Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday Morning Mutterings

My friend Hallie from Vermont sent me a private FB request:  I have something for you; what's your mailing address? 

Twas out of the blue, and I must say that Hallie and I have been friends from afar for quite some time. Actually, we've met in person only once.  

That's when she and her University of Vermont professor hubby Thom McEvoy came and spent a night at our farm over on Great Northern Road.

Thom's a well-known author within the national forestry circles, and I met Hallie over the phone several years ago while compiling a story for the Appaloosa Journal about equine writing careers.

Hallie's a freelancer with great knowledge of the horse racing industry.  She's written a few books herself.  

So, it was a natural match for two foresters and two equine writers to spend time together.  Their visit included a trip to the Ross Creek Cedars and a fun dinner on the lake at Hope. 

Anyway, when I got involved with Facebook, it wasn't long before Hallie and I were FB friends. 

Still, I was pretty curious about what the heck Hallie would be sending me.  So, I responded with a thank you and my address.

Time went by, but the past week, a box from Hallie came in the mail.  I opened it and first sniffed and found a lovely bar of mango-flavored soap. 

The second item is pictured above. All kinds of questions swirled in my mind as I wondered if my "dah" brain just wasn't catching the significance of this gift. 

When I mentioned the contents to my sisters, one said, "Maybe the hanky (as Hallie calls it) aka bandanna had a musty smell to it so she sent some soap to make it smell better. 

Seemed plausible, but I had detected no hint of must.

I let the items sit for a day or so and then wrote to Hallie, expressing my appreciation, telling her the soap aroma was lovely and that there MUST be a story behind the hanky/bandanna. 

Hallie wrote back and acknowledged a story but that it needed to be discussed over the phone.  So, again, I waited until the house was quiet and the dogs might not bark. 

We visited about a variety of items in our first one-on-one talk since 2006.

When I asked about the bandanna, that's when I learned that in East Coast terms it might be considered a hanky. 

Hallie told me that she and her sister Hope (the whole family of sisters have names starting with "H") like to go shopping in second-hand stores and other venues where choice items with a history often can be purchased. 

Hope found the hanky somewhere and then told Hallie she didn't know a soul from Montana who would want it.  Hallie figured Idaho was close enough to Montana, so she chirped, "I know someone." 

Someone is Marianne, and Hallie figured Marianne would know the story behind this "collector's item No.2). 

Well, Marianne didn't, and that was disappointing because Hallie and Hope had a $20 bet going on the fact that I would know. 

I'm HOP(E)ing Hope isn't reading this cuz I told Hallie we could cheat so she'd win the bet.  BTW:  the $20 goes to the charity of the winner's choice, so it's a win-win situation, even if we did cheat a little.

I told Hallie I knew someone who might know something.

Yup, my longtime, dear friend Becky who moved to Montana last year and her husband Boots (Reynolds) knew most of the Western cowboy artists, and they often attended events like the one promoted on the hanky. 

So, I sent a hanky photo Becky, and, sure enough, she had the scoop. 

Here's Becky's response:  

Hi, Marianne, 

Boy, seeing this scarf really took me back. Boots and I went to Wolf Point one year for this event and it is something else. It was about the same time, maybe a year or two earlier. Anyway, it is fairly famous in Montana and the rodeo world. 

All the professional saddle bronc riders come and the are matched one against another and then you place your bet on which one you think will win the match. 

I think the winner moves on to the next round against someone else or something like that until there is an over all winner and they get most of the money advertised. 

Very interesting because there are big bucks involved and you can bet in various ways I think, like at a racetrack.

Don't remember all the details, but was lotsa fun and Wolf Point is a reservation town kinda by itself in the northeast corner of Montana. 

Was very hot and pretty drunk out the entire weekend! 

 Not sure what you are referring to in the comment about "collector's item #2". I see that in the lower right hand corner, but I don't see Larry Jordan anywhere. 

We knew Larry Jordan and he was from Wolf Lodge, not Point, Montana and was a saddle bronc rider in the 60's and early 70's. 

He stayed connected to rodeo by being an announcer and involved with the PRCA concerning saddle bronc riding and I think he eventually became the director of that event or something. 

He might have helped to put on Wolf Point and other events and I kinda remember that maybe he was an artist, too. This is about the best I can do since I am trying to remember stuff from WAY BACK in the Dark Ages! 

 How interesting that this ended up back East. Have no idea if it is valuable or not, but could check on ebay.


So, Hallie wins $20.  Now, we all know most of the story, and once more we learn that it's not so much what you know but it's who you know so that you will know something.  

BTW:  the hanky/bandanna will go on my wall here in the computer room with all the other funky stuff from which good stories come. 

In other news, I liked the message in the photo below, which Annie posted from her weekend trip to New Mexico. 

We're at the "passing" stage and waiting for the daisies.  In preparation, I pulled the tarp off from my lawnmowers yesterday and cleaned one up.  

Earlier in the week, I had called Tony, the wizard, who repairs our equipment.  Hadn't heard from him but knew that eventually he'd call and we could set up a time for him to come can get the mowers ready to roll. 

Well, Tony called yesterday, and the news wasn't good.  He broke his upper leg snowmobiling and will be out of commission for nearly three months. I felt bad about the lawnmowers but was devastated for Tony.

He works so hard and does wonderful work, and I know how frustrating this has to be, along with the pain. 

Tony assured me that his helper would get in touch with us, and the job will get done. 

Wishing my friend the best and good healing. 

In the meantime, we'll keep plugging along getting ready for those daisies and pansies and daffodils and green grass. 

Finally, this morning, I've gotta brag about my little CB. He is the BEST.  Yesterday, I led him from the corral to the cement slab at my sisters' barn. 

We're not tying him just yet---just wrap the lead rope around the fence rail.  He probably doesn't even need to by tied because he LOVES his grooming sessions. 

Later, after walking him back and forth from the slab, through the barn and back, I decided to try out a new activity in the little guy's life:  clipping. 

Holding CB with the lead rope, I turned on the clippers, rubbed them along his neck and gently began to clip little hairs near his muzzle. 

Soon, I could have dropped the lead rope because CB seemed to love his first shave as much as he enjoys being groomed. 

As my dad said years ago about another horse we owned, CB, with his calm, quiet and sensible demeanor, is worth his weight in gold. 

Lovin' him more every day. 

And, with that, Happy Monday to all. We're all excited about the ZAGS next big appearance in the Big Dance this Thursday when they take on Florida State at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  

Should be fun. Have a great day.  GO, ZAGS!

Siri nuzzles up to clean-shaven CB. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Road Kill in New Mexico and Sweet Lollipops in La La Land

I do not see my daughter among this carnage.  Could be she was busy notifying Fish and Game or just plain taking pictures for evidence.

I know for sure that Annie's not lying on that highway cuz I don't see flipflops!

This is what serious geocaching does to some folks.  They end up turning into road kill in New Mexico.  

Yup, Fearless/Wandering Annie is at it again.  

Four days after walking for miles and miles among the towers and monuments on the East Coast, she took off with a bunch of colleagues and headed for New Mexico. 

And, yes, the group did some serious geoaching yesterday, looking for treasures out in the middle of nowhere.  

"Out in the middle of nowhere" provided a great venue for this bunch to take on an extreme kind of geocaching where you try to log 400 caches in one day.

I participated in this activity once with Annie, out in the middle of the desert between Palm Springs and Las Vegas.

We stopped pretty much every 50 feet to log caches.

One time Annie and friends did the ET Highway in remote Nevada where they logged caches for 24 hours straight.  

This weekend's activity is probably not quite that extreme, but I'm sure they are doing more crazy stuff other than playing dead in the middle of the highway.

I do know one activity which may have provided a pleasant distraction for the group during the late afternoon-early evening yesterday. 

What the heck could that be?

Of course:  the ZAGS!

Annie told me she was hoping to get adequate cell phone coverage to check in on the game every so often. 

Better yet, she set up her phone in the car and watched out for more New Mexico road kill while watching the ZAGS in another tough March Madness game with Ohio State.   

Meanwhile, in North Idaho, some folks went to St. Patrick's parties at the Presbyterian Church DURING the game. 

Contrary to expected opinions, this was NOT a bad thing.  After all, Mark Few's father is a retired Presbyterian minister, so the loyalty factor probably played a role in helping the ZAGS win.  

I'm sure those lollipops the Rev. Few sucks on during the game also helped.  In fact, I'm thinking of a new strategy to add to the hardware some of us wear around our necks during these games:  in my case, two rosaries and one string of game beads.  

Next week, we need to add lollipop sucking to our game rituals.   We can not only honor the Rev. Few, but we could possibly keep our blood pressure and heart rates under control. 

After all, when you're sucking on a lollipop and fondling beads for 40 minutes ZAG-o-plexy, it could be helpful to your health.  

Yup, that's a pretty good idea.  It would also be really neat to see the entire ZAG cheering section working in unison with the Rev. Few while his son directs the action on the floor.  

As for Marcy Few, I'm thinking maybe her row needs to be doing some pre-game, in-game and post game yoga to help settle her down. 

And, Grandma Few, she's okay.  She may not have the Catholic beads, but it's evident by watching her in the crowd that she's got a direct line with the man upstairs, and when he delivers, she issues the proper thank you's. 

Yup, this March Madness could get really mad as we continue on following the ZAGS to La La Land and revel in how SWEET it is. 

I did read that there might be an extra seat on the team plane because someone noted that Zach Norvell did not accompany the team back to Spokane.

The statement added that he just donned his cape and flew home on his own. 

Kinda neat that Zach and his classmate from Chicago have played the key roles in their teams advancing in the dancing.  

I would be remiss in mentioning the adorable Loyola nun who obviously has God on speaker phone, while the ZAGS have Grandma Few facilitating their efforts with the Boss.  

Lots of fun stuff happening, and more insanity to come as we deal with this ZAGmania at fever pitch.

Whatever works will be just fine as we look toward next week, and if this annual obsessive disease should end in La La Land, 

I'm betting the snow will be gone by then, and we fans from across the globe and even out there among the road kill---employing all our crazy antics---will have had the time of our lives. 

Congratulations, ZAGS!  Keep on dancing.  Rev. Few, keep on licking those lollipops. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sale Day at V Bar X Ranch, Et. Al.

To say that yesterday was filled with sensory, emotional and nostalgic overload would be an understatement.  

The ingredients to this most memorable day included a neighbor's bull sale, a whole lot of folks who have meant a lot to me over the years, a wonderful visit with a former student, dinner with family, old friend sightings, talk of the ZAGS with my ZAG buddy Connie and then the ultimate of "Seabiscuit" moments as the grand finale. 

Let's start with the bull sale.  Years ago, when we raised horned Herefords, my dad would usually consign them to the local bull sale at the Sandpoint Livestock Auction Yards on Kootenai Cutoff Road. 

We'd clean 'em up and then haul them over to the sale yard in February.  Mac McClean of Washington Water Power sometimes cried the auction, and the Cow Belles would always be on hand to serve up a great lunch. 

Folks would gather in the stands, and bulls would go on sale.  Buyers would load them up and take them home.  Prices were not that great but usually adequate. 

In one case, our bull-sale experience went awry.  

That was when my cow Millie's son Billy went on a rampage and escaped from the sale yard.  That had happened after Billy had already put me up against the boards in one of our box stalls when we were trying to groom and tame him for the sale. 

Well, let's just say Billy didn't sell that day cuz he was probably somewhere over in Kootenai on the run. I think they rounded him up a few days later and he ended up selling by the pound.  

I'd hate to have had a Billy steak!

Long story short, those are some of my basic memories of local bull sales. 

So, yesterday when I made the trip two whole miles to our west to the Leonard and Naomi Wood's and family's V BAR X ranch aka Cap Davis's old dairy, I was amazed and downright blown away about how the beef cattle industry has changed since our "good ol' days" with Herefords. 

It's scientific, it's analytical, it's high tech with an auction that's addressing folks in the stands and folks on the Internet. 

Bulls don't have to go on the rampage, like Billy.  They can just stay in a pen, someone can film them and then they show up on two big screen TV's with all their personal data. 

A few things at bull sales have not changed. The main and most important ingredient beside the high quality bulls can be found on tables set up in the barn with coffee, baked goods and a hearty lunch, all orchestrated and prepared by Naomi Wood and her crew. 

When I went in the morning to scope out what was gonna happen, I met a very nice gentleman from Kansas.  Gary Fike had come as field representative of the American Red Angus Assoc. 

We became instant friends, talking colleges and basketball and kids.  Gary's KSU basketball team, victorious in its first round of the Big Dance will be taking on an epic opponent today in the NCAA tournament.  You'll see their photo below----the epic team, that is. 

As I walked out, the concession crew talked me in to taking a couple of mini maple bars with me and reminded me to come back. 

So, in payment for those mouth watering (10 seconds in the microwave), I did return just as lunch was winding down and the sale was about to start. 

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking, and I'm betting that anyone with an ounce of rural blood in their body would have loved being there. 

In fact, that rural bond dominated many conversations during my visit.  One in particular touched me beyond as a teacher.  

Amy Sawyer Peterson enrolled in my graphic arts when she was a student at Sandpoint High.

As an aside, her Grandma Val Sawyer taught my son Willie in fourth grade---Willie now teaches graphic arts at Sandpoint High). 

Well, since high school, Amy has raised a lovely family and has embarked on her passion:  rural and ranch photography.  Amy and I both strolled through the crowd capturing our respective shots for our respective purposes. 

Can't really express how proud I am to have seen the sale catalog, which Amy designed and how thrilled I am to have visited with this kindred soul who appreciates her roots and has found a way to showcase them in magnificent photos. 

Yay, Amy.  I am proud of you!

Both Leonard and Naomi are also former students and close family friends.  To see what they have accomplished as parents of four talented and creative children and especially to see the quality program they have built as a local cattle operation----nothing less than priceless. 

I saw other former students and visited with a host of longtime friends.  Even met a lady who went to school with my sister Laurie and remembered drawing horses for Laurie in grade school.  

Laurie, do ya recognize her in any of the photos. 

Eventually, I had to leave.  Prior to my departure, Amy and I had talked about how photographers have to become noninvasive fixtures within any crowd to get the really classic photos. 

Well, I'm gonna tell you a story about this photographer who kept her camera bundled up as she witnessed what would have been the BEST CANDID PHOTO EVER.

As I walked toward the door of that sale barn with all its historical flavor, I saw a little boy (maybe 3 years old) in front of a metal silo. 

As I stepped closer, the little guy, unaware of anyone's presence pulled down his pants to his knees and let the fountain flow. 

My mouth was literally hanging open as I watched his "natural" style.  Then, I saw his dad, who was standing a few feet away, catch sight of what the little man was doing. 

Dad's mouth came open too.  At that moment, I said to the dad, "You have no idea how much I'd love to take that picture, but-----." 

All in all, the two hours spent interacting with friends, students and sometimes perfect strangers was, in my mind, a blessed event. 

Thanks, Leonard and Naomi and all who coordinated such an event, which, no doubt, was financially successful but more important one that reminds us that hard work, vision, passion and the love for what you're doing makes all the difference. 

I was an extremely proud neighbor, teacher and friend yesterday. 

And, of course, on this Saturday, March 17, 2018 . . . . .

I cannot take credit for the "Seabiscuit" analogy in reference to the photo above. 

My sister texted that comparison to me as we and folks all across this nation watched an epic underdog story for the ages unfold in the NCAA tournament.

We had just returned from dinner.  While still at the restaurant, Barbara noted that after several minutes, the score to the Virginia-UBMC game was 3-2. 

We talked briefly about Virginia's famous defensive strategy. 

Well, it appears that strategy met its match last night when the Retrievers of UMBC (where the heck is that?  It's in Baltimore) had sniffed out a successful offensive strategy for turning the Cavaliers's defensive approach upside down. 

"The little team that could" turned on their energizer bunny engines and went into overdrive to work on Virginia.  

Here a shot, there a shot, every single time a shot!

And, Virginia was shell-shocked for the rest of the game. 

We saw history last night.  We saw another version of Seabiscuit, the little horse that supposedly could not win the big races BUT did. 

And as the classic book by Laura Hillenbrand noted, Seabiscuit came along at a time when a rather downtrodden America needed a hero. 

I definitely see a parallel.  

America needed University of Maryland Baltimore County!  

They answered the call last night. 

Hooray for the underdogs who occasionally remind us that it's about heart and about reaching for the stars. 

The retrievers sniffed and reached, and now they ARE the stars!


Not to be forgotten.  We NEVER forget the ZAGS and on this St. Paddy's Day, may they have the luck of the Irish as they take on Ohio State this afternoon at 4:45 PDT on CBS. 

Just in case they don't get enough of the luck of the Irish, you can bet I'll have my Vatican rosary. 

Happy Saturday.  Happy St. Patrick's Day, and GO, ZAGS!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Meltdowns, Birds, St. Paddy's Rules

Gonzaga March Madness Essential Beads

I had a doctor come to the house yesterday before March Madness began.  Twas about two hours before Gonzaga played its first game in the NCAA Tournament.

We did talk aches and pains, but she left with Lefty's saddle, blanket and bridle. 

Her daughter is Terra who took Lefty in 4-H last year, and she'll be doing so again this year. 

So, there were NO doctors in the house when we sat down to watch the ZAGS take on a tough, tough team from North Carolina.  

The game was actually looking pretty good for the ZAGS in the later first half and as the second half began.  

Then, the tide turned.

Though dressed in my usual ZAGS uniform, I realized I had forgotten to clutch my game/prayer beads.  Sensing we were in for a ride, I went to the wall, pulled them down and just held on for the rest of the half.

It suddenly seemed as if the ZAGS had gone on lockdown and that all cylinders were on high speed for the opposing team.  

Their star Francis Alonzo had come alive, hitting pretty much every lay in or 3-pointer he threw.  In the meantime, the ZAGS couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, not even free throws. 

Then, the ZAGS trailed with just a couple of minutes left. I commented to Bill that I just was not ready for spring.  We had too much snow yet to melt. 

Then, I started thinking about how much I was gonna hate the rest of March Madness if the ZAGS lost.  

I also thought about my friend (in impishness) Kim who's headed to Boise today and who was SO excited that she and her boys would get to watch the ZAGS tomorrow. 

"Poor Kim," I said to Bill.  She's not gonna even want to go if the ZAGS aren't in the tournament anymore.

I could feel my outlook sinking into a deep, deep emotional hole, so deep I wouldn't want to come back out for days. I kinda figured I wasn't alone. 

As I thought about all those depressing scenarios, I made myself say silent "Hail Mary's."  

Then, some unknown voice instructed my brain, "DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!"

So, I did.  

I walked over to the wall and took down the rosary from the Vatican, which hangs on a crucifix.  Annie had given me that rosary a few years ago when she visited the Vatican and actually saw Pope Francis. 

It seemed like the only magic pill left, so I came back to my seat, sat down and clutched all three sets of beads.

Almost instantly, the tide turned.  Good stuff happened for the ZAGS, including a phenomenal and essential basket made by freshman Zach Norvell. 

In short, the ZAGS lived to play another day, Kim will truly enjoy her trip to the Boise tournament games, I lived to look forward to that other day, and snow kept on melting. 

I mentioned the doctor who came to visit at the beginning of today's post.  Coulda used her during that time to monitor my heart beat.  

This morning I learned that another doctor had great concerns for my heart during yesterday's game.  He even sent me a note of concern, wondering if my rate had risen above 200. 

I have no doubt he waited until his own heart rate declined before checking on his virtual patient.  

Long story short, the essentials will be in hand tomorrow when the ZAGS take on Ohio State in the second round of the big DANCE.  

I'm sorry that Francis Alonzo received no help from his namesake during that final 90 seconds yesterday, but I'm not one bit sorry that the beautiful rosary obtained in conjunction with seeing Pope Francis helped seal the deal for the ZAGS and all those folks who still want to experience the very real symptoms of March Madness.  

GO, ZAGS!  Keep on dancing!  


Other March Madness and Meltdown and St. Paddy's News

 Along with the robin, other birds have begun to appear en masse to the feeders and the bushes all over the Lovestead, and it's nice to hear them singing again. 

Bill saw an unknown species on the ground below the bird feeder yesterday morning, and I think I saw it flying away from the same spot later in the afternoon.

We're hoping it will return and hang around long enough that we can figure out just what it is.  Who knows, maybe the bird watchers will have another reason to visit the Lovestead. 

Though March meltdown ain't all that purty, it is proceeding, and the thoughts of spring beauty not being too far off makes it worth the temporary inconvenience.

Needless to say, doggies are getting baths every afternoon before being allowed back into the house. 

Finally, in preparation for tomorrow's big day when everyone turns Irish, I'm sending you to Sarah McLarkey's "Geocaching Junkie" blog. 

Sarah lives in Ireland.  We had the good fortune to meet her last year in Dublin, and I have featured her blog before.

Today she talks about what's true and what's not in Irish traditions related to St. Patrick's Day.  

Enjoy . . . .