Saturday, May 30

message of the day:

summer's here, so let the good times roll!

headed out to alcova reservoir with dejoe and his boat on a wonderful sunny day in wyoming.

Friday, May 29

how i ended up in casper, wyo.

in may 2006 i graduated from iowa state university with a degree in ag journalism and no firm leads on a job. my sister melissa was in casper, wyoming that summer with an internship for the natural resources conservation service (nrcs) and she happened to meet the dennis sun, the publisher of the wyoming livestock roundup, a weekly ag paper serving ranchers in wyoming and the surrounding states. his assistant editor had met a boy and was taking off for california come august, so melissa passed the job lead on to me, i called up the roundup office and talked with them a couple times and next thing i knew i was packed up and driving across nebraska in a family caravan (we hemkens like to do that) with all my stuff and a gray kitten with a smudged nose i'd plucked from under my parents' grainery on the way off the farm.

i moved out here with few enough pieces of furniture to fit in my mom's catering cargo van pulling my parents' airstream camper. we combined the moving trip with a horse camping trip in the laramie mountains south of casper, so we also had three horses in the livestock trailer. i had lined up a place to keep my bay mare april, so she stayed on with me when everyone else went back to iowa.

i didn't know i had an apartment for sure until i was passing through the sand hills of nebraska. when i first found out i had the job i had to mapquest casper, because i had no idea where it was. talk about an adventure.

i began work at the roundup aug. 14, in the midst of state fair week here in wyoming. slowly but surely i began to get to know the job and the people, and now three years later i'm quite comfortable in my job and i'm even quite fond of casper and its people.

while i moved out here with only a diesel mercedes car, i now have my '97 ford f250 4x4 extended cab and a two-horse trailer on which i put a new coat of pretty red paint during christmas trip 2008.

i still live in the same apartment, but you already know about the ongoing house hunt. i dunno, i was suddenly inspired to buy my own place, and now that the process has started it's moving right along.

for two years out here i didn't really make any friends, or make an effort to establish myself, in wyoming because i had always planned to move back to iowa to be with ex-boy, which is a long, complicated tale, perhaps never to be posted. beginning about this time last year i got two new summer roommates, interns for nrcs, amanda and emily, who are both excellent, and so began my transition from 'temporary in wyoming' to 'looking for a house in wyoming.' gosh. the past year has been full of a lot of changes.

emily and i spent almost every evening last summer riding my horses out at the galles stables pastures. (when i was home last may i brought sorrel mare jazz back to wyoming with me. she was evicted from the iowa farm after chasing too many calves.) as the weeks went past emily became more and more comfortable riding april - her horse for the summer - bareback, and pretty soon i didn't even have to say, 'just try it emily. you'll be fine.' :-) i'm pretty proud of this photo of her when we were out branding on a ranch. she turned into a mighty fine cowgirl!

amanda corrupted me into the habit of going out on the weekends, which i've now taken to include weeknights. happy hour is wonderful. you pay for one beer or whiskey and they bring two. what a concept.

but mostly i can trace my turning from temporary to permanent to one pivotal day - branding with the keith family out at dennis's pasture and then traveling to glenrock for deer creek days and meetings friends griff and dejoe. but that's all you need to know about that for now.

from there i've gotten to know many people in town, and i'm having fun and i'm happy here. when i think about moving on from wyoming to something new, i realize that if i left here i'd just miss it, a lot, and want to come back, so why leave?

coordination, collaboration, cooperation and consensus

a lot of c's, no? the difference between them and how they play into the relationship between county government and federal agencies is a part of what i've learned for my job this morning. several representatives from citizen's groups and wyoming county commissioners participated in a panel that emphasized the ability and importance of county governments in the decisions of the blm and forest service in public land managment. turns out, if you're putting together a natural resource plan for your county, you want to use the word 'coordination' in place of the others, because it provides status 'equal, of the same rank, degree, importance, not subordinate.' the other terms don't represent a status as strong or concrete. so there. now you know.

also speaking on that panel was wyoming representative cynthia lummis, with whom i will have lunch with the rest of the staff at the roundup office when i'm done here. currently i sit in one of the ramada hotel's meeting rooms in casper. lummis is one of the three members of wyoming's delegation, which includes two senators and a representative. i voted for her last fall, and i'm glad she got elected because she's very intelligent and has already been very active in representing wyoming's interests on energy, natural resource and ag committees in washington. there's a pretty funny video of her speaking with Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report.

this weekend my new roomie kassi will be home in cheyenne, and i don't expect old roommate amanda back in town from home in new york until tuesday, so i'm not really sure what to do with myself. except friend kelly and i are supposed to meet for dinner at the beacon this evening, i think, in exchange for me helping her out one evening a week or two ago. the beacon has the best patty melts. but i should really avoid them, because i don't even want to know how many calories they contain.

Thursday, May 28

addition to the 'i could live here' list

so i went and looked at 1262 S Conwell this afternoon, and now there are officially two on my 'considering' list. although they've updated some of the inside - like redoing the hardwood floors in some of the rooms - it has old appliances and still needs a lot of work. so, i'm hoping maybe their $167 price tag is negotiable. the thing it's really got going for it is the yard, which is spacious and well-kept, with nice lawn space in the back for living and for a dog to exercise. it was just listed several days ago, so we'll see what they think. the garage is also a nice size, and my truck could fit.

five visits: three strikes, a maybe, and an 'i really like it'

so yesterday i went out and visited five houses, three on my lunch break and two after work. the very first one i visited is the one i like, and the one pictured here. it's in a nice neighborhood with mature trees and is painted nicely. and it smells good. all the other houses i went in yesterday smelled funny. like old lady or bachelor or some weird combination.

in half an hour i'm off to visit another house over in the area near my horses and several blocks from coworker jody's townhouse. it appears promising from the information posted online, so it's worth a look. most attractive is it's large yard, for my future dog, and the kitchen appears to have a lot of storage.

Wednesday, May 27


today is the day i go to look at my first houses with a realtor. she sent me a link with a handful of listings last night, and some of them look really cute, like something i could settle into and fix up just like i want.

i think i'm giving up on my idea of an acreage, especially after talking with friend rick last night at church. he's an old farrier from town, and he said he's been looking for an acreage, too, but hasn't found anything that was worth paying so much money. and he's right. it's ridiculous how much money people ask for sand and sagebrush. and i'd end up still feeding hay to my horses hay 365 days probably, too, because the ground wouldn't be able to support them. so maybe i'm better off leaving them on the good grass pasture at gallas's, where i board, and purchasing a cheaper house in town that would leave money enough in my budget to continue paying board. the best grass in this country is between town and the mountain, but that's also where all the rich people like to live, so there's no way i could get a place there.

but anyway, the next step is going to look at places here in town, so we're moving right along in this process. my financing is already in place; the response i got from both lenders i talked to was my credit's good and my debt's low so they'll give me as much money as i ask for.

maybe if i figure out how to post photos on here i'll put some up from the tours this afternoon.

Monday, May 25

word of the day:

mumpsimus |ˈməmpsiməs|
noun ( pl. -muses)

a traditional custom or notion adhered to although shown to be unreasonable.
• a person who obstinately adheres to such a custom or notion.

i have this screen saver now that gives random words and definitions, and thought this one deserved to be shared. i'm going to use it. in the roundup - the newspaper for which i'm assistant editor.

p.s. working on zucchini and rosemary soup now. it's an inspired cooking day. and i'm on the second pot of coffee. beats being thirsty for beer and drinking it all day! at least now i can drive to home depot for $1.99 bedding plants if i still feel like it later on... might be a little shaky, but at least the cops don't test for caffeine...

apple muffins, hummus and country music

who else thinks we should have memorial day more often?

today is rainy and chilly here in casper, and that suits me just fine because i've spent my day cleaning, baking and generally putzing around my apt, which really needed to be done. a lot of things get neglected nowadays - now that i have a social life.

so far i've made apple muffins with an apple that needed to be used and hummus with chick peas i had sitting on my shelf in the fridge.

i've started pulling together the further documents for house financing. that's right - thinkin bout buyin a house near casper. who woulda thought? so now my desk is an array of pay stubs, loan info, loan officer business cards and sheets of paper with sums six digits long. scary stuff.

talked to friend griff this morning and he said the place next to him - 20 acres, house and shed - sold for $70,000 recently. why didn't i get on this sooner and get that place? i was just looking at it the other day when i drove out there to get his carpet cleaner and thought to myself, 'self, that's the kind of place you need to look at buying. nothing fancy, just nuts and bolts, but something you can add to.' oh well. probably better to not be neighbors with griff, anyway. we'd prob end up fighting over the fenceline. :-)

the weekend branding was fun. not hard work, mostly just relaxing with a little bit of work thrown in. i came back with one serving of potato salad and one brownie, so that worked out just right. it was cold, tho. i shoulda thrown in my heavy carhartt coat. instead i just brought the carhartt jean jacked i picked up for $20 in cheyenne at sierra trading post outlet and it was just barely enough.

oh, and i tested out sleeping in the back seat of my truck with it folded down flat, and that worked real nice. just laid out my sleeping bag and pillows and it was quite cozy. out of the wind and rattlers, too.

new roommate kassi showed up about 1 today. she's got her stuff moved into my old room and link the naughty cat saw to it that he helped. lexus the good cat just continued to nap on amanda's bed.

so the rest of today i'm just hangin around listening to my favorite country music, cookin and organizing. not a bad one at all. trying to get friend dejoe to go with me to the new terminator movie, but he's working on the axles on his camper trailer and i haven't heard back from him on that one....

Friday, May 22

so today i leave to spend my weekend in the middle of the grasslands of weston county, wyoming.

i just have one question: why does everything always happen at once? why can't we spread things out a little more so that i have ample time to prepare and feel like i'm on top of things? so far this week i'm trying to get ready for a new roommate and leave for three days, but all that's complicated when my present roommate, amanda, is gone for the week and i'm not really sure what to do with her stuff, meanwhile trying to move my stuff in with her stuff in her room and get my room as clean as possible for the new girl, which included borrowing my friend griff's carpet cleaner to clean up the 'dog spots' on the carpet. (thankfully, they came out easily)

so when i come back monday hopefully the new girl, cassie's her name, will have moved in, but i'll still be living with two people's posessions in my room because amanda will be gone all of next week, too, to new york. which is fine, just crowded. hopefully we'll gain some organization sometime the second week of june????

and, i also volunteered to bring food to the branding, so last night i also spent time making bacon potato salad and s'more brownies, which both turned out well. luckily i remembered to put the ice packs in the freezer. somehow i usually forget that important thing.

Bacon Potato Salad:

  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Creole or whole-grain mustard
  • 4 strips crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled

Put the potatoes in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Cook, partially covered, until fork tender, about 10 minutes.

Drain and transfer to a salad bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, season with the salt, cayenne, black pepper and lemon juice and toss well to combine. Add the celery, green onions, parsley and eggs. Combine the mayonnaise and mustard and add to the bowl. Sprinkle the bacon over the salad and toss gently but thoroughly to mix well.

Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve slightly chilled.

Yield: about 2 quarts, 6 servings

S'more Brownies


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch fine salt


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 large cold eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour


  • 4 cups large marshmallows


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 by-8-inch square baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about 1 inch.

For the crust: Lightly butter the foil with some of the melted butter. Stir the rest of the butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the brownie. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave on 75 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir, and microwave again until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. Alternatively, put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl on the pan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted. Stir the light brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs and beat vigorously to make a thick and glossy batter. Add the flour and stir until just incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean, with a few crumbs, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat on low. Layer marshmallows across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, (keep an eye on it, it can go quick), about 2 minutes. Cool on a rack, gently removing the brownies from the pan using the aluminum flaps. Carefully separate any marshmallow from the foil and fold away. Cut into 12 (2-inch) squares.

(both recipes courtesy Food Network)

and last night i also had to clean the roundup office. and i tried to take manda's visiting friend ben to gravity hill, but it didn't work. i know it does. i was there. with dejoe. in a bigger truck than mine. his rolled uphill. mine didn't. i think it's because the moon wasn't full.

and now my friend jake, who lives on a ranch west of town, just called and i'm heading out there this afternoon after i load up my horses so we can give all 10 of mine and his their west nile vaccine. and i'm taking griff's carpet cleaner back to his place. on the other side of town. :-)

and i have yet to drive the three hours to get to the middle of nowhere in weston county.

so yeah. i wish all these things were a little more spread out over the evenings where i head home from work and think - so, what'm i going to do tonight?

it'll be nice to relax and work in a part of wyoming's vastness for a couple days this weekend. i'm looking forward to it. the best part of camping on wyoming's range is leaving the rain flap off your tent and realizing the full impact of the stars. and having your horses corralled nearby. and waking up with the dawn to drink some coffee and go work cattle. sure beats waking up before dawn only to head into a hog barn to load the ornery beasts. ;-)

Branding trip checklist:

Tack (saddle, saddle pad, two bridles, brushes, fly spray, two halters)
Tent, sleeping bag, pillow
Spare gas can, filled
Spare boots, jeans
Cowboy hat, oilskin duster
Cameras - big one and little one to fit in my pocket
Leather gloves - i still need to find them....

S'more brownies
Bacon potato salad
Brats, brat buns
Land Shark (because we've had 2/3 case sitting on our fridge forever. maybe i'll get rid of it)
Pendleton?? (if i make it to the liquor store to pick up jake's everclear)

and more stuff i'll remember 20 min after i've left town.........

Tuesday, May 19

here it is! the beginnings of my writings about the adventures and happenings of my life in wyoming.

first of all, i chose the title out of a song by zac brown band, called 'let it go.'

i hope to post photos, random links, stories, and other such things on here. we'll see how it goes.

p.s. if you don't listen to zac brown band, you should. get their album 'the foundation.' it's excellent. most people only know them for the approaching-overplayed 'chicken fried,' but all their other songs are also worth a listen.

"Let It Go"

Spent the night with a friend of mine and a handle of good whiskey
We picked guitars and talked about how the glory days we missed 'em
It didn't take too long to find the truth inside that bottle
Cast a-sea so long ago was a message from my father.

Keep your heart above your head and you eyes wide open
So this world can't find a way to leave you cold
And know you're not the only ship out on the ocean
Save your strength for things that you can change
Forgive the ones you can't
And let it go.

Looking back now on my life I can't say I regret it
All the places that I ended up not the way Ma woulda had it
But you only get one chance at life to leave your mark upon it
And when a pony he comes riding by, you better set your sweet ass on it

Keep your heart above your head and you eyes wide open
So this world can't find a way to leave you cold
And know you're not the only ship out on the ocean
Save your strength for things that you can change
Forgive the ones you can't
And let it go.

Like a sweet sunset in Georgia, let it go
And like the fear that grabs ahold, ya let it go
Let it go
Let it go

Keep your heart above your head and you eyes wide open
So this world can't find a way to leave you cold
And know you're not the only ship out on the ocean
You save your strength for things that you can change
Forgive the ones you can't
Let it go.