Smoke Again

Whew was it ever hot on Sunday–98 degrees! Monday we never even saw 80 degrees which was heavenly and today we only reached 80 degrees–much better!  But we have smoke again–lots of mountain obscuring, smelly smoke–UGH!

Sunday was a day of quilting in the cool basement.  The Cowboy had to go to Big Timber–seems Nat and household were without hot water–not a good thing!  The house has a gas hot water heater and the pilot was out–the Cowboy did some trouble shooting and then just re-lighted the pilot and it’s heating water.

More quilting on Monday and the Cowboy puttered.  Emmi girl has had an upset stomach for a couple days but she’s on the mend–she’s always healthy–don’t know what caused this little episode but she’s OK now.

Lonn came early this morning to pickup a cement mixer and big round bales of hay.  I was off to yoga then back home where we have both spent the day relaxing–can you believe it???

Here’s my two beautiful great nieces yesterday–first day of school.

Leah on the left is in the eighth grade and Elizabeth is a junior much to her mother’s dismay! 🙂Smoke makes for nice sunsets.

Here’s another healthcare puzzle–the VA has a new program–Veteran Directed Care and Community Based Services.  The following is taken from the Veterans Administration website, “veterans can hire their own personal aides.”  So, I am thinking–the VA might pay a portion of the care Nat is receiving from personal care aides.  Wrong! After being on hold for over 20 minutes yesterday I spoke with a very rude, gruff lady who informed me that the program would pay for a personal aide but not for an agency of personal aides.  Is that not the most convoluted government statement you have ever read???  The personal aide can be your neighbor with no training whatsoever (true statement from the website) and the VA will pay.  But they won’t pay the aides with training/certification from an agency.  To be fair, they will pay an agency but that agency has to jump through all the hoops to be a VA affiliated vendor.  Our agency is strictly a personal care agency (they provide services which include bathing, helping with dressing, preparing meals, house keeping–services which most senior people need on a daily basis)–they do not provide skilled nursing and do not have a nurse on staff–a requirement to be VA associated.

The website also makes this confusing statement:

If you are enrolled in this program (Veteran Directed Care and Community Based Services) you can decide what mix of Home and Community Based services will best meet your needs.”

Obviously not if you want to use trained aides from an agency.  Some days I am at my wits end!!


Heat Wave

Nothing much happening here except trying to stay out of the heat.  Unfortunately, today the Cowboy had to venture out into the heat for a digging project–seems there is another water leak at the ranch Lonn manages.  I asked the Cowboy why there had been so many leaks this year and his answer, “lots of snow, ground is saturated and then moves.”–makes sense to me. He was home by noon.

Thursday we just puttered–I quilted in the cool of the basement and early in the morning the Cowboy went to install his latest metal work at the home of friends Nancy and Geoff.  These are decorative corner pieces for a porch railing-

Friday we did venture into town to check on Nat and attend the farmers market–my purchases consisted of tomatoes and one cookie.  The number of vendors is growing as are the crowds–I’m glad for Big Timber!

I’m trying to accumulate a few more steps each day and have started walking down the driveway to the country road several times a week–it’s one half mile downhill to the road and one half mile really uphill back to the house–I mean huffing and puffing uphill!  I usually take a camera and a gun–chokecherries are ripening so it’s bear season and it’s so hot the snakes are out.  These two sandhill cranes certainly voiced their displeasure with my disturbing their morning stroll.

Friday it was about 94 degrees, today will be about 98 degrees–we have one more hot day on the horizon then we cool back into the 80’s again.  Back to the basement for me today!

Our granddaughter Katie had a photographer friend come to the ranch not long ago–

Time Flies

Four years ago Tuesday, August 7, we were in Great Falls, Montana awaiting the arrival of our first great grand child.  Today we celebrated her fourth birthday–time flies!  Not only does it seem as if she were born only a few days ago but that’s the same year we headed across the border into Canada and on to ride the ferries with Larry and Geri up the coast of Alaska.

Lonn along with Katie and family live on a ranch about 10 miles from us as the crow flies–oh, that we could fly! The road trip takes us about 45 minutes–the road is awful–washboards, rocks, deep holes–it’s a terrible road!  We left Tuesday afternoon in plenty of time to arrive for the birthday party–that is until I discovered I had the cake/ice cream but had left the presents sitting on the living room coffee table.  So, we turned around, went back for the presents and were a few minutes late for the party–and I think we were missing some bolts and nuts from jeep–that road is rough!

Laci and Lora–home from Germany for a couple months.

We enjoyed ribs, some awesome potatoes Laci made, a delicious salad and other yummy foods.  Katie baked a colorful cake for the kiddos–I brought the chocolate cake and homemade vanilla ice cream.

Come on Brooks, help me out here!

We did it!

Uncle Mike trying to help Lora with her new earrings–he looks as if he knows what he is doing! 🙂

Millie is 10 months old, pulling up by herself and is walking behind her push toys–won’t be long before she is walking!

 Playing nicely together!

One cute little guy!

I’ve spent lots of time on the phone the last few days dealing with insurance, home health, etc.  I’ve known for a long, long time that the US healthcare system is broken.  Here’s a prime example–Medicare will pay for a registered nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a social worker to come to the home of a 96 year old man who is at the end of his life–and Medicare will pay for these disciplines to come to the home several times per week if needed.  Nat needs the care of the registered nurse once a week–he does not want nor does he need the other therapists. The going rate for these services–$165/hour–each!!  Now, whether Medicare actually pays that rate to the home health agency supplying all these services I don’t know.  But here’s the part driving me crazy–while they will pay for those services, Medicare will NOT pay the $104 per DAY fee charged by the agency for Nat’s personal care–these kind women who come to his home and make sure he’s clean, in clean clothes and fed.  They are angels who talk to him, tell him stories and give his other caregivers a break.  Yep, our healthcare system is broken.

Our cool weather left–it’s 90 degrees today–UGH!


We Can’t Complain

Yes, we’ve had some 90+ degree days but it’s been just a few.  Saturday we had an awesome high temp of 75 degrees and today we should only reach 70 degrees–I’m loving it!!!  My family in Arkansas is enduring high heat and humidity–as is lots of the country.

Life is just puttering along–Friday we went to Billings for a sorely needed haircut for me–I love my hairdresser, she is very young, 34 years old and has been cutting my hair since she was 20 years old–I’m hoping she cuts hair for a long time!!

When we go to Billings our days are full–not as full as when the Cowboy was working full time and we had to make stops at the electrical supply warehouse, the plumbing supply warehouse, etc.  But our Billings days are still full so anything I can do to reduce stops is a godsend.  Have you tried the Walmart Grocery app and Walmart pickup?? I am in love!!  I sat in the comfort of my chair with my phone and shopped–you can purchase anything the store you are using has in stock–even sliced deli meat, fresh produce, dairy products, etc.  With the app, you create your list and pay using a credit card.  You can add to the list until about 10 hours before your scheduled pickup time.  You chose a pickup time in one hour increments–ours was between 11am and 12pm.  The app is supposed to allow you to “check in” when you are on your way but that feature wasn’t working on Friday.  Instead, we just drove up to the pickup area of the Walmart in Billings and called the number on the sign–in just a few minutes a lady came out with our groceries and other items.  Our cold stuff was all in two separate bags for easy transfer to our coolers.  Done in FIVE minutes!!!  We hadn’t been to Walmart in over a month so my list was long–it would have taken me at least 45 minutes to shop/checkout, maybe longer.  I’m in love!!

We spend time at Nat’s–today we are the relief crew for the caretakers–Barb went to Billings for the day so we will stay with Nat until she returns.

Can you pick watermelons?  I’m a good watermelon picker–my grandfather Idus raised watermelons for sale and he taught us how to pick a good one.  Each summer I usually have about a 95% success rate and I find it’s all in the “thump.”  I do look for watermelons with a yellow spot and brown vein-y lines running from the yellow spot indicating the watermelon has sat on the ground long enough to ripen.  But I find if the “thump” is right, the watermelon is perfectly ripe.  The “thump” with your index finger should sound hollow, not solid and flat.  We purchased two watermelons–I LOVE watermelon–on Friday and the one I’ve sliced is delicious–sweet, sweet!

Smokey Skies

We’ve been fortunate to have no smoke so far this summer–that all changed Wednesday and today has been even worse.  The powers that be tell us the smoke is coming from fires in California and Oregon.  Smokey skies also increase our all ready warm temperatures–it was 94 degrees in Big Timber today.

 No Crazy Mountains visible this morning and a “normal” day photograph of the Crazies below.

No West Boulder mountains visible–if you squint at the photo you can barely see the outline of the mountains.  The below photo is the West Boulder mountains on a “normal” day.

I’m a big believer in birthday celebrations–Tuesday it was our friend Jill’s birthday–Jeane, Jill and I drove to Red Lodge to spend the day shopping and having lunch.  We even took a birthday cake with us–

Wednesday had the Cowboy heading to Lonn’s for more digging–the addition to Katie and Michael’s house is coming along he said.  I stayed home–it was chore day–vacuuming, cooking, laundry, etc.  I did manage to escape to the cool basement for a bit of quilting on Jeane’s adorable little quilt.

Today it was back to town–the Cowboy thought he had fixed Nat’s dryer over the weekend but nope–the fix didn’t hold.  Check your dryer hose and if your dryer is located in the interior of your house, check the pipe which vents the dryer hose to the outside.  Nat’s was almost completely plugged which meant the Cowboy had to spend time under the house in the crawl space–ugh!! He replaced the pipe then we installed the used dryer we found in town–all is well in laundry land now at Nat’s house.

The Cowboy’s daughter Shannen and granddaughter Kristen came from Billings to visit Nat today and we enjoyed having lunch with them.

Here’s hoping for a reprieve from the heat and smoke–I can always hope, right!

As of August 1, I can no longer automatically link the blog to my Facebook profile.  Thank you so much Facebook.  It’s OK–Facebook wants you to create a “page” and would eventually start charging you if the “page” receives too much traffic.  Instead, I will just use another step and insert a link to the blog in a Facebook post on my “page.”




Change Of Pace

I’m thinking today, Monday, was the first day I haven’t driven to Big Timber, Columbus or Livingston in two weeks.  Sunday I relieved the night time nurse aide at noon and spent the rest of the afternoon with Nat until his roomie, Barb came home from her weekend away.

While I should have been doing things such as vacuuming/laundry we took a run up to Moccasin Lake in the CanAm.  It was a beautiful Monday–high 70’s, a little breeze–perfect day for an ATV ride.  Enjoyed every minute–the smell of evergreen and wildflowers, butterflies everywhere, sunshine and the grasses are still green.

They grow cherries in Montana–do you find that surprising??–I did but later learned the climate around Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana is conducive for growing excellent cherries.  A local young woman has an uncle who owns a cherry tree orchard near Flathead Lake.  Every year she takes orders for 18 pound boxes of cherries for $40–we picked up our cherries Saturday afternoon–they are outstanding as usual!! And yes, we manage to eat the whole box–they really keep well in the refrigerator!

This pretty boy was hanging out in our hay field one morning last week.

Nat had a good day–the four hour per day caretakers started this morning.  The woman who came today, Nikki, is a native of our community.  She and Nat had lots to discuss! 🙂


Progress Of Sorts

It’s been an incredibly busy, hard week but there’s always a glorious sunset to make the days brighter.  Some areas of Montana and Wyoming have had severe thunderstorms with high winds and golf ball sized hail–in our area we’ve just had wind and a little rain.

On Wednesday we met with the home health agency–what a fabulous group of women–and one of that group came Friday at 8pm to spend the night with Nat.  Barb has been holding down the fort and doing well but she had planned an overnight trip this weekend when our plan had been to admit Nat to the nursing home.  We didn’t want Barb to cancel her plans so we punted–the home health agency stepped up to the plate for last minute help and the Cowboy and I are doing the rest.  The home health aides will start Monday coming for four hours every day.

On Thursday I took Nat to the doctor at our local clinic for an issue brought on by constantly sitting–Nat does not sleep in a bed, he sleeps sitting in a recliner.  The doctor wanted the wound care nurse from the nursing home to call us and for the occupational therapist to contact us.  No calls on Thursday, no calls on Friday and now it’s the weekend.  Nat was in pain so I took matters into my own registered nurse hands–I called my dear friend Jane who has more recent actual nursing experience than I do and started trying to find the products she recommended.  Nope, Amazon to the rescue but the stuff won’t be delivered until Tuesday.

Nat loves milkshakes and as he is eating very little we try to have him eat/drink stuff he really likes–I made a stop at our local pharmacy/soda fountain for milkshakes.  While waiting I strolled the aisles and talked to the pharmacy technician–we came up with a plan–and I purchased items for Nat’s issue.  Came home, applied my fix and for the first time in days Nat was pain free, sitting comfortably, and was more alert.  See, old nurses never forget!

Back to Nat’s today–the night nurse aide is staying until noon and we will take over until another aide comes at 8pm tonight.  We fill our time talking to Nat, the Cowboy did some weed whacking and I did some major cleaning.

And another bright spot–I entered my Winter Solstice quilt in our local 4H county fair–




What A Day

But let’s talk about something fun first–eight years ago today we had a fabulous wedding and party–our granddaughter Katie married Michael.

Six years later they had this sweet/funny little guy–

then just 10 months ago this chubby, sweet, adorable little girl came along–and she is trying to walk at 10 months.

I’m thinking she likes her food!

Laci and Lora are here and Aunt Katie is trying to make a cowgirl out of Lora–

Now let’s talk about our day–yesterday I called the administrator of the current in the running nursing home.  To say the least I wasn’t impressed–he was so busy, he had so many meetings, he had been on vacation for two weeks–and couldn’t meet with me yesterday–Monday.  So, I scheduled an appointment with him at 10am today, Tuesday.  The Cowboy and I drove over to Livingston after leaving Emmi with Nat and Barb.  The administrator was a no show–can you believe that?????  Who in their right mind would throw away that kind of money–the business office lady had told me they have 115 beds and only 50 of them are occupied at this time.  We are talking six figures per year buster!!!  Good grief!!

So–now we are on a totally different track–the no show guy made our decision easier by far!  The Cowboy and I were struggling after my visits to the nursing homes–no one wants to put a loved one in most of those places.  Several months ago on Facebook I surveyed our community about available home health care options.  One name kept cropping up–a newer, non hospital affiliated agency which had personnel in Big Timber.  I actually even called them but our family member’s choice was the nursing home. We have a good friend who uses this agency to provide 24 hour care for her mother in her own home–Sarah raves about them.

The Cowboy and I made a choice for our family member today. For the time being he is going to stay in his own home with his roommate/caretaker and have daily home health care at a cost not even close to what the nursing home would charge.  And I would bet much better care!

Throughout all this struggle there have been bright spots–Nat has lived in this community since he was three years old–everyone knows him.  The local bank sent two ladies to his home this week to notarize paperwork.  Today his attorney made a house call to complete paperwork.  I love our community!

So, that’s our day–life is still good.

Life Has Been Busy

Busy and difficult.  We are in the midst of making some difficult decisions about a loved one’s care and it’s taking all the time we have.  Life is not only busy at times but very hard!

Since we’ve been home from our little RV/ATV adventure we have been on the go.  Last Saturday we unpacked the truck camper and took the camper off the truck.  Sunday the Cowboy worked on the equipment he would need for the coming week and I puttered–made a huge batch of chicken enchiladas–YUM!

Monday the Cowboy headed to Lonn’s–they are adding an addition to Katie and Michael’s home on the ranch–Grandpa was the chief “digger.”  The Cowboy went to Lonn’s every day this week–big project!

I’ve spent many hours on the road this week–I’ve been to town and towns beyond town every day this week to research nursing home/long term care options.  My car could probably drive the Boulder Road without me these days!

Friday afternoon the Cowboy came home early and we once again drove to Big Timber (second trip for me). We had some bank business to do and it was the inaugural Friday evening farmers market for our community.  Vendors, fresh veggies, plants, baked goods, music and food.  Lots of people attended this first time event and it was fun to see friends and neighbors!

The Cowboy was cooking Friday evening (as in he was taking me out to dinner!) and we knew Lonn and the gang were also in town.  We joined the rest of the family at the Grand–one of my most favorite places to eat–and had a wonderful evening!  Six adults and three munchkins–there was the potential for chaos but all went well and we even ate in the fancy dining room!  Laci and Lora are home from Germany and this was the first time we had seen them.  The Cowboy’s great uncles owned the Grand Hotel back in the late 1800’s, losing the hotel by betting it on a horse race!

Today–Saturday–the Cowboy worked on our cattle guards–some of the rails were bent and needed welding.  I sprayed two tanks of weed spray and I’m done, finished, will do no more spraying of weeds this season!

And that is life here in Montana this week–

The Last Of Our Adventure

July 12-13,  2018

The Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City, Montana is one of the most spectacular drives in the US.  Larry and Geri have traveled all over this country in their RV but had never been over the Beartooth Highway.  Thursday we took a tour.  First stop was the observation area–I have countless photos of friends and family taken at this very spot– The road climbs and climbs with switchbacks galore.  As you near the summit you cross into Wyoming–

and you see the “beartooth.”–that  pointed spire in the below photo.

That’s a lot of snow for July 12!  It’s tradition for the road crews to have the Beartooth Highway plowed by Memorial Day each year and it usually happens. Every year it seems a tourist or two will ignore the “road closed” signs and the signage on most maps which marks the Beartooth Highway as a “closed in winter” road.  So far tourists have been lucky enough to be rescued once they’ve buried their car in a snow drift and have little or no supplies.

There is a store near the summit named “Top Of The World.”  The store is open year round and accessed during winter via snow machines from the Wyoming side of the highway.  The highway intersects with the road to Cooke City and the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway–another gorgeous drive.  We were hungry and there are several spots in Cooke City with outdoor patios–we had Emmi along of course.  Our burgers were good as was the entertainment–a buffalo had decided to take a looong stroll out of Yellowstone Park to visit Cooke City.  How would you like to step outside in the morning to find a buffalo on your lawn???? After lunch we drove into Yellowstone Park and out into the Lamar Valley–it’s baby buffalo time in the park–

Time to head back over the Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge and our RVs.  Our biggest “WOW” came as we were over the pass and heading down toward Red Lodge–  We were total tourists, parked by the road, out of the truck on the opposite side of the highway snapping photos. WOW!

Friday the 13th it was ATV riding time and we had no idea there was such beautiful/spectacular/stupendous country around Red Lodge!!

 Geri said, “you ride and ride thinking you are out in the middle of nowhere at this elevation then you top and hill and find this–three pickup trucks and multiple ATVs!!    The Beartooth Highway on the other side of the river.

It was a wonderful ride!!  Back at the rigs the heat had found us again–not as drastic but still hot.  We joined Larry and Geri in their rig for dinner and watched a woman driving an SUV pulling an older travel trailer park very near our rig.  Out tumbled two kids and a puppy.  Visions of late night laughing and chasing plus a smokey campfire for roasting marshmallows had the Cowboy and me nervous! We had all planned to depart Saturday morning when Larry and Geri said, “isn’t it just two hours to your house from here, why don’t you go tonight?”  The heat and resulting noisy air conditioner plus our new neighbors made us say, “now why didn’t we think of that???”  It’s easy to ready a truck camper for departure, the CanAm was loaded and we were off–arriving home about 9pm.

It was a fabulous adventure, we survived the heat and enjoyed seeing Larry and Geri so much!  Thanks for following along with us!