Category: Etc.

Transition Land–Taking a Risk

I have been busy this summer taking a vacation. I have worked hard at it! I have had regular therapy  Skype sessions with my friend, Karelyn, who is transitioning right along with me, from the same boss and same job! I have completed numerous crafty projects and books, spent hours on the piano playing Bach, Mozart, Hadyn, and (gasp) Chopin and Schumann. Right before we went camping, I finally took a risk. I designed a website/blog for teaching piano and (here’s the risk part….) I sent the link to the area Suzuki teachers and both the homeschool groups to post on Facebook. I know what you are thinking…that was a risk? Yep it was. 

The past several months, I have spent my time developing some wonderful friendships with you in Blog Land, and I can not express my gratitude to all of you adequately. You have become my colleagues, friends and cyber neighbors, and I would do this all again if that was the only way I would have met you! I have been tightly sequestered since March 22, with no one able to reach me except for people at church and two contacts from work. So, you have been my safe place, and have blessed me with your wonderful, normal, and sometimes funny presence!

 It may have been a little odd to be so closed off, but I needed time, and I realize I still need time. My 4-H kids and contacts are everywhere, and the constant explanation and reopening of the wound would have been detrimental to the necessary healing, so I have barely left home when we are in town, except to go with DH to pay bills, get groceries, etc. I was just not ready to be outside my safe bubble and meet a 4-H family out on the street and have to be fine. I think I am still a few months from that if I am honest! In spite of that, I have NOT been bored or very pensive here at home!

Some of my new friends may be feeling really confused now, so let me quickly recap. In mid February my boss drove 400 miles to hand me a letter saying he chose not to renew my contract on June 21. So, after 31 years as a 4-H professional, and 27 in South Dakota, I was essentially fired. By not renewing my contract, he didn’t have to justify the decision to anyone. My colleague, Karelyn received a similar letter a few days later. We decided to quit March 21 instead of hanging around until June. 

So back to that “risk.” Since publishing it, I have had traffic on the site, and actually have a new student already! I started with basic info and a contact page, and have it set up so that I can post to the blog portion as I make decisions about schedules, fees and studio policies. Those posts will now become items I can share through Facebook, which will allow my current parents to point others to my page. It’s a new kind of “word of mouth.” Last night I had another inquiry, so I am guardedly optimistic that this endeavor will indeed work!

Now that I have a plan formulating, it is much easier to think about what the fall may bring, and being out and about. 😉

Mountain Vistas

Mountain Vistas

The Big Horn Mountains contain wonderful high meadows, forests and snow at the tops of the highest peaks. During our camping trip we enjoyed the cooler temperatures and the wonderful vistas. I especially loved the variety of the mountain flora. Click any photo for a larger picture.

We did some hiking, and enjoyed some gorgeous views, especially during the hike into the Cloud Peak Wilderness.



There were some incredible trout fishing areas here, though neither of us fish. We just enjoyed the gorgeous scenery!

We were also treated to some interesting wildlife. The chipmunks and squirrels enjoyed teasing Max, driving him to distraction at times. I was able to capture one cheeky squirrel who had no fear.


But the best was seeing Mama Moose and her baby one afternoon. They were just across the road from our campsite, browsing along the river.

It was a welcome respite from the hot days in Rapid City, where temperatures have been in the mid to upper 90’s (35-37 Celsius) for a week, and are expected to continue indefinitely, with no rain.

We camped at two different places, one very near a bubbling creek, which Max the dog LOVED. He kept hopping in and laying in it, then chasing squirrels, hopping in again, etc. We finally had to put him on his chain so that he would dry off before bed time! The second was at a Forest Service campsite, which had the standard picnic table, trash, bathrooms and potable water. We have a Berkey water filter, so we have the option of camping anywhere there is a water source. (We use it at home too, to remove many of the chemicals from the city water.)

We have a great time cooking while we camp; here’s what we ate:

Friday supper: Red beans and rice with Andouille sausage, which was made ahead at home, and warmed up over the Coleman propane stove, which we use to prepare the morning coffee while the fire is readied for cooking breakfast.

Saturday: Sausage patties and pancakes made over the campfire for breakfast and roast beef with mixed vegetables made over the coals for supper.

Sunday:  Bacon, eggs and biscuits for breakfast, and green chili beef burritos with refried beans for supper (from the leftover roast beef, and peach pie for dessert. (I should have taken a picture!)

Monday: Sausage patties with fried potatoes and onions for breakfast, and pepperoni pizza for supper. DSCN1137

We have a cast iron griddle, skillet and Dutch oven, which really expands what you can do with a campfire! If anyone is really interested, I will do a post on how I prep for these types of camping meals. They are a fun challenge, and really yummy!

We had a great time cooling off, and just enjoying creation, but it was good to get back today and get everything cleaned up. I am going to enjoy a very long shower here in a bit!

Gone Camping!

Every summer we try to take at least one weekend and camp in the Big Horn mountains in northern Wyoming. We are leaving this morning and will return on Tuesday.

We will be taking an Internet holiday, so I’ll be out of touch for a bit, but hope to have some gorgeous photos of my beloved Rocky Mountains when I return.

Until then, I’ll leave you with this photo, which I hope to copy on one of our hikes!

Favorite Things

I’m not planning to tour you around the entire campus, nor subject you to piles of graduation photos, but I am going to share some things that I found to be favorites of the week.

Being at the ocean, and seeing this little guy and all his friends coming in with the tide.

The mosaics on the buildings on the Stanford campus. They were very detailed and beautiful.

I did see some redwoods, though not the forest, due to special events creating all sorts of issues in the park that weekend. I think it was just as well, because these small ones, were kind of scary; I can’t imagine looking up at a 2000 year old tree. And, we did cross the Golden Gate bridge which is more red than gold.

Magnolia Trees! The buds are bigger than my fist, and the smell was amazing. I have never seen such huge flowers, they are incredible!

Seeing one of the original castings of “The Thinker” by Rodin.

Seeing Girl #2’s home away from home. She lived in Roble Hall for 3 years, which was built in 1898! The rooms had been updated, but still had a vintage feel. Old doors and hardware in the sleeping room, which just held two single beds with room to change! The living area had a bay window with a window seat and their desks, along with newer armoires.

Having my whole family together!And yes, that is the dress, which was still holding up well after 6 hours in 102 degree heat!

And, of course, seeing my Girl #2 graduate!! (not my photo, a friend of hers took this)

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Further Westward Ho!

Or maybe how far west can you go, would be a better title! Day 2 started with the long drive across the Nevada desert. How long? Long enough to knit an entire dishcloth and almost finish the leg on a 15 inch boot sock!

More specifically, it is 400 miles and change across Nevada, and the terrain doesn’t change much. It is a high desert plateau, covered with sage brush and not much wildlife. There must be elk, because we had three elk crossings on the interstate…the road goes through a giant, but very short culvert, with an elk passage over the top! No surprise that, because elk can be a little larger than a horse, not a good thing to meet at high speed! Nevada is made much bearable by the fact that the posted speed limit is 80mph, though the traffic flow was averaging 90 to 100 mph.

I kept looking for the mountains as I knew them from growing up in Colorado, but they didn’t look anything like that. Finally, just outside of Sparks/Reno they came into view, still with plenty of snow. Suddenly we were in the mountains, with coniferous trees all around, and going down the pass. We had now crossed into California, and the the ride down the west side of the Sierras was a little hair raising. There was some road work in progress, and suddenly the entire westward lane came to a complete stop. I’m not real keen about stop and go traffic on a 6% grade.

Had the traffic been a little less busy, we would have stopped at the rest area for some good pictures and a snowball fight. Those of you in the Eastern U.S. will laugh, but we South Dakotans think the traffic out here is insane!

Once we exited the Sierras, we were suddenly in a wide valley, filled with all sorts of crops. The photo I successfully caught was grapes. Since this is not the valley famous for its wine, I am guessing these were grapes for juice, jam, etc. but I don’t know for certain. We started into another set of hills which really shocked me, because they are totally brown! DH explained that California lost its native grasses long ago, and now only have annuals. Their season is already over, so they have already gone dormant. It also explained how wildfires get out of hand so quickly in this country! The hillsides were filled with windmills.

While it wasn’t the same day, we’ll continue down to the ocean. I’ve seen the Pacific once in the late fall on a very cold and gray day, so seeing the ocean in June was a treat. I was surprised by the wind, it is constant and pretty strong. The sand was incredibly soft and warm which made up for the cool ocean breeze. It was a glorious day and the hour we spent there was wonderful! I found a few shells and a broken sand dollar as a memento. Watching the tide come in was fascinating!


Again, these aren’t great photos, but they give you a flavor of our trip west. I get one more group up with some photos of the beautiful campus and things that amazed me.

 Westward Ho!

It has been quite awhile since we’ve been on a road trip to a place I have never been, and I am very excited to see some new country. Of course, I have plenty along to keep me occupied when I’m not driving…books on my iPad, both to read and to listen to, my Peace sweater sleeve, a sock for DH, needles and yarn for dish cloths, and several magazines.

However, to days was about the countryside with a little knitting on the side. These aren’t the best pictures, but I know many of you have not seen our western landscapes so I wanted to give you an idea!

We left at 5:30 in the morning, and our first stop was Edgemont, SD about 10 miles from Wyoming. It’s very green right now, and the pastures are full of native plants. Yellow sweet clover is quite prevalent here.

Wyoming was green and the countryside was rugged yet beautiful. We headed south from Lusk, to Guernsey, which happens to have some of the most magnificent ruts from the Oregon Trail still around. We didn’t stop this trip, but I have a photo at home I can share if people are really interested.

At Laramie we picked up Interstate 80, which will take us all the way to San Francisco. I was amazed to see that the green countryside continued, as southern Wyoming is very dry. We drove across the Great Divide Basin, so crossed the continental divide twice. The basin is a huge, wide valley at higher elevation. It doesn’t really look like the Rocky Mountains I think of, but it was some interesting country.


Next, we crossed the Red Desert, and drove within a stone’s throw of the north end of the flaming gorge. You can see some of the interesting formations that mark the most northern tip along the interstate.


We crossed the border into Utah, heading towards Salt Lake City. The mountains begin to show in earnest now, and we saw a lot of red rock. I snapped these at the rest stop about 25 miles east of Salt Lake City.


The Great Salt Lake was very blue and seemed to go in forever. In this photo it is difficult to tell where the lake ends and the mountains begin!


We decided to keep driving since it was only 5:00pm, so crossed the Great Salt Desert, which is 60 miles of white salt. At the very end is the Bonneville Race Track, where many of the land speed records have been set. I would hate to cross that in the heat of summer!


As I gazed at the country side, I couldn’t help but think about the pioneers crossing much of the same areas in wagons, managing only 20 miles each day! What stamina and determination they had to go west! By contrast, we put in a 12 hour day and drove 800 miles! 

Memorial Day…

It began as Decoration Day, a neutral title attempting to enjoin the northern and southern states. Abraham Lincoln said it best in his address at the dedication of the gravesite at Gettsburg:

 Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. 

More recently, Dr John McCrae from Canada gave us these eloquent words after World War I:

In Flanders Field 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields. 

Today, we remember…..