Thursday, December 5, 2013

Greetings from the Deep Freeze

It's cold here in Northeast Wyoming. We woke up to a temperature of -17°F this morning, and it soon dropped to -18°. Is it the first time it's been this cold? No, and it won't be the last. Is it the coldest it's ever been? No, thank goodness!

But it is sooooo cold here, and supposed to get even colder tonight, that I have been having some silly thoughts about our frigid weather today. Who knows...maybe laughing about the cold will generate a little heat??? Ok, maybe not, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. The maniacal giggling has nothing to do with the fact that my brain may have too many frozen cells to function properly at the moment!

The following (bad) jokes are mine. The cartoons are not. They're borrowed from Google Images.

Picture this: I drive to Al Gore's mansion and pull up to the speaker at the security gate at the bottom of the driveway...

Voice from the Speaker: May I help you?

Me: Yes. I'd like 2 extra large orders of global warming, with a side of unseasonably warm temperatures.

What do I get when I have to take our dogs outside to potty in sub-zero weather? Pupsicles!

A delegation of climate experts, Al Gore and Obama were scheduled to travel to Wyoming and meet with state leaders about our coal, gas and oil being used world-wide and increasing global warming. The delegation cancelled the trip because it was too cold.

Ahahahahahaha! Ok, now it's time for some hot cocoa. Hopefully wherever you are, you are warm!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Political Cartoons

These are some political cartoons I've enjoyed. I especially like how political cartoons cut to the chase. I know politics can be dangerous territory as far as discussing with others goes, but sometimes it's good to laugh at the things that are frustrating, and there's been plenty to be frustrated with. I'm not looking to get into a war with anyone having a differing opinion from mine. If you disagree, it's ok, you don't have to look at these. Otherwise I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm a Proud Grandma: Meet Shelly!

Yes, I am a grandmother!

My daughter, Megan, came home from school this past Thursday with a baby girl. Megan named her Shelly, and she is a delight.

I had the joy of babysitting little Shelly while Megan was at school on Friday. I don't know how Megan got so lucky, but Shelly is the easiest baby I've ever cared for. I'm well acquainted with babies; through years of babysitting, working in the church nursery, and then having my own child, I've taken care of A LOT of babies. And one thing is for sure; Shelly is a very special baby.

Would you like to meet her?

Here she is!

Megan with her baby, Shelly.

Doesn't Shelly look happy and content, all snuggled up?

Look at the sweet outfit Megan made for little Shelly.

Getting some of that important tummy time.

All bundled up and in the car seat, ready to go to school with her mama.

I got busy with my grandmotherly duties and crocheted the little baby blanket for Shelly. I was going to make matching booties as well, but...Shelly doesn't have any feet.

Megan is taking a child development class this semester, and her assignment was to care for her baby for the next five days. The teacher had the class draw out of hats to determine gender, single birth or multiples, even some of the babies had certain illnesses or birth defects. Once the students found out all the details about their baby or babies, there was no trading allowed; it was the luck of the draw, just like in real life. Shelly turned out to be a healthy baby girl. Then the students had to name, decorate and dress their babies, and had all kinds of craft supplies to use. I think Shelly must be the cutest baby in the entire class. No, of course I'm not biased toward my grandchild at all!

The boys in the class were not thrilled with this assignment.

Some schools have those electronic dolls that cry, pee, have to be fed, etc., like real babies. I'm so glad our school doesn't have those! I think when I was in high school, the students in that class had to carry around a sack of flour for their babies. Megan's teacher uses raw eggs, which is a good idea also. Break your baby, and fail the assignment.

Shelly went to school with Megan this morning. The assignment is over after today's class. Not wanting to part from her baby, Megan has plans to keep Shelly always. She will blow out the insides of the egg, and hopefully with care, Shelly will be with us for years to come as a fun reminder of the past few days.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sweet Pea

This is what Sweet Pea, our first chihuahua, does a lot of the time. Adorable, isn't she? The smallest of our chihuahuas, it's easy to see why we named her Sweet Pea. She was barely bigger than a hamster when we brought her home. Awwww!

Hold on! Not so fast! This is what happens if you try to pick her up out of her bed for any reason. Cuddle, trip outside, or just walk anywhere within a 10 foot radius of her bed, and Sweet Pea turns into this...

She has sharp little pearly whites, and she knows how to use them! We have all been bitten by Sweet Pea, in fact, she got my left index finger just yesterday. OUCH! She does not go outside for potty breaks willingly, so we take our lives into our hands several times a day. We have ways to get her grabbed up without letting her get those chompers into us, but sometimes the best laid plans don't quite work.

There are plenty of times every day that she comes out of her bed and wants to be held and cuddled, and she's perfectly sweet, but it has to be her idea. Otherwise, look out!

Even with all of her grumpiness, we love our tiny tyrant.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Superior Weekend!

Saturday, we traveled to Casper, WY for the 2013 State Marching Band Festival. Megan has been working very hard with the rest of her school's marching band for the last few months on their show for this year. It's a very complicated program, but they went into the competition on Saturday evening confident that they were going to be successful.

Our band is sharp! Always the first band on their feet at attention when another band was taking or leaving the field, they showed utmost respect.

At attention as another band takes the field for their performance.

Our band was the 5th out of 17 bands to perform. Their show consisted of three movements from "The Planets";   "Mars," "Venus" and "Jupiter" by Gustav Holst. This music was written in 1912, but didn't feel old fashioned at all. A very lively show, the band is moving all the time. Many of the other bands would do some moving around, then stop and stand for awhile, then move again. Our band was in constant motion, which makes for a more entertaining show, but also makes it difficult to get non-blurry photos! I did my best, but dearly wish some of the pictures would have been more clear.

They had so much going on that I really can't believe nobody crashed into anyone else. They were amazing! At this point in the show, there wasn't a lot for the percussionists to do, so they performed a flagline instead of a drumline for a bit.

Megan looks like she's holding still, but she was actually marching forward here.

Finishing up one of the movements.

At attention between movements.
Megan and cousin, Steven.

After they performed, they were excited and knew they'd done a great job. Anxious to find out how they scored, they had a long four hours to wait until the awards ceremony.

After all the high school bands performed, the University of Wyoming Western Thunder took the field and performed. They were crazy awesome, and so inspiring to the high school band kids! The first time Megan saw UW perform was her first year in marching band as a freshman. She knew right away that she wanted to be a member of UW's marching band when she goes to college. Now a junior in high school, Megan is more passionate than ever about this dream.

This marching festival is sort of a family event. Cousin, Steffy, is a member of Western Thunder, and is the middle clarinet in this photo. Cousin, Steven, is Steffy's younger brother, and is a member of the high school band. It's a fun reunion when Megan, Steffy and Steven are all together for the marching festival.

Finally, after over 5 hours of marching performances, it was time for the awards ceremony. All 17 of the high school bands came down to the field and stood at attention, waiting to hear how they scored. They don't compete against each other, so there is no 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. ranking. Their scores are based on performance of music and their marching. They are rated as Good, Excellent, and Superior. Every band is striving for that coveted Superior rating. It's been several years since our band has gotten that rating. For the last few years, they've gotten the Excellent rating, and this year they were determined to bring home Superior for the first time since 2009.

Waiting for the scores to be announced.

Congratulations to Megan and her entire band; they got their Superior rating! There are also some awards, called captions, for different sections and aspects of the marching program. Our band was also awarded the brass caption. Megan was especially excited about this, being a member of the brass section!

In all, there were 7 bands given the Superior rating. It was a great  night and so much fun! I loved seeing all of the bands perform. They all had a great time, and it's quite entertaining to be in a building with hundreds of enthusiastic teenagers.

Megan is already talking about, and looking forward to, next year's marching season!

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Love a Parade

Yesterday was the high school's homecoming parade. It was cold, windy, and occasionally spitting a snowflake here and there, but I couldn't miss seeing Megan marching with the band and playing her trumpet.

Mom and I went downtown about 40 minutes early so we could get a place to park right on the parade route. We stayed in the car and out of the cold until the parade got to us. I give all the band members a lot of credit for being able to march and play their instruments in that cold wind, and not only play, but play well. They sounded great! The tune we heard them play was "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas.

Photo taken by my mom. Thanks for sharing, Mom!

This is Megan's third year in marching band, and the trumpet is the third instrument she's played during marching season. She has played on the drumline in the past and really loved it, but she's also really loving the trumpet. So, the question is, will she stay with trumpet for marching season next year (her senior year!), or will she go back to drumline? Stay tuned! Haha, stay tuned...see what I did there? Band...tuned... :o)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday; Ladies Day!

Yesterday my family had a ladies only party! There were aunts and cousins ranging in age from great-grandma to toddler; eight of us in all. The party took place at my Auntie Grace's house. There were lots of photos taken, and already three blogs have been written about the day. Since I didn't take any photos, you can click herehere, and here to see lots of pictures and read about all of the fun.

I really enjoyed getting to read stories to my littlest cousins. They live a couple of hours away, and their visits are about the only chance I get to read to little kids anymore, so I arrived armed with books. I love the excuse to get my favorites out and jump into the stories I've loved since I was a child. There is nothing better than sharing a story with a snuggled up kiddo.

As always, Ladies Day ended all too soon, and I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Better Late Than Never...

This is old news now, but we had an epic storm last week. I am late to the party, but it is better to be late than never. My cousins and my mom have already written about the storm that covered much of Wyoming and South Dakota. It is heartbreaking to lose so many trees. They are valuable to us, since we have to work so hard to get them to grow and thrive here. The loss of livestock is also terrible, with thousands of cattle and horses killed in the storm. I'm sure there were wild animals lost as well. So much devastation.

We had 17-18 inches of snow and stiff winds, but worst of all were all the downed trees. The leaves had just barely started to turn on a few trees, but most were still green. Too much snow and too much wind means lots and lots of broken branches. One tree in our neighborhood has not one single branch left! It was a mature tree, at least 30 years old. Now it is a 20 foot tall stump.

Thankfully, Chad had done a major trimming of the cottonwood tree behind our back fence in May. Check out some photos of that project here. He was concerned we'd get a snowstorm like the one we just did, and he was worried about branches taking out the neighbors' fences as well as damaging our property. We had a storm in  early October, 2009 that left about 6 inches of snow, and limbs from our tree took out our power and cable lines. Chad wanted to try and stop a repeat performance. It didn't quite stop all the limbs from coming down this time, but I'm sure the damage would have been much more extensive had he not had the foresight to get the tree trimming done.

I heard the first crash at 4:00 a.m. on Friday, October 4th. I got up and looked outside, groaned when I saw about 8-10 inches of snow on the ground, and that our neighbor's tree had just lost some large limbs. I also saw that our lines were covered with a lot of snow and sagging, so I was putting my coat and shoes on to go clean them off. I didn't even get to the door when there was a very loud crash and the entire house shook.

This is why:

See how hard it's snowing? Usually when I take pictures while it's snowing, the flakes barely show up. Here they just look like a lot of white streaks.

I have no idea how that branch managed to get hung up there and didn't bring the power lines down. It did bring our cable down, so no land line phone or internet for us, and pulled the line down that powers the streetlight in front of the house. A very long branch, it was dangling clear over the neighbor's fence, and a piece of it snagged on their cable line. Chad had to get out the chainsaw to remove this limb, and others around the neighborhood were already running theirs. It was a very rude and early morning for a lot of people!

While we were clearing that branch, another was sagging onto the main electrical line. It began to arc, and soon there were a lot of sparks and some flames. Fortunately, the city electrical crew was already in our alley working on another downed line, so they came over and cut down the burning branch.

Not exactly in focus, but you can see the bright flames with the power line running underneath.

Right after the crew took care of our burning limb, there was a crack, crash, bright flash, and very loud bang as a limb came down right on the transformer next door. And we were without power for rest of the day.

It was a long, cold day, with many, many more branches coming down all over town. As we got out to start cleaning up the next day, Megan said it best: "Who dropped the nuke?" It looked exactly like a bomb had gone off.

So, here are some pictures from around our yard and neighborhood on Saturday, October 5th.

Our windmill.

Neighbor's spruce tree.

Megan making a "snow starfish" in the front yard.

Limbs exactly as they fell in a neighbor's yard.

A bird landed in the deep snow of the front yard and left cool impressions. From the size of the marks, I think it must have been a dove.

Megan's snow angel in the back yard.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Spies Among Us

Ever have that feeling, that prickling down your spine, that you were being watched?

I had that feeling recently. I was in the back yard, minding my own business, and I just had the sense that I was being stalked. Not wanting to seem obvious that I was feeling creeped out, I tried to look casual as I whistled a nervous little tune and took a look around. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary, but I knew there were eyes on me. I took a couple of slow steps back toward the house, then stopped and pretended to be absorbed by looking at some potted flowers. I was listening for any sound, any movement, that would give away the location of the spy. I heard the breeze rustling leaves in the tree above me, but oddly enough, no chirping birds. They were quiet, as if they knew something was amiss.

Just as I was about to make a run for it and lock myself safely in the garage, I heard a sound, a signaling, and instantly knew my stalker. Or should I say stalkers. When I knew where to look, there were two of them.

Fortunately, I was able to snap a couple of pictures. They tried to look casual and non-stalkerish, but the jig was up and I was on to their tricks. Having heard their signal, I know they are working as a team and sharing information, so I will be careful to try and thwart their plans to take over the world.

Willow, our siamese cat.

Simba, the next-door neighbor's siamese cat. Notice how she's trying to act like she's not watching my every move.

I shudder when I think of the danger I wouldn't even know surrounded me had I not heard the meow, the signal between these kitties. Sure, they look purrrr-fectly harmless, but shortly after this incident, I intercepted a piece intel, so I know I'm not just imagining things. I am sharing this intel in an effort to save lives. If you have feline operatives in your own home or neighborhood, keep their strategies in mind, and keep yourself and your children safe!

Hehe, have a good day!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Difference a Couple of Days Makes

Here in Wyoming, we have seasonal yo-yo action in spring and autumn. Our weather goes completely crazy, like mother nature has multiple personality disorder or something. One day we're wearing shorts and t-shirts with the A/C running. Then within a matter of a day or two, we're bundled up and running the furnace, only to swing back the other way and warm up again in another day or two. While we are accustomed to all kinds of wild and wacky weather in Wyoming, the autumn yo-yo is in full force a bit earlier than usual this year.

This was happening on Friday, September 27:

It snowed all day. We ended up with about five inches of snow, and had a high temperature of 35°F. The trees are still in full leaf and could not take the weight of that heavy, wet snow. There were very large limbs brought down all over town, and that is a heartbreaking sight to see in an area where trees are carefully nurtured to get them to survive. Trees do not naturally grow here on their own.

This maple tree is across the street from my house, but there were scenes like this all over town.

Fast forward a couple of days. This was happening on Monday, September 30:

Most of my flowers survived the insult of being buried under snow, just being a little bit flattened here and there, and are still blooming. I started out the day wearing bluejeans, but got too warm and changed into shorts. The sun was intense, and felt downright hot, even though the temperature only reached the upper 70°s F.

Today is much cooler than yesterday. Already the temperature is on its way down, and we are forecast to have more cold and snow by the end of the week. Welcome to the autumn yo-yo!

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Boy and His Bicycle

My husband, Chad, took up running about three years ago, but that came to a screeching halt almost exactly one year ago.  On one of his regular evening runs, there was an accident, and Chad's knee was wrecked.  Surgery was done, and the doctor was optimistic that the knee would be good as new. wasn't, and Chad's running was over.

So, this past spring, he decided to take up bicycling and purchased a bike. It's sort of a hybrid mountain bike that's good for riding pretty much anywhere, which is exactly what he needed. Off he went on his rides, and he loved it so much, that he set some pretty tough goals for himself.

Goal #1: Ride 1,000 miles before the end of the summer. Check! That was accomplished by mid August.

This is the decal Megan designed and Chad had made when he hit 1,000 miles.

Goal #2: Ride the old highway to Buffalo. That's 96 miles, and has some pretty good hills. Check! He did that twice in June. Once by himself, and once with a friend that also wanted to make that ride.

Resting at the end of the ride to Buffalo. He was one tired guy!

Goal #3: Ride from his parents' house at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, to the summit of Powder River Pass. It's only about 30 miles from bottom to top, but it's nearly a 5,000 foot rise in elevation, with the first few miles being at a 7% grade (that's really steep!), and the last few at 4% grade (also nothing to sneeze at), with lots of big ups and downs in between. Crazy? Yep, but he was determined. He'd gotten to discussing this goal with brother-in-law, Jesús Rios, and they hatched a plot to try this together. Jesús was just getting into cycling, and figured he wouldn't be able to make the whole ride, but he wanted to give it a try. Plans were made and the date was set.

At 9:30 on the morning of September 7th, The guys took off on their adventure.

I had the very important job of being the "Support Crew". In other words, I had the car, which was loaded with supplies; first aid kit, extra water and gatorade, energy bars, and some sandwiches and chips for lunch. Making this more interesting, cell service ends just a very few miles up the road, so they wouldn't be able to call for help. I checked on them every so often, making sure they had everything they needed. Fortunately all that was really needed were gatorade refills and a tool to tighten a loose seat.

After about two hours and nine miles, Jesús decided to turn around and head back down. It was quite an accomplishment for him to make it that far considering he really hadn't trained at all, and he'd ridden the steepest miles of the entire route. So down he went. What had taken two hours to ride up, only took ten minutes to ride down!

Chad pedaled on, and when it was time for a lunch break, we stopped at a turnout along the highway, and had a little picnic. The only critters around were a couple of squirrels and a few cattle. One calf was watching us intently. I think he wanted a bite of sandwich. It was a pretty area, and high enough in elevation that the aspen leaves were already turning.

After lunch, Chad had about seven more miles to the top. But it was all uphill at a 4% grade, so we knew it would be slow going. I drove on ahead to the summit, where I read for a little while, then decided to climb up to the top of the hill above the parking lot. From there, I would be able to see Chad coming up the road. While I watched and waited, I explored some pretty neat rock formations, enjoyed watching clouds form, join, and then get blown apart by the strong winds aloft. It was sunny and perfect for hanging around at the top of a mountain.

Soon after I took this picture, the entire top of that cloud was sheared off and completely gone.

Finally, at 2:10 p.m., Chad made it to the top! He was a little tired, but feeling good. We snapped his picture at the summit sign, loaded up the bike, and headed back down. But after the hard work of riding up all day, Chad wanted to have some fun going back down. There is a brake check area just above where the 7% grade begins, so I dropped him off there, and he rode down those last, very fast, miles.

Check! Ride to the top of the mountain accomplished!