Saturday, June 30, 2007

Shift Change

We had another day of beautiful bad weather here. You can barely see it in this photo, but there's actually a rainbow to the left of the barn. Today was the first day we got rained on during our walk, but it kept the dogs close to me, and since I leave the day after tomorrow, that was an especially nice thing.

The wild irises are past their prime and during the day you can hear the cattle moving in on the land next door. There's a new foursome of horses on the other side of the fence and tomorrow Pam will come back and reclaim the ranch.

It's been a great two weeks for me. I read three novels (maybe I'll have a word or two on the last one, My Antonia by Willa Cather, for you later), lots of short stories and poems, and the most recent round of manuscripts from my writing group. I worked a little on my own story, and maybe in a few weeks it will be ready for a reader or two. Hard to say. What I did finish for sure was some knitting. Three hats, two pairs of socks and that silk scarf.

The best part of my time alone here was definitely seeing the dogs. I'm not quite ready to write about that, though. We have at least one more walk to go, plus a reunion with Fenton when he returns tomorrow, and no doubt, a few more treats, pets, and photos.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What We're Doing the Rest of the Time

Well, it isn't all fun and rodent mortuary here on the ranch. Sometimes we get down to serious stuff, like novel reading, and knitting. (and just the teeniest bit or writing) Here are the latest FOs (Finished Objects, for those of you not up on the knit blogger lingo, Hey! don't say I never taught you anything). Falling Man and a silk lace scarf.

I promised more book stuff for the blog, so I felt like I had really accomplished something when I finished Falling Man a few days ago. Unfortunately, since then I've been struggling with what to say about it. I had never read Don DeLillo before, and had some vague impression of him as a popular man's man kind of writer, though I couldn't really say why. His new novel takes place in the aftermath of 9/11, and I didn't exactly want to read a 9/11 book either.

Still, it didn't take long for me to get into it once I picked it up. My favorite books tend to be somehow deeply internal, where you see or hear a character in solitude. (You can see why I'm a Virginia Woolf fan, and why I am writing a novel where nothing much happens.) Anyway, Falling Man had that quality, a feeling of characters dissolved in deep solitude, though it was also filled with compelling connections between the characters, most of whom are part of a family living in New York City.

My Virginia Woolf fascination is also a symptom of my desire for every novel to be a meditation on time in some way. Falling Man satisfies that by being an illustration of people moving through time in that strange way you do after a traumatic event. There was nothing histrionic or sentimental about the book, though, and that was what I feared when I thought "Hmm... not sure I want to read a 9/11 book." In fact, Falling Man felt very restrained to me - there's a great section, talking about a game a kid is playing... wait, why don't I let you just read it:

The kid was trying to speak in monosyllables only, for extended stretches. This was something his class was doing, a serious game designed to teach the children something about the structure of words and the discipline required to frame clear thoughts.

Oh, and then there's a section just a little farther along that you have to read - it illustrates some of the rest of what I like...

It was Keith as well who was going slow, easing inward. He used to want to fly out of self-awareness, day and night, a body in raw motion. Now he finds himself drifting into spells of reflection, thinking not in clear units, hard and linked, but only absorbing what comes, drawing things out of time and memory and into some dim space that bears his collected experience. Or he stands and looks. He stands at the window and sees what's happening in the street. Something is always happening, even on the quietest days and deep into the night, if you stand a while and look.
Of course the word game played by the kid, Justin, makes you very conscious of the choices DeLillo is making with his words, and I was left admiring how he was able to capture the kinds of thoughts that you barely realize you are having with only the simplest language.

The part of the book that I'm left wondering about now that a few days have passed are the sections where we get the close third person for one of the terrorists, but we can talk about that after you've read it, right? Let me know when you're ready!

Help help! Help!

I went out for morning pets and treats and found A DEAD MOUSE IN THE YARD!!! I think I have to pick it up before I find the dogs using it as a chew toy.

So, who wants to come over!?? Come on, you guys!! Hurry, those nyla-bone things are only going to keep them busy for so long!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Different Kind of Doghouse

Culinary delights of Creede Colorado!

Bratwurst + tater tots + giant root beer snow cone = $5

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ranch Morning

Usually, the mornings around here go something like this - I wake up, get my stovetop espresso maker going, a little milk in a pan heating, and then wander outside with a bowl of puppy food. He gets pretty excited to see me in the morning, and spends just as much time chewing on me as he does with his nose in the bowl. The result is that my pajamas are always covered with kibble crumbs. Then I go back inside and have my hot beverage (that could have been one of my seven things - no matter how warm it is, I still like hot beverages) and maybe do a little tidying or read for a while or do some computery things. Sometimes even a little writing. A little.

That's pretty much how this morning went, but the funny part was that I kept hearing this "squeak squeak squeak!" outside, and seeing a little grey head bouncing back and forth between windows. Lovable Irresistable Adorable Me, aka Liam, has a little toy corral under the tree out there, and this morning he was running back and forth with different squeaky toys.

And that's the morning report. I promise some non-puppy related photos later.

"You couldn't possibly be tired of photos of me, though, right?"

Obligatory Paris Hilton Post

Mummy, when I get out of Prison do you think that you could get out of the car to hug me hallo?

Just a thought.

Monday, June 25, 2007

No, I have not deserted you

I would make this one of the seven things -
but you already knew that we went to the Star Trek Convention - right?

Oh, crikey - look how many lovely posts you've put up! And look how awful I've been about responding in kind.

I think we can blame it on Eugene... and work... and my inability to acknowledge that we actually have web access in Vermont now. I'm still a bit in denial about that last one, really.

Any hoo, I am not quite ready to address your meme, unless I do it in the shallowest, most superficial way possible.

Oh wait, that works for me!

Hmmm, seven things that our viewers may not know about me... that's tough, as I am not very mysterious... but I will try.

1) I love video games.

Scratch that.

I love bloody violent video games where I get to eviscerate every creature in sight and send blood and guts spewing and jump all over the place.

It's cathartic.

2) I am fascinated by royalty. I blame Mom and her waking us up to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. I was impressionable!

Now if only I weren't too old for those yummy Windsor boys. Harry's a redhead even! Grrr.....

Oh right, and I'm married.

3) I never throw rubber bands out. Or the forks and spoons that come with delivery food. Or all those packets of soy sauce and duck sauce.

Basically, I should just let the delivery restaurants know that we are fully stocked and don't need anymore. A moratorium on duck sauce delivery! Huzzah!

4) I believe that I have psychic phone sense. I can almost always guess who it is before I pick up the phone.

Amazing, no?

Oh, and I don't mean the cell phone... where I have caller ID

5) The three sites that I cannot function without visiting are:, and

I needs me some gossip, some trashy photos and then a touch of class from the Gray Lady, to make me feel better about myself.

Which is the same reason why I read The NewYorker on the subway, really.

6) It is virtually impossible for me to go to sleep before midnight. Usually because I am watching some crappy television or playing a video game.

And even when I go to bed I have to read for a half hour before I fall asleep.

I think this is a bizarre family trait from Mom. But I refuse to give up my E! or the SciFi channel.

I mean, you can tell from the photo above how dedicated I am to the SciFi Channel.

7) I have no idea what the last movie that I saw in a theater was. I virtually never go to movie theaters. Partially because of time constraints and partially because I get too aggravated with people talking during movies.

In the same way that I can't take cabs, because I get too aggravated by the driving.

Wow - there is nothing particularly insightful of soul searching on that list, but that wasn't a particular requirement was it?

Love you!

Wolfhounds Boycott Walks!

I only peed in your car a little! Just a wee bit!

So, Fenton left with Pam yesterday, off to luxurious digs in Aspen, where he is no doubt up to his floppy ears in chicken tenders and famous rock star admirers. Did I mention that he got a pedicure before his trip? Oh yes, it came with the stitches.

Anyway, without the undisputed ringleader of the Houston ranch (hey Katherine, surely you can come up with a better name for us?) wolfhounds, you would think that things would be settling down around here. Not so much. Today was the day the puppy needed to go to the vet for more shots. We took a little walk in the morning, to try and, um, minimize the chances that he would pee in the car, or on the linoleum in the vet's office. He loves to pee on linoleum. The walk was a bit of a joke, it mostly involved the puppy trying to chew on my legs, but it was a walk nonetheless.

Then I went to get the puppy in the car. That didn't interest him, but Rose hopped right in! We did get him in, but whatever magic Pam's car works on this puppy is not present in my car. She claims he goes right to sleep in the car. Nooooo..... He did well at the vet's office, once we carried him in the door. Okay, he did fall off the exam table. But he got the shot! Mission accomplished!

The shocking development of the day was the boycott, though. That's right, I tried to take the dogs on a walk, and they refused. Just sat there, on the porch, looking at me like I was mad. The puppy whined a little, cocked his head. And sat there. I've never seen that happen before.

Don't worry, I won the walk war later. The key was biscuits. How could I forget about the power of biscuits?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Summer Storms

Anyone who read this blog last fall knows how much I love this barn. I never get tired of taking photos of it, and it seems that every evening finds me out in the yard documenting how the light looks as the sun goes down or storms pass over. We've had a storm almost every day I've been here. Lots of wind, and the thunder rolling around this big bowl of land that the ranch sits in. Not a lot of actual rain, but when you go outside you can smell it. Yesterday I took 85 photos of the sunset and the storm. Almost all of them from the same small patch of grass just in front of the house, looking out at the barn and the hills. I hoped to catch some of the lightning that was striking right through the center of the pinkest part of the sky but never managed to. I tried to sort through and post only a few on Flickr, but it was hard because they all looked like gorgeous paintings to me. With Flickr, I tend to want to edit though, I don't want you to have to look at every snapshot I ever took, you know? Stormy sunsets and cute dogs are hard to narrow down though.

Right now, there is thunder and lightning rolling through again. The girl dogs are anxious (Rose was hit by lightning once and survived, amazing beast that she is) but the horses don't seem to be bothered by it and the puppy is completely oblivious. He's napping on the front porch at the moment, no doubt growing as I write this.

One thing I've been thinking about these last few evenings is how much prettier the sunsets are when it's cloudy. A little bad weather can really add to the beauty of things. I doubt you'll be surprised to hear that there is something I really love about that.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My Sinful Saturday

Ooh, it was hot here in the mountains of Colorado today. Next time I think we'll do the walk where we arrive at the stream at the end of the walk, rather than the beginning. Panting wolfhounds are too pitiful.

They weren't pitiful when they were all snuggled up in the shade though. Aren't they cute? They look all innocent, don't they? Ha.

As for me, I kept cool with the amazing chocolate ice cream I made last night. Myself! I made it! It involved separating yolks from whites, melting chocolate (a whole bar of Green & Blacks Organic semi-sweet, how could I go wrong?) and whisking. Did you have any idea that I had all those skills? Me either. Things are pretty exciting at the ranch. It might be ice cream for dinner tonight...

Thanks to Stephanie and this post for the inspiration!

What It Was Like on Friday

Fenton would like to remind you that the puppy is not at all the only photogenic dog in town

We had a very indulgent day at the ranch yesterday. Full of pleasures! When I came out to feed the puppy breakfast this morning, I was surprised that there wasn't a single dog on the porch. Ordinarily, they are all there in the morning. Still, they came as soon as I called, so I didn't think too much of it. Until a few minutes later when I looked out and saw them all digging at a particular spot in the grass in front of the house. That can only mean one thing - something dead. And it was, another elk leg. One of their favorite things. It may sound dreadful to you, but they like it. What they do not like is when I take the bits away from them, but it never fails to amaze me that they don't bite my hand off when I take their prizes from them. I think that's just what I said last time. But really, not even a little growl! Just proof of how sweet they are.

Then it was time for Fenton to get his stitches checked. When I asked Doc Howard if he thought it was barbed wire, he looked at Fenton's leg and pointed to another little scratch, and then said, "See, we can tell if it's barbed wire because of the mark it leaves." Then he paused and said "It'll actually say 'barbed wire' right here..." Still straight-faced, as was the girl helping him. Sigh. I'm not THAT much of a city slicker. When I left he said "But what I want to know is - Are YOU staying out of trouble?!"

But of course, for once, I am.

After Fenton's field trip, we had a nice walk, where everyone played in the stream and Fenton did a lot of happy rolling, celebrating the success of his fancy stainless steel stitches. It threatened to rain on us the whole time but never did.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Seven Things Meme

There's a meme that's been going around the blog world for quite a while - you're supposed to list and talk about seven things about you that people reading your blog might not know. Peggy, from my writing group, did this recently and reminded me of it. As regular readers are aware, we don't really do a lot of memes here, but we need to get Allison posting, I think, so Allison, I'm "tagging" you - you're it! Give us those seven things. Here are mine:

1. I have a serious aversion to washing dishes right after you eat a meal. There's just something I hate about it. It's like you are erasing or negating the whole meal somehow. I never ever wash the dishes right after dinner unless I am a guest somewhere and can't avoid it without being horrible.

2. I just participated in a summer postcard swap with a bunch of other bloggers. I love this about the internet - that someone you've never met before writes on their web site "Hey! Let's all make postcards and send them to each other!" and then seventy people or so, who have never met each other, go ahead and do just that. Silly. I love it.

3. I am a candy hoarder. I like to buy candy way more than I like to eat it. I always have old candy sitting around. Especially chocolate.

4. I try to buy a book of poetry a week, on average. I consider it one of my duties as a writer. This is not a hard goal to accomplish at all. Well, except this week. Since I'm at the ranch. But don't worry, I'll make up for it on the way home. My recent favorite buy is the McSweeney's Book of Poets Picking Poets, where I found this poem, which is a really, really great summer poem. Even if you don't think you like poetry, you should check it out.

5. My poetry book a week habit might be cancelled out by the fact that I look at the People magazine web site every day. I'm so ashamed! I almost never buy People magazine, though. Only at the airport, and even then, it's the exception rather than the rule. Jane is much more fun for the airport.

6. I collect Jack Rogers sandals. I think of it this way, as "collecting". Ridiculous!

7. I LOVE the movie Casablanca so much that I actually sort-of avoid watching it. I'm afraid it's going to, like, wear out or something, but then I'll accidentally see bits of it, and it's always so perfectly good. What can I say, I love the whole "We''ll always have Paris." scene, but what people forget is the bit that comes after it, that Rick says "We didn't have, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night." And then she says "I said I'd never leave you!" and he says "And you never will..." even though she's getting on the plane. That's some beautiful bittersweet stuff. The fact that I love it so tells you more about me than I might like to admit. But we'll leave a more detailed analysis of that for another time. Some time when we talk about why Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is my favorite movie, even over Casablanca.

Okay, Ali, I admit that was sort-of a lot of work, that post. Still, I know you can do it! Call me if you need ideas.

Further Adventures of Fenton

We all had a nice walk today, without any barbed wire drama, much to my relief. On yesterday's walk, the puppy managed to crawl under the fence and found himself on the wrong side, away from me and the other dogs. The whining was pitiful. Every time I tried to go over and show him how to crawl under (he still fits, even though he is clearly bigger than he was when I got here, as evidenced by the fact that I had to put a bigger collar on him the other day), he just stuck his head through two of the strands of the barbed wire. Not what I had in mind! I even got down in the dirt to try and get him to do the same. Eventually we had to retrace our steps quite a ways to find the place where he came under in the first place.

Today was just wet, since there is a little wetland and a creek (stream? creek? these are the sorts of things I don't know about when it comes to Nature) at the far end of the pasture. The irises there are so pretty and it's fun to watch the puppy splash around, even if the result is that my legs get all muddy too.

Are you wondering when this is going to be about Fenton? Well, he's doing just fine, stitches look good and he's napping right now, as are the other dogs. Oh scratch that, there's the puppy, up and wandering around the yard looking for toys. Anyway, Fenton was not asleep at 5:30 this morning. I woke up to this thumpety-thump-thump that could only be the puppy on the porch, and Fenton, who was inside, pacing in front of the windows like a big cat in the zoo. I let Fenton out and went on the front porch to see what all the fuss was. It was freezing! The dogs were all alert, like there was something in the yard, and then all of a sudden, they were all together, after the same thing at the corner of the house. They had it basically treed in one of the eaves. I couldn't really see what it was, but I knew it had to be a rodent. More rodents!! I guess Barb was right that I was destined to experience them at the ranch, in spite of the wild barn cats who live here.

I have evidence! Again!

Of course, after all this excitement, I made Fenton the Mighty Hunter go back inside. The last thing I want is to have to deal with the puppy eating a mangey rodent, or with a mangey rodent body. Yech. Turned out to be what I think is a baby squirrel. The sad thing is, they scared the poor thing so severely that it's STILL there. I thought for sure it would escape when we went on our walk, but no. I don't think the melee that is feeding time here is going to help anything. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Even a Bad Day at the Ranch is a Good Day

Liam, maybe?

The longest drive I've ever had to make was the drive to Doc Howard's office the day Rose almost died. The second longest was the drive back to the ranch without her. Yesterday I made that round-trip drive again, with Fenton this time. It wasn't quite as long, since we knew he wasn't in mortal danger, but I still hated pulling up and having the girls and puppy sniff around for their brother, who I had to leave behind for stitches. He somehow managed to rip his front legs open, maybe because every time he creeps under the barbed wire, as he has been doing no doubt for years, his little brother now jumps on his head. Oh, puppy.

At Doc Howard's, they stitched him up with stainless steel, 3 stitches in one leg, 5 in the other. When they were taking him back, he was so nervous. It almost made me cry when he leaned his head into my leg to hide. He was back to his old self when I came to get him though, almost ripping my arm out of the socket to go after a cat who was roaming free in the waiting room. They are used to Fenton there, so the girl working the desk just said "Oh Fenton, you know Tigger doesn't like you!" while the cat hissed and I threw all of my body weight (roughly equal to Fenton's) into trying to get him off the cat.

Today we are a little out of sorts here at the ranch. I'm nursing a migraine and earlier Fenton threw up a bunch of grass. Immediately after, he trotted off into the pasture to chase something. Bluebirds, I think. He'll probably live, don't you think? Now everyone is sleeping on the porch, which I feel a little sorry about, since what they should really be doing is going for a nice long walk. That's going to have to wait until a little later in the day though, after the second Immitrex kicks in.

Even with all this, it's so nice here. Hope it's nice where you are too.

Monday, June 18, 2007


more later

See How Relaxed I Am?

So, obviously, I am missing Eugene terribly. Coming home to Seattle was a great distraction... but here I am now all by myself every night! The nerve of him to leave me all alone while he galivanted off to India for two weeks.

It's sappy, but true, that I can't wait for him to get back.

In the meantime, I decided to go out this weekend.

Since the alternative was to sit at home moping by myself and getting exponentially more annoyed with our noisy neighbors (something I am normally not subjected to since we go to Vermont most weekends) this seemed like a good alternative.

Wow. I really wish you'd been there, because you would have been loving it.

I got to go to new restaurants and bars and out dancing and I owe it all to dear Patty. Thanks Patty! You're a peach!

Mom - it was just like Sex and the City. Except nobody picked up any guys. And nobody drank any cosmopolitans. And nobody wore an outfit like this:

Okay, maybe Patty did. She's got flare, I tell you! Just check out her website.

I'll admit that I did feel a bit like the mutton amongst the sheep, but I think I held my own.

I returned to virtuosity on Sunday (sounds like a good book title - The Return to Virtuosity) and rested quietly at home - eating hard boiled eggs, drinking green tea and watching truly trashy television. (Katie and Peter anyone?).

I also went to Pilates and visited HK and Thor and their new (quite adorable) baby Ada, so my weekend wasn't entirely a bacchanalia.

It was pretty relaxing though.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Little More Book Stuff, As Promised

Sign at Olde and New England Books in Newfane, Vermont

The weather has been odd since I arrived here at the ranch. Hot the first day, in the 80s, I think. Then after Pam left yesterday, the afternoon went dark and windy, still warm but you could feel the rain and electricity moving in. Then came the thunder and all the dogs wanted in the house and some girls in a Subaru came by to use the phone because they were worried about a group of campers who they thought might have been caught in the bad hail storm they experienced on the hills behind the house.

All day I felt like the weather. Changeable, moody. Unsettled. I wondered how I felt those first days on the ranch in October, what did I decide to do right away? I knew I could go back to the blog and look it up but didn't. Instead I just puttered around, made myself coffee with the little stovetop maker, unpacked a bit, still thinking about how short this trip will be. Just two weeks this time. I wish it was longer.

I thought about writing, of course, but didn't want to. I thought about a conversation Pam and I had the night before, at dinner, and how she said she often gets stuck for about a year when she's a hundred-something pages into a book, as I am. I realized that the phrase "put it aside" is an okay one in my mind. I can handle putting it aside for a while. It didn't hurt that Pam looked at me and said "It wouldn't be a bad idea. Something needs to happen, and you don't know what it is yet," and smiled.

So instead of writing, I settled in with the new Michael Ondaatje novel, Divisadero, and read half of it while Fenton, depressed at Pam's departure, slept on his dog bed near me and twitched and shivered with dreams. I love Ondaatje's writing. I love the way he immerses you in a world that he has obviously spent some time researching, like forensic anthropology in Anil's Ghost, or gambling in this new one. His books never focus on just one of those things though, usually there are one or things that I think of as technical for each othe characters, whether it's a drug habit described in detail, or a profession, or a kind of music, or a location. Each of the characters in this book have a certain closed-off quality, so that reading about them has this satisfyingly secretive feel to it. I find myself wanting them to interact with each other, wanting the three main characters, who start the novel together and then move away from each other, to come together and collide again.

After reading most of the afternoon, I fed the dogs and made some pasta for dinner and a weird rhubarb sorbet for dessert. I stayed up late, as I often do here, knitting and watching the Fabulous Baker Boys and organizing things on my computer. Finally I went to bed and read for a while before falling asleep.

Don't you love the saying on the little postcard in the photo? I woke up this morning and read again, fell asleep again for a while before finally getting up for the walk with the beasts.

And now it's sunny again, so I better get outside and play.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lil What's-his-name

The moment you've all been waiting for... the wolfhound puppy reveal! He's having a hard time holding on to a name, so I'm just going to call him Puppy here. He really is everything a puppy should be, all floppy ears and cavorting and snuggling. Wolfhounds are so big though, he's already the size of a perfectly respectable regular dog. Pam is off on her travels, so now it's just me, eight animals and a lot of Colorado scenery.

Friday, June 15, 2007

All the Way Here

Aaaah. I got to the ranch a few hours ago. I can't tell you how happy I felt during the last little bit of the drive. Colorado is green and warm and smells wonderful. There are just enough clouds in the sky to remind you how blue it is, and at the ranch the temperature is perfect for sitting outside in a summer dress. You didn't think I was going to leave all those dresses at home did you?

When I first got here, I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself. Pam is off on a hike, so I haven't met the new puppy or seen Fenton yet. It's just me and the girls, plus Roany and Deseo and the bluebirds. So quiet. Knit? Read? Write? Play with the pinhole camera? I chose read, and took a copy of the Hayden's Ferry Review that I haven't been able to find anywhere out to the picnic table. Maryellen had other things in mind. She followed me out to the table and rubbed her head on me until I acquiesced and focused all my attention on petting her. Which I was all too happy to do.

Here I Am! Here I Am!

I have to say, I consider my stay at the Four Winds Motel outside of Durango to be the pinnacle of my road trip. This motel is exactly what a road trip motel should be, fake wood paneling, one of those lampshades with the plastic cover, a TV mounted on the wall like they are in hospitals. I think the free wi-fi is super funny, especially since when I asked the guy in the office if it would just show up or if I needed a password, he said "No, it'll be there. Well, you might have to dig for it a bit, it's kind of finicky." Then he told me about how they're all college students and one of them is an IT guy, so he tries to fiddle with it and get it working right. But I was distracted, cause I was wondering how you "dig for" the internet. Anyway, he was nice. Made me a little more comfortable with the fact that I'm not so sure that my door really closes all the way. Heh. Hmm.

Don't worry though, by the time you read this, I'll be off to town, for coffee, and the book store, and the yarn store, and the grocery store. I need to stock up so I don't have to leave the puppy for one eeny little instant!

By the way, I've been updating my Flickr site with photos from my road trip, take a peek!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

There's a Country Music Song In There... Somewhere

Surely this is a familiar scene to anyone who knows her...
latte - check, reading materials - check, sardonic expression - check.
Awwww Smidget!

Well, Heather has safely made it to Durango.

I've never been and she didn't really describe it, so I picture tumbling tumbleweeds and sweaty cowboys. In cowboy hats. And those cowboy jeans. And button down shirts undone a bit. Hee!

Eugene has been out of town too long, I think.

I Heart Gas Stations

Pull tabs outside Lava Hot Springs, ID

When you don't start your days on the road until 1PM, and you drive from Seattle to Missoula in one day, then Missoula to Salt Lake City the next day, your trip is sorta about gas stations. In a way. And don't cap on me for the 1PM starts, hey, I needs my coffee, and breakfast, and sleeping in.

I did manage to stop at Lava Hot Springs for a little soak in the mineral water there, that was lovely, and the Lava Hot Springs Inn was like something out of a Carson McCullers story. If I have time on my way back, I'm definitely staying there. Anyway, about the gas stations. I'm not kidding, I really do love them. Well, maybe not the one on Rainier a block away from Elvis' house, but these cross country road trip gas stations are great. They are all the same in a way, but for some reason I love what little variation there is. Like how they all have different weird lighters, for instance - the lighter shaped like dice that has flashing lights when you open it, or the one in the shape of a motorcycle with a working headlight! Gas stations make me want to play the lottery - they have that little element of surprise to them, like something strange is going to happen, or you are going to find a crazy treasure, like the giant box of Bottlecaps I bought at the gas station in Blackfoot today. Remember those candies? Flavored like different sodas? Love them! Specially the root beer.

Now, okay, we all know that the gas station is really not anyone's first choice for a place to be (not even mine, really) but the thing about a road trip is, you gotta make your own fun sometimes.

Just like the rest of life, really. Right? Now if only gas stations had photo booths. THAT would be something.

P.S. Ali I love your post!! In your honor, I am only posting a cell phone photo today. Even though I took lots of photos of me in my bikini at the hot springs. Hee.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

All My Children*

No, no Joseph! Don't cry! I'll be back soon!

Oh I am so very glad that I went to Seattle for the weekend! I got to see the most scrumptious Joseph and nibble on his cheeks and give him kisses and raspberries until he giggled like a loon.

I got to see how skilled he has become at many things. For instance, he is an expert destroyer of letter block towers, crawler and stand-er. Not much of a stepper yet, but I think he's thisclose to becoming a guided missile on two feet.

He did cry a little (Translation: Mommy! Who is this lady trying to smother me with kisses!?!!!) but mostly this is the face he showed me:

What? You want to kiss me AGAIN?

And that was the face I needed.

I also got to see how adept his older cousin, Henry, is with opening beer bottles:

If I just get it right up under there... ahhh sweet nectar of life!!

He's like MacGyver with that spade. I can't imagine where he got the idea from... hmmm...

Ah, no matter, it's a skill he will surely pass on to young Joseph. At this point he is mostly very good at teaching Joseph how to be utterly charming and how to grab peoples ears and kiss them on the nose.

Equally useful skills.

I also got to see Dakota's excellent parenting skills in action. She is wonderful at singing sweet lullabies to Joseph. Especially if there is a karaoke machine and Bud Light involved. Yee haw! We're on for the rodeo next year - fer shur.

Oh, for some more Human League... Don't Don't You Want Me?

It was a great trip with my favorite scrumptious et famiglia... and Mom... and Dad.... and you! It was just the three days I needed, even after that horrific flight Friday night.

Shout out to Clay for picking me up at 3 AM!

But now I need to leave you with what greeted me when I arrived home:

Sweet 4 1/2 pound Ada. A little early, but as cute as can be. Her head feels like the softest velvet and, despite her tiny size, she is just perfect. She looked like a sweet little smidget.

And that's pretty great too.

Yay for HK and Thor!

*All photos were from my fancy new phone... because my darling husband has our camera with him in India. I'm sure he's getting lots of great shots of the new Io-Media office.

Can't wait to see them. Really.

The Photo You Weren't Here to Take

Goofy photo, huh? Blurry, overexposed. I like it, though. It was taken with the self-timer, of course, since I'm now on my solo road trip back to the ranch, where I will spend the rest of June. I think the self-timer guarantees the blur because when you press the button to take the photo, you aren't standing in the photo for the camera to focus on. Or maybe I just still don't know how to use my camera.

Either way, I think this photo is appropriate for a bunch of reasons, one being my recent explorations of Flickr. Have you checked out that site? It's pretty great, you can find a photo of anything, including this from the Caffe Fiore page. Whenever I see Andy now, I have that photo in the back of my mind a little. Anyway, the point I was going to make about Flickr was that, as cool as it is, after a couple searches, you might start to feel like we are all out there taking photos of the same twelve things, in the same two ways. It's inevitable with certain things - the Eiffel Tower, right? But then you do a search for something like Freemans, and end up feeling a little silly for being the umpteenth person to take a photo of the horse graffiti in the alley.

I guarantee there isn't an exact replica of today's photo anywhere on Flickr. The photos I took today at Wild Horse Monument? Yeah, not unique. But they are in focus, more or less, and that doesn't really fit a day that was spent driving from Seattle to Missoula with only one and a half stops, and the buggiest windshield you have ever seen. I thought about taking a photo of that, but it was really really gross. And they pretty much have it covered on Flickr anyway.

Tomorrow: Lava Hot Springs and Salt Lake City

Monday, June 11, 2007

In Transit

It already seems like ages since I was sitting at the Tasting Room Espresso and Wine Bar eating this lovely homemade english muffin with marmelade and drinking in the last pages of Virginia Woolf's The Years. There is no writer I admire more. That was such a nice leisurely day, my last day in New York, so perfect for the pace of that novel.

I don't talk about books here nearly enough, considering all the time I spend on them. What do you think about me changing that? Can you stand to read about a book or two once in a while? I've got some nice hardcovers that I am taking to the ranch when I go... TOMORROW!

Oh nuts, why aren't I packing...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Now We're Going To the Pond To Poke At Frogs

Oh hi! Surprise! We are still in Vermont, and I am stealing a moment on my brother in law's computer. They just got internet here this morning so technology is creeping in. I think Eugene put on his overalls to counteract the fact that they are now wired here. Still no cell service though. You know that makes me all itchy.

The other thing that has me all itchy is the critters out here. Mosquitos, of course, but I've managed to avoid those by staying on the couch in the cabin and reading nearly half of Virginia Woolf's The Years during those twilit hours when the bugs will really get you. The critter I couldn't avoid was the one who woke me up last night in the middle of the night. I was in the sleeping loft and woke to hear little scrabbling downstairs, like someone was trying to get into the bags of penny candy we've been buying at all of Vermont's old-timey general stores. When I turned on the light, the scrabbling stopped, so I turned off the light and tried to sleep again. A few minutes later, scrabble scrabble scrabble. And whoever it was sounded like he had hands! He sounded like a bear! So I turned the light on again. No bear, as far as my blind eyes could see, looking down into the kitchen from my perch.

Then I got the genius idea to take a photo in the dark, and CATCH HIM! that way. So I did that once, examined the photo (taken with flash for a change), didn't really see anything. Tried to sleep again. Scrabble scrabble. Another flash. This time there was something that looked like maybe a plastic bag but might have been something else. A little possum? On the floor was the candy bar I had carefully set on the counter before I went to bed. So I waited a few minutes for the scrabbling. Then I took another flash photo.

AHA! This time, there he was!! Little mouse, on the floor trying to eat the candy bar! Now what was I gonna' do? I was scared to go downstairs, what if he ran over my toes? I don't mind bugs (that much) but rodents. Yeyew. Since I had proof I felt I had just cause to wake the landlords, so I scrambled down the ladder in my PJs and ran to Allison's bedroom door - "Ali Ali there's a mouse! Help me help me!"

She laughed at me. She laughed harder when I brought her my camera, saying "See, I have evidence! Look! This photo... no mouse. This photo... MOUSE!!"

Then she said "What do you want? It's the country." And she made me go back to bed.

Where I dreamed of mice.

See? Do you see???

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wa wa WAIT! There's No What Where?!?

Brace yourself, readers, you are about to go at least three days with no Shameless Self-Promoting. That's right, we're taking our change purses and leaving NYC for Vermont, where there are no internets and very few cells. I think that makes it a real vacation, as opposed to a trip.

I'm looking forward to catching up on my sleep, working on my short story, and wearing Converse with my new dress from H&M. Gotta' get to the swimming hole and apparently little Jackie O sandals won't get you there.

See you all on Tuesday! XOXO H