Monday, July 27, 2009

life without parole

last evening, i mowed my lawn. well, sort of. the word "lawn" implies... grass. i do have a trivial amount of grass, which resembles a lawn when i let it grow, and comb it sideways like a balding middle aged man hides his promiscuously stripping scalp. though i suspect it would be more appropriate to announce that last evening i mowed down dozens upon dozens of baby aspen trees that were initiating life on my property.

really, that sounds much more unpleasant a task than mowing a lawn, doesn't it? slicing down grass is essentially an expected chore of single family home residency. murdering small trees is... well... ungreen (would we call that red, per the color wheel?). i do foster the growth of some other little aspens. does that make me a better person?

i apologize to all of my crunchy granola friends for these actions i must take. consider: is murder in the name of my home owner's association justified?

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Quite spontaneously, our family decided to take a long weekend in Montana. None of us had ever been before, but hubby has a cousin who lives there. Her father planned to come to town, so she invited us for a rather tiny extended family reunion. I am all about going to new places lately. I figured that somehow the small children would muscle through the 10-12 hour drive, and we’d have a swell time. Little did I know the trip would be well worth it before we even arrived at our destination.

The drive through Wyoming was fascinating. It was like Kansas in its nothingness. At times, it seems Wyoming is inhabited wholly by cattle…. even the gas station attendants… were cattle. It did however maintain topographical interest that Kansas lacks. So it was pretty. We stayed overnight in a tiny town called Chugwater, population, 244 (and, between you and me, I think they included their horses and cows in that census data). We had to grab pre-breakfast snacks at a gas station, because there was no place to eat, but the Buffalo Lodge was a fine, clean place to stay, equipped with free wi-fi for the addicts among us (ahem).

As we drove, Todd kept seeing flocks of sheep. Only there weren’t any flocks of sheep. There were, however, scatterings of rocks in fields. There were also baled hay rolls. I think by the third time he saw a flock of sheep, I had to inform him that he needed to look a little closer. It’s become a standing family joke. Whenever we see a field of hay, we admire the flock of sheep…. so nicely spaced, and calmly standing so proper and still.

As we headed towards Northern Wyoming, we entered some foothills, and things became increasingly beautiful. An exit off the highway: Prairie Dog Creek Road….a road, named for a creek, named for a garden pest! Amazing!

We rolled through Montana, and little in the landscape changed through Billings (occasional green, occasional mountains, but mostly brown/grey rocks and little canyons). As we headed west, towards the mountains, seeing, in places, the Yellowstone River… a dream came true.

A grey, leafless skeleton of a tree stood by the river. The sun bleached trunk was thick, and what was left of the three lowest branches reached out, as though the length and lushness of what they once supported might still be remembered if the skeleton just held out a little longer. Near the end of the longest branch was an unseemly mass. Large, and not coherent with the dead tree form. We raced closer at 75mph. That was SO not a piece of dead tree. It had to be a bird, but the size! Maybe a vulture?

“OH MY GOD!!!” wait, who said that? Is that what I think it is??? That was my voice, but I don’t say that. Did I really say that?

“It’s a BALD EAGLE!!!!!! It has a white head! It’s an American Bald Eagle!!!”

I’ve never made a list of things that I want to see or do in my lifetime. It used to be because I was too afraid I’d disappoint myself. I’m not afraid of that anymore, but now I just haven’t had the interest to spend my time putting it down formally. Regardless, in my mind now, there are very few things that I would want to commit myself to seeing or doing. Seeing an American Bald Eagle though? In the WILD? That is without a doubt one of the things I would put on my nonexistent shortlist!

I have seen them in captivity, and when I am not prepared for them, they really cripple me. It might be slightly due to the fact that they are an emblem for our country. It’s more though. There is something about how large they are, how strong they’re built, how regal they look. Alright, maybe it’s dumb. Some people cry at weddings, I cry at birds of prey.

To me, it’s like… walking into Westminster Abbey and stepping over the grave of Geoffrey Chaucer. There is something moving, something breathtaking there, that somehow makes me feel both horribly insignificant and completely a part of something broader than my mind could possibly handle. It moves me.

So this was a fantastic trip even before I tried cousin Amy’s amazing vegetarian pasta dish! Oh, coming to Montana was a GOOD decision!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

some deity hates me

it came from the toy riddled side of the family room, and, smelling my fear, quite casually made its way towards my kitchen. i overcame my terror enough to smack it relatively immobile... except for the mandibles... which never stopped moving as long as it laid on my carpet. why do these things come out while my husband is away? this is one of the primary reasons i HAVE a husband. i need to return to my weeping now.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

linguistically speaking

many people have some sort of extraordinary dislike for a certain type of creature. do you have one? snakes, frogs, bees, scorpions, ants, earthworms... there's usually something.

my something is spiders. my dislike is severe. it borders on phobia. i have improved over the last few years. these days, my bloodcurdling shriek for help has been replaced with a double backward step of avoidance, followed by realization that i have to manage the encounter in a way that ensures first, the safety and security of my children, and second, that the blessed creature is not at liberty to encounter me again. that doesn't always mean certain death for mr. spider. sometimes i feel generous. usually not.

two nights ago, my family decided that they wanted to eat dinner outside. unless i'm at some patio restaurant, i don't particularly prefer eating outside. i live in colorado. it's hard to find a day that's warm enough, yet not too breezy by the front range, to eat outdoors. yet, there we were. it was pleasant enough. until abi spied a daddy long leg on the porch beneath the table.

mind you, i kept my cool. daddy long legs are still spiders, yet among the least offensive to me. they're just tiny basketballs with thread legs, after all. so i told abi to get her bug box and try to catch the spider (she has developed a fear of any bug-like creature that takes in nourishment through anything other than a proboscis. well, besides ladybugs. the bug box is my way of trying to help her. she doesn't mind them so much when they're safely enclosed). she, of course, was too frightened. she set her dad on task.

at first, he seemed pleased to help. then he realized there were wet, rotting leaves in the bottom of the box. he became grossed out. instead of clearing out the box and scooping the spider inside, he opened the 'door' and set the box down in front of the spider.

"there you go, abi," he said. "now he can just walk in."

"SURE!" i said, "we'll just tell him we put on the coffee pot, put on some gentle jazz, and lit a few candles for some nice ambiance, and he'll feel so welcomed that he'll just step right inside!"

"well, go ahead," todd said to me, "you speak spider. you tell him."


sure, i know what you're thinking... well, harry potter could talk to snakes, and that was kind of cool . this is SO not as cool as harry potter speaking parseltongue to snakes. as far as i could tell, though harry detested the house of slytherin, and so likely their snake bedecked crest, he was indifferent to actual snakes.

the thought of communicating with a spider is probably more horrific to me than simply having to cast my eyes upon a spider.

does this fall under the category of 'know thine enemy'? is that how it is that i came to be the family english-arachnid translator? excellent. no point in hiding my impetus for gaining a cursory knowledge of American Sign Language any longer. guess you all know how i really feel about deaf people now.

Friday, July 3, 2009

who gives this bride...?

oh, i think i've really done it this time.
abigail has informed me that she is never going to get married.

"why not?" i asked, innocently enough... secretly wondering if this is a good or bad thing to have her feel...

"because you said if i got married, you would give me away."

well, it's the truth.
i did say that to her, though i really don't remember the context of the conversation- it was so very long ago. it might have been a very casual moment when she was asking why papa was walking me down the aisle in my wedding pictures, and i explained how i was 'given away'. or, it might have been in one of my more snarky parenting moments when she told me she would stay with me forever and i admitted that she just might... until i gave her away (then defended it with something legitimate, like a wedding ceremony).

either way, she's convinced she isn't going anywhere, and will avoid any life experience that provides me the opportunity to shed her off. i mean... not like i would want to shed her off or anything. nope. not me. admitting that would be cruel. heartless.

i do of course realize she's only five, and, as she will eventually become a full fledged woman, she will develop her 'woman's prerogative'- the most distinct feature of which is the ability to change her mind. so maybe when it comes to saving for a wedding, we'll double name the fund... Abi's Wedding OR Mommy's new Jeep Wrangler fund.

who knows. maybe i'll be really disappointed if i don't end up with that new jeep wrangler.