Monday, September 26, 2016

My Friend Susan

My dear friend Susan passed away yesterday.  
Susan was the first friend I made in Topeka. She had been hired the same time as me to be a planner for the City of Topeka. She had started two weeks before me, so on my first day she gave me tips. She also invited me to lunch during my first week. Well, she actually invited me to go with her to the gun store because she needed to get something. I had never been to a gun store before. Afterward we stopped at McDonald's in North Topeka.

And our friendship started.

Susan was always willing to help with any of my work projects. She was always ready to give advice , be it professional or personal. She was a great sound board. I could always count on her for anything.

When I decided to be Wonder Woman for Halloween on the day of, she helped me with making my costume - we spray painted some pearls for my lasso of truth, we made the crown and bracelets. She loved holidays, always dressing up for Halloween and decorating her office for Christmas.

We watched the World Cup 2014 at various places in Topeka. We also got together with co-workers to watch the Royals' stunning run to the World Series in 2014. She was one of the first people I told about interviewing in Denton. And before I left, she made sure to plan a goodbye party that included ice cream. That was Susan - she wanted to make it special for me.

I last saw Susan when I was in Topeka for Thanksgiving last year. We had lunch and she brought me chili from Porubsky's to take back to Texas with me.

She hated that I had used this picture of her. 

Susan was a great friend, and I can't believe she is no longer here. She was kind and caring, smart and creative. She was funny and dedicated. Nothing I write will be enough to adequately capture this beautiful person. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Biscuit Has Fleas

My friend Suzi was over last night. She noticed that Biscuit had fleas. Without her, I likely never would have noticed because I've never had a cat that had fleas before. She's been an indoor cat ever since I got her, however you might remember that I took out into the backyard a few weeks ago. That's probably when she got the fleas. So she's been living with fleas for three weeks (probably). Gross, on so many levels.

Now I am in the deep cleaning process of getting rid of the fleas. Besides a topical for Biscuit, there is carpet powder and linen spray for the home. Nearly all the blankets and such are getting washed. Or have been sprayed, making all the places I want to currently lie down on out of commission.

Biscuit is currently holed up in the bathroom, since every other room has been sprayed or powdered. I'm sure she doesn't like it. I don't like it either.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My Mom and Sis Visit

My mom and sister came out to visit me this past weekend. They have both been to Denton before, but not since I bought a home. They arrived Friday morning at Love Airport, and we promptly hopped on the freeway and headed for San Antonio. We stayed on the Riverwalk and went to the Hard Rock Cafe, toured the Alamo, took a river boat tour, experienced the Cathedral light show, and sweated in the awful heat and humidity. The highlight, for me, was being greeted by the Alamo cat, Bella, while in the gift shop.

We left Saturday afternoon to see Austin and the bats, which Em and I didn't get to see last year because it was too late in the season. First, though, we stopped at Buc-ees, because it's a Texas thing. We had some good pizza at Home Slice on South Congress, then waited for the bats to come out of the bridge. The bats didn't come out until it was rather dark, and they didn't come out in a swarm, which meant that they were kind of hard to see. It was cool, but not what I had imagined. We made it home very late (I was kept awake by jamming to Hamilton).

On Sunday, we took a trip to Ikea so I could buy some furniture. I needed help with this anyway, so I decided to wait until they were here and force them to help me. They were also forced to help me assemble the couch. Nothing brings people together like putting together Ikea furniture.

We had a nice time. It's nice to have family visit and show them the great state of Texas.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Kickball: Season Three

A couple nights ago was the first kickball game of the new season. We had a few players depart this season which meant a shake-up in some field assignments. I say assignments like there is a coach and all that. There's not.  And the team generally decides collectively who goes where. Obviously I'm usually in the outfield because the infield takes much more skill. Also, when I started playing all the positions were pretty much set.

This season, though, I'm the catcher. And I love it. It doesn't require much more skill than standing out in the outfield (this is a recreational kickball in Denton, not the MLB despite what some teams think) but I like it so much more. I'm more aware of what's going on in the game as the catcher. And since I'm standing next to the umpire I always know what inning we're in and what the score is. It's awesome.

My mom played on a softball league with her work when we lived in Pocatello. I used to love to go to her games and watch all the radio disc jockeys play. My mom was the catcher. I'm following in my mom's footsteps.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Presenting to Kids

As part of my job I go to the local elementary schools and do safety presentations on biking and walking. I'm not at all educated in being an educator. Last year, when I started doing the presentations at the request of my boss, I asked a lady in my bunco group what I should do. She was a fourth grade teacher so I knew she'd have good suggestions.

And she did. I've been using her suggestions ever since. I am deeply indebted to her.

This week was my first presentations of the new school year. I gave presentations to every grade over two days at one elementary school. It was slightly exhausting. But fun. Mainly because kids can be really cute. Kids don't really know the difference between asking a question and providing a story about their older brother/sister who has a bike. One kid told me all about his sister who is a cheerleader. Which lead us into a conversation about the Olympics and the awesomeness of Phelps, Bolt and Ledecky.

Kids also are not shy about physical touch. Numerous kids gave me hugs afterward. Which is incredibly sweet. My boss's boss's daughter was one of the students I presented to; she gave me two hugs the first day and then another one when she saw me as she was walking to her next class.

Kids are also not shy about picking their noses in public. At all.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Biscuit the Escape Artist

Biscuit is an indoor cat. It was really by default, since when I got her I didn't have a backyard. When I moved to Denton, she became a balcony cat. She really loved that balcony. I loved that she was able to "get outside" but wasn't in any fear of running away/getting lost/getting hit by a car.

My place now is on a busy street with a huge, fenced backyard. I kept thinking that I'd let Biscuit become, at the very least, a backyard cat. She started showing some interest in the outside when I'd open the door to leave or take the garbage out. Last week she actually went out the side door for a brief moment when I had it open. She scurried back indoors pretty quickly, but I knew that I couldn't be unprepared.

So I bought her a collar engraved with her name, my name and my phone number. And later that day I took her out to the backyard. At first she stayed on the bricks, just sniffing around. She finally got brave and ventured out to different placed in the backyard. She ended up in the corner with a bunch of trees and shrubs. I was concerned she'd never come back in. Or worse, there would be an opening in the fence somewhere and she'd crawl under, being curious and all, and she'd be lost forever. I finally captured her after luring her with wet cat food.

I took the collar off because it seemed unnecessary to wear when she was indoors.

This evening she escaped out the front door in a daring move. She was showing interest when I opened the door to fix some flowers on my door wreath. Seeing that interest, I shut the door and stood outside as I fixed the flowers. When I opened the door to go back in she darted out!

She stayed close to the side of the house, and proved difficult to catch. She must have been running on adrenaline and the excitement of being outside. I was racked with fear that she'd run faster than I could keep up with her and she'd dart out to the street and get hit or be lost forever as she didn't have her collar on.

I herded over towards the front door and she scurried in on her own. I quickly closed the door behind us and promptly put her collar on. Which she will now wear all the time.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Official End of Summer Movie Season: The Light Between Oceans

Facebook reminded me that on this day in 2011 I saw the movie "The Debt." Back then, I wrote about how one knows it's the end of summer based on what kind of movies are released. Here's what I said:
"Summer is always heralded in by big-budget, flashy tent-pole pictures usually involving a superhero or some sort of number in the title signifying it's a sequel of something that was popular two summers ago. Basically anything a teenage boy would like to see.
But then we get to the end, where a lot of the smaller films that aren't quite summer movies (read: there's no superheroes or animation) get unloaded. Films like The Help, One Day, and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Generally they're based on books. It's a very fine line between when those end and the fall movies start, but I think the distinction this year is made by the film The Debt."

Today I had the same experience when I went to see "The Light Between Oceans." It's not a splashy remake or sequel or addition to an ever-growing cinematic universe. There are no tie-ins with fast-food chains, car brands, or insurance companies (seriously, did you see the Progressive Insurance commercials linked to Ghostbusters?!). It's a character-driven film adapted from a novel. 

The movie stars Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as Tom and Isabel, a couple who are light house caretaker and mistress on a remote island in Australia. He is a veteran of The Great War and enjoys the solitude; she is a force of nature who brings him joy and peace (that may sound cliche, but the way it is portrayed it seems anything but). When they suffer two miscarriages, it seems like a blessing from above when a small boat drifts ashore one day with a dead man and live baby girl in it. 

The movie went in directions I wasn't expecting, so it all unfolded as a pleasant surprise (I have not read the book...yet). It was breathtakingly beautiful, from the costumes to the sets to the scenery to the music (Alexandre Desplat has been nominated for Best Score 7 times in the last ten years). The powerhouse performances from the three main leads brings it all together to create a moving and fantastic story of love and forgiveness. 

Folks, I would see Michael Fassbender in nearly anything since he won me over as Mr. Rochester in a film adaptation of my favorite novel, Jane Eyre. And Rachel Weisz is an actress who is always giving wonderful performances even in mediocre films (or extremely strange ones like The Lobster). 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Nine Years Post the City

Once again the calendar says September 1, which is the day I arrived in New York City nine years ago. Because I am sentimental and extremely nostalgic, I always note this day and think about the adventure that was arriving in New York City. I started my blog in New York, and I've surprisingly kept it up pretty well since then. Check out the previous years' posts on New York Anniversary Day if you're super interested in the emotional state of past Julies.

2009 - Two years after arriving and my first back in SLC
2011 - Four years after leaving, my first year of grad school
2012 - Five years, and my last semester of grad school
2013 - Six years later and living in Topeka
2015 - Eight years after leaving and living in Denton


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