Monday, October 29, 2012

A Walk In The Woods

Trying out the panorama feature that came with the last big OS update on the iPhone. Anyone see the spooky skull lurking in the leaves?

Everywhere you go around here you run into "Tamarack"; street names, business names, organizations, etcetera.  We'd wondered if all the trees we thought were pines were actually tamaracks, but that was not the case. It turns out the neat thing about tamaracks is that they are deciduous coniferous trees that turn bright yellow in autumn!

From Wikipedia: Tamarack Larch, or Tamarack, or Hackmatack, or American Larch (Larix laricina).  The name Tamarack is the Algonquian name for the species and means "wood used for snowshoes."

Just a couple weeks ago we started noticing pointy yellow trees in the woods and up the mountains behind us and today E suggested we take advantage of the break in the weather to see if we could see one up close.

If you'll notice that my glasses are covered with rain then you'll realize that the break in the weather didn't hold.  We had worn rain gear and we were so recently Oregonians that a little rain wasn't much of a deterrent & it didn't ruin our hike.

This is as close as we were able to get without hiking down into the ravine where the creek was flowing at a pretty good clip this afternoon.  The Beastie Grrrlz were more than willing to careen down to the bottom, but we called them back, leashed them up and then tired to make them pose for pictures.

It's not all that easy to see in any of the photos, but we're all wearing safety orange tape.  E & I on our heads, the Beastie Grrrlz around their necks, because it's hunting season and we don't want to be mistaken for deer. We learned this trick from the girls' friend Bella.

One of the best parts about an autumnal walk in the rainy forest is coming home to a toasty warm house, changing out of wet gear & into warm dry comfort clothes and having a beer.  We did that, too.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Halloween is my favorite.  I love making decorations and decorating for it, I love making costumes, I love wearing costumes, I love that Eric loves costumes & I get to make them.  I love redecorating and costuming just for the trick-or-treaters and I love that when digging through the storage unit we had a box that said "body parts, weapons".  But this year there is no Satan Claus for us. [sniff] I had a GREAT* idea for my costume for this year, too; even started assembling the parts and materials.

These are mostly from a really great "bag of bones" that I got from Lillian Vernon a couple years ago; there are shoulder blades, ribs, hands, feet, vertebrae, coccyx, etc.  Say what you want about the LV catalog, but it has some great Halloween decorations and a good sale just in time.

As, I've mentioned I did decorate a little bit, though.  Some spiders and snakes and weapons on the porch that I couldn't really get captured with my camera, silicone blood drips on the windows, and Eric's antique medical cabinet filled with bones (and a few roaches).  And then the snow came.  It doesn't stay for long and the driveway and road are clear, but it sure messes with my paradigm to see my haunts against a wonderland of snow.

The head part of the jilted bride I put together last year hovers above the snow covered deck as the property is overtaken by the clouds.  Or is that some kind of sinister, evil-doing mist?

I know it's not yet the Big Day, but to my Pacific Northwest eyes this just looks like I never-got-around-to-taking-it-down-and-here-it-is-already-February.

You can tell it's the scary kind of raven because it just sits there getting snowed on and stares with it's empty bird eyes as you drive by.
*That's right ALL-CAPS, bold, italic, and underline.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wildlife Watch!!

Though the magic of insomnia I was able to sleep in on Monday while Eric, who was already long up, let the dogs out for their morning constitutional and fed them.  So I was at the sink doing the morning dishes while waiting for the coffee to brew later than usual.  When I looked up and out the window over the sink I got to see three deer in the yard and just over the fence!

Eventually the Beastie Grrrlz caught on that there was something interesting outside.  And yes, that thermometer says it's below 30.

It started snowing in the late afternoon and by night we had a wonderland of snow.  In October.  It was still there on Tuesday morning and out the back windows Eric spotted this fellow.  He had little spikes on his head and I like to imagine him with a few pimples and a crackly voice.

He was further into the National Forest from our yard that the first three.

Tuesday evening we got to meet some of our neighbors at a meeting about maintaining our shared private road.  Everyone was nice, friendly and funny.  YEY!  We also learned that the wild cat might still be around the neighborhood and the bears, too.  Oh, my!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Zoned Out

I'm beginning to think that "Mountain Time" is not just our time zone, but also way of life... you know, like "island time."  Businesses will take days to return phone calls or just wait for you to call again, deliveries show up 3 days late and contractors/repair people show up late w/o calling.  Our piano mover guy was 2 hours late.  I called at half an hour late & one hour and 15 late and he returned my call and 1 hour 30, said he'd be here in 15 minutes and took 30 because apparently he can't bother to look at a map or use the internet or his phone or have GPS and was confounded that the house numbers would get smaller as you went further up the hill.  The appliance guy that the home warranty company hired didn't contact me, so I left a message on his voice mail which announced that they check messages frequently and will get back to me right away and can usually make an appointment for within 2 days.  I called Friday; nothing.  No word on Monday.  I called Tuesday and got a person who set up for Thursday with a window of 1-3p.  It's 3:20 as I type this.  No phone call.  I have been with out a dishwasher for almost 3 weeks which is hardly a real hardship, but we were told this would be taken care of before we took possession.

Two dishwashers and yet not at all fancy.

So at 3:25 I call to ask what's up annnnnnd I get an automated message telling me his mailbox is full and I should try again later.  It's not like we can't install a damn dishwasher ourselves, either, but the warranty covers it (and they make a big show of telling you repeatedly that the cost includes delivery and installation) and damn it we shouldn't have to do it.  I bet they won't warranty it if we do and they sure aren't going to pay us.  By the way, they didn't really deliver the dishwasher, either. Eric had to drive down the the highway to pick it up because they sent it in a semi.  American Home Shield can suck it is what they can do.

UPDATE: I called back at 3:45, got a person who apologized, etc. and the guy came out around 5p and got 'er installed.  Of course, everyone was very nice, like everyone here is, but... calling is a nice, courteous thing and good service.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

No Rain, No Rainbow

We woke up to Oregon-style rain today, but unlike back in Portland, here we were up in the clouds.

The view from the deck, from under the overhang where my fleece socks wouldn't get wet.

We don't have gutters on the house, which is not atypical due to ice dams possibly forming and just tearing them off.  So, we had a good drippy stream of water across the stairs down to the yard from the deck.  The dogs did not like the look of that, not one bit.  It took Betty four tries (including trying the back door in case the weather was better there) before she braved the "torrent" to have her morning constitutional; Delia did it in two.

It was so much brighter in person and had a hint of a twin for about a quarter of the way.

We drove down to Hamilton, the Ravalli County seat, this morning to register to vote!  For some reason, I found it as exciting as the last time I registered in 1989.  We also found an optical place to fix my washer-mooshed spectacles and got to enjoy a big, bright rainbow on our journey home.

Maybe a little too bright: Eric didn't bring his prescription sunglasses and had to double-up to get us home. There are a lot of people retiring to the area and I thought her resembled an oldster driving a big RV with those giant sun shades that wrap around regular glasses.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Decorating of a Sort

I finally strung up all the cards and letters we got!  It's so cheery in the dining room picture window.

They look so cheery in the dining room picture window!

I just couldn't take it and had to do a wee bit of Halloween crafting.  Betty had fond this spinal column somewhere out in the yard or forest that had already been wired together so I dug through my Halloween supplies to put together this wreath.

halloween_wreath spinal_column_wreath
We've all been there: the dog drags home a spinal column so you have to find a classy way to display it.

We replaced the heart-shaped silk flower arrangement on the fence at the bottom of the property with this seasonal welcome.  Feel free to take bets on how long after Halloween this stays up.  Insider scoop: I once had Christmas decoration up until St. Patrick's Day.

halloween_wreath spinal_column_wreath
Seeing the comparison, I think a spot of color would be nice on the new wreath, but blood wouldn't make sense here, nor would a pumpkin.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Oh, The Mundanity!

This is just a list of stuff that's kind of a big deal around here, but probably boring as hell.

 1. It feels so good to finally be able to do laundry again! 

My new washer: the Frigidaire Affinity!  I could go on & on about all the features and special cycles (like pet bed, stuffed toy, etc.), but I'll save that for bugging Eric.

 I was pleased when I saw the clothesline when we looked at the house in July and since the dryer doesn't arrive for another week or two, I'm extra pleased now.  The only thing that doesn't benefit from that dried-on-the-line feel and smell are towels, but the rain is scheduled to start tomorrow so we're doing them anyway.

This seem to dry pretty quickly in the dry air here even when it's not that warm. 

2. We've no curbside recycling in Florence, but we do have a 60 gallon garbage can. SIXTY GALLONS!  That's the small size, the other size is 90 gallons.  NINETY GALLONS!  They pick it up weekly, too.  We're saving recycling to take into Missoula to a recycling center there, and figuring out composting in this climate with these critters, but it's quite a change and I'm having a hard time adjusting without being a bit resentful.  C'mon people!  Get with it!  Are you trying to fill this beautiful valley with trash!?  GAH!!! I'm sure I'll get used to it just like I'll get used to driving the 60 gallon can to the bottom of the road for pick up.  I don't know how we're going to do that when I get the canopy back on Bert.

3. Speaking of, I totally filled the tank in Bert (my truck) all by myself today like a big girl!  And gas is under $3.70/gallon now, too, so it's a good thing I waited until the last minute.
Four of the eight that were making a circuit around the NE side of the house from one bird bath to the other and back.  The Beastie Grrlz sure had fun eating all the turkey turds, which are the size of cat turds, an hour or so later.

4.  I'm sure everyone knows that feeling of surprise when you look up from washing the lunch dishes and see wild turkeys scratching around under the window.  This time the dogs slept right through it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wildlife Watch!

Why did the turkeys cross the road?  It’s hard to tell and I’m no wild turkey expert, but the flock (?) that lives in our neighborhood seems to cross the road because a motorized vehicle is coming down it.  They don’t dawdle or anything, but they do seem to be there when you go into town and then again when you come back from town.  I imagine them standing around, sending text messages and playing Angry Birds on their smart phones, when the designated look-out gobbles “Car!  Everyone act natural.  On my mark, we’ll wonder into the road, crossing at a 37 degree diagonal just like the last 28 times.  Got it?  Annnnnnd go!”

Here the turkeys changed it up a bit: there on four (4) turkeys on the left side of the road and seven (7) or eight (8) on the right side.

We’ve also seen lots of white-tail deer (does and fawns) standing around looking innocent or playing this same game, but their schtick is to act surprised that you’re there and sometimes a bit confused as to what they’re to do next or which route would be best at this juncture.

The corner post where the garden fence meets the fence bordering the National Forest. We have all winter to learn proper fence mending techniques.

In other wildlife news, a cougar was spotted in the area a few weeks ago and it ate a couple of a neighbor’s goats and a bear knocked down one of our garden fence posts to muck about in the compost and destroyed a bird feeder just 2 days before we moved in!  So, we don’t let the Beastie Grrrlz out unattended at night and we bring in the bird feeders.   I guess it’s been years since there has been this much wildlife action on the property, but with the drought and probably the fires the critters are hungry.  We’re told by the Alexanders (who sold us their wonderful property) that there are also foxes about, but there’s not enough water for skunks like the poor fellow who spent our first week here bloating up to magnificent proportions on Hwy 93.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Annnnnd We're Back!

... back online that is.  We went about 8 days sans internet here and it wasn't that bad.  I've gone longer when traveling, but when traveling it's lots more fun to be disconnected than when unpacking and trying to learn your way around your new state/town/lifestyle.  Anyway, just a few quick photos for the folks back home (and elsewhere).

The view from the bottom of the stairs after emptying the contents of the big U-haul truck into the living/dining room. A very special thanks to high school classmate, Bart VanderZanden, for having a son who is a freshman at University of Montana in Missoula!  Luke and 2 buddies come out and really busted their humps to get that truck unloaded in under 2 hours on Sunday evening.

This was a week ago, so it's much different in there with furniture roughly estimating how rooms look.  There are still boxes about, but many have been unpacked and many have been moved to the rooms befitting their contents.  We'll be working on fixtures as we go, too.

The smoke in the sky from the fires sure made for some pretty sunrises.  One of my new mottoes is: If one must be up with r the sunrise, one may as well see it from the hot tub.

The smoke cleared after we'd been in the house just a few days at the same time the temperature dropped.  It's definitely autumn here in the Bitterroot Valley (do I sound like a native when I saw that?), but that means temperatures more like winter in the Willamette Valley.  At least the sky is blue and the sunbeams are warm.

Here's the west side of the house as viewed from near the fence with the National Forest on the other side.

During the week away from the internet I've had a few ideas for posts, but those will have to wait until later this week (and next?).  Today I got smacked in the face with our new washing machine (the side not shown in the photo, even though the photo was take a few days ago) and am just not feeling myself.  I'm patched up and my glasses are most likely going to be put back into shape pretty easily by a trained professional, but I do look like a victim of some kind of violence.  The washing machine is still outside the back door; we're going to rent a hand truck tomorrow to get it in place and doing its job.  I sneaked a peak at the control panel and am still pretty excited about having it around despite its aggressive introduction.