Friday, November 17, 2017

The Spirit is A-Movin'

My Christmas spirit has arrived.  Unpredictable, it is rarely one event that brings it on.  Rather, an accumulation of positive emotions rolls in like a wave and I am caught up, rising on it like a surfer.  My goodwill is overflowing - and I think I know why.

ONE: Bread pudding.  I am not conscious of my rationale, yet bread pudding seems to go hand-in-mitten with autumn.  Maybe since it's warm, filling and deeply satisfying?  Especially when it's served with huckleberry sauce and vanilla ice cream!

TWO: Feathers and fur.  Deer are certainly not unique in our neighborhood.  After all, as you read in a recent post, they ate our Halloween pumpkins!  But glimpsing one at a gallop in the snow is priceless.

These two bald eagles kept close watch over some carrion less than a mile from our log home, making sure the ravens below didn't consume too much.  In 1978, the year bald eagles were listed as a federally endangered species, only 12 known nesting pairs remained in Montana.  In 2014, the last year data was collected, biologists counted 700 nesting pairs.  Incredible - I'm so glad we're going to be neighbors!

Our furbaby Josie has been vomiting (sorry if this is gross), a growing cause for concern that prompted a trip to the vet.  Turns out, she has lost almost a pound in the last 9 months and Doc suggested blood work and an ultrasound.  I won't keep you in suspense - she has a gall bladder issue that can be treated with medication - whew.  (Equally important, it is medication we can mix with her wet food - it is almost impossible to give her meds directly unless you want Wolverine-like scratches!)  Above you can see how tired (and relieved) she was after the day at the vet!

THREE: Walks "over the river and through the woods".  Water, snow, sky, trees - the Artist's palette stretches out toward the horizon - an immeasurable gift for the casual observer, and for the blogger intent on capturing images that come close to replicating the real thing.

Whitefish River

Pedestrian bridge
Nature's ornaments

Coming night ...
After a snow, the woods are at once a clean sheet and an open book; the white brings a purity that I am reluctant to mar with my boot prints.  And yet it is prime time to see animal tracks, and how snow manages to pile onto even the most delicate plants.  So peaceful.

FOUR: The refreshing passion of youth.  As a capstone project in their senior year, the students of the culinary art program at Flathead Valley Community College manage a pop-up restaurant in the kitchen at the school.  The chefs-in-training do it all, from naming the establishment to defining the menu to executing on the 3 weekends the restaurant will exist. 

The name Six One reflects the gender composition of the class - six females and one male. The team selected a menu of international small plates to delight our taste buds.

Given Spousal Unit's penchant for cooking, it was a match made in heaven.

He could watch the preparation while we savored our selections.

And savor we did, the food and the top-notch service.  The culinary program can count on our reservation every year!

FIVE: Pride in Montana.  Did you know that every year, a different National Forest is selected to provide a tree for the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the Christmas season?  And did you know that this year, that National Forest is nowhere other than Montana?

This year's tree, a 79-foot Engelmann Spruce, was chosen from the Kootenai National Forest in the northwest corner of the state.  It was harvested near Yaak on 11/8 and will travel 3,000 miles via truck.

And did you know that we saw the tree in Whitefish as part of its whistle-stop tour? YES, we did!

Rig with escort - Big Mountain of Whitefish in the background
Spousal Unit signing our names to the banner
Top of the tree, visible through clear plastic at the end of the rig

Check to see if the tree is coming to a town near you!!!

Larry "The Trusty Trucker" Spiekermeier, will deliver the tree to the Capitol on 11/27.  (A native of Plains, Montana, he told us he was chosen for the honor based on his safety record - 1.6 million accident-free miles.)  The Capitol grounds team will secure the tree and decorate it with thousands of hand-crafted ornaments from communities across Montana.  The tree will be lit by the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, on 12/6 during a ceremony on the West Lawn beginning at 5 p.m.  Assuming it is televised, this is one proud Montana family that will be watching!

Linking to
nature notes logo

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Log Home Trivia

Trivia Question 1- when was my last post about our log-home-in-progress?

If you answered August 26, you are correct (and you are the lucky recipient of a Wild Huckleberry Chocolate Bar, when you come to visit).  And you are one of my treasured blog readers.  And, like me, you have plenty of time on your hands to figure out this sort of trivia.
August 29, 2017
Yikes! That's over 70 days ago.  Would you like to see what our crew has accomplished?  Here goes!
October 27, 2017
Comparing the two shots, you can see the application of exterior stain on the logs, plus shingles and green trim on the remaining windows.  We are THRILLED with the outcome of the color combination - when you're making decisions using small swatches, it's always a hope and a prayer that it'll be amazing on a large scale.  I think we done good, don't you?

Garage doors have been installed, and a sidewalk now links the garage to the mud room entrance.  (Within days of pouring the concrete, it snowed and I don't have a picture of the finished sidewalk.)

Working with Forestoration, a Whitefish firm specializing in the planning, design and management of outdoor spaces, we finalized our landscape design.

At their suggestion, we modified the shape of our additional patio space in order to soften the edges that will integrate with the flower beds. 

(Again, within days of pouring the concrete, it snowed and everyone will have to wait 'til spring to see the finished patio!)

Trivia Question 2: who were the first Midwest visitors to our house?

If you answered my Mother, my eldest sister and Number One Son's girlfriend, you are correct!

The alder front door awaits its stain - how weird and wonderful it is to actually open it to enter the house!  Shall we go in?

Textured drywall has been painted throughout the house.  (Can I point out that the preceding sentence, which now sounds simple, involved numerous hours just for Spousal Unit and me to down select colors?)  Spousal Unit completed the yeoman's work to paint 5 portable drywall samples that were carried from room to room so we could visualize the color as it will actually appear.  As it turned out, present at the house that day were no less than eight people giving input to the color choices (at our invitation, of course): the two of us, our general contractor and his wife, our cabinet maker and his wife, our paint contractor and one of our neighbors.  Fortunately, consensus was easily found.  Below are two of the before and after results.
Left - kitchen wall before painting - upper right hand corner shows
loft overhang; Right - kitchen wall with Terracotta as viewed
from loft overhang
Left - mudroom before painting; Right - after painting and with tile

As you can see in the mudroom, tile installation has been completed in a few of the smaller spaces. 

As I mentioned in the post at the end of August, we had gathered a healthy-size woodpile THEN, and in the intervening months it had become a gigantic mess. 

Trivia Question 3: what healthy (not) snack did we eat after working on the woodpile last time?

If you answered Fritos and French Onion dip, you are correct!

Spousal Unit rented a chainsaw and together we invested 6 hours cutting pieces to size and stacking them.  
And just in time, too.  Within a week, snow turned our property into a winter wonderland.
View from great room windows into back yard
In back yard looking up at great room windows

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Friday, November 3, 2017

October Wind Down

As I write this, snowflakes swirl among the barren branches in our back yard - what a transformation three days can bring.  Here's to the halcyon days of late October, Willy Nilly Friday and Mosaic Monday.

ONE: Cooler temperatures translate to curling up with a captivating book, preferably in a pair of warm socks and cute Halloween earrings.
TWO: Baking warms the house, launching delectable aromas of butter, cinnamon and fruit.

THREE: A walk along the lakeshore soaks up the last of the toasty rays of the sun.  The swimming docks have been pulled high onto the beaches, and even the buoys are festooned with cottonwood leaves, awaiting the delighted screams of the kids next summer.

FOUR: Halloween opens the door for creativity, from carving pumpkins to adopting another persona for the night.

In our town, the costume contest is a serious event, proof positive that Whitefish is in touch with its inner child. Which picture is us?

Yes, you got it - Pretty Clown and Hobo Clown.  We didn't win any prizes, but the compliments we heard as we "crawled" the eight mandatory judging locations was accolade enough for us.

FIVE: And then the next day dawned.  Snow dusted the grass, and I thought the expression on our ghost said it all.  On top of that, deer had eaten every flower from my mums overnight, and two of our pumpkins disappeared.

At first, we thought pranksters might have stolen our special squash, but it seemed so out of character for our town.  And then, I discovered this remnant on the porch - what do you think?  Hungry deer, bear or teenage werewolf?
Yes, golden October is gone and drafty November has arrived.

Linking to Willy Nilly Friday

Linking to Mosaic Monday


Friday, October 27, 2017

Autumn Antics

Yes, this is my second post in three weeks about the season of harvest - call it Fall, call it Autumn - by any other name it would still be as sweet.  Here are five morsels for you - in honor of Willy Nilly Friday, Skywatch Friday and Mosaic Monday.

ONE: Family.  We were honored this month to host my younger brother and his wife.  For years we have descended upon their home in Colorado to enjoy their company and the ski slopes; we were delighted to finally return the favor in a locale that approaches the beauty of their home state.  (Most of the pictures in this post are from their visit.) No surprise - they were as generous as always - they brought this chainsaw-carved bear as a gift, ultimately destined for our log home.

Bouquet from Spousal Unit!
And The Huckleberry Cookbook.  Good thing we have some frozen hucks in the freezer!  On the last day of their visit, Spousal Unit made huckleberry pancakes.  Yum!
During their visit, we learned to play the Mexican Train version of dominoes - fun!  To the left is a picture of a finished game with Spousal Unit (he won) using a To Go set they sent us afterwards as a thank you gift.

TWO: Sparkling skies.  What is it about cooler temperatures that sharpens the Cerulean sky, the White of the clouds, and any other Crayola color that happens to hit our retina?
Stanton Lake with Great Northern Mountain in the background
North Fork of the Flathead River
Outside our front door

Middle Fork of the Flathead River looking into Glacier National Park;
opposite side of the river  features the Western Larch, a pine tree
that transforms into Yellow in the fall and drops its needles
Bridge on trail to Holland Falls
THREE: Effervescent leaves and berries.  As my sister-in-law said: "I would rather have a yellow brick road than a red carpet."  Well, God heard her request.

FOUR: Campfire!  For the whole summer, fire restrictions prohibited campfires, so this moment was special. 

Mix in family, a mountain hike in the snow, a stunning view, and s'mores - that's what I call an exceptional 24 hours.

FIVE: Pumpkins.  Don't you just adore this seasonal squash?

Then you would have to "fall" head over heels for a pumpkin patch at the foot of the mountains ...

Linking to Willy Nilly Friday
Around Roanoke
Linking to Skywatch Friday

Linking to Mosaic Monday

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