Ranch life in the Big Sky state through the eyes of one who has lived through it...so far.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Rope by Any Other Name

Considering I am the daughter of a roper, it seems odd I didn't start roping seriously until I was a sophomore in college. It had more to do with the lack of rodeos in our area that offered breakaway roping as an event than it did with my desire to be a roper. I'd turned plenty of steers in the practice pen for my dad so he could train heeling horses.

Then I got to college. After a few skid-on-my-chin incidents while dismounting in the goat tying (it never looked quite like this when I did it), I decided it made more sense to rope.

Of course, I made this decision three weeks into the season, which meant I wasn't quite as well-equipped as I might have been had I planned a little better. But what the heck, my barrel horse was great for heading steers, so I just used him despite the fact that he was a foot taller than the average calf horse and had a stop that once knocked the wind out me. I'd never roped enough calves to even own a rope. I just 'borrowed' my dad's old heading ropes.

So there I was at the big Montana State University spring college rodeo, sitting in the alley with the rest of the breakaway ropers, waiting to compete. One of the older girls looked at me, then at my raggy, fuzzed out nylon, and asked, "Where did you get that rope?"

"My dad gave it to me."

Her eyebrows raised. "Doesn't he like you?"

I went out the next week and bought a real calf rope.

Sounds simple. Stroll on down to Norman's Western Wear with me, though, and you'll be faced with something that looks like this:

Yeah, that's a lot of ropes, and they're all different. So I figured since some of you are as confused as I was on that first trip to the store, I'd give you a brief tutorial.

First, a little history. Pretty much every version of human civilization in history created some form of rope. Handy stuff for hauling wood and building rafts and tying martyrs to the stake for burning. They made it of whatever fiber they had at hand, mostly from plants, unless they had livestock to provide horse hair or strips of rawhide. No one knows for sure who was first to fashion rope into a lariat, except that it seems to be linked to the presence of horses.

Fast forward to the modern West. Rodeo came on the scene, bringing the need for strong, balanced ropes of consistent quality. Early rodeo ropes were made of grass. Yeah, that kind of grass. Hemp. Mar-i-juana.

Well, not quite, but a close relative. Industrial hemp plants grow much taller and produce a lot more fiber than the kind that regularly go up in smoke. Tough, stringy fiber that makes excellent rope when twisted into strands. Three or four strands are then twisted together to form a uniformly sized rope.

A chunk of rope becomes a lariat (which we shall from this point forward be calling a rope because no self respecting rodeo person owns a 'lariat' or 'lassoes' anything. We own ropes. We rope cattle. We do not lasso unless we are being sarcastic) with the addition of a hondo, which allows for the building of a loop. The modern version of ropes have three main components:

The horn knot is used only when roping calves in the arena, when you want the rope securely attached to the saddle. When pasture roping or team roping, the tail of the rope is left loose, then wrapped or 'dallied' around the saddle horn to stop or turn the critter once roped. This allows for easy release in case of emergency, which generally involves a mad cow under your horse's belly, or a rope tangled around your horse's leg or under his tail, which ups the excitement quotient by a fair amount since a rope under the tail is pretty much guaranteed to make most horses blow up and go to bucking. This is not a good time to be tied on hard and fast.

The saddle horn is wrapped in strips of rubber—in this case, cut from an old inner tube, which are getting increasingly hard to find since the advent of tubeless tires. Without the rubber, the rope slides and burns through your hand.

Though a huge improvement on braided ropes, grass ropes had issues. Natural fiber is very sensitive to heat, cold and moisture. Let it get too dry and a grass rope is like trying to swing and throw a really long piece of limp spaghetti. Too wet and it's the equivalent of that spaghetti if you leave the leftovers sitting out on the table overnight (not that I would ever do such thing). Grass ropes were also known to break. Not a good feeling, seeing the loose end of that rope come zinging back in your face. Like they say, it's all fun until somebody loses an eye.

Nowadays, rodeo ropes come in three main flavors: poly, nylon and poly-grass. Poly-grass is favored by calf ropers, who like the weight and feel of the natural fiber, but with polypropylene strands woven in to increase strength. Poly-grass ropes are high maintenance. Go to a rodeo and you'll see them on pickup hoods, baking in the sun to increase stiffness, in the shade under the pickup to 'limber them up', and stored in airtight cans to preserve the exact moisture content once achieved.
The white stuff in the can is baby powder. It makes the rope slicker so it 'feeds' more easily through the hondo. The white stuff outside the can needs no explanation.

Breakaway ropers prefer poly ropes. Cheaper, lower maintenance, more durable. Assuming you catch occasionally, a breakaway rope spends a lot of time dragging around on the ground behind the calf (like this.) You can rope a calf in the mud with a poly rope, hose it down, set it out to dry and it will recover. Do the same thing with a poly-grass, you might as well leave it at the catch pen, unless you need something to tie shut gates back at the ranch.

Team ropers want a stiffer rope, so they use nylon. Nylon ropes come in a million versions of stiffness and weight (and color, when it's the fashion), but the two main versions are heading and heeling ropes. Headers usually like a softer rope that will curl around the horns and come snug. Most heelers use a rope so stiff it's like swinging a hula-hoop because they want the loop to stay wide open in order to capture the steer's hind feet.

So, now you know more than you ever wanted or needed about ropes. Time to pack 'em up for the day and go eat.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cheap Tricks

Our 1990 Ford F350 had half a million miles on it. Literally. The odometer was turning over a hundred thousand for the fifth time when we finally sold the truck. The whole last year it was my commute to work vehicle because we'd sold my Dodge pickup and learned the hard way that a blown head gasket in a Grand Am can be fatal. To the car, not us, although there was a moment there when I thought my husband might blow a gasket of his own.

So I drove Big Red. Winter wasn't so bad. It had a good heater and a one ton dually is never a bad thing on icy roads. If nothing else, you're bigger than most stuff you slide into. Then spring came.

In Oregon, spring actually comes in the spring (as opposed to here, where we're pretty darn pleased if all the snow is gone from the coulees by the Fourth of July). As the temperatures climbed, it became apparent that Big Red's air conditioner wasn't conditioning much of anything. Diagnosis—um, I don't remember exactly but it was expensive.

Scratch air conditioning. Makes you soft, anyway. I drove with the windows down and proved beyond reasonable doubt that cheap generic deodorant really isn't as good as Secret Super-Dry. The worst part was getting in after the truck had been cooking in the sun with the windows rolled up. I left them down. It wasn't like I was going to get robbed. The cassette player had eaten its last tape at around the three hundred thousand mile mark, and the radio had played for so many hours the volume button was worn out in the lower ranges and the sound didn't kick on until increased to a point where the windshield vibrated. But what if someone stole the whole truck?

Excuse me for a moment.

Okay, done roaring with laughter. Pretty much. (snicker) Seriously, though, theft was not a concern. Big Red had the ideal security system. The ignition wires were so beat up they shorted out unless the steering column was tilted to an exact angle known only to me. Except it tended to change from day to day depending on the temperature, humidity and number of high school students loitering in front of Dean's Deli watching me try to find that perfect angle while melting into the red plastic seat cover.

The point of all this—believe it or not, I did have a point when I started—is how far a person will sometimes go to save a few bucks. A few posts back I wrote about a guy named Rooster who could pinch a penny until Abe Lincoln squealed. One of the comments pointed out this was a trait learned at his daddy's knee. And if you think Big Red was bad, you should have seen Benny's tractor.

It probably wasn't a bad tractor, until the battery went kaput. Benny dropped by the local tractor parts store to pick up a new one and catch up on the gossip. When they quoted him a price, he almost spilled his free cup of coffee. No dang way he was paying that much for a battery when he'd managed to start the tractor just fine for the past week without one.

See, Benny's house sits on a hillside. All he had to do was make sure he parked the tractor at the top of the hill pointing down before he turned it off. Next time he needed it, he just kicked off the parking brake and let it roll. Soon as he'd built up a good head of steam, he'd drop the clutch and the tractor would roar to life. No battery? No problem.

One day Benny recruited his wife to bale some hay while he tended to other chores. He rolled the tractor off the hill, got it running, and got her installed behind the wheel. Then he jumped down. Three steps away, he realized he'd forgotten the most important part of the instructions.

He turned around and yelled. "Whatever you do, don't turn off the tractor!"

"What?" she yelled back, over the roar of the engine.

"Don't turn off the tractor!" he yelled.

"I can't hear you," she yelled. "Just a second, I'll turn off this tractor—"

So now, for my entertainment and because I'm getting tired of listening to myself, tell me--what's the farthest you've gone to save a buck?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Like a Whole 'Nother Country

Yesterday my son and I made a run for pickup parts. Generally, we get them in our hometown, or maybe down in Great Falls when someone hauls cows to the sale. But this particular pickup has reached a vintage when it is generally much cheaper to buy used parts, and being a popular model, they're easy to find. Especially if you're willing to cross the border.

Southern Alberta is about ten times more populated than northern Montana. I assume this has something to do with the fact that while Americans consider us the frozen tundra, we are still south of the southernmost part of western Canada. The people north of us live in the banana belt of Alberta.

Oddly enough, this really is true. There is a swathe of southern Alberta extending from the Fort McLeod in the foothills of the Rockies, east toward Lethbridge and clear out past Medicine Hat where they can grow corn and sugar beets and other crops that can't cut it on our side of the border. It has to do with elevation and weather patterns and small geographic feature called the Hudson's Bay Divide that lies just north of our ranch. Rain that falls on our side ends up in the Missouri River, then the Mississippi, then the Gulf of Mexico. A raindrop that wanders a mile north and trickles off the other side of the Hudson's Bay Divide will flow north and east and into--shockingly--Hudson's Bay, clear out in Manitoba or Ontario.

The point of this whole story is that due to the weather and the relatively tropical climate, there are half a dozen towns less than an hour into Canada where we can find things like auto parts. A salvage yard in Raymond offered us the best deal on a power steering box for a 1994 Ford F250 FWD. So away we went.

First, of course, there's that pesky international border to cross. Gone are the days when the people manning the customs offices had been there for twenty years and knew all the locals by sight. Now we have to show passports and birth certificates. They even ask us if we're carrying firearms. Our border crossing is only open from nine in the morning until six at night in the winter, so we can't venture too far unless we're planning to spend the night, or drive an extra hour or two to get home through a different port of entry.

Once across the border, it becomes immediately apparent that no, we are not in Kansas anymore. Or any other part of the U.S. (Those of my followers who are from Canada, Australia and Europe, you are not going to get why the rest of us are amused by these pictures. Feel free to skip ahead.)

First of all, you can drive really, really fast:

Which is good, because everything is a lot of these 'km' things away:

Twenty miles (excuse me, thirty two kilometers) north of the border, the highway passes through the McIntyre Ranch. No hunting of any kind is allowed on the thousands of acres they own. Believe me, these guys didn't get to be six and seven point bucks by being stupid (and no, I can't figure out what I did to make my camera take blue pictures):

No, they're not fenced in. They're invading the haystacks. Their friend across the road was even bigger:

As soon as we reached Raymond, we headed downtown. Southern Alberta has a large Asian population, which means nearly every little town has one of these. And yes, the food was awesome, despite the masking tape on the broken windows.

I was more concerned about the parking situation. First off, it was twenty degrees American and raining, which meant the streets were slicker than snot on a greasewood stick. Second, I'm pretty sure the engineer who designed middle of the street parking also owns the local body shop:

Although I saw no signs indicating such was the case, the locals also assume this center parking area may be used for U-turns at will. But perhaps it's best if I don't get started on how Albertans drive.

Fully stocked with Chinese food, MacIntosh toffee, Coffee Crisps and Aero bars, we headed south. Only one minor stop on the way home:


Now, dear readers, I have a question for you. Why is southern Alberta the only place I get this awesome brown sweet and sour sauce on my pork spareribs, instead of that glow in the dark orangey pink stuff they serve at all the U.S. restaurants?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Over at the other ranch..

Well, actually, it's the other blog I contribute to, and it's my turn, none of which has anything to do with this picture, I just thought it was cute in a possible referral to child services kind of way.

Those of you who've been hanging around here since the early days will recognize this post, but the rest of you might like to hear why I married a pusher:

Everybody Needs a Little Romance

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Back in the Die Hard Days

Monday night I did something I haven't done since we moved back to Montana. I came home after work and roped. At night. In the winter.

It's very dark and very chilly at night in the winter. Even inside our indoor arena, which does have lights but is not heated except by a big woodstove where you can leave your snowboots so when you're done roping and take off your cowboy boots it doesn't feel like you're shoving your toes into hollowed out cubes of ice.

You can also thaw out any appendages that went numb immediately after you peeled off your extra heavy winter coat so you were capable of swinging a rope without wrapping the loop around your head. Which doesn't mean I don't wrap the loop around my head when I'm not wearing a coat, but shedding it does seem to reduce the frequency.

To be totally honest, it wasn't very cold last night (although--now that I think about it--if you're going to insist on total honesty you should probably be reading someone else's blog). It was above freezing. Downright balmy compared to some of our practice sessions back in the die hard days.

The die hard days began the moment I started dating my husband. I suspect Greg needed chute help a whole lot more than he wanted a girlfriend. Lucky for him, he got both (and don't bother trying to make him say any different because he's not stupid and he has to share a very small house with me). Anyway, we were both determined to spend every spare moment and spare dime roping. Even some dimes that weren't so spare. 

Top secret relationship tip: shared insanity is the key to long term happiness.

 We started dating in August, which meant we had about six weeks of decent roping weather before the ground froze. It also turned white. Fear not, Greg had friends with an indoor arena a mere forty miles away. At least two nights a week I'd roll in from work at six-thirty and find the horses and calves loaded and the pickup running. As long as the visibility was at least twenty yards, the temperature was above ten degrees and the snow plows had been out, we roped.

Greg had a 1983 Ford F250  pickup with a diesel engine. By the time I came along, ol' Black had a lot of miles and years on it, but it still ran like a champ. Everything but the heater. The heater had never worked worth a darn. Typical diesel, my future husband said. Before he bought it everybody had warned him how those diesel engines ran cold, and boy, were they right.

We'd get done roping at around nine o'clock, ice crystals floating in our bone marrow, and climb in ol' Black to be greeted by a lukewarm stream of air. I stashed a sleeping bag in the cab for the trips home, and not just because I was suffering from sleep deprivation.

We must've made that trip a hundred times that winter. And the next. And maybe the next after that, until we found an arena closer to home. My husband even proposed to me in that old black pickup (actually it was more like his buddy asked us when we were gonna get married and on the way home Greg said, "Whaddaya think? Should we?" and I got sort of google-eyed and said, "Right now?" and we decided not to talk about it again for awhile.) Other than the touching romantic moments, I shivered through every mile.

Then one day the temperature gauge went wonky. The needle flopped over and died without a quiver. A couple days later, Greg hitched a ride into town to retrieve ol' Black from the shop at the Ford dealership. On the way home, he flipped on the heater and heat came out! Real heat. Enough to make a person consider peeling off their insulated gloves and unzipping their coat and inch or two.

The minute Greg got home, he called the shop. "I've had that pickup for almost ten years and the heater has never worked. What did you do?"

The mechanic hemmed and hawed and finally said, "I turned the thermostat around. It was installed backwards at the factory."

Greg wasn't just warm when he hung up the phone--he was downright hot.

**Yeah, I wish that was our indoor arena. No such luck, just a picture I borrowed of the Lake Kookanoosa Arena near Eureka, MT.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slow Going

One of the things that makes winter bearable in the far north of Montana is the occasion thaw. We've been in thaw mode--over thirty five degrees every day--for the last ten days. If you've stopped by recently, you may have seen some pictures from early January that looked like this:

Ah, what a difference a week of warm weather makes. First thing this morning, the view across the same hayfield looked like this:

What? You can't see the difference? Look real close. There are patches of bare ground showing. I swear. Unfortunately, the snow that's left has either compacted into solid ice, or is packed into drifts so hard even the horses can stroll right over top:

That stuff isn't going away any time soon. Then again, you probably wouldn't want to be downstream if it all melted at once. It also helps to remind yourself that a few months from now we'll have grass like this thanks to all that snow:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How Not to Catch a Cow

There is a certain subset of the population that cannot resist accessorizing their vehicles. You know who you are. Most of it is purely for show, including, in many cases, what's called a grill guard. These are especially popular on pickups. Even more so in rural areas, where they are considered more of a necessity. Drive down any street in my hometown and you'll see several.

In chrome:

In black:

With lights and winches built in:

Heck, there's even one on the team bus:

Around here, we call them cow-catchers. Because you don't want to catch a cow without one:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cheap Date

As usual, winter is taking a chunk out of our budget. We’ve been trying to cut back on just about everything in order to pay our heating bill and keep the feed tractors full of diesel fuel. This is when I realize the most valuable things I learned in college had nothing to do with the biomechanics of anterior cruciate ligament injuries or the proper technique for taping an ankle sprain.

In college, we learned you can survive for thirteen days on twenty-four dollars and seven cents. To subsist on a diet of hamburger, ramen noodles and that case of French fries your roommate’s boyfriend snagged when the frozen food truck hit black ice on the interstate. That you can’t turn the thermostat in a single wide trailer below sixty-two degrees in the winter without the pipes freezing (and when the pipes do freeze, certain females will call in sick rather than go to work without washing their hair). We learned exactly how far a pickup could go on empty.

At my penny-pinching best, though, I couldn’t start one side of Rooster. He took frugality to the point of near death.

When you first met him, he seemed as normal as most cowboys, if quite a bit more entertaining. It wasn’t until college rodeo season started that his true nature began to emerge. Diesel engines were just starting to get a toe-hold in the pickup market back then, so Rooster drove a gas guzzler, pulling a twenty foot stock trailer with at least five horses in the back, four guys crammed into the cab and a couple more stuffed up in the gooseneck to split the fuel. In other words, just like the rest of us.

Our first clue that he might be operating on a slightly different wavelength was on the drive home from Cody, Wyoming. Rooster pointed the rig down a particularly steep and winding hill…and turned off the engine.

“Saves on gas,” he declared, as he wrestled a few tons of metal and horseflesh and screaming passengers to the bottom without the benefit of power steering. Or brakes.

By the end of the season, the number of people lining up to jump in with Rooster had dwindled. Even his girlfriend was beginning to have doubts, but by virtue of attending a different college, she never had to travel with him. Then one weekend he came to Bozeman and they went to an event at the Montana State University fieldhouse.

The fieldhouse is situated on the brink of a small hill, with the main parking lot on the upper level. As you pull out and head toward town, you’re going down an incline. On this particular evening the parking lots were packed. When everyone tried to leave at once, the usual stop and go traffic jam resulted.

There they sat, idling away precious fuel. Finally, Rooster couldn’t stand it any more. He switched off the pickup and turned to his girlfriend.

“Hop out."

“What? You can’t leave the pickup in the middle of the street.”

“We’re not.”

Nothing she could say would change his mind, including pointing out that it was her pickup and her gas. With several hundred people looking on, they got out and pushed that pickup twenty feet at a time, down the street to the stop sign at the bottom of the hill. Rooster was downright proud of himself. He figured he saved at least half a gallon of gas.

The relationship, however, was beyond salvage.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Bunch of Dummies

No, I'm not talking about us, although the way the weather's been lately you've got to wonder about the smarts of the people who choose to live out here.

This post is in response to a conversation on Twitter the other day, when one of the people I chat with online posted a picture of a roping dummy she built, and someone else said I should get one. I sat down and counted, and realized that we own nine roping dummies, not counting the table top version.

Roping is like any other sport. You don't learn to play basketball by jumping right into a full court game, and you don't learn to rope by jumping on a horse and going hell bent for leather after a calf. First, you have to master the basics. How to swing, how to throw, how to handle the slack so you don't end up tangling your horse in the rope with a calf on the other end.

To do that, you begin by standing on the ground, roping a dummy.

Roping dummies come in three basic varieties: calf roping dummies without horns, steer roping dummies with horns, and steer roping dummies with legs to practice heeling the hind feet.

Or, one dummy that can be either a calf or a steer. This is my college dummy. It's made of a section of six inch steel pipe. The legs come off so he can be stuffed in the tack room of your horse trailer. Or under your dorm room bed. Yes, that is a section of a radial tire. When you take the horns off, the tire becomes the calf head. We're not going to talk about how old this dummy is, or how many miles he's got under his treads.

However, throwing a loop while standing is a completely different experience than while seated in a saddle. Plus, for tie down ropers, there's the whole issue of learning to step off the right side of the horse after throwing (the opposite side of a normal dismount, for my non-horsey readers). That's why we have this guy:

(The white stuff is salt, we have to work it into the dirt every few years to keep the ground from freezing in the indoor arena.)

Next, it's time to learn to throw from the back of an actual horse. In order to learn under controlled conditions (i.e. without a calf running wild), some roping dummies are designed to be pulled along behind a horse or a four wheeler. This is one of my dad's designs. We call him Buford, though Johnny seems more appropriate since he's painted John Deere green.

My husband designed this dummy with the same concept in mind, except for calf roping. He built it out of race car tire and flattened one side so by bolting in a chunk of wood for a base. It's towed along on the sled and can either be tied on, or left loose so it rolls off when roped, mimicking what happens when a tie down roper catches a calf and gets off to tie it, while the horse keeps the rope tight. This is the dummy we use most when first getting a new horse used to tracking an animal and not spooking at the rope when it's swung and thrown.

Dad bought this dummy, which is really cool except I can't seem to get a rope around its 'neck' to save my life. It's also meant to be pulled. Notice the long, curving rails. Once you catch it and the rope comes tight, it rocks back until the rope pops off the front, then drops back down to be roped again. No getting off to retrieve your rope. Another excellent training tool for beginning ropers or horses.

If you don't have the money or the space for a full roping dummy, there's always the option of just buying a head that's mounted on steel spikes that can be stuck in to a hay bale. Most are molded, high impact plastic, like the calf head on the right. Our steer head is slightly more authentic, although a tad lopsided since the bulls got into the indoor arena and stomped around.

Not all dummies are for roping. Some are for tying:

So, with all those options, it's only natural that people ask what I rope when I'm fine tuning my loop. And the answer is...none of the above. I prefer to rope the plain old hay bale.

Addendum: Since posting this blog I've had several inquiries about the white Calf Tracker dummy in the middle picture. We've had it since I was in high school so I had no idea where it came from, but when I said so to my husband he not only knew, he'd met and chatted with Don Parsons, the man who makes them. Don is from Walla Walla, WA, I don't have a number or address but I did find a great newspaper article about his business:  http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19920308&slug=1479808

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Room and Board

William was a cowboy, a horse trainer, a farrier when necessary to make ends meet. Mostly, though, he was a hustler. He hustled games of pool and always managed to be at the bar when a generous soul ordered up a round of drinks for the house. He hustled a free cup of coffee from the waitress at the sale barn café. A free meal from the old lady down the road who didn't mind trading a plate of beef stew and a slice of apple pie for the company of a good looking, charming young man.

William even hustled a free bed when his buddy John was out of town.

John was out of town a lot. A big bruiser of a man, he could wrestle a steer with the best of them. He'd hit the professional rodeo circuit hard beginning in January, and spent most of the year traveling the country from show to show. Folks figured he was sure to capture the world championship before he was done. John's wife stayed home to care for their small herd of cattle and horses. Back in those days, even the top hands barely won enough to keep the car full of gas and their belly full of beans. Her job at the court house kept the bills paid more often than not.

William kept John's side of the bed warm.

It got to be a regular routine. John's horse trailer would barely disappear over the hill before William's dusty old Ford would rattle down the driveway. People in town couldn't help but notice, but nobody wanted to be the one to tell big John what was going on. Still, it was only a matter of time before word got out.

One day, early in the fall, it finally happened. William was sitting in the sale barn café, reading the newspaper he'd borrowed from old man Johnson and sipping the coffee he'd persuaded the waitress to 'warm up' one more time. The door swung open and there stood John, hands on hips. Everyone held their breath and prepared to get the heck out of the way as he headed straight to William's table.

"We need to talk," John declared.

William scooted his chair back and stood, debating his chances of getting to the exit in one piece. "Uh, sure John. Whatcha want to talk about?"

"This." John slapped one big hand flat on William's chest with enough force to knock him back a step. The piece of paper John had held fluttered to the floor.

William squinted down at it. "What's that?"

"A bill. I figure if you're gonna spend more time at my house than I do, you should at least chip in a third of the rent."

And with that, John turned around and strode out of the café.

Dear readers: this story is what we call a 'fictionalized account' of something that did actually happen, except maybe not exactly like this and maybe a name or two was changed 'cuz there are a few people like my dad who might recognize this story and these people. Plus it's easier to just make things up.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Too Lazy to Write

...so you get pictures instead. Tonight, though, I should have plenty of time to whip up a blog post, since the trip to town for work this morning was not so much fun with six inches of new snow. If the wind comes up as predicted (and of all the things the weatherman gets wrong, wind never seems to be one of them) I will not be going home tonight.

In the meantime, you can step out of the house and take your pick of vehicles, depending on just how deep the snow gets:


Once you decide what to drive, it's time to commute to work:

Or, you can take the express lane:

Monday, January 04, 2010

Better Late Than Never

This was supposed to be my New Year's Day post, but it was delayed by an unexpected internet access problem and the kind of gorgeous, sunny days you just have to take advantage of in January in northern Montana.

Generally, I like to read things that make me laugh, but once in awhile I run across something that forces me to stop and think. Suzanne Hayze does that to me a lot. Her blog posts make me sad, they make me uncomfortable, sometimes they even make me kind of angry. But they always make me come back for more, because the writing is so beautiful and so poignant, I can't stay away. As we embark upon this brand new decade, I hope I will never take the wonder in my life for granted. And that my child's life will always have stories...and glitter.

Absence of Wonder

And on those days when the news on the radio and the television is full of the worst of humankind and the horrible things we do to each other, I check in with Lost in the Feed, who reminds me that by keeping our eyes open we can find opportunities to make the world better one person at a time:

An opportunity lost, or #fail, and yet...

If that doesn't isn't enough to turn my day around, I head over to visit Carol in Ten Sleep, WY. 'Cuz if you can look at this and not smile, you're in pretty bad shape:

Rimrock English Shepherds

Here's hoping your New Year is full of kindness and wonder and glitter. And puppies.