Archive for October, 2011

Another State of the Union
October 27, 2011

Fact: Wyoming has the lowest population of all 50 United States. (they are about to add two new part time residents!) 

We are now property owners in Wyoming! I’ve got to admit that I wasn’t very receptive to the idea initially, my reasons being that Wyoming is much too far away and that we’d always feel obligated to go there to get our money’s worth out of it, and who would manage the property when we weren’t there, and we’d only be able to go once the snow melts or before it begins to fall anew, etc. etc. 

 (view from  our lot)

Sure, we had talked about a vacation home somewhere, someday, but I always thought it would be in the Texas Hill Country. 

However, Joel has been going to Wyoming for years, and this summer, he took me with him. I’m sure it was with the ulterior motive to hook me into the lifestyle, just as he hooks the beautiful trout along the Platte River and other waterways up there. 

( fishing at sunset)

My vision of a vacation home has always been of one out in the country with nobody around; I guess I was thinking about my aunt’s home in Utopia which was my idea of heaven. There are no immediate neighbors, and the night vistas have a 360 degree view of the gorgeous heavens. 

We actually looked at some properties like this in WY, and there was one that I absolutely loved. I could just picture myself in that house. 

However, Joel was leaning towards buying property within the “Old Baldy Club”, an established private community in Saratoga which IS a real community. It’s got all the gorgeous mountain and river vistas, plus all the other amenities that make life easy, safe and comfortable. And it’s got those high elevation starry nights, which is extra important to me.

 (looking east at sunset)

So instead of driving 40 miles to the grocery store in Laramie, we can just pop into Saratoga and pick up everything we need at the store there or at the drug store, hardware store, liquor store, fly shop (important!) none of which are convenient to the other remote properties we visited. 

Visitors, including (hopefully) grandkids will be able to swim, bike, golf, fish, ride horses, eat in the clubhouse, etc. etc. all within the safe perimeter of the club.

( The Old Baldy Club) 

All of these reasons are what finally convinced me to agree to this purchase. We had thought about buying an existing home (which needed a lot of work), but ended up with a beautiful lot that is just waiting for a special house that Joel already has envisioned. 

For years, we planned and saved to put our Shannon through college and then pay for her wedding. After this summer, we’ve checked the last of those two items off our list, and now it is our time. 

This will be an interesting journey, and you can bet when this house is complete, that we (including Tucker) will spend many happy summer days up in the cooler climes of Wyoming!

Note: Pewperson will return on Friday, Nov. 11

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Looking on the Bright Side of Life
October 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Mom, whose ‘glass half full’ attitude is so inspiring to me! 

There is always somebody out there who has it worse than you do. Never forget this tenet, and perhaps it will help you to better focus on what is good and positive, instead of what is bad and negative. 

I am so grateful that my mother is of the “glass half full” school. She invariably says, “I’m the luckiest person in the world!” at some point whenever I visit her. What a wonderful outlook, and how much fun it is to be with such a person! I hope I will have the same positive attitude, should I be blessed to live such a good, long life. 

However, lately I’ve had some things on my plate that might have given me cause to complain, except that I was soon brought up short by other people’s stories. 

As regular pewperson readers know, lately I’ve been raising up a puppy. Tucker is a fine little fellow, cute, sweet, smart, BUSY and a very early riser! 

For one who hasn’t had to use an alarm clock in years, it’s quite disconcerting to have to roll out of bed when it’s still dark outside. But when somepuppy needs to go to the bathroom, somebody (this means me) has to let him out there to do so, in a bleary haze. 

I could moan and groan, and sometimes I do grump about it. But then I had some college friends over this week to transition our local leadership from us olders to the youngers. One of the youngers has a 3 year old, plus a 2 month old, plus a full time job. Katie said that baby Chloe has lately been waking up at 3 a.m. ready to play! 

This is why God’s plan for young women to have the babies makes sense. At my age, I could absolutely not manage to juggle all these things. Tucker waking up at 5:45? I will no longer complain about it. At least I can take a nap if need be. Katie? Not thinking she can while she is at work. 

Then there’s the nagging leg injury I somehow sustained a week ago which leaves me unable to run without pain. First I thought it was a shin splint, but then after a Google self diagnosis, I thought it was a stress fracture. 

Having a stress fracture would mean I couldn’t run again for 8-12 weeks, which was very discouraging to me. And then what? Would I ever be the same? 

Well, at that same gathering, another of the younger crowd (a fellow runner) told of her friend who collapsed near the end of the Houston Marathon and had to have major surgery for a heart defect, with more surgeries to come. How shocking would that be?

I’ll take a stress fracture, thank you very much.

Putting it all in perspective is the key, and if you can do this, then you will also be a glass half full person. People will be drawn to your positive nature, and as a bonus, if you are so inclined to volunteer to help those less fortunate than you (no matter what your own physical problems are), you will be extra blessed with serenity. 

The end of my poor me story is a happy one with my doctor saying that mine is NOT a stress fracture, rather a strained muscle (this is what you get when you run in your slippers in the rain while walking the dog  before church on an early Sunday morning). 

As a result, I think I feel better already! Amazing what a little positive thought will do towards healing (both mental and physical). 

Go and do likewise.

Oh, Poop Poop!
October 15, 2011

Poop, Poop! Oh, poetry of motion! Ohh, the bliss! Ohhh… poop, poop! ~Mr. Toad (from Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows”)

When I was small, my absolute favorite book of all was Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. Maybe it was because my mom read it to me (when did she have the time to do that?), or maybe it was just because it was such a classic tale with memorable characters, who resonate with me to this very day. 

Did I mention that the book is oh, so British? There is something special about British writers and their anthropomorphisation of simple animals that capture one’s fancy. Think about A.A Milne’s characters, Winnie the Pooh and his friends, Tigger, Roo, Eyore and Piglet. 

Published in 1908, Wind in the Willows features Mr. Toad and his friends, Ratty, Mole, Badger and Otter. Their adventures thrilled me, as they did Grahame’s son, for whom he wrote the tale. Mr. Toad’s obsessions with material things often got him into trouble, and once he saw a motor car drive by, his obsession did just that. 

The above “poop poop” quote has Mr. Toad mimicking the intoxicating sound of a motorcar that he had to have. His obsession resulted in six crashed cars, 3 hospitalizations and a fortune of fines. 

Toad’s friends scheme to break his wild habits, and suffice it to say, more adventures ensue until things finally end happily ever after. 

What has brought this fond memory to my mind, is that lately I have found myself mimicking Mr. Toad, as I walk up and down the street in the evening, muttering “Come on now, Tucker, poop! poop!” And so we poop poop poop down the street (always with a little plastic bag, just in case). 

“Oh, poetry of motion” takes on a whole new image in this context! But let’s not go there… rather let’s visualize Mr. Toad on his wild ride, poop poop pooping his way to immortality for all the generations of readers who will remember his story of misguided desires and a fall from grace, followed by redemption. 

Come on Tucker. Let’s channel Mr. Toad! Poop poop!

States of the Union
October 7, 2011

If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.~ Michigan State Motto 

When we were young, we always went on vacation by car, the ubiquitous station wagon of the 1960’s, stylish back then, always a Ford in my family. Mom packed lunches and snacks; we ate at roadside parks, and seldom went to restaurants. Heck, back then, there were few franchise fast food spots, but the real reason we seldom stopped at a restaurant was to save money, given our large family. If we were thirsty, we drank water out of a thermos that had a little spigot. 

Given that my dad worked for Humble Oil, we always stopped at Esso stations (or Enco in Texas), and sometimes, we even stopped at a Stuckey’s! 

We played games in the car, one of which was the license plate game, to see how many states you could collect on your sticker board. Alaska and Hawaii were always the hardest ones, with Rhode Island being a distant third. 

As the years have gone by, I’ve played this game in a different way, by making note of all the states I’ve actually visited, with the goal of eventually visiting all 50 of them. Earlier this month I had the pleasure of visiting the state of Michigan for the first time ever, at the invitation of my sister, Camille. 

My first impressions of the Detroit airport and into Ann Arbor were just ordinary. There were no striking features that stood out. But the personal tour of Ann Arbor opened my eyes to a unique small town that happens to have a very large college in its midst! I loved the historic downtown stretch, and we enjoyed a good dinner there at a seafood restaurant. It was interesting that their fresh fish were local Lake fish, instead of the usual Gulf fish I am accustomed to. 

The next day, we headed north, traveling up to Traverse City where Camille was running in a 15K race the following day. On the drive she admitted that there was nothing special about the area, just rolling hills with farms dotting the landscape, and a couple of really funny signs about cheese. We ran into some road construction; they were working hard to finish things before winter set in. But we weren’t in a hurry, so it wasn’t a cause for stress. 

A front was coming through, and I have to say that the weather on our drive north was blustery and wet. If there were any vistas that were worth noting on the drive, well, I didn’t see them. All colors are muted in the rain, and there was nothing that excited me until we actually got to Traverse City with its twin bays on either side of its slim peninsula. 

We enjoyed dinner at a brewpub in town after registering for the run, then took a vigorous walk along the shore with gale winds blowing and temps dropping steadily. Brrrrr! It was  39 overnight, but the morning brought bright sunshine and calm breezes.

After the run, we headed over to Glen Arbor on Lake Michigan, and saw gorgeous vistas of lakes, fall colors and quaint towns; the brilliant weather made everything sparkle. What a treat it was for me to experience a real “fall”, if only for a few days. I didn’t realize until after the fact that we were on the same latitude as Montreal,  Nova Scotia and environs. No wonder it was so chilly up there! 

 

So I can now check Michigan off my list of states I have visited. Yet to come? Rhode Island, Delaware, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Alaska. I think that’s it. I get extra points for having visited Washington DC and Puerto Rico. 

Maybe Joel and I should purchase an RV and just take off. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I wonder what route Mapquest would suggest to hit all my remaining states?