he said. He turned off the TV. "Did you just apologize for walking naked in front of me?"

I nodded.

"Let's get something straight here and now," he said. "Never apologize for that! Just make sure you do it more often."

I had to laugh. The shower felt nice, and I climbed into bed sleepy and happy. I made a conscious effort to not think about the morning. I welcomed Ranger's hands sliding across the sheets to me. I let him just take me away in sensations. He was in a pleasing and teasing mood. One of the things I like about him is that he's not at all intimidated by sex toys. He's completely into the playfulness of all things sexual.

Things were going just fine when suddenly he dialed the intensity of the thing way high. I yelped and noticed the bizarre look on his face. He held up the buzzing toy.

"'s stuck."

And sure enough, he's pushing the button on the thing, but it's not helping. It was an absolutely hilarious picture...Ranger trying to calm the thing by madly pushing the button, while the buzzing was going off the charts.

So, he turned it off and abandoned the thing. Fine with me!

But it would not be ignored! As Ranger and I engaged in our delightful maneuvers in the dark, a sound came from the sheets beside us.

Buzz. (pause) Buzz. (pause) Buzz. Buzz.

We had a haunted sex toy.

That was just it. We busted out laughing. And this is another thing I love. The ability to laugh together during sex, and not take ourselves too seriously.

We lounged against each other until way too late, watching "Futurama" and "King of the Hill." We finally drifted off, but morning came way too early.

Time to face the reality of this trip. We were both pretty quiet that morning. We had a good breakfast. Dressed nice for court. I repacked my purse, to make the security entry easier to manage. We headed to the valet to get the car, and get directions to the court building and public parking.

I handed the tag to the valet guy, and told him where we needed to be. When I asked for directions, he blinked at me.

"You're going where?"

I repeated myself.

"Uhm," he said. "It's right there."

I turned to see where he was pointing. Two blocks away.

"Seriously?" I said.

"Yeah," he chuckled.

I got the car tag back from him. "Thanks." Ranger and I were laughing, too, as we started down the sidewalk.

"You didn't know you'd gotten us that close?" he asked me.

"Nope. I knew I was closer, but not that close!"

In the court building, I hung back and let Ranger take care of things. I sat in the courtroom and listened to them reiterate everything. I listened to the possible sentence, the recommended sentence, and finally, the real sentence.

Five years probation. Pay restitution. Don't incur any debt until restitution is paid. No halfway house recommended. Congratulations, you're now a sentenced felon. All rise.

My brain was screaming. My chest felt tight. But I sat quiet. I waited while all the paperwork and red tape traipsed by.

Ranger was visibly relieved when we left. He hugged me tight. "Thank you so much for being with me here," he said. We walked back to the hotel, holding hands. It was 9:30. Checkout time was 12:00. Time for a nap.

As we got undressed and slipped back into bed, the words in my mind were burning a path to my mouth. "I need something from you," I said.

"Anything," he said, as we pulled the sheets over us.

I turned to face him, looking straight into his eyes. "I need a promise," I said. I felt my throat constricting, forcing my voice to a whisper. "That nothing like this will ever, EVER happen again."

Tears came with the words. I'd been strong and supportive, but I needed to fall apart a little. I'd held it in, and now it was time for it to flow.

I could see this register on his face. He watched my fascade crumble, and it broke his heart a little to know it was for him. He held my face in his hands. He wiped my tears with his thumbs. He looked into my eyes, and said with a solid resolve, "I promise. Never again. It's all over."

The words kept tumbling from me. "Because I can't see you like that again. The man in the courtroom is not the man I know. This was a really bad decision, but it's one that put me and us and everything on the line. You risked it all. I can't be risked again."

His eyes were welling up now. "I know. And I'm so sorry. I won't every do anything to risk us again. I promise."

So, I let it all out. I cried into his shoulder until I fell asleep. We napped, then we got ready to check out and get some lunch. We had our stomachs set on burgers and wings at The Cherry Cricket. I got some special dog treats for the four-legged kids at home at Three Dog Bakery. Then, we hit the road.

It's a pretty short trip to the turnoff for Central City. And they want to make sure you don't miss it:

The town itself isn't too far off the highway, as the crow flies. But this is the route the Parkway takes from I-70 (near the bottom of the pic):

But what scenery! I wish I hadn't been driving, so I could have looked around some more.

Central City is kind of compact. Many buildings, most original to the town, and narrow streets. Here's a look at Main Street:

The fronts of the buildings are protected as historical landmarks. The insides are another story. While the town has kept it's wild-west-mining-town flavor, the old boardwalks that Ranger remembered are now paved. As you pass what you think might be quaint storefronts, only a few have merchandise. Through the others, you see the flashing lights and quietly desperate faces scattered around casinos.

The gamblers have taken over the mining town.

We spent a little while in the Visitor's Center, talking to a very enthusiastic woman who was an absolute fountain of knowledge. We'll do some research on the area and the history before we go back. It's a good place to still experience a chunk of Colorado history and explore what had been a very rich mining area. We'll plan a getaway, some quiet weekend.

Then we headed home. The truck turned out to not be too bad on my back, but I was glad to see the massage therapist the next day.

And now we start putting together the pieces of what make become a life together. We have many ducks floating around, and have yet to see if we can get them in a row enough to turn fantasies of life into realities of life.