Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ghosts of 2006

As we stand on the cusp of a new year, it is time to reflect on the year that was 2006. Needless to say, the most pivotal event of 2006 for me was the fires that threatened my little town last summer. What that in mind, I give you "A Spotted Tail Christmas Tree." This little tree was cut down from within the Spotted Tail burn area to commemorate the fires of 2006:

Look upon its burned branches and be thankful for, and aware of, every single moment in your life...cuz' it can truly all go up in flames in a heartbeat.

So, my little ones, may 2007 bring you moments of joy and wonder, good health, and no fires....

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gotta love that snow!

Today we finally got a dusting of's been much too warm and dry here (though that's not unusual in December), and though there are a LOT of outside decorations up (good weather does have its advantages), we all felt we were missing something. Well, today it's feelin' a whole lot more like Christmas!

Of course, the snow will likely be gone by Dec. 25, but for this moment, it's perfect! And the moment is what matters, right little ones!?!

Monday, December 04, 2006


("Through the Pine" by ~DKBB~)

See the sunlight through the pine
Taste the warm of winter wine
Dream of softly falling snow
Wnter skol...Aspenglow

As the winter days unfold
Hearts grow warmer with the cold
Peace of mind is all we know
Winter skol...Aspenglow

Aspen is a life to live
See how much there is to give
See how strongly you believe
See how much you may receive

Smiling faces all around
Laughter is the only sound
Memories that can't grow old
Winter skol...Aspenglow

Aspen is a life to live
See how much there is to give
See how strongly you believe
See how much you may receive

See the sunlight through the pine
Taste the warm of winter wine
Dream of softly falling snow
Winter skol...Aspenglow
Winter skol...Aspenglow

(Lyrics to Aspenglow by John Denver)

This is my favorite holiday song of all time. I love John Denver...his music touches my heart and soul in so many ways...maybe it's because I'm a Rocky Mountain child....

May your holidays be filled with music you love, memories you cherish, and the joy and adventure of new discoveries, and may you - my little ones - enjoy every single moment of this holiday season!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Little Gifts....

I spent almost all day Saturday dragging the holiday decorations out of storage (we keep 'em under the stairs, clear in the back so we have to unload the entire closet to get to 'em...yea, that makes sense...), and decorating the family room in the basement (yep, just the family room...the rest of the house will get it starting Wednesday). The entire time, my son would wander through saying "oh for heaven's sake..." or "...isn't it a bit early for this nonsense?" I would smile and say, "it's never too early!" and "you know you love it." Sure enough, when I got all done, turned off the overhead light and turned on the tree, he said, "looks really nice, Mom." Gotta love those little gifts....

Saturday night I drove out the the local WalMart to get a new tree skirt for the tree in the family room, and at the end of the street near the high school, I was greeted by the heartwarming site of holiday decorations lighting up the night in a townhome's yard....beautiful white and red decorations, brilliantly made me smile clear down to my toes. What a wonderful, wonderful gift....

I told my husband last night, "you know, the holiday decorating I do throughout the house is my gift to you, our son, and to myself; but the decorations we put outside in the yard and on the house are our gift to the community...our small way of sharing the joyous holiday spirit with everyone around us." He looked at me like I was a bit nuts (nothing unusual there), but he understood what I meant.

Little gifts abound....share them, little ones, share them....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Series of Moments

...all strung together, they form a whole. Happy moments, sad moments, important moments, insignificant moments, loud moments, quiet moments, joyous moments, devastating moments, loving moments...a long, wonderful series of moments that, taken as a whole, are life.

This thought popped in to my mind as I drove back home from a day in Rapid City earlier this week. I had gone to Rapid to meet a dear old friend for lunch - for a moment, as it were. We spent a few hours sharing good food and wonderfully good company, glancing outside the restaurant at the snow every now and then, commenting "well, we'd better both head home before it gets any worse." When we did finally, reluctantly, part company, we headed in opposite directions (her to the north, me to the south) into the snow.

I drove through Rapid City and headed down the highway to home, with snow blowing hard and visibility about 1/2 mile...I was not thrilled to be driving in the snow, and I was not looking forward to having to do so all the way home, but I knew the trip had been worth the journey already. About 20 miles south of Rapid City, the snow tapered off and as I approached Hot Springs, I topped a hill and was dazzled by one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen in ages. The skies to the west were the brightest blue and the clouds were outlined in pure gold. The air just was breathtaking! (Of course, I didn't have my camera with me...Murphy's Law, right?!)

And as I continued my sojourn home, I thought about day had been a series of rather disconnected, but still flowing, moments. Taken separately, some of those moments weren't all that great, while other moments were truly stellar...but when you string all those moments together, you get a pretty damned decent day. :)

So, little ones, enjoy your moments - the good, the bad, the happy, the sad - and the life those moments create. It's all good....

Monday, November 13, 2006

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (almost!)

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a total nut about the holiday season. I love, love, love the time from Thanksgiving to New Year's!

My family always says that Christmas "blows up" in our house when I decorate each year - no room is safe...I even do the bathrooms. I have tons of holiday decorations, and I get more every year. Someday, when we build our dream home at Twin Butts Vista Drive, I'm gonna have a big ol' room to store all my decorations and trees in, so I don't have to dismantle everything each year if I don't want to. And I'll go sit in my Christmas storage room when I need a fix of holiday cheer during the year.

I have always been a HUGE fan of the holiday season, and I seem to get more excited about it every year. I have NO problem with the stores putting our their Christmas stuff immediately after Halloween; it drives my husband crazy, but I love it! I love the music (and I am thrilled that it is already available on our digital music service!), the shopping, the crowds, the lights, the parades, the food, the parties, the wonderful feelings of good will and cheer! Love it all!

So I'm a happy camper about now, getting all geared up for the holidays! Only a tich over two weeks until Thanksgiving, which is for me the official kick-off of the holiday season. There's stuffing to be made, turkey to be stuffed, pumpkin pies cryin' out to be baked, tummies to be stuffed to the max, and - best part of all - college football to be watched. Oh yea, college football - another wonderful and welcome tradition of the holiday season. My grandfather used to say, "the living room is full of footballs!" this time of year. And I uphold that tradition well - we watch every danged bowl game we can, and every regular season game, too.

Yep, it's the most wonderful time of the year, little ones! Embrace it, rejoice in it, live it!!!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Of Cardinals, and Lemons, and Crap - Oh My!

Cardinals: My son's high school football team lost in a heartbreaker 20-27 in the second round of the playoffs. The one bright spot, from my vantage point anyway, was that my son really did well as the "color commentator" for the local radio coverage of the game. We've been getting so much great positive feedback! Sure wish we coulda heard him, but the game was played too far away to get our local coverage; we were in the stands screaming our heads off, anyway. So, the Cardinals end their season 8-2 (not bad at all, if you ask me), and thus ends my son's high school football career....

Lemons: Football injuries to my son culminated with a torn right knee PCL (will heal with time and physical therapy) and a torn (completely severed, I fear) ligament in his left thumb that will be repaired via surgery tomorrow. We're getting enough damn lemons here to make lemonade for the entire country....

Crap: The political season is, thankfully, about over. I have been deluged with political mail for weeks, and today the canned, computerized phone calls started. By the time I received a THIRD call in just two hours from the candidate I actually support for the US House seat, I was ready to vote for the other guy, just on principle. It's bad enough that the candidates are drowning my mailbox with unsolicited, unwanted, and totally unappreciated (by me, anyway) mailings, but my phone lines?! Good god, leave me alone! I'm an intelligent adult; I have weighed the issues, learned about your stand on things, and I will make my own well-thought-out decision when I get to the polls on Tuesday. Yep, I'm gonna write in "Bill The Cat" for every damned office.....

Come Tuesday, all you US-based little ones, get out there and VOTE!!! If you don't vote, you can't bitch (another stellar ~DKBB~ mantra).

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Go Cardinals!!!

(Pretend the colors are black, red, and white; I did the best with what I've got.)

The Chadron Cardinals will play in the second round of Nebraska High School Football Playoffs this week. Go Cardinals!!!!!!

On for Chadron,
On for Chadron,
Fight hard for your fame!
We will victory,
We will victory,
A touchdown is our aim!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
On for Chadron,
On for Chadron,
Fight hard for your fame!
Fight, Cardinals, fight
and we will win this game!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sometimes life tosses lemons at ya...

and you catch the suckers and make lemonade!

So, my son's football team makes it into the state playoffs (yea!)...first playoff game is at home (bigger yea!). Big crowd, psyched football players, band, school song, the whole nine yards (so to speak). And, shortly into the second quarter, a lemon just friggin' kicks my son on his arse...he was tackled by a player and it took out his right knee. He hobbled to the sideline (at least he was still mobile), and the trainers immediately began working on him. They massaged his knee, iced it, wrapped it up...he hobbled into the locker room at half time. There we sat in the stands, his father and I, wondering how bad it was, was he in a lot of pain, would he be able to play in the second half...

Now mind you, he's still got ankles and feet taped like spats, a big ol' lobster claw for a left hand, and now the right knee....

Anyhow, the team comes out for warm-ups before the second half, and he jogs into the field and does some running to warm up, with the trainers watching closely (oh, we're feeling good about this...he looks good, mobile,'s gonna be OK!). Then he tries to stop...that doesn't work so well....and go backwards....oh my, that doesn't work at all...and it's back to the bench, ice being taped to the knee. And there he sat for the third quarter....on the bench....alone....dammit....

He went in to the locker room and changed into his street clothes then rejoined his team on the sidelines for the fourth quarter, managing to stay upright most of the time. The team did very well, winning 44-7 and advancing to the next round of the playoffs (YEA!).

The next day was a day of doctor visits, MRI, x-rays....and a diagnosis of "torn PCL, no surgery needed, but a couple of months of physical therapy and no more football playing for the season." Most definitely NOT the type of news a senior in high school wants to hear when his football team is moving through the playoffs.

But, like I said before, lemonade can be made from such lemons. The local radio sportscaster gets wind of the injury, calls my son, and now he's lined up to provide "color commentary" for the next playoff game....isn't the same as playing on the field, but given the circumstances, it's damned good lemonade.

And so, little ones, it's all (still) good....

Thursday, October 26, 2006

So, tell me a little bit about yourself....

I found this on (my friend Sher’s blog); she got it from Jola (a friend of Sher’s). Anywho, I thought it was rather cool, so I decided to do it myself, and share the entire thing with you, little ones.

1. Pick your birth month.
2. Strike out anything that doesn't apply to you. (I put the nonapplicable things in parentheses.)
3. Bold the five-ten that best apply to you. . . .

NOVEMBER: Has a lot of ideas. Difficult to fathom. Thinks forward. (Unique and brilliant.) (Extraordinary ideas.) Sharp thinking. (Fine and strong clairvoyance.) (Can become good doctors.) Dynamic in personality. (Secretive.) Inquisitive. (Knows how to dig secrets.) Always thinking. (Less talkative but amiable.) Brave and generous. Patient. Stubborn and hard-hearted. If there is a will, there is a way. Determined. (Never give up.) (Hardly becomes angry unless provoked.) Loves to be alone. (Thinks differently from others.) Sharp-minded. Motivates oneself. Does not appreciate praises. (High-spirited.) (Well-built and tough.) Deep love and emotions. Romantic. (Uncertain in relationships.) Homely. Hardworking. High abilities. Trustworthy. Honest and keeps secrets. Not able to control emotions. Unpredictable.

1. Pick your birth month.
2. Strike out anything that doesn't apply to you.
3. Bold the five-ten that best apply to you.

JANUARY: Stubborn and hard-hearted. Ambitious and serious. Loves to teach and be taught. Always looking at people's flaws and weaknesses. Likes to criticize. Hardworking and productive. Smart, neat and organized. Sensitive and has deep thoughts. Knows how to make others happy. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Rather reserved. Highly attentive. Resistant to illnesses but prone to colds. Romantic but has difficulties expressing love. Loves children. Loyal. Has great social abilities yet easily jealous. Very stubborn and money cautious.

FEBRUARY: Abstract thoughts. Loves reality and abstract. Intelligent and clever. Changing personality. Attractive. Sexy. Temperamental. Quiet, shy and humble. Honest and loyal. Determined to reach goals. Loves freedom. Rebellious when restricted. Loves aggressiveness. Too sensitive and easily hurt. Gets angry really easily but does not show it. Dislikes unnecessary things. Loves making friends but rarely shows it. Daring and stubborn. Ambitious. Realizes dreams and hopes. Sharp. Loves entertainment and leisure. Romantic on the inside not outside. Superstitious and ludicrous. Spendthrift. Tries to learn to show emotions.

Attractive personality. Sexy. Affectionate. Shy and reserved. Secretive. Naturally honest, generous and sympathetic. Loves peace and serenity. Sensitive to others. Loves to serve others. Easily angered. Trustworthy. Appreciative and returns kindness. Observant and assesses others. Revengeful. Loves to dream and fantasize. Loves traveling. Loves attention. Hasty decisions in choosing partners. Loves home decors. Musically talented. Loves special things. Moody.

APRIL: Active and dynamic. Decisive and hasty but tends to regret. Attractive and affectionate to oneself. Strong mentality. Loves attention. Diplomatic. Consoling, friendly and solves people's problems. Brave and fearless. Adventurous. Loving and caring. Suave and generous. Emotional. Aggressive. Hasty. Good memory. Moving. Motivates oneself and others. Sickness usually of the head and chest. Sexy in a way that only their lover can see.

MAY: Stubborn and hard-hearted. Strong-willed and highly motivated. Sharp thoughts. Easily angered. Attracts others and loves attention. Deep feelings. Beautiful physically and mentally. Firm Standpoint. Needs no motivation. Easily consoled. Systematic (left brain). Loves to dream. Strong clairvoyance. Understanding. Sickness usually in the ear and neck. Good imagination. Good physical. Weak breathing. Loves literature and the arts. Loves traveling. Dislike being at home. Restless. Not having many children. Hardworking. High spirited. Spendthrift.

JUNE: Thinks far with vision. Easily influenced by kindness. Polite and soft-spoken. Having ideas. Sensitive. Active mind. Hesitating, tends to delay. Choosy and always wants the best. Temperamental. Funny and humorous. Loves to joke. Good debating skills. Talkative. Daydreamer. Friendly. Knows how to make friends. Able to show character. Easily hurt. Prone to getting colds. Loves to dress up. Easily bored. Fussy. Seldom shows emotions. Takes time to recover when hurt. Brand conscious. Executive. Stubborn.

JULY: Fun to be with. Secretive. Difficult to fathom and to be understood. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Takes pride in oneself. Has reputation. Easily consoled. Honest. Concerned about people's feelings. Tactful. Friendly. Approachable. Emotional temperamental and unpredictable. Moody and easily hurt. Witty and sparkly. Not revengeful. Forgiving but never forgets. Dislikes nonsensical and unnecessary things. Guides others physically and mentally. Sensitive and forms impressions carefully. Caring and loving. Treats others equally. Strong sense of sympathy. Wary and sharp. Judges people through observations. Hardworking. No difficulties in studying. Loves to be alone. Always broods about the past and the old friends. Likes to be quiet. Homely person. Waits for friends. Never looks for friends. Not aggressive unless provoked. Prone to having stomach and dieting problems. Loves to be loved. Easily hurt but takes long to recover.

AUGUST: Loves to joke. Attractive. Suave and caring. Brave and fearless. Firm and has leadership qualities. Knows how to console others. Too generous and egoistic. Takes high pride in oneself. Thirsty for praises. Extraordinary spirit. Easily angered. Angry when provoked. Easily jealous. Observant. Careful and cautious. Thinks quickly. Independent thoughts. Loves to lead and to be led. Loves to dream. Talented in the arts, music and defense. Sensitive but not petty. Poor resistance against illnesses. Learns to relax. Hasty and trusty. Romantic. Loving and caring. Loves to make friends.

SEPTEMBER: Suave and compromising. Careful, cautious and organized. Likes to point out people's mistakes. Likes to criticize. Stubborn. Quiet but able to talk well. Calm and cool. Kind and sympathetic. Concerned and detailed. Loyal but not always honest. Does work well. Very confident. Sensitive. Good memory. Clever and knowledgeable. Loves to look for information. Must control oneself when criticizing. Able to motivate oneself. Understanding. Fun to be around. Secretive. Loves leisure and traveling. Hardly shows emotions. Tends to bottle up feelings. Very choosy, especially in relationships. Systematic.

OCTOBER: Loves to chat. Loves those who loves them. Loves to take things at the center. Inner and physical beauty. Lies but doesn't pretend. Gets angry often. Treats friends importantly. Always making friends. Easily hurt but recovers easily. Daydreamer. Opinionated. Does not care of what others think. Emotional. Decisive. Strong clairvoyance. Loves to travel, the arts and literature. Touchy and easily jealous. Concerned. Loves outdoors. Just and fair. Spendthrift. Easily influenced. Easily loses confidence. Loves children.

NOVEMBER: Has a lot of ideas. Difficult to fathom. Thinks forward. Unique and brilliant. Extraordinary ideas. Sharp thinking. Fine and strong clairvoyance. Can become good doctors. Dynamic in personality. Secretive. Inquisitive. Knows how to dig secrets. Always thinking. Less talkative but amiable. Brave and generous. Patient. Stubborn and hard-hearted. If there is a will, there is a way. Determined. Never give up. Hardly becomes angry unless provoked. Loves to be alone. Thinks differently from others. Sharp-minded. Motivates oneself. Does not appreciate praises. High-spirited. Well-built and tough. Deep love and emotions. Romantic. Uncertain in relationships. Homely. Hardworking. High abilities. Trustworthy. Honest and keeps secrets. Not able to control emotions. Unpredictable.

DECEMBER: Loyal and generous. Sexy. Patriotic. Active in games and interactions. Impatient and hasty. Ambitious. Influential in organizations. Fun to be with. Loves to socialize. Loves praises. Loves attention. Loves to be loved. Honest and trustworthy. Not pretending. Short tempered. Changing personality. Not egoistic. Take high pride in oneself. Hates restrictions. Loves to joke. Good sense of humor. Logical.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tootin' My Own Horn

I've been taking pictures all my life, and I've gotten kinda, sorta decent at it - especially scenery-type shots (my people shots are still nothin' to write home about). I got gutsy (for me) and entered some of my photos in a photo contest (sponsored by the local radio station), and darned if I didn't win for Week 2 of said contest! My little photo will reside on the local radio station's home page for a week. Heck, I might actually start showin' some of my photos someday.

"Red Fence" by ~DKBB~

There's a moral to this, little ones: sometimes you need to step outside your comfort zone, throw caution to the wind, and put yourself out there for the world to see (so to speak). Yes, you might fall flat on your face, embarrass the heck outa yourself - or, you might just fly, little might just fly...

It's All Good

Senior Night for my son's high school football team was last Friday. All the parents lined up with their sons and walked on the field as each family was introduced. It was really a nice experience.

After all us parents scurried back to our seats in the stands, the defensive line-up was introduced, and once again our son's name was called out as he ran onto the field. I heard some gasps and several comments around me as "Lobster Boy" ran to the middle of the field. You see, he's had a few little injuries so far this season, so now they are taping up each ankle (both under his socks and over his shoes) so he looks like he's wearing spats. And he injured his thumb in practice last week, so he had to wear a brace, which was very well padded, for the game. He was quite a sight.

I've been a sports mom for well over a decade, so it takes a LOT to cause me concern in terms of injuries. For over a decade, my son was a soccer goalie (who took great joy in being able to "legally" take out the other side's players), and for the past several years he's been a football linebacker. I am very used to him getting the crud beat outa him, or better yet, beating the crud outa the other guy. I figure as long as he gets up and all limbs are still attached, it was a good, clean hit.

So, when "Lobster Boy" ran onto the field, amidst the concerned comments all around me on Friday night, I said, "It's all good! He's intact, and he's havin' fun. And that's all that really matters." And the fact that he played a great game and his team won - beating their rivals - was just gravy.

Yep, it's all good....

Image from a photo by Brandon Horst (

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Beauty of Autumn

The fall colors in Cody (Wyoming) this year where the most vivid and brilliant in memory. I didn't take many pictures, but the ones I took were all keepers.
Burning Bush

Mountain Ash Berries

Fading Beauties

Bright Berries

Burst of Gold

Carpet of Leaves

And the fall colors in my own garden in Chadron (Nebraska) weren't too shabby, either:

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Gift of Surprise

Today my mother and I got the most glorious, joyful, wonderful gift ever! My sister and her husband were picking us up to take us to lunch (an outing we had arranged yesterday). When they pulled up in their SUV, we went out to meet them. I opened the back door of the vehicle so we could get in, and sitting there on the seat was Meghan (my niece, Mom's grandaughter)! I have no doubt, little ones, that you heard my shouts of joyous surprise all around this earth. We have not seen Meghan since Christmas 2004; she lives and works in Charleston, SC, now and is oh so very far away from the backwaters of Wyoming and Nebraska where we all live. This surprise was so unexpected, so welcome, and so wonderful...making this one of the best days ever!!!

An Autumn Respite

I'm taking a little break...spending a few days with my mother in Cody, Wyoming. The fall colors are absolutely vibrant this year.

And the local deer are lovin' the bounty from Mom's crabapple tree.

As usual, photos by me (~DKBB~).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Life in the Fast Lane

original mixed media collage by Annie Farnsworth, available at The Shoppes of Artella

Once school starts in the fall, time starts doin' that snowball-down-a-hill thing and all too fast you feel completely bowled over and snowed under. Or at least I do. I swear, once classes started up again for both my son the high school senior and my husband the college professor, the days started racing past me like I was the tortoise in the ol' tortoise vs. hare race.

Some days I just want to shut the door, close all the blinds, sit down with a cup of tea, and BREATHE. Life goes so fast, things happen so seems there's little time to process it all. And this being my son's final year of high school, I want to process it all...commit it all to long-term memory, to be pulled out on lonely days in the years ahead....

So my advice to you, little ones, is to slow down, BREATHE, and take the time to process your life, reflect, and remember....

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Night Lights

I love football... football season, the sound of helmets cracking, shoulder pads smacking, the THUD when a player is tackled, the roar of the crowd...I just love football!

Fall is a wonderful season of changing colors, crisp mornings, cool evenings, and Friday night lights. We bundle up and head to the football field about an hour before the game starts to partake in the tailgate parties sponsored by our booster club and local merchants, and we always have our butts in the stands at least 30 minutes before kick off so we can watch our son run onto the field with his team.

I'm one of those screaming, excited, never-sits-down, drives-everyone-around-her-crazy fans. By the end of a game I'm usually horse, but it's so worth it! I scream, I cheer, I sing the school song - and I very vocally admonish all the sit-on-their-butts people around me to "get up and cheer, dammit!" and to "sing the school song, for gods' sake, the words are in your damn program!" I don't think they like me much, but tough tooties...I'm here, I'm a football mom, and I'm loud and proud!!!

My son played soccer for 11 years before he switched to football - he was a goalkeeper. I was just as damned excited, and annoying, at every single one of his soccer games as I am at his football games. At least now I've got a few more vocal allies in the stands with me so I'm not screamin' alone anymore. ;)

Crisp nights, changing colors, and Friday night lights....does it get any better than this!?!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Dreams at Twin Butts Vista Drive

A few years ago, after many years of dreaming, my husband and I bought 80 acres of land southwest of Laramie, Wyoming. It is on high glacial till prairie with 360-degree views of mountains, and it shares a 20-acre lake with the neighboring 80-acre parcel. But the best part of it all, in our opinion, was the wonderful misspelling on the road sign for the road that borders our parcel on the east - Twin Butts Vista Drive - we figured it was meant to be. We plan to build our dream home on good ol' Twin Butts Vista Drive in a few years, and I'll work from a home with tons and tons of windows that look out onto the Snowies, the Colorado Rockies, Sheep Mountain, Jelm Mountain...heaven! Here's a sampling of pictures of our dream:

We wander about on our land every now and again, just to remind ourselves it's real. We've seen antelope, coyote, rabbits, ducks and geese on the lake. We just know we're gonna love it there (wind, harsh winters, and all)!

Like my tagline says, Be true to true to your true...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Parenting 101

I was talking with a friend about the state of affairs in our world today, the number of middle school and high school kids who seem to think drinking and/or drugs and/or sex are the top forms of recreation, the lack of respect many kids have for adults (heck, for themselves even), the lack of responsibility (personal and societial), and other such stuff that "old" people talk (re: gripe) about. We came to the conclusion (nonscientifically) that one of the big problems is a lack of good, solid parenting skills. We decided that any idiot can have sex, BUT any idiot should NOT be able to become a parent. So, if I was queen o' the world, there would be classes - several classes, years of classes - that you'd have to take and pass, and some sort of internship you'd have to complete before you would be given the physical ability to have children. I'm thinkin' the curriculum could be something like this:

Parenting 101 - Where Did I Put The Baby?
Unit #1: You will learn the absolute and paramount importance of responsibility, and have to prove such before you may advance to the next class. You will be required to complete the old standby "this egg is your child" task for a minimum of 4 weeks, which you will have to repeat ad nauseum until you pass the unit.
Unit #2: You will be given a small dog which you must take care of for 4 weeks; you must feed it, play with it, walk it, let it out when it needs to go out, clean up all messes caused by failing the previous-listed task, and, above all else, not let it loose, ever. Lose the dog and you will fail this unit, have to buy a replacement dog, and repeat the unit.
Unit #3: You will work in a daycare for 4 weeks under the strict supervision of a professional, helping with the babies and toddlers as you are directed. You must do EVERYTHING you are told to, including dirty-diaper duty, clean-up-puke duty, feed-the-children duty, read-to-the-children duty, play-with-the-children duty, clean-up-after-the-children duty, and, the most important task of all, don't-lose-or-misplace-any-of-the-children duty. As with the previous 2 units, you must pass this unit or repeat it until you do. And if you misplace a child, you must FIND the misplaced child and repeat the entire class, at least 10 times, before you will pass.
Unit #5: You would be placed in a home with a newborn and have to complete 4 weeks of sleepless or sleep-interrupted nights, constant feedings, trying to comfort a baby and not knowing what the heck he/she wants, and still living your life - cooking, cleaning, paying bills, interacting with other adults in a coherent manner....

I'm thinking there should be at least 5 classes, a semester to a year in length, that you must complete before you are given the ability to create a child (guess I need to come up with some scientific stuff here that would shut down that ability completely to procreate in both males and females until all courses are passed - oh! wouldn't that be great!?):

Parenting 201: The Terrible Twos...Threes...Fours...Fives....
This class would deal with toddlers, temper tantrums, boundary setting, the importance of routine, and follow-through (you know, actually doing what you tell the child you're going to do if they act out again). The concepts of boundary setting, routine, and follow-through are probably the MOST important lessons you MUST learn, so this class would be at least a year, and the lessons learned in this class MUST be demonstrated and used correctly in all following classes, or the entire rotation will have to be repeated.

Parenting 301: Toys, Teaching, Tantrums, Towing-the-line....this would deal with prepubescents; Parenting 401: Fitting In, Growing Up, Finding Yourself....this would deal with young teens (oh my, that would take at least a year, I'd say); Parenting 501: So You Think You're An Adult?!....this cap-stone course would be dealing with older teens/young adults (another year-long class, I'd say).

The Internship would be a year, with you shadowing successful parents of a baby, a toddler, a prepubescent, a young teen, and an older teen/young adult in 2.4-month rotations. Each parental unit would evaluate you, and you would pass the class ONLY if all 5 parental units had passed you. The Internship year would have to be repeated in full if even 1 of the parental units failed you.

And ONLY after you had passed all the classes and the Internship with flying colors, could you even CONSIDER becoming a parent, and be given the physical ability to do so.

Yep, if I was queen o' the world, that's what I'd do....

Monday, August 21, 2006

...he grew up in spite of the bricks

I used to tell my son I was going to put bricks on his head to keep him from growing taller, from growing up...

My one-and-only wonderful child turned 18 on Sunday. I am in awe of the young man he is becoming...he's handsome, smart, seems to have good common sense, and doesn't screw up too much (we think he's a genetic mutant - does not take after either his father or me, which is probably a good thing...). I think his father and I have done a pretty decent job of raising him so far, and he's done a pretty decent job of raising us, too.

He's a senior in high school this year, a football player, and he's taking his first college class. I have this one more year to have him underfoot (thank god) before he spreads his wings and flies (damn me and my "fly, little ones!" philosophy).

I try not to think about all the horrible things in this world that he faces in his future - just like I try not to think about the same horrible things in my future (there's a bit of Scarlett O'Hara in me...."I'll think about it tomorrow..."). I instead concentrate my engery on wishing for him the best of what's to come. He has brought out the best in me and his father over the years - and, at times, the worst - and for that I am forever grateful. But mostly, I'm very proud...of the son he is and the man he's becoming.

...guess the bricks weren't really needed after all...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #7

After all the fire stuff, I'm thinkin' we need some jaw-dropping vistas to cleanse our palates, so to speak. Both of these photos were taken by me in May 2006 at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Longs Peak Through The Aspen

You Can See Forever and Ever....

The Northern Nebraska Panhandle Fires of 2006

Here are links to all my "fire" posts (in chronological order) for anyone who wants to read the story:

Sometimes there simply are no words....

The Smoke Clears

What a Diffence a Week Makes

...and I'd been feeling so much better about it all...

"Thank You!" - two small words that encompass a universe of gratitude

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Thank You!" - two small words that encompass a universe of gratitude...

Thank You!

And "THANK YOU!" to all of you who prayed, sent bright light, sent positive vibes - it all worked, and I thank you all, little ones!

Monday, August 07, 2006

...and I'd been feeling so much better about it all...

I really was feeling like I was moving forward from all the fire crap, and then I received these 3 pictures via email today (don't know who to attribute them to). Talk about a gut punch.... These are all aerial images of a small portion of the Spotted Tail fire, taken mid-week last week I would guess. The little smoke column you see was the woodchip pile at CSC - it burned for quite a while. It is painfully obvious how close we came to disaster here in Chadron. The burned area goes on south and a bit east for about 10 miles....

Cherish where you are and what you have in this life every day, little ones, cuz it can all go up in smoke in a heartbeat....

Friday, August 04, 2006

What a Difference a Week Makes....

It's very hard for me to believe that one short week ago today we were in the jaws of hell here. Today the skies are blue with fluffy white clouds hanging about, a light breeze (ash-laden yes, but a light breeze nonetheless).... sitting in my basement office I can almost convince myself it has all been a horrible nightmare.

But, alas, it is all too real. I spent some time this afternoon putting together an album of all the photos I have taken so far, beginning with some pictures from 7/27 when the fires in the panhandle had just started and going through our "tour" of the Spotted Tail burn area yesterday afternoon. Click here for the album of my photos to date.

Last night at the community meeting, the Lt. Governor of Nebraska spoke a bit - he said, "The face of the community has changed [forever], but the heart and the value [are] the same." How very true....

I cannot stress enough the need for financial assistance and fencing materials here. Please refer to the posts below for information on how you can help - and DO consider helping!

As before, one day at a time, little ones, and I KNOW we'll get there....

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Smoke Clears

Well, little ones, things are looking better here in Dawes County today. They have 80% containment on the Dawes County Complex fires and are downgrading to a Type III team to keep a watchful eye on the fires to make sure they burn out in their contained areas (and don't jump containment lines and spread again). I do wish the news was as good for the Sioux County fires (by Harrison); they are only 25% contained and continue to burn out of control. We had rain throughout the northern panhandle region last night and that helped a lot, but not enough. Things are supposed to warm up again the rest of this week, which isn't really the best news for the firefighters still on the front lines.

I drove a bit south yesterday (didn't think to take my camera, but I'll go back out with it soon), and the view was, well, harsh. My head sings with happiness that the firefighters have been able to tame the beasts, but my heart weeps at the devastation of the forest and rangeland. I know come next spring the grasses will return, but all the common sense and knowledge of what's to come cannot quell the sadness of what is lost.

Many area ranchers are already planning to sell off their entire herds, as their pastureland and hay fields are all burned and they have no place to even put the cattle. It may well take a few years for the cattle ranchers in this area to recover from all this....

I ventured out with my camera this morning and took photos as Sprocket and I took one of our usual walking routes; check out this morning's photos here. These show ONLY the area south of the campus where the fire threatened to burn into town on Friday night, and they depict about 1/1000th of the area burned in just the Spotted Tail fire. Note the house on the hill that was saved (just one of many)...the firefighters did AWESOME work that night! Only 3 homes were lost...amazing....

There are photo galleries back up on again, and the local newspaper has some good articles and photos online as well.

Please consider donating to the Dawes-Sioux Fire Fund to help us pay for these fires, rehabilitate the land, help the victims of the fires (homeowners, ranchers, farmers), and help the many amazing volunteer fire departments that literally saved us in these fires. You can mail your donations to: Dawes-Sioux Fire Fund, P.O. Box 1125, Chadron, NE 69337, USA.

Thank you all so much, little ones, for your prayers, bright light, positive energy, and good thoughts for us here in the northern Nebraska panhandle. Please keep 'em coming, cuz' we all aren't out the flames just yet....

Update 8/03/06: It gets a little better every day here. The Dawes County Complex fires are 90% contained; the current estimated of total acres burned is 27,954. The northern Nebraska panhandle is in dire need of fencing materials (traditional and electric) to help area ranchers rebuild the burned fences. You can donate money to the Dawes-Sioux Fire Fund (address above) to help cover the cost of these much-needed fencing materials or you can deliver materials donations to the Crawford Livestock Market, located on West Beach St. in Crawford, or contact them toll free at (866) 665-2220 or at 308-665-2220. Donations of fencing items, hay, and other livestock feed will be accepted at the Crawford Livestock Market drop site.

Yesterday afternoon another fire broke out northwest of Harrison on the Ogalala National Grasslands; it grew from 300 acres to 1,000 acres in 30 minutes, but it was contained by last night. The Sioux County fires are still burning and not as contained as the Dawes County fires, but progress is being made.

I drove around this afternoon with my husband and took pictures...I'll get them up tomorrow. It was an amazing site, especially to see how damn close the fire came to jumping Highway 385 south of Chadron and Highway 20 east of Chadron in several different spots, how close it came to homes in several spots, and how hot it burned in some spots. There are still hot spots in the fire areas, and we did see an engine heading out to one of those hot-spot areas. We really are damn lucky Chadron is still here and so few homes were lost....

One day at a time, right? Keep the prayers coming, and please do consider sending in a donation. Stay positive, little ones!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sometimes there simply are no words....

I am living in hell right now, and it's a damn scary place. I have no knowledge or wisdom to impart at this moment...I'm just too scared. This picture (taken by Con Marshall) is of a location 3 blocks south of my home last night; the tall building outlined is a student dormitory at Chadron State College. Thankfully, the fire was contained on this front before it breached the college buildings and could move into town. It is still raging out of control to the east and south of town and another fire is raging out of control to the south and west of town, as are two other large fires in the northwestern Panhandle region of Nebraska (USA) where I live. Pray for rain, little ones, lots and lots of rain....

Update 7/30/06: The town is safe, but the fire is raging out of control south of town, and all the homes and the state park in that area have been evacuated; three homes have been lost and four damaged so far. There is no end in sight - the fire incident commander says it could be 2 to 3 weeks before they have things under control, and that's assuming more fires don't start. The weather is not our friend right now. You can follow the news of these fires on our local radio station's web site at

Should you feel so inclined, a fund has been set up to help those affected by all the fires in Dawes and Sioux Counties here in Nebraska:

In a press release delivered to KCSR radio Sunday morning (7/30/06) it was announced that a fund is being set up for both victims and the volunteers impacted by the recent wildfires in Dawes and Sioux Counties.

The release says the wildfires in Dawes and Sioux Counties have severely impacted many people, both the victims and volunteers. The communities recognize the financial burden and have established a relief fund. The purpose of the fund is to provide emergency financial relief and support to victims and volunteers impacted by the fires in Dawes and Sioux counties.

Financial donations may be sent or delivered to any financial institution in Dawes or Sioux counties. The donations may be also be mailed to Dawes-Sioux Fire Fund, P.O. Box 1125, Chadron, NE 69337, USA.

Please keep praying for rain, little ones....

Update 7/31/06: Things are not a whole lot better today, I fear. Containment of the Spotted Tail fire (south east of Chadron) is happening, but the Roberts fire (south west of Chadron) is out of control and moving south and west and more people have been evacuated. But it's the town of Harrison (50 miles west of Chadron) that is directly in harm's way today. The Thayer fire (north east of Harrison) is growing in all directions and heading for Harrison; the entire town has been told to be ready to evacuate, and evacuation plans are in place. The Rudloff fire (further south east of Harrison) is out of control as well. The weather has changed, temperatures have dropped, humidity is up, but so are the winds. Thunderstorms are in the forecast, and while that does mean rain, it also means lightning....please, please, please keep praying for rain, little ones.

This photo is of "C Hill" on the south end of the CSC campus (taken by CSC staff), which was burned in the fire Friday night. I drove a short way south of town today and the entire landscape is is a devastating site to see the forest we here in Chadron all love and live in destroyed.

Update 7/31/06, 10pm: Your prayers are working, little ones! The weather has turned cool, the winds have died down, and rain is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. All the areas that had been evacuated have been reopened. All the folks in the know say the worst of it *might* be over! A HUGE sigh of relief can be heard throughout the northern Nebraska panhandle. But just to be on the safe side, please keep those prayers coming, little ones....

Update 8/1/06, 9am: Things are looking SO good this morning! All of the major fires in the nothern Nebraska panhandle are under some level of containment. The mop up for the fires will likely take weeks, but the immediate danger is gone. The weather is cool and rainy across the area this morning, and this has allowed the firefighters to really get things under control. In fact, several of the firefighting teams are headed home today. Last night we drove around part of the burned area (just south of the college campus, where 3 homes were lost, and east of town); the devastation of the area is heartbreaking. The fire burned so hot and so fast that in some areas it burned the pine forest quite literally to ashes; however, in other areas the trees are still standing, though the likelihood that they will die off over time is high. The wildlife that was forced out of the fire areas is all over the place near, and in, town. I think we'll all be dealing with deer, turkeys, little critters, and lots more birds in town until next spring when the grasses at least grow back. I will eventually get some picture up of what it looks like around here now.

The local radio station's web site crashed yesterday because it was getting 400,000 hits per hour, so they had to remove the picture galleries for now. You can find pictures and information of the fire on campus on the CSC web site at, and information and pictures of the Dawes County fires at

Thank you all for your prayers, little ones; now, send out a huge shout of thanks to all the firefighters and volunteers who have worked so hard for us here in the northern Nebraska panhandle. I am quite convinced they are all angels!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


"BFF" (Best Friend[s] Forever) is a phrase (or abbreviation) tossed about in the current entertainment media so much that it is almost a throw-away term with no meaning any more. How very sad, because real, honest-and-true BFFs are pure gold. I have many BFFs in my life and I know what a joyous gift they are.

What brought me to this subject was a phone call I made just yesterday to one of my oldest and dearest friends on this earth. She and I met when we were five or six years old, and we have been true and fast friends ever since. We went to school together, roomed together part of the time we were in college, and have maintained a solid gold friendship in the intervening decades. We are the kind of friends that can not talk for months and months, then pick up right where we left off when we do finally connect again. We have lived far apart for decades, but the gods have seen fit to toss us back into the same region now where we are only a short day's drive apart. I have no doubt there any many new adventures for us on the horizon, and the times we do connect will start to increase.

I know from wonderful experience that a true BFF IS forever, and with your BFF you will always feel ageless, empowered, and loved. So develop and nourish those friendships, little ones - make all the BFFs you can - for they really are golden!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #6

This was taken on the Buffalo Bill Dam, Southfork side, west of Cody, Wyoming, in March 2006. I call it "Solitude: A Boy and His Dog."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Words To Live By #4: You Get What You Give'll shower you with love or bite you in the @ss - it all depends on YOU. Another of my many life mantras is "you get what you give." If you toss anger, negativity, and pessimism out to the cosmos, it will fly right back at ya and whop you upside the head. But if you toss love, positive energy, good deeds, and optimism to the cosmos, you will be rewarded with waves of good energy, good fortune, and love.

I've lived long enough to know how true this is, little ones. So make wise, well-thought-out, positive choices in your life; be a glass-half-full person; look for the silver lining, or better yet, MAKE the silver lining happen.

You get with you give, little ones, so give only the best!

Thursday, July 13, 2006


We all have 'em ... some lurk in the shadows, others shine in the daylight ... but wherever they may dwell, they are inextricably a part of each of us.

My obsessions cover a myriad of things ... mountains (that's probably one of the strongest), food (which explains why there's about 2x more of me today than there was 25 years ago), authors and their words (LOVE Annie Proulx, Mark Spragg, Janet Evanovich, Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs...), musicians and their tunes (Prince, k.d. lang, Frank Zappa, Norah Jones, Chris Issak, Elton John, Dixie Chicks...), actors (Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Johnny Depp, Sean Connery, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts...), movies (Brokeback Mountain, Reds, Purple Rain, The Godfather, Sleepless in Seattle...). Obsessions are fun to feed, but the coolest thing about obsessions is the way they make you learn. You become obsessed with something/ someone/ whatever, and you begin searching out everything you can on that obsession (god bless the Internet for providing such a wealth of pertinent information, as well as ungodly amounts of likely inaccurate information, but interesting crap nonetheless).

Obsessions are, I think, a necessary part of life. Just keep your obsessions at a healthy level of curiosity (stay far, far away from letting your obsessions take control of your life, please), and you'll be amazed at what you might learn along the way.

So go on, little ones, obsess away (in moderation, of course)!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Difference Between Guys and Gals

A few incidents occurred this past week that really illustrated the difference between the male and the female psyches. The first story involves a car and a cat: A girl accidentally hits a cat that runs out in the street in front of her car; she is so upset by the incident that she forgets what the purpose of her trip in the car was and drive homes, very upset. A guy accidentally hits a cat that runs out the int street in front of his car, and he backs up and runs over it again to be sure it's dead. Ewwww... that visual was not pleasant, but I understand the philosophy. (Do not bother to post comments about the thoughtlessness, brutality, etc., of the guy point of view, cuz I'll just delete 'em - cuz I can... there's a little bit of "guy philosophy" in me, too.)

The second incident happened at 11:39 pm Friday night: Our son comes home, says "A bunch of us guys are going camping out by Bordeaux Creek - we'll be back in the morning." He grabs a sleeping bag, they toss a futon mattress in the bed of a truck, and off they go. I was amazed at this spur-of-the-moment adventure, and it got me to thinking about camping adventures I had when I was his age. We would plan for weeks, writing menus, shopping for food, packing all the right clothes (warm clothes in case it got cold, shorts and swimsuits in case it was hot, at least 3 pairs of shoes, coats, boots), getting a big tent from one of our fathers, sleeping bags, cots (we never slept on the ground - heaven forbid!), lanterns... it was a bloody danged expedition! We could have never gone off on the spur of the moment - there was too much to do, too much to take.... I think we might have been missing the point, don't you?! And as bad as my friends and I were, my sister and her buddies were worse - they'd do all the same planning, then pitch a tent in our backyard, run an extension cord (or 2 or 3) through the bathroom window, and take out a TV and a lamp - then they'd spend a few nights "roughing it" in the backyard.

The third incident involved the simple question of a male to a female of "How are you feeling?" She told him how she was feeling, and he was rather dumbfounded by that... he said when you ask a guy that question, the only answer you ever get is "Fine," or "Crappy" explanation, no dialogue, just a one-word answer.

Oh yes, little ones, there ARE major differences between guys and gals ...and we're not talkin' physical differences - those can be counted and itemized - we are talkin' psychological differences, and they are infinite. Be afraid, little ones, be very afraid....

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #5

This photograph was taken by me at sunset from the deck of the vacation home we rented in Estes Park, Colorado, during our May 2006 vacation. I call it "The Storm Approaches."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

This IS a Best Day Ever

My little bird flew back home today, safe and sound. He and his buddy had a wonderful adventure, managed to keep out of trouble, and only got lost once. Having him home safely definitely makes this a "best day ever."

Oh, and for those of you waiting for the "Sprocket in the big blue monster pool" pictures, it will be a while yet. It's finally hot enough to do it, but with all the fireworks going off all day (and night) around here, Sprock's not too keen on being outside right now. I'm aiming for late next week....

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Best Day Ever?!?

Yesterday was a really great day for me. I won't bore you with details, suffice it to say it was a REALLY good day with some really wonderful things happening with the "Addicted To The Movie CANDY" project I'm involved with. But at the end of the day, as I lay in bed thinking about things, I came to the realization that as good as the day had been, it didn't hold a candle to all my other "best days ever."

All the "best days ever" in my life, I realized, came about from small, wonderful (and wonder-filled) moments like finding my engagement ring in the bouquet of carnations (well, only after much prodding from my intended - I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer sometimes), sharing my very first trip to Disneyworld with my husband on our belated honeymoon, feeling my baby kick for the first time (whoa...felt like an alien was inside!), every "first" I ever experienced with my child - first smile (yeah, it was probably gas, but still), first word ("dah-do" for dog), first steps (oh why was I so anxious for him to be mobile?!), first day of school (and every subsequent first-day-of-the-new-school-year), watching him play sports (all those years as a soccermom watching my goalkeeper, now watching my football player), drives in the country with my family, long phone conversations with my dad when I would catch him at home but mom would be out (oh how I miss those...), visits to my mom's, quiet moments watching mountain sunsets with my husband, taking walks with Sprocket and learning how to really experience the world around me, falling asleep beside my soul mate. Yep, all of that makes for an infinite number of "best days ever."

And to think, there's so many more to come!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Let Him Fly....

Well, today's the day I must practice what I preach. My one-and-only child headed off this morning with his best buddy to Lincoln, clear the h*ll across the state, for a short visit with friends. It's his first big solo road trip. Waving goodbye as his car pulled out of the driveway this morning was d*mned hard, but I did it.

Find your bliss, get outside your box, fly little ones ...all themes I have addressed here before and fully believe in. And now I find myself swallowing my apprehension and letting him fly ...kudos for me, don'tcha think?!

He's growin' up, my little one is ...and so am I....

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Go Get 'em, Sprocket!

Sprocket-the-wonder-dog is a never-ending source of entertainment around here. We have been watching World Cup matches every day, and every danged time a whistle blows (which, if you watch any World Cup matches, you know happens often), he starts barking and runs for the back door. Um, Sprock, do you think the whistle is in the backyard? And if it is, what in the world will you do when you find it?!

As much fun as it is to see him go off, it doesn't come close to the unabandoned laughter he invokes in us when he reacts to another dog or cat on TV - the barking or meowing drives him totally over the edge, and his reactions take us right over that edge with him.

Sprocket d@mn entertainment for the dollar, I'd say. ;)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

In honor of Father's Day, here's Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #4, taken up the Southfork outside of Cody, Wyoming, this past March...I call it "Sentinels."

Friday, June 16, 2006

The World Stops....

You've seen those great commercials for the World Cup, where they say "...the world stops for 30 days" when they talk about the World Cup. Well, I guess here in the US that's probably not as true as it is everywhere else in the world, but we've always been a bit slow in the uptake over here, so what can you expect?

This home is a true soccer home - Austin played for 11 years before circumstances and geographical limits caused him to quit (though he still plays for the sheer fun of it whenever he can) - and we have been supporters of collegiate soccer and professional soccer for years. Right now, this household is truly in World Cup mode - rearranging schedules to catch the games on TV - watching every single game we can, regardless of team, for the pure enjoyment of seeing world-level players in action.

Passionate supporters of certain teams, members of this household have been seen shouting like maniacs at the TV - both in excited support and angry disagreement - throwing pretzels at the TV in frustration, and showing our true colors by wearing jerseys of favorite players/teams.

The world stops, indeed, and takes time to witnesses joyous sport and athletic perfection.... And for those of you who don't "get it," you just don't know what you're missing. Soccer/Futbol ROCKS!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Ever-So-Brave Sprocket

Oh, to have had a video camera today! Austin brought home a blue kids swimming/wading pool today - got it from a friend that is moving to Las Vegas (I think the friend is gonna be sorry he gave it away). He put it on the deck and didn't give it a second thought ...until we let Sprocket outside this afternoon.

I glanced out as I shut the deck door and saw Sprocket moving v e r y slowly across the deck, watching that silly blue pool with rapt attention and barking his little head off. He slunk across the deck, down the stairs into the yard, stood about 20 feet away from where the pool was on the deck... and barked like a banshee. Over the course of the next 5 minutes, he worked up the courage to venture closer to the deck where the pool was sitting, sniffing through the railing of the deck and barking, of course.

Our oh-so-brave little Schipperke finally worked up the nerve to climb back up the deck stairs and venture closer to the actual object of his terror. He circled the pool, giving it a VERY wide berth ...and eventually he tossed caution to the wind the sniffed it, standing as far away from it as possible and l e a n i n g toward it (I had no idea a Schipperke could stretch like that!). Of course, after that exploratory sniff, he ran away from the pool, off the deck, and into the yard barking his head off again. It took about 10 more minutes before he worked up the nerve to come back up on the deck and into the house... all the while watching that horrible blue monster out the corner if his eye....

I can't wait until tomorrow ...we're gonna fill the pool and put him in it. I've got to at least get my camera out for that!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Important Parenting Tip #2: Pick Your Fights

Sometimes we argue (OK, fight) with our kids over the damnedest things. Sally wants to wear a short skirt and/or crop top (like we never wore short skirts or crop tops, or worse, back in the day?! Good god, remember hot pants?!?!), Sammy wants to cut his hair in a mohawk (he'll look silly, but it WILL grow out, ya know), Suzie wants to dye her hair pink and green (OK, she'll look like a dang watermelon, but it will grow out, just like Sammy's mohawk), Susan wears too much makeup (oh yeah, right, you never did that, did you?!?!), Shawn's choice in music is horrible and he plays it too loud (and your parents loved your music choices?! and you never played your music loud, did you?!).

The thing is, you need to learn to pick your fights. Is it really necessary to fight with and/or punish your kids over things that are not permanent? things that may be stupid ideas/choices, but not life-altering? Hair grows out, clothes are just clothes (granted, you don't want 'em running about nearly nekkid, but as long as the important parts are covered, it's all good), makeup washes off eventually, and music choices have been known to mature over time....

The time to fight, to be loud (or quiet, whatever works for you), to stand your ground is when the choice being considered has much more far-reaching effects - like going to a party you feel is not on the up-and-up, spending time with a "friend" that you know/feel is a very bad influence, or doing something permanent to his/her body, like getting a tattoo or body piercing before they are legally old enough to do so in your state. OK, with that last one, even if they ARE legally old enough, it might be worth fighting about....

Anyway, learn now to pick your fights, little ones - it'll save you time and stress down the line, I promise.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

12,000 Feet Above Sea Level

This past week I was in paradise...vacationing in Estes Park, Colorado, and Rocky Mountain National Park. For me, there is no place on this earth I would rather be than in the mountains (any mountains).

So there we are, 12,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by absolutely breathtaking views, pristine clear (albeit thin) mountain air, blue skies and fluffy clouds that stretched forever... and cigarette smoke. Yep, standing in the parking lot at the Alpine Visitors Center at the top of Trial Ridge Road (the highest paved highway in the continental U.S.) were all sorts of idiots getting out of and into their automobiles smoking cigarettes. Being the subtle, kind, thoughtful person I am, I of course had to comment on their questionable choices. "Here you are, in the purest air you will likely EVER experience, and you have the audacity to pollute it - not to mention your lungs - with your bloody cigarettes?!?!" All it got me was some questioning looks, a couple of nasty stares, and one "I can smoke if I want to!" To which I sweetly replied, "Of course you can, and you can also suffer the effects of your choice one day...slowly and painfully, perhaps."

I simply cannot begin to understand why you would "have" to light up a cigarette in such a majestic natural cathedral. Smoke in your car (but never if you have passengers, especially children, with you), smoke in your home, your office, but do NOT smoke outside and pollute my air! ...idiots....

And don't even get me started on smokers' habits of treating the world as their ashtrays, tossing out cigarette butts willy nilly ...especially here in the drought-stricken western U.S. ....idiots, indeed!
OK, I'll get off my soapbox (for a while). We now return you to your regular programming....

The Sleepwalker

When my son was a young 'un (between 3 and 6 years old), he would sometimes sleepwalk. At the moment he was born I became a light sleeper, so I always heard him when he was wondering about in the wee hours. One time I found him standing in our little home office, looking around the room in the dark for his bed, trying to get into the desk...I guided him back to his room and tucked him back in bed. Luckily, his sleepwalking excursions never involved leaving the house or heading toward the basement stairs.

The most memorable sleepwalking episode happened one fall night when he was around 6 years old. I heard him wandering about, so I got out of bed and started looking for him. I didn't see him right away, but I heard some very strange noises coming from the bathroom, so I went in. The shower curtain was open a bit, and there he stood in the bathtub, calling out football signals. It was all I could do not to laugh out loud. ;) I helped him out of the tub, took him back to his room, and tucked him back in bed. To this day, he has no memory of any of his sleepwalking episodes, but I sure do. Hut one, hut two!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Words to Live By #3: Get Out of Your Box

"If you don't get out of the box you've been raised in, you won't understand how much bigger the world is. "
--Angelina Jolie

I'm certainly not a "Brangelina" fan, but Ms. Jolie has a very good point. If you keep the boundaries of your life small, you'll live a small life. The world is a big place and your boundaries - be they physical, emotional, educational, spiritual ...whatever boundaries you may have - should be big as well. Sometimes I hear folks say, "I was born and raised here, never felt the need to leave." Well, OK, I guess if that works for you, fine. But how can you ever know anything about the world outside your box if you never leave it?! How can you form any opinions about things outside your box if you never leave it?! How can you experience life to the fullest inside that d*mn box?! It's a big world out there, little ones, and you need to get out of your boxes and FLY!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Random Photos of Breathtaking Beauty #3

These were all taken in my yard this afternoon:

Just makes ya smile, doesn't it?!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Find Your Bliss

One of my (many) mantras is find your bliss. Find out what you love to do, what gives you great pleasure and satisfaction in terms of a job well done, and figure out a way to make that your life's work. I have rather harped on my son for a while now to "find his bliss" in terms of his education, and I do hope one day the message sticks. ;)

I was thinking about this today, about finding your bliss and making it your life's work, in terms of those that choose careers that happen to be in the public eye and the crap they have to deal with in that fishbowl. Just because your bliss is, for example, acting that doesn't mean you have given up your right to live a private life at the expense of that bliss. Conversely, just because your bliss is being a papparazzi or a gossip columnist doesn't mean you have the inherent right to interfere with ANYONE's private life, ever. Find your bliss, by all means, but do it in a polite, considerate, and circumspect way, please.

If you read the first entry in this blog, you know that I am on a journey to find my bliss, to live a true life. You must alway remember that finding your bliss is a journey, not a destination. Now, go out there and start finding your bliss, little ones!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #2

This photo is from a trip my family took to Rocky Mountain National Park a few years ago:

Monday, May 15, 2006

...But Sprocket Stays!

My son attended the local high school's graduation ceremonies yesterday and came home talking about "when I graduate next year..." and "I wanna have an open house and invite...." OK, that had me already panicking over empty-nest syndrome, visions of him only coming home for visits, not actually living here any longer wandering around his room, hearing only empty echoes, checking my e-mail for messages from him....

Then this morning he was again talking about "the future" and Sprocket came bouncing into the living room. I said, "You are NOT taking Sprocket to college, even after you get your own place and don't live in the dorms after your freshman year." It's bad enough my one and only child will be leaving me in another year, but not my dog, too!!!
"But he's MY dog," he said. "I paid for him and he's mine."
"I'll pay you for him," I said, "I'll pay you what you paid, I promise."
"Really? You'd pay me for him?!"
"Yes! He's mine and you cannot take him with you, ever!"
"OK, as long as you'll pay me." ...little capitalist

Whew, that's a load off my mind...I'm sooooo not ready to have a EMPTY empty nest. So in the fall of 2007, when my baby leaves home, at least I'll still have good ol' Sprocket to keep me company ...even if he will cost me a fortune. ;)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Important Parenting Tip #1: Read!

One of the most wonderful things you can do for and with your child is to read to him/her. When my son was about six months old, I started reading to him every afternoon before his nap and as he got older we added a nighttime story to the mix. When he was a toddler, he and I would go to the library every two weeks and get 10 or 15 books at a time. He loved to scour the shelves and find new books to read each time, as well as old favorites. He loved to sit and look at the books on his own, as well as have me read them to him. We didn't often have any extra money back then for toys, but I could always find extra money for books if he found one or two he wanted. Once he entered school, our afternoon reading times were gone but the nighttime reading stayed a part of our lives until he was in the sixth grade... and I was rather devastated when it finally ended. Our reading time was magical for me, and I hope for him.

There is no doubt in my mind that our reading time and his exposure to the written word all his life have helped him in his education in so many, many ways. He loves to read, he's a total brain in school, and his taste in authors is very sophisicated. For the past several years, he has asked for a book or two for Christmas; it started four years ago with Homer's The Illiad and The Odyssey, then Stephen Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell and The Illustrated History of Time, then Dante's The Divine Comedy, this past year it was Honoré de Balzac's Droll Stories and Les Contes Drolatiques. Shoot, he's introduced me to authors I'd never heard of or thought about before! And to think, it all started with afternoon reading time when he was six months old.

So, give your child the gift of reading; you, and your child, will be so much the richer for it!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Words to Live By #2: Make Mistakes

"Always make new mistakes." --Esther Dyson

This is probably the best advice ever! You'll never learn anything or move forward in your life if you keep making the same d*mn mistakes all the time (wish our politicians would learn THAT lesson!). Make new mistakes as you tackle new adventures each day, and you'll be on your way!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sprocket's Lessons

Sprocket has been a part of our lives for almost two years now, and in that time he has taught us a lot:

1. Life is all about play. No matter what things you think must be attended to, nothing is more important in the moment than play, so drop whatever it is you are doing and play; you'll feel so much better for doing it.

2. Walks are not just for walking. Every morning Sprocket and I go for a walk. In the beginning, I mistakenly thought walks were just that...walking. Over time, Sprocket has taught me that walks are really for exploring, discovering, smelling, listening, enjoying, and - most important of all - peeing on everything. ;)

3. Naps matter. Good, quality naps are a necessity. After the walks and the play, it is mandatory that you find just the right spot - be it the grass in front of the shed, the deck just outside the patio door, the ceramic tile entryway when it's hot ('cuz the tile's always cold), the little lambskin dogbed tucked in the corner by the front door, or the pillows on the bed - and get really comfortable (on your back with your belly up seems to be the most comfy) and sleep. Snoring is optional.

4. Unconditional love is truly heaven. Even when Sprocket has done something naughty and been disciplined for it, he still loves unconditionally. He holds no grudges, ever. And that, my friends, is the best lesson of all.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #1

This photo is from a trip I took with a dear friend - who is an awesome photographer - to Rocky Mountain National Park in April 2005 :