Sunday, December 02, 2007

All the Things in the World

So winter finally arrives in earnest, cold and gray and so dry my papery fingertips can't tug the next grimy card from the bottom of Butch's tattered, taped old deck from the front desk of the old plant. My hair is stick straight and the skin on my nose peels like it's been sunburned; I can't feel my feet for days at a time and the cats have so much static in their fur that they crackle when they roll on the carpet, and trails of blue sparks explode beneath my hand when I pet them in the dark. After winter in Wyoming, nuclear winter would be a cakewalk. You all might be wiped out, but we high desert westerners will survive, nicely acclimated. Just the Wyomingites and the cockroaches.

Heaven help me, I still love hearing Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas" on the radio. I hate Elvis's "Blue Christmas" and "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses. I'll take Clint Black's "Milk and Cookies" over either of those any day.

I can accept winter now, though, already a month late, and maybe it won't seem by April like winter is the long end of everything. November was merciful, dry but gentle through Brent's week-long stay over Thanksgiving. The excellent road conditions allowed us to pack him around southwestern Wyoming without worry, hitting a few of the family strongholds and adding 10 hours to his 28-hour round trip from Kansas City. He bore both family scrutiny and Official Dog Inspection and passed both with flying colors, and despite the cold he picked out a perfect Christmas tree for me during our Thanksgiving foray into Bridger-Teton National Forest. The day after Thanksgiving we all enjoyed coffee on Mom's back porch in delightful sunshine, not even thirty degrees and pleasant as a spring afternoon.

And once again I'm reeling, recoiling from the commercialization of Christmas in America. It's just grotesque. And on top of that, now I'm all worried about lead, because everything, but practically everything sports that tiny gold or silver oval chiming, "Made in China." A set of divine floral silver measuring spoons for Morgan bore the sticker and now I'm afraid to let her use them for baking. (I have to give appalled, sarcastic kudos to China for their policy to execute corrupt officials like Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the State Food and Drug administration, who accepted bribes to approve unsafe medication. If we did that here in the States, we'd wind up having to execute everybody whose name was ever on a ballot. Except for, you know, a few people who've run for school board.)

Life with even a few inches of snow is just that much harder, roads slick and clunky boots required (which track mud and snow into the plant and make the freshly waxed office floors and slick concrete halls treacherous), bottom inch of pants perpetually wet, thick-gloved fingers fumbling with keys in darkness that is never so complete in the summer. When on full blast, the heater in my truck messes with the reception of the four stations I get here, which really doesn't matter anyway because when it's cold the grommet in my speedometer buzzes so loudly that I can't hear the radio over it, anyway.

And it doesn't matter that the speedometer doesn't work, because last winter the orange plastic needle got brittle in the cold and shattered into a dozen pieces. I'm desperate for the new car (due here by December 17th at the latest, please God) but lamenting bringing it into this cold, cruel world. Still... Sirius®. Bring it on. I'll never have to listen to "Forgotten Oldie Friday" or "Disco Thursday" or "Mark and Bill's Excellent Rock and Roll Adventure" ever, ever again, or suffer through the too-much-talk morning shows on the Utah stations.

I'm glad for December, ready to quickly, efficiently navigate the holidays and get on with 2008. 2007 was extraordinarily good to me, but I can't see, after the last decade, why 2008 shouldn't offer even more in the way of improvements. 2007 was for wrapping up, making things official, confirming, reaffirming. Now it's time to move forward. Preferably at warp speed. Come on, December. Don't dally.

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