uninvited visitor

This weekend as Karl and I were starting our Saturday by lounging around in our pajamas and eating cereal, I noticed what looked like stuffing from the couch on the floor. We started pulling cushions off, and realized with horror that there was a small hole apparently gnawed into the bottom of the seat... and a corresponding little hole in the corner by the patio door. Yikes. We called the apartment management folks, who promised someone would come out "by Monday at the latest."

Rodents give me the creeps in a special, particular way: when I was ten and we were living in Germany next to some farmland, a large rat managed to chew its way through one of the window sills and take up residence in our kitchen and dining room. My mom, wanting to impress upon her young children the dangers such rodents could pose, assigned us to research and write a report on rats, particularly the diseases they carry and their threat to humans, as part of our homeschooling. Do you have any idea how many horrible-sounding diseases you can catch from a rat? I don't think I slept well for a week - even after I made my sister share the top bunk of the bunk bed with me. (There was no WAY I was sleeping on the bottom, that close to the floor - rats can climb!)

I'm hoping our particular situation will be resolved soon, but in the meantime neither Karl nor I will sit on the couch until I can clean the cushions. Not even seeing "Ratatouille" can convince me that rodents are our friends.


Since I hit 5'8" when I was about twelve (and added another half inch in the next couple of years), for a long time I was very hesitant to wear any shoes that added to my seemingly freakish height. I stuck to flats, even going through a phase where I switched out my shoes for ballet slippers (the flattest things I could find besides just socks) every day at high school. I felt like somehow I was sized incorrectly, especially beside some of my tiny, petite friends. It didn't help that I'm somewhat of a klutz and can't seem to go more than a day or so without running into, dropping or spilling something. As a teenager, I felt like this Amazon woman towering over everyone and breaking things - not exactly the graceful, beautiful girl I so wanted to be.

At some point, though, I figured out that there's actually a certain amount of power in being tall. People seem to respect you more, listen to you better, and pay attention to you. I remember the first time I dared to wear heels higher than an inch or so - it was actually fun to get the attention, and unbelievably exhilarating to finally start to feel comfortable in my skin. I now routinely wear high heels to work, to church, and especially for fancy evenings out, and I love feeling so feminine, confident and... well, tall. And the best part is that since I married a man who's over 6'2" I can strap on those 3 inch heels and still feel small and protected next to him. And THAT is just about perfect.


What is it that makes some landscapes just feel like "home" so much? I grew up moving all over as an Army brat, and didn't even live in Colorado until I was in high school, but somehow the mountains always calm a part of me that nothing else does - it's like returning to a place that has some sort of hold on me. I don't know if this is because the Colorado mountains were always home to my dad, a part of his conversations and the destination for our family vacations, or if it's something innate in me. I read once that there's a certain age growing up where your surroundings are embedded into your subconscious as what "home" will always mean for you, be that prairie or forest, city or seacoast, mountains or desert or valley. As much as I love the wildness of the ocean, the mysteries of the forest or the glory of the plains, it's the mountains that hold my heart.

learning my lesson

So can anyone guess what happened with our luggage flying into Colorado? Yep, that's right - lost. Since we were driving from the Springs (Colorado Springs, for those of you non-natives) up to the mountains, we didn't want to trust the airlines to deliver the suitcase (a process that would have invovled transfering it to another airline, flying it to Denver, transfering it back to the orignial guys and then to a delivery service to drive up into the mountains to the YMCA of the Rockies and, hopefully, get it to the right lodge where someone could accept it since we were in the campground... you can make your own assumptions about the likelihood of us ever seeing our things again if we went this route) and so decided to stick around for the extra half-day until it came in on the next flight. Any guesses whether or not it did in fact come in? Right again - no suitcase, and now we'd spent half a day of our very limited reunion time. Karl and I rolled our eyes, drove to Target, split up to grab crucial items like underwear, shorts, t-shirts, toothbrushes and mascara, then jumped in the car to drive the 3.5 hours up to Winter Park.

The great part was getting to spend time with my sisters, and my brother Peter who came home from Iraq a week early. He'd e-mailed me beforehand about the possibility, but no one else except for my Grandma knew - one of the best parts of the reunion was watching my mom's face when she saw him walk in. It was so good to see him, and spend some time with him! Overall, great reunion: the mountains were beautiful, it was fun to see all my cousins' little kiddos, and catch up with people I don't see often enough. There's something about family - you gotta love 'em.

And in case you were wondering, the suitcase made it home with us.

family reunion

Every three years, my dad's family gets together for a reunion up in the Colorado mountains - since he was one of eight kids, this gets to be quite a crowd. I have something along the lines of 26 first cousins - not counting cousins' spouses, kids (first cousins once removed? Second cousins?) or miscellaneous pets.

Since our wedding was fairly small, this will be the first time for Karl to meet a good portion of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. He's not sure if he's excited, nervous, or just resigned to three days of small talk, goofy jokes, and trying to remember names. As one way of providing a bit of a buffer, we've decided to camp nearby instead of staying in the lodge with everyone else. This lets us babysit my sister's puppy - which also gives Karl the perfect get-away excuse: "Sorry, I'd love to stay, but the puppy needs someone to go check on her/walk her/feed her." Should work beautifully.

We fly out tonight, and I've been trying to calculate the odds of my bag being lost for the third time in two weeks...


After all my talk about learning my lesson and packing necessities in my carry-on, I failed to actually follow through for my flight home... and of course, my bag was lost again. Fortunately, my husband is sweet enough not to mind the mascara-less version of me, and since I managed to catch a horrific cold on the way home that knocked me out for a few days, I didn't care much either.

first impressions

Being the obsessive planner that I am, there's always a nagging little voice that cautions me to pack some "necessities" (i.e. clean underwear, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste and mascara) when flying, just in case they lose my luggage. Being the optimist that I am, I usually ignore that little voice. This week I'm re-thinking that policy.

On my way to Oklahoma City for a workshop I'm running I ended up checking every box on the "Frustrating Things that Can Happen to Delay, Complicate or Hinder Your Travel Plans" checklist. Stuck in the plane for two hours on the tarmack in a massive thunderstorm waiting for weather to clear up so we can take off? Check. Missing the time for my connecting plane? Check. Finding out the connection was also delayed due to weather, going to that gate, realizing the gate had switched to a totally different terminal, finding the new gate and waiting another hour before hearing the announcement that the flight is cancelled? Check. Spending an hour and a half in line waiting to re-book? Check. Realizing that all along I had been re-booked automatically and could have just gone to the mysterious, unlabeled machine sitting ten feet from me and printed a new boarding pass? Check. New, re-booked plane being delayed an hour and a half (making the total time spent in this second airport nearly 6 hours)? Check. Finally arriving at my destination, only to spend forty minutes watching every single piece of luggage wobble by on the conveyer belt - except mine? Check. Standing in line for another twenty minutes to file a claim? Check. Being assured that my bag would arrive "on the next flight, or at the latest early tomorrow morning," and that the delivery service would bring it to my hotel right away? Check. Finding out that the delivery service collected my bag by 7am, yet not getting it until after 3pm? Check.

I can certainly understand all the weather delays (after all, I don't particularly want to be flying in a massive thunderstorm, anyway), but losing my bag meant not only that I didn't have the projector needed for the presentations, but that I'd have to welcome 33 workshop attendees wearing the sandals, jean skirt and t-shirt I wore on the plane, with washed but otherwise unstyled hair, and (gasp!) no make-up. I'm not kidding when I say that mascara is critical to my sense of peace with the world, so this last bit was particularly horrifying.

I'm not sure how I came across to all these folks, but it wasn't exactly the professional, suit-wearing, put-together image I wanted. And, once my suitcase did arrive and I snuck upstairs to change and remedy the lack of mascara, I noticed a definite difference in their interaction with me. Isn't it funny how first impressions are formed? Karl teases me for caring so much about what I wear, even changing clothes multiple times in the morning because "it just didn't feel right," but it's so clear to me that it does make a difference.

Next time I pay attention to the little voice. At least about the mascara.