Fruits of My Labor

I miscalculated my firewood needs this year so, in the dead of winter, I’m out of split wood. I had some nice chunks of fir ready to split that, of course, were buried deep in snow, as was some ready-to-burn maple, so digging that out was my first chore. The upside was some good exercise and the calories I burned!


I got everything set up in the garage out of the wind and sometimes horizontally blowing snow. In this solitary chore the fruits included time to anticipate the next week, contemplate life, and think about holding in stomach muscles 😀  Lots of bending, lifting, and throwing – my nice pile warming now, warming again later!


IMG_9920Splitting up the pile of sixteen or so rounds didn’t take that long, six wheelbarrows full, leaving me with a very satisfied feeling and enough wood to keep me warm and snug through more of our doggone cold.



The best fruit of my labor is a warm, happy Cooper!


American Freedom

On Saturday I was invited to participate in an American symbol of freedom in Missoula, a women’s march. It’s emphasis was on women’s rights and included a variety of other viewpoints from thousands of participants with signs and banners that ranged from partisan to humorous, off color to profound.



I’d never attended anything like this before, being one who sits in front of the computer stewing over current events stories, rather than getting out in the world and expressing myself. There were men there, too, and children learning about democracy and the importance of being informed and motivated. It was a social event with everyone bundled up to stay warm, playing with the dogs milling around, and meeting with friends – kindred spirits sharing ideas, wishes and, hopefully, answers to their questions. It was an orderly, friendly, sanctioned event. No one interfered.


There were whites, Native Americans, blacks, and a brave transgender gal who all gave talks and inspired an eager crowd. It’s impressive to witness someone who feels strongly about their cause eloquently and intelligently express their concerns, ranging from abuse, discrimination, politics, and the current presidency.



It didn’t matter whether I agreed with everything I heard or saw. The thing that struck me most was that we had the freedom to be there, the freedom to say whatever was in our hearts, to agree or disagree, and to openly discuss ideas. All were welcomed to participate – whites, blacks, Natives, undocumented Guatemalans and anyone else who wanted to voice an opinion. Though one march may not alter the current state of affairs, or even the hundreds of marches that were held nationwide, it’s helping to keep the women of the country united, sharing a common goal. Go back fifty years and the benefits of Americans letting their voices be heard are obvious. I was proud to be part of it!

Recycling Spirit

The holiday spirit came to me by way of recycling this year! I’m going to have some trees removed from my property and had to clear some little firs to make room for skidding out the bigger ponderosas that will be coming down. Those little firs have gotten more crowded every year and I’ve thinned them before – always just before the holidays so that the nice ones can go to a loving home for the holiday! Those pink ribbons mark trees that have to go – mostly for fire/fuel reduction but also to leave the healthier ones to thrive.

IMG_9658I cut down nine little firs and the tops were all perfect trees to decorate. All of them found good homes, including the very tippy top of one I’m using for a Christmas tree on my porch. It looks better in person 🙂

IMG_9759 Lots of the wonderfully scented lower branches also found their way into centerpieces and garlands. It took several days to get all the little guys trimmed up. One of those days some turkeys came through.

IMG_9656Cooper helped, of course!

IMG_9662The lower trunks will be next year’s firewood. Win/win!

IMG_9690The last day, as I loaded my truck with trees to be delivered, a young buck stopped by to see what was going on in his woods.


In the spirit of the season, happy holidays to everyone! May you receive lots of love, plenty of gifts, and more than enough dessert!

Snoopy dessert

Montana Travel Blog – Heading Home

Once I made up the fouton with Coop’s bedding he felt right at home.  Maybe he thought we’d moved to the cabin!


Sunday morning he wouldn’t get up.  A lot happened to my little cocker in just a few days.  Lots of exploring and splashing, lots of new smells.  And he wouldn’t get up – days off are for sleeping in!


When I asked about going for a ride, he was finally ready.  We had good mountain breakfasts (oatmeal for me, kibble for him) and packed up.  Our vacation had been a success.  We had adventure, mystery, thrills and more than enough to eat 🙂  It wasn’t quite over, though, as we headed home.  Through Montana fall scenery that never quit,



we headed to Libby with a planned stop at Kootenai Falls.  IMG_9603

This late in the season I didn’t expect to see such a crowd, lots of fisherman and a kayak “convention”, but I still got some nice photos and, yep, more exercise!



This is where they filmed part of River Wild.  Will have to watch it again now that I’ve seen the falls.  There’s an impressive suspension bridge, and on such a crowded day there was a line to cross it, but Coop would have never gone for it and I was happy just to look.  I actually ran into someone I knew there – 190 miles from home!


Then home.  I must say I was happy to get here and could tell Coop was too.  And since we were technically still on vacation today we slept in late.  There is no place like home!

Montana Travel Blog – We arrived!

This is Payne Creek, which runs about 30 feet from the cabin.  Lots of drippy, rain foresty hikes to take here and Coop drank and poked around in as many pools as I’d let him.  I kept the poor guy on a leash the whole time due to recent bear activity.

Then we headed to the Bull Lake, about ten miles south of Troy.  I told friends at work I planned to see a moose on my trip, and, sure enough, saw a nice bull moose splashing along the edge of the lake.


I’d have missed see him if hadn’t been splashing.  Luckily there was a good place to pull off the highway and get a picture, a butt shot but awesome just the same 😀

I kept an eye out for him after we launched but the willows are thick there and we didn’t see him again.  Even the locals said it was a treat to see one.  As soon as we headed across the lake it started raining.  I was prepared and had a great time.  Coop got wet and I can never tell if he’s having fun or not 😉





We did a lot of driving around during our exploring, as in LOST, but the scenery was great and it was intended to be an adventure, so we considered our vacation a success!


Montana Travel blog – Getting there!

Turned out to be a pretty day for the start of our road trip, despite the bleak forecast.   IMG_9491

We did drive through areas of rain and it was snowing on the higher hills but overall a nice day to start vacation!


This pretty spot was at Trout Creek, new territory for me.


The main objective today, other than finding the cabin, was to see the cedars at Ross Creek.  Well worth the stop.IMG_9528.JPG

Though chilly, it was a lovely walk, damp and misty, which seemed appropriate.  Hard to believe there was ever a fire danger in this lush, green valley.


Things grow happy and big here!


Coop had a good time and said “thank you!”


We did, eventually, find the cabin.  Coop settled right in.  The plan for tomorrow is to kayak and see a moose!



Summer Summary

Labor Day weekend – the end of a long, hot summer. We all hate to rush it by, it will be cold soon enough, but still!!! It’s ending on a sad note in Montana with fires and smoke and continued worry of more. Losses have been great, including swaths of Glacier Park and one of her chalets. Still much to be grateful for and Coop and I had some fun and made the most of it.

Cherry picking is a summer staple!


Hanging out on docks is too!2017_05_04.jpg

As well as a rodeo and a couple of road trips!


We did some artwork, though I enjoyed it more than Coop did 🙂

Coop art.jpg


We hiked on our favorite trail, cool and wet!

North Crow.jpg


Hung out by the golf course – getting firewood!


We kayaked at sunset on the little lake!


We kayaked and picnicked in the smoke on the big lake!


Yellow Bay.jpg

We count our blessings, made the most of it, and it’s time to move on!


Sunday in Montana

Time’s a wasting, it’s already mid-June, and I needed to get outside today!  Home improvements swallowed my spring time but it’s summer and it’s time to go play.  The flooring is done and so is the unpacking and cleaning!   Coop and I headed west for a change, having been told the wildflowers in the foothills are spectacular this year, so off we went.  For some reason I had Chicago’s song “Saturday in the Park” playing in my head.  Fine road music!  Bluebirds, as well as red-winged blackbirds and meadowlarks, were in abundance but none liked to pose as much as this guy.  If it weren’t for the old trucks in the background (so Montana) this guy would be in an award-winning picture but it’s still a fun shot!

IMG_9260.JPGScenery all the way was fabulous.  The sun was about right so I enjoyed stopping and taking pics!



The river is running fast this time of year but we found a nice little backwater spot to have lunch and enjoy the view!  And the flowers were beautiful, especially the lupine.  Coop wasn’t interested in posing…




Nice hiking area.


Here’s a little game of “Where’s Cooper” for you 🙂


To top off the day I took a little nap in the truck.  Perfect!  Energized for the new week 🙂IMG_9291.JPG


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!