Hell's Giftshop

Is the world going to hell in a handbasket? I don't think we're quite there yet. I would say we're close. We're more like...in Hell's Giftshop.

Location: Colorado, United States

I'm a 43-yr. old music lover, off-road enthusiast, camper, gotta-be-outside mountain chick.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Lately, I've had a lot on my mind...my business was slowing down, my finances were swindling, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed...and then one day I decided to try to be grateful for what I had. At night, while drifting off to sleep, I would think of people who were having a hard time...a client whose daughter was having heart surgery...a friend whose mother was diagnosed with cancer, a friend who was unemployed and growing more and more worried..I tried sending them good karma. I tried to tell myself that everything would work out both for them and for me.

I've read "A New Earth." I've watched Oprah. I sat through "The Key." Some believe putting positive energy out into the universe will reap positive energy right back atcha. I don't believe I can "think" myself to winning the lottery or convince the universe that Hugh Laurie should leave his wife for me...but I did wonder if I tried to be more positive...would things turn around?

And guess what? After weeks and weeks of thinking good things for my friends, and after just a week or so of telling myself my business would pick up...someone called me for a web site. And I got the deal, signed, sealed and delivered, with 50% of the price up front. Wow! A paycheck! A few days later a client who has been VERY behind on paying me dropped a check in the mail. I began to wonder if this karma business was real. Perhaps just reminding yourself to be grateful really DOES work.

So I spend a few days without the monkey on my back, sighing with relief, feeling positive and happy...and then today a friend who is in town for a visit told me that his brother's baby girl was diagnosed with leukemia yesterday and they are cutting their trip short to go back home. She's 3 and a half. Then later today, another friend called to ask if she could borrow my laptop to look for a job...she got fired today.

Wow, good karma does not stick around long. So even though things are looking up for me, now I have more friends who are suffering. So...does karma really work? What did a toddler do to deserve leukemia? Just when a tiny piece of life seems to make sense and travels on a linear line, just when I think I might understand something, anything, about life on this earth...reality becomes the bully on the beach and kicks sand in my face.

I suppose all I can do tonight is to go to bed and start thinking positive thoughts for those people and hope that karma gets back on track.

One of the worst things about losing your faith in god is that you don't have anyone to blame any more. Shit just happens, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This and that...

So, I vowed to write more often and I haven't done very well with that pledge. I always seem to think nothing is going on, when there's actually quite a lot going on...for instance...

My half brother Bob came to see me and we had a perfectly nice visit. His resemblance to Daddy is uncanny and his mannerisms, the way he throws his arm over his head while watching TV, are crazy weird...DNA is an amazing thing. He may look like Daddy but he does not act or sound like him. He has SUCH a southern California accent...

Spring has sprung here in Southern Colorado. My aspen trees have leafed out and I was delighted to discover that two of my baby trees had babies of their own over the winter. I have two tiny 30inch high aspen trees sprouting underneath mom and dad. They're so cute when they're little!

Business is still going nowhere fast...getting a little concerned, haven't had a new client at all this year...pretty sad...

But after watching Michael J. Fox's show "Always Looking Up," I feel better. What a great show, and I'm sure his book is great too. I do think I'm an optimist, I"m always pretty happy, for the most part...but as I've gotten older I think my optimism has been tempered my realism, but that's to be expected. His show was very uplifting and makes you stop to think about your reaction to things that happen in life.

So...I've had what I've considered to be a sprained wrist for several weeks now..maybe 4-6 weeks or so...hurts to bend my wrist back, etc. I've had a ton of sprains before and they usually go away after a few days. Well, this one didn't...I bought a small brace and I've been sleeping in it and wearing it as often as I can...but it's not better...and now there's swelling at the base of my thumb...so, I looked it up online, as Jennifer would (LOL!) and self-diagnosed myself with a scaphoid fracture of the wrist. I'm pretty sure that's what's wrong...the symptoms fit perfectly. Trouble is, I haven't fallen or done anything that could have broken it...so I have no idea what's going on...I guess I will have to go to the Doc now because the pain is worse and it's been too long for it to be just a sprain. Plus, the documents I read said if you wait too long it can not heal properly...so I shall call the Doc tomorrow and get an appointment. Sounds like a cast is needed in all cases...sigh...not looking forward to that...any bets on whether I'll be right? I could challenge Jen to a self-diagnosis contest...we seem to do a lot of it. LOL

Yesterday I took Rio to Helen Hunt Falls to play in the water and boy did he have a blast chasing pine cones and sticks down stream. He stayed away from the actual waterfall though...he doesn't like water that "sprays," I guess it reminds him of the dreaded hose...looking forward to summer when I can take him camping and get him to the lake again to swim...

Been really missing Mom and Auntie and Madge lately...there are days when something will happen, something really mundane, but something they would have loved hearing about...and I really begin to miss them. They were always happy to hear my voice and always interested in what was going on in my life and I do miss that "interest" from others. Been missing Auntie a lot since her birthday just passed.

Anyway, working on a new blog called Colorado Vibes. Jan has been buying vintage postcards from Colorado on eBay and we've had a blast going through them. Most of them have letters on the back with postmarks of 1903, 1909, 1911...so they are REALLY old. It's been a blast reading them. I've been scanning them in for the blog...plan to put my photography on there, as well as trip blogs...I used to have that web site called Circles and Lines and now I want to do something similar but with a little more writing. Anyway, the postcard collecting has been fun....

Okay, that's it for now...just wanted to write because I haven't in a while :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Winter's Discontent

While others are experiencing the beauty of spring tulips opening and mowing their yards, we are still trying to wiggle free of the cold grasp of winter's fingers here in Colorado. Snow is on the ground and our breath is on the air when we venture outside. We are on the cusp of Spring, and I an anxious to put both feet on solid, warm ground.

It is still too cold to do much outdoors, even when the sun is out. The snow from this week's Spring blizzard is beginning to melt but makes the yard muddy. My window shades are pulled to the ceiling this morning and I am curled in my rocking chair reading Jodi Picoult. Rio is lazy too. He has jumped to the couch and is laying along the top of it, his chin resting on the window sill. He looks out over the driveway and front yard. His nose quivers constantly, as if he can smell through the nose-smudged glass. His eyes dart from one side of the yard to the other. There, a squirrel. Over there, our neighbor ventures out for his mail on a melted driveway that was too difficult to navigate yesterday. His Broncos sweater cap is pulled low over his ears. Rio's eyes follow it all. He is squinting into the morning sun. The sun's warmth starts to make him sleepy. In a minute he is slumbering, his chin still resting on the drool stained window sill, his whiskers bent against the window. I imagine he is dreaming of summer; chasing butterflies, stomping through streams, scratching his back against the scrubby gamble oaks. Death Cab for Cutie's "Grapevine Fires" plays on the stereo. I place my book in my lap and allow myself to drift away too. Rio wakes up long enough to slide down the couch in a sleepy heap. He gets comfortable again, falls asleep, the sun bouncing off his fuzzy head, lighting up the spiky fur that sticks up around his ears.

For now, we must be content to wait for Spring's embrace. I close my eyes again and drift away, thinking of the buds on my aspen tree waiting to burst open, of the bulbs in the hard ground waiting for a warm rain so they can pop open and push life to the surface. We are like those seeds, still sleepy, wiggling slowly out from underneath winter's cold hand.

Over on the couch, Rio starts to snore.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Maybe Ignorance isn't Bliss

Lately I keep revisiting the glaring fact that I am not well-traveled. That I honestly do not know much about the world. That I am blissfully stuffed in a tight cocoon of ignorance about what is going on in the world. And it's starting to piss me off.

The first stages of experiencing this blistering feeling usually are when I watch the news, of course. Darfur is on my mind so much lately. I watched the movie "God Grew Tired of Us," about some of the Lost Boys of Darfur coming over to America, escaping their brutal existence and learning to live in our culture and get an education. The movie is amazing and disturbing. How can so much suffering be going on across the world while I'm at home eating a nice meal and enjoying the comfort of a fire on a cold night? I am oblivious to their pain except when the news reports from Darfur. I remember the first time I ever heard about what was happening there was because Carter on ER went to Africa to help with medical care a few years ago. I did not know what the Jangaweed were until that episode. I Googled it to see if it was real and of course it was. How could I not know these things? I watch the news. Maybe I had become de-sensitized to another image of a dark-skinned, hungry child sleeping on the ground as flies crawled over their skin. These people are living this every day and I learn about it from watching American television? What a sad commentary on me and probably millions of other Americans.

Just the other night I watched "Britz" on BBC America, an almost 5-hour movie about a brother and sister from India who were raised and given a good life in London. After 9/11 they reacted very differently...one joining Britain's MI5 to help find terrorists, the other actually feigning their death and going to a terrorist camp to train as a suicide bomber. The movie was very good, but once again, why do I FINALLY pay attention to something when it's dramatized on television? I knew these things were occurring, but seeing them on film makes it hit home for me. Once again, the message I got out of it is this: You are truly blessed but ignorantly bliss about how the world operates and the trials that others face.

I have only been outside the U.S. once in my life and that was to the Dominican Republic. Not all of us have the means to tour refugee camps in Africa, but we can travel to other continents to see how they live, but I have never even done that. I have never ridden the London subways, taken an African safari, been to a mosque, or witnessed first hand a different culture or religion and I know I am seriously socially impaired as a result. There are cultural, religious and social injustices happening all over the world, and while they rage on, I am reading a book, or taking a bubble bath, or enjoying the house I own.

Lately, when I lie in bed at night, I think of the people who are suffering elsewhere in the world, and not only do I feel horrible for them, I feel even worse for all the nights I know I will fall asleep without them crossing my mind.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Some days seem to move at a slower pace than others. Today was one of those days where you just seem to float through the day at a leisurely pace and then suddenly the day is gone. I woke up and it was 24 degrees and an inch of snow was on the ground. I let Rio out to do his business, he saw the snow and squatted right there on the deck and made the snow yellow. Lazy damn dog.

I started reading my book mid morning and before I knew it lunch time had rolled around. Time for leftover turkey! After eating I went out to the deck to test the temperature and Rio made another patch of yellow snow before I could stop him. What's the big deal about walking down 6 steps to get to the grass?

So while I'm standing on the deck a coyote slinks across the field next to me and makes his way up the hillside. I watch as he scrapes and digs at the ground, presumably trying to scrounge up lunch and several times he curls up and lays down, but quickly jumps back up to shake his rough coat. He walked like he was being chastised for doing something wrong, all skulking and tail-between-his-legs. Finally he disappeared across the summit of the hill. I hear the coyotes several times a week in the middle of the night.

On our walk today when we reached the park in Old Colorado City, there was a big tent set up and lots of booths so Rio and I went to check it out. They were selling kettle corn and funnel cakes and The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory was selling gourmet hot chocolate for $1.50. Too bad I didn't have any cash on me. Inside the tent a Santa Claus in full costume was playing the electric guitar and singing Christmas carols. Okay....

After our walk I returned to my book and received a call from my 24-year old neighbor, Emily, who invited me to go with her and her friends to see Twilight tomorrow night. She's the one who got me hooked on this vampire series of books and I've been eagerly awaiting the movie. They are dressing all in black, painting their nails red and wearing pale makeup and red lipstick. Needless to say I will be wearing jeans and will be lucky if I can even find a black shirt in my closet. I hope I do not feel like the old lady in the group, since everyone but me will be in their early to mid 20s. Sigh.

We are expecting a lot more snow tonight and I have enjoyed a quiet day of turkey leftovers, a blankie, my dog and a good book. Life is good.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Life in a Historic District

I have a new appreciation for the spirit of community and neighbors. Since moving to Old Colorado City the simple act of a walk in the neighborhood brings me a lot of serenity and happiness. I've met all my immediate neighbors, something I never did in 8 years in my old "mostly rentals" neighborhood. And with houses built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, like 95% of the ones in my neighborhood, there's this built-in accessibility and openess to each others' lives: small Craftsmen-style homes with big pillars in front and steps and wide half-walls to sit on, little white picket fences that don't keep out the neighbors but encourage visiting, small stone walls perfect for resting on...everyone is out in their yards watering or tending to plants and weeds, the sidewalks are full of people walking to their destination instead of driving, the houses, in some cases, are literally a foot apart from each other. All these things certainly take away a bit of privacy but really encourage getting to know the people who live around you.

I have stopped and talked to people sitting on their front porches in the evening watching the sun set behind Pikes Peak, I've been stopped on the steps of the 140-year old library to be told that a concert in the park was taking place that night, and I've bought lemonade from two little girls on the corner. Simple things, for sure, but ones that just give me such a feeling of contentment and peace at finally owning my own home in a neighborhood that's been thriving like this for over 130 years, people walking, talking, sharing and loving life at the base of Pikes Peak in the most beautiful state in the country :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Buyer Beware

While walking in my neighborhood the past few weeks I've noticed the progression of an old Victorian house go from old and falling down to old and falling down but you don't know it.

There used to be a FOR SALE sign in front of this old house, probably built in the late 1800s or early 1900s. It's here in the historic district, and the asking price was $140,000. It's in pretty bad shape. The foundation is horribly cracked and crumbling in places, bricks were falling off, a new roof, etc. No telling what the inside looked like, but I've been inside enough of these old houses to be able to guess.

It did mention on the flyer that it was a handyman's dream, so it was obvious this was a house that needed some work. A few weeks later I notice the FOR SALE sign is gone and a handyman truck is parked at the curb. For weeks I've heard hammering inside as I pass and sawhorses in the yard. Last week they were putting plywood on the outside of the house from the ground to about waist-high, effectively covering up that broken foundation. Today when I walk past they have neatly stuccoed the plywood, created a small shelf-like wall all the way around and stuccoed over the crumbling brick and painted it all one color. It obvious this new ledge/shelf will be decorated with pots and garden items and give a warm-and-fuzzy feeling to anyone looking to buy it. What they WON'T see is the crumbling foundation. Who knows what they did in the basement to cover up the foundation from the inside...

When they finish, I'm sure the stucco will be offset with a bright trim on the windows, plants on the new "ledge, and a garden gnome out front to provide some much-needed curb appeal to the old house.

Something about it just makes me sad. And I feel bad for the person who buys it, not knowing what's lurking beneath the embellishments...