Monday, May 29, 2006


If it was yours, would you keep it?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Hey, Shamu! Over Here!


Friday, May 26, 2006

40 Degrees of Separation

Three hawks were halfheartedly hunting on the updraft over E Hill last Tuesday afternoon, drifting on breezes scented with my beloved blooming lilac and cottonwood and river water. After locking the gate to the plant behind me, I stopped to snap pictures of them circling over my head in long, lazy loops, looking for all the world like they were out for an afternoon stroll. It was as sunny and warm a spring morning as one could ever wish for.

Yesterday started out the same way, blindingly bright, new green leaves and blades sparkling everywhere. We drove to Rock Springs and celebrated Mark's outdoor graduation in wind so strong it slammed car doors and stole hats. Afterward, we fastened tubs of ivory and violet petunias down with bent coathangers, alternating in a row before the headstones of our family. The cemetery lies on a slope above the city where the wind races almost continually through stiff green grass. The day grew cold and gray and rain met us when we returned to Evanston after a blissful afternoon party.

This afternoon the bikers at the annual rally downtown are huddling dismally in the big tent at Depot Square, grills and bikes abandoned in the street between roadblocks. They are drinking beer and eating pizza, getting tattoos and telling big, tough biker stories. They are waiting for the wind to blow away the snow.

Welcome to Wyoming.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bad Move

So, this morning when my alarm went off I reached up and hit snooze, rolled over onto my right side with my right arm folded up underneath the pillow, and closed my eyes again. (Kitty was staring into my face from the next pillow, purring loudly. This is a part of our daily routine, but she seemed a little more alert than usual, bobbing her head and shifting her weight. Before my ten minute reprieve was up, I knew why.)

Just after drifting off, I felt something brush my face very gently above my right eyebrow. It tickled like heck and I reacted automatically, having lived in this basement for almost three years now: I smacked my left hand to my forehead and swept it towards the pillow- swiping something soft and tiny off my face.

I never found the hairy, balled-up spider body. I did find a miniscule, spiky, jointed leg on the pillow. The body must have fallen into the space between the pillow and the wall. I didn't go looking for it.

8,000 Words

Flowering Crab Apple

Snow Fence

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Beautiful World

Everything's Cooler in Multiples (Big Piney, Wyoming)

Lazy Fox


Sandhill Cranes

Mom's dream house (Merna, Wyoming)

Sawtooth Mountains (Windriver Range, Wyoming)

Rose's new hummingbird feeder

Speedgoats at Faler's (Pinedale, Wyoming)

The Art of Unmentionables

Blank Duck, Sightseeing Duck, and Sleeping Duck
(I later kidnapped Writing Duck)

Storm over Rock Springs, Wyoming

Badlands near Little America on I-80

Green River

Red Rocks in Green River, Wyoming

Wasatch Range (near Morgan, Utah)

Devil's Slide (Utah)

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Thanks for all the luck, folks. I did you proud with a 79 (out of 100- 70 is passing), and you wouldn't believe how hard I had to think. What, for instance, do you know about packed aeration towers and the VOC's they remove from drinking water? I had to track Bud down to tell him I passed. Good thing Kate's ("A Place for Libations and Conversations") is on my cellphone speed dial. (Bud: "How did you know to call me here?" And then a self-conscious chuckle. "Nevermind.") At any rate, I am so relieved that I'm celebrating with chocolate alcohol (double whammy!) and staring ahead at another stress-free year (I can't believe I have to do this two more times), and reveling in the prospect of some spectacular fun in Rock Springs tomorrow night, Pinedale Saturday, and Mom's Sunday. I'll be exhausted, and I'll love it.

I got home and found they're peeling strips of sod like green fuzzy fur from the park across the street and piling it in rolls in the bed of trucks. They are doing this because they are going to build a new elementary school where the park is now to replace the aging bomb shelter that is the current elementary school on the other block. This makes me incredibly sad, because there are softball games played in the summer twilight there, and the tink of the aluminum bat makes me smile. Also they hold P.E. class there when it's nice, and the kids laugh and run and make me smile some more, especially when they do that thing with the big colorful parachute. I had already heard about the proposed construction. But if I had known that the park would be leaving this summer, I'd have spent more time lounging on the grass last year.

At the laundromat last night I emptied the contents of eight pairs of jeans' pockets onto the top of the washer. Seven elastic hair bands, five lists (written on textured notepads made from screwed-up City letterhead: "City of Evanton") I probably never completed, about two dollars in change, and two tubes of lip balm. I brought a tiny bottle of "super concentrated!" All detergent and stood there staring at the quarter of a cup of thick blue translucent soap, wondering if that was really going to do the job. By all accounts, it did. Dispensing it into the second washer, I found I was pouring the blue goo through a membrane of soap over the surface of the lid, so as the soap filled the cup, a bubble grew up and drooped over the edge. I waited thirty seconds for it to pop and decided we'll have to try this stuff in Cordale's super bubble blower set this summer. I already have so many plans for these quick warm months.

Two tests down- two more to go. But I can relax for a little while now and maybe enjoy the hell out of the brief and glorious Wyoming summer. Maybe I can use some of those twenty days of vacation I've got piled up. Anybody up for a road trip or Vegas or some four-wheeling in the brush? A picnic. Hogle Zoo. Jetskis on Bear Lake, campfires, rain on blooming creosote and rabbit brush and sage. I kept falling asleep in the Taurus on the way home, even mid-conversation with Kendra and Tyler. Maybe because I've got a load off. Maybe because it was toasty in the backseat. It was at least 80 degrees in Green River today and after the test, while waiting for Kendra to finish, I sat in the backseat calling everybody and just soaking in the desert heat, getting up once in a while to smoosh my shoeprint in the melted rivers of tar on the asphalt with the phone pressed to my head.

I'm so glad it's over. I can't concentrate any more tonight, and I can't be creative. I'm sorry for the dearth of posts lately, and I can't promise to make up for it because there's a whole world out there to enjoy until it freezes over again. But Twinkie's married off and Jo's Hodgkin's prognosis looks hopeful and I've passed my Level II and the Renewal Ball poster is finished, framed, printed, and an unrelenting hit with the people who've seen it. We'll have a rolling/tying party Tuesday at James and Julie's and be done with it and all have a wonderful time at the ball (no dancing, no princes), and that, my friends, is the happy ending you've been waiting for.


My Level II Water Treatment Certification Test is in five hours. I know you've all wished me luck, but please- do it again.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Three Dollar Tip

Abbagayel Betsy

The bike I learned to ride on- Morgan, too, I think.

A (Feeling Green on the Second Story)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Last night I dreamed about a conversation I suppose I’ve been subconsciously scripting for some time now. The dream lapsed, evolved, and ended poolside in Vegas on a dry desert afternoon hotter than most people find bearable (it felt heavenly to me), with my favorite hat and sunglasses, a good book, tanning oil, and pleasant company. The visual of that scenario was long gone by the time I woke up, but I could still smell sun-baked wet concrete, chlorine, and UV rays diffusing the fabric softener from my towel.

I arrived at work this morning to find Jeff and Bud in exasperated postures before the computer, which might have been carved out of granite for all the interaction the screen offered them. The figures that usually fluctuate every 1.5 seconds were frozen in unlikely values, and one had been entirely replaced by red ampersands in a row. We pulled fuses and fiddled with switches, changed out PLCs and called our IT guy in Kamas, but without being able to look at it, Gary didn’t have many suggestions. He said he’d call the manufacturer and get back to us.

“While you’re looking at monitors,” said Bud, “go look at mine. I turned it on and off all day Saturday but I think it’s finally shit the bed.” (It’s been so blurry lately we can hardly read I went into his office and saw the orange ‘sleep’ light on his monitor. I jiggled the mouse: nothing. I put my hand on the top of the black Dell tower under the desk: nothing. I pulled the tower out and powered it on, and it happily booted up. It must have shut itself off during the power outage Friday night, even though the generator kicked in instantly.

When Bud and Jeff went to lunch I went back to the power cabinet and turned the switch from Run to Remote to Program and back to Run. The fault light cleared and sure enough, when I got back to the control room the flow and pH numbers were rolling over and over again, and the ampersands were gone, replaced by probable figures on each filter and the correct effluent turbidity, which I had been monitoring in the lab. Bud walked in five minutes later and I swiveled the chair to face him. “I guess we’re back in business.”

“How did that happen?” He looked ready to cry.

“It doesn’t matter because it probably won’t work next time.”

“I need a vacation.”

Me too, Bud. Me too.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Exotic Dancers