Mustang Girls

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My sister, Jane, at her 50th high school reunion in Cheyenne, Wyoming with our 1965 Ford Mustang.

I grew up in Wyoming, the cowboy state. Wyoming has a population of about half a million; spread over approximately 100,000 square miles (about 6 people per square mile). Winters are long and cold. The wind blows most of the year, great in the summer for blowing away mosquitoes.  Wyoming cowboys and girls (the few there are) are a hardy, independent, eccentric group.

I was reminded of how quirky Wyomingites are with a story my sister shared from her fiftieth high school reunion last week in Cheyenne.

First, she sent me a picture of a 1965 yellow  Ford  Mustang with a black faux leather roof. Her note said, “This is our car.”  The picture did look amazingly like the car Jane and I drove in high school and college.  I texted her, “Does look just like our car.”  She texted back, “It is our car.” A guy at her reunion had bought the car from our dad for $600 in about 1977, refurbished it and kept it in pristine condition all these years.  Only in Wyoming with such a tiny population would you run into someone who knew you and owned your car for almost 40 years.

I remember the day in 1965 when, Dad brought the mustang home. He drove up in front of our house in Cheyenne.  I looked out the picture window and was thrilled.  The car was only a year old, very few miles,  yellow with a hard top, automatic gear shift in the center console,  creamy leather interior smoothed like butter over bucket seats.  Quite a “ride” for two girls from Wyoming!  The mustang went back and forth to high school though we lived about four blocks away from school.  Then it traveled to college when my sister needed a car her senior year for student teaching.  I was a freshman at the same school so I was one of the few freshmen on campus with access to “wheels”–a literal joy ride!

The Mustang stayed with me all through college after Jane, graduated. The car had two busy summers while I was in college. During that period, I was Lady-in-Waiting (1971) and then Miss Frontier (1972) for Cheyenne Frontier Days, the world’s largest out-door rodeo.  I spent those summers traveling with a Native American Dance troupe, attending civic functions around Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado, and riding my quarter horse, Debbie.  The car took me everywhere “pony  style”, the nickname for the Mustang’s compact design . Because the “Frontier Days Royalty” had all kinds of outfits for the rodeo, the tiny trunk was frequently filled to the gills with a variety of colored boots and hat boxes filled with expensive felt cowgirl hats.  The back seat carried white silk blouses and buck skins (the official outfit), along with several hand-tailored western suits for night shows and rain gear.

The Mustang and I travelled down to Arizona when I attended graduate school at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The problem with the Mustang in Arizona was it didn’t have air conditioning.   I only went to graduate school during the school year so the heat problem was limited to late August and early June.  But driving back to Wyoming was a bear.  My sister flew down to drive with me the spring I graduated (1975).  The car broke down in transit back to Wyoming.  Now ten years  old, Dad got me a  brand-new Mercury Bobcat to go to Washington State University in Pullman where I worked on my doctorate.

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 Bobcat and I in Pullman, Washington

 

After the Mustang retired from driving girls, the car was parked behind our house in Cheyenne, out in the open.  Dad used it as his golfing car, carrying his golf clubs out to the Country Club every day in summer.  A young man at the time cruising the alley spotted the car and stopped to inquire if Dad wanted to sell it.  And so a good long-term family friend went to another apparently forever home.

If the Mustang could talk, it would have many tales to tell. Jane and I would drive  from Cheyenne to Hastings, Nebraska for  college and back  on I-80.  We were almost always speeding. The speed limit at that time was 75.  One time, when we were going almost a 100 miles an hour, I could feel us barreling off the road.  I remember shouting at Jane as we were heading off, “Slow down!”  She calmly replied, “Too late now!”  as we swerved into the high grasses.  Fortunately for us, much of the road between Wyoming and Nebraska is flat plains.  We just rolled to a stop, backed up and were off down the road again.  Thinking of our escapades now gives me shivers.  But in the late sixties we would drive like the wind, with reckless abandon, racing everywhere to the next big adventure.  After all we were Mustang girls, who grew up on the wild, windy, Wyoming plains.

Ride around girls,

Ride around girls,

Don’t you ever slow that Mustang down!

 

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Trumpster perfect for the Dumpster!

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Trumpster paperweight, made in America, is a true collectible for your political friends.

 

Right before my son, Scott, left for college he came up with idea that I should create a paper mache Trump figure.  Wacky Trumpster featured in this blog would make a great gift  for politicos from either major party.  Trumpster is a convenient paperweight to keep track of all those nasty receipts you need at your finger tips when you are audited by the IRS. If Trump had a Trumpster, we may have seen his tax returns by now. Remember Trumpster comes with real hair which you can wash and comb. If you are loosing your hair, here is your opportunity to style someone else’s hair to your heart’s content. Trumpster is made entirely of recyclable products when you grow tired of him just toss him in the Dumpster. Each Trumpser is unique and lovingly made with only the finest old, used products. Don’t wait to order yours!

More reasons that Trumpster is this Election’s trendiest gift.

Trump Supporters: Give them a Trumpster along with a carton of legos.  Trumpster is entirely made in American by a 6th generation American (me).  The legos are so your Right Wing friend and Trumpster can build walls to their hearts’ content at no cost to tax payers.

Trump Detractors.  Give them a Trumpster to help them work off anger and frustration with the current Congress:

  1. Made of paper, Trumpster  can serve as a bulletin board to remind you of key dates. For example, the Presidential election is Tuesday, November 8, 2016.    If Trump looses, political commentary won’t be near as much fun.
  2. If you have a ghoulish side you could just push pins in Trumpster any time you are upset. I don’t think Trumpster contains any voodoo magic but punching holes in a wind bag is bound to make your day better.

To Order your own Trumpster or Trumpster for your friends and loved ones message me on Facebook  or WordPress or go to:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/myprivateidahopm?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Background on Trumpster’s Build

I started working in paper mache this summer to create sellable items for a Christmas Bazaar where the funds go to charity. So far I have created assorted cats and woodland angels. These items have not proven very popular on Etsy or Facebook. I am beginning to have a craft room full of colorful  cats and flying nymphs made of paper, paint and paste.

My college son, Scott, is of the opinion that anything “Trump” no matter how bizarre will sell. Scott may have a point. Trump seems to hold a weird fascination even for his detractors. All across America we wait with baited breath to hear the next outrageous Twitter or giggle at Trump’s explanation of how Obama created ISIS only to learn that these wild statements are a new form of “sarcasm”.

I took Scott up on his challenge and created “Trumpster”. Paper mache Trump is functional which is more than can be said for his real-life counterpart. He is a paper weight. Mr. Trump sits on a replica of Trump tower, a raspberry box filled with rocks(I liked both the  symbolism of Trump perched on raspberries and his tower covered with a gold facade but really holding nothing but rocks like many of his failed real estate deals). Trump’s body is made from a recycled brew cup. We have lots of these from coffee every morning, might as well put them to good use.

As Scott noted, the only  things you need to denote Trump are big hair, pointing fingers and orange skin. The reality bar is quite low because Trump has made himself into his own reality TV character. The hardest part of the project was the hair. I finally  clipped hair off my Sheltie, Shani, and glued it on  a wig form. When I told Scott this, he worried that I had given Shani bare spots. Do not be alarmed, Shani has more hair at any one time than most dogs grow in a life-time. As you can see by the picture, Shani looks no different after providing Trump with his gilded hair than she did before my gentle clipping. Once the hair  was glued in place, the wig fell off the model into a cup of water. Not to worry, made from real hair, the wig dried out and remains perfectly groomed unaffected by this potential castrophy.

 

 

Redneck Lives Matter

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Playing on Payette Lake provides a metaphor for life

I have lived in Idaho almost 22 years, a third of my life. Idaho is the most Republican state in the nation.The state where a perfectly normal question is “Have you heard of the group Black lives Matter? Well, in Idaho Redneck Lives Matter.”  In rural Idaho, PETA stands for “People eating tasty animals.” (Probably shot with a concealed weapon, all perfectly legal.)

In this staunchly  Red environment,  I have transformed into a strong Democrat. I drive a blue car with a novelty license plate that says BLUEGRL. I am proud to be a Blue girl (Democrat)in a Red State.  I sometimes worry about the car getting keyed for advertising my political opinions.

I have a Republican friend who says Idaho Democrats could hold the state convention in a phone booth if we could find a phone booth anymore. Idaho Democrats running for statewide office get consistently  about 30% of the vote if the individual candidate runs a good campaign.   We haven’t had a Democrat elected statewide since our Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marilyn Howard, retired in 2006. No other position has  even been competitive in the 20 years I’ve lived here

The miracle of Bernie Sanders in Idaho is that thousands of people showed up for Democratic caucuses all over the state. In Boise, there are still Bernie yard signs up. Before the Democratic National Convention several hundred people marched in Boise in support of Bernie.While I still see Bernie stickers on cars and yards signs, I haven’t seen any Hilary stickers. I got an email  last week that Hilary had hired an Idaho  field organizer, a young woman, recent  graduate of  the University of Idaho.  The email said Hillary could use some help in Idaho. NO KIDDING! Hillary and  Idaho? Talk about an oxymoron! The fact Hillary has paid staff in Idaho shows the fundraising process of the Democratic Presidential campaign.  Maybe Hillary has a field organization in Idaho to recruit Bernie fans. But the few I know wouldn’t vote for Trump. They may choose to not vote and thus the need for Hillary to have a grassroots  organization.Paying to organize Idaho Democrats for a national election is like seeing how many people you can get in a Volkswagen. You can run around a lot, create frenetic energy, spend a great deal of time but in the end the number will be quite small.

In this environment,  where there are no decent Democrats running for national office why do I remain a Democrat? Afterall, I will be voting for Republican Congressman Mike Simpson in my Congressional District. Congressman Simpson is a retired dentist who supported expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He recently got Congress to  pass the White Cloud Wilderness Bill, designating three areas in the Owyhee Mountains  as wilderness. This legislation took years of  work. In other words, Simpson is a good guy.  Why bother with  the Democratic label at all when I am clearly the minority?

I have wrestled with my Democratic values for some time. I am forced to when I am consistently in  the minority. Saying my political alliegence aloud can lead to crazy arguments and loss of friendships.

I grew up a Republican in Wyoming. I can remember standing on the tamarack at the Cheyenne airport. My sister was dressed in white holding glittery  gold poms poms along with other teenage girls. I tasted  the bitter bile of jealousy as the wickedly cold wind made my eyes leak because I wasn’t old enough to be a Goldwater Girl and stand with the cheering girls. Goldwater went on to win only  six states,  Arizona (his home state) and five southern states.  He even lost Wyoming and Idaho.

Early in my early professional career I worked for both Democratic and Republican Governors. I considered myself an independent, supporting the individual rather than the party.

I capitulated to dyed-in-the-wool, bright Blue Democrat as I saw the Idaho legislature become progressively conservative giving tax breaks to business, failing to appropriately fund our public schools, repeatedly defeating Medicaid Expansion. Last year in the legislature an emergency room physician testified that at least a 1000 low-income Idahoans  die a year because of lack of health care. Our Republican  Governor Butch  Otter’s response was, ” Lots of people die every year.”

My husband  and I give monthly to Idaho Democrats.   I am volunteering to stuff envelopes for state legislative races. All of this money and energy with no expectation of it making a difference. The question is why bother?

I got the answer on Saturday at Payette Lake in McCall.  I was sitting on the dock at Ponderosa State Park watching my daughter and her friend  jet skiing across the lake. A woman with head covered, black leggings and a beautiful white lace top got on the back of a new jet ski behind her husband. I presume she was Muslim and the man was her husband. After bouncing across the water at full tilt, she came back to the dock sporting a huge smile. At that moment it became crystal clear to me why I am a Democrat. Jet skiing provided  a great metaphor for living in our complex world. My Chinese daughter was out on the same water with the Muslin couple and behind me some black families who were speaking a language other than  English, also in full dress,  probably refugees, were playing on the beach and wading in the shallow water, laughing and splashing. All of us from very different backgrounds were sharing  the lake  linked by our human capacity for laughter and joy.

I am a Democrat because I believe all lives matter. Hurrah for Rednecks, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, Jews, Gays and everyone else! You all matter and American should be a big enough place that we can embrace and live with our differences.

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Everyone at the lake had a moment of shared joy across cultural boundaries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man Bun vs. Mom Bun

 

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Our competing Muns at the breakfast bar

My son Scott headed out for his last fall at the University of Idaho this week. He is President of his fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau and had to be at U of I early to get the fraternity  house ready for Rush.  Before he left he took time for our Man Bun versus Mom Bun (MUNs) head shots.

The family teased him all summer for his long hair on top, cropped short on sides.

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Scott’s hair , looking great!

His hair looks great for work but for lacrosse or workouts flops down his face in a long veil unless it is held back by a bun and sometimes bun and headband. When he has his hair up, he is part of the man bun crowd started a few years back by hipsters in New York, moving to San Francisco and becoming popularized by  celebrities Jaquin Phoenix, Jared Leta, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik. (both of One Direction, boy band fame).

MUNs are popular enough now that you can purchase one on Amazon.com if you don’t have enough hair.  Nick Cannon has been wearing  a  MUN the last few weeks on America’s Got Talent.  Mr. Cannon told folks on Good Morning America that it takes a couple of hours to get his corn rows and man bun in place.  Man buns aren’t for everyone. Since many men have a hereditary tendancy to loose their hair as they age, there have been recent cautions that wearing a too-tight man bun can pull out your hair permanently, prematurely.  Scott doesn’t have to worry about that. The hair loss gene comes from the mother’s side of the family.  My dad had fabulous wavy hair until he died.  The popularity of the man bun has moved it into the realm of humor.  If you want to see  politicians with man buns including Donald Trump check out this link: http://twistedsifter.com/2015/11/if-politicians-had-man-buns/

My hair is a different story.  By the time I hit thirty, I was in professional jobs and kept my hair short to ensure  I had some semblance of a coiffeur at work.  Before short hair, I had extremely thick, long, and amazingly unruly hair.  In my late twenties when I had long hair and  was at a meeting of all men, I turned my head and a rocket shot across the room.  Everyone in the room asked what it was.  When we finally rescued the flying object from under a table across the way from me, it turned out to be an electric roller caught under my very thick mane, left in-place unnoticed as I hurried out the door to work.  Turning my head displaced it and propelled it across the board room.  Since the late seventies were a time when women were just clawing their way into management positions, it was essential that I look as prim and polished as possible.  I challenge you to  remain dignified when claiming a sailing roller from your supervisor at a major meeting.  The roller incident was the beginning of my many efforts to tame my wild mane by keeping it short.

By my early thirties, I was starting to get premature white hair.  Both my mother and grandfather had gorgeous white hair by 35 but  I chose to color my hair to be in step with the times.  I have now been coloring my hair for almost 35 years.  I actually have no idea what color my hair is now.  I thought about letting it grow gray when I retired but decided to wait to see my true color until my daughter Kayla is out of high school.

I started growing my hair the day I retired.  My hair is now down to my shoulders but hard to pull up into a bun.  It takes two small buns to make one.  My hair is long enough to whip around in the Wyoming wind on vacation.  I love the freedom of feeling my hair blow when we are out on our bikes or on a boat.  I have also gotten my hair long enough that my daughter can braid it though it ends up with a little tiny pig tail rather than an long beautiful streamer.  I plan on growing my hair to about the length of Meryl’s Streep’s hair at the Democratic convention, slightly below my shoulders.   The ability to grow my hair and let it do as it pleases in retirement has been a great joy.

I miss my son already though he has only been gone a couple of days.  I have no competition now in the MUN contest.  When he is around the house, there are moments every day of great laughter about silly things.  University of Idaho you are lucky to have him this fall and I was fortunate indeed to spend the summer growing my hair along with him.

 

 

Zip lining at Tamarack: A Bucket List Experience

 

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Tamarack zip line

Zipping from tree top to tree top, I felt like an eagle soaring high but going so fast I would never be able to spot prey.  While in my fantasy I was an agile winged bird of prey, in reality I looked like a rotating chicken on a spit because I never could keep the line straight as directed and found myself twisting around.  I could only take in the splendor of Cascade Lake and the mountains when standing on the wooden perches waiting my turn.  There were  9 in our group but the tour can accommodate up to 10. The first zip, the tour guide, had to pry off my hands from what he described as the “clutch of death”.

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My helmet is askew from spinning
For safety purposes, everyone is tethered onto the tree platforms in-between zips. The highest perch was 125 feet. The platforms are  sky-high tree houses about 12 feet square with a tree rising through  middle of the platform and serving as the structure.  The tree is partially covered with padding to avoid out of control humanoids slamming into bark and surrounded by tethers to keep the tour group from accidently pitching over the side and becoming a causality of the exercise.

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Tree top platform for taking off.
The correct position is a tucked canon ball with one hand on the zip tether for guidance and the other free floating for an airbrake if necessary.  An air brake means you stick you your hand out and madly grab for air to slow yourself down in an awkward flapping maneuver. The demonstration of this  technique looks like  sky diving without a parachute.  Fortunately, I was never going fast enough to try to stop myself.  On the other hand, if you aren’t going fast enough to reach the landing you are to grab the safety cord so the tour guide can pull you in.  The second zip,   zipping in my own little zone, I didn’t hear the guide shouting at me to grab the safety line.  I came to my senses just in time to avoid an incident of hanging out in the middle of line needing to be fetched in by guides.  When this happens, you are called “fish on a line”.  That gives you some idea of how ungainly a non-moving zipper can become, hanging in mid-air waiting to be rescued. My daughter was on a different trip where a younger member (not enough weight, certainly not my problem) had this happen.  Apparently, it took considerable time to fetch the kid from mid rope back up to the platform.

Trying zip lining was on my bucket list partially because my balance problems have eliminated so many of my challenges I easily accomplished when I was younger. Since one is held up when zipping, I thought I could accomplish this adrenal pump even with my limitations.  I did drag my husband, Pete, along.  At first, he said he would take me to the site and drop me off to do it by myself.  But after shrieking at him that this wouldn’t help me at all, he came along reluctantly. In a bind, I can count on him to hold my hand  and pull me up or down areas I can’t accommodate on my own.  It turned out there was another gracious guy on the trip who kept stopping to help me.  His wife had stayed at home and the guides were top notch and helped everyone.

I would like to report that the next day given my excellent condition I jumped out of bed not feeling anything.  Unfortunately, I am 65.  The next day my body felt like I’d been flung around in a dryer.  I had bruises on my thighs from the equipment and a cut on my leg from the suspension bridge.  One cannot be an adventurer without being willing to take the pain with the adrenal pump.  Would I do it again?  Oh yes.  My bucket list also includes  is sailing over the rain forest in Costa Rico.

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My husband, Peter and I, after our zip line experience with a gorgeous view of Cascade Lake in the background.