Sunday, October 30, 2011

1000 gifts: fall colors to the max

Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey (from Ann Voskamp's book and her blog, A Holy Experience).

349. The San Juan mountains at peak color
Every year I try to take the family on a fall-color drive (this tradition actually began with my friend Karen, when we were both still single. We still talk about the great memories - and she made me a scrapbook of our travels). This year we traveled to Ridgway, Colorado and then took some dirt national forest roads back into the most amazing scenery. I think Mt. Sneffels and its adjoining mountains rival the Grand Tetons for awesome beauty. The next picture is from the wonderful website Colorado Fall Color Drives which also has specifics on how to get there and many other beautiful places.

Ridgway is in a giant valley with three different ranges surrounding it. It is now officially my #1 place to move to if I ever had to move. Just north of Ridgway, we took the Owl Creek Pass forest road up to Silver Jack Reservoir (beautiful, striking rock formations). The girls had fun hiking along forest streams and picnicking and graciously posed for me in front of beautiful views again and again and again - I couldn't stop taking pictures! 

350. Engagements
A dear friend of mine, Nicole, just got engaged! Her fiance is a very close friend of my husband's - at first it was kind of odd seeing them together, but there really some advantages "to opposites attract." From a Christian perspective, having someone with strengths in different areas than your own is an opportunity to grow and gain new perspectives. (It's caused some painful struggles between B. and I, being so different, but in the end I know it's made us better people).

351. Wisdom gained from literature 
Former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev and Nobel Peace recipient spoke on our campus. When asked who was the most influential person to him, he said - literature. Shared many other insights and interesting opinions. A great man! He also endeared himself to us Wyomingites by donning a cowboy hat at the end.

352. Wisdom about the wind
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - William Arthur Ward (esp. true for those of us in windy Wyoming)

353. Scripture memory wars
I was delighted to find out Stars' boyfriend, Garrid, has many Bible verses memorized - one night he heard my daughter Blaze practicing her verses for AWANA, and they got into a scripture memory "war" (a friendly war) quoting verses at each other.

354. Visuals of fantasy worlds
I have always been a big fan of science fiction and fantasy and the movie Thor was right up my alley (esp. since it really is a blend of science fiction and fantasy). These images of Asgard and the rainbow bridge really caught my fancy.

Here's a picture of the rainbow bridge of Asgard, famous in mythology but fascinating how it is turned into a science fiction device in this movie. Director Kenneth Branagh said "An image that was absolutely central to me wanting to do this film was to have six warriors ride on horses across the rainbow bridge in the middle of space. Seemed to me weirdest, weirdest, most brilliant, thrilling image."
 Branagh said to design the Rainbow Bridge they researched everything from "discothèque floors" to Star Wars to the "chemical makeup of quartz."

The character Loki also appealed to me. He's the villain of the movie, but one you can relate to - abandoned by his people, overshadowed by his bigger and more popular brother - plus the actor, Tom Hiddleston, did a really impressive job making him both likable and hate-able.

355.  My daughter talking about God
My father always "shuts down" whenever I try to bring up my beliefs or the Bible into our conversations. But my seven year old daughter, Dreamer, can get away with it: she doesn't realize that Grandpa has "shut down" so she just babbles on about how she loves Jesus and how you have to believe in God and that "it's about relationship."  B. and I fervently hope her innocent delight in sharing her beliefs will win him over in the end (or rather, God will use her to win him over).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

1000 gifts: to fully appreciate beauty, share it

Continuing my list of gifts, blessings that I write down to remember all the wonderful things that God gives me along life's journey (from Ann Voskamp's book and her blog, A Holy Experience).

349. Seeing beauty, squared (or even quadrupled)
I discovered some beautiful new places - surprisingly near home - in September. But almost as wonderful as discovering these places, is being with my family while discovering them. Being able to gasp "Oh, look at that view!" and have someone else smile in return, and even better, having them point out something I might not have seen on my own.  

350. The view from the other side of the mountain
So here's one of those beautiful places I discovered with B., my mom and my daughter Blaze on a trail ride. Sheep Mountain is about 40 minutes away and I've been there lots of times, but never on this particular path.The beautiful views made my heart vibrate with happiness. I am never happier than with my family and my horses (and my God) in a beautiful place.  (the photo is of Blaze showing off sitting backwards in the saddle).

351. My unstoppable mother
She wouldn't be happy about me sharing her age, but I'm still going to brag. In her mid 70's, my mother still rides horses, skis downhill, rollerblades, rides a bike almost everyday, and takes dancing and yoga classes! She is an inspiration to me. Here she is with my daughter Blaze on our trailride.

352. Picking up a very special delivery
My stepdaughter Stars decided to live with us this year, and that meant figuring out how to get her horse here from 1400 miles away in Moses Lake, Washington. There are companies that ship horses all around the states, and they were able to deliver Roy to Cheyenne, about 50 minutes away from us in Laramie. Stars was so excited it's all she could talk about! Actually, we were all pretty excited and waiting eagerly for that phone call from the company telling us that he'd arrived.  Everything went smoothly, even unloading the horse from the specially-oufitted semi-truck-trailer. 

353. Fancy photography with old props
Stars' friend Chesca is really good at photography - she took a bunch of photos of Stars to add to her portfolio. Stars looks stunning and I loved the props and settings they used. You can't see it in this picture, but the old wooden chair Stars is sitting in is in the shallow water of the Laramie River, swirling around her feet. 

354. Riding bareback
Blaze loves riding our horses bareback, and she's getting really good at it, too. Whenever I see her loping around on my old horse Rebel, it reminds me of when I first got Rebel and taught myself how to ride like an Indian. 

355. Riding in the dark
In addition to riding bareback, another thrill is riding in the dark, having to trust your horse (they have much better night vision). B. and I went a trail ride just the two of us, and he talked me into taking a new trail off the Happy Jack trail that we love to ride in the fall because of all the yellow aspens along the trail. The new trail (Devil's Crotch! - what a name!) had some amazing views - along with a beautiful sunset, but it was longer than we bargained for and meant we ended up racing to get back to the horse trailer before dark. Galloping through a twilight forest with low-hanging branches was a scary thrill! 

356. Organizing a community mapping party
Maps are a great love of mine, with my background as a geographer and the analysis work I do with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). So when my boss asked for someone in our office to volunteer to help organize our first annual Laramie Mapping Party, I raised my hand (not without some nervous "what am I getting myself into" thoughts.) It was a lot of work, but we ended up with about 50 volunteers and a great experience. Our event even made the local newspaper.

357. Jokes that writers like
An author and a brain surgeon went golfing one spring day and the brain surgeon said, "I'm taking a six weeks off this summer to write a book!"
The author stared at his friend and said, "That's a stunning coincidence. I'm taking six weeks off this summer to become a brain surgeon."

358. Opposing ideas
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
Nicole shared this quote with me, and it made me think about how the Bible sometimes seems to contradict itself. The concept of free will and predestination are two ideas very opposed to each other, yet both are supported by the Bible. Some will say it means the Bible is untrustworthy and contradictory, but I think it's an instance of how God's ways are above our ways, His understanding beyond our understanding. These opposing ideas are divine paradoxes to me, part of the mystery and beauty of God. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Horses in our family over the years

My daughter Dreamer (her screen name) had to do a class project for 2nd grade about family traditions. She wanted to do horses since our family owns a lot of horses and we are always riding. But I told her that horses go way back in our family, too. So together we looked through photos and talked with her dad and grandparents to put together some details about our family's history with horses.

About 1937: a picture of her Grandma's (my mother's) horse, a paint pony called Bill. She grew up on a farm and Bill was a plow horse but also fun to ride (though he could be very tricky - would scrape you off under trees if you weren't paying attention).  My mother is the baby in this picture  (with her Grandma) and her cousin is riding Bill. Mom remembers riding Bill all her years growing up - he lived to be a very old horse.

Her grandpa (my father) grew up in a big city (Buffalo, NY), but lived near a city stable where rich people kept their horses. He used to make deliveries there and later when I got into my horse-crazy stage, he took me to see the Saddle and Bridle club. We found out I could get riding lessons there and I ended up riding there from age 10 to 17. This is a picture of my dad riding my cousin Donna's horse. 

Her other Grandpa (B's father) grew up in a small town in Nebraska. This is his horse Rip. 

Her other Grandma (B's mom)  grew up helping her father train horses on a ranch in Nebraska near Ogallala.  Grandpa saw her for the first time riding a horse through town and said “that’s the girl for me.”

Her Grandma's father supposedly won at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, and her grandfather (mother's father) supposedly once rode (or tried to ride) the famous bucking horse, Steamboat, who was popular at the Cheyenne and Laramie rodeos in the early 1900's. (Steamboat is often cited as the source of the bucking horse and rider that is the symbol of Wyoming).

B.'s family also had horses when he was growing up, he and his dad would take them hunting up in the mountains. Starting his senior year in high school, he rode bareback broncs in rodeos all around the west until he was about 24. Now he does team roping.  

 I took riding lessons for years but didn't get my own horse (Rebel) until I was 22. I loved to jump but I never got brave enough to jump over 3 1/2 feet (that's what I'm jumping here in this picture on Ginger, a horse I leased). Before I met B., I showed in jumping, dressage and eventing. Now my favorite thing is trail riding in the mountains and teaching my daughters the skills I learned.

Here are the five girls with our five horses:  Stars on Folly, Blaze on Spring, Dreamer on Ally, Serious on Rebel and Starlet on Jewel.