I gratefully grabbed the empty parking space facing down the steep hill, curving my tires into the curb. I’d need that hill to bump start the ‘56 Pontiac. It ran okay, but it had a cracked block so that whenever I had to stop at a light, I had to throw it into neutral and gun the engine so it wouldn’t stall. I needed that downhill parking spot to pop the clutch. So far, that had worked. I was heading for the consignment store, Clever Threads, where they’d show my home-sewn clothing and hopefully sell it. I had made a flowing sky blue skirt with many layers and a deeper blue and black vest (the colors of deep dusk) to match. Maybe it would catch someone’s eye. I could use a little money.
Thanks goodness spring had arrived in Wisconsin. I was exhausted from the chores of making wood to heat the house and heat water. It wasn’t just that; I was pregnant. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time—I’d decided I wanted to be a lady with babies, and Billy and I had been together over two years. But he was traveling with the band a lot, of which I was no longer a member, and I was alone more than half the time.
We’d rented an old farm house and traded our old pickup for two baby calves. But now I had to mix formula for them twice a day in a five-gallon paint bucket and hold my fingers underneath the surface so the calves would get the idea of sucking and then be able to drink on their own. Problem was, I was scared of the barn. There were spiders in there, maybe mice or other bad things. And the calves were two more animals that pooped and pee-ed wherever and whenever they wanted, trusting me to keep things cleaned up. Their noses were always wet, and they seemed to enjoy wiping them on my jeans leg, leaving wet stains. They were not sweet old pets, but colossally dumb and needy baby cows.
As I climbed the hill back to my car, I decided to trade them for something else. I was going to need a washing machine.