random shots

Up at the ranch near Missoula- the boys don’t mind the snow. We’ve got the clothes for it.

soaked to the bone

What we don’t have the clothes for are those miserable days when it’s pouring rain and just a few degrees above freezing. That creek to the right running under the tree runs to the ditch we’re digging out.

Owen and the row of maples, just before they lose their leaves

Happy, sunny day in Stevensville.

View out to the backyard. Note the log fence, built by Josh to look like the peaks of the Bitterroot range to the west.

Allen pre-haircut. Here he tests his home-made silencer on the BB pistol. “Aim away from the coffee-maker, please!” On our final full day here, Bob will take Allen to the gun show in Hamilton, while O and I play pick-up soccer for the last time at the high school fields. The lads will miss Owen with his fancy, fast moves.

Our 4 field companions. The friendliest is the palomino, whom we call ‘Palomino’. He likes a good roll in the dirt. If I’d thought about it I’d have called him ‘Trigger’. Next is the mule on the right. The beautiful brown horses don’t say hello much, even when you get a juicy handful of tall grass for them. Palomino and mule will follow you all around, however. Keep the gates closed; they are always watching for a quick escape to greener pastures.

The other day next door neighbor Avery’s cows got loose (did I already mention this??). O, A and I helped guide them back to their pasture. So add a round-up to the Montana experiences!

Ready for deployment north to the border, in the case the Canadians get any ideas.

Up at the range: Allen with AK-74. Owen with AK-47. Me with M-1. What’s the difference between the 47 and 74, you ask? The AK-47 has large caliber and quite a kick. The 74 has smaller bullets, designed to twist and spin upon entry, so just as deadly but easier to shoot perhaps. You want to penetrate the side of a truck door, you go with the 47. It was fun to watch skin and bones Owen try to manhandle that thing; his shoulder has recovered fully. The AKs are a good option for lazy folks who don’t have the energy to keep their guns perfectly clean. I guess if you own the popular AR you have to keep it in tip-top shape, whereas the Russky gun is sort of self cleaning and simple, for Russky soldiers who can’t be bothered.

We had a fun day out here but now the boys have been on gun-cleaning duty for two days straight since then. Fine with Allen but O would probably just as soon be on the soccer pitch.

O- kindling duty, handling the hatchet like an axe

Bob is a great artist and teacher of art as well. This is what Allen produced in Bob’s basement painting class.


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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: https://youtu.be/3HjpRuY1XIQ

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: https://youtu.be/M7EM_V5_xac