Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The (Eastside) Road

If you've read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," you'll recall that it is about a father and son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world and find "the good guys," all the while pushing a shopping cart full of their belongings. If you haven't read it, thank you for choosing my blog over, quite possibly, America's greatest writer.

We're reading it for class right now, so it's on my mind. The book says a lot about a father's love, cannibalism, and the best way to carry all your stuff in a cart. The familial love part is nice and meaningful, but Dylan, probably by listening to me yammer on about the novel, has learned how to fit her belongings not in a cumbersome shopping cart with a wonky wheel, but in her arms. She'd kick ass in post-apocalyptic America. Or in a McCarthy novel.

Trips in the car, walks around the yard, even moving from one room to another, all require a transfer of supplies that resemble a US military exit strategy. We call it "Operation Toy Grab." A ride in the truck requires, minimum, one pacifier (mi-mi), one small blanket (night-night), and often a book, pencil, small Diego toy, Diego's puma, and anything that resembles a kitty. Around the house, Dylan usually packs a small piano, her Leap Frog caterpillar, a recorder, and anything else that will fit into her arms.

Regina's started calling her the Bag Lady. I'd call her something from "The Road," but none of the characters are named. Dylan's greatest achievement in supply-carrying comes at bedtime. To sleep properly, we must have mi-mi, night-night, a stuffed cat she got in a trade with Malcolm, a dolly, Hello Kitty pillow, and in the tight grip of her hands, a Baby Barbie and a Hello Kitty ring. It's exhausting to even remember what she needs, but if I've forgotten just one item, I can't get to to the door without her calling out, "Daddy. Ring? Ring?"

Oh sure, you're wondering why we allow it, right? Or are you still wondering if we read Cormac McCarthy novels to Dylan before bedtime? We don't, yet. And to answer the first question, we've tried to "forget" some of her swag on road trips, and the hell unleashed from the back seat made us turn around for whatever trinket we'd left behind.

I hate pushing Dylan into growing up too quickly, but I won't miss having to run a mental checklist of everything required to travel/sleep/walk. I've gotten so good at remembering exactly what situation requires which toy that I usually forget A) my necessities (wallet), or B) Dylan's real necessities (diapers). And heck, when she's just a little taller I'm going down to the WalMart parking lot and swiping her a real cart of her own.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Little Dylan the Wrangler

Last week, Regina and I went to a wine tasting party. I learned that I am very good at tasting lots of wines, yet horrible at determining the difference between, say, two-buck chuck and the host's wedding wine.

I also learned that I wrangle. Granted, I live on a ranch (wranch?), I wear Wranglers, and I know the words to the old western song, "Little Joe the Wrangler," but I'd always reserved the terms "wrangler" (as an occupation) and "wrangle" (as a verb) for summer-camps and dude ranches. But then I had this conversation with a wined-up party-goer:
SHE: What do you do?
ME: I'm a rancher.
SHE: Oh my God!
ME: (flinching) Yep.
SHE: What time do you wrangle?
ME: (confused) Um. Five?
SHE: Can I help wrangle? I'm .. blah ... horses ... wrangle ... blah ... horse ... blah ...
ME: Yep. We can wrangle.
REGINA: Stop calling it that!

A couple of weeks ago, Dylan and I did a little wrangling. A couple of weeks ago, I just called it "moving cattle," or, "a cattle drive," but now I have a cool word for it.

Dylan was, to my relief and joy, very excited about getting on a horse. She's only sat on a few of the older "kids'-horses" (okay, and a horse no one had yet ridden, but he is very gentle. I swear.), so when I put her on my saddle-horse and we took off after the cattle, I expected shrieks of terror and a quick return to mommy. Instead, she laughed at the uncomfortable trotting and yelled at the cows. "Move! Cow!"

I was impressed. Once the cows lined out and slowed down a little, and we no longer needed Sparky, my horse, to trot, bite, or push, Dylan finally got bored and wanted down. I thought about giving her the "cowgirls don't quit on the herd," lecture, but I thought better. Besides, Dylan had made it nearly three miles, sitting or bouncing on a saddle horn. I'd have called it quits long before that. The pain in her butt couldn't compare to her sheer unbridled (mind the pun) joy.

So now I have these two things: a daughter who loves horses and my very own little wrangler. I need to go to more wine tasting parties. It's amazing what I learn.