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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I wouldn’t want you to think that I am the only one around here who has had strange things happen to.  To tell the truth ‘strange’ pretty much runs in the family.

Every Thursday my Dad drives to Newcastle and takes me out to lunch.  It’s a great way to keep up on what’s happening in our daily lives but frankly, most times there’s not a lot to tell.  Our lives have settled into a busy but very predictable routine.  However, last Thursday as we sat in the local Italian restaurant Dad had a story to tell. 

A sordid tale of love, sex and murder. 

Sounds good already – doesn’t it?

Dad lives in a very quiet neighbor hood about 6 miles out-of-town.  With mostly retired couples next door the biggest news every week is usually health related but that week it seems there had been more excitement than usual.  While walking to his shop one morning Dad had heard unusual noises coming from the lean-to shed.  Of course he went to investigate and stumbled across a couple engaged in mad, passionate sex in the dimly lit interior of the lean-to!  To say the least, he was shocked.  Of all places for a romantic interlude!  It’s not exactly my idea of a ritzy (or even comfortable) get away spot.  Of course I’m not covered in fur or have a large fluffy tail.

You guessed it!  It was a couple of squirrels obviously very much in love and caught in a very intimate moment.  They were so ‘wrapped up’ in their passion that they failed to notice as Dad hurried to the house and returned with a gun. 

Yes, I know – squirrels are cute and fuzzy and great to watch but they are also one of the most destructive creatures God ever put on the face of the planet.  They will chew through anything – wiring, window screens, woodwork and walls and then they will spend the rest of their days packing pine cones into any nesting space they find.  A few years ago one of Dads neighbors had a pair of squirrels who spent one entire fall and winter packing pinecones into a small opening in his summer cabin.  They packed the pinecones in so tight that the next spring when they dried out and expanded (as they tend to do to spread their seeds) the pressure from the expanding pinecones popped the paneling loose on the walls inside the cabin and spilled thousands of dry, brittle pinecones throughout his house.  He was not pleased!  But you got to admit, as long as it isn’t your house – it’s pretty darn funny.

Anyway – squirrels are fair game in our area and since the neighbors tend to agree it isn’t uncommon to hear gunshots any day of the year.  You just basically stop and listen for a few minutes and if no one is screaming for help you shrug your shoulders and continue with whatever you were doing.  Damn, I love living in the West!

Even though shooting squirrels is a common occurrence there were several problems with this particular ‘safari’. 

First off the love-struck squirrels were inside the lean-to and Dad was reluctant to put a hole in the wall.

Second – as there are no windows in the lean-to it was dark so the scope on the rifle could not be used nor was it really needed at such close range.

And third – the lean-to is ‘home’ to a vast assortment of parts, supplies and equipment – everything from scrap lumber to airplane parts are stored in its shadowy depths.

Despite all these little problems Dad took careful aim (past the scope and down the barrel) and pulled the trigger.

Once the smoke had cleared and the echos of the shot had died out one squirrel laid dead.  Who knows where the other one ended up – hiding amongst the stuff in the shed or perhaps stretched out high in the trees tops, smoking a cigarette?   It doesn’t matter – the second squirrel escaped the fate of its lover and hasn’t come back yet.

Unfortunately, the peace and quiet of the lean-to was interrupted by the hiss of escaping air as the tire of the lawn mower sprung a leak caused by a passing bullet.  Yes, it’s sad but true – Dad’s careful aim didn’t take into account the mower parked close by.  I’m sure there was cussing involved but at this point – what can you do?

The ‘body’ was disposed of and the tire removed and hauled to town.  Of course Dad had to tell the tire repair guys all about the mornings hunt and asked them to save the bullet for him.  They got a good laugh out of the story before getting to work.  They didn’t find the bullet – only a small piece of metal so they patched the hole, put the tire back on the rim and aired it up.  But the hissing continued.  It seems there was a second hole in the tire – which explained where the bullet had gone – right out the other side.

So after another patch the tire once again held air.  Dad paid his bill and left.

And so another week quietly passed at Dad’s house.  The second squirrel must have decided to pack her bags and leave or has been in hiding since the incident – either way Dad hasn’t seen her again.  Best of all, summer has finally decided to grace us with her presence.  The birds sing, the flowers bloom and the grass grows.  All is right with the world – at least that’s what we thought.  Finally, another Thursday rolls around and Dad arrived for lunch eager to tell (as radio commentator Paul Harvey would say)  ‘the rest of the story’…

About mid-week Dad had decided it was time to get the mower out and start cutting grass.   He replaced the repaired tire, checked the oil and gas and fired her up.  The engine sounded great.  He was set for a morning of mowing – water jug strapped to the side and wide-brimmed hat on his head but when he put it in gear and started out the door he realized that something was wrong.  One of the front tires was flat.  On closer inspection Dad found a small bullet hole in the sidewall. 

Yes – it was an amazing shot!  A shot worthy of Annie Oakley the famous trick shooter of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show – 1 squirrel and 2 tires in one shot. 

Impressive isn’t it? 

I told Dad the only thing that would have been more impressive was if he had gotten 2 squirrels and 1 tire but at least the ricochet hadn’t come back and shot him in the leg.  That would have been the ultimate irony.

I can’t wait to hear what he has to tell next week!

 

Love you, Dad!

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What a great evening Wednesday night!!!  It was 43 degrees outside with very little wind so of course (since it’s April) I was gardening.  I was gardening in my winter coat and stocking hat but I was still gardening.  I have always figured if you can stand to be outside for more than half an hour without your coveralls then it must be time to start gardening.  That’s South Dakota for you.

The first thing I did was spray some weeds.  Tell me, how is it possible that the snow has just finally disappeared and there are already a bumper crop of weeds?  It’s just not fair.  I never spray chemicals in my vegetable garden but anything that rears its ugly head through the gravel of the Wedding Garden is fair game.   Guess what we have coming up in there – oats, lots and lots of oats.  Of course it’s because we threw oats instead of rice at the newlyweds so it’s my own fault.

 

Ahhh – memories…

After taking out my frustrations with a spray bottle of herbicide I spent the rest of the evening planting onion sets and cleaning up inside the little greenhouse, turning over the soil and getting it ready to plant.  I worked until it was too dark to see.  Thank goodness turning over soil is not difficult work and since it was pitch black when I decided to head to the house I was also thankful for the solar lawn light I happened to have close by.  I’m sure I looked like the Statue of Liberty coming across the garden to the house holding the light by the ground spike over my head.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses of…  sickly plants…”

It’s true – I’m a very patriotic gardener.  It was a touching moment but when I stepped into the kitchen I forgot all about that because I saw something on the corner of the kitchen table that I thought you might like to see – Hubbys record book. 

If you live with a rancher or farmer you already know what a record book is.  Every rancher keeps one.  Most men will choose a new one every year, like the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace it is a ritual worthy of much thought and planning.  Most record books are small notebooks that can fit into a shirt pocket – like the proverbial ‘little black book’  but for ranchers and farmers they can be any color – except pink – I have never seen a pink one.   And because all ranchers and farmers are cheap, almost all record books come with advertising on their imitation leather covers.  You might see ads from a feed store, seed company, the power company or even the neighbors annual bull sale.  Those are my favorites.

 Ranchers and farmers write down everything into these small books – weather conditions, cattle health records, the phone number of a guy with hay for sale and I’m betting there are deep, dark secrets in there too.  I have never really checked out this theory but I’m pretty sure it’s true.  In my line of work I have had access to many ranchers record books and I have been watched like a hawk from the moment I got their book into my grubby little hands until I have carefully handed it back.  I guess it would be like me handing over my journal – it would make me nervous too. 

I have seen grown men literally tear a house apart looking for their misplaced book and if the absolute worst should happen and the book goes through the washing machine you might as well pour yourself a stiff drink and start thumbing through the yellow pages for a good divorce lawyer.  It happened to me once.  I was horrified to open the washing machine and pull out the soggy, mangled pages of Hubbys record book.  There was no hope of salvaging it.  The only thing that saved our marriage was that it was in January and he hadn’t had much time to write important stuff in it yet.  It was a close call.

Most men I know carry these small books with them where ever they go but occasionally, they have been known to forget their book and then what do you do?  You make do with whatever you happen to have on hand. 

Hence, Hubby’s logbook.

 

I know – it looks like an ordinary pair of dirty old leather gloves, but look closer.

Those are ear tag numbers from calves – it’s a regular register of new babies.  Remember #53 the mini bull with attitude?

Yep – There he is.

I only count 16 tag numbers on these gloves but I know there are many more calves than that out in the field so I guess Hubby must have remembered his record book most of the time but everyone has had a few of those days when you leave home without the things you need.  On those days – you must adapt.  At times, you even have to be a little creative and believe me ranchers are very, very good at this.  If you don’t believe me just check out this fence repair job. 

 

You can’t see it very well from this photo but that old wooden fence post is totally rotted off at the bottom.  The only thing holding it up is the steel fence post – well, that and the fact that the wind generally blows from the west most times.  It is a modern marvel of engineering that has been standing like this for at least 4 years (that I know of)  and with the way things go around here it’s probably going to out last the rest of the fence. 

I have seen artwork in galleries with $30,000 price tags that aren’t as fascinating to me as this simple fence post.  I’m not sure why that is – perhaps it reminds me of the ancient conflict of mankind, depicted by the use of both old and new medias that makes me think of the old rancher, weathered and knarled, reluctantly turning over the reins of ownership to the next generation.  Or perhaps it’s the symbol of strength portrayed by the single metal fence post that supports not only the weight of the old wooden post but also the fence lines running in two different directions.  Steadfast and without complaint, it holds everything together – supporting the weight of the world on its rigid frame. 

It could be…

But more than likely it reminds me to send a prayer toward heaven for the strength – like that fence post – to hold things together for just one more day.

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You should be proud of me – I’ve been working on the old photos again – mainly because I’ve been sick and that’s about all I’ve felt like doing. 

I’ve found a couple really cool old photos – and the best part is that we actually know who these people are.  After going through so many unmarked photographs my new mission in life to label every single photo I take.

The first photo is a picture of Hubby’s Grandfather William Allen Stearns, Hubby’s Grandmother Dora Murray Stearns and their two sons – William Wallace (whom we knew as Uncle Billy) and Hubby’s father – Norman Everett (whom everyone called Bud).

As you can tell – the big occasion for the photo was the new car – around 1920 from what I hear.  They were obviously very proud of the new car because we have several shots.

W.A. Stearns was an interesting character from all I’ve heard.  He moved to this area in 1900 with a herd of 300 brood mares and stallions.  There are stories of one particular Percheron stallion that was brought over from France by boat then rode the train to Edgemont, SD.  Unfortunately, I have never heard the name of this stallion and I’m afraid that bit of information may be lost now.  Percheron horses are a breed of draft horses and were trained to fight by jumping and kicking with all 4 legs – hopefully kicking and killing any foot soldiers in their way.  It’s kind of funny but one of the first dates my Hubby and I went on was to go see a traveling group of Percheron stallions that came to Custer in the early 1980’s.  They are magnificent horses and if you ever get the chance to see them in action – do it!

W.A. and Dora bred horses and sold many to the United States Army.  One of Hubby’s most prized possessions is his grandfathers hand written brand book.  We’re pretty sure this is one of the earliest brand books for this area.  We also have several notebooks showing records of the family’s expenses and land and livestock purchased.

We also have their marriage certificate.  William and Dora were married October 9, 1906 in Newcastle, WY.  There was a bit of an age gap between W.A. and Dora – around 32 years from what we know but they seemed to have had a good marriage and they had two sons.  My father-in-law Bud was only 9 years old when his father died which must have been pretty hard on everyone.  But Dora took over the buisness and became known as quite a horsewoman in her own right. 

I love this photo of Dora and one of her babies – we’re not sure but I would guess it is Billy.  From everything I’ve ever heard, she was an amazing woman in tough times.  Eventually, Dora and the boys sold the last of the horses and Uncle Billy and Bud split the ranch when their mother passed away. 

They both went on to raise cattle and lived out their lives on the ranch – cowboys to the very end.

 

On another note here’s a photo we’re not so sure about. 

This photo raises several questions.

First off – we have no idea who these people are but I’m guessing we’re related – especailly to her – there seems to be lots of tough old gals in our family.  The next question is what is that between them – a cat?  The tail actually looks a little skunk-like.  And who’s holding it or is it hanging by his wrist? 

It’s hard to tell what is going on in this shot but that’s exactly why I love old photos – they usually bring up more questions then they answer.

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A couple of years ago money got really tight for our family.  Things were tough to begin with but after my son and I both had hospital stays (with two $5,000.00 deductables on our health insurance) and 5 years of having to buy hay for the herd because of the drought it became downright impossible to keep up with the bills.

We’ve never been the kind of people who had ‘money to burn’ but because of a chain of events things were worse than usual.  And no matter how hard we tried things just kept getting worse – a $3,000 transfer case for the diesel pickup, mortgage payments and credit cards and then the worst happened – a death in the family.  We lost my father-in-law to a heart attack.   

It was a horrible time but  life goes on. 

 I had already decided it was time for me to go back to work and for the previous few months I had been applying for every job that looked remotely possible.   Even though I don’t have a college degree, I had never had trouble finding a job…

 until then.

Over the next 10 months I must have applied for at least 70 jobs when I finally got called in for my first interview – receptionist at the Forest Service office.  Thankfully, I got the job.   Unfortunately, it was only full-time for 8 weeks and then would be intermittent – meaning I would only work for a couple of days every month.  So of course this meant no steady pay check and no benefits but by this time we were desperate and I gladly took the job.

It was a good job and I enjoyed visiting with the people who came in for firewood permits, Christmas tree permits, hunter information or just because they were lost.  And since I generally hate shopping for clothes, one of the best things about the job was that I could wear a ‘Smoky Bear’ uniform.  I was allowed to pick through a box of extra pants and shirts and found quite a few that fit so I didn’t have the problem of shopping for a wardrobe with no extra money to spend on one. 

It worked out great but I still worried about what would happen when the full-time came to an end.  I really needed a job with benefits but it appeared no one wanted to hire a 48-year-old woman with just a high school education.  I don’t know – maybe it was because everyone knows how stubborn and pig-headed ranch wives are.

Then one day – about half-way through my 8 week job at the Forest Service – God smiled down on me.  A job opened up in the same building just across the hallway at the USDA Farm Service Agency.  I put in my application and anxiously waited.  In the meantime, sitting at the front desk, I had a front-row seat to the steady stream of people who come in to apply for the job.  I was even asked to deliver several applications when the FSA office was closed – which I did.  As it turned out over 30 people applied for the job but luckily a life-time of ranch and farm experience actually counted for something and I got the job!!!

Unfortunately, my uniform wearing days were over so I dug through the closet and found enough clothes to make it work.  The worst part was that I only owned a couple of pairs of shoes – and they were pretty beat up but I figured if I stayed behind my desk no one would ever see my feet anyway.

Now the only hurdle left was to be accepted by the people I would be dealing with.  If you’ve never been around ranchers and farmers I will tell you right now – they don’t fall for bull-shit.  These are men and women who have spent their whole lives working and living on ranches.  They are good, smart, hard-working people but I knew I would have to earn their trust to do my job. 

One important piece of information about ranchers and farmers you should know is to never ask them how many acres of land or how many head of cattle they own.  That is the same as asking someone “How much money do you have in the bank?”  It’s rude and you would be surprised to know how many people will ask this within 5 minutes of meeting a rancher.  If you do it – you’ll get nothing but some vague response before they walk away from you as fast as they can.  But of course this was exactly the type of stuff I would need to know as I would be helping people with disaster programs.

Another problem I had was that I knew very few people in Wyoming so I was starting from scratch.  No one knew me from Adam.  I met a lot of new people the first couple weeks but for the most part they still wanted to talk to my boss instead of me.  Then one day when my boss was gone for the day, a rancher came in.  This guy is an old-time cowboy who cusses every other word and is a little rough around the edges but he’s also the kind of guy you could trust with your life and if I ever ran into trouble – he’s the guy I would want to see riding over the horizon.  I could tell he wasn’t real sure about talking to me and he had just decided to come back later in the week when I offered to at least copy the paperwork he had brought in. 

I stood up, walked to the copy machine and started making copies.  When I was finished I turned around and saw that he was looking at my feet and the best pair of shoes I owned which were a beat up pair of cowboy boots.  Oh well, I thought, at least I had polished them the week before.  I handed back his paperwork and expected him to leave but he didn’t.  Instead, he settled back in his chair and started to talk to me.  He told me about his ranch and his cattle and how they had lost so many calves to a spring blizzard that he wasn’t sure what they were going to do.  He opened up to me and talked to me like he’d known me for years.  I wasn’t sure what had changed but at least I had gotten through to one guy. 

And then, over the next few weeks I started to see a pattern – I would catch people looking at my old boots and suddenly they would start talking to me.  The more I watched for it the more I saw it.  I guess my boots with the ratty laces and scuffed leather convinced them I was someone who knew what they were going through.   Anyone who wore boots like that had been there too.

I have since bought myself a new pair of boots to wear to work but I still wear the old ones too.  After all – they did help me settle into my new job.  They are also a reminder that most people aren’t really impressed with expensive things.  They don’t care if you have thousands of dollars in the bank or thousands of dollars worth of loans.  None of that matters.  What does matter is what kind of person you are inside.  Always treat people with respect, don’t ever pretend to be something that you’re not and never judge anyone by the clothes they wear. 

The truth is, the best people I ever met were wearing clothes covered in manure.

 

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It has begun.

We’ve had our first calf of the year…

and we’ve lost our first calf of the year. 

Not a good start to the calving season but it happens.

Now we can only hope that the weather will warm up and the snow will stop falling before any more are born.  Such is life on a ranch. 

But enough of that.  Since I am sooooooo sick of snow and ice  and dirty, frozen pickups –

I’ve been dreaming of the beach.

So, I looked through some old photos and found several of my family at the beach. 

You can always spot a cowboy at the beach – see what I mean?

This is a shot of my boys at Center Lake July 4th, 2007.  They look like they’re really having fun don’t they?  Well, at least Morgan kicked off his shoes.  Usually the only time a cowboy will take off his boots is when a pretty lady wants to walk barefoot on the beach…

But even then they will usually keep their hat, belt buckle and blue jeans on.

Here’s another one. 

Yes, that’s Morgan – the Redneck Lifeguard on his homebuilt Redneck Floatation Device which he built for the 4th of July celebration of 2005.  I think he had as much fun building it as he did floating around the lake.

All you need is the intertube from a tractor tire, a salvaged piece of plywood, a lawn chair and a couple bungee cords and wha-lah – you too can cruise the lake in style and comfort.

Morgan and his cousin Russell look like future canidates for the Redneck Yacht Club.

And then there’s another cousin – Josh.

AKA –  the Center Lake Super-Soaker Sniper. 

 “Go ahead, make my day.”

It doesn’t matter what type of gun it is, rednecks and cowboys love them – just like boats. 

 

Here’s Dalton cruising Lake Superior.

And don’t think fun at the beach is just for kids.  Here’s one of my favorite photos of my folks.

Wheeeeee!!!!!!!

There’s just nothing like a fast boat on a hot day –  is there?

And here’s the boys, their cousins and Grandpa checking out the cedar strip canoe and speed boat they built in Grandpa’s shop.

Have you ever seen the beautiful, sleek race boat called Miss Budweiser?  Well, this ain’t it!  But this is their version – they named her Miss Butt-Wiper and she’s fast enough for Stockade Lake.

Cowboys and rednecks are fun at the beach but nobody does the beach and boating like the girlfriends!

 Maybe it’s time for another girlfriend getaway!!!   I’ll call Captain Frank!

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Look out! I’m back up and running and life is good.

And what have I been doing with all the free time I had?

I spent $250.00 and I bought myself something I’ve wanted for several years.

I have looked high and low (especially the last few months) and finally found the one … 

my new project…   

my new ‘baby’…  Nadine.

No – she’s not standing behind this nasty old camper.  She is the nasty old camper!!!

I will love her,and I will take care of her,and I will name her Nadine,and I will bring her home,and I will fix her up,and she will be my favorite camper in the whole, wide world!

OK – that’s a little freaky but it’s true – her name is Nadine. 

I don’t know why – she just looks like a Nadine.

I know – most women have never dreamt of finding an old camper and fixing it up but there are a few of us warped and fun-loving gals out there who do.  Just check out the website for Sisters on the Fly and you’ll see why. 

www.sistersonthefly.com

Someday – when Nadine gets a little more ‘grown up’ we will join them on an adventure or two.  But until then I will tear her apart and rip up and fix the soft spots on her floor and lucky you, I will probably write about every little detail.   I have to write it here, my family is already tired of hearing about her.

Here’s her inside view.  Hmmm – Avocado Green.  Who remembers the ’70s.  I was actually looking for a trailer older than this one.  I was hoping to totally avoid the period of Avocado Green and Harvest Gold. 

Here’s the sofa that pulls out into a bed.  Can you say “Nasty”? 

I knew you could.

Ane here’s her little kitchen.  Actually, the stove and oven work great!  Looking inside,I’m betting no one ever even used it so I’ll clean it up and this will have to stay.  Thank goodness it’s not the bright, neon, glow-in-the-dark green that the counter top is.  This I can live with as if I squint my eyes I can almost convince myself that it is actually Sage Green instead.

Of course there were other issues.  It snowed big time again and her tires were rather ‘iffy’.

After fixing or replacing 3 of her 4 tires she made it home and is now sitting in front of my garden shed. 

Perhaps mud flaps for the pickup should be high up on our list of things to do.  What do you think?

Another big challenge will be getting a title for her.  I’m not even sure what she is.  If I had to guess I would say she was built in the early 70’s – probably 1970 – 1973.  If you look realllllllly close you can make out the name ‘Nomad’ under the big window on her side.  And there is a label by the door that says she’s a product of the Skyline Corporation.  We measured her and she is 20′ from bumper to ball and there are some numbers stamped on the hitch but other than that she’s a woman of mystery so far.  She was last licensed in 1995 in Colorado and has passed through several hands since the title was lost so I’m sure the whole title thing will be a major saga but maybe by the time I get her fixed up we’ll have one.  So for now it’s time to get to work.

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Hello from Purgatory

Hello, I’m coming to you today from a blackberry. Not by choice but out of necessity. A few nights ago we had terrible winds. At times I was sure the roof would be ripped off and I’d wake up as road kill on the yellow brick road complete with pigtails, ruby slippers and a short dog named Toto. But I didn’t. Instead I woke up to a computer without internet access – much more frightening than a flock of flying monkeys!

I called customer support and talked to a very nice lady who I would guess (from her accent) lived in India. She said her name was Nancy.

Let me stop right here – have you seen the credit card commercials with the big guy named Peggy? He doesn’t speak a word of English but he’s the one you have to go through to get your rewards. Yep – I was thinking the same thing, but Nancy was good. I don’t know where she was but somehow she could see that the statilite dish on top of our house was out of alignment. I couldn’t see it standing in my own front yard but from India – she could. I took her word for it.

Long story – short – I am now waiting for our friendly repair man to come and fix it. He’s supposed to be here the 28th to save me from the purgatory of typing my posts on this rediculously small keyboard. Who dreams this stuff up? And why do they hate us so much? Good questions to ponder while killing time. That’s what we get for living out in the middle of nowhere.

I’ll be back as soon as possible but in the meantime sing a chours of “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead” and think of me.

See you soon!

(I orginally wrote this on my blackberry – it took me 45 minutes of painstaking typing and then another half hour of trying to publish it before I gave up. Thankfully, Dad has a computer – about 40 miles from my house and I was headed that way this weekend. I’ll write when I can. Thanks for checking in.)

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I’m Back!!!  And just check this out.

 

Here’s the main cooler at the flower shop and this is what I’ve been doing with all my free time – working like a dog & up to my eyeballs in flowers.

 It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

My sister owns Jenny’s Floral which happens to be the only flower shop in Custer, SD.  When you own a flower shop, Valentines Day is really more like a whole week.

Here’s my sister – sorry, I caught her in mid sentence. 

This almost looks like it could be the set for a television show.  All she needs is a string of pearls and a plucked chicken and she could be the next Julia Childs.

“Next you take this red carnation and stuff it up the chickens’…”

Sorry, things get a little weird by the end of the day.  I guess the whole flower/cooking show thing probably wouldn’t work out too well after all. 

We do have a lot of fun and we do a lot of talking, laughing, and giggling like school girls mainly because all the girlfriends come and help. 

Grandma said it best –

“Many hands make the work load light.”

She would be so proud.

Of course, we discuss important things like politics, the new tax laws, quantum physics and how to save the environment.  We have also solved the world’s problems and devised a plan for world peace.

OK – I’m full of compost – we really talk about the men in our lives, our kids, the things we’ve been doing and the things we want to do.  We also bring lots of food and wine and beer for after hours.  That’s when all the really good discussions start.  But I can’t put any of that down in black and white.  I’m sure you understand.  Just imagine it’s like Sex in the City without the city and the fancy shoes.

Here’s Amy.  She worked for my sister back when she was in high school and she’s still willing to come and help, amazing, isn’t it?

Amy has a blog called the Ranch Wife’s Slant.  She also writes articles for several papers and magazines about her life on the ranch.  I think she comes just to gather warped and weird ideals for her upcoming articles.  The flower shop is pretty fertile ground for ‘warped and weird’.

Here’s some more friends.  Denise is slaving over a hot cash register and Kelly (in the green) was working on a balloon masterpiece – a column of white and clear balloons topped off with a very large heart-shaped balloon.  It turned out pretty darn cool.  This was Kelly’s first time at the flower shop.  She made the mistake of walking into the shop before Valentines Day, introducing herself and even stated that she had always dreamed of working in a flower shop.  She’s lucky she got out alive.  I’m not sure we’ll ever see her again but you never know – she fit in really well with our strange little flock of flower groupies.

There’s usually around a dozen of us who descend on the flower shop for the big holidays like Valentines Day and Mothers Day.  Most of us have been doing this for years because it’s a blast and if you don’t show up to work, you know we’ll all talk about you.  Besides, where else can you spend a few days with the girlfriends and play with flowers in the dead of winter.  In South Dakota your options are pretty limited.

Life is just a bed of roses – at the flower shop.

 

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Sorry it’s been a few dayssince I last wrote.  It has been really cold and snowy and my satellite dish had collected a nice little snow drift up there on top of the house. 

Since it was -20 degrees (yes that’s MINUS 20 degrees) with lots of wind and mainly because I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather I wasn’t very excited about climbing up there and sweeping the snow away.  So I just waited for the snow to drift somewhere else which it did today.  So in honor of having my internet back we will not be showing any snow photos today – I promise.  How about some nice warm pictures of a trip I took with the girlfriends to sunny Texas instead?

It was April 2008.  It was beautiful and warm.  And it was snowing like crazy – at home.  Hee Hee Hee!

But we were 9 Moms on Spring Break on South Padre Island and we didn’t care about the howling winds and the 3 feet of snow in South Dakota.

No siree!

There were no children, no husbands, and no hungry cows and horses to feed. 

I don’t think they even allow those things on Padre Island.

At least that’s what I told my family when I left.  Can you believe they actually bought it?

But Padre Island did have a few things we didn’t have back home…

Ah… the fragile beauty,

and the exotic wildlife,

and the steamy sunsets,

and the crazy tourists, 

(Yep, that’s me)

And my big blue feet and my ‘glow in the dark’ shockingly white  midwest legs.

Scary – isn’t it?

Did you know your feet turn that color from the cold winter weather in South Dakota? 

And your legs never do tan because 11 months out of the year it’s too cold to wear shorts. 

It’s sad, but true.

Maybe I should go back to Texas.  You know – for the health of my blue feet and ‘glow in the dark’ legs.  I really think I should.

It makes sense to me but do you think Hubby will buy it?

Maybe – if I don’t show him this picture.

 Who was that cute kid and why is he laid out on the table like a slab of beefcake in front of a sign that says “I got my crabs at Daddys”?

I forget.

Wait… 

What was I talking about?

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My sister and I are curlers.

No – not the kind you put in your hair – the kind you find on a sheet of ice.

Look – here’s a couple of curlers now.

That’s my sister, Jenny and Jeff – the only guy on our team. 

We just started curling last year and it’s a blast!!! 

Sure, you slip and fall once in a while but nobody points and laughs because they’ve been there too.

And besides – every time I laugh I slip and fall too.

Here’s the very nice ice rink in Rapid City where we curl and some of the stones.

Here’s some really good curlers.  When I grow up I want to curl just like they do and I want a pink broom too!

A curling we will go…  A curling we will go…

There are enough people signed up this year to have 8 teams.  Most of us are beginners but there are a few who have been curling for years and they are great about helping us beginners out.

Here’s Jenny as the alternate skip (the strategic master who tells us where she wants the stone) in the house (the target on the ice where we try to put our stones).  Wow – it almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about.  This shot looks pretty good – there are lots of rocks in play but the ice was really weird that day and no matter where you tried to put the rocks they usually just went off to the left.  I’m not just making excuses – everyone on our sheet (patch of ice) was having the same problem.  It wasn’t just me.

Here’s what happens when you put your camera in your pocket and it gets all fogged over.

Adds a bit of mystery to the whole thing doesn’t it?

“It was a dark and foggy night at the curling rink…”

What do you think – it could be the beginning of a top-selling murder mystery – ‘Murder on the Rocks’ or maybe ‘Murder’s Just a Stones Throw Away’.

OK, I’ll work on it.

I love curling – it’s too much fun!

 

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