Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Run Grammy Run!

It was another lovely fall day, and especially good because it was a sleepover at Grammy and Papa’s for Petra for the weekend. She and I and Jess headed out for what I thought was a leisurely walk to the park. I admit I’ve been lazy since the wedding, and while I have been a jogger for the past 20 years I have slacked off in my discipline. I was feeling lazy, and not up for much effort in my walk.

As soon as we hit the open field, Jess decided to go for a run. She took off, and Petra ran behind her, dress flowing and her little legs flying as fast as she could go. She looked back over her shoulder at me, and seemed perplexed that I wasn’t running as well.

“Come on Grammy! Run!” she kept going, looking back at me.

“Oh honey, I can’t run right now,” I tried to excuse my laziness but she was having none of it.

“Oh Grammy, it’s easy. Watch me.” She exaggerated her steps, and I realized she thought I didn’t know how to run, so she was showing me.

I made a minimal effort, but she was not satisfied. She slowed down as I got closer to her, and held out her hand.

“Hold my hand Grammy, I think it will help you.” I took her hand and she drug me along relentlessly, until I finally gave up and actually started jogging to keep up with her. The look on her face when she looked back at me was priceless.

“You’re doing it Grammy! You’re running!” She was beaming with pride at having taught me something new, and I continued to run with her until we reached the park.

I can’t say I liked the running, but it was good to know I still had it in me, and her pride at teaching me was contagious. We played at the park until dusk, when Jess returned from running and Robert came to drive us home, so we didn’t have to brave coyotes through the field.

But wait, there’s more.

The next day, Petra had returned home and Robert was preparing to leave for Kansas, so he and I took a long walk along the canal road before he left. It was about a four mile walk, roundtrip, some of which included the field and park I had just been running in the day before.

We were still about a half a mile from home, well into the trail still, when Robert’s blood sugar dropped. He was halfway through a granola bar when it became obvious that one bar would not be enough.

“Do you want me to run home and get the car?” I asked, mostly to be nice. “Let’s wait and see.” He said. After a few minutes he conceded. “You should go get the car.”

And I was off and running. Not a fast run, but a steady jog. As I rounded the next corner I realized we were farther into the trail than I thought, and wondered for a moment if I would be able to make the jog all the way home. I kept going. When I finally left the trail and headed through the park and field, my lungs were on fire and I considered stopping and walking. But I didn’t. I kept seeing Petra’s face and hearing her joy as she yelled “You’re doing it Grammy! You’re running!”

I managed to jog all the way home, fetch the car and apple juice, and returned just as Robert was leaving the trail and headed for serious trouble. Disaster was averted, he drank the juice and eventually recovered.

All because Petra taught me how to run…

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November 6, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Grown Up

It was another wonderful Grammy day, with the smell of fall in the air and a crisp chill that made wandering the neighborhood pleasant. Petra and I were getting ready to head out, but she had to get “everything she needed” first.

Everything she needed included some new lip gloss I had just given her, two bottles of sparkly nail polish and a tiny stuffed unicorn. All of which she put in her black Gucci bag, a gift from the Universe several years ago. She slung her bag over her shoulder like any fine woman would do, and we headed out for a day of errands in the neighborhood.

She decided to take her pink tricycle, so she slung her bag over the seat and off we went. We headed to the park first, where we watched the squirrels going crazy over the hundreds of fallen acorns on the ground. We searched for treasure in the sand, as we always do, and found three silver beads, a popsicle stick and an empty Corona bottle, which we filled up repeatedly and moved sand from one side of the park to the other.

It was nearing time for me to catch my bus, so we headed to Family Dollar to get a treat. Petra stopped her bike, declaring she saw a “treasure.” She picked up a discarded scratch off lottery ticket, which had shiny green dollar signs on it. She asked me to put it in her bag, so I did and we went along our way.

We arrived at the shopping strip and Petra noticed a bike rack with a bike chained to it.

“Let’s park here.” She declared, maneuvering her tricycle into position. She dismounted, grabbed her purse, hiked it up on her shoulder and into the store we went. She chose sour gummy worms and I grabbed a carton of coffee. We reached the check stand and Petra tugged on my shirt.

“I’ll pay for this Grammy.” She said.

“Oh. Okay. Do you have money in there?” I asked, as she started opening her purse. By this time the cashier had rung up our order and given me a total. I was curious to see what she pulled out of her purse, as was the cashier. I slipped him the necessary cash on the counter, while Petra was digging for her money.

“Yes. I have money.” Just like every woman in a check out line, she rooted through her purse until she found what she was looking for.

“Here you go” She said, quite pleased with herself, as she pulled out the discarded lottery ticket and proudly handed it to the cashier.

The cashier and I both looked at each other and smiled. The ticket did have dollar signs on it.

“Well thank you,” He said to Petra, who was beaming up at him. Then he grabbed a few pennies and reached down to her. “Here you go ma’am, here’s your change.” She took her change and dropped them in her purse, then strutted out of the store like any fine woman who had just completed a shopping spree.

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spirit Lake 2017

Family Ties

Tensions were running a little high as we left Longmont en route to Spirit Lake, via Vernal and Kathy’s house. We were leaving a day late and going three weeks later than we usually have. I picked Jess and Petra up and we headed out, both of us concerned about how cold it would be this late in the year.

It had been a busy and stressful year for all of us—Me planning my wedding to Robert, she finishing up the barn, taking on new projects and getting divorced, and Petra discovering that every one dies, Grammys can sometimes be a “peanut head” and going through a divorce. If ever a trip to spirit lake was needed this was the year. They were both in the end stages of a severe head cold, and looked like they felt pretty lousy when i picked them up. Petra announced that she was “tired” when I arrived.

We loaded up Jessica’s ’88 Volvo wagon, which I must say is as smooth as they come, but this trip began with a flashing red oil light on the dash. I checked the oil and she ran fine, so we hit the highway. Last year we had gotten into such a heated discussion that I overshot our turnoff to Utah by 90 miles. So we took a different route this year, and I only overshot our turnoff by about ten minutes, then quickly admitted my mistake and turned around when she renavigated us.

The drive from Meeker to Rangely was truly incredible. Petra announced she was going to sleep for the night, since she had already had ice cream and realized we were indeed, very, very far from Kathy’s. We listened to music and looked into the darkness. The sky was dark, but the moon sat on the horizon to the left of us, not quit half full, but it was as orange as a Dorito. It seemed to sit be sitting on the land, taunting us to come touch it. It was a magical moment.

I remember when it was just Jess and I who made the spirit lake trip. We would have these moments of magic, both of us in awe of the world. Jess was seeing it through her young eyes, I was seeing it through my eyes. It’s beautiful both ways, and It took my breath away to realize that we now had a third set of eyes to see it all over again. I was proud of Jess as a mother for keeping the tradition alive. I had floated the idea of starting a new tradition someplace closer, maybe in Colorado. But she persisted. Even when Kathy, a tent camping virgin, tried to persuade her, she persisted. Spirit Lake it was. The ultimate test of camping stamina. Good luck Kathy.

We spent the day leisurely packing, running errands and hanging out at Kathy’s. The sun was low in the sky when we headed up the mountain, but we arrived with plenty of light to set up camp. We scored the number 2 campsite, a deluxe site that does not have a view of the water, but has an entire backdrop made of jagged boulders that protect the pure water source as soon as it comes out of the mountain. The site was spacious, so Jess pulled the Volvo up to the bottom of the boulders and laid out a bed for her and Petra in it. Then she helped Kathy and I pitch our tents.

The temperature was perfect, I couldn’t tell you the exact degree, but it was cool but not chilly. Just enough cold to feel great after the city heat. And there were very few mosquitos. Bugs are always a concern at Spirit Lake, ranging from swarms of mosquitos to horseflies that will bite you just for the fun of it, and bring welts the size of mothballs wherever they feast. This year there were nearly none. We sprayed up with repellant just to be safe. School was back in session and it was the middle of the week, so the campground was mostly deserted, and we mostly had the place to ourselves. Overall we scored quite well.

We built a fire and took our time making dinner, and after cleaning up we sat around the fire, officially kicking off the 2017 hen party. Petra fell asleep in her lap listening to our stories of old and thoughts for the future. After putting Petra to bed in the Volvo, Jess returned for more adult talk. Life, relationships, a touch of religion and men were popular topics, and I was happy that I was able to impart my wisdom upon Jessica, and turns out I learned a few things myself as well.

Sadly, I didn’t think to talk to Kathy about what to expect her first time sleeping in a “plastic house” as she called the tents. I remember when jess insisted in sleeping in her own tent for the first time. Granted, she was probably 9, not 49, but it can still be scary. I also remember the time Mitch decided to sleep in his own tent. There was a mutual reaction. At some point in the night they both woke up and were disoriented, and yelled out into the darkness of their own personal universe. Jessica sat perfectly still until sunrise, hoping not to attract attention from whatever beast lurked outside. Mitch declared he “couldn’t see” before realizing his surroundings. “Oh, I’m so embarrassed.” I could feel his head droop in shame in the darkness.

We went to bed, and after twisting and turning to adjust my many blankets and sleeping bags, I finally fell asleep. Suddenly I heard loud talking, coming from Kathy’s tent. Something about porcupines followed by “I’m okay now.”

Backtrack here. After realizing Kathy was serious about going all the way to Spirit Lake and sleeping outside in a tent all alone, her husband, DAVE, insisted she bring a gun along. He gave her shooting lessons, and she did indeed, inside her Rec Center polka dotted gym bag, have a pretty nice blue handgun, with a clip rubber banded to the handle. It was an impressive display, and she affectionately called him Big Blue. We shortened that to  BB, which comes into play later in the story.

Some late campers had been arriving at the campground, which resulted in much circling and lights on our tents, suspicious shadows and amplified sounds of people bickering in a still forest. When Kathy yelled out Jessica rolled down her window and asked if she was okay. Kathy realized her moment, and declared she was fine. She had passed the first mark. If she could stay in her tent until the morning, she would have passed the ultimate test of camping.

We all laid back down, and just as i was about to doze off, a really big RV decided to take up residence in site number 1, maybe 60  yards from my tent. It was 11:30 at night, and I unzipped my windows so I could watch the show, since all the noise meant I wouldn’t sleep for a while anyway.

“He’s gonna hit a rock! he’s gonna hit a rock!” I heard a distressed woman’s voice. Then some muffled bickering, then the rev of the truck engine as the driver starts to give it another round.

“Turn this way…Excellent, excellent, excellent…” I heard a single calm male voice through the darkness. The good thing about a tent is it seems to amplify the sound in the darkness.

“Turn it now…Excellent, good job, good job..shut up. Shhht. Excellent, excellent.”

The calm guider did the trick, the trailer was settled for the evening, and i attempted agin to sleep. I had chosen the Wild thing pajamas to wear, a striped thermal type outfit Robert gave me for Christmas, it was perfect for this occasion. I thought I had the best PJ’s to wear for this trip, but Kathy gave me pause for thought. She was adorned in a one piece, footed pajama , with some type of animal print on the outside. It had feet in it, but I think she put socks on over them sometime in the night, because the next time I saw her it appeared as if she were wearing cowboy boots.

Sometime during the new neighbor debacle, Kathy emerged from her tent, clad in her sleeping suit, and declared “What is the situation out here? I think we need to rally.” I wasn’t sure if she was fully awake, and I remembered she now owned a gun. Jessica “lit her up,” as we had come to call it, and Kathy assumed a stance that I wasn’t sure of—It looked like she was laughing her ass off and trying not to pee, which resulted in her dancing about from foot to foot, much like Yosemite Sam in the old cartoons. Which made me and Jessica both laugh, which resulted in all of us bouncing around trying not to pee our pants.

“Kathy, do you have Big Blue?” I yelled from my tent.

“No.” She gasped, and I realized she was laughing.

“Good. Jessica, do not let Kathy come out here with BB in her sleeping suit.” I was aware that what I was saying was out there, but the warning needed to be declared.

“I won’t mom. Go back to sleep.” Jess shone the light on me and my tent, before authoritatively turning it back to Kathy. “Are you okay?”

“Yes.”  There was some other small talk but I took the chance to try to go back to sleep. There were a few more hiccups throughout the evening, including me coming down with the seriously sucky symptoms of the nasty cold Jess and Petra were on the tail end of.

The next morning our new neighbor came over as soon as they saw us up and drinking coffee. She apologized profusely and we ended up having a wonderful visit with her. Their family had owned the lodge many years ago, and we reminisced about the magic of Spirit Lake.

We spent two days wandering, driving to Manila for a Coke, committing the crime of trespassing, both at the fire tower and the lodge, which was for sale and boarded up. We went in search of a treasure we buried nearly 20 years ago, but wasn’t sure which rock we had buried it under.

Weather wise it was one of the best years I’ve ever been to Spirit Lake. Emotionally and spiritually, I have to say this year was THE best year I’ve been to Spirit Lake.

September 17, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Can I Do?

I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately for my lack of political care for so many years. I have never cared about politics, I don’t remember being affected by it, (in retrospect my parents would have hid it from us if it had.)

And well…Hell..Here we are, with a Doofas in the White House. I am at least partly to blame for that. I’m angered at the direction our country is taking, but am more angry by the fact that, as a people, divided or not, a very large portion of the United States elected him.

I simply can’t think about it any more, my head will explode I’m sure. I can plan, however, for the consequences—you know, always hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

The question is, what can I/we do about it now?

I believe community newspapers are the way to go, I’ve seen the power of a community in strife heal itself after dealing with a community editor. By community paper I don’t mean the local mainstream media. I mean the hyper-local paper that most young people don’t even know exist anymore.

I remember writing for the Taylorsville Eagle, a little start-up that gained a surprising amount of traction in the community before its unfortunate demise. An elderly lady in the community had been hounding me about several “atrocities” that were occurring in the neighborhood, and each one sounded grander than the last one.

One day, unable to avoid her any longer, I met her at the local senior trailer park community. She warned me we had to be cautious because the seniors were afraid and didn’t want my visit to bring retribution down upon them. Okay.

I walked into a room with three elderly women standing there to greet me, and they did, indeed, look afraid. Frail and afraid. I finally assured them I was safe and wanted to help. They spent the next two hours presenting me with honest and compelling evidence that everything they were saying was true. The trailer park used to be a beautiful place, they said, a small community that they were all happy to live their days out in.

But new management brought young, intimidating hooligans to the park, and they took every chance to harass the seniors, including cutting beloved rose bushes because of an implied infraction in the community’s CCR. They had installed individual gas meters to each trailer, and began charging every senior the total bill for their trailer, versus an added charge in the monthly bill. Suddenly they were demanding $200 a month from a senior who had only $300 expendable income entirely. Drugs were being sold, punks were roaming the streets, and they were being held hostage in their own homes.

Well, I went back to the office and wrote the story. We got some feedback, some positive from the seniors, a lot of flack from others for “stirring” up crap that was unnecessary. We ran a series of articles, and I spoke with local leaders, the park owners, etc. Still just rumblings in a little paper that nobody gave any credit.

The group from the trailer park decided to hold a meeting, and invited the mayor, a local Senator (Ed Mayne, God rest his soul) and representatives from the park. Quite frankly, I was a little tired of the story myself, and believed I had done all I could. But I headed to the senior center to cover the meeting anyway.

When I arrived it was obvious they had double-booked the center, the parking lot was completely full, so I assumed it was Bingo day or something. As I got closer to the building, there was a line of people out the door. I made my way through them, and when I entered the building I couldn’t believe my eyes.

There, on the stage, were the Mayor and other officials. And before them were more than 300 pissed off senior citizens. Some were standing and shaking their canes, others were yelling and pounding their walkers on the floor. They were not backing down, and obviously even the mayor didn’t know what she was walking into.

Needless to say, the seniors got taken care of. They had indeed been overcharged for various services, and the park owners agreed to reimburse them. Senator Mayne vowed to get things set right, and over the next few months we kept an eye on the story.

A year later, I got a call from one of the original seniors who had contacted me. She invited me to Christmas dinner at the park. When I arrived it was like something out of a Hallmark movie. The park was beautiful, everyone was happy, the streets were full again of seniors strolling the grounds. The owners has hired a couple to run the park who had experience dealing with seniors, and the park was once again the Utopia the seniors were used to.

Now I certainly didn’t bring down the White House. But I, through the help of a community newspaper, I helped make life better for these people. New laws were enacted to prevent abuse in trailer parks, and when it was all said and done the police thanked us, they had a better relationship with the seniors. The seniors thanked us, and even the Mayor learned to take us seriously.

So for any of my friends who are frustrated with the current state of America, yet unsure of what to do about it, I say support your community paper. Subscribe to it, read it each week, and send letters to the editor—good or bad. I truly believe that strengthening our communities, understanding each other and working together is the foundation for a revolution on a higher level.

If you are unsure of what your local community paper is, please let me know and I will be happy to help you find out.

May 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In the Beginning

NUMBER 8

A Love Story

By Tabatha Deans

Spring, 2012

He began as number eight.

The first one was old, fat, and declared he would never go hiking with me, but would gladly drive me up the mountain and watch me hike.

Number two was unmemorable, other than his comment halfway through the date that “a lot more alcohol was needed.”

Number three stormed out after 45 minutes, when I told him to stop trying to touch me and there was no chance he would ever have sex with me.

Number four was nice, but didn’t speak enough English to carry on a meaningful conversation.

Number five began by showing me photos of his recent oral surgery, and ended with throwing a napkin at the table next to us in a fit of rage.

Number six didn’t even pretend to be interested in anything I had to say, and had to cut our date short because he had a tee-time.

Number seven was already drunk before the date, and repeated the same thing over and over again.

AND THEN THERE WAS NUMBER EIGHT…

Number nine was a comedian who wasn’t at all funny, and regaled me with gory details of a recent blocked intestine surgery.

Number ten, well there was really no need to continue after number eight…

ROMANTIC DESPAIR

Twenty-two years had both flown by and dragged on. Jessica’s college graduation was a day I only vaguely remember thinking about, so many years ago. When she finally walked down the aisle in her long black gown, I realized her life was only beginning, and I had succeeded in raising a beautiful human being.

And I realized that my life was half over. And still my soul mate and I had not found each other. Always the romantic at heart, with the ability, nay, the need, to see the world through rose-colored glasses, I had spent the past twenty years being the strong, free-willed, really cool woman. It was tragically romantic, but also lonely.

Oh, I hadn’t been completely alone, it’s not like I didn’t have any relationships. In fact I had several. I knew every one of them would not truly suit me from the beginning. But I worked really hard at forcing each man to be my true love. The love I had carried in my heart from the time I was a young girl. Sadly, life has not been good to my past suitors. One is certifiably crazy, one is dead, the other is near-dead and I’m pretty sure the other one is in prison. They came in all shapes and sizes, tall, short, fat, thin, painfully handsome, ugly as a fence post, smart, and dumb as a box of rocks.

But none was the one who truly loved me.

Or whom I could love.

It wasn’t like I had a bad life. I was an established writer, I enjoyed plenty of adventures and diversity, I had the respect and admiration of my peers and friends. In fact, I would dare say many lived their lives vicariously through me. However, the accolades forced me to keep my deep, dark secret. The secret that I longed for the man who loved me to share it all with. I longed to climb into bed at night and share my stories with someone who cared. I longed to squelch the lonely thoughts that screamed I was wrong.

But I began to realize there was no such man. This was all I would ever have.

The love of my life was not coming.

DARE I DREAM?

But then, I met number eight.

In honor of my 44th birthday, Jessica gifted me with a three month subscription to Match.com. I promised her I would go on one date a week, for a total of 12 dates, and in exchange she would never harass me again about my social life. Although I had resigned myself to the fact that my soul mate was a myth, I thought I might at least make some new friends.

The first six dates were tedious, and I was honestly counting down the weeks until I had met my commitment of 12 dates and could be finished. Having postponed date number seven, I found myself in the tiresome position of having to go on dates seven and eight back to back. Date number eight and I had not officially scheduled anything, and after another brutal date with number seven, I must admit I was a bit disappointed when number eight called and firmed up plans for the next day.

I had mixed feelings about number eight from the beginning. He was the only one of all the men I’d corresponded with who actually proposed an activity for our first meeting. We were meeting at the park for a walk. He scored points for that, since I told all of them that I preferred physical activity to drinks, dinner and a movie. Number eight also asked for some talking points about myself, that he might be prepared for our first meeting. His thoughtfulness impressed me, but then I found out he was a doctor. Negative points. Since I was diagnosed with diabetes 12 years ago, I have not had any positive interactions with anyone in the medical community, and was not only expecting judgment from him, but was prepared with my own tirade to put him in his place before executing a dramatic exit from the date.

Armed with Pop-Tarts and my tourist sun hat, I waited at City Park for Robert to arrive. Stuck in a traffic jam, he arrived a few minutes late, wearing a ball cap, khaki shorts and a blue Hawaiian print shirt. Not exactly what I’d expected from an evil doctor, and surprisingly I didn’t feel uncomfortable after shaking hands and beginning our walk. We began with small talk; the weather, the park, the children in the park, and advanced to talking about ourselves. What brought us to Denver? Where were we from? Siblings, parents, jobs. I was impressed that he actually responded to my questions and answers—we were actually engaging in a conversation, rather than just talking at each other. We continued to talk and before I knew it we had circled the entire park and more than an hour had passed. I was really enjoying his company, but could feel my blood sugar starting to drop, and knew the Pop-Tarts would be inevitable. We stopped to rest on a bench, look over the pond and watch the ducks and geese.

I nonchalantly opened my Pop-Tarts and started nibbling, deciding it was time to pop the Diabetes surprise on him, waiting for the judgment that would surely follow. I pre-empted my revelation with questions to him about his thoughts on personal accountability for our physical health, versus taking pills or relying on medications to keep us healthy. Surprisingly he agreed that we should take care of our own bodies, and revealed to me that doctors kind of got a bum rap for not being able to magically keep everyone healthy and happy. Hmmm. I hadn’t thought about that point of view.

Feeling more comfortable by the moment, I finally blurted out that I was diabetic. I looked directly at him and waited for the judgment.

“Type one or type two?” he asked. Here it came.

“Type one.” I waited for the judgment. Instead, he extended his hand toward me for a fist bump and smiled.

“Me too.” He bumped my fist and I was speechless. He wore no medic alert bracelet. Hmmm.

“But I’m a bad diabetic,” I said, trying to draw the criticism I had been waiting for out of him.

“So, your A1c is never seven?”

“Nope.”

“Mine isn’t either.”

What? I couldn’t believe it. He was not going to judge me. In fact, within the next few minutes of our conversation I realized he actually understood me. He was just like me. For the first time in my life someone truly understood what I was thinking, what I felt.

I ate my Pop-Tarts as we enjoyed this new level of intimacy in our conversation. It was then that I felt the first inkling of real joy, the first inkling that not only was I not all alone in this world, but that this funny, smart, handsome man might become a part of my world. I was almost giddy inside when he asked if I wanted to go get dinner, he remembered there being a nice Mexican restaurant near the park. We climbed into his Mini Cooper and headed to Las Margaritas, where I devoured the spinach and cheese quesadilla and the conversation continued to flow smoothly. After dinner he asked if I would mind taking another walk, since we had overindulged. I gladly walked him through my neighborhood, pointing out the historical highlights, having just written a story for KUSH Magazine about the Uptown neighborhood.

I think we shook hands when he dropped me at my doorstep, and I found myself smiling as I climbed the three flights of stairs to my humble abode.

That was genuinely pleasant,” I thought to myself. I went to bed with a heart lighter than I had experienced in years, and decided I wouldn’t mind it so much if Robert called me again.

I had already committed to a date with number nine, but my heart wasn’t really into it when I went to meet him at a bar downtown. I really tried to care, but within a few minutes of meeting it was obvious number nine was not even pretending to be engaged in a conversation. He didn’t listen to what I said, every statement came back to something he had done or thought, or said, and he certainly didn’t make funny comments or make me laugh. It was painful, but I lasted an hour out of courtesy. I politely refused his offer of a ride home, and instead walked the 1.5 miles up the mall, thinking about Robert and if he would call.

I worked the next day and having fulfilled my date quota for the week and then some, I was hiking uphill to my apartment when I realized I had two voice messages. The first was from number nine. He had assumed since we hit it off so well I would be coming to dinner that night, would I please call him and tell him what kind of wine I wanted. I called him and told him I would not be coming to dinner, and had he bothered to listen to me at all on our date he would have known that I had no plans to see him again.

But the second message was from Robert. The sound of his voice made my belly flip, and I’m sure I blushed as I giggled at the sensation while I was walking up the mall. He had a dinner to attend for one of his children, but it wouldn’t take long, and if I felt like a spontaneous Friday night out he would love to pick me up and take me to the local arcade 1Up. We had discussed our fond memories of video games, and he knew where we could play Ms. Pac Man, Frogger and Tapper. I hadn’t done anything spontaneous with another person for years, and was excited at the thought of going out. I wondered if our second date would produce the awkwardness that was lacking on the first date. I called and arranged to have him pick me up in a couple of hours. Embracing the spontaneity and feeling frivolous, I skipped my sensible shoes and donned some fancy footwear, and waited anxiously for Robert’s arrival.

From the time I hopped into Robert’s car, I felt an unexplained sense of calmness. He was so easy to talk to, and so easy to make jokes with. Even when we walked into the arcade and realized we were, by far, the oldest people in the joint, he took it in stride and we set about playing games. I was relieved to confirm that I still had mad skills at Tapper, and was thrilled to see that Robert was impressed with my skill and was enjoying the place as much as I was. Feeling pretty full of ourselves, we tried our hand at Q-Bert. I failed miserably. And Quickly. Robert however, seemed invincible as he hopped from square to square, top to bottom, eventually earning the respected top score and title of Supreme Noser.

A funny thing happened as I leaned over his shoulder and watched him dominate the game. Usually very careful to maintain my personal space, since physical contact with others, especially strangers, wasn’t pleasant for me, I accidentally bumped into Robert. And it wasn’t unpleasant. I did it again, under the guise of getting excited and trying to get a better look. I liked it. I felt a bit of electricity change between us, and when I drew back it felt like a part of me had been taken away. He must have started thinking I was drunk or crazy, because I found lots of reasons to bump into him, or lean against him, or brush up against him, but he was absorbed in the game and seemed oblivious to my antics, which oddly made me feel a little sad.

By the end of the evening, I was feeling very happy, even though I had received no indication that Robert was feeling anything more than friendship between us. Friendship would be okay, especially since I felt such a comfortable, genuine kinship with him. I don’t remember if we hugged in the car when he dropped me off, but I remember I was feeling really good, and hoped he would call for another date.

Indeed he did call, although we were not able to schedule another date until the following week, when we arranged to tour the Denver Botanic Gardens. I was disappointed that I would not see him again for a while, but we spoke nightly on the phone. Robert spoke with an enchanting cadence, and our conversations went on well into the night.

I never took the other three dates. Although Robert was number eight on my list, he was number one in my heart.

And now, 4.5 years later, the rest is history.

October 20, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happily Ever After…

I thought Robert was taking me to the backyard to scold me. I had been a little snappy as we enjoyed a Saturday morning with Jess, Za and Petra, so when Robert took my hand as he led me toward the back of the yard my mind wasn’t on a marriage proposal.

He said he wanted me to enjoy the morning view with him, then wrapped his arms around me from behind and pointed out the beautiful trees in the neighbors’ yard. A dark green pine tree was surrounded by the brightest yellow tree I’ve ever seen. The morning light shone through the trees, making the fallen leaves that blanketed the ground seem to shimmer. It was beautiful and breathtaking, and I forgot for a moment that there was a scolding in my future.

Robert said some very wonderful things that made me blush, about how great I was and how great our life together was. He was so sweet I began to think there would be no scolding.

“I want to change everything right now.” Robert said.

Uh Oh. And then, before I had time to think about it, he was on bended knee, ring box in hand.

“I believe in Love, I believe in marriage, I believe in you, I believe in us. I want to grow old together. Will you be my wife.” Tears flowed from both of us as time stood still for that moment. I hugged his head since he was still kneeling, and the thought that he had chosen me to be his partner in life made my heart swell. I would take good care of this man, we would take care of each other, and that felt great.

There were other words of endearment on both of our parts, but I don’t remember them verbatim. Robert says now, that it would have been nice for me to tell him it was okay to stand up, rather than keep him kneeling. I remember thinking that I should not open the ring box until we were done with the hugging and kissing, for fear it would fall into the leaf-covered lawn and I might lose it. When I did open the box, the perfect ring winked back at me. Okay, it was more a sparkle than a wink, but the beautiful yellow diamond shimmered in the sun, and it really felt like it was saying to me “we’re going to be so happy together.”

Like many women, I have certainly thought about a proposal, a ring, a wedding, etc. But on this day, when it finally happened, I felt better than I ever imagined I would. Aside from my daughter I have never consciously made such a serious commitment to another person in my life. And for the rest of my life. I’m rather looking forward to this journey. This journey of life and growing old with Robert Stewart.

October 19, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Killer Instinct

Until now it has only been a fleeting shadow living in the edge of the lights cast by the Love Boat. (A term we have given our back porch, since it is lit up like the deck of a cruise ship.) We’d seen it occasionally darting in and out of the chicken shack, sneaking food and water before returning to its home, which was a burrowed out hole leading under the concrete step off the back of the garage. I’d held to the belief that it was a rabbit, and we were providing safe haven for a growing family of cute little bunnies.

The hole grew bigger, yet we were not blessed with the joy of baby bunnies running around the backyard. But we saw the shadow more often under the safe cover of darkness at night. It grew bolder and came closer to the Love Boat when we were relaxing. Then our tomatoes began to disappear, and I found half-eaten tomato carcasses at the mouth of the hole. This unwanted guest began to dominate our discussions, and unable to sustain the burden of curiosity any more, we decided on a plan of action. We would flood the hole and see what came out.

It was a rat. A very big, very wet, rat. Robert saw it in it’s entirety, I rushed to the window just in time to see it’s skinny little tail as it ran back into its flooded home. All I could think about was the cartoon version of rats—any rats. Glowing red eyes, long sharp fangs, hissing and generally looking for trouble. The rat clearly had to go. We could not cohabitate. We hatched a plan to pour a bag of concrete down into the wet hole and seal its destiny forever.

We couldn’t quite bring ourselves to do that immediately, I don’t know why. I have no problem catching mice in traps, but suddenly the thought of taking a life wasn’t so easy. We debated a new plan of action, which included setting a live trap to see if we could get it to give up peacefully. We loaded it with cheese and pepperoni, and hoped it would do the right thing.

The trap was empty the next morning as I headed out for Longmont, via public transit. I had mixed emotions about the rat as I sat waiting for my bus in Union Station. I was relieved to not have seen the rat, as the thought of it just creeps me out. But I was also disappointed, as I knew the absence of the rat’s voluntary surrender, forced the showdown closer to a deadly conclusion. I don’t know why I was suddenly worried about killing a rat. I was raised in the country and death of rodents and animals were not uncommon events, and I certainly didn’t have any feelings of affection for the rat.

Conflicted, I sat in the station and watched the people go by. I distracted myself by focusing on the sounds of the station, specifically those of footsteps. I tried to guess who was passing from behind before I saw them, based on their footfalls. There was the click click of high heels, the clomp clomp of work boots, and the occasional squeaky loafer.

I heard small footsteps approaching from behind, and guessed it must be a child, which is always a pleasure in the station because of their joy and wonder of trains and buses. I waited for the child to come into sight, and when it walked past me so I could see it, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I honestly thought for a moment I had experienced a psychotic break, or a stroke, or just lost my mind.

The owner of the small steps was a woman, about five feet tall. She wore  hard-soled boots and was taking tiny steps, almost like a shuffle. She clutched a yellow stuffed bird to her chest, and she was wearing a full, furry, one-pieced rat outfit. Yup. A rat outfit. The legs of her onesie were tucked into her boots, and there was a tail dangling from her bottom. The gray fur covered her chest and ended with a hood, topped with ears. She quickly shuffled, or scurried, across the terminal and stopped to look at a schedule. A moment later she scurried back across the terminal and checked out another schedule. She scurried her way down the terminal as I stared in disbelief.

I wanted to shake my head to get the picture out of my mind, but was afraid if I’d had a stroke shaking might make the damage worse. I just watched her. What was the universe telling me? Was this really happening? What the hell?

I guess I’ve seen stranger things in downtown Denver, but really? A rat?

I decided then and there that our rat could stay for a few more days. We would bait the trap with tastier treats, and I vowed to find a way to get it to leave peacefully. Clearly my killer instincts were not strong, and I wasn’t prepared to take a chance on doing something I would regret. So, as of this writing, the rat lives.

P.S. Turns out there is a sexual fetish genre called “Furries,” where people dress in full animal costumes for physical gratification.Hmmm…

 

September 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Convenient Update

I must admit Robert and I had a wonderful time at the Little Big Town concert. From the minute we hit the gates at the opening of the facility, the people  working the venue were incredibly nice. It started with our first line, where everyone was being wanded with a metal detector. All of the workers were well into middle-aged, with some teetering on the edge of old. An elderly gent was standing at the end of the line of gates, and with nobody bothering to venture all the way down, he was obviously feeling useless. He jumped up and down, waving his arms and wand, and shouted “pick me, pick me!” Of course we went through his line.

We passed the wanding and advanced ten feet to the next person, who cheerfully asked how we were doing.

Good. We’ve never done this before, so I hope it works,” Robert stated, as he handed over his phone.

That’s why I’m here.” The woman said nicely. “I’ll make sure it all goes smoothly.” She tapped his phone to her machine, and it spit out two tickets, which she handed to us with a smile.

There, that was pretty painless, wasn’t it?” Her sidekick said to me. I had to admit it was, and some of my previous anger started to seem a bit silly.

We advanced to the next person, about ten feet ahead again, and they took our tickets and granted us access to the venue. It was a typical country concert, with lots of boots, denim, plaid and beer. The evening was really cold, with a wind that made it worse, and I watched as many of the young women pranced around in short-shorts, skimpy tank-tops, cowboy boots and goosebumps. It is times like these that I am glad to be middle-aged, as we were all covered in boots, jeans and bulky sweaters.

We circled the stadium, got dinner and a beer, found our seats and enjoyed the first act. We headed to the restroom along with everyone else as stagehands went to work to prepare the stage for Little Big Town. We had eaten in a bar earlier, and I smartly directed Robert back to the bar, as I had noticed bathrooms near the rear, and was pretty sure they wouldn’t be as crowded as the general restrooms. I was mostly right, but there was still a line when we arrived.

There was one closed door with a sign for both a male and a female bathroom on it. Having been in the bathroom already, I inquired from those at the front of the line if they knew there were two bathrooms in there, and if they were both in use. Being women, being country and being a little bit tipsy, the ladies at the front of the line threw open the door and marched into the small hallway to investigate. The remaining ladies spilled into the newly opened hallway, forming a line that went down the hall to the men’s room and back along the other wall to the ladies room. Word from the front was that there was both a urinal and a stall in the men’s room. A cry went up as the first woman in line headed for the men’s room. A man came out of the bathroom with a shocked look on his face, head down and hustling through the line of ladies.

Robert was the next male in line. The ladies were getting restless and a little bit crazy, and as Robert headed through the gauntlet, the ladies demanded payment for entrance.

Dance. Dance. Dance.” They chanted as Robert advanced.

And I am very proud to say, that not only did Robert dance his way through the line, he shook his money-maker so hard there was whooping and hollering heard all through the stadium. That’s my man!

While the $11.20 convenience fee still annoys me, watching Robert dance his way to king of the restroom was priceless.

September 14, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Convenience my A**

I begrudgingly admit that technology has made a few things in my life easier. Specifically, I no longer have to pick up the phone, dial the number to my bank, then enter my twelve digit account number to get my balance. I simply pull it up online.

And over the past two days I have learned about this thing called a “convenience” fee, which implies our lives will be easier because of it. Or so I thought.

So years ago, if I wanted to attend a concert I was forced to leave my home and go to the local Smithtix, which was the service center at Smith’s grocery store, which here in Denver is King Soopers. If the ticket cost $30, I gave them $30. I took the tickets home and put them someplace safe until the night of the concert.

If it was a band I really liked, and wanted great seats, I could suffer the inconvenience of lining up at the record store at midnight the day the tickets went on sale. It was brutal standing in line with other fans, usually the band’s music blasting from a number of boom boxes. Eating and dancing and chatting about how exciting the concert would be. Oh, the horrible experience and inconvenience.

Then there was the worst possible inconvenience. I would be sitting home with a full weekend of boredom planned. Nothing to do and no money to spend. When horror of horrors, a friend would call. “My wife/husband/kid is sick and I can’t go to this concert. Do you want the tickets?” It was so inconvenient to drive over to their house and pick up the tickets.

Those days are gone now though, thanks to the concept that computers are the easiest way to do things. Here I must apologize for the length and detail of this post, but I want to make sure  every single establishment that has made my life “convenient” over the last two days gets their due recognition. So here we go.

Robert and I decided to go to the Luke Bryan concert at Dicks Sporting Goods Park. We’re not really Luke Bryan fans, but we are Little Big Town fans and they are his guests. So I go to the Dicks Sporting Goods Park website. Click on tickets. Purchase. So far pretty convenient. I am redirected to a web page for Altitude Tickets, and see that each ticket, which costs $39.50, will be assessed an $11.20 “convenience fee.” Oh hell no. I search the website for box office information, hoping I might just go down and pick some up after work. This is verbatim what I found.

“Tickets may be purchased for all events at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park through Altitude Tickets. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Box Office, by calling Altitude Tickets at 1.866.461.6556, or by visiting AltitudeTickets.com.”

Tickets can NOT actually be purchased in person. I could however buy the tickets online, and pick them up in person at the will call booth, for a small fee of $25. I carried on through the website, resigned to paying the $11.20 fee.

Turns out I had exactly three minutes to complete this transaction before the computer signed me out. This process involved answering two questions to prove I wasn’t a robot. Then entering all my personal information, then all of the credit card information and three more personal security questions. I failed miserably. Twice. Even with Robert sitting next to me and prompting me as we went, there was no possible way we could get it done in three minutes.

We realized that in order to get our tickets, Altitude was forcing us to a website called Flash Seats. So, being the relatively smart people we are, we venture into the Flash Seats website and created an account there. Then went back to Altitude and started the process all over again. Finally success!

The emails started pouring in that we now had an account with Altitude, and Flash Seats, and we had purchased tickets. And both sites had all of our personal and credit card information. None of the emails gave us an option to print our tickets. Finally we found in small writing that we now had to download the Flash Seats app on Robert’s phone in order to have access to our tickets. We followed the link they sent us, and could see our account and that we had purchased the tickets, but no bar code or option to print tickets.

Exhausted and frustrated, we went to bed. I wrote down three service numbers, a physical address and several confirmation numbers, and assured Robert I would return at the end of the day with tickets in hand.

I will spare you the gory details of my multiple calls to service centers. The end result was this: we either download the app and hope our phone has service at the venue, or bring the credit card we bought them with to be swiped, yet again, at the venue, or pay the $25 and pick them up at Will Call. There was absolutely, positively no way to print tickets. Simply couldn’t be done they said.

I get home and deliver the news to Robert, who is holding two pages of printed material explaining how and where to park, how to get there, and how if we use our new accounts we get $5 off on parking. But nowhere could they have printed a freakin’ little barcode for us to get in. And there was no sign of the app we thought we downloaded.

We clearly needed vodka.  Several drinks later and unsure if we had downloaded the app, I did find a details screen about the Flash Seats service we had been forced to sign up for. There were pages and pages of how to bid on tickets, buy tickets, trade tickets, transfer tickets, search for tickets, and confirmation that no tickets were refundable, however we could certainly give the tickets to someone else, after, of course, they sign up for the service, download the app and for a fee. Finally, ten pages down,  I found how to use our tickets at the venue.

So after more than two hours of work online and on the phone, this is what the convenience fee has gotten us: We arrive at the venue, look for the line that says Flash Seats. Show our phone, credit card and ID to whoever. After they have verified that we are indeed the people who purchased the tickets, they will reach down to their little portable machine and guess what?

They will spit out two ticket stubs for us.

Which we will then take to an usher and be shown to our seats.

Convenience my ASS!

 

 

 

 

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bus Family II

Bus Family II

The O bus is always full of characters. It travels the length of Broadway, which is a major North/South road that runs from downtown to Highlands Ranch, and is full of Mom and Pop stores, bars, restaurants, antique stores and marijuana dispensaries.

I was on the last leg of my journey home, and watched as the regulars boarded the O at the Englewood station. First came the young man I call the Thug. He’s about 25 and wears baggy shorts, a funky ball cap askew on his head and walks the gangsta walk. Actually he has a legitimate reason for the walk, since he wears a knee brace that actually hinders his stride.

Next came a middle-aged man who walks with a cane. I call him Grimace, because he always has a look of pain on his face. I can’t tell if he’s genuinely in pain or just has a scowl about him. They both took a seat at the front of the bus.

Then Construction Guy got on the bus. He’s tall and about my age, and always has his orange construction vest on, shorts and dirty work boots that come just high enough up his ankles to allow room for his electronic monitoring anklet. He never smiles or acknowledges anyone when he gets on, and heads directly to the back of the bus.

We all settled into our usual seats, and politely ignored each other. A few stops down the road a young man got on, early twenties I’d say, and very, very buff. The kind of buff that not only shows muscles, but muscles on top of those muscles. He was carrying a case of water and as the bus began to move he grabbed onto the bar by the front seats, dropping his water and bumping into Grimace. He didn’t apologize, and as the bus went down the road he opted to keep standing right in front of Grimace, periodically bumping his legs. Grimace finally asked him to take a seat, and the young man bent down and got right in his face and placed one finger in front of his lips and made the “Shhhhhh…” motion to Grimace.

The thug sat up a little straighter and Grimace’s eyes squinted. I could feel the level of testosterone quickly rising. Grimace stared at Buff Guy, and the driver encouraged him to sit down. Without breaking eye contact, he took the seat across from Grimace, and again made the “shhhh..” motion. I was already sitting two rows back from the two, but at this point two other women sitting in the front got up and moved to the back, and a couple with a young child got off at the next stop. I checked both of them out to see if there was any sign of a gun, and was pretty sure they didn’t have one, so I rode it out.

The tension continued for another couple of stops, then Grimace pulled the cord signaling he needed the next stop. As soon as he pulled the cord, Buff Guy stood up as if he were also exiting the bus, and stood in front of the door waiting to get off. But when the bus stopped and Grimace got up to leave, Buff Guy just stood in front of the doorway, blocking his exit. Of course Grimace just pushed into him, trying to force him down the stairs of the bus. Buff Guy braced himself and didn’t budge. The Thug got up and threw his weight into Buff Guy as well, and a full on scuffle began. Buff Guy against the two handicapped men.

The bus driver stood up to help, and suddenly Construction Guy came running from the back of the bus to offer his assistance. He realized Buff Guy couldn’t be reached from there, so he came to the back door of the bus and got off, then went around to the front and pulled Buff Guy down the stairs and out of the bus. Of course Buff Guy tried to run back onto the bus, and as Grimace and the Thug made it off the bus, it looked as if they were going to go to blows.

But the bus driver and Construction Guy held them apart, and the driver pointed out that Buff Guy probably didn’t want to go to jail for assaulting two guys with handicaps. Buff Guy argued, but Construction Guy got in his face and reinforced the bus driver’s sentiment. “They’re handicapped for hell’s sake! He wears a cane and he has a leg brace!” That seemed to snap Buff Guy out of it a bit, and reluctantly he hung his head and got back onto the bus. The driver and Construction Guy made sure Grimace and the Thug were okay, then they got back on the bus. Construction Guy sat next to Buff Guy and made sure he minded his manners until he got off the bus a few stops down.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when he left, and the bus driver apologized to us ladies for having had to see such a spectacle. I don’t understand male ways, but it seemed to me that this group had created the best possible outcome for this situation.

So here’s the kicker. Buff Guy was wearing a T-shirt from some anti-violence youth campaign with a slogan printed on the back.

Hearts not Hands. Make good choices.”

Hmmm….

September 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments