Deconstructing Eden

Standard
017

Fyfe Summer Project has begun!

We thought about it.

We procrastinated.

We made plans.

We got thinking a bit more and weathered one more winter and finally we started.

We are making some big, fun changes. Changes that will, hopefully, open up more outdoor living space and create an engaging, relaxing, serene environment where we will want to spend mornings with coffee or watch the colors of the sky as the sun sets, martinis in-hand.

Changes that will eliminate this.

003

2014. Another winter where I bonded with the shovel.

Every winter I have posted pathetic pictures of my woe-is-me moments where the snow from the roof has landed on the deck. The deck I had likely just shoveled the day/night before (and posted pictures of.)

The snow from the deck would encroach on the hot tub as well as the lower windows of our glass solarium into our kitchen.

007

A couple of hours later.

We removed the railings from the deck a few years ago because it was difficult for little Me to heave the heavy shovel loads overtop. But then I faced the probem where I truly would run out of places to put said snow.

Until hubby would return to Montana to move the snow big-boy style.

winter

Big Boy Snow Removal System

And the cycle would repeat itself.

Over and over again.

And, yes, we have a walking snow-blower, which is great for the lower decks but little Me was never able to get its heavy ass up to this deck on my own.

winter2

2013. Same deal.

And my friends would chuckle and laugh or maybe they would shake their heads wondering just how many times I would post these pictures and lament over the task at hand.

winter3

The “after” pic back then.

We aren’t deconstructing Eden because of the snow load, however. It is more about what the repeated dumpings have done to the deck.

Our friend, who had this home built several years ago swore up & down that the deck was designed for western Montana snowfall when we first mentioned the sagging areas and boards pulling away from the walls.

That the enormous deck was an entertainment living space that highlighted the back of the house and should survive any test of time.

003

UB helping Daddy as we got going a few days ago.

It turns out our friend was misled.

And he likely paid a whole bunch of money to be misled.

006

That doesn’t look right…

Once a few deck planks came up it was revealed why things had sagged.

We found one beam.

One.

Supporting that entire deck, this one, hapless, cracked beam.

And the beam didn’t run the length of this portion of the deck.

027

What happens when a beam breaks.

While a deck this size should have had a dozen cement slabs with support beams, this uncovered area only had 4. And its pretty clear they weren’t being used.

025

The 2 other cement slabs with their support posts clearly not doing their job!

The support stands were just laying there. No Rebar, no brackets, no beams, nothing.

We began finding more and more evidence of incredibly shoddy and dangerous workmanship.

011

No support from below leads to this kind of mess.

Even at the ends of the deck things were mostly supported from above, which makes no sense unless the workers were in an absolute rush. Or they were stupid. Maybe both.

Its the most Mickey Mouse way of doing construction you can imagine.

As if the contractor said, “hey, Crew, lets do the shittiest job we can on this!”

065

The Cement forms.

The 4 cement forms (which weren’t being used) were not thick enough to provide the right amount of support. And 2 of them were mostly rocks, making the actual cement base less than a centimeter in some parts!

070

Rocks throughout.

That particular form fell apart in my hands.

Jockey, UB and Cleo watched and played as Daddy and I worked. Alistair did the lion’s share of manly, heavy, crow-bar type of work and I carted wood or stabilized shaky railings. At one point I lifted an entire beam off the deck it was “attached” to.

004

Jockey. Helping.

And I took the occasional break to see how the rest of Eden was doing while letting Loki out for Walks with Step Gammy.

The flowers are lovely. We have never had a lilac bloom outside of our bedroom bathroom like we are having this year. The entire house smells of lilacs when the windows are open and it is heavenly.

044

ahhhhhhh…. (if you like lilacs)

Our new hanging plants are so pretty (thank-you, Alistair!) and the bushes that have survived my shoving loads of snow on top of them over several years are blooming.

057

Hello, pretty thing!

040

Why haven’t we had these before? They’re lovely!

And then we were back to cracking jokes in UB’s voice about the deck and pulling and pushing and crow-barring and heaving and hauling, shaking our heads and wondering what the contractors were thinking and reverse drilling while doing the Michael Westin thing from Burn Notice at the beginning of every episode but changing it up to suit the moment:

“My name is UB Fyfe. I used to be a Deck Deconstruction expert.” (Jut your lower jaw out and lower your voice and you’ve nailed it.)

And just like that (well, it was several hours and a lot of glasses of water), that side of the deck is gone.

071

Almost all gone at this point. Watch that kitchen door… first step is a doozy!

And most of the wood is gone! A happy local family who used to bring me all of their wonderful pets over the years hauled most of it off this afternoon. I posted it free, to a good home last night and got a ton of hits! Who knew?

074

The decking… all gone!

We will hopefully begin Reconstruction this summer, at least putting in some stairs. We have plans for an outdoor living space but we aren’t sure how far we’ll get this season. We might have to see how easy it is to remove snow with the tractor and snowblower first.

We also have the other side of the deck to tackle but that, too, might take another season.

035

Gee, I wonder what we’ll find underneath that sagging portion?

So if your plans for the summer included a visit to Fyfe Land, you might be put to work. Or you might not. The hot tub and tiki torches may be as far as we get.

006

I won’t  miss this…

005

I have  missed this, however. Good old Casey watching Mummy shovel the decks from behind a snowpile (2014)

047

Loki helping me inspect the flowers yesterday.

001

R.E. Phase I is complete.

Fyfe Characters

Standard
Casey3

Trying to take pictures with good old Casey a few years ago

I got to thinking about our crazy animal companions the other day and I didn’t get melancholy over the losses that have seemed never ending the past year & a half.

I could have easily slipped into a dark sadness but I started remembering how absolutely goofy some of them were, and some of the silly situations they got themselves into and I started smiling. And laughing. And I thought it would be fun to share some of the stories about pets who are still here and pets who are gone and hopefully you will get a chuckle out of them, too.

ferrets4

Bonjour. Did you call for me?

Like Jacques. Our black-eyed white ferret.

Ferrets like to hide and they can disappear into tiny spaces and crevices just about anywhere. If they can fit their head into or under something then they can generally get their bodies in. And they can climb, too, the little acrobats.

We would lose Jacques for hours, calling & calling for him. He often would appear from our bedroom but we couldn’t find out where he was hiding.

Until, for some reason, I pulled out a drawer beneath shelves in my closet.

ferrets3

How Jacques slept amongst the sequins, spandex and fish nets!

He had to climb straight up to get himself into a large bin where the duds of my day as a figure skater/show girl now reside. Fishnet stockings, sequins, bangles, beads, wrap-around skirts and show costumes and there’s little Jacques curled up within it all. Sometimes he was buried and other times he was just chillaxin’. In the spandex.

After that we affectionately called him Jacques Brian Boitano Fyfe.

And where does one begin with Casey’s stories?

campfiredogs

Casey always was up for a snuggle, preferably on your lap.

My vet school friend drove him from Saskatoon down to Bismarck when he had finished his PT after his year of being rebuilt at our vet school. Theresa had kindly fostered him for us and happily came for a visit. Minutes before they reached the US border Casey puked all over her. That was too bad given the fact the border guard apparently was pretty hot and Theresa was single back then.

Good old Casey.

Caseyspine

One of many, many body parts Casey dragged home over the years.

Casey loved Montana. (Who am I kidding? Casey loved EVERYthing!)

Our back yard borders USFS so there are miles and miles of forest. The dogs all treated it as their own little kingdom.

One time, early on, Casey & Harry didn’t come back from a hike they had joined me on. We called and called into the trees and Harry eventually did return. We called all of our new neighbors, the restaurant that used to be here, the pet shelter in town… nothing.

Until a few hours later when a Subaru (go figure) pulls up the driveway with Casey sitting in the back seat.

10405478_10152845995120528_9084950122968473209_n

Do you want to share, Mummy?????

There is a back road into town that runs through the forest behind our house and this lady and her son were out for a drive when they saw the boys. They said they really had to coax Casey into the car, that he looked kind of scared and that he kept looking back towards the trees… right, that’s because he probably heard us calling him and he’d never been in a car before. Trucks only.

Casey’s big adventures.

(Along those lines, when you see dogs in the middle of nowhere, they are probably closer to their home/farm than you think.)

370

Oh, Muldy!

Our ginger ragamuffin Special Agent Fox Mulder Fyfe sometimes would disappear in Bismarck. We figured he had a poker game and dancing girls going on down the then-dirt road leading to the farm.

One time he came back I let him inside and was instantly overpowered by the smell…

“Hon, I think he’s been right by some fireworks! He’s all smoky!” I thought…

“That’s not smoke, Tan. He’s been skunked!” (Alistair and I have very different senses of smell but he was right and Muldy spent a few days in the garage.) Bathing cats isn’t a lot of fun, either.

082

HRH Sport Fyfe

Then there is our stuck-up Siamese, Sport. He’s declawed and hoity toity, therefore he’s never been a hunter. He has tried to learn the ropes, though, often following Mulder around inside and out.

One day Whitney was looking out our kitchen window and asked me what the heck Sport was doing… running around the entire (big) house at least three times with something in his mouth.

He’d caught a mouse!

Only… it was a dead mouse… Mulder had caught it that morning. I watched him toy with it and then leave it beneath the camper where Sport had been investigating. Atta boy, Sporto.

533

Harry in his element.

Then there was Harry who may have had some wolf in him. Our loyal, handsome, somewhat-quirky boy used to come to elementary school or daycare talks I would do because he was so unique looking and just plain cool!

But he never really learned normal dog behaviors (which is fine on the Fyfe Farm. Just donate your reproductive organs and get along).

So when the daycare kids left the door open to their soccer fields in downtown Bismarck one summer, Harry decided show and tell was over. Outside is better than inside when you’re a wolf-dog, right?

harry2

Harry and Alistair had a very special bond.

I probably would have been fine on my own but when the kids realized the situation they all decided to “help”.

Imagine about 40 little kids chasing behind me waving their chubby little arms in the air squealing, “HARRRRRRRRRYYYYYY”. Harry glanced back and picked up the pace. Again. And again until finally one of the teachers got the kids to hold back.

2 hours.

I spent 2 hours sitting in a nearby neighborhood waiting for Harry to cross the street from underneath the tree he’d found to hide under.

harry7

Quite the creature.

What brought a lot of this up in my mind was Loki’s latest adventure a couple of mornings ago.

In the space of 3 minutes she disappeared on me. I let the 3 dogs out every morning and then go let the barn kitties out and quickly feed UB and Cleo. 3 minutes. I swear.

No Loki.

007

Here I am, Step Gammy!

I looked everywhere. Our front yard is a big, wide open area. I can see all over the place. I started calling and calling… that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach where something is very wrong….

Then  I heard her little bark (it was actually her pissy bark, to be honest so I knew Little Miss Independence needed some help).

There she was standing in the middle of the creek. The snow banks are still 2 feet high, which is why I couldn’t see her. Thank goodness the water level and flow aren’t too high right now!

346

Loki needs her beauty sleep… especially after such a harrowing morning!

She was “chibbering” away but we warmed up by the woodstove and all is back to normal.

Which isn’t very normal at all around this place.

I could go on about Cleo and the UPS man or Casey knocking Dad over after knee surgery or Oscar bringing home bats, bunnies, & endangered birds or the ferrets vs the guinea pigs or UB vs the elk, UB vs the grizzly bear, UB vs the mama bear with 3 cubs, UB vs the bobcat and UB vs Georgia Woo Fang (who, thanks to that altercation is now just Georgia Woo) or discovering, as a veterinarian, that Phillipe was Phillipa or Dash not knowing how to pasture breed the 8 mares with their 8 foals or Casey splitting his head open on the snow plow blade or Gampy forgetting Loki when he was getting hay or Boomer getting locked in our closet when we went to Disneyland or Oscar & Cooper trying to have sex or UB piddling all over my clinic or a piddled-upon stove burner (aka Why Cartman Became a Barn Cat) or Jinxie going for a ride with the Schwan’s man, Whitney & Daddy when she accidentally moved to Montana ahead of schedule…. its endless mayhem and silliness.

Cleo8

“You can’t leave me, Matt! I love you!”

Well, future tales for many have, indeed ended.

I could choose to let that wash over me but I’m choosing instead to have a bit of a laugh yet again. As zany as many of our animal companions have been I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Without question or hesitation I would bring each and every one of them into the house and share our worlds on the prairies or in the mountains.

And we will love on those who remain with the biggest of hearts and all of the great food and meds-when-needed that we can provide.

And we will provide the kindest, most humane goodbyes when its time for that, too.

Thanks for coming along, Friends. This has been fun!

Marmalade2

Alistair and his favorite redhead, Marmalade.

523547_10151028138780528_1248323849_n

UB, always with the worried expression, looking slick in his new rain slicker a few years ago!

288

Our Trio of Trouble, Phillipa, Calypso & Luigi a couple of months ago

134

Alistair with Mouse & Jockey last winter

300

Oscar and Mummy many moons ago. He’s the reason I started this blog! xo

No Slowing Down

Standard
006

The first real snow of the season

You would think that several inches of good snow would cause me to pause and reflect a little bit.

Particularly after the year we’ve had.

We are all getting used to a world without Mouse but it hasn’t been easy.

004.JPG

Mouse… just a couple of weeks before he became ill

If there is a light out of the dark, however, it is that his barn-mates, Jockey and Georgia have begun to have an actual relationship.

Where she head-butts him (with her head tilt… another story for some other time…) and he leans in and licks her forehead while they both purr.

This is unprecedented behavior between enormous, part-Siamese Jockey and petite, squeaky-sounding Georgia. They each loved Mouse beyond belief and I’m pretty sure they were jealous of each other. Like a room-mate or bestie of some poor, unsuspecting guy whose girlfriend moves in.

But now all they have is each other.

035

Little Georgia, before the head tilt

And they have their Mummy, of course! And Daddy part-time, too.

The day the snow came down I was busy.

Splitting and stacking wood is just part of life in western Montana unless you don’t use wood to heat your home.

Before you start picturing all 5’3″ of me heaving an axe behind my head like Paul Bunyun its not that bad. Alistair bought me an electric woodsplitter our first Christmas here.

324648_10150303464195528_517244399_o

The woodpile a few years ago.

I always have a good, long laugh at myself when I remember a big load of wood that arrived when Alistair was in Bismarck a few years ago.

I was working full time but I had to stack it all that weekend because another load would be coming.

It was a hot weekend, too. I remember the dogs laying in the grass watching me move each piece. One by one. From the pile to the side of the house and back to the pile.

The logs weren’t stacking as easily as I would have liked, with some of them rolling around but with a touch of OCD and a need for an aesthetically pleasing wood pile I got most of the job done.

And I posted pictures on Facebook.

335886_10150303792380528_2034849620_o

Anyone see the problem?

And I felt pretty pleased with myself.

Until Alistair saw the picture the next morning and called me from work. There was something in his voice. Trepidation, perhaps?

“Hon…. you’ve got the wood facing the wrong way.”

I looked out the kitchen window. He was right.

My day of finishing off the rest of the stacking turned into unstacking and then re-stacking and the dogs just laid there on the even hotter day watching me take improperly-stacked wood off the pile over to the pile on the driveway just to take it all back and stack it properly.

339662_10150304743305528_760902591_o

Finally I got it right!

My knuckles were dragging on the ground and my pride was bruised but it wasn’t the first time and it surely wasn’t the last time I had to eat some humble pie.

It wasn’t funny coming home to this the next night, though.

331778_10150306261300528_487763031_o

The second load! Oh, boy!

You know what? It actually was pretty funny and I’m chuckling right now remembering all of that.

That’s just how life is on a farm at the end of a long road in the middle of nowhere.

You have to keep up on things when winter hits because there are so many other things you have to do.

002

This is Bull-Chit, Step Gammy. I’m not enjoying this!

Like shovel walk- and piddle-paths for our 14-pound grand-dog, Loki, who is not a fan of winter.

I watched her almost high-center herself as she squatted which led to some giggling on my part but she didn’t hear me.

We’re pretty sure Loki and Cleo are both going deaf.

Granted, Cleo has always had selective Springer Spaniel hearing but its definitely worse this year.

308

What?

On top of shoveling there is also plowing to be done. It takes two hours to do the two driveways. I like keeping both of them open in case wind blows snow across the one up to the mailboxes.

We’re the last house on the road so if I want a road out its up to me when Alistair isn’t here.

1076944_10151982533930528_1460359138_o

the main driveway after plowing a couple of years ago (note Casey & Harry running to me)

We like it nice and wide so its 3 runs up and 3 runs down in Big Red.

10882217_10152781374600528_4388770311130694218_n

Big Red. Last winter.

Big Red is a 1996 model and he has fired up for me every single year. He’s probably one of the most significant relationships I have had in my life. I love that truck!

On top of moving snow from here to there I am also trying to promote my 2nd book, The Dragons of Missing Lake. I have had 2 book events that have gone very well and I’ve got one up in Condon tomorrow!

008

First book event in Ovando, signing for my friend, Eloise!

002.JPG

Marilyn getting her book signed at our second book event!

People are enjoying getting back in touch with my characters and seeing what Luke is getting into. I miss my characters and can’t wait to start the next book but I really need to promote right now.

And I’m still slinging bling because I’m just not busy enough.

Men… did you know that 30% of women practice saying, “Thank-you” in a mirror so that if they open a gift they don’t really like they will still look convincing?

Reason enough right there to head over to http://www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/tanyafyfe

So the snow falls and I’m a happy little wood-splitting, snow-plowing, shovel-wielding, Mouse-missing, book promoting, Boom-grooming, gift-wrapping bling-slinger.

It keeps me busy.

It keeps me from thinking about things.

Like how this is the first part of the first winter without 5 dogs and Jockey and Georgia are starting to bond but neither of them sleeps in their beds together and Loki’s eye looks gross and I really want her to enjoy another springtime and Calypso lost a bit of weight thanks to dietary indiscretion but he’s still having a ball and I can always do more Boomer-grooming and, Jeez, she’s 20 years old which makes me miss Oscar this time of year, camped out by the woodstove and there’s no deer legs to complain about because there is no Casey.

10405478_10152845995120528_9084950122968473209_n

Casey a year ago

Well, wait…

I guess I did make the time to sit down and reflect, didn’t I?

008.JPG

UB and Cleo goofing around in the snow a couple of days ago

004

Our winter wonderland when it snowed this week

008.JPG

Gary & Dona, my mushing experts at the 2nd book event at the Double Arrow Lodge!

1917364_186731725527_1632816_n

Mummy & Mouse a couple of winters ago. xo

The BEST Path Ever!

Standard
009

Aloha tootsies!

I’ve travelled several paths already this year and it is only just the end of April.

The paths are sometimes real and sometimes metaphorical and yet they are all a means of sauntering along on my journey.

We sauntered our asses over to Hawaii’s Big Island again a couple of weeks ago for a fabulous little journey in the warm sunshine.

032

A beautiful view!

The sky was bright blue, the ocean was navy, the clouds were fluffy, and the golf courses were awesome!

Our hotel room was a bit fancy but we didn’t complain.

045

Lounging in our yukatas in the living room area…

We somehow landed this one-bedroom, ocean-view, corner suite on “cyber Monday”… a day that is uniquely American and geared to online consumers.

005

One of our 3 lanais this last trip… we fell asleep every single night under the stars and waving palms listening to the ocean and the monorail below… talk about loving our Aloha!

Generally, we aren’t much for that type of thing but the rates last fall for the Hilton Waikoloa were 50% off! And then we found a conference for Alistair at a resort ‘down the road’…. I mean, we HAD to book, right?

021

Many paths throughout the grounds at the Hilton Waikoloa!

I loved exploring the resort and the area around me when Alistair was off at the Hapuna Prince for his morning conferences.

019

Pathways leading me around the resort

Its amazing to think that one week ago we were waking up all excited to play golf at a non-resort, more local golf course over by Kailua-Kona called Makalei.

063

Every hole at Makalei was uphill or downhill…. a fun, friendly course we highly recommend!

074

Getting ready to wrap up the round with our new friend, David, from AZ taking the picture at Makalei

Its amazing because here I am today, back in Montana, on a dramatically different farm than the one we left.

For starters, the weather is a bit different this morning.

002

Our stallion, Dash, not overly thrilled about the weather situation…

It wasn’t all that cold before we left for Hawaii. Our local golf course had re-opened and we had played a couple of times.

019

My step-daughter, Whitney and I before we left… we introduced golf and Norman to Whitney… a new journey for her, perhaps. (Note: no snow on the ground and no jackets on our bodies!)

Little Loki is missing her Mummy a lot and was a bit unsettled yesterday.

That could also do with the main reason our farm is so different now- Casey finally succumbed to his laryngeal paralysis while we were gone.

441

Casey & Dad a couple of years ago riding in Steve, our Ranger

Casey.

Jumpy, eager, goofy, happy, silly, clumsy, fun-loving Casey.

The dog who was always there is gone and the hole left behind is tremendous.

346

On one of many, many hikes on one of many, many paths

We had all hiked together before we left and Casey’s breathing had been labored so we did a much-modified, shortened hike. I had explained to Whitney that his disease was a matter of ‘when’… not ‘if’ and that we had already surpassed expectations by over a year.

Alistair and Whitney were adamant that we keep things as they were- that I wasn’t to step in and end things before we left.

Before he had a few more bumps with UB.

Or cuddles with Cleo.

Or sniffs with Loki.

005

UB, Casey & Loki goofing around a couple of months ago

And I was and I am completely fine with that.

Because each day really is a gift and nobody knew that better than Casey.

The physical embodiments of the words, “Oh, BOY!” lived each minute as the BEST one ever, regardless of what came his way.

002

Casey & Mummy, probably 12 years ago

As a puppy he never looked back when his former humans shattered his rear limbs with some blunt object. He became a ward of my vet school and joined our family for the rest of his own journey.

023

Young Casey Fyfe! Oh, BOY!

He took every opportunity to cuddle and enjoy each companion he could, human or otherwise and there was always such joy in his eyes.

013

Young (and bright-eyed) Loki with one of her BFF’s, Casey back in Bismarck about a dozen years ago. xo

His clumsiness seems more endearing to me now as I look through my rear-view mirror back down the paths we traveled.

At the time, though, I’m sure a few naughty words flew when he would slam into me.

Or when he knocked Alistair over post-knee surgery into a puddle on the driveway. I can only imagine what was being said as Alistair struggled to get his crutches while Casey was leaping all over and on top of him.

160

Casey & Dad hiking this winter

Casey lived and loved at full throttle.

If you were in his way (as my brother’s boys discovered) you would be slammed into and then licked and loved as you laid on the ground.

His wiggly ass and wagging tail knocked Cleo into the hot tub one time.

That was the BEST dunking of Cleo!

011

All 4 of the outside gang this winter

Something changed for Casey when we unexpectedly lost Harry in January.

He was still eager, keen, bright and goofy but he didn’t go for his kibble with the same gusto… and his runs through the pastures seemed more like he was looking for someone.

209570_10150153564810528_6398845_o

This is the BEST time on the couch, Mummy!

I believe he has found Harry again and the 2 of them are on a different journey of their own now.

We laid our big boys to rest with pink roses along with Cousteau, Mae Mae, Oscar, Cadbury, Marmalade and Mulder on a cloudy morning with patches of blue peeking through and a breeze strong enough to keep me from keeping my Memorial candle lit.

Typical.

165

Oh, BOY! This is the BEST photo opportunity ever, Dad!

And I miss Casey like I never thought possible and Cleo has moved primarily inside and she’s eager to cuddle and take over the bed and all of the animals are sorting this out and I still look for Mulder and long to hear Harry’s “Woo Woo’s” and I think I hear the guinea pigs whistling at me and I’m crying again but trying to be that strong, independent woman I think I am when clearly I’m not and our hikes out back are SO different now because although its the same path I have hiked for years, its a completely different journey.

Caseyagility

Oh, BOY! My first agility trials with my DAD!!!!

And we will all be okay.

Little things make me smile or laugh- like seeing my golf club head covers at the Mauna Lani resort 2 days after Casey had laid down in the grass with Whitney and Cleo on a sunny afternoon for the last time.

055

Who knew Muldie and Casey would join Jinxie in the spirit world when I got these late last summer?

The fact we were an ocean away maybe even helped because of the Aloha surrounding us.

008

View from the big lanai

We played golf and raised our glasses to one of the BEST dogs ever to join our rag-tag band of merry misfits.

012

I had just made par on the par 3 hole below. People had been watching from this lava and had cheered me on. Seemed like a good time & place to celebrate 🙂

And I continue on my journey and I’m hoping that’s enough loss for awhile and that I can retain some of that Aloha ’cause it really is something special.

034

Post hula lesson at the Hilton Waikoloa!

And I am okay with the hurt because it means the love was real.

And I still think I am the luckiest girl in the world to have known some amazing spirits.

Mahalo, Casey. That was the BEST of times! xo

024

golf ball hunting in lava fields

028

Ocean-side golf!

001

Their last hike together. “That was the BEST hike ever, Dad!” April 13, 2015

Highs & Lows

Standard
ND1

Headed East

My highs have been pretty high lately.

The entire month of March was one big tidal wave of laughter, adventure, hugs, joy and success and I’m still beaming from the experience.

Alistair and I got to spend 3 whole weeks together where we were both healthy and hospital beds weren’t involved.

002

My cool traveling buddies en route to Bismarck!

Loki, UB and I traveled back to Bismarck with him for my North Dakota book signing tour. Loki navigated the house there as if she had full vision- our little blind grand-dog is a trooper!

ND2

My view, #2

Once you leave the sky-high mountains of western Montana the terrain changes.

The road becomes straighter, the sky becomes larger,  the mountains become buttes and the fenceposts get further and further apart.

ND3

My view, #3

And then suddenly you realize you’re driving on the horizon in a straight line through the prairies.

There are few houses and few driveways.

There are miles and miles of fenceline.

There are cows, calves, horses, foals, sheep, lambs and antelope (didn’t see any antelope-lings).

There isn’t much shoulder and there’s nowhere to pull over but that doesn’t really matter because we were practically the only vehicles on the road.

038

Cocoa, Fumie, Penner, Shilo and Flash… some of my ND gang

I enjoy going back to our home in Bismarck.

I love seeing our horses and chipping golf balls at Fyfe’s Backyard Driving Range and watching prairie thunderstorms roll in.

040

Fyfe’s Backyard Driving Range. Pants optional.

I love how New Neighbor doesn’t disappoint me when I have to roll my eyes at least once at their trying-to-fit-into-the-hood-ness. This time NN came by to apologize for his dog going into our garage and tossing our garbage all over the place.

“I don’t know if he’s done that before…”

“Yes. Yes, he has, but Alistair never mentioned it.”

“Oh. Say, are you guys getting ready to go somewhere?”

(In my head I wanted to say, ‘no, I always wear sparkly jewelry and have my hair all styled with gobs of makeup on a Saturday on the farm…) Out loud I told him about my book signing.

bookevent

We got the BIG table 🙂 at Dunn Bros. coffee in Bismarck, ND! (photo by Rebecca B)

Selling and signing books I climbed that tall wave of happiness as I got to see so many people who have meant the world to me for many years.

bookevent7

Skating world and book world combined!

My top figure skaters and their moms came down and joined in the fun. We talked skating, book-writing, jewelry, coaching, college, how mothers-always-know, and high school graduation.

ND7

Leanna, me, Alicia & Andrea… 3 of my top figure skaters when I coached in Bismarck

Friends from the hockey world stopped by. Parents of players we had coached in both Watford City and Hazen.

bookevent8

Hockey friends, Sonny, Wendy and Sherry!

Friends we have known for the 15 or more years hubby has worked at his hospital, like Geneva, who was one of his first nurses.

bookevent6

Geneva, who had already read the book, sharing with me how she just started taking piano lessons!

And friends whose parents we’ve known who have grown into pretty cool adults now!

ND8

Rebecca and Ben Brick (wedding photos in a blog from last August…)

The very next day I was off to Watford City, where Alistair and I first played house back in 1994.

It was a lovely day for a 3-hour drive on roads I haven’t traveled for awhile.

Roads that have weathered many windy winters through the “Badlands” (aka North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park).

011

by The Park

010

more of the jagged, craggy landscape that has been created by forces of water and wind and boat loads of time

Although the highway was the same there are things new to the area that are almost unbelievable.

014

Sunday morning truck traffic in North Dakota

This is the heart of oil country now and while the jobs and money and people are there, it is a far cry from the Wild West we used to live in. Its progress, alright, but its a bit unsightly.

009

The landscape dotted with ‘progress’…

And even though I have read about this growth and people told me about the development I still wasn’t ready to see the “Man Camps”… where people from all over the US have settled in row after row of RVs or box-car-like homes on fields that once housed cattle.

015

Man-Camp just outside of Watford City

Once I got to Main Street, things looked more familiar and I made my way to our old house.

017

Our first home together, Watford City

The house we moved to after having just met a few months prior.

The house I got my first cat in.

Where we got our first ferret.

ND10

Gareth with Koshka and Marshal & Alistair in Watford City, 1995-ish

The house we got dressed up to go elope in when Alistair got 2 hours away from the pager.

The house where the kids came to live with us… where rugby lessons were given, hockey was played on the driveway, school was skipped for skating sessions, cookies were baked, tennis balls were thrown, dogs were walked, field trips were taken, homework was done, garter snakes and Larry the Lizard were kept and Hallowe’en Parties were held.

ND9

The Rugby Lesson, with Scottie, coach Alistair, Whitney, um… Troy? Sean, Gareth and Mychael (whose folks, Sonny and Wendy came to Bismarck’s book signing!)

ND12

Hallowe’en Party, 1995, Watford City

Its the house where our beloved Golden, Mitch, laid down by the back deck and died peacefully in his sleep one sunny afternoon.

Where I held him and cried my eyes out knowing I had to tell the kids and Alistair that our faithful companion was running free.

Mitch

Whitney & Mitch in Watford City

But its just a house, right?

I wiped my eyes and made it to the Civic Center for my book signing combined with a fundraiser.

The local paper had done an article beforehand and I got to see just about everyone from the good old days.

018

Kira, who was one of my youngest figure skating students back in “Tiny Tots” in the then-brand-new ice rink… she has since toured with Disney on Ice, graduated college and become engaged!

It was fantastic to see everyone and share my stories with them all. Some didn’t even know I’ve become a veterinarian since living in Watford City.

How everything changes while staying the same.

019

Back in shiny jewelry and makeup in Watford City! (Signing Kayla Hansen’s book while mom, Lynette took the picture)

Driving home I made a point to stop at our old farm which, happily, isn’t made into an oil field or a Man-Camp.

020

View of our old quarter-section just outside of Watford City… happily undeveloped

I smiled, with tears in my eyes when I saw Mitch’s hill and the pole that marks his final resting place.

021

We love you, Mitchie!

And then I smiled some more looking towards the taller hill by the driveway, where I rigged up a Happy Party one drizzly spring for Whitney and her girlfriends, complete with a watermelon-shaped cake and horseback rides on old Sonny.

ND13

The first ever Happy Party more than served its purpose 🙂

The highs of March continued with tremendous online sales of my Chloe + Isabel jewelry, where I made my goals and earned myself some incredible bling.

I’ve been riding that enormous wave of happiness and its been a good ride.

Its been much needed and Alistair has enjoyed sharing it with me.

ND11

Whitney & Gareth playing on one of the old cars on our ND farm back in the day

And I made the trek back to Montana with UB and Loki after they shared a fun week on the prairies, too.

Back to a home where the word, ‘attrition’ has been used too often these past few months… where it may be used again soon.

006

Casey (with Cleo) this morning

Casey’s laryngeal paralysis is finally doing what I’ve feared it would do.

How can I be surprised by something I’ve been expecting for close to 2 years?

101

Casey this winter

He isn’t able to go for our short walks without turning blue and gasping.

That’s not cool for him.

025

My old friend, Casey this winter, “helping” me shovel the decks

If he isn’t worked up he still wags his tail, leaps and devours his food; he isn’t suffering or in pain.

But he isn’t allowed to be Casey, either.

422

Casey and Dad a summer or two ago

So, unless I have to step in beforehand, I will wait for Alistair’s return this week and I will do what must be done.

Again.

Until that point you can bet Casey will be loved up the ying-yang, even if he bonks into me.

Casey3

Several years ago, air-dancing with Casey!

And I will keep on keeping-on, enjoying my high-level highs and making more adventures possible. I’m setting up an online jewelry party for the Fyfes in Scotland… talk about a high!

Mitch is going to get a kick out of Casey.

I just hope they have tennis balls in Heaven.

bookevent2

High times in Bismarck with hubby

039

View from the deck in ND

007

Casey Fyfe, a good old boy, noshing on his kibs this morning

Many Makeovers

Standard
024

Snowy, icy footprints several mornings ago

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks but only because my journey has taken me on some different paths lately.

Paths through snow, ice, mud, puddles, and grass- over fairways, greens, ski hills, highways and into dog kennels-  with pets, hubby, parents, friends, bling-buyers, and veggie-lovers…

It has been a busy time!

007

Late winter morning on the ranch a couple of weeks ago

This time of year is filled with change as Mother Nature begins a complete makeover of herself.

The beautiful snow-covered fields criss-crossed with snowmobile tracks and dog paw prints are becoming wet and brown and, in places, a bit green.

134

The last time the snowmobiles got used this season… for a photo shoot with Mouse, Jockey and Alistair

We saw our first robin the other day from our bubbling hot tub.

We’re starting to have warmer days with sunshine and less frost on the decks and trucks in the morning.

We have driven to Helena and Missoula a couple of times to play golf because our local course is still covered in its winter white blanket.

319

Great times playing golf at the end of February in Helena!

006

A couple of days ago in Helena

Golf one day, skiing the next.

001

We got out skiing at least once this winter!

Adventures during the great outdoor makeover are happening on the heels of our animal companions adjusting to the family-dynamic makeover of where they all fit without Harry and Mulder.

013

Good old Casey!

Casey continues to be Casey- a jumping, panting, food-gobbling, dog-with-unilateral-paralyzed-larynx kind of guy.

He’s happy. Very happy. Always happy.

And bouncy. Very bouncy.

308

Cleopatra… working those Spaniel eyes of hers!

Cleo stays outside all of the time now to keep Casey company.

We intend to bring them both in but not until we’ve arranged a couple of baths.

Talk about needing a makeover!

Cleo is a digging fool in the springtime and she brings home many ‘discoveries’…

311

Trying her best to look innocent…

When the forest is your backyard and you have dogs, you’re going to see some anatomy.

Loki is doing well despite her really bad left eye… Boomer has nailed her so many times it isn’t even funny.

004

Loki and her ulcerated, trying-to-heal left eye…. navigating the great outdoors!

I have her on topical antibiotics all of the time as well as twice-daily anti-inflammatories.

Loki seems to be able to navigate better outside with the brighter days, just like she did last spring and the spring before that.

And my smile widens and the skin by my eyes crinkles as I watch all 15 pounds of her snort and bustle and trot down towards the geldings or over towards the barn with a confidence that defies her blindness.

And UB is her seeing eye dog and he’s doing great.

001

UB, showing off his exceptionally tight buns!

Especially when he finds limbs or jaw bones or spines just like his big sister, Cleo!

The cats are hanging in there. No makeovers necessary.

I mean, I would love to shave most of Boomer and Cooper because neither of them are grooming much anymore at 19 and 19-plus years of age.

But Boomer still prances to see me, bitching loudly when there are no ice cubes in the water dish or when she deems that it is time for soft food (with her crushed-up methimazole in it).

We’ve discovered that Cooper is deaf.

270

Cooper, ten or eleven years ago… her age is a mystery

It doesn’t bother her or anybody else as far as we can tell.

And the ferrets and the rest of the feline Fyfes are as good and bright and mischievous as ever.

288

A trio of trouble!

The little shoe-thieves all had showers with me yesterday and the cage had its monthly makeover so they are all sparkly clean and cucumber-melon scented once again.

My folks are having a kitchen makeover done up in Canada right now so they came to visit for a few days.

They brought my 88-years-young Nan along and she loved playing with the animals again.

008

Nan back on the farm

And we got a golf club back into Dad’s hands and he joined us for a morning of chipping practice and laughing in our front yard where Mother Nature was in the midst of her snow-melting, grass-awakening, tree-budding, dog-poop-uncovering, sky-warming, horse-shedding makeover.

002

Fyfe’s Frontyard Pitch & Putt

And all of this is while I’m leaping into another adventure of my own.

This adventure began a couple of months ago when I innocently bought some pretty bracelets during an online ‘PopUp’ hosted by a friend in South Dakota.

They’re very sparkly and I love them.

And I had a great experience during the online event and I got researching things.

And I talked with Alistair and I laid awake at night and I hiked with the dogs and I researched some more and I wrote in my journal and I wondered and I dreamed and I smiled and Alistair smiled and I was interviewed and accepted and I made it happen.

144

Chloe & Isabel bling! Bling-bling-bling-bling-bling! 🙂

And I am now a Merchandiser with Chloe & Isabel- a 4 year-old, progressive, women-centered, supportive, wonderful, direct-sales jewelry company!

I am thoroughly enjoying the learning, friendship and camaraderie (not to mention the fabulous bling!)

377

My first PopUp at Jessi’s… our animal theme was perfect as she was my veterinary assistant when I had my clinic

I’ve had 3 PopUps (time-limited, on-site events showcasing the beautiful, well-made jewelry where Hosts can earn free bling and everyone has fun) and my Hosts have earned $100 and $200 in free goodies! (thanks, Jessi, Emily and Cindy!)

The company encourages online PopUps and sales and I’m loving planning my first online event. I have a boutique anyone can order from at any time (www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/tanyafyfe) and I am fitting this new adventure into my farm-running, animal-cuddling, hubby-loving, golf-playing, book-marketing, sequel-writing, veterinary-journal-reading, hiking, blogging, treadmilling life.

I did worry, though.

I worried that some might frown upon the fact I spent 8 years to become a doctor and now I’m slinging bling.

151

Dr.Fyfe… 8 or 9 years ago with one of the luckiest kitties in the world (cat vs. farm implements usually don’t turn out very well but this one did!)

But anyone can attest to my love of sparkly things and gorgeous jewelry. I used to design dresses for skating and real life when I was younger, doodling in every note book I had.

(I also designed houses but I’m going to hold off on an architecture path just now…)

I don’t consider this adventure a makeover of myself, though.

Its another addition, or facet of Me.

019

Another part of me (1992!)

The dorky kid became the skater became the wife became the horse breeder became the veterinarian became the golfer became the business owner became the author became the entrepreneurial jewelry Merchandiser.

Cleo9

Cleo and her veterinarian Mummy

I have been and continue to be all of these things.

Each facet helps the others and keeps me busy and smiling and sometimes these different worlds collide and that’s even more fun!

016

Ah yes… convincing the bridal party that skates weren’t optional 🙂 Love these guys! (1996, Grand Forks, BC)

(Incidentally, my friend, Abby, whose online PopUp I bought the bracelets from is a former figure skating student of mine… colliding worlds, indeed!)

The makeovers that surround me continue as ever and I will continue to grow and change and try to always be a better Me.

A better wife, daughter, friend and pet-Mummy.

And bling-slinger.

Happy. Very happy. Always happy.

If you’re interested in hosting an online or in-person PopUp, even if we’ve never met, let me know. (Yeah, its shameless self promotion but what are you going to do?)

Happy Spring!

007

Hubby, Dad and I enjoying some springtime front yard golf

011

Yay, Spring!

007

The road leads where it leads

015

My newest adventure! Check it out!

Post Script… for Harry and hubby

Standard
098

Alistair and “the kids” enjoying the beauty of Montana last winter

In my self absorbed grief and sadness last week I didn’t put any pictures of Alistair and Harry on my blog.

I had meant to.

I had uploaded several.

It was an oversight rather than a conscious act.

Grief can do that to a person.

In thinking about it I also realized that I didn’t highlight Alistair’s unique relationship with Harry and the other dogs.

harry2

Harry and his Dad

When I used to work full time and Alistair came here for his 2 week stretches, he often would hike, snowshoe or go horseback riding with the dogs.

Harry would silently sneak up on Dad on the trail and follow or herd him (if he wasn’t watching after UB or Casey).

The 2 of them developed this “man” thing that I never could appreciate… for obvious reasons.

033

“Its a guy-thing, Mummy”

Alistair would stop for a pee break and Harry would come up right next to him.

He would look up at Alistair and then down at the ground.

Up.

Then down.

Not seconds after Alistair finished, Harry would then ‘mark’ it himself.

None of the other dogs ever did this or showed any interest. I think Cleo, like me, was kind of confused by the whole ‘marking’ thing.

001

More Montana treks with the gang

That’s not the only type of bonding the 2 of them did.

I often caught Harry sneaking in for some one-on-one time with Alistair when nobody else was around.

And Alistair happily gave Harry every scritch he had time for before Casey would come bounding up to mow them both over.

011

The pack, last fall

So its getting easier each day as all of us make sense of Harry not being here.

I’ve received so  many heartfelt comments and thoughts about our big boy.

Many of my veterinary classmates shared memories (usually of Harry spinning) as he was another member of the class way back in 3rd year.

Instead of crying this time I’m smiling as I write this thinking of the wonderful years we had after I brought him home from school.

125

Harry and Mouse earlier this winter

And thankful that all of these fascinating spirits got to meet Harry and know him for his Woo Woos and his marking and his spinning and his inability to be house-trained and his little kisses and his trust and his inability to understand what ‘fetch’ was and his flopping over so you could scritch him and his harmonizing with the wolves and his gentle, quiet, big, kind ways.

alldogs

Happy Fyfe Dogs last winter

Alistair, in particular.

017

2 special boys

533

Harry