Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Eve 2007

Wow - now I have done it - signed up for Blog365 which is a continuation of NaBloPoMo - a post every day of the year 2008 instead of just the month of November. But maybe it will keep me going.

Today has been a bright sunny day, but DDHH and I are staying home tonight. The forecast is for snow and wind so we will be settling in with a movie and a glass of something bubbly and going to bed early, because tomorrow is the last day to hunt Bambi and the last chance to add to the larder for this year.

EDIT ok scrap the bottle of bubbly - there is only bubbly cherry juice in the house anyway and DDHH has decided he is going hunting New Years Day since it is the last chance this season. Oh well I will watch a movie and we will still go to bed early.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

What a beautiful morning we woke up too. The sky was that clear delicate blue of a cold winter day, and there was a coating of crystalline white frost on all the branches. The moon must have been enjoying the view as it was taking its time going to bed.

We had a wonderful Christmas day yesterday. Our family was together sharing the day. Opening presents, cooking Chinese for dinner and putting together puzzles from Christmas past.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Venison at last

There is at last a large Doe hanging in our garage so we will have red meat to eat this year. But I will be glad when deer hunting season is over. It was my responsibility this morning to take care of the "dire wolf" pup before going to work, because DDHH was out trying to add to the larder. I had Duncan all tucked into his outdoor run and was about to climb into the car when I discovered he had made a pile. I did not want to leave THAT there all day so I gathered a shovel and headed back out to the run to clean it up. The "wolf" of course escaped. He raced in huge circles first on one side of the run and yard and then on the other while I stood and yelled "here here HERE!". He finally returned when he had relieved some of his pent up energy and dashed through the gate back into the run. Then jumped up and down as I locked the gate as if to say "I still am a puppy at seven months and NEED to run". He was happy to return in his own good time, and he never went far. I even made it to work on time, and even beat everyone else there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mr. Magic

Just came back in from walking Duncan in the snow. I wished that #1 daughter was here with her camera. The temperature is just about at freezing so the snow is really good packing. I threw snow balls for him which of course he had a terrible time finding. As he searched and finally put his nose in the right spot I called "that's it, good boy, bring it here" and he would grab a mouth full of snow and run back with it. We did that over and over.

He also loves apples. He jumps up and picks them off the trees and then throws them around like balls, even scooping his nose under them in the snow and flipping them in the air. since the snow was such good packing I thought I would make a small snowman while puppy was playing with his apple. That didn't work. As soon as I had a ball big enough to start rolling, and even get a couple of rolls on some of the tries, he would come running and jump right on my snow ball, demolishing it. Then he went back to his apple. I tried several times and finally had to give up.

He also spent time making life miserable for the meadow voles, tracking their tunnels with his head completely under the snow and then digging out their hay stacks and eating them. When the romp degenerated into eating rabbit droppings I decided it was time to come inside. To bad there were no pictures of his antics. What a pleasure to watch a dog having fun in the snow and be able to participate in part of it.

almost winter

Finally got the rest of the lights on the Christmas tree last night with the help of DDHH. The Frasier Fir has been standing in the Sun Room for 10 days and FINALLY is lighted.

Today DDHH is still out there chasing the wily Bambi. He has yet to see any deer but there are LOTS of tracks and signs. Apparently they are only moving at night and settle down to sleep during the day.

DDHH leaves very early in the morning so when Duncan needs his morning walk it is still dark out. DDHH and Duncan often walk along the hedge row out to the street corner where there is one of those Sodium Iodide street lights which cast a very orange light. #1 Daughter, Tandaina, is a photographer by avocation. She has discovered that she loves the orange light that these street lights cast on snow. After the storm that dumped a pretty good load of snow on us last Sunday she found herself out taking more snow pictures. I am always proud of her results. If you follow here links you will find her photo album and more winter pictures here.

My winter pictures are limited to daylight.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


a quiet day here. i hardly remember what i did today. lets see watered the frasier fir, finished reading a book, then i made a list and did some shopping on line and before i knew it it was lunch time. so i made some lunch and then it was time to make some dinner. seems i was on the computer most of the day and got nothing worth remembering done, other than fiddling with my digital picture folders. and here i am now just putting a few words down. oh i do remember that i did take the dog out long enough for my coat to get wet and at some point in the day filled the bird feeder. those hardly count as memorable. oh yes and now i remember i paid a bill too. where has the day gone and how did it get so wasted? think i'll go read a book.

Monday, December 10, 2007


The travel log is at last done, the pressure is off. The trip pictures are posted in my Picasa web album, even though I might add some.

The "Christmas Concert" was a success at Church yesterday and a live Frasier Fir is standing in the sun room earlier than we have ever had a tree up. It is going to stand there and settle in for a while before I get around to decorating it.

Since our daughters are grown and no longer live at home I have thoughts of not putting a tree up. But then my extensive collection of hand blown glass ornaments would stay in their box in the crawl space. A lot of people collect "things" bells, teacups, figurines, thimbles, salt and pepper shakers, bird figurines, Hummel figurines, license plates, ad infinitum. I have never thought of myself as a collector though I have way too much stuff. when my children were young I collected children's books especially those illustrated by Paul Gobel or Ann Ophelia Dowden. My mother collected little bird figurines of all sorts, emphasis on the word little. She would bring them back from foreign countries as her mementos when other people might bring back spoons, or plates or ashtrays. It occurred to me last night that I collect had blown glass Christmas ornaments. Ergo I HAVE to put up a tree even if I only hang the glass ornaments, or they sit in the crawlspace and never see the light of day. I guess that is part of the reason I never take the tree down until around Valentines day. Thank goodness Frasier Firs keep their needles and look good for months.

And now a less frenetic count down to Christmas can continue. A time to contemplate Advent and live into the season more completely. Gads that hardly sounds like my words. They sound more like Tand. A time to spend a more preparatory Advent. Working leisurely at preparing for Christmas. Not just the stuff we do like making lists, planning menus, shopping, cleaning house, and gradually putting up the Christmas decorations, but also trying to remember to pray more and read something more contemplative including my Bible. And get some exercise so I don't blow up like a blimp eating all the goodies. Hmm Lent and Advent are preparatory seasons, I should be resisting gluttony now too.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

From Greybull Wyoming to the top and then home.

My pictures for this part of the trip are finally up here.

From the Beartooth Mountains in Montana we came south through Lovell and to Greybull where we stopped to take a look at an airfield with a large number of old airplanes parked. This was the home of a company that used to be one of the largest owners of planes used for firefighting, crop dusting and seeding. And imagine my delight to discover my name - oh no it is their name emblazoned on the tail of a PB4Y-2, the Navy version of a B-24 parked right next to the fence. Hawkins and Powers is no longer in business due to two tragic accidents with C-130s during fire fighting chemical drops. Pictures of the airfield and all that is left of the collection is here. Oh Hawkins is my maiden name which made it a fun discovery.

From Greybull we continued up US 14 through Shell where there is an impressive waterfall and its deep narrow canyon of smooth rock walls (pictures in the US 14 photo album on Picasa) and up to the top of the north end of the Bighorn Mountains. Again we drove through undulating landscape that hardly looked like the tops of mountains. We found a place to camp at Tie Flume campground.
The story of how the camp ground got its name is fascinating. I am not good at dates, but during the building of the rail roads a flume (water flowing in a wood trough also used at grist mills and the like) was built by hand from this location all the way to Sheridan Wyoming to transport railroad ties which were cut from the forests on top of these mountains. What a feat. Tie Flume is a National Forest Campground with graveled parking spaces well away from your closest neighbor, good water from a pitcher pump well and acceptable pit toilets. This building had LED lights on them so they were easy to find in the dark. Unlike in the south the garbage cans here were heavy duty bear proof jobs with complicated mechanisms a bear could never get his big paws into even if he figured out what was needed. As we parked the "Silver Dog House" we could hear cattle bawling in the not too far distance. Driving the road into the campground we had to wait for cattle to get out of the way, we should have know, it was pretty obvious, that this campground was on an actively grazed open range. The cattle even wandered through camp. Our other camps had been on open range but the cattle were kept out in part by rail fencing plus we just happened to be there at a time when the immediate areas were not actively grazed. Mule Deer also habituated the Tie Flume camp ground. This was our least favorite camp site but since the cattle slept at night they were quiet then. We missed having a stream running right by the site but it was heavily covered with Lodgepole pine.

From here we explored US 14A without the trailer on the day before we were to collect our three month old puppy, Duncan. Who is now seven months old and banging my elbow with his nose as I try to type this. We traveled west on US 14A. The part of 14A that descends to the Basin below has long 10% slopes which we had been advised to stay off of it with our trailer. It is the direct way to Lovell where we needed to go to get Duncan the tomorrow and we want to know just how bad this road is. Most of it is level road either on top of the mountain or in the Bighorn Basin. It is a beautiful drive. East of the Medicine Wheel we found a patch of snow and some wildflowers blooming around it. There was a parking area here with a foot trial west to an old abandoned mine. East of the road a horse trail through the flowers lead to the top of a steep slope. We chose east through the flowers and climbed high above the road on a great hill side of grazed alpine meadow. There are pictures in the Picasa. From the top of the hill we looked east to miles of pastured meadow rolling into the distance and to the west we could see into the Bighorm Basin. Below the road but still on top of the mountain, a flock of sheep gathered around a copse of conifers in the distance. A pair of horses with halters, so not wild as one tourist excitedly declared, grazed just below the road. They likely belonged to the shepherds.

From here we continued on to the Medicine Wheel. An FAA installation is also located off the same road on top of Medicine Mountain. From its high location it can peek through a gap in the mountains to the west to control the communications of aircraft over a great area. The Medicine Wheel is located on top of a Medicine Mountain. Access is from a parking lot a mile and a half off the 14A and then by foot another mile and a half up a road that is accessible to handicapped and American Indians by vehicle if requested.

The Medicine Wheel is an ancient holy site of the American Indians who come from all over the country to pray and make offerings. Open to the public all visitors are urged to walk around the circle to the left and to respect the site as you would any holy site. American Indians have priority and may request to have the site closed to the public for a ceremony with no advance notice.

My pictures of the Medicine Wheel do not do it justice. It helps to have an advantage of greater height than standing on the ground. As we walked a storm was approaching from the north and made our stay a bit shorter than I would have liked and not very relaxed. I would like to visit on a day when the weather was not trying to chase us away. I walked around the wheel twice once taking pictures the second time trying to get a feel of the place. Though it was interesting I unfortunately got no personal feeling of a Spiritual presence. Clearly others had.

The storm finally chased us back down the mile and a half road with thunder crashing over our heads and the lightening blessedly farther away down the valley behind us. We waited out part of the storm in the little building erected for the Forest Service volunteers, at the parking lot, along with other visitors and then made a dash for the truck. We sat and watched as snow and then hail fell on us, praying that there was no large hail where the "Silver Dog House" was parked. As the storm passed we started down the road toward US 14A and the trial run down to Lovell.

The drive was quite an adventure. Much of it in second gear to keep our speed down so we would not have to use a lot of braking for the sharp switch backs. At one spot there were tire marks on the pavement and signs of impact with the wall of the mountain. We passed a number of 18 wheelers coming up the road so we figured if they can do it so can we - course they have big diesel engines and we have a small gas engine. We had learned much by listening to lots of people who had driven this before. With low gear and brakes applied only in short hard bursts not over long distances they were only warm at brake check stops as we went down. We did stop at the Brake Cooling Turnout on the map and spent time there because the view was great. There was one wide place in the road on the outside which was protected by high fences where we also stopped to check the brakes and enjoy the view. The driver had little other opportunity to enjoy the scenery as his concentration had to be on the road. Coming back up we passed several vehicles whose brakes smelled way too hot.

We spent only a little time in the basin before the return back the way we came. Ate dinner in an unfamiliar fast food place and Discovered the most divine candy shop. Queen Bee candy company makes candy from the local honey. The irrigated fields in the Basin produce a huge crop of alfalfa hay and the accompanying honey. The trip back up definitely had a lot less pucker power, but it would be a real job to haul the Silver Dog House up. Not this trip thankfully. However driving the route again the next day to pick up Duncan was going to be OK.

The next day we collected Duncan from the desert. That evening his crate was siting on the ground beside the steps into the trailer. When it started to get dark he just went in the crate and put himself to bed. What a surprise. We were told we could spoil him and let him ride on our laps all the way home if we wanted, to aid bonding. He preferred to ride in his crate. He turned out to be a great traveler, no complaint, no accidents. His only problem was that on the first night on the top of the mountain the poor pup nearly froze. He was used to 100 degree temps during the day and certainly a lot warmer than the 37* it fell to that night. He did not have a blanket to curl up with and I could hear him moving around in his crate during the night. In the morning he was shivering pretty hard so I wrapped him up in one of Husbands coats and hugged him until he warmed up.

The next morning we headed White One pulling the Silver Dog House east for home. We had three LONG days on the road. The first night we stayed at a city park at Medora, North Dakota just outside of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The next night was at a Wal-Mart parking lot in Superior Wisconsin, right next to the Burlington Northern track - that was noisy! The third was back in our friends yard in the U.P. There Duncan learned to manage a long flight of steps and had the shock of his life. Duncan is a desert raised dog and got to go for a swim in Lake Michigan. Well he just dabbled. It was a bit much for him. A month later when we returned to Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore he discovered he LOVED the water. From the U.P home was the shortest day's drive of the return trip.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

What a sunrise

Wow the color was amazing - unfortunately I took this through a window so not all is in focus but I could not resist posting it anyway because of the amazing color.

The first day of Advent and we have a brilliant sunrise - not Advent colors but God's colors.