One of my most favorite traditions on this blog is posting an annual Halloween photo album. Though 2006 is inexplicably missing (??) I have one for every year that I've blogged. It's hard to believe how much time has passed. Click the photo above to see this year's album!
As with all 15 Second Reviews, this is DEFINITELY not sponsored and views are DEFINITELY all my own. : )
I come from a family filled with bee-allergic members, so when I saw this I immediately thought "hey! A stocking stuffer that would off my sister!" I am of the opinion that one should never market the word "venom" unless "the ultimate in firming" really is code for "DEAD."
(I'm sure you have other lovely products, Miss Spa.)
Little Laramie River, Medicine Bow National Forest
These Wyoming summers of ours are so packed that sometimes it feels like when counting weeks forward, summer might as well be over already based on the lack of down days. But we've done a whole lot of summery things, and I don't want to forget that perspective in hindsight...
Eating ice cream in Laramie, Centennial, at gym, from the Cusinart that may not be as traditional as a hand-cranked set-up, but amazing all the same; pizza, picnics, Jeffrey's Bistro, Sam's Club produce by the bushel-full
Celebrating old friends passing through, antelope baby sightings, an elusive hour of down time, 22 years of marriage, Air Force leaders coming and going, multiple centuries of rodeo-military partnership, good mail, America, murals, completing giant work projects, Albin, WY, the birth of Wyatt Lucas, all the remaining days with Ellie
WatchingWonder Woman, an occasional Disney show, saved episodes of Alone, Sara the Cat, the weather forecast, children grow up, Frontier Park come to life, the Air Force Academy Band
Playing trombone, trumpet, piano; Groundies, Jackpot, at Brimmer Park, catch in the back
Borrowing a horse, a truck, four 1890s period costumes, future sleep reserves, many library books, a book about the Lincoln Highway and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from Abby
Driving to and from gymnastics five days a week, to East HS four days a week, to Frontier Park, to endless summer errands, to Albin, to Greeley, to Denver, to Fort Collins
Missing a hundred items from this list, but at least it's a start
I participated in another round of Color/Colour Lovers in February along with Andrea Jenkins, Xanthe Berkeley, and a whole bunch of other photographers around the world. Instead of focusing on one color a week this time, it lasted four weeks long and every day was a different color.
Being a military kid isn't always the easiest thing to be. As has been discussed here ad nauseum over the years, it's hard for obvious reasons: the moving, the giving up of routine and normalcy, the making of new friends, the moving into strange houses and bedrooms and states thousands of miles from home even when the "home" in question was just another temporary stop along the way.
But sometimes, being a military kid is awesome. It's basically like being a foreign exchange student all the time. What do foreign exchange students do? They learn the culture. They make friends with different upbringings than themselves. They learn to think about things in more than one way. They experience. Not to say non-military kids don't do those same things, because they do! It's just that military kids do those things at a dizzying rate—a rate that is synced up with conditions and considerations completely out of their control. Like all good comedians with a background in improv know, the best way to approach life is to say "yes and—" and dole out the "no thank yous" sparingly. It is much the same for the military kid.
Which brings us to Sunday, when two of the kids in Gracie's class this year hosted an end-of-year party. However, they live so far away and the snow was so bad last week they cancelled the party on Saturday, thinking people might get stuck on the many miles of dirt roads required to reach them. Except we didn't get the memo because the mama didn't have my number, so we showed up with our potluck treat in hand. This family is so great they didn't even mind we were suddenly crashing their Sunday afternoon. I am so glad we didn't get the memo, because we had a BALL.
I mean, come on—we got to see this view for most of the way to their house!
This family owns a few horses of varying sizes, and Gracie got a crash course in how to ride on a pony named Joe. Joe and Gracie were meant to be, because proportionally, they were a perfect fit: small horse, small girl. I thought she might freak out a little about how much her friends' mom expected her to do—but because she was patient and extremely calm in her instruction, Gracie got the hang of it with a huge smile on her face and no issues at all. A more distant version of Gracie might have panicked about being up that high on a living creature for sure and shut the fun down in a hot second. Hey, parents of spirited, sensitive toddlers: it gets better. Truly.
Within 20 minutes, they were off for a ride around the property. Just like that. Now granted, Joe is a well-trained, calm horse who has been there and done that much like Matt's CFD horse Kiwi, but still—good heavens.
She worked on posting and trotting and if we hadn't finally told her it was time to wrap up, this kid might have ridden all the way to Mexico.
She got lessons on how to dismount a horse (not scary, since she spends so much time dismounting gymnastics equipment) and also how to clean up the hooves.
Her friends' dad was getting ready to help in a branding next weekend.
The three kiddos took off on a no-faster-than-10-mph hay ride via ATV as the afternoon clouds rolled in, just before we went in for a snack.
We've lived in Wyoming for a large part of Gracie's life, but she has never spent an afternoon quite like this one. It was definitely one of those days that make all the moving, the heartbreak, and the hassle of being a military kid 110% worth it.
Two years ago I wrote about coincidences; because Alabama was on my mind then, I was thinking about my big Alabama coincidence. But I have another one that I hadn't thought about for a long time until this week, when the news came out that Chris Cornell committed suicide after a concert. Even then, I had to confirm that my coincidence wasn't just a figment of my imagination and Googled it to be sure.
Chris Cornell has been part of life in the Dillow house since before there was a Dillow house. He was never mine, always Matt's—but I grew to appreciate him tremendously, absorbing his stunning voice and range over the years like second hand smoke. I've always preferred his singing songs vs. his screaming ones, but even those have grown on me with time. In fact, my very first introduction to Soundgarden in high school was the screaming kind: Heretic, a song from the 1990 soundtrack to Pump Up the Volume was a song I listened to (song #8, always in order, like any proper soundtrack should be consumed) over hundreds of times listening to that CD. The soundtrack to Singles is so much the soundtrack to the feel of college for us, and his Seasons from that collection immediately sends me back to those years we spent in Oxford like a time travel portal. I'm almost startled by how utterly grunge-filled so much of my life from that era actually is—for someone who considers herself to be pretty non-nihilistic, sometimes I have to wonder when I look back. Much has already been written about how in the world someone so successful, so established, so... stable a rock star could possibly be lost to suicide (this and this are especially good) that I have nothing to add on that front except another handful of stones to throw on the staggering pile of shock and sadness marking musicians gone far too soon.
This coincidence story is not sad, though.
After Matt's graduation from Miami, we stayed in Oxford to work for Upward Bound for the summer. On May 10, 1994 (oddly specific yet important to the story) Matt and I went to our very favorite place of business in Oxford, Ohio to spend our limited funds on more music: Looney T Bird's. We spent a lot of limited funds there during our time in Oxford; on this day we may have purchased more than two CDs, but the only two I know with absolute certainty are Soundgarden's Superunknown and the Connells's Ring. I remember thinking how funny it was that we inadvertently bought two albums with reference to eclipses (Black HoleSun from this album is probably the most mainstream of Soundgarden's early songs). But later that day, we learned that there had been a major solar eclipse. On the same day we purchased those CDs. It seemed too wildly bizarre to be true, but it was. This week I thought for sure I had imagined the eclipse part of the story, but I didn't.After googling eclipses in May 1994, I had a confirmed date. Incidentally, 13 years exactly before Bridget would be born.
This summer there will be a major solar eclipse that hundreds of thousands of people will flock to Wyoming to witness. We won't be camping out in Casper or Jackson or anywhere else along the path, but we will sit on our porch and remember Chris Cornell.
The last two years when Cleveland has played Toronto in the playoffs, I noticed the same Sikh man sitting courtside at all the games. I finally had to figure out who he was and I'm so glad I did. I mean, I'm glad Cleveland swept them two years in a row, but there is no reason to dislike the Raptors—and many reasons to cheer for them to do well. So long as they don't do well enough to beat the Cavs. : )
Last weekend we hosted the Karahalis family and spent a good 50% of our time with them outdoors in the sunshine, surrounded by freshly planted flowers, hanging baskets, new porch furniture, and warmth.
Two days later, we were preparing for a giant snowstorm, which ended up going down as the heaviest late-May snowstorm in 74 years. We've seen plenty of May snow, but this storm was especially destructive. It's a good thing I love to take pictures of blooming trees, because spoiler alert: not many blooming things survived this storm.
By early Thursday morning, the snow had already started. I took a picture out the window to send to our neighbors—they're in Florida for a wedding and because they moved from Hawaii last summer, I needed photographic proof that I wasn't making it up, haha.
As the day went on yesterday the trees were more and more damaged. Big old cottonwood branches are down everywhere and this happy tree behind our house and every tree like it on base is split in multiple places. I can't imagine they'll recover. Spring snow is painfully heavy.
I thought for sure the district would cancel school today, especially since they pretty much told the rural kids to stay home and we know what a bad idea it is to call school off early in this town, but nope. Maddie woke me up at 5:30 to see if there was a snow day (gah) and was furious about having to bundle up for school, but that's the way it goes. I was reminded that while May moves are already pretty bad, a May move in the middle of a giant snowstorm is truly the worst. I might print this picture out for the fridge next time we're getting ready to move to remind me of that perspective.
Ellie had the best time, even though we looked like White Walkers when we returned home—seriously, just plastered in snow. But she certainly isn't going to skip her daily routine for some weather. I find it hilarious that I took what amounts to the same picture today as I did four years ago. She loves snow.
I had a meeting with a client who was over from Laramie so trudged out for that, and when I returned home I shut the garage door and nearly got knocked out by the snow that fell off the roof onto my head, down my coat, in my bag... except for a few seconds I had no idea what had happened and I jumped ten feet in the air because it startled me so much. I'm glad my neighbors are in Florida and not watching me from their kitchen sink, which I happen to know for a fact is a front row seat to any antics that take place at our current house having washed my dishes over there for three years.
As I reached outside trying to get the mail yesterday without the door blowing off the hinges while being pelted in the face by spring snow, I rolled my eyes. Unfairly, yes—it isn't Martha's fault that spring in the mountain west is ridiculous. But really, that's just mean.