Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hard Hat Angels

I traded up from the glitz and glamour of a national luxury magazine to the chaotic labor intensive world of drilling. Last Thursday my new company sent me out on the field to check out two construction sites in northern California. Three of us packed our overnight bags and prepared for a wild weekend with our one-way tickets. As we strolled out of the office our co-workers waved and labeled us Charlie’s Angels. Fitting and funny but not the first time I’ve been one in a trio of curvy blonde, tall red head and spunky brunette.

We wandered onto the first job site and graciously accepted our bright orange vests and hard hats. Then we drove down to the drill shaft where we received admiring looks and detailed lectures of the work scope. Just like digging holes in the sandbox, magnified and washed out with pumped water and a rather large vacuum. Unfortunately our devil may care stance did little to impress the safety warden. He noted and documented our disregard for steel-toed shoes. I felt like a tall weathered six-year-old when he asked me to spell my name. It was an agonizing five minutes waiting to see if my next move would warrant a check as well.

But the anticipation was for nothing and we didn’t learn our lesson. The following day we stumbled onto the second job site at 4:30 in the a.m. If you want to see cement being poured that is the appropriate time to watch. We were lucky enough to catch the repeat performances at 8, 10, noon and 3. Not only that but we had a few guys to keep us company, entertaining us with construction lingo. One of them even doubled as a drummer. I think there was more but it was hard to focus on him with all the other tools and equipment lying around.

Unfortunately we declined all invitations for the evening. A private jet picked us up as soon as the shaft was filled. Yeah, it’s the jet-set lifestyle but we have moments of living like regular people. Mine happened to be two days later when an officer of the law pulled me over for speeding. My weekend stories didn’t impress him but the winning smile of an angel got me off with a warning.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

If the Moose Charges We Stick Together

When my three-year-old niece saw a moose her daddy grabbed her and sprinted to safety. When I saw a moose on my hike I inched my way into spitting distance. Seems incredibly close but ask my cross-country team, I spit a lengthy distance.

The Eagle Scout guided me along the trail to Lake Catherine. At least I think that’s where we hiked, but I also have a vivid and unverified memory of reaching that clearing as a child. As we stood on the ridge looking at the small lake below Eric (the Eagle Scout) told me our destination was not the small lake before us but the two lakes a mile further. Once we made it to the other two lakes I faintly recalled eating a peanut butter sandwich on large rock that jets out into one lake.

Gazing at the lake textured by wind I imagined jumping in. I also imagined gasping as the cold temperature shocked my system but soothed my aching feet. Noting the rocky ledge I would undoubtedly hit before I made the water I instead turned to sit down and dislodge a few pebbles. There in the damp dirt I saw one hoof print then another. Perfectly normal in a nature setting and I’m no hunter so I appreciated the moment and continued about my way.

Lost in reverie and dulled by the pain of blistered feet (the easy hike had been both for natural beauty and a trial run of an inherited pair of chacos) I attempted to retrace our steps and instead tracked a moose. Right in front of me a female of the animal lay in the tall grass. I felt my eyes widen and my fingers stretch up in anticipation. The beautiful cow looked just like a horse. My mind raced through a series of bad ideas that would allow me to run my fingers down the length of its broad nose. Impulsively I stepped forward. Immediately the Eagle Scout spoke reason reminding me that moose charge and I looked like a good target. I tentatively took one more step when we heard a noise. Another moose.

I stopped and listened. Over the loud pounding of my heart I heard a low moaning sound. Further inspection led me to determine that a fallen tree leaning against its neighbor caused the boughs to creak. As I turned to explain my theory I spotted our second moose—a calf hidden by the brush. I calculated the added risk but gazed at the creature. Sensing my fascination Eric suggested we circle back and find a safer viewing point. Didn’t work and minutes later we crept back for one last peak.
Only this time the Eagle Scout went in for a closer look. He stood under the falling tree, a place I deemed sketchy, and watched the calf. I stood rooted watching the mother with excitement and unease. A sudden snap spooked me and the cow. She rose. I ran. Eric followed.

Back on the trail Eric looked at me with wonder. Wonder at why I didn’t think to tell him that the moose was headed his way. I looked at him with wonder. As an eagle scout and the previous voice of caution shouldn’t he have been watching his attacker? Besides I didn’t want to cause a scene…

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Catch All

It’s been a cold September literally I have had a cold. Which means I’ve been slightly delusional (I accepted a job in construction?!) and thoroughly enlightened through sick bed meditation.

OH, did I mention that people whom I have low tolerance for become annoyingly detestable to me? Enter new dancing friend who seemed harmless when I gave him my number while clearly stating it was for dance use only and I have a jealous boyfriend. Actually he asked if I had one and emphatically affirmed.

I ignored him face to face and through txt for two weeks. Luckily it hasn’t diminished our friendship as he still contacts me. This morning I woke happy and high off a plugged nose and answered his Sat txt. Here comes the enlightenment. Every txt I sent carried two familiar words: that sucks.

Pondering on this I remembered back a few weeks. Different boy, also uncertain of the parameters of our friendship, began txting the details of his life.

Him: bad day at work

Me: that sucks

Him: going in for surgery

Me: that sucks

Him: need to get out of the house, friend committed suicide

Me: that sucks

And there was the boy in Ireland who confessed his love for me and asked if we could date. I watched him with a smirk on my face then said unemotionally, “Yeah I don’t feel the same way. Dude, that sucks.”

He’s probably reading this. That sucks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Adapting to Bowling

Bowling is not my sport but I’m proud of my triple one score. In case you’re wondering it was a team effort and we had bumpers. Head spinning yet? Mine too.

At work (tutoring the autistic) today my little guy’s mom decided to split his session in two, one hour running programs and one hour at adaptive bowling. I cringed then smiled at least this meant I didn’t have to spend the hour coming up with new ways to teach math.

After hammering spelling words into his head we tied our shoes and headed to Fat Cats. We arrived first and had enough time to spend all our attention and excitement watching sports highlights. When everyone else began to bowl Jus began to take his shoes off. I commanded them back on and let him bowl alone first—this is his third week bowling.

Three minutes after he dropped the bowling ball it tipped over a few pins. I let him bowl again and again we wanted in dreadful anticipation as the ball slowly slid down the lane. Before it knocked down the pins another little boy called out to us. It was our turn on lane two. I ushered Justin over and prepared to nudge the ball along. But before I could clasp my hand over his, he let go and the ball crept to a stop half way down. The other moms looked at me, the other boys looked at me and I looked at Justin who looked back at me. Right my fault.

I redeemed my cool status by helping Jus get a spare. Instantly the boys welcomed me to the club with cheers and high-fives. Justin left early for soccer so I stayed to play out our game. My first time up without Justin I had some help. Another autistic boy (high-functioning and hilarious) told me he’d teach me how to bowl.

“You pick up the ball using these fingers. See? Then you run up and throw the ball.”

The demonstration worked wonders and I managed a spare. I turned around slightly awed. My new teacher exclaimed, “Good job! I’m a great teacher.”

I let him continue to think that even as my ball bounced off the bumper and corrected to dead center. They thought I was amazing, who am I to take that away?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Freeze Out Camp Out

I camp often enough to forget why I don't camp. I love being out in the dark scary woods telling creepy stories around the campfire and eating junk food and tinfoil dinners. But the frozen toes that lead to fitful naps throughout the night I could do without.

Being early September I falsely hoped that I would sleep peacefully under the stars at Albion Base. So hopeful was I that I turned down a perfectly warm tent. Besides Bubba told me that I could cuddle up next to him if needed. And I would have if he hadn't kicked me all night. Since he kicked me I tried to cuddle next to Lea and realized that she shared Bubba's flair for slumber karate.

So I minimized my sleeping space and dreamt of the warm sunshine. That morning I woke first and started kicking my camping companions to join me. Then the real fun started as we tried to steamroll each other. The slick bags caused us to plow into and slid back to start. Or so we thought until Russ came from the right and rolled over all three of us. But the slickness of Bubba's bag and a spatial miscalculation sent Russ off our sandbox bed and onto the surrounding rocky terrain. Lesson learned. Steamrolling for the 6 and under crowd only. Parental supervision required.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome to the Wild, Wild West

Legs stiffly bowed we sat in the car with the windows rolled down and let the warm air blow the mixture of sweat, dirt and horse hair dry against our skin. I gazed out at the golden fields of slick looking hay and wonder what Lea thought of it. As a child I loved playing on the hay bales until they splintered and flicked into my hair or face making me itch. I met Lea when I lived in Ireland and now she’s on holiday here in Utah. I’m not sure that she’s ever jumped on hay bales and though I don’t know how to make that happen I did organize a day of horseback riding.

In the four years since my last cowgirl stint things haven’t changed. I still managed to get the horse that yearns to be free from the pack (or maybe horses really do pick up on what you’re feeling) and I was either coaxing from behind to catch up or apologizing for my lack of control as Blaze and I raced up the hill to the front. I apologized because we couldn’t just beat our competition but Blaze felt the need to run them off the trail. And all this close proximity led to my habitual injury.

There’s a reason I haven’t touched a horse in four years. My best friend in college owns horses and as it turns out her family keeps them at their mountain side home in Orem. Easy access, difficult rides. I can count scars on every part of my body from our jaunts to Squaw Peak. But one not so pleasant morning I returned to the corral with a wrapped hand (holding on for dear life when the saddle slid sideways), a blood-soaked tank top (horse took a stunted jump and the saddle horn took a chunk of my stomach) and angry red welts from the trees and bushes that slapped me.

Yes, it was painful but also a lesson. I carefully monitor the saddling of my horse. I treat the saddle horn like a hot iron. And I stick to the middle of the road far from the reach of clawing branches. But what I couldn’t control was Lea’s horse moseying on over to say hi. As I smiled at her the horse mistook my leg for a scratching post and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed and then when I thought the Nazi horse torture done, he turned up the intensity by pushing my foot. The bend of a swollen twisted ankle caused me to yelp. My exclamation of pain meant nothing to either horse except to move a little bit closer. You can imagine what I would have said if I hadn’t been biting my lip. I do know this I take back every mean thought I had about Tom Cruise when he punched that horse in Far And Away. They have it coming.