Saturday, June 10, 2006

From the field

I am writing from the Colorado HamCon just after lunch and a rousing morning of ham radio hopefuls taking exams and a presentation by one of my MARC VE team members, Wes Wilson, head of the team. He talked about the local group's participation in the communications and clean-up during Katrina, which captured my attention to the point where I did some impromptu interviewing of people asking questions and offering insight into the communications cock-up that kept ham radio operators out of the action until the second week after Katrina had done her worst, too late to do more than get moved from place to place without not much to do. Seems there is a story to tell there about hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment the Dept. of Homeland Security bought that didn't work and they don't want the tax payers to know how much money was spent on equipment that failed when put to the test.

Outside of that session I need to come back at midnight to find out what the Wouff Hong is and how it is used to discipline hams who operate in the obnoxious range of things and are "lids". Not a good thing and it definitely looks like a nasty piece of Photobucket - Video and Image Hostingequipment, but have laptop will find information -- and I have the information I need. I'll probably still come back just to show off a little bit. It will be my one and only chance to know something ahead of time.

Our VE liaison, Dean, looked at me for the first time in over a year and noticed that my callsign (ACØCA) is a palindrome (reads the same way front to back and back to front). I think it's also the first time he realized I was female. In his defense, he didn't have his coffee yet and he usually stands with his back to me when he does his spiel about the procedures and protocols of a VE exam session. I'll remember and use the information to devil him for as long as I can.

The news about Dean Haskins (KAØPII) is pretty good. He's still in a coma but he is responding to stimulus and will pick up his exercise ball when he drops it. He opens his eyes from time to time but he isn't cognizant -- at least not overtly so -- right now. I was a bit worried when I heard they had put in a tracheostomy tube because I thought they were putting him on long term ventilatory support, but it's just a matter of clearing the secretions in his throat and keeping his airway open. The news is pretty good and hopefully he will be back with us soon because we all miss him.

Other than that, chuck_lynn and I have been running around Rocky Mountain National Forest, Tabernash, Granby, Fraser, Winter Park (at my favorite organic food market), Lyons, Boulder and Estes Park. We have sampled venison, buffalo and elk jerky, organic popcorn and, of course, chocolate from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (yes, fans they do have one here in Estes Park). We have seen lots and lots of elk cows and plenty of elk bulls with their velvet covered horns grazing in the fields and along the streets and roadways into, out of and around Estes Park. I even managed to find a wireless connection here at HamCon by pirating the hotel's wireless network which is why I decided not to leave quite so early.

However, it's about time to wrap it up, pick up some steaks at the Safeway and go get some rest before I make my return appearance tonight.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


The drive up to Estes Park yesterday was nostalgic. The mountains were creased with snow and gleaming in the clear air. The main street was full of tourists with their tie-dyed and Hawaiian print shirts, sandals, hats, visors, fanny packs and shorts wandering from shop to shop with their baby carriers, backpacks and strollers. Tourist season is open and flourishing. Even the elk are completely unruffled by the invasion, quietly munching grass and enjoying the parade. The elk also have right of way here.

I drove past The Stanley hotel -- twice -- but only once while looking for the resort condo. I haven't been inside yet but I'll get there. The rivers are cold and rushing down to the lower elevations with plenty of white water rushing above the banks. Groups of people were tubing and drifting down with the river and I saw a herd of scooters that I think are for rent. I may take a walk down there tomorrow morning and see if I can rent a scooter or maybe I'll just go for a walk and leave it at that to keep from polluting this wonderful clear air that doesn't bite back when I inhale.

There's a lot of construction going on that slows traffic, and keeps us from using the pool at the condo, but the were cleaning it this morning as we left so I have hopes of being able to swim at some point. All in all, so far it has been a lovely relaxing trip. The way I feel now, if I could find a way, I'd keep relaxing and vacationing the rest of my life, but that would probably get old, too, and I'd need a vacation from my vacation.

One good thing is that I haven't had a major hot flash since I left yesterday morning but I'm sure driving in a freezing air conditioned car had something to do with that, and the herbal fix I purchased at Mountain Mama's before I left town. I did have some trouble sleeping, but that was because I was wearing a nightgown, something I don't wear at home but felt would be a necessity since I'm with other people who might be offended by my naturally natural state.

The other people were a bit of a shock to me this morning because they spoke. I don't speak in the morning unless someone calls and wakes me from sleep, which is seldom and usually Beanie -- or my mother with news of someone else mangled or dead. Eyes half open and clutching my clothes to my chest, I stumbled to the bathroom while my friends talked to me. It took me a while (once I was on the toilet and draining) to realize I hadn't spoken and that they expected me to be bright and cheerful -- and talkative -- first thing in the morning. Living alone has eroded my social skills a bit but I'll be better tomorrow morning -- I hope.

Once I was washed and dressed and my teeth felt less like filmy grit (shouldn't have used my eyebrow brush to brush my teeth last night but I didn't have anything else and I forgot my toothbrush -- I remembered the toothpaste). At least now I know what old mascara and eyebrow pencil tastes like. On the up side, my eyebrow brush is now clean. On the down side, the inside of my lips are perforated and scratched by the eyelash comb that juts out from the other side of he eyebrow brush. Luckily, my friends had a complimentary toothbrush and travel tube of toothpaste and that was helpful this morning. It was either that or a wash cloth loaded with toothpaste. I wasn't that drowsy this morning and I didn't want to lacerate my lips any more or spend the rest of the day tasting eyebrow detritus.

At least here at the cafe I have wireless access and can finally check my email. I can't go cold turkey from email and my journal and it just isn't the same writing in my private journal. I don't need to entertain myself; I am already entertained by life.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Strange bedfellows

When I glanced out the window in the bathroom on the way to take a shower I noticed him. It's not unusual for the landlady to have guests over and they usually sit on the deck in good weather, like the past few days when the sun is shining and cool breezes soothe away the worst of the sun's strength. He was there again on the deck with the landlady the other day when I brought home the ingredients for the key lime cheesecake, so I decided to stop and say hello. Yes, I was curious. I didn't expect to find out that rag and bone of a man was THE Glen, the love of the landlady's life.

Jeans so faded the blue was more a memory than an actual color hung loosely on his narrow hips and long legs thrust out in front of him. Horny callused feet rested in sandals that had seen better days, his shirt a thin rag of ancient tie-dye where white goat hairs sprouted in wild confusion from the open neck where the remains of buttons could still be seen. Long straggling strands of wavy gray hair stained with a hint of brown hung beneath a bandanna covered with stars and stripes wrapped tightly around his head and knotted in the back. Leathery arm covered with a thick mat of tangled white hair rested on the arms of the chair and his eyes, the only feature with a distinct and piercing color, were clear, bright blue. Mustache and beard blended with the rest of his hair so that it would be difficult to figure out which was which, except for the high thrust of his cheeks and the wisp of a smile that gleamed through the sparse wiry mass.

The landlady and Glen looked comfortable together with an ease born of decades of rubbing along together. He was her husband's best friend and I knew she had met him the first time when she had been married two years, rocking her to her core with a deep sense of recognition, a profound connection as of lifetimes past spent living and working together as a unit. Still, as I remembered all the stories she told me of Glen, I couldn't reconcile the man sitting on the deck with the handsome hunk that stole her heart. There were more surprises in store.

Last night I took two pieces of cheesecake down to the landlady, as promised. We stood talking for a few minutes and I mentioned Glen. "That's Glen, THE Glen, the one you told me about?" I should have recognized the wicked gleam in her eyes; I know it's in my own eyes when I think about a certain man that has always sent my stomach on a rollercoaster ride, just not about someone so ragged.

"Oh. My. God. Yes." For the first time since I moved into this house, the glimpses of passion I had seen were a full raging fire that seemed so alien to this short, sturdy little Bavarian woman with the short spiky cap of grayed strawberry blonde.

She launched into a quick retelling of her history with Glen. What amazed me the most is the blatant sensual aura that glowed around her as she mentioned Glen's sexual prowess. "I've always been attracted to that kind of man. Everyone thinks I'm one way and they don't know the real me."

I had seen the real her last October when she shared a Samhain ritual with Michael, Nel and me. The real her was a little bit drunk but not so drunk she wasn't able to tell Michael, nearly twenty years her junior, how good she was in bed and how happy she'd make him now that he was no longer her tenant -- if he'd only give in. I got another dose of the real landlady last night when she told me she had had several sexual encounters with Glen during her marriage. I wondered if her husband knew but decided not to ask. Evidently, Glen wasn't the only man she'd cast her marital eye on. She told me that, too.

Glen is the antithesis of her career Army husband with his short cropped hair and neatly ironed and properly creased clothes, a rare feat with T-shirts and crisp blue jeans. The landlady's husband fit her image -- the public one, anyway. What a clash, the ramrod straight retired Army man and Glen's comfortably splayed limbs in what once resembled clothes.

The landlady and her husband finally signed the divorce papers after living separate lives for more than eleven years. She will soon be legally free to do whatever she wants with whomever she wants and she boldly told Glen (as she recounted to me) that she didn't want a long term relationship unless sex was the main attraction. What she actually said was, "I told Glen I wanted a f**k buddy." Now that she is soon a free woman and no longer legally married to Glen's best friend, I expect he'll frequently make up from Alamagordo, New Mexico to the deck outside -- and the bed inside. He can no longer have any qualms about putting horns on his best friend, something I find quite strange in someone who has drunk from the landlady's watering hole many times over the decades. I guess the noise level from downstairs is about to rise and Pastor will get yelled at in German less often since the landlady is about to come into a wealth of tension and stress relieving sex.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Center of hell -- still

Someone please turn down the heat and the humidity in here and punch up the controls on the cooling breezes. If I wanted a steam bath I would go to a steam bath but I seldom, if ever, want a steam bath when I'm working because my fingers stick to the keys. *sigh*

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday, Sunday

The apartment smells like vanilla and key lime and sweetness. It's hot right now and I'm sitting in the middle of hell with these power surges. I finally turned on the ceiling fan and the fan in the bedroom is going but the heat from the oven in the kitchen and the lack of strong breezes through the windows doesn't help regulate my thermostat. The power surges don't last long and they're not as bad as at first. At least I'm not sitting in the heart of the sun -- yet.

Yesterday I met my favorite couple at Poor Richard's for lunch and book shopping and a cooling ice cream sundae (one of us had iced coffee and complained it wasn't Starbucks). We left shortly after, talking outside near my car before going our separate ways.

Today I decided to play with Dave's cheesecake recipe. I bought a bag of key limes at the grocery store yesterday because the night before I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea for key lime cheesecake. If this recipe works out I'll need to get a lime juicer. It's a bit messy using my favorite wooden lemon reamer. I did forget the vanilla wafers and had to go back to the store to get some today. My hand held cheese and vegetable grater works quickly and well crushing up the vanilla wafers for the crust and I used the microwave to melt the butter. Yes, I used artery clogging real sweet creamery butter. There's no sense indulging myself and my friends if I'm going to skimp on the ingredients or use substitutes. Mom asked me why I didn't buy bottled lime juice but it's not the same and you can't get fresh lime zest from a bottle of reconstituted concentrate.

I did taste the batter -- it is the baker's job to make sure the batter is the right consistency and has the right balance of ingredients. It's a nasty job and I won't ask someone to do what I won't do myself. Back to the tastes wonderful, just that right balance of key lime juice tartness and sweetness and rich creaminess from the cream cheese and eggs. Since I used 3/4 cup of lime juice I decided to add another egg to keep the batter from being too watery, thicken it up a bit with those lovely organic vegetarian eggs. I added one cup of sour cream to balance the sweetness of the cream cheese and blend with the tartness of the key lime juice.

Now I have to wait 24 hours before I can even unmold the cheesecake but I will taste it tomorrow. I'm not taking the whole cheesecake with me, just half of it. The other half is already spoken for. I told Nel and the landlady I'm not guaranteeing the results but it should at least be edible and I was able to taunt my mother with my next variation on the recipe -- chocolate raspberry cheesecake with real organic cocoa and pureed fresh raspberries swirled through the decadent richness of the chocolate. I'll have to figure out something to balance the dryness of the cocoa.

So enough of all this food talk.

The latest news on KAØPII, Dean Haskins, and even though he isn't awake yet he is moving around and responds to commands, even to the point of squeezing hands, balls and a teddy bear. There is some determinism to his movements but they won't know anything for sure until he actually wakes up. Opening his eyes doesn't count since he isn't focusing.

When I talked to my mother she had just returned from Lima, Ohio and seeing her best friend who is also in the hospital with blood sugar over 600 and what they think was a stroke. Mom is understandably upset as more and more of her family and friends succumb to the end of their lives. She sounded scared and sad. At least she rode up to Lima and back in my brother's Mercedes. Mom was awed that my brother's car talks to him -- probably with a female voice. He also has a talking GPS and that surprised Mom just as much. Sometimes I wonder where she has been during this century. At least Dad has an excuse; he is always chasing chickens and planting trees and flowers and finding ways to make enough money to keep Mom. Sometimes I think he should have sold her and kept Fred, the flea bite appaloosa-Arabian. It would have been cheaper.

The thing is that Dad is just as expensive to keep as Mom with his obsession with chickens and growing things. All Mom buys is jewelry and clothes and shoes and purses and fabric and yarn and whore house dining room furniture and wall coverings and collectible carnival glass. At least Dad's chickens give him fresh eggs and his plants protect the topsoil and provide shade for the decks and house and beauty for the eyes and soul. It certainly doesn't cost anything for him to smack a hen upside the head when she's misbehaving or chase the roosters around his 6.5 acres with a switch or a blue bucket. From what I can tell, they do not need to be taken in a wrap-around jacket to a loony bin -- they're already there.