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Archive for September, 2011

Wa-Hooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ve just returned from a great weekend in the vacation hotspot of Huron, SD – the Pheasant Capital of the World. 

OK, You’ve probably never thought to intentionally vacation there but if you are a quilter from the state of South Dakota you know there is no place better to be – especially in mid April and mid September.  Those are the times that the SD State Quilt Guild gets together for 2 days of quilts, beautiful fabric, classes, glittery fabric, quilting tools, satiny smooth fabric, threads, decadent fabric, quilt patterns and did I mention quilting fabric?  Of course I was going to be good and not purchase everything in sight like a crazy woman but that lasted about 3 minutes before I whipped out the credit card and yelled “Charge IT!!!” at the top of my lungs.  It was scary.  But I did have a blast and it was soooo cool that I reconnected with several quilting friends even though I hadn’t been to one of these events in quite a few years.  So I guess I must have been either a fantastic quilter or a total nitwit for so many of them to remember me.  (My money is on the total nitwit.)

Either way here are some photos to inspire.

 I LOVED this one!

And this one!

And this red and white Snail’s Trail quilt…   what can I say?

And when I saw this one I immediately ran to the vendors waving my credit card high over my head and bought every bright, sunny, yellow fabric I could find.  I have to make one of these for our bed.

And I want to make all of these…

And one of each of these…

Oh where to start?????

And as if that wasn’t bad enough – Saturday night there was a trunk show – where one quilter shows and tells all about her quilts.  This year it was Yvonne Hollenbeck, an award-winning quilter and Cowgirl poet who has more talent in her little finger than 1000 quilters and also a killer sense of humor.  I love this lady!  She spoke about the quilts that were made by her Great Grandmother, Grandmother, Mother and Aunties. 

The quilts were stunning and the stories truly touching.

Its been about 7 years since I have done any real quilting and all it took was one trip to the state guild to make me totally ‘fall off the wagon’.   Yep, it’s time to finish up my quilting room.  I will take time to play.  I will make beautiful quilts for every bed in the house.  And I will attend every quilt event and fabric store within a 500 mile radius.

Look out quilt world – I”m back!!!

 

 

 

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At the tail end of my last post I mentioned Don King Days which takes place every year just outside of Sheridan, WY.  To tell the truth I had never heard of Don King Days until our youngest son mentioned it.  He had gone a few years ago and said it was pretty darn interesting so since we were headed through Sheridan over Labor Day weekend we decided to stop and check it out ourselves and we were certainly glad we did.

Of course any trip to Sheridan wouldn’t be complete without a stop at King Ropes and Saddlery.  This is one of my all-time favorite stores in the world!!!  They have everything a true-blue cowgirl could ever want.  This store was started by a fellow named Don King (no – it’s not the same guy who promotes boxing and has the wild, straight-up hair do).  This Don King was a cowboy, rancher, roper, leather crafter and from the sounds of it a really nice guy.  He has passed away but his store and museum continues on.

The place is easy to find – just follow main street and you’ll come right to it.  Not only will you want to stop there to shop but you will definitely need to stop there for directions to the polo field (yep – polo with horses) where they hold the festivities.  And when the lady tells you the route will be well-marked – don’t believe her.  We stumbled around lost for almost an hour, went 8 miles out-of-the-way and finally chanced upon it when we thought we took a wrong turn.  But it was worth the hassle of finding it because this was a ‘rodeo’ the likes of which I had never seen before.

The first thing you will notice when you pull up is that there aren’t any fences – this is – after all, a polo field.  Everyone brings their lawn chairs and finds a spot.  They also back their pickups in and set up their tail-gate parties.  Believe me – these guys and gals know how to tail-gate!  Check it out…

This bunch had long stem glasses and champagne on ice.  And this bunch…  need I say more?

“Par-Tay at the Polo Club!”

I am sorry to say we totally missed the polo match that morning.  That was something I had been looking forward to seeing but we did get there in time to see the steer tripping which is pretty amazing in itself. 

 They turn a steer loose, the roper ropes it by a legal catch over both horns than flips the rope over the steers hips and ‘trips’ the critter.  He then has to get off his horse and run to tie up three legs of the steer before it gets back on its feet.  It was impressive to see the skill of these cowboys!

It was hard to get a picture because everything happened so fast. 

Steer Tripping was good but not quite as exciting as the Saddle Bronc riding.  They do it almost the same way it was done a hundred years ago.  They did run the horse into a small chute at first to hold him while they put on the halter and rope then they would hand the rope over to a guy on horseback and turn the horse out of the chute.  The cowboy would lead the horse (who was always bucking and kicking) right out in front of everyone where he held him as other cowboys on horseback would slowly move up beside the bronc – calming him with the presence of the other horses.  They would slowly ease the saddle onto the bronc and then the cowboy would climb up behind another cowboy then ease on over to the back of the bronc.  Once he was in place and set for the ride he would nod his head and everyone would scatter.  There was always one guy to flip an old slicker in the broncos face to really get things going.

These boys could ride.  And the best part was when the horse decided to buck toward the crowd – people grabbed their children, lawn chairs and drinks & scattered like cockroaches in the daylight.  It was great! 

I heard several stories about horses and riders bucking through the crowd and into the vehicles parked nearby.  And I guess they have even landed on top of several cars over the years.  Just try to explain that to your insurance agent.  I’m betting that cute little gecko wouldn’t even believe you.

 

The pick-up guys were always handy when it came time to get off.  They had to be – that ground was hard packed.  I would bet it was almost like landing on concrete. 

I think a person should try new things as often as they can and Don King Days definitely fits the bill.  In fact, we may have to go back next year and see what all we missed this time!

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Now that the forest fires have burned out and everyone seems to be on the mend (including the cat) things have quieted down quite a bit – Thank Goodness!!!

Finally, I have gotten back to working on my girls – Nadine and Ruby.  Ruby has only gotten a quick once over with soap and water but Nadine is the one who has made real progress. 

Yikes!  OK – she still needs some major work on the outside and definitely a new paint job but she’s almost livable on the inside.  And would you look at that – I never even noticed that the wheels were two different colors – don’t worry – I can fix that…  What do you think – chrome rims with spinners?  Oh, Baby!!!   Call in the Slurry Bombers – she’ll be smoking!!!

But back to my story…  Even though Nadine isn’t finished we have been on a couple of adventures this summer.  She followed me to the County Fair where we had a ball and several girl friends even stopped by to check out my little piece of  ‘Heaven on Wheels’!  You guessed it – they all want one too.

Then since Hubby was feeling left out because he couldn’t come to the fair we hitched her up and headed West to the Big Horn Mountains for the long Labor Day weekend.  We actually had running water on this trip even though the water heater wasn’t working yet and neither was the refrigerator, shower or furnace which turned out to be something we could have really used as the temperatures outside were very close to freezing at night.  I told Hubby it was just a good excuse to snuggle.

Vacation wasn’t the only excuse to get out of town.  We also had to make a small delivery.  Our first stop was Gillette, WY at my brother and sister-in-laws house.  Scott needed a welder so we hauled one of the big ones to his house.  Actually, I think the welder weights as much as his little loader – notice the back wheels off the ground?  And goodness gracious – his wheels are two different colors too.  It  must run in the family.

But Scott has nerves of steel and a steel roll cage so no one seemed to be too worried.  After we unloaded the welder we hitched Nadine back up and headed west and wouldn’t you know it – we ran into mountains. 

 Big mountains…

The Big Horns are beautiful!!!  And obviously, everyone else thought so too as there were people everywhere but luck was on our side and we missed all the really busy campgrounds and ended up driving completely across the Big Horns and down the other side.  We then had the option of either climbing back up the way we had come or to push onward and see new territory. 

Hubby and I talked it over – while eating lunch beside Dirty Annie’s Trading Post (Hey – you just can’t make this stuff up).  After studying the situation we came up with a new rule for traveling with Nadine – ‘Never go back’ (unless, of course, parts fall off and we have to go back and get them).  So… since nothing had fallen off the old girl we continued on into Greybull and then turned north to the town of Lovell.  It was a wonderful drive but we decided we should really head back to the mountains and find a campground before it got dark.  So we turned east toward the mountains and drove until we found this sign:

Looks like my kind of road.  I mean really, what good is having a pickup if you don’t take roads like this?  And Nadine is only 20 feet long so we had 10 feet to spare.  There was another small sign that promised the Five Springs Campground was at the end of this road so we headed up the side of the mountain.  I have to admit, the sign was right – the road was everything it had promised but when we reached the top there was the prettiest little campground you ever saw. 

Nadine fit right in.

We were parked right next to a beautiful (but icy cold) creek.

Nadine was a vision and totally at home in the great outdoors.

Of course, any time you travel with Nadine, adventure is not far behind…

I didn’t get any photos of the stuff that went on that night but I’m seriously thinking I need to invest in night vision goggles.  Sometime, in the middle of the night I began to hear weird noises.  At first I thought something was outside – maybe a bear!  I lifted the curtain to peek outside – nothing – but then I realized the noises were coming from inside Nadine’s cupboards!  Somewhere along the way my dear little camper had become the new playground for a rowdy pack of ferel campground mice!!!  Hubby swears they came in by crawling up the electrical plug-in cord.  He said he heard the little flap door bouncing as they snuck into our humble abode.  We heard a few squeaks then the pitter-patter of tiny furry feet.  This went on for some time – I would switch on my little reading light – the kind that hooks onto your book but as soon as the light came on all would be quiet.  Then, when the light went out – the party would start up again.  Nadine’s floor space isn’t that big but Boy Howdy did those mice enjoy it!  They ran, they squeaked, I swear they were doing gymnastic routines.  I took it for a while then crawled over the top of Hubby and got out the big guns – peanut butter and mouse traps.  I set the traps and crawled back in bed to wait.   It wasn’t long before we heard the deafening snap of a mouse trap followed by the scuffle of a struggling rodent.  It was over quickly but it didn’t seem to faze the rest of the pack.  At least 8 more furry little feet went running in wild abandon across the floor. 

It was all very exciting. 

We got one mouse the first night and another one the next.  Technically, the 2nd mouse probably doesn’t count as it barely caught him and I turned the little bugger loose outside – still very much alive.  The third mouse traveled home with us where it too met its demise in the wicked trap.  Sorry, little mice but I can’t run the risk of having you chew through all that new plumbing.

But back to the Big Horns – Sunday morning we hiked up behind the campground to the Five Springs Falls.

If you look real close you can see the top of the falls right above the trees in the center of the photo.  But the bottom of the waterfall looks like this.

And this:

 Stunning!!!

One of our camping neighbors, Bill from St. Paul, who had been coming to this same campground since the 70’s said he had actually showered in the waterfall a couple of times.  I tried to soak my feet in the stream but nearly lost toes to instantaneous frost bite.  I don’t think I’m as tough as Bill.

We spent two nights in our new favorite campground – sitting in the sun, snoozing in the lawn chairs and generally doing nothing at all.  It was great!!!

 There was beautiful views no matter which way you looked.  Check it out – just like home – black cows everywhere.

 When we left Monday morning I had Hubby pull off so I could get a picture of Nadine hanging onto the edge of the mountain.  The photos just don’t do it justice – it was damn steep!

We crept down the hillside then climbed back to the top on the main road, stopping long enough to hike out to the Medicine Wheel and then on into Sheridan, WY to something everyone should see at least once in their lives – Don King Days. 

No – not the guy with the hair!

But that’s another story…

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A Young Man Died…

Early Tuesday morning a young man died…

He was the son of loving parents who cried in joy at his birth, celebrated the triumphs of his life, and shared the wonder of growing up.

He was a brother who teased but also protected.  A confidant – a buddy – fellow conspiritor who can never be replaced and will be sorely missed.

He was a neighbor and a friend to so many people in our little town – including my own two sons and nephews who lived beside him, went to school with him, ran cross-country with him and celebrated birthdays & holidays with him .

He was a good student, an athlete and a graduate from our local high school.

He was a quiet, gentle boy with a good heart who I will always remember as being kind and generous.

He was funny, smart, honest, handsome and full of compassion.

And he was brave.

You see, he was also a solider – a Marine – a military sniper who served in Iraq and Afghanistan where he helped people he didn’t know and would never meet.

He was a survivor.  A young man who served his tour of duty then returned home – honorably discharged and healthy of body but with a spirit badly wounded by the things he had seen and the many friends he had lost. 

He was a veteran – a man stong, trustworthy and loyal who had risked everything to serve his country.  He was patriotic and hopeful that he could help shape the future of our world for the better.

He was so much more than we will ever know.

He was many things but he wasn’t a quitter even though he knew he couldn’t live any longer in this world.  He had tried, but in the dark hours of early morning it was more than he could stand.  That night he was a well-trained military sniper who fired many shots in our small town but hit no one.  I truly believe he didn’t want to hurt anyone – he only wanted to force someone to end his pain.

Tuesday morning his life ended and ours were changed forever.

I wasn’t there to witness what happened but I do not blame the state trooper who fired the final shot that ended Cody’s life.  It is a horrific choice to be forced into and one I am sure he never wanted to make.  I know Cody’s family, friends and the local police did everything they possibly could to save him. 

It’s heart-wrenching to lose someone but we should always remember that we were blessed to have known him – even for such a short time. 

 

Early Tuesday morning a young man died…

I pray you have found Peace at last.

Cody Engen

1989-2011

 

 

 

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It’s true – Hubby and I have had another hot and steamy date night at the ranch and I know you just can’t hardly wait to hear what wildly romantic things we did.

Picture it… Sunday… late afternoon.  I had been working in the tree strip – trimming out dead branches, pulling weeds and generally trying to get things cleaned up like I do every spring.  Yes, I realize it is nearly the end of summer but I figure instead of looking at is as being 4 months behind I will look at it as being 9 months ahead of schedule.  That sounds so much better – doesn’t it?  Anyway I had been working outside most of the day.  I was hot and sweaty and smelled almost as bad as I looked when Hubby asked me to go for a ride with him.  My buddy Kathy once told me that her Mama had given her a small piece of advice on how to keep your marriage together if you ever decide to marry a farmer or rancher.  Her advice was simple but good:

 “Every time he asks you to go somewhere, drop whatever you’re doing and go.” 

So with that in mind I jumped into the pickup and was ready for adventure.  I was pretty sure we weren’t going off the ranch because he didn’t seem to mind how bad I looked or smelled for that matter.  I soon realized none of that would matter.

We pulled up beside a flat-bed trailer loaded to overflowing with a mixture of pickup parts (such as a very large engine – complete with transmission and drive line attached and 3 axles – complete with wheels and tires).  Heck – with a load like that we could have gone down to the scrap pile and found enough old parts to build a complete pickup and still have an axle to spare. 

On top of the trailer full of ‘parts’ was a very large and very heavy stock tank which we needed to load onto the back of the pickup and haul to the School Section pasture.  Now, I don’t know about you but I’m not exactly the type of gal who spends her days in the gym lifting weights or doing chin ups so I’m not really sure what could have possibly given Hubby the impression I could actually lift my half of this tank but after much straining, groaning and cussing we did manage to get it worked off the trailer and onto the back of the pickup where it stuck out about 2 feet on either side and another 3 feet beyond the tailgate.  Of course Hubby left me there holding the back-end of the tank in place as he found an old weathered landscape timber that was just barely long enough to lay across the back of the pickup for the tank sides to rest on.   One tie down strap, 3 bungee cords and a rope later it was tied down sufficiently to make it the 2 miles to the pasture. 

We took off, moving slowly so we didn’t lose our load because I, for one, didn’t want to have to reload it.  We only passed one car on the drive.  It was our neighbor, Ellen who thought nothing of our unusual and over-width load.  She just smiled, waved, dodged off the road and bounced down the ditch to avoid the tank and never even slowed down to call the cops.  From her lack of concern I would venture a guess that stuff like this has happened to her too – being married to John I have no doubt… 

I am glad to say we made it to the pasture just fine with only having to stop once to readjust the tank. 

As soon as Hubby mentioned the School Section I knew that we would be setting this tank down in the bottom of a ravine – after all – that’s where the spring is that runs water most of the time and really, what good is a tank if you don’t have water?  One thing I didn’t know was that the road down into the ravine had washed out so we would be lowering the tank down the rocky side from above.  Here’s a photo from the top looking down on the full tank that was already there.  You can also see the remains of two other tanks to the upper right of the full one.  The bottoms of both of those tanks are gone and only the sides remain.

I’m not sure how deep this ravine is but I would guess about 20 to 25 feet.  Thankfully, it’s not straight down even though it looks it from here so I was able to slowly play out rope around the ball hitch on the back of the pickup while Hubby shoved the tank over the side.

Here’s the tank about half way to the bottom after it got hung up on some of the rocks and shrubs.

 Time to load up and drive around to what’s left of the road but first I would like to point out the old cedar post against the back tire of the pickup.  Hubby almost got choked up when he saw it because before his father passed away Bud would sometimes have to haul water over to the cattle if it got dry and the spring stopped running.  He would load a huge water tank (several thousand gallons) onto the back of the old stock truck and fill it with water.  Now the stock truck was new (back in 1964) so as you can imagine things have gotten a little worn out and the old girl has gotten a little ‘loose in her joints’ – so to speak.  But Bud had nerves of steel and he would back that big old truck loaded with a couple of tons of water down to the edge of the ledge where this old post laid.  When his dual tires would bump against that post he knew it was time to set the brake and park it so he could hook up the water line that ran down into the tank.  Now that wouldn’t be so bad if the ground was level but scroll back up to check out that first photo I posted to see what kind of slope there is at the top.  I was holding the camera level when I took that picture.

Scary, isn’t it.  And that was in a pickup with good brakes!

 Anyway we drove around to the other side of the tank and hiked down along what used to be the road. 

 

 There’s the new tank – stuck half-way down the wall.  From this angle it almost looks like it’s perched on top of that post – but it’s not.  As our boys would say – we had to ‘get Western’ with it and pulled it down of the rocks and out of the bushes.

Then we slid it next to the full tank and joined them together with a hose.

Wha-Laa, we had water.

I asked Hubby if he wanted to go skinny dipping in our new Cowboy Hot Tub but he just looked at me like:

“What are you, crazy?  There ain’t no water.  Well shame on you!”

Quick – name that movie…

It was filmed in Australia and stars Tom Selleck and Laura San Giacomo (of Pretty Woman) who played Crazy Cora and stole the show because she is a wonderful actress and she also got all the really good lines…

Yep – Quigley Down Under – my all-time favorite movie and when he rides off into the sunset and stops to look back at her I just melt into my cowboy boots every time…  Ahhhhh

 But back to the tank.

 Hubby wouldn’t go skinny dipping with me (probably because I had a camera clutched in my grubby little paws) but he did take a few minutes to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet while I kicked off my boots and soaked my feet in the cold spring water. 

Then it was back to the tree strip after another adventure-packed, gut-grueling date with my Honey.

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