Trying to be Spring up in western Montana

I’m trying to feel the wondrous rebirth that comes with Springtime right now. I want the warm sun to beat down on my bare skin for more than just a few hours at a time. I want to trust that warmth and know it won’t leave me tomorrow. I want to give in to complete surrender, believing I can, for sure, without any doubt, leave for a walk in the forest and not have to bring my jacket.

That I won’t regret my jacket-less decision when I’m too far from home base and a gust of wind with a taste of winter lingering inside of her whips up and I shiver.

And we had a hint of that type of day yesterday but there is still just a teensy bit too much snow on the ground in places where I walk so I brought my jacket. At points I got to tie it around my waist and let my arms enjoy what warmth there was so at least its a start.

Still a bit of snow out there for Ike & Jazzy.

And we have a house guest right now who absolutely LOVES the snow so I guess its not all that bad.

Jazz Champion is staying with us again while her rodeo rock star of a daddy gets bucked around on saddle-less horses and her Olympic figure skater Mummy cheers him on. She stayed with us last fall after a bit of snow and she loved the squishy, soft, cold white stuff that she had never seen before.

Now she loves the goofy, lovey, super fast buddy named Ike who she had never met before!

Coming off of my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day with the feline Fyfe kingdom recently, watching Ike and Jazz play with each other at warp speed has been like a salve for my soul.

They run. They jump. They crash into each other. They crash into us less and less. They run off but they always come back.

They seem the absolute best of friends!

Walks out back with Dad/Uncle Alistair

Alistair would take them way out back into the trees for long hikes on days I was veterinarian-ing in Deer Lodge. Ike and Jazz would “help” with the plethora of chores that Alistair does that are never-ending when you have a farm (and a bunch of big toys to use on said farm!)

“I’m an excellent driver, Mummy!”

They run around so much that often when its time for our Aloha hot tub/cocktail hour, the two of them just lay on the deck or on top of a nearby pile of snow.

Alistair drove to Bismarck last week and the dogs won’t leave my side. It is cute and endearing but also awkward trying to walk with 60 pounds of dog attached to both of my legs. After a few minutes they eventually take off and leap, run, bark and play together but they keep returning to me as if they are checking on me.

Or protecting me.

Either way.

It has been good for me.

D’embe and Professor Higgins a couple of mornings ago

Also good for me are the remaining cats, two of whom reside primarily outside. D’embe and Higgins have both sent in their applications for Indoor status but D’embe and Jockey do NOT get along. Plus, it really isn’t all that bad being a Fyfe “barn cat”. They get top notch Royal Canin kibble which is supplemented with a shared can of moist food every single day and there are a few cat beds to choose from in the nice “barn” they get locked into every night.

Clearly, they aren’t starving.


I’m down to Jockey and the Bee Gees for room-mates but even that is okay because Jockey has taken over the role of Couch Time companion every evening after the ferrets get put away. Jockey was always a lover but Sport took over the couch (and my lap) after Loki died a few years ago and I wasn’t sure if Jockey even knew there was a position on the couch at night (and in my lap.)

He purrs on the couch and he purrs in bed when he lays right next to me every night.

Exactly where Sport used to lay.

Jockey isn’t just all about me, though. Alistair is the one who first brought our big red-head into the house back in Bismarck years ago. They go back to when Alistair broke his pelvis in 2012 so Jockey still enjoys time with his Dad when he is here, too.

A different couch- this one is behind my computer chair where I write.

We are hopeful that the snow will continue to disappear on our march through April (see what I did just there?) because, you know…. golf.

Some courses are open. Alistair has been playing Painted Woods in North Dakota since last month and we got out together on a particularly sunshiny day in Missoula a couple of weeks ago!

It was so good for my heart and my brain and even though we only played the front 9 it felt incredible. And I didn’t suck! We both made par once and we even found a couple of balls. (We also got me stocked up with red wine, which is another integral component to keeping a smile on my face.)

Back in my happy place (with Mulder and Jinxie!) at Canyon River golf course.

Alistair joined me in setting up ‘For Sale’ signs at my fabulous off-grid listing north of Seeley Lake last week and it was a beautiful day of sunshine and mountain views. We are definitely enjoying more and more of these blue-sky days so even though the sky outside the window to my right is grey and a little bit dark I still have hope that Spring will turn warm and I can finally trust the sunshine to stick around again.

Realtor’s helper!

And yesterday morning the highs soared yet again for another of my career paths when I received an email announcing that my fourth book, The Runaways of Missing Lake, won its third award! Book 4, like book 3, is now a Distinguished Favorite in Teen Fiction for the Independent Press Awards! While my eyes have burned from too many tears lately the ones that crept in yesterday morning were joyful ones that threatened to slip down my laugh lines and into my dimples.

No prize money.

No guarantee of fame & fortune.

Just more stickers and hey, that’s cool, too.

This baby gets a third sticker soon!

So even while I choked up telling a friend about Sport and Bebe yesterday I know I am going to be okay. It actually caught me a little off guard because I have been able to talk about that misery-filled morning without losing it but that’s fine. I’m doing fine. We are all allowed to feel for our loved ones when we aren’t expecting to have to hold those feelings in check.

And I feel loved.

The outpouring of sympathy and concern from so many friends and family on social media when I shared my last blog post continues to hug my heart. So many veterinary classmates wrote about Sport and how sad they were that their unique classmate was no longer with me in a physical sense.

And I feel the love from everyone when they share my joy with the books and the awards. I want to bring you all along on this journey with me! Climb aboard! Lets see where this all can go!

All the feels!!!!!!

With what is remaining of today’s daylight I had better head outside to get semi-mauled by very adoring dogs so they can get more exercise today.

I’ve worked my veterinary, real estate and now writing careers today and my brain feels kind of full. In a very good way, of course because we are all together sharing in the beginning of Spring (and more vaccines in arms, People, please!)

I’m still going to wear my jacket.

5074, Beaver Creek Road… I’m just saying…
Barry, Andy & Maurice are always making me smile!
Yesterday with the barn kitties.
Being more than just fine.

My Worst Morning (Even Though it Wasn’t About Me)

Bebe and Sport curled up in my legs in 2019

I have been working hard to not go back to Friday, April 2nd because the instant I think about it my eyes well up with tears and my heart leaps into my throat. I have had some real estate transactions get going and several veterinary days in Deer Lodge since then plus Alistair and Ike are home and our doggie friend, Jazz is staying with us and I just didn’t have time to melt down.

But I have set this time aside today because I need to share this.

Partly as therapy for me but also because 2 very special spirits deserve the tribute.

And, no surprise, I’m already crying.

Sporto, December 2020

You see, I had to send Bebe and Sporto both over the Rainbow Bridge that morning and Dr. Me and Mummy Me both had one Hell of a time coming to grips with the whole thing.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Dr. Me had decided that Bebe’s quality of life had gone down since the return of her oral cancer. Her days consisted of calling out for her morning Greenies, then sleeping all day in a head-pressing kind of position. She would occasionally ask for more Greenies and she was still eating her nightly canned food but the tumor was causing her to drool and smell and there is only so much Clindamycin one cat can get.

Bebe was 18 and had lived a great life, even if most of it was in the shadows of the other cats. She loved cuddling with Oscar (all the ladies loved cuddling with Oscar over the years) and she was cuddly with Boomer but it wasn’t until Boomer died a few years ago that Babs became kind of sociable in the house.

Bebe excelled at the art of Sunbeaming (back in 2016)

And I’m okay writing about Bebe because we have been expecting this and I knew I was going to do The Deed that Friday because Alistair and Ike were coming back to Montana that day and I wouldn’t be alone in my grief.

Plus Sport and Jockey were doing fine until, quite suddenly, Sport wasn’t.

Sport was 2 months shy of his 21st birthday and he had been gradually losing weight over the past couple of months but it was gradual. We called him my “appendage” for several years because he preferred to live life as an extension of my body. Whether he was on my lap at the computer, in my arms, draped over my legs during Couch Time or under my arms spooning with me at night, Sport was truly happy being with or on top of me.

HRH Sporto, 2014

You see, Sporto was my heart cat. I spent more time with him over the past 20 years than I have with my husband. No joke. Sport came to vet school with me in Saskatoon not long after he became a Fyfe (one of Alistair’s nurses’ new husband was allergic so we welcomed the quirky little Siamese into our house.) (For the record, the new husband didn’t last long either.)

Sport was only a year old back then and initially he didn’t take to the feline herd that was the Fyfe Farm at the time. He lived under my stepson’s bed and crept out at night to rip into the bread on the counter for sustenance.

Until one day when he just sort of joined the whole group and made the best of it.

Then I got to bring him and Cooper to Saskatoon with me and the intense bonding began.

Fritzie and Sporto

Sport kind of became an honorary classmate of the class of 2005. He especially loved his Fritzie, who is also a Siamese cat lover. Whenever Danielle hung out at my place Sport was all over her.

He also had his own column in The Times of Our Lives newsletter I put together with Cory, Pat, and Nate, the Sports Column. It generally had nothing to do with sports but it was funny and he was a part of the team.

The contributing writers for the TOOL at one particularly disastrous Beer & Wing Night.

When Alistair leaves me every 2 weeks to return to Bismarck for 2 weeks Sport stays and snuggles and drapes himself all over me. Or I carry him around the house in my arms or on top of my shoulders and he lays on the kitchen table waiting for me to finish my supper so we can go & get Couch Time going for the everning.

Two days before I knew I would be putting Babs down Sport started giving me signs that he wasn’t having as much fun anymore. And he didn’t come and ask to sit in my lap when I checked my emails Thursday morning. He was even hiding next to the wet bar mini fridge that morning, which is really unusual behavior.

When cats display hiding behaviors like that it is usually a big sign that they know something isn’t right. Evolutionarily they know they are more easily picked off by predators. Dogs will display hiding behaviors as well. See…? I can quite rationally explain this kind of thing as Dr. Me until I have to be Mummy Me and make that horribly painful decision.

Sport in my lap just a couple of weeks ago, still feeling pretty good.

So… Friday morning…

At least he did come to my lap for email time but he didn’t stay long.

I knew Bebe was in her cat bed by the kitchen and Jockey was conked out in our bedroom so I put the Aloha music station on and gathered my things.

Then I gathered my beautiful, loyal companion of 20 years and picked him up for some final dance time together. Sport has always enjoyed laying in my arms as we sway to Keali’i Richel or Iz or Jack Johnson and it seemed like an important thing to do.

For me as much as for him.

Eventually we sat at the cribbage table (another favorite spot for him where he would join us for cards and cocktails, always in my lap.) That’s where I gave him his sedative and told him over and over again how much I loved him.

Mummy and Sporto, 2014

He sedated peacefully but quickly, too.

And then the final injection.

And that was it.

I should add that after he sedated I completely lost my shit and I’m okay with that.

I lovingly wrapped him in a towel and took my bag of tricks to the cat bed Babs was sleeping in and I felt bad waking her up but I also felt like I needed to say a few more “I love you’s” to her, too. Even though I say Sport was my heart cat, it doesn’t mean I have any less affection for the other Fyfe kitties who have shared our homes. Bebe was an odd cat but I respected her for that and I have enjoyed her new personality the past few years when she came out of her shell.

So I sedated her and she, too, gave in quickly.

With Hawaiian music still playing in the background.

Baby Bebe back in Bismarck, 2004

The Angel of Darkness was in fine form that morning.

Two sweet, special souls are packed away in our freezer and while I haven’t allowed myself time to grieve their losses until today I do feel a sort of closure right now.

It helps that Jockey is sitting on the couch behind me as I type.

And it helps that Alistair is outside watching Ike and Jazz romp around together as new BFFs.

It also helps that my clinic in Deer Lodge remains a fun and rewarding place for me to work (I sutured up a dog yesterday! I haven’t sutured anything since I took out a couple of Alistair’s sebaceous cysts!) (Not that I used that line to the dog’s owners yesterday…)

And it helps that I still have real estate transactions on the go knowing, too, that I will have 3 listings by the end of this coming week.

Yesterday at Clark Fork Veterinary post-vaccine #2!!!

Also helping is that I got my 2nd dose of the Moderna COVID19 vaccine yesterday and I feel great. I know a lot of you have felt like ass after the 2nd dose but I guess I dodged that bullet.

Maybe the universe thought I’d been through enough lately, I don’t know. I do know that I feel like I am part of the solution with this vaccine even though I’ll continue to socially distance myself and wear a mask when I’m around people.

Cooper, Oscar, Bebe and Boomer back in the day.

The whole saying about being nice to people because you never know what they are going through kept circling around in my head the past week and a bit. I smiled and laughed and showed homes and wrote offers and drove back and forth to Deer Lodge and vaccinated pets and looked at eyes and ears and wounds and cracked jokes and straightened my hair and just lived life without allowing myself to drift back to that fateful Friday morning.

Until now.

If you ever met Sport and Bebe then you are richer for it.

Rest in Peace, my Loves. A good life deserves a good death and I think I was able to give both of those to both of you.


Sport and me a couple of weeks ago. He always did this upside-down thing on me during Couch Time. Pretty sure my eyes are glassy here because I was beginning to realize it was almost Time.
Babs noshing on her Greenies in January
Bebe and Sport outside a couple of years ago.
I dabbled in pencil a couple of years ago prior to becoming a realtor. I’m so glad I did.

5 Qs & 1 A: Tanya Fyfe


A fun re-blog from a great friend!

All That's Write

Welcome to what I hope will be a regular segment on my blog, featuring five questions and one author. I meet many talented writers and work with many authors that become friends, and I feel they deserve to be shared with the world. This first interview is special for me because it’s with one of my best friends, who I can also say is one of my longest life friendships. We proudly go back to the mid-80s, with our matching black stirrup pants and Miami Mice sweatshirts, roaming the halls of Grand Forks Secondary School (Grand Forks, BC, not North Dakota). Even then my friend was accomplished with her figure skating and it was obvious by her enthusiastic personality that her life would be adventurous and full of great things. Tanya Fyfe is a woman of many talents, which you will see, but today I am highlighting her as an…

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