Summer Tales From Montana ~ 8-29-05

SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES

And up your nose, and down into your lungs, and follows you into the shower….It’s late summer in Montana, and this year that means smoke from wildfires. There are about 8,000 acres under burn in the local area, but it’s almost as bad smoke-wise as the summer of 2000 when hundreds of thousands of acres were burning. We have to keep the windows closed and the air cleaner running just to avoid burning eyes. Dad, you and your hose need to make a trip to Montana…we could use firefighters like you! :-)

ACTUALLY, IT’S REALLY FALL

We woke up one morning to find that it had become fall overnight, just when my basil has finally decided to grow. That’s the way the seasons go here. The nights are cold and damp now, and the deer are hungry. They’re actually coming up onto the front porch to eat my potted flowers! Our first frost is only a few weeks away. It’s been a fun summer – dunking in glacial Kootenai Creek in June, swimming in the Bitterroot River with the dogs in July, putting the down comforter back on the bed in August. The growing season has been so short this year, I’ve only actually gotten three tomatoes out of my garden. Better luck next year!

THIS OLD HOUSE

Steve and I have finally started our garage remodeling project. We spent this past weekend taking the garage doors off (easy) and ripping sheetrock off the walls and the underside of the loft (hard!). We’re taking down all the sheetrock and fiberglass insulation and replacing it with foil/foam radiant barrier insulation. Better R-value and, more importantly, prevents the 97% radiant heat loss that fiberglass does not address. Plus, it won’t kill you, which is something we look for in home building materials. :-)

Luckily, there’s a place in Missoula that will take the fiberglass and resell it. It’s this great place that takes donated home materials and resells them cheap. We bought the doors and a window for our new office for a grand total of $67. Wouldn’t Bob Villa be proud?

THIS OLD FLOWER BED

Steve and I spent May and June creating some beautful flower beds and a smaller, fenced garden in our front yard (see website for pics). It’s a good thing I took pictures last month because the deer have decided they really like what I planted and they’ve eaten it all. We tried a couple of sprays on the plants that are supposed to repel the deer, but the ones that live around her must have defective taste buds. I think next year we’ll fence the whole sheebang.

WHERE THERE’S WOOD, THERE’S FIRE – WE THINK

We finally replaced our ailing woodstove, so we don’t have to choke on smoke all winter, too, but it means it’s that time of year where our life becomes all about trees. We’ll be taking breaks in our new career as home remodelers to put up some more wood for the winter. We still have a bunch left over from last year since we had such a mild winter, but the Farmer’s Almanac and the oldtimer who lives down the road say it’s going to be a harsh winter so we’d better be prepared. Of course, the new stove has no chimney because the stove installer found that our chimney was damaged and he didn’t have all the parts to fix it. He’s so busy, he couldn’t even tell us when he’d have time to come back with the new parts. I hope it’s before Christmas, or I’ll have to wear Boots on my head as a hat. She wouldn’t like that.

 

Tales From Montana ~ 4-2-04

Yes, after an absence of almost four years, the Tales are back! I stopped writing them after Cowboy Joe died…I guess it was just too sad, or maybe my life got too boring. Now I’m feeling inspired again, but you may still get bored. :-)

ITS SPRING, AND DOGGIES WILL ROAM

We got a call yesterday from a neighbor two doors down, who also happens to be a patient of Steve’s, saying that there was a brown dog and a black dog down by the river on their property. Could it be Charlie and Jack? Yes it could. Jack has become notorious for leading Charlie on secret missions. The most astounding one occurred last year while we were on vacation. The dogs were missing us and figured we might be at our friends house, two miles away…across the highway! From various sightings we figured out that they followed Kootenai Creek under the highway to where it meets the Bitterroot River. They then followed the Bitterroot a couple of blocks and came up the bank right at our friends house. They were soaking wet and exhausted and Jack immediately flopped on the lawn and went to sleep.

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING, MY LIFE IS STILL TREES

We still have hundreds and hundreds of trees on our ten acres and they have an annoying habit of falling over or snapping off in a big wind. Five years has taught us a lot, however, and Steve has invested in a larger chainsaw. We now have cutting, stacking, and burning down to an art form. We’ve already done enough work this year to fill our woodstove for the next three years and we’ve burned all our winter fat off. We also almost lost control of a little grass fire…no big deal as it turned out, but I experienced about five minutes of true panic while beating at the flames with a shovel. Steve pointed out that the object was to smother the flames, not fan them by beating at them. Okay, I lose firefighting technique points….the forest service won’t be calling me this summer.

OUR NEW LIFE

It’s been almost a year since Steve closed his California office and stopped traveling every three weeks. We still look at each other with smiles of amazement that we get to live here full time…together. Charlie is particularly happy to have Steve home full time but still doesn’t understand why Dad can’t spend every available minute with him. He will typically get impatient while Steve is treating someone and barge into the office looking for love. He slinks back out a few seconds later after Steve boots him out, then when Steve comes out at the end of the treatment, Charlie glues himself to Steve’s side, his head in perfect petting position. If you’ve met Charlie, you know what I’m talking about!

TALES FROM THE RECENT PAST

A lot has happened in the four years since my last “Tales”, including a trip to the Australia Olympics in 2000. I never got around to writing a Tales From Oz, but a lot of interesting things happened. We got to learn how to drive a right-drive stick shift campervan, which means we had to shift with our left hand while sitting on the right side of the car and driving on the left side of the road. A dyslexia nightmare. We discovered how to drink a mocha in Oz, and it only took us a week. You see, they don’t use chocolate syrup, they use powdered, unsweetened chocolate and put the sugar on the side. Maybe it was jet lag, but it took us a while to figure out that we had to add the sugar – doh! The other thing we found out is that Paul Newman has a lot more flavors of spaghetti sauce than he lets on. We had sauces that I’ve never seen in a store in the US. What’s up with that?

In 2002, Steve officially started his practice here in Montana. Sometimes he would see 14 people in a day, give a health lecture that night, then get up the next morning, pack the truck and drive to California. That’s why in 2003 he closed the California office! Now he’s gaining quite a good reputation in the valley and we typically get people saying “Six of my friends told me I need to come see you”. Yesterday a physical therapist told him that he’s the talk of the medical community grapevine, so go figure. As usual, he’s weeding through the new patients to determine which ones will do the work and make the necessary lifestyle changes and which ones just want to get “cracked” and pay the bill. It’s always an adventure! The practice is becoming regional, as we have folks from Oregon, Washington, California, Wyoming, and Idaho coming to see him.

2003 was our year for travel and fun. Steve went on a spiritual pilgrimage to Mexico and then we took a Caribbean vacation complete with a dolphin swim. I just put our vacation pictures on my website if you want to have a look. We spent a week communing with the dolphins near Bimini and then nine days living in luxury in Jamaica. It was a great vacation, but we are happy to stay home this year. This will be the first time since we moved here that we get to spend spring together in Montana. It’s a special time of year here….

Our furry friends are still lots of fun…we gave the goats away because they wouldn’t do their job of eating knapweed. They are happily residing at a friends’ farm. We got our

Black Jack

dog Black Jack six months after Cowboy Joe died and he’s a treasure. We found a new home for our cat Chester the Molester because he wouldn’t stop trying to kill Boots. We figured we’d be a one-cat household until Little Miss Amelia showed up last summer and charmed the socks off of us. Boots wasn’t too thrilled, but she’s starting to accept it since Little Miss doesn’t spend most of her day plotting to kill. Well, she does kill mice and bring them into the house occasionally. She left one on the kitchen floor for me the other day, then brought in another big fat one for herself and started to play with it. I threw her and it outside and she proceeded to bat it around (it was already dead)

Little Miss

and finally she ate it and left the head right outside the door. About a month ago I found a mouse head in the kitchen when I accidentally stepped on it! EEEWWW!

GIDDYAP!

I’m finally doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – taking riding lessons. I don’t think I’ll be buying a horse anytime soon as they are a major time and financial committment, but I’m having fun learning how to take care of them and how to ride properly. I haven’t invested in a pair of boots yet, or those funky, form-fitting, rich-lady-with-a-riding-crop pants. It’s just jeans and Danner boots for moi. I got a gold star this week for my trot-posting abilities, which makes the over-acheiver in me happy. I’m taking lessons at a stable that teaches riding to handicapped kids to help them learn how to control their muscles (it’s called riding therapy), so the horses are gentle and the instructors are very patient. A perfect combo for a beginner nervous-nelly like me. I’m getting used to it now, though. I go in, groom my horse, clean out her hooves, put on her bridle (harder than it looks), put on the saddle and cinch her up. Horses have distinct personalities and don’t always feel in the mood to have all this stuff done to them. The horse I usually ride gives you one chance to put the bit in her mouth, so you better do it right. The other day the wind was blowing and the horse spooked and I almost fell off since the horse was being led by the instructor at the moment and I didn’t have the reins in my hand. Yikes! It’s a good thing my chiropractor lives in my house!

 

In Memory of Cowboy Joe ~ 6-14-00

Our sweet boy Cowboy Joe left us today. He and Charlie were playing rough in the backyard as usual and Charlie grabbed Joe’s collar, it got stuck in his bottom teeth and as they both twisted to get free Joe choked to death. By the time I went out to take them for their walk, realized what had happened, and got Joe’s collar off, he was already dead. We tried to revive him but he had been dead too long.

We cried a lot, and still are, and we buried him under his favorite squirrel tree. He was such a sweet love, and we miss him so much already. Charlie doesn’t even know what happened and hasn’t even started to miss him yet. We feel so lucky to have had Joe in our lives. We’ll remember his cute ears; sometimes he looked like Yoda and sometimes he looked like the Flying Nun. His beautiful brown eyes were full of love and trust and he always wanted to cuddle. We are so glad we had the chance to rescue him from dying in the desert and show him what it was liked to be truly loved. He showed us how to love, how to trust and how to live with joy. I’ll never forget what he looked like running across the property jumping like a gazelle.

Think of Joe with happiness for the joy he brought to us.

 

Tales From Montana ~ 6-4-00

THE BIRDS

Am I in a Hitchcock movie? For the last week, the robins who are usually so calm and look so cute hopping around in the yard have been trying to fly through my living room window. The first morning it happened, one little guy spent three hours flapping up to my front window and then sitting on the porch railing. He didn’t stop until I put out my fake owl (with the rotating head – it’s more lifelike). Then he moved around to the back door and I’ve had to put another owl out back. Either he’s attacking his own reflection, or he thinks this house is totally hip and he wants to hang out inside. He doesn’t know about Boots the Bat Killer, apparently.

MOOSE DROOL

It’s a brand of Montana-brewed beer, and it’s also the sad fate of my newly planted Golden Chain Tree, which was gummed by a moose early this morning. Mr. Moose showed up last night on the back five while I was walking the dogs. Luckily, Charlie was on a leash and although Cowboy Joe was free he didn’t challenge the moose too much. I looked up, and there he was, about forty feet away and walking towards me. I got a little worried because a moose will charge you if he’s in the mood, and I’m not up on moose body language so I couldn’t tell if he was in the mood. I got the dogs herded back to the house (including Tazz, who I’m dogsitting, a deaf boxer who isn’t easy to herd since he can’t hear – Jenn, he looked like he wanted to chase the moose!), grabbed my camera and got some shots of the big boy. He’s a teenager with 8-inch, fuzzy antler-ettes. He got tired of posing and hoicked himself off toward the mountains.

He came back an hour later when my friend Marlene was here for coffee, so we went outside to check him out. He trotted into the front yard right in front of the house and Marlene thinks he was going to bed down for the night, but Charlie spotted him and started barking, and he ran back across the driveway to my neighbors backyard and plopped himself down over there. When I let the dogs out this morning, Joe ran to the front of the house and immediately started barking. I went out to investigate and here’s Mr. Moose ambling up the driveway toward the house. I snapped a few more pictures of him and Joe barked some more, then Mr. Moose decided he was hungry and went over to munch on my poor little tree. He rubbed the side of his head against it, lifted a front leg and rubbed his nose in his armpit (don’t ask me why, maybe Marlin Perkins would know) and then started to chew on the trunk.

Well, nature-lover or not, I didn’t want him to destroy my tree, so I tried to shoo him off, which is not effective when he’s six feet tall at the shoulder and I’m barefoot and in my pajamas. Technology won out, however, because I jumped in the car and drove it past him and he spooked. He gave up on the tree but started to eye my newly planted garden, so I backed the car up and he took off behind the barn and into the backyard. I haven’t seen him since, but people tell me that a moose will get on a visitation schedule, especially if there are good munchies around. I fear for my tree. :-)

THE HATFIELDS AND MCCOYS

As if fighting the racetrack wasn’t enough, I’m now involved in a water rights dispute with the Wicked Witch of the West. Our wealthy rancher neighbor-lady has for years been diverting water from Kootenai Creek that’s supposed to flow to 5 properties on my side of the street. Apparently she’s old and cranky and likes to sue people. So, we’re fighting her in Water Court to get access to the water again. People apparently get into extended blood feuds over water rights in Montana. I don’t think I’ll go that far, but I am learning all kinds of things about headgates, flow rates, pipeline systems, ditchriders and other stuff I’ve never heard of. If all goes well, which it will, we’ll have a ditch or a pipeline on the front of the property that we can use to irrigate the pasture. That spells a watery end for the obnoxious knapweed, which won’t grow if it’s watered a lot (another of nature’s mysteries!). If I could just get the moose to eat the knapweed….hmm….

 

Spring in Montana ~ 4-2-00

How you know it’s spring in Montana:

1. The deer poop thaws out enough for the dogs to eat it.

2. The driveway is no longer an Olympic luge training course.

3. The spiders begin their spring rappelling training above your pillow.

4. You can wash your car without freezing the doors shut.

5. You re-discover your lawn. It’s green.

6. The cat commences midnight strafing runs under your bed.

7. The garage is no longer your temporary meat locker.

8. One day it’s 65 degrees, the next day it’s snowing.

9. You see moths the size of hummingbirds. In your bathroom.

10. White skin. All over the place.

 

Fun With Cowboy Joe ~ 2-13-00

What would Joe be called if he lived…..

In a nursery = Hothouse Joe
With a janitor = Trashcan Joe
On a fishing boat = Cap’n Joe
In a fire station = Smokin’ Joe
On the beach = Pismo Joe
With a biker dude = Sidecar Joe
At a movie theater = Front Row Joe
On a dude ranch = Rodeo Joe
With a truck driver = Blacktop Joe
At a ski resort = Ski Jump Joe
In a church = Heavenly Joe
At a utility company = High Wire Joe
In New York City = Uptown Joe
At the zoo = Monkey Joe
On an airplane = High Flyin’ Joe
On a sheep ranch = Lamb Chop Joe
In a mom and pop motel = Bedbug Joe
With a used car salesman = Fast Talkin’ Joe
At a police station = Deputy Joe
At a campground = Outhouse Joe
At a baseball stadium = Foul Ball Joe
At a coffee shop = Cuppa Joe
At a bakery = Sourdough Joe
At a noodle factory = Won-ton Joe
At an oriental utensil co. = Chopstick Joe
At a railway yard = Hobo Joe

Well, we thought it was funny….

 

The Country Life ~ 12-25-99

You know you’ve adapted to the country life when….

1. You think doggy footprints make the floor look “rustic”.

2. Watching a bonfire is more fun than watching TV.

3. You think nothing of going to the grocery store in clothes covered with pine tar, boots covered with mud, and hat hair.

4. You get excited about wood.

5. It no longer bothers you to vacuum large chunks of unknown origin off the floor.

6. 40 degrees is balmy weather.

7. Watching the dogs gnaw each other’s ears is entertaining.

8. You never wash your car. And never want to.

9. You develop a close, personal relationship with the guy who sharpens your chainsaw blades.

10. You consider a barn coat the height of fashion.

 

Tales From Montana – The Naomi Chapter ~ 11-5-99

NAOMI’S LIFE IS TREES
Since she’s 18 now (Oh God!) we safely avoided the child labor laws and put Naomi to work stacking wood her second day here. (See OWIE, MY BUTT HURTS for the first day’s activity). Naomi proved to be an old pro at the job and helped us stack around 11 cords of wood with no injuries, except the new green sweatshirt.

OWIE, MY BUTT HURTS!
Can you say 3 hour ride to Northern Montana to ride a gondola over the mountains of Glacier National Park? Can you say gondolas don’t open until Nov. 25th? Can you say we’re back in the car…again. Also take into account the 3-1/2 hour ride to and from the airport and the many, many trips to the grocery store because Laura forgot something. Can you say butt rot???

IS THIS SUGAR RAY?
In Naomi’s continuing effort to keep her old auntie hip and fresh, she was the musical adviser for the entire trip. Every time a song came on the radio, Laura would ask, “Is this Sugar Ray?”, prompting Naomi to wear her headphones most of the time. This prompts Auntie Laura to laugh every time she sees Naomi making her headphone noises, such as “Yeah!”, or “Neener, neener, neener, neener”, or “Oh!”. Watch her next time and tell me if I’m right.

MY BUTT FROZE AND FELL OFF
Budding photographer Naomi Juedes found her butt missing today after getting up at 6:30 in the morning in 25 degree weather to go to the refuge and watch her auntie taking pictures of ducks who didn’t want to be photographed. See SUN DANCE for more details. This was not the first occurrence, since during a walk to the trailhead Naomi and her auntie encountered the WALL ‘O COLD AIR. It was 70 degrees at the house, but the trailhead canyon was in shadow, and body parts began dropping off mere feet into the trail.

REGULATION BON-TYPE FIRE
In a continuing effort to singe all the hair off his body, Stevo built a giant fire with flames reaching 12 feet into the air. Luckily it had just rained the day before (what else is new?), so a forest fire was unlikely. However, a wayward traveler, mistaking the fire for a signal, bombed down the driveway to discover he was interrupting a cosy late-night weenie-roast! Naomi kept things lively with her headphone performance.

SUN DANCE
Okay, so sometimes Laura gets a little too into the photography thing, and when she sees a rainbow over the refuge (is that a song?) and is waiting for the sun to come all the way up, she tends to get happy and do a little dance. Her blood sugar was low and Naomi forgot the doughnuts, so there. AND, the sun never made it out.

OWIE, MY EAR HURTS!
Rebel Naomi just had to put one more hole in her head, so Auntie Laura got to hear “Ow, my ear!” for the first four days of the visit. Auntie Laura’s stomach hurts when she thinks about ear piercing, so Naomi didn’t get to say much more than that.

REBEL NAOMI TAKES THE WHEEL
Sans drivers license, or even a permit, Naomi drove the Stevo-mobile! Contrary to her big sister’s belief, this is the first time Auntie Laura has seen Naomi drive. And she lived to tell the tale. Actually, it was on a deserted road in the middle of the refuge. The biggest danger was running over a nasty jogger, and Nomers did a great job of avoiding her! She even waved (yes, she took one hand off the wheel, but I was supervising the whole time).

NAOMI PRIES HER WALLET OPEN
In a surprise move, Naomi bought lunch for her auntie at the Uptown Diner in Missoula recently. Aunt Laura was heard to exclaim, “I should have picked someplace more expensive!” To compensate, she had two cherry cokes and made Naomi leave the tip.

WHAT PART OF REFUGE DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND???
Okay, I may be new to the area, but I don’t understand, and Naomi quite agrees, why people are allowed to HUNT in the wildlife REFUGE! I’d hate to be a deer who makes it down the mountain, across the highway and finally, heaving a big sigh of relief, into the refuge only to come face-to-face with some Buford the Hunter who wants to blow a hole in his chest. WHAT’S UP WITH THAT??

MARTHA STEWART, EAT YOUR HEART OUT!
These past two weeks have seen a virtual cornicopia of food burst forth from Laura’s kitchen, thanks to Naomi. Our first venture was Apple Crisp. We made enough for 4 days of desserts. Next, Cheese Sauce a la Renee. Cheddar, jack/parmesean, and all parmesean. Simply encroyabe! And the cinnamon rolls, oh! With vanilla buttercream frosting, oh! And who can forget the roasted veggies??? She needs to go home so I can fit into my clothes again!

WE ARE SO OVER JULIA ROBERTS!
Okay, there’s the pouty lip thing. Does she think it’s sexy? She does it in every movie she’s ever been in! To verify, we rented Mystic Pizza, which I think is her first big movie. Sure enough, ten minutes (not even ten, Naomi sez) into the movie, she’s pouting her lips. For some reason, this has skyrocketed her to fame. Okay, let’s not even get into her huge nostrils!

DOG ENTERTAINMENT
Joe sits on Charlie’s head
Charlie sits on Joe’s head
Joe has Charlie in a Half Nelson
Dog snorting
Butt biting
Wiener-sniffing
Head-sliming
Dog alarm clock (i.e. dog noses in Naomi’s face)
Toenails (don’t ask us to explain!)
Joe is foiled again
Mr. Winky (Boots scratched Charlie’s eye and now he winks at us all the time)

NAOMISMS
For the love of Buddah
Ow! (shower)
Agghhh! (hair)
Errr! (makeup)
Check it, check it! (music)
Hooker! (you had to be there)
Holy Schmoley!
We’re back in the car!
Here, Ducky, Ducky, Ducky!
The head bob (music)

I FEEL THE NEED, THE NEED FOR SPEED
Poor Naomi. She’s only won one game of speed so far, and her time is running out. :-( We even played with the BIG CARDS, but Auntie Laura’s superior hand-eye coordination has proven to be too much for this blossoming youngster. She will win someday, oh yes…she will!

 

My Life Is Trees ~ 10-23-99

Welcome boys and girls. Today, we’re going to talk about trees….pine trees. Can you say “Ponderosa Pine”? Can you say “what a pain”? Good! Now today, we’re visiting Laura and Steve at their home in Montana. Can you say “Brrrrr”? Laura and Steve are splitting wood, a great, big, lovely pile of wood. Can you say “owie”? This is the wood that is going to keep Laura and Steve and all their little animal friends warm this winter. Can you say “forced air heating”? That’s what Laura says!

“This is Biff Biddleburg. We interrupt this program for a special report. Live from Stevensville, Montana, we have Brittany Taffy, our correspondent on the spot. Brittany Taffy, what’s the news today?”

“Well, Biff, in a bizzare incident on North Kootenai Road, a man and woman were found collapsed next to a giant pile of wood. Written on the pile, in what is believed to be beer foam, are the words “forced air heating”. Biff, neighbors believe the couple may have had a late-afternoon dispute over the issue of how to keep warm this winter, resulting in the awful carnage you see here behind me. ”

“Brittany Taffy, how many beers do you think we lost?”

“Well, Biff, it’s too soon to tell, but judging by the amount of foam, I’d have to say more than a six-pack.”

“A tragedy, to be sure. Thanks Brittany Taffy for your on-the-spot reporting. We’ll have a complete update of this breaking news story at 10pm. Please stay tuned. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.”

…and you can see, boys and girls, that by shaking the beer can, you get much more foam than if you just tip it upside down. Can you say “toga party”? Well, maybe we’ll get to that next time! Let’s get back to those trees, shall we? See all the big trees with the big roots sticking up in the air? Can you say “their life is trees”? Good! Now, see the cute little wagon with a motor boys and girls? That’s what Laura and Steve use to move all the wood they cut up into the big, lovely pile. See the chain? That’s what they use to drag the big, lovely trees around the yard so Mr. Loggerman can come pick them up in his truck. Can you say “profit motive”? See the log-splitting machine? That’s what they use to split all the wood so they can use it in their stove. Can you say “smart move”? Good!

Now next time, boys and girls, we’re going to talk about log oil. That’s what Steve and Laura spray on the house to keep it look pretty. Now won’t that be exciting! Can you say “toxic overload”? Good!

See you next time!

 

Tales From Montana ~ 9-9-99

NEW SCIENTIFIC PHENOMENON

A virtually unknown scientific phenomenon, now known as the “Steve Vortex”, has recently been discovered in Montana. This involves the study of the unique behavior of sheets and blankets when Steve is sleeping. For some mysterious reason, when I get out of bed at 5:30 am to let the dogs out and return a few moments later to snuggle back under the warm covers, I find that the sheets and blanket have been sucked under and around Steve in a virtually impenetrable, twisting vortex of cotton. I have to yank and pull and curse to get access to the blankets. Sometimes this phenomenon actually happens while I’m sleeping, and it’s only been my quick action that has saved a hand or foot from being pulled into the vortex! Life is fraught with danger, but it’s never boring.

DOG DROOL – NATURE’S SKIN CONDITIONER

In the continuing saga of Charlie and Cowboy Joe, Joe has learned to live with spiky fur. Charlie can’t help but try to fit his mouth around Joe’s whole head on a daily basis. The upside is that Joe’s fur is silky soft! Steve and I are thinking about trying Charlie’s hooch on our skin on a trial basis. This could be a niche market….we could make millions!

AND THEY CALL CHICAGO THE WINDY CITY!

We had a bonzer windstorm the other night! Our rough count is 30 trees down on our property, mostly pine trees. These are *live* trees, pulled up by the roots, leaving huge holes all over the place. One tree near the house (a dead one) snapped off and hit the propane tank! I think the tank survived, but I’m having someone come check it out anyway. We had the foresight to put all the cars away, but no trees fell on the driveway. We’re now looking at all the trees near the house and deciding which ones should go. Needless to say, our wood for the next year (and beyond) is already on the ground. Steve just has to chop it up. He’s in the kitchen eating everything in sight to bulk up for the job! :-) Now we just need to get our wind generator built.

WHERE’S THE BEEF?

In our freezer, apparently. We finally found a source for inexpensive, hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef. So naturally we ordered 120 pounds of it, and then we had to buy a freezer to put it in. So, today we took delivery of one low-energy, solar-compliant freezer and two such refrigerators (they’re small). We’re ready for our alternative energy source! And, as a bonus, the new refrigerators are that sexy European stainless steel that men love so much. Steve has been spending a lot more time in the kitchen. 😉

DOG BALLET

Well, Charlie and Joe get along so well that they are now developing their talents as dancing partners. Charlie will grab a stick and taunt Joe with it, and Joe will grab the other end and they dance around the yard together looking like a yin-yang symbol. Sometimes they are standing the same way and they gallop around the yard together, each with one end of the stick in his mouth, and they look like a couple of oxen. The other day they jumped over the creek this way. What a lovely couple! We’re planning on entering them in contests…

WANTED: SOMETHING TO HERD

In yet another tedious dog story, Cowboy Joe is part border collie and seems to need to work. He has a habit of running after Charlie and grabbing him by the ear, the jowls, or the loose fur on his neck, and herding him back to the house. It’s funny to see this 40-pound dog stretching his head up to keep a hold on this 110-pound dog and get him to go back to the house. However, it works! We figure it’s a balance – Charlie tries to eat Joe’s head, Joe gets to drag Charlie around by the neck. I think we’ll get some chickens so Joe has some variety in his job!