Time Machines

This weekend I went to a fly-in.  It’s been a while since I’ve been to one, and, though it seems simple enough, it can be hard.  Fly-ins transport me back in time, an emotional journey.

This annual event is small here in our town but draws dozens of planes of every purpose and vintage along with hungry pilots, families and people like me who enjoy the planes and a pancake breakfast.  This year was not a disappointment with a variety of old and new, large and small, useful and just-for-fun flying machines.  Just seeing these planes took me back to another life, and the lives of others, the memories of which are precious to me.

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There was a Cessna 150 (over on the far right) like I learned to fly in.  It looks like a toy now but seeing it tugged at my heart – I spent a lot of hours in a little plane just like that.  Flying was simpler then with far less technology.  My instructor, Hal Chappel, sat beside me for hours, his unlit pipe dangling from his teeth, guiding me through radio technique, emergency procedures, and now-outdated VOR navigation.  Our time over Phoenix was usually at sun rise, hours I will never forget.

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There was a handsome, yellow Harvard from Canada there, a WWII trainer.  A friend of mine had an American version of that plane, a T6, and took me for a ride once upon a time.  It has a big radial engine out front, and nothing sounds better or more powerful when you’re thundering over the desert with one of those pulling you.

There was a 1928 Travel Air there, a restored beauty.  There was an unusual little float plane that had a single float as part of the fuselage, and a sleek, black Pitts that I’ve watched playing over our valley.  A little Robinson helicopter hovered in the background off the ramp.  I hovered a little Hughes 300 once, out over the desert, and I managed not to trim off any cactus with the tail rotor 😉

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Planes came and went during my visit to the air field.  When those planes lifted off I knew exactly how it felt – the wheels leave the ground and you are part of the air, closer to the clouds, seeing the world as landscapes and horizons!  To say that flying made my spirit soar may seem banal but platitudes have truth in their origins.

Fly-ins used to be a routine part of my life, in Arizona, California and Washington.  In that life I went with friends, husband, or my dad.  How I miss the shared discoveries, the hangar flying, and the heart-stopping roar of engines.  I smile with each memory, trying to ignore the single tear.

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Silver Linings

August is my least favorite month.  Day after day in the 90s makes me crabby and lethargic, mostly ’cause it’s too hot to sleep.  And the yard is dried up and crispy, and the long-awaited spring and summer weather are sadly over, and thoughts are focused on fall.  If we could just get through August!  We were lucky this year – half of August treated us to cooler temps and some rain!  Go figure.  To be fair, there are a few advantages to the late summer misery and I try to enjoy them as best I can.  Like  –

It’s serviceberry season!  Yay.  You’ve gotta catch them just right.  I watch them on our walks around the lake.  Can’t be too green, can’t be drying up and shriveled.  I didn’t go hog wild this year but picked enough to make some tasty syrup with a one-of-a-kind taste.  Yum, worth the trouble but Coop didn’t understand the fascination at all!

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He’s a little happier going kayaking.  Only a little though.  Stumps are a threat and there’s lots of splashy things in the water he doesn’t understand.   Coop’s a trooper though and mostly glad to be out with mom, and always manages to get himself and mom soaked.  I know he laughs inside 😊

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It’s also finish-up-chores season.  This year my deck was ready for sanding and staining.  Yuck, but so nice when it’s done.

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In the mornings I’ve been sitting on my freshly stained and rearranged deck and enjoying the fruits of my labor.  And my garden.  August heat does wonders for homegrown tomatoes and there’s not much better than home grown veggies.

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The throbbing days will continue for another six weeks or so.  It won’t be long after and I’m sure I’ll be looking back and wishing for some of their warmth.   When that happens I’ll do a silver linings blog on the advantages of winter again, and please be patient with my rantings 😉

 

The Undercover Book Tour and the Traveling Gate

It was a long time in the planning.  A long time – inspired by dreams of a new truck.  What better thing with a new, reliable truck than a road trip!  (Read my blog “Tribute to a Truck” to see what I had to give up, still breaks my heart.  It went to a good home, though, so have to move on.)  Of course family came to mind.   Two trips morphed into one and plans came together, including delivery of said new truck.

It was the perfect time of year.  Wild flowers in Utah were at their spring peak.  Penstemon painted road cuts a bright orange.  Blue flax poked out of roadside greenery.  Lake Powell was a planned stop.  The temperature was perfect.  Coop played in the water.  The view of the diminishing water source was alarming.

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Crossing into the Arizona desert didn’t show off with any flowers but the colors of the mesas and rock formations made up for it.  My favorite southwest flower is the bougainvilla, and it was in profusion for all of my southwest travels.  Once I was on the coast there were flowers and blooming trees that were now unfamiliar to me, but my favorite, the jacaranda, was still showing off.  I had visits with all my family and a couple of friends.   The trip was a success in many ways!

Another part of my road trip plan was to distribute The Sparrow’s Choice, of which I have plenty of copies to share.  I visited six states and numerous locations in each of those states received at least one. 

Books were surreptitiously left or volunteered up front.   My book is now in Nehi, Utah, Prescott, Az, Phoenix, Poway, California, Rancho Santa Margarita,  Dana Point, Mission Viejo, Placer County, Monterey,  and Ft. McDermitt, Nevada.  Even if no movie producers pick up a copy of my book, I wish happy reading to all those who come across it.

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As a bonus to my trip, I was able to bring home a gate that my dad built 60+ years ago.  For years it served as the crossing point from the front of our house to the back, hanging there keeping us little kids secure through our vulnerable years.  It served as my back stop when I learned to ride a unicycle.  And dad built it…

After being stashed in my mom’s shed after the addition of a garage, the gate now has a new home.  It’s exact function hasn’t been determined but it’s glad to be stationary again.  From Phoenix on it was tucked in the back of the truck, silently enduring a 2000-mile trip tucked under camping equipment, scavenged rocks and sliding around on sea sand and miscellaneous souvenirs I tossed in the back of the truck.  It had a couple of days to stretch its boards a bit in Mission Viejo.  It handled the trip like a champ.

Gate collage.jpgIt will have a good view wherever it ends up.  It may become house decor.  I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, it’s wondering what kind of place this is – distant hills, big pines, cooler temps and new smells.  It wonders where the bougainvillea went 🙂

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It was the perfect time of year.  Wild flowers in Utah were at their spring peak.  painted road cuts a bright orange.  Blue flax hid in the roadside greenery.  Lake Powell was a planned stop.  The temperature was perfect, though the view of a diminishing water source was alarming.  Crossing into the Arizona desert didn’t show off with any flowers but the colors of the mesas and rock formations made up for it.  My favorite southwest flower is thand it was in profusion for most of my trip.  Once I was on the coast there were flowers and blooming trees that I hadn’t a clue about, but the jacaranda, one of my favorites from my days in Southern California, was still showing off.   

Undecided

They slide back and forth, not based on the calendar at all. Seasons, in Montana as probably everywhere, can’t make up their minds and keep us guessing. We try to be tolerant, knowing how this game is played, but we are OVER WINTER. We were led to believe it was gone. It’s supposed to be spring! Silly us for trusting Mother Nature.

Two weeks ago I took a break and headed to Glacier Park. It was a glorious sunny day. Roads were clear in the Park though lined with icy berms and slippery trails. Coop and I had a hard time finding a place to walk that wasn’t slick or too deep with slush. The scenery was exquisite though, per usual. Spring was definitely teasing us visitors.

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The ice on Lake McDonald was melting and leaving pretty ripples and fuzzy ridges as it shifted and shoved against the shoreline.

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Back home Flathead Lake was breaking up.  It froze over this year, the first time since 1993.

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Flocks of swans are stopping over in the open bay, heading north to nest – to Canada or Alaska? Eagles ate their lunch on the edge of the ice. The last week of March I played tennis three times!  It makes me laugh when I can snow shoe and play tennis in the same week 🙂Snow tennis

Then the rain started. My driveway is clear. The dirty snow in town is almost gone. Gravelly trenches drain away the melt off. The grass is greening up. Yellow daffodils heads hang drowsily before they will finally, in a week or so, look up and brighten the season.

Here’s my woodpile, sans snow.  Since I had to climb up on top of it and dig through snow and cut the tarp six week ago, I now have a mess 🙂

 

Spring woodpile

It warmed enough to use the BBQ. I’m kind of a fair weather BBQer and I waited until it reached 45 again before firing it up 😉  Someone gave me a butchered rabbit so on the grill it went. I made it stand up for a few minutes to get its belly well roasted. Nice way to start BBQ season.

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Then today it snowed, dropping into the low 30s – are you kidding!!!?? Our patience is wearing thin! I moved potted plants back in the garage and got my boots back out. Mother Nature is laughing, the joke is on us!

There is one predictable certainty, one of few in life, though there is no solace in this – mud season will be next!

Buried Treasure and…

The continuing challenge to keep Cooper happy!
The forecast has been bleak in Montana, cold winds, wind chills and hazardous driving warnings. Time to come up with some more firewood! I had to be serious this time. As before, the search was the hard part – where the heck is the wood pile?20190228_125829

I shoveled and shoveled. I ended up with steps in the snow, eventually coming out on top of the wood pile. Eureka! Lots of fat, dry chunks of fur waiting under a tarp to be split and roasted.

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The wheelbarrow still had it’s nose out of the snow bank, minus a bolt, but I fixed that and moved on quickly. I split wood a couple of sessions (yep, it heats twice) and ended up with fir and maple to last us through this arctic blast.
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Coop is happy.  Mom is happy.

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After a visit outside today, in a brisk 17 degrees, he actually came in and warmed his chocolate butt on the hearth, standing as close as he could to the stove.  Aahhh, life is good!

How to Keep Your Dog Warm and Happy

DON’T RUN OUT OF FIREWOOD!  He will sulk and pout!

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I feel a little like Aesop’s grasshopper but I shouldn’t, I worked hard all summer in my woods.  Never the less, I had no choice but cut some wood this week.  😉

First I had to find the wheelbarrow  – –

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That was half the battle!  I sawed up a couple of days’ worth of logs and delivered them to the front door – –

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And now all is well!  Phew!!!  Nothing better than a warm, happy dog!

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Trade Offs

Way up here in Montana we were blessed clear through Christmas with almost no winter – no snow, no ice, only a little chilly. And we were grateful. At least those of us who don’t ski 🙂  It was chilly enough to keep the wood stove going, though, and Coop enjoys every minute of that.

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Clear horizons, warm skies and sunny beaches all beckon to me over the winter, and my family and friends down in the southwest wonder why I’m up here. Here’s why:

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These trees are in my yard. I take pictures every year after ice fog has come through – I can’t help it! It looks good enough to eat!

I’ve bussed kids up to our ski resort twice since Christmas, after winter finally arrived in all it’s beauty.

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Yep, it’s a nuisance in many ways, but it’s worth it – winter wonderland every day. On my last trip to the ski resort I took my snow shoes and ventured less than 300 feet from the lodge before feeling miles from anywhere.

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Way out in the snowy woods I did hear a front-end loader plowing snow up by the resort 🙂  but still the solitude was palpable.

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A creek cleared a way for itself through heavy snow, a pond froze over, and stumps have fallen victim to snow piling up on their heads.

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This was the view from my house before the sun set tonight:

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The sun and warmth will be back soon enough. The trade offs are worth it. Perspective counts for everything – in life, health, prosperity, and weather! Happy New Year!