Friends Who Are Family


I have spent all of my adult life living more than eight hours from where I grew up.   This means that my family has never been able to bop over to chat.    It means I have never made a Sunday family dinner, or the monthly family birthday party. It means that my friends have stepped in when when tradition would say it would be your family.    I have been blessed with friends who are family for me.

As we approach Thanksgiving I want to give thanks to and for my friends.

To my lifetime friend, who no matter how long it is between phone calls, and even longer times between when we get together you are there. It is like we just connected last week, time seems to not matter for us.   You get me.   You make me laugh  when I don’t know I need it. You provide insight about myself sometimes I don’t recognize.   You challenge me and make me a better person.    I hope I have been as good of friend to you as you have been to me.

To my little sister friend, who is all grown up now.  Who’d have imagined when as a college student and you decided to rent a room from me that this would result in a friendship that was more like sisterhood. You never cease to amaze me with your drive.   Knowing you has helped me to realize it is never too late, or you are never too old to explore new things and dream a new dream.

To all my Thanksgiving family friends.   RangerSir and I have never been alone on my favorite holiday of the year.    Thanks to all my friends in Minnesota, Colorado, Michigan, and Montana who have be part of the the many dinners we have shared with you.

Thanks to all my creative friends who have been with me for all my creative endeavors.   Your support and encouragement have meant the world to me when I was full of doubt.

Thanks to my family who are not only friends but also family.   I am lucky that I have brothers who rock and never let me forget who I am or where I came from.

Thanks to RangerSir, who is not only my husband, but my best friend.

This holiday season I just want everyone to know I am thankful for having you in my life.




Remembering the Days of Summer

Woke up to snow and wind this morning.    It made me think back on the sunny days of summer.   I went back and looked at some of the photos I took while on the road this summer.   On the crest of the hill in the distance you can see a windmill.   It was a “real” one that still pumped water into a stock tank for cattle on the range far from home.


Taken in Lake County, Montana

Here Yesterday, Gone Today


My flowers were blooming the day before and now they look sad covered in snow because winter is here for the duration.

Fall lasted  what seemed to be unusually long this year in southwest Montana.  The days were warmer and the sun brighter in late October than I remembered in years past.   Then the calendar flip  to November and suddenly we had two back to back snow events, leaving a thick covering on the ground.   We still have a blanket of snow in our yard and they are calling for another snow event tonight.    Fall was gone in a flash and winter is here to stay.

Sitting this One Out

Last year I participated in National Novel Writing Month.   I have always felt I  had a book floating around in my head.   In October last year I thought what better way than to participate in the event to get it out of my head and down into black and white.   So I signed up and participated.

It was a great experience.   I highly recommend it for anyone who thinks that they have a novel floating around in their head.   It kept me going and the pressure to get the words out of my head on a schedule gave me some feel what doing this for a living might involve.  I wrote every single day.   My novel moved forward excuses not allowed.

Unfortunately I am sitting this year out.   For the first time I can ever remember there is not book in my head taking shape. I am not sure why, but I chalk it up to doing so much self exploration right now.   No matter the cause this year I am sitting National Novel Writing Month out.    It is the right thing at this time.

Good luck to all the rest of you who have made the commitment to write this year.

Learning to Walk

When we first got Zip he hated to go on walks.   It gave me pause because I picked my little terrier because of their energy level and my desire for another walking partner.  I have blogged previously about his lack of outdoor experience and it turned out that this was part of the problem.   He really did not know how to walk.   When he walked his legs went every which way.   They did not move in conjunction with one another. He spent untold amounts of energy in forward momentum.

He has now learned how to walk.   He has found his rhythm.  Now he begs to go on multiple walks each day.   I have found my walk partner.

He wants to know why we have stopped.

He wants to know why we have stopped.

View from the Interstate

I recently read a blog post done by a person who said they traveled through Montana via Interstate.  Their post talked about how they did not see all the wonder that so many talk about in Montana.  This post got me to thinking about how we travel.

The signs on the interstate don't even hint at the potential places have if you visit.

The signs on the interstate don’t even hint at the potential places have if you visit.

Many of us travel via airplane.   When we fly, we accept that we are miles above the earth and what we see is from a perspective that many will never see.   We also accept that at this elevation we will miss much of what is below us. The most we will get is a mosaic perspective on the earth.

Others of us will travel via auto and the interstate.   When we travel this way we assume that we are getting a look into the world through which we travel.   I had always assume that to be true until I spent my summer on the backroads of Montana.  It was having my summer job and reading this blog that lead me to a new discovery, interstate travel really is only a common denominator for speedy travel.  It is not the way to see the USA.

An interstate was designed to allow a truck to travel from point A to point B with the least resistance.  It was to have the least amount of curves and hills. Business are located along the interstate to save truckers time and milage when traveling from business location to business location.

Knowing the objective of the interstate highway system it makes sense that when traveling to a vacation destination that we too will take the interstate.   We want to get to our vacation location as fast as possible.  When we travel at 65, 75 or even 80 miles per hour down the road we only get a glance at what lies along the interstate.  It also means that we sacrifice the places we drive through. When traveling through Illinois or Montana when we hit a town it will be lined with exits with easy access to the Home Depot, Target and Costco.   Each town will appear to have the same national chain restaurants.   No one would ever claim that McDonald’s and Chili’s are as good as the culinary experience you could find in neighborhoods in Chicago, but if one were to judge the Windy City by the restaurants named along the interstate one might assume that to be true.  The same is true of the viewshed offerings.   What lines the interstate will feel very same, almost monotonous.   This is why people claim the Dakotas are flat, the mountains in Colorado are just ok and Chicago is just tall buildings.   It also explains why driving seems monotonous and hypnotic.   The interstate is designed to be the same on each mile.  When we travel via the interstate; we get the interstate view.

So the next time you go on holiday and decide to drive remember that when you drive though a place and you never get off the interstate for more than gas or to eat you really have not visited that place.

Life With a New Dog – Housetraining

This past month has been full of triumphs and amazing awakenings for us  with our new dog, Zip.   He came from a pound after he was turned in when his frail older owner passed away.   We were unsure what we were getting into but once we had decided to take him we knew that this first month would be a learning process for both him and us.  It has been much more time consuming than we had experienced before when we adopted a shelter dog.  Each dog before Zip has had a set of adjustment and learning curves, but Zip’s are for the most part things we have not experienced before.

The best we could tell Zip was a 100% indoor dog before he came to our house. This was a first for us.  He was startled when he walked on grass the first time. He walked funny, because the grass to him felt funny.   Fortunately he quickly learned that he loved the outdoors and would gladly go outside and flop down in the grass.

Zip loves the outdoors and isn't sure how he lived without it in his previous life.

Zip loves the outdoors and isn’t sure how he lived without it in his previous life.

I am going to repeat the observation, Zip was a 100% indoor dog before he came to our house.   We did not have to figure out how to show him where our door to go outside was.    We did not have to figure out the magic word to tell him it was time to take care of business.   All of this was because, it quickly became apparent that he was worse than not house trained, he was indoor trained.   We kept logs of all input and output trying to figure out his schedule so we could beat him to an “accident”.  We used the crate and the umbilical method both which had worked with past dogs who had been house trained but need a brush up when they arrived at their new home.  He had no idea about either method and fought them both.  We would sit outside, tried walks, and even the  in/out only for the toilet method trying to help him get the gist of what we were asking.   No matter what we did, he refused to do anything and then he would immediately perform when we gave up and took him inside.   Each time he would  wag his tail and if he could he was smiling as though he was doing the right thing.   It was almost laughable if it wasn’t so wrong.  Recognizing the problem I first tried the puppy pads thinking if he used those and then I put them outside he would get the idea.   He did not use puppy pads in his past life either.  If he had a choice between doing it inside on the pad or the floor.   The floor always won.    This was how he was trained.

Zip is now well on his way to being trained.  Our combination of scheduling, umbilical and crating had him, not giving up was the key to our success.  His original schedule required hourly stops and nightly runs.   He now can go for longer periods of time including the whole night.  We are trying to figure out how to get him to ask to to out.   When he sits at the top of the stairs and then heads down when everyone is active upstairs it is a sign he his heading for the door.   He will wait a few minutes for you. You need to notice that he has gone to the door, because the clock is ticking.   So far it is working, with no accidents in the past week.   Now we really want him to learn to bark or something so we notice that he needs attention.  Only once have successfully taught a dog to bark on command and then to go outside, so odds are not in our favor, but we know things could be much worse.