Dear Friends

Before I married the Cowboy I lived in Powell, Wyoming and was the Director of Nursing for the small hospital. One of the nurses who worked at the hospital–Jane–and her family became part of my family. Jane’s husband died in 2017 and she has remarried–a delightful man–Paul. They are bicycle riders and were heading to Idaho for a week of riding the Idaho Rails to Trails route. Jane and Paul stopped by to spend a couple nights with us. They have their RV and the bicycles plus the only dog Emmi has ever actually played with–Lacy. You should see the two of them romping all over the fields chasing each other!

There are friends in life who you may not see often or even talk to every day but when you are together it’s as if you’ve never been apart. Jane is one of those friends–and I love her dearly. We’ve talked and laughed so hard this weekend. And eaten well!

We took them to Natural Bridge on Saturday early enough in the day that the area wasn’t over run with people. The people we did see were exceptionally polite, stepping way back from the trail to give everyone space. The Boulder River is low right now and the falls aren’t spectacular but it’s still a beautiful area.

We had beautiful weather over the weekend but starting tomorrow for several days the temps are in the miserable range–UGH!

Jane and Paul rolled down the driveway just after 11am and we’ve been puttering. Emmi gets so agitated when I trim her fur–so today I gave her half a haircut–the front half. She isn’t going anywhere nor participating in any beauty events so I will get to the other half of the haircut on Tuesday. The Cowboy has been working on the floor in the motorhome–it had some soft spots from previous water damage and he is going to fix those.

Life is good.

 

 

Storms and Smoke

Reading has always been one of the joys in my life, even as a child. I love libraries and have always frequented them wherever I go. Being able to read books obtained online has definitely changed the way I read and I’m grateful. Don’t get me wrong, as anyone does I love to hold a book in my hand, it gives me such a good feeling to see a new book waiting on my chair side table. But, all those years I traveled, it would have been great if I could have just downloaded a new book after finishing one. I might not have had that epic panic attack on a long airline flight if another book had been available to me after finishing the one I brought.

I read using both methods now, probably more online than actual books. My friend Kelly is a must have the book in my hand reader and kindly shares her read books with me and I then pass them on to someone else. A large box is on its way to me and I can’t wait! I just started reading A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler. I’ve been on the waiting list at the Pima County Library system in Arizona for months for this book, placing a hold back in February or March. Granddaughter Katie (a teacher) vehemently dislikes online reading but to each their own I say to her–living as remotely as we do on both ends of the country and during a pandemic–online reading fits the bill.

I’ve been manufacturing masks again–this time for Katie and the kiddos. Katie is a teacher and her school was initially mandating masks and face shields. They have now backed off the face shield requirement–how would you like to teach school in this get up in an non air conditioned school building when our temps are up near 90 degrees every day??

The Cowboy left Tuesday morning heading to Livingston to pick up Sarge–seven of the guys who graduated high school were gathering in White Sulphur Springs. They were to have spent two nights coming home on Thursday. One of the guys was under the weather and the Cowboy brought him home today. Tuesday I went to Livingston also and had one of the best lunches I’ve had in a long, long time! Sarah and I ate at Big Sky Thai–the food was outstanding! I ordered two entrees so I could bring one home and not have to cook for myself–it was awesome–such a welcome change from our normal dining out options. We sat outside enjoying our meals and the company.

It’s the season for daily fire starting thunderstorms. Tuesday evening we had one heck of a storm dumping a half inch of rain in less than fifteen minutes. The wind blew and our whole valley filled with thick, eye burning smoke from a fire over on the Montana/Idaho border. I couldn’t sleep with the windows open, it was just too smokey but it did make for a beautiful sky as the sun was going down.

Sandhills chattering as Emmi and I walked this morning.

A Social Weekend

The Cowboy stumbled upon this post in Google News–Why We’re Quitting RV Life After Five Years.  Some of the points the author made have certainly hit home this summer in Montana. The USFS campgrounds are packed as are any boondocking spots you might find. Our kids went “up the Boulder” last weekend and were amazed to find the area totally packed with people and campers. It’s the new normal right now.

Friends we’ve met through blogging and RVing-Jerry and Wanda were in Yellowstone National Park and cut their visit short–way too many people. It’s usually crowded in the Park almost all the time–but not like this.

We’ve had some really hot days this past week but it’s cooler now–a welcome relief since the addition of air conditioning to our home didn’t materialize! 😩

We’ve been busy, a couple unexpected trips to Billings, yard work, selling stuff.  All the Cowboy’s hard work repainting that stock trailer paid off–it went down the driveway Saturday afternoon. I’ve been knitting and today I’m going back to the mask making factory. Granddaughter Katie (one of our family’s teachers) is going back to work on Thursday. Her school is requiring masks and face shields. The greats are heading to Catholic preschool and masks are not required–yet.

Our granddaughter Laci and great granddaughter Lora made it back to Germany just in time to celebrate Lora’s sixth birthday–again–we had a party in Montana before they left. Laci and John decided to live off base in Germany and have been blessed to rent from a couple who also live right next door to them. This couple and their daughter adore Lora and the rest of the family so much they’ve almost adopted them! They organized a fabulous treasure hunt for Lora’s birthday–

It’s been a social weekend! Friday evening we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Geoff and Nancy’s with friends–outside on their beautiful patio overlooking the river. And Sunday evening we enjoyed another gathering of friends at Shirley’s on her screened porch with the sound of the river in the background. Life is indeed good–Covid or no Covid!

Dog Days Of Summer

On Monday evening we had wind and showers–no accumulation–but our temperatures dropped. Tuesday was a cooler day but it’s not to last–it’s the dreaded dog days of summer I guess. Our attempt at ordering mini split air conditioning/heating units from Amazon was a total failure. We ordered the same exact units from another company for our Arizona house and the transaction was seamless. This company was a total dud!!

I am so glad I taught myself to knit–it gives me such pleasure. Here’s a photo of my latest completion–a Booga Bag. Don’t ask me why it’s called a Booga Bag–I have no idea! This one wasn’t just a straight knit and purl operation–it involved techniques which led to lots of YouTube video watching.

The Cowboy has been working on our little motorhome again trying to stop the squeaking and rattling. I admit that this time I was a bit worried about his ability to make all the pieces fit again! I’ve been resting my knee, doing very little except keeping us fed and our clothes clean. The rest of the time I’ve been icing the knee and knitting. The Cowboy isn’t motoring very well either at this point in time so Emmi walks have been shortened.

The Patchwork Times Judy shared this recipe not long ago for chile relleno casserole and the Cowboy was thrilled! You see, he thinks the only thing served in Mexican restaurants is chile rellenoes–it’s the only thing he ever orders!😁 This casserole was seriously good! Perhaps a bit too cheesy but really good!

My day lilies are finally blooming–

So, nothing much is going on, still isolating, still cooking, still knitting.

Least Favorite Month

The dog days of summer–ugh! August just might be my least favorite month. It’s so hot and dry in Montana–our days are in the 90’s. Too hot to do anything except hibernate inside a house with the air conditioner running–if we had an air conditioner! Seems our mini split units ordered from Amazon are lost in transit. By 5pm our house temperature is 80 degrees–time to head to the basement! Too hot to go for ATV rides, yep, my least favorite month.

Thursday the Cowboy joined Sarge and Royal for a trip up into the mountains around White Sulphur Springs, Montana checking out the trails in preparation for their yearly gathering. He was gone from early morning to evening–rare for my introverted Cowboy.

Friday I made a run to Livingston for odds and ends and was pleased to see everyone was wearing a mask. The town was crowded as it usually is in summer but everyone was respectful of space and wearing a mask.

Speaking of masks, I’ve been sewing again whipping up a few masks to send home with the Germany living granddaughter. Their time is coming to an end in Germany and I had planned to visit them this fall–guess that’s not happening. Plus my sewing machines are in the basement–cooler!

The Cowboy has been working outside–mostly in the shade–on his stock trailer project and finished it before lunch on Sunday.

Sunday evening we celebrated the great granddaughter Lora’s birthday a few days early–she and her Mom are flying back to Germany on Wednesday🥺. Dinner at Lonn’s–we had hamburgers on the grill and of course cake and ice cream provided my Mimi–me.

This cake is made using a recipe from the files of my friend Jeane who with her husband Steve owned and operated the Boulder River Guest Ranch for years and years. This cake was served to people having birthdays while staying at the ranch. It’s a three layer cake with whipped cream between the layers and a decadent chocolate frosting. The remainder of the cake remained at Lonn’s house!!

We’ve enjoyed having Laci and Lora here and wish their time had not been cut short by airline issues and Covid. They all went camping up the Boulder the last couple of nights–a good time was had!

 

A Trip With The Grandchildren

Monday morning the wheels were rolling on the little motorhome towing the yellow jeep-jeep (as Millie refers to it) meeting up with our granddaughters Katie and Laci plus their kiddos. We were heading to Woodbine, a USFS campground in the Stillwater River valley about 2 hours from home. Katie and her husband have recently purchased a small towable RV and while Michael doesn’t have much free time in the summer due to work, Katie, Brooks and Millie have been camping a lot. With Laci and Lora visiting from Germany, they are camping even more. Katie is becoming an expert backer of the camper getting it into her campsites without help. We made a last minute reservation so our campsites weren’t close together. Ours bordered one of the little creeks and the kids spent time playing on “our beach.”

Millie Bliss’s expression does NOT fit the saying on her shirt!😍 It was dang hot Monday afternoon! Note the extended jack on the Winnebago–very, very un-level site! Woodbine is a beautiful campground with well spaced sites set at the base of the towering mountains of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. Most of the sites are short in length but there were a few that would fit longer RVs.

Monday evening the kids made a delicious dinner–it was wonderful having someone else do the cooking! Tuesday morning we decided to hike to Woodbine Falls–a short, easy three quarter mile hike. My knee is still giving me grief and I wasn’t going to go but changed my mind at the last minute and went–I was fine. The kiddos were troopers and led the way. People on the trail were respectful of our space and some even wore masks.

A small waterfall before the big one.Oreo, a maltese/yorkie cross is hoping someone drops something, he is only about 16 weeks old and adorable! Brooks is four, Lora will be six soon and Millie Bliss is 2, almost three–she tries so hard to keep up with Brooks and Lora and do everything they do which results in train wrecks at times!!

This is the view of the waterfall from the hike. These next photos are a view of the waterfall from the road into the campground–

Much more impressive from the road! No hike needed! The hike was fun but we had some kiddos who were ready to be done by the time we were all back at the campground–

I provided supper Tuesday night and just about the time I put food on the grill, it began to rain. We all crowded into our motorhome and sat around our curved dinette booth–it worked. The rain continued well into the night–such a pleasant sound, rain on a RV roof!

Because it was still raining Wednesday morning, we all packed up and headed for home–a great time spent with family. Unpacking the motorhome was easy–just the food and clothing. We’ve both been couch potatoes this afternoon. Hot and dry in Montana, a fire has started “up the Boulder” about eight miles out of Big Timber.

 

 

Busy As Usual

Long ago before my time in Montana, the Cowboy purchased a 20 foot gooseneck stock trailer. There are several of the same trailers in our county and they all rusted–very soon after purchase. The company repainted the roof for the Cowboy but over the years the trailer has surface rusted and looked horrible. The Cowboy has decided to sand the trailer–what a job–and repaint it. Sometimes I think he invents work for himself??😁

While we were having lunch Sunday this little guy strolled into our yard, he could see us sitting at the dining table so this is not the greatest of photos taken through the window–the Cowboy had to slowly get up and hand me the phone, the only camera within reach. The little buck was eyeing my day lily buds. We had to release Emmi and she told him in no uncertain terms that this was her yard and to keep away from the flowers!

Friday was grocery buying day. I buy very few groceries at our local store in Big Timber and let’s just say I have issues with that store. So, every two to three to four weeks just depending on what’s happening in our lives we travel to Billings, 100 miles away, and purchase a large quantity of groceries. This time it had been four weeks since I had purchased groceries. Between Walmart and Costco we spent about $400 on groceries Friday. Lots of produce which is what we run out of first, meat, household goods, cereals, etc. We have two refrigerators and a huge downstairs pantry–storage is not a problem. Things such as watermelon and cantaloupes keep well in the cool basement.

I went to Billings by myself on Friday and had such an enjoyable day. Don’t get me wrong, the Cowboy is very patient and sits in the car patiently waiting for me if I want to visit a yarn store, Target, etc. But I always know he is out there and it makes me hurry because I don’t want him to have to wait too long. I went to Target, got what I wanted and got out–that store was way too crowded! It seemed as if everyone who lived in Billings was in Target! I went to my favorite wine store and for the first time, I visited the yarn store. In the wine store there was only one other customer and we were way far apart–he was buying chardonnay and I was buying Cabernet! 😁I was the only customer in the yarn store.

I’ve only ordered yarn online and have been slightly disappointed in the “feel” of some of the yarn–too coarse, too scratchy??? Well, that wasn’t an issue with all the gorgeous yarn at the Yarn Bar in Billings! Fabulous owners, so helpful and of course I purchased some yarn. It’s a tiny little space but the ladies had packed a lot of merchandise into that tiny space. I wish I lived closer so I could take some classes.

The ladies at the yarn store wound the “hanks” of yarn for me into these nice round balls.

An illustration of a ball, skein, and hank of yarn

And here’s my current project–a Booga Bag. I have fifteen more rows to knit then will felt the piece–I love the colors!

Let me say this upfront–this is my blog and my opinion–you don’t have to agree but you do have to be nice if you comment. Almost everyone I saw in any store in Billings was wearing a mask. Customers and staff. Sweet Grass County, Montana residents haven’t gotten on board with the mask thing yet. A mask is one simple thing we can do to help stop the spread of this virus–it’s not political, it’s not a conspiracy, it’s a virus and it kills people at random. And our numbers in Montana keep rising, Arizona numbers are skyrocketing. In the past four days, 1000 people per day have died from Covid in the United States. Almost 150,000 people have died from Covid in the United States. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s not political, it’s a virus.

Rough Trails

Early Tuesday morning we were rolling down the driveway to meet Sarge and Sarah. We were off to one of our favorite summer destinations–Blue Lake–about thirty miles into the back country, up the Boulder as we say. We stopped to retrieve John and Diane and were off. The Boulder valley and Blue Lake has been discovered. Camper and ATV traffic on the weekends is horrific we’ve been told. Makes us sad.

All day long we saw only two other ATV’s–a dirt bike and a quad. The “road” ends at Box Canyon and the trail begins–and the trail seems to be deteriorating, year after year. This trip the trail was the worst we’ve ever seen it. There were spots when I was sure we weren’t going to go any farther (not so sure the Cowboy thought that but he is braver than I).

The lake was beautiful as always, we were the only people there and the mosquitoes tried to steal our lunch as always. I’m sure I added some extra protein to my meal–those nasty buggers were swarming!

Pilot and Index Peaks–all the way over in Yellowstone National Park. When you reach Blue Lake which is located in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, you are only about 10 miles from the Yellowstone National Park border.

We met lots of young people on the trail–hikers from the church camps. It was an incredibly beautiful day with great friends! Back home we were just exhausted–that trail took it out of us this time–does that mean we are getting older??

Here’s the recipe for that to die for ice cream I served the family last weekend–

And here is a dish I prepared today–delicious!!! The RVGoddess.com is a woman who has lived with her husband all over the world–they travel part time in a motorhome and have recently purchased a new to them home in Indio, CA. She has a fabulous sense of humor and it is a hoot to read her blog. All the comments about the ingredients and cooking instructions are the Goddess’s.

BEEF BARBACOA FOR TACOS  (RV Goddess)The beef is just a bit spicy, so use only one teaspoon of the dried chiles if cooking for non-fire eaters, or bump it up to a full 3 teaspoons if the Devil Hisownself sits at your table. The tacos are traditionally served on warm corn tortillas, but I usually use flour “street taco” tortillas these days – with only diced onion and cilantro. Add a bit of hot sauce or fresh tomato if you choose.

NOTE: I use boneless chuck roast in this recipe, but you could use a small brisket. Choose any marbled piece of beef that can be easily shredded. Enjoy!

One large onion, chopped fine, divided (see below)
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
One jalapeno pepper, seeded (if desired) and minced
2 teaspoons dried Chipotle Chile Flakes (or to taste)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
pinch of cloves
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about two limes)
2.5 pound boneless beef chuck roast
1 Bay leaf

TO SERVE:
warm flour (or corn) tortillas
chopped onion (see above)
fresh cilantro leaves
hot sauce, such as Chulula (optional)

Chop the onion. Reserve about one quarter of the onion to serve with the tacos, and place the remaining 3/4 of the onion in the slow cooker. Add the minced garlic and jalapeno, dried Chipotle flakes, cumin, oregano, cloves, salt and pepper to the onion and garlic mixture to the slow cooker. Pour the fresh lime juice over all and stir well.

Remove any large fatty bits from the beef roast and slice the roast into three or four chunks. Bury the chunks of beef into the spicy onion mixture, turn to coat well with the spice mix, and tuck a bay leaf into the slow cooker. (Do not be alarmed the mixture is so dry – it won’t be in a few hours.) Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

After six-to-eight hours, remove the beef from the slow cooker to a large cutting board, rimmed baking sheet, or plate. Use two forks to shred the beef and keep the shredded meat warm under a sheet of aluminum foil.

Discard any liquid from the slow cooker.

Serve the shredded Barbacoa in warm flour or corn tortillas with chopped onion and cilantro.

This is a great meal. Serve the tacos with chips, guacamole, and a fruit platter. The recipe will make over a dozen tacos.

Today is Judy Bell’s (aka the Blogland Bird Lady)birthday–notification popped up on my Facebook page this morning. Judy died almost two years ago and every time I see a new bird I think of her–she was so good at identifying these critters. These ducks were swimming in the Boulder River–floating along–but I have no idea what kind of ducks??

Today the Cowboy spent the day helping a neighbor repair a 1966ish John Deere tractor–by days end he had it running. I spent the day cooking, making masks and checking on a friend/neighbor who had surgery on Monday.

Life is good.

Oh, and I almost forgot! Sarah likes to take a walk and had walked around the end of the lake out of sight after we finished lunch. She came back very excited–she saw a wolverine!!! Very cool!!

Tomatoes, Masks, New Dishes and Family

At our former house just down the driveway from this one we had a larger yard to mow and a ton of weed whacking to do. When we built this house I requested a small yard, a very small yard. At first that’s what we had then somehow this property morphed into a large area to mow and a ton of weed whacking. The Cowboy does most of the mowing and I do the weed whacking–I’m starting to think tall grass and weeds will just have to look OK in some spots!

We have some great news, at least to us–the last truck camper went down the driveway Friday! A couple drove all the way to our place from Tacoma, Washington and loved the RV thanking us profusely for being so honest and forthcoming! That’s a built in Montana S&S Truck camper and it’s heavy–we were so glad to see the guy come up the driveway in a one ton Dodge dually pickup!

Long ago we bought a set of dishes from our local potter and friend, John Worth. Over the years plates began to develop cracks and I was down to only six dinner plates. Before we left in the fall of 2019 I drove over to John’s place and we settled on an order of plates and some gift items I wanted. With all this Covid business we had not traveled to John’s to retrieve the order. Saturday evening we were invited to Lonn’s for dinner and John doesn’t live far from Lonn. This is how pottery is delivered during times of Covid and when the potter’s wife works in a high risk occupation–

The boxes were sitting by the gate and we left money. Only in Montana.The plates are lighter in color than my older dishes but they blend well and we are pleased.

Friday we made a trip into town for the farmer’s market. We went for one thing only and that was our friend Jon’s tomatoes–he has a greenhouse and his tomatoes are almost as good as an Arkansas tomato!

Our granddaughter Katie is a school teacher and along with every other teacher in the nation is concerned about going back to school. Her babies, ages 4 and almost three will be going to a private preschool for the first time this fall and that also concerns Katie and her husband. No decision has been made on the status of schools in Montana but we decided to be prepared and I’m making masks. Those masks I made for adults were a heck of a lot easier than making ones for toddlers and our almost six year old string bean great granddaughter. Laci and Lora are here visiting from Germany (Dad John is in the USAF) and decisions haven’t been made there about the opening of schools there. Go away Covid, I am sick of you!!

We’ve had a few really hot days lately and the bugs are out in full force–ugh! It’s also getting very dry and we have had wind most days–not good for the forest fire outlook!

Playing together well–most of the time!

And intense game of cribbage. The Cowboy and granddaughter Katie won.

Brooks post eating Mimi’s ice cream and just before Mimi washed his face.

Brooks and Millie–don’t know where Lora had disappeared to.

Scenery on the way to the potter’s.

We had such a good time at Lonn’s Saturday evening. Michael (Katie’s husband) grilled steaks–delicious! We had smashed baked potatoes, a salad and ice cream provided by me. We had children’s ice cream and adult ice cream. The adult stuff had 3 tablespoons of espresso powder so we didn’t think it was a good thing to feed three active kiddos right before bedtime!🥰

Life is good!

 

 

 

 

Montana Numbers Rising

Montana Covid-19 cases are on the rise–when we came home in early April the state might see two or three new cases per day. Today our numbers rose by 144 cases. This afternoon our governor issued a mandate requiring masks be worn in businesses, government offices, and other indoor spaces open to the public in counties with four or more active cases of Covid-19. The directive also requires face coverings at organized outdoor activities of 50 or more people, where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Do we agree–yes we do and we also think it should have happened a long time ago. In our opinion, Covid-19 is not a political issue, it’s a virus. It’s a virus which gives many people flu like symptoms from which they recover quickly. It kills other people with no rhyme or reason. It’s this part which bothers us–the no rhyme or reason killing part. For that reason we wear a mask and we stay home for the most part. My Cowboy is shy and introverted but wearing a mask is no big deal to him. And it’s certainly no big deal for this ole retired operating room nurse.

We’ve been busy–Tuesday the washer and dryer ran all day. The grass needed mowing after our being gone almost a week. The Cowboy started cutting hay and as of this afternoon it is all cut, raked and baled–hallelujah! I sprayed weeds this morning, made lunch, worked in the flower bed–the list goes on and on this time of year.

More photos from our trip to the Bighorn Mountains–

Although there were no signs explaining these stacked rock towers which were over eight feet tall, the Cowboy said it was common for sheep herders to create these projects. This was a spring bubbling up out of the ground–lots of water!Not sure what these sheep were finding to eat on this snow drift??

Life is good.