I recently spent some time in North Dakota and the woods of Minnesota. By the way, I never could figure out how they numbered their roads. All I can think is they start from one border, and just keep going until they get to the other border. Really, 510th Street, in the middle of nowhere?
We traveled to North Dakota for a family wedding. We spent a couple of nights in an RV park next to some sort of bean field. Soybeans are the most common type of bean grown in that area, followed by pinto beans, and table beans. I have no idea why pintos are split off into their own category from the rest of the edible beans.
It has long been my husband's dream to canoe the length of the entire Mississippi River from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, MN to the Gulf of Mexico by New Orleans. He does not want to be a through paddler (the whole river in one trip.) After the wedding we headed to Lake Itasca, and he and his nephew were able to get underway. After the first day, the plan was that I would drop husband and kayaks off at a predetermined put in spot, and follow Nephew to a predetermined take out spot, then ferry Nephew back to the put in spot. The men would then spend the day on the river, while I was free to hike, write, or generally do as I pleased. This meant making an almost 60 mile round trip to resupply groceries at one point, and a couple treks to find cell service so I could take care of some business matters.
My river rat is off! Naturally, the Mississippi starts out fairly shallow and narrow. It is very pretty, nonetheless. We were forced to take a detour on one of the trips to drop Nephew's truck off. This detour was endless, and was taking us farther away from where we needed to go. Approximately 30 miles later, we finally decided to turn around, and try a two track road that led deeper into the woods. Nephew hoped it would put us where we needed to be. We slipped and slid as the road got narrower and narrower. It would have worked, except the road was supposed to make a turn into a hay field. The gate to hay field was padlocked shut. We got turned around, and slipped and slid back out. We decided to go past the detour/road closed sign, only to find the correct road right on the other side of the barricade. Nephew dropped off his truck, I ferried him back to my husband, and they began paddling again.
I spent my days hiking and enjoying some quiet contemplation. The above photo was taken at an Indian burial ground. A beautiful little trail went around the burial mounds and connected with some other trails. This was a very peaceful place, as was the cemetery where a few of the early settlers were buried.
As all good things must, our travel time quickly came to an end. We made our way home, including getting lost on the South Dakota prairie when we took a wrong turn. Now that I am retired from teaching, I know there will be many more adventures ahead. I am definitely looking forward to them!
#NorthDakota #SouthDakota #Lakeitaska #Travel #Mississippiriver #wrongturns #Minnesota
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, probably as a result of articles that seem to pop up in my suggested reads on various web pages. Said articles have suggested that we are a work driven, possession driven, goal driven society. As a person who has always been goal driven, these articles started me thinking.
Somewhere along the way, probably as far back as when I was a kid, I started becoming that goal driven person, who had to do everything correctly, to the best of my ability, and hopefully be successful. Success was measured in many ways, including making money and winning prizes. There wasn't, and haven't been a lot of things in life that I have done "just for the fun of it." There was always a purpose, an end goal.
I think about some of the hobbies I have had that I basically burned out on because I turned them into mini businesses, in the hopes of making money. (Granted, there were times in my life when I really did need to make some extra money, and they were a skill set I had.) I also think of some of the things I have tried, and haven't pursued because I wasn't good at them.
We have the misguided idea that we have to be good at everything we do.
Being told we are doing something the wrong way seems to be quite popular. I am sure you have seen the video with the headline that screams, "You Have Been Peeling Your Bananas All Wrong!" Apparently, grasping the top of the banana and pulling down to peel it is incorrect. One should start from the bottom and peel it. I even had a colleague at work point out during lunch one day that I was peeling my banana wrong. It was then that I had the first of many epiphanies.
Did the peel come off the banana? Was I able to eat the banana? The answer was yes in both cases. Then it dawned on me...was the way I peeled my banana wrong, or was it just another way to accomplish a task? I decided it was the latter.
Then I got to thinking about other areas of my life. Do I have to be the best at everything I do? Do I have to do it the "right way?" Or is it okay just to do something because I enjoy it? I have decided that again, the latter should be my guide. The driving force should be enjoyment, and that is going to be my focus this year. Notice I didn't use the "g" word. I may eliminate that one from my vocabulary, or relegate it to an area in my brain where the other four-letter words reside, and are rarely allowed out to play.
This is the first year in almost a lifetime that I haven't sat down in January and mapped out my goals for the year. I didn't make a Vision board to hang where I would see it everyday. I haven't even written down a motivational quote to guide me for the year. My word for the year is "Surprise." My quote goes along with that - "Expect the unexpected."
Do I regret being a life-long goal setter? Absolutely not. It always got me where I wanted, and more importantly where I needed to go. I have mostly done what I set out to do each year because I had a plan and worked that plan. I highly encourage young people to set goals. I still recommend it if you want or need a road map to guide you in your journey.
I will still have plans, but they won't necessarily meet the SMART goal criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.) If those plans happen, great! But I am not going to be under pressure to accomplish something by a certain time. To use another cliche, what will be, will be.
We will see how it goes!
#goals #unexpected #visionboard #SMART #surprise
Wow! I just looked and noticed my last post was three-months ago! It is probably no coincidence that the school year started then, lol! One of my goals for this year is to write a blog post once a month, and hopefully, twice a month. You know me and my goal setting!
Someone asked me where I most enjoyed writing. While I love being outside journaling, the nitty-gritty writing gets done at my grandmother's desk. According to my late uncle, this desk was purchased in the early 20th century from the May D & F store in Denver, Colorado. The D & F stands for Daniels and Fisher.
David May founded the May Company in Leadville, Colorado in 1877. He moved the business to Denver in 1888. Prior to that, the Daniels & Fisher Company store had been founded in Denver in 1864. The two businesses merged in 1957, and became May D & F. I am not sure which company actually sold the desk to my grandparents.
I did a bit of research and found out this style of desk is called a "bureau." I also saw some current values on these desks. I think my grandparents would be astounded, as I know they lived modestly their entire lives.
As you can see, the front of the desk folds down to provide an ample writing surface. It creaks a bit when I am writing, but it is quite sound and solid. There is also a very spacious drawer that is hidden by the fold-down front in the photo. The drawer still has its original (probably brass) round drawer pulls, and a row of (probably brass) beading on the bottom of the curved drawer front.
The best part of this desk, however, are the many cubby holes to stash stuff in. As you can see, I love pens of all colors and varieties. I still do much of my writing by hand, hence there are pencils and erasers, note cards and sticky notes too, along with a variety of other "stuff."
I know my grandmother would be astounded to know a machine often sits on the desk, a machine that allows me to communicate instantly with people around the world, and allows me to look up almost anything I want to know more about. Face it, she was amazed when she saw me playing with a Spirograph toy when I was a child. She could not believe the designs I made. I think a computer and a cell phone would have been beyond her belief.
My desk sits in a corner of my sun room. I am surrounded by plants. I can look out in the summer and see the bees buzzing in my flowers, gathering their valuable pollen from day lilies, Oregon Trail roses, pansies, petunias, bee balm and garlic. The occasional hummingbird flits in for a taste of the hollyhocks. In the winter, the bunnies come visit. If I am still, they remain for a long time. Today I am listening to wind roar. It is the end of January, cold and snowy in Wyoming. It is a good day to be inside, with sun shining through the windows, belying the harsh weather outside.
#desk #antique #grandparents #writing #pens #coloradohistory
"You are never too old, and it is never too late." I am not sure who first said this, but it is very true. In my April blog post, I told you about a goal I had. That goal was to win a barrel racing buckle. I then modified that goal, and decided I wanted to have my horse running in the 18 second range on the barrel pattern. Did I make that goal? Nope. But, as they say, there is always next year.
Cam and I did have a major setback. Raging forest fires to the north and west filled the Laramie Valley with smoke. What started as an occasional cough turned into a full-blown medical problem. On August 13, the vet started Cam on steroids and antihistamines. I couldn't ride her any faster than a walk without serious coughing on her part. The vet prescribed exercise as tolerated. It was not well tolerated. At that point, I was resigned to that fact that our season might be over.
We did make it back to the last race of the season before the finals. But taking a month off showed. We were back where we started. She was still coughing a bit if I attempted to push her in the slightest.
Two weeks later, we hauled to Wheatland, Wyoming for the district finals. We had a good warm up, and a good run. She coughed a couple of times at the end of the run. And how did we do?
We did meet a goal....we walked away with the 4D Senior buckle. We didn't always win the points for being the fastest pair in our division, because we weren't. But, with the exception of her getting sick, we were consistent. We showed up, and we kept trying. We never gave up. Even more surprising was our Reserve Championship in the Open 4D division!
Cam has had October off. We did ride a few times, and did some lunge work. Now that it is getting cold, much of the winter will be spent with turnout and the latter type of work. We will get serious again in the spring. What will next year's goal(s) be? We will see. as I am starting to think about them. But you can be sure I will be setting some!
#barrrelracing #winning #goalsetting #NBHA #AQHA
My students went through 312 pencils last year. This may not seem like a lot, until you consider that I teach at a small alternative high school. My smallest class was eight students, my largest fifteen. I did some calculating and figured out that my students, on average, went through roughly seven pencils each during the school year. This would not be unreasonable, except the school administrative assistant gave out a bunch of pencils as did the math teacher. The least of my student's worries were whether they had a pencil or not.
I have had people say that high school students should be more responsible. Perhaps this is true. It seems that students today have more to worry about. Maybe they do. Perhaps it is because teachers and administrators are more sensitive to student needs now than they were in the past. Some of my students come from fully functional, two-parent homes. Others may only have one parent, but seemingly "have it together." Others are not so lucky.
I have had kids who are responsible for getting their younger siblings up, dressed, and on their way to their respective schools in the morning.
I have had kids who have no idea where they will be sleeping for the night, because their family is getting evicted.
I have had kids who wonder how they will stay warm when the Wyoming weather and wind brings temperatures into the negative 20s or worse, and the utilities have been cut off for lack of payment.
I have kids who had to shower and do their laundry at school because they did not have running water at home.
I had a girl who literally had snow coming through the ceiling of her mobile home bedroom.
I had a boy fresh off the streets of a big city, gang tattoos revealing his background. It took him quite a while to learn that he could trust us, and that he was safe.
No child or young adult should have these worries. The school counselor, principal, and yes, even teachers do their best to help the kids find the necessary resources to solve these problems because they cannot learn when these worries are pressing on their minds.
For many of "my kids," hope is lacking, and the chances of them suddenly changing and being responsible for having a pencil are slim. I keep a well stocked school supply table. There are stacks of notebook, graph, and blank paper. A coffee can holds the pencils. Dishpans hold colored pencils, crayons, and markers. There are plenty of rulers and calculators. We have bottles of glue, along with glue sticks. I keep notebook hole reinforcement stickers in my desk because some days, notebook paper with the holes torn out is an absolute crisis, and the final blow on a horrible, rotten day.
I am no different than any other teacher across the country. We all face the same challenges. As teachers we will make sure the students have what they need as we go through another school year together. If you are fortunate enough to be able to provide for your child's school supplies, think about throwing an extra pack of pencils, or glue sticks, or notebook paper, or whatever in your cart. Send it to school with your child. I guarantee the teacher will appreciate it. Because the least of the teacher's worries, and of a kid should be whether a child has a pencil.
(Photo - My Farmer's Insurance agent generously donated 400 pencils to my classroom this year. She also donated a like number to the school's administrative assistant. )
#teachers #schoolsupplies #pencils #Farmersinsurance #education #students #alternativehighschool
Those of you who know me, including those of you who are following my blog know that I am a goal setter. You also know I love inspirational quotes. I ran across one the other day, and added to it to make it speak directly to my heart. It says....
"Good things don't come to those who wait. They come to those that show up, work their asses off, and never give up."
As you know, I took up barrel racing this summer. I set some goals related to that. I have definitely been showing up to the NBHA District 02 Wyoming races. We still aren't the fastest pair in the pen, but we clock a little bit faster times each race. Cam and I work four or five days a week in between races. We have a good coach who makes us work, and gives me ideas on what we can do differently to become faster competitors. She will not listen to "I don't won't to," or "I can't" for an answer. (As you know, I am not an "I can't" person either!) The words, "Now you are going to do it again, but this time you are going to..." haunt my dreams. Not only are Cam and I working in the practice arena, I am working in the gym as well.
It became painfully obvious when my jeans were getting a bit snug, and I didn't have the core strength that I used to have, that I needed to do SOMETHING! I started working out in the school weight room. That was fine, until summer came and some moving and restructuring of classrooms occurred. The weight room was packed up, and I had no where to go. Next step, join a gym. Planet Fitness opened in Laramie, and I went to check it out. It looked like a good option, so I joined.
Now, in addition to riding four or five times a week, I go to Planet Fitness as many times as well. My mornings consist of getting up and riding while it is cool, changing into work out clothes, and hitting the gym for an hour or so. We work on the weight machines, and then the treadmill. I surprise myself each week when I am able to add a bit more weight!
This picture cracked me up, for a couple of reasons....my expression say, "How heavy is this?" In reality, I was laughing. Secondly, I have two colors in the summer. One is lobster, which I avoid at all costs, and the other is my normal porcelain skin tone. My little chicken legs are rocking the porcelain!
Whew! Success at last, chicken legs and all!
Although I haven't lost any weight according to the scale, my jeans are loose enough now that I need to hitch them up if I am not wearing a belt. It is much easier to toss my saddle on my taller than me horse, too.
So here we are, one step farther down the road on my journey to a goal. I hope you have started traveling a journey of your own. I would love to hear more about it, and encourage you on your way!
#barrelracing #NBHA #District02Wyoming #PlanetFitness #workingout #goalsetting #inspiration #horses #goalsetting #motivation
Cow and friends and I have been going up and down the highways and byways. Our latest adventures included a gig with over 500 4th and 5th graders here in my hometown of Laramie, Wyoming. Cow and friends actually stayed in the car, while I presented a bit of military history at the Wyoming Territorial Prison. It was the kickoff of Laramie's 150th anniversary. Wave after wave of children came through the Fort Life station. Mel Glover portrayed my soldier partner. He is the Superintendent of the Wyoming Pioneer Museum in Douglas, Wyoming, and is also the Superintendent of the Fort Fetterman Historical Site near Douglas. He wowed the children with his sword and pistol, while I made an impression with laundry and knitting.
A young lady came through first with her school group, and then came back later with her family. She was totally enamored with my knitting. I put the needles in her hands and showed her what to do. She managed to drop a few stitches, but picked up the general idea. I hope she asked someone to take her to the store to buy some needles and yarn, so she can continue her newfound hobby.
We went down the road to Casper, Wyoming. I gave my laundress presentation to the Casper Posse of Westerners. That invitation came from Doug Cubbison, who is the curator at the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum in Casper. Before the presentation that evening I was treated to an excellent meal at HQ BBQ in Evansville, Wyoming. I didn't have the macaroni and cheese, but apparently this is one of their specialties and is supposed to be very good. I had the brisket and it was amazing. This restaurant is located in an old, remodeled gas station. What a great use of a property. On the way home, we stopped at the building made completely of dinosaur bones, at Como Bluffs, Wyoming. If you want to read some fascinating history, Google Como Bluffs, or Dinosaur Bone Wars. This article sums it up. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-bone-wars-1092038 (It looks like this link isn't working. Copy it, Ctrl C, and paste it, Ctrl V in your search bar.)
This place is a Ripley's Believe It or Not oddity.
Finally, we traveled to Evanston, Wyoming. I spoke to a very engaged crowd at the Uinta County Museum Brown Bag Luncheon. What a fun group of people. Someone did video my presentation. My understanding is that it will be posted on the Uinta County Museum Facebook page. I haven't checked it out yet.
Cow and friends did a little exploring at the Bear River Greenway. This is a jumping off point for bike/walking paths that meander around at the edge of the river, and eventually lead to the Bear River State Park. Mama goose was busy leading her goslings across the pond when we were relaxing at water's edge.
The ponds at the Bear River Greenway were a great place to relax before my presentation.
Then we were off to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. I had a good visit with Chris Floyd, the Superintendent of that historical site. They have some great ideas and plans. I will be traveling back there later this summer to advise them on starting a laundress educational program.
We rolled down the highway, and drove through miles and miles of cone zones. Much of the four lane highway was down to two lanes, as WYDOT was starting road construction season. Fortunately, I had Ian Tyson, Chris LeDoux, Jimmy Buffett, and Elvis to make the time go by. We took heed of the seatbelt signs. Cow and friends agreed that seat belts save lives, and were buckled up too.
We're home now for a few weeks anyway. It is time to focus on riding, writing and relaxing.
#WyomingTerritorialPark #Wyomingpioneermuseum #Fortfetterman #Fossilcabin #Comobluffswyoming #CasperWyoming #HQBBQ #Fortbridgerwyoming #Uintacountymuseum #Bearriver #seatbelts #Iantyson #Chrisledoux #Elvispresley #Jimmybuffett #Wyomingveteransmemorialmuseum
Last month, I talked about some goals I had set for myself. We went to our first National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) barrel race last week. Did I meet my time goal? Nope, not even close. Will I meet that goal? I am going to keep trying.
Did I meet my goal to have fun? Absolutely. As you might have guessed, it was Kentucky Derby Saturday. Since we were at a horse race, I had to wear a Derby hat. I am glad my barrel racing partner thought of it. We got a lot of compliments on our hats.
It has been almost 50 years since I have run barrels. It is definitely a different game now than back when I was a pup. Some people wonder why I am taking it up now. There are a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I don't want to be ninety-years-old, sitting in my rocking chair, saying, "I wish I had done that." I believe there are too many people who do look back and wish they had tried something new, or followed up on a childhood dream.
We can always find excuses why we can't do something, especially as adults. Children believe they can do anything. As adults, we start finding barriers and we start to put them into place. We learn we are mortal, and fear of injury or even death may keep us from our dreams. Dreams often take money, and a lack of it may stop us from moving forward. There are a million scenarios we can use to justify why we can't do something.
Can't is simply another way of saying, "I won't," or "I don't want to." If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to accomplish it. It may mean taking lessons from a professional so we can learn proper techniques. It may mean generating a second stream of income. We may wind up working on our dream long after the family has gone to bed. But if we want something bad enough, we will find a way. There will be setbacks. Life does get in the way. But setbacks do not have to be barriers.
Secondly, I found this quote some time ago that sums up those thoughts. "'Finished last' will always be better than 'Did not finish' which always trumps 'Did not start.'"
So, here we are. We may not be the fastest pair in the pen, but we are having fun, and we are doing. I am finding the ladies who run at the NBHA Wyoming District 02 races extremely friendly and encouraging. I'll keep you posted.
P.S. I did by some longer blue jeans!
#AQHA #Barrelracing #NBHA #Goalsetting #WYDist02
"A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action becomes a reality."
I have no idea who wrote the above statement, but there is a lot of truth to it. I have always had a bucket list. Every year, I pick one or two things off the bucket list, and turn them into a goal. Because of that, I have accomplished a few things in my life, including traveling to various destinations, buying a house, and taking a cruise. Of course, writing "Laundress" was on that list, too.
Cams Lady and I waiting our turn at a Ranch Horse Show. After I saw this picture I decided
I needed to buy some longer jeans for riding!
Originally, this year's goal was to win a 4D barrel racing buckle. For those that aren't familiar with the "D" system of barrel racing, it was designed to give everyone a chance. Say the fastest horse and rider run the pattern around three barrels in 16.5 seconds. That will be the 1D time, and will win the 1D division. The 2D division will start at 17.0 seconds. The horse that hits 17.0, or comes the closest to that time above 17.0 will be the 2D winner. The 3D break will be at 17.5 seconds. The 4D break is a full second longer, at 18.5 seconds.
I teach goal setting to my alternative high school students. We use the SMART goal system. Essentially, we look at our goals and decide whether they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. I got to looking at my goal, and thinking about all the flaws. What if they don't award a buckle at the end of the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) Wyoming District 2 series? They didn't last year. Year end awards were tack and other equipment. Barrel racing in the D system involves a bit of luck, too. It all depends on how you and your horse clock compared to how the 1D winner clocks.
I decided to modify my goal. My new goal is to clock in the 18 second range consistently throughout the season this year. I know what steps I need to take to reach that goal. My trainer has me loping circles on my horse, Cams Lady. We are working on circles of various sizes, and increasing our speed. We spiral in at a lope, and spiral out. We work on maintaining consistent circles around a single barrel. Again, those circles vary in size. We are also working on counter bending. (This is an exercise that increases the flexibility of the horse. Their front end moves around the hindquarters, enabling them to move smoothly around a bend.)
I would like to say I ride every day, but that is not realistic. I work full-time as a teacher. Today, I had an after-school parent meeting at 3:45. My husband is an instructor at the University of Wyoming. He teaches an evening class on Tuesday, so that meant having supper early. Sometimes life just gets in the way of our plans.
We will see what happens this summer. For now, my dream is written down. It is broken down into steps. I am doing my best to turn those steps into actions. I will keep you posted.
#Quarterhorse #barrelracing #goalsetting #SMARTgoals #NBHA #alternativehighschool #horsebackriding #teaching
Off we went last week, to Gillette, Wyoming. Cow and friends of course came along. They have moved up to yet another vehicle, a Toyota Highlander. (That is fodder for a future post.) Nevertheless, they were safely strapped into the backseat as we made our way across the state of Wyoming. While we were having a lovely drive, our hometown of Laramie was getting covered in a foot of snow.
(The Rockpile Museum, Home of the Campbell County Historical Society, Gillette, Wyoming)
I was a guest of the Campbell County Historical Society. The adventure began at Pizza Carello. I was meeting three women from said organization. I had no idea what they looked like. I stood around the front of the restaurant for a while, then called my contact person. Of course, there was no answer. I finally noticed three ladies at a table, and approached them. Yes, they were my contacts. It turned out I had crossed paths with one of them at some point, as I had her business card at home.
This dining establishment is an absolute must stop if you are ever in Gillette. It started out as a brick oven on a flat bed trailer. According to one of my delightful hostesses, you had to call them to find out where in town they would be selling pizza on any given day. They have graduated now to a building. The pizza is, for lack of another word, amazing. I never considered myself a pizza snob, but after eating there I could easily become one. My cousin Kathy later told me she thought Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire books, mentioned this restaurant in one of his novels.
I spoke at the Rockpile Museum after dinner. This is a great little place. There are three different rooms. The Kintz Room contains Native American artifacts, gun, bit, and spur collections, and fossils and paleo exhibits. The main room features the history of the Rockpile, Campbell County's social history exhibits, a slide show about Campbell County's pioneers, and a dress-up area for children. The Campbell County room has ranching, wagons, and branding artifacts. A full size sheep wagon is a focal point. One can also view energy development exhibits, including four short videos. The Annex building has a homestead shack, a blacksmith shop, and a saloon, garage, and print shop. If that weren't enough, outside exhibits include not one, but two one-room schoolhouses, a caboose, farming equipment, and more. The best part about it? Admission is free. The Rockpile Museum is located at 900 West 2nd St, in Gillette. The web site is http://www.rockpilemuseum.com I guarantee the staff and volunteers will be delighted to see you when you come visit.
A stop on the way home was the Wright, Wyoming rest area. Not only did it have the very clean, necessary amenities, but there was a walking path that made it's way around a children's fishing pond. Apparently, the walking path is part of an extensive trails system that meanders through the town. There was also what appeared to be an information area at the rest stop, but it was closed. Anyway, Cow, Monkey, and Frog got their picture taken at the rest stop. As you can see, it is also a memorial to those who serve our country.
We got a bit of snow the morning we left Gillette, but the roads were good as we made our way home from another adventure.
#Pizzacarello #Rockpilemuseum #Gillettewyoming #Wrightwyoming #Publicspeaking #Writing
Jennie Lawrence is the author of Soap Suds Row - The Bold Lives of Army Laundresses 1802 -1876. She also writes a regular column for African Violet Magazine, and has done freelance work. She has started to dabble in children's literature as well.