Friday, February 08, 2008


I shoveled the driveway yet again before I went to ski this afternoon, and at one point just stood and stared at the miraculously unscathed left side of my car. The canyon between the ridges where my tires pack down the snow before I can shovel it away is getting so deep that pretty soon I'll be able to stand up underneath the car to change my oil.

The Purple Sage golf course is quite hilly, much more so than the golf course I grew up skiing on in Kemmerer (which now boasts that it's the only course in the continental U.S. with two island greens), 50 miles away. I remember strapping skis on our feet on mild winter nights twenty years ago, Morgan and I following Mom's aqua blue gaiters in the moonlight as she broke a trail for us over the buried greens. She carried Lifesavers in her fanny pack and a leather bota bag full of water around her neck. For years I regarded cross-country skiing as a nighttime activity. It's the only time during any season in Wyoming when there's usually no wind.

Last night the wind roared, however, and this old house rattled as if it were in the teeth of a particularly aggressive dog. A strong gust knocked me to my knees in a snow drift at the plant yesterday, and I suppose the wind is why the parking lots and wider streets in town are amassing trucks even though there are shards of blue sky. (Yep. I just checked the WyDot website: I-80 is closed, 189 is closed, both citing blowing snow and slick roads.) Our cousin Tom, who drives a truck, lost control of his pup two nights ago and wrecked. He's okay because he was wearing a seatbelt, but it took four hours in surgery to put his left arm back together. Get well soon, Tom.

One time this summer I responded to an alarm at the plant around midnight and was surprised to find the wind blowing hard enough to shake the galvanized sides of the make-up air unit on the roof. It seemed incongruous, since summer nights here are usually still. It made me think of the Santa Ana winds on summer nights in I.B., hot winds that played across our bare arms and legs as five or six of us girls lay on our backs on the
cement floor of the open gazebo in the park behind the library, swapping secrets, oblivious to the lack of stars. For a time I forgot the number of stars that litter Wyoming skies at night. Later, after Mom and Dad and Morgan came back to Wyoming and I stayed in San Diego without them, I'd drive out into the desert at night to see the stars, away from the light pollution of the city. Now I can see them by the billions on any clear night in Evanston, and I rarely notice. (Of course, when I do, it takes my breath away.)

Mariah blows the stars around and sets the clouds a-flyin'.
Mariah makes the mountains sound like folks was out there dyin'.

Puck hit 2,000 miles today. 2,000 miles with no scratches or dents. He's been washed four times and already toured limited areas in three states, and there's still a greasy streak of goose guts from Ogallala across his hood. He's plowed through foot-deep snowdrifts without touching their tops and asserted his preference to not be plugged in, even when it's below zero. I love the heated seats. I love the heated rear-view window and the tiny wiper that clears a rainbow of glass. After the $2,500 down payment, I financed just over $16k for 36 months at 0% interest, but the $450 payments are rather irrelevant. What the heck else have I got to spend money on?

I was reviewing a budget worksheet on my favorite financial website once and actually laughed out loud when I saw the blank labeled "Entertainment." In Evanston? Are you kidding? $5.50 for a movie once every six months and $12.00 for three mixed drinks twice a year (assuming the guys let me buy my own)? I don't need a line item for that. I'd even be willing to pay to rent library books if they had a decent selection.

I don't recall what I spent on entertainment in San Diego. $5.00 pizza at La Bella's with the girls every other week usually included a show (a gang-related shooting on the Chula Vista sidewalk), we splurged on a $30 event at the Lyceum or Civic Center or Soma's every other month, $25 memberships to two museums every year, $20 at Sycuan or Barona with Tonetta occasionally.
I'm not much of a gambler. Movies were $8.00 at that weird theater in Mission Valley that always had what we wanted to see. I didn't go to clubs or bars very often and Lenny usually bought when we did, and a Bud Light at Mickie's was still $3.00 and I could nurse that through two lackadaisical rounds of pool. A Milky Way latte at I.B. blends cost $3.25 and I did that maybe once a week, a drive up the Strand and around Coronado and over the bridge only cost gas, and it was still under $1.50 a gallon. We played laser tag or paint ball maybe once a year at $15 or so with equipment rental. Disneyland once a year only cost $35-$40 because Tonetta or Mary got discounted tickets at the Navy commissary, and Mary was working at SeaWorld and generously slipped me guest passes to come in and feed my eternal favorites, the stingrays. (Have you ever fondled a stingray? You have to do it before you die. It's one of the most amazing sensations in the world. They're spongy.)

But mostly our fun was free or ridiculously cheap. We spent a lot of time in or out of the water at the beach or just people-watching at Seaport Village or Horton Plaza, San Diego's delightful multi-level outdoor mall, where I guess we rarely bought anything other than a drink to validate our parking pass. The week leading up to Halloween was chock full o' free fun or offered frightful horrors for a few bucks. Gay Pride parades in Hillcrest were free, the Chili and Jazz festival in I.B. and the International Sandcastle Competition (which included a parade -- San Diego, come to think of it, is really big on parades) were too, and $5 entrance fees to things like the Comics Convention weren't that hard to scrape up. Occasionally I worked that event when I was temping for S.O.S. so I got in for free. I also got to see baseball games from the field (which is, in fact, Santa Ana bermuda grass), doing security at Qualcomm (which was still Jack Murphy Stadium) during the Padres games, long before PETCO Park. Wow, how did I get off on this tangent? My life was not as limited than as it is now, is what I was getting at. And we were college students working for minimum wage, struggling with rent for the first time. We didn't have the expendable income I do now.

(Thinking about other things we used to do in San Diego, I Googled the El Cajon Speedway, a 3/8 mile track east of San Diego where Dad and I went on Friday nights to watch rowdy stock car races when he came to visit, and found that it was closed and demolished in 2005 when the private lease expired. Another of my favorite things, gone.)

Speaking of expendable income, I accidentally budgeted for my $275 rent twice in February, and found the error on my Excel spreadsheet this morning. An extra $275! That's a round-trip plane ticket. That's just under 8 tanks of gas. That's a day of pampering at Cameo spa for 3 gals. (Any takers?) For me, that's almost two months' worth of groceries. That's halfway to another road trip to San Diego. That's going in the Alaska fund for our cruise in August.

Wow, where did 4:00 come from? I meant to get so much done today. I have a date with the first row of machines at the laundromat, and I think Puck, having narrowly escaped disfigurement yesterday, deserves a hot bath at the Auto Spa.


Blogger Doolin said...

I could probably still hook you up with Sea World Tickets!! Some of my friends there are about to get their 10yr pin!!

Anyhoot, if your thinking about getting out of the snow your welcome to come down to Tucson for a visit!! There's no snow here, except for the occasional snow up at Mt. Lemon. I wouldn't mind the company, friggin bored as much as you are. We could go to Tombstone, caverns, mt. lemon, hiking....anyhoot...don't let your cabin fever get too bad!

February 9, 2008 at 8:17 PM  

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