The Unfortunate Three-Peat (or, How Ike Unbecame A Fyfe)

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Ike, while he was still a Fyfe

There was potential for this to be a tremendously heart-breaking blog.

Instead, its just a sad blog in lots of ways.

Because Ike isn’t a Fyfe anymore and even though Hims is the goodest boy ever he has one of the most terrible vices a dog can have.

Ike ate another large rock and it got stuck again.

Couch cuddles last weekend.

See, back in February when Alistair and I decided to take a chance on this love-bug we told each other that it was a one-chance type of deal. He had eaten a rock that got stuck back in December and his previous owners were still paying that surgery off. Ike is young (2 years now), kind, and nicely trained so we went for the surgery to remove the second stuck rock after hours (thank-you, again, Dr.Sami and Cody) and a few days later Ike came home.

To Fyfe Life.

Ike’s first day on the Montana Fyfe Farm a couple of months ago!

I mean, you have to be smart about these things. A young dog who is a repeat offender for chasing cats or barking at the UPS truck is one thing. Generally you can try to change these behaviors. Retrievers, in particular, are very trainable because they truly want to please you when you are upset about something. (Unlike, say, a Jack Russel Terrier who might clearly recognize that you’re mad but they don’t really give a hoot as to why.)

But rock eating, not unlike fence-jumping if you live on a busy road, tends to have life-threatening consequences. A one-time situation isn’t a deal breaker in my head (unless you honestly can’t afford the surgery and, hey, this is a no-judgement zone on that one.)

And the two-time situation back in February was questionable for sure.

Ike’s previous owners knew there was a chance for a three-peat and elected euthanasia unless we could re-home him with someone willing to pay for the second surgery.

Tuesday morning walkies with Mummy.

We just wanted to give the cute little fella another chance.

And boy, did we have fun!

Hims got to travel to the ND Fyfe Farm and bond with Alistair and even our neighbors for 3 weeks and they travelled back here where he got to bond with his new canine bestie, Jazz Champion for 3 weeks.

They ran, they leapt, they smashed into each other, they played, they found body parts in the forest, they got treats, they cuddled on the couch, they rolled in the snow and they cuddled with Richmond & Paige Champion when they spent the night before taking Jazzie back home to her world in Stevensville.

Champion family portrait!

That was Saturday night.

I already had worries in my head at that point because I saw a rock in Ike’s poops the day before (yes, I know whose poop is whose… Jazzie’s poops are dinosaur-sized!)

When you’re a veterinarian you look at your pet’s poops. When you’re a veterinarian who adopted a rock-eater, you do so with even more scrutiny.

The rock wasn’t hidden or anything, either. It was a decent size and I had it in my head to be on the worry for Ike.

Who didn’t poop on our walk Saturday evening.

Or Sunday morning.

Or Sunday evening.

Bedtime snuggle buddy after Jazz Champion had gone home.

Or Monday morning, for that matter and while we do have a forest behind our home and he often runs around in there while I’m walking the driveway, usually he did his ‘thing’ close to the road. But I had the worry and the concern in my head so it was no real shocker to me when he vomited his mostly undigested kibble Monday afternoon.

And he vomited a couple more times through that night, too.

Alistair was in ND but he was aware of everything every day and we kept reminding ourselves what we had agreed upon back in February.

I’ll add that I spent a great deal of time crying Monday and Tuesday but you probably knew that already.

Ike, Monday evening. A little subdued.

I could have taken care of things on my own at the farm here but, I’ll be honest, after recently doing that with Sport and Bebe the mere thought of it almost made me ill to my stomach. Alistair didn’t want me to do that, either so when Ike was pretty subdued and glued to my side on Tuesday morning’s walkies we decided to go for some confirmation.

I called my Internal Med vet friend in Missoula and asked about taking some x-rays. His technician on the phone was all cheerful and friendly until I explained that if there was a rock the appointment would then be a euthanasia.

I had some more snuggles with our lovely boy and then we loaded up and drove the hour to Missoula together.

Where my Internal Med vet friend and I took x-rays that revealed what I already knew to be true.

*sigh*

Yeah.

That big radio-opaque honker is the rock.

My Internal Med vet friend and I discussed the why’s of canine rock-eaters and neither of us had an answer. He agreed that three lodged rocks in five months’ time was too many and the final decision should be made. I told him I hadn’t brought my own drugs so, barely getting the words out, I half-sobbingly asked him if I could use his supplies to put Ike down.

Which is when he told me that his technician had already said she would want to save the dog after she and I had talked on the phone earlier.

And she called her husband (like I had done in February) and they chose to pursue the surgery to remove the rock and then take Ike home to their house (like we had done in February.)

I mean, that’s great, right?

Fantastic, even!

Ike & Alistair in ND in March

Ike was getting a third chance to prove he knows how to stop eating rocks!

But I worry that we just passed the buck here.

My Internal Med vet friend and I both explained to the technician (who I don’t even know, to be honest- I had never met her before that day) how these types of repeat offenders tend to have a habit of breaking human hearts. I tried to make it very clear that this was NOT a money issue because she seemed a teensy bit judgey and made a comment about “not being able” to pursue the surgery.

I’m not slagging her at all.

She and her family saved Ike.

And the very next day when I was vetting in Deer Lodge I got email confirmation that the rock is out and Hims was recovering nicely. I will connect with them this coming week to get them his microchip information and briefly touch base one more time.

My Deer Lodge vet day was perfectly messed up on Wednesday so it was a terrific distraction. Only Dr.Sami knew the situation because, frankly, I would have lost it if I had shared what went down with our staff who all loved what had transpired back in February.

*sigh*

Last Wednesday we were ridiculously short-staffed but we still had a wonderful team. We all pulled together and helped each other and what could easily have turned into a massive shit-storm turned into a pretty cool day. Our packed parking lot up front was a clear contrast to the almost empty staff parking lot out back and there was every opportunity to feel overwhelmed but we chose to focus on being the best versions of ourselves that we could be.

And all of our clients were very understanding and appreciative.

And the sun was shining all day and it felt good to go out and talk with people about their pets.

And the Universe rewarded me afterwards with puppies.

Because, you know… puppies.

I do think the Universe sometimes gives me these things when I am faced with terrifyingly sad or frightening things that I absolutely have to do.

Like sending Sport and Bebe over the Rainbow Bridge on one day together earlier this month.

HRH Sporto Fyfe

And like bringing Ike in for conformational radiographs and being ready to do the really difficult thing but then choosing to let someone else give him another chance.

Maybe the Universe is saying, “hey, Fyfe, you frigging tried, alright? No more you can do here. In the meantime, here’s some puppies.”

Big, fuzzy, tubby Newfoundland puppies.

16 of them, to be precise.

Yeah, that’s not an exaggeration, either. My technician and each I carried a small bear cub of a puppy into and then out of the clinic where we would then march back to the puppy-strewn Suburban and trade off for 2 more fuzzballs.

8 times we did this.

(I know the folks in the red pickup truck were jealous!)

PUPPIES!

And I was telling a realtor friend of mine about Ike and then the crazy vet day on Friday and sharing how everything went down when out of the blue, in marched a client with his brand new Harlequin Great Dane puppy I had a huge part in arranging for him. He had just picked him up in Deer Lodge and the dog is so stinking cute and my client is so stinking happy.

I turned to my realtor friend and said, “See? Puppies!”

Tuesday after I confirmed that we were going to Missoula.

So all is good, albeit sad without Ike in the house.

I guess we were just meant to be Ike’s foster family.

I’ll hike with the barn kitties (who aren’t complaining, by the way… in their words if they want to choose to climb a tree they’d like to choose that on their own, not with a black dog chasing them up!) down the driveway or we’ll hike without any animal for awhile now.

While we were able to save sweet Ike for ourselves, we couldn’t save him from himself.

Maybe his new folks can.

xo

Clinic cat, Cobalt in Deer Lodge, always up for loves
A favorite memory!
Perfect spot to just sit with my latte & my thoughts Thursday morning during a home inspection for my seller.
One final ride in the truck with Hims. xo

Beginnings

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Trying to be Spring up in western Montana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They seem the absolute best of friends!

Walks out back with Dad/Uncle Alistair

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

“I’m an excellent driver, Mummy!”

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

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

Or protecting me.

Either way.

It has been good for me.

D’embe and Professor Higgins a couple of mornings ago

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

Clearly, they aren’t starving.

Clearly.

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

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

Exactly where Sport used to lay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Realtor’s helper!

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

https://www.independentpressaward.com/2021distinguishedfavorites

No prize money.

No guarantee of fame & fortune.

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

This baby gets a third sticker soon!

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

And I feel loved.

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

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

All the feels!!!!!!

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

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

I’m still going to wear my jacket.

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

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

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Bebe and Sport curled up in my legs in 2019

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

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

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

And, no surprise, I’m already crying.

Sporto, December 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HRH Sporto, 2014

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

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

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

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

Fritzie and Sporto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So… Friday morning…

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

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

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

For me as much as for him.

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

Mummy and Sporto, 2014

He sedated peacefully but quickly, too.

And then the final injection.

And that was it.

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

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

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

With Hawaiian music still playing in the background.

Baby Bebe back in Bismarck, 2004

The Angel of Darkness was in fine form that morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until now.

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

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

xo

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

5 Qs & 1 A: Tanya Fyfe

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A fun re-blog from a great friend!

All That's Write

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

View original post 1,479 more words

Friends and Strangers and Where I Fit

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Straight-haired Tanya has made a few recent appearances again! (Thanks, Tiffany2!)

My head and my heart have been called to action several times over the past couple of weeks as my careers are once again colliding at a fast pace. I can not complain- the highs are super high right now in my book and real estate worlds and its pretty fun.

Even my veterinary world continues to be fun when I get to play in Deer Lodge with my new gang but there have been a few heavies that were centered around a 5-day period. And the heavies weren’t Fyfe heavies. Not yet, anyhow. Dr. Me and Mummy Me need to have a talk about little Bebe, our dwindling 18 year old kitty and I kind of thought it might be today but she scarfed down the plethora of Greenies she demanded from me this morning and I’m just not up for it. Of course I would if she was suffering but its more that I’m not convinced she is loving life right now.

Alas…

I went back to working the floor at our local real estate office this month and right off the bat I got a listing. Its not out there yet but its going to kick ass when we go live next month.

I’m just saying…

I had listed a cool log home in Seeley Lake when I wrote my last blog 2 weeks ago but then more friends from my veterinary world asked me to list their UBER cool off-grid house and it is being shown this afternoon already.

And its not as off-grid as some places- this one is only 10 minutes from the highway. Sure, you have to maintain about 2 miles of road but if you get yourself a reliable buddy like Big Red its not a big deal. The 14+ acre property borders US forest service on 2 sides (meaning you have the freaking forest to yourself!) and the house has some pretty outstanding views.

Pretty. Outstanding. Views. (From the deck)

It was a gorgeous day and I followed my friends up to this incredible property and I found myself repeating over & over again how I could totally live there. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, jacuzzi tub, pool table, nice bar…. all it needs is a hot tub for Fyfe Life but that’s easy enough to do.

I enjoy working with my clients (especially on days like the listing appointment day!) and taking pictures of the properties. Granted, the land itself shows better without snow on the ground but those snow-capped peaks of the Swan Range… breathtaking!

Front of the house with that incredible Swan range again.

I’m only sad because I don’t envision this particular listing hanging around for very long so I won’t get to show it too often. This is a good thing for my sellers, though and right now we are all excited to have a listing or 2 because the inventory in Western Montana is extremely low.

People call the office wanting 20 to 40 acres, a stream or lake, level building site or a log home already on the place and even IF they have the coin for something like that we just don’t have the listings! I don’t even have anything shitty to sell right now. I mean, usually there are a couple of fixer-uppers at bottom prices but even those don’t exist.

Without homes to sell we are moving more raw land listings than I’ve seen since I started this career 3 years ago. On my floor day yesterday a fun couple came in trying to find listings in town so I was able to give them a map and answer some questions and send them on their way. They were thrilled to see our ‘Open’ sign shining brightly in our window.

Morning supplies for me yesterday- Sparkle Pens, latte and magazines. Note the empty racks on the wall….

They came back and actually sat down and we got visiting about their needs and, lo & behold, we actually have a new subdivision in town that fits the bill. We got more maps and sheets printed off and away they went to check out ‘Alpine Trails’ just on the north end of Seeley Lake.

When they got back they were excited to have me write up an offer for them and I’m happy to say as of this morning we are under contract! (Granted, my boss is the listing agent and he had to counter with the correct address of the lot because my head is full right now and you’ll understand more as you keep reading but boss-man is very kind and it was a quick fix and I’m hoping he was smiling when he saw my goof… ’cause, you know, addresses are sort of important in real estate… ) (Hey, I had the correct legal description so I wasn’t completely off-base…)

Me on the floor yesterday morning. Who knew I’d have another transaction by the end of the day?

So, yeah, the highs are high in my real estate career.

And my book career, too!

I’ve submitted my recent book, The Runaways of Missing Lake, for a couple of awards contests and it won one a month after being published and now it just won a Book Excellence Award for Young Adult Fiction, too!

I’m pretty stoked! This award comes with stickers (of course it does) but also some marketing info and tools that I have yet to take advantage of other than downloading this baby:

(They had banners and social media-specific JPGs and things to download, too. So I did!)

And I shared this to social media and Facebook’s post is still blowing up. Its exciting and its fun and I cherish the support from all of my friends and family around the world who are on this little adventure with me. I mean, its weird announcing these things because I sometimes feel like I’m bragging and I am not a boastful person by nature but like my friend, Tessa wrote, “if you don’t how else are we going to know what amazing accomplishments you’re making.”

Plus I am proud of my books and the work I put into them. When I began writing after first closing my clinic in 2013 I honestly had no clue if I could finish writing a book. Alistair, Lynn, Dona and Gary were the only people who knew and they were sworn to secrecy in case the final project sucked.

So, again, more waves of happiness that carry me high into the air and keep a smile on my face.

From back in February at Clark Fork Veterinary clinic

But Dr. Tanya Fyfe had some emotional lows these past 2 weeks that had nothing to do with being in Deer Lodge. I haven’t worked there since the 16th and I’m not due back until the 31st, which, maybe was all by design so that I could be in the right places at the right times for a few good people.

One neighbor actually reached out when I was in Deer Lodge for assistance… Angel of Darkness type of stuff for their senior rabbit. We set it up for the next day when I would be back in Seeley Lake.

It was a beautiful, warm afternoon, too, so we were able to sedate the little bun (whose hindlimbs had stopped working the day prior) on the tailgate of my pickup and my friend and I shared a bit of a breakdown because she told me, as I had expected, that the little bun was one of the last tangible, real things that belonged to her son.

The son whose gun accidentally went off a few years ago and ended his life.

It was a sunny, poignant Wednesday and eventually we did chuckle a bit because she told me that his “asshole cat is still around.”

Picture of 20 year old Sport who is helping me write (and keep my shit together right now.)

A few days later another neighbor up here called to check scheduling/organizing/planning because it was suddenly Time for their 10 year old Bernese Mountain Dog to transition as well.

As before, the timing couldn’t have worked out better.

So on the Sunday, while the young adult son who was this dog’s Human since they both were just young pups and his fiancé crouched in the snow together as the Angel of Darkness gave her injections and cried alongside every family member there.

I told his mom that if I stopped doing “this” (pointing to the tears streaming down my cheeks), then I would have to stop doing “this” (gesticulating towards the young couple and their dear, special companion who had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.) I have to be able to let the sadness out because it has a danger of building up inside every veterinarian who does these appointments. For friends. And strangers.

Believe me when I tell you I’m not all smiles at the moment.

And then… (yes, there IS a then…) the very next day I was required to assist a senior miniature Dachshund whose dad and I hadn’t met but we had talked on the phone for the 2 weeks prior planning for when it would be Time. Turned out that Monday was Time.

It was another nice day for a drive to his little cabin by the mighty Blackfoot River and he and 2 of his best friends were there and they told me about the adventures, road trips and hikes the little dog had been on. He had lived a life most of us would envy and it was peaceful and lovely even if it was the hardest thing that man probably ever had to do in his life when he let me give my final injection.

One of his friends burst into, ‘Amazing Grace’ and I’m still torn by how hauntingly beautiful it was even though it ripped me up inside even more. Who knew watching 3 complete strangers weep over the loss of 20 pounds of cute dog would make the former sparkly figure skater from Canada who never owned a single pet until she was in her 20s weep alongside these kind souls who all laid together cradling their canine buddy’s body in front of his favorite wood stove?

Angel of Darkness

But those days and those moments are not about me.

They are about having the knowledge, skill set, and the privilege to allow families to pick and choose the time and place where a spirit can have their last moments surrounded by those we choose to have around us. How amazing when we can do it in their own homes or yards!

Amazing Grace.

Indeed.

So while those past moments were not about me, Dr. Me and Mummy Me might have to be chatting soon but I’m not going there by myself today.

Ike in Bismarck. In MY chair.

Ike and Alistair will be back next weekend.

And I have Deer Lodge with my friends and likely a bunch of strangers on Wednesday to look forward to.

And my books are rocking amongst friends and strangers.

And I have real estate happenings happening that are great- especially when I get to help out my friends and also help out strangers!

And I’m happy it was me who was able to assist friends and strangers in giving their beloved, special friends one final act of kindness and compassion.

And whether its a stranger reading my book or buying land or I’m helping strangers with that sad, sad event, in these careers we really all become friends in the end.

Hm.

Maybe there is something more that connects my varied career paths after all.

Game room from behind the bar in my new off-grid listing at 5074 Beaver Creek, Condon!!!!
View from behind the bar!
Ike trying his best to sit still in Bismarck
Most of the Alistair & Ike shots from ND are blurry but they still make me smile
Thanks, Linda N for the picture of her collection that she (my friend) shared with her friends.

Hims is a Very Good Boy

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Ike Fyfe, surveying his new kingdom

Remember that thing we did a week and a half ago?

The whole bringing-a-new-dog-into-the-house-again thing?

Turns out its going well. Ike hasn’t eaten a cat or a ferret (he doesn’t get to play with the ferrets but he sure is curious) and despite two indoor piddles on tiled floor we still love him.

His worst crime is when he stands on either of Alistair’s Covid toes which remain swollen, tender and red and are finally being recognized by the CDC as a ‘long hauler’ symptom. But Ike doesn’t know that (although he does sniff those particular toes from time to time.)

“Hims just wants to say hi to the little creature, Mum!”

Once his new dad took his E-collar off he’s never needed it back on. He hasn’t once tried to lick or scratch at the staples and everyone is just happier without him slamming into things/us or tearing the collar apart.

Learning new routines and trying to placate stressed-out senior cats wasn’t my only occupation last week. I also took a big new listing on a super cool log home here in town and I’m hoping to grab another equally cool one this coming week. All with 2 trips to Deer Lodge to be a veterinarian one day and to start getting vaccinated for Covid19 yesterday!

SUPES excited right after the vaccine!

Our clinic owner asked who wanted to get the vaccine ball rolling and they set it up for yesterday at a grocery store pharmacy. Sure, it meant another 3 hours on the road and a day away from Alistair but we both were totally pumped that veterinarians and their teams are now able to do this.

Because this is science. And this is part of the solution. Wearing my mask and social distancing are also parts of the solution so lets keep on keeping on with those things, too!

I stayed at home a ton last year. For me. For you. For your grandma. For your kid who has asthma. For your dad who is battling cancer. And even though I’m one dose in on the Moderna vaccine schedule I’m still going to stay home when I can and avoid large gatherings if possible while wearing a mask and standing away from you.

CFVC team members getting their dose yesterday! Go, team!!!!!

And I didn’t miss out on one more day with the hubs because we got discussing my upcoming week (Deer Lodge clinic, checking out the potential new listing, celebrating a new real estate office’s opening in Hamilton and a floor day at the office,) and the fact he was going back to ND today to cover this week for a colleague anyhow and we decided that life would be easier on everyone if he took Ike with him to Bismarck a day early.

Our outdoor kennel in Bismarck is all concrete so we don’t have to worry about Ike eating rocks when Alistair is at work and this will also give our aging cats a little break from the monster who (very rarely)barked at them.

(I’m not stupid. I know Ike and Alistair are enjoying their little ‘bromance’ right now, too.)

“Hims is going on an adventure with Dad!”

The boys headed east in Big Silver a couple of hours before I took off in Tabtha for Deer Lodge on a beautiful blue-sky morning yesterday and Alistair kept me updated with pictures texted from various spots along the long road.

And I updated my friends from the vet clinic as we were waiting out our mandatory 15 minutes post-vaccine because they all cared for Ike when he yelped and whined at them for 3 days after his surgery.

This was outside of Sims, Mt. “Hims just went through Sims! Hims is so FUNNY!”

Ike did very well on his leash and didn’t tear apart the truck if Alistair had to use a rest area himself. Ike travelled like a seasoned pro (maybe he drove around with his former folks a lot?) and never whined or barked. Thankfully he didn’t puke, either, because car sickness in pets can be a very real thing.

(If your dog gets car sick, talk to your vet. There is a great drug called Cerenia created just for this!)

Before or after Jordan, MT

Eventually they made it to our ND home and Ike got to explore a little before they came inside to call Mummy to let me know everything was great.

And apparently Ike woke Alistair up at the crack of dawn for piddles and poops this morning.

They cleaned out the dog kennel and Alistair picked up the plethora of golf balls he’d been chipping and pitching into the snow this winter at Fyfe’s Backyard Driving Range because who knows what Ike would do with golf balls!

(“Hims isn’t going to eat golf balls, Mummy!”)

“Nice digs but Hims prefers the inside of the house.”

Alistair even left Ike in the kennel today when he went into town for groceries. When he came home, our New New Neighbor’s wife (they are NOTHING like New Neighbor for those of you who have followed the blog) came over because she thought a dog might be caught somewhere thanks to all of the yelping and crying that was happening at our house.

“What? Hims was worried Dad had left forever!”

We assured her that Ike was fine albeit a tad melodramatic when left alone. NNN’s wife is a very sweet person who offered to come over and walk Ike if he was screaming bloody blue murder again when Alistair has to work. They recently lost their senior canine best friend so maybe there will be some healing involved. You’d think that would be “full circle” enough for this blog, which often touches on how things tend to fall into place the way they should but she also mentioned the white and orange cat they’ve been feeding in their barn.

Whitey!

Whitey in Bismarck, 2019 (through the front door)

Alistair has fed Whitey, the stray, for years but over the past couple of months he hasn’t been a daily regular. We had talked about it and both hoped, of course, that he had found a new benefactor but we also worried he’d been injured or worse. Even if neither of us has ever been able to touch the little guy there is a loving familiarity to our relationship and, hey, he did leave a dead rat for Alistair one time on the driveway!

So there’s some happy-squishy-good-feeling-karma-like-yumminess-and-sunshine for your hearts.

And our hearts.

And NNN’s wife’s heart.

“Hims is happy. This is Hims’ chair now.”

And Ike’s heart because that’s where this latest adventure and frolic through Fyfe Life began a week and a half ago and so many of you have told me how Ike’s story and near-euthanasia-experience touched you and made you smile.

Or maybe it made you cry a little.

I still get little tears from time to time.

Like when I was watching Big Silver drive down the slushy driveway yesterday morning even though I don’t tear up as much when Alistair leaves because its been 14 years that we’ve been doing this but sometimes the goodbye is just a bit more difficult for me knowing I’ll be alone up here rambling around our big house with a trio of kitties and a trio of trouble for 3 weeks instead of 2 and even though I’ll be busy driving and vetting and real estate-ing and even though the Players Cup has been more than interesting today and even though the wine bar is full and Stanley Tucci is exploring Italy for me tonight there are times out in the middle of nowhere in the last house on a long road next to the large forest I do admit to feeling a teensy bit sad.

Off they went!

Those moments don’t last long, though.

I can usually find something funny or ironic about any given situation I create for myself and before long I’m laughing at something the ferrets are doing or while watching Jockey seriously try to wipe out our fish tank populations. And soon after that Alistair will text me another Ike picture or someone will text me about a listing or I’ll look outside and see how very, very lucky I am to live where I live.

And to share it with the equine, feline and weasel companions as well as anyone who takes the time to read these blogs.

I hope Alistair and Ike continue enjoying their great adventure in Bismarck and I hope I can make it to my hair appointment on the 24th without taking a jiffy marker to my greys and I hope my friends have great success at their new office in Hamilton!

(Hopefully NN isn’t still reading my blogs like he did many years ago before they moved and left our farm equipment to us…)

“Hims is curious about the giant hot water bath!”
Somewhere by Lewistown, I believe
“Hims is a very good boy!!!!”
SO happy!!!
Remember that log home I just listed? The deck is fabulous!
My boys in ND!

Love, Again (or, How Ike Became a Fyfe)

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Mummy and Ike

I know most of you will be saying, “Told you so,” when I tell you that we caved and that the Fyfes once again are proud canine pet parents.

A lot of you probably wondered why it took so long but we lost Loki, UB and Cleo in short fashion after the 3 of them followed me around for a couple of years together and Cleo’s farewell in December of 2019 left a pretty big hole that we weren’t sure we were ever going to try to fill.

Young Cleopatra many years ago

Its not as if either of us said, “Hey, I miss having a dog around,” or we were cruising animal shelter websites looking for a dog. None of the 5 dogs we had were purchases- Casey and Harry came from vet school, Cleo and UB were both strays and Loki moved in with us when her mom’s living situation changed.

The new-dog-in-our-life story happening now is a different version of a dog finding us through veterinary channels and its just one of those things about being a vet.

With a very good husband.

During the decision making process…

“Ike” had an emergency appointment at Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic in Deer Lodge where I work a few days each month when I was working last Wednesday. He saw Dr.Sami as a repeat offender for swallowing rocks that are too big to pass through his GI tract. He was already a bit febrile and hadn’t eaten in a few days and was definitely not feeling well.

You would think that after having crazy Casey in our lives for so long that the thought of an almost 2-year-old black lab at the farm would be frightening but I found myself engaged in the conversations between Sami and her technician, Cody. In fact, the whole clinic was involved because that’s how it goes down at a clinic where communication is a huge part of why we are such a great team.

The problem: Ike’s parents (an older couple) were still paying off the bill from the last rock-removal surgery from a few months ago. The thought of paying out close to 2 grand (its very real, people… emergencies are expensive) again when there was a good chance he’d eat another rock because whatever their situation is, it didn’t get changed the first time… well, it was bleak. They thought about it and talked with family for a couple of heartbreaking hours but eventually, tearfully, they made the painful decision to euthanize Ike.

Meeting Ike

Let me back up a bit to earlier that day when I first showed up at the clinic after a beautiful sunrise morning cruise through the snow-capped mountains of western Montana.

When I first looked through my appointments I saw that I had one euthanasia scheduled for 2pm.

For a Boston Terrier cross.

My mind immediately went to sweet UB whose lungs were surprisingly full of cancer at his sweet young age a few years ago. UB was supposed to still be here with us now and I texted hubby back in ND what was in store for the Angel of Darkness. I could read it in his own words how sad he felt for me.

When my awesome technician, Jaycee and I sedated that kind soul that afternoon I laid with him and told him not to worry because UB would be waiting for him to show him around. I made sure my tears didn’t fall onto his face but they did stream down my cheeks and I think that’s the first time I let the staff there see my vulnerabilities. (Not that I’ve held anything in… I just hadn’t been in that position since starting there.)

UB Fyfe. Photo by Merielle Kazakoff (MMK Photography)

So, perhaps I was a bit emotionally charged to hear about Ike and his parent’s awful dillema.

I mean, I get it.

Dogs who eat rocks repeatedly make for extremely expensive pets and its not like the surgery is an easy one! There is great risk involved and there are all sorts of things that can go wrong and lets not forget about the after-care.

So the clinic was abuzz with the news and Sami and her veterinary technician were holding off as long as they could while a few of us texted whoever we could as quickly as we could.

I texted Alistair, who was at home after working all morning.

“Do we want a young black lab?”

UB and Loki Fyfe at the Dog Days of Summer a long time ago!

Everyone else had run out of options so I was acutely aware that everyone in the clinic was whispering, “She’s texting with Alistair, we don’t know yet.” I watched the drug lock-box get opened and dosages for the sedative being punched out on the computer. I wondered how crazy I was to even think of paying for another surgery on a repeat offender and if Alistair would agree to that assessment of my mental health.

Minutes passed and everyone was wrapping up the end of the day and I couldn’t take it anymore so I called our Bismarck home and Alistair answered. After a bit of explaining he said, “Well, of course. I mean, we have to do something, right?”

Awesome Dr.Sami and CVT Cody

And so… getting close to 6pm I helped Cody pre-medicate Ike and as I drove into Deer Lodge to get them Subway sandwiches (it was the least I could do for them staying extra late to operate on our dog) they started to prep the young black lab for his second surgery. (I asked Sami to put a zipper in him when she closed but she declined. Something about liability…)

Yay, Team!

I stayed as long as I could knowing there was nothing I could do other than crack jokes and tell stories but I wanted them to be focused so I hit the road back to Seeley Lake knowing Sami would text me that night with updates.

Surgery went very well. Nothing had ruptured and rocks were removed. (Testicles were also removed as per our request/rule… you know, ‘Donate your reproductive organs at the door and get along’… that rule for moving onto Fyfe’s Farm for Wayward Pets and Unwed Mothers.)

*sigh*

And Ike recovered in the clinic for a few days and I got lots of updates and apparently Ike yipped loudly or whimpered unless he was outside of the crate sitting next to someone and he drove them all nuts because its kind of a shrill bark that I could hear over the phone but he needed to be crated with the IV in his forearm and the staples in his abdomen but you explain that to a young lab and I am sure the staff rolled their eyes but everyone was still happy because we didn’t have to do the deed to this little guy and he was coming to a great new home and that kind of thing is huge at a close-knit veterinary clinic in a profession where we continue to die by suicide at alarming rates and they all knew that Ike would stop shouting at them on Saturday when his new parents would come and get him and take him home.

Meeting his new dad yesterday morning at the clinic.

I rode in the back of our big silver Ram with Ike and he slept most of the way with just a couple of little whimpers. He is, of course, still on pain meds and antibiotics and small feedings several times a day of a canned prescription food that is gentle on the GI tract.

And he is fitting in just fine despite a few hiccups last night trying to figure out how or where he could sleep with that E-collar on. He fits in a bunch of our crates just fine but the collar makes it difficult for him to move. He spent last night in my surgical kennel down in the barn with D’embe and Professor Higgins but we’ll keep him in with us most likely tonight.

You see, his dad got up at 6 am and took him out and removed the E-collar and kept him on a leash until we realized Ike wasn’t leaving our sides.

Welcome home, Ike Fyfe!

To say Ike has bonded with us is a bit of an understatement. He is laying next to me right now and when Alistair left to go to the dump a little while ago he whimpered and just stared at the door before resigning himself to a no-Alistair situation and coming to sit next to me as I type.

Happening now.

He hasn’t chased the cats despite not having been around cats in his life. He seems curious about them and Jockey is the only one who hissed at him a couple of times. Even then, Jockey is on the couch behind me right now so Ike can’t be all that bad.

We have walked outside a couple of times up and down the slushy driveway and Ike sticks close by to either of us. He hasn’t once made any move towards his staples and with his collar off he is able to do so many more things. Make no bones about it, though- if he is not in our eyesight the collar is back on. Veterinarians mean it when we say the E-collar is integral to the success of the surgery and the life of your pet!

This was the first E-collar last night. Glad I thought ahead to bring a second one home!

Ike isn’t easy on those plastic collars and the collars or cones are hard on our shins and our furniture but we will still put the second one back on when we go out to the hot tub. And Ike is still restricted in his activity so that his GI tract and abdomen can heal properly, too. Even though the new collar took a beating through the night in a steel crate.

Oh, dear.

I think I was in the right place at the right time for both the Fyfe household and clearly for young Ike. I have felt that way when we’ve made the choice to bring a new companion into our world for one reason or another over all these years. I had called Alistair back in 2004 with a similar situation Harry was facing and we were able to change the scheduled euthanasia to a neuter and within hours a groggy husky was en route back to his new home in a charcoal Ram with his new Mummy.

And maybe Ike will go back and forth with Alistair when he travels to Bismarck. Both of our outdoor kennels are concrete so there will be no rock-eating when we are at work. The rest of the time he will be under our watchful eyes.

Looking ahead!

And maybe… just maybe… Spirit of UB had a hand in everything that went down on Wednesday because of everything that went down on Wednesday. Maybe Spirit of Casey thought we needed another crack at a black lab who is already better trained than he ever was, even though we never faulted Casey for his faults. Maybe they all figured the Fyfe Farm wasn’t right without a dog. I don’t know.

Right now we are learning a new routine with a new soul in the family. The Fyfe Bee Gees are having a sleepover party with Ivan, Fallon and Joel & Jeanette so we can focus on making sure Ike fits in and we can give him the time he needs to recover from his surgery. We are thankful to them and Dr.Sami and Cody for staying late to save Ike’s life and to the staff at CFVC for enduring the shrill barking.

So far, so good.

You know I’ll keep you all posted. xo

Chillaxin, helping me make breakfast this morning.
Welcome home, little buddy!
Ike and Alistair this afternoon.

Where Have All the Skaters Gone?

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Nathan Chen of the US with last year’s iconic long program (not my picture)

I read an article this morning shared by my good friend, Barb, about the lack of interest in figure skating in the US these days. The article was written by Sarah Lawrence on http://www.vox.com and its well researched and thought out.

Its also sad.

I grew up figure skating in the 70s and 80s in Canada. Almost everyone skated as a kid in Canada, even if it was just to end up being a better hockey player.

I wanted to be like Katarina Witt or Debi Thomas or Caryn Kadavy. Back then many women didn’t attempt triple lutzes and, hey, when Tonya Harding went for her triple axels that was thought to be the peak of athleticism for women figure skaters!

Javier Fernandez of Spain a couple of years ago. He has since retired. (not my photo)

Men’s skating was dominated by Canada’s Brian Orser and his American rival, Brian Boitano. Who else can remember the whole family getting together to watch the Calgary Olympics men’s long program, famously dubbed the Battle of the Brians? (Boitano won with a bit of a garish program and Orser made a boo boo to claim silver and continue the curse of the Canadian men.)

Even that “curse” is a media term that fans of figure skating were aware of. Orser, Kurt Browing, Elvis Stoiko, Patrick Chan… all world champs carrying the weight of the mighty maple leaf on their shoulders entering an Olympic championship they were expected to win only to let the gold medal slip out from beneath their butts as they crashed to the ice. The look on Kurt’s face after his short program where he wiped out on a triple axel showed us all back home in our living rooms how much he felt like he let his entire country down.

Kurt Browning, pretty sure this was post wipe-out. Not my picture.

Moms, dads, grandparents and kids all knew the Who’s Who of figure skating because it was, at one time, the most popular televised Olympic sport. We didn’t just know the North American skaters, either, although before the Internet they were the ones we were most exposed to. Torvill and Dean of Great Britain were enormously popular ice dancers world-wide and who didn’t know about sexy Katarina Witt and her weirdly familiar coach, Jutta Muller? Russian pairs skaters dominated global podiums for decades until a couple of Canadian upstarts, Sale and Pelletier turned the skating world upside down in Salt Lake City.

And we all watched and collectively held our breath as Browning crashed to the ice entering a spin and Bryce Davison’s foot slashed his pretty little partner, Jessica Dube’s face on a side by side spin or when Patrice Lauzan dropped his wife, Marie-France Dubreil at the end of their routine and when Barbara Fusar-Poli looked like she wanted to rip the face off of her partner, Maurizio Margaglio- the stare down that lasted MINUTES- or that awful fall Bourne & Krantz had at the end of their Olympic long program or Carolina Kostner’s impression of a zamboni during a few televised routines that were absolute train wrecks and so difficult to watch yet impossible to turn off.

Caro took the skating world back a few years ago when she once again landed on a world podium (not my picture.)

Not only do we remember those catastrophes, we also remember watching Sale & Pelletier knock Love Story out of the park. We all sighed and smiled when Browning slowed to a stop and carefully, meaningfully paused to pull out a smoke in his Casablanca routine. We remember the incredible transformation of China’s Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo as their choreographer, Lori Nichol taught them to look at one another and connect while they skated.

Audiences around the world knew which pairs couples were real life couples and which ones weren’t and everyone loved it when they found out Sergio Grinkov loved feisty little Ekaterina Gordeeva. Then we all mourned years later when we heard on TV that while training for Stars on Ice, he had lifted his then-wife into the air, put her back down and promptly died from a heart attack.

Sasha Cohen gave Kwan a run for her money for a few years! (not my photo)

Sadly, there was drama to be had off-ice for some skaters and they were famous for that as well. Russia’s Okasana Baiul and American, Nicole Bobek both got themselves into some hot water for their off ice activities before (thankfully) turning both of their lives back around. And, please, let’s not spend any time at all on the whole Nancy-Tonya thing or Tonya Harding’s upbringing… although, the ladies short program at Lillehammer was a huge television spectacle thanks to the backstage antics of Harding’s husband and his moronic buddy.

Joannie Rochette, Vancouver Olympics (not my picture)

And, well. Watching Canada’s Joannie Rochette compete her short program in her home country for her last Olympics just days after her mother died in Vancouver… not sure there is anything left to be said about that.

Figure skating has always been known for its dramatic flair but that was a huge part of the attraction! Not only did skaters provide beauty and artistry with athleticism, but they also gave us heroes and villians and rivalries like no other sport (Sumners vs Witt; Thomas vs Witt; G&G vs Dmitriev and whoever he was partnered with that year; Lipinski vs Kwan; Cohen vs Kwan; Orser vs Boitano; Virtue & Moir vs Davis & White!)

Why has that all changed now? Why are skating clubs not drawing the numbers like they used to in North America and why doesn’t everyone I talk to know who Katelyn Osmond is? It shouldn’t matter that I live in the States now. World and Olympic competitors and/or champions used to be household names even if they didn’t stand on the top step of the podium (Phillipe Candeloro for the win there!)

Heck, we knew most of their coaches and how the coaches behaved (Tamara Moskvina… “I look them in the eyes and I hypnotize them.”) (Trust me. Its a thing.)

This is who Katelyn Osmond is… world champion!!!!! (not my picture)

It isn’t just the pandemic although I suspect that hasn’t helped. The 2020 World Championships in Montreal got cancelled a year ago, weeks and days before skaters and their teams were going to fly to Canada. The Grand Prix series in the fall was sort of, kind of, in a way, not really on although 2 events did get cancelled. The events that did happen had mostly competitors from the host country or foreign athletes who trained in that country and they didn’t get much TV time.

But viewership and interest has waned over several years, it feels like.

Could it be the judging overhaul as Sarah Lawrence suspects? I mean, we had to do something to fix the blatant nationalism that went along with judging deals and favoritism. And cheated jumps on a consistently terrible basis should never have been rewarded with Olympic gold medals (Sarah Hughes for the win… literally.)

Sarah Hughes

By Photo taken by Vesperholly – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Common.

(And I’m not slagging Sarah Hughes at all. She had some great content (those spirals!) and seems like a really sweet person but she would turn a full 1/4 turn after her blade hit the ice on her triples and I’m really, really glad we dock points for that now.)

The problem, though, as Sarah Lawrence also speculates, is that there are too many ways to earn and lose points on every single thing a skater does. And they are encouraged to do a bazillion things in contortionist-savvy positions that are generally more do-able before a female skater hits puberty.

Former US champion, Alysia Liu (Not my picture)

Like little Alysia Liu from the states. For the first time in years we had someone who could knock triple axels out of the park like the teensy tiny Russian skaters. She won the US Championships with these tricks and more in 2019 and 2020 but then (wait for it…) puberty hit and she has gone through a growth spurt. I did watch her at this year’s US Championships in Vegas (with no coaches by the skaters’ sides and an audience full of cardboard cut-outs, including the Geiko Gecko) and she looked like a beautiful woman version of her little girl self. Unfortunately with a changing body and lost training due to COVID, Alysa couldn’t find her way back to any step of the podium despite a gritty, fairly successful long program.

At the same event, Gracie Gold competed again and also is a different version of the national champion she was years ago. Gracie could be a cautionary tale and a reason why some parents are choosing to not put skates on their children’s feet when they are young. Gracie was a superstar befitting her mega-watt name and she put on jumping clinics on practice sessions (believe me… I watched her practices live in Salt Lake City for 2 years and she was amaze-balls) before her own fall from, er, grace.

Eating disorders, anxiety, self doubt- these things crept in and her physical and mental health and some concerned grown ups in her life took her to an in-patient facility where she battled her demons in private.

my hubby’s cell phone cover!

Make no mistake- I am very clear that puberty and spandex are two things that don’t go together like PB&J and its not just the modern skaters who face these same issues. I knew skaters who had to quit the sport and even one who died from anorexia back in the 80s. But with the Internet now are families choosing to skip skating and are dropping their kids off at a soccer field instead? Are swimming and gymnastics going through the same thing?

I don’t have the answers but I would absolutely love for figure skating to be huge again. I would love to watch traveling ice shows with professional athletes like Kurt, Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan – Stars on Ice and Champions on Ice. They were spectacular sparkle-fests with back flips and heartfelt, artistic routines (omg, Nicole Bobek… Sacrifice… my inspiration to skate to the same song myself in the ’90s!) Obviously we aren’t watching stadium events right now but these shows and Ice Capades all died off years before the pandemic.

Mirah Nigasu of the US (obviously not my picture)

I admire the jumping beans of today and how much they cram into their programs but I miss when the Women’s event was a women’s event. I like that skaters can skate to music with lyrics now but I miss the pauses, the long glides, the choreographed moments where so much of the story was told by a skater stopping, lifting her hands and staring off behind her back… or something like that. Anything like that. I’d even take Bogart and the smoke again (even though its not the right message!!!)

I hope if you used to watch figure skating that you still choose to seek it out. I am a member of goldenskate.com and that is a fun forum for fans to visit and share or discuss skaters of today as well as skaters of yesteryear. International Figure Skating is also a good magazine that follows the sport around the world even while many athletes aren’t 100% sure we are, indeed, having World’s in March (so far it looks good…)

For now, though, its time to head out into a different frosty wonderland as I’ve just got another dump of snow and that stuff doesn’t move itself from here to there. Stay safe, everyone. Get your vaccines!

Big Red on Friday morning. Its been that type of weekend.
And that kind of a weekend.
I love this truck.

Branching Out

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We branched out into the world of ferrets many years ago! Andy and me.

I certainly don’t need to be any busier in life right now but I have committed to branching out in a couple of areas that involve my writing. I know these commitments will not take up a large amount of time so I don’t feel pressured or panicked in any way.

I also tend not to feel pressured or panicked about anything because that’s just how I roll. Maybe had I chosen to become a commercial pilot or a sky diving instructor I would feel differently every day but there is an inherent amount of safety in putting words to paper for others to read.

That isn’t to say there is no fear in writing. Hitting the “enter” key the final time when I self published my first book, Lost and Found in Missing Lake, my stomach flip flopped. I was sharing a story and characters that I made up. There is an element of fantasy to my fiction and I am deeply connected to my story. If nobody read it or nobody liked it then that would mean nobody liked what was in my head or that I wasn’t any good at what I was passionate about.

The collection

At least I have the books behind me as I leap into the new challenges.

I have already started the first one and it went well. I am writing non-fictional, educational, veterinary-based articles for 4 newspapers around western Montana. I still need a title (is that called a by-line?) and a photo that will look alright in newsprint but the first one is written and ready to submit to my editors.

The Pet Vet? Dr.Fyfe’s Take? Vet Chat?

I’ll put it out on social media and see what people think.

I like this pic but for my wonky tooth… is the lighting weird, though?

I found the writing to be a healthy challenge. Challenging to keep it under 500 words, for starters! When I write my books I let my fingers and feelings fly and I don’t choose to restrain myself until I re-read or do some editing. I also get to deal with dialogue between characters with my books but veterinary educational topics don’t lend themselves to that. Dialogue in my books is a lot of fun for me. It allows me to explore and get to know my characters more plus it moves the story along in a way that just telling the story doesn’t do.

I also want my non-fictional newspaper pieces to be interesting while perhaps a little bit entertaining because, come on, its Me we are talking about here and I like to make people smile. At least I didn’t have to come up with the topics. At Kickoff for Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic we, as a group, decided topics to focus on based on the seasons and generally accepted veterinary themes (ie February is Pet Dental Health month in most of the country.)

Clark Fork Veterinarian last week with Rosie, a super cute red Boston!

I’m excited to get the articles out there this year and see what people think. I love the fact I already have 4 newspapers eager to have the content, including our local Seeley Swan Pathfinder whose local readership knows me well. It is far less daunting to write articles like these versus putting my imagination out there for all to see (and judge!)

Remember, though, I grew up being judged going through puberty in spandex so there’s that confidence that I carry that probably is ill suited at times. I stay in my lane, at least, so hopefully that keeps me out of most trouble.

I think branching out within our careers is a good thing. As a figure skating coach many years ago I branched out and learned about power skating for hockey players and that became an exciting niche for me in Canada and the US. It helped me establish myself when we moved to Watford City, ND and opened a lot of doors and led to the creation of some terrific friendships in that community.

3 of the WC hockey coaches with me in 2018- lifetime friendships thanks to branching out!

I have always said that figure skating has been good to me and the fact our great friendships with other coaches and most of our players have remained strong after 25 years is reason enough for me to keep believing in expanding ourselves and our careers. I am still amazed they all put their trust in a 21 year old with a long curly pony tail who was shacked-up with the new doctor in town but Dave and then Doug and the others did and there we were at Dave’s son’s wedding a few years ago.

One of our ‘kids’, Maggie and me!

I am excited to share my writing story when I branch out on a Zoom call this coming week with interested authors-to-be. My good friend who is an editor has been teaching a class on publishing and she has asked me to share what I know. There are definitely things I have learned through trial and error (and more trial and error) and things I have spent money on that got me nowhere.

But then things like the book blog tours that Teddy Rose hosted for me were a boat-load of fun and garnered my last 2 books some awesome reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (and on private blogs as well.) I believe some of the students I will be talking with are planning on going the traditional publishing route but some are keen to learn about self-publishing so I have a bit to offer there, too.

Clark Fork Veterinarian a few weeks ago…. should I Zoom in my glasses? Do I look smarter?

I’m not quite sure how to measure if things are a success or not when branching out into the world of writing. Okay, when books sell and I receive awesome reviews then that feels successful. It feels like the hard work and time and commitment to sit down and write and then edit was well worth it.

As a realtor, its clearly a success when I can help clients find their dream home within their budget or I can help people list and sell the home or land they have. While that is a challenge right now due to ridiculously low inventory I still work every day to look at listings and communicate with clients and help the 1 transaction on the go right now make it to closing. Without the success at closing it wouldn’t be any fun to do the work.

As a coach it can be pretty clear when things are a success. Skaters land jumps, they pass tests, they compete well and maybe earn medals. Hockey teams learn to work together, their skating skills improve, various players score goals or make wicked saves and sometimes your team wins.

Fun gig as power skating coach for the Jr. A Bismarck Bobcats for a couple of seasons!

While the term, ‘success’ usually has a positive connotation, there are times when that just isn’t so.

Like as a veterinarian…. sure, hitting that teensy tiny vein with zero blood pressure behind it on the 15 year old cat in the back seat of a pickup might seem like a success until you learn that the vet is helping a family say goodbye to their feline companion.

Even in coaching, success might not be success, even if it takes years to find that out.

Like the elite figure skater I coached to several medals and high level testing achievements who has gone on to higher education and travelled the world…. I read a post from her on social media yesterday about the eating disorder demons she continues to fight that appeared as she, too, went through puberty in spandex many years ago.

I didn’t see the self loathing and distorted body image because she hid it well and also because I left to go to veterinary school and she eventually graduated high school and moved on. And maybe I never thought to ask.

American Ice Show skater in Japan! 1992

I’m not saying any of us who train and compete and then perform at elite levels (in spandex) come out of it “normal”. I’m the first to admit that I was one of the bigger girls on tour in Japan and that the twice-daily weigh-ins were NOT cool but I have lots of coping mechanisms and I don’t believe I ever experienced self loathing like my former student described.

I know I did counsel a few of my skaters who had obvious weight-based issues but how many of them weren’t so obvious to me or their parents?

A little more of Tanya back then.

There is some success in reading how my skater also shared that she is embracing her body and her life and trying to take the time to take care of herself and I whole heartedly support her and hope she is successful. Not sure how to gauge that success, either, but having all the answers has never been the point to this blog.

I’m here to share my journeys and my discoveries and lots of times I share the shit-shows and disasters because that’s all part of being me.

Who I was (under construction, goofy, skater-girl, possibly brave.)

Who I am (veterinarian, writer, realtor, wife, friend, coach, still goofy, animal addict.)

Who I will be (still goofy, more animals, all of the above plus apparently a writer for newspapers and a Zoom personality for aspiring writers!)

I have, I do and I will probably always be driving down challenging paths

Here’s to change while staying within your lane.

Branching out doesn’t have to be frightening or anxiety-causing.

I’ll keep you all posted, however things turn out.

Enjoying winter in Montana now that its here!
Honestly, I was giving a thumbs-up here!
Professor Higgins is not too sure about those icicles!
More fun with ferrets. Barry and me!

2021… So far…

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Maggie, Jake and me a couple of early evenings ago during my walk

Okay, 2021. I’m only kind of impressed so far.

I mean, that’s really just sort of true because I do feel a sense of peace about most things in my life.

While I’m sad that Larry King died, I am content that news stations were able to give him the credit he deserved because there wasn’t some sort of angry, crazy chaos happening in the country.

And I’m glad my careers are at a fun, manageable stage right now even though I feel like real estate might be picking up a bit and I’m committing to a veterinary writing project with my Clark Fork Veterinary gang that I don’t think I’ll regret.

The Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic gang in Deer Lodge last week!

I am enjoying defining my place within the practice even though I’m only there 3 or 4 days each month. The drive time one way is 90 minutes, which is the only barrier to me working there more hours/days. You wouldn’t know the gang is so heavy on the estrogen because of how well everyone supports one another and gets along.

I’m not sure why groups of women often don’t get along but I don’t feel like that’s an issue in Deer Lodge. Maybe its our age and background differences? (I think I’m probably one of, if not the oldest person there, which makes me smile… and then I feel old… and then I laugh.) Or maybe its just their culture of acceptance and support and the leadership that exists there that prevents any petty BS from creeping into the workplace.

Regardless, its a lot of fun and I get to wear all of my colorful DVM shirts and lab coats again!

And I am slowly getting them all hooked on Sparkle Pens!

Celebrating… watch out for that mask, Hon!

Personally there is some satisfaction to 2021 in that we finally closed on our most recent attempt to refinance. This has been an arduous process with countless phone call hours over the last 3 years and I’m not someone who enjoys spending time on the phone.

The last time I spent hours of my life working to refinance the lenders pulled Jumbo loans because of covid early in 2020 and we lost our deal one week out from closing. That sucked.

We re-applied this fall, though, and after numerous faxes and uploads and print-outs and voicemails and emails and “are you kidding me’s” and rollings-of-my-eyes we actually closed. (The realtor term that has become my mantra, ‘nothing is closed until its closed’ was in my head the entire week prior to closing up until the last signatures were signed.

After closing. Celebrate!

And then we went out to lunch, which we haven’t done for months, to one of our favorite places to eat here in Seeley Lake (Double Arrow Lodge) and we were the only guests there and Karla wore her mask so we felt safe on top of feeling relieved about the closing. And the Caesar salad (anchovies!) and French Dip were fabulous, too.

(And despite the unplanned matchy-match of our shirts I enjoyed my look because of the stellar bling I had chosen from the Bling Emporium to wear that day!)

Alistair’s covid record card!

The fact Alistair received his 2nd dose of the Moderna covid vaccine is something that makes me smile right now, too. I won’t lie, though. While he felt mostly fine other than a slightly sore arm after the first vaccine, he pretty much felt like ass after the second one and was actually kind of out of it the next day.

I haven’t posted that on social media (other than right here, right now) (kudos to any of you who get the Jesus Jones reference) because I don’t want to discourage people from getting the vaccine! It is imperative that we get vaccinated to slow the spread and decrease the chances of the virus mutating again & again.

While I don’t specifically identify as having covid fatigue, I know many friends who do and we all really would love to get back to our lives and maybe even back to hugging clients whose pet I just had to help transition over the Rainbow Bridge (while wearing a mask of course.)

Jockey Bo Bockey

Speaking of that…

Another thing I haven’t put out there is the fact something seems to be up with our farm-boy-turned-indoor-love-bug, Jockey.

He is almost 13 years old and, no, that isn’t very old but it is considered ‘senior’ for cats.

We had started finding really bizarre clumps of his hair in places he had been and it wasn’t normal. Sure, cats shed and sure, I vacuum too much but these were large tufts seemingly falling out at the roots. This has been going on for a couple of months and then Alistair commented that he thought Jockey looked a bit thinner during his last time back in Montana. Probably easier for him to notice because I’m with Jockey every day.

He thrives now that he has Indoor Status

Then last week I noticed the red, inflamed skin and the scabs where the hair had been falling out along his spine. I fear he has some version of feline skin cancer – lymphoma, mast cell, whatever- and none of the options or outcomes are any good.

He wasn’t wild about our recent stint as dog-sitters for sweet Jazz (who totally gave the cats the respect they deserved!) so he seemed kind of ‘off’ personality-wise last month but he is still the ridiculous lover and snuggler that he has always been.

And he eats. And drinks. And runs around.

Today. Fascinated with the fish.

And he remains fascinated with the super cool fish tank here in my office even though you can see a little of the redness along his spine. He doesn’t seem tender or itchy when I examine him so his quality of life doesn’t appear affected right now.

And he’s still the shit-disturber that he’s always been. Don’t get me wrong- we love our giant boy a ton but he always had a bit of an asshole in him, even when he lived mostly in the barn. His tender grooming licks often turn into chomps with a sense that he actually means it even when he would looks away all innocent-like when you say, “HEY” and pull away from him. (That remains consistent right now, too.)

The asshole in him last night identified something Alistair and I had no clue was going on. And no clue how long it has been going on.

Last night’s little discovery…

I saw him jump up onto the bar and reminded him that cats aren’t allowed on the bar, knowing he was probably flipping me ‘the paw’ from the other side. When I’m on the couch I can’t actually see him because of the height of the bar and the 4 bar stools but for whatever reason I stood up and my mouth fell open.

The jug of water he’s drinking from is the water we use to pour into the black ice maker there to make ice cubes.

OUR ice cubes.

The same cubes in Alistair’s martinis and sometimes my Caesars.

Every. Single. Night.

And the way he waltzed right up to it told me he’s been doing this quite comfortably for weeks. Probably months. I sincerely hope we haven’t made you a cocktail from the bar with those cubes if you were here. or you made one yourself if you were pet sitting for us. Alistair did comment a couple of times that the cubes seemed to have ‘something’ in them, like random air debris.

It was probably clumps of Pastuerella multocida or something from Jockey recently licking himself post litter-box.

I shit you not. (See what I did just there?)

(I promise to only use my special Cat Woman powers for good if anything develops!)

Sporto…. the old cat!

So I try not to think about the possible inevitable short-term future for our big boy because he’s keeping on keeping on and I didn’t bother getting him off the bar last night but I did text the picture to Alistair who agrees that we need a new water jug and I work on not letting my brain go to the fact that Sport, aka my appendage, is going to be 21 soon or that Bebe with her hair matts she reluctantly lets me work on every day is going to be 18 and I treasure each day like today that I get to spend at home working on real estate and my blog with a cat in my lap and one smacking at the fish tank and the third by the wood stove because I know I won’t have these days at some point and I won’t know what to do with myself and my heart will hurt when most likely Alistair won’t be here when its Time and Doctor Mummy will have to have a talk with real life Mummy and it is going to supremely suck and I’m kind of dreading it already.

And I’ve got a few tears slipping down my cheeks, which hasn’t happened for a long time when I’ve written a blog.

Jockey & Sport earlier this winter.

Sigh.

But I’m going to continue to choose Happy and I’m going to bring the barn kitties in for soft food for the night and then I’m going to walk down the back driveway while Maggie & Jake follow me as far as they can hoping I don’t forget to give them grain and some hay on my way back.

I’m going to keep trying to embrace 2021 because, like Bastille sings in ‘Survivin’…“I’m going to be fine, I’m gonna be fine, I think I’ll be fine.”

There aren’t any other options if I want to continue to be Me in a whirlwind of veterinary medicine, real estate listings & contracts, books to ship and market and a farm to run, all while trying to be a good wife and Mummy. Our mortgage rates are down so, hey, there’s that! And Clark Fork Veterinary Clinic just feels like the right place at the right time.

Carry on, 2021!

Professor Higgins: “Would you mind opening the door, Andy?”
Maybe he’s checking into some Zen here?
Fabulous Babulous noshing on her Greenies
I’m going to be fine because I know little kids today will never know of a time when a woman can’t be an American Vice President.