Friday, July 25, 2008

Flying HIgh




Today was the day to capture a couple of photos of local flyers.





This morning, as I finished feeding the llamas, I looked up to see this goldie on Vertebrae Rock right beside the house. Although I am used to seeing golden eagles in the area, and they seem quite used to us as well, it is rare to see them this close. He (she?) seemed unconcerned by my presence and I was able to get at least 20 shots - all in RAW - before he simply walked to the other side of the rock and out of sight. I will say, I didn't like the way he was looking at Frank so the poor cat had to stay inside for the rest of the morning through no fault of his own.






This afternoon I snapped a couple shots of this swallowtail on the butterfly bush. He is pretty beat up but the colors are still beautiful.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

potpourri

The last thing I said in my previous post was that I was going to try and be more regular in my writing. That was certainly my intention, but then things went a little screwy. Two days after my last post I sat down to write and discovered I was unable to access any blogger sites. Not only couldn't I post to my own space, I couldn't even pull up any site that had anything to do with blogger.com. Nothing else on my computer seemed to be affected and I soon ascertained that no one else I knew was having the same issue. For the next five days I spent far too much time trying to figure out what was wrong. I changed my browser, I deleted cookies and temporary files, I closed one eye and then the other, I even deleted the last update from Microsoft thinking that had something to do with it. Nothing worked. Then I got up one morning, clicked on my blog and up it popped. I will probably never know what happened. I don't think it had anything to do with my actions; it just decided to start working again. I decided to catch up the next day as I knew I would soon be leaving on another trip and would not have computer access for a while. I sat down at the computer and realized I didn't have any Internet access. Period. Not only that, I soon realized I had no long distance telephone service either. When watching the news at noon I found out that service was down all along the State line and would be out for the rest of the day. So much for my good intentions!


Last Wednesday I left for Colorado Springs for a week. The trip was related to meetings that Ken had to attend for a company for which he sits on the Board of Directors. We have attended this gathering every year for the last fifteen and it is really the week of the year when I become totally and absolutely spoiled. The meetings are held in a different location each year - last year we went to Rome - but they occasionally return to old favorites, like the Broadmoor. This was my fourth visit to that amazing place. This is no small gathering. This year the attendance was almost 800 people. One of the most amazing things about the week is the entertainment provided. They typically break the group into two and each section has a night at a location with a private concert. In this way I have seen The Beach Boys, Glenn Frey (The Eagles), Emmy Lou Harris, Ricky Scaggs, Alison Krause, Vince Gill, Amy Grant and, this year, Huey Lewis and the News, up close and personal. In almost all cases I have had my picture taken with the performers as well as with many other wonderful entertainers and speakers including my favorite, several years ago in Switzerland, Margaret Thatcher. The week is amazing for many other reasons as well - the food is incredible, the events are spectacular and the company is thoroughly enjoyable. I was still glad to get home once the week was over!


Search and Rescue is in full swing right now. We get one or two calls a week and have to be ready to run at a moments notice. The night before I left for Colorado we had a call to a lake near here. Because of the location I was the first to arrive upon the scene where I found a gentleman in severe pain from a spinal injury. I knew he was going to be a perfect patient when the first thing he did was offer me his bug spray even though he was in terrible shape. We ended up transporting him by boat to the boat ramp where we were able to get him up the bank and into the waiting ambulance. I hope he is okay.


It seems like I have had one issue pop up after another over the last month. When I think nothing else can possibly go wrong, it does. My three year old computer totally died, as did my 7 year old front-loading washer followed almost immediately by my refrigerator of the same age. In both cases they said they couldn't be repaired so I have had to replace them. The replacement fridge, delivered the day before I left for Colorado, is defective and I have not yet been able to convince Sears they need to replace it. They keep insisting I need to have it fixed under warranty even though it was a defective product, not one where something broke down after I had it for a while. My car, with just about 100,000 miles on it, is making really bad noises and they are saying they will probably have to replace the 4-wheel drive system. They are also saying it will be incredibly pricey to do so. On last month's credit card bill there was a charge for a stay at a motel in Jackson Hole where we have never stayed. Numerous calls resulted in them admitting they had made a mistake and promising to credit our bill. Instead, this month I open the bill to discover not only haven't they issued a credit, they have charged us again! Many more calls resulted in profuse apologies from them with another promise that it will be fixed next month. We will see. Then I arrived home Monday to find one of my front windows shattered. I suspect the culprit was a pigeon although there is no sign of the poor thing anywhere. Because of our remote location, the estimate to fix the window is almost $1000. That's what I get for bragging about my good luck last month!


It is funny how the wildlife seems to know when we are gone for a few days. I always see more animals within a few days of returning from a trip than I do at other times. Yesterday there were mule deer everywhere. We have two huge bucks hanging around plus several mamas and a few babies. This bambi has terrible scars on its face. I suspect it met up with the resident coyotes at some point.

This morning I went on my usual run. For some reason I decided to stop about halfway across the lower field, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden a big jack rabbit sprung up from a sagebrush not two feet away from me. What magnificent animals they are! Their ears are way too long, their eyes are too far apart and their feet are beyond belief. It makes me wonder how many of the creatures I pass every morning without even being aware of their presence!

I saw the first group of chukar babies yesterday. There were only six little ones tagging along behind mama so I hope there will be other groups around soon.
If I can ever finish dealing with all the issues that have been popping up I have a number of quilts to finish. I can't believe it is almost August. Winter will be back before we know it!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer has Arrived!

Carol asked to see a photo of my new do, so here it is. Short and grey. I like it - I am not so sure Ken is too crazy about it though. I will let it grow out a little but I think the grey is here to stay.

I may have spoken too soon about the lack of snakes this year. Ken got home last evening and had an encounter with a rattler this morning. The little sucker was curled up inside one of the laying boxes in the chicken coop. That is why it is not a good idea to stick your hand in blindly searching for eggs unless you have looked first. Luckily, Ken had. Unlike me, he decided to give the grabber pole a try and has declared it a success. He was able to relocate the angry asp quite a ways behind the house.

I have convinced Ken I have become rather attached to the darn pack rat living in the grill. So when we go into town later today we will buy a live trap and see if we can add him to our pest relocation program.

I haven't had my road bike out for a while so when I got up yesterday morning and saw the total lack of wind I decided to forgo my normal run and do a bike ride up the canyon instead. It is not a very long ride - a total of about twenty miles round trip - but it offers some interesting challenges. The first ten miles are uphill into the wind. I would not even consider riding the canyon if there was any breeze at all at our place. It could be dead calm at every other spot on the planet and you could still be assured the wind would be howling down that stretch of road. But as long as you are willing to tough out the west bound leg, the ride offers some amazing rewards. The scenery is spectacular, the traffic is nonexistent and the return trip is ten miles downhill with the wind at your back! So I loaded my bike in the back of the Tahoe and drove several miles down gravel roads until I hit pavement. There I unloaded my bike and pointed west. I struggled to maintain a speed of 13 miles an hour on the out leg but once I turned around I thought I was Lance Armstrong! I easily kept the speed at 20 miles an hour or more on the way back and even topped 42 mph on the one short, steep downhill. I will have to make a concerted effort to trade in my run for a bike more often.

The mule deer have been incredibly active lately. It seems like every time I step out the door I startle several. This gal came by yesterday and she was so intent on eating the sweet yucca blooms that she didn't seem to mind getting her picture taken.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Critters

Our friend Mary said she has seen more snakes this year than any in recent memory. I was surprised because we have had the opposite experience. I can count the times I've come across a snake on our place since April on one hand; definitely not the norm for around here. Still, I'm on full alert every time I enter the feed shed. That is where the mice hang out so it only makes sense the snakes will show up eventually. Yesterday I approached the shed with my usual caution. There is a wooden door jamb at the entrance and I always stomp my feet on it a couple times to announce my arrival. Snakes don't see or hear too well but they are good at sensing vibration and will usually let you know if they are around. I listened for a minute after signalling my presence and, not hearing anything, entered to go about the feeding. The shed is not very big. It measures about 10' x 10' and seems much smaller once you are inside because of the hay bales on one side and the four large garbage cans filled with llama treats and chicken feed on the other. There are two old coolers stacked behind the garbage bins that the big feed pail and scoop sit on top of. I reached out and lifted the pail and there behind it, right at the level of my belly button, was a good sized rattle snake coiled and ready to strike. I backed up and considered my options. Now I know logically that a rattler cannot strike more than about half its body length and I knew he wasn't about to launch himself through the air at me, but I have to admit I was feeling a little uncomfortable with his obvious irritation at my presence. I did some quick calculating and decided that as long as he would keep himself visible I could go about the feeding and leave him to hunt down mice the rest of the day. I also know from past history that the vipers don't usually hang around the same place for more than a day, so I thought I could let him be and he might just get rid of a few rodents for my kindness. After Ken got bit by a rattler in the shed last year, I bought a grabber pole like the kind used in zoos. But I wasn't real excited about trying it out for the first time on a snake that was at waist level and pretty irritated. It took me about twenty minutes to finish feeding and that snake didn't stop rattling for any of it. Which I appreciated because it let me know exactly where he was every time I went in or out of the shed. Once I was done I closed off the cat door so Frank wouldn't stumble into a bad situation and I left the snake to his hunting. You can bet I searched the shed well before I entered this morning but, as expected, the slinky visitor had moved on.
We had a short, violent storm move through last night. It couldn't have lasted more than ten minutes but it still managed to cause some flash flooding in the coolies around the house. This morning I looked out and realized the blooms were all gone off the yucca in the garden. I am sure glad I took a photo yesterday when it looked so perfect! At first I thought the denuding must have been caused by the wind and rain last evening but then I heard a "ping, ping" coming from the gas grill and I suspected a different culprit. Sure enough, I went outside, pulled the cover off the grill, opened the lid and there, lounging in a bed of fresh cut yucca blooms was a lousy packrat! They have got to be one of the most destructive animals alive for their size. They collect everything! This guy looked at me like I was interrupting his morning tea and obviously expected me to close the lid and let him get on with it. Where was that rattle snake when I really needed him?! I called Frank the cat and showed him the critter and Frank did just what I expected - he turned tail and ran. He has been on the losing side of a battle with a packrat before and the memory was obviously still painful. So I did what I had to do. I got a broom and I chased his little butt out of the grill and into his hole in the garden wall. I am sure he will be back tonight and will probably collect the columbines this time!
A couple things I forgot to mention in yesterday's post:
1) I represented Search and Rescue by riding a four wheeler in the Fourth of July Parade in Cody on Friday. I am pretty sure that is the first time I have ever been in a parade and it was kind of fun. I was shocked by the hundreds of people lining the streets - I think the citizens from all the surrounding burgs must have come to Cody for the event.
2) I went totally gray on Wednesday. No, I wasn't scared or worried into it. I just got tired of putting chemicals on my head every few months to keep my hair blond. I have been dying my hair for more than twenty years. For the first few years it was just highlights but it wasn't long before I went to all over color to hide the incoming gray. My hairdresser said she would need to cut it short to get rid of all the color and I told her to go for it. I now have much less hair than either my father or brother. Debra warned me that people will assume I have been sick and she is probably right. Yes, it is that short. I had a friend take a photo of me so I could email it to Ken. He gets home in a couple days and I wanted to give him a chance to get used to the new look before he arrived. After all, he will have to look at it a lot more than I will. Lucky for me, Frank the cat and the llamas and chickens don't seem to care.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Catching up - again

Whew! What a month June was! It felt like I was away more than I was home - probably because I was.

For ten days of the last month, I was living out of a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio. I was there attending the National Quilting Association Annual Quilt Show and Convention. Even though the Show was only a three day event, I had to be there days ahead of time for the judging. As a Candidate to become an NQA Certified Judge I am required to assist at the judging of the Annual Show at least twice during the five year process. I must assist at least once before I can even submit my paperwork so I was anxious to get this first experience under my belt. It was all I hoped for and more. The certification program has a lot of candidates right now so there was no lack of helpers in the judging rooms. The judges were excellent and I learned more than I ever thought possible from observing their actions and words for the three full days of judging show entries. What I didn't expect from the experience was that I met a lot people with the same interests as me and made some new friends.

After the judging was complete I had a day off before the official opening of the Show and its classes. I spent the morning visiting nearby galleries with another Candidate from New Hampshire and then I helped out with last minute Show details in the afternoon.

The next two days were spent in the Quilt Judging Seminar taught by Klaudeen Hansen and Anita Shackelford. It was especially helpful taking this two day class after having spent three days in the judging room. Klaudeen and Anita are excellent instructors and I am amazed at how much they packed into 16 hours of instruction.

I had few chances to get out and actually take in the Show, but when I did, it was a real treat to see my two entries hanging amidst the more than four hundred quilts in the Show. I was actually represented by a third quilt, "Island 2" which was there as part of the special exhibit from "Sacred Threads". This was my first chance to see some of the quilts from that exhibit up close and the experience was every bit as powerful as I expected. "Sacred Threads" is the brainchild of Vikki Pignatelli and I was scheduled to take a full day class from her on my last day at the Show. It was wonderful! I would recommend her as a teacher to anyone. She is generous with her knowledge and accomplished at her art and I am so glad I finally got to meet her and take her class.

Since arriving home I have been trying desperately to get caught up with everything. It has been a struggle with one thing after another demanding time and attention. While I was gone I missed two search and rescue calls. The first was for a horse wreck in the back country. The guy was pretty busted up with broken ribs, flail chest and a punctured lung. Ken was out until 2am Columbus time helping out. I know because I called every half hour until he got home. He has always told me the hardest thing for him when he travels is when I am out on a call and he imagines all sorts of things going wrong. I have always accused him of over-reacting but now I know exactly how he feels! The second call was for a guy that fell off his raft in the river and went out of sight of his friends. He was found safe and sound a few hours later. Shortly after I got home we had another call. This one was for a car in the river near Powell. We had to send a couple guys into the river to check the vehicle for bodies before we could call in a wrecker to haul it out. Ken and Chris and I were stationed along the bank with throw bags in case the two guys in the boat needed help. The rivers are at an all time high right now and currents are unpredictable. It turned out the car was empty and it showed up as stolen from a ranch several days earlier.
It has been hot since I got back. The flower garden is in full bloom, including the volunteer yucca that we have allowed to flourish. I was out watering yesterday when I heard the tell-tale noise of a tiny visitor. I looked around to see this little hummer making the most of the honeysuckle blooms. I don't know how they do it - every year we have a couple of the little creatures hanging around for much of the summer even though there seems to be very little for them to eat in this desert environment.
I have a few more days home before I head out again. I will try to be a little more regular about posting this summer, even though I would rather be outside than sitting in front of a computer!