Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rocking Chairs

Lindbergh Field, San Diego, CA

Thursday, November 05, 2009

It Might Just Be a Mirage

Palm Springs never called, and that's OK. If you drew a line on a map from me in the southwest corner of Wyoming to all the places I've sent applications, you would have a veritable web, albeit a pretty lopsided one. But then, for all their love of geometric architecture, spiders don't seem to care much about symmetry.

One of those far-flung dots is Tempe (actually, I haven't yet submitted the application; I'm waiting for the state of Arizona to approve my reciprocal certifications in distribution and treatment; pretty soon I'll be certified in most of the western states), a suburb of Phoenix between the municipal airport and the suburb of Mesa.

I woke up one sunny morning in Mesa when I was less than ten; Morgan was stirring beside me, and out one window I could see a tree in the backyard (the other window looked out onto the the wall of the fire station). The tree was either dead or of a desert species that appeared especially menacing, because my overall impression was that this tree was haunted. Probably it was fall -- I don't know what holiday or occasion it was that found us there, but southern Arizona, as you know, seems summery year-round, hence its appeal for me -- and it had just been pruned, because its figure included only a rough-looking gray trunk with several blunt stumps of large amputated branches angling from its top with a few bare sticks in between. I think I avoided the scary tree whenever we were in Grandma's backyard, amongst the hot bricks and crisped weeds.

Dad's mother was undeniably gifted -- she was musical and creative, crafty with crochet hooks and knitting needles -- and most agreeable to us, if occasionally she entertained some very silly ideas and was rather a martyr to aches and pains and little complaints, but I can see how some people found her difficult. Not difficult enough to warrant avoiding her during the long illness that finally got her, if you lived as near to her as my cousins did, two blocks, but that's how they are; if I move to Tempe, those are not acquaintances I would wish to renew. That uncle was Dad's half brother, and I loved his father as much as I loved Dad's father. This is how I grew up with two grandfathers even though Mom's father died when she was only 11. A step-father was not as common in the 50's as it is now, but he was a good man and a good father to my own, and he was wonderful to me.

So I have family history in Arizona; Dad used to tell stories about drag racing on Indian School Road. He was born in Phoenix (or in what is now a suburb; I can't remember) and played football there in High School. Rose, his stepmother (who is my last living grandparent), says she remembers him telling her he quit because he didn't want to hurt another student. He was big even then. His little sister, who was adopted when he was around 20, lives there still with her family; she was so much younger than he was that it seemed strange to call her "aunt." It would be nice to live near her.

It would be nice to live somewhere warm. This morning's safety meeting at Public Works involved a Wyoming Department of Transportation video on snowplow safety, and the footage left me rather distraught. I know winter's coming. We've had a little snow already, nothing that stayed. And it was in the 60's today, but it's coming, and I'm dreading it.

Also it's been nearly two and a half years since Brent and I met in person. We're better than most at the long-distance relationship, being very good communicators and ridiculously in sync and uniquely committed to frequent travel, but it is hard, and we'd like to get on with our lives. It just happened that the economy tanked about the time we started looking for jobs, and it's been strange times since. I suppose it might occur to people to wonder why he doesn't just move here or I move there; it's this simple: we don't really want to live either place. It would be especially difficult for him to find anything in his line of work here, neither of us likes the climate, and we both prefer urban locales. Kansas City is urban but also occasionally wintry, and we'd like to make a fresh start somewhere, just the two of us, without family and friends to interfere.

Does that sound bizarre? I can't tell you how many young couples' (or new couples, as it were) early years together I have seen complicated in very unhealthy ways by the close proximity of family. Everybody knows I love my fabulous family; Mom and Morgan in particular it's going to kill me to leave. Brent adores his family, too, and I think they're excellent; after all, they produced such a man. But we'd like some space, is that so odd? And we'd like palm trees. Please.

I hate this time of year, the sluggish flies dying on the windowsills, the swift and permanent darkness by 5 p.m., the imminent threat of being stranded here by snow for days at a time. (I don't leave town very often, but I want to be able to go at any time.) My hair is like straw and my face is flaky and bumpy red, I'm plagued by static electricity, and even my love of accessorizing can't make hats and mittens seem appealing. (There's always room for scarves, though; I love scarves.)

But the holidays are coming, and I often enjoy Christmas shopping and the downtown activities that take place on freezing weeknights, like the light parade and Festival of Trees. I have cautious hopes for the holidays this year; last year Christmas was such an awful, unprecedented disaster (one bad seed in the family my sister married into has a talent for misery and denial, and she was bent on sharing the wealth) that this year can only be an improvement. And Brent will be here for Thanksgiving, which we'll spend with my family (unless there's a blizzard). We'll get some rare time to just hang out, doing nothing unless we decide to go to the coffee house or Kate's or watch Amelie more than once. Which I am totally in favor of.

I hope it doesn't seem like I'm always discontent. I try to remind myself of the value of gratitude (and I have so much to be grateful for!) often. I think what you focus on tends to manifest itself, and I am, by nature, an optimist. I just seem to vent on here, and that's unfortunate. I think I'll challenge myself to try posting something positive and hopeful soon; it's just that when I'm in that mood, I'm usually being otherwise productive. But now I'm babbling. And sleepy. It seems early to sleep, but then, it was 10:30 this time a week ago.

Have I mentioned how unnecessary I believe time-change to be? It's ridiculous. Good night.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Adventures in Cat Hygiene

Today's Cat Bath Experiment went rather well. My 11-year-old cats are indoor cats, so they're not dirty; I decided to try bathing them occasionally in an attempt to mitigate the constant shedding that seems to be getting worse as they age. I can tolerate the hair, but I'm worried about that angle of involuntary cat cohabitation being a major irritant to Brent, and also the hairball problem is just not going away despite lubricating snack gel and specialty treats and hairball-formula dry food. I'm justifying what I know is an unnatural (and detestable, to them) thing to subject cats, who are obviously self-cleaning, to by remembering that domestication is pretty unnatural anyway, so I should be able to do whatever's necessary to make life more enjoyable for all of us. And they don't appear to enjoy whorking up hairballs any more than they enjoyed being bathed. It seems to particularly knock B.C. for a loop.

Kitty, who is the less docile and braver of the two, made many more bids for freedom from the tub than B.C., but she never made a sound. She actually made herself useful by halfheartedly trying to climb up the far wall, so I could scrub her exposed belly with two hands instead of one while trapping her two front legs with the other. B.C. hardly struggled but howled loudly and plaintively twice, early on; I think the exaggerated sound of his own voice echoing in the bathroom upset him more than the relief of vocally protesting comforted him, because he never did it again. Brent wondered if the experience would cure him of spending most of his time in the tub, waiting for the faucet to drip, but I'm not so sure it will. He's a weird cat. I am not at all surprised that neither cat attempted to scratch me, hissed, or bit. They're very passive and good-natured cats; I can't get them to play rough even when I try. Kitty just hissed at B.C. when he walked by her... but that's not unusual.

After an hour and a half, both cats have already eaten, purred, and acted playful when they weren't compulsively licking themselves in front of the radiators (I cranked the heat up so they wouldn't get chilled while they dry), so I'm considering it a success (or at least not sufficiently traumatic to prevent ever doing it again). Their backs and front legs are already fluffy and glossy, but their bellies and back legs are still curly and damp. I've brushed them both a few times and got a lot of gray underfur out, more than usual when I brush them. My hand still comes away from B.C.'s black back with a few hairs on it when I pet him, and there really wasn't all that much fur in the tub when we got done. So we'll see in the next few days if there was really any benefit or if it's something we never need to go through again. I also want to make sure the pet shampoo doesn't dry their skin out too much.

My next pet project pertains to B.C.'s teeth, since I had his teeth professionally cleaned in March and his mouth already smells like a crypt; he can knock me out from the other side of the room with a well-aimed yawn. But that's later. Now I'm going to vacuum really good and get the hair off their favorite surfaces (the empty side of the bed, the stuffed stingray, the papasan cushion, Marilyn's rug by the door) to see if any less collects than before the bath. Then I'm going for a walk, because it's unseasonably beautiful outside, and it's hot in here. And the dirty looks are starting to hurt my feelings.