Friday, September 17, 2010


Our house is well insulated and we have a good furnace.

 So when the weather looks like this...

 …and this.  We can stay cozy and warm inside.  Although the heating bills are chilling.

But just in case crap happens, we have a back-up plan to survive arctic weather.  We have a little wood stove in the basement where we can cuddle up and enjoy a fire when the nights are long and the toes are icy.

But that means we need firewood.  Stashing wood for the winter is a messy, sweaty job.  The forest service issues inexpensive wood cutting permits; and years ago we would go to the mountains several weekends every summer and saw and haul and stack firewood and bring it home.  That fuel was expensive in so many ways.  Now there is a business not far from here which builds log homes.  They sell the scrap wood cut and blocked so all the guys need to do is bring it home.

 And split it.  Before Beavis came back to live with us, DH and I would rent a mechanical splitter for an afternoon.  It’s the nearest experience to working with explosives I’ve ever had.

 Now our son saves himself a trip to the weight room and does us all a favor by attacking the wood with a splitting maul.

 The remarkable thing is that he can accomplish so much so fast and never lose those pants that are getting too big for him with all the biking and working.

 "Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;

And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock."
(Exerpt from Two Tramps in Mud Time by Robert Frost

 One more cord of wood and we’ll have our stockpile for the winter.

Then DH has to tune up that snow thrower over there on the left.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


My parents spent their life and their health working their farm in Idaho.  The days were long and they never were rich in any material sense of the word.  Although for our family there were blessings beyond measure.

After we children were raised and some of the loans were paid off Mom and Dad were able to take a few trips around the country.  They often traveled with other farm people to other farm places.  On one of these trips they brought back a little whirligig.

 Whirligigs are toys with moving parts that are set in motion by a propeller.  They come in many varieties and were originally created by rural artists out of wood and painted bright colors.

This particular one was in the shape of a farmer with a black and white cow.  When the wind spun the blades, the farmer’s hands would go up and down as if he were milking the cow.   The harder the wind blew the faster he would work.

Dad mounted the whirligig on their gate post.  There the farmer milked his cow any time the wind blew.  When my folks sold the farm and moved to town the dairy man and cow came along.  Dad set it up on a fence post at their new home just a block away from our house.

The winds here can be fierce and it wasn’t long before a blade snapped off the propeller and the whirligig ended up on Dad’s work bench.

Then Dad passed away and, two years ago, Mom went as well.  When I was emptying their house I found the whirligig buried under a pile of tools and rags in their basement.  The paint was almost faded away, but it looked like it could be fixed.

I asked DH to make a new blade for the propeller and I found pictures online from places that made the little pieces of folk art so I could restore the paint to its original colors.

Most of the web sites also had a note that said, “All whirligig designs are out of stock and no longer available.”
The little dairy man and his cow are now repaired.  But they are also both retired.  They have a place on the top of my bookshelf where the only winds they have to deal with come from a nearby window.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


It’s about sixty miles to the Wyoming Border from our house. 

That’s about one hour by car on good paved roads through rolling hills of wheat fields.

 The Grand Teton Mountains are always visible.  (The highest peak, The Grand, is 13,775 feet --4,199 m—high).  The highway gradually rises and then switchbacks over their south shoulder

The climb steepens at the border.

DH and I continue our drive over Teton Pass.  Each mile is more vertical and more winding.

 We are on the last switchback and just a few yards from the top when we see what we are looking for.

 Our youngest son, a.k.a. Beavis, left a few hours earlier in the day from our house riding his bicycle.   He had the Teton Pass as his goal.  At this point the bike is getting a rest, but Beavis is not. 

 We yell words of encouragement, give him a bottle of cold water, and drive around to wait for him at the summit.

 After all that work biking UP he wants to ride DOWN the other side.

 He checks his brakes, takes a deep breath and pushes off. 
(Note the snow on the hill behind him).

 And he’s almost out of sight in seconds.

 There goes my baby to certain death!

 We follow him down the hairpin turns.

 He stops at an overlook point.  His brakes are sizzling hot!

 Down and down and around he goes to end safely at the bottom.  BUT this isn’t the end of the story.  He changes from his biking gear, loads his bicycle in the car and we go on toward Jackson Hole Ski Resort.

 With the Wyoming side of the Tetons in the background we suddenly come upon MORE people on bicycles.
 They are participating in the LOTOJA Race.  It is considered one of the longest single-day cycling races in North America.  The course goes from Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming, a distance of 209 miles (335 km) and over three mountain passes.

And they are almost finished.

 One of the riders will be our first son, a.k.a. Bobert.  
We are going to wait for him at the finish line.

 Even after riding for over ten hours they come in at incredible speeds.

 There are two thousand riders, some in teams, some in relays and some, like our son, traveling alone with support from wife or friend.

We watch and watch for Bobert. Then his wife, “Greasy Lightning” sees him zip by and runs to meet him at the finish.  But his mother blinked and missed a chance at the big photograph.

 DH, Beavis and I make our way through the crowd and find him triumphant and celebrating

 as Greasy Lightning pushes his trusty bicycle beside him.

 Bobert and Beavis had quite a day!

Now, I ask you, do not those boys have very handsome legs?