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Join me in figuring out "what now?"

See America First, Then the Rest of the World

I will start this post off with the note that by the time I started ninth grade, I had gone to as many different schools as years. For some odd reason, we moved. A lot. And never very far, once the move constituted less than five miles. We always joked that my Dad had gypsy blood or some kind of wanderlust.

I still feel that way. I cannot seem to feel content to stay in any one place for long. I’ve done better than my father, but I also seem to have the itch to go somewhere.

On our last adventure – our recent trip to Moab, UT and Arches National Park – we started chatting about what was next. And the best way to fill in the open spots of our travels, it helps to have an accounting.

I found a simple black and white drawing of the U.S. and started filling them out. Purple states are those I have lived in, the dark purple is where I was born (Iowa). I also did this for The Kid. The blue states we’ve visited. White are those left to explore.

Mom States

Streets States

For the most part, I will be revisiting states with The Kid and am hoping that sometime this year we will try for Alaska. I am excited to see Denali National Park before Trump releases the drilling morons into that pristine landscape and the final frontier we still have left in America!

MacCupcake

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Arches National Park (Moab, Utah) Part II

Today’s post is really just a continuation from yesterday… I hadn’t gotten The Kid’s photos and he took quite a few. It is interesting to see the difference between our perspectives and interests.

So the less said, the better. I will just allow you to enjoy the photos:

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We’re busy figuring out where to head next. If you have any suggestions, please comment!

MacCupcake

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Arches National Park (Moab, Utah)

So, The Kid and I got back about a week ago from a trip to Utah. Originally when we moved from California to Missouri, our plan was for the two of us to take a week to make the trek. But at the last moment, it was deemed that I needed to be in Kansas City the next Monday (it was Thursday). If we did a lot of driving each day, we could make it in time.

So, recently, I decided we needed to see some more of America, I opted for those gorgeous lands that we passed through doing seventy miles an hour. On an almost whim, we packed some bags and a cooler and headed west. It was an early Saturday morning and as we punched the button to open the garage door, we were met with a heavy snowfall! As it was just a few days from spring (and just a few days before we had to kick on the A/C), this was surprising to say the least. A quick check of the weather of our destination (high 60’s / low 70’s) and we were off.

(I have to mention that I loved driving through Kansas, as much of the freeways had an 80 mph speed limit!)IMG_4030

Words cannot describe the sheer awe that this place inspires. When you think about the time and process that created this space. My words won’t help either. I think, rather, I will leave you with photos and videos that we took (although I might add some facts as you scroll through them).

The only downside for the park started the second day we were there. For the next nine months (or more) are going to be replacing all the roads in the park. Literature given to us, indicates that the original roads where built between 1958 and 1962 and was designed for about 100,000 to 150,000 visitors annually, where today’s count is closer to 1.5 million!

This means that the park closes each evening at 7:00 pm and stays closed until 7:00 am, although the park is open around the clock starting Friday evenings and remains that way until Monday evening. The other thing to consider is that the only in-park campground is completely closed for the time being – I think they expect at least through the remainder of 2017.

As we stayed through Thursday, the early closing (I think) resulted in less people in the park. We were able to take photos without strangers and spend a lot of time investigating areas that might have been much too crowded before.

The Kid was instrumental on persuading me to walk many of the trails, I think I did them all with the exception of any labeled “strenuous” or “difficult”. I expected my knees to be screaming each day, but really only felt pain on the final day of hiking. Icing my knees helped with that.

So, without further ado:IMG_4050Its difficult to judge the size of these stones… but this might help.

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IMG_4055It was very green, due to the snow melt. Loads of cacti and scrub trees and brush.IMG_4054

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IMG_4061This is my favorite “sculpture” called “The Three Gossips” as it resembles three women walking together.

I’m having some difficulty getting videos off my phone. I also have yet to receive The Kid’s photos and videos, so I may write another post with those.

This is absolutely worth visiting. The Kid and I have decided that we’re going to try and visit more of them. Gives me an excuse to spend quality time with him before he deigns to be ‘too cool’ to hang out with his Mom.MacCupcake

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The Real Value of Government Regulations

I just finished watching a documentary about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. And it reminded me the value of government regulation.

In it, it spoke of the primary reasons for the number of young women dying – as well as some men – that it was largely the result of blocked stairwells, doors opening in and not providing information about fire escape in the form of drills or documentation.

And these were because prior to the fire, they weren’t “regulations” but rather “safety suggestions”.

Triangle-Fire-gs-1024x659Let me back up a little. The year is 1909, the city is New York. Hundreds of young women are working in the garment factory, cranking out clothing by working 60, 70 and even 80 hours a week. Sitting in row upon row of sewing machines, nearly elbow to elbow, without the benefit of union representation. Don’t want to work 10 or 12 hours a day? Quit and they will fill your spot before you reach the front door. Complain about the cramped conditions and maybe they will move you to the machines were accidents take hands, arms and even your life. Stop coming to work and lose those meager paychecks and you and your family starve or lose your home.

Now think a little about the conditions under which (mostly) women work: there aren’t any fire drills to show you how to exit the building should a fire break out. Sprinklers? Fire 9d6c9ce683dae7ef81e118676dec96a7alarms? They’re available, but not mandated, so of course the wealthy company owners aren’t going to spend money to have them installed. Fire escapes? Ditto for those as well. And to make things worse, lock optional escapes because it is mandated that someone had to check those women as they left, in case they opted to try and take home scraps of fabric.

146 young and not-so-young women and men died. Many of them by jumping from the ninth floor windows. Because New York wasn’t equipped to deal with buildings with so many floors, their ladders reached only to the third level. Once the fire broke out below them, they literally had no options.

Fortunately, something good came out of this. Regulations. Yes, REGULATIONS. Something to help safeguard the lives of the 99%. Something that the current administration in Washington wants to start chipping away at. To save money for the 1% (and worse, the über rich .01%). Because basic regulations don’t really apply to them other than it costs them money.

Trump is calling for the repeal of two regulations with the proposal of any new regulations and has been quoted as saying regulations need to be cut by 75%. All Americans should be aware and fight this. Once the regulations are overthrown, you will start to see things happening that common sense once mandated as against the people as a whole.Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 6.40.41 PM.pngWanna see drilling in the Arctic, the wild places of Alaska, Yellowstone National Park? Want to see fracking in every corner of America? Want to see Americans without safety protocols in place in constructions, mining, drug production, farming, manufacturing, automobile emissions, etc., etc., etc.

I’m really worried about our future. How about you?

MacCupcake

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The ‘Dumbing Down’ of America

I suppose that this probably puts me squarely in the “old lady” category, but I have to tell you this story. It is one of those ‘shaking your head’ in disbelief kind of stories and me and The Kid laughed about it solidly for like four hours on the day it happened and sporadically since it occurred.

My house is a computer connected sort of house. Routers – both wired and wireless -and computers and smart devices abound. I invested in a Nest thermostat about a year ago and have seen great reductions in the amount of heating and cooling we use in that time. I really like that I can make changes to the schedule and the temperature setting in the house without having to go to the hallway (where the thermostat resides) and can do it in the middle of the night with ease.

I had heard about some of the other devices being developed, so I opted to try another. I set me sights on the Nest Cam Outdoor, with installation at the front door. This is so that I can see who is there before having to try to get to the front door from my sewing room or bathroom or wherever I may be. You know, getting up and moving still takes a minute or two to get rolling ever since the bi-lateral knee surgeries.

While on one of my many trips for supplies, The Kid and I found ourselves at Home Depot. And they just happen to have a display for all of the Nest devices. Quite convenient if I do say so myself. So we take one of the purchase cards from the display and along with our other items, we head to check out.

img_3923Now, as you can read, you are supposed to take the card to the service desk and they ring it up and you pay for it… then they get the camera for you.

Well, this particular young lady took the card (and paint and glue etc) and rang the purchases. As she completes the sale via credit card, she places all the items a bag and hands it to us along with the receipt.

Let me reiterate: she places this 6 1/2″ piece of fiber board with some printing on it into a Home Depot bag and hands us it and a receipt that clearly shows that we bought a $200 camera. And then she turns to the next customer.

I’m not usually known for being tongue tied or at a loss for words, but this particular interaction caused me to be able to grasp exactly what she did. I am looking in the bag and then to my son and back again, trying to fit the pieces together in order that something makes sense!

I have to reach into the bag to retrieve the card and then assert myself back into a conversation with her. I have to have the look of befuddlement on my face as I hand her the card back to her and ask “…and you’re now going to actually give me the camera I bought, right?”.

Well, now it is her turn to be confused. She is looking at the card and then to me and back again. I ask her “you don’t think I just paid two hundred bucks for this piece of cardboard, do you?”.

I am shaking my head in disbelief. She tries to hand the card back to me. Even the generally-won’t-say-shit-even-if-he-had-a-mouthful quiet and shy young man looks at her and shaking his head says to her that she needs to get an actual box containing a camera. She turns to another clerk and holds out the card. I have no idea what she is thinking or how the hell she came to be standing behind a cash register in a store where tens of thousands of dollars must go through that store every day.

Her co-worker sort of shrugs and giggles at her and then looks at us and says that they will be right with us. They disappear behind a wall and I can her Clerk2 explaining to Clerk1 that she needs to find the box that corresponds with the code on the card. They are back there a while and I am thinking that they don’t have what we ordered and next comes that hassle that the charge she just rang up will take three days before the credit is applied when they come around the corner with the box.

And yes, I checked it and double checked the code on the box to make sure it is the right one and proceed to slice through the sticker to open the box… I want to make sure there actually is one inside! For some unexplained reason, I wasn’t sure that they didn’t know that there is actually supposed to be a product in exchange for the two hundred bucks and change! Clerk2 is watching me do this and does another sort of chortle kind of sound and make this gesture with her eyes to say ‘Clerk1 is kind of ditzy in a honest sort of way’.

Frankly, I am still shaking my head that this actually transpired! I mean, this isn’t a revolutionary new process for safeguarding expensive small items from sticky fingers… this is a time tested process. Any clue that Clerk1 now understands this is conspicuously absent from her face, but The Kid and I take the box and our bag and head towards the door. I look to my son and say, “Did that really just take place?”. He laughs.

We’re still laughing about it. It is steadfastly becoming part of our personal interaction – a “you had to be there” kind of inside joke. I’ve been wanting to write this story, but I had to go back and get one of those cards so I could take a photo for the post. This post. I’ pretty sure this will be one of those jokes that we keep between us for a long time. 🙂img_3922So, to end this post on a positive note, I wanted to show you my violets. I became the defacto owner of this plant when I took over a desk vacated by someone way  back in my job history. It has done so well that I had to separate it into two pots. The blooms this year are absolutely amazing… in this planter. The other one is barren so far.img_3921

MacCupcake

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Dare I Say It? (“Good ‘Ol Days”)

I’ve finally gotten around to getting my personal network set up for optimum viewing. Cables have been dropped into my sewing room, my son’s bedroom and into my master suite. It is absolute heaven not having to rely on wireless services anymore (although I do still have it for the remainder of the house for phone use).

So, I’ve been watching a lot of movies, such that I have figuratively run out of new movies to watch. So when I am sewing, I re-watch movies I haven’t seen in the past couple of years. Even some I haven’t seen in decades.

thegraduateToday’s movie was “The Graduate”. Dustin Hoffman is about twenty years old and I had forgotten just how handsome he was (I have always thought he was handsome, but there is just something so insanely adorable about that twenty year old face).graduate-dustin-hoffman-1967

And the movie is set in its own history, that is, it was contemporary when it came out. So, the clothing and the cars and the settings are as they were during that timeframe – mid- to late sixties. I don’t really remember those particular days, as I was just a toddler-ish, maybe five or six. But everything seems so clean (and this is Los Angeles) and fresh and green with plants. And just clean… like no graffiti and trash or congestion or smog.

And the music score is just as just as refreshing. In case you’re not familiar or have forgotten (as I had) is songs by Simon and Garfunkel. Peaceful, tranquil and calming, much as southern California can seem. Seem back then, anyway.

(There was just a scene where the male borders in the house where Hoffman’s character is living and some other residents appear… including a very very young Richard Dreyfus!)richard-dreyfuss-young-76408b40f2a229b21f90f607f8944d83

Anyway, it just struck me as I was talking along (or talking to) with the characters, just how differently people were. I mean, when the characters were angry with each other, the strongest language used were words like “filth” and “scum” and “degenerate”. And the two rooming house “managers” are about the ‘cleanest’ people you could ever know!

But what really strikes me are the “sex scenes”. Not only are there not really any (seems like the lights have to go out to suggest sex is occurring) but the talk about it, the harshest language was sex being referred to as “a piece” and then followed up with laughter and then “…of wedding cake!” was added.  Heck, I don’t even think there was any moaning or heavy breathing; even the kisses were rare. I think that this particular scene was the most risqué:risqueI’m not sure if it was better than now, but it certainly was more civil. And gentler. At least by this movie’s standards. I was trying to imagine what this movie would be like if it was remade to today’s standards. I don’t think it could.

Good or bad. I don’t know… I guess we live with what we have. Although I could use a little less vulgarity and profanity in my life.

MacCupcake

 

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A New Year

I guess I missed the first week of the new year. Actually, been a while since I posted at all.

I am nearing the “finish” line for my knee surgeries. That is, at the end of the month and first part of February, I will be “celebrating” one year since I went ‘under the knife’ and had bi-lateral knee replacement surgeries.

Its been a tough year.

First, I really believed that these surgeries would change my physical world. The pain and limitations from advanced arthritis prior was really reeking havoc on doing much of anything physical – including climbing the stairs to my sewing room. I had these grandiose plans of being able to hike down into the Grand Canyon or maybe even attempting part of the PCT trail in California, but in retrospect I was so unbelievably optimistic.

Honestly, I’ve not really had much more mobility compared to the ‘before’ levels. Everyone kept telling me, you have to wait for the healing to be complete to see the real results. Well, I’m here to tell you, either something is wrong or all those healthcare specialists are.

So, not only do I get the same restrictions on walking and stair climbing, but I have lost the ability to kneel and run. That I knew about in advance, but figured it would be worth it if I could walk effortlessly. I have this clicking noise with every step and it just doesn’t seem like it should do that.

Being on my feet is tiresome for more than an hour and stair climbing is still difficult if not downright painful. I can’t cross my legs and I can’t get anywhere near sitting cross-legged. And getting up from the floor… well, let’s just say that a small crane might be useful.

Even worse (if it can get worse) is the fact that I’ve gained quite a bit of weight. I was already overweight to begin with and hoping that the knee surgery would help allow me to be more physically active to combat that, well, let’s just say that I’ve been doing way more sitting than anything even remotely considered exercising. I had hoped to at least be walking more, but with the winter ice and snow, well… I don’t want to take the chance on slipping and falling. As it is, I have fallen three times in the past couple of months and of course, it always includes landing on one knee or the other. Or both. Sigh.

So, in a couple of weeks, I make the cross town trek to see my ortho doc. Maybe he will give me some news about why I seem to have the detrimental results of knee surgery.

MacCupcake

 

 

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Little Lost Coco

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks. Now that I am working, trying to wrap up things with the other blog and get the house in some sort of order, I never seem to have the time to sit down and write.

As you may know, I’ve started a new job some months ago. Two weeks ago (more or less) as The Kid was dropping me at work, he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Way over in the landscaping, right at the edge, was a white animal. I looked closer and thought it must be a cat, but The Kid said it wasn’t, but a small white dog. I whistled to the dog, trying to encourage her to come to me, but she was startled by someone coming up behind her and she took off.

A few minutes later, The Kid texted me this photo:

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And I knew that was the puppy we had seen!

I texted The Kid to come back down and see if we could get her. When he got there, he and I searched the bushes for her and did find her, but she was very skittish and bolted when we tried to get near her. The more The Kid chased her, the harder she ran. One of the security guards of the place I work came out and joined us. But then she was just gone. We searched a little bit longer – the grounds are extensive and well landscaped – and there was just no site of her.

We finally gave up and I went back to work. As I was coming in, Security told me that she had been spotted at the other end of the building near the parking entrance. Everyone had seen her, she had been hanging around the building’s grounds for the better part of two days. She was a puppy of just 8 months and I couldn’t imagine what she was eating or drinking.

I called the number on the poster and told the woman what I had seen. She thanked me and asked me to text her the address of the building. I suggested that she start with the security force at the building’s parking lot and wished her good luck.

A couple of hours later, I got this text:img_3817

As you can see, I messaged back that I was very happy to help. And you can see “Coco” very happily snuggled up with her “big sister”.

I can’t say that I did all of this out of the goodness of my heart, there was a little part of me that wished I could have caught her, never found an owner and I could have adopted her! I am so ready to bring a four legged child into my life… but, well, I was happy to help get this one back to her “fur mommy”.

MacCupcakecoco

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I‘ve been mentally writing this post all day. Actually, its been in the works for several weeks. But after today, it was something that I could no longer keep to myself, nor question its validity.

One wonders just when you can experience your last love. That fluttering of butterflies in your heart when he crosses your mind. When you know you’re going to see him, if only for a few minutes.

Wondering if he feels the same way you feel? And the sheer amazement when you realize that he does. Its conveyed in such an almost invisible way that absolutely no one sees it, no one hears it, no one notices it. Just you. And him.

I remember my first love. The very first time that I gave my heart to someone and they gladly accepted it. When every breath and every thought is about him and you only hope that he feels the same.

And then you see him. And he calls you a pet name. One that would sound silly to almost anyone – to almost everyone – if you were to actually repeat it out loud. But has touched my heart so pointedly. Just thinking it repeatedly brings a smile to my face and a light to my heart.

Who says love is only for the young? Or maybe that love makes you feel young? Again? I would have never guessed in a million years that I could feel like this again. I thought that was all behind me.

But I retire for the evening, hoping that tomorrow I will get to see him again. And he will look at me like he looks at no one else. And he will glance back for one more look when we part. And he will smile and he will know.

Like I know.

MacCupcake

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The Cubicle Farm

I have almost exclusively worked in environments that have “cubes”. As I mentally tick through my jobs, I can find one or two which honestly gave me an ‘office’ – that is, a room with four walls and a door. Otherwise, its been the cubicle farm.

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Why this phenomena occurred, I won’t profess to know the answer, but somewhere along the line it made sense to corporate officials to build moveable, rebuild-able  cubicle farms for their workers. It gives them the sense of privacy, albeit a modicum at best, and some sense of their own space.

However, it doesn’t create enough of a buffer for most people. Want to really get some work done and you need to concentrate? Good luck because the guy who sits on the other side of your “wall” uses a hands-free device for his conference calls and for some reason believes he has to shout to make everyone hear him. Or the woman who thinks work is her own private dating service. Or the one at the end of the row who plays his music so loud that every single person on the floor can hear it. Even those who detest his choice in musicians. Or the guy who clears his throat every 10 minutes like clockwork.

I have invested in noise cancelling headphones of the highest quality. Which, for the most part, does what I need it to. But – and yes, there is always a ‘but’- it gets tiresome to have to wear them. That constant pressure on your head does get annoying. And it also seemingly makes you anti-social. And on more than one occasion, I’ve been startled to a scream because I was so tuned into what I was working on and so turned out to everyone and everything around me that someone tapping me on the shoulder scared me! I have also missed a fire alarm!

It isn’t always bad, don’t get me wrong. One place I worked the cube walls were only as high as your line of site, so when you were sitting you weren’t constantly distracted by movement around you. But, it was low enough that it fostered communication and interaction with the people around you.

Good and bad, these cubicle farms provide different benefits and negatives. And there is no doubt that they are here to stay.

So, what do you do? Grin and bear it, I guess. And kvetch here, so that I can continue to work where ever it is that I am.

What’s been your experience? I’d love to hear all about it.

MacCupcake

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