2020-10-19 Quick and Squeaky

It’s a new day and a new week. Another opportunity to get it all done.

Despite waking up with a pain in my neck at 5:10am, I’m in pretty good spirits. In large part thanks to the fact that I no longer have to figure out how to fit work in with all the other stuff I’ve got to do. And magically, the “stuff” always grows to fill the space.

Two exciting updates to share! Yesterday I submitted my first poetry manuscript to a contest for first or second book. It’s exciting to think that all that I’ve learned in the last three years might actually result in a published book. I mean, it’s still a pipe dream but it’s my pipe dream and it’s fun to daydream about the possibilities.

The second thing is that another one of my poems was accepted for publication in an online journal. Huzzah!!

It’s called “Open Window” and it originally came from a prompt I did when writing with my Tuesday writing group. I got feedback on it from my mentor, Stave Langan, in the 3rd semester of my MFA program. Steve helped me find the right form for the poem. Now it’s going to be in The Wild Roof Review in January. 💃💃💃

And that thing I mentioned last week? About keeping track of what’s been submitted since I’m sending so many of the same poems out to so many places? Yeah, well.. now I’ve got to withdrawn that poem from like 10 other publishers. Seems like a good time, eh? Ha!

Other than that, I’m excited this week to be celebrating Jim’s bday and also plan to kick my week off right by going to vote. I’m taking my daughter so she can vote too (her first time) and not be intimidated by the process or choices. Hopefully the line to vote will not be that long.

For me it’s a bit of a repeat from 4 years ago since I went in to vote early then too. I just prefer it, you know. But last time there was like nobody there voting early the day I went. I have a feeling today will be different. I think many people have the same idea.

The jury is still out on a potential road trip to Austin to be with my peeps on election night, also just like 4 years ago. Minus all the driving. Jim does not have time off work enough for that but I certainly do. It’s the kind of thing I would not have hesitated about when I was single. If I wanted to go, I’d just do it. Now I feel a tug of angst about it.

Going without Jim, skipping out on my responsibilities here, and driving all that way. To be fair, the drive does not bother me that much so it’s mostly going without Jim that’s holding me back. Still, it would be great to see my people again. It’s been since February when I got married but 2020 feels like the longest year in the history of years.

I’m gonna cut this short today cuz I gotta get down to business. Like I said, lots to do!

XOXOXO,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-18 It’s Not the Poem’s Fault

It’s Sunday and my day is starting early. I woke before 6am and tried to go back to sleep but its futile. It’s almost 7 now so it’s not like I didn’t try to resist getting up. Hopefully Jim can get some extra rest with the absence of my tossing and turning. Hopefully he’ll text me when he does wake up so I can sneak back in and get some snuggles in. Hopefully the kids sleep in too.

So much hope.

My weather app is reporting snow showers. It’s already the coldest morning of fall yet with temps bottoming out at 34 degrees. Which means that if it is snowing, it won’t be for long. Another degree and that snow will turn to rain. And then the dusting we’ve gotten over night will be gone.

Kind of a bummer that I don’t have anything more exciting than that to talk about. Hey.. do you remember when I used to report on my stats every Sunday. Yeah, so I guess compared to that, talking about the weather is aaaallllll-right.

Yesterday I got my manuscript back from a friend whose helping me fine-tune it for submission. The original contest I was looking into for this has a deadline of today. This means most of my day will be spent on editing. And there’s a lot of comments and suggestions to get through.

Sometimes I think poems are never done. I used to ask this question when I attended workshops. “How do you know the poem is done?” Now I recognize the reason the question never seems to get answered.

The author talks a little bit about their process and evades any definitive answer. It’s because there isn’t one. The poem is never done. Stick with me here…

You write a poem. It comes from a combination of experience, state of mind, and knowledge. These shifting variables are how that line break ends up there and One word is chosen over another. Sometimes the poem writes itself and then you sit back and are like, “holy wow, there’s a poem.”

Then, if your like me, you’re making eyes at this new baby like it’s the best baby in the world. Why is it that each new poem feels brilliant? Because you’re still basically the same person (experience, mood, knowledge) as you were in that inspirational moment. But wait a hot minute.

State of mind is the fastest shape shifter. From one day to the next it can render a read of the poem with dramatically different outcomes. One day you love it. The next, you hate it. . Yeah, mood is pretty powerful. I’ve sat down to revise poems and end up throwing my hands up in the air because all the poems are terrible. I’d say, forget about it!!

Then, two days later I return again and things are softer. The words sneak back into my good graces. And I wonder why I had been so hard on myself (or the poem!).

But that’s just one factor. Experience and knowledge are others. As time has a habit of doing, it changes you. If you put that baby of a poem on a virtual shelf and don’t look at it for six months, donuts to dollars it WILL be different when you pull it off the shelf. But it’s not the poem, it’s the writer.

Perhaps in those six months you’ve fallen out of love with the person the poem is about. Maybe they cheated on you and broke your heart (that bastard!) and you read the poem with a new perspective. Is it better or worse? Are you still attached to it or over it? It’s so subjective.

And as for actually revising, each new thing you learn causes you to rethink a choice. I’ve taken the same poem and revised with like a dozen different techniques, tried and true methods, and personal experimental ones.

Again, it’s sometimes tough to sit back and be objective about the result. That’s why getting other eyes on it is so important. Other people can look at your work more objectively and perhaps point out something that’s better or different or more effective. Probably they will find something, and are not going to just tell you to toss it out as rubbish.

Back to the question at hand. When is it done done? When is enough enough? Don’t ask me.. I don’t know. 🤣

I thought for sure my answer would be, “once it’s published”, but now I’m revising poems that have already been published for a full length book and still finding ways to tighten and improve them. Swap this verb for that one and change the way the stanzas are arranged.

Yeah, three line stanzas for sure work better to enhance the unbalanced nature of the topic. Four line stanzas are structured and stable and confident. The speaker of that poem is definitely unbalanced and is teetering like a three legged table. Much more effective.

That’s something I learned at a workshop this summer. And now I can’t unlearn it. So if I’m revising, it’s now one of the things I’m thinking about. The difference between the one, two, three, and four line stanza. And what about five or six? What do each of those mean?

Where does the madness end?

Well, at some point you just have to be satisfied with it I guess. Which comes back to mood again. There are days when I still think some poem is the best thing since sliced bread and that’s the day I pull the trigger and send it out into the world to see if it can find a real home. Three days later I’ll look again with a facepalm wondering what I was thinking.

Today I don’t have time to think to much. And I certainly don’t have the luxury of waiting another day to see if my mood improves. Which is ok, since I’ve looked at the poems in this manuscript so many times and for so long, that I’m kinda over them. And I feel that makes me more objective than ever.

Accepting and rejecting suggestions and making edits like a boss! Today’s the day!!

Huh. And here I thought I had nothing to write about. Go figure!

It’s 8am now and my weather app is reporting the snow has stopped and has been replaced by fog but the temp is holding steady at 34. It’s the perfect day for a hot cup of cocoa and editing poetry. Time to get on it!

Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-16 My Morning Commute 🌅

My daily morning drive is less of a commute than it is a taxi service. I know some people think that my son (16 years old since last May) should have his license by now. And perhaps be driving himself to school. That it would be less of a burden on me or time I could be doing other things. It’s about 1 hour round trip, twice each school day.

That adds up to ten hours a week. And yeah, I suppose I could be doing other things, but I rather enjoy the break. It’s an easy cruise and the traffic in Omaha is not that bad. Sometimes I even get the opportunity to chat with my son, just the two of us. Which is valuable. It’s tough for a mom to connect with her teenage son. Can I get a thumbs up on that one??

Most of the time, however, he’s using the drive to get into his own zone of relaxation. In the mornings I think he sometimes even falls back asleep. That’s ok. I like to have quiet time for reflection too.

The bonus plan these days is that the timing for sunrise coincides exactly with our morning drive. A few days this week it’s been almost completely dark when I leave. And when I arrive home the sun is up and the sky is bright. What I find, in between, is different each day.

Today the sunrise was the most intense I’ve witnessed in a while. Deep pink laced with orange as the light of the sun, not yet showing itself on the horizon lit up a sky full of clouds. So much definition and dimension that the pictures I captured look almost 3D. Amazing!

The view of the sky transformed with lighter shades of those same hues as I made my way to the school. From the entrance ramp for West Dodge Expressway, to the on-ramp of 680, to the big curve as the interstate turns into I-80 east, the it was a kaleidoscope of dazzling color changes.

During the long stretch on southbound 84th street is when the sun finally appeared. The horizon on that part of the drive isn’t really visible, but I could still see the color through the houses, businesses, and trees.

By the time I got to the school, the color had all but been replaced by the hues of blue and white that will likely persist all day.

I go different routes to get home all the time. Today was 84th to Q Street West, which I did on purpose cuz it’s Friday and I was in the mood to treat myself with a vanilla latte from Dunkin’. Large today as I was redeeming my free beverage reward earned from moneys spent on past lattes.

That sweet treat is now waiting for me on the kitchen counter. Gotta get my treadmill time in before I can truly enjoy that reward.

It’s fascinating how some days I’m so down on myself for not being productive enough and other days I feel great about what I’ve accomplished. Makes me think that every fleeting feeling is just a mirage in the desert sands of time.

Fleeting as the colors of the sunrise.

In 6 short hours I’ll make the return trip to pick my son up from school and I look forward to that.

Just as I also look forward to our Friday night, and the weekend. We don’t have
a ton of plans and that’s a nice contrast to the long drives we did last weekend.

Perhaps I’ll crack one of the books in my ever growing stack. Perhaps I’ll be inspired and do some creating. Perhaps I’ll finally get around to opening the mail and paying my bills. Or not. 😜

That’s just my MO. Always pushing the envelope on how long I can procrastinate the adulting.

On that note, my time is up.

Peace, love, and vanilla lattes,
~Miss SugarCookie

PS. Yes, I did take these pictures while I was driving. Yes, probably not the smartest thing to do. But just look!! Can you blame me??!

2020-10-15 Fat Stacks and Train Tracks

Back in my day, children wandered out of their bedroom on Saturday mornings while their parents hid under the covers, behind closed bedroom doors in attempts to get a few more minutes of precious sleep.

We shuffled in our PJs to the living room to sit in front of the TV to watch a thing called “Saturday Morning Cartoons.” Bugs Bunny, Wylie Coyote, and the occasional Justice League are the ones I remember the most. There were not very many episodes or they were all so similar that it felt like watching the same thing over and over. But what details can I recall? Not a lot. To be fair, it was all pretty mindless; not unlike watching YouTube videos of people playing Minecraft, which is where the children of America now wander to.

There is one bit that sticks out in my mind, all these years later. An episode of looney tunes where some character was sniffing out and following tracks. The type of tracks changed from one clip to the next. There were rabbit tracks, fox tracks, and then.. train tracks.

I can’t remember what happened when the character found the source of the train tracks. Did he have a fatal run-in with the train? That would be brutal. But no more brutal that good ole Wylie falling off a cliff over and over and over, sometimes involving an anvil falling too. No wonder we’re all so disturbed.

No wonder we’re all so fascinated by dystopian fiction and so easily desensitized when it comes to a life threatening virus. We should be terrified, but we’re not. Instead we risk our lives daily by getting takeout and sending our kids off to school and having meetups with friends.

In March everything started to shut down. And we held our breath listening to the news as reports of rising death tolls across the globe were reported daily. Each day brought some new horrific tale of hospitals out of equipment and rooms and beds and dead bodies piled into vehicles en route to places they could be taken care of.

It’s someone’s job to take care of the dead. That’s got to be a horrible life. Gruesome. One would have to be desensitized beyond repair in order to handle that.

By May I was crying daily listening to the things Alexa was relaying in my daily flash briefing. I stopped listening for a while.

People were mad scrambling for supplies and the country literally ran out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I will admit, while I didn’t try to stockpile these things, we did our fair share of gathering food enough for several months in isolation. We still have the majority of that fat-stacked in the high cabinets of our laundry room. None of it expires for over a year, so it will not go to waste.

I think modern programming has romanticized the end of the world. Stockpile your food, and guns and ammo, and medicine and you’ll be winning in the end. Never mind your neighbor, who can’t see so good anymore and sits most nice days, in his garage, dozing off.

Never mind your mother’s husband with Parkinson’s who was moved to a home this week because your mom can’t physically take care of him anymore.

Never mind that guy standing in the median with a “please help, god bless” sign as you wait for the light to turn green, nervous and avoiding eye contact.

Just never mind.

And what about this winding track of thought? It will all be ok as long as you don’t follow me into the dark tunnel ahead like that one hound.

By the way, I looked up that episode of bugs bunny. It’s 6 minutes 44 seconds long, called “Foxy by Proxy”, and not quite how I remembered it (big surprise). The dumb hound does get convinced by Bugs that he’s actually supposed to be catching a train. He does run into the tunnel and does not get injured when he “catches” the train, the rest of the pack of hounds falls off a cliff, and Bugs Bunny get’s his tail cut off in the end. Amazing that a person can find almost anything online. Saturday morning cartoons for all to sustain us through these end times.

I suppose it’s time for me to get to work (whatever that means now).

Peace and Love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-15 If I’m Being Honest…

I might as well be painfully honest. **Spoiler alert.. Rant city, dead ahead in 30 seconds.

I have not had one of these in a while, but no matter how good life is, it is bound to happen. And the longer I hold the angst inside, the worse it will be when it comes out. And I want to be true to myself and my feelings. And it IS just past midnight and I’m awake with these god-damned thoughts so I might as well. 

First. I’m so fucking sick of politics. Nobody is going to change anybody’s mind so shut up and vote already and move along. We can’t change what happened four years ago and we can’t change what’s going to happen a few weeks from now. It’s bad enough that there are NO GOOD OPTIONS. As an American citizen I’m sick of having no good options. And it does not matter what happens anyway because the ship is too big and heavy to make any course correction that will matter to the individual citizen. Good grief. 
But that’s not what is keeping me from sleeping. 

Secondly. I just found out a few days ago that my final residency for my MFA will be  conducted in virtual format. I was given the option to defer last time, and crossed my fingers and eyes and held my breath but it did me no good. I could stomp my foot and cry about it but that would do me no good either. But it might make me feel better to stomp my foot and cry about it, so consider this pathetic paragraph my version of that. 
I get to graduate on Zoom. Fuck that. Just flipping forget about it already. I’ll just take that piece of paper that I spent 40K of my savings account on and disappear back into the fog of insignificance from whence I came. 
But that’s not what is keeping me from sleeping. 

Thirdly. It’s just past midnight and I’m awake writing this. And that sucks. I want desperately to get a good night sleep. I went to bed at 9:15, exhausted, and with high hopes of getting 8 full hours. When I woke at like 11:15 I thought it might be like 3 or 4 or 5am, but nope, it was 11.  I took some pill to help me get back to sleep, and that might kick in any minute now so if I start slurring my words, that’s why. Also my son was still awake and I was frustrated to find his light on and computer on as well. I’m being honest. I just don’t want to deal with it. 

I … just … don’t. But, yes, you guessed it. That is also not what is keeping me awake right now. Well right now it’s the typing keeping me awake but what was it at 11:20, 11:25, 11:30, 11:35, 11:40, 11:45 that was tossing in my head and preventing me from falling back asleep naturally? Stuff with the lit mag. 

Kate was right when she said it’s all work and that people suck. That is what I appreciate about Kate. It is that she is honest. And direct. And I question my own motives with starting this little project and I wonder how much I have in me to continue if it is going to be this way. What is THIS WAY?? 
“This way”, is constantly dealing with situations which give rise to angst in my chest. I just want everything to be smooth. For people to be pleased with their experience with “us”, and frankly, to not feel like I’m lying when I say I’m pleased with my own experience. I’m not sure it’s possible. Start-ups are hard. People are complicated. You can’t please everyone. And what makes all of this more difficult is that I have to rely on another person who, for whatever reason, doesn’t do what they say they are going to do and / or if they do, I’m not aware of it. 

We’re nine months in and it can’t be a fluke as it has happened too many times. The (now) classic volunteering to handle something and then just not doing it. I mean, maybe his is doing those things, but has learned by now (because I have asked countless times that he CC me on communications) that he tells me he will CC me, but then doesn’t. Then I’m stuck. I can’t send the communication because I don’t know if he has already done it. And I can’t let it go because it’s probably something that needs to be done. 
By the way, most communication is ineffective if not done in a timely fashion, so sitting on something for weeks and weeks makes everyone look bad. 

Take yesterday for example. We meet as planned at around 5PM and of the many things discussed, were three different agenda items which require communication. 1) Follow Up with potential script writing editors. 2) Follow up with a person who’s fiction stories we will be publishing with the next issue. 3) Inquiry with a different individual to see if they are interested in being a guest editor/ judge for a future contest we are planning. (Not to mention the countless other ideas we brainstormed about on how to increase the number of quality submissions we get). 

Set aside #3, because that can wait. Perhaps even #1 can wait another week with no ill repercussions. But #2?! That should have gone out Monday as far as I am concerned. So here we are Wednesday (tip-toes into Thursday) and he say’s he’ll do it but didn’t. “I’ll go home right now and do all those and CC you on them.” Direct efffffing quote. I want to trust him. I finish out my evening. I go to bed early, so hopeful, and then wake at 11:20 and check my email and there’s nothing new in my in-box. Grrrrrr. 

So that’s it. That’s what is at the heart of the matter and eating my brains. 
Hopefully the meds I took will put me back to sleep and I’ll wake with a clear head and have regained my composure. I hate that these things affect me so. I’ve even considered just trying to let it go, and let him be the kind of leader he wants to be and help where I can but go off and do my own thing. But that’s not really an option at this point. I’m too personally invested in this. Ugh!! 

I’m just tired. I’m just needing sleep. I’m just….  being honest. 
It’s now almost 1am and I need to get back in bed. Thanks for the therapy session.

Big Yawn,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-14 New Addiction

I can feel it. I’m approaching being completely free of my benzodiazepine dependency. I haven’t taken a sliver of a pill since the end of August so it’s about effffing time! And my doctor was spot on when he said it would take up to six weeks to clear my system completely. Yeah… that.

Last weekend, when I was on my way to Colorado I commented to Jim that i was noticing more improvement. Some intermittent days without the withdrawal symptoms. The progression was so slow it comes close to imperceptible.

Now it’s Wednesday and I don’t think I had any symptoms yesterday. That’s a freaking incredible milestone! I’m looking forward to being done done. The day I can say I don’t remember when the last time was that my teeth hurt. That it’s just faded into the part of my past where the memory of it can no longer be pinpointed with accuracy.

At this point I’m not sure which affliction was slower to heal. The benzo recovery or tennis elbow recovery. That mess was also so terribly slow to recover from. Some days I think I still feel a ghost twinge. Now that I’m actually doing the math in my head, I’m pretty sure the tennis elbow took longer.

It’s also difficult to tell which was worse. In the thick of it, it’s just awful. The tennis elbow made me miserable for so long and to such a moderate degree. Something you can probably live with, like a toothache on one side of your mouth that causes you to chew on the other side. The Lorazepam withdrawal caused an actual tooth ache. Also moderate and tolerable but with no way to relieve.

To both I say “good riddance!!” Let’s hope that’s this is the last post I’ll ever do about that sort of crap. I’d much rather be writing about my apparent newest addiction. I mean, I use the word addiction with tongue in cheek, because what I’m really referring to is the fact that I’m spending a lot of time on Submittable, researching places to submit my writing and writing cover letters and putting together manuscripts somewhat tailored to what they are Looking for.

I started with a goal of doing one or two a week. Then my new target became daily. And now I’ve changed the measuring stick and want to have at least 50 open subs by the end of October. That’s not 50 total. It’s 50 new or in process with the publisher.

Feels a bit like gambling actually. You toss the dice and mostly the dealer just collects your money and says “please play again.” But sometimes a winning number comes up and you’re all like “Huzzah!!”, collect your 10 bucks and throw it right back down on the felt. Yeah, let’s go!!

I’m still green with this process but I feel like the insight I’m getting by doing all the research makes me a better equipped to be a success in my role as managing editor of The Good Life Review.

I’m getting exposed to a lot of magazines and publishers and their styles, approaches, and really have my finger on what’s hot right now. I already have a bunch of new ideas for promotion and adding a bit more personality to our public facing image. Yeah.. big ideas!

But back to my new personal affliction… with my aim to submit once a day, I found that one I started, mid morning, I really found it tough to close my laptop and move on to something else. I’d be all like “just one more” and “I wonder what submission windows will close tomorrow” and then “ohhhh, this one is a chapbook”.

Yesterday I was on submittable for 2.5 hours. I was only able to tear myself away because my stomach started grumbling and I realized it was past lunchtime. I was happy to sacrifice the time I had earmarked for cleaning toilets. The toilets can wait right??!! 😜

I’m up to 35 open subs, so I’ve only got 15 more to hit my goal by the end of October (unless I get some rejections, which is highly likely). I got one yesterday which was from a fairly recent sub.

That’s always appreciated.. punctual responses are delightful even if they are rejections. I have one open sub that’s been “in process” since February. I think the editors may have made a mistake. I’ve read the turnaround time with some of these publishers and am amazed at how long it takes. But I suppose some of those places get mountains of subs.

I’d send an inquiry note, but I’m kind of curious how long it will take.. like some sort of experiment. I love experiments.

I kind of love my new “addiction”. It’s much better (and a lot less destructive or personally harmful) than most other possibilities. And since I’m apparently immune to rejection now, I can submit away without any ill feelings. My bank account might get a little lighter, but I’ve certainly saved enough to ride this wave for a while.

Of course I’m keeping meticulous track of all the subs, moneys spent, and yes, moneys I’ve received. You kind of have to keep track because if something gets accepted, you have to withdraw it from all the other places you sent it. That will be a bit of a task indeed IF that happens.

Wowza.. and just like that I’m already at 10k steps for the day. Time to get rolling with the rest of my day.

Cheers to Good Health,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-13 Pepperoni Pizza = Strange Dreams 🍕➡️😱

It’s been previously verified that if I eat pepperoni pizza too close to bed time, strange dreams will disturb my sleep.

Last night was no exception. Though I would hardly call the dreams strange or disturbing, it was certainly odd for so many men from my past to pay me a visit in the same night.

Saying “so many” makes it sound like a lot. And that’s just not the case. But when you’ve only “dated” a few people, more than half feels like a lot.

I mean, I married my first boyfriend when I was 19 and we were married for 17 years so that’s a healthy chunk of my life and also when most people are meeting lots of potential partners and sowing their wild oats.

Fast forward to about 6 months after my divorce was final and I got on Match. I went on a few dates with a few guys but had no idea who I was and what I was looking for. I ended up seeing this one guy for a hot minute (six months). It was my first friends with benefits relationship. But I thought we had a potential future together so it broke my heart when he found someone else. (Thanks for all the good times and poetry Vis 😋).

Then there was Matt. My “big love.” We were crazy for each other. Until the sun came out, and burned off all that god-dammed dewy-eyed newness (paraphrasing the only viable poem that came out of those 5 years). Yeah. 5 years. Good grief. 🙄

Then there was JTA, another good friend who I knew from the first time he told me we weren’t right for each other that there would never be an “us.” He’s one of those that visited me last night. Just before I woke up. Probably talking about moving away and how this town is not the right place for him. If you think I’m a broken record, talk to that guy for 10 years and realize that it could be much worse.

Still, I’ve got a special place in my heart for him and all the time we spent together. I would not say he helped me through my rough patch so much as he was just reliably there. More reliable than most people in my life at the time. So I’m grateful. 🥰

After that I got back in the dating game and went out in my fair share of first dates. Even a few second dates. I dabbled in a few one-time stands and even started seeing a guy pretty regularly, for about 5 months. Again I thought we had potential.. until I started to lose interest. The day I told him I wanted to call it quits was the day I found out “we” were also never really dating. WTF people??!!

Sprinkled in all that were a few good times with my friend HL. Again, according to my well established MO, I did have thoughts there could be something more there. The main limiting factor was the distance between us. He doesn’t live in Omaha so we only saw each other on trips elsewhere. He was another one of the dudes to show up in my pizza induced dreams last night.

Then I met Jim of course and that was that. The Universe help me, I hope that’s it. I really think it is. And he didn’t need to show up in my dreams last night cuz he was sleeping right beside me. 💕

Removing the “one and done” instances, that adds up to about 6 dudes I’ve had feelings for. I guess two out of 6 is not a lot after all. I stand corrected.

I suppose the most disturbing part of the dreams I had was the fact that Jim was absent. And I had this uneasy guilty feeling about hanging out with these other dudes, even though I have no recollection of the actual going’s-on.

Whelp.. I didn’t intend to rehash my entire (un) romantic history, but there you go.

It’s almost mid-month and I have once again not done all the things I said I was going to do in October.

What I did do (that was not a part of my plan) was spend time putting together a poetry manuscript for sending out to potential publishers. I ran across a familiar name in Submittable and the deadline is October 18. And I’d rather be working on my writing than almost anything else. So that happened.

A friend of mine agreed to give it a good once over for editing and I was able to send it to her last night.

Today my set list includes GLR catch up and other various house chores. Oh, and I promised to help my darling daughter with her photography homework. Which translates loosely to needing a shower so I can be photo ready.

What’s not in the cards for today is eating more pizza. Nope. Not because of the crazy dreams, mind you. But because it’s Taco Tuesday. 🌮🌮🌮

Peace and Love Ya’ll,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-12 Deno’s Mountain Bistro Steak-burger 4.0 🍔

What’s the criteria for a 4.5 on a 5 point scale?

A well seasoned patty cooked to perfection (which translates to cooked as requested by the person ordering it).

A toasted bun is a must.

Don’t skimp on the cheese. (Or sauce If that’s part of the deal.)

Other toppings as desired, also prepared according to advertised specifications. And also not so much that it overpowers the taste of the burger.

Everything is hot and fresh, looks great and tastes juicy and delicious.

That’s it. That’s a solid 4.5 cheeseburger. That’s what Deno’s mountain bistro, in Winter Park Colorado, has to offer (almost).

They did all the aforementioned things great! It was also impressive as a to-go order as packaging everything for take-away can be tricky. The bun can get soggy and toppings intended to be crisp like lettuce, tomato, and pickle can go limp. Nobody likes limp lettuce yo. but they left the top bun on the side inside the container which worked well.

Notice however that I gave the burger a 4.0 and not 4.5. It was downgraded slightly due to the fact that I ordered it medium and it came out pink all the way through, teetering on red in the middle. I also feel like they did skimp on the cheese (and sauce) a bit. The sauce was delish and it’s a good thing Jim got his on the side cuz I ended up using that as a dipper.

I’m really on the fence about fries being a part of the total equation, but then I realize while it’s tough to keep a burger from losing something in transport, it’s truly impossible with fries in a closed container. They go soft and soggy in their own heat. I think Deno’s fries might have been good, but after spending time inside the package, they were not good.

Perhaps they absorbed the moisture from the steaming burger. Taking one for the team, as it were. If that’s the case. Good job fries!

So that answers one of the questions I posed yesterday but did not have time to elaborate on during our 9 hour drive home.

What were the other questions?…

Yes, we did the hot tub working but it refused to get any hotter than 99 so it was kind of a bummer. Especially since it was so chilly out. Still, we must have soaked and chatted for like an hour. As we sat there, the sky cleared a bit and we could see the stars.

Living inside the city, you forget just how many stars are out there. It was really neat.

And yes… I did down some more margs through that hot tub session. But not sure what time I went to bed. Fitbit says I fell asleep at 10:30 MST, which is actually 11:30 CST, so super late based on current SugarCookie standards. 😜

So I gave Deno’s a 4 out of 5 and described how to hit 4.5. Which invites the question.. what is the criteria for a 5.0?

5 is perfection.
Perfection is elusive.
And reserved for like the best burger you had in your life.

The hunt continues….
~Miss SugarCookie

Featured Image photo was lifted off yelp. Fairly certain it was taken by the business owner.

2020-10-11 Winter Park Getaway Day 2: Aclimation and Viewpoint

I woke before the sun again today. 5AM I think. I’m afflicted with the inability to sleep.. in. I mean, I’ve been able to, in the early days of my life and in more recent years if I’ve taken something to help me sleep. But not now. And certainly not here, in a bed that is far away from my own. It’s ok though. It gives me quiet time, with my own thoughts and time to write and wonder about things.

The difference between waking up early yesterday and today is that today I don’t have a headache to contend with. It means my body is acclimating to the altitude here. I mean, I certainly indulged in the same evening activities as the night before (and perhaps more so) and I feel great!

Our air-b-and-b is on the side of a steep hill. To make the most of the space the town has to offer, buildings are constructed more vertically. This one is 3 stories. A basement that walks out the back of the condo to a covered patio where the hot tub is. A main floor that has a garage at street level in the front and living and dining areas with lots of windows in the back that have a great view of the surrounding foothills. Are they foothills here or mountains? I am not sure.

The master bedroom and bath are up another flight of stairs on the second story. With this setup, a person starts to pay attention to where they leave something and when they might need it next. Going up those two flights of stairs reminds me I’m in Colorado. Which is to say, I can’t make it all with one go. I’ve got to stop in the middle to catch my breath. How sad is that?

It’s probably partially due to my age and partially due to the fact that I’m just not acclimated to the altitude here. We went on another hike yesterday and opted to go on one tagged as “easy.” Easy for a flatlander translates to moderate. Moderate translates to difficult. Difficult translates to, “you gonna die if you go on this hike yo.” So one has to do the conversion before making a decision.

The hike we chose yesterday was called “Viewpoint.” It was about a 40 minute drive north from Winter Park to the trailhead. The opposite direction of the hike we went the day before. We drove the now somewhat familiar road of highway 40 to highway 34 which leads through Rocky Mountain National Park to Estes Park. The turnout for the road that leads to the trailhead was just shy of the entrance to RMNP. Which, in case you did not know, you have to have a reservation to visit these days. Crazy times!

Highway 34 on this side of the park hugs Grand Lake which I had not been to before. It’s massive (compared to lakes I’m used to). The hike was on a trail that was well established but, like the one the day before, there was not another human in sight. It was all walking and no climbing and we wound our way gently through a young grove of pine trees that had sprung up to replace what appeared to be a burned out section of forest.

This is kind of what I was talking about yesterday. This is evidence that nature just takes care of itself. There is no way humans planted the hundreds of adolescent pine trees we walked through. It’s just a part of the cycle of forest life. The aspens were pretty sparse on the trail and most were about done for the season, but every once and awhile there were pops of yellow and gold that looked incredible against a backdrop of green and brown.

The undergrowth in the area were fine shades of yellow and gold and red as well. We were just in awe of the colors. And the top of the trail was like a little mini-peak with a 360 view of the area. RMNP to the north/northeast and the valley of Grand Lake/Grand County to the west and south, with mountains rising up in every direction.

There were a few fallen logs situated just so at the top of the trail which made a lovely spot for sitting and looking out (and maybe having a puff or two of Colorado’s finest, if you are into that sort of thing). We spied on a red tail hawk in a nearby tree (whose presence was made known to us because of the screech he issued forth). We watched him until he took flight and soared away in quite a majestic fashion.

The hike back down was lovely too. The sun was kind of getting low in the sky and the way it hit the trees and the adjacent hillside caused the colors to pop. The shadows cast by the trees across the path felt like we were getting to witness something special. A rare treat.

Just about the time we were back at the trailhead and getting in our car, we were reminded we had not eaten since breakfast. I’d already professed that it would be a good day for cheeseburgers. The only renaming question was where.

Though truth be told.. I’d already researched where and my mind was made up. I had our call in order for Randy’s Irish Pub ready to go as soon as we were closer to home base. But then my call could not be completed as the receiver was busy.

I called a second time and then a third from Jim’s phone. No dice. We decided to just get back to the condo and decide from there what to do. Passing by Randy’s, the parking lot was empty. Go figure.

Would I be denied a cheeseburger on vacation? Would we get that hot tub working? Would round 2 with the perfect margaritas land me in bed again by 9pm?

Answers to all this and more in part two of day two… coming to a SugarCookie blog near you soon (gotta get rolling on the road).

Until then, peace and love,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-10-10 Winter Park Getaway Day 1: It Can Be Whatever You Want

I’m waking up on my second day here in Winter Park Colorado— before the sun and with a fairly healthy headache. It might be a hangover, you know, because at this altitude it only takes a few cocktails to affect a person. Despite reminding each other numerous times last night, we still did not alter our intake of perfect margaritas. But wait, there’s a lot more to the story of our day than just that. Rewind.

After a lovely breakfast yesterday I took my sweet time showering and getting ready for a day out exploring while Jim did research on good hiking trails nearby. That was our first objective of the day, to get the body moving and get lost a little bit in the wilderness. He picked a great little spot that was at a turn-off on mile marker 241 on highway 40, about 10 miles back the way we came in.

It was perfect for several reasons. First, there was a larger turn-off on mile marker 240, just one mile before the one we wanted which had a ton of cars. The perfect carrot for all the wanna-be hikers in the area. So I think most people stopped there. But we went the extra mile to the other turn-off that only had two other cars. The description of the hike in the book that Jim found on the ottoman in the living room of our air-b-n-b (Hiking Grand County Colorado), describes the hike as moderate. The name of it is “Current Creek Loop.”

There’s a description in the book too, on which way to go and where on the trail, but good luck with that. We followed the creek up the hill, on the right side as instructed but with no markings, and no discernible trail, completely lost it near the first junction where we were to “take a right at the ’t’.” We were not sure we were at a T but went right anyhow. It sort of felt like just traipsing off into the wilderness with no clue where to go. But that was OK. We were not really there to follow directions, we just wanted to get the heart pumping and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Lemme tell you, after less than 24 hours, the lung of the Nebraska traveler is no where near ready for the lack of oxygen that hiking causes. That was OK too, though, as we were in no hurry to get anywhere. I mean, the hike promised an aqueduct and a pond at various points, but we had all day and nowhere else to be. That’s the best part of being out here. Freedom.

So we kept going right up the side of the mountain— due north, past a boulder field and through the trees (where the supposed pond would be), but all we found was more slope, boulders, and trees. Each time we went further up, it looked as though we were on the right track but then we would get to the top to find more of the same. We climbed pretty high and I daresay we turned the moderate hike into a more difficult one, but we’re pretty inexperienced so we don’t even know the difference. At a few points it was pretty steep, but for the most part, not really that treacherous.

Finally we declared a final time, “get to the top of this ridge and then that’s it. If there’s no pond, it will be time to turn back.” Surprise, surprise, there was no pond, but the view was pretty badass. And somehow it felt as though we were in the right spot because the top of that ridge line had a trail that looked as though it had been blazed by human beings. We had traveled almost due north to get to that spot so I was sure all we had to do was go due south to get back. But Jim had other ideas. He wanted to walk the ridgline for a bit.

We did that for a while, until I started getting antsy about having gone too far in the “wrong” direction. At that point we began gradually to descent on a path of least resistance. The way we descended was completely different and there were large clearings with only grasses. That looked like a nice flat area to walk across, but the ground was mush. My guess is that perhaps that was the pond at one point and it had grown over with grass since that book was printed. In any case, there was no crossing that so we went around it.

Down and down, meeting up again with the stream and following that back to the trailhead. I’m not sure how long we were out there, but we never saw another person the entire time, which was glorious. The same two other cars were there at the turnout when we arrived back. I took a ton of snaps and coaxed Jim into taking a few couples selfies along the way. It was a good hike.

It was also good to get back in the car and head back toward Winter Park. By then, I had worked up quite an appetite. Neither of us were in the mood to cook so we hunted for takeout instead. I wanted a cheeseburger and Jim wanted tacos. There’s lots of options here which is nice. The place we got take out from was in Fraser and it was called “Azteca” (you can guess who got their way on that one). Doesn’t matter, food cooked by someone else is always delicious.

It was actually the perfect compliment to the margaritas we were planning to have. That has kind of been our thing lately. The margs. We’ve perfected our recipe and brought all the necessary supplies with us— glasses, marg salt, limes, a jigger, simply lime, and of course, the tequila (Patron Silver).

So we nommed on our Mexican food and sipped our drinks and chatted about what else might be in store for our day. With the goal being R and R, we had no plans to leave anywhere else that afternoon/evening. And the less we were exposed to other people and potential virus, the better. Our options were hot tub or Netflix. I brought a deck of cards hoping to entice Jim into playing something with me. I miss playing cards, but I don’t know too many two person games.

We ended up watching one show, which was terrible. And so sipped some more. Then we tried warming the hot tub up, but were unsuccessful, so we sipped some more. I showed Jim a game of solitaire I played when I was a kid and he said it looked like I was making the rules up as I went along. Then we sipped some more until we sauntered up to the bedroom to crash hard.

Which brings me back to the beginning and the lovely hangover I’ve tried very hard to type my way out of this morning. I did pause briefly to take a picture of the sunrise. I imagine with all the fires in the area, the smoke has made for some neat sunrises. Sometimes I think that the main problem with fires isn’t the fires themselves, but the human beings that feel inclined to stop them. Yes, lives are at stake, so they have to try, but forest fires are natures way of cleansing the land. Right? I dunno, perhaps I just heard that somewhere and want to use that to profess that we should just leave it alone and let nature takes its course.

I digress.

Not sure what today has in store for us. We’re for sure going to fiddle with the hot tub some more to see if we can get that working. Soaking in 99 degree water sounds very relaxing. Maybe we’ll go for another hike. Maybe I’ll try reading one of the many books I brought with me. Maybe we’ll just lay around all day doing nothing but chat. For sure I’ll insist on finding a place that serves cheeseburgers.

It’s nice— the fact that it can be whatever we want. We just need to decide what that is.

Cheers to All That (and a bag of chips),
~Miss SugarCookie