How to Be a Gaper

Gaper Day is a tradition at ski resorts. Even if they don’t have a party, the last day of the season brings out the gaper in most skiers and snowboarders. We drove to Vail for their closing day. They had their spring splash the weekend before, but it didn’t dampen the party atmosphere.

What’s a Gaper?

How to be a GaperThis term generally describes someone whose helmet slips back on their head creating the dreaded gap between their noggin protector and their goggles, revealing loads of forehead. This usually accompanies first time skier attire: Jeans, firefighter, camouflage or blaze orange deer hunting jackets… You get my drift.

On the last day of the season this is expanded to skier attire circa 1970-80’s or full on crazy costumes.

We went all out this year. Since I donated my old gear long ago, I chose a fairy costume because who doesn’t like fairies? Skiing with wings did nothing help me float above the slushy snow. It must have been in the 60’s! Rarely have I been overheated while skiing. It was a great spring purge.

How to be a gaper

We hit Aspen Highlands on their closing day, but it was much colder.

Aspen Highlands closing day party

It takes a gaper to know a gaper.

gapers in Vail

The end of the season went out with a lot of giggles and a few hearty guffaws. Don’t worry. A-basin will be open until June.

I’m donning quite a different outfit Friday night for Pikes Peak Writers Conference’s Heroes and Villains Party. Stay tuned…

Do you like dressing up? When was the last time you wore a wig? Danny really rocked his dreadlocks. Ha!

Related Posts:

Gapers Cheat Summer – Another Photo Adventure

Back on the Boards!

 

 

 

Wild Conversations Overheard in Malibu and Boulder

Eavesdropping, overheard and entertained in Malibu and Boulder.

I’ve overheard a lot of wild conversations. I’m an eavesdropper by nature. Shh! Don’t tell anyone… It can be very entertaining.

Here are three conversations I’ve overheard. I just had to share:

#1. While visiting Malibu, I walked through a parking a lot filled with sports cars and other gleaming top-of-the-line vehicles. A middle-aged couple walked toward me while holding hands. The man talked in a loud voice for my benefit, I’m sure.

“What was I supposed to say to the guy? Yes, I loved your script, especially the part when they humped in every scene.”

Dogs? Teenagers? Who knows? Gotta love Malibu.

#2. While hiking on a trail north of Malibu, I overheard a wild story. Two young ladies leaned in while another spoke. I tried to keep up with their brisk pace.

“My friend, George, who worked as a waiter, flew in from London for a few days. It was his birthday. We went out to celebrate, but he drank way too much and got wasted really early. When he realized he was making a fool of himself, he went outside to get some fresh air.

He walked out to the alley, sat down next to a dumpster and fell sound asleep. At one point, he woke up because his shoes felt too tight, so he took them off. Then he crashed out again.

We didn’t know where he went, so we stayed at the bar and hoped he would show up before they closed.

When he woke up a little later, a few hookers had gathered around him. He tried to stand up. One of them was concerned and said, ‘Babe, you don’t look so good. Can we help you get home?’

‘My friends are inside,’ he said, so two of the hookers helped him to his feet and brought him back into the bar.

When he stumbled over to us, I noticed he was barefoot and carrying his shoes. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing them.

‘My shoes are too tight.’

We helped him over to a booth and looked at his feet. Then we totally freaked out. While he slept in the alley, someone had driven over them. He never felt a thing.

We took him to the hospital. He had all kinds of broken bones. He had blown his money on the plane ticket and had a huge hospital bill. He flew home on crutches with casts on his feet.”

I couldn’t hear the rest over all the giggles and the oh, my Gods. Poor George. If you’re reading this, I’d love to hear about your recovery.

#3. One weekend in September, I walked out of a Boulder, Target store and overheard a tall CU student. He spoke loudly on his phone.

“I bagged a heifer,” he said with a thick Texas accent. I imagined laughter on the other end of the line. “No, she’s really cute.” The receiver of the call must have argued. “No, no, no. She’s my girlfriend.” He paused and then said, “Isn’t that what they call a female buffalo?”

A misfired joke about dating a young woman who attends CU. Their mascot is a buffalo.

Here are the morals of the three overheard stories:

#1. Sex sells, but oversaturation in any medium can get old and tired and so would the actors. *budumbum*

#2. Binge drinking can get anyone into loads of trouble. Remember the buddy system and steel-toed boots.

#3. Be careful when trying to impress your friends. They might get the idea that you’re misogynistic or need a lesson in Dad jokes. By the way, a female buffalo is a cow. Not much better. 

Have you overheard a conversation worth remembering? 

Related posts:

Random Acts of Chat – Dave Barry, Stephen King, Erma Bombeck and Jesus walk into a bar…

When People Think You’re Crazy – I entertained others with my conversation with me, myself and I, in a grocery store.

Daily Prompt – Chuckle

5 Things You Must Do for Your Birthday!

5 things to do for yourself on your birthdayHate celebrating your birthday? Always disappointed? I had a very Happy Birthday on the 11th and celebrated it BIG time this year. How? Easy. I depended on myself to have fun.

5 things you must do for your birthday:

#1. Take control. Plan your day in advance.

Waiting around for someone else to plan it is too much pressure on friends and family. Make it easy. Do it yourself.

Me – I didn’t want to exhaust myself with appointments and running around all day. Instead, I planned two outings and dinked around with a new toy I bought for my birthday. My son, Kelly, picked it out. *hint, hint* You’ll find out soon enough.

#2. Lower your expectations.

Oh, sure it would be great to be asked out to lunch or walk into a surprise party, but what if it doesn’t happen? Don’t let disappointment ruin your day.

Me – I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. I stuck to my plan.

#3. Pamper yourself.

Make an appointment for a massage, facial, nail or hair appointment. Or why not meet with a fortune teller. Ha! Hopefully they will tell you the next year will rock.

Me – I got my hair cut. Then I took a long nap and watched a movie. Why not? It was my day!

#4. Go out for a meal.

Whether you go with a special someone or go by yourself, be sure to pick your favorite restaurant and eat something delicious.

Me – I met my family in Denver for dinner at one of my favorites, Venice Ristorante.

Interior of Venice Ristorante from their site

#5. Enter three highlights into a gratitude journal at the end of the night. There’s a lot to be thankful for. You lived another year. Yay!

Me – It’s been exactly one month since my brother, Joe, passed away. I’m remembering him through my journal by living my wild life.

Many people hate birthdays since they feel horrible about being one year older. Get over it! Remember the alternative. I’ve faced down my own death (evil death!) and tried to breathe life into one who had passed. Birthdays are what life is all about. Bring them on!

This was all I needed.

Five things you must do on your birthday

Do you celebrate your birthday? What’s your favorite thing to do?

Related posts:

I Celebrated a Birthday, but Failed to Save a Life

When You put Your Dog in Charge of Your Birthday – VLOG

I’m Planning on a Happy Birthday!

When Death Sits on My Face

I went to a therapist for the first time with the intention of getting over my brother’s sudden death after trying to save him. When my father died, it hit me harder the second six months. I needed some coping skills. I wanted to expedite the process of grieving. Get over it faster.

“I know you want to move on quickly. Are you avoiding the death of your brother?” my therapist asked.

“Are you kidding me?” I said and threw my hands in the air while looking skyward. “Death is sitting on my face.”

It has taken up residency in a part of my brain and won’t move out. I would love to give it an eviction notice. Better yet, break down the door and beat the crap out of it.

While sprawled out in a recliner, death takes control of the remote and oozes a lens over my eyes throwing everything askew. My clouded perception warps sunny days and blows a draft through my heart. I shiver.

I’m done with death.

It’s a lying, cheating, deceitful son-of-a-bitch. I don’t want anyone to die ever again.

When I told my friend, Bill Hurtley the funeral director, he laughed.

“That would be a disaster.”

I imagined airlines for the elderly and low profile nursing homes replaced by skyscrapers. Soon there would be more golden agers than any other age group.

“So what?”

It’s been a struggle. Death comes in waves. My waves are timed different than everyone else in my family. While one of us is chillin’ in the water doing the backstroke, another is drowning. It’s unpredictable.

The water metaphor comes up all the time. It’s ironic how we arrived home to water pouring through the ceiling. “You should immerse yourself in death,” said my therapist. “Write about it.”

“Do I have to?” I felt like a kid who was told they couldn’t go out for recess, but had to stay inside to do homework.

Here goes:

Back in Wisconsin, I had a beautiful dream about water. I soaked in a vast infinity pool in a room where everything was covered in cream-colored marble. Gorgeous. Alone, the sound of water soothed me, although the temperature was cooler than I’d like. I stepped out and walked down endless smooth steps as a gentle waterfall trickled past my bare feet. I smiled and woke up.

I’ve had a strong desire to swim ever since. I’m desperate to wash away this broken feeling in my gut. Thoughts of baptism and rebirth keep seeping from my subconscious. Weird.

We grow strong attachments to the ones we love. When they die, it tears a part of us emotionally and physically. That feeling is real. The gouge, torn in my flesh, seems irreparable, infected, and sore. Unpredictable triggers throw salt on the open wound.

Then I imagine water pouring through me to repair the damage. I remember that feeling of walking out of the pool whole again. What was that?

Hope, a little peace, maybe even happiness.

Skiing after my brother's death carrying weight in every turn.

I went skiing last weekend. I’ve skied after breast cancer, a partial knee replacement, and after my dad’s death. But with this shock, I carried the weight of death in every turn. Yet at the end of the run, I smiled. That’s hope.

Life moves on and I go skiing.

My brother died on March 11th, two days after my mom’s birthday. My birthday is April 11th. In a week, I’ll lock death’s guest bedroom door and will sneak off to take a holiday from grieving, if only one hour at time. I’ll take baby steps toward that marble pool.

Things will get better. Death will stop sitting on my face. It will pack its bags and the wound will heal. I wish I could expedite the process. If only I could snatch the remote from its rotted fingers and hide the batteries.

How do you handle hardship? Have you ever wanted to kick someone out of your head?

Related posts:

I Celebrated a Birthday, but Failed to Save a Life

A Cosmic Joke after Trauma

 

I Celebrated a Birthday, But Failed to Save a Life.

Have you ever taken a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation class? I took one for a babysitting badge when I was in Girl Scouts. I remember the plastic dummy and going through the routine while hoping to God I’d never have to use it. Flash forward a few decades.

On March 9th, I flew back to Wisconsin for my mom’s eighty-seventh birthday. My brother, Joe McCartan, ordered a cake and I picked up flowers. Mom was so surprised! Over dinner that night, she told us she planned to live a long time. For her one-hundredth birthday, she wants a stylist to dye a blue streak in her hair. I love her attitude.

My brother is the king of joking around. I couldn’t get a picture of him when he wasn’t mugging for the camera.  When I left Colorado it was seventy degrees. Check out the temperature on my brother’s iPad.

Two days later, Joe drove to the butcher to buy steaks to grill and went to a chiropractic appointment. In February, he slid on black ice and crashed his car into a telephone pole. It exacerbated an already sore back.

Later, the three of us watched the UW Badgers cream Northwestern by thirty points. Being a yawnfest, Joe texted on his phone. He’s a highly sought after, free-lance, on-location sound technician for major networks, television, movies and corporations. Very excited, he read the thread out loud. It regarded a commercial he had been hired to record. The company wanted to shoot tight shots of musicians playing the oboe, violin and cello. He had texted the high school music teacher, who had all kinds of ideas.

“The kids will love being in a commercial.” Joe was stoked.

“Sounds like you contacted the right person,” I said and yawned. “I think I’ll take a quick nap.” I walked upstairs to my room.

When I returned downstairs, Mom played Words with Friends in the kitchen while the steaks thawed in a pan. I had planned to walk the dog, but Joe had already left with Charlie. I opened my laptop and wrote my last post about daylight savings time. After dinner I thought it would be fun to play a game and take some group selfies.

Always pretty high energy, Joe burst through the door led by their Collie.

“I just missed you,” I said, looking up from my computer.

“Yep,” was all he said. Then he ran up the back stairs to his apartment behind my mom’s Victorian. I heard his footsteps overhead and then settled in to proof my stupid post.

He moved in a year before my dad passed away and has been taking care of Mom. He’s been a godsend, taking her to appointments, shopping and the little things, like setting the table for meals. He brings her tea and puts her eyedrops in before bed. My mom is super sharp, but has glaucoma and hasn’t been able to drive for years.

When Joe didn’t come downstairs, Mom said, “What’s taking him so long? We need to get the steaks on the grill.”

I shrugged and more time passed.

“Go check on Joe,” she said. “I don’t want to eat at 8:00.”

“Give him a few more minutes,” I said, knowing he liked his privacy.

A few more minutes passed and I ran upstairs.

I opened his door and peeked inside. “Hey, Joe!” I shouted. You have to walk through a kitchen to get to the large open, living and dining space.

“Joe! Time to make dinner,” I shouted through the doorway.

No response.

I stepped inside and saw him chilling in front of the computer. His arms relaxed on the armrests, his head was cocked backward and his mouth hung open.

“No wonder you didn’t hear me. You’re sound asleep.”

Still no response.

Something was wrong. “Joe! JOE!” I raced up to him and patted his pale cheeks.

No response.

“Oh, my God!” I felt for a pulse in his neck, but couldn’t find one. His lips were white. He wasn’t breathing. I screamed to my mom. She called 911, hysterical when the operator didn’t understand what was going on. I used my fingertips on his wrist and heard quick taps racing across the surface. Were they mine? 

Just like I’d been taught all those years ago, I started mouth-to-mouth and alternated with the CPR technique I’d learned on the Internet. One, two, three, four, staying alive, staying alive… I’m sure only minutes passed, but it seemed like an hour before the first responders arrived. They tried everything, but couldn’t get a pulse. Hope slipped away.

The paramedics came and hooked up a CPR machine and breathing tube. I went downstairs to check on my mom. Her friends, Kathy and Roger Roth, consoled her on the couch. Time passed. I ran back upstairs. “Did you get a pulse?”

“No, nothing,” one of the paramedics replied. I felt so guilty. I didn’t do it right. I could have saved him, but I failed! I couldn’t stop sobbing.

After answering tons of questions about his health, I went back downstairs. By that time, the funeral director, Bill Hurtley, and the priest from across the street, Fr. Dooley, had arrived. I got to know and love both of them when they took care of my dad’s funeral. Bill brought my mom back from her catatonic state with his dry humor.

Anxiety filled my empty stomach with broken glass. I turned to Bill for support. “I wrote a stupid blog post and didn’t come upstairs in time. I screwed up. I could’ve saved him.” Tears streamed down my cheeks.

He looked me in the eyes and said, “You found him relaxed in his chair, right?”

I nodded.

“There was nothing you could do. He threw a clot,” Bill said.

“What?”

“A blood clot. Believe me, I see a lot of dead people,” he said. “It’s what I do. Heart attacks are pretty uncomfortable. The victim has time to react, so we usually find them on the floor. Throwing a blood clot is painless. It happens to runners all the time. They go for a run and as soon as they sit in a chair, they die.”

“Why am I here if I couldn’t save him?” I asked.

“For your mother,” he said. “If she would have discovered him, it would’ve been a shock she would never have recovered from.” He took a moment and added, “Don’t blame yourself. Even if someone throws a clot in the hospital, no one can save them.”

An autopsy would have cost five to six thousand dollars. Bill insisted it would be a waste of money. Pulmonary embolism. It’s what people get from sitting too long on planes. Who knows where Joe got his clot. Surgery two years ago? The accident? Bumping into something and not telling anyone about it? We’ll never know. He wasn’t on blood thinners. I’m taking a baby aspirin now.

Alive and vibrant one minute and then gone the next. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

My little brother, who towered more than a foot over me, who did lotus position yoga with me when he was little for giggles, who I took to all kinds of concerts and events when I was in high school and college since I feared our almost ten year age difference would cause us to drift apart. My little brother who I loved dearly is dead at forty-nine years old. I was only a few steps away. How can that be?

He was a saxophone player in a band and was a local celebrity. He worked with people all across the United States. His Facebook and funeral home page are filled with heartfelt shock and condolences. We planned his funeral for March 25th at St. Paul’s Church across the street from their home in Evansville.

Being the writer in the family, I had to write his obituary. It was tough enough when I wrote my dad’s and felt tremendous pressure to do Joe’s life justice. His friend and co-worker, videographer Eric Janisch helped fill in the work details. You can read Joe’s obit here.

Two things I discovered on my own might help others.

  • I couldn’t get the image of him sitting in the chair out of my head. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw him. I must not have blinked the whole time I ran toward him. I stayed up all night. It was the same the next day as neighbors and relatives arrived. My husband, Danny, flew out that afternoon. As I drove toward the Dane County Airport I noticed some perfectly formed trees silhouetted in the snow. I picked one and stared at it as I drove toward it. I closed my eyes and saw the tree. It totally worked. That horrific last image of Joe disappeared, at least from my retinas.
  • Exhausted, I didn’t dare take a nap. Experiencing the shock all over again upon waking is the worst. In the past it has taken weeks for my brain to wrap itself around death. I wondered if saying it out loud to myself would speed up the process. I gave it a try. “Joe is dead. He died and you couldn’t save him. He’s not coming back.” I repeated it again before I picked up Danny and then twice before falling asleep. It worked.

Danny and I have lost half our families in two years; his bother and mom, my dad, then his mom’s boyfriend of fifteen years and now, my brother. It’s devastating to lose the people we love.

What about that quick tapping in Joe’s wrist? I hadn’t told anyone. Even though others shared the cause of death idea, I still wondered if it was instant as the funeral director and doctor claimed.

Days later, I remembered. “Make sure to lay your fingers across the wrist or you’ll feel your own pulse,” the instructor had told the Girl Scouts. I held my husband, Danny’s wrist in a different way. A strong slow pulse throbbed beneath his bones. No quick tapping on the surface. It had been mine I felt, not Joe’s.

There was nothing I could do. He had already passed.

How am I? Better. I’m grateful for the time we had together. Looking back, the timing of my visit seems serendipitous. I’ll embrace my grief and will remember him always.

Joe McCartan

Spring is emerging after a long winter dormancy. I see everything more intensely now and understand life’s fragility. Everyone will die. Life is impermanent. The trick is to live each day with appreciation and wonder.

In memory of my brother, I will start a nightly journal. I’ll list three positive things that happened during the day. He would’ve liked that.

What about my mom?

Many of her friends have offered to help. At this point, she won’t consider moving to Colorado with my brother and dad inurned in Madison. We’ll do whatever it takes to celebrate her one-hundredth birthday. I want to see her rock that blue streak.

My Crazy Mind and Eating Without Inhaling

My Crazy Mind and Eating Without Inhaling.What if there was a way to slow down and enjoy what we eat? I would love that. Sometimes, when I’m hungry, I inhale my food. I look at my empty plate and think, “When did that happen?”

You might have heard about mindful eating. It means savoring each bite by setting down your fork to chew your food and really taste it. That would be swell, but when I think about what I eat, it hardly deserves the time.

  • A piece of toast with coffee.
  • Granola, fruit and yogurt between 9:00 and 10:00.
  • A half sandwich and soup for lunch.
  • Something cooked quickly for dinner or leftovers. I love using the crock pot and made enough beef stew last night for a family of eight. 

So this morning, I ate a bowl of cereal – I have no idea what kind – and had an AHA moment.

This is how my crazy mind works. See if you can follow along…

I had been dinking around on Pinterest and they recommended several boards filled with everything French. One woman in a goofy pose reminded me of Me!

While on our two trips to France, I always looked forward to mealtimes and eating at sidewalk cafes and restaurants. Chefs use fresh ingredients, lots of butter, dairy without preservatives, and nothing GMO’d. Yum.

On my last trip to Los Angeles my son, Kelly, and I went to Aroma Coffee and Tea in Studio City, one of my favorite restaurants. It reminds me of France. It’s a converted home filled with windows. They have a breakfast salmon stack that is so delicious, my mouth waters while recalling its tastiness. The flavor explodes in my mouth. Their secret? A twist on an eggs Benedict built on two potato pancakes instead of a boring old English muffin. It is so good!

I never finish it and take half of it home. Why?

Because I savor every bite.

This photo is from Aroma Coffee and Tea’s Instagram account.

Aroma Coffee and Tea

I thought about French food and how rich it can be. Flavorful cheeses. Chocolate that melts in your mouth. Strong coffee. Savory dishes. When I eat grilled cheese, my taste buds snooze because I’m used to cheddar. A couple gulps and it’s gone. But if I made my sandwich with an unfamiliar cheese, my they might wake up, right?

Wouldn’t that slow down my inhaling process? Maybe I would taste my food and experience a meal. I might actually remember what I ate. Wow.

I asked my husband, Danny, about it and he said, “We could eat different colored jello every day!” He always takes me so seriously.

With only two of us at home, I make too much and throw it out. I enjoy cooking, but I don’t plan our meals ahead of time. Dinner has become a yawnfest.

2017 is the Year of the Big Chill. I vowed to work hard, but play harder. So far I’ve seen huge results. Taking breaks has kept me from entering the Internet free-time death spiral. When I fill out my planner, I add playtime just like work. What if I added cooking to the schedule? It wouldn’t take that much longer to make a gourmet dinner.

Years ago, when I first read A Year in Provence, I loved the idea of going to the market and buying fresh ingredients to make a brilliant meal each night. I fantasized about a life in the future when Danny and I would bike to the market. We would select their freshest fish, vegetables, and herbs, then bike home to make a fabulous meal together.

*insert needle scratching record here* We live on a big hill. It’s winter. The larger supermarkets require driving on the highway.

Instead, Danny comes home at night and finds me with my head bent over my laptop. I look up and say, “Wow. You’re home already?” My mind races to the limp broccoli in the bin, the huge bag of carrots I bought weeks ago, and what might possibly be hidden under thick frost in the freezer.

With a little planning, we could eat like kings. Why not queens? Okay, now I’m thinking off topic.

I mentioned dusting off my cookbooks and Danny said, “I like the idea of buying fresh food from the market every day and then making dinner.” I think he’s excited about eating dinner.

Going gourmet and making an effort is worth a try. I wonder if one of those French Pinterest boards contains recipes. Hmm. Maybe that goofy girl, who looked like me, cooks.

So what’s on the menu?

I’ll go to the store as soon as we eat all the leftover beef stew.

What’s for dinner at your house? Are you in a food rut? Do you inhale or savor every bite?

Related posts:

My Resolution Failures and the Year of the Big Chill

How to Unplug 4 Hours – It works!

Telltale Signs You Need a Break

A response to the Daily Post – Ruminate

Fantastic Meme Found in Crested Butte

bikes leaning across trail Telluride

Danny and I biked on a trail through Crested Butte. As we rode out of town, we noticed a gathering of people taking pictures. We dropped our bikes, walked up to the cement post, and cracked up.

Things I hate meme from Crested Butte

I would love to meet the person who graffitied it. This is my kind of humor.

If you had the opportunity and courage to graffiti, what would yours say?

Mine would say:

Things I love –

1 . Respect for property

2 . Natural selection

3 . Sarcasm

I still like the other one better.

Have you ever graffitied anything? A wall? A desk? A tree? Would you?