Thursday, July 30, 2009

Anatomy of grief

It's been 5 years this month that Dan's mom passed away.

I wrote this a couple weeks after losing her. I couldn't share this earlier -- it smarted too much -- but I can now that enough time has passed. I've also been thinking a lot about death because, well, I'm morbid like that sometimes. And also I know a lot of family & friends who've been in rough places.

Anatomy of Grief 8/6/04
This morning I woke up and looked at the clock... it said 7:48 and I thought oh god, that was her phone number. For the rest of the day, a giant hole widened within. Why? Everyone asks why. It's too cliche for me to be asking it too but I can't help it. I also can't help but morbidly imagine everyone I love disappearing, even the dog and parakeets. To write about this almost seems useless. It's a way of trying to capture the grief and emptiness and pin it down, trap it on paper. But words aren't adequate and I find myself feeling even more lost.

Sometimes I try to understand how grave this is. Almost like if I can comprehend it all now then the next 12 months will be easier. But I just can't make it happen, can't wrap my mind around it. I still don't feel like it's real. I know that's common, that this is the first stage of grief, but that doesn't help. I'm being stubborn and incorrigible. I don't even want it to help. I want to feel the pain stabbing as an honor to her memory. Yeah, hurt bad. She meant so much she doesn't deserve less.

My insides are at war. Everyone experiences death. Look at what poor R went through last year, and L several years ago. A. Was I there for them? Did I understand? Did I stupidly try to comfort them by distracting them with drivel? Loss sucks. I have little experience with this and I'm scared. How many more times in my life will I experience this? The alternative is also horrid, that anyone should feel this way about losing me.

For the next however many years I am going to have to crawl through time with the only comfort that next year the pain will be less sharp, although that's only an abstract thought of little comfort now.

I will make it through this next year. I will get up and shower and go to the bank and walk the dog and buy milk and work.

I will do all these things but my self, my feelings that are centered around this tragedy, will be in a messy heap on the floor of my mind.

Monday, July 27, 2009

photos from walk in the woods

Went for a walk in the woods yesterday, here are some pix:

vibrant violet tiger lily.

Dan standing next to purple flowers
(hard to tell but they're the weed-like things poking up to his left).

Close up of those flowers.

A storm cloud (cumulus) builds in the sky.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Funny Twitter updates

This has moved to here:

Book giveaway: Alternadad by Neal Pollack

In my efforts to not over-accumulate stuff in this temporary apartment, I'm giving away a recently-read and much-enjoyed book: Alternadad, by Neal Pollack (in hardcover). It's a funny read for parents or those-to-be. Here's a review from Amazon:
I read. A lot. I own no television. I have 3 boys, and we all read every night. That's what we do. I love books, and I love reading. I am not a sucker for the first book to come along. I read constantly. The house is littered with books. I do not finish all of them. Some people channel surf; I book surf. But if i like a book, I will read it through. And Alternadad grabbed me , shook me by the scruff, and tickled me. That sounds pretty dumb, and yet, there you have it. This is a good book, even from the perspective of a book junkie. I really liked Alternadad. I was reading it in bed, and laughing gently, but then my wife came in and I started to laugh boisterously, obnoxiously, uncontrollably, vibratorily. She assumed I was laughing hard to annoy her. It was untrue, the book just suddenly got funny. She kicked me out of the room. And it's not just funny. It's also kind of profound here and there. and it's very true. and reeks of honesty and the real underlying beauty of family life. I'm a dad, and this book, well, should be required reading for dads. This book is in general a good book for people who have or may reproduce. And those who love them. In fact, if they ever do get around to licensing people to have kids, the required reading list should include ALTERNADAD. I'm going to shoot off an email to my congressman right now suggesting this. good father's day gift while the legislation is pending. --RLC
So anyway, want it? Shoot me an email: -- include:

1. In the title, write "Alternadad!"
2. Include your mailing address
3. Your favorite midnight snack

The winner will be picked at random and announced in a few days, including a link back to their blog and desired bedtime grub for all the interwebs to see. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: it's not in regift condition. It looks great but I dog-eared some of the pages and wrote "Ha!" in pencil next to some of the paragraphs I loved. But it's free, y'all! So enjoy. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

back from Colorado: Stephie & her little girl

Setting sun on the drive to
Stephanie's from Boulder, CO.

I'm too exhausted to post the full details of yesterday's travels but they included very little sleep, a flight, an hours-long shuttle ride, 90 minutes with Verizon's cell customer service during the only downtime I had scheduled all day, and a visit with out-of-town guests late last night. When bedtime finally came, I crashed hard.

But the visit! I was in Colorado to see my girlfriend Stephanie and her little 9-month old girl. Here are some pix:
Stephie & Kailey

Kailey's such a happy little girl.

The flowers in Colorado are beautiful! Here's one in Nederland.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

my spleen at the Grand Canyon

Took a ride up to the Grand Canyon today.

Did I just say that? "Took a ride"? Like, I can just head up there for a day trip?

This place is incredible. I love being in Arizona.

It only took about 90 minutes to get there (the south rim is much closer than the north rim, what we did last weekend). Rain threatened but never followed through other than a nasty downpour on the ride up.

Rainclouds overhead.

Dan, sitting on a cliff, his favorite hobby.

The Colorado River glimmers at the beginning sunset.

A cinder cone standing out among the rock formations.

"If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world."
-- Chinese Proverb
"Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people." --Albert Einstein
Tomorrow we head to Sedona. I hear it's the vortex capital of the world or something, so if I get any pictures of unicorns or aliens or anything, you'll see it here first, on Blog Spleeness.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Interview with Quinn Cummings

I started reading The QC Report (Quinn Cumming's blog) last year when I adopted Sita, the kitten who turned my dog into a spastic predatory monster (see illustration of frequent impulses at left). A friend laughed at my trials and emailed me Quinn's latest post about her own new kitten. Here's an excerpt from that epic post describing her cat's reaction to the new foster kitty:
"Lulabelle, the cat, has taken the attitude of “That thing which is very ratlike and is shouting is not in my house. Because if it were in my house, I would have to deal with it, which would probably mean eating it, and I think you would get irrationally emotional about it. So, I’m going to ignore on a world-class level. If I have the misfortune to see her, I will indicate my displeasure by gurgling in rage for a few minutes and then vomiting."

I fell in love with Quinn's writing then and did a dance last week when her book, Notes from the Underwire, came out. She's now doing a blog tour and graciously agreed to answer my myriad questions about her writing, creativity, and crockpot. (Ok, so she volunteered the crockpot bit but I won't tell anyone you never use yours either if you keep that a secret.)

Read on: My interview with Quinn Cummings, author of Notes from the Underwire -->

Thursday, July 16, 2009

on the cheery subject of death

A good friend's mom just died. And I am struck again by the pain of loss. It's something that humbles us all, not just with death but breakups, moves, relocations, changes. I don't even know what to say or how to offer my condolences, my meager words seem so unworthy of capturing the pain or offering comfort.

I am not so naive that I think there is anything that can actually bring comfort at a time like this. But the truth is, I cannot hear the news without stepping into my friend's world and imagining the awful despair spinning around inside.

You'll never hear me say platitudes like, "it's for the best," or "God wanted it this way." Screw the best. When you're suffering loss, you just want the person back, dammit. Saying such hollow locutions offers nothing and in fact detracts from the very sympathy being offered. The only comfort, I believe, is to simply acknowledge the person's pain.

I don't know how to do this well. I think few of us do. Some people avoid doing anything at all because it's so uncomfortable but that's an even more egregious approach. My friend confessed to me, after suffering the recent loss of a sibling (making the loss of her mom even more sorrowful), that some coworkers neglected to sign a card or acknowledge her struggle.

She noticed.

And it stung.

I liken emotional pain to physical pain. Like a knife wound to the heart, you must accept that your body will heal on its own time schedule. If you impatiently rush the process, the delicate scabs over your psyche will rip open and bleed. After surgery, we are gentle on ourselves but it's harder to allow time and space to process everything when you can't see the injury.

Loss causes pain, and I am not talking just about death, but any kind of loss.

Loss of love, health, job, relationships, pets, innocence, joy, a role you've been playing, home, friendship, trust, youth, privacy, security, possibilities, beliefs, expectations, surroundings... even things that can sometimes be positive still involve loss and need to be processed. Loss is the one common thread that bonds us all. It doesn't matter how different we are, we are all the same in the face of bereavement.

People handle it differently. Some cry, some express their pain only in private. However it needs to be expressed is ok.

So I am dedicating TMI Thursday to anyone facing loss, and to my friend:
From In Blackwater Woods, by Mary Oliver

Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
I cannot ever read that poem without choking up and so now I am sitting here in the library fighting back tears. But I am thinking of you in your struggles. I don't want you to be alone.

“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief -
But the pain of grief
Is only a shadow
When compared with the pain
Of never risking love.”
--Hilary Stanton Zunin
. . .
Oh, my friend, it's not what they take away from you that counts. It's what you do with what you have left.
--William Cowper

Lastly, because I like to leave my posts on a more positive note, some cartoons on loss.

The lighter side:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

death by food poisoning, and other tales of our planned "camping" trip

This weekend we headed up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to camp. I'm not big into sleeping on the ground in the cold but I WILL do it. Each time I've gone camping, I've simultaneously thought, "this is amazingly beautiful!" and "I hope I don't get eaten by bears." Backpacking, where the object is to get as far away from people as possible, to me just means we're closer to the bear den.

We once camped where there were NO facilities whatsoever. By "facilities" I really mean toilet. You had to bring your own shovel and dig your own hole yourself. Can I tell you what a blast that is? Luckily, I went on a liquid diet the week before and thus did not need to inaugerate said shovel with any shameful yet necessary ceremonies.

Another thing about camping. Some women look beautiful without any work. I am not one of them. I need actual running water to wash my face and hair or I will look as if I slept on park bench downing whiskey and turning tricks all night. I am greatly aware of the role water plays in the development of civilization. Still, I'll agree to crawl into the woods anyway, as bear grub and all, for a good weekend out.

And so we planned a camping trip to show Dan's sister and her husband the beautiful North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The North Rim is completely different than the South Rim. Not only is it more secluded -- it gets about 1/10th the visitors of the South Rim -- it's also cooler and wetter. It's about 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim, surrounded by ponderosa pines and aspen. Although the canyon itself is about 10 miles wide, it takes about 4 hours to go from one side to the other. The North Rim is often closed in winter due to the heavy snows but summertime is a great time to visit.

So we went.

The morning started slow. It took 5 hours and several stops, including a dreaded Walmart visit, to get all our materials. With way too much food and luggage, we lumbered off towards the North Rim.

Halfway into the ride, Dan began to get a fever. By the time we arrived, he felt awful. We abandoned camping plans for the night and instead rented a small but cute cabin. There is no comfort like a warm and soft bed when you are sick.

But sleep was not to be had.
"The devil came to me last night and asked what I wanted in exchange for my soul. I still can't believe I said [mussels*]."
— Dan.
(*originally "pizza," original quote from Marc Ostroff)
The ensuing death-by-food-poisoning incident raged the entire night. I worriedly searched for information online in between hot compresses and sympathetic murmurings.

"If you have these symptoms," the text warned, "get thee to an emergency room!"

Of course, the nearest one was 60 miles away. And we had no phone service. Soon dawn arrived, thin slivers of light illuminating the dungeon of despair that had once been our cozy cabin.

I believe a lesser man would have died, literally, but Dan weakly crawled back into bed for a short nap before we were to meet our guests for breakfast. I looked over at his huddled form, relieved that the worst was over.
Meagre were his looks, Sharp misery had worn him to the bones.
Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Luckily, our guests did not hear the sounds of hell emanating from next door. They slept heartily and were ready for an enormous breakfast.

Dan was starving but unable to eat. He looked mournfully at his food and pushed the plate away.

Food poisoning that epic does not gracefully surrender without a few cruel tentacles reaching back for revenge, but we still managed to see quite a bit. I am still debating if this warrants a call to the health department. But in the meantime, I present to you pictures from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Me with my new fanny pack. Baby got back!

North Rim views flanked in between ponderosa pines.
Clouds rolled in as we wound down the road.

Paving the way for a beautiful rainbow.

A stand of skeletal remains of a once-noble
patch of forest;
owing to a controlled
burn that got out of hand.

Sunset on the rim.

On the ride home, we saw a fresh accident - a pickup truck overturned on the side of the road. We ran into the forest with other passersby looking for the injured. We didn't know if someone had been thrown or what. Cell service was zero but luckily a park ranger drove by just then and radioed for backup. Our extensive search mission revealed nothing. I can only hope that there were no serious injuries and that not finding someone means they were able to get up and walk away.

That was my weekend! Dan is almost fully recovered. I don't think he'll be eating mussels anytime soon.

Want to read more tales of food poisoning?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

photo of Dan holding fossilized dinosaur bone

Went to a lecture at Lowell Observatory on evolution. Dan holding a fossilized dinosaur bone. Do you see the SIZE of this thing?? Like a child's torso? Wow.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

TMI Thursday: unwanted groping

So I'm starting a new Thursday column called TMI Thursday. Here's where I'll try to talk about something difficult, embarrassing or otherwise TMI.

Today's topic? How some old guy groped me at work.

I've been mulling this around in my head for a while wondering how I'd broach it here with both honesty of how the experience stung and sensitivity to the groper's privacy.

I've made it through a good portion of my career without ever having anything like this happen. Penelope Trunk shares that she's fallen victim numerous times in a recent blog post where she says most cases are not worth reporting but not me.

If you can be frank about your (lack of) feelings and those boundaries are respected, I suppose you can move past the awkward moment, depending on the situation. But sometimes it's good to get it out. I've had enough distance from the incident now that I can share it.

I told myself that TMI Thursday would have one requirement: if I wasn't cringing about some aspect of the post, then it didn't qualify as TMI.

I am definitely cringing about this.

Instead of rewriting the details, I will include a portion from a letter I sent my dear Dad. I was shaking while writing:
At some point he looked like he might cry and I welled up. He held his arms out for a hug and I hugged him back, not thinking anything of it.

But then this is where it gets weird.

He began kissing my face. Not once, like the Italian way of pecking the cheek, but multiple little kisses that seemed to be trying to work their way to my mouth. I was horrified and turned my face away, pulled away and the hug broke up.

He said a couple of things too that I don't fully remember because my mind was too confused by what had just happened. But he said something like "(I made sense most of my life?) but with you I don't want to make sense." And then something about this being (or growing into??) a special "private friendship."

Before the hug, he mentioned his marriage having trouble but I didn't think anything of it at the time. The other things he said after the hug. I was really freaked out and not quite knowing how to respond to all this so I didn't say much.

Luckily his secretary knocked on the door to remind me the shuttle was leaving shortly. I bolted out but I was so shaken by the experience I basically cried the whole way home.
The whole experience was really creepy. The dude was basically my grandfather's age. It took a long time before I wasn't reliving his thin grisly lips grazing my cheek and bad breath hot on my face. I actually had to wash my cheek multiple times. I've seen people do this in the movies but never realized how involuntarily and yet necessary it is.

When I told Dan, he remarked how bold the guy seemed, how quick he was to make the "move." He wondered if this had happened before.

Rumor has it that it, indeed, has.

He's no longer working in my building. Rumor has it he was let go for this very behavior (although not my incident -- I didn't even tell anyone until after he was already gone).

Have you ever been faced with unwanted advances at work? How did you handle it? (You can comment anonymously, nothing about this website captures any information.)

The site "Sexual Harrassment Support" says that sharing the experience helps in processing it:
Because sexual harassment encompasses a vast range of behavior, there is much confusion about the problem. In truth, sexual harassment actually relies on a victim's uncertainty about how to describe, and label, what is happening to them. A rape victim knows when they have been raped, but sexual harassment victims often do not understand what they are experiencing, or even why they are being hurt by it. Even if they can describe the experience to themselves, victims often differ in their willingness to accept what is happening.

Most often, when a sexual harassment victim speaks out about what they are experiencing, they are the ones who are considered the problem, not the harasser.

For these reasons, and the fear that harassment can incite, most victims never report what they have experienced. Often, they do not even talk about it to friends and family. Plus, when there is denial (including institutional denial), disbelief or placement of
blame on the victim, recovery is much more difficult.
The guy did apologize later, after I saw him at a party. He came up to me and asked, "Will I get to see you later??" and I said, "um, I'm here now!" and then avoided him the rest of the night. He got the hint because he came over and apologized, saying he misinterpreted the situation. At least he had dignity enough for that.
Rules for sexual harrassment in the workplace:
  1. If you are attracted to someone, try to use their body language to see if they return the feelings. Note: polite eye contact is an insufficient marker of reciprocity, especially as it is a desireable trait in today's American work force. (e.g.: Someone looking at you while you are speaking does not mean they are ready to rip off their clothes, in case you missed that in social skills 101.)
  2. If you were rejected the last 10 times you did this, think twice about the next 10 times.
  3. If you hold a position of prestige and power and will be ashamed if you are found out, don't do it.
  4. If you are found out, it's your own damn fault. Shoulda known better.
  5. It is unwise to mistake empathy and compassion for passion if none of the other signals mesh (also usually covered in social skills 101).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

facebook rant

Joshlos and Hautepocket ranted about Facebook recently and now I'm piping in.

A bunch of people recently found me on Facebook but I rejected their requests because I didn't remember them. I made a funny comment about this but one new friend wrote, "Well I don't remember you but your name sounded familiar." I was all, "well, why did you friend me then?" But I didn't say it. She was sweet in high school so whatever. And also, I friended some peeps that may not have remembered me so I'm guilty of this too.

But it got me thinking. Here are my rules/requests for Facebook:

1. Please do not friend me if you don't know me. Don't use me just to beef up your friend list. Only friend me if you actually like me.

2. If you've ever tried to kick my ass, we probably were not great friends. If you fall under this category and I accepted your friend request anyway, it's only because I want to see what kind of trailer you're living in now. (Special exception: if you apologized for trying to kick my ass and we can now laugh about it.)

Note: Finding me on the internet only to call me a dork does NOT make us friends.

3. Enough with the quizzes! I don't care what kind of vampire you'd be, which insomniac lizard you'd make or what your chinese astrology profile was for one of your past lives. Quizzes are stupid*. Well maybe they're fun to fill out and even sometimes read -- I'm not a complete facebook quiz/game nazi -- but moderation is key, folks! (*exception: if I'm crazy about you, because then I love reading it all.)

-->Facebook request: can't you let me pick what kinds of info I want to receive??

4. Don't post every 7 minutes. Y'all are drowning out other peeps. I don't have time to login every day or scroll through several pages to read updates.

-->Facebook, can't you bring back the "see more/less about this person" feature??

5. Current friend management sucks. I actually got so overwhelmed by my news feed that I went online and researched how to manage it, which makes me a super double ultra nerd.

Anyway, I found strategies in a discussion forum (this is actually a hot topic -- I'm not the only dweeb trying to do this) and someone wrote that they create 3 lists: "we're friends," "we're friendly," and "we're acquaintances." You can customize who sees what.

So I started to do this. I got 3 people deep into my list before I tossed the whole idea. I'll just have to outsource this to my database manager, it's not worth the time.

6. Please don't be boring.

What's boring? Here's boring:
"They lost the game in 14 innings! Visitors scored 4 runs in the top of the 14th."
Why is this boring? Well, I hate sports. But really it's because I want to hear about YOU.

The actual update I borrowed this from wasn't so bad because it did actually include what they were doing, but I needed a good example for my blog so I edited it. (Sorry, friend, to throw you under the bus, but my blog stats are at stake!)

Yes, I am demanding with my Facebook rules, all of which I have violated myself sometime or another. But if we're friends, you already know this and like me anyway. :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

new couch! Pictures, and what I learned from Craigslist

Yesterday we rented a trailer and drove 5 hours to & from Phoenix to get furniture. The main aim was a couch -- if you've been following my couch saga, you know how hard it's been for me to find one in Flagstaff. So I somehow thought this was necessary.

I will NEVER do this again.

But it was worth it, just this once.

Originally I picked out what looked like an awesome couch on Craigslist.

Warning sign #1 should have been how many times it was rejected by others. Did I realize this? NO. I thought, wow, lucky us! It's still available!

Instead, said couch was barely fit to be moved to the dumpster. Both arms had fallen off and were attached only by strings of fabric.

Dan carefully turned the couch over to survey damage and (when he stopped coughing from all the hair, dirt, mites, crayons and children that fell out) could see the wooden frame broken to bits inside. "Hmmm," he said. "I don't think we'd even be able to carry this out without it falling apart."

With indignant desperation, they replied, "Well, we've moved it 3 times this year alone!"

Yes, lady. That's why it's broken.

So, not everyone's honest when they're desperate. I've learned some other things about furniture shopping on Craigslist:

1. The number of exclamation points used in the ad does not translate into buyer enthusiasm:
"This ones [sic] a real beauty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
This does not make me say, "OMG I'm leaving now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll pay you double!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Triple!!!!!!!!!"

2. Your ad should be literate. I want to feel like I can do a monetary exchange with someone who has basic skills and can give me proper change.
im selling my couch bc were moving and i need right away to sale!
Well, I need to buy a couch from someone who is literate.

3. All capital letters are a turn off. They're hard to read and make you desperate and annoying.
These ads also usually appear with violations 1 & 2.

4. Saying "It's a STEAL!!!!" does not make it so. The most hideous couches were almost always preceded with "gorgeous sofa!!!!"

5. If you have to repost your ad ten times, there's something wrong with it. Probably that you're asking too much for the item -- even the most hideous couches will disappear if reasonably-priced. You can get rid of anything at the right price.

I responded to an ad for a couch set someone was trying to sell for a month. In Craigslist time, that's like a year.

Growing up both with a family in the moving & storage industry AND having worked as a classified sales rep placing ads for used furniture all day, I have a feel for used goods. These people were asking $1750. I offered them the going rate ($500) and they were appalled. "But we're asking HALF of what we paid for it!! We're not even using it, it's sitting in storage!"

Fine, then keep paying your storage fees on it. And I'm sorry to inform you that you got ripped off. Your items NEW are barely worth $1750, and I don't even want all of them. Couches are like computers. What you paid does not dictate market rate. DEMAND dictates market rate.

6. Pictures! Please please post photos of your items!

I spent 2 hours Friday going to see someone's couch because it sounded nice. They neglected to mention the couches were discolored pink from the sun. Not just one shade of pink either, which may have worked, but 16 different shades of pink. When you say your couch is "brown," I don't care what color it was when you bought it 15 years ago. What color is it NOW?

. . .

Anyway so we found a couch. Here are some updated pix:

The couch comes off the trailer.

Getting ready to haul it up the steps.
Something tells me we'll be posting a
similar ad to this when we move out:
Free couch, if you can bend time and/or space."

A queen couch bed for our guests!

The couch in place.
Next we have to find desks. As long as I'm
using a fold-out table, I'm going to
feel like I'm at a convention.

Kitchen with our "new" little table to the right.

Happy 4th!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Scenes around Flagstaff, Arizona

A short post for a long holiday weekend: scenes around Flagstaff.

Someone cruised over to the supermarket
and left their pet goat in the car waiting.

Yes, I said GOAT.

This place is lousy with hikers. Here's a guy
who looks like he has his entire dorm room
on his back. And he makes it look effortless!

From one of Lowell Observatory's historical telescopes. The punching mitt is about forehead height. I have to think it wasn't there in 1896 when the rest of the structure was erected but hey, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure...!
This last one is from when we were apartment shopping. Look past the wall. Do you see the slightest hint of a white porcelain structure peeking through? It's hard to see in this photo, but where I am standing in the doorway is about where a bed would be. But there is NO DOOR. No door to the closet and no door to the bathroom right next to it.

I noticed this immediately in the model and asked, "so, the *actual* apartment would have a door here, right?" (motioning at the frame). The saleslady followed my gesture from the bed to the toilet. "Um, no, actually, there is not."

Well, that's a giant FAIL. Just because you can't see my arse on the john doesn't mean that's good enough. Knees need privacy too. (Not to mention the problem of additional sensory violations.) Wow. So you can imagine this apartment was a NO.

Enjoy your 4th, may you have access to plenty of great facilities, and maybe even see a goat!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

photos from the weekend's hike up a volcano

SP crater hike.
I make it look easy, eh?

(A friend of mine wrote, upon seeing this photo,
"Nice views. I hope you were able to enjoy
them on your klutzy waltz to the top." ha!)

So Sunday we hiked up SP crater, about 25 miles from here. (Don't worry mom, it's no longer active! The last time it erupted was 11,000 years ago. :)

It took 2.5 hours to get to the top, 800 feet high, because that baby was STEEP, a 35-45 degree angle. And difficult! You ever climb a sand dune? One step forward, two steps back. You know the feeling you get watching your feet sink into the earth and slide backwards as your hiking companion (and their rescue cell phone) disappears over the horizon? Yeah, it's awesome.

Seriously, it was a blast. Here are some photos from the day:

Walking up.

See the angle? It's pretty steep!

Dan at the top. The mountain ridges
all around are old volcanoes.

I'm really into flowers lately. They're
so striking against the Arizona sky.

There are more flowers than normal
because of the unusual amount of rain
this region has seen.

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