Thursday, February 28, 2008


During the past week, friends from Colby have emailed me two items about the icon of Colby Community College, Dr. Max Pickerill. Pick is 82 years old and this semester marks his 100th semester of teaching. Pick's been a teacher for 58 years. I fully expect the man to die either in his office, or in his beloved classroom.

Pick wasn't only a colleague of mine, he was also my teacher many years ago. I didn't need Chemistry, I already had my science credits; but I decided to take chemistry anyway, just to be able to say that I was once one of Picks students. I took General Chem.

Pick was in his early 60's then. He looked much the same as he does now, oh, maybe he was a little taller. But his hair still hasn't grayed and he was an ornery then as he is now.

I remember watching in disbelief as he lit up a cigarette using the Bunsen burner while he lectured. I remember loving his lectures. Why? Because he related Chemistry to everything!

Let's see what I remember...

I remember him explaining why heaven was hotter than hell. He stood there, and quoted scripture to us describing where heaven is. Then, using the ever-present chalk, he wrote down equations showing heaven's location in relation to the sun. Then, he reminded us that Hell was simply fire and brimstone. Brimstone is sulfur. And Sulfur burns at... (I don't remember that part). Therefore, heaven, with it's location charted out and it's local related to the sun was actually hotter than burning sulfur. Oh, yes, and...if you happen to wind up in hell, don't ask for a drink of water, you'll explode. Pick ended that lecture by telling us that he told a preacher this fact once and was...kicked out of the church. (And Pick is a PK, a preacher's kid!)

Another lecture centered around the structure of atoms, with the nucleus in the center with the electrons in orbit around it. Then Pick asked us what the solar system looked atom. He told us that scientists who didn't believe in God couldn't see the evidence in front of their faces--the same design of an atom and the solar system.

Pick also used to do a magic show. He'd do parts of it in class and bring out different elements to show us different reactions. He had a chuck of sulfur and one of phosphorus in their glass jars filled with water and kerosene. He'd tell us about their instability and then show us. He'd also share stories about previous students who "borrowed" some and dropped it in Villa High Lake, or in toilets, or in sinks... I remember him turning water into wine. I know phenothaline (probably spelled wrong) was involved and he'd chew phena-mint gum and then spit into his "water" mixture. It would turn purple and then he'd add some more water and turn it clear again. I wish I could remember exactly what he used, but I can't. But I remember loving it when he'd "experiment" like that in class.

When I was a student there, Max (Pick) was invited by NASA to come watch a shuttle liftoff. This was in 1982 or 1983, before the Challenger blew up. It was an honor for him to be invited. He went and had the time of his life.

I remember his poster. It was of a bathing beauty, but her measurements were given in metric. Pick had that poster hanging up for years--until one of our Dean's made him take it down because someone might decide to sue him and the college for sexual harassment. That would have been the least of Picks potential charges for sexual harassment. The man liked women...and he liked sex. He always said what he thought. Now, it bothered him if he upset anyone. But Pick is so straightforward and outspoken that he just said things without thinking.

Picks biggest influence on me was when he called me a dumb ass. Yes, he, my teacher, called me a dumb ass. Hey, I deserved it. We were taking a test, balancing equations. Pick was walking around between our desks looking at our work. He paused at my desk, pointed at an equation, and said "what's 5 times 2, dumb ass, fix it!"

No it didn't offend me. Because it was a dumb mistake. But, Max is Max. When he's gone, CCC will lose many many students. I can't tell you how many kids come to Colby just to take a class from Max. Max has been wooed by NASA, many big companies, and by many government departments. He was an early leader in alcohol fuel production in the 1970's. He could have left Colby several times over but always chose to stay. Why? Because he loved teaching and he loves his students. He's on campus every morning, drinking coffee, still smoking, visiting with his students before class, after class, after school at night. He gets to know those in his classes and even those who never set foot in the Chemistry lab. He's simply an icon.

Congrats Max on teaching 100 semesters. You're one of a kind and I love you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chick days

Spring is right around the corner. I know this because it's "Chick days" at Orschlens, the local farm & ranch supply store. What this means is, it's time to get baby chicks!

I stopped by last night while waiting for Kev to finish at work. They had several chicks in already and are taking orders. All the watering supplies are out, feeders are out, feed is on sale, chicks cheeping, heat lamps hanging... I wanted to just grab up 20 or so chicks and head for home. But I didn't.

Kev and I have to build a chicken house, and I'm still not sure what kind of chickens I want to get.

There's Plymouth Barred Rocks

I started out with Barred Rocks. I like Barred Rocks, they are hearty, big chickens who lay good sized eggs. And, they tolerate the heat and the cold well. But,they are a little snooty.

Then, there's Rhode Island Reds.

I got RIR's for the first time last year. I really liked them. I had 2 broody hens who actually hatched, none of them actually made it, but that was more my fault for not being ready and having a place for them. My RIR's were more...personable too. They liked me better than those snooty Barred Rocks.

Then, I've also had some Americanas.

Americanas lay those blue and green eggs. They are pretty chickens with small combs. Now, I only had one hen survive, and she was very timid. And, when I bought and paid for Americana pullets, I got 5 roosters. Roosters don't lay blue or green eggs. While they were really pretty birds, they were...Randy, and never left the hen's alone. So, I don't know if I want to try Americana's again.

Decisions, decisions.

Right now, I'm leaning toward 10 RIR's and 10 Americana's. I'm planning to order chicks (or pick some up) on Saturday. I can't wait.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

12 years ago...

Yesterday was Miss Kat's birthday. She's now 12.

Yesterday, I thougt about posting and waxing poetically about my day 12 years ago when she was born and how wonderful it was and how happy we were to have her join our small, happy family.

But that was yesterday. Today, she's annoyed me once too often to think about how happy we were when she was born. Instead, I remember that she was born mad, and is still mad, 12 years later.

And, yes, she WAS born mad. She was induced, and evidently, she absolutely did not want to be born yet. She still likes things done her way and in her own time. It's enough to drive me mad. She's the reason I have gray hair. She really is.

Today, instead of the baby who liked to laugh and giggle at her big brother and her daddy, I'm remembering the baby who refused to sleep in a crib and would only sleep when laying on my chest or her father's chest. We'd get her to sleep, put her down and she'd wake up...mad, no furious. So, we'd pick her up and hold her. Maybe some would consider that we spoiled her. We thought then, and still think, that it was self preservation. We could get sleep ourselves if we held her. If not, it was a very long night. Voice of experience there. Believe me, we both wanted to sleep in our bed and not take turns on the couch holding the little red-headed monster.

Today, 12 years after her birth, she still knows exactly what buttons to push. She knows how to drive me insane (and her father and brother too.) Kev and I often say that if Miss Kat would have been our first born, she'd have been an only child.

Don't get me wrong. I like the fact that she's got a strong personality and that she can and does stand up for herself, and she won't be led around by peer pressure...she'll be busily creating peer pressure for others not to succumb to it herself. But, I've got to admit, that living with such a strong personality is not easy.

So, for today I won't remember the sweet smile and the cuddles and snuggles that she's rapidly outgrowing. I'll remember those another day. Cause right now, the beast that lies inside that small petite body and behind those brilliant blue eyes is winning the war. Today, I completely understand why some animals eat their young.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A matter of interpretation

The kids didn't have school yesterday. So, being the good parents that we are, Kev and I left them a list of chores to have done by the time we got home. We weren't too optimistic about them actually getting done, because last Friday, they also didn't have school, and we also left a list of chores to be done when we got home. Those chores were important, because we wanted to leave town and had to make sure all animals were cared for with lots of food and water before we left. It wasn't done. Kev and I spent 45 minutes finishing chores that the kids should have done.

We weren't happy.

So, we tried again yesterday. We left a list and lectured about how they--the kids--needed to do much better than they had done on Friday. And, actually, they did really well on the chores. Andy had finished his chores. Kat still had stuff to pick up in the Living Room. She argued with us about it. Cause, when I got home I said...

"Kat, you haven't picked up the living room yet."

"Yes I did."

"Then why are those dirty dishes still on the end table and why are those shoes still on the floor and why is your stuff still on the couch, and why are your clean pants still on the stair rail? And, you didn't dust."

"You didn't say that I had to do all that stuff. You just said I had to vacuume and clean the Living Room, not pick everything up."

"Yes I did, it's in the note."

She then marches into the Kitchen and picks up the note and reads "Clean the Living room."

Her dad then asked..."so, what does CLEAN the Living Room mean?"

Kat replied, "dust and put everything away."

Kev said..."isn't that just what Mom said you didn't do?"

She marched out the room, making that humph sound that she does so well...

Monday, February 18, 2008


There are two persons in my house who are female. I am one, and we all can figure out exactly WHO the other is...

Only one of the females in my house is old enough to wear makeup. The other isn't allowed to wear it until she's in 7th grade. But, somehow, this other person has managed to wear makeup at various times during her short life. One of these times was at a middle school dance. Now, I allowed makeup to the Halloween dance, because it was...well, it was Halloween.

I'm not a big makeup person. As I've gotten older, I've gotten lazy. Where I used to go the whole nine yards with foundation, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara and maybe even lip gloss, now I simply use eyeliner and mascara. I call it laziness. I just don't want to take the time to get all dolled up just for work. And, I'm married to a man who doesn't care if I get dolled up, so I don't.

On Friday morning, I applied my normal makeup of eyeliner and mascara and went off to work. The other female person who lives here didn't have school, so I left her behind at home. Her duty for the day was basically to get ready to go to Colby for a weekend trip. We left for our trip as soon as Kev and I got home from work. I packed our bag. The kids had already packed theirs. It was a good weekend. We returned home yesterday afternoon and I unpacked my bag. It was then that I discovered the missing eyeliner.

I didn't pack my eyeliner. I knew I wasn't going to wear makeup over the weekend, so I left the eyeliner and mascara on the sink, where they live. But, on our arrival at home, my eyeliner was missing.
It was not on the sink.
It was not on the floor.
It was not in my suitcase.
It was not in the trash.
It was not in the bathroom.
It was not in the bedroom.

It was lost. could it get lost? Where could it be?

I asked the other female person...who denys ever seeing it. I asked Kev, who denied ever touching it. I didn't bother asking Andy, as he won't step foot near anything that looks like makeup.

Oh, I have my suspicions...but no proof.

I suspect that OTHER female person. I suspect that she "borrowed" it and lost it. Unfortunately, I also suspect that this other female person had earlier borrowed my brand new eyeliner pencil, as it is not in the drawer. It is so suspicious that both of my eyeliner pencils have disappeared on the same day...

But I'm not blaming anyone.

It's just suspicious.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My little boy

My little boy gave me a big hug this morning. There was one small problem.

My head rested on his shoulder. Since this is my little boy, his head should rest on my shoulder.

I mean, that's the way it's been for 16 years. Why now is his suddenly so much bigger than me? My mind and my heart can remember the feel of his little body snuggling up to me.

I can still feel his little 3 month old body snuggling on my chest as we fell asleep in the recliner most nights after the 2 a.m. feeding. I can still feel his face resting right there in the center of my chest. I can feel his heart beat. I know exactly how his little butt curved and fit perfectly into the palm of my hand. I remember how he curled up, into a little comma shaped mass right there on my chest.

I can still feel his year old body snuggling next to mine, his head bumping against my chin and his feet draped on either side of my body has he snuggled into me. I can still smell that baby shampoo in his hair mixing with scent that was his. I remember the feel of those footed pajamas, the fuzzy body, the vinyl feet, the zipper pressing into my chest. The heavy weight of my little boy as he just snuggled. It's such a vivid memory...where did that little boy go?

Now, he's six foot tall. He hugs me, and it's my head that bumps into his chin. A man has taken the place of my baby boy. I can still see my baby in this man, but never again will his head rest under my chin with his legs wrapped around my waist. Never again will he be my little boy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Marriage Meme

From mezamashii

In honor's of Valentine's Day, I present the Marriage Meme!
Anyone who reads this & is married gets TAGGED!

1. Where / how did you meet?
I was invited to play Pitch with Kev, Lynn, and his wife Cindy. Cindy worked with me and she actually was trying to invite another co-worker, but I overheard "Do you know how to play pitch?" and piped right up and said "I do."

2. How long have you known each other?
We met in September-October 1989.

3. How long after you met did you start dating?
We didn't start dating until January 1990. (O yeah, that was SO long after we met...)

4. How long did you date before you were engaged?
Six looooonnnnnngggggg years. Six difficult years in which we dated, broke up, dated, should have broken up, had a child, still should have broken up, finally figured it out, moved in together and then got married.

5. How long was your engagement?
Almost 4 months. Christmas Eve 1994-April 15, 1995 (Hey, he finally admitted that I was the love of his life, he was gettin' married before he changed his mind!)

6. How long have you been married?
12 years.

7. What is your anniversary?
April 15, 1995 Or, as we like to say "Death and taxes day."

8. How many people came to your wedding reception?
75 or so. Fewer to the wedding, cause that was just family.

9. What kind of cake did you serve?
traditional white cake.

10. Where was your wedding?
We rented the Episcopal church because it was little and we were having a family only service. (And, Kev said our house was too little, cause I really wanted to get married in our house. Ok, I'll admit, he was right.)

11. What did you serve for the meal?
Fingerfoods that my MIL and I and Cindy and maybe even my Mom made.

12. How many people were in your bridal party?
I had Cindy as my Matron of honor. Kev had his brother Dan as his best man. Andy was our ringbearer and our niece, Cortney was flower girl.

13. Are you still friends with them all?
All but Cindy. She divorced us.

14. Did your spouse cry during the ceremony?
I don't think he did, but he was super serious when I expected him to be more light-hearted. I wanted him to stop being so serious and crack a joke or smile or something to make me less nervous.

15. Most special moment of your wedding day?
When we walked from the VFW to our house after lunch and Kev told me he wished he could have afforded to give me a gift. I didn't need one, but just knowing he wanted to do something special meant a lot. And when my Dad said "Are you ready Shug?" before walking me up the ailse.

16. Any funny moments?
Yes, when we opened our gifts from Kev's mom--a sexy nightie for me and wild boxers for Kev. I got so embarassed...because they screamed "SEX" and, gosh, I was innocent. Right? Right? Andy's conception was immaculate wasn't it? And, we'd lived together for almost a year, and during that year, we were...well behaved. Right? RIGHT? And, of course, my MIL has never had for her to GIVE me a sexy nightie was embarassing!

17. Any big disasters?
No, not that I can remember.

18. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We waited until August when we went Camping with Lynn and Cindy.

19. How long were you gone?
5 days or so.

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change?
Nothing. It was so us.

21. Greatest strength as a couple?
We truely like each other and work on staying friends as well as a couple.

22. Greatest challenge as a couple?
We both tend to internalize our fears and not share them right away.

23. Who literally pays the bills?
Duh. Me. But Kev did do it for the first few years we were married. But, he reconciles the checkbook. I haven't done that in probably 15 years!

24. What is your song?
Keeper of the Stars

25. What did you dance your first dance to?
Keeper of the stars

26. Describe your wedding dress.
Off white tea length. Buttons down the front and a lace collar. Tie from the waist to the back like a bustle. I bought it 2 years before Kev proposed. I saw it and liked it and decided that IT was my wedding dress--even though I wasn't sure Kev would be the groom. I paid $75 for it.

27. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding?
Pink roses and carnations.

28. Are your wedding bands engraved?

Flo and Vera

Growing up in a dying town is interesting. You know everyone and know their ancestors and their entire life history. Heck, you are usually related to 3/4 of those people, so their ancestors are your ancestors.

Last night was Parent Teacher Conference time. We were very interested to see how the kids were doing so, being good parents, we went.

One of the first teachers we visited with was Andy's math teacher. We talked about how well he was doing, and then she said that she had family in Big E. What? Who?

It appears her maiden name was W.....r and her grandparents had lived there. What's interesting to me is that this family and my Grandma's family, the Millers, "emigrated" to Big E from Central Kansas in the teens (1910's). So, while we weren't related, we did have a common history and a strong connection. The families were very close. (In fact, Mom and I uncovered an old rumor about closeness but we don't know how to persue , or if we want to persue this rumor.)

Anyway, I remember her grandmother, Miss Vera. And Andy's teacher was pleased to know that I at least knew who she was talking about. I remember going to Miss Vera's house with Grandma once. We were probably delivering eggs. I remember that she was very short--not 5 foot tall. I remember her beautiful white hair, and the floor of her house. It had had some water damage and had swelled so that she had at least one "hill" in her house. Maybe not a hill, but a hump in the floor. A big hump that was probably a foot higher than the floor.

I thought it was cool and thought she'd done it on purpose. I remember wondering if she ran up and down that "hill", because that's what I wanted to do...but Grandma wouldn't let me. That's all I remember about her. I don't know if she went to a nursing home after that, or if she died. I had to be less than 10 years old, because I don't remember her being there after we moved to Big E ourselves. I know the house sat empty for years and was then bought by a drunk who eventually burned it down--accidently on purpose. It was a neat house tho and if it had been fixed up, could have been beautiful.

I remember Miss Vera's sister more. She and her sister had married brothers. Her sister was Aunt Flo to us. I remember Aunt Flo very well. We used to stop and visit her often when I was a little girl. My grandparents bought Aunt Flo's house after she died and that is the house they recently left. Aunt Flo was also very small. She and Miss Vera looked very much alike. Aunt Flo's house was nicer than Miss Vera's, and we visited her often. I know we did because I have vivid memories of her toybox and of Aunt Flo herself.

This was the first time I have met anyone who had family in Big E. It was so nice to visit about these ladies who have been gone for more than 30 years. It brought them back to my mind and made me remember the small living community that Big E used to be and never will again.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Kev and I drove to work seperately today. I'm able to leave early to go home and watch Andy's game. Kev has a late patient and can't get away.

So, I'm tooling down the highway, listening to the radio, thinking of how I really like riding to work with my husband, and how lonely it is riding by yourself, when my phone rings. I fished it out of my pocket and saw that it was Kev calling--maybe he misses me riding with him too, and wanted to call and just say hi! As I looked up, a bright yellow VW passed me.

I thought to myself, as I answered, "He'd better not be calling me just to Slugbug me."

I said, "Hello." And heard...

"Yellow slugbug."

The man is an idiot. And, he's just not very nice...

but I love him anyway.

Monday, February 04, 2008

the lake

We had a very relaxing weekend. And, we had company...again. But it was still relaxing. Kim, Bob and the kids came down to see us. They got in early Friday night and we had enchalidas for supper. (Made with the last 3 lbs of my hamburger. We've got to butcher soon!) Saturday morning, Kev made oatmeal pancakes with either blueberries or chocolate chips. So yummy! Then we took Bob and Kim out for a drive. We drove about 15 miles south to see the fire. A prairie fire had burned over 7000 acres last week, so we went down to see. Miles and miles of black ground. And we could tell exactly where it had started--on the edge of the highway. Grass fires burn hot and fast. Fortunately, no homes were lost.

After looking at the fire, we decided to run by the Clark County Lake. Now, I lived in Eastern Clark County as a girl--for 2 years or so. While I remembered certain landmarks, I didn't know how to get to the lake from where we were, and since roads in this part of the country do NOT run on section lines, nor do they run straight...I made Kev drive back up to Bucklin and then around and down to the lake. He didn't argue--but I expected him too. On the other hand, I think he's tooled around enough to know that he might get lost!

I hadn't been to the lake in probably 20 years. What I remember most is the drive down the hill to get to the lake. You see, it was built in the 30's by the WPA and they simply build a dam in a canyon and flooded it. (I can only imagine how deep this canyon was before they flooded the bottom of it.) You have to drive DOWN to get to the lake--the slope of the road is probably a 6% grade. We used to take school busses down to the lake occassionally and riding down a 6% grade slope in a 63 passenger school bus isn't exactly my idea of fun. If the brakes had gone out...we would have landed in the lake. Or off the side of the cliff. Neither would be "fun."

It's a beautiful lake. After looking around for a while, we decided to go home for lunch, feed and pick up the kids, and go back to the lake for the afternoon. The kids were thrilled.

Kim, Bailey, Andy, Tate and I went to the south end, to the Dam. We hiked around, then Andy and Take climbed the canyon walls to the top, we girls just walked the dam and down to the spillway. Beautiful red clay. Beautiful rock formations. We loved every minute. Kev, Bob, Kat and Dual went to the north end. (We had to take 2 vehicles...) Kat and Dual found some lures and some fishing line, so they rigged up some stick fishing poles and also did some "spearfishing" with sticks. There were some shad in the shallows, so the kids were thrilled to death to catch some fish. They saved them to show Kim and I.

Just picture two kids, 10 and 11 years old, running to your car carring a big stick with a very dead fish hanging off the line...

We also saw 2 bald eagles sitting in a tree across the lake. Wish they had been fishing, but it was cool just seeing them.

As the sun started sinking lower than the canyon wall, the temp dropped quickly, and we all drove back home. A nice 20 minute drive. It was so nice and relaxing to just hang out and do NOTHING but enjoy the outdoors and the good friends.

When we first got married, and we were thinking about relocating, Kev told me he could live anywhere as long as he was closer to a place to fish and a place to hunt. He decided on Saturday, that a 20 minute drive to a lake is great. He's already planning summer fishing trips and he's planning on quick evenings of fishing after work. We already have a place to hunt here. Now, he's got a place to fish. I think Kev's going to be happy here.

Fishin', Huntin', and me. What more could a guy want.