04 January 2016

Family legacy challenge week 1: What is your name?

What is your full name? Explain why your parents gave you that name.

I'm starting the challenge at Family Legacy: check it out at https://familysearch.org/blog/en/52-questions-52-weeks/ . They claim that this is the easiest way to write your life story. We'll see. Feel free to try it yourself and share the results. Now, if I can only get my parents to play....

So. First name. I was named for my great-aunt Sallie Johnson Plemmons, my grandfather McKinley Johnson's older sister. She was a love. I re-met her when I moved to San Diego, where she had settled with her large and loving (and cheerfully crazy...) family. Sallie passed away at the age of 98 1/2, and by consensus the family celebrated her 100th birthday a year or so later anyway. She's a good person to be named for: a sweet, funny, tough woman who moved from Arkansas to New Mexico, survived the Depression in the desert, and made a good life in Southern California. All the Johnsons in this family are smart, share a wicked sense of humor, and look out for each other.

Middle name: My mother shared hers with me; we are both S. Yvonnes. She is Shirley Y., so our names are very close. In fact, the original plan was to call her Yvonne, and a Double wedding Ring quilt made for her as a baby has that name embroidered on it. For some reason, they later opted to go with Shirley instead. Now, where Yvonne came from, I am not sure; it's not a name with any other history in my family. More research is needed.

Last name: I'm researching the Sheltons and they are tough. Maybe that's because the men were only allowed one of five first names. At least, that's how it seems. More on that soon.

29 December 2015


It's been a while since a note from the Dakotas appeared here, a time of great loss, great gain, change as constant and constant change. 2015 is closing out on a hopeful, wistful note. Snow on the ground, snow in the air, peace on the never-peaceful landscape.

I plan to greet 2016 by getting a 1930s reminder running. This is a Singer 15-88 from a local thrift store, needing only a belt to get the treadle action going. This makes 5 vintage machines at the homestead, 4 operational and one problematic. This one is as heavy as iron but runs beautifully.

On Thursday I start the New Year's food: black-eyed peas, cornbread, greens. There are laws, after all. Then I retreat to the women's quarters to make this little machine sing again. So far, she has not told me her name. I will be listening for it.

Best and brightest 2016 to all.

28 April 2013

Curlew season

Pelican in flight, Quinn Dam

At the end of March, we were looking at the beginning of spring, buds on the trees, no need for snow boots, etc.

At the end of April, we have dug out from a cumulative 40 inches of snow. The buds are just now beginning to re-show. The migratory birds, slowed by the repeated storm, are starting to come through at last. So we headed east to Wall and Badlands to check out the spring action. Enjoy.

Pelican gliding

Meadowlark, Quinn

Meadowlark posing, Quinn

Grain elevator, Quinn

Cottonwood and snow wisps

I-90 concretia

Loggerhead shrike seeking next victim

Tree swallow pretending to be a bluebird

Prairie dogs. I have no explanation for the one at the back right. 

Spring. Finally. 

None shall pass. 

Bison bull looking good after the winter

I said, none shall pass. 

Two bison above Sage Creek


Only in South Dakota. I am kind of sorry I missed this. 

Curlew in the grass, looking for..
...the other curlew in the grass. Their calls are hauntingly beautiful. 


Resplendent curlew

The plumage patterns showed up better in black and white

Curlews in spring

Curlews in barbed-wire frame

Looking at us

Preening and resting after a long migration

Railroad trestle, Wasta

Railroad trestle, Wasta

Ghost cottonwoods, Wasta

What part of "none shall pass" do you not understand? 

House, Base Line Road

Pronghorn in sunlight

Buildings, Owanka

Buildings, Owanka

Grain elevator, Owanka

Town greeter, Owanka

Truck, Owanka

House, Base Line Road

Great blue heron


House, Wasta

30 March 2013

Spring still life with sleet storm

Cottonwood, Kiplinger Road

On a whim, we left at 5:30 a.m. to chase sage grouse on the high plains. Note: if your whims routinely drag you out at that hour on a Saturday, you either have very peculiar whims, or else have stumbled into the world of birding. Those are not necessarily contradictory. We are at the edge of Greater Sage Grouse territory and have to travel a bit to see this spring display up on the higher plains where there is...wait for it...sage.

Sage grouse are normally seem as specks in the distance, and this year was no exception. What was exceptional was the closeness of the lekking we saw last year. Rather than post a picture of an animated speck, I'll refer you to this post. We were close enough to see and here the male go through the booming and strutting motions, but not nearly as close this year.

We think it's spring, but the appearance of a storm with rain, snow and sleet mid-day has us questioning that. The birds seem to have no questions.

Paired geese

Barbed wire still life

Sign, Kiplinger Road

Post office historical marker. We found three of these today. 

First sign of the storm

A tiny monument north of Belle Fourche. It was worth going 15 miles out of the way to see. 

Just in case you had any doubts. 

Bear Butte as the clouds begin to form

Minuteman missile silo still life

Permission to trespass? 

Truck memories

Sign, Orman Dam



Bear Butte as the storm builds

Storm front on the plains

Immature bald eagle, trying hard for the white head

The point at which the trip was effectively over

Bear Butte eternal