Fahrenheit degrees, that is. Last night it got down to -17.
This morning I woke up to discover that, despite having a) left two faucets dripping, b) double-checked to make sure the heat tape switch was on, and c) having left a heat lamp plugged in underneath the trailer, my pipes were frozen. Apparently, according to my landlady, I need to leave the faucets not dripping but running. Thank God I don't pay for water by the gallon. It strikes me as greatly ironic that here in the high desert, where we're going into the eighth straight year of drought, where the total rainfall last year was under 7", that I can have all the undrinkable water (much too alkaline for human consumption) I want for $35/month.
Luckily, I am not a morning showerer. Actually, I am not even a daily showerer, which is good, because despite the balmy high today of 9 degrees or so, and despite my landlady's daughter coming over to plug in a space heater under the trailer, my pipes are still frozen. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. . . .
After deciding that it wasn't worth making breakfast (and thus creating more dishes I might not be able to do), I thought I'd head over to the coffee shop and get a muffin and a latte. So I loaded up my stuff and headed out to the car, which–you guessed it–didn't start. So I thought, well, I'll go see if someone can give me a jump-start. I called my coworker to say I might be getting to the library a bit late. Then I remembered that, due to the lever falling off and then disappearing, it's extremely difficult to open the hood of my car. Usually it requires vice-grips, or other tools I don't own. (I keep meaning to buy some vice-grips–it's so embarrassing to have to ask someone else to open your hood so you can check your oil.) I grabbed some needlenose pliers (I do have some tools) and gave the little rod a yank. No luck. I tried again. No luck. The one happy part of this story, though, is that on the third try, I got it, and the hood popped open.
I headed over to my neighbor's house, since it looked like he was warming his truck up, so I figured he was up and could probably give me a jump. He was, although, I was rather surprised to see, he was not exactly clothed when he came to the door. No matter. Anyway, he got dressed and came over with the truck. We then had an interesting time manuevering the truck around to the front of my car. Another happy part of this story is that that did work, and he didn't crash his truck into the fence. That would have been bad. So we tried jumping the car. No go. Tried again. No go. Tried giving the car some gas. Nope. More gas. Nope.
"Is that all the gas you have in there?" he said.
"Uh. . . yeah."
"You know you–"
"I know, I know, I should always keep my gas tank above half full in the winter. My mommy always told me that."
He suggested I get some gas and some Heet and try again later. He also very kindly gave me a ride into town. I had him drop me off at the coffee shop, since it's only a few blocks from the library, and I still hadn't had breakfast or coffee.
So I got my coffee and my muffin and told all the coffee shop regulars about my sad tale, and my friend Shane said, "Where's that handyman boyfriend of yours when you need him?" and I said, "No kidding," and Shane said, "He could be there right now fixing stuff for you!" and I said "Yup," and we both sighed, because said handyman is also Shane's friend, and he's gone to rural Virginia for probably most of this year, and that makes both of us, and many of our other friends, sad.
I finished my coffee and headed up the hill to work (it was now up to -4 degrees), where I told my coworker my tale of woe, and called my landlady, and got back to weeding. I withdrew half a dozen books about global warming from the mid-1980s to early 1990s and remarked that it's kind of amazing that people treat climate change as if it's a new idea. Then I got rid of a bunch of true crime books and called a woman who said she'd be interested in them if we ever got rid of some, and that seemed to make her day.
And I got a call from the library director, who said that we are going to get some old furniture that is not nearly as old as our old furniture, and that we have a lot of money in our account at the foundation, so if we want, we could buy morne furniture. Or books. Or computers. Or whatever. So that was really happy.
Just before she was about to leave, my coworker got a call from her daughter, who was driving back to college (and was almost there, in fact), and had just been in a car accident. No one was hurt, but the daughter was pretty freaked out. My coworker talked to her for a little while and said "call the police" and "it's going to be okay" and "that's why you have liablity insurance" and all the other things like that that you said. Then she said to me, "If my daughter calls again, tell her I'll be home in ten minutes."
The daughter did call again, and I relayed her mom's message, and then I added, "You know, I have wrecked many, many cars" (well, not that many–but I did total a Volvo station wagon (mine) and put a huge dent in a BMW (someone else's).
The daughter said, "Really?" and I said, "Yeah. I know sometimes it helps to hear that from someone else." And she said it did.
And then Shane picked me up from work, and we stopped at the gas station so I could buy a new gas can (because I couldn't find the lid to mine) and some Heet and some gas, and I got home and put the Heet and the gas in my car, and it started right up, and I ran it for quite awhile and then drove into town to fill up the tank and get some water in case I need to flush a toilet or something, and then I came home, and then I called my mom. And I said, "You know what? I had this huge catastrophic day and I handled everything just fine and I didn't call you in tears once–and I even got to console someone else who had burst into tears."
And damn, do I ever feel like a grown-up.
What are you thankful for?
The Milky Way, and living in a place where I can see it almost every night.
Family and friends and all the many people who fall into both categories, one way or another.
Animals, even when they're being holy terrors.
In a few weeks, I imagine that I shall be extremely thankful for the internet. I'm always somewhat thankful for it, but I haven't been spending much time online in the past few months because I've been spending a lot of time outside with my boyfriend, who, in mid-December, is moving to rural Virginia. Living in rural Wyoming is, for the most part, wonderful, but because I come from more populated areas where there are more people and more ideas and more art and more–well, just more–I sometimes feel a little lost here. The internet–or more exactly, the people who make it up–are part of how I manage to feel a little less like a tiny dot on a dry, windswept hill.
A Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the US–and a happy day to all. Here's a picture from the trip Jim and I took to Utah just recently. Lots more where it came from on Flickr, and more on the way. . . I went a little crazy with the camera.
I promised awhile ago that I'd put up pictures from the Day of the American Cowboy parade a few weeks ago. They've been up on Flickr for awhile, but I'm finally posting one here. Here is the clan from one local ranch with their float–and yes, they do have a keg and they're handing out beer. They were by far the most popular entry in the parade. . . nobody even minded that they were holding up the other floats.
I spent the weekend much as planned, attending various social events (Friends of the Library barbeque Saturday night; dinner party up the Wood River last night) and hanging out with Jim, who left today on a six-week vacation. He gets free rent in exchange for doing a lot of work on the house he lives in, but part of the deal is that he clears out when the owner shows up for her vacation. I am trying very hard not to think about the fact that I will never get another six week vacation. It's a point of pride with me that I made it through the first 30 years of my life without ever having a full-time job, but grim reality is setting in now.
I did slip out for a hike this afternoon/evening, though. After a day of working at the computer at home (the library is closed for cleaning), with no patrons to interrupt me, I was going stir crazy, and one of the good things about living here is that in under an hour I can be in the Shoshone National Forest, far from the reaches of almost anything–well, except bears and wolves and so forth. But that's different.
What's one thing that you'd like to get done this weekend? Is there anything holding you back?
Ha! There's absolutely nothing I plan to get done this weekend. Tomorrow I'm going to the Friends of the Library barbeque and Sunday night I'm going to a dinner party. Otherwise, I'm just bumming around, cooking some things (I made custard for Jim, since he's refinishing two of my tables. . . it doesn't quite seem like a fair trade), reading, and maybe going to the resevoir or going hiking. Or both.
Some days I lead such a disgustingly nice life I can hardly stand it.
What's your cell phone's ringtone? What made you pick it?
Ha! I haven't had a cell phone since February, when I moved to rural Wyoming, where, at least with Cingular, I'd have to drive 30 miles to be able to use my phone. I relied on it when I lived in the suburbs with my grandmother, because a) I spent a lot of time in the car, and, thanks to the wonders of headsets, that was my best time for talking to people, b) I was almost never at home, and c) my grandmother has many wonderful qualities, but message taking is not one of them.
I always used normal phone rings for my cell phone. Well, I did at one point have a few funky themes picked out, one for my then boyfriend and a couple for other close friends, but I could rarely tell them apart.
Tomorrow I think I'm going to venture into the wild world of caller ID. I get it free with my pricey high speed internet connection (all telecommunications out here cost a fortune–it's $45/month just to have a landline), but I don't have a phone with caller ID or a caller ID box. My old phone seems to be dying, though, so it may be time to venture forth into the brave new world of knowing who's calling before I pick up.
What was your favorite candy when you were a kid? How does that compare to now?
My father kept a jar of peppermints and lemondrops in the car at all times. It was a compact Plymoth station wagon, and in preschool, my best friend and I were allowed to ride in the way back, which is, of course, way cooler than any other location in the car (and this was before the days of childseats for children larger than infants), and we were allowed to eat as many peppermints and lemondrops as we wanted. All these rules were of course suspended when my mother was driving, when we sat in the backseat and pretended to be watching movies on imaginary pull-down screens. The movies were actually quite magical–you could watch a movie of anything you wanted–kittens, your last vacation, Oz, you name it.
I've never been much of a candy eater, now or then, but peppermints and lemondrops are still probably my favorites (truffles, I think, don't exactly qualify as candy).
I seem to be writing a great deal about my father here of late. I'm not sure what's up with that. In a couple of weeks, it will be twenty-five years since he died, so perhaps our culture's fetishization of anniversaries is having some subliminal effect on me.
On an unrelated note, is anyone else having difficulties with the drop-down menus on Vox? I searched the help sections and sent them a note the other day. Basically, I can't change who can see my posts because when I click on the drop-down boxes, I get no options, so they're all friends-only. I appreciate the option of exclusivity, but I'm not trying to be exclusive all the time.
As promised, here's a picture of me on Baby, the palomino, from my horseback riding excursion with my friends Shane and Tiffany the weekend before last. I had not been on a horse since I was six, so we only rode for about an hour. I was somewhat sore the next day, but not too bad.
This weekend Jim and my friend Edie and I took what turned out to be a 13 mile hike (we had been planning on a 7-8 mile loop) up the South Fork of the Wood River and Chimney Creek. The next day I woke up and thought, "I could do that again"–or at least, "I could do that again if it weren't so freaking hot." I must be getting stronger, though, because a couple months ago 8 miles left me totally whupped.
What's the strongest association you have between a scent and a memory?
My father was a pipe smoker. The photo of him which you can sort of see in this double portrait I took today was taken I believe right around the time my parents were married, six years before I was born, but he looked pretty much exactly like that for the whole time I knew him.
He always wore long pants (even to play tennis) and usually a tie and jacket, he often wore a hat, and he always, always had his pipe in his mouth, or near at hand.
When I was 12 and we were moving, my mother tried to throw out all of my father's old pipes, but I wouldn't let her. They're still around somewhere, probably in my mom's basement. I've never done anything with them, because of course they smell terrible–like old, stale smoked tobacco. They belonged to my father, but they aren't him at all.
I've never been a smoker, and I generally try to avoid really smoky places unless there's some compelling reason, like good music, to enter them. But if I smell even the faintest whiff of pipe smoke, I'll follow it. I'll follow until I find the source, and of course it's never my father, either, even though it smells like him. But I keep following, perhaps as a result of reading Nabakov–"the following of such thematic designs through one's life should be, I think, the true purpose of autobiography"–and perhaps just out of hope.