Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weekend Update

Hello out there in the blogosphere! Kate and I have been busy working and commuting from Bridger (Jon) to Boise (Kate) during the last week. We spent last weekend in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho with our nephew, a bunch of mountain biker/hiker friends from Boise, and six dogs. The cabin was south of Stanley, Idaho, on a ridge just a few hundred yards above the Salmon River; breathtaking.

Saturday there was hiking or biking for everyone, and rumor has it there was also a bit of swimming for Troy. Kate went to mountain biking camp in Ketchum, Idaho on Saturday and the rest of the boys rode the Sawtooth Mountains. The ride really took the wind out of my sail. After not having ridden in a month, I really bit off more than I could chew. We rode all 19 miles of the Fisher Creek loop from 6700 ft to 8200 ft. It was brutal for me, but worth every minute of it to check out the scenery.

On Sunday, some of us decided to ride from the 4th of July Creek Road, elevation 8720 ft. We had to work with the Forest Service guys to clear some trees from the road to make our way to the trail head.

Jon, Kate, Troy, KJ, and Ryan
(not pictured: Molly, Erin, Jim, and the dogs)

We eventually had to turn back because there was way too much snow. What an experience!

The following week, we headed back to Montana separately. On Wednesday, Troy and I made the drive in 11 hours and Kate made it in 10 hours on Thursday. It sure is nice to be here on the ranch. Upon our arrival, we found that someone out there ordered a nice gift for the residents of rural southern Montana.

Thanks, we enjoyed it here in the Clark's Fork Valley.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And Then There Were Three

This past Friday I was sitting outside Papa Joe's restaurant, at the base of the hill that leads to our neighborhood. A cute, friendly dog was running around the patio. I thought he belonged to some folks a few tables away.

Unless you have absolutely no powers of deduction, I'm sure you see where this story is headed.

Our dogs are currently in Montana with Jon and the house has been very quiet. I didn't check with Jon first because by now, he knows the deal with me and stray dogs. Firstly, they find me. Secondly, I somehow feel that it is my karmic duty to help them find good homes and I don't understand why more people don't feel the same sense of responsibility.

I got a piece of rope from our waiter, left my bike locked to the rack at the restaurant, and walked home with a stray dog. I stopped at our neighbors' house so that new dog could meet their exuberant black lab Eddie, as Eddie was going to be staying with me Saturday and Sunday. The dogs got along famously.

On Sunday, I took new dog to the vet to be scanned for a microchip (he had none) and then to our local pet store for their monthly low-cost vaccine clinic.

Monday morning, I found new dog's picture while flipping through the newspaper classified ads in the adopt-a-pet section:

I was almost certain that was a picture of new dog (tentatively named Gus the night before)! I called the number in the ad and when the woman answered, I said I was calling about the dog she had for adoption. There was a pause on the line. She sighed and then said, "well, unfortunately, he ran away a few days ago." I told her that I thought I had him and she commenced to tell me his story.

Turns out that her father Jim was working on an asbestos abatement project on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona and new dog was hanging around the job site. Every day, they pulled up and he was always there waiting for their arrival. A couple of the guys got attached to him and one in particular, a guy named Ray, was going to take him back home to his place in Oklahoma. Well, Ray packed up his truck with barely enough room to spare so new dog dog sat in the front passenger seat. Ray got eight miles down the road and new dog somehow hit the electric window button and rolled the window down. Ray pulled over to remedy the situation and when he did, new dog jumped out and ran back towards the reservation. Ray called Jim who was still at the reservation and he ended up bringing the dog (they call him Red Rover) back to Boise in hopes of finding a good home for him.

Red Rover Gus escaped out of Jim's yard by jumping from a bench over the fence. Apparently, Jim was home for one day before leaving again for another job and Red Rover Gus got pretty stressed out by all of the change, hence his escape. Jim and I made plans for him to come by and pick up Red Rover Gus. He was headed back to Texas that evening, would see Ray again, and could try to hand off Red Rover Gus to Ray once again.

When Jim came by, Red Rover Gus was clearly excited to see him. We chatted for a while and I probed him about his plans. Was Ray a good guy? Did he think this was going to be a good home? Oh yes, he said, Ray and his wife have several acres in Oklahoma City with horses and other dogs. I could sense hesitation, though, and when I pressed a little, he said that he really wants to keep Red Rover Gus but his wife and family don't want him. He was hoping they would come around but he felt compelled to take Red Rover Gus to Ray since he didn't have time to rectify the escape route before he left that evening.

I offered to keep Red Rover Gus for a few days to give Jim additional time to think on it or work on his family. He agreed and said he would call when he returned on Saturday. If his family failed to come around, Jim would see Ray again later in the summer and we agreed that I should continue to try and find Gus a permanent home locally. When Jim left, Red Rover Gus was decidedly upset, whining and pacing for the remainder of the evening (except when I took him over to see Eddie for a play date, during which they both ran around like banshees).

Red Rover Gus is available for adoption, although I wish we could keep him. He's a really neat dog with good behavior and a calm disposition, sort of a playful but reserved Buddhist monk-type reincarnated in a dog body. A neighbor told me today that "res(ervation) dogs" are usually exceptional--generations of harsh social and living conditions means that only the smartest and strongest survive.

I've talked with several people in marketing Gus for adoption and so far everyone has said, "Oh no, I couldn't have a dog right now because of <insert reason here>." I know being a dog owner isn't for everyone and there are some that absolutely should not have pets. We will keep Gus until he finds a home: either with someone great or with us. He is proving to be a lovely dog with a kind disposition, sincere loyalty, and a unique history.

Friday, June 13, 2008

If Pioneers Had Chainsaws

A pile of logs sat on the ranch property just to the right of the little house. Jon always referred to them as old telephone poles but closer inspection revealed that they were logs from the original log cabin. The cabin still stands on the property although it is several logs shorter and was re-purposed as a pig sty.

The logs needed to be moved so that we could get the utility trailer as close to the little house as possible. Brutus and Troy helped us build a fence around the camper in hopes of keeping Cassius the blind dog from wandering.

For the most part, the fence doesn't work. Cassius is smart. He quickly learned where the fence was shortest and followed Tucker's lead in jumping over. Some mornings he's halfway down the lane before we finish our first cup of coffee.

Jon called me one night out of breath; he had taken the dogs into one of the fields and had Cassius running and playing at top speed. Normally, Cash trots along warily; you would, too, if you couldn't see a damn thing. Across the wire, I could only imagine the exuberance of a blind dog running at full tilt without a care, but it gave me immense joy. That is, until Jon told me that Cash ran out of earshot and right into the irrigation ditch before Jon could stop him. But I laughed out loud when he said that unfazed, Cash leapt out, shook off, and resumed his play.

We get such pleasure out of watching this boy navigate the sighted world with his other senses.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Katie’s Been Gone

excerpted from the great Bob Dylan

Dear Katie, don't ya miss your home?
I don't see why you had to roam.

Dear Katie, since you've been away,
I lose a little something every day.
I need you here, but you're still out there.
Dear Katie, please drop me a line,
just write, Love, to tell me you're fine.

Oh, Katie, if you can hear me,
I just can't wait to have you near me.
I can only think,
Where are you,
What ya do, maybe there's someone new.

I have been away from Boise for three weeks; first to Montana for two weeks, then to Raleigh, then to Atlanta, and now back in Boise.

There is no one new and I do long to be home, although these days I’m no longer sure how to define my version of home. Generations of writers and thinkers have stewed upon this question but the answer resonates differently for everyone. For me, for now, I feel unsettled. Is home in Boise in my brick house that is filled with my things? Or is home in Montana, with my husband and my puppies in the pop-up trailer on the ranch? Is home a place, is it a person, or a feeling? My guess is that for me the conglomerate of these things is my home and that I will always feel unsettled without all of them, all together, all at once.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

P Bar Lazy W Update

I just wanted to take a moment to post an update. Some of you know about our latest saga dealing with evicting our renter so I'll not rehash the details. This morning we were in court for our trial. Court is funny out here in the rural west. The judge kicks the mud off his boots, trades his cowboy hat for a long black robe, and then calls his own court into session. In short, we won.

This morning, after 9+ months of trying to be the "nice guys", the Honorable Johnny Seiffert ruled in our favor and we legally seized possession of our ranch and all property that had not been removed by the defendants. Finally! We did end up with several huge piles of trash, a 1969 mobile home converted into a storage trailer, and a large burn pit that the renter buried. Some might have trouble seeing how I could possibly be happy with the outcome, but on the bright side, they are gone. I can deal with trash you can haul to a landfill, it's the trash that takes a judge to remove I can't stand.

So far we've hauled a lot, and by a lot I mean several decades worth of trash (about 5000 pounds) . We probably have several tons left to haul to the landfill. Thankfully, we bought an 8'x18' trailer to handle all of the debris removal.

The house we intend to rebuild is nearly empty. Tomorrow, I'll begin removing the flooring and some of the wall covering so the structural engineer can see what kind of shape the building is in and give us his recommendations on how to proceed with our rebuild. I should be working with a mini-excavator on Thursday and Friday digging a trench for our water and power lines and also doing the prep work for the new septic system that we'll have to install.

It's late now so I better get to sleep, it's going to be a busy day tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day...etc...etc...

P.S. Kate got a new pair of cowboy boots! Talk about the cutest lil' cowgirl ever!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Burning Ring of Fire

We have been on the ranch property for twelve days now. On day one, we built a stout fire ring six feet across of rocks scavenged from the property. All the rain that fell recently makes it safe to burn for now, but that will change soon when the ground dries and wildfire danger heightens. Despite all of the irrigation that allows for farming, one must remember that this is first and foremost a parched desert landscape.

In those twelve days, we have burned logs, limbs, and brush, as well as wood and cardboard pulled from the little house that we are clearing out to renovate.

Our neighbor stopped by around 10:00 pm on Saturday night, having just finished up working in his fields (sunset isn't until 9:28 pm, farmers are busy, and tractors have lights). He leaned down and said to Jon, "Haven't you all run out of firewood yet?"

Not even close.