Lunch Creek

Took my own advice and wandered up Lunch Creek a ways and after that up the Piegan Pass trail toward Preston Park with friends a few days ago. Amazing what a hike does for the soul. Hard not to feel stirred with a view like this.

Lunch creek vista

Heavy Runner mountain on the left, Mt. Reynolds on the right.

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Overlooks and flowers

Foys lake overlookWe hiked an overlook trail on Sunday. Usually overlook trails mean steep and up. But this particular trail, while still up, was one of the more gentle overlook trails I’ve done. As always though, overlook trails mean nice views!

Plus my baby boy gave me a flower, a sticky aster (one of my favorites), and my lovely love tucked another sweetly into the brim of my hat. Sometimes my heart is full to bursting.

Boys and flower

 

Row row row your boat

Last week the three of us went down to beautiful Flathead Lake for a little boat ride in a two-person inflatable boat we borrowed from a friend. We paddled around an island in Somers Bay and went back to shore because the Peanut was not diggin’ the boat ride, but can we blame him? He’d never been in a boat on water before and the only way to get over new or scary things is to do them again!

Boys on the lakeThis is the only photo of a happy Peanut… things quickly descended from there. But we still had fun, even though the boat ride was brief. It was a beautiful day and we haven’t done something like that in a while.

While we were rowing back to shore, we noticed a bald eagle in a tree above us and I snapped a bunch of photos. Here are the best two.

Eagle

 

Eagle hi therePretty cool to live in a place where seeing a bald eagle is commonplace!

 

 

18 months

And here, before we know it, I have an 18-month-old. When did that happen?

K and j in the grass

My dear sweet little boy, every day you are a wonder to me. You have the greatest smile, and you flash it at everyone, those blue eyes sparkling. That being said, you’re a bit shy when you meet new people. Your favorite thing to do right now is practice walking. You’re not walking on your own yet, but I swear you’re only days away from it. You want to keep holding my hands while walking even though you don’t need to, and I hope with all my heart you have that tendency until you’re 18 years old (or your entire life, that’s ok too). You think chasing the kitties around the house is great fun, and you’re most ticklish under your armpits. You love fruit of any kind, especially grapes and blueberries.

Cutest legs

You are developing a sense of humor, and you’re also getting good at pushing your parents’ buttons! You are quiet in public, and very bubbly and talkative at home. You can say “mom,” “dad,” “ball,” “dog,” and “all done.” You love our strolls around the neighborhood (and soon you’ll be doing the walking yourself!). You also love hikes in the backpack, and you love looking around at the trees as we walk the trails. All your friends are girls right now since that’s what everyone else seems to be having, but that just means you’re already a ladies man. You like to climb the stairs to the slide at the playground yourself, and already you like going down the slide by yourself. You’re tall, almost half as tall as I am. You’re cautious. You love hugs and cuddling up (and turning the pages) when we read books before bed. I love you my darling boy, so very very much.

 

Lake hikes and beargrass in bloom

This afternoon we went on a quick hike to Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park. It’s one of the easiest (and thus most heavily traveled) hikes in the park, but the lake payoff at the end is worth the hike. It also winds alongside Avalanche Creek nearly the entire way, so the sound of the rushing water in the dim of the mossy forest is a treat no matter how many times you hike it (and I think I’m closing in on a dozen times). It’s a good thing it’s a gentle hike too, because both Big Country and I were pretty tired at the end… but considering we’re both getting over one heck of a nasty virus, I think we get a bye for being wussies on this hike. Felt good to “sweat the sick out” as we called it, though. Big Country packed Peanut in, and I packed him out. And to tell the truth, carrying 35 pounds of child/backpack on your back makes an easy hike a solid workout.

Fam at avalanche lakeThere are waterfalls running down the bowl into the lake in at least three different places, and even across the length of the lake the din of the tumbling water is a constant presence. While we were hiking it was cloudy and humid, but the clouds cleared a bit while we were at the lake.

There were two chipmunks there that have been completely habituated to people because moronic tourists feed them, so they were climbing all over the rocks we were sitting on, and even climbed on us a bit. Ran over our shoes a few times and once one chipmunk was so bold as to climb up on my leg. Cute, but creepy too; I’d prefer not to get rabies, thanks. Peanut thought it was the funniest thing, of course. When I was very little I called chipmunks “dirt mice” and perhaps we will continue that tradition with Peanut.

There was a beautiful Steller’s Jay flying around the lakeshore while we were there, too, and Big Country got a nice photo of it perched on a beached log.

Steller's jayWe typically only hike to Avalanche Lake once a year, or not even that often, because it’s overrun with people, being one of the most popular hikes in the park, and today we saw a whole lot of people. But we enjoyed the hike anyway, and started keeping a tally of the number of people who commented on Peanut’s backpack being the way to hike, as opposed to using one’s legs.

Beargrass 1

On the drive to the lake and back, of course, there were thousands of beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) blooms in their ghostly glory to be seen through the pine trees. Beargrass bloom in 5- to 7-year cycles, and in clusters. This year is already a great beargrass year; I saw more beargrass today than I have since I first moved to Montana in 2009 (which was also a great beargrass year). And in doing a little beargrass research, I discovered that beargrass is in important part of the fire ecology in alpine regions; the rhizome roots of beargrass aren’t killed by the fire, which allows the plant to bloom again after fire sweeps the area, clearing dead foliage. Beargrass is a lovely plant (don’t pick the blooms! the plant won’t ever bloom again if you do!), and I love seeing the milky flowers contrasting against the dark trunks of the trees.

Beargrass 2

Happenings

As I write this I’m sitting at the desk we set up in our bedroom recently. My mom brought me all of my childhood furniture (which was her childhood furniture), and since it is much better quality than what Big Country and I had, we’ve switched out all of our clothes and we’re using the dresser (yes, we’re sharing a dresser… is that weird?) instead of the two smaller dressers we had before. We went through our clothes again last week and yet again we’ve got four trash bags full of clothes to donate. We’re really on a live simply and with less stuff kick. We’ve gone through our bedroom and the guest bedroom closet (which was full to bursting with stuff), and I am greatly enjoying being this pared down in those spaces.

We would have gotten further with the paring down except we’ve all three been absolutely slain by a stomach virus this past week. Peanut picked it up at daycare (his first time throwing up ever, which apparently is a very traumatizing experience, poor kid), I followed suit, and now poor husband has it. I haven’t felt that sick in years and I’m glad it’s over. I was completely useless yesterday, sleeping for most of it and barely moving from the bed/couch. We’ve all been so sick we didn’t even open the brewery today because it just wasn’t worth it. But enough about being horribly ill.

It’s a little strange being surrounded by my childhood furniture again, like going back in time in a way, but comforting too. I’m planning to sand it down and re-stain it at some point in the future because I don’t like the color of the stain and never really have, and I’ll update the pulls. They’re very old-fashioned and show their age. But I’ll probably hang on to them because who knows, they might come back in vogue before we know it. I’ll take pictures of the furniture soon and post the “before” photos. I am going to stain the furniture, not paint it, because I think some furniture just shouldn’t be painted, and because this furniture will in a few years become Peanut’s, once he’s big enough to need a dresser, desk, and twin bed. I suppose Big Country and I will need to get an actual nice dresser for ourselves at that point.

It’s nice to have the desk because it’s going to be my special writing space. If I’m going to be a writer, I need to actually write every now and then, wouldn’t you say? The only way those novels in progress are going to get finished is if I set aside time nearly every day to just write! How did Ernest Hemingway put it? Writing isn’t very hard, one just has to sit down at the typewriter and bleed… or something like that.

Here’s a picture of the view from my writing desk (houses below the trees edited out):

TeakettleNot a bad view at all! It’s especially beautiful with the sunset light like in this photo.

CottonwoodsThe past week we’ve been having a cotton snow storm every day, with little cotton snowdrifts gathering on the edges of the lawn, caused by the large old cottonwoods surrounding our house. It’s actually been a comfort, staring out the window at the trees and watching the cotton drift lazily by, as I’ve drifted in and out of sickness stupor.

HoneysuckleI’ll leave you with a picture of a honeysuckle bloom that’s coming along quite nicely in the front yard. Look for a couple more posts this week about garden progress and hops!

 

 

 

Good work

PeonyIt’s been raining all day today and the world outside is damp and growing dark. Inside, though, I’ve got these beautiful peonies to keep me company, in their awesome turquoise vase (which is actually a vintage Fiestaware pitcher that I found at a local antique store). It’s been a treat to watch these flowers unfold, and an added bonus to smell their delightful perfume as I walk past them.

Crochet buntingHave big plans for these little dudes. These crochet bunting flags, made using Lucy’s pattern, are going to be part of my first ever yarn bombing! Details to come, folks!

Spring saladWe enjoyed this lovely salad tonight for dinner, along with some Algerian flatbread Big Country made. It was delicious, but was made precious considering the salad’s source. In the summer I volunteer on a local farm every week, pulling weeds, helping build dirt beds, weeding the asparagus, whatever needs done. In exchange the farmers give me produce. And they are VERY generous in their giving. I really think I’m getting the better end of the deal. Anyway, this week I came home with a giant bag of mixed greens, four or five different herbs in bundles, a bundle of Johnny Jump Ups, chives, rhubarb, and green garlic. Tonight’s salad was garnished with chive blossoms and Johnny Jump Ups as you can see, because I just found out they’re edible! The Johnnies don’t taste like anything, but they sure are pretty. The chive blossoms on the other hand are divinely oniony. It makes me feel such contentment and wonder to know that with the exception of the carrots, every bit of that salad came from within 10 miles of my house.

Crochet bitsAnd here’s a photo of the projects I’ve got going right now. The three bunting triangles are done, just lying in wait for the yarn bombing, the two granny squares will be joined by four more and turned into a ball for Jonathan, and you can see the ripple blanket peeking out from under the table. I’ve only got eight more rows and the edging to do before that blanket is finally finished. I have to admit I’ve already cozied up under for a cat nap, though, yarn ball and crochet hook resting on my stomach, the cats resting on my feet. Naps are so much more rewarding when taken beneath the wooly good work of one’s own hands.

 

 

 

 

Garden 2013

It’s amazing how productive you can be when your son wakes you up at 6:30 a.m. We’d planned to spend the morning getting raised beds built for our backyard, and because we were up so early, they were done by 10 a.m. (and we even had pancakes for breakfast for getting our DIY on, too)! We planned to have two plots in the community garden this summer, but realized that even though the community garden is only four blocks away, we just weren’t making the effort to get over there every day and BAM the weeds have taken over our two plots. So instead of stressing about it all summer, I’ve given my plots up so someone on the waiting list who really wants them can have them, and we put in some raised beds in the backyard instead. Much easier to just dash out the door and tend to the plants in the backyard than have to pack up the Peanut, get toys for him, a blanket, etc. to go to the community garden (any other moms notice how getting ready to go anywhere with kids takes about four times as long?).

We decided to put the raised beds around the shed because the shed walls will continue to give off heat from the day even after the sun goes down, and in a place like Montana, we’ll take that season-extending radiant heat for sure.

Shed beforeI bought eight 2×8-foot untreated cedar boards to build the beds (cedar is somewhat rot resistant). We used frame anchors and galvanized nails to put the boards together; the boards we cut in 4-foot and 2-foot lengths to make 2×4-foot beds.

When you lack a sawhorse, improvise.

When you lack a sawhorse, improvise.

Peanut sat on a blanket in the grass playing with toys, newspaper, and tools (got to start those little DIYers young, you know).

Peanut in grass

He also reminded us to do things properly and use the level!

Peanut with level

So by 10 a.m. we had five raised beds (though a friend just surprised us with a bunch more plants — one of the tomatoes he gave us is already 4 feet tall! — so we may need to built another one or two). We put layers of wet newspaper down on top of the grass to kill it (and because newspaper is biodegradable while a lot of weed fabric is not). We filled them with locally made potting soil (organic mix of compost, vermaculite, and perlite) and got to planting seeds!

Raised beds 2I planted two kinds of basil, spinach, red chard, carrots, bush beans, peas, onion sets, and zucchini. We’ll plant tomatoes and garlic tomorrow, and noodle on building a couple more beds or just buying some planters for the other plants.

Raised beds 1After the raised beds were finished, my husband planted to raspberry canes another friend gave us along the fence, where they can keep our neighbor’s lovely lilac bushes company. We still need to mulch them and put some river rocks around the raspberry cane bed, but we’re looking forward to enjoying ripe red berries soon!

Raspberry canesAll in all, a very productive day. I don’t have anywhere near the space I had to garden last year when we lived out in the country (heavy sigh), but on the other hand, I am much more busy this summer with Peanut and the brewery, so I think in the end it’s actually a blessing. We are going to put river rocks around the raised beds as well for decoration (and for when we move… we’re definitely taking our raised beds with us, and since the grass will be dead beneath them, we want to ring the area in stones so it looks like a nice garden bed for whoever lives in this house next).

I am looking forward to enjoying the garden this summer, and am especially excited to involve the Peanut this year. What are you growing your garden? Is it a raised bed garden like mine, or do you have acres at your fingertips?