Friday, December 02, 2016

Seasonal Silence, Ah!!

I don't know who is more excited---Bill or I.  Both of us had first thoughts this morning about the Subaru.  We can go to Anderson's Autobody and bring it home today after it sat a month in the driveway with its injured headlight and fender.

It will be nice to have the car to drive again.  Immediately after picking it up, I'll go to Tracie Finney's annual Home for the Holidays Christmas Craft Show. 

I have to pick up some items from my friend Kari and will most likely take a tour through the colorful vendorville at the Long Branch.  That's what Tracie has named her venue, which is beyond festive, inside and out.

Should be a fun Friday as we get together for our usual Friday night with family.  

Yesterday's first day of Advent turned out to be fun too, capped off by another big ZAGS win last night. 

I enjoyed a fun visit with Dr. Grace and Susie, our vet and vet technician who came to give Lily another of her series of flu shots.  

Then, it was off to the Bonner County Heritage Museum to purchase a book, recently released by my fellow writing friend Jenny Leo aka Jennifer Lamont Leo.  Quite often, if I don't have time or do not want to take on a writing assignment, I just send 'em to Jenny who is a phenomenal writer and editor. 

Well, earlier this year, she has published You're the Cream in My Coffee, a Roaring Twenties novel, set in Chicago.  It's been a busy year for me, and I'm just now getting a chance to check out her book.  For potential readers, here's a summary:  

In 1928, Chicago rocks to the rhythm of the Jazz Age, and Prohibition is in full swing. Small-town girl Marjorie Corrigan, visiting the city for the first time, has sworn that coffee's the strongest drink that will pass her lips. But her quiet, orderly life turns topsy-turvy when she spots her high school sweetheart--presumed killed in the Great War--alive and well in a train station. Suddenly everything is up for grabs.

Although the stranger insists he's not who she thinks he is, Marjorie becomes obsessed with finding out the truth. To the dismay of her fiancé and family, she moves to the city and takes a job at a department store so she can spy on him. Meanwhile, the glittering world of her roommate, Dot, begins to look awfully enticing--especially when the object of her obsession seems to be part of that world. Is it really so terrible to bob her hair and shorten her skirt? To visit a speakeasy? Just for a cup of coffee, of course.

But what about her scruples? What about the successful young doctor to whom she's engaged, who keeps begging her to come back home where she belongs? And what, exactly, is going on at the store's loading dock so late at night?

Amid a whirlwind of trials and temptations, Marjorie must make a choice. Will the mystery man prove to be the cream in her coffee--the missing ingredient to the life she yearns for? Or will he leave only bitterness in her heart?

Unfortunately, Jenny and I missed each other, as I arrived much earlier than her usual time to volunteer at the museum on Thursday afternoons.  So, I left the book for her to autograph.

My trip, however, did not disappoint.  It's truly amazing what the staff of Olivia, Cameron and Heather, along with volunteers, have done to transform the museum AND I only visited the lobby. 

I'm planning a trip sometime next week with my camera because I've been told that the exhibits are amazing and that the rest of the building has a whole new look.  Three creative ladies are blending their skills and passions to enhance the appearance and the offerings of our local museum.  

I'm looking forward to my camera tour.  Good job, ladies!

After spending a few minutes on the walking path overlooking the Pend Oreille River near Memorial Field and returning home, I decided to start a new routine for Liam----taking him on his own for walks in places other than the Lovestead.

I'm figuring that eliminating the distractions of what other dogs are up to will turn out to be a good experience in his ongoing training and our bond.

So, off we went with Liam wearing the EZ walk collar.  I finally decided on the Trout Creek Wildlife Management area off HWY 200.  When we arrived two other women had taken off down the north trail with half a dozen or so dogs of different sizes and breeds.

With that in mind, Liam and I headed south on a mown trail, eventually coming to the river shore. 

The silence of the area was "deafening," as they say, but peaceful and fulfilling. It's nice to get away from the somewhat disturbing "noise" of our outside world these days.  Plus, it was pretty neat to see Liam's ever-busy nose checking out every scent possible as we moved through the area.

He was a good boy, and it was obvious that he enjoyed himself as much as I did.  

As long as weather allows and some good walking areas remain, I intend to take Liam into some more seasonally silent areas.  Tis good for the soul, especially during these uncertain times. 

Happy Friday. Enjoy the photos. And, do check out Jenny's book at the museum or at a local book store.  

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Temporary Befuddlement (ZAGnuttia) and Throwbacks

It's hardly a throwback to say I'm befuddled as I try to concentrate on writing this post. 

"What could possibly cause befuddlement this early in the morning?" one may ask or not.

Of course, to some, my befuddlement may seem an over-reaction.  To others, however, it's as vital to life in our area as water, wind and food. 

When I read the Spokesman sports section today, looking for the channel featuring tonight's ZAGS-Mississippi Valley State game, the listings said SWX.

Well, the only time we ever get SWX is when our travel trailer TV is in the right zone to get a signal.  Right now, it's receiving no signal cuz it's parked in the storage shed for the winter. 

Learning that we may not have access to the ZAGS game tonight gave me such a jolt I could hardly read the rest of the sports news AND Bill wasn't getting out of the bathroom fast enough for me to ask if we could possibly pull the travel trailer from its winter hybernation spot to see if we could get SWX. 

Even my later latte didn't make me feel any better.  Finally, when Bill came out in hearing distance, I asked longingly if he knew any way that we could get SWX on our living room TV.  At the same time, I was reading the SWX website on my computer screen where the first question was, "Why can't we get SWX on our satellite feed?"

Depressing, to say the least, but now, several paragraphs later, I can report that Bill may have come to the rescue.  Downstairs, with remote in hand, he scanned possible channels that might just sneak SWX into their programming. 

According to his research, SWX is also Channel 687 on DirecTV, and its programming lists the ZAGS game at 6 p.m.  

Befuddlement ended, at least until 6 p.m. when we'd better be watching that game. No travel trailer desperation here.  

Which reminds me of days gone by aka through backs, when my niece Laura and my daughter Annie were observed one time in our living room watching the static on the TV. 
I guess it was satisfying their need to be watching something, albeit the plot somewhat simple. 

I also remember another time when Annie reported watching the movie Free Willie almost daily for two weeks with Laura and Laura's cousin Jeremy when they were visiting Laura who was living in Samoa at the time. 

Annie Love Photo

It was shortly after that 2003 visit that Annie returned to New Zealand and attended the world premiere of "Return of the King" and where Viggo Mortensen blew her a kiss because she held up her "Sandpoint Loves Lord of the Rings sign. 

I was searching for Throwbacks today and ran across my own blog entry in 2004 which noted the event.  Turns out it was 13 years ago today, so I found a rather timely Throwback.  

from a "Slight Detour" post December 2004

My daughter Annie went to New Zealand last year. While there, she made it to Wellington on Dec. 1 to enjoy all the hoopla associated with the world premiere of Return of the King from Lord of the Rings

She had her Sandpoint sign, and when actor Viggo Mortensen spotted it in the crowd and found out she was from Idaho, he blew her a kiss.

You can see a photo of Viggo along with an album of her travels to New Zealand and Australia by visiting

--from Annie's website, which she maintained at the time . . . 


New Zealand - home of Middle Earth

One of the main things that really pushed me to go to New Zealand was after watching the Fellowship of the Ring, I wanted to go check out where they filmed it.  

My advice to anyone who wants to see some great spots in New Zealand:  get the Lord of the Rings location guidebook and check out as many of the spots as you can.  The nice thing about the sites is that they aren't the big tourist spots.  

Although it is weird when you drive forever on a dirt road through a cattle farm far, far away from any civilization and run into other lord of the rings fans checking out the same site.  

Visiting the sites gives you not only appreciation for New Zealand but also the films themselves.  The film locations pictured below are all from the South Island of New Zealand.
As soon as I found out the premiere of the Lord of the Rings would be in Wellington on December 1, I knew I had to be there.  

Luckily some of my friends from school wanted to go as well so we met up for the premiere.  The premiere was cool and all, but not nearly as neat as the New Zealand symphony orchestra, conducted by Howard Shore (who composed all the music for LotR), performing music from all three movies...oh and Viggo Mortensen was there to sing as well.  

Amazingly, the concert wasn't even sold out.  My friends and I caught most of the stars of the film coming in on the red carpet there as well as at the premiere.  

Wellington went all out for the premiere, showing the Two Towers on a screen outside in downtown, having a parade with ringwraiths, elves and orcs as well as having most of the downtown decorated.  The prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, was there to welcome Peter Jackson and all the stars. 

Annie is headed off to Nashville tomorrow where she'll meet some friends.  They'll be attending a Kathy Mattea performance at the Grand Ol' Opry. 

And, she found out last night, after watching the Toronto-Montreal MLS Eastern play-off that she'll be going to Toronto next weekend to support her beloved Seattle Sounders, winners of the Western MLS play-off for the 2016 MLS championship.

Nice to have a world traveler in the family to keep abreast of the important news, as well as a husband who can prevent a ZAGnut meltdown cuz he's well-versed with the TV remote. 

All things are relative, they say.  Pardon the formatting today; seems Blogger is befuddled too, and it won't let me do a fix-it job. 

Happy Thursday.  GO ZAGS!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

West Side Outing

Bill was on a mission yesterday.  He wanted to explore the possibility of using two venues for the outdoor experiential education program at Clark Fork High School. As a member of Trout Unlimited, he has been volunteering for a variety of aspects associated with the program.  

Yesterday's goal was to look over the possibilities with facilities available at the Lions' Club park on Snow Creek and the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, both on the west side of the Kootenai Valley near Bonners Ferry. 

Tough trip to have to take on any day, but someone has to do it. For decades, we have loved spending time up in that area. 

Yesterday turned out to be perfect as the sun was shining and the clouds were not dropping rain. Instead, they were performing as clouds should do every once in a while---just artful and heavenly accessories to the blue background.

When we drove across the valley from Bonners Ferry, eagles were out watching for their meals along the Kootenai River.  We spotted three big birds within half a mile.  One was too shy to pose for the camera, flying off the instant I stepped out of the pickup.

The other two, however, were quite content to continue their victual vigil and to provide some lovely poses as only proud eagles can do.  

At moments like these, I always wish for a longer lens.  

I don't think I've ever taken a trip up that way when the Kootenai River wasn't magnificent.  Any season of the year, its features, both water and shoreline are simply breath-taking.  

Yesterday was no exception.

When we moved on to the Lions' park, which is in a relatively shaded area, the sun remained our friend, casting lovely rays on the water and the moss-covered shoreline of Snow Creek, which was flowing vigorously along its way. 

While Bill walked around with his little camera, photographing the facilities, I walked the Snow Creek shoreline and around the pond, which Bill said was stocked with fish this past year.  

He figures the students can do their fishing activities at Snow Creek and some classroom work at the wildlife refuge , which has an impressive classroom where stuffed wildlife and pelts surround the room and survey the scene from above. 

We enjoyed a nice visit with manager Diana Ellis who was very accommodating in regard to Bill's plans to suggest the site  for a spring activity to the Clark Fork High School staff members. 

Twas, as usual, another great afternoon of driving through and walking through lovely landscapes to take in all the natural phenomena in their late fall magnificence. 

Enjoy the photos.  Happy Wednesday.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Let There Be Light(s)

The Lovestead outdoor Christmas-light display went up yesterday.  Mind you, ours could not hold a candle to the Butler extravaganza down at the other end of South Center Valley Road. 

Now that he's retired from his teaching career, Dan Butler's Christmas light show---which has been adorning his neck of the Selle woods (not to be confused with the family of Woods)---pretty much since after Halloween, has pretty much doubled in size.

We've already enjoyed his thousands of colorful jewels lighting up the darkness a couple of times while driving to ZAGS games/gobble fests at my sisters' house over on Center Valley Road. And, I'm sure we'll love seeing it for the next several weeks. 

Dan's colorful array of lighting winding around his trees and adorning his buildings is truly something to behold, especially out in these parts. 

That said, I'm rather happy with my deck lights, especially because they made it so easy on me yesterday as I put them up.  I guess past years of hard work, involving just where to put the nails has paid off.  

It took all of ten minutes to complete yesterday's job.

Plus, I already had installed that string of little twinkle lights for the Cousins' reunion in early October. 

Anyway, a small but effective dose of Christmas magic outside the window should add a festive touch to each day from now until New Year's Day.

Yesterday turned out to be the holiday "get started" day with several gifts ordered on Cyber Monday and most of my Christmas cards addressed and stamped. 

The baking has not yet begun, but the $$$ needed for ingredients have been spent at the grocery stores.  After Thanksgiving, it's always hard to think about having more fattening food on the premises, but I'm usually pretty careful and disciplined with my cookie baking.

Two or three of each new batch will sit on a plate for free grazing while the rest will go in the freezer. 

Among the other items on yesterday's agenda, which involved taking the car to the body shop and Bill's trouble shooting for our stove which has some problems, we teamed up to back the travel trailer into the storage shed/shop for the winter. 

Its additional length over the R-pod means taking up a lot more space inside the shop, but I found the walk to the barn rather dramatic this morning as a whole lot of outdoor space opened up along the route where the trailer had been parked for a few weeks. 

In other news, two furry buddies just raced upstairs and are vying for my personal attention in a small space right next to my computer.  So far, Foster has dominated the competition.

In adhering to balanced reporting of the good, the bad and the stressful, I must announce that those two furry boys did a bad thing yesterday.

They ran away. 

Feeling sorry for them for having to stay inside so much of late, I told Bill that I would be giving them some extra freedom besides their usual morning pasture play.  They, along with Kiwi, could play with their ball in the yard while I raked a few leftover leaves.

Of late, that ball has served a stress reliever for me, knowing that their focus is pretty fixed on getting it away from the holder or holding on to it so others can't have it. 

Well, I think Foster and Liam had devised a plot.  As the three dogs stayed within a 10-foot radius, taking turns with the ball, Kiwi grabbed it.  She usually holds it for some time before Liam figures out how to distract her and grab it away from the clutches of her teeth.

At the very moment, Kiwi got the ball, Liam suddenly darted off toward the woods with Foster following right behind. 

The experts tell me and I've become a believer that "DOWN" can save a dog's life.  For the past several weeks, after much practice, whenever I have yelled "DOWN" to Liam, he has immediately collapsed to the ground and remained in place. 

Not yesterday!

Once they hit the starting gates, those two were off to the races bounding through the woods, headed west, which is not good. 

I desperately yelled "DOWN" at least half a dozen times, running after them through ankle deep water. They would hear nothing of my rather emphatic suggestion.

Soon, Bill came outside as I moved on through the woods.  Finally, I yelled to him to get in the car and head down Selle Road.  Then, I moved on through the woods, completely losing sight of them. 

By the time I reached our west boundary, I could see no dogs of ours but could hear loud barking from two sets of neighbor dogs. 

I left our woods and headed down a lane slogging through calf-deep water. The lane, next to our neighbor Wes' place runs north and south to Selle Road.  Calling and looking all around me, I saw no sign of them!

By the time I returned to our woods, tears were flowing along with thoughts of never seeing them again or learning that they had met with a horrible end.  

Walking north along the swale, I through my tears, I suddenly spotted Foster but no Liam. 

Foster was coming from a pretty scary area.  For a minute or two, I was sure Liam had probably gone where no dog from our place should ever go, so I kept walking and crying. 

Reaching the lodgepole pasture, I saw something black and white, looking back at me, a most beautiful sight.  

Liam had stopped and was waiting in precisely the spot where I had found him once before on an unauthorized freedom run. 

I wanted to hug him but maintained a neutral demeanor as I grabbed his leash and we walked back through the woods where Foster had met up with Bill. 

It was a horrible 15 minutes that turned out okay, but we now know that we cannot trust those two when they're off leash and in the yard together.  

I hate the reality of the situation, but we'll keep adjusting to keep them safe.  This morning I'm just thankful to have them back so they can keep coming upstairs to my computer and compete for attention. 

Who said having dogs was ever easy?  Still, it's a relationship that goes along with another word I've used before in regard to these two renegade pups----priceless. 

Happy Tuesday. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Weekend Moments

Cyber Monday has come.  Black Friday is history.  Actually, the only thing I know about Black Friday is that I did not participate. 

Bill did.  He bought a new chainsaw on sale and with help from all the gift certificates he's been packing around for a while. 

We had one very beautiful day in between all the rainy days of the past week, and, by golly, everyone took advantage of it. 

Dogs played.  Sisters hiked, along with some dogs. After finishing his white pine blister rust presentation to a pretty decent crowd as Community Hall, Bill went fishing and caught himself a photo-worthy brook trout. 

Doesn't take much in North Idaho after weeks of rain to get folks out of the house, and thankfully we took advantage cuz yesterday the rains returned.
We all are very thankful that all that moisture was not snow down in the valley, or we'd still be digging out.  Plus, it looks like the mountains got enough. 

At least, the ZAGS took care of part of yesterday's gloom by keeping us on the edge of our seats throughout the second half as Iowa State put on an incredible comeback,  but at the final buzzer, the ZAGS had won the tournament championship and earning a 6-0 record.
Love those ZAGS; not so exciting about the Seahawks yesterday but very exciting for all the soccer fans in the family to know that the Seattle Sounders will play for the Major League Soccer title after a key win yesterday in Colorado. 

In other news, Foster turned 5 yesterday.  Now, when people ask me how old the puppy is, I can say 5 followed by an emphatic "YEARS."  

Speaking of puppies, I saw in this morning's Spokesman-Review classifieds that a female relative of Liam's is for sale (with an email contact address).  

So, if you want a beautiful, lovable dog, you can fork over $600. Be sure to add in the potential residual expenses for the first year.

Those folks who started Liam out do a really nice job with their puppies in general.  I did learn later that the registration aspect is the Continental Kennel Club rather than AKC, but in our case, that's okay.  

When you have beauty, brains, talent, a whole lotta love, and you aren't planning to participate in the National Dog Show, registration certificates generally get put away in a box and maybe discovered ten years later. 

I hope, if you didn't catch the blog postings over the past four days, that you'll check yesterday's edition.  It features a guest commentary about a child leaving Cuba after Fidel Castro assumed his dictatorship.  I really appreciate my friend Jorge's willingness to share his experience. 

In other news, after one month of sitting in the driveway with a fender and headlight about to fall off, the Subaru finally goes to the body shop today.  If all goes well, we'll have it back by week's end. 

I'll be happy to have it back, even though I don't mind driving the white work truck with its Sirius radio. 

It's Monday, they say we're due of a couple of days of drying out and colder weather.  I'll take it.  

Lots to do to get started with the Christmas craziness, so I won't leave this computer just yet.  After all, it's Cyber Monday.

Have a great start to your week. Enjoy the photos.