Spring Is Here

Thursday in Billings was my turn–a root canal which turned into two root canals–oh joy! The good news–I liked the endodontist much better than the one I spent time with last summer. It’s another on going project which will have to be completed once I return from an upcoming trip. After the dentist, we made a quick stop to pick up our Walmart grocery order and headed home–up the Boulder.

This photo was taken over Memorial Day weekend when we had rain, the mountains had snow.

Spring has sprung up the Boulder–finally! Our log home sits on the bank of a creek in an aspen grove. Aspen trees a vivid lime green, the creek burbling along and our little birds chirping their hearts out–it’s spring. Our birds are eating us out of house and home–I love our little birds and the new guys we’ve acquired this season–the Bullock’s orioles. It’s a colorful frenzy at the feeders all day long. And then there are the robins–noisy birds especially when they start communicating with each other at 5am!! We also have several grouse hanging around in the yard–I do wish they would find another hang out spot–their poop is disgustingly big!!

The Cowboy is feeling much better and has been working on our backyard project which was delayed by weather and then by that nasty kidney stone. It isn’t totally finished–the flagstone needs leveling and we will need some more plants but we are pleased with the way it looks. I’ve been spraying weeds, keeping us fed and Saturday I bathed the Emmi girl and gave her a much needed haircut.

We usually fend for ourselves at breakfast time–cereal or an omelette (which he cooks) for the Cowboy, yogurt with fruit and granola for me. Some mornings I am ambitious and cook–Sunday morning I made blueberry pancakes which we paired with Costco thick cut peppered bacon which is not available at this time. We stocked up when rumors started flying about packing plants closing! We had a discussion yesterday about how awful this isolation might have been if a person didn’t like to cook. I told the Cowboy he was dang lucky I liked to cook.

The next blog will come to you from Arkansas–since Mom’s husband died in March she hasn’t been doing so well and needs someone to stay with her. I had plane tickets to fly to Arkansas in late March when all the Covid stuff blew up but you know what happened to those plans. I will be there for two weeks leaving the Cowboy to his own cooking–he could be in trouble. He and Emmi will hold down the fort. I have my sanitizing wipes and masks ready.

Life is good.

A Different Kind Of Billings Trip

When we came home from Arizona most doctors were not seeing patients. When restrictions began to lift I started trying to make appointments and of course could not get two or three of those appointments on the same day. So, we settled for three straight days of doctors appointment–makes one feel old doesn’t it!

Tuesday was stent removal day and the Cowboy feels much better. Wednesday was a routine yearly visit with my nurse practitioner for me and a visit to the dermatologist for the Cowboy–he now looks as if he has chicken pox.

We are staying at Shannen’s (the Cowboy’s daughter) place outside of Billings high on the hills overlooking the city. They have an RV electric hookup and we are comfy in our little motorhome. We didn’t even bring a tow vehicle, we’ve just taken the motorhome everywhere making our needy little pooch happy.

It’s branding season in Montana. Lonn and his gang help the neighbors and the neighbors help them. Our friend Jayme took this photo of Lonn at one of those brandings and I borrowed the photo from Facebook.

We tried to buy the Cowboy some new boots today without success. The only thing we found to buy was Dairy Queen ice cream–our reward for all these doctor’s appointments!

 

Rain And Snow On Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. … Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.  Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season. (www.history.com)

I love this photo and I have used it on other Memorial Days.  It was taken by John Novotny, a Big Timber resident.  This is the Big Timber, MT cemetery and each Memorial Day a ceremony is held at the cemetery honoring all those who died while serving in the US military.

Rain and even snow is a typical weather pattern for Memorial Day weekend in Montana and this particular weekend we are about to need a boat! It’s too warm for the snow to accumulate but snow and rain fell all day on Saturday and through the night. We were in town on Friday and saw many RVs heading up the Boulder. The Cowboy and I both said, “did they read the weather forecast??”

The Cowboy has just not been feeling well at all so things have been low key around here. Some routine chores but a whole lot of sitting, reading, knitting and way too much eating! The Cowboy has been watching documentaries on the TV downstairs. He is not much of a reader–it takes a really good non-fiction book to hold his interest. I baked bread on Saturday using a recipe I obviously used a lot in the past but have no memory of baking lots of bread. The recipe came from my really old Betty Crocker Cookbook.

I’ve never had much luck with Pinterest recipes but I did make this lemon pound cake and it’s good–really good. See, I told you we are eating too much! I had no blueberries but the cake was still very yummy!

We met friends Sarge and Sarah in Big Timber on Friday for lunch deliberately choosing a later hour than noon hoping for less people–we were successful. We spent an enjoyable hour plus eating and catching up. It’s so good to be out and about a bit–with caution! I had to chuckle when we stopped at the local convenience store/gun store/liquor store. Where people used to hang dice, garters, etc. around their rear view mirrors–now there are masks.

Sarah also performed a mission of mercy for me. I’m addicted to knitting. I was never a quilt fabric hoarder. I would buy fabric for a particular project but didn’t have a large stash. Same with knitting–I was working on a project and realized that the cable between the two knitting needles would not be long enough to hold the project. I ordered longer cables and then realized–oh, no–it’s a rainy Memorial Day weekend and I have nothing to knit! I suddenly remembered the quilt shop in Livingston sold yarn and they had a website–I called, ordered and paid for yarn–Sarah stopped to pick up the package for me. I’m knitting a scarf using lots of different stitch patterns–good practice.

We are finally going to see the kiddos–so I spent time cooking on Sunday–a chocolate pie. I think I may have to just go back to baking cakes or buying pie crusts.🤣 I used beans to weight the pie crust and when I went to dump the beans into the trash can, the entire pie crust went with the beans. Back to the drawing board–I now have an extra pie crust in the refrigerator. Oh me!!

This little motorhome we have had a awful squeak right over the cab seats where the cab and RV box join. It was an unbearable squeak. I posted a question about the squeak on a Winnebago Aspect Facebook group and received several good suggestions. One involved taking the cabinets out. The Cowboy removed the TV and was able to access the area over the seats. He also removed the cloth panels behind the seats. Many, many missing and loose screws. Once he had tightened everything we took a drive up into the hay field–no squeak!! Once again, I’m sure glad I have a handy husband!

The sun came out this afternoon, we took a nice walk, the Cowboy is feeling better–life is good.

 

All Gone

Monday morning found us in the motorhome traveling to Billings. The Cowboy had an appointment with a surgeon to get rid of that huge kidney stone. By early afternoon the stone was gone and all is well. This was a much better experience with the hospital, surgeon, nurses–everything. They allowed me to sit with him in the pre-operative area. I had to leave the hospital when they took the Cowboy to the operating room but when he was awake enough they allowed me to come back and sit with him. As soon as the surgeon had finished the procedure, he called me to tell me the Cowboy was flirting with the post-operative nurses and also to tell me how the procedure progressed. A totally different, better experience!

Once the Cowboy was back in the motorhome we moved over to a spot with an electric hookup in the hospital parking lot. As the evening wore on we were both concerned with how incredibly busy the street traffic was. We pulled up stakes and headed to Home Depot’s back parking lot where we’ve stayed before–much, much quieter.

We spent the night because I had two appointments on Tuesday–a much needed, much awaited haircut. I swear I lost five pounds by the time Becky was finished. When she started cutting my hair she stepped back and said, “I don’t know where to start!” Becky had over 100 clients to reschedule when hair salons were allowed to reopen. She has been incredibly busy working way more days and hours per week than she normally does.

Here’s a long ago “before” photo. My niece was keeping her grandmother company this week and they must have been looking at old photos judging by the text messages I received. I showed this photo to Becky, my hairdresser–“how long did it take you to blow dry that much hair??” she asked! This was probably taken sometime in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s at my Mom and Dad’s house. The house you see in the background is where my grandparents–Dad’s parents–lived.

After the haircut we were once again brave and ate in a restaurant–one of our Billings favorites–CJ’s. It was good to see the staff, they are always so welcoming to us. Next stop the dentist–UGH and double UGH!!!  Didn’t I spend a lot of time last summer in the dentist chair getting a root canal???  Well, guess what! I need another root canal. I totally expected there to be a long wait for an appointment with the endodontist but I was wrong! They could see me the last week of May!

We picked up groceries at Walmart and headed for the hills just ahead of a hail storm which hit Big Timber. I drove the motorhome all around Billings this past two days and I drove all the way home. I love being smaller–we just wish the quality was better.

Wednesday, weed spraying and mowing grass was on my agenda. The Cowboy isn’t feeling on top of the world–he usually mows the grass but I gave him a break. I had planned to work in the garden a bit but the lightening/thunder/rain made me think twice about being outside. Our trees finally have leaves! Nat’s birthday was May 24 and he always told me the leaves usually appeared right before his birthday. He was cutting it close this year!

Finishes

Our weather isn’t be outside weather so we’ve been completing projects. The Cowboy made this for our friends–it’s to be a panel in their deck railing.

I finished another knitting project–can you believe it–another headband. I used lots of those lifelines but only ripped out the stitches on this one maybe twice so that must mean I’m getting better!

And I even stood at the longarm and finished quilting one of my own quilts. It felt so good to have it finished.

It’s a Buggy Barn pattern–I made one and my niece claimed it–actually I gifted it to her😍and made myself this one. Now I only have one other project waiting to be longarm quilted. I’ve never been this caught up! Quarantine is good for something! The quilt still needs some hand work–buttons, hand stitched noses, etc. and a binding.

Looked outside today and saw at least five goldfinches on our feeders–love those splashes of color!

This beautiful young woman, my great niece quietly graduated from high school Friday evening. Another finish. She is headed to nursing school and to play softball for the college team.

Charlotte is congratulating Elizabeth.

The rest of this week’s end has just been filled with mundane chores–feeding us–which I sometimes enjoy, other times not so much, laundry, etc. The Cowboy even sprayed a few weeds. The grass needs mowing but it’s been too wet for that activity. Hope all is well with our readers–are you staying at home or venturing out a bit?

You Can Mark The Calendar

Our former home located about a half mile from our present location sat in the open on a hillside. Every spring we had a huge influx of lazuli bunting birds. You could almost mark the calendar by their arrival–May 13. Some years a day before, some years a day after. I looked out at the bird feeders today and there sat a lazuli bunting–right on time. This house sits in a grove of aspen trees and I think the buntings don’t like it as much as our previous location. We will see half a dozen buntings over the summer but not anything like what we had when living in the open.

We are self isolating again or at least that’s what the hospital in Billings calls it when you have been tested for Covid and also scheduled for surgery. We were in Billings Monday for the Cowboy’s pre-surgical appointment and to have the Covid test. The Cowboy was NOT impressed with that large applicator stick up the nose business. He is all set for his surgery on Monday.

Our weather has been so dreary. Rain, rain and a cold east wind. On Mother’s Day and the days following we’ve had over an inch of rain.

Did you see the news–Yellowstone Park isn’t even open and a tourist sneaked in and fell into a thermal feature. Good grief! Today the Park announced it will open in a limited way on May 18th. Montana and Idaho still have quarantine rules in effect–anyone coming into the state must self quarantine for 14 days. So, Yellowstone Park is only opening their east and south gates. Visitors are allowed to drive only the south loop. Nothing in the park is open–no restaurants, no camping, no lodging–driving only. The largest portion of Yellowstone is in Wyoming with very small sections creeping into Montana and Idaho.

Today was meal prep day for me–I vacuumed sealed a lot of the stuff we bought on Monday while in Billings. Friends have raved about Pioneer Woman Tomato Soup With Sherry and I’ve never made it–today was the day. It’s what’s for supper. Lunch was shrimp, corn on the cob and coleslaw.

Yesterday I had a catastrophe! I went downstairs to make some masks for shipping to friends. My beloved Pfaff Tiptronic was dead–the light would come on but the machine would not. So, I made masks using my Singer Featherweight–not fun! My Pfaff is 20 years old and it even has the “stop with needle up or down” function. The Featherweight is almost as old as me–manufactured in 1957 and its features are very limited! As parts are not available for the Tiptronic, the Cowboy decided to just take it apart and see if there was an obvious problem. An hour or so later he had it going again with a little creative engineering. I am so glad I have such a handy husband.

Oh, and I also made a batch of homemade strawberry ice cream–when this is all over we most likely will be dieting! The Pioneer Woman soup was fabulous–at least I thought so!

 

Firsts And Happy Mother’s Day

For the first time in almost two months the Cowboy and I dined in a restaurant. I also had my first not doing it myself pedicure in almost two months. The Thirsty Turtle in Big Timber is a large restaurant and it was easy for them to socially distance their tables. I watched them wipe down the laminated menus after every customer. The condiments are not out on the tables any longer–you have to ask for everything, even salt and pepper. The food was good and we saw people we know–something we’ve missed greatly.

I’ve been busy registering my complaints with the Billings hospital–I spoke with a patient advocate on Thursday voicing my concerns. A nurse friend from my Kimberly-Clark working days said it best, “isolating patients from their families is wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels and was a bad call in the plan.” While talking to the patient advocate I told him this and voiced other concerns. He promised to address those issues and return my call.

On Friday the surgeon’s office called to schedule the Cowboy’s pre-surgery appointment. The person explained that the clinic was limiting visitors and the Cowboy would have to come alone. I said, “not acceptable and I will be accompanying him.” She began to try and explain the reasoning and I stuck to my story. She gave up and said, “I will note that you are accompanying your husband.” The Cowboy has to have a Covid test before he can have the surgery to remove the stent–we will do that on the same day as the pre-surgery appointment.

Happy Mother’s Day! It’s a cold, windy, cloudy Mother’s Day in Montana–no spring flowers visible except my store bought tulips on the coffee table. Michael’s Mother died in 2002 after a long fought battle with cancer. My Mom is alive but not so well–I spoke with her this morning and she is feeling a bit better.

The Cowboy’s Mother, photo probably taken in about 1955.

Mom and me–photo taken in 2014–in her healthier days.

We haven’t been doing much of anything else–weather is too icky to be outside so anything we do is inside–reading, knitting, suduku, etc. And of course we are still eating–probably too much! Montana began opening up two weeks ago tomorrow. There have been no new cases for three days and no deaths for 11 days.

 

Well That Was Exciting

Monday morning early we were on our way to Billings and our family physician’s office–the Cowboy wasn’t feeling well. Things went significantly downhill and we ended up in the ER of a Billings hospital in the middle of a pandemic! Luckily we were the only people in the check in area, they let me hang out with him in the ER for several hours while getting his pain under control, getting blood work drawn and having a CT scan. The ER doctor called it before he had even examined the Cowboy–probable kidney stone–and he was right. It’s an enormous kidney stone and has caused other significant issues during its course of development.

I had to leave him at the hospital which about sent me over the edge–they do not allow any family or friends to visit the patients on the floors. Tuesday afternoon late he had a surgical procedure to insert a stent and was amazed at how much better he felt following that procedure.

Wednesday morning I retrieved him and we are at home and glad to be here!

While awaiting phone calls from doctors and nurses which never came on Tuesday I spent the day cleaning. Late in the afternoon the FedEx man brought us our new living room rug. The old rug was 18 years old and it was time for a change. The new one brightened our room significantly. In the photo it looks wrinkly–the unfold directions said those wrinkles would go away with time–they have all ready lessened.

Let’s talk about those phone calls that never came. The Covid crisis has changed a lot of things in our lives and one of the most significant to me is the banning of families from hospitals. It broke my heart to leave the Cowboy in Billings by himself. And if he had not been so aware and able to talk to me via cellphone I would have been dancing on some heads! Unacceptable to not receive one phone call from anyone to tell me how he was doing, what the plans were, nothing. After the surgery the recovery room nurse did call me and I told her over and over again how much I appreciated her call–she was surprised to hear that her call had been the only one. When we see the surgeon in two weeks he will get an earful. And I am calling the patient care advocate at the hospital. Unacceptable.

And let’s talk about being made to feel like a criminal because you are filling a prescription for pain pills. Restricting access to narcotics has done absolutely nothing to help drug abuse. People who want to abuse drugs will always find a way and something to abuse. Taking the medications away from people who need them is wrong and cruel. I had to wait for the Cowboy’s prescriptions in Costco and once they were finally ready I was told I needed my driver’s license in order to obtain the narcotics. During this stupid Covid crisis I don’t take anything inside stores except my list and my credit card. I had to go back to the car and retrieve my driver’s license. To say I was angry was a vast understatement!

The Cowboy is so thankful to be home and I am so thankful to have him here. Emmi is thankful too!

 

A Finish And A Start

It’s finished!! For Judy over at the Patchwork Times blog this would have been a project she could have completed in a couple hours. I started knitting this headband right after we got home in early April and finished it Sunday afternoon. I asked the Cowboy, “bet you thought I wouldn’t finish this,” and he said, “you are right!” I can’t count the number of times I ripped the project back to the very beginning. As I said in a previous blog–then I discovered lifelines and would insert one after about every five inches of knitting–that helped tremendously and it’s done, finished! I learned a lot about knitting–this is my first ever finished knitting project and I’m ready to tackle another one.

Love is in the air, it’s spring time and the grouse are courting–

We’ve started a major landscaping project in the backyard. Just before we left in the fall, we poured concrete patios on the north and east side of our house. That project necessitated removal of some of the flower bed–

Yesterday we began trying to finish this “little” project and all I can say is,” thank God we have equipment!” More of the flower bed was removed, columbine plants relocated, drip system hoses were removed, all the rotted, grass infested landscape fabric was torn out and the old mulch was removed. I was on the end of a shovel way too much! The Cowboy began laying rocks Saturday and we managed to get more in place before the storms arrived mid afternoon on Sunday.

Still lots to do–finish the rock wall, lay flagstones, replace the water system, landscape fabric and mulch–whew, what a project but one that was needed.

As the saying goes, we dined high on the hog today or rather high on the seafood. I used a recipe my friend Kelly gave me for the sauce–buerre blanc sauce over scallops. It was a divine meal and we both enjoyed it immensely. Something different for a change from beef, beef and beef.

Montana continues to hold steady–no new cases today. I’m anxious to see if our numbers start to climb after Monday when the bars and restaurants open–I’m so hoping the numbers show no increase!

 

 

Just Hanging Out

The days run together, we stay busy. It’s a good thing we like the company of each other!

Tuesday was a new day–sunny with a howling wind. Not as many chores–just as many meals. I did quilt a bit on my Buggy Barn bunny quilt. About 3pm the Cowboy came inside and asked if I would like to take a drive–absolutely! We drove up the Boulder almost to Hawley Mountain Guest Ranch before we turned around–the road was getting rougher by the minute and the snow was getting closer!

This is my view some of the time, at other times she is hanging her head out the Cowboy’s window.

Not very many critters out and about–saw a muskrat in the beaver ponds and elk across the river at the former Boulder River Ranch. Lots of deer grazing in rancher’s hay fields. The views are awesome as always–lifting my spirits as always.

Wednesday we met Sarge and Sarah at the Rib and Chop House in Livingston. We ordered takeout and drove to a nearby park where we sat in the sun on a beautiful spring day and enjoyed our lunch and the company. This was the first meal I haven’t had to cook since around the first of March–it tasted so good!

Montana continues to hang steady–some days we have no new cases, other days just one or two. Lots of people are out and about it seems. I hope we continue to hang steady while the state is in the process of opening back up.