My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blogging Slump

I cannot believe it's almost September already! Mea culpa for not blogging in a while. When I've had driblets of time, I've lacked either the energy or inspiration, or both. Not much to blog about, really... my days have been filled with post-fire cleanup and paperwork crap, trying to chase down and meet with contractor-type people (think "herding cats"), and getting MRIs for my annual neurology appointment. Boring, yukky stuff and dismal blogging fodder.

Since I was starting to feel badly about neglecting my blog, this afternoon I took a photo of our first red tomatoes from the garden. Always an exciting event (and though we always get the earliest-ripening varieties and plant them as soon as we can - given that we get blizzards in freaking JUNE - you can see how late in the season it is before we can enjoy a few garden-ripened tomatoes!) Anyway, so confident was I in my camera and photography skills that I ate half of the tomatoes for lunch on a vegan BLT* and for dinner on a super-deluxe salad before I downloaded the photo. Big mistake, since it turned out blurry! Re-photographing the remaining three tomatoes seemed a bit silly, so here, for what it's worth, is the blurry original...

And why didn't BW get to share in our garden bounty today, you may wonder? Because he's working till 9 pm. (UPS sucks!)

Mocha is still at our friends' and Sue reported that he'd found an old broom she keeps by one of the outbuildings and was having a jolly time with it, grabbing it in his mouth and shaking it back and forth with great vigor. What a monkey he is! I visit him as much as I can, and we hope to have our new fence done and Mocha back home by mid-October. Meanwhile, he's very happy at Sue's, getting spoiled with carrots and apples, playing with his broom, and standing hock-deep in grass. Here he'd just be sucking dirt, since his pastures both burned up (though we see green sprigs popping up here and there already!)

I'll blog more when my general funk has lifted and I've crossed more pressing stuff off my to-do list (last MRI tomorrow, last contractor out on Saturday to do an estimate, yippee!) Meanwhile, for your enjoyment, here's my BLT "recipe" and a Dan Piraro
Bizarro cartoon I found quite amusing. :-)

*Yummy Vegan BLT

Two slices
Ezekiel Organic 7-Sprouted Grains bread, toasted
Two slices LightLife's organic tempeh
Fakin' Bacon, fried
Organic tomato slices from the garden
Organic "Red Sail" lettuce from the garden
Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise (vegan mayo)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Some Pretties...

I'm so tired of looking at blackened earth, smoky skies and burned stumps, it's time to have some beauty to gaze at again! So here are three photos I took during my visit to my mom's in Havre, MT.

A pretty dragonfly basking on a Bachelor Button...

dragonfly on bachelor buttons

Beautiful Willow admires the geraniums on Mom's deck...

Willow with geraniums

One of Mom's three lovely deck fountains...

birdhouse fountain

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fire aftermath

A few more photos of the fire's aftermath, along with some "before & after" pics (click on them for larger versions)...

I took this one on June 18 from our deck. That's fog (not smoke!) above our neighbor's house...

And this one I took yesterday. You can see the same neighbor's house and where the fire stopped. Fortunately, it stopped short of a huge, beautiful aspen grove (out of the photo's frame to the right) and all of Soda Hill...

This pre-fire picture shows Spahn's B&B and some of our buck & rail pasture fence (so much time, money and effort we spent to build that!)...

And this one shows the same area, post-fire...

This is what our fence looks like now. The cross bucks burned completely; they're just X-shaped ash with tidy piles of spikes in the center of them. (Spahn's house in the background)...

Our burnt shop building. You can see one of the melted fiberglass skylights, the burn damage to the metal roof, the scorch marks on the exterior walls, the busted out window (which BW has covered with some sheet metal), and the warped metal walk-through door with a bootmark on it where a firefighter kicked it open...

The interior of our shop building...

Some Colorado firefighters perform mop-up in the ravine behind our house...

mop up
A helicopter flying low over our neighborhood, looking for hot spots on Friday, a week after the fire started...


Friday, August 17, 2007

Little Goose Fire

Well, never thought I'd have something quite this dramatic (or even this mehitable!) to write about, at least not so soon after starting to blog! The photos tell the story better than words can, but here's some background...

This fire was started by lightning in a remote area of a canyon a few miles south of our place last Thursday night (Aug 9), but wasn't spotted till Friday morning about a half hour after I left with Willow to visit my mother in northern Montana for the weekend. So I didn't have a clue what calamity I was leaving behind in my rear view mirror, or what I'd be coming home to!

The fire got bad on Friday - BW could see the smoke from his route and thought he'd have to go home, and neighbors started packing up to evacuate. But then it cooled off, the winds calmed, that night there was a little rain, and skies were clear that evening and all day Saturday.

Sunday morning, however, the wind picked up and shifted so that it not only fanned the fire into an inferno, but blew it straight up and out of the canyon and over "Stumpy Ridge" right toward our subdivision. (Does it bear mentioning that the wind NEVER blows from that direction?!) BW called me that afternoon to tell me that there was a huge fireball visible from our kitchen window and the neighborhood had been ordered to evacuate immediately. He'd loaded Mocha in the trailer and the dogs and everything of value that he could think of and/or fit in the pickup truck, and drove to our friends Sue and Morris' house about six miles away, where he spent the next two nights. He boarded Josie and Tess at our vet's on Monday, the day I was supposed to have returned. Needless to say, I got almost no sleep that night and was in no shape to make the seven hour drive home the next day. So on Tuesday BW checked into a Sheridan motel and Willow and I met him there when we got back to town.

We were allowed to return home briefly that evening to gather a few more things and assess the damage. We had a mixed reaction of "It could have been worse" and "OMG." It was very surreal and disorienting, with so many trees gone, fence gone, the smoke and the charred landscape and the helicopters constantly flying overhead. There were some amazing heroics, especially by the local volunteer fire fighters - despite 40 mph winds and flames 15 feet high at our house on Sunday night! We lost almost all of our fence, a lot of landscaping and vegetation, and about half of our shop building (luckily not the half we recently stacked our hay in!), but don't seem to have any damage to the house. And though cabins and outbuildings burned, not a single home in our neighborhood was lost.

It was too smoky to stay here so we've been in the motel till this morning, when we checked out and I got Josie and Tess out of hock and came home. :-) (It's still smoky, so we'll see if we can stand to sleep here this weekend.) Jane Doe & Co. have yet to make an appearance at the house, but we've seen lots of does and fawns in the neighborhood areas untouched by fire (too far away to identify, though), and someone has been eating the food and drinking the water we've left out for them each night. Lots of birds, bunnies and chipmunks running around our place, so we're confident our wily wildlife came through this ordeal unscathed. (But I'll sure be glad to see Jane and her babies sauntering up our driveway again!)

9:07 p.m. update: Jane and her 3-year old daughter Sugar showed up for cookies a little while ago! They looked and acted no worse for the wear... just hungry (as always!) :-) Hope to see their babies soon!

Mocha's still happily (and indefinitely) ensconced at Sue and Morris' and we're still waiting for the claims adjuster and trying to round up contractors and cleaning people. Less than 24 hours after we were first allowed to go check out the destruction, BW was ordered back to work lest he be fired - no pun intended. >:-(

Anyway, here are some photos. Click on them to enlarge. (The ones of the fire were taken by various people from various perspectives and most were forwarded to me by friends, so I don't always know who the photographer was)...

fire cresting Stumpy Ridge
Below is our neighbor's place, Spahn's Bed & Breakfast, just up the hill to the southwest of us. The house, an outbuilding and a few trees were saved but they lost the guest cabins and a couple of garages along with most of the surrounding forest.

Spahn's Bed & Breakfast
(Photo by David Withrow)

(Photo by David Withrow)

A before & after:
Our house on July 11, 2007...

our house on 7/11/07
And on Aug 15, 2007...

our house on 8/15/07
I'll post some more "aftermath" photos as soon as I can.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


It has come to my attention recently that our equine chum has been receiving scant blog attention, especially from the local paparazzi. :-) To rectify this unfair oversight, allow me to introduce Mocha, our 19 year old part Quarter Horse, part Thoroughbred, part Appaloosa sweetie who's shared our lives since he was born…

Mocha and wildflowers                  Mocha amid arrowleaf blooms on the trailhead to his pasture

springtime lope
There's nothing better than an early spring gallop!

mocha nappingUnless it's an early spring nap in the warm sunshine! ;-)

mocha with turkey
Hanging out with a wild turkey friend

mocha loping autumn
Enjoying a lope through the crisp autumn air

mocha bucking
Sowing his wild oats! :-)

frosty mocha
The fetching, fuzzy, frosty Mocha in winter

Monday, August 6, 2007

Park Reservoir

A few more photos from our outing in the Big Horn Mountains...

Bravo Whiskey on the Rocks
"BW on the Rocks" at Park Reservoir

La at Park Res
Willow, Tess & me as a thunderstorm blew in at Park Reservoir
(I love the sound of thunder rolling through mountains!)

on the beach
With the kids on one of Park Reservoir's sandy beaches.

The water was much warmer here than at Rapid Creek!

Rocks & Rapids

Here are a few photos from our family outing in the Big Horns last Thursday, during BW's vacation...

Under the Mushroom Rock
If anyone ever asks me what rock I crawled out from under,
this can be my answer! :-)
The Big Horns have intriguing and photogenic rock formations.
(Willow seems to find this one just plain amusing!)

Rapid Creek rapids
Some of the rapids of Rapid Creek

Josie Looks Upstream
I love this "Josie Eye View" looking down Rapid Creek!

Josie soaks while Willow checks
Josie just loves to soak her belly in various bodies of water,
no matter how cold they may be! And Rapid Creek is COLD!
(Willow, a concerned little nurse, checks her for hypothermia).

BW and girls
During our picnic lunch along Rapid Creek.
Can you tell from the clingy loyalty of his furry darlings
that BW is the one who's still eating? ;-)
I adore this sweet tableau of my cute family!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Some local flora...

And in this first photo, some local fauna, too! ;-) Here's BW with his bean patch...

B's beansThis is the first year we've tried growing beans and they seem to be doing really well. No actual beans yet, but lots of pretty bright red flowers that the hummingbirds sure enjoy!

The birds & chimpmunks are growing their own garden...

sunflowerJust one of many sunflowers that have grown this year from the seeds we put out for the wee critters!

A splash of color at Rapid Creek...

red sumac
One of the photos I took when we stopped for a picnic lunch at Rapid Creek in the Big Horns on our way up to Park Reservoir Thursday. More photos from that excursion in my next post!

Prayer flags

After posting about prayer flags at Shambhala, I was finally inspired to hang my own set! I'd bought them a couple of years ago in a fun, funky shop in Red Lodge, Montana that carried a lot of handcrafted goodies from Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India, but I could never figure out where to hang them. I was a bit intimidated by the fact they were five separate strings of flags rather than the more common single string! But we found a good spot and BW hung them on Monday (the second most auspicious day for hanging prayer flags according to Tibetan tradition... I was unwilling to wait for Friday, the #1 day), and they've been merrily fluttering away ever since, doing their colorful best to carry peace, happiness and wellness to all sentient beings. (It certainly makes me feel happy and peaceful watching and listening to them!)

prayer flags

And though I already posted this at Shambhala, and it will put my own little prayer flags to shame, this video is too pretty not to share again!

I'll return later with some more pics I've taken during BW's week of vacation. We didn't go anywhere, but there's plenty of photogenic subject-matter right here in our own back yard (if ya ask me!) :-)

P.S. Happy Birthday, Jo!!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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