My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ABC Wednesday: Trolleys, Trains, & Tree Tragedy!


I'll be the first to admit, the quality of this batch of photos ~ shot in low light without a tripod with my point-and-shoot Kodak EasyShare (someday I'll take time to teach myself how to use the manual settings, honest!) ~ isn't terrific. But what they lack in quality they make up for in quantity! :-) I had no trouble taking photos to share for this week's ABC Wednesday post, thanks mostly to Sheridan's 16th annual Christmas Stroll with its tinsel, trains and trolleys, on the day after Thanksgiving. So come stroll (and ride) along with me! But bundle up, for we had a vicious turn in our weather that afternoon with plummeting temperatures, wind gusts of over 50 mph, and even thundersnow! (All of which hit suddenly while we walked our dogs in the park. Good thing our house was close by!) But this is Wyoming weather and ya gotta be tough, so grab your hat and mittens and let's go do some merry-making!


Click on any photo for a larger version

During the Stroll, South Main Street is closed off to traffic, the businesses stay open late, there are contests, free hot food and beverages, lots of musical entertainment (indoors and out!), and wagon, trolley and miniature train rides. Here's a shot down Main Street, with the historic Wyo Theater's striking art deco marquis taking center stage (haha, get it?)...

The Wyo Theater opened in 1923 as the Lotus Theater.
Our cottage was built in 1920, so I can't help imagining
its original owners walking to the theater
to enjoy a vaudeville act when it was brand new.
Wonder what they'd think of it today!

Here comes the trolley!

I love the historic store fronts on Main Street.

And here comes the Train!

And speaking of historic storefronts,
that's one of the nation's first JC Penney stores!
James Cash Penney opened his first store,
then called "Golden Rule," in Kemmerer, WY in 1902.
Sheridan's store followed not long after.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad is one of Sheridan's biggest employers, and we love hearing the trains from the cottage, rumbling and whistling their way through town. BNSF (then called Great Northern Railway, with its wonderful Rocky Mountain Goat logo) was also the main employer of my Italian immigrant family in Havre, MT (the county seat of Hill County, named for the Great Northern's president and builder, James J. Hill). Imagine sailing from the vineyards of Tuscany to Ellis Island and being sent to the northern Montana prairie to work in the roundhouse! But I digress tremendously ~ I just feel a connection to these trains. :-) So here's a closeup of the Stroll's miniature train, its freezing "engineer" and passengers...


You know how sometimes you can take a photo that's so terrible, it's actually kinda terrific? Here's one of mine! :-) I was trying to get a great shot of the oncoming trolley with the Wyo Theater marquis behind it, using my low-light camera setting. Trouble is, that setting takes a long time to process, and you have to hold the camera totally still while it does. The trolley, on the other hand, just kept moving! And faster than I'd reckoned. Great shot or not, I finally had no choice but to dive out of its way, and this photo was the result. It's so wonky, it's pretty! (In fact, I like it so much I chose it for my ABC Wednesday thumbnail, despite it being one of the technically worst pictures I've ever taken. So there!) :-)~


Time for some musical entertainment. There was everything from string quartets to bell choirs, folk singers to brass bands, but I was most taken with this little ensemble of pipes and drums...

The drummer on the right is our realtor's dad.
Gotta love a tiny town! :-)

Let's give a listen (Penny, you'll especially enjoy this!)...

Ah yes, nothing quite says "Christmas"
like a little "Scotland the Brave" medley!
:-)

Music wasn't the only form of street entertainment. There was also hair! With icicles and lights! (Hairlights instead of highlights?)...


There were several young women with festively done-up tresses out promoting the local salon, Curl Up & Dye. This was the first one I saw, and so I asked her if I could take her photo - not realizing who she was. See the woman in the background to the right? That's Shonda, one of BW's UPS colleagues, talking to BW while I'm photographing Hairlights Girl. Turns out Hairlights Girl is Shonda's daughter, Brooke, whom I last saw when she was a newborn in a baby-carrier sixteen years ago!

Okay, well now that I feel totally ancient, let's move on to another young whippersnapper sporting a tinselly hairdo...


And now we'll return to the trolley, because it's a) my favorite part of the Stroll and b) a replica of something even older than I am. :-)

The two trolleys that ran that night
are motorized replicas of the electric trolleys
that transported Sheridan folks between 1911 and 1926.
(So maybe our original cottage dwellers
rode the trolley to the Wyo Theater!
Even though it's an easy walk. Tsk, tsk!)

So, enough talking about, photographing and nearly getting run over by the trolley... let's take that bad boy for a spin!

Would you believe this was our first time riding the trolley?
But it stops near our cottage so I'll ride it more next spring
when it starts making its trips around town again!

That trolley ride was such fun, it even made the snowmen smile...

Outside a fun store called Crazy Woman Trading Co.
(And no, that name has nothing to do with me!) ;-)

Wave ta-ta to the trolley till Memorial Day!


We toughed it out from 4:15 till 6:30, but were just too cold-soaked to hang around for the grand finale to this year's Stroll, the fireworks. So we watched (and photographed) them from our cottage windows...



I wasn't kidding about those terrible wind gusts. The next morning, when we let our dogs out to take care of business, Tess started growling and Willow started barking at something. Expecting to see a cat, loose dog, or someone lurking where someone had no business being, imagine our dismay at seeing that the dogs were reacting to a venerable old juniper tree a couple lots over from us that had been uprooted by the storm!

That building in the background is an old garage
where we're temporarily storing some of our stuff!
Glad the tree didn't land on it!

Trying to make lemonade out of this tree tragedy lemon, we trimmed some of the fragrant branches and are using them in our holiday decor. With our landlord's permission, I also put an ad on Freecycle for other to do the same, or cut up the trunk to take away for firewood. But so far I think the only taker has been our next door neighbor. Too bad!

Update: The tree was cut into large logs and taken by a wood carver. Apparently wood carvers love to work with juniper, so the beautiful tree will be turned into different things of beauty now. :-)

Care for another cup of T?
Visit this week's...


Friday, November 25, 2011

SkyWatch Friday: thankful for this sunrise!


As so often happens, I had entirely different sky photos ready for this week's SkyWatch Friday when at almost the last minute, along came an even better sky to eclipse them (no pun intended!) ;-) This was our sunrise yesterday...



I love bare tree branches silhouetted against beautiful sunrises and sunsets, so at least Thanksgiving Day (my least favorite holiday) dawned with a happy dose of gratitude for this scene.

Find more skies to be thankful for at...


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ABC Wednesday: Snow on Sculptures


I didn't want to wait to post the photos I took during my Snowy Saunter after our big Storm last week, but it didn't escape my attention that I was Squandering a perfect opportunity to have Something to Share for this week's ABC Wednesday "S" post! So I Saved a few additional photos for it. They're not just pictures of Snow, they're pictures of Snow on Sculptures! Bonus points! :-)

While not exactly a Sculpture, I love this hitching post pony,
one of a Set of four, wearing a Snowy hat.

"Cool Water" by Mike Thomas
In Spring and Summer, water Streams from his hat
onto Some river rocks Spread beneath it.
This Statue Stands at the entrance of Whitney Commons,
across from the library, and has its own web cam.
(See the "SMILE, you're on camera" Sign?) :-)

"Mr. Whitney" by Felix Velez
Edward Whitney, for whom Whitney Commons is named,
Shares his Snowy bench with Some book-loving youngsters.
(You can See this Sculpture Sans Snow
by clicking on the link above).

A Staunch & Steadfast reader tries to read through Snow!

This last one, another Staunch and Steadfast Snow-covered book lover, is Situated in front of the Sheridan library and is for you, Rose! I Said a year ago I'd get you a photo of this Stunning Sculpture all covered in Snow and finally got the chance! :-)

"Circle of Friends" by K. E. Crain

For Seasonal contrast, you can See both "Cool Water" and "Circle of Friends" in the Summer Sunshine on my Street Art, Part II post from a year ago. (A year ago already? Seriously?! That's Shocking!)

For more Specimens of S, from Silly to Sublime, visit...


Sending warmest wishes to my American friends
for a Safe, happy & gentle Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quilt Show 2011, Part 3


This will be the final batch of quilts, as my final post in this series will feature other fiber arts from the library exhibit. But for now... yet more quilts! :-)

Shared here with the artist's kind permission

This time we'll explore the quilts displayed on other side of the library's mezzanine...



Once again, let's look at some of them in detail, beginning with this one hanging on the back wall (it was blocked by a support post in the top photo, and deserves better star treatment than that!)...

Tree of Life
Technique: Hand Appliqué
Artist: Linda Hall
Quilted By: Linda Hall
"When I first saw this quilt kit in a needlework catalog in the late 60's, I knew I wanted it. I did not quilt at the time so did not buy it. Several years later, after I started quilting, I saw the kit on eBay. After several unsuccessful bids on the kits that were placed on eBay, I was fortunate to have the winning bid... almost a year after seeing the first kit listed. This is my first appliqué project using the needle turn technique.
It took 6 years to complete the appliqué, and I hand quilted it."

Here's another photo showing more detail (without so much of the display case in the way)...


I goofed on these next two photos by not recording the informative notecards that went with them. But I was able to get most of the information about them from Mary Jane Collins, one of the quilters, who works at the library's front desk. ..

Perkiomen Valleyl
Artist: Kaffe Fassett
Quilted By (L-R): Linda Cook, Jackie Waters, Mary Jane Collins
According to Mary Jane, this is a Split Nine Patch pattern,
which is from Kaffe Fassett's book, Quilts in the Sun

I'd failed to record the information on this gorgeous red quilt, but living in a small town can sure be handy. I was able to get the quilter's name from Mary Jane, and eventually called her (on her birthday, as it turned out!), and got the name of her quilt and the story behind it...

Ruby Red
Quilted By: Donna Weeden

I saved two more of my favorite quilts for last...

Polka Dots
Technique: Pieced and Hand Appliqué
Artist: Marge Hamilton
Quilted By: Laurie Sheeley
"A Piece O'Cake design.
My friends loaned me polka dot fabric."

LOL, I love that - her friends didn't give her the polka dot fabric, mind you, they loaned it to her. If I were one of those friends, I'd be demanding my fabric back - just as it is! ;-)

Some of that loaned fabric was mighty cute ~ take a look...


And here's another playful quilt, whose name and pattern I love...

Kaleidoscope
Technique: Machine Pieced
Artist: Becky Stedtnitz
Quilted By: Becky Stedtnitz
"Another quilter with a lot of scraps.
I had to try a Kaleidoscope -
never put much of a dent in the scrap pile!"

(I thought some of you quilters might be able to relate to that!) ;-)

I had to take a closeup of this pretty "scrap" - it had tiny multi-colored rhinestones on it! AdventureJo can attest that I am a total sucker for glittery, sparkly fabrics...


Stay tuned for part 4, the final post of the quilt show featuring non-quilt fiber art exhibits! And just in case you missed the first two parts (or just want to view them again)...


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Snow Day!


Well, our big winter storm moved out about a day early (sorry, Midwest friends, it appears to be headed for you now!), but it stayed long enough to significantly drop both snow and the temperatures (it was -3ºF with winds gusting to 25mph this morning!) The cold isn't pretty but the snow is, so I got several photos of the local scenery yesterday morning during a winter wonderland walkabout. (And at about 4:30 that afternoon, BW and I went to a nearby liquor store for a "winter brews" beer tasting. Our favorite of the two beers offered was New Belgium's appropriately named Snow Day, but it's just a coincidence that it's also the title of my post. *burp*) ;-)

If you saw the video on my last post, you'll recognize this scene of the footbridge into Kendrick Park, taken from our front porch at 4:30 yesterday morning...


And here's the same scene about four hours later, now with daylight. And ducks!


Poor darlings look so cold but they seem pretty content despite the frigid water, ice and snow in which they swim, stand and lie. They keep their heat-trapping down feathers nice and dry with all their preening, which spreads an oily film over the contour feathers that cover their down. As for how they keep their feet from freezing, I was mystified till I looked it up and learned about the rete mirabile (Latin for "miraculous web") in their feet and legs. So I guess I won't have to knit them fuzzy slippers for Christmas! :-)


On my way to Whitney Commons (the park on the other side of our cottage), I passed this snowy faerie gateway beckoning passersby into an enchanting secret snow-garden! (Actually, these are huge old lilac bushes surrounding a vacant lot, which is slated to become yet another small public park area)...


If you click on the Whitney Commons link above, you'll find a map (we enter from the west entrance on Jefferson St) and can see how pretty most of the following scenes look in summer. But I also found it beautiful on this very quiet, snowy morning...


The little log building with its back to us is the Mandel Cabin, Sheridan's earliest building, which originally served as both a private home and the town's first post office. Built in 1880, it was moved to Whitney Commons from its original location about two blocks away...


This is the scene looking back the way we came. I love the festive holiday touches, which were just put up shortly before the storm (nice timing!)...


The entrance to the Dorothy King Reflective Garden, my favorite spot in Whitney Commons (or in all of Sheridan!) With its central fountain, beautifully paved walking paths and meditative labyrinth, the Mandel cabin, and tons of roses, irises, other flowers (mostly native) and ornamental grasses, it's a wonderful place to read a book, eat lunch, or just be. At least when it's not covered in snow!...



You can keep an eye on this and several other spots in Whitney Commons via these live web cams. Chances are, you'll see me walking the dogs or riding by on my bike a couple times or more a day (depending on the weather!), so I'll try to remember to wave at the cameras just in case you're watching! :-)

I'm clearly smitten with the old-fashioned look of the wreaths on the lampposts (which also line Main Street)...


We're not the only ones enjoying a winter walkabout today! There go our duck friends, promenading down Smith Street (which runs behind our cottage)...


At the risk of making you sick of looking at it, here's another photo of Dragonfly Cottage, taken from the footbridge and this time surrounded by a lot more snow...


Haven't photographed it from this angle before ~ the sunporch off the living room, taken from the walking path that runs along its west side...


And an especially wintery look at it, this time taken from inside Kendrick Park on the other side of the creek...


While I was taking these creekside photos of the cottage, this little friend swam up and climbed onto a slab of ice at the bottom of the bank to say hi (and to perhaps reassuringly remind me of his rete mirabile foot warmers!) ;-)



Now that I've dragged you out into the cold with me, I promise to make it up to you by wrapping you up in more warm, snuggly quilts with Part 3 of the Quilt Show on Monday! :-) Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"