WHYoming

I’m on the road again, on my way to pick up Thing 1 from his college in Washington. This will be my fourth journey to/from Whitman College, which means by the time we reach home on Friday I will have logged approximately 8,800 miles making this trip. And in the roughly 144 hours I will have spent driving from Denver to Walla Walla, about 40 of those hours (or roughly 28% of my travel time) will have been spent driving across Wyoming, a state I shall henceforth call WHYoming.

Five hours of this while being rattled like a rat in a cage

I have driven through WHYoming a lot, which makes sense. If you living in Colorado, WHYoming is the large rectangle that stands between you and other, more-often-visited western states, like Montana, Oregon, and Washington. If you’ve ever driven across WHYoming via the Interstate Highway System, either north to south or east to west, you know everything there is to know about it. First, it’s empty. It’s our least populated state. There is not much to speak of, except for sage brush, rocky buttes, rolling hills, and pronghorn. There are some snowy peaks in the northwestern corner of the state and, while they are stunning, they are completely missed by the Interstate System so you will not see them unless you drive down some state highways through more sage brush and desolate, empty space. Second, it’s windy as hell. Pursuant to the fact that there is literally nothing taking up the almost 98,000 square feet of WHYoming, winds gust through here nearly every day, rattling your car as you haul 80 down the interstate trying to escape as quickly as you entered.

While trying to get my car, bedecked with such non-aerodynamic features as a roof box and a bike rack, out of the state without being over blown over in an endless cycle like another omnipresent tumbleweed, I had five hours to think. I spent a small part of that time comprising a haiku and some potential state slogans.

WHYoming Haiku

More pronghorn than folks

and an endless bad hair day.

This is WHYoming.

New state slogan: “Wyoming: The barren, windy rectangle between you and better western things”

Or how about: “Wyoming: Tipping cows since 1890”

Or maybe: “Wyoming: 80 mph speed limit because we know you’re just blowing through”

Of the towns and cities in WHYoming, Laramie, home to the University of Wyoming, is actually pretty cute. It is also not far from the Colorado border, so I offer this slogan for them: “Laramie: Almost, but not quite, Colorado.”

Okay. Fine. I am being a snob. It’s an easy thing to be a state snob when you are from Colorado, with her plethora of purple mountains majesty (yes, “America the Beautiful” was famously penned here). Do we have our issues? Oh, absolutely we do. Traffic is a big one. (We have transplants from all 50 states who bring their unique driving styles to our highways.) And let’s not speak of the eastern plains because let’s just not. But we are blessed with mostly lovely views and hiking and biking trails galore and tons of sunshine. And did we mention mountains? We have a lot of those. Have you heard?

I have noticed, though, that we have been getting quite a lot of wind in Colorado lately. Perhaps we need to have a conversation about our rectangular, northern neighbor about that. I appreciate your wanting to share, WHYoming, but if you’re looking for a gift for us I think we’d prefer more pronghorn to more wind. Just a thought.

(Post script: Before all 50 residents of Wyoming gang up on me at once, I am just teasing. Mostly. Seriously, though, see if you can do something about your wind. The semi-drivers and I would appreciate it.)

I Look Good, Now Pass Me My Readers So I Can See

It’s amazing as I get older what I am willing to convince myself is acceptable in terms of my appearance. People over 50 will tell you with age they’ve learned not to care what other people think. That is untrue. You simply get to a place where you acknowledge you’ve just wasted a precious 30 minutes (and time is a commodity at 53) trying to make yourself attractive and discovered you look the same as you did before you started. But you still have to go to the store, so you explain away your lack of effort with the preposterous notion that you are comfortable with aging. Sure you are.

I was reflecting on it today and I think I’ve figured out what happens to older people. You hit a certain age and suddenly you are farsighted. Your near vision is GONE. In a restaurant, you are screwed without your readers. You pull out your phone to see if the flashlight will help. You complain about the font on the menu, as if it’s the font’s fault your eyes no longer work. You can’t see. It’s okay. It happens to most everyone at some point. But I think this is why older people look the way they do when they go out in public. They did try to make themselves presentable. Indeed, they thought they were presentable. They just have no idea what they really look like anymore because they can’t see themselves very well.

Some of us gifted older folks actually manage to convince ourselves that we look good the way we are. Today I pulled the top of my hair back with an elastic band, curled my eyelashes, put on my tinted sunscreen and my progressives, and went out in public. Just. Like. That. It’s not that I didn’t care what I looked like or that I didn’t care what others thought of how I looked. It’s that I thought I looked just fine because I can’t see. In fact, I had myself convinced that I looked rather adorable in my little glasses with random wisps of stray hair breaking free from their elastic confinement when, in reality, I looked like a lazy, hot mess with bad eye make up and thinning hair. And that’s okay. It’s part of the journey, right?

Go ahead and judge, youngsters. If you’re lucky, someday you will be over 50 and eating out in a restaurant, thinking you look pretty good for your age. Then you’ll pass your readers around the table to all your friends because no one remembered theirs and none of you can read the menu without them. And you will order a whole bottle of wine because, once you can read the menu, you remember you know how to choose a nice bottle of wine.

There are some good things to getting older. You can’t see as well, but you can afford greater quantities of better wine, which helps you forget about your failing eyesight. Where God closes a door, he opens a window.

And Just Like That My Calendar Feels Like 2019

The pandemic. Am I right? I lived the vast majority of my life never using that word. I vaguely remember reading that word in history books once or twice before I hit 20, but that was as much as my brain ever considered a pandemic an actual thing. In the past two years, however, I don’t think I’ve gone an entire day without mentioning it. Honestly, I am sick of the word. Sick. O. It. I am almost as sick of the word as I am of not having a day alone in our house, watching my hands bleed from relentless hand washing and sanitizing, running out to buy more hand lotion, wearing masks, hearing people complain about wearing masks, getting vaccines, hearing people complain about getting vaccines, taking Covid tests, hearing people complain about taking Covid tests, and trying to explain how science works to others and remind myself about it, as well.

I know. I know. We are not out of the pandemic. (There’s that word again). No one has any idea when we might be out of it. So we are in limbo. We’re going on a cruise next month. At least, we think we’re going on a cruise next month. It all depends on whether we can manage to stay Covid-free between now and then, even as cases are on the upswing again. Now, if this was 2021, I’d say that would be no problem. We’d just hole up at home and skate our way onto the cruise with a clean bill of health. But this isn’t 2021. It’s 2022, and 2022 is apparently 2019 again. No masks. No crowd size limits. No restrictions whatsoever. It’s a free-for-all. Everything is back up and running. Sold out playoff hockey games. Sold out concerts. Parties. Dining out. It’s all back, baby. And we are here for it. We are SO here for it, so ready to be here for it, that our May calendar is packed. No lie. Here is is.

Oh, wait. I have one free day on 5/23. Woot!

As you can see from the tiny dot underneath every date (save 5/23) between now and May 31st, we have something going on every day between now and the end of the month. I plan to keep the 23rd open for the nervous breakdown I will be having. Why is our calendar so full? Well, let’s see. There’s senior prom and all our usual appointments for therapy and haircuts and doctor’s appointments and the like. Then hubby and I are flying to Pasadena to see a concert, booked a million years ago before we had anything on our calendar. We get back late on Sunday night and then Monday I load a different, pre-packed suitcase in the car and drive to Washington to pick up oldest son from his sophomore year at college and then drive the 1,085 miles back home across five states. Then it’s our youngest’s 19th birthday. Then there are graduation parties for friends’ children and more events for our own son’s graduation. We are going to another sold out concert (in our city this time) on the 24th. The 27th is my damn birthday, but that should be low-key because hubby and I are in class that entire weekend trying for get scuba certified. Then it’s basically June, and we have graduation practice and will have family in town. Then it is graduation and woohoo! We’re almost done! But we aren’t because we are hosting a graduation party for Luke and his friends. Then on the 6th we have to clean the house for the house/dog sitter, buy dog food for our security beasts, shop for what we need for the trip, find our passports, pack, get Covid tests to prove we can take the trip, upload results of said Covid tests to the Celebrity Cruises web site so they will let us board, and get on a plane to Rome on June 8th. Did I mention we still have a puppy who is, well, a puppy and a senior dog who is, well, not exactly a puppy? What the hell was I thinking? Finish strong and you can collapse on a boat? They have limoncello and ouzo where you are going? Hold on, sister. You can make it. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

I realize this is a lot of sniveling from a white woman with an embarrassment of riches in the areas of wealth and good fortune, but it’s my full calendar and my introverted, whiny butt will complain about the lack of quiet, sit-in-bed-all-day time if it wants to.

Just please don’t remind me that in 2020 and 2021 I begged for my life to be, and I quote, “back to normal,” because of course I did. Who wasn’t wishing for that same thing after being stuck at home with spouses and children and pets for months on end? We all wanted out. Now we’re getting what we asked for. Don’t remind me I did this to myself. Of course I did. Be kind and please say a silent prayer to Jesus or Allah or Vishnu (or even the Flying Spaghetti Monster God of Pastafarianism) that my heart holds out, at least until we get to Santorini. Then I can die, exhausted, happy, and at peace at long last in an ouzo haze.

Puppy exhibiting how I can attempt to hide from those dirty obligations and celebrations

When The World Is Running Down, You Watch South Park and TikTok Until Your Brain Melts

It’s been a week, and it’s only Wednesday. I had thought about writing out a long missive about why reproductive choice is crucial and what a shame it would be if the United States decided to adopt the reproductive policies of places like Egypt, Iraq, or the Philippines, but every time I start to think about it I just get angry and then sad and then angry and then sad. So, tonight, in need of an escape from the atrocities around the world and the insanity here at home, I pulled out the big guns. I watched a couple hours of South Park. And then I rewatched this video on TikTok like fifty times.

Sometimes you just need a couple hours of universally offensive, poorly animated characters killing Kenny or an inane TikTok challenge to take you out of the dark places in your mind.

All The Small Things

Steve with his remote

My husband and I have been together 28 years, married for 26 of them. When you know someone as well as we know each other, keeping things fresh and fun can take some work. One way I like to keep my husband on his toes happens periodically when we are watching television. We use an Apple Siri tv remote. We have a family account with Apple, and it is linked to my Apple ID. So, when Steve starts searching for a show to watch using our remote, the Apple remote app on my phone opens up. It’s easier to enter your search via the text function on my iPhone, so sometimes I do that. And sometimes, just for fun, I mess with Steve while he is laboring to enter his search using the remote to execute the awkward right-left scroll through the alphabet.

Messing with his mind

For as many times as I have done this to him, it can still take him a surprisingly long time to realize why his remote is not doing what he is trying to make it do. There he is, busily scrolling, laboring to enter a search for a video on YouTube, and I hijack the whole operation with my fast-texting thumbs. Sometimes I simply erase what he has entered. Sometimes I enter complete gobbledygook. Sometimes I type messages like, Hi Steve, so he figures out what is going on. I should tell you he finds this whole game not nearly as amusing as I do. I smirk quietly to myself as I am doing it, waiting for him to catch on. When he finally does, I laugh out loud. I am a hoot.

It’s a harmless, small thing I play at. I know it’s not very nice, but it cracks me up. The world is a mess right now. This little thing brings me joy, and I know he wouldn’t want to deprive me of joy. And if I die first, I know someday he will be using a remote to search for something and he will remember my game and miss me. He probably won’t miss having to enter his search fourteen times, but I bet he will smile at the thought of it, anyway.

Baaaaaaaad Daddy

Serious zoom on this image because I was maintaining my more than 25 foot distance

Went on a hike with a long-time friend this morning. And, when I say hike, in this case it was more of a walk up a service road in a canyon near our home. Waterton Canyon is well known around here for the bighorn sheep that live on the rocks above the river. It is rare for me to be in this canyon and not see the sheep. They were farther up today than where I usually see them, but we came upon one large male and five youth males, so it was a good sighting. We even witnessed one little guy show off with a twisting leap off the ground. They are already losing their winter coats, which is a sure sign spring is here.

The adult male seemed like a stereotypical father in charge of the kids. When we spotted them, he was sitting quite casually on the road, his back turned to the young ones while they played on the rocky wall behind him. You could almost hear the momma sheep chiding him for his lax parenting.

“Really, Baaaaab? You let them play on the rocks alone? What on earth were you thinking? I can’t trust you with anything!”

Baaaad parenting, Baaaaaab!

Help Wanted: Tall, Handsome Man For Unpaid Position

The planting has begun

Gardening. It’s something many people enjoy. I am not one of those people. I would love a beautiful flower garden, but not if I have to be the one to plant, weed, prune, and water it. I also have zero desire to grow my own food when there is a perfectly serviceable grocery store nearby. While I am adamant about no pesticides in my yard, I am also against pests in my yard. If I’m out digging in the dirt, I’m sure to run across some worms or spiders or other creepy crawlies. No thank you. If I could manage to garden without seeing bugs, I still wouldn’t do it because dirt is, well, dirty, and if you’re outside gardening you’re also outside getting hot and sweaty. If I am going to get hot and sweaty outside, I prefer to be sitting in a lounger at a pool.

Once a year, though, because we haven’t yet won the lottery yet despite my husband buying tickets more often than he should, I use my brown thumbs to drive to Home Depot to buy mulch. Then I go to a garden center and pick up plants to replace the perennials that weren’t and put some petunias into planters so I can complain about having to water them every day until mid-September. This is a ritual that I carry out through gritted teeth, while cursing my allergies to all of the outdoors. (Seriously, I am allergic to all the trees, grasses, and weeds that grow here.) I continue to pray that someday a tall, handsome man will show up at my house and offer to take care of my yard and grow flowers for me just because he thinks I’m amazing. If this tall, handsome gardener man does materialize, Steve will have to learn to live with him. And, before you say anything, I did offer to interview Steve for the position of tall, handsome gardener man, but his application is currently under review because he isn’t willing to work for free.

Until a gardener has been acquired, I will continue to bitch about planting, watering, and weeding every stupid spring because, as Bobby Brown so eloquently put it back in 1988 and all my fellow Gen Xers know, it’s my prerogative.

Polly Purebred Needed Underdog Tonight

Trivia is hard

I missed Underdog’s theme song

Polly Purebred failed

Me and my sisters and mom about 33 years ago

We went to our neighborhood trivia night with four other couples from our amazing block this evening. In the grand scheme of trivia scoring, the most important questions are the double-dare guesses at the end of a round, where correct answers score you double points. I guessed one double-dare question right, but we didn’t put the answer down because I had doubts about whether I was remembering the correct Star Trek movie with a brash, young James T. Kirk. (For the record, I never have doubts about Chris Pine. Sigh.)

Then, on a clutch, bonus-round question about a theme song to a classic television show, I totally choked. The theme song lyrics ended up being from the Underdog cartoon show from the mid 1960s, which shouldn’t be a big faux pas because the show aired four years before I was even born. But, in college at the University of Colorado, I was gifted the name Polly Purebred, after Underdog’s reporter girlfriend. I never did nail down if I got that nickname because of my blonde hair with bangs or because I was a writer. I liked to think it was because I told people my ancestry was 100% Polish and, therefore, I was a purebred and not a typical US, melting-pot mutt. I have no idea why I ended up with the sobriquet Polly Purebred among my then boyfriend’s roommates and friends (I may not want to know, either) but, in any case, I missed the question tonight, and that took us out of contention for a prize. I am hanging in my head in shame. Now, I need Underdog to fly in with his red cape and save me from my humiliation.

Underdog, help!

I just hope my neighbors let me play trivia with them again on another Wednesday night. I swear, I am a lot of things, but I am not a dumb-blonde dog who constantly needs rescuing.

Is That All There Is?

Some call this puppy jail. Ruby calls it peace of mind.

When we brought our corgi puppy home late in September, we knew our older dog, Ruby, would be against the whole sordid scenario. To ease her (and him) into the transition, I purchased a large, plastic corral to serve as a temporary border. It was, indeed, meant to be temporary. Turns out it has taken our senior dog much longer than anticipated to adjust to her new, four-legged housemate. For months, she avoided walking near the pen after its inhabitant lunged at the corral, causing it to shift a couple inches closer to her. Because Ruby is in kidney failure and has bad days, we decided that she deserved control of the majority of the main floor. Loki remained in his pen except for the few times a day we would allow a 20-30 minute, spirited “play session” (read: practice the “drop it” command while attempting to retrieve from the puppy all the items he has sloppily pilfered with his mouth). During the Loki free-for-all, Ruby enjoyed the spa-like comfort of our closed bedroom with the knowledge that she was safe from the chompers of the small, furry landshark we had brought home and inflicted upon her without consent.

In March, once Ruby had finally acknowledged that Loki was here to stay (the horror), we began letting them co-mingle for periods of time with supervision. Ruby spent most of those moments snarling and snapping as Loki attempted to play with her. Loki, completely unfazed by her snarls because he innately understood she would not harm him, continued to annoy the hell out of her. The humans in the house have grown accustomed to the sounds of Ruby telling Loki, not so politely, to f**k off, and Loki continuing to press the issue because how dare anyone not acknowledge the power of his cuteness.

A month and a half into the co-mingling experiment, things are beginning to calm down. Loki is starting to understand that Ruby will tolerate him if he stays out of her face. And Ruby is starting to acknowledge that having another four-legged around is not entirely horrific. She will even approach him when he is sleeping and flop down within a two-foot radius of his resting figure. Two feet appears to be the minimum distance for safety in Ruby’s mind. Loki now is able to remain out with Ruby for hours. The pen has become the place we put him when he needs to chill for a moment. We are trying to acclimate him to life on the outside and hoping he will learn to settle.

Today, though, I noticed something different in Loki’s demeanor when he was out and about. He was mostly avoiding Ruby, walking from closed door to closed door (he doesn’t have full house access yet), and looking curiously at everything. It felt like he was settling into the pace of life here on a Saturday morning. Then he seemed to get a little lost, as if he isn’t sure what he’s supposed to be doing to amuse himself now that he has a lot bigger enclosure than he is used to. He sniffed at his basket of toys, but seemed uninterested. He would approach the sofa where I was sitting, collapse into a sploot in on the floor, and then a minute later get up and go back to wandering around. He was antsy and seemed dissatisfied somehow. I couldn’t figure it out. He couldn’t wait to get out of his pen and then at one point I looked over at him and saw something that felt distinctly human about his behavior. As he sat there in front of the coffee table, his head swiveled and surveyed the room. He looked forlornly at me, and I swear I could almost hear him thinking, “Is that all there is?”

After all the time he has spent in the pen, wanting to be free on the outside, now he is on the outside and he doesn’t get what the excitement was about it. It’s like he just now realized the entire house is actually a large pen. So he has his freedom, but it isn’t what he expected it would be. And this, of course, led me to The Shawshank Redemption because, maybe after all that time with restricted access, he now isn’t sure he can survive on the outside. I wondered if he was thinking of ways to wreak havoc so we would pick him up and deposit him back into the safe space he has had for six months.

“There’s a harsh truth to face. No way I’m gonna make it on the outside. All I do anymore is think of ways to break my parole, so maybe they’d send me back. All I want is to be back where things make sense.” ~Ellis (Red) Redding, The Shawshank Redemption

So, we put him back in his pen, he settled onto one of his comfy blankets, and fell right asleep. Everything made sense again.