Category Archives: adventure travel

Dear Tom, at last Oscar

was able to get a decent photo of our home with the Bridgers in the background.

Our house

Now that’s what I call purdy!

XOXO! Julia

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Dear Tom, I haven’t been around much becuz…

moving to Montana and a baby! Our first granddaughter – Dylan Rose.

Here she is~

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Oscar, Julia and little Dylan Rose.

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A perfect angel, for now…

She came on her due date. Her mommy had the easiest pregnancy in history- and labor. We are so grateful and so very blessed. Dylan Rose A. 7′ 11″. We all forgot to ask how long she is. 🙂

The sale of our home and the move could have gone smoother but one can’t have everything, right? Some things must go wrong. That’s life.

We love our new home in Montana. It’s beautiful. It has amazing views on all sides. The dog loves his full half acre? Three quarters of an acre? Not entire sure. But he stays outside all day long, just enjoying his view through the invisible fence. He can watch sand hill cranes and cows and eagles and deer and super cute bunnies. In Napa Jake rarely wanted to be outside without us and he was territorial about his yard. Here, his yard is just part of the vast open countryside. He seldom barks for any reason. He’s in awe! (As are we!)

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A happy doggie!

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A smidge of his view!

So friends, it’s been a challenging yet rewarding year thus far. I’ll try to be more available. (Ha!)

XOXO! Julia

P.S. Do we miss California? Nah-uh. Not one bit.

 

Dear Tom (and Ray), I met prejudice/ignorance today.

Loess Hills

Loess Hills.

I know I haven’t posted in a long time. Sorry. Been insanely busy re the upcoming move to Montana. But I have to say something about what happened today, and I’m including Ray because he’s a Midwesterner. Upper Midwest, but that’s okay.

I was chatting with this guy who had a real cute dog, a Scottie. I love Scotties, attitude and all. They are like little bearded hairy men. (Oh, by the way, when big ol’ Jake goes to puppy camp he’s greeted with, “Hello Sunshine!” He’s a happy camper!)

Anyways… I was chatting with this guy. He was here in Napa enjoying the sunshine. He’d driven down from Portland because he wanted a break from all the rain- which we happen to be having for a minute. Our weather has been beautiful.

We discussed the rain. We discussed my recent stop at PDX, landing in the midst of a horrific downpour. If you get off one of the little planes you have to walk through the downpour to get to the terminal. We were all soaked.

I mentioned my parents. Told him that they’d retired to Southern Oregon.

He asked, “Oh, did they move from California?”

I answered, “No, they moved from Iowa. We’re all from Iowa, I’m not a native Californian.” (‘Cuz yeah, I’m proud as heckfire to be from Iowa.)

He said, “Oh. Iowa. Bunch of illiterate evangelicals there.”

And I was like… “Um, what?”

He said, “Yeah, everyone is stupid religious. Nothing there but cornfields and ignorant racist white farmers.”

I asked, “Have you been to Iowa?”

He shrugged. He said, “I’ve read about it.”

Hey Tom, and Ray, I wanted to punch him in the face.

This is what I deal with on the West Coast. People who think they know the Midwest even though they’ve never been farther east than Vegas (or maybe they’ve flown to NYC). People like this dude, who was about as white as a slice of Wonderbread, who think everyone in the Midwest is a toothless dumbass church-goin’ snake-handling redneck filled with hate and vitriol; that we’re uneducated hicks who stupidly refuse to accept the superiority of the West Coast elites who should be in charge of EVERYTHING.

I don’t care if he had a nice dog. I wanted to kick the living shit out of him.

But I didn’t. I said, “You know nothing about Iowa. Have a safe drive back to Portland.” And I walked away.

Tom, you would have been proud of me.

XOXO! Julia

The Loess Hills: I grew up here, played here. My ancestors lived and died here.

Did I mention the University of Iowa Writers Workshop???

Besides, Iowa is home to one of the best bugs in the world – Fireflies! If you watch the video you’ll discover that we’re not all toothless yahoos.

 

Dear Tom, it’s been a helluva ride!

No, not leaving yet, but I’m about to close up shop temporarily.

We’re moving to Montana! I’ve dreamed of this for five years. Oscar saw the light… at last! As his job has become more and more untenable/onerous and California has become an increasingly challenging place to live.

All I can say is~ yes.

About damn time.

We recently returned from a ten day visit to the ranch. We babysat the cows, horses and dogs. Split and stacked two years worth of wood for our daughter and son-in-law, and met with a real estate agent in Bozeman. We put in an offer on a house and lo and behold… it was accepted right off! (Although my husband pulled a Chip Gaines and tried to fool me into thinking the offer had been rejected! Shiplap ho!)

Thus begins the hard work. I have to get our house on the market. Fingers crossed, it will sell ASAP. We had the hardwood floors refinished while we were away. Lookin’ good, I tells ya!

Yes, I do have two twenty-ish kids here, one of whom is pretty flummoxed at the idea of her parents moving. We are leaving the only home she’s ever known. Even though she doesn’t live with us, the idea of us gives her roots. I get it. My kids are the sole reason I’ve stayed.

But, all things must change. Seems like everyone I know is transitioning in one way or another. We wish us all the best!

In the meantime, enjoy the view from my new backyard! I know Jake will!

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The Bridgers from our new backyard!

XOXO! Julia

 

Dear Tom, I fed the piggies and I returned home to a mystery.

Went to Montana to visit my daughter and son-in-law. As you know they live an amazing life. Eight thousand acres at the foot of the Crazies.

in the shadow of the Crazies

Looking toward The Crazies from the back of the calving shed.

Six hundred head of cattle. It’s near the end of calving season– I always go during calving to help with the new yearling bulls and the bottle calves. This time I had four bottle calves to feed (one calf each from four sets of twins) and two piglets. The piglets are hilarious. You’ve never ever seen two animals so excited about food, not ever, not once in your entire life. They pretty much turn somersaults when someone shows up with the slop bucket. (They do have an automatic feeder in their enclosure.)

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Yummy food scraps!

Pity they’ll be bacon at the end of the season but in the meantime they lead a terrific life!

As do the cows. It’s a great life for a cow. A rancher lives and dies for his/her cattle. They come first- always. Plus what’s not to like about roaming eight thousand green grassy  acres? And if you are a cow, as in a girl, you are likely to live out your life on said eight thousand acres. And the occasional steer, like my sweet boy Hank of last year.

Hank

My little steer.

This year I got to teach a premie to nurse- sat her on my lap. She was the cutest thing ever! But it was challenging to feed four babies at once. They spend a whole lot of time butting each other. I could feed two at a time– brought the new cattle dog, Nip, into the calving shed with me to occupy the other two.

Plus it was my birthday. I got to Montana every birthday since the year before my daughter got married. She took time out of her insane calving schedule to bake me a luscious cake.

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Lemon cake with homemade lemon curd and raspberry jam filling and marscapone frosting.

But I returned home to a mystery. How did one of Jake’s old backyard toys end up in the lavender patch in the front yard? Remember, both our gates are padlocked and our fences are six feet high.

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The mysterious moving stuffed elephant.

Was it dropped by an owl? Did a bobcat decide it wanted to play with a stuffed elephant? Was it, oh, I don’t know… Bigfoot? A youthful Bigfoot?

Seriously– How did the elephant end up in a patch of lavender in the front yard? The elephant has been in the backyard since Jake was a puppy. He neither destroys nor loses his toys.

I have got to order that game camera. Oh, and Jake still smells skunky.

XOXO! Julia

Dear Tom, I miss you!

I heard from Ishbel the other day. She’s been on my mind, although I know she’s all right. She was married to you, after all, so I know just how tough she is!

But I know your family misses you. I miss you.

Here’s all the news that’s fit to print~

I’m still pretty much a mess. But there are worse things than broken things. As you well know. I did take Jake to the beach last week. The surf was so high we couldn’t do much beach combing.

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Also a woman wearing a pashmina tried to hit Jake with a ball thrower. Seriously. She was at the far end wearing her blue pashmina (I hate pashmina’s because they are so pretentious) and white slacks. She was using her ball thrower to dig a hole in the sand with her golden retriever who was, as this is an off-leash beach, off-leash.

Jake bounded up to them, all happy, his entire body wiggling like a puppy and a look on his face that said, “Hey, wassup? What y’all doing over here?”

Her dog just looked at Jake, but the woman started swinging that ball thrower at him. So I yelled, “Hey, lady, knock it off! Don’t you dare hit my dog!” I called Jake back to me. He came right away, with a look that said, “Is she crazy or what?”

She’s lucky he didn’t bite her or grab her ball thrower and run off with it.

So I yelled to her, “If you’re going to have your dog off leash you can’t be swinging your ball thrower at other dogs when they approach.”

Two other dog walkers witnessed the incident and turned around, walked the other way, as did Jake and I. This is only a spit of a beach on the best day. The surf was so high there wasn’t much walking to be had. Unfortunate. But a beach is still a beach!

Fortunately for Jake, we discovered a new park in Napa. It’s off the beaten path. There are no cars, and he can be off leash. He made a new friend, one whose owner did not swing his fishing pole at Jake.

My Vionics – shoes to help plantar fasciitis. I think they are super cute although since it seems I have a stress fracture of my left heel as opposed to plantar fasciitis they really aren’t helping a bit. Gotta see a man today about a cast…

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Oh… And you’ll be both pleased and disconcerted to note that my youngest (in the center) went skydiving for her birthday. She is now certified. Whatever that means. I’m trying not to look. Seriously. Can’t look.

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Her instructor is Israeli which makes me feel better. Nevertheless…

Okay. I’m done. Gotta go swimming before I get a cast. Oh I so don’t want another cast…

XOXO! Love you, Tom! Julia