Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

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.

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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

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

Bus Family

One of the great benefits of riding the bus is the chance to read a book, daydream, listen to music or just generally get inside your head. The regional buses are pretty good for napping as well, which I usually do as I listen to music on the way to Longmont every Monday to see Jessica and Petra. The humming of the tires and the swaying of the bus can have a hypnotic effect, and it’s not uncommon to be so engrossed in relaxing that you miss your stop. It’s not a matter of if this will happen, but a matter of when.

There’s a physical reaction that occurs when a stop is missed, and it’s pretty easy to spot the symptoms before the rider actually speaks out, which they always do, usually in the form of some kind of curse words. It must be some kind of muscle memory, because our bodies sense that we have traveled too far, and sends a message to our brain. The first sign a rider has missed their stop is the look of confusion as they lift their head from their book or take their earphones out. They look around the bus, then they lean over to look through the windows at the surroundings passing by. They they look to the front of the bus at the bus number and the next stop that is displayed on a lighted screen. It ultimately ends with a desperate look to fellow passengers, and the question of “where are we?”

At that point, the bus comes alive with suggestions of back-up plans. Which bus to take at the next stop, whether to ride on and wait for a turnaround, or sometimes the bus driver just stops at an unauthorized spot to let the traveler off. I once had a driver on the 27 bus who knew we would be going through a detour, but none of us did. When she left the station and turned the wrong direction, all of us reacted the same way, and as she looked in her mirror at her bus full of panicked faces, she laughed and laughed.

Last week as we were nearing my stop on the L bus in Longmont, I noticed the driver was not in the left-hand turning lane, which took us the two blocks over to my stop. I figured he was taking a detour, as he had done earlier to get us through some construction. As we traveled through the light, all the passengers looked up and took notice. We looked at each other questioningly as the driver drove farther from our stop.  “Aren’t we supposed to turn here?” One asked. “I thought so, maybe we’re on a detour.” Offered another. We went another several blocks before the lady in front of me finally spoke out.

“Driver, weren’t we supposed to turn there?” Halfway through her sentence the driver let fly a cuss word. The look on his face was the same, well known look of passengers who had gotten so absorbed in their thoughts they forgot to get off the bus. He quickly pulled into the left turn lane and headed back toward our stop, apologizing all the way.

“On Hell. I’m so sorry. I totally spaced that turn.”

“No worries.” We told him. “It happens all the time. Thinking about something good?”

“Music.” He named a specific song that I was not familiar with. “I played it for my teenager the other night and he wasn’t impressed. I was trying to figure out if I played it wrong, or if I could do it better.” He apologized again as we neared our stop.

We all reassured the driver as we exited the bus that it was no big deal, it had happened to all of us, and jokingly told the remaining passengers to keep an eye on him to keep him on the right track.

Bus family, they always have your back.

 

 

 

 

 

August 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Another Year Older…

Another Year Older…

               Yesterday signaled the end of one year. 365 days. But as I reflect on the past year, it feels to me like it is the end of a lifetime, and the beginning of a new one.

               2013 brought me the news that Jess was going to have a baby, and a short nine months later, Petra was here. Jess and Za moved to Colorado and settled into a nice home in Longmont, and I moved into a nice home with Robert, where both of our families merged nicely for the holidays. I spend a good portion of my time tending house, which I actually enjoy. Hosting parties, cooking dinners and enjoying meals and leisure time in front of the fire turns out to be things I enjoy very much, although they are a lifetime away from my tiny apartment downtown, where the morning cup of coffee was the only thing I ever really cooked and enjoyed there.

               For more than 20 years I mostly lived the life of a single woman, not worrying about a mate or what they would or would not want. I lived a life of survival while Jess was at home, then one of indulgence and often gluttony as I bounced from place to place, telling myself it was only until Jess settled down and gave me grandchildren, then I would consider settling myself.

And here it is.

Already.

 Time for me to think about my future. And maybe apply myself just a little bit.

               My immediate future holds for me, for the first time in more than a decade, the challenge of losing weight. I’ve gotten soft and fat (or at least 12 pounds bigger) since I quit smoking, fell in love and moved to the suburbs. Like most of my life, I haven’t had to put a lot of thought into my weight, and could enjoy McDonald’s for breakfast, Taco Bell for lunch and mac and cheese for dinner without gaining weight. I like to pretend it’s the not smoking that has led to my weight gain, but the stubborn roll that has settled around my belly is screaming “pre-menopause.”

               My easy choices are endless. The internet is ripe with quick-fixes. Garcinia, Green Coffee Bean Extract, body cleanses and dozens of other products that claim to melt the fat away without my having to actually do anything. Unfortunately, I know better, so while it’s tempting to try them, I think I will shy away from the easy route and try the old-fashioned cure; smaller portions, more exercise, less alcohol.

Maybe an old-fashioned corset will be the answer.

              

                

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A MAN AND HIS BIRD

A MAN AND HIS BIRD…

               I watched the man as I waited patiently for the L bus to bring me home from an overnight visit with Jessica in Longmont. Being a conscientious commuter, I sat on the bench in front of the designated loading spot for the bus. The man was large, looked to be about 30 or so, and paced back and forth behind the bus stop shelter. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, waiting for him to swoop in when the bus pulled up and butt in line. I really am a stickler for bus protocol, and it really angers me when people just strut all around the bus stop, then jump in front of those who patiently waited in line.

               The man eventually tired of pacing and came to sit on the bench across from me. He was holding something very carefully in his hands. I looked closer and saw that he was cradling a small sculpture. About six inches around, it was a piece of driftwood with a tiny yellow and green ceramic bird perched on it, and was decorated with flowers and greenery. He held it as if it were made of gold, and I felt compelled to compliment him on his trinket.

               “That’s pretty,” I said. He smiled really big and stammered a bit when he responded.

               “Thank you. It was an expensive bird,” he said, stroking the fake bird from head to tail. “It cost me fifteen dollars.”

               “Well, it makes me happy to look at so I guess it was worth it.” He smiled again and I realized he was perhaps not the sharpest tool in the shed. His clothes were clean, and he chose his words carefully, and I couldn’t help by smile myself as he told me the story of his bird.

               “I liked this bird because he sings.” He pushed a button and the bird’s beak began moving and his tail flitting about as a chirping sound came from the trinket. “And look, he comes off the log, so if I don’t want to take him out with this, I can just take him off and put him in my pocket.” He plucked the tiny bird off the perch to demonstrate how easily he could remove it. He stroked it lovingly before putting it back on the perch.

               “Well that’s definitely work it then,” I said.

               “Yeah, there used to be a bigger bird on this stick, but I don’t like him as much so I leave him at home usually.” I raved about his bird and how pretty the set up was, and he was obviously proud of his plastic pet. After a few minutes his voice got serious.

               “I worry about this little bird though.”

               “Oh, how so?” I asked.

               “I worry that he’ll get picked on. I’m worried he’ll get bullied by people.” His concern showed in his eyes.

               “Why would anybody pick on him?” I asked.

               “Because he’s MY friend. Sometimes people are not nice to me, and I worry they will be mean to him too.”

               Luckily the short bus showed up and the big man jumped up with his bird to catch his ride. I sat at the bus stop, crying behind my sunglasses, and hoping that nobody would be mean to the little bird today…

August 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment