Friday, December 17, 2010

Does this blog make my butt look big?

I'm sooooo excited! I just got an email from Daphne G. at a site called Daphne just had to tell me she was 'super impressed' by my blog's design and content. Oh, really, Daphne?

Tell me, tell me, tell me, cause I'm just dyyyying to know... what is it about the 'design' that superimpressed you? The boilerplate template, or the sheep? Ha, it's the sheep! (It's always the sheep.) And the content that you found so scintillating...I'll bet anything that it was my post that explored the topic of cesspools vs. septic tanks. That grabs readers like no body's business.

Let me back up and explain about

You see, in my world nothing makes less sense than getting a spam invitation to join a fashion review site like If, like me, you've never heard of Lookville, it's a site where people can post pix of an outfit or accessory they've put together or are considering and get reviews from readers, followers and random fashionistas. Subscribers either model the outfit themselves or post manufacturer's advertising photos.

I have two issues with getting hit with this...the first is that NOTHING could be more irrelevant for my world. Not one of the reviews touched on irrigation boots, Sorels, hats with ear flaps, really sturdy work gloves, or the fashion style my husband likes to refer to as 'Paonia-chic' which essentially means yoga pants under a frilly skirt, accessorized by homemade jewelry and knit hats. Cover the whole mess with an over-sized hand-knit woolly sweater, something handwoven, or if all else fails, a good barn coat, and you're good to go. That outfit will get you anywhere you want to go in the North Fork Valley. (Any of the bars, pizza places, the Paradise theatre or City Market)

You just don't see peep toe patent leather electric blue booties with five inch heels around here, and if you did, it would be kind of a freakshow, because it wouldn't be more than 3 minutes before the wearer of said booties would end up ass-over-teakettle in the gravel, or worse yet, in a snowbank. Plus, the elements would totally trash any really good shoes.

The second problem I've got with this is the site itself. It's really kind of a bitch-fest. Imagine gathering up all the people you know who obsess over all things superficial (as a reference, I'm going back to my brief career in cosmetics) and give them a vehicle for being nothing but judgmental. It's one thing to carefully select an's another to have new shoes be your sole (get it?) reason for living. Now factor in the element that Internet communications have the credibility of stuff written on a bathroom wall, (Yes, this blog is included) and you have a whole bunch of people making judgements about stuff that at the end of the day, does not have the power to change the world. (OMG we were going to declare war on that village but chose not to because of how cool they looked...that, and we did not want their substandard goats.)

Hey...if you want an opinion on statement bags, over-the-knee-boots, or floral platform pumps, try making up your own mind.

What I really find amazing is the level of insecurity out there.

Here's a new idea for fashion. Put it on. See how it feels. If you don't feel like you're going to fall over, or vomit, then go ahead and look in the mirror. If you're a city dweller or business person, can you dash for a cab? Move and bend in the middle? If you still don't feel nauseated, then ask yourself, do I like it? Do I like it? If so, go for it. Wear it in good health. Please yourself.

Why in the world do people care so much for the opinions of folks they don't even know, respect or worse yet; know are trying to sell them stuff? Why do we let the opinions of others define us? If you really need some feedback on that leopard print dress, ask someone you trust, who cares enough to be honest. Try asking someone whose style is real, wearable, and doesn't live in an airbrushed world of one-dimension.

Oh, and another thing...if you guys at Lookville were really on it, you wouldn't be spamming like a lottery scam from Nigeria.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The voices in my head won't stop talking about me...

Things have not been going smoothly in our household as of late, for a variety of different reasons, but isolation, unpredictable weather and a lack of appreciation for contemporary culture are all contributing factors.
If you were to ask my husband his opinion on the cause of the difficulties, he'd ponder for about a tenth of a second, then offer as an explanation that he's married to a crazy woman. I can't really dispute the fact that I've kind of cornered the market on unpleasantness recently...and am beginning to understand both the terms 'cabin fever' and the reason why while traveling west, pioneer women sometimes went whack-ding and took out their entire families with any weapon they could get their wind-chapped hands on.
Over the past few weeks I've seriously considered whether or not a Bundt pan could be used as a lethal weapon. Rural translation...stay out of my way, or you'll be wearing that bake-sale donation. Oh yeah, and stop judging.
Wait, this isn't coming out right. I still love the small town life...but seeing the same few blocks of 'downtown', with the same characters permanently parked there...YIKES! The thought that everyone in town knows your business, but can't recognize the guest host on SNL can really get on a girl's nerves after a while, especially when that girl and her guy are busy yelling at each other. Even if there is no malice involved on the part of the townsfolk, it still makes me yearn for the days when I could be both anonymous and connected at the same time. Back in California, if I referred to my beloved as an asshat under my breath, there was no one who would report it back to him. And...people there knew what an asshat was.
I'm almost done with my mad-on over this; because just when it gets to the point when I think I'm going to lose it and start screaming obscenities at livestock, or the next person who wants to know how I am so they can use the information like a Kroger coupon ( SERIOUSLY, THERE ARE NO SECRETS HERE!) the community comes together and does something really wonderful, and just like in a working marriage...all is forgiven.
Over the past couple of weeks, while I've been hiding out; finding solace in Classic Coke (go for the kind in glass bottles, it must be 'Hecho in Mexico', because it's made with cane sugar and tastes just like it did when we were kids) and Cheezy Puffs (FYI: wash your hands after you eat these...the J, K, and P keys on my laptop are permanently dyed orange from cheezy puff powder. Not pretty) the good folks of the North Fork Valley (yeah, the same ones I've been bitching about) have raised a bunch of money for scholarships, as well as put on a party and provided an abundance of Christmas gifts for children who would otherwise have no holiday at all.
Again, I come face to face with another example of the good, the bad, and the ugly... only this time a big chunk of the ugly has been of my own creation.
The next time cabin fever rears it's nasty head, a little imagination and effort channelled into a road trip and some exposure to city life should fix it. I'll be 100% over it, and back in small-town appreciation mode again. Except from now on, when someone wants to know my business...I'll just make shit up.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Meet your Meat...

OK...I'm a hypocrite. I'll be the first to admit it. A semi-recovering-half-assed- vegetarian-WHO DOES NOT WANT TO MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH MY FOOD! That's a reality of living in a rural farm community I'll never get used to, and have a bad case of 'not fitting in'. Seriously, this is a group I don't want to fit in with. I don't want to 'celebrate' the slaughter, I don't want to stand knee-deep in blood, and I certainly don't want to go to farm classes where you can learn how to kill a sheep or goat or pig or whatever. I know it's hypocritical. I know its shallow, and unrealistic. I don't care. I'm careful about the meat I consume- I just don't want to have a hand in killing it. There are all kinds of things around town to participate in,
This is the kind of thing I get emails about regularly; for example...

High Wire Ranch, 27497 Buffalo Rd., Hotchkiss, CO: Buffalo and Elk sausage / meat tasting - Farm Tours - Meet the animals!
Droste Chocolates from Eckert, CO
Wine Tasting by S. Rhodes Vineyards

Meat tasting, and Meet the animals. NO THANK YOU!
I do however, have a HUGE interest in the chocolate. It rocks. They have chocolates that rival See's, and some are dusted in gold. I get the chills just thinking about them. But...I digress.

I don't think it's all that 'healthy' to build a relationship with something you're going to kill and eat. Otherwise, it would be perfectly OK to knock off Fluffy and Fido- and it isn't. If it were, sit-coms and movies wouldn't constantly be playing up the trauma I would simply like to not be told I'm strange because the whole 'joy of the kill' thing gives me the ick.

I'm not about to go out and join PETA...they have a special talent in pissing people off, but for the life of me I don't know how you can bond with an animal, name it, care for it, and not get emotionally attached- and if you do get emotionally attached and kill it anyway, that seems even scarier.

I used to really hate the idea of hunting, but compared to taking out a cow or pig or sheep you've nurtured since infancy, it's starting to not sound so bad.

I've lost my wonderment with the earth-cookie folks around here who want to dance around and celebrate the kill.
Some of them really creep me out. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if they didn't dress so weird, and give me the stink-eye when I run into them in the City Market and they notice that I have a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese in the grocery cart. For the record, I always try and hide the blue box under something organic. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Anyway...judgement goes both ways-and if I'm going to be judged about eating plastic mac & cheese, then I get to say what I think about getting friendly with your dinner before you lop its head off. It's whack.

I think there would be a whole lot more vegetarians out there if everyone had to kill their own food, because there are lots of hypocrites like me, and if people are honest, really honest, the killing part is very distasteful. Tell the truth- when you witnessed Sarah Palin gleefully beating the crap out of the halibut on her reality show, didn't you really want to slap her silly? I just saw a 30-second promo, and I wanted to knock her smug-shrill-half-gov-quitting ass right into the water, because she seemed to take such gusto in bashing the fish. Sick. She makes us feel for the fish. How about last year, when she was caught being totally oblivious to a turkey being slaughtered behind her, as she gave a PR speech for the camera. That got all kinds of attention...Why? Because it repulsed normal folk. That's all I'm's perfectly normal, and OK to be repulsed by the act of killing, blood, guts, etc. Even if it's just livestock.

The house my mother bought has a slaughterhouse behind the back fence. She didn't know it at the time she bought it, and one of the differences between California and Colorado is... um....zoning. Oh, yeah, and they way they deal with disclosure. She genuinely believed the big metal building was a game processing plant, until she was all moved in and the deliveries of cows, sheep, pigs and goats started at all hours- about two feet beyond her back fence. The activities that go on within earshot have made her totally revert back to her old vegetarian ways. Perhaps it runs in the family.

So I guess you could chalk this up as one of my 'uglies' for living in rural Colorado. Not so fast. The quality of the meat is way better than anything I could get easily in CA...even if it comes with a price. I think I"ll go make a nice salad.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...

Serious lack of posts as of late. Maybe it's the crappy weather that finally seems to be shifting, maybe it's missing the ocean, maybe it's the lack of decent Chinese food. Could be nothing more than the fact that I've become a big bag of excuses. Inspiration comes from the oddest places...My good Colorado experience is really indicative of life in a small town. My husband broke his eyeglasses for the 4,218th time. He's really hard on eyeglasses, but that's a story for another day. He's been wearing one pair without those little plastic nose-thingies for weeks, and didn't complain about the discomfort (much) until we were walking through the supermarket parking lot (yes, it's about the only place I ever go) and his sunglasses just fell apart, and fell right off his face. He couldn't put it off any longer- he had to go to the optical store (which was a 2 minute walk from the house) and get both pair fixed. First off, I think it's amazing that a town of 1000 people has an optician. Second, that she repaired both pair of his glasses while he waited, and refused to charge him anything. They engaged in a polite argument until she agreed to accept payment. I'm sure she finally relented because my husband can be really, really loud, and he reminded her that she'd already fixed his glasses for him and not charged him and he simply would never be able to come back if he wasn't allowed to pay her. As a result, she charged him $12.00 for fixing both pair. He still feels guilty. That's the good side of small town life.

The bad story is that last Tuesday I was too busy missing the ocean to cook dinner. I whined until my husband broke down and agreed to go to the only place we knew we could get a good pizza. The restaurant in question doesn't open for business until 5:00 pm. At 7:58 pm, he walked in to order our pizza and was told, "Kitchen's closed." Really? "Wait- you guys just opened a few hours ago. When do you close?" THEY CLOSE AT 8:00. THE PIZZA RESTAURANT IS OPEN FOR 3 HOURS A NIGHT. THAT'S IT! So, needless to say, he came home empty-handed, and by that time, the grocery store was closed, too- so we couldn't even get cardboard frozen pizza. I don't have to go into detail about how this did not improve my frame of mind. We drove the three block downtown area, hoping perhaps we'd missed an eatery that may be open after 8:00 on a Tuesday. No luck. By then I was too pissed off to cook (anything I would have attempted would have been toxic) but as we were turning on the highway to drive 9 miles to the next tiny town, we noticed the Stop & Save which is a gas station and convenience store that also doubles as a pizza restaurant.

I can't believe I've made it this long and not had gas station pizza. The best part was the clerk's response when we ordered a pizza with mushrooms and olives.
"For the same price you can get Lotsameat!" she was bubbling with enthusiasm.
"What kind of meat is it?" I asked, still considering myself a half-assed 'former' vegetarian.
She wrinkled her nose and stared at the asbestos-tiled ceiling. "I'm not sure, but there's lots of it, and it's the same price as the mushrooms!"
We convinced her that we'd be just fine without an extra 6lbs. of what was most likely pork-product, and she told us they'd put our pizza in the oven and we'd be good to go- in 25 minutes.

I don't know how many of you have spent 25 minutes waiting in a gas-station-convenience-store-pizza-restaurant, but it's just loads of fun, especially when you're cranky, hungry and tired.

We walked up and down every aisle, at least 47 times. We bought a hat (it was on sale!) a Beatles lunchbox (it was a limited edition!) 4 candy bars we had not seen since we were kids (they tasted like they may have actually been produced in the 1960's) 2 new flavors of gum, (did you know they make Pina Colada gum?) a few personal care products that I am far too discreet to mention, but unlike me, they do not contain an expiration date, and a box of dog snacks, because the dog would be really ticked off at us when we returned home. After all, we told him we were going out for 5 minutes. That's the bad part of small town life.

Here's the thing- when you live in a rural area, you learn to turn any experience into an opportunity. This gas-station-pizza experience gave me the chance to seek entertainment in the most ordinary of settings (plus I got a pretty cool hat) and it also gave us a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the local economy. The pizza was a bargain at $12 bucks. The shopping we did at the convenience store added another $38.00 to the evening's total. I still don't know what kind of meat comes on the Lotsameat special. That's the ugly part.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

your business model is...poop!

I haven't posted anything for a while- a sheer lack of inspiration that was instantly vanquished by the signage posted on a vehicle I followed for a little while today on Highway 133 (or as my husband, the consummate Californian, says...THE 133) Anyway, the sign on the truck advertised the business: CHEERFUL CESSPOOL SERVICE. Oh Yeah. First off; I want to know why. How is anyone all that cheerful about providing a 'cesspool' service? This is the next best advertising slogan I've ever seen on a vehicle. The best one was on a truck I passed on the way to the White Plains airport, which read, XYZ CLEAN-UP. WE'RE #1 IN THE #2 BUSINESS along with WE PICK UP WHERE YOUR DOG LEFT OFF. But that was a few years ago. I'd laughed, then pretty much forgotten about it. There's really something sophomoric about poo humor. But this reminded me of another thing...when is the last time you heard the term 'cesspool' if it wasn't referring to city life or moral decay or various other things that republicans try to make everyone frightened of? When someone is talking about an actual cesspool they often mean a septic tank. As I've been informed, (TMI) cesspools are not legal in many places anymore. Some of the differences involve things like drainage slopes, sewage chambers, and mortar. Please don't ask me how I know this. It has to do with being on the receiving end of a very uncomfortable phone call involving a neighbor's property and a very drunk friend of theirs who pooped in their toilet while they were on vacation and clogged up their plumbing and what they found creeping into the bathtub upon their return. Not pretty. That's why I know it's a septic tank, and I know that it requires proper maintenance. But in all the scary stories I've heard; nothing ever involved the Cheerful Cesspool Service. However, if we'd known about them- we'd probably have referred them to the neighbors in distress. Most likely, they could have picked up where someone left off.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

not buying the P & G mommy pander...

OK...I should start with the fact that I actually watched more of the Vancouver Olympics than any Olympic Games since the tragic Summer Olympics of 1972. Maybe it's just my love of all things Canadian (especially Brent Butt, the fact that there a President Kennedy Avenue in Montreal, pretty much any comedian from Toronto, the Fairmont Palliser Hotel in Calgary, and the entire city of Vancouver, even though my sister was kind of kidnapped by some random loggers when she was visiting as a teenager. Jeez, I hope my mother isn't reading this...) watching so much of the Olympic Games, I couldn't help but notice the Procter and Gamble "Thanks, Mom" ad campaign.
Now, I need to clarify. I'm a mom, and if I do say so myself, I've done a lot for my kids that they should say thank you for. But first off, so has their dad, and second, no one needs a corporate reminder from P&G to yank our emotions around to say thank you. I found it offensive on many levels. First off- they completely excluded Dads from the equation, and that's not right. I know lots of heroic single moms, and single dads, and traditional families, and blended families, and same-sex families who are doing their best for their kids, and sacrificing, and doing the heavy lifting, (and not going on publicity tours like the former governor of Alaska)and I think it totally sucks that P & G left Dads out of their ad campaign, as if they don't matter. It's like saying half the population doesn't matter. Yeah, yeah, yeah, there are lots of dads who are not much more than sperm donors. But there are a hell of a lot more out there who get up and go to work, then start up at home, cleaning the kid barf off the back of the car seat, and spend hours convincing the 2 year old he's not going to get sucked down the bathtub drain, stand up to the bullying gym teacher, take the slutty clothes away from the 12-year-old who borrowed them from her friend, call the friend's house to make sure if there are weapons in the home where your kids are spending the night, they are locked up; then sit up all night with a broken hearted 14-year-old, patiently explaining that it gets better, but right now life is going to hurt for a while. I know about the Dad who lets you wake him up at 3:00 am for a ride home, because the friend you went out with snuck some stuff to drink and now you both need a ride home. I know about catching hell for screwing up, but also the comfort in knowing that all would be forgiven. I understand about the Mom and Dad team. I had one. I am part of one. I'm married to a guy who embraced all those necessary 'Dad' things- including driving his kids bat-shit crazy, and I can't imagine trying to raise healthy humans without that energy. I also can't imagine why P&G felt it was necessary to exclude Dad in their warm, fuzzy commercials. So, to Proctor and's not just Moms that do stuff, and (hello??) buy stuff. On top of all this, you picked the Vancouver Olympics to do the "Thanks Mom" roll-out. Canadians have raised 'please and thank you' to an art form, in case no one has noticed...without P & G prompting us. Maybe it's just time to broaden those horizons a bit. Perhaps take a new look at what makes up a family, and if you want to reach out with a warm fuzzy; reach out to everyone who plays a role in raising healthy humans. There's a whole lot of Grandma's and Grandpa's out there too, who may appreciate a shout out. I'm just sayin...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Not political, but...

Just found this photo in personal archives. Taken on 9/21/2008. In case any of the Obama-blamers in town (or out-of town) can't recall, that's prior to the 2008 election. Sometimes it is really important for everyone to remember what the world was like during the eight years that the Repos were in office...just so we don't do it again. Yeah, it would help if the Demos weren't so spineless...however- does anyone with a brain want to go back to a Republican majority? We should never, ever forget what it was like, so we don't do it again- and we don't allow a frightened, uneducated, lazy minority of voters from the bible belt to decide for us

You can say whatever you want about me being a crazy,ranting, middle aged white woman... but while you're here, look! Here's a picture of my cat!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Make Congressional Republicans give up their government-run health care...

One of the things I really appreciate about this little town is the way that people tend to get along well, despite their differences. Some of the nicest folks I've met have political statements emblazoned across the sides of their quad-cab, 4WD pick-up trucks that make me want to vomit through the open window on to the generous front seat of the aforementioned vehicle. Except that the person driving the truck, advertising the ignorant, homophobic, xenophobic, selfish, disingenuous attitude seems like a really decent human being. I don't get it.
I didn't get it yesterday, watching the Health Care Summit from Blair House. I mostly listened, without actually looking at the CNN screen; and without looking at the captions, it was ever-so-easy to tell the Repos. They sounded smirky, smarmy, and supremely selfish and dishonest.(claiming the American people are wholly against the health care proposal...but failing to mention that when read the provisions it covers, the majority of Americans support it!) But then, with the exception of President Obama, a whole bunch of Demos sounded like wienies. I'm so sick of the whole mess I wish we could find some kind of Constitutional provision that would allow for taking health coverage away from every member of the House and Senate (and their families, to add some real pressure) until they can sit down and work this out. It's difficult and complicated. So is being an American. Those tea-bagging idiots who march around with misspelled signage should be strongly encouraged to spend as much time actually reading the Constitution and attempting to understand it as they do flapping their lips and scrawling angry messages on pieces of cardboard. I understand their anger- but what I don't understand, and find intolerable is where they direct their anger. Where was this anger during the eight years that the Bush administration worked quietly to weaken regulations? Dick Cheney, who can't seem to keep his mouth shut now, certainly found it necessary to keep energy policy mum...nary a word escaped his loose lips when he actually had an opportunity to serve the American people. Digression...back to health care; I keep hearing this anger about 'government run health care' and fear about the 'government' making health care decisions. What I want is for one of these opposition Repo brain trusts to explain to me like I'm a six year old..."How is government-run health care going to be worse for me than a for-profit company that makes decisions for me? Here's my reality: Both my husband and I receive our health care through government run entities. It wasn't always this way. I used to have private health insurance, provided from a major for-profit company. It went from a cost of $700.00 per month to $1657.00 per month for a family of four- over the course of five years. In addition, they placed increasing restrictions on what procedures I could receive, the deductible I would pay, when I could have procedures done, and where I could have treatment. It was impossible to speak with a human being, unless, of course it was about a payment that was due. When they dropped my coverage, (because I actually needed it) they didn't bother to send a notification. I found out when I went to pick up a prescription and it wasn't covered. Fast forward to 2010. Since we moved, since I signed up for the dreaded 'government run' health coverage, my costs have been reasonable, the care I receive has been superior, and the system has been amazingly efficient. (FYI: Medicare runs with administrative costs of approx. 2-3%. The last report I read, Aetna came in at 22%) My husband gets his medical through the VA- another example of personal experience running counter to public opinion. We'd always heard that care through the VA would be inferior to what we would receive privately. The reality we've experienced is the exact opposite. The VA facility in Grand Junction CO could be held as an example of how to do things- if you want a system that runs efficiently, treats patients kindly, with respect, and most of all, addresses their needs.
Over the past 15 years, all the time we had private insurance (that we paid dearly for) it became glaringly apparent that the quality of the medical care we'd been receiving was slipping badly. Through no fault of their own, our doctors were spending less time gathering information, being less attentive, prescribing more medication, rushing through office visits. At the same time the costs to patients are rising out of control, insurance company profits and pharmaceutical company profits continue to rise. No reasonable person is against profits- but this is so out of proportion it's insanity. The Repos would have you believe that most people who have no health insurance have chosen not to be covered. Seriously? How stupid to they think we are? Wait, let me read some of those protest signs about offing Grandma again. Yeah, pretty stupid. If the tea-baggers want to be pissed at the government, they should be pissed at the past administrations (both Demos & Repos) who refused to regulate, hold people accountable, and make some tough decisions. We see what happens when you leave corporations to their own devices. It's why we are where we are. But right now, I just want the Demos to grow a pair, stand up to the old white men who only know no, and start acting like Demos. I want the Republicans to remove the insurance lobbyist's lips from their big white asses, and put their money where their big fat negative self-serving mouths are. If they are so against government run health care, they should give theirs up. Shut up, stop being hypocrites, and stop using government run health care if you are going to bad mouth it. And if you're that nice guy in town with all the anti Obama crap all over your truck, I'm the one who yakked on your front seat.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Uh-oh, it's stupid calling...

Years ago, I did a brief stint working for a cosmetic company. I won't mention any names, but they wear white lab coats and promote a fresh, well-groomed, flawless appearance. (at that time, they never allowed us to wear fragrance, except for the one and only that they manufactured, which drove me crazy and had me in perpetual hot water with my district manager) I digress... It was 1989, after the 7.1 Loma Prieta quake in CA that made me question my priorities; my job, my judgement in general. I decided to quit a full-time job at an advertising agency where, like everyone else who does the heavy lifting at an ad agency, I was overworked and underpaid- so I could spend more time with my kids. Never mind that they weren't wild about the idea of spending more time with me...that's a story for another day. I still needed to work, but I wanted to do something 'fun'. I wanted to work a few hours a day instead spending 60 hour weeks bitching at vendors and putting up with anal retentive art directors. I wanted to be home to prepare a decent meal. I wanted to have time to pee more than once a day. The day after the earthquake, when the agency principal thought he'd still be traveling from the East Bay to SF for a client meeting, in spite of the fact that the Bay Bridge had collapsed (how do you even function when you're so disconnected from reality?)
I realized that I could have died in that confining office, as the windows were breaking and things were flying off the shelves, so I quietly gave notice. Following a whim, I took a position as a part time rep for a well-known cosmetic company, and became the shallowest human being on planet earth. I liked it. It was fun, except that the other women who worked there were mercilessly critical when it came to each other's appearance. Standard greetings sounded something like this... "Hey, you need lips! Jesus Christ, who did your eyebrows, the dog? What the hell is going on with your upper lip? It's wax time. Wax time. Wax time!" It was relentless. And to add to my misery, a lot of my coworkers were incapable of carrying on a conversation that didn't center around whose husband they had just done, what dress they'd just charged, or what drug they were about to consume. Mention a current event and be rewarded with a look you'd expect from someone just out of electroshock treatment. Bring up a topic other than fashion, and you'd get the cold shoulder, then a harsh reminder that your eyeliner needed refreshing.
But, the products were cool, most of the customers were delightful, and it was absolutely the type of work where no one would ever call you at home with problems. (Oh, you have to come in right away, I can't seem to get the shade right on this eyeshadow...the budget and deadline are completely going to shit, and the client is going to pull everything if I don't get my eye make up corrected... not going to happen.) So, I cruised on happily for a few months, until one day, when in a hurry to get to the BART Station, I slipped on an icy patch (yes, there is ice in California...sometimes) and went down; face-first on the sidewalk. My friends will tell you I am not the most coordinated person. They'll be gracious and find other nice things to say about me, but they'll tell you I'm mostly a klutz. I have permanent scars on both knees from years of repeated tripping and falling over nothing more than suggestions. So, when I landed hard on my FACE, it wasn't pretty. I skinned my face, which wouldn't have been such an awful thing, except that my job was promoting make-up, and the marvelous things it could do for a person. I ended up with big ugly scrapes; but soldiering on, showed up at the better department store where I'd been assigned, only to be told that I couldn't work until my face healed up. So...for a week and a half, I didn't call in sick, I called in 'ugly'. (Their words, not mine)I should explain that I'm not exactly a great beauty to begin with... OK-looking, on good days, attractive, but this job was at a time in my life when I was much younger, and hell, who doesn't look great when they're in their 30's? The bandages I sported on one cheek and across my chin did not enhance my features. I totally understand why I was sent home. In a world where all energy focuses on achieving perfection, facial wounds are not a look to strive for.
Even going to the grocery store or riding BART, I was aware of averted eyes. It was pretty awful, and to make things worse, it really hurt. At least all the other times I'd fallen down and scraped the skin off various body parts, I could cover up the disaster with clothing. I'd pretty much forgotten about this, until last week. We had a couple of snow storms, which made everything look fresh, and flawless, and every one's yards look sort of well-groomed.
My world was covered in a pristine sparkling white as clean as my 1989 lab coat. I like that part of snow. The part I don't like is the sneaky part. The part that fools you.(and talks about you behind your back) The part that looks all dry and fluffy on top, but is thinly masking icy nastiness underneath. I discovered that part when I literally stepped in it. Carrying an open can of Friskies Sea Captains Choice (why is it the favorite of stray cats everywhere is the one with the most horrific aroma?) I sunk through the snow to the slick ice below, my feet slipped out from under me, and I ended up on my face. Once again. This time my socks were full of snow (no, I didn't bother to put my boots on, thank you) and my hair was full of cat food. I have to admit, this face-landing wasn't as traumatic as my California face-landing, as that one was on concrete. This was on snow. Also, the face I landed on is 21 years older, and I am no longer relying on it to help me earn a living. Plus, the folks around here are hardly a superficial lot- I'll bet I could walk into City Market or the Post Office, or even Ace Hardware with Band-Aids all over my face and people wouldn't look twice. They'd probably just think it was an unfortunate incident with a horse. Or cow. Or maybe a goat. But this time, I'll be calling in 'Stupid' for going out without my boots.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The stuff that gets stolen...

Besides reading classified ads, my other favorite pass time is the 'police blotter' sections of small-town papers. Back in the suburbs in NoCal, it rarely made for interesting reading. When we lived in Walnut Creek, it was all about 'stuff' that was stolen; when we moved to Pittsburg, there were the all-too-frequent reports of violence. This part is nothing to joke about. There was some bad stuff happening- shooting, stabbing, people beating the crap out of each other with furniture. (I'm not making this up, a while back there was an incident where two family members got into a disagreement during dinner, which escalated into a brawl in the street, where, before they could be pulled apart, they beat each other senseless with dining room chairs.) Although I was never personally affected more than having to drive around a detour of what we used to affectionately call 'police activity'. (we would run into 5 or 6 patrol cars parked in a chevron pattern in the middle of the street to block traffic while they chased the bad guys on foot) This would always set me to whining because it meant waiting an extra 15 minutes just to get to the freeway entrance, (sometimes just 100 yards ahead) where once on the freeway, I could sit for an extra hour waiting for more police vehicles to get by, when I just wanted to get to a destination a mere 9 miles away. Other people's violent behavior = more sitting in traffic. So insensitive! See, that's the kind of attitude that will keep me from ever being allowed back in California. Having been removed from this for a little over a year, I feel - well, removed from it. I decided to do a completely nonscientific survey and compare the police notes from my old newspaper to some I'd gleaned from the Delta County Independent. Just looking at the stuff that gets stolen, in Walnut Creek, CA in one week there were reports of: a camera stolen from a vehicle, a purse stolen from an unlocked vehicle, 2 laptops stolen from 2 different vehicles overnight, another purse stolen from a locked vehicle overnight, a wallet, an iPod, and a navigation system - all taken from different vehicles in different locations, at different times of the day. There was also a business theft; the report of some perfume products being stolen from a downtown retail establishment.

Let's take a look at Delta County... there were reports of a bottle containing some pills being stolen from an unlocked vehicle, some firewood being stolen from the back of a truck; a woman reported that a mirror, a television and her father's ashes had been stolen from her home (but the rest of the story is that they had been stolen by her sister.) Dipsticks were stolen from 2 tractors; and a trailer axle and a sluice box were also reported stolen. The business theft reported here involved a gas station reporting counterfeit five dollar bills. (Seriously...fives?)

What kind of self-respecting counterfeiter risks a trip to ClubFed for fives?

Back in CA...the really awful news that made national headlines earlier this week was from Richmond, CA- where 2 men opened fire during a church service Sunday, injuring two worshippers. Thankfully, no one was killed. I'm not sure if they caught the guys or not.

Sadly, I think there's a whole contingent of locals who just aren't that shocked by this one- the area has averaged about one murder per week of 2010, drive-by shootings are all too common; which is what happens when residents live by the 'no snitching' rule.

Yikes, I didn't mean to go there...but can't help but wonder if the same outraged churchgoers are the ones who are raising their kids not to 'snitch' to the cops...

Meanwhile, out on the Mesa...

A Hotchkiss man reported an incident of road rage. He reported the other driver stopped his car, got out, waved his arms and made threats. Another resident called 911 to report he was being harassed by telemarketers. OK, who hasn't been tempted to do that, especially when we just sat down to dinner or a new episode of NCIS just started?

Is there a take-away from this? Thieves get better stuff in California suburbs? People in rural areas call 911 for silly reasons? Delta County is no place for low-budget counterfeiters?
I think it's all relative-
One's thief's perfume is an other's sluice box...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What's that pole with the three lights for?

I don't think I'll ever be allowed back in the state of California again. It's not like there is anything felonious involved...but it's time to face the music. I no longer possess the driving skills and knowledge necessary to survive in the Golden State. I used to be a 'professional' driver. Most Californians are. We have to be; we spend most of our waking hours sitting in traffic. Seriously; if this wasn't the case, I'd never, ever get to speak to any of my good friends who still reside in CA. They call me while they are spending the obligatory hours behind the wheel each day...and I am happy to get the calls. Sometimes it makes me a little homesick. I hear traffic noise; horns honking, sirens, the occasional shout-out. If it's a long conversation, I can almost smell the exhaust. Now for my reality.
We drove to 'Junction' the other day, and it had been so long since I had to deal with a stoplight, I momentarily forgot what to do. I have also become a stupid pedestrian as well. (push the button...wait for the picture to change) How quickly we forget.

In my defense, I was distracted by the abundance of ridiculous street names in Grand Junction.

What were people thinking when they named F1/2 , D 5/8 , or E 1/4 Road? Come on- you guys couldn't come up with some cowboy sounding names? How about more crap named after rock formations- there's an abundance of inspiration for that. OK, how about just doing what every other city in the US does, and name stuff after old white guys?

Does anyone have any idea how dull and unimaginative this seems to a newcomer? Letters and Numbers...and fractions? Why? It would be easier to remember streets named after body parts, or diseases for that matter. We've kind of gone crazy for pharmaceuticals- why don't we name streets after our favorite medications? Imagine Lyrica Lane, Zetia Circle, Chantix Drive. If you think this is nuts...may I remind of you that we're just trying to do better than Highway 6 and 50. The bar isn't that high. I submit for approval, the Ambien Expressway. For anyone who doesn't think it's feasible, check out this photo.

This is from a traffic cam in Grand Junction. Note the heavy traffic; which someone believed necessitating the need for a traffic cam.
I'm a jaded California driver. (read: Asshat) I know. I'm also not complaining about the lack of traffic, I'm just saying I could totally sleep on this highway.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Let's all go to the drive-thru...

I know, I know...all my incessant whining about the lack of convenient food and alcohol is about to come back to bite me in the ass. First off; a clarification...I am not nearly as obsessed with the procurement of alcohol as I am with the procurement of butter (and desserts in general). That said; I've been complaining to anyone who will listen (the folks at the Post Office, the Credit Union, the local Ace Hardware, and a pretty cool apparel store called Farmer Franks) about the fact that we can't buy alcohol in the grocery store here in Colorado. I guess that isn't that unusual for many states- but in California, it's just weird. You get used to a really good wine selection and specialty liquor, all in one stop. You can pick it up while you're shopping for other necessities; like-butter. Seriously, going to a real liquor store where I come from can be kind of a nasty experience, but it's only because so many people buy their liquor in the grocery store, Costco, or BevMo. If you go to a liquor store in some areas, it's possible you'll run into the unsavory element of panhandlers and juveniles engaged in getting someone over 21 to buy them cheap booze. That's just crap I'd rather avoid. I know folks here in Colorado are all about protecting small businesses, and contend that if grocery stores could sell liquor then it would mean the end of independent liquor stores. I don't know what I think about that, but I can tell you even though a girl can buy Bombay Sapphire at Safeway along with eggs and organic apples, there is still no shortage of liquor stores in California. I'm just sayin'.
I'm not really emotionally invested in the debate- except that I was just told that's why there are no Trader Joe's in the entire state of Colorado. Colorado won't allow the alcohol license; and it's a deal breaker for TJ's. I think that part sucks. I just Google-mapped the closest TJ's and it's in Santa Fe New Mexico. 7 hours and 38 minutes one way. For any Californians out there; this would be like driving from SF to LA for groceries. I really want my Joe's Oh's, and their selection of cheeses, and that canned tuna packed in olive oil- oh yeah, and those soft liquorice bits- and about 108,000 other items, but not enough to drive 7 -1/2 hours to get them. Grrrrr.
The only bright spot in this whole liquor store vs. grocery store debate is a concession the liquor store owners have provided to make up for the fact that you have no choice in patronizing their establishments. Even if you have to make a special trip to an additional store, you don't have to remove your lazy ass from the front seat of your car. Just go to the drive-through. Drive-through liquor stores. Is is just me, or does this seem weird? Maybe it's the whole drinking and driving thing. Maybe it's the "I'm too unmotivated to get out of the car," thing- but something about this rubs me the wrong way. I'm not saying I don't use it...because hey- YOU DON'T HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE CAR! and I'm nothing if not a hypocrite. I'd just like it a lot more if they sold butter & coconut cake at the liquor store, too.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Do only boring people get bored?

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there just isn't a lot going on. This mostly applies if you don't want to hang out at one of the local watering holes here in Hotchkiss... (BIKERS WELCOME!) (HUNTERS WELCOME!...WE-DON'T-CARE-IF-HUNTING-SEASON-IS-OVER WE'RE-STILL-PUTTING-OUT-THE-BANNER!) Surely one can understand; if a girl doesn't identify with either group, hanging out at a hunter-or-biker bar can be a little disconcerting. Just for the record, the biker bar is a couple of doors down from a quilting shop. I would be just as intimidated if the bar posted a bright orange banner outside reading "QUILTERS WELCOME!" Because honestly, those crafty ladies that always know what to ask for in a fabric store really scare the crap out of me.

I digress...the point I'm trying to make is that when there is nothing I want to do, I fall back on one of my favorite hobbies. Reading classified ads from the local papers. Before you scoff, remember that Letterman has a whole segment dedicated to small town news. People from all over the country send in clippings from their local papers that they find humorous. I'm far too lazy to do that- I just rip the page out of the paper and stuff it into the same file folder as the bills I'm supposed to pay each month. (that could explain some problems I've been having lately...)

Since I didn't want to go a-quilting, or drinking with people who really like to shoot stuff, I thought I'd clean out some files. I found a bunch of newspaper clippings that I can't remember why I saved, but these ads might be the reason...

"WHO TOLD RITA THEY HAD CASINO STUFF? SHE IS 50 AND CAN'T REMEMBER!! CALL SUZI AT 555-0921. THANKS. (isn't it cool that I used a 555 number just like on TV?)

OK, if you didn't think that was funny, how about this one...I'm not making this up....


(you don't think it's that ATF, do you?)

There were also some 'freebie' ads that gave me pause. The best one was a listing for a big ball of string and a disposable cat box- free to the first caller.

I think I figured it out...the folks that post these ads have simply spent way too much time hanging out in bars with those crafty quilting ladies or guys who like to shoot things. While they're on their bikes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mama said there would be days like this....

This is going to be brief, because I've got a kind of incapacitated by environmental elements (yea, right) I have little control over, and need to go take a nap.

I just learned 3 things I need to share immediately.

1. If someone warns you about ice on the road, and hazardous conditions...they are not being dramatic- they are trying to warn you about the elements. Pay attention!

2. When you run into a neighbor who wants to chat, and you're standing in the parking lot outside City Market, and it's 28 degrees outside ( this part is important) even if your neighbor is standing there in a sweatshirt with no jacket; stop the conversation, and get the gloves out of your purse, put your hood up or hat on, or walk directly to your car and go home. Seriously, go home! If you stand there in temperatures below freezing, with your nose running and your fingers numb while you're catching up on neighborhood gossip-trust me, NO GOOD WILL COME OF IT!

3. Don't for a moment think that you can drink a couple of shots of Colorado's Own Corn Whiskey and go on to perform any kitchen tasks that involve high heat, or sharp knives. I'm here to tell you, unless you're used to it- like other things I've mentioned, will not have a good outcome.

This is a rather short post...because I have to go warm up, check the front of my car for damage; my extremities for frostbite; and then, most likely, throw up.

Yeah, I'm a rookie. What else is new?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's all about the butter...

When I was younger (much younger) I never understood why people got into drugs when they could get into food and sex instead. Sadly, that was decades ago, before we had to worry so much about the safety of such what we eat. What spurred this soul-searching and reminiscing? My husband just returned from having a long-overdue physical, which involved numerous diet and life-style changes; and as a result, I've had to come to terms with some of my own behavior and beliefs. I've had to ask myself some serious questions- like, why do I go into a panic mode if I have fewer than 5 lbs. of butter on hand at any given time? (don't's logical, because- you don't understand...I might need to bake something major. My niece lives across the street and she might need to bake something serious at the same time and have to borrow a few lbs.; the grocery store closes at 9:00 PM; my sister lives on the next block- she might have a baking emergency at the same moment and need to augment her butter supply. Hey, it could happen. It has happened. What if we all decide to make a triple-threat chocolate cake with caramel frosting on the same night, after City Market is closed? Then what would we do?) Yikes, I'd better up that minimum safety butter level to 8 lbs. Just to be sure.
OK- I digress...what I wanted to mention was that this past week we had an amazing experience at the VA in Grand Junction. Never, ever have I come in contact with a group of more well-equipped, kind, capable, or respectful doctors or health care providers- but that's a story for another day. The take away is that we can no longer behave like we did when we were 30 years younger and 30 lbs. lighter. I'm sure the transition won't be a piece of cake... maybe it's more like the proverbial carrot and the stick- just not nearly as much fun.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

They tell me it's just cabin fever...

It's been snowing on and off for a few days, and it's cold outside. It's not like a full-blown storm; the kind where you wake up to find the dullness and lack of foliage has been magically converted to a winter wonderland...oh no. It's just cold enough to make folks cranky. Midday, the sun peeks out long enough to morph the dingy piles of snow that line the street into gutter Popsicles that send you skidding ass-over-teakettle if you don't step carefully. I find it best to stay inside, encased in flannel pajamas, eating anything withing reach, as long as it's chock full of fat and sugar. Eventually I'll put a dent in my snack supply and have to venture out to the only grocery store in town to forage for cheese puffs and cookies that have little or no nutritional value.

I'm starting to grasp the concept of light deprivation, and have been indulging in a little California dreamin'.

Forget that California has been drenched lately-I'm using selective memory. I'm recalling that this time of year it had been my habit to dash out to any number of shopping destinations, needing only a light sweater for warmth. (I'm choosing not to remember that I had to sit in a lot of traffic to get to my destination, or circle a gigantic lot several times in order to find a place to park... that goes along with the 'selective' part) The other part of this self-observation- my California dreamin' always revolves around food.

My dreary mood deepened when it hit me that I can't do what I used to do...walk a couple of blocks for a quick lunch of linguine with clams at La Veranda or the best enchiladas in the civilized world at the New Mecca Cafe. Then there's the shopping. I want to go to Trader Joes. And where in hell can I find a Costco? Whole Foods? (You're right, it's a full-blown whine) Why can't we have BevMo here? Just their malted milk balls alone would be reason enough to want that retailer close by. I just wonder: Exactly how long can a person stay sane without a fresh loaf of real sourdough bread? (sourdough is NOT the same unless it's from SF...) The harsh reality that I'm not a quick drive from all the conveniences I had my entire adult life feels like a knock to the head.

This whining-pathetic-I've-got-the-ick-mood doesn't come around all that often, (and may has a little something to do with the funky weather) but when it does- no amount of on-line shopping as a substitute will help. It's just not the same as the hands-on-face-to-face-brick-and-mortar-experience.

I think of my friends and son in CA and imagine how different their days are...and all that they still have within easy reach. I talk to my youngest son in NY while he's on the train, heading into Manhattan, and realize how dissimilar his world looks to mine...(yes, of course I'm envious of his access to good Chinese food and the wealth of other ethnic restaurants) and I feel like the kid who had to leave a party while it's still in full swing.
In the quiet of the evening that presents itself whenever there is a light snow falling, I hear a wise voice and a little bit of 'Grandma Wisdom' coming at me. "This too shall pass" I know that refers not just to the bleak weather, but the bleak attitude as well. Wait a bit and it will change.

I knew the moodiness wouldn't last...this time around all it took was a trip to Grand Junction and exposure to a collection of big box stores and chain restaurants to snap out of it. I got to come home with the knowledge that there's a Best Buy, Target, Borders and Starbucks that exist within the same area code, and if I want to go there badly enough to sit in the car for an hour and a half, I can. Truthfully, it was comforting to return to a town that does not have a fast food franchise within its city limits. To a place where chances are, if you go out for a meal, the food you're eating came from a few miles away rather than a few thousand miles. A place where if you stop and chat with the clerk at the one and only grocery store, the person behind you won't get angry and impatient, and want you to hurry up and get out of the way. Maybe there's something to be said for coming in from the cold- perhaps it's just a matter of perspective.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dogs in Paradise...

Up until a few months ago, I had not been to a movie theater since leaving California. It's not that I don't love movies; I do- I just don't have big feelings about having to see things immediately...except when it's a subject matter close to my heart; like struggling writers, passionate cooks, and copious amounts of butter. So when they started running trailers for Julie and Julia, I knew I couldn't wait for the DVD. I better back up. Hotchkiss does not have a movie theater- but nine miles down the road, in the town of Paonia is the Paradise theater- which is now on my top ten list of the coolest places ever. Forget those multi-plex numbers...this is a community theater in every sense of the word. Besides showing movies, the Paradise has a stage for live performances, shows art films, football games, holds special events for kids, and even has first run movies. Wait... it gets better.
So maybe we didn't get to see Julie and Julia right away...and maybe first run movies don't have the extended run schedules they do in larger markets (you'd better catch something the first week it's out, because most likely, there won't be a second week) But the experience watching a movie in a small theatre where the owner welcomes you, sells you a ticket, serves refreshments (real popcorn with real butter and also they have a liquor license so you can have a glass of wine or a beer!) completely outshines the super-major-cineplex-experience any day of the week.
We were getting settled in our seats when I looked around and discovered the guy behind us had his dog on his lap. "Wow, you can bring your dog here!" I exclaimed to my husband, not realizing I was loud enough for dog-guy to hear. The guy with the dog shrugged his shoulders and nodded to the dog, explaining, "Zack has separation issues."
All I can say is that Zack-the-dog exhibited better manners than 50% of the movie-goers I remember from my cineplex experiences. Zack didn't talk through the movie. Zack obviously turned off his cell phone, and he didn't spend two hours texting his dog-girlfriend, he refrained from throwing popcorn in my hair, kicking the back of my seat, and he didn't barf on my shoes- all of which have happened at big suburban theater complexes over the years. (maybe that's why I prefer DVD's) But seriously- how cool is it that a guy can bring a well-behaved dog to the movie with him, and no one has a problem with it?
Dogs do occupy a special place in the culture here. You won't see foofy little dogs parked in pink handbags much in Hotchkiss-(don't get me wrong- I am madly in love with a foofy little dog) but folks here hold their dogs in very high regard. Example: if you go to the drive-through bank line with your dog in your car, when the teller completes your transaction, you'll also find a dog treat coming at you through the pneumatic tube. Dogs here tend to be working dogs, in fact one of the annual events that draws crowds into town are the Sheep Dog Trials, where working sheep dogs demonstrate that they are, in fact, smarter than most of the members of Congress.
My mother has long maintained that when residents of Delta County purchase new pick-up trucks, they are offered Golden Retrievers as part of an option package. (Power steering, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, golden retriever, premium sound package....)
And this is a good thing. You can tell a lot about a society by the way animals are treated. The animals here may work hard, but they have lots of treats and are very, very well entertained.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Things I never heard in California...

I've heard some things...OK, it's not like I was eavesdropping, but come on, sometimes you just can't help but overhear snippets of other people's conversations. A few of the verbal exchanges I've heard here that serve as reminders that I remain a stranger in paradise...
(In the Paonia True Value) "Hey, Bob- did your cows get out again?"
(At the vet's office) "That medication is going to run $5.00- is that OK for you?"
(At the hairdresser) "We're really busy, can you wait like 3 minutes?"
(At the convenience store) "This isn't my real job. My real job is blowing up beaver dams. With dynamite." To which I replied, "Ummm, I have to go home now."

The other thing about living in a small town is that everyone really does know what's going on with everyone else. My mother's house is on a corner lot with some very large, very old willow trees. The day she had the tree service out to trim the branches, my sister was out running errands for her. It went something like this...
First stop was the bank. Our favorite teller, who happens to live a few doors down the street, remarked, "Oh, I see your mother got her trees trimmed!" My sister nodded, not quite sure of the proper response.
Next stop, Post Office. (By the way, at the Hotchkiss Post Office there is rarely a line, and everyone who works there is so nice I want to invite them home to dinner.) While she's getting stamps the small talk turns to "Hey, I heard your mom got her trees trimmed." Do you think they heard it at the bank?
So the last errand to run is the grocery store. You guessed it...the grocery clerk knew, and commented to my sister that she's heard my mother's trees in the front yard just got trimmed.
What I don't get is not just that it's kind of a mundane thing to mention-it's how does word get out so fast?
What I don't hear around town....anyone blasting music from their car stereo. When I asked my niece about it, she explained that there is a noise ordinance in town. "So?" I responded, "We had noise ordinances in California, and that never made a difference to anyone- they'd blast their music so loud that the car in the next lane would vibrate." She just looked at me for a while and said, "Well, that would be awfully rude."
Plus...when the cows get out, it would drive them wild.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why being in a square state trumps being in a small snotty state...

This was never going to be about politics....and hey, it still isn't. But that said, I'm done being a political junkie. Joining a 12 step. Quitting cold turkey. I've had it. If I could kick the state of Massachusetts in it's tiny-little-snotty-state-ass, I would. But I can't and anyway, reality tells me that the Dems were just stupid, and stepped in it, but on the flip side, I wouldn't trust the Republican party to clean the hair out of my bathtub drain. So I'm mad at MA over the Senate loss.
For me; the other reason the feeling of pain and loss has attached itself heavily to Massachusetts is that Robert B. Parker has passed away. He was one of my favorite authors.
Spenser and Jesse Stone felt like real guys...because so much of Parker (and his affection for all things Boston) were deeply embedded in the characters. I can't shake the feeling that they are kind of stuck now in some sort of literary limbo. Yes- it's selfish, because reading his novels was such a pleasure...but it just seems like in the last 48 hours a lot has happened to make MA a sad place to be. Here in Hotchkiss, it's snowing outside right now. If I squint my eyes and look out the front of the house where the old stone church is, I can imagine I'm somewhere in Spenser's world. Think I'll dig up the recipe for Durgin Park Indian Pudding, and find a bottle of Johnny Walker. The 12 step was for politics....remember?
Back to Colorado thoughts tomorrow.

It's just 1000 miles, but it feels like a different universe

There used to be a lot of stuff in my life I thought I couldn't live without. Living in central Contra Costa County, CA would have topped the list, along with a sales job that included lots of travel, company vehicle, generous entertainment budget and various perks that made 15 hour work days and six day work weeks acceptable...until the reality, the economy, and some unexpected health issues brought life as I knew it to an abrupt end. Things went well for a while, and treading water, I downsized, trying to reinvent myself as a freelance writer and community columnist for the local newspaper. It worked for a few years; I rediscovered the wonderful city and population of Pittsburg, CA. The town and I were me, the diverse waterfront community was trying to re-create me, she was often misunderstood. Also like me, she couldn't quite keep her engine running without the appropriate re-fuel.
Bottom line- a tri-fecta of events have converged to bring my life as a California girl to an end.
I need to clarify this. I am a California native. I love my state. I still get misty at the sight of the State Flag, would never, ever consider picking a California Poppy on the side of the road, and regularly observe Admission Day (September 9, 1850). I'm not one of the Californians that got disillusioned with the Golden State and just took a hike.
That said, I am no longer a resident of a master-planned Contra Costa suburb. I'm not even a California resident at all. I've been transplanted to the rural community of Hotchkiss, Colorado. Elevation 5351. Population 1006 at last count. I'm guessing the livestock population is more than triple the human population. This place could not stand in sharper contrast to where I come from. Zoning? Building Codes? Orderly neighborhoods with parking enforcement? Ha!
You will find rustic log cabins nestled next to modular homes, tucked in behind spectacular 6000 ft. custom ranch homes on multi-acre parcels, which border trailers with lean-to storage sheds.
Go figure. And here's the thing...contrary to what my old home owner's association told me- no one has died. Sure, stuff looks kind of clutter-y and eclectic- OK sometimes like a trash bin, but Satan has not taken up residence, people still lead decent lives, take care of their kids (at least as well as they do in CA) and just because a resident is permitted to do car repairs in his or her own driveway; it has not hastened the end of civilization. Looking back, I'm ashamed to admit that I spent the first few months of my stay here mocking the apparent lack of zoning, and the fact that there were no HOA 'police' keeping things 'pretty'. Recently, I've come to have a deeper understanding of what pretty is. Of what's real. I'd like to share my observations from the perspective of a suburban CA girl who's been dropped into another world. No malls, no traffic (unless you count those cows and sheep).
The challenges of survival in a place where there are few shopping options, one grocery store, and zero fast food. Discovering the beauty of living in a place where you don't have to lock your car or your home, and organic farming is bountiful, and ultra liberals co-exist with staunch conservatives and libertarians. Learning about the mixed blessing of a community where everyone knows their neighbors; people look out for each other, but the gossip tends to run higher than the Gunnison River.
I've got stories I can't wait to share...and survival advice I'll be asking for. So far I've learned that no matter how settled you are in life, you're never too old for an adventure.