Tuesday, June 18, 2013


When I’m in my cow suit, I wave a lot. Heck, living in this same small city all my life, I wave a lot when not in a cow suit. On last weekend’s bike trek, we’d wave to support crews to let them know we were good. I was on the sidewalk at ISU today in the suit and cape waving as high school students arrived for a technical lesson given by the Cow-culator. Many passers-by honked and waved back. I waved to my chiropractor at a softball game last night. I waved to my college speech teacher while walking my dogs today. Lots of friendly waving.

I submitted a letter to the local editor today—at his request. It was an updated version of one I’d sent a couple weeks ago addressing an anti-discrimination ordinance in Pocatello. The ordinance was passed with modifications satisfying almost everyone in my court. The letter I submitted today feels like I’m waving my hands in distress. And I am. It also feels like I’m waving my hands in a way that will call attention to me and facets of myself that I’d prefer to keep private. Privacy is lost with this much waving, but if I don’t raise my hand, I won’t raise awareness.

A girl I played rugby with died last week. I sadly wave goodbye to her here. Her death is suspected to be a suicide. I’d run into her recently and exchanged a smile and a hello. My mind always turns to a worst-case-scenario, and I have wondered if issues at the heart of the ordinance stirred something in her. It may not have, but I will always wonder. And until I quit wondering, I have to keep waving.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Happy Heifers

This is my buddy Maryjane when she was eight years old and the first time she donned a cow suit.  We were raising money for an American Lung Association bike trek over the Sawtooths in Central Idaho with the team name C.A.L.F. –Cows Against Lung Failure. (Both of my parents died of lung disease, but that's a blog for another day.) MJ and I are udder-taking a 100 mile bike ride Saturday…In cow print, of course.

The enthusiastic, beaming calf still holds this same smile any time she’s with her bike. The entry fee for the century ride was her Christmas present. Next Christmas, I hope she gets me a massage gift certificate and some biofreeze gel because I will need them long after this feat.
I first met MJ when she was three. We grew up together. I was a grown-up(ish) person in her life who offered an occasional “wipe your mouth; brush your teeth; say ‘thank you.’”  It dawned on me today during our last ride before the big one, the “thank you’s” were likely less about manners than they were about simple gratitude. When we are grateful; we are happy. And really, isn’t that what you want for your kids? For them to be happy?

On our handful of rides since she’s come home from college she’s yelled the following while riding:

  • Look at the green! It’s gorgeous.
  • This jersey makes me smile!
  • I love my bike!
  • That hill was awesome! I feel great!  (On that one I almost told her to kiss my 40yr old tired rump roast, but I refrained.)
  • I love living here and I love my life!
  • Thank you for riding with me.

Thank you. Feeling it really is the key to happiness. I’ve been finding a gratitude and happiness in the outdoors and biking since I was MJ’s age, but it took me 40 years to really connect the two. She might already have it down.

I’m happy the kid still rides with me. I’m happy I can mostly still keep up with her. I’m happy she still loves to cow, and I’m happy we’re going to embark on this 100 miles together. And, on the next Cow Suit Saturday around noon, I’ll be thankful it’s over.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Fluff 'N' Udder

In New England, they have a sandwich called a “Fluffer Nutter.”It is peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. With my history of cow suits and never-ending puns, I’ve said it as Fluff ‘n’ Udder as soon as my pal Kerry introduced me to it. Now, as I introduce you to Kerry, she can be Fluff. I’ll be Udder.

In high school, I had two best friends. Our relationship mimicked more of something middle schoolish with sleep-overs,watching Pretty Woman and Ferris Bueller on repeat, incessant giggling, and inside jokes. Our trio was cracked when one of us went to college at the University of Idaho in Moscow while the other and I stayed in Pocatello to attend Idaho State.After a week into the semester, we missed our buddy miserably, so we road tripped to Moscow for Labor Day Weekend. That’s when I met Kerry. She was the college roommate of my high school comrade.

Kerry and I have never lived in the same town. She grew up near Boston and wound up at U of I when her dad took a job in Spokane, WA. She came to Pocatello for Thanksgiving the year we met, and she fit right in with the snow football, movies, board games and laughter of our trio. Whenever I’d call Moscow to chat with my high school friend, I’d end up talking to Kerry for an hour about nothing and everything.It was then that our Bromance was born.

“Bromance” is key here. We are not the pedicure-and-share a bottle of wine kind of gals. We were both tomboys, liked 4WD trucks, and rugby. We are both only children. That dynamic and the way we communicate are comparable to that of twins. We get each other. She’s a bit more type A than I am, and I admire her for that. Her handwriting is impeccable. The inside of her SUV is spotless and the creases in her dress shirts are a dead giveaway that she’s a dedicated member of law enforcement. I could brag about her career accomplishments, rank and assignments, but she understandably prefers to keep that off the internet.

Or, I should say…udder-standably. Because now, she’s a member of the herd. Her serious nature is what makes her willingness to cow with me so awesome. I wink and say that her willingness was more like a burning desire and a dream come true.

I found out only a month ago that I would be in New England for work. I haven’t seen Kerry for over six years and when we do get together, it usually involves months of vacation planning and coordination. Itineraries down to the minute. This was almost too spontaneous for our personalities, but luckily cow suits come with built in activities, so I had four of them shipped to her town and ready for pick-up.

We went to a local market to pose for pictures in front of the meat and milk display cases. Come on. It’s funny. We lucked out because there was an Oreo mascot giving away samples. You score scores of samples in cow suits. The manager also wanted his picture taken with us. He reminded me of a character from Happy Days and with his short-sleeve white dress shirt, tie and his Old Spice after shave.

After shopping, we ventured to a Dunkin Donuts. Kerry introduced me to them in 1998. It’s our thing, so we HAD to cow there. She was careful not to get donut crumbs on her cow suit. Of course she was. I imagine she wished she could have ironed it before putting it on.

After donuts, we went to Lowe’s for grout. She’s in the middle of a major home remodel, so the cowing diversion was great. This trek into the store may have been the most challenging for her because she’s been going in there a lot lately and people know her.It was probably her quickest trip in and out. I like to saunter in my cow suit; she was more of a sprinter.

We headed back to her house and were so lucky that her contractor was still there. He’s a pitbull-looking red-headed Italian with the thickest accent I’ve ever heard. (There aren’t many Italians in southeast Idaho.) He giggled and squealed when he saw us and told me I spoke too fast for him to understand when I tried to explain the suits. He was happy to pose with the cows, though. The suits and their humor are a universal language.

Kerry thought we were done cowing for the trip when we went candlepin bowling. It’s a New England thing and I am not good at it. The suits would have made it exponentially more fun. One of Kerry’s friends mentioned that her college-aged daughter was chaperoning a middle school Relay for Life event. As soon as the words left her mouth, Kerry and I had the only child/twin shared thought: “We were suiting up and heading to the Relay.”

The circumstances surrounding this event on that night were too opportune not to go. I became involved in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life about nine years ago. (I’ve got dozens of Relay blogs brewing for another day.) Kerry knows the history of our Cows for a Cure team and how we transitioned to calling ourselves Ryleigh’s Herd after our 15yr old Ryleigh Thomason succumbed to cancer.

Ryleigh would have turned 19 this week. The Relay was held at Kerry’s own former middle school. There was a break in the rain as we discussed logistics. There’s a big red barn there for crying out loud!

We suited up and took a few laps.I reflected on my many Relays in Pocatello and how, although I’m all the way across the country, these Relay for Life events bring many people together with something in common. There is joy in remembering, sadness in loss and hope for the future. I’ve shared all of those emotions with Kerry over our years in all of the facets of our lives.

So many of my Cow Suit Saturdays are a suite of serendipitous scenarios that align in perfect precision. This one with my bovine bromance was no exception.Kerry is one of my forever heifers.Until next time…may you always find milk for your Dunkin’ Donuts and may there be ample fluff in your… Ahem. Mooooving on….