Another Life Change

My last day of my summer job we learned we were going to have to put down our dog Harley.   We had adopted him from a rescue shelter as an adult.  We soon figured out he had been abused, but it would be a long time before we heard via the local grapevine how terrible his abuse.  It was reflected in some of his behaviors, that we we could never convince him to let go of.   All this aside he was a great little companion in our family.   I worked from home all but the last three months of his life, so we were constant buddies.   Yet when RangerSir got home each night he followed him around and tried to make up for the time they did not have together while he made money to buy dog food.  Harley was a little Cairn Terrier (think Toto), and his terrier attitude and energy level made him a perfect match for our household.   He was the world’s best hiking partner, tireless but alert.  As a Cairn he should have seen anything that was small and darted as prey, but he was the protector of baby chicks and our adult flock.   Never made sense, but it was a role he took seriously.  He fit into our lifestyle, energy when he needed and quiet when we were.   He was our pet, a member of our family.  He is gone now, but he will always hold a special place in our heart.

One of my favorite pictures of Harley doing what he loved sitting up on a rock looking out on the world.

One of my favorite pictures of Harley doing what he loved sitting up on a rock looking out on the world.

After we put him down we had a hole in our hearts but we were not sure if or when we would want another dog. We started to look at the local shelters and the online shelter pages after about a month.  Sometimes thinking yes it was time and other times thinking not so sure, and if you are not so sure – you really aren’t ready.   It is hard to know if and when you are ready.

We talked about the four dogs we had owned in the 35 years we have been married    We were honest about their quirks, good traits and the bad traits.   Our next dog could take us into our 70’s easily and so as we thought about the things we wanted in our next dog, some things were negotiable and others nonnegotiable. We were getting closer to making a commitment to a pet for their lifetime.

Five weeks later we were fairly certain we had found a match.  We had found this dog from an online shelter notice. We had asked lots of questions and RangerSir and I had discussed his pros and cons. Sunday we drove nearly four hours to a shelter to meet this dog and see if when we met him it was a match.   We are now the owners of another rescue dog.   He is a teenager mixed breed, likely of Cairn origin.

I am sure that we will do some pet posting on the blog as we move along the continuum of learning about this dog and his quirks.   There are sure to be lots of bumps in the highway and some long learning curves for all of us.  In spite of it all pets bring so much to our lives that years from now we will only remember a few of the challenges that come with a new pet, Zip.

Our new teenager, Zip.

Our new teenager, Zip.

If They Still Made Westerns


This sort of reminds me of the opening panoramic view in the Big Valley, but this is found today in Montana.

Growing up the TV was full of old-fashion westerns.   They glamorized the history of the old west.   Bonanza, High Chaparral, Gunsmoke, and Big Valley were a few of the ones never missed at our house. One of my favorite parts of these shows beside the handsome heroic cowboys was the scenic lands of the west. This summer I realized that as the world has become more populated and we have more and more urban sprawl, the places where you can go to imagine what the west may have looked like long ago are becoming pretty hard to find.   Lucky for me Montana still has lots of places like that and I got to see many of them.   I always wanted to visit places like I saw on TV westerns and now I have.

Bear Country

There are many places in Montana that are bear country.   People have a tendency to think of bear country as the big woods, but in many cases is the open prairies that surround the woods. This summer I carried bear spray in my truck.   When I surveyed places where I felt that it was potential bear country, because signs told me or my gut said bears are possible here I strapped on my can of bear spray when I got out to do my surveys.

Not all likely bear places have signs like this.

Not all likely bear places have signs like this.

Only once this year did I feel uneasy about wild animals.   It was a place that was not really bear habitat, but mountain lion habitat.   They actually scare me more because they are so stealthy. I felt the whole time like I was being watched.    I got my business done and got out of there.   All the time singing any song I could think of or make up, making my body big and purposeful.

No matter where you go, no matter how short the time there if you are in bear country remember your bear spray.

TMI – too much information

We have a habit of sharing too much information on the internet, most of what we share others really don’t care much about.    I had been doing a summer job travelogue which had been a lot of fun.   The last week of my summer job, my personal life suddenly was full of lots of crazies.  That is where I have been  since my last post taking care of all those crazies, that sharing here would be TMI.   My life is back to a more normal pace, whatever that means.    I plan to get back out here on my blog sharing thoughts that come to me when looking out the window here in Montana.  So I hope you will be watching to see what pops in to my head next.  See you soon.

Travel Recommendations from a Road Warrior

This summer job has made me a road warrior.   I spend four days each week on the road.   Every Thursday night I appear at home with dirty laundry and Monday by 6, I am heading out for another week of work.   Organization is everything in this kind of lifestyle to make sure you take everything you need  when you leave home for work.  Many of the places I visit don’t have much more than a couple of restaurants/bars, a gas station and a grocery store.   No place to buy socks if you forget to pack them.

The surprising but indispensable travel item for me this summer has been my collection of eBags packing cubes.  As a sewer I seriously thought about trying to personally engineer a collection, but in the end I bought mine.    I love them.   My bag has a certain number and size of cubes.   On Sunday, I pull them out and pack each of them and when they are all back in my luggage it means I am ready to go.   Some of my cubes have a spare pair of socks or underwear in them to remind me of what goes in each.  For this job each cube holds one of the five pieces of clothing I put on each day, but I used to be a business suit traveler and think that each cube could just as easily carry your daily outfit.   There is nothing worse than the last day of a professional business trip and realizing you wore the wrong blouse with the wrong suit and the one left does not match the suit you intend to wear tomorrow.   Ranger Sir and I will sometimes travel with just one bag if we go for a night or two.   It is not usually a pleasant experience.   I am thinking a second set of cubes in his own color may solve that problem.   Shop around for your set because the amount the retailers are asking you to pay varies widely.

Everyone has their favorite bag for toiletries based on what they want and need.  Most of us take some supplies from home.   My favorite choice for this is the GoToob products.   First reason for recommending this product is that it is easy to fill.   It actually has an opening you can put shampoo in without it traveling all down the sides.   Second is they stand behind the product no questions.   I broke a top, emailed them and I got a new top.   It is a one time purchase.   Lastly if you travel via airlines it was designed with that in mind.   The only negative is it is designed with words like soap, shampoo, lotion, conditioner on the neck.   Without my glasses in the shower I can read that stuff, so I had to shop around to get assorted colors to work for me.    In spite of that I really do like these the best of all the travel containers I have ever owned.

The fabric I used in this pillowcase always makes me smile because it is so crazy unexpected.

The fabric I used in this pillowcase always makes me smile because it is so crazy unexpected.

My last recommendation is a pillow case from home.   I have made a collection of bright don’t forget me pillow cases, but anything will do.    Pillow cases from home can be used to cover and double up hotel pillows to simulate your personal pillow.   Pillowcases from home can also be used to keep your face and skin away from the harsh hotel laundry soaps.   It also puts another barrier between you and the pillow that hundreds of others have slept on.   Lastly this is what I put all my dirty clothes in to take them home.   It is like having a personal laundry bag to keep your dirty clothes from soiling your luggage and anything you may have clean left in your bag for your next stop in your travels.

Another of the Unusual Things You Might See in Montana

Last week I was traveling down the road I happened upon Medusa, or at least a rendition of her.  It was so amazing I had to turn around and take a picture.   This was huge as you can see by the fence in the background for scale.    People are amazingly creative and this is another example of that.


You will find this head of Medusa near Hobson, Montana.

Fall Housecleaning

This weekend while I was home we started fall housecleaning.  Each fall we clean our chicken coop thoroughly before winter sets in southwest Montana and they are confined to quarters. Fall coop cleaning is not only a neat and tidy exercise, but is also step in promoting a healthy coop.  It gets rid of all the nasty old bedding and dust  that can be a hot bed of problems.   Our chickens have a coop sectioned off of the shed with their own door, but they also have run of the shed (we have given up on keeping them out.)  So fall housecleaning is really a two part cleaning experience.

It varies each year what we do to some degree.   Some years we scrub down the walls but occasionally we give the interior a new coat of paint.    This year it was paint.   We rented a sprayer and it made getting in to all the crooks, crannies and working with the uneven wall boards and nails much easier.   We consider yellow the color of sun the right color for our coop, so as before it is still yellow.  This year we picked something a little brighter at the paint store and once it was up in the coop it looks like we probably have to plug that color in, it is so bright.  This time we ended up not only painting the coop area, but the whole shed that was a mixture of paints, woods and just looked pretty cobbled up like it was from the inside. With that coat of paint it not only sealed everything back up, but made the shed look much better.

Our coop has a raised hardwood floor, but the chickens have taken over most of the shed, or at least they wander around in it all so we treat it all when we clean it.   This means that we put down some fresh stall dry on the dirt floor in the shed, along with some fresh straw.

It looks pretty great now that we are done.


It is yellow everywhere in the coop….nest boxes…ceiling….everywhere.


We painted more than the just the coop. This time it was the whole shed.