Riding Wildfire

It’s been beautifully springy here recently. We’ve had the windows open, airing the place out. Now everything is covered in a thin layer of dirt. The winds were gusting at 60-75 mph today, blowing everything from dust, leaves, and horse poop into the air. We were lucky enough to avoid the power outages the poor folks in Billings are dealing with, for which I am especially grateful. I hate being without power when living on a well. My first thoughts when the lights flicker are 1.) I better use the bathroom now and 2.) I should fill the bathtub so we can flush the toilets later. With the electricity in our Connecticut cabin being so unreliable, we kept buckets of water on the porch for emergencies. So far we haven’t had to do that here but I may start just to be safe, especially if winds like those today are commonplace.

Along with the dust, leaves, and horse poop, the winds brought smoke from a nearby wildfire that’s burning out of control. Fire season here makes me as nervous as hurricane season in Louisiana. Brian grew up in Louisiana and lived there when we met. I was always resistant to settling there because the idea that every year I’d experience the very real possibility that my house could be there and gone after one storm, made me extremely uncomfortable. Now we live where the very same thing could happen. Although unsettling at times, it’s definitely a risk I’m willing to take in exchange for being able to live in such a gorgeous state. Not that Louisiana isn’t pretty, but there is that whole humidity thing.

Note: The picture here was taken in Worland, Wyoming, over the summer. The fire was an impressive controlled burn on a field.

Note: The song for the title of this post is going to be stuck in my head for days, I just know it.

Title From:
Wildfire
by Michael Martin Murphey

Only Ripe Vegetables, Fresh Fruit, and Whole Wheat

There have been a few times in my life when I’ve weighed more than I liked. Once, I tried my aunt’s collagen drink, which was touted as an extremely healthy way to shed weight. I don’t know if it was or wasn’t but I can tell you that the product I tried was vile and I knew, if that’s what it was going to take to lose a little weight, I’d rather work out. So that’s what I did; I cut my calories and increased my exercise. There are a lot of “secrets” to dieting but burning more calories than you intake seems to be a no-brainer strategy and it’s always worked for me.

Brian and I have been trying to get back into the shape we were in a few years ago. With all the moving and stress (from Louisiana to Iowa to Connecticut to homeless in Wyoming to Montana in four years), we’ve let things fall by the wayside a bit. We’ve always tried to use fresh, healthy ingredients when cooking so there hasn’t been much of a change in what we’re using but rather a re-balancing of ratios.

We’ve also started to include smoothies. Last night we made a modified version of this kale smoothie. The flavor was amazing and for the first 1/3 of the glass the texture was tolerable. I even enjoyed the bits of kale that cut the sweetness of the berries. But! As I got closer to the bottom of the drink, the settling of the raspberry and blackberry seeds, along with the tiny bits of kale, made it rather unpleasant and I honestly worried that if I didn’t stop to chew it, I’d choke. I don’t want to chew my drinks.

Until I can find a way to mince the kale a little finer, I think I’ll stick with fruit smoothies (sans seedy berries) like the one pictured here. This was made with bananas, pineapples, strawberries, pomegranate juice, and water. Because Brian likes his smoothies a little thicker than I do, I’ve blended a large serving of the fruit and pomegranate juice mixture with a tiny bit of water, stored it in a large mason jar, and mix most of the water into individual pint servings so both of us can have the consistency we prefer.

It’s a great way to start the day and it saves me having to go through all the work of getting a bowl, pouring cereal, pouring milk, and grabbing a spoon. Obviously the increasing my exercise portion of this healthy kick is a little delayed.

Title From:
Be Healthy
by Dead Prez

When I Win You Over

The other day, when I was writing the About page, I mentioned “a friendly little orange cat who runs around the fields nearby.” This is that cat. I don’t think he’s accustomed to being touched but I think he likes it? I’m getting mixed signals. He’ll rub on my legs, purr, swat me with his insanely sharp claws, and then resume purring and rubbing.

I am what I am. I would tell you what you want to know if I could, for you have been kind to me. But I am a cat, and no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer.
– Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Title From:
When I Win You Over
by Miner

Very Superstitious

On Friday, I turned 35.

When I was a kid my mom would throw surprise birthday parties. Every year. The day of the party I would be required to go somewhere. Inevitably, someone would need something from the store, even if we already had the item or never had the item. “Come on Ralph, we gotta get some chocolate licorice and a tube of epoxy!” When I’d get back, the house would be crammed with every family member within eighty miles. The same was done for my brother and sisters. For the first couple years, it was a surprise, after that … maybe a bit less of a surprise.

However, one year it worked. My grandmother (Nanny) and I went for a drive to see my uncle Mark, who lives quite a distance from my mom. I assumed it was the expected trip away from the house. When we got to Mark’s place, my mom and everyone else was there. Apparently he had expressed an interest in having the party for me. It’s a gesture that I’ve never forgotten and it probably meant a lot more to me than he knew.

My last surprise party was for my thirteenth birthday, in 1993. That was the day the Storm of the Century buried our little street, wrapping everything in a thick padding of white like a tremendous fluffy present from Nature. I’m sure my step-dad still has the VHS tape he recorded on his massive camcorder, which he protected from the blizzard with a big black garbage bag. Watching the video later was like watching a silent movie while someone smashed grocery bags into your ears.

While we didn’t have a party this year, we did celebrate. We are now the proud new owners of a self-propelled lawn mower and a weed eater that weighs as much as a horse.

Title From:
Superstition
by Stevie Wonder

Falling in Love in the Setting Sun

There is a group of mule deer here whose numbers are between 17-20. They’ll often wander through our back pasture in small clumps. Yesterday six or seven of them decided to rest by a shed that will eventually become our goat barn. I’ve taken dozens of photographs through the windows, trying not to disturb them, but yesterday I decided I’d had enough of the distorted images and I opened the back door.

Slowly and quietly over a period of ten minutes, I worked my way outside without startling them. Sitting on the step with a warm breeze blowing in the early evening sun, while the mangy deer lounged nearby, was beyond exciting. I have probably repeated “I sat with wild deer!” to Brian no less than twenty times. Incredibly, in the half hour I spent with them, I didn’t get a single good picture.

Title From:
Tell the World
by Eric Hutchinson