Summer’s last sigh

We went on a little walk this morning after breakfast on the edge of the Flathead River. It’s a place we walk every now and then. Not really a hike, though we do pick our way over rocks and across sand. It’s more of a place for a stroll, then for standing beside the river to reflect. To think about whatever issues are consuming one’s life right now, or to shove those issues into a compartment in the mind and simply be instead. I always try to think only the big thoughts beside that big river. To listen to the water tumbling over rocks and refuse to allow the petty thoughts do their own tumbling about.

River bendDidn’t succeed in thinking big thoughts today, though. Instead Big Country and I talked over what we are always talking over, our business. Turning over what we’re doing in our heads, trying to do better. Sometimes it all feels like we’re trying to squeeze water out of a stone, blood from a turnip. But we talk about it still, because it’s our livelihood and we’ve got to keep striving, trying, working and working and working to make our business succeed.

But walking by the river helps. It’s where I can let the stress that seems all-consuming lately fall off my shoulder for a few minutes. Where I can listen to the sound of the water on the rocks, watch the play of the sun on the ripples, notice that the tired green leaves on the aspens are fading golden. Autumn. It’s almost here. It’s the last day of August, hurray!

River skyTomorrow we’re headed up the North Fork for huckleberry turnovers and a hike by our most favorite lake, Bowman. I’m going to try again with thinking those big thoughts, which to me really just means opening my brain to all that is happening around me, mapping it with the flashing of my neurons. Listen to the water. Feel the wind. Watch my son marvel at all these new sights and experiences. Forget about the stress and longing and fear waiting for me at home.

BridgeI’m ready for August to be over. I’m ready for summer to end. It’s been a long summer, full of telling other people where the best hikes are instead of hiking them myself. It’s been a summer of hard, hard work. I am not writing this for sympathy. I am merely observing that I feel like those aspen leaves look: tired, faded. But on the other hand, perhaps I’m turning golden too. My favorite season of the year is just around the corner. I’ve got to believe that good things and easier times are coming with it.

Autumn decorating on the cheap

Oh, poor neglected blog, I’m sorry I’ve been absent. Just the usual excuses, as usual. One of my goals this year has been to neglect my blog less, because if I want people to read it, I need to post more often! So I keep telling myself to post more often and then I don’t. My lack of posts recently has been due to the fact that I don’t have much to write about (unless you all find government permitting paperwork absolutely fascinating). I also always try to include photos with my posts because I think posts with photos are more interesting, but perhaps I should loosen my standard a little and include more “just writing” posts here and there. Many of my favorite blogs have frequent “just writing posts.” Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. But enough musing-while-blogging and onto actual blogging.

Anywho, I thought I’d put up a quick post about two easy autumn decorating tips on the cheap. And I mean cheap. FREE actually. I have a hollow glass lamp (from Target … I covet the Pottery Barn ones, but the Target one was much more in my budget when I bought it a few months ago), which is awesome because I can fill it with seasonal decorations. For autumn, I filled the base with red and yellow leaves I picked up from trees in town.

That’s free decorating tips number one. I’m sure you also have lots of trees dropping leaves where you live (well, unless you live in the southern hemisphere or somewhere that palm trees are predominate). Take a stroll down the block and pick up some pretty leaves. You can do as I have done and fill a hollow glass lamp, or put the leaves in a glass hurricane or mason jar. Put the leaves behind glass in a frame. Get creative, but do it on the cheap!

Decorating tip number two is to find some bark from a tree and wrap it around a candle. As you can see, there is birch bark around the candle on my nightstand. I found the birch bark in the forest nearby on a hike. I’ve seen in magazines lately that faux birch candles are pretty popular. But if like me you don’t have $20 to spend on a faux birch candle, you can fake it. If you have woods near where you live, you can easily pick up some fallen bark and wrap it around a candle to the same effect!

Edit: As a friend pointed out, I’m faking a fake candle with something real. LOL?

And now for a nice, long break

It’s finals week this week. Poor husband, he has six finals. Lucky me, I only have one. Here’s a photo from the coffee shop today. Shawn’s studying chemistry while I work on my “finals week project.”

And here’s a close-up of my project:

This is one of those projects I’ve been working on for a while. It got put on the back burner for the past month with school (alas, my autumn-themed project has spilled over into winter). But that it’s winter break, I can resume working on it! I’m planning to make it into a pillow. I post pictures of it when I finish. Speaking of projects, I finished the little birds for the mobile for Baby C’s room, so now all we have to do is glue them to the sticks and hang the mobile. I’ll also post a picture of that soon. I’ve got scads of other projects planned for winter break, though. I want to make a stuffed puppy for the little boy, do some monogramming, make some Christmas presents, etc. Shawn and I moved my sewing desk into our room (wouldn’t fit in kiddo’s room), so I have a nice little workspace I’m putting together. I’m planning to string up an idea line, so once I get that put together I can post some photos. It’s nice to have a little workspace, even if it’s just the island of a desk where my sewing machine resides.

Other Christmas break plans include making a ton of food to freeze to we don’t have to cook for a few weeks after the baby is born, applying for scholarships, writing, and enjoying the last month of “just the two of us” with my husband. I’m also trying to make the apartment a little more festive for Christmas because we’re not getting a tree… just too much hassle this year (And where would we put it? Our apartment is tiny). I already made one Christmas ornament and have plans for others. Never underestimate the power of Christmas music, festive candles and well-placed decorations.

One big year

This was an important weekend for my husband and I. Sunday, we celebrated our first anniversary! It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since we were married, and on the other hand, with all that’s happened in that year, it feels like a lot longer than 365 days!

It’s been a journey, there’s no doubt of that. Here’s just a few things that have happened in the past year:

  • We spent an incredible weekend at the Great Northern Resort in West Glacier. We had a great time getting snowed in and snowshoeing in Glacier National Park.
  • We snowmobiled to the top of Desert Mountain outside Martin City. Incredible view!
  • Great spring break trip to Nebraska (I miss you, you lovely state full of lovely people!)
  • I quit my job at the newspaper and moved so Shawn and I could live together. I also decided to go back to school!
  • I went to England with my dad and sister. Shawn went to a geological engineering conference in Utah.
  • We found out we’re one hit wonders! And not in the singing department. In May we learned I was pregnant. Baby numero uno is due January 23, 2012!
  • We visited friends Kristin and Nate in San Francisco. We also spent time in Monterey and Big Sur.
  • We had a nice visit with Kat and Brandon in Glacier. Yay hiking! Yay Polebridge! Yay friends who actually visit!
  • We had visits from my mom and from Shawn’s parents. Great fun on both counts!
  • We moved… again! That’s something like 13 times in three years. We’re never moving again. (OK, it’s very likely that we will, but not for at least a year and hopefully longer than that!)
  • I went back to college. I’m studying sustainable crop production.
  • We had a fantastic float on the Yellowstone with friends Katie and Martin.

We’re looking forward to Thanksgiving in Denver with my family (including a few family members I haven’t seen in something like five years!) and loads of friends, as well as a baby shower then too (so, so excited!). After that, Shawn and I will spend our first and only Christmas alone together. I don’t care if they’re needless and expensive, we’re getting a Christmas tree! I’ve already started making some ornaments. Sadly, we lack a fireplace/hearth for the gorgeous stockings Shawn’s mother made us, so if anyone has any ideas about where to hang those, I’m all ears! I also need to find a good specialty meats market here where I can buy potato sausage. Swedish Christmas dinner tradition!

It’s also been a difficult year for us. We’re both in school, so finances are tight to say the least. We weren’t planning on having a baby for the next, oh, five years. Shawn spends a total of three hours commuting everyday. My back friggin’ hurts. But you know what? That’s life. And we married each other for better or for worse and we’re getting through it. This is just a phase, a step on the journey. This too shall pass.

In the meantime, we’re getting more excited and prepared for our son everyday. This is what 27 weeks pregnant looks like. At least on me. Some women I’ve talked to say I look tiny. Compared to a friend who is about three weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, I look huge. The baby inside me is very active. I’m convinced he’s going to play soccer (or rock at yoga).

For our anniversary, we had breakfast at a joint in town we’d never tried before and it was fantastic. Shawn was in heaven with his corned beef breakfast (he has to eat it when he can; he loves corned beef and I think it’s just plain nasty), while I enjoyed chicken-fried steak with eggs and buttermilk biscuits. Don’t judge! It’s the first time I’ve had chicken-fried steak in, oh, years, and well, the doctor did tell me to load up on protein. So delicious. We spent some time doing homework (well, anniversary or not, we’ve got tests to study for), but not too much time. In the afternoon, we took a drive to look at the beautiful fall foliage here in southwestern Montana. These photos were taken near the headwaters of the Missouri. Sunday evening we made a steak dinner at home (Shawn’s folks have a similar tradition) and burned the pillar candle that was on the altar at our wedding. Shawn’s grandparents burned their altar pillar candle every anniversary and when Dixie passed away it (after nearly 50 years of marriage) was just a tiny pool of wax. It’s our plan to get down to a tiny pool of wax ourselves!

What a year! Here’s to many, many more!

Seattle = love

Shawn and I went on a “mini moon” this weekend to Seattle. We both fell in love with the city and cannot wait to go back. In fact, we’ve decided we’re going to try to relocate there in the next few years. We had a wonderful time at the Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum (where we saw lots of awesome art and the very well done Picasso exhibit on loan from the Picasso museum in France), watching a Nebraska Huskers game at a Husker bar in Kirkland, chilling with a friend who graciously let us crash in her basement and eating way too much amazing food. The photos can tell this story much better than words.

We saw some very cool art at the Seattle Art Museum.

What a great trip!

To every season, turn, turn, turn

We’re having a gorgeous autumn in Montana. These photos are from nearby Butte. Shawn and I went on a picnic last weekend to a small state park on the Jefferson River. We had a lovely time and enjoyed driving through canyons bursting with color.

Here’s the river, winding its way through the canyon, the railroad tracks at its side.

We’re supposed to have a rough, cold La Nina winter full of snow. I hope autumn decides to stick around a long, long time. It’s just so beautiful! Just about everyone I know claims autumn as their favorite season, and I’m no different. The way the air smells — full of calm, crisp air and burning leaves — and the scads of baked goods involving pumpkin are my favorite parts. Oh! And it’s soup season again. I love soup.

Shawn and I had such a lovely weekend. Living apart is very difficult, especially after living together for nine months. I’m dreading the separation that comes after we get married. We don’t even get a honeymoon until next year, which positively stinks in my book. One thing can be said of our separation: we cherish each other and we don’t take each other for granted! Our picnic was such fun. We also went to a neat specialty foods store near his apartment that is beyond amazing. The wine selection alone is enough to make your had spin. I couldn’t resist and picked up two soup mixes, two bottles of wine, a jar of jam, some natural cleaning solution and some cheese. All will be mightily enjoyed in the weeks to come.

“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!