Definite Change In The Weather

My sister Ann just sent me a text–they have arrived back in Arkansas and it’s HOT there, 90 degrees–she asked if they could come back to Montana.  Well, it’s not hot here–nasty cold wind and 38 degrees.  During the night it rained and rained–this morning we woke to a bit of snow.  Big Timber received about 4 inches of heavy wet snow causing lots of tree and plant damage.  But, we still aren’t complaining–after the nasty summer we had, this weather is a welcome relief!

In 2008 I bought the bread cookbook–Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day and began baking lots of bread.  One of the tools for baking bread with that artisan, crunchy crust is a baking stone.  I had a Pampered Chef stone but it didn’t last long cracking right down the middle.  In 2009 I purchased a thicker stone from and have been using it frequently.  Wednesday night we had homemade pizza and I told Ann, I think my baking stone is cracking–

Yep, time for a new one again.

The Cowboy has puttered most of the day–packing stuff for Arizona.  We took a walk down to the mailbox both of us bundled up as if it was really cold–our blood must have thinned???  I worked in the quilt studio making binding for another quilt I’ve finished and I made a quilted pouch for our spotting scope.

There’s a big pot of chili simmering on the stove and bread rising–supper smells wonderful!  More photos from our trip to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.

The Missouri River.



Elk and Grand Babies

Monday morning we puttered–Danny and Ann took a drive up the East Boulder and when they came back we enjoyed the leftover chicken enchiladas.  After lunch we headed north of Lewistown to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and the Slippery Anne elk viewing area.  We were a touch too early in the evening for elk viewing and stopped in at the James Kipp BLM campground for a little picnic dinner.

The elk didn’t disappoint–if you call the refuge “elk hotline” you will hear a recorded voice telling you how many elk have been sighted in the viewing area–when I called the “elk hotline” just before leaving home I heard, “200 elk in the viewing area.”  We didn’t count but let’s just say there were a bunch of elk–bulls bugling and grunting, cows milling around–awesome!

When it begin to get so dark we couldn’t see the elk we ventured off to find our cabins at Zortman dodging what seemed to be thousands of deer eating by the road–nerve racking.  But even more nerve racking–our “thoroughly modernized built in 1930’s cabins.”

If the drive to Zortman had not been so nerve wracking while dodging all those deer in Danny and Ann’s nice rental SUV we would have all said “no thank you” and gone back to Lewistown (70 miles) or all the way home!  Those cabins were awful, disgusting, gross, dirty–I took our beds completely apart searching for bed bugs and we both declined to shower in that icky tub!  Sleep eluded me that night!  We declined to complain–any comments we might have made about the condition of those cabins would go right over the head of anyone who actually thought the cabins were “thoroughly modernized”!!!!!!!

We left our wonderful accommodations early Tuesday morning stopping for breakfast in Lewistown.  Back home Ann and I prepared dinner to take over to Lonn’s.  Laci and Lora are here for an extended visit and I wanted to introduce Danny and Ann to our great grand babies.  Plus Katie and her husband Mike had celebrated birthdays this past week–so chocolate birthday cake was on the menu!

 Ann and Lora enjoying a tea party.

Our weather has been rainy/snowy and chilly–fall is definitely in the air!  Danny and Ann left early this morning for another scenic drive toward Red Lodge.  The Cowboy went to help Lonn and Mike vaccinate some calves and I stayed home to catch up on chores.

Life if good!

Arkansas Visitors

We are so grateful for clear skies and cool temperatures! It began raining Wednesday night and rained/snowed off and on until Saturday morning–over two inches in the rain gauge!  As the skies began to clear we could see the snow came close to landing at our house!While on Vancouver Island this summer our friend and neighbor Shirley had a significant birthday–one of those with a zero.  Shirley’s daughter Jeanne and our friend Nancy planned a belated birthday celebration for mid September expecting our usual gorgeous Indian summer weather.  Mother Nature did not cooperate but not a word of complaint about rain/snow/cold temps was heard at that party–after our summer of heat, fires and smoke.  Members of the family rounded up a large tent to protect us from the elements–the food was great and the company wonderful.

Friday we spent the day in Billings–Emmi stays home with Nat during summer heat but temps were so cool on Friday she went along for the ride.  Saturday morning was spent putting the finishing touches on visitor preparations–baking cookies and a batch of chicken enchiladas, last minute cleaning, etc.  My sister Ann and her husband Danny arrived about 5:30pm.

On their drive from the airport over the back road they spotted this sow and three cubs–Danny said the cubs moved into the under brush too quickly and missed being in the photo.

The sun came out on Sunday giving us a gorgeous day and snow sprinkled mountains–Danny took this first photo, I just forgot to remove my watermark.

Danny and Ann drove up the Boulder looking for wildlife while the Cowboy and I stayed home to putter.  They were back by about 2pm and we sat down to a wonderful steak late lunch/early dinner.  We’ve taken walks, toured our former home and just visited.  They will be with us until Thursday evening.  Other visitors are arriving today at Lonn’s–our granddaughter Laci and great granddaughter Lora are coming from Germany for a long visit!

Image may contain: 1 person, closeupOn the airplane–heading to Montana!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, childIn Montana–I think Brooks was glad to see his cousin!


Equifax Security Breach and Freezing Your Credit

Surely our readers have heard of the Equifax security breach???  The breach happened sometime between mid-May and July.  Equifax discovered the hack on July 29 and can you believe–they didn’t inform the public until September 7!  Disgusting!

How did this happen??

Equifax failed to promptly install a security fix to a flaw found in a web application tool used by many major corporations, experts said.

Hackers took advantage of that window, which lasted at least two months, to penetrate the company’s digital defenses. That allowed them to gain access to the personal data of up to 143 million people. The hackers seized names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and even some driver’s license information.(USA Today, September 15, 2017)

This stolen information isn’t like a credit card–when your credit card is stolen, you call the company and the card is canceled.  The information stolen from Equifax is perpetually valuable–you are not going to change your name, date of birth or social security number–that information will stay the same, now and five years from now.  While you may not be impacted right at this moment, trouble could rear its ugly head in six months, a year, five years. This massive breach means you must be on guard, watching your credit cards, bank accounts and credit reports literally forever.

Equifax has offered a free credit monitoring service in an effort to pacify consumers.  Equifax originally said by signing up you opt into arbitration and waive your right to take part in a class-action lawsuit for the credit monitoring service. But this waiver didn’t apply to the breach at large. It later dropped the restrictions for the free credit-monitoring service, saying customers who sign up because of the data breach are not subjected to the clause and would not be prevented from joining class-action suits. (Consumer Reports, September 12, 2017)

In 2007 the state of Montana passed legislation allowing consumers to freeze their credit.  In August of 2007, the Cowboy and I froze our credit with all three credit reporting agencies–Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

With the hacked information the thieves could possibly open a new credit card in your name, obtain a mortgage, buy a new car, etc.  To limit your exposure, freeze your credit.  It is then nearly impossible for anyone to obtain new credit in your name.

How do I freeze my credit:

You must contact each credit bureau for each person in your family.

Equifax: Call 1-800-349-9960 or visit

Experian: Call 1‑888‑397‑3742 or visit

TransUnion — Call 1-888-909-8872 or visit

Innovis — Call 1-800-540-2505 or visit

What does it cost:

“These figures reflect the combined costs to freeze your credit record at all three national credit bureaus. We show two costs to freeze due to the fact that Equifax, following its massive breach of customer data, has announced a waiver of its fees for the time being. The higher figure reflects the total costs if and when that waiver is lifted, which isn’t expected until at least early October.

You will not pay in any state to freeze your credit should you actually have suffered a credit fraud incident–that is, fraudulent credit was obtained in your name, and you reported that fact. A police report may be required to receive the waiver.” (

State Freeze (during waiver) Freeze (after waiver) Temporary Unfreeze
Alabama $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Alaska $10.00 $15.00 $6.00
Arizona $10.00 $15.00 $15.00
Arkansas $10.00 $15.00 $15.00
California $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Colorado $0.00 $0.00 $30.00
Connecticut $20.64 $20.64 $20.64
Delaware $20.00 $30.00 $0.00
District of Columbia $20.00 $30.00 $0.00
Florida $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Georgia $6.00 $9.00 $9.00
Hawaii $10.20 $15.20 $15.20
Idaho $12.00 $18.00 $18.00
Illinois $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Indiana $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Iowa $20.00 $30.00 $36.00
Kansas $10.00 $15.00 $15.00
Kentucky $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Louisiana $20.00 $30.00 $24.00
Maine $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Maryland $10.00 $15.00 $15.00
Massachusetts $10.00 $15.00 $15.00
Michigan $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Minnesota $10.00 $15.00 $15.00
Mississippi $20.00 $30.00 $20.00
Missouri $10.00 $15.00 $15.00
Montana $6.00 $9.00 $9.00
Nebraska $6.00 $9.00 $9.00
Nevada $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
New Hampshire $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
New Jersey $0.00 $0.00 $15.00
New Mexico $20.50 $30.50 $10.25
New York $0.00 $0.00 $15.00
North Carolina $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
North Dakota $10.00 $15.00 $15.00
Ohio $10.00 $15.00 $15.00
Oklahoma $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Oregon $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Pennsylvania $20.70 $30.70 $30.70
Puerto Rico $21.15 $31.15 $31.15
Rhode Island $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
South Carolina $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
South Dakota $20.60 $30.60 $30.60
Tennessee $15.00 $22.50 $0.00
Texas $20.83 $30.83 $30.83
Utah $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Vermont $20.00 $30.00 $10.00
Virginia $20.00 $30.00 $0.00
Washington $20.95 $30.95 $30.95
West Viriginia $10.30 $15.30 $15.30
Wisconsin $20.00 $30.00 $30.00
Wyoming $20.00 $30.00 $30.00

(Chart from

So–in Montana, we pay $3 to each of the three major credit reporting bureaus to freeze our credit.  And we pay $3 to each credit reporting bureau to unfreeze our credit.

How do you thaw your credit:

When you apply for insurance, a mortgage, a new account at say Verizon, a new credit card, etc. you will need to “thaw” your credit.  You do not have to contact each of the three major credit bureaus, only the one the business uses to check client credit reports.  In all the times we have had to thaw our credit for a temporary period, I have asked which credit agency is being used and the business has told me–allowing us to thaw/pay one credit agency, not all three.

I’ve also told each business needing to thaw my credit I would only thaw our credit for a limited time–24 to 48 hours.  In my opinion, that gives any business plenty of time to check our credit and the time frame limits our exposure to dirtbag hackers.  With that said, if you are applying for a mortgage–you just might need to “thaw” for a longer period of time???

After contacting each credit bureau in writing of our intent to freeze our credit and paying the fee we each received by mail a “pin number.”  Now, when contacting the credit bureau of choice to thaw our credit, we provide that pin and the length of time we want the credit thawed.  Remember we froze our credit in 2007–way before the internet became so useful–the “freezing” process may be more streamlined now.

So, that’s our take on the latest and potentially dangerous personal information hack–we do not find it difficult to “thaw” our credit–a little time consuming but well worth it in our opinion.


More Restoration And A Recipe

The Cowboy has been working diligently!  And more diligently!  He has two theories as to where the water entered the storage bay–one is a roof seam, the other the bay door.  We feel certain it must be a structural issue as the previous owners stated they had not used the rig in two years, we only used it the one time and the damage was done by the time we used it–we just didn’t know how bad the damage was!  The Cowboy spent a lot of time inside that bay yesterday!  Today he moved the trailer closer to the garage with the skidsteer and welded floor supports to the existing frame work underneath the trailer.  That was a HOT, miserable job!!

I was able to attend yoga this morning–I wish I had a yoga teacher for every day–I feel so good after all that stretching!  Lunch was a new to us recipe.  The Cowboy and I don’t particularly like Chinese restaurants but we both like certain Chinese or Thai food.  I follow a Facebook site which leads to a website–Pressure Cooking Today.  A recipe for Pressure Cooker Beef and Broccoli appeared recently and I had everything on hand to make this dish except the broccoli.  And any one who knows the Cowboy would know that wouldn’t be an issue–he isn’t eating any broccoli! I used a sirloin steak instead of the beef chuck roast as that’s what I had.  I used chicken broth instead of beef–again it’s what I had and I had just opened a container of it yesterday.  The recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and I upped it to 1/4 teaspoon–just right.  I served the beef over rice and it was a hit!

I’m not a fan of recipes which require special ingredients or spices–I have a well stocked pantry and like to use what I have on hand.  I seldom buy a special spice/oil/vinegar, etc.–if we don’t like the dish then I’m stuck with an ingredient which won’t be used.

The weather forecast tells us this is our last hot day and rain/snow is coming–that’s OK by us!  There is a new fire north of Big Timber in the Crazy Mountains–come on rain and snow!

I loaded my LAST quilt top onto the longarm this afternoon–I had a stack of quilt tops I’d pieced over the last few years and made it my goal to quilt those tops this summer–the last one is on the frame!  I’ve been hand sewing the binding on the all ready quilted ones–that’s a lot of hand sewing!

Unexpected Restoration

Saturday morning dawned with mostly clear skies, no smoke, only a little haze.  Today has been the same–I can’t describe to you what a relief it is.  Our weather forecast for this coming week is shaping up to be a normal mid-September forecast–rain and possibly snow in the higher elevations.  Just take a look at those end of the week temps!!

Look–we have mountains again!!!

The Cowboy finished the flooring project in the toyhauler–I haven’t cleaned yet–so no photos, soon!  He decided to tackle another issue which we knew about–a soft spot in the flooring of the front bay.  The young man who sold us the trailer pointed out this soft spot–he had simply laid a sheet of diamond plate metal over the soft spot.  But when the Cowboy removed the linoleum, he found a much, much bigger problem!

Wet, moldy OSB, soaking wet OSB!!!  As in water had been standing in that bay compartment forever!

That’s a PUDDLE folks–a dang puddle in the below photo!!!

The Cowboy spent several hours trying to track down the source of a leak without success.  No leaking pipes or drains that he could find.  No roof leaks which would have allowed water to run down the seams into the bay. The door of this bay is very ill fitting and the Cowboy thinks maybe rain might have been coming in that door for a long time–that’s a waterproof sheeting under the OSB so the water had no where to go.  We are still not sure but I’m betting the Cowboy finds and fixes it, how about you guys???

Nat and Barb came for lunch–steaks, mashed potatoes and home grown green beans–delicious!  For dessert, homemade vanilla ice cream with toppings.  We have an elderly neighbor just down the road with an excellent green thumb.  Beth called me on Saturday saying she had a couple bags of orphan vegetables needing a home–I was glad to give them a home!  Cucumbers, squash, peppers, green beans and green tomatoes–Beth said, “since you are from the south I figured you would know how to cook fried green tomatoes.”  And I did–it’s what I had for supper Saturday night–and I didn’t have to share–the Cowboy wanted no part of fried green tomatoes! 🙂

If I sit here I am sure someone will come along and kick that ball–I just know it!

Would You Believe It Is Still Smokey

“Above normal precipitation is favored for areas of the … Northern and Central Rockies,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Maryland-based Climate Prediction Center said this week in its 6-10 day forecast. It made the same prediction for 8-14 days and 3-4 weeks out.

“I would say the confidence in that is increasing by the day,”  said Dan Zumpfe, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Missoula.”  from the Missoulian.   The article went on to say that the magic words, “fire season ending event,” have not been uttered but we can hope, can’t we!

Wednesday, Thursday and today the smoke has been horrific–if you didn’t all ready know, we wouldn’t be able to tell we lived in the mountains.  Over one million acres have burned so far, homes have been destroyed and people have died.  We so need that “fire season ending event!”

The moon as it was going down.

And another fiery red sunset–

Thursday we spent the day in Billings–lunch, a routine doctor’s appointment for the Cowboy and a major Costco run.

The Cowboy has made great progress in the toyhauler–the flooring is installed and he is finishing up the trim work. Once all his tools are out and I’ve cleaned I’ll take some photos of his restoration project.

From our ride on Tuesday.

My sister and I are planning a trip to the Outer Banks early next summer.  We are searching for a rental home–have any of our readers ever stayed in a rental you would recommend in the Outer Banks?  Do any of you have a favorite area??  We are favoring the southern area of the OB’s as we understand it’s much less crowded???


Visitors And A Ride

Almost seventeen month old little boys move way too fast for this Mimi to capture with the camera–Brooks brought his parents and Grandpa to dinner last night and he was the star attraction.  Mom Katie is about a month from producing Brooks a brother or sister–not sure how little Brooks is going to feel about that but the rest of us are excitedly waiting!

We still have smoke and Montana is still on fire but we decided to take a road trip/ATV ride today on Picket Pin Road into Placer Basin.  It was 39 degrees at our house this morning and at this elevation–

we were all wearing coats all day, even Emmi!

For some reason the small area of Montana where we were riding was mostly smoke free–but our views were smokey!

Perfect weather and perfect company–it was a great day!

 Katie had to work today 😦 and Brooks needed to see his friends at daycare!

Mike, Katie’s husband must have felt the need for exercise after lunch!

Our mountain goat–Ms. Emmi.

We enjoyed lunch in the yard of a friend’s cabin, rode to the top of the mountain then headed back to the trucks and home–it was a long, but great day to be out, even if it was smokey!



The Battle Continues

You might live in Montana…If you download 5 weather apps in the hope that one of them will say it’s going to rain soon. 😦

Four thousand firefighters, 125 aircraft and 350 Montana National Guard troops are battling wildfires this summer that have scorched almost 700,000 acres.  There is no end in sight–no rain in the next ten day forecast.  Here at our house we are in a cloud of smoke, eye burning, coughing, stinky smoke.  I can’t even begin to imagine what the firefighters and those living closer to the fires are enduring.  Evacuations are ongoing in many areas of Montana and new evacuations are occurring as I write this blog.

And then there is this news story which made me have cold chills–remembering the 19 firefighters who lost their lives in Yarnell, Arizona.  Near Seeley Lake on Saturday the Liberty fire experienced several rapid wind shifts and gusts causing embers to cross the firelines.  Sixteen firefighters from a hand crew and crew members from an engine found themselves caught between the main fire and spot fires. Fire managers report that 13 of the firefighters were able to escape east and out into a meadow, designated as a safety zone, next to Liberty Creek.  Three other firefighters attempted to escape downhill towards the Liberty Creek Road where engines were parked. The firefighters made it to the road but found themselves surrounded by heavy smoke and fire. Initial reports indicated the firefighters started to deploy their fire shelters when a fortunate shift in the wind cleared the air long enough for the firefighters to locate an escape route and make their way to safety. All 16 firefighters are safe and accounted for with no injuries, according to fire managers. The 13 in the Safe Zone in the meadow north of Liberty Creek were picked up by helicopter. After being medically assessed by a fireline EMT, all 16 were taken back to the Incident Command Post in Arlee. (story from KPAX in Missoula, MT)

Today’s view toward the west Boulder.


The “normal” view–taken in spring of 2013.
This photo was taken at 9am this morning–that’s the sun, not the moon!!

This fire season has been compounded by a lack of rainfall with August ending as one of the direst months on record, creating extremely dangerous situations.  And while I would like to propose a “no campfires” rule for Montana every summer, the majority of these fires were started by lightening–something out of our control.

A few days ago, historic Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park burned in spite of all efforts by fire fighting crews.

Sperry Chalet was built in 1913 by James J. and son Louis Hill of the Great Northern Railway, the prime developer of Glacier National Park. Listed as an Historic Landmark, these rustic buildings, built of native rock, have survived their rugged environment relatively unchanged for over 90 years. (quote and photo from the Glacier National Park website)

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature
Photo borrowed from Glacier National Park Facebook site.
From the Montana Inciweb site.

I’m still searching for a weather report which will tell me rain/snow is on the way!! 😦

From Around The World

Instead of the usual blog–complaining about the smoke and fires, our readers will have a treat tonight.

Earlier today the phone rang, it was the Cowboy’s cousin Pat calling–he was in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by.  He brought photos of his recent summer trip to visit with his daughter Julia who is an archaeologist in Mongolia of all places!

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Pat and Julia in Yellowstone Park













Pat traveled to Mongolia this summer to go with Julia and her group of teachers and students from all around the world on an archaeological field school expedition.  Julia, who has a Ph.D. in archaeology is the cultural heritage coordinator for the American Center of Mongolian Studies in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Pat said they were truly out in the middle of nowhere, 50 miles from the Siberian border.  His photos were awesome– This blue tarped truck carried all their supplies–yurts, etc.  Pat said the truck quit running in the middle of the river, one of the guides crawled out on the fender, raised the hood, fiddled with something and the truck ran again.

The valley where they were staying

Pat is quite the furniture builder, his tools were a touch rustic for furniture building!  But in spite of rustic tools Pat built some serviceable furniture.

He built this bench outside one of the yurts they used for housing.

He also built this bench and stool–out in the middle of nowhere but with a generator and modern day technology.

And Dr. Julia in traditional Mongolian dress.

Julia was just a youngster the last time I saw her–she’s come/gone a long ways since then.  It’s always great to see Pat–he too leads an interesting life!