Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


Harvest Moon


A full moon in the autumn of the year can have many names (full moon, hunter’s moon, and others), but my favourite is “harvest moon.”  Something in that name appeals to the farmer/gardener in me.

I have always loved the feeling of  bringing something in from the garden (besides the dirt on my boots), whether it’s fruit or vegetables I grew, or a few eggs my chickens laid, or some blackberries that grew wild in the backyard. It’s the same feeling I get when I find mushrooms in the woods, or catch a trout for supper.

I think I would have been a good pioneer, but I’m thankful that I don’t have the hard life they had. It’s much easier to enjoy my modern-day hobby gardening and then sit back in my comfortable home and be content.

Here is the kind of meal I appreciate: squash, carrots, potatoes, and chard from my garden, and a lovely trout given to me by a friend. This meal was enjoyed out on the patio near the end of summer.


May we always remember how fortunate we are, give thanks, and help others.



The Used Cow Lot

Montana has miles and miles of ideal cattle grazing country. I did a “drive-by shooting” (with my camera, of course) of these cows…do you call them cows if they’re male too? I never know what to call them. There’s probably a lot of bull here too.DSCN4485

Whatever you call them, there were a lot of them dotting the scenic Montana landscape between Helena and Garrison. As we pulled into the tiny town of Drummond to fuel up, I played tourist while the Captain topped up the gas tank. I got out to take a picture of the “Used Cow Lot” across the street from the gas station.

Notice the sign beside the building advertising “Mentzer’s Livest”? It says: Overnight fees, Cattle $3, Horses $5. Shouldn’t the price be the same for all? That’s just plain discrimination if you ask me. And what do you think goes on in that animal hotel? Mentzer’s Livest? I know the animals must go in there naked, but what are they doing in there to make this the livest show around? Your thoughts?

I’m not sure I’d want to stay there. You can see what happened to the Grim Reaper cow that didn’t get past the doorway. But with those long horns, maybe it’s bull once again.

A used car dealer renting out a cheap shack for naked customers, advertising the livest show? I bet they’re all in there sleeping together and acting like real animals.



Oh no! Wait! I’ve got it figured out. I found another photo that explains it all.




Dust Unto Prairie Dust

Today, I let my imagination run wild over some of the photos I took in beautiful Montana. Bear with me while I make up the silliest story possible to go with my photos.

Dust Unto Prairie Dust

A man and his wife and their adult son lived way out in the prairies. And I mean WAY out. The lonely house stood sheltered by Russian olive trees which acted as windbreaks to slow down the constantly blowing prairie wind and eased the blast of the winter blizzards.


The farmer and his son went out to work the land one day. To take the boredom out of the job, they made a bet as to who would last the longest without stopping.

The son wanted nothing more than to show his father that he was tough and could outlast his old man.

The father wanted nothing more than to show the young whippersnapper who still wore the pants in the family (which was odd because they were both wearing pants).

They each hitched up a horse to their two-wheeled ploughs and sat on the metal seat. The blades underneath turned over the soil while they urged the horses on to drag the contraptions around the fields. The early morning chill soon steamed off them as the sun rose higher in the sky. The young man had ploughed faster than his father but not as deeply. Perhaps it was the extra weight of the father’s beer belly that caused the blade to sink deeper into the ground.Whatever the reason, both horses were sweating: one with having to go so fast and the other with having to pull harder through the soil.

Under the noonday sun, the father’s face become redder. Beads of sweat collected on his forehead and soaked into the collar of his shirt. The young man had hardly broken out in a sweat. The only sign of him tiring was when he wiped his hands on his jeans now and then before gripping the reins tighter.

When they were nearly getting heatstroke and the horses were puffing and blowing, the father was about to give in. After all, he had proven himself over the years and he was tired of this juvenile game. He’d like to go home and have a cool beer and a slice of homemade bread with butter.

“Okay, you win,” he called to his son.

“I know,” the little snot called back. “I’ll race you back to the house.”

They snapped the reins on the horses’ backs and took off with the blades raised up. Heading back towards the house, the horses were dying for a drink of water and, given free rein, naturally, they took off “like a horse to the barn.” Did they care that they had a plough hitched to them as they stepped down into a drainage ditch and back up the other side? No, they did not. Father and son flew off the plough seats and landed in a heap of rocks. The horses had a drink of water from the ditch by the side of the road and then munched grass all the way home.

Seeing the horses in the yard, the wife came out to the fields looking for her two fools. When she found them dead, she pulled out a gently used hankie and dabbed a few tears away. She stopped short and sniffed as a revelation came to her. She was free! She piled the stones over their dead bodies and ran home to pack her suitcase. She coaxed one of the tired horses to take her to the train station. Then she boarded the train and got the hell out of Dodge.


The grass grew high around the gateposts but nobody cared because there was no one to care for miles around. No one lived there anymore, no one came to visit, and no one had a car or truck anyway. And certainly no one had a lawnmower.


Years later, the postlady still comes to deliver the mail. Way in the distance comes her car, but she always drives past the yellow house and its weird mailbox leaving the same thing every time – just a cloud of lonely prairie dust.




While driving along a country road, we saw these mule deer and stopped to admire them. The one on the left must be Frida Kahlo’s brother, judging by the unibrow.  The other didn’t want to move lest he disturb his little beanie that was balanced between his antlers.DSCN4142

I said, “Hi. You guys look so amazing. Would you mind if I take your picture?” but they stuck their noses in the air and said, “Sorry, girl, we’ve got to run now. Make an appointment with our agent.” And this glimpse is all I got of them. Even so I had to hurry to document their departure.


We drove on a little farther and in a very short time, the sun tried the same trick on us. This was the last glimpse we had of the sun for that October day. But I heard it say, as it waved goodbye, “See you tomorrow!”



Are You Kidding Me?

At what time did you say that delivery truck would be arriving to this tiny town? Wednesday at 3 in the morning? And it will take him two hours? Okay, we’ll make sure no one is parking in front of the door at that time. Oh, you mean that door that is barred off and the window that has plywood nailed over it?

I see the place is for sale, and has been for quite a while. I’m pretty sure that is because the owners were struck by a tragedy in the family and that is not to be made fun of, but the street sign is too funny to ignore.

Think about it. Does anyone plan to  park here between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Wednesday? In case you thought the sign was meant for the street cleaner, well … maybe … although it’s unlikely. Wouldn’t you think though, if it was meant for the street cleaner, that he would clean more than just the space in front of this old building? It’s the only sign like it anywhere in the vicinity.



Storm at Coulee City

Approaching Coulee City, Washington, I was impressed that the highway seemed to be what was holding back a huge piece of water that once was part of the Columbia River system.


To the north, Grand Coulee Dam has diverted some of the river’s water to form Roosevelt Lake to the east (not shown here) and, to the south, Banks Lake (seen here, and named for the construction supervisor at Grand Coulee Dam). At the south end of Banks Lake is the small town  of Coulee City.


The land to the south of the highway is nearly dry, with small amounts released to form a trickle of water over what is called the Dry Falls. Banks Lake is used for irrigation of areas close by.

Way at the other end of this causeway, where Coulee City begins, is the town RV park. Just turn left at the end of the road that is holding the lake back, and you’re in the community park.


It was a breezy day but I didn’t worry about it too much because I remembered it being quite windy in this area when we came through here last year. However, the coots that had rafted up at the far corner of the lake knew that bad weather was coming. They made sure to be in the lee of the wind, and out of reach of the coyotes that would start yipping as soon as darkness set in.

DSCN4039I remember thinking how pretty it was, parked under the branches of the Russian olive tree, right by the beach. I looked out the window in the gathering darkness and admired glimpses of the moon reflecting on the water.


But the gusts grew stronger and the trailer shook ever more vigorously as the evening wore on and the wind rose until it was howling like a speeding freight train. Lying in bed, I wondered if we were in an earthquake.

The  Russian olive tree that I had admired earlier was now a bony fingered skeleton tapping on our trailer walls. When we ignored the tapping some of its fingers broke off and skittered across the roof. Then whole arms of the whipping tree beat on the roof and the captain said, “I’m just waiting for the wind to get into a crack and rip the skin right off the trailer. I think we should move. It might be more sheltered over by the shower buildings.”

My ego isn’t big and I can admit now that I didn’t believe there was any place to get away from this near hurricane, but I have to give credit to the captain. He stepped outside as I called from the bed, “Hold onto the door so it doesn’t rip off.” As an afterthought I added, “And don’t … get blown … away….”

A few minutes later, the captain stuck his head in the door and screamed against the wind, “You stay in bed and I’ll drive us up around the buildings.” Slam! went the door, as the wind caught it.

“Okay … ” I whimpered. I looked down at the dogs on their mats. Two sets of eyes bugging out of  furry faces looked back at me pleadingly.

I got up and cuddled one on each side of me as we bounced along in the trailer while the captain towed us to higher ground a  couple of hundred feet  away from the lake and behind a building.

When the truck engine shut down and the captain came back into the trailer, he said, “That’s better. 40 years of commercial fishing has at least taught me something about where to anchor in a storm.”


Things that Go Bump in the Night

I have to laugh because I was going to start this blog with the clichéd beginning that every author has been warned away from:

It was a dark and stormy night….

But it really was! And I was home alone. Well, almost. My spaniels, Ruby and Emma, kept me company by the fire as I watched, for lack of anything better on the TV, “Forensic Files,” all about real murders and how the investigators found the killer in spite of overwhelming odds, by using expert forensic techniques.

Everything was peaceful, except for what was on television, which I had turned to a low volume. Then a sudden thump that sounded like someone throwing a heavy boot on the window, nearly had the dogs and me jumping out of our skin.

The dogs reacted as expected, which was to leap up and run toward the source of the noise, barking as if their lives depended on sounding as loud and fierce as possible. If I’d been a potential intruder on the outside of the house I would have been over the hills and far away as quickly as I could say, “Hounds of Baskerville.”

I raced from room to room turning on lights. On the back deck, I waved my hand in front of the motion sensor that lights up the driveway. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I got the big flashlight out, saw the bear spray in the drawer, and told myself, “I can always get it later, if there’s a threat outside.”

I turned on the front deck lights. Nothing there.

Thinking it might be Halloween pranksters a few days late, I shone the light down towards the front door to see if anyone was hiding there.


A big bird was crouched on the cement landing in front of the door. He looked just like the one I had photographed in Montana a couple of weeks ago. This is what he looked like as he flew up and into the nearby trees.


Later, I wondered what this owl was doing here, so close to the house. I hear the owls often in the fir trees nearby but they never crash into our windows like so many songbirds do. My conclusion:

He saw the plaster cockatoo that I had brought from Mexico, hanging in the window. With the weeping fig nearby, he wouldn’t realize that the cockatoo was inside the house and that there was a window pane between himself and the bird. He was probably making a swoop down to grab him when he hit the window. He flew away easily enough after sitting, stunned, on the front landing for a while. I really hope he didn’t hurt himself too badly.


I’ve taken the cockatoo down. Don’t want a repeat of last night. Also, after my nerves took such a beating, I’ve decided it’s not a good idea to watch scary shows when I’m home alone.