Saturday, December 30, 2006

Long Walks in Stormy Weather

As you may know, I was extremely disappointed that my son wasn’t able to make it home for Christmas. I certainly didn’t want him on the road or stranded at the Denver airport, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t depressed about it. I tried not to let my mood affect those around me, but as several people will attest, I wasn’t completely successful (sorry Ron, Val, Nels, Danae, Michelle, Larry, Rocky, ok…pretty much everyone).

Fortunately for the people around me, my mood picked up this week as I planned a 4-day trip to Absarokee to visit my dad and brother. Ah, the fun we would have, walking the dog, road tripping in the 4 wheel drive, taking pictures of everything and enjoying the fun family things we always do when I’m there. I knew I would come back refreshed and rejuvenated.

I was to leave Friday. Emphasis on “was”. Thursday a storm came through, bringing snow, wind and cold. Not a big thing to me; I’m a tough Montana chick and I’ve been driving in blizzards for decades. Friday morning, I packed the car, checked my winter survival kit and hit the road.

Conditions were…interesting. There was no doubt it was icy. It had warmed up considerably and there was just enough water on top of the ice in the driving lane to make it treacherous. The passing lane, however, was snow packed and hardly slick at all. I drove in the passing lane for several miles, listening to XM radio and singing to the music. Nothing white knuckle at all (ok, I’m lying here, but it wasn’t bad enough to make me turn back and miss out on a chance to spend time with my family).

About 4 miles out of town, a brand new black Dodge Ram, fully tricked out, appeared in my rear-view mirror. I pulled back into the driving lane to let him by. He passed me like I was stopped and headed off down the road like a bat out of blazes. I was just considering pulling back into the (safer) passing lane when I saw the Dodge in front of me fishtail a little, and then lose it completely. Round and round he went on the ice, finally going off the right side of the road, nose first. Why it didn’t roll, I’ll never know.

I could tell from the activity in the cab that he was fine. Stuck big-time, but physically ok. I slowed down, but didn’t stop. I called the highway patrol on my cell and told them about the accident. They had someone in the area and were sending him immediately. I was about 500 yards from the exit to Colstrip, 5 miles from home and 155 miles from Absarokee.

I did the right thing. I pulled into the exit and took the frontage road home. It was snow packed and slightly icy, but much safer than the interstate.

Mother Nature hates me.

Though I rarely wallow in self-pity, when I do, I do it well. I came home, put on my sweats and readied myself for a long weekend of misery. I surfed the net for awhile, reading blogs and doing some research for an article I’m writing for the work newsletter. I updated the website a bit and got ready for bed.


I woke up this morning feeling very blah. I waddled dejectedly into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and sat down at the computer to continue my research. To be honest, it wasn’t going well…my heart just wasn’t into it, nor was my brain. I decided to abandon work and check out some of my favorite blogs. The first one I clicked on was Looking Up. If you haven’t checked out that blog, you should. Cathy is an awesome photographer and a wonderful human being. Her posts are always upbeat and thought provoking.

This is from her Friday, December 29th post:

"Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary." Henry David Thoreau

For some reason, that quote hit home. I put on my coat, my boots, grabbed the camera and took off through the snow…

I'm feeling much better now.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just Another Conspiracy Theory

I received a couple of comments on my blog this morning, so I thought I would answer them, as is my custom. Imagine my surprise when the virus software on my government computer boldly announced that there was a virus present. Thinking it to be some kind of mistake, I tried to log in again. Once again, I received warning of virus activity. I quickly closed the browser so as not to get a sternly worded advisory from the federal government IT services saying that I was accessing a forbidden site (not that I ever would, do I look like that kind of girl to you? Ok, there was this one time, in band camp….).

So….the rest of my day went swimmingly, aside from the fact that I didn’t dare access my blog and I felt like a crack-whore jonesing for a fix. I left work precisely at 4:30 pm, rare for me because I usually work until at least 5, donating time to the cause, don’t ya know (ok, making up for the time I’m piddling around on the internet during the day).

I did the usual after-work errands and hurried home to see what was up with my blog. I couldn’t see anything obvious and my virus scan didn’t pick anything up, so I consulted tech support (my son) who told me that the most likely culprit was the music video I had recently added to my site. He told me that some virus software can be set up to detect that type of activity. I removed the video and drove back to work to see if I got the same error message and I did not. To be honest, I think it’s a conservative conspiracy to increase productivity and limit free speech and I’m outraged!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My New Toy

Rather than dwell on the fact that I’m not celebrating Christmas 2006, I’m playing with my new toy today. It faxes, it scans, it copies, it prints, and it might keep me occupied until Christmas is over!

The first thing I scanned was one of my son’s senior pictures, which were taken in the fall of 2000. I’ve also posted a current picture of him so you can see how well he’s “aged”.

My second scanning attempt was my senior picture, taken in the summer of 1974.

As you can see from the second picture of me, below, I’ve not aged very well.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Due to factors beyond our control, Christmas 2006 has been cancelled

Lame ass post, yes, I'll grant you that. I'm feeling rather blog humbuggy. My son can't fly out of Denver until after Christmas, so he isn't coming. We are going to try to arrange something for January. This is my second Christmas in a row without him and I am not feeling very festive.

Please carry on without me.

And yes Anvil Cloud, I am a cruel, cruel mother and it came back to bite me in the arse.

Look who's (not) laughing now.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dumped on in Denver

As some of you know, my son lives in the Denver area. He loves it there and often teases me about the difference in weather. When I’m sitting in the house with a sweatshirt on and a blanket over my lap because it’s -20 outside, he’s running around in shorts because it's 70 degrees there.

The parking lot at his apartment complex.

The view from his bedroom window. Pretty startling, since he lives on the SECOND floor. That's a serious snow drift.

Who's laughing now, son?

My Christmas Story

I have always been a tomboy. I never really enjoyed girlie things, preferring to work with my dad in the garage, rather than help my mom in the kitchen. My favorite Christmas gifts were always toy trucks or tools, not the Easy Bake Oven my mom lovingly bought me. She never gave up on domesticating me, though and bought me dolls and other girl things for most of my life.

She went on a Barbie kick in the 60’s. I had Barbie, Ken, Midge and Skipper. I had a Barbie Dream House and the Barbie car, every Barbie thing in the world, mom bought me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mom. She was a dear, sweet woman with a heart of gold, but I never understood her fascination with Barbie. Loving my mom, as I did, I felt it my duty to “pretend” to play with the things she bought me. I did all the girl things when mom was looking and when she wasn’t; I pitched Barbie off the front steps and made her do unspeakable things with Ken and G.I. Joe (who Barbie was seeing behind Ken’s back).

During the late fall and early winter of 1965, my mom spent an inordinate amount of time knitting and sewing in secret. I rarely paid any mind to her projects; even at a young age I knew it wasn’t my cup of tea, but the secrecy of the whole thing piqued my curiosity. I tried time and time again to see what she was up to, but to no avail. I finally gave up trying and carried on with my young life.

Christmas was always a time of great fun and frolic at the Kelley household. Mom made everything incredibly festive. She cleaned, cooked, baked and decorated herself into frenzy. Everyone in the house had a stocking, including the dog and cats and there seemed to be hundreds of brightly wrapped gifts under the tree. The night before Christmas I lay in my bed, watching the Christmas lights twinkle, thinking of what wonderful things I would see when I awoke.

Morning dawned cold and clear and as always on Christmas I was the first awake. I ran through the house rousting my parents and brother, the dog and the cats. When the coffee was brewed and everyone was seated, we began the gift opening. I’m sure every gift I received was wonderful, but I can really only remember unwrapping one package. It was a large box, carefully wrapped with one of my mom’s famous homemade bows on it. The ribbons had been cut just so, at an angle and the gift card matched the wrapping paper.

I eagerly shredded the wrapping and threw open the box. I’m sure my mouth dropped open as I saw what was inside. The box was full, completely FULL of Barbie clothes. Dresses, slacks, shirts, shorts, skirts, jackets, all hand sewn. There were cardigans, V-necked sweaters and full length sweater coats, all knitted by my mother’s hands. There were even several pairs of teeny tiny jeans, hand sewn.

Even at the tender age of 9, I knew how precious this gift was. It was the gift of love.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Too tired to think, so I'll just cut and paste...


An elderly spinster called the lawyer's office and told the receptionist she wanted to see the lawyer about having a will prepared. The receptionist suggested they set up an appointment for a convenient time for the spinster to come into the office.

The woman replied, "You must understand, I've lived alone all my life, I rarely see anyone, and I don't like to go out. Would it be possible for the lawyer to come to my house?" The receptionist checked with the attorney who agreed and he went to the spinster's home for the meeting to discuss her estate and the will.

The lawyer's first question was, "Would you please tell me what you have in assets and how you'd like them to be distributed under your will?"

She replied, "Besides the furniture and accessories you see here, I have $40,000 in my savings account at the bank." "Tell me," the lawyer asked, "how would you like the $40,000 to be distributed?" The spinster said, "Well, as I've told you, I've lived a reclusive life, people have hardly ever noticed me, so I'd like them to notice when I pass on. I'd like to provide $35,000 for my funeral."

The lawyer remarked, "Well, for $35,000 you will be able to have a funeral that will certainly be noticed and will leave a lasting impression on anyone who may not have taken much note of you! But tell me," he continued, "what would you like to do with the remaining $5,000?"

The spinster replied, "As you know, I've never married, I've lived alone almost my entire life, and in fact I've never slept with a man. Before I die, I'd like you to use the $5,000 to arrange for a man to sleep with me."

"This is a very unusual request," the lawyer said, adding "but I'll see what I can do to arrange it and get back to you."

That evening, the lawyer was at home telling his wife about the eccentric spinster and her weird request. After thinking about how much she could do around the house with $5,000 and with a bit of coaxing, she got her husband to agree to provide the service himself. She said, "I'll drive you over tomorrow morning, and wait in the car until you're finished."

The next morning, she drove him to the spinster's house and waited while he went into the house. She waited for over an hour, but her husband didn't come out. So she blew the car horn. Shortly, the upstairs bedroom window opened, the lawyer stuck his head out and yelled, "Pick me up tomorrow, she's going to let the County bury her."

*Heavy Sigh*

Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Name is dmmgmfm and I'm a Blogaholic

I am having blog withdrawals. Due to technical difficulties seemingly beyond our internet provider's control, we have been without service for 7; count them seven, days this month. There is no end in sight and I have been reduced to posting comments on other people’s blogs from my work computer.

I can’t believe how much I miss keeping up with what is going on in everyone’s lives. Am I living vicariously through all of you? It’s possible I guess.

I shouldn't complain...people are sleeping in doorways and I'm whining about not having high speed internet at my fingertips.

It's official, I'm a bad person. *Sigh*

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Continental Divide--Montana Style

This photo was taken by HWDDD when he was elk hunting near Lima, Montana. The elevation at this point is approximately 8,500 feet. I could post pictures of the elk he shot, but I would probably get a lot of Bambi killer comments and I'm not up for that right now.

In other news, I took my 83 year old dad to get his driver's license renewed today. He didn't pass the eye test because he has macular degeneration. Even though he hasn't driven in several years, it upset him. I imagine that he feels he is losing his independence, bit by bit. I wish I could make it better for him. I wish I could help him and my brother more. I wish, I wish...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Because my last post was so serious....

...and stirred up some lively discussion (which I'm not afraid of, by the way); this post is just "fluff".

A woman and a man are involved in a car accident on a snowy, cold Monday morning; it's a bad one. Both of their cars are totally demolished but amazingly neither of them are hurt. God works in mysterious ways.

After they crawl out of their cars, the woman says, "So you're a man.That's interesting. I'm a woman.

Wow, just look at our cars! There's nothing left, but we're unhurt. This must be a sign from God that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace for the rest of our days.

"Flattered, the man replies, "Oh yes, I agree with you completely, this must be a sign from God!" The woman continues, "And look at this, here's another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of wine didn't break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune."

Then she hands the bottle to the man.The man nods his head in agreement, opens it and drinks half the bottle and then hands it back to the woman.

The woman takes the bottle and immediately puts the cap back on, and hands it back to the man.

The man asks, "Aren't you having any?" The woman replies, "No. I think I'll just wait for the police..."

MORAL OF THE STORY: Women are clever, very clever. Don't mess with them.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Wind Farming--What a Concept

I just returned from a Watershed Symposium in Great Falls, Montana. From Forsyth to Great Falls is a 320 mile trip, one-way, and there is some pretty interesting scenery along the way. I usually give myself some extra traveling time so I can stop and take pictures. It’s a good way to break up the trip and I generally learn something along the way. This trip took me by the Judith Gap Wind Farm. I don’t know about you, but the thought of farming wind sounds like a great idea to me. Renewable energy, what a concept! Isn’t it about time we started looking for viable alternatives to fossil fuel consumption?

I have read the usual rhetoric about wind energy; it’s obtrusive, noisy, and dangerous for birds. As you can see, there is no denying that there is a visual impact. The wind towers and rotors are 387 feet tall and the blades are 126 feet across. The concrete pads are 48 feet wide and seven foot deep to accommodate the 400,000 pound weight of the unit. There are 90 towers in all, spread across Highway 191; south of Judith Gap in Wheatland County.

I did a little research on the noise concerns and discovered that the turbines at Judith Gap produce 45-50 decibels. To put that into perspective, 30 decibels is comparable to a soft whisper and 40 decibels is equivalent to the noise level in a library. The wind itself will likely drown out the sound of the turbines - at least farther than 1,000 feet away. According to information compiled by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, bird deaths at wind farms average 4 per year, per tower. Bird mortality rates at the Judith Gap wind farm should be significantly lower due to the use of solid tubular towers rather than old-style lattice towers, which encouraged nesting and perching. In addition, the blades of the new style turbines turn much more slowly than the old style, making them much less dangerous.

What does all of this mean to the citizens of
Wheatland County? The initial cost of the project was $180,000,000. Approximately 120 people, mostly locals, were involved in the construction process. There are currently 12 full-time employees, again mainly local folks, maintaining the farm. A Lewistown company (local by Montana standards) provided the 22,000 tons of concrete for the project, and it is anticipated that in the next 20 years, Wheatland County will reap $1.2 million annually from a wind-assessment tax, money that will be earmarked specifically for economic-development projects. Good news for a county that has seen its average earnings per job, adjusted for inflation, plummet from $26,318 to $14,216 since 1970.

What does it mean for the people of the great state of Montana? For one thing, it reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, which is always a good thing. Because 13 of the 90, 1.5 megawatt towers are located on state land, the project will contribute nearly $20,000 to the school trust for a one-time installation fee, and future revenues range from about $35,000 to 50,000 annually depending on the volume of power produced. Although it may be too early to tell, it appears that the farm will provide over 8% of the state's residential energy needs.

Sounds like a win-win situation to me. What do you think?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Decking the Blog, part 3

I am definitely getting into the Christmas spirit tonight.

Decking the Blog, part 2

Birthday Meme...

The Rules:
1) Go to Wikipedia
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday
4) List two important birthdays and one death
5) One holiday or observance (if any)

Three events that happened on my birthday:
1803 - The United States Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase
1955 - Publication of The Return of the King, being the last part of The Lord of the Rings
1977 - A plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd crashes in Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines

Two births and one death that happened on my birthday:
b. 1958 - Viggo Mortensen, American actor (yummy!)
b. 1970 - Michelle Malkin, American political commentator and author
d. 1926 - Eugene Debs, American labor leader and Socialist presidential candidate (b. 1855)

And one holiday observance:
Bahá'í Faith - Holy Day - Birth of the Báb

By the way, I stole this from Courtney (as usual)

Rated R

This is not normally the type of thing I post, but for some reason, it really cracked me up.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tired, oh so very tired...and I flunked English, obviously

Your Language Arts Grade: 98%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

I stole this from Courtney (who got 100%)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

Here is another photo of my brother Mike on Thanksgiving Day 2006. For some reason he is able to sleep anywhere, in any position, even with a flash going off.

Dad was pretty happy, as you can see. He really enjoyed the turkey and fixin's, which didn't turn out too badly this year. I'll never forget the first Thanksgiving after my mom passed away. I slaved in the kitchen for hours, all the while wishing I'd paid more attention when my mom was doing her holiday cooking. I made everything from scratch, including the rolls and the pies. The rolls were huge and funny looking, but tasted alright. The pie, however was a different story. I followed mom's recipe, but it left out a few important the fact that you need to cook it at 425 for 15 minutes, then turn it down to 325 for the last 30 minutes. Needless to say, we determined it was done when the smoke detectors went off. After dinner dad looked at me kindly and said "Do you want to buy pies for Christmas and give the fire department the day off?" I laughed so hard I snorted. Even though mom wasn't there, it was a pretty good day.

Despite his nicname (He Who Doesn't Do Dishes), Ron is very helpful during family functions. He is pictured here *gasp* doing dishes.