Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer round up! Nothing exciting to read here. (No, really... there isn't)

What? It's been almost a month!

My sons have left the house early for their walk to school so they could climb a tree on the way.

I just love that they are leaving early just so they can have time to do that. I love that they discussed it, planned it, and are excited about it. Climbing a tree... to have such dreams :)

Time flies in summer, especially the end of summer, when school is beginning and family life gets hectic.

Some fun things I learned about myself this summer:

Kombucha - of course I was going to try it. My kombucha phase lasted about a quarter of a bottle of cranberry lavender kombucha. It's just not my thing. Love the fizz, but I don't love it enough. Maybe I need to try other flavors. Or maybe I can just stick to sparkling water. (I know Connie, I know you don't know what it is.... lol it's okay - you're not missing much!
Yeah yeah, it's a picture of my morning work out ensemble. But
only because blogs need pictures. I heard it was a rule.

Body pump - this is my new workout and I looove it. Love it. Love. It is all bar weights and movement. It mixes up real well with my Tues/Thursday/maybe Sunday runs. I go Wednesdays and Saturdays, and want to add a Monday, but not quite there yet.

Body flow - A yoga mix class with some pilates and very basic tai chi movement. This is great the day I do body pump because it stretches every muscle I used.

Audible books - Listen to novels on the way to work! Doesn't get better than this. Except I'm reading Atlas Shrugged, which is eternally long, and I think I need to take a break from it, or maybe listen to it like twice a week... why is it so loooong?

My son's budding art talent - So much drawing. So much artwork. He's in art this year too, so it'll be interesting to see how he incorporates some of what he learns in his own work.

My other son's discovery of academics - Looks like we're in another year where he's loving school. He's upped his classes a level, and so far, not a word of complaint about the workload and he's still loving science!

Girl child's two jobs - I'd like her to have one full time job, but for now, this will do. It gives her money, gets her out of the house, and teaches her all sorts of things, like how if you don't have money, you can't buy anything, and how even if you work, you can still not have money... hmm...

My new job - So far, I'm really really enjoying the people I work with and the work I do. I know I know, I'm still in the 'new job honeymoon' phase, but so what, I'm enjoying it!

15-minute walks on Pearl Street  - By far my favorite part of my work location. I love just stepping out onto a cobblestone pedestrian bypass and strolling up and down people-watching.

Writing - Oh migosh. I know I know I'm still working on my revisions, but I'm also outlining my next novel and I'm excited about it.

That's pretty much it. I'm hoping to blog more frequently but honestly, I've pulled away from social media as strictly a hobby, and while this isn't 'social media' per se, it's not a life long ambition for me to be a blogger. So yeah, less tweets, less Facebook, less paying attention to a social media culture that changes every two seconds. It's fun, yeah, but it's a time drain. When I become a successful published author who needs a platform because I have an actual reason for a platform, then well, then I'll be more frequent.

Because I'm totally one day going to be a published author who needs a platform. Maybe lol. My question of the year is 'How will I become a successfully published author.' :)
I'm not at all stressing it. It's just a 'wouldn't it be nice...' thought.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Happy Sunday - thoughts

Happy Sunday everyone!

Pearl Street, Boulder Co. in July

I’ve stayed out of the work force for about a year, thinking seriously about planning a path that I wanted to follow rather than taking whatever opportunity came up. Oh, sure, in the beginning I applied to everything, filled out my checklists and went on interviews, but I was a hamster in a hamster wheel. I also played around with a freelance business. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would. I couldn’t stand the hustle of client hunting and follow-ups. I didn't have a sense of purpose. Maybe, in ten years, I might have a different view, but not now. I of course considered doing nothing but attempting to write my novels, but that is something I will continue to do on the side. Writing novels for me is a discovery process, and I haven’t yet discovered the voice that I’m happy to settle on. I write because I love to write. Publication will be a moment of pride and joy. But just a moment. The real joy is in the process.

I was at this mid-point place of asking questions and taking my work seriously because a while ago, a good long while ago, like many women, I sacrificed career momentum - great career momentum - for my family. It’s nothing I’m going to cry about, I’d do it again and again, over and over, and happily, because the particular needs of my family required that I be home for them, or that I take jobs that were more ‘favorable’ to their schedule. And I enjoyed the times I spent at home and I value the time I spent in jobs that let me be home more often. The time with our children is fleeting. So there are no regrets. Especially since I, if I wasn’t working, was working on staying relevant through school, and if I was working in family-friendly jobs, they were related to my field. All told though, I really only fully stayed home for four years when the boys were younger, and this past year, though I've been continuously either looking for work or working so it only qualifies as 'staying home' simply because my location was home! So a drop in the hat, my time at home.

But I was looking at a new world now. A world where my sons are old enough and in a good place, in a good school, a good neighborhood, a good and independent frame of mind, where their needs are, while still higher, not so great that I can think more about what I want in work rather than what I can do that will still help the family. I was also looking at a new employment world where it's normal for people to step out and back in and out again and in, where changes in industry are seen as valuable and accomplishments matter more than staying somewhere. I, and frankly, anyone who's stepped out, or who's in the wrong job, was in a position where I could jump back in to my field with purpose and a sense of direction.

So, after oh, six months of discovery, rediscovery, thinking I wanted one thing, changing my mind, wanting another, applying for all sorts of things, I stopped and asked some questions. What do I love? What have I loved? Where was I the happiest? What do I miss? What did the offices and environments, where I was happy, look like? What were the people like? How did they like their work? Where do I want my career to take me? What type of organization do I want to work for? Where was I not happy? What did those places look like?

Then I stopped thinking. I took a few weeks to just live without doing anything, and let my mind figure things out in the background. Then, I came back to it and focused on finding places that matched the answers to the questions I asked myself. It turned out to be higher education, government, and large non-profits. Places that had a greater mission. Places that worked on making a difference in the communities they are a part of. Places that put a high value on employees and culture. But places that were larger, which was a surprise to me. Organizations with structure who still managed to grow and change. Organizations with room for development and the ability to move and grow without leaving. Organizations that had a reputation for investing in employees, mentorship, and growth. Organizations that  after talking to people and seeing what the organization does in the community, I would be proud to be part of.

And now, I work on Pearl Street in Boulder, which is about as gorgeous a place you can work, in a really cool looking building, for a large government organization. I’ll probably update LinkedIn in a few months, when I have more of a feel on how to summarize my new role, but for all my friends who don’t know, right now, Boulder County is where I’m at.

**and a nice thank you to my friends who have kept me sane and supported me while I went through the whirlwind wacky emotional theatrics of trying to find the 'right' thing instead of 'any' thing!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Getting away!

We just got back from a three day trip to Estes Park, which is just up the road from us, but up the road from us in the mountains, and I love the mountains. Possibly more than the sea. I'm not alone of course, which is why it’s ridiculously crowded in downtown Estes, and ridiculously overbooked at every possible place you can think of in July. We found a place a mile outside the Rocky Mountain National Park entrance, on the Fall River, which is a stream, but not a baby stream. A full, loud, lovely mountain stream that winds its way doing its thing, not caring about anything except its path. So lovely.

There aren’t a lot of deep thoughts to share about this trip beyond ‘wow. I wish I could live in the mountains’ and then the ‘okay but what would living in the mountains, year-round, entail, logistically? I could probably get from the mountains to the mountain town, but leaving in winter, with my not-love of driving… would I NEED to leave the mountain town in winter/ever? Do drones deliver yet? What do I have to do to actually afford the mountain place I want? Would anyone else in my family come? Maybe they could visit…?’

I unplugged. It was great. I'm now going to work on unplugging on the weekends, too, because life is better when it's not being tweeted.

So yes, I love mountains. I love woods. I love being in woods in the mountains, and I enjoy the fact I live so close to things I love. No deep thoughts.

Things I learned about my family this little getaway:
  • A 4.5 mile hike is okay. A 7-mile hike is not. Even if it has waterfalls and a river and a lake full of lily pads. It wasn’t supposed to be a 7-mile hike...
  • Mountain streams are cool and everyone in my family loves mountain streams, but nobody
    loves them as much as Bear and I, who logged the most time going outside to watch and listen to the stream, if anyone was actually logging time. And mountain streams are pretty fast and pretty loud, and a lot of fun.
  • Rock shops. We went to a rock shop, and it was one of the highlights of the trip because who doesn’t love peridot, rose quartz, random slabs of Colorado marble, chunks of onyx and adventurine? There was also a museum and lots of stones and trinkets to buy. The boys got hematite bracelets and Turbo bought peridot because it’s his favorite (who knew?) and Bear got a pyramid thing-a-ma-jig. We did end up buying a rose and black marble chess set because it was cool.
  • Bumper boats are the best. Seriously. The best.
  • My sons have no consideration or courtesy when driving go-karts. Seriously, boys, you had to lap me? Twice? And was it necessary to ram into me? I’m your mother, Turbo (who, I belatedly am realizing, is a more apt nickname than I ever intended it to be).
  • Bear finds the BEST shops. He led us to an interior design shop in downtown Estes that had the best woodland animal plates and mugs. I can guarantee you that between the time I write this, and post this, I’ll have already looked up those woodland animal plates and mugs...
  • Husbear is the best at Marco Polo, but his skills are far too advanced for his family, who are not stealthy in the water at all.
  • We all agree that having a pool all to ourselves is amazeballs, and are really happy everyone else was out and about doing non-pool things while we were in the pool.
  • The hot tub on the balcony was pretty cool, since there’s just something nice about being outside in hot water while stars are twinkling. Except when you’re not wearing glasses, and then they are just blurry light spots that look like maybe dust.
  • Hummingbirds are fun to watch.
  • Birds are fun to watch. Pretty sure I saw the same black-billed magpie flying about.
There really aren’t a lot of 12 year olds who don’t enjoy nature, and mostly, I think, stick someone in nature long enough and they’ll get it.

Now, I have to resist the temptation to look up every cabin located in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park and plan more trips than I can take...

In the meantime, enjoy a lovely slideshow of some of our trips highlights :)

RMNP/Estes Park, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

A most amazing hike

Last night, after midnight, I got a call from Sweden.

It wasn't this guy, the guy in the picture on the right, So I didn't bother answering. Although it did leave me with the strange 1 a.m. question... why didn't this guy call me? I told Husbear that Alex Skarsgard didn't call me, and he had a very disappointing lack of sympathy...
I couldn't even fall back asleep. I ended up going through all the people I could possibly have known that could possibly be in Sweden that could possibly need to call me after midnight, that weren't named Alex Skarsgard... nothing. I think if I'm going to get a call from Sweden, it should be from Alex Skarsgarard.

My friend, who bravely snuck up on these 
amazing red flowers. It's rough, the wilds.
But that's not what this blog is about. This blog is about my most amazing hike where I almost died falling down a rocky waterfall because I wore the wrong shoes. With photos! Of the hike, not the almost-death, though it was determined by my friends that if I did fall to my death, I should be sure to be cheerful about it, and maybe on the way down give them a thumbs up and a big smile...

Okay... so this hike was outside of Nederland and the trailhead was located at the end of a deadly five-mile unpaved boulder-infested narrow road that no sane Kia Soul would ever traverse... yet, two did! Including the one I rode in. The trail is for Diamond Lake and it's beautiful.

Close up of these amazing flowers 
which eventually I will look 
up and name. Properly.
I haven't gone on nearly enough hikes this season, but I'm hoping to make it up with a few August and September hikes. I love trying new ones, though, because there's always a new view or a new place to find and love. This particular trail was rich with creeks and the death-rock-waterfall, which I didn't think to take a picture of, because I was too busy trying to cross it without slipping and plummeting, and a gorgeous lake at the end which isn't big, but was beautiful.

I love hikes for so many reasons. The views are one of them. In Colorado, when you go on a hike, there's a very good chance at the end there's an amazing view that comes straight out of National Geographic. And it's all RIGHT HERE where I live. Another reason is the nature effect. I love being out in nature. It completely resets my soul. It makes me happy. So happy. I am the person on the trail who's huffing and puffing up an incline smiling because it's so beautiful and peaceful and there's flowers and creeks and sky and ahhh... yes, yes one day I will live in a little mountain town and a big smile will be my every day expression.

Here's a pretty image of the waterfall-death-creek I had to cross. 
I took a picture so people could see how brave I was if I fell... 
and no, I don't care if a gazillion other people just  hopped across like 
happy speedy bunnies, I had the wrong shoes on, 
I'm a foot shorter than like EVERYONE, and it was SLIPPERY!

This is the view from another angle, where I wasn't focused on the wild plummeting water. It was a trickier crossing than the image makes out - slippery rocks! Non-ankle-supporting hiking shoes! Short legs! It's a dangerous world out there for the hobbit-folk! If I were one. Which I'm not. I just empathize with their height impediments, that's all. 

That was the scariest part of the hike. Then, we were rewarded with a shady path.

Beautiful flowers:

And fields of them:

and beautiful lake views:

Colorado is my happy.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

I can't blog about lettuce today - I want to acknowledge the turmoil we're in

I wanted to write about July.

I wanted to write about the determined wasp that keeps making new nests next to the ones I poison, resulting in a bizarre guilt for poisoning them in the first place (but really, right over my front entrance? It can't happen.)

I wanted to show pictures of my lettuce garden which is doing better than I expected.

I was going to talk about revisions.

I can't, though, because it seems then that I am ignoring what is going on. By not mentioning it or talking about it, there's an implication that I'm not aware. And I am, I'm aware. I'm horrified. I'm shocked. I'm disgusted. I'm tired. We're all tired. So I have to mention it.

I keep thinking conversations are being held in police stations around the nation - be careful, be vigilant, don't use violence as a first defense, don't go for your weapon first thing, listen, watch, be observant. Try not to take a life in the line of duty.

But I don't know. Two men, two days. Traffic stops. Something is wrong with our nation when being stopped at a traffic stop is a life or death situation. Something is wrong when black mothers and fathers have to talk to their black sons and daughters, especially sons, and tell them how to act, how to avoid confrontation, how to not get shot.

And another day, five cops are shot.  And the whole cycle begins again, I think. But then I get hopeful, because I see peaceful protestors and I see people standing up and saying 'this isn't okay in our country' and being counted. Because the majority of my friends, well, all that I know of, believe we have a problem, and want to fix it.

I hope this becomes our priority.

But it's not just this. I woke up sick when I saw the news about the mass shooting in Florida, and became disgusted when it was clear that not enough people have died to get meaningful gun control on the books.

I became madly addicted to c-span during the Democratic sit in and #holdthefloor. I watched the #filibuster all night. I'm inspired and optimistic because finally, people we elected are standing up and fighting for Americans, agree or disagree with them, at least they are fighting for the people that elected them.

#Brexit - yep, couldn't stop following that either. It's significant. It's significant that the beliefs and desires of the older generation are completely out of line with the younger. It's a harsh lesson in not voting because you figured it wouldn't matter (wooboy did it ever matter here). Now, one little vote, and Britain is on the verge of political collapse, if they're not already descending into it.

I'm watching Trump in horror, but there, I think I'm in good company.

I think we are living in dangerous, changing times, and I can't blog about lettuce and wasps and revisions, because today, yesterday, many days this past month and a half, I've been thinking about what is going on in my community, my state, my nation, and the world. I think it's important to pay attention, to witness, and to acknowledge it all.

Oh, I'll blog about lettuce. And wasps. And other things. Probably this week. The times we're living in doesn't mean I stop living the details of life and being happy about lettuce, guilty about the wasps and anxious about my revisions... not at all. But today I want to acknowledge the turmoil our nation and world is in. I want to say, yes, I see an innocent man was shot dead at a routine traffic stop, and I am as shocked by it as anyone. Yes, I think it's horrible 5 police officers were shot. I'm horrified about the mass shooting in Florida. I'm not immune to the fact that half of an entire nation (Syria) has had to flee their homeland because of war. I'm concerned about the future of democracy, the world economy, and whether or not Scotland will leave Britain. I also have hope. I also believe we can make things better. We can change. We can stop it. We can do the work to solve these hard problems.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

#holdthefloor #enough #filibuster - that's what I did last night

I stayed up way too late last night watching the gun filibuster. Now I’m finishing my first draft of my science fiction novel, which has nothing to do with modern politics, but every now and again I go and look up #filibuster and #enough and #makeitstop and #holdthefloor.

I fully support the historical filibuster last night, truly truly I do. I couldn’t stop watching it.  This was a small, maybe barely effective, movement toward real action in a Congress dedicated to obstruction.
I felt a personal obligation as a citizen to stay up late and honor Sen. Murphy and support Sen. Booker and the two Republican Senators and the more than 40 Democratic senators who stayed and helped Sen. Murphy #Holdthefloor.

It was truly a wonderful, hopeful, 15-hour moment. A moment that says, even though the bills may be voted down, even though the NRA has far too powerful a hold on our government still, even though this Congress is known as the least-effective, most passive Congress ever, there is a glimmer, a spark, of fight in our Democratic senators which I hope will inspire senators and republicans on both sides to turn that glimmer and spark into a fire of real action and real change. I hope this is one step of many that will lead to a Congress that listens to its people and acts on its peoples’ wishes. Last night, like so many others on Social Media, I watched as people in our government fought for action and change. I watched as elected officials stood for 15 hours talking about real issues that impacted real lives without once going off topic or turning the #filibuster  into a farce of bedtime story reading. I watched as they succeeded in forcing the Senate to address two common sense bills that 90 percent of Americans want passed. Bills, that when passed, will begin a long, but necessary step, in eliminating the excessive gun violence our country experiences.

So this blog post isn’t funny or silly, and it doesn’t have pictures of my kids or trees. Just my relief that some elected officials stood up and said: No, we will not go through the same post-massacre ritual and ceremony and move on. No, we will not hold a moment of silence with complete inaction. No, we have had #enough. No, we will not yield; we will #holdthefloor. No, we will not let the lives of innocent people massacred at the hands of one well-armed man be dismissed so easily. Like so many other people watching on Social Media, I was reminded of what government is and how it works, and I was proud.

And now that I have that off my chest, I return to my science fiction writing.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Baking Bear is the best bear ever

The blurry blob is dough. We're playing catch while waiting for the oil to get to temp.
He is fussy about his images, and doesn't want them on FB. He doesn't like me talking about him.
So don't look at him. Look at the blob of dough. Don't see him. And for the love of my blog,
don't tell him I wrote about his baking day!
I’ve been meaning to talk about Sunday, because it was a great example of how Bear is a self-learner. He learns best by exploring and doing. Show him a how-to video on something he’s interested  in and he’ll do it, make observations, discuss it, and maybe try it again. Things he’s done on his own: Making butter candles. Using silverware to balance a glass precariously. Making butter.  Creating a card game system. Making medieval swords and weapons out of swim noodles, duct tape, and fabric. Create a solar power source (one of those kits - he’s done a bunch of them for fun). Waffles.

Give him something he can put his hands on and take apart or put together or build. Show him the night sky. When he gets interested in something, give him the tools. When he shows you his drawing, look at it closer. It’s not a drawing. It’s an entire world complete with environment, resources, predators, and culture complete with tools, cookware, weapons, buildings or tents, and style of clothing.

But don’t ask him to do homework. Or write an essay on what he knows because he can just tell you. Or judge his work in comparison to others. Or tell him he is so smart he could do so much better in school. Because that means grades and he’s too smart - he knows they are meaningless. One of his teachers this past year, my favorite kind of teacher, the kind that doesn’t believe grades matter nearly as much as inspiring a child, and who works to inspire rather than get results, told me my Bear loved Science.
“Don’t you see that?” he’d asked me.
“Umm… yep.”

And I did, when I thought about it. When our conversations started revolving around exo-planets and the mass of stars and what really happens when you get too close to a black hole, and do any of you understand how ridiculously small we are compared to the wonders of space? My son does.

My son also enjoys to bake on occasion - the occasion being any time his desire to try a new recipe matches the availability of flour, butter and salt in our house.

So Sunday.

He wanted to fry donuts, and found the recipe through his favorite food YouTuber, Nerdy Nummies or something. We went to the store together with the list. We got the ingredients and then I pretty  much left him alone, just checking in now and again. Mostly, leaving him alone. He enjoys baking. I do not.
Due to his shyness around cameras operated by
me, I've got mostly sneak shots. Here he's in
the process of mixing with a friend's help.

I am absolutely the worst person to teach him how to bake because everything about the process requires a constant state of awareness and a technical accuracy in measurement. I don’t really know the meanings of strange phrases like ‘beat until eggs are thicker’ even though they always are runny, and the reason why it’s important to sift flour when sifting flour is called for. Also, it requires a lot of ingredients, bowls, kitchenware, pans, pots, things… and when it’s all done, the kitchen is covered in flour and someone has to do all the cleaning. I also get really bored after I bake the first two cookie sheets of cookies. The thought of filling out just one more cookie sheet becomes overwhelming and exhausting and I need to lie down and take a nap instead.

I am also absolutely the best person to teach him how to bake because I have absolutely no expectations on how a proper baker should bake, so he can do it his way, free of my preconceived notions. I have no ‘just so’ way of storing any ingredients. I have no preferences on baking materials or ingredients or techniques or even opinions. I know just enough to help him with the really tricky questions: ‘how will we know when the oil is 350 degrees?’ ‘there will be teeny bubbles. Also, the candy thermometer.’ ‘What is that strange popping sound?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘maybe we should turn the heat down and move the pot off the heat?’ ‘yeah, it’s kinda scary.’

The actual doing, it’s all him. He made the dough and I secretly suspect he didn’t mix all the ingredients equally, but I didn’t jump in and do it for him. I didn’t even tell him about it after. He made observations to me on what he needed to do next time to make the donuts better. (we need actual donut cutters. A stronger pot. etc.)  He knew there were multiple steps and it would be a long process. He was patient while the dough doubled. He was patient while the donuts proofed for another 20 minutes. (I was not. Seriously. The kitchen was a disaster, and it was taking forever, and I really wanted a nap.) He followed the recipe. I don’t even know what the steps were. He did some things brilliantly. Others, well. It’s hard to mess up fried donuts, but we both agree we don’t have the right tools for decorating.
Next time, I think I need to spring for proper decorating tips.

The thing that struck me is how capable in the kitchen he is. He planned things carefully. He pre-watched the video so many times he knew how the flow of the process should work.
Things we learned together:
Stainless steel makes too many scary sounds when oil gets really hot.
Hot oil really hurts when you get it on your finger, but sucking your finger makes it go away.
It really only takes a minute or so to get a nice brown donut.
Everyone wants to eat your food, no one wants to help make it or clean up after it.
Playing with dough is fun.

At one point, while he was waiting for the oil to get to 350 degrees - now? now? How about now? - we were both kinda stuck in the kitchen area, not able to leave hot oil on a stove, but not able to really do anything else. He picked up a ball of dough that was leftover and too tough to use, and started tossing it. He commented on its texture. The sound it made when it hit his hand. How stretchy it was. How we could catch the ball sometimes by poking a finger in it so it wouldn’t drop. How he’d like to try that homemade cinnamon play-doh recipe I used to make when he and his brother were toddlers.

And then we were playing catch with the ball of dough because it was just the right size - a soft, squishy combination flour, salt, butter, sugar and egg. If you can’t imagine playing catch with a ball of dough, trust me, it’s fun.  He made up a game, because 12 year old boys love games, and we had to catch it one-handed only.

Catch is a great game. You toss a ball casually back and forth and eventually someone starts talking. Since my son is in this separate-from-the-mom phase and also  notoriously incapable of remaining silent, it didn’t take long for him to chatter at me about all sorts of the nonsensical things that are so important to a 12-year-old. And this is why the ball of dough was perfect. No one had to ‘do’ anything. We didn’t have to find a ball. Get a glove. Go outside. Put on sunscreen.  We lobbed a ball of dough back and forth chatting while the oil heated up (really slowly).

Then the donuts were done and glazed and delic.
Then the donuts were done, and he made sure there were enough doughnuts for everyone, with an extra for him. He cleaned (mostly) the kitchen. It energized him. He wants to do more.

And I saw my Bear. I saw the Bear his friends see, his teachers see on a good day, his father sees when they’re playing video games or talking, like they are now, about how science fiction fires up the imagination to think about what is possible. His father is determined Bear be confident enough to pursue a life of creative endeavors in science, baking, art, professional YouTubing, whatever, because Husbear and I both agree this kid is amazeballs, and the absolute worst thing to happen to him would be encouraging him to lead a life of conformity in a 9-5 world that wouldn’t begin to understand or care about this amazing, beautiful, soulful child.