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


Thursday, May 31, 2012

House progress, infinite irises, Memorial Day aftermath


As promised, here a few of my latest photos of our future house, taken on the cold, wet and windy eve of our cold, wet, windy Memorial Day weekend. During the past two weeks the plumbing, HVAC ("Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning"), and electrical were roughed in, and some sheet rock and spray foam insulation went up. It's critical and laborious work, but definitely not as impressive in photos as other sorts of progress on the house (some of which we hope to see happen starting today) can be. As you can see, it's still very much...


...so please watch your step and pardon the mess. :-)

The kitchen, taken from the living room. You can see the roughed in electrical and plumbing, where the island (with the sink and dishwasher) will eventually be, the door to the garage straight ahead, the pantry on the left and the breakfast nook on the right (beyond the living room window).

The HVAC plenum distribution chamber inside an upstairs wall. 
Thrilling, I know! :-)

The bonus room's dormer window, partially sheetrocked and foamed. 
(The window's larger than that, the sheet rock has to be trimmed). 

Ah, an action shot to liven things up! 
The foam insulation-spraying guy applying foam to the garage walls. 
He was one person who was happy it was only in the 50's, 
totally covered as he was from head to foot in impermeable attire! 

Okay, enough of messy construction sites. How about some eye candy?


We did have one very brief lull in the rain and wind early Monday morning, so we took the dogs on a long walk. When we came upon this house with its seemingly infinite irises, I was smitten. The sun was positioned perfectly, the raindrops on the iris petals sparkling in its dazzling light - the only thing missing was my camera! So as soon as we got home I grabbed it and returned on my bike to get some photos, which took me longer to do than I'd reckoned because the by then I had to play cat and mouse with the returning clouds that kept darkening the beautiful sunlight...

(note also the climbing roses and giant lupine by the porch to the right)

And then I decided to have a little more PhotoBucket special-effects editing fun, so here are two "before and after" photos...




This one looks like it was just visited by Flower Faeries! :-)
After all those days of unrelenting rain, Tuesday dawned warm, calm and sunny. So once again I hopped on my bike and rode to the cemetery to see if anyone had braved the bad weather to leave Memorial Day flowers - and boy had they! Here are a few photos of how pretty it looked ~ click on them (especially the first two) to get a better look, because it was hard to capture in just a few photos how bright and colorful it was across several acres... 


The Elks Lodge section (see the elk statue?)

I thought this site was especially sweet.
The bird feeder was filled with seeds for a cemetery filled with birds. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day


As I've mentioned in a past post or two, I've always loved cemeteries. I find them to be peaceful, contemplative and nearly always beautiful places, filled with interesting history, personal stories, and art. (And in the case of Sheridan Municipal Cemetery, wildlife too)...

a wild turkey

The cemetery is only a few minutes away by bicycle from where we're currently living, so I've been spending a lot of time there this spring. It's a quiet oasis in an otherwise noisy town; sometimes the only sounds I hear are birdsong and the occasional tinkle of wind chimes decorating someone's grave. And like most community cemeteries, it commands one of the most beautiful spots in town...


Sheridan had no cemetery until 1890, when a group of area businessmen formed the Mount Hope Cemetery Association, selling many of the original plots for $5. Many people who had been buried elsewhere were moved to the cemetery (later purchased along with some adjoining property by the town and renamed Sheridan Municipal Cemetery), which now contains over 19,000 graves.


As I've explored it, usually with camera in hand, I've found some interesting graves. Some beautiful, some historic, some especially poignant, some that piqued my curiosity. Many of them have inspired me to do some research on the internet to learn more about the people or event the grave commemorates. 

I plan to share some of the more intriguing and photogenic headstones I've found in a future post, but I thought Memorial Day was the perfect time to share these particular photos I took during the past few weeks of memorials to a few of Sheridan's war dead. I didn't take these with a Memorial Day post in mind, and not every American war is represented. Though I've found graves of those who served in the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the Korean War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they weren't killed in action so I'm not including them here. Because although Memorial Day, officially proclaimed in 1868, has come in more recent years to be thought of as a day to commemorate any and all who have died, its original intent was to remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to their country. And its with that original purpose of Memorial Day in mind that I'm sharing these photos, along with a few of my own thoughts and/or whatever information I've been able to find about them...


WWI

How especially poignant that Pvt Yardley died on the eve of his 23rd birthday, and only a month before the Nov 11 Armistice that ended the war.

This was all I could find online about Pvt James Mates, Jr (I'd guess he died in the Influenza Epidemic of 1918), and I could find nothing specifically about Ambulance Company 250 or the 13th Sanitary Train with which he served. But I did find this info about Sanitary Trains in general, from the predictably dry US Army Medical Department Office of Medical History's Field Service Regulations:

The sanitary train is composed of a train headquarters, ambulance companies, field hospital companies, camp infirmaries, medical supply unit, and reserve medical supplies... 
The sanitary personnel of organizations must remain with it when advancing into action and during the whole course of an engagement. Accordingly the wounded will be treated where their wounds are received, and the sanitary personnel will pause, if the organization is moving, only so long as is necessary to give appropriate first aid...
Not surprisingly, casualties among ambulance train personnel were high.

Private Groska was an artilleryman who perished in a shipwreck just a month before the Armistice. He was one of several hundred American troops aboard the troopship HMS Otranto, bound from NY to Scotland (from which the troops would be sent to the Western Front) when it collided with another troopship, the HMS Kashmir, in a heavy storm between the northeast coast of Ireland and western isles of Scotland on Oct 6, 1918. Though nearly 600 were rescued by the HMS Mounsey, 431 others (351 American troops, 80 British crew members) were lost at sea. Many men were badly injured in the collision, and were hospitalized in Belfast. I have a feeling that was the fate of Pvt Groska, who probably died of injuries four days after the collision. The bodies of those who drowned were recovered and buried in a spot overlooking the bay where their ship went down, while many of those who died in Belfast hospitals were buried in the Belfast City Cemetery. In 1920, the remains of the American servicemen were exhumed and returned to the US for burial.

WWII

First Battalion Commander of the 501st Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne Divison, Lt Col Carroll was killed in the D-Day invasion just two weeks before his 30th birthday. His father Arthur, who is buried beside his son's empty grave (Lt Col Carroll is buried in Normandy), died at age 52 exactly one week later, on June 13. I can't help but wonder if that's the day he and his family received the chaplain visit or telegram notifying them of the death of their son in combat, and can't fathom the extent and depth of grief suffered by Mrs. Carroll (who lived into old age and is buried there as well). The losses and sacrifices of war extend beyond the tragic death of the service member.

I could find nothing about PFC Novicki, but he was likely killed in a German counter-offensive that took place on July 6 in Beau Coudray, one of 10,000 casualties in 11 days of fighting on the grueling and bloody march to Paris following the Normandy invasion exactly one month earlier.

FC2 Lyle Realing was lost at sea in the torpedoing and sinking of the USS Indianapolis, the last major US Naval ship sunk by enemy action in WWII and an infamous naval disaster that killed nearly 3/4 of her crew. You can read a first-hand account from one of the 317 survivors, the ship's Chief Medical Officer, here, and see a photo of FC2 Realing here (fifth photo from the bottom).

VIETNAM

Shot and killed near Cam Lo, Vietnam just two days shy of his 20th birthday, Marine Corporal Walter J. Washut was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for "conspicuous gallantry in action." Our local paper conducted this interview about him with his high school best friend (and fellow Marine) on Memorial Day six years ago. Posted beside Cpl. Washut's  headstone is a copy of the citation that accompanied his Silver Star...



May they and all victims of war and violence rest in peace, 
and may we all learn at last to live in peace.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

~ Siegfried Sassoon
from his poem, "Suicide in the Trenches," 1918
Written during his decorated military service in WWI 


Wishing everyone a safe, peaceful and thoughtful Memorial Day. More house progress photos in my next post!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sexy Dazy & Vegan Potluck


Happy weekend!

BW is wrapping up a week's vacation (though it will be extended an extra day thanks to Monday's Memorial Day holiday) that couldn't have come at a better time. Our future home has been a flurry of activity and we've both needed to be there for much of it, meet with our builder, and finalize some decisions. The HVAC, plumbing and electric were all roughed-in, the garage and parts of some rooms have been sheet-rocked, and the foam insulation is being applied to the walls (I took a few new photos that I'll share in my next post). We had beautiful weather last weekend and early this week and managed to go for some pretty ambitious bike rides (sometimes riding to the job site, which requires climbing a truly malevolent hill!) and some great walks with the dogs. Our weather then turned cold and rainy (the word SNOW has been bandied about by weather forecasters), so lately we've been able to do a little more relaxing than we'd become accustomed to!

And last evening we enjoyed a fun outing with our friends Robyn and Jesse when we all attended the third monthly local vegan gathering, Lean & Green Potlucks, in Big Horn. Robyn and Jesse met up with us first at our house in Robyn's fun VW bug "Dazy" (who made an earlier blog appearance) so that I could photograph Dazy's recently installed ooh-la-la hot pink metallic Car Lashes that I gave Robyn for her birthday...

Robyn and Dazy (lookin' good, ladies!)

Robyn shows us how perfectly her Crocs match her car! 
(And also how her weekly yoga sessions are paying off!) ;-)

The vegan potlucks started up on March 8, and are now held every fourth Thursday of the month at the Big Horn Women's Club. This is the first one we've had a chance to attend and we really enjoyed it. At least 20 people were there (not bad for a cold and rainy Thursday evening in cowboy country!), along with lots of delicious vegan food. Fellowship and food made for a fun evening!

Our friend and former neighbor Vistara, co-host of the fabulous
Thanksgiving Feastapalooza (so another veteran of a past post)
shares a hug with Alice, whose splinted finger she attributed to 
"too much housework" (let that be a lesson to us all!) ;-)
while their husbands discuss heavy matters in the background.

Folks visit the info table before heading to the food table...

...which was laden with vegan Tamale Pie Casserole, Lasagna, 
Sushi, Fried Tofu, 2 Pad Thai dishes, Leafy Green Salad, 
Potstickers, Beanito Black Bean chips & Guacamole, 
Roasted Potatoes, Wild Rice, and for dessert my contribution 
of Hearty Spiced Cocoa Muffins...

Sprinting down the length of the table is Steve Dudley, 
our former neighbor who founded the Lean & Green potlucks.
Vistara, on crutches next to BW by the quilt, 
taught me how to cook tofu back in 1996,
and brought her delicious signature tofu to the potluck.

Yummy lasagna

My plate (minus the sushi I'd already hoovered up)
of (clockwise from top); roasted potatoes, potsticker, pad thai, 
fried tofu, lasagna, and lentil soup off to the upper left. YUM!
(Sorry, the lighting was dreadful for food photography!)

After everyone's eaten, they show a film. At the first potluck it was the excellent documentary Forks Over Knives, last month's was CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta's report, The Last Heart Attack, and last night it was the very informative, sometimes distressing, sometimes LOL funny documentary Vegucated...

watching Vegucated 

The next potluck is June 28th, which contractors and UPS schedules willing, we hope to attend!

Next week should be exciting with windows, exterior doors and the fireplace scheduled to show up, a big light fixture order to place, a vet visit for Willow and Tess (due for their annual heart worm tests and lepto vaccine, plus Willow has a cyst on her face we want checked out - so please keep your fingers crossed on her behalf that it's nothing to worry about), and hopefully some more great weather for bike rides - and time for blogging!
Update: Willow's cyst was just that, a harmless cyst, and she and Tess both tested negative for heart worms. And they got pedicures and were very brave! :-)

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, a safe Memorial Day to my fellow Americans, and a very Happy Birthday today to my friend Barbara! :-)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

ABC Wednesday: Relishing R


ABC Wednesday: R is for...

ROOFING


I'd be remiss if I didn't sneak in a little update on our new house construction! :-)

I took these yesterday, day #2 of the installation of the roofing shingles. The weather, sunny and in the mid-80s, has been perfect for it, and they're nearly finished...

That's our builder Todd on his phone in the front doorway

The house has been rambunctious recently with the roofing, rough-in plumbing and HVAC ducting. Next week it's the electrician's turn, and if all goes well, the windows should arrive!

But enough about construction, riveting (harhar) as it is! Here are a couple of fun photos taken during bike rides around the neighborhood this week...

READING

chainsaw carving by David Peterson ~ Sheridan, WY

This bookish bear was carved by chainsaw last summer out of a dead cottonwood tree in the artist's front yard. A contractor working across the street when I took this told me the artist had never carved with a chainsaw before doing this bear.

One of my favorite summer recreational activities ~
~ restful, relaxing reading!

(You can see a photo of Mr. Peterson in action about three weeks after starting the bear carving by clicking here). 

RECYCLING, RE-USING, RE-PURPOSING

A delightful yard in our neighborhood is home to several items that have been repurposed into planters, including what looks like a vintage washing machine...


a charming old metal chair...


and my favorite of the bunch, this rustic red pot-bellied stove!


To revel in more representations of the letter R,
ramble over to this week's ABC Wednesday!


Monday, May 7, 2012

A trussworthy post ;-)


Here are some photos, taken during the past couple of weeks, of the recent progress on the house ~ along with some of our local flora and fauna thrown in for good measure. :-)

The place for the fireplace :-)
(Flanked by the two little windows we had added)

The guest room (we had our builder add the large window on the left, 
which still has plywood sheeting over it).
Note the rectangular opening to its upper right...
it was just a spot they hadn't covered with plywood yet, 
but we were inspired with an idea when we looked through it 
and saw this beautiful view...

That's Black Tooth Mountain and the best view of the Big Horn range. 
No way were we going to have them cover that up! 
So we're having a 13" x 24" "peekaboo" window made for that spot
and the window shop even threw it in for free with our window order! 

Our new house has an animal totem, hanging around the lumber.
(Maybe he's a "lumberjack rabbit!" *snork*)

A return visit a few days later, with some of the roof trusses in place...


The view from the master bedroom (and bathroom on the right)

The same spot a week later, with the roof decking installed

Here's the view from the master bedroom window showing 
a lovely burst of color from the blooming crabapple tree!

And while we're on the subject ~ another crabapple in bloom,
in front of the hospital where I used to work

The dormer window in the upstairs bonus room
will eventually be enhanced by a cozy window seat!
(As of Friday, it's covered by house wrap like the rest of the house)

A view from the dormer, captured before the house wrap obscured it

The house as of yesterday, now more protected from the elements

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
  • MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL ~ John Berendt
  • MY NOTORIOUS LIFE: A NOVEL ~ Kate Manning
  • ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
  • QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING ~ Susan Cain
  • THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL ~ Daniel Stashower
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY ~ Erik Larson
  • THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
  • THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
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"