Uncategorized, writing


graded-roadSomewhere shortly after midnight, I turned 40.  Another year gone by, a new milestone reached.  I know lots of folks, women friends specifically, who have a hard time with these “big” birthdays.  They refuse to say the number.  Pretend like the birthday didn’t happen.  Self-medicate with chocolate or wine.

I’m 40.  Forty.  4-0.  Cuarenta.  Quarante.  Vierzig, if you speak German.  Oh, I like the sound of that.  That sounds wise.  From here on out, when anyone asks how old I am, I’m going to reply “veirzig.”

I don’t stress over birthdays.  My life is no better or worse today than it was when I woke yesterday.  I suppose it would be easy to get caught up in the worries that my life is not where I thought it would be when I turned 40.  Because it isn’t.  It is better.

Ten years ago, I celebrated my 30th birthday as a single woman, surrounded by friends at our local watering hole.  Today, my day was started with happy birthday wishes from my husband and daughter.  The county decided to grade our road.  I’ve gotten texts and Facebook messages from old friends, and well wishes from new friends I’ve made in the last 10 years.  I also have an evening out with my little family, birthday brownies, presents and a trip to Vegas with Outdoor Guy coming up.

Forty is awesome.  Or should I say veirzig ist genial.  Veirzig ist genial.


agriculture, photography, Uncategorized, Wyoming

Wyoming Wino


Wyoming is known for many things…wide open skies, mountains, grizzly bears, cowboys and cattle.  Wine is not one of those things.  But the folks at Table Mountain Vineyards in Huntley, Wyoming, are trying to change that.  They’re growing grapes, making wine, drinking wine and generally keeping life interesting.

TMV was the brain child of one of my best friends from college.  I’ve watched Patrick and his family turn a crazy idea into a thriving family business.  What started as a few acres of grapes is now a vineyard, winery and tasting room that hosts weddings.  They even offer paint-and-sip sessions where you can channel your inner Monet and and sample some wine.

I spent a few hours wandering the vineyards earlier this fall.  TMV has almost ten acres under grapes, which is about 10,000 vines.  These grapes are Wyoming tough – cold-hardy varieties specifically chosen to withstand our higher altitudes and colder climates. They have great names like Frontenac, Elviria and Marcheal Foch.  The grapes are picked and processed right at the vineyard, becoming wines with equally colorful names…S.O.B. (Son of a Berry), Cowgirl Blush and Wyoming Nectar.

The wines are full of “character.”  And no wonder – just look at these grapes.  They’ve got character in spades!

If you find yourself in Wyoming, pick up a bottle of a TMV wine and taste a little bit of my state with every sip!


photography, Uncategorized

Fall Mini-Sessions

Part two of raising some money for my daughter’s preschool involved shooting Fall Mini-Sessions.  With the help of another mom from the school, we created a super fun themed “pumpkin stand” for the kids and families to use during the shoot.

Ok.  That was a total lie.  Jess did all the work.  I showed up with a pumpkin and a wagon.  The rest was entirely her.  I told her she was permanently hired as my set designer!

So two re-purposed pallets and a giant bowl of candy corn later, we were ready to roll!  I spent two Sunday afternoons taking family photos for preschool and community area families.  It was hard work, but wonderful on so many levels.  I got to meet some amazing families, work on some photography and editing skills, and get to know some of the other preschool moms better.  And we raised about $600 for the school.

In all, it was a great project that probably benefited me as an aspiring photographer more so than it did Wee Pals Preschool.  But it was sort of exhausting.  Almost a month later, I uploaded the final edits for the last “client.”

Bring on the wine.  That’s fall themed, right?


hunting, Uncategorized, wildlife, writing

Hunting with Dad

first-pheasant-3Yesterday was the last day of what folks around here call the Springer General hunt.  The white dog and I celebrated by going hunting.  I almost chickened out.  The temperature was in the mid-twenties with a chilly breeze blowing from the northeast, and I am a fair-weather hunter.  I’m a fair-weather everything, come to think of it.  But I layered up, stuck my license in my pocket and we headed down the road.

This time, we found some pheasants.  The problem was, they were hunkered down in a shelter belt and weren’t relinquishing that warmth and safety for anything.  A few yards past the trees, my non-bird bird dog finally kicked up a hen.  Excited to actually see a pheasant, I rushed my shot and missed her by a mile.  Safe from my shot, she tucked her wings and disappeared into the tree belt.

A few hundred yards later, the white dog hit a scent again.  I watched, ready, as she found another hen.  This ol’ girl didn’t want to get up and fly, instead cruising just above the ground and Roxy’s head, preventing me from taking a safe shot.

As we rounded the corner for home, Roxy put a rooster in the air.  He doubled back, soaring right over my head.  This time, I took my time, kept my head down and made the shot.

It wasn’t the wind or ringing in my ears I’d heard as I dialed in on the rooster.  It was my dad’s voice.  “Want to know the three rules of hunting?”  I heard him ask in his big, booming barritone.  I repeated the punchline as walked up to the downed bird.

“Rule #1.  Keep your head down.  Rule #2.  Keep your damn head down.  Rule #3. Keep your God damn head down.”

It was  joke he’d tell over and over.  He never got tired of telling it.  Oh what I’d give to hear him tell it to me again.  It’s been almost a year since he died and I wanted so badly to hear that stupid joke one more time, my heart physically ached.  It was that thought that congealed into tears and trickled down my cheeks as I slid the rooster into my vest and loved up my dog.

Dad and I did a lot together when I was growing up.  He was always there for soccer games, school plays, speeches and horse shows.  But hunting and fishing wasn’t sometime we shared.  I don’t know that it ever really occurred to him that his tenderhearted animal lover would actually enjoy hunting.  I know it never occurred to me to ask him to take me.

By the time I started working for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, his health prevented us from sharing a day in the field.  Instead, he passed on his trusty .22 rifle and behemoth double-barreled shotgun to me.  Anytime I asked, he would regale me with stories of his days hunting pheasants at Springer, including the time he almost lost our family dog, and the time he got stuck over night in the mud and the muck.

In that moment, as I stood wiping angrily at my eyes, I knew.  I knew that if he was up there, somewhere, somehow, he was watching and he was proud.  Not proud that I’d finally got on the birds.  But proud that I was trying.  Proud that I was taking care of my family, following my passion for writing and photography, staying true to my own beliefs, and taking risks.  Proud that I could make my husband chocolate-chip cookies in the evening and chase pheasants in the morning and wrangle a 4-year old after lunch.  Proud that I was out there, living my life with the people I loved.

Roxy and I spent another half hour looking for pheasants before we called it a morning.  I headed home with a heart that felt lighter than it has in almost a year.  If anyone saw me out there, they would have just figured it was me and my dog, hunting solo in the first snow of the season.  But really, I was hunting with my dad.  I’d carried him in my heart this whole time.

I miss you big guy.




hunting, Uncategorized, wildlife, Wyoming

In Pursuit

roxy-after-huntingIt was a girls’ morning out this morning.  But there were no pedicures or lattes.  No shopping.  No gossiping with friends.  Just me and the white dog and 3,000 acres of land in which to find a pheasant.   Two hours knowing only the heft of my shotgun, the happy grin on the white dog’s face, the pull of tired muscles not used in a while.

As I walked the tree belts looking for birds, I thought of my dad.  He used to hunt this area back in his prime, sometimes coming home with birds, always coming home with stories.  The only thing I came home with was three unspent shells, one tired, tired Roxy dog and a memories of my dad.  Couldn’t ask for a better hunt.


family, photography, Uncategorized

Grace Under Pressure

Wilson Family 2.jpgI’ve known the Wilson family before they were the Wilson family.  Erin was the older sister of a friend in high school and fellow CFD Dandy and state FFA officer.  Fred was an agriculture education teacher when I interned with the Wyoming FFA in college.  And they were one of the first to say “welcome to the neighborhood” when we moved back to Eastern Wyoming.  So it was a pleasure to be asked to take their family photos.

What an evening!  Their boys had me in stitches the entire time.  Wyokiddo had to tag along, and their daughter was kind enough to play with her between photos and entertain her when I couldn’t.  It was fun to photograph their family and see the MANY different personalities come out.  What struck me most, however, was the sheer love between them.  This is a family that sticks together, backs each other up and looks out for one another.

Fred, Erin and the whole crew have seen their share of difficulties in the last few years.  Things that would rock any family to its core and send lesser folk running for the hills.  But they aren’t bitter.  They don’t whine.  They don’t complain or moan “why us?”  They rely on their faith, their family and a level of grace I can only hope to achieve someday.

I pray for this beautiful family daily.  May 2017 be their year to soar.



Working Class

In a moment of genius (or was it insanity?!?), I offered to shoot class photos for my daughter’s preschool.  I agreed to volunteer my time, with the idea that the preschool would retain the proceeds from the photo packages we sold.  It was wildly successful, earning the school not quite a thousand dollars.  Not too shabby for this mama!

It was quite a bit of work, but also a lot of fun.  The kids were so darn cute and it was a fun way to get to know all the names that Emily talks about all the time.  Not one child cried, which was an improvement over last year, apparently, where several kids and moms were in tears.  And the photos, if I do say so myself, turned out pretty darn good too.

Here’s hoping all this work means I get out of the next fundraiser.  Maybe I won’t have to hit all of you up to buy Butter Braids this year after all!


nature, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife

Beauty and the Breeze

Pheasant Out of Truck CW.jpgThe Spring Special Pheasant season is underway here at the bird farm.  The four weeks of the special hunt and general hunt are tantamount to chaos in our lives.  We’ve got folks driving up and down our roads all day, hunters wandering around our house, pheasant seeking refuge in our shrubbery.   It is also the busiest time of year for Outdoor Guy, as his days become a blur of feeding, loading and releasing birds.

Occasionally, I take a break from being the chief wrangler of Wyokiddo to ride with my husband as he releases the pheasants in the evenings.  It is all pretty routine for him.  For me, there is still something poetic and wonderful about it.  I love seeing the birds burst from their boxes on the truck and exploding into the great beyond.  Sometimes they crow or purr.  Other times, they are simply off and away, their wing beats lost to gentle murmurings of a Wyoming wind.