Thursday, August 30, 2007

Job Training, Anyone?

I'm afraid of offending some of my new friends, but I'll say it anyway. I am generally not a Wal-Mart fan. There I said it. My distaste stems from a number of reasons, not all of which are important to tonight's post. But I will also admit that I do shop there every now and again because it is a great one stop shop. However, once the Super Target opens across the street...well, now that place is my weakness.

Okay, for today's aggravation with Wal-Mart. I needed a few fresh veggies for the stir-fry I made tonight and some bath and haircare products. It was a quick trip, and all was going well until the checker, holding one of my items and looking confused, asked, "What do you call these?"

" beans?"

Okay, seriously.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wyoming Fun

It's not a big place, as you saw from yesterday, and I think some of you may be giving it a little more than its due. It is not a quaint town, more down home country than that, but there are some good things to do. Nearly everyone plays, cheers for, or attends high school sports, but beyond that a mere visitor can:

Go see the wild mustangs that live nearby:

Check out Devil's Canyon at the overlook:

You can even swim in the lake, Horseshoe Bend. I prefer boating, but as we were without a boat, swimming had to do:

My niece and nephew joined us, and he was kind enough to let the kids douse him in mud. I love 14 year old boys!

Then there's alway hiking in the sand hills:

And if you're there on the Saturday nearest July 24th, you can participate in Pioneer Day. (And Utah thought they had the market on that holiday. Hah!) Even the kids get into the action in the Kiddie Parade. I think Logan thought it was a race. Look, she's "winning":

Griff even got to pet a live animal. Yes, it was in the Kiddie Parade, too.

And for their trouble they got a golden dollar and an otter pop. C'mon people! What more could you ask?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Tour of Cowley

"Neath the crest of Bighorn Mountains, with its glorious view,
Proudly stands the school we honor, Cowley, hail to you."

--as sung by many Cowley Pep Clubs

Some of my good friends have been curious about what my little hometown looks like and asked me to take some pictures when I visited there this summer. (If you missed my ode to Cowley go here.) Having taken the pictures, ever so long ago, I am finally giving you all a tour today. I don't know if most of you can picture how small 455 people is. Imagine this: When I moved to So. California, my entire town could have easily lived in my apartment complex. Kind of blew my mind.

So, without further ado, here is Cowley's downtown district:

A closer look at the main businesses:

The Cowtown Cafe. Now this is a big deal. It didn't exist when I was a kid. We had to go to the next town for a restaurant, and then nearest McDonald's was 45 minutes away.

This is the most recent business addition, as well as the most recent hubbub. I guess someone is going to put a salon in and they thought painting the original brick turquoise was a great idea. Many of the residents are NOT happy.

Here is the Cowley Mercantile, or The Merc as the locals call it. The original Merc was in a much older building that has since been torn down, but the general feel is about the same. It is where we would hang out at night, cutting up, talking and maybe throwing a few tomatoes at passing truckers: The average rural teenage rowdiness, I suppose. Notice there is only one gas pump which does not accept debit cards. I had to figure that whole business out when I moved to California, too. I know, I know! I'm sure other parts of the state are more technologically advanced now, but 10 years ago? Not so much.

This is a view of main street from one end to the other. Yes, it is the entire length of the town.

The LDS Church is on the other side of Main street. It's location in the center of town was no accident. Remember this town was settled by a small group of Mormons sent up from Utah by Brigham Young.

Next to the church is the old Relief Society Building. It was abandoned when I was a kid and no longer used by the church, so I don't know much about its history. Now, however, it has been restored and is used as the Town Hall and Museum. That's right, I said museum.

Here is the entrance to the Bighorn Academy which was built by the settlers in the early 1900's. It served as the local high school for the surrounding towns. My grandmother, for example, lived in Byron, just 7 miles away, and boarded in Cowley during the week to attend the Academy. Eventually, it became the town's high school until we consolidated with 3 other towns in 1983. I was the only one of my siblings not to attend here.

This is the log gym, also built by the early settlers. It was used as the high school's gymnasium until 1983 as well. It is still used by the town for some basketball practices and social functions. Some people have been married there. Here's another shot:

This view would seem to be out of town aways, but it can be seen just at the turn as you enter town on main street. Yes, it is cow and farmland here.

So there is your little tour of my little hometown. The only main buildings I forgot are the post office and the Waterhole #1 (town bar). No town in Wyoming would be complete without one of those.

Anyway, it isn't much I know, but I still love many things about it. Just like these hollyhocks in a neighbors yard, life there is simple and beautiful in so many ways.

Come back tomorrow and I'll give you a peek at at some of the things to do around them there parts.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Kindergarten Lesson #1: Life is Tough

Logan started all-day Kindergarten a couple of weeks ago. Letting your first child enter the real world is tough stuff! I wasn't sure either of us was ready, but she's doing great, and I'm adjusting. Here she is, backpack and all, ready to begin her life as a scholar:

And here she is waving goodbye as she heads into class:

Wow! Tough moments for a mom. But I found out the tough moments just keep on coming. Like Friday for instance:

I pull up through the parent pickup after school, and the first thing I notice is that the teacher is approaching my car instead of the usual aid.

"I just wanted to let you know that Logan was punched in the stomach by a little boy in parent pickup this afternoon," she says.

I look at Logan who seems no worse for wear. "Okay..."

"I mean it hurt. She was in tears. And I talked to the boy and his parents. I mean he was just being silly, but like I told him, that is not right."

"Well, thank you. You okay, Lohgs? Yeah, those boys are like that sometimes."

I was going for the breezy, take-all-tragedies-in-stride kind of mom. I didn't want to seem nutty to either Logan or her teacher, but I have to admit I have thought about it at least 48 times since. My cute little baby in her sequined jeans and cowboy boots (Yes, she chooses her own clothes, and she does have a fashion sense) innocently waiting for me to pick her up, and she gets sucker-punched in the gut?!

As for the boy, all I can picture is the bully from my own grade school days. The angriest kid I ever knew: Warren Hunt. He and I traded punches on a regular basis until the fourth grade. Everyone in our class traded punches with Warren. The memory is not a comforting thought.

"Logan, who is this boy?" rat-faced, punk I add in my own head.

"I don't know."

"You've never seen him before?" Like maybe holding up a liquor store? I can't seem to stop the running commentary in my head.

"He's in my class; I just don't know his name."

"Did you do anything to him?" After all, I wouldn't put it passed her.

"No. I was just standing there. Then he said, 'You want a piece of me?'"

"What?" He is quoting DeNiro? "He actually said, 'You want a piece of me?'" That made me laugh.

"Yup, and then he punched me in the stomach."

"Well, okay...I wouldn't hang out with that kid much."

I realize she's tough enough for these tough moments, but I'm not sure about me. Letting go just ain't easy.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I'm No Gym Rat

Mesa has not been kind to my waistline. I hesitate to even write this out loud because I have made a commitment not to engage in "fat talk," which according to a recent news article is one of the first topics of conversation when women get together. I have vowed not to give into that social pressure needlessly.

However, that said, this isn't just fat talk. It is my truth right now. A sizeable portion of my day is dedicated to whittling away the waistline. That's right: I'm back at the gym after a couple of deliriously happy, exercise free, summer months. I know I should feel guilty writing that. "But what about those endorphins?" "Doesn't exercise make you feel great?" "Don't you always feel better when you're exercising?"

Maybe. But the real truth for me is that I find it a pain in the butt. It just takes a lot of time, and I've got a lot to do. The extra hour devoted to sweating gives rise to another hour devoted to clean up, hair, makeup, then add the travel time to and from the gym, and the minutes it takes to get little Griff checked in and out of child care...well, it just adds up. And I find myself thinking the whole time about the other things that need to get done.

But I'm doing it. And I have been inspired by the 78-year old woman in my body sculpting class. I LOVE her! This class kicks my butt by the way and a lot of younger, more in shape derrieres as well, so I give her all kinds of credit. I talked to her after class one day, and she said, "My friends think I'm crazy, but I told them if God's let me live a long life, I want to take care of myself." I want to be like her when I grow up.

...Crap! That's a lot of hours at the gym.

Short Memory = Larger Waistline

So if I'm spending all this time working out, I might as well watch what I eat, right? And generally I'm pretty good about that. But I live with the devil! Mr. Wicke has a sweet tooth, and now I do, too! My goal of cutting out sugar has not been going well. Thursday night might be the best, or is it worst, example.

I was invited to speak at another ward's RS Enrichment Night on Thursday: Well, you know there is always a dessert of some kind at these things. Tonight it is 3 different kinds of homemade cheesecake. I love cheesecake. The carrot cake cheesecake tasted delicious by the way. I stopped at one piece, so give me credit.

Now, I hadn't had a chance to eat an actual meal before the event, so when I get home I sit down and have a bowl of the chicken soup I had made for the fam. Also good, by the way. Then just to chill out I turn on the TV. This is an effective brain numb-er, an important point when considering the following events. An hour later Thomas is scavenging around in the kitchen looking for his evening snack. "I'm making a mint chocolate chip shake. Want one?"

Having appropriately numbed my brain and truly not remembering the carrot cake cheesecake a couple of hours before I say, "Sure." I love mint chocolate chip milkshakes. It is really good, too, by the way.

After the milkshake I feel unusually full and a little sick. That's when I remember the carrot cake cheesecake. Crap! Almost simultaneously I remember the digital display on the treadmill that morning. It said I burned off like 28 or so calories. I'm pretty sure I just ate that up. Ah, nuts! Maybe I can make up for it tomorrow in step aerobics.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I Now Pronounce You...Complete Strangers to Us

I generally enjoy wedding announcements and invitations. We have been getting a lot of them, and it's fun to see with whom some of our favorite kids ended up picking to spend the rest of their lives. Sometimes I think the layouts and photos are subtle and elegant. Sometimes they are cheesy, and sometimes, like yesterday, this happens: "Do you know who these people are?"

Thomas hands me a wedding announcement, and I give it a once over, then a twice over. "I have never seen these people before in my life."

Then we stand there, heads together, squinting at the photo, perusing the return address. None of the names are familiar, and the closest I can get to placing either of them is that the groom looks freakishly a lot like a nephew of mine.

"It must be one of your students," Thomas concludes.

"No, it isn't. I have never seen either of them before. Names I forget, but I'm great with faces."

"They were married on a beach in Malibu. Sounds like something your private school kids would do."

"I am telling you, I do not know these people. Besides, how would they know our address in Arizona? And why does it have to be someone I know? You're the one with a million cousins you've never met. Remember your cousin who called asking to stay at our house when they were in town, and you didn't know who she was? It's probably someone in your family."

More perusing, more squinting. Now we're flipping it over, double checking inside the envelope, looking for any possible clue.

"It's a girl's handwriting--"

"That doesn't mean anything. The girl always end up doing all the addressing."

"I don't know anyone with the last name of Hampton. He's definitely not related to me."

"Do you know anyone with a daughter named April?"

"I don't think so..."

"Me either...It's a shame that wedding dress doesn't fit better. And I think the bare feet was a mistake. He doesn't have great feet."


"Yeah. No, we don't know these people."

"I guess that means we're not sending a gift?"

Interestingly this is the announcement I'm most likely to never forget.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Don't you hate girls who always pick men over their blogging friends? Yeah, me neither!

I totally get that. I mean who can blame someone for choosing love? I can't, especially when it me! Therefore, I have no time for blogging today. Mr. Wicke and I are going out on the town and finally seeing the Bourne Ultimatum. I know! We are some of the last people in the country to catch it. What can I say? Maybe we are old and lame. But since we haven't even had time to talk to each other for the last month, a dinner and movie night was really out of reach.

However, tonight's the night! So time to pull out my date wear, trusty heels included, my no-fail lipstick, and my fall-down-on-your-knees-and-worship-me perfume. That's right, ladies! I'm gearing up for some romance.

And with that option available...sorry, I've got to stand you up, girls. Hope you don't hold it against me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Large and In Charge

My new favorite trick: One load of laundry a day. Big or small doesn't matter. Just one load to wash, dry, fold, and put away, and I am laundry free. No huge piles waiting to be done and causing me guilt like back in the day when I trudged through "laundry day." I hated that torturous day. Now my closet stays more organized, I have tons (okay, not tons, but ample) clothes ready to wear at a moments notice, and my laundry room is not an embarrassment. It makes me happy. And I have always despised the laundry beast. Who's in charge now, huh?!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why I Hate Flying

I have been out of town again! I think it is time to take the wings off my heels and be still for awhile. Home is a good place to be.

Having spent a long weekend in California, I can attest to one true thing: I do not like to fly. The whole experience is unsatisfying to me. My trip home will sum it up.

I waited in the security line for one hour and 5 minutes. When I finally made it to the front, I could see my gate. The plane was loading; there was a hope that I might just make it, especially when the boarding pass checker ushered me into the first class line. I was feeling lucky for a few seconds until the first class line was stopped while they checked 3 wheelchair bound people and their families through. It would have gone a lot smoother if they would have had both metal detectors up and working, but that would have made too much sense. So, because I always get in the slowest moving line, my first class experience was second best as it turned out.

Out of frustration I said to the blue-tooth and suit wearing man behind me, "Kind of ridiculous today, huh?"

"It's working OK for me," he replied coldly.

"Really?! I've been in line an hour!"

"Your kidding?"

"No. See that line that snakes all the way around down there?" pointing to the rest of my coach sharing passengers, at least those I could see without using binoculars.

And then he said, and I quote, "Well, you should have paid more money."

Snobbery like that doesn't sit well with me. I laughed out loud. "Oh, yeah! I should have paid more money!" As in "Why didn't I think of that!"

"You've got to know your worth it."

"Oh! I KNOW I'm worth it. That's not the problem, believe me."

He bugged. Pompous ass.

Then security had to search my bag. They opened it, and, of course, my underwear was on top. Nice. Do you know that at some airports they want you to carry your plastic bag of mini-toiletries through security? They are called toiletries because they are supposed to be private! AND what kind of facial products come in 3 oz. sizes? Seriously.

I also hate walking through that thing barefoot. I just know I'm catching athlete's foot the whole time. It's gross.

Ever noticed how everything is getting smaller on the airplanes? Like the seats and my micro bag of peanuts. I think there might have been three nuts total. Yum. Why even bother?

And if they are that cheap, how do I know they aren't cutting corners elsewhere? Like nuts, bolts, engines, that sort of thing. Basically I am of the belief that we human beings should not be that far off the ground anyway. I always have to say a little prayer during take off. It goes a little something like this: "Please bless this hunk of metal. I do not want to die today." And it is repeated until my blood pressure settles. It's not poetic, but it is sincere. When we finally land I am always relieved. That is until we have to stand in another long line waiting for the doors to finally open. And what is it with the people who can not wait their turn?

So yes, I need to stop traveling for a while. It's making me grouchy. Maybe I just need to go shopping and throw my big wads of money around for awhile. After all, I've got to know I'm worth it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Let's Giver Her Something to Blog About

Yesterday was a sort of blogless day. I mean I wondered what in the world I could write about because nothing really interesting happened. That is until Family Home Evening.

Now for my non-LDS friends out there--a quick explanation. We Mormons are encouraged to keep Monday nights reserved for our families. We do fun activities together, have a lesson, eat treats, that sort of thing. I think it is a great idea-LDS or not. It's good for our family, and in theory, this evening should be delightful. Sometimes it is. Other times, like last night for instance, it is a disaster.

First, Logan came home from school yesterday thinking that she was 13. I don't know what happened to the sweet girl that left my house in the morning, but she was replaced by a back-talking, moody little thing, and by 7 pm I was on my last nerve with her! Added to that, Griffin was clearly tired and grouchy, and as usual not wanting to sit still at all. I could tell we were in for it. So the FHE Masterplan was get in, get out, and get it done, and it was working until about halfway through.

We'd had a song, said the prayer, and Logan insisted on giving a short "lesson" about love and family (oh, the irony!) and Mr. Wicke and I were just getting to our part about chores and the new plan for the school year (yes, this is the brainwashing portion of FHE) when all of a sudden Griffin, who is seated on his Dad's lap yells, "Stop holding my neck!"

Daddy responds, "I'm not holding your neck."

"Yes you are because my neck is hurting!"

The rest of us are all a bit confused until he suddenly grabs his mouth and begins spewing vomit.

Well, FHE over! Now I am on carpet clean up, Logan is ordered just to stay back, and Mr. Wicke is on kid clean up. But my favorite part of the evening came when Mr. Wicke asks from the other room, "Do you think I should put him in the bath?"

Well, give me a minute. Let's see...he's covered in vomit...hmmm...yeah, why not?"

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a Family Home Evening worth blogging about.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Suddenly I'm Raising Rocky

For a long time I have been convinced that I am raising a monkey. Griffin is only really content if he is climbing or hanging on something. I thought that was bad enough, especially at times such as when we were at China Panda one afternoon, and I heard, "Hey, Mom! Look at me!" I turned around to see him doing a handstand with his feet on the drink station. That is not only embarrassing but also rather socially unacceptable unless you are a baboon, of course. But it is something that I have grown accustomed to and at least know how to handle.

Tonight I would happily settle for the monkey business. You see, today at church we convinced Griffin to go to his Primary class, no small feat may I add. When he went in and finally sat quietly, I was thrilled. That didn't last long, however, because later it was reported to me that by the end of opening exercises he had fallen asleep, and when his teacher began to lift him to carry him out, he came to swinging. As I heard it he connected with her face about four times. Luckily my girlfriend is the Primary President, and she pulled him off. I guess that's when he came to his senses and settled down.

Mr. Wicke made him apologize to his teacher, of course, but I think I'm going to have to make her family cookies this week. I am mortified! Sadly, my friend told me that when she asked the teacher if she was okay she said, "Oh that was nothing compared to being bit last year. That drew blood." Maybe she needs more than cookies...

If anyone in Heaven is reading this blog, I pray right now that I will never be called as the Sunbeam teacher. I have no doubt that I have neither the paitence or fortitude. She needs a medal...and the cookies...and a lot of chocolate!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My New Boss

It's interesting the things I am finding out about Griffin now that we are alone together most of the day. First, he is a real talker! I guess Logan was a buffer in this area. Maybe he did a lot of his talking to her, but without her my ears hurt. It is non-stop all day long.

Second, he is a crazy back seat driver. Great! Talkative and bossy. A terrific combination. Take tonight for instance.

Griff: Mom you passed a red light. Mom! You passed a red light! Mom! Mom! You passed a red light.

Me: No I didn't.

Griff: You passed a red light.

Me: Griff, I can turn right on a red light. I just can't go through a red light.

Griff: You went through it.

Me: No, I didn't.

Griff: Hmmm...Go faster, Mom. Faster, Mom!!

Me: I can't.

Griff: It's going to take too long to get home. Go faster!

And on, and on, and on...

This shouldn't drive me as nuts as it does. I'm learning things about myself, too. Like I don't like to be told what to do...even by a four year old. It's a good thing he is a good helper and that he'll kill bugs for me. I suppose it's a tradeoff I'm willing to make.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Testing my "Patients"

Logan is sick. That's right. Two days of school, and she has already contracted a virus of some kind. I knew before she did. She was tossing, turning, and whining in her sleep all night. In my bed. I need a nap.

This morning, before I got the Motrin in her, she cried and cried because her throat was "really hurting."

I finally had to respond, "I know, honey. But you can not cry all day long. Sometimes we get sick, but you are going to get better, I promise." I was very calm and soothing. Imagine new-agey music with subtle ocean sounds behind it--that was me. I rubbed her belly and made comforting shhing sounds and felt like one terrific mother.

That is until she said, "I know you are trying to help, but it's not working."

Amazing! Even when she's under the weather, she still has the ability to take the wind right out of my mommy sails. Mothering is not for the weak.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hero Watching

After yesterday's post, I thought we needed something a bit more inspiring. This is a poem I wrote a number of years ago now. I was in the middle of struggling with our infertility but was surrounded by amazing moms who also happened to be my amazing friends. On the day they joined us for the legal adoption of our little girl, I gave them a copy as a thank you for standing with and by me and for inspiring me with examples of the kind of mother I wanted to be.

I still like it, and I think it applies to every woman who is doing the hard work of really mothering. My hat's off to you!

for my sister-friends of Irvine
November 3, 2000

She doesn't know she is a hero.
Minute to minute of everyday life--
wiping runny noses
soothing broken hearts.
Putting the toys away
to take them out
and put them back again.
Peanut butter sandwiches
with the crusts cut off,
but he wanted corn dogs...
and apples with no peel.
She's tired today,
patiently explaining obedience--
She doesn't feel like a hero,
more like a referee--
"Was she playing with it first?"
"Let's take turns."
"You can not tie people up without their permission."
She doesn't know she is a hero.
There are no awards
for outstanding service.
There's no spotlight or applause
and a few
with shallow hearts
tell her she is selling herself short
when she could do so much more...
What more is to be done than
creating a world of beauty and wonder
in a child's eyes?
She doesn't know,
but I watch her in amazement
as she invests all she is
in building a spirit
from the ground up
in partnership with God,
and I am grateful
that I recognize
a hero.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hey Paula, I Feel Sick

I am sorry to be posting about this again. I'm sure it is not even worth the ink--make that cyberspace--but I've got to get this off my chest. I promise this will be the last time, although I had my fingers crossed as I typed that. (A very difficult thing to do, by the way.)

Okay, my guilty pleasure of the last month or so has been watching "Hey Paula" which was accidental to begin with due to my avoidance issues that I have blogged about before. Anyway, what began as a guilty pleasure soon became a semi-scientific study of odd and narcissistic human behavior that makes me emotionally sick and grateful at the same time.

Here's why: It is sad to see an adult with the emotional maturity of a 15 year old. While she is busy lamenting that people "don't treat her like the gift she is," I pity her, and what I would really like to do is shake her and say, "You are destined to be miserable if you do not get with the program." Then I'd like to whisk her away from Tinseltown and train her how to live like a normal person. She can do her own packing ("Where are my sweatpants?!"), her own cooking ("I'm so hungry! M&M's..nah...I just need something to eat...No that doesn't look good. I'm starving! How dare you offer me that nasty gift basket!"), her own houscleaning (Maid, doggy pooped again! When you get that cleaned up, come here and I'll hug you."), her own decorating ("No painted bird cages in MY bedroom!!")...In short, she can learn to be responsible for her own little self, like normal grown up people do. I think this dose of reality would do a great deal to give her some empathy, some personal responsibility, and some much needed perspective. Who knows? She might end up learning to string complete sentences together. (Okay, that was downright catty! Sorry. But you have to admit that she don't talk too good, does she?)

Did you see when she stood her decorator up, never once met with her, turned the whole project over to someone else, and then turned her nose up (and I mean that literally) at the final product, a place, by the way, where most people would LOVE to live if only they could afford it? It totally came off was rude and spoiled. And this is only one example of many. I'm sorry to say this, but she deserved to trip over her dog. It's called karma. (Now, is that mean or simply an observation? I can't tell.)

Normal life-d people don't act like that as a general rule. They don't keep others waiting for hours. They take responsibility for their own choices. They don't depend on everyone else to cater to them and then throw a fit when their desired wishes aren't met by someone who can't read their mind. (Surprise!) Or if they do, they can't get away with it very long because they don't have enough cash to pay people to put up with their BS. You know, it's true what they say: Celebrities lives are not like ours, and for that I am truly grateful.

Ultimately, my final semi-scientific thesis is this: When life revolves around you, and you are surrounded by people who are not interested in telling you the truth, but rather sponging off of your success, life becomes very small, even when you are living big. Thank you, Lord, for my tiny, little tea party of a world. Frankly, I wouldn't trade places with a big life-d person for anything.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Now it is time for an ode to coming home. The things I have enjoyed the last few days are:

1. Mr. Wicke making Saturday breakfast. Yummy!
2. Tag-team parenting. (It isn't good to be alone; it isn't good.)
3. Sunday dinners with great friends.
4. Monsoons. (Although I'm waiting for a real good one.)
5. Mr. Wicke's face...and to be honest, chest. It IS something wonderful to behold.
6. The Closer episodes I taped.
7. Catching up with friends.
8. Watching Mr. Wicke play with the children.
9. Daddy backup at bedtime.
10. Sleeping in my own bed.

Ooh...that last one sounds good. Goodnight.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ode to Cowley

I always leave my hometown a bit nostalgic and sad. My roots there are deep and profound, and I am amazed how such a small and insignificant place has formed the blueprint of my character. That little town with its odd and delightful people is etched all over my values, my moral integrity, and soul. I love so many things about my childhood home, and yet, as my adult self, I'm conflicted about it, too. I know I wouldn't choose to live there now. It's too remote for me. I'd miss too many things to which I have grown accustomed. Yet, at the same time, it's one of the things that made growing up there special and unique. How can the longing for adventure and the longing for home both be satisfied? Of course they can not, which I have always known. But I suppose there is always a sadness in flying from the nest.

As an ode to Cowley, here is a list of some of the things I love most about it.

1. Laughter and storytelling are a tradition.
2. As the sun sets, it casts a glorious glow right down main street.
3. The simple goodness of most of its residents.
4. People's character traits are attributed to the family origin, as in "Oh, that's the Lewis in her."
5. Cowleyisms, such as "Dan Baird'n down the hill." (Don't worry. No one outside of Cowley will understand it.)
6. The nicknames of some of its older male residents. Gump, Tookie, Rud...Until recently I thought these were their given names.
7. The town is known for its musical ability.
8. Growing up there has made it impossible for me to be uppity about anything. Playing in open ditches, floating down the canal, dirt roads, and having one TV channel keeps things real.
9. People know you AND your family tree.
10. Being a part of a small town has given me a forever appreciation for the sense of community.

Thank you Cowley.