Monday, March 31, 2014

The sounds of campus

I love days with moderate temperatures because I can open my office window and let in fresh air. What I also let in is noise, and today I realized that the variety of sounds that I hear on any given day at my job couldn't be any more diverse.

There's the metallic twang of the baseball bats from the ballfield that's got to be a quarter mile away, on the other side of the building.

Geese, two kinds (Canada and Chinese), both of which sound beautifully terrible with their honking and hissing.

Father Timothy whizzing by in his golf cart. This is a sound to be cognizant of when walking one of the many paths on campus, because when you hear it coming you best clear the path. Father Timothy either doesn't see you in his way or, more likely, doesn't care. The last of the three founding monks of the abbey and the first headmaster of the school, Father Timothy has earned the right of way and he knows it. I love watching him whip past my office; how many people can claim they see a full-throttle golf cart driven by an elderly monk on a daily basis?

Faculty laughing and chatting as they cross campus between classes or head up to the dining hall at lunch.

Boys debating, singing, praying, discussing homework problems and practice schedules, and insulting each other. Sometimes all at once in the same group. And sometimes in Latin.

Gregorian chant, every day at mid-day prayer. By actual Benedictine monks who are pretty good at it.

Father Abbot's deliberate, dull thump followed by scraping, when he's on his crutches and dragging his black shoes across the tile floor of the chapel.

Rain hitting the sidewalk, the brick buildings, and my window.

The thud of lacrosse balls hitting their targets, as the boys practice informally between classes and during X period.

The squawk of our off-duty police officers' radios as they stroll past on their rounds.

Maintenance noises, including but not limited to: backhoes, Cushman carts, lawn mowers, drills, hammers, riding vacuum cleaners and industrial fans.

The boys in show choir practicing their music. Most days I relish this, and enjoy listening to them as they are quite good. Right now, however, they are working on a piece that sounds like they are singing "slow hand" over and over and over. I'm pretty sure they are not singing a Pointer Sisters hit from 1981, and I'm absolutely sure that if I have to listen to this one more afternoon I shall surely cut off mine own ears. (Thankfully there's an easy remedy for this one: I close my door and play music through my laptop. Today was St. Louis Public Radio's third hi-def station which specializes in classical.)

And sometimes strange, unidentifiable noises. This afternoon I heard what I surmised at first sound to be a pterodactyl. It was a sound I have never heard before, and I hope to never hear again. Since I'm pretty sure there are no pterodactyls on campus, I nearly got up to look out my window. A crow maybe? In distress? Was someone finally flogging a goose? Just then I looked up to see three junior school boys walking past my window. Right as they got to the middle of the window, the one closest to me turned his head, met my eyes, opened his mouth, and made the horrific, strangled caw I had been hearing. Holy moly, it was a person! He turned his head back and continued walking. It took everything I had not to bust out laughing, which was good because after they passed by, one of his friends peeked back in through my window to see my reaction. I heard pterodactyl boy come into the high school and continue down the hallway, where I'm sure he annoyed nearly every faculty member trying to teach.

I love the sounds of the campus. It feels comfortable, and the sounds make me happy. Generally I'm able to tune out just about everything and focus on my work. Except for the geese and the pterodactyl. Those I can do without.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Just call me Julia Child. And Molly Maid.


I woke up around 7:30, but stayed in bed until 8. I love that morning time when I can lay in bed and not have to get up right away. Only I knew that I had a lot of work ahead of me so that kind of ruined the mood. At 8, I got up and started cooking.

I cooked and cooked and cooked. I cleaned up and cooked some more. I cooked straight through until 1 p.m. I made five meals: chicken tetrazzini, beef stew, parmesan turkey meatloaf and mashed potatoes, Tex-Mex bean and chicken casserole, and chicken and broccoli casserole. I boiled and browned and steamed and sliced and chopped and rinsed and drained and minced and measured. I opened a lot of cans: beans, diced tomatoes, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, beef stock, chicken stock, cream of mushroom, chicken and celery, tomato soup.

I portioned everything out and wrapped it all up and wrote out final directions. Bake this at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Heat that and eat it. Bake this and then sprinkle cheddar cheese on top and then eat it.

Then, after that was all finished, M and I cleaned the house. I dusted while he swept. I dusted all the shelves in the great room. There are a lot of shelves. I cleaned the dining room table and dusted Zoe's piano. I put things away that have been lingering since Christmas. Then I dusted our bedroom.

By this point I was feeling pretty disgusting, so I got cleaned up before delivering the meals to my parents. Dad joked that I was like Meals on Wheels. My mother gave me a perfume bottle that was my great grandmother's, for whom I was given my middle name. Then, through a random conversation about my parish's sister parish in North St. Louis, we cleaned out their coat closets and bagged up about 10 coats for donation.

Mass at 6 p.m. was just what I needed. Even though my head was pounding, I was able to look around with so much gratitude. In a circle, all around me, were wonderful people that I have gotten to know through Zoe's school and through our ACTS retreat program. All of these people support me and care about me and my family. I could call any one of them if I needed help and they would not only rush to my side, they'd recruit 50 more people to help, too. This almost brought me to tears. I stopped feeling overwhelmed and started counting my blessings (of which there are many).

We ate dinner tonight at our newly cleaned dining room table. Beef stew. It was a new recipe, and it was delicious. Turns out that's what my parents ate, too, and Dad called to tell me how good it was. He sounded surprised, which made me laugh.

I have laundry going, and The West Wing in the DVD player, and I remembered to snap a photo in the middle of all the cooking chaos today (it's the steamer, full of broccoli). My house is clean and my meals are made for the week and I don't have to worry about what my folks are eating. M is on his computer yet again, but this time he's planning a summer Corvette trip out west for us and it's sounding pretty damn spectacular.

Yep, lots and lots of blessings.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Budgeting time

I was a soccer mom today, which I really enjoy. I like hanging out with the other parents. I like cheering on Zozo and her friends. However, when the game is at 7:15 a.m., and I have to have her there by 7 a.m., and it's at the indoor field furthest from our house...I maybe don't enjoy it quite as much. (Don't worry. I soothed myself with a quick stop at Starbucks.) (I also don't like the smell of indoor soccer venues, which is much discussed among parents and for which the only solution would be to blow up the building and start again. But that's a topic for another post.)

We came home to an empty house; M was still at his ACTS team meeting. I pulled out my favorite recipe books and used my iPad to navigate to my favorite recipe site, gathered a pencil and a pad of paper, and started meal planning. Normally I am not this organized. Normally I have a rough idea of what I want to make for the week, and what I'm capable of making due to our various schedules, and I hit the grocery store and kind of wing it.

Since I'll be cooking this weekend for two families, though, I needed to be more on the ball.

I learned that my parents aren't eating correctly. Most of my mother's meals consist of doughnuts and ice cream. This is not good.

My mother was an excellent cook. She made all our meals from scratch when I was growing up, and most of the time I preferred her recipes over the meals I ordered at restaurants. She had the best pasta sauce, the best chili, the best stuffed peppers. With her memory issues, she can't cook any more. She can't stay focused enough to follow even simple recipes, much less the full spreads she used to make. She'll stick a cup of coffee in the microwave to warm it, and then find it there hours later. Dad is a breakfast man. If it's breakfast food, he can nail it. Other than that, and deep frying turkeys, he stays out of the kitchen beyond nuking stuff, and there's only so much bacon, hashbrowns, eggs over easy and toast one can eat. All of this is adding up to a lot of meals out, and doughnuts and ice cream when they stay home.

So I sat down this morning and went through recipes that I thought they could handle once I assemble them, given directions like "microwave this" or "bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes." Lots of veggies, lean meats, etc. Low on garlic because Dad doesn't like it, and no mushrooms because Mom hates them.

Zozo was hanging out on the couch, looking through magazines. After awhile she started sighing. Loudly. I suggested she get her American Girl book and read, in preparation for an upcoming book report. She fetched it, grudgingly. I finished my list and was about to tackle the budget (which should henceforth be called the f*cking budget; see post from yesterday) when I saw her looking dejected on the couch.

"What's wrong, Zo?"
"I want to snuggle."
"Oh, sweetie. I want to, too. I just have so much to do right now."
"I know, Mommy. It's just that you're being just like Dad."

M has been putting in some pretty incredible hours for work. He just got a promotion and is handling a zillion transition details. He's been working for hours each night, and when he's not doing work work, he's doing ACTS team work. He's at his computer or his iPad most of the time when he's home. It's where he is right now, and we simply have to ride it out.

However, Zozo shouldn't have to lose both of us at the same time. I stopped what I was doing and we snuggled on the couch. As we laid together in silence, I thought about how it wasn't until recently that I realized fully what "The Sandwich Generation" really is. It's people who are caring for their children while they are caring for their parents. It's me. It's my sister.

And it's hard.

Zoe has another soccer game tomorrow, this time at a more reasonable hour. M will take her, and I will stay home and prepare a week's worth of food for two houses. Then at some point I'll run them down to my parents and go through them, then try to cram them into their impossibly stuffed refrigerator and freezer. For two people who don't eat well, they always manage to have a fridge full of crap.

I didn't get the budget done today, and I'm okay with that. I spent the budget time snuggling with my daughter on the couch. It was a good trade-off, and I'm glad I did it. Some day she won't want to snuggle with me, and I'll have plenty of time work on the budget. And budgets are most definitely not fun to snuggle with.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Regularity, and what Jesus would do

Several people made comments today about how great it was that it was Friday. The Mazda shuttle driver kicked it off first thing this morning (had to leave the Big Blue Devil at the dealer for her first oil change and to finally get her pinstripes), then most of the faculty felt the need to comment on it throughout the day. It wasn't until late this afternoon, while chatting with our off-duty police officer, that I realized that it was an ordinary week. A plain old ordinary week.

No security threat.

No snow.

No lawsuit.

No crisis media training.

No trial.

No teachers fired for inappropriate tweets.

No nastygram emails from unprofessional colleagues.

No major events.

Just a lot of good, hard work and plenty of laughs. It was so refreshing. I got a lot done, cleaned out my email, cleaned off my desk. I was able to chat with the folks who stopped by just to chat, which includes a choir monk with cognitive issues who is sweet as pie but is also a total time suck and an alumni mom (who is over-involved with the Abbey but whose heart is in the right place so I don't mind, who is also a total time suck). I could work with my door open because the maintenance guys fixed my HVAC and I can actually control the temperature in my office, as opposed to trying to warm up the room with my space heater. I went to mid-day prayer, and this morning attended the all-school Mass, at which Father D resurrected the old "What Would Jesus Do" saying and pleaded with us to really think about that as we go about our day. Would Jesus play Candy Crush with us? How about Grand Theft Auto? Would Jesus go to a party?

After piano lessons and the fish fry tonight, I came home and got everything ready to tackle the budget tomorrow. This is about my most least favorite thing in the world to do. I would rather go to the dentist or scrub all the toilets or clean 500 litter boxes than work on the budget. In fact, the list of things I would rather do than work on the budget is infinite. I put it off and put it off, and now I have to finish January and do February and most of March. I recognize the need for the budget, and I appreciate M's attempts to make me fiscally aware and engaged with our finances. I finally, after many years, actually understand how his damn spreadsheet works, but I would still pay cold, hard cash for someone else to reconcile it every month. And by reconcile I mean just do it, without asking me 500 questions that make me scour the Discover card statement and the checkbook. Just do it and tell me we are either okay or flat busted broke. I can learn enough from that. I think it's fair to say that I appreciate the budget while also harboring the most extreme kind of hatred for it. This is not something that has gotten better with time. In fact, I think my abhorrence has only grown. I f*cking hate doing the budget.

I have pleaded with my dear husband on the grounds of dividing up the work equally. I manage all the mail, pay all the bills, balance the checkbook. I make all the deposits and organize all the receipts. I handle all of Zoe's school paperwork and pay her various fees, which could be a full-time job by itself. I gather all the tax paperwork together every single year. For the love of God could he please just take the damn budget, at least for awhile? No go, he answers. Apparently after 16+ years he thinks I still have learning to do, which pisses me off to no end considering this is from the man who changed about half of one poopy diaper, complaining the whole time, before declaring that he had mastered it and therefore needn't ever change one again. And then pretty much refusing to do it any more. I think I'm done learning now, thanks. (Add "change poopy diapers" to the list of things I'd rather do than reconcile the budget.)

What would Jesus do? Hmmmm. Mark 12:17 says, "And Jesus said to them, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

Hey Caesar, guess what? You're getting your budget back! Jesus told me so.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

shift freedom

I decided recently that I'm not writing enough. Or, to be more accurate, that I'm not writing at all.

It starts off slow, the falling away. Things get busy and other priorities upshift and those squirrely things that one does just to make one feel better get downshifted. I turned to Instagram to keep a finger in the photography pie, but writing seems to have simply burned in the oven.

I used to write a lot. I used to write here a lot. Or at least regularly. Then, for awhile, I was writing a lot but only for work. Articles and profiles and features. At least I was penning something, flexing whatever creative muscle is used to write.

Then that even went away when I hired my assistant and started farming out the fun writing assignments to him. There were multiple thoughts behind this decision:
  1. He's a creative guy and I want him to feel fulfilled and happy.
  2. He's good at it, so it takes a tremendous amount of work off my plate because I can totally trust him.
  3. I needed to get rid of some of my daily grind tasks to focus more on management stuff. Which, it appears, involves a lot of paper pushing, ego soothing, and hounding people to get us information. In other words, daily grind tasks that are infinitely less fun.
Let's just say my assistant got the better end of this deal. I've got half a mind to promote him to my position and demote myself to his. (If I could keep my salary, I'd do it in a heartbeat.)

When I stayed with my friend in Colorado a couple weeks ago, my guest room was outfitted with shelves and shelves of books. There was also a wire basket near my bed that was stuffed full of writers' magazines. The covers called out with headlines about kickstarting creativity and finding new ways of writing and how important it is to write every day. For three days those magazines indicted me, and I was guilty of their charge. Where did my writing go?

I need to write. It's like my need to photograph. I'm not happy if I'm not doing it. And I haven't been doing it.

Here's the thing. I decided that I'd just go back to writing and it'd be like the many, many times I've returned to photography. It's like riding a bike; you never forget. But while I feel like I can write decently, I am definitely rusty. There's no blood going to it yet, there's no real sense of satisfaction after finishing a post. I think I need to do some warm-up stretches. Ease back into it. Not attempt to write a marathon after sitting on my ass brain for months. (Years?) I gotta cut myself some slack, I guess, although it's incredibly frustrating to not be able to sit down and just barf all over the page as M so eloquently puts it.

Hopefully I'll get there again. In the meantime, the five of you still reading this thing are just gonna have to be patient. I'm creaky, but I'm coming back. It's just a matter of shifting my freedom, right? Write.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Zozo for President

We got through half of Zoe's homework folder before she had to go to bed. Late night due to a 5:30 p.m. soccer game. Later, as I was cleaning up dinner and cleaning off the kitchen counter, I found the stack of papers we hadn't gone through. Math homework (she's learning 3D shapes) and religion coloring pages and a worksheet on a story her class read together with a character named Abuela.

The last item, though...I struck gold. At first glance it looks like a presidential craft project. We've got construction paper, Presidents Washington and Lincoln, markers and a glue stick. Then I caught a glimpse of her handwriting between the two presidents and opened it up.

"If I was President of the United States I would change the price on everything. Man their expensive. I would make Feb. into 30 days. 'Cause Feb. 30th is my half birthday. I would help the poor. I'd go to war if I had too. I would make a rool that GIRLS could be Pope too."

That is awesome. My kid rocks. I mean, she completely overestimates the power of the US presidency, but she's got lofty goals. She's frugal, practical, generous, and apparently not afraid of a fight.

I think we're doing well. Need to work a little on grammar and spelling, but she gets her point across and that's more than I can say about many people.

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If only I could sleep like this.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014



Waiting at the memory diagnostic clinic. I predict I will become very familiar with this place.


A different kind of work

I'm supposed to be working right now. I took the entire afternoon off to escort my parents to doctors appointments and so I should be working right now to make up for my missed time. I did a little bit of work, but not enough. I'm too distracted.

The reason I took the afternoon off was mainly to go with my mom to her appointment at the Washington University/Barnes Memory Diagnostic Clinic. She's had memory issues for a few years now and it's become evident that she can't manage her own care, and that my dad isn't much help either. "Well, we saw one doctor but he never got back to us so we went to another. He said the brain scan didn't show anything wrong so he told us to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist threw a bunch of different medication at her but some of it made her sick and some gave her a headache so we stopped going to him..."

After her second fender bender, when she couldn't tell my sister over the phone where she was, we (my sister and I) decided something had to be done. Katie took the keys away and dealt with the ensuing temper tantrum that comes when a person loses her independence after 60 years. I started asking around for referrals. It took me six months to get her into the Barnes clinic, and today was her first appointment.

We had to visit another doctor first, because she fell and broke her collarbone about five weeks ago. That seems to be healing well. Then we went down to Barnes.

She tends to walk, in a meandering way, about 10 feet behind us. We have to keep stopping to let her catch up, or consciously slow our pace to match hers. She said she was thirsty and we found a water fountain. Three feet from it, she looked at me in confusion. "Right here, Mom. Here's the water fountain." In the bathroom, we exited the stalls together and moved towards the two sinks. She stood next to me, quietly, until I directed her to use the other sink. "Oh! See? Sometimes I just lose track of what I should be doing..."

When we signed her in for her appointment, I handled all the paperwork up to the HIPAA form. The nurse asked her to sign and initial. She took the pen and stared at the paper for a moment. Then her hand jerkily moved the pen in a few scratches before she said, "I can't do it. I can't sign my name." I could feel her panic, and tried to calm her down. "It's okay, Mom. You're fine. I'll sign it for you." The nurse stared, and I took the pen and signed my own name under hers, then dated it and set the pen back down. A few minutes later I had Mom try again, and this time she was able to sign her name. It wasn't the signature I grew up seeing her scrawl across countless school and insurance forms, checks, and birthday cards, but the nurse didn't know that. I knew it, though, and it hurt.

She went through a small battery of tests, and the doctor grilled Dad and I about her daily habits, routines, and memory lapses. Then the doctor asked us to describe a recent event that she could ask Mom about. I've been out of town and evidently Dad's memory is nearly as bad as Mom's, so we had to settle for what we had done today, leading up to the appointment. Then we waited while the doctor asked my mother to describe what we had done today and compared her answers to ours.

We're starting to close in on a diagnosis, and we have a set path to go down now. I thought that this would make me feel better, but it doesn't. In some ways, I feel worse. I worry that this really isn't reversible, that it will only get worse, and that we have much heartache ahead. (Part of me knows this is already true, but the optimist in me refuses to let go of hope.) I worry that it's hereditary, and that my sister and I face the same fate. I worry about what's going to happen to my Dad, both as he cares for her and as he becomes unable to care for her. Mostly, I just feel like crying.

When I dropped them off tonight, all of us spent and tired, my mother hugged me for a long time. She cried, and said I was a blessing. I didn't know how to respond. I don't think this has ever happened. We have had our share of ups and downs, and I've been very careful to keep a certain distance for a long time to avoid being hurt. We have opposite personalities, different priorities, and couldn't be more dissimilar in our outlook on life in general. We have driven each other crazy, and I'd venture to say there's been more times than not that we've thrown up our hands and exclaimed about each other, "I just don't understand her!" But now, none of that seems to matter.

Maybe that's what makes it hurt so much.


Monday, March 24, 2014



Stayed home today and slept. I slept a lot. I worked a little, but mostly I slept.

I am feeling better, but I still hate that I wasted most of the day by being primarily unconscious. I am thankful that I was home, though. Except for the moment when I woke up due to little cotton puff paws gently tapping my face. Apparently Max thought it was time for me to get up.


Sunday, March 23, 2014



We headed home today. A blissfully uneventful drive with beautiful scenery. Chasing the sunset. (The sun won.)

We had a wonderful trip and enjoyed spending time with the cousins as we always do, but I am so glad to be home. I'm still not 100% and I think I just want (need, maybe) to hibernate for a day. Fortunately I have no meetings scheduled tomorrow, so I may work from home. And by work from home I mean stay unconscious most of the day and sporadically check email to make sure nothing is on fire.

I am guessing my colleagues will be thankful to get neither the stomach flu nor the regular old flu flu I've been battling. Personally, I'd like to sucker punch whoever gave them to me.


Saturday, March 22, 2014



Maeve! Got to spend lots of time with this sweetie pie today, and with her awesome mama.

Also, we ordered in Indian take-out for dinner. I tried Indian once years ago at what was supposedly "the best Indian buffet in St. Louis" and I hated it. I think I hated it because they put curry in everything, and I don't like curry. I mean, it was even in the salad dressing. I tried every damn thing on that buffet and hated it all. So I was convinced I didn't like Indian food. M loves it, and constantly raves about it. We went out for Thai a few weeks ago and he ordered his favorite dish: green curry something or other. After listening to him go on and on (and on and on) about how great it was, I tried it. And...I liked it. Huh. So when they were tossing around the idea of Indian take-out tonight I thought I'd roll with it. I got some ginger chicken thing that made me want to overeat and regret it in the morning. Holy cow it was amazing.

So I'm thrilled that I can now say I love Indian food. Just not crappy Indian buffets in St. Louis that obviously have no idea how to really cook with curry.

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Friday, March 21, 2014



Woke up today feeling like I got hit by a Mack truck. Holy cow. Sore throat, fever blister, achy and tired. I went back to bed with an alarm set to call my doctor, then went back again after placing my request for medicine. He filled the fever blister request and ignored the rest, citing allergies. He's lucky I'm several states away or I'd have kicked his ass for that. Or maybe just licked the rim of his coffee cup. Allergies my ass. I've had this body for 40 years now. I know when it's sick and I know when it's allergies.

After sleeping past noon I decided to overcome any sickness with willpower. I got up and made the bed (mostly so I wouldn't crawl back into it), then took a shower and did the whole hair and makeup routine.

This worked well until about 20 minutes ago. Now it's time to crawl back into the bed and hope that more sleep helps.

Today's picture is Zoe's cupcake from the fish fry. Fish fries always have the best desserts. She selected a Rice Krispie treat for me. Good girl.

Thursday, March 20, 2014



Nice drive to Cincy today. No construction. No traffic. Few pit stops. Satellite radio. New book on the Kindle. Hanging out with my two loves.

Skyline tonight surrounded by our awesome Cincinnati kin.

Good day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014



Packing again, this time for a family trip to Cincinnati to see beloved cousins. I'm looking forward to this trip more than Colorado, I think because this trip I won't have to miss my family.

I've been thinking a lot about this change in travel feelings, this idea that I didn't get as much out of the CO trip as I normally do. Why? What changed?

It's the trial.

The daily reminder for over a week that my life could be shattered with no warning has made me reticent to leave those I love the most. This may fade with time, although I know I will eventually be forced to face separation anyway when she leaves for college. I hope I regain some of my willingness to be independent sooner than that, though, for all of our sakes. I don't want to live under a cloud of worry, and I want to set the example for my daughter that it's important for women to have time for themselves, exploring new places and having experiences that aren't tied completely to those with whom she lives.

Maybe it'll just take some time. Maybe. In the meantime, man, it's some heavy baggage to haul around.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014



I love light. I am amazed at what it can do, and how it (or an absence of it) can make a person feel.

I really, really love light.

Monday, March 17, 2014



Home. Home home home! With my husband, my daughter, my fat grouchy cat and my furry crazy cat, and my guinea pig. In the house I love so much.

It's like heaven on earth.

My flight landed 20 minutes early. How often does that happen? And we got a lovely flyover of St. Louis. I saw Highways 70, 270, 40/64 and 44. I saw the Planetarium and the Art Museum and the Grand Basin. I saw the geodesic dome in the Missouri Botanical Gardens. I saw the Arch. I saw St. Louis and fell in love all over again. For all its quirks and faults, I love my hometown.

My stomach is still jacked up, but I'm so happy to be home it doesn't even matter.

Sunday, March 16, 2014



Grounded by the stomach bug today. I stayed home while the others went out. Saw them off and then slept til 12:15. Must've needed that! I woke up feeling better but still not 100%.

Home tomorrow. I can't wait. I missed my family so much this trip. I think it's getting harder and harder to leave them. Even though I have a blast on this trip each year, and even though I know it's good for my soul to do things that are just for me, it's hard to leave the two people I love most. It's like leaving part of my heart behind. And I know that no matter how much fun I have, I'll always have more with them.

Today Molly the dog kept me company. I read an entire book and relaxed, which was really nice. Except for the stomach issues. The girls found out from our guide today that altitude sickness can manifest itself in the stomach, so our thought is that might be what happened. Especially since it started Thursday night after I got here and since my stomach has been doing remarkably well the last month after we cut milk out of my diet. Wish me luck on the plane ride home! Always fun to travel when ill.

Saturday, March 15, 2014



Found this today. Snapshot Wheat by New Belgium Brewery. Love the graphics, and the beer. I now own a bottle, a tshirt, and a gorgeous print that they threw in for free.

Did some shopping in old Fort Collins. Watched intoxicated people of all ages stumble around celebrating St. Patrick's Day early. Heard a pretty decent U2 cover band.

Watched Dallas Buyers Club and discovered why it took Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and a whole bunch of accolades.

Figured out that I can't ignore the turmoil in my stomach that has been brewing for a couple of days. Tomorrow's outing is in jeopardy for me. I don't relish the thought of being away from facilities for 8 hours. Unless this gets better overnight I'll have to stay home.

Apparently acting like everything is fine and eating rich food and enjoying a beer here and a margarita there doesn't cut it. I just have to let it run its course. Pun intended.

Friday, March 14, 2014

More from today



Scrambled to the top of Crescent Rock today, which is way harder than it sounds. They could have at least named it Crescent Peak or Crescent Mountain or You'll Kill Yourself Climbing Up Here But The View Is So Worth It.

Then we hiked and climbed and skidded and fell to Gem Lake.

After we got back down, all of us sporting bruises and two of us with wounds that produced blood, we went to Ed's Cantina in Estes Park and drowned our miseries in nachos (bean for me, since it's Friday) and fish tacos and margaritas. If someone ever offers you an avocado margarita, politely decline. Then order one for yourself because they are so delicious you won't want to share.

I'm in bed, stuffed with ibuprofen and hoping tomorrow brings relief to an aching body. It was a great day, but I'm feeling today's activity a lot. And in many different places. What ever muscle or tendon that is on the back of your lower leg, right above your heel? Yeah. Those are screaming right now. Ow.

My FitBit is very proud though. Stunned that I completed over 19,000 steps today but completely oblivious to the huge altitude gains and drops from scrambling over rocks and plodding up paths. I think I burned way more calories than it's giving me credit for.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Today's Take

Good stuff today.



Got out of Dodge today. Am in Colorado now, and have been quite successful in forgetting the last few weeks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014





Man, am I glad I didn't give up cursing for Lent.

After a busy first day back from the trial, I settled down tonight to do yet more work. I had some energy, so I might as well be productive.

(Workity work work stuff. Redacted due to assholes. I had paragraphs here. Whole paragraphs. None of it matters now anyway.)

Oh, and here's a cute picture of my cat on the stairs.

Monday, March 10, 2014



Trial ended late today.

Fault of the Abbey: 0%
Fault of the driver: 0%
Fault of the child: 0%

In other words, they confirmed it was simply the terrible, tragic accident we thought it was.

I am glad this is over, although it'll never really be over for the parents who lost their wonderful, beloved son. I pray they find peace.

Sunday, March 09, 2014



Zozo participated in her first piano competition today. Lots of the kids there were nervous. One girl forgot her first song (each student played two pieces, and they had to be memorized). One boy was so antsy and fidgety that his mom spent their waiting time just trying to talk him down.

Ol' Zo sat there and waited patiently. Nerves of steel. She played some Temple Run on my phone and looked around, and decided she would play "Greedy Goblins" first and "Surprise!" second. Then she went in and nailed it. Upon emerging (only the student and the judge were allowed in the room for the competition - today's image was from her quick practice before the afternoon session got underway) she grinned and said, "I'm hungry!"

We found out the results later in the afternoon, when her teacher called to give us the good news. She earned a Superior, the highest ranking!

We are so proud of this little girl who loves her piano. Her feet don't even touch the floor and her teacher had to explain that although her wingspan isn't very wide she'd just have to stretch because wiggling your booty down the piano bench isn't allowed. Despite her size, she plays beautifully and shows what we think is real talent.

Way to go, ZoBug!

Saturday, March 08, 2014



Worked most of today. Have to work tomorrow. So much for having a recovery weekend.

The Fat Cat and I are the only two left awake, so we set all the clocks forward one hour and now I'll read for a bit and try to forget most of what has occupied my brain for a week now.

Friday, March 07, 2014

dog eat dog world


Today: better.

And I found a milk bone on the shelf in the 3rd floor women's restroom of the courthouse. Delighted by the randomness. Curious about the backstory.

Thursday, March 06, 2014



God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.



Another rough day in court, but it was also Wednesday, which is wedding day at the courthouse. Between our own trial and the two women wailing in anguish over their battles shortly after lunch, it was nice to see some people who were there for joyous reasons.

I was so tired last night that I forgot to post. I woke up exhausted and dreading yet another day here. It is battering my soul, and the souls of my monks and colleagues. It's nothing compared to the heartbreak of the parents who are suing, though. The trial will finish for us sometime next week. They have to live the rest of their lives in pain.

Prayers for everyone, please.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014



In court all day today. Then a rush to get to Zozo's school for her wonderful performance as the Pigeon Mama in Alice in Winderland (highlight of my day!), then out to eat to celebrate.

Rush home and get her started on homework while I conduct debrief concall with our communications consultants. Prayers and tucking in and goodnight kisses. Tackling the work that piled up today while I sat in court.

It has been a day. And the whole rest of the week promises to be the same.

Today's image is the ceiling of our courtroom, which is pretty much the only thing I could photograph in there. I like its patterens.

Monday, March 03, 2014

snow day. again.


Since Zozo and I were home for yet another snow day, I had the opportunity to make a decent breakfast.

Scrambled eggs!

NCM lifted the first two Corvettes out of the sinkhole today. The first was the ZR1 Blue Devil that looks a lot like ours. I didn't expect the emotion I felt when I saw it come out, and again when they got the engine to start.

It's a car thing, I guess.

Sunday, March 02, 2014



Had to go into work today, but it was okay because I got to see this monk - my monk - smile. This is rare lately. He has a lot on his plate and he worries more than most. This next week will be tough for him, so keep him in your prayers. I'll be right there with him, so hopefully I can provide some comfort. I doubt the events of this week will affect me as much as him. But maybe pray for both of us just in case.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

the day


Although we are so sad we aren't having a blast in Cincinnati this weekend, we are making the best of it. M had an ACTS meeting this morning, and then we all went to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. We hit the mall, where Zozo got a new Build-A-Bear with her gift cards (the St. Patrick's Day bear - yes!) and Momo got a new purse. This may not sound important, but it is. I get a new bag about every three or four years, and it's gotta be just right. I have specs: two handles (one short for over the forearm plus a strap long enough to wear crossbody), at least one outside pocket for the phone, and big enough to hold all my crap and possibly an iPad or notebook, but not too big. I'm like the Goldilocks of handbags. I found the perfect bag today, and am thrilled.

We delivered a shit-ton of Girl Scout cookies. All that remains are the work orders (all sorted and labeled, and M's are even already loaded in the car) and four boxes destined for Chicago. Thank you to all who ordered.

Dinner out: yummy Thai. Mmmmm.

Home for pie and ice cream, and watching the outdoor hockey game in Chicago.

And I got my 10,000 steps in.

It couldn't have gotten much better. Unless, you know, we were in Cincy.

And now we just wait for the storm. If there isn't a crapload of snow tomorrow I'm gonna be pissed.