Saturday, July 25, 2009

La Vida Loca

We were riding the motorcycle a couple of nights ago on our way to a new restaurant CoolGuy saw and wanted to try out. (Unfortunately, the location we went to was only open for lunch...) We ended up traveling south on Las Vegas Boulevard in the downtown section--not The Strip. The distinction is that downtown is a little shabby and far less manufactured and corporate.

So, as we were riding up the street through the older part of town I noted the sequence of businesses.
a) Wedding Chapel
b) Bar
c) Strip Club
d) Bail Bonds

All that was missing was the attorney. You know, to get you back out of jail and file the divorce papers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cousins Reunion

The two little blondies that are the same size in the center and just to the right in this picture are my cousin and I. My birthday is February and hers is October. Our dads were brothers. We seldom had any of these occasions when we were all together--they were four girls, we were four girls (and then two more girls and two boys, eventually)--[and the girl on the end is from the third sibling, our dads' sister). So, now after probably 40 years since we last visited, my cousin and I have spent a week together. Our dads would be excited that their kids are getting together again.

She has retired and wanted to buy a house here in the desert because she lived here for many years and the climate agrees with her. Her husband is still working in Oklahoma, but he's willing to live here, too, upon his eventual retirement. In the meantime, she'll split her time between the two homes for her health. I got involved in this, after having not seen her for so long, because her dad, just before he died a couple of years ago, put her in contact with my brother who lived near her in OK. When she told him she was coming out to Nevada, he forwarded that info to me, we exchanged e-mails, and I was very happy this week to help her out of a jam when the closing didn't go through as planned and her hotel room budget was being drained dry.

She has stayed at our house, and spent the days dealing with realtors, property managers, bankers and contractors. Tonight she could finally move into her new house. We'd been storing several boxes at our house (she bought new furniture here) and we got it all carted over there and she is unpacking.

It has been interesting to talk about the ways our lives diverged, the commonalities, the memories we have our limited family interactions as children. The fact that the few photos we have of her dad are all of him holding a string of trout. He loved to fish, just like my dad...Family ties. It's good to have them. And now, I have a relative in town.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Beat the Heat on the Grey's River Loop

We went to Wyoming for a three-day trip. There was a wedding in CoolGuy's family and it was being held at the Box Y Ranch, a favorite place to visit, so it was an easy decision to go. Also figuring into the equation was the temperature in Las Vegas on Thursday: 110 degrees. The Box Y is at about 7000 feet above sea level, so we knew it wouldn't be 110 there. It was, however, 85 at the peak of the afternoon. When we left Las Vegas the temperature on our truck's thermometer was 108 and ten hours later, as we went over the pass into our hometown's valley the thermometer read 49 degrees. It was amusing. We got back and it's still at 110 here. But, it is summer and it is the Mojave Desert, so I'm not surprised nor complaining. The swimming pool is the mitigating factor here.

As we left the ranch, CoolGuy asked if I'd like to take the scenic route home. (As if anywhere we drove up there would be the non-scenic route...) So we traveled around the "loop", following the river to its headwaters, going over a little pass, and going down back down the other side to end up on the opposite end of Star Valley. It was outrageously beautiful. There were wildflowers everywhere. We saw towering mountains still amply streaked with snow in the ravines. We saw a bull moose, a cow and her calf, some antelope, grazing deer, cattle and sheep. There were expansive meadows and narrow ravines where the road seemed to be little more than a trail with the shrinking stream rushing below us in the twilight of the dark pine trees. We finally got to the top of Three Basin Pass (where the water travels downward into the three different drainage basins: Columbia, Great Basin and Colorado) and then the streams grew wider as they picked up capacity from all the little springs and trickles on that side of the divide.

Here are some photos. What a drive! What a fabulous area! I can't believe I lived on the west side of this place for all those years and didn't even go there. The bigger picture is a beaver lodge in a pond. The smaller image is a long view of a valley that goes east to another town in Wyoming on the other side of that mountain.

The next few are pictures of wildflowers--lupine, sunflowers and Indian paintbrush.

And the final one is a cow moose and her calf. They were standing in a stream as we came around a corner and they didn't like us seeing them, so she was heading uphill into the trees.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Government Groupies

We had a tour of the Capitol Building while we were in D.C. I've been there before, a couple of times, but it isn't a place where you go once and then the next visit is just ho-hum. Each time you are there, it is obvious that you are in a special environment with history seeped into every corner. If you forget for a minute that it is a unique location, you can just look down and perhaps there will be a brass plate on the floor declaring this spot to be where A.Lincoln had his desk when he was in the House of Representatives. Or, there will be a bust of John C. Calhoun in an alcove as you walk down a corridor.

Then, you can wait in a line, pass through another metal detector (in case you were able to slip something through the metal detector and purse search at the main door), you can quietly enter the gallery of the House or the Senate. There you take a seat above the main chamber floor where the two legislative bodies covene. First, we went into the House gallery and looked around at the empty desks, asked quiet questions of the guide standing there. I told the two granddaughters about how the Constitution allows every state two senators, but the representatives were apportioned according to population, so there are many more of them. After about 10 minutes of boring (for them) sitting there looking at empty chairs, we left.

We (the grandmothers) wanted to see the Senate chambers too, but we promised the girls that if there was a long line, we wouldn't make them wait. Luckily there wasn't a wait at all. We whisked through the metal detectors, left our electronics with the guards and slipped into the gallery seats to discover that the Senate was in session! Someone I didn't recognize was giving a speech about an amendment that was on the floor. The Sergeant at arms was there, the clerks, the pages, but--only one senator--the one speaking. Weird...but then Senator Boxer from California came in and called for a vote on the amendment. And over the next fifteen minutes, 98 senators came through the doors (which were opened by pages) and went up to the clerk's desk to give their vote, which she then announced into her microphone. (Two senators, Byrd and Kennedy weren't there because of medical reasons.)

"Mrs. Feinstein, No. Mr. McCain, Yes." etc. etc. We (the grandmothers) were beside ourselves. We recognized face after face as they came through the door. Knowing we'd be immediately ejected by any outburst, we pantomimed our excitement as each political celebrity walked into the room and went up to record his or her vote. They stood around in little clumps chatting with one another while the entire process was completed. The amendment was not passed, Sen. McCain got on a mic and complained to the body about not doing as the president had asked--pass the amendment-- "My Friends", and urged them to reconsider and then everyone filed on out the doors again.

The granddaughters watched the two grandmothers wiggle and whisper-squeal with one another, and I tried to explain. "It's like if you went to a Jonas Brothers concert and Hannah Montana showed up too, and Beyonce..." Sort of...But I think they got my drift. We finally left and when we got out into the foyer again, with our electronics and purses returned, the grandmothers grabbed each other's hands and jumped around in a little circle and squealed out loud, for real. Yes, we got looks...but hey!! It was like all those celebrities showing up at once for us political junkies. So awesome...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I returned last night from a week in Washington D.C. with my friend and her daughter and granddaughters. We stayed in a motel that did not have a business center, and as a result, there was not computer access for me all during that week. And I survived nicely. I did read the Washington Post everyday, which was really indulgent. It is one of my favorite newspapers to hold and read. Note how I didn't just say "read" because I don't really enjoy reading it on-line too much, although I do read parts of it. But as a reading experience, the WaPo is simply marvelous.

The newsprint they use is sturdy and feels good in your hands. They have a nice mix of photos and writing. They employ such excellent writers, too. I don't always agree with their editorial positions, but I love to read the way they write it down. I even read the sports section of the WaPo just for the craftsmanship.

When I read the paper (any newspaper) I need to read all of it. It is probably just a manifestation of some sort of disorder that I obsessively read an entire newspaper. But I can't help it. And when I'm reading the Washington Post it is a very satisfying hour. Reading a paper on-line just doesn't do it for me. So, that's one thing I miss since leaving Maryland--the daily paper.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The First on the Fourth

33 years ago, it was the Bicentennial of the United States of America. (Well, yesterday it was, anyway. I didn't realize it was so late when I sat down here.) So all of the country was in a state of massive celebration and there were parades and speeches and I remember they sailed the USS Constitution again and a lot of spectacular spectaculars occured. But mostly it all went right past our family.

We had our very own Spectacular Spectacular event. We brought our first born child home from the hospital on the Fourth of July, 1976. He was born on the first. His due date was July 1st. Isn't that just so convenient that he was born on his due date? It set a standard that most of his siblings could only approach, and none of them achieved. Most were pretty near, the last one quite a long time after, but I always had that expectation that pregnancy and birth would be orderly and sensible because his whole existence up to, and including, his birth were orderly and sensible. When he came out, the doctor held him aloft and declared, "It's a boy." To which his dad replied, "I know." Now, mind you---we didn't get sonograms or 3-D prenatal photos in those Olden Days. His dad just knew. He'd had a feeling one day, and from then on, we just knew.

So, anyway, I'll always remember the fabulous Bicentennial Celebration of the United States of America because I missed it all. I do remember walking around my living room with him in my arms, realizing that it was the Fourth, and just being really excited that we were all home, our new son was so cool, and that no celebration could ever eclipse the fabulous, fantastic reality of being a parent.

And, so far, no celebration has ever done so. And he is still a fabulous, fantastic son.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Packrat Payoff

I have finally started my summer vacation. School ended on June 5th, but I was immeshed in a graduate class that took up many hours, and then preparation for the family reunion scooped up the rest of the time. I also traveled a couple of places. I am, up to my elbows cleaning out my spare room/office. Since we have a newly empty space in our bedroom because we were able to take our daughter her cedar chest, I've decided to move some bookshelves over to that room. Which requires that I clean them out first. Which is a time consuming operation, because I need to evaluate each item to see if it is a keeper or a tosser. I've found some really excellent artifacts, too. I opened the binder that holds my oldest son's elementary school memories and found an envelope from his college freshman composition class. It has fantastic essays in it! Plus, how I could I resist re-reading the scrapbook made by my former co-workers in the school where I taught for nine years?

But, the best find, there only because of my dreadful pack-rat a packet of medical papers from my adventures in mal-digestion from four years ago! When I took an antibiotic that destroyed the good flora in my guts resulting in months of diarrhea. Yes, months. So, now I have a similar malaise and even though my gastroenterologist has ruled out worse problems, his evaluation that "there is nothing wrong with you" is incorrect. There is definitely something wrong with me. But, now I have a whole packet of papers complete with the name of the medication that solved the problem four years ago. So, I will move this bookcase, and then I will drive over to the walk-in clinic where I started this whole mess when I got the initial meds for the sinus infection, and tell them what to prescribe. I'm on my way to Washington D.C. on Sunday for a week being the tour guide for my friend and her grandchildren. I know I'll be standing in line a lot, and I know how few and far between the public bathrooms are there.