Out On a Limb

More Miscellaneous, More Nature

“You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.”
Will Rogers

ImageLast weekend we took a nice long hike up to an old fire-lookout.  The structure is no longer there, but you can still see the remnants of the old foundation.  It’s amazing to think that not long ago, men (and possibly women?) were hired to live in these places keeping watch for blazes.  How lonely it must have been.  Perhaps it was also very quiet and peaceful, made more tolerable by the abundance of sweet huckleberries ripe for the picking in late August.  I know that huckleberries are a luxury to us native Montanans, but it breaks my heart to think of all the folks out there who have never tasted one.  We love them on our pancakes, in our muffins, and definitely straight out of the bowl.  Yet, the finest way to sample a huckleberry is to wake up before the sun, drive to a remote location in the mountains of northwest Montana, and start walking.  If you’re lucky, you will be greeted by endless bushes on a south-facing slope.  Find the ones that are dark purple and pluck easily from the bush.  When you bite into it, you will swear you are tasting pure sunshine.


Journey of the Heart

More Miscellaneous, More Nature, More Treasures

“The beauty of the heart
is the lasting beauty.” –Rumi

I spend a lot of time hiking the trails, wandering the creeks, and simply exploring the beauty of northwest Montana.  Last summer we took a special hike to one of the favorite mountaintops of our beloved Hondo – a dog that we loved for seventeen years and to whom we had recently said good-bye.  On that hike (an especially long one, I might add) I decided that I wanted to find a heart-shaped rock to bring home as a memento.  Well, I found a few, and this year, when we returned to that special place, I found a few more.  Once I started looking, they seemed to find me.  So, here’s to Montana, and here’s to the love of a good dog.  They steal our hearts, and they’re never the same, are they?IMG_3239

I Get to Live Here!

More Nature

“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”  ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

I’m taking a diversion from my usual reading-related and crafty posts.  I wanted to do a little show-and-tell of my backpacking trip last weekend.  It was the trip of a lifetime and I was lucky enough to enjoy the majestic Montana wilderness at its best.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to escape from reality and take a backpacking trip into the Jewel Basin wilderness area of northwest Montana.  With 30 pounds of provisions on my back, I joined my husband, dad, and three good friends to enjoy a perfect weekend of nature in Montana.  This was “off-the-beaten-path” hiking. We didn’t see another human being the entire time we were out.  However, we did have some very friendly, and unexpected visitors in our camp.

These mountain goats rarely see people in this remote area, but they were quite friendly and walked right into our camp and didn’t seem bothered by any of us.  After awhile, however, we were happy to see them move along.

If your idea of heaven includes a body of water, this pristine mountain lake is exactly what you would conjure in your mind.  No large lake homes….no jet-skis…no floating contraptions….just the sound of nature and jumping fish.  If fact, the fishing was excellent, and I have to say that fresh fish, caught from a high-mountain lake, cooked over a camp-fire is as good as it gets.

There is nothing more peaceful than the sound of running water outside your tent to put you to sleep, and brushing your is definitely much more enjoyable from this view!

Okay, I might be bragging a little, but I did make it to the top of this mountain.  It was hard, but worth it.  Can you see the little dots of white below the peal?  Those are the mountain goats that came to visit us the next day. They had absolutely no trouble making it down the face of this mountian. (By the way, we didn’t climb up the front of this side of the mountain.  We found an easier route.)

From this vantage point, it felt like the sky went on forever. If you wonder why we call our great state “Big Sky Country,” well, this is it! With mountain lakes surrounding us, and the beauty of Montana in each direction, it felt like I was on top of the world.  It was a weekend to appreciate my Montana home, my health, and my family and friends.  I realize that few people are lucky enough to see ever the kind of natural beauty that I did on this trip.  I feel truly lucky to say, “I get to live here!”

The Art of Reading with Katie of “Gadanke”

More Books, The Art of Reading

To be a person is to have a story to tell. —Isak Dinesen

I’m so excited to introduce you to Katie, a fellow Montana girl, whose blog “Making This Home” introduced me to her fantastic line of writing prompt journals that I know you will fall in love with! They’re creative; they’re eco-friendly, and they have that handmade quality we all can appreciate. Katie has the most fascinating story which includes:  falling in love with a man from Germany, creating a unique dwelling in the loveliness of Montana, and a lesson learned about the importance of saving our stories. Katie is a kindred spirit, as she is a also book lover and avid reader. I hope you enjoy Katie’s “reading story”, and then I hope you will visit her blog and shop to find out how you can preserve your stories, as well as your loved-ones’, in the most enjoyable and creative way!

Blog or website: Making This Home (blog) OR  Gadanke (shop) OR Facebook  (We chat a LOT about story!)

What creativity do you share with the world?  Howdy! I’m Katie – writer, adventurer, and storycatcher. I believe an incredible thing happens when we pause to celebrate our stories. IT GIVES US MEANING. The ordinary starts to feel downright awesome. That’s why I help people capture memories and express themselves by writing their stories in my line of eco-friendly writing prompt journals.

  • Book OR e-reader? Book
  • Buy OR lend from the library? It depends on where I’m living. It’s hard to find the books I want to read in rural American libraries or to find English books in the libraries of Berlin, Germany (my German isn’t at a read-for-leisure level).
  • Hardcover OR paperback? No preference
  • One book at a time OR several? Several. I like to have some fiction or memoirs along with nonfiction within reach.
  • Skip ahead and read the last page OR be patient and wait? I don’t like knowing how a story would end. It takes away the adventure of the character’s journey.
  • Abandon a bad book OR stick with it no matter what? You know, with remodeling an old airplane hangar into our home and growing my journal business, I haven’t had the amount of reading time I prefer. So when I get the leisure to read, I have to be picky and make sure that it’s a book I absolutely want to be with.
  • Laugh OR cry?  The best stories have a little of both.

Cover Love:  Evelyn Cameron: Montana’s Frontier Photographer by Kristi Hager

What is the next book on your stack of books to read?  Once I tried meal planning. I sat down with a cookbook and figured out all the meals we could eat over the next week. When I finished, it was time to get ready for dinner. I looked at the plan for that meal and instantly thought, “Well I don’t want to make that.”  Out the window with that plan!  It’s the same with books.  What calls me at the moment? What stories and information am I drawn to?

How do you acquire the books you read?  I used to live in a town with a really good used bookstore. I’m still working on the little stash.  Now we live near a small town with a bookstore that opened way back in the 1800s; I try to give them my money.

Do you have a book that you love so much that you re-read it periodically?  I try to look back through the journals that I have written over the years. It’s incredible the memories we forget, the passions we feel, and the moments that make life so good.

What is one of your early reading memories and why is it special?  My dad used to read to my siblings and me. He was really animated and happy. It was like hearing the drummer boy in his voice or being lost at sea with the characters. When the story was over, he’d slam the book shut with both hands.  Needless to say, his storytelling never put us to sleep!

What is your favorite place to read? I like the couch under the quilts. It’s beside my husband’s desk where he’s finishing up schoolwork late at night. We’re sort of together but still doing our own things.

Who have been your reading role models, mentors, or companions over the years? I have a cousin who always has the coolest book suggestions. She was giving me things like Wicked and The Time Traveler’s Wife far before they became so famous. I’m still baffled by her knack at finding awesome stories.

 Do you have a favorite author?  I actually really like Christopher Paolini’s work (Eragon and such). Christopher and his family have a really inspiring story, and I love how he and his character grow together through childhood to adulthood.

Have you ever read a book at exactly the right time of your life?  I was finishing up my college business degree while reading Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper. Our professor handed us this huge assignment on business and life ethics. I dove right into it.

I am proud to say that I have actually read… The entire Bible. I went cover to cover; it took so long that when I finally finished, I didn’t know what to do anymore. It had been my breakfast companion for over a year.

Reading is important to me because….It makes you think of life in different ways, takes you to new places, and opens your heart to new ideas.  I think Gregory McGuire creates excellent examples of how we think we know exactly what happened… but then we hear the story from a different perspective that we never would have thought. Really? Dorthy from The Wizard of Oz isn’t cute and angelic?

Cherry, Cherry!

More Miscellaneous, More Nature

“We’ll take the cake with the red cherry on top.”  Navjot Singh Sighu

One of the (many) things I love about living in Northwest Montana are the cherries.  Around Flathead Lake, there are oodles of cherry orchards, and the locals are always waiting for the cherries to be ready for pickin’!  This year’s crop was sweet, juicy and delicious.  I think cherries are such a happy fruit, and these sweet ones are perfect right out of the bowl.  It’s a quick season, and now I’m resigned to the reality that it will be one more year until I see the roadside stands with cherries spilling from the bins.  (The story of the Flathead Cherry would be a good one….. maybe I should do some research and write an article?)