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Two days after the big storm in Bill’s Ram 1500. Bitterroot Range

Owen at the helm of the Argo.

This amphibious, all purpose super vehicle is called an Argo. In summer, it’s what we use to do big pond-cleaning projects. It goes in the pond and we drag a huge rake that drags the bottom and gets all the weeds and muck out. Today Allen and Owen helped Bill put the tracks on the Argo so it’s snow-ready. The snow wasn’t deep enough to bother with the tracks at the time of this photo, and it was still only early fall, so we hooked up the blade and plowed a path from the barn to the driveway. The driveway was cleared the morning after the storm by a local guy with and old tractor. He does it for everyone in the area.

By the way, the mountains in the background are part of the Sapphire Range, more rolling hillish than steep, craggy peaks like the Bitterroots on the west side of the valley. It forms the border between Ravalli and Granite county.

Allen celebrates his master craftsmanship

Here we are on Conny’s property outside Missoula. Allen has just insulated a section of wall, applying some goopy stuff to all the edges and cracks. Owen is organizing tools on the ramp to the caboose.

Josh’s fancy bathhouse

Josh designed this bathhouse, which will have bath/shower/toilet/dressing room and other stuff, which will be used by guests who stay at the B&B caboose, or who are here for events (like a big wedding planned for Spring).

He cut all the wood at his place in Stevensville, where he has a mill out back. We helped one day- I got to run his big saw and cut huge logs into boards. I also planed some of those curved planks on the roof there. Each one of those arches has about ten boards in it. This thing is going to be beautiful; so much work for a bathroom! The Romans would be impressed!

work area at Conny’s place near Missoula

Allen has been out here a couple times, just he and Josh, when I was with Owen at soccer games. See the John Deere tractor on the left- I love running that thing.

Hamilton riverside park

The other day we went for a walk near our old haunts in Hamilton. Allen and Owen would come down here in summer and fish. You can still fish now but they aren’t much interested in this cold. Actually we were going to take a hike with this beautiful weather. We called up the Hollingsworths and got permission to take Finn along. Our plan was to do the short hike we’d taken back in late May. Ah, Blodgett Canyon would have been spectacular with all the snow, but even with Bill’s Ram 1500, we couldn’t get up to the trailhead- snowed-in for the year now. Hence we took this walk around the park in Hamilton. When we got into the thick wood, we saw the cow moose that calls this area her home.

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Hikes and walks are fine, but Allen’s favorite outdoor activity is still the trampoline. He’s gettin’ good.


I’m working on all possible employment options, in preparation for the Great Reset.

Working on my acting chops: I’ll do Hollywood, Broadway, heck, even commercials- Times are tough.

I’m sending this to the fine folks at Productos Higienicos Hogar, SA de CV, San Luis, Potosi, Mexico:

winter shots

Here is our abode for the past two months

We are near Stevensville, Montana, about 20 minutes down the road from Hamilton.

What’s been happening? Well, the boys are keeping pretty busy with homework- getting ready for their high-school entrance exams in Japan. Owen’s soccer ended in late October. There was a players and parents party at a church meeting hall up in Corvallis. On the menu were sandwiches made fresh across the street at the local subway, by one of the girls on the team. The kids went out and played in the freezing cold under the security lights at the elementary school- one more kick around before we all said goodbye. Sad to have the season end. I remember soccer continuing into December in our youth league in Bellevue/Seattle, but that’s hard to arrange in Montana. I’ll miss taking Owen to practices in Corvallis; on Tuesday evenings I would wander over to the football field and watch the Corvallis High Blue Devils JV team take on whoever was in town. Felt good to sit in the stands and watch some football under the indian summer blue skies; we should have made the effort to come down on a Friday night and watch the big varsity boys play under the lights, for a slice of classic Americana; I’m glad my daughter got a chance to do that- as a member of the band no less- when she did her junior year abroad at my cousin’s place in California.

In other news, we’re doing some work up in Missoula. Conny has a big spread up in the surrounding hills and she hires a couple contractors to do odd construction, fencing and landscaping projects, and they hire us to do grunt work. One day it was about 39F and raining- we were soaked to the bone, hands freezing and miserable. We got inside the caboose, warmed up and had a good stew. Went back out and after ten minutes, Josh looked at us digging the trench for the creek, and said, “maybe you guys should go home.” More on that experience as I upload photos.

In other news, we like to go over to our friends the Hollingsworths about every two weeks, for food and cards.

Pick-up soccer continues at Hamilton high. If we’re on time Chuck puts us on the same team, which is great. But when Owen and I show up late- one of us will don a yellow jersey and we split up. The team that needs some help will choose Owen. Somehow we don’t like guarding each other much. I like passing to my son better than challenging him with a tackle.

I’m getting a little tired of cooking and am ready for Fumie’s familiar dishes. So are the boys.

The title says winter, but these photos were taken a week before Halloween! Since then we’ve had more snowfall, but nothing like this early-season storm that covered half the western US in a blanket of white. The temperature dropped down to the teens, if I recall correctly.

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Owen isn’t bringing that wood up to the porch; rather he’s using it to fortify his defenses in this ad hoc snow war with Allen (doing the same in upper left). The trampoline doesn’t have any snow on it because I swept it off- always maintain a clean trampoline!

The next day there were a couple extra inches on the ground, and the skies cleared. The Bitterroot Range is perhaps most beautiful in winter. I see I’ll have to go sweep off the trampoline again. Speaking of which- contrary to what you might expect, Allen is the trampoline king. Owen is the spry lightweight with all the good soccer moves, handles a basketball pretty well, deftly wields the racket in badminton, but isn’t even close to A with the trampoline moves. Too careful? I’ll try to get Allen’s backflips up on the blog soon.

The snow abated, but not the cold. The pond had a layer of ice two inches thick- and I don’t think we’ve had an ice-free day since then. Cooooold at night here.

But warm inside:

our precious democracy

Nothing is more certain this time of year than the tsunami of advertising- one thing candidates like to do in Montana is prove their “ranch cred” as I’m coining it. The senate race is particularly heated, with mountains of money spent on TV, Radio, and mailers flooding the state. Allen is going around blurting out the campaign mantras he keeps hearing on Youtube ads. If I mention a particular candidate for the senate, he says, “That guy is just a cheerleader for China!”

Here’s a candidate for senate, Billy Jorgensen, who epitomizes the tone of the campaign:

Helena, part 2

just some pics from our trip to Helena, after our visit to the capitol

The part of town with the famous cathedral is full of old houses, tree-lined streets and churches.

This building was first a synagogue, then property of the city, then the Catholic church bought it; it’s right across the street from the cathedral
The pastor at the Presbyterian church is a fan of heartwarming cliches.
This building went from church to apartment building, according to the next door neighbors- though they weren’t sure. It’s still kept in spiffy order, with fresh, red paint. But why are the windows painted over?
Ol’ Morris knew how to live.
all are welcome!
The Cathedral of Helena. Not a place for t-shirts and spandex.

We wanted to go inside and see the stained glass with the afternoon sun shining through, but mass was just starting. Lots of friendly-looking folks passed us on the way in- and they were all well-dressed, like churchgoers in days of yore.

Allen with SE-facing view of Helena and valley

Father Robs Son of Sporting Glory

(my dad likes these reports from the ol’ football pitch- hence I keep ’em coming.)

our typical Montana, game-day breakfast

Yesterday evening I was in a funk. What should have been an enjoyable afternoon of Hawks soccer- a local game on our beautiful, thick-grass field by the pastures of Stevensville, perfect Indian-summer weather, and the whole roster present to provide fresh subs, plus an opponent we’d beaten by one goal in an exciting away game, down on our turf to exact revenge- all the elements were there for a great rematch as Owen joined the team for pre-game workout and I found a spot to throw my towel on the lush grass.

Then the coach came to the parents and asked who would be willing to be a line judge.

“I can do that,” I volunteered. Coach was pleased and surprised, and asked if I knew how to do the job.

“Yeah, I’ve reffed before, in Japan. Line judge and head referee both.”

“Well, we’ll have to get you into the system in that case.”

But I can tell you now, I won’t be volunteered into any system. Here’s why:

This is the team we beat up in Poulson- the game I described before where each goal we scored was son matched by the opponent’s equalizer, until it became 5-5 and we plugged away until Owen scored his fourth- the go-ahead for the 1-point win. Yesterday’s game was very similar. Our midfielder Caden scored the first goal, he got a back pass from the right winger and looped it over the keeper from 20 yards. That was nice as it was Caden’s first of the year, and he’s the coach’s son. Owen put the next one in, a well timed and placed right-footer on the ground that hugged the left post. “That was a slow kick but I didn’t think the keeper would get to it, ’cause there was so much open space on the left.”

Owen put in two more in the first half and Poulson managed one. I thought this would be a home-game walk in the park. O already had his hat trick and things were running smooth. Shame on me, though, as these are the last thoughts that should be in the head of an official- speculating on how many points the home team is going to win by and how many more goals will be netted by his son, and worse, calmly enjoying the game. I’d told myself early on to “just concentrate on play and don’t think about the game!” but it’s hard.

The only two obvious errors I made were critical.

The first: Near the middle of the field, but on our half, our defenders brought the line forward and the Poulson striker was offsides by a foot or two. Their midfielder advanced the ball which struck one of our players and then bounced into the open field, in front of said striker. That’s it- the minute he touches the ball it should be called as offsides, but I didn’t call it. Of course he brought the ball down and scored, while I wondered, “Hmm. Was he offsides? Probably. Oops.”

Now I’ll skip the game details and get right to my boner move that probably cost us the game. Late in the second half, Poulson had netted three goals using the same method each time. Their two best players were the center midfielder and right wing. Their keeper or defenders get it to the big midfielder, he brings the ball up to just before the midline and then makes a nice, long pass up the right side. The right wing is faster than our left defender, so he waltzes past to the ball which has slowed down nicely in the heavy, tall grass. Our keeper is loathe to come out of the box so the winger takes the ball up and scores an easy one- three times. Now the game is getting real interesting- just like the barn-burner two weeks ago in Poulson. It’s 4-4 and Owen has three goals. Will he score the go-ahead? Will our defense fall for the same trick from these Poulson one-trick ponies? STOP THINKING ABOUT IT! You’re the line-judge for crying out loud!

Not as an excuse, but just an explanation for why I was shirking my duty a bit:

  1. The Poulson defense made no attempt to come forward and hold a line, forcing the Hawks offsides. There weren’t any plays that I could raise an offsides flag on. (and of course, in my head, I’m screaming, “Take advantage of this defensive oversight, boys!”) So I relaxed a bit and let my guard down.
  2. It’s rec-league youth soccer, not a world cup qualifier where refs have to fear for their lives (like I said, explanation not excuse).
  3. The Hawks are fighting like mad to get that winning goal, and of course I’m cheering silently for my own son to put it in.

And then it happened. The Hawks advanced the ball. The assistant coach’s talented midfielder son Hayden gets it to Owen at the last moment. There is a moment of confusion with Poulson defenders swarming down on O, but he manages to break free enough for a quick blast from 15 yards, which slams against the crossbar, then bounces down hard onto the ground and back onto the field. I was so absorbed by the exciting play that I forgot to concentrate and watch to see if the ball might have hit the ground behind the goal line, then spun out- which would be a goal. Then three of the Hawks players, including Owen, looked at the ref, then at me. The ref was looking at me. It’s my call!! I was stunned. I waved off what I now thought was probably a goal and indicated “play on!” to the ref. Owen and his teammates couldn’t believe it. I robbed him of the go-ahead goal.

The excitement continued. Later we indeed managed the go-ahead when Hayden brought it down the left side, taking two defenders with him, and made a high-speed, perfectly placed pass to Owen who struck it in from just in front of the goal. Alas, Poulson answered with their bread and butter play, twice (!!) to go ahead in the final minutes and take the 6-5 win- just the margin we’d won by in Poulson.

I apologized to the boys after the game. “Sorry guys, I think I robbed you of one.”

The boys and coaches already knew it- even the parents and Hawks girls volleyball team on the sidelines cheering on knew it. But everyone was friendly about it. A couple of the boys said, “That’s OK.” A couple girls on the volleyball team said, “Good job guys,” as we passed (I think one had her eye on O.)

But I felt crushed. Took Owen’s probable winning goal away from him. In the car ride home I learned from O that the ball hadn’t hit the ground behind the goal line; it actually hit the second crossbar that holds up the netting- well inside the goal (so even more obviously a goal)! Ugh.

Owen was a good sport about it- more worried that I felt bad than angry about losing. A better sport than I was at that age.

Life goes on!

Helena, part 1

Owen had a soccer game in Helena last Saturday.

seems the sky often looks like this on the eastern side of the continental divide (click for big)

This was a rematch against the team that clobbered us 14-1 in our very first game. We weren’t looking for a win- just something respectable. The first ten minutes were exciting as we kept it to a draw and had just as many scoring opportunities as Helena. The parents along the sidelines sat up straighter and paid attention- “hey, just maybe….” and in fact, the first solid shot on goal was by the Hawks: Owen blasted a right-footer under heavy coverage at 22 yards and it just missed, hitting the right post. O later told me he forgot to compensate for the wind.

Our hopes were dashed soon after when the Helena big boys dismantled our defense and converted on an easy opportunity from 15 yards. The rest of the game they dominated again, but we kept it respectable. Unlike the hot day back in August, playing 9 a side on the slow, tall-grass pitch, today was nice and cool, 11 a side, on a harder, fast field. Coach kept subbing in fresh legs and with Jason and the rest of our defense stymieing many Helena advances, we held them to 5 points. Trouble was, we rarely got the ball up to our forward line and then Owen and the wingers had to get it by the impenetrable wall- 3 defenders of average height 6’1″. O managed to put one in, however. Our forward line pressured their defenders enough to force a poorly placed/timed ball and O ran in for the easy gimme. Final score, 5-1.

After the game we drove out east to Canyon Ferry Lake.

After lunch we went to the Capitol.

Now son, you’re gonna have a little civics lesson here whether you like it or not!

Thomas Francis Meagher statue

Meagher was an Irish rebel, captured, tried and sentenced to hang, but managed to be sent to Australia instead. Escaped and found his way to New York. Formed an Irish brigade in the civil was and rose to rank of General. The flip side to this illustrious bio is that he organized a militia to subdue the uppity local Indian tribes in Montana, upset somehow about losing a few acres of land. The militia never got around to fighting Indians in the General’s time. Still, it’s the thought that counts- sorry General, that’s gonna cost you your statue in this day and age.

do you see any gallant union soldiers on horseback in those blueprints? neither do I

Fox News will be around to cover the unveiling of the tribal flags and demolition of the General’s statue- or will it be ABC news?

Why are ABC and FOX on the same car? Silly, they all work together- and you thought there was a difference!



walkin’ the dog

Hi Y’all.

Sorry for the postings drought. We are keeping busy.

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Three weeks ago we left our digs in Hamilton and headed seven miles north to do a home-sitting stint at the Hollingsworths. As you recall, we’ve done two workaway stays here- this time the workaway load is smaller, as we take care of the animals. 

Finn the border collie/alsatian/newfoundland needs to be walked thrice daily.

It’s another dull day for the ruminants. They like to mosey over to the humans and dog walking the road. Finn can scare the deer and horses, but the buffalo and cattle just think he’s a curiosity.


It’s a different environment here- not like the corner house in Hamilton, leafy pleasantville, USA. Now it’s woodsy wild-west Rockies bordering farmland. On Finn’s rambunctious walk you’d see cattle, buffalo, horses, eagles and hawks, alpacas, owls, Canada geese, cranes, peacocks, and of course deer. (everywhere in the valley there are deer, in town and country, who come down to be near humans and try to escape the constant threat of predators).

We saw a black bear snooping around the neighbors backyard last week, looking for birdfeeders I reckon. The bark of the dog, Finn, changes quite a bit when he goes from barking at a deer to barking when a bear is present. One bark says, “This is my territory.” The other says, “Let me in the house!”

But when Finn confronts another dog, it’s usually the other dog doing the barking. 

Old Blue doesn’t bark- he howls. The perfect dog to have on a lot with a barn, a trailer and two confederate flags!


A storm blew through the West earlier in the month. It got cold enough to fire up the woodstove at the Hollingsworths. Here’s a town somewhere east of Bozeman during the storm:

fire danger!

In addition to walking the dog, the boys had to take care of the cats, goats and chickens. The cats and chickens are easy, and so are the goats, except milking Star requires just the right touch. Star was a bit skittish at first about letting us interlopers milk her. It began as a three man job: Owen would feed her grain and keep her head in the stock, Allen would hold the pail so she didn’t kick it over, and I would milk. 

Anika, on the other hand, was a breeze to milk. The boys had no trouble with her, so I’d leave and take anxious Finn on his morning walk.


Next: a visit to the State Capitol of Helena

filler post

Happy September 11, everyone!

This post is just filler. We are at the Hollingsworths again keeping the animals fed and happy. I meant to get a regular post out this morning but we’ve got to milk the goats, walk the dog and such, then I’ve got stuff to do in Hamilton (car papers- thank you cousins!), then over to Stevensville to be briefed on our next housesitting gig. Then tomorrow we’re up to Kalispell for two (!) soccer games in one day, and I’m making the boys a big birthday dinner on Sunday, plus a lot of miscellany junk so I’ll try to get a post out this weekend but it may have to wait until Monday or Tuesday.

hbd boys

Today is O and A’s birthday! It’s a cool, but clear and beautiful day in the Bitterroot.


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Yes, that’s a good dusting of snow up there. Farther up the canyons, and down by the mountains that flank the south end of Lake Como, it was more than a dusting; more like a dumping. It was cold enough last night to fire up the wood stove. 

Yesterday afternoon, after the morning storm. Winds were strong- a tree fell on a powerline and we were without power for a while. 

Allen and I went out to pick up some fried chicken at the store.

Hunkering down with kitty.

expressions of pure joy\

Without their big brother, sister and mom around, and the regular blueberry cheesecake that we order from our favorite pastry shop, I thought the boys might need a little birthday pick-me-up. I got them some chips, and the perfect Montana gift: new work gloves!



Next: back to work after all the birthday nonsense.