Winter Exercise


For a Phoenix girl it’s been a brutal winter, weeks of teens and single-digit temperatures.  Coop only gets out on the weekends so I try to give him a good run both days.  I’m getting my exercise during the week in our city fire hall.  Lucky for me they have a good variety of weights and torture devices to choose from 🙂  Our fire department is all volunteer so I usually have the place to myself.  Which is too bad, ’cause there’s some cute guys that come and go back there.  I can’t wait for nicer weather and ice-free sidewalks so I can walk outside again but this is a fine way to spend some of my lunch hour when it’s only 12 degrees out.  img_9079


Today I worked up a sweat taking more wood up to the house.  That makes three times wood heats – cutting, dragging, and burning!
I try to give Coop a variety, mostly lately it’s at the lake – can’t get much better than that,



but I took him to the dog park yesterday for a change and, though none are pictured here, he got some socializing and rough and tumble time with a few other dogs.  It was a pretty day and I watched planes doing touch and goes from the runway across the river and generally enjoyed the scenery.  img_9084

More sun tomorrow and Tuesday, then the snow is back and I see some single digits in the forecast, but we made the most of our “warm” sunshine this weekend!


Tribute to a Truck

This is a personal essay. It may not mean much to my readers, but then again it might. We all have some precious possession, whether of monetary value or purely sentimental worth, that we would grieve if we lost it. I have many such possessions but this story is about my truck, my faithful companion for 24 years. It recently gave me a good scare with the possibility of its engine being chewed up and dead. A friend said it was just scrap metal now, that I should have it towed away and buy another vehicle (like that’s easy?!). Scrap? A guy at work just lost his wedding ring, setting it down momentarily to wash his hands or ? Gone. It matched his wife’s ring, custom made, silver and turquoise. Was it just a piece of metal? Can he just buy another one? Please… As is typical of my Red Feather, it’s running fine after a little TLC and taking me where I need to go.

It has taken me across the country numerous times.  I trailered it from Arizona to Montana, and from there it took me by ferry to Skagway, Alaska, down the Alcan to Seattle, and over to East Glacier (where I worked for Amtrak and parked with cows).


It’s safely transported all of my dogs,


And shared incredible adventures!


My Toyota keeps me safe on ice, once, at its own expense.  It’s worked hard for me and been patient, sitting out in the snow while I work.


This is not scrap metal, not just an old vehicle that needs replaced.  This is my baby, one of my kids, a trusted friend.  Here’s to Red Feather and the many memories still to come!

Identical Opposite Days

Both perfect.  The middle school here had “healthy choices” day last week.  I was assigned the trip to Bigfork, where – OMG, lucky me – there was a hike along my favorite river – the Swan. fall-collage

Fall fragrance and warm sun soaked in while I walked.  Perfect.  I’ve probably posted a dozen pictures from this lovely place.  I’ve had all my dogs here and have brought home more rocks, leaves, and other miscellaneous souvenirs than from anywhere else.  Fall colors were well underway.  The river was flowing fuller and faster than I expected for this time of year – I wish I could relay the music of the water.  water-collage
There are ripple marks here –  out under the flowing water and well up on dry land – from ancient times?  Words from Norman Maclean, quoted in A River Runs Through It, come to mind every time I’m here:  “The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.”
Then I took them from this to the bowling alley – odd transition 🙂
I did discover a sweet old cemetery across the road with possibly the best view ever.


Yesterday, a chilly, damp day – equally perfect.  Well info fall, out in a wild-looking place enjoying something I never could have imagined as a child growing up in Phoenix – the bison preserve in Moise.  It’s roundup time again – it doesn’t seem like a year since I took kids on this trip and the pictures are probably familiar but I can’t help myself from sharing some again.
They called out weights as the big critters were moved from corrals to pens to chutes – most around 2000 lbs.   They are mad by the time they’ve been poked and prodded this far (used to be rounded up and brought down to the pens by cowboys on horseback but now by ATVs – who wouldn’t be mad about that?) and it’s noisy with them slamming themselves and their hooves into the strong metal barriers.
Then they’re sent down these corridors and trapped in a scary hydraulic-hose nightmare for blood and hair samples, shots, etc.  Some are released into a big fenced pasture to continue living here, some into other corrals to be shared with other preserves or ranches.

Nice they don’t use this barn for slaughtering anymore.  They serve food in here…odd…


Then quick lunch at the picnic area.  Lots of kids and buses.

I walked down to the pond but there were no swans or signets this year – still just as pretty!

Good Recycling

At first I wasn’t thrilled with the offer of a truckload of old fence rails – they have nails to watch for and are tricky to chain saw when the pieces get small – but it was a nice gesture so I accepted it gladly.
I’m maybe half done sawing up the pile, it does make fine firewood!


Then my crafty self started talking to me – old fence rails, gray and mossy!  What fun!

I’ve wanted a gate at each end of my pergola for a while – no reason, just for fun, something to maybe decorate, the same reason I put up the pergola 🙂  So I checked out Pinterest and watched around town and started in on my idea.  I cut my pieces to hopefully fit the opening, at hopefully the right height.

It came out perfectly, if I do say so myself.  I’ve got the pieces for a second one all cut up and ready to go.


There was also a long, old gate. I just couldn’t work it into my yard anywhere and didn’t need a headboard  🙂  Ah!  My friend in Missoula wanted it, so, along with some of the rails, she made a matching gate for a pair across her driveway!   Now someone’s old fence has new life in new places!  Love that!

The Road Not Taken

In need of a day off from reality, I headed up to my favorite spot west of Whitefish.  The main lake, Upper Stillwater, is MY lake, has been for 22 years!  There are three other lakes nearby, tiny ones nestled in canyon pockets, little gems to come upon after strenuous hikes.  Two of them are well marked, I’ve been to them many times with all five of my dogs.  But the third one has eluded me.  The trail has never been quite clear and I’m a city girl at heart, leery of taking faint trails into true wilderness, “the one less traveled by.”  So I studied the aerial map of the area and decided to be brave.  Once I got up there it seemed more obvious this time where the trail was.  Sadly, this is because more and more people have discovered this secluded area.  But off we went.  There was a lovely area where some group had recently laid a wonderful log path through a swampy area, where late monkey flowers, asters, and Queen Ann’s lace still bloomed.

Swamp.jpgAfter an hour and wondering where we were really going, the deep blue shine of a lake appeared.  Well worth the hike.  Coop slopped around in the water and I relaxed in the shade.
Lake shots
Then Coop said enough, let’s go!  He’s been the model dog lately, a good hiking buddy, I was ready if he was.
Little did he know kayaking was next – not his favorite thing.  Aside from having to be drug into the kayak, he rode like a pro, not barking at mergansers, herons, or threatening stumps.

I guess I’ve never been there at exactly this time of year as there was a bloom of flowers I’ve never seen before – so many it looked like snow on the water.  The weather was perfect and, despite more visitors to the area, I only saw one canoe in all our time on the water.
As a treat each time I go, I pay a visit to “my homestead.”  It’s deteriorating rapidly, a whole wall falling over since the last time I visited.  Overgrown now with trees and suffering through many brutal winters, it will be more a part of the earth soon than of man-made things and its story will be lost.


Brave Duo

We did it!  We  kayaked on the big lake, Flathead.  We didn’t stay long, it was kind of a trial run.  Coop did great!  For most of it 🙂

Big Lake

We left the dock fine.  We looked at houses.  And then he saw it –
Big lake 2
He went into warning mode, head down, growling.  As we got closer to the killer stump the big wimp backed up as far as he could in my lap, scared silly.  We spent some time with the dead thing, touching and sniffing, relaxing a bit, and then came the buoy of terror.  Quite silly, really, but we mastered one buoy and I decided we’d skip the matching one on the other side of the kayak.

He didn’t mind some waves when a big boat went by.  He enjoyed looking at more houses.
Big lake 3
And thank Goodness we made it back safe and sound.  Notch that kayak for another thrilling adventure!


Pack of Two

Now that it’s just the two of us, we are trying new things.  Today’s adventure was kayaking!

I’d taken Cooper once a long time ago, before Sara, and he didn’t like it much, rocking the boat, barking at stumps, fretting over falling out.  But I need a kayaking buddy so we gave it another try.  I thought the little lake where I live was a good starting place, small and calm.  It’s that perfect time of year, that transition between spring and summer.  Birds are active, turtles are snoozing in the sun, and everything is still lush.  Right off we saw turtles.  Coop looked here, then over there…


We saw yellow-headed blackbirds and ruddy ducks.  We startled a merganser with a bunch of fuzz-ball babies that went hysterical and I couldn’t get a picture.

Lake birds

We saw turtles and more turtles.

More turtles

Cooper was like a kid, checking everything out, head cocked, ears alert.  He definitely seemed to enjoy the ride more this time, and we’ll be brave and try the big lake next time.  Stay tuned…