Wednesday, August 29, 2012

She's a Sophomore!

There was only time for one quick snapshot--perhaps her Mom will have gotten some better ones.
Yesterday was the first day of school. I caught Megan on the fly when she ran upstairs to get something she'd left in my house. She paused just long enough for me to take this photo, then off she went for her first day as a sophomore.
We have a rather odd arrangement here for high school. There are two Junior Highs (now grades 7-9). Then there is a separate school some distance away that is Sophomores (10th grade) only. Juniors and Seniors are in yet another school.
I believe this odd arrangement came about because of the reluctance of our town to have two separate high schools. Sports enthusiasts are afraid that splitting into two high schools might weaken the sports teams as a power in the state. The South Campus, now for sophomores only, originally held certain classes, which involved students moving between North and South Campuses during the day. This meant students were on the road throughout the school day--a very inefficient, and even dangerous system, as it put students in their cars on the busiest street in town, rushing from one building to another.
So after a few years of that they decided that South Campus would be for sophomores only, and the constant traffic back and forth would be halted. However, band involves 9th through 12th grade students, so everyone meets at North Campus for band.
There is talk now of going to two completely separate high schools. But building schools is expensive. Maybe someday this odd arrangement we have will be normalized.
For now, sophomores rule in their own school!

Monday, August 27, 2012


Today my granddaughter Megan turns fifteen years old!

Her big plan for the day is to be at the DMV as soon as it opens so she can take the test for her learner' permit. (She's been wanting to drive for about the last ten years!)

She plans on becoming my chauffeur, which, as soon as she gets some experience with her parents as instructors, is fine with me.

She is an interesting mix of lovely young woman, excitable teenager, and little girl. She has a loving heart. She loves to read. Animals, band, and science are major interests for her. She has a goofy sense of humor. She enriches our lives immeasurably.

Happy Birthday, Megan!

Almost fifteen Megan inspecting her net for specimens of river life in Yellowstone Park. (Strictly catch and release.)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Yellowstone Tuesday

The smoke from the burning West carries for hundreds of miles on the winds, and has been keeping me trapped inside my house. Breathing too much of the smoke contaminated air gives me asthmatically painful lungs. I resent missing outdoor time as summer wanes, but I am mindful of the fact that dozens of families have lost their homes and possessions to the fires. Since I am housebound, I have been spending many hours working on my Yellowstone Photo Journal.

I took hundreds of photos while we were on our trip. I've sorted them into files for each day, named and numbered them, and started building my journal. When I was still in the working world, I prepared publications for the foundation where I was employed. I enjoy that sort of thing, so I use the some of the same techniques for myself. Because I am somewhat compromised visually, I now need to enlarge photos for my own ease of viewing. This means my photos will take up a lot of space, in addition to the narrative, even though I do a lot of cropping to home in on the important parts. I average only two to a page. So, even though I am using only a select few of the large number I took, I am already on page 39 of my vacation journal and I have just finished composing Day 3 (Tuesday, August 7).

My head and my time have still been in Yellowstone, so I'll share a few pictures from Day 3.

Anne Marie and Samantha the golden retriever climbed down the steep bank so Sam could drink from Lewis Lake.
I am at the viewing area of the Jackson Lodge, where we lunched. The smoky air makes the mighty Tetons almost fade away.

Old Faithful steaming and splashing preliminary to the big eruption.
There were ravens at Old Faithful, totally unfazed by the thermal activity surrounding them.

Megan running with Sam behind the Old Faithful Inn. This was before we knew she had a cracked leg bone.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reliving Yellowstone

I've been spending quite a few hours on the computer working on my photo journal of our trip to Yellowstone National Park. I took a great many pictures on the vacation (love that with digital cameras I can do that), and have been editing and selecting which ones to print. When I finish I will have a journal with narrative and photos. In concession to my various visual problems, I am sizing most of the photos quite large, which means I am already on page 19 and just finished day two! When I print this journal out, I'd better be well supplied with printer ink.

Since my head is still in our trip, here are a few more photos.

Looking down the face of the Buffalo Bill Cody Dam, located between Cody, Wyoming, and Yellowstone. The river was low below the spillway. I don't have any idea what that access point (?) near the bottom of the cliff is for.
West of the Dam is an area called "The Holy City"--someone thought the rock formations looked like ancient
Jerusalem. Anne Marie calls this formation "The Pope" and checks each year to see if he still has his head.

Storm clouds moving toward the Yellowstone River. Photo taken at the Nez Perce Crossing site.

This is the view looking toward the river; it was a surprise when we turned around and saw the storm clouds racing toward us. The river was much lower this year than in the past few years. The gravel bar shown here was completely under water last year. And it did rain heavily as we traveled on down the road.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What God Enjoys

Tell them that as surely as I am the living LORD God, I don't like to see wicked people die. 
I enjoy seeing them turn from their sins and live.
(Ezekiel 33:11 Contemporary English Version)

I love this verse! After 32 chapters of visions and messages warning of terrible judgments for their idolatry and wickedness to all the Middle East countries of his time, Ezekiel gets this message. 

Many people think of God as a mean old man with a long gray beard who is just waiting to zap them for every mistake they might make, a stern and unyielding judge who doesn't want anyone to have any fun. Yes, God must judge, but that is not what he enjoys! The reason for all the dire warnings is so that God does not have to punish or judge. That brings no joy to our Creator. People turning from sin and living--now that is the thing that brings him pleasure!

View from Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park. Just a little bit of the beauty of our Creator's world.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Accidental Napping

Everyone needs a nap sometimes. My husband would set his watch alarm for twenty minutes after lunch, settle comfortably in his big recliner, and drop into a nap. When the twenty minutes were up, he woke refreshed and ready to go back to work.

Some companies I have read about have napping areas where workers can take a short nap and return to their jobs with an increased level of alertness and efficiency.

I've also read reports of some high-achieving, type A, genius level people who sleep only a very few hours at night, but take short catnaps during the day.

And some of us take accidental naps.

I blame it on age. As a senior citizen I tend to have broken sleep at night. So I am just not as rested as I would like to be.during the daytime. (While blaming it on age, to be honest I must confess to my lifelong tendency to become engrossed in a book and read far into the night. But I've lost my ability to sleep-in the next morning. I just keep waking up early.)

But I am not very good at taking naps. I may feel like I need a nap, but if I lie down on my bed, arrange my pillows for maximum comfort, and close my eyes, sleep rarely comes. My brain bounces around from one thing to another. The longer I lie there, the more restless I feel. I find that I am not really relaxed; I'm squeezing my eyes closed with tense muscles. So, I give it up and get up. No nap.

However, I take a lot of accidental naps.

For example, today I was sitting in my comfortable desk chair in my office corner; I was reading a book on my Kindle. And mid-sentence my eyes fell closed and my chin headed toward my chest. I don't know how long I was "out"--but there it was--an Accidental Nap!

I sometimes have three or four accidental naps a day. They don't last long and the sleep is not deep, but evidently they supply some of the rest my brain says I need. Yes, I am one of those old fogies napping in the chair! Just another Accidental Napper.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Home Again--Back from Yellowstone National Park

Here I am, on the path that runs along the rim of the Yellowstone Canyon.

I'm not going to try to give a detailed vacation report. That's always a big yawn for anyone not a part of the trip. So, just a few photos and a few notes about our week.

Bison Battle
I thought about naming this blog "Bison Love Songs," because it was the courting phase of mating season for the bison in the Park. It was the first time we had been there during this season, and it was very different from the way the bison behave earlier in the summer. When we have been in the Park in June or July, the bison bulls tend to hang out together or wander alone. The bison cows and calves move about in herds, grazing in the meadows.

This year, in August, we saw quite a different mix. The bulls were mostly with the cows and calves. In fact, they were mostly in bull and cow pairs, with the calves in attendance with their mothers. Each bull stuck very close to his cow, herding her where he thought she ought to be. Occasionally a cow would try to get away from the pesky fellow, but he would soon have her under control again. The bull can scent when the cow ovulates and is ready for mating; in the meantime he is keeping her very, very close. The most amazing thing about it all was the constant "singing" of the bulls. They emit a constant rumbling sound that is a cross between a deep snore and a growl, with occasional loud blats. It is not very melodic to the human ear, but surely carries messages to their own species. I'm guessing that it is a courtship song to the cow and a warning to other bulls to stay away. When there is a large number of these massive animals singing their songs, it is quite something to hear.

Of course, mating season means that the bulls are in very testy moods and little scuffles to big fights break out here and there. One of these happened right by the highway and narrowly missed spilling into the cars stopped to watch.

The Tetons, seen through a haze of smoke.

The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone Canyon

Eagle photographed from across the Yellowstone River.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Getting Ready to Go

Vacation time is almost here! On Sunday we leave for Yellowstone National Park. Vacations are for having a change from routine, for doing something different, for relaxing and refreshing both mind and body.
This is me last year at the overlook of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone Canyon.

So. . .to be ready for all those good things, there is a stressful time of trying to get everything ready for an extended time away from home.

The hardest parts of getting ready fall upon my daughter and son-in-law. They have busy lives anyway, and getting ready to go adds shopping, vehicle preparation, arranging for pet and yard care, getting their family's clothes and miscellaneous items organized and packed, and, for Anne Marie, baking her special Oatmeal-Mixed Fruit Cookies. They are high nutrition, delicious, and much better than all those food bars or trail mixes on the market.

Getting ready is, for me, less complicated and stressful. I only have to get myself ready. My days of having to organize everything for a family are past. I just need to get my laundry done and packed. For going to Yellowstone my wardrobe is very simple--jeans and t-shirts. Add undergarments, something to sleep in, shoes and a jacket, and that's it. The most complicated items to organize and pack are all the extras--think everything you use on a daily basis in getting ready for your day, plus things like reading material, cameras (and their chargers, download cords, and cases), laptop computer, binoculars, shoes, and so forth. All of a sudden the easy packing of simple clothing balloons! Still, pretty simple compared to getting a family ready to go on the road.

I like to leave my house reasonably clean, so it is pleasant to come home to. Part of the pleasure of a vacation is coming home to my own place and my own bed again! We have a good neighbor who will keep the flowers watered, so my deck garden will be OK while I am gone.

It's funny, but the closer it gets to time to go the more reluctant I become to leave my familiar place and routine. It doesn't matter how much I may have looked forward to going somewhere, when it is almost time to go I start feeling like I'd rather stay home.

Then, as soon as we are out of town, all that rolls away. I feel free. No pressure. Looking forward. On vacation!