Thursday, June 30

Patriotism and Newspaper Creativity

Today we're finishing the paper on a somewhat accelerated schedule so that we can take both Friday and Monday off for the Independence Day holiday.

Thus, we've already got the proof back from Tracy, and are just finishing up proofing to get her changes by the end of the day.

Earlier this week Roundup intern Tressa and I met up with a local high school girl for a photo shoot, complete with a flag from Rep. Cynthia Lummis's office, and that's reason #452 why Wyoming's Congressional delegation is head and shoulders above other states'. :-)

Out of 150 photos I took that evening, there were a dozen that I really liked, and this is the one Tracy chose to work with:

I loved that we ended up using a gray horse - it made the photo's colors work together all that much better.

So anyway, when I saw the proof on the share drive earlier today I immediately called Tracy to tell her I love it. We really need to be more free with our creativity more often with the paper - that's my opinion, anyway.

Pardon the red pen - this is a photo of the proof, after all - but I really like the parchment background she added to the photo.

The quote says: "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." - Thomas Paine

If I don't get a chance to post again, have a happy 4th of July, and remember to be thankful for the blessings of freedom.

The To-Do List

I have a problem of late - the problem is that, no matter how much time I spend working around the house, I never seem to get any closer to the end of my to-do list!

In the last week I've been getting up and working on cleaning and other tasks around the house for an hour or two before going to work, and then I spend three or four hours after work, also working on the same to-do list.

You'd think I'd be able to get more accomplished, wouldn't you?

Actually, last night and this morning I did pretty good. I had shampooed our bucking horse rug that I bought in Pendleton, and Scott and I put it back down in our tv area last night. It sure looks better, and feels better to know it's fresh and clean and aired out. It spent the day yesterday hanging over the porch railing in the sunshine.

Then I vacuumed the wood floors again. Seems like I spend a lot of time chasing furballs... or maybe I just need to vacuum more frequently!

I've also been watering the lawn in the last few days, which takes some time, but it's done for this week. That's the first I've watered it this summer, and I feel fortunate that I got away with waiting until the end of June. The last couple days have been very hot and dry, so I'm glad it got some water or it would have burned up.

Last night I also shredded a pork roast that I'd had cooking all day and made the sauce for pulled pork sandwiches for Saturday's picnic on our driving trip in the Buzzard Ranch/Seminoe Reservoir area.

I also made a double batch of Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies, which I'm going to decorate after the fashion of the latest Martha Stewart magazine cover - you've seen it if you've been in the supermarket checkout lane lately.

This morning I cleaned the upstairs bathroom and washed the floor, put away my sprinklers and hoses, picked up sticks from the yard after yesterday's windstorm, watered flower containers as needed, washed the kitchen floor and prepped the apricots for the Toasted Coconut Apricot Pie that I'll make tonight to take to Lander tomorrow.

I don't think I've every purchased fresh apricots before. I was pleased with how well the pits came out. I've been having trouble with peach pits lately.

Aren't they so pretty and summery?

Yesterday I also found some rhubarb at Albertson's for Rhubarb Strawberry Lattice Pie, which will also be for Saturday's picnic. I have an idea on that pie, that's different than making it in a conventional pie plate. It's essentially making individual star-shaped pie pockets with the pie filling inside, but we'll see how much time I feel like spending on it tonight, and whether or not I have a star cookie cutter... that would be a necessity, I guess.

Of course, whatever I do around the house, I always have two dedicated helpers. Last night Lucy slept outside our bedroom window on the concrete patio with her head on the windowsill all night long. Such a dedicated puppy.

As far as projects in the yard and garden, they're not going very far very fast. :-) Those zinnias at the top of the post are intended to go in this front flower bed, once I get it weeded and add the new topsoil. Scott made the border last weekend, and I really like how it turned out. My Carl Forster grass is doing ok.... the animals still like to eat it for a snack, so it is struggling somewhat.

The violas on the steps are doing well, though. By putting them on the left side they receive some shade from the railing during the harshest time of the day, and they seem to like it there. I'm trying not to kill them with overwatering, like I did to the few I had last summer.

I planted these perennials on the north side of the steps, since they're a part-shade plant. I forget what they're called at the moment. :-) They're just now starting to open up, and they're supposed to fill out to about 15-20 inches across. If they live through the winter, I think they'll be a nice thing to have in this long, narrow bed.

And another project for last night was the American flag we mounted from the front porch. I like how cheery it looks, and just in time for the 4th of July!

So that's just a little bit of what we've been up to - I thought I better put up a quick post to update my loyal readers who have been neglected lately. :-)

The chalk paint and the crib are still waiting patiently, as is the dresser that needs to be sanded and refinished for my changing table in the baby room. Those two things are at the top of my list, as soon as the other everyday cleaning/cooking/maintenance projects are caught up.

Monday, June 27

Weekend: Thrifting and House Projects

Foxy is my little plant-eater, so I try to keep pots up off the ground at least a little bit, hoping it will discourage her somewhat. I'm not sure it works...
This last weekend we spent in town, but that doesn't mean we had our feet up! From Friday evening through last night we kept busy with house projects and with other activities around town, whether or not Scott wanted to. :-)

Friday evening started out with cleaning out the garage - throwing some things away, making a garage sale pile for the next day's sales in Paradise Valley, pulling all the previous owners' junk from the garage loft and replacing it with our own, and generally getting ready to move some big pieces of furniture out on Saturday. When it was all said and done, we didn't really gain all that much space, but I like to think we at least accomplished a little bit.

Then Saturday morning we headed out first thing to take our garage sale stuff to friend Jamie's and then to start scoping out the community's sales, and we met with success!

After painting the thrift frames for our wedding party, and liking how they looked, I was excited to find this box of assorted wooden picture frames to use for similar projects. None of them have glass, which is easily enough picked up at Hobby Lobby for cheap. For two dollars I took the box home with me, and at the same garage sale we purchased a set of vintage tv trays, which I've just remembered, and now I'm not sure where we put them when we got home. :-) They're gold right now, but my plan is spray paint and spray enamel to protect them from chips, and they also all have a little wheeled cart on which they fit.

I talked the woman down from five dollars to three for this leather case, which I plan to use for my laptop and other work accessories. This was the only sale where I ran into reluctance at my lower offer, but she took it. :-)

These wooden boxes were at a yard sale with a lot of really neat things. I could have picked up several more things, including one of the old-style cast iron tea kettles and a jar full of the large-sized glass marbles, but I refrained. The boxes were a good enough find.

I love the stamps and writing that's still on the bottom of the shallow box. It was originally used to ship film reels from New York City to movie theaters across the nation. A friend of mine says the two-cent stamp looks like it's from 1908.

Vintage glass ornaments for 50 cents for the box, anyone? I know not all of them are truly vintage, but I'd say three-quarters of them are, and I love the colors. They're in really good shape, too, with few scratches and nicks.

"There goes Grandma's skilled for 25 cents." - That's what the girl said when I purchased the red enamelware piece for the baby room. I sure wouldn't have sold such a pretty piece for a quarter, especially if it was sentimental!

There was a sticker for 75 cents on one of these baskets, and I asked if that was for one or both, and I was told both, so they came home with me, too. :-) The lid on one of them isn't in very good shape, so I think I will remove it and the hinges and use it for an open basket.

After garage sales Melissa arrived in town from Lander, and we began moving furniture around. She took a loveseat and coffee table from downstairs, and when Jamie arrived to help she, Melissa and Scott moved the armoire from the garage to its proper place in the baby room downstairs. I was glad I hadn't worked on it at all, as it did end up with a gouge from the steps, but all in all it went pretty well.

We tried to take the crib downstairs, but it wouldn't fit so we ended up taking it apart, and I'll paint it outside in pieces before reassembly downstairs.

Because of all the other things we were getting done, I didn't get to start on painting the crib, but my chalk paint and wax is still waiting!

When we were done with furniture moving Melissa and I went out for ice cream, stopped by the new camera shop here in town and went to Salvation Army, where she purchased these chairs that I had seen a couple weeks earlier. She also got the neatest folding chairs, which were made in Connecticut and have to have been one of the first prototypes for modern folding chairs - it took us a few minutes to figure out how to get the contraptions to fold up.

Melissa headed back to Lander shortly after five, and Scott and I went to Old Chicago for dinner with the Martinez family.

On Sunday, much to Scott's delight, I had him help me with more projects around the house, including edging the front flower bed, spraying weeds, cleaning the patio and moving our extra firewood around to the north yard.

That's when I also swept the patio and rearranged, using some of the firewood stumps to elevate some of my pots. Although it's nothing spectacular, it looks a lot better than it did! Most of the planters pictured are in full sun all afternoon, so they have my spinach, lettuce and herbs, which can take the heat. The few pots that don't have anything growing yet I planted with the last leftovers from my seed packets.

This concrete pad next to the driveway was filled with firewood, but now I've turned it into a plant center. I'm not entirely happy with it, but will continue to tweak it, I'm sure. It's in part shade, so my more particular flowers should do well and not burn up.

After cleaning the office, Scott made me take a nap, which actually felt pretty good, and then we went out to check on the fillies, who are doing well. Cindy Lou's crooked knee has straightened up quite a bit in the last two weeks.

When we got home this gentleman tom turkey was getting ready for night in a neighbor's tree.

Several days ago I first saw him in another neighbor's front yard, and Scott told me I must be crazy. But ever since then he's been hanging out in the neighborhood, and seems quite content.

So that was our weekend. Busy, but we got a lot done. I was glad to come to work today, to take a break. :-) Tressa and I have a photo shoot planned for this evening for our July 4th cover this weekend, and hopefully we get a nice sunshiney sunset with gorgeous light... We've had a lot of thunderstorms go through in the afternoon/evening, so I'm hoping for the best. Today I also go to the baby doctor - on a three-week schedule now, as we count down the last 10 weeks!

Friday, June 24

It's already Friday!

The thing about working at the Roundup is that weeks tend to pass very quickly. That can be good, in that time doesn't drag at all, but it can also be bad, because some weeks there aren't enough office hours to get everything accomplished.

This week was one of those where things were busy, and my 29th week of pregnancy is gone before I know it.

On Tuesday several members of the Roundup staff traveled to Buffalo, where we attended the 2011 Environmental Stewardship Tour on the Fieldgrove family ranch - that's one of their Red Angus cows in the photo above.

Each year the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and other partners select a Wyoming operation for the Leopold Conservation Award. The award is named after Aldo Leopold, one of the first to champion agricultural conservation, although many operations had been implementing "conservation" practices long before they were recognized as such.

Anyway, the Fieldgroves were this year's focus, and about 125 people went to their ranch for a tour that highlighted their conservation practices, which include managing a burned area for sagebrush reintroduction, dealing with water development left over from coalbed methane production and a goat herd used to control an awful leafy spurge infestation, which had existed ever since Ryan Fieldgrove's days growing up on the ranch.

The weather was gorgeous, the tour was intriguing, and a good time was had by all. :-)

Then, on Wednesday I was in the office, before heading down to the Wyoming High School Rodeo Finals in Douglas on Thursday.

There I just took some photos and interviewed some kids for an article in this week's paper. My interviewees were Wiley and Kellee King of Casper. Wiley is competing in saddle broncs and bull riding, while Kellee's events are barrel racing and goat tying.

So that's about all I've been up to... I've been getting more tired in the mornings and evenings, so I haven't got as much accomplished around the house as I would like, especially on new projects, but I have managed to maintain the regular everyday housework and some cooking. :-)

Monday, June 20

Weekend in Photos: Honest Horses

Yesterday we went up to Kaycee to help Uncle Sonny and Aunt Carole brand a group of calves between rain showers. The weather held, the cattle worked smoothly and I, being on 'light duty' this summer, kept my camera in hand.

At this branding, in addition to the usual photos and angles, I tried to focus on the horses.

You just can't beat a good working ranch horse.

They know their job, and they do it well.

After April had a filly last Friday evening, bring me to two for two, I will still be in search of a gelding to get started.

These horses know how to quietly move into a bunch of cows and calves, tracking one calf at a time for their rider to rope.

They don't get excited, or stir things up.

And then they patiently drag calves, one by one, to the branding stove.

Then they wait, some of them holding one end of the calf, until branding, vaccinating, ear-marking and castrating is finished up, all of which only takes a matter of a minute or two.

They are the silent partners on ranches, but that doesn't mean they're underappreciated.

Because every cowboy and rancher knows the value of having a sound, solid and smart partner.

Friday, June 17

J802: A Step Back in Time

Today I am using some of my Friday afternoon 'free' time before starting next week's paper to organize photos, shifting some to my external hard drive and editing and labeling others for Tracy to use as stock photos for the paper.

As a part of this, I also emptied and formatted the memory card in my phone, which has been collecting photos for quite some time.

Amongst them are these photos of my old apartment that I took the last time I was ever there, after all the vacuuming, scrubbing and cleaning was finished. I've been saving them on my phone with the intention of putting them on my computer someday.

I must have done a pretty good job cleaning, because even after living there from August 2006 to April 2010, and the usual marks of an everyday, lived-in place, I got my deposit back.

It had the large living area, which was mostly open to the kitchen, and two bedrooms and a bathroom, as well as a closet in the hallway for washer and dryer, which I lived without for at least a couple years, if not three. That meant regular treks to the community laundry facility up the hill at the apartment office.

Although I didn't like the idea of renting, I wanted to be sure the Roundup and this state were something I was going to stick with for quite some time, and after four years and a new position at the Roundup, it was time for an upgrade. I had begun looking at houses a year before, but had to be patient, because I just couldn't make a house payment pencil out with my Roundup salary at that time. As it turned out, all things truly did work together for good.

The patience paid off, because now I've been in a house that I love for a little over a year, and it was worth the wait. Although I certainly don't wish to be back in the apartment, it was good to me, and was ideal for what I needed, when I needed it, and you might say I miss it, in a way. It represents a chapter in my life that has ended, and one that I remember fondly - cats, roommates, patio garden, the dog Beacon, sewing projects, cooking, Link out in the grass on a leash, making do with free TVs...

I'm glad that I hadn't moved yet before I started hanging out with Scott, so that he, too, knows a little taste of what it was like when I lived there.If you look back at any number of my blog posts before April 2010, you're sure to find plenty of photos in and around the apartment.

Thanks for your patience with my reminiscing. :-) It's sure to continue as I get deeper into organizing my photos... flipping through my computer photo files is like flipping through an old photo album.

Thursday, June 16

Trailing cows on a summer Saturday

Last Saturday Scott and I were able to take advantage of gorgeous summer weather and do some riding up at the Association.

The girls were also glad to take advantage of the day, and we let them come with us to help move a group of cows and calves from one pasture to another.

The girls take their job very seriously. In this photo they were going with Scott to help him get a cow out of that boggy area down in the draw.

The first task was to gather the cows...

As both my mares are still on baby duty, I rode Scott's gelding Deets.

The Ferrises and surrounding smaller mountains were very pretty that day.

The cows, of course, kept trying to drift the wrong direction - away from the direction of the gate they needed to go through - but eventually they were all pointed the right way.

This was when we finally had them all gathered and strung out up the appropriate draw.

Then it was just a matter of keeping them moving along - the trek to the gate was probably a couple miles from this point.

It was a lovely day for a ride! That's Scott and Fiddler off to the right.

Bob and his dogs were also out riding with us.

Eventually we left the lower end of the draw and got back into trails through the sagebrush.

Notice how Scott stole the dogs for most of the ride! I had no help with my wayward cows. :-(

And we finally reached the gate, where Bob is standing off to the left to guide them into the pasture to the north.

The pups were getting pretty tired by this point.

And then we rode home...

Foxy doing her Foxy thing. She's gotten pretty good at moving cows, but sometimes she gets confused as to which one she's supposed to go after, so she just bales into the middle of all of them, oftentimes cutting in front of the one you want chased up. :-)

I like the big clump of cottonwoods that signals how close - or how far - you are from the ranch house. They were very pretty last fall.

The dogs were greatful for a water hole along the way.

By the time we hit the gate into the yard, I was ready to stretch out my joints, and I wasn't about to climb back up on Deets, so Scott took this one of us standing next to each other, instead.

Lu and I resting in the shade of the horse barn after unsaddling and turning the horses out - we both needed a break!

Foxy was also pretty pooped, and had her eyes full of dust, but it was a good ride, and I think we were all glad to get out of town and enjoy the day.