Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Work and Play

I don't know if it's true, but I once heard that the Russian word for work and play are the same word.  I find sometimes that I enjoy work more than some of the things people consider play.  We went to Seattle to pick up a friend's kid for spring break and did some work/play on the way there.  It was WAY more fun than the touristy stuff we did on the way back.

If you click on this picture to enlarge you might see the huge herd of elk scattered along the bottom of the hills here.

Not long after we saw the elk, we saw a bunch of female bighorn sheep.

I wish the leaping sheep hadn't ended up so blurry in this one.  So cool!  They're scruffy in spring, shedding their winter coats.

A friend's cabin burned down last fall, and the forest service marked some trees that needed to come down, so my friend cut them down and I helped with cleanup.  Orion helped with comic relief.  This tree fell where the cabin had been.  It's a big pile of junk now, only the chimney is standing.

Orion balanced well on this rolling log, I think maybe he could have his own circus act.

These were big, heavy rounds.  I couldn't lift a lot of them, just had to roll them off the access road.

These will be moved later.

I got some video of the big trees falling, hoping it would capture the powerful sound of it, but you can't hear it.  Maybe we hear it through our feet when they hit the ground.  It's pretty intense.

Today we went hiking hear home and followed game trails in an area where there are tons of elk and deer, but we didn't find any antlers.  About usual for me.  I enjoy it anyway.  The dogs had a blast.

I found this super cool silvery gnarled stump.  I wish you could see as well as I could how cool the silver sheen of it was.

When I got home I took Scout and Buster to the round pen.  I was thinking having a more mobile horse in with him, who usually pushes him around, might get Buster moving nicely, but Scout would stop in front of him and Buster wouldn't push Scout and then he'd get stressed when I pushed Scout.  I did get a bit of a trot out of him a couple times, and a nice turn, so then he got to stand tied outside while I worked with Scout.

Scout was really quite responsive even though it was a cold, windy day with lots of gunfire nearby.  He walked and trotted slow and extended, turned nicely, stopped, yielded front and hindquarters, and even led by each front foot better than he has before.  He struggles with that, so once he had it I kept that lesson short.  He was wanting to get distracted by the gunfire.  I got his attention back, got it good, and quit.  Then I wrapped a lariat around his butt and under his tail and worked him in both directions while pulling on it to simulate having a rope caught under his tail while leading another animal.  He didn't mind, but he thought it was a pressure he was supposed to give to, so we had to push through that.

Scout's tail is paralyzed so I don't know how much he feels around his tail head - it broke just above his tail.  I worry a bit that he might have weird nerve sensations but after today I'd say it's not a problem.  I've thought about using a crupper or britchen on him but I've been hesitant.  I think if we do this some more it'll be fine, and I can start working on ponying the donkeys without worrying about them getting the rope caught in weird places.

Afterwards I brought Bella and Juniper in to help mow the grass.  They're having a grand time.  

It's funny how quickly happiness, or even mere comfortableness (if that's a word) comes and goes.  It seems to be closely tied to my energy level and how much physical pain I'm in. I'm tired.  A lot, but today has been especially tiring.  That hike was surprisingly painful too, in my hips, legs, and back.  The nerve damage in my back affects my legs a bit but I'm also terribly out of shape and I wonder how much of it might be due to my clogged arteries and heart issues.  I probably worry too much.  I do know though, that the more I do it the better off I'll be.  I need to get out riding more too.  But I don't trust Scout to go out without a partner, at least a hiker, and now that Buster has hurt me I'm not sure about him either.  I do have a Garmin device to call for help but I don't want to get hurt like I did last year.  Breaking my back was nothing compared to ripping my elbow apart.  I could at least mount up and ride back to camp with my broken transverse processes.  I couldn't even lead my donkey with my elbow dislocated.  I need to get health insurance again.  I'm going to put that on my to-do list for tomorrow.

Right now I'm sitting next to a crackling fire out front.  It's cold and breezy but the birds are singing and it's fairly bright out and I have company.  I don't have anything to complain about.  :)


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

 My new garden has been kind of put on a back burner while my tractor sits idle.  I'm not sure what's wrong with it but I think it has something to do with the dead-man switch under the seat.  It thinks when you ask it to move that nobody is in the seat, so it dies.  It's a safety measure but it's annoying when you actually ARE sitting in the seat.  A friend of mine is working on it.  

It seems most of what I have to share are goofy dog photos.  Yesterday I was trying so hard to get things done, but I ended up sleeping a lot.  I have idiopathic hypersomnia and even my amphetamines weren't really working to keep me working for long.  My house is a terrible mess, and it's spilled out into the yard.  I'm trying to put things where they need to be.  Some in the pumphouse, some in the barn, some in the attic.  Some I'm not sure where to put.  

These guys are my good nap buddies.  Orion is my close snuggler.

Winston usually crowds my legs.  He's got his ears on wrong here.  He has cancer, you can see the huge growth.  It's been removed once already and took forever to heal.  I decided not to put him through that again.  He feels fine so far.  When he doesn't feel fine anymore, we'll make the hard decision.

He's always been such a sweet boy.  I've known him since he was 8 weeks old, and rescued him from his abusive owner at 9 months old when the wife called our clinic telling us her husband was going to dump him far out in the mountains.  You'd never know he'd been beaten.  He loves everyone.

I was really, really sick last week.  I wanted to die.  All alone, not much food in the house, I thought about how sweet John was, always bringing me whatever I needed if he was on his way home.  He was often out of town for days but if he could, he was always willing to stop, no matter how long his day was.  Hell, his nearest commute was an hour and a half.  I don't know many people who wouldn't complain if they had to work as hard and long as that man worked.  And now I know his heart was sick and his arteries clogged and he did SO MUCH.  I don't know how he did it.

On Sunday I didn't feel like doing much and the weather was terrible most of the day, so I did some baking and later when it was a littler nicer out, I pruned my conifers. I think it's been probably 12 years since they were planted and they're getting big.  I decided to cut the lower branches so they can grow taller.  25 ponderosa pines, 4 tamaracks (larch), 2 white pines, and a couple of douglas firs.  There are more douglas firs scattered around but they're still very small.  I'd try to plant more periodically, so there are some smaller ponderosas and tamaracks as well.  My favorites are the white pines.

Then the dogs and I took a walk up the creek and they had crazy play time.  Two of these dogs aren't mine (the lab and the little golden one).  Blue is the Aussie.  He wasn't mentioned above because he doesn't like to sleep on the bed.  Silly boy, I think he gets too hot and he has personal space issues.

I just kind of liked the sky in this one.  But can you believe how the walls of the creek get eaten away?  That's why I can't easily get to the other side of my property.  Every year the creek banks change.

Orion had his own private island for quite a while.  I think he really wanted someone to join him though.

Poor blue had a hard time climbing back up the sheer bank. He chooses the stupidest places to jump in.
Orion, on the other hand, was back and forth over the creek I don't know how many times, and he didn't even get wet.  He likes to play around water but not in it.

I did get some gardening done over the weekend.  I had ordered some bare root trees and they came in, so they had to go into the ground.  This is an ambrosia apple, and I got two new cherry trees.  I think I already had two or three cherry trees, a nectarine, and an apricot in this area.  If these trees ever grow I'll have plenty of fruit.  I also transplanted about 20 tiny little plum trees from way up on our hill into this area.  They're doing well.  I'll have a nice plum thicket with the sweetest golden plums that I won't have to hike up the hill to check to see if they're ripe. :)

I struggle...  but there are good moments too.  Each day is different.  Yesterday I was so fed up with my sleep disorder and depression and trying to get over this sickness.  I felt like I had an elephant on my chest.  Then my son came home and helped me fix the gate in the barn, my nephew came over and visited (outside so I don't make him sick) and I talked to both my nieces.  That made it so much better than most days.  My house is still a mess and I still have a lot to do.  And I still have an elephant on my chest.  But I can take my drugs and chip away at it.  A friend is coming over to help, which is helpful but also makes me feel guilty at how little I've accomplished and how much there still is to do, and pressured to be productive.  But maybe that's what it takes to get it done.

Now that the gate into the barn is fixed I can just walk in the the dry, windless area and be with the horses and the donkeys.  Before, I could go out into the pasture easily but getting into the barn was hard.  I think it might help me spend time with them.  I haven't been.  I'm excited about that.

Alright, friend is here, time to get off my butt. :)

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Keeping Moving

I don't hike for exercise.  It's a feast for my senses, a healing for my soul.  I wander, looking at every growing thing, the tiny fungi and flowers, the dead trees, the twisted vines, the poops. 

Tracks here and there, or a rock or fallen branch that seems to be pointing the way.  

I leave the trail to follow a whim.  I stop, backtrack a few steps, tilt my head to hear the pleasing deep notes of a small waterfall.  I might pick a lichen I know I'll use in a tincture.  Or just admire its perfection because I know I won't use it and it took years to grow.

I notice chunks torn loose from a dead tree and I look and find signs that a bear has eaten there.  Teeny tiny ants crawling everywhere.  I wonder how long it takes to make a satisfying meal.  I wonder if a bear wakes up cranky like I do.

I wonder if someone doesn't value the world the way I do, can they value me?  If all they see is one big forest, all the same, while I see so many things - different every day, every hour, every time the light changes - and I'm so enchanted - are we living in the same world?

And I keep moving, finding a new trail with a new corner to look around, and discover it leads me back to the beginning, smiling, sweating despite the cold, with my pockets full of rocks, my happy dogs at my side.  I have to return home to food and warmth and sleep.  But I'm committed to myself again.  I need to stay awake and do the things that keep me awake.  Literally.  I've been sleeping too much.  Lying around, stuck in my own head, with my mean thoughts.

The weather is teasing, slowly getting better.  I've been planning a garden in remembrance of John.  I've bought plants, and planted an oak tree.  Soon I'll get the rest in the ground but the cold wind won't stop now, and I've slept away the good days.  I'm trying.  I tried to get the family together to help but it was like pulling teeth.  I got help with the one tree, and that is all I'll try for.  I think I'm on my own.  Aren't we all?  My kids are mourning, working, I don't know...  My brother in law is sick with cancer.  My nieces and nephew are living their own lives.  It's easier just to cook and visit. My best friends are my best help.  My tractor is acting up and the little tiller doesn't want to break ground.  I can operate a shovel but it hurts my injured elbow.  I like working by hand, it feels right.  But it takes time.  And I'm so tired.  I think too much.

We went camping over the weekend in a place John would have loved.  I had never been there before.  I cried a little, looking at rocks in the creek, thinking how he would have been looking with me.  I thought a bit about his death, and came to terms a little more with it.  I enjoyed the rest of the weekend.  It was beautiful.  

Soon I will have happier things to share.  I have been terribly cranky and I've had a hard time even living with myself lately.  But there have been good things!  I had to buy a new mower so I got a great one!  Zero turn.  It's fun!  I mowed for 2 hours and almost got everything I wanted to mow done.

I put Buster's pack saddle on and we did a tiny bit of ground work.  He wasn't extremely impressed but he's gonna have to get back to work.  We'll hike and do some serious work at home.  My farrier gave me some great ideas.  I like talking about horsemanship with him.  Maybe I'll write about that later and you all can brainstorm with me.

Scout is also going to have to get back to work, although I've never been excited about him.  Maybe with time, with him as my horse, we'll build more of a good working relationship.  I enjoy him, but I don't get out of bed in the morning thinking I want to get him out and do stuff with him.

Today I'm going to lunch with a friend & running some errands, then I have plans with my oldest tomorrow, and hiking with a friend next week.  I'm trying to plan less downtime.  I only work one day a week and I've had the last month off. I can't wait to get back to work.  With all my health issues it's hard to work a long day, but I need the stimulation and I like my job and my co-workers.

Maybe today I'll get my trailer ready to haul (it's pretty messy in the LQ) and take Buster somewhere fun tomorrow.  If so, I'll let you know!

Saturday, March 19, 2022

So Much

It's been so long since I posted, and so much has happened. 

My niece had her first baby in August. "My" first grandbaby. At least it felt that way since my sister is gone.

Huckleberry died in September. It was time, he was in pain. He was my best dog ever, and a strong link with my sister since she helped me pick him out and she named him, and he always loved her so much. I told him to go find his Auntie as he went to sleep.

John, my husband, my companion for over 20 years, died in November. It was fast and totally unexpected. A heart attack here at home.

The donkeys and horses are fine. Buster, Juniper, Scout and Bella. Buster hurt me really bad in November and I'm just now getting back to normal. Dislocated my elbow and tore all the attachments. Basically ripped my arm off without breaking the skin. Surgery repaired it but it will never be the same. He got scared and bucked. Not intentional, but this is the second time he's broken me badly.

I'm trying to figure out how to live now. Winter has been hard but things are looking better with the return of the sun. Now that I can load photos from my phone I may just have to start blogging again. I have a lot of adventures to share. I just got back from my latest trip to Tucson. I love the sun!


Monday, June 14, 2021

Riding in the Woods

Blogging from my phone is difficult now that I can't share photos or videos from here. Hopefully this link will work for you. If nothing else, maybe you can copy and paste it? There are several more videos of my rides with Buster on my YouTube channel.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Into the Forest

Boy howdy, has life been busy.  I've been having migraines pretty bad again, and traveling to Spokane for appointments and other things, plus working on some jobs at home.  

Scout was thinking about eating the tractor when I left it parked in the pasture. This was on his birthday, I think.  He's a teenager now!  The big 13.  Crazy.  He's still such a big baby.

I went on a fishing trip with a friend up by Sandpoint.  We didn't catch anything but I loved seeing some of my old haunts from when I was 13ish.  I used to go stay up there for a couple weeks every summer with my best friend's family.  I'm hoping to go up this summer and rent one of their family houses on the lake with my friend.  We've been friends since 4th grade.  I love her.

Of course I took pictures of the dog.  This is Bella, my hunting/fishing/working buddy's dog.

This is me not catching fish on the Pack River.  I want a little fishing pack like that.

This is me not catching fish at a tiny lake.  Kelso lake maybe?  Or Granite lake?  I can't remember.

I had to totally clean out the inside of my trailer and fold up the tack room to get some cabinets, and I won't bore you with pictures of that, but check out what I did on the outside!  I think it looks much better without the rotting decals.  But I am thinking about getting other decals.  Maybe custom made.

It's a lot of work getting the decal adhesive off.  Still working on it.

Juniper, so cute.

Huckleberry.  Growing back his hair I took from him.  He's doing well despite his liver tumor.  Catching mice and even a rabbit.  Going hiking and finding moose legs. He's not done living yet!

My buddy showed me how to push a post into the ground when it's soft.  Not super easy, but maybe easier than digging a hole.  Maybe.  They don't just go in.  You have to rock it and mash it and bash it... We broke one off.  But I'll have a hitching rail near my firepit/hangout area once I finish that project.
He also came over and used our tractor with just the bucket and the small box scraper that we have, and fixed our crappy driveway that has had huge lumps and bumps and puddles for 16 years.  Two hours to fix something that we've been dealing with for 16 years.  Nice.

The Harvard elk herd.  I see them every morning that I drive out there, and it looks like they're there in the evening too.  I wonder how well the person who owns that field likes them eating the sprouting hay.  But I sure like seeing them!  Oh, actually this field is for grazing cattle later, but they are also eating up a fancy hay field just past those aspens.

We got a little boat.  It sprouted legs!  We floated it in our biggest pond, which isn't very big, to see if it leaks.  It was so much fun!  Like sailing in a bathtub, but everyone was smiling and laughing, and even the dog (Orion) loved it.  I can't wait to take it out for real.

Then I laid in the grass because my back hurt, and I became a cat bed.  These two cats are so great.  We got so lucky the day we adopted them.  Sweet as can be, and very efficient murder cats when it comes to mice.  That's Elvis on the left and Suki on the right.

Bella's long mane is a bit of a problem.  This happens ALL the time. 

I got it all worked out - a couple big witches knots like that and a lot of dreadlocks hidden underneath at the top.  Then I trimmed the bottom just enough that the wind won't catch it and twirl it.  I hope.

I didn't trim her forelock.  It is just naturally looking awkward for some reason.  But her eyes are still so sweet and beautiful.

And now we have Buster.  I startled him to get this picture.  Poor guy!

I finally put up my slow feed hay nets!  The girls are getting fat already.  I need to separate them and get them off grass.  Juniper was the first one to be curious and brave enough to check them out.

MudPig Scout wasn't far behind though.  Food is everything to him.

Everyone peacefully eating.  Orion wants to be a horse.  He even tries to eat hay sometimes.  Scout is behind me in this picture.  He's the most likely to try to steal everyone's feed, thinking maybe theirs will taste less like vitamins, I suppose.  

Orion again, being bendable and sweet and oh so happy. 

My niece is showing off the marshmallow in her pocket.  Uncooked.  If it was cooked that would be soooo bad.  She also got her bellybutton pierced recently.  It looks great on her.  But she had the gross audacity to say to me, when I told her bellybuttons gross me out, "What is a bellybutton but our first mouth?"  Ewww.  Her grossout thing is ears, so I started talking about earholes. 

Buster, it turns out, brought home from our camping trip fifty billion ticks on his underside.  So when I went to ride, I decided I shouldn't saddle up.  I spent an hour picking ticks off, sprayed him down really well with fly spray to kill the nasty beasts, and we went for a hike instead.

Mullein cigar anyone?

This postholing in knee-deep snow was SO hard for him.  But they were short stretches and he didn't quit on me.  What a guy!

I love this picture.  Donkey time.  Thinkin' about it.  I needed him to come down this steep bank so we could cross a trickle of a stream instead of going over it on the road where the snow was way too deep for Buster.  He did it no problemo.  I think he knew the alternative was that postholing, deep, horrible snow.

We took an after-hike break with coffee with too much condensed milk (I keep it in the trailer because it doesn't have to be refrigerated), smoked salmon made by my buddy's wife that was to die for, crackers, and some jerky for Orion and treats for Buster.

This picture should have gone above with the other marshmallow picture.  This is how you make smores when you can't have graham crackers.  My kids are smart.  :)

My niece and I went out to one of my sister's favorite trails the other day.  There was so much magic there.  I realized this past week that a lot of my stress is from not being able to get out to the forest.  That is my normal.  I just need to be there and breathe it all in.  I'm so glad the snow is melting.  Soon I can get my horse trailer in there and Buster and I will have adventures

Some big critter used this cedar tree as a scratching post.  You think bear or cougar?  I thought it could be deer rubbing their antlers, but in the second picture you can see claw marks.  I think cougar.

A forest spirit greeted us along the trail

Lungwort on a cool red-barked tree.  I don't know this tree.  I wonder if this is the inner bark, and the outer bark had fallen off.  It just isn't a tree bark I've seen in the woods.  Beautiful red, though.

I love the big cedars.  Throw my head back and open my chest and take a big deep breath and really, really appreciate them.  Thank them.  Thank all of the forest.  

I am thankful for so much.  The sunlight, the green, my dog. The air.  My ability to get back out to where I feel whole.  I need this.

Love and a triangle sparkle rock.  It amazes me how many tiny green things persist through the winter, under the snow.  They don't die back and come again, they are there all along, whole, waiting for the sun to come back.  I don't know how they do it, but I am impressed!

This is my chapel.  This is my Home.