Saturday, March 23, 2019

Saturday Slight

We talked about coyotes during our Friday Dinner gathering last night at Sweet Lou's.  

Our friend Nancy told about trio that hangs around her house in Upper Pack River. 

This morning, when I opened the garage door, coyotes were doing their own talking, very loudly. 

In fact, it sounded as if they were right next to the house in the driveway.

At 4:45 a.m. in morning darkness, that's pretty spooky.

Knowing the possibilities if I simply let our three dogs out the door, I put a leash on Foster. 

By the time, I opened the door again, the high-pitched, eerie chorus from the coyotes had ended. 

I still don't know how close they were, but for the first time since I've been walking dogs in the morning, as we headed back to the house from the lane, Liam, with his nose to the dirt, darted straight down the driveway. 

Seemed like the coyotes had traveled all around the place overnight cuz I witnessed intense sniffing throughout the morning outing. 

This is just another sign that spring is here. Along with it, come scents of critters roaming around the place during the night.  

When the deer return for their nightly garden/flower thievery, I'm sure the morning dog walks will be more challenging than ever, and more dogs will likely take their walks on leash. 

Another sign of spring:  breakup. 

Break-up's always different, Bill noted this morning. 

Neither of us can remember a time when part of our driveway has turned to soup. 

It has this year, so badly that I put out a couple of cones yesterday to warn visitors to stay away from a segment along the north side. 

Yesterday afternoon, I tried with the tractor and blade to level out the ruts formed when the hay truck came through, the area needs some serious drying before that will be possible. 

As for our lives being totally immersed in March Madness, yesterday was pretty much the same as the day before. 

We're still surviving bracketology.  All four of our Final Fours are still in the mix.  We did mess up on a few picks yesterday, but not enough to get too discouraged. 

As the games rolled on and trips to the computer to check the brackets continued, curiosity began to rise at our house.  Later, I learned that it had done the same at Helen's house. 

"Who is "Old Hooper?" she asked. 

"I was wondering that too," I responded, "maybe Duane Ward." 

AnyHOO, Old Hooper is pretty dang sharp with his predictions.  Pretty much all day yesterday, he dominated bracketeering in a pool where Helen and I are competing. 

This morning I sent off a note to Willie, asking who Old Hooper is.  I want to know his secret to bracket success.

Today, bracketology will move on, and probably more of us will fall behind, but we ZAGS fans figure ZAGmania supersedes Bracketology any day.

And, on this first Saturday of March Madness, another ZAGS team is in the mix.  ZAG women begin their NCAA play, tipping off against Little Rock today at 12:30 p.m. ESPN-2.  

~~~~Illustration:  Spokesman-Review

With the men facing Baylor at 4:10 p.m, (assistant coach Rem is a former ZAG player and a well-liked Twitter celebrity in his own right), ZAG fans have nearly five hours of ZAG action to enjoy. 

And, if that isn't enough ZAGmania/Skepticism, and you have not seen the latest Jimmy Kimmel comments about what he believes is a fictional college in a fictional place, I'll leave you with his very clever and funny Thursday-night segment. 


Happy Saturday.  

Friday, March 22, 2019

Blah, Blah Blog Season

When you turn into a confirmed couch potato and the majority of your exercise involves going upstairs and downstairs half a dozen times a day to check your bracket success, your life is far from interesting.   

At least to others. 

It's been very interesting to me, but pretty hard to get outside and take pretty pictures in a day dominated by watching basketball on TV. 

That's kinda how the first weekend of March Madness goes for me these days.  

I've fallen and I can't get away from it. 

As with my daughter-in-law Debbie whenever I ask her "What's new?" during this time of year, I can echo her customary "Not much."

Being fully engulfed in March Madness for the participant, however, reaps minute-by-minute news with as many as four college games going at the same time. 

Oh yeah, I forgot the other exercise:  running the remote to flip channels from CBS to 245, 246 or 247 on our DirecTV feed.  

My fingers got some good workouts yesterday. 

Actually, we did do a few things besides going crazy into March Madness.  

I used my phone a couple of times to congratulate first-time bracketeer Helen on how she was doing.

We went to town for couch nibbling supplies and for Bill to get a haircut and to the ATM machine for cash to pay off bracketeering debts (just kidding!)

Besides the usual morning and night chores, I spent some time outside with the strong hay hands, Jeff and Adam, who brought me my last two tons of hay for the winter. 

They managed to back Harvey's hay truck through the driveway and even miss the cracked culvert just before the curve near the barn. 

It's pictured below, as are they.  

I look at that culvert picture and can't help thinking in a Freudian way.  It kinda looks like a face, a pretty grotesque one at that. 

The part between the eyes is flowing water---dirty, flowing water, coming straight from the barnyard and heading into the first pasture. 

At least, I'm assuming that's where it's going cuz there's still at least three feet of snow covering the other end of the culvert. 

Water has started to flow on the ground and not drop from the sky.  That's a good thing cuz when it does decide to drop from the sky again, much of the usual barnyard slop may not happen.

Anyway, as of yesterday, I'm happy every time I do go outside to see water moving, snow melting and a nice supply of hay in the barn.  

That means I can go back inside, quit worrying about the stuff happening outside and get back to the important work of the day:  16 more games, 16 more predictions for the brackets.  

So far, not bad on the brackets.  Of course, I got Gonzaga right and 12 others yesterday on one of my brackets, maybe just 11 on another. 

This year's tourney has four or five "could-go-either-way" matchups, and I slipped a couple of times on some brackets.  BTW:  I filled out seven all together. 

Today, we'll take time out from the tube to go to the dump, pick up some grain and more doggie biscuits and drop by another farm store so Bill can get his fly-fishing movie tickets for tomorrow night at the Panida. 

Talk about luck:  the fly-fishing films begin at 7 while Gonzaga plays around 4.  Bill, along with probably several hundred other  local anglers,  is truly elated about that time sequence.  

You can have it all---sometimes. 

Anyway, fair warning:  if the blog continues to be blah or maybe even not on time over the next several days, please know that I'm consumed with the truly important matters at hand----the remote and the couch and the upstairs computer and, of course, Gonzaga.

It's just that way when you fall into the Madness. 

Happy Friday.


Wonder what the Bracketeer mascot is and if its head falls off in the middle of a performance.

Maybe I'll ask Jimmy Kimmel.  

Hay deliverers Jeff and Adam---thanks, guys. 

This memory popped up on my Facebook this morning. 

My classmate and friend Janet and I got together in between games at the NCAA Tournament in Seattle four years ago. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dancin', Kimmel, ZAGS AND TBT

Idaho Press Tribune  sports reporter Will Love covering an NCAA tournament in Boise. 

Cousins came to Sandpoint, and Bill taught 'em geocaching. 

Longtime family friend Bobbie and her daughter Suzanne.  Bobbie taught me when I was young and I taught Suzanne when I was still young. 

My friend and former student Erica and I teamed up for a writing workshop a few years ago.  Writing and drawing can be done with a variety of perspectives. 

One of my Chicago cousins, Rich, with his daughter. We had visited to celebrate Rich's dad's 90th birthday. 

There's a Spokesman-Review guy here, along with another cousin, Valerie at our once standing Lodgepole Tree.  She's from Chicago but lives with her hubby and two daughters on Bainbridge Island. 

This young man has benefitted and come so far, thanks to the love and perseverance of his mom.

I wrote a story about Cooper a few years ago, and he came to my house to meet the horses.

Delightful and inspiring young man, as is his mom Nikki.

The picture says it all except this was ten years ago when my older brother reached a significant age.  Now, the three of us older siblings have all reached and surpassed that significant age.  Where has time gone?

And, during these times, all I've got to say is it would be nice to see a BIG CHANGE. 

Willie and Annie out geocaching. 

The lady on the left is my blog editor, dear and supportive friend Helen.

Helen is recuperating from a broken ankle, and I think Helen is as excited today as any of us who go a little crazy in March.

She has taken the plunge into bracketology and has entered at least two bracket pools that I know of.

March Madness:   no better way to heal while  waiting for time to pass.

Good luck, Helen. 

Again, the writing workshop a few years ago.  Try writing on your head.  Guaranteed fresh perspective. 

This picture represents a family day that will live in notoriety. 

Note that my mother was at the wheel of the golf cart, taking my cousin Sue for a spin.

Mother had so much fun she asked Sue's sister Patti to join her.

As more than half a dozen cousins watched, Mother took that golf cart past a car belonging to one of the cousins.

Mother's hearing wasn't so good, nor was her peripheral vision.

She didn't see herself denting and scratching the car, but the rest of us did.

Nobody ever had the nerve to tell her what she had done, not even the victim who owned the car.

The golf cart came out unscathed. 

Brother Jim, Bill and I touring Chicago. 

Wonderful visit featuring two classmates, Janis and Gary. 

They roamed the place, got inducted into the Lodgepole Society and joined other classmates for lunch at the Samuels Store.

Lovely visit. 

I have to add a new board to the fence surrounding the new shelter shed which Amos and Trevor built for me a few years ago.

The shed they built is doing fine.

Unlike Mother's incident with the golf cart, nobody saw me ram the tractor loader into the fence, breaking a board.

My friend and neighbor Helen.  Twas the year she was chosen as a Woman of Wisdom for Sandpoint. 

I read last night that Ichiro received enthusiastic cheering while playing in the Seattle Mariners victorious opening day game yesterday in Tokyo.

This photo of the beloved player was taken when Annie and I attended a Mariners game and got to sit fairly close to the action. 

Four years ago, about this time, we Loves were meeting and then gathering at the door to Key Arena to watch the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

We had the good fortune of watching the ZAGS win both their games and move on to Houston.

It was a wonderful experience,  just as this year's NCAA Tournament will surely be.

To many college basketball fans, this day is just like Christmas with all the excitement and expectation associated with favorite teams and, of course THOSE BRACKETS.

Good luck to all.


Thank you, Jimmy Kimmel, for recognizing Gonzaga Greatness, which in your mind, was lurking in the shadows.

Now, you know and have proclaimed what the rest of us have known and appreciated for many years.

The ZAGS are something special.

A teaser:  Debbie and I will be seeing Jimmy Kimmel at an event this weekend, and you can be sure we'll be shouting out, "GO, ZAGS," and we're sure he'll know what we're talking about. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

SPRING!! This I Know. Cuz the Calendar Sez It's So

Well, it may not look exactly like spring here in North Idaho, but we'll take it. 

It's much more common for us total grouches as we impatient endure dreary, wet, cold, miserable weather this time of year.

So, even if the full package is yet to be delivered, that blue sky, warm sunshine, big full moon casting light at night, the gentle breeze blowing melodious chimes, little birds singing, bigger birds returning----those are enough ingredients for us to at least get a taste of spring.

So, here it is, and soon enough a plate filled with raking, mowing, painting, planting, cleaning, hiking, fishing, riding, exploring, weeding, etc. will provide us a plate so full of "things to do," that we'll be yearning for one of those rainy, dreary and cold days. 

Well, maybe!

I'd say this first day of spring in North Idaho is unlike any I remember for a long, long time, if not ever. 

Sixty-three degrees, and I'll be out there finishing off that four-foot canyon I've been digging in the snow, which will allow the dogs a pathway to their woods where they can play. 

While shoveling for the past three days,I can see over there in the woods that the trees have kept the snow level down. 

Therefore, if we can just break through the rest of the four-foot-deep stuff, the doggies will have a nice, clean area, carpeted with pine needles for their day-long play time.

I can't remember ever shoveling that much snow in 63-degree weather so it's another one of those "first's" to mark off the list. 

Yesterday, I finally reached a point where walking down the lane, looking at the mud and water or slipping on the ice while walking toward the garage had gotten to me, even with the sun shining.  

Plus, I felt the need to strike out on my own, just for a couple of hours. 

That's something I normally do quite often as somewhat of a loner, but the opportunity has not presented itself over the past month with Rehab Man, who's set to start driving again in just three days. 

So, I told Bill I needed some time to take off with my camera by myself. Knowing he'd be going to choir practice and a Presbyterian church meeting later in the day, I didn't even feel one tinge of Catholic guilt. 

Those moments of solitude are sometimes precious, sometimes not.  In this case, I enjoyed every minute, stopping by for a quick visit with Debbie, grabbing a cup of coffee at the convenience store and then pointing the car toward the Long Bridge. 

Yesterday's outing took me on the Bottle Bay Loop, which extends from HWY 95 on a winding but tremendously scenic drive past Contest Point, Bottle Bay and back to Sagle Road, which goes back to HWY 95. 

I remembered all the trips we took on that road around ten years ago when Willie and Debbie first moved back to Sandpoint.  

They rented a house from one of the family "outlaws" and enjoyed getting to know the Sagle area and visits with a high school colleague Cheryl who lived just down the road. 

It may have been that long since I've driven the Bottle Bay Loop, and I did notice a whole lot more houses out that way from those earlier times. 

I also noticed an extended stretch of road with beautiful rail fences on both sides and then some rather nice entrances to property, protected by security cameras. 

Bill told me later that the place is for sale.  He thinks you can buy it for the low, low price of $20 million. 

We may just have to wait and see if the price goes down after another North Idaho winter.  After all, these winters tend to "get" to people, especially those of us natives who have endured far too many of them. 

All in all, two hours of driving along the lake, snapping pictures, sipping on coffee seemed to be adequate.  I was ready to get back home, pick up my shovel and keep working at that snow canyon to the south woods. 

Later, Bill had his outing to the church.  This time, he took his crutches for ascension and descension of stairs so he could practice in the choir. 

It was a good stroke of business because over the next few days, logistics with crutches and knee roller will be essential when he climbs back into the driver's seat and takes his solo drive to Moscow. 

It's all progress---melting, shoveling and healing. 

Plus there's just one day left before full-fledged "dancing with brackets."

Ahhh, life is good.  March on! 

Happy Wednesday. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Dirty Dog Days

When you don't want to look at any more snow, mud, ice, mushy dog logs, simply look upward. 

The sky here in North Idaho this week is as pretty as a picture. 

I actually shoveled snow yesterday without wearing a coat. 

It seemed like a crazy thing to do on such a springlike day, but it had a purpose. 

The pathways lead to places where mud has not yet begun to appear.  

Yes, the pathways lead to more snow, and that seems crazy until you think about how dirty and stinky dogs can get during this time of year.

Yes, we have officially entered "Dirty Dog Season."  I'm calling it "official" because Liam had his first dousing with the barnyard water hose last night.

In spite of my path shoveling, Liam did spend enough time in the mud for his tail, tummy hairs and legs to be coated with crud, and it's stinky crud too. 

So, he patiently stands while I spray those areas.  Once done, I say, "Shake, shake, shake," and Liam obliges.  One of these days I'll get smart enough to stand back when I ask him to shake that water off. 

We then pick the dryest, cleanest route to the garage where his next task is to "walk, walk, walk."  

That routine takes place on a series of those doggie mud rugs, advertised by as "dog gone smart runner dirty dog doormats."

The variety I purchased most recently cost me $59 at the local Co-Op Country Store.  

If I wanted to spring for $89 I can purchase a "soggy doggy" version from as opposed to the "ethical pet clean paws mat," which sells for $54. 

At this time of year, knowing that the best of mud is yet to come, I could almost weaken and pay an extra $30 for a couple more mats in the garage. 

We now have three, which have been purchased over the years.

Liam has gotten so well versed at "walk, walk, walk" that I don't even have to use a leash to get him to "walk, walk, walk"  in circles on the rugs. 

After the rug routine, Liam's agility training comes into play as I point at the covered crate next to the couch, which usually has a pile of towels. 

Again, the dog is smart.  Usually, all I have to do is look at the crate and instantly Liam has jumped aboard and happily awaiting his towel off. 

It sounds like a tedious process, but it sure beats the old days when I'd lead him into the bathroom, lure him into the tub, bathe him and then pretty much turn myself upside down to dry him with no fewer than four big towels. 

He was clean, yes, but my old legs hardly survived these sessions.  So, the new routine will do.

As for Foster, he's small enough to stick in the utility room sink for his bath.  Then, I wrap him up like a baby in two big towels, take him to the couch and dry him off.  To say Foster loves this would be an understatement. 

Dirty Dog Days have definitely added to the fun AND work of our transition from winter to spring.  

If we're lucky, they may not last as long as usual because our thaw, so far, is going gradually and is not being helped along by the usual miserable cold rain. 

So, no complaints, and, as long as these brilliant blue skies hang around and the birds continue to return, I can always look away from the yuck stuff. 

Happy Tuesday. 


Monday, March 18, 2019

Gladness and Madness

St. Patrick's Day 2019 was truly an endorphin-loaded day. 

Under a blue sky. enhanced all day long with brilliant sunshine, how could it be any different?

The day was interspersed with jolly good feelings associated with St. Patrick's day (even a Facebook post with a lovely solo featuring "Oh, Danny Boy"  in a castle in Ireland by our Chamber of Commerce executive director Kate McAlister).

Doesn't get any more Irish than that. 

Then let's talk the proud-to-be Irish Kelly's who hang out at Hope. 

Twice this week, Mr. Kelly has left his chatting group and has come over to our pickup to make sure Bill gets up the steps to Old Ice House Pizzeria safely.

A very thoughtful gesture, indeed. 

The Kelly's are nice people who are proud to have a big black lab named Seamus.

Besides all the good cheer of enjoying another pizza feed, this time with Willie, Debbie and Emma, we also seemed to be at the right place at the right time. 

Some other customers were feeding off a gluten-free pound cake topped with strawberries, baked by their friend and restaurant owner Teresa Stevens. 

While cutting into the cake, one of the customers instructed us that we would finish off the cake because they couldn't eat it all. 

So, yes, a nice unplanned but appreciated dessert. 

Yesterday was also a day of good beginnings. 

Terra came for the first time to get started on another year of working with Lefty as a 4-H project. 

Besides the new experience of giving Lefty his worm medicine, she held the other two horses while I gave them theirs.

Beyond that, her first session involved removing enough winter hair for a slight carpet to appear underneath Lefty. 

She'll be coming as often as possible, and maybe just maybe enough snow will melt over this springlike week filled with sunshine that she can work Lefty in the round pen next week. 

It's so satisfying watching Terra who at 13 has gained so much confidence around horses over the past two years. 

And, it's obvious she and Lefty appreciate each other. 

Another beginning to discuss this morning----just in case you haven't heard:  





My friend Helen and hubby Skip will be doing brackets their first time ever.  Helen sent me a note overnight telling me that she had never heard of half the teams in the tournament. 

To which Bill said, "Tell her to look up the teams and see which ones have the prettiest uniforms."  

And, his suggestion could be as logical as any approach.  Was it last year that those of us who watch a lot of basketball blew our brackets and our Final Fours?

That's the fun of March Madness, and for folks like Helen and Bill who have long days of healing from surgery, it's a great way to focus on something besides counting the minutes, hours and days. 

Good times ahead will soon help us forget all the weariness of winter, and that's okay with me. 

Happy Monday.


and if you want to get past the doldrums, go get involved in a bracket pool and join all of us insane folks who just can't get enough of March Madness. 

That's all.