Wild About Books

Wild About Books is about reading good books and sharing how they impact your life.  I’ll guide you in our monthly book selection, but there will also be references to many other books in the weekly posts.

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Adventures in the Big Hole The Sequel

Leap Day 2020.  As my mom observed, we spend three years leaping over February 29, those should be the leap years and this should just be a regular year.

How many months have 28 days?

Answer:  All of them.

Road trip to the Big Hole.  As I described in the resent post “May Creek Cabin“, the Big Hole is a mecca of entertainment for the adventurer.  On leap day we took a day trip back for more  adventures.  As winter is trying to morph into spring the snow is less and  less in the 50 degree days. What snow there is, is turning to a solid mass of ice in the 20 degree nights.  A cycle of melt/freeze creates difficult snow adventures.  But not on leap day 2020.  We left the house with the car packed full of cross country ski gear, hot soup, more snacks, large down coats, swim suits, flip flops and a towel.

First stop, Gibbons Pass Road at Lost Trail pass to cross country ski.  Two things about Gibbons Pass Road:  First, this is one of those places in America that honors a person in history, General John Gibbon, a war “hero” who lead the genocide of the Niimíipuu Indians (renamed the Nez Perce by the French for their pierced noses, although it was only the Chinook Indians that pierced their noses, so a complete historical misnomer).  Now, Gibbons Pass is just a place name for most people who don’t give it a second thought as to the history behind the naming.  This makes my heart sad.

Second, Gibbons Pass Road is my favorite example of “can’t we all just get along”.  This multi-use area is professionally groomed on a regular basis.  On a busy Saturday you will find cross country skiers, skate skiers, fat bikers, show shoe-ers, snow mobilers, and the occasional dog sled team.  Everyone respects each other’s chosen venue of outdoor winter recreation.  Dogs play, people wave or talk or at least smile as others go by.   It’s a beautiful example of a wide array of backgrounds, political beliefs, retired people as well as families all respecting the resources the natural world has to offer.  This makes my heart happy.

On this particular Saturday, it was 25 degrees and snowing.  There was two inches of perfect snow on top of the groomed icy snow pack.  It was perfect.  We had a schedule, but that schedule was out the window, as soon as our skis glided effortlessly and quietly through the freshly fallen snow.  This out and back trek brought us back to the car for a Hydroflask full of hot white bean soup which I devoured for it’s warmth and calories.

A quick change of boots and dry hats and gloves and our biggest down coats  and we were on our way to our first Ski Joring event (as spectators).  Wisdom Montana is a town of 98 people and an elevation of just over 6200 feet above sea level and 277 days a year that the temperature hits below freezing.  5c7480a409c2e.image

The ski joring event takes place just outside of town at the Wisdom Airport.  Ski joring consist of a slalom course with gates, jumps and a grab the ring off the pole obstacle for skiers (or snowboarders) while being pulled through the course by a horse and rider.   The place was packed with participants and spectators.  The tailgating parties were in full swing with barbecuing, consumption of alcoholic beverages and lots of visiting.  Even 25 degrees, mostly cloudy and  a bitterly cold wind didn’t deter this group.  (That’s a pretty mild day for the Big Hole.)   And you could head over to the beer garden where you could purchase hot coffee and Kahlua, hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and of course, jello shots.  The food truck was an enclosed snowmobile trailer with the side door open where people stood in line for kielbasa sausage, chips and cinnamon rolls.  The announcer booth kept you informed of the upcoming contestants and their times.  Mostly the electricity to the booth kept going out which didn’t seem to make or break the event.  Just down another jello shot and call it good.

Next on the agenda,  a soak at Jackson Hot Springs in Jackson, Montana.  This town of 111 has a commercial natural hot springs.  I’ve been going here for almost 30 years.  It has changed owners 3 times but the place has not changed one bit.  Same concrete pool, same weird changing room in which the door opens out to the second floor above the bar, oops, cover up, the door is opening.  Oh. Wait.  They did pull up the red shag carpet in the changing room, that was a plus.  Going from the inside to the outside to the pool is always a challenge.  Having the tips of your hair freeze is normal.  And getting back out  soaking wet is another hurdle.  But all worth the effort to get to relax and soak in the warm water on a cold day.

Another good day of Big Hole Adventures.  And what’s a good book to go with Big Hole adventures?  (I’m not kidding this place is really called the Big Hole).  Ivan Doig’s “Last Bus to Wisdom” and “The Whistling Season” or “The Big Sky” by A. B. Guthrie Jr.  or “Tough Trip Through Paradise” by Andrew Garcia or  “Undaunted Courage”  by Stephen Ambrose.  I’ve read and recommend all of these books.  Quarantine yourself with a good book.

How do you get down from a horse?

Answer:  You don’t.  You get down from a duck.

More great book recommendations and other adventures can be found at Wild About Books.

The Blind River

I’ve floated many rivers.  The Salmon in Idaho, the Owyhee in Oregon, the Smith, the Missouri, the Flathead, the Yellowstone in Montana and the New in West Virginia.  These were all in rafts, canoes or inflatable kayaks.

This past Christmas holiday I got to float the Blind River in Louisiana.  In a motor boat.  A totally different experience and one I’ll never forget.

Lesa and Jed LeBlanc invited us all (a family of 10) to their camp on the river.  They called it a camp, but it’s a structure.  A house.  A house on raised footings to keep it above the swampy river’s edge.  Everything in the camp has to come in by boat.  They picked us up at the St. James Boat Club, a happening spot for weddings, reunions and blood drives as well as a boat launch to a multitude of camps.  It was rainy and overcast on this winter day in Louisiana as we walked onto the boat.  We were offered beer for the ride, the boat owners having already cracked one open.  The Blind River must have been named due to the continues S-curves this river takes as it flows though the swampy cypress trees.  You can never see past the next curve.  We passed many camps on the way to Lesa and Jed’s.  You could see the old ones that were no longer kept up slowly being digested by the river.  Many different stages of houses being swallowed by the water.  Other homes were alive and well and thriving  with the vegetation and wildlife.

We pulled up into the covered boat slip and walked the dock towards the modified doublewide, careful not to slip on the slick wet wood.  Everyone was offered beer as Lesa passed out Michelob Ultra to the group.

“Y’all like any of those fancy beehs?” Lesa yelled.  “We got a couple of those fancy beehs in heh.”  She held up a sample she’d dug up from the bottom of the large cooler.  It wasn’t an IPA or a Wheat Beer as we were hoping, but an orange flavored Coors.  No one was interested in the fancy beer.

The dock was clearly the place you hung out even in the drizzle.  Being wet is just part of the package whether it’s drizzle, humidity or because you are walking through the yard. Lesa brought out her double basket deep fryer, a fancy Tupperware breading colander and a large bowl of just caught, cleaned and cut up catfish. We were having a fish fry.  I popped open my Michelob Ultra and watched Lesa in action.  She could start her own cooking show right here on this dock.  She breaded, fried and talked; never stopping; dumping a basket of hot fish onto a paper towel covered plate as we all grazed and picked and ate.

The Louisiana accent is a character in itself.  Not always easy to understand but definitely distinguishable. A combination of fast southern, French and black and a dash of a Boston accent.  Don’t pronounce the r’s as well as a few other choice consonants and there you have it.  A deep Louisiana accent.  Oh, and don’t pronounce the g’s either, but that is redundant since I already said “southern”.

“Zach, get me a beeh bo, I need a beeh.”

After a few good batches of fish, Lesa fried up a few bags of onion rings and french fries.  I have to say that this vegan, who rarely eats fried food and watches her alcohol consumption for fear of a migraine imbibed on this Louisiana breakfast; every single bit of it.  And it was good.

As we were feasting on fried foods, the neighbor pulled up to the dock in his motor boat.  I believe that is life on the Blind River; fishing, eating, beer and visiting.  The neighbor had been deer hunting and came face to face with a very large alligator.  He brought out his phone to show us the pictures of the alligator coming at him.  “Unusual to see one that big this time of year.”

After getting our fill of fish, onion rings and fries, we got back into the boat to go visit other neighbors.  Everyone was very gracious and proud to show their camp to outsiders, especially the ones who came from the mythical state of Montana.

We came back to Jed and Lesa’s visited and fished, passed around more beer and then packed up our stuff to boat back to the St. James Boat Club.  Everyone hugged and thanked each other.  “Come back again”.  “Come to Montana”.  Everyone genuine, happy, comfortable.

I realized while I was writing this post that you may wonder how me and my children came to spend Christmas in a small town in Louisiana; a place where Hannah used a large reusable grocery bag full of just picked kumquats as her personal bag on the plane ride home.  Well, that is a story in itself and a future blog post idea.  Stay tuned.

Spending time in Louisiana made me remember a book that I have already recommended in a past blog and a worth mentioning again.  A non-fiction book, “Strangers in Their Own Land” by Arlie Russel Hochschild.  And for this post I am recommending a historical fiction “Island Beneath the Sea” by Isabel Allende which takes place in the eighteen century and early nineteenth century.  The first half of this book is in Haiti and in Cuba.  After a slave revolt, boat loads of refuges make it to Louisiana where we follow plantation life and the creole culture.

More great book suggestions and adventures can be found at Wild About Books.

May Creek Cabin

One of my favorite adventure spots in Montana is Highway 43.  This is a two lane road that starts (or ends) at Lost Trail pass on the Montana/Idaho border. A place where the Bitterroot National Forest, the Beaverhead National Forest and the Salmon National Forest all come together. It winds east down from the pass through The Big Hole Valley and along the Big Hole River.  This 82 mile highway passes through the tiny towns of Wisdom, Wise River, Dewey and Divide where is ends at Interstate 15.  There are year round recreation opportunities off this road of frost heaves and orange 15 foot tall poles to help guide you where the road is in a snow storm.  Cross country skiing, snow mobiles, dog sleds, fly fishing, hunting, rafting, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, skijoring, hot springs, downhill skiing and cattle.  That is what you can find via Highway 43.  What you will not find is too many people, a mall, stoplights, stop signs, cell service, a fast food restaurant or even a high school.

There is also access to two forest service cabins.  Hogan Cabin and May Creek Cabin.

When I used to reserve one of the two cabins, I had to wait for the “day” that the permits were open, then start calling the Wisdom Ranger Station starting promptly at 7:00 am and dial, busy signal, redial; over and over until I would get through.  By 8:00 all the Friday and Saturday’s would be taken.  Usually I was lucky to get a Sunday night.  Now it’s all online.  I’m not even sure the procedure.  If I happen to think about it in the fall, I’ll go to Reservation.com and see what is available.  This year I scored a Sunday night.  Sunday February 2nd.  It wasn’t until a week before my reservation that I realized why that Sunday was open.  Super Bowl Sunday.  Well.  In my book; The Big Hole trumps the Super Bowl.  Sleeping in a cabin with no electricity or running water, heated with a wood stove on a February night in Montana beats watching four hours of television.

With our backpacks packed, the car full of of equipment, we load the dog and head the 30 miles south to highway 43.  But before going to the cabin we stop at Lost Trail Powder Mountain for some downhill turns.  We stop for three reasons.  One, fresh powder and still snowing, two, we have a season pass and three, it’s on the way and what we usually do on Sunday mornings.  I’ve been skiing this mountain for 27 seasons.  I raised my kids on this mountain, learned to snowboard on this mountain.  The line for the women’s room is always a reunion of some sorts.  Women hugging and catching up while waiting in line to pee.  And lunch in the lodge is three tables deep of friends.

“Did you put in for the river?”  Have you been over to chair four?”  “Loved your blog this week.” “Lisa, I’ve got a book for you to read.”

We say hi to the owners when they walk by.  They also grew up on this mountain, taking over the business from their dad.

Our legs are done with downhill by two o’clock and we head to the car.  It’s too blustery to change into our cross country outfits so we get in the car and drive the 10 miles down 43 to the pull out for May Creek Cabin. It’s much nicer off the top of the mountain for a change of clothes for the next adventure.  Fourteen degrees, but no wind or snow.  One car passes as we get ready and put on our cross country skis.

The May Creek trail runs along the creek and in the trees for most of the two and a half miles to the cabin.  Right at the end it opens up into a big beautiful meadow where you can see the small cabin tucked up next to the mountain on the edge of the meadow.  Serene. So serene with the untouched white snow, the occasional glimpse of the creek flowing, the falling snow starting to slow down as dusk comes unnoticed looking so similar to an all day of snowstorm.

We arrive at the cabin, unlock the combination lock and immediately start a fire in the wood stove.  The thermometer reads 10 degrees outside. The cold has already settled into the logs, nothing is sealed very tight in this historic cabin.  The cabin was built by miners in the 1900’s and was restored in 1993 for recreational use (the year I moved to Montana).  There is a coleman stove for cooking, pots, pans, plates and silverware.  There is a shelve with games, jigsaw puzzles and a cabin journal for guest to write in.  There are four bunk bed style wooden platforms for sleeping, a table with benches and about 100 yards up the mountain there is an outhouse.

After dinner and several games of cribbage we climb into our sleeping bags to read before falling asleep.  Brett is up several times in the night to keep the fire going in the small, inefficient wood stove.  I’m up at 6:00 am, it is still dark out.  I heat up some water for tea, make some yogurt and granola and trek up to the outhouse.  It is dark, in the middle of the forest and it is 10 below zero.  I climb back into my sleeping bag with my tea, my breakfast, my book and my dog. Outside the dark starts to fade away.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  The morning brings clear skies and bright sunshine to this pristine meadow.  Paradise.

The book I’m reading is about a woman mountain climber.  Climbing mountains in the early 1970’s before “woman mountain climber” was a term.  As I read in the cold cabin, she is on Denali, having just completed the first all women team of climbers to reach the top.  But she is now just below the top with one of her climbing partners who has altitude sickness and is unable to continue as she comes in and out of consciousness.  It is night and 30 below zero and they are out in the elements.  Waiting.  Waiting for her friend to recover.  Or die.  You’ll have to read the book to see how this adventure turns out. “Breaking Trail” 

by Arlene Blum is the book recommendation for this post.  A memoir about Arlene climbing peaks around the world, making historic first accents on many of the mountains, the group dynamics wit

h her climbing partners and the dysfunctional home life that molded her into the person she is.

I highly recommend the book “Breaking Trail” as well as May Creek Cabin and Lost Trail Powder Mountain.

More great books and adventures can be found at Wild About Books.


Wild About Books Frequently Asked Questions

  1.  Lisa, you are such a good cook, why aren’t you writing a food blog?

While it is true, I am an excellent cook, I have yet to dabble in food blogging.  I really enjoyed the 2009 movie  “Julia and Julie” about a food blogger who attempted to cook everything in a Julia Child cookbook and blog about it.  Look what happened to that blogger, they turned her blog into a movie.

I’ve had people text me “what should I make for dinner tonight”, and I quickly text an easy and healthy dinner.

Put half a jar of green curry paste and a can of coconut milk into a cast iron skillet.  Add chopped up veggies cook for 15 minutes.  Serve over brown rice.  Cook a piece of meat on the grill to go with it if you want.  The End.

I’ve thought about a blog called “What’s for Dinner?” People talk about trying to come up with new dinner ideas, having gotten into a rut.  I have never had that problem, well, not since having people 18 years and younger living in my house with me.  The only thing better than cooking is eating.  Tonight I had butternut squash soup with roasted chickpeas; three big bowls.

I’m also the group cook and menu planner when I’m on Adventure Based Learning trips with High School students.  Word gets back to me through their mothers that I am a great cook.  To be fair; when you are on the road or in the wilderness or eating outside in a snowstorm; all food is amazingly good.

This past summer I did all the menu planning and most of the cooking for our annual  7 day river trip on the Salmon. These two group cooking jobs made me think about creating menus for groups as a blog.  All of my meals start out as dairy free, meat free and gluten free with options to add any of those items to the meal.  For example;  fajita night; sauté lots of mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash and onions.  Heat up some black beans with onions and cumin.  Warm some corn, flour or gluten free tortillas.  Meanwhile on the grill cook some chicken breast.  Then serve with condiment bar consisting of green onions, cilantro, shredded cheddar, avocado and salsa.

People love it.  My menus  would have correct portions for groups of people and a grocery list and a few more instructions so that anyone in the group could be the cook.  Not sure if there is a need for this.  So, you bring up a good question that I have thought of.  Perhaps when I become a professional blogger I will add food blogging to my repertoire.

2.  Sometimes, while reading your blog, I can’t tell if you are a liberal or a conservative; which are you?

Hummm…why does this matter?  If you enjoy my blog and my writing, I’m not sure if this is an issue.  And I’m surprised that the answer to the question isn’t evident in my writing as I don’t try to hide who I am. I read an article about how we purposefully avoid talking politics when spending time with family over the holidays.  But, as the article said, why are we avoiding these conversations?  How can we understand each other if we don’t communicate and share ideas and reasons for these ideas?  If you recall Wild About Books recommended “Strangers in Their Own Land” about this division and trying to understand where everyone is coming from.  Each side strongly believes they are correct and the other side is wrong.  I listened to the senate impeachment trial last week (periodically) and I see no one budging.  53-47 every single time, no matter how many words are spoken, no matter how many people testify, no matter how much evidence is brought forward.  53-47.  If we don’t talk about politics with family at the holidays how will we ever understand? Living in a bubble with like minded people creates a delusion that the world agrees with you.  It doesn’t.  For example I often think how can we be divided about climate change?  Shouldn’t that be a 100% everyone in?   I guess not.  People believe God has a plan (read “The God Delusion”).  People believe it  is made up.  What??  They believe this as strongly as I don’t.

I believe I’ve answered your question.  I think you would all agree…..  See!…. some progress.

3.  Lisa, I’ve noticed that your writing has improved over the years.  Have you taken classes?

No, well yes.  I have taken a couple of great Adult Ed classes in Darby with Julie.  The classes themselves are more than just instruction, it’s a writers heaven in character development, dialog, and, for some, a great place to grab a quick nap. I think my writing has gotten better with classes, reading books on writing (“On Writing” by Stephen King, “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott) listening to podcast on writing, but most importantly just writing.  Remember the Malcom Gladwell book “Outliers” that talked about doing something for 10,000 hours will make you better?  I believe that.  I think it took me that many hours to become a competent snowboarder.  My body does the work to self correct and stay upright without having to think about it anymore.  As for writing, my fingers fly across the keypad with not much thought to what might come from them.  I often surprise myself when I re-read a blog post.  “Who wrote that?” I’ll say.

4.  Lisa, I noticed that you have a giant painting of an eggplant in your office. Are you aware what that is referencing?  

A Penis.

5. Lisa, you lying sack of shit; I thought you said these post were coming out weekly now.  What’s up with the empty promise?

Oh jeez, you are correct.  I did say that.  And I even intended to act on it.  I started this post over a week ago.  And it seemed like such an easy task.  I will not give excuses.  But I will say that I will never let my writing be a stressor in my life.  It is meant to be enjoyable.  As soon as I post this one I’m going to start the next.   I was trying to make a measure for accountability.  It didn’t work.  I cook dinner every night, I make tea every morning.  Why can’t I write a blog post every week.  I’ll keep trying.  Working on once a week, but that may not happen.

6.  What are you reading now?

I am currently reading Isabel Allende’s “Daughter of Fortune”.  Really loved her books “The House of Spirits” and “Island Beneath the Sea”.  Also reading “Breaking Trail”  about a woman mountain climber who was climbing in the 1960’s and 70’s and not recognized as a climber since she was female.  Good story recommended to me in the ski lodge.  And also reading “The Incomplete Book of Running” by Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me Host Peter Sagal.  And finally, I just started “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Feel free to send any questions to me for the next installment of WAB FAQ.

More book recommendations and adventures can be found at Wild About Books.





New Decade New Book

Oh man, where have I been?  It is definitely time for a blog re-boot. I need this.  And I’ve made a commitment to my followers to keep their book shelves full of good books to read.  I’m slacking on the job.

I’m giving the blog a new look, I’ve updated the list of books that have been recommended over the years (each book in the list links to the post about it), and I’m committing to a weekly post.  The weekly post is just to get me back into writing (Selfish? Maybe, but in the end, it is giving back to my readers as I spark my creativity and practice my writing).

Please feel free to share my blog with your book reading friends, book clubs and fellow adventurers of life.  It’s easy to  click the follow button and never miss a post as they will show up in your email. You can read or delete and move on.

A little history about the “Wild About Books” blog.

I started this blog August 5, 2014.  As with most projects I start, I wasn’t really sure how it was going to evolve.  I had to choose a theme to blog about, something I was passionate about.


That’s what I’ve done all my life with a vengeance.  I found that when I had conversations with people and hear about their life I would always end up recommending a book for them to read.

I gave my friend Heidi the Barbara Kingsolver book “Animal, Vegetable Miracle”.  Heidi, who was not even 30 years old at the time, finished the book then started a garden, built a greenhouse, purchased dozens of chicks and turned her old barn into the chicken condo.  She will not commit to any fall activities with us as she is busy canning and seed saving. The book changed who she is.  When you drive by her house in the summer, you’ll see her big gardening hat working it’s way through the garden spreading love and goodness as she tends to the plants and pulls the weeds.

My long time friend Debbie told me about her husband allowing his old dog to keep living when he was long past due to be put down.  I told her he should read “The Art of Racing in the Rain”.  He put his dog down when he finished the book.  That was the moment I decided I needed to write my blog on reading books.

I’ve written 81 posts (this will be 82). I’ve recommended 34 books and 1 magazine.  I’ve written about adventures from kayaking in Belize to backpacking the Grand Canyon.  I have 57 followers.  I’ve written 63,561 words.  My post with the most views was my letter to Barack Obama.  The UPS man post got the most shares.  My proudest moment was when I got a comment from Heather Tucker author of “The Clay Girl”.  The most fun I had writing a post was the story of my son’s wedding.  It was a great time and fun to write about.  The one I have the most fun re-reading is the mindfulness while cross country skiing post.  And the post I’ve read out loud the most is the post about the river groover.  I read it to the senior government class each year as a guest speaker on blogging.  You have to read it with a British accent; like you’re hosting a BBC special on PBS.

I’ve recently been involved in a book club start up.  I mean an actual get together, face to face with people kind of book club.  A social activity with food and drinks.  The first book we read was “Know my Name” which I recommend that everyone read.  We had a great discussion and immediately set up another book and book club date.

Our current book is also the new book selection for Wild About Books.  “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See.  This is a very engaging book and in Lisa See style, well written.  This book is a historical fiction that takes place on a Korean island.  You learn about a society where the men stay home to cook and take care of the babies and the women work.  You learn about the beginnings of the Korean war.  And you learn about the atrocities, inhumane activities and unimaginable hardships that war brings.  I highly recommend “The Island of Sea Women”.

Hope you enjoy my blog.  Don’t forget to check the “book list” tab if you are in need of a book to read.  Also, please share my blog, follow my blog or even comment on the blog.

Wild About Books


Mamaw and a New Book

I remember sitting in the metal chair with a bowl of beans in my lap in the backyard.  It was hot and humid in North Carolina, even in the shade.  Papaw had picked the beans at his farm that morning.  It was up to me and Mamaw to shell them so she could cook them for dinner.  The metal chair had a small rock to it with it’s u-shaped design that held it up.  Mamaw’s had a cushion.  My feet didn’t reach the ground, but I could make it rock with my body; a fine balance between rocking and not dumping my bowl of beans on the ground.  We shelled the beans, the shells going into a compost bucket, the beans into a metal bowl.  The sound of the beans pinging against the metal.  There was no plastic.  These sounds are nostalgic.  When was the last time I heard beans pinging against a metal bowl?   Sometimes we’d mix up the bean bowl and the compost bowl and throw the item in the wrong bowl.  We’d know it as soon as we released the bean or shell.  The other one would stop, look; we’d both grin and laugh. 

Mamaw was faster than me.  Refilling her bowl of beans;  two to my every one.  She could sit upright in the metal chair; nap and still shell more beans than me.  She wore what she called her house dress, her hair had been done on Friday, a standing Friday appointment.  Her hose, nylons, stockings; I’m not sure what you call them. I always called them pantyhose; whether they were knee highs, thigh highs, footies or actually went all the way up to your waist.  I never put the name together with their actual function.  To me they were all pantyhose.  Kind of like when I used to call my younger sister “dick breath”.  I had never contemplated how one would come to be that name.  Mamaw would roll her knee high panty hose down to her ankles.  They were too hot.  She always had on hose.  Whatever beauty the hose were meant to bring is detrimentally lost when rolled down to your ankles. 

Mamaw would try to make conversation.  But I was shy, didn’t talk much to anyone.  Just observed.  From day one; just observed.  She would ask me if I had any playmates.  I said no.  I said no for two reasons. One, I didn’t know what playmates were and two I was hoping that she would get me some for my birthday.  She never got me any playmates; just gowns and robes.  A set.  Always pale light colors of pink or green or yellow.  Always a sticky itchy, probably flammable material that would drive my highly sensitive senses crazy.  Wrapped in a box from the department store where Mamaw’s friend worked, folded in tissue paper.  I hated them.  Almost as much as I hated the beans we shelled.   Mamaw was of a different time.  A time where your hair was “done” and you wore hose while you shelled beans with your granddaughter.

Mamaw and Papaw’s bathroom smelled like old people. What was it that could make a nine year old label something as smelling like old people? Noxzema? Aqua Net? Dove?  What would a nine year old say about my bathroom.  “Hippies”? The smell of patchouli.  Maybe that’s the new old people smell.  Patchouli.

Mamaw and Papaw had puzzle books everywhere.  Mostly crossword puzzles; word puzzles.  There was usually a jigsaw puzzle in the works on the card table.  Unless it was bridge night, then the card table was needed for its intended use and the puzzle went back into the box.  People don’t have card tables anymore.  Where do they play cards?

Me and my sister got to have snacks in the living room.  Bugles and Fresca while we watched Lawrence Welk or Hee Haw.  Things that we never did at home with our mom and dad, where the beans came in cans and we slept in old cotton t-shirts and watched Laugh In.

Family saga is a great genre to read.  Especially when it’s in another era.  The book selection  is “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” by Luis Alberto Urrea.  A family saga in Mexico in the late 1800’s during the Mexican Civil War.  This is a great story. It follows a well to do ranching family with a hint of ghostly spirits and shamanic healers; grandmothers and granddaughters and panty hose.  (Or, I believe it was actually petticoats).  Don’t let the over abundance of characters scare you off.  Just keep reading and using the chart to refer to who is whom.  It will all fall into place.  Great book.  I highly recommend.  Pantyhose and butterbeans I do not recommend.

More great book selections and a few fun adventures can be found at Wild About Books.

Working Vacation and A New Book Selection

If you’ve been reading my blog on a regular basis you will notice that there are a lot of adventures.  Probably more than your average person.

It occurred to me recently that I am on a permanent working vacation.  Having this epiphany has changed my attitude about my job; in a good way.

Who doesn’t mind going to work when you know that in just a few hours you will be on your mountain bike in the forest on a single track trail system that is both challenging and thrilling and usually empty.  A trail system that is only minutes from the office.

Who can’t go into the office in the morning when they just walked a forest service trail IMG_1681 (1)accessed from their back door.  A trail whose wildness evolves over time from trillium to glacier lilies, to shooting stars, to paint brush and lupine to beargrass.  All of this happening in sequence while watching the huckleberries grow and ripen for the grand finale.  Huckleberries for breakfast.  Picking on the fly.

And the weekends are for floating the rivers which are full of water fowl, herons, osprey, eagles or climbing mountain peaks where the paint brush are bright red lipstick red.  Where the views are three hundred and sixty degrees, where there are patches of snow in July.

Saturday mornings are saved for the Hamilton Farmer’s Market, so much local food.  So many beautiful vegetables.  The longest line isn’t for the lattes, it’s for the strawberries.  Strawberries that are red, red to the center; with so much flavor you feel guilty of treason if you do anything with the strawberries besides eating them just as they are.  But my favorite thing about the farmer’s market has nothing to do with the produce.  It’s the community.  The energy. IMG_1817 Having to walk around groups of visiting neighbors to make your way to the vendor’s stand.  Makes me smile.  Then I’m in a group.  Taking up space in the street as the group grows exponentially.  If you time your shopping right, you can make it to one of the local breweries for a ginger wheat beer and more locally produced food for lunch.

Last week we took a quick two day road trip.  We were never more than three hours from home, but found new places we’d never been.  Pony Montana.  Kind of a half ghost town at the foot of the Tobacco Root Mountains.  We drove into the forest found a campground and set up our tent.  After dinner we hiked a trail for about a mile looking for an undeveloped hot springs that we’d researched.  It was bigger than a puddle, but not big enough to be called a pond.  Maybe a little bigger than our pick up truck.  Let’s call it a pool.  We found a pool of water in the middle of a meadow with a log post fence around it to keep out the cows.  It was 8:00 at night and no one else was there.  We climbed in.  The warm water bubbling up from the earth and then trickling over the rocks into the meadow. potosiThe rocks were slimy with life that thrived year round with the help of the continuous source of warm water.  An oasis.  All to ourselves.  A before bed soak.  Magical.

And that brings us to our book selection.  Thanks to my friend Carol for not letting me not read this book.  She’s been raving about it for some time now and even plans on reading it again.  I started reading this on my kindle as a sample and thought this is not for me.  But what I needed was the book, the actual physical book in my hands.  I needed the social act of going into my local bookstore, seeing the book on the shelf, appreciating the cover, the title. Feeling the texture of the cover.  As much as I love my kindle especially when traveling or backpacking; owning and holding an actual book is far superior.  You see the cover every time you pick it up.  You remember the title because it makes an impression on you.  You can see where the bookmark is placed, how much you’ve read, how much is left.  It’s like eating corn on the cob instead of out of a can.   The book we are reading is “Braiding Sweetgrass; Braiding SweetgrassIndigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  This is a book about weaving our lives and the natural world into one.  Living in a culture of gratitude and creating a reciprocal relationship with the nature that surrounds us.  As soon as I finish this post I will continue reading “Braiding Sweetgrass”.  I’m sitting on my deck in the forest as a thunderstorm settles in, a cool breeze sending the summer bugs on their way for a while.  The echo-y deep sound of thunder reverberating in the Tin Cup drainage.  The sounds of rain hitting the ground  and the metal roof.  A working vacation.  This is the life I’ve created.  I’ll take it.

More great books and epic adventures can be found at Wild About Books.