Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What Happened to April?

If the wind isn't blowing, you're not in Wyoming. The snow finally melted and the grass is beginning to green with all the rain, but the wind here is constant, blizzards or blooms, prying open doors, depositing a fine, silty grit on windowsills, making the loose license plate on Monte's front bumper creak and rattle.

As I left the plant tonight, I waited to see the automatic gate come down; sometimes during a strong wind it hovers midway, bounces a little, and opens again. It stuck halfway, so I put the parking brake on and walked back to pull it down, clawing the chain link like I was climbing it, the wind whipping my hair and wrapping my hood around my face. As I returned to my waiting truck I noticed a figure standing at the end of the cul de sac, in the brush several yards down the hill, facing out over the town with arms flung wide against the wind. I got in the truck and leaned forward to watch the show as he swung his arms and tossed his head back, spinning Fraulein Maria-style, apparently singing or shouting, blue plaid flapping, cap in hand.

For a minute I wanted to join him, but I needed to mail Mom's birthday card by 5 so it will make it there tomorrow. I ran several errands, came home and made hummus. I've been trying to buy less prepared and packaged foods and fix things myself, not because of the cost but because it's the way Grandma and Mom used to do things. I peeled and sliced carrots instead of buying the bagged baby carrots, which don't actually taste like carrots anyway. I like the clink and swish of the loose blade on the peeler. It reminds me of Gram and dinnertime chores on Topaz Street years ago.

Puck is still in the hospital; one plastic component in the parts kit Glen ordered arrived broken, so he had to order another, and was very apologetic. (A: "You're putting plastic in my transmission?" Glen, man of few words: "Yeah.") It's been almost three weeks, and even if the parts came in whole, the mechanic's wife had a baby today, induced, I think. As Glen suggested, I called Tim to see about a loaner so I can make a much-needed art supply pilgrimage to Utah, but he was as unpleasant as usual, insisting that the only loaner they offer, a '96 Bonneville with 166k miles on it, not be taken out of town for insurance reasons. I thought about appealing to Dave, who would certainly loan me a used car off the lot, but M offered the Pontiac -- now a collecter's item! -- and Mom offered to copilot. As usual, my family takes care of me. But I miss my car more every day.

Funny, before I got a brand new car (almost a year and a half ago! How is that possible?), I was self-conscious in Monte. He's getting awfully rusty and occasionally backfires loudly when I decelerate, and he's so square that he's susceptible to strong gusts and tips threateningly. The front right fender and bumper still bear the scars of my National City, CA head-on with a Pontiac in 2000, dents and cracks and a missing bumper cap. The windshield took a rock in construction the day after I replaced it last (an owl shattered it on HWY 189 one winter night) and split three ways, the cracks traveling a little farther every time I blew hot air on the brittle winter glass. The remnants of an Imperial Beach sticker and the glue from a Cartman rub-on dirty the back door, and my Browning fishing pole never leaves the dash, which is sticky from the oily fluid that leaked out of my altimeter one year. The speedometer needle is in pieces in the bottom of the round window and the cable buzzes no matter how much grease I apply. Monte, who has 240k miles on him, would make it to Utah, but he would do it at no faster than 60 mph, even on the freeway, and I'm afraid it would be dangerous.

But now that I've been driving around in a brand new car for so long, somehow I've forgotten to wonder what people think when they see the rusty little white refrigerator barrelling down Front Street. Monte, as I've mentioned before, is hella fun to drive. He's not as easy on gas as Puck is, but he's not as bad as the Caddy is. I've listed her on Craigslist.com but have only gotten responses from scammers so far. I'm going ahead with some purchases I was putting off until I got her sold because I've delayed so long I've managed to save up for things I planned to use the money for.

We're swapping shifts this weekend, so I get four whole days and begin the Tuesday through Saturday shift on the 12th. I'll miss Sundays and Mondays with Jeff, but it'll be good for Robbie to get to know him better, and honestly, I could use the peace of two days a week without the boss around. We've been going at such a breakneck pace since Jeff took over in October that I've hardly had time to think; it's one project after another, usually overlapping in twos, threes, even fours. The research for most of these projects gets done Sundays and Mondays, along with a lot of exhaustive administrative stuff, reports and EPA things, and it's a lot of thinking. Jeff's gratitude and trust have been incredibly rewarding, and although I worry that he's becoming quite dependent on me, I like my job more now than I have at any time since the first year, when it was all new and amazing. The days fly by with only minor irritations and setbacks, and I've always loved problem solving.

We're planning to camp this weekend, rain or shine; if it's raining, said M, we'll sit in the camper and play Scrabble. If it's shining, we'll hike. We all have cabin fever. It was neither a particularly hard winter nor a long one, but all the same, it'll be heaven to stride across the prairie, through the brush, with the wind in my hair and the sun on my back. I'm ready for campfires and fishing and beer from a cooler, bandanas and meadowlarks and stale sleeping bags. I haven't seen a herd of antelope run for about seven months, and that will be a lovely sight, too.

Not only has it been crazy at work, but I've had a project of my own at home simmering since about November, and I've finally taken the first step, which of course proved to be much easier than I imagined, nay, feared. I'm figuring it all out as I go and as soon as I finish the first stage I'll post a link and explain. It's a money-making, creativity-spurring, potentially very rewarding project, and I'm still surprised that I even got started, let alone am doing well at it so far and truly having a ball. I hate to be so secretive, but I like for things to be a certain way and I don't like to share them until they get there. I'm waiting on some things in the mail and have a little more work to do. Be patient with me.

I suppose if I think about it there's a lot more news around here, mosty just oh thank God it's spring, but it was another long day at the plant and I sniffed way too much PVC glue configuring the plumbing for our new sample line. I thought about a long walk but it's looking more like a nap at this point.

It feels good to write. I should do this more often. Maybe the new schedule at work will enable that; like Jeff always says, a change is as good as a rest.

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