author moments

The Doorstep

My doorstep has been an interesting place lately. More traffic than I want. More unique visitors than I ever anticipated. Unexpected. Unwanted. Unsolicited. Just some of the u words that come to mind. Some visitors had two legs while others had four. Oh how life throws you curve balls just to see how you react. 

Below I will give you a sampling of the randomness. Think about how you would react. These scenarios are not in any particular order.

  • The Uber delivery. Yes Uber dropped people at my doorstep. Directly from the airport. Dressed in their cultural attire. Did I mention I am at least 50 minutes from the airport? Limited English spoken. It’s a hot summer day. Sun is beating down. They are so hot. I’m offered water but they nodded no. They may want to rethink my kind gesture but I’m sure they are so nervous. Unknown place. Unknown person. So many stressors.
  • Nobody could pick them up for what seemed like an eternity but it was just an hour. I offered water again. Finally they took it out of desperation. I texted their family members from their phone even though I could not read the language in the text. Arabic maybe or something similar with symbols vs letters. I felt responsible for the cargo left on my doorstep. Complete strangers but dumped at no fault of their own. What would you have done?  Would they know how to tell their family where they were if I didn’t help? What would you do if Uber dropped you in the wrong place. So much to think about. They were understandably nervous. 

Nobody was harmed in the taking of the photo and faces were covered to not embarrass anyone. How many might think this situation could have played out so differently in today’s world? I had to document this bizarre event.

  • The landscape supplies is the next unexpected doorstep instruction. Home Depot was oh so gracious to deliver me a truck load of landscape supplies to my driveway and a few heavy boxes of additional yard items to my doorstep. Everything from heavy landscaping pavers to pesticides to fly catchers. According to the receipt it was worth thousands of dollars. They left a packing slip. I actually inventoried it because I’m that anal retentive. What would you have done if this happened at your place?
  • While verifying the order, I saw the recipient’s phone number and called it. This made for an interesting call. Stranger on other end of phone was wondering why I am calling and why I have his goods and his private information. That’s understandable I suppose. All I wanted was for him to get his stuff off my property so I could leave my driveway. Big sigh. 
  • He drove past my house many times. How could he miss it with me standing outside? I had to stay on the phone to make sure he stopped. He was old. He couldn’t lift the pavers or the heavy boxes. I was already the receiving department. Now I was the shipping department. Off I went to load his car. What would you have done? On a funny note, the delivery ticket clearly stated do not leave without a signature. Guess what? The driver just left it all without a signature. I guess that is contactless deliveries for you.
  • My four-legged friends. One night it was a family of deer passing by and lingering for a bit with their bold eyes. Last night it was two black stray dogs. They started out back then moved to the front. I’m sure they smelled my dogs but geez do I have a sign that says everyone is welcome that translates in multiple languages and across animal sound waves? I shake my head but the more I think about my odd visits, I let out a deep sigh as it’s hard to believe. Of course I can’t make this stuff up. It’s as real as it gets. I’m sure I know plenty of neighbors that wouldn’t be as gracious as me in these scenarios. Some may opt for shoot first ask questions second, unfortunately.
  • I can’t forget the past residents of the home who send a child translator with the mom to pick up her mail repeatedly. This blows my mind when the postal service offers a change of address service. Even the furniture company got it wrong. Their driver delivered a new homeowner’s enormous floor rugs to my doorstep. Those I just left as a large item and said someone can figure out where they got delivered and come get them. They were big enough to see from the road and they lacked packing slip information for me to identify the correct owner.
  • A day later the doorbell rang. The man said I know this sounds strange but I think that’s my set of large floor rugs. Nope, not strange at all.  It’s yours because it’s definitely not mine and they are too heavy to move so I figured somebody would claim them soon enough. 

Most days seem a bit crazy in my world but these weird visits in mass quantities have me thinking I’m good for the rest of the year or maybe two years.

No more random doorstep deliveries for this girl. I guess I need to get a large address sign for the lawn to make it ever so obvious what address one is stopping at. If you have any better ideas drop me a note.

And then…the extra Amazon deliveries. A new trend. Somebody must have moved into a newly build home with the same street number as mine yet the street itself is wrong. Another delivery gone bad and I’m left to do the right thing over and over again.

adventure

Damn Near Perfect

I was aiming for a damn near perfect day away. Okay is there such a thing? Probably not but I’m going to make today a priority.

I’m going to see if I focus on the day if I can make it damn near perfect. I’m not sure what I will do yet. But I’ll write about it. I also know if it’s not perfect I’m going try again the next day. I’m on vacation. Why not try to aim for a near perfect day. I have time. I have a break from the chaos. I don’t have any have-tos on my list today.

The funny part about thinking about this is I have nothing to model my perfect day after. It’s what I make of it. It’s what I decide is near perfect. No benchmark for this stats girl. I guess I’ll just throw shit on the wall or the mountains and see what happens. 

I was struggling with altitude adjustments in the Rocky Mountains on this day. Too many quirky “offs” to list them all but I was off in many ways. With such a rough start to how I feel today, could I even aim for perfect? 

I hit the local village coffee shop first thing. I wasn’t expecting much as I had never been nor had I previewed the menu. What I did know is I was starting out local. I got a smile just by the name of my drink. Milky Way was a mix of coffee, chocolate and caramel. A hot treat on a cool and drizzly morning. A little local paper tucked in the corner to read while sipping and enjoying the coffee shop vibe.

I was slowly dusting off my morning crud. The tired eyes. The chilled body. The day’s adventure called for an outdoor activity. Miles away by car. Rain rain go away is all I could say in my mind. We were going to raft the Arkansas River and it was raining. Well I guess it wasn’t going to be perfect but I was going to get wet anyway so I wasn’t going to let the rain sour my outlook for the day.

The ride was amazing. More than I could have expected. From fog to clouds to misty air, the scenery was illuminated. A blink of sunshine. A fierce downpour. A spurt of hail. The mountains are full of mystery. So much beauty right in front of me.

Just before the Continental Divide I spotted a mountain camp or town around a factory. It was spray painted and desolate. I wondered about its history. What once lived there. Why did it shut down? Will it ever be reborn? So much to think about for my curious mind.

A quick pit stop in a quaint town with the oldest saloon I ever did see. The floors creaked. There were many old-time artifacts within. The saloon was bustling with locals and tourists. A cool sight to observe. So much fun to shop in the town stores. From the thrift store to the local homemade good store. The experience was one of a kind. New people. New places. Off the beaten path. My kind of perfect. Leadville, CO was the stop. Home of the Leadville 500 race. Another first experience for me. A race across the sky.

The road was empty yet mystical form of nature. My road to nowhere or somewhere. Just around the bend I would land at my destination. This is where I would meet my guide. His name was Joaquin and he was from Chile. His accent was cool and so was he. Joaquin spends his off seasons working in other countries while his homeland isn’t at peak season. Away from his wife and family. So fun to learn about his adventures. He has worked the rivers in California, Chile, Colorado and Italy to name a few. I felt honored to meet him. I enjoyed my time on the raft drifting and exchanging stories. Oh how we laughed. Oh how we paddled hard. Left forward. Right back. Paddle fast. We even rocked and rolled in the harsh rapids. A few rock jumps. Picnic by the waterside. Views of an abandoned railroad on the river side. So much history. A great experience for all.

My day was unknown at the start. My day could have been altered many times. I had a positive outlook amidst the bad weather and other variables. My attitude reflected my outcome.
The road back was another rainy one but we stopped in the towns along the way to catch a glimpse of local life. I’m pretty sure I was in bed by 8pm. I would say this was a near perfect day for me.

adventure, featured

Snack and a Smile

A snack and a smile used to be Southwest Airlines’ claim to fame on flights. Or so their snack pack advertises. That’s all in the past.

Today, life is different. We fly with masks. No mask no fly. They announce it multiple times. They also announce a numbering system overhead regarding snacks. This is a new protocol for me since my last flight a few months ago.

1-Coke

2-Diet Coke

3-7up

4-water

No need to take down your mask to order. Instead you have the finger. And yes you choose your finger. A 8×11 laminated sign with pictures and numbers to order. I guess it’s idiot proof. I really wanted to capture this with a photo but the flight attendant didn’t look amused. The sign is funny to me but probably ingenious to others. No smile with your snack this trip. That’s false advertising on my snack pack! No smiles. Seems like the trend for trips in the future.

Maybe there will be a middle finger for #1 for the jerk in front. Maybe the silly mom will hold up the peace sign to get her Diet Coke. Maybe four sideway fingers from this girl for some water. How did we even get to this point?

Now that I’m here trapped in my middle seat, listening to my AirPods to tune out the crying baby in front of me. My drink came covered with a fun fact napkin. Love the marketing amusement Southwest! I learned another fun fact from Southwest. Looks like the new slogan is mask up. Cheers to a great trip.

Maybe the next time I fly maybe I will have a touch screen to order my drink and snack. Cheers to mask life. Cheers to travel. Cheers to the lady next to me whose sweaty leg is sticking to me. Cheers to the crying baby in front. Cheers to my daughter sleeping on my shoulder. I can smell her morning sleepy breath through my mask. Gross! Cheers to the turbulence that is keeping the napkin moist on my drink. Really that napkin was to keep the airborne germs out out of it. Another Southwest value add.

Mask up. Travel. 

author moments

What I Know for Sure, 2021 Edition

A group of friends recently shared their thoughts on “What I Know for Sure.” This task, based on Oprah’s essays and so on, was a pleasant challenge.

I jotted mine down in quick scribbles. Nothing really took too much thought. I just did 20 in no particular order. Most of them are pretty basic. There was some head-nodding as we shared at the dinner table. Here’s the list I shared:

1.) The most important approval in my life is my own.

2.) I feel better when I move first thing in the morning.

3.) I can do without way more than I imagined (e.g., cheese)

4.) The main thing I can control is my own choices.

5.) Focusing on what I can control eases my anxiety.

6.) Bring food, a book, and something to do with you.

7.) I can provide guidance, but walking the walk and being an example is the most powerful, grounding thing I can do for others and myself.

8.) I can’t expect anyone else to prioritize my physical, mental, and emotional health – that’s my job. They also may not understand what prioritizing those things look like. That’s also not my problem.

9.) Garbage in, garbage out – reading, media, food, all of it.

10.) Most people are doing the best they can based on what they know and are capable of at a given time.

11.) Play is important at every age. Laughter is, too.

12.) Local places beat chains.

13.) If it’s worth it, go for it.

14.) Nature heals, redeems, centers and grounds.

15.) Writing matters.

16.) Dogs are amazing and make most of the people in my life happier than other people do.

17.) Most things that seem like a big deal really aren’t that serious.

18.) To be on time, leave at least 15 minutes before you think you should. Always leave a buffer.

19.) Time and attention are the most precious gifts we can give other people.

20.) Thank people often for things big and small.

Most of this stuff is not groundbreaking. What I marvel at is how my list would have changed from even 5 years ago. I didn’t work out in the morning. I was beset with anxiety most of the time. I didn’t spend much time outdoors. I didn’t write for myself. I didn’t like dogs. Life is changing. I am changing. If my list stays the same, have I really learned or grown? What will the next 5 years bring?

I have a number of friends who are on the cusp of this time of great change with me. It’s wonderful to share such an exciting and transformational time with people. Instead of a stumbling, fumbling block it can be a launch pad.

What do you know for sure, right now?

challenges

Fries With That?

Pulled up to the speaker. Ordered a burger. Sat for a minute. Then it appeared sort of by magic, sometimes even on roller skates. It used to be simple.

Then came the combo meal. Would you like fries and a drink with that? You’ll save 10 cents. Then it was super size. Sweet potato fries. All kinds of extras. A brilliant invention for marketing and calories. Who can resist? Save a dime, get a whole big bag of food and a soda. Combos are brilliant! Seems like a great deal, right?

But…

What if the combo isn’t what I want? If I don’t really like fries? What if they’re not good for me? What if it keeps me from reaching my goals?

When is a combo deal not so great?

Maybe it’s the big packages of yogurts or energy drinks at Costco or Sam’s club. A 12-pack of Chobani costs less than a buck a piece, but I know good and well no one is going to eat the blueberry. The lemon-lime gatorade will collect dust in the bottom of my pantry long after the red and blue are gone.

I have grown more comfortable with passing up things I don’t need just because they come as a part of a combo. I will pay more for just the nuggets because the waffle fries aren’t worth it. I’ll pass on the coke unless it’s a special occasion. Yes, I know I can save money. Yes, I am sure. By the same token, I will also pay more to get the super premium salad as a side if it is best for me. Maybe it’s a luxury I can afford, but goals are goals. I try to stick to what works for me.

Sometimes this is easier said than done. For example, what happens when people are the package deal? If you’re having a party and want to invite a friend, but you know that friend probably won’t come without their obnoxious or otherwise unsavory partner. Do you ask them to leave the person at home? If so, how? Do you risk missing out on the parts you like by refusing the pieces you don’t?

Family ties may make this even more complicated. If you want to visit family, spend time with them, or connect with them, but they come as a package deal with someone else you don’t like, what do you do? Can you just order the nuggets and be done with it, or are you stuck with the fries and just try to ignore them? Do you just skip that restaurant and not eat there anymore? Does knowing that choices involve a side of junk make you avoid the things you love, too?

A few thoughts about food, friends and family to start this day. Are there things in life that come as a combo that you’d rather have some of than all of?