Happy Moo Year!

Don't believe 13 is unlucky? Explain the year's gap between it and issue #12, then! (I could try to explain, but it would probably sound like whining, so I won't.)

New year, new century, new millennium, new start. Sound like a plan? Great, let's get rolling!

Some holidays you can't get a break. Even though our usual New Year's Eve celebration is so sedate as to seem nearly comatose to our more frisky friends, the first non-family person we chatted with at the beginning of 2000 was a cop.

You see, our little town of Lamar, Colorado decided to celebrate last year's dawn with what was advertised as a giant fireworks display visible from anywhere in town. Since we don't live in town, we decided to motor in from our little house on the prairie to enjoy this gala event.

After due deliberation, we chose what we thought was the ideal spot--the parking lot of the Big Timbers Historical Museum, situated on the high end of town and right off Highway 50/287, which is our main drag. We parked, walked across some dreadfully bumpy ground where digging had been going on for reasons unknown to us, stopped at the fence and slowly began to freeze as we waited.

But they did get going...eventually. Sadly, the secret launch site seemed to be on the far opposite end of town. You could hear the *sboof* noises and see a few tiny blinks of light, but that was about all. Mike, our then 7 year old, expressed some dissatisfaction with this.

So we hustled back to the car, jumped in, and headed down the highway, hoping for a closer look at the bright holiday lights. We got it. Sort of. When the sheriff patrol car turned on the bubble machine and gave us the ol' blue and red light show.

We hadn't been speeding, but we had been sitting in a darkened car outside a building full of valuable historic artifacts, so we couldn't really blame the guy for making us miss what was left of the fireworks. He was just doing his job, after all. Attempting to convey a proper civic-minded attitude to our young one, we philosophically blew it off and didn't gripe until the boy was safely tucked back in bed. (And again now, since he can't read this yet.)

Fast forward to this year. Frankly, we weren't expecting fireworks. But our city officials turned out to be determined to get it right. A Lamar Daily News story promised that this time, the display would be really high up, no fooling, so everyone would be able to see it. (They also asked people not to drive out to find the firing site. We were more than happy to comply.)

Caro, Mike and I spent a festive evening making and feasting on pot-stickers, crab & cream cheese wontons, and other assorted goodies, one of my favorite family traditions. Mike's game got called on account of crankiness, but we promised to wake him up in time to go outside for shouting, pan banging and of course, fireworks viewing.

So we rousted the boy at 11:45, and got him upright, dressed and outside 13 minutes later, where we were greeted by an eerie sight. All the bushes and weeds and trees were covered in thick hoarfrost, and although the stars directly overhead were gleaming their heads off, the rest of our surroundings were blocked off by a wall of ground fog!

As we stood there dumbfounded, we heard a solitary shout from a neighbors' house. Midnight had struck. And then came the whistle and *sboof* of...invisible fireworks. Well, I take it back--not quite invisible. The clouds of fog to the southeast were flickering with faint colors, rather like an aurora borealis crossed with heat lightning.

I moved further out into the yard and caught a glimpse of what looked almost like a bombshell bursting in thick, mist-filled air. "C'mon, maybe we can see better from the road!" I said. Caro and Mike followed, and in between bursts of disbelieving laughter, we began shouting and banging our pans with our big metal spoons.

As we watched the surreal extravaganza continue its fruitless attempt to light up the night sky, we fell silent in awe. (Also it was really cold and holding onto those metal pans turned into a bad idea almost right away.) Then we became aware of a sinister crunching sound growing stronger by the second!

There are cows in the field across from our house. But rather than run away from the shouting, banging, laughing maniacs in the road, the whole darn herd was slowly converging on us. It was either bovine curiosity, or they thought we were banging feed bins.

Or else they thought we were suspicious loiterers who needed checking up on. Once you get the rep, it's hard to shake it.

Quote of the Week:

If enough people think of a thing and work hard enough at it, I guess it's pretty nearly bound to happen, wind and weather permitting. --Laura Ingalls Wilder

Need an attribution, a nifty opening line, or just a quote fix? There are some great links to quote sources on the NNNN web page!

"Quotes!" she cried!

Here is your 'Pic(k) of the Week' URL:

Daily Rating

What you do is sign on, then sign up for questions of your choice. Like for instance, one called writingtime which I started. You fill in your preferences, and once a day, you get an email asking "How much time did you spend writing today? (Be honest, now! :) )" You send back a reply with a number and any comments you care to make on a separate line.

Anytime you want, you can go to your personal page and see a chart showing you how you are doing. You can go to read your journal entries. You can also go to read those of others, if they picked that option and you did too. (Or you can be totally private.)

What makes this motivational is that you know the email(s) will be coming, so you are more likely to do something during the day that will let you give yourself a good report that night. OK, to me that's motivating! :)

There are all kinds of questions (and a search to find them), or you can make up your own question if you can't find one to suit you!

World's Biggest What?!

Look, two in a row! Woo!

Okay, coasting on my glee at this sliver of success, we'll slide right into this week's story.

Last year for Mike's birthday we had a family expedition to the Garden City, Kansas zoo. Lamar is located almost exactly halfway between Garden City and Pueblo, which also has a nice zoo. But Garden City's has a drive through format that lets you do a lot of your moving from section to section by car, so they got my vote!

It's quite a nice zoo, with big habitats and all the modern animal housing. Quite a range of creatures, too. But they remember to take precautions for the comfort of humans as well:

Not only is it a great zoo, they maintain quite a nice historical museum on the site as well. Besides the usual farm implements of 100 years ago common to most rural area museums, they have exhibits like special short term shows (a history of ladies hats, for instance) and a spot where kids can have fun trying on all types of old clothes.

But I was disappointed to find they no longer had the world's largest hairball, immortalized by humorist Dave Barry in one of his newspaper columns, on display.

Garden City has had a meat packing plant as a base industry for decades (it's near Dodge City, which as you probably know was a major terminus for cattle drives back in the day.) You may not know that cows lick themselves like cats (and rabbits) and have a tendency to form hairballs. This huge hairball was removed from the stomach of a cow and (after it dried out) (the hairball, not the cow) placed on display for the world to marvel at. If I recall correctly, it weighed almost 50 pounds when wet!

Anyway, I asked them about it because I wanted my daughter Damaris to see it. I didn't know it way back when I was picking baby names, but Damaris is Greek for 'heifer'. Once I found it out, it became a running family joke. Damaris must also mean 'heck of a good sport', because rather than let it warp her for life, she merely started a cow collection.

Anyway, I really wanted her to see this thing, and get a pic of her and it with my brand new digital camera. And the nice people in charge got it out of its storage cabinet just for us:


Don't worry, it isn't gross at all. It doesn't smell, and what it feels like is a felt bowling ball with little bristly hair ends sticking out.

Next time you're passing through Garden City, stop in and check it out. It's a thrill you can't get any other way!

Ok, I do realize that makes two cow-themed stories in a row. And next Sunday I am heading to Denver for my yearly pilgrimage to all things ranch-y, the National Western Stock Show.

So its only fair to warn you that you might be at risk of more bovine anecdotes before January is over!

Quote of the Week:

If you have a computer and can fog a mirror, you can post anything on the Internet. -- Lars Mahinske

Need an attribution, a nifty opening line, or just a quote fix? There are some great links to quote sources on the NNNN web page!

"Quotes!" she cried!

Here is your 'Pic(k) of the Week' URL:

This is simply superb, and not to be missed. It's pretty big, 500+K, but worth the wait! It's a merged picture of the night view of the entire Earth taken from space.


I can actually pick Lamar out in this! You look at the brightest bunch towards the middle of the western half of the US--that's Denver. The next blob south is Colorado Springs. The blob after that, which sort of strings off eastward, is Pueblo and the start of Highway 50. The long skinny string going east is the smaller towns up and down the road from La Junta. Then there is a small bit of darkness, and the next round blob is Lamar! Easy when you know!