Sometimes, you think you know something about a person, and then you find out how little you knew. I have always known that my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens was a big sports fan. He likes pretty much any sport, and is good at some of them too. He likes hunting and fishing, and camping with his family. These are all things I knew about my bother-in-law, but that is not all there is to Mike Stevens.
Mike likes to garden and takes great pride in his yard looking the best in the neighborhood. Now a lot of guys want their yard to look the best in the neighborhood, but few of them care about the garden, produce or flowers. He plants, tomatoes, peppers and after his son, Garrett moved to Sheridan last summer, and left him with zucchini and cucumber plants, Mike has taken on both of those too. When Garrett had to move he left the plants that he had planted in buckets with his parents, who tended to them the rest of the summer. Some of them made it and some did not. Nevertheless, when Mike had to plant the zucchini in the ground because it got too big for the buckets, Garrett’s plants found themselves adopted. Now, Mike is gearing up to start planting his garden again this year.
There has been one minor hiccup in the whole process, however, because Mike has had some unwanted visitor’s, in the form of a family of rabbits, in the back yard, that he thinks might decide that that his precious vegetables would make an ideal lunch. So…Mike has become an Elmer Fudd like stalker with his Red Rider BB gun. Every day he get’s his BB gun out and tip toes to the door of the back yard. He get’s his aim and inevitably the “Wascally Wabbit” will hear him and scamper away. I guess Mike and Elmer both have about the same luck with those wabbits. As long as the gun doesn’t blow up on Mike, like it does on Elmer…I guess. That doesn’t make either Mike or Elmer feel better, I’m sure. I know this much, winning against the rabbits is a tough job, and even with screens and fences, those darned rabbits will dig. I guess that the BB gun is his only hope. Today is Mikes birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Last night as my husband, Bob and I were heading out for our evening walk at about 7:15pm, we were met by a concerto of song coming from the pine tree in our next door neighbor’s yard. Of course, it was the birds settling down for the night, since it was heading into the evening hours. I was immediately reminded of the day of the total eclipse that Casper had just been in the center of. As the sky grew darker, the birds began hurrying to and fro in search of their places for the night. They began singing their evening songs, just as they were doing when we stepped out of our front door last night. Birds, of course, are programmed to begin bedtime preparations as the daylight starts to fade, unlike humans who might not go to sleep until the wee hours of the morning.
The concerto also reminded me of one of my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s favorite movies…The Sound of Music. Of course, the song they sang on that movie was The Hills Are Alive, and not The Trees Are Alive, but my imagination is allowed to make those little changes…basically taking a little poetic license, and change the wording a little bit to fit the situation. So, while I heard the melody of The Hills Are Alive, the words that sang out were The Trees Are Alive.
Since we began taking evening walks a number of years ago, we have found ourselves rather fascinated with the animal life around us. The birds flying here and there, with what appears to be no specific destination in mind; the rabbit with a broken leg that has managed to survive most of the summer, even though he can’t hop as fast as so many other rabbits; the dogs who are sure that we are their friends, even to the point of vying for our attention with the other dogs in their yard or next door; and even the deer, who stand and watch us, not moving unless we do something to appear to be coming toward them. They are all very interesting in the way they interact with people. The birds don’t seem to want to fly too far from their original spot to get away from us as we approach, almost as if they are saying, “I’m not scared of you.” The rabbits sit bravely still, hoping that we won’t notice them, sometimes allowing us to get only a foot or so away from them, providing we continue to walk along without stopping.
Animals are funny sometimes, doing things that almost seem like human activities, and even the wild animals who seem to want to interact with humans…from a safe distance, anyway. The mourning doves and other birds that like to look at us from their safe perch on the power lines or light poles above us, always strike me as funny. They know we are there, and they seem curious about us, but they don’t want to get too close, after all they aren’t stupid, just curious, as they allow us to share their space. And of course, there is nature’s version of Twitter…when a large group of birds flock to one tree, and everyone is tweeting at once…as was the case when we left for our evening walk last night.
With the decline of the oil business, comes the inevitable change of the face of oil companies. In Wyoming, that decline means layoffs and transfers to many of the people who worked for the oil companies. I really don’t know of a family that hasn’t been affected by the decline. Our family has experienced layoffs, and as in the case of my nephew, Eric Parmely, a job that is saved, by way of Texas. Eric and his wife, Ashley aren’t moving to Texas, but his job will take him to Texas for two weeks and then home for a week. I think the week at home will be really nice, but it comes at the expense of the two weeks in Texas. I know that this has been a hard change to swallow for Eric, his wife, Ashley, and their girls, Reagan and Hattie.
Eric and Ashley live in the country, where they have chickens, goats, rabbits, and next door, at her parents house, horses. They are all totally in their element there. Of course, Ashley was raised there, so being around the animals is second nature to her. The girls also take to it like little pros, and the animals love them all. Eric and Ashley’s parents, Albert and Kari Eighmy did all the remodeling of their fixer upper home. They wouldn’t let Ashley be there, because she was pregnant, but Eric’s mom, Jennifer Parmely, who loves to clean, came and cleaned up all the construction dust, and they have a beautiful home now…all the more reason not to move to Texas. Eric has become quite handy with the things he makes. If Ashley shows him something she wants, he can probably pull it off. A good example of that is the bedroom set he made for his girls. It is the perfect setup for two little girls, and I know that they will love it for a long time. Eric is getting…or maybe he always was…very handy at building things. His work is beautiful and solid. The workmanship of the things he makes is amazing. I think that if he wanted to, he could sell his work and make money at it…but that is another story.
Eric is a family man. His wife and daughters mean the world to him. Eric wants nothing more than to be at home with them, or spend time with them doing just about anything they want to do. They love being outdoors, and it doesn’t matter what season it is. Eric will make things fun for his girls. That is the sign of a good husband and dad. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
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.
As young men, my dad and his brother, my Uncle Bill loved to do all the normal guy thins that most young men want to do, and hunting was right up there near the top, along with fishing, and pretty much anything that had to do with guns or dynamite, such as blowing a tree stump out of the ground, or sinking the front gate, and then fixing it before their mom found out. They were rough and rugged boys who, like most young men of those times, were growing up too fast. Times were hard, and families needed all the help they could get from all their children. Hunting was something families could do to supply food for their tables, and rabbits were always in abundance…then and now. Of course, for my dad and uncle, the guns were a cool as the hunting. They both loved guns and knew how to use them from the time they were little. Uncle Bill was hunting this particular day with a Mossberg, and my dad was using a 1906 Winchester.
Like most boys, they had high hopes for their hunts. They were going to bag that big buck, or the most rabbits, or even bring in the most fish. I’m sure they competed against each other, but I think that quite often, they pooled their resources and tried to beat the record they set the last time they went. Of course, nothing went to waste either, because that was not how things were done. The kills they made provided food for their family during those hard times of the great depression.
Though times were tough, I don’t really think my dad or his brother noticed it much, nor did their sisters really. Sure, they knew times were tough, and that everyone had to help out, but it was simply a way of life, and nothing they thought was so special. I guess that is pretty common with most people who aspire to do great things, whether it be heroic acts, service to country, or stepping up for family. Heroes come in all kinds of forms, and I’m sure that my dad’s family thought of their kids as heroes for all the help they gave them through the years.