Saturday, June 27, 2015

Getting in Touch with my Inner Commando

OK... first of all, this post has NOTHING to do with toilet paper or underwear... just wanna get that out of the way before I start!

I'm not sure if this has come through in my blog posts recently, but I've been feeling a bit whiny & overwhelmed lately.

It all sorta came to a head last night when I was trying to go to bed, but everywhere I turned there were half-finished piles of whatever (dishes, laundry, winter bedding, ancient cans of half-eaten cat food in the fridge, tools from various plumbing disasters, notes from some work I'm trying to get done, bathroom stuff bought on sale but never put away, and God-knows-what other stuff that just got dumped into boxes so I could clear the table to serve dinner.)


I have a pretty high tolerance for clutter and disorder, but I sorta reached my breaking point last night and found myself throwing things into closets & cupboards shouting to myself "Please, just make it all go AWAY!"

I even resorted to using the drier because I was so behind on laundry that I didn't have any clean bike clothes and I knew CatMan would want to ride today... of course, when I opened the drier I discovered another load of stuff that had been sitting in there for who knows how long (dry, thankfully.)

OK... deep breath.

I'm not quite sure why everything feels so crazy lately... I guess it's just a bunch of little things piling up on me. The crazy weather & trying to get the "hail house" built, the plumbing disasters, trying to ramp up some actual "work" on my websites (gasp), my parents eyes (between my dad & stepmom they've had about 5 eye surgeries in the past few months... thankfully all is well and we went out to dinner yesterday to celebrate). Then there's all the extra bike maintenance caused by all the wet weather, and, of course Princess being sick.

I think Princess is at the heart of the issue. She's doing great, but she requires a LOT of care. She needs medication 3 times a day... twice on an empty stomach and once on a full one - plus she still gets fluids twice a week. She's fussy and won't eat more than about an ounce of food at a time, so she needs to eat 6 small meals a day (making it difficult to time the medication that needs to be given on an empty stomach.) Plus, you can't just put food down for her, you have to hold the bowl about 4 inches off the ground (and no, putting it up on a book or something doesn't work, she needs coaxing). I often have to offer several different foods to get her to eat and/or put various enticing treats on top - so I have to be sure to have a huge variety of food on hand, and her "favorites" change rapidly and without warning. Did I mention she is the most appropriately named creature EVER!

But the hardest part is that she wakes me up 2-3 times every night crying because she's hungry. I'm still getting about 8 hours of sleep each night, but it's all broken into small chunks and it takes a good 10-11 hours of time between retiring and rising to eek out that much sleep. Net result is that I. AM. JUST. SO. TIRED. ALL. OF. THE. TIME! Whine, whine, whine, whine...

Anyhow, when I finally got enough sleep last night to have a complete REM cycle, I had the most interesting dream.

I dreamt that I was speeding down a big highway when all of a sudden I got caught in a horrific traffic jam. Everybody got out of their cars and then we heard machine guns. One woman said "Oh good, the Marines are coming" but I was pretty sure it was terrorists coming to get us. So I went and hid in the cabinet under the bathroom sink (because, you know, all highways come equipped with bathroom sinks, don't they?) Then when it all was over I came out from under the sink and discovered that only me and a few other people had survived.

At this point we were on a big boat of some sort (it made sense in the dream.) Then out of nowhere a Navy Seal commando appeared and said he was there to rescue us.

...but first I had to change socks, because the pair I was wearing had my ID printed on the bottom (like so many socks do, don't you know) and we couldn't have anything that would identify us. Anyhow, this all made complete sense at the time, so I changed socks and then he looked at me with a stern face and said that I couldn't whine about anything, and that I had to disavow all knowledge of my previous life. Then we started to chimney up a big shaft to make our escape through the ventilation system. At that point I woke up.

Holy Moly!

I don't know if any of you are familiar with Gestalt dream analysis, but the idea is that everything in your dream is actually you. The parts that don't seem to be you are just aspects of your personality that you aren't comfortable enough with to fully own. (Which sorta begs the question - what do people who are at one with themselves dream about? Are they just alone in an open space or something? But I digress...)

Anyhow, it occurred to me that if I had a Navy Seal commando rescuing me in my dream, then that commando must be inside me somewhere, or he couldn't have appeared in my dream. (Or course, there are also machine gun toting terrorists in there somewhere, but I'll leave that for another day.)

And the part about banishing one's identity is also very interesting. Don't know if any of you are familiar with Carlos Castaneda and the Teachings of Don Juan, but in that book there's a reference to erasing one's personal history. There are different interpretations of this idea, but I sort of take it to mean letting go of one's personal baggage so one can fully experience the moment.

So today I decided that what I needed to do was to let go of my personal history of whininess and overwhelmedness and to get in touch with my Inner Commando!

And CatMan provided me with the perfect opportunity to test this strategy out by deciding he wanted to ride on my least favorite bike trip... the one that's about 50 miles round trip, with absolutely NO shade, along a major highway, that goes uphill for about an 8 mile stretch with virtually no place to slow down enough to catch your breath. Generally, this route leads to a great deal of whimpering on my part, but today I decided that since I knew I was perfectly capable of handling it, I was gonna use my Inner Commando and NO WHINING would be allowed!!!!

The results were rather amazing actually. I kept up with CatMan much better than I usually do, and somehow, the fact that I didn't let myself descend into "poor pitiful me land" meant that I was free to enjoy the experience much more than a generally would have.

I'm not entirely sure how to apply this principle to the rest of my life, but I think it has something to do with focusing on actually solving problems rather than avoiding or complaining about them. It's not like holding your breath and powering through things to avoid your feelings (which is one of my usual approaches) it's more like taking responsibility for the fact that I am capable and can choose a path that will make life easier rather than harder.

On that note, I'm going to go give Princess her final medication of the day, pump as much cat food into her as she will eat, and then I'm going to bed! I figure if I at least start with an earlier bedtime, there's a better chance of getting a meaningful amount of sleep!

So tell me what you think of all this. Am I just kidding myself here, or do you think I'm on to something? Do you have an Inner Commando?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bike To Work (Swim Home) Day

OK... so the weather theme continues...

CatMan and I went for a bike ride today. It was "Bike to Work Day" so I wasn't sure it would be the best day to ride. We left around 2pm and we usually ride for around 4 hours so I figured the bike paths would be crowded on the way home. But since today was supposed to be the "good weather" day, we decided to brave the sea of humanity.

Since it was sorta hot and muggy we decided to ride west up Bear Creek towards Red Rocks. It was a lovely ride up to the top of Bear Creek Dam, and we stood around for a while chatting with a few other cyclists at the rest area at the top.

Then we noticed a storm blowing in over the foothills to our north and decided we'd better move along. Since the storm was to our north and moving east rather quickly, we decided that instead of just turning around and heading home, we'd have less chance of getting rained on if we rode about 10 miles south and hooked up with the South Platte at Chatfield.

So we headed southward and every time we'd peek over our shoulders at the storm, the clouds were bigger and blacker and more ominous looking. I didn't get a photo because honestly, we were just pedaling as fast as we could to try to stay south of the storm.

And we stayed completely dry until we got all the way to Chatfield - at which point we had to turn north. Within a mile or so the raindrops started falling and we ended up taking shelter in an underpass - one of the few that aren't flooded. It rained pretty hard for 30-40 minutes.

It was a good soaker to be sure, and I was good and grateful that we'd found shelter, but it wasn't really anything terribly out of the ordinary.

After about 45 minutes the rain slowed and we continued northward. It was around 5:45pm by then, so I was sorta expecting to see all of the "bike to workers" heading home, but we saw almost nobody. As we got further north we started to see tree branches down on the path, signs that had been blown over, and the few cyclists we did see looked a bit shell shocked.

It was clear that the storm had been worse in the northern part of the metro area, but even as I was riding home along the gulch by my home (which is still in South Denver), I could tell that a LOT of water had fallen.

This is the path I usually ride home.

It was still flooded in spots like this, but you could see by the bushes and grass that the water had been a good 3 feet higher at the peak of the storm.

At that point I detoured onto the streets where I started seeing a lot of cars with their hoods open and people trying to jump start them. Hmmm..

Anyhow, when I got home and turned on the news I learned just how bad it had been. Apparently the storm turned into a super cell that sat right over the city dumping over 2 inches of rain in less than an hour! There were trees down all over town, power outages, hail, and LOTS of flooding - even a few reports of people swept away in raging creeks and streams with water levels rising 4-5 feet in a matter of minutes. Fortunately, the hail missed my house, and there weren't any signs of damage.

But here are some photos I gathered from the web to show you what other folks in the city were dealing with:

Starting to understand all the cars that wouldn't start...

Streets became rivers...


There's a bike path under there somewhere... and I think this is after
the water levels had gone down a few feet...

Happy Bike to Work Day!!! Those poor people!

I think this may be my neighborhood creek at the height of the flooding...
not sure since the photo wasn't labeled, but it looks like it.

Near CatMan's house... those cars aren't in the street, they're parked at the side!
The sidewalks are totally flooded.


I did get a decent shot of the rainbow though...

Anyhow... I'm really, REALLY glad that we didn't ride north today, because if we had, this might have been a much different blog post. As it is, we just got a bit wet, and I can handle that!

Here's hoping the weather in your neck of the woods is a tad bit... um.... less noteworthy!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Water, Water, Everywhere

OK... I'm sorry if the weather related theme is getting old, but this has been such a remarkable spring here in the Mile High city, that I just have to keep writing about it.

The rains have slowed down a bit... though it's pouring at the moment, and I may have to turn off the computer if the lightning gets much closer.

Bike riding in this weather has been... well, interesting. About a week ago we got caught in a big thunderstorm for about an hour.

The bike path has these little roofed structures where they put port-a-potties, and this photo was taken from under one of those where a group of us were huddled to wait out the storm. The smell was lovely! I wouldn't necessarily mind getting wet, but the lightning was a bit scary. Normally we'd wait out this sort of downpour under an underpass, but alas, they're all flooded out as well.

Anyhow, the weather has warmed up and dried out a bit, which is good, but all the past month and a half that it's been raining here in the city it's been snowing up in the foothills and mountains. So now that it's warming up the snow is melting so the water levels are still going up.

Today CatMan and I rode down to Chatfield Reservoir to check out the flooding. I wanted to take another comparative photo of the flooded swim beach to go with these:

Mid - May
Late May/Early June (can't remember the exact date)
But... this is as far as we could get today:

The turn-off for the swim beach is about 300 yards down this road. Hmmm...

So we decided to try an alternative path on higher ground except:

So then we tried an old abandoned road that looked like it could get us to a spot where we could see the swim beach, but alas - it was a bit more abandoned that we had hoped:

There's an old road under there somewhere
Just about as we got to this spot we heard a terrible screeching, and looked down to see this frightened little killdeer fiercely protecting her eggs:

The poor little traumatized thing.

At that point we gave up on comparative beach photography and decided to ride the other way and see how the view was from the top of the dam.

Well... the swim beach is under there somewhere - I'm thinking maybe the stuff you can see sticking out of the water near the left part of the photo are the roofs of the beach restrooms that you can see in the earlier photos, but I'm not exactly sure.

We did see a cute little foofer though (that's CatLady talk for a bunny rabbit) at the top of the dam. Amazingly this guy stood still long enough for me to get a good shot of him. Usually we only catch fleeting glimpses of them as they dart across the path.

The other strange thing we've seen a lot of recently are scenes like this:

And this...

That's a submerged pickup truck, in case you couldn't tell
I don't think any lives were lost in either of these accidents, thank God, but what's really odd is the sheer number of them. I mean once a year or so we'll hear about a car veering off the road into the river, but in the past few weeks alone there have been like half a dozen of them! I'm not entirely sure I understand why cars are more prone to falling into the river when the water is high - it's not like the banks are coming anywhere near the roads or something like that...  It's crazy!

Anyhow, I fear this post is sort of rambling with no particular direction. So, as long as I'm being random I figured I'd share this little ditty with you:

CatMan's been working out a nice fingersyle guitar arrangement of this song, and it was running through my head all throughout today's ride. "Once I was happy, but now I'm forlorn, like an old coat that is tattered and torn..." I just LOVE that lyric!

Anyhow, I have a real soft spot for this scene from the classic film "It Happened One Night." A busload of stranger all having a sing along - I dunno... part of me just pines for a time when people did this sort of thing. Seriously, can you imagine people doing this in today's world? It would just never happen.

Well... I did see something on the news about the cast of the Lion King stuck at an airport singing for everyone - but somehow the idea of communal singing has sort of been lost in our culture, and now everything is a "performance." Heaven forbid people actually interact with each other!

OK - I'm digressing into stream of consciousness here... Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo ...

I think perhaps I'm a bit tired, so I'd better sign off before this gets and more haphazard!

Hope y'all are happy and stayin' dry! :-)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Here We Go Again!

OK folks. Someday I'm gonna post about something other than the weather. But, that day is not today.

Sooo... I spent the day out working in the garden yesterday. The xeriscape was looking quite lovely with everything blooming, and I was gonna take some pictures for y'all. Unfortunately I didn't quite get around to it, and then at about 11pm this happened:

It went on like that for about 20 minutes. Oy Vay!

Well, at least the hail house got another testing. I daresay it fared a bit better this time around:

I still need to extend the hardware cloth down the north side (on the left) because the hail keeps coming under it. But inside their little wall-o-waters, the tomato plants fared just fine.

The container plants which were out in the open took it a bit worse, as a few leaves got damaged, but their little covers protected them pretty well.

I'm thinkin' I'm gonna move them under the hail house, even if it will be a bit crowded.

I can't even bear to post any pictures of my poor little xeriscape. The dianthus, iris and salvia were blooming so nicely. Sigh.

Holy Moly! That's 2 major hailstorms and it's not even mid-June yet! Hail season is usually in July around here. Hmmm...

Anyhow, I should be grateful. Here's what the neighbors a mile down the road were dealing with:

Seriously, the storm apparently stalled about a mile from my house, and one little area about a block square just got hammered with several feet of the stuff!

Pretty incredible. This photo from the air shows how it just nailed one tiny area.

And then there are the folks up north of Denver...

Yup... those are hail stones, not snowballs!

And I haven't even mentioned the tornadoes...

Anyhow, remember my picture of the flooded swim beach at Chatfield Reservoir?

Well... here's the same spot about a week later:

I tried to take it from about the same spot, but I couldn't quite get close enough.

Seriously, weather gods... what have we done to offend you?

Wait... don't answer that!

I know, I know... weather is not climate, and you can't blame any one storm on global warming. Somehow, I don't think it helps though.

I dunno folks, I'm startin' to think it may be a while before things are back to "normal" around here...

In the meantime... I think I'll be adding some more hardware cloth to the old hail house and calling the insurance adjuster to look at the roof.

So tell me about your spring... There must be nice weather somewhere!