Feb 19, 2018

Kindness To Strangers

2/19/2018 — cori
Since moving to Colorado we found a small little church that we tried a few times. I love how they don't just believe in ideals and concepts - they do them. They live out the social gospel by literally feeding the poor, clothing the naked, finding homes for the homeless, sponsoring DACA kids, and standing up for social justice issues alongside other organizations. 

One of the ladies invited me to join her at the local Catholic Charities Homeless Shelter to cook dinner one night. Someone who committed had backed out and she thought she'd ask me last minute even though we had just recently met. Turns out, I was free and I was excited to help. I get tired of only giving money to problems. I like to get in there and 'get dirty', meet the people, and do the work. 

Turns out that at this shelter different organizations from all around the city sign up to cook meals one night a month. We found out that our church does the 3rd Thursday of every month. It takes 4-5 people to cook a meal. The shelter provides all the food through donations. They also give us the meal plan. It's just up to us to cook it and serve it. Talk about putting a face to the homeless. Chloe and I went that first month and we loved every minute of it. I love places that allow youth to actually do the work and help. Chloe felt that her time and energies really mattered and realized that she had something to give.

My friend called again and said that more people backed out this month and did I know of anyone else who could help. It just so happened that Chuck and Bennett were free that night. I said we'd make it a family affair. Chuck nor Bennett have ever helped at a homeless shelter before. I think it really impacted them. Bennett showed his usual colors by picking the one apron with Wendy on it.

I was a little nervous about what job Susan would give him to do. But she could read Bennett like a book and knew exactly the tasks for him. He was to butter all the bread. Now there's a job Bennett can handle. Here is a small moment of brother and sister working together and not tickling one another, making weird faces at each other or saying smart-alecky things to each other. They're just concentrating on one task - helping us all pull off a meal for people who need it.

Chuck is very good in the kitchen. He was in charge of the green beans, rice, and making gravy. I made the main dish (sautéed onions and mushrooms with ground beef topped with Chuck's gravy). Chloe made the fruit salad. Bennett worked hard on his bread and butter. And Susan oversaw this motley crew.

It was such a joy to serve these people dinner. They were all so kind and thankful. They wanted us to look them in the eye, ask how their day was, make small talk with them - just treat them human and with respect despite their current circumstances in life. When we did, people opened up. There were lots of smiles, lots of reciprocation asking how we were, and plenty of banter. The people were truly grateful, gracious and complimentary. They didn't have to be. But it sure made all the work and time that much more enjoyable.

On the way home all we could talk about were the kids we saw at the shelter and how it broke our hearts. Chloe and I also recalled seeing some of the same people we saw last time. Now we can't wait to make this a regular part of our month. We're only afraid of "the other" when we don't know them; when we can't put a face or a story to them. I'm so thankful to be a part of something that helps "the other" and not just ourselves. Isn't that what life is really about?

I recently saw a sticker that said: Human kind....be both. I like that.

Feb 10, 2018

The Rebuke

2/10/2018 — cori

A random angry stranger followed me home and told me off yesterday. I have never experienced this situation before in my life. Here's what happened:

I picked up the kids from school and went immediately to my chiropractor appointment. Of course, because I was in a hurry, the chiropractor was running behind schedule. I was supposed to be home to receive a furniture delivery. I was running 20 minutes late. Thankfully, the kind furniture delivery people were patient and agreed to wait for me when they called to find out where I was. 

Remember, I live in Fort Collins - the land of slow Subaru drivers. It seems everyone here is slow and a greater than normal percentage of the population drives a Subaru. And my experience and data collection have yielded the conclusion that all Subaru drivers are slow. I'm sure there's a mathematical formula or logic statement buried in that sentence  somewhere. This is just a layman's observation.

Anyways, I digress. It's also no secret that I'm a wee bit of a competitive driver. I own it. I know it. My kids know it - they were the ones to bestow that title upon me. Let me clarify that competitive doesn't mean "bad", it means "I like to be the first in line and not behind the slow people" or "I look for the most efficient lane or route" type of competitive. If that sometimes means I need to break the speed limit to achieve it, so be it. However, I would never endanger my life, my passengers' lives, or another driver to achieve my coveted place in the front of the pack.  I refuse to sacrifice safety in my pursuits of "greater efficient driving methods." 

All that background information is necessary to understand what happens next. Our new house is located farther out in the country. The driving lanes continue to merge from 3 to 2 down to 1 the farther out of Fort Collins you drive. There is one stop light on the way to our house that narrows from 2 lanes to 1 lane immediately after the stoplight. If you're stopped at the stoplight, there is a little bit of lane for you to continue driving in, but not much.  You pretty much need to merge immediately. Some people don't notice the merge sign and get stuck trying to merge into the flow of traffic. Other's, like myself, choose to drive in the lane that is about to merge in order to avoid the mile long back up of (slow) cars in the other lane that continues straight. 

Yesterday, as I was focused on getting home so as not to keep the furniture delivery men waiting, I knew it would be a "drive in the merge lane" kind of day. However, the lady I was supposed to be merging in front of would have none of it. Apparently, she doesn't believe in merge signs. She believes she is right and must evangelize the rest of us as to her rightness. Unfortunately, at this same merge spot yesterday, a huge semi-truck was parked just to the side of the merge lane/shoulder with it's hazard lights on. So I had no room for error, I had to get into the continuing lane of traffic quickly. I sped up a little. So did the lady behind me. For whatever reason, she did not want me to merge. So much so in fact, that she was forcing my car almost into the parked semi. Then she was forcing my car into the shoulder, which quickly was disappearing into a ditch. I forcefully merged as not to end up in a ditch, thanks to her little lesson.

Along with her advancing speed, she was waving her middle finger vehemently at me. My heart was beating fast. I was trying to avoid an accident, get my kids home safely, avoid the crazy maniac driver behind me, and make it home for the delivery. 

I finally make it to the turn off of the main road. The crazy lady follows me in the direction of my neighborhood. I figured there might be a slight chance she lives in this neighborhood as well, so I wasn't too worried yet. I was praying she wasn't one of my new neighbors. Just to be safe, I took a turn earlier than my street. She took the same turn. I come to a round-a-bout. Bennett wanted me to go around it like 5 times. But at this point, I knew she was indeed following me and was trying to formulate a plan.

I asked Chloe, who was in the back seat, to turn around and get her license plate number. Why? I don't know. It just seemed like the thing to do; a way to find or track this person down if need be or I needed to give this information to police.  I then decide to take some random side streets and meander my way to the model homes that are all clustered together. If this lady did something to me, I wanted witnesses and I surely didn't want her knowing where my house was. 

I pull to a stop in front of the model home. Guess who pulls up right beside me? I roll down my window and ask, "Do you need something?" I have my phone in my hand ready to dial 911. This is road rage if I've ever seen it. The lady decides she needs to be the one to point out my driving flaws. She says, "You were very rude back there. I was trying to leave a safe distance of space behind the car in front of me and then you had to zoom in there and cut me off."

I said, "I'm sorry I offended you."

She would have none of it. She said, "Look at what kind of example you are setting for your children....blah, blah, blah....".  I heard nothing more because I rolled my window up. She was pure angry. Nothing I was going to say was going to convince her, change her mind or enlighten her. She had her mind made up about me. She didn't want to listen to me. She had already judged me and my intentions and wanted to justify her behavior and rightness to me. 

By the way, the kids loved the window rolling up trick while she was still talking. They were like, "Oooooh Mom! That was the ultimate roast!" And I was like, "I know, she really roasted me." And they were like, "No Mom. You just roasted her but shutting her down while she was still talking." I said, "I didn't mean to roast her. I just didn't want to hear her tirade. I didn't have to sit there and take it." Once she realized she no longer had an audience. She drove off in a huff. I bet she feels better now that she told off one driver.

After making sure she was no where around, I drive down the street to our house. The delivery guys said they drove around the block a few times waiting for me.  I almost drove straight to the police station with her following me, except for these sweet guys who I knew were waiting on me. I couldn't abandon them or be inconsiderate about their time. 

This took me a long time to calm down from. I was quite shaken up. Even if I was completely in the wrong and did in fact cut her off, you still don't follow someone home to berate them about their dumb driving. You just chalk it up to another dumb driver and let it go. I've done that myself to people who have cut me off, run me off the road or just been jerks while driving too many times to count. 

I had to realize she was probably just a good person who was having a bad day. I did not want to judge her character but it was very hard not to. I questioned the kids and tried to see it from their point of view. I asked them if I had cut her off. They were like, "No, you were just merging." Then I realized, I hate it when people think bad of me. Yet there was nothing I could do to convince this lady I wasn't a bad person. She hated my guts and she didn't even know me. She had judged me and judged me wrongly. How often have I done that to people? 

I eventually let it go and hold no ill will towards her. But it did give us another good story and a new way to shut someone down - just roll the window up.

Feb 7, 2018

That Time I Saved Ninja's Life

2/07/2018 — cori

Believe it or not, this little dog can be quite a trouble-maker at times. Usually, she is the perfect dog. We honestly can't complain. But when she pulls a stunt, it's typically a big one. She likes her freedom. She's been known to roam the neighborhood, nose to the ground, lost in the plethora of smells. However, she always finds her way home. 

We lost her a few times when we lived in Farmington. It usually happened whenever I let her out and forgot about her. Since we didn't have a fence, she would just start exploring. Neighbors would bring her home or we would go out back and call her and she'd come sprinting back up the hill. We only ever really "lost" her once. A quick drive around the neighborhood in a frenzied panic solved that nerve-wracking scare. We came home with ninja securely in the back seat clueless as to her crime.

I have to give her a lot of credit. The move has been hard for her. She misses her big back yard with all the squirrels and bunnies it contained that she could chase at will. For the past 6 months she was stifled by the constraints of apartment living. Whenever she had to go potty, we had to take her out on a leash. She could no longer go sit on her back patio and gaze longingly at the woods, keeping an eye out for her nemesis, the squirrel or just lay there, basking in the sun on a warm day. We kinda upset her applecart. 

So now that we're in the new house she feels a bit entitled to some freedom. Who could blame her? You can tell she's happy again. She's back to her old self. Unfortunately though, we have no grass or fence in our backyard...yet. We do have a lovely large open green space behind our house. However, she has to cross the dirty, muddy backyard to get there for her hygiene needs every single time.

This makes neither her, nor any of us who have to clean her feet each time, happy. So oftentimes, we let her out back and sort of forget about her until she barks at us from the deck. It was this scenario that led to me loosing her for the first time at the new house.

I let her out, got busy doing things around the house and then realized it was past time to go pick Chloe up from school. I rushed out of the house. As I was backing out of the driveway, I see a black dog in my rearview mirror. I think to myself, "Hmmm, that dog looks an awful lot like Ninja." This wasn't the first time I saw a dog at that construction site, believe it or not. Some workers bring their dogs with them. But then it dawned on me, "oh no! I never let Ninja back in. That's Ninja!" 

I quickly put the car in park, ran out into the driveway and started calling Ninja from across the street. She was in no particular hurry to reach me. She was enjoying her exploration adventure. But I had no time for her to dilly dally. I'm already late picking up Chloe. I express my frustration with myself and her with the ever encouraging emphatic yelling of, "NINJA, GET OVER HERE NOW!" She obviously is now aware that I mean business and her joyride is over. She didn't look too happy to see me. 

So she starts sauntering across the street. Two cars are parked in front of my house blocking my view down the street. Unbeknownst to me there is a minivan backing up down the street on a collision course with Ninja right in front of my house. It all happened in slow motion. Once the minivan comes into view I see Ninja 6 feet from its wheels. I run out into the street between the car and Ninja waving my arms wildly and yelling, "STOP! STOP!"  Ninja unknowingly continues her saunter reaching our driveway in the nick of time. The lady behind the wheel stops and looks at me warily. She starts to roll down her window being as I'm still in the middle of the street and blocking her from her continued reverse position. I say, "Sorry, there was a dog in the middle of the street." And she looks at me blankly. I then realize she doesn't speak English. I say, "perro" as if that one word will explain everything. She just rolls her window back up and continues her backward quest.

I quickly analyze the situation with Ninja. Her feet are caked in mud from all her adventuring around construction sites for the past 30 minutes. I have no time to clean her feet (it takes about 15 minutes). I instruct her to sit in the middle of the garage while I lower the garage door. She looks forlorn. She knows her adventuring has come to an end and this is her punishment - being stuck in the garage with mud on her feet til I get back. What a way to end a fun day.

Is This The Model Home?

2/07/2018 — cori

Funny but true story. Some random people walked into our new house that we were already living in thinking it was a model home. Here's what happened:

Our house was the first on our street to be finished. There is still alot of construction all around us. It's not uncommon for the sales people to send customers to finished spec houses to go check them out.

Chuck has an awesome office set up in our finished basement. He can't really hear what's happening upstairs on the main level. On this particular day, I was away from the house. Chuck was on a conference call with work. But he thought he heard noise upstairs. So he put his call on hold and ran upstairs to check it out because he was sure I wasn't at home.

Turns out two people were standing in our entry way, shoes off staring to walk down the hallway towards the living room. Chuck is still at the top of the stairs and is a little befuddled by their presence. They ask, "Is this the model home?" He says, "No...this is a private residence."

The potential new home buyers had two different reactions. The wife was mortified and immediately started putting her shoes back on and backing out the door. The husband continued walking down the hall towards our living room asking, "So is that a bay window?"

Chuck was like, "I'd love to show you around, but I work from home and right now I'm in the middle of a meeting, so I need to ask you to leave." Awkward!

Lesson learned: lock the front door.

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