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. :-)


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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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