Archive for September, 2013

Beyond Bored

I’m on a Monday morning marathon conference call with the team across the pond discussing the global delivery of a new software load this weekend. It’s beyond boring. I can’t understand half of the discussion due to the thick Irish accents I’m not accustomed to hearing. I have one action item on a spreadsheet that has 174 tasks and 61 owners. The work week is off to a slow start.

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Healthcare Sucks

I get bet booted off K’s health insurance at the end of year. Since I was able to take early retirement from the telecom company based in Paris that I worked for briefly, I qualify for retiree health benefits. The open enrollment started on Monday so I logged on to the benefit website to check out the rates. The monthly premium is around $500.00 as I expected. However, the drug co-pays for my four HIV drugs (“the cocktail”) will be $2,400.00 every three months, as compared to $600 I pay under K’s plan. I’ll be paying almost $16k a year just for premiums and four co-pays. That does not include any other expenses like doctor visits and lab tests. My monthly budget is facing a $1,400 a month hit. Ouch! I was stunned by the increase. I’ve been in a funk all week trying to accept a new financial reality. I hope there’s a cheaper alternative under Obama Care.

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Summer To Winter

It rained in the city last night while it snowed in the high country. Chain laws were in effect for trucks on I-70 and several other mountain passes. I welcome the cooler weather but I’m not ready for snow. I’m hoping for more than ten minutes of fall.

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Fun And Adventure

It was one of those Friday where I felt like I was going to lose my mind if I didn’t get out of the house. The news coverage of the flood death and destruction left me sad and unsettled. I had to do something fun or see some beauty to erase the horrible images that hounded me all week in the media.

I found myself closing the laptop and dashing off to the gym in mid-afternoon. I had a great back and bicep workout even though the gym was unusually crowded for a Friday afternoon. Feeling refreshed from the gym, I felt motivated to mow the yard before going on a short run around the neighborhood. After my run, I managed to create a tasty dinner from the homemade pesto and home-grown tomatoes Sheila gifted to me a few days ago. It was after six by the time I finished dinner. After showering and shaving, I threw on a fresh white button-down collar shirt, a pair of tan chinos and burgundy wingtips before jumping in the car to seek an adventure in RiNo.

Jean Smith and two other artists were having an opening reception at Ice Cube. Jean is primarily a clay artist but also experiments with Polaroid transfers and jewelry. Her show was inspired by the Neon Museum in Las Vegas. I could clearly see how the desert and the old neon signs influenced Jean’s work. Jean had tweaked her color palate for this show. Her choice of glazes along with a new muted color palate made her work fresh and inspiring. The texture of the clay pieces made me want to touch and explore them with my hands but I managed to control myself. I found Jean’s work to be a perfect balance of masculine and feminine. There is a unique beauty in this show that refreshed my soul. Jean’s work was exactly what I need to take my mind off the recent tragic events. I had a nice chat with Jean and her husband, Bob, before leaving the gallery.

I felt a need for more exploration after leaving Ice Cube so I headed over the galleries on Navajo Street. Virginia Coleman had an interesting show at Next. I wasn’t thrilled with the shows at Pirate and Zip37. Edge had a good show with the standouts being the pieces by Deborah Jang and Mark Friday.

I accomplished my mission to have an adventure and seek out beauty. The gym was peppered with beautifully sculpted men. My run allowed me to absorb the peaking beauty of the late summer neighborhood landscape. Jean’s show nourished my soul with deliciously beautiful art. I managed to turn my Friday night into a fun adventure even though I was flying solo.

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A Change In Plans

Cindi and her boyfriend have decamped to a hotel for the rest of the week. The boyfriend’s employer is footing the bill this week for all of their employees who have been displaced by the flood. They will be out of town next week.

Canyon access has been opened but it’s a two and a half hour commute each way. The back-country drive includes many miles on two gravel roads and an abandoned dirt one-way logging road, which was reopened, but is in poor condition. A four-wheel drive vehicle is required to make it down the logging road. When encountering an oncoming vehicle the drivers have to figure out how to pass each other without driving off the mountain side. The journey eventually leads to highway 119. Highway 119 is open to I-70 which runs through north Denver. Highway 72 is the easy access to the canyon but it will be closed for at least three months. The gas service to the canyon will not be restored until highway 72 is reopened. The rapidly approaching mountain winter will render Cindi’s house inhabitable without heat. Also, the logging road will probably be closed after the first heavy snow. Driving five hours round trip each day is a deal breaker. Cindi will rent a furnished apartment when she returns to town in two weeks.

The whole situation sucks but Cindi is one of the lucky ones. She still has her house and possession unlike many others who have lost everything. Cindi is facing difficult circumstances but she’s a strong woman and will persevere. She really only has to find temporary housing for a few months. That’s a lot less of a burden than most of the others displaced by the flood are facing.

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Unimaginable Destruction

The local news is nothing but thirty minutes of flood destruction video and weather alerts. Six people are dead, 1,200 unaccounted for, 1,500 homes destroyed, another 17,000 damaged and 100 bridges destroyed.

More rain is forecast for today. Cindi never made it out of her canyon yesterday. She’s hoping to get out this afternoon.

My family has not called to see if I’m dead or alive. I guess I’m not high on their priority list. And they wonder why I don’t visit during the holidays.

Check out these photos:


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Canyon Refugees

Cindi has been trapped at home without heat or hot water as the gas has been turned off for all the residents in her canyon due to a broken gas line. One of the exit roads is being opened later this morning. Residents will be allowed out but not back in. Most residents are leaving her canyon except for few who volunteered to stay behind and tend to horses and other livestock. The male neighbors managed to temporarily repair her canyon road with snow plows owned by canyon residents. The road is in sufficient shape to allow exit but will probably wash out with the next heavy rain which is due late today.

Cindi and her boyfriend will stay with me for the next few days. There is so much devastation that repairs to her less traveled canyon road are not a high priority. Cindi will probably rent an apartment in the city until things improve. Thankfully, she is cash flush since renting her warehouse to the commercial cannabis cultivation company.

I need change the linens in K’s room, clean up the house a bit and hit the grocery store. I’m off to the shower.

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Trapped In A Canyon

Cindi is trapped in her canyon. Her canyon road, which leads to highway 72, is washed out in three places. In addition, several bridges are washed out on highway 72. If she can get out her canyon she still can’t get into town. Cindi is marooned at home with three big events this weekend. One of her events was moved from a facility in Lyons to a hotel in Boulder. Downtown Boulder has been evacuated so Cindi can’t get her trucks or crew in to set up for the event. She’s pulling her hair out. If Cindi manages to get out of her canyon she’s going stay at my house with her boyfriend for the next few days. It’s a mess.

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Rain, Rain, Rain

It’s still raining. I’m sure you’ve seen the news coverage of the flooding. Thankfully, my house is located on a hill about a quarter mile south of Cherry Creek. The Denver area has not been hit as hard as the surrounding areas. The koi pond is about to overflow into the yard. I’m happy it’s raining and not snowing.

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A Reversal Of Fortune

Mr. & Mrs. C have lived in a house down the street for about forty years. Mr. C is a retired lawyer. Mrs. C is an artist who became a stay at home mom to care for three sons. They are from a generation where the husband managed all of the finances.

Mr. C has dementia which seems to be progressing rapidly. Mr. C’s health is forcing the couple to move into a condo. When Mrs. C took over the financial matters she discovered her husband had not been paying the bills. She also discovered that he mismanaged their investments. The Cs have no money. Mr. C can’t remember what happened to their savings and investments. They need to sell their house, which is their only asset, in order to move into a condo. Mrs. C refuses to move into an assisted living center.

Mrs. C stopped by last week to let me know they will be having a series of garage sales. She also wanted to know if I was interested in buying one or more of her paintings. Mrs. C is a very talented abstract artist. I’ve always loved and admired her work. K bought one of her paintings at a charity art auction which now hangs in his loft in St. Louis. Mrs. C’s painting sell in the 2k to 5k range. Mrs. C offered a substantial discount on her artwork.

I was saddened when I learned about the C’s situation. They are wonderful people who have always been warm and friendly. I always enjoyed talking to Mr. C at Mrs. C’s art openings. Mr. C never failed to have an interesting story to tell.

I stopped by their garage sale this weekend with Sheila. I bought a few on Mrs. C’s silver serving platters while Sheila bought a stack of beautiful handmade paper to be used in a future art project. I would love to buy one of Mrs. C’s paintings. Her gallery prices are more than I can afford at this time. I’m on the fence about buying one of Mrs. C’s paintings. A purchase would help her financially but I feel like I would be profiting on the misfortune of Mrs. C. What would you do?

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