Okie Cowboy Family really did become my real family. I met Okie Cowboy at Waunita Hot Springs Ranch quite some time ago. He had come back to help out for a couple weeks one summer while I was working there in college. Turns out he had met his wife there a few years before this. I didn't really get to know Okie Cowboy Mom until I packed all my stuff and moved to Oklahoma for grad school at Oklahoma State. We all instantly liked each other and were immediately friends, plus you gotta form alliances around this guy!



I spent a fair amount of time out at their house dinners, horses, ranch rodeos, concerts, Sonic pitstops etc....we kept pretty busy, but sometimes it was just hanging out...in the country, relaxing. Okie Cowboy even had Bandit, who is Tylie's baby daddy. Once Okie Cowboy met Tylie, the first thing he asked me was if she had been spayed. I told him "No, not yet, but I am planning on it soon" He talked me into having pups and he picked out the first one, which they still have today, Ringo. Okie Cowboy likes to give me a hard time that Ringo is "just like his mother", but even though he is a little quirky, a little spoiled and only has 3 legs.....they just don't know what they would do without him!

Okie Cowboy and Okie Cowboy Mom have since added two little cowgirls to their posse. They are some of the cutest little girls ever and I'm sure that they will be amazing little trick ropers, just like their daddy.





Okie Cowboy Family takes you in as one of their own. I can't believe how little I get to see them these days. I miss them alot! Not to mention, everyone needs a friend who vacuums hide-a-beds, with a vacuum, ignoring the fact that vacuums come equipped with hoses....yep that really happens when you have an Okie Cowboy Friend.

Oh and he is a movie star too.

Dear Donor Family,
My name is {Gatekeeper} and I received your loved one’s heart. The most important thing I want to tell you is that I am so grateful to you! There are no other words to express my gratitude other than Thank You!  I have thought about what to say over and over, and I want to say the right things but I’m not sure what those words are. In your time of grief you made a decision that saved my life. I would not be alive if it were not for you. I know very little about your loved one, but I would love to know much more! What I do know is that he must have been an incredible person. The fact that you have allowed him to live on inside of me is a testament to how much he was loved by you. 

There are so many thing I would like to tell all of you, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. I do want you to know that I was sick for a very long time, and I do not take for granted a healthy heart! When I was 14 I was diagnosed with a rare cancer so I began chemotherapy treatments. I did that for two years. At the age of 16 I had my first heart failure which is attributed to the chemotherapy. Over the next 16 years I got married, had a son and was in and out of heart failure many times. Unfortunately our marriage didn't continue, but my son’s father is a good man. I had two open -heart surgeries to replace my tricuspid valve and received a pacemaker in 2007. I was in heart failure again late 2009. After having kidney failure and not seeing improvement in my heart, I was sent for transplant evaluation. During this time I was engaged to a wonderful man and, although I was very sick, we were planning our wedding for May 15, 2010. My doctors admitted me to the hospital on April 29, 2010 so we cancelled our wedding. They told me that I would have to stay in the hospital until I received a new heart. Of course that day would be May 28, 2010. In the midst of your grief you gave me new life and all of our lives changed. Matt and I were able to marry on October 16, 2010 because of the gift you have given me! My son Zach walked me down the aisle. I have included pictures of our wedding day so that you can see what you have given us. Your decision has blessed not only me but everyone in my life. The words “thank you” just aren't enough. 

I have no idea what you all have been through or how you feel now. My hope is that sharing how you have changed my life and my family’s life in the most incredible way will be a good thing for your family. You all are on our minds every day. We look at our lives and know that it would cease to exist without you. We are connected in such a wonderfully amazing yet terribly sad and complicated way. I would like to know more about all of you. I think about your loved one and wonder what he was like and who he was. I know that he is loved and please know that we love him, too! I hope to meet you and hope that you want that as well. 

In closing, I would like to share one more thing with you. My second valve replacement was a mechanical valve. I could hear it ticking. At night I think of you and your loved one and my heart is quiet. Than you for my quiet, strong heart!!
Sincerely and with respect,
{Gatekeeper}
11/13/11

This is a letter from the strong, humble, caring, full of life woman who received Grimes' heart.

And a few more thoughts from the Gatekeeper

I have been given two rare gifts: a life-saving heart transplant and a relationship with the family of the person who saved my life. It is so rare to even receive a letter from your donor family much less to meet them. It’s unheard of and such an honor. To be able to thank the people who saved your life is more than any recipient could dream of. I now know so much about Dave, his accomplishments, his favorite things, funny stories and so much more. His parents, Ben and Shirley, have been generous in sharing so much with us. Knowing, not only do I have a good heart beating inside of me, but I have a healthy heart that was taken care of by a very strong man means so much. It has truly changed the way I view my abilities. I know I can push myself harder because I know how active Dave was. This knowledge has changed my life!
Now that we are coming upon the 3rd anniversary of his passing, my feelings are much more complicated this year. It is always a time of mixed emotions, but now I have a name and a face to put to the heart beating inside me. Thinking back to living in the hospital waiting for my heart back then and now knowing that he wasn't doing well and would soon pass away is quite emotional. It's so difficult to say "Thank You" and "I'm Sorry" in the same breath. Since meeting Dave’s family almost exactly 1 year ago I've said those words a lot. I'm SO thankful to know them, but I feel sadness in a different way than I have experienced in the past years. My heart goes out to everyone that misses and loves Dave, and I know there are many of you. Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude, and it is only matched by the depth of my sorrow. Please know that every day we think of Dave and his family. We are so thankful he made the decision to become a donor, and even more so, we have the utmost respect for his family who in the time of their sorrow made the difficult decision that ultimately saved my life.

 She is able to carry on his legacy while she paves the way for her own.

Thank you everyone who provided memories and thoughts to the posts this week honoring a legacy that continues to grow through continued life.
So as I started out writing posts about Grimes, I was having trouble getting the words quite right. I took some time to shift through old scrapbooks and yearbooks. And everyone knows you can't pull that stuff out and spend just a few minutes. I read some notes on the cover of my yearbook with this one especially sticking out from the Assistant Pack Leader.


And I asked some others for a few words about Coach Grimes......some footprints left by Coach Grimes:

  • his loping run - he made it look easy. he took such damn long strides that it was hell for short people to keep up.
  • his irritation and aggravation at the members of our team who didn't "get it" and weren't out for track to win. Those that were there for social reasons. (You know the ones on your team I'm talking about!)
  • him nearly killing Shane Stone for hitting me on the inside of the knee with a baseball pitch when they were practicing inside. I had gone to get ice out of the concessions stand before practice and was walking back across the gym. Total accident on Shane's part, but that doesn't mean Grimes didn't flip!
  • speaking of shin splits...I remember telling Grimes how bad they were my sophomore year and him looking at me like "...and?".
  • Grimes leaning across the railing on the final turn at state track.
  • Grimes after a state track race. If he's proud, he couldn't say much. If he wasn't proud, you knew it.
  • Grimes protecting me from Lindsey after practicing hand-offs for the 4X800. Pretty sure he thought there'd be blood on his track. I didn't get the handoff right (duh), Lindsey yelled at me (duh), I threw the baton at her (unwise). Grimes appeared out of nowhere and announced that we probably were done for the day...
  • Most of all, I remember thinking that he had our back...thinking that for those of us who left all we had on the track/street/golfcourse on a daily basis, he'd fight any battle for us. He was like a proud peacock with his chicks. I remember knowing that regardless of talent, no one we competed against was in better shape or better prepared. They might beat us (occasionally), but they never worked harder than we did.
I know that most people referred to him as ‘Grimes’, but he was Dave to me. Sometimes, he was ‘Z’, but only if I really wanted to get his attention. I am not able to find the words to explain his quiet charisma, his strength, and his fearlessness. There was nothing he was afraid of. Nothing. He appeared to be tough as leather, but he relished the idea that his personality was a bit intimidating, especially to the kids. Especially to middle school kids! Those that really knew him understood how soft and tender he really was.
Dave was a giver. He gave to everyone that he came into contact with….his wisdom, his experience, his training philosophies, and his time. I appreciated that I was his priority when we were together, because even though we spent hours on the phone every day, we didn’t see each other until the weekends. Dave completely underestimated the impact that he had on people. I’m not sure that I’ve ever known anyone who brought as much goodness as Z did to the lives of others. One of the many gifts that he gave to me was teaching me to face my fear and be willing to take a risk by asking this one simple question: “Worst case scenario…what could possibly happen?” His words and encouragement forced me to pursue a new job, which in turn has led to my dream job. Whenever I’m faced with a difficult decision that involves some sort of risk, I can hear his voice in my head asking, “What are you afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen?”
I’ve never experienced a loss similar to losing Dave. One day he was here, living large, and then next he was gone. I’ve learned that some things in this life you don’t ever get over, you simply get through. I knew that he was an organ donor because strangely enough, we had a conversation about our wills and wishes, should something ever happen to either of us. His parents were told that he saved the lives of over 100 by supporting his desire to donate his organs. Organ donation is selfless, because it provides life for another without any sort of recognition. I know Dave wanted to continue to give and his wishes have been fulfilled. Recently, I met the woman who received his heart and I listened to his heart beating strongly in her chest. It was surreal. It might sound strange to say that for the first time in three years, I feel as though he is here, because he is. Still giving.


You remember those special people who have left this world, some way to soon, some having lived a full and wonderful life. Are you like me where your memories fade, you can't quite remember the specifics of the relationship? The one thing you will always remember is that they changed your life, maybe not in big ways, but lots of small ways that made you who you are today.

Footprints were left on my heart by Coach Grimes (his footprints look more like track spikes) and I knew it while he was here and I REALLY knew it after he was gone. Today is the anniversary of this great man's passing and I couldn't be more honored to be "one of Grimes' track girls"


Grimes believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. He chewed my ass when I needed it, he encouraged me when I needed to know that someone believed in me, he joked with me when I was so nervous I couldn't speak for fear of throwing up somewhere on that infield and he was ALWAYS, ALWAYS on the far corner to help me through the final turn of a 4 or 8 hundred. When you needed him, he could always be found on the final corner. Even today, when I step foot on a track, I look to the corner and I see him there....leaning on the fence.

Grimes gave me my only State Championship of my high school career, yes I was part of the team on the track, but he took me and turned me into a true runner. Granted I was never the fastest, I was never the smartest (he said I'd make him sick because I'd shoot out in an 800 way too fast, passing everyone I could in the first turn), but he demanded that I gave my all each and every time I stepped onto the track. He expected hard work, he expected me to give my best, and he made me want to do my best even in my least favorite sport and in a race that I fought him on for nearly 3 years....and for that he gave me my only high school state championship and a teammate forever.

I thought I'd just have one post about Coach Grimes this week, but as I prepared to write and searched for words that would really do him justice...miracles were happening in his parents, Stacey and Gatekeeper's lives. They all met and were able to listen to Coach Grimes heart. Stay tuned this week for more footprints left by the man.

What better trip to revisit to than Washington D.C. to celebrate Memorial Day. Washington D.C. is rich with history and memorials remembering the fallen ones of our country.
Past, present and future military......
THANK YOU!



Happy Memorial Day! Did you thank a veteran today?

Welcome to Soul Food Friday! I will host a link up the 4th Friday of the month. Link up to share with your fellow bloggers anything that motivates you, speaks to you or generally gets you excited about life.....share it at Soul Food Friday! (get your badge at the bottom of my page :))



I'm going to steal the thunder from the blog music for one day (sorry Music Man!) Make sure you shut off the player and listen to this awesome video......



My Soul Food: at the end of a dirt road




1. rain
2. dirt roads (picture via Prickly Pair Photography, check them out....amazing!)
3. mountains
4. Colorado sunsets
5. starry nights

Give me any or all of these things and I'm one happy girl, even if it can't last forever.
Well its the week of season finales for all my favorite tv shows, so its seems fitting that it would be the series finale of It's OK Thursday! I'm pretty new to blogging so I only got to tell you a few things that are OK, but I'll send Its OK Thursday out with a bang

Its Ok Thursdays



Its OK.........

  • that I'm going to miss tv, but am excited about turning it off for the summer at the same time
  • that sometimes I just want to waste a few hours in my recliner
  • to skip out of work a little bit early to hit the lake for some water therapy after work
  • my concert is finally here! Red Dirt at Red Rocks here we come! Randy Rogers Band, Casey Donahew Band, Stoney LaRue and Wade Bowen.....doesn't get any better
  • that Little Sister, Little Sister's Boyfriend and I have to rent a U-haul to get our stuff home from Mike's house
  • that I want it to rain.....like Seattle rain.....for day
  • that I want more at my job, I want to move up the ladder, without moving
  • that I've lived in my house for 3 years and all the work still isn't done
  • that I blew my May monthly budget out of the water (hey I got some cool stuff though!) 
  • that I put a tacky homemade sign in my front yard saying "PLEASE Stay off my lawn" for the old man who feels the need to walk across it to get the mail everyday
Don't forget to come back to Almost Gypsy Soul and link up for Soul Food Friday tomorrow!!!! Its tons of fun!

It's OK Finale

by on 5:00 AM
Well its the week of season finales for all my favorite tv shows, so its seems fitting that it would be the series finale of It's OK Thu...
When I moved there it was so hot I was fairly certain it wasn't God's Country, but everywhere I went I heard "Welcome to God's Country" by the time I graduated and it was time to leave, I was sad to leave God's Country.



Even when we start to question how and why horrible things such as the huge tornado that hit Moore Oklahoma this week, God is there and there is not a doubt in my mind that God is in Oklahoma, the day the tornado hit, the weeks of recovery and reconstruction and until the end of time.


As I watch the news and look at pictures from Oklahoma, I can't help but think back to 1990 when I had just recently finished 1st grade. It was June 6, 1990, my parents had dropped us off at Lynn and Lisa's so they could go celebrate Dad's birthday. When we came out from the crawlspace, scenes that I see on the tv were before my very eyes. Luckily, in the Limon tornado, fairly new warning sirens were credited with saving many lives, giving people time to take cover. Just as my hometown recovered and moved forward, Oklahoma will pull together and come through this, but not without many tears and prayers.


When I lived in Tennessee, there was a series of deadly tornadoes that passed through the state. I instantly volunteered to help with clean-up. I learned more about the good of people that is still out there in the world that day than I had in a long time.  When we arrived there were 7 zones set up and each volunteer was assigned to a zone. With all the people there was tons of progress made in just one day. The family whose house I helped at was so thankful, the dad had tears in his eyes, partly from exhaustion, partly from the sheer amount of gratitude he felt towards the volunteers, partly from the amount of love and caring he felt coming towards him. The couch on the third picture is where he weathered the storm, with his kids underneath him. He was one of the lucky ones.


 If you can, donate money, food, clothes, toys, time, a place to lay their head,  blood, anything you can give to the victims but most of all donate your prayers to Oklahoma. May Oklahoma and our whole Nation have strength, mercy, comfort and peace during this difficult and scary time.



Amen.
If you aren't new to this blog you will remember my trip out to San Francisco and to Alcatraz, if you are new...click here to read more about my trip to Alcatraz or here to read more about all my travelin' adventures.

My trip had a little surprise waiting for us at the gift shop at the end of our tour.....Diedre Marie Capone, a great niece of Al Capone was there, personally signing her book titled Uncle Al Capone. This almost gypsy soul came home with a new book, signed by a Capone and at just the right time as I had finished 1.5 of my 2 book flight allotment that I had checked out from the library before I left Wyoming.



Uncle Al Capone was a very interesting book, it provides the reader with an insiders view of what Al Capone might have really been like....from a home and family perspective. The book doesn't go into great detail of what he was like had you had a "business" relationship with him, but there are plenty of other books that do.

One interesting thing that was discussed in the book was how Al had changed after serving time in Alcatraz. After going through the  audio tour of the prison and hearing the accounts of actual prisoners, one can't help but wonder how the monotony of life as a prisoner in Alcatraz would affect a person and their ability to return to the "real world".

I think I might get interested in learning more about the Mob....there was even reference to a big name from back in the day from Rock Springs, America....one that is still present today and as legend is told was quite active in the Mob.

I liked this book alot and as someone who is always looking for the good in people, even people who have been dubbed "Public Enemy #1", this book hit the nail on the head. The book review deems this one a must read.
NASCOE is our employees association. At each area or national meeting a scholarship auction is held to keep funding in the various scholarship funds that are available to NASCOE member's children. Each state in attendance is asked to donate items to the scholarship auction.

I volunteered to do our scholarship item when we went to San Fransisco for the All-West Area Rally. After cruising Pinterest to decide what could fit in a suitcase (mine to get out there and someone else's on the way back), I settled on this cute horseshoe windchime.

My horseshoe windchime even has authentic Wyoming horse poo in it :) I don't do things halfway ya know..... And another little side note....that JB Weld was one bad A!!!!!

Here is my finished chime......now to get to work on one for my little homestead.

[Linking up with Heather over at Undercover Blonde]



A biography, by W.C. Jameson, provides a well researched account of Butch Cassidy's life as an American Outlaw. I chose this book because Butch Cassidy spent some time in Rock Springs and even got his name while he was here. His real name is Robert LeRoy Parker. I think Butch Cassidy is better suited for the outlaw life. Even though he was an outlaw, he showed much compassion for others and wasn't violent by nature.



Follow Cassidy through an account of his life as Robert Parker, his life as outlaw Butch Cassidy and a variety of other alias and his controversial death. Did he really die in South America? Did he escape back to the United States.....read on to find out more information and then you can make up your own mind.
Boar's Tusk is a natural wonder that took millions of years to form. You can find it north of Rock Springs on the east side of 191. It is an important landmark of southwest Wyoming, rising out of the desert some 400 feet. The first time that I went to Boar's Tusk it was snowing so much and so foggy that we missed it the first time we went by.


This is a fun picture that Music Man took through my sunglasses. It was so foggy that we couldn't see Boar's Tusk that well, but through my sunglasses it was much clearer!



I've seen several of my friends post pictures from their adventures of painting at various bachelorette parties and bridal showers. I was amazed that I don't have one single friend who isn't an accomplished artist!

When Colorado Transplant Friend told me about the Arts Council's plan to bring Painting with a Twist to Green River I said to count me in! They chose Starry Tree for our masterpiece. When i showed up I was very disappointed to see a blank canvas staring back at me......and I mean blank! What the crap?! Where is my paint by number.....mine will never look like the "example"



Here you can see the progression of my masterpiece....I think the most important thing is to finish the step and then put down the paint brush....anything I tried to "fix" yeah, that wasn't a good idea!



On the left is the "professional painting" on the right is "the most professional painting" (that is mine in case you are confused).




"I can rise and shine, but not at the same time" ~ Maxine


but hopefully this little care package will give my adopted soldiers a shot at rising and shining at the same time! 



 The rise and shine package included some yummy Dunkin' Donuts coffee for those days where there is time for real coffee, some on the go Folgers singles for those days where there isn't time for a cup of Joe, lots of breakfast snacks like poptarts, oatmeal and donut sticks. All these treats will be after Morning Burst face wash, given the teeth a good brushing and a shave. Any no care package would be  complete without some homemade cookies....oatmeal of course because after all it is a "breakfast" theme.

And to top off my week, I got a little shoutout on the Facebook from my second adopted soldier.

Thanks jennifer dutton for the care package. It always feels good to know people still care. God bless and thanks again.

Even when I was the young age of 16 and getting my first drivers license I made the choice to be an organ donor, after all, if the question of if I am an organ donor was needed to be asked......its pretty obvious that I didn't need them anymore. It wasn't a choice that I gave alot of thought to, it just made sense to me.

On Sunday, it hit me what my choice really means. It means that I will live on through someone else.  It means that my family can be proud of the difference that I could make in a stranger's life even through tragedy in our own. It means that someone else gets to spend more days, weeks, months, years with their loved ones. It means that a stranger might welcome my family into theirs and my family might welcome a stranger into our family.

This weekend, Coach Grimes parents and Stacey got to meet the lady who was the recipient of his heart when he passed. They got to listen to his heart and heard the words "I am not the owner of his heart, I am merely the gatekeeper of his heart" from a grateful and humbled woman. I do believe that 2 families were united as one this weekend.



Photos via Facebook

When each of his track girls graduated, one could be sure that they would receive a framed piece of black fabric that said "Teammates Forever." Grimes. I think he knew that "Teammates Forever" meant more than just on that iconic black oval out behind the school in little ole' Limon, Colorado. And even after he is gone, he is still welcoming new members to the TEAM.

Click here to find out more about becoming an organ and tissue donor.
[Linking up with Heather over at the Undercover Blonde]


Oh I love me a good murder mystery! I haven't been the the library in quite some time....yeah I still have a library card and I pickup real books, I don't have one of those e-reader things. Anyway, I always cruise the "new releases" section and I pick books like I pick wine. A catchy title and cover and .......bam, you got me! Since I was getting ready to fly to CA, I stopped to get some books before I left. This one I finished on the first day.....before I made it to my final destination. Its an easy read and highly recommended if you are into murder mystery books.




Let's just say the ending isn't what you expect....or at least I sure didn't.  Trying not to do a spoiler, I'll give you a few details.

The Ninth Step by Grant Jerkins is a story of one woman's quest to right her wrongs after admitting she is an alcoholic and joining a 12 Step Program. As she works her way through the steps, she finds herself beside the least likely person to fill the role of "love of my life". As she tries to live a normal life, demons of her past keep showing up, threatening to ruin the happiness she has finally been able to find.

Pick up a copy today and let me know what you think.....tomorrow.
This is Tylie, she had her first hair appointment in her 8 years last week a few weeks ago. As you can see she is super excited about this.....well ok maybe excited isn't the correct word to use here. I tried to explain to her that she should be excited.....it wasn't just  a hair appointment it was more like going to the doggie spa!

"Mom, please, please don't make me go!"

I signed her up for a shampoo and brush out, nails, ears and teeth! She is going to be so shiny! and she'll smell like a flower.

Tylie wagged her butt (she doesn't have a tail really) so hard she almost fell off her paws when she was picked up from the "spa". She smelled so good, wasn't molting all over my house and now had a good excuse to roll in the dirt while I was at work (yes, that really happened grrrr!)

And to stamp in concrete the fact that doggie spa is worth every penny of $35, Little Sister's Boyfriend noticed as soon as she ran through the door that Willis had gotten a hair cut!
Two enthusiastic thumbs up! This recipe from the Budget Savvy Diva is awesome! and easy! Comfort in a Dish is how she describes it and I couldn't agree more!



Ingredients
  • 14 oz of Orecchiette Pasta (I don't know what that is so I just used penne)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup of Chopped Onion
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic ( Minced)
  • 1 Cup of Sour Cream
  • 4 oz of Cream Cheese ( Room Temperature)
  • ¾ Cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice + Zest
  • 10 Oz of Spinach ( Make sure to squeeze excess moisture, after it has been thawed of course)
  • 13.5 Can of Artichoke Hearts rinsed and chopped
  • 1 Cup of Mozzarella
  • ½ Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat Oven To 425
  2. Cook pasta according to the box. Keep ¼ Cup of the Pasta Water before you drain the cooked pasta.
  3. Heat oil in pan and cook onions for 8 – 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute.
  4. In a large bowl – Mix Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, Parmesan, Lemon (juice and zest), onions, and garlic. Add Pasta and mix.
  5. Stir in spinach, artichokes, ¼ cup of cooking liquid from the pasta, salt, pepper, and ½ Cup of Mozzarella
  6. Place mixture into greased 2.5 – 3 qt casserole dish and place the rest of mozzarella cheese on top
  7. Place in the oven till golden brown on top – about 10 – 15 minutes.
  8. Enjoy!
I'm O- and they always hit the vein on the first try! For these 2 reasons I feel like I'm supposed to give blood, regularly semi-regularly. Hey, lets be realistic, I don't get it done all the time, but they are pretty good about calling me and asking me to come in when I'm eligible again and there is a blood drive in my town coming up.  Click here for more information on giving blood. I donate with United Blood Services in Wyoming.



I'll be honest, I've started trying to give double reds because I'm not eligible to donate as often and I'm more likely to get an appointment made if I don't have to go so often. :) Plus, they love it when you agree to give double reds! Did you know that double red donations are usually given to surgery or trauma patients? To find out more about donating a Power Red, click here. Plus you can say Power Red, that's cool right?

A little personal note on giving double reds because it is different than giving whole blood. I'll admit after the first time of giving double reds, I swore I'd never do it again. I felt dizzy, nausaus, freezing cold, my body hurt and it lasted for a while. Next time I went back, they asked me to do double reds again and I told them what had happened last time. They told me they had a few tricks and asked if I would try again. They said if I started feeling like that at anytime during the donation to let them know and I wouldn't have to finish. So if you are giving the Power Red donation keep these things in mind (I always get the full treatment so I don't pass out on them, they laugh at me when I tell them that, but that is ok)
  • eat Gardettos and drink a bottle of water BEFORE you donate
  • tip that donation chair back! (its way more comfortable that way anyway)
  • drink another bottle of water DURING your donation
  • alternate squeezing the hand squeezy thing with contracting your leg and derriere muscles while they are taking out whole blood
  • during the return ask for a blanket and if you get a weird taste or tingling in your mouth, ask for some tums......works like a dream I might add
  • AFTER your donation, take a few extra minutes in the chair
  • drink some more water and have another snack before you leave
These are tried and true tips from me, the girl who thought she was going to pass out the first time down Power Red lane. Give 'em a try and then you are done for 16 weeks!

So lets get on to meeting some heros:

Meet Tim:
Tim is one busy guy, but he always finds time to donate platelets. “It gives me the opportunity to do something anonymously and it gives people in the hospital a fighting chance,” he says. “As I walk down the street, through the airport, in the park or at work, I wonder if someone there has received my platelets.” Tim says he’s an ordinary person helping others in a quiet way. In the eyes of patients, there’s one word for Tim: Hero.
Meet Nicole:
It’s no doubt that Nicole is a hero. She has been in the US Army for more than 6 years. She is also a hero on another front; she’s a blood donor. “I donate blood not only for my fellow service members, but for the lives of the American people we fight to protect,” she says. Nicole also donates for a personal reason. Her mother has thalassemia and has needed blood transfusions. “I want to be able to give back to those who  gave to her"

Meet Pat:
Pat has been donating blood since he was in the military over thirty years ago. He has always donated to save the lives of others, but one day the life he helped save was his own. During a routine platelet donation he found that his platelet count was low and his donation was halted. A trip to his doctor confirmed his cholesterol and triglyceride levels were abnormal. “That aborted platelet donation was a wake up call,” Pat says. Today, Pat keeps his cholesterol under control with medication and he is able to donate platelets again. “I feel great helping people,” he says. It’s a bonus when you can also help yourself!

Are you a blood donor? How often do you give?

Be an ordinary person that gives a stranger an extraordinary chance at life.
Welcome back to the Sweetwater Series, click here to check out the other sights around my new home. Sweetwater County is approximately 10, 425 square miles and is 73% public land. The high mountain desert landscape lends itself well to both natural resource production and rangeland agriculture production.

Agriculture is a big part of the economy. As of the 2007 Agricultural Census, Sweetwater County Agriculture produced $14,506,000 worth of agricultural products with $10,163,000 coming from livestock and livestock products. Last week I visited sheep camp with one of the larger ranchers in southwest Wyoming.

The sheep are currently on the trail to shearing, lambing and then summer grazing lands. They travel walk somewhere between 6 and 10 miles per day, depending on how close the next available water is and how much feed is available. It is normal for range sheep operations to feed corn and/or pellets for a few weeks before lambing and bucking to get give the ewes a little extra boost before the stressful time of the year; however, this year many herds got additional corn because the lack of feed has been very hard on them. The continuing, severe drought continues to take its toll on both the livestock and those that their care is charged to.

Most of the range sheep operations split their herds into bands of approximately 1500 to 2000 head of sheep per band, with each band there is a variety of both herd dogs and guard dogs, a team of draft horses, saddle horses, 2 herders, a sheep camp wagon and a feed wagon. The size of the bands will sometimes depend on weather conditions. For example during the drought, many bands were made smaller because its easier to haul water to smaller bands than the larger ones.

As we came into camp we were greeted by the
 

who also happens to be the watchman. Its interesting that the guard dogs, bonded to the sheep and trained to protect them against intruders and predators, don't really bother people who come into the camp. They come over and make sure you know who is boss around camp, but then go about their business. A variety of dogs are used as guard dogs in this area, but this particular rancher uses Great Pyrenees.

Here is a typical sheep camp, equipped with solar panels, a stove, bed, "kitchen" and a bathtub. I was really interested to know how often herders bathe. Its good to know that they can bathe everyday if they want to. They have a little tub (think Laura Ingalls) and they can melt snow or use water that is brought by the rancher every few days, heated on the stove or campfire. 


A team is utilized to pull both the sheep camp and the feed wagon to the next spot on the trail. Sometimes, like we did today, the rancher will pull the sheep camp, by pickup, to the next spot while the herder follows with the feed wagon and the sheep. Below, one of the team and the sheep are getting a healthy breakfast of corn before they make the 8ish mile trek to the next water, the Green River.




Herders are usually H2A workers from South America or Nepal. Nearly all of my ranchers are at the very least bilingual. I have one who can fluently speak 7 languages. I'm signed up for a Spanish tutor at sheep camp! 

The herders, the sheep, the dogs, and the horses are out on the range 365 days a year, rain or shine. I find this type of operation to be the last of the true American West and I find to be extremely fascinating. I hope that through this series a few more people (myself included) can begin to follow what exactly these ranchers (and herders) do for us to enjoy the food choices that we have in this country.


I've thought about doing a "Ask a herder" series.....is there anything you want to know about the range sheep operations?


BIL and Assistant Pack Leader have a pack of dogs (doo-gis is the correct pronunciation if you are in anyway related to us girls). Their immediate pack consists of 2 doogis', a sneaky mini aussie mix, Gus and an independent, chunky weenie, Critter. Occasionally, there are 2 additions to the pack....a little black n' tan weenie, Tobie (Little Sister's doog) and a blue heeler, Tylie (my doog). Now, since all of these doogs have multiple names, I'll try to keep it simple in blog land and refer to them by their given name only.



Summer Camp is BIL's parents house where BIL keeps his horses and goes out each day to ride, rope and do various other boy things (that's what the Assistant Pack Leader calls when BIL babysits). BIL's parents have the Guard Dog, Grace, The Beagle, Wyatt and the Chihuahua. Enter the pack!

There is a certain pecking order that has been established at Summer Camp and Assistant Pack Leader's house. Critter is quite intelligent (and naughty) but he and Assistant Pack Leader can often be found in conversation with each other.....we won't go into details about who wins these. I'm sure you are wondering why we skipped right to Assistant, BIL has always filled the spot of pack leader and NO ONE challenges his position.
On day, Assistant Pack Leader was politely telling Critter that he in fact is not the pack leader and he needed "fall into line". At that time BIL walks into the room and in his best Critter voice, "Assistant Pack Leader is a bullsh*t title" and so just to show Critter who is boss, we have a self-proclaimed
Assistant Pack Leader


I'm supposed to be on a diet because I'm chunky. I'm an awful dieter and the worse I lose, the harder it is to stick with it, so I try to find ways I can still have a "guilty pleasure" here and there and still not completely fall off the bandwagon (unlike the half box of girl scout cookies I just ate, dang those cute kids asking me to please buy some cookies!) I snagged these little dandies off of Sally's Baking Addiction via Pinterest.

I thought I would give these brownies (my guiltiest pleasure) a whirl and see if they stand a chance at replacing brownies filled with oil, flour and sugar.

Skinny Blender Brownies
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 oz. low fat vanilla greek yogurt (I used honey because I like it plain too, so the rest of the container won't be thrown out)
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 large egg (or 2 egg whites WHAT?! You need to use the whole egg! That is where all the nutrients are!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar (I used Splenda)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 8×8 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except for the peanut butter into a blender or food processor. (Yes, a blender!) (Awesome I might add!) For easier blending, place the liquid ingredients into the blender first. Blend until mix is smooth and oats are ground up. You will have to stop the blender and scrape down the sides a few times.
  3. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Batter will be thin. Microwave peanut butter for about 30 seconds. Drop melted peanut butter by spoonfuls onto the batter, swirling gently with a knife to create a marbled effect. (Try not to overmix!)
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Brownies will be extra fudgy, so be sure to wait until COMPLETELY cooled - I stuck mine in the refrigerator for 2 hours, which allowed them to be cut very easily. Cut into 12 squares and enjoy! (Yeah, 12 squares out of a 8x8 doesn't really quench the brownie thirst....I cut mine into 9 and entered the recipe into the ole' My Fitness Pal......only 210 calories per serving, not too bad, plus these babies have some energy ingredients in them)


Now for the taste test.........I deem them HEALTHY-ish! and not-that-YUMMY! They are ok in a pinch, but I think for calorie to enjoyability ratio I'd just bite the bullet and eat a real brownie!

Spring has finally arrived, Yippee!! The boat has been on the water and summer is just around the corner. And you know what summer means??? Warm weather, BBQ’s, maybe some adult beverages next to some water, and for the lucky ones, some boating fun! So, with that said, let’s build a pre-summer/drinkin’ songs playlist shall we… get your motor runnin’!!

Kid Rock, All Summer Long
Kenny Chesney, Summertime
Blake Shelton, Some Beach
The Great Divide, Pour Me a Vacation
Eric Church, Drink in My Hand
Kevin Fowler, Lord Loves the Drinkin’ Man 

Try to contain yourself, it is only May, there is still a chance of snow.