“But with Montana it is love”

“I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love…” – John Steinbeck.

Here’s some eye candy, dear readers!

This is taken from Reynolds Ranch, which is one mile south of the Canadian border.

A river runs through it, eh? Fishing on the Middle Fork of the Flathead.

The sign beyond this one reads, “Crossing into Canada is prohibited.” The border crossing is closed. Guess they want to keep us scruffy Americans out.

Typical.

Driving down the bumpy North Fork Road toward home at dusk, I passed this still stretch of water.

Dog days

This is what my weekend looked like. Throwing the ball for Haley the puppy in the backyard of the house I was house sitting. Saw some pretty nice autumn sunrises. But then again, the sun doesn’t come up until nearly 8 a.m. these days. Picture trees draped in their fall colors — saffron, gold, orange, deep red — against a stark, clear sky. Just cool enough on morning walks with Haley for a jacket. The lake nearby was still but for the churning feet of ducks not yet flown for the winter.

On an entirely different topic: 25 days ’til the big day!

Is there a table under there?

Shameful, isn’t it? This is my dining room table/office/dumping ground. I live in a very small apartment and I don’t have a desk. I want one badly, but I’d like to find a cheap one and fix it up all pretty. Scanning Craigslist daily has so far proved fruitless. But I’m sure something will turn up!

In the meantime, I need to get this mess wrangled in a big way. I’ve got sewing stuff, magazines, my reporter’s notebook, the city budget (oh, interminable city council meetings), my computer, English Creek by Ivan Doig, my purse, headphones, the most recent contents of the P.O. box and lots of random paperwork. I’m tired of cleaning the table every few days only to have it eventually resort back to this. I need to figure out a filing system for bills and letters. I’ve got a bin for magazines in the corner on the stairs, which I will clean out to make room for more. With a desk, I could do work on my computer and sewing upstairs, where there is more room and I don’t have to worry about lint in my supper.

Any organizational suggestions for small living spaces on a very tight budget?

It’s starting to sink in…

… that I’m getting married in exactly 36 days.

Dropped off my wedding invitations yesterday at InstyPrints in Kalispell. After looking at countless wedding invitation websites and continually being dumbfounded by the prices (I realize that in purchasing the invitations, one is purchasing someone’s design, which they put a lot of effort into, but my little budget just can’t handle that!), I decided to design my own. Part of my job is designing newspapers, after all. Surely I can handle designing invitations.

Here’s the result (which I love!). It’s going to be printed on recycled paper, too:

(The brown border is part of my WordPress skin… it’s not there on the printed version.)

Hmm… maybe I should start designing wedding invitations. Thoughts?

Dance, dance, dance

While I write this, I’m listening to Kevin Volans’ “White Man Sleeps (second movement).” I saw a modern dance performed to the song a few years ago and just loved the dance and the song. I highly recommend you get yourself to Youtube and give “White Man Sleeps” a listen.

“Just dance, gonna be OK… just dance, spin that record babe… just dance.” — the ever fascinating Lady Gaga

I just love this photo, even though it’s not very good. The photo was too dark and took some lightening up. But I think I like it because of what it represents: the unfettered joy of youth. Every day is a celebration, an adventure. We adults should take cues from our children to pursue life as a journey of wonder.

The town I live in just opened a new dance studio. Right now they’re teaching solely ballet, but will expand to include hip hop, modern and jazz.

What struck me about the two women who just opened the dance studio is their passion for teaching anyone to dance.I’m half tempted to join an adult class to see if those ladies could work miracles on my two left feet. I did ballet for three years as a small child and greatly enjoyed it. I love watching professional dancers, in ballet or modern. Their bodies move in such beautiful ways.

“Making mistakes and learning to recover from them — these things apply through life,” one woman said. She spent her high school years at a boarding school in North Carolina dancing from sun up to sun down. She danced professionally for a time because injuring herself and becoming disillusioned by the professional dance world. She was giant in a world of tiny women.

“I was never taught that way. Nobody ever said it was just OK to dance.”

‘What’s your passion?’ she asked.

Every job has its ups and downs. Being the editor of a newspaper can be extremely stressful. I get a nasty phone calls every now and then. We miss deadline sometimes. There is no such thing as 9 to 5. I attend meetings several nights a week. I cover games and events on the weekend.

But then again, I know a lot of people. I don’t have a desk job. I get to hike and boat and call it working. And every now and then, I come across a somebody really special and have the privilege of writing about them. I’m a storyteller. A woman asked me this morning what my passion is. That’s easy. Writing. Shooting photos. So many people have to do what they love on the side. I get to do what I love every day.

Tuesday night I spent a few hours at the home of a little girl named Hanna. Hanna’s dad died of cancer when she was younger. Hanna’s mom is recovering from aggressive breast and uterine cancer (she had a hysterectomy and both breasts removed). When Hanna’s mom had cancer, Hanna nearly failed every class.

So a few months ago, Hanna went to The Event at Rebecca Farm, a horsemanship contest that’s world renowned and right here in the Valley. At The Event, Hanna bought a $2 raffle ticket and entered a drawing to win an Arabian horse. Monday night, Morning View Arabians called to inform Hanna that she won. Tuesday, Centurion Bey, a 3-year-old gelding was delivered to Hanna’s house.

Kittehs

OK, so this is the post in which I wax poetic about my cats. Yes, I’m that sort of person. But hey, if people can go all ga-ga over their dogs, then I can about my cats (which we think were dogs in another life because they come when called,  sniff for scraps on the floor and best of all, FETCH!)

This is my darling girl, Pele (named for the Hawai’ian fire goddess, not the soccer player). She’s a wonderful kitteh. I rescued her from an animal shelter and I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would get rid of her. She’s got such a loving personality. She likes to cuddle in the morning (her not so sneaky way of getting me out of bed to feed her).

And this is Pandora, our little baby. We also rescued her from an animal shelter, this time in Omaha. Shawn and I joke (only we’re semi-serious) that she’s the reason I moved back to Nebraska briefly. Pandora lives up to her name. She’s a bit wacky, but such a lover. She’ll sleep all afternoon on your lap.

OK, crazy cat lady post has ended. See, that wasn’t so bad!

Pull up a seat

Shawn and I spent most of  Sunday re-finishing the remaining three dining room chairs (dining room being a loose term since it’s also the living room, entry-way and office — oh, the trials of tiny apartments!). We sanded down the worn finish, coated them with wood conditioner to bring some moisture back into the brittle wood, primed and painted. One coat of wood conditioner, two coats of primer and two coats of gorgeous aqua paint later, we have four lovely chairs.

The only problem now? The seat cushions (cushion also being a loose term — they’re hard as a board). They looked bad before. They look terrible now. The shiny new paint has brought out every stain. My plan is to find a lovely (floral?) fabric that will match or contrast nicely with the blue color and the rose design. I’m going to buy some foam to add some much-needed padding to the chairs and recover the cushions. When they’re done, I am looking forward to gorgeous dining room chairs.

Oh, and an added bonus? The aqua color looks great against the green wall I painted recently. The landlord patched some places on the walls but did not texture those patches. Then he painted the walls this nasty silly putty (skin?) color, using a fairly shiny paint. The result is that those untextured patches were in stark relief. My design-sense got to tingling every time I looked at that wall, and not in a good way. So I decided to paint the wall the same color as the one I painted in the loft. The paint, “Outback” from Behr, had an eggshell finish, which really downplayed the the untextured areas. The result? A wall that doesn’t make me ill to look at.

Finding forever in a song

I had the good fortune to spend the past weekend in Lincoln, Neb. for a friend’s wedding. When not playing the role of dutiful bridesmaid, I was able to get some last minute wedding plans secured with my fiance, Shawn.

Bright and early Friday morning we sampled wedding cake. The chocolate — I was sure I’d be getting the chocolate — was disappointing and tasted a bit like moist cardboard. The pink champagne flavor induced tooth aches. But the almond flavor was just right.

Flowers have been finalized. Sunflowers, orange solidago, red hypernicum berries and chrysanthemum will provide the splashes of color at our otherwise black-and-white affair.

Image from http://flowersvegfruit.co.uk/

Got the marriage license. Alarm bells didn’t start ringing on the state of Nebraska computer alerting everyone in the building that my fiance and I are cousins — we’re not, but after hearing a horror story to that effect, I admit I was just a teensy bit worried.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the weekend (other than the beautiful wedding Shawn and I attended) lasted just a few minutes in the santuary of the church where we will be married.

Shawn and I walked into St. Paul United Methodist Church in downtown Lincoln and it felt like coming home. It’s a grand old church with beautiful, two-story stained glass windows. It’s the church we attended while living in Lincoln.

The wooden pews sat silently empty, uniformly facing the altar, as if in eternal, crouched worship. The sunlight streamed through the windows to illuminate the sanctuary with gentle light. We spoke quietly, our voices ringing off the stone walls.

We met with John, the man who plays organ at St. Paul. He treated us to a short concert to prepare the music for our wedding. I’d never seen an organ played so close before and I was transfixed.

John’s fingers nimbly leapt from keyboard to keyboard to keyboard. He pulled on knobs and pushed buttons to alter the sound, I think. His feet moved in a neat, practiced jig on the pedals that control the deep-voiced pipes. The former silence was broken by the surge of sound. It swirled about the pews and rose to the ceiling.

Then John played “Claire de Lune” by Claude Debussy on the piano, the song to which the bridal party and yours truly will promenade down the aisle. Many people recognize it as the song that plays while the fountains dance in “Ocean’s Eleven.”

As John played, I let my eyes wander about the church, filled with a moment’s fantasy. I watched the bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle. Then I watched myself walk with my father down the aisle.

My ears filled with song. My heart swelled with this glimpse into forever.