the sky’s the limit

Old friends from Missoula came to visit last Monday.  It was the first time we’d had company fly in to see us.

Check out this gorgeous blue sky!

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Gary, Judy and Banjo Man in front of the Cessna.

We were so impressed and in awe of the whole thing.  It was the first time we’d been to the Sandpoint airport, the first time we’d ever been inside the terminal.

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Banjo Man took Gary and Judy up the mountain to the cabin for a long walk in the woods.  At this time of year it’s beautiful up there–with no bugs!

Later that evening we drank wine, ate lasagna and caught up with each other’s lives, children and grandchildren.

It was lovely.

We’d hoped to kayak, but it was just too cold.  So the kayaks were stored for the winter and hopefully Gary and Judy will fly in to see us in August next year, when they can enjoy the lake.

See?  I’m already planning next year’s social events!

 

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leaving with the geese

This morning the geese flew by and honked–quite loudly–at six.

We’re not honking, but we are getting ready to leave the lake for the winter.  Banjo Man has brought all the chairs up from the dock and the beach.  I have dismantled my office and packed away the summer clothes.  We’re starting the process early this year in order to avoid all the last minute stress of closing up the house.  I get grumpy and cranky and tend to be low on patience during this process, but so far so good.

It’s fall here.  I have the heat on this morning, just to take the chill off.  We’re wearing sweaters and socks.

We’ve been very social.

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Dinner at Ivano’s with friends.

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A beet appetizer that was almost too gorgeous to eat.

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Sticky toffee pudding, at Trinity, for Retired Mountain Lady’s birthday, which she was nice enough to share with me, a December birthday person.

We went to a fundraiser at Pour Authority (the beer place) in town last week and helped raise money for the American Heritage Wildlife Foundation (that’s who I called when we had our wobbly osprey stranded on the beach).  We bought wine and beer and raffle tickets and came home with t-shirts, glasses and a hat.

The same foundation held another fundraiser on Saturday night.  A comedian from Oregon performed and was so darn funny.  I wish there’d been more people there to enjoy the show.

Wednesday night one of the neighbors held a potluck karaoke night.  Hilarious.  Banjo Man impressed everyone with his rendition of an Elvis Presley song, by the way.  I brought pork chops (tenderloins) that had been cooking covered in a beer sauce in the crock pot for 6 hours and they were **dry**.  How did that happen?????  They looked beautiful but tasted like cardboard.

Saturday night is Oktoberfest at the community center.  Banjo Man will once again be serving sauerkraut and talking to every single person who hands him a plate to fill.  It just might be the highlight of the season for him.  I’ll be manning the cash box and hoping someone saves me a bratwurst.

Sunday we head to Montana for dinner with one of the first people I met here in 1975, when she came to babysit our son Ben, who was two and a half at the time.  I will bring pictures of the Funny Grandson and she will tell me stories about Ben when he was little and we will laugh about the old days.

Last night we met some old friends at the Floater for dinner.  They’d given Banjo Man and Will a trail ride up to a mountain lake last summer.  We also reminisced about our horseback trip to the top of Scotchman back in 1975.

There are so many memories here in this tiny town.  I wrap them around me and smile.

 

 

 

 

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banjo man makes new friends

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Last Friday morning we went to a neighbor’s house to take advantage of her offer of tomatoes.  She had grown more tomatoes than she could possibly eat, so we were happy to take a basket of them home.

Banjo Man is a fan of little dogs, in case you didn’t already know.  And these little dogs loved him.  It was pretty darn funny how much they loved him.  But you can see from the photo that everyone was happy.

It has grown cooler here, but warm enough for some kayaking Friday evening.  Everywhere we go friends offer plums, apples and pears from their ample orchards.  I baked some upside down plum cakes, with mixed results, but this year I’m not canning anything.  I made three batches of apricot jam and decided to call it quits.

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Before the batter goes on top.

It’s the social season around here.  Few of us still have company.  There is time for dinners at the Floater, card parties, a bluegrass concert in town, lazy kayaking in the bay, lunch at the Pantry and some leisurely wine-on-the-dock evenings before those early 7:15 sunsets.

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A yummy blue margarita.

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Special dessert.

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Pre-bluegrass dinner at MickDuff’s.

I dearly love July, with my family around and the lake as a center of activity, but September has a different feel to it.  Sunny and quiet and calm, it’s a special time of year.

 

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miss lillie, andrea and peaches

Yesterday I peeled 40+ peaches.  Today I will most likely do another 30, but I’m not sure.  I just put up three batches of apricot jam this morning and I’m pretty happy to be out of the kitchen, so peach-peeling decisions will be postponed for a while.

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Stirring for 30 minutes, but worth it.

When you are settling in to peel fruit at the kitchen table for a couple of hours, you want to watch a movie (we don’t have television here, but we stream Netflix, etc.).  I picked “Silence of Music”, the story of Andrea Bocelli’s childhood and rise to fame.

I own a lot of Bocelli cd’s.

The movie, while not very exciting, was the perfect movie for peeling peaches.  Andrea was a sullen, miserable, mouthy kid.  He completely lost his sight at age 12, and then his voice changed during puberty and killed his dream of being an opera singer.  I loved his big Italian family, especially the uncle who could coax some smiles and life out of his moping nephew.

Bocelli really wasn’t happy about much of anything, except maybe his cute girlfriend (and eventual wife).  His big break came when he was supposed to replace Pavorotti on a rock tour and waited two years for the agency to call him.

Every time he sang, though, the movie came alive for me.  The ending showed a montage of his years as a success and I loved it, especially while his music played in the background.  It looked as though he’d cheered up substantially.  For his family’s sake, I certainly hope so.

So what does this have to do with someone called Miss Lillie, you ask?

You’ve heard this story before:  I rescued a very elderly Pekingese who had been tossed out of a car on the side of a road in West Virginia.  Rescued by passersby, she eventually found her way to Rhode Island (via PUR, the Pekingese Underground Railroad) to be my foster dog while she underwent surgery for mammary tumors and healed enough to be adopted.

But who would adopt an old lady like Miss Lil?  I decided she would stay with us, though Banjo Man took some convincing.

This one-eyed old lady had a lot of things wrong with her:  eye infection, ear infections, stomach issues and a lot of missing teeth.  She was the sweetest dog you’d ever meet, though.  She shouldn’t have trusted humans at all, but she decided she loved me on day two and became my constant companion until she died six years later (at the age of eighteen, the vet thought).

In those early weeks I had to treat her eye and her ears with medicated drops, something she barely tolerated.  I would hold her in my lap like a baby and put on an Andrea Bocelli cd and play two of my favorite songs while applying the medicine.  Miss Lillie learned to relax and associated all that snuggling with the sound of Bocelli.  There was nothing wrong with her hearing and any time I played “Sogno” she would come racing down the hall to look for me and wait to be picked up and held.

So while the “Silence of Music” isn’t a movie I could wholeheartedly recommend you watch (unless you’re a huge Bocelli fan), it certainly brought back a lot of good memories of when we were owned by an elderly Peke.

An excellent way to spend a morning.

 

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we loved a rainy night

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Yes, we had rain!  Lots of lovely rain all night long.  This evening (it’s 5:00) the sun is out and the sky is BLUE.  Blue, I tell you!!

Banjo Man hustled up the mountain to the cabin later this afternoon.  I suspect the rain helped a lot with the fire danger and it certainly drove the smoke away to give a chilly, fresh-air-filled day.

I spent the afternoon peeling two cases of peaches.  I made a little rustic peach tart for dessert tonight and froze a lot of sliced peaches to enjoy next July.

As soon as Banjo Man comes home we’re taking a bottle of wine down to the dock.  We’ll bundle up in sweatshirts and enjoy what’s left of the sun.

It’s time to celebrate.

 

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the brothers’ latest project

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This was a familiar scene from the upper balcony.  I checked on them once in a while and they were always hard at work despite the smoky air.

First project:  building a kayak stand.

Second project:   cleaning out the storage room.

Third project:  cleaning up the farm treasures found in the storage room.

Fourth project:  hanging the cleaned farm treasures on the wall of the office.

I stayed out of the way and provided meals when needed.

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cool air is here

We have a break from the smoke this morning.  It’s a breezy, cloudy day and 62 degrees.  We’ve opened all of the windows.

Ahhhh……fresh air!

I’ve used some of the indoor smoke time to cut out pieces for a new baby quilt.

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5″ squares are so versatile.

Banjo Man and I watched a Netflix series called “Seven Seconds”.  We really enjoyed the acting and the story and the characters for nine episodes.  And then we hit episode #10, the final one, and it deteriorated.

So very disappointing.  I won’t spoil it for you by listing the plot holes, mistakes and very, very unsatisfying ending, but beware.  It’s a great show until it all falls apart at the end.

And yes, I am known to be fussy and critical when it comes to movies and structure.  Story structure has always been something I respect when done well and have fits over when it breaks down.  But even Banjo Man, who is much more forgiving of these issues, was disappointed and frustrated.

I want my ten hours back.

 

 

 

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a little corn party

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Dancing Mandolin Player brought us some of her freshly picked sweet corn Monday night.

We were filled with gratitude.

I’ve bought sweet corn several times in town, but it does not compare to DMP’s corn, which is by far the best corn in the universe.

Banjo Man and I gorged ourselves Monday night.  I had also grilled a couple of steaks, but I didn’t bother eating one.  I just wanted corn, corn, corn–a once-a-year magnificent treat.

The smoke continues and everyone is frustrated and depressed.  The West is on fire and there is nothing we can do about it except hope for rain.  There’s a chance that rain is coming on Sunday.

It would almost be too good to be true.

Send good thoughts our way, would you?

 

 

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tales of the osprey

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Here’s what I saw on the beach yesterday morning at 6:00 AM.  I had looked out the window to check out the smoke and saw something that definitely didn’t look like a rock or a log.  I raced upstairs for the binoculars while the guys slept and realized my visitor was an osprey.

One who didn’t want to move off of his rock.

You can see from the picture that after I threw on some clothes and hustled down the hill with the camera and the phone (these pics were taken on the phone) he let me get pretty close before trying to fly away.

Flying away didn’t work and I felt sorry that I had disturbed him.  He didn’t get in the air, landed in the lake, and swam a few yards before turning around and swimming back to his rock.

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By this time I was halfway up the hill to the house, hoping that my departure would calm him down.

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Banjo Man was awake by then, so I told him we had a visitor whose wings looked fine but couldn’t fly.

Time to call the rescue groups and find out what to do!  After some googling, I left a message with “Birds of Prey Northwest”.  And then left a message with the American Heritage Wildlife Foundation based a few miles east.

The Birds of Prey guy called me back in a few minutes and I explained the situation.

“He’s probably a young osprey just out of the nest that has gotten himself in trouble.  It happens a lot.  They’re fully grown but they’re young and stupid.  We’d be glad to come pick him up,” he said.  “I’ve got volunteers who will get him and drive him here.  But you’re going to have to get him in a box.”

“Get him in a box?”

“It’s not as hard as it sounds,” he assured me.  “Just throw a blanket over him and put him in a box, keep the box in a cool, dark place and call us.”

“Wow,” I said.  “I can’t imagine throwing a blanket over an osprey and getting him into a box.”  Meanwhile I’m thinking what the hell is he talking about!!

“It’s pretty simple,” he continued cheerfully.  “You’d better wear gloves.  Just watch out for the feet.  That’s the ‘business end’ of the bird and can do some damage.  Call us when you’ve got him and a volunteer will pick him up.”

“Uh, thanks,” I replied.  And as I relayed the information to Banjo Man I added that I wish a volunteer would come catch the osprey and I would be the one driving him to St. Maries.  Driving a bird in a box seemed a lot easier than putting a bird in a box.

Don’t you agree?

The AHWF lady called.  I explained the bird’s behavior.  I thought one leg was a bit wobbly but his wings were fine.  He just didn’t seem to be able to fly.

She thought he might have gotten into trouble while fishing and was simply resting on the beach for a while as he tried to recover.  By this time he’d been resting about three hours, which was a bit excessive.

“Well,” she said, “you need to get him in a box and we’ll pick him up.”

We were back to the box again.

“I don’t know about that,” I hedged, not having been born a falconer.

“Throw a couple of towels over him,” she said.  “He’ll flip over on his back and try to defend himself with his feet.  But once he feels the blanket he should calm down.  Wear gloves and a puffy jacket.  Oh, and approach from the water to create a barrier with the towel so he doesn’t fly into the water again.  You want to trap him on the beach.”

I thanked her and said we would do our best but I wasn’t sure if we could pull it off.

“Just call me as soon as you have him.”

I thanked her, hung up and explained the process to Banjo Man.  By this time I was on my second mug of coffee, the osprey was still on his rock and the smoke was lifting to reveal a pleasant day.

“You know,” he mused.  “I think I want to try.  I think I’ll catch the osprey.”

Huh?  You think you can put a huge wild bird in a box???

“Come on,” Banjo Man said.  “I have an extra pair of leather gloves for you and we have that box from Pier One, the one the seat cushions came in.”

Which was a huge box.  Big enough to hold an osprey wrapped in a blanket.

So we changed into bird-trapping clothes, donned our water shoes, retrieved old blankets from storage and headed down the hill.

We weren’t even halfway there when the osprey turned its head to look at us, saw the box and took off over the water.  He managed to fly about two feet above the lake as he did a figure eight close to shore and then headed west to the neighbors (we assumed).

Banjo Man was disappointed.  I worried about the bird.  We put all the Bird Trapping equipment away and then I called both rescue groups and told them what happened.

Everyone was happy for the osprey and relieved that he could fly.

He returned later on yesterday afternoon.  He sat on the beach for an hour and then was gone.  I do think he’s young and inexperienced and probably not a very good fisherman.  He could have been weak from hunger.  He could have hurt his leg trying to catch a fish.  I wouldn’t think all this smoke in the air would make it easy to spot a meal.

It’s a cold, cruel world.

But Banjo Man and I are standing by.  We have a box and we know what to do.

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smoky sunday sunset

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The sun was red.  You can see the haze that is really smoke from the California (and Oregon and British Columbia) fires.  It’s coming in thicker every day.

This was Sunday night at a nearby RV resort and restaurant.  They have music on the lawn, facing the beach, docks and water.

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Here we are enjoying ourselves.  I’ve never been to a Sunday evening here before, so I was determined that this would be the year.  To heck with the smoke!  I packed a picnic of wine, cheese, crackers, chips and salsa.  I tossed plastic wine glasses in the basket and was ready to party.

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Doug–our music teacher–and Marty entertained the crowd.

Today the smoke has come in much thicker than the previous days.  It smells like a campfire outside, so we have the windows closed.

We are waiting for rain, as are millions of others sitting in smoke and fire zones.  And we check the updates on the Cougar Fire, only five miles away.

It’s August and this is what we do.

 

 

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