Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I hope the joy of the day lasts longer for you than Santa's gift to Angus.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Beard Baubles Aren't Just For Men

“Boys,” we said, “let’s go skiing.”  

We aren’t as close to cross country skiing here in Sheridan as we were in Casper.  Instead of a 20 minute drive from our house to the trails it’s now about a 45 minute drive  for most people.  For us, when Dean spots a rock or what he thinks looks like a rock, he reflexively lets up on the gas.  And if he actually talks about that supposed rock he might have just seen … well, let’s just say, if driving slower saves gas, we get up that mountain for next to nothing.  It was foggy on the drive up to the ski trails which pretty much prevented Dean's rock gawking, but the low visibility and discussions of the shrouded trees made him drive even slower so I had plenty of time to take some pictures as we crept up the mountain.  

We didn't know exactly where the trails were.  All we knew was that when we’d checked out the spot last winter (stupidly leaving our skis behind) there’d been cars parked alongside the highway where the trails began.  So when we saw a trail sign a short distance off the highway we figured that was the place.   The boys were in dog heaven but we were a bit taken aback by the lack of a groomed trail.  

We strapped on our skis and broke trail for a short distance.  As we trudged along Dean kept mumbling about how he didn’t think we were at the right place but I pointed at the sign on the fence saying, “but there’s a sign on the fence.” He refused to be convinced.  He decided we should get back in the car, and drive further up the highway.  He’s all for exercise but he has his limits. 

Turned out he was right and about three minutes up the highway were the real trails, which had been groomed …. before it had recently snowed.  So we still had to break trail a bit but at least the trails were wide and easy to follow.  And we only fell once.  Which is pretty good considering we had to cross a small creek and we had two 90-pound snow-crazed dogs running near us.

We’re planning to head back up that way this afternoon because we really need to hear something crunching other than peanut brittle between our teeth and feel the glide of something other than frosted cookies going down our throats.  


Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Is Better Than Last But Last Is Better Than Nothing

Have you wondered why most people run the Turkey Trot?  I'll tell you why.  It's the gloating.  Don’t act surprised.  You know people don’t drag themselves to the Turkey Trot because they want to wheeze, gasp for air and become too tired to even wipe the snot from their nose because they think it’s good for them.  Or because it will give them an excuse to eat more.  Heck no.  They do it because they want to be able to gloat that THEY did it and YOU did not. 

Dean and Angus and I ran our first ever Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning.  And by that I mean we ran until we got to any snow-covered pavement where we would slow down to a brisk walk.  Don’t let this photo fool you. It was a balmy 50 or so degrees so there were lots and lots many a few one or two places where the snow had melted off the pavement.  Anyway, walking on the snow parts was a safety issue.  I’d already slipped on the ice at home and introduced my right hip to the sidewalk so I was “running” injured.  Otherwise I’m sure we could have kept up our swift pace and finished the 2.8 miles right alongside those three sweaty guys who lapped us twice.  And just so we’re clear, I ran it because I knew it would be good for me.  I would never dream of gloating. 

Friday night the mild temperatures continued as we participated in another first for us – the Sheridan Christmas Stroll – where all the townsfolk who don’t have the fortitude or get-up-and-go to run the Turkey Trot stroll up and down Main Street and support the local businesses by eating cookies ... 

 drinking hot chocolate .....

riding the trolley ...

 and the train ...

visiting with Santa and shopping  – all to the accompaniment of Christmas music.

  Our evening ended with a burst of color in the sky ...

and a stroll back to the car ...

where somebody started a snowball fight which ended when an errant snowball found Myra’s face and she saw her own burst of color.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Amazons Like Young Girls

I’m gonna make this short and sweet because I know all of you are busy entering your Black Friday shopping locations into your GPS and mapping out your strategy in order to get the best possible deals you can as you attempt to complete your Christmas shopping all in one longer-every-year day.  

STOP!  There is another option. You can still get a deal AND you can do it while you eat that third piece of pie as you watch Bob Hope sing White Christmas.  Or is it Bing Crosby?  Anyway, before you throw down that turkey leg and drive off with whipped cream lipstick, take a breath, click here and read this. 

 Oh, right.  I know.  You’re busy doing your Black Friday stretches, squats and bicep curls in preparation for the shopping battle.  Let me give you the highlight. 

Hesitating on a purchase shows your willingness to go elsewhere and may get a retailer to sweeten the pot. Web research firm Baymard Institute found that 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned after initial click-throughs. Retailers are desperate to convert those carts into sales, so in many cases they’ll offer a better deal to get you to buy, says Phillips.
Coupon site found 17 well-known retailers(including Bed, Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, and Williams-Sonoma) that offered coupons (ranging from 20% off to free shipping) to customers who left their carts.
Don’t want to pay full price on those towels from Pottery Barn? Log in to your Pottery Barn account and put them in your cart. Within a few days, you may get an email offering them at a lower price.
Don’t believe me?  Abby bought a comforter from Amazon.  She left hers in her cart for a while because she wanted to discuss it with Jorge first.   When she went back to her cart to purchase it, the comforter price had dropped $10.00 from its original price! After she got the comforter, she liked it so much I decided to replace my own I’m-too-embarrassed-to-tell-you-how-old-my-dust-mite-infested-comforter-is with the same one.  I went to Amazon and the comforter had gone back up to its original price.  I waited a few days and it finally dropped $8.00 and I bought it.  Even though it was still $2.00 more than Abby had paid I was so excited to think this shopping cart price change thing actually worked for me that I sent my final confirmation e-mail to Abby. 

 She responded “I win.” What?!  That's not what I was expecting.  It turns out she had decided to purchase a second comforter and had apparently left hers in the cart longer than I did and it had dropped $14.00 from the original price in her cart! 

So if you have a few days to wait, and you would rather shop from the comfort of your home as you sip a glass of wine, give this a try.  And if it you think it isn’t working for you…………..well……………have another glass of wine and wait a little longer.  It will.  Or ask Abby to put it in her cart.  I think Amazon likes her better.

Happy Thanksgiving and Safe Shopping!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Eternal Vacation

Here's what I've learned about retirement so far:

  • Everybody who goes to the Y in the morning is old.  I don't mean the nobody-in-their-right-mind-should-even-be-awake-yet time of the morning.  I mean the slept-in-had-a-cup-of-coffee-and-read-the-paper time of the morning.  
  • Old people at the Y love to play pickle ball.  They are crazy for pickle ball.  There are benches of old geezers sitting in the gym just waiting for their turn to play pickle ball.  
  • Until three short weeks ago I did not even know what pickle ball was.
  • I do not want to play pickle ball now.  
  • When I play pickle ball I will know I am really old.
  • Having more time doesn't mean I clean more often.
  • Everybody who goes to the dog park during the daytime is old.
  • The dog park is to old geezers what the bar scene is to the young.
  • I'm good at wasting time.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Johnny Traveled With a Suitcase

For months this is how I imagined I would commemorate today – our first official day of retirement in our new home..............................................

As dusk turns to night, Dean and I somberly walk toward a fire ring made of rocks I’d stolen borrowed from his heap gently cared-for-collection.  Flames gently dance in the cool air, giving off diamond-like sparks which are reflected in the sadness of our eyes.  Angus sits quietly between us as we join hands.  We look at each other.  I speak a few heart-felt words and, as we wipe away a tear, I gently toss the duffel that has been with us through the last two years of back and forth between Casper and Sheridan onto the fire.  Chemical fumes engulf us, we choke.  We clutch at each other.  Angus nearly falls into the fire in mid-sneeze and his fur begins to smolder.   Sadness turns to panic as Dean throws dirt on Angus and I run for the hose. 


As dusk turns to night, Dean and I somberly walk toward a fire ring made of rocks I’d stolen borrowed from his heap gently cared-for-collection.  Flames gently dance in the cool air, giving off diamond-like sparks which are reflected in the sadness of our eyes.  Angus sits quietly between us as we join hands.  We look at each other.  I speak a few heart-felt words and, as we laugh out loud, I hurl the duffel that has been with us through the last two years of back and forth from Casper to Sheridan onto the dirt next to the fire ring.  We stomp on it like crazed old people.  Angus begins barking and jumping around us.  We whoop and cheer as we kick it around the yard.  Angus grabs the duffel with his jaws and begins running all through the yard, stopping now and then to shake it like a stuffed bunny.  We cheer him on excitedly.  He leaps across the fire ring, the duffel catches fire and as he circles through the yard chemical fumes fill the area and engulf us.  We choke.  We clutch at each other.  Angus nearly falls into the fire in mid-sneeze and his fur begins to smolder.   Sadness turns to panic as Dean throws dirt on Angus and I run for the hose.


It's good to be home.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Walking Backward Through My Mind

Jorge was visiting family in Florida recently and when Abby forwarded me a photo he’d sent of his view during lunch one day 
it reminded me of Ecuador, which reminded me of fish, which reminded me of feeling like crap, which reminded me of labor and childbirth, which reminded me of my children which reminded me of Ecuador again.

Way back when I was in labor with Leslie, as the waves of contractions became stronger and more frequent, my desire to have more than one child became weaker and weaker.  Siblings are overrated.  I’m never doing this again.  Never, never, never, never.  Of course Dean had no idea I’d made the decision we were going to be a one-child family because, since I didn't speak for about six hours, all this was going on in my head.  Not that it mattered.  He had about as much control over whether I was going to have any more children as he’d had over whether I was going to have any children.  But then, not long after I’d told the nurse, I’ve had enough.  I’m not doing this anymore!  I wrapped my arms around Leslie, and as the pain-free glow of new motherhood intensified, the memory of the past few hours instantly receded.  That wasn’t so bad.  I can do this again.  I just need to get that breathing figured out so my hands won’t curl into claws when I hyperventilate. 

A couple of years later, because my memory was still wiped clean of those hours of labor before Leslie’s birth, and because I was still blissfully unaware that parenting was a roller coaster ride beyond compare— right after I raised my head from the delivery table, glared at my dutiful Mormon doctor and said, How could you have done this to your wife eight times? — Abby was born.  Who knew 28 years later, the little girl who once didn’t even want to move four blocks to a new house, would move to Ecuador.

Four times I joyfully planned a trip to see Abby and arrived in Ecuador filled with excitement, blissfully ignorant of the lurching and plummeting that lay ahead for my stomach.  Who knew every time I visited I was going to get sick.  And that each time, I’d get a little sicker.  On my first trip the worst of my suffering was over within two or three hours.  Unfortunately it was the two or three hours on my way home during my layover in Panama where the bathroom had a constant line of women snaking out the door waiting for their turn at one of the too-few stalls.  Try telling your intestinal tract to wait your turn when it’s insisting you get in there now! 

A few months later as I prepared for our trip to Ecuador for Abby & Jorge’s wedding, I was so happy to welcome Jorge to the family that the memories of my little affliction in Panama weren’t even a blip on my radar.  There were a couple of blips during the wedding ceremony but the reception, where I politely ate every last bite of my shrimp cocktail (because that’s what a good mother of the bride does even though that mother of the bride really hates seafood) was perfect.  Since nobody else puked up shrimp cocktail later that night, and I felt fine the next morning, I decided I was allergic to shrimp.  And even if I’m not, I am going to use that excuse for the rest of my life.

A year later when we visited Ecuador again I stayed far away from shrimp.  But at one point I thought I was going to be choking down some fish because that’s what a good mother-in-law does when her new son-in-law’s eyes light up with joy after stumbling upon a remote fish stand where you can eat fish so fresh their big eyes are still blinking in surprise.  I’d been feeling a bit queasy even before we discovered that fish stand and when a very nice woman showed us how she prepared the fish for cooking  ...

... I began to anxiously prepare my stomach for this delicacy by furtively scoping out the best spot to quietly puke my guts out without offending her.   Fortunately she told us there was no extra fish for us to eat since she was expecting a large tour group shortly so I was able to postpone the inevitable until the middle of the night, and by morning I was feeling much, much better.

A year after that, memories of my illnesses once again barely a flicker in my memory, and again blissfully unaware of what I was in for, I was ready to visit Ecuador again.  True to form, on this trip I got sicker than the last trip.  Only this time I wasn’t just a little sicker.  I was a lot sicker, for a lot longer.  One minute I was sleeping peacefully and the next my knees were banging onto a cold, hard bathroom floor.  I felt like the snake I’d seen a few days earlier — one minute minding his own business, swimming tranquilly in the ocean, and the next, grabbed by a grubby eight year old hand and slammed, over and over and over, like a whip, onto the hard beach.  

During that volcanic vomiting, bed shaking chills, and fever, I laid curled in a ball in the hotel thinking,  I don’t think I can come here again … I’m pretty sure I can never come here again … never, never, never, never. 

I didn’t know then that I had taken my last trip to Ecuador.  Five months later Abby moved back to the States and six months after that Jorge followed her.  So now we don’t need to travel to Ecuador to see them.  But that photo of the beach in Florida reminded me of Ecuador and what a beautiful country it is, and how friendly and courteous and happy the people are.   It made me feel a bit sad we won’t need to go to Ecuador to see them again.  It made me want to go back.   

And maybe someday we will.  Maybe we will eat plantain chips and drink Pilsner on the beach again.  But it might be a while.  It’s taking me a lot longer to forget that last gut-wrenching illness than it took to forget the vice-like labor of childbirth.  Wrapping my arms around porcelain just doesn’t seem to have the same memory vanquishing effect as wrapping them around a baby.   

But once that memory disappears I’d like to go again.  Because I had a lot of fun there — when I wasn’t puking in a hotel bathroom.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

To Oz? To OZ!

How could the ground be covered in a sparkling white blanket two short weeks ago ...

... and today be an emerald green carpet?

Oh, right.  I forgot.  I live in Wyoming where if we don't like the weather we just gnaw on some antelope jerky and wait a few minutes.  In Wyoming I can drive to work in a blizzard, struggle to push my car door open as 40 mph winds slam it back into me, fight my way across the parking lot with mascara dripping down my cheeks from the pelting snow, and finally reach the office door where I sometimes even get completely inside before the wind slams it closed on my arm.  A few short hours later, I can walk outside, upright, sun shining, carrying my coat. 

I’m tired of winter.  I’m glad winter is over and the bir...................... ohhhhhhhhhh, nooooooooo….…..did I say that out loud?   Knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood.   

Angus, though?   I think Angus is going to miss winter.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wasn't That A Dainty Dish To Set Before The Queen?

Casper is boring me.  Or to be more precise, sitting in front of a computer ten hours a day and then coming home to, as Dean likes to call it, our hotel room, bores me.  After work we take Angus for a walk, eat dinner, clean up, watch TV, go to bed, get up the next day and do it again.  Consequently when we come to Sheridan, where we are this weekend, I’m always looking for something to do.  SOMEthing to do besides watch TV in a half-empty house. That’s why a few weeks ago I decided we should pull off the paneling, get the walls textured and then paint them. I really needed something to DO that didn't involve a remote control or a computer.

We've torn off the paneling.  It's been textured and we've been doing a bit of painting.
I really hope soon I will be able to show you the finished project.

We’ve spent the last three weekends up here priming and painting ceilings and walls.  Gosh, I’m beginning to hate painting.  But I hate being bored more.   

Last weekend when we were up here Dean said, I need to tell you something.  My heart sank.  Oh, no, he found out I threw away the dog fur the last time I brushed Angus I thought. But no.  It was much less traumatic.  He just told me that once we’ve finished with this living-dining room redo, I need to find a project that doesn’t involve him. 

This weekend, as much as I wanted to finish the last bit of painting, I told Dean he could do whatever he wanted to all day long on Friday.  Anything he wanted.  All day.  Because I knew Saturday it was supposed to rain and THEN we could finish painting.  I thought he would spend this gift from me organizing his garage/workshop so he could frame the windows and put on the baseboards in the house so he’d be able to 

create some kind of uniquely Dean object d’art.  But he surprised me by spending about five hours watching You Tube videos to help him figure out how to put together the special fancy chainsaw sharpener he’d purchased last fall.  Too bad he discovered he needs to order a different grinder wheel to fit his baby electric chainsaw but I’m sure those cottonwood branches hanging over the house aren’t going anywhere.

Since it was a warm and gorgeous day I decided to keep myself busy by trimming the potentilla.  By time I’d finished clipping and hauling 15 branch and dead-leaf filled tarps my body hurt so much Dean had to help

me get up off the couch where I had dropped after stumbling in from the yard.  My hand might have been a bit less claw-like if he would have realized the big 2-handle hedge shears didn’t work because the screw that was loose was in the clippers, not my head, and not because I was “probably clipping at an angle instead of straight on.”  But on the bright side, after using the smaller hand-held pruning shears my fingers were curled in the exact position I would need to hold a paintbrush later, and the scabs and scratches on my forehead and arms shouldn’t leave a scar. 

Later, in the wee hours of the night as I was fumbling for the Ibuprophen, a family hike in the Tongue River Canyon sounded like a much better plan for Saturday than more painting or yard work. 

Dean managed to contain his disappointment that we wouldn’t be painting.   

Where's Myra?!

Where's Angus?!
 Pierce and Emerson asked him geology questions and even listened when he answered which was a totally new experience for him. 

 We headed home just before the rain started

and on the drive I saw three bald eagles.  Every time I saw one perched high on a tree I thought about asking Dean to stop so I could take a picture but then I'd think it would just be a waste of time since all I have is a little point and shoot camera.  I finally decided that was just stupid so when I saw a Golden in a tree I decided just because I didn’t have a fancy camera with a telephoto lens it wasn’t a good not reason to try.   

 I should have had a fancy camera with a telephoto lens.

This morning we woke up to winter. I knew it was too early to think we wouldn’t get any more snow but, like dying, even though I know it’s inevitable, it’s hard to truly believe it’s really going to happen to me.  There was no yard work today.  There was no hiking today.  Dean wishes there had been no painting today.  But I wasn’t bored.