Tuesday, November 8, 2016


On Sunday morning, the thing I've been dreading ever since Cade decided he wanted to raise chickens 18 yrs ago, happened. Something found the chicken coop with devastating results.
It could have been worse- much worse- but it was bad enough. SOMETHING got into the coop and grabbed Early- my little Barred Rock hen who ALWAYS was the first to lay an egg. It was a gruesome sight, and I'll spare you the photos. The rest of the chickens were huddled against the back wall of the coop- not uttering a sound! They were obviously scared and on edge- the slightest noise sending them into a panic.
Bruce was working check station and not at liberty to come home to investigate. I was sickened by the carnage, and saddened at the loss of my sweet hen, but I got it together enough to barricade the chickens into their coop (hopefully keeping whatever did this out!) snap a few photos so Bruce could examine the evidence when he came home, well after dark- And I set up our game camera, in case the culprit came back.

Before I left for work this morning, Bruce ran down to the barn to check on the chickens. He said he knew I'd worry all day if I didn't know that they (and Salem, the barn cat) were safe. He reported that whatever it was HAD come back and moved Early's carcass, but had NOT harmed any more chickens! AND, he said that there were photos on the camera! We didn't have time to upload the photos then, so I had to wait until I got home to see if we'd gotten a glimpse at our murderer.
We'd spent all Sunday, Sunday night, and Monday speculating what could possibly have killed Early. We'd ruled out any sort of bird. The chickens were roosting in the hen house when owls would be about, and the hit had been made during the night, ruling out Eagles, hawks, etc. We hadn't smelled a skunk, and we hadn't found any holes dug under the fence, so we doubted it was our resident skunk who enjoys spraying our dogs (wouldn't you think they'd LEARN?). And without an entry hole, it couldn't be coyotes, either. We were REALLY worried it was a weasel... small enough to go through the chicken wire but fierce enough to kill a fully grown chicken. The biggest problem with a weasel, would be in keeping it out of the hen house. They can squeeze through the tiniest of holes. Trying to thwart a weasel would be a daunting task.
I rushed home Monday evening, and Bruce was already at the barn. We worked on the door between the coop and the chicken yard. It hadn't been closing for quite awhile now, but Bruce got it back into shape. I barricaded the door on the other side just in case, but we both commented that if it was a weasel, none of this was good enough.
(not my photo! just a stock photo from the Web- seriously, though. How can you be mad at this animal?)
The camera said it had 15 photos on it! Surely we'd gotten some good ones of whatever predator had found our flock. I slid the card into the computer, and opened the files. The first photo was of the horse pasture... maybe taken while I was setting up the camera? There were a couple photos that I'd apparently not erased the last time we'd put the trail cam out. :( Then, a photo of the chicken yard... but no animal to be seen.

The next photo was of the barn cat, Salem. Bruce said, 'Salem wouldn't! Would he?' and I was quick to assure him that there was no way for Salem to get into the chicken yard. And that Salem had never shown ANY interest in the chickens, even though he helped me feed twice a day, every day... still, I worried a bit about what the next photos would show.

The next 3 were of Hobbes! Our house cat, resident Tiger. Fierce, but 11 yrs. old, and around chickens his ENTIRE life without incident. Bruce and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. It couldn't be Hobbes. Besides, Hobbes is safely inside every night.

Then, the oddest photo! A white blur covering over half the image. WHAT???

And then..... the next photo....
(If you click on the photo, it will enlarge, and you can see it better).

The culprit!
or should I say Bandit? *sighs* We didn't even know we HAD raccoons around! They've never hit the garden, or gotten into Salem's food! But this one is good sized, and had to have climbed over the fence.... hence that mysterious white blur on the photo before.
SO! Frankly, it's good news! This guy is NOT squeezing through a tiny hole- and therefore, as long as the chickens are closed into the coop at night, they should be fine. Since Bruce repaired the hen house door, it's just a matter of making SURE they are snug inside every evening.... right?
I felt so much better, until I realized that raccoons aren't necessarily nocturnal. :(

Sunday, April 17, 2016


I THOUGHT it was the equine Vet calling to give me an appt. for Spring immunizations. When I saw the Hot Springs phone number, that's the only person I could come up with. But it turned out to be a woman I'd sold my saddle to last year. She'd called periodically- once every couple of months. She was a really nice lady- super religious. I liked her! We had our horses in common. She'd rescued her horse off a feedlot- he'd been headed to slaughter. She bought him for a song, and loved him dearly.  Her husband was less impressed, but seemed to humor her. He called the horse Alpo. She really endeared herself to me when she called me in November, because she'd seen that my Paint, Journey, had colicked badly, and she was concerned. I didn't hear from her again until Jan. when she called to tell me about a new venture she was starting- A store in her area where local people could rent space to sell their wares. She wanted me to rent an area, but I told her I had nothing really to sell. I promised I'd put the word out... and then, nothing until this morning.

She was hysterical, and difficult to understand. She kept telling me I knew who she was. I did. She said they'd stolen her saddle and taken the horse. I kept asking, WHO? and when I asked if she'd called the police, the story became just a bit clearer. She said her husband was punishing her, because she wouldn't leave. She told me several times- "I'm in the white house in Lone Pine. You know that house? the white house in Lone Pine!" The husband had sold the horse to the auction where she was positive her darling would be sold to a meat packer. He'd taken the saddle, too, and she didn't know where it was. She begged me to help her horse. "Save him! Oh please! oh please! SAVE HIM!" and when I told her I would get off the phone and call the police, she asked, 'Why?' and I said, "So I can try to save your horse!" and she said, "He's gone. All I can do is cry." I found out that all this had happened, not today, as I'd thought... but at least a week ago- and if so, then, yes. The auction was over. It didn't look good.

Occasionally, she mentioned a retired Sheriff, and said she'd been talking to him, and she wished she'd told him that she knew me. I finally figured out who she meant, and yes! I DID know him! This seemed like an avenue I could pursue to get help, so again, I told her I needed to get off the phone so I could call this friend. She asked me if I could wait, just a moment and hear.... oh I wish I could remember her exact words... a post? or a poem? whatever, it was a description. She went on to read a synopsis of a movie. It was long, and rambling, but she was having no problem focusing on it, and her words were clear and not slurred. She asked me if I knew Sissy?  She became frustrated with me... Sissy! You know! Sissy! When I guessed Sissy Spacek? she was relieved. Yes, she told me. You do know her.

More talk- She trying to get me to understand. Me, trying valiantly, to comprehend. I had reached a point of being fairly desperate to get off the phone. We'd been talking over an hour, and I had jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk, even though at this point it was still only 12:30 pm. I told her I was going to go call our mutual friend to see what we could do about her situation, and she seemed ready to let me go, when she suddenly said, 'WAIT!  there's a little dog.... in Kalispell. It's in a 3x9 cage and it has cysts. No dog deserves that! and it's lucky if it ever gets fed!' I murmured about how awful that was, and her voice changed into a child's. "Can I have him?' she begged me. "Please? I'll take care of him!  Can we go get him now? We can overpower them and save the dog and I can take care of it! Can we?" I told her I would call our friend, and we'd see how to save the dog. She told me to take down the dog's number, and so I carefully wrote down the phone number for 'Jim' and repeated it back to her. She became calm- tired. And just before I hung up, she said, "I KNEW you loved me! That's why I called you!" With tears in my eyes, I told her I DID love her, and I hung up.

I found the number for the friend, and called, but no one answered.  I puttered around the house, thinking... and remembered a friend of mine, active with supporting substance abusers and their families in working towards recovery. My thought was that, if this woman was an alcoholic, that perhaps someone knew her, and could go to her. You have to understand that I had a name, and the phone number she'd called from, and that was ALL.  I'd met this woman 8 mos. prior ONCE in the parking lot of the local grocery store during an exchange that lasted all of 10 min. I wouldn't recognize her again if she walked in my door. I knew the easy thing to do would be to tell myself this was not MY problem- and that there really wasn't much I could do to help anyway.  I called my friend, and she was not home. I puttered around the house thinking.  Probably, I could call the number I had tomorrow... see if the woman was feeling better... see if she wanted to talk.  I called Chelsey (my daughter) thinking that perhaps she'd have an idea of what agency I could call... or if I should...  She wasn't home. So, I puttered about the house some more.  And yes, I prayed.

Chelsey called awhile later, and when I told her the story, she said, 'It doesn't actually sound like she was drunk. It sounds more like a mental issue... perhaps a psychotic break? I think she needs help!'  So, I hung up the phone, and called that mutual friend again... no answer. As I was walking into the living room to ask Bruce if I should call the Sheriff's office, I heard the scanner squawking- something about, "it appears self inflicted". It registered, but I couldn't really hear the transmission, and I dismissed it. Bruce said, 'Mere! WHAT are you going to TELL the dispatcher?' I wasn't sure. I wasn't even sure anything the woman was saying was true! But I couldn't walk away from this person in need. I thought, MAYBE the Sheriff's office would know of an agency that could help her.... find her.

I ended up calling the dispatch, and hanging up.  I walked in circles for a minute or two, took a deep breath, and called again.  I didn't want to bother the police if it was just a drunk woman who was sad, and would be mortified in the morning, but I kept hearing her say that she knew I loved her- and I knew I couldn't do nothing. So, I dialed again.  I told dispatch that I wasn't sure they could help, but that I'd gotten a disturbing phone call from a woman I'd sold a saddle to 8 mos. ago. Dispatch said, 'WHY would she be calling YOU!' and I said, 'I know! that's just it!'  I didn't have a lot of information, but as soon as I mentioned that the woman said she lived in a white house in Lone Pine, the dispatcher's voice changed tone. 'What is her name?' I told her, and she asked again, "What is her name?'  I repeated it, and she said, 'Ma'am, an officer is with her'.  I thought they meant that there was an officer in the area, but the dispatcher clarified, 'No. an officer is WITH her now. And he may need to talk to you. Will you give me your name and address?'

In looking back, I'm pretty sure she was the 911 call having something to do with "self-inflicted".  And that makes me really sad, because I feel I didn't do enough, soon enough. Initially, I assumed the woman was drunk, or high on drugs- and who knows? maybe she was! BUT MAYBE she wasn't! A mental illness never crossed my mind- but I promise I will learn from THAT mistake. I angst-ed over bothering people... and that took up too much precious time. I will try to remember that, too. Every experience teaches us if we're open to learning. A friend of mine told me I did what I could with the tools I had available, but that I had, now, added tools to my experience. I was now better prepared.

Who knows why these things happen? Why, 8 mos. ago, I was privileged to sell my saddle to this exact woman, who would need me in the future? Are we done now? Or will our paths continue to cross? And will there come a day that I will need what I learned today in another situation? All I can say is that I felt "used".... not in a bad way... in a GOOD way. I was reticent, but basically willing.  I see where I faltered, and where I need to do better.

LORD, make me an instrument of Your Peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
(my mother's favorite prayer, St. Francis of Assissi)

Perhaps I can be useful in this world still.

Friday, February 26, 2016


It feels like a death in the family- and I guess it IS- but not the death of a person. It's the demise of a family's plans and dreams- the hopeful projection of a beautiful future- Our lovely daughter and handsome son-in-law are getting divorced.

I've heard talk. This is a small town, and the Sterlings and the Schenavars are well known. In cases such as these, it's inevitable that THEIR family will have THEIR spin on events, and OUR family will have OUR spin, but the TRUTH of the matter is- NO ONE, not me, not even the two kids at the center of this- NO ONE really knows everything.  There's too much hurt in the process. And even the two involved, often, misconstrue, and deliberate or not, misunderstand, or inflate a comment here, deflate intention there and believe things that may not be. There are two sides to this, and I ask you to remember that. 

What I know is that, while disappointed in events and in certain actions BOTH of these kids have done, we recognize the overwhelming goodness of them BOTH. We love them BOTH. We are devastated this could not work out, and now, we pray for healing on both sides, lessons learned which will improve their selves, and lives moving forward into happiness and fulfillment. 
A good friend sent me this quote by Marianne Williamson:  
"What's difficult in life is to stay centered when somebody does or says something that tempts us to close our hearts because their heart was closed. That is hard. But that is also how we grow. We go through those circumstances in order to evolve into people who can hold to our loving center no matter what the world throws us".  Help me honor all struggling people by working at this. Help me choose understanding, forgiveness, and love over criticism, anger and derision.
NEITHER family is interested in your show of loyalty if it involves denigrating either person especially since you are not equipped with all the information to be able to judge, or the mandate from God to take over His provenance. Give us hugs. Give us love. Help us heal. Remember that NO ONE wanted this ending to their story.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Patience is not my virtue

I've discovered that I'm an insanely impatient person. Despite having the patience of Job with preschoolers, or even with other people in daily interactions- I'm ridiculously impatient for "THINGS TO HAPPEN!" This ranges anywhere from making my minimum sales for the month in my Jamberry business- to getting problems settled on a personal level. I want things done now, and things to move forward. I want to KNOW outcomes, and work progressively towards them. I want to know endings, and prepare. I fear that yawning, black hole of the unknown, and allowing each day and situation the time to unfold naturally, as it will, drives me BATTY! Time is ticking! I no longer have the luxury of wasting days and weeks and months. 

I remember calling for the kids to come do something.... set the table, clean up their toys, hang up their coats... and they'd yell, "Just a minute! I'll do it in a bit!" and I'd respond, "If I'd wanted you to do it later, I'd have asked you later!" Perhaps, I've ALWAYS been this impatient. ;)

Having this tendency is exacerbated when I have little knowledge and no control over a situation. I can let my friends and neighbors do just about anything they want- as long as it's not abusing a child or animal- but my OWN family? I just can NOT find that distance, the impartiality, the detachment I need to be a bystander. You think it's hard being a parent of children? It's NOTHING compared to being the parent of adults. 

I'm told, over and over, by my wise, impassive loved ones, that everything will work out! That everything is for the best! That life and love will now blossom! I just need to sit back, patiently, and wait to see what amazing things are in store!  *sighs* And that this is my life's lesson- to learn to give love and support, without comment or meddling. To stand by, silently, watching and waiting. 

I tell you the truth when I say, it's going to kill me, but I will die trying... *sighs*

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Our Skye, apparently, was kicked by one of the horses about 3-4 wks. ago. At the time, the side of her head swelled up, and the Vet said, she'd lost a tooth. *sighs*  But time went by, and the swelling lessened, until there was just a little bump on the side of her head- barely noticeable. 
Fast forward to just 5 days ago... I turned to Bruce and said, "SOMEthing is different about Skye's bump! I can't put my finger on it... but something has changed." Bruce thought I was crazy- until the next day- when the bump was DEFINITELY bigger! and it had moved. Bruce and I thought it was probably an abscess, and we planned to call the Vet.
AND then- (life is never dull at our house) we woke the next morning, to find that the cat had sprayed blood on the garage door. I went in to tell Bruce, and he said, "Mere- Skye has another lump."  This one sprang up overnight.... and it was on her side. 
We got the cat in immediately, and he's on a special diet, and should be fine. But we had to wait 2 days for an appt. for Skye- all the while terrified she had some sort of bizarre cancer. The wait seemed interminable.
When I brought Skye into the Vet's office, I walked in on a woman crying... It didn't take long before I realized that she had brought her dog in to be put down. He was old, and couldn't move his hindquarters at all, and to make matters worse, he was a big, ole, beautiful black lab. I tried to be inconspicuous.... and melt into the background. I wanted to be respectful of her grief- but she turned to Skye, and hugged her and said, 'Stay young, Sweetheart." As they rushed to get me and Skye into a room, we had to walk past the lady... and on impulse, I just reached out, and put my arms around her. She said that they'd had 3 Labs. One died at 13... another was lost in an accident, and now this one was 12. And she said, 'I know that's old for a Lab. I know this is right, but it SUCKS." And then, we were ushered into our room. 
 After hearing that Skye was going to be just fine- She DID have an abscess, and the lump on her side was a common reaction to a rattlesnake venom vaccine she had gotten 3 1/2 wks earlier. I took Skye to the car, and the woman and her husband were just standing by their truck, crying. And I thought how I had just gotten such good news. And that they had just gotten such bad news.... and how I'd dodged the bullet this time, but I know, there will come a day for me, too.... when I can't see to drive home because of the tears.
 Hold your fur children a bit closer today, and send a prayer or thought to all those who have loved and lost and grieve.  Unfortunately, it is a universal condition, from which none of us escape.
For as the saying goes- One day, everyone of us will die. But on all the other days, we will live. Cherish those days.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


The Fall holidays are over, and the wonderful hustle and bustle of Christmas is gone.  I’m left with January, an empty house and Time.  Time is a bit of a stranger to me, and I’m still working on figuring him out. Whoever thought I’d still be struggling with retirement all these months later!
To tell the truth, these Winter months were never my favorite in preschool.  It’s in Jan, Feb and March that I began to push a little harder, expect a little more.  The children had to sit longer during Circle, be quieter, and reach for new concepts. The lessons in the Winter months were ones I thought were extremely important, but extremely difficult to pull off. Often, I was introducing concepts they’d never been exposed to.  Living in NW Montana, where 99% of inhabitants are White Anglo Saxon, explaining prejudice, and bigotry on a preschool level held no immediate relevance to a lot of these children.  And often, it was either their first presentation of these issues, or it was in direct opposition to what they heard in their family life.  I, honestly, had a parent tell me, “That Nigger’s got his own holiday while our good Presidents have to share a day!” He wanted me to stop teaching about Dr. Martin Luther King… and I asked him… you want me to stop teaching this unit about fairness, kindness, and respect?  A unit I hope will plant the seeds that keep your child from bullying and being bullied?’ (I didn’t stop teaching it, by the way.  His comments redoubled my commitment).  Good stuff.  Important stuff.  Difficult stuff to do well that left me exhausted.
 And of course, there were the weather issues. Driving Blue Slide road in the Winter months can be dicey.  Whether it’s snow, or ice, Blue Slide is not a major road, so plows, and sanders have to deal with the main highway, and major roads first, leaving my drive to work dangerous (for a person with my Winter driving skills). Just facing the slide down our driveway was enough to start my heart pumping.
And so, being retired in January, is not an, altogether, bad thing! And yet!  Unbelievably, I find myself saying… ‘you mean it’s only the 11th???’ Time, in the Winter, is stretching itself- and THAT is a TOTALLY new experience for me, one I need to learn to deal with.
 Oh goodness! It’s not like there aren’t things to DO! It’s just that before, I had good reasons not to get around to doing them! LOL! I still have some Christmas things out!!! (did I just admit that?) And my closet needs to be cleaned.  The house is in perpetual need of a good dusting, and the floors, with 3 dogs, and 4 cats, ALWAYS need to be vacuumed and steamed.  I NEED to get back to exercising, and the dogs should  be brushed. I sell Jamberry, and Stampin’ Up! And doTerra- which keeps me busy.  I WANT to play piano, and do crafts and projects, and I DO have friends! But all I seem to do is read- which isn’t bad, as long as I get a handle on it.
My new plan is to make more lists! Ha!  Which  always  seems to be my go-to solution.  I figure awareness is the first step, right? So, this retirement thing is a work in progress, but I’ll get it!  I, always, said, ‘if you’re going to do something, you need to do it well’.  This is no different.  I work best under duress, but I’m going to have to either cause my own duress, or change a lifelong habit.  Whichever, I’m sure I’ll struggle a bit while finding my way, but find my way, I will.  There’s really no alternative.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A post for someday

I just need to say, (and the timing of this is NOT relevant), that were I to die tomorrow, (and I have no such intentions), it would be okay.  I have accomplished everything I wanted- every burning desire has been fulfilled- there is no BIG item on my bucket list. I have it all. (Heck! I even swam with whales!)
 And this is not to say, that I don't want to continue to live, because, I do! And of course, there are all sorts of fun things left that I can do, that I want to do, that I probably will do! But that thing... that driving force people have.... "I HAVE to visit Italy!" or "I HAVE to climb that mountain!" "My dream is to.... (fill in the blank)"  I've done all that. I have all that. I hope to continue doing and having all that... but it's not necessary.
I'm just saying this because EVENTUALLY, SOME day, in the FAR future, this might be comforting to someone. I love where I live. I love what I have, and as long as my children are happy, I'm happy- but even that isn't a prerequisite to a life well lived. Life isn't about running around trying to make yourself happy. But that's a post for another time. 
Suffice to say- I HAVE lived well- been VERY fortunate ('but for the Grace of God, go I')  I've done all that which I've wanted/needed to do, and I have all that I want/need to have. 
It's enough.
I am grateful.