Renee Weatherbee


Favorite Author:  Timothy Egan is currently my favorite author.  After reading "The Worst Hard Times," and "The Big Burn:  Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America".  The Worst Hard Times is about the "Dirty Thirties" and all the struggles of people living through the dust bowl era.  The Big Burn centers around a huge forest fire in 1910, which burned over 3 million acres of national forest land and killed over one hundred people.  It also talks much about Teddy Roosevelt's love for the outdoors, nature and the need to preserve parts of America for all to enjoy and how he added to the national parks system and began the first US Forestry Service.  Timothy Egan is a master at taking a part of history and making it come alive with personal stories of those who were there, while making you feel like you are there right along with the characters feeling their despair during the hard times and rejoicing when it's over. 


Favorite Blogger:

Kelly Thompson's writing is witty, fun, and insightful.  She is a former radio DJ and published writer from Pierre, SD.


Favorite Books:

The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch 

Valuable insights and lessons on how to live life to the fullest even in the face of tragedy.  Written by a computer science professor who is diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.  After reading this, I recalled and wrote down my list of childhood dreams- some very unrealistic, but a few I'm living today.  I also watched his Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams video on You Tube, which made me laugh and cry.


The Worst Hard Times, by Timothy Egan and The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, by the same author.  (See Favorite Author above.) 


The Holy Bible, NSV - Making a commitment to read the Bible for fifteen minutes a day and spending time studying God's Word has helped keep me in faith, grounded and stable.  I have read it cover to cover three times and now read my favorite highlighted passages.  There are days when I don't meet this commitment and I don't get as much enjoyment out of the day.  This is probably the one single thing I've added to my life about ten years ago, that has greatly improved the quality of my life and relationships. 


Favorite Church

Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church, Ordinary VA

We walked into this church for the first time and were met by a bunch of loving people, from the pastor to many in the congregation that day, all welcomed us and each time we go back, we are met with the same people who are filled with God's Holy Spirit of love.  The service leans toward contemporary, but doesn't completely leave out the traditional.  The service closes with everyone holding hands and singing the song, "Bind Us Together."  The service and the people are very uplifting and spiritual.  We always look forward to going back.


Favorite Family Fun Activity/Attraction in Black Hills:

Pirates Cove Adventure Golf

LaCrosse Street

Rapid City, SD

This place does family fun to an extraordinary level, providing an extremely clean environment, lushly landscaped mini golf course maintained to perfection, with lots of shade trees and waterfalls to enhance the experience.  This, topped off with friendly customer service, makes playing here a pirate lover's treasure.  The admission price is a great value.  My grandson was presented a pirate hat, flag and bag of candy upon completion of the course - an unexpected surprise that added to the positive experience.  We were also presented a $1.00 off per golfer coupon for our next visit making this attraction the best value I know of for a family activity.  If I was giving this business a grade, it would be A+++.  I look forward to taking the rest of my grandkids here in the future.


Favorite Hardware Store:

Ernie’s Building Center, Ace Hardware

Main Street

Midland, SD

Newly owned by Angel and Tyler Nemec, who happen to be my daughter and son-in-law, this family owned business has been in operation for over 50 years and continues the tradition of excellent service and products, almost unheard of in small towns these days.  They service their town and surrounding farmers and ranchers and other small communities.  


Favorite Pizza:

Biig Time Pizza

Hot Springs, SD (formerly located in Keystone, SD)

Can’t say enough about this place – best pizza in the world – friendly service - see my June 2011 Rambling posting for more info. 


Favorite Poem:


By Max Ehrmann, 1927

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.


I first saw my favorite poem in the 1970’s.  At that time, it was popular poster. I think I must have had one on my wall, but I don’t remember for sure.  What I do remember is that when I graduated high school in 1976, I received a graduation card from my dad, with this poem on the front.  I treasured this card for many years, but don’t know where it ended up.  I read and reread it so many times, that I remember it falling apart at the seam.  This poem was a great influence on me as a person and I believe I tried to live my life in this way.  In fact, I am a walking poster for the fifth verse and can attest that love is "as perennial as the grass", at least romantic love.  I did strive to be happy much of my life and believe I have achieved true happiness and contentment, thanks be to God.   It took some time, but I finally did "surrender things of youth" and do some growing up and obtain a little bit of wisdom.   The whole poem is excellent advice on how to live a happy life.  The word Desiderata is Latin and means “desired things.”   What is your favorite poem and why?


Favorite Radio Station:

Power 107.3 KSLT

Love to listen to this Contempary Christian Music station.  I find it uplifting and inspiring. 


Favorite Snack: 

Strawberry Smoothie Frozen Yogurt Bar by Weight Watchers

After a doctor abruptly advised that I drop some weight after a recent injured back episode, with the enthusiasm that only a beached whale could muster, I reluctantly joined Weight Watchers Online.  The doc had no sympathy to give when I told him I’d gained eighteen pounds right after we quit smoking on January 1.  He did not utter one word of congratulations.  He did recommend that I completely stop drinking diet sodas and start making myself like coffee.  I followed his orders slightly – I went from drinking 4-6 diet sodas a day to only having one.  The bitter taste of coffee is not something I’m going to start enjoying at this latter stage of my life.  I’ve made it this far without it - I think I can pass on it for the rest of my days.

The first week, I dutifully kept track of my Weight Watchers Points Plus and lost five pounds.  I gave up chocolate for Lent, something I normally eat daily, so that probably helped also.  I began forcing myself to eat some healthier foods and rediscovered that some of them I really liked.  I also found that I was eating way more food than I normally do and eating more often throughout the day in order to get to my assigned points for the day.

My best discovery, however, was Strawberry Smoothie Frozen Yogurt Bars made by Weight Watchers.  I’ve never liked the taste and texture of regular yogurt,but decided to give these a try.   

From the first bite, I immediately felt the refreshing sensation of eating a strawberry pop cycle in the hot sun on the front stoop as a child and my insides lit up.  With each consecutive bite, I fell more in love with the sweet, creamy texture, and the cold strawberries reminded me of the ones my mom used to pile on top of short cake doused in whip cream.  I couldn’t believe that a food that only had 60 calories and 1gram of fat could taste so decadent, rich and fattening!    I doubled checked the calories and nutrition facts.  This delicious treat was also supplying me with 15% of my daily Vitamin C and 8% of my daily Calcium requirements.  For two points, I quickly indulged in another one.

Maybe this program isn’t so bad, after all.  I just discovered Weight Watchers has a Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bar for 3 points!  Move over Strawberry Smoothie!

To view a smorgasbord of tasty treats, go to


Favorite State:

South Dakota, my home state, is my favorite state.  If I want to take a vacation, I'll do it there.  There are so many things to see and do, too many to mention, but some of the major favorites of mine are Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, the Black Hills, Badlands National Park, the historical town of Deadwood, the Missouri River and all the fun summer recreation opportunities, along with the Oahe Dam.  Custer State Park has to be the most beautiful state park of all.  It's a place where you can watch buffalo roam, where you can laugh at the wild burros as they come up to your car window to beg for food, and where you can hike to the top of Harney Peak, the highest point west of the Rocky Mountains.  I've been to 35 states now and South Dakota is number one in my book for variety of scenery, friendly people, and open spaces, free for the most part of any litter.  When I tell people from Virginia that I am from South Dakota, their first response is always, "Oh, it's very cold there."  I can't deny it gets fairly cold 3-4 months out of the year, but the rest of the time you will find the temperatures range from mild to warm to hot.  It's weather is as varied as it's landscape.  To learn so much more about South Dakota, please click on the link below:


Favorite Steakhouse:

Deadwood Grille, The Lodge at Deadwood

Never in a million years did I think I'd find a steak I'd love more than a sirloin from The Cattlemen's in Pierre, SD; however, the Deadwood Grille at The Lodge at Deadwood did the impossible with its Whiskey Marinated Top Sirloin with Carmalized Onions, which tastes even better than it sounds.  This restaurant offers a variety of cuisine, but why would I try anything else when finding perfection?


All photographs and posted writings are the property of Renee Weatherbee and cannot be copied or used without permission.  If you would like to purchase the rights to use any of these photographs or writings, please feel free to contact me, by clicking on the Contact tab.