Monday, March 31, 2008

Too much

All of those stresses of a month ago seem to be resolving themselves. The villa owner in Italy let us move our reservations to next June, the nice people at the U found my payroll reports and verified that I worked at the U for more than .5 FTE so I am vested in my 403B here, and our house has an offer and has passed inspection. If things continue in this way, I might begin to believe that the gods favor our moving. We're looking at houses online in high-altitude desert town and are gagging at the prices but think we'll be able to find a cute enough house. We're storing our stuff for a month, heading west for the summer. I'm sad I'll be missing the spring and summer here. My backyard patio let's in just the right amount of light--all sunny in the morning and shaded by trees in the afternoon. Remind me to keep my eye out for that in the new house.
Z's grandparents are coming to fly her to salty town the first week of May. I may well be eating at Em's and the Metropolitan sooner than I ever could have thought.
I still have high hopes to do here: find morels in the woods, find asparagus along the river, cross the Mackinac Bridge into the UP and see the tulips in Holland. I have a wee bit (75 portfolios) of grading to do but I think I can work in a weekend trip or two.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Things I Will Miss

I expect as it gets closer and closer to when I'll be moving and now that most everyone knows that I am going, I will be only melancholy and nostalgic about what I'm leaving. So expect a number of posts with this same title.

Today gets a sub-title: Birds and other flying things:
  • The geese that fly overhead to land in the pond at the college down the street.
  • The cardinals that stare into our back room from the two trees that are not, but remind me of, a magnolia and a Japanese maple.
  • The ducks that are swimming in couples around the pond. The same pond where the geese are trying to land.
  • The white-bellied hawks that dive from the tall trees (again, what kind? Alder? Sure, that sounds good) as I drive toward school on the big street named after the big lake.
  • Fireflies. When my mom's boyfriend came to visit, he was so surprised. What are these flying lights?
  • These black and white tit-mice that land on the sycamore that I watch out the bathroom and hallway windows.
  • The black and white woodpecker that eats from that same sycamore.
  • The squirrels that seem to fly from branch to branch, from sycamore to hyacinth to fence to pine.
  • The chipmunks that chase the squirrels.
  • The red-tail hawk that sometimes appears on the sycamore looking for squirrels to eat, and, who one winter, caught and ate a squirrel while perched on top of the snow, leaving the white spattered red.
  • The leaves that span seventy-five colors of red--from black cherry to neon pink-- falling to the sidewalk, on the sidewalk.
  • The sparrows, plucking clean the already-bare winter branches.
  • The spring blossoms, having fallen on the flower beds, blanketing them in May like so much snow did just the other day in April.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Ice

100 Years of Solitude begins thusly:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

When I leave GR, I will remember the ice.

I grew up in a mountain town next to a lake, albeit a salty one, so I thought that moving to another snowy town with lake effect snow wouldn't be that huge of a transition. But because the mountain town I'm from also doubles as desert, the snow melts. It dries. The sidewalks if left unshoveled eventually are melted of their snow and returned to their chalky brightness.

Not so here. This winter, especially February, has gone on record as having the most snowfall ever. If it had been last year, when the temperatures all winter never rose above freezing, there would be snow up to our windows. But this year, there have been a couple of thaws. This is great when it's happening. Whole roads turn to rivers, the iciles fall and stab the ground, you can exhale and inhale outside.

But it never stays above freezing for more than 6 hours. At night, all that melt turns to ice. The streets are black with it. The gutters are puddled with it. People who haven't shoveled now have frozen slush, impossible to walk on because the shoe prints of the last person to walk through the slush have solidified--it's like walking on hardened lava. You have to high-step over the foot of ice between the gutter and the curb.

Running has been hard. Some days, even the college by my house which uses enough salt to keep the walks clear at 10 degrees, can't keep the stream of melt turn to a blanket of ice. Some days, it wasn't so much like walking as ice skating. I still ran, a little, slowly but on my tip-toes.

It seems that it might be forty degrees over the next few days. The snow banks are getting smaller. There will still be that sheet of wet ice when I run because it will still freeze overnight. But when I start counting the curb ice in inches rather than feet, when walking up the driveway doesn't require sending Cleo the dog up first so she can pull me by her leash, when I don't wear my wool hat every day, when running through the college is more mud than Dorothy Hamill impersonation, then I will look at the blue skies--here for a record 6 days in a row now, and, even though break is almost a week over, call it spring.

When I came here, I wondered why we had "fall" and "winter" semesters rather than "fall" and "spring." They laughed when I asked. They said, you'll figure it out.
Now I know.
Still. The curb ice? It's down to inches.

Edited to add: Dorothy Hamill implies some sort of graceful ice-venture. That is not me. In the Upper Penisula, there's the verb pank. It means to tap down the snow hard with a flat tool--possibly called a panker. That's more like what I'm doing with the ice except the ice is already hard so my feet don't make much of an impact.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Ineffective Political Action ETA Not So Ineffective!

I got an email from the HRC last night urging me to email all 76 Utah state reps and ask them to oppose amending Senate Bill 199. Since I haven't been involved in Utah politics for awhile, I was unfamiliar with the bill but apparently the original, unamended bill would allow domestic partners in SLC to keep their domestic partner benefits although it would change the name of the registry. The amendment would make it illegal for a city to define domestic partners or benefit participants (something like that. Like I said, I'm out of Utah politics). I'd already had some wine and had nothing better to do so I emailed them all (please note that it's probably illegal, or at least very pointless, for me to do so as a nonresident) and asked them to vote against the amendment.
I remember from my old letter-writing days (pre 2004 when I gave entirely) about how nervous I was to write letters, especially to Utah Reps because I could just imagine the awful responses I could and did get--from what Utah families "are" to how it cannot be a priority to think of water management. But by emailing all 76, I realized that although 15 or even 25 would or could write heinous responses to me about their distaste for anything outside their realms of known experience, I realized that there might be at least that many who might not have such a strong response. Ones who might care what someone might say.
We'll see. I've already had one request for my address (which of course I coudln't send) and another telling me to stick it. But one person did say "thanks. This adds to my reasons to vote against." And so I say yay!

From a rep!
Thank you for contacting me about this amendment. I share your concerns and voted against it. I am pleased to let you know that it failed.

Best Wishes,
Representative Karen Morgan

Monday, March 03, 2008

Disaster, minor

I was going to blog on Sunday about the dinner I made on Saturday night. But, right before I went to take the souffles out of the oven, I went to check on Z who had gone to find a necklace in my nightstand drawers. Instead of a necklace, she found a bottle of benadryl. The lid was on, just not very tightly. I found it underneath the pile of pink pills. I asked her if she ate any, she said yes. I said how many, she said two. I had to believe her even though she was saying yes as if I wanted her to say yes. What I really wanted was for her to say no but I didn't want to lead the witness. Two seems plausible. And two too many. So we tell our guests to make themselves at home, to pull the souffles out, to slice the ricotta tart, to add the lemon juice to the lentils and we drive over to the ER. We know where it is. (3 blocks away). We've been there before.
The nurses are pretty calm. No charcoal. No stomach pumping. They just watch her for a minute. Benadryl isn't particularly toxic, we learn. Still, two hours of monitors and lots of stickers on her chest to make sure her heart rate doesn't spike is a long time for a 2.5 year-old. Fortunately we had my cell phone and there's a Tetris-like game on it (who knew?) that now she and Erik are addicted to. We were let go with not too much shame or admonishment. I apologized to Erik and Z for my Benadryl addiction and for my wrists which are apparently too weak to twist a cap all the way to lock.

We got home. The guests had eaten the souffles, the tart, and figured out to put the leeks with the lentils. They also saved us some food and cleaned up the dishes. The best part was that they were still here when we got back. Usually when we go to the ER, no one knows where we are. This time, people were waiting to hear and then willing to hang out longer just so the whole night wasn't a total disaster.

In the end, we think Z took none of the Benadryl. She stayed up until 11 and woke up by 7 the next day.