This is not about the Pandemic (with a capital “p” because it’s been so significant in just about everyone’s life for the last year or so).
I’ve been mired in the past the last few weeks. I’ve dreamed of horses and wished they were still in my life.
It has made me sad and forced me to think about what it takes to move forward and let go of the past.
People are always telling other people to just let go. It’s not that easy.
When my dad died, it was the first major loss in my life. I was a few days shy of 17 years old and it changed my life forever. Sometimes I revisit the day he died. It’s been years now since that has made me cry. But the important thing here is this: I’ve never let it go. I’ve also never let go of the death of my mother.
So does that mean I am stuck in that past? Speaking from the inside of me (after all, I’m not really qualified to speak from the outside of me), I’d have to say that no, I am not stuck in that past even though it might look like it from the outside.
But there have been days recently when I fervently wished I could let go of horses and just move on. Sometimes the pain of giving up being with horses is almost too great to tolerate.
Who knows? Maybe ten years down the road I will look back on this day and the last couple of weeks and realize that I have actually moved forward. Perhaps I will have just put horses beside me instead of behind me and they are moving forward along with me. Slightly out of step, but there nonetheless.
Maybe that’s how it always is. Maybe there is no real letting go. Maybe the true path forward is to carry all the things that have meaning for you right along with you. Maybe the pain of loss is the thing that reminds you that you once had something really good.
And maybe having known something good in the past is the thing that lets us hope for more good in the future.
Moving to Wyoming from the higher elevations of Arizona didn’t require that we make too many adjustments to our regular routines. Yes, the winter was colder. Yes, it snowed more often. Yes, our heating bills have been higher. But all in all, we’ve all (including our dog Maddie) weathered it well.
There were two things, however, for which we were ill prepared. One was having to change time to Daylight Savings Time. We lived in Arizona for almost 30 years and didn’t have to do that in all that time. We became very accustomed to living on standard time and it was fine. More than fine actually. Sensible really. And yes that’s a negative comment on my part. I’m not sure I have adjusted to the time change even now about a month later.
The other thing was spring. I sometimes wonder if spring will every really come to Riverton, Wyoming. The people we’ve met who have lived here all their lives assure us that it will. They also say that it is a beautiful time of year. But we have yet to see it.
Yes, we had a warmish spell about a week ago. We could take walks without our jackets (never thought I would think that 38 degrees is warm). The bulbs in the yard are poking up through the ground. Birds are singing and building nests. But …
Two nights ago we had a huge snowstorm. It was the biggest amount of snow in a short time that we have experienced since moving here. I’d have to say that the winter weather in Riverton, which is situated in the Wind River Basin, has been pretty mild compared to other parts of Wyoming. But here we are in spring and we get the biggest snowfall yet since we moved here on December 2, 2020. It’s the middle of April for goodness sake.
Where we used to live is probably in the 70 degree range. The fruit trees have probably flowered and are leafing out. Tulips and daffodils and irises have certainly already bloomed and are on the wane. So far the trees here are hinting that they might start making leaves sometime soon. But they seem to be holding back despite the longer days and recent warmer temperatures.
But maybe this is it for now. Maybe this is winter’s last hurrah. As much as I like snow, I kind of hope so.
Don’t get me wrong. We love living here and don’t feel like moving back to Arizona at all.
My husband and I got the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on February 4, 2021 at 1:15 p.m. We had read numerous accounts of side effects (maybe not such a good idea, but we couldn’t help ourselves) but still wondered how it would affect the both of us.
For me, it turned out to be quite a bit worse than getting a regular flu shot. When my husband gets the regular flu shot, it doesn’t affect him at all. His arm doesn’t even get sore. With the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, his arm got quite sore but that was about it.
The regular flu shot makes my arm hurt a lot and I get really tired and rundown for a few days. The first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine amped that all up. And the side effects all lasted much longer. The severe headache for several days in a row was not much fun. I didn’t like the chills and night sweats either.
With the first shot, it took about 50 hours for the full effect to hit me. With the second shot, it hit me within hours. My arm hurt like a … well you know … and my head ached and I was so tired that the next morning I did not want to get out of bed. I did anyway. We had too much to do.
But here’s the thing, with the second shot, even though it hit me harder, the side effects cleared up much quicker. Within just a couple of days my arm hurt almost not at all, my headache had cleared out and I was starting to get my energy back.
The very next day after our second shots, we were both standing out in the cold and wind on our driveway (we live in Wyoming so when I say cold and wind, I really mean it) sanding and prepping base molding for our new laminate flooring. I couldn’t have done that after the first shot.
I’ve heard that some people have a much harder time with the second shot than we did. I feel sorry for them but grateful we got through it with a minimum of bother.
In the beginning, I was on the fence about getting vaccinated but decided it was the smart thing to do. Having gone through the process, I still think it is a good idea to get vaccinated.
When most people think of a “second shot,” they are likely thinking about a second chance at something. Maybe the opportunity to get something right that went wrong.
I know there are some people who are skipping the second shot. That’s probably not a good idea.
With the Covid-19 second shot, it’s the chance to improve immunity and it’s what it takes to get it done right.
According to legend, it was created by a man named Joseph French. But it is known by a variety of names including German toast, eggy bread, French-fried bread, gypsy toast, Poor Knights of Windsor, Spanish toast, nun’s toast, and pain perdu which means “lost bread” in French. So it seems like it might be more appropriately called “French’s Bread.”
So What About Canadian Bacon?
“Canadian” bacon is made only from the lean eye of the loin and is ready to eat. The term “Canadian bacon” is not actually used in Canada, where the product is generally known simply as “back bacon,” while “bacon” alone refers to the same streaky pork belly bacon as in the United States. My guess is that most of what people call “Canadian bacon” here in the United States is not what the Canadians call “back bacon.”
And Then There is Swiss Cheese
Switzerland has approximately 450 varieties of cheese, made from cow, goat, and sheep milk. Some types of cheeses from Switzerland include Sbrinz, Emmentaler, Raclette, Formaggini, and Gala. So the answer is no. Swiss cheese itself is not actually from Switzerland, but it is based off a type of cheese from Switzerland.
American Cheese, Jeez
American cheese, the kind you get in the individual plastic wrappers, is processed cheese or “cheese food,” meaning it’s not actually real cheese. Classically, before the factory-processed stuff hit the market, American cheese was a blend, often of cheddar and colby, made for easy melting and approachable flavor. I’m quoting. I have no idea what “approachable flavor” means. As a kid, I didn’t like American cheese. Hard to believe I know. Another hard to believe thing is that the only cheese I liked was cheddar … especially very sharp cheddar. Go figure.
Who doesn’t like Belgian waffles?
They were originally showcased in 1958 at Expo 58 in Brussels. Belgian waffles were introduced to North America by a Belgian named Walter Cleyman at the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle in 1962, and served with whipped cream and strawberries. Maurice Vermersch of Brussels, Belgium is also credited with having made the rest of the world aware of them.
But are they really Belgian or simply made by Belgians? Do a lot of people in Belgium eat Belgian waffles? My admittedly meager research seems to indicate that they do. But they mostly eat them (actually Brussels waffles) in the afternoon as a snack and not for breakfast. I’ve never eaten them for breakfast either, but I have eaten them for dinner. Who needs veggies and good for you stuff all the time? I mean, really?
So What is it That I Don’t Understand?
What it all boils down to is that I don’t get why we name these things so inaccurately. But I guess if you think about it, it’s much easier to say “French toast” than “dried out two day old bread soaked in scrambled egg and fried in a pan.” Even so, I do still think it should be “French’s toast” rather than “French toast” and maybe “a cheese similar to a cheese made in Switzerland” instead of Swiss cheese. Or maybe not.
I’ve been crocheting for what seems like most of my life. That sort of sounds like I mean non-stop crocheting. I don’t. There have been a myriad of distinct projects with time in between where I don’t crochet at all. Really. Crochet is not my life. Really.
I taught myself to crochet when I was 24 (I am now 68, oh my) from an article in a magazine. The article explained four basic stitches: chain, slip stitch, single crochet and double crochet. For most of the 44 years that I have been crocheting, those are the only stitches I’ve ever used with the exception of the occasional treble crochet or half double crochet.
I’ve made more afghans than I can remember. Baby blankets have been equally numerous. I’ve made hats and slippers. Lots of slippers. And numerous sweaters. And scarves. Don’t get me started on scarves … literally. Sometimes it feels like I can’t stop making scarves.
I’ve used tiny steel hooks and fine crochet cottons and made enough doilies to nicely appoint the most spacious of Victorian houses. Antimacassars and table runners, chair-side table doilies, doilies to go under lamps and vases and you name it have been produced.
Pot holders and trivets and tea cozies vied for space with toaster covers, place mats and coasters. And I did it all with those four stitches. Those four stitches were fine for me. I didn’t need anything more than that. I could make anything with those four stitches. Shoot, I made a huge queen-sized bedspread with just those four stitches.
Then a little over a year ago, a friend sent me a pattern for a dog sweater. I’d never made a dog sweater. We didn’t have a dog until about three years ago and our cats never seemed to need sweaters and probably wouldn’t have worn them even if I’d made them. Cats can be contrary and solidly unappreciative of your efforts on their behalf. Don’t get me wrong though. I love cats.
So anyway, this dog sweater pattern had two new-to-me stitches in it: front post double crochet and back post double crochet. When you do it right, it looks like rib knit. I was enchanted. I immediately began incorporating it into my designs … mostly scarves.
I still really like the front and back post double crochet, but my new absolute favorite stitch is the puff stitch. I love the way it looks and I love how it feels. And best of all, it’s so simple to do.
This isn’t really a crochet tutorial so I’ll just say this about the stitch; you can have a big puff or a small puff. You yarn over and insert the hook in the next stitch and pull the loop through (three loops on the hook), then yarn over and insert the hook in the same stitch and pull the loop through (five loops on the hook), then yarn over again and insert the hook in the same stitch and pull it through (seven loops on the hook) and then yarn over and pull that loop through all the loops on the hook. That makes the bigger puff. For the smaller, yarn over and pull through only twice for a total of five loops on the hook. I like the bigger puff the best. People who write crochet instructions professionally could explain it better. Google it if you are interested.
Am I going to go crazy and start searching out new and innovative stitches and patterns? Probably not. But a new a simple stitch now and then doesn’t hurt. I don’t feel as if I’ve wasted the last 44 years on those four basic stitches. Although I do sometimes wonder what I might have accomplished had I diversified a little earlier.
Besides scarves, I’ve also recently crocheted a number of pillow covers. It’s so hard to find pillows that co-ordinate with the other stuff you’ve made or if you do, they cost a fortune. So repurposing old worn out pillows works for me. Now I just have to figure out how to use the puff stitch in my next pillow cover. That is, after I finish the half dozen scarves I have planned to make.
The house I grew up in was probably more on the functional end of the spectrum rather than the aesthetic. When my mom decided to paint the kitchen cabinets she’d let Dad know. Mom couldn’t be too choosy about the color. Dad would go buy the cheapest paint he could find which was usually a custom color order that someone decided they didn’t want after all. He did the same thing with the exterior paint. I remember once the stucco was this deep green and the fascia and eaves were orange. Luckily, he painted the stucco and trim religiously every three years.
Well, so anyway, Mom would mask a few things, put a couple of drop cloths down and then start slapping paint on the cabinets. She never fussed about the quality of the paint because she knew she’d be doing it again in a few years.
That house was built somewhere around 1949 and is an ancient thing now but still standing. I’ve looked at it on Google Earth.
Fast forward to 2021. The house Bernd and I bought recently was built in 1974, so it’s fairly old. The cabinets are in terrible shape so we decided to paint them. It’s not like how my mom did it. Nope. Not at all.
Because we really don’t want to have to do this more than once, we decided we’d do it right. Do you have any idea what that means? Maybe you do. We started small with the bathroom cabinets. Well, it seemed small in comparison to the kitchen cabinets. One thing we learned right away, we were not going to try to do the entire kitchen all in one go as we did with the bathroom.
Basically, this is the process. First you clean the cabinets as well as you can using a variety of soaps and de-greasers and the like. Then you sand them. You don’t have to take it down to bare wood. You just have to rough it up enough that the primer sticks really well. Yes, that’s the job of primer … to stick so the paint will stick. But it never hurts to hedge your bets a little.
While you are sanding you find all the dents and scratches and bumps and dings. So you do some online research and find a wood filler that is low on fumes and safe for your dog because she seems to want to lick spackle and that’s definitely not good for your dog. Dogs can be so weird.
You will also need to fill the holes from the hardware if, like with our bathroom cabinets, the previous owner put the knobs in very odd places and not level with each other. Then you sand again.
Next comes the primer. Do not skip the primer no matter what the paint you bought says. Even if the paint is $55 a gallon and says it needs no primer, do not skip the primer. Two coats of primer works really well. Once that is fully dry, sand it again. You’ll be able to feel how much smoother it is with just a few passes. Use fine sand paper on the order of 220 or 320 grit and don’t press too hard. That just takes off all your primer and you have to start over. You do not want to have to start over.
Once the primer is sanded, put on your first coat (yes, I said first) of actual cabinet paint. We bought Insl-X made by Benjamin Moore. It’s an acrylic paint made only for cabinets and trim. It is probably the nicest paint I have ever used and I’ve done a lot of painting over the years.
Don’t worry too much about perfect coverage at this point because there will be at least one more coat and most likely two more.
We are using brushes. We considered foam rollers or a sprayer made just for cabinets. Looks kind of like an artist’s air brush on steroids.
Rollers tend to “spit” bits of paint if you get a little rambunctious with them. And sprayers tend to put a lot of very fine paint “dust” into the air that gets all over everything. So in the end we went with brushes. And anyway, it’s what I know best how to use.
When that first coat is completely (and I mean completely) dry, sand it again using the 320 grit sand paper. With any luck, that will be the end of the sanding and the final coats can be applied without further ado.
Altogether, because a learning curve was applied, finishing the bathroom cabinets probably took us about a week. We did not work at it eight hours a day. We do have lives outside of fixing up this old house. Although it might not seem like it at times.
I have no idea how long it will take us to complete the kitchen cabinets. But it would be nice to have that done before the laminate flooring and new countertops are installed. It’s been nice not to worry about those surfaces while doing all this painting.
So, are you wondering how it turned out? It turned out beautifully. We are very happy with our “new” bathroom cabinets. What do you think?
Both my husband and I struggled with that question for a while. I think we were pretty sure that he should get vaccinated. The real question was should I?
In the past, I’ve had some nasty reactions to vaccinations. I would have to say that it was the delivery suspension solutions that caused the problems. My reactions were never enough to put me in the hospital, but they were severe enough to put me out of commission for a few days.
After reading about other people’s experience with the Covid-19 vaccine, especially the second dose, I had my reservations about taking the vaccine.
Eventually two things came together at about the same time: (1) I decided the benefits outweighed the possible discomforts and (2) Wyoming opened up Phase 1b in the vaccination schedule.
Since both my husband and I are over 65 years old, we qualified for Phase 1b vaccination. And also, I am without a spleen due to an accident a few years ago.
So, as soon as I read that we were eligible and told my husband, he made arrangements for us to receive the vaccine. It took one call and we had an appointment for the next day.
We were vaccinated (no waiting … benefit of living in a small town) Thursday, February 4, 2021, at 1:15 p.m. We received the Pfizer vaccine. And as of writing this, about 48 hours later, I can say that so far the first dose is no worse than getting a regular flu shot. Maybe not even as bad. Maybe.
To be sure, the regular flu shot gives me a fair amount of grief. The arm I am injected in gets very sore. So sore that any movement is quite painful. I usually run a slight fever, my head aches, my body aches, and I am very tired and run-down feeling for about five days.
But so far … knock on wood … this Pfizer vaccine isn’t even as bad as that. Yes, my arm is incredibly sore, but the rest of me feels fine. I would be so happy if it stayed that way over the next few days.
I’m a little worried about the second dose. But the people at the clinic where we were vaccinated said that they have had no reports of extreme reactions. The woman my husband spoke with said she’s had both doses and that the second one was a little worse but in a day or so she felt fine. So I have hope that we will weather the second dose just fine as well.
Even after we are supposedly up to the estimated 95% immunity about two weeks after the second dose, we will not stop all our infection mitigation practices. And we’ve actually ordered some cloth masks that will hopefully fit my husband’s big face so he can double up on his masks. I’ve been wearing double masks since the beginning of all this.
Part of my decision to get vaccinated was also a sort of civic-minded decision. The more people who are vaccinated, the sooner we can begin to put some of this behind us.
I don’t know that things will ever go back to the previous “normal.” And, in reality, I’m not sure that it should. There are some things that I think have been better because of Covid-19. Most people might not agree with that, but it’s how I see things.
So, my bottom line is this. If you are on the fence about being vaccinated and don’t have a clear medical reason why it would be harmful for you to do so, get vaccinated. It will help you and it will help others as well.
I finally finished reading the proof copy of my newest novel, “The Many Misadventures of Tall Guy and Short Gal.” I had started on correcting and editing before we decided to move and only just recently picked it up again and finished the work.
Believe me when I say that deciding to move at the end of August 2020, finding and buying a house several states away, selling your current house, packing everything up, making all the necessary arrangements, and setting foot in your new house on December 2, 2020 can occupy you to the exclusion of everything else.
That all was followed by unpacking, organizing, settling in and getting some contractors to do some very necessary work that we couldn’t do ourselves. I know this sounds like a lot of excuses for neglecting my novel, but that’s the way it’s been.
The house we bought needs a lot of fixing. We have been attending to that as well. And to be honest, painting a wall or two, installing new blinds and changing outdated light fixtures is considerably more fulfilling and easier than figuring out if I really need that run-on sentence to be quite that long. Or did that last paragraph really say what I wanted it to say. Or answering the big question … will anybody actually read this and more importantly will they be entertained by it. And then there is my eternal question to myself … why am I doing this?
Hopefully, in the next few days I will take the annotated proof copy and sit down and suffer the drudgery of making all the changes to the digital manuscript. Then I just have to re-upload it, check that for problems, re-re-upload it several more times (sometimes “fixing” one problem leads to another), fix a couple problems on the back cover and then … Voila! … Publish it.
So I guess what I’m saying is that’s it on its way, but don’t hold your breath.
We haven’t really lived here in Riverton, Wyoming long enough to talk about life in a small town. Not really. But there are a few things I have learned. And not just here and now.
When we first moved to the Prescott area of Arizona in 1993, compared to where we had previously lived (Walnut/Diamond Bar area of southern California), it was a small town. Even so, 28 years ago the city of Prescott and the town of Prescott Valley combined had maybe five times more people living there than Riverton does today. But it contrasted so greatly with the greater SoCal experience (you know, how one city sort of blends into the next one with little definition and so you feel like you are living squished in with several million other people) that it felt like a small town.
In 1993, you could walk down the main street of Prescott and expect to see maybe a couple of other people doing the same. More often than not, pleasantries would be exchanged and might turn into a full-fledged conversation over a cup of coffee.
It took all of about 15 to 20 minutes to get from our house in Dewey to downtown Prescott. There was one traffic signal in Prescott Valley and only a couple in Prescott. When we left the area, it took a full 45 minutes or more to travel the same distance. I lost count of the traffic signals. There were just too many.
I remember that just before we left Walnut in California to move to Arizona, I worked at a shop in a mall that was six miles from our condo. It took me half an hour to make that drive and it would have been longer if I had gotten on the freeway. Morning rush hour in southern California was brutal. I can’t imagine what it must be like now.
So here we are now, in Riverton in Wyoming. The population tops out at about 11,000. The speed limit on the two main streets is 30 miles per hour. And even at that it only takes about five minutes to get to Wal-Mart from our house and maybe ten minutes to get to the far western end of Main Street where the Smith’s grocery store is.
We can walk to City Hall if we want to. There are a number of shops within walking distance. It’s like another world. Shoot, we could even walk to Wal-Mart if we had the need (it does snow here and the roads can be a bit icy sometimes). It’s not that far.
All the people we have met in our neighborhood and in professional capacities have been kind, friendly and very helpful. It was like that in the Prescott area in 1993 as well. But as the population boomed there, it became less and less so.
I’ve stayed in touch (well golly, we’ve only been gone for about a month) with friends in Arizona. Several of them have said how unhappy they are with the way things are going. The influx of people from California is changing the whole esthetic. It’s not a new complaint.
When we first moved to Arizona, you didn’t really want to tell people where you had come from if you came from California. Even back then, the locals were not happy with the changes that we brought with us. What they didn’t realize was that not all of us who relocated wanted to bring California with us. Some, like us, wanted to leave it far behind. We didn’t move there for the beneficial difference in house values. We moved there for the difference in life values.
While it’s true that part of our motivation for moving to Riverton, Wyoming was financial, it wasn’t the only reason. We were once again looking for those life values we lost with the burgeoning population of the Quad Cities (Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Dewey-Humboldt). We are pretty sure we have found them once again.
But we are not the only people to have discovered Riverton. There are others moving here as well. Some of them from California.
My hope is that they are also looking for a better way of living.
Small town life isn’t for everyone. Living within city limits is taking some getting used to (more traffic driving by our house all day long, street lights lighting up the night sky making it hard to see the stars). And there’s no Costco. There isn’t a Costco anywhere in Wyoming. But for sure, we’ve found what we were looking for. A quieter life. Friendly people. Great weather. Ease. I can do without Costco for all that.
I don’t know if all small cities are great, but this one sure is.
The thing about moving is that it’s hard. It’s physically hard. It’s emotionally hard. It’s just hard.
You put all this effort into it. You find a house to buy. You make an offer. The offer is accepted. And that was all hard enough. But then you discover the hard parts have only just begun.
Packing everything is a colossal pain in the back side. Even if you’ve saved every single box you ever got for the last 27 years (we didn’t actually do that, but we had a LOT of boxes in the basement), you will still come up short. Or you won’t have just the right shape for that cat sculpture you sister gave you. It ended up in one of those cardboard “pet taxis” that the adoption agencies often give to you so you can get your newly adopted cat home with a minimum of fuss and bother and as few cuts and teeth marks as possible. Not sure what the moving company guys thought about that one.
As hard as it is getting everything packed and ready to go, it’s actually harder to unpack everything.
I thought it would be the other way around. During the packing, the biggest decision we had to make was how badly did we need something and did we really want to move it. We got rid of a lot of stuff.
Unpacking, however, requires you figure out where to put what you’ve just unpacked. And since our new house is nothing at all like our old house, it’s been … well, I’ll just say it … hard. I hate to use the same word over and over again, but there you are.
In some ways, it’s exciting. You get to do things in a new way. You get to change up your organization. You get to start fresh.
In some ways, it’s a total pain. You have to figure out new ways to do things. You have to change how you’ve always organized everything. You have to start all over from square one.
Get the picture? If I seem a little conflicted, that would be an understatement.
Still, all in all, I have no regrets.
The thing about moving is that you’ve moved and now you just have to get on with the getting on. But it’s still hard.