December 31, 2008

Christmas Catastrophe

Who is this sunny, cheerful boy? Well the shot was supposed to be of the tree, but jokster here, who can never mind his own business stepped in just in time. Fortunatly for him it turned out to be one of the best shots I've ever gotten of him, so I kept it.

He didn't look quite so happy later in the day. Here's the scoop...

Christmas Eve, Malcolm and his dad went down to our former residence to work on the well. It had frozen, or something like that, and since we had the Willey's coming for Christmas and staying over, they wanted to get the well working so there would be water to use down there. Let me take a pause here to say that I might get a few of the details confused here, so ignore my mis-representations of the technicalities if your reading this and know the story better than me.
Ok, so the way I understand it to have happened is that they put a propane torch in the bottom of the well pit to thaw it out, but the flame went out and filled the pit with propane gas. When they discovered this little problem, Malcolm tryed to climb down into the pit to set up a heat lamp, but the gas was over powering and he had to climb back out.
Christmas morning they tryed again with the propane torch, but again it went out and filled the pit with gas. So, they attached a rope or something to torch, lit it, and slowly lowered it into the well pit. And waited and waited slowly lowering away, but nothing happened. So, Malcolm looked over the side of the well, and slowly lowered it just a bit more....and WHAM! The propane ignited. He keeps telling me how beautiful and neat it was! Of course he doesn't remember much after seeing the gas ignite. What his Dad was was Malcolm's ball cap blast off into the air and it didnt' come back to earth until Malcolm had had time to move 20-30 yards away from the well.
As it turns out, he was lucky. Apparently he had leaned back just in time. Not in time to keep from having his hat blasted off his head and all...ALL....the hair on his head singed as well as his coat collar and cuffs, but in time to keep his head from being blown off or loosing his eye sight or worse. Unforunatly he didn't pull his hand out of the well pit in time, and so he is now nursing second and third degree burns on his hand. He had quarter and half dollar size places with no skin left. Its lovely, let me tell you. Several of my readers can vouch for how pretty it is as they saw it first hand, no pun intended.
So the rest of Christmas day he looked less sunny like earlier and more like this.

(notice the hair. Click on the picture to blow it up for a closer look.)
A little birdy told us that there's a prescription cream that is for severe burns, and that we could possibly get some from a vet. So a few days ago we found a vet, whom shalll remain nameless to protect their identity, who ordered some for us and its working quite well. His hand, though still ugly, looks much better, and he will have full use of all his fingers, though they will always have scars I'm sure.
Ahhh.....Christmas memories.
Malcolm wanted me to post a picture of his hand on the blog, but I'm thinking I'll spare you the vision. If you really want to see it, email me and I'll email you a picture.

Now the other little catastrophe....
Rachelle got four peacocks back in the spring. In fact you've seen them because I posted a picture this summer of one of the males strutting his stuff in front of my house. Anyway, they had babies this summer that were so cute...until something got them, which was sad, but life. And so it was back to the adults again. And we enjoy watching them around the yards and roosting in the trees down there at her place. Well Rachelle hadn't seen them in a while. In fact it had been a couple of weeks since she'd seen them, right around the time when it got so cold. And then Christmas Eve she was down in the barn doing something, and she found them. The poor things were huddled up in the corner, frozen to death. I was, and am, so sad over it. I got a lot of delight from those birds.

So those were our two Christmas tragedies. Other than those two events, the rest of the holiday was delightful!

Christmas In Montana

Where to start? Christmas this year was a very good one. We enjoyed our visit to the ranch so much that we stayed an extra day. Christmas was one to remember with everything from the traditional goings on, a surprise visit, and a couple of tragedies, as well as a the icing on the cake, a Montana snow storm. There is lots to tell and so I'll stretch it out into a couple of posts, so I don't keep you here all day.
For those who were distressed at my ornamentless tree, here is a fresh new look for my plastic everygreen. About a week before Christmas, the first of a few Christmas cards came in the mail. I sat them under my tree. Then one day I was cleaning the floors, and needed somewhere safe to put them, so I stuck them in the branches. It looked so nice, I left them there, and added the ones soon to come to my collection. So my tree was decorated with the season's greetings of friends and family.

After a few days at home relaxing, we left early Christmas Eve morning for the ranch. The sky was clear, the sun was bright, and it was only sixteen degrees below zero! (remind me to share later why this comment is dear to me...has to do with my favorite author) We were probably about 50 miles from home, out on the interstate, in a sparcely settled area of eastern Montana, when our pickup began to gel up, which basically means our fuel was freezing. We went slower and slower and slower, keeping our fingers crossed and praying we'd get to Forsyth, which is about 40 miles west of Miles City. Finally, we pulled over the last hill and coasted into Forsyth at a whopping 25 mph. After topping off with #1 fuel (a winter grade of diesel) and finding an auto parts store where Malcolm bought a fuel filter and wrench so he could change it, he did just that, and we were on our way again.
Christmas Eve was a special time of sharing and visiting. We had such a good time. Things were a little more hectic than planned because we found out that our friends, Boyd and Michelle with their three boys, were accepting the invite to drive up from Nebraska and join us Christmas day, but they more the merrier, and it turned out so true.
We had an untraditional Christmas Feast of Prime Rib. Peggy did an excellent job on it, with Chef Malcolm assisting, and Chef Sarah watching and trying to learn how. (I'll need a refresher course.)The meal and the company were especially nice for our special day.
What's this? A little Christmas Elf peeking around the tree? Oh no...it's just Paris. She was obsessed with the popcorn and cranberries Peggy had strung and hung on her tree. I was continually catching her snooping around in the packages trying to find a nice foot hold to climb on.
And finally....drum roll.....a shot of me. I don't think I have yet to post a shot of myself on here! Usually I'm the one behind the lens, but this special morning, I cornered Malcolm and had him take a picture of my and my girls, something I've been watning to do for some time.
OK....the note on my favorite author....
In The Long Winter (or is it Little Town on the Prairie?) Laura Wilder and her friends are going sleighing and they are happy and gay to be out doors and together again. It was such a beautiful day with no storms, and it was only twenty below zero. That comment in her book always facinated me. Twenty below....how cold that must feel! And let me tell you...it DOES feel quite cold, especially with a brisk wind to back it up. SO, leaving Christmas Eve morning and it was only sixteen below zero, I was reminded of that quote from her books, and it humored me. I can identify with her now, when before it was totally foreign to me.
More to come...

December 19, 2008


The lyrics go...
" Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh..."
I've got the dashing part down pat, and would LOVE to be in a one horse open sleigh. However, I'm in a multi-horse power Kenworth, and in truth, we're not dashing that fast. We are in Salt Lake City....again....going the opposite direction from Monday when I posted that lovely rush hour picture. Guess what....its rush hour again, but the other one. Guess what....its still slushy and more falling. Err the lack of much dashing!
My sister posted her favorite Christmas tradition on her blog and "tagged" everyone else to do the same. I am having the hardest time thinking what my favorite might be. I love everything about this season! So I'm going to decline from playing favoritism. I just love it all in general. Sorry Meagan if I dissappointed you.
Eventually this traffic will clear up and we'll "dash" a little faster and be home sometime after midnight tonight. Therefor, this will be my last post until after Christmas, and possibly for this year, depending on when we return to work.
Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

December 17, 2008

Weather or not....

It's starting to look like the winter weather is just going to be our constant companion for a while. we left Billings Sunday night and delivered in Salt Lake City Monday morning. Ahhh, the joys of morning rush hour in the snow. And doesn't this look a sight different from Chattanooga on the rare occasion that the roads there resemble these.

We reloaded in Ogden, just north of SLC. We loaded cookies from Lofthouse, you know the ones you see at Walmart with the thick icing on top and sprinkles? And we also have other kinds as well. They are frozen and going to a distribution center in Phoenix. You should have SMELLED the place! Oh my goodness! I got out of the truck and it hit me like a wall, as if I had walked into a bowl of batter. Amazing! But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and after sitting there 7 hours waiting to load, I wasn't much enjoying the aroma of fresh baked cookies. But on the bright side, they took pitty on us and gave us three boxes of cookies: oatmeal, chocolate (that arn't that good), and those iced sugar cookies I mentioned.

But back to the white stuff. It spit snow at us all day, but it melted quite a bit. Finally heading south around 10:00 last night, I got south of SLC and fueled and crossed a hill and ran into a full out snow shower. It must have just dumped snow because there were about 5 inches on the interstate with two tire tracks going through. The snow plows hadn't gotten there yet, and seeing as I was the lead truck (because the other guys just stayed behind me even when I slowed down) I got to take on the role of trail blazer. It was great! Actually it wasn't that bad, and it did add a little adventure to the evening. So there we went blazing a trail through the snow for about 20 miles before a couple of snow plows jumped on in front of me. I backed off and let them lead the way for about 15 miles before they bailed out on me and went back north. Off we went again, though there was a bit more of a packed snow lane to follow. I still got to be the leader.
Then we forged our way across Utah's back country roads. By that point the snow had let up, it wasn't as deep, and the roads were mostly clean. However, I was spent from my trailblazing, so I pulled off and we slept a while.
This morning we've been in the snow off and on all day. Or at least Malcolm has. I slept and read, and relaxed in back. Temperatures were in the low 30's which was still cold, but a sight better than the previous days. Our goal, which we attained, was to get south of Flagstaff as soon as we could. We accomplished this about 30 minutes ago, after stopping there to fuel. Want to see why?

It was snowing heavily when we arrived, with about 6 inches on the ground already. And from what I saw on the internet they are supposed to get 8-12 more inches tonight. We decided we wern't going to play around, even though we don't have to be anywhere till 2:00am. Its kind of hilly coming out of there. Well lets be honest, you decend a mountain and drop a few thousand feet in altitude quickly. We're going to go sit in Phoeniz instead where they are expecting 1-3 inches of rain. Not sure how often it does that there, but we'll see what happens.
Here are a few more Flagstaff pictures for you.

December 16, 2008

Thawing Out

Well, I can assure you if I ever entertained the slightest desire to live in Alaska....its gone! We got home Sunday night to temperatures well below zero. When we're gone we keep our thermostat set on 50 so the pipes and my plants won't freeze. Normally its 50 when we get home but the heaters just couldn't keep up. The house was only 37 degrees inside! Brrr.... And the girls, poor babies, nearly froze when I took them out. They were so cold from just a few minutes that Paris's feet turned blue, and Carlie came inside and literally held her foot in the air while sitting in front of the fire. It was cute...in a very sad kind of way. Here are the girls thawing out in front of the fire. They don't look very pleased do they?

Speaking of thawing out, we left last night and are in Salt Lake City, enjoying the heat wave. Its 32 degrees. What a relief! Yesterday at home I couldn't tell what the temperature was. The red in the thermometer stayed down in the bulb. It never registered anything. All I know is it was below -10, because thats the last number on the thermometer. Things in the house warmed up, but everything in the truck froze solid, even the windex and the carpet cleaner. I stayed indoors toasty warm, but Malcolm and Brandon ran a few trucking errands together and said, when they returned home, that there were trucks broke down all over from their fuel gelling up. Maybe some of you don't know, but if it gets cold enough, diesel fuel will start to freeze, or kind of turn thick like jelly. We keep "anti-gell" in our fuel to help, but you also have to keep the fuel level up. If your fuel gets too low, it is more likely to freeze. I passed a truck last night on the back roads of Montana that had gelled up. He was parked in the other lane with a wrecker. But that was a high bill!
But we did fine, and for now are able to breath without our lungs burning from the cold. And the girls just went out to potty and managed to stay long enough to get their stuff done. (I cleaned up a lot of messes yesteray because they just couldn't bear to stay out long enough to finish. I was forgiving considering the circumstances.)
The girls played hard all day, as they always do when we're home. When Malcolm and Brandon got back to the house we had a late lunch together and the girls settled in for a nap.

Oh...update!!! Check out the ears!

Of course this is right after taking the tape off. She's been free almost two days now and the one ear fell. I've got to tape her up again this morning.
This scares me to death!

Ella discovered this little landing on the stairs and its her personal observation deck, she thinks. She slips through the railing and goes to the very edge and watches us below. She makes me very nervous doing it, but I don't know how to make her stop, short of running chicken wire or something along the railing to block her out. (like I'm going to do that) Hopefully she'll never take one more step, or better yet, get bored with doing it.

Remember this, my naked tree?

Well I was standing in the kitchen yesterday morning looking at it, and an email Malcolm's aunt Sharon sent me suddenly came in mind. In it she had commented on our pretty tree, and mentioned that table clothes made pretty tree skirts. And then....I had one of those moments of brilliant inspiration. Remember me mentioning my Chrismas table cloth that the mice had chewed holes in? Well I'd tossed it into a garbage bag in disgust and dissappointment, but I hadn't thrown out that bag yet. So I ran downstairs and dug it back out, tossed it in the wash to clean the mousy off of it, and layed it out to examine it. There was one big hole, the size of a small apple, and several tiny pin holes. So I cut on a radial line through the biggest hole to the center, and voila....instant tree skirt! Thank you Sharon! Now I have a tree skirt, and I still have my table cloth too. I was sad about loosing it.
And I even managed to get a few gifts under my tree too! It looks much more festive now!

December 12, 2008


If you are like most people, your only aware of one use for Tampons. But your wrong! Ella uses them, in her ears! Yep, its a common practice, when training the ears to stand, to use the cotton portion of Tampons as support rods. Works pretty well too. I'd only been using tape, having to tape them 3-4 times a day because it doesn't stay on that well. And her ears will stand for a few hours, but then they flop over. So, I decided to go ahead and go the Tampon route. I've never tryed it before. Paris's ears were practically already standing when I got her. Carlie's ears still don't stand. Maybe I should have tryed this method with her. Anyway you tape the cotton rod to the inside of the ear, then wrap the ear with medical tape, and then make a "bridge" across from ear to ear so that they are forced to stand. Three days of this, then a day off to breath and relax, and then we start again. And miracle of miracles....her tape has stayed on for all three days!!!! I might not go broke buying medical tape after all!

What a clown! She is harder to get a picture of than either of the other two! This taping of the ears can take any where from a couple of weeks to more than 6 months, depending on the dog. Some, like Paris, stand right away. Other's, like Carlie, never stand. Ella has quite a bit of hair on her ears that has to be shaved off every couple of days because the hair weighs down the ears. Actually Carlie's ears would probably stand a little better if I would shave off her ear fringe, but its just so pretty, and it took so long to grow that I hate to shave it off. And since she's just our pet and not a show dog, I'm going to let her stay with floppy ears. But Ella, even if I don't show her, will be so pretty with nice errect ears and flowing black ear fringe, that I'm determined they WILL stand, even if I go crazy taping, taping, and re-taping!
So there you go. Bet you'd never think to find tampons used in a dogs ears! Keep your fingers crossed for us that her ears will stand prettily! I'm taking the tape off here shortly to giver her ears a day of rest.

Our Tree

Yea! I got a tree!

A couple weeks ago when we were in Lowe's, I went to brouse the "Christmas Crap" (as my mom and aunt have dubbed it) while Malcolm went to get some stuff out of the electrical supplies. Malcolm and I have had a live tree, the years we've managed to have a tree, since we got married. But I've been seriously thinking that a pre-lit artificial tree was the way to go. We're not home to water a live tree, and to be honest, the Christmas chore I despise more is putting lights on a tree! So I was brousing, and they had a couple of nice ones that I would have gotten. But they were like $300 and I just couldn't see spending that on a tree this year. I considered trying for the after Christmas sale, but didn't figure I'd make it, and so just decided to plan on trying for one next year.

Well....we were in town Wednesday and I went to run errands, get a few Christmas things, look for some new shirts and a pair of shoes. Just the usual errand type stuff. And while I was out I decided, what the heck, I'll just go get the tree. Well the tree display had been destroyed, was only half its size, and the one I liked most was gone. The sales guy walked up and asked if he could help me with anything, and said all the trees were half off. Well that would explain why they were GONE! But hey! Here was my after Christmas bargain, before Christmas. So I broused what was left, and they had one tree I liked, but it was a little too bluish for me. The other one I liked a lot too, but they only had the display model left and half its lights were out. Kind of defeats the point of a pre-lit tree, don't you think?

So feeling a little dejected, I left and as I walked to my car I thought, "Well, I guess I could see what Home Depot has...why not?"

Home Depot had even fewer trees, and not all of them were half off. But I found a tree very similar to the one I liked at Lowe's that had half the lights out, only it was $269. Too much! So, about that time the sales guy came by and asked if he could help me with anything, and I asked him if that was the best price they could do on that tree. He said he might could take off another $10. Oooooo wow! Anyway, I said, "well Lowe's has a tree thats very similar and they have it priced at $150." And so he said he'd check with his manager and see what they could do. He came back and the manager had told him to sell it to me for $150! SOLD!

I went home and put it up in my big front window. Its 7 1/2 feet tall and I'm thinking its a good thing that the 9 foot tree I liked first was sold out! Things look smaller in those big display areas of stores, then you get them home and they are a little bigger than you think. We learned that with Malcolm's gun safe. Our tree doesn't have any ornaments on it this year, but it till makes the house feel more festive.

I do have another little tree. Here is the story of my other tree. One Christmas when we were preparing to move to Georgia, our house was full of boxes, and so we didn't put up a tree. Malcolm at that time was driving for Made Rite Sandwiches and was gone two nights and four days a week. Well, he knew I missed having a tree so on his way home, he stopped at a Walmart in Alabama somewhere and bought this little tree. He bought a bow for the top, a string of lights, and a red bead garland, and put a tree skirt around the base. He had me stay in the bedroom when he got home and set the little tree up to surprise me. It's been our only tree several years when we wern't around long enough to put up a big tree, and I love it.

This year, I went downstairs to my Christmas things to get it out and discovered that the mice in Baker had chewed up the bottom or the tree skirt, bitten the string of beads in half in several places, and chewed the tree branches a little. Not only that, but in that same box they had chewed holes in my Christmas table cloth and napkins, a basket, and the velvet bow on the girls stocking. It was very frustrating, but there was one happy discovery. That same box held my childhood Christmas stocking and the one that Mom had made for Malcolm. Neither of them were touched, even though they were mixed in with all the other things. What a relief!
I was discouraged about my tree though, and just closed the box and put it away, not feeling like dealing with it. Well last week I couldn't sleep one night so I drug it back out of the closet, cleaned it all up, and salvaged what I could. I use it for my snoopy ornaments. Mom gives me a Hallmark snoopy ornament every year, and I have enough now to decorate the little tree nicely. So this is my decorated tree. Its downstairs in the living room.

Email me pictures of your trees! I love to see them and would love to see what your tree looks like this year!

December 9, 2008

More for Your Reading List

Here are two more good reads.

Last week I re-read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, soon to be released as a movie. I read this a few years ago, and truely enjoyed the story. If you havn't read it, please do. I havn't decided if I'm going to see the movie or not. On the one hand I'd love to because I love the story, and I like the actresses they've got involved. On the other hand, I don't want a dissappointment and a good book spoiled for me.

This week I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

This was recommended to me by my Mom and Aunt Lisa after I sent them a forward with pictures of an Asian woman with bound feet. Remember that forward that went around? I think I sent it to most of my email friends. Anyway, this was a really good read, rather sad, but a good story. Very well written, and I loved all the information I gained on the culture. I also learned at the end of the book in the authors notes, that she actually got to go spend time in the this remote part of China where her book is based. She did a lot of research and interviewing with the locals there, and based a lot of her book on what she learned while there. I found that fascinating that she got to do that. So, when you get time, check this one out too. Its well worth the time.

Mountain Majesty

I'm posting to blog entries today because I just remembered that I never posted those pictures I was taking Saturday that I wrote about. So anyway, enjoy these pictures of the Montana mountains, and then check out the next entry too. They are both new.

These are mountains between Billings and Bozeman, MT.

And on a random note....we just passed a house in Ashton, Id which is at the base of a huge hill that climbs up into the Yellowstone area and towards Montana. Seriously, they had every winter inflatable decoration you can get. You know, the big Santa, the giant inflatable snow globes with characters in them, everything. And they wern't just scattered. They were very organized into a line around the perimeter of the yard. They surrounded the house entirely. Intersting! I always wonder, "Where do people store this stuff?!?!??!"

I forgot my other adventures this morning. As soon as I got to Utah just north of Saint George I ran into snowy icy roads. Not too bad, but enough to slow down a little. It was in the low 20's high teens. About 100 miles in or more, I passed a FedEx truck in the median, packages scattered hither and yon. Hope no one ordered anything that was on that truck. I wonder what they do about that sort of thing? And so then we stopped for something to eat. By then the roads were clean, just wet. Well I guess they were still a little icy. I know the parking lot was cause I slipped, but didn't fall. Anyway, we're walking across the parking lot and I heard this odd noise that sounded like a jet in the distance, or something dragging across asphalt but really loud. Well....it turned out to be a car loosing control, rolling over, and landing on its top in the median. The idiot must have been flying! Hope they were ok. Emergency crews arrived shortly, and hung around, a little while, but left before we finished eating, so it must not have been too serious. So anyway, that was interesting. You don't get to see that everyday. We didn't actually see him flipping. There was a building between us, but from our seat in the resteraunt we had a front row view of the whole clean up process. Watched the police arrive, watched people stop to "help" and all these people running back and forth acoss the interstate, etc. It was something new to watch and discuss during our meal anyway!
Well we've climbed the Ashton Hill into Yellowstone territory. From here on out its mountain forests and little tourist towns that are vacated for now. Once they get some decent snow up here (they only have a few inches now) this becomes the snow mobiling center of the world, and you really have to watch for them cause they'll cross the road in front of you. But for now its pretty empty, the roads a little snow packed, and its pristine and frontierish. I like it through here. Too bad its getting too dark for pictures. Maybe next time.

Another Night in Las Vegas

I think maybe Las Vegas just isn't my city, and I'll let Malcolm drive through there from now on. This time I was going through about 3:00 this morning on I-15, and there was construction. Not the detour kind, but the kind that takes 4 lanes down to one. Now at 3:00 in the morning, this isn't a problem traffic wise. But when the barrels are nocked down and a sleepy truck driver (not me) thinks the lanes are opened back up, and then suddenly realizes they arn't and swerved over into the lane in front of you and the truck your following, then its kind of a traffic hazard. I nearly creamed the tail end of the truck I was following.

Now there is a practice in truck driving called "good following distance," and I could probably have used a little more of that, so I decided to back off a little more, and a good thing. Because less than 5 minutes later I find myself in the midst of a high speed police chase (not chasing me). They were after a little red car, and came zooming up along side me, and passed me and the two cars ahead of me. Then the little red car decides to swerve across both lanes of traffic and exit, followed closely by the police car in hot pursuit, causing the cars in front of my to slam on their break. But because this responsible truck driver had "good following distance" I just casually merged into the left lane and cruised on by.

So anyway, that was my excitment for the night. I don't much care for LasVegas!

December 7, 2008

Music Worth Listening To

Are you familiar with George Winston? I have two of his songs on my playlist for this blog. My first encounter with George Winston was from a record of my Mom's. It was his December album. I loved to play it on my record player in my room and listen to him play the pianno. Beautfiul music!

Then one winter, Mom took me, and I think maybe Meagan went too, to the Tivoli Theatre in downtown Chattanooga. I felt so special and grown up to be going to a concert at the Tivoli. Everyone was so dressed up and it was so elegant. That is one of my two strongest memories from that night. The other is that George Winston walked out on stage to play the baby grand in casual dress pants and a sweater and socks. He didnt' wear shoes the entire night. I remember that! He did the whole concert in just his socks.

I now have several of his CD's: December, Autumn, Summer, Forest, Plains (which has a song titled "Montana") and Linas and Lucy: A Tribute to Vince Guaraldi. But December is still my favorite of his albums. All of them are my favorite quiet time, relax music to listen to.

I'll always have Mom to thank for my love of music. And I'll always love George Winston's music. I would love to go to another one of his concerts one day and be able to enjoy and appreciate it from an adult's perspective. But I will also always treasure my memories from that concert Mom and I went to.

December 6, 2008

Taking a Break

Having left the clutches of Sin City, we headed north, to wide open spaces....and cold! Our friend Brandon called us early Wednesday morning to tell us he was heading to West Virginia with a load, and that he'd woken up to a foot of snow. (He lives down the street from us)

Well maybe he exagerated or maybe it melted a lot between when he left and when we arrived. But there wasn't quite a foot of snow. However, our area got more than Billings and the surrounding areas, and that morning they had installed the mandatory chain law for a 20 mile stretch of interstate on the east side of Billings. Thankfully that was lifted by the time we got back up there, because its no fun to chain up. All in all, I think we had about 5-6 inches when we got home. Here are a couple of lovely shots for you....winter travel in Montana.

This is east of Bozeman, MT on I-90.

This is about two miles from our house.

And then home sweet home.

Did I mention that Malcolm had a head cold last week? Well, I caught it, and was MISERABLE when we got back to Billings. Fortunatly they didn't have a load for us till this morning so we stayed home till just a few hours ago. We are much better, though not quite right in the head, so to speak. Malcolm is almost normal, but I've got a headache that won't quite and right now I'm feeling a little dizzy for some reason, so after this I might go lay down, unless the Tylenol kicks in soon.

You should see the mountain in front of us. Its snow covered, with the tops hidden in clouds, but the sun is shining on it too, so it kind of glows. Beautiful! I snapped a picture and will get it up for you later. I love this drive bettween Billings and Bozeman. Actually, as much as I love eastern Montana, I will admit that the western portion of the state is a GREAT road trip area if you just want to drive and look. I never get tired of it.

Ok, so back to home....Thursday night we were feeling better, so I wanted to sit in the hot tub. I'd passed the night before because I wasn't feeling well, and it was so cold. Well I thougth it was warmer, but I was wrong. Not only that but a wind came up while we were out there, which made it pretty darn near miserable once we got out of the water. Up until that point we were enjoying ourselves, just relaxing, looking at stars, listening to the dead silence (except for the whir of the hot tub motor)...it was really peaceful. And then I reached up to squeeze the excess water from the end of my ponytail, cause I can't stand getting my hair wet when I'm swimming or in the hot tub or whatever. I dont' know what the deal with that is. Its a "later in life" development think cause I swam when I was a kid. Anyway, so I reached up to squeeze the water out of my hair....and my hair was frozen solid. Yep, you read that right! Frozen, as in icy and crunchy hair. Hmmm....guess it was a little nippy out. Now I've had this happen once last year also. One morning we were staying at the hotel in Billings waiting on a load, and I took the girls out to potty that morning after my shower but before I dryed my hair, because I didn't think it was very cold. And in the few brief moments I was out there, my hair froze. It was funny. I'd shake my head and the frozen strands of hair would make little icy noises and tinkling sounds as they brushed against one another. CRAZY! So....ok...bad idea to go out with wet hair in Montana....but I just do it anyway. Too lazy and trying to cut corners I guess. Sorry! But it made a neat story, right?

And of course no blog entry at home is complete without my girls.

Ella having breakfast. How do you like the girls eating rug? It looks great under their "princess" food and water dishes.

Paris, who has an internal radar for sources of heat, quickly found the spot on the floor where the blower from the wood stove was hitting, and parked there for quite a while. The picture was supposed to be of Carlie Jean practically sitting on top of Paris, but she got up and walked away at the last minute. She seems to have the habbit lately of sitting ON the other two, particularly Ella. Carlie just goes over and plops down on top of her all the time.

Ok, thats it, and my head is really hurting now, so I'm going to go lay down maybe....or look at scenery out the window. Hope you all have a great weekend.

December 3, 2008

Nightmare in Sin City

Las Vegas, city of fortune, city of sin. Aside from our weeky zip through the outskirts of Vegas on the interstate, I've never really had any desire to go there and "see the sights." Well, I would make an exception as the National Rodeo World Finals are held there every year and I would like to go to that at least once. I've heard it's quite a show, even for non-rodeo people. But I got of track....
Our route out of Arizona to Billings takes us up US 93 which turns into I-215 which runs through the heart of Vegas and intersects with I-15 where we head north towards Utah and the open desert. Except a few months ago they began a construction project and the entrance ramp for I-15 north is closed. There is a detour, which at my first and only attemp a few months ago, I botched it up and we took a little tour of North Las Vegas which wasn't that bad because it was all industrial and there were truck stops, and even though it was unpleasant because we got mad at each other (as couples are prone to do when they are lost) it was a simple fix and we were on our way.
Then last week, Malcolm was driving when we went through there and of course he perfected the detour with no issues what-so-ever and whizzed on through to open territory.
Well last night, as I remembered about 100 miles away that there was a detour, I felt some apprehension, but thought "Malcolm said it's no big deal. I can handle it." And so when I got to the detour sign "All Trucks NB I-15 detour Eastern Ave" I followed the Walmart truck and the truck in front of him off the interstate and followed the signs. And all was going well, till I got left at a stop light by the other trucks, and thought I was still following signs, but by the point that Malcolm got up and wanted to know why on earth I was making so many turns we were in the ghetto of Las Vegas. I'm talking truck loads of homeless and junkies. I even passed three cops in hot pursuit ON FOOT climbing a fence. It was not a happy place for me to be at 11:00 at night.
At an intersection we switched seats and began the lengthy discussion of "how did this happen??" It was supposedly an easy detour....how did I get down there! And Malcolm began to work his way back to the interstate where I had gotten off to do the detour. Well apparently they had changed the detour since he did it last week because he thought we'd just get on south bound I-15 and take the next exit adn get back on going north, only the south bound entrance ramp was closed also. So he followed that detour sign and the next thing we know, we're cruising our 70 ft, 80,000 lb truck right down the strip! Oh yeah! What a thrill. You know the big tower in all the pictures that looks like the Seattle space needle? Well, yeah, we drove almost all the way to the base of it before the detour took a turn towards the interstate, and we were finally to get back on the big road and out of town.
So its safe to say that, having never had any desire to go to Las Vegas to begin with, I've now had the only tour of Vegas I EVER hope to have. It was not a fun experience, but shortly after it was over, it did become one of those things "you'll laugh about later." Once we were free from the clutches of sin city, it was a little humerous, but only because we had escaped without being hijacked, mugged, or severely chewed out by law enforcement for being in the wrong place.
After that stressful adventure, combined with my increasing allergy issues (I am apparlently allergic to Southern California) I was ready to go to bed and forget it all. So thats what I did, after we fueled the truck and said our "I'm sorries" for the rather heated discussion of "how did this happen."
If you ever go to Vegas and want to take the driving tour....please consider your type of vehicle first. I wouldn't advice anything larger than your average SUV. I do have to say though, if your going to do it in a larger vehicle, Tuesday night around midnight is a great time for it. There's not much going on, few vehicles on the road (by Vegas standards) and not many people around.

November 30, 2008

Our Thanksgiving Weekend

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving! From the ones I talked to, it sounds like they had a nice time.

Fortunatly for us, we managed to get on the road about mid-day Thursday. We were literally the next to the last truck to get loaded before the warehouses closed for the day. Whew! Lucky us! The others were left sitting till Friday to get loaded.
We also managed to get a good Thanksgiving meal, even if it wasn't home cooked. There is a resteraunt there in Yuma, AZ where we've eaten before. It's right next to a truck stop, so we're able to park and walk there. And they were open on Thanksgiving and of course had the traditional Thanskgiving dinner on special. We got it all, including the "I've over eaten" gross feeling afterwards! Actually Malcolm had the Prime Rib. He's not a big turkey person. But I had the turkey and dressing with mashed potatoes, carrots, salad, and a roll, and it came with your choice of pumpkin pie or caramel apple bread pudding. I had the bread pudding and it was really good, but I could only eat about 3 bites of it cause I was so stuffed and it was my turn to drive. Good thing it was still daylight or I would have been asleep as soon as the truck started moving.
So that was our Thanksgiving day. We drove all day, all night and got to Billings around noon on Friday. We dropped the trailer at Steve's and went home. Malcolm's mom and sisters had come to Billings to do some shopping so we did go out and meet them for dinner, and afterwards ran to Lowe's so Malcolm could try and figure out why our smoke detecors are going off everytime we come home. He thinks maybe they are going out. They are the type that are wired into the houses electracal system so we have to flip a breaker to turn them off and that turns off the power to the upstairs bedroom and bath. While he was doing that, I looked at artificial Christmas trees. I think I'm going to try and get one in the after Christmas sale. I'm tired of spending money on real trees, and I'm really tired of putting lights on trees. Those pre-lit trees are a magnificent idea. Wish I could come up with somethign brilliant like that and make my fortune!
Saturday when we woke up, Malcolm had a head cold, and was feeling rotten so he spent the day in the recliner with all three of the girls. They watched the Star Wars marathon on Spike TV. Ella also mastered the going up and going down of stairs all on her own in less than a day. She loves to go up to our room and play....and potty....so we have to watch her. She'll follow Carlie upstairs, and then Carlie will leave her and come back to the basement where we are. Ella won't go down those stairs yet, so she gets left by herself upstairs to do who knows what!
Yours truly went Christmas shopping. I got a little done, and had a good time, and also had a lot of other places I wanted to go, but I decided to hit Walmart and head home early because we were leaving that night. So I got home around 3:00 and fixed dinner. All I have to say is "thank you Walmart" for the rotissery chicken. I've heard they are really good, so I decided I wasnt' going to cook and make a mess and I wasn't going to have yet another boxed pizza. I grabbed a chicken, and boiled some new potatoes when I got home. Add to that the left over biscuits from breakfast and it was a great meal. Delicious. And since we hadn't had a "home" Thanksgiving, I also bought a frozen cherry pie and some vanilla ice cream and we enjoyed that while we watched more Star Wars.
We started to leave around 8:00 last night, but once we got to the truck in the garage with all our stuff and the girls, Malcolm discovered we had a flat tire. So he has to patch it and air it up, and so we didn't actually get out of there till almost 9:00. And so here we are, in Salt Lake City on our way to Los Angelas.
I talked to Grandma on the phone Thursday and she asked if we had moved in yet, which reminded me that I had pictures of my kitchen that I wanted to post. Its one of two rooms that are finished in the house, and its my favorite room right now. Check it out...
And because its a log house, it has these little cubby holes that just happen to house my chicken collection perfectly.
Well I guess they don't show up that well, but you can kind of get the idea.
Back to my rotisserie chicken from Walmart. I have a recipe for you that I cooked last time we were home. It calls for two cups of shredded rotisserie chicken. I didn't have one so I just used some regular chicken, but here's my thoughts....go buy yourself a walmart rotisserie chicken adn have it for dinner. But before you serve it, pull off two cups of chicken. Now you've got two meals out of the same bird. Also this has two jalapeno peppers in it, but it is NOT hot! Seriously, its really good.
One more note before I share the recipe. The recipe calls for bacon, but its used as a garnish, so my non-bacon eating friends can easily leave it out. And it used the bacon drippings for sauteing the veggies, but just use olive oil or butter.
Easy Posole Skillet
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 c snipped fresh cilantro
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 med zucchini, sliced
1 mid green pepper, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 sm onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 c chicken broth
2T all purpose flour - or - masa harina
1 can hominy, drained and rinsed
2 c shredded rotisserie chicken
2 c shredded chihuahua cheese (or mozzerella)
Cook peppers, onion and garlic in 2T bacon drippings over medium heat for 2 minutes.
Add broth and flour and cook 1 minute.
Add hominy, chicken, and zucchini and cook three minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and stir in half the cheese. Top with reserved cheese, tomatoes, bacon and cilantro. Cover and cook two more minutes.
Now, mine got too thick so I ended up using the whole can of chicken broth, which ended up making it more like a stew, but it was really good. And I held back the tomatoes, bacon, cheese and cilantro and just used them as garnishes on top of the served dish. And I served it with cornbread muffins.
This recipe was really good, and it was a perfect meal for two with some left over for lunch the next day. Hope you give it a try and enjoy!

November 26, 2008

Leap of Faith

I'm using this picture to demonstrate something. This is from probably close to a year ago, maybe a little less than that. The girls are not the subject I'm demonstrating here. Its the distance between the seats in our truck.

Paris was timid and took a few months before she'd jump from Malcolm to my across the "great divide." Carlie Jean, bless her simple heart, was almost a year old before she'd do it, and she still has to rock back and forth a few times before she takes the plunge.

Ella on the other hand....NINE WEEKS OLD! Yep, she made an unexpected leap of faith yesterday. Neither of us were expecting it and so its a good thing she made it across and landed on all fours, cause she could have tumbled to the floor. Since that moment, she has leaped the chasm several times. So now we have to keep an eye on her because she doesn't hesitate, and also doesn't always quite make it. Carlie is in AWE of her bravery!

Ella now has a couple of nick-names. Malcolm refers to her as the "black baldy," because she looks like a black baldy calf (though she has some spots coming in on her face that will remedy that.) He also calls her "flea" which is kind of cute. But more often he calls her "the demon," in loving tones of course. And I have to admit she often lives up to that name, though she is extremly loving and sweet too. She has more spunk and confidence than either of the other two..of whom Paris hid under the kitchen table for teh first week, and Carlie Jean to this day waits for permission to jump on the bed before she'll do so.

My name for Ella I created yesterday....Ella Minnow P. Ok, don't laugh but it comes from the abc song. You know....A, B, C, D, E, F, G. H, I, J, K, elliminnowpee. I don't know how old I was when I figured out that those were letters and not a word in the song. Anyway, Ella Minnow has to P frequently, so....you get the idea. Speaking of...she just left a little puddle. Excuse me a moment...

Ok, I'm back.

We're in Yuma, AZ and our last appointment is at 4:00am, not that we'll be loaded by then. So obviously we WON'T be getting home in time to have Thanksgiving. In fact we may very well be having Subway, since thats about the only option there is on I-15. But thats OK, cause it makes it a less guilt ridden, though brief, break next time we're home. We've been on produce since we went back to work after our last break. The cattle shipping has come to a screeching halt for some reason, maybe the holiday. But Steve put us on produce, which is fine. Its a little less action, but we get some rest while we wait at various shippers and it changes things up a little which is always nice.

As you can see in a couple of the picutres, Miss Ella Minnow has her ears up already though I still keep her taped because her ears don't stay up. They'll droop after almost a full day of untaped. She threw off her tape, again, a little eariler so I snapped a few pictures before I retape them! I've learned that its easier if I wait for her to get tired and fall asleep. She doesnt' fight as much. She's getting close to that point as we speak.

She's tired now becuase she had a traumatizing experience earlier when we locked her in the kennel while we went in to eat. She gets EXTREMLY insulted when that happens and frankly who can blame her since she's the only one being put in solitary confinement. I guess thats the big girls one consolation to having a baby sister. Ella has to go in the kennel so they get to stay free roaming in the truck. And they have adjusted to her finally. Even Carlie Jean enjoys rough housing around with her.

Ella's a rather violent girl when it comes to playing....right up Jean's alley. Even Paris gets in on the action sometimes.

We were home Monday for a few hours and I have her a haircut.....holy moly.....I'm not sure who was more tired when we were done, her or me! She sure put up a fight though, and I had waited for her to exhuast herself running around. It was quite a bit different from doing a quick buzz over Carlie and Paris's faces and a spot or two on teh back. Ella was covered in 1/4 inch long fuzz, the results of a weeks worth of hair growing. She's already fuzzy again. I'll have to take a before and after picture for you next time I shave her...which will be soon cause she's alreay got that five o'clock shadow so to speak.

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. The demon starting to stir so I'd better get to work on those ears.

November 22, 2008

Other Stuff From Home

Ok, so here's the other part of what happened when we were home. We got home on a Sunday evening. Monday morning, Malcolm went downstairs, sat down in the recliner, reclined, and saw this.....

Well actually at the point where he saw it, it was a big white bubble. This was taken after he cut it with a knife to let the water drain out of it. You see, it would seem that the kitchen sink was plumbed with copper and the pipes had corroded to the point where they finally cracked....while we were gone. In fact it was so small a crack it took us a couple of hours for us to figure out where the water was coming from. A big clue was when I was standing by the kitchen sink and mentioned that I didn't remember the seam of two of the boards being sharp, at which point Malcolm got this "dread" look on his face, came over and pushed on the boards, and water seeped up between the seams. Lovely! So not only the ceiling in the basement, but water under the wood floors in the kitchen. Fortunatly the insurance covers it. The adjuster came out on Tuesday to look at it and estimated it to be about $7500 worth of damage, unless the sub-floors are also bad. We won't know that until we rip up the floors, but he said just let him know and they'll take care of them too. The joys of home ownership....

On a brighter note, I finished my book while I was home. So here's another recommendation from me.

This was kind of a long read, but I really enjoyed it. It's also recommended by Opra, and most of her recommendations are worth reading. Check it out sometime.

November 21, 2008

Ella's Home

Here's Miss Ella, home at last. She's SO pretty. I'm very happy with her. And though she's quite a bit more hairy than my other girls and will be more of a grooming challenge, she's exactly what I wanted.

Like I mentioned yesterday, Carlie is kind of in denial, but she's doing a little better every day. Today she stood still while Ella got in her face and barked a very high pitched bark at her. Actually it wasn't one bark. Ella pretty much told her off! But Carlie took it pretty well. And Malcolm's adjusting too. He doesn't like all her hairyness, but every once in a while I'll catch a scene like this.....
Somehow, she keeps ending up in his lap. Malcolm and all his girls! How sweet!

I tryed to get good pictures of her, but she was worn out from her very busy morning or eating, running back and forth through the truck, and pestering her sisters. She just couldn't stand up long enough for a picture. She's still cute though.
I can't decide if Paris likes her or not. She plays with her, but then she gets really irritated with her if she's in the way of eating, in my lap, trying to snuggle with Paris during nap time, or generally in her way. I almost wonder if Paris views her as a really neat wind up toy that won't stop playing when Paris is finished. But she does occasionally tolerate Ella's snuggling.