A Different World

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Pretty skies over central and western Montana last week

I had an extended drive home to Montana from Bismarck, North Dakota last week which provided an opportunity to reflect on these past ten years since we moved to Seeley Lake.

There isn’t much about our worlds that has stayed the same. Other than the fact Alistair spends half his time in Bismarck and I primarily live in Seeley Lake, most aspects of our worlds are completely different now.

While Alistair still runs an urgent care, Walk In clinic in downtown Bismarck, he now works for Sanford Health, not MedCenter One and he’s in a different building than he was in 10 years ago.

As far as careers go, I was working 3 days a week in Missoula and 2 days here in Seeley Lake and I hadn’t leapt into opening my own clinic yet.

 

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Cute little clinic I eventually opened.

Alistair and I spent Christmas apart that very first winter and we hadn’t even taken possession of our beautiful mountain home yet.

I was still skating well and able to land double jumps because I had been coaching regularly while working part time at a veterinary clinic before we came to Montana. I managed to skate in Missoula a few days a week the first year and even guest skated in the club’s year-end ice show.

 

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Missoula skating club program. I loved that dress!

 

While I had a blast returning to the ice in Canada to coach this past summer, there’s no way I’d be able to curve around the ice in a pretty spread eagle and then 3-turn into a double loop like I could in Bismarck 10 years ago.

In fact, I could barely get up after kneeling to line up a putt after the first week of high level choreography, power skating, stroking and general coaching.

Speaking of lining up putts, I would have laughed hysterically if you had told me, 10 years ago, that Alistair and I would be addicted to golf now.

 

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Seeley Swan Veterinary golf team members…. the first round of golf for us together!

 

What began as a whimsical day of laughter and drinks as we swung and missed and broke golf clubs at the local pond hockey fundraiser has turned into an obsession. One that we’re both jonesen’ for now that both of our courses have closed for the season.

We have a course in Washburn, North Dakota we enjoy playing on and one here in Seeley Lake. Both are often pretty quiet so we can play “Fyfe Golf” and shamelessly hunt for balls to keep the cheap Doukhobor and the even cheaper Scotsman happy. And both courses are beautiful, as well, each with its own unique quirks and challenges.

 

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Playing at Painted Woods in ND this summer.

We take our clubs with us everywhere, even on flights and we’ve been able to enjoy rounds in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Regina, a teensy town outside of Regina, Kenmare, Medora, Fernie, Whitefish, Missoula, Helena, and all over Kauai, the Big Island and Maui. We’ve both improved immensely and we can’t wait to get back out there!

We even made time to hit the indoor driving range when I was back in Bismarck last week. We both got the Big Bucket and hit balls until our shoulders sagged and our thighs were sore. And we loved it!

 

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At the indoor driving range last week!

And I’m reminded of another change right now as the house is full of the unmistakable smell of yummy food that’s been simmering away for hours. While I was a good cook 10 years ago its as though my culinary skills are now on steroids since I won a Rouxbe online cooking course earlier this year.

Its a win-win for everyone who visits because of the cool things I’ve learned and the things I’ve tried. Steamed chicken? Who knew? The ridiculously challenging Pasta Boscaiola full of creamy mushrooms and diced prosciutto- Wow!

 

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Steamed lemon-garlic chicken I tried for the first time a few nights ago.

I’m learning the how’s and why’s of things and creating flavors and flavor profiles that I never understood before. I could follow a recipe just fine but now I actually get the order of things and how to maybe make something better. I usually only do the online lessons when Alistair isn’t here and it has been a fun addition to my life. Right now I’m simmering my own chicken stock (I just added the Bouqet Garni) that I’m making using chicken bones & bits I normally would have thrown out from roasted chickens that I never used to make but we just love to eat now!

 

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Simmer away, my pretty! (pre bouquet garni.)

I’ve also re-invented myself in that I took the time when I closed my clinic to live the childhood dream and write a book. Then I learned all about self publishing and since I began I have created a series of 3 upbeat, light-hearted, won’t-make-you-question-life-God-or-the-world, teen fiction books that are loved by people of all ages.

Lost and Found in Missing Lake, the first book, was a dream come true, even if it was pretty frightening putting myself and my imagination out there. The covers for the 2nd and 3rd books are fabulous works of art done by our friend, Ben Brick who is a graphics artist and this winter I’m focusing on trying to get the books some more attention.

 

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My 3rd book, published this spring! 

I just love writing and creating characters and worlds and I’ve been able to combine my passion for veterinary medicine in this series and its been so well-received that this winter instead of getting going on book 4, I’ve decided to work with a media marketing group and try to grow my distribution.

I want to share more of Luke and Tabitha’s story with my fans but it would be even better if I could have way more fans to share it with.

I do get to write all year with this little blog thing I now do that I certainly didn’t do 10 years ago. Heck, I had no clue about social media 10 years ago and thought blogging was for people with nothing better to do.

 

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Me, writing last week’s blog.

No offense, Bloggers. I didn’t think much of golfers 10 years ago, either!

The blog has been great for my writing and for promoting my book and for connecting with individuals around the world. It has, most importantly for me, though, been an unexpected outlet for me to share my thoughts, fears and worries when I have to face choices and loss with our animal companions.

Sadly, 10 years ago we had 4 dogs and 11 cats (3 of them were barn kitties.) In the 10 years we grew to a family that included another dog, 2 guinea pigs and up to 3 ferrets at our peak.

 

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Cleo, Casey, UB and Harry… not all that long ago, really.

A blessing to closing my clinic was being able to spend such amazing quality time with all of these cool spirits and I’ve been sharing their stories with the blogosphere. It has been wonderful having you all get to know “the kids”

Phillipa, Calypso and Luigi were outstanding ferret ambassadors and I wish I could be singing Christmas carols on the Sing-Song Saddle with them to share with you all right now but, sadly, that’s not the case.

But I was able to write through my feelings and sort of sort them out through my fingers on this screen. 10 years ago I had my journal (which I still maintain) and now I have this platform as well.

 

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Do you know how hard it used to be to get them all facing the camera?

Our horse collection was a lot larger 10 years ago and included our gorgeous stallion, Dash, who we had to say goodbye to a couple of summers ago. The broodmares, Raven and Cocoa are now buried alongside my riding horse, Spyder, along with Flash and Brutus as these 10 years has taken its toll on the herd.

The remaining bunch are wintering again in North Dakota and their fuzzy hair coats are a sign that the cold weather is coming.

 

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Siblings, Fumie & Frankie just last week!

Its pretty mild in North Dakota so far this winter, though. I just got off the phone with Alistair and he was outside on the tractor moving hay from here to there for a large part of the day and never had to come inside or shove his toes into a heater to get warm.

I’ve strained my broth and have it cooling and its almost time to put the noodles into the crock pot. I had a brisk walk up the driveway with our one remaining pup, Cleo, who is 14 and also isn’t the same as she was 10 years ago.

She has a wicked heart murmur (not as loud as Loki’s was, mind you), she’s completely deaf and her back legs don’t do what they’re supposed to all of the time. We keep her on meds for arthritis and she’s inside most of the time and she seems content to just be with us.

 

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Miss Cleopatra last week in Bismarck

And we never used to go to Hawaii but that is a part of our world now and the Grand Prix final of figure skating happened this weekend and a good friend is there with his Canadian champ and I wear glasses to read and Alistair now makes me Caesars and he’s a martini-man instead of a scotch man and our Relaxation Grotto out back is finally coming together where 10 years ago it was a deck and I sleep better and more than I used to, give or take a random insomnia spell, and my hair is shorter than its been in years and I sling bling and I’m working on something else that is all a part of improving my marketability and I really, really want people to read my books!

A lot has happened in 10 years for the Fyfes and some of its been a wild ride and other times we’ve just coasted through the changes like pros, often not even aware changes were occurring.

Thankfully our love of big breakfasts and yummy meals with good coffee or a fine wine together hasn’t changed.

Neither has the ongoing crib match.

 

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Who ARE these people?

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My first book event in Bismarck!

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We love Aloha!

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2005 with a very young Cleopatra in Bismarck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Have I Been?

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Oh my goodness, I haven’t updated the blogosphere about Fyfe Life in weeks!

 

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OMG!

In my defense, I’ve been kind of busy.

The dogs and I loaded up and headed east to Bismarck where we spent almost a full week while Alistair had to work some extra days for a colleague.

It was our second trip back without little Loki riding shotgun and I missed her at the rest stops. I didn’t miss the mayhem that ensued with all 3 dogs, none of whom are very well leash trained anymore but I missed looking over at her little sleeping body curled up on its blankie on the front seat next to me.

 

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My travel companions en route to ND!

UB and Cleo adapted to their other home just fine, as always, and I got to reconnect with the horses and various friends. The downtown scene was maybe even more vibrant than our last trips there during the winter. When prairie folk get the feeling that their long, hard, frigid winter is coming to a close the energy is palpable.

We enjoyed a few fun suppers out at great new restaurants like J60 and dined with friends to celebrate their retirement at our old classic, 40 Chophouse.

And we cuddled on the recliners at night watching Netflix and begging Daddy for potato chips (I wasn’t a part of that but I did enjoy the cuddles and Netflix.)

 

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Recliner time with the Bismarck version of our “magic blanket”

And, wonder of wonders (not that it was planned or anything, no sirree), our golf course in ND, Painted Woods opened our last day and we were able to play a breezy, fun round!

 

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Painted Woods golf course in Washburn. Quite a different view from our Montana course!

The course opened on a Sunday and we were happy to see a few carts and golfers losing balls out there with us. (The wind, water hazzards, buttes and valleys here necessitate that you carry at least 30 balls in your bag, at minimum, even if you’re a stellar golfer.)

And ever since Alistair had his final surgery in February he hasn’t felt an ounce of pain when we play, which only adds to the fun and enjoyment when we get out there.

 

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Our back yard in ND

Alistair had also just opened up Fyfe’s Backyard Pitch & Putt before I got back so we made sure to use our membership regularly.

As you can see by his attire, the weather had warmed considerably and even now, back in Montana, the weather hasn’t been as nice as it was that week.

The equine Fyfes all look pretty good except for 26 year-old Susie, one of the grand dams of the herd. She’s looking a lot more weedy and hasn’t shed out her hair coat as much as the others have. Susie was a great broodmare for many years and she’s earned her keep at our ranch. She is still able to boss everyone else around with kicks and tosses of her head so we aren’t going to rush to any sad actions until she needs us to.

 

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Our older Arabian mare, Susie

The adventure to Bismarck was one of the reasons I haven’t had or made the time to blog. The other, main reason is that I’ve finished book 3 in my Missing Lake teen fiction series!

No joke!

Its done!

And then I had to wait for my team of editors to get through their edits and get them back to me.

 

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UB deciding he should “help” Daddy with the editing.

Then I go through each person’s stack of papers with red felt pen, pencil, blue and black ink markings and circles and then I’m ready for my final edit.

Which I’ve been doing today. With my own bright yellow highlighter and pen.

UB and Cleo have been very helpful with this round, as well.

 

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Ben Brick, illustrator (not my photo)

Our friend, Ben Brick, once again eagerly leapt at the chance to do my cover art for this book. His artwork was part of the success of my 2nd book in the series, The Dragons of Missing Lake and it was loads of fun working with him and his concepts.

Ben and I were able to meet over lunch when I was back in Bismarck this most recent trip and the final product is outstanding.

So now its just a matter of time before I share Luke Houser’s tale, from the middle of nowhere in Montana, with everyone once again.

 

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Social media banner by Ben Brick

This story picks up as Luke’s sophomore school year is winding down in the mountainous town of Missing Lake. I explore more of the relationships he has with his friends and develop some of the other characters more. The sled dogs take a bit of a back seat just because of the timing of the book but there are plenty of animal stories and events that shape this third book. Zagros and Tabitha have 2 eggs to hatch as well so there is no end to the fun!

I’m hoping to hit “enter” and then order copies within the next few days, after my final round of editing is done.

Which is great timing because our local golf course has also opened and it has been calling to me.

 

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A sunny round of golf this past week at the Double Arrow golf course in Montana!

I managed a sunny 9 holes on the back yesterday because the weather report predicted rain and cold today. I knew I would dedicate the day to the final editing process.

So I’ll leave it at that and get back to the final few chapters and maybe some supper. Hopefully next time you hear from me it will be with Secrets  Abound in Missing Lake officially published!

 

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Norman came out of storage and he’s already back at the course! (Jockey is telling Dad he’s an “excellent driver”…)

 

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Pretty Fumie and Jessi in ND at the beginning of the month

 

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Some of the herd watching me as I watch them from our back deck in ND

 

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Shed-hunting in Montana… the first shed we’ve found in a couple of years!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Then There’s That

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Loki Fyfe, a few weeks ago

 

Three years ago when I started writing this blog I was worried back then about little Loki, our blind grand-dog. At that point she had advanced cataracts and a left eye that had been nailed by cat claws a few too many times. She had her pronounced heart murmur, reverse sneezing, her knobby dew-claw, advancing arthritis, a thinning hair coat and a general dislike for winter.

It was only my fifth blog (As Good As We Can, by Step Gammy) and it was April of 2014 and it was about our deal with the animals who join our family and how I always promise to provide a life as good as we can for as long as we can.

I had to make good on that promise on January 30th.

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Earlier in January, with Cleo snoozing on Loki and Gampy snoozing nearby.

In my blog three years ago I wrote that I couldn’t imagine life without Loki and in other blogs I’ve shared how important she was in our lives. I’ve included multiple pictures of her exploring her worlds in Montana and North Dakota where she navigated around both homes in her pin-ball fashion, always knowing where she needed to go and somehow always able to find me.

Her need to be with Step-Gammy increased dramatically over the past year & a half and the two of us have been pretty inseparable. To the point where I felt guilty playing more than 9 holes of golf by myself or lingering longer at a lunch date.

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Earlier this year… snoring….

We couldn’t go on overnight trips without months of planning ahead of time unless the dogs came with us.

Which made for several fun drives across the state with my three companions and several funny glances from other rest-stop-users as I handled a blind dog and two rambunctious dogs who have no clue how to behave on a leash.

 

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“Let’s get the show on the road, Gammy!”

 

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Thankfully we had Gampy along on this trip!

Evening time with Loki, whether her Gampy was home or not was a pretty special thing for her, particularly once supper was cleaned up and it became Couch Time.

Couch Time involved snuggling and snoring into some area of my feet or legs. We’d watch golf or CNN or whatever Netflix series her Gampy and I were hooked on and she’d snore and fart and those snuggly evenings leading up to another favorite, Bed Time are a magical rear-view memory.

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Couch Time with Step-Gammy watching PGA golf from Kapalua, Maui

While UB was always pretty tight with Loki, Cleo had begun making it a very tight threesome over the past year. I’d get them to bed and go off to feed the cats and stoke the woodstove only to return to a snuggle fest when I got back. They would eventually move through the night (UB and Loki under the covers, tight against us) but I loved seeing the three of them as their own little canine gang.

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Earlier in January

I joked that “we four move as one” for the past year or two because that has truly been the case. UB is fit as a fiddle but Cleo had her own Vestibular Disease and balance issue last April and she is almost completely deaf (more fun at rest stops….) UB liked having both of his sisters close by, as though he felt responsible for them. I love his caring nature and the way he can be so serious about some things.

And I loved seeing him and Loki cuddled up in cat beds or on the carpet together by the woodstove. I didn’t know how I would be able to walk through the house without knowing he would be doing his best to take care of little Loki.

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A couple of years ago… Loki and UB.

Alistair and I hadn’t planned on putting our little train wreck through another winter but she was doing so well and the weather was so mild that neither of us could fathom ending things.

She met a new friend and enjoyed our house sitters in November when we went to Maui (a trip that was planned a year in advance, of course.) The snow didn’t fall in November so she enjoyed walks & talks with me several times a day around the farm outside. She played in the leaves, listened to the burbling creek and sniffed the air as the season changed.

 

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Getting in some good sniffing in November

 

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more sniffing

Her squished-in nose was, by far, her most important navigational tool outdoors and indoors. She was a whiz at figuring her way to the back of the house in Bismarck and a whiz at finding me in the kitchen cooking up the ground beef we added to her diet last September.

 

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Loki and her navigational tools last fall

The snow came down hard and fast in December, though, and things began to change. She was far more sensitive to the cold temps. She started “chibbering” as we put her jackets on her before we even went outside. She always did go out (unlike UB who usually requires assistance out the door on cold, snowy mornings) and did her business but often she would be three-legged and seemingly frozen in place immediately afterwards.

Even if she did let us get the jackets on she was never a fan of them. We had a variety of sweaters or cover-ups and each one induced a Pavlovian type of trembling response from within the warm house.

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A couple of  years ago… this one didn’t work despite the fashion-forward scarf.

So a few days, unless it was so cold it hurt to breathe, we just skipped the jackets and stood over her so we would be right there when she was finished because it was minus whatever and it was frigging cold even for us in our coats and toques.

 

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Another fail.

But things started to change and we started to talk about them. Normally Alistair and Tanya try to avoid talking about our ailing pets but the Doctors Fyfe intervened.

Despite the ground beef and high-calorie prescription canned food, Loki lost weight. She lost hair and the margins of her ears became tattered. Her GI tract was making unusual sounds and despite the meds I provided her stools got more & more loose. Her appetite, particularly for chicken mozzarella with Gampy, generally stayed strong, though, so we kept on keeping on.

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Couch Time earlier this year

And every night we would cuddle and I would hold her tight and we’d be up in the morning and out into the cold and she’d get her Rimadyl and ground beef and follow me into the computer room or the bedroom where she would wait for me outside the shower on the bath mat and she would snuggle into clothes left on the floor and follow me to the computer where she would sit on my feet or behind the chair as I told stories of teenagers and dragons and a Boston Terrier named Baxter.

She helped me finish chapter fifteen and even though I told her how the story would end, she won’t be here when this book gets published.

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Helping me edit book 2 in 2015

Loki won’t be here to enjoy one more springtime and she won’t feel another hot sunbeam on her adorable face.

She wasn’t there to join UB, Cleo and I as we drove across the state to help Gampy with one more surgery earlier this month.

She won’t cuddle on the couch to watch another PGA event and she won’t be spooned into my chest or neck ever again.

She won’t do “Geronimo”, “Boba-Fett” or her impersonation of a T-Rex off the bed in Gampy’s arms one more time.

 

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One of her last T-Rex impersonations on one of her last mornings with Gampy.

And I won’t cook up her ground beef or give her a post-seizure bath and I won’t have her riding shot-gun in the front seat of the truck and I don’t hear her snore at night in the too-quiet bedroom and I don’t feel her thrust her face into my chest when I pick her up and I don’t have her at my feet, on my lap or by my side anywhere in the house. I don’t see ferrets toying with the blind dog, I’m not carrying anyone outside, I’m not standing her on the freezer to trim her toe nails and I’m not smiling as I watch her lay with UB and Cleo.

Because Loki had two pretty tough nights after Gampy went back to Bismarck in January. The first day after the first night was a day for me to come to grips with what had to be done and for her and I to spend time together. Walks and talks in some winter sunshine. Chapter fifteen. Couch Time and all.

 

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Immediately behind my chair on the final morning, helping me edit some more

Our last night wasn’t much fun for Loki and she didn’t eat her breakfast. Alistair and I had decided what needed to be done and we talked beforehand. Well, he talked. I sobbed.

And I cried to the blue skies outside, “How can I DO this?” through my tears.

Loki was especially clingy that final morning and I didn’t leave her side. I laid with her in front of the woodstove and said goodbye from the hundreds of people who were lucky enough to meet and love her, like Theresa, Brian & Roxy, like Jessi & Carson, like Melody, Carolyn & Wanita, like Uncle Pete and Auntie Wendy and their resort and home, like all my clinic staff and friends at the Dog Days of summer, like the Bossorts, like all of Whitney’s friends & roomies over the years and like our neighbors in Bismarck and Montana.

I asked her to say hi to our band of merry misfits who would all be waiting for her and somehow I was able to sedate her without her really knowing.

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Just before it all went down…

She felt the tiny needle, though, and she sat up. She didn’t bark or pull away. She just sat and leaned into me. As the cocktail of meds kicked in and as more tears fell from my burning eyes, little Loki slid down my side next to my leg and hit one of her classic Cute Positions.

And she snored.

With trembling hands I managed to hit a vein. I smiled, somehow, at the fact her hair never re-grew after an IV injection site was shaved in one of our attempts to save the bad eye a few years ago.

And I told her one last time, as I listened to her murmury, washing-machine of a heartbeat slow and eventually stop, how lucky I am to be her Step-Gammy.

 

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In December, waiting for me on the bath mat

Loki lived an incredible life (sixteen years of it!) with incredible spirts of all species and she probably wouldn’t have been around for the last three if it weren’t for the fact she was firmly wrapped up in Fyfe Life.

Where everyone lives as good as they can. For as long as they can.

And we’re all slowly adapting and its weird and I miss her every single day and night and UB and Cleo are even closer than before and I had a moment opening up a package of ground beef the other night for the first time since January 30th and I’m okay with that. Her spirit lives on and will likely have as much to say as ever during our golf games.

 

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This was unexpected… but I guess when you’re running out of friends…

RIP little Loki Fyfe. You will never be forgotten. xo

 

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Another favorite snooze spot for Loki.

 

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Clothes on the ground made for excellent bedding.

 

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“Step-Gammy… the girl ferret is in my bed again!”

 

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Mornings with Loki in January. xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mahalo, Maui

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Swaying palms at our resort in Kapalua

Hawaii just happened.

I am filled to the brim with Aloha, sunshine, warmth, mai tais, ukulele music, crashing waves, golf balls, mahi mahi, starry skies, pineapple, veterinary dermatology and relaxing evenings on our lanai.

The islands have always done wonderful things for my soul and the past week spent on Maui was no exception.

 

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My Aloha toes done by the talented Tessa Stevens of Seeley Lake! View from our lanai.

We were trying to make it across the Pacific twice a year as both of us have conferences we can choose from. To be honest, the vets only have one or two but the human doctors have several that are offered.

We stumbled upon this particular veterinary conference on our first trip to Hawaii back in 2009, wandering around Kauai finding things to do before our night flight back home. We were exploring the Marriot for lunch and I saw Royal Canin and Virbac posters down a hallway. We found a happy veterinarian who told us about what was then called the George Muller Dermatology conference.

I have attended every single year since.

The conference brings together some of the top minds in dermatology from around the world. Most people don’t believe me but I actually love going for the seminars themselves.

 

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Playing the Plantation course at Kapalua on our first day.

I also love going for the ocean views, the golf, the mai tais….

We haven’t been back since last fall’s veterinary conference, though, because its just so hard to leave our special needs animal companions behind. Not just anyone can or will take care of a blind dog with a host of issues and a deaf dog, let alone a ferret! And that’s just a few of who remain now. We had 3 ferrets for much of last winter and even Boomer was still around until February.

 

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Alistair and our ‘trio of trouble’… I miss those days

With Loki’s needs and limitations we have to have someone staying at the house overnight. It is a lot to ask of someone and I don’t like to over-utilize the amazing pet sitters we have had.

Luckily this time good friends from Bismarck were in need of a peaceful break from their hectic jobs. They eagerly leapt at the chance to come to our ranch and camp out for a week.

Theresa, Brian and their Dachshund, Roxy arrived last Wednesday and quickly learned the ropes of Fyfe Life. We left our mountain Paradise for island Paradise the next morning and everybody thrived.

 

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Roxy, enjoying some cuddle time on our farm in Montana (not my photo)

Loki even liked Roxy, which was amazing. For much of her life Loki hasn’t liked other little dogs. Big dogs were fine, especially ‘her’ big dogs, Casey and Harry but she used to bark her head off at dogs her own size.

Thankfully she has mellowed in her old age. I wonder if she just decided that making friends was more fun than being a bitch. Theresa told me that the 2 little gals would cuddle up together for afternoon naps. That makes my heart smile! Loki… making new friends!

 

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Aloha from the Plantation golf course in Kapalua!

And so, we golfed. In fact, we golfed every day!

Our first day we hit the famed Plantation course near the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua where we stayed (and where my conference was… veterinarians don’t have the money or any business staying at the Ritz but that was the deal this year.)

We were joined by Dr.Brock, from Indiana, who had first attended the conference on the Big Island 2 years ago. He was a part of our golf foursome back then and we have kept in touch ever since.

 

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Dr.Brock, me and Alistair the first day.

He had never played golf on Maui so we invited him to join us for a round after our morning conferences the next day at the Bay course in Kapalua.

 

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Waiting on the 16th tee on the Bay course… a doozy of a hole where you take the words, “Cart Path Only” very seriously… that’s if your drive makes it over the ravine immediately in front of you. Note the rainbows…

Both courses weave through the luxury resort area of Kapalua offering breathtaking views of the ocean from several of the holes. The Plantation course is where the PGA kicks off the calendar year each January with their Tournament of Champions. It is a more challenging course with daunting distances, curving fairways and a sentry of bunkers guarding the greens. It is also the course we had our annual veterinary golf tournament on, which was a sold-out event this year.

 

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And Barb makes it a foursome for the tournament!

We finally met our 4th for our tournament foursome just before the round began. Barb (the wife of a veterinarian who doesn’t play golf) was the perfect fit in her skill set, wit and sharp humor.

Our giggling team played at 2-under par for the day and Alistair won one of the longest putt prizes (on the only hole our team birdied that day)! How to make Wifey proud!

 

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Mr. Long Putt won $60 for his 29-foot, 10 inch putt on the 18th!

The lunch was amazing after the tournament and will be tough to follow next year. We were so full we skipped a night of fine dining and just had drinks and sandwiches at our resort lounge with Brock later that evening (in Kapalua that sort of thing still sets you back $140.) Yikes!

Barb enjoyed herself so much that she joined us the next day for our post-conference afternoon round at the Bay course. She hauled her clubs all the way from Colorado, why not use them a few times?

 

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Barb and I having some fun on the back 9 of the Bay course.

 

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Brock & Alistair on the 3rd hole of the Bay course, looking right towards our block of rooms!

Golf has been such a fun opportunity to explore different places in a new way for us. We also get to meet new friends who enjoy working on an activity while being outside. It doesn’t lend itself to much wine-drinking but the boys liked having a beer or 2 during each round.

Its fun getting to meet people from different walks of life and different parts of the world. Barb is an avid reader and Brock told her about my books so I gave her a signed copy of my first book, Lost and Found in Missing Lake. She has already read it and texted me how much she enjoyed it. Heart smiling again.

 

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Pretty water feature on the Bay course with my new avian buddies.

Our final day of derm came and went and Alistair and I tried to get onto the Plantation course again but it was booked up. Luckily the Bay course was wide open.

Non-golfers out there might be shaking their heads at us. What about snorkeling? Hiking? Maui Ocean Center-ing? Volcano-ing? Shopping?

Yes, all of those things appeal to us but we have spent previous trips to Maui doing them. Our golf courses in both Seeley Lake and Bismarck have closed and we knew this was the end of our season so we wanted to make the most of it.

 

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Enjoying the Bay course together one final time.

We weren’t paired with anyone else so we made sure to stop for photos when we could. When the snow is blowing in Montana this winter I’m going to need to go back to these to maintain my sanity (and my Aloha).

 

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Jinx and Muldy enjoying the view of the Bay course

 

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Between the 4th and 5th holes. Ahhhhh….

We spent one more night and were able to sleep in as my conference was over. We loaded up at the resort’s breakfast buffet that was stocked with Eggs Benedict, Kahlua pork hashbrowns, mahi mahi, amazingly fresh fruit and tantalizing pastries with pineapple & cinnamon jam, packed up, checked-out and drove across the lovely island to spend some time Upcountry.

Normally we hit the beautiful Lavender Farm and then the Kula lodge for supper before our night flight home but this time we figured we’d try one more round of golf at a more local course in Pukalani.

 

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Pukalani golf course, looking out towards Kahului and the ocean down below.

Upcountry Maui is on the slopes of the sort-of dormant volcano, Haleakala and is much less touristy than the rest of Maui. Everything is more reasonably priced (round of golf was $45.50 each, cart included!) and the people are even more laid-back.

The course wove through local homes that were less luxurious than those in Kapalua and it provided a more homey feel. Alistair made par 3 times (balls for the wall!) and we enjoyed our final day with temps 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the island.

Cooler temps have led to the survival of a non-native species, the Jackson chameleon. We’d never seen one of these guys before but there she was on our cart path! Apparently a group of 13 young ones were released from a pet store because they weren’t thriving many years ago. I guess they have since thrived…

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Our new friend in Pukalani

We enjoyed one of our best meals at the unassuming clubhouse that day- appetizer, platefuls of fresh seafood and a couple of drinks each came to less than $100. Unbelievable for anywhere on the islands!

 

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Towards the end of our final round of golf this trip.

And now I’m back in Montana and Alistair is back in North Dakota and we’re back to normal Fyfe Life. Which is anything but normal.

Loki didn’t have a single seizure when we were gone but she woke up seizing our first morning back. It was mild, as they almost always have been and it was likely from being so jacked up and excited when we got back the day before.

I really wasn’t so sure Loki would be here to return home to a year ago. And I’m still not sure how long we have ahead of us with our little train wreck but she’s laying on my feet as I type and I’m not about to change a damned thing.

 

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“helping” Step Gammy write her blogs.

We have added ground beef to her kibble morning and night and she hasn’t lost any more weight. We stick to our routines and we enjoy cuddle time on the couch with the Magic Blanket at night and then cuddles in bed. We Walk & Talk when we’re exploring outside and we enjoy the heck out of every minute together that we can.

 

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“Over this way, Step Gammy.”

 

We were so fortunate to once again have friends stay at our house and love on our pets just like we do. They kept the routine going so that the blind dog, the deaf dog and everyone else could keep on keeping on.

And we could fly to Maui and recharge. Refresh. Learn. Play. Explore.

We could hit golf balls and lose golf balls and find golf balls (!) and eat at new restaurants with pompous waiters and so-so calamari and enjoy old restaurants and restaurants that surprised us because they were in a trailer on a local golf course but it was the best meal of the adventure and we got new golf hats and shirts and I wore lots of bling and we laughed and joked and made a new friend and caught up with an old one and we were completely relaxed because we knew our home and our animal companions in Montana were going to be just fine.

 

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the island of Molokai off in the distance as seen from the Bay course.

 

If you have the opportunity to visit Hawaii I highly recommend it. Certain things aren’t for everyone but everyone can find something magical to be a part of while they’re there. And here’s to coming home to everyone as happy as they were when we left. Here’s to Loki. Here’s to Roxy. Here’s to mai tais, golf and Maui magic.

Here’s to Aloha.

 

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First mai tai of the trip was at the Sea House restaurant in Napili Bay!

 

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Snazzy golf duo at the Plantation course 10th tees! (Brock is cruising up in the background)

 

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Making new avian friends on the Bay course

 

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Love this photo from the Pukalani course!

 

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She was super friendly!

 

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Aloha from Pukalani, friends! Mahalo for the vacay, Maui. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blades and Clubs

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Fernie, BC!

I’m back!

I unintentionally took a blog-break and Alistair and I took our own break but I’m back in the blogosphere.

With fabulous house-sitters (Whitney & her husband, Lau visiting from Kauai), we decided to disappear for a few days. We cruised up north to the homeland and hung out in the ski town of Fernie, BC for 2 nights.

Fernie is surrounded by majestic mountains but the town itself pretty much shuts down when the ski hill closes.

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Checking out the closed ski hill on a beautiful sunny day.

Restaurants were short on staff but we still had some wonderful Indian food at Tandoori Grill. And our Park Place Lodge was a bit dated and the view from the teensy balcony was overlooking a somewhat tough-looking neighborhood where a beer & BBQ bash thankfully wrapped up before bedtime but they had something we have rarely seen in hotel or resort rooms…

Wine glasses!

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Wine glasses in the room just classed-up the Park Place Lodge!

Its fun going back to Canada but we have definitely become a bit Americanized. Watching people in Canadian Tire or on the streets or golf course the song, Far Too Canadian by Spirit of the West rang through my head. I can’t put my finger on it but we have definitely changed in some ways.

While the golf course was fun and beautiful there were some super disrespectful golfers out there. Is this a Canadian thing?

I’m all for having a drink or two on the golf cart but being loud and rude and dropping F-bombs on almost every shot and playing music behind us while we’re on the tee box just isn’t cool.

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Fernie golf… amazing views!

Nor is slow play, which the groups ahead of us didn’t seem to care about.

Its common practice to let faster players go by but the group of nine people who were all together ahead of us spread out over three groups didn’t bother. And they visited and they took practice swings and they drank (“There’s no bar car today, boys, but I’ve got a mickey!”) and they smoked and they laughed and they talked with each other some more while noisy rude-man and his girlfriend and their music kept riding up our asses.

And yet, it was fun. Its golf. Its Alistair and I enjoying new terrain in our old homeland on a sunny day.

We also got to witness two separate incidents of young children having complete meltdowns in Fernie. Usually a parent gets the kid out of the public place when this goes on but not these cases. These were quite the tantrums- I have never seen anything like them- with the final one culminating in a little girl screaming through her tears to everyone at Canadian Tire, “I HATE MY LIFE.”

Maybe she is far too Canadian.

We also got to enjoy a night in Whitefish, Montana at the The Lodge at Whitefish. They had a wonderful spring rate for early season golfers and a beautiful room in the Viking Lodge.

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Making friends in the lobby of the lodge

Fancy schmancy supper at a golf course and our 18 holes with a cart the next day after Eggs Benedict by the lake made for a perfect experience.

Whitefish is also a ski town but they have much more to offer their permanent residents and the town maintains its activity during the off seasons. Hiking around downtown we were amazed by all of the restaurants and shops and variety.

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The Lodge at Whitefish (on Whitefish Lake)

The town’s population of only 6500 seems much larger when you consider the size of the downtown core as well as the fact they are one of the only towns in Montana to maintain a year-round ice rink!

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Random show-girl outside of the Glacier ice rink in sunny Whitefish, MT

Successful competitive skaters train year-round, which is why I moved to Vancouver and lived with other families for the spring and summer sessions beginning at the age of 12. So I was excited to see an active Montana club in the making.

The golf course we played at was in terrific shape and had some beautiful scenery as well.

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Somewhere around the 8th hole, ski hill in the background.

We caught up to a funny guy whose golf game was well-suited to ours and we played the back 9 together.

And we played not badly!

Which is unusual for me.

As we have learned this game I have always become overly self-conscious if others are watching. Good friends are one thing (sometimes) but having to drive in front of a stranger usually is the kiss of death for my ball flight not to mention my confidence.

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You got this one, Honey!

I’ve often wondered how pro golfers do it.

How they can handle the crowds and the volunteers and the markers and the other players and the caddies and then the incredible silence of all of these people when a volunteer puts their arms in the air so they can tee up their little white ball and try to make a decent swing.

Especially when they might be under unreasonable pressure!

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The golf world puts a lot of pressure on this young man.

Like this guy, Jordan Spieth.

So young, so talented, so well-spoken and so honest about his game. He was player of the year on the PGA tour last year and won a boat load of titles, including the Masters.

As this year’s Masters began he was one of the guys expected to run off with the title and after the first three days he was leading! The hype, the predictions, the background stories, the interviews, the short clips… everything was all about Jordan but then he didn’t win.

In fact, he lost in colossal fashion on one fateful hole towards the end of the round on Sunday.

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Rory McIlroy & Jordan at the Masters this year (not my picture).

You could see him beginning to falter after the turn and then things went sliding downhill fast. I can’t imagine what went through his mind but I’ll bet anyone he wanted to take a few of those shots again.

Start over.

At least the back nine. Where, maybe he held back a little because he had a substantial lead and didn’t think he had to attack the course. Who knows why the best trained athletes in the world falter at crucial moments? For Pete’s sake, I used to fall apart just because someone on the next hole might be looking in my general direction.

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Jordan last year (not my picture).

When the pressure and expectations are so high the fall back down to earth seems even more horrible than if someone who isn’t well known fires a ball into a water feature. Twice.

Just like at this year’s World Championships in Boston, Gracie Gold, our American ladies champion led the young Russians and her American colleague after a brilliant short program. She was radiant! She put on a jumping clinic the way she confidently nailed everything and she dazzled us all.

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Frank, Gracie and Scott after her short program marks went up.

So what went through her mind when she faltered in the long program? It wasn’t a bad skate, really, but it wasn’t good enough given the amazing performances by the Russians, the Japanese and country-woman, Ashley Wagner. In fact, everyone but Gracie had a great night and when all was said and done she was off the podium after being on top of the world.

A crash down to earth that had her apologizing to the media, saying she had to re-think her goals, sounding so confused that she didn’t put it all together when it was right there in front of her.

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Iconic moment at US Nationals earlier this year when Michelle Kwan, the Kween joined the American ladies’ medalists. Gracie Gold living up to her name. (not my photo)

Maybe this is why I love both golf and figure skating so much. Individual sports where I can be my greatest ally or my biggest threat. I can get too much inside of myself and over think things and that’s where you slip entering a flying camel or your golf ball pops ahead two feet on a drive.

And you have no one to blame but yourself because these aren’t team sports.

But when you hit amazing shots or you reach the top step on the podium it feels great to know that you did it. I’m sure having been a competitive figure skater explains a lot of the things I do in real life.

What does all of this have to do with our little mini-vacay in Fernie and Whitefish?

Nothing, really.

Its just where my head is and what I’m thinking about and where I’m thinking these thoughts and I’ll try to be more organized about it all next time.

Until then, its good to be back.

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Just arrived in Fernie. First stop- a selfie!

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More new friends in Whitefish, MT

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Golf team extraordinaire back on our home course with the kids.

Buckle Up!

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Loki, Cleopatra and UB got to go on another adventure with Mummy a couple of weeks ago when they joined me in our 3/4 ton Dodge Ram and headed out east to spend a few days with Daddy!

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Dog is my co-pilot!

Loki, who has always been an excellent traveler got to ride shotgun in the cab with me.

Which means she also got to listen to me sing along to my 80’s and 90’s musical selections I chose for this trip.

(I also had brand new Coldplay, which I highly recommend and am deeply addicted to but most of the musical journey was more nostalgic than that).

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Ahhhh….

There is nothing like belting out ‘Hey, Jealousy’ under clear blue skies on an open road headed straight towards North Dakota.

And I was doing fine with Loki until I got going with Vertical Horizon. For whatever reason, as I was lamenting along with the lead singer about “grey sky mornings”, Loki cocked her head up at me and I swear she sneered.

Which isn’t really very obvious because of her squished-in Boston Terrier face and her accompanying harelip but I’m pretty sure I got a look.

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And yet she was fine with Matchbox 20. Go figure!

Music has been and always will be a huge part of my life. I usually have some sort of soundtrack running through my head and at times I’m choreographing figure skating or dance moves in my mind. (As a note, this can be dangerous when you are on a treadmill and you start to add physical movements imagining you’re on Dancing With the Stars. Maybe you already know that. I’m sure its quite common…)

But I digress.

I’m sure my love of music and movement to it stems from spending so much time in ice rinks doing just that. I loved making up routines to everyone else’s music which may have annoyed my coaches early on but led to requests for my choreographic skills later on.

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Skater Girl! Loved that dress!

I love listening to lyrics and trying to figure out what the singers are trying to tell me. I’m curious if the song has any real meaning or if its just a catchy beat. I like introspective writing with music but I also enjoy songs about loving the mountains, the ocean and nature itself.

John Denver was a master at that. A lot of Canadian singers and bands do a good job of that, too.

I also am enjoying how my perspective has changed the more years I’m on this planet towards particular songs or styles.

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Classics!

I finally got some of Sting’s songs that he wrote after his father died many years ago.Or, I think I got them. What I originally thought were songs penned for unrequited or lost love, I actually now think were for his father.

“Why should I cry for you?”

Great question! I don’t know if he had the greatest relationship with his Pops or the Catholic church but I wonder. The song, All This Time is catchy and perky and radio friendly but the more I listened (and repeated, sorry, Loki) the more I heard about a boy’s father dying and a whole whack of Catholic images.

Music plays a big role in the books I write more for myself than my characters.

None of the characters in Missing Lake are figure skaters and the songs they analyze are given to them by their English Teacher.

The books are another part of the reason I loaded UB and Cleo into crates in the enclosed back of my pickup and traveled east. My second book signing in Watford City finally took place!

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Books & Bling sold at the uber funky Door 204 where I got to see some great friends, Brenda, Marna and Zack!

I combined it with my Chloe & Isabel bling and we had a heck of a good time at a cute new coffee shop in the former teensy town that almost burst its seams in the middle of the oil patch a few years ago.

My friend, Wendy joined me for the 2 1/2 hour drive (dogs stayed in Bismarck this time) and we had a wonderful time seeing so many of our friends from the years in the early 90s when we both lived there.

So much has changed.

I’m not a 21 year-old professional figure skater with a long, curly pony-tail shacked up with the new doc in town who was just a few years older.

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Getting to speak to an auditorium full of students about accomplishments and challenges and plain old writing!

I’m not a one-dog, one-cat and one-ferret young Canadian with only a student visa and no hope in sight of getting a Green Card.

I’m not the step-mom of 2 cute, blonde little Canadian kids sitting at lunch with them and their friends or volunteering for track meets, watching them play softball, baking endless dozens of cookies, helping them do homework and taking them to swimming lessons or hosting Hallowe’en parties, or crafting Happy Parties for them to break through the grey skies and cold winds of a North Dakota winter.

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Our one & only Happy Party out at our farm. It was epic!

Our friends in Watford City have watched me become so many different things and while many changes have been huge our friendships have remained. I felt so lucky and loved the day we were back there and wish it could have been for longer.

Alistair and I also had things to address back on our farm in Bismarck.

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some of the herd in Bismarck

Like the horses.

They, like every other animal on the Fyfe Farm are aging and some decisions are going to have to be made.

It was good for me to see the changes he has told me about all winter and to watch how the herd moved.

To see the older mare who used to run the herd looking weedy and standing off by herself with my own eyes.

She’s not sick, she’s just old. When older horses start losing weight it can turn into a rapid deal.

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Cassie and Penner. Not on The List!

Counseling clients on end-of-life decisions with horses is different than with smaller companion animals in some respects. I often ask what the rest of the herd would do with a particular horse in question.

Would they form a circle around them to protect them like many herds do with young foals? Or would the herd move on, aware that the older or wounded individual was slowing them down, making them all easier targets for prey animals?

I believe, with this particular mare, the herd has moved on.

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Flash, Jessie and Fumie… not on The List and obviously not suffering!

Decisions were made but nothing needed to be done just yet so we got to enjoy our time together with the dogs back in Bismarck. We tried new restaurants and enjoyed old favorites. We sat with the 3 dogs in our 2 recliners sipping wine or martinis at night. Alistair chipped golf balls and we hot tubbed under a gorgeous blanket of stars each night.

We went to his clinic’s Christmas party and even though I must have missed the ‘casual attire’ memo we both looked and felt great.

And then it was time to load up 2 vehicles with boxes of books, bling, golf clubs, fancy shoes and fancy dresses, jackets and dogs.

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Rest area along hwy 200 with an enclosed dog area! Brilliant!

The trip back was much easier handling the 3 dogs with Alistair there to help.

I am sure I was a spectacle on my own trying to manage blind Loki and the other 2 wrapped around my legs or each other at the rest stops. Cleo and UB used to have leash manners but living in the middle of nowhere with an entire forest or 40 acres of prairie for a back yard we’ve let that training lapse.

Loki didn’t seem to mind my singing as she nestled into her magic blanket in the front seat for the 11 hour journey back to Montana.

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Following the Jetta through sleepy towns like Jordan along hwy 200.

And now we’re back and we had snow for 3 days which Loki wasn’t impressed with.

We have enjoyed it, though, getting out on snowshoes and the snowmobiles.

And throughout all of this our household has changed once again, which is one more reason I needed to go away to Bismarck to be with Alistair for a few days.

I’m not ready to write about this one because it broke my heart even though it wasn’t a surprise and I was alone except for 3 friends on Facebook and Alistair on the phone helping me through a very difficult act and my subsequent grief.

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Heading west, coming back to Montana, which was different yet again.

But that’s for another time.

There were so many reasons for me to load up the truck with so much stuff and 3 special spirits and I am so glad to have had the chance to once again go to our other home. The drive is long but if the companions are fun and the weather is great and the music is just right the journeys can be pretty special.

For the books. The bling. The Christmas party. The horses. The decisions. And the need to be away and the need to come back to another new normal with my support group around me.

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Packing up after a rest stop break between Circle & Jordan, MT.

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“Please don’t play the ABBA cd, Step-Gammy!”

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Snowshoe fun back in Montana!