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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Salmon Bread and a Drive Through Farmer’s Market

“OHHHH……is that Salmon Bread?”

My analytical, literal brain spends several seconds contemplating what this question means……… Salmon bread? Bread with salmon? Lingering over the question and the long pause makes for an awkward moment….a common situation for me. “What ARE they talking about?” my brain asks.

Finally, I answer “yes”. Yes, this is yummy salmon bread just as it hits me; Salmon bread not salmon bread. As in Salmon, Idaho; Odd Fellows Bakery in Salmon, Idaho. It is fantastic and a highly sought commodity in my circle; particularly the 80 mile seed loaf. It’s so amazing; you’ll never be able to eat any other bread.

It’s great for sandwiches, toast, french toast or just ripped free-handed apart from the loaf and eaten plain in the car after picking it up resulting in your spouse freaking out that our bread has been attacked by a rodent. No….no; just me driving with my knees and ripping bread apart on the way home; no rodents involved.

It is a bit of a trek to drive to Salmon, Idaho for a loaf of bread, even if it is the best bread ever. No worries. My ‘drive through’ winter farmers market gets a delivery most weeks. Not every week, not even on a regular basis; this is the rural western United States after all; we have different priorities. Sometimes it snows and everyone goes skiing instead of making bread. Or sometimes all of your friends are going to spend a day floating the river; it’s easy to flip the sign to closed. I appreciate this business model and remain a loyal customer even when they are too busy enjoying life to make bread for a Hamilton delivery.

Did you say “winter drive through farmers market”? In Montana? Yes; it is amazing as well. Each Tuesday I receive an email from The O’Hara Commons that the market is open. You can order online from Sunday until early on Wednesday for a Thursday pick up. Lots of great items to chose from. Potatoes, beets, winter squash, kale, chard, carrots; kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha; herbal salves, local coffee beans, lentils, farrow, chickpeas, barley and homemade soups from Homestead Organics and sometimes a large selection of baked goods from Long Fellow Bakery. All local. This is also a wonderful business model that connects local businesses to customers during the long winter months when most of your business must depend on locals. I love it and highly recommended shopping there if you are living in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana.

O’Hara Commons Mission Statement: Utilizing and developing available resources to benefit community through education, resource sharing and demonstration gardens in a manner which builds local economy, promotes healthy food options and develops regional self-sufficiency

On Thursdays from 3:00 to 5:00 you drive through the driveway of O’Hara Commons where you check in, drop off your empty jars that you picked up in a previous order and pick up your CSA (Community Supported Agriculture; another genius business idea). Then drive around to the back side where a member volunteer brings you your order all boxed up and ready for pick up. Super simple. COVID friendly and actually it was COVID inspired. I love all of the COVID inspired businesses and work arounds that are now common place.

Sam is the inspiration of this business and the smiling friendly face that usually greats you dressed in her skirt, leggings, puffy jacket, stocking hat and muck boots as she directs traffic and calls into the house for your order. She is an inspiration and a woman full of goodness. I watched her stop in the Walgreens parking lot and unload a box of food to a mom sitting in her car with a handwritten sign asking for help.

This week I picked up bread, a gallon of squash soup, potatoes, onions, spinach, and a jar of Tim’s Tomato Sauce. My heart is happy to have all of these local goods in my fridge. Tea, did I mention tea. And I’m trying to get my daughter’s friend to sell her frozen dumplings there too. And chapstick. No need to shop nowhere else. You should just go to the website and place an order on Sunday.

No Salmon bread this week though. Now if you’re like my friend Carol (who gets mentioned in this blog more than anyone else), you have a pick up planned while the Salmon Bread driver is coming through on her way to the drive through farmer’s market. It’s like some kind of drug deal happening, Subaru hatchbacks raised on the side of highway 93, cars zooming past, bread and money exchanged and they both drive away after the deal.

In the summer months you can enjoy an actual Farmer’s Market every Wednesday afternoon on the lawn of the O’Hara Commons. You’ll find an ample supply of local produce and even a pizza cart and live music. And Salmon bread, the longest line at the market.

Now if you’re on a hike with me or cross country skiing and we stop for lunch, you can ask; “Is that Salmon bread with homemade hummus and kimchi and spinach from the O’Hara Commons drive through farmer’s market’? I’ll say; “why yes…… it is”.

Looking for a book to read while you enjoy that sandwich? I highly recommend “The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot” It is an emotional roller coaster and well worth the ride. Thank you Carol for the recommendation.

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

It’s About the Focus

The mosquitos were relentless. The sun had baked us like a microwave from the inside out. We were coated in a think film of sweat and dirt. The climbing was endless. We had 25 pounds of gear on our backs. I could feel the start of a migraine. I was excited to strip off my clothes and walk into the cold mountain lake; our destination. The mosquitos were excited for that as well.

The lake water was cold, almost too cold. We walked in 6 inches of muck sinking with each step, struggling to keep my flip flops from being eaten by the mud beneath the water. The struggle led to me falling in which was probably the only way I was going to get all the way submersed. The cold took my breath away. I headed back to the shore and attempted to get dress as fast as possible before being eaten alive.

We were in our happy place.

What is it about the outside, nature, the physicalness, and the social bonding with humans and dog that not just trumps the uncomfortable aspects, but creates a desire for more?

It’s winter now, a time to reflect on a wonderful season of backpacking and plan for the next one. I’m sitting in my favorite writing spot, Big Creek Coffee, having a golden milk steamer with oat milk. It’s 20 degrees out, the inversion of fog frozen on the bare tree branches. I have my stocking cap on inside. People are studying, drawing, visiting and collaborating. A group of grey haired women have their seed catalogs open as they plan their gardens. The buzz of humanity enjoying itself is where I like to write. The golden milk soothes my sore throat.

The Selway River, Bear Creek to Bryan Lake, Little Rock Creek, Watchtower Creek and Boulder Creek.

It started with our annual trip of backpacking the Selway. Six days, 56 miles, five of us started at the trailhead, but only three made it to the finish. The weather was perfect, more clouds, rain and cooler weather than previous times. The days were still long, but we had added in a layover day this year. A day off between two 14 mile days. The weather and the lay over day were game changers and noted in journals for the next time.

Rattlesnakes, a black bear mom and two cubs, Osprey; just to name a few who shared the days with us.

The trail is sometimes down by the river and other times climbs high above for amazing views of the drainage, surrounding wildnerss area and the rapids. The Selway is known more for its world class white water rafting than hiking. We arrived at our camp on the evening of day two at Moose Creek Ranger Station and Moose Creek Air Field, a back country landing field.

There are camps along the airfield, but no water and camps on the river that you have to share with the rafters. I can’t tell you where we camped because we were sworn to secrecy by Ranger Ronnie, a seventy plus retired ER Nurse, who now volunteers as the Moose Creek Ranger and hosts the trail crew that stay on the property.

Serendipity. Jen arrived first and had arranged this secret spot that had drinking water, a fire pit, a stack of split wood and even a dilapidated old outhouse. Heidi and I arrived an hour later where Jen was set up to watch for us and take us to our special camp. It was late and we had not seen Amy and her daughter Mattie, since we left them that morning at camp. Amy and Mattie were well equipped with new gear that they’d never used before. They shared a tent and other supplies to make their packs lighter, but Amy still had the heaviest back of all of us. It’s a tough lesson your first time out of what to bring and what to leave. Heidi and I set up our tents. I went to relieve Jen and ran into Ranger Ronnie. She was out walking the area with a jelly jar of red wine. Amy and Mattie arrived while I talked to Ranger Ronnie. It’s two days before the summer solstice so daylight is not an issue, but arriving into camp at 6:00 pm is not ideal.

Amy walked up to us in a make shift cast and sling. She had fallen and broken her wrist. It was swollen and fifty shades of purple. We had to get her out. There were some pretty good drugs and tequila to help Amy get through the night. We used a Garmin “in reach” to text Jen’s husband, Ravi, and see if he could fly into Moose Creek the next day to get Amy. The weather was not conducive to flying due to the clouds and rain, otherwise Ravi would have already been there with fresh fruit and cold beverages. But now he had to come in or call in a rescue helicopter. Ravi sat at the Hamilton airport all morning waiting for a window, it’s a twenty minute flight up and over Lost Horse and along the East Fork of Moose Creek. At 11:00 he landed next to our camp. He brought wine, beer, big apples (you really miss the fresh fruit on a long backpack), and a bubbly water and salty chips for me. One bottle of wine and some apples went to Ranger Ronnie for her help communicating with Ravi on the satellite phone and nursing our patient and just because. We packed up Amy and Mattie into the plane which was too small to haul out their backpacks too. The next morning the three of us continued our trek, a fourteen mile day to Bear Creek.

Some may look at this as an unfortunate adventure. We did not. There were so many good omens. So many serendipitous series of events. One broken wrist was not the focus. People helping, good attitudes, raiding Amy’s backpack after she flew out, visiting with Ranger Ronnie after dinner, cool rains, and the healing energy of the forest. That was the focus of the adventure.

What are we reading? I’ve read so many good books, but right now I’m reading a great novel “The Rose Code” by Kate Quinn. An historical fiction during World War II. A team of code breakers, making the best of a difficult situation with good people. Humanity is good. It always has been. It’s our focus that needs work. Fun book to get lost in. I highly recommend it.

Yoga Time

It’s 4:30 pm. Time to leave for yoga class. I’m not a regular at this class, just a fill in. My friend who hosts the class at her house had texted me earlier in the day. Her husband had SARS and there was a space available. I thought he was sick. Turns out he was at Search And Rescue training (not sure what the last “S” stands for).

It is a clear, sunny day as I drove up my soggy driveway, making ruts in the snow melted wet dirt, up to the road. My road doesn’t have as much sun as the driveway and was still snow covered. It was like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride meets a self driving car as the snow ruts would take over guiding me in a zig zag direction. You must be an aggressive driver in this situation in order to not drive off the mountain. No sight seeing or dilly dally-ing. Drive like you mean it…….. at least until a white tail deer or two jump across your path, at which point you must stop and take note if more are coming; leading to both deer and car being in the same place at the same time. Not a good situation for either. I watch the other deer who have not crossed, they watch me, I watch them, they watch me. I inch forward and continue down the hill as they patiently wait. My aggressive snow rut driving continues for several minutes before I’m stopped by wild turkeys meandering slowly down the road. They hear my tires noisily rolling over the half frozen snow, look back, clearly annoyed by my invasion. They cross in an obligatory fashion as more and more and more come up from below the road. It is a large family. A rafter of Turkeys. They live in the neighborhood. Finally I make it to where the pavement starts. No more rutted dirt and rutted snow. This is where I meet Julie. She is already there having had a similar driving experience from her side of the neighborhood.

We take Highway 93 to Rye Creek. Back to the dirt, snow, ice mix. It is slow going. We pass Mule Deer, the bigger cousin of the white tail, grazing on the melted south facing hill side. Elk are probably watching us too, but we don’t see them. It is seven miles to our turn at North Fork of Rye Creek. At just past the junction of Rye Creek and North Fork of Rye Creek we come to our friend’s driveway. We park at the bottom with the yoga teacher and wait for our shuttle up the driveway. The driveway is exactly one mile in length, 500 feet of elevation gain and has five switchbacks. Jen shows up in her UTV; Utility Terrain Vehicle also know as a side by side due to the fact that you sit next to the passenger, like a car, instead of behind the passenger (like a motorcycle or horse, or ATV; All Terrain Vehicle). Just to keep you up on all the acronyms, as I don’t want you to think I have SARS or something. The UTV is meant for two people. We manage to make it a four person UTV. Behind the cab is a two foot bed (like a truck bed, not a bed bed). I sit in the bed. It is a five minute ride up the driveway in the chained up UTV. If it weren’t for the two by four screwed to the floor of the bed I would have been on my ass in the driveway with no one hearing me over the noice of the UTV; it is that steep. I’m surrounded in the two foot bed with yoga mats, yoga blocks and yoga blankets as we all bounce when going over the metal water bars periodically placed in the driveway to keep it from washing down the mountain during the spring melt. One yoga block bounces out of its bag and almost off the back before I catch it and tuck it safely back into its place. The start of the ride is cold. North Fork of Rye creek is a narrow drainage that sees little sun. As we rise up in elevation, the sun peaks over Trapper Peak and adds some warmth or at least the illusion of warmth. Finally we reach the top of the driveway and load our yoga gear into the house, set up our mats and it is now 5:30, time to start the 75 minute yoga class. I’m fifteen miles from home and left an hour ago.

Yoga is delightful and practically worth the adventure to get to it. There are five of us participating as well as a four year old and a four month old. They don’t get it.

As soon as class is over we don our coats and muck boots (boots designed for muck)(muck=half melted snow and ice and mud). And Jen grabs warm blankets for the ride down. Julie volunteers to ride in the bed this time which is an unfortunate choice and a fortunate choice. Unfortunate as in the sun is down and it is colder. Fortunate in that we are going downhill, so she is leaning against the cab the whole way and not having to put her knees in her chin with her feet on the two by four in order to stay in the bed as I did. I ride bitch (middle seat) and have to have my head in the wind shield as there is a gun rack in my back. The UTV is not enclosed, the windows are zipped to the open night air. We are frozen solid by the time we reach the bottom of the driveway. Julie and I jump in her car and get the heat blasting. We drive back to my car. I pull into my garage at 7:30; get the fire roaring in the wood stove, make hot chocolate and read my book. What am I reading? Always a loaded question. I’m reading “Cracked Pots”, the sequel to “The Clay Girl” by Heather Tucker; “Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari and “The Healed Empath” by Kristen Schwartz.

I’m not going to recommend a book this post. I’m going to recommend a series on Netflix, I’m going out on a limb here, but I enjoyed this series so much that I want you to try a season and see what you think. This was recommended to me by my children and it took at least a whole season to have a relationship with the characters, but then we were family. It is a comedy with heartwarming life stories. There are six seasons and I just watched the last episode. Then I watched the documentary about the making of the series and how this sleepy unknown sitcom became an award winning series. I’m recommending the Netfix series “Schitt’s Creek”. Try a season.

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

Wild About Books 100 Posts Celebration

Hooray! We are celebrating our one hundredth post here at the Wild About Books Blog World Headquarters in Darby Montana.

I have a very special celebration book recommendation for you, I’m so excited!!!

But first, let’s reminisce:

August 4, 2014 was the first post; over seven years ago, and it was just a short introduction into something I had no idea how it was going to play out.

I had to teach myself how to use WordPress; took two online classes. WordPress has progressed a lot since then and I need to take another class. “The Invention of Wings” was our the first book recommendation. The original intent of the blog was to be a bookclub in which others could contribute. It then evolved into a venue for me to recommend books and to write about life in Montana and other adventures. As my long ago friend Bannister Allen used to say “If you don’t have adventures what do you talk to people about”. Adventures don’t have to be epic backpacking trips. They can be as simple as going to the grocery store or post office, especially in small town Montana.

Every day is an adventure; every friend a king.

Seventy two people follow my blog. You can follow too by clicking on the “follow” button to ensure that you never miss a blog post ever again. A number of these people I don’t even know. I have not figured out how to make money with my blog, but probably not possible with only 72 followers. Really not the point anyway. I started writing seven years ago hoping to write myself right out of my current job.

Haahahaha.

I’ve gotten lots of comments on my blogs, 90% of them from my mom, which are all appreciated. My favorite comment was from Heather Tucker:

Thank you for the ‘spectacular’ review of The Clay Girl. I’m delighted you ‘saw’ that the book was more about everyday heroes: a few good men, kind teachers, loving aunts, sisters, a solid friend… than about the abuse.

A little imagination, creative work and a companion that will roast brussel sprouts for us is how we survive and thrive, isn’t it:)

I read that comment and had to google the name of the person who wrote it. Turns out; it was the author of “The Clay Girl”. That was super exciting.

My proudest moment of the blog was when I wrote a letter to Barak Obama and then actually printed and mailed it to him “Dear Barack“. Four months latter I got a hand written reply from the White House; “Reply from the President“.

By far the most viewed post was “The UPS Man“. That one is worth reading again.

Quick note to the reader; you can click on the blog titles in this post and it will take you to the original post in a new tab in case you want to read it.

I’ve been a guest speaker several times in the Darby High School senior government class to discuss my blog and always read, out loud, my “Last Call for the Grover” post. Adults pooping in a can seems to get 18 year old’s attention, even if they don’t act like it.

The post most likely to make you cry “Guest“. The post most likely to make you smile “Wedding Week“. One of my favorite adventure posts was “Canoeing the Missouri” and snowboarding with my buddy “Burton Deja Vu Flying V“.

And now for the big news. Our 100th post book recommendations. Yes, it is two books. One by John and one by Jon. Both Darby, Montana residents. Both friends of mine.

First, I want to thank John Phillips for being my inspiration to get my ass in gear and start writing again. I realized that we both have a lot of Montana stories, some in common, that need to be shared with the world. I also realized that John’s book is a collection of stories, as my blog is a collections of stories. I plan on working on my second book, which will be all of these blog posts. Maybe John will help me get that together.

After reading John Phillips book, I know why he is such a recluse, holed up in his house on a mountainside with no phone. Now I understand why, when John Phillips comes into town to workout at The Right To Bare Arms Gym, he wears his dark sunglasses on the elliptical machine. The whole time John Phillips has lived in Darby, he has been collecting anecdotes for his book. And everyone is fair game. From our town marshal, Larry, to haircutting icon Hope, to Right to Bare Arms trainer, Heidi. Mostly John tells stories on himself. Sometimes I think he must just set himself him in ridiculous situations for the story alone as no one can be this, um…….well……. let’s just say……read his book. It is a hilarious rendition of small town life in rural western Montana and the people and animals that live there. John can sound a bit pretentious and maybe somewhat cynical, but that is his style and it just adds to the book. Although, some may take it as a slam to their community and character, hence, the dark glasses at the gym. At times in the book, you may feel stuck while contemplating his obscure and dated analogies, but persevere, shake your head and keep reading. And I guarantee your vocabulary will improve by the end of the book. My first book recommendation for our celebratory post is “Four Miles West of Nowhere” by John Phillips. (If you are closely related to me don’t buy this book as it is waiting for you under the tree.) I truly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Jon Turk makes his second appearance in Wild About Books blog. I’ve already recommended his book “Crocodiles and Ice” in a previous post. Jon says he lives in Darby Montana, but this 75 year old is actually a nomad. He never sits still. His travels and adventures are a life this writer dreams of. He moves with the seasons, choosing to live in a ski town in Canada for the winter, mountain biking in southern Utah for the shoulder seasons and back in Montana for the summers. He has been nominated by National Geographic as One of the Top 10 Adventurers of the Year. “Crocodiles and Ice” was about his time circumnavigating Ellesmere Island in a sea kayak. His new book, which is the second book recommendation in this celebratory post; “Tracking Lions, Myth and Wilderness in Samburu” is about his time in Africa. Jon’s books should be read with a highlighter. There are many good lines worth noting. Jon’s travels are conduits to spirituality as I believe all adventures are. Jon’s writing makes you love the earth and its people, makes you believe in humanity and makes you want to care for it all. And then it takes a reality turn and makes you question our ability to care for the earth and its people. Jon takes a hard look at the climate crisis. His book is a plea for everyone to wake up and take responsibility for our selfish use of the earth and its resources. I’m only half way through as I write this, so I’m not sure of the final trajectory of this book, but my friend Carol says it is a wonderful ending and Jon’s best book yet. Like John Phillips, Jon is one to tell stories on himself as he stumbles through the harsh terrain of Africa with his new friends and guides. So many sentences in Jon’s book are not just a statement to move a story, but a life lesson worth contemplating.

“My fear and my weaponry are not only unnecessary; my fear has been creating an emotional and situational environment that might create danger and require fear.”

I highly recommend John and Jon’s books, and not just because I know them; they are both really good books.

Thank you followers and readers and commenters of my blog Wild About Books. Thank you for reading my posts even with the typos and grammar mistakes. Thank you for letting me use you as my audience as I practice my writing. Thank you for accepting my thoughts and sharing my adventures.

More great book recommendations and adventures can be found at Wild About Books. Click the link and hit follow.

Grand-parenting 101 in 2021

I’ve written about both of my grandmothers in this blog, Mamaw and Orphans, and today I’d like to write about my experience being a grandmother as well as giving some advice to new grandparents.

First of all, I can’t work any of the baby gear. I can’t get the car seat out of the car, I can’t open up the stroller, I can’t open the safety bar to the stroller and every time my daughter mentions turning on the “hatch”, I have a deer in the headlights look trying to remember what the “hatch” is.

Basically, the baby, is still the same as always. Eats, cries, pees, poops, poops, poops, poops. The diapers are grandparent friendly, with the back clearly labeled “back”, assuming you are changing the diaper with your glasses on, which I recommend. I also recommend not skipping the quality control step of the diaper operation in which you check that the elastic around those cute chubby thighs is not folded under itself leaving an escape route for the many different varieties of poop consistency or lack of.

There is an app for everything parenting(expect for diaper changing, that remains the same). There is an app that tells you how long your baby slept and that there is movement detected in their bed as well as the temperature and humidity of the room. There is an app for the bassinet that manages the rocking intensity and womb mimicking noises. There is an app showing you how to cut up food for each baby age. There is an app to control the “hatch”, a white noice and night light machine, that travels with the baby like a diaper bag. Also………. I broke the Bumbo and I forget to put on the sleep sack at bed time.

“Where’s the sleep sack?”

Having heard “sleestak” (from Land of the Lost); I put my arms out straight perpendicular to my body and start making sleestak noises; SHEEEESH SHEEEESE……..whereby my husband, shakes his head having not grown up watching Land of the Lost and constantly asking if I make this stuff up and there is a pandemonium of generational confusion. This is to be expected and I recommend laughter as a general next step to the confusion.

New grandparents, if you are like me and have a serious streak of not getting sick; you can kiss that shit goodbye. My granddaughter is a crawling petri dish. She brings things home from daycare and distributes them around like a Scott’s weed and feed spreader. From stomach flu to colds to hand foot and mouth; we’ve had it all. That kid has copious amounts of mucus that never stops. I’m surprised we haven’t wiped her nose clean off her face.

Olive and I are famous for doing our dueling impression of Animal from the Muppets. We bobble our head back and forth and go AHHHHH, with our mouths wide open. One day, as I was holding her, I started the AHHH assuming she would follow suit, but instead, she decided to do our other favorite mimic game and did a raspberry, spitting into my AHHHH mouth with millions of specks of baby spittle landing in my vulnerable mucus membrane. I was doomed and ended up visiting the Walk in Clinic for my “weird rash”.

And, holy cow can this kid eat. She went straight from breast milk to pancakes, avocados, bananas, lentils, sweet potatoes, ravioli, and peanut butter yogurt. Like her mother and her mother’s mother (me) she never misses a meal. As her mother says, “second breakfast is the meal before first lunch”. My granddaughter also feeds herself. Food is everywhere and some of it ends up in her mouth. Some of it ends up in the trough in her bib and lots of it ends up on the floor where there are two dogs willing to endure an occasional wack on the head from a heavy duty plastic flying drink bottle in order to have first dibs on all the food ending up on the floor. Solid food has also led to the diaper pail moving from next to the changing table to the back porch.

But here’s the secret…..even with all the sickness, mess, diapers, random fevers and car full of baby supplies that I can’t seem to work, this is one of the very, very best times of my life. I love this baby so much. I’m so lucky that she lives only 70 miles away. I can easily go see her for the day or the weekend. And she comes to visit me just as much. We stack blocks, play with the busy zoo, read books, wrestle the octopus, walk laps around the kitchen table, hacky sack, watch Waffles and Mochi, and even hiked to remote Hawaiian beaches. When I catch her eye in a group of people, she grins this shit eating grin and starts to bobble her head back and forth and I bobble my head back and forth and we both know that this is a special connection we will have for a long, long time.

Olive and I would like to recommend two books. Our very favorite is “The Wonky Donkey” by Craig Smith a really fun book for both the reader and the listener (I also recommend the song) and “B is for Bicycle” by Scott and Jannine Fitzgerald; an alphabet book in which B is for Bicycle, Q is for Quick-release and V is for Valve (presta and schrader).

And I would like to recommend a book that is on my shelf waiting to be read. “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell you She’s Sorry” by Fredrik Backman. If you haven’t read Fredrik Backman, I also recommend “Anxious People” and “Brit Marie Was Here”.

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

Thanks for the Braces and Other Montana Political Issues

Let me set the scene for you. When I walk out of my local gym, The Right To Bare Arms, and look into the neighborhood surrounding the gym, I see three flags flying in the wind. One says, “Biden is Not my President”, one says, “Trump 2024”, and one says “Fuck Biden”. I drive to work and in the parking lot I see bumper stickers that say “God, Guns, Trump”, “Straight Pride” and “Waterboard Obama”.

I could run for political office, but I would not win. I am well liked in my Montana community, but I am a not a Republican, I don’t go to church, I’m not legally married to the man I’ve lived with for 14 years, I don’t own a gun, I’m pro choice, and a vegan. But the nicest vegan you’ll know as a high school senior told me while backpacking the Grand Canyon. Annie, I said, how many vegans do you know? None, she answered, but I’ve read about them on facebook.

An employee at work was in a world of trouble for posting a racist comment on social media last year. He was supposed to complete a series of social justice tasks in order to continue working. Instead, he resigned. We were recently discussing this list as we posted the job and I mentioned that I was reading Ibram X. Kendi’s book “How to Be an Antiracist”, and I imagined the ex-employee had probably not read that book. Several hours later my co-worker, who had obviously been stewing and had taken offensive to the book I had mentioned; went on a tirade. For ten minutes straight he told me that it wasn’t his fault that black people had been enslaved. He shouldn’t be made to feel guilty. That he fought side by side in the military with black people in the army. That they would have died for each other. He worked his way to where he was and they had every opportunity he had. If anything he was the victim. He was discriminated against. There was nothing I could say. I did not have the words for a defense, which was a good thing. Words would have been like salt on a wound. Saying anything would have only made the situation worse. I listened. The best thing I can do is be a person that he respects. A person that has built a relationship with this co-worker. And just like the high schooler who now actually knows a vegan, he knows someone who stands behind the statement “black lives matter”. Not just knows…..but is conflicted by the fact that they know, love and respect a person with such different views.

I was in another conversation with a co-worker who made a derogatory comment about having to “pay for braces for half the kids in this town” (as in socialist health care; as in the state’s children’s health insurance program for low income families). I’m not even sure what the conversation was when this comment was made. My response; ……”first of all, thank you for my daughter’s braces…….. and the shoulder surgery. And; just to let you know both of my children are successful and contributing members to society. They’ll even pay you back, or…… they are more likely to pay it forward.”

In another work related conversation. I was in my office working, while a meeting took place at the conference table outside of my office. Four professionals were discussing the need for a transgender bathroom. Our junior high has a boy identifying as a girl and also a girl identifying as a boy. These four people were brainstorming which bathroom to turn into the transgender bathroom. I could feel the flames coming out of my ears in anger, but I said nothing. Finally, as the meeting broke up and everyone left except my co-worker, I walked into the conference room and said. Here’s a great idea! Let’s remodel the existing bathrooms. Make four individual bathrooms, each with their own entrance, each with a toilet, urinal, sink. Each big enough that it could double as a changing room as well. We’ll call them…..wait for it……bathrooms. Genius.

Even though I feel like I can not make a difference in my republican county by voting, campaigning, or donating money, I can be a person that people listen to. I can be a person that make people think again. But I can only be that person if I have invested the time to be someone they trust, someone they respect. I can’t be an in your face raving lunatic, my way or the highway bitch. I have to be willing to listen and have a discussion in which we both walk away contemplating the others view.

I give a shit. But I do it in my own way. Maybe it’s by not putting up a “Black Lives Matter” poster.

What book am I recommending? “Think Again The Power of Knowing What you Don’t Know” by Adam Grant. I’d loan it to you, but my good friend, a republican mormon, is reading my copy.

Read about more great book recommendations and adventures on Wild About Books.

River Time

Even with this hot smokey summer, we managed to get out and enjoy adventures. Scoring a permit on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River becomes exponentially more difficult every year since the advent of the world wide web. Everybody and his brother puts in for permits for a river they’ve never been on without the equipment or skill to accomplish this endeavor. This leaves the local river rats to scramble for cancellations. And that is how we managed to float a section of the Salmon River that we had never been on.

The put in for the Middle Fork is Boundary Creek, which you drive to via Stanley, Idaho. BUT, when it is a hot dry August the water level is too low to float a loaded boat that far up river. Late season floats must start at Indian Creek put in, only accessible by plane. We reserved our plane as quickly as we put together our group.

Two catarafts, one raft, five people, two dogs. We disassembled the rafts at home. Normally you would take your assembled raft on a trailer to the put in. When you buy a raft, you assemble your raft, you never disassemble it; unless you are flying in. The frames come off the rafts. The rafts deflated, rolled up and wrapped in a tarp. The frames broken down and labeled and duct taped together, coolers full of food and drinks, dry bags full of tents, sleeping bags, clothes, arts and crafts, games, books. Oh, and oars; nine foot long oars, four per boat, two of which are spares. Don’t want to be up a creek without a paddle. Low water has been known to break an oar or two.

We hit the road at 6:00 a.m., pulling trailers for the take out (no need to disassemble for the takeout as it is an easy drive home, practically in our back yard in Montana measurements). We arrived at the Salmon, Idaho airport with time to spare to walk the dogs and unload the trucks. Flying in river floaters is the main income for this airport; which was nice as they were all on river time.

What is River Time?

It’s no time; as in who cares what time it is; as in “I’m hungry, must be time to eat” or “I”m tired, must be time to sleep” or “I’m hot, must be time to take a polar plunge.”

What is a polar plunge?

Well it doesn’t matter that it is nearly 100 degrees, the water temperature is still melted mountain snow, getting in is always a polar plunge leading to loud whoops and prominent nipples.

There was other gear on the runway waiting to be taken in, just gear, no people. All of our gear was weighed before being loaded onto the plane, then we helped load the other gear onto the planes as well. The pilot had also recorded our weights. “Dogs in the back seat” he said. We loaded them as if they were children. “Lisa next, then Heidi and Brett and finally, Scott and Shannon. Two planes. We put on ear protection and our seat belts. The dogs were unsure, but both yellow labs, Molly and Zoey, knew that they trusted their mom and dad without a doubt. Although, Zoey did spent most of the flight with her head in the floor. Molly watched out the window in awe.

A thirty five minute flight, then we landed on a dirt runway, on a large flat field just above the river. There were piles of gear everywhere. Cases of water, beer, wine. Apparently some people still start at Boundry Creek and then have their heavy stuff flown in to pick up at Indian Creek. We unloaded the planes and started the task of putting the rafts back together. Hauling all of the gear down to the river. This was an arduous task, we were ready to break into the hot cases of beer. Luckily, we had reserved our first night’s camp three miles downstream. Which was damn good since we got on the river at 3:30 and the going was slow. The river was still low at this point and there was a lot of low water river dancing in the boats trying to get them unstuck without getting out.

What is “low water river dancing”?

This is jumping up and down on the boat as you try to get the water rerouted to give you an extra lift up and over the shallow area and then to do a pelvic thrust against the front tubes of the raft as if you are having sexual relations with your raft to nudge the raft in your intended forward motion. Getting in and out of the boat is easier said than done. Once you get out and literally drag your boat through the shallow section, the boat starts moving on it’s own once you have drug it to the deeper section, now you are deeper too and must jump on this loaded moving non piloted raft (and don’t forget the dog).

We saw eagles, osprey, mergansers, chuckers, big horn sheep, a family of river otters, two different bears and one rattle snake who rattled a friendly howdy to us on our morning walk on the trail. We had wonderful camps, great food, passed commercial groups of thirty people (that’s a lot of shit to haul out; refer to post “Last Call for the Grover” for more explanation). But the memorable part of this six day adventure for me was being precariously stuck on Tappin Falls.

As the middle boat in the pack, we watched as boat number one loudly dropped out of sight over the maybe six foot drop known as Tappin Falls. Loudly as in scraping over numerous rocks. We took on the falls a little more to the right to avoid the rocks. There was no avoiding the rocks no matter what route you took. It was already a narrow slot with few options to begin with. As we began to drop over the falling water we came to a complete stop. Picture this; because unfortunately no one took pictures, our 13 foot raft has started to go over the falls, so the front, where me and Molly sit are in a still frame of action. The back of the raft, where our oarsman who will remain anonymous is still in the yet to crest the falls spot. I am practically on the same plane as the falls and have no ability to do the low water river dance. I’m looking for a safe place to jump in case the raft starts to flip. The un-named oarsman is able to slow water river dance with no results, he or she, tries using the oars for leverage against the numerous rocks (we have spares) and finally gets out of the boat and onto a rock. Are you still picturing? As the oarsman stands on the wet, slippery rock at the top of Tappin Falls he is able to pelvic thrust the raft inch by inch off the rock. Remember how I said it is difficult to get back in the raft. It would be impossible in this particular situation. Ah! But also remember there is another boat behind us. Shannon has floated to shore, tied up his raft and walked to the falls. The oarsman who shall not be named, was able to climb back into the boat. At this time the front of the boat is further down the falls and the water is flowing over the front tube at such a velocity this self bailing raft is filling up with water. Shannon holds on to the perimeter line while the other person climbs back in. Shannon lets go and off we go like a stainless steel pinball ball plungered down the shooter alley we shot through Tappin Falls, bouncing off rocks as big as houses, spinning our way through and finally gaining control of the boat as we eddy out with boat number one for a breather. Whew, what a ride. And Molly trusted her mom and dad the whole time, without a doubt.

More great adventures as well as book recommendations can be found at Wild About Books.

Trees, Backpacking and a New Book Selection

Selway River

I woke up on day five of my 2021 backpack of the Selway River and pulled myself out of my cozy sleeping bag. It was daylight, the river, within rock throwing distance, was still flowing. First order of business; pee. I find my glasses and my flip flops, unzip the tent and pull myself up from the ground. I walked a short distance, out of view from my fellow backpackers and squatted to pee, that long morning pee, sweet relief. I took in my surroundings. The tree right in front of me waved. I looked to each side, in search of an explanation. Looked to see if a breeze was blowing all of the trees. Having found no explanation, I waved back as I stood up from my deep squat. I assumed it was an adolescent tree and had not been taught to stand perfectly still in the presence of moving creatures. I went back to my tent happy to have experienced this tree interaction. Happy that I was in the wilderness, carrying all the possessions I needed on my back and walking on my own two feet for over 50 miles. I think if I had been driving up my driveway and a tree had waved at me, I would never have noticed. Maybe trees are waving at us every day.

Actually it was a book that has me noticing trees more. The book I’m recommending (after a long ass hiatus) is “The Overstory” by Richard Powers. This novel reads like a non fiction. It flows like poetry. The first several chapters read like a collection of short stories. I googled the book eight times to check that is was not a collection of short stories. I also recommend taking notes so that when the stories weave together you are able to remember who is whom. This book is a work of art and is now one of my top ten. I highly recommend “The Overstory”.

My backpacking trip to Kerlee Lake this year was a tree bonanza as well. We stopped to smell the vanilla of the Ponderosa Pine. We stopped to study the needles and how they grew and felt on the different species. Some needles are soft, others are pokey. We studied the bark and the many different patterns and colors. And as we walked my backpacking companion, Heidi, would tell me where she was in the book “The Overstory” allowing me to experience the book again as we hiked through the wilderness.

Trail to Kerlee Lake

My backpacking trip to Boulder Lake was a new adventure. I had been as far as the falls, but never to Boulder Lake. We headed out after work on a Friday afternoon. There was one car at the trailhead and we passed those people heading out as we hiked in. We had three good hours of daylight to get to the falls where we would set up our base camp for the weekend. Me, Heidi, my yellow lab Molly and one can of bear spray. We stopped to enjoy the views of the fall colors of the changing aspen and larch. We followed the creek with the canyon walls on both sides of us. The one to the north, the backside of Trapper Peak the tallest peak in the Bitterroot Mountains. When we arrived at camp, we quickly set up our tents, sleeping bags, pads, pillows and collected firewood. We set up our chairs and found our Jet Boils and backpacking dinner choices (dehydrated meals, which are very tasty). Heidi, being the always prepared thinker aheader that she is, also went to search out a tree for her p-cord (nylon parachute cord). She would be ready to hang her bear bag after dinner and would not have to find a good tree in the dark. The toughest part about hanging your food is finding the right tree in a pine forest. The second toughest part is getting the p-cord up in the tree without knocking yourself out with a rock. I didn’t have to do this as I use an Ursack (a virtually puncture proof kevlar bag) that you just tie to a tree using a figure eight knot. It is a lot of trust in a product, so far so good.

Boulder Creek

We made a fire, boiled water for tea and our dinners and waited for our meals to rehydrate while watching the stars come out. After dinner we cleaned up, brushed our teeth (toiletry bag has to go in the bear bags). As I was loading my extra food, toiletry bag and dog food in to the odor proof bags Heidi came out of the darkness, headlamp shining my direction, having been gone for a while, holding her food bag. She looked at me and said “I can’t find my p-cord…..I don’t know which tree it’s in.” We laughed and laughed and scared all of the wildlife, including the bears deep into the forest and far away from our camp. “Do you have room in your ursack?” Of course I did, it’s an extra large ursack for those long Selway trips. I too am a always prepared thinker aheader. This is why we adventure so well together. We both went to sleep laughing.

Good Gravy. Where have you been?

Good Question. Where have I been? Not writing blog posts, that is obvious. I did have have my son and daughter-in-law here for almost 3 months. They managed to hit Montana just right; able to play golf and tennis and go snow shoeing all in one visit. We celebrated birthdays, births and COVID. Maybe we managed COVID, not celebrated.

Mask on. Mask off.

We tried out new board games, ate in an outside bubble…….

Mask on…Mask off.

I’ve also been busy being a grandmother. Now THAT is a good time. Little Olive Poe is a huge ray of sunshine in our lives, a game changer, a keeper, a loud pooper; I mean that girl has noises coming out of her ass like a 70 year old man. She doesn’t appear to realize those noises are coming from her.

So….that’s where I’ve been. And now it’s ski season, cross county skiing, snowboarding.

But you know I’ve been reading a shit ton between all of this. So many books, so little time. My book club had four books to choose from and I read all four. “Little A Novel” recommend; “The Book of Longings” recommend; “The Vanishing Half” don’t recommend and finally the book recommendation for this post “Anxious People” by Fredrik Bachman. This book is highly entertaining. Amazing characters and lovely dialog. Countless lines worth highlighting. You could highlight this whole book. I’m enjoying it immensely.

Looks like lots of winter weather out there in my blog following world. Good time to read. Or ski. Or hold your daughter’s daughter. It has just warmed up to 3 degrees above zero here. We’re waiting for it to be 5 before we head outside and get some exercise, walk the dog. Cleaned out the spice drawer, then the pantry. I’ll do the refrigerator next. It’s that kind of day. Valentine’s Eve. It’s a hot chocolate kind of day. Brett says we don’t have to have Hot Chocolate rules when it’s this cold outside. Everyday’s a hot chocolate day. Especially with my recipe. I’ll share it with you.

Lisa and Brett’s Everyday is a Hot Chocolate Day Recipe (ours is vegan, but you can make it not vegan). This recipe is for one hot chocolate, you’ll have to multiply by the number of people who want some.

10 or 12 oz Non Dairy Milk, 1 T Cacao, 1 T Sugar, a bit of salt, pinch of cinnamon, splash of vanilla, 1-2 tsp chocolate chips; all of this is heated up in a pan, whisk it some while heating. Then add to a mug with mini marshmallows and/or peppermint schnapps. Takes about 6 minutes to make. This is so good you’ll have to make hot chocolate rules, unless it’s really cold, then; no rules. Although my sister’s theory is if it’s that good why do you limit it? Limit the crappy things not the good things. Do MORE good things. Like writing blog posts. I’ll be more on top of it now. Read. Write. Read. Write. Write about reading. It’s what I do.

Drink hot chocolate.

It’s a good thing.

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

Pledge

I:  the nominative singular pronoun, used by a speaker in referring to himself or herself.

Pledge:  to promise solemnly

Allegiance:  loyalty or devotion to some person, group, cause, or the like.

To

The

Flag:  a piece of cloth, varying in size, shape, color, and design, usually attached at one edge to a staff or cord, and used as the symbol of a nation, state, or organization

Of

The

United States of America:  a federal republic mainly in North America consisting of 50 states and the District of Columbia: colonized principally by the English and French in the 17th century, the native Indians being gradually defeated and displaced.

And

To

The

Republic:  a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them

For

Which

It

Stands

One

Nation:  a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own

Under

God: (in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

Indivisible:  not divisible; not separable into parts; incapable of being divided

With

Liberty:  freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control

And

Justice:  the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness

For

All:  the whole of