Tuesday, November 4, 2008

who's pc? not me

In a world where everything is PC (in both senses of the word), I never expected to have access to something that not everyone else does. There is gloating. I, who am hopelessly square, and revel in that squareness, I who not only know what a Polaroid camera is, but actually used one at her wedding (ok, I shamelessly stole the idea of having a photo guest book from Shannon) and proceeded to marry the man who owned it. You remember those cameras that were a couple hundred bucks when they came out in the 70's and used some toxic waste that children in a third world country had to handle in order to get instant gratification from seeing our newly taken photos? Who didn't peel the back off to see what was inside? Did you touch it?

Now, your pencil/phone/shoe/whatever takes as many photos as you want whenever you want. It's so passe to take photos now. Not that they are even called photos - they are "digital images" in our never ending quest to be oh so PC - we mustn't offend the traditional photo.

But wait! I never though that the Polaroid would make a comeback and it would be so COOL!
This was a "digital image" (I am SOOO PC) that was passed through a Mac program called Poladroid. Yes, I ditched the PC for a Mac if you haven't tuned into this channel previously. Does that make me more or less PC?

OMG I love this program. You get fingerprints and smudges. And the crazy chemical green haze. You get to watch it develop on your desktop and the "camera" makes that "ch-cheeeee-click" too. Thank you Aaron. Sorry you can't use it cuz you only have a PC and PCs can't use this yet... More gloating. Go to http://www.poladroid.net/ and check out all the images that have been submitted. Super cool.

(photo above is from the Wellfleet Oysterfest)

Monday, October 20, 2008

back in the saddle

You can take a boy out of the pedicab business, but you can't take the pedicab business out of the boy. This year, Ptown Pedicabs participated in the annual Wellfleet Oysterfest and Randy made a guest driver appearance on Sunday. Here he is about to give a ride to Martha of the Left Bank Gallery. The pedicabs were met with an overwhelming amount of support from local business owners, residents and the Harbormaster (if you ever read this, THANK YOU for letting them use the power at your building). Claire Carroll and the Wellfleet Beachcomber have been long term supporters for the pedicabs - thank you too! (sorry about the photo - it's a cell phone dealy-o)

Monday, October 13, 2008

we have a bookmark

We have a little residency problem. When we moved in I thought there weren't going to be any more tenants here. I guess, it means we have a really cool house that others want to live in. I mean really though, doesn't everyone want to live here? The new squatters, I mean tenants, are small and gray and cute and obviously have thought long and hard about relocating to warmer environs as the temperature drops; they have elected the Towers as their winter vacation quarters. However, they don't want to pay rent and are content to live off the hard work of others. Not very productive or cooperative additions to the Trout Towers Commune. Mice.

Fatso and Slinky think that the new tenants are just GREAT! Toys that move by themselves. The 3 a.m. 100 yard dash at has just turned into the Decathlon. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy... I can only image what this sounds like downstairs. For the past two nights, they have had two new playmates to chase for simply hours and hours. Not much sleep on our end though. As the daylight approached on the first night, the chase slowed down and of course ended at the foot of our bed; the squeaking stopped, the cats fell asleep and we did too hoping that there wouldn't be grisly remains to step in later. Ew.

Fatso started scratching at the carpet about an hour later (we have several scatter rugs around), Randy threw a shirt at him to stop as he can be a little OCD about this. I mean Fatso, not Randy. Fatso then curled up on the shirt (he LOVES Randy's work clothes the best) and went to sleep. When I got up later and kicked the shirt aside with my toe in an attempt to launch it into the laundry basket, I felt a lump under the rug. As I just moved the rug there the day before, I was pretty sure it wasn't a sock or a warped floor board. Lifting the corner to peek, there was a very FLAT mouse underneath. Fatso has done him in by sitting on him. The best image I could find was this:
This is in fact what the mouse looked like and the cow's rear is about the size of Fatso's butt.

Last night, mouse II was chased and cornered similar to night one (ok, so we've had about 4 hours of sleep now) but this one hid in the suit bag on the floor and camped out for a while. When he made a break for it at dawn, Fatso flipped him over on his back and then Randy swooped in, grabbed the mouse and made for the front door where the (baby) mouse was hastily ejected. Slinky was pissed and quartered the floor in a vain attempt to relocate and perhaps eat, her new playmate. Fatso just looked blankly at the spot where his friend had been. Perhaps the flip was the final move before the coup de grace and the boom, I mean butt, came down.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

the penthouse at trout towers

Greetings from the latest space that we are calling home. We are fortunate enough to have been invited to live with the Trouts in their recently vacated second floor apartment. Recently vacated by them as they migrated to one floor down to enjoy single level living - no stairs required. A feature much touted by home sellers across this spit of sand we choose to live on. Part of the Trouts downward migration is the lure of recreating a space to live in. And they are doing it with enthusiasm. The results are nothing short of shocking; the entire energy flow of this house has changed completely and the results are simply astounding.

Living here is all a bit surreal I must say. I've been enjoying many a sojourn to the Towers for the past eight years (2 before my now husband came into the picture) and now pulling into the driveway, climbing the stairs to the Penthouse and opening the door to see our cats trotting up to see us is a little freaky. But right at the same time. Some of their furniture is still upstairs adding to the delusion that we've walked into the wrong house, and for this we are also grateful otherwise we would have nothing to sit on as our furniture is safely stored in the garage in CO. We've been enjoying th Trout's tv, couch, etc., that it feels as if we belong here. And I think we do.

It's pretty inspiring how this communal living works; we are a little interactive and interdependent community that shares what there is to offer. Food and laughter being the most frequent offerings. We are all on the same clock - at 6:30 a.m.-ish there is a thundering of small feet down the hall towards the kitchen. Sometimes it's the small human variety downstairs or the small feline variety upstairs. Amazing how small feet can imitate charging elephants so convincingly. There are chickens in the yard - less food is wasted as we can feed them left over rice, veggie scraps and more and they give us yummy eggs. There is a rhythm here that is soothing and energizing at the same time. We have the luxury of being able to recharge our personal batteries in a warm, loving, and safe home. This sanctuary is as close to our Colorado haven as we could possibly wish for. Oh, have we mentioned that the Trouts now have live-in babysitters as an added bonus?

"Stinky, put your pants on!" drifts up from the front yard. "Mommy, why?" Oh, maybe because there are soon to be a flock of pink clad six year old girls and their moms showing up any minute; now as I write this, there is a bevy of princesses sharing a birthday celebration with Pinky herself outside on the freshly manicured front lawn. There are pink ribbons and pink cupcakes and pink paper lantern-ish thingies in the trees. Stinky and two dads are the only men here - they are all sporting a deer-in-the-headlights glazed expression as the twittering butterflies make their shrinkie-dink party crafts. I'm hiding from the soccer moms although the siren's song of real frosting is a becoming irresistible (no box cakes or canned frosting here on either floor) and perhaps I'll be brave enough to meet new people and make conversation to obtain this tempting objective. Have I mentioned that I am not a fan of groups of people I don't know? What a pansy. Maybe I'll just sneak down and hide behind the dads. Oops, too late - the dads have vanished into man-town in the basement. Not even I am brave enough to risk that. Hmmmmmmm. Small talk for cupcakes - I hate these kinds of decisions.

Welcome to the next chapter in our travelogue.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

speaking volumes

I work in retail. Not my life's pursuit. It is however, a pretty rich source of daily entertainment for me. People are amazing on so many levels. Some you want to hug. Some you want to kick. Some come in and spend more on three paintings than I make in a year. Some can't seem to live another moment without purchasing a greeting card. And all those in between.

Of course, no matter what the financial situation seems to be, few of them actually say the word please. In fact, out of the first 20 customers yesterday, only one said please. Disappointing. But on to the story.

Sometimes you can have short conversations with customers while they are waiting for their gifts to be wrapped or while they are browsing. One couple spent an hour picking a number of little gifts and chatting with me while it was relatively slow. The last item selected was, of course, a bookmark. We have a container of very cool inlaid Mitercraft wooden ones on the sales desk and they have the effect of causing all those who see them to empty out the container, line them all up and systematically eliminate those deemed unworthy until, at last, the mother of all bookmarks is found and proudly handed over to be placed, oh so carefully, into a plastic sleeve to safeguard this most wonderful of treasures against the cruel world of traveling home to CT. Or PA. Or NJ.

This is not meant to degrade the lowly bookmark. Indeed, I have at least 100 lingering in books from here to CO. And always buy more. You see, I have a problem. I love books. And I buy them. Lots of books. My husband calls the bookstore "the babysitter" and when we are out doing errands for him (lumber yard, building centers, etc.) he always kindly offers to drop me off at the babysitter while he's busy. I can be entertained in this way for hours. The library has the same effect on me. Currently I have three books going, a book on my iPod and an audio book in the car's CD player. Oh, there's a book in the car too just in case I get stuck somewhere. My parents keep blankets and flashlights in their car for when they get stuck. Weird.

Back to the couple. While making his final bookmark selection, the husband mentioned going to Tim's Used Books in Ptown. So I commented, "you can never have too many bookmarks. Tim's is one of my all-time favorite places." The husband grinned hugely and said "me too!" (Note: couple was not native to this area and not everyone knows about this hidden treasure of bookdom). The wife looked at me and said "you read?" Why yes, yes I do. It was a skill learned early in my education actually. The fact that I look like a librarian is clearly meant to deceive you into believing I am an ignoramus incapable of working outside of the retail arena. Let me go back to my monosyllabic existence under this rock with my B.A. and M.A. degrees. Ha! That will teach you to judge this book by it's cover.

I am quite sure these thoughts was clearly displayed on my face (it's been noted that I have a "glass face") because the husband started immediately chatting about books, and what he's read lately and that he has the same problem with books that I do. The wife just looked puzzled. Maybe she's the one that goes to the lumber yard while he's at the babysitters'?

Why should it surprise anyone that someone else can read? Is it that no one does anymore? Parents have no time to read bedtime stories. College students download textbooks onto their iPods - no more slogging to the library before exams. Even on the beach, the destination of many a clandestinely read trashy novel, books are few a far between. Whatever happened to the whole concept of books? They represent a part of our society that is deemed outdated and has now been electronically, and maybe genetically, engineered to fit into our lives while losing the flavor in the process.

Take a moment to read a book to a child and see what happens. Take 10 minutes for yourself and pick one up and read a chapter. You'll be surprised.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

cape cod turkey?

I do like turkey. Smothered in all the goodness that comes with the tradition of Thanksgiving. Not so much in a sandwich or sausage. Oh my, I am hungry again apparently.

Early this morning as I was careening to a tea date at the South Wellfleet General Store, I almost provided the holiday dinner in advance. Directly in my path were a dozen wild turkeys. Eight of which were youngsters/large chicks? What does one call a mostly grown up turkey anyway?

Turkey factoid: European explorers took Wild Turkeys to Europe from Mexico in the early 1500s. They were so successfully domesticated in Europe that English colonists brought them back with them when they settled on the Atlantic Coast. The domestic form has retained the white tail tip of the original Mexican subspecies, and that character can be used to distinguish wandering barnyard birds from wild turkeys which have chestnut-brown tail tips.

Historical note: What is Cape Cod Turkey? Dried salt cod does not make a very exciting of dish, so 17th & 18th century New Englanders took to calling it (facetiously) Cape Cod turkey. Here's the recipe: Mix oysters, shrimp, bread cubes with spices; onion and garlic. Add wine and oil. Wash Cod inside and out leaving moist. Stuff with dressing and bake at 10 minutes on bake (medium) in microwave until fish flakes. Turn once halfway through cook time.

I need lunch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

heroism against the rudeness

Ok, so further entertainment from the store. A couple walks into the store and he promptly states "I need to use your bathroom." Well, like so many other businesses here in Town, we are prohibited by that same Town to allow the public to use their bathroom if it hasn't been inspected by the Health Department. Also, the thought of the great unwashed public using this already yukky loo skeeves me out. So I give my usual response to the oft asked question, "I'm sorry, we do not have a public bathroom. There is a restaurant about 500 yards away with a public toilet."

He goes outside and pees on the side of the building. OMG. He was about 50 and should have (hopefully) known better, or he could have at least gone around back so no one could see (like all the traffic on Route 6 driving by at a snail's pace); he just ranked right up there in the DEE-sgusting category. I certainly was not going to touch his money or credit card if he hadn't washed his hands now - EEEWWWW.

His wife calmly kept shopping.

When he came back into the store, I said, "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you both to leave. Using the side of our building as your toilet is unacceptable. Please shop elsewhere." (See, I said please!)

They both gaped at me, looked at each other, and left.

Do you think that this was the first time anyone called them out?

the magic word

Today at work I was again reminded how it seems that no one says the word please anymore. Or thank you. Or excuse me. Why is is that I am more surprised when someone actually says these small magic words then when they fail to? Hmmm.

"May I please try/see/touch this thingamabob?" has become "I want this." Oh really. I want a million dollars but that has about as much chance of happening as your saying please apparently. Rudenesss is becoming dreadfully commonplace. And that is simply unacceptable.

Rude people act rude because they think it is ok or that they can get away with it, and they will continue to do so until something makes them think otherwise. Every time you have the opportunity to confront rudeness, you have a chance to help reform that person’s behavior. It's like training small children. Be constant and consistent.

In all likelihood, it will take many confrontations to break the habit of rudeness. And, as we all are all probably familiar, it is much easier for an established habit be reinforced than broken. When you do not confront rudeness, not only do you forgo a chance at helping stop it – you actually encourage it by giving that person the positive reinforcement of getting away with it.

When was the last time you said, "please may I..." to the lady taking your order at the sandwich shop? Or "excuse me" when you bumped into someone or cut in front of them? If you were so rude as to cut? If we all made a concerted effort to think before we speak and act, and use the manners that our parents drilled into us as children, wouldn't the world be a little bit better?

Be the change you want to see in the world. Please.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

living in limbo

Coming back from CO posed one major problem - housing. We gave up a spectacularly beautiful apartment here when we moved out West. When we decided to come back, there was that terrible housing specter looming in front of us. Choosing to live in a seasonal community presents the issue of housing availability for more than a week at a time. And under $1,000 a week.

My friend from college let me stay with her when I came back from CO in May and that was fine except that my commute to a hourly job was 50 miles a day. Gas prices being what they are, I started losing money in a hurry just driving to work. My husband and I had agreed to rent a room from a brother of a friend (which cuts the commute to less than 10 miles a day) for an ungodly amount of money a month - oh well, can’t win for trying. I was back in the money pit that actually started during the winter (see previous entries). Finally hubby came back from CO in July so we could start looking for a house.

Turns out that this friend is going through a long and bloody divorce and we walked into the middle of combat. We live in a renovated garage with our two cats and the the house is now on the market to pay off the divorce. Lots of people constantly in and out with showings, his kids’ schedules and visitations (he does love his kids a ton which is awesome) and various other sociabilities. EGADS, what have we gotten into? On top of his constantly calling creditors, now the cable has been turned off. Waiting for the electricity to go next.

As social as we are and as much as we enjoy our friends, our “home,” wherever that may be, must be our sanctuary at all times. I’ve worked hard to keep that barrier against negativity, ill will, and bad intentions up and functioning around whichever sacred space I/we call home. All the places I’ve lived have been a haven in a world of chaos. I have to say, that despite the hours of cleansing and casting, this place is sucking us dry. There is so much discord and negative energy here, which I feel has been here for a long time, that this hurdle seems unbearably hard to overcome. We are finding ourselves depressed and unmotivated. Negative and apathetic. I can’t even cook here. I like to cook and take care of my little family and that is impossible to do here. When a Virgo girl can't take care of and nurture something, she may as well evaporate. So we decided to leave. Back to the rental issue noted earlier. A vicious cycle indeed.

Through all of this, we have decided to stay here and not go back to CO. This is where our friends and family are, and if you’ve read my blog, you know how important they are to us. Besides, as one friend who lived in Vail recently noted, Vail is full of vampires anyway, so we shouldn’t be sad to be away from there. But I DO love CO. Really. And I want to put the house on a flatbed and haul it out here. Tough decision. That lead to “let’s buy a house here” and so we’ve been looking, but not finding anything. Compounded with looking for the rental housing - the spiral continues.

But then, a small ray of light pierced the dark clouds. Trout Towers had a major personnel exodus resulting in the family being able to move into more spacious accommodations on the first floor. Which led to me jokingly saying to Lady Trout, now we can move in. Haha. Careful what you wish for as her response was, when can you arrive? OMG - really? REALLY???? Should I start the squealing now? Don’t joke with a Virgo about these things. As luck would have it, she really wasn’t kidding and we are indeed moving to Trout Towers. OMG again. Get us out of here. Let the squealing commence.

This isn’t a “out of the frying pan and into the fire” kind of thing which I usually get myself into, but a bona fide wonderful and unforeseeable turn of events. This is great for everyone. They don’t want tenants who will stay for years, we need a place to call home until we either find or build in the next several months and the rent exchange works out nicely to help keep the chickens fed. We like eggs.

More to come.

getting up to date

Recently I was told that it had been noticed that my blogging was severely lacking. I just don’t know where the time goes. What is it “they” say about good intentions?? Apparently I have fans of my blog so here is my intention to keep it up to date!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

tag, i'm it - again?

After not posting for some time, perhaps now that I have been tagged (again I might add), there is now some incentive for putting my life back out on the open road as it were. Susan has put the challenge out for 6 random things about myself. Random? Is anything I do random? How Virgo would that be? What one person thinks is random of course may be so perfectly part of one's character as to bypass the definition of random.

Here goes: I do not own or use a microwave under any circumstances; my sense of smell is far more sensitive than a human's should be; I am not a collector of any one thing and I am a very good shot; (these last three courtesy of my husband); I belong to the Society of Creative Anachronisms (medieval/renaissance re-enactment group) under the name Lady Gwereth Pendragon; I know how to, and do, use a quarterstaff and a broadsword; I live a mile from the ocean and intensely dislike boats and the open water (although I will kayak in protected waterways and ponds); I skipped a day of work to learn how to play croquet with three friends; all of my cars have had proper given names relevant to their personality (thanks Susan for reminding me that is random).

Whew, now that all of that nonsense is out of the way...

PS: Last random thing? I don't know 6 bloggers to tag that haven't been already.

THE RULES:

Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
Let your tagger know when your blog entry is up.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

on a sunny spring day in colorado springs

If you ever get a chance to visit Colorado Springs, make a point of going to the Garden of the Gods. Nature is truly amazing.

You may even get to see future Olympic champions (or wishful hopefuls anyway) racing around the Olympic Training Center's Velodrome.

Friday, May 16, 2008

where to start?

My posting enthusiasm seemed to have dimmed over the past 6 months as I struggled with no readily available Internet access, 500" of snow, working in a retail clothing shop (NEVER AGAIN) and generally living an upside down life 2 miles above sea level. I just never seemed to find the time to talk about anything.

Where to begin the story, hmm let's see. At the end of course. I'm sitting at my friend Val's computer since my Mac won't talk to her network. My Mac Book Pro that I will be paying off for the rest of my life. So, forgive the text with no phun photos. I'll post some when I'm at one of my many Internet pit stops between here and Wellfleet (thank you Susan, the Comber and the library).

Oh yes, I am back on Cape Cod, living at a friend's house and out of my car with no cats and no husband. Fun you say? Think again. I did get married to spend the rest of my life with one person and although many of my married friends cannot WAIT to get away from their husbands (this always saddens me - why did you get married to someone you have to get away from?), I am miserable without him. I feel that half of me is just not there. He doesn't define me, he makes me a better person. I wish that for all marriages, otherwise, what's the point?

He's still in CO finishing a job that could put a down payment on a house here (more on that later) and waiting for the snow to stop so he can put a roof on the house there. Another 30" of snow has fallen since May 1 and I hear that Aspen is going to open for the weekend. It's raining here on Cape Cod. And gray. And damp. And LOTS of pollen and bugs. Neither of which are at altitude. Just snow.

My very generous friend Val, who is hosting my spring residency at the moment is very sick, has a toddler boy, a husband, 2 dogs and a cat all demanding places on her attention pole. I'm trying to keep as tiny a footprint in their busy house as possible so as not to disrupt the flow of things here. And there is indeed a flow - a very fast one at that. My minimal presence here is easy because I have 3 jobs. Yes 3. You see, I took a job at a ski shop this winter and although karmically it was a great thing to do as I was helping out 2 friends, financially it was a disaster and I am hemorrhaging money. No good deed goes unpunished. Living on credit cards is no way to be and that became my existence. I see how people really get into trouble so quickly when the car breaks down, bills need to get paid, groceries bought, unexpected expenses arise and the income is remains so limited.

Employers seem to be the same everywhere. $10-12/hour seems to be the "top dollar" anyone is willing to shell out and then they complain that the employees stink. What the hell do you want for $10? You get what you pay for. What would happen if you thought of employees as one of your company's assets rather than as a financial liability? One of my employers does just that. Funny with this attitude they seem to have many employees who have been with them for over 15 years whereas many companies can't keep anyone over a year (national average). Funny that their loyalty to their employees results in employees' loyalty to them. Kudos to the Wellfleet Beachcomber.

My trip across country at the end of April was fantastic. Our friend Mike, who is a white water river rescue instructor (Mather Rescue) among many other things, was actually headed to New England from CO. He agreed to tow my car, we met in Denver at 11am on a Monday and by Tuesday 9:30pm we were pulling into his girlie's house in RI. Nice. Sleeping more than a few hours was not an option but I didn't mind. Really. He was excellent company and we talked about everything. I have to say that he is truly one of the most interesting people I know. I wasn't even worried about spending 30+ hours in a car with someone I didn't know super well. First stop - Chic Fil A. Excellent. Second stop - Nowhere Nebraska. Really, that is what the sign said. Many cokes, snacks, combos, Twinkies, Maid Rites (in Iowa only), Subways, truck stops, candy and one unauthorized pit stop (made by me of course) later, we arrived in New England to be greeted by Stouffer's french bread pizzas - my favorites. How did they know?

Saying good bye to my friends in Vail was sad. When you work so closely with people for a long period of time, they do indeed get to be like family. I really liked everyone I worked with and now see why the shop continued to do as well as it does. The manager, who is one of my husband's best friends, keeps the crew together & happy (despite the owner's best efforts to the contrary) I will miss them and truly hope to see them again. Saying good bye to my husband and cats was miserable.

So now my life goes on after my winter adventure. Onto the summer!

Monday, April 14, 2008

my Colorado back window

Looking outside my back window this year did not reveal the flocks of robins or the songs of peepers that are the harbingers of all that is Spring. The hillside still has snow (30" since May 1):
And on that hillside there are lots of these:
And some of these:

hair bears

My husband has been seeing an accupuncturist for thinning hair.  Do you think it's working?
Like my new hat?
The puffy coats are still in use as it is, indeed, still snowing.  Grand total is now just shy of 500". 

at last, the internet arrives!

It's all very exciting.  This newfangled internet business.  Do you actually capitalize the I?  Not sure.  AP Style Guide and Chicago Manual are conflicted.  So much to know.

My little town, where cell phones don't work, Comcast doesn't believe exists (really), and which covers less than a square mile of land, just has been introduced to the World Wide Web.  For real.  It took building a hotel (The Green Bridge Inn) and the investors involved to bully the phone company into bringing a T1 over 10 miles to us so that we could have contact with the universe.  

::Applause::

So, for a girl whose business depends on this new technology, as well as her social outlet with friends 2,000 miles away, I can finally catch up on the 6 months of inactivity.  

Excellent.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

at last, a blogging breakthrough

A few days ago, I was tagged. By my friend Susan who always looks out for me and makes sure I am included. I have a fear of not being included. Indeed of being Left Out Completely.

Apparently there is a blogging equivalent of not being kissed before your 16th birthday which is not being tagged for a meme (I'm not sure what a meme is but I think I don't want to be one?) before your first blogiversary. What's that? Of course, I had not been tagged. Uh oh, I was on the verge of Being Left Out and I didn't even know it.

So I promptly emailed Susan for clarification, because, as a Virgo, I must have complete clarification on all aspects of everything before I can begin the meticulous planning involved with all parts of my life. It's very involved I assure you.

So here I go with the necessary steps of being tagged. First, here are the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share five random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
3. Share the five top places on your “want to see or want to see again” list.
4. Tag a minimum of five random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment in their blog.

So I'm good on the first 3 rules, but what about the last two? Is this like a bad chain letter that you will be cursed at for forwarding? Let me start with the first three things while I decide on the last two.

1. She's been linked since I began my own blog and the rules are posted.
2. Five things about me:
a. I was Greta in the Sound of Music production put on by my summer camp St. Margaret's Episcopal Camp for Girls in S. Duxbury, MA because I was the only small white blonde girl there. It's no longer a camp but it still exists. My mother went there too and almost became a nun (bonus weird fact).
b. I am adopted and have no interest in discovering my "birth parents" however, if they tracked me down, I would love to meet them.
c. I moved to Vermont for seven years based on nothing more than falling in love with snowboarding.
d. I refuse to wear the color orange and believe that polka dots are a sign of madness. (i.e. Joan Crawford).
e. Local newspapers from three different states all had me on the front page with my mouth open.

3. Five places:
a. New Zealand because of the beauty of Mt. Hutt and also cus the Lord of the Rings was filmed there.
b. Nova Scotia after my parents visted there and showed us the photos. Yes please.
c. Martha's Vineyard (Chilmark) again and again and again because we love it.
d. The Four Corners and the Grand Canyon (can't decide which here).
e. Italy - all of it. Over several months.

I'll have to get back on the tagged blogs - stay tuned!

keeping up with the Joneses

There is a bumper sticker out here that reads "Vail - perfecting the art of keeping up with the Joneses" and how true it is. Like nowhere else, Vail is about being a Who in Whoville and being the biggest and best at it. Not just having the most money, living in the biggest house and having the most toys, but being the best skier, the best road biker, having the biggest diamond, the most plastic surgery, the grossest fur coat, etc. Being The Best. Always and Forever.

I have to say that the majority of people here, both visitors and residents, subscribe to this philosophy. It's really a crying shame that people are so superficial. Is it this way everywhere? Or just here. As Vail is developing a multi billion dollar a year industry, the humaness has left. In very short order.

Quality of all kinds has certainly left the valley for other locales. Multi million dollar houses are being built that have windows that aren't level. With fixtures that don't work. All for people who will not even notice that the floorboards are warped. Meanwhile, a local free bus service ceased stopping at the Wal-Mart/Home Depot plaza because the town didn't want to pay for it anymore. The bus service still continues in the rest of that town. It was estimated that over 5,800 people a month used that stop in the winter. BTW - the Wal-Mart is pretty much the only grocery store in town and Home Despot has driven out all of the home supply and hardware stores. Home prices are soaring and property owners are complaining that taxes are going up - surprise?! Taxes for schools and public services are being voted down by the same home owners who don't want thier money going to places that don't directly benefit them.

Most of Vail Valley surrounds I70. The busiest highway in the country. Truckers using I70 are being forbidden a truck stop in which they can chain up to go over Vail Pass or rest on thier way across country. Complaints about the noise of idling trucks abound. Currently, truckers have to pull into the breakdown lane and be in traffic to put tire chains on. All because, apparenly, the homeowners did not truly realize that I70 was a highway that actually was used by any type of vehicle when they purchased their million dollar homes. They'd rather have truckers in danger (2 were killed this year already) than traffic noise. Hmmm.

The elk population is being thinned out because they are showing up in people's back yards and the golf courses. Did someone not realize the elk lived here first? There are shops that sell jeans for $900 and pay their staff $10/hour.

When the race for money is on, the human spirit seems to flee. Why is that? It bothers me to the extreme that the pursuit of money destroys what basic thoughtfulness people may have had. Even though much of our culture and society no longer promotes the golden rule or even the niceties of human interaction such as please, thank you and excuse me.

Perhaps my husband & I are jaded by the people that surround us at home - there is no competition among the Usual Suspects even though there very easily could be with the variety of social and economic backgrounds. No one cares about the Accomplishments, the American Dream status, the Employment excellence, the Education, the TV or SUV size, blah blah blah. Are you a good person? Do you have values and morals that you stand behind? Do you care about the world around you? Are you fun? Can you cook? Perhaps this insulation of like minded people has made us think that perhaps the rest of society should interact this way.

Well, why shouldn't it?

a night to remember

Recently my husband and I went out on a date night. No really - a full date with dinner and a show included!

Finally, a chance to dress up in clothes that didn't say Marmot, North Face or Patagonia (the uniform de riguer here in the mountains). Real shoes instead of Sorels. Suede pants, button up shirt and my black biker boots (note to self - do NOT wear treadless shoes in mountains between October and May - how do people live in Danskos here?). A chance to wear those clothes that I just HAD to tote across country positive that I would need them on a regular basis.

Dinner was not Mexican fare. Instead, we splurged on The Grouse Mountain Grill. A five star restaurant in Beaver Creek. A 40 page wine list. The car was valeted, we were ushered in at the appointed reservation time and we were seated overstuffed, wood-framed upholstered chairs by the floor to ceiling windows which had a spectacular, panoramic view of the Beaver Creek & Vail valleys. We were Somebodies! Yes, Randy had the chops pictured on the site - pretzel coated pork chops with a honey mustard sauce and brussel sprouts - how could he POSSIBLY resist that?? Dinner was unbelievable, perfectly served and portioned, the waitstaff friendly and professional, and in fact, with the prices being what they are in many of the establishments here, the cost was actually comperable to many other places. So why would we even consider dining at a lesser rated place?? I mean really. Dessert was chocolate crème fraiche cheesecake with chocolate truffle topping & lemon scented chocolate cookie crust.

We then un-valeted and parked in the heated, yes, I do mean heated at 65 degrees, parking garage and walked up to the glittering Vilar Performing Tarts Center, I mean Arts, to see Keb' Mo', who by the way, is an absolutely amazing blues singer/performer. He was performing solo - just him and a selection of guitars for almost 2 hours to the most rapt audience ever. This venue is a fairly new structure and what an acoustically perfect building! It seats 500 and there is not a bad seat in the house. Here's where we sat.
What a night!! And the best part, we were home by 10:00 p.m. which for us is the magic hour in which we turn into pumpkins. Yay - date night!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

a tree survives in colorado

A much earlier post lauded the aspen tree and it's wonderful addition to our homestead here in the snowy West. Here's how it's doing now.
The way I see it, we won't ever have to water it again. Ever.

Monday, February 4, 2008

snow anyone?

The snow is about 100" deep in places and Randy has shoveled the roof at least 5 times now.
The neighbor's car in the alley behind the house. I dont' think 4 wheel drive is going to help...



sometimes they are worth it

Most of the time "forwards" bug me. You know the ones, if you don'r respond to this, you'll have bad luck, your nose will fall of, no one will like you, etc. The ones with the horrible grammar and punctuation and unusual placement of capital letters. You all know the ones of which I speak. But sometimes, you can cull the crap out and the dire consequences for failure to conform and there remains some tiny nugget of goodness left over. Like a waxy piece of chocolate coating from a Ring Ding. Here's some chocolate:

"Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here we might as well dance!"

"Whenever [insert diety of choice here] closes one door He/She/It always opens another, even though sometimes it's hell in the hallway."

Good friends are like stars... you don't always see them, but you know they are always there.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Susan, this one's for you

I have a friend. A level A1 friend. That's the kind where you pick up the phone and just start talking. She's made me laugh, cry and pee my pants. Yes, really. We've talked about everything there is to talk about and lived parallel lives until we met. I've talked to her belly when she was pregnant (twice) and didn't care who saw me. I love her children beyond all reason. Who knew that there really could be that kind of person out there.
So my friend, here's a small gift for you. I lived your parallel CO life for just a brief moment and it was great.
Here I am and I LOVE this trail. Yes, I am wearing a helmet and there is not a short bus to be found anywhere.

Sunday: Up the Summit Express to Mozart to Santiago Express to North Peak to Fox Trot to Outback Express to the Outback (11,980' above sea level). This is the view looking towards Breck. Down Porcupine (my favorite) back up and then down Elk Run to Wayback lift to Starfire back up Santaigo to Prospector to Mozart to Ruby Express to Wild Irishman to Montezuma Express to Spring Dipper/Santa Fe and then to the condo at Timber Ridge. All while giggling uncontrollably and thinking of you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

wool anyone?

Today it was -15 degrees at our house. Shirley barely turned over and after a half hour warm up, the stick shift actually moved. Yikes! It snowed over 43" last week alone and more is on the way. The glorious blue bird sky and soaring temps of 45 made it all worth it yesterday as we snow shoed along Meadow Mountain. On the cliff side across from us were a dozen elk doing elk-like things. Magpies soared overhead and squawked their "lovely" songs. Then, later as night fell and the full moon bounded over the horizon, all of the snow reflected the moonlight and it was beautiful. A perfect Colorado winter's day and night. Breathtaking all of it. But guess what, it's snowing again...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

and they said let there be snow

Snow to the left of us:

Snow to the right of us:

Snow behind us:
Egads!! We're surrounded! It's been snowing pretty much since Thanksgiving and there are several more feet out there than depicted. We should thaw out around August 2nd before it starts up again... Are you all still coming to visit? There are extra snowshoes available.










watching humanity

I realize that I've been amiss in my posting duties and for all of you perched on the edges of your seats awaiting the next riveting installment; I apologize profusely for shirking my duties so thoroughly.

You see, I've been busy watching the phenomenon of humanity here in the greater Vail Valley. Vail you say? Home of the Richie McRichers? (thank you Toph for that apt description) Aspen's brother (or sister) in the family of mega-expensive resorts? Then why do people complain about paying $4.95 for a chapstick? Why are there 5 pages of help wanted ads in the local newspaper? Why do only 30% of the population speak English as a first language? Why is no one skiing here? Didn't this used to be a skier's mountain?

These questions and more have been swirling about my newly un-blonded head and here I will pose my thoughts and opinions - which do not necessarily reflect those of the people around me here (but mostly they do).

Observation #1: There is a money problem here in Vail. Just like Cape Cod but on a much, much higher level. Actually the rich who live here make the rich who live in Chatham or Nantucket look like homeless beggars. I mean really - $13M for a 2 bedroom condo? Which was purchased only to have $7M in upgrades done to it? Shouldn't $13M buy you an already PERFECT place to live? With all furniture, housewares, maid(s) and food pre-installed?? This just happened in a new Vail Resort's building called Arabelle in Lionshead which is at the foot of the Eagle Bahn gondola at Vail. I think that this condo was the one next to the one Oprah bought. Which, as an aside, now explains why EVERY person is wearing Uggs here. And I do mean everyone. Oprah's coming people! Better buy everything on her O List and do it fast! Uggs are sold out at Zappos until March I understand. Sorels are better anyway. Oh, that's right, I actually wear winter shoes for going outside and doing things like, say, starting my car and shoveling the walk. Ha!

Observation #2: There are 5 pages of help wanteds. I repeat, 5 pages of jobs for a valley that is 3 miles long and 1 mile wide. Local businesses are hurting big time to fill open positions. Rents are astronomical ($3-9K for a house/month + utilities), however, employers are only paying $10/hour. So how do you pay the rent? You move to Eagle and Gypsum of course. The McRichers complain that there is no one to haul their luggage and serve them at restaurants. That there are only foreigners here to do it all those things they require to make their world go 'round. Well, those foreigners are living 14 to a house and have 3 jobs apiece (there is quite a large seasonal population here from Argentina, Brazil and Bulgaria). On the flip side, if you have a admin/clerical/professional bent, you can have full bene's in a month including dental and life insurance and a ski pass. And start at $18/hour. Actually, you can scoop gelato in Arabelle for $18/hour too. But there are no bodies to fill even the "great jobs" here. Employers (including my own) don't see the need to up wages and property owners have to pay off their soaring mortgages before their values hit the toilet when their neighbors foreclose. Oh, there were 2 pages of foreclosures in the paper last week too.

Observation #3: Illegal labor. OK, I'll say it. Illegal immigrants are taking a huge chunk of the open job market as they will work for far less money. That is a indisputable fact. Period. However, they are primarily in the construction and restaurant business here in the Happy Valley which are the jobs many seek when they aspire to be ski bums (and don't have a trust fund). This influx of cheap labor has the added bonus of inner-racial tensions. The illegals from Mexico HATE the Mexicans born here (or who are naturalized) and they all HATE the Mexicans from Mexico City. And Spaniards. And Hondurans can't be near Equadorians. Seriously, why has no one noticed this before? If I see it, then it must be pretty obvious as usually I am oblivious to that sort of thing.

Observation #4: Bad fur. Really bad fur. If you own a fur coat, shouldn't it at least be attractive? If you have any say in it's purchase or display, shouldn't it be stunning? There are a LOT of UUUGG-LEEE fur coats here. I can't even think about the morality involved with the fur issue. I feel sorry that many of the animals' lives were clearly wasted in the making of these monstrosities.

Observation #5: People are still nice at heart. The majority of people I believe are nice at heart. We've all just lost our way in the chaos of life. When you smile at someone or say "have a nice day" it really does work and come back to you. Society is so caught up on being bigger, better, faster, more and focusing on the individual that we've all forgotten how to interact with our neighbor. Video games and computers keep us away from interacting with others in a positive manner. I like the idea of the Wii video games that actually get several people together to play but why don't they just go to the bowling alley instead of playing a virtual game? I try to make a point of being nice and positive to everyone I meet. Even if they are a complete asshole. Perhaps they will be inspired to pass it along and who knows, maybe we can start being a society of interactive people again. It has to start somewhere.

Observation #6: Plastic surgery. There is a lot of that here. I've been told it's like an addiction - once you get something lifted, tucked, tweaked, pulled or removed, you need to have more. A woman I know works at a local dermatology clinic that does plastic surgery as well. A client came in to have her earlobes plumped. That was just the start. Egads! What the heck is wrong with getting old? It happens and is unavoidable. Do it with grace and love what the Universe gave you. Having yourself cut and scarred or injecting diseases into your body in the name of beauty is NOT worth it. Ever.

Observation #7: I can never remember all of the blogs I want to write. Need to keep lists. As soon as I go through all of the previously written lists.

More soon from the Wild, Wild West....