Posts Tagged ‘cold’

Snowstorm – Springtime in the Rockies

March 23, 2016

Wind carving

Fourteen inches of snow fell today in Cheyenne.  The wind was blowing 30 miles an hour.  The wind carves at its own desire.


February 7, 2016
Look up

Look up

It’s easy to look straight ahead, and to look down as well.  How many times do we look up?

Today Sherry and I went to Mass at St. Joseph’s church in Cheyenne.  I usually don’t take my camera to Mass, but today I wanted some pictures of the pastor, Fr. Carl Gallinger, as he greeted parishioners as they arrived to celebrate the Eucharist.

It was quite cold, and Fr. Carl was braving the wind and meeting his people.  I got the pictures I was looking for, and then I looked up and saw the bell tower and the cross on the very top of the church.

Setting aside the dramatic setting of the cross against the azure sky, this is a fitting illustration of today’s Gospel.  Luke’s last sentence tells us of Simon, James and John “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.”

Looking up at a bell tower equating to fisherman leaving their nets may seem a bit of a stretch, but here is my thinking.  The Apostles weren’t expecting Jesus, especially not the full nets they had after the Lord told them to put them in the water.  The cross against the sky was not expected either.  The Apostles dropped everything to follow Jesus.

Well, I guess there really isn’t any clear connection.

I love the cross and the sky, and I really love the last sentence of today’s Gospel.  Maybe it’s just the joy I feel when I see that cross and realize the gift that Jesus gave us.  Maybe it’s the knowledge that the Apostles were willing to give up everything to follow Jesus, and eternal life is mine if I do the same thing.

Lot’s to think about while standing in the cold taking pictures.

I’d like to introduce you to Jim

February 2, 2016


One of the nice things about this blog is I get to introduce people to friends of mine. Jim is my friend.  Correction – Jim, and his lovely wife Carol, are Sherry’s and my very, very close friends.  It’s convenient that they are our neighbors, too.

Today we had a foot of snow on the ground, and Jim was out about 8:00 running his snow blower.  He and I usually have a race in the morning to see who can get our first to clear a path around the block.  Today it was him.

Jim is a Navy veteran, having been aboard ships during the Korean war.  He and Carol have been married many years, and they have lived in their home nearly 40 years.

He had a long career with the Bureau of Land Management, followed by owning a landscaping business after he retired from the BLM.

Jim is one of my favorite people in the world. He’s a faithful Catholic, a well-read man, a polka lover and an all-around good guy.  And he’s 82 years old.

Glad you can meet Jim.

Snow day

February 1, 2016

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Today pretty much guarantees that no self-respecting groundhog is going to come out of his hidey-hole tomorrow, because he is going to have to climb up through a foot of snow.  We are in the midst of what one might call “seasonal weather” for the high plains.  That means really cold, 30 mph winds and 24 hours of snow.

Here it is the worst weather in a while, and I chose to walk to work today.  It’s not bad, really, as I only have about 5 blocks.  As I was walking, I watched cars struggling to get around, and I congratulated myself on  making the foot-travel decision because it was safer than being on the road.

The Capitol is about halfway between home and the office, and because of construction it is closed these days.  Despite that, it is a grand building and the tallest thing around these parts.  It’s pretty easy to pick out, too, as there aren’t any other gold-domed buildings nearby.

There’s nothing on fire here, just steam coming out the exhaust tubes from the underground heating plant that heats the capitol and the Herschler building, an office building that sits next to the Capitol.  On cold days like today, the steam rises out of the ground as though the earth has opened up to let the smoke from hades itself come to the surface.  Then the Capitol dome, gold against the gray sky, rises out of the ashes and smoke like the Phoenix, in defense of democracy and freedom.

The snow will stop at some point, and somewhere down the road it will warm up again.  Tomorrow the groundhog sleeps in, while I fire up the snow blower and clear the block.

I love living here.


January 13, 2016
Cosmic accident?

Cosmic accident?

I was in the middle of a discussion last night with some of the most literate, well-educated men I have ever met.  We were discussing a book titled The Privileged Planet, a fascinating tale of how an incredible number of things had to come together to provide for all the things required to support carbon based life, aka human beings.

The point of the book, and the man leading this discussion, was that this didn’t all just happen by accident.  Our world, our universe, isn’t simply a random happening. Rather, beginning with the Big Bang and carrying on for the next 13 billion years, the universe continues to expand, and the improbable story of human existence came into being and flourished.

For some reason that I cannot figure out, brilliant men are unable to even acknowledge the possibility that God could have a hand in this, much less that he exists at all.  One of the group called it a “myth,” and then proceeded to tell us that there was just no way that with all that space out there, there simply must be other planets that support carbon life forms similar to humans.

Yet there is no evidence for it.  None.  We can say we just haven’t found it yet, which would be accurate, but it’s also accurate that there is not even a hint at it.  So these bright guys are willing to place their faith in something that has no evidence at all, based upon their conclusion that, due to the sheer size of the universe, there simply must be other planets with life as we know it.

Think about this for a few minutes – there is lot’s of evidence of the existence of God, and there a billions of people who believe in His existence.  There is no evidence whatsoever of life forms on other planets, even after many years and billions of dollars spent looking for it. Given an opportunity to believe in an evidence-based God and no-evidence of extra terrestrial life, they choose the aliens.

Every time I look in the sky and see the wonder and the beauty of creation, I am dumbfounded how others can look at the same sky and fail to see the hand of God in it.  I understand that orange clouds at sunset are functions of light shining through prisms and reflecting off water vapor in clouds, but when we look at them and see beauty, the fact that we see beauty is, in my mind, greater evidence of the existence of God than the orange clouds themselves.

I’m grateful to God for all that he gives me, which is everything I have.  This sunset, between Douglas and Casper, Wyoming, was an awesome gift.

This world an its inhabitants are no accident.

Cold up there

January 7, 2016
Winter up High

Winter up High

This is Vedauwoo.

For those of us blessed enough to live here, we know how to pronounce that weird looking word, and it’s not what you might think.

Even though it looks like Vee-daw-woo, if you say that around here people will just smile and nod, which is our way of saying “you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

So here is the secret – it’s Vee-duh-voo.  Not so difficult, but no way to figure that out by looking at it.

Vedauwoo is an amazingly beautiful place.  The rocks look like giant blocks stacked up on each other.  The wind howls all winter with a ferocity and constancy that keeps the trees free of branches on the windward side.  The snow piles up to 6 feet deep in drifts, while a few yards away the sparse grass is visible where the wind has swept it clean.

Winter comes early up here, and it hangs around a long time.  When spring finally makes a little headway in May or June, it is the home to vast, fearsome and bloodthirsty swarms of mosquitoes.

There is plenty of wildlife here as well.  Moose, elk, mule deer, antelope, mountain lions, eagles, hawks and lots more make their homes right where you are looking.

If you like to cross country ski, there are groomed trails on the mountain in the distance.  Plenty of mountain bike trails on that mountain for the warmer days, too.

Vedauwoo is spectacular, and less than 30 minutes from Cheyenne.

As you can see, winter is in full force here, the wind singing it’s constant song that drowns out all other sounds, and the snow keeps piling up.

This is one of my favorite places.  Come and see it sometime.1Z1A0540 1Z1A0530 1Z1A0529 1Z1A0535


December 28, 2015
Mordor West

Mordor West

I always imagined that Mordor would look something like this.

The great war engines of Sauron would be belching forth fire and smoke, creating all manner of ill-will to be foisted upon men, elves, dwarves and hobbits, all with the intent of finding the One ring and taking it for himself.

The raw material of war would come from deep underground, the dwelling place of things that are best left un-named.  They would be pumped to the surface, forged in fires of unimaginable fury, then unleashed against the world in his quest for domination.

To discover that Mordor was just south of the Cheyenne city limits was quite a surprise.

Actually, this isn’t Mordor.  I know, for some of you that may be a disappointment.  But this is a place where things come from deep underground and are converted into fuel by chemical process and heat.  Just like Mordor.  We don’t get war engines from it, though, just gasoline.  This is Frontier refinery in Cheyenne.

Sherry and I first came to Cheyenne for a job interview for me on May 1, 1984.  I remember the date because it was our 2nd wedding anniversary.  As we entered Cheyenne via I-80 from the east, the very first landmark we spotted was the refinery.  It was belching smoke like this picture, and, on May 1st, it was snowing.

Now we both grew up in Wisconsin, home to much snow.  And we had lived for a few years in Livingston, Montana.  Also home to much snow.  Snow on May 1st was not new. But there was something foreboding and, frankly, depressing, about pulling into what might become our new home on a spring day that featured freezing temperatures, snow, wind and an oil refinery  that would serve as the defining image of Cheyenne.

I got the job and we moved here.  It turned out that Cheyenne really isn’t cold all the time, or snowy.  (The wind does always blow, however.) Frontier refinery does not dominate the landscape, either.  Rather, it sits on the edge of town providing jobs for hundreds of people and making fuel to power our vehicles.

Actually, Cheyenne is a pretty nice place and doesn’t look like Mordor at all.

I hate to break this to you, but Mordor does not really exist outside the confines of JRR Tolkien’s mind.  This shot of the refinery looks a lot more sinister than it really is, because it is actually pretty mundane.

A guy can still pretend, however.

Snow Day

December 15, 2015

20151215-HP9A0026The National Weather Service has been warning us that this was coming.  With a track record like theirs, however, to actually have a pile of snow land in Cheyenne was not considered a sure thing.  But today they were right.

We don’t really get a lot of snow here.  Occasionally we will get dumped on, but it melts or blows away, and much of winter is just cold, brown and miserable.  Every once in a while, though, it turns lovely.

Not everyone feels this way about snow. It seems the older we get (We = me and Sherry) that the more grousing we hear about winter weather.  Sherry and I love the snow, and we have talked many times about retiring to a place that had a real winter.  Like the ones we had in Wisconsin.

Growing up in South Milwaukee, we learned about snow.  It typically showed up in November, then hung around until March.  Rather than go through the snow- melt – snow process that we have in Cheyenne, it missed the melt step in the cycle.

All winter log, the combination of Dad blowing all the snow to the little grassy spot between the sidewalk and the street and the city snow plows pushing it in the same place, we often had mounds of the stuff that would reach 6 feet high, making it an adventure pulling out of the driveway. We never knew if we were going to get whacked as we hit the street, because we couldn’t see what was coming from either side.

All winter long, we would play in the snow. Sledding down Miller Hill, Lady Finger, and an assortment of places too scary to be named.  It was always a challenge to hit the snow fence that kept us from the traffic with our sleds, seeing if we had enough residual energy to break the wooden slats in the fence with the metal fronts of our sleds.  Hours were spent going down those hills at breakneck speed, then trudging back up to do it all over again.

Miller Hill had three runs that melded into one about halfway down. Games of chicken were common, with three sled drivers all starting at the same time – one from each side and one from the middle – seeing who could get the the common crossing first and how close we could come to a fiery wreck before going down the big part of the run.

The middle run was the steepest, and it started at the railroad track at the top.  To do this properly, you had to lay down on the sled, face first, then hook your feet over the tracks while hanging onto the sled, dangling at 45 degrees down hill.  The combination of lifting your feet off the track plus gravity equaled a hundred mile-per-hour run into the face of death itself, ending at the aforementioned snow fence.  Cracking a slat was a coveted result.

Well, maybe there’s a little exaggeration in those tales.  But not much, at least to a 10 year-old boy.  Spending 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon with my friends, in 15 degree weather, flying down an icy hill propelled only by momentum were some of the best times of my childhood.

And we never wore helmets.

My love of snow today is a result of all that.  Now it’s snow shoeing, cross country skiing, or watching it come down from the comfort of my living room.  But I still relive those memories every time the white stuff blankets the ground, and I relish every minute of it.

Thank you God for the gift of snow!  And thanks to the National Weather Service for getting this one right!

Cold. Really cold.

November 20, 2015

The temperature dropped tonight, and even though I was expecting it, it still came as a shock.  I call it really cold, but it was only about 15 degrees.  That’s cold for November, not so much for December or January. Even the Capitol looks like it needs a blanket.untitled shoot-1296

Between the cold and the dark, it can get a little depressing. Fortunately, I’ve got my family around me to add a whole lot of joy to what could be a bleak environment. We are having our Thanksgiving tomorrow, as our children are having Thanksgiving on Thursday with their husband’s families.  So we have lots of life in our home – 4 children 4 and under, 6 adults an Kira the Wonder Dog, all under one roof.

Chaos never felt so warm and full of light!

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