In the meanwhile, there's lizard-hunting, except when they run under the yucca, which poke you in the face most uncomfortably.
Monday, August 31, 2009
In the meanwhile, there's lizard-hunting, except when they run under the yucca, which poke you in the face most uncomfortably.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Saturday morning, writing under the grape arbor.
David is sitting with me reading Osho. Teddy is laying on the cool flagstone, Zipper beside her. Isabel, the ever independent, is out front hoping the baby quail show up again. They appeared yesterday for the first time, bobbling along behind the older quail, like fluffy bit of popcorn on toothpicks. Isabel was electrified by the sight.
No baby quail snacks in her future, however.
The quail are smart enough to know when she's out there, and she can only go out in bright light. I keep dreaming at night that she's caught outside. David, too, has been waking to the coyote howls and getting up to make sure she's still inside. In the same way the animals have been unsettled, he's been nervous in this new environment. Uncertain how to best protect us all. Isabel is always sitting in a window, watching the night.
"Would a coyote try to get Isabel through the screen?" I wondered.
"That's why I have the rifle, two sticks and my pistol under the bed," David said.
I had previously commented on the unprecedented number of weapons under our bed here.
"To beat the coyotes off Isabel?"
"More if a mountain lion comes through the screen."
"I think if someone in Eldorado had a mountain lion come through their screen, we would have heard the story," I told him.
"Fine, make fun," he answered. "But if a mountain lion DOES come through the screen, I'll be ready. "
I know he'll settle down as he gets into the groove. I must constantly remind myself that David has never moved to a totally new place. The biggest move he's made before this was from Buffalo, Wyoming to Laramie, Wyoming.
We have recycling pick-up here, which we ain't never done had afore back in ol' Wyo. We signed up for it, for an additional $4.87/month, which seems like a great deal to me. They gave us a green can for recyclables, that's slightly smaller than the one for garbage. They pick up on a different day for that one, and only every two weeks. David fretted about remembering the dates until I put them in my Outlook calendar with a day-before reminder.
Last Wednesday was our first pick-up. Since he's got time until classes start, he spent several hours Tuesday breaking down moving boxes, since they recycle cardboard. But there was too much to fit in the can.
"Just stack up the extra next to the can," I offered. "Worst they can do is not take it."
But he didn't like that idea. He took Zip out and drove around the neighborhood to see how the other neighbors did it.
"I wonder if tomorrow is the right day," he said when he returned.
"It is," I answered without looking up from my laptop.
"Only three other neighbors have green cans out."
"Maybe not everyone has the same pick-up day. Maybe not everyone pays the extra to recycle."
"Well, none of them had extra stuff next to their cans."
At least he was satisfied that enough people put theirs out the night before that he was okay there. The next morning when we went running, I pointed out another green can, about three blocks away.
"I counted that one," he told me.
"Jeez -- how far did you go?"
"A ways. I wanted to get a good survey of how everyone was doing it."
"Why do you even care how the neighbors do it?" I asked.
"I just want to make sure to be doing things the right way."
"I'm going to have to write about this in my blog, you know," I told him.
"I know -- I don't care."
And he doesn't. One of the things I love best about David is he doesn't mind me writing about him. This is an incredibly valuable trait in someone who shares their life with a writer, especially an essayist.That, and that he'll protect me from the mountain lion coming through the screen.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Instead you get Teddy watching the sunset. Or maybe looking for quail in the chamisa.
It could have been that it was sunnier and brighter today. The last two days they all trooped by and pecked around in the gravel around 9:15. You can hear them coming, snooting around in the juniper to the west of the house. They chuckle amongst themselves as they approach. Then they scurry into sight from around the yucca plants.
They don't stay long. Maybe ten minutes, before they head off in a line again, heading farther east. Sometimes I see them come back through in the evening.
Today dawned bright and clear, however, so they might have started their perambulations earlier. Not like the cool misty mornings of the last two days. I, too, am resuming my schedule. As mine solidifies, I should better learn theirs.
We've gone running the last two mornings, though we're not back to getting up at 5:30. I've been productive at the day job. And now I'm going to work on my book revision. A file that has not been open since July 19, over a month ago. And I'm reasonably certain, by the timing of that date, that it was only to send it to an agent I met at RWA National. The outtakes file is dated June 2.
A sinking feeling tells me I haven't worked on it since June.
Time flies when you're losing your mind.
I had a little crisis this morning. My friend, Leanna Renee Hieber, celebrated the release of her first book yesterday, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. In fact, several friends had releases in the last few days. I tried not to be too envious. But then I also received my "royalty statement" from UNM Press for Wyo Trucks, which shows that the book is really dead to the world at this point. Never mind that I haven't been putting in ANY effort to sell it lately.
Nor into my revision of Obsidian.
Nor into writing anything new.
Thus: my crisis.
But my friend Allison was on the other other end of the IM with the perfect pep talk. She made me realize that all this means is that I have my head above water again, that I'm even thinking about my writing career again, instead of what box my frying pan might be in. It makes me think of Maslow's Pyramid of Needs, a model that has served me well all my life. Basically the idea is that, if a lower tier on the pyramid isn't handled, you can't possibly reach a higher tier. What sucks for us artist types? Creativity is the very top piece. Which basically means you have to have everything else in your life handled first.
But I have my manuscript open. I've got some great ideas from Allison on working my way back in.
Wonder-Twin Power? Self-Actualize!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
I know you soaked East Coasters & Southerners are not impressed. But here, after a week of no precipitation in the desert, the rain fell like a miracle.
I'm trying to define it: how Santa Fe is different than Laramie. And no, they are NOT as different as you might think. Last night we had drinks with a man who'd moved from Massachusetts, eager to tell us about our new habitat.
"Have you noticed," he asked, "that if you spill something on your shirt, it dries right away?" We were conflicted. We appreciated the welcome cocktail invitation. We felt grateful that they embraced us in our new community. But yes, we knew that, about stuff drying quickly. Santa Fe is not all that different than Laramie.
6700 feet here vs. 7200 feet in altitude back in Laramie. Both are high-altitude deserts. Laramie gets an average of 12 inches of precipation a year; Santa Fe get 15 inches a year. For those keeping score at home, New Orleans can get 8 inches in one storm. Seattle gets an average of 142 inches a year.
Here the Santa Fe vs. Laramie difference is: Laramie gets most of the moisture in the early spring snows while Santa Fe gets it in the summer monsoons.
And it had gotten hot here this last week. 97 degrees on Saturday, whereas the record high for Laramie is 89. (Yeah, I know - both are dry heats.) Worse, it didn't cool at night. We've been used to our mountain nights, dropping to 45 degrees for cool sleeping. This last week, we'd been waking up to 67. David was not sleeping well.
Which means none of us were.
I'm assured that, this last week of hot nights, is unusual weather in Santa Fe. However, I feel compelled to point out that another guest at last night's gathering told us the cool rainy weather was highly unusual. In fact, on four separate occasions now, we've been told the current Santa Fe weather is not typical.
We're reserving judgement.
But something about yesterday's rain... Because we were hot. Because we were tired. Because I really wanted to try out my new fourt-foot-tall rain catchment pot and my new rain chain. When the rain arrived, we revelled.
Nobody in Laramie, that I know of, has rain catchment barrels. Here, they're an art form. Rain is more rare in Laramie, but here it is more precious. I don't quite understand why.
But somehow here it felt like a gift, falling with music and grace and bounty.
I've learned not to question such gifts.
Friday, August 21, 2009
What I learned today?
It's pronounced "ah-saw-EE" berry. Who knew?? All this time, I'd been thinking Acai berry was "a-CAY." I won't say I'd been pronouncing it that way, because I can't vouch that I'd ever said the word out loud. But when the spam subject lines float by in my cursory examinations of quarantine land, my internal reader had the amazing diet solution as a-CAY.
I heard it on the radio. Several times now, the same ad. Finally it clicked through my consciousness. Try ah-saw-EE! Amazing diet blabbedy blah.
You likely don't care. Or, if you did, you already knew. I'm just so amused that within days of moving to Santa Fe, I now know how to correctly pronounce the latest herbal diet fad.
Apropos of nothing, I know.
So, here it is, eve of my 43rd birthday. Cumulus clouds are mounding in billows of navy and white over the paper-doll mountains. The golden light is slanting. I'm pretty sure I saw Georgia O'Keeffe's ghost out dancing with the quail.
Time for a glass of wine on the patio.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
So dramatic. But it's all such a pain in the patootey that I'm feeling dramatic. Picture me swooning, back of my hand against my forehead. Oh Ashley!
Too much? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
But here's the deal: I'm in the Burlington, Vermont airport, hoping to wing home through thunderstorms in Dulles to get to Denver at midnight. I'll spend the night at my mother's, hop up and drive to Laramie at 7 am. Signing closing papers on the Santa Fe house at 10am, finishing the final load of the U-Haul and driving to Denver to spend one more night there, then on to Santa Fe to take possession on Friday.
And that's if everything goes perfectly.
The last two days have been a mad scramble of last-minute paperworks. Exchanging one chunk of money for another. My poor mother and Stepfather Dave -- who owes me nothing, it should be said -- have been scrambling to be our personal bridge loan. My mother has been to Kinko's THREE times in the last two days, to send faxes for me. Let me tell you, the whole diaper changing/nursing/labor thing pales in comparison. It's been both silly and infuriating. Selling one house and buying another on the same day is incredibly fraught. I don't recommend it.
Eh, I wouldn't listen to me, either.
I'd say stay tuned, but maybe you won't be able to. The Qwest folks are scheduled to install internet for me next Wednesday. So, really, if you DON'T hear from me until Wednesday, all is well.
If things go badly... well, brace yourselves for ranting.
It's entirely possible I'll be spending the weekend in Denver and closing on Monday in Santa Fe. We'll just see, won't we?
But look: here's our plane to Dulles, fully an hour before departure! The windows look out on a blue sky, gently lit by a declining sun. One cumulus cloud mounds in singular splendor over the mountain. Two hot air balloons have launched, one blue, one read, drifting serenely.
All is well, I'm thinking.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Dave is now my mother's husband, my second stepfather. But before he met my mother, Dave had determined that he would be a lonely widower for the rest of his days. He began to eliminate. He decided it was foolish to have more than one cup, one plate, one bowl. No Martha Stewart enhancements for him; if Dave couldn't use it on a daily basis, off it went.
We've been living with just a few things this past week. My mom came up mid-week and packed up the remaining books and all of the kitchen. Except for those dishes we needed to live on for the week. We wash those few dishes frequently and it's just fine. They're our most favorite dishes and utensils, so it doesn't feel like a hardship.
In fact, it feels liberating.
I can see the sense in Dave Beck living. The simplicity. The aescetics of it.
Purging is a kind of catharsis. A release of all the power that objects hold. It can be saddening, to rid oneself of possessions, remembering how it came to you, what it meant. But in releasing it, you also liberate those things.
Perhaps then they float back again. Unencumbered.
Friday, August 7, 2009
And I realized that it meant nothing to me. At least for right now.
I mean, I knew it was Friday. Mainly because we had an appointment to sign our closing papers this morning. And to take the Jeep in to have the brake rotors replaced. And because Karen and Bob were arriving in the afternoon to load the motorcycle and outdoor furniture into their horse trailer, to haul to Santa Fe for us.
Nothing party about that, so much. At least, not the day-specific kind.
When my mom went to India, she mentioned that, that every day blended into the next. There were no rush hours, no Monday mornings, no early Sunday stillness. No TGIF. Someone else remarked that that kind of timelessness is an earmark of an ancient culture. Certainly their culture transcends -- or eludes -- the typical Western rhythm of business.
My timelessness is more at the other end of the scale. My busyness emerges from a cycle of work that is no longer limited to particular days and hours. I work as much as I can at my career-job: I put in 40 hours this week by Thursday morning. In the evenings I pack until I can't stay awake. This last month has been such a cycle of travel -- twice for work, one of which included some vacation, once for a writing conference, which is like work, only funner, and once for house-hunting, which was kind of like a vacation that involved a lot of work.
I've been, literally, about 1,000 emails behind since July 2.
I haven't written a word all month, besides this blog.
I went an entire week without putting on makeup. I know this because when I went to put some on today for our closing papers appointment, I had to unpack my cosmetics from the Tennessee trip.
Friday? Not so much.
But that this whole ''season" of my life, the big move, is almost over? Oh yes!
Monday, August 3, 2009
I spent the weekend getting rid of stuff. If you haven't been following along, we have to clear out the house by August 13. Next Thursday, for the calendar-challenged among you. Yes, we have time. But I can tell you, this particular stone has accumulated a serious amount of moss over the past 21 years. In an arid climate, too.
My moves before this were either as a young woman who owned practically nothing (18-22) or within the same small town over a few blocks. I've lived a lot of places within Laramie, but only two in the last 16 years.
When David and I moved out of the (much smaller) house we'd shared for 11 years, it went okay until we hit the basement. Time slowed as we dug out the sedimentary layers of toys and obsolete computer parts. Things we'd moved into the house and never used were in the far back corners, whispering quietly to themselves in the dank dark.
In this house, it's the attic.
My (wonderful) Aunt Karen drove up from Montrose, Colo. (read: a long way) to help for two days and drive home again. She felt like she didn't make much of a dent, but she helped me clear the attic spaces. Even though she had to ask for a flashlight to get back into the dark, "scary parts." Dark, scary parts filled with decades of obnoxious roofing dust from when they ripped off the roof last fall to replace it. Second only in sinus-yuck factor to coal dust from when David and I remodeled the old coal bin in the previous house. Blew black snot for days. Looking into the blackened tissues, I thought of my Kennedy grandfather who died of black lung.
The attic is now clear. I rid myself of a thirty-year collection of fabric. I know. It's a disease. I even had fabric I took from my other aunt when she had to build a separate shed to house HER fabric collection. You'd think it would have been a cautionary tale. No no no.
But I'm free now.
Gone is the sewing machine and all the fabric. No more quilting until I'm making a living as a writer. Tobiah's baby quilt was the last, which is somehow fitting.
Gone are the Breyer model horses I've saved from childhood. Into the arms of a little girl in a sparkly purple body suit, who spun around and carried the box back to her mother's Suburban, where her brothers impatiently waited.
I'm good with that. Gone also are the old bean bag chairs, the boom box with tape-to-tape record, the four-drawer filing cabinet and the boxes of overhead transparencies. All via Freecycle. I love Freecycle. You send an email to the loop with an offer and people respond. They come and take it away with happy smiles.
One of my friends who left Laramie a year ago asked how I'm managing the good-byes, since we completely blew having a going-away party. She did it well, arranging carefully sequenced farewell drinks and meals.
No such grace from me.
I'm using the serendipity method. Which is a nice way of saying I'm not arranging it at all. People have stopped by, knowing we're packing. With all the fraught-ness that word entails. Ann offered to bring us sandwiches, which was one of the nicest things anyone could offer.
And I'm meeting the new arrivals in Laramie. The ones who are moving in for the new semester and love to have our ratty old sunroom couch. The girls from Texas, filling up their five-room house in Tie Siding with Freecycle finds while their boyfriends go to school at Wyo Tech. After that, they'll go back to Texas, they assure us. We don't know what they'll do with all the stuff. And the mother of the little girl in the sparkly purple top, who asked me where to buy plants that would thrive so well in Laramie.
Blessings and good fortune in this little town to them all.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Twenty-one years ago this month I moved to Laramie, full of loneliness and ambition. I'd left my college friends behind, a network so intimate and involved that they still feel like family. I came to Laramie for graduate school. The starkness of those early days is still vivid. Living in my little apartment with my cats. My desk in the lab with my manic/depressive Hungarian (is that redundant?) PhD advisor, the air filled with his cigarrette smoke. All the friends who've come and gone over the years: grad students, professors, Silver Sagers.
This morning, David and I went for a walk around Washington Park. Then went for Saturday morning Starbucks (I get to have a peppermint mocha twist on Saturdays! Sugar-free the rest of the week) and Daylight donuts (the other special Saturday treat). We drove past our old house, the one we bought in '93 and sold five years ago. The aspen tree we planted for Father's Day that first summer stands taller than the apartment building next door. All around it cluster smaller aspen, the ones David and Mike illegally salvaged from the dump, when Walmart discarded them after a hailstorm.
We saw two friends at the donut shop. The writer Mark Jenkins, who's off to Tibet next week for National Geographic and taking his fabulous wife, Sue along, and one of David's Game & Fish cronies.
I think this is how it will be -- the gradual good-byes. We ran out of time for a party. But this works. Saying good-bye to each thing in the course of errands. To each person as I gather, pack and redistribute around town.
To the vultures who circle above the skylights in my writing studio, sweeping out to the valley, following the cycle of their days.