Sunday, February 9, 2020

RIP Speed Racer

On November 24, 2014 the sweetest kitten ever was abandoned in a cardboard box in a grocery cart in the middle of an aisle in Safeway. My boss' wife saved "her" and brought the kitten to the college, where I immediately laid claim to the tiny bundle of fur.

And then we got home and the yet-to-be-named kitten decided Jay was "her" human.

A few days later, we agreed on Abby as a name. I swore it was short for Abandonded Kitty, Jay said it was short for Abigail. We didn't have to agree on what Abby stood for, we were just happy to have a name for the kitten. Fast forward a few weeks, I was laid up in bed after another dental procedure and Digger was playing with Abby. Just as I was about to nod off, he called from the living room, "Mom, I thought you said she was a girl. These are definitely balls." When I managed to crack my eyes open and focus, there they were - a pair of fuzzy black balls. I guess "Abby" was a lot younger than we thought when we brought her.. er... him home.

Abby became Speed Racer and we loved that shitten with every bit of our cold, dead hearts. He was a ... special ... cat. His elevator didn't go all the way to the top, but everyone who met him loved him.
On November 17, 2019 he went on a walk-about. We thought we lost him forever. Speed Racer *NEVER* failed to come when called. After a couple of days, we were pretty certain that he'd gone to the Heaviside Layer, though in a small part of our formerly cold, dead hearts, we both hoped he'd show up.
Pongo was really sad and moping around that Speed Racer was gone; he became incredibly needy and went back and forth between me and Jay. He was truly despondent that his brother was gone.

After a couple of weeks of Pongo being so needy, Jay decided Pongo needed a new brother, so off to the Cat Rescue we went to adopt Pongo someone to play with. I wasn't sure I was ready to move on from Speed Racer, but Pongo was driving us absolutely bat guano with his neediness, so we brought home Chief.

Elli's text on December 16, 2019 only said, "Speed Racer!". He came back! He was in really bad shape. 

You can see the tracks he left when he came up out of the cornfield.

An optimistic estimation of his body condition score put him at 1-2. I was fairly certain that he'd come home to die, but each day he got a little stronger and stronger.  By the time we left for Vegas, his body condition score was a solid 3, headed toward 4.

Chief took it upon himself to help Speed Racer heal by cuddling with him every chance he had. He took immediately to Speed Racer and when he wasn't busy terrorizing Pongo, he was cuddled up to Speed Racer, purring away.

Where Speed Racer went, Chief went. You can see how thrilled Speed Racer was.

Speed Racer has always been an anxious cat, and despite L.E. spending time and loving on him, he dropped some weight while we were gone, but he was still a solid 3.
But the last few days, he just tanked. Monday, the only thing he would eat were cat treats. Tuesday, he turned his nose up at them, so off to the vet we went. I hoped it wouldn't be a one-way trip, but in my heart I knew.

Probably liver failure, common in formerly obese cats (he was running 17#, easy, before he went on his walk-about) who lose a lot of weight rapidly.
Speed Racer, a whole lot of people loved you and prayed for you when you went missing. Even more cheered when you came home. You're going to be missed, Good Boy.
October 2014 - February 4, 2020

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

My Boys

I know we've probably all seen that meme and have laughed. But when I see it, I count my lucky stars that all of the men in my life get along. I'm sure I've written about it in the past, but when I see them hanging out and having fun my cold, dead heart just swells.

L->R: Jay, Mez, me, Robbie

Robbie and Mez were among the group of shooters who immediately took me under their wings when I was a baby shooter. I've written in the past about the importance of shooting buddies over on The GunDivas, but I don't know that I've talked here about how important it is for women to be surrounded by men who believe in them.

"My boys" are every bit as important to me as "my girls", and it might have been even more important to me that they approve of, and get along with, Jay. You see, my boys helped me heal from a bad break-up, though they didn't know it. My girls helped too, but in a different way. My girls listened to the sobbing and angst that went along with having my heart broken. My boys showed me my worth and believed in me. They treated me with kindness and respect without ever knowing how damaged I was. They accepted me for who I was: a new shooter who was willing to pull her own weight and learn the ropes. There might have been some hesitation at the very beginning, simply because the majority of the (very few) women who attended the shoots were there only to appease their significant others, so they didn't know what to expect.

There are some people who say that it's impossible for people of opposite genders to be friends, but I don't believe that at all. In fact, I think it's critically important to have friends of opposite genders.

There are lots of studies out there about how important a father figure is in a child's life, or failing that, a good male role model. I want to throw it out there that it's not just children who benefit from from good male role models. Having quality men in my life as an adult showed me how I deserved to be treated. I have a great father figure in Bill, but that's not the same as having friends who showed me, through their actions, what I could and should expect.

As important as it was for my girls to approve of Jay when we started dating, it was every bit (maybe more) important for my boys to approve of him. It was equally important that Jay not be threatened by my male friends. As a society, we tend to talk about strong women, but we don't talk about strong men. Let me tell you, it takes a strong man to go into a relationship with a woman who is surrounded by men she has a history with, and who she loves in the same way she loves her girls.

Maybe that's why this picture means so much to me. I have spent a great deal of time this week counting my blessings that Jay and my boys melded so well. Every time I see them together, my heart swells. It's not just Mez and Robbie who Jay gets along with, I'm talking all of my male friends. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Family Bonding

Monster, my youngest, moved to Arizona a year or so ago. He does that, gets itchy feet and moves. He's the one of my three who just packs up and moves, always has. I'm not brave enough to do that, I'm a Colorado girl through and through and can't imagine living anywhere else (except when it's below zero, then the thought flits across my mind).

Deejo and his family moved back to Arizona a year ago, after Monster did. Now, Monster lives with Deejo's family and it seems to be working.

That was a round about way of saying that I haven't seen my brother or my son in a while. Nebalee found us cheap airfare, so we flew out to spend a few days with them.

It was so good to see my Monster (and the rest of the fam, obvs). We spent one night sitting on the couch, watching hockey. I can't remember the last time I got to hang with him and yell at the TV.

Since we had some free time and wanted to go do something, we put on our thinking caps and came up with axe throwing. I don't know who had the idea, or even where it came from, but that's what we came up with. I got on Groupon and found a place nearby that was reasonable. Nebalee and I got everything organized and the next day, off we went.

We had a 90-minute session that included some very basic instruction and practice, then we broke up into teams and competed against each other. We started with two-handed throwing, to get the hang of it, then went to one-handed. Because I like to be able to do things ambidextrously, I tried throwing both right- and left-handed. Monster and Deejo also played along with the non-dominant hand practice.

Asset, Nebalee's daughter, was apprehensive at first and didn't really want to keep going after her first couple of throws. It's deceptively harder than it looks. But then she got the hang of it. She got the hang of it so well that she was the only one on our team to put any points on the board when we were playing 21.

Team Axcellent
Team Axekickers

Check out the witty, axe-themed nicknames
I was fairly confident that our team (Axekickers) was gonna kick Axcellent's axe, but they beat us two of three games. It's all good though, we had a great time and the games helped us get out of our heads while we were throwing, and get comfortable. The last game we played was "Survivor" and it was each person for themselves. I was feeling pretty confident, as was everyone else. Holy cow! Asset started off strong and kept going. She beat three or four of us in a row before getting knocked out. Luckily, we all had two lives to lose, so she had the opportunity to come back and redeem herself.

Asset had a bit of a rough start to the day, but stuck with it and started kicking everyone's axe. Monster took to it like a duck to water. The rest of us were pretty hit or miss. She and Monster probably threw the best, each with a handful of X-ring throws in a row. If I had laid down a bet, Asset or Monster would have been the two I'd put my money on to win.

Then Nebalee stepped up. Asset had just thrown three (or was it four) bulls eyes in a row. They stepped to the line together, mother vs daughter, and Nebalee threw her axe. It wasn't a great throw, but it stuck in the 3 ring. Asset threw her axe and I don't know what the hell happened, but her axe throwing mojo completely disappeared. Like - *poof* - gone. Nebalee had successfully knocked Asset out of the competition and had to face Monster, who had also been kicking everyone's axe.

Nebalee had her best throw of the day and ended up victorious. I'm sure if I was a better writer, I could write a tear jerker of a screenplay about how the underdog came from nowhere and beat the two best throwers with the best throw of the day. Just imagine the slo-mo montage with inspirational music as we watch her axe leave her hands and rotate toward the target. The crowd erupts in cheers and the loser gives her a heartfelt congratulations. Everything is right in the world.

The whole thing was so much fun, but there was one last throw I wanted to try: two axes at a time! If throwing one axe was fun, throwing two had to be twice as fun. It was.

Now, some people might raise an eyebrow at using axe throwing as family bonding, but it was incredible! I think that this is something we'll have to do on the regular. We don't have a nearby axe bar (yet), but once it opens, I'll be taking my other heathens for some mom/heathi bonding.

Friday, August 23, 2019

I Must Be Broken

All the back to school posts and weepy mommies seriously make me think there is something broken with my maternal instincts. Not once did I cry about my kids going to school - it just wasn't traumatic to me, though obviously it is very traumatic for many, many parents. School was just what the kids were supposed to do: it was their job; a rite of passage; something to be celebrated, not mourned.

I've never been the mother who wanted childhood to last forever. I looked forward to my kids growing and learning. I have wonderful memories of my kids when they were little, but I don't ever wish that they didn't grow up so fast or that we could have spent more time in a certain time period.

This time every year, I start wondering what the hell is wrong with me that I didn't feel the loss so many parents do. But then I remember that my kids think I'm a pretty kick-ass mom, despite my lack of maternal emotions, and their opinions on my child rearing abilities are all that matter.

Tree ammo, Heathi :)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Reflections on GISH

The GISH Hunt List was long and daunting, but our team #GoodMishaMigos, managed to complete 35 tasks. I know there are a lot of teams - the "In It To Win It" teams - who did a lot more than we did, but everyone on our team signed up just for fun and we all had fun.

We were an international team, we had two from Great Britain, two from Germany, and five of us from the States. The amount of artistic talent we had was amazing, excepting yours truly who can barely draw a stick figure, and the entire team was incredibly supportive of each other. I would say that the experience was very much like my experience with NaNoWriMo in that it broadened my horizons, forced me to meet people I wouldn't otherwise meet, and have a great time.

One of the tasks was to create GISHemon cards, which one of our teammates took on and I love how they turned out. It's a good example of the amount of creativity in our team.

When I registered for GISH, I just thought it would be a cool thing to do, but I didn't really realize the worldwide impact.  Each year, the powers that be determine where in the world GISH is going to focus. This year, Laos. Before GISH even began, "we" (the GISHers) funded the clearing of unexploded ordinances from 25 farms in Laos.

Apparently, every year, there is a "mystery" charity that is announced halfway through the hunt and the money raised goes to the charity. This year, the Change A Life: Laos challenge was to raise $150,000 to send prosthetic technicians to Laos to fit children who had lost limbs with prostheses. In under 48 hours, the $150,000 was raised. I found that absolutely incredible, but the money kept coming in. The first $150,000 was earmarked for prostheses, but anything above that went to support a team of four women who remove unexploded bombs from farms and communities in Laos. We ended up raising an additional $80,000!

The focus wasn't just on helping people on the other side of the world, many of the GISH challenges involved helping our local communities, all while having fun. Countless donations were made to shelters, 10,000 trees were planted, and the world, for a week, was made a kinder, gentler place.

While I do not generally agree with Misha Collins' politics, I can 100% get behind the fact that instead of just whining that "someone needs to do something", he's putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak. He has come up with actionable plans to help both his (and our) local community and the world in general. I respect that 100%.

The lesson in this is that you don't have to agree with someone's politics to genuinely like and respect them.

I loved GISH and will continue to participate as long as it continues. I'll also do my best to recruit people to join. While I can't say it was life-changing for me, as some people have said, it certainly enriched my life and I'm happy to be one of Misha's Minions.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The GISH(es) That Got Away

There were two GISH challenges that I wanted to do, but couldn't quite pull them off. These two will haunt me until I see the Hunt List for next year's GISH.

#67 kills me that I couldn't pull it off. I could have gotten access to an arena that holds 11,000 people. I can sign. The biggest issue for me was a "sizeable crowd of spectators". Had GISH occurred during the Stampede, it would have been so easy to show up a few minutes before my shift, quickly sign the National Anthem as the crowd came in, and then go back to work. UGH. Really, this one will haunt me.

And then there's this one:

I should have tried harder to complete #69. When the kids and I volunteered for the fire department's Flame Out 5k for so many years, I knew who to call to access the Smokey the Bear costume, and I previously had access to the public education department and could have borrowed the fire department's mascot, Sparky. Unfortunately, it's been so many years since I worked closely with the fire department that a lot of the guys I worked with have now retired. 

Again, this was a case where my literal-thinking brain hung me up. Because I know there are *actual* Smokey the Bear and Sparky costumes, it didn't occur to me to just make one that was "close enough". In retrospect, I could have easily made a dalmatian-like costume and delivered goodies to one of our many fire stations.

I am planning on doing GISH again next year, and will have to make more of an effort to think outside the box and do better about asking Jay to help me break out of my left brain.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Jay's GISH projects

I wasn't the only GISHer in the house this year. I talked Jay into joining with me, even though neither of us had any idea what to expect. We didn't with NaNoWriMo either, and we are both still involved with our WriMos several years later and plan on doing NaNo again this year.

Jay is by far the most creative and artistic of the two of us. While the animal-based GISH challenges were right up my alley, the artistic ones were custom-made for him. I knew immediately which challenges I wanted to do, but Jay took some time to choose his. The first one that jumped out at him was the Bee Bar.

Jay has a unique ability to imagine something and then bring it to life, so I knew his Bee Bar would turn out beautifully.

We took it to the CSU flower gardens in an effort to entice the bees to have a drink at the bar. We moved it around to a couple of places until we were happy with it (the pole pictured above was not the final placement of the bar).

With the success of the first task, Jay went back to the list to find another one. When I decide to do something, I am usually all in, whereas Jay tends weight the pros and cons and be more choosy. I saw the Stormtrooper task and knew that it was perfect for Jay, so when he told me that he was going to do it, I was thrilled.

Final submission photo

Yes, that is a Stormtrooper riding a snowboard at the X-Games. Right in Jay's wheelhouse. Took two seconds, seeing as how we have plenty of action figures around.

Speaking of action figures, they played a prominent role in his third and final GISH task:

See, this kind of task is where I get literal. I read this and thought, "well, that can't be done, we don't have a food truck!" Jay read it and said, "we have everything I need for this task". His brain amazes me.

Final submission photo
Every single item used in his last task was something we had in the house. His ability to look around and see objects that are not at all related and turn them into something cohesive astounds me.