Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Weekend on the Snow

So, we spent the weekend snowmobiling, which was quite an adventure, and I'm in the process of writing that up. In the meantime, why don't you check out the photos?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Photos

One of my favorite photographs in the world, maybe because I'm missing her acutely these days. Gram (at our wonderful little old house on Topaz, the only house she ever owned) with the nameless Cat (his vet records said "Tiger" but we never called him that, and we had a neighbor who called him "General"), an incomparable creature, a cat who thought he was a dog or another human child. Mom found him in an alley in Kemmerer and we had him for 15 long years, even hauling him to California and back. He was the most delicious thing, rarely aloof like cats are and with a very human quality of compassion when one was upset and with a wicked sense of humor, a lot like Gram's. He was also a rag doll. He slept with us, he met me daily on my way home from school both in Kemmerer and in California. He explored our Imperial Beach neighborhood with Gram. He endured fleas. He fought with Bo. He had, literally, an orange stomach with black spots and the most wonderful, greenest, most human eyes. I'll find a better picture of his face somewhere.

On the Big Comfy Couch with Daisy the 100-lb. lap dog, back in December, with my crocheting bag.

We have nowhere near this much snow this year. These are from November of 2005.

Machine Shop ceiling at the Railyards.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Memory Lane II

I'm irritable and melancholy tonight. A good ski usually helps, but I like to be the first out after a new snow and the trail was pretty well abused by dogs and sleds and runners by the time I got there after work. The endorphins only lasted as long as I was swiffing along. I'm gritting my teeth like mad these days.

Saturday we drove to Mom's for the day -- which we should do more often -- and went to breakfast at the finally-opened Moondance Diner. The food is fairly unremarkable diner food, breakfasts liberally punctuated by the canned cheese sauce that sometimes does it for me, sometimes not, but it's worth it to visit for the decor. The original exterior, complete with colorful graffiti, panels the wall below the chair rail inside, and there's chrome and checkered tile and vinyl enough to please anybody, I should think. Pictures to follow.

We went to the storage shed in our continuing efforts to purge all the stuff we've been moving from place to place and storing in freezing, dusty sheds since we left Kemmerer in '92. We got a plastic tote full of board games (including Mom's original '40's Scrabble game with the smoothly worn letters), two boxes of stuffed animals (including one containing several of Mom's, one of which, a silky skunk with a red felt tongue and heavy brass zippered pocket, is about 50 years old), boxes with my ivy teapot and a serving dish, and a box labeled "A's papers. Storage." I expected to find a lot of schoolwork and badly executed watercolors. I should have known better. There was a lot of junk; I have always been a hoarder but I'm happy to say that I'm getting much better about it. But there were also treasures I'm glad I kept.

There are a lot of photos of the girls and I in California: Toni and Kym and Twinkie and Hope and everybody else at Halloween parties, school dances, goofing off at the beach or the mall, piled on Mom's living room floor while the boys lay draped over the furniture, weary and bedraggled on the band bus, being teased by the boys. There are lots of school pictures of my friends (and people I'm not sure were my friends) and a photo of the nearly leafless lemon tree in our backyard, simply loaded with lemons that were as sour as the day is long.

Among folders of music and stacks of photos from a busy high school band career, I found all the souvenirs I brought back from a month spent in Europe -- of course on a band tour -- almost 15 years ago. There's a letter from Larry (wait 'til you read it, you'll die laughing, and maybe you can explain it to me) as we parted in D.C. after 30 days spent inseparable, gawking, learning, laughing. Starving. (I lost about 15 pounds in 30 days because of all the walking -- we walked everywhere -- and because I never got up early enough for the continental breakfasts and only ate things I recognized when I did make it to meals, which were usually vegetables and fruit and chicken. I was leery of the meat.)

I kept a few sticks of Orbit gum (before it was available in the U.S.), tickets to Broadway shows in London, ferry passes from Amsterdam, receipts for ice cream in Munich and Venice and chocolate and jewelry in Switzerland, a large notebook in which I rather obediently but very vaguely recorded each days' events (I left a lot out but I remember more as I read between the lines), sugar cubes, buttons, hotel door keys (three plastic punched cards and one big square brass key), stickers and notes, and the sobering brochure from the concentration camp at Dauchau, Germany, and a few dozen postcards of my own from Paris and Lugano, the Louvre and Luxembourg Gardens. I am not a scrapbooker, but I intend to put these things together somehow; I have a great photo album from the trip, too, thanks to Mom.

Also we found postcards, mostly from the 1930's and 1940's and mostly from Grandma's travels or from her sister Angela in California. A good 70% are unwritten on, views of the Chicago World's Fair in 1934, views of tidy, bursting orchards, views of the Golden Gate Bridge and redwoods, many views of historic sights in Wyoming towns that may or may not still be intact. There are a few dozen postcards from Kathleen to Grandma (can you believe I kept those, KathBert?) from the last twenty or so years, and many from Grandma to me from the few years after we moved to California and before she joined us there.

Then there are the letters, written to and by Gram, sent to me or to Morgan or Jane. Newsy bits about family and friends back here at home, newspaper clippings on MacGuyver and the Yellowstone wolves, both of which I was obsessed with in my early teens, obituaries, poems (many about Wyoming, where she lived almost her whole life), ads, recipes. Some of them go farther back, almost a century ago, poems from the 1930's, an index card covered with Grandma's loopy sprawl in green pencil: a recipe and instructions for homemade beer.

Scraps of vintage Valentines, a 1929 graduation announcement from Rock Springs High School (I assume it's Gram's; she was born in 1910), a small black book with a travel journal from June, July and August of 1939, up the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts to Victoria, B.C. for another World's Fair, and in the back there's a list of Important Events of 1940. "Olson School closed May 3rd. Silver Creek School started May 6th. Very smooth term. Three smart, hardworking people. Pupils. Mothers were very nice." "Correspondence with E.H. ended in June. He was married Dec. 2." "Aug.- Thelma began wearing a diamond." (I have a picture of Thelma sitting with Grandma a few days before she died. Thelma died a year or two later. I wonder if Bekah or Larry or Twinkie will visit me a few days before I die? Or do you only keep friends who live within 100 miles? Thank God for blogs and Facebook.)

The poems! Several of the Depression-era poems feel remarkably current:

1938. Santa Clause & Aren't We All

The New Deal has ruined my business
I've lost my reindeer and my sleigh
My factory's surrounded by pickets
All my men are on the P.W.A.

A couple of dollars I've salvaged
I've bought a donkey decrepit and slow
So this year when you see me at Christmas
I'll be on my ass in the snow.

Very Much Too Much

Too many highways, too many cars,
Too many people behind the bars,
Too many much poverty, too much wealth,
Too many people in ill health,
Too many much politics, too much booze,
Too many wearing high-heeled shoes,
Too many spending their dough on gas,
Too many much talking of Europe's sass,
Too many living beyond their means,
Too many buying canned corn and beans,
Too many poets, too much prose,
Too many many girls without underclothes,
Too much buying goods on time,
Too many people don't save a dime,
Too much ball, too much play,
Too many politicians on big pay,
Too many taxes, too much spent,
Too many many folks spend every cent,
Too much fun, too much ease,
Too many rips in my B.V.D.s,
Too much reform, too much law,
It's the darnedest thing you ever saw.

Now tell me, is that not just so 2008? I miss Gram desperately. I miss her taste for the witty and tongue-in-cheek and the way she was solemn until work was done. No whistling. But she muttered constantly under her breath, usually when she exhaled. No one else seems to remember this.

On the back of one fine, sentimental ode to Wyoming I won't share here, I found the headline: Seabiscuit Leaves for Eastern Turfs, SAN MATEO, Cal. -- (AP) Charles S. Howard's great stake star Sea...

and above that was the bottom of the previous column, a trivial story on sports:
...Saturday morning and will be in uniform when the Yankees meet the Washington Senators that afternoon.
Ruppert is relieved and triumphant. Not only because the jovial Colonel likes to see his Yankees win, but because he has won, hands down, one of the toughest holdout battles in recent major league history.
When, on January 21, DiMaggio refused to sign the contract for $25,000, the Colonel didn't like it.
"Not a cent more," said the Colonel.

And do you know, I'm only halfway through the box.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Two Years in Review

Our new LG enV 2 cellular phones arrived yesterday, so I spent some time sending two years' worth of low-resolution pictures off my good old Motorola, the tired one with the scratched face and floppy hinge, the one with 1,830 hours (yes, hours) of calls logged since January of 2007. (For the curious, that's an average of 2.5 hours a day.) I'll miss it; I get so attached to things, especially things that spend every waking moment in my pocket, especially things that enable me to have an unlikely and extraordinarily relationship with a wonderful guy who is far away (and who sent me a giant bouquet of divine yellow tulips today). As Brent pointed out, we fell in love on that phone, so it's no wonder I'll be sad to see it go.

I take a lot of pictures with my excellent Olympus digital camera, but there are times when it's simply not practical to carry it even though it's the size of a deck of cards. So the thing about a cellphone with a camera is that it catches rather unusual moments, images at the times and in the places I don't have my camera. I saved 38 of the 200; it's a bit tedious to send them one at a time to Verizon's Pix Place website and then download them to my computer, so some I didn't bother with because the quality wasn't good, and others just weren't that interesting. Here are a few of those that made the cut.

A cruise ship (not ours) in Skagway Bay, Alaska, in August of 2008.

A tiny lizard I caught (and released) at the plant one summer afternoon.

I can't remember where I took this, but it's so beautiful it has to be Wyoming.

Robbie hauling a ladder in the second stage flocculator basin, drained for cleaning and maintenance last month.

Sulphur Creek reservoir, kayaking.

One of the City loaders dolled up for a parade.

B.C. curled up on my back in my old apartment in the basement. The kind of picture I only got because my phone was in my pocket, since I couldn't reach my camera without disturbing him. (That's just a green Tupperware cup in front of me. I was drinking Crystal Light and reading a magazine.)

Jeff sharpening a knife at the breakroom table.

Jeff and Bruce doing maintenance on a wellhead.

Big adorable Don (and wife Jo) at his retirement party when he left the State Hospital.

I didn't take this, somebody at Kate's texted it to me. That's the Strand Theater on fire in June or July of 2007.

Spring thaw on the Bear River 2007. So chocolate milk that we switched over to the reservoir for a whole month.

Molly groggy after one of numerous surgeries to remove a recurring tumor from her right front leg.

Sunset over Depot Square.

Marilyn on the family bus on our way to Greeley for Angie's senior recital at UNC, with her sister RaeDell's husband Ed in the background.

Mom in a purple hoodie and fishing lure earrings at RaeDell's cozy kitchen bar.

Cordale as a corny tween; I can't believe how much he's grown in two years.

View from the Windrivers, just after the chairlift at White Pine ski resort outside of Pinedale. You can see Halfmoon Lake on the left and the Jonah oilfield beyond.

Jeff stirs sludge with our little John Deere. Later those cattails clogged the sludge pump.

A clump of Indian Paintbrush, Wyoming's state flower, on E-Hill by the plant.

Brent with pool cue at Our Bar in Evanston.

An early picture of Hexagon.

A in ventilator and lab glasses; working with sodium hypochlorite is no joke.

Bruce in the break room in my fashionable sunglasses.

Jeffie cleaning the U.V. with a want that spins citric acid into the vessel.

Yellow roses in June; I don't always take the Olympus on walks, but I always have my phone.

Evanston's City cemetery from Red Mountain satellite tank, with the town and Twin Ridge beyond and a trailer park and my finger in the foreground. Nice.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Work in Progress

It's very hard to photograph wet paint, but you get the idea. This is the Palm Avenue taco shop in Imperial Beach that once provided me with the only food I ever needed. I've been trying to get my friends who still enjoy this luxury to pack a carne asada burrito in dry ice and FedEx it to me, but no one will cooperate. I'm enjoying Ken Auster's DVDs and can't wait until I get faster at this; right now I'm still far too detailed and I need to learn to loosen up. I'm not done with the storefront or, obviously, the street and sky, but I was having so much fun with the palm trees that I had to share this.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Well, it's official. I'm an Operator II, instead of an Operator I, and my next paycheck will be considerably larger, which is nice, because I'm spending a lot of money on art supplies these days. Jeff said he was glad to have been able to do this for me, and when I said I'd try to deserve it, he remarked that he wouldn't have done it if he didn't already think I deserved it.

We bumbled about doing annual maintenance Thursday, changing the oil in the big Quincy air compressors that drive all the automatic valves and our hydraulic sludge vacuum, checking the air filters in our giant blowers, greasing the flocculator motors (the bearings in one are starting to growl) and other chores. These are my favorite days at the plant, the nuts and bolts and crescent wrenches, the reassurance that belts are taut and springy and solid, that motors are full of clean, amber oil, that air filters aren't clogged with dust and grit. These are days of camaraderie and orderliness and purpose.

I'm not getting any studying done; I was going to retake my Level IV Certification Exam in March but there really doesn't seem to be any reason to now. It's not necessary to my job. And no, the promotion didn't change my mind; it just made my mind up.

The guy upstairs moved out, not the older fellow directly above me but the one who wasn't here very often, who had a habit of leaving gifts and New Year's champagne on my porch because I helped him out of a snowbank one midnight. I finally made it to my favorite hot spring Wednesday only to be chatted up by a weirdo with evey possible health problem and to find that they're really letting the facility go, letting mildew encroach in the locker rooms and letting concrete crumble around the tubs. I'm hoping they've got a major remodel planned for this spring but you never know. I sat in a pool that was 104°F until my head started to spin and then I drove home.

And that's about the way things are going. I'm sketching and enjoying this incredibly mild winter, even hoping we get some promised snow this weekend because I've been trying to ski on the golf course and there's just not enough snow left. Today was one of those days when I went out to run errands; the building supply store can't cut birch panels to my specifications, I got stuck in the automatic car wash when the door wouldn't open after it was done, as soon as I arrived at Wal*Mart (I have no CHOICE, people) it became insanely busy with the worst type of downwardly mobile patrons.

I told the girl at the salon that I wanted my bangs at eye level so I could sweep them to the side, and she trimmed them so short that they just graze my eyebrows, but upon further experimentation I've decided it's OK. I can still sweep them to the side but they're sort of cute down over my forehead in a trendy and rather juvenile way, and besides, there's no point freaking out because you can't put them back and they grow out in two weeks anyway. We're all ordering new cell phones and we've settled on Blackberry Pearls, which are compact and busy and luckily have no hinges. I'm hard on hinges. I'm hard on lots of things, especially carpet, and I neglected to vacuum in January. That's the type of month it was.

But so far, February has been showing a lot of promise, and tonight is the belated Chinese New Year parade downtown. The defending champion of the rickshaw races apparently couldn't come back from North Dakota until this weekend. Imagine living in a town that schedules public events around one person! A person who doesn't even live here anymore! That's the kind of town I live in. Just imagine. It would drive you crazy, too.

Gung hay fat choy, indeed.

Monday, February 02, 2009


I love seagulls. If it weren't so corny I'd get a seagull tattoo.

Games People Play

The Sleeper

I have a thing for big lizards. I do not have a thing for people without imagination. Every one of these children is me.

Dad would have been 66 yesterday. How to celebrate? Football. A long, speedy drive. Good times. Noodle salad. Dad was possibly the most uncomplicated person ever, and yet he was also complex. Complex people can be uncomplicated. You just let them do their thing.

Jeffie asked me today why people call him Jeffie. I should have said, "Because they like you." But the phone rang. I guess I'll start calling him Jeff, but when he's not within earshot, he's Jeffie. Because I like him.

Possibly Maybe We'll See

There's no doubt about it, I am a lucky girl. I complain a lot. I know that. But today Jeff turned in the request for a promotion we've been working on for a few weeks now. I would type a draft based on his notes, and he would take it home at night, have a few beers (he always thinks better -- and remodels better, and shoes horses better, and gets well better -- if he has a few beers in him), and think about it, and bring it back the next morning bleeding red ink profusely.

At first I didn't think I deserved it; I'm not the most confident operator, but it's mostly because I have a coworker that does everything he can, whether consciously or subconsciously, to undermine my confidence. But Jeff had a stack of notes on why I deserve to be an Operator II, and has a stack of notes on why said coworker will not be receiving a promotion to Operator III anytime soon. Even if they turn the request down, and they would have to have a very, very good reason to do so (and we can't think what it would be), just knowing that he thinks I am ready is enough for me.

They like stringing people along, you know, so it might be a few days before we know. And now you get to wait with me.