Where my head’s at: Jobs, Life, and Gun Violence

You may have or may have not noticed that the frequency of my blog posts has declined as of late. It’s because, well…life. Other bloggers are surely familiar with this predicament. You get on a roll, posting with regularity, reading other blogger’s posts and providing commentary. You are in your groove.

Then, life rudely barges in, forcing you to shift your focus and re-assess your priorities. Like when circumstances force you to acknowledge in your core of cores that your parents are aging for real as illnesses and surgeries grow in their frequency and severity. Like when you begin planning for your young adult spawn’s overdue visit to your new-ish home in your new-ish state and potential snafus in this plan begin to emerge, leaving you to ponder an alternate plan. Like when you realize the amount of time and energy spent on blogging will not equal the satisfaction of working outside of the home with real live people and earning actual money.

That said, this is not me declaring that my blogging days are over. What I can declare, however, with relative certainty, is that change is afoot in my life at the moment. For better or worse. 

I have made some headway in my search for employment.  I updated my resume and applied for a job as a para-educator in the special ed department of a local elementary school. I have also applied for another job, for which I have an interview this afternoon.

So as not to jinx it, I’m going to supress my urge to provide details about said job interview and the anxious thoughts rattling through my brain as I mentally prepare myself for the first job interview I’ve have in 10 years. Gulp.

Then there are other happenings that are taking up space in my brain and especially in my heart. One week ago today, I awoke to the news of yet another fatal shooting. Only this time it happened a mere 5 minute drive from our home, at the Wal-Mart in Thornton, Colorado. I can honestly say that for the first time since all of these horrific shootings in this country of ours began, this scared me on a personal level. I’ve been to that Wal-Mart. I’m much more aware of my surroundings when going out and about as a result of this. Three innocent lives lost, for no reason whatsoever.

What angers and sickens me the most about this is that there does not appear to be an end in sight with these shootings. 

I pray, as many others in this country and throughout the world are. I pray for the families left behind but even more importantly, I pray that the jokers representing us in Washington, D.C., will take action, once and for all, to reduce the likelihood that mass shootings will continue to occur. The only way, I believe, for this epidemic to have any chance of being remedied, is for stricter gun regulations to be enacted.

A good friend of mine here in Colorado shared a video on Facebook today with the pictures and stories of all of those folks who lost their lives in the mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, last Sunday. I appreciate that, because I think it’s much easier to say our prayers and then get right back to living our own personal lives when we only pay attention to the sound bites offered by the media.

I don’t believe in taking the easy route. Not when it comes to the mass shooting epidemic in this country and not when it comes to how I live my personal life. Because a meaningful life and a more harmonious society is not manifested by making easy choices.

I’m going to go forth and do my best to seize this day. I will count my blessings, which are many. Likely more than I deserve. And tomorrow, I will strive to do the same. Day by day.

 

 

 

 

Silly signs on Saturday

Nowadays, home decor is all about the signs. Signs with pithy inspirational quotes. Signs with family names on them. Signs expressing the homeowner’s faith.  I think oftentimes signs as home decor are overdone.  It seems to me that the more signs one has on their walls, the less meaning they have. So I keep mine to a minimum for that reason.

This one is probably my favorite:

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Hanging in my kitchen to amuse one and all

A foray into Google images for signs led me to some more amusing and in some cases, disturbing signs.

Like this one:

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So many questions here….walruses can jump? And exactly how does one determine the sexual orientation of a walrus? And what does the walrus’s sexual orientation have to do with the fact that it might jump up and drag you under the water to be feasted on by a gaggle of hangry walruses?

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Um, no thanks Hardee’s.

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This is the sign that I will hang in our future cabin. I find it to be quite motivational.

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This would make me shake in my boots for sure (not)…but I’m also super curious about what is behind this door. I doubt I’d be able to resist the temptation to exit through that particular door.

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TMI dudes…and you should really get that checked out!images (64)

Apparently, beans and cabbage are on the menu in this joint.

 

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Good advice, peeps!

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Thank you, Captain Obvious.

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Let’s hope to God that this isn’t the only dentist in town.

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I took a picture of this sign on a trip with Hubs to Florida, because I thought it was hilariously awesome. I’d really like to know how one qualifies a a “fancy woman”. And exactly who decides who is a “fancy woman” anyhow? Cap’n Crunch?!

Happy Saturday folks!

 

Surprises and Songs by the Hiatt’s

For one of our wedding anniversaries, Hubs surprised me with a trip to Madison, WI. He was very tight lipped about the itinerary. I went along with it, because I am one of those oddballs that actually loves surprises. And boy, was I surprised. In the best possible way.

Once we arrived in Madison and checked into our hotel, Hubs instructed me to get in the car with him and drive to our surprise destination. I seriously had no clue whatsoever what was in store. He slowed the car down as we approached our destination and he directed me to look to my right. We were directly in front of the Majestic Theater. As I looked up at the marquee, I was beyond excited.

We were there to see the inimitable John Hiatt perform. 

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Now, for several years prior to this, Hubs and I had been fans of this prolific, soulful, uber talented singer/songwriter/guitarist/performer. Mr. Hiatt is one of those artists who has had more critical success than commercial success. That seriously confounds me, because his music-the lyrics, the melodies, the beats, the feels it evokes-is just, well, everything to me from a musical standpoint.

And I learned recently, while live streaming MPR’s The Current that Mr. Hiatt also has a mighty talented singer/songwriter daughter. Her name is Lilly.

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Lilly Hiatt

First, however, for those of you who may not be familiar with Mr. Hiatt’s work, or for those of you who have an unabashed appreciation for him as I do, I’d like to highlight what IMHO are his truly best AF songs. Then I will introduce you to the music of his daughter.

 Thank you, Google Play. You rock. You have given me the best toy a girl could ask for. The joy I get from creating playlists of my favorite artists, like John Hiatt, is immense. 

Here are my top picks from Mr. Hiatt’s collection:

“Thing Called Love” was written and performed originally by Hiatt, though most folks likely are only familiar with Bonnie Raitt’s cover of it. Both versions are great, but I personally prefer Hiatt’s. My favorite line in this song is “But Baby, we can choose you know, we ain’t no amoebas”. And I love when he sings/screeches out “just a crazy little thing called love” towards the end. Supercool.

Thing Called Love

Most likely my “favorite” favorite John Hiatt song is “Feels Like Rain”. It is simply gorgeous. It is sensual. It is soulful. It is tragically beautiful. It is best appreciated during a moment of solitude. You don’t have to take my word for it. Here it is. You’re welcome.

Feels Like Rain

“Perfectly Good Guitar” is a stand out for me also. It features some seriously tight guitar riffs and an extraordinarily catchy melody. And it pays homage to Mr. Hiatt’s appreciation for the instrument. And I found the below video of him and his band playing it live. John Hiatt is probably the best performer I have or ever will see live. For reals.

Perfectly Good Guitar

I could seriously go on for eons about all the other John Hiatt songs I love (like “Riding with the King”, or “Crossing Muddy Waters”, or “Real Fine Love”), but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to highlight Lilly. I was very pleasantly surprised when I learned of her existence. She surely has her father’s musical genes. She has her own sound nonetheless, which to me is an interesting cross between Liz Phair and Lucinda Williams. She, like her father, writes tremendously thoughtful, raw, and beautiful lyrics. Here is a sample:

If I’m lucky, one day I’ll be able to see her perform live as well. I know I’d jump at the chance to see her dad perform live again.

 

Halloween: Past and Present

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Long gone are the days when my friends and I would gleefully skip/run through our small Minnesota town on a chilly Halloween evening, unencumbered by parents, fueled by sugar with the promise of  more to come.

Also gone are the days in which Hubs and I would guide our spawn in choosing the perfect costumes at our local Goodwill store and hide all the candy we bought perhaps much too early (in my defense, as the chief candy buyer in the household, I didn’t want to wait too late and end up having the lame choice between those awful peanut butter kiss taffy things or a bag of apples). I was simply not willing to tarnish my reputation as the bestest chocolate giver-outer of our neighborhood. 

Now my reality is I have a 3 year old grandson in Wisconsin who, depending on the day, either wishes to be a “Doctor Fish” or have 5 different Halloween costumes. I sincerely wish my daughter the best of luck with this.

Times, as they say, have changed. Now parents escort their youngins from house to house in their neighborhoods though the especially smart ones take their costumed kiddos to the “better” neighborhoods to ensure the highest quality and quantity of candy possible. But as merely a middle aged, empty nester observer, it appears to me that a large chunk of parents these days choose instead to cart their kids to the nearest mall, church, or grocery store not on Halloween, but the Saturday before because it is simpler. More convenient. 

I must say that I think that’s a little sad. Don’t you?

I do get it though. Times are different now. Thanks to the inundation of horrifying news stories about unimaginable harm being inflicted upon children these days, we are all more skeptical about engaging with strangers. On top of that, parents of little ones are often working their tails off to pay the bills while simultaneously doing their best to ensure their kids are not only safe but also participating in activities that will give them the most well rounded childhood experiences possible.

That said, it is completely understandable that creating the perfect Halloween experience for one’s offspring is not necessarily at the top of present day parents priority lists. But it is still a bit of a bummer, isn’t it?

So in honor of those good ‘ol days when we knew and trusted our neighbors enough to  enter their homes and accept their sugary offerings on that one magical night of the year, and our moms had time and energy (because we were all playing outside after school instead of being shuttled to and fro-to dance lessons, piano practice, soccer games and the like) to make our Halloween costumes, I present to you pictures from Halloween’s past.

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Pic on left is with my parents when I was 2,  pic on right at 3 in my homemade witch costume. Thanks Mom!
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Spawn-circa 2003?
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Spawn-circa 2005?

Time is my Frenemy

Time.

Full disclosure: I’ve become really good at wasting it.  Like getting myself sucked into what others are doing or trying to sell on Facebook. Like watching too much t.v. I seem to be battling time every day on some level, which stresses me out. There’s just so darn much I want to do with my time that I end up sabotaging myself with my own indecisiveness.

In the scheme of things, however, time is kind of on my side, as the Rolling Stones tell me. As anyone who has been following my blog knows, I continue to be a free agent. As in, not participating in paid employment of any kind.

I truly have nothing to legitimately complain about here. 

That said, I am 50.  While I generally don’t feel my age, physically, but especially mentally, there it is. I am most certainly not a spring chicken. However, if I live to be 80, I’ve still lived more than half of my life at this point in time.  On the up side (and you know I’m all about the up side), I’ve got 30 hopefully healthy more years to go. I can still have big plans. A new career, even. I could go to clown college. I could become a professional bartender. I could become a teacher. Life, aka the universe,  will no doubt intervene to provide me with unexpected curveballs. Because the universe excels at this. I like to believe that when this happens,  I will adjust my sails, conquer the obstacles, and re-negotiate the steps I’m taking to get to wherever it is I am going.

The below image could very well fall into the category of  “When we make plans, God laughs”. So be it. I’m going to latch onto it nonetheless, because it is, ultimately, a positive affirmation that serves as a reminder to me that I am indeed in charge of my life, and my daily schedule. It’s all about making thoughtful, responsible, and wise choices every single day about what I spend my time on. Essentially, making friends with time. And being willing and able to use whatever self-piloting skills I have developed in this life to get through the turbulence.

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Morphing into a Coloradoan

While half of my heart resides in my birth state of Minnesota and the other half resides in my adopted state of Wisconsin, I’m starting to feel more than a teensy bit “Coloradoan”. Hubs and I have now lived here more than a year, so it should come as no surprise that I’m feeling this way.

One of my impressions of those native to this state is that they look upon those of us non-natives with skepticism. Even sometimes with scorn. I get this as there has been a huge influx of transplants from other states moving to Colorado in recent years. The natives no doubt feel possessive of their beautiful, natural environment here. And they don’t want “posers” coming in to wreak havoc on their territory.

That said, and at the risk of coming off like a “poser”, I do believe that there are a number of  pieces of evidence that indicate I have indeed begun morphing into a Coloradoan.

Let’s start with Exhibit A:

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Check out the upper middle on plant on left side-a small, ripening tomato!

To prevent certain death from the frost that will undoubtedly come at some point this fall, Hubs aka the garden whisperer recently brought our pepper, basil, and tomato plants inside. I am simply delighted by this. I love the aroma of the basil, and seeing these plants thriving next to our big picture window in our small dining area. Hubs commented yesterday that he noticed a dude walking outside this window, who couldn’t help but peer in when noticing this foliage. Likely he assumed, at first glance anyway, that we were growing marijuana in our home. To be crystal clear, these are not marijuana plants. But it does amuse me that they could be, since growing them in your home is indeed legal in Colorado. 

Exhibit 2:

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Check out my snazzy hiking tennies! Hubs and I shelled out bigger bucks than we probably ever collectively have, on shoes anyway, when we purchased new hiking shoes at REI this summer. Because we are quasi Coloradoans now, we were compelled to invest in proper footwear to go hiking on one of the many dedicated open space paths or in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is just over an hour away from home.

Exhibit C1:

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Enjoying a sampler at O’Dells (?) in Fort Collins

As aspiring Coloradoans, Hubs and I have embraced the craft beer culture here. We have become, as my blogger friend CJ, has recently pointed out, “beer snobs”. I prefer to be considered a “beer nerd”, mind you, like our favorite beer pub owner and operator, Dave, refers to himself. It has a legitimacy to it, like we’re scientists or something, right? Thing is, there is a special type of camaraderie that happens when one visits one of the many brew pubs and gets to talking with the owner, bartender, and/or other customers  “beer nerds” about the complexity of the hops or the balance between hops and malt of whatever brew is being sampled amongst us. Plus, visiting these folks at these watering holes provides us with much information about things to do and places to see here in this beautiful, special, state.

And to further exemplify our status as “beer nerds” we have thrice brewed own our beer at home. First batch was the best, the second notsomuch, and the third was…something. Let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

Let me leave you with just one special thing about Colorado. Denver 9News’ The Next with Kyle Clark highlights the most Colorado thing seen on a given day. It is always fun to see what they come up with. Below is a good example. Enjoy!

The Most Colorado Thing We Saw Today

Monday Music Musings: Covers

I’m not generally much of a fan of song re-makes, aka covers. I prefer originality in my musical artists. It often appears to me that an artist is simply trying to make a buck the easiest way possible when they churn out their version of a classic song. It frequently feels disingenuous to me.

But, that said, I believe firmly that there are always exceptions to every rule. 

I could provide examples of truly terrible renditions of original songs but that would be negative and pointless. Instead, I’m going to highlight a few covers that IMHO are so well done that they might even surpass the original version. 

I also have proposals for original songs that I believe should be re-imagined by new artists. But first things first:

Killing me Softly-Originally sung by Roberta Flack with such vulnerability it brings tears to my eyes. The Fugees had quite a different, but very cool take on it:

Fugees killing it

Sweet Child ‘O Mine-Originally performed by Guns ‘n Roses. A classic rock and roll song from my younger days with one of the best guitar openings ever thanks to Slash. There’s a newer version that caught my attention while I was watching the movie “Captain Fantastic” (quirky, unconventional movie about a unique but lovable family which I highly recommend). This version is very stripped down and all about the harmony. And it’s freaking beautiful. Check it out:

Guitar Man-This song was originally performed by the 70’s mellow rock band, Bread. Growing up, I always loved it. I loved the melody and the story it told. Last year, I heard a much different, but quite brilliant version of this song by CAKE, a band of which I am especially fond. No one sounds like this band, no matter what the song is. Noone.

Guitar Man by CAKE

Sara Smile-To me, this has always been an absolutely gorgeous song, originally performed by the great pop duo, Hall and Oates. Hubs is a huge fan of the music of Joan Osborne (from “What if God was One of Us” fame). She crafted it into a sultry, soulful serenade yet didn’t stray far at all from the original version, for which I give her much credit.

Sara Smile by Joan Osborne

Sunny-Originally performed by Bobby Hebb back in 1966. It’s a sweet, simple, jazzy pop confection that stands the test of time. However, the version by Bryan Adams, which I first discovered watching Scandal (that scene with Olivia and Jake on a beach far away from their normally scandalous lives), elevates it to a new level thanks to the gravelly vocals of Mr. Adams. Btw, Shonda Rhimes and her crew are geniuses when it comes to choosing the right songs for the right scenes, especially in Scandal. 

Sunny by Bryan Adams

Proposals for new covers that my songbrain would so love to hear and see:

Imagine a cover of this song being done by, say, the Foo Fighters or Green Day. It would be so very timely given the political unrest in Trump’s America. Perhaps this could be the opening song for a televised fundraising event for the #resist movement? Or sales of this cover could directly go to the #resist movement? Or Planned Parenthood?

A Little Good News, originally performed by Anne Murray. This song is perhaps even more relevant today than it was when it came out in 1983. I would love to see a version of this (perhaps as part of the above mentioned televised fundraising event for the #resist movement?), with Anne Murray, along with Jewel, and the Dixie Chicks. How cool would that be?

 

Tales from a 50 year old optimist recently transplanted from Wisconsin to Colorado. Finding silver linings, lifting others up, sharing positively good stuff

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