13
Jan 07

it is exactly 0 degrees outside (a sad story that is actually happy)

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.

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08
Aug 06

offline pursuits

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.

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02
Aug 06

QotD: Can you hear me now?

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.

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10
Jul 06

chuckwagon dinner, horses, and a little more about me

Last night I went, along with my boyfriend, Jim, and my friends Shane and Tiffany, and the chocolatier, Tim (more on him in a minute), to the Chuckwagon Dinner at the Oasis Motel on the north edge of town.  Basically, it's an outdoor dinner (roast beef, green beans with bacon, potatoes with bacon and cheese–do you notice a theme here?–and salad and brownies and iced tea, lemonade, and water; byob if you want booze) with music and some dancing, as you can see.  This is the only really good shot I got of the dancing, though I took a bunch, and I may post a few to Flickr later.  I'm such a recent digital camera convert that I haven't gotten the whole action shot thing down yet.  (Incidentally, is anyone else having difficulties with the drop down menus when posting photos?  I can't get them to be visible to anything but "the world," which makes me reluctant to post pictures of friends, since my non-online friends tend to be a bit shy about having themselves visible to the world.)

I've actually gotten a bit hazy about which parts of my life are online and which aren't, so, with apologies for any repetitions, here's the "a little more about me" part.

I'm 30 years old, and I live in a tiny town in northwestern Wyoming called Meeteetse.  I'm not sure what it means–I've seen at least three different interpretations, but it seems to be Indian in origin.  I moved here four months ago to take the first full-time job I've ever had.  I spent my twenties going to graduate school (I got an MFA in Nonfiction Writing–one of those really useful degrees–before I went to library school) and working odd jobs and being unemployed and travelling a lot.  It was a good way to live, though it did create a certain amount of debt.  I feel pretty stupid about that part now, but on the whole, I don't regret it. 

I am the librarian here, and a lot of people refer to me that way, as in "Hey–librarian!"  I find it charming, mostly, though some days I wish my identity was a little bigger than "librarian."  But it's such a small place that there's often only one of everything, and so people who have regular jobs become the thing they do.

I don't normally make friends in a new place very quickly, but I have here, which seems like another sign that coming here was the right thing to do.  Shane and Tiffany run the local coffee shop, and they help out with various other work around town–ranch work, fencing, painting, whatever.  Jim, the guy I've been seeing for a few months now, paints and does other handyman work when people can convince him to do it.  Mostly he tries to avoid work.  And then there's the chocolatier, Tim, whom I'm sort of friendly with.  He's a cowboy, but he also makes chocolates.  I'm thinking of seeing if he'll barter truffles for better web design.

Anyway, to get to the horses part (a little out of order), this afternoon I went horseback riding with Shane and Tiffany up in the Shoshone National Forest.  I forgot my camera, so I don't have pictures, but if you've been on my Flickr account lately, it looked much like many of the other hikes I've taken.  Tiffany did take a picture of me on Baby, the palomino, so when she sends it to me I'll post it.  I haven't been on a horse since I was six, so we just did a short (maybe 45 minute) introductory ride.  We still got up pretty far, though–it's amazing how much farther you get on a horse than on foot.  Then we came back down, and Shane, his nephew, and Tiffany's daughter went for a longer ride while Tiffany and I sat around and gossipped.  Tiffany's daughter is ten and very funny.  She was telling me on the way back about her imaginary friend George, and she was delighted to hear that I had an invisible friend George (what can I say–it amuses me).  She told me a long story about George, which I regret to say I've forgotten, but it had to do with moving to Hawaii and the Denver Broncos and the color orange.  Last night at the Chuckwagon dinner she asked Jim if he'd brought his friend, and he said yes, pointing at me.  Today she wanted to know how I'd met Jim (he was one of the people they rounded up to help me move in) and if I liked him (yes).

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08
Jul 06

finding my way

So, I just figured out that this QOTD I keep seeing everywhere stands for "question of the day" and is not the initials of some Latin phrase I ought to know but don't.  (I spent four years studying Latin and Greek in college, plus a few other years here and there, but the extent of my ignorance of these matters continues to amaze me.)  What I haven't figured out is where one finds the question of the day.  Clearly, I haven't quite learned my way around this whole Vox landscape yet.

I like it pretty well so far, though.  When I first started putting things online in 1999, I wanted desperately to be discovered.  Nowadays, not so much.  This is a nice sort of compromise.

Now, though, I'm going to go spend a little time in my physical neighborhood.  I've hung my laundry out to dry (on the porch railings, since I haven't gotten around to rigging up a clothesline yet), and I'm off to spend some time hanging out in the coffeeshop.  Then I'll see if the small machine repairman can fix my vacuum cleaner.  O the joys of Saturday!

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07
Jul 06

hello world, hello voice

I think most of you reading this know me either in person or online, so this may be redundant. . . .

I'm a librarian in northwestern rural Wyoming.  I've been here for about four months now, and it's fascinating and wonderful, if sometimes very strange.  I'm originally from Iowa City, Iowa and have lived in Poughkeepsie, NY (during college), the suburbs of Chicago (right before I came here), Indianapolis (during junior high; a time best forgotten), and a few months each in San Francisco and Minneapolis.

I love cities, but I also love living now in a town of 351 people, even on the days when it's strange.

Yesterday most people in town were either elated or downcast: hunting licenses arrived in the mail.  The elated had elk tags; the downcast, nothing.  On the 4th of July (a holiday I usually avoid–I used to have an anti-4th-of-July party in Iowa City) my boyfriend (who is a particular fan of the holiday, either) convinced me to spend the afternoon hanging out at the reservoir.  Since that's the sort of thing I feel I never did enough of in my youth, I went, and I had a fairly good time sitting around and drinking beer and enjoying the stillness.  Yet it was odd–many of the other people there had not graduated from high school, or had only barely graduated, but they work in the oilfields and pull in as much as $70,000–more than twice what I make with 1.75 masters' degrees.  I would like to be better at integrating the worlds I live in.

I have some other online presence, most of which you can find via my website, The New Rambler.  But there have always been things I wanted to write about, like the bit above, that don't seem to fit in any of my other spaces.  Perhaps this will be the one where they do fit.

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