Home: Restoring Hope Inside and Out

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

I am writing this post from the breakfast nook off the vintage kitchen of my new old house in Cody, in the northwest corner of Wyoming. Late-afternoon sun pours in through windows that are gray with at least a decade of grime, but no matter.

Through the door to the living/dining room I can see the shine return to the red-oak floors as they dry from their final coat of Bona Floor Rejuvenate. I have my feet up on one of only four chairs in my house, taking a break from the hard and long work of restoring this very neglected house. 

(Until the moving van arrives, my furniture consists of four vintage maple chairs and a matching table, all of which need refinishing; my Thermarest camping mattress and sleeping bag, which are surprisingly comfortable; plus a couple of packing boxes for side tables.)

My bedroom, in serious need of a new coat of paint and some furniture, but there's art on the walls. (That's a broadside by prinkmater Karla Elling of a quote from Terry Tempest Williams that begins, "I pray to the birds....")

When I look over my shoulder at the kitchen, I can't help but smile. The sunshine yellow steel cabinets, aqua wall oven and copper range hood, all circa 1956, the year the house was built and I was born, are gleaming again, thanks to Susie and Natalia, the cleaning elves who came to help me on Friday.

While I worked on hands and knees with a rag, paint scraper and bucket after bucket of Murphy oil soap and hot water, scrubbing years of grime and splatters off the floors, they carefully cleaned and buffed the kitchen, coaxing back its shine. And what a shine it has! I swear I can feel the house exhaling, happy to be tended again. 

I even scrubbed the tile floor in my new office, preparing it for the arrival of my file cabinets and boxes and boxes of books.

Out in the garage, my contractor, Jeff Durham, has worked magic with a structure that was only partly finished, and that badly. Jeff stripped crumbling drywall, replaced the non-fireproof door to the house, took out a dinosaur of an inoperable gas heater, and carefully rebuilt a cozy space for Red to live.

Red, snug in the garage this evening

Yesterday, I mopped the garage floor so there would be a clean place for the movers to put boxes and bins when the big truck arrives on Tuesday. Then I put the first coat of Bona on the floors, and while it was drying, I took a break and walked up the hill to the Post Office to collect my mail, and then back downtown to join the Cody Women's Rally at City Park. 

Left to right: Spirit and Rattlesnake mountains and Red Butte, from my incredibly scenic walk to the Post Office. 

I wasn't sure to expect at the Rally--Wyoming is a Republican state, and we just elected Liz Cheney (the not-good daughter of that Cheney) as our second US Senator. By the time I got to the park, a rowdy but good-natured crowd of over 450 people had gathered, young to old, many sporting pink pussy caps and carrying signs.

My favorite sign from the rally, both for the design and the message: "A woman's place is in the resistance." 

I stood in warm sunshine with friends Connie and Jay Moody while we listened to speakers reminding us of the value of women's rights, immigrant rights, access to healthcare, and combating global climate change. Between cheering the speakers, Connie and Jay introduced me to their many friends.

My favorite part of the rally was a small moment, one that speaks volumes about the labels and stereotypes we allow to divide us. City Park is right in the center of Cody, fronting the main highway through town. As traffic passed, some drivers cheered the crowd, some yelled insults. I looked up as a semi hauling a load of logs thundered slowly along. 

The young male driver honked, pumped his fists, and then rolled down his window. I thought, "Uh oh!" Then he yelled, "I'm with you!" The crowd cheered. The driver honked his air horn again, a huge smile lighting his face, and drove on.  

On the political maps, Wyoming is marked as a Red State. That doesn't mean that this is a bad place full of hateful people. Our world is more complicated than that. What really matters is not the labels or the divisive politics, it's how we treat each other, the quality of the communities we grow, and how we work together in positive ways to nurture each other, our planet, and its web of lives.

This country is a democracy, not a monarchy. It is up to each of us to take part and set the tone for the America we believe in; the collective impact of our lives and actions is what makes this country great, not the loudest or most hateful voice. 

We can't let the fear and bullying take away our power to do good and be compassionate every single day. We all need to stand up, raise our voices, and be involved in positive ways, wherever we are.

As the log-truck driver reminded me, it's who we are inside that matters, not the labels and stereotypes we apply. There are good, caring, compassionate people everywhere. Let's work together to be the America we all believe in. 

Blessings to you all from the blue-dusk sunset in my snowy Wyoming neighborhood.