50

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Birthday girl back in October

So there I was, happily minding my business, doing a bunch of things involving a variety of careers and characters and, BAM, just like that I turned 50.

Fifty.

Five-oh.

Half a fricking century old!!!!

SO many wonderful friends celebrated me getting old!

I haven’t blogged about it yet because I haven’t made time to blog a lot and then Hawaii happened and that seemed significant and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel something more… I don’t know… surreal? Life changing? Poignant?

I don’t, though. I don’t feel anything ‘wow’ about hitting this milestone.

I do have big feelings about it, though, because of the wealth of love and laughter shared a couple of days before the actual turning-of-50 occurred.

The wagon rides (thank you, Jessica and Brandon) were a huge hit!

Alistair suggested throwing me a party months ago. At the time I wasn’t so sure me getting old needed any celebration but then the smart part of my brain kicked in.

I got thinking that if something happened to me and there was a funeral, all of the special people in my life would be invited and maybe a lot of them would attend. They would talk about me and share stories but I wouldn’t be there to share in any of that.

This way, we could still have the gathering of all the people who mean so much to me and I’d be there to enjoy it!

Some really special people in my world!

It was a celebration of life while I’m still alive to party with everyone!

And what a party…

Most people who know us know that there are ways to do things and then there are the Fyfe ways to do things. Its a ‘go big or go home’ kind of mentality and we both get a kick out of going overboard with events like this.

There was well over $2000 worth of booze and enough food to feed a small army, not to mention the killer Karaoke, ridiculous collection of leis and plethora of tiki torches that lit up the paths to the bonfire and the campers that people brought at our encouragement.

Friends from all my walks of life!

The coolest part of the party was the collection of friends and family who were able to join us. Corynn, one of my vet clinic friends had said, a couple of weeks before the party, that she was excited to meet all of the people from all aspects of my life. Well, kiddo, we nailed it!

In my veterinary world, one of my dear vet school classmates drive down from Kelowna, BC (love you, Tara and JP!) I also had Lynnie there, from the Seeley Swan Veterinary days, a bunch of my veterinary clients and a handful of my current team-mates from the clinic I work at now in Deer Lodge!

Corynn and Jessi from the Deer Lodge vet clinic!

My skating world was represented by Paige Lawrence, who I have shared ice with in Saskatchewan and Manitoba since she was a little girl. (Paige also represented Canada at the Sochi Olympics, which has been blogged about before on here.)

Paige and her hubby, Richmond (rodeo star, also been blogged about previously) bridged the skating world with my real estate world, which was represented by other realtors, office colleagues, my favorite home inspector and several clients who I’ve worked with to sell or buy homes over the past 4 years.

Carey, (realtor), Kyle (realtor), Corynn (vet girl) and Richmond (client/rodeo star)

Many of my real estate clients were just names to Alistair until the party. Or, not even names because he’s not great with names so the Elliotts were, ‘The Lot on Montana That We Sold’ or Sarah and Matt were known as ‘East Missoula’. And several of my clients joked about my fake husband, “Alistair”. (Unfortunately, ‘Salt Lake City’ weren’t able to make the gathering… they are the most suspicious about this “Alistair” guy…)

The Shelmerdines hanging out with Matt and Sarah (of ‘East Missoula’ fame)

Our neighborhood up in “the meadow” had great representation with Brandon and Jessi and their Percheron team, along with Mom, Raeann helping with the little ones. Neighbors, Cyd Kats, the Knights and Tony and Beth were here, too so a lot of us got to catch up with great conversation and great food and drink. (Neighbor-Chip couldn’t attend but he stopped by the morning of the party for a coffee and a visit).

Immediate neighbors, Tony and Beth!

Our golf world didn’t have a lot of representation but Brad, who works at our local course and Steve and Helen were there. Several of our golf crowd had already taken off for warmer temperatures and year-round golf courses by the time my party happened so we weren’t too surprised.

Golf gang reps, Helen and Steve!

I had family who mean the world to me in my Auntie Wendy and Uncle Pete. They are the closest relatives I have in my heart and they have always been eager to share in Alistair’s and my world. We often stay with them when we venture up to BC and they were our very first house guests when we moved to Montana.

Pete and Wendy came a day early and got to share in my brother-in-law’s gift to me, a pretty wicked Karaoke set up that ran through our speakers once Ian got everything organized. Alistair and Uncle Pete tried a few songs the night before and all of us laughed our butts off. To quote Ian, “I think I created a monster”.

All of the party guests loved my relatives and that was just another amazing aspect to the party!

Uncle Pete & Aunty Wendy around the bonfire after helping out with everything at the party!

Uncle Pete gave a very sweet speech in our Great Room when most of the guests were still here, before the Karaoke party really got going. I was touched he remembered so much of my zany life and honored he took the time to share his words with so many important people in my life.

Again, this is the kind of thing I wanted to be a part of and wanted to share with everyone.

Uncle Pete giving his lovely speech!
A bunch of us listening to said speech.

The die-hards among us then turned to Karaoke for the remainder of the night. Alistair and I kicked it off with our Wild Montana Skies that embodies everything about why we chose to live here so many years ago. He’s a singer and I’m a poser but I didn’t totally suck and I don’t think everyone was making it up when they said they enjoyed it.

I remember most of what happened after that.

I remember thinking Sami, Brad and Paige all can put on quite the show with a microphone in their hand. I also remember laughing my head off at Madeleine, Paige and Richmond and the group of vet gals who tried, valiantly, to do justice to Black Velvet (sorry, Sami, we tried… I don’t think we were focused…)

JP started the songs off with Paige and Tara’s help!

I remember thinking how amazing it was to have so many people, of all ages, from all sorts of backgrounds and different stages of life, from all these places around North America celebrating and singing together all in one happy, safe place.

Brad and Richmond

And I definitely remember feeling all of the love from everyone.

Most especially Alistair, who threw this ridiculously huge party-of-the-century for his little 50 year-old wife.

Mahalo, Hon!

I didn’t want to make a big deal about turning 50.

It sounds old but I certainly don’t feel old. Not that I’m sure what ‘old’ should or could feel like.

I feel lucky to have made it to 50 because I’ve got a few friends who never did.

And I feel lucky to have had the life and the stories I’ve already had because, well, its been a shit-ton of fun and the stories are awesome and the memories make me smile. I’m blessed to have so many colleagues, clients, family members and co-workers from so many varied paths I’ve walked and it doesn’t matter what their title is or how we actually met or were introduced… they are all my friends!

This party brought it all together.

Wow… what a night!

Here’s to the next 50!

2 of the stars of the party!
2 more stars of the party, with JP making it 3 stars!
One of my BFs, Christian joined us for food, drinks, singing….
Pam, Ian (brother in law) and Lynnie
Raeann representing our wonderful neighborhood!
Oh, veterinary team…. the fact the picture is blurry is pretty appropriate

Happy December!

Time For Aloha

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Jinxie 5-wood cover getting into the spirit of things!

Conference season rolled around after an extremely busy October and before we knew it we were flying through the skies to my annual veterinary dermatology conference in the islands.

Kauai called and we had to go.

First round of the trip on our first full day on Kauai at Hokuala Ocean Course.

Even though we have gone to Hawaii yearly since 2009 (save for 2020, thanks to Covid) I am still spellbound by how green everything is on Kauai. They don’t call it the Garden Isle for nothing!

Travel day was long thanks to the 4am alarm clock but the flights and layovers were great and our hotel room was ready for us a couple of hours before standard check-in time.

We once again stayed at the Royal Sonesta in Lihue, which is minutes from the airport. It used to be the Marriot and we’ve both had conferences there before.

Some of the breakfast restaurant staff at Kukui’s remembered us from our stay there in February (hi, Gina!) so that added to the sense of Ohana that we feel when we’re at some of our favorite resorts.

The fact we have real Ohana on Kauai was part of the amazing-ness of our trip.

My step-daughter, Whitney and her hubby Lau with their precious baby, Sonny (and their dogs) were a huge focus for us this trip. After that inaugural round of golf we cruised up to Kilauea to join the Estrellas in a huge community Hallowe’en party! We even brought costumes just for this!

The community showed up in droves and in great costumes (that T-Rex was hilarious) and everyone in Kilauea celebrated just like families do all over North America- with lights, treats, games and laughter. Even though he won’t remember it, 9 month-old Sonny’s first Hallowe’en was pretty great.

Estrellas and Fyfes!

My mornings of conferences began the next morning and the seminars didn’t disappoint.

I really like dermatology. If I had been a young veterinary student or even if I had been 10 years younger when I closed my veterinary clinic in Seeley Lake I likely would have pursued a derm residency. They bring top notch speakers in for this annual event and many of us return each year.

(Granted, if this conference was, say, in Chicago, many of us probably wouldn’t be there.)

Fun in the pumpkin patch!

Alistair got to work-out and then spend mornings with our little Hapa Grandbaby and his folks. Sonny is pretty tight with his mom but by the second day he wasn’t completely losing his mind when Alistair would hold him. Alistair even babysat the little guy when Whitney had to run some errands and Lau was at work.

Selfies with Grandpa!

We enjoyed golf almost every day at Hokuala, The Ocean Course, which is across the street from the Royal Sonata. We got a membership type of rate that made it less frightening than the regular sticker shock price tag of resort golf on Hawaii. The island trade winds changed it up each day and we generally played pretty well.

Generally playing pretty well above the 16th tee boxes.

Hokuala used to be Kauai Lagoons and it wasn’t in the best of shape several years ago when we played it. That has all changed since Timbers Resorts took over and finished building the dream that was the Ritz Carlton a couple of decades ago.

Alistair took this photo in 2012 at this same conference. The shell that was the attempt at a Ritz Carlton was eerie and ghost-like. I think this is now the 17th hole on the left for Timbers Resorts!

Timbers has put some coin and time into developing Hokuala and it really was a pleasure playing there every day. Part of the fun is the fact Lihue’s runway comes into play. Like, it REALLY comes into play on the first few holes of the back 9. You can smell the jet fuel and see faces as the planes land from the 10th tee boxes!

Giving a Shaka to some happy Hawaiian airline visitors as they landed off the 10th tees!

The back 9 also plays along the ocean and we were twice greeted by enormous cruise ships leaving port at Naiwiliwili Harbor. This also brings tourists to a standstill on the golf course while we’re trying to play but you can’t really blame them for wanting to take a peek!

Cruise ship #2 leaving while we were on the greens on 16.

One of our favorite parts about this veterinary conference is the annual golf tournament. Our regular playing partners, Barb and Brock weren’t here this year so we got teamed up with a super-fun couple from Oregon, Jan and Mark.

Our personalities, sense of humor and golf games were well-suited. Thankfully they have the same easy-going natures that we do because, for some reason, the normal 4 hour round turned into 6 and a half hours of golf! That’s just way too long no matter where you are but Royal Canin was buying the drinks and Jan and Mark were laughing it up with the Fyfes the entire epic round. We actually got third in the tournament, with Jan earning a long drive and long putt contest and Alistair with a closest-to-the-pin award!

The Harlans and the Fyfes enjoying a super-fun round of golf together!

Then it was more conference and more Estrella-family time!

Driving to the beach together!

Beach/ocean day was just lovely. The skies threatened to open up and Sonny was a wee bit cranky without a nap that day but it was still magical and wonderful and perfect.

Whitney and Sonny

I got to stand in the ocean again.

I’m not sure why its been so long. I’m from Vancouver, BC and the ocean is part of who I am. I love the sound of crashing waves from our lanai at night or from a beach chair in the day but I haven’t actually gone out and stood in the ocean for years.

Us, standing in the ocean on a beautiful Kauai afternoon!

Its breathtaking, to say the least. There weren’t many people around us and the waves broke in the distance so the waters were fairly warm and calm.

And I just stood there, enveloped in it all.

Just standing there…

Eventually Sonny let us all know his thoughts on the day so we wrapped up and headed back to our resort.

We spent the next day together exploring Allerton Gardens down in Poipu and, to everyone’s excited relief, Sonny held it together and everyone in our tour group was in love with him by the end of our 2 and a half hour guided walking tour.

Noshing on some yummy citrus Pomelo during our guided tour in the gardens!

One tour-guest even went up to Whitney and told her that he wanted Sonny to be a Disney character. He was in awe of her not-so-little baby!

Sonny does seem connected to the land!

Susan, our tour guide was great and the bus-drivers were hilarious and educational at the same time. Being surrounded by nature while on the Garden Isle was the perfect way to spend our last day on Kauai, together, with Ohana and a dozen of our newest friends.

The Jurassic Park type trees were cool, too!

Jurassic Park trees!

These trees were awe-inspiring and yet they felt hollow! Its hard to explain how it feels looking up at these giants while feeling so very small on this planet of ours.

Small, but significant.

Feeling a bit tiny…

Significant because its up to us to protect this incredible planet for the little guys like Sonny Makai to enjoy the rest of his life.

Significant because I learned a ton of new stuff to share with my veterinary colleagues and my clients and patients.

Significant because we got to share in watching yet another young couple navigate through being first-time parents with a child who has a mind of his own and most definitely a voice of his own!

And significant because I stood in the ocean and swirled my hands around me in the sun.

Small… but significant.

We flew the red-eye through the night and arrived into Missoula two days ago, watching 7 inches of snow accumulate all day in Seeley Lake. Then the freezing rain thrashed the house in the night and 60mph wind gusts created an ice slick of a driveway yesterday. Alistair plowed roads this afternoon in Big Red and got the snowblower fired up.

Some point yesterday afternoon…

Its November and its Montana so none of this is surprising.

And we have all of the tools and skills and equipment to keep this place humming during weather like this.

And we have memories of sunshine and old friends in Hawaii (Don, Richard, Kelly at Cafe Portofino) and new ones now, too (Swaren, Jan, and Mark).

Aloha!

We also have a sense of humor about it all, along with fantastic memories of a magical week on a lush island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Mahalo, Kauai. We’ll be back!

Kilauea Hallowe’en community party!
Ocean afternoon!
Sonny… losing his marbles but its still cute!
Clearly, one of these two boys needed his nap!
I even found a little bit of daytime lanai time one day. Aloha, friends.

The Friendliest of Summers

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Some of the cool ladies I get to hang out with at the veterinary clinic at our HalfTime in July.

I haven’t had a lot of time to blog so far this summer.

Granted, with all of my careers rocking and rolling I don’t have much time in general but these past 3 months I have been fortunate enough to get to spend quality time with a lot of really great friends.

I’m reflecting on this as I write today after 2 special friends have recently departed this world and they both have left tremendous holes in the hearts of their loved ones. One is a man, the other is a dog.

But I’ll get to that later.

Maybe.

Because, and we all know it, life is too short.

Kitties on board!

In June I dragged Jockey and Martini back to Bismarck for 2 full weeks of coaching, visiting, appointment-ing and helping hubby get his toe amputated. This was all on the heels of getting a fun listing to closing after my clients-who-became-friends flipped their adorable little log home here in Seeley Lake. This was also right after my first dinner party, which included said friends from Arkansas and it was a success!

Post-closing celebratory bevvie with Caroline and Chris!
A few days after we closed in Missoula, MT, Chris was joining us for supper in Bismarck during his own long road trip!

Getting Alistair’s Covid-toe removed was a huge priority this year and The Man hasn’t looked back. Covid-toe is a thing. Its painful and yucky and it has been a huge source of discomfort for close to 2 years so, just like that, the toe is gone.

Wasn’t intending for the hilarious visual with the TV but this was a couple of days post-op.

He hobbled around for a few days but, thankfully, he hasn’t looked back!

And we got going with some fun connections with our peeps in Bismarck.

Alistair, Morgie and me

Like supper with Morgan and Mike. Morgie is like our second daughter. We’ve known her since she and Whitney became besties in grade 2 back in Watford City. Our friendship is so natural and the laughter was as genuine as always. We also got to see their beautiful new home that they have put their hearts and souls into creating. How incredible to see young people become the grown-ups they’ve dreamed of being!

Leanna, me and Linda!

Then I got to share lunch with the lovely Schmidt ladies, Leanna and Linda. Leanna was one of the figure skating talents in my barn when I coached an elite group of skaters in Bismarck years ago. When training and competing at such a high level the coach becomes part of the family and our friendship has stayed strong all of these years. We three reminisced about our coach friend, the late Russ Salter, who died just a few years ago. Again, life is too short.

Leanna is another young woman who has worked hard to achieve her goals and she became a dedicated nurse this year! I couldn’t be more proud of her! I’m sure she saw me tear up a little bit when she told me how much our friendship meant to her, even long after she put her skates away. It goes both ways, Leanna!

Gary and Elaine Markwart and me!

Proving once again how close my skating families are to me was the fun lunch date Alistair and I shared with Gary and Elaine Markwart. Their daughter, Andrea, was my student back in the day and I haven’t seen them since her wedding back in 2018. We picked up right where we left off and shared fun stories about snowmobiling, our kids having kids, life in Montana and hot cars.

And then I was back to western Montana to try to make sense out of the calendar that was July.

It started wonderfully with some friends from Canada making the trek to Montana.

July 4th with one of my besties from the old days, Lei-Anne.

One of my oldest, bestest friends and I are very familiar with the whole, “life is too short” thing. We lost one of our closest gang from the old days to breast cancer a couple of years ago and that just sucks. I’m so thankful that Lei-Anne, Chris, Dozer and Finley drove for hours to spend a couple of days catching up on the Fyfe Farm with me.

We caught up around the kitchen table and in the living room with great food, yummy wine and the Canadian Classic that I started whipping up for Canada Day- Nanaimo Bars. Its a bit of a process to make the 3-layered dessert but the gang at the vet clinic, the real estate office crew and Alistair’s nursing staff (and Chris) all vouch that its worth it.

On my tippy-toes making the top layer

Right after my friends hit the road I buzzed into town for our Clearwater Montana Properties’ part in the town’s 4th of July parade. The storm clouds held off and Seeley Lake had the biggest parade (and attendance) its had in a long time!

Kyle, Emily and me before the parade.

A couple of weeks after that, Alistair and I attended a benefit auction for Swan Valley Connections. We were invited by one of our closest friends, Christian, who owns Holland Lake Lodge, where the event was held. I made a new friend on that beautiful afternoon when Finn got a full set of my books in the silent auction. It was fun signing them and talking with him and his mom about Finn’s aspirations as a writer, too!

Finn and me at Holland Lake Lodge!

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and I was hanging out, smiling, laughing and taking pictures with my Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic gang at our boss, Shannon’s wedding. It was a gorgeous day and my gang looked as hawt as ever.

Mindy, Jessie, Bailee, Corynn and me at the wedding
Bailee, Corynn, me, Jessie and Mindy!!!

I treasure the fact that my co-workers are a part of my tribe. We’ve shared laughter and crazy stories and we’ve shared tears and hugs together as well. They put up with my dancing (I think some of them secretly want to join in) and me saying, “Can you take my picture with this puppy?” or, “Is this okay to share on socials?” throughout the Tanya Tuesdays I work with them and I like being everyone’s big sister. It isn’t every day you actually want to hang out with the people you spend your work-days with.

Me and Corynn

Somewhere in all of this we added a furry new friend to Fyfe Life. Enter Whiskey Drambuie Fyfe, an adorable little waif who was found/fostered by one of our vet techs, Brandie. I thought Martini, the one-eyed Siamese wanted a little brother. It seemed like a great idea at first!

“You should have really thought about that before you brought him home, Mummy!”

It took at least a week for the hissing and growling to stop once Whiskey made his debut at home.

Jockey is fine with him but Martini had her issues. She doesn’t growl at him as much anymore, thankfully, and I’ve actually caught them playing together. (I’m telling myself the boxing matches are them playing…) I’m trying to tell her the value of having some great friends in your life as this is something I am really appreciating this summer.

Our hockey boys, Chris, Wilbur and Chris!

I was able to make a last-minute trip back to Bismarck early in August specifically to see longtime close friends who were facing a medical crisis of sorts. I am so thankful for our cat-sitters for caring for the barn duo. The two Jessie’s are so appreciated and I’ve been able to tell them that these last two days. Our time in Bismarck together with our friends will forever be remembered and cherished.

We made time to hang out with the hockey boys for supper in North Dakota and even convinced the two Chrises to hit golf balls with us on a very hot day out at Painted Woods. They can both hit the shit out of a golf ball. It would be equally impressive if they could hit it straight! We enjoyed ourselves so much that we’ve vowed to do it again and Volk had to agree that life is too short to not make time to have some fun on a golf course with friends.

After our fun round at Painted Woods with Volk and Reiser last month.

During that same trip we got Brad Bossort out to Painted Woods for the front 9 on another warm day. The Bossorts had us out for supper at their lovingly renovated home on the river and it was another evening of reminiscing and laughter.

Brad and us at Painted Woods after all 3 of us made par on the 8th!

We then road tripped back to Montana for back-to-back fundraiser golf tournaments. The Missoula Organization of Realtors put on another solid event this year and we got to tee it up with Scott and Darlene. We’ve golfed with them before and our games and sense of humor are all well-suited. It was a memorable, albeit hot day and we played some good golf!

MOR tournament team!

That night we were joined by Paige, Richmond and Jazz Champion before the Charlie Wolff Memorial Tournament in Seeley Lake. Jazz was completely mesmerized by little Whiskey and Whiskey even slept in the guest room with them!

Jazz and Whiskey becoming fast friends!

The golf tournament the next day was absolutely hilarious and we finally connected Richmond with Kyle Huestis. We correctly predicted their bromance and they were already hugging after 9 holes. We actually scrambled well together and put up a good score! The best part of all was the constant jabs, cheerleading and laughter.

Kyle, us, Richie and Paige!

2 days later we hosted 4 figure skater friends from Canada on their way to an adult skating camp in Salt Lake City. I grew up skating with Julie and Sarah but it was the first time meeting Nikita and Jen. Whiskey and Martini stole the show. Almost everyone went to bed after hours of visiting and kitten-cuddling but Julie and I stayed up with Alistair later and had the catch-up we truly needed after so many years apart. Social media is wonderful for seeing your friends and keeping up with their interests, relationships and lives but there is nothing like hugging a special friend from the past.

Julie and me!!!!!

I’ve seen several friends the past few weeks for a variety of reasons (including pet care) like Kerry and Mark, Susan and Gail, Sharon and Randy, Pat W, Cassy S, Kim G, and Jessica and Brandon and I’ve amazingly had time for lunch with Jessi and Lydia. I’ve also got to see Joel and Jeanette (our ferret co-parents) when we’ve broken into their house for ferret visitation!

Interestingly the ferrets were repeatedly drawn to where the toe used to be!
Andy and me!

And Alistair got to spend time this past week celebrating the life of one of the special spirits who has left us with friends and neighbors we’ve known and cared about for many, many years. And Alistair joined me in helping two friends who we love dearly say goodbye to their special canine spirit who I’ve known for years.

My heart hurts for the family members left behind because you never really get enough time with the ones you love. I have cried with them and held hands and wanted different outcomes for both Kim and Wanda and even just one more visit together would have been nice. There is so much more that should or could be said but I am going to leave it at that.

Because life is too short.

Somewhere in all of this my big brother, Danny, on the right, made Captain in the Canadian Infantry. My oldest friend!

Alistair is about 30 minutes from home and we are looking forward to a sleep-in morning tomorrow and an afternoon of golf. We are pet-sitting the lovely Jazz Champion right now and it has been incredible watching her and Whiskey expand upon their own unique friendship. (Martini is cool with Jazz. Not cuddly, but cool.)

Enjoy the irony of Labor Day and maybe start becoming okay with telling your friends you love them. I am so, so, SO fortunate to know and love so many people in my many walks of life. I am wealthy in friendships, indeed!

More golf fun with Kyle!
Making new friends at the MOR tournament with the Fidelity National Title crew and Darlene!
We’ve got to hang out with Jaima a couple of times this summer, including here at Holland Lake Lodge and also our inaugural dinner party!
Caroline cutting up the cheesecake (and getting heckled for it) at the dinner party earlier this summer!
Whiskey and Jockey- new friends.
Me and Jazz Champion!
Me and my best friend on our anniversary golf get-away to Helena. xo

“So… What Do You Do?”

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Fueling up in Circle, Montana on my way back from Bismarck a week ago

I got back to North Dakota for a full week recently and caught up on a whole mess of medical stuff, including a routine dental cleaning.

My former hygienist, Deb, has retired. I coached Deb’s daughter figure skating in Hazen, ND back in the day and it has always been so fun visiting her (even if my mouth is cranked open and all I can do is grunt my responses.)

I got to meet the new hygienist (good grief, I can’t remember her name) and she was set up by the actual dentist, who was standing in the next room. New girl started off with, “So, what do you do?”

The dentist burst out laughing and I had to join in.

I mean, really, there is no easy way to answer that!

Maggie in Bismarck

The former professional figure skater-turned veterinarian who sells real estate and writes blogs and books and newspaper columns wasn’t back in North Dakota just to have her teeth cleaned- I actually got back into full-blown coaching mode when I was there!

My first session was thrown together by word of mouth thanks to Sherry with Vision Hockey and I had 15 keen high schoolers to train for a full hour.

It was awesome!

VFW 1 arena. My old stomping grounds.

I showed up before anyone else for that first session and just enjoyed looking at the clean sheet of ice under dim lighting.

A blank canvas waiting for my edges to scribble designs all over it.

It had that “rink” smell.

And the power skating session kicked ass.

Beauties from Alistair that were waiting for me in Bismarck!

I coached 2 more sessions so that the rest of the Vision Hockey team could see what I’m all about. What and how I coach doesn’t really fit into one of their more popular formats so Sherry and I hashed out how to make this work. In the end it just makes more sense to give me the ice (and maybe a microphone) and let me do my thing.

The kids and their parents seemed to respond well and I’m enjoying being Coach again.

One of the baked potato Puglings came back to see us for boosters!

Just as much as I enjoy being Dr.Me, too.

The veterinary world is challenging and occasionally dramatic but it speaks to the science geek in me and I really enjoy the team of people I work with.

We are back to in-person clinics now so there is a lot less swearing going on in the treatment area but I can still find areas where I can dance a little if the right music is playing.

Hiking a potential new listing a couple of days ago

And this version of me remains crazy busy right now!

I closed that incredible listing I had on Glacier Creek last Monday and my good friends and their sweet dog are flying to Australia tomorrow. The new buyers just love their river-front historic log home and the other agent and I had a wonderful time on that transaction!

Closing day with Mary, Simon and Sasha last week!

It feels great to be able to help my friends with such a big deal at a pivotal time in their lives.

And I’m working on helping other good friends make their way to their closing early next month. This particular deal involved me coordinating several people over the next couple of days to make many things happen and there was potential to lose my mind a teensy bit the other day.

But the folks in my circle I was coordinating are also all friends and it truly can be amazing what you can accomplish when everyone is pleasant, friendly and fun.

And we all genuinely want everything to work out!

Scott, me and Kyle at Clearwater Montana Property’s “giving back” reception

Us Clearwater realtors had our annual “giving back” reception recently here in Seeley Lake and that’s a cool part of the Realtor-Me. We all give a small portion of every single transaction to non-profits within the area of said transaction. Its a fun evening and each non-profit has someone get up to give a small talk about what their foundation or group does and who benefits and maybe even why the group was established.

Another very cool piece of potential… stay tuned….

When I was back in Bismarck I only got to see a couple of our hockey boys one night. I didn’t really have the time to enjoy coffee or wine dates with my neighbors or other ice rink friends but I’ll be back in June and July.

It is a long haul (10-11 hours one way!) to get there but the coaching is so mentally rewarding for me right now.

And we have our Painted Woods golf course membership to make the most of!

Windy North Dakota golf!

Alistair’s ribs are healing and we made a point to hit the course a couple of times while I was there, despite the less-than-perfect weather. (Crappy weather keeps the course wide open for us.)

It turns out “the boys” who worked there last summer and who also attend my alma matter, UMary, are back along with John, the golf pro so it was just like old times when we hit the course.

Maybe that, in itself, keeps me going back to Bismarck.

What driving to Bismarck looks like.

Some familiarity amidst the craziness that is my life.

Maybe I need that more than I thought.

Maybe I need to know that Deb lives just over there and even though we didn’t hang out we sure could have.

And that the ice rink is still the same ice rink with the same old red and white clock.

While Bismarck has grown exponentially over the years its still Bismarck.

Its still the prairies with the wide open skies and storm clouds you can watch coming for a few hours.

The gang

The ponies are all there (down to 7 now!) and they always come up to their Mummy for scritches, no matter how long it has been since I’ve been there.

Maggie and Fumie are going to a new home in Montana soon to see if their well-bred uteruses can be useful for a good friend and her farm so it will soon just be the geldings. Hopefully we’ll drag a couple of them back to the ranch in Montana to graze so I’ll have them around all of the time for a few months.

Fumie and Maggie (and Frankie at the fence).

So, this.

All of this.

This is what I do.

I try to keep pets alive and healthy while being their voice and advocate because they can’t speak to the humans who care for them while writing educational articles for 4 newspapers and fitting in coaching little kids to grown adults how to utilize and develop their bodies and muscles in ways to maximize the power and strength they can get out of the most important piece of hockey equipment they have in their skates all while getting out on the ice myself to maintain and hone my own skills (and also because I freaking enjoy gliding on the ice with the wind in my hair, lets not pretend otherwise) along with holding the hands of my buyers and sellers while hoping they truly listen to me and let me guide them in often one of the most important decisions they’ll ever make in life on top of being a pet Mummy and a wife and a friend and a neighbor.

On the floor at the office the other day. New Docs!

After our laughter died down in the dentist’s office I gave the new hygienist, whose name still eludes me, a thumbnail sketch of all of that.

No need to overwhelm her.

I don’t do all the things by myself, too. I absolutely have to acknowledge my friends who let me coordinate the next couple of days along with many colleagues and the other veterinarians and team members and specialists I refer to and Sherry and people at the title company and the buyers and sellers and golf course workers and my bosses on top of my husband and my many patient friends.

You all rock.

What driving back to Seeley Lake, Montana looks like.

While Alistair is back in Bismarck hitting up Painted Woods I’m heading off to our Seeley Lake Double Arrow gold course myself right now. Coping mechanisms and all that, remember?

Its one of the ways I can #beallthethings, even if the new dental gal doesn’t know it.

That other potential new listing that I can’t talk about just yet….
We heard ‘strumming’ the other day… apparently Martini likes guitars!
Zeus and Frankie, our gentle giants.
Thanks to Tiffany 1 for the color and ‘do the other day in Bismarck!

Priorities and Perspectives

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Watching the Zamboni head into its final turn my first day back on the ice…

I did it!

I got back on the ice!

I drove my ass to Missoula and laced up the Vapors and, while it felt kind of weird for the first half-hour, things slowly started to come back to me.

I went with the hockey skates first….

I’m not sure why I started out in the Vapors versus the WIFAs…. I might have been better in my figure skates initially but I’m slowly getting my on-ice groove back.

It has been freeing for me. I need this in my life right now. To feel the wind on my face as my hair blows back behind me while feeling comfortable enough to move my body to the music surrounded by a few strangers is an amazing sensation- probably one that only performance artists/athletes can relate to. And I’m not doing any jumps or spins yet… just skating, with edge control, body control and some fun arm moves and footwork.

I broke out the figure skates this day!

The Coach in me has already seeped out, too. On my first day I watched a hockey coach working with 2 high school hockey players on mohawks. It was kind of painful but I ignored it until after 45 minutes I stopped and asked, “may I?” (#hockeyboysnextgen)

Since then, Jennifer gets regular tips as a new adult figure skater on Mondays and I met Sarah last Monday, too. Carly asks about coaching power and figure skating whenever I see her and Greg is just about the most flattering fan when he tells me how much joy he feels watching me skate.

Coaching is my first language and I have needed this right now.

March 30th, 2022.

This is one reason I need to hear my edges rip into the frozen medium beneath them.

Alistair almost killed himself on March 30th in Bismarck, just a couple of miles from home as he headed into work on his own frozen ground.

Arnold, our 3/4 ton, was (clearly) totaled. Air bags and the seatbelt saved Alistair and its just a damned good thing nobody was in the passenger seat.

((shudder))

6 broken ribs, a small subdural hematoma and a lower limb laceration later, the man is alive and back in Montana.

Things to see when in Montana this time of year!

I was anticipating big changes before the wreck because Alistair had planned to go on long-term disability April 1st.

3 bouts (if not more) of Covid and its long-hauler symptoms on top of chronic spine and rib pain (before he busted 6 of them) and a worsening intention tremor have made work in the Walk-In clinic close to impossible. It was already absolutely the right time for him to take a break from the front lines where he has been beaten-up mentally and physically for years now. He’s not that far off from retirement and I fully support him taking this time off.

It doesn’t mean I’m not worried about myself, though.

Maurice and me… The Pentaverate are back at their other home again.

(Full disclosure: this is ridiculously selfish but its my blog and I’ll whine if I want to.)

I’ve never been a very good room-mate and I know this about myself.

I’m a teensy bit OCD, I don’t like clutter, and mouth noises annoy me.

I also like quiet time to myself, sipping wine late at night watching old Anthony Bourdain or Stanley Tucci shows, loud music and writing in my journal- telling it all the feels I’m feeling. I developed this type of self care when I was living with other families growing up as a teenager and also when I lived in Japan. The music evolved from REM and Suzanne Vega to Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran now and it was Kahlua and cream overseas (which *may* have contributed to some extra pounds back then) versus yummy merlots but the journal entries are as honest as ever.

We have spent most of our marriage as a part-time couple and I’ve adapted my world over the years to make that work.

And it works really well!

Oh, Ivan! I miss these guys!

It has allowed me to #beallthethings at the high level I expect of myself and I appreciate that a lot of readers will be saying, “what a bitch!” right now. (These concerns were there before the dreaded wreck… those who were with me at the vet clinic the day of the accident know how extremely messed-up I was that day and the days after that…)

I’m okay with people thinking I’m horrible to be sharing this.

I’m still a good wife/partner and I never said I’m not going to try hard to be a better room mate.

I still have so many things going on that are big enough distractions right now that maybe this won’t be a concern.

Like last week… I skated on Monday in Missoula and was the veterinarian in Deer Lodge on Tuesday.

I’m a sucker for Springer Spaniels!

I stayed late to work on potential pill-ingesting patients but I still left for home before Dr.Chelsea scrubbed out of the cow surgery and into the dog’s abdomen.

Wednesday it was real estate work in the morning and the local elementary school in the afternoon for those super-fun talks that got postponed from the end of March.

The 5th/6th grade talk!

I had soooo much fun sharing my writing dreams, the writing process, the books themselves and all-things-Tanya with the students and teachers.

The kids had great questions about everything from cat care and ferret husbandry to which of my books’ characters are my favorites and why.

Talking with the 7th/8th graders

These days were preceded by 3 super fun days in Bozeman for my real estate company’s annual “Revival”. I’m working so much real estate right now that it felt completely right for me to remove myself from the other careers and hang with my Clearwater Montana Properties and FATCO peeps!

Awesome supper/drinks with Raleigh, Ty, Kyle and Heidi.

I reconnected with a lot of friends (Rachelle, Jeanette, Mark, Ty, Wayne, John, Nick) and got to know some amazing new friends (Ludo, Jim, Tina, Raleigh, Sharon, Richard, Jamie and more.)

I reminded myself that while I strive to #beallthethings, there are things I don’t focus on.

Like bowling.

Clearly.

(I’m not sure the rest of the team actually wanted to admit I was on their team… not a joke)

I was even TRYING to bowl and I wasn’t drinking! I’ve talked about the horrors of my bowling game with Adrian, another professional figure skater who I lived with for years. Apparently she suffers from Gutter-Queen status as well.

There. I’ve said it and I’m glad.

I have a couple of wonky teeth and I suck at bowling.

I’m good at cuddling dogs. And dogs don’t care if I can bowl, right?

I also sucked at Poker at the final night banquet when they lowered the lights but I’m willing to work on that one (I’m willing to work on bowling because I did laugh my ass off but where do I find the time?)

Scott and Darlene… ready for some poker!
New friend, Jim from Wyoming. We talked Masters Golf all weekend (thank goodness someone was on board with me) and then he took all of my remaining poker chips. I shall never forgive him.

Revival provided continuing education (great key note speaker), some interesting break-out sessions (interesting title info on cannibis… although there weren’t any hand-outs as many of us were hoping for), lots of bevvies, a black eye, great food, team bonding, handshakes and hugs and encouragement and support to and from so many of us moving millions of dollars right now.

(There was also a wife having a baby in Missoula which necessitated Kyle skipping Saturday night’s banquet).

Saturday night banquet

And there was Alistair.

Alive.

Returning to Montana for the banquet and awards ceremony.

Sore after driving 8 hours with 6 broken ribs? You bet.

Frustrated that he brought the wrong pants and had to stick with jeans that night? Absolutely.

Happy to be back with straight-haired wifey in a cute sparkly dress? Most definitely.

Panzur and Andy back at the Roesner’s. (Roesner’s photo)

Blogging is another coping mechanism of mine where I can ‘write it out’. I can admit that I know I sound pissy and whiny and self-centered.

Especially when I know there are people facing much, much bigger things in their lives.

Like my young friend in Deer Lodge who has to be very brave in a court house tomorrow to tell a tale about a very bad man who has said and done very bad things to her. I was a part of triggering this very bad man but that is a story for only my journal.

One-eyed Siamese kitten in full-on lounge mode

Or my other friends who are facing cancer and dealing with all of the questions and uncertainties involved with that while working hard and living their lives.

My woes don’t compare.

And my woes are going to be fine because I’m me and, well, skating and one-eyed kittens and fat barn cats and visits with ferrets and clinic puppies and happy real estate clients… (I got Glacier Creek under contract since I last wrote! Woot woot!)

I’ll figure this path out one day at a time and one step at a time.

Hope its okay if I bring you along for the ride!

Best. Waiter. Ever. in Bozeman… this guy was hilarious and, wow, the way he described his favorite dishes on the new menu… everyone at the table needed a smoke afterwards!!!!
Poker instigators, Ty and Jeff…. this game piques my interest…
Barry and me when The Pentaverate were here!
Clinic kitty, Cobalt and a hefty shot of caffeine are more welcome coping mechanisms in my life.

I Need Another Me

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Cutie Patootie Boston Terrier at career #2 the other day!

I’ve done this before.

Where I allow all of my careers to ramp up all at the same time with a cheese-eating grin on my face.

The grin sometimes fades at night when I’ve had a glass of wine and I’m trying to figure out how I’m supposed to #beallthethings. Even that… the hashtag, #beallthethings… I think I use it more to encourage myself more than anyone else.

Stunning new listing of mine at 782 Glacier Creek Rd up in Condon! Swan River is gorgeous here!

Real estate got real for me a couple of weeks ago with 2 closings happening a week apart and another transaction threatening to fall apart/blow up/explode/implode one moment while moving along nicely the next. Moving forward required communication skills and patience. Usually I’m good to go with communicating and patience but this particular deal went far above what I am comfortable with.

In the end, it looks like things have settled and both sides of the deal are happy and we are hopefully moving forward to closing. With one more listing under contract and then that absolutely gorgeous listing from that last picture.

It really is a recreational paradise. I enjoyed writing the description for the mls listing. I mean, I am a writer, right? I could allow myself to use the badass descriptive words I wanted to and they aren’t misleading or exaggerating.

1920 log home, completely re-done inside- its gorgeous!

I even became a Sports Afield Trophy Properties agent in order to list this baby with the groups they align themselves with. Its a neat gig and it means this listing gets seen by a ton more people than those who are expressly looking to buy a home.

Puglings!!!!

All while driving back & forth to Deer Lodge every Tuesday and every second Friday to be Dr.Me.

Did I mention the ferrets are back?

Fallon Roesner… strikes a pretty pose every time the cameras are out!

The Fyfe Bee Gees and their besties, Fallon and Ivan Roesner are all back in Fyfe Life. We finally bought a Critter Nation crate for more room for them, too. Old Quebec is still there and the bunch of them climb in and out of that when they’re playing around.

Its great having them home again. No matter what, ferrets make you laugh.

Its how they are built (no spine, seemingly), how they move (goofy AF), how they sleep (intertwined), how they interact with each other (rough-housing and pure love) and with the other spirits in the house… all of it is generally quite funny if not downright hysterical.

Barry and Ivan

Ivan has developed a penchant for this big ceramic vase-like thing in our kitchen. When they’ve been out for a few hours and its time to go to bed I can reliably find him in there. The rest are either in their new Fyfedom (see what I did just there?) or the golf bag so they are easy to round up.

And did I mention Jazz Champion is back, too?

Jazz is fascinated by the ferrets!

The way my routine works hasn’t allowed for Jazz to play with the ferrets outside of the Fyfedom. Not yet anyhow. We still haven’t let little Martini interact with the weasels just because there are a lot of ‘what if’s’ but I think Jazz and The Business would be good. The 5 of them beat up on their young German Shepard when they’re at the Rosener house so a Bernerdoodle would be pretty easy, right?

I do think they would all be fine but with my careers requiring so much of me right now (my own fault, nobody to blame but me) I don’t want to mess with the routines.

“What are these things????” (Ferret faces are SO stinking cute!!!)

I am excited to put career #3 in action when I go to Seeley Lake Elementary on the 31st to give talks to the 5th and 6th graders first, then the 7th and 8th graders about my books! These talks are always fun and they generate great discussions. Not all of the kids will have read my books but part of the talk is about how I always wanted to write back when I was their age and how I got the process going finally back in 2013.

I’m really happy that friends and former veterinary clients of mine reached out and asked me to do this. I enjoy giving young people different ideas about who or what they can become when they get older. Even if that means they might turn out like me, with a bunch of career paths. (I’m still not 100% sure what I want to be when I grow up…)

Martini’s Mummy… that I’m 100% sure of!

And while everything is ramping up I’m honestly toying with a leap back into career #1. Seriously!

‘Cause I’m just not busy enough!

I have missed coaching and the freedom of gliding across a frozen, smooth surface for a long time now and there is opportunity for me to get back to it. (Public session in hockey skates at Glacier Ice Rink is happening tomorrow afternoon… hopefully I can still walk the next day!)

Skating is my first language. I’m fluent.

I can walk you through the mechanics of an axel even if you’ve never skated before. That doesn’t mean you can DO the axel (especially not in skates) but I converse (gush?) effusively when I’m talking about (and coaching) power skating or figure skating.

Some of my hockey boys.

I blame these guys, particularly the one on the far right, Chris Reiser. Our hockey boys (I affectionately call them mine) from Hazen were so supportive and encouraging when we visited them for a great meal and drinks in Bismarck last November. We all joked about having me coach power skating to their kids and, well, you never know. I’ll just say that Chris made some connections and I’m busting out my Vapors tomorrow afternoon.

I’ll probably have to bust out some Ibuprofen afterwards, too, but its worth it!

I’m living by my calendars right now and you all know I thrive on being busy like this. I sometimes have to pause and think about who someone is when I see them, and where I know them from.

“Is this a pet parent?”

“Did this family love my books?”

“Was I your skating coach one time?”

“Did these folks maybe buy a house I had listed?”

Alistair got in on the ferret action with Andy and Ivan before going back to Bismarck.

Like I say, I create this chaos and I can handle it because I have my coping mechanisms.

Things might change in that regard very soon (more on that later) but those changes will have to make other (big) changes in real estate, vetting, coaching and writing as well as real life and it all may or may not make some sort of sense for me and I may or may not have to redefine my life and my ways of handling working big jobs at a high level.

I’m not joking when I say I’m a teensy bit afraid of the future partly because there are elements out of my control.

And I don’t like that.

Jockey and Martini…. 2 of my coping mechanisms!

It occurs to me that today is the first day of Spring. More changes.

Mother Nature handles it really well despite the rain, the mud, the slick roads, the mess, the brown everything.

The uncertainty.

I need to take a page from her book, don’t I?

“If Mother Nature can handle change AND put on a show then I can, too! Right, Andy?”

There are many big things to be excited about and to look forward to as well throughout this next phase of my life.

I shall continue to book my world with my varying careers and try to continue to do all of them at the level I expect out of myself. The animal spirits surrounding me right now are awesome and hilarious and cuddly, too. I also feel a wealth of support from friends and family and coworkers and clients and the list goes on.

Here’s to controlled chaos. And Happy Spring!

Happening now… Martini gets closer and closer…
Busted out some old Dr.Martens the other day… shoes, Sparkle Pens, bathing suits… new obsessions are old coping mechanisms
Jazz and Aunty Tanya out for walkies!

2022 Olympics… WTH?

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BEIJING, CHINA – FEBRUARY 04: A large Olympic ring logo is seen inside the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on February 04, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

Well now…

I’m in one of those moods where I feel like I have so much to say while not knowing what to say.

The Olympic figure skating events finished yesterday on the highest of highs and I could not be happier. My predictions from a couple of weeks ago came true with the Chinese darlings of Wenjing Sui and Cong Han expertly and breathtakingly winning the coveted gold medal.

I won’t lie. I had legit tears in my eyes watching them fly across the ice. They are diminutive in size alone as their fire and skills are enormous. With the pressure of both being from the host country and also from being the silver medalists 4 years ago they ran with this event, winning both the short and long programs over the last 2 days.

From 2010 Skate America, photo by David Carmichael

Sui and Han teamed up in 2007 and the skating world has watched them grow up in front of our eyes. As teenagers at times he seemed put off by his tiny little partner’s brazen comments but now there seems to be an absolute love connection between them. I don’t even know if they are romantically involved but they remind me of their coach, Hongbo Zhao, when he skated with his now-wife, Shen Xue. Those 2 revolutionized figure skating in China and made it one of the top pairs producers in the world!

(Incidentally, Sui and Han teamed up together in 2007, inspired by Xue and Zhao!) (Also incidentally, Shen and Zhao got married at the Capital Indoor Stadium where the skating took place.)

BEIJING, CHINA – FEBRUARY 18: Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of Team China skate during the Pair Skating Short Program on day fourteen of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 18, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Wang Xianmin/CHINASPORTS/VCG via Getty Images)

I’m also tickled that Tarasova and Morozov won the silver. I would have been ok if they won gold because these 2 have battled this out for years and finally put down routines they can be so proud of.

Tarasova and Morozov at the last Olympics, finishing just off the podium (not my photo)

It really was an exceptional long program last night for most of the skaters. The Americans skated well (Ashley and Tim didn’t have their best night but holy smokes, Alexa and Brandon sure did!!!!) (One has to wonder how Alexa’s hubby, Chris, who used to be her partner and had to stay home this event, feels about how *close* his wife and their former competitor are becoming… especially after such a kick-ass long program!)

There is always some sort of drama surrounding the world of figure skating (“is he or isn’t he?” “are they or aren’t they?”) but nothing has come close to the drama surrounding the ladies event this time around in Beijing.

Kamila Valieva, last season (not my photo)

I am concerned about the mental health of most of the Russian contingent in this discipline.

Where to start?

15 year-old Kamila Valieva, favored to win the event, tested positive (in December) for a banned heart medication (which increases endurance.)

*****

NOW WHAT????

Russian Fed banned her from competing, then they reversed that, then the IOC wanted her booted from the event only to have the Court for Sport Arbitration say she could compete. Their thoughts were that not letting her compete would be bad for her mental health at such a young age.

Um….

I think its “bad for her mental health” that she will someday mature and realize that her skating is not what made her a household name this Olympics and that scandal will follow her the rest of her life!

Fame and infamy are intertwined in this young woman’s life and I feel every ounce of pity I have for her.

Valieva… better times earlier this season (photo from International Figure Skating magazine)

She was one of the skaters who was a complete mess after her long program last week because even though she tried the jumps, they weren’t there. Her country gave her a HUGE welcome-home, cheering audience when she returned to Russia (ahead of the closing ceremonies) so that’s going to be confusing, too.

Cheers for what?

Getting busted for taking banned meds (that she may not even have known she was taking), which the rest of your Russian team-mates and the US and Japan got penalized for because nobody got to receive their medals for the Team Event, then for being allowed to skate when the fricking International Olympic Committee and pretty much every athlete on the planet publicly wanted you out of the event, and then for screwing up bad enough you didn’t make the podium?

Yeah, lets celebrate that!!!

Lets celebrate a cute, one-eyed kitten who thinks she should be in an empty fish tank instead!!!

I am trying to forget the image of the spoiled Alexandria Trusova, who won the silver medal, bawling and wailing because, again, she won the silver medal.

The Olympic silver medal.

I didn’t make it to Canadian Nationals, let alone the Olympics. I would be blowing kisses and elbow-bumping every single person I know for a full month if I even made the Olympics let alone the podium. Lets not forget that Trusova doesn’t even try to be artistic. She has a bunch of quads that she methodically skates into and out of and then does another. Her spins suck. Her footwork sucks. Her outfit sucked. And yet… the silver medal because she amasses all these points for the jumps (with her arms above her head here and there because the routine isn’t ugly enough.)

I can legit hug the clinic kitty, Tabasco at least!

Thankfully all is right with most of the figure skating world in that Nathan Chen became a global superstar in winning the men’s event and the French ice dancers, Papadakis and Cizeron finally…. finally won their Olympic gold medal.

And I loved watching all of the sports like I always do with the Olympics. There is something so attractive about every athlete who trains their butts off for their entire lives and they make it to this highest of stages. Maybe I didn’t *love* the ladies long program but I watched everyone they showed on TV and cheered the clean athletes on.

I’ll leave it at that because I don’t know what else to say despite having so much to say.

As an aside, my world of real estate is continuing its weird uptick. I also plowed snow again tonight despite the melt we’ve had and the high temps. We are in the middle of a winter storm warning with blowing winds so if I have any hope of plowing out tomorrow I had to pre-plow tonight.

Cheers, 2022 Olympics, even if it will be remembered for the wrong things in ladies figure skating there was still a lot that went right.

Sui and Han en route to their OGM in their exquisite long program! (not my picture) (and, OMG, I just sounded like Dick Button with the word, ‘exquisite’!)
Realtor reality yesterday- I was off to show one of my cool listings!
Next blog. Our trip to Hawaii to meet the first grandbaby, Sonny Makai Estrella. He totally deserves his own spotlight in his own blog!!!!

Olympic Predictions!!!

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Olympic figure skating is upon us! (Not my photo)

Its the Olympics!

Its the Olympics!

They’re here! And they’re happening! Granted, they’re happening in a bubble and there won’t be spectators and that’s weird but its the Olympics!!!!!

Dreaming of competing on this elite stage is what motivated me day in and day out as a competitive figure skater and the fantasy and thrill of it all still gives me shivers.

My good friend, Ravi Walia and his student, Katelyn Osmond when she won the bronze medal in PyeongChang!

While I am intimately involved in figure skating and I am personally invested in some of the top coaches right now, I love watching all of the Olympic sports. Skiing, bobsledding, snowboarding, luge… I don’t care. Its all freaking awesome.

I find myself curious about the individual athletes at this high level of sport. I think most elite athletes are somehow attracted to one another because we get what it takes to work so hard for most of your life to be at the top of your game and we respect athleticism.

But we’ll stick with figure skating and I’ll toss some names out there as who I think might kick some Olympic ass starting next weekend!

The Olympic medals for Beijing 2022 are unveiled! (Photo from International Figure Skating magazine, Feb.2022 edition)

There isn’t anyone around who would be surprised if Russia takes all three medals in the women’s event this time around. That country has a knack for pumping out talented wunderkids each and every year. Granted, they win that Olympic gold and then you never hear from them again (at least not outside of Russia, until they ((maybe)) make it as a coach for that country) but its still an incredible machine how they produce these skaters.

Sometimes they are artistic but right now they are mostly athletic. With the IJS points-system instead of the old-school 6.0 system, if you bang out a bunch of fully-rotated quads and triples and you put your hands up above your head while you’re in the air, then you can rack up the points and be the winner. Even if you are as artistic as a rock.

Or you flop your hand over at the wrist, which just drives me nuts.

Kamila Valieva from Russia. (Photo from IFS magazine)

Kamila Valieva is the Russian to beat right now. She’s got quads and a triple axel and both of those are rarely seen in the North American or Asian skaters. Again- its all about the points.

You can’t rule out her country mates, Alexandra Trusova (she does a quad Lutz and quad flip) but Anna Scherbakova might pull it off, too. These two are 17 years old compared to Valieva, who is 15. Not sure where any of them are on the puberty bus but Russians can get the jumps out of these tiny bodies.

Yes, these ladies have to skate well and ice is slippery so you never know. Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi and Kaori Sakamoto might make waves. I don’t think Americans Karen Chen, Miriah Bell or Alysa Liu have the same chances but Liu does whip out her own triple axel from time to time. She’s changed coaches twice already this season and gone through a huge growth spurt but I like her tenacity – maybe she could threaten the podium. I also really like little-known Loena Hedrickx from Belgium (coached by her brother… I think that’s cool.)

Alysa Liu in 2020, en route to her first National title (not my photo)

Onto the men…

This should truly be a contest between Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Nathan Chen of the US. I love them both. Yuzuru moves like melted butter across the ice. His mastery of his blades is rivalled by none. He’s quirky and ballsy, too, and he’s gunning for a third Olympic gold medal. That, alone, demands my respect.

Hanyu is playing with a quadruple axel (unheard of!) and he tried several at his national championships in Japan. He is short on rotation by about a quarter of a turn but he often stays standing, albeit on two feet, which should still garner some points.

Nathan Chen busting it out in one of his signature Vera Want tunics a couple of seasons ago. (not my photo)

Nathan is a quad king, himself and I love his musicality. He has gone back to his 2020 long program set to a bunch of Elton John tunes and if he’s on his game the best part is when Benny and the Jets kicks in… by that point all of the jumps are done (and hopefully landed) and he really shows us who Nathan Chen is. Its one of my all-time favorite programs and I was tickled to see it when he won his most recent national title.

The men’s event isn’t as much of a lock as the ladies’, though. Others to pay attention to: Boyang Jin (China), Shoma Uno (Japan), Keegan Messing (Canada), Vincent Zhou (US), Yuma Kagiyama (Japan) and maybe-maybe-maybe Mikhail Kolyada (Russia).

Pairs podium in PyeongChang… the silver medalists are the only ones coming back as the same team… (not my photo)

China’s tiny Wenjing Sui and Cong Han are definitely favorites for the gold. They narrowly lost the gold 4 years ago and they are hungry seasoned veterans. The world has watched these two grow up and mature into a pretty cool couple who have a mutual love and respect for each other. I want them to be a couple in real life but I honestly don’t know if they are.

Pairs and ice dance are funny that way. Part of the magic is imagining if they are as “in love” as their routine depicts. I think every couple falls in love with each other at one point or another, even if its just for a week or even if its unrequited at the time. You’re training intensely, you’re wearing spandex, and you have your hands all over each other. It just happens.

Heartbreak for Tarasova and Marozov in 2018 when they finished off the podium. They’re back…. (not my photo)

While Russian teams of Anastasia Mishina & Aleksander Galliamov and Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitri Kozlovskii are probably the favorites based on their mad skills and speed (and their results on the Grand Prix this past fall), my sentimental favorites from Russia are Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov. I love their look and the fact they’re still kicking out great routines. They are very classical in how they skate and they have the skills and experience to challenge (although side by side jumps tend to haunt them.)

Canada’s new team of Eric Radford (he’s on the bronze podium finish with Meghan Duhamel in that earlier picture from 2018) and Vanessa James (formerly of France) are kind of fascinating in that they’ve made the Olympics and I am rooting for them but Japan’s Rika Miura & Ryuichi Kihara, who train in Canada could be a global surprise as well.

Jockey & Martini this morning together, listening to me talk about all of these great skaters!

Finally, on to the ice dance competition. This is where the United States really shines and we have two teams absolutely in contention with Madison Chock & Evan Bates and Madisson Hubbell & Zach Donohue. While Chock & Bates have grown on me over the years I still think she is way too over-the-top with her expressions. Yeah, I know its ice dance and isn’t that the whole point, you’re asking, but you can have too much of a good thing.

Canada brings Piper Gilles & Paul Poirer, who are the reigning World bronze medalists from 2021 and I have enjoyed watching these two become amazing artists and performers over the years.

I mention these couples but, come on, the gold belongs to France’s Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron. There might be media buzz about them because Guillaume came out this past year and some judge made some stupid comment about it. The only buzz about them should be that they are supremely talented athletes who deserve to stand on the top of the podium (if they skate well, of course!)

Russia has ice dancers, (of course they do!), as well, including Victoria Sinitsina & Nickolai Katsalapov. It would shock nobody to see these lovelies on the podium as well.

Piper & Gilles from Canada this fall on the Grand Prix. I freaking love these outfits! (photo from IFS magazine)

So that’s my scoop for this year’s Olympic predictions!

I have my favorites and my national allegiances and I have my back ground stories for some of the skaters that affect my judgement- (Bates dumped his previous partner, Emily Samuelson, years ago after she patiently stuck around for him to heal after knee surgery for months… clearly I’m still not over it!)

I hope all of the athletes have the performances of their dreams and make Olympic memories that will last for years. I hope they know so many of us will be watching on TV because nobody can be there in person and I hope the ice isn’t slippery in a bad way!

Here’s to Olympic Glory!

An older, more mature Tarasova & Morozov (photo from IFS magainze)
Martini likes helping me when I’m at the computer.
Made an appearance as straight-haired-Tanya the other night! On with the Olympics!

Snowmageddon 2022

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Big Red… my bestie this time of year!

I know I live in Western Montana at elevation and I know every year I write about the snow. Some years (2017-18) are terrible and have led to insurance claims/woes/headaches but most years are just snowy. A bunch of snow falls, we all move it from here to there and then the sun comes out and the sky turns blue and everyone goes snowmobiling. We put that on repeat and that’s how we do it in Seeley Lake!

Can’t remember which plow trip this was on which day…

And everyone knows that the majority of the snow seems to fall when Alistair is in Bismarck and I’m up here at the big house with a few cheeky pets. You are all well aware that our 1996 one ton Dodge Ram, Big Red saves my ass each and every winter when he fires up and lets me clear our road.

We are the last house on a long driveway so I need to be the one behind the wheel if I’m going to have a road to the rest of the world.

The truck and blade aren’t giant, though, so I do run into limitations as to how far I can shove the snow and how high the berms along the sides of the road can get.

Early last week… berms weren’t very high at this point. D’embe joined me on my walk!

We do have a large tractor with a very large snow-blower and when Alistair is here he climbs in and tosses the berms way off to the side somewhere, making the roadways and paths so much wider and easier to plow again.

And every now and then I get a 2- or 3-day stretch where he isn’t here and the snow just doesn’t stop falling.

I just got through that.

Snow fell for a solid 3 days and then it blew around a teensy bit yesterday.

I’ve wizened up a little bit this year… (yesterday afternoon)

By that point yesterday I had hired Tim and Daniel to remove the large amount of heavy snow from our roof and they spent a few hours hacking away at it. They are due any minute this afternoon to tackle the back of the house.

Its a big house, mostly on one level so the large roof takes a bit of work.

We learned our lesson with that roof, as it was the major chunk of the change our insurance company had to shell out when we needed a whole new one.

We’d rather avoid that at all costs.

I think this was day 1 during the morning plowing session… where are the berms?

This 3-day blizzard was difficult at times during the day because life was basically one big, scary white-out. You often can’t see the side berms at all so its relatively easy to drive or slide off the road.

I made a point to set my alarm clock for zero-dark-thirty so I could get up and plow with headlights illuminating the path and I also plowed early into the darkening evenings.

Good morning, Sexy Beast! (The second day.)

The snow that fell was pretty wet (it actually rained at points at lower elevations nearby) so while its heavy, I can actually sometimes end up tossing it over the sides of the berms I’ve created if I have the balls to go at it aggressively enough.

I chose to do that on the second morning and I was successful! A little worried about ditching myself but I was successful.

(Cheering me on from the cd player, Keali’i Reichel was singing some awesome-sounding Hawaiian song that I just kept on repeat.)

After the first day. Occasionally the snow would pause.

And I share pictures about all of this on social medial largely to let Alistair and my friends and family know that I’m okay. Many of them are dealing with their own snow loads so I don’t think for a second that they are actually worrying about me but… you know… just in case.

I am a 5’3″ little person with a penchant for sparkly things and the color pink. I enjoy playing with makeup, dancing, and red wine and I’m probably still more comfortable in glittery spandex than I am in my snow suit and huge boots. My figure skating crowd were horrified enough when I went to veterinary school. They likely can’t fathom me behind the wheel of a truck I have to free fall a little to get out of with a stick shift on the floor and a huge beast of a blade on the front.

After the second round on the third day

And yet…

So, here I am once again sharing the wintery tales of life on the Fyfe Farm when Mother Nature shakes the snow globe that is our meadow in the middle of nowhere in Western Montana.

Alistair is on the road as I type today so even if we get more snow he can fire up Victor (the tractor) and the snow-blower.

And hopefully Tim and Daniel will arrive at some point to take the heavy weight off of our new, mega-thousand dollar roof.

Boys on the roof after my plow job yesterday

And while I’ve been living in my plow truck and I haven’t gone anywhere and I have been getting up early and I’m also doing some shoveling outside I have also totally enjoyed this weekend because not only is it the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, which is played at Kapalua (we were just there in October!!!!), it was also the Canadian and US National figure skating championships with Olympic berths on the line!

Tanya = happy!!!!!

Watching these events we’ve recorded with a one-eyed kitten, an older red-headed Siamese and some tasty wine felt like a very special reward each night, tailored specifically for me and my hard work.

John Rahm and Cameron Smith are duking it out at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Maui. (Martini finds it stimulating, apparently…)

I’ll limit commentary on the skating to the fact that the US has some incredible talent coming up in the Men’s department once Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou eventually dry their blades for the last time (although Nathan’s short program… I mean, come ON! Quad lutz combo after the halfway point in a short?????) Don’t forget the name, Ilia Malinin. Quad-quad combos? He IS a Quad God!

Happy Winter Wonderland from the Fyfe Farm!

The barn kitties are waiting to help my snow removal team today (they climbed up the ladder to get there!)
Probably not driving Big Silver anywhere for a few days…
My favorite sports on TV are rewarding me this weekend!
Don’t do it, Martini….
She is fitting in just fine!

Martini Uno Omni iCat Winkle Fyfe

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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!