LJI: wild goose chase

The Denver area has a lot of Canadian Geese.  I didn’t expect that when we first moved here, some live here year round in our mostly moderate weather and some make this the southern stop on their migration.  There are several parks in the greater Denver area with lovely lakes and expanses of grass which equals perfect goose habitat.

When we first moved to Colorado we stayed in the guest room of friends, while we were figuring out where in the metro area we wanted to be.  Those friends live close to City Park which has some gorgeous running trails, including a 5k loop marked out all within the park.  I was excited to go running in City Park and explore as soon as the April snowstorm melted.  But I quickly discovered that the geese were an issue.

First is the most basic concern – goose poop is slippery.  And it was everywhere.  Any run was a head down affair with an exciting bit of weave and dodge added in as I tried to make it around the lake without stepping into a gooey mess.

Next was the geese themselves.  These were city geese that had zero fear of humans; mostly they saw us as an occasional source of food.  This means that if a flock were currently moving across the sidewalk I was trying to run down, I had to dodge the geese too.  They wouldn’t really move out of the way or try to avoid me at all; there was zero respect for my predator status.

I adjusted to this new and interesting challenge in my runs.  I learned what times they typically waddled from their nesting area under the trees to the lake and back, and adjusted my schedule to avoid those times.  I saw a fellow runner clap repeatedly as he approached several geese hanging on the sidewalk and they did move seeming annoyed at the sound, so I added that to my repertoire.  But mostly I just expected them to be there, it wasn’t new anymore to run through a park full of geese.

Then came the goslings: so cute, so fluffy, and so clumsy on their brand new legs.   I slowed down to get a better glimpse of the adorableness, but the flock was keeping them close at hand and staying back at the trees to better keep track of their new members.

As the goslings started to grow the geese resumed their wanderings back and forth to the lake, now with the little ones along.   However, they learned the same disdain of humans that their parents had. Now that the babies were there clapping no longer seemed to startle any of the geese away.

So sometime in June I was running near the lake and dodging through a large group of geese spread out across the sidewalk.  Apparently the clear spot I stepped through put me between a mother and her baby.  Suddenly I was being chased by an angry goose – wings spread and honking – to inform me that I was messing with the wrong gosling.  It became an unexpected sprint workout as I got away from the goose mama as quickly as possible, a few other geese joined in the honking but luckily none of the others felt the need to actually chase me down.  It was over and done as quickly as it had started.

There’s no way to tell which gosling belongs with which goose, I had run through flocks with their juveniles before but that time I was unlucky.  I avoided that corner of the park for about a month until the goslings got their own flight feathers and became one of the crowd; I figured it was safer for myself as well as the geese.

***LJ Idol week 11 topic 1, because there's always a twist.  Read about other wild chases here.***
time is twisted

Happy New Year!

Happy, merry, joyful to one and all.

I stayed up to see the clock change last night and eat pickled herring as the first food of the new year for luck.  Our friends swear by it, and it's definitely preferable at midnight then to wake up and eat it for breakfast.

I ran a 5k this morning to start my year moving.  The sun came out and given the current cloudy, windiness it looks like we had the best part of the day.

May today be the first day of a wonderful year!

LJI: feckless

Do not give the Magpie a marshmallow.

If you give the Magpie a marshmallow, it will ask for a graham cracker to help unstick its beak.

If you give the Magpie a graham cracker, it will want you to build a campfire so it can make s’mores.

If you build the Magpie a camp fire, it will want to stay up all night eating s’mores and telling stories.

If you tell stories with the Magpie, it will ignore everyone else at the fire and chatter endlessly about the world that was, the halcyon days, the time of the first golden light.

If the Magpie starts talking about the world that was, the halcyon days, the time of the first golden light simply listen.  The Magpie will describe how colors were brighter when they were new, how a lake tried to steal itself out of the sky coloring their tail feathers forever, and how the mountains stretched high wanting to stroke their white downy belly. The Magpie will brag about the times it bested bigger animals than itself, pulling the Eagle’s tail or even…

The Magpie will roar with laughter as it tells of shadowing Coyote through the woods as he hunted a rabbit.  Coyote pounced and wounded the rabbit even unto death, but the rabbit used the last of its strength to run.  The Magpie dribbled berry juice along a separate path so the Coyote would track no animal at all, and the Magpie could perch on the corpse of the uncaught rabbit and feast.

If the Magpie is strutting around as though it had only just stolen the Coyote’s meal, it will decide to perform even greater feats.  The Magpie will puff itself up until it is bigger than the trees and declare that it is going to steal the moon out of the sky to use as a bauble in its nest.

If the Magpie who is bigger than the Buffalo flies to the moon, it will fly for a very long time, but the moon will never draw any closer.  The Magpie will fly through a day and into the next night and still not arrive at the moon.  The Magpie will turn around and fly back to the remnants of your camp fire.

If the Magpie returns from trying to catch the moon; it will be tired and sad.

If the tired and sad Magpie asks for a snack, all you have left to offer are graham crackers.

If you give the Magpie a graham cracker, it will listlessly peck at the food and complain that it is too dry and boring and what it needs is a softer, sweeter food; perhaps a marshmallow.

Do not give the Magpie a marshmallow.

***It's week 7 of LJ Idol, read everyone else's feckless entries at the link.  Special thanks to my eight year old niece Rose who unknowingly helped me brainstorm this piece.***

LJI: everything looks like a nail

“Hello Boss.”
“Hey Tucker.  You ready for the last show?”
“It’s a good thing there’s only one more.  Do you have any duct tape in your kit?”
“Is backstage out of tape?”
“Yeah, I thought props had a spare roll and they thought I had a spare which is why we didn’t raise a flag for more before this.”
I dug through the stage management road box and pulled out a half roll of duct tape. “This is what I’ve got, you’re welcome to it.  Please return it to me after the show, production always make me jump through extra hoops to get a new roll.”
“If there’s any left, of course I will.”
“That rough, huh?”
“It’s just a lot of things that need a little love.”
“Do you think we can hold it together for one more go around?”
“With this?” Tucker held up the roll of tape. “We can do anything with this.”
He grinned and left the control booth; I kept going through my pre-show checklist and took a few deep breaths.  The final show of a production typically runs hot with all the extra emotion in the building, I was going slowly to make sure in all the bittersweet excitement that nothing fell through the cracks.
After the show, I was tidying my space in the booth, returning office supplies to their spots in the stage management road box and the monkeys and Kermit to their places in my own travel box.  Every stage manager has a few talismans that come to every show, no one who works in theater escapes all superstition.
Tucker knocked on the glass front of the booth, which I slid open.  He handed me back the duct tape, less than half remaining on the roll I gave him only a few hours before.
“Is everyone okay back there?”
“Did it all look alright from the front?”
“Fine as far as I could tell, but this” indicating the nearly empty roll of tape “indicates some good times backstage.”
“I grabbed tape from you to re-tape the cable run backstage left, it was coming up and was a trip hazard.”
“Right, good catch.”
“You had given a note that the panels of the moon backdrop weren’t square anymore, so we taped the join to prevent light leak, and had to re-tape the grip on the push stick for the table. Props took the tape for a while; they taped up a scabbard and the parasols are held together by nothing but tape and hot glue at this point.”
The paper parasols were beautiful, and not built for weeks of dancing.  I was astonished we hadn’t lost one.
“Even costumes got in on the act.”
“Wait, what?”
“Derek lost a button..”
“Right and they doubled the tape over and stuck the placket together.”
“And the seam started coming out of Ev’s skirt so they taped it up too.”
I laughed.  “If the audience only knew how much of this show was held together by tape.”
Tucker grinned.  “It’s the magic of theater.  Come on – you remember…
If you can’t fix it, duct it.”
He paused, and I joined in to finish the backstage rhyme.
“If you can’t duct it, fuck it.”

***LJI week three read all the peoples at the link earlier in this sentence.  Both duct and gaffers tape were in high demand backstage on any show, I still keep rolls of each around out of habit."

LJI: Living rent-free in your head

“I’d like a Grande Salted Caramel Mocha with an extra shot of espresso please.”

“That’s so much sugar, Susie, and do you really need all that caffeine?”

The low grade hum at the edge of my hearing told me I’d been connected, but I wasn’t supposed to have any clients today.  I smiled at the man behind the counter as I tapped my card to pay and moved out of the way for the next person to order.

“Susie, he’s cute.  You should start a conversation with him.”

I grimaced a little.  Luckily or not, I recognized that voice.

“Then again you aren’t really dressed to impress.  I see your reflection and don’t know why you think leggings and a sweatshirt are appropriate anywhere but the gym.”

I glanced around and said quietly “Grandma, we can chat in a bit.”

“I’m here, why shouldn’t we talk now?"

I focused on the menu board as the most neutral item in the room.

"Is coffee really so expensive, that’s ridiculous.  How much did you pay for your Coffee-Sugar-thingy?  In my day a cup of coffee was fifty cents.”

My name was called; I took my coffee cup and grabbed a lid on my way out the door.  I made an immediate left and walked quickly to the small park a block away.

“Susie, I need you to answer me.  Is this thing even working?”

I sat on a bench and sighed.  “Grandma, no one but me can hear you.  If I answer you in public everyone will think I’m crazy.”

“Everyone knows about sensitives these days and free-movement clients.  I’m very proud of the work you do.”

“I’m not on duty and I wasn’t expecting to be, so I’m not wearing the vest that tells people I’m linked.  How did you get connected?”

“I told Jerry, our free-movement operator, that you were expecting me and I must have been erased from the schedule somehow.  I brought him some warm peanut butter cookies; it was my kitchen time this morning.  He knows you’re my grand-daughter – I just wanted to drop by.”

I kept looking at the trees, knowing that if I rolled my eyes or shook my head she’d see it with me.  Grandma’s cookies and flattery had done it again.

“Grandma, when people pay for this they don’t want to get coffee.  Mostly I go on hikes, or to museums, or even the opera, no one expects me to have someone in my head doing ordinary things, and I didn’t expect to have someone in my head at all this morning.”

This was a huge breach of security; I was beginning to understand why the company drilled the safeties into us over and over.  And why they didn’t let us take family as clients.

“I thought this would be easier than you coming all the way out here to visit me.”

“I like visiting with you Grandma, and it’s easier to do when we’re two separate people.  The time I spend with clients isn’t about conversation; it’s about taking them into the world to have an experience they otherwise couldn’t.”

“I’m not a client, I’m family.  I don’t have to pay like that country song, you know the one, that one.”

“Yes Grandma.  I love you with all my heart for free, but being in my head is different.  There are rules for a reason.  What if you had popped into my head while I was driving and I crashed?  This could get both Jerry and I into a lot of trouble.”

There was a long pause.

“I’m sorry sweetpea.  I thought it was just a fancy phone call, I didn’t think it through. I’ll have Jerry disconnect us.”

“Thank you.  I’m still coming to see you on Saturday, save a cookie for me.”

The hum went away and I knew I was alone in my head again.  I sipped my coffee and debated how to tell corporate about this.  Putting a client in the head of someone who wasn’t expecting them was dangerous.  I would have to stop working with any clients at Grandma’s nursing home and make sure they scrubbed my neural template from that machine.  Grandma said she understood but I knew she would forget; it wouldn’t be long before she’d be sweet-talking some other operator into trying to put her through.  It would be best if that were impossible.  All of the corporate security in the world couldn’t resist fresh-baked cookies.

***LJI week two.  Read all of the fabulous entries here.  That country song, you know the one, is "Pay No Rent" by the Turnpike Troubadours.***

LJI: resolution

I am tired.

I want to crawl into a corner and let all my responsibilities, to myself and others, fall away, just for a while.  I want someone else to carry – well, everything.  My hands hurt, shouldn’t that mean I can put things down, at least long enough to heal?

Two weeks ago I fell.  I was running and my right toe caught on an uneven piece of sidewalk.  I fell headlong and hard.  (This has happened before; twice I’ve broken bones this way.)  As I rolled myself over and into a seated position I examined the damage – my left knee was scraped and bleeding, my chin felt the same though I couldn’t see it, and both hands hurt.  When I pulled off my gloves the bruising had already begun across my knuckles, my right hand worse than my left.  I felt like an idiot for falling, grown women are supposed to be able to stay on their feet.  I was scared I was broken again.  Two women out for a Sunday morning walk who saw my fall stopped and asked if I was okay, was I close to home.  I reassured them I was fine and got back up, testing my knee with weight, flexing my hands through all of the exercises I know from previous physical therapy.  They smiled at me, said the scrape on my chin wasn’t too bad and they were glad I was okay.  They continued their walk going the opposite direction, and I continued my run.

I didn’t think anything was broken – the pain is sharper and the bruises more purple more quickly in my experience.  I was supposed to run twelve miles, I fell just before completing three.  I ran ten, a small concession to the fact that my chin was dripping blood mixed with sweat onto my shirt and my knee had started to ache with every stride.

I could have stopped.  I could have turned and walked home, or found someone on the busy trail with a phone and called my husband to come and get me.  I considered it briefly.  But that’s not who I am.  I keep going; I remain resolute and steadfast; I hold things together no matter how hard they’re trying to fly apart.  I’m not entirely stupid; I went to urgent care for x-rays after I got home and cleaned up to be certain I hadn’t broken any bones.  I worked the next day – with the swelling in my right hand slowing my typing, but I worked.  I went for my next run on Tuesday.

This need to put on a brave face and continue is a part of me.  Even now, when the swelling is mostly gone but there’s still sharp pain in my right hand with some motions, I’m simply doing things with my left.  I’m worried that breaking isn’t the only thing that could have gone wrong, and I plan to call my doctor.  But I still can’t put things down.  I don’t know how to learn to be okay with the idea that things take longer, or that I can ask people to help.  That the world won’t end if I stop for a few days to heal, not just my hands, but my heart.  Somehow, despite being old enough to recognize the patterns I find myself back in this same groove of having to do to have value.  I wonder where it came from.  I wonder how I can make it go away.

I am so tired.

***LJI season 11 has begun!  Read everyone else's take on resolution here.***