Thursday, July 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Wyoming

Today is the 124th birthday of my home state, Wyoming. Even though I have not lived there since I graduated from high school, I still feel very attached to it emotionally. I  realize that the introduction of my blog extolls the wonderful sameness of California's lovely weather. I also have a soft spot for Maryland, after living there for ten years. I probably won't ever feel love for Nevada, but I tolerate it because I live here. Plus, it has several fine Western qualities of independence and cussedness. But, Wyoming will always have a special place in my heart.

When we were in the sixth grade, Wyoming celebrated 75 years of statehood. We staged a grand pageant in its honor. Most of the other students were like me---parents and grandparents had spent all of the their lives in our little valley in the Rocky Mountains, there on the western edge of Wyoming. I even wore a dress that was hand sewn by one of my grandmothers when she was a teen. (full disclosure...technically, she grew up on the Idaho side of the highway in her little town in the northern end of our valley...but she went to church and school in Wyoming!) Anyway, CoolGuy dressed in his cowboy hat, fringed jacket, and boots. Plus, he brought a neat old rifle to complement his outfit. Yes, he brought a fully functional gun (unloaded) to school for our program. Several boys did. It was a different time. Plus--it was Wyoming.

(I've had to crop it a little to make the people big enough to see.)
 You can see CoolGuy with his fake mustache in the center, rifle balanced on his legs. I'm seated on the second row, about four girls over to the right. I'm dressed in a blue gingham dress with a large white lace collar. You can see a couple of other boys holding or wearing their guns, if you look closely. It was an awesome pageant. I was part of a group of singers who performed "Springtime in the Rockies."

 Here is the state flower: Indian paintbrush. My fourth grade teacher taught us a song about it. I think she composed the tune to go along with a poem she knew.
 "A strange little flower with a sunkissed nose; without any perfume, yet red as a rose..."

 Here is an excellent example of the Wyoming state tree: the cottonwood. This one used to tower over our house when I was the little girl in between the two big sisters toward the back of this patient horse. It was actually two trees growing from one base and it loomed over the yard and provided shade, autumn leaves and a pretty cool climbing trunk. Unfortunately, its roots were pushing at our house's foundation and wrecking the basement walls, so it was cut down when I was about ten years old. 

State mammal: the American bison. No, it is not a buffalo. It is a bison. I know, I know, it is often called a buffalo. I mean, there's a city in Wyoming named for Buffalo Bill---Cody, Wyo. And there is another city--Buffalo, Wyo.  However, the actual name of this formidable beast is American bison. They're very cool and very crotchety---don't try to pet a wild one.

The state bird is the Western meadowlark. The warbling call of this bird still evokes my childhood. Their bright yellow breast, with the black chevron, made it easily visible as they perched on a fence post and called out, "[EarthSignMama] is a pretty little girl." Well, that's what my mom said it was saying. Turns out CoolGuy's mother told him the same story---not my name, but his name was being whistled loudly as a "good little boy."

The nickname is "Equality State" for giving women the right to vote before any other state did that. But it is also known as the Cowboy state, and the car license plates all display this bucking horse symbol, along with the number identifying which county you hail from. Bucking horses always mean Wyoming to me. 

Here we have the fabulous flag of the 44th state. I've always been glad that the designers chose something graphic and really distinctive for our fabric symbol. There's no mistaking what this represents. We share the colors with Old Glory, but that bison makes it ours. 

Here is a very typical Wyoming view from my part of the state in winter--lots of snow and mountains. 
(P.S. When I took this photo, it was in the afternoon, and it was 3 degrees.)

And here is a really great representation of a summer evening in June. 

But, lest you think I am romanticizing the place, or have my youthful memories clouded by the dimming abilities of age, I present you--

Spring Time on the Farm
It's melting snow mixed with...bovine effluent. It's slippery, it's smelly, it's on everything. Under this ankle-deep goo is a surface of melting ice, which adds to the treacherous footing, and keeps the sliminess working for weeks. It's warm and sometimes rainy during the days, and goes back to really cold at night. Summer is a fleeting event in my beloved home state---spring is erratic and temperamental and endless.

However, I'll still sing a chorus of Happy Birthday, and raise a glass of milk in her honor---Wyoming, Land of my Youth; state that I love; place that I try to visit only in the summer!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

It's So Quiet

It's pretty quiet here now. The floors are clean. The bathroom is neat and tidy. The cat is lying calmly on her special bed, without any competition for the space. The pigeons are relaxing near the hot tub in between baths and drinks. Sigh.

You see, last week, it was all quite different! We had the extra beds set up. The cool Space Robot plates were used for every meal. We had the Ninja Turtle bowls out for breakfast cereal, and again for ice cream after dinner. My Little Pony World was spread across the living room along the front of the couch, and Lego Land took up all the bare carpet space along the other wall.

It was definitely NOT quiet outside in the pool! There was barely a moment for pigeon Happy Hour, because that was the best time of day to don your goggles and see how far you could leap into the pool and get a rating from Grandpa CoolGuy on the angle of your turn. 90 degrees? 45 degrees? Let me try that again, and this time I'm going for 180!

It was Grandma Camp time at the Mojave Desert Resort! (aka--our house.) We got our photos in the green shirts at the Shark Reef. By wearing green shirts, you see, we are just floating heads in the big fish tank! (It's a tradition.) We stayed up late and watched movies. We did "night swimming" wherein the lights are turned on underwater, as well as the atmosphere-y little yard lights. We drove out to the desert to look at the night sky and name constellations. We had a blast, in other words.

Our daughter had a library conference to attend here, so she drove everyone down and dropped them off. Then, we had three days without her, and then three days with her. On her third day, our oldest son came down to spend the holiday weekend, and to celebrate his birthday. (His family is visiting their other grandma in another country.) We swam and ate and laughed and talked and watched funny stuff on TV.  A good time was had by all!

The swimming is always the highlight, though. One just cannot get enough swimming time when there are three excited adventurers out there, too. Every flotation device we own must be employed, or at least dragged out of the shed and put in the water. We invested in goggles with snorkel tubes a couple of years ago because they add a lot of fun to the water gun fights. Then, it was discovered how much fun swimming underwater is, and how nice it is to jump off the side without having water injected into your nose. Seriously, hours and hours of water time is the best part of Grandma Camp.

But, now it's over. Everyone went home. I'm sure they were happy to be back at their own place and with their own rooms. I've recovered now...that much fun is quite a lot of work and I'm not as young and vigorous as I once was. But, wow, it's so quiet. We haven't even gone back out to the pool yet. It would be so boring. Well, and it has been raining off and on...But seriously, it's so much fun with the grandchildren! We look forward to their visits, and I know that we all get together as much as we can. In the meantime, we have some great memories and some pretty great photos.

Sharks swim overhead at this aquarium.

 And you can pet the rays and horseshoe crabs.

Actually, you have your Grandpa pet them for you.

He is even COOLER, in this get-up.

We discovered how fun it was to be floating heads one summer when one of our party wore just the right color of green shirt. So, we went out and bought a set of green shirts for this photo opportunity each summer.

See, the Legos at our house were purchased about 25 years ago, at least. So, they are "classic" Legos, and therefore are pretty awesome to play with.


This is the sedate first night. After this calm episode, it was pretty much non-stop jumping into the pool. And lots of underwater swimming by the big brother and sister. 


If it floats, we use it! So much fun!!

See how much fun it is to watch what you're swimming through? 

There was a lot of leaping off the side into the water. 

Sometimes, it was more sedate...
but mostly it looked like this: 

Every Grandma Camp has to end, and it's a pretty glum day when they pack up and leave. We don't get to spend every minute with a face like this one. Grandpa is going through withdrawal.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Birthday, Birthday, Birthday

 (Arrgghh---I started this on July 1st, but I guess it was after midnight when it published.)

JULY 1st, 2014

Today we honor the Great Number One. Our first child was born today right, a pretty long time ago, now that I count up the years. So why is the memory of that event so vivid?? Probably because it was so momentous. We were young and probably a little dumb about all the ramifications, but we were excited to entering the world of parenthood. It seemed like the right thing to do just then. It was, turns out!

He was a great first effort, too. He's always been a calm and cheerful person. He was a joy to raise. He's probably the exact person you'd want for the oldest kid in your family. He was helpful and kind and just teased his sisters a little bit...

Now he's a really fine adult and a great dad and uncle. Here are a few photos from the life of a good man.

Wearing Daddy's boots

Playing in the yard in San Diego

 His daddy rides a Harley

 Ocean lover, swimmer, surfer

Soccer player

Hiking in the California coastal mountains

Wedding Day
  Fooling around with his Mini-Me son

 A good uncle to have around on baptism day
(with his sister and nieces and nephew)