Thank you, Stan Lee

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It's over 20 years late, but thank you, Stan Lee. Bet you never thought that snotty chick from the comic shop in a little town in Oklahoma would be wearing Captain America leggings. Actually, you probably wouldn't be surprised. I shook your hand and told you I didn't read any of those mainstream comics. I liked indie titles. (Yeah, I thought I was edgy.) You told me you just liked heros and seeing the good guys win. Then you smiled and told me you didn't mind that I wasn't a fan. You were just glad I was having fun. I had some sanctimonious junk in my head about the crass commercialism. Blah blah blah. This was around the time Image Comics came about. Angela was my gateway drug. A character who due to a very strange custody battle is part of the Marvel family now. I suppose I'm still following her around. You were gracious and kind. I was a brat. You were right, the world needed heros. Still does. Thank you for bringing us so many and always having so much fun with it. I never got to tell you that I'm sorry for being a brat so many years ago. I don't know when it happened, but you became a hero to me.

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Thank you for making the world more magical and not calling me out for being so full of myself.

End of an Era

Adventures await

The only constant is change

Never be static

Yes, I know I missed last week. Haiku Friday is a new feature and sometimes life throws curve balls. The line for refunds forms to the right. Have your receipts handy.

End of an Era

Thirteen years in sixteen boxes. I don’t know yet what the next adventure will be, but I really do believe it’ll be even better than the last. One must have endings in order to have new beginnings and all of that. I’ve no intention of being knocked down.

Meanwhile, maybe I’ll get to spend a little more time tending my little corner of the internet. I make no promises. Hopefully, I’ll have time to take more pictures. I’ve got a little wiggle room to really figure out which path to choose, or more likely do the very Jennifer thing and blaze my own once I’ve got an idea of where I’m going. I’m glad you’re along for the ride, but I do recommend you buckle up and perhaps consider wearing a helmet. And you probably shouldn’t eat the ornamental peppers.

Ornamental Peppers

 

New Year, New… Nah, Still the Same Me

Maybe? Sort of. I mean, I am always me but I am an always evolving and changing me. Or, at least I hope to be anyway.

Here we are, it’s 2018. I’d like to promise you all more regular content in the new year, but I can’t. This whole going back to school while working a more than full time job thing saps a fair amount of the blogging mojo. I miss it though, so hopefully I’ll find some moments to squeeze in more blog time.

So, what has Jennifer been up to lately? I’ve taken up weight lifting. Just a little, but I’m really enjoying it. I’ve got friends that are far more hardcore about it. Competitive lifting types. I’m not trying to get there, but I’m enjoying the added strength and muscular definition. Generally speaking, even with the scoliosis and extruded disc, my back doesn’t hurt anymore. Yeah, I still need regular adjustments, but I’m not likely to throw something out in my day-to-day activities or even a heavy yard work day. If you follow me on Instagram, you’re likely to get tired of flex pics and food. Don’t expect a lot of activity there either.

Still making progress towards the accounting degree. I’ll happily talk assets, liabilities, and equity and the various ways to figure depreciation with you. I’m apparently a glutton for punishment and am taking some programming courses to satisfy the elective requirements. Current course is Secure Coding in C/C++. Got to be honest, it still sounds like a lot of gibberish, but everything I’ve written so far works, so there’s that.

I moved from a supervisory role to an analyst role professionally. It’s a lateral move that should allow me to explore some projects that interest me personally. It’s different and kind of scary, but I really do think it’s going to be a positive move for me. It’s been a long time since no one reported to me, but the new flexibility should be exciting.

Doing some more photography. Something that really warms my heart is that I’ve been able to use it to give back to my community. That picture in this slide show here with the boy that’s so happy with a blanket is mine. This one
Just a blanket
This organization serves disadvantaged youth in the community and they asked us to come and take pictures for the Christmas party. All these kids make Christmas lists. This boy only asked for a blanket because he’d never had one of his own. I’m so humbled that I was there with my high-dollar camera and fancy lens to capture this moment. I wanted to run out and buy a pile of blankets and build him a blanket fort. This is one of my favorite photos that I’ve taken, and it simultaneously makes me want to smile and cry. It’s easy to get hung up on the fact that I don’t live in a nicer house or drive a nicer car, but I’ve always had a blanket that I can call my own. His joy is real here. At his feet was a duffel bag full of beautifully wrapped packages that he didn’t touch. The blanket was the only thing he wished for.

For 2018, I want to take a lesson from blanket boy and celebrate the small blessings. I have a roof over my head and food to eat. I have a job I enjoy and work with an amazing team of people. I have the most amazing friends and family and the lines separating such are fuzzy to non-existent. I am blessed and rich in the things that are actually important. I want to actively celebrate that.

 

Life is a Terminal Condition

If you know me, you’ve likely heard me say this. I stole it. It’s not my quote, but I have permission to use it. So, maybe I didn’t exactly steal it. This guy said it.

Michael Logan

I met Michael Logan 4ish years ago. I heard the whirr of his mobility scooter and I was trapped. It was a meeting of the Retro Gamers Society, a group Evyl and I had recently joined. Before me sat an older gentleman in said scooter with a flag attached. It was a black flag with a skull adorned in sugar skull styling with a Legend of Zelda motif. Different, but definitely a flavor of different that I could relate to.

I once cringed at the sound of that whirr. I knew, regardless of whatever else I was doing or where I was going that whirr meant I was spending at least the next twenty minutes of my life with Michael Logan. Didn’t take long before I started looking forward to those encounters and even sought them out. There was a distinct loss to those meetups where I didn’t hear the whirr.

Walk and talk

Evyl and I have been cat-herding the photography team for SuperBitcon! since year 2. In fact, my photos are still the official documentation for year one by crazy random happenstance. For these events, my extrovert tendencies turn up way past 11. I am a full-on pinball of Ooh! Shiny! Social Butterfly! I don’t stop moving. I high-five everyone.

So here I am in hyper-social my camera is my party cannon mode and there’s the whirr. Michael tells me to walk and talk. I slow down. I’d missed him as we hadn’t seen him for a few meet-ups. He told me he’d been in the hospital again but he was glad he got out in time for the convention. The guy had been on a mobility scooter and generally using oxygen for as long as I’d known him, so I knew he wasn’t in especially awesome health, but I had been unaware that he’d been so recently hospitalized.

I’ve been dying as long as you’ve known me, but everyone is. Life is a terminal condition.

He told me about how he had terminal cancer. The chemo, the bad heart, etc. I must have made concerned face because he assured me that it was all fine. He’d lived a great life and done things most people would never believe. He hadn’t always been the old fat guy in the chair, you know…

Terminal cancer or no, I just kind of expected to keep hearing that whirr, and it just became one of those constants that became a comfort. That whirr meant I was going to be regaled with a story which may or may not involve midget wrestling, or met with a unique bit of wry humor, or shown the newest bit of artwork by his daughter. I always knew I could find him holding down the fort at the Charity Bazaar during the convention. I believe it was year two and there was a super nifty if I do say so myself crocheted Legend of Zelda throw pillow up for grabs in the charity auction. Michael pointed it out to me talking about the hours and hours of labor involved in making it. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise until I could no longer control the giggling. Yeah, I made it. I know.

If I recall correctly, he got the second Legend of Zelda hat that I crocheted. Stole it fair and square in the annual RGS gift exchange. That whirr was the prelude to that laugh. A laugh that was always contagious and inclusive.

It was just assumed that I’d outlive Michael and now I have. That whirr is silenced. The day we all knew was coming has come. Far too quietly for my taste, but here we are. I still wasn’t ready. We certainly had our differing viewpoints on many, many things, but my life is richer and fuller for having known him and he will be missed. Please, read Evyl’s tribute as well. He was special to both of us.

As my friend so eloquently reminded me, life is a terminal condition.

*Tap*Tap*Tap* Is this thing still on?

So, hi.

I know, I haven’t been around much. Work is busy. Home life is insane. And did I mention I got the bright idea to go back to school? You know, when you major in music they don’t make you sit for a single accounting course. And since my end goal is to get my CPA… Well, you see my predicament. I know, extroverted accountant sounds like an oxymoron, but since when have I been the normal one?

But hey, I got to play with a cannon over the weekend.
JLH_8202

Lumpia was made and consumed

JLH_8028
JLH_8051

And most of all, my soul was rejuvenated by the company of the very best people. You know who you are. My tribe. My heart. I am blessed beyond measure.

Here’s to you
JLH_7901

I’m on a break between trimesters (accelerated classes so there are 3 sessions per year), so I will attempt to get the free ice cream flowing again. You know what happens when you let dairy sit too long, so there may be some clean-out and overhaul needed. Do ignore the smell.

I don’t know what’s coming next, but I hope you’ll stay along for the ride.

The Horrible Hot Tub Story

*tap*

*tap*

*tap*

Is this thing still on?

Spent the weekend with dear friends which always does my soul good. Maybe not my waistline, but certainly my soul. At the close of the weekend, OldNFO admonished me to “throw something up on the blog once in a while.” One shouldn’t ignore such things, and it just so happens that I realized I have story often told in person that has yet to be told here.

One of the *cough* amenities that was included when we purchased our house was a hot tub. Said hot tub promptly shelled its pump a few months after we signed the mortgage and became a large, fiberglass tub of misery, gook, and breeding mosquitoes. Sure we drained it and kept it covered, but somehow rain and detritus would find its way in so I made it a practice to thrown in chlorine tabs and some bleach from time to time in an attempt to keep the mosquitoes and mystery odors under control. My brother promised that one day, he was coming to get the thing and fix it up just as soon as he had a place to put it.

Fast forward to a lovely Saturday in early fall. A perfect day for a cookout. The weather guessers had predicted it and so we had invited everyone over to partake in some grilled goodness in our backyard. Hubby went off to gather the meat, and I headed out to the backyard to make it ready for the festivities.

That’s when the smell hit me. Assuming the storms had created some sort of unholy concoction in the hot tub, I grabbed a gallon of bleach and poured it in without lifting more than just the very corner of the hot tub cover.

I swear to you, the tub belched out a green, putrid cloud of evil. It then laughed at my attempt to sterilize whatever was hidden inside and have a nice, normal gathering of my parents, grandparents, in-laws, and their parents. The trees recoiled in disgust. That’s when I knew.

I had to open the tub.

Horror. Pure horror awaited inside.

Starlings. 21 nasty, dirty, garbage eating starlings had apparently sought shelter from the storm inside the hot tub, where they drowned. I found 21 dead and rotting starlings. They were bloated and most of the feathers had fallen off.

What to do? I’ve got people coming over and a tub of rotting death to greet them. It’s not like I could just throw them in the trash.

So I did the only rational thing, I dug a hole. A large hole.

Remember how I told you that hubby had gone for supplies and meat? This is the point in the story where he returns triumphantly only to find his mud-coated wife standing in a 3 foot deep hole with a crazed look on her face and holding a shovel.

“Honey?” he inquired.

“I have to bury the bodies.”

In that moment, he knew I’d snapped. Had our guests arrived too early? Or was it the neighbors with the yippy dog?

I muttered something about the f*ing birds and proceeded to ladle Satan’s chicken soup out of the hot tub and into the hole. Hubby, wisely, went back into the house.

With the birds neatly buried, we went on to have a lovely picnic with the family, but I couldn’t eat chicken for months. The hot tub has since been cut into pieces and left out for large trash pick up. I took special glee in watching the garbage truck crush its remains.

How’s The View From That High Horse?

Because I think you’re missing the details. While you throw accusations of insensitivity at me you’re stomping on sacred ground.

And don’t you dare try to offer me your comfort and sympathy now. You don’t deserve the warm and fuzzy feelings of that. Yes, I dared to state that pets aren’t the same as children. That was so very harsh of me. Do you need a safe space?

That’s cute. You’re going to lecture me on how hard Mother’s Day is for some people. Did it ever occur to you that I may be one of those people? Oh that’s right, you can’t see past your sanctimony. You can trot right on out on that high horse of yours.

Complicated. Yeah. I’m supposed to play your silly games and pretend that your love for your dog is equal to my grief for the child I lost before they ever took a breath. On Mother’s Day, I might add.

I hear you, just scroll past and ignore it if it bothers you that much. I see how well that worked out for you. No, you decided I must need to be informed and educated and put in my place. Here’s your freaking medal.

As if I could compare stroking my cat’s fur as he breathed his last to my friend that held her child’s hand as she lost her battle to cancer. That would monstrous. I’d be a terrible human being for even hinting at such.

Right. I’m insensitive. I’m a horrible person.

Why don’t you go ahead and explain how insensitive I am to the 85-year-old woman I held as she made the heart-wrenching decision to turn off her daughter’s life support? Indeed, she took great solace in caring for the cats her daughter left behind, but she’d trade them all for another moment with her daughter.

Go on. I’ll wait.

Emerson, the cat, came into our lives during a period of intense turmoil, and he was and still is a source of tremendous comfort. I needed to nurture something. I needed the unconditional love in return and he gave it and then some. He continues to do so today. He has been there for more of my ugly sobbing than I care to get into. It would be doing him an injustice to treat him as a replacement for a child. He’s no surrogate. He’s far more sensitive than you, actually.

Some day, far sooner than I’ll be ready, he’ll be gone. It’s my job and responsibility to make sure that process goes as peacefully and painlessly as possible. I will weep. The grief will be intense and include more of those ugly sobs.

Trust me, I get it that our pets can bring great comfort and solace in the face of pain and difficulty. That relationship is wonderful, special, and not the same as parenthood. Funny how no one seems to have noticed that I didn’t even say it was less. I only said it was different.

Am I a good person? Well my dog thinks so, anyway. My real friends do to. Me? Well, I try to be. Really, I think that’s all any of us can do.

KaBoom! A Place for Play

Today seems the right day to tell this story, the one year anniversary of Amy’s overcoming.

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I’m not wearing that bracelet anymore. I wanted it to do something more. Something different than just becoming a thing that I wore or a keepsake in my jewelry box. Her memory deserves something special.

The answer started with a huge puddle of mud.

Which would soon become a playground, but we had a long way to go and a lot of work to get there.

There was a mountain of mulch

This hole seemed like a good spot

Mud and all

A little help from some friends.

And a swing-set is born.

Add some concrete

And a little on your host.

The overcomer bracelet became a permanent part of a place built for laughter and joy. It rests in the concrete at the base of the swing-set.

I’d like to think Amy would approve.