If I put a basket on my bike does that make me Miss Gulch?

I have been pimping out my bike, in what I think of as a functional way.   I am sure hard core bicyclists would have fits what I am doing to my bike, but too darn bad.   I am not going to buy a bunch of bikes for every different function I might participate in. I want my one bike to serve all my needs and functions.   I have a mountain hybrid bike that I can use for hard pack trail riding, but also use to ride over to pick up the mail or make egg deliveries to the neighbors on  the gravel roads around here with a little surface riding.      So far it has been working for every where I want to ride.

Using my bike this way I wanted a basket. for things that I find myself toting around.   After months of buying and returning rear bike racks everyone promised would work and did not, I finally found a bike rack that works on my extra small woman’s frame.   It was my first step to getting a bike basket to make it easier to haul jazz around. .   Now I have found a bike basket that I can take off when I don’t want it and put back on when I do need it.   I am happy as a clam.   Just this week I put three dozen eggs in it and hauled it to the neighbors.   I took a four mile trip to go fetch the mail and brought home my large parcel.   Pimped out or not I was loving it.   Then  I come home and my lovely husband tells me I look just like Miss Gulch.   LOL


For those who might wonder I have a petite woman’s frame with disc brakes.   I found the Bontranger back rack small disc to finally fit my bike like rear racks fit the rest of you folks bike.   My basket is a Kettler rear bike basket.

Grown Up Movie Date

Last weekend RangerSir and I went to town and did a movie date.   It is not something we do very often, because we don’t have the same taste in movies, I can not imagine sitting still for two hours, and the thrifty side of me hates the expense.     I was in the mood to splurge and it was my turn to pick.   I choose “The Hundred-Foot Journey.”   I did this for two reasons.   I like Helen Mirren and I like food.   I wasn’t expecting great things, possibly a little more of an art film bent than your standard boy/girl move.  I tend to enjoy art films, even subtitles and my little corner of Montana is definitely short on that.   This had the look of a possibility.

No doubt there is the standard “love story”, but I found so much more to enjoy.

First let me say, the movie had  the usual cliché story of nice looking young fella and gal attraction  who get together, torn apart and together in the end.   I let this all take a back seat to the wonderful acting and interaction of the adults who were in their sixties, Helen Mirren and Om Puri.   It was so great to not see the grown-ups relegated to supporting walk-on roles but in was be part of center stage and the story.   Helen did not disappoint me, and I enjoyed seeing  her work with Om Puri, who was great as well.  I loved glimpses of the beautiful scenery of France, that I am likely to never seen in person.

Though RangerSir and I were chopping away at the monster bag of popcorn in lieu of lunch, we both were wishing that there was any Indian restaurant near by to satisfy our gastronomical senses that had been aroused by the cooking and spices shown on screen.  I think that there is maybe one or two Indian restaurants in the whole state of Montana, so Indian food was only going to happen in my kitchen.   I am now wondering about adding cardamom to some things that are not considered “normal”, as it is one of my favorite spices.  After this movie I am thinking a little adventuresome uses of the collection of spices in my drawer.

My biggest disappointment was the missing subtitles.  I know most American’s hate them and this after all was an American target audience film.   There was lots of French and the native tongue of the Indian family spoken.   All of which I missed because the film maker thought it was alright to sum it up with an occasional English blurb that would give you the  gist of what was spoken.   If you don’t like them, don’t read them, but don’t leave me out by not including subtitles, and giving me a shorthand version of what was said.

When we left both, RangerSir and I, agreed it had been worth the spluge.   We had enjoyed the movie more than we had planned.   It was worthy of our time and glad we had gone. Besides that it was a date and you never get old to date, look at Helen and Om.

Peace in the Village – At Last

Every spring I get new chicks.   In the past nature has always taken her toll, that has ensured that I am not overrun with too many chickens.   This year Mother Nature had the last laugh, because I lost no chicks to infant mortality, nor did they have to go early because they were the wrong sex, nor did a single predator somehow show up to cull my flock.    No this year everyone of the 15 baby chicks I purchased was a hen, who made it to egg laying adulthood.   I suddenly had a flock of 20 chickens.

Twenty chickens is too many for a back yard flock.  I am a recreational chicken wrangler.   I want it to be at least sort of fun.   When you have twenty birds, there is too much poo, too many pounds of chicken chow ate, and just civil unrest even with over 20 acres to wander free range style.   We had reached the point where we were going to have to butcher 15 birds just to bring our flock back to a size where we could enjoy our hens.   Instead we got lucky in that our friends who raise chickens for eggs to supplement their income were in need of pullets. Late summer is really not the time you want to be ordering and starting baby chickens in Montana so getting 26-week old laying hens was perfect to them.   Problem solved for both of us.  They came over with three dog crates and went home with 10 pullets to add to their flock.  Much less stressful for us.

It is amazing what the reduction of our flock to ten has done to our flock.   They are quieter, and no longer play the role of mean girls to some of the flock.    They are much more cohesive group who all wake at the same time, travel in a single bunch and retire to the roost early as a group.   On top of that they food consumption has dropped, they are doing much more free range eating.   Lastly the coop is easier to keep clean.   Before winter sets in we will still need to cull our flock to half size, but with only five yet to go it will be a quick morning event rather than an all day ordeal.

When you only have ten chickens in your flock there can be peace in your valley.

Huckleberry Heaven

One of the highlights of the long trip I took last week is that it put me in in huckleberry heaven, an area of Montana where they are so plentiful if you are willing to get out your checkbook you can buy them.Local folks collect them by the gallons and sell them for crazy folks like me.    I did just that, took out my hard-earned cash, and came home with a gallon of the rare delight, huckleberries  

I had never heard of huckleberries before moving to Montana other than Huckleberry Hound and Huckleberry Finn.   Once here, like all the natives I became enamored with the fruit.     For those of you who have not experienced them here is a little primer. They are sort of like a blueberry, but they have a much more distinct fruity aroma that any blueberry.   They will create stains on any and everything, and huckleberries make the stains from blueberries, beets and black walnut skins look like amateur hour.   If you intend to pick them you need to go in twos one to pick and one to carry the bear spray.    Don’t expect anyone to take you to their spot to pick.  Spots are more sacred than a gold find and are never shared with anyone.   


Having said all that I now have five pints of huckleberry sauce that can be used on everything you can think up.   Last night it was served on ice cream.   For breakfast we had it on french toast.   Tonight we plan to have it on cheese cake.   Tomorrow a little will go on my yogurt with my granola.   There is nothing that isn’t a little better with a little huckleberry sauce.  



Home Again

I just spent the week on the road traveling to the far corners of Montana for work.  We covered about 1800 miles in five days.   We traveled from the mountains to the prairies.   We saw our big cities and some of the remotest areas of Montana, even natives never get to.  I learned how to say the names on the map correctly.

I stopped in Opheim and could see Canada at the far end of Main Street.   I was in Plentywood just miles from the North Dakota border.    I was in Alzeda just miles from South Dakota and Wyoming, and the local bar claims to be conveniently located in the middle of nowhere.  I don’t think that they are stretching it one bit.

Now I am home again in my corner of southwest Montana.   I am thrilled to sit here in my living room ,  a space larger than a pick up cab.   Enjoying the holiday weekend that celebrates the fact I work and my blessings of home.

End of the Line – Land Line That Is

Today I cancelled our land line.  It was a bittersweet end since I can remember the days when a landline was all there was.   It was a sort of security blanket that had become more expensive than it was worth.  As I thought back about  my life long affair with the telephone I thought of all the changes that had occurred in something seemingly so simple as the telephone.   Here are some of the things that I remember

This looks much like the first phone I remember having.

  1. I remember when our phone had a cloth-covered wire cord that was not permanently coiled.  The handset weighted about five pounds.
  2. I remember when the local phone company was the Morrison Telephone Company and you could pay your bill right there at the local office, the only office, in Morrison, Illinois.
  3. I remember when you only had 4 numbers in your phone number.
  4. I remember having a party line.
  5. I remember when Ma Bell bought the Morrison Telephone Company out and they came to our house to replace our heavy clunker phone with the cloth cord with a new shiny black plastic phone with a permanently coiled cord.
  6. I remember when we got a private line.
  7. I remember when you dialed the operator you got someone you knew at the local phone company, and they actually could help you because they knew your family.
  8. I remember phone booths.
  9. I remember three-tiered telephone rates, daytime, evening and nights and weekends.   You called long distance according to the clock to save money.
  10. I remember calling “home” person to person to let my folks know I arrived without paying for a long-distance phone call.
  11. I remember when you phone was hard wired and you could not just unplug it and move it.
  12. I remember when you paid extra for extra extensions.
  13. I remember when you called directory assistance you were re-routed to the town you were calling about, and they could actually help you, because you were talking to someone in that town.
  14. I remember when your exchange (the three numbers between the area code and your phone number) meant something.   Beverly8-1511, meant you lived in the Beverly neighborhood and your first two numbers were found on the numbers were B and E appeared.
  15. I remember when rotary dial was the only option.
  16. I remember when you dialed the operator for an emergency not 911.   The operator knew who was calling and where from, heck she even knew my folks.   No need to tell her why I was calling.
  17. I remember when Ma Bell was broke up

Yep I grew up with the telephone.   I watched the marriage of Ma Bell and every little company she found.   I saw the demise of Ma Bell and all the came with it.   Now I am part of the huge exodus from the phone company.   They are not changing with the times, I wonder what it will look like just 10 years from now.   Will I recognize it or will it be as foreign as the little company that serviced the first phone I remember?

Slaving Over the Stove

We picked up a small bunch of apricots last week at Costco.   They were the last package and they called my name as I love apricot jam.  I love to can and make jams but have no need to make or desire to have a dozen pints of anything.   I have been doing lots of reading about small size jam making and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. I was going to make two or three half pints of sunshine in a jar…apricot jam with a little bit of apricot brandy in it.

I grew up with a mother who canned and have done a fair amount myself over the years, but nothing like I was going to try this time. Part of it plays into the fact my house is at 6,000 feet above sea level and that impacts how long things have to process and the temperatures that it reaches are not the same as the cookbooks state.   I was going to have adjust for where I lived.   The second factor was most of my tools were nothing like what I had used in the past.   No big old white and blue speckled enamel canner and not measuring ingredients in pints, quarts and pounds.   I was going to use my stock pot to do the water bath not the big old kettle.   I bought a nifty little jar holder on Amazon. It was a simple wire rack just like Mom had, no sturdier or fancier.  This one fit in my much smaller stock pot (just under 9 inches across) and could only hold 5 half-pints.   I also used my largest in diameter skillet to cook the apricots, no big heavy old pot.     The theory in all of this is that the larger air surface allowed for “quicker” evaporation i.e. shorter cooking times.   I honestly don’t know if it was true, but I ended up with jam.

Making jam in a very small batch

Making jam in a very small batch

When I was done I had two 8-ounce jars and two 4-ounce jars of jam.  It all set up very nicely, in spite of the fact I could not find my thermometer and had to use the sheet test.  Thank heavens I still had an old Ball canning book from years ago when people tested by look and not temperature on a thermometer.    Some of the jars  did not seal, but I attribute that to the instructions having me pulling the jars and setting them on a towel while I cooked the jam.   In the future I will leave them in the pan of hot water until I fill them like in times past and the old Ball book suggested and I used to do.     So my first small jars of sunshine in a jar  will need to be given and used as gifts immediately instead of saving for the winter, but oh well I had fun and it is pretty yummy.


Bounty for my larder