Martini Uno Omni iCat Winkle Fyfe

Martini Fyfe!!!

As is generally the case in the Fyfe household, we weren’t in the market for a new pet.

We weren’t saying, “Hey, we haven’t adopted a new cat in ages” or, “You know, we need more cats in the house”, and we weren’t looking around online or in the newspaper.

I was merely at work at Clark Fork Veterinary last Monday and heard some buzz about some Good Samaritans. It was getting towards the end of the day and I knew I had snowy roads to drive in the dark so I wasn’t really listening. I didn’t even know if they were discussing a dog, a cat, a pig or a goat. Just some people found some animal off the Interstate and they brought it to us.

And then I walked past the cat kennel room making sure to say something cheeky to the spicy clinic cat, Tabasco.

Tabasco. (not my picture)

That’s when someone else caught my eye.

Sitting in the crate above Tabasco was a seal-point Siamese kitty doing her best to get my attention with her mewing. She looked so much like Sport, the feline extension of my own body for the last 20 years that I had to take a step back.

And then I stepped forward and reached in to pick her up.

What the???? (Monday, seconds after seeing her)

I put 2 and 2 together and snapped a picture to text to my husband while trying to pay more attention to the discussion going on in the treatment room.

The kitty needed her right eye removed and that would cost a few hundred dollars. Some of our staff rent or they live with their folks or they have big dogs so not everyone can bring home a one-eyed waif. Many of our staff have young kids at home, too, so a few hundred bucks just days before Christmas wasn’t in the cards.

I pretty much announced right then that kitty would probably become a Fyfe (Alistair texted a few minutes later and added his own seal of approval.)

Kitty… as a Fyfe!

The next day, despite it being really busy, our surgical team led by Dr.Betsy got kitty prepped and ready for surgery (enucleate this!!!!) At one point we thought Dr.Chelsea would be doing the honors, then her clients showed up so then it was back on Dr.Betsy’s books. I had done the pre-surgical exam with my technician, Jessi first thing that morning.

Kitty was very active that morning. Crawling all over us, the exam room, the counters… she climbed up onto my shoulders and thrust herself off my chest towards Jessi who, thankfully, has quick reflexes. She nested in Jessi’s hair, she tried to leap up onto the counters from the floor, she wriggled and wrestled me and my stethoscope and was just a general psycho.

She got herself all nestled in there…

Her right eye was icky. Yeah, that’s a medical term.

It smelled, too and I’m sure it was a source of pain. We aren’t sure what happened to the eye because she was found in the snow next to the Interstate. The smell and the drainage told us the injury wasn’t brand new but its anyone’s guess as to what led to the damage. Thankfully, the rest of her check-up was unremarkable (once we got her to stop the loud purring so I could actually hear her heart.)

Awesome surgical techs, Bailee and Kiersten with the little patient

And, just like that, the eye is out.

And I drove through the snowy night later than normal to bring her to her new world at the Fyfe Farm.

And Alistair got to bond with the cutie patootie under the Christmas tree.

Martini and Daddy

Alistair, himself, is still not 100% post Covid. Its mostly just stamina-issues he faces but he did get to come back to Montana post-quarantine for a week.

And he got to help a little kitty get a new lease on life, albeit with one eye.

Interestingly, since she’s been home, she hasn’t been psycho anymore. I’m wondering if she was just in that much pain that it made her agitated and crazy.

Or, maybe she somehow appreciates already that she’s found herself a couple of Siamese-loving suckers who don’t really have a lot of rules at their house.

Other than my main one: donate your reproductive organs at the door and get along.

Feeling a little sniffly and sneezy during her recovery

She is also battling a lovely upper respiratory infection right now, likely brought on from stress, surgery, stress and more stress. While moving into Fyfe Life is great, its still a lot of changes. Good stress is still stress!

The reproductive organ thing will happen soon enough. And the getting along? Jockey and Martini have already slept on either side of my leg through the night. There isn’t any hissing or growling, either, so I think Jockey figures the little cyclops isn’t much of a threat.

We haven’t met the ferrets yet because once we knew Alistair tested positive for Covid we whisked them off to their other home with Joel, Jeanette, Ivan, Fallon and Panzur. I got to visit with them yesterday on Christmas Day and it was an absolute blast.

“Do you like my pink noses???” (Barry)

The Bee Gees will stay there for another couple of weeks while more flooring will be happening around them in early January and we need them breathing clean air through their teensy noses. It just gives Maurice more time to horde socks and intimidate the year-old German Shepard in the house.

“I just like to keep the big dog guessing, Mamma!” (Maurice)

If you’ve been following along you’ll know that I am ready to put December in the rear-view mirror. And yet we are wrapping it up with a one-eyed Siamese cat that I like to imagine was sent to us from Spirit of Sporto. One of the toughest days of my life last spring was putting him and Bebe down the same morning and it has taken me a long time to reconcile that, even though it was absolutely necessary.

And I had some tough moments as a veterinarian, a realtor and a wife, not to mention a solo gal on a snowy ranch at the end of a long driveway this month.

This. This was a fun morning driving to Deer Lodge. Hey, Powell County- doing a bang up job on Woodworth road this year! (They are 80 drivers short this winter…)

And I watched an almost-recovered husband head down the driveway Friday morning to begin the onslaught that is his job on the front lines again today.

He texted me “65” after 3 hours of work today.

That’s the number of patients he had seen already.

Friday morning. Bye, Hon!

And its not sustainable and they are short staffed and the staff who are there are pissy and that’s to be expected and with the holidays most other clinics are closed and they have no windows and he isn’t fully recovered but we also haven’t dealt with how Covid has taken a toll on his mental health the past 6 months and another partner tested positive yesterday but he’s asymptomatic and Omicron is spreading like wildfire and I’m here and he’s there so I can’t force him to eat well and who has the time to eat well when you’re seeing 65 patients in just over 3 hours and your wife gets to live in the mountains with the cute new one-eyed kitten and there honestly is no end in sight and the real estate transaction is still happening but I’m not holding my breath but I’m cool even though I probably have to go and plow more snow when I finish this blog.

Surveying my handiwork (Big Red’s handiwork) on Christmas Eve; got to keep that open for Santa!

I probably won’t blog again until 2022.

That’s kind of neat, actually.

I’m choosing to remain the optimist I always have been (even if it borders on naivete.) I AM in the beautiful mountains with a cute new companion and I’m fortunate enough to have the kick-ass ’96 Ram with the guts and strength to move snow from here to there.

I have friends and family who have had my back through thick and thin when I’ve put myself out there this month.

I’ve shared because I sometimes feel like my life is one big teachable moment but also because its one more coping mechanism I posses.

I use words.

And pictures.

“Use your own words, Cobalt!”

Here’s to Martini Uno Omni iCat Winkle Fyfe and everyone who sent in name suggestions! Here’s to Good Samaritans and to excellent veterinary team members.

Here’s to every like, e-hug, and comment everyone sent me this month.

And here’s to 2022. We got this.

Here’s to these two recovering
Christmas day selfies with Andy at the Roesner house!
Pre-leap towards Jessi during her pre-surgical exam on Tuesday
Welcome aboard, little one!

Insights from the Inside of Big Red (or, Covid Blows)

Jazzy Girl loves the snow!

To no one’s surprise, Alistair tested positive for covid last Monday. He’s been holed up at our house in Bismarck with a myriad of symptoms and days that are so-so interspersed with days that are better.

Not good or bad.

Just so-so and better.

He got the monoclonal antibody infusion Tuesday morning and he was fully vaccinated and he hasn’t needed supplemental oxygen or a hospital bed so there are those things to be thankful for.

Receiving his IV monoclonal antibodies.

Apparently up in Kalispell you get 4 injections in the muscle in one day if you’re getting the antibodies while in Bismarck its one IV infusion. I’m not sure if that means we are still just trying to figure our way through Covid or what.

I have said, from the beginning, that we’re going to know a lot more about Covid in a few more years.

So a lot of my mind has been taken up with thoughts of Alistair and the fact I’m being a shitty wife because I stayed in Montana so I could keep working both as a veterinarian and a realtor and not put my co-workers or the clinic at risk of shutting down.

Montana weather this past week

I hit a bit of my own rough patch this past week when it felt like I had maybe given up a little too much of myself even though I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

I had a very, very sad euthanasia mid week in Deer Lodge. I’m talking mega-sad. Not that any farewell appointment is easy. Nor do I mean to imply that I rate appointments like that. This one had so many… layers. It involved the entire clinic and a pet’s entire family and there were family dynamics that made everything so painfully poignant. And I had just met the pet and her family that day.

“Hi. I’m the Angel of Darkness!”

I drove home through 2 phases of the game, “Am I On The Road Right Now?” that night later than normal and woke up to my big real estate transaction careening off its own course days before closing. Phone calls, texts, voicemails, more phone calls and more texts and a few more phone calls later and we currently have an extension on the closing. If it makes it to closing. I was juggling 4 men and trying to find solutions between and for my buyer, his lender, my boss and the seller’s agent. I think everyone is content right now but we’ll see how the next 4 weeks go.

It didn’t help that later that same day I had to put down a very ancient dog who I have known since his dad brought him here from Arizona many years ago. His dad had passed away unexpectedly days ago and friends reached out to me to do the necessary thing for his little old dog. There was more of myself I chose to give and it hit kind of hard that night.

Needing floofy hugs that night!

I am absolutely certain that the fact Alistair has covid and he’s so-so one day and just better the next and the fact I’ve had to plow snow several times this week and its darker each day and I felt more alone than normal and I’m probably not eating right and our golf courses are closed was all part of my temporary malaise but I’m doing alright now.

I actually reached out and put my shit on social media and the world came back with love and hugs and genuine concern.

And the plowing isn’t so bad. I mean, its time consuming but I’ve actually had the time to do it. And I’m driving Big Red, which, as many of you know, is the second-most significant male relationship in my life. We’ve had that truck since 1996 and he is the reason we own a small fleet of Dodge Rams.

Pulling some bad assery this morning with Big Red.

I also live at the very end of a long dirt road and there is nobody behind me to do the plowing. If I want the road open I need to do it.

And I’ve done it enough that I’ve learned a few truths about plowing snow in Montana.

For starters, just resign yourself to the fact you have to do it. Don’t bitch and whine about it and don’t wallow in self pity. You need a road open and if all you see is a fluffy Bernedoodle when you scour the house then you’re the one who has to do it.

Another thing? Don’t be a dick. If you have neighbors whose driveways also attach to the main road you are plowing then don’t make it so that they have to gun it in hopes they’ll get air and clear the berm you just left blocking their driveway.

I tidied up the corner this morning for the folks who live straight ahead. It looks better in real life, I promise!

Also, take pride in your work. Take the time to do a good job (the whole, “If a job’s worth doing” thing.) If you’re going to open up that road and your side berms aren’t higher than your blade then turn that thing into a runway!

Leading up to our house this morning.

Another thing: sometimes you have to go slow and sometimes you have to go fast. Going fast means you’re going to pump up snow quickly onto your windshields so your wipers are going to be flying. If its still snowing and blowing this can lead to a very snowy windshield in no time, necessitating stops to wipe the blades down as you go. Slower driving tends to avoid that (unless its really crappy out) but sometimes the sides are too wet or heavy and they suck your blade right into them. Don’t try to be a hero, man. Get your ass out of that quickly or you’ll be needing someone else’s husband to pull you out.

And I don’t know how to explain the difference between knowing when to go slow or when to crank it up into 3rd gear. After so many years and so many passes and so many near-misses and so many almost-screams you just know.


Try your best to remember where extension cords are buried under the snow. I told myself the entire first hour of plowing yesterday to “remember the cord, Tanya, remember the cord.” Over and over I repeated it inside my head in between pretending I know some of the words to the Hawaiian songs blasting through the speakers.

I forgot the cord. Not my worst time…

That’s one of those lessons that can be okay (like yesterday) or borderline disastrous. Its also a lesson that both of us forget from time to time so its kind of an acceptable husband or wife move.

Probably one of the most fundamental lessons learned is to love your plow truck.

I mean, LOVE your plow truck.

I heart Big Red!

Especially if he is a bit older but you want (need) him to hang in there for awhile still. Maybe pimp out the ride inside and invest in studded tires out back. Take him into the shop annually (highly recommend doing this before the snow flies) and don’t slam him into the big snow piles at full throttle. Kick all the snow off the bottom of your boots before driving so you’re less likely to lose your footing and pop the clutch.

I talk to Big Red on snowy mornings and I maybe even flirt with him. (Granted, I’m alone a lot of the time so there’s that.) I thank him out loud when he fires up (particularly if he’s a bit sketchy about it) (which is usually when I’ve forgot to plug him in overnight.) I brush him down where I can reach as he first starts so he can warm up a little before we begin our cruise. Its kind of like foreplay. I give him a gloved pat on the hood each time we finish our routine and I have been known to hug him.

Assessing whether or not the beast and I are going to have to plow again today.

And even though it stopped snowing for a few hours today, it is coming down again right now. I’ll get the barn kitties put away and take Jazz out for a long walk and laugh at her ridiculous, dramatic antics in the snow and maybe I’ll have to resign myself to plowing again.

The Hawaiian music that fills the cab is fun in its sheer irony but it also makes me smile, which I was hard pressed to do during a 24 hour stretch a few days ago.

“Did somebody say, ‘walkies’?”

Alistair will hopefully get back here someday or maybe I’ll head to Bismarck for a few days.

Or maybe both.

I know he has a boat load of people pulling for him, knowing how hard he has worked on the front lines of Covid for almost 2 years now. I know people have appreciated our honesty about what we knew and what we didn’t or still don’t know as this novel virus has paraded around the globe. We don’t know if he has the Delta or Omicron variants but we do know he isn’t hospitalized and I’m thankful for that.

My funny guy!

Alistair will be fine.

I’ll be fine.

Sometimes just putting your feelings out into the universe when you’ve used up all of your other coping mechanisms is all you can do. I appreciate everyone who has reached out publicly and privately to check on the Fyfes.

Now its time to go walk a dog!

Happening a few minutes ago.
Some of my morning handiwork today.
Jazz approves of the new floors!
Bee Gees are back with their besties… we weren’t sure when Alistair was coming back and ferrets can be susceptible to covid. Got to love Andy’s face! xo

City Planning, Fyfe Style


We got our festive little community, Christmas Town, back up and running again this year!

North end of Christmas Town!

Every year we try to add something new, whether it is an actual house or storefront, more people and stand-alone pieces or one more skating rink. (Fun fact: there are 8 skating rinks now! )

We joke that this really brings out the realtor in me because I actually try to make some sense with how we zone this thing. It obviously wasn’t an issue when all we had was High Meadow Pond (shown above) but then we started getting hooked on creating this place.

City Planners… hard at it!

We try to choose pieces that reflect who we are and what we do. The skating rinks were a natural. Not only was I a professional figure skater, but we also met at an ice rink when I was a guest skater in Creston, BC. Our wedding was on the ice as well and Alistair made an ice rink out back in Bismarck every winter when the kids were young.

Alistair surprised me this year with a cute little skate shop, too. Finally, somewhere to rent skates and get them fixed! (One presumes there is a sharpening system in the back…)


Gradually we got some places to eat, even adding a food truck and a pizzeria last year along with a wine bar this year. Most of the shops are tongue-in-cheek nods to Fyfe Life… like the jewelry store that reflects the fun Chloe & Isabel fashion jewelry I used to sell or the brand new Lowe’s that we found (in Lowe’s) where we often add to our collection.

Pizzeria looks a lot like the real one in Deer Lodge! Lowe’s was a fun find this year.

And the zoning thing is pretty legit, to be honest. You can’t just slap up a riding stable and barn next to the water tower. There’s bacteria and things to consider! (The veterinarian in me advises the realtor from time to time.)

We also provide housing for everyone in Christmas Town. A log cabin by the riding stable, condo rentals by a skating pond, identical twin townhouses (that was an oopsy when both of us bought in MT and ND that year)- we have met our little community’s housing needs. We grow the housing as we grow the town.

All this planning required refreshments!

As I type this, I realize I have been reading about these kinds of things in real life. My REALTOR magazine, put out by the National Association of Realtors, has had many articles detailing how cities can and should move forward now that we have dealt with Covid for close to 2 years.

So many people realized they could work from home so they stopped taking transit. The essential workers and transit workers still needed transit, though, so there is much we need to learn. People and families started valuing their open spaces because we all needed (and still need to) socially distance ourselves while still recreating outdoors.

Walkability is a catch-phrase used by city planners and thinkers and we probably need to focus on that when our communities and cities grow right now. Not only is it healthy and good for social distancing to be outdoors, its also a very real thing that in 2034, just 13 years from now, the US will have more people over 65 than under 18 for the first time (thank you, Danielle Arigoni, Director of Livable Communities at AARP for that fact.) At a certain point, many seniors don’t drive.

Lots of outdoor recreating in Christmas Town, not to mention the walkability.

With less and less time being spent in our offices, neighborhoods are going to need to see changes in the spaces we create. Flexible spaces designed for multiple functions like video conferences along with a place to eat and for the kids to run around sound like a good idea for the future. Places where you can have an art class along with yoga for the grown-ups and maybe a coffee bar all while having the ability to let others plug in and connect online to do their work might be a great use of space down the road.

As Christmas Town grew we knew it was completely unrealistic if we didn’t have housing. That’s kind of where a lot of America is right now. The lack of affordable housing is almost at crisis-levels for people of color and people of modest means, according to the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge. “Even before the pandemic, nearly 11 million Americans spent more than half of their incomes on rent. COVID 19 has only made this situation worse,” she says.

Unfortunately, Christmas Town is not a very diverse community. There’s my privilege coming out….

What does it say that all of the little people in Christmas Town are white? Its not like there has ever been any option, either, when choosing our little additions each year. I’m pretty sure that just speaks to who is buying these pieces with enough room in a house they own in which to display them.

I’m not going to get all heavy on that because that was not the point when I started typing this afternoon. I mostly like sharing the twinkly, bright lights and the festive mood that we’ve created with everyone. I do like the fact we have ample walkability. I like to pretend we live in the cute log cabin at the north end of town and I make my way, on foot, through the village, stopping to coach a little figure or power skating or maybe skate myself at one of the rinks along the way.

I’ll grab a coffee on my way out and sit down for a glass of wine on my way back during this daily stroll through Christmas Town.

One of my favorite places to hang out!

Before the wine, though, I’ll hit up the area zoned for animal-centered businesses. Each business there can use a veterinarian’s skill set and knowledge of vaccination records and I would get to play with puppies and kittens as I go. I would make sure to put in some time at the Animal Shelter, too, which is part of the feel-good-ed-ness of this little make believe community.

Animal Shelter that Alistair found just a couple of years ago.

Obviously the animal thing is a huge part of Fyfe Life. Before “Attrition” we maxed out at 5 dogs, 8 indoor cats, 3 barn cats, 3 ferrets and 2 guinea pigs, not to mention the equine herd outside. We are down to 2 barn kitties, 1 indoor cat, 3 crazy ferrets and 7 horses in Bismarck. (We have Jazz Champion, the adorable Bernedoodle here right now, too, because her daddy, Richmond made the NFR again and even placed 2nd last night!)

So real Fyfe Life is low on animals but Christmas Town is alive with barking and purrs! (Fun fact number 2: there are 7 horses, 13 cats, 27 dogs (!!!) and one pig in Christmas Town!)

Zoned for animals!

After doing vet care for the shelter pets and helping identify which owners suit which animals I would head next door to Harvey’s Hoppy Stein to meet up with Alistair (he’d been coaching hockey at one of the rinks). Granted, I would most likely ask to see the wine list but its still a super cute pub and I’m sure they have appies available, too.

Harvey’s! Apparently they do take-out as well.

Yes, I do live in a little fantasy world sometimes. There is probably some psychological label you can slap on people who like to create happy worlds and imagine living in them even when their own world is pretty great. Its kind of like when we build our fish tank worlds- well, Alistair mostly does that but I have added kitsch and color to the newer tanks. Its fun. Its magical. It makes us smile.

Our Asian-themed tank with pagodas and dragons…

Christmas Town is a fun, light-hearted, musical place for us to visit after long days in Alistair’s covid clinic (he sees between 50 and 90 patients a shift still right now and the Delta variant is super transmissible and its making people really sick, or dead, and he’s weary and he’s tired and he’s shoved in a basement clinic without windows and some staff have left and they haven’t been replaced and today on the phone he sounded like ass with a terrible cough and not much appetite and he tested negative yesterday but he’ll test again tomorrow using the PCR and nobody will be shocked if he tests positive but hopefully if he does he won’t be shedding by the time he gets to come back to Montana and me and Jazz and Christmas Town.)

Jazz, me and Montana!

We don’t have golf right now thanks to the weather so we need other avenues or outlets for our busy worlds. I’m driving to Deer Lodge to vet 8 days this month and I’ve got the biggest transaction of my real estate life winding its way to a hopeful closing soon. It hit a glitch here and there but we are finding solutions and moving forward.

Christmas Town is one more area where a figure skater can be a veterinarian can be a realtor (there’s no brokerage but, remember, the realtor skills shine through in the zoning!) #beallthethings

I can also be me- goofy, light-hearted most of the time and sparkly! With a glass of wine at the end of the walk.

Getting started the other day….
How Alistair spends much of the day during the creative process
None of this right now… damnit!
Plenty of this, though! Jazz Champion and Aunty Tan! xo