Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Weekend Rundown

Well... there was yelling at my house on Thanksgiving. Moi. My head spinned around a few times and then popped right off. This is a certain unnamed daughter's room. I don't go in there very often and was under the assumption that since we were having a bunch of people over that she would clean it. Nope.
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We all survived.


I didn't take many pictures because I was pretty busy and not thinking about it. I got some surprises when I looked through them later. I'm not the only one around here that likes to take pictures of the dogs.

We had 16 for Thanksgiving... twice. We ate early because two of the kids had to work (one of ours and one from a family that came) and then ended up pulling everything back out later in the evening to eat again.



We played Mexican Train...



Someone left their sunglasses behind.




Benny is holding them for a ransom...




The day after we spent with friends in the country. I fed Llamas.




Taffy with Christmas bow.



Taffy with her Christmas bow messed up.
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I thought I was going to be able to get all the Christmas decorating done by last night. No. I've got a good start though. My mother-in-law got in last night with Browny and Mr. Macchiato's cousin while my guys were still on their way home from the Bronco game. The weather was pretty nasty and we got a bit of snow.
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Benny's reaction to Browny shocked me. He tried to attack him right there in the doorway. It took a good two hours before we could let Benny loose around him. I thought we were going to be rushing dogs to the vet for sure. I don't know if it is because Taffy is back and Benny didn't want Browny here or what. It was a total stressfest!
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Mr. Macchiato's cousin will be here until tomorrow afternoon so we'll be doing some touristy stuff today.
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Happy Monday!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Praise God from whom all blessing flow!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Day Before Thanksgiving

The heat is on! This is a quick post because I need to run to the store for the last minute items. Frappy's boyfriend, Cuppa Joe, is joining us for Thanksgiving and they will be arriving this afternoon (their college is north of Denver). My house is currently a mess!


2008
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Lil' Tip #1
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Take a picture of the food before part of it has been eaten.


2006
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Lil' Tip #2
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Make sure the pan is big enough for your turkey!
This did not come out well...





Lil' Tip #3
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If the marshmellows on top of your sweet potatoes catch on fire...
scrape them off, throw them out, and try again with new ones.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bag of Tricks: Holiday Crisis Cleaning 101

I grew up in a house that was always what I call Company Clean. There was some stress associated with living that way so I adopted the motto Clean Enough to be Healthy but Dirty Enough to be Happy. What that really means is I lowered the standard. That standard was further lowered when my back was broken in a jet ski accident in 1993. Around here we definitely have a difference between the way the house looks day to day and what it looks like when company is coming.

Over the years I've read many magazine articles, websites, and books on time management, organizing and cleaning. I've pulled many ideas from many sources to find what works for me. I've also helped a lot of friends tackle their houses. Ask my family. Whenever I did that our house went to pot and I didn't fix dinner. What I lack is a certain level of discipline to keep those practices I know and believe in going.

I had big plans... I was going to clean the carpet, touch up the paint in different rooms, make curtains for the laundry room and wash all the windows and blinds. Those things are NOT going to happen.

Bag-O-Tricks (in no particular order):

1. Make yourself look presentable. There's nothing worse than having to run your kid to the ER in mismatched clothes with greasy hair.

2. Drink something that gives you energy! If you need to, run to the corner gas station and get an energy drink. 5 Hour Energy shots are the best. Eat something too! You don't want to get the jitters or feel nauseous.

3. Shut down all the computers in your house.

4. Turn on some old music that you know well and that gets you moving. My mother often listened to Neil Diamond so I have some Pavlov response to it that makes me want to grab a toilet brush, sniff Pine-Sol and get busy. I also like Abba, Simon and Garfunkel and Jim Croce when I am in a cleaning frenzy. When I'm done writing this post I will be the Dancing Queen.

5. Run through the house and get all the laundry, sort it and get it started. Determine which loads are most important (towels, sheets, clothes, etc.). If you haven't done laundry in ages and have 27.8 loads, bag them by load in tall trash bags separating out the loads that must be done because you need what is in them. Take all the other bags and toss them in your attic, your crawl space or your storage area. You can pull them out when your company leaves and finish the job. It is very important you bag them by load so you can find things later.

6. Go through each room in the house and put everything where it goes. It helps to have laundry baskets or bags to be taken to their proper room so you aren't running back and forth through the house...unless you want to practice what I call Aerobic House Cleaning. We happen to have four levels so the running up and downstairs gets old quick. If you don't have time to put everything away find somewhere to shove those baskets... closet, under a bed, etc. Confession: I have laundry baskets in my storage area that contain homeschool papers. I stopped homeschooling in 2007.

7. Clean every bathroom. No, the Master bathroom is not safe. Whenever you have a bunch of people in your house someone at some time will need to use the bathroom. They will assure you they do not care what the bathroom or your bedroom looks like. If you don't want your friends or family members to meet the mold that personally hands you your soap in the shower each morning or see all the stuff you wildly threw into your room from the doorway... clean it up. Very important note: Do not leave bleach soaking in the toilet. There is a chemical reaction that takes place when mixed with urine. It forms a gas that can cause your husband to fling himself out of the bathroom sans pants with accusations that you've tried to kill him. He may remember it for all time and refuse to carry life insurance above a certain level.

8. If you don't have time to dust and vacuum everything thoroughly, dust all the flat surfaces, clean the mirrors, dim the lights and burn candles... everywhere. Unless you've got little kids coming. They may have learned how to put a candle out by an older kid by using their fingers and be alone in the bathroom with a candle burning and decide they want to try it but wrap their fingers in toilet paper first... which will catch on fire... which they will throw in the trash... Don't ask how I know this.

Really, the truth is, most people don't care what your house looks like. In fact, if your house is too clean and organized they may not want you to ever come to their house. Holidays and special occasions are, or should be, about relationships. Do what you can to make people feel comfortable (which means some of y'all might want to mess a few things up) and focus on what really matters, your family and friends.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Tips

The Holiday Season is officially here! On this fine Monday morning I'd like to start a little T & A series, as in tips and advice. Through the unholy matrimony of my gift of hospitality and my curse of procrastination I have acquired a unique set of skills that I'd like to share with y'all as you head into your Thanksgiving preparations.

First of all, I'd like to explain that Thanksgiving is my husband's favorite holiday. And why not? With the oh so holy coupling of food and football, he also doesn't have to buy me, or anyone else, a present. Perfect! Years ago he decreed that all Thanksgivings must be spent at our home, giving him ultimate control of the remote and a belly full of food made by me. That old saying about the way to a man's heart is through his stomach is true. There's no story here of my husband being overcome by my beauty and grace upon first sight of me. No, we both attended a picnic at a park with a group and he loved my potato salad. After one bite he decided he was going to ask me on a date. All that time spent with Grandma in her kitchen paid off. I was 19 years old.

My first experience preparing a Thanksgiving Feast was at the ripe old age of 23 while newly pregnant with our second child. I need to explain my little phobia of bones... While I am a carnivore, I do not like bones or skin. I don't want to see them or touch them and definitely don't want to eat them. There is nothing that nauseates me more than watching someone eat ribs. I am a polite person and will eat what is served in other's homes but it can be difficult for me.

To illustrate my point, when my son was around 7 years old he was sick and we stopped at the grocery store on the way home from the doctor. While we were looking through the meats he saw a package of drumsticks and got very excited. I felt bad because he really liked them so I put them in the cart. He jumped up and down through the store yelling, "Yes! I get chicken with bones in it!" I don't think I need to tell you we received some rather odd looks from the others in the store.

The hardest part of that first Thanksgiving was preparing the turkey. My need for things to look a certain way superseded my fear of bones and skin. How could it be Thanksgiving without the image of a nicely browned turkey on the table? I knew that you pulled the neck out from inside the turkey. Well, first trimester + bone phobia + shoving my hand inside a cold turkey carcass to pull out the neck + visual of the neck = yeah. No bueno for me-oh. Total pukefest. Then there was the fact that I had no idea there was a little bag with giblets stuffed inside the neck hole. Why on earth would I lift that flap of rubbery skin to look in there? Well, that bag of giblets exploded out the front of the turkey near the end of the cooking time.

Those of us who regularly host Thanksgiving know well the amount of time that goes into making that day special. It goes beyond preparing a special meal... there's the planning, the shopping, the cleaning and the cooking. I've yet to pull off a Thanksgiving 100% to my satisfaction. There always comes that point, usually within hours of our guests arriving, that I realize I can't meet my own expectations. That's when The Beast begins to bubble up in my soul. My eyes dilate, my blood pressure and heart rate both increase, and I hand out lists of things I want help with. Then someone pushes my BIG RED BUTTON with, "The house is fine the way it is."

My wanting everything just so + days of thinking and preparing on my part + severe lack of sleep (I am usually up until 1 or 2 am and then get up at 5:30 am) + way too much coffee + feeling like no one cares about what I might want to make Thanksgiving special for me (clean house) = Wild haired, crazy eyed, psycho BEYOTCH from the very pit of hell that is badly in need of a shower... And I'm a church lady.

So why do it? Why not just make a reservation at a restaurant or finagle and invitation elsewhere? Because, except for those two hours before our guests arrive, I love it. I really do. I just wish I were better at it and each year I hope that I'll finally achieve pulling off a stress free event.

Today's Tips:

1. If you don't have one, make a plan of action. Write down what has to be done before Thursday and then go through the list and spread those things out over the next three days.

2. If you haven't done your shopping, write down your entire menu and then create your shopping list. Don't go shopping right away! Put the list and a pen in your pocket or take it with you from room to room as you do other things around the house. You will think of other things you need. Write them down immediately.

3. The best time to do your shopping will be right around 7 am. The shelves will all be stocked and the aisles will be clear. I've gone at 6:30 am before and had to work my way around the stockers and all their pallets. You want to be sure they are all gone but it is still early enough to not be crowded. This week the stores will get crowded earlier than usual.

4. If you are like me and going to be using your china that has been sitting in the china cabinet since Easter... pull it out and wash it. If you don't have the time... just wash the cups, wine glasses and the top plates and bowls to remove any dust that has accumulated. This is also a good time to dust the inside of the cabinet and clean the mirrors.

5. Today would be a good day to deep clean all of your bathrooms and to keep that washer and dryer humming along.

**Comment from Paul Mitchell: Oh man, you forgot the most important tip for Monday. Since Butterball underestimates the thawing time for an 18 lb turkey by about 30 times, put the danged turkey in the sink TODAY or you're going to be deep frying a frozen turkey Thursday morning. Thanks Paul!

You will not want to miss tomorrow's post on crisis cleaning!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fabulous Friday... Right???

Blogger is frustrating me this morning... It won't let me move the order of the pictures. I give up!~

Mr. Macchiato took me out for a super fancy dinner last night to celebrate our anniversary. We had a wonderful time and everything about it was just perfect! We don't go on dates like that very often so we really enjoyed ourselves.

This morning I was surprised by this glorious sunrise as I let the dogs out. I knew it would pass quickly so I grabbed my camera and ran out into the street barefoot and in my pajamas. Hey, you do what ya gotta do!


Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!




I never get tired of the sky here... never.




I had elk steak last night. It was aMaZiNg!






Mr. Macchiato had antelope. It was also iNcReDiBlE.


WOW!!!






This was an amaretto chocolate cake that was more like a brownie.


It was YUM!!!


I normally do our grocery shopping on Friday mornings but since we've been taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class I've been trying to be smarter about my shopping habits. I didn't have time to go through coupons and store flyers yesterday so I've decided to wait. I've already got most of our Thanksgiving shopping done anyway. The week before last I spent $177 on groceries with a savings total of $115.46 through store promos and $37 in manufacture coupons. Yes, I am proud of myself. Last week my Mom was here so I didn't have the time really map things out and did the bulk of my shopping at Wal-Mart. I still saved over $15 with manufacture coupons but my experience at the check out was one of the reasons I stopped using coupons years ago. I had everything organized and it should have gone quickly... Oy. Some checkers just do not do well with anything other than simply scanning stuff.
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I don't know if I'm ever going to get a job. It is really depressing. I couldn't even get an interview to be one of those people that hands out snacks at Costco. To apply I had to take an IQ test online. Seriously. And I didn't get an interview. I took that like a punch in the gut.
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I had an interview a several weeks back and talked to the guy earlier this week. That may yet pan out but we'll see.
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Sigh...
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Dave Ramsey is having giveaways every day for the next 20 or so more days. Today's giveaway is just for desk calendars but the other day was for $2,000 cash... and another day he had 10 video cameras. You have to enter each day for each giveaway. We've been learning a lot through this course (some of it makes me want to crawl under a rock and never come back out... so wish we'd done some of this stuff from the get go). Check it out.
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Have a GREAT weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hilarious Blog Post Inspires Blog Post

I love the Daddy blog, Poop and Boogies. I really enjoy reading about family life through the eyes of the man. Yesterday I popped over to see if he had anything new up and read this post. I about busted a gut when he mentioned that he puts on his pants if he and his wife are arguing and it is that statement that has inspired this post.
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Mr. Poop and Boogies is so right about disagreements/arguments starting in the bedroom because that is when you are alone and most often able to speak openly if you have children... or as in our case now, and have a parent living with you.
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Why did his statement about having to put on pants amuse me so? Because I have to have on a bra. In fact, a big clue for Mr. Macchiato that I am mad is I change into my jammies in the bathroom with the door shut. And if I'm really mad... I've even been known to climb into bed fully clothed, and I'm talking jeans. It must be a vulnerability thing.
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People are strange... we really are not all that different when you think about it.
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That got me thinking about other things I do and wondering if other women do the same sort of stuff. Like, for instance, if I'm really mad about something and am going to let Mr. Macchiato have it... I dress in something I know he really likes and do the best job I can on my make-up and hair. I know well after nearly 25 years with this man as a part of my life that he's much more apt to being sorry if I look and smell good. Those arguments that sneak up on us when I haven't showered and am wearing mismatched clothes or holey sweats and am just out and out ugly don't go so well. Not. At. All.
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I'm pretty passive aggressive. I don't do well with direct conflict at all. In fact, I don't talk and squeeze my eyes shut tight when we argue. I can honestly fall asleep in the middle of an argument. This drives Mr. Macchiato CRAZY! I choose to do things like... not lay out his clothes the next day or iron his shirts so he goes to work looking like a bum (he can't match stuff and never gives himself enough time to iron something himself). Or make him a lunch. Or dinner. Or do his laundry. If I'm really pissed I'll lay out dirty underwear. Sometimes one of those is his only indication that I'm upset about something. It's bad if he gets it all at the same time.
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Of course, there are the times I blow up. Interestingly, he responds to that more favorably but I just can't do that all the time. It takes too much out of me to get to that point. It always amazes me when he starts chuckling when I've gone off the deep end. I buy myself a one way ticket to cRaZy Town and... he laughs.
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My ability to communicate is a bit of an illusion. In person I can relay past events and the feelings behind them after I've worked through them. I've never been able to speak about the things bothering me while they are bothering me. Well, not without great difficulty and pain on my part. As a child I started writing and tried to communicate that way but that doesn't go over with people that want to talk things out. Thankfully, Mr. Macchiato got to where he understood and accepted that about me and while there are still times when he wants me to talk, he also has the ability to ask me to write him a letter the next day. He's a really good guy. A total keeper.
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Today is our 22nd Wedding Anniversary. It is something I'm very proud of. We've had to work hard and through a lot of crap over the years. There have been times when we've both been ready to throw in the towel... thankfully, never at the same time. We fight. We make up. We fight again. I like him. I love him. I hate him. And then I love him again. We are best friends, lovers, and sometimes enemies. I'm so glad I said yes to that first date. In so doing, I stepped onto this roller coaster ride we call our life and I wouldn't change it for anything.
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I love you Mr. Macchiato. Happy Anniversary!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Days of My Life

I am trying to get back on a regular Monday thru Friday blogging schedule. I was quite upset last week when I read several blogs I used to read regularly and found out information about their lives I should have known months ago... Bloggers I consider cyber friends. I'm actually afraid of what else I will learn as I get to the other blogs I haven't been reading as often. I got into blogging because I was very isolated and couldn't talk. I got so much support from the online community for so many years that I feel I need to make a concerted effort to nuture that. I'll be honest, it is a struggle to get back into the habit...
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The difficult part of blogging every day is coming up with stuff to blog about. I just can't do deep and meaningful right now. The more I focus on that sort of thing the more inwardly depressed I become. I think some of what keeps me sane is my stupidity... Assuming I have some semblance of sanity.



Poor Taffy! She's such a tiny little dog and she gets cold. She likes to sit on the back of the couch next to me while I'm on the computer and she was shivering so I wrapped her up in this blanket. She stayed there like that for well over an hour! She looks at the computer screen, looks at me and naps. I am so glad she is home! And Benny is really completely Booper again! We are THRILLED! (Yes, even Mr. Macchiato!)


I had my camera in my purse and decided to take some pictures of the contrast in the weather between Monday and Tuesday as I was driving 75 miles an hour up I 25 for my doctor's appointment. That is Pike's Peak in my spotted rear view mirror.


See... 75 mph exactly. Yeah, cruise control. You can also see the temperature was 49 degrees and much warmer than the 25 degrees of the day before.


Colorado really is a beautiful place to live! I never get tired of the blue skies and mountains. The only other place on earth I'd rather live is Monterey, California. There you have the mountains, the redwoods, and the ocean. You also have to be a multi-gazillionaire. I do miss water here...



Just buzzing along and enjoying myself...




Until I hit Denver.






The TRAFFIC!!!





I 25 was closed due to an accident just after the exit I have to take so the traffic was backed up for MILES. And I had the misfortune of being next to someone blasting their Rap music which ANNOYS ME NO END.
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Thankfully, I was able to make my appointment on time because I left so early and Dr. Wonderful did his magic on my vocal chords. Well, I think he did. No change yet. One of the injections didn't go as smoothly as usual. The great thing about this doctor is if he missed it I can go back in right away and get it re-done at no charge. No more of this waiting a month business. I'll just call and talk to him on Monday and he'll determine by the sound of my voice if I need to come back. Have I told y'all I love him? I do. I love him LOTS!
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I had a little surprise in my e-mail inbox when I got home from one of Double Shot's teachers. They were doing a special little thing today and everyone was supposed to bring in something they really like that their family makes. He said he hoped that wasn't the first I'd heard of it. Ummmmm... yes. Yes, it was. I asked him if he knew what Double Shot said he'd bring... Cookies. Sigh. Since I communicated with the teacher it wasn't like I could play dumb and send him with some store bought cookies. So, after our Financial Peace University class (Dave Ramsey) we headed to the store for a few things and I was up until after 11 pm making cookies.
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Because I am a dumb (okay pretend I know how to strike through words... dumb has the line through it) good Mom like that.


Orange Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
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**Oh Good Lord... I just saw this article online... How a Healthy Diet Can Hurt the Economy. A dude named Robert Beaglehole is quoted in the article. I'm not even kidding. Beaglehole... Bwaaa Haaa Haa ha! The article is ridiculous. If people in Britain adopt a healthier diet it may affect jobs in Brazil... Markets adjust according to demand and stuff happens slowly over time. I hate articles like this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Caved and Got on the Scale...


HOLY COW!!!



This Miss Piggy sooooooooo needs to hit the gym...

WOW!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Not So Grand Adventure...

This morning I was out the door by 8 am and headed up toward Denver for my vocal chord injections. I called Mr. Macchiato as I got onto I25 North because the sky looked rather ominous in that direction. It was nice here in Colorado Springs. He told me there was snow falling up north. Great.
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By the time I hit Monument Hill there was very poor visibility and the roads were icy. I passed an accident where two vehicles had gone off the road into a ditch, then I passed a vehicle stopped and facing the wrong direction, and then we all hit ice and I braced myself to hit the car in front of me as I saw a vehicle 3 cars ahead spin around and face back our direction. When I didn't hit that car, I braced myself to be hit from behind as I saw those cars swerving as they struggled to stop as well. The car up front got turned back around and we all slowly resumed traveling forward. We then passed a truck turned over on its roof and then the traffic came to a standstill. I was pretty shaken and called Mr. Macchiato. I told him I was going to turn around and go home...


That didn't happen. I ended up sitting there in that same spot for over three hours.

There was a nearly 40 car pile up ahead (including 4 big rigs) and 12 people had to be taken to the hospital. They had us move over as far as we could to make a lane in the center for emergency vehicles to go back and forth.


I had nothing in the car with me... nothing to drink. Nothing to eat. Nothing to read. Nothing to write on. AND my cell phone would only work here and there. I couldn't understand that because I had signal bars. Some calls would go through and some texts... and then the rest wouldn't.




You can see an ambulance coming in my rear view mirror.




I never got a picture of them driving back the other way because they snuck up on me.




You can't see in this picture but I could see it from where I was... the big mess was right at the end of where the road is in this picture. I could see all the lights.



This is me making a should I brave the cold and go pee in the trees like everyone else face. No. I did not. Almost though.




It was too cold for that!








Nice. It was longer by the time I actually moved.





Not great but the price you pay for 4 wheel drive.




I was bored.



Really bored.




I wished I had a nail file.




I found some super old food in my glove box. I ate it. Then wished I hadn't because it was spicy and I didn't have anything to drink. I hadn't had breakfast.


I took pictures of the people desperate enough to exit their cars to go potty in the woods. I tried to edit those pictures but they don't really show up this size... I think if you click on the pictures they go bigger and you can see what I wrote that way.

I really needed to go to but was afraid there was some weird blogger in his/her car that would take a picture of me and then post it on their blog.

This guy's outfit cracked me up. Really?!?!? Wow.

Headed for the trees...


When ya gotta go, ya gotta go!

Misery!!!




Good thing I DID have a blanket. I had to keep my car turned off as much as possible because I was about to run out of gas.


This guy's battery ran out and he had to ask the guy in front of me for a jump.




He really lucked out because the guy actually had cables in the back of his car. I don't!!!


Jumpity Jump Jump!!!



Two headed for the trees... What was hysterical is that one of them was carrying a serious wad of napkins.



Finally, after hours and hours... movement. Very slow movement. 20 feet at a time.





I didn't get a picture but there was quite a bit of serious debris along the road on both sides.


One of the semi's involved...




By this time there was no longer a need for snow plows.



The Larkspur Exit where they moved the vehicles off to. There were a ton more on the other side of the freeway as well.


These cars aren't in bad shape. There were some completely demolished. Disturbingly so.

I ate lunch by myself at Applebee's in Castle Rock. A quite expensive lunch, I might add. Oy. Then I got gas, some Excedrin Migraine (when I almost wrecked it gave me an instant headache that would not let up even after I ate and had coffee) and decided to take the scenic route home by way of 86 East to 83 South.


The scenery was spectacular!



The weather changes so quickly here in Colorado.





I was alone on the road much of the way home.


The sun shining through my sun roof...
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So. I have to go to Denver tomorrow now for my doctor's appointment. Oy. Thankfully, there were no fatalities today, although there were some serious injuries. Tomorrow's drive should be uneventful. I hope so at any rate.