When my nephew, Eric Parmely was little, I would never have guessed that he would decide to become a farmer. Eric was born a city boy, and lived in town throughout his childhood. He rode motorcycles, worked on cars with his dad, and did all the typical things at city boys did. Then, when Eric met Ashley, everything changed. Ashley was a country girl, and loved all the farm animals…especially horses, and especially miniature horses. The reality was that Eric was so smitten with Ashley, that wherever Ashley was going, Eric wanted to go…whether he liked country life or not. The strange thing was, that this city boy suddenly found out that he liked country life…he really liked it.
Over the next seven years I watched as Eric became more and more a country boy…well, a country man. He loved having room to spread out and play with his kids, and have as many farm animals as he and Ashley could possible want. They raise goats, cows, guinea pigs, ducks, chickens, horses, dogs, cats…and kids!! Their two daughters, Reagan and Hattie and a great help around the farm, and no job grosses them out. I know their son, Bowen will soon grow up to be a great help too, but for now he gets to go along for the ride. Bowen likes that just as much as the girls like the work, for now.
Eric has worked for Halliburton for some time now, and is often out of town with his job. That is always tough on the family. Kids need both parents to be around, but at least the kids know that their daddy will be home soon. Eric is a hard worker, and when the bottom dropped out of the oil industry, Eric was able to keep his job. That is important, because he has a family to support. We are all very glad that his job was saved, but sorry that his work is so far away. We are also hoping that very soon, Eric’s job will bring him back home to work. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My niece, Ashley Parmely, who joined our family when she married my husband’s nephew, Eric Parmely in 2011, is a girl of many talents, and amazing patience. When Eric first brought her to meet us, we liked her instantly, and then as we watched their pictures on Facebook, we could see that Ashley was raised in the country with horses. I thought that was cool, but that was really the tip of The Ashley Iceberg. Ashley loves all things country living. She loves all the animals, from chickens to ducks, from goats to horses, and of course, you have to throw in cats and dogs, but lots of people love animals. Ashley takes that one step further, in that she works hard to help her animals have babies, because that is a great way to grow your farm…and after all, babies are great, and according to Ashley, it doesn’t matter if they are human or animal. Yes, all babies are great, and Ashley loves each and every one of them.
And speaking of babies, Eric and Ashley have three of their own…daughters, Reagan and Hattie, and son, Bowen. If Ashley’s life wasn’t full before, putting three children in the mix has filled her home with love and laughter. Ashley is such a great mom. She is patient and loving with the kids, and they are well behaved little sweethearts, who have great imaginations, and who aren’t afraid of hard work…even if it’s cleaning up after the animals. These kids will be capable country kids who share their parents’ love of animals and don’t mind the work that goes along with it. When children are raised around animals, they naturally develop a love for them…they are like family. Ashley is passing on the things she grew up with, and the family, including her husband, Eric, are thriving on it. Some people just seem to love country living, and for Ashley, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, with all the love in her home, I’m surprised the iceberg isn’t melting, but there’s still more to it.
Sometimes, I have to wonder if Ashley’s life is largely chaos, and I’m sure that sometimes it really is, but Ashley is such a patient person, and somehow, I think she thrives on the chaos around her. It’s almost like having so many babies is like having a house full of love…even if only three of the babies are human. As I said, for Ashley, babies are babies. And Ashley, like an iceberg, is not just what you see on the outside, but is rather a deep person with many talents, that she is sharing with her family, and what a blessing that is. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Our family always loved having our Aunt Ruth Spencer Wolfe, her husband, Uncle Jim Wolfe and their kids, Shirley, Larry, and Terry come to visit. We always had so much fun when they came. It didn’t matter if we were playing with the kids or sitting around listening to the many stories Uncle Jim or Aunt Ruth told. There was always so many fun things going on when they were there. My dad, Allen Spencer and Uncle Jim kept us all laughing with their antics. Dad and Uncle Jim were always coming up with some new thing…from wild recipes to crazy challenges. There was never a dull moment when our two families were together.
When we were kids, the two families took trips together. A favorite was the South Dakota trip. Our parents were great campers, and they always made it a lot of fun. I also remember several trips to Casper mountain. The mountain was a long standing favorite, because it was close and yet we got to get out and camp, or at the very least, go for picnics. For a number of years, however, their family lived here in Casper, and that made it much easier to get together.
I gave us kids lots of time to play together. They had chickens, ducks, and geese, and for my sisters and me, all city girls, that in itself was a novelty. Of course, we didn’t have to clean up after them either. I think we were pretty prissy, and we would have probably freaked out at the site of the coop. They also had a garden, and in it was just about everything you could imagine, so I’m sure Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim found a few things missing from the garden after we all spent time outside at their house. They also had a tractor that Shirley would hook the wagons up to and take us all for rides. It was a great time. Of course all too often, it was more fun to be inside with them. Our dad’s kept things lively, whether they were together or all by themselves.
For Uncle Jim’s kids, he was a role model. He taught them how to shoot a gun, and go hunting, so they could provide meat for their families. Their training started as young as two years old, and that is something I agree with. If children know what a gun can do, and they are taught the value of life, they will gain a healthy respect for both life and gun. Shirley recalls fishing, hunting and camping with her dad, and with that came a great sense of camaraderie between the two of them. He was her hero, and she knew that he could do anything. I suppose that is part of what made it hard for her when his mind started to go. Suddenly the dad, who had always taken such good care of her and the family, needed her to take care of him. I know how she feels about that. It is a hard thing to know that your parents are aging, and all you can think is, “How can I stop this? I want to go back in time!!” Unfortunately, that can never be. We live the life we have been given, in the time we were meant to live in, and when it is time to go home to heaven, we must go, whether our family is ready or not. Today would have been Uncle Jim Wolfe’s 94th birthday. He left us almost 3 years ago, and we’ll always miss him. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Jim. We love you.
Sometimes, you have to do something that makes you happy. That is how I feel about photography. Not everyone sees what I see in my pictures…but I see it. They say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and I always thought they meant finding love, but it really means any kind of beauty. My photography may not be beautiful or even unique to everyone, but to me each shot is an amazing expression of my own discovery. I say discovery, because most of the time, I don’t do anything, but see something that I think is photo worthy. Sometimes, I see other people who like the same kinds of things that I do, but just as often, other artists have very different styles than I do. And some seem very strange to me, as perhaps my photography does to others.
This past weekend, while Bob and I were in Thermopolis, we took the time to walk along the river, and up by the hot springs pools. The birds, including ducks, geese, and at least one Great Blue Heron, live in the area year round. It seems strange that they don’t migrate south, until you realize that with the hot springs, the river and especially the pools provide a warm climate for them. This makes migration unnecessary, and that is a cool thing for the people who love to visit the area. The birds, while not tame, are very much used to the scores of people who come to the area, and while they will not let you get seriously close to them, they are much more tolerant of people nearby…provided you move slowly. Of course, for the sake of my photography, having a child try to run up to the birds provides a perfect opportunity to try to get a good “flight” photograph.
Flight photographs are much harder to take than one would think. While all birds fly, and fly often, it is not that easy to take their picture doing it. They go very fast, and trying to chase them with your cameral lens and focus in time is not easy. Then, there is the problem of catching them in a position where they actually look like than a bird and not a ball of feathers. A tripod doesn’t work for this type of picture, obviously, because you have to be able to move. In reality, the best way to take this type of picture is to get your camera ready, and have someone move quickly toward the birds, making them fly away. While that may not be a spontaneous photograph, it is often the best way to get that coveted “in flight” shot. While I didn’t ask them to, there were kids who caused my birds to take flight. To me, it doesn’t really matter what made the birds take flight, but rather the fact that they took flight that makes the scene photo worthy.
Bob and I are very much into hiking. We love hiking on different trails in the areas we travel to. Of course, our all time favorite place, so far, is the beautiful hike to Harney Peak in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and we try to get up there every summer. We have also hiked the Southern Rim of The Grand Canyon in Arizona, and gone down into the canyon a little ways…that was beautiful too. Closer to home, we love the Bridle Trail that is located right here on Casper Mountain and the Platte River Parkway that meanders along the Platte River for almost 8 miles one way. Nevertheless, the reality is that you can’t always be on one of the beautiful trails, because there just isn’t time after work. So most evenings find us walking the city trail that is located a block from our house.
This trail just wanders along next to the alley between the houses from 2nd Street to 15th Street. We usually walk this one between 1 1/2 to 2 hours…thus walking between 6 and 8 miles a day. It isn’t a difficult trail, but it is a slight uphill grade going from north to south, and then a slight downhill grade going from south to north. It is a pleasant trail, and well traveled. We run into people we have never met, people we know only from the trail, and occasionally someone we know from the rest of our lives. But, these aren’t the only friends we run into one the trail…there are many others.
Many people are out walking their dogs in the evening, and while all these dogs are curious about us when we pass by, there are several that are quite special to us. They are all well behaved dogs, and they always come up to us and greet us with tails wagging, hoping that we will take a moment to pet them and talk with them. You really can’t resist, and these friends always understand that you are on a walk, and you can’t talk long, so after a friendly pat, they go merrily on down the trail looking for the next friendly encounter.
There are also the friends who are not on the trail. the dogs in the yards, wishing the could go with us. Some of them just bark at us for a couple of weeks, and then we become boring to them and we are ignored, but others are always there to greet us. Two of the most interesting dogs we pass are the two that are always on the roof of the homeowner’s garage. The deck connects to the detached garage in such a way that the dogs can run freely on the roof. The first time I saw it, I was shocked, but now it is just a normal…even if it is a little bit of a traffic stopper, site. Of course, we also see the birds, and occasionally a duck or two, and we encounter deer, rabbits, squirrels, and the occasional friendly pet cat.
All in all, while our walk on the trails are designed to be relaxing exercise, they really are filled with activity. We may not realize just how much activity there is going on around us all the
time, but it is there nevertheless. I always love late spring, summer, and early fall, because we have so many for opportunities to get out there on the trails then, and I really miss my trails in the late fall, winter, and early spring, because it is just too cold to get out and reconnect with nature. It’s funny that we have all these furry friends, because Bob and I choose not to have pets of our own. We are too busy. Still, I miss all of my furry trail friends when we are away.
It’s strange that our minds, even as small children can remember the things that most impressed us. Even as young as 3, or maybe even younger, those memories so clearly imprint themselves on our mind that we can see the event as if we were experiencing it still. Sometimes that memory is scary and we wish we could forget, such as the time I was tripped by a woman trying to get off of the escalator that we were on. I clearly remember falling, my dress being torn, and my chin and elbow being cut. Escalators bother me to this day. Other memories, like the first time we got to stay in a motel bring a smile to my face.
I’m sure that is exactly how my Great Aunt Bertie Schumacher felt when she remembered the fall days on the farm, after the wheat had been harvested, and the flocks of ducks and geese would begin their migration south. She remembers that the wheat fields seemed to be covered with a thick cloud, that was in fact the flocks of ducks and geese. Then the fields seemed to be alive as they went about looking for food as the evening neared. She recalls how her older brother, Albert would go out to the wheat fields and return with twenty birds in an hour. While Fred, Bertie, and Elsa watched with their mouths watering, Anna and Mina had to clean the birds, and even though they liked the end result, the cleaning was a lot of work, and they grumbled through every second of it.
Years later the family had a smoke house, and the meat that came from there was heavenly. Great Aunt Bertie said she could still taste that meat, while feeling quite sad that she had gone years without it by then. One of her fondest memories of her mother was one of sneaking out to the smoke house with a sharp knife and cutting off a bit of the meat whenever they needed a snack in the middle of the day. And the best thing is that it was allowed in their home, and not considered an offence in need of punishment.
So much of life is commonplace, and would maybe even be considered boring, but in every life there are moments that stand out…that, are labeled in our memory files as special and very important, even if, to other people, they would not seem so. It is the privilege of each person’s mind to pick the memories that it finds the most special and the most important…the sweetest memories. Then they are locked away, so they can be opened up another day, when something we see, hear, taste, smell, or touch triggers that particular file to reopen and pour out that sweet memory that has been tucked away there, so that we can experience it once again in our mind.