Friday, December 10, 2010

Easy or not?

Why is it that those things that are intended to make life easier often complicate things?
(I think I have asked this question before.)

Take, for instance, direct deposit. What could be more convenient than having the paycheck automatically entered into the checking account? It is especially nice if one happens to be out of town on payday! No running to the bank in inclement weather, either. It's great, except for the "cash back" issue. That's right, some of us - my dear husband included - still like to carry a little of the green stuff around. Sure, debit cards are convenient, but cash ... There is no "cash back" with direct deposit. Now, I either have to write him a check (I maintain possession of the check book) or I have to remember to get cash back at the grocery store, or worse yet, I have to run to the bank! I thought that was something I was avoiding by using direct deposit. Hmm.

That is how I wrecked the cookies! Up to my elbows in cookie dough, I answered the phone.

"How would you like to run to the bank and get me some cash?"

It was 3:30 pm Friday.

"Uh, okay, but I'm making some cookies for you right now."

"Are you making the good kind?"

"I'm making some good cookies." They were not his idea of the "good kind" - too much oatmeal and whole wheat flour.

I abandoned my task in order to round up some cash. Cash obtained, I returned to my baking. Somewhere between "run to the bank" and "some good cookies" the dough was not properly combined. The first three dozen cookies to emerge from the oven were flat and gooey. The last were more like homemade rocks.

So much for convenience.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Looks Like Fun, Right?

I know, some of you think it is crazy to play in the snow, but what else are you going to do about it? Complain?
"I just don't like the cold."
"Winter lasts such a long time."
"I wish it would warm up and melt all this white stuff."
Complaining won't change the weather so you might as well learn to live with it. Here is a short tutorial on how to embrace the season!
Layers. I'm not talking about a new haircut. Never in the history of mankind have there been so many comfortable and convenient ways to brace against the cold. From affordable silky thermal underwear (Fruit of the Loom) to fleece outer clothing, warm stuff is available so go get some - or ask Santa for something warm. You don't have to resort to curling up in a Snuggie unless, of course, that is your thing!
Find a winter hobby - something you can only justify during the cold weather, such as skiing, snow shoeing, or reading everything ever written by Clive Cussler. (That should kill some time!) If you save the hobby for winter months, you'll find yourself looking forward to snow fall.
Find the sun - even if you have to drive. It is amazing the healing effects a few warm rays can have on ones emotions. Even if those rays can only find the tip of your nose because the rest of you is covered in fleece, they will warm your soul.
Finally - refrain from complaining! Negative self talk will only make you miserable, as well as those around you. After all, some of us are trying to enjoy ourselves!
Wanna play in the snow?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ski Season

The snow has fallen! I don't remember the last time my favorite ski resort was open in November! Here we are clear into the third day of December and the Greens have not yet hit the slopes. The boys are getting restless! The master of the house is beginning to twitch!

It creates a bit of a problem, this early season opening. I had not planned to commit my Saturdays to the ski hill until much closer to Christmas. After all, I am still a football junkie! The transition goes something like this ...

1 - Clothing. Rather than don a favorite team shirt and lounge pants, participants now must layer on warm and wicking base layers and waterproof outer layers. Gone are the fuzzy socks and slippers. It's time to cram ones foot into unyielding ski boots. Helmets, gloves, and goggles are also part of the required attire.

2 - Alarm Clock. Yes, I have to set it on Saturday.

3 - Food. No more various snacks and main courses dubbed "tailgate food," it is necessary that the meal now fit into the small crock pot (this I love!) that plugs into the dashboard lighter. Chips and sodas are allowed as the physical activity provides a bit of justification. In addition to regular breakfast, a cream filled Bismark is often consumed on the drive up the hill! Ironically, this meal is often consumed on an actual tailgate as opposed to the tailgate food that is consumed in front of a TV!

4 - Equipment. The remote control has been traded for skis, boots, poles, goggles, helmets, jackets, gloves, and ski passes.

5 - Recovery. Much the same with the addition of ibuprofen consumption.

And so it begins ...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


We knew it would happen someday. We just didn't believe it could happen this year! We have become so accustomed to winning, that we almost forgot how it feels to lose.

Is that what Oklahoma felt in 2007? Oregon in 2008 and 2009? TCU? Virginia Tech? Idaho? Every other team that the Broncos rolled over or squeaked past in the last few years?

One ESPN analyst recently said, "All the great teams have a hiccup." Too bad. Sometimes it hurts to hiccup. Let's quit licking our wounds and get back on the band wagon! How many other teams can claim the records, the exciting play, the blue turf, the class act that is the Broncos?

They will win again. I expect it will be the very next game. They will end the season with one loss teetering on, if not in, the top ten. How many teams does that put behind them? Oh yeah, over a hundred! They will go bowling and people all over the country will watch because whether the Broncos play in blue on blue or orange on blue, in orange pants or all white uniforms, they always entertain! And that, my friends, is why we love them.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

College Football Junkie

I have suddenly become a college football junkie. It is evidenced by my lack of direction this Saturday. Three key teams lay dormant today and I don't know what to do with myself! I mainline on Boise State Broncos, but I get quick fixes from the wins and losses of those teams above and below them in the polls whose fates play into the future of the Broncos.

These are the signs and symptoms of my disorder:

A - Schedule social calendar around Bronco football. As illness progresses, schedule social calendar around Alabama, TCU, Auburn, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah, and Virginia Tech football.
B - Root for Broncos to beat Virginia Tech, Oregon State, Hawaii, Fresno State, and Nevada.
C - Root for Broncos to annihilate all other opponents.
D - Root against Alabama and Oklahoma - always. Except on the occasion that Alabama plays Auburn - then root for Alabama.
E - Root for Virginia Tech, Oregon State, Hawaii, Fresno State, and Nevada to beat every other team they play.
F - Root against Oregon, Auburn, and TCU through out the season.
G - Panic if the Broncos do not score on their first drive.
H - Panic if the Broncos have a turnover - any turnover.
I - Become a fan of Kirk Herbstreit and Lou Holtz.
J - Call for Mark May's resignation.
K - Wonder what will become of your Saturday's when the college football season is over.
L - Hate the BCS. Love the BCS. Hate the BCS ...

I could go on, but there is a game on and I might need to help somebody win ... or lose. I may just have to yell at the commentators if they elaborate on the Broncos in the wrong fashion ...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Voice Mail

I have a bit of a problem with voice mail - I forget to check it! The old answering machine system worked for me because the flashing light said to me "Emergency! You have a message!" I could push a button when I walked in the door and listen to the messages as I unloaded my groceries, hung up my coat, placed my keys in a safe place that I would eventually forget about, etc. Voice mail works differently and not so efficiently for me.

Voice mail on my home phone only alerts me when I pick up the phone. I only pick up the phone when I am answering a call or wish to make one. By the time I have completed my call, I have forgotten about the beeping voice mail notification.

I often go several days before feeling the need to check my voice mail. This was a blessing during the recent general election. Why? Thanks to Caller ID I ignored any number that I did not recognize. My reasoning: if it is important, the caller will call back. I checked my voice mail today on this election day. I had thirteen voice messages! Of those thirteen messages, two were legitimate messages, three were from telephone solicitors, and eight were recorded messages from various campaigns around the state. The phone has been very quiet today!

So ... if you really need to contact me - identify yourself! Or ... you can always call back or send me an email. I apologize, but ignoring my voice mail just kind of works for me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ice Rink Hi-jinks!

My sister, Kaye, is nothing if not charitable. She is also very creative and crafty. If there is a useful item that can be crafted by hand, Kaye will attempt to reproduce it. So it was that seven-year-old Gary came upon his Clown Pants. They weren’t really clown pants they only appeared to be such. Bright colors and parachute fabric were not to become popular apparel materials for many years to come. Gary’s pants were definitely before their time.

The bitter winters in Eastern Idaho call for added protection from wind and weather, especially for recent Floridian transplants. Kaye, the Do-it-yourself-er, fashioned a pair of baby blue “warm-ups” to keep her offspring dry and comfortable as he trudged to and from school. Unfortunately, the bounteous yards of fabric she used gave one the impression Gary was wearing a pair of Princess Jasmine’s harem pants! He dutifully donned the voluminous pants and marched to and from school enduring the bitter teasing of his school mates – and his aunts!

Hoping to ease his transition from tropical Florida to near Arctic conditions, Gary’s aunts determined to teach him to embrace the cold. We took him ice-skating!

In addition to his clown pants, Gary wore several layers on his upper half and a fuzzy stocking cap. He was forced to wear a nice white pair of girls’ ice skates. When he took to the ice, it was as if a cartoon character had come to life. Rather than wait for instructions, Gary attacked the rink with gusto! He began at one end of the rink using the toe pick – the jagged teeth at the front of a figure skate blade – for traction. Running the length of the rink, his legs whirring like fan blades, the sharp length of the skate blade never making contact with the ice, Gary stopped with only a few yards left before running out of rink. He appeared suspended in air as his legs whirred past one another. Then Gary would suddenly flatten his feet. They promptly slid in front of him as his softer more cushioned parts dropped onto the ice. Most victims of skating falls take a moment to evaluate well being and examine for broken body parts. Not Gary! He bolted upright facing the direction from which he had just arrived, and repeated the activity – step by step – whir by whir – crash by crash!

His enthusiasm was enviable. We had not, however, the energy to join him as we were spent from chuckling.

At length, his doting mother could no longer contain her curiosity, or maybe it was her concern for his welfare, and she joined us. Few can emit a full bodied laugh as does my sister. Our entertainment was now twofold – Gary, whirring and splatting while his mother shook with glee.

We tried to teach. Our attempts to slow Gary’s efforts in hopes that he might gain some control over his movements were futile. He repeatedly attacked the ice with gusto. The silly looking pants added to the visual effect. He truly appeared as a cartoon character and his enthusiasm never waned.

How often do we quell a person’s zeal in an attempt to improve his skills? Would it be better to let them be that they might live in the moment? I don’t know the answers, but I do know that I will never lose the image in my mind of Gary on Ice!

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Again

Several years ago I was suffering from a physical ailment. It came on so gradually that I did not know how poorly I felt until I began to recover. I felt a bit like these shoes … Let me introduce you to my running shoes. I put six miles on them last Saturday. I can't begin to imagine how many miles they must have covered in their career. I am a bit afraid to know. Running gurus would chastise me for keeping them for so long! Notice the gel heel inserts in the right shoe. They (yes, there are two of them) were placed there to lessen impact and alleviate the discomfort of an inflamed Achilles tendon. Closer inspection will reveal fabric wear at the top of the ankle and on the inside edge of the ankle as well. The first from sliding these shoes off after a run, and the second from rubbing the opposite tread against it on the run! The mesh on the outer toe is also beginning to break down.

Take a look at the tread. What tread? There should be much more pink, but it has worn away, especially on the outer edge of the heel. Why, one might ask, did I let them get so out of shape? Well, much like my health concerns of a few years ago, it came on gradually. After all, if they were good enough to wear on a run on Wednesday, then they should have been good enough to wear on my Saturday run. If they were good enough Saturday, wouldn't they still be good enough today or tomorrow? And so it goes. It is easy to delay change. Change, as we all know, is frightening. What if I purchased new shoes and discovered I didn't like them. What if the change was a mistake?

Look at my new shoes! Pretty, aren't they? I have yet to take them for a test run, but I love them already! No wear and tear! No gel inserts!

Check out that tread!

It wasn't until I brought them home that I realized how truly awful my old runners were. They even look faster! I can't wait to take them for a test run!

The moral of this story is:
Don't be afraid to try something new. That old comfort zone of yours may not be as nice as you might think!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Snail's Pace

Spotted in a rainforest in Puerto Rico, this little guy didn't seem at all disturbed as I invaded his space for a photo op. I thought, "How would I know if he was disturbed? It isn't like he can run away. He's a snail!" And a rather large one at that! His shell had nearly the same diameter as an Oreo cookie. (Pardon the food comparison, but it is effective, is it not? Everyone knows the size of an Oreo.)
I wonder if he knows he is slow, or ... does he consider his pace to be sufficient for his needs? Does a cheetah know he is fast, or does he simply use his speed to fulfill his needs? I know. I know! They probably don't have the capability to think about it at all, but what if they did? Would the snail competetively say, "Hey, I bet I can move slower than you!" Would the cheetah challenge, "Let's race!"
Is that what sets us apart from the rest of the Animal Kingdom? Our competetive natures? Our drive? Our need to always do more? Citius? Altius? Fortius?
Isn't a snail's pace enough at times?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Amidst the business of Autumn (and around here it is busy!) it's nice to take a moment and enjoy the visual pleasures!

Cold enough to turn the leaves, yet warm enough to enjoy a Cross Country Meet in one's shirtsleeves. What a beautiful time of year!
It doesn't last for long. Soon, all of those leaves will be on the ground. Then - someone will clear them away and we'll have to wait another year to behold the brilliant colors of fall.

Blue skies! Appreciate it while it lasts!

I'm glad I was enjoying the scenery instead of running the race this time! So long Cross Country Season - until next year....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


My running partner and I committed to the 2010 YMCA Christmas Run. It's a little longer (6.1 miles) than our usual races, so I downloaded a training plan from the SMARTCoach program on It is individualized - recent race times, how hard do you want to train, what day do you want to do a long run, etc. are entered and then it spits out a plan just for you ... or so it says.

Today's workout was "Speedwork." Speedwork is similar to interval training in that the total run of 5 miles is broken into a warm up, timed portions, jogs, and a cool down. It's those timed portions that got to me! I had to run a half mile three different times in a specified length of time. I remember the days when my goal was just to run a half mile without stopping! SMARTCoach spit out a pretty fast half mile pace - fast, that is, for me! The good news is that although my first two timed portions were a bit over the target pace, my third was several seconds under. I'm sure it helped that I was finally warmed up (35 degrees outside this morning) and that the only hill was a short incline.

I'm really hoping this Speedwork will pay off because my legs are really tired now! I have to go now - I have a Cross Country race to watch. Those crazy kids! Why do they like to run 3.1 miles?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Change is in the Air!

I thought, perhaps, the sky was falling last night at bedtime! The metal roof over my bedroom magnifies the sound of rain. A light drizzle to some sounds like a down pour to me. It was heightened, I am sure, by the fact that I haven't heard that patter in quite some time.

It is a bit like indulging in a treat one has avoided for some time. The satisfaction is greater due to the anticipation. I can't say that I anticipate rain storms with the same excitement as a hot fudge sundae, but the sensations are increased just the same.

Something else the patter reminded me about it the pending snow ski season! It's on its way!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Leaves landing lightly
Looking forlorn lying low.

Listen. Larks are lilting
Lofting lines of longing.

Longer looms the low light
Leaving life a little lonely.

Lovely leisure lingers
Lounging lushly in the loam.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just a Formality!

While I was busy doing my best to get a PR (Personal Record for all you non-running fans)my sisters and company were making the most of their journey. Notice the tuxedos? That's right, the Nelson girls managed to get a formal escort across the finish line! Maybe we SHOULD have gone for Gofer Girls, cuz we always go fer boys!

Monday, September 27, 2010

We Did It!

I'm having technical difficulties. My photos aren't uploading well. This one only tells part of the story, so I'll narrate the rest.

Two years ago I ran my first 5K at the St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration in Boise, ID. It was an overcast, rainy day and proved to be a very difficult challenge for me. I was hysterical at the finish line, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. We made a hasty get away to avoid the onset of hypothermia.

Last year I ran again. I beat my previous time by two hundredths of a second! I'm not sure that even counts. I was running injured as my Achilles tendon had been giving me fits for several weeks. My right leg was taped from knee to arch. This time I convinced my daughter and my niece to join me. They both had young babies. They both finished well ahead of me. We made a hasty get away to feed the infants.

This year was a bit different. My daughter and leg taper could not attend. My niece ran ahead of me again. (Those youngsters are fast!) We both beat our times from last year. I cut nearly two minutes off my time! I'm pretty sure that counts! We had a leisurely day at the park enjoying our complimentary breakfast and frozen dairy products. No hasty get away this year!

Two friends from Parma joined in the walk, as well as, four of my sisters, another niece, my niece's mother-in-law, and several of the Jefferies clan. I am certain the Jefferies had a wonderful time. Sadly, we never found each other. It's easy to get lost amongst 13,000 women!

Here are some highlights of the day ...

1 - I beat my time.
2 - Nobody took the short cut.
3 - Creamsicles.
4 - Guys in tuxedos.
5 - Barb tried to cheat.
6 - Barb didn't know she was trying to cheat.
7 - More creamsicles.
8 - Sarah crossing the finish line.
9 - Melanie's quotes.
10 - Finish line photo (see above)
11 - Clear blue skies.
12 - Did I mention creamsicles?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Have I Lost My Touch?

Maybe I should reconsider baking. As noted in my seldom read and less often purchased book, "Gold Pans and Iron Skillets," I believe baking serves as therapeutic activity for many ailments not the least of which is hunger. Let's just name a few - boredom, frustration, aggravation, depression, and a down turned economy! However, I've been having a little trouble lately.

My zucchini bread was squishy inside. That was weird since I added five minutes to the timer and then another five. Hmm. The tomatoes I was bottling at the same time proved to be very well-done. As it turns out, I had my timers confused. The bread needed another ten minutes. The tomatoes, on the other hand, should be very safe to eat.

Zucchini is plentiful so I baked more bread a few days later. This time I was cautious to use only one timer. That would have worked out fabulously if I had been in the house at the moment it buzzed! I believe I made up the ten minutes that I shorted the previous batch. This bread did not want to come out of the pans. I suppose it had been there so long it thought it was supposed to stay.

Unleavened bread happens by mistake. At least that's how it happens at my house. The focaccia bread I stirred up to go with the tomato bruschetta sauce that I made from my garden produce smelled delicious. It looked like a cracker. It chewed like leather. It tasted fine, but I am now wondering what is happening on my insides as it was difficult for the sink disposal to chew it up!

I'm wondering if I've lost my touch.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's Really About Love

My husband can seldom pop the top on a soda can without sharing “just a sip” with me. The same goes for chocolate cake, cookies, dessert at a restaurant, etc. It’s not that I really want a soda. If I wanted one, I would have one. I think it’s deeper than that. What I really want is to know if he loves me enough to share his soda with me.

Think about it. How many times have you seen a woman take “just a taste” of her sweetheart’s dessert? She doesn’t really want a dessert, for if she did, she would want the whole serving … and she wouldn’t be all that willing to share.

It is a test. Maybe it is a ritual or a well choreographed dance. Hubby orders dessert. Wife declines, “I couldn’t eat another bite.” Hubby gets his dessert. Wife helps herself to Hubby’s dessert - just a bite! Hubby never complains, because … he loves her, and he expects to share … and he knows the game rules.

Overheard recently after a wife helped herself to her husband’s sports drink:

Husband #1 “They always want to share.”
Husband #2 “Ya, until it’s theirs. They don’t ever want to share with us!”

That’s right, because if we really wanted a treat, we would want it all to ourselves. We’re just testing them. Isn’t it grand that they know the rules?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to be a Football Fan

As summer winds down and fall gears up, it is time for a short primer on FAN-aticism!

There are any number of programs, coaches, camps, and playbooks existing for the sole purpose of teaching athletes to become football players. There are not, however, so many aides for football fans. The requirements to develop one’s football fan-ness, I have observed, are myriad and often complicated. One might argue that a football fan exercises more discipline and talent than does the average football player. Let us examine.

In order to become a fan, one must have something to adore. Thus, a football fan must first adopt a team for which he will pledge undying devotion. Pick any team – Little League, High School, NCAA, or NFL. It matters not what team, rather the level of devotion is key.

Learn the game – or not! Remember the level of devotion is key, not one’s ability to understand the game. This will become clear as further instructions are revealed.

Adopt team colors as your favorite wardrobe guide. Purple and green, brown and gold, or blue and orange are lovely combinations. Neither fit nor style matters much. It’s all about the color scheme.

Take the color scheme to a new level and purchase team colored Mardi Gras beads and earrings. These are worn by male fans as well as female fans. One might consider painting a paw print or mascot head on the right side of his face. Diving full into the spirit of fan-ship, he may also ad his favorite player’s jersey number on the left side of his face. Better yet, paint the whole face! Half purple and half green works well, or one might opt for the simpler yet just as effective entire face blue effect.

Spend a bunch of money! Team jerseys and caps, stadium blankets with team logos embroidered on them, license plate holders indicating for whom the driver has pledged his loyalty, coffee mugs, oversized foam fingers displaying the team’s superiority, and logo emblazoned golf shirts are excellent avenues for which to dispose of one’s personal funds. Buy concessions! Spend all of one’s weekly food allowance on concessions! Three dollar bottled water, five dollar hot dogs, and four dollar boxes of candy present a rapid drain on one’s cash flow, not to mention the five dollar hamburger with petrified bun!

Track the team stats. One needn’t understand the game to have access to data containing team and individual numbers that, when rattled off with the appropriate inflection, indicate one’s devotion and intelligence. Bigger numbers translate to more success. Right? Unless, of course, one truly does understand the game and those numbers are in the Interceptions, Penalties, or Turnovers columns. One might also begin referring to players by their first names, as if he knows them personally.

Throw a tailgate party – even if you have no tailgate! A folding table in the family room will do if one does not have access to a stadium parking spot and season tickets. Although the location of the tailgate party is not pertinent, the consumption of high fat/low nutritional value foods is imperative! Bratwurst, chili dogs, bar-b-cue ribs, nachos, fried potatoes, and cheese dip are recommended. These foods are best enhanced if the chef is sporting a team jersey that is small enough to allow his lower abdomen to be viewed peeking between the jersey and his belt.

Rearrange schedules to accommodate ballgames. A novice can accomplish this by simply rearranging conflicting dinner dates and social engagements. However, the seasoned fan will postpone or skip important business meetings and medical appointments. Social engagements do not enter into the equation as he has no social life unrelated to football.

Attend the ballgame in the stadium wearing headphones tuned to one’s favorite radio announcer. This allows for audio/visual overload. Neither a play nor a commentary shall be missed!

Yell at the referees. Call them by name – or by some other name such as Stripes, Zebra, or You *&^(#@(! Complain when they make a bad call. Offer to do the job for them. Offer them your glasses. Complain when they make any call against your team. Shake fist and stomp feet in their general direction.

Mourn and celebrate. Levels of joy and sorrow are myriad depending on the successes or failures of the favorite team. Take for example the devoted Vandal fan. (The university will remain nameless to protect the devoted fan. Clue: There aren’t many universities in Idaho.) He’s still clinging to a win streak from long ago, overshadowed by his current losing streak. A first down, any first down, is a reason for celebration! His rival, whom he holds the win streak over, has moved on to greater foes, however, the fan still finds rejoicing in the beauty of his school colors. Much prettier than that ugly blue and orange! On the other hand, a fan whose team is rolling successfully along may become discouraged if they are leading the opponent by only twenty-one points. It’s all in one’s perspective.

Finally, a true fan will push his oxygen tank supporting walker into the stadium, through the crowds, to the concession stand, and down the bleachers, all the while wearing any or all of the apparel cited previously complete with matching hair coloring – preferably, half and half.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It was really that hot!

What do you do in the summertime when it's one hundred degrees outside?
If you are as crazy as me and my friends, you squeeze your head into color coded swim caps and swim in a pond for one quarter mile taking care not to ingest the fuzzy green pond water.
Then you hop on a bike and ride like mad for six miles, all the while smiling for the camera just in case someone is snapping a shot.

After the bike ride, jump off your bike and run for two miles (or maybe walk just a bit) while volunteers offer cups of water to splash or drink - or both - until you reach the finish line. Then you can consume pizza and fruit and all the water you can hold.

Go home. Sleep it off. In the morning, you can hunt for another race to run!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Butt Flars

I've been sitting on this one for awhile. It's not that I don't like horses, or rodeos, or people that ride horses and participate in rodeos. I just don't like STUPID. A recent visit to the Snake River Stampede, which I completely enjoyed, reminded me of this passage. I suppose it's time to share.
I am not unfamiliar to horsemanship. My father led pack trains through Glacier National Park. My sister is a horsewoman from her earliest years. I’ve ridden a horse bareback -- in shorts! I’ve ridden with only a halter – on the horse, of course. No bridle. I’ve saddled horses. I can put a bridle on a horse. I had a horse step on my foot once. I know what a flank is, as well as, a cinch. Hey, I even cried because none of the neighborhood kids would be horses in our make believe parade so that I could be the street cleaner! One of my best friends had horses and we used to ride together – I on my own horse. I know the difference between a mule and a horse, even the difference between a pinto pony and a buckskin. There is a difference between trotting and galloping, and I’ve done both on a horse. But I never heard tell of Butt Flars!

Until recently. We recently attended the Grand Marshall activities for a small town rodeo. The festivities included a banquet and a parade through the small (2000 strong) town. A banquet facilitated a portion of the Rodeo Queen contest. That is where the fun began.

Miss Outgoing Rodeo Queen emceed the evening. Throughout the event she inserted personal vignettes of her year of royal reign. She was an attractive young thing with a distinct country drawl. I believe she worked hard to cultivate the drawl! Maybe that is why the volunteer responsible for typing the program had trouble with “Marshall.” It was consistently, however phonetically, misspelled – Marshel.

It is important to understand that though a dairy farmer from birth, my husband never considered himself a cowboy. Cowboys ride horses and wear tight jeans with boots. Kevin prefers jeans he can breathe in and sneakers. He has, however, been known to ride and even own a horse in his day. It was with great concentration that the two of us listened to Miss Outgoing Rodeo Queen’s narrative. We followed when she told of the time her Daddy “Caught the clutch on far,” imagining the roadside as it burst into flames from contact with the burning clutch. We felt her pain when she recalled the time her horse trailer had a flat and the truck “ran over the spare tar.” I haven’t yet figured out how that tire got in front of the truck. When she handed her Small Town Rodeo Queen counterparts a single long stemmed rose and said “I’d like to thenk ‘er,” we felt her unique gratitude, all six times.

Personally, I struggled a bit when it was time to play “Stump the Queen” with the reigning cowgirls and current candidates. If they couldn’t answer correctly, the questioner would win a prize! I received a “don’t you dare” look from my husband. I had to sit on my hands, for I wanted so badly to raise my arm and ask, “How do you spell Marshall?”

The highlight of the evening, for me at least, was when Miss Outgoing Rodeo Queen told about leaving her “Lahm grain butt flars on Grandpa’s grave.”

Huh? I didn’t know what she was talking about, nor did my husband. I could tell this by the look on his face.

“What are butt flars?” He whispered.

I shrugged. Neither of us had a clue. We had seen the large flower arrangements displayed on the rodeo queen’s table as we arrived at the much celebrated “Grand Marshell and Rodeo Queen Banquet.” They were there along with her scrapbook photos and colorful sashes and blankets (Otherwise known as serapes. I learned this through much research on the part of myself and my horsewoman sister.)

“Does she mean butt flowers? Is that what those big bouquets behind the saddle are called? Butt Flowers?”

Kevin tried to shush me. My mirth had been building since the mention of the clutch far.

“Lahm grain? Does she mean lime green?”

“People are listening,” he warned through clenched teeth.

It took a heroic attempt, but I subdued my hysteria to a manageable level – until we left! When I was certain we were safely inside our farming pickup (this would be a pickup used in the production of produce rather than the hauling of rodeo queen paraphernalia) I let loose. Giggles erupted. Then I guffawed!

“Lahm grain butt flars! Are you kidding me! I have to call Judy!”

“Hey, what are those flowers on the back of rodeo queen horses called?” Judy and I love to exchange loaded questions.

“I don’t know. Why?”

“Well …” I recalled my banquet experience.

“No self-respecting horse would be caught dead wearing flowers or glitter on its butt!” This statement came from the lips of a true horsewoman. “I know a rodeo gal. I’ll ask her and get back to you.”

I waited.

“Sash? My friend said she thinks it is sash.”

“I think that is the fancy blanket beneath the flowers,” I replied. “You know, with the Miss Small Town Rodeo stuff embroidered on it?”

I looked on the internet. I found nothing but hairdo advice and waving instructions. Oh, and a little something about cross dressers. Eew!

Judy called back. “Butt Blossoms?” We were on a roll from there.

“Backside Bouquets?” “Butt Blooms?” “Rump Roses?” “Parade Posies?” “Butt Buds?”

I searched further. It turns out it isn’t sash, nor is the proper term Butt Flars. It is Parade Flower Pack. Of course, Parade Flower Pack is quite a mouthful. It stands to reason those pretty young gals with their bright colored shirts and perfect hairdos would opt for Butt Flars!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Look Who's Whining Now

I'm the one that taught this kid to ski when he was whining that he just preferred to kneeboard - he didn't want to learn to ski. Now, he's the first one in the water every time. We started that practice when he was little, because he was the baby. It helped to minimize the whining!

Now - he just likes to show off. Wonder where he got that? Last week he graduated to his dad's ski. Look out! There's no living with him now!

I have never been able to get that low to the water. Fear? Maybe. Not tough enough? Maybe. Too old? Maybe. Guess I'll just have to play the "Grandma" card. Or, there is always the "I brought you into this world" card. Whatever. He's been a great student. Taught him everything I know!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Warning Signs?

We embarked on a long awaited bike ride through the country. We estimated the route to be about 20 miles - a nice Saturday morning ride. The route had been planned for weeks. The weather was nice. Nothing would keep us from our goal, not even the Fourth of July flag raising ceremony others were attending. This was our chance!

"Detour Ahead" only means detour if you don't live in the area, are afraid of gravel, or believe road construction truely means men will be working, right? It was a Saturday. There would be no workers, after all, this is a government job. Gravel is a fact of life in a farming community. If you don't believe it, just take a look at my windshield. Bikes can weave their way through any construction barricade. Right?

We turned left.

Someone must be reinforcing a bridge up ahead. It's Saturday. We'll just pedal across.

We would definitely need to weave through some barricades. We might even need to carry the bikes if the terrain was too rough, but it shouldn't be very far ...

Hmm. A barricade ... and a truck.

Yet another warning sign. "You have exactly 500 feet to turn back!" We had already come seven miles, surely we wouldn't have to turn back now!

The bridge must be beyond that truck. Time to get off the bikes and walk around the big truck blocking the bridge.

More construction equipment. It's called a track hoe. It's often used for clearing debris from irrigation canals in early Spring. Why would it be needed to reinforce a bridge?

What bridge!

If we just carry the bikes along the cement retaining wall, lift them over the rail and onto the metal beam, walk them across the beam, lift them down onto the cement retaining wall on the other side of the canal ....
Then maybe we could finish our long awaited twenty mile (22.9 to be exact) bike ride. And so we did!

(Note to self: In the future carry a camera on all adventures. This photo would have been oh so much more exciting with him in his bike shorts, helmet, and gloves actually lifting the bike!)
Is there a moral to this story? You pick.
"Ignoring warning signs and promptings is foolish and will only lead to trouble."
"Don't let anything discourage or detour you from your goal."
"Always be prepared, ie. carry a camera!"

"When someone says 'I think it is 20 miles,' expect it to be longer and know that there will be obstacles to overcome."

Thursday, July 1, 2010


A sign on the drive up window at my bank reads:

Non-customers must come inside.
Use rock or bar.

I thought about taking a photo, but I was afraid I would be mistaken for a non-customer trying to enter the bank with my camera instead of using a rock or bar as instructed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who is Bravest of Them All?

When fourteen and fifteen year old girls descend a cliff on ropes because they believe they have to do it to fulfill a Girls' Camp requirement courage manifests itself.
The Question: Who is most courageous?

It is important to note that none of the girls had rappelled previously. One young lady asked, "Can I go Aussie my first time?" "Aussie" a term apparently coined after Australian rappellers, is the act of descending the rope face first while eyeing the fast approaching ground beneath. This is opposed to the other option, "seat first." This is done while staring at the rock face, only viewing the ground below when one chooses to look down. Miss Aussie took her chances and reappeared later atop the cliff smiling from ear to ear. She loved the experience!

Another young lady never mentioned how afraid she felt. She dutifully strapped on her gear and just as dutifully descended the cliff - very slowly. Tears poured from her terrified eyes as she continued her descent. When she returned atop the cliff later, tears still streamed. She said very little.

Others went through the motions and declared, "I am never doing that again!" Some stated, "That was fun, but I think I want to go Aussie next time." Still others could take the sport or leave it. They felt neither a rush of adrenaline nor paralyzing fear.
So, who is bravest? She who embraces the danger head on, or is it she who faces the danger despite an overwhelming fear? Have you ever descended a rope in such a manner? I think they are all brave!

Hoorah for Level Four!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Believe in Angels

While I was running errands, an angel visited my house and left me the most beautiful strawberries I have ever seen. They were from her garden and she chose to share them with me!

They were too pretty to smash up into jam. Considering my recent shortcake mishap, I was reluctant to pursue that project. When I reported the lovely gift to the man of the house, I was certain he would say, “You could make me a little shortcake!” That’s what I thought! Rather, he offered, “I guess you could burn the house down trying to make another cake!” Harrumph. I determined to show him!

I can still bake shortcake from scratch!
Guess who ate all the shortcake?
Guess who showed whom?

Back to the subject of angels … I don’t know if she is an actual angel, not yet anyway, but I am pretty sure she is a saint. How blessed I am to have people in my life who make good days great, who make my life better just by being a part of it, and who make me want to be more like them. Thank you, my lovely angels!
For the recipe, Click Here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Miss My Cat

I had to put my cat to sleep. I cried. He was so old he had arthritis and his kidneys were failing. He lost half his weight and was having trouble just being a cat. Roger had been a good cat – stuck up and aloof – killing mice for food and birds for fun. He was easy to have around. Roger could come in the house or stay out, and he didn’t really need people for company. I miss him.

I doubt I would miss a dog. Dogs need people. They can’t feed themselves nor are they much good at creating their own entertainment. Dogs need someone to throw a stick or a ball for fetching. They slobber and they don’t catch mice! Dogs sniff stuff.

Some dogs are barely even dogs. Smaller than cats, they have to wear bells around their necks to signal their presence otherwise one might step on them! If a dog has to be carried around in one’s arms, I don’t see how he can qualify as a dog. A canine should be able to scare away intruders or in the least alarm a passing pedestrian. Ironically, it’s those little dogs that make the most noise, an action that never ceases to make me laugh. “What? You think you’re a dog?” I ask. I am answered with more yipping, the effort causing the animal to bounce up and down as if blowing that much air out of his lungs actually made him weightless for a moment.

Big dogs smell bad. Maybe it’s because they roll in manure or eat their own vomit. It could be from their obnoxious habit of sniffing things that are rotten. Dogs don’t possess the same personal hygiene skills as do cats; therefore, their people have to groom them. Yuck! The only thing that smells worse than a big dog is a wet dog!

Canines can’t be very bright. Unlike felines that soon tire of one’s efforts to trick or entertain, a dog will fall for the same game over and over and over! Just throw a ball or a stick a few times. Rover will bound happily after the item and return it for yet another throw. Pretend to throw it and Rover will bound stupidly after it then return anticipating another throw – over and over and over! A cat would get bored and saunter away.

Dogs are tramps. They crave affection so fiercely that they lavish theirs on anyone willing to return it – and frequently on those who don’t. A cat is more choosy, remaining distant to allow time to study her companion to determine whether his attention is worthy of her notice.

Dogs, and cats, are lazy. However, while a cat will nap the day through, she’ll find a quiet spot in a corner so as not to be disturbed. A dog, on the other hand, will park his smelly frame in front of whatever door is used most, often one with steps, thus creating a hazardous situation for anyone attempting to enter or exit said door.

Dogs bark. Cats purr. Dogs jump. Cats leap. Dogs sniff. Cats hiss.

Dogs don’t even look intelligent what with their ears flopping and tails wagging as they go. A cat carries herself in a dignified manner, head still, tail erect, confident and sure. A cat is patient and stealthily rids her home of rodents. A dog couldn’t sneak up on a turtle! Which reminds me, I’ve got to go set a trap. I miss my cat!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Way We Are

Yesterday’s lunch with two “old” (and I use that word loosely) friends was both enjoyable and enlightening. It has been many years since we all sat around the same table. In fact, the last table we sat around may have been a used McDonald’s table in the foyer of our high school. Having graduated children of our own from various high schools, it was time to sit down together once again and catch up. Here is what we discovered…
Although we have all taken different routes to get where we are, those roads occasionally lead us to the same place. Yesterday, for instance, three of us arrived at the same place - by design. We discovered that despite our many differences, we are very much the same. We laugh at the same things. We love the people in our lives for the same reasons. We are plagued by the same effects of aging. We even enjoy the same foods and beverages. In many ways, we have arrived at the same place. Most importantly, we still love one another.

Relationships are our greatest treasures. We should take them out of their storage boxes and polish them off more frequently.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mine's a Boy!

Once upon a time an odd plant hung in Grandma Nelson's front entryway in Driggs. The Wells Nelson kids knew this plant as Grandma Nelson's Hoya. I discovered the real story behind the Hoya at Grandma's house. When Wells and Esther lived in Montana, Esther received the plant from a friend. When they moved back to Driggs, Esther took the Hoya to town and hung it at Grandma's house. There it remained until after Grandma had passed away. Then Esther took the Hoya to Idaho Falls and began making starts from it.

Occasionally, and in some cases rarely, and in my case never, the Hoya will bloom clusters of tiny pink stars that appear plastic and artificial. I have a Hoya that is the grandchild of Esther’s original plant. He’s a boy.

Kaye claims there is no such thing as a boy Hoya. I disagree. Kaye claims my boy Hoya was a girl Hoya until I stole it from her. It bloomed at Kaye’s house. That was ten years ago! It hasn’t bloomed since. Mine’s a boy.

The sad thing is … I made a start from my boy Hoya for my niece. Hers blooms. It’s a girl!

Kaye tired of my complaining and gave me a girl Hoya. I think she can’t tell them apart. No blooms. It’s a boy!

I stole a start from a Hoya hanging in a restaurant. Guess what? It’s a boy! No blooms – not in six years!

Skeptics will argue that my plants aren’t getting the proper light and hydration. Wrong – O! I’ve tried scorching them by the window and hiding them in the dark. I’ve drenched them and dehydrated them – all to no avail. They’re boys and they aren’t going to flower!

My sisters, all successful Hoya bloomers, continue to give me advice.
“Put it in a window.”
“Don’t water it.”
“Water it a lot!”
“Put it in an East window.”
“Fertilize it.”
“Put it in a South window.”
“Let it dry out.”

Yeah, I’ve tried all that. I used to search for blossoms, signs of blossoms, or little nodes where blossoms might appear. Every new leaf bud was scrutinized as I watched with anticipation until it produced exactly what it intended to produce – another leaf. I’ve given the poor thing haircuts, trimming it back to stimulate growth and with luck, flowering.

There are other indications of gender – for instance, my Hoya is happy sitting by the recliner, looking out the window. He isn’t sentimental – after all, he did come from Conrad, the place of my birth. That ought to be motivation enough to produce lovely blossoms. But, alas, he is a boy. He cares not for ornamentation or sappy foolishness. I’ve talked to him. He doesn’t listen!
I’ve given up hope. I’ve simply come to the realization that my Hoya is a boy and I’m not going to change him!