August

Oh, August. You are my least favorite month (though you do share that title with February). The only good thing that happens in August is my husband’s birthday, which is today, coincidentally. Happy birthday, lovely love!

But anyway, August. Hot, sweaty August. My garden looks droopy no matter how much water I put on it, and I feel the same way. August is the last real month of summer where I live, and it’s just a hot slog until September, which is glorious and definitely the best month of the year in Montana. Not only is it hot this month, but it’s so dry and the thunderstorms don’t drop any rain, just lightning, which triggers wild fires. And smoke. It actually hasn’t been a bad smoke year (yet) but it sure makes it hazy around here. The light even looks different as a filters through the smoke. Orange light. Which makes it feel hotter to me.

Cliffs

And it’s been a tough month so far, with working all the freakin’ time, trying not to freak out about our bottom line at work (a worry I think most small business owners carry with them like a badge most of the time), counting down the days until September, wondering what new adventure’s on the horizon (can you tell I feel like the days are just creeping by this time of year?).

So it was a big help to me today to read a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers… about living like you’re dying (which we all are).

In the post, by Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm (LOVE her blog), she notes: “To encourage someone along their path might be the most important thing we can do for each another. Everyday we are given thousands of chances to lighten someone else’s load, to create a smile where one didn’t exist a second ago. How could we choose anything else?”

This is something I need to work on… lightening someone else’s load instead of adding to it. I mean, I try to be nice to everyone I meet. But sometimes, at the end of the day when I’ve been working for 10 hours and I just want to go home and eat dinner, I get tired of being nice and I just try to get through… not worrying about how I act might negatively affect people. But isn’t it so much better to be a light in the world? And I especially need to work on this where my family is concerned. It’s so easy to snap at my spouse, so easy to get short with my son. Why? Because they love me and of course they’ll forgive me. But they are the people to whom I should be the most kind… they are the ones whose smiles matter most to me!

Jenna also writes about the “Doacracy” in this country… if you want something, you just have to DO it. Don’t ask for permission, ignore what people are saying behind your back. I have dreams I am working toward, but lately they’ve felt so very far away, so unattainable. Again, I think it’s because it’s August… the interminable month of hot (can you tell I’m a cold-weather person?), but I am trying to step forward with renewed vigor, with verve, to seize what no one is going to hand to me. I am the only one who can make those dreams happen.

“This is a short, painful, confusing and heartbreaking life where most of us only have a few decades to really live the way we want to. So get on that horse, call that realtor, or buy that plane ticket. Stop living like you aren’t dying. It’s going to kill you if you don’t,” Jenna ends her post. Wow. Does that speak to you or what? Get going with your life!

Does anyone else ever get the feeling like you’re doing some weird voodoo mind meld with the rest of the planet? Or at least that specific blogger who wrote just what you needed to read today?

Sometimes life must be about the little victories, like adding just the right amount of cream to one’s coffee. Little victories are especially important in August. But sometimes life needs to have big victories. New opportunities, new friendships, new perspectives. Bring on the big victories, September. I am SO ready.

Lake Koocanusa

WEB 8-4-13 boys at lake koocanusaWe went on a family boondoggle today to Lake Koocanusa, which is west of Eureka. It’s a big lake, with a sweet long-span bridge over it. Big Country is obsessed with bridges (who am I kidding, I think they’re awesome too!). It was nice and cool out on the bridge, and breezy!

Boys at lake koocanusa 3Though sometimes I feel like all I do is chase Peanut around these days now that he’s walking, I also really enjoy that he is. We can walk out on bridges together, for one thing. His increased mobility has certainly opened up more of the world to him, and he likes to explore and see new things. And I’m sure we’ll look back on this photo in fifteen years or so when Peanut is taller than Big Country and have a nice time reminiscing over our little walk out onto the bridge.

Lake koocanusa bridgeWe’re all on a bridge going somewhere, aren’t we? The trick is to enjoy the crossing as much as anticipating what’s on the other side!

 

 

 

Walking all over the place

My dad, step-mom, and brothers are here for a visit this week. Thursday we made the trek over Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park and hiked to Preston Park again, this time with my family. It was a beautiful, sunshine-y day with a nice occasional breeze. This time we saw a ton of wildflowers, including magenta paintbrush. I’ve seen scarlet paintbrush, but never magenta, so it was a real treat to see this variety.

Magenta paintbrush 2I love learning about wildflowers, and if I have a chance someday to go back to school, I’d like to get a degree in plant biology, with a focus on Rocky Mountain wildflowers.

Magenta paintbrush 1

Paintbrush and going to the sun mtnThe above photo doesn’t do justice to the carpet of wildflowers and Going-to-the-Sun mountain behind, but boy, it sure was a beautiful.

S k and j siyeh creekGotta start ’em young, working on instilling that love of hiking. Although Peanut looks less than enthusiastic in this photo (he was distracted by the creek), he loves hiking already. He takes it all in, looking all over at the trees and mountains and flowers. Already he’s content to be in the backpack for two to three hours at a stretch. Though he enjoys little breaks so he can explore since he’s walking now. He’s walking all over the place and we hope that he always will love walking all over the place. Especially up mountains.

Siyeh creekHow blessed we are to live in a place like this, where this view can be an every day event.

 

 

 

 

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.

Garden 2012

I’ve got a lot more going for my garden this year. First of all, it’s not in Butte. And that pretty much sums it up. It’s pretty hard to grow veggies in a place where it’s likely to snow in July. This year’s garden is in a very sunny patch of my backyard. My husband spent a few long afternoons rototilling and such and building me one heckuvan awesome deer fence around it, too.

Before we left for our trip to the Midwest, I planted three strawberry plants, two aronia (also known as chokeberry) bushes, and some flowers in pots and in the garden. Upon our return, there was quite a lot of grass coming up that we had to pull and till under again (a temporary solution, no doubt; I have a feeling I’ll be fighting an ongoing war with the grass). Yesterday afternoon while our son napped we planted.

We planted spinach, romaine, ruby red chard, rainbow chard, carrots, acorn squash, pickling cucumbers, slicing cucumbers, sunflowers, and chives. Outside the garden along the perimeter I scattered wildflower seeds. I also planted flax and black-eyed susans in the garden. I would still like to plant some onions, corn, garlic (this fall), broccoli, tomatoes (either in walls of water or pots on the porch since our growing season here is so brief), and some other things. I’ve planted all the perimeter beds and just have the two interior beds remaining. Amazing how fast the space got taken up! I suppose next year I could make my walkways a little more narrow.

On the right is our compost pile along one third of the wooden fencing we found in the field. The other two thirds of the fence are where I planted snow peas and blue lake beans. The fencing is for trellising. What I’ve planted so far is around the perimeter. The big spot in the middle will be two more beds soon.

A few hours after we finished planting it rained heavily for ten minutes or so, complete with thunder and lightning. I’m glad for the rain, but I hope it wasn’t too much. Wouldn’t want it to flood out my seeds. I enjoyed listening to the heavy rain fall, the thunder rumble, and watching the lightning light up the walls. All this while I was feeding Jonathan before his bedtime. I hope he enjoys a good rainstorm as much as his parents.

The strawberries have their own little corner of the garden. I’m hoping they take over that area and we get lots of strawberries every year. I decided to go with Junebearing strawberries as opposed to everbearing, which was the advice of my master gardener instructor. At least in our area, Junebearing strawberries provide a better crop. The variety I chose is called Sparkle. Maybe next year I’ll plant an everbearing plant just to compare.

I’m a little fuzzy on the aronia details. The bush is supposed to grow to about 6 feet tall. I’m not sure when it will start providing fruit and whether or not I can harvest it this year. I’ll need to do some more research. Aronia berries make fab jam.

I’ll be sure to provide frequent updates on the garden status throughout the summer. In addition to my own garden, I’m planning to work on a local farm (possibly two) some this summer in exchange for veggies. Good training for me, and good food. Excitement!

Get in my belly

This past weekend Shawn and I made a trip to Polebridge because the ever amazing Polebridge Mercantile, owned by the lovely and fabulous Stuart and Flannery, was opening back up for the summer. Hubs and I just had to go get a huckleberry turnover, which was, as always, fantastic.

Here’s a cherry turnover. I bet your mouth is watering.

Yum, yum, yum. Always worth the drive up the bumpy North Fork Road.

And here’s a photo of Stuart, followed by one of Flannery and Jake, the year-round awesome staff/owners of the Merc.

We had a great weekend, complete with fun time at the swell Showcase event thrown by First Best Place in Columbia Falls. It was nice to see friends and get some work done. I’m putting together a brochure for the Bad Rock B&B, followed by one for the Merc later in the summer.

But now it’s off to unpacking (yes, still) and taping the walls to get ready to paint!

The view from Lone Pine

For all you vista gluttons out there:

Shot this photo from Lone Pine State Park above Kalispell. I drove there to cover an event, which I found out when I got there was canceled because of the “possible government shutdown.” But the government didn’t shut down! Oh well, at least the Hubs and I got to walk around on a lovely, sunny day in a nice state park and take in the views. The above is a view of the Swan mountain range, which starts around my town and runs a hundred miles southeast or so. (And in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve cropped out “town” in the bottom of the photo. Remember that nearly 80,000 people live in this “remote” valley, after all.)

Oh, and I need to wish my lovely husband Shawn a happy three years together anniversary today! (Our six months married-iversary is next weekend.)

Whiskey rain, whiskey rain

Saturday night, the Hubs and I went up to our local distillery, Glacier Distilling Company. It’s our friend Nic’s venture and not only do we want to support him, we like drinking good whiskey. And “Glacier Dew,” the distillery’s first whiskey, is just that.

Here’s the whiskey barn in Coram. You can’t miss it!

I wrote a story for my newspaper, which you can read here, a while back before the distillery officially opened for business. Nic and his business partner Danny are going to distill not only white whiskey like Glacier Dew, which is obviously polished off in the above photo, but also bourbon. They’ve got a neat selection sitting in barrels in the back, just waiting to come into maturity. It’s a long wait, but it’s going to be worth it.

Here’s a keg of the North Fork Flood Stage Whiskey. Can’t wait to give it a try.

Here’s Danny (left), working the crowd.

The distillery has a neat collection of old whiskey bottles. Shawn and I are considering donating our brandy bottle to the cause. Our bottle is shaped like a liberty bell because it was made in 1976 and then sat, unopened, on a shelf in my grandparents’ house until this year. Shawn discovered it and my Gramma gave it to him. It’s got a little less brandy in it than when it was bottled because of the angel’s share, but since it’s 35 years old, it’s a smooth, smooth brandy. Evidently that’s how you get such a divine drink: Put it on a shelf and forget about it.

Hubs and I purchased bottle No. 60 of Batch 1A. A keepsake, no doubt!

Chili League (and new holidays)

On Wednesday this past week, us folks in northwest Montana created a new holiday (well, the credit really goes to Hilary at Outside Media): “406 Day.” Wednesday was April 6, so, 4-06. And Montana’s area code is 406, so it’s the new Montana holiday. And to celebrate, we had the Chili League finals.

What’s Chili League you might ask? It’s a bunch of us (upwards of 40 or 50 people) getting together on a Friday to enjoy each others’ company and to put our best chili recipes to the test. In the past few months, we’ve tried probably a dozen different chilis, all fabulous. Some were red chilis, some were green. I think there was even a white chili, too. Some had meat, some were vegetarian (and had squash!). One didn’t have any beans (“true chilis don’t have beans”). Some were fairly simple recipes (like mine – the secret weapon is Indian chili powder) and others took days of experimentation. All chilis were creatively named (ours was dubbed “Afterburn”).

So the winners from each “heat” competed Wednesday.

Buck Fever, Chili Supresa and (well, I’m forgetting the name of the third chili… someone remind me!) went head to head. The competition was fierce. Brows shone with a sheen of sweat (from the competition? from the heat?).

And Buck Fever claimed the victory. A melange of venison, antelope and elk, the bean-less chili took the crown. Its maker, Erik Lorona, is pictured below with his lovely wife Aubrie. He’s holding the Chili League trophy, from which he’s required to eat his chili during next year’s competition.

During the summer, after all, Chili League becomes Barbecue League. Ladies and gents, fire up your grills!

I also made orange rolls for the event. Here’s a before-I-baked-them photo. I like how you can see the little flecks of grated orange peel in the dough. Alas, there’s no “after” photo because folks inhaled them! But I guess that’s a good thing!