Music, the World and Myself

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Heading east!

Alistair had an extended work period last month and I was missing him.

So were Loki, Cleo and UB so the 4 of us loaded up into the Jetta and we were back on the long, lonely Highway 200 heading East yet again.

I only brought the necessities.

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Dogs, golf clubs and bling. UB and Cleo were being camera shy.

When I reach pavement and toss a quick wave at Jessi’s house in Ovando, we are really on the road.

Its a pretty time of year for the drive because everything is green and baby animals are all over the place. Its as if the planet is full of hope and renewal.

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The last of the mountains.

Calves, foals, fawns, and lambs hang out in their herds and mosey towards the creeks and streams that weave their way through vast acreages. Where one dirt driveway pierces a perfect fenceline and I won’t see another for several miles.

There was hay on the ground. Lots of it!

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Big, round hay bales on the ground already.

Round hay bales dotted the landscape on both sides of the road while other farmers were in the process of cutting or baling.

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More hay along the road.

The long drive isn’t for everyone, especially with canine companions but I really don’t mind it with the weather being so nice and my buddies being so cute.

Well, at the rest stop when UB and Cleo get tangled up in their leashes, my legs and each other it isn’t so much cute as it is comedic. And silly.

But I can’t blame the dogs for their lack of leash-etiquette. I just laugh out loud and hover over blind little Loki and I giggle as they all sniff the prairie air and I encourage them to drink the water I’ve poured.

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Getting closer to North Dakota

The trip is enjoyable with satellite radio. What a change from driving in the 80s and 90s! When you had to load up your box of cassette tapes in their rectangular cases and push buttons to buzz through songs you maybe didn’t like, hopefully not going too far into the next song.

When your other option was the radio but good luck getting much more than AM or CBC Radio driving out in the empty prairies.

I lucked out in that there was some good golf happening on the PGA station and the music stations I like had some great playlists going on.

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The Pulse!

I love the Pulse. I get introduced to new music and sounds from artists I may or may not have heard of and I’m generally impressed.

And I enjoy the Blend because they play some older tunes mixed in with the new music and its usually a good mix.

I let my thoughts run wild, though, listening to the generational stations, 70s on 7, 80s on 8 and 90s on 9. The sounds of those decades were influenced by so many different things facing the world than what’s going on right now.

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Little Tanya in the 70’s.

I’m a product of the 70s and along with ballet and figure skating I also took Disco dancing lessons (“do the hustle!”) Disco tunes merged somehow with rock & roll which both blended with soul-searching ballads and songs about finding ourselves. Our parents plugged the 8-tracks into the car with a thunk and Boney M or Harry Belafonte sang about trippy night flights to Venus or meeting a little girl in Kingston town.

Those of us non-millennial types somewhere in our 40s now were weaned on Cat Stevens, Stevie Wonder and Fleetwood Mac.

And I think people were happy back then and they took responsibility for their actions and women and different ethnic groups were finding their voices and getting their feet underneath them on firm footing that hadn’t existed before.

And there was no social media or instant news access. We read newspapers and encyclopedias and we wrote letters and had pen pals in different countries and fondue was cool because people could visit while they ate instead of bending over hand-held phones that controlled their lives, offering images of irate and irrational wanna-be leaders next to advertisements for legal groups telling you who you should sue next. I liked the 70s.

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Skater Girl of the 80s

And I lived through the 80s which produced some of the most unique sounds of any musical generation. The Euro-pop scene exploded, men wore make up and full drag, all while Heavy Metal began its loud, frenzied march through many adolescent’s “ghetto blasters.”

 

I remember my own mom ripping an Iron Maiden or Quiet Riot poster off my brother’s wall but I can’t remember why.

The 80s music scene is chock full of experimentation with synthesizers and lip synching (Girl, you know its true!) and suddenly we had MTV and Much Music and stories behind songs became as important as how it all sounded.

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Closing out the 80s… grad class of ’89

The music reflected the times. HIV and AIDS were real. Hunger existed around the world.

People responded and even though a lot of songs came out of the 80s that make me shake my head it was a reflection of people asking themselves and others what could be done? How far could they push the scene? What kind of world did we want to live in?

Yay for Boy George, the Beastie Boys and Duran Duran. Yay for Bruce Springstein and Cher. And yay for heavy metal, which is a sound and a vehicle for people (and possibly their rage) that has survived to this day.

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Japanese metal in the early 90s

My life in the 90s was as busy and confusing as the musical scene which was all about asking questions and trying to keep up with the World Wide Web and what that meant. We began 1990 without the Berlin Wall and the 90s saw African Americans beginning the identification of their own culture and what they would (and wouldn’t) stand for.

The 90s is where rap music took off and while Vanilla Ice certainly had his hey dey in there it was looked at as a mostly black style of music. Rap music was another way to interpret and question life, and it provided yet another glimpse into a song’s meaning, just like the videos behind the sounds did.

Globalization began to happen on a larger scale. Home grown nutjobs became terrorists with Oklahoma City. Flannel and plaid became cool. DVDs replaced cassette tapes. Peaceful protests of the 60s and 70s were replaced by riots in LA after the Rodney King verdict. And nobody can forget where they were when they were watching that white Bronco.

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One of the things I became in the 90s!

The 90s were just as busy for me.

I lived in 3 countries. I graduated both college and university. I was a showgirl, a skating coach, an English Teacher and a waitress. I became engaged then un-engaged. Then I got engaged and married to the right guy. I was a pet parent and a step parent for the first time and I attended a bunch of awesome concerts.

As always, a musical soundtrack has played in my head through every step of every adventure and these 3 generational satellite radio stations brought it home to me during my 11 hours in the car with the dogs.

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wide open sky for wide open thoughtful reflection

I am glad I had parents who enjoyed music and that, through figure skating, I was surrounded by different sounds much of my life.

I love that Alistair shares a passion for music and that he likes playing his guitar and singing John Denver or Garnet Rogers songs to me. An ABBA record on his shelf was just the beginning for us over 20 years ago.

And I am lucky I can load up my dogs, deaf or blind as they may be, and we can travel the open road between 2 states and 2 homes in vastly different surroundings.

That I am free to listen to my life’s soundtrack and pontificate on the meaning of it all and what the generational sounds will be from 2016. What will I reflect back on listening to Ed Sheerhan, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Maroon 5 and Rixton down the road?

I’d love to hear the sounds of your own soundtracks regardless of where you live or how old you are. Until next time… sing on.

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Our happy herd in sunny Bismarck

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UB’s 2nd bath in 2 trips to ND. We aren’t sure what he’s found but it stinks!

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Round 2 for the robins. Same nest, new babies!

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Playing on our ND course, Painted Woods!

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Trying to beat the storm clouds as I drove back to Montana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Smoke Has Lifted!

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The smoke from the forest fires made for some scenic sunsets.

As I sit at my computer on a dreary, chilly day with the heater turned towards my legs, I am thankful for the rain.

It is what most of us out west are hoping is a Season-Ending-Event.

The end of fire season for another year.

I’m not sure, though, because it could heat up again but they are calling for snow at higher elevations and we’ve had our propane fireplaces going the last two nights.

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Jockey & Mouse, starting their annual quest for inside-house-membership

We are all loving the fresh air and actually being able to smell the live green forest trees versus the burning ones.

The smoke and the fires were pretty intense this year.

Vast acres in Washington, Idaho and Montana were consumed by flames.

29 homes in Rock Creek, British Columbia were lost, not to mention the nearby campground thanks to a relentless surge of fire that came on too strong.

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The smoky view at Holland Lake a couple of weeks ago.

It was a bit creepy just last week playing late afternoon golf in the thick smoke, hearing the unmistakable “whooka-whooka” sounds of the helicopters flying low with their buckets over the 14th fairway.

Every golfer on neighboring holes stood still and looked upwards, like something out of War of the Worlds.

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View straight up from the local 14th fairway. Not your typical golf scene.

So we are all breathing sighs of relief that we can breathe fresh air again.

But as thrilled as I am to hopefully see the end of this year’s Fire Season, I’m sad that it could be taking Summer with it.

Didn’t Summer just start?

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Sunny Saskatoon earlier this summer!

Weren’t we just up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for my 10-year veterinary school reunion?

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Alistair… my man of golf!

Weren’t we just getting to explore some golf courses in Bismarck and planning to spend some time playing on them?

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Also my man of hay.

Weren’t we just hauling hay bales?

Didn’t we just have our July wedding anniversary and weren’t we talking about getting the canoe out this year or planning to ride the horses and improve our golf game and maybe get the big boat out on the lake?

What the Hell?

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A fun afternoon last month on our beautiful local course.

We did manage to do a ton of things, though, even if a ride in the canoe wasn’t one of them.

And we laughed a lot, too.

A LOT.

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Ooooops!

You can’t help but laugh when you turn the corner on the golf cart path and see this.

Okay, maybe the assistant golf pro who was standing with the father of the 2 young girls who did this weren’t laughing but we sure were.

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I was pretending to take pictures of Alistair on the neighboring hole as I watched this…

The course superintendent showed up and managed to get things sorted out.

And we actually have improved our golf game this year even if it meant playing with smoky skies.

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A smoky day with big smiles, great friends, and just a few ‘mulligans’. Its golf, Fyfe-Style.

Alistair and I also played in a club member tournament, which generally isn’t our style. We were told it was all for fun and most people wouldn’t care but one of the guys in our foursome cared.

He was a bit intense about how much he cared and he complained way too much about “only” making par on several holes.

He relaxed as the day went on and he made more pars and I kept hitting trees and Alistair had a beer and the guy finally admitted having a bottle of Captain Morgan’s in his cart.

He laughed a lot more and a lot louder the more he sipped.

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Golf cart parade the morning of the club member tournament!

He wasn’t overly relaxed when I snapped our foursome photo at the end of it all.

He and the other guy started to get really nervous and anxious about me sharing it on social media.

Or my blog.

It turns out they were both involved in some special ops overseas years ago and are probably still Wanted by some foreign individuals.

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This is what I think about that!

Which is par for the course when you live in the middle of nowhere. I have always said a large part of the population is here because they are hiding.

But I digress.

Back to my laughter this summer.

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Zeus and Frankie were pretty worked up one smoky afternoon last month…

I had UB and Cleo out for a walk along our driveway when I saw the 2 geldings kicking and bucking while they snorted and huffed.

Then they just stood there.

Staring.

At the Cottonwood trees.

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My new friend!

And the black bear within.

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My vantage point between 2 anxious geldings.

I spent a long time watching my new friend (after I got the dogs back in their kennel). I wondered how close I could get without risking being THAT photographer and I tried to keep Zeus and Frankie calm so the bear would relax a little bit.

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He made his way over to the berry tree and spent an hour defying gravity.

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Up the tree, down the tree. Up the tree, down the tree.

A little video action of my new friend:

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My little circus bear!

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This is not photoshopped!

Eventually he came down when Frankie just couldn’t handle being calm anymore and he hid behind one of the cottonwoods close to the fence.

Then he peeked out at me, which I took to be a sign that it was time to head back to the safety of the house.

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Peeking at me and the crazed horses.

He has left his evidence everywhere around the farm and Loki has peed on all of it and I check the trees every day and the berry bushes next to the house and I haven’t hiked out back since that evening and I keep my eyes peeled.

And I got to see him once more further along our driveway a few days ago.

He let me get another picture, too.

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More berries!

I have smiled often this summer.

We continue to enjoy the harvest from our lush garden in North Dakota, where they are experiencing a rainforest type of ecosystem which is in stark contrast to the dry west.

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Bright bounty from the ND garden!

The brilliant reds, greens, yellows, purples and oranges lightened up the smoky days and continue to offer crisp color during today’s thunderstorm going on right now.

There is light when there is dark, just as there is humor and happiness when there is sadness.

Which we have certainly known this year.

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From hubby when he got back to Montana this last trip. Just because.

So if Summer decides she has had it for the year and Fall moves in we are going to be okay with that.

I’ll take it if it means Fire Season is done.

And I’ll take it because its not our nature to complain.

Its our nature to adapt.

In typical Fyfe Style.

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Adapting to the chilly temps yesterday on the local golf course in our cart, Norman.

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Making the best of it. Fyfe-Style.

One Week

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While my blog title may bring to mind the catchy tune by the Barenaked Ladies, this isn’t about them.

Even though I am Canadian by birth and therefore can lay some sort of claim to the band.

I even saw them once and have the T-shirt to prove it!

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Some of the gang in Bismarck- Shilo, his mom, Raven and Susie

No, this blog is about the week I have had and how everything can change in such a short amount of time.

One week ago I was back in Bismarck, North Dakota, home of the hubby and most of our horses and fields of hay that needed to be cut.

Its that time of year.

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fields of hay during baling

New Neighbor has been a nuisance this year, pestering Alistair about getting his field cut and baled even though the man knows nothing about farming.

(If you recall last summer’s blog about the baling event he also knows nothing about hard work and sweat and how to get a job done.)

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The neighborhood hay bine that cuts the fields of grass and alfalfa and lays it out in rows. Its also a nice, shady spot for Howard’s dogs, Chili and Ginger.

Putting up hay isn’t something you can teach in a 15-minute discussion.

Running our expensive tractor and using Howard’s hay bine and figuring out what to do when & if things go wrong while listening to weather reports and checking weather websites and watching the skies to know when to cut and how long to leave the grass on the ground before baling is something of an art form.

It takes years to learn and try to perfect the skills so you have working equipment and dry (but not hot) hay bales to load into your barn for winter.

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Good hay!

In the end, we didn’t cut our hay. The weather timing wasn’t right with Alistair’s work schedule and New Neighbor still had no clue how to do anything.

Howard also wouldn’t let NN use the hay bine.

But Howard, an exceptional neighbor, cut his field and we stayed in Bismarck an extra day and helped him and his wife and a friend haul bales in the hot summer sun.

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Howard, baling his field while we loaded them up.

Many hands make for light work.

Even little girl hands like my own are useful.

I got to be the stacker.

Meaning I got to ride on the flatbed trailer like a surfer on a giant surfboard along the bumps and corners and sudden brakes, stacking the bales in neat, tidy, tight rows while the men tossed them up at me.

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One of my masterpieces.

The men get to do the heaving of the bales and the negotiating of the nice trucks into and out of the barns.

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Totally NOT my job!

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And he makes it! Go, Alistair!

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This is just a bit too tight of a parking spot for me to negotiate…

Howard has a bale elevator which makes for a better day for your back. We all stacked the trailer loads of hay and then drank water or nibbled popsicles and wondered where New Neighbor was while we debated the merits of a Toyota pickup in terms of guts and glory and talked about their daughter and her baby in Texas and didn’t talk about the daughter they lost and we watched Howard get the baler going again & again after dropping a bale.

And then we would go get another load.

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Just dropped another bale but Howard got it all going again.

Its the kind of work that you sort of enjoy because you are really earning a glass or two of wine later and you know you’re helping out and your neighbors really appreciate it and you are using just about every muscle you have in the blazing hot sun.

Its the kind of sweat that you would get if you sat in a sauna fully clothed for a few hours.

Its the kind of tradition that you don’t celebrate or plan ahead for because you really don’t know what the weather will do or if you will be in Montana or North Dakota or how many people will show up to help and its just something that needs to be done.

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Little girl, after yet another load was stacked into the barn.

I’m so glad we were there to help.

Even if I could feel every muscle in my body for days afterwards.

Its not Pretty Girl work.

Its not sparkly.

Its not something you look forward to.

You just do it because its the right thing to do (which NN obviously didn’t get… he was tinkering around in his garden when we drove up our driveway after 3 hours of hauling bales.)

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Bale moving along on handy-dandy bale elevator with Alistair working the upper levels of stacking inside the barn.

But then we played in our garden, which has been fantastic this year given the amount of moisture Bismarck has had.

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Our ND garden

It has been trampled and crushed by torrential rains and incredible winds twice this year and has withstood frost at least once.

Not everything survived but Alistair replanted when he could and shrugged his shoulders when he couldn’t.

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basil-basil-basil!!!!!

We enjoyed some yummy meals and continue to do so with the produce we brought back to Montana.

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Lovelies for my spaghetti sauce last night!

With all of the animal changes going on at the Fyfe Farm we didn’t need someone to stay overnight because I brought all 3 dogs with me.

Even blind, little Loki.

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Loki snooooooooze in Bismarck. (Insert snoring sounds….)

She lived in and visited our home there throughout all of her life and it always amazes me how she remembers how to navigate inside and outside of the house.

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Loki, UB and Cleo enjoying a Bismarck cuddle with Daddy

They travelled well with me and even though Cleo is mostly deaf she would look up at me from the passenger seat if my singing became too… well… I don’t what it was but it was “too” something given the square-face look she gave me.

But what is a woman of the 80s & 90s supposed to do when Four Non Blondes are belting out What’s Going On?

(Poor Cleo…)

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Non-singing portion of the road trip at our favorite doggy rest stop between Lewistown and Jordan, MT.

And we’re back to Montana and more changes occurred.

Or, had to be made.

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Cooper xoxo

Cooper wasn’t having any fun anymore and it was time to say goodbye.

How did we know?

She didn’t vocalize or try to get into the office anymore. Her weight loss was profound.

She got out of the cat bed when Boomer joined her and laid off by herself in a corner of the kitchen.

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Last month, Cooper enjoying the morning sun on our back deck

She wasn’t going out on the deck with the others in the mornings and that was maybe what clinched it for me.

I laid our 20-something year old companion in her Daddy’s lap and sedated her as she softly purred.

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Cooper Fyfe, back in the day, with one of her many garter snakes

And we remembered all of the special things about our short-haired, all-black, clawless wonder who found us in 1997.

How she would wrap both arms around your neck when you picked her up.

How she smacked the bejeezus out of me when I joined Alistair in ND after the 2 of them had bonded for a month.

How she groomed a terrible open wound on his hand he earned from trying to hold a crazy mare back with a rope.

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Oscar and Cooper, lovers for many years (Bismarck, many years ago)

And how she truly, deeply loved Oscar and wailed for 3 months after we said goodbye to him.

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more Oscar & Cooper shenanigans in Bismarck

Her peaceful presence is missed and our numbers are dwindling.

Its not easy.

Its not sparkly.

Its not something we wanted to do.

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More Oscar & Cooper moments

But its our deal with the animals- donate your reproductive organs at the door and get along and we will give you the best life we know how, with ample food, special treatments, voices, accents, dances, cuddles and kisses.

As good as we can for as long as we can.

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Oh, Coopie!

And more things change around the farm on a daily basis and we know we have some more sadness to handle up ahead.

But not just yet.

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Boomer, Cooper and Oscar a couple of years ago

I have visited the Everything Changes theme before and I think more and more it is why we live our lives in Fyfe Style.

We make the most of every morning together and enjoy the heck out of our days, our animal companions, our golf game, our friendships, our garden and each other.

We work hard so that we can play hard.

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Little Chorney with big sister Cooper… together again.

Because you don’t always know what’s up ahead and we want to be able to look back and remember the wonderful times together- not the things we didn’t do, or the words that were never said.

We want to help our neighbors and love our homes and land and be good people who do good things.

Even if it isn’t pretty.

Or it isn’t sparkly.

Or maybe its challenging and difficult and sometimes it makes us cry.

RIP, Cooper. We’re glad you’re back with Oscar.

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Cleo & UB in Bismarck

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Fun indigo tomatoes in Bismarck!

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How I will remember Cooper-and-Mummy time… RIP, dear Coopie. We miss you.

To Every Thing

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As the glowing yellow orb of warmth and joy starts hanging around less and less each day and a crisp coolness creeps into the air, I am amazed yet again with the realization that summer is over.

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My neighborhood

There is frost on the ground one morning.

Then another.

And another.

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Pretty fall colors on the golf course

The leaves that were green become red, yellow, and orange and each year I am struck by how short the summer seemed and how I didn’t get to do all of things I wanted to do.

We didn’t get out on the boat once this summer.

We didn’t take the canoe out to lounge on a peaceful lake while one of us reads and the other “fishes”.

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Hard at work on the canoe

We haven’t hiked with the dogs because of Casey’s laryngeal paralysis and Alistair’s torn medial meniscus.

We haven’t explored the mountains surrounding us on horseback with Alistair’s knee and just the timing of things.

But, my goodness…

The things we did do.

There’s the book I completed and published and am now promoting.

I am in literary Heaven because people are enjoying the book.

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My first book signing at the beautiful Holland Lake Lodge (photo by Gary Kyrouac)

I hear so many different things in peoples’ voices when they share their thoughts on the book.

Surprise, from friends and colleagues who have only known me as a veterinarian.

Warm, happy relief from friends who have known I’ve wanted to write for years.

Shock, at times, that a self-published author can actually string words together with correct grammar and punctuation. Words that can create emotions as they are read. Words that can take you places.

I am so freaking happy its not even funny.

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Me. Freaking happy. (Photo by Gary Kyrouac)

I got to re-embrace the little community I live in this summer as so many people have thrown their support behind me even though I closed my veterinary clinic one full year ago. I removed a trustworthy place to have your concerns listened to, your animals cared for and your hands held and yet they continue to support me.

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The old clinic days with a good buddy, Moses

From the folks on the golf course, the gang at the Double Arrow Lodge who let me and Gary have a PR photo session, to my friend at Good Times who helped dress me, the community of Ovando gearing up for a book event, staff at the Grizzly Claw for organizing their upcoming event and to Christian at Holland Lake Lodge for agreeing to host my very first book signing ever… the friendship and encouragement is overwhelming.

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Holland Lake Lodge’s beautiful main seating area… perfect for my first book signing.

This summer I have been able to share laughter and smiles with people who have read my book.

Or are going to read my book.

Or want me to sign their book.

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Signing an as-yet-unread book for friends and former clients

I love hearing their thoughts about the future of the characters, their enjoyment of the relationships within and the particular moment they meet the character, Tabitha.

I won’t say any more about that, though. Its yours to explore.

Cindy, Lollie, Jessi, Lynn, Marty, Jackson, Merielle, Jill, Jill’s postman… what an adventure!

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Alistair on the 16th tee

We got out to golf a lot this summer.

A lot.

It was easier on Alistair’s knee than hiking or riding horses and its just been so enjoyable watching our games change and slowly improve.

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At Missoula’s Ranch Club golf course in the late summer sun

And I have bonded with our animal companions more than I could have imagined by having the time to be at home with them.

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Cleopatra… bonding with Mummy

Amazingly, Casey is still with us.

The goofy, jumpy, wiggly, ridiculous, clumsy black Labrador with the unilateral floppy laryngeal fold had a couple of scares on really hot days where he wouldn’t settle down and everything was getting swollen and I could hear the fold flopping as he panted and he started turning blue.

Yeah.

Blue.

Its not a color that makes veterinarians or Mummy’s very happy, I can assure you.

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Casey… our good old boy enjoying a peaceful moment in the sun

 

The cooler weather is a welcome relief for our old goofy boy.

Maybe not if he slams into you or me or blind Loki with her bad eye but it is amazing that Casey is still here to be such a pain in the ass.

And Loki right now, with her really bad corneal ulcer.

I’ve been able to spend the time to help her.

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Loki… SO not a fan of The Cone

I’m still not sure we’re going to save the eye but we’ve come this far and I’m going to keep trying.

Another special treat is that little Boomer is still with us.

Doing very well, in fact.

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Got grass?

She is tolerating her twice-daily methimazole and has even put some of her weight back on.

Not a lot, but enough to make Mummy, Daddy and Boom Boom happy.

This summer took me back to Bismarck to help with the hay and get my dental crowns taken care of.

While the latter isn’t something to focus on, the hay-making was great.

Even with New Neighbor nearly dying from the effort.

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Ahhh… those bales of summer

And now its time to talk about fall and the chilly mornings and the wood that needs to be cut and more book signings and starting a new book and keeping Loki’s eye and getting out to ride the horses and changing my golf attire just a tad.

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Adaptable and still fashionable, making par on the 14th hole at the Double Arrow golf course!

We’ve got a little propane heater rigged up in Norman and we’re toasty warm on a golf course that seems abandoned now that the summer people have left.

One more bonus to the end of summer.

The weather changes bring some outstanding scenery both in Montana and North Dakota. As I’ve said before, I am a lucky woman to know both places.

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North Dakota morning

So, goodbye Dear Summer and hello, Autumn.

An exciting month ahead where I will turn 42 and Alistair will turn a bit older than that and the golf course will be empty.

And some overdue Aloha.

Stay tuned for that one and think happy thoughts for Loki’s eyeball.

We think of her and Casey all of the time now with the addition of our golf buddies….

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Loki-Head and Casey-Head, keeping Mummy’s clubs protected and happy

Hey.

There’s always next summer.

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Canoe-view of Lake Upsata