Monday, November 28, 2005

Life Without Lenny

Thanksgiving in Rock Springs was as pleasant as always, and only slightly melancholy for two reasons: it was probably our last Thanksgiving in Cheri and Gordon’s house (the place that most comfortably accommodates thirty or more), and because it was the first celebration without the last great matriarch of our remarkable family. (Incidentally, I’m preparing an essay on why my mother’s people are so freaking wonderful.) My sister and I went north after dinner and spent all day Friday in our pajamas on Mom’s couch, watching TLC and Harry Potter movies. Saturday Morgan and I climbed up the Green River to Pinedale, where we dutifully hauled Christmas decorations and shoveled snow. Rose was in as good a mood as I’ve seen her in months, mellow and conversational and glad to see Beau, who’s been staying with Mom while Rose trips around the state doing political things. According to my calculations, Beau is nearly sixteen, and his kidneys are failing. He was Grandpa’s favorite pet, a fluffy gray and white Manx with leaf-green eyes and a winning bunny-hop saunter, due to malformed hips. Rose will be giving up her post as mayor this spring, after almost two decades of able service to the people of the town and all of Sublette County, guiding them through the economic upheavals of oil, population, and tourism booms. She is looking forward to writing her family’s history and enjoying her titanium knee. Saturday night the Cadillac and I faced and conquered the three winter trials of Highway 189: Round Mountain, the Suzy Curves, and the Second Sister. I also made the uncomfortable discovery that the heater in the Cadillac isn't working very well, not very well at all. (Update: Mr. Goodwrench replaced my thermostat tonight, which was stuck open. He also installed the JVC CD player Oscar gave to Kelly, who kindly gave it to me after they sold the van, since the new Pontiac and Chevy both have CD players already. Written in black magic marker on the bottom of the stereo case is the name Juan and there was a Banda CD in it, which will look great on my Christmas tree.) I rolled into town Saturday night on fumes (307 miles on 15.34 gallons, you do the math) and paid $1.87 per gallon for gas (suckers!) at iFuel. (I have a friend who automatically snarls “whore!” whenever I taunt him with the price of gas here in town. He lives in San Diego. Speaking of that guy:)

One of my oldest friends is hiding from the holiday in a bungalow on a drizzly beach on Fiji. If he had access to a computer, Lenny would probably be amused that he merited a post title, and it’s not even crisis-related. (“I’ve rear-ended a Porsche.” “Sorry I didn’t call back; I spent the night in jail.” “That’s right. This is the second time my place of residence has caught on fire.” I am not making these up. Lenny’s case history of bad luck makes a casino cooler’s life look charmed. And I really, truly hope it’s not raining on your vacation, buddy.) I’m the weird kind of friend who rarely calls people; I prefer they call me when they aren’t occupied. (If I never call you, this might be why. It’s not that I don’t like you; it just doesn’t occur to me to pick up the phone, unless I have a good reason. I suppose I just can’t handle the rejection if you’re too busy to talk to me, however harmless or well meant. Neurotic? Yes.) A few people in my life actually call me nearly every day, despite this one-sidedness, and Lenny is one of them. So two whole weeks sans Lenny seems quite strange, and I miss having somebody to argue with.

Actually, episodes like this only serve to jolt me out of complacence; I can’t believe how fast a week passes, two weeks, a month, a whole year. It seems like just a few weeks ago I was new at the plant. Now I’m doing the morning lab work so automatically that I don’t even remember cleaning Travis’ used DHP reagent packets out of the chlorine kit or refilling the pH solution. I vaguely remember wanting to throttle Bud for leaving my preferred glass turbidimeter vial laying on its side so a few drops of water dried in it and left a fine calcium residue; not enough for the naked eye to detect, but the sensitive turbidimeter, which is measuring the light reflected by particles in the water (or on the glass), is sure going to notice. It reports fingerprints and paper dust from the lab towelettes, too. Our effluent (outgoing) water is .02 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units) right now. That’s almost as close to perfect as you can get without distilling water, and aren’t we proud? Darn right we are.

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