Holy Fahrenheit, Batman!

Week 3 of triple-digit temperatures has kept me either in the air-conditioned house or at the beach.  My garden is fried, my perennials refuse to rebloom, my roses are crispy, my annuals are droopy, and I’m dreading the county fair, which starts tomorrow.  I don’t have to spend the time there that my kids do, with 4H and Rodeo Queening and cowboywatching, but my mouth is dusty just thinking about it.

Our big girls and their friends had a beat-the-heat party yesterday with a waterfight, ice cream, and a movie projected on the wall in the dark, cool basement.  Unless I was taking pictures, I sat inside at the window, eating black licorice and laughing at the water-balloon bombings, sneak attacks, and up-your-nose-with-a-garden-hose antics.  Here are some highlights:

Ahhhh, yeeaaahhhh . . . . . .


Alternate Universe:1987

I had a great weekend. And by “great,” I mean “Why do I get to know such groovetastic people, and then have so many of them in one place at one time?”

There are a few times in a person’s life when she gets to do the thing called “High School Class Reunion.” And I’m one of those sentimental, heart-on-her-sleeve kind of folk who starts looking forward to the next reunion before the last one is over, so I had been anticipating this 20-year reunion for 10 years (and now I have 10 more years to grin goofily to myself every time I think of seeing my classmates again). I’m sure therapists have a name for the affection (or, alternatively, the distain) one feels for the non-family people with whom one spends 6 hours a day, 180 days a year, for nearly all of one’s formative years. These are people who, through accident of being born within the same calendar year and residing within a particular geographical area, raise and shape each other by performing the range of human social interaction models in all their bewildering varieties, including kindness, cattiness, generosity, grudges, friendship, forgiveness, romance, rivalry, peacemaking, penitence, exclusion, exhibition, stalking, selfishness, caretaking, cowardace, and blowups and breakups.  We watched each other be nerdy, talented, irreverant, mean, courageous, awkward, brilliant, profound, and profane.   We supported each other through various performances, heartbreak, bad hair days (which were many with mullets, crispy perms and Big Hair), losing sports seasons, delinquency, teacher vendettas, the infinite varieties of teenage humiliations, and bomb threats.  And, sadly, we failed each other, too–besides outright malevalence and cruelty, we were guilty of countless missed opportunities to ease loneliness, soothe heartaches, seek forgiveness, and make friends.

I suppose the collective consciousness of all those moments, rising to the surface of my memories at the prospect of seeing my classmates again, accounts for the fragility and transparency of my emotions upon cresting the hilly boundaries of my hometown.  Moscow itself is a character from my past, a breathing, tangible, cocooning space that soothes me the moment I glimpse the outline of the mountains that form the city’s backdrop–these same mountains were the refuge and sentinels of my childhood.  Like my classmates, Moscow has changed:  grown beyond its earlier borders, it plays with the bigger kids in sports and state politics, but at its core it remains the quirky, somewhat bohemian personality I remember.

Because of time conflicts, I was able to attend only the Saturday evening function–a dinner-with-DJ affair that included spouses.  Long-time pal Wendy and I arrived together, and we melded into the medley of outstretched arms, happy exclamations, and laughter that characterized the evening.  The highlight was the graduation party video, juxtaposed with a slideshow of classmates today, put together by our own Photographer Extraordinare (and AP photographer) Ted.  Overall, however, my favorite aspect of the evening was seeing and talking with this outstanding group of people who have become parents, business owners, executives, entrepreneurs, scientists, professors, teachers, musicians, farmers, doctors, military standouts, performers, EMTs, firefighters, and a host of other excellent titles.

The title I am honored to call each of them is Friend.

Bill, Nikki

Dan and Debbie

Todd, Monica


Dana, Andy, Kelly

Heidi, Chris

Laurie, Greg, Kevin


Brance, Chris, Mitch, Tom

It’s Good to be Queen (right?)

Sometimes being a feminist is a real downer.

Just ask Missy, who is the youngest of 8 contestants for this year’s Rodeo Queen for our county.  Her mother (uh, that would be me) quizzed her relentlessly about why she wanted to be RQ, what RQs in fact do, and how she planned on coping with potential Mean Girl stuff.  So I’m posting an interview with my little feminist-in-training, RQ wannabe.

 Idahospud:  What are you hoping to accomplish by competing for the title of  Rodeo Queen?

 Missy: I want to spend more time with my horse, and learn how to be a better public speaker and presenter so that when my opinions will REALLY make a difference, I’ll be able to voice them more confidently.

Idahospud:  What does being a Rodeo Queen entail?

Missy: A Rodeo Queen educates people about rodeo, and buzzes at other rodeos to represent her county. A Rodeo Queen also has to give 3-6 public speeches about that year’s fair and rodeo, and occasionally ride in parades.

Idahospud:  What does the competition consist of?

Missy: First of all, a modeling/speech competition, where they will also ask you three questions from these catigories: Personality, Local Events, and Rodeo. Then there is a Horsemanship competition, where you have to ride a reining pattern to the best of your ablities.

Idahospud:  So can you argue that this is more than a beauty pageant?

Missy: In a beauty pageant, you do your hair. In a Rodeo Queening contest, you do your horse’s hair and hope you don’t get muddy and/or kicked in the process. How many beauty pageant contestants do you know that have to clean pens, get dirty on a regular basis (usually AT the competition), know what a header and a heeler do, or have to chase bulls into various corners of the arena while making sure they don’t run over the cowboy that’s lying in the dirt? Rodeo Queening also has a lot to do with horsemanship, a really hard skill to gain. Your horse is not just for show, he is your partner, making the competition a team effort.

Idahospud:  So why do only females compete for rodeo royalty?  Why aren’t boys vying to be Rodeo King?

Missy: Big rodeo supporters, such as Wrangler and Dodge, usually have male representitives at rodeos that buzz with their flags and wear their company’s shirts, and getting to be one of these representitves is a lot like a Queening competition. It’s just a little less…glittery. There is also the All-Around Cowboy award that is given at many rodeos.

Idahospud:  Competition among females is notorious for backbiting and mean behavior.  How are you going to make the competition experience an opportunity to foster sisterhood among the contestants?          

Missy: By not doing any backbiting myself, and by being friendly and not acting stuck-up, which usually makes you a target for mean behavior. Giving someone a sincere compliment helps ‘foster sisterhood’ too.

Idahospud:  You have been a good sport for answering my questions.  Best of luck to you in the competition!

For Sherry, but Mostly for Me

Today looked like an ordinary Saturday.

I slept in.  I ate Grape Nuts with Splenda.  I showered and dressed in jeans and a Tshirt.  I told the kids to clean their rooms.  I started the laundry. I cleaned my bathroom.  Charlie came over to help me organize some homeschool stuff.  I cleaned up a bottle of shampoo that Madame Chaos spilled. I had leftover pizza for lunch.  I loaded the dishwasher.  I told the kids to clean their rooms.  I cleaned up the pile of toilet paper that Madame Chaos spun til the roll was empty.  I put some more laundry in.  I welcomed my big girls back from YW Camp.  I visited with my friends who returned our car from Boise.  I had the neighbor kids over.  I told the kids to clean their rooms.  I made spaghetti for dinner and told the kids to clean their rooms.  I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher while I talked with my husband.  I told the kids to clean their rooms.  Hubby and I took Necia to the dance and then went on a date to RoeAnn’s Drive-in.  I came home to blog.  I have plans to watch a movie with Charlie until it’s time to pick up the kids from the dance. 

But it’s not an ordinary day for me.  Today is the day that I outlive my mother, who was killed in a car accident 31 years ago at the age of 38 years, two months, and seven days.  I’ve been thinking about this date for some time, trying to decide how to mark it, what it means for me to surpass the woman I have consciously and subconsciously modeled myself after.  Should I do something she would have done?  Should I individuate and do something she wouldn’t have done?  In the end, I decide that the best thing to do would be to live.

So I did.


Book Club Books

Tonight marked one of my favorite nights of the year:  choosing books for next year’s book club reading.   This September will be eleven years since our first meeting, when we discussed Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns.  There are four members from that first meeting that still come:  Barrie, Charlie, Lynn, and me.  Others have come and gone over the years, and right now we’ve got a great combo of 6-8 people who make it really fun while providing great conversation.  We mostly read classics, but we mix it up with philosophy, history, religion, biography, science, political theory, and psychology.

 Tonight we discussed Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure.  How have I missed this treasure for so many years?   I suppose after reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles (my #1 I-wish-I-could-change-the-ending book), I was wary of Hardy’s fatalism and reluctant to read another of his tragedies.  On the other hand, Tess prepared me for Hardy’s unblinking examination of the human condition as he saw it, so I was better prepared to step into Jude’s world of shattered ambitions and rigid social and moral codes.  I could enjoy and ponder the characters’ critique of societal conventions even as those conventions destroyed their lives.  I also enjoyed what I consider Jude’s feminism, in that the two main female characters, Arabella and Sue, not only believe that they have choices, but insist on acting on those choices.  While each of them had their faults (boy, did they ever!), I couldn’t help but applaud their dogged determination to make their way, in their own way.   There were two attending tonight who didn’t like the book on the grounds of its dark themes and tragic story lines–I certainly understand that but I loved the book nevertheless.

 After the discussion, everyone pulled out their lists of books to read next year.  After two rounds of voting, we narrowed 31 prospectives down to twelve:

September: Gilead: A Novel   Marilynne Robinson

October:  Moll Flanders     Daniel Defoe

November:  The Historian      Elizabeth Kostova

December:  City of God      St. Augustine

January:  A New Atlantis        Francis Bacon

February:  Eleanor Roosevelt    (choose any biography)

March:  Let the Trumpet Sound       Stephen B. Oates

April:  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn       Betty Smith

May:  The Price of Motherhood       Anne Crittenden

June:  Far From the Madding Crowd    Thomas Hardy

July:  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance      Robert M. Pirsig

August:  Human Motivation    Dale Drum

I’ve already read Gilead, Moll, Tree, and Zen, and look forward to discussing those.  The rest will be new, several of which I’ve been wanting to read for some time.

 I would love to see lists from your book clubs, if you care to share!

Post at fMh

Here is a link to a post I wrote over at fMh today:

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