Category Archives: Montana

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

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

Here she is~

Dylan Rose 1

Oscar, Julia and little Dylan Rose.

Dylan Rose 3

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!)

Jake montana

A happy doggie!

Jake Montana 1

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!

img_0209

The Bridgers from our new backyard!

XOXO! Julia

 

Dear Tom, she wanted to punch him in the face.

First, on the home front, I harvested the last of my potatoes today:

20161211_143156

Colorful and yummy!

I cut back the asparagus. It’s time to prep the garden for winter- will do that this week. And maybe plant a couple rows of garlic.

So I just got back from Montana. Was a busy trip with loooooong weather delays in Seattle. Dang! That airport was like a bad movie. No joke.

On the way out my plane from Sacramento arrived twenty minutes early and then sat on the tarmac for two hours while we waited for a gate. As we sat there I watched my connection to Bozeman, (a little Bombardier), back up and take off. I begged the flight attendants to toss me out the door, but they refused. I spent nine grueling hours in the airport, but I did manage to get the last seat on the last flight to Bozeman. My wonderful daughter and son-in-law waited for me, waited for me so long we were forced to drive back to the ranch in The Crazies in a blizzard. In the dark. Pretty rough. Good thing my son-in-law is a kick ass driver and we were in a tank of a pickup truck. (I haven’t been on roads that bad since I lived in Iowa.)

I didn’t bother to take any photos this time around. The cold was bitter. But despite the cold, every visit to Montana is amazing. I am so grateful for my daughter and her husband. I love sharing their life, to the extent they are willing to share. 🙂 It’s my dream to live there. Cold doesn’t bother me, especially in Big Sky Country. Montana has really big skies.

That wasn’t the punching in the face part.

It was on the trip home that the punching nearly occurred. It wasn’t me, although I wanted to punch him too. I wanted to, in fact, pull him out of his seat and stomp on his head. It was my seat mate who said, “I want to punch him in the face.”

We boarded on time in Bozeman for the trip back to Seattle. I was seated in the back of the plane, just two rows from the rear exit. I had the aisle seat. A young woman with gorgeous eyelashes got the window seat. Across from me was an older white hippie dude with an iPhone and an iPad. Wearing lots of beads. I guessed that he’d come from the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. The beads and his rank aroma and his congested cough and sniffles were a dead giveaway. Not that I cared– about the protest, I mean. He has a perfect right to protest.

What he does not have a right to do, if he values his health and well-being, and the health and well-being of the other passengers, is endanger and piss off every single person seated in the rear of the plane.

He refused to follow any instructions from the flight attendants because he’d “been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

He refused to put his tray table in its upright and locked position because he’d “been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

He refused to stop texting via both his iPhone and his iPad (texting multiple people- I could see every text and every recipient) because he’d “been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

When our plane’s engines cut out on the runway because the deicer people accidentally sprayed the generator and we lost all power and began to freeze in the subzero temperatures he announced to the plane that “we should be grateful we weren’t stranded at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest because he’d just been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest and it was way colder at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

And don’t forget about “the tribal elders…”

The tribal elders this…” and “The tribal elders that…”

My seatmate said, “If I have to hear about the tribal elders one more time I’m gonna punch him in the face.”

I wanted to shove him out the back of the plane.

As he lectured, we were towed back to the gate. The plane was plugged in to a generator and we had heat. Then we had to wait for maintenance to decide whether or not the plane could start up and was safe to fly. We really wanted to get out of there because the weather was getting so bad we knew there was a good chance that if it took maintenance too long to decide we’d be stranded at least overnight, maybe for another day or two.

All the while, he kept texting via both his devices, despite the fact that he’d been asked repeatedly by the flight crew to stop. He ignored them, because, you know… The Dakota Access Pipeline protest

And then, once the engines were restarted and we were on the runway for takeoff, he made a phone call. OMFG. He called ‘Judy’ as we were taking off. Left her a message.

“Hey, Judy, this is R. I know it’s been years, but I just left the Dakota Access Pipeline protest where I was protesting and I’m headed to Seattle. I’ve checked online and it seems my connecting flight has been cancelled. I’m wondering if I can camp on your couch. I’m sure it will be warmer than the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. I’ll have to get up at 5 a.m. to catch a 7 a.m. flight but I figure you won’t mind. That’s sure not as early as I had to get up at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. Listen, if you get this message, call me back. Again, this is R. Just so you know I’ve been at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.”

If looks could kill. Everyone within earshot wanted to strangle the guy.

Since the rules didn’t apply to him, he texted and phoned his way through the flight. The flight attendants gave up trying to rein him in, they plied him with wine instead – six glasses of white wine. I think they hoped he would fall asleep, but he didn’t. Dammit.

This was the bad part. This was the really dangerous part. When we landed in Seattle, we hit a patch of ice. The plane skidded to the right, then to the left, then back to the right. It got real quiet because I think we were all praying the plane wouldn’t roll. On that first skid, since the idiot hadn’t put away his electronic devices nor placed his tray table into its upright and locked position, his iPhone and his iPad went flying across the aisle, right into another passenger.

Mr. Dakota Access Pipeline protest didn’t even apologize. Because he’s a special snowflake.

My seatmate, such a sweet pretty young lady, said, “I want to punch him in the face.”

I said, “Yup.”

So, Tom, to make a long story short, Judy never called him back because I saw him wandering around the Seattle airport five hours later. Still texting…

XOXO! Peace out. 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.)

20160413_084020

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.

20160413_210106

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.

20160418_153700

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… A Perfect Storm, or as we say round these parts- bitch fest two!

I’m only gonna talk about it in this one post. Then I’ll shut up. There are way worse problems in this world. My little issues don’t amount to a hill of beans. But there are reasons why productivity (mine) may be limited in 2016.

I feel like my own grandmother!

You may recall the jumping over the side of a steep trail to avoid a falling oak branch two years ago in February wherein I tore my meniscus (right knee) all the way to the bone on both sides of the knee requiring an emergency arthroscopic repair whereupon my amazing lovely highly skilled surgeon said to me upon my awakening, and I quote,

“I don’t know if I’ve managed to save the knee.” No addendum.

To be quite honest, my knee has not really worked well since. I’ve managed, but it’s challenging when the left knee contains a whole lot of hardware and has since I crushed the knee in a sledding accident at the age of fourteen. (Multiple surgeries- the last by above-mentioned boy genius in 2007 which allowed me to hike across Costa Rica, Scotland and Wales.) Therefore my work horse right knee was my saving grace.

So that’s Perfect Storm #1.

Perfect Storm #2. (Stop chortling, Tom! I can hear you from this side of the grave.) (Remember, I see dead people.)

A little over a year ago, the coiled garden hose fell onto my leg, causing me to twist my right foot which resulted in a Lisfranc (sucky) injury for which I cannot wear a cast (hurts that right knee) and which has gotten worse with continued exercise so that the pain is, like, well, as we say in the nursing world- on a scale of 1-10 it’s pretty much a constant solid 7. And there’s nothing to do for it but a fusion which I’ve been avoiding because of the above-mentioned (Did I mention it?) right knee.

Lisfranc injury

But other foot…

Perfect Storm #3. (Shut up, Tom. I heard that!)

Because I’ve had to be cautious with the right foot I’ve been pounding on the left and I’ve developed the worst case of plantar faciitis I’ve ever had. Ever. And I’ve had it plenty-o-times. Stepping on that left heel first thing in the morning makes me scream- in addition to the fact that I already need a walker just to get out of bed due to the right knee and the right foot. (Did I mention that?) No shit. A walker just like gramma Jennie. You should see me sticking my left foot into a vat of ice water after I hike. No, seriously, a vat of ice water. Practically gives me a seizure. I can’t imagine how professional athletes actually manage to sit in ice water. Maybe because they are getting paid a bajillion dollars to do it?

On second thought, I’m sure you see me with my foot in ice water and you laugh your ass off!

ice water

Again, other foot…

But wait, there’s more! When I was in Montana for Christmas, and this was against my better judgement, mind you– I got talked into hiking through deep powder up to a tall ridge for sledding and snow boarding because I am indeed an idiot. You know, fun trumps all pain and suffering!

And so we come to Perfect Storm #4.

We took turns on the snowboard belonging to older daughter. I did not get injured snowboarding- just so’s ya know. It was hauling my older daughter out of a snow hole where she’d just done a face plant and couldn’t get her 5’7″ 135 pounds plus snowboard plus another 30 pounds of snow and ice-encrusted coveralls (so stiff they could stand up on their own- and this I know because I was the one who carried them back into the house) upright. And I didn’t want her to suffocate. In the process of rescuing my daughter from six feet of snow I managed to tear the labrum in my left hip. Now I’m gramma Jennie for sure!

kinda like this

Kinda like this.

snowboarder

The Real Deal – before the fall!

I swear- belated Christmas/Hanukah present– a walker.

Took me two hours to walk the dog two miles last night. I am so bloody slow I annoy the hell outta myself.

Oh, wait, did I mention I am scheduled for knee-replacement surgery on March 24th? Yeah. I am.

Guess I’ll be heading back to my surgeon’s office (he’s 100 miles away) to deal with my hip first.

Seriously. I mean, seriously. It’s like that Passover song- Dayenu – Enough! It would have been enough!

Dayenu

 

I think I was a bad person in a past life. Although… When I was in college a Vietnamese face reader told me I would experience significant musculoskeletal issues in my fifties. Emphasis on the ‘significant.’ His, not mine. He also said I would get past them. Finger’s crossed, dear Tom!

But anyway, the point of this post is to let you all know why I’m struggling to get work done. Besides, I’m busy exercising (rowing machine/swimming, trying to hike- poor Jake!) so I’ll have an easier time rehabbing from the knee and possibly hip surgery.

But as we all know, it could always be worse!

It could

(Reminds me of my horseback riding accident in high school- didn’t walk for an entire year.) Le’ sigh…

XOXO Love ya, Tom! (Quit laughing at me!)