30 September 2016

10 Things - 30 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for ...

1. Knowing I can now just go stick my head in a pot (no, not that kind of pot!) and hide from the world after a very busy few days
2. Having a bed I can just go do a face plant in
3. Soil
4. Thank you cards
5. Having fun giving my talk at AESE
6. Lt. Uhura (the original)
7. Ens./Lt. Rho (next generation)
8. Sheryl Sandberg
9. The Chronicles of Narnia
10. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches

29 September 2016

10 Things - 29 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for ...

1. Goofy Buddy
2. Using this picture in a PowerPoint presentation
3. The AESE (Assoc. of Earth Science Editors) annual meeting at which I will present this presentation
4. Not having to be perfect
5. YouTube (the slide video is online)
6. A good massage today
7. A good lunch today
8. Getting my iPhone memory rebooted
9. Peanut Butter
10. Dogs

28 September 2016

10 Things - 28 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for...

1. Digital cameras
2. GIMP free software
3. Water drops
4. It being Wednesday and the job stress meter flipped from overdrive to purr
5. This fortune cookie fortune: "Do not wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it" —I'll be writing more about that soon
6. This Ted Talk by Sheryl Sandberg
7. It's Closer night!
8. My old iPOD with no screen or buttons. Perfect for workouts; nearly indestructible.
9. Bear teaching me about patience.
10. Learning, learning, learning!

27 September 2016

10 Things - 27 Sept. 2016

Left Hand Animal Hospital Logo
Left Hand Animal Hospital Logo
(not my work)
I'm grateful for ...

1. Everyone at Left Hand Animal Hospital
2. No more broccoli (for Jasper)
3. The best app ever: Notepad
4. Mr. Geological Society of America (you had to be there)
5. This week's weather
6. My gym
7. My trainer
8. Bear
9. Being able to repeat stuff I'm grateful for
10. Caffeine 

26 September 2016

10 Things - 26 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for ...

1. Change
2. Gaining more insight into what Jasper, Bear & I need right now
3. Being able to take a step back
4. Knowing this stress-sick and exhaustion brought on by work will be over by Wednesday afternoon
5. Not having to debate anyone
6. Grandma's old glass paperweight
7. Being able to take this photo in London showing three eras of building type
8. Crystal Geyser Sparkling Water
9. Owning a carpet washing machine and Bear knowing how to use it
10. Having a good veterinarian

25 September 2016

10 Things - 25 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for ...

1. Jessie
2. My mom's "I'm grateful for" list
3. Lessons learned
4. Having Lucy over (friend's dog)
5. Perspective
6. Knowing when not to adopt a dog
7. Meeting the great GSA Today science editors
8. Interesting science that ties to current issues
9. My job
10. Everyone who is walking around with the program book I edited for the Annual Meeting as if it really isn't a "throw-away piece"

24 September 2016

10 Things - 24 Sept. 2016

Dream Lake photo by keagiles
I'm grateful for ... 

1. Fresh air
2. Rocky Mountain National Park
3. The sound of the breeze through the leaves of the cottonwood trees outside my window
4. A second chance
5. May Wah
6. Fortune cookies
7. More good advice
8. Working from home
9. Jasper's upstairs bed
10. Knowledge of HTML

23 September 2016

10 Things - 23 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for ...

1. Sweetness aka Opal
2. Beth who is fostering her
3. The possibility that Opal could be the right dog to fit into our household
4. Jessie who made me want another sweet dog
5. Jasper for being a sweetheart
6. Bear for patience
7. My doctor
8. My friends
9. My brothers
10. Acia

22 September 2016

Book of Poetry - Thank You Maya Angelou

I just purchased the book Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry (2015, Random House). It's a beautiful volume; holding it, I'm almost in tears because of what it represents.

I'm starting what I hope will be a continual dialog between her poetry and me, and you, my dear readers. (Note: I will not be reproducing full poems here; that violates copyright and just isn't ethical.)

I met Maya Angelou when I was an undergrad at CU Boulder back in the '80s. Spectacular. I got her to sign my copy of her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I was in awe and awkward and asked her if it was OK if I could say she was my hero. Of course she said yes.

Had I not been afraid of the unknown, of a complex alteration of my life's course, I might have gone to grad school at Wake Forest University, where she taught in the humanities department. But I didn't. I stayed here and got a master's in Journalism. I wonder what if ...

Today's selection:
"On a Bright Day, Next Week," first published in 1971 in Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water before I Diiie (part 2: "Just before the World Ends"). The lines, "All my tears will powder / Black in dust like ashes" (p. 30) speak to me as if written about the pain of now — with so many African American men (and women) dying violent deaths at the hands of police.

Let me write it out again: "All my tears will powder / Black in dust like ashes."

The poem also refers to "Just before the bomb falls," and I think that is in reference to the atomic bomb. In the late '60s, early '70s we all were walking clench-jawed in fear of the A-bomb, and in school we practiced hiding under desks (the same as our earthquake drills; I grew up in California) to shelter from what we didn't understand.

[[Aside: This reminds me of a chapter, "Snow," from the book, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez. Trying to summarize the chapter takes away from this post; just thought I'd mention it, and you can look it up. Good book.]]

"Just before the bomb falls" could also signify the weight and shock of knowing that even "on a bright day next week" one's world could fall apart. But all is not lost; Angelou writes. "Then will mercy tumble ... Falling from the sky."

That's what we need now; mercy falling from the sky to spread like dust on all Earth's children.

10 Things - 22 Sept. 2016

bird drawing by keagiles
I am grateful for ...

1. Maya Angelou
2. Madeleine L'Engle
3. C.S. Lewis
4. Zenna Henderson
5. David Brin
6. Julie Edwards
7. Lucy Maud Montgomery
8. Louisa May Alcott
9. Harper Lee
10. Dean Koontz

21 September 2016

10 Things - 21 Sept. 2016

I am grateful for ...

1. Video cameras (cell phone, dash cam)
2. Not being alone and on the road
3. Not being in the horror (news) business
4. Food
5. Security
6. A roof over my head
7. A fresh, clean bed
8. Towels
9. Fresh, clean clothes
10. Knowing I can have something to eat to cure my growling stomach this morning

20 September 2016

Fortune Cookie's Take on Fear

I'm going to circle back to one of the fortunes I discussed in my 18 Sept. post: "There is no fear for one whose thought is not confused." I wrote a little metaphorical bit and referred to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's take on fear.

My thoughts are confused. I'm confused, afraid, and angered at police violence, the killing of so many African-American men and women. I bet everyone is confused. And it's right to be afraid, not only of the immediate consequences, but for our future as a supposedly united people.

And who decided you have to stand for the national anthem? The same folks who decided that I must start every school day pledging allegiance to the flag? Being a patriot, being an American, is about more than symbolism. It's about working together for a common cause: The uplifting of democracy and equality among all men and women.

I don't think I'm the best person to expound further on what it means to be an American. But I know it doesn't (shouldn't) mean that one whole class of people fear for their lives on a daily basis.

10 Things - 20 Sept. 2016

water drops on a web photo by keagiles

I'm grateful for ...

1. Taking this picture which says to me "we are all connected"
2. Not getting pulled over by police
3. Knowing with near certainty that I will never get shot by police
4. Not being racially profiled
5. Having gray hair
6. Having dogs to enjoy, not to be protected by them
7. The luxury to sit here writing my 10 things
8. Having a job to go to after writing my 10 things
9. U.S. Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard
10. Paramedics

19 September 2016

I Just Don't Have a Picture for This One

How does a person live in a world of such dichotomies, such mind-bending inequalities, that I can sit happily at my computer typing out my "10-things-I'm grateful-for" lists while this happens, over and over, every single day?

10 Things - 19 Sept. 2016

water drops by keagiles
I'm grateful for ...

1. Rain
2. Knowing the truth
3. P!nk
4. Linkin Park
5. Aleo and Hsutphin
6. Goofiness
7. My gym
8. Perseverance
9. Grit
10. Bear

18 September 2016

Fortune Cookies

Last night my family and I enjoyed a great get-together over a huge meal of Chinese food. As you know, at the end of such a meal, folks will open their fortune cookies.

Here are ours:
1. The best times of your life have not yet been lived.
2. Do onto [sic] others as you wish others do onto [sic] you.
3. Try your best to avoid arguing with your elders and superiors.
4. There is no fear for the one whose thought is not confused.
5. Winning starts with beginning.

The oldest person (85) in the room got #1. Everyone laughed and wondered how that could be possible and what did it say about everything that had happened in his life up to now.

I got #2. I wish I could get that one right more often.

The other three "fortunes" strike me as something to spend more time writing about. What's up for me now is #3. I think it's time I actually start pushing that boundary. Not arguing per se, but moving past the quiescent underling role I feel I should maintain and toward being someone who questions more and, for lack of a better way to say it, refuses to die for the job. A career should bring joy, just as one seeks joy in a career.

"There is no fear for the whose thought is not confused." That sounds a lot like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's line, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." But more so, like how clarity shines a light through the darkness of confusion. Fear is disorder like a hoarder's house; having thoughts that are not confused is like a straight path in sunlight.

Finally ... "winning starts with beginning." Yes. It also cannot be upheld without perseverance.

Next time: Addressing "the best times of your life have not yet been lived" and my idea that, in some way or another, we all live in a world of make-believe.

10 Things - 18 Sept. 2016

Boulder Chautauqua
I'm grateful for ...

1. Sunshine and shadow
2. A rainbow way out yonder
3. Colorado
4. Air conditioning
5. Having a washer and dryer
6. Oceans
7. The sound of papers fluttering in the soft breeze of our ceiling fan
8. Not really having to do the thing you think you have to do 
9. Living without "one-more-thing–itis"
10. Left Hand Animal Hospital

17 September 2016

10 Things - 17 Sept. 2016

bumble bee on thistle flower
I'm grateful for ...

1. Bumble bees
2. Thistle flowers
3. The Little Golden Books
4. April's new book
5. Love
6. The ability to see and hear
7. Soil
8. Being able to afford medication
9. Macbeth
10. That there are no spots to get out

16 September 2016

10 Things - 16 Sept. 2016

dew on a net web
I'm grateful for ...

1. Net spiders
2. Morning dew
3. iPhone cameras
4. Silence
5. Dermatologist doing good by burning things off my body (ouch!)
6. Helpful coworkers
7. Cards by Papyrus
8. My younger brother even when he's cranky :)
9. Mom
10. Dad and Betty

15 September 2016

10 Things - 15 Sept. 2016

Canada, photograph, Bow Lake
I'm grateful for ...

1. Canada's Bow Lake
2. The ability to travel
3. My workout last night - such fun!
4. BBC America
5. Nichelle Nichols
6. The little family upstairs
7. Toaster waffles
8. Crofters raspberry fruit spread
9. My National Geographic world map
10. Opals

14 September 2016

What's Fibonacci?

weed, golden ratio
In one of my recent "10 Things I'm Grateful For" articles, I mentioned the Fibonacci sequence. What's that?

This website, "Math is Fun," explains it well and even has a neat little interactive gadget to show you how the Fibonacci numbers affect what you see. The numbers are part of the "Golden Ratio" as seen throughout nature. It's beautiful! Just have a look at a few of my photos to see what I mean. If you click on the image, you should see a bigger version.

10 Things - 14 Sept. 2016

dog, beach
I'm grateful for ...

1. Happy dogs
2. The dog beach in San Diego
3. Prang watercolors
4. Paper
5. Clean clothes
6. Bear again
7. Jasper again
8. Olives
9. The trip to the UK with my mom
10. Audio speakers

13 September 2016

10 Things - 13 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for ...

1. Bubbles
2. The Fibonacci sequence in nature
3. Symmetry
4. My grandmother's Worthington, Ohio, block print
5. Misty rain in the morning
6. YouTube
7. Sleep
8. Light
9. My car
10. Learning not to be perfect

12 September 2016

10 Things - 12 Sept. 2016

I am grateful for ... 

1. Purple
2. Yellow
3. Hiking through meadows
4. Taking a shower at home after a few days no water
5. Income
6. Time
8. The Internet
9. Facebook friends
10. Twitter

11 September 2016

10 Things - 11 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for ...

1. Beauty among life's prickly problems
2. Sundays
3. Possibilities
4. Credit cards
5. More than one way out
6. Meghan Trainor's new album "Thank You"
7. Music videos
8. Flowery workout leggings that fit
9. Sunshine
10. Blue skies

10 September 2016

10 Things - 10 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for ...

1. Trees, especially the ones outside my window
2. Soap
3. Saturdays
4. Auntie
5. Erick
6. Lindsay
7. Natalie
8. Scott
9. Dora
10. The Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue

09 September 2016

10 Things - 9 Sept.2016

I am grateful for...

1. My friend April.
2. The flowers she just gave me.
3. My friend Karina.
4. The trip to California that I just took to see her.
5. Fresh, crispy Red Delicious apples.
6. My friend Corissa with whom I used to pick apples and hangout under the trees.
7. Warm days in Sebastapol when I was in 6th/7th grade.
8. Picking strawberries on the beach at Bodega Bay in my early teens.
9. Our neighbor Cookie.
10. The opal I bought in Bath, UK.

08 September 2016

10 Things - 8 Sept. 2016

I'm grateful for ...

1. Tea - Earl Grey - Hot
2. Clean water
3. Indoor plumbing
4. The Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue (through whom I got Jessie)
5. The Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies (who were able to find a new home for Gem)
6. Postcards
7. Peanut Butter
8. The Black-Eyed Peas' song "Anxiety"
9. Composer John Powell (Jason Bourne series)
10. The Jason Bourne series.

07 September 2016


despacio sign
I visited Costa Rica a couple of years ago and got some great pictures, but these two come up in my mind most frequently.

The first is the despacio (slow) sign for the roadway. Person, dog, sloth, monkey. I noticed the monkeys used power lines to get around, and I didn't see any sloths, perhaps because they were moving so slowly they were camouflaged.

People, yes, dogs, yes. And lots of speeding cars, all headed to Manuel Antonio National Park.

woman iPhone photo monkey
This second one stands out because of it's irony: A picture of a woman taking a picture of a white-faced monkey that you can see on her iPhone screen while the monkey is looking back at us. This photo was taken at the beach in Manuel Antonio National Park, where the monkeys are just steps away from the water.

Perhaps in another post I will discuss the philosophical meaning behind the photos. For now, they just give us something to think about.

10 Things - 7 Sept. 2016

I am grateful for...

1. The gym I just started going to in August, Anytime Fitness.
2. My personal trainer.
3. The money to pay her.
4. Cat fud (ala Gary Larson).
5. Dog food.
6. Lace curtains.
7. Diet Coke (yes, I'm sorry, I know...)
8. New sheets!
9. The writing hacks course I am taking.
10. Peaceful Valley.

06 September 2016

10 Things - 6 Sept. 2016

I'm Grateful for...

1. Hot water.
2. Bear even though he used up all the hot water.
3. Jasper who is now barking for a walk.
4. My awesome computer keyboard.
5. Anne of Green Gables.
6. The Harvard Business Review.
7. Sparkling water.
8. Pencils.
9. Shoes.
10. "Major Crimes" TV show.

Tune in tomorrow for the next 10 things.

05 September 2016

Bye-Bye Jessie

Jessie the golden retriever
Jessie died in May. We had her euthanized because she had massive lipomas intertwined with her muscles in her right back leg. Lipomas are usually operable and benign, but the only way to relieve Jessie's pain would have been to amputate her leg. Not happening. No sweet 13-year-old golden should go through that.

And she was very sweet. I miss her more than any other dog I've had, except for Buddy, my first golden, who was my heart.

Jessie was my bright star, a wobbly, goofy girl who liked to run and play as much as she could. As I wrote in my first post about her, she came to me at 12, weighing 119 pounds. A female golden retriever should weigh about 70 pounds. But Jessie was no couch potato; I think she'd been a bit neglected near the end of her first owner's life. I also think that something in her stomach (which we had to have surgically removed) had been rolling around in there for some time (and then connected to a cloth toy she ate), making her try to eat anything to get her tummy to feel better. By the time this picture was taken, she was down to 72 pounds.

I have cried a lot over losing Jessie. One would think that just having her for a little over a year wouldn't cause such an attachment, but I have found that time is not a factor. Time is not a factor on how one bonds with another being nor in how one stops grieving her. I still cry once in a while, and poor Jasper, our husky, gets a lot of my tears and lots more hugs than he might actually like (huskies aren't the most cuddly of dogs).

So, bye-bye Jessie. You'll be missed forever.


I had a particularly bad day at work a few weeks ago. I won't name names or go into details, but my feeling after the event was shock. I couldn't make sense of things, and my reaction threw me down into a spiral of depression and a feeling of helplessness.

Then, serendipity.

I was at the grocery store, and you know how there's always racks of magazines by the cash registers? Usually they're tabloid or Hollywood or glamour based. This time, right at the top, staring me in the face, was the Harvard Business Review's OnPoint magazine for fall 2016 (selected articles from HBR) "How to Work with Toxic Colleagues." Wow. Perfect.

This is one of the first magazines I have poured through and found nuggets of wisdom from each page. I'm highlighting passages here and there that feel especially pertinent to my situation. The one that, so far, applies the most to my situation is quoted below:
She explained how she has sort of "handled" [the employee] ... (which is why she felt betrayed by his accusations). Evidently, he'd often vent to her about what he saw as all-around stupidity. She'd listen, calm him down, and occasionally chide him extremely gently for being out of line. And other people would come to her and complain when he'd said something nasty, and she'd calm *them* down (explaining the pressure he was under, whatever). Since he exempted her from his nastiness, she was shocked when he turned on her." —Sarah Cliffe (p. 93).
It's not exactly nastiness — more of a prickliness. And you never know when it's going to happen. For 13 years I've danced around trying to please and not provoke. What have I created? This sort of situation. It's partly my fault for trying to take care of everyone and avoid conflict. Now: What can I learn, and how can I change?

First, I'm doing the research. Second, I'm backing off at work, letting go of trying to control things. Part of my job as managing editor is to control workflow. But nowhere in the job description does it say that I have to try to make everybody happy.

That doesn't mean that I don't care. I care very much. That's why, as Cliffe writes, I end up feeling "betrayed" or having a sense of shock when something happens that isn't in line with how I like to present myself.

In this HBR OnPoint edition, Nicole Torres' article, "It's Better to Avoid a Toxic Employee Than Hire a Superstar" (p. 21), also strikes a chord with me. She writes,
[Researchers] compared the cost of a toxic worker with the value of a superstar, which they define as a worker who is so productive that a firm would have to hire additional people or pay current employees more just to achieve the same output.

They calculated that avoiding a toxic employee can save a company more than twice as much as bringing in a star performer.
I am sorry to say that I used to be so task focused that sometimes I did not pay attention to how I was perceived or how my attempts to be helpful were actually keeping others from growing and learning.

That in some way is what I have done in this situation. That doesn't mean I'm more at fault than the other person, but it's important to recognize that I'm not Teflon and she's not always wrong.

The magazine is going to require several more hours of study. I've also picked up a few books to help me decide what to do next; that is, do I need to make a life change or change the way I work and perceive and interact with others?

These changes go hand-in-hand, but where's the tipping point?

I'm reading Life Purpose Boot Camp: The 8-Week Breakthrough Plan for Creating a Meaningful Life, by Eric Maisel; Pivot: The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life, by Adam Markel; Road Trip Nation's Roadmap: The Get-it-Together Guide for Figuring Out What to Do With Your Life; and Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg.

I'm also taking a Udemy class, "Writing Mastery: Productivity Hacks for Writers," taught by author Jessica Brody. As long as I can remember, I've wanted to "be a writer." My first poem was published Boulder's Daily Camera in 1970 (when I was seven, and the article was about the poetry class I was taking with other kids my age). There's more to the story about my writing goals that I won't include here; look for another post!

Plus, I've joined a gym and am working with a personal trainer. Strength in, fat and lethargy out.

This is just the beginning. The opportunities for learning are tremendous; the next step will be to "get clear on [my] life purposes, upgrade [my] personality, and manage [my] circumstances as mindfully as [I] can" (Maisel, p. 8).

04 September 2016

Today I Write

burn scar photo by kea
I'm taking a writing class, "Writing Mastery: Productivity Hacks for Writers," by Jessica Brody (through Udemy). Oddly, the main instruction so far in this class is to write (LOL). Write daily, write early, write in "writing clothes" (clothing set aside to wear only for writing).

Brody says to get up as early as possible, preferably 6 a.m., to start writing. Tried that; turned off my alarm, went back to sleep. She says that people who say they are not "morning people" can make the change. I'd rather be writing at midnight, but that would interfere with how I function at my day job. We'll see how this exercise works out.

I have found it difficult to find clothes just for writing in. Bonus though: I found two awesome dresses I might never have come upon during this search: One still tagged and unworn for $4 at the Hospice Thrift Store and one marked down to under $10 at Target. Note: Until I started working out and needed exercise clothes, I hadn't shopped for clothes at Target in years. The Target dress would be great for writing in, except that it's too nice to set aside just for that.

Decision on this one: Don't let searching for the "write" clothes interfere with my writing. I have a hard enough time deciding what to wear for work.

Turning the corner: You're probably wondering why I chose the image accompanying this post. It's one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen: a burn scar — the remains of a burned out tree after the 2012 Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park. It matches the theme of this blog.

Dragonfly Wars relates to the conflicts inside and among people: between fear and curiosity, ignorance and acceptance, scars and beauty, the struggle of life, the freedom of life, the metamorphosis of death. Wikipedia has a wonderfully detailed entry about these impossible insects (akin to bumble bees in terms of how they can fly, I think).

dragonfly photo by keaI'm not sure why people concentrate so much on the metamorphosis of butterflies as compared to dragonflies, except that perhaps the changeover for butterflies is much more visible. Dragonflies start as "naiads" or "nymphs" under water and only emerge when the time is right (spring or summer, after up to five years). I don't know what prompts them to emerge as adults — that could be a metaphor within itself. Adult dragonflies live in their delicate yet sturdy flight stage for only about 60 days.

If you want to know more about dragonflies, check out this website: Dragonflies of Boulder County. (which is connected to the main page of the Boulder County Audubon Society).

I'm hoping to put up more posts on this blog more consistently, so please stay tuned! Suggest a topic, ask a question, let me know you're "listening."