Saturday, June 30, 2007

How many Norwegians does it take to hook up a dryer?

Several months ago, Cousin Kay and I made a pact that we would go to Denver to celebrate Dale's 50th birthday. Since we weren't able to do that, we decided to spend the day together. Kay was house and babysitting while her niece went to training in Helena so I joined her in that endeavor.

I arrived in Billings Thursday afternoon. That night we watched movies and ordered in pizza. Kay and I doted on the kids and had a very good time. We celebrated Dale's birthday in a quiet, but good way, toasting him with ice cold Dasani water. We had such a nice time, in fact, that we decided that I would also stay on Friday night, when all but the youngest of the kids were going to be gone.

I shopped all day Friday, picking up everything (hopefully) that we will need for our booth at the county fair this year. It was hotter than hades (one of the signs said 105), but a good day, nonetheless.

Kay had given me a free coupon for a latte, so I was primed for the occasion. I shopped 'til I dropped and then Kay called me to meet at City Brew for yet another coffee. I was wired to the max by that time, I promise you.

At 5 pm, I had finished my shopping and Kay was done with work so we went back to the house. We fixed a salad for dinner, entertained Luke, her niece's youngest, and when he settled down for the evening, we were primed with double shot lattes and looking for something to do.

Kay's niece had just moved into the house and hadn't finished unpacking yet. We didn't want to try to guess where she wanted things, so we went looking for something else we could do to help.

Our quest led us to the basement where we found just the project; hooking up the dryer!

After a couple of hours and a trip to the hardware store we determined that it takes 2 Norwegians to hook up a dryer.

Can you imagine what it would look like if there had been three of us?

I wonder if her niece will ever ask us to house/baby sit again?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Down at the Pink Flamingo

As some of you may have noticed, I've not been very "perky" lately. I've tried to keep my chin(s) up and not focus on the negative and for the most part I've managed to keep it together, but my friends and co-workers have been concerned about my sadness. I usually walk around with a big silly smile on my face and I'm nearly always upbeat and happy. I've not been that way in awhile.

Wolf, my son, hasn't been himself either. To be honest, Dale losing his fight to survive took a lot out of both of us. We miss him. We miss knowing he's on this earth...

Over the last several weeks I've asked myself these questions: How long do I mourn someone I've known all of my life? Will I always feel this empty? When does the hole in my heart start to heal? Am I ever going to feel normal again?

I wish I could say that a lightning bolt struck the ground in front of me and I was healed of my sadness, but that is not the case. I'm finding that grief fades slowly, in very small increments. For the most part, since Dale died, I've not found much to smile or laugh about. Wolf confided to me that he hadn't either.

I spent most of Friday getting ready for a big work event. I finished making the signs and the posters and made certain everyone knew where they needed to be and when. One of my final tasks was picking up a large number of balloons at our local pharmacy/gift store.

The store was rather busy and it took awhile for the clerk to fill the balloons with helium. While I waited, I wandered aimlessly around the store, glancing at the items on the shelves without much interest. Until I came upon this...

"Try me! Just press my left wing."

As if in a daze, I reached up and touched the appropriate spot. Immediately the creature's head began to move from side to side and music began to play. Loudly. Very loudly. Everyone in the store turned to look at me as the pink flamingo's head bobbed to the tune of "You are my Sunshine".

At that moment, something happened inside of me. I started to giggle. Then I started to laugh. Not just a polite tee-hee, mind you...but a full blown belly laugh. I have no doubt that the people in the store thought I was nuts. I imagine more than one cell phone came out to dial the psychiatric ward and still I laughed. I guffawed so loudly that I snorted (I know...quite the picture I'm painting here).

After the flamingo finished serenading me, I picked him up and tucked him under my arm. By then the balloons were ready and I checked out, flamingo in one hand, gigantic bouquet of balloons in the other.

I went back to work, packed him up, added a note and sent him off to my son.

On Monday I received a call from him..."Have I ever told you how much of a dork you are?"

I think the healing has begun.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Buddy

The first day of our 3 day outdoor classroom event last month was held at Crazy Head Springs near Ashland, Montana. It was the perfect location and a good time was had by all. I always love this kind of event and this was no exception.

During the course of the day I bonded with a little guy from one of the schools. He was very sweet and very smart and very interested in learning about conservation.
As the day progressed, Quinn and I talked more and more and he introduced me to "My Bude" (pronounced Buddy), which was a Pokemon toy.

Somehow my son missed the Pokemon craze, so this was the first one I'd ever seen. It was a funny looking toy, but Quinn was extremely fond of it because his mom had gotten it for him.

After lunch, Quinn and a friend were playing tag in the meadow. As we prepared to break up into groups again Quinn came up to me with a stricken look on his face.
He had lost Bude!! We began looking for it, but because classes were starting again, Quinn had to leave to go to the water monitoring station. I kept looking.

I looked and I looked and I looked, but still no Bude. I widened my search grid and kept looking. During breaks Quinn came over and helped. Several of the chaperones joined in the search and still no Bude. You could tell that Quinn was upset, but still he wanted to learn about conservation. I felt so bad for him.

It was nearly time for the day to end when I spotted Bude! I could swear I'd walked that area fifteen times and hadn't seen him, but there he was. I picked him up and hurried over to where Quinn was. The smile on his face lit up the world. I kid you not, you could probably have seen it from Mars. He hugged me and thanked me a dozen times. I felt like I'd given him the universe.

We said our goodbyes and he hugged me and thanked me again. It felt so good to have been able to help him find his Bude.

Imagine how great I felt when I got this in the mail a few weeks later. It was from Quinn, sent by his teacher.

Isn't he just the most precious child?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Eye of the Needle

On Saturday Dad, Mike, Shasta (the Disasta) and I took a drive up into the Beartooth Mountains, near Absarokee. It was about a 70 mile round-trip and a good time was had by all.

Shasta, of course, was ready to go as soon as the word drive was mentioned. Mike actually had to put her in the car because she kept running from room to room barking. We made mental notes to spell the word d-r-i-v-e from now on.

Let's get this show on the road, already...

We call this "The Eye of the Needle", for obvious reasons. This outcropping of rocks is located near Dean, MT, population not-so-much.

Here is another needle's eye we spotted above Beehive, Montana, population less-than-Dean.

I took this shot of the mountains, about 10 miles from Nye, MT, population a-few-more-than-Dean-or-Beehive. Can you guess why these mountains are called the Beartooth's? It was rather hazy, probably from the high humidity, but I think you can still make them out fairly well.

And another adventure ends...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Is it time to build an ark?

There has been a lot of flooding in Montana recently; rivers, creeks, cities (that are by these rivers and creeks) and also flooding of basements.

There is obviously something going on geologically in the Forsyth area, because people that have lived in their homes for over 30 years are reporting water in their basements when they've never had it before. Granted there has been a significant amount of moisture in a relatively short period of time, but not an unprecedented amount. So the question is, what is causing it?

My watershed group (meaning me) has agreed to be the information clearing house for the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology as they study the basement flooding pattern in Forsyth. The hope is that the cause of the flooding can be determined, and maybe in knowing that, a cure can be devised. Not likely, but an interesting possibility, nonetheless.

There are a few schools of thought on it; the dike along the Yellowstone was raised several years ago, it is possible that the work has diverted water from one of the old riverbeds, of which there are many.

Another possibility is that a seismic event caused a fissure to form which is allowing water from the aquifer that lies underneath the Yellowstone River valley to push up, supersaturating the ground.

Add to that the recent rain event and the high level of the Yellowstone, BIghorn and Tongue Rivers, Rosebud and Armell's Creek and you have sub-irrigation which makes the water table much higher, hence the flooding of anything lower than the current water table.

Another school of thought is that a meteor rocketing through the cosmos caused a rift in the space-time continuum...(ha ha, just checking to see if you were still reading...)

Although I'm not going to bore you with a lot of photos of flooded basements, I am going to bombard you with some of the Stillwater River photos (including the one at the top of this post) that I took yesterday while on adventure with my dad, brother and Shasta the Disasta. As you will note (below), the river is fairly high, but that didn't stop Shasta from demanding that my brother throw sticks into the water for her to fetch.

Nor did it stop him from throwing them. She is the boss, you know.

Happy Shasta...

Very happy Shasta!

The last photo is of a wild rose. This species is very common along the banks of the Stillwater River.

As a final note, I want you all to know that we are doing OK. The memorial was lovely and very well attended by Dale's friends and family. Cathy, at Looking Up, sent a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, and Karen, at Karbon Kounty Moos, brought an ice chest of Dasani water that had, yes, you guessed it, ice crystals in it just as Dale had been craving so many weeks ago.

It was a time of great sadness, but also a time of celebration. Dale was remembered fondly and lovingly. He is gone from this earth, but lives on in our memories. I believe he is at peace.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'll Be Seeing You

(Irving Kahal / Sammy Fain)

Recorded by Jimmy Durante

I'll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day through

In that small cafe
The park across the way
The children's carousel
The chestnut trees, the wishing well

I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summers day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way

I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll seeing you.

Good night, Mr. Petersen, wherever you are...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Remembering Dale

Please join us as we celebrate the life of Dale William Petersen on Thursday, June 14 at 2 pm.

Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary
1001 Alderson Avenue
Billings, MT

Smile, by Jimmy Durante

Though your heart is achin'
Even though it's breakin'
When there are are clouds in the sky
You'll get by...

If you smile
Through your fear and sorrow
And maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shinin' through,
For you...

Light up your face with gladness
Hide, every trace of sadness
Although a tear
may be ever so near

Thats the time, You must keep on tryin'
Smile, whats the use of cryin'
You'll find that lifes is still worth while
If you just smile

If you smile
Through your fear and sorrow
Smile, and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shinin' through
for you...

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear
May be ever so near

That's the time
You must keep on tryin'
Smile, whats the use of cryin'
You'll find that life is still worth while
If you just smile

If you... just smile :)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone

My plans for the weekend fell through. It's a long and convoluted story, but I ended up spending a significant amount of time by myself for the first time since Dale's passing. I put some jazz on and cleaned the house. It's been awhile and it felt good to rid the carpet and bedding of cat hair and scour the bathroom. The kitchen is sparkling and my drawers are organized (for the most part--though my socks are still mismatched).

After I finished my household chores I put As Time Goes By: The Best of Jimmy Durante into the CD player, set it to repeat and shuffle, and sat down to continue reading Tuesdays with Morrie, a book that Dale had suggested I read several months ago. Since his death it had been recommended to Wolf and I several times and the timing seemed right for me to finish it today.

It was emotionally draining to read, but I'm very glad I did. The lessons in this book are beautiful:

“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.”

“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on—in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.”

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

I think I needed to hear exactly that right now.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Normalcy, or some semblance thereof

This week has been a blur, in so many ways. On a personal level it has been extremely trying, but professionally I'm doing well.

I have been working nearly non-stop since my return and have accomplished nearly all of the things I returned to do. I finalized the annual operating budget, prepared for and held our monthly board meeting, finished numerous reports and reconciled all of our financial accounts. The board did my yearly review and I received a glowing report and a substantial raise.

If things had gone differently with Dale, I would be heading back to Denver on Monday.

My cats were just getting used to having me around the house again when it was time for me to leave on a short business trip. As you can see from the photos, they didn't appear too upset over my departure.

My co-worker and I left at 8 am this morning to drive 240 miles to a media training session in Bozeman, Montana. Last night's board meeting lasted until after midnight, so we were pretty tired on the drive, but perked up after numerous cups carafes of coffee. Today's session lasted from noon until 6 and then we went to Borders where I bought my cousin's birthday presents and several books, including Tuesdays with Morrie, which was recommended to me by a fellow blogger.

Afterward, we returned to the motel room to relax. The photo (below) was taken from the balcony.

It feels good to unwind, if just for a little while.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

"I love you so much too."


"A healthy body is a guest chamber for the soul: a sick body is a prison."
~ Francis Bacon, Sr.

Dale William Petersen, age 49, died at 2 am, June 3, 2007, of complications of a bone marrow transplant. He was just shy of his 50th birthday, which would have been on June 28th. Throughout his illness, he often told me he just wanted to make it to 50, and through sheer determination and strength of character, he nearly did. The medical staff called him the Energizer Bunny because he just kept going and going.

All of you who've known Dale in real life and through this blog know that he was golden; as good a friend as you'd ever have. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him in the last several months. I know I am a better person because of it. Next to my son, Dale was my favorite person in the universe.

He was a dear friend to so many. Carol, a former co-worker of Dale's, loved him with all her heart and he loved her just as much. She had planned to come visit him last week, but became ill herself and had to postpone the trip for a few days. One of Dale's best friends, Darek, had spent several days with him this past week. Our Cousin Kay spent countless hours in the hospital with him in Billings and made two trips to Denver to see him as well.

I can't tell you how many of Dale's friends called to see how he was doing and/or sent cards or letters. One dear elderly lady even sent him a check for $20.00, which of course he didn't cash. When he was in Billings at the hospital, he had a steady stream of visitors. He said he couldn't believe how many people cared about him. To be honest, I don't think he had any idea how much he was loved until he got sick.

On Thursday, as I was preparing to leave him to come back home for a few weeks to catch up on some work that couldn't be put off, I couldn't stop crying. I told him over and over again that it wasn't because of his condition, it was because I had to leave him for a few weeks. He said he understood. I believe that he did. I also believe that he knew his time on earth was nearing an end.

He kept telling me how much he loved me and of course I responded in kind. I told him he was my best friend and he looked at me with those big beautiful blue eyes of his and told me that I was his. His last words to me were, "I love you so much" to which I responded, "I love you so much too". I really didn't think it would be the last words I'd ever say to him.

Through all of this, through every setback and every bad day, I believed that he would survive. My faith never wavered. My dearest friends told me in many gentle ways to prepare myself for the possibility that he wouldn't survive, but in all honesty, I wouldn't or couldn't let my mind go there for fear that letting any doubt in would be evident in my interactions with Dale. I wanted nothing but positivity surrounding him.

I can't help but wish I had stayed.

My son has updated his blog with a heartfelt post about Dale. During the last several months, Dale and Nels (Wolf) have become extremely close. In fact Dale often told me that if he could have chosen a son, he'd have chosen Nels. The feeling was mutual. Dale had become the father my son had never really had. Wolf is broken hearted over Dale's passing and I'd appreciate it if you'd read the post and leave a comment if you are so inclined.

Thank you all for being there for us.

We love you.