03 June, 2013

Three months

That's apparently how long it takes me to make myself write a blog post.

Too long, I know, but even after a decade of doing this, I'm still not a comfortable blogger.

I have a rather mundane, quiet, non-eventful life, and that's just fine with me. It does, however, make blog topics tougher to root up, since I doubt anyone cares about folding laundry, yelling at the dog to quit barking his fool head off because some other dog has dared to pee in his yard, or cooking porkchops. Which we had for supper tonight, mostly because they were in the front part of the freezer and Bill loves porky chops.

I'd asked a few friends yesterday about potential blog topics, and have decided today to talk about where we live. In June of 2008, we moved from the 'Des Moines Metro' (which in our case meant unincorporated almost rural dead-end dirt road nowhere a few miles outside of Des Moines) to a small town in Northwest Iowa, because of Bill's job. He works for the post office and he used to fix the mechanical parts of the mail sorting machines (belts, hoses, chains, etc) but the move came with a promotion to fixing the electronic parts (wiring, computery bits, switches, etc) and a pretty hefty pay increase.

To say we 'jumped on that puppy' would be an understatement.

So, anyway, we moved up here, and bought a pretty cool Victorian house on a large lot near the middle of a very small town. We went from an acreage to 'in town', and it's something all of us still struggle with, but for different reasons. For Bill, there's Not. Enough. Outdoor. Space. and he feels kind of fenced in and claustrophobic even though we have one of the largest lots in town. For our daughter, who grew up 10 minutes from movies, shopping, restaurants, and countless buildings taller than 2 stories, it's 'too country'. For me, it's just about right, other than All. The. People. which I'll get to in a moment.

Plus there's no good barbeque up here. The closest is more than an hour away. Seriously, that bites.

Anyway, there are less than 600 people here in our little community and it's, roughly, seven streets running East/West crisscrossed by seven streets running North/South in a sort of cockeyed, jaggedy-edged fashion. I walk the outskirts most evenings around dusk, and, including walking from my house to the west edge, then back to the house again after making the complete circuit, Google Maps says it's a 2 mile trek. So it's less than 1/2 mile on a side. Ish. That's pretty small. We have the stereotypical one church and one bar (plus a gas station/convenience store that sells chips, pop, candy and a few non-perishable staples at slightly higher prices than the grocery store 10-12 miles away) a feed store, a grain co-op, a post office (only open a few hours a day), a fire station, and a very small library which doesn't carry my books. The town is bisected by a N/S highway (in Iowa that means 2 lane blacktop) and an E/W highway. The next closest town is about 8 miles straight East and they have a quilt shop. I'm there quite a lot. Between us and any of the surrounding towns are miles and miles of corn and soybean fields. Oh, there are a few farm houses and a stream or two (and the occasional grazing cow or horse) but it's pretty much all crops. This time of year, and after our lengthy and very wet spring, the fields are pretty much all mud. Normally, everything would be planted, but not this year. Not yet, at least. And there's worry there may be no soybean crop at all.

You get the idea.

Our house backs up to the largest of three city parks - no close by neighbors that way - but we had single, retired women on each side of us, until one of them moved to Western Arkansas last year. Or maybe it was Eastern Oklahoma. I honestly don't remember. The gal on the one side is still here, and she's very much into lawn work and has a GORGEOUS yard. Manicured lawn, flower beds, decorative do-dah's. It's just lovely. She has a little Westie named Mookie. Mookie is quite cool, but he and our Gozer (big, gruff lab mix) do not get along. She has a friend a couple of blocks away who picked apples from our tree the fall after we moved here and is super nice. The other single gal's house was put on the market last year and had a renter, then a contract buyer, but it just sold this past week. I think the new owner and his teenage daughter mowed yesterday. We all nodded hello, but didn't talk.

Across the street is a couple about our age with grown children and a lot of dogs. They both work and aren't home much. They're on a corner. Across that street from them is the Lions' Club secretary and his family (I think he works at a lab. I think). Beyond him, I have no idea. Next to the gal who has moved's house (and across our street from the Lion's Secretary) was an older guy and his adult daughter. I believe he was an over the road truck driver, and she came back home after a divorce/breakup/job loss, but no one's seen them for a long time so I guess they've moved. They had a couple of big mixed breed dogs.

It's weird, I know people by their dogs. lol

On the other side of the middle aged couple with all of the dogs is an elderly man (pretty sure he used to work for the grain co-op because the trucks always honk as they pass his house) and his middle aged daughter. She works at the community gas station. They don't have a dog. Past them on that side of the street... I don't know anyone, but I know their neighbors let their dogs loose to potty and of course they cross the street and come over here to pee on our maple tree and drive Gozer bugshit insane. They are friendly dogs, tho.

Past the lady beside us with the Westie and the gorgeous lawn is an older couple with 2 Daschunds. He is a semi-retired teacher, and I have no idea what she does. We've actually only talked to them because last summer he fell off a ladder and she knew I was home so she ran over here asking for help. That's how we met. Really. Otherwise I'd have no idea. Their dogs are cool though and every time we walk up the alley they rush at the fence, barking, and we laugh about the attack of the ferocious wiener dogs. They're not ferocious at all, just wiggly and waggly and barking. Very cute. Our cats like to tease them. The house past them (on the corner) has two old retriever mixes and a wire haired fox terrier looking mutt dog. And a gorgeous calico cat. Across the alley from them (toward the park behind our house) has a LOT of kids, a different calico cat, and a friendly mixed breed dog. Across the street from the folks with the retrievers and wire-haired mix is a younger family with two gorgeous Dalmatians. I dunno what he does, but she works at the lab and is on the city council.

On the far side of the park, at the corner, is the Lions club president and his family. He's the only one we've ever met. A block or so west of the park is the city maintenance guy and his family. His son just became and Eagle Scout. A couple of blocks north and one block west of us is the mayor's house. He and his wife have two daughters (they frequently come to our door selling stuff for church, school, girl scouts, etc) and they have great danes plus foster cats for the humane society.

Oh! Right next to the park (across the street from the big house with lots of kids and the friendly mixed breed dog) is the house with the camper and two Boston Terriers, both of which are sometimes loose and running the town and have tried to bite us as we take walks. We do not like the Boston Terriers much. Gozer chooses to pee on them instead of opening the can of whup-ass like he does with little Mookie next door. It's actually kind of funny in a twisted kind of way to see the PITA terriers frozen in fear and getting peed on. But Mookie does talk a lot of smack while the Boston Terriers are pretty much silent, so I guess it makes sense in doggy logic.

That's pretty much everyone we know, usually via their pets, other than the other city council members and a couple of firemen, who we know on sight, but have no idea where they live in town. Oh! I've spoken a couple of times with the local Pastor, who is an incredibly nice man, and there's a house across from the library who have cut a hole in their garage to help feed and shelter the local stray cats, plus the couple across from the fire station who make a point to keep cat food out for the strays (we do too) so we sort of but not really know a few cat people too. And the gal who babysits and brings the kids to the park behind our house. My granddaughter and I go over to play with them most mornings.

So we've lived her five years this month and know only a handful of people. Which, frankly, was just fine with me. I am incredibly introverted, but, um, well, I'm also political. And apparently personable or friendly or something. Because in March I was, sort of appointed to the City Council, much to my introversion's terror.

Two people had just left the council, one in retirement, one because of moving to follow a job, and the council needed two more members, pronto. I was approached by our city clerk (she lives in a town about 10 miles north of us) asking if I'd be interested in taking a seat until the elections this November. I agreed, mostly because I am rather political (I go to caucus, I vote, and I try to pay attention to issues) and because I feel that as a citizen, there are certain things that, when asked, are duties and responsibilities. So I said okay.

Five of us apparently said okay, because five of us showed up for the two open seats and the mayor decided to put our names in a hat (actually it was a coffee cup) and draw them. I was drawn first, then the other new councilman (who I think, but am not certain, owns the troublesome Boston Terriers).

Then, at Easter, the Lions Club had their annual Easter Egg Hunt and, with the candy, included a note explaining they were down to a scant few members and if they didn't get more members they'd have to disband. I'm pretty much pro Easter Egg Hunting, and Halloween Parties, and Christmas Parties and, well, generally Pro Kid Activities, so now Bill and I both are also Lions.

While I'm delighted to help, I'm not sure I like all of this Public Exposure stuff very much. Just this past week, I found myself in the middle of an issue between the local bar, fire department, and Lions simply because I agreed to do someone a favor.

Sigh. I do not like drama.

Anyway, I love our little town, it's the perfect size for me, but I'm not sure yet if I'll run for reelection this fall, or how long I will be a Lion. Guess it'll depend on how much socializing I can take. When I walk into the gas station for a pop and people there greet my arrival with 'Hey Tammy!', it's a bit much.

So we'll see.

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