MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016: Blog en-us (C) MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016 (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Wed, 05 Apr 2017 16:19:00 GMT Wed, 05 Apr 2017 16:19:00 GMT That Time of Year Since I've been joyfully watching many snow geese and swans fly over my home and watching them down on Lake Helena, I felt it was a good time to share again some photos from previous years at Freezeout.   I will say I think I have seen more around the Helena Valley this year than in previous and it makes me very happy.

We are happily getting ready for Spring (my garden bulbs are up and the crocus are already done blooming and there are buds on many bushes), not really enjoying the windy days and could use some moisture.  

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Wed, 05 Apr 2017 16:19:14 GMT
Eagle Patience and Rowdy Ravens

We were kind of hoping the eagle would take flight to get over to the carcass when the coyote left.  Nope, she ran her little legs off and high-tailed it over that way.  

Now these two spent a good half an hour flying around arguing about everything.   It was rather comical actually so I had to try to capture them.

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Sun, 26 Mar 2017 22:11:15 GMT
Coyotes on Carcass I warned you - if you are squeamish this might not appeal to you but I think all can appreciate that this is the way life goes in the wild.   We pulled off where there were a bunch of folks gawking at one of the marsh areas in the valley.   Then they were looking across the road.  What?   So we look over the edge of the parking area and right there at the bottom of the cliff is an old (as in been there a while) bison carcass with ravens and coyotes (there were 2) feeding on it.  Reports had it that there was a grizzly on it the evening before and early that morning but he was long gone.    The rangers that stopped by also said there were reports of up to 3 carcasses floating around in that general area.   We only saw the one although there must be food around as the wold spotter plane was finding wolves in the general area as well (again we didn't see them).   

I was very happy to see that, even though the winter we had was more normal than the mild ones we've been having, the coyotes looked in amazingly good health.    I'll share the tale of the very patient bald eagle and ravens next post.

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:36:05 GMT
Geyser Birds These two were quite a surprise as we walked up to the lower geyser basin at Mammoth and we heard birds.  Took a while to spot them and I was amazed they were playing around at the bottom of the springs.   Of course I didn't have the right camera but still was pretty happy with the shots I got.   I definitely have a new appreciation for their camouflage.

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:50:30 GMT
Yellowstone Bison

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:51:03 GMT
Yellowstone Pronghorn


]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Tue, 21 Mar 2017 18:17:22 GMT
Are You Ready for some Road Trip? Admittedly things have been pretty quiet and dark around our home for a while and I can say I was very much looking forward to my annual winter Yellowstone trip with my buddy Robin.   Unfortunately our original date picked ended up cancelled due to horrific weather so we backed it off a week and had fabulous roads and weather to o-dark-thirty!

The time change definitely benefited us as did the clear roads.   We saw scads of wildlife on the way down to the park and once in the park and as all good wildlife photogs know, by mid-day it all disappeared.  We headed home about 1:30 and both commented on how we were avoiding wildlife on the roads all the way in but there was nothing to be seen on the way home.   I have never had to avoid as much wildlife on the road as we did heading in - but we did AVOID it all so I was happy.

Am going to break this trip up into a number of posts and I will warn you the coyote and eagle posts coming up has them eating on winter kill so if that stuff makes you squeamish you may want to skip those - although in all fairness I was really happy with some of the results!

My photography goal this trip was to get back in the groove with my cameras (that went so-so) and to become friends with my tripod.   That also went so-so but I am at least getting used to what knobs do what and I'm pretty sure that even opened up it is more steady than my hand held.  I did take the opportunity to bump down my ISO (usually use 200 for my handheld stuff) and I will have to admit I didn't see a huge difference.  Especially in the stuff shot with my telephoto completely extended.   

So this first post is scenery for you and our "surprise" shot (wayyyyy off) of a young moose, which neither Robin nor I thought we'd ever see from the road in the Park.   Also, scenery is limited because as you probably guessed, only the winter roads are open - Mammoth and to Lamar.  


The photo below gives you an idea how far away we were from the moose - this is at 600mm.


We will take it!  LOL


]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Mon, 20 Mar 2017 01:34:35 GMT
Sadly Another Tribute The emotional toll that has been put on my household this past month has been huge.   Not 3 weeks after Bandit's passing, my Magic-man gave me the sign that he was really done with his broken physical body and I had to make the decision to help him achieve his wish while he still had his dignity intact.  I cannot still think about him being gone without tears in my eyes but I hold on to the words of my very good friend Adele who pointed out the "dignity" (especially with the other dogs around) he deserved.   It was hard to let him go but equally hard to see my retired agility dog barely able to stand much less walk (and he hasn't been able to jump or run for months).    So I sucked up my courage and but him and his wishes first and we spent mucho lap time on Sunday and Monday and his very last hour was spent out on the front deck in his spot on the patio swing with me in the sunshine.  That is where we let him go on.   I can only hope his spirit returns to give someone else as much joy as he gave me this past 15 1/2 years.

He came to me from a beloved (now gone) friend and breeder in ND named Lilian.   I called on her spirit on Sunday and Monday to come escort him to his next adventure as she had when she brought his little life into this world back in 2001. 

He was my very first conformation dog and finished his Championship in a hurry before he was even 2 years old and having only been shown 7 times.  Not a small accomplishment when his Mom didn't have a CLUE what she was doing!    He even gave me the opportunity to go into the group ring with him not once but twice.   He was a STUNNING example of the breed not only in appearance but also in his temperament.  After finishing that CH he went on to become my highest titled agility dog as well earning his Excellent/Masters titles in both Standard and Jumpers (preferred level).   My only regret in his life was that no one ever had interest in breeding their girls to him to continue his legacy.   So.....

I share his legacy in photos....


He was known for his "grin" that we taught him to do on the table (so having his mouth examined wasn't so traumatic).

Darned sisters beating up on him!

Love you my little man and I miss having you on my lap in the recliner!

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Wed, 15 Mar 2017 19:54:45 GMT
Trailer Update Can you tell I'm really getting excited about vacation?    

As you all have figured out I don't tend to "leave things alone" much as I find things that work in the trailer and don't work or can be improved.   I mentioned a few months ago that I was embarking on a new Ramp Project!    Again, I wanted a ramp that both humans and dogs could use and feel safe on.  No small task but I'm still happy with the aluminum ATV ramp that I found to use (no holes in it).   The old dog ramp as you might rmember, was great and  long enough for them BUT it make for about a shoe-wide step for humans and I'm getting old (quit laughing) and was not really happy with the risk associated with that teeny part of the step.  I also was becoming irritated at dealing with trying to jam the short expen fence behind the trailer step to keep dogs in (Epic and Dot)!   It was irritating when the place I parked was a bit unlevel (it wouldn't fit and I was not thrilled having to crawl on my hands and knees to do it (especially on cold wet muddy ground).

I got the ramp support made and was using clamps to hold it but really was concerned with the holding power they had (or didn't have).   This was Phase 1.

After pondering it all a bit and surveying the situation I came up with a non-clamped solution that I'm really happy with (after two trips to town for hardware).    Using the slots in the step I drilled 4 holes in the sides of the support and bolted them in - SUPER sturdy and just so you don't think I'm just a genius - I did the front ones thinking it would be enough and then discovered it might still tip forward from the top.  Back to town and the back holes were secured!

Next was a solution to the clamps holding the ramp onto the support.   Those worried me too with the poodle traffic as well as the fat Mom (me) that would be up and down it.    I will tell you now I am learning much about drilling holes in aluminum between this and my trailer.   There IS a right way and a wrong way!   Again, so you don't say "Sherry you are a genius" I at first dropped bolts in this which alone would hold it, but without something on the bottom of them I'd no doubt lose the suckers in between stops.    Clevis Pins and cotter pins were the answer (it needed to be easy and I really wasn't thrilled about screwing on nuts to bolts while upside down under the ramp.

The other issue I've yet to get resolved completely is the hinges to put the 2 halves of the ramp together.   Right now I'm using bolts and nuts but I'm hoping to find some long clevis pins I can use as I want an easy way to take it apart as 2 halves are a bit heavier to move than I'd like.  I also am going to put handles on each half to carry them (drilled into those outside edges).

Are you sensing a theme?   I'm trying to do what I can to make setup and take down as easy as possible.   Especially those days when you pull into camp and it is 100 degrees and I have a headache!  LOL   I also am not sure if I'm going to figure out something to put on the ramp for traction.  Will need to see how Dot and Magic manage it without (my preference).   The new under-step gating now will go around the front of the step and support and hook to the big expens on either side.

I also got busy and am trying a new way to secure the expens in the back of the trailer.   What I was doing was jamming them behind my benches and strapping them in.  That just wasn't working all that well to be honest.  I have also needed to up the expens to 36" tall after Epic determined 30" wasn't high enough.   What I am trying (may or may not work) is securing them to the ramp deck.   Easier to secure but adds about 50 pounds to the weigh lift to shut the tailgate.   So far so good and it wouldn't hurt me to beef up the arms anyway.

Still lots to get situated inside the trailer.  I also have some work to do in the front storage and hitch area.    I also have a new system I purchased to help me with hitching up.  Now yes, I can hitch up without help and do pretty darned well BUT twisting around to see the tailgate with dogs' heads and crates in the back of the truck etc. isn't always easy....or accurate.   I found the IBall system and after some research on other options, I decided to go for it.  I've not tested it yet (too cold to mess with hitching up just for that reason).    I liked it because it has its own camera and display (which is 12 volt) as I really just didn't want yet another app on my phone or ipad to deal with it.   This is independent and that is what I wanted - only need it when hitching so will go in the truck storage the rest of the time.

Speaking of the Ipad another think I wanted to get was a bigger better, not tethered to my cell signal, GPS.  In searching for an actual GPS with offline maps I was visiting with my ever geeky (it's a good thing) brother and he suggested the Sygic app - 7 day free trial.   What he did was bought a cheapo tablet (I didn't want it on my phone, I wanted a big enough screen to SEE) and put the app on it.    Screen is actually bigger than any of the actual GPS screens too.   I downloaded the app to just mess with it my one requirement being that I could easily create CUSTOM routes either in the app or on Google and download them.   This allows for both (although I've tested making them on the tablet and it works just dandy)!   I ordered a "cheapo" Android tablet which promptly had an issue with the speakers so it got returned (plus the Android operating system annoyed me since I've not got experience with Apple).    But my Ipad didn't have GPS and no way was I buying another Ipad (too expensive).  The whole idea here was to not spend $200+ on a GPS.   Geeky brother to the rescue again and I now have a handy dandy GPS Bluetooth unit that connects to my Ipad!

The Dual Electronics XGPS150A Universal Bluetooth GPS Receiver for Portable Devices  has tested out amazingly well and paired in with the Sygic app no problem.

I've got my maps saved off for my trip to Utah and home.   There are some great things in the app that I do like, there is a speedometer that shows up (no additional app needed for my truck which doesn't show the right speed because of the big tires), shows rest stops (and other points of interest you have selected) and the mileage to the next, gas stations, etc.  For $20 there is also a heads up display (for at night) and a dash cam.  Highly recommend clicking the link and checking it out!   Plus offline maps - no cell signal needed.   The little GPS as you can see will also work for hiking (with your phone) if you want.   Now to figure out what I want to use to secure the Ipad in my truck.

Yup, I'm all geeked out - what happened to the days when we traveled with no phones, no GPS, no connectivity, just a paper map (which I'm also taking by the way - just so you know)!   My new Ruggables came the other day and I have a fancy new gate being made for my expens but I will save those for a future update!  :)  It has now turned cold and snowy and I'm not inclined to go out and work in the trailer now till it warms up again!

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Thu, 09 Mar 2017 21:11:53 GMT
A Woofers Update & Food Change I've got a number of posts to do so decided to kind of split them up a bit here so I don't bore everyone.  This one is canine related (as you might have guessed).

MT Waggin-land is busy even with the loss of our beloved Bandit.   Hospice care still goes on for my other 2 seniors and Magic I am starting to see fail and don't think he will be with us terribly much longer either, but then, he may surprise me.   He just is struggling with losing his sight as well as instability in his rear legs and what I suspect is some CCD (canine cognitive disorder).   I already have a gut feeling he isn't going to be one that will go as peacefully as his brother.   So we take it a day at a time.   Dot meanwhile still plods along, totally blind and deaf but still up moving around and yelling for her food most mealtimes.  The photo below is BEFORE her bath and haircut - which everyone got a few weeks ago....

All the dogs got their first sun bathing chance out on the front deck recently and then, well it turned cold again.  Needless to say when the wood stove isn't burning, the heated dog beds (we have 3) are the favorite napping spots!    Luckily it was warm enough for me to get the front deck cleaned off (yes this IS cleaned off), the rugs laid out and the dog beds put down.  New "fencing" however was required after Dot walked right off the edge of the deck within her first 3 minutes.   It isn't an every day place so I'm sure she just doesn't remember.  So some short expen fence fixed that problem (with a couple of boards where it wouldn't reach.

The other bonus to warmer weather (and that most of the snow is gone now) is that the dog door is open for their convenience (after some repairs) and with a little shoveling and an hour of fence repairs, the "back 40" is also open for business (the poodles LOVE that!).   

My front yard is all melted off which is definitely a big bonus for training.  Epic is entered in both Rally (Excellent) and Novice Obedience in a few weeks so along with classes once a week we are desperately trying to get in some practice for that.   Still have a few hiccups in some areas and I have NO idea how he is going to handle switching gears from Rally one round (where I can talk to him and we do more "trick" stuff) to formal obedience the next (no talking).   We shall see.  I keep telling myself that if I can put a CD on a weimaraner and a xolo I can certainly manage it with a poodle!    We also have some agility coming up the weekend after that.  Nope, not one iota of practice but we are going to go have fun anyway and support the club!   I'm totally okay with the ensuing train wreck!

Sterling is all scheduled out for the next few months with his therapy visits and in the meantime is just hanging loose, playing some games and trying to get back at Epic for all the evil things he does to him when they are outside.  They are both thrilled I have the big yard opened up so they can run up there.  

Tinker is also doing really well.  Her skin is improving and then has setbacks but I feel we are on the right track.   She is goofy and silly and loves to go for rides, walks and REALLY loves to go in the bedroom and do trick training stuff.  She ALSO is in love with any visitors and especially Auntie Adele who did her first ever massage and JSJ session recently!

Our other big change has been in dog food.   I have friends (Nancy and Libby) who are impressive dog food diet experts.  Now I'm no dummy and I've gone back and forth with feeding raw to my dogs (and dehydrated raw) for many years.   It just wasn't something that I could sustain financially or time wise with the number of dogs I had.   With our numbers sadly dwindling and more and more options out there for feeding I decided to once again start evaluating what I was feeding.   Now I have to say that for the most part my dogs have lived long full healthy lives on dry kibble (super high quality) and are doing okay on what they get now (Petcurean brand) but I really felt I could do better and I knew that back when I was feeding dehydrated or raw they did even better.    I picked up a couple of books on canine nutrition and started reading.  I HIGHLY recommend these books (which were also recommended to me) and you can find them on Amazon (or other book sellers) as ebooks or print copies.   The first one is a great read for many of the stories she tells and the second is by Dr. Dodds, pioneering doctor for vaccination research and nutrition.   Neither are written in "medical-ese" as I won't read that stuff.


I made an appointment with friend Libby to discuss diet options and get some of my questions answered.    Tinker will be raw fed forever most likely as she is intolerant of so many ingredients that are dumped into dry kibble as fillers and such.   I took along Tinker's test results and also some general questions.   I had spent a week doing The Math to figure out if the raw prepared food (includes everything they need) would be cost effective vs what I would need to feed for super high quality canned food (yup, reading the books actually they recommend high quality canned) vs the kibble I was feeding.    The Math showed that to feed canned say to just the poodles was going to cost virtually the same as the suggested amount of raw they need (2% per pound of weight-ish to start).  Same was determined for The Math to feed the dehydrated food I use (NRG USA) and it too came out the same (will be great options for variety or travel though).   As for the kibble vs raw, well of course it is more....WAY more but I determined I could budget appropriately and be able to use kibble (something I learned was not the horrible thing we were told back in the day when raw feeding started - thanks Libby) for the times I can't afford to do raw, or that it just isn't convenient (like when we take our vacations and I don't have a place to put 40 pounds of frozen food).

I started with the little dogs and all but one was put on raw along with Tinker mid February.   The littles all switched over swimmingly so this month is our trial run for everyone!

Bonus alert, the poops are SERIOUSLY smaller (always good to have less poop patrol) once they get adjusted AND they don't stink to high heaven.    Read the books to learn why (all about that species appropriate diet).    I also learned from Libby that since I'm doing prepared raw vs the carcas feeding I was doing before I don't have to mess around with a ton of additional supplements and worry about imbalances.   Yes I still have some supplemental items I'm giving (fish oil, tumeric, coconut oil, pumpkin as needed for the ones that get stopped up easily) but they aren't every day and they are readily available.  Heck, I was doing those with their kibble anyway.

So not a sales pitch but I do think MAYBE I've found an option for feeding raw.  I will report back later on how things are going on that front.   Oh and if you wanted to know I'm feeding Northwest Naturals raw - made in the USA.   Something I've fed the nuggets of off and on since they came out.   Am also every other week or so adding some Answers Raw Cows or Goats Milk to everyone but Tinker (who is super sensitive to any dairy including yogurt).    To get some of that good nutrient in her system Libby recommended Marine Phytoplankton (you will read about that in the books above too) since any dairy seems to set her off.

My other hope is that food without all the preservatives and chemicals might also help Louie.   He's been a challenge with some of his emotional stuff (quite hyperactive at times) so we shall see what happens there.   It has already helped Teddy with much of his anxiety that I was seeing  before (and have for years).   Time will tell and I promise to spare you any poop pictures!  LOL   Everyone always says my pets eat better than I do!  

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Wed, 08 Mar 2017 17:29:08 GMT
Away Too Long & a Tribute It is Sunday morning and it is quiet both inside and outside so I'm going to take a moment to write something and post some photos.  Again, life has gotten crazy and my blog suffers so here goes.

I will not complain that life is busy but it sure would be easier with the nasty sinus infection I'm fighting and if my back wasn't out.   Boohoo me!   Still things have to be done and honestly, I've been away from the blog mostly because the canine care here had to be ramped up substantially in February and sadly I lost my beloved Bandit a week ago.   I was determined to let him pass on his own terms as long as he wasn't in pain but as many of you know when hospice turns into active end of life care, it is exhausting.   Yet still taking care of the rest of the pack and trying to take care of me.   He did pass peacefully but the emotional toll on me resulted, yup, in my body revolting with sinus infection and bronchitis afterwards.

So here is a little tribute to my helicopter tail....

Bandit came to us in 2003 as a show prospect.  A true hairless crested (hard to find) with the most spectacular skin - till the very end - I had hopes of showing him but honestly, the chaos of the show ring was just too overwhelming for him.   He really just wanted to be him and so he was.   He instantly became my Mom's favorite lap companion.  He always had to spin around numerous times though before he'd get up in a lap.  He just was a circular kind of guy, his tail wagged in circles and circling was what he did anytime he was undecided.

He was one of my most avid sun worshipers and would almost always end up with pink and red spots instead of white for a bit every spring.

Bandit was ill off and on for a number of months but he always seemed to want to rally back if only for a while and I always still saw that sparkle of life left in his eyes.  I knew the Monday before he passed that he was done as the light was gone.  He was tired of fighting and his frail little body was shutting down.   Tuesday though he got some energy work from his Auntie Adele which he peacefully enjoyed.  (sorry for the crap Iphone picture - I'm finding that when it switches to HDR then the downloads suck)

Thursday night and Friday evening he spent quiet quality time with his forever buddy Dot and rocking with me in the recliner.  Friday night I laid him in bed with Dot and she gently licked him and laid down right beside him.  By morning he was gone, peacefully in the very same position I'd put him in the night before.

I miss him terribly and still look for him to be laying in one of the beds in his lizard jammies - a habit after 13 1/2 years.   His ashes will be put on the flower bed this spring with all my other dogs that have passed before him.   I miss you little buddy!

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Sun, 05 Mar 2017 18:53:29 GMT
The Thaw Has Begun We finally are starting to warm up!  YAY!   Last week Wednesday was the last single digit temp we have seen in almost a week (it was a whopping 3 degrees and -10 with the windchill).   So what did we do - went for a snowshoe walk of course!    I cannot believe that after a winter of actual snow it was the first time I'd been out.  Silly!   I convinced my friend Lori to bind up and come with the poodles and I after I had tried to hike the trail at the reservoir on Sunday with little success.    Then I got really crazy and since I had the day off on Friday I went back and it was aweful.  The snow was soft and slick and boy was my hip screaming by the time I was done.   Oh well, lesson learned....

Thought I'd share some of the proof with you that we actually did it (phone photos)...I am the one in the red coat (thanks Lori for the photo).

Make sure you turn up the volume and not only listen to me laughing but the conversation about what is going on.  Only about a minute and a half here.

These were from Friday.

I am so glad I did it and now also have found a snowshoe buddy.  Sterling wasn't that trilled with the trek so Friday he stayed home to babysit the little dogs.  He does that well.  Speaking of little dogs, Bandit is indeed still with us and after removing one of his meds seems more interested in eating.  I don't believe it he is long term but he might surprise us all.

As you can guess the dogs are really loving that the weather is warmer and most of all SUNNY!  We don't get a ton of sun in the house yet but they take every ray they can find.

With the warmer weather I decided this weekend I really wanted to start getting at least a few things marked off the travel trailer improvements list.  One biggy was to revamp the entrance ramp.   You might remember I had been using this one and the dogs could use it but the humans had to use about 1/3 of the step that was left.   For both me and my Mom that was getting a tad dangerous to do.

What I really wanted to do was get a ramp that humans AND dogs could use.  So around the holidays Harbour Freight had some smoking good deals and coupons and they had an all aluminum ramp used for loading 4 wheelers or motorcycles.   I knew that would support the humans (me).   It had been sitting in the box since then because it was too cold to deal with it.  I knew I needed to redo the wood support on the step to use it.   This was the end result of my weekend project and I'm pretty happy with it.  I will likely get something to put on the ramp for traction since I don't think the little dogs will be able to get up it without something.  I am thinking I will also do some other type of attachment of the wood support to the step, the clamps work but after a few poodle runs up and down I am worried they will come loose.   I can use the chain (came with it) to run behind the step and secure it for the time being though.  Haven't taken the time to figure that part out yet.   The lip on the ramp will be clamped to the support though.  The ramp will fold in half for transport and I also think I need to find a handle system to move it as it is a little ackward.

Still many things on the list for before I get back on the road but that is one item checked off.   Still need to get a new poly mat for ground cover, new shade cloths to use with the awning and xpens (found that what I have isn't quite big enough).  I also have I "think" found a GPS navigation option that I'm going to try out.   I'm a Google Maps fan but not for GPS because I like to go MY way and there isn't anyway to get that on to the phone.   I'll update on how that all goes once all the parts show up.   I've also ordered two more Ruggable rugs to put inside the trailer.  After getting 2 for my house and seeing how AMAZING they are I decided to get a couple for my trailer.  I highly recommend them - they don't move and the tops can be washed and dried (they dry super fast just hanging on the line).   They aren't cheap but big bulky rugs that cannot be washed aren't a good investment either.   

Epic and I start class this week to get him and I prepared for obedience competition the end of March.   I'm staying positive and mailed off the entries today.  Eeeks!    I always do better if I have some motivation to practice......

Last week I also attended a great viewing of PET FoolED ( and while a great deal of the information I already knew there was a lot I didn't know.   It wasn't "preachy" and is done as a documentary to educate.   For most of the room it did!   We also had a great conversation with 2 ladies who drove up from Bozeman and answered any questions anyone had about feeding their dogs and cats (mostly dog people there but a few cat owners too).  I learned a lot and got a couple more books to read.   Very educational evening and I am so glad I went.

Work is rolling along.  Lots to do for sure and I just want to keep motoring along.  Having vacation to look forward to really helps.

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Tue, 14 Feb 2017 01:53:16 GMT
February Already? How can that be? Where my January is ordinarily very quiet, it has been busy here and the month FLEW by!   I am not complaining and I always figure once we hit Valentines Day, Spring isn't far off - no matter what Phil says!    We definitely still have winter but that isn't stopping Epic and I from getting out and getting our walkies in.  Sterling joined us for a couple of the warmer days but as I noticed years ago, as much as he wants to join in initially (as in getting out the door) he just doesn't enjoy it much and ends up dragging behind me by the time we head home (and we aren't walking that far).  I don't like him behind me where I cannot see him so he stays and watches over the littles for the most part.    I can say though that I've really enjoyed being able to take a break and walk when I am working from home and there have been some marvelously sunny but cold days as well as some foggy, inverted, cloudy not so lovely days.   My goal isn't to lose weight but to get my stamina back after a year of injuries that sidelined me from most everything - walking, agility, hiking, you name it.  It is SLOW progress but I am determined to get back in some shape before vacations start.

You are stuck with not so great iphone photos for this round as I don't haul the big camera with on our walks.

I really think this is Epic's favorite season of all and note the piece of firewood I gave him to haul around.  He managed to keep track of it for 2 weeks of walks and just yesterday, dropped it (Mr. Distracted) and couldn't find it back.  Oh well!  That is why we take sticks and not toys.

Work has been crazy busy but I like that for the most part.   Definitely makes the days go faster.

The other dogs are doing well. Tinker is getting some clicker training for fun and to get her to realize she CAN think.   My 3 oldest have been well, a challenge.  Bandit has been seriously ill over the last month and I will admit it has been exhausting trying to figure out what he will or can eat.  He is really emaciated and I think as of yesterday he is fading away from us.   He isn't in pain and I am trying to basically keep things calm and somewhat quiet in the house.   He's still drinking as of this morning but the only thing he'll even think about eating are a few pieces of dried turkey treats.    Dot has been dealing with issues with her neck.  Because she is so blind and deaf, she tends to run into things or get run into.   That put her neck out of whack, which we seem to have stabilized with chiropractic and acupuncture.   So blessed to have so many talented health professionals and friends in my life.   Thank goodness right now everyone else is pretty stable health wise.   Needless to say, sunny days are a favorite but they are soaking up the wood stove heat the other days.

Needless to say that keeps me close to home for now and that is okay.     I've been working on my knitting, doing some reading and have this week picked back up some of my Zentangle drawing.   I had one design that I was really struggling with since day one so I really just avoided it.  Last night I decided by golly I was going to figure it out and I did.   Auraknot is now doable and I am going to spend some time working with it to help increase some of my creative works - I'm good at copying others or using their designs to help me but not that great at thinking outside my box.  I also struggle with shading - where it is most tangler's favorite thing - not so much for me - so last night I decided to start adding some color instead.  Here are a few of the results.

February is already going to start with a bang.  Next week has a vet appointment out of town for Tinker for a followup, brunch with the girls, an agility party, and who knows what else.   Oh yeah and work - but only 4 days as I have to start taking a day off now and then or lose my vacation time.  Plans are in the works for a trip to Yellowstone in the future as well so something fun to look forward to as well, just not this week (as we are supposed to get more snow too!).

Tata for now peeps - hope you are warm and cozy and doing well!

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Sat, 04 Feb 2017 19:42:17 GMT
Shock Surprise - Saved the Best for Last The last of my wildlife shots and I don't even care that it was at a big distance because anyone that shoots wildlife knows, seeing the wild cats is rare!   So this was a true honor to drive down the road, see a jeep with flashers going stopped.  I slowed down and saw a guy with a camera down at the fence (I have no idea how he did that and didn't scare this youngster away).  So I stopped and shot out my truck window figuring that the chance of me getting down with him (let's face it not all photographers want you horning in as well) and not losing the shot was pretty slim.

So welcome to my very first ever BOBCAT!   Looks like a young one and honestly it hung around WAY longer than I figured it would.  The tree it picked to peek around though did give us stinky shadows to deal with but I'll take it!   Truly blessed and the Wildlife Whisperer friend strikes again!  Cannot wait to haul her off to Yellowstone again in a few months!  :)

I cannot pick a favorite since this was such an amazing experience so you get them all.  Some more clear than others because, well, the noise comes in when shooting so far away.  What an incredible animal!!!!!!

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Fri, 20 Jan 2017 15:51:53 GMT
Oh My Deer I loved his pose below but wasn't thrilled I cut off his legs so did another shot (the last one) to make me feel better!  haha

And the massive herd of elk we also saw (they were quite a ways away and the sun was already behind the  mountain), so handed my friend the camera (her side of the truck) and let her shoot.  Good job Robin.

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Wed, 18 Jan 2017 18:51:35 GMT
Here Sheepy Sheep The first wildlife finds of our trip home.   We spent quite a bit of time photographing these guys (they are terribly used to people) and I was very proud of the dogs as not a one of them barked.   So afterwards we went over to the campground across the road and let them run for a bit.  Was windy and the wind chill was bad to didn't run too long!

I have a boatload of shots of these bighorn sheep so I'll try to just show you some of my favorites and you can always go to the Wildlife Collection/Mammals/Big Horn Sheep gallery to see the others.   The babies were adorable and the boys are still somewhat in breeding mode.  Of course I missed the ONE head butt we saw.  :(

This one below is definitely one of my favorites of the bunch!  I am thrilled I had my depth of field set right!  
Doesn't that collar just look like a pain in the neck?   The light was just perfect on this girl when she stopped.



]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:10:54 GMT
Saturday Great Falls I was starting to feel a little housebound and had ordered food for Tinker from a friend in Great Falls.   So when the opportunity came up that I could get out and drive up there with another friend (the wildlife whisperer one) on a day that was supposed to be sunny and warm (well warm up there) I took it.   

We have been stuck with a stinky (and it is) inversion in our Helena Valley and while the rest of the state seems to be benefiting from the chinook winds and warming up we haven't broken the single digits in the past week.  It sucks!   So when we left town about 10 a.m. it was -12 in the valley.   Just to show how crazy it is, within 50 miles (up over the mountains) the temperature jumped 50 degrees.   When we arrived in Great Falls the wind was howling but it was 35 degrees and since we arrived about an hour early we decided to go see about some photos up at Giant Springs State Park.

Great idea - freaking freezing cold.  The wind coming  off the river was not only enough to blow you over but it was frigid.  Enough that I think we made the photo rounds in record time (like 10 minutes) and were relieved to get back into the warm truck with the poodles and Tinker.    Still some shots were taken and well even a few were worth sharing (I may have been shivering too much to make the other clear).

I kind of thought this one below looked like maybe she was giving him directions!  LOL

A looooong lunch with my friends and good food and a marvelous time was had by all.  We didn't leave town until 2:30 and by golly it was 45 degrees there!   So we decided to drive home on the Recreation Road for a more scenic view and see if we could get some scenery photos and maybe some wildlife.  BOY did we see wildlife and I will show you those shots in another post since I really need to figure out which ones are favorites to share.  Meanwhile here is one o the Missouri River shots.  Those are ducks and geese skittering away on the water.

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Sun, 15 Jan 2017 16:57:30 GMT
It Can Pause Now I am officially ready for a pause in the shoveling of snow!   The past 2 days our weather has been horrid and I'd love to say I was able to just stay in but nope!   While I had plans to work from home, Monday morning Teddy had to go in to the vet for surgery.  As I'm driving home, and after 10" of new snow overnight, it started dumping RAIN!   The weatherman was right in that prediction (but his timing was way off).  During the day I sat at my computer and watched numerous snow storms roll through, most of which put visibility down to less than a mile.  Teddy got out of surgery fine and I could pick him up after 3 p.m. (so I didn't have to deal with 4-5 traffic in town) so in I went with plans to stop at the grocery store for a few items.  Driving in, big flakes and no visibility.  Took 45 minutes for an otherwise 20 minute drive, but by golly I am SO HAPPY to have my 4WD truck!   Tuesday dawned looking like the weather was going to be much calmer.  Well it was, until I came home from my doctor appointment in the afternoon and we had a blizzard conditions again with no visibility.   I can tell you I will be so happy to see warmer weather and sunshine this weekend - even if we do blow away in the process (chinook winds predicted).

Enough of the crappy weather report!   On to some show and tell.    I had seen a wall hanging design online done with snapshot photos that I thought might work well for me to get my Zentangle out where I could enjoy it.  No point doing them and stuffing them all in a box.   I think it is kind of fun actually.




I really love the little LED copper wire lights and was able to find some clips in the sewing/knitting section of the craft store to hang the cards with.   Amazing how much light they put off that is for sure.   Not sure but I may in the end, move the clock back on a wall I had it at Christmas time and re do that section of lights, we shall see.

I also finished a couple of my yarn projects.   My first infinity scarf (knitted on circular needles) was successful, well for the most part.  I only had one dropped stitch I had to fix.


Then I decided that with the leftover yard it would be fun to try some fingerless mitts.   I wasn't really wanting to knit them as the yarn is light and soft and I wanted them to have a little bulk.   So I got back out on Pinterest and found a pattern for crochet ones.  Yup, looks like knitting but it isn't.  Dig out those afghan hooks people, that is how you do this and I absolutely loved how it turned out.   I really do like crochet better as it isn't as hard to rip out and fix problems as knitting is.



There was some ripping out in the thumb area as the pattern really did just a crochet in the round with no shaping - or at least not enough for my taste.   Still not quite happy with it but it will work.    And yes, this is the pair, I did the color changes on purpose.

Although we had amazingly crappy weather later in the day on Tuesday, I did feel the need to get out for a walk with Epic.   There was no wind at lunch time and although it was cold it wasn't too bad.   So on with the dog booties and my snow boots and we went down the road and back.  Boy oh BOY does that boy love the snow and he ran and ran and ran (okay so it has been a while).   We even came home and did a short round of frisbee in the front yard.






A little fetching with my headband totally made his day!

By the end of the walk I had one snowy boy (thank goodness for that tight curly waterproof hair).

These were two of my favorite shots of the lunch hour.

We both enjoyed the time outside and the exercise and other than the dripping wet dog I had once in the house it was totally worth it!   The other poodle and dogs prefer to stay inside. 


]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:05:54 GMT
Snugged In Yup we are still in the deep freeze here in the valley.  I think we barely broke zero the past four days so the wood stove has been fired up and roaring all but yesterday when I had to go into the office.   I am officially into the back pile of wood and think come Spring I will be working on getting the cut logs stacked and figure out if I need to buy wood.   Honestly though this has been a bit more typical winter except that it started later.

Thankful for being able to work from home and have the wood stove to help with the power bill!  It also is very helpful with having older dogs that often seem to have "bad days" which are easier to manage and keep watch over when I am home.  Okay and the energy at the office is just too toxic for me and I'm still HATING the new office chairs and desk as it makes my back hurt.


Meanwhile vacation plans are solidifying.  I'm a trip taker on the off season, just don't like dealing with people on my VACATION.   I am so early that one of the campgrounds called me to finish my reservation saying I was the first for the next season.  I laughed (they are in Idaho) saying that is what we do when we are stuck inside in the cold and snow of winter!

I have two trips later in the spring planned, one of which will be to meet up with my family for a week of camping and sightseeing in S. Utah.  Kodachrome Basin seemed like a great spot to camp, has hookups (with the old dogs it is just easier to have power) and was able to reserve it.  While the nation loves to go "do" the National Parks I am not a fan of their campgrounds of no hookups and first come first serve.  My vacation time is precious and honestly I don't want to drive a long distance and find I have to place to camp.   Plus the dogs become more of an issue in those situations.   I've not had any experience with Utah State Parks but hope they measure up to the marvelous Oregon ones!   I will be splitting up my trip down and back and staying each way north of Salt Lake City at the Willard Bay State Park, hoping to catch part of the migratory birds that frequent the Migratory Bird Refuge there and maybe even Antelope Island (second choice).


My second vacation is a photo trip to the Tetons.   Not quite comfy camping on BLM that time of year I did reserve a spot at the not very well rated KOA and have decided if it is aweful and the weather is decent we will go boondock and I'll eat the reservation.  No big deal.  A friend is going to travel with and we will do 2 days down, 4 days there and then high tail it back probably all in one day.    I've not been there since I was 10 and remember nothing of the area.  I know the scenery will not disappoint!   I had no idea how difficult it would be to find a place to camp in that area - it is just as difficult if not more so than Glacier, based on the limited season, although the Tetons has a great deal more Forest Service and BLM land around it to escape to.   I can tell you most of the pay camping wants premium (like $100 night) prices and is really limiting when it comes to your traveling pets.   Well, okay then!  We are self contained, but not knowing what weather we might have I don't want to plan on boondocking and get stuck someplace because we are snow or rained in.   This way we have a chance to check out a couple places and see what works with at least the first night where we can charge the battery and fill up with water and empty tanks.   Will see how it goes.


Of course I still will have to make my annual day trip to Yellowstone this winter.   Looking forward to that for sure and taking my wildlife good luck charm friend with me!  

Meanwhile we will stick close to home and hope for some weekends of decent weather to maybe to drive around a bit looking for photos!  TGIF people!


]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Fri, 06 Jan 2017 21:22:02 GMT
Clean off the Cameras I was trying to capture some of the birds this morning and then got to looking and I noticed once again I had photos hanging out on the cameras that I didn't download.  Since the weather is "frightful" outside as it is blizzarding and blowing and well, just a great day to sit inside with the dogs in my flannel jammies and ring in the new year!  haha  You can tell by the small birds (who are emptying my feeders) that it is just cold and miserable.   I actually bought TWO bags of chips for them as they are going through it so fast.   I also have had the pair of downy woodpeckers here visiting the suet and tried to capture the flicker here this morning but as always he's too fast.  No hairy woodpeckers here which is unusual.

I do love the look of the finches with their red heads especially when the colors are so gray outside.

Backing it up though I also found some photos from way back in November, before our first snows of my raspberry bushes that this year just would NOT give up their leaves.   I thought I'd share that splash of color with you too (it isn't all about white and gray here).   I really loved the lighting on the first one with the frosty-ness.

As I said it has been a while since I looked at the cameras and I found these photos of our first snowy walk down at the river.   The little dogs were LESS than impressed with the wet and cold and snow and poor Tinker ended up being carried in the end (and then took off for the truck without us - bad girl).   They "tolerated" the required group shot (and honestly it is much better than I thought it would be at the time) and I got some poodle posing when they were up on a hill from me.

Not sure what I was thinking but Tinker did manage a "post photo" - as you can tell she was not that thrilled either.   I don't capture many shots of Louie (he will turn and run the other way) but did get one.

That was pretty much the last walk we had then it got cold and holiday busy!    Spring will come and honestly, I can already tell the days are getting longer!  Woop!    So from our cold snowy wind blown house to yours - Happy 2017!

]]> (MTWaggin Photos & Blog 2016) Sun, 01 Jan 2017 20:10:34 GMT