Friday, March 24, 2017

Give Us a Break, ZAGS!

                                                                                                               ---Photos from Twitter

It's pretty difficult to think about anything other than that ZAGS game last night.  

So much energy involved.  So much inner turmoil.  So many time-outs. So many death-defying moments.  So much failure to take a breath!

And, that was just on my couch.  

And, surely on couches around the world.

I've never heard so many medical terms used in conjunction with a ZAGS game----terms referring to the fans and not the players. 

Blood pressure rising off the charts.  

Near heart attacks. 

Fingernails chewed so close to the quick that if we have another game like last night's, some folks are gonna have to start in on their toenails.  If they have the fungus, that could be pretty disgusting. 

Possible severe depression looming for some.

Heck, even Coach Mark Few, after watching the game from the sidelines, got accused in a press conference of having a monkey on his back.  I'm not really sure what kind of disease that is, but surely it's a bad one.

Speculation on this one, but SO many beer overdoses.  

At least one fan reported having to change her panties once the game had ended.

Actually, I felt pretty well-cared for since a doctor friend checked in with me about my blood pressure AFTER the ZAGS won. 

Of course, that was probably after he checked his own to make sure HE was still alive. 

Even my sister texted me.  

"You still with us???" she asked. 

I'm guessing this morning that it was pretty lucky for some fans that Obamacare did NOT get repealed yesterday.
Those folks may have faced some grave consequences if they came within a heartbeat of entering the grave.  

That bad Obama dude loves basketball, so maybe it was his influence that held fast on coverage for at least one more day. 

In one case during last night's game, a couple actually discussed options dealing with both medical decisions and life insurance.  Should we learn CPR, or do we just let nature take its course and file for the life insurance claim?  

Since both are still alive this morning, maybe the CPR lessons got the nod this time over one spouse getting suddenly rich over the demise of the other. 

That was in a household where the parties had a personal stake in both the Gonzaga game with West Virginia and the one-point last minute victory for the Oregon Ducks over Michigan. 

Except for my friend from Palm Springs who got to sit back, smile and enjoy watching her Kansas team trounce Purdue, I'm figuring that pretty much every fan watching a March Madness game last night went through distress unlike no other.

After all, when six whole points separated winners from losers in three games, I'm sure a lot of fingernails suffered the wrath and maybe even a few hanging cuticles.

We ZAGS fans figure we paid our dues and then some last night as we watched one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking ZAGS victories ever.  

And, so on this morning after, in a calm state, I'd like to make a request of the ZAGS.

Tomorrow afternoon, at about 3 p.m. PDT, when you play Xavier for a chance to go to the Final Four, would you please get busy and rack up that 25-point lead by the first commercial break AND then hold on to it????


We fans think we've surely earned one game where we can sit back, relax, leave our fingernails alone and just plain enjoy 40 minutes of pure ZAGness at its very best. 

It would be good medicine for the ZAG Nation and surely it would be good for you too!

We love you, ZAGS, but we also want to live long enough to cheer you on in the Final Four. 


Thursday, March 23, 2017

TBT and U$%^*#@!!!!!

No Spokesman today.  Twould have been nice to see the television schedule for today's resumption of March Madness games.

I have come to believe that, at least in our case, paper deliverers get the most slack and privacy of any job around. In fact, I'm thinking they may receive more protection from owning up to their responsibilities than even the President of the United States.

We have not known the name of a delivery person for some time.  I think it's important for customers to know who is delivering their papers and to be given a phone number where the deliverer could be reached whenever their paper box gets skipped.  

Seems if they had to drive back and put the paper in the box the second time around, they might just take more care next time.

Instead, we get to talk to a menu, and on some occasions a live body eventually comes on saying that they will credit our account and, if we want our paper for today, they will see that it is delivered tomorrow.   


A while back I saw a comment on from someone Twitter stating how taking bathroom breaks can cause them to miss five new things that happened.  

And, that thought did NOT come from the Tweeter-in-Chief. 

So, for us to read tomorrow what happened during several bathroom breaks yesterday is probably gonna be "old" news or by tomorrow, certainly deemed "fake."

And, besides, that television schedule for Thursday's NCAA March Madness games is definitely going to be "so yesterday" on Friday morning, if we should receive our Thursday morning paper AND a Friday paper. 

This has not been a good year in the paper delivery department, for us or for others around the region whom I know---many of them staff members of the very paper that once more did not show up at our house again this morning. 

So, today, as usual, I groused and moaned when I came to the house.  

"This time," I announced to Bill, "if we ever get to talk to a live person and not the menu, I'm gonna tell them that I'll be sending a bill for the gas money and the cost of going to town to buy our morning paper. 

We have gone the gamut in issuing our complaints and have generally done so in a much nicer tone than I use when I first come into the house to announce the "No Paper" news to Bill.  

Several times, after enduring the menu where "options have changed" about three years ago,  I've managed to connect with a live lady in circulation who assures us we'll get credit.  

Of course, when they tell us that and the bill keeps showing up in my mailbox with no changes, I do wonder----especially if I should die before I receive the said credit. 

Bill actually talked to the head man in circulation several weeks ago, and this boss acted totally astounded at the number of times we had not received our paper during that time slot. 

That time, I chastised Bill as he was ending the conversation and spouting off one of his one liners/digs.  "We call it the 'miracle paper,'" he said. "It's a miracle when it comes." 

I knew that Bill had thought about that one for a while and just couldn't wait to launch off with it.  

Anyway, someone from this house will break down and go to town once again to get the paper so we'll know the schedule for today's March Madness.  

Of course, we do already know the most important time for everyone in the ZAG Nation, and that's 4:39 PDT on TBS.

In "old and older" news, the photos today come from ten years ago (the wet pathway and gate) and five years ago in March. Seems Bill and I are like broken records in that we visit the preserves up in the Kootenai Valley about this same time every year.  

In both cases, most of the snow was gone, and on this March 23, we can report significant progress in saying good bye to a lot of snow and a whole lot more water. 

Turns out a huge rock was blocking our culvert in the lane.  We could not see that until yesterday when a majority of ice around the culvert had melted.  When the rock was moved, the water took off.

The lake which has covered the area is now down to a much smaller pond, and the round pen is completely clear of snow this morning. 

Outdoor work around the Lovestead has begun in earnest with dog-log pickup, removal of gravel from where it was plowed with snow to yard edges and some general raking for light cleanup.  In the spring, I am always so relieved to have taken extra time during the fall to clear the yard of leaves.

Anywho, we're making progress with the yard work, and the busy times with outside work begin.  

Of course, it's still not quite "spring" enough for us to quit watching the ZAGS play basketball, so we'll be patient if we don't have to mow lawn for the next two weeks. 

GO, ZAGS!!!  March on to reach the Elite Eight today and Final Four on Saturday! 


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday This and That

Besides, his proud parents and siblings and extended family, we're figuring two of Jacob Laumatia's family members to be especially proud.

Great-Grandma Virginia Tibbs, a talented artist, surely is smiling from above to see the artwork of her great-grandson, a student at Coeur d'Alene Charter School,  who won first place in a contest promoting this year's Arbor Day.  

The best part: next month Jacob's winning entry will be walking around in the form of a sticker with a host of fourth graders from three school districts.

Yup, Virginia Tibbs has to be proud to have another artist in the family, as is Jacob's great-uncle Bill Love, the forester.  Bill appeared quite pleased when I showed him the picture last night. 

Back when we first moved to the Lovestead and when the triplets were pretty young, Bill guided them through planting a seedling here on the place.  Plus, every year for several years, he took them to our God Tree to sign the Lodgepole Log.  

Jacob climbing the Lovestead "God Tree" a while back with one of his sisters. 

Over the years, their signatures improved significantly from the original hen scratching of 2006. Sadly, the tree no longer stands, but I'm sure, as Jacob suggests in his artwork, the memories of that great tree will endure. 

Congratulations, Jacob. Keep up the good work. 

Speaking of good stuff, we signed off on our taxes yesterday.  After three years of annual taxation punches to the gut, the tax folks started us on a plan to pay quarterly.

We were on our way home from the airport last Monday when the tax preparers called my cell phone to tell us our forms were ready to sign. 

As always, I cringed and then asked, "How bad is it?"

Turned out to be a refund, which will simply roll over and help with the next quarterly payment.  

We happily signed our forms, and before walking out the door, I retold my story about receiving a similar call from their office three years ago while we were visiting Ireland.

I answered my cell phone at the time because I couldn't imagine who was calling us from Sandpoint.

Twas the tax office  thousands of miles away, reporting that our forms were ready. 

I asked the bad news.  It WAS bad.  

Still stunned, I caught up to Bill who was walking on a trail some distance away from where I happened to be standing when the call came.

After telling him the news that we would be PAYING A LOT, he asked, "Didya tell them you were standing on a cliff?"

I was, in fact, standing on a hillside overlooking the spectacular Cliffs of Mohr.  

Yesterday after my retelling of the tale, the staff member who generally makes those calls looked about as stunned as I had been the day she gave me the bad tax news. 

"I never really thought about what people are doing when I call them, " she said. 

To which I suggested, "If it's bad, ask them if they're sitting down and make sure they're not standing on a cliff." 

After visiting the tax preparers' office, I spent the greater part of my day tending to water removal, especially in the round pen where, if timing is right, Lily will be when she gives birth.  

Most of the snow is gone from that area, especially after some diligent efforts to stomp on it and then rake it.  Probably looks pretty stupid to be out raking snow, but it does melt a lot faster. 

We still have an abundance of water, and its reflections are about the only pretty thing around the place these days.  

Warm temps and no night freezes the next few days should help get rid of snow and water.

Slowly but surely, we're moving toward the pretty seasons, and as ugly as it's been this year, they're gonna be prettier than usual. 

And, finally, Happy Birthday to my "older" friend Ann who has reached a significant milestone today.  I'll have to quiz her on how it feels cuz I'm not far behind. 

Happy Wednesday. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Outing

One of the annual "things I love about spring" involves playing with water and pretending I'm a hydraulic engineer. There's a certain satisfaction in bashing ice into smaller chunks and using a shovel to reroute standing water toward temporary spillways, allowing it to flow away. 

It's especially satisfying to come back an hour or so later and to see that those efforts have made a difference.

We have the biggest lake ever in the doggie playground, so big, in fact, that yesterday a pair of mallard ducks decided to claim it as their own.  

Since then, the instant any humans or dogs are detected coming down the lane, intense quacking and rapid launch-off begins. 

After hearing about our temporary lake in a phone conversation last night, Annie suggested last night that we get the canoe out and do a little rowing.  Not a bad idea.

At our other place, we enjoyed a few days each spring, taking short canoe trips in a little pond south of the driveway.  I also enjoyed taking peanuts out every day and feeding the ducks.  For one whole season, we had a Mama Duck who would show up from far across the field, along with her babies, as soon as she heard me call out, "Mama Duck . . . Mama Duck." 

We probably won't take the time to partially tame these ducks, and I'm hoping the lake disappears sooner rather than later.  

Yesterday morning it was still partially frozen, which did not turn out so good for Liam when his ball went bouncing off across the thin coat of ice.  I walked down the lane just in time to see Liam fall through the ice into what had to be some cold, cold water.

I think the incident scared him, but it did not deter him from trying to figure out how to get that ball.  Mom helped him out, taking one of pieces of metal pipe we've been using to unclog the culvert.  

I was able to reach far enough with the pipe to send the ball into the water, and it soon floated Liam's way.   

This morning, thanks to above freezing temperatures overnight, the ice is gone from the lake, but we've got more rain coming.  It's looking pretty ugly out my window toward Schweitzer.

At least we had a nice day to start spring.  I took a short drive through Oden farm country and along HWY 200 eventually stopping for a lakeshore walk around the Trestle Creek Recreation area.  

Had the whole place to myself and was feeling pretty good about walking wherever I wished without sinking into snow. 

While walking back to my car, another vehicle pulled into the area.  The driver got out, headed for the back of his pickup, pulled out a backpack and later some fishing poles. 

We enjoyed a brief conversation as he was about to head off to an area along the shoreline, hoping to maybe hook onto a Kamloops.  

Turns out he's a Minnesota transplant and a kayak fisherman. Rocky Olson and his son also produce a monthly podcast on their website called  

I've tried to reach the site but, unfortunately, have not yet been successful. Hoping that will change because they advertise it on Facebook.  If you're interested in outdoor topics, give it a listen. 

Twas fun meeting Rocky.  He went on his way, and I, mine, which included a couple of stops along the Pack River Flats where thousands of duck, geese and swans are noisily enjoying springtime. 

So, it was a nice way to start the new season.  Naturally, like everyone, I'd like to see the precipitation and wintry relapses stop for a while.  But we take what we can get. 

We'll simply March on, like the ZAGS this Thursday, hoping for the best. 

Happy Tuesday. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Welcome, Spring!

It may not be our first pick on ideal conditions for the first day of spring here in North Idaho, but we'll take it. 

The sun is casting pink rays on Schweitzer, geese are honking, robins are singing, and even the CHEEZEburger bird out by the road was crooning away. 

Considering the past week, today looks A-okay, even if we still have a lot of lakes flowing around and beneath big stretches of hard-packed snow. 

Water is still flowing from the dog's playground pasture over the lane and into Pasture No. 2 where it is headed to the southwest toward the fields along Selle Road. 

Bill says it will all eventually reach the Pacific Ocean.  Good riddance for now. 

I'm sure that after we've had three days of sunshine, some civic-minded, responsible soul wishing to rain on everyone's sunny-day parade will start obsessing over possibilities of a drought.  

I'm also sure that a lot of farmers won't mind one bit to see their water-logged fields dry out so they can do some farming. 

We were pretty amazed yesterday to see so many acres of the Kootenai Valley devoid of snow, especially after our last trip up that way a few weeks ago to inspect the heavy snow drop that closed schools for several days, so folks could shovel out. 

Our afternoon drive took us past the area where a mud slide came from a hilltop and covered portions of HWY 95 on the entrance to Bonners Ferry.  We also drove up what Bill calls the Eileen Road, while others call it the Moyie River Road. 

Bill was hoping we could find a spot where we could look down into the river valley and see where several railroad cars loaded with grain derailed in a remote spot last week.  

All we saw of the derailment was heavy equipment and some some salvaged pieces of train cars which had been brought to a crossing.

The snow-capped mountains across the river to the east were pretty though, and every time I left the pickup to take pictures, both spring air and blue skies made me want to stay out of the pickup. 

A lovely old barn along the roadside offered another chance to step outside and breathe that lovely air while snapping a few shots. 

Later, we drove to the National Wildlife Refuge and walked one of the trails along Deep Creek, which has overflowed in several spots, especially around Naples.  Both the Kootenai River and Deep Creek are running pretty dirty these March days. 

Lots of humans flocked to the refuge, which offered an ongoing chorus of bird chatter on the sunny Sunday.  I think most everyone wants to get outside and walk without fear of slipping, sliding or sinking.  The refuge offered great opportunities for just that, since its trails along dikes are mostly bare. 

I know that spring always receives an enthusiastic welcome, but I'm thinking this year's first day will bring forth a little more exhilaration than usual.  We deserve to celebrate!

Happy Monday.  Enjoy Spring!   

Sunday, March 19, 2017

All in a Wet Day

                                                                                                                            ---from Twitter

The Zag Nation is happy this morning.  Please don't tell Jay Williams, the CBS sports commentator who complained because the ZAGS danced with joy in their locker room yesterday after defeating Northwestern's Wildcats to advance to the Sweet 16.  

Apparently, the team needed to show much more stoic sophistication and a whole lot less joy with the win, which happened to be their coach's 500th.  

Apparently, Jay, a highly paid professional sports commentator, hadn't picked up on the fact that Coach Few reached the impressive threshold with yesterday's victory.    

Most of us in the ZAG Nation have come to believe that the ZAGS will never satisfy some of the "callous sophisticates" of college basketball punditry.   If they should advance to the Final Four, the pundits who love to hate and demean the ZAGS at virtually every turn will dredge up something.  

Heck, they may even blame it on President Obama!  He's been up to a lot of naughty things lately. 

These days one cannot be surprised at anything evolving from the mouths or tweets of highly important people. 

Anyway, all us country bumpkins, living in simple, uncomplicated bliss, are pretty darned happy that the ZAGS will move on. 

Good job, ZAGS, and congratulations to Coach Few. 

Part of our joy stems from one of the key reasons we love the ZAGS.  There is still a lot of snow on the ground and, thanks to all the rain in the past two days, the world around us is a mess with flooding, washouts and impending mud.   

So, it may be a week or two before Laurie is ready to declare with a ZAGS March Madness loss or BIG WIN, "Well, spring is here. Time to go outside." 

We're hoping for two weeks on the ZAGS and maybe even sooner on spring deciding to come and hang around for a while. 

Yesterday tested patience and a whole lot of other things around our area as the rain pounded the earth pretty much most of the day.  

It was downright ugly, and I wondered if it was wise to take Lefty down the road to the arena for the afternoon 4-H meeting.  My concerns grew as I stood outside the barn in the pouring rain watching a riderless horse racing down South Center Valley Road toward busy Selle Road. 

A few seconds later, I saw the rider racing after it.  

"Hmmm," I thought while watching the frantic scene, "Hope Lefty behaves."

Well, all worked out, including the precision advance plans for departing with Lefty from the arena in time to get home to watch the ZAGS game.  One of the adults who was helping out even yelled out the time every five minutes, lest I get a late start.  

What I did not know was that the game actually started ten minutes later than scheduled, so Lefty and I could have hung around for a while. 

The trip to the arena was fun as Terra walked alongside carrying the bucket of brushes. We enjoyed a nice visit, and, later in the arena after Lefty had settled down, she had a few moments of holding him.  

After the ZAGS game, Bill and I went for a quick drive to check out some of the newly formed water routes in our neighborhood.  Twas pretty dramatic in some places as we drove alongside a raging river with white-caps overflowing a ditch along Colburn-Culver Road.  

I took a few photos, knowing that anything I took could not match the images up in Boundary County where HWY 95, both north and south of the town had been closed due to mud slides and flooding. 

It was a rough day, for sure, but the resilient folks of North Idaho generally don't allow weather frustrations to get in the way of the important things in life. 

I'm told the 4-H meeting was a success.  Thanks to a variety of basic instruction, a bunch of youngsters are now off to a good start for their 2017 project year.  

No jumping for joy, just in case a commentator is looking, but a good day overall. 

Happy Sunday.  At least today, it's not raining, and maybe that all that water will figure out where it needs to go.   

Lefty's new friend, Terra. 

Two retired teachers who used to sit together at 4-H horse shows, watching the kids and having a good time.  Turns out we may be doing so again.  Plus, we love the ZAGS! 

This beautifully restored arena down the road provided a nice setting for a 4-H horse meeting on a wet, wet day. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Slightly Crazy

It's been a good year for the potted veggie and flower starts, so much so that I'm having to transplant lettuce into larger containers.  

Some years, at this time, I could transplant some cold-weather items outside and have them survive.  Maybe April this year.  

For now, there's substantial progress inside, while that which we fervently  desire outside, like bare ground, is taking its own sweet time. 

But each day we've seen a little progress, so I shall not complain.

Even the robins are clinging to the hope that those little patches of green will grow and that the ground will thaw and that a winter's worth of worms will come to the surface.

I heard my first robin while doing chores before daylight on Thursday.  It singing in the trees on the border between our place and Meserve's. 

I saw my first robin yesterday while taking a walk up the road.  It was perched on a fence post between Johnson's and Meserve's.  

Also, other sightings of the usual March nature have begun to appear:  as the snow slowly melts, opening up those patches of lawn, I'm amazed at how often the dogs left their No. 2 deposits right around the house.  This is surprising because they usually use their playground in the field out west of the barn.  

Anywho, hopes are that most of those logs will deteriorate on their own with all the rain.  
As far as this rainy Saturday is concerned, I'm gonna be doing some precision juggling this afternoon.  It's gotta be very precise for all to work out.  

About two weeks ago, I learned that the first Gold n' Grouse 4-H meeting, where members are to bring their horses to an arena just up the road, was scheduled for Saturday, March 18.  

Since our Lefty is going to be a project this year for one of our neighbors, Terra, he'll be attending this afternoon's meeting. 

All was fine with that plan until I learned Thursday night that the ZAGS play at 2:15 p.m. today, smack dab in the middle of the 4-H meeting, which starts at 1 p.m.

No, we do not have a recorder to record the game, plus I prefer IN THE MOMENT when watching the ZAGS. 

Aware of this dilemma, I thought for a while and then came up with a plan, which later was approved by one of the 4-H leaders. 

Terra will come at noon.  We'll work with Lefty here in the barn until about 12:30.  Then, we'll walk him up the road to the indoor arena where the 4-H meeting will be held.  

I walked the route yesterday and timed it.  Give or take a minute or two, I estimated a need for 20 minutes, going and "hurrying" home. 

Turns out in my discussion with Stacy, the 4-H leader, they're walking some horses from their place, and, for them, it will take about an hour. 

With full understanding of my ZAGS addiction, especially when I said that missing a March Madness game would be like missing a wedding, she said Terra and Lefty could be first on the roster for a run-through of the safety rules being taught today. 

So, at precisely, 1:50, we'll be headed back to the Lovestead, and with luck, Lefty will walk through the barnyard gate at 2-2:10 p.m., Terra's dad will pick her up and I'll be in the living room by 2:15 ready to cheer on the ZAGS.  

All parties concerned, including Terra, have been very understanding. I appreciate that immensely. 

The game should offer the perfect blend for viewers.  Old Cinderella team aka Gonzaga will tip off against New Cinderella Team aka Northwestern.  

Adding some frosting to the cake: the mother of a Northwestern forward Charlie Hall is none other than Julia Lewis-Dreyfus of "Seinfeld" fame.  

And, if my math is right, a win today would notch No. 500 for Mark Few as a head coach. 

I've read that the ZAGS are actually considered the villains today.  That's okay.  This is one time I'll take a villainous win.

March Madness if alive and well here at the Lovestead.  I'm thinking today's scheme to make it to the 4-H meeting and then race home with Lefty for the game pretty much illustrates a classic symptom of this annual disease. 

My dad used to say, "You don't have to be nuts to be a horseman, but it sure helps."  In this case, the same goes with being an unapologetic, full-fledged ZAGS fan. 

GO, ZAGS!  Happy Saturday to all.