MTWaggin Photos & Blog: Blog https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog en-us (C) MTWaggin Photos & Blog mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) Mon, 12 Sep 2022 15:29:00 GMT Mon, 12 Sep 2022 15:29:00 GMT I Am Still Here! https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/9/i-am-still-here Just really busy - as you might guess.   With my brother's visit winding down we are scrambling to finish up projects and get some of the other things accomplished that we wanted.   Since it got blazing hot shortly after he arrived AND stayed that way, some of the items on our lists were put off - some indefinitely.

So hang in there with me peeps - I do have things to share (if my memory can go that far back) and photos but with Fall literally at our doorstep I'll just leave you with a few reminders of one of my favorite seasons (Fall and Spring).    I am so so so happy that the heat has finally broken but the smoke we are dealing with right now is not pleasant.    

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/9/i-am-still-here Mon, 12 Sep 2022 15:29:09 GMT
July 19-31, 2022 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/7/july-19-31-2022 Yup lost a week but I have good reasons.    I believe I left off my last post with the impending arrival of my brother and Gizmo.  Well they made it and the result was well a little chaos in our world here of course.   

I got my brother all set up in his trailer and settled in for a week of work and I got Gizmo started on settling into his n ew digs as well.    He was a bit stressed with all the changes and the travel so we had a week of getting to know him, getting him on our feeding menu and schedule (which wasn't exactly his cup of tea) and settling him into his new cage for daytime and new local for nighttime.   See I've started putting both parrots in the back room where I can make sure it is quiet and dark for a set amount of time each night.   Helps keep them happier and healthier too (or at least that is the hope).    

Because crazy happens, 4 days after his arrival we did have a wildfire evacuation scare.   No we didn't end up evacuating but we did go through prep!    There was a fire literally on the back side of the mountain I live on and they did evacuate from the top down the other side so we weren't taking any chances and hey, just got some of the prep done for our trip - a bit early.

The week flew by as we also prepared for our annual camping adventure up to Logan State Park for a week of paddling and recharging (no cell signals, no wifi - YAY).  

Kent  took his trailer and I took mine of course along with all the dogs and both the parrots   This was Iago's second trip and Gizmo's first.   I was trying out version 2.0 of the enclosure setup for Iago which did end up morphing about 3  times during the week.  Gizmo did great but both were really happy to see their big cages and home routine  when  we got home.  

The week was fabulous but furnace blast hot!   Thank God for the a/c in the trailers and cool nights (we had electric hookups  for that very reason).    The drive up was long and the traffic was nutso as it also was on the way home.   Gas prices are not keeping folks home based on our  experience.....cars and boats were out in full force!

We celebrated Kent's birthday on Wednesday and ya know, sitting in the a/c in the afternoons  just allowed for naps to charge us for our early morning paddles, some evenings spent at the boat launch letting Epic swim and a few games of cribbage.   The lakes were full and the biting bugs were out in force.   

We did take one hot afternoon and loaded up in the air  conditioned truck for a short explore around the area though.  The ONE thing I did forget was the MT Gazateer so we didn't explore off the beaten path as much as we normally do.  Still it was fun and we found a nice spot for a picnic.

Taking today (Sunday) and just chill-axing with the house a/c running (it is supposed to be 100 here again today and tomorrow) but blessedly it is cooling off enough to open windows at night - even though not  for long.   The gardens and the lawns are crispy so I'm watering like crazy now as the heat and the wind suck out every spare drop we had.   That said here are the last of our camping photos!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/7/july-19-31-2022 Sun, 31 Jul 2022 21:37:15 GMT
Week of July 10, 2022 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/7/week-of-july-10-2022 Another week has FLOWN by and I can't believe we are past 1/2 way through July.   Not to worry, the hot weather finally caught up with us although I can't complain too much since the air conditioner is in and is working!    Anyone else find that their personal thermometers change as they age?

There were however some really lovely mornings where I got to spend some time on the deck with my coffee during a break. 

The first part of the week was busy running back and forth to town for appointments because apparently I can't spread them out.  Monday I had a BEZT appointment, Tuesday Epic had his rehab appointment (he's doing well but is THE worst acupuncture patient ever) and Wednesday I was back for a chiro appointment.   Did want to get them out of the way knowing my brother would be arriving on Sunday and we'd be busy this coming week getting things lined up for our camping trip.   

I was very glad I got most of the outside stuff done before the heat so most evenings were in the a/c in the house.   Friday afternoon I was tasked with the Great Blanket Rush at the college for the symphony the next night.  It is free but if you donate $5 to the Boy Scouts you can go find a spot for your blanket Friday afternoon.  I did that as a friend decided to come down from Whitefish to go with me.  I should have had the camera as it was quite the sight to see.   But I got our spot!

Saturday (after a harrowing trip down) I picked up my friend and we headed to the concert (Symphony Under the Stars) which is a benefit for our local Food Share.   We arrived and immediately saw the big dark cloud heading our way.   Now you need to understand - somehow in all the SUTS years they have NEVER been rained out.   Not this year!   Rain, thunder, lightening and WIND right when the concert was to start.   We stuck it out (knowing it wasn't going to stick around) and were drenched (and cold) by the time it was over.  But hey - it cooled off!   Concert started 90 minutes late (9:30) which we knew meant we wouldn't be done till midnight (rather than 10:30).   It was great fun and they announced they BEAT the 22,000 (yup you read that right) of food donations that were their goal - by 2,000 pounds - a TON PEOPLE!   Pretty freaking amazing.

See the blankets hanging on the fence after the soaking?  The fireworks after was as always absolutely spectacular as well.   Late night and I'm telling you now, this old lady felt like I was hung over the next day (since it was 12:45 before I got home and 1:30 before I got to sleep).   All in all it was great fun and the blanket rush wasn't nearly as bad as I had made it out in my head.  You just can't be picky about where you end up.

Sunday back to town for brunch with my friend before she left for home and running of a couple errands.  My brother (and Gizmo) were arriving that night.   They pulled in about 9 pm and I was glad I had Kent's trailer pretty much set up so he could nuke some food I'd made and hit the hay after a 15 hour driving day.   

This morning back to work and Gizmo is settling in.   I'll share this photo that his first Mom took before he left and will share more on his adventures in a few weeks (probably no blog next week peeps as we prep to go camping).     He's super sweet, got out and had coffee with me this morning (indoors) and is now hanging out in his new cage and apparently really likes the radio as he is chatting away out there right now.   Great big thanks to his Baby Mom, Carol for meeting my brother 1/2 way on Saturday to pick him up and HUGE thanks to Kent for doing transport and care for him (even though he has no parrot experience).   

Thanks to Sue for the note and all who are reading "incognito"!  <3

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/7/week-of-july-10-2022 Mon, 18 Jul 2022 17:09:44 GMT
Week of July 3, 2022 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/7/week-of-july-3-2022 I will not lie, it has been another busy week but  honestly I can't complain.   I realize it is Montana and am trying to squeeze 12 months of stuff into 3-4 months...while the weather is nice.  

July 4th wasn't anything too exciting but I was able to get the BBQ grill put together.   Oh so many pieces but I got it done in a couple of hours.  I have decided after the fact to remove one of the side tables though as it is just a bit too big in the space I have on the deck.   Haven't gotten a propane bottle for it yet but that is on the agenda for the coming weeks.

The weather has been cool  (but that isn't supposed to last) and stormy.  The afternoon thunderstorms have been pretty epic with high winds in some,hail in some and heavy rains in most.  Not that the rain is bad mind you, this is the greenest I've seen our valley in July for probably 10 years.   However I did drag the air conditioner out of the garage in prep for the mid to upper 90s they are predicting this coming week (hoping they are wrong but hey).

We just won't talk about the mowing I am behind on at the moment!

I also ticked a few chores off the to-do list (yup gotta have a list but interesting it never seems to get SHORTER).   A run to the recycle with the months and months of carboard I had piled up.  Check.   New parrot playgym project completed one evening.  Check.   Also got a new T stand built as well with the "extras".  Youi know you have too many PVC projects when you go through all the parts you have and don't have to buy anything but some sticks of PVC to build all this.

Iago isn't as impressed as I am with it but we'll monkey with some of the toys and see how she does.  I have managed to coax her onto all of the different parts and have already found  I needed to adjust the plan and move that center post to the other corner for stability.    It'll give her something to move around on when in my office - if she so chooses (mostly she doesn't).

Dogs and parrot have had outside time pretty much every day. I bring them all in once it looks stormy or if it is just too hot out back with no breeze.   I makes for tired monsters.

Oh yeah AND I got two poodles bathed and groomed (over two evenings).  Since is it supposed to get hot they both got shaved down close to help keep them cooler.   They hate the process but I think feel so much better when all that hair is gone.   

The other item on the list was to get my brother's trailer uncovered and de-winterized and opened up for his arrival in another week or so.  Did that early one morning when it was cooler and not windy as that gigantic tarp is nothing to mess with in the wind!   Pat me on the back for remembering to mark the front and back sides of the tarp and put directions on the photo on my phone so we know how to unroll it in the Fall.    It's pretty musty inside but I do think we were successful avoiding mouses over the Winter.  YAY (wish I'd been that lucky in my truck where I had to run my trap line again this week).    Next week need to remember to start his fridge and then it should be good to go till we head out  for our camping trip.

Meanwhile I'm still tweeking Iago's cage in my trailer and decided to ditch the microwave I don't ever use (it is so tiny it doesn't work well anyway).   A good vacuum and shake oiut the rugs with all the pasture dirt and weeds and am starting another round of treating my water tank for the algae that is in it.   Think a hardware store run is in the future to get some plumbing supplies so maybe I can pump out the tank without having to run it through all the plumbing which will allow me to bypass running the bleached water through my water pump and faucets and the like.   We will see...bleach water is sitting in there now and then will have another round of bleach, see where we are then 2 rounds of vinegar and multiple rinse rounds before we camp again.   We shall see what happens.   I need to do some other tank cleaning anyway so that will be on the list for this next week....along with 4 days of other appointments to mark off.

That's pretty much the long and short of it this week.   Just keep chugging along and here we are 1/2 way through July and on the downhill side of the year already.  Wowsa.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/7/week-of-july-3-2022 Sun, 10 Jul 2022 22:21:39 GMT
Week of June 26, 2022 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/7/week-of-june-26-2022 I cannot believe we are through June already!   Eeeks!   After the craziness at work of last week I was so happy that I had plans for only working one day this week.  Instead I decided escape was the answer and escape I did!

I took off Monday night after work and headed to a friend's ranch about 3 hours from here for a few days of doggie games and just kicking back and relaxing.   I had signed up Thing 1 (Josie) and Thing 2 (Oliver) to participate in a workshop for NASDA (North American Sport Dog Association) and have about 3 tries at finding rats (safely in box cages) that were hidden.   I was hedging my bets thinking that if they were going to be interested in any of the 3 events held it would be rats (the others were finding personal items and hunting for shed antlers).

Yup we even loaded up Iago and took her on her first camping trip.   She road in her acrylic carrier (remember those training  sessions in an earlier post) and although it took me quite a while to get her in to leave we got it figured out by the time we came home.    It was strapped on the end of the bed over the wheels to eliminate bounce and then when we arrived she went in her camping cage.   Yes I did discover I need to do some tweeking to that but the travel crate worked well and I was able to use my sensor thermometer to monitor the temps back there as we traveled.   

We boondocked without hook ups out in my friend's pasture and I was so thankful for having brought the generator (only way to run the air conditioner) and extra gas.    I also discovered we still haven't fixed the trailer furnace - well we have but it doesn't work for cold MT nights.   More to work on there.

We had a lovely view and we had some SHOCKING weather.   It's MT and it is June and the thunderstorms that came through 2 evenings were no joke!   Thunder, lightening, dumping rain, driving wind and hail.   I was so happy I wasn't parked broadside to the wind (thank god) and that I had earlier put down the back stabilizer jacks (we were still hooked up to the truck).  I also saw the worst one coming so had stuffed things  under the trailer, closed up the truck topper and rolled in the awning.   It was a harrowing 30 minutes for sure and the temps dropped 20 degrees in 10 minutes flat.  

Still the views were pretty spectacular as you can see.    On to the dog sports.....

Tuesday we had  some fun games seeing what all the dogs (mine and my friend's dogs) might be interested in.  She and her husband have such a lovely place and a green area around their home that is fantastic (Epic wants to be adopted as they have a pond and a creek).   

Josie and Oliver took a go at finding my personal items (not tracking me - finding them where someone else placed them).   Both kinda got it.  On to antlers....they were less interested.   It was great as we were throwing them but neither were interested enough to even pick em up.  I'm calling that a fail.   Lastly we did rats.  We tried them together initially and while they were somewhat curious and Josie definitely "got how to find em" nothing like the Cesky Terriers.  Still there was enough that I was okay with practicing during our trials Thursday.   Just for fun I took Epic out while we still had a rat box out to track.   Epic is VERY visual and I just didn't even think this would interest him.  Well I had him on leash and as the rat box dragged on the ground his nose snapped down and he followed it so I turned him loose.  Well, as he does with his ball and being Epic, he definitely went and found the box but did it as a "drive by" not actually stopping to indicate the box.  THEN he saw the pond and he was done with rats!   I was very surprised (remember we are trying to find him new outlets with his injury diagnosis) and well, maybe we'll try something "nosey" with him too.

I don't have any photos of my dogs working but both Josie and Oliver went 1 out of 3 in their finds of rats during the trial.   It was fine.   Is this THEIR game - ummmmm not sure.  I do believe Josie gets it but as with everything I've done with her, she isn't convinced that cookies or praise makes it worthwhile.   She would really rather track the rabbit that crosses the course than indicate the rat, but she IS nosey.   Oliver is a different story.  While I would have thought some of his rat terrier instinct would kick in, it really didn't.   He was very very timid even going up to the box to sniff the rat/litter, almost scared and no convincing was going to change that.   He scented the 2 rats but he didn't actually indicate them - kind of like "oh yeah I smell it, it's  over there somewhere" and then was done.   The HUNT wasn't really his deal and I'm not convinced he wasn't also following Josie's scent.

All is not lost though as I learn every time I work with my dogs and in situations where they are in a new environment and asked to do new things, I learn more about them.   Didn't get a lot of "new info" on Josie but a LOT on Oliver.   He's gotten this tendency the last year or so where he losses his shit AT things (like a high energy dog out hunting, or Epic chasing a ball while he is restrained).  What I did discover is that isn't him being terrier tough...it is him being fearful and it manifests with him barking and snapping and sometimes going after whoever (canine) is nearby - even his family.   So I was totally reading that wrong.   I also discovered that at this point - he gains all his confidence around new stuff from Josie.   Not surprising but now duly noted so he needs more alone time with Mom in new situations.   So there is a lot of words about a lot of stuff but pretty much sums it up.

Now on to some more photos.   My friend has Cesky Terriers and I brought my big camera so I could do photos of her dogs and them competing so here are some of those.

After fighting with the furnace 3 nights I decided to leave after our runs on Thursday.  I had left myself the option to leave early or stay till Saturday but I was tired, the dogs were tired, Iago was pretty much done with it and I didn't want to fight the long weekend traffic on Friday on top of the construction I knew we'd have.  I was glad  I did.  Traffic was light, the temps were lower and it made me feel less rushed to get some things done at home.   We all slept like stones Thursday night even the dogs didn't say a peep till well after 9 a.m. Friday morning (they never make it past 7).

Friday and Saturday were the first 2 days of chores.   Because the county decided to water down one of the roads I had to drive over to get out of town my trailer and truck were covered in red dirt and I knew if it was left on them it would become concrete.  So rinsing off was required.   That took way longer than I had hoped.   Saturday I was planning on laying out the bird netting for the end yard so that when help arrived Sunday we could get it up.  Well it stayed cool long enough that once I figured out where the corners were I just went for it and we now have a single back yard again and room for the dogs to roam more.   Not that I don't have other work to do back there now but the big job is done and the little fence is down so I can more easily get to my clothes line which I also got put back up.

Saturday night Ias storms rolled in again for the second night and it cooled off I got busy starting some serious cleaning (i.e. throwing out) starting with the office.   I was considering putting Iago's cage back in the office (which back in the day was the bird room) but honestly I think she will be happier in the living area with us.   She was relocated because I'm still not happy with the arrangement in the living room either.   I still have "stuff" hanging around in places it shouldn't and I will have my work cut out for me in the spare room and the dog room.  All WILL be cleaned out by Fall and I can happily report that the trash is full for mid-week pick up, I have items not only for the re-Store but also the thrift store.

Here's a little "chop face" for ya till next week....

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/7/week-of-june-26-2022 Sun, 03 Jul 2022 22:58:15 GMT
Week of June 19, 2022 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/6/week-of-june-19-2022 Another busy busy week but I want  to first and foremost thank those of you that are reading  and commenting on my posts.   I know you are out there even if I'm not making it to your blogs to respond in kind!

Was really nice to have a long weekend but as usual that meant we paid for it with 5 days of work squished into 4.   Top that off with 2 days of full time headphone use while watching vendor demos and I was exhausted.  Oh and that wasn't enough because on the morning of day 2 we were told we were going to be reorganized (our small group which honestly is like family) and split apart.   Stress for sure but honestly this company does this every time there is a change in leadership (which seems to be often) so am doing my best to just roll with it.   It isn't all bad for me but it is very sad how it is being handled but not any different than it is anywhere else in corporate America anymore.  Sadly.   But good news, we all still have jobs and just different bosses.   Onward we go!

On to more interesting things - like LIFE!

The work week started off coolish but the sun came out and it warmed up and the dogs and Iago are spending more time outside in the fresh air!  Good for them all and as I have breaks from work I get to go out and hang out on the patio with all of them.   I will tell you when they come in for dinner and fill their tummies they are all CRASHED for the evening.   I have been too unfortunately not just from fresh air.

Another development this week is that we have a new addition coming to our home next month thanks to my brother who will be doing transport.   This is Gizmo, a baby Solomon Island Eclectus who is coming here from N California (don't hold that against him). Thank you to Kent who is doing the extra mileage to go fetch him and bring him up here when he comes next month.  Thanks to Carol who has been raising this baby since he hatched March 2nd.   Handfeeding is no joke people but also she  has been teaching him about flying and wearing a harness and have some manners.   I have lusted after another one of these boys (and a few others) for many years since I had my rescue pair years ago.  This is Scarlett and Rhett that were rehomed with me "back in the day".

 

Scarlet and Rhett (eclectus)Scarlet and Rhett (eclectus) I've learned so much since then and haven't had a baby parrot since 1991 when I got my first macaw (not Iago).  It'll be exciting I am sure and I'm looking forward to having a bird that isn't clipped (we've learned a lot in the past few years) and while I won't be "free flying" him I do want him to be able to do what he as a bird is meant to do - fly.   That of course means upping my dog management game but I think it will be fine.  I have 2 that cannot be out if I'm moving parrots or have them out - either the dogs are locked up or the parrot is - just how it has to be.   No more management than we do today.

My gardens are doing great and will have to start watering here soon.   Here are some phone photos I popped out and took the other night.  No  macros as again, we seem to have a breeze all the time and the iris are so tall they move around.   I discovered a new iris that bloomed that Mom and I think we planted last year.  It is the most gorgeous soft purple and yellow compared to what I had already.

 

Tiger lilies are kicking in and oh my the lilacs out back smell marvelous and the beautiful swallow tail butterflies are really enjoying those.

I am really busy (surprise) now that the summer weather has decided to settle in and it is warm, windy and dry.   Watering, mowing and all those items are always in the process of being done.   I'm behind on my big mowing (up back) but hope that the long 4th weekend will remedy that. In the photo above 2 are "grazing" but one has lost his ball which rolled under the cage and he can't figure out how to get it back!   That's kinda the story of our life!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/6/week-of-june-19-2022 Sun, 26 Jun 2022 22:40:27 GMT
Struggling with Titles https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/6/struggling-with-titles Honestly folks I think I'm just going to put the publish date in these titles and try to then catch you up from the previous post!   It's summer and not only am I busy but my creative genes are all going to things other then titles for blogs - haha.

The week has been busy of course with work and summer stuff.   My main objective for the week was to get mowing done.  I almost did between rain storms (but the back isn't done yet).   It took me 2 days on the rider, plus of course the lawn push mowing.   Of course I got my gas for the rider and then discovered that the battery was dead.  Such fun - off to town again for that as we were on like 2-3 days of no rain.   As I was mowing the hood of my 25 year old mower fell apart so in between I had to get that fixed up.   Always something but man I LOVE that old mower!   I have to say 25 years of not being at all treated with "tender loving care" it still fires up for me each year thanks to my brother who helps me maintain it each summer.   

I was also blessed to be able to have coffee with a friend I've not had a chance to just visit with in YEARS!   i looked forward to it all week and it made my Friday.

Since I had a "long" weekend off work I of course had my list of to-dos.  Mowing was #1 and one of the other items was to get the framing up for the bird netting of the rest of the back yard (didn't get the clothes line back up yet though).   I had ordered netting but opened it up to discover it was too small (would have netted small song birds) and it was just awful so I have new netting coming (because of course I can't remember where I ordered my other net from.  Dang though PVC has gotten so expensive!   I did end up piecing together using some of my leftovers behind the garage and with parts that I already had (because the stores  didn't have all the right connectors either).   So looking forward to being able to use the whole yard again.  Thanks to my friend Robin for popping over for a visit and helping me get those top bars in and holding the ladder to get the eye screws in the house.

 

Our weather has been "bipolar" I swear.  The first of the week I was running the furnace, the  end of the week I was debating putting the a/c in!   Today (Monday) had to run the furnace again this morning to take the chill off (and I'm not a warmer is better person).   The two hotter days were sun bathing days and the dogs and the parrot spent most of the days outside.

 

With the two big projects done I had a few more tweeks to do to Iago's RV cage (I wanted it bolted down to the table I have it on, so that was done and since I really didn't have time to do much work with her during the week, once that was finished it was time to introduce her to the trailer and cage AND that involved also getting her in her carry crate and taking it out to the trailer (good practice).  She did really good but honestly by the time she was back in the house she was over the whole bit.   Not sure yet but think she'll ride in the 'vet crate' and hang in the RV cage then when we are parked.  We'll see how it works out (bribing with pine nuts and walnuts helps).

 

You know she isn't ever going to be a cuddly warm super friendly parrot so my promise to her is that if she just stays flexible and trust that I won't put her in danger that I won't go off "expecting more".   

So really that has been about all for the week.  Thought I'd leave you with some photos of my big hybrid iris that are now really starting to show off.  I didn't get one in here of the yellow/purple one but it bloomed literally the night after I took these.   My hostas are also really starting to get going and my lilacs out back are blooming like mad and oh my gosh how I love the smell they are sending down into the back yard!

 

Going to be another busy week at work - but kinda looking forward to the 3 days of just a single focus item.   Short week this week and short week the next two weeks including a new  type of dog event at a friend's place that I'll plan to take photos at as well (Iago's maiden voyage too).

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/6/struggling-with-titles Mon, 20 Jun 2022 19:53:09 GMT
Dogs and Friends and Parrot and Projects - Oh My https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/6/dogs-and-friends-and-parrot-and-projects---oh-my And the rain continues!   I am trying my best to keep things mowed but with rain pretty much every day I will likely have to have to do 3 passes on the drainfield if it ever dries up!   Never fear I always have stuff to do and honestly we are grateful for the rain.

I have to share that the wild birds here this year are pretty spectacular.   After having the oriole visit earlier this spring, I now have also seen a Western Tanager and and Evening Grossbeak which I have not seen here in about 15 years.   This has prompted me to rearrange my living room now so I can sit and actually look out the front windows and watch the birds (and the neighbors drive by).

While my old timey purple iris out back are still going strong the Japanese Iris (or what we call wild iris) are just starting to bloom and I am just starting to see buds on my other big iris.    In between rain storms I was able to get out with the macro lens and get this photo of the wild iris and just to take a fun one of the now defunct daffodils.

Am still working hard at more interactions with Iago and this week her travel carrier (which cost WAY too much money for what I got) showed up.  While I'm disappointed in it we are still going to use it and if I don't get a new DIY one done before we start to travel again then I'll have it.   So I got the walnuts out and we started "crate training".   I didn't get all fancy with her and use the clicker as I was pretty sure I could just work with treats and praise.   For all her weirdness she really does catch on pretty quick.  It took her a while to warm up to it but within  about 15 minutes she was  going in and out both ends and getting on the perch following the treats.  I'll take the win for now.   Her camper cage parts should  be here this week so that will be next on the list of projects.

PVC has been purchased and the netting showed up for the end of the yard.   Am hoping I can maybe get away without the horizontal supports this time (cuz dangit PVC has also gotten expensive!)   

The Universe also gifted me again at the grocery store where I ran into a long  time friend who now lives elsewhere and is back visiting.    Dinner was had and the most marvelous catch up.

Meanwhile this is pretty much the dogs' life.   Louie tries to get every sun ray possible and is loving the option to go out front when he wants pretty much.   The rest of these guys - dunno what to say.

 

Last weekend was pretty quiet as I had registered for a bunch of online music workshops as part of Quarantune.   I have no fewer than 4 instruments I am slowly working on and want to get those opportunities in when I can and this is a great way to do it.   I took a super basic 101 of my autoharp, a couple new chord lessons for my mountain dulcimer, a great hammered dulcimer class and a beginner 101 Irish bones class.   All were super fun and I learned a lot.  Summer is hard though as I just have too many other things going on to get in the practice I need.   No problem though as I still have the materials and the contacts if I need to go back.   

The week did give us a couple days of sunshine-like weather where I booted dogs and parrot all outside.  Also mowing the lawns but didn't have time to get to the acreage sadly and now it is back to raining every day.  It's never gonna dry out!

My project THIS weekend was to get Iago's camping cage completed and I accomplished that!   Time is getting short before our next camping trip.   I also had a few odds and ends in the trailer to get completed and since it was rainy all weekend good time for those!

Of course it involved a couple extra trips to the hardware store and it isn't  professional looking at all but it fits her and it works so I'm good with it.  The sides are acrylic 1/4" pegboard, used so that I don't have to worry about her chewing on walls or anything in the camper AND she's a bit more secure from the dogs.  The top, bottom and door are recycled dog expen panels  cut to size and then used the dremel to smooth the exposed ends where I cut them.   The stand is a childs folding table which once I got it into the trailer think I may just remove the legs from it for easier moving.  I installed handles on the sides to not only carry (it's pretty heavy) but also to secure it  both to the bottom and then in the trailer as needed.   We'll see how it works out.    

Cage in, trailer sorta cleaned and some tweeking of the shelves and pegboard are done (and bed is now made.   Poodles (well one of em) supervised but the old man decided it was more fun to wander off and not come when called - so he got put back in the yard.

I did get some more flower photos (my iris are blooming like mad) but will share those and hopefully more of the gardens next time (if the weather ever cooperates).   One hazard of trying to use the macro lens is that if there is even a small breeze we get blurry photos.    There should be a bunch of bitterroot blooming as well once the sun comes back out.

I'll end it here instead with critter shots!  LOL

IMG_5042.JPGIMG_5042.JPG

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/6/dogs-and-friends-and-parrot-and-projects---oh-my Sun, 12 Jun 2022 21:22:19 GMT
On To Summer (Projects Galore) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/6/on-to-summer-projects-galore I am totally realizing now why I am so freaking lazy all Winter - because Summer bring so many projects!   Sheesh (yeah still no excuse for the lazy).  I'll try and catch you all up here in some kind of orderly fashion but no guarantees.   Oh and the photo quality is what it is - the week was the week of the iphone and no editing.

The long weekend was super busy, then super rainy and wasn't as accomplished as I'd hoped.  No worries, I've been catching up all week!   Work was really heads down this week which honestly was a blessing.  I could focus on the single items at hand and once off work, take on the assorted, not so organized projects at home!

Tuesday I was minding my business at my desk and low and behold the tree people arrived to take down the tree on the west end of my house.  A bit 80' double ponderosa pine that while it gave some shade really was more problematic than helpful.   My gutters were always full of pine needles, they were rotting my shingles and that end of the yard was a nightmare.   It also was causing some issues even with the growth of my tree out front because of the space it was taking up.   Oh did I mention the fire hazard too close to the house?   This team was great and within 3 hours had it down, things chipped and cut up for firewood and the area on both sides of the fence are now cleaner than they have ever been!

Now I need to restring the clothes line (yes we left the trunk at about 10' high) and I am going to overhead bird net that end of the yard now so we can utilize it as it should be for the dogs.    I think this coming Sunday will likely be a PVC and hardware run to get the posts done for that project (which I'm kinda excited about and will use as an excuse not to paint -haha).    Looks so different but so happy I can clean gutters once and they'll stay clean longer.    Still have about 3 trees that my brother and I will need to take down this summer but they are small and then of course need to move the log pile and split those for firewood.

On the Iago front, progress is still happening.   Her food switch is going well, I finally got my office organized so she can come in here and be on the perch while I work (and the dogs are locked out).   Takes a little dog managing to make that happen but we make it work.   I have 3 that can't be out when I'm moving her around as I don't want any accidents or for them to freak her out!    We had great progress Friday on getting her to step up more on my hand than on my arm.  The arm just isn't secure enough but I've never really forced the "hand" issue so I can put my thumb down on her feet to keep her steady.   Friday she was in the office on the floor and I just didn't offer her my forearm.   She did great!    I also reassembled (a feat in and of itself) her other cage outside in the back yard to use as an outdoor space for her.   I mentioned I was considering an aviary but right now she just doesn't move around that much (never really has and at this age likely won't) so would rather repurpose.    It is now in location #2 and she loves being out there although not as much if no one is out there with her.   As the dogs spend more time in the back this summer and as I also spend more time out there on the back patio she'll be happy.   Besides....new scenery.

I'll try to get pictures of our back yard situation for next post!    Meanwhile we had sun just a few hours every couple days and Louie loves being able to go out front and just hang out without all the other crazies (Thing 1 and Thing 2).    The two youngsters got 2 rides down to the mailboxes on the bike this week and I am still taking the poodles on "forced marches" down the road and back most days.   The old man really tires out on these especially with the warm weather but he needs it and Epic just loves being able to go even though he can't be "Epic crazy" anymore.   Both poodles got adjusted this week which I think makes them feel better and of course the new summer haircuts are a bonus.

Lawn mowing was in high gear as well this week, second for the back but first for the front.  The front was so long I got double my steps in going to empty the mower bag.   Looks nice now though and the new baby pine tree out front survived the winter and is putting on new growth.   I also happily got my first picking of rhubarb now in the freezer as well.   YUM.   My iris out back are blooming like mad this year (amazing what a little fertilizer will do) and I see buds on my iris out front now.   The daffies are done and I see new daylily growth on the one that some sneaky deer chomped while I was on vacation!   

Oh and I did manage to get some of my trailer things done this week as well.  The doors under the bed now don't fall off - yay and I got my Lagun table mount put up although I still need to find a different table top for it which I'll do when I go look for the top and bottom for Iago's new camping cage (another DIY project I've not started yet).

Meanwhile Friday night and Saturday are booked with music workshops - even though I've not had time to even touch any of my instruments.   I signed up for these a few months ago and lost my mind and am taking some classes across 4 different music instruments.   What was I thinking?   It'll be fun, wanted some starter stuff on the Autoharp, need some inspiration on my Hammered Dulcimer, some chord work for my Mountain Dulcimer I just started back on (the drone style I was playing doesn't involve fingering chords) and just for fun a class on Irish Bones (go look it up - wink).  Fun stuff and looks like I may just take the laptop out on the back patio or front deck and go for it!    See my head explode??  LOL

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) Epic Iago Poodles projects Sterling https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/6/on-to-summer-projects-galore Fri, 03 Jun 2022 18:20:03 GMT
Crazy End to May https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/crazy-end-to-may Well what a month it has been too!   End of vacation :-(, dogs, vets, parrots, spring in MT and all that brings.  So let me catch you up on the past week or so (with some fill in as I've not written all that has  gone on in the weeks since we returned from our trip.

Iago

She is doing pretty well.   The food conversion is actually going better than I thought.  She's not quite as enthusiastic  about "chop" for breakfast as I'd hoped but she is now diving into the new pellets in the evening.   Still adding some "yum dust" to her chop in the mornings.   She isn't eating a lot but then I have also realized that I think she's a bit overweight (lack of exercise much like her Mom) as well.   Not to worry, she is eating and seems to be much calmer as well.  I'm taking the win on that one.    I did bake her up some birdie bread today (Sunday - and it is rainy and cold out) and will see if she likes that.

Yesterday a friend came over to help me with some heavy lifting chores and also then helped me get Iago out and do her  nails.  They were too long and way too sharp to be able to handle her to train or even move.  Sadly it does require toweling her at this point.  Friend was in charge of making sure she didn't bite me (keep track of the covered head) and I realize now that was a bad move on my part.   I was distracted enough with her worry of getting bit and my worry she'd get bitten that it resulted in MY getting bitten.   Lost a chunk out of my thumb and blood was everywhere.  My bad and my friend was a champ running to get band aids and clean up the blood bath after.   No worries, I'll live and by evening it was feeling better.   Lesson learned but we did get her nails dremeled.

Next item was to switch out her cage.  I loved the big one I got her except that it really limited where I could position her in the house.   I still had the old cage in the rafters so after some heavy lifting (again thanks Robin) we got the cage assembled and Iago in it.   Smaller and shorter but allows me to mover her around more and  also reduces the height which will help in training.  Never fear the old cage had to be disassembled to get it outside and I'll finish that and stash it for the time being.    The thinking is that she 1.  will be getting out time with me  for training and 2.  am still looking to get that aviary - but DANG they are expensive.

We did one really short touch session in her cage today through the bars with a target stick and clicker.   I'd say it was  a moderate success.  She reverts to that pissed off territorial stuff quickly (and let's be honest she's probably still pissed off about yesterday).     I'll take what progress we get.   At this point am not going to push it for a few more days as she adjusts to her new cage and to the new location in the house.    Meantime I've got her somewhere too that I can monitor Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Josie and Oliver) so they aren't at the cage harassing her either (lessened substantially by the new feeding system).

Sterling

My silver handsome dude turned 12 this week!    He "celebrated" with a haircut (for the  one actual summer day we had) and he walked (he says "forced marched") 5 days this week.  I'm continuing to see issue with his mobility and loss of muscle tone so he is walking with Epic and me down the road and back most days.   I see his stamina  getting  better already.   He continues to do some inside stretching and rehab type work but I really think the walking helps him most.  He's never had a LOT of stamina and well, he's 12.   And he's still cute as all that....

 

Epic

Oh my so much to catch up on.   You know he was broken when we went on vacation.   I also spent that time observing a lot and determining what things caused his right front pain and lame issue.    We returned home and my vets and I (had to find a new full service practice as well) decided that a CT scan would be helpful to figure out why his neck was giving him so much issue and affecting his leg.   Kudos to my rehab vet Cathy who has been working on him diligently for months, my person chiropractor Terri who has also been helping adjusting him and finally Michelle and the staff in Great Falls at Big Sky Animal Hospital  that did the scan and are now my full service vet clinic.   Not ideal 90 miles away BUT I found out (and confirmed directly) that my local vet clinic that I've been a client of for YEARS with all my dogs decided to no longer do ANY after hours vet care.  I was pissed to say the least that they didn't even bother to notify their existing clients!   

So, CT scan.....the results came back and in a nutshell both Cathy and Terri were bang on in the location of the issue (in his neck vertebrae C5 and C6).   They saw "mineralization" on both of those but couldn't say much more than that.  With the help of Cathy and Michelle (who are also friends of mine) and Google I found some information mostly indicated for doxies and long backed dogs where this happens and mostly in their lower backs.   This mineralization is causing "root nerve" issues which causes the pain (read if  he moves wrong it irritates the nerve(s) that go down his front leg).   Was of course freaked out when I read that this is similar to herniated discs in humans and "can result in a ruptured disc and/or paralysis".   We cannot determine 100% if there is issue with his spinal cord but as he shows no neurological issues at this point probably not.   

Will be having long continued conversations with my vets but basically, some dogs if in stage 1 are confined for 4-6 weeks can get over it (read "over" not cured), other option of course - surgery.   My gut at this point says I really do not want to be doing neck/spike surgery on a 9 year old dog with all the possible complications that brings AND that is is at best 80% successful, serious lockdown recovery and rehab after.   Chances even with surgery are good he'll not be 100% again anyway.   Other option is continued rehab (walking, evaluating, acupuncture, sound wave, chiro, maybe laser) on a regular basis.  It also means the the things that I KNOW make him relapse (cause the nerve pain) are officially off the table forever.   This thing is not cured but I also don't want a bad relapse or worse cause something to rupture.  

 

Those of you that know Epic or of Epic know that too is not ideal but I know we have the ability to still give quality of life even though in his head if he feels good "do it".    He is officially retired from competition anything (because what we hoped to do was Rally and it involves jumping).   Walks are on leash with a bit of off leash maybe towards the end when he's tired.  Sleeping is heated.   No more fetching.   Training way more calm....when company comes, when the UPS  truck goes by, when we go up back to play (that will be the hardest).   Pain management as needed.    No more dock diving and probably no swimming as that required he pull his head up and back and THAT  my friends compressed those discs.   More trick training and training of stretches to just keep him limber.    Maybe time to get him off "visual mode" and into scenting mode....maybe tracking?  Dunno.    No jumping in and out of the truck (Mom gets to DIY a ramp now for him and Sterling.

Is it ideal - no but he doesn't know that and my responsibility is to keep him safe (even from himself) and comfortable.  Keep the conversation going with his  vets and go from there I guess.   Yes it is the shits!

Josie and Oliver and Louie

They are all doing great.   Oliver is back in jammies today as it turned cold and wet again.   Josie may be looking at a bath tomorrow if the rain continues (shhhhh).    Louie at 16 just keeps trucking along.  He has some serious old man moments and times he is fussy but generally eats, sleeps and poops.   Thing 1 and Thing 2 haven't been on the bike in a week or more due to weather and we ALL need to get back to some training games.

Till then rainy days at our house look kinda like this!

 

Everything Else

I eluded to a busy day Saturday (of the Memorial Day weekend) and thank goodness we did all the outside type stuff as rain is in the picture for the next 2 days off.   Bummer but the gardens are happy.

My lovely friend Robin came out after I ran to town, picked up food and dropped off food (for Tinker).   In prep I had moved the pickup truck dog kennels out of the back room and back out to the garage (they are about 150 pounds so no small feat.  I'd also gotten in the back of the truck to pull everything out.  In the process found a mouse nest and the mouse (ICK!!!!!!!!!).   That then led me to taking out everything in the front of the truck as well to make  sure there  were no other nests or riff raff.  The mouse didn't bail off the truck that  I saw so I'm guessing she's  still in there somewhere.   Double ICK!    Got the back emptied out and Robin and I headed to Power Townsend where I finally found  a propane grill I could afford (my old one  bit the dust this winter).   Got it home (still in the box however) and put the kennels in the truck, the tools and the generator  all lifted in and  ready to go.    The kennels were getting no use in the house and can ride in the truck and still have stuff put in them, be used for the dogs  or even for Iago.  Time will tell.

Reloaded all the inside stuff as well so that is complete.  Whew!

Then we did the bird stuff which took the rest of the afternoon (see above).

I've managed over the week to get the back lawn mowed but not the front (and now the back needs it again).   Got the tree guys to come out and bid removing my big double pine tree that is on the west end of my house...YAY.   Appointments, work, and all matter of other household stuff.   Got one gallon of paint to have on hand to work on the outside of my house  as time and weather permits and still have things to get fixed in the trailer before my next trip.  

Never a lack of things to do!    The trees are just now leafing out and the lilacs in town are blooming while mine barely have buds.  But my iris out back are blooming like crazy (amazing what a tad bit of fertilizer will do) and the daffies out front are done and I'm fighting a losing battle with the lily of the valley which I stupidly planted 25 years ago!  Oh well.  Picking rhubarb is next on the list though.

 

 

That's the week in a nutshell - haha.   Hope you all are well and happy!   BuhBye!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/crazy-end-to-may Mon, 30 May 2022 00:21:36 GMT
Project - Iago (first steps) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/summer-project---iago Most of you know enough about me that I always have a few "projects" going especially in the Summer.   One of this Summer's projects is my taking a real initiative to build my somewhat tattered relationship with Iago my scarlet macaw.    

Iago's History:

Iago came to me in 2003 when she was about 2.5 years old (she was hatched in 2000).   She came to me from the breeder here in Montana that I got my first blue and gold macaw from back in the late 90s.   She and her clutch-mate actually had been to my house for a few days back in 2000 when her breeder had to evacuate due to wildfires.  At that time I hand fed them and took in a few other of her macaws.   Alas it was just a few days and I wasn't interested in having another big bird (and Rio was really my heart parrot).   A few years later I actually contacted the breeder about my possible interest in an African gray parrot.  As we had conversation she said she had this young scarlet that she really wanted to find a home for as her wasn't getting the attention needed in her aviary/home.   If I was interested she would love to have me adopt her.   I pondered for a couple weeks then said I would.   Now remember she had been hand fed however had very limited interactions past that.   She was a good friend for my blue and gold but I will be the first to admit, she wasn't as tame and therefore got less attention/training than my already trained and super lovable cuddly blue and gold.

So here is the truth:   I did work with her some but not to the relationship building work I should have done.   Life intervened and I lost my blue and gold (still a hole in my heart 10+ years later).   I also got busy with my house, relationships and my other animals - mostly my dogs and dog activities.   Since then Iago has really kinda just been in the background of the house.   Interactions outside of her cage are minimal as I just wasn't set up to manage having her out and the dogs locked up. 

So no one to blame for any of her issues but me.  :(

Starting Point:

Iago is very definitely a girl, we have had eggs to prove it!   Hormones for sure play a large part in her "attitude" (as I've gone thru the Horror-mones video with Bird Tricks).   She also is VERY cage territorial, even to feed a piece of something yummy in thru the bars of her cage results usually in a beak hit on the cage bars and grabbing what she can and dropping it.   She is very angry and I cannot blame her - much of that is on me the rest I'm putting on the hormones (no worries Iago - I personally know how that is).   What breaks my heart is that we've seem to have lost ANY relationship we might have had (and she shows it even in her talking when the pet sitters visit or company comes but not when it is just us).

She has been eating primarily Pretty Bird Macaw pellets and some soft cooked foods (which she really loves and I will hear her cooing as she eats that - now realize that too will play into the hormones - man those things suck).  She has also always had food available full time.  She has a large cage (6X3) indoors and is positioned in the family room by the sliding glass door or windows as she seems to enjoy being able to watch goings on outside.  She always has toys and (to my now realization) love loves having bags and paper to rip up (nesting) in addition to those hanging type toys.   She also loves nuts in the shell (walnut especially).   

We have had a few summers where I have also put together her old cage outside and put her on the back patio with us for some new scenery.  She seemed pretty indifferent to that but didn't resist and I think that outside time will be something she will enjoy.

Project Beginnings!

So here we go.   I now can't say all of YouTube's algorithms are bad.  A "recommended" video popped up from Bird Tricks.   I watched and discovered Jamieleigh and Dave using clicker training and targeting with parrots.   Oooooo I said, I can do that (since that is how I train my dogs and have been for years).  Why hadn't I thought about that!?!    So binge watching ensued and as with most of my training....motivated me!

They also focus a great deal on sleep and nutrition - another juicy bit for me (again I do it with my dogs but Iago has been on the back burner).

I ordered some of their courses, continue to watch videos as well as their pellets. 

And away we go!

Step 1:

Go to feeding twice a day (like I do the dogs duh) instead of leaving food in for her all day long for her to eat at her leisure.  This will help in tracking nutrition, weight, and training (why would she want treats and train if she can just go back in her cage and eat what she wants - treat value not withstanding).   Having that food sitting their also doesn't help with her cage aggression and territorial issues.

CHECK (and no she isn't thrilled but honestly is okay with it and I have oh so much less waste!)
 

Step 2:

Remove all that nesting type material from her cage to help with the hormones (nutrition and sleeping will also help).   While it was cute to watch her with the bags and all it won't help with her being territorial - PROTECT THE NEST AT ALL COSTS!

CHECK (and no she isn't thrilled - haha and has literally destroyed all of the wood toys that were newly hanging in her cage the past few days)

Step 3:

New and better nutrition.   She will be going onto the Season Feeding System promoted by Jaimieleigh and Dave (because it makes TOTAL SENSE) and on to their more balanced pellets.   This should help in all areas of her life honestly.   I spent a few hours (and a shopping trip for a new Ninja system - no worries, two of my other appliances are now headed to the thrift store) working on this.   Soaking beans, cooking those, then figuring out the ratios and cooking of the other grains, then massive food processor work with the fresh veggies.   This makes 4+ months of fresh food for her so that makes the time justification easier.   No bowls big enough so trash bag in the sink for mixing worked marvelous!

Am also trying my hand at sprouting some of the beans and have also gotten a new sprouting system to use but won't be doing that until I see she really is going to take on the new "chop".

 

ONGOING - started this week.   Day 1 - she wasn't thrilled but did at least have some tastes of the chop (once I added a bit of walnut powder in) and of the new pellets (they ain't sweet sugar anymore).    Honestly she is tricky cuz I have seen her literally go 2 days not eating pellets while I was gone because the sitter gave her nuts in the shells so she "held out".   Just gotta work on "out thinking her" and enticing her.  Day 2 I mixed some of the little bit of cooked package food I had left into the chop - she was much more interested in breakfast and has sampled throughout the morning.   I also added a few pellets in it just cuz.  

Step 4:

Better sleep.   Tough one especially summer in our house as it doesn't get dark dark till 10 and is light at 5.   At this very moment in time we make it as dark in her cage (remember getting her out is a problem at the moment) as we can but will be transitioning to a sleeping cage (may also be her camping cage as well - a DIY project is in possibly in the future).  She'll then be in a room where I can control the darkness so she gets that 10-12 hours of real sleep without interruption (dogs, menopausal Mom, company etc.).  Some rearranging in the household for that.

COMING SOON.

Step 5:

Way more baths.  I added a humidifier next to her cage already but I am going to really focus on getting her bathed to help that feather condition (as will sunlight and nutrition).   Anxious to see that all improve.

ALREADY IN PLACE!

Summer Goals:

Once she has some time to get used to all the above changes we will start getting some training going.   I have a new stand/perch built for her and will be utilizing that.   (I do need to shorten it though and then add some weight bags on the bottom to stabilize.

Honestly once out of the cage (even to do nails and clip wings - the latter of which will no longer happen) she has never been nippy as she is in the cage.   I am so excited for that but I also know that at 22 I need to take this slow for her and at her pace.    She will also be getting some outside time this summer as well but I haven't got a complete picture of that.   I am considering the possibility of an aviary out back for her that is large and will give her the ability to stretch her wings.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) Iago https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/summer-project---iago Wed, 25 May 2022 16:44:18 GMT
Goodbye South Beach Hello Home https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/goodbye-south-beach-hello-home

We really enjoyed our stay at South Beach but after 2 weeks the dogs (and I - sorta) were ready to head east again.   But we didn't leave  without a couple stops at the South Beach Fish Market for lunches (5 stars) and of course a visit to Bow Wow Meow and Fred Meyer.    We also enjoyed the down time and my brother started to teach me cribbage.   I'm pretty horrible and haven't by far, figured out the strategy but since I really don't care who wins it was fun.  He  bought me a cribbage "kit" and also Mexican Train as a late birthday present and both are now secured in the trailer.  The latter is more  fun with at least 3 people.   Kinda fun!

Before I get us headed home I'm  going to throw in a ton of macro type photos and misc. for you.  I was trying to see if my little hiking camera would do macro decently.  The ones it did get right were okay but I just need to have my big camera for that stuff.   Now I know.   It did however capture some great sunset photos  the single night we actually had a sunset!

And finally here is the broken poodle who joined us for our sunset walk and baby camera and all did pretty well with his photo shoot.

We headed home on a Thursday and I had plans to take 3 days to come home (with a stop back at the farm at Cheney) but by the time we got on the road I decided to cancel that and push it home the last day to give us 2 days at home before work rather than one.   Glad I did.

Our first day on the road was rain rain rain which was fine till we hit I5 headed north.   Luckily I was able to have a marvelous stop and visit with my good friend Lori before we hit the bad stuff.   Cray cray drivers I tell you.   There was a wreck at Salem (indicated by red on my GPS) which luckily didn't entirely stop traffic.   I205 around Portland went surprisingly well but it still poured rain and can I just say it was so very sad to see the  amount of homeless along that route.  I've never ever seen that in  years past so I can only imagine the encampments actually in Portland.  :(   I always breath a sigh of relief when we get on I84  and past about the first 30 miles.   Things thin out and I don't feel like  I have to have a death grip on my steering wheel.

We made a quick pit stop after we got out of the rain and the Columbia Gorge was beautiful.  The waterfalls we could  see were doing pretty well I must say and we had a tail wind - WOOHOO!

We filled diesel and got tucked into our really favorite spot at Boardman, did tank chores and tucked in really early as we had to make an early start for our last haul home (10+ hours and we lost an hour on the clock as well).   There was a cool sunset so again broke out the hiking camera and played with some of the weird "SCN" settings literally out the camper window (hey I'd showered and was in my jammies).   So to bore you to the end here ya go!

Special thanks to my brother - who as always is so fun to camp and travel with.   Also to my rehab vet Dr. Cathy Davis and my chiropractor Dr. Terri Hamilton without whom we would have never have gotten on the road.   To my very patient and now travel weary dogs who as always were champs on the road.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/goodbye-south-beach-hello-home Sun, 15 May 2022 22:15:00 GMT
South Oregon Lighthouses and South Beach (2 of 3) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/south-oregon-lighthouses-and-south-beach-2-of-3 Since I haven't really explored much in this part of Oregon my brother and I took a day and went exploring.  Our main attraction was to visit a couple of lighthouses and do a bit of shopping in Bandon.   I found the shop Cranberry Sweets and I highly recommend them and will likely be adding them to my list of places I'll order from.  I went kinda crazy in there but oh my it was yummy AND they had samples of just about anything you wanted to buy.  While walking along the bay (and using the cleanest public bathrooms I've EVER seen), we found these great carvings and a couple calla lilies  I couldn't pass up.  We also had to make a stop at an Ace Hardware to pick up a new space heater as mine had crapped out and it was COLD at night.

We stopped by the Coquille River Lighthouse (est 1896) to take some photos and just have some time out of the truck.   What a sweet little lighthouse. We had a  great weather day though for our exploring.

We also made a stop at Umpqua Lighthouse (and Coast Guard quarters) est. 1857 as the first lighthouse on the Oregon Coast.    There  were no tours when we  were there so all we were able to get was a couple of photos of the lovely blooming tree in front and all the chain link fence around it.

As we always do, Kent and I scoped out campground options while we were driving around.   Since Riley Ranch  is now off the list we wanted  to see what other options there were that would allow access with the sXs to the Dunes.   We were thrilled to find a  number of camping options around the Winchester Bay area including Windy Cove (county run), Umpqua Dunes and Half Moon Bay.   Very excited to know we can reserve and hopefully do some more  playing off  season (I dunno is there really an off season there) at the Dunes.  Below is the fisherman carving at Winchester Bay (and if you look to the left in the back there is a fancy RV Resort.

It was great fun exploring and there is so much more down there to see.   More visits I guess!   On to our next camping stop at our favorite South Beach State Park where  we  scored what we decided were the primo spots (for us anyway) even though they are the farthest walk to the beach (G15 and G17).   Kent has a trailer that is quite a bit longer than mine but he fit in quite nicely as did mine and he was able to unload his side by side so he could camp with some space (no where there to ride but that was fine).   I was also able to get my Moon Shade out and figure out a way to utilize it.  My trailer awning just covers the dog pens so we have no where out of the rain to sit as you can see by pics 2 and 3 below).   I was very happy how the shade attached, set up and held up even during the downpours and the winds.

Meanwhile Epic was doing pretty well but I did have to figure out how to tell him that his favorite beach activity OF ALL TIME (fetching balls on the beach and playing in the ocean) wasn't going to happen.   I have to tell you that it definitely was also a damper on my beach time not being able to watch him (and Sterling and Josie all run on the beach off leash and just have fun).  He still got to go (on the longest flexi I have) though.   No matter, the first walk to the beach was cold and really windy but we still got our walk in!

This is my brother on a walk where we had virtually the whole place to ourselves  (must have been a weekday).

We had one day that we saw many surfers and paddle boarders out there.
This was  a huge tree that had  (obviously) washed up and had all these  creatures on it.  I have no freaking idea what these are so put in the comments if you know!   There were thousands and sadly I'm sure that if the log didn't wash back out they would perish.

The tunnel of trees we walked through to get to the beach.   Also skeeter heaven (as there is a lot of marshy area so walk fast)!

Since we couldn't walk and let the dogs go we did one trip where we just found a great spot in the sunshine to sit and hang out.   Interesting enough, Epic did great while just digging in the sand and of course Josie joined in.   My brother and Sterling have a super special bond so Sterling (who was exhausted from the walk already) stayed out of the way of the others.   I have to say though I think the  first photo is my all time favorite.

We had one spectacularly craptastic weather day where it blew and poured rain so no beach that day but a road trip with the dogs.  We loaded up and headed to Tillamook where Kent and I both wanted to stop at the Tillamook Creamery and do some shopping.  Well we also had lunch and the some of the best cheesy goodness you could ask for!   We also hoped to see the Air Museum but alas it was Monday and closed - so next time (I've been there but knew Kent would enjoy).  

That trip also involved a stop at Depoe Bay for salt water taffy (sadly it and the chocolate from the place I always go was so old it was pretty bad).   Not to worry when we tripped down to Newport Bay I got fresh stuff!

I'll leave you on this post with a little glimpse of camper life with 5 dogs and a small camper.   We had to make some adjustments because Epic wasn't able to jump off the bed without possible side affects.

I'll finish up South Beach and our trip home in the next post.

 

 

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/south-oregon-lighthouses-and-south-beach-2-of-3 Thu, 12 May 2022 16:33:52 GMT
Helena to Oregon Dunes (long) 1 of 3 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/post-plague-trip-finally-part-1---oregon-dunes It's been a long 3 years since I've had a salt water "fix" so after MANY months of  planning the trailer made it's remodel shake down voyage.    I'll tell you we had a really rough start though so a little pre-trip information.    About 3 weeks before we left Epic started having issues with horrible pain in his neck, shoulders and ribs.   On top of that he also ended up with a raging ear infection (we suspect because of inability to shake his head due to the other stuff happening).   We did intensive rehab, acupuncture, soundwave and chiropractic literally  up to the day we left (more on that in a minute).  He was barely able to move without screaming in pain.   I cannot  tell you how stressful that was for me on top of all the work nonsense going on at the time (on top of trying to get everything ready for our trip).   I think I was as big of a mess as he was - I just wasn't in the physical pain.   So I stocked up on anything that would help his pain got helpful advice from the vet and our chiropractor and prayed he'd at least be able to travel and that being  in the truck for 4 days wouldn't make things worse.

I had planned to take the day before departure off from work but with all the added stress, appointments and such I took 2 days and am glad I did.   We left on a Thursday but again, the Gods were telling me to slow down.  As I filled the trailer water I had a hose leak in the garage.  As I went in to go shut it off, I slipped on the floor, hyper extended my left hamstring/leg and landed  on my right knee.   God bless my friend and chiropractor Terri who  offered to see me literally on our way out of town on Thursday at 7:30 a.m.   I am so glad as Epic  woke up that morning screaming in pain again and barely able to walk because his  neck was messed up.   She fixed us up and off we went - never so glad to get out of town  and away for vacation and praying we'd remain in one piece (honestly, I was really starting to wonder if  it was a good idea to leave at all).

This is a map of the first part of our trip.

The drive was uneventful to our first overnight spot.   It was sad to see how dry it  was all the way across to Spokane.   The rivers should be running high and muddy but they all looked like they do in August.  Our first night was spent at a HipCamp spot south of Cheney WA.   I've started using HipCamp as an alternative option for some overnight spots especially in areas where RV camping is sparse or crappy.   I've always wanted to have a location around Spokane that I could overnight easily on my trips to the West Coast.   The place was awesome and although I  was too tired to do any stargazing (that is one of their activities as they are out where there is no light pollution)  I still enjoyed that it was quiet, our host was lovely and the bonus was the acquisition of 1/2 dozen amazing fresh eggs for the rest of my trip!   Side note:  All the photos here are from either my phone or my little hiking camera - I had the big ones with but didn't dig them out deciding to try to see just how good (or not) the other 2 would work.  

They had chickens, ducks and kitties roaming around which of course really intrigued  my dogs in the camper and were just fun to watch.   Epic seemed to be feeling better and when he actually pulled a ball out of the toy box I had hope he was on the mend as he'd not even touched a toy (his neck was so bad he even had a hard time eating much less chomping a ball) in over 3 weeks.

Next day we took the "back way" down to Boardman where we ALWAYS stop and stay on our way as it is just a marvelous spot.   I stupidly had booked a site I'd had before (#15 which has great big lawns  and awesome views but...) not reading my notes  that it was a bugger to back into.  But we made it and honestly the trip down there (via 95 and Walla Walla) was quite pleasant.   We were rewarded with yet another universal slap in the face when my water pump wouldn't pump water.   Some trouble shooting on the phone with my handy dandy brother and discovered that at some point over time I'd gotten algae in my fresh water tank.  How did that make it through my fresh tank cleansing I did a few weeks prior AND  not  give me a problem the night before - dunno!  It sucked - or rather didn't and all we could surmise  was that it depended on the bumpiness of the roads and how much the stuff got stirred up.  Who knows.   Solution was to pull off the water filter, rinse it, run a bunch of water through the pipes (kitchen sink and shower) without their screens until it  was happy again.  Geez!  Should I turn around and just throw in the towel?

Once resolved though  we were rewarded with a lovely quiet evening (although cold - so glad I had brought the dog bed heating pads  for the two nekkids and two electric space heaters  for the rest of us (one of the suggestions our vet had  was to try to make sure Epic stayed warmer at night so he wasn't constricting those muscles curling up to stay warm).

Like my fun "Happy Camper" jammies?   A gift from Tinker's Mom Linda.  The next day Epic and I did a short walk at the marina where the trees were blooming and got his poop and Sterling's done (as for some reason they weren't getting enough movement in the expens to do it apparently).

Again, can't say enough about  Boardman Marina and RV Park but you must get reservations early if you want to stay there (the reservations open up online  for the season the first part of January).   Full hookups, great walking paths and quiet (this is  family friendly not party friendly) with super nice check in folks and the place is immaculate!

We hit the road headed to our next camping spot at Tumalo State  Park by Bend.   I had always wanted to see the John Day Fossil Beds Painted Hills Unit  so decided to work our way south with a planned stop there  to see what we could.  The research I had done indicated we would probably be able to park up at the Vista Point. What I didn't think about is that it was Saturday and everyone and their dog would be there.    The trip took us down 19 and through the most lovely and well kept small farm town I think I've ever seen.  Condon, OR.   After talking  with my OR expert (Lori you are the bomb) apparently Condon and John Day are pretty popular retirement communities as well.   I was so impressed.    The drive was very interesting with wind farms, what I think is a new ginormous solar farm, and lots and lots of just really cool scenery.   If you have  the chance to take that highway I highly recommend it.  It isn't the fastest drive but it is worth it.  It also goes through some great National Forest.   That said I did map out and take a cut across to get to Mitchell (207) that was okay but I think I'd have been better served with the truck and trailer to just take 19 down to 26.   Drive and learn.  It was a pretty narrow and really slow going road and not the best kept.   

I went up the gravel road to the fossil beds Visitor Center hoping to find a  ranger that might be able to tell me if the truck/trailer could go to the Vista.   None around and based on 1.  the amount of traffic we met and that went by the center and 2. the fact I barely found a place at the  center to park I decided it best to not go all the way up.  So no "iconic" photo from Painted Hills BUT we had passed a pullout that had some cool painted hills where not only could I fully pull off the road but the dogs could get out and stretch.    So we did and had the  pullout all to ourselves!

Since there was no one there I honestly believe it was a better stop than we'd have had with all the yahoos up at the "official stop".    After that onward to Bend/Tumalo where we ran into a raft of classic cars  who must have had a rally in Redmond and on to the off the trail Tumalo State Park.   Kind of confusing as the actual PARK is on one side of the road  but  you get to the campground entrance on the OTHER side of the road first and of course I missed it.  Lovely OR State  Park camp hosts (honestly I've rarely found any that were bad).  I drove up and the lady said "I hope you have a reservation?" to which I replied - "of course!".   Lovely park with quite a few tent  campers but again, some pretty tight backing.  The spots may be long enough  for the rigs but the roads to the spots aren't really wide enough.   Took some fanageling (and asking a tent camper dude to watch so I didn't hit any boulders  I couldn't see) and got in finally.   I knew we would have electric and water hookups  but was  surprised to also see sewer (although I didn't need it as I'd dumped tanks  at Boardman).    We were tuckered out and and another cold night was  upon us (and all the tent campers including the one with a 2 year old who was NOT happy to be cold the next morning).

Would definitely recommend the park but be careful with rig sizes and the spots you pull in.  We were in site 56 which had a big boulder across the road I had to avoid with the truck and a hillside of boulders behind (tricky when dropping the gate to pull the expens  out).   Next morning as I was loading the poodles into the truck (had brought along the dog ramp as Sterling too is having trouble getting his  rear in the truck) Epic had another episode and was screaming.  Got him into the truck, gave him some CBD and we left.

From there we headed to the Oregon Dunes to meet my brother.   I headed down 20 and cut across 58 to I5.  Again 58 was an amazingly beautiful drive, 2 lanes but plenty of pullouts and passing lanes.   Quite a bit of truck traffic but gosh the mountains and lakes were great.   We found a fabulous chain up area (they weren't in use this time of year and provide great spots to pull off and stop if you need to) where everyone got out for a stretch, potty and lunch.  Epic seemed to be better as I now was being extra careful getting him  in and out of the truck and always used the flexi lead as to not put pressure on his neck (we also put on his harness when we could).   I5 was exciting as always but only a short hop to get to 34 and head west to Reedsport.    Another lovely highway to drive and even more entertaining to watch the 100s (I kid you not) of toyhaulers, trailers with toys, toys on trucks heading home after a weekend at the Dunes (this was Sunday after all).   I arrived at Riley Ranch (an ATV people's campground Kent had stayed at before) that allows direct access to the dunes.  I was there right at check in time (2:00 and check out was at noon) and low and behold, both my spot and Kent's were still occupied and NO ONE around either spot.   Kent, who was probably only 20 miles behind me pulled in and we did the loop again, still no one around to even indicate they were packing up.   Now after making reservations 6 months in advance and driving 2-4 days to get there the LAST thing I want to find is that my spot is taken!  So I parked up in the entrance lot  and Kent went to every one of the 3 campground hosts spots - not  a  hosts to be found.   He also talked to someone picking up the garbage and was told basically "good luck finding one of those hosts".  He also stopped and talked to someone in one of the other loops who also indicated that there had even been a big domestic dispute the night before and not a host to be seen.  Great!   So we parked in a field not far from our assigned spots.   About 4 p.m. the motorhome finally pulled out of his spot but meanwhile we  found out the spot down below  that had been empty all weekend - and gee not reservation slips so I went up and parked in his reserved spot (the  idiots in MY spot didn't leave till after 6 that night) and by 5 p.m. decided that Kent would pull  into the one below.  What a cluster and after Kent revealed that the same issue had happened last time he was there we decided one of our missions would be to find someplace else to camp next time  we did the Dunes.  None the less, the spot he got was better than what we had reserved, not a single park person came by to ask why he was in that spot (and that mine was empty), no one came  by with reservation tags (altho a park truck drove the loop at least twice a day) and we never EVER in our 5 nights there saw any one of the camp hosts!  Whatever.   On our last day there some old lady who proclaimed herself to be the "manager" (Kent remembered she was the camp host that gave him loads of excuses last time he was there and his spot was taken) rolled by and asked Kent if we were leaving and was oh so surprised when he said we'd been there all week.   Bottom line - Riley Ranch, Coos Bay (run by the county I believe) - NOT RECOMMENDED - not because the place is bad, the sites were really nice but because it isn't managed at all (read "the wild  wild west for getting spots" even if reserved).   Okay enough whining - here's some photos:

I got my first side by side ride with my brother (actually we did a few) and oh my word the expanse of those dunes is just amazing (as is the opportunity to get lost).   It was super fun and I thank him for bringing it along so we could go play.  Last ride though I did end up with a grain of sand in one of my eyes that took almost a week to work out.  What I didn't know was he has no windshield so next trip I will invest in a full face helmet to wear!

I'm going to leave you here with a couple of videos from the side by side rides (youtube links) below.

Oregon Dunes 1

Oregon Dunes 2

 

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2022/5/post-plague-trip-finally-part-1---oregon-dunes Sun, 08 May 2022 22:00:52 GMT
Camping Wild Sorta https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/7/camping-wild-sorta We are back from a week long camping trip to NW Montana.   We loaded up my Mom and  the dogs to caravan with my brother to our favorite campground for his birthday (55).   We broke the drive up into a few hour  trips and did our first every HipCamp stay.   HipCamp is a newer online booking option much like a VRBO.   We stayed at a small farm outside off Arlee and actually enjoyed it very much.   The host was great and patient with our first ever attempt at this and their spot was dry camping in a pasture spot beside their house.  We were able to park nose  to tail and put the awnings out so both our doors  faced each other.   Made it nice for sitting outside.    I  also  used my new generator for the first time and was thrilled to have it since it was really hot when we got there and since it was dry camping no hookups.  This  way I could use the air  conditioner to cool off my little toaster oven  trailer.

We got moving the next morning a little later and headed out towards Libby.   We had managed just 4 nights but figured better than nothing.   It was smokey (as you can tell above) but not bad.   Just part of how the summer goes this year.    We spent the 3 days paddling, swimming dogs (including a lesson for Oliver), playing Mexican Train  dominos (my brother was teaching Mom and me) and celebrating his birthday.   Mom and I got a few walks around the campground in as well and okay there was also some movie watching and maybe a couple naps.

I came across this really weird insect exoskeleton out on some of the reeds.   Not at all sure what it is to be honest but maybe a dragonfly as I know they shed their skins  as they grow and there were a ton of em around.

 

 

This is what happens after an afternoon of swimming!

I am also happy to report that the adjustments made in my trailer after the trip to AZ were a big success.   Maybe just maybe I've hit on a good layout that works for the expens, door and stairs as well as a couple other items.   In the photo above you can see Josie laying on the removable shelf that encloses that area where I haul those when we are parked.   I  was able to convince at least some of the little dogs that it would  be better to lay up there  than take up all the couch space.  At least some  times.

We headed home with the intention of rolling through a few  first come  first serve campgrounds we knew  were on the way.   Of course most of them were full up (no surprise  really) or had switched over to reservations and we didn't know it.  I had one place left in my pocket before we called it and finished driving home that day.  We lucked out and found two really nice quiet spots to park for the night - in the woods, shade and dry camping.   Was also a great place for my brother to play with his new drone and for us to sit and listen to the two young eagles.

As always it is really fun to go but equally nice to come home.  Not fun to go back to work Monday though, just sayin.  Looks like my new RV port building kit will be here next week so that will be our priority for August.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/7/camping-wild-sorta Sat, 31 Jul 2021 19:51:53 GMT
A Tizer Experience https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/7/a-tizer-experience We had a girls morning out and went to our favorite place.  Apologies to all that commented and I didn't see till today and thank you for patiently waiting while  I'm months between posts.   HOT HOT HOT here and not looking to let up anytime soon as is the case with the smoke.   LOTS of projects on the docket though so not much time for blogging or much entertainment.    So here are a host of flora, upside down trees, faeries, dragons and a teepee for you to enjoy.   Luv ya all!

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/7/a-tizer-experience Tue, 20 Jul 2021 01:02:44 GMT
4 States, 2000+ Miles, 12 Days https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/7/4-states-2000-miles-12-days The "big trip" is  done and we are happily home here with pups and family.    I took time off in June  and traveled down to Phoenix to get my Mom and bring her back here for a few months visit.   I haven't seen her in almost 3 years so was very happy we were able to arrange this trip to get her here  safely.  We also then met up with my brother on the drive back and he is also joining us here in MT (haha they thought it would be cooler) for a few months.  I don't have much for photos as we just were driving a lot and not really on a mission for "touring".   Besides the fact it was 100F or hotter the entire time so we  didn't even spend much time outside in general.   The 5 dogs and I loaded up with the trailer and we were off.   I know most everyone is interested in the photos anyway so I'm going to go short with the words here and just do a dump of photos for you to enjoy.

 

 

Willard Bay - SLCWillard Bay - SLC Dark Sky - KanabDark Sky - Kanab Dark Sky - KanabDark Sky - Kanab Dark Sky - KanabDark Sky - Kanab Dark Sky - KanabDark Sky - Kanab Dark Sky - KanabDark Sky - Kanab

 

Countryside - DillonCountryside - Dillon Countryside - DillonCountryside - Dillon Countryside - DillonCountryside - Dillon Countryside - DillonCountryside - Dillon

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/7/4-states-2000-miles-12-days Sat, 03 Jul 2021 21:44:50 GMT
Camper Update, Road Trip, Projects https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/3/camper-update-road-trip-projects And here we are at the end of March already.   Hard to believe but time does march on with or without us for sure.   It is really trying to act like Spring here but oh my gosh it is SO DRY!    If it gets as warm today as they say I may drag the hoses out and see about getting some water on my gardens at least and probably the trees.   

The crocus are doing their best to visit and my allium once again as poked its head up way too early and I'm pretty sure the 20s the next few nights will end that.   I've only seen them bloom once since I planted them.

We've had a few more enjoyable days on the deck but the 60s we are supposed to see today are coming in with 50-60 mph winds so unless those are from the North I don't see deck time happening this weekend either.

Ahh but it is so lovely when the sun is out to just sit and decompress out there!   Still too cold to do anything out back and the sun is still too low to get much warmth back there but give it another month or two!   I'm amazed sitting in the living room at night to see how much the sun has moved when it sets.

The hawk couple are still super busy patching up their nest.   My new binoculars arrived this week and boy is it cool to be able to really see them now and how big they really are!   So glad I got all the small dog protection up and taken care of.

Projects also continue.   My knitted rug gets a few rows a week done.   Progress is slow at best.  I try to work on it in the evenings when I need to get my bad leg up for a rest.   Am loving the yarn but not sure how it will hold up as a rug.  Guess we will see!

I finished my shelf for under the TV in the trailer.   Am not sure it will stay though as I received a birthday gift that may work better for that situation and have decided that truly the TV needs to come off the arm for travel anyway.   Still - it is done and in.  We shall see if it stays.  With a shortage of "flat space" in my trailer I might just still need it.   

Of course the corner isn't actually at a true 45 degree angle so that was dicey!

My friend also came over one of our warm sunny days and helped me get the pattern laid out for the truck window  covers.   With my stupid knee issue crawling up on the hood wasn't going to happen and luckily she volunteered to help.  We have  the pattern basics done, it will be 3 pieces not 1 and now I need to get the pattern finalized and decide the tabs and all before I run off ordering fabric.  The plan is that I will do some mesh material on the top part of the sides so when the windows are down air will circulate.   This all will help tremendously when I'm traveling with the dogs and they need to stay in the car for stops, not to mention helping just generally keeping the inside of the truck cool and frankly, secure.

The other trailer item finally checked off the list is a way to secure the expens and the steps on the shelves in the back of the trailer.   I was going to make some sort of box to put the pens in so they'd stay put but  honestly, that meant lifting and rigging them into it.  I also didn't want them rubbing the back of the couch and they needed to stand on their sides.   I "think" I have a workable solution.  Those heavy buggars are honestly the biggest pain in the rear when it comes to figuring out storage.   The stairs then sit in front of them for easy extraction.

Still lots more to do in the trailer but I'm very slowly also getting things loaded back out there (the stuff that won't freeze anyway).    Had hoped to have it ready for a trip to Freezeout to see the geese migration but it's just been too cold and slow going.   So a friend and I loaded up this past Friday and did that trip as a day road trip instead. 

The geese numbers have been pretty sporadic and they were spread out all over the WMA so we really didn't get to see anything fantastic.  We actually say a very small flock closer up down at the end of my road in a neighbors yard!   So these were the only 2 geese photos from this year and then I'll plop one in from a previous (better) trip so you get the idea.  Plus there were BOATLOADS of people up there.

Now here's from years past.....

We even drove up on the bench to see if we could find any feeding - absolutely NOTHING!   There are however more swans this year than in years past - again, spread out but still fun to see and we spotted 5 bald eagles on the one swan pond as well.    We still did the auto loop around the WMA and had a WINDY stop to just get out and stretch our legs (and cow poop snacks for the dogs - ick).  Scared up a pair of chukars while we were there in the hedge row as well.

Since the wildlife viewing was a bust and it was getting towards lunch time I thought we'd head up towards Teton Pass (there is a ski area up there so I knew if it was open the road would be plowed) and see what we could see.  Maybe scope out some boondocking spots for this summer (we can always camp at Freezeout  if they don't work out).    I also hoped we could find a spot out of the wind to have lunch.   We did but the small breeze there was made it too cold to eat lunch out of the truck.  No problemo.

Even with the frigid temps of this water (all out of the snowy mountains) Epic cannot HELP himself - he has to go in.  Crazy dog!

We didn't go all the way up to the ski area but we weren't far from that turn.   We got quite a ways up past the snow line but even up there, just not nearly as much snow as they should be up there in March.   It had more like a "normal" year would have in May.    Sad but true.   Still I have to say that drive was probably the highlight  of the trip.   Pretty quiet and of course scenic.

I was in DIRE need of a day out in nature with the cameras.   I just didn't realize how much and I'm really looking forward to doing it more.  But for now, back to projects and house stuff so that I can go do that!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/3/camper-update-road-trip-projects Sun, 28 Mar 2021 15:20:01 GMT
In Like a Lamb! Where Does the Time Go? https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/3/in-like-a-lamb-where-does-the-time-go But boy I finally feel like we are headed into Spring - even though the temps aren't breaking 50 very often.   Needless to say I'd rather be outside when it is warm enjoying the sunshine (yes even 45 is warm) rather than writing blogs on the computer - obviously!  But I digress....

I have been energized by the sunshine and a few warm days.  Even if not outside working on stuff I have gotten a couple of crafts going.   I did finish my knitting board first ever double knit hat.  I wanted a had with ear flaps and ties and found a pattern  in my beginners book that was the ticket.  I do have a few adjustments to make but I was happy with how it turned out.  Some yarn I had purchased and dog out the knitting board (that allows you to make a double knit - as in thicker) and away I went.

Next go I'm going to make it a bit smaller around though so I wrote that into the directions and we'll see how it goes.   Someone will get gifted this one I think.    I have since then started a rug on the big loom which I have to do just a row or two at a time as it does (as does crochet or traditional knitting) bother my computer wrists/arms.  Too many years working on the computer.

I am feeling like I'm actually getting some real work done though.  Still haven't fired up the new sewing machine but the weather got warm for one of my long weekends so I got out into the trailer and got that project started.  No more thinking it out - let's see if my measuring was right!   So for your entertainment here is a link to a time lapse video of what I've gotten done so far (let's call it oh 1/2 done).    Watch it - it is kinda funny actually.

TRAILER RENOVATION 2021 PART 1
 

The furniture came the day before I started which was lovely.  Now 1/2 of my garage is full of the crap I pulled out which I'll have to dismantle, find new places for and some will go back in.   This is the wall I left the paper on - because 1, I was sick of painting and 2, so far this is staying on better than the other side did.

This was the poopy (forgive the pun) part of the new flooring.   Trying to fit around all the bits in the bathroom.  It isn't perfect but better than the last time I did it! 

The new furniture is the same as the sectional I have in my house.  From Home Reserve (online) ordered and delivered looking much like this  and all needing assembly.   I love the stuff though and even better, every piece has storage in it.  So now I'll have either 2 beds (as seen below) or I can move one of the ottomans and have a big full size bed when it is just me.

Once I got all the furniture out of the boxes I decided I really needed to get the immense pile of cardboard I had accumulated the past oh 9 months off to the recycle bin.   Let's just call it what it is.  Covid Cardboard!

Meanwhile the dogs were out enjoying the lovely sunshine and getting enough fresh air so they really crashed every evening.

We of course  got to deal with incredible mud and some lovely sunsets!   (and the road below wasn't nearly as bad as the bottom of my driveway)

This past week was full of appointments (or felt like it).   One was Teddy's acupuncture and he still was fighting it a bit but did crash on the way home.   He also had a birthday this week and turned 16!   Where does time go?

Everyone else is doing good.   Oliver had a couple Kodak moments and others where I wanted to strangle him.   I finally figured out that my issue with my knee is from him continually sucker punching me in the back of my knee.   Finally injured that little tendon in the back of my knee by repetition.   I'm still fighting it and am literally CRUSHED that I can't go walk like I was before it went to heck.   So cute he may be but.....

That's kinda all I got.  Wanted to get this out before the weekend fires up as it is supposed to be warm again so I want to spend the weekend working some more on the trailer and maybe work on the pattern for the window cover for the truck that I want to make (the pattern stuff has arrived and a friend has offered to help as there will be climbing involved).   Hope everyone reading this is well and I'm going to do my best to catch up on blogs in the mornings when it is still too cold to be out working!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/3/in-like-a-lamb-where-does-the-time-go Sat, 13 Mar 2021 02:28:42 GMT
Bring on Spring https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/bring-on-spring Well we can hope so anyway.   Based on today's weather (Sunday) with its windy and cold nastiness it is hard to tell but hey, they keep promising 50 the end of the week.   I'm counting on it as I really want to get out in the trailer and start that project.

There is still lots of this going on in my house.

Teddy seems to have overcome his two nasty falls last week and I have put added protections on all of the couches so that when he does get up there he won't roll off onto the hard floor.   New uses for the poodle big dog beds - floor cushion.

I cannot believe the weekend is almost over but I am VERY much looking forward to a long weekend the  end of next week.   I'm just not ready to go back to work tomorrow but oh well.  Suck it up for 4 days.    Saturday I did pick up a knee brace (honestly it is my knee that hurts but I don't think that is the origin  of the issue)  and the stability allowed e to take Epic for a short walk (albeit slow) down the road and back.   I'm so ticked off that I'm losing physical ground by having to sit around with this thing.  Not to mention that honestly, my walks are my "stress reset".  Luckily the mud was mostly frozen as it is amess when it thaws right now.  I took the car to town Wednesday and wasn't sure I'd make it down my road the mud was so bad!

We've had snow coming through here and there all weekend and Epic and I made it back just as this was moving in.

We got a "skiff" of big flakes from that but it didn't last.   Meanwhile the thawing and freezing has made the back yard a poopy ice rink.   With the ground still frozen and it being the north side of the house, when it does thaw it is a swamp and almost too deep to do poop patrol, when it freezes there is no chopping THAT out.   I know, TMI.

So today was another pancake morning (yum) and I definitely will be going to get more acorn squash tomorrow so I can roast, puree and freeze it for the future.   I don't think I can go back to flour pancakes (which were never a big fave anyway).   I also got bone broth stock on the stove (since I'm not going out in this yucky weather).   

Last of my trip camping reservations are now done so I'm happy to say my big trip is now secured.   That is a total relief to be honest.   So as soon as I post this I'm off the computer for the day.   Think I am going to see if I can find a pattern for a knit hat (using my knitting boards) and reading the directions for my new (oh happy day) sewing machine which arrived this week.   My poor little old White machine served me well but it just wasn't up to anymore heavy duty sewing and I have a number of projects (one is a window cover for the truck) that require some heavy duty ability.   That little cheap machine though sewed a LOT of warm windows and dog collars and fleece boots let me tell you!

This doesn't have the fancy stitches but honestly, I don't do fancy stuff and if I did I'd get a specific embroidery machine for that (no plans for yet another project tho).   Basic stitches and the ability to sew through quilt layers and outdoor upholstery type fabric is my need.  Wish me luck on that one!

That's all I got folks.   During the week am barely able to get through the insanely busy work days (they go fast but suck the life outta me) so the weekends are project time.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/bring-on-spring Sun, 28 Feb 2021 18:46:16 GMT
Nutrition 6 Weeks In https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/nutrition-6-weeks-in Skip this if you really don't care about my nutrition journey - this is as much for me as all of you so might be kinda boring.  I'll insert some non-topic photos just to make it pretty!  LOL

I haven't shared what counseling I'm getting and probably should.  I signed up for a program with East West Healing (www.eastwesthealing.com).  It is all remote which is nice (don't get me on the local opportunities for holistic health).    I was turned on to it by a long time friend who, when we talked about my health scare in October was like "that is EXACTLY what happened to me"  (and she and I are the same age).   She recommended looking into this program and see if I was ready to try something like this.   I am glad I did.   I am 6 weeks in and already am noticing changes and figuring out why my body was yelling at me (it has been yelling for a LONG time I just wasn't paying attention).    So couple things I've learned:

  • We as a society do not give STRESS the attention it deserves and we do NOT generally understand the toll it takes on us physically.   I for one could tell emotionally what it did but I didn't have in my head how that was depleting my whole physical body.
  • My Grandad had it right - that man lived to 95 and I that wholesome eating and exercising (he was an avid walker after he quit farming) was bang on.    I remember his breakfast as toast with butter, 2 eggs, cornflakes and milk and Mogan David wine.    Remembering he hit the ground running every day and understood how important breakfast was.   
  • Slow and steady wins the race.  Making changes to your routines (that has been my hard task) as well as adjusting what you eat needs to be SLOW.  This is why diets fail (okay we all knew that).   I love this program as they really coach you in little enough bits that it feels doable and I can say I have NEVER been shamed about what I'm doing (I'm stubborn that will make me just say no).   I kinda feel like this last week has finally found me understanding what is going on.    

Is it tough - for me yes!  The hardest hasn't been the foods (it wasn't a huge change there just looking to balance them all) but the timing.   My body wants more meal type fuel more often (so more like 4-5 meals a day) and needs the support between those in little bits (snacks).   What have I noticed - well I think I mentioned I feel much more emotionally STABLE than I was - even when work stresses me out.   Over the last few years even the task of going grocery shopping would just give me anxiety.   I find now it doesn't really.   Makes me understand more those Mom's who look to nutrition to help kids with autism or ADD or....    My energy isn't like, over the top at this point but it is also more stable.  I don't have the "h-angry" instances and I'm also not craving the sugar like I used to.

Part of this program is more roots and fruits.  I right now am REALLY finding how much I enjoy (and my body loves) having cooked apples (with cinnamon) and I finally hit on a bone broth that I can stand (do NOT buy the prepackaged stuff - it is gross).  I first tried beef - YUCK, but I love chicken soup so went that route and made my own and bingo!    Part of the roots is squashes and potatoes.  I have enjoyed spaghetti squash before just didn't make it a priority - so now I switch that out with actual pasta.   Butternut squash was another try out - well that in soup didn't work so I got to the internet and found the below recipe for pancakes and YUMMO!    Sweet potatoes here are hard to find but I did start some experiments with yam chips in my air fryer oven.  They aren't too bad!   I'm gonna bet I can also do pancakes with those.


I make 1/2 of this recipe and get 4 good size pancakes.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PANCAKES

1 cup cooked (I roast them and remove the pulp and freeze) and pureed butternut squash

4 eggs

3 tablespoons maple syrup (pure) or raw honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup tapioca flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the first 4 ingredients and beat for 1 minute (I just did this with a whisk you don't NEED a mixer).  Then add the rest and blend well.

Cook as you would other pancakes - couple minutes on each side depending on how hot your skillet is (I cooked with butter in my cast iron skillet).


I also am learning how important the vitamins and minerals we can get from bone broth are (and especially in winter how comforting - like that chicken noodle soup for a cold/flu is) for you.   As I mentioned try 1 was a fail but 2 was a success.  You can either do this with a whole cut up chicken or like I did this last time - I bought chicken quarters (will probably get whole chickens moving forward).   The less fatty the better of course.   I have good size quarters so I can only fit 2 at a time in my big Corning Ware dish (yes I have those).   Cover with water, add spices (I just dump in rosemary, thyme and a teeny bit of cayenne pepper).   Put on the lid, bring to a boil then turn down to low and simmer 4-6 hours.   Strain the broth and let set to let the fat go to the top and get solid.  Remove the fat.   I fill and freeze mine in pint canning jars.    Use it in cooking or drink it with a meal.  Very warming.

I have other friends I know have found bone broth to be very good.  The collagen has HUGE benefits (I also do powdered collagen in my mocha and some of my other fluids during the day) not the least of which is digestion.   I'll admit I'm a menopausal woman and my digestion took a BIG hit when that all kicked in.

So there ya have it - lots of stuff but good stuff.   Food for me has always been problematic.   Bad eating habits as an adult, bad exercise (or no exercise) and just letting the stress of things eat up what stores my body did have.   So looking forward to turning that around.

 

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/nutrition-6-weeks-in Fri, 26 Feb 2021 15:47:59 GMT
Will March In Like a Lion https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/will-march-in-like-a-lion Hard to believe it is the end of February but based on the weather it sure is true!    Amazing how we  skated by literally all winter and then BOOM in February we got all the winter weather and then some.   I personally was happy to say good bye to the below zero stuff!     Since then we've had snow, rain, 50 degrees (so my back yard now looks like a frozen swamp) and today mud.   

Sadly as soon as we got above zero I got one walk in and after time on the elliptical machine during sub-zero found out that I messed up one of my knees (or rather the muscles and tendons above and below most likely).   I got care for it and a few days later was feeling well enough  Epic and I went for a walk.   I made it to the turn around and that knee started yelling.   Still he was having such a good time even though wee started out in a blizzard!   Glad he had his boots on and I had my gaiters.   Honestly it was a lovely walk up, just not back.   Still he keeps me motivated and it is still "all about the stick".   (sorry about the phone photos bad exposure)

At that point I realized I needed to stay on "knee  rest" till this sucker felt better.   I babied it, sat on my butt with my leg up, massaged, rolled my IT bands, rested.   It is driving me BONKERS (now 10 days in).   Of course it now starts to feel better when it is too freaking muddy to walk but I guess that will soften the blow.   I did finally a few days ago, get my bike out and the stationary stand for it, did some bike repairs and got it set up to start building strength up  on the knees.   Seems to be working as it does feel better.

So over the weekend I did start some projects (and did some laundry).   Far Side got me "hooked" (as in crocheting) on making some fake wasp nests.   She said they worked well for them so I'm going to give them a try and see if they deter ours this summer.   I also marked off the list the sewing of spare dog booties!

You can see the blue one where Epic has gone through the bottom of it.   So extras for him and for Josie.   I also got plans laid out for another heavy duty sewing project which I really decided (and with all the trailer DIYs) that I needed to replace my machine.  It will be donated as it is a good basic machine but won't work for anything heavy although we've limped by so far.   This little <$100 machine has sewed a LOT of warm windows and dog collars and dog  booties for sure!    New machine is on the way and more about that project in the future.   Yes, I am itching to get out into the trailer but it is still too darned cold.   

Teddy got acupuncture last week and it didn't go nearly as well as it did last time (pic below).   I am really cherishing the days left with him but I am seeing more and more issues cropping up.   Dr. Lindsay also commented that when she adjusted him "most of my clients  don't crunch when we adjust".   His fusing spine is getting worse (no surprise) and I am noticing more issues in his rear.   He also crashed on the floor  now  twice during the nights so now  I will be blocking off the couches so he can't be up on them at night.   He sleeps so deep and when he tries to get up loses balance and last night crashed so badly on the hard floor he screamed and  I flew out of bed.  He wasn't moving but was screaming so up and into bed with a shot of Herbaprin and me worrying that he might have broken something.   God love him he  didn't but I was awake from 3:30 on soothing him.   By morning he was moving, walking and ready to eat.   I don't freaking know how he hasn't broken any bones!    Like I said - am cherishing all my moments with him especially because I don't think we'll have him with us much longer.

The only goal is to keep him comfortable and happy (and he's still excited for food and begs popcorn) and SAFE!

That really is kind of a downer post but sometimes life throws us curve balls.   I was happy to not suffer the consequences  of weather like my coworkers in Texas last week and am happy that the knee is getting better.  My food program/coaching is going pretty well as we keep tweeking things.   My hardest issue is getting in enough substantial meals early in the day to keep my body going.    Growing up on that 3 meals a day routine is hard to change!    Am excited though to start feeling the difference.   I definitely am feeling more stabilized in my emotional state and my energy is definitely more balanced than it has ever been.    Things that would have "sent me over the edge" before no longer seem to do that and Lord knows I can use more calm!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/will-march-in-like-a-lion Wed, 24 Feb 2021 01:06:12 GMT
What a Week of Subzero Looks Like Here https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/what-a-week-of-subzero-looks-like-here I have to say that I am glad that they gave us full warning that the cold was coming and I am very glad I heeded the warning of it.     I am thrilled to report it appears that the thermometer is finally headed in the upward direction this week and honestly, we "can" still get cold like this the rest of the month but there is a light at the end of Winter for sure.

What did we do?   We did not leave the property (and won't till Monday) for over a week.   I think the fact that I was prepared helped that to be sure.   Thank God for the wood stove!   If not for that, 1, I'd probably have not even gone outside and 2, I'd owe my soul to the electric company!

I was out every single day though.  Yes it took 15 minutes to get all the clothes on for the 30 minutes of outside chores but it WAS really nice to get fresh air.  Yes I had to dig the Carhart barn coat out of the back closet (glad I still had it) and yes I'm pretty scary looking but hey it did the job.    First job - fetch wood in so we aren't running out int he middle of the night.

Then feed the wild birds - they didn't get any water but I was able to keep them in seed (high fat sunflower).  About every 36 hours the feeders were empty!

All the while running the cars in the garage.   The little car was NOT happy (no plug for it) and the truck got started only a couple of days as it is plugged in. 

Back and forth back and forth I went, but that kept me warm.  I made it down the road and back 2 days as  I was REALLY missing my walks.   Weird walking by myself and honestly the air was so freaking cold that down the road and back was all I could muster.

Meanwhile I got to take a few days off work (so I don't lose them).   My  goal was to stay warm, do chores and get the next sign done for my friend and finish the Christmas project I started in January so I could get that all put away.   Both were accomplished.

Saturday we did break 0F so my hope was that Sunday I could bundle up Epic and and myself and get even a short walk in.   As soon as it was close to 0 and the wind  had not picked up it was time.

Epic was doubled up - a fleece coat under one of the new coats we got from our friend in Hawaii (needless to say they don't need them there).   He is now the second owner of these coats which Auntie Sue told me have been up a number of the Colorado 14ers!   I really love how they fit!   I definitely took the brunt of him not getting any exercise in over a week though as he was "full of it"!  Then 2 layers of boots on feet.  Fleece and the new boots I bought for him over those.  Interestingly he was able to kick off the two back purchased ones 1/2 thru the walk, so less than impressed.  I just need to go get fleece when in town tomorrow and get the sewing machine out and sew  new ones for him and for Josie as once it starts to warm the snow is going to be too sticky to walk without them.

We came back from our walk feeling very refreshed and had a great time spotting tracks in the snow.   Until I found this one just up from the garage.

That is a good size "cat track" and not a domestic good size, a wild good size.   So we will be on the watch for more of those tracks.   Sneaky though as I couldn't find any other tracks from it HOWEVER I suspect it was stalking deer and was following in their trails.   Spooky.   We know there are mountain lions up this hillside and of course, I've not seen any but you normally do not.   This cold spell will move them down to easy pickings and we have a boatload of people up here with free chickens  and the like.    That is the reason I don't spend time outside much after dark to be honest.

So that's it for us for the "subzero  week".   It wasn't pleasant but it wasn't horrible.   I look forward to warmth and the  unfreezing of my shower drain for sure!   But that one thing was a known (does it when it gets below zero for many days) and I have heat and power and water.   All good things!  Next projects, Far Side Wasp Nests and finding a new winter hat.

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/what-a-week-of-subzero-looks-like-here Mon, 15 Feb 2021 02:59:30 GMT
Hunkered In https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/hunkered-in Yup, after months of mild weather, winter unleashed her fury this weekend (and apparently next week) with below zero temps, big wind and  snow (the latter combination of course making lovely drifts to shovel through).   Not complaining, we've had it too easy for too long and when we get cold this late in the season it "usually" is the last bout.   So we are really just sticking to home, feeding the wood stove and working on indoor projects as much as possible.   It has of course limited what I do outside but things like shoveling and moving wood up for the stove still has to be done.   Will add to that starting the cars over the next week to let them run.  

Enough weather news as I know there are other areas in way worse shape. 

The past few weeks have been fairly busy.   My nutritional changes, dare I say, seem to finally be taking hold and I'm feeling better and my energy is slowly coming back.   I also am noticing things that sent me "over the edge" before (like a Costco run) are no longer having the ill affects they did over the past year.   I've got a lot of changes yet to make but am taking baby steps.   The hardest right now is scheduling all these times to eat.   That is really the key to keeping my body happy and my blood sugar stable of course and I'll admit it just proves how horrid I have been at that (as well as what I eat).    

Last weekend my friend came over to help me move the very large and heavy kennels out of the back of the truck and in to the house.   She is such a champ and we got it done without straining too badly.    Girl power!   She then agreed to go for a walk with Epic and I and again, what a champ, we ended up doing 5 miles, up and over the top of the mountain.  It was SUCH  a lovely day, warm (as you can see by our jacket situation).

The neighbor up on the corner has free ranging chickens, thank goodness I saw them before Epic and got him hooked up on leash.   Pretty and plump little buggars.

I have a new route that I walk that is much more quiet and avoids the interactions with the IDIOTS up on top of the hill that will NOT move over or slow down when they go by us.   The other thing is that it is much more shady so snow  hangs out longer.   With the warmer temp, the snow was very sharp so I was glad I stuck booties in my pocket for the poodle.

There is a cistern up there right where the now identified, elk skeleton is.   Made getting his shoes on much easier and he was so much more comfortable with shoes on.

See - hardly any tracks.  The only vehicle I've encountered on this section  is surprisingly, the FedEx guy!

So we ended way up on top, winded but feeling pretty good.   This is an old little knoll that I used to go up to in the summers and sit and look  over the river (you can see it in the left hand corner of this picture) many years ago when there wasn't a driveway there and the trees were very much shorter.

Pretty isn't it?   I actually took last Monday off and was very glad I did.  I got some serious house cleaning done (desperately needed)  and just was nice to have the time.    I have so much vacation  time (also our sick time) to use now that they are changing their policy for carrying it over, that I am just darnit, going to take it.

Work is still insane and extremely busy every single day, but oh well.  Is what it is and the time really flies by.  Nuff said.   This past Friday did my Costco run and yesterday started on another craft project that is on my ever growing list.   Figured since I couldn't be outside I needed to just DO IT!  A friend asked for a couple of these signs and bribed me with fresh macadamia nuts.   I won't be able to seal it though till the weather warms up considerably but the biggest part is done.  I have another in the works today (after doing the artwork for it last night).

I sucked it up and got on the eliptical machine today instead of going for a walk.   Now that the sun is out, I probably could have bundled up and walked (no dogs too cold) but thing I'll call it good for now after being out early this morning.  

Hope everyone stays safe and warm.  I'll admit, working on camping reservations for the summer (which is proving to be extremely difficult) is keeping me going right now.   I've read that finding camping reservations (especially online) were going to be difficult this year but I'm really also wondering more and more about ReserveAmerica being invaded by "bots" that are booking weeks at a time as I'm finding that at least some of the state parks on there are ENTIRELY booked full (not one open spot) as soon as the booking window opens.  Hmmmm.....so it is requiring some creative thinking and I think we will look to boondock more off in the mountains.   We shall see.    

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/2/hunkered-in Sun, 07 Feb 2021 19:28:22 GMT
Looks Like a Post Every 2 Weeks... https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/1/looks-like-a-post-every-2-weeks So my hope of a post a week just isn't going to happen right now.  Honestly because life isn't that exciting and because I am not that anxious to get on the laptop that often - sad but true.  After being overrun with work and LOONG days on the computer doing it - I just have to force myself to get on and do personal stuff.   So here we are.  

My favorite part first.   Walks/hikes.  I'm not sure what to call them, still up in my area on the roads but it so feels like being in the mountains and now that I'm actually now walking one of my loops more backwards - even less traffic (specially important with the a-hole drivers from up on top of the hill that will NOT slow down or move over when they see us).   Epic and I did a few walks trying out the trekking poles and getting him used to them.  He's still not convinced.  We did some desensitizing and even some tug which seemed to help.  

He'd rather not mess around with that stuff, give him his  stick and let him go.   The biggest issue I have with him is getting him to walk ON leash out in front.   A lifetime of teaching him to walk  on a loose leash and on my right or left side is  biting me in the butt.   So I decided one of the things we are going to try is a skijoring harness (to encourage the "pull") and a hip belt for me.   I just really want that stability I get with the poles while not tangling up him.   It's a process.

We had some lovely days to walk and actually today did our first 5+ miler.   Holy crap that about did me in but we did it.  Even Epic was dragging by the time we got back.

Yup I even got brave and took both with me since we've not walked in 2 days (I was not feeling great Friday and Saturday was just too freaking busy).   Josie continues to LOVE these walks and she explores like crazy, that nose of hers is something.   I don't think I ever showed you guys the long long ago poached deer up the back road.

At least I think it is deer but now looking at the pictures looks too big.  I dunno.   I don't normally let the dogs go explore but needed to catch my breath and honestly I know it is a long time ago as there is nothing left and they never even veered that way to smell it.

Josie also got (or maybe it is that I got) a new pack.   She likes to go but needs to have the chance to rest those short legs after about 3.5 miles.   Not only is she short but she puts on probably 4.5 miles for our 3.5.   We did some experiments in the house with lots of treats and today, as she pooped out, I found a spot to put her in and hauled her home to see how it  would  go.   I love the design of the pack, especially the part that the dogs go in (they face forward over your  shoulders not backwards) and she was really secure.   I however found it isn't terribly comfortable.   Because she is a small and the pack is the "small version" it rides so far up my back and on to my shoulders that it wasn't all that easy or comfortable to carry her.  Oh it is way easier than carrying her in my arms but they have some design flaws.  A longer pack with a hip belt would be significantly more comfortable for human.  Still it worked pretty darned well and she took to it very nicely.

I tell you it really bothers me days I can't get any walk in but I'm trying to just honor my body.  I will say this much, Epic and I walked down to the mailbox this past week one day and that uphill on the way back that always just filled me with dread, was a piece of cake after hiking up the mountain behind my house all these days this month.

My nutritional program is going sort of  okay.   The  first week was stressful and very overwhelming and I told my coach as much.   She just hit me with toooooo much that first visit.   So I backed off enough to do what I could handle right now.   If I stress out over this and get too overwhelmed I won't do  it.    This past week went way better with that mindset  for sure.   I will say, the trying to get more  "logs" on my fire during the day has been way more challenge, I think because one, I'm not that keen on spending precious time in the kitchen cooking and two, I am more of a grazer so I would rather just put things in one at a time.   Work in progress.   But I finally did manage to get my squash cooked off AND have decided my best bet for the sweet potatoes is making them into chips.

Those ones on the bottom were perfecto.   I need to find a mandolin slicer (a bit worried after I managed to slice of a bit of my pinkie  finger tip just with the new veggie peeler). 

We've had some insane weather.   We had a super high wind event one day - as in 60mph sustained at some point.  Lots  of damage in town and around.   Many trees down, power poles, things blown over in general.    Lost some super old  trees in town people lost.   I was rather shocked when I walked up back and found that one of my young trees, not even one that was standing out along was down, ripped up the roots and all (lets face it pine trees have really shallow roots but still).   More shocking is that the old dead tree with the treehouse was all still standing (see it behind the downed one in the photo).

But we've had some lovely days as well - just no moisture which really didn't help the wind event.

We also have had some stunning sunsets although they've been odd, nights  I think they will be spectacular, I set up the time lapse and they are blah.   

There has also been planning and computer time (more of it) to do things like  figure out how to get my drivers license renewed (what a pain in the rear) as well as the much more exciting trip this summer to go pick up my Mom and bring her back here to visit.  I'm super excited to be able to have her visit this summer after missing the last 2!   Since I have loads of vacation  time to use, am stir crazy not having camped much I told her it would be safer for her and no problem for me to just hook up the trailer and come get her.   I have 2/3 of my camping reservations made and the last one is at a state park that doesn't open up their reservations for another month or so.   We'll see how it goes but I'm excited.

Okay kids, I'm all about Masterpiece Theatre on Sunday nights so this is gonna get wrapped up and published so I can make some popcorn and sit down and watch PBS!

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/1/looks-like-a-post-every-2-weeks Mon, 25 Jan 2021 02:03:49 GMT
Let's Catch Up https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/1/lets-catch-up So sorry I missed posting last Sunday.  I honestly just didn't have much exciting to report or show and I didn't want to be posting just for the sake of posting.   I also had a couple of days where I was busy with friends.   Needless to say we are still here!

As is the case with many I am sure, work this past week was INSANE.   Everyone (and there were a lot) that took off the last 2 weeks of 2020 returned in a frenzy.   Blech.   So it goes.   Things be a changing yet again in my team - I just try to stay out of the fray and get my work done.

I can say I am increasingly happy as the daylight hours also increase.   It is so nice to still see that ball of sun in the sky as late as 5 p.m. these days.   It'll only get better from here (even when we can't see the sun).   I has generally not been sunny here but gray and brown and dry.   That was until this pas few days and as much as there was whining that it snowed - it  seriously was nothing.  We got oh 4" or so here and anything pavement didn't stick.   It was almost a spring type snow though as it was so warm and now we are dealing with fog rolling in and out as the temps ground level up are so weird.   Glad it had moisture in it for sure though as we desperately need it.   Even the mountains are dry.

Probably the best part of the past few weeks was a lovely package from a friend in Hawaii who sent me a gift of macadamia nuts off their  tree.    It was nothing short of  magically yummy!   She had already dried them and vacuum packed them and sent with directions  on how to roast.   I tossed them in some rosemary olive oil I had, salted and roasted per directions.   They were gone in 24 hours!   Nope I will not apologize for snarfing them so fast!

I have a real mix of  photos to share.   Some before the snow, some after, all either here at home or on my walks.  Hopefully it won't bore you too much.

You can see above the ski hill in the distance and how bare everything else is.   Even the ski areas base snow at summit is pretty pitiful so far this year.  They have snow but when you see 36" at the summit of a ski hill it is bad.

Halfway up the hill one of the neighbors has a 3 flag post at their driveway.   I just liked the folds in the flag and it makes me happy.

I always wonder what critters  might find homes in these masses in the tops parts of these trees.  You don't see tight bundles like this often and I have no idea what causes it.

One of my intrepid walking buddies.   He is so different when carrying a stick but I think that day he had and lost about 3 of them in our loop.

I am REALLY bad at selfies (my arm isn't long enough) and even more so when it isn't with the phone.   Oliver again keeps going "ape crap" every time we leave to walk so I bundled him up and took him again for a 1.25 miler this time with Josie to see if maybe having her along helped his attitude.   Nope, by 1/2 way he was dragging behind and unhappy.   No naked walking buddy for me - check!   He'd rather be doing this:

As I mentioned we got snow the past few days.  I did take a "snow day" from walking the day it was snowing actively but got back on the trail the next day. The snow day though did see ONE quick venture out to the front yard for 3 of em - sometimes you just gotta run amuck in the fresh stuff.

 I took both Epic and Josie with me  walking the day after and I'll just say it was like dressing 2 toddlers to go sledding - I think it took me 20 minutes to get them both dressed (much less get ME dressed) to go.   Booties and coats were in order as the snow was very wet and sticky and I didn't want them chilled.   

I still need to rough up the bottom of Josie's shoes  though as she went flying out the front door, hit the snow on the sidewalk and promptly skidded nose first into the snowy lawn.   Yes I laughed.  I tried to get both of them to understand that they needed to walk IN the snow not in the road tracks so they had traction.   Not as easy as you would think.  But they were ready to go and happy to  run a bit on our way up the back to the road.

See how foggy it was?   We were in and out of it in waves the entire walk.    So we headed up the hill.....

I was trying to be very mindful not only of them slipping around me ME slipping around not  to mention the possible cars going  by and low and behold we just got headed up and this 20something in her beater front wheel drive car thought she'd  go up the hill (lives up there believe it or not) and made it less than 50 feet up the road and stalled out.   I shook my head, stopped and walked the dogs down into the trees and watched what she was doing.  I wasn't going to be on the road for her to slide  backwards into us - let her hit a tree.   Oh  my gawd.   She couldn't for her life figure out  why she was sliding sideways down the road and what to do.  I finally started gesturing to her (as she kept sliding sideways back down  the hill) and she finally rolled down her window and yelled "I can't go there!"   I was like turn your front wheels down the hill, she did, now let off the brake (why she was sliding) and it all straighted out.   We walked on and I don't know HOW but as we crested the top of the hill (3/4 mile farther up than she got stuck) I heard a car and a beep beep on the horn  as she FLEW past us.   I have no freaking idea  how she got that car up that very slick road.

We wandered on, dogs on leash because people wouldn't be able to slow or stop and we managed to get some fun photos (I so love new snow).

At the top of the hill some neighbors have this light post (and old Christmas wreath) at their driveway.  I couldn't pass it up.  Epic's opinion is obvious if you look!   But then we got on top and I got this shot  with my phone and I have to say it was my favorite of the two of them (and boy were they tired from all the slipping and sliding).

Almost looks like it was in a studio doesn't it?

I didn't do the loop but came back down the quiet shorter loop and was amazed at the amount of turkey tracks across the road.  I was saying to myself that it looked like a major interstate crossing in a couple spots but so fun to see.  Imagine my surprise when about 20 of them ran across the road ahead of us!   I of course was wrestling dogs and leashes and trying to get out the camera.  Missed those and then boom - another 20 ran across and if you look close below you'll see 2 of the stragglers.    Not much farther from there I looked up in the trees and there were another oh 10-15 of them.    I knew we had wild turkeys but had no idea there were that  many hanging out.

Josie's boots and coat did great and looking at the oh 1/4" of leg that was showing after we got home was really glad I took the time to dress her.

It wasn't a fast slog  by any means - about 90 minutes to do 3 miles but boy lots of excitement.  HA!    Saturday I decided that the  two buddies would stay home.  I honestly was a bit worried how sore they might be with all the slipping around so off I went on my own (weird to be honest).   Same loop but decided to take the opportunity to try out the trekking poles.   New old  gear actually.   I have these for snowshoeing and they ride in the camper but never saw the light.   I hoped they'd be good for the slippery trudge and I have to say, they were.   I want to try using them more but needless to say, don't think I can manage that and a dog on leash.  First impression is that it takes a bit to get the  hang of them (watched Youtube first) but it did seem easier going up the hill using them and what I really noticed is that I wasn't as worried about watching where I was going (i.e. looking down the whole time) and really was able to spend more time gawking around.   Just gives you that extra stabilizing point for sure.   It did seem to help going up the hill as well.    It also helped going down the steep section and when I did slip a bit they did indeed save me wrenching my back to keep my balance.    Did have to lengthen them when I started down the hill and I also found the when I got on the flat and and was a bit more tired, just carried them and walked.     More testing to be done but  I sure see why trail hikers use them.

Oh and I dug out my gaiters as well.   My pants got so wet the day before and the moisture wicked UP (go figure) and made  for some cold legs that I was like - duh - use your gaiters (which I always use  for snow shoeing.   Much better.

Now I'll leave you with just a few more  frosty shots.   We had fog overnight and it left a crispy crust on top of the snowy stuff.   Will end with our neighbors Anatolian (one of 2 they have) who has to of course do his job and bark at us the entire length of his property (they have cattle so he is doing his job well).

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2021/1/lets-catch-up Sun, 10 Jan 2021 23:00:00 GMT
Happy (I hope) Holidays https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/12/happy-i-hope-holidays I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and I will say ours was quiet as it always is.   Generally speaking I think I'm more excited about the days getting longer and having an extra day off than I was about Christmas.   Alas once it was here I actually started feeling a bit more like I wanted to participate.  Sad but true.   

The week was uneventful (after the sick dogs incident of the week prior that was fine) and although the weather started out horrid (the wind was awful) I picked up the walking pace and got out every day after Monday.   The 3 mile loop down in  the subdivision below me was accomplished every day.    My walking buddies were up for it and both tried out their new booties....at least for part of the walk.   Both were less than impressed and I definitely got the feeling that given the choice between shoes and staying home they would pick the latter.

Josie's required additional velcro reinforcement to stay on and although she was a trooper about it she was quite crazy about how slippery they were on the snow.   Once down the hill farther it was melted enough we could take them off.   I need to work a bit more on  keeping them on and I think I'll rough up the silicone on the bottoms a bit with some  sandpaper.    I really like Epic's but he too thought they were a bit too much (and honestly until it gets really cold he doesn't need them).    They definitely will last longer than  the fleece but they DEFINITELY don't like them as well.

We had some darned cold frosty mornings though and at least one where I realized I needed to dig out the mittens to replace mu gloves.   Mind you  once I get walking by the time I'm headed home I'm usually sweating.   I saw this pine cone spike in the road and was fascinated that with all the traffic we have that it was still standing like that in the frozen mud.   

Two puzzles were completed over the course of the week but I have found that they are SO addicting that I do tend to spend too much time on them.  I REALLY loved the finish and the pieces (not typical interlocking) in the Cobble Hill one and the second one I didn't get a picture of (sorry) but went really fast with fewer and bigger pieces.

Can you tell I'm dreaming of camping season?

Christmas Day I was out watching YouTube Christmas videos (old classic cartoons, History channel videos on Christmas thru the decades and crafts).   Far Side (you can find her blog on my Other's Blogs link above) had shown a super cute fabric star she had gotten and I was like "I can make that" so off to YouTube  university I went.   Oh yes, another rabbit hole.   I did find a number of tutorials and made some up out of old dog collar strips I had precut (but am not making anymore).   Super fun and as with most, once you get the hang of it, it goes really fast.   I also found a number of other "no sew" type ornaments to do that I've not previously tried so off to yes, wait for it, Hobby Lobby on Boxing Day to get supplies.   Sadly the Christmas fabric was already gone - literally so I'll be using my creative juju and using non red and green for what I make.   Hey!  At least this way I'll be ahead of the game for next year.

Saturday after errands I got up the courage to try going straight up the hill behind my house for my walk.   It is super steep and many years ago (before the subdivision arrived) that was pretty much the way we walked.   It is my goal to be able to do that hill and the 3.5 mile loop without having to stop but maybe once.   Needless to say I had to stop and catch my breath probably 6+ times and it was slow going for this first go.  The 2 mile loop took about as long as the  same time as the 3 miler down below.    I have decided though that I much prefer that walk, up in the trees, without the traffic and all the freaking fence running barking dogs, to walking the subdivision.   Less noise, more calm, much prettier.  That's  incentive enough for me.   Even short legs (Josie) enjoyed it (less stressful for my walking partners too without all the insane dogs down below).  

As we rounded the loop we began to see TONS of turkey tracks.   I know we have wild turkeys around as they are sometimes  down as far as my house.   In addition to the usual deer, snowshoe hare and mousey tracks it was kinda cool to see these.  I thought we might see them about but no suck luck.

Well that pretty much does it for our week.  Looking forward to a lovely QUIET work week ahead (and only 4 days) and it looks like fairly mild weather too.   Going to do some more crafty stuff while I'm in the mood as well.   Oh and the dogs are all healthy again.  Got them all back on their raw food and things cleared right up.   I am always amazed when I can get them  back on all raw....honestly it costs 1.5 times more BUT I forget that the poop production is 90% less and doesn't smell and they generally seem to feel better.    Am hoping for the same transition when I get on my new nutrition program in January.    

Here's to better health and well, just generally a better year for everyone in 2021!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/12/happy-i-hope-holidays Sun, 27 Dec 2020 16:25:08 GMT
Counting Down to Christmas https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/12/counting-down-to-christmas And after this past week I can tell you all I am incredibly happy that I only have 4 days of work for the next two weeks!   Utter chaos I tell you.

We had snow early in the week (honestly I  don't remember what day) but it wasn't much...just enough to have to use the truck to go to town but that's okay, it needed the exercise.   It kind of made it pretty and clean outside again as well.  But it did require more "snow  gear" to get our walks in and it meant Josie  stayed home most all week.  I don't have any booties (or didn't) made for her right now but found a stash for Epic so boots, coat and away we went.   You can see how pretty the snow fell, with no wind - too bad the "no wind" situation didn't last - it's been blowing gale force for 2 days now.

Stick in mouth (and over the week we recovered about 3 others he's dropped before) and we were off.  His lovely coat is actually 20+ years old and belonged to my beloved wheaten terrier Tara back then.  Fits him perfectly and I love it as  it isn't over warm but fleece lined and the top is water repellent.    That day was actually really lovely to walk since not many folks had been out so it wasn't slick.   I did have to wear my spikes one day this week and it was a slog.  They make you walk differently so not the most comfy for longer walks - but oh so much better than falling on my butt!

Here are a few more new snow shots.  I love when we are one of the first ones out and get to see all the critter tracks.  Any thoughts on what they are from? I'm thinking birds and mousies.

Another of the sets of decorations that makes me smile.  Not only because well they are Mickey and Minnie but because each day it seems there is a variety of "inflations issues" so one day Minnie  was  all bent over like she was  picking something up, some  days  the snowman is melted, you just never know.

Yeah zoomed in with the phone so not the most clear by any means especially on a cloudy day.

My puzzle was finished early in the week and sadly with 2 missing pieces  (not my fault) but oh well.  Find that is very often the case with the 1000 piece ones.   I did find out that my table by itself is really not quite large enough for that many pieces.  Sure made the time go fast but also  caused a couple of late bed times.   Super fun to do though but definitely not one I could do without the box top.   Any puzzle purists out there that don't use the pictures off the lid?

We got warm weather mid week and the snow as of now is pretty much gone (will be by tomorrow with 50s predicted - that's  why we have wind).   I discovered though that Epic's fleece boots weren't doing so well as the snow was sticking on the bottoms - just as it would feet so he needed them.   Okay, time to consider buying some ready made booties.   He now has a pair of pure silicone ones (only thing I don't like is they aren't lined) that we have yet to try AND bonus found  some for Josie.  She has more trouble with snow feet and getting cold which is why she was home.  The little itty bitty blue ones there are silicone dipped socks that I think will work fabulous - assuming they stay on her feet.   Have some more ordered - a set for Oliver and another more snow type set for Epic.  The fleece ones I made also don't last long when we are walking every day so the new ones will be a bit more heavy duty.

 

Tuesday we trudged out again with the 4WD and Teddy went for an over due acupuncture appointment.  This was his third one and the Dr. and I were so thrilled with how well he did.  His first 2 he didn't really tolerate too well, just wouldn't settle this one went fabulous and seems to have done great for him.  He'll go back in January for another.  He just needs something to help him with his very old creaky bones and his hips.    He'll be 16 in a few months.

The week ended in not just work chaos but with no less than 6 dogs throwing up in my house!   I am convinced that I got a bad bag of kibble and it was awful.  Not only were they puking everywhere  but I was up 1/2 Friday night with Sterling as he wasn't throwing up but was really bad with upset tummy.   I'm  happy to report as of today (Sunday) things  seem to be back to normal - or as much  as it can be).   I already had the plans in the work to switch all of them back to raw food (delivery the Saturday after Christmas though) but with this new development I made a screaming run  to  Bozeman yesterday to get a week's worth of raw picked up to get us by.    To say I slept like a stone Saturday night after all that is an understatement.   I  needed some of THIS by the time it was done (a gift from my brother):

Looks like our walk to day is going to be blowy but happy to report we got our first 3 miler in on Friday!   Not sure if I'll suck  it up and go or wait till dusk and go when the wind lets up.  May just plop on the headlamp and go after dark.   Right now I'm off for some coffee and to hang up the first of a load of laundry.   Also hope to get the FitPaws obstacle  course set up in the dog  room - I know this nice weather isn't going to last forever and Josie and Oliver really could use some more brain work.  Mom just needs to get her butt  in gear and work with them!

Epic was less than thrilled carrying my ear muffs but he says to tell everyone to have HAPPY HOLIDAYS no matter what holidays you celebrate this time of year!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/12/counting-down-to-christmas Sun, 20 Dec 2020 17:48:22 GMT
Cold Again https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/12/cold-again Well we lost our nice warm days come Friday although I'm going to say this....it is still  really mild - in the low 30s during the day and that isn't bad.  We've lost some of our "sunny days" though so the Happy light is in full use right now!  

I really don't feel like I have a ton of interesting news really.  The week at work was a short one as I had one more day off I had to use before year end (not going to just  give it back to them).   It was wonderful to have Friday off I have to say!  My immediate boss has quite - taken another job which SUCKS for us, great for him.   I really liked him once we got our juju going but that only lasted a year.   Head down and keep doing my thing and make sure  I'm keeping MY stress under control.  That's all I can do.

I also took the initiative (with a recommendation from a trusted friend) to get some nutritional coaching next year.  So I did a consult with them, really liked what they said and I like even more that it is  totally geared towards healing your body and I liked the basis of their coaching program.  So we shall see.  I'm tired of being tired and feeling like my poor boday is fighting a war all the time.  Hey, I'll admit it, my eating habits have pretty much sucked all my life but I'm also not going to go to someone that thinks everyone is the same and whose program is based on "do this, do that" and everyone does the same thing.  That's called a diet and I know they don't work.   Wish me luck!

My walking continues and honestly I'm seeing some progress in that my 2.5 mile walk loop isn't ALWAYS  feeling like I'm slogging it which is good.  I'm going to miles not time simply because I have never been of the mode of faster is better, just want to enjoy it and I really do!    This popped up in the  decorations down in the subdivision and honestly it made my heart SO happy to see.  Sorry it is a bit blurry but the phone doesn't zoom that  great and I didn't want to go trotting up their driveway!   You may not be able to see but they have the scotties putting the lights on the tree.

My day off had a bonus in the arrival of a friend of mine who came into town to spend the night and do some crafting stuff (got her hooked on dotting rocks), dinner and then Saturday morning we loaded up and went to the lake to rock hound.   Both of us came back with a bag of paintable rocks even though we had to deal with digging beneath the snow to find them.     Yes the crazy poodle went with as did the the little adventurer (but she got cold feet pretty quickly and she is going to stay home now till we get her RECALL firmed up as her nose seems to come first, Mom's calling come is second!
 

Guess which shoes I was wearing?

It was actually much nicer out than it looked and the sun always makes it feel warmer than you think it is.  I was just glad the wind wasn't blowing!

Today I have a puzzle laid out to start as I'm needing a break from the rock painting (and have a bunch that need to be varnished).   Nice quiet afternoon with the fire going and everyone right now is konked out  for their afternoon nap!

HAVE A GREAT WEEK EVERYONE!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/12/cold-again Sun, 13 Dec 2020 20:54:36 GMT
First Week of December - already https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/12/first-week-of-december---already When they guy on the radio pointed out on Friday there are 3 weeks to Christmas I may have panicked a bit to be honest.   This coming week I MUST get the family gifts in the mail!  YIKES.

All in all though it was a rather quiet and very lovely week.  The weather has been wonderful although dry but the sun is out most days even for the very short time it is allowed!   The wood stove has been going as well, I'm just tired  of listening to the furnace run all night and honestly the heat from the stove is just a nicer heat.   Plus with it being in the 30s during the day it means  I can open some windows and get some fresh air in the house  as well (so the stove doesn't run us out).    

Our walks have been nice and I think I logged just over 11 miles for the week and did take today (Sunday) off as I needed all the daylight hours to groom some dirty hairy dogs finally.   We are getting into a groove I think, the days I do the 2.5 mile loop I take Epic, the days I do the 1.25 mile loop I take Josie (sprinkled in with Oliver when it is warm enough).   Sterling managed the "forced march" for 1.25 miles on time.  He so very much was all about it for oh 1/4 mile then he was so over  it.   

There was even a day or two that the sunshine was just too inviting and the dogs and I had to take a coffee break or two for some outside time.

My cleaning continues and I was thrilled to find a friend who knows a 5 year old little girl that is going to be gifted the big box of Barbie dolls and hand made clothes I had for them.  All mine back in the day.   I believe they are going as Christmas gifts and she took out every piece of clothing and ironed them.   This is just a sample.   Lots of memories in that box for me for sure!   I am just tickled pink that they are going to go to a little girl that will play with them as they should be after sitting in a box on a shelf for the last oh 40+ years.

Saturday night 2 close friends came over to finally do our tapas potluck night that I screwed up back on Halloween.   It was such a lovely evening  to catch up with friends.   I should have taken photos of the entire spread as it was pretty freaking magnificent but here are shots of some of what I cooked up.  I'm definitely doing the sweet potato rounds again (roasted with salt and a touch of maple syrup - but also going to try good honey).   YUM.   The dates stuff with goat cheese and a pecan were also yummy but those suckers were PRICEY so not going on a regular menu.   The Spanish style tomato bean  dip was also very good and the girls loved  it, me not  as much.   We all got a bundle of leftovers (food for today) which was an added bonus.  I knew we'd not be  short on food!

I also got an early gift for myself in the form of a new pair of slippers which arrived this week and I love them!  They have actual real soles (because I will end up outside).

I also got the sealer coat on the first set of painted rocks.  I'm really having fun doing them and it is very meditative and honestly, no pressure - because you know, they are ROCKS!    I think next weekend a trip to find more is going to be in order.

I also started a puzzle but I'll be honest, it was a cheap "combo puzzle" of 4 from TJ Max and the whole thing went into the trash.  The printing on it was so bad and the pieces were so bad that it wasn't going to be any fun to do.   So another one  is out to  work on when I'm ready....that is mucho better quality.    No more "deals", I'll spend some money on decent ones (altho in fairness we got some high quality ones a few years ago from Costco and I think all but one of them had at least one missing piece - also annoying).

So on to December week two.  A short work week for me as I have one more day of time off I have to use  before the  end of the year (and before the  entire rest of  the team is gone for the holidays).   Looking forward to seeing another friend of mine over the weekend and who knows what trouble we'll find.

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/12/first-week-of-december---already Mon, 07 Dec 2020 00:52:09 GMT
Thankful and More https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/thankful-and-more Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and found an abundance of things to be thankful for even with the current state of the world!   Me---well thankful for friends, family, dogs and hearth and home.   I was blessed to be able to go spend the afternoon with a long time friend in Bozeman  who I haven't seen in well over a year.   Her family had taken off on a camping and climbing adventure and she was home manning the farm.  Chores have to be taken care of as we all know.

I decided that I'd take off a bit early on the gray cold day and hope that the wind we were seeing at home wasn't going to persist for the entire trip.   I had a plan...I wanted to go back to a spot we found the previous weekend and pick up more rocks (with a bonus of a stash of new fetching sticks for Epic that will stock the truck).    I was thrilled that we got to the lake and although it was cold there was no wind.   Epic, Josie and Sterling were riding shotgun.   

What a difference a week makes in the scenery.

This poodle cannot for the life of him stay out of  water - no matter how cold.   I was NOT going to entertain the idea of swimming though so he waded around being whiny.

They were both sure there was stuff in the bag (it was rocks) they should check out!  

Josie meanwhile immediately was on the picnic table out of the truck!   Goofy girl.

We wandered around the campground and the lake edge trying to avoid some weird guy who was riding around the campground loops on his 4 wheeler.   Honestly he was giving me the creeps as it seemed like he was following us - so we headed closer to the lake to avoid him.   He persisted then had to make sure we knew that he'd seen a moose down there the past few mornings (with a comment that he had a photo  from 5 feet away - THAT I doubt).  I said we'd not seen any sign of moose and we headed back to the truck.

It was a glorious visit with my friend and we made it home just as it was turning dark.

Meanwhile I'm keeping up my walking.   Finally mapped out the distance on my local walks I do in the neighborhood.   As always some aren't as far as I'd thought BUT I also get the bonus of up and down hill for the entire walk.   Now I know.   Epic hasn't been thrilled at having to walk on leash but when we do the loops he has to and right now, with construction on a house going on down the road from us we have to watch out the the builders who drive like maniacs and do not pay attention as they should - or slow down.    We did have one morning where there was a snow something so there was a few pellets left on some of our cactus (we gotta watch out for those when we cut through the back). 

Started a meditative painting project with those rocks I collected.   I am going to contribute to the happy rocks that people do and just place "around".  I want to do some for camping next year and wouldn't you know it when I went to the bank the other day, there was a penguin painted on a rock sitting on one of the driveup posts!  Made me smile.  My understanding is you are welcome to take the rocks (and I think campground kids would love that) if it makes you happy and then when you are done, place it for someone else to pick it up.   I'm practicing dot painting on them right now and will work towards doing some dot mandalas in the future but for now they are pretty basic and great practice!  I'll share when I get some more done.

For now though, I am trying out Sue's Eggnog Pumpkin pie (in the oven and smelling yummy), going to watch some TV and oh - I forgot - what I saw in the photo in the previous post - a triceratops skull!  

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/thankful-and-more Mon, 30 Nov 2020 01:15:00 GMT
Weekend "GetAway" https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/weekend-getaway Well we didn't get away very far but honestly, the weather was supposed to be fairly decent and I was really feeling the desire to go get out in nature so my Adventure Buddy came  in and we took 4 of the dogs and headed out to walk somewhere.   Colors on (it is still hunting season) we went down to one of our favorite spots at the lake to walk.   It was really lovely and I even hauled the big heavy camera along and we walked for a couple hours!   So here's some photos to share with you.  Next time we will likely leave Sterling  home (this really is NOT his thing) and Oliver only goes if we have shoes for him (his poor naked paws got pretty cold even though his coat was keeping  him warm).    Oliver really isn't that impressed with the "hiking  adventure" stuff either though to be honest.

Epic's auntie found his this really cool stick.  I think it was about stick #17 as he kept leaving them places but the sentiment is still a bonus!

The required group photo - for which they actually cooperated more than usual!

Their auntie even obliged us with a photo (and the "outtake")!

These two had their noses in SOMEthing gross I am sure.

This photo was our "what do you see"?   shot.  Leave your visions in the comments!

After our long walk we went looking for a place to have lunch (picnic) out of the cold wind which we walked into the whole  way back to the truck.   Our first choice had some guy sitting there with his rifle and binoculars looking for deer.  On to one of the campgrounds where hunting isn't allowed and we found a lovely spot to have lunch and wander around a bit more before heading  home.

Let's be clear it is the END OF NOVEMBER but this dog cannot stay out of the water.   He was so upset (whiney) that we wouldn't throw sticks in the water for him to swim but it freaking is too cold.    Notice the other adventurer off to the right?

It was a lovely time to be sure and back early enough (remember it is getting dark by 5 now) for my Adventure Buddy to get her in town errands run.    A nice de-stressing walk (and visit) to be sure!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/weekend-getaway Thu, 26 Nov 2020 01:45:00 GMT
Quick Week In Review https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/quick-week-in-review It was a pretty non-eventful week here and ya know, that's just okay.   Work and rest and well, rinse and repeat pretty much.

I was able to get out and walk every day although a couple days it required getting out as early as we could to try to avoid the mud.   At least with the snowy roads I can put on my micro spikes and walk, mud not so much and some of that stuff is slippery!

The  lower you are to the ground the more you collect as is apparent by Josie's harness.   White feet don't help either.   It has been dry most all week so things are drying up quickly and I did manage to do the short loop (rather than my out and back) mid-week.   We left with sunshine  and then returned headed to the clouds of doom - but alas they went around as often they do.

Friday things at work were pretty quiet so I took my lunch hour and got all cocky and  decided to do the long loop (about 3 miles).    While my partners seemed to do just fine it took the stuffing out of me.  My hope is though that I can at least get that in once a  week in my hope to build back my poor beaten, lazy, fat body.   It was pretty nice though to be out enjoying the sunshine.

My partners are the lucky ones as they didn't have to go back to work when we got home - instead both konked out and took naps!

Meanwhile I have started some more cleaning in the spare room.  I have a couple totes of stuff in there that I've not sorted through in years.   In it I  found a stash of cloth handkerchiefs (remember those?).  Some were my grandmothers, some from my Mom and I think a couple I had.  Anyhow, I had seen a Sewing with Nancy show not long ago where they took those (or  doilies) and made table runners with them, so I'm playing with them to see how to get them laid out to do that - then guess I'll dust off the sewing machine.   So many projects and trying to get my ambition back!

IMG_3077.JPGIMG_3077.JPG

Really that pretty much shoots it for the week.   Looking forward to a very short work week next week and extra days to just enjoy being off for Thanksgiving. As usual - no plans for that but honestly, that's fine too.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/quick-week-in-review Sun, 22 Nov 2020 01:25:36 GMT
Firewood, Snow, Mud, Walks, The Week That Was https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/firewood-snow-mud-walks-the-week-that-was Am feeling a little more human every day so this week I did get some things done.  Not as much as I want but I've decided that I'm going to honor what my body is telling me and if it says to rest I will.    Still dogs want to be fed and house needs to be picked up and well, work (yuck).   Priority now is to destress and yes, ye ol blood pressure cuff came and NO I do not have consistently high blood pressure which the PA was all over when I went in to the doctor 2 weeks ago (duh  I was in pain, freaked out about having been in the ER anda).   So good news on that front.  My week this week will be work with  my holistic folks on getting back on track.    Since I heard ZIP from the doctors office on any of all the tests they took (yeah I'm less than impressed).  Enough complaining.

I got a lovely box of parrot toy parts and started on some new hanging toys for Iago after depositing the last of her purchased toys in her cage a few weeks ago.   

Then since it got cold (yup we ran the wood stove all week)  I also decided it was time to fix the holes in my beloved slippers.   It isn't my best work but it is strong and that is what was needed.  No more toes poking out the front.

The wood deliver was all split and stacked.   I did it in spurts which is how I always manage it.  I go out and do a few hours then come go back out when I feel like it.   There were some seriously hefty pieces that I actually split into 6 or 8 stove size parts.   

It was also a good chance to let the dogs out to play in the snow.  Epic was so absolutely thrilled with the snow last weekend.    He does the same thing with balls and sticks in the snow he does in the grass and keeps himself occupied for a long time.   Sterling was out for a bit but his goal outside anymore is just to ingest as much wildlife poop as possible so his time out is limited. 

Josie was out 2 different days and in trouble both times for running off and not coming when called.   That girl is a mighty hunter and she gets on rabbit trails or deer trails and doesn't pay attention to where she is.   Here she  was wabbit hunting as we have a cottontail living behind the stuff up against the wall and she KNEW it was/had been in there!

There were some really cool colors in some of the split wood - in fact I think this was almost  the last log I split.   Amazing and boy does it ever smell piney now in the carport. 

Part of my new improved (I'm over being tired and sick) is to get my butt back out to walk.  Every day.  Right now just down the road and back but I generally feel so much better after that I gotta go.   Josie and Epic are normally my walking buddies but Sterling went one day.  He always WANTS to go but then by the time we are 1/3 of the way done he is over it.    The ones on leash are the ones that don't want to come when called.

I think Oliver should have been named "sun spot".  He's apparently going to be my replacement sun worshiper (Elliott was all about that).    Kinda keeping an eye on him though as I was sitting in my chair one night and he was out on the floor walking around in a circle, not like on purpose, and when I called him to me he couldn't come straight to me.   I see him with weird quivers in his legs quite often but that was new so I'm a bit concerned.    

The past 2 days we've had horrendous winds so we have been waiting to walk till sunset to go (as the wind usually dies down then).   The light was sure pretty.    See Epic with his stick?   

Really long shadows for like 4:30!   Boooooo.

Almost home!   This really didn't capture the pretty colors in the sky but hey I got a dog!

That pretty much shoots it for the week past.   Oh and Far Side gets a honorable mention - I bing watched Queens Gambit  on Netflix - I don't know chess either but it was pretty darned good.   Thanks everyone for the well wishes and well, I'm getting well-er (I know not a word).   

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/firewood-snow-mud-walks-the-week-that-was Sun, 15 Nov 2020 22:44:53 GMT
That 2 Weeks Flew By https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/that-2-weeks-flew-by ...and here we are in November already.    Yes we survived that snow storm and I am very happy to report my truck is back in the garage where it should be and I am NOT shoveling that stupid driveway again!  To Far Side, you know I've thought about one of those shovels and may just have to consider it.  In fact I think it was one of your blogs that put me on to those!

To my friend who sent me her super secret (haha) recipe for a new version of pumpkin pie - haven't tried it yet but I have the stuff for it!  YUM - maybe for Thanksgiving.

Thought I'd share with you a very pink sunset we had after the last big snow two weeks ago, as the rain/snow starts here again tonight.    We had freaking GLORIOUS weather the last 2 weeks - warm lovely dry weather.   Looks like by the weather man though we are done with that business.   Looks much more like normal November for the next week or so.   Oh well...can't control the weather, just roll with it.

I had all intentions of writing last week but ended up sick and just really haven't done much until the last few days when I was finally feeling human again.   It has been quite the experience going to the doctor during this covid business (as Far Side and Far Guy can attest).   Still waiting for test results but the general thinking is gall bladder nonsense.  Something I had about 9 years ago after a prolonged period of stress.  YUP there is connection.   While waiting for them to figure that out, I am working  on some diet changes for one and will as I did last time look back to Bezt and acupuncture and my chiro to get past it (I  hope).   Luckily my PA I saw said that they no longer jump right to surgery to deal with it (which I wouldn't do last time either).   We shall see, maybe it is something else.   She also said she can't prove or deny that I didn't have some serious viral something or that it isn't something totally different.   In the "rule stuff out" stage I  guess.  Nuff of that crap.

Meanwhile my wood was delivered and I've felt at least human enough to get out there and start splitting and stacking it.   It is good mindless physical stuff that oddly enough, makes things feel better.  I just don't over do it.    It is also another stress reliever to have it here  and don't have to worry about that (and we'll be firing that up tomorrow).

I got the spare room cleaned up and look at this cactus - which has been the most amazing one I've every had.  It'll generally bloom off and on now thru spring.

Oh and remember by Hobby Lobby walk about?   I could NOT resist this guy who now watches over me while I work.  He's kinda rolling his eyes too which is what I do a LOT while working.

 The poodles (and the two baby brats) spent some good outside time today while I split wood this morning till Josie decided that the neighbor's shed was too interesting to pass up.  Then it was down to the poodles and me.    They look like I feel a lot here.

Amazing what sunshine does for our souls!    

I have even managed to dig back out my dulcimers.   I decided first to get back to trying some work with my mountain dulcimers  -  I have a book that teaches how to play chords with fingers but honestly, I just seem to drop back to my drone.   At least for now.   The hammered dulcimer is also back out/up and I really hope this winter to get back to that and STICK WITH IT!   I am so out of practice with all of these and we just need more music in our house!

We shall see.  My "stick with-it-edness" has been just plain CRAP for the past few years.  I honestly am not at all sure  why either.  Something I guess I need to figure out so I can work out why.   I'm gonna say lazy, focus, scatter.....don't know.    Hoping that the cozy of winter will help me get out of that mode.    

Hope you all are well, loving getting comments and hearing from friends as always!   Now I'm gonna drop this puppy and go catch up with my blogging friends while I pretend it isn't snowing out!  HA!

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/11/that-2-weeks-flew-by Sun, 08 Nov 2020 00:56:02 GMT
Shovel Break https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/shovel-break Yup because as I said earlier this year - Mother Nature is just pissed off with us!    That little skiff we had last week - was nothing!   

I took a long weekend from work this weekend and even though the weatherman kept saying we were to get snow Wednesday, it came and went - nothing, then Thursday came and went - nothing.   Yeah it was just building up power apparently.   Luckily I got to town for a short shopping trip (yup got that Hobby Lobby wander around done) Friday early.   Friday late afternoon it started and it snowed and snowed and snowed.   By the time it let up Saturday the wind picked up and we had 2 feet of it.  ICK!   See the wind blowing it over the house?

Now normally that wouldn't bother me much, I had my wood in for the stove and I really didn't have to go anywhere but with my only vehicle being the very low to the ground Scion I knew I would be shoveling - a LOT!    Normally I'd just fire up the  truck and drive up and down the driveway and know I had it to get around.   Nope, still at the shop (yes I'll be calling them on Monday to see if they are getting on the repairs!).

Saturday I got out twice and shoveled - with "help" of  course!    Epic was beyond thrilled!  He loves this crap I'm telling you.    I have 3 actually that love to go out and help shovel - or rather make me stop and say "you guys are nuts".  I knew I really needed to at least get a path to the wood pile shoveled.

Needless to say there were puddles of snow all over the house when we went in!

Sunday dawned sunny but not warm.   I decided though I really needed to get started on the driveway.   No way the car would be able to get up and down it even if it melts some.   I am writing this during my coffee break!

I neighbor has plowed on the road which is lovely but that just means more for me to shovel out at the bottom.  Oh well, I'm off work yet tomorrow so will likely finish up then.   It's just going to get more heavy as it melts.   I will cancel my chiro for Monday I think but I have to be able to get to town on Wednesday.  

To think 2 weeks ago I was saying good bye to my brother after we spent almost every evening hanging out on the front  deck!  What a difference 2 weeks makes huh?!

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/shovel-break Sun, 25 Oct 2020 21:20:44 GMT
Weird Few Weeks https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/weird-few-weeks But I will say generally things seem to finally be looking up compared to the previous weeks.   That said, I am excluding THIS!

Yeah it sucks and even more so the predictions for below 0F coming in the next few days.  BOOOOOO!   We normally have a cold snap and snow on Halloween but this is 2 weeks early!   What the heck.   Regardless the fire fighters will be glad to see it and well, we need the moisture.  I'm just not quite ready to hunker in yet although I sure have more than enough inside stuff to keep me occupied for a long long time!   I did this week get the rest of the agility equipment put away and tarps on the remainder of the patio furniture.  Not sure how the pergola roof will hold up but time will tell.  My only remaining prep is to get the battery out of the riding mower and brought inside.

Since the weather SUCKED last weekend I knocked off the dog grooming from the list.  They weren't thrilled but I can tell by how they are acting they feel a TON better.   They were just filthy!    Poodles now look like poodles, cresteds look like cresteds and well naked Oliver, looks the same clean or not.

Even in ordinary iphone photos they look better!  haha    

Good news on my truck although I think it'll probably be Thanksgiving before I get it back.   So this girl is hoping for little to no snow till that happens.  

Work is still a bit crazy but I'm taking a few extra days off (so I don't lose them) which I hope will help my attitude. 

I'm happy to report at least 2 of my old facebook friends have found me back and made contact.  Luv you guys! 

Oh and thanks for the comments on the sourdough post.  Lori, I've copied off the Turkish bread recipe and am going to try it as yup, my starter went bad so before starting more will give that a go.   First though I have a date set for a tapas potluck with a few of my friends on Halloween so I've got some recipes to work up for that.  Kinda excited and am taking a cue to step outside my comfort zone as one friend is a vegetarian so need to lean that way.   Will let ya'll know what I do and what turns out!  

Meanwhile my whole TWO Halloween decorations went up a few weeks back - you remember the skeleton and dog from last year?  Well I'm not ordering anything delivered by UPS till this goes down but I absolutely love the idea my brother had to get a kids UPS costume.  Next year I'm going to cut a hole in the pants and put the fabric in dog mouth.   My UPS guy is a bit "uptight" so am sure he won't see the humor but it makes me laugh.  It also makes me double take as I look out the window and keep thinking I see more than just a skeleton.   The little kids costume fit PERFECTLY!   Yes I'm a sick woman.

I really don't have anything else exciting to report.   Looking forward to a long weekend, have plans for some errands in town (the mouse traps have been depleted) and I'm feeling the need for a Hobby Lobby look around (and I need to get cord to fix one of my dining room shades).   I've dug out my music and my dulcimers and am starting AGAIN with my Mountain Dulcimer Field Guide in an attempt to learn to finger chord.   Haven't gotten on the hammered dulcimer to tune it up yet but it is up on its stand where it stares at me asking for exercise.    With company coming over next weekend I also have some house cleaning to do and Iago is totally on my list for a clean.  That will be around bringing in wood for the stove since it's gonna get cold enough to fire  it up.   

It's gonna be a LONG WINTER!

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/weird-few-weeks Fri, 23 Oct 2020 00:23:36 GMT
Sour-Puss https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/sour-puss I am probably dating myself  saying that.  Anyone else remember that term or used it?

On the topic of "sour" this past Spring I decided to try my hand at sourdough.   Something I'd never done before.   Off to the internet I went looking for recipes for starter.  What a rabbit hole that was!   Not only that but finding yeast or even flour during the hording  that was happening was all but impossible.   I tried a number of recipes but finally landed on a starter recipe I thought made sense.   I tried a few with yeast but just didn't have luck with them and it didn't make sense to me that "back in the day" that they would use yeast.   I landed on a recipe that didn't use yeast and that actually did what it was supposed to.   I was true to the recipe for the first few goes at it but now  go more by the look and feel of it.   Here's what I started with and yes it is by weights and takes a week to get your usable  starter.   It doesn't make much (but bread doesn't need much).

 

STARTER

Each day your discard 1/2 before feeding (but wait keep reading!)

Days 1-3

25 grams whole wheat flour

25 grams all purpose flour

50 grams warm (not hot) water

Mix in a jar, keep in a warm spot (more on that in a bit).    It will be a bit lumpy - if it is smooth you've got too much water)

Days 4-5  (this is also the general amounts for feeding from this point on)

50 grams all purpose flour (this is about 5 tablespoons - I got tired of weighing)

50 grams warm water (this is a scant 4 tablespoons)

What did I learn?

  • My house isn't always warm enough to get a good ferment on.   I leave it on the stove (where I have the tea kettle that I use to make coffee) and when it is colder I'll run the microwave EMPTY for about a minute and then sit it in (this works really well at night)
  • You don't HAVE to feed this thing every day but you DO have to do it every other day unless you want to stretch that time longer which  you can do every 3-4 days (after the initial  week) in the fridge but let it come to room temp before feeding.
  • I no longer measure the water but go by the look of it when I feed.   Little lumpy but the flour has to be absorbed.
  • If it isn't "cooking" like I think it should - replace part of the all purpose flour with whole wheat - that whole wheat flour has the "good stuff" in it to ferment.
  • I don't always use the full 5/4 tablespoons feeding, it depends on how much  I've tossed out/used as I don't want it fermenting over the top.

I have had success doing bread but am still working on it as I really want it to be less dense than I am getting,  I have a current recipe that is a 2 day bread, I bake it on my very old Pampered Chef baking stone and to get the crust I flip my big metal mixing bowl over it for the first 1/2 of the baking time.   But I digress and if I ever get one I like I'll share.

What I DO want to share is an amazing recipe a friend shared with me for Crumpets.   This is my go to for not having to toss out so much starter all the time.   Bonus - they are YUMMY, easy and don't need added flour and I can/do make 1/2  for just me (P.S. they are a great breakfast for camping  too).

Crumpets (you'll need to have some english muffin  rings or similar to make these) - the pictures below are my 1/2 recipe but the list of ingredients is for 4+ crumpets.   If you use the starter recipe above though a full recipe of this will take virtually all the starter - so reduce the discards so you have enough to refeed.

1 cup starter

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon (I don't use that much) salt

3/8 teaspoon baking soda

Mix up the ingredients (and let them puff up) before you heat up your pan.  See how the 1/2 cup starter puffed up below?

My tip is to cook these in your  cast iron pan but it works equally well in a non-stick pan.   

3-4 minutes on side one

2-3 minutes on side two

Pre-heat your pan (med high) with a little bit of oil and butter (you don't need much or they will be greasy).   The butter is more for flavor but isn't required either.  

Butter or spray your muffin rings before you put  them in the pan, drop them in then fill them.  Now my rings aren't super tall so to keep it from cooking over the top I do 3 for my 1/2 recipe.  Play with it and see how it works.

I cook mine on medium high but you gotta watch em (too low of heat and they won't rise and cook in the middle).   Remove the rings before flipping them over - again 3-4 minutes on side 1, 2-3 on side two depending on your stove (my propane in the camper is way hotter so I have to adjust).  You'll see them start to bubble much like pancakes as they cook.   I also found using two forks or a fork and knife is easiest to get the rings off.

You'll want them a little darker than the above on side one.  These ended up a big doughy in the middle.

Don't forget to get those utensils in the sink in water, sourdough is also known as CONCRETE if it dries!  LOL

I like mine with butter and syrup but ALSO love them with peanut butter.   They don't really split like English  muffins but you CAN use  them in that manner.  Honey butter would be yummy and some savory options might also be good.

That's  my share for you all, now that I'm off Facebook I hope it will get my butt back to blogging more (even if it is boring).   Good to have goals!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/sour-puss Fri, 16 Oct 2020 17:30:00 GMT
Chilly Chores https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/chilly-chores Those of you that live "north" understand the long list of  "getting  ready for winter" chores.   Mine have been rolling along with the packing up of the patio furniture (still to be tarped) and gradually the moving of items on the front deck (swing, dog beds, rugs) but with the exception of the grill which I'm not ready or willing to give up at this point (and it may just stay out the winter we will see).   I've  moved the liquids and lithium batteries from the garage to the spare bedroom as well.   I still have to get the stuff out of the trailer that will freeze but it will get done this week as well, there was a sneaky little snowflake on the weather report!  But look in the photo, there is snowing in the mountains already!

The tree has lost its leaves but the crazy caragana are hanging on for dear life.   Yup still have some agility stuff to also put up and get under cover.   I filled the feeder in the front tree this week and have had a bunch of migrating blue jays (we don't have them here normally) feasting on it as well as the chickadees.  I think the families of nuthatches, flickers and woodpeckers are still gathering natural seeds and nuts for their winter stores.

But we did have some fabulous sunsets a week ago -- before the 3 days of "wind events"!

The other ongoing fall chore actually started almost a month ago with the start of the traplines for the mice that have decided it is getting too cold outside.   Bait and switch has happened because I did find  that some of the little suckers were able to lick the peanut  butter off the  trap without setting  it off.   I guess I gotta up my game but I am so glad I've figured out the box trick and don't have to see any "remains".   Cut small hole inbox, hinge the lid with tape, set the trap in box in the back and close lid with weight on top (so nosey dogs don't get in them).   Lift box, shake and if the trap snaps, no mouse, else to the trash can we go to dump it all out.   That said, I  do need to get more traps....Ace Hardware here I come!   (you can see the corner of one of my trap-line below).

Never to be outdone the "quiet one" of the dogs decided that those food bins were really well, tempting and when I heard this kind of knocking out  in the utility room (thinking  it was the mousies) I discovered it was Louie out there  flipping the latches on the dog food and bird food bins that are on the floor.   So, Mom had to get clever and turn those puppies around (note the one above is  the  right direction).   Little stinker!

Yeah, don't think these are innocent either, I've just not caught them coming up with crazy ideas yet!

They are already bored but until Mom is done with the outside  preps (and in a few weeks splitting firewood) they need to get over it.

Did I mention my marvelous brother helped me clean out the gutters a few  weeks  ago?  He did but  I'm thinking the 3 day "wind event" probably just filled them up again.   I love my pine tree  but  honestly  I am kind of considering having it taken down now that the ones over on the other side of the fence are big enough to shade the house.   It doesn't help the hawk netting either!

One more thing on a long list of "to dos" don't ya know.   Honestly though it will require having someone come do it professionally as it is that big and it is really too close to the house as far as fire goes as well.

So how are all your "Fall into Winter" chores going?   

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/chilly-chores Tue, 13 Oct 2020 23:17:30 GMT
Rough Week and Facebook is GONE https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/rough-week-and-facebook-is-gone What a poopy week, even though the weather has been lovely and my wonderful brother has helped me knock off a number of projects, it still ended with a BOMB!

So let's review the GOOD stuff.

A friend of mine has moved and had fencing that she offered to me that is like what I have in my front yard.   I decided that would look mucho better than the expen and gate I had where the back bird netting ended (to keep dogs under the net).    It also has a much nicer wider gate so getting laundry to the clothesline is considerably easier as well.   

Then we took some of the extra panels and again, replaced my temporary (but working) fencing around the poop bucket and the windmill area as I have a couple of puppies that still think throwing the wood chips out is acceptable!

Still have a boatload of "fall cleaning up" to do out back and front but am taking a long weekend in a few weeks to hopefully wrap that all up.   Brother though also helped me get the tarp on the trailer for the winter as well.

The other project we've been working on was an "improved" (after 26 years) entrance to the crawl space.   It turned out really nice and is finished!  Yeah the horrible plywood is so warpy that I am using two stones to just hold the door in front tight.   Extra airspace and a cleaned out "hole" definitely will be better.

Work has been spectacularily AWFUL with stress so of course then more stress with life things.   My truck is in the shop with very expensive repairs needed and a friend is fighting brain cancer.   Then the inevitable that my brother is heading home in a few days as well, all which must make me stressed and sad (and I'm not good at that). 

I did also receive finally, the new crate I ordered months ago for the truck (which now doesn't really matter).  It is pretty gorgeous though.


Now for the last bit....yup, I am dumping Facebook.   After discovering a number of friends were systematically "restricted" from posting (my friends are NOT that controversial) under the new "terms and restrictions" I actually went and read the updates and when I did I was like "nope - I'm out" - I don't want to participate on a platform that, after all the privacy breaches and oh how everything posted there belongs to FB not to you, all now has decided to censor things my friends would post (yet you all know the trolls and groups out there that really ARE harmful) and what I can see from them I am going back to blogging and email/text with friends.  We'll see I guess how many friends figure out or care to get in touch when it isn't just the ability to scroll and hit a like button.  Oh well, probably good riddance in the end......if you are a friend that made it here but wants my email contact, put a comment below and I'll get it to you privately.

Now for a more relaxing end.....

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/rough-week-and-facebook-is-gone Sat, 10 Oct 2020 17:30:00 GMT
Fall Splendor https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/fall-splendor My last trip for the year with my brother was great fun (I am so going to miss him).  We took off to do a bit more campground recon and just see some Fall colors.   We got both done and were home in time to feed my hooligans (and he treated me to steak he BBQd for dinner as well).  Win Win.   This trip only included poodle 4 legs and Epic as you'll tell from the photos was THRILLED to get wet yet again.    Probably some of the last water he'll see this year as it frankly is getting colder by the day.

First stop was at York's Islands a small fishing access site on the Missouri River.  The University of Montana tells us:

"The islands were first named by the Corps of Discovery and noted in Clark’s drawn maps of the Missouri. The islands were named for Clark’s slave, York, who accompanied the Crops of Discovery. Although the name “Yorks 8 Islands” appears on Clark’s 1805 map, the name was not officially recognized for 195 years until the U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved “Yorks Islands” in 2000."

It is a lovely spot but only about 2 spots to put the trailers AND the place is crawling with cockleburs.  NOT conducive to poodle hair at all!

I am really starting to see the slow down with Sterling.  He's 10 1/2 now and although he never has been a huge fan of long walks or hikes, he does still like to "go".

Yhis made me laugh, brother had spied a frog (which Epic scared off before I got there) and Sterling looking at who knows what.  Opposites?

We rattled the Scion over the 15 miles of construction on the highway and down to Three Forks (named for the confluence of the 3 rivers that are the headwaters for the Missouri River - those rivers are the Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison).   There is also a small state park campground there.  VERY tiny but we did find a few spots that we'd like to try out.   We then drove up the road to the picnic area and had a little lunch!  "My boys" after lunch.

We took a quick trip over to the Lewis and Clark Caverns (not open right now thanks stupid covid) and checked out that campground as well.  It was "okay" but won't be on our list of places to stay simply because if we want to tour the caverns it is only a short drive from home down and back.   On the way home one last potty stop at the poodles favorite walking spot for a short potty and a few snapshots.

The photo below was a surprise how the colors worked out when I pulled it off the camera.   So even tho my composition isn't fabulous I had to share.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/fall-splendor Thu, 08 Oct 2020 02:45:00 GMT
Bye Bye September https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/bye-bye-september Actually what a MONTH (or is that what a YEAR?).    I can say I am not sad to see September gone.  With the exception of vacation, work has been horrid, stuff at home has sucked and I am starting now to feel the pressure to get things buttoned up for winter.  My tree out front is really dropping leaves and while it is warm I'm trying to get trees watered really well before it freezes.  Did my last lawn mow (except maybe for one more to pick up leaved) of the season this week.

It was a busy end to the month.....my truck has a mechanical issue (my brother my hero says it appears there was a short somewhere in the DEF system).  I'm learning more about diesels than ever, and wish I'd probably learned some of it in the past year.  Go figure.   Things like I have two batteries, the DEF system is a piece of &%# (even the dealer mechanic said, after it is out of warranty to get rid of that part if I can) emissions stuff, there are 2 fuel filters and oh duh, diesel doesn't "burn" like gas so I have no spark plugs.   Anyhoooo am now praying to the warranty gods that this is covered.

I did get my outside faucets fixed this week.  The plumber did great and I don't have THAT to worry about this winter.  I knew when I turned them on this spring they'd need to be fixed so check!   Bonus was that when he was in the crawl space he also got me back the sledge hammer and pry bar that had fallen in there when we replaced the kitchen floor!

No more work yet  on my crawl space door project, that is high on the agenda for this coming week but the digging and blocks are done.  Need to paint boards and get them installed.

Yesterday we got the trailer water system winterized.  Since the truck is dead, no point thinking I'll be camping any time  now.    Kent will help me cover it this week and then I'll need to empty out the stuff inside that comes in the house for winter.   Always kinda sad when I have to do that, like an official end to summer.  

We did a small fencing project as well.   I had a friend who had a bunch of the lovely 3' sections of aluminum fence (like I have out front.   We now have a prettier end to the yard where the bird netting covers.   Also blocked off and boxed in the poop bucket and for now the windmill (since a certain terrier likes to go fling all the wood chips out of it).

I also started learning how to fly a drone.  No it isn't a big goal but Kent had a cheapo one we'd played with a few years ago and he offered it up so I could see if I could even do it.  One nice thing - you don't think about work stuff when doing it as your focus has  to be on flying!   It does however totally piss off Oliver and in its first flight, he grabbed it mid air and ran off.    It flies a bit more crooked now and he still HATES IT!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/bye-bye-september Sun, 04 Oct 2020 15:28:32 GMT
Canyon Ferry Road Trip https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/canyon-ferry-road-trip About a week ago my brother (who is here visiting) and I decided to go see what kind of camping opportunities there might be closer to my house.   We decided to do the big loop around Canyon Ferry Reservoir and we actually were pleasantly surprised.   Took lots of notes on sites that would work for us and a few photos and also just enjoyed the drive.  Took 1/2 the hooligans with us and they too enjoyed the trip.  So here are some phone photos (sorry the good camera didn't make it in the car) from that lovely Fall drive!

This is York Bridge on the Missouri River.

York Bridge on the Missouri River

 

An old abandoned farm/ranch on the "backside" of Canyon Ferry Reservoir.   If you look close to the right you can see snow on the top of the mountains.

This old cellar was the tumbleweed collector.

This is down where we had a snack break.   It was quiet and not windy so we had a great place for a pause.

We couldn't be THIS close to the water and not let the dogs enjoy the beach!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/10/canyon-ferry-road-trip Sun, 04 Oct 2020 15:13:31 GMT
Camping Surprise! https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/camping-surprise Now I have to tell you a tale of 2 years ago...when my brother and I hauled trailers up to the NW corner of the state.    We camped in the same campground we did this year and were lucky enough to get some great star photos while there.  One of the things I said to him while there is how this area of the state was known to have the elusive Pileated Woodpecker (the largest) and that I'd love to get to see one.   To no avail I waited and then had him come over from his site to say that late one night he was out by his trailer and saw one.   I was like "sure you did".   haha

So this year I again hoped to see one since he had already (but he had no proof - see how I am).   No really I believed him but was disappointed to miss it.   Well it paid off, we were sitting around camp listening to the birds, ducks, bees and heard this weird sound.  Looked up and there it was.   It mucked around and even had a buddy with a couple days later.  So even though the background isn't "perfect" (they are pretty flighty) I got proof and am so thrilled!   Hopped on a bush with berries on it between our two sites!   So fun to see and now identify by their call (which they use a ton).

These birds range from 16-19" which is pretty big considering and yes is the largest woodpecker in the US.

If that wasn't enough (altho I have no proof other than my brother) we also sat and watched a king fisher perched on one of the dock lights fishing the lake one evening.  We heard him another day but never did see him again.   Ahhh my birdwatching was a complete success!

Logan State ParkLogan State Park Logan State ParkLogan State Park Logan State ParkLogan State Park

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/camping-surprise Wed, 30 Sep 2020 19:00:00 GMT
Camping Stop #2 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/camping-stop-2 We agreed we didn't want to do the 6 hour slog back home all in one day so decided to "try out" another state park along the way.  Made reservations and took a shot.  Well it was "okay" but I think we decided if we stay again, we go for the "higher up the hill" spot reservations not where we were.  It was super tight and not one site in the entire campground was even close to level (for you campers out there think at least 2-4 blocks).   We also discovered that the great majority of the sites were way shorter than was listed on the reservation site.  NOT COOL!    Don't know that Placid Lake will be a planned stop again if we can avoid it.   Now the area is nice and the scenery was lovely but....

With all that the hope was to put the boats in the water the one day we were there.  The weather had other ideas and with the drizzling rain off and on we turned our sights to exploring in the truck instead.  Boy did we!  We got WAYYY up in the mountains in search of lakes (Lolo National Forest gets our vote for best signage - L&C national forest could take some pointers).    We found a campground we DO want to stay at (sadly not reservable though) and a couple boondocking spots for our list as well - that reminds me I need to get those noted in my camping notebook.

So here are some photos from our explore - most were from the phone so don't judge and yes, rainy and smokey!   PS I have one more "surprise post" for you next.

Hidden LakeHidden Lake towards Jocko Lakestowards Jocko Lakes towards Jocko Lakestowards Jocko Lakes towards Jocko Lakestowards Jocko Lakes Hidden LakeHidden Lake Lower Jocko LakeLower Jocko Lake towards Jocko Lakestowards Jocko Lakes towards Jocko Lakestowards Jocko Lakes Hidden lakeHidden lake Hidden LakeHidden Lake Hidden LakeHidden Lake Hidden LakeHidden Lake

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/camping-stop-2 Mon, 28 Sep 2020 06:45:00 GMT
More Camping Exploration https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/more-camping-exploration See that is the beauty of staying in one spot for a bit (and this is our second time up here).   There are almost always new places to explore (knowing WE like to do a lot of off the beaten path/backroad stuff).   The day before leaving our week long camp we took off the "other direction" to poke around some lakes we saw on the map (the Gazateer/landscape one - that is why I'm a 4wd girl).

We hit up two different locations and checked out the options of course for camping and recreating.  The first one was pretty much a bust, the shores were all hillside and the camping area we found at Bitterroot Lake were well bad.   So I didn't do any photos there.   We then took off up to Ashley Lake which we'd sort of passed a few years ago on our trek up to the wildlife refuge.  We found an absolutely perfect pull off spot, had the place to ourselves, had lunch and let the dogs stretch their legs and play in the water.  Pretty sweet.

Ashley LakeAshley Lake Ashley LakeAshley Lake Ashley LakeAshley Lake Ashley LakeAshley Lake Ashley LakeAshley Lake Ashley LakeAshley Lake

Happy poodle with the tree he wanted to fetch with.

We were throwing rocks in the water - another game he loves.

Ashley LakeAshley Lake Ashley LakeAshley Lake

Nosey Josie even got her feet wet.

Ashley LakeAshley Lake

Oliver was trying to understand the rock throwing game.

Ashley LakeAshley Lake

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/more-camping-exploration Sun, 27 Sep 2020 06:45:00 GMT
Exploring NW Montana https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/exploring-nw-montana Our camping mojo is that after we arrive we ALWAYS take the following day to just sit around camp and do things near the campground.  Which we did!   Once rested up though we decided to find a drive to take and explore (so much to see so little time).    We decided to go scope out the Lake Koocanusa area and drive up to Eureka (not far from Canada).   We found some camping spot gems and then took a "short cut" back.  More on that later.

This is taken along the Kootenai River.   Yup that is how it is spelled, don't believe everything you see on google search (the Kootenay you see is from those Canadians)!   I wish I had taken a picture of the historical marker/information sign but I'll try to fill you in a bit.  This was our first stop on our way north (yup smokey hazy) but the river is crystal clear and running well for this late in the season.

Kootenai RiverKootenai River

The Kootenai River is the second largest tributary to the Columbia River in terms of runoff volume, third in terms of drainage area and has its origins in British Columbia's Kootenay (yup there it is) National Park in Canada. From there it flows 485 miles into northwest Montana and then into northern Idaho, then back into Canada and Kootenay Lake. Ultimately it joins with the Columbia River.

The river is held back north of here by the Libby Dam and we made a pit stop there both above and below to see it.  The reservoir behind the dam is called Lake Koocanusa.   I was all like "that must be another Native American name".  Well reading the brochures we found out otherwise.   There was a contest held to name the lake and a lady from the one town they moved (Rexford, because the dam flooded over it) won!   She took the first 3 letters of the river KOOtenai and first 3 letters of CANada (because the river and lake go into Canada) and then USA.   This thing is gigantic!

The dam also screwed up the railroad (big surprise).  

In 1970, the construction of the Libby Dam formed Lake Koocanusa, flooding the towns of Rexford, Montana and Waldo, British Columbia and the railroad line. This required the relocation of more than 60 miles of track between Stryker and Jennings and the building of Flathead Tunnel which, like the dam, was constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Part of the original main line from Stryker to Eureka is still in use as the Mission Mountain Railroad. Before the construction of the tunnel, the Empire Builder also had a station stop in Eureka.

The only visible remnants of the original route are a stub track at Jennings, where the unused original track still remains close to the current main line, and Northwest of Eureka the original mainline is now a trail that meanders over towards Lake Koocanusa, with the old right of way eventually diving into the reservoir.

 

Koocanusa Dam on the Kootenai RiverKoocanusa Dam on the Kootenai River Koocanusa Dam on the Kootenai RiverKoocanusa Dam on the Kootenai River

I'll just let you read the sign here for information on the lake and the bridge farther up from the dam.


Koocanusa BridgeKoocanusa Bridge

We then meandered thru Eureka and found the paved (according to the map) road (not highway people) to get us back to our campground.  It started out all rainbows and roses, but the last oh 30 miles of it were gawd awful and I was totally exhausted by the time we got back.   We however just a short way in, found a historic site (talk about off the beaten path) called Ant Flats and of course we stopped to wander and do a few dog photo ops!

In 1902, Fed Gerrig came riding through this area on his black stallion with a Russian Wolfhound (I found that cool) by his side.  He was commissioned to find the best place for a ranger station for the Blackfeet Forest Reserve.  This was it!   He was going to name the station Lilac Hall for as he had brought a bunch of lilac bushes with him from the east but his friend, Byron Henning teased him saying "you should name it Ant Flad for all those gol-durned ant hills in the meadow."  The original structures are gone but the white house was built in 1922 and the log barn finished in 1925.   It was a ranger station from 1902 to 1963.  

Ant FlatAnt Flat Ant FlatAnt Flat Ant FlatAnt Flat Ant FlatAnt Flat Ant FlatAnt Flat Ant FlatAnt Flat Ant FlatAnt Flat Ant FlatAnt Flat

Shortly after that the road got icky as we followed along the railroad.   After we passed through Fortine (a teeny tiny mountain town)  was a railroad building of some sort with "stay out" signs and cars parked around.  I have yet not been able to find out what that building is for but we did see active trains coming and going in that area.

A long day driving and I was shot so was happy we spent the next day out on the lake paddling around and dock diving the poodle WHICH HE LOVED!  This wet poodle was a very HAPPY poodle!   He's not gotten to dock dive in over 2 years!

 I also took the time the following day to do another try with my Omnia stovetop oven.  I love this thing.

More tales to come next post.

 

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/exploring-nw-montana Fri, 25 Sep 2020 17:15:00 GMT
Finally A Get Away! https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/finally-a-get-away As most of you are probably also experiencing, ALL of my travel plans for 2020 were toasted by well, you know.   That said, I just really needed to get away from home, work, electronics and disconnect.  That I did and it was marvelous.   The dogs and I loaded up with the trailer and went camping with my brother for a week up in NW Montana.   The drive was long to get there (about 6 hours) but worth it knowing we could just stay in one place for 5 days and that we'd split the trip home so we had 2 nights about 1/2 way.   Utterly fabulous and one of my favorite spots to camp (yup will be going back).    We managed to snag 2 spots near the water and near the docks so that launching the kayak (my brother) and SUP (me just once) was easier although it isn't bad from any of the spots.

It was smokey/hazy the entire time but honestly I didn't care.  I just took care of my sinuses and allergies as best I could and enjoyed the time away.  Not one lick of cell service which was also marvelous!

Logan State ParkLogan State Park

Many people are shocked that I take all 6 dogs with me camping but really, I've been showing/traveling with MANY dogs for so long that it really isn't a big deal and I certainly don't want to leave them home or in a kennel.   That is why I have the trailer after all!  Of course finding a place to sit in my tiny trailer can be a challenge sometimes.     We have ex-pens outside (I wish more RV people would get how easy that makes things and how safe it is then for MY dogs and others) and are set up so they can go in and out of the trailer.  They aren't ever outside without me there.

Logan State ParkLogan State Park

This spot was a favorite especially for the poodles so they could look out and see the goings on.

We watched the coots and the ducks (an armada of them every night and morning) and the bees that were super busy on these weeds out back of my site.

Logan State ParkLogan State Park

Logan State ParkLogan State Park That's all for this post but I'll share more of our adventures in posts coming up so stay tuned.

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/9/finally-a-get-away Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:03:11 GMT
In Memory - Elliott https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/8/in-memory---elliott The end of last week I said my final good-bye to my xolo Elliott so I just wanted to share some of my favorite photos of my red-headed meekat boy.   He wasn't a snuggler with me but always with company and especially my Mom.  He was 14.   LOTS of great memories and for my "title heads" he had titles in rally obedience as well as being the first ever xolo to get a title in musical freestyle.   He was a great tracker and a stubborn little red-head to be sure.  The house is very quiet and we miss him a lot.   He's running free and healthy with all of his pack now and I can only hope to see them all again someday.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/8/in-memory---elliott Tue, 11 Aug 2020 18:59:09 GMT
Trailer Ta-Da https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/8/trailer-ta-da As the kitchen remodel is wrapped up (pretty much - still a few trim items I just need to do) it has gotten HOT here!   I literally didn't even put the air conditioner in the window last year and this year I've used it a lot already.    Alas, we are getting cooler nights and I know Fall is around the corner.   Which gets me even closer to my camping trip.

I've only had the trailer out once this year - a long weekend in May.   Bummer as this was to be my big travel year till all those plans went down in ashes, as many of you also have found.   I'm also an "edge season" camper.  I don't find camping with tons of people and kids enjoyable.  Just what it is.  So even though kids may not be actually IN school this Fall, they will be back in that swing of things so I planned a week of time off.   Honestly, this summer has been so busy I'm really kinda excited!

In that vein after my trip in May where I tried out the latest inside renovations I found  that it wasn't really working for me or the dogs.  So once again, I took out all the insides and started again.  Actually to go with a version that has parts of a number of my plans that I liked and of course winging out some new ones.  Here is pretty much what it looked like before.  Lots of floor space (which the dogs hated and only a tiny bit of additional storage (under the benches).

Most of you know I have a toy hauler...and it is tiny.   The inside width is a whopping 70" and the length of the area I have to work with for bed, dining, dogs and storage is abou 10'.   Even though small, the blank canvas is really nice in some respects, in others, has its own difficulties.  One is that, due to the structure of the trailer being ALL aluminum (including studs) there really isn't any wall you can attach/anchor  anythingt o.  The up side is that there are 3 sets of "etrack" in the floor (you know to tie down all those toys).

I really wanted my "garage" space back to stow things  for trips.  The canopy, the camp stove (to burn wood - I  do have a kitchen), the grill, bike, paddleboard  and as always, the dog pens.  Those were traveling tied to one wall which limited my ability to put in places to sit or sleep.   I also wanted my bigger bed back.  While a single is nice when you have a herd of dogs that REALLY REALLY want to sit with you, it isn't enough.  I had that setup 2 years ago and liked it but wanted a setup where I had a couple seats and a table (which was my last version).   Taking my cue from the van-lifers I got busy building a platform bed.  I spend quite a long time figuring out the platform - the one before was all PVC which was fine but didn't allow me a good way to stow the freaking ex-pens.   My current pens for the dogs are 48" high and HEAVY so I needed a spot to put them that was easy and didn't require a bunch of lifting.   I also wanted the mattress to be flat, which meant a thick memory foam I could cut down.   Metal shelving was the answer to the issues and it is secured to the one bed rail (from the lift bed that came with the trailer) and the floor (e-track).   You can see now I have space to put stuff!  YAY!  Not in the truck and not in the living area.


 

Matress from Amazon and then cut with my cheapo electric carving knife (used only to cut foam not food).   Bed ended up 70" by 50" wide.   But boy that sucker is high!   Because I wanted to bee able to get the folding bike in the garage there had to be 28" of  "head room" under, plus then boards for the mattress.  I'm tall but not that tall!  haha

As I sat and admired that work, I still didn't have any way to attach my table the way I wanted.  Plus once again, no place if someone comes to chat (not many do but sometimes).   I did a bit of measuring and holy moley the benches I had in previously would fit in front of the bed and behind the other lift bed support (important).  Those are farily high as well, because they are made to sit over a stacked pair of under bed drawers.   Looking for storage (always need more) I put them back in and although  I took the drawers out of one of them (no way to open them with the dog crates where they needed to be) that particular bench has a top that lifts.  Plus I'm still able to use my lovely cushions and that makes into another bed if needed.  I got my dining table back!  

A few versions of the storage shelves between the fridge wall and the one seat were tried, just wasn't happy with any of them.   I discovered there was just 36" of space to work with so the metal shelves to the rescue again.  The drawers are repurposed from another little tall table I had and was using (really don't have any other use for it right now) and it again, gives me flat space which is in seriously short supply in this rig.   The crates underneath are secured in and along with the back, I've got styrofoam under them to protect from the inevitible cold that comes up through the floor.  Again, all aluminum - gets hot and cold so we need additional insulation in some spots.  The garage because my bed will suck up that cold from the underneath.   We'll see howwell it works, more may be required.  

As I sat admiring that work I was trying to figure out how/what to use to get up to the bed for me (and dogs of course).   The slats that make  up the middle of the single bed (between the dining seats) set on the rails are perfect so that is what you see.    I also recycled a set of drawers that fit just perfect in the middle (again, more storage as I really do need a place to put some of the dry food goods.  I think the seat that is open will be used for dog food and laundry.  Amazing the things you need space for!    I don't know that the boards will help Teddy to get up but we'll see how it goes.   I was pretty proud of myself for figuring that out.

The quilt across the back is for insulation and for protection against the rough texture on the drop down tail gate.   Funny, I've built my stuff around that quilt for years but always put it on the bed.  I was like - dummy - that doesn't get seen at all down there (and it makes me so happy) as we cover the bed with dog stuff usually and I always worry it'll get filthy.   I cannot believe it took me this long to figure out it belonged on that back wall!

So here is the "somewhat" finished product.  I still have some things to get cleaned up and put back in but generally, this is my ta-da.   I cannot wait to go camping and the poodles have already approved it.   We'll see if I got everything secured once I get down my road!


And last but not replaced, when I re-did my shades, I decided to make one of them my "pin shade".   I had all these great pins that I don't really wear anymore and I missed them.  We rarely roll up that shade so I decorated it.  It makes me happy and has many memories.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/8/trailer-ta-da Sun, 09 Aug 2020 01:21:56 GMT
So Close https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/so-close Thanks everyone for the kind comments on the remodel work and for Elliott!  I am happy to say that the remodel is all but done and I'll share with you some before/afters of that today.   I also wanted to ask that you keep the good vibes coming for my oldsters (Teddy has also hit a "bump in the road" right now).   I had myself in prep mode to say goodbye to Elliott this week but as I started watching him, I just don't think he is ready to go.   We've landed on at least a somewhat level spot in his management of the licking and although I know that his health isn't going to get better (short of a miracle) he's not in pain and I seem to have found herbs and topicals that are helping the irritation he has  from his tumors.    Doesn't mean next week it may go to heck but that is where we are for now.

So here are the before's for the kitchen - sorry but they weren't the staged "befores" but you get the idea.

WHAT A MESS!    As of now I'm back into my kitchen, the spare bathroom is back to being what it is supposed to be and it is GLORIOUS!   I do have some trim work I'm finishing this week - the floor transition to the dining room and the wall transition to the same.   The toe kicks and a couple pieces of trim went in today.    I'm incredibly happy and proud of how it turned out.   It feels gigantic in both the kitchen and laundry which is so very nice.   The upper cabinet I thought I was going to use in the kitchen went in then out.  I hated how it looked.  I'll find somewhere else to utilize it.  Still working on the conditioning of the counters and the big one isn't fastened down yet but at 110 pounds - it isn't going anywhere.   

The dogs and I are all very happy to be over the hump and getting back into a normal house again. Everything isn't in its final spots yet but close enough.  Now for a bit cooler weather as it is too hot to even be out enjoying the summer weather and doing some training but I am hopeful.  I also got a notice on FB that this time last year I was packed up living in my trailer in the driveway of my friend Jeanine as we were evacuated for the North Hills Fire.   I am so very glad that is behind us as well.   Blessed!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/so-close Tue, 28 Jul 2020 23:11:09 GMT
Project Progress & Other Stuff https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/project-progress-other-stuff Buckle up people it's gonna be a long post.  Apologies that I've been late in posting, it is summer and things are busy at work and home even with the other craziness of the world.  I still am hole up here and honestly, just puttering away.  Not a whole lot different than most summers with the exception of no dog events or family visiting which does indeed make me very sad.   Enough of that!

We are headed into our summer heat and the gardens are showing their hot flowers.  I honestly didn't have great flowering in the gardens this year.  We had a really odd spring and early summer and I think that is why I had little to no iris blooming this year which was odd.  The grasshoppers have now eaten the remaining rhubarb and even the day lillies aren't showing much budding.    Here are a few shots of what we see right now tho.

The baby hawks left the nest in the last few weeks seemingly somewhat permanently.   Once they had their first flights they still hung around the nest for about 2 weeks.   Screaming and yelling for food from parents (which didn't arrive) every morning.  In  the past week they've not been around much.  They fly over quite a bit but are not returning to the nest at all.   Ball-sy little buggers though as I saw them tailing a young bald eagle one day that had flown over our back yard.

We've had some deck time but now that the hawks are gone and I feel we can play out front (agility practice at least and only if I am out there doing something) - it is too hot.  So it goes.   The pack and I are very stressed as we see Elliott starting to fade (he has cancer) and I do my best to keep him comfortable.   I resorted to trying a cone for him to keep him from licking his open lesions - but 4 days of that only resulted in him shaking his head so much he wore sores into the back of his ears.   So I am now just keeping an eye on him, reminding him to not lick so much and giving him some herbaprin to help with pain and calm.  He is losing weight quickly as well.    Sadly I think we are nearing the end but we will see.  He still loves laying in the sun alternating with indoors for cool and he does occasionally come lay with me on the couch or swing.

My poor dogs are so bored right now (we'd normally be busy doing shows and training and stuff) so I broke out the food treat balls for the poodles to eat their breakfast a few days last week.   They enjoyed it.

I love being able to sit out front or in the back patio with my coffee with them some mornings and some evenings (before it got hot).

Okay so now on to the project....are you still with me?    I am over the hump (thanks Linda).   It has been a rock and roll time for sure.   The cabinets arrived the week after the 4th and they delivered them.  Well they had one of their new employees drive them out without any help!   So that college student learned the art of working smarter not harder.  I dug out my hand truck and we opened the boxes on the truck so we'd have something to grab on to, put each on the cart and brought them in the house.  Check!

Installation was next.  Nope never done this before.  I treated myself to a new laser level to help.  It did but not nearly as "easy to use" as the magic I was lead to believe it had.

Got my lines drawn on the wall for the tops (because the floors are not level in any house).    Next was to install my EZ-Level cabinet leveling system.  I'd found this online and will say it does make things really nice.   The lesson I did learn though is that for my situation, I really should have had 2 sets on each  of the cabinets over by the sink because my sink cabinet needed to be lifted over the plumbing it wasn't realistic to attach the run of cabinets together  then level them (which is how we did the other wall of cabinets).   Regardless I did get them installed and it is a super slick system for doing base cabinets.   Made in the USA and shipped from Florida.  Worth the $120-ish.

As with most projects, I have to do things by myself so I also learn to improvise.   Tape helped hold them in place while I screwed them on to the cabinets.    Each of those little boxes has a little flipper in it that as you turn the screw rods will move up and down.

So cabinets went in in about 8 hours  with Linda's help and her great suggestions on how  to get  the sink cabinet down in its spot correctly (after I drilled out the plumbing holes).

I absolutely LOVE the drawers and was able to move all my crap scattered around the house into them.  Yes I'll need to unload some when I put the counter tops on but it is worth it.   Drawers ARE THE TICKET.  They are full extension and soft close.  No more having to get on my hands and knees to get into base cupboards.   If you ever do your own kitchen  I highly recommend going that way!

In the past week one of my counter tops arrived.  If you remember I had all planned out that I was going to order stock, cheapo laminate counter tops and just do the Leggari epoxy on them (you saw the samples in an earlier post).   Well, while the counters I wanted are available, apparently those of us in Montana cannot have them.  Once I set "my store" (required to get the free store pickup) to Helena, the counters I selected were not available - not even to deliver to my home!   WTF!   I was so ticked off!   Change of plans then, based on the total cost of that and epoxy I was able to order butcher block for about the same amount.  Apparently the Universe thought that  was a better choice.    Over the weekend I sucked it up and cut the pieces for the sink wall including the sink cut  out.  I will tell you that first cut is hard when you know if you screw it up you are out $300 of counter!   Also cutting through 1 1/2 inches of hardwood is not for the faint of heart.   I ordered ash (cheapest and lightest color) and spent a week researching finishes.   I've landed on using oil and oil/wax conditioner.   Yes, there are more plastic durable top coats but I don't think something I need to use a respirator to apply is something I want in my kitchen.  Actually that was good because I ended up doing the sink cut out in my kitchen and therefore am finishing it there.   I did a sample of the oil on the bottom of one, turned out too dark, landed on one coat of Annie Sloan Old  White chalk paint as a wash on it first, sand it, then start using Howard Butcher Block Oil to season it, which will then be coated with Howard Butcher Block Conditioner (oil/wax) to completely seal.   Praise God the sink cut out worked and the sink fits!

Oh and I got the hardware on the cabinets.  Still have to find 2 more glass knobs (hopefully Hobby Lobby will restock) and again, drilling that first hole in my expensive cabinets caused me some stress.

So there we are as of right now.   Oiling the counter I have, waiting for the other to be delivered (apparently it is in Butte but I've not heard a peep on delivery).  Then sink install and plumbing and the big stuff is done.  Trim will happen after that.    Hope by mid August this project will be in the books - fingers crossed.  It's been a learning experience!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/project-progress-other-stuff Tue, 21 Jul 2020 22:08:55 GMT
Being Abstract https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/being-abstract Okay some probably think I am already abstract (aka weird) already but I'll be honest, it isn't in me naturally.  My crafting generally up until this past year was all by direction and patterns.   Digging into my own creative soul isn't easy for this very type A, analytical detail personality.   The kitchen remodel is getting me there.  A bit by force, but more by just wanting to do things and make things that make ME happy.

The painting of the utility room got me started. Yellow is just not something I'd normally go for.  Now that it is done I'm in love.   Being cheap also got me going.  The upcoming pouring of my counters in epoxy still freaks me out but doing the samples really helped get me out of my comfort zone and just go for it.    The chalk painting (see previous post) also is helping.  Change is in the  air.

Along the lines of the epoxy pouring has led me to a newer hugely popular acrylic paint pouring.   Now this is NOT for the detail oriented nor is it everyone's "thing" but what it does for me is helps relax me (you never know what you'll get) and make me just let go of my control issues.   And I have a large helping of those!

Besides it is a much cheaper way of playing with colors and flow than epoxy.    I also found that most of the people on YouTube doing it really keep reminding us that "it is only paint" - if you hate it, scrape it off and start over.   Well I didn't want to invest a ton in something I may not enjoy so off I went, got about 6 colors I liked and decided rather than starting  on canvas (it is pricey) I'd start on ceramic tiles.  Super  cheap!    I knew I was enjoying  it when I finished the first few with a dutch pour technique then started scouring the garage for other things to use to try other techniques.

Did they all turn out - heck no!  I  found that the silver I mixed wasn't mixed to the right  ratios and disappeared.  I also  found that the blowing is way harder than they  make it look and I think having to wear glasses while doing it does also hinder things.   It is also SUPER MESSY!   But just like your finger  painting as a kid - thatis part of the "letting go".   

This is also good in helping me learn more about mixing colors together.   But you don't know what you'll get.  So  here are some of my  examples.  No haters!  Remember this is my  first time ever and if abstract isn't your bag, don't look!

Here are my first attempts.....funny how I HATE seeing cells in the epoxy pours but they are kinda growing on me for some of these.  

 

Next I wanted to try not doing a puddle in the middle but a line thru the diagonal.

Then started playing with different backgrounds.   Remember all of these were done with the same 5 colors.

Then I tried a bubble wrap reverse  pour.  Basically you pour the paints on the bubble wrap  and press the tile onto it.  One was meh - okay, the other I tossed as it was icky.   Mind you I had no idea what I was doing on this one, just guessed.

This one was my attempt at a string pull.  I kinda like it.   

Again, some were epic fails and bad enough I didn't want to keep them.  Others I just wanted to let grow on me.

Ya know what they remind me of?   The geyser basins in Yellowstone.  You know, where the different bacteria grow in different colors.   Now at the end of it all I was tossing out the paint leftovers and decided not to waste it and scraped and re-poured one tile using a "dirty pour" technique where you pour all the colors into one cup and the pour it out.  Something the epoxy people do a ton of but I really just didn't feel confident to do.  Well with paint leftovers why not!   I  admit though it uses a LOT of paint.   I was pleasantly surprised at the result.   The first is before I applied heat and I think I like it better.  Next time will leave it and see how it dries.   The colors don't render well here, it is prettier in person of course.

The skins (puddles) left on the plastic are almost as pretty or more so than the tiles.

My thoughts.   It was a blast.   I have some more things I'd like to try and just have fun with.   Did it make me let go of my control....oh  yeah.    Were there surprises - oh yeah.   I do need to figure out the mix ratios but definitely am doing that.  Do I have ideas for things to do?   You bet I do.   It is a fun distraction, I think it will help me to just relax when I get ready to do my counters.   It's a summer only project as I really think it needs to stay in the garage.   Hope it inspires some of you to even just to out and search on YouTube and watch some of the cool stuff they do and how  out of the box they think.  I  love creative people.   

If this isn't your bag, well not everything for everyone.   

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/being-abstract Mon, 06 Jul 2020 14:55:34 GMT
First Chalk Paint Project https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/first-chalk-paint-project A long long time ago in a galaxy far away a girl continued to dream about all of the cool crafty projects she would like to do one day....

Well check one more off the list!  Woohoo!

I have always been intrigued by chalk paint and milk paint.   Just how I am.   In the pandemic YouTube watching bonanza I have started (that smart TV can be dangerous) I was able to get a bit more information on just how these work.  Chalk paint seemed like the ticket for redoing some of my old brown furniture.  When they said "no sanding of old varnish" I was like "SIGN ME UP!"

I got online and  found The Purple Painted Lady out in New York and glory be they had, yup, you got it - a sample kit!  You know from my kitchen adventures so far how much I love that idea.   So I ordered one and waited and watched her tons of FB live videos on using it (and some other things).  I also got on FB and joined a couple groups of crafty designers (honestly they put me to shame) - one is the Annie Sloan group and the other the Prisma transfers group.   I was blown away!     Now I had/have lofty goals of eventually chalk painting the hutch that my Mom gave me years ago.   

Forgive me if I already covered this story....This hutch has been in my life since day one.  It is one of those pieces that you ALWAYS see in your home and that every time you moved (we didn't move a ton but we did relocate), it didn't feel like home till it was in its place.   My Mom always had a china tea set and some other china cups and saucers on the shelves and my Dad always had his pipe and tobacco in one of the drawers.   So great memories and I asked to have it when my Mom sold the house years ago.   I was a bit worried about broaching the subject of PAINTING it with her to be honest.  I knew  it was old but didn't remember the history.    She told me that she bought this way back in the early 60s from a family friend for $19!   Oh and that the family friend had bought it used from someone else.   So we pretty much figure it is 60+ years old.   

Now I've had this for over 20 of those years and I always wanted it in the spot above BUT I have a light/fan switch there and I was not going to rewire stuff to put it there.   In comes one of those books I bought for redoing my kitchen (off AbeBooks.com - cheap!).    I saw a sideboard they had taken and lifted the top shelves onto turned legs and put it in a corner.   Why hadn't I thought of that before????   Just take the top off - duh.   Now I could put this where I wanted and hey, use it while waiting for my cabinets, and get it out of the spare bedroom!

I digress....but you get the idea.   Back to the Chalk Paint.....

I wasn't going to tackle this piece right off with no experience with the paint or techniques.   I'm an analyst by trade and I overthink freaking everything!    That can quickly turn into stress.  So the sample kit fit the bill.  Little teeny cans of 3 colors (I picked and that was another thing that I struggle with - too many choices), clear wax, fabulous instructions, a brush, stir sticks, etc.   Perfecto!   I continued to see the amazing stuff the people on the FB groups created.  Wowsa!   I also found there is a whole line of rub on transfers people use on their refurbished furniture these days.   So I ordered a couple of those too.   My flowers arrived last week.

In addition to the hutch I also have a set of my maternal Grandmother's silver that my Mom gave me.   It was the "good silver" (those of you in my age range understand that).   If I remember the receipt I found, gotten back in 1928.   It sat in the silver chest in the bottom drawer of that very hutch until a few years ago when I was like - USE IT!   It is silly to have that stuff hidden in a drawer where I cannot enjoy it.   Out it came and in with my other sets of stainless flatware.   With the remodel of the kitchen I am pairing things  down substantially - the flatware was one of them, knowing I wasn't going to have a ton of space for it.   I decided the "good silver" would stay and the rest got donated.    As I was messing with the hutch's new location I thought - why no use the silverware chest to store it - on the "new sideboard"? 

Here is the original chest:

You can tell it is a bit battered (as is the top of the hutch).   A perfect SMALL piece to try this chalk paint!  I had ordered 3 colors - Old White (a white staple color is always good as it can be used to lighten anything), Emile (a really pretty lavender) and Amsterdam Green (a forest green).   Oh what to do - oh just freaking start!    This was almost but not quite as stressful as my first go with the epoxy last week.   Quit thinking it over and go.  I did!  I lightly sanded it and wiped it down to remove some of the years of grime.   It does have a crack in the bottom (living in dry climates does that) but you cannot see it so no biggy.   Off I went.

First a layer of the Emile (lavender) even though it is hard to tell in my great garage lighting.   The videos and Annie Sloan herself basically says "slap it on" and so I did.  Man that stuff is thick and dries REALLY fast!

Like my fancy brush dryer?   Within less than 1/2 hour it was dry, ready for the second coat.  I thought about a second coat of the Emile but also knew I wanted to try distressing this piece thru the white.   So I thinned out the white a bit and slapped that on a bit more carefully.   Lesson 1 - shouldn't have thinned the white as I got some bleed through.   Lesson 2 - work with it or if you hate it, sand  it all down and start over!  Sorry didn't do a pic before I started sanding through.   I sanded and sanded and sanded.  Wasn't quite prepared for that and was really concerned that I seemed to not be seeing any of the lovely lavender color.   Because I needed to do more light sanding now around the deep distressing.

I spend a good amount of time with 2 different grits of sandpaper working to get what I wanted to see.  Now I can check that technique off the list.  Not sure I'd want to do a large piece that way unless I was seriously in a mellow, take my time kind of mood.  We shall see.    Sanding done it  was in the house to decide on what transfers to do on it.   I loved doing rub ons when I was young so this was a hint back to that childhood memory!   Again though, TOO MANY CHOICES.   The two sets I ordered were totally different, one very bright and one pastel.  Pastel it was and also because the flowers were a bit smaller.  I put on the first two then really couldn't decide if I wanted more or to keep it simple.  A quick post to my very craft FB friends and lots of suggestions later I decided to add a FEW more and balance it out with the butterfly on the top.  The voting was for a bee but the bee wasn't a cool nice yellow bee but rather a brown kinda dorky looking one so went with butterfly instead.   Then I took my sand paper and distressed them just a tad.   You can also see I ran them over the front and side edge a bit as well, I think that look is so cool and wanted to try it.    Was able to get the first coat of wax on without messing up any of  the transfers and the second will go on 24 hours later.   Since it will be used every day may even do a third we shall see.   Below is the final product.

All in all I'm super pleased and have yet one maybe two more smaller (but bigger than this) pieces I want to tackle before the big hutch.   Besides I really don't want to decide on colors for that till my cabinets and counters are in if possible....but at the slow rate that seems to be happening I may just go for it.   Meanwhile I was thinking (surprise surprise) about the top of the hutch.  I really don't want it on the wall above the bottom as it is in kind of a weird  spot and really breaks up the flow of the open-ness I'll have now in the kitchen.   Today I kinda paused and think I "may" try it in  the space above the stove (where the painting is right now).   No final on that till cabinets are in and I can test my theory though.   Guess I'll get the paint for the nightstand instead - looks like a trip to Bozeman to the stockist there might be in my future.....we'll see.  I may just order from The Purple Painted Lady!

 

 

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/first-chalk-paint-project Sat, 04 Jul 2020 15:57:06 GMT
Where Did Time Go? https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/where-did-time-go So hard to believe it is July 1 already and the year is 1/2 gone.   I'm just now able to pretty reliably put 2020 in the date fields.    Summer solstice came and went and honestly if not for a friend posting on FB I would have missed that too.   We've definitely had some summer weather although it has rained constantly for the past 4 days which is unusual.   We'll take the moisture but I think when the sun comes out the end of the week my long weekend will be MOWING cuz that grass is growing fast.

Speaking of growing fast thought I'd catch you all up on the baby hawks.   We still have 3 which I think is pretty remarkable for those parents.   Rarely do we see all 3 because of the position of the nest but I did my best.   So these first shots were of fuzzy babies back on June 9.   There is a parent off to the left in some of these.

The last photo above is to give you an idea just how far away this nest is.   This was at 400mm (my wildlife lens) and with the camera crop ends up at 600.   Because of how height the tree is, if you go down my drive and shoot up, you really can get close but not see them as well.  So from the house it is.

Now these were from July 1 (yup the sun peeked out just a bit that morning).   The second shot is your "Where's Waldo" shot - there are all 3 babies in it if you can find them.

Crazy how quickly they fledged.   I haven't seen them forced to take off yet but they sure appear to have all their flight feather so probably really soon.  

Meanwhile last weekend's kitchen remodel project was a test run of the epoxy sample kits I got (that is my plan for the counters).   I wanted to see which blue I liked best and get a feel for the product.   I have since decided on which blue (the lighter one) and the technique I like so ordered one more sample kit to do a final board for practice.  I have about 20 feet of counter to do (3 pieces) and I don't want to mess it up!   I also found that my sensitive respiratory system definitely requires I wear a mask when doing this - even with the garage door open.   Has taken me 3 days to get my airways feeling better.   Duly noted!

Mind you I tried to do a "veining" on the dark blue one as well but really didn't like it.   There is also a mist on top of White Diamonds to give it a little more sparkle (done on both).   The technique was to mix in white and make that feathery/cloudy effect and that is what I'm going with in the light blue (hoping I can recreate that)!  Still waiting on the arrival of my base cabinets so for now we are still on pause BUT my leveling system for them has arrived.   We shall see how that all goes.  LOL

The epoxy was scary but really fun.  I definitely will be enlisting some help when I do the big ones just to make sure I have someone that can mix while I pour the first part since  you do have limited working time.   I also will better prep the garage by making a tent situation so dust and crap doesn't fall in them while they set up (I did get some in the light blue and can see those streaks).   May not eliminate it all but less is good.

That's pretty much all I got for July Day 1!   

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/7/where-did-time-go Wed, 01 Jul 2020 17:44:32 GMT
Pandemic Project PAUSE https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/pandemic-project-pause My remodel is going pretty smoothly but now is to the point that really I need to wait for my cabinets to arrive to do anything more.   Besides that the universe very clearly last week told me I need to slow down and just pause - apparent by things like a fall while weed whacking, getting bitten by Iago (it was my fault for not paying attention) and treating myself to an Italian soda that when stirred exploded all over me and the inside of my car and THEN to add insult to injury the 1/2 that was left when I got out of the car the lid popped off and it entirely spilled out on the ground.   Okay - message received.

We had predictions the end of last week (June 26) that we were to get a serious bout of rain storms starting Saturday afternoon.  I really REALLY wanted to go for a drive in the mountains - somewhere, anywhere - so decided to do a short trip closer to town so if it did start pouring rain in the afternoon (we couldn't leave till 11 because of other commitments) we'd be closer to home.  I say "we" as my ever intrepid friend Robin decided to join me and the dogs and spend a girls overnight so we could do a crafty thing on Sunday (you'll read about that next time).

I found a back road that I didn't remember ever being on and we headed out.  Needless to say after looking in my old gazateer I HAD been on it but have no recollection - so it's been a while!   With friend, cameras and dogs loaded up with a picnic lunch off we went.    

Two of them just really HAVE to have the window down so they can see out.   (Sterling and Oliver ride like normal people - haha, but they are in there too).

It was a lot prettier up there than I thought but admit, there were roads on the map that really didn't show up off the road (mind you a magnifying glass to see all the off shoots is kind of required) but who cares, I knew if we stayed the course we'd come out SOMEwhere and if not - we always keep an eye on the road situation and the ability to turn around (which now requires more road than with the small truck) and go back the way we came.  We came across a lovely little wide spot in the road and a small creek with a small cascade so we stopped for a potty break and to let dogs explore. Yes I know Epic is out of focus but forgive my photos - it has been WAY too long since I've been out with the camera!

We also did pretty good hitting the timing of wildflowers which you will also see.

Epic had a grand time playing in the water (of course) and Josie got her feet wet (she idolizes Epic and really wants to be a poodle).   So got a couple fab shots of the intense poodle boy!   Yeah I need to get back into practice with my depth of field.   Geez it has been too long!

We puttered along down the road and dropped out at Corbin.   A teeny little lovely town (I'd retire there) with probably oh 20 houses.   Most of it's traffic (and I bet many of the residents) these days is back and forth to the Montana Tunnels mine that is back there (my understanding is they are pulling out gold from that location).   Here is some history about it (from https://montanahistoriclandscape.com/tag/corbin-montana/ ):

Another good example of the early railroad development is at Corbin, where a major ore concentrator operated by the Helena Mining and Reduction Company was located in the 1880s.  The concentrator handled 125 tons of ore every day. The concentrator is long gone but the foundations, while crumbling steadily, remain to convey its size and location.  The tall steel train trestle overlooks the town, a powerful reminder of the connection between the rails and mines. It is part of the historic Montana Central line, first built as a wood trestle in 1888 and then replaced with the steel structure found today in 1902.

Apparently the Alta Mine was the largest most productive back in the day and the ore was silver.

The train trestle is insane!    I found these facts about it (it is of course now abandoned but still stunning) and I hoped to find the height but didn't.  

Abandoned Deck plate girder trestle over Corbin Road/Trestle Lane on Great Northern Railway
Built 1902
Total length: 700.0 ft.


All that steel and they even built a curve in it.  It was super cool driving under it and really seeing the supports. 

We also came across an old homestead (quite a large one) that had THE most fabulous old log barn.  Again, sorry these are kinda dark but it was a gloomy drippy day by that time and I am finding editing these on my laptop is probably not ideal as if you move the monitor up or down it changes the lightness of what I'm seeing - time to maybe get a real monitor for it!

As we left Corbin we had the option to pop back to Jefferson City and head home or turn right and see what was down the way.  We of course, went right and towards Wickes.   So here is some more history from https://www.werewoofs.com/ghost-towns/wickes-montana/

In 1864, an unknown prospector identified the first mine which was called the Gregory at Wickes. It is believed the mines here are among the oldest within Montana and in 1867 Montana saw the birth of its second silver smelter, whose location was where the Gregory had been located previously.

The Alta was the other mine that was discovered here in 1869 that became one of the richest silver mines within Montana. A group of capitalists from New York led by William W. Wickes acquired the Alta in 1876. Later on, the same year, this cartel put together the Montana Company and platted Wickes in 1876 or 1877.

Though the camp of Wickes was already booming by mid-1880, it remained somewhat quiet but there were several establishments that had been put up including a stone structure erected by Vawter & Wickes and a public library was also in place. The Alta Mine grew to become the most profitable and by 1889, it was the largest producer within the Wickes-Corbin Mining district.

Alta Mine was the highlight of this town and had a total of 3 tunnels with the deepest being 250 ft (76 m). Finally, the mill owned by the Alta Company was burnt down by fire in 1882 and the company sold out after the incidence to Sam Hauser, who was one of the company’s stockholders. Afterwards, Hauser was able to offset the debt that the company owed and built the whole of the silver mill.

In addition to this, Mr. Hauser added 6 new charcoal kilns and 2 new concentrators. He was able to do all this through the Helena Mining and Reduction Company (HMRC), which went on to put up a new smelter, the largest in Montana in 1884. The smelter had 3 large masonry smokestacks and as a result of the viability of this project, Mr. Hauser convinced the Northern Pacific Railway to establish a branch line connecting Helena and Wickes.

...

This mining district kept going strong until 1889 after which the smelter was dismantled and moved to East Helena by the HMRC and shipping of the ore to East Helena or Butte for processing, began.

After this, the Alta Mine continued operating for a period of 7 years and thereafter closed down. The year that followed the Northern Pacific Railway stopped operating the line to Wickes, which was almost destroyed completely in 1901 and 1902 by fires. The Boston and Alta Mining Company later acquired holdings in the district from HMRC and later the same passed through the hands of several other owners thereafter.

Interesting huh?  Well it gets better.  Right along the road is a superbly preserved beehive charcoal kiln.   What is that you ask, well these were used to burn pine trees to create the coal used in the smelters and such for the mines.   A burn could last up to 10 days and create over 1500 bushel of charcoal.   When they were built of course there was almost always a cluster of them, but only some have survived.   Of course the shape (and see the little air/draft holes) and the materials used is what makes them heat up appropriately.   It just amazes me the brick (or stone) work needed to make that domed shape.  You today can find some pottery artists that use beehive kilns (or that shape) to fire their wares.  These however were purely industrial!

 Yes that is a little bit of snow still hanging on up in the mountains.

We got to the junction at Wickes shortly thereafter and couldn't decide where to go.  We headed down what ended up as kind of a single track behind some people on their SUVs (the back country was crawling with them).   Then to our surprise we found this open flat spot and a bunch of the SUVs parked there.  I was like - oh look a spot where people camp (or party or whatever).   Nope.   Then as I drove by I saw this tunnel entrance. 

Here is a video of guys taking their SUVs through it (apparently that is a "thing") - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71kFiM3kbFA

 

Now for a boatload of history about it:

Here's some great info from our friends at The Heritage Center in Boulder:

THE AMAZING AMAZON RAILROAD TUNNEL
(Also called the Wickes or the Boulder Tunnel)

In 1887 the Montana Central Railway let the contract from Helena to Butte; which included building a big tunnel through the mountain from Wickes to Boulder. Crews worked from both ends. The north end was called Portal and the south end Amazon.
While being built the train ran over the “Skyline” tracks of the Northern Pacific.
The tunnel was started May 1887 and completed October 1888.
September 11, 1888 there was a dynamite explosion where 60 men were working and 10 were killed and 5 seriously injured (read all about this in “Montana Central Railway” by Jan and Bill Taylor page 109).
Great wooden doors were placed at each end and were kept closed in winter to keep snow drifts out and the warm air in. These doors had to be opened, first at the end the train was coming from, then the tunnel was walked through and the second doors opened. After the train had passed through the doors needed to be closed.
Trains started running immediately while rock and shoring continued inside.
At the time it was built it was the longest railroad tunnel in Montana at 6145 feet. Later the Kalispell Tunnel was built which was 6 miles long.
The first train through the tunnel was October 24, 1888. Boulder hosted a barbecue.
Great Falls Tribune dated October 27, 1888 excerpts from article follow: “The Wickes tunnel was formally opened on Wednesday. Many prominent citizens from Helena, Boulder and Butte passed through the tunnel in a train of six coaches. William Bird was the conductor. On arriving at the east approach of the tunnel, a photograph was taken of the train… The train entered the tunnel at 1:10 and arrived at the other end at 1:28, consequently taking 18 minutes to pass through. Upon arrival at the west end the whistles of engines were blown for five minutes…..This shortens the trip by nineteen miles. Incandescent lights are placed 200 feet apart through the tunnel. It cost $1,500,000.00 to build. They intend to line the tunnel with stone and brick, which, when completed, will necessitate an additional outlay of $250,000.”
Due to the tunnel caving in 1891 it was decided to re-line it. They began lining it on Jan 6, 1892 and completed it in August 1893.
As locomotives got larger it created problems in the tunnel because hot stack gasses eroded the 1893 brick arches so they removed the brick ceiling and replaced it with a new material, “Concrete.” Between 100 to 150 men were employed to do this. They started in October 1901 and ended in the spring of 1902. They only lined 2500 feet of it and the rest was granite with granite blocks installed in the roof and inside both portals. At that time the floor was lowered 18 inches which made it 21 feet high and 15 feet wide.
A Nov. 7, 1901 article in the Jefferson County Sentinel Newspaper reported that” it was necessary to erect boarding and lodging houses and a plant for the manufacture of the concrete, and generation of electricity for lighting up the tunnel. There would need to be some business house and residences. The railway built a nice depot, and stationed E. O. Foster as agent. There are about thirteen buildings at present composing this lively little town.”
J. Otis Watson was the manager of the Amazon Mercantile company, which carried a full line of men’s furnishing goods and notions and did a thriving business as did the company store and the boarding house.
V. E. WIlham, ex-county assessor, was the deputy sheriff of Amazon, but there was very little trouble from the unruly element.
An article in the newspaper states that a new school was built in 1910 and our records show that this school ran at least until 1935.
There are no known pictures of this little town and there is nothing remaining of it.
Speed for passenger trains through the tunnel was 20 mph (took 4 min.). Freight trains went 12mph (7min.)
Water pours from the tunnel year round because part of the tunnel was cut through glacial debris.
There are some emergency bays built into the tunnel for a person to get into and be safe, if a train came along.
The last train ran through the tunnel on January 9, 1972.
The Montana Central Railway became the Great Northern Railroad in 1906.

Information is taken from numerous copyrighted materials for which we give credit: Boulder Newspapers (including The Boulder Monitor), The Montana Central Railway by Bill and Jan Taylor, The Great Northern/Montana Central Railway by Fr. Dale Peterka, and Boulder: Its Friends and Neighbors by Olive Hagadone.
Researched, compiled and written by Ellen Rae Thiel – The Heritage Center, PO Box 51, 210 N. Main, Boulder, MT 59632
The Heritage Center is a non-profit organization preserving local and family history. It is located at 210 N. Main St. Po Box 51, Boulder, MT 59632. Telephone 406-422-9879. They are open 7 days a week from 11am to 3pm. You can also visit their Facebook page: The Heritage Center.

Too cool right!   As we heard from the SUV people (they need a cooler label) that the road got pretty narrow farther on, we went back to the junction.  Do we go back to Corbin or try the other road?   Well there were Forest Service signs saying there was a 5 mile trip (remember you aren't driving fast here) to the Occidental Plateau and/or Wood Chute Creek Road (that's the way we went).   We were getting hungry and after passing the back of the Montana Tunnels mine was a big open valley that we kinda thought would be a good lunch stop - except we kept going (not far).   You can see the tailings piles in this photo.

I just loved how you can see the jagged tops of these mountains (because back at some point it burned).   We found a little protected gully that had a place to pull off, let the dogs out and photograph wildflowers (while dogs ate cow poop and stuck their noses in marmot and gopher holes).

This is the ONLY way to "tailgate".

No Josie isn't lost but she is wandering around exploring (which required I put on her harness with the bell to keep track of her).   

After a nice break we drove a bit farther up the road, came across a lovely creek with more wildflowers and then turned around when we saw a parked truck with a bunch of doors and windows open and my gut just said there might be up to no good (and there was a weirdly large amount of odd SUV traffic driving by us at lunchtime - they went up, then went back).   I'm all for trust your gut and I didn't want to get up there and not be able to get around them OR find them doing something they shouldn't.
 

This last photo above is of wild pink pussytoes (see why it is called that?).  One of my favorites and you don't see them often.   I have as always discovered that taking photos of fields of wildflowers is very difficult.  You just cannot see with the camera the dimension and color you see in person but I did my best.

We headed home and literally got home 30 minutes before it started DUMPING rain!   These guys and us humans had a MARVELOUS time and some more areas we'll probably explore in the future!  I think we hit a lot of SUV traffic honestly because it was mid afternoon.  I'm a fan of leaving early to explore like this so we are kind of headed OUT before most of the SUV-people are up and moving.   There were some pleasant surprises and it is always fun to explore with friends and dogs!

Josie LOVED riding like this!

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/pandemic-project-pause Mon, 29 Jun 2020 16:20:37 GMT
Pandemic Project Progress https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/pandemic-project-progress You cannot tell from the  photo below but this is how you storyboard.   Oh and 2 of the paints were picked (one was adjusted a bit) and neither of the wallpapers is going up at this point.   I will say, I got both my paint colors in the pearl finish from Benjamin  Moore and the coverage was FABULOUS!    I'm known for cheaping out on paint from the big box stores and have never gotten great results (worst ones were outdoors).   I got Lemonade (toned down 25% with white) for the laundry room and bought 2 gallons figuring I'd need em.  Nope - didn't even use up one gallon.   Guess something else will be painted yellow!   The kitchen ended up as Ice Mist and took about 1/2 gallon for 2 coats.   Realize I didn't paint all the way to the floor where the cabinets are going in.

Oh then there is my floor.   Not sure if I mentioned that I got a great deal on some Florbo Click & Loc.   I've done a TON (as in literally the rest of the house sans one room) of click together floor and this did not disappoint.   It went down really easily and really well.   Thanks to Robin  who came over to help one Sunday it was all knocked out in < 8 hours.   Much to be said for the word "finesse" though as this isn't stuff you can play "whack a mole" with and force together.     

While I had Robin here I also got one set of shelves back in the laundry room which meant  at least SOME of my clutter around the house was reduced!   Sadly my very very OLD hammer couldn't take it anymore (had issues getting the cheap China-made shelves apart to adjust them) and it was lost.

Here is a photo of the not trimmed out yet laundry room.   I had those hooks for over a year, found them at Lowes in a bin one day I was there and picked them up - without any plan for them.   Now they have a home.   The shelf was my answer to wanting a place to hang up (not on my clothesline you see in the upper left corner) the dog towel and pee pads when they aren't used.   I had the brackets from a failed project in the trailer so a little spray paint and a dowel I had laying in the garage and got my wish.  The rug runner fits pretty nicely there as well, which helps with the tracking in and out of the dogs and human.   It isn't the final version but the one I had on hand.   Ruggables to the rescues again!   I love those things!

The laundry now has its additional shelves, some pretty stuff to add some zing and the trim and baseboard is all up as of this weekend.  Not sure  yet if I'll paint the corner trims but I do have that option.   I'm also THRILLED to have my clothesline  back up!   It rained almost all last week and even though my washer was hooked back up I couldn't hang out my laundry!   Some new bins will be here this week for dog and bird food  and  there is still some other clutter to sort out but honestly this was a big step!

Below is the current state of the kitchen.   Just because the cabinets aren't in doesn't mean I couldn't do some "decorating".   Got the window trimmed out as well as the door and baseboards as much as  I can do till  cabinets  are installed anyway.   Put one of my other rugs on the floor as it is new, slick and I was sure a dog was going to get hurt (since they run through there like utter idiots)!

I cannot tell you how happy I am to be done painting!   Everything now is done to the point that I have to wait for the cabinets to arrive (hopefully in the next few weeks).   Still deciding on switch plates and considering possibly changing out the light switches as they are old, yellow and grungy.

Meanwhile the dogs and I had a little down time out front - resting my foot which I sprained while weed whacking (yup the weeds and lawn wait for no remodel).    They are really sick and tired of this whole business honestly so I am going to do my BEST to spend some actual fun time with them will the final phases get rolling.

I have done NO gardening this summer but honestly, sitting out on the patio having coffee, this corner was bugging me - it was messy, needed some more mulch and I just wanted to get my hands a LITTLE dirty.   So I got 4 plants along with mulch and my trim boards at Home Depot and got to actually FINISH  a project!   

I also got my chalk paint books in the mail I picked up!  Thanks to Abebooks.com (my favorite used book store) I have numerous Annie Sloan books to help spark my imagination.    I have plans for a final piece of my remodel and it involves some refinishing of an antique piece I already have.   I had her kitchen book and in there saw the fix to a problem I have had forever for that piece.   I will however be starting that adventure after everything ELSE is done and will try it out on a smaller nightstand  first.

That is life in the fast (or slow) lane right now.   I'm sad to say that each time I go to town, I see less and less people in the stores wearing face masks or following the 6' rule (so magically this virus apparently has disappeared).   I continue to wear mine (with the cute poodles) and honestly, have no desire to be around many people usually anyway.   While I miss the dog shows I was  to attend, I just literally decided that this year I wouldn't do any and will see where things stand next year.   That said, I give kudos to Hobby Lobby - probably the only place in town where ALL their staff are wearing masks (them and some of the small businesses).   Low and behold, one of the counties in eastern MT went to Phase 2 with everyone else and a bunch of idiots just threw caution to the wind - 25 cases in 3 days.   Sigh.   So here's hoping you all are staying safe, especially if you have contact with high risk "others" or are high risk yourself.   Nuff said!   Bak to my hermit life.

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/pandemic-project-progress Mon, 22 Jun 2020 03:57:23 GMT
Pandemic Project Part 1 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/pandemic-projects As is the case for many of you, my vacation plans basically got trashed because of the current virus situation.  I will not lie, I was so very disappointed since I haven't had a vacation since May 2019.   Montanans that don't "go south" for the winter tend to spend their winter-time snowed in dreaming and planning fair weather travel.  My beach vacation - toast, my RV get together to learn new stuff - toast, my dog shows - all toast.  

Now I'm not one to sit on my whiny laurels and upon discovering that I had a suspicious soft spot in my floor in front of my kitchen sink, my vacation refunds was destined for a home project.  

A little background.....I have been thinking about redoing my kitchen for probably 10 years but other priorities (as all homes can throw at you) kept that from happening.   A soft spot in the floor yelled at me "LEAK"!    As I dug deeper I discovered the leak was BEFORE the shut offs for the sink.   Dang.   In my house all the plumbing is run under the house and up through the floor so I knew it was not good and I also knew that meant ripping up floor which meant removing cabinets (mine were really not REAL cabinets so the whole wall of them had to come out).  So just as well push up the plans for the remodel.   Fair enough - my house is 26 years old and since it is a manufactured home, not the highest quality materials in certain areas (cabinets for example).   These are the general "before" pictures.    The trick is that I have a very limited budget (read what can I put on the credit card) so research research research and lots of pricing things out.

Planning was started and I knew this entire project would be DIY.  Yup I am learning a lot!   I initially figured I'd be ordering cabinets online, unfinished and have to paint them on my own.  I just figured that would be the cheapest way to go.    I knew I wanted maple and white.  Easy.   What the online place I landed in did provide me was some ideas on what I could get for sizes and options.   Okay honestly, I wasn't planning anything fancy anyway.  What I did know, I wasn't replacing the upper cabinets and all the base cabinets would be drawers.  I am old and tired of crawling into cabinets to try to find the stuff that gets shoved in the back.    My advice - spend the time tweeking and talking and thinking about plans, draw them out and tweek some more.  I had thought I'd have a cabinet for my trash can slider....didn't till right before ordering remember that the cabinet size - while that would fit it -- with the door face frame the slider wouldn't fit.   Little stuff that will trip you up.   Ultimately I did decide to go see if anyplace locally could come in under my budget with the items I picked.  They did and I don't have to paint the buggers!  Bonus.   The cost of paint (have you seen THAT lately?) and time, they came in at about the same price and I was able to find a marvelous gal that helped me with the planning and who computerized my design for me.  BONUS!

As of this blog MUCH progress has been made and I'm pretty proud of that.  I have a few very lovely friends that have helped with some items I just couldn't (or wouldn't) tackle on my own.   But give a girl some tools and see what happens.  This reciprocating saw has been a life saver!   I've pretty much used every power tool in my garage including some I've never used yet.

Demolition is done, the leak has been fixed, all sticky tile and linoleum is removed, the subfloor replaced, cabinets gone, a closet and cabinets that were in the laundry room are gone and the walls are primed.   While that doesn't sound like much - the place is GUTTED!   Both the kitchen and the utility room.   Demo filled a 12 yard rolloff trash container (which they have now picked up) and only two tools (and no dogs thank goodness) were lost down the hole in the floor.    The broken dishwasher is gone as well.   5 gallon buckets are also a girls best friend in demo as is the shop vac!

My cabinets are ordered and should be here in July and my new floor (which I'll install) arrived.   I still am working on picking countertops and paint colors for the walls.   The current washer, fridge and stove luckily are staying!
 

I've learned a TON about my home doing the demo on my own.  I continue to learn a ton about tools, options and how-tos as I go along.   Does it suck having to do dishes in the bathtub and having all my kitchen/laundry contents in 5 rooms in my house?  Oh yeah but it isn't THAT horrible.  It is just me and the dogs, I don't  have a family to cook for so there is minimal cooking (paper plates, lots of pasta, microwave popcorn and cheese and crackers) and therefore minimal dish washing.

As of this writing we are about at this state (one coat of primer in this pic) and honestly I'm just enjoying a few days this week of pause to let my sore body heal and rest, see my chiropractor and have some quiet from all the fans, vacs and crazy.   A friend and I spent much time working on the walls after I spent a week of evenings carefully removing wallpaper, paint, and more wallpaper borders.   BAD ON ME.  Not to self, don't be lazy and paint over and wall paper over wall paper you already have up.  As my Mom would say "Take the time and do it right".  So that's what I'm doing this round.   Isn't that new floor and plumbing BEAUTIFUL (thanks Dennis and Terri).

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/pandemic-projects Mon, 15 Jun 2020 20:23:32 GMT
Botanicals https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/botanicals

My purple iris were first to bloom this year (and most years) but they took a beating from the hail storm that came through after they got started.   

To be fair and show you the good and bad, this didn't  turn out nearly as cool as I envisioned it!

I thought the rhubarb leaf below looked kind of like a topo map, rivers and mountains!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/botanicals Fri, 12 Jun 2020 17:57:02 GMT
Cool Clouds and my Neighbors https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/cool-clouds-and-my-neighbors We have had some really cool cloud formations come across the valley and you know what a weather watcher I am.  I cannot help it living where I do.  Yes these were taken late Spring when we had a dusting of snow.    I also wanted to post an update on the hawk neighbors.  I knew they were on eggs by the activity and figured oh about Mother's Day we should have chicks.  Remember though the nest is so high up the tree that it is hard to get good photos....well, the first week in June I confirmed 3 little white fuzzy heads up there and boy those parents are BUSY keeping them fed.   Both are hunting so I think chicks are probably about 3+ weeks old.   I can stand by the house and watch with the binoculars but if I move out into the open in the front yard (all of 10 feet) parents start screaming at me.   So photos are as close as I can get with my long lens (so not terribly clear) but the binoculars are much more clear which is fun.    I dare any of the gophers "thinking" they might move back across my driveway to poke their ruddy heads out of THOSE holes!

You should be able to see all 3 heads in the photo below.

Proof that mama was NOT happy with me pointing "stuff" at HER tree!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/cool-clouds-and-my-neighbors Wed, 10 Jun 2020 16:12:00 GMT
Bitterroot Camping Part 2 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/bitterroot-camping-part-2 Finally I got the rest of my photos off the cameras.  My quail were not very cooperative and I was trying not to scare them.   I took the time to just wander about and do some macro shots as well.  Some you  will see here some you'll see in the botanical post I'm doing for later.  Enjoy!

Some different takes on some very cool metal I found.   I love the textures and the colors.

This reminded me of patchwork quilting - in metal!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/bitterroot-camping-part-2 Tue, 09 Jun 2020 16:35:44 GMT
Bitterrot Camping Part 1 https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/bitterrot-camping After being stuck at home all Winter and then all Spring and having all of my vacation plans smashed by a virus  I took the chance to get away over Memorial weekend for a few days of camping - me and the dogs.   

There was lots of sitting outside enjoying the sun (we lucked out it only really was wet one day of our 4).  Some walks around, watched wildlife (deer, quail, harriers, heron and many birds plus some marmots).

All these  photos are from the phone and sorry about the quality, my phone flipped to HDR at some point and those never load off the phone correctly.   Our one day that we walked down to the river (I should have done more) I only took the phone.

There was macro and close up practice (didn't take the big long lens and of course I should have).   The wildflowers were going good!

Epic cannot help himself, the MINUTE he saw water he had his feet in all of it....till we got to the river and I hooked him up because it was in flood and running super fast.

Wild turkey feathers.

Josie never did get through the fence, but not for lack of trying!

There was even some stovetop baking (first attempt) in my new Omni.   Rhubarb crisp turned out AWESOME!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/6/bitterrot-camping Fri, 05 Jun 2020 15:41:18 GMT
Like the World Crazy isn't Enough https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/like-the-world-crazy-isnt-enough These two idiots are taking up residence in front of my house!   While love the pictures I now have to figure out how to get supplies to put a lid over my entire back yard so the dogs can go out and potty on their own (right now I have to keep them in and only let them go pee when I can go with them).   This is truly how my life rolls!   Booooooo....

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/like-the-world-crazy-isnt-enough Fri, 27 Mar 2020 02:07:36 GMT
Macro Crocus https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/macro-crocus

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/macro-crocus Mon, 23 Mar 2020 17:00:42 GMT
Morning Chirps https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/morning-chirps

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/morning-chirps Sat, 21 Mar 2020 17:33:38 GMT
Icicles https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/icicles When it is zero degrees out and you just need to get outside for a moment.....weird I know but hey at least the camera was out being used!   Better I have some cool ideas for flower raindrop photos this  spring!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/icicles Thu, 19 Mar 2020 23:00:00 GMT
And Then It Was Winter! https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/and-then-it-was-winter No I still haven't used the shovel though, but let's back up a tad since I'm a couple weeks behind.

The first week of March was GLORIOUS weather wise.  We had sunshine and even the days it was only in the 50s we managed some time out on the deck in the afternoon soaking up the rays.   Things were going well with our walks even and the first Friday of the month we broke a record high hitting 70 degrees.   I took that day off and really enjoyed it.

Last weekend also brought this surprise (watch the time lapse it is pretty cool).

Little did they know....

On Monday this week I took the truck in and it received its new truck topper and I am happy to report that, although it was touch and go, it still fits in the garage (with < 1" to spare).   Thanks to my friend Robin for coming to help me eyeball it and get the poodle crates back to their rightful home.  I was glad to get it done with the predictions for the weather later in the week.

Otherwise the week was busy with work and trying to not get all caught up in the media frenzy about viruses  and how we are all going to die!   Seriously, at this point people - use common sense - this is serious but is there REALLY nothing else happening of interest in the world for the past 2 weeks - cuz if there is we sure aren't hearing about it.   Nuff said - stay safe people AND HEALTHY.

I am happy to report that for the first time in a couple years I manged to walk the entire 3 mile loop here on Thursday.  Honestly my back and shoulders have been in such bad shape and frankly the wind has been nasty - so we had a small bit of calm and off I went with Epic and Josie, the day after we had a skiff of snow - which resulted in this--check out the muddy feet.

But she had a blast and what a trooper.  I wasn't sure she'd make it with her short legs for that far but she  did!

Good thing too because Friday temps dropped and the winds HOWLED (like all night it raged with 60mph gusts) and snowed (cannot imagine the drifts they have where it really snowed).  We woke up Saturday to this.

I swept the walk as I wasn't ready to brave the cold wind to go get the shovel out back and I needed to go get more wood for this:

Yup I'd put the cart away thinking we were on the warm side of winter.   Nope!  Single digits Saturday and below zero expected during the night.  Wind chill is well below zero!

So we are hunkered in from the virus but mostly because of the craptastic weather!   I'd much rather remember these days where  the storms sat over in the mountains (as they often do then go  around  us).   These are actually from February.  Yes I should check my big camera cards more often!

The bird feeder is super busy and I did also get out there to give them all seed for this miserable weather.  Friday I actually saw for the first time this year the pygmy nuthatch  pair, our juncos turned up and shockingly the bluebirds (not the mountain ones though) are also on their way through as there were probably 10 trying to hunker in under my deck.  My understanding is the bluebirds eat insects only so they are really going to suffer  during this cold spell.  None the less I took the big camera out and tried to get some shots.   Out of  20 I managed 4 because I am SO out of practice!

Yes baby it is cold and freaking miserable outside so am very glad I have no plans.  Will expect that we won't be doing therapy dog next week either as I'm going to hedge that the assisted care facilities too will be on "lock down".   That's okay we will catch them after the crisis.   

I do hope you all are well and to Lori who asked about the microgreens - they did FABULOUS and so easy and fast.  Within a week I had greens for sandwiches and whatever.   I need to get another batch going - probably a good thing to do since we are hole up.   My knitting is also plodding along.  I really want to be done  by May and I'm now working on stripe number 6 of 8 so am hopeful.  Will hope  to do more than my 2 rows a day this weekend.   Time to go feed the fire!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/and-then-it-was-winter Sat, 14 Mar 2020 18:58:55 GMT
Been a Bit https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/been-a-bit All phone fotos again for you - we've been a little busy the past 2 weeks to say the least.    I am happy to report I still am at my record low level for using the snow shovel - although it did snow (and thunder and lightening) sideways one night leading to the most interesting snow on the fence posts - all one sided - right  before it melted.

There's been a lot of THIS while we had the short cold spell.  Where's Oliver?  and Teddy?

Then it turned really nice outside!   So we did a lot of this after work hours.   I'm even tempting fate and sort of uncovering the porch swing, although it doesn't quite yet get enough sun so sitting in my little beach chair happened way more.   The dogs LOVED it.  I was even able to let them out before I got off work so they got "extras"!  LOL

Teddy will be 15 next Tuesday and is really doing pretty well.  Of course I knock on wood when saying that.   I'm sure those old creaky bones really love the vitamin D!    

Apparently when I went to town on Saturday without any dogs (doesn't happen often) the "good poodle" had to fend off robbers with knives!   (don't judge the floor)   He led me to believe they wanted the all of our riches and he couldn't let that happen!

Now take a look at this sunset.  On my way home from town one evening.  This is from the parking lot where the poodles and I walk a lot.   I have NEVER before noticed the skull (gotta pay more attention).

Taco Tuesday was a calling though this week after the chiropractor!    YUMMMO!    And yes, I tortured my Mom and brother by sending them a text with it!   They don't have Taco Johns and both love it.    Yeah, I'm evil.

 

This week has been full on hurricane winds - for THREE DAYS!    I was just getting in the habit of walking at lunch every day but I'm not fighting THAT!   Today, Thursday they finally let up...some.   So I decided to give Oliver a go in his new harness AND hook him to Josie.   Thank God Epic can walk off leash because walking these two was worse than herding cats!    I have discovered though that truly, Oliver isn't that interested in "walkies" - he loves playing agility and in a controlled area but he just isn't an explorer.   Josie on the other hand is all about THAT!   So as Teddy was my hiker and boater (jury still out on the latter with Josie) I think Josie will be the one to go with Epic and I.   Sterling of course also isn't into the walkies.   That's fine and good to know.  Since hooking Oliver to Josie didn't improve it, best that he'll just generally stay home.

Wish I had anything exciting to report but honestly I really don't.   We are just rolling along here, looking forward to a long weekend and hoping for nice weather to go for a walk and work in the trailer.  I just about have the curtains back up in there and this afternoon, move out the car and Epic gets a good clipping - he is WAY overdue and then I'll bath him (works better in reverse and I sacrifice the clipper blade because his coat is so dense he doesn't dry).

Cheers!

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/3/been-a-bit Thu, 05 Mar 2020 20:36:31 GMT
Falling Behind Already https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/2/falling-behind-already But to my defense, the weather was so nice last week that I'd rather be outside with the dogs and doing projects than on the computer writing stuff.  Nuff said.   As I mentioned we had some really nice days weather-wise last week (that ended Sunday night) so I got my buns outside as did the dogs.   Some of us managed a number of lunch time walks down the road and back. 

Epic loves the chance to go walk - tail up and he needs the exercise.  What I've found over and over again though is that he does best if he is able to carry something.  Sometimes he finds his OWN something along the route.

Epic had some company a couple days.   Josie is a sniffing nut and honestly it was SO cold (the wind was biting) the day Oliver went that he didn't enjoy it even with his coat on.

You can tell based on the weather you see why the wind was pretty cold!   Still we enjoy the sun when it shines!

I got busy on the weekend while it was sorta warm (50F) to get a few more items ticked off the list with the truck and trailer.  It also meant a chance to load up the truck with all the cardboard and get it to recycle (I think I may order too many things online!).    Once done I was able to sweep and get the Bed Rug put down in the bottom of the back as we wait arrival of my new topper.

I am hoping it will help keep the dog kennels from sliding around - regardless it will be easier on my knees if I have to get in there.  I also got under the trailer and removed the old horrible step and installed new ones.   Of course the instructions were that it should take like 10 minutes - but as all my projects seem to roll - it took 2 hours!   I'm very happy with them and think it will make life easier on my old knees and the old dogs.  Will cover the steps with my trusty yoga mat covers (the dogs slip too easily on the metal) and may have to do a bit behind them so the old dogs that cannot see well dont' fall between the trailer and the first step.  We'll see how that goes.

I also got the wallpapering finished inside and am started on the curtain rod installations I'm doing.   Then it got cold so no more till it warms up.   Still a lot of projects to do before camping season starts!   

Sunday night the wind HOWLED and we had "thunder snow".  It snowed horizontally it was blowing so bad and I was shocked how much thunder and lightening we had!   But Saturday night we had a glorious sunset and I'm going to focus on that not the snow/ice on the ground.

 

 

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/2/falling-behind-already Mon, 24 Feb 2020 17:26:27 GMT
A late Valentine https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/2/a-late-valentine

Hope you all had a great week last week and if you got a long weekend this past, that it was full of fun.  I can't say I did much exciting last week but you know, sometimes that happens.  We had fairly warm weather and some sun which was welcome and I am counting down the days of Winter to be sure.  I'm not sure how but my valley is still without snow cover but literallly all places surrounding us have snow.

Notice that Oliver has his OWN methods for getting warm.   I swear that boy has NO personal space and NO respect  for anyone else's.   He is lucky here that Sterling is as easy going as he  is.  The other dogs don't appreciate his nonsense nearly as much and usually tell him so.

Good news though I am now about 1/2 way done with the baby blanket knitting project.   Am really feeling it in my arms though.   Still I think it will be cute.  While my friend is having some difficulties I'm using this as my positive vibes to the Universe that all will turn out well with her and her baby.

This was an evening shot of "abstract poodles"....

My Valentine's Day was spent with a friend as I took the day off and we went and wandered through the "RV Show" at the fairgrounds.  While it wasn't much and only about 90 minutes to go through most  everything, it was mostly indoors and I just like getting in them  to see what is new.   Got to see a 5th wheel with a front (up top) kitchen and a couple really cute and smart small trailers.   Also got me in the mode to find new steps for mine.  I have some on order and we'll see how they work.   My trailer sits 24" from the ground when level and I have ONE step, it is way too much "rise" so I've got a 2 step replacement coming that actually then has feet that make it solid to the ground.   I also got a chance to get into a couple of cab over campers which was something I was considering for "someday".  Like I said, great for ideas and to see the stupid things RV manufacturers still do - while they have figured out (mostly) not to cut off access to bathrooms when the slides are in - they haven't figured out that it is  equally as important to have access to the bed and kitchen sink and fridge.  The other amazingly dumb thing I saw was floor furnace vents literally in the middle of living areas.   All that does  is make a place for "crap" to fall in them.   I know, I have them in my house and hate them (although mine  at least are by walls).   There's my pet peeves from the RV show - haha.

We then went off to lunch and I ran errands.   Nice to be able to do some things on a weekday - like get the topper for my truck ordered!  Super excited to get that off my list.   Now the caveat - I don't know if I will be able to get the truck in the garage once it is on.   Yeah, I know!   I have options for that and I have to have the topper so I can get the dog kennels back in the back and get it covered.   

Oh and my Valentine to me was found at the grocery store.  Don't laugh, but I saw it at checkout it was like 4 bucks and as much as I do NOT buy chatzkies for my house anymore, it did come home with me.

Saturday brought on  poodle grooming.   Bath, blow and cut for Sterling until I started to feel weird, like flue weird sick to my stomach.  I quit at that point and tried to figure out if it was the flu or something I ate or what.   Lots of things can make me sick to my stomach sometimes.   So I ended up postponing Sterling's therapy visit (don't want to risk  germs).  Luckily I can report - not flu, think it was either hormone induced nonsense OR I pulled out my ribs/back bathing  the poodle and it spazzed out.   Took it easy on Sunday but was able to finish his groom and bath/blow/groom Josie.   The black poodle monster is still outstanding and dog nails all around are in the plans as soon as the dremel charges  up.

Oh and to boost my hopes of Spring....I'm trying a new thing....microgreens (yes to eat).   First batch is sprouted and uncovered and should  be ready for their first haircut by the end of the week.  Second batch was started today.  Kinda looking forward to how it turns out and it IS fun to see green things growing right now.

That's pretty muuch all I got folks.  Sterling is rescheduled for this Sunday TDog visit annd I have a dinner date with a friend this week as well as chiro so things to look forward to.  Meanwhile, I will signoff this for now and try to knit a few more rows.   Look forward to some future updates on my RV Pages as well, once the weather warms up!

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mtwaggin@mt.net (MTWaggin Photos & Blog) https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/2/a-late-valentine Tue, 18 Feb 2020 00:29:01 GMT
February Ramblings https://www.mtwaggin.com/blog/2020/2/february-ramblings I honestly am still processing that it is 2020 much less that we are already in February.   Time is flying by which is always a bit interesting to me as when I'm making plans for things like vacation - they seem so very far off but then BOOM the day has  arrived.   Staying busy definitely helps and since I had no proof last week that progress IS being made on my knitting, here ya go.    I have 5 more color bands to do and at the rate I'm going figure it is going to take another couple months but honestly I'll be happy if it is done before the baby arrives (and at my current pace of a couple rows a day it will).

It actually is kinda fun and the way it is done  you can't really see all my mistakes.  Okay so *I* can but that doesn't count.   I figured out a long time ago that mistakes are part of things being "handmade".  As long as they aren't huge mistakes.  Fake it till you make it?!  LOL

We had some lovely 40s weather this week and actually are seeing sunshine  which thrills the 4 legged ones.

I pulled one of the big dog beds into the office as that is really the only place that gets rays this time of year.   They are as happy to see sunshine as they are for me to light the fire in the wood stove.

Needless to say that didn't last but I digress.   I did get my buns out with 4 of them on Friday during my lunch break and worked on some agility with 2 and some fun games with 2 out front while it was warm.  The good thing is that then in the evening they look like this.

I had to back up on some agility weave training with Epic.  He just isn't reliable in his weave entries (they  have to enter with the first pole on their left always - no matter what direction they are coming from).   Took that opportunity to back up a bit on Oliver's weaves as well and honestly, he caught on faster than Epic did.   Oh well, always work in progress.  I'm still not sure *I* will be able to run agility so we'll just see how it goes in the meantime.    It was lovely to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Saturday morning brought about 1/2" of snow when we got up.  I had grand plans of running errands (needed groceries) so seeing the sunshine first thing, I just paused and decided to wait and see if some of it melted off (since it rained prior there was ice underneath).   That was fine but I got cocky and decided to take the little car to town.  Before I made it to the interstate the road was throwing it around so badly that I detoured, came home and took the truck instead. 

I did so love how quiet it was outside first thing in the morning and really liking the morning light so I did some photos to share with you.

Also dragged out my macro lens for some work.  Honestly I am gonna need to just get back to a happy place with my tripod I think.  I can't seem to get steady enough anymore to get really nice clear shots.  But here were some of them.