Monday, April 28, 2008

Elemental April

Monument at Boot Hill, Ogallala, NE.

We were stalked by some type of raptor during an evening stroll in Ogallala.

I love sitting around a campfire, so I bought a portable one.

Yes, that's right. 5,000 miles for Puck in about four months. 2,000 of that was trips to Ogallala, though.

Scary stairs at the hot springs.

Empty pool and hydrotube.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reality Bites

I've been out of town, then busy at work, then roasting marshmallows over an open flame, then out of town again, then sick. As. A dog.

I am still here.

I just need a moment to catch my breath.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tempest in a Teapot

I finally found spring. No matter that I woke up to a couple new inches of snow the texture of Elmer's glue. The wind is still cold but the air is lighter, the sunlight we do see is less watery, and the snow is disappearing, compacting even when it's not melting, shriveling away like the wicked witch, Elphaba, when Dorothy threw water in her face.

Is it the generation gap or just the difference in their personalities? Present Jeff and Travis with a problem, and Travis will come up with a solution that involves a minimum of four power tools, two phone calls, several pieces of raw lumber, a flammable liquid, three trips to the hardware store, and someone to stand there and watch (me). Jeff will solve the same problem while you think he's in the bathroom, using only a piece of baling wire, a sandbag, and maybe a bucket or an empty coffee can. He's also a big fan of zip ties.

The day Kitty arrived (nine years ago!) one of my friends brought her a rope made of orange and purple shoelaces braided together that has been her undisputed favorite toy. I've bought her furry toys and squeaky toys, scrunchy, catnip-laced, jointed feathery flashing wind-up toys and one of those round plastic tubes with a ball trapped inside that she liked for a while, but for the most part everything stays in a basket in a corner, and when she wants to play I'll find her dragging her rope around or crouching possessively on it in the hall, trying to get my attention. Throw the rope. Please throw the rope.

B.C. will occasionally attack the rope, but he'd rather chase the beam from a laser pointer or attack the cursor on this screen or make Kitty mad by licking her face. Mostly he just lays there and wants his belly rubbed. He's all guy. And possibly part dog.

I had this twelve-inch length of red round elastic cord that was tied in a bow around the tulips M gave me for Valentine's Day. (I can't throw this away. I might be able to use it. You'd think I grew up in the Depression.) It fell off the table one day and Kitty went berserk, pouncing on it and dragging it around, so I started tossing it for her. Anyone who has cats knows that twelve inches is not enough length to keep your hands safe from flailing, playing claws, so I tied it onto about four feet of pink thread (the color I use the least in my sewing kit). Both cats went nuts. It's too small to grip with paws and slides right between their teeth, and they have a hard time seeing it, whether because it's so small or because it's red, so it's all the more challenging. It's springy, so it moves faster than the rope, and their pupils get huge and their tails get puffy and they have head-on collisions and don't even notice. Hours of entertainment... for me.

I stood at the window of the old plant today and watched a fox in the sagebrush meadow below. I had been watching deer but when he started to make his agile way through the tufts of brush, he stood out so brightly against the white snow that I couldn't have missed him. He loped at a dog's silent, loose-footed pace on his black cat feet, red fur bouncing, listening, peering. He'd stop and crouch, bob twice, spring almost directly upwards, and plant himself face down in the snow, hind legs wheeling, tail spinning, and come back up with some morsel in his mouth, a vole or mouse. The pickings must have been good today, because he did this about every five feet and always seemed to come up with something. At one point he had two critters in his mouth and set them down to get a third, which he ate whole before picking the other two up again and trotting off.

Three of our interviewees toured the plant today, including the strong favorite, who commented on the wildlife and admired the ragged red tailed hawk whose office is the lone aspen in the meadow. Jeff liked that he seems to consider everything very carefully, but he's not slow. I found him very quick and engaged on the tour, observant and enthusiastic, if a bit overwhelmed. I was telling the great, slightly off color Elizabeth Taylor joke (how can I have been at the plant for three years and never told them that one?) later in the afternoon, after the tours were done, thinking that whoever they choose, it's going to be a while before we'll have this ease again, if we ever do.

I wish I could make of this season what I did when I was little. We lived on the side of a hill across from a sprawling, sloped park not fifty miles from here, and the melting snow meant a constant stream in the gutter in front of the house. I heaped stone dams and made twig rafts to run the rapids around miniature glaciers. (I didn't have many friends until Bekah came along, my very first kindred spirit, because the rest of the kids in that small town were very short on imagination. And I guess there must have been times when Morgan had better things to do than play with me, although she was a good sport, even after she started driving.)

I often miss being ten years old in the spring, those soggy, windy afternoons in the fast-fading light when all I had to worry about was getting my homework done so I could go out and not tracking mud when I came back in. Now I have to worry about not tracking mud into the new car I have to work to make payments on at a job that sometimes makes me want to scream. But it's a great car. And spring means I get to drive it. Fast. A long, long way. A thousand miles in a weekend. Again.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

New Tenants Abound

I wake up before the alarm and hear a familiar sound from upstairs.Thumpity thumpity thumpity bump crash. Thumpity thumpity thumpity... wait, that sounds like... but both Kitty and B.C. are on the bed. And then it hits me. The late-night stampeding. The jumping jacks, the grinding. These are cat noises. Kitty and B.C. play the popular cat game Herd of (thumpity thumpity) Wildebeests Stampeding Across the Serengeti all the time. I think Thumper has a cat.

That afternoon I glance up at his kitchen window, which opens out onto the slope of the roof about a foot above the gutter, and perched on the sill is a giant gray and white short-haired cat, more bulky than B.C., but not quite as long of spine and limb. He regards me for a moment from a wide, bony face, then yowls. It's a friendly, frustrated noise, as if he'd like to get better acquainted, but that first step is a doozy, lady.

For some reason the noises don't bother me so much anymore.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Room Temperature

Spring, Wyoming! Ur doin it wrong!

This was the type of week in which a series of unfortunate events just exacerbated the fact that winter isn't funny anymore, and yet it persists. I spilled coffee on B.C., put my contacts in the wrong eyes, broke both thumbnails below the quick in separate but equally painful incidents, endured more inconsiderate behavior from my neighbors, plowed through a water treatment course to get credit hours and rushed around to get my Level IV test application in (yes, it's that time again, but this is the last one!) by the deadline, and just generally had rotten luck.

According to April posts from previous years, apparently I've never liked this month, either. I'm annoyed by the soggy ground and rotten banks of filthy snow, the frequent flurries that pass through. It still isn't going over 30 degrees very often, and when it does, there's melting and mud to contend with.

But we've had some fun, a birthday celebration for M (32 on the 30th) and cruise planning (Alaska in August) and I've been giving Puck frequent baths. Brent and I will make an Ogallala run next weekend after 14 very long weeks apart, and I hope the weather cooperates.

I've been trying to paint, but I'm easily frustrated and my attention span is unusually anemic. Bud and Jeff interviewed six candidates this week for our new operator position and were pleased with four, so Travis and I will be hosting tours next week. They've been really good about including us in the hiring process, although I manage to muster up less interest every day. I trust them to pick someone who will fit in, and I have other things on my mind. I can't wait for the new person to be settled in and for this minor upheaval to be a distant memory so we can get on with our lives. It doesn't help that this position is completely unnecessary. Bureaucracy makes me ill.

I can't wait for something, anything. An asteroid. A circus. A movie I actually want to see. May. June. Or just next weekend. I'm not happy with today, and it doesn't seem too enthusiastic about me, either.