Wednesday, December 1, 2010


So, I'm still working 2 jobs.  Still trying to get stuff done on the new house.  Still trying to be creative on some level in the few hours I have that are "free."

New things:
  • Some kind of terrible imbalance where I'm hungary and irritable (watch out, Ruffers and Lucy and Mom) pretty much all the time and feel like I'm constantly ready to *snap*.  It reminds me of riding really high-strung show horses.  And my arms are getting tired from holding onto the reins.
  • Still waiting to hear about a possible promotion in my job.  Keep praying.
  • I've started jogging!  I'm up to about 3 miles/day, although it's been tough since we  had a horrendous snow storm last week.  Please, people: SHOVEL YOUR SIDEWALKS BEFORE I KILL MYSELF IN FRONT OF YOUR HOUSE!  Thank you.
  • 2 authors whom I'm loving, loving, loving: Susan Hill and Christopher Fowler.  Wonderful mysteries!  Almost as good as my beloved Charles Todd.
That's it.  I'm so ready to go home for Christmas.  2 blessed weeks in sunny San Antonio, TX.  I feel calmer just thinking about it.  Hopefully I can get through the ensuing 18 days without killing any puppies.  Or my career.  Or my poor sainted mother.  Who I love very, very much.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chillin in the yard

Beautiful autumn day in the backyard

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Hunter

Orion the Hunter greeted me this morning as I opened my eyes from a deep bus-coma.  He was striding across the sky above and seemed to wave to me while he continued on his journey and I smiled in recognition.  I miss him during the summer months; he's my favorite constellation and seeing him again in the fall is one of those rituals that I have come to look forward to.  But take note--it was so dark when I got to work this morning, the stars were really, really bright.

So I didn't paint my entire bedroom last weekend as I had planned to.  No, I went to Plan G.  I decided that I'd rather wait til my mom visits next summer and we can do a big decoration project on the whole room.  In the meantime, I painted the fireplace and moved in.  It's much quieter back there and I love the view from the windows.  It's the biggest bedroom I've ever had, so sleeping with that much space around me is really nice, somehow. 

I think it looks pretty good.  I'm not crazy about the blue walls, but I can live with them until early next summer.  I love my new room.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Oh little blog, how I neglect you.  But come on.  My eyelid has been twitching almost non-stop for over a week--a sure sign that I'm 1. stressed and 2. tired.  Something has to give!  And apparently at least one of these somethings is this blog. 

Things to look forward to this weekend:

1. Watching BBC from Netflix
2. The instant gratification of tips
3. No work on Sunday!
4. Trying a new church on Sunday--the beautiful Methodist one just a few blocks and across the tracks from my house
5. Dare I say it?  Buying paint for my new bedroom!  We're going green, people.  As in, the color green.  The paint will be just plain old Valspar.  I'm cheap and am not going to shell out for the fancy enviro-friendly no-fumes stuff.
6. Perhaps start a new really good book?  If I can find one?
7. Spending some quality time with the R-Dog

That's a lot to look forward to.  And the list of things not to look forward to is neglible.  So, it's good!

Have a lovely, lovely weekend all!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Uh Oh

Last week, I was at Old Faithful and Lake.  This week, I'm attending the Science Conference in Mammoth.  Which doesn't leave any little chunks of time to write since I still don't have internet access at home.  But, it's been a doozy.

1. Working at Coffee Crossing is making me some nice cash
2. Volunteered at the Blue Slipper Theatre and their production of "Dracula"
3. Ruffers is...maybe sick.  The vet thinks there's a mass on his spleen, which could be very, very, very bad.  Aaron and I took him for a hike last weekend and I don't want to believe it, but it may have been his last hike.  He's acting fine, so I'm hoping for the best.  And am trying not to cry.
4. Went to dinner with my friend Wendy, who was visiting from Alaska.  It was great to see her--we spent a good hour talking about how hot Michael Landon was.  Whew.  Oh, PA!

Gotta run!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Morning Grind

I know...not such an original title for this morning's post.  But come's early.  And I'm talking about my new job.  Which is in a coffee shop.  That grinds its own beans.  Get it?  Grind?  Morning Grind? 


I like my new job--I like seeing people and the coffee shop's manager and I really like tips.  It's fun and fast-paced and the time really does blow by.  It's a bit scary b/c there are a lot of people lined up in a very small space a lot of the time and I don't know what I'm going to do when all of them order lattes and breakfast sandwiches and I'm the only one there trying to get everyone's order right.  It's not exactly high-tech there--the till is broken, the grinder is tempermental, and as my dad would say, there's not even enough room to change  your mind behind the counter, it's so little.  But it should be fun.  I'll get the hang of it, I'm sure.  I'm friendly, which is the big thing.  And my shifts are later in the day, so people hopefully won't be too grumpy.

Plus, a really good-lookin' rancher-type came in twice on Sunday.  I hope he keeps that trend going.

The downside, of course, is that the weekends are no longer my own.  Even though I'm not working that many hours, I'll still have to be there.  That'll be ok for the winter, but is definitely not going to work next summer.  So, I have until then to get a better-paying job.

As to that, I made the cert for a promotion here in the park.  The job's not mine yet, but that was a big obstacle!  Everyone cross your fingers, toes, eyes, and whatever else you got and send lots of prayers.

I spoke with Donna Cammack last night for a bit.  She's such a nice lady and made me homesick for the ranch.  She called to thank me for the gift Jessi, Emily, and I sent her after she made us the fabulous dinner last month.  She is always so happy and I asked her if she got up every morning and just looked for ways to make the day fun.  She replied that when she was first married, and there were negative people around, she decided that by heaven, she'd be  happy no matter what.  So, just out of sheer cussedness and determination, she's been happy ever since.  I like that.  I like that a lot.  She got me all caught up on community and family gossip, which I also liked a lot.

Ok.  Guess I'll go work now.  Gotta earn that promotion!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Catching Up

Last week was crazy.  I mean, really crazy.  I had an 80-hour work week in the Park and then started my second job at Coffee Crossing, which is right next to the movie theatre in Livingston.  More on that another time.

The Saturday before last, Amanda and I cooked for an entire day to get some meals in the freezer.  We pooled our supplies and grocery shopped for what we didn't have.  We ended up buying about $35 worth of food and made 10 recipes.

We made:
Chicken in Red Wine Sauce
Spinach Cakes
Peach sauce for ice cream
Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Creamy White Chili
Elk and Beef Red Chili
Turkey and Bean Stew
Thai Chicken
Pork in Enchilada Sauce

My freezer is packed!  I am so stoked, although I forgot to bring something for lunch today except for some hummus and red peppers and nuts.  Dangit!

But it was a lot of fun to cook so much and it's great to look in the freezer and feel stocked up for winter.  Even though it's been in the upper 80s here all last week and weekend.  What is UP with the weather?! 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What a surprise!

I got on the bus this morning to a wonderful surprise.  One of my favorite men of all time was on the bus and sat with me for the ride to Mammoth.  Bob is 85 years old and has been working seasonally and as a volunteer here in Yellowstone every summer since the late 1960s.  He's a treasure-trove of stories and not afraid to say what he thinks.  He's a curmudgeon of the first degree, but somehow he's taken a liking to me and we have a great time.  He fascinates me because he was educated at Exeter, Princeton, and Stanford, was a WWII soldier, and worked as an engineer for a few years before he gave it all up to be a Yellowstone Park ranger during summers and a southern California surfer during the winters.  He's hard of hearing, which makes conversation tough, but I relish every moment I have with him.  If only he were...40 or 50 years younger--I'd have a huge crush.  I've seen the pictures--he was a handsome devil in his younger days!  He had to take an ambulance ride to Livingston last night (he's ok, thank goodness), which is why he was catching a ride back to the park this morning.  So, I didn't get my nap, but it was worth it to sit by my friend and gossip at the top of our voices the entire ride to work this morning.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I'm feeling blah today.  As is the world outside.  It's been cloudy and kinda breezy for the entire day, but without any real gumption.  Even nature is feeling apathetic and listless on this September Tuesday.  I can't wait to get on the bus and slip into sweet oblivion as the dual narcotic of British BBC voices over my I-Pod and the hum and slight vibration of the bus work their magic on my eyelids.  It's only 2:30?  On Tuesday?  Ho hum.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Squirreling Stuff Away

It's definitely autumn!  The crisp light and intoxicating air makes me so, so happy.  But also nostalgic and kind of pensive.  I get really strong impulses this time of year.  I, need to buy school supplies.  Even though I'm not in school and neither do I have children.  A more sensible impulse is my need to preserve foods and fill up the freezer.  I froze a bunch of strawberries, raspberries, roast beef, and chicken this weekend and reorganized my big freezer to see how much meat I have going into snow season.  I have a lot.  It's awesome in there.  I also drooled over squashes and bought apples to bake.  What can I find to put away next?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


This has been a generally really bad weekend.  Suffice it to say that some people are really not who you think they are.  Also, I'm looking for a second job. Which will no longer be a luxury, but rather a necessity.  BUT...thank God for family.  Aaron, Karen, & Brian soothed my jangled nerves last night, Amanda has been a rock who has seriously saved my sanity and sense of me this week, and Tom and Bonnie sheltered me for a few hours so my shoulders could "un-hunch" this afternoon.  Over the phone, my folks offered measured and much-needed advise and reminded me that "this too shall pass."  Thank you, everyone.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Office

Gosh, it seems like all I do these days is move.  This move, though, should take considerably less time.  I'm moving into my new office today!  Yay!  I am very excited to finally have my own space, where I can close the door to make calls and I can actually concentrate while I'm editing stuff.  And I'll no longer be mistaken for the office receptionist.  These are all really good things. 

I went home last night and took Ruffers for a quick walk around downtown Livingston, looking at shop windows to see if anyone had any "Help Wanted" signs.  No one did.  But it was a beautiful evening--in the upper 60s and no wind.  We stopped at one house down the block to let a small child--maybe 2 years old--pet Ruffers.  The kid and his dad were pretty stoked and Ruffers was good about it, although he just wanted to keep going!

There was a beautiful sunrise over Mt. Everts this morning when I got off the bus.  Pink streaked clouds against a luminous pale blue sky.  Still haven't heard any bugling elk, but maybe they'll get going today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Weekend...AKA Lots-of-Labor-Days Weekend

Whew!  What a weekend!  Emily moved in this weekend, so it was a major push to get all my stuff out of her room and then get her room & closet painted.  It looks pretty good in there, thanks to the efforts of Amanda and Emily.  We also got the dining nook almost done--just one more coat on the trim and it'll be finis.  Yay!  I also got the living room kind of arranged...I like how it's going.

The bummer was that the toilet gave up the ghost, so I had to call in a plumber yesterday to come and do emergency repairs.  Happily, he seems to have fixed it and the bill wasn't too excruciating.  Nevertheless, I foresee a lot of quick meals in the future that come from my pantry and/or freezer--mamma's not buying anything for the next couple weeks!

Tom, Amanda, and I took down the big mountain ash in my front yard on Sunday.  Boy, that was an intense hour and a half.  A few limbs landed pretty heavily on roof and fence, but miraculously, there were no major problems--only a slightly bent gutter.  Whew!  But that was really crazy.  Tom's giving me their old wood stove, so I kept the wood for the day that I can get it installed.  Yay!  I can't wait for the warmth of wood heat!

So many people have helped me so much on the house and it's been really fun working together as a team.  I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't been very good about donating my work time in the past.  I'll chalk it up to pure selfishness and due in some part to my illness, but I hope to make up for lost time now.  I helped Manda paint her rental last night, which was actually fun--I like working as a team for these types of things.

Manda and I fixed dinner and watched the movie The Brothers Bloom on Sunday night.  I really liked that movie!  I kind of want to watch it again because I think I missed a bunch.

Yummy autumn recipe:
Saute 1 lb. of ground beef.  Drain. 
Saute 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1 onion (all sliced), 2 cloves  minced garlic, and 1 lb sliced mushrooms in the fat from the beef.
Add 1 jar olive red pasta sauce (I used some from Culinary Circle) & the beef.
Cook till warm and sauce thickens a bit.
Serve over spaghetti squash & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Be prepared to feed a few people or have left overs.
Feel virtuous because you cooked a cheap meal that is healthy and tasty.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


This has been a big year for me, during which two of my life-long dreams have come true.  First, in February I had the surgery that "fixed" all my medical problems, changing me from an exhausted, dispirited, and likely short-lived woman to one with lots of energy, a new interest in life, a medicine-free existence and a nice little figure (if I do say so myself).  It's close to a miracle how much my life has changed in the last six months and I am thankful for it every day.  Second, I bought my first house in July.  I've looked at hundreds of houses and I love mine.  It's cute, full of charm, and perfect for me and Ruffers. 

But even before this year, I marvel at how blessed I am with my dreams coming true.  I got my Master's degree after years of fiddling around with the idea.  I got my jobs in Yellowstone.  Even before that, I moved to brother moved to Montana...I've have had great friendships...I bought my dream a dog...worked with great summer jobs that allowed me to visit far-away life is really a succession of fulfilled dreams.

So, what's left?  What are my next dreams?  The big one, of course, is to fall in love and marry.  I want a family of my own.  That's what I've been praying about most, lately.  Other dreams revolve around trips to faraway lands, meeting back up with friends around the world, becoming a real part of a community, and continuing to make a difference in my professional life.  Based on my track record, I look forward to these and even more dreams coming true.  Ain't life grand?

And now for the downer.  There's new snow in the mountains and I had to close the windows in the house and add an extra blanket to the bed last night.  That's just plain ridiculous. 

Also, for those keeping track...I love Trident gum. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Fair Photo

The Midway was beautiful with the almost-full moon rising.

Vacation Photos

The best ride at any fair.

Lane teaching Emily the fine art of firing a S&W .357

Full Moon on the Prairie

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm back!

I'm back from vacation.  It's kind of nice to be back in the office.  It was VERY nice to get back to my house and my own bed. 

Highlights of the trip:
  • Dinner at the Deadwood Social Club, during which I received a lovely call from a nice gentleman
  • Spending time with the Murphy and Fischer families
  • Central States Fair--pig wrestling, petting cows, looking at crafts, riding the swings, talking to a nice gentleman
  • Spending the day feeding bison & elk, shooting guns (and prairie dogs), eating a huge dinner, and spending time with a nice gentleman
  • Long evening walks
  • Picking buffaloberries
  • Full moon
  • Naps
  • Playing Yahzee & Uno
Overall, a very nice trip.  It's good to be home.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Head out on the highway...

I just have to say.  I am so excited.  We're taking Emily's car to SD rather than my Jeep.  She gets 35 mpg.  I get 18.  Gas will be 1/2 as expensive!!!!  Yahoo!

Putting together the list of things to take.  It's a long list.  Ug.

I can't wait to breathe the South Dakota prairie air!  And bask in the scent of Black Hills pine trees.  And hug my grandma.  And watch pig wrestling!  And visit with folks.  And pet the bison & elk.  And hold a baby.  And just be home.  This is going to be a great vacation.

Little Fella

Manda took this picture last week of me and the widdle baby squirrel.  Isn't he CUTE?!


Thank Goodness It's Thursday!

So many things swirling around in my brain today.  Vacation.  House.  The cash flow situation.  What am I going to wear to the fair.  You know.  Normal stuff.

I had a great talk with my Dad last night, which pretty much took up all the evening.  That's fine by me!  I like it when he laughs.

I'll be away from internet for the next 10 days, so no blogging for me.  I hope to write a bit while on vacation so I can record the day to day here, but hey...I'm on vacation.  And I'll do what I want! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I couldn't sleep on the bus this morning.  Instead, I built castles in the air around my latest crush.  I've got a pretty good fictional future going for myself, I gotta say.  He called me out of the blue last night to finalize some details about my visit there next week.  I love surprises like that.  The phone rings and you assume it's some telemarketer or something and BOOM--it's a very funny, interesting, and attractive man who's calling to see what day you're coming over because his parents want to delay their vacation so they can see you.  (no, he doesn't still live with his parents.  but they're nearby.  and they love me.  it's a ranching community--visitors are a big deal out there.)  I was able to sleep last night after the conversation, but my brain was ready to obsess over it this morning and just wouldn't shut off.  Besides, daydreaming is much more fun than actual sleeping.

Oh--the meeting with the Superintendent went very well.  Yay!  We have another one tomorrow.  Heady days.

It's dark in the mornings now almost until I get to work.  Summer is leaving us, the jerk.  Just when I was starting to feel all comfortable and sure of it, it starts packing its bags.  Typical.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where it all happens

Administration Building in Mammoth.  Used to be an Army Barracks.  I like to imagine the balconies packed with fit soldiers, lounging in their US Cavalry Blues.  It's one way to pass some time.


It's ok if my blog is mundane sometimes, right?  I mean, that's what the nuts and bolts of life are like--hours and days of same old, same old.  Not that my life is boring.  Last night I took the tape off the walls, arranged furniture, did some touch ups, and feel pretty happy with my color choices so far!  Yay!  And then I walked over to Tom & Bonnie's and Tom gave me fresh green beans, peas, onions, garlic, and dill from the garden.  It was fun to help pick and weed the garden a little bit.  And I love green beans and peas.  The dill is in a vase in the living room and it looks beautiful.

Yesterday was the perfect evening for a walk--just a hint of coolness but perfect light and not a breath of wind.  It's the kind of day where you want to hug yourself because you just feel perfectly comfortable and there are no barriers between your heart and the air. 

We have a meeting with the Superintendent this afternoon.  It should be interesting.  I hope it goes well; I'm feeling nervous about it for some reason.

Ruffers is having a tough time staying in the house for 14 hours while I'm at work (who'd'a thunk it?) so this morning I resolved to leave him in the yard.  I took his bed out there, told him to stay about 10 times, and drove off.  I got all the way to Mark's before my courage left me.  I'd rather clean up a mess in the basement than come home to a dead dog.  So, I turned around and put him in the house.  He was very relieved.  I need to train him with his wireless collar and then will feel better about leaving him home in the yard.  Once Emily moves in, it won't be a big deal, but it's sure a bummer to deal with in the interim.  Just another one of the adjustments to getting the house!

Ok. I'm off to prepare for the big meeting.  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wherein I Discuss Reasons for Needing a Second Job

Yipes!  Owning a house is expensive! 

Emily & I painted the living room walls & ceiling this weekend, as well as about half of the kitchen.  It looks great!  But anyone who tells you that painting is a "cheap" or "affordable" way to decorate, well...I guess it's all relative.  But paint (and brushes and trays and rollers) adds up, lemme tell ya.

And I bought a bunch of new clothes at the thrift store Sacks of Bozeman on Saturday.  Size 8.  Thank you, thank you very much!  All the clothes are great brands and look great and my grand total was $34.  I got 1 pair of shorts, 3 shirts, and 4 pairs of pants.  Yay! I heart Sacks.

And I went to Costco and got supplies for the upcoming trip to SD.  I'm going to be short on cash, but I won't starve to death.

So when I get back, I'll be looking for a job for the weekends.  I'm doing some editing work for a friend, which is great, but it won't pay much.  I need something a little more consistent and lucrative.  I see the Dawg House in Livingston is looking for weekend help.  But I'm hoping something at a little coffee hut opens up.  Wish me luck!  Mamma's gotta buy some more new clothes!  And paint.  And new wiring for the house.  And food.


FYI.  I need a second job.

The end.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yellowstone Lake

Stacey and I drove down to Lake yesterday morning to attend the Employee Safety Committee.  We really enjoy these trips because it gets us into the park and we laugh the entire way there and back.  Yesterday, the bison were in rut in Hayden Valley.  There was traffic backed up for miles in the afternoon, but wasn't too bad in the morning.

The bison rut is fun to see because the females pretty much go about, business as usual.  But the males!  Oh, they're in a tizzy.  They fight.  They pee on the ground and then roll in it.  They grunt and bellow and run around after the females with a noticeable intensity.  All this is happening close to, or on, the road so it's a great opportunity to observe wildlife behavior, up close and personal-like.

The rest of the drive was really nice.  Lots of fireweed over Dunraven and near Tower.  The sun was shining and it was good to be on the road. 

In other news, Kelli came down to see the baby squirrel yesterday, so she, Manda, Tom, and Bonnie & I went to the Sport for dinner last night and then sat on the porch for a bit.  Kelli really liked my house!

Today's my "Friday" since I work 4-10's, although I'll be putting in a full day tomorrow in Bozeman.  I hope to get the living room painted in the house this weekend, and more of the kitchen cupboards.  I want to get more settled since next weekend I leave on vacation!  Yahoo!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Smokin Rockets

This morning outside the building, looking NE

This has been one crazy week.  Smokin rockets.  And in about 1/2 an hour, I'm off to Lake to attend the Employee Safety Committee meeting.  I'm the recorder.  Love it.  Luckily, my friend Safety Stace and I solve all the park's problems during our monthly drives to these meetings, which is an added bonus.  Happily, besides the true importance of safety in the park, we get to drive through the Hayden Valley bison rut, which should be quite a spectacle.  I hope to get some good pictures as we get stuck in bison jams!  And of course, other than the ranch, Lake is my favorite place in the world.

So last night after work I went over to Manda's to see her new pet--a 5 week old baby squirrel!!!!  Oh my gosh.  That thing is adorable.  It crawled all over me.  She rescued it from Aggie the dog on Sunday and it has imprinted on her--she never tried to catch it; it just came running up her leg all the way to her shoulder and went to sleep under her hair on the back of her neck!  What a crazy little fella!  Actually, that's his name--"Little Fella."  So anyway, he's adorable and Aggie is freaking out because now that squirrel's actually in the house.  The sky is falling in Aggie's world.

10 Days til Vacation; Emily, Jessi, and I are going to the ranch and the Central States Fair in Rapid City.  We'll be gone a whole week.  YES!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

From the Archives...

I still haven't found my this is another picture from earlier this summer.  This is one of the three great horned owlets born about 100 feet from my office window here in Mammoth this spring.  Here, he or she has just learned to fly and is hanging out in a nearby tree, finally away from the nest.


The Yellowstone/Gardiner community has given me a lot.  They've welcomed me with the tolerant smiles of those who've seen people come and go in this transient Park Service life but are still willing to give someone a shot if they make an effort.  I appreciate that--I've lived in transient communities for a long time and know the dangers of investing too much in people who leave just when you get to know and like them.  So, in an effort to make myself useful around here, I've volunteered at music festivals, baked cakes for auctions and cakewalks, bought I-don't-know-how-many raffle tickets, and supported the local boy scouts and 4-H in various ways.  Also, I've volunteered to help organize the Park 2 Paradise triathalon, which occurs on the 21st of this month. 

Now, I've never even been to a triathalon.  I originally signed up just to be a timer for the bike portion.  I figured, hey, how hard can it be to hit a stop watch every once in a while?  Well, now, because of a perfect storm of events, Emily and I are in charge of organizing all the timers.  Uh huh.  We have a lunch meeting today to find out more details, but we're drastically short on timers and I'm starting to panic a little bit.  I'm sure it'll all work out...right?!

Meanwhile, in my new community, I'll be volunteering for the Western Sustainability Exchange.  This organization works with local farmers and ranchers to get their products to local markets, thus making agriculture more sustainable and thus keeping more ranches in families as open land rather than subdivisions.  It's a combination of ranching values and conservation ethics, which are sometimes two seperate islands here in the West.  I'm pleased to be working on the bridge.  And to start setting down more permanent roots through service to my new community.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Build a Better Wilsall

Wilsall Grain Elevator, picture from (I can't find my camera in the chaos that is my house!)

Amanda, Lil and I went and supported Build a Better Wilsall, in Wilsall, Montana, over the weekend.  Wilsall is a small community about 30 miles north of Livingston, made up almost entirely of ranching families.  The town itself has a reportedly fabulous cafe and several bars...and that's about it.  But it's at the foothills of the Crazy Mountains and is really an idyllic setting for a small western wide spot in the road.  The fundraiser was Dinner and a Movie; they served a prime rib dinner and then showed Destry Rides Again starring James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich.  All this took place at the rodeo grounds, so watching the movie on a temporary screen as the stars came out was really kind of special.

The event also brought home to me how much I appreciate small towns and ranching communities like Wilsall.  Here are a bunch of people who have a narrow profit margin at the best of times, but things are even tougher during this recession.  Still, they gave of their time and pocketbooks to come out for this event.  Community members spent quite a bit of money at the live and silent auctions, on stuff that was a luxury.  Who really needs yet another ornamental duck decoy?  Yet, it went for over $100.  The generosity of those people was amazing.

Another thing that really touched me was their Gold in the Valley segment.  The Ringling 5, a local band made up entirely of ranchers in the Shields Valley, recorded a song about the Wilsall cemetary, which is where they "keep all the gold in their valley".  At the event on Saturday, they played that song and had a slideshow of everyone from the community who died in the last year.  It was enough to make the strongest of the crowd tear up a bit.  Almost all the people who died were elderly...which highlighted another noticeable aspect of the evening.  There were few if any children there.  Ranching communities thrive on the younger generation--they're the ones who will take over the ranches and do a lot of the work even before that.  There should have been children and people my age all over the place this weekend.  Unfortunately, people my age or younger were pretty scarce.  What will Wilsall be like in another 10 years?  Who will run those ranches and continue to Build a Better Wilsall?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Morning Hush

Not what I saw this morning, but here's Chief Joseph Pass, east of Yellowstone, on a clear morning a little over a week ago.

Yellowstone is often a frantic, hot, exhausting place in the summer.  Crowds of people--visitation is up 6.8% this year so far and almost a million people stopped by in July alone--make this a challenging place, what with their vacation mentality (traffic laws?  who needs 'em?).  I love tourists.  I love that they are in awe of a magical place.  I love that they feel the need to stop and take a picture of every single elk and deer they see; they've given full permission to their childlike sense of wonder for everything they see, and in today's world of jaded, hurried drones, that's a valuable thing.  However, for those of us to live and work here, summers can be intensely...annoying. 

This morning, though, I stepped off the bus and walked a few paces to where I had a view of the Absaroka Mountains just outside the park's boundaries.  I paused in the middle of the parking lot, took a few breaths, and just let the quiet of the morning, the cool-but-warm air, and the hazy early-sun lit mountains do their thing for a few seconds.  It reminded me of why I love it here.  Why I'm lucky to work here, and why I love those tourists even in their infuriating ways.  As long as I can retain some of my own wonder and awe for this place, I know I'm good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Bus was great this morning...but my throat is scratchy and I'm real tired.  Onset of a cold?  I hope not--Aaron, Karen, Brian, and I are supposed to go on an overnight raft trip on Friday!  And I'm organizing it!  And am the only one who knows how to row!  I've been trying to get Aaron to go on a raft trip for about 7 years now...I can't believe this one might actually not happen.  Although, to be honest, working on the house would probably be a good use of my time.  At the very least, I want to get the inside of the cupboards painted so I can put stuff away in the kitchen.  The chaos is growing.  It's like the Nothing in Neverending Story--only I don't have Falcore or Atreyu to help me out.  Where is a luck dragon when you need one?

So...I got back to Livingston at 6:40 last night.  Stopped at the grocery, cleaned up after Ruffers, made and ate dinner, prepared my lunch/coffee for today, watched 1/2 a movie, unpacked a box or two, showered, and went to bed.  Asleep by 10:30.  And still only got 6 hours of sleep, which is not enough.  I'm thinking I need to streamline my night a bit.  No grocery and no movie.  Fit in a walk and a bit of time in the yard or on the porch.  That would be a better evening.  In bed by 9:00 at the latest.  Yikes.  This is going to be an adjustment!

I read a great story on USA Today that explained how you can rent dorm rooms in universities and colleges in England during summer & winter breaks.  You get to stay in awesome old dorms and use their facilities.  For example, stay in Keble College at Oxford and eat breakfast (included in the price of the room) in the fabulous centuries-old dining hall.  And, it's cheap--even for Super 8 style prices!  So, that's going on the list of things I'd like to do.  I SO need to do some traveling.  I'm feeling all antsy and think a nice trip to a big city would really help me out.  And I don't mean San Antonio.  I mean Seattle or New York or even Denver, for heaven's sake!  But, probably won't happen for a long time.  The house is leaving me broke.  Which is ok.  But not helping my antsiness.

I'm trying to be better about posting pics.  Here's one I took early this spring on one of the first hikes of the year.  That's Bunsen Peak in the park in the background.  And the one-and-only R-Dog in the foreground.  Of course.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The House

I realized I haven't posted any pictures here in a long time. BAD blogger!

Anyway, here's the house! (Photo by Amanda Murphy Knuchel)

Mass Transit in Montana!

I feel so hip. So urban. So connected to the millions of people in New York, New Jersey, Conneticut, Massachusetts, etc. that get up every morning and make a communal journey to work. I rode the bus to work this morning and I gotta blew my mind. I was really dreading the bus, because I have to be on it at 5:30 am in Livingston and I won't get home until 7 pm this evening. But you know what? It was so comfortable! And relaxing--I slept off and on this morning between peeks at the Paradise Valley as the sun came up. And I listened to music and occasionally took a sip of my yummy coffee. It's $4 per day, which will save me at least $11/day if I drove my own car. Plus, it's a biodiesel bus so it's even better for the environment than regular mass transit bussing. PLUS, it'll be safe this winter when it's blizzarding and it's safe every day because I won't fall asleep behind the wheel or hit a deer/elk. I am stoked. Yes, 4:30 came early this morning and yes, I'll probably be exhausted by the time I get home. But what a house to come home to. And I get to feel hip and urban every morning.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Home Ownership = Weird

I've been a home owner for 5 days now, and the list of things I need to buy and/or fix is growing at an exponential rate. But, boy is this fun! I love sitting on the front porch. I love that Ruffers got excited when we got home last night from work. I love seeing the house start to shine after I clean up years and years of grime and dirt from careless tenants. By the way, that place WAS disgusting! After hours of work by me, Emily, and Anna, the house is no longer a biohazard! Yay for us!

I am staying in Gardiner tonight to pack more stuff at my apartment and tomorrow I'm going to Bozeman to buy appliances!

It's weird to own a house and the land that goes with it. It's really neat to be part of a continuum of Montana's owners and I love that my house has been standing there since 1918. How many people have fallen in love, gotten married, had kids, been widowed, gotten divorced, faced heartbreak, lived in desperation, laughed till their tummies hurt, and danced in that house?

Lil came over on Sunday and performed a blessing on the house. Tom, Bonnie, Amanda, Lil, Anna, and I wrote intentional words on all the walls of the house to set the tone of my time there.  It was a really special way to start on this adventure.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hello? Is anyone out there?

Being 33 rocks.

Good things that have happened this year:

1. Christmas time at home with the family.
2. Surgery in February; left the hospital completely cleared and I've lost 70 pounds. I'm THIN!!!
3. Good, good, awesome friends who have supported me, watched Ruffers, taken me to the emergency room, and given me a beautiful gift card.
4. Family vacation at the ranch in June where there were no fires. Although I did wreck the bike 4 times.
5. A whole month at home in Texas when it wasn't Christmas. I got 7 bouquets of flowers.
6. I'm buying a house!!!!! In Livingston!!!!!

And I still have 3 more months of 33 left. What else is going to happen?