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

6 thoughts on “Insights from the Inside of Big Red (or, Covid Blows)

  1. Oh Tanya… Please send my GET WELL!!! wishes to Alistair.
    You’re such a strong Lady, I know what being lonely is like but you do know that you & Alistair will be playing golf next Spring and holding each other soon!!! Best wishes to you both, Love Marty

    • Thanks so much, Marty!!!! Alistair is on his way to Montana today and is feeling a bit better for sure. Still just needs to rest a bit and yes, the golf courses beckon for sure. We love you!!! xo

    • So far so good, Mike. Thanks for your thoughts. It wasn’t fun for several days and he still isn’t 100% but he is absolutely a lot better and heading back to ND tomorrow. Probably was Omicron because the monoclonal antibodies didn’t seem to do much. We are both boosted now, at least so we feel pretty good about that! Happiest of holidays!

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