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My poor abandoned blog. It’s in good company. Memory Lane is littered with my poor abandoned blogs of old, started with good intentions, some even lasting several years, but inevitably visited with less and less frequency until forgotten. *weeps*

In any event, I had a discussion with a co-worker yesterday about different soda flavors (it’s my job to procure soda for the holiday bash we’ve organized next week to include catering from Jimmy John’s – huzzah!), and I offered diet coke, Sprite, and something else (not Poopsi cuz it sucks), but something like “Mello Yello” I offered, and then recalled that lesser known yellow soda, “Sun Drop” and launched into a story of the LaPoint family on Burdick Street in Oshkosh, WI.

Gail and Neil LaPoint are my aunt and uncle, Gail is my mother’s older sister. She’s a buxom woman, big-boned, jolly, short black hair, and big glasses that seem to take up her whole face. She is boisterous, home-bodied, and talks with a lisp. Neil looked like Frank Sinatra in his day, is a comical man who’s always wise-cracking and making people laugh, but in the next breath can be completely serious and take you (or me anyway) off guard and keeps me guessing as to his deeper nature.

Gail and Neil lived in a small white house on the west side of Oshkosh, WI near fairly near the lake on Burdick Street. They had a red Explorer or some kind of SUV and a pot-bellied wood-burning stove in their garage. They both worked at the same factory and had no children of their own. Every so often my mom would take my twin brother and I to their home for a visit. Ross and I loved Gail and Neil, and a few things we did every time we came for a visit. Sun Drop. Gail and Neil could be counted upon to have a fridge full of Sun Drop at any time, it came in a green can with a big yellow drop on the can. We each got a can. Every time. Gail also had an old-fashioned style phone that looked like something Cruella DeVille would use. We loved this phone and always like to play with it.

Neil had a basic weight lifting set up in the basement, old-fashioned, maybe a few dumbells and a bench. We would go down and play with these for a few moments, and move onto the most exciting of all – the swords. Neil had two swords in the house – one similar to a Samurai sword and the other more like a daggar. We didn’t play with them, but we liked to look at them, unsheath them and be amazed. On each visit when went to find the swords, always in the same place – lingering around Neil’s work bench area with tools and other items a handy man might use.

It was curious to me that Gail and Neil slept in different beds, had in fact two separate rooms. Gail’s room had an old-fashioned hand mirror and brush on the dresser and may have had pictures of pheasants or hunting images on the walls. My memory is fuzzy. I remember being a little unsure whose room was whose, save for the brush and hand mirror, because they both seemed a bit androdgynous if not masculine.

There was also an attic where we were not allowed to go. In my memory the door to the attic was in the dining room and the stairs were steep, the walls painted a light shade of green, maybe close to sea foam. Grown-ups never seemed to like children playing in attics, what a shame!

Burdick…I know why that name sticks out…The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, a wonderful book. Remember?

I remember Gail had something of a fear of illness, I think. She came over once when I was getting over chicken pox and warned me not to touch or come near her. I thought she was kidding and giggled and touched her and she jumped and said, “Don’t you ever do that again!”

I remember two times when Gail came to babysit my brothers and I. One time she did not seem to like children very much because she would say things like, “I wish you were a T.V. so I could turn you off.” Then she wanted to play a game where my brothers and I would lay on the floor and whoever was the most quiet and the most still for the longest would win, the ultimate goal was to fall asleep. Pretty transperent, I thought, though I was competetive and played the game.

The other time Gail was only over for a half hour at absolute most and my brothers and I were arguing, like young children do and Gail said, “I’ve had it with your fighting. I’m leaving!” And we stood there, mouths agape, as she stormed out, got in her car and drove away. We were stunned. I remember thinking it was a joke and she was coming back. She didn’t.

And those are my standout memories of Gail of Neil. I love them, they are a bit strange and certainly set in their ways.

Pictures from the Denver Half Marathon:

And from a summer night…late July…

Abby The Real Thing is feeling great.

UB40 makes me happy.

And cucumbers in vinegar with pepper and salt.

A cold glass of milk after a long run.

Emmy and Ganny purring.

Dancing, music, laughing, drinking beer. Who doesn’t like those things?

On the radio today, a sport station, the guys were talking about 80s music and how it was fun and meaningless and wonderful, “like college football” they said. I thought to myself, I love both of those things. Then I thought, well what’s wrong with that, they’re both loveable and having a good time in life, having fun is really tremendously important, and I think a lot of times people forget about that.

I read some great quotes today by, of all people, James Taylor, Bela Lugosi, and Garrison Keillor. I was searching for quotes for my board at work, and I think it’s interesting to find what people have had to say. Oddly enough James Taylor and Bela Lugosi were both addicted to narcotics for decades at a time. I tend to doubt the same is true about Garrison Keillor, but who can say?

Yesterday was Ganny’s first birthday. Happy birthday, Ganny. He loves to destroy mini blinds, chase after Emma Sue, snuggle, and eat his food ravenously. Quite an independent personality, that one. He is like a big strong, white male unicorn in the body of a little white house cat. He has a bit of magick in him, that anyone can tell.

101.5 is a good radio station, that and 93.3, I think.

Food guide in Westword this week is cool, it interviews a bunch of local chefs from the good restaurants around town and asks them where they like to eat, where do they take friends who come to Denver from out of town. So many spots I haven’t been to. I love Denver for it’s expanse of wonderful places and opportunities to explore, but it remains manageable. It’s not like Chicago or New York, where I’d feel like I had to live there for a decade to really know it. I feel like Denver is my home, and it doesn’t scare me, doesn’t intimidate. It says, “Hey, come out and play, look at all my fun stuff!”

I went to high school with a girl named Stacey Garza, a Mexican-American girl who lived off of Waugoo St. on the bus ride home, the East Loop Tripper. I only took the bus my freshman year, and Stacey and I happened to be in the same gym class. One day she mentioned that her cat had several kittens, and if anyone wanted to take one, they were free. So, on the bus ride home that night I got off with Stacey at her stop and walked to her house. The kittens were small, maybe too small to be away from their mother just yet, but they were going nonetheless. I remember the kittens being of many different colors, but all dim like black, burnt orange, tans. I think they must have been mainly tortoise shells of the dark variety. There was one who was different, a light-colored tabby with a pretty face. She walked out from the rest of the group and confidently hopped up onto my knee and sat there looking at me.

She was undoubtedly the prettiest of the litter. “I want this one,” I said to Stacey.

“That’s Sunshine. Poua was going to take her, but I can call her and see if it’s okay if you have her.” I was a little worried because Poua and I had never been particularly good friends. We didn’t have any problems between us, but there was never a closeness, though our families had known each other for a long time, and we went way back to elementary school. To my surprise Poua agreed to relenquish little Sunshine, and the pretty little tabby who fit perfectly in the palm of my hand came home with me to 719 Oak Street.

The first thing my brother, Ross, said when he saw her was, “She’s way too small.” He was disapproving and warned of our mother’s reaction, though I was confident I could find a way to keep her.

My mom was really mad. I took the kitten to see her at her work, and told her I found her wandering around in the garage. Little by little I wore her down, and for years to come she would smoulder about it, angry that I had tricked her into letting me have another kitten. My mom was funny about animals.

And Emmy came into my life, and I’ve known her now for 12 years. She’s been through it all with me. Every boyfriend, every bad day, throngs of nicknames, three different states, too many apartments to count, fleas multiple times, put up with all sort of other animals. Emma Sue with her big green eyes and her creamy, fluffy belly, her knee socks and vest buttons. Emmy who loves to be near me probably more than anyone else. Her body type is strange, and people always call her fat, but it really isn’t that she’s fat. Her body is petite, her bone structure small, but she appears rotund in the mid-section, almost like a seal or a pheasant. She is moody, and many people don’t understand her, but I know she is a very loving little creature.

Emmy is very fond of brownies, ice cream, sardines, cat food, cookies, and tuna. She loved Jess Ader, Robbie Lane, Justin Dega, Jeff Linden, and Ben Kuklinksi more than I’ve ever seen her warm to anyone. She’s a major flirt when she wants to be.

She hated Gareth Becker in a way so fierce it appeared she was going through an exorcism when we would try to hold her. Living with those two wasn’t easy, especially not in an efficiency.

Emmy is a cross-country traveler. She hates going to the vet. She is happiest when she’s the queen bee, the only animal in the house. Cats are heirarchical animals, and for whatever reason, Emmy falls to the bottom of the totem pole in living situations with other cats.

She has a curious and heartwarming habit of defending the people she loves. When I am being pushed around or another animal in her home is being pushed around, Emmy has been known to come out of nowhere, push her fear aside, and defend us. She is a noble creature.

She loves to find nooks and crannies, small spaces, boxes, laundry baskets, suitcases, or milk crates and make a cozy bed. She is quite the mouser, and loves to go aside to roll around in the sun or lay underneath the house where it’s cool, and she can think.

I remember being an angsty teenager, crying on the steps of my childhood house, and Emma would come and find me and nuzzle my face, and I felt sure she was there to be a comfort, to be a friend.

Emmy is a curious little creature, and I think sometimes people don’t understand her or write her off as a cantakerous, boring old cat, but I know she’s full of surprises, and her history is rich and one she can be proud of.

Emma Sue ❤

I was just lying in bed thinking about Nancy Garcia, Peter’s mother. She has a job cleaning hearing aids. Every time I think of it, I feel like my heart breaks a little in some strange way. It seems like a dirty, sticky job, but somehow one that makes you love her for doing it. There are those people in the world who do those jobs like cleaning hearing aids.

My feet hurt. Running is wonderful, but not, I fear, the most natural or best thing for my body.

Tomorrow I’m going to Queen of Sheba, an Ethiopian restaurant where the head chef is a woman from Ethiopia, and it’s the first time I have finally been able to find someone who wanted to go with me because they love Ethiopian food too. I’m going with Po, who I don’t know very well yet, but who I think seems like a great person, and I’m looking forward to it very much. That pre-date feeling where you’re like…oh man, here goes nothin’. You try not to go in expecting much and just enjoy the person for who they are and don’t project any of your own bullshit onto them, just live in the moment and love life…spend some time with another cool human and eat some delicious food while you’re at it.

Probably a few times a week I wish I had NZT (see movie, Limitless), particularly when I’m at work in a meeting I am completely baffled by. If I had some NZT that scenario would go a lot differently. I’d be like, “Actually, might I suggest…” then I’d start speaking in Korean.

Going to Mountain Harvest Festival in Paonia with Josh next month, possibly others. Colorado wine country on the western slope. Peaches and wine and mountains and fall. Josh knows the spots to see some beautiful fall colors, mountains full of woods where the Aspens make it look like you’ve stumbled upon Lothlorien.

At Streets of London drinking an Agave Wheat and eating an enormous slice of pepperoni pizza. I can’t seem to quit these things, but why would I want to?

Drove to Alma yesterday morning with Ashley. We had a good day, had a couple of beers at the only bar in town, met a nice person, Jeremy McCullough and his dog, Charlie, a little French Bulldog with a lot of spunk. Jeremy lives in a teepee in the woods, an amazing teepee. We hiked to a turquoise pond, and I took up my usual habit of looking for the elusive heart-shaped rock, and was surprised to find they were everywhere, everywhere I looked I seemed to find them. Even the fire pit had ashes and burnt out embers in the shape of a heart. I took it as a good omen.

A strange shrine of some kind in the woods…

Jeremy’s teepee was incredible. He has solar panels and everything.

Cool frog table…

Little Charlie. I wish my boy had been there.

Alma before the rain…

Prissy

Jeremy brought out a big duffel bag and dumped the contents onto the floor of the tent. Out poured these…I said to him, “That’s the last thing I expected to come out of that bag.” Amazing. He crafts leather.

Can’t. Stop. EATING! Gahhh!

Anyway.

Whole lot of thrifting today. Aurora Goodwill and Arc. Flossy McGrew’s, funtastic! SoBo Goodwill. Some good finds!

Adventure Mom:

Adventure Dad:

Stefanie Shank, Zumba instructor and world traveler, back from five months living abroad in Argentina and Peru on just $4000, including airfare to and from South America and on the continent. Inspiring! And the lovely Lauren, a new bride.

Zumba!

Lord of the dance, Peter Garaffo

Annie having a bit of a laugh in the background:

Chocolate Fondue fountain, yummy!

A few from Annie’s 80’s birthday party at Rio:

Loretta Lynn is a badass. “Fist City”

I am getting so excited for fall. I think of falls past and they always seem comforting and beautiful and I only feel happiness in retrospect, despite anything that may have been happening at the time. I am very fortunate to have a car this year, and I am eager to take trips around the state to festivals and am very excited for the ski season! A few festivals I’ve heard of:

Oktoberfest of course at the end of September – Denver and Breckenridge and probably other places. Beer and food and wonderful things. Apparently there is a dachsund derby in downtown Denver (alliteration!). That oughta be a hoot.

Mountain Harvest Festival on the western slope in the town of Paonia, celebration of harvest (I love the idea of celebrating a harvest), live concerts, farmker’s market, beer and wine tasting, chili cook-off, arts, etc. Sounds beautiful and fun.

Chile and Frijoles festival in Pueblo. It says to come and taste the pride of Pueblo, a special intesely flavorful variety of green chile. Sounds insane. It is served on a stic, chopped and stuffed into a quesadilla and topped with salsa. All kinds of cultural things abound as well. Eee!

Would also love to take a New Mexico road trip, Taos and/or Santa Fe.

Applefest on October 1-2, moot point, sadly, as I will be in Wisconsin for the wedding of one, Ethan Kargus, and his bride-to-be, Bridget Thorpe-Kavanaugh.

I bet there are lots of apple festivals though. I want to do the whole thing. Jeans and a hoody, jump in the car one brisk October morning, go to a pumpkin patch and pick pumpkins, drink apple cider, eat a carmel apple, bake an apple pie, go through a corn maze, maybe a haunted house or two (Denver is supposed to have some great ones!)

Pumpkin beer in fall is just beyond. I love it. I love life. I love memories of good times. I love thinking of fall in Asheville. Fall in Madison. Fall in Oshkosh. The smell, harvest moon, the way love feels in the fall, somehow sweeter, deeper.

Football and long walks at night, stars that shine brighter, the looming threat of snowstorms that could start at any time. Coats and tights, boots, skirts and mini-dresses, hats, mitties, hair that blows in the wind, and wind is always present on the best of fall days.

I wonder if I can find some kind of harvest festival that celebrates the equinox. I would like to partake in something like that, a wonderful pagan gathering.

Tonight, Glitter Party, which I keep referring to as a quote. For instance instead of asking Ross what time the party was, I texted him, “I’m starting to doubt your commitment to sparkle motion.” He said, “Are you coming? It starts at 7.” Ha! Very excited about running. It’s getting easier and easier and feels better and better, especially as the days get cooler. I am thinking of a change of venue to Wash Park, check that out. Maybe yoga, thrifting, study for GRE, cookie baking, movie-going, book reading, a good weekend.

Also, a date!

Two songs that resonate lately:

“One Chance” – Modest Mouse

“A Lack of Color” – Death Cab for Cutie

My eyes hurt, Blog. I think it’s because I’ve been staring at a computer too long. Feeling quite like crawling into a hole in the earth at the moment, a hole that might mercifully take me to Wonderland. What would Wonderland be like if I got there? I think it would be beautiful countryside with enormous flowers in many different colors. Falcor, the luck dragon would greet me and we would fly around to different parts of Wonderland, and there would be no illnesses or aging or acronyms or org charts. There would be no accrued leave and if you asked someone to “CC” you on an e-mail, they wouldn’t have any notion what you were talking about.

My physician would be David the Knome. There would be a ring of trees in part of Wonderland that would go to each of the Holiday Lands like in Nightmare Before Christmas. On Wonderland, there is also the option of joining Star Fleet and training to be on something like Voyager. There would certainly be a Hollideck. The force would be real. It would be like The Neverending Story in that I could create things at a whim if necessary, but it would not do to abuse that power.

Soon I’m going to get out of here. I’m going bake chocolate chip cookes tomorrow. Tonight, run like hell and study.

I really want to see 30 Minutes or Less. It comes out this Friday. I’m going.

My boss talked to me today about a promotion, $4,000 a year more than I’m making now. Why do they ensnare me with practical things? I would be really glad if it only promised more things to do, meaninful things to do. Maybe it does, but I feel like I’m foundering, and a lack of connection with my coworkers. It perplexes.

Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam. The exchange rates:

1.24 Singapore Dollar to 1 USD. Every time I think of Singapore I think of stringent laws of cleanliness. No spitting out your gum, no littering, no throwing cigarette butts. Very bad. I also think of Brave New World by Alduous Huxley for some reason, but I haven’t read it nor have I been to Singapore. But, I think it is because I the idea of rigid laws and a strictly controlled society reminds me of 1984, but Singapore seems to nice to be like the Oceania of 1984. So, probably more like the Utopia of Brave New World? I ought to be fined for the rambling I do.

3.00 Malaysian Ringgits to 1 USD. I think it would be something sensational to ring in the new year in Malaysia. The towers in Kuala Lumpur. Borneo, Island in the Clouds. I have a picture of a volcano in Borneo surrounded by clouds as my desktop background. Borneo is on the island of East Malaysia though, I think, and really a separate trip.

Nearly 30 Thai Baht to 1 USD. I’ve been told the bugs are heinous, but that’s the only bad thing I’ve heard spoken about Thailand. Writing this makes me crave the peanut sauce at Bahn Thai in Madison on Willy St. Oh, Willy St. With the likes of the Wisco, Cha Cha Salon, the Weary, Jolly Bob’s, the Co-op and the Crystal Corner, how can I not love and lament you? From Thailand to Willy St.

20,964 Vietnamese Dong to 1 USD. $50 USD per day and you can have the time of your life. Authentic food in foods carts costs about $1, buses and airfare is cheap. The black market is big in Vietnam, and law enforcement is pretty nil where it’s concerned. Big city, white sand beaches, mountains, culture. Country of determined optimists.

4,184 Cambodian Riel to 1 USD. It is said that one can live it up on $20/day in Cambodia. Budget lodging can be found for as low as $2-5 USD/night. 1000 riel, or about .25 cents you can have a wonderful, authentic meal in Cambodia that will apparently compete with the best of Thai or Vietnamese food. Another fun fact: you can rent a motorcycle in Angkor for $6 a day. Biking around Cambodia would pretty cool.

8,184 Lao Kip to 1 USD. Three currencies are used in Laos. Thai Baht, USD, and the kip. It is perfectly acceptable to negotiate costs when buying something. The kip comes in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10, 000, 20, 000 and recently 50,000. Most flights on Lao Airlines are between $40-100 USD and bus trips are between $1-2 USD. You can get by in Laos on about $15/day.

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