Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bah Humbug!

I gave up handing out candy on Halloween several years ago, when children started showing up at my door not with cute little tote bags or pumpkin buckets but with pillowcases loaded with candy. About the same time, ads such as the one above began appearing in the local newspaper. I understand the dentists' rational, but it grates on my nerves that dentists have to purchase candy to keep their patients' teeth healthy. Where are the parents in this scenario? Where is the adult that says, "Let's go home and watch a video, or pop some popcorn, or visit grandma" when the child has a reasonable amount of candy or treats.

Halloween has turned into a festival of gluttony, and I refuse to take part. Just call me a Halloween Scrooge!

Chance Encounter

Sen. Alan Simpson, Sen. Craig Thomas, and
Wind River High School Close-Up group
Washington, D.C.
Spring 1995
When Dick Quayle, the social studies teacher at my school, asked if I'd like to accompany him and a group of students to Washington, D.C. for a week, I gladly accepted as I had never been there.

Dick has taken this trip with a group of seniors for decades. Throughout the year, the students earn money for the trip by selling concessions, hosting meals, etc. As a chaperone for the group, all of my expenses, except for souvenirs, was paid.

On the trip, it was my job to keep an eye on the students and to fill in for Dick, if necessary. One day, it was necessary: a foreign exchange student from Germany lost his passport, so Dick accompanied him to the German embassy. Dick asked me to take the other students to the Kennedy Center for their scheduled tour. I managed to wrangle the group to the metro station and on to the Kennedy Center without incident, but I was certainly glad when Dick and Jakob joined us.

Senators Alan Simpson and Craig Thomas
Steps of the Capitol
Washington, D.C.
Spring 1995
One of the highlights of the trip was visiting with the Wyoming Senators (Alan Simpson and Craig Thomas) on the steps of the Capitol.

As the students were asking questions of the Senators, a crowd descended the steps behind our group. Senator Simpson, of course, was facing the steps and knew who was approaching. He said, "Ted come over here for a minute. I want you to meet some kids from Wyoming."

Senators Ted Kennedy, Alan Simpson, Craig Thomas
Immediately, our little group was surrounded by strangers with cameras. "Ted" was none other than Senator Ted Kennedy.

Senators Ted Kennedy and Alan Simpson
Senator Kennedy was very gracious and stayed a bit to answer some of the students' questions. This chance encounter made the whole trip even more memorable for me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dressing Up

Dwight M.
My nieces and nephews commonly spent their summers on the farm. They had a great time working with Grandma Rosie and Uncle Rich in the dairy barn, in the fields, and in the house. They even had time to do some crafting, playing games, and joking around.

The photo, shown above, is my nephew Dwight. As a gag, he tried on an old wig, and we added Grandma Rosie's stockings, shoes, coat, and even her purse. I grabbed an old hat from the closet to finish the ensemble.

Brenda M. and her Dad (Harold M.)
approximately 1977
I wish the quality of this photo of my niece and her dad was better because it is a priceless scene. The dress and veil were worn by my two sisters on their wedding days. Brenda's bouquet is a bunch of red, plastic roses that belonged to Grandma Rosie. Note the shot-gun at Harold's side to carry out the illusion of a "shot-gun wedding."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Costume Party

Nancy (me) and Steve Barnes
Halloween Costume Party
rural ranch school near Wheatland, WY
circa 1975 or 1976
Zelda, who taught at an isolated school, hosted a costume party and invited teachers and some friends from Wheatland and other ranch schools in Platte, Albany, and Converse Counties. Zelda's party was held at the ranch house, and fearing we would not be able to find our way out in the dark, we took bedrolls to spend the night.

As you can see, I borrowed another cheerleader uniform from the school closet. I made the costume that Steve is wearing the year before when my students performed The Velveteen Rabbit. The "fabric" was an old stage curtain. Over the years, my students and I made several costumes from the massive pile of maroon and blue velvet.

Unknown bandit, LuAnn Wolf, Dan Brecht, Roy Martin
Halloween Costume Party
rural ranch school near Wheatland, WY
circa 1975 or 1976
The party was pretty mellow until four or five cowboys from a neighboring ranch thundered over a hill, riding their horses, as well as whooping and hollering. It was difficult to determine who they were because they wore masks (one of them is barely visible in the photo above). Please note that he also has a gun in his right hand. Everyone was a little uneasy until the interlopers removed their masks.

Have you attended a memorable costume party?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Foreign Friday - Guest Post

Hmmm, pretty scary to have containers that can choose!
Today's post features photos my friend Sheila took in April 2012 while she and her husband Doug visited Japan. You may giggle and/or shake your head in disbelief at the humorous translations.
Well, it's almost phonetic. Right?
A cute note pad that states,
"Fruit gives health sufficient on the body."
An interesting name for a tissue

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Little Frog Prince

Little Frog Prince
Western Region Oddball Baby Blanket
started October 2012
My section on this Oddball blanket was knit in Double Moss/Box Stitch, using Caron Simply Soft (pistachio).

Pet Snuggle
Fremont Country Fiber Guild Project
started October 2012
Several asked questions about the Pet Snuggles that were mentioned in an earlier post. I started one (72 stitches) on size 10.5 needles and two strands of worsted weight yarns. It makes a nice heavy blanket for a pet that needs some comfort. The snuggle will be completed with five  sections (five inches each).

Update: December 27, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Over North" Farm

Stearns' farm
(upper buildings)
 north of Pavillion, WY
circa 1980s
The farm was dubbed "Over North" because it was 10 miles north of the home place. It consisted of approximately 500 acres, some of which was non-irrigable. My brother leased this property, located in an area called Third Division, from the Bureau of Reclamation for several years, beginning in the mid-1960s.

The area was part of the plan to bring irrigation to the Wind River Valley; however, in 1957, the farmers in this area formed their own irrigation district. Unfortunately for the homesteaders, the economy failed, and they were unable to complete the project. Hoping to get their original irrigation project on track, the Bureau of Reclamation purchased back the land from 78 original farmers (approximately 22,000 acres), and a six-year lease was offered to the general public for 8,900 acres in Third Division. My brother, Rich obtained the lease on the farm. The full history of this project can be found on the Midvale Irrigation website.

In 1971, the leased farms were put on the auction block with no preferential treatment for  the lessor. Rich purchased the farm at the auction, but not without paying more than he had intended.
Stearns' farm
(lower buildings)
north of Pavillion, WY
circa 1980s
The farm produced oats, alfalfa hay, and silage for the dairy on the home place. The roughage also provided winter pasture for a beef herd, and the non-irrigable land on the farm was used for stack yards as well as pasture.

The house in the photo above was moved to the farm in the mid-70s. My brother purchased the house from my cousin after its basement was destroyed by fire. Even though the house was habitable, the smoke smell was still evident in the 90s. I rented the house in the mid-80s to the mid-90s.

The trees west of this house were old Chinese elm that cracked under the weight of snow, but they provided some shade and shelter from the wind. After the photo was taken, I planted some trees on the property: spruce, pine, apple, poplar and lilac, and convinced my brother that a windbreak in the field to the west would be beneficial. We planted three rows of trees and shrubs, but they did not receive enough water to thrive.

My brother lived with my mother on the home place, and drove "Over North" every day to farm, to irrigate, and to feed cattle. He would often work in the fields late at night in the Spring and Fall, and since he had no way on contacting my mother if he had trouble, she would sometimes drive "Over North" to check on him. Eventually, he purchased a CB radio for his pickup, but communication was still poor. One night, his pickup died, and he had to walk the 10 miles home in his irrigation boots.

In the Winter, Rich would come Over North late at night and break snow drifts with his four-wheel drive pickup so I would have an easier time getting to work in the morning. At the time, I had a little Toyota Tercel with front-wheel drive. Some mornings, the road was slightly drifted, but I was able to make it up the hill; other times, my little car would be pushing snow.

While I lived on this farm, my life was dictated by the weather: I fought snow drifts and wind in the Winter and mud bogs and deep ruts in the Spring and Fall and sometimes the Summer.

"Over North" was a great place to see wildlife and nature at its best and worst. I miss that part of living there, but I do not miss the nasty roads.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Boot Bag

Rootin' Tootin' Boot Bag
by Jill Judd
Dubois, WY
The creativity of artists always amazes me. This bag and the one below were on display in Wyoming Wool Works, the site of a recent Fiber Guild meeting. 

The tag on the bag reads, "Inspired by her love of the 'Old West,' designer Jill Judd converts the beautifully decorated tops of vintage cowboy boots into completely original handbags. The myriad of shapes, styles, colors, and stitching patterns of the boot tops ensures that every single bag is a one-of-a-kind piece with its own individual character - a mirror of their historic lives! Each bag is hand laced and adorned with braided leather handles. They are then accented with custom-made sterling silver conches for a distinctly 'western' flavor or with vintage jewelry pieces for a 'cowboy glitz' appeal. Refreshingly unique, Rootin' Tootin' Boot Bags appeal to as many different customers as there are boots, and they are as full of robust character and rich legend as are the cowboys and cowgirls of the west that literally once wore them!  -- Lapine Leather, Dubois, WY"

Rootin' Tootin' Boot Bag
by Jill Judd
Dubois, WY
The bags were cute and would be wonderful conversation starters, but they are definitely out of my price range.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fiber Gathering

Saturday, the Fremont County Fiber Guild met in Dubois (the Upper Country) for its monthly meeting at Wyoming Wool Works, a shop owned by one of the group's members. Everyone browsed the shop and admired all the creative displays of fiber goodies before the meeting started.

The meeting agenda centered around future projects and meeting programs. In January, the guild's project is a community Spin-in, featuring vendors, demonstrations, and information for those interested in spinning and weaving. Knitting lessons will also be available.
Before enjoying the tasty lunch, the business at hand was deciding what to do with the guild's "library." For many years, several boxes of books and magazines were stored by one of the members, who decided she wanted to reclaim her closet. At the meeting, the items were separated into categories, and members offered the guild a donation for the books/magazines they wanted to rescue.
During the meeting several members knit some rows on current projects.
Nancy knit on a Oddball Pet Snuggle, a holiday project for the guild.
The snuggles are being knit with two strands of worsted weight acrylic
and will be donated to animal shelters in Riverton and Lander.
Pet Snuggle information can be found on the Snuggles Project website.
Note the basket of tomatoes. Anita, the meeting hostess had lunch bags
available for members to take some home-grown tomatoes home.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Foreign Friday

Group Shot
Southern Japan
April 1980
Wherever I went in Japan, I frequently saw tour groups posing for photographs. Note the flag in the center of the front row. Flags of various colors and size were carried by the tour guides to keep the groups together.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Family Farm

Stearns' Farm
looking southwest
circa 1956
The Bureau of Reclamation took aerial photographs of area farmsteads at various times, and farmers were given the option of purchasing prints. The black and white photo above shows the family farm in its early days - about twelve years after my parents purchased it.

In the late 30s and early 40s, the Wind River valley was the site of proposed irrigation projects, and my dad and his brother, who grew up on a dryland farm near Provo, South Dakota were eager to become a part of that venture. (One of the irrigation canals can be seen in the lower right corner of the photo.)

My parents had been married about 10 years when they moved from South Dakota in the early 40s. The irrigation project was the driving force behind their coming to Wyoming with four small children. My uncle Ted had moved to Wyoming earlier, and he encouraged his younger brother to make the move. My parents lived with my uncle until they could purchased a farm of their own - 150 acres of irrigated ground.

They built a small house on their new farm (photo of the house is on this post) and planted a windbreak of poplar, Chinese elm, Russian olive, apple, plum, currant, and caragana. By 1956, as shown in the photo, the trees and the farm were doing well.

By 1956, our family included six children: three boys and three girls. My mother always planted a large garden to feed the family during the year. The field with the vertical lines near the center of the photo is the garden. It was a large plot, and it produced an abundance of produce. 

In order to feed the family through the winter, my mother canned a lot in the 50s and 60s. She grew corn, pumpkins, winter and summer squash, beets, carrots, turnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, kohlrabi, green beans, lettuce, radishes, zucchini, and potatoes. Hoes and a hand-powered cultivator like the one shown above were used to keep the weeds under control.

Mom frequently purchased bushel baskets (the real, wooden ones with slat lids) of peaches and pears, which she also canned. The pressurized canner and Mason jars got a good workout every fall.

The canned goods, winter squash, potatoes, apples, etc. were stored in an under ground root cellar. 
Stearns' Farm
looking southwest
circa 1980s
Thirty years later, the farmstead photo shows many improvements. The blue garage was a machine shed, built in the late 70s. The large white building surrounded by corrals is the six-stanchion dairy barn that my father, brother, and brother-in-law built in the early 1960s.

The trees surrounding the house are mature in this photo. In the Fall, it was my job to get the leaves off of the lawn. Many of the leaves were as large as dinner plates. Some years, the leaves were loaded into a manure spreader and spread in the fields; other years, they were raked into the ditch by the house and burned. When I left home, my mother picked the leaves up with the riding lawn mower.

Dairy barn and corrals
looking west
My nephew, Dwight took this photo of the farm one summer while flying over the farm. This angle shows the dairy barn and the Wind River mountains in the distance. When I was growing up, the mountains had snow on them year round; now, the peaks are bare in the summer.

The farm was sold after my brother died in 1996: it had been farmed by my family for over fifty years.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Apple Picking

Nancy in the orchard
I was three years old when this photo was taken in the apple orchard behind the farmhouse. Three rows of apple trees provided apples for canning, baking, and snacking as well as a windbreak for the house. The apple varieties I remember were red crab, sweet crab, yellow crab, Yellow Transparent, and tart, winter apples (Wealthy and Winesap).

Dad, Marilyn, and Nancy
Mom made the best crab apple jelly and chunky applesauce. She baked apple pies, apple cakes, and apple crunch. As the trees grew, it was difficult to pick the apples from the highest branches, and we sometimes resorted to shaking the trees. Windfall apples were also harvested.

The winter apples were often put in the under ground root cellar because they kept well.

Over the years the orchard was neglected, and the apples fed the wildlife.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for using apples. Mom got the recipe from a family friend.

                      Mrs. Maxey's Apple Cake
2 c. white sugar                           1/4 lb. butter
2 eggs                                         1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts  
2 c. flour                                     1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. soda                                   1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 c. chopped apples                      1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar and add the remaining ingredients. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch cake pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick, inserted in the middle, comes out clean.

Glaze topping: (some people prefer to use half of the glaze topping on the cake)
                1 c. white sugar            2 T. butter
                1 T. vanilla                  2 T. flour
                1 c. water

Mix ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. Pour topping over cake after it has been baked.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Little House Out Back

New Outhouse
August 2012
About two months ago, I spotted this stylish outhouse for sale at an area business. The simple structure was a beauty and a far cry from the outhouse that I remember from my childhood.

The outhouse of my youth was a two-holer and rustic. Located near a large cottonwood tree and about 100 feet from the house, the little house faced a large field to the south. I remember that it always contained spiders and their webs.

The farmhouse had a room designated for a bathroom, but it was not plumbed until I was probably five years old. I don't know exactly when the outhouse was retired, but I do remember "playing school" in the room that eventually became the bathroom in the house.

Update: May 14, 2013

I found a letter, dated March 13, 1957, that my oldest sister wrote to a friend. Obviously, the letter was never sent, but she wrote, "We finally got our bathroom in the house and built a new Grade A barn. We are milking fourteen head and plan to be milking thirty-five head by summer."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Child's Play

Child's Sewing Machine
Quilt Show Display
Lander, WY
September 2012
Imagine the excitement this mini machine created in the heart of a child on Christmas morning or a birthday. Clearly, the owner took very good care of this beauty.

Did you have a toy that was functional as well as fun?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Foreign Friday

Samurai Armour
Japan 1980
The armour displays I saw in the Kumamoto Castle were intriguing. My only exposure to armour was from my history classes which focused on the armour worn by knights in England and Europe.
You can learn more about Japanese armour on Wikipedia.

Samurai Armour
Japan 1980

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