Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Scattered

It's so quiet here. And there are millions of frogs. The frogs aren't in the house, they're in the pond which is in the botanical garden so I don't hear them making their little froggy noises. J and I are back in Austin for a few days. The housesitter has been taking great care of the house, and Deven and Zaga have been on top of the gardens, pond and bees. Everything is doing just great. I don't need to be here.

It's disorienting to be here in the middle of summer. Summer is for Montana. I love it here normally, but right now I don't feel at home. There are no dogs, there are no cats, there is no spouse. But J and I will get things done, I'll make some shirts for Dave, and make progress on knitting my sweater coat--I may even bring my Firefly (small electric spinning wheel) back to Polson with me. It has a cigarette lighter adapter so I can spin in the car... Hey, It's going to be a long drive back in August.

Jessie got her braces off today and she looks 2-3 years older to me. I look at her now and I can see her in college. We have had some real quality time together over the past two days. We have talked a lot, and we watched Tangled together tonight. Great mother-daughter time. Tomorrow I think we'll go get pedicures (that child needs to learn to cut her own toenails).

Now it's late and I have to get up early to make shirts. Time to go to bed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Notes On Apple Jelly With Rose Petals

The thing about reading a recipe written by a master with many years of experience and trial and error behind her is that it's written mostly for her and her level of expertise. Oh there may be a couple of notes added for the newbie, but it's hard to remember what it was like to start out and not know anything about a subject and to remember all the little details that would make replication easier. Of course replication of the result, spoonfeeding, may not have been the goal of the author of Mes Confitures at all. Maybe the reader is expected to pay her dues too and to have to figure some things out by experimentation. Whether that was the goal or just the outcome, right now (having just finished ladling the jelly into the jars over the rose petals) I am all kerfluffled!

Little green apples from my vet clinic
My conundrums began last night when I sat down to prepare my little green apples. The book is organized by season with the fruits that should be ready for harvest grouped accordingly. However there are a lot of apple recipes in the "spring" section, and apples don't ripen until fall. The recipes do call for green apples, but only one of them (the basic green apple jelly which you make to serve as pectin stock for other jams and jellies whose fruits are too low in pectin to set on their own) calls specifically for very green, unripe apples from the beginning of July. Now you might think that order of the recipes would play a part, and if the author mentioned very green and from the start of July once, it would apply to all successive recipes calling for green apples. But the green apple pectin jelly recipe comes 82 pages later than the recipe I used for the green apple and rose petal jelly. So did she mean any variety of ripe green apple or any green--as in unripe--apple? The book is translated from French, and I begin to wish I had the original. I punted and used my little green unripe apples which I expect to be higher in pectin and lower in flavor than ripe apples would be.

My green apple goop
The next question came when I was cutting up the apples. The instructions say to remove the stems and leave the peels, but they don't say anything about the seeds. Should I also remove the seeds before cooking the apples? Will the seeds add bitterness? Are they desirable? Okay? No clue. I removed most of the seeds (as many as I could by hand without cutting into the apples).

From conundrum I moved to overzealous and a probable mistake. The recipe directs one to bring the apples to a boil in 6 1/3 c. of water and then let them simmer for half an hour on low heat. When I looked at them after half an hour on low I realized that low on my Mom's electric stove doesn't keep that much mass at a simmer--there were no bubbles. So I turned it up and cooked the apples another 10-15 minutes at a true simmer. Next I was supposed to pour the mixture into a chinois and to gently press against the apples with my skimmer. I was agitated by that time and I pressed the hell out of them. I was trying to get juice out of them when I bet the actual goal was just to get some apple-flavored water. After I mashed up everything in the chinois, I put the resulting juice through a cheesecloth (as instructed) but there was so much gummy, pectiny pulp that it just sat there and not much juice went through. Giving up for the night, I put it all in the fridge--the cheesecloth in a strainer with the pulpy mess in it suspended over a bowl to catch the juice--as I was supposed to let the sediment settle overnight anyway. Then I went to bed fretting.

Macerating the rose petals
This morning I arose to find a large mass of goo, and 2 1/2 c. of juice instead of the 4 1/4 called for. Oh dear. Deciding at this point that it's all a learning experience, I dumped the goop out of the cheesecloth (it came out in a pretty solid mass) and poured cold water through the cheesecloth into the juice until I had 4 1/4 c. of liquid.

Next I went outside to harvest the roses. There were plenty of floribunda and old-fashioned (likely Bourbon) peach colored roses that I initially mistook for a standard Peace rose, and the old-fashioned roses have lots of little tiny petals that might not be so pretty in jelly. But they were what I had, their color was good, and there were enough of them, so I snipped off the heads and brought them inside to denude them of their petals.

Bringing the jelly to a boil
The rest of the process went pretty much as it seemed to be supposed to. I brought the majority of the rose petals to a simmer and then macerated them for an hour. After the hour was up I strained them through a cheese cloth with no mishap (though I might have--again--been overzealous in my desire to extract as much liquid as possible as I couldn't refrain from squeezing the cheesecloth. I squeezed gently, but nonetheless.

Rose petals saved to put in
the jars with the jelly
Then I cooked the juice up (again) with sugar and lemon juice (squeezed fresh) until it boiled and (seemed to) set. How to tell when juice "sets" becoming proto-jelly and ready to put up in jars is a mystery still. However I started the day with an overabundance of pectin so I figured it wouldn't be a problem and just (mostly) followed the directions for time. While I was waiting for the juice to boil up I put some rose petals in the bottoms of my sterilized jelly jars and measured out the rose water to add to the jelly at the end.

Upside down jars of jelly
waiting to set
I figured I wasn't going to get more than six small jars of jelly so I only sterilized six, so of course I got six and a half. The last half jar necessitated a quick microwave sterilization and a run to the garden for one more rose. Had I not filled the other jars so full (the book says to fill the jars all the way to the top so I tried that too, but it's messy so I stopped) I probably would have ended up with seven finished jars of jelly.

Now the jars are resting upside down with the rose petals floated to the bottom. When they have cooled a bit more and started to set up, I will gently shake them to distribute the rose petals through the jelly, and I'll set them right side up. Let's hope they cool fast enough that I can flip them before I leave to catch my plane! I will NOT be making the plain green apple jelly for pectin today. One jelly a day is enough.

*Note as I get ready to leave for the plane: The jelly did not set up adequately. Guess I should have fretted more about that part of the process and less about others!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Apple Jelly With Rose Petals

What a day! From the schedule that I made yesterday I managed to get my cutting list to the lumber mill for the bed (I also picked out another slab for a matching desk--I am considering a dining room table, but that can wait till next year!), Dave helped me unload the trailer, and Jessie went out to the lake with me and helped me load it up again. This afternoon I stopped by our vet's office and picked green apples from their tree in back, and tonight I'm starting a batch of apple and rose petal jelly. I'll pick the rose petals from my mother's peace roses first thing tomorrow when they're still cool with dew. Besides the apple and rose petal jelly, tomorrow I'll make a batch of the green apple jelly to use as pectin in other preserve recipes this summer. These recipes are both from the book Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber.

The animal shelter was closed today so I couldn't talk to them about the rabbit pens, but tomorrow morning I'll move the pens out into the rock garden in the backyard and give the shelter a call. This way I'll be able to set up the fleece station pretty quickly. I won't have time to use it before I get back, but it'll be ready and waiting for me next week. The second hand store that benefits the animal shelter was also closed today, and I don't know if I'm going to have time to take a load of stuff to them before leaving for the airport tomorrow. I think I'll be conservative and just say no.

What I will do tomorrow is cut out four shirts for Dave that I will take to Austin to sew, and I'll finish my two jellies. I'll also pack, though we're only going for four days and it's not like I don't have toiletries and clothes there. The important thing to remember is the car keys for the Leaf!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lists and Plans

The swatch after being blocked, and the yarn.
The weekend endeth. It endeth well. In a flurry of energy, I bounded out of bed at 10:48 this morning and went to breakfast with the spouse. Really, I was energetic and enthusiastic even though it was so early. Okay so I didn't get much of a jump on the day, and I took a nap in the late afternoon, but I really did think about all my current projects today. Mostly I straightened and set up work areas.

I got the sewing area ready for the next great round of Dave's Hawaiian shirts. I planned the layout for the garage staging area of give away and throw away items from the lake storage. I organized my spinning, knitting, and computing area...

I have noticed when I save posting till after 11:00 at night, I am winding down and mentally cataloguing the day. It's good for me as it sets up the next day, but it doesn't make for an interesting post. As I am getting ready to go back to Austin the day after tomorrow and I have a ton of things I want to get done and a few things I need to get done before I go, it's hard to think anyway other than in linear, logical, orderly lists.

Tomorrow I need to get up early so I can call the vet to ask if I can pick some green apples from the backyard of the clinic. My jelly and jam making supplies have all arrived, though the copper pan arrived a bit crushed--I was able to bend it back out but I'm not sure I want to pay that much for a damaged pot. I let the restaurant supply company know about the damage right away... and have heard nothing back since. I'll go ahead and make a batch of green (unripe) apple jelly in the next couple of days so I'll have it as an ingredient for the next round of confitures I'll be making when I get back.

Dave is beginning to look a bit ragged in his 14 year-old Hawaiian shirts so I want to get a few new ones cut in the next couple of days so I can take them back to Austin with me and sew one or two up. I didn't bring a machine here this summer as I just planned to cut them all out and bring them back to sew this fall, but I think I'll have time to whip up one or two while I'm home. I hope. Unless everything there has gone to hell in a hand basket.

Now that the design for the bed is done I am ready to order the wood from Dupuis. I'd like to get that cut list in to them tomorrow--along with the list for the Doug fir for the workbench. I bit the bullet and bought three pieces of woodworking equipment and will be setting up the last studio area in Austin when we get home this fall. There is one last room underneath the master bedroom that is only accessible from outside and which seems to have been the workshop space for the first owner. There is a cement floor, lighting, and even an AC unit in the wall. I currently have it filled with all of the things I would have stored in the garage or a tool shed, but the garage is a glass studio, and we don't have a tool shed. We do, however, have a closet under the stairs to the apartment which will make an excellent place to store all the art fair display supplies, tables, tents, etc. I can hang yard tools and hoses and such by the potting bench area under the back deck--unless the new rain barrels take up all the space there. I'll have to co-ordinate the layout with Jay when I am back next week.

The yarn I spun, plied, and washed was dry today so I balled it up and knit a few swatches to make gauge for the sweater coat I am going to knit from my Tour de Fleece yarn. It's much prettier than I expected it to be. I don't like barber-pole striping in yarn, like you get when you twist two different colors of yarn together. However it looks better when it's knit as it looks more heathery and not stripy. Now I just need to figure out if I'm going to have enough. The pattern calls for a certain weight of mohair yarn instead of a yardage. Mohair weighs like dandelion fluff so I have no idea what a commensurate weight in wool would be. Surprisingly, I ended up making my gauge with the same size needles the pattern called for. I can only assume that had I used cobweb-like mohair (even the three strands knitted together that it calls for), I would've had to go down several needle sizes.

When I come back from Austin I'm going to bring some sheet glass in my suitcase (in tile-sized pieces) so I can use them as the base for the glow-in-the-dark tiles I want to test. I have a lot of frit--and even a few jars of morceaux--here, but I don't have any clear sheet at all.

I'm going to see if the local animal shelter would like the rabbit play yard and super hutch. If they don't, I'll try to sell them. When they're moved out from under the deck I'll have room to set up my fleece skirting and prep station so I can do the big fleece for my master spinning class that I brought from Austin.

And that's enough to fill my brain for tonight. Good night!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday?

It doesn't feel like Saturday. We took Kyla to the airport in Missoula to head back to Atlanta today and I had my usual joyful experience with TSA accompanying her to the gate. Two discussions with the TSA supervisor, a VERY thorough groin pat down front and back followed by a comprehensive residue test both on my hands (front and back) and on the the gloves of the agent who patted me down (also both front and back). But my cavities weren't searched, and I did not lose my calm so I guess I can count it as a win.

I did spin today--I plied 582 yds and then wound it on a swift. After I took it off the swift I checked the twist (to make sure it was balanced) and it was; it hung in a perfect loop, not twisting back on itself at all. So I soaked it in hot water for a couple of minutes and then took it out and thwacked it a bit to set the twist. Tomorrow, when it's dry, I'll weigh it (to see how many yds/oz I get so I can make sure I have enough for the coat I'm going to knit), and then I'll knit a swatch for gauge for the coat. I am very eager to start knitting again. I am still bummed that I can't find the lavender cotton sweater I was knitting earlier this spring.

Spinning (and Dave's excellent pesto chicken for dinner along with Steve Adler's company) were the only good parts of the day. I already gird my loins for the contractor issues in Austin next week, and the DSL here (which was just upgraded to 25 Mgbs) tested out at 1.7 Mgbs download speed tonight. I checked because we kept timing out on Deadwood again. We finally gave up on watching.

It's too early to go to bed so I'll either read, work on the bed cutting list, or practice piano when I'm done posting. Or maybe I'll go clean the kitchen. Here's hoping tomorrow is a less blah day.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tour de Fleece and Life

As of tonight I have spun just over 1.2 lbs of fleece into yarn singles which I will eventually ply together into a two-ply art yarn for a coat. Of course I have about another three lbs of fleece to spin first. I had hoped to have it all spun and done during the Tour de Fleece, but life has intervened and I am behind. However I cannot lament my tardiness as I spent the time I was not spinning being a good mother, a good neighbor, a good wife, and a good hostess. I didn't manage good housekeeper, but nobody's perfect!

Tomorrow Jessie's friend Kyla goes home to Atlanta, and next Tuesday Jessie and I head back to Austin. She gets her braces off, and I gird my loins to deal with contractors. Maybe I'll give myself a treat and have my legs waxed--nothing like ripping all the hair on your legs out by the roots to take your mind off of contractors! I am a little irked with my main contractors right now since they didn't finish the pond and get it filled and the water cleared in time for me to put all the koi from the holding tank on my back deck into it. I ended up leaving them in the holding tank, charging Devon with keeping the water filled and clean, and asking Zaga to feed them. I planned to release them into the pond next week when I am home. Unfortunately, earlier this week some animal discovered the all-you-can-fish buffet and removed most of the water and all but four of the fish from the tank. Whatever it was very nicely left heads from some and headless bodies from others for Zaga to clean up. I was very sad to hear that the three fish I brought from Atlanta--my big white one and the two big orange ones--were among the casualties. Had the contractors finished the pond when they were supposed to, I would've been able to put the fish in it and they would have been safe. If wishes were horses...

Now it's late at night again, and after being gone all day, I need some snuggling time with the spouse.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sapphires!

We are home from mining for sapphires in Philipsburg today, and for the first time we left stones to be heat treated and faceted. Now I am thinking I might be regretting having one of my stones heat treated. It was already pretty dark--though more aqua than royal blue--and it might have been nice to just have it natural. The heat process typically clarifies the stone and saturates the color, but there is something to be said for natural...

Anyway it was amazing how many good sized unfractured sapphires we found today. Jessie, Kyla and I all had rough stones in the 2-2/12 carat size with no fractures. Kyla's biggest stone had a beautiful iron spot in it that will go yellow with heat. I think it's going to be gorgeous cut and will be about 1/2 to 3/4 carat. My big pink one has a large fracture that doesn't go all the way through so the appraisers thought it was worth doing. I said it was okay to cut it with a bit of an inclusion. The stones below are all mine from one small bag of gravel and include my large dark one and my big pink one. I left one more round one a little smaller than the one on the upper left to be done too. Now we just have to wait seven weeks until they're done!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Day Of Pain

Today was torture--and not just because I spent over two hours dealing with CenturyLink screwing up our Internet service. We are left tonight with service so slow there is no way we could watch anything, and the 25Mbs service won't be turned on until Friday. *sigh* I just don't have the heart to call again to tell them they didn't set our service back to what it was--they dropped it even lower.

As if dealing with a telephone/Internet company wasn't bad enough (46 minutes on *one* call!), I also spent an hour and a half at the dentist getting one new crown put on and being fitted for another one. This time the dentist did not manage to numb me all the way--even after three hefty shots of novocaine--and it hurst much more tonight than it did after the first one was fitted.

Icing on the cake is that I still do the zombie shuffle when I walk as my ankles and knees are still in major pain from yesterday--everyone else is recovered. Sure, I'm hte oldest, but I need to get back into shape! For the rest of the night--which admittedly isn't very much--I'm going to chill and read my book. I wish we had a big deep soaking tub here--or a hot tub--but I'll just have to settle for a hot shower. Naw, that doesn't sound appealing at all.

Tomorrow off to Philipsburg to mine for sapphires!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Glacier National Park 2017


Wild Goose Island
The river below is right next to
the road we started on
I am reminded that I am no longer a spring chicken, I am more like an old stew hen. I hopped handily enough out of bed at 5:15 this morning and hustled everyone into the mini van for our trip to Glacier. Then I drove with spry alacrity up to the park, arriving at West Glacier just before 8:00 am. At that point Dave took over driving and I took over photographing EVERYTHING with the new camera.



Looking back down the road we drove up
My sexy spouse
 With all the stops (and we didn't make one at Logan Pass this year) it took us until 10:40 to get to Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. It's right next to Many Glacier on the northeast side of the park. It was drizzling lightly when we arrived, and we were all hungry so instead of hitting the trail right away, we waited 20 minutes until the cafe opened for lunch and then we ate. With one thing and another, it was about noon before we hit the trail. Hindsight is 20/20, but if we had started hiking right away we probably would've seen the moose by Fishercap Lake or the enormous sow grizzly and her two cubs further up the trail. But you never know when the wildlife will be out and about. I'd like to do that hike again--next time earlier in the morning (maybe after staying the night at Swiftcurrent).


Bullhead Lake--the end of our hike
Field of beargrass
The last time we hiked the Swiftcurrent area Jessie was only 8 or 9 and we hiked a more strenuous trail up to Iceberg Lake. I could no more have done that hike today than I could've flown. The hike we took was very easy and mostly level, but at the end of 3/1/2 miles Dave and I reached Bullhead Lake and decided to call it good enough. We were on the Swiftcurrent Pass hike, and we knew we weren't going to do the steep part at the end leading up to the pass, but I thought we'd make it to the end of the Bullhead lake at the bottom of the mountain. However the girls turned back before we even got there and said they'd wait for us at Redrock Falls. Dave and I went on, but then it started raining again and the descending hikers reported no animal sightings further on so we turned around and headed back out.

Ground squirrel
The cows of Glacier
In spite of the lack of wildlife bigger than squirrels (except for the multiple small herds of cows at the entrance to and even inside the park at the Many Glacier entrance) it was an incredible hike. I have never seen so many different wildflowers blooming all at once--and the beargrass blooms were just dense everywhere and taller than Jessie. Last winter was a big snow year, and the spring was very rainy so the growth is explosively lush. And it's not like we didn't see large animals all day. We were fortunate enough to take in the casual browsing show put on by a young male mountain goat up by Logan Pass. I even saw another goat settled in on the side of a cliff above the road as we were on our way back down the road at the end of the day.

Jessie's pic of the fire from '15
The burned area now
It was our first visit to the Park since the devastating fire on the east side two years ago. Jessie was on a boat right off shore of where the fire started and ended up being out on the lake for two hours watching it grow from a plume of smoke to an explosive conflagration. The boat she was on was held there in case they needed to use it to evacuate hikers trapped by the blaze.

Where Siyeh Studio was born
Today the burned trees still stood stark and bare--many peculiarly burned leaving blackened bark with shocking white trunks showing through. And beneath all of them bloomed a riot of wildflowers and lush meadow grasses. As sad as it was that there was a fire, it was really overdue. That area was full of beetle-killed pine trees just waiting for a careless match. Nature reboots just like everything else, and fire is one of her major ways to do it.


Even when the sky is sullen, there's no
more beautiful place to be
The requisite mountain goat shot
We're home at last, and I managed--barely--to hobble into the house and down the stairs groaning all the way. My ankles hurt. My shins hurt. My calves hurt. My hips and my gluteus maximus hurt. The skin on my inner thighs hurts the most as I wore one of my currently-usual dresses on the hike and chafed that tender skin most egregiously.




Logan Peak
Heaven's Peak
Next time I'll wear some spandex workout shorts under my dress for hiking. Or I guess I could just dress like everyone else in their frufty Gore-Tex with their rain gear and their fancy hiking boots and their walking poles. I definitely got some funny looks in my Keens and a blue dress with a camera slung around my neck--especially in the rain by Bullhead Lake after most of the casual hikers had turned back. Whatever. My mother used to do all her serious hiking in thongs--excuse me: flip flops. I keep forgetting that Jessie told me "thongs" means something else now other than footgear. Again, whatever.
Bird on a dead tree

Birdwoman Falls
Now I sit with a pre-shower Negroni, posting and curating the day's photos to pick the best one for the 365 project and the runners up for here. It's going to be a tough choice--Glacier National Park is my favorite place on earth for a reason: there is nowhere with more breathtaking views.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday Blues

Adverbs are my favorite descriptor, but adjectives come in very handy when describing days. There are long days, hard days, dark days, great days, sunny days--the list is is inexhaustible. Today was a difficult day. I took the trailer to the lake and filled it with the first big load of my parents'--mostly my Dad's--things. I did pick up a some of Mom's fabric and the kitchen utensils from the lake cabin that Ed and Susan don't want, but it felt like most of the load was everything from Dad's life. There were two boxes of ski maintenance equipment including old irons for waxing the bottom of the skis and files for sharpening the edges. There were boxes of maps, notes, entomology books, and tax returns going back to 1983 (okay, I picked those up in my last load, but they fill out the feeling of the rest of the things I loaded so I added them in). Everything I loaded today was stuff they had stored, not things from their daily lives. And almost all of it will go to the second hand store benefitting the animal shelter or to the dump. There are a few things worth selling, and fewer still that I will keep. I am left feeling like I am wiping all trace of him away.

It will be an early night tonight as we're leaving the house at 6:00 am for Glacier tomorrow morning so I'm not going to go on. I'm feeling melancholy and sad, and I think I'll just go to bed.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Death Of an Appliance

I decided to finish the Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast this morning and end my binge on sugary cereal. However when I pulled the carton of milk out of the fridge, it didn't slosh, it sludged. Uh oh. I knew we'd been having a problem with the freezer--the ice cream bars weren't (bars) and the ice cream wasn't (iced). But apparently the whole unit is giving up the ghost. I could have called a repairman, but I think--though I am not sure--that this fridge might have been the fridge we had when I was a teenager. Maybe not, but it is an OLD unit. So instead of repairing it, we decided to replace it. I went online, and then the ruralness of our situation became apparent and Dave and I drove to the Home Depot in Kalispell and picked one out.

I had to face the hard reality that we are truly in the boonies here when I tried to order one online and have it delivered and I got the message, "We're sorry. Appliance delivery isn't offered to your area. Your nearest store may be able to offer other arrangements." So I couldn't get free delivery--or any delivery at all for an on-line purchase--but we were able to go into the store, pick from 3-4 models in the basic style we wanted that they had in stock, and schedule delivery for Thursday. We could have picked from a wider selection had we been willing to wait, but what they had was more than good enough. And for $48 they will deliver, unpack, set-up and install (water line) the new one and haul away the old one. I call that a steal of a deal.

On the way home we stopped at the Tamarack Brewing Company in Lakeside for lunch. They have some of the best food and best beer on the lake. It's too bad that Lakeside is right outside of Kalispell and so clear on the other end of the lake from us (about a 45 minute drive). Wish they were in Polson. They also had a gorgeous firepit outside made by Big Sky Backyards. I looked them up and fell in love with the the one below. Someday it might adorn the garden at Stone's Throw.


As we are mostly sans fridge, we will be eating out for a few days. Or Dave could shop daily for fresh food and we could pretend we're Europeans who grocery shop everyday and who neither store much nor have big refrigerators. I will, however, see if the neighbors can keep our ice cream for us till Thursday. And I can't wait to have ice and water in the door again!!!!! The old Kenmore certainly didn't have it (its ice maker hasn't even worked for the past few years) nor does the Thermidor fridge at Stone's Throw have ice or water in the door. Come to think of it, we didn't even have ice in the door in Atlanta--just water. We haven't had a fridge with ice and water in the door since Jessie was one and we lived in Austin the first time! Oh I am going to enjoy this.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Not Much Ado About Nothing

After our big day out yesterday, we utterly failed to do anything much today. The girls didn't even want to go out to the lake they were so tired! They spent the entire afternoon watching Breaking Bad--and that's after sleeping the entire morning. I wasn't much better. I got up and fed the cats, but then I went right back to bed for a few hours. Now after doing mostly nothing all day myself (I sat on the periphery of the girls BB binge watch), I am writing a quick post, getting the dogs settled for the might, turning off the sprinkler, and going to bed. Tomorrow I am going to insist we go out to the lake. It was 96 here today (consider that we have one little air conditioning unit for one room in the house and nowhere to put another one) and we are just not set up to handle those temps. I need to spend the afternoon in a nice glacier-fed lake staying cool.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Summer and the Bison Range

Two does in the creek
my best shot of the day
Today may be the first day I have really felt like it was summer vacation--odd timing as it was also only the second day I have set an alarm since we have been here. We got up and out the door by 7:30 this morning to drive through the National Bison Range. It's only about a half hour away from the house and we arrived so early the visitor center wasn't even open yet. Even so there were three other vehicles spaced out a bit on the road in front of us.

Tiny mountain chipmunk
Antelope on the ridge
Wildlife sightings were decent, not great, but the 300 mm lenses on the new camera let me get some great close-in shots. Jessie, however, got the best shot of the day (again) (with my camera as hers is in Austin) of a young bull bison swiping his nostril with his tongue. We saw antelope, deer, bison, and chipmunks. We didn't see bighorn sheep or bears, which we have in the past.

Herd of cow and calf bison
Jessie's tongue-in-nose-bison
I want to make one more drive through this summer but at the end of the day. The latest you can start through is 7:00, and as late as it stays light, that would leave plenty of opportunity for great photos as the animals move around at the end of the day. I also would like to make that drive in the Mini Cooper with the top down. Dave is a bit nervous about that idea as he thinks the bison might mistake the Mini for another bison and either try to mate with it or fight it. I want to take the Mini as I can get good 360 degree photos without having to get out of the car (which makes Dave very nervous).

Another picturesque doe
Saw lots of buck deer with large racks
The reason the day felt like vacation was that--even though I did much the same as I have been doing--I didn't feel like I should be doing something else instead of napping or watching woodworking videos. I just went with the flow wherever it carried me. I need to cherish thee moments because come fall and Austin, I'll be in the thick of it again.

Bull bison lying in his dust wallow
Old trestle bridge for the railroad
Tonight will be an extension of the sloth with dinner at Dairy Queen in Ronan, followed by the new Spider Man movie. Tomorrow I'll probably take the railer out to the lake and empty my parents things out the metal building so it'll be ready for my uncle when he arrives in a few weeks. I still didn't spin today, nor did I practice tomorrow. At this point it's going to be hard to conquer Rachmaninoff and finish all the fiber I'm spinning for the Tour de Fleece, but I can't be too concerned. The inbox will always be full.

The pink glow of sunset on the snowy peaks in the east as the moon rises over the Mission Mountains


Thursday, July 06, 2017

Sloooowed Down

Gallifrey guards the new trailer.
I am suddenly in the land of unbelievably slooooow Internet. We couldn't even watch Deadwood tonight because it was too frustrating waiting to it to buffer enough to play (over and over and over again). I called tech support, and they (of course) don't see any problems or congestion on the line. So now I get to spend Sunday afternoon waiting for the technician to show up. We are supposed to have 10 Mb service, shouldn't that be enough to stream two movies at a time?

Spinning was also a challenge for the last two days. Instead of my goal of four ounces a day for each day, I produced zero ounces. I do have 16 ounces done for the first four days, but I may need to reset my goal. After all, it's an endurance race as much as anything and I need to be in it for the long haul (till the Tour de France ends on 7/23).

My one accomplishment of the day was acquiring a very nice used enclosed trailer. With all of our back and forth from Austin to Polson, it doesn't make sense to have to rent a U-Haul every time I need to take more than a couple of suitcases. I managed to drive it home and back it into the drive with no (serious) mishaps. Now I have a way to get all the blue pine and douglas fir lumber home for my building projects!

Tomorrow is our early day at the National Bison Range so I am going to head for bed.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Welcome To the 5th...

Rocket girl
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Lord am I beat!! It stays light in Montana till quite late so home fireworks don't really get serious till around 11:00. By 10:30 we had determined that the lighters were useless, it was too windy for a candle, and the matches were all old and too humidity-soaked to light anymore. So off Dave went to WalMart (the only place in town still open on the 4th of July) and bought a small propane blowtorch. Then, so to speak, we got cooking with gas! We finished ours not long after midnight, but there were still fireworks going off in the neighborhood at 1:00 or 2:00 am.

Best shot of the night and J took it
This morning I had a piano lesson at 8:00 am and needed to get up at 7:00 to practice.
Dad, we need a blow torch...
I didn't make it out of bed till 7:30, and even after a half hour of practice I was still terrible at the Rachmaninoff concerto I've been working on since May. *sigh* I'll kill it next week--along with Beethoven's Prelude in C. I cannot tell a lie: After my piano lesson I went right back to bed and slept till 10:30. For a further bit of honesty, I could easily have slept till noon. I think it's something about the Montana air (back to that whole lack of oxygen thingie.)

One of the parachuters
Polson City fireworks
But I dragged myself/sprang (it's kind of a lively zombie move) from bed at 10:30 and rousted the girls so we could go clean up firework debris and I could move our cars out of the neighbor's drive. The neighbors on both sides go away for the 4th so they and their dogs can escape the noise. I wanted to have their yards cleaned up before they got home. One of the fireworks we set off shot a hundred little men hanging from parachutes into the air and they drifted up to two houses away in every direction that wasn't the street where they would have been easy to pick up.

My best photo of the Polson fireworks
Rocket to the moon
My duties this morning were to clean the street (it's a bigger area than it sounds as right in front of our house is a diagonal intersection where two streets join) by handpicking as well as sweeping. I also moved the cars. Then I left Kyla and Jessie to the rest of the bordel (in one of the French senses of the word--not the English) and I am inside cooling off. Dave wants to try a new restaurant for lunch, and then I'm going to take the girls out to the lake. I think it will be a challenge to spin my four ounces of fiber for the Tour de Fleece today.

Quel bordel!
Jessie as Carol Burnett
Jessie as Charlie Chaplin