The Miss USA pageant was on last weekend. I only know this because I saw a photo prompt on a news website the day before the pageant was to air. I didn’t watch. I haven’t watched any of the televised beauty parades for decades. There are probably many good reasons for not buying into the beauty pageant scene, but the real reason that I stopped watching was that the great state of Wyoming NEVER won. (I stopped watching before the one and only runner up ever occurred.) OK, so Wyoming did have one “Junior Miss” winner, but in the long list of women who held title to any of the notable pageants the states at the end of the alphabet (WV and WY) contain goose-eggs next to their names.

I speculated for a while on why and came up with the following possibilities:

1)      West Virginia and Wyoming state names occur so far down in the alphabet that by the time the judges actually get to see a contestant from these states they are so burned out and bleary-eyed they would not be able to discern whether the figure standing before them was even female. I can hear the judges’ conversation, Judge1 to Judge2 “What is that melody? It really reminds me of a buzz saw.” Judge2, “The contestant is not singing; Judge3 has fallen asleep.” The end-of-alphabet excuse fell through on further research when I found that other W states have had success in at least one pageant.

2)      Young women vying for a beauty title are limited by the top talent in both states, hunting prowess. I have never heard of a Miss Beautiful winner who was able to pursue a deer (or antelope or elk or moose) aptly shoot it down, field dress the animal and tote it back to the admiring crowd in New Jersey (or other venue). However, this is a talent that will hook up the lovely field-roaming lady with her knight in shining camo in either state. I actually overheard this to be true from two young men who worked in my office. Real Guy 1, “I’m in love.” Real Guy 2, “No way, where did you find her?” RG1, “I was on the mountain huntin’ on Saturday and heard a shot nearby; when I looked over the ridge, there she was, blonde hair in a pony-tail field dressing her elk. Man that girl looks good in orange.” RG2, “You’re SO lucky.”

All of this is really of no serious consequence in the spinning of the earth, but it did give me pause. I’m sure that there are many bright, beautiful, talented young women in both states that are serious contenders for the title, but when they come home they will still need to know how to hunt and chop wood in order to survive the winter.

The ‘Never’ List

  1. Have paper napkins at a picnic.
  2. Forget to water the lawn.
  3. Cut down mature trees.
  4. Stay up late to watch hockey.
  5. Need golf shoes.

Everyone probably has a short list of things that they really never imagined that they would do. When asked, the response would be, “No, I never really considered that.” The list above shows some of mine. All of which would still be on the ‘never’ list if we had not moved east of the Mississippi.

Being born and raised in Wyoming, my husband and I were of the notion that you 1) could not have a picnic without your plate (food and all) blowing into Nebraska; 2) need to water your grass daily; 3) plant a tree so that your great-grandchildren could finally climb its 20-foot majesty; 4) hunted. What’s hockey? Golf was only enjoyable for a window of six to eight weeks – tops.

Wyoming was home from the eastern plains where we both were born to the western high desert foothills. The enormous clear blue sky against the soft light olive color of the dry sagebrush provided the backdrop for our deep root growth in western Wyoming. We raised most of our family outside of the little town of Kemmerer in a home that we spent all of our time renovating. So our hearts and minds were firmly grounded in the west – or so we thought.

Moving eastward was going to the state line or (heaven forbid) eastern Colorado. The notion of relocation beyond those bounds only came briefly as I search advancement potential in my federal job. “What about Washington?” I queried my unsuspecting spouse.

“Huh?” his reply.


“Seattle? Too rainy.”

“No, D.C.”

“You have fun,” which was his response to places where he absolutely did not want to go. So when the door opened on advancement for his career and it took us beyond the imaginary geographical limits to the mysterious Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. we were into one more of the items on our ‘never’ list.

Sixteen years of growth in one place is difficult to uproot. Letting loose of the life-garden cultivated in that place creates a huge hole; the friendships, career, house, landscapes, and community left behind opens up an emptiness that is difficult to describe. (Or is it really a clean slate?)

Finding our home in West Virginia, we start to fill the hole again. Slowly, we’re learning the norms of the neighborhood, the cycles of the weather, and our vocation in this new place. – New item for the ‘never’ list: start a blog.