My Sunday

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Its Winter up in the meadow!

Good grief, its been ages since I’ve blogged!

It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to, its just that I have been so flipping busy with just about every aspect of my life.

Figure Skater Me thoroughly enjoyed the annual National championships in Canada and the US in January. I didn’t get to see much televised broadcast from Canada but I was glued to the big screen a few weeks ago when the Americans vied for their crowns.

Teensy Alysa Liu repeated as a jumping phenom and the Ladies national champ yet again. She has a pretty cool story and a very dedicated father, not to mention her own high level of commitment. She also has a triple axel that makes her one of a handful of little women who can seriously challenge the pre-pubescent Russian ‘ladies’ right now.

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Getting ready to repeat as this year’s national champ! (not my photo)

Alysa seems like a fun person, and I hope she will inspire other young girls to pursue high level figure skating.

Nathan Chen…. just wow. I SO love his long program this season with the nod to Elton John. When he completes all of his jumps and finishes a spin as Benny and the Jets starts up he breaks down into the most fun-looking cool dance moves that only Nathan can pull off. I love that he lets us see a bit of who he is as a person at this point (trust me, not everyone can bust a move like this!) and it shows us he is more than just a quad-jumping master. Its worth a quick look on You Tube, for sure.

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Nathan’s long program (not my photo)

He truly is an amazing young adult what with full time studies at Yale (seriously…. Yale!) while his coach is a few states away. He trains with Raf via video and in person before the big events but even then he still has to get back to school soon afterwards. We didn’t see him at Four Continents but we will see him up in Montreal at World’s in March.

American pairs are the strongest they have been in years and our ice dancers are riding a fun wave. Chock and Bates won US Nationals and I still can’t forgive him for dumping Emily Samuelson a few years ago for Chock and I honestly don’t care for their look but the judges are loving them right now. Personally, I don’t think the judges “got” Hubbell and Donohue’s free dance which is very sexy and emotional.  Canadian ice dancers will challenge the top European dancers in Montreal as well.

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Me & my writing assistant

I am excited to announce that Writer Me has been hard at it for book 4 in my Missing Lake series. Luke and his friends are Juniors this time around (with a new classmate!) and I hope I’m catching their vibe appropriately. We have already finished the first song for their Sharing Sessions in English class and it ends on a bang, no question. Chapter 6 where the song discussion culminates was actually very draining to write but I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I’m over half-way done the book and have finished 11 chapters at 56,000 words so far. I need to chat with Ben, my talented artist and talk about what I’m thinking of for the book art this time around. The baby dragons are growing up and the entire dragon world will be facing a shake-down of their own sort as the book goes on….

But that’s all I’m going to say right now! The first 3 books are on Kindle if you haven’t had the opportunity to read them and my Amazon reviews are pretty awesome (thanks, to everyone who has reviewed them!!!)

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I think I had just finished Chapter 10 a couple of weeks ago

Realtor Me is making Writing Me a tad frustrated because I’m actually sort of busy in the world of real estate. I listed a house that I got under contract in under a week and I’m helping out of town folks finalize the purchase of a nice chunk of land for them to come and hang out on for recreational purposes.

I showed homes last weekend to a couple who are looking at retiring here in Seeley Lake and they are crunching numbers on one of them right now. I’m also getting ready to list another house here in town that will be priced to sell… to the extent I’m pretty sure it won’t last long out there.

Realtor Me is panicking about Fyfe Farm Me not being able to get into town tomorrow to get all of the listing documents signed with the seller. Its snowing and blowing like mad again and even with hubby here we aren’t sure we will be able to keep our long driveway open.

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Happening now… not sure you can see the horizontal snow…

Fyfe Farm Me has spent a fair amount of time in Big Red already this winter moving snow from here to there. Keali’i Riechel’s Hawaiian songs never get old as the big blade shoves the snow off to the sides. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment every time I plow and open the road up because I am a little girl who grew up in sparkles and spandex, whose job as a professional figure skater involved being applauded 4 times a day, 7 days a week, who never envisioned herself being capable of surviving mountain or prairie storms by herself using big machinery to save the day.

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Post-plow a few days ago.

Pet Mummy Me is loving up on the aging indoor kitties, Sport and Bebe. Sport is my #1 writing assistant and full time snuggle bug. He would be thrilled if we laid in bed or on the couch watching figure skating together or if we wrote all afternoon instead of me going to work or even just going out to plow the snow.

The barn trio is great; D’embe and Jockey seem to have come to some sort of truce. Its fun seeing Professor Higgins and D’embe snuggle up in the cat beds on the hay bales in the barn because Higgins always seemed to want to cuddle. The 2 of them are playful little brats with each other. The other day Alistair watched Higgins hide behind a pile of snow and then leap out at and onto the unsuspecting D’embe before the 2 of them ran off towards their barn. Kids!

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Professor Higgins would much rather move to indoor status this time of year.

We can’t forget that Veterinary Me remains busy, too. Almost every week I have been doing house calls for vaccines or I’ve trimmed toe nails for clients. The Angel of Darkness was set to do a sad house call for a special Retriever I had vetted since he was a puppy and I had my clinic but he sadly passed away on his own last week.

The other versions of myself keep the sad parts at bay even though I know enough to let my feelings out. Writing helps, like it did with my blog about losing Cleo.

Maybe that’s a large part about why I took such a long break between blogs.

Maybe I wanted to give Mummy Me and Veterinary Me some space from each other.

Maybe I needed to throw myself into other areas of my life and give it some time.

Maybe the ferret video on New Year’s on the Sing-song saddle was also just what I needed.

We miss Cleopatra every day.

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Some of my handiwork the other day

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Up here in the meadow….

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The sunny days are stunning up here! Right, Professor Higgins?

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Roses from the hubby for Valentine’s! Hope your day was special!

 

Clee Clee

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Clee Clee

Well.

I knew it was coming. Hell, I told you all it was coming.

And yet, part of me still wasn’t ready for what went down on the Fyfe Farm yesterday morning.

But it wasn’t about me at that point.

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Cleopatra (last year)

I helped our sweet, fuzzy Springer Spaniel, Cleo across the Rainbow Bridge.

It was Time.

And there really was no question about it, even though I would have loved for Alistair to have enjoyed the world with her in it one more time. For that matter, I would have much preferred if he was here with me as I laid in the living room by the wood stove with her.

Sometimes the question of ‘when’ is more challenging and it certainly has been over the years with a couple of the pets but yesterday when Cleo cried out when I helped her to her feet for her morning piddles and then kept crying when I tried to help her walk using a towel under her belly I knew things had changed dramatically.

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In bed a few weeks ago

She had run up to the house when I brought her in the evening before and she pranced around grabbing up the cat food dishes like always. She went outside before bed and everything was as normal as it had been for our aging canine companion.

I mean, normal has changed a lot the last several months if not years.

Cleo was almost 17 years old, as far as we know. That was her first problem.

She was also completely deaf, was beginning to lose her eyesight, had arthritis and back legs that just didn’t do what they were supposed to, and had a heart murmur that almost rivalled Loki’s.

Well, no… you could hear Loki’s murmur from across the bed.

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the Queen of heart murmurs, Loki (2017) with Cleo

I think Cleo’s murmur is what kept her from wanting to go on our long walks, or even the first-length-of-the-driveway walks the past couple of weeks.

My attitude had remained, though, that if she was eating & drinking, peeing & pooping, and wagging her bushy tail at us then who was I to step in? We had her on anti-inflammatories for her old body and we helped her onto the couch or our bed and things seemed to be going along just fine.

Until Friday morning.

She did eventually go out and managed to piddle in the snow but once she came back in she didn’t bother with her kitchen routine or anything she usually did.

She laid/fell down and remained there for what turned out to be the rest of her life.

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“I think I’m done with this body now, Mummy. I’ve used it all up.”

I called her Daddy in North Dakota and we talked and I gave her her Rimadyl and she ate it right up. I laid down next to her and spooned her like we’ve done for so many years together with my left arm draped over her side.

And I got up and cleaned the cat litter and put the cat food dish down and emailed Lynnie and lost my shit completely and got dressed and looked out at the blizzard and got a pillow and laid back down with Cleo again.

She slept a little bit but she never, ever tried to get up again.

She never thumped her tail.

She was basically done with her ancient canine body and definitely gave me a “look” the one time she lifted her head and sort of sat in a semi-sternal position when I was sitting in front of her.

Okee dokee, then.

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Helping stack the wood the last time her Daddy was here.

Cleopatra Cassiopeia Carrie Bradshaw Houdini Diamond Fyfe was as stubborn as she was beautiful and charming. Once her mind was made up, that was it.

I called Alistair one more time to let him know I was going ahead and he heard me blubber a little bit as I signed off. I had already brought my little bag of tricks into the living room and after some more cuddling Doctor Mummy gave Cleo her sedative.

I swear it took less than a minute for her to be completely out. She was ready for a much deserved long rest.

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Cleo’s “square face” look at one of the Dog Days of Summer. Classic.

Cleo had many great adventures in her however many years on the planet as a Fyfe. For starters, she lived most of those years in Montana, which is a dog’s dreamland.

We hiked and roamed the US Forest Service behind our house for miles and miles with her buddies. Casey would usually stick with Harry. Harry would sometimes take off after UB. Cleo generally did her own thing, digging holes, burying things, occasionally finding her own deer shed or two.

She Furry Scurried and entered Agility trials and the Dog Show at the annual Dog Days of Summer and she was a regular guest at the veterinary clinic because she loved her Lynnie and she was a very good dog when she was there.

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Lynnie and Cleo at the clinic

She also got to see Fireman Frank and her favorite delivery man, Matt sometimes when she came to the clinic. She even surprised all of us when she leapt up into the big brown UPS truck when Matt left the door open one time.

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“C’mon, Matt, just let me drive around town for a few blocks, okay?”

Cleo generally roamed the clinic freely during the day- a clinic dog as opposed to a clinic cat. When a client brought her squirming, squeaking, teensy box full of Schipperke puppies and put them on the examining table Cleo stood up on her back legs and had a look of wonderment on her face. Maternal instinct? Perhaps. She did lick our guinea pig, Cadbury until she was soaking wet when she got into their room one time. (The alternate theory is that she was trying to taste her.)

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Earlier this year, our snow spaniel

Cleo travelled well and eagerly jumped into our vehicles when it was time for a road trip. She seemed quite content for the 10 or 11 hours it took us to drive to Bismarck with UB and Loki on board, too.

If I was alone with all 3 of them it was probably hilarious watching me handle them on leashes when we stopped for piddle breaks. Fyfe dogs generally don’t know how to walk on leashes (although Cleo turned it on during the Furry Scurry walkathons. Casey… not so much.) (Don’t ask my dad about that.)

Before long Cleo would be wrapped around UB while UB was wrapped around my legs. It was an effort to keep them from banging into blind Loki during those rest stops but we always survived and off we would go back onto the road again.

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Back in Bismarck in 2017

All of these memories and so many more were in my mind as I spooned her again as she sedated.

I told her all of the things that needed to be said.

I told her that she was loved.

That we were the lucky ones when she showed off all her tricks at my first veterinary clinic right out of vet school in 2005 when she was brought in to be put down by Animal Control after they found her because she was aggressive. (Brilliant, yes. Aggressive? No.)

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“Wanna run around in the leaves with me, Mummy?”

I told her Uncle Gary and Aunty Dona were hoping to see her again and that she would happy to know I got those unsightly matts off of Bebe’s back leg. I told her how happy she made all of our house guests from Uncle Danny’s kids to Aunty Merielle and that she was a most excellent hiking companion.

And a flood of memories of us berry picking or riding with UB in Steve or digging for Easter Bunnies filled my hearts and a flood of tears that came from my very soul gushed out of my eyes and onto the carpet and pillow behind her head.

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Our dog kennel was very full 

And I pictured her gang greeting her again across the Rainbow Bridge with youthful bodies that matched their fabulous spirits.

UB would be first, most likely. He would race up to her and they would leap and jump in their spaniel way and he wouldn’t cough at all because his lungs are clear now and her legs are strong again.

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UB Fyfe (not my picture)

Then Loki would come crashing in but not because she was blind anymore. Cleo would most likely comment on Loki’s nice eyes and the 3 members of my little “black and white gang” who followed me around for 2 full years together would have a moment of their own.

Until Casey would literally crash in because he did everything at 150 mph and his laryngeal folds would be totally fine so there would be no raspy breathing or hacking. Harry, of course, would be spinning Louies in his extreme excitement at seeing the beautiful Princess once again. I wondered if he would pee on her head again but you know, he still is Harry.

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Oh, Harry

These thoughts make me happy despite feeling empty inside. Even though it was the absolute necessary and correct thing to do for miss Cleo. Even though her body was done.

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Ranger Riding in Steve for an Easter picnic several years ago

The routine is different.

I didn’t go and get her after the ferrets had been put back to bed last night. I didn’t make a point to get up and let her out this morning.

And right now, as the daylight is darkening, I’m not thinking, “Gee, I need to get Cleo out for a walk and get her and the barn kitties fed.”

Well, no, actually. I did think that as I was typing a few minutes ago. I keep thinking there is something I have to do.

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Back in Bismarck with Daddy in 2015

No.

I already did what had to be done.

And Cleopatra is at peace. And you know what? So are we.

I’m glad it was on my shift at  home and not Alistair’s by himself or one of our Jessica or Lynn house-sitters.

I’m glad we didn’t have company.

And as glad as I am to have the skill set that I have that allowed me to neuter D’embe last week, I’m glad Cleo could continue to lay where her body told her to.

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“What do you think we should do now, Jockey?”

Her lilting southern accent and slight lisp will still talk to us just as much as Spirit of Loki and Spirit of UB do and I’m already able to laugh at some of the goofy stuff she would do.

Like the bloody “mouse” she had in her mouth that turned out to NOT be a mouse or when she, Harry and Casey were getting to know each other (“There will be NO GANG BANGS on the FYFE FARM!”) or the time she kept trying to shove my head under water in the hot tub. Walks with Angie and Kali make me smile and seeing her snuggle up with Alistair when she first came onto our farm or watching her love up on all of the barn kitties are precious memories.

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Before we moved to Montana

Indeed, we were the lucky ones when she chose to stick around and join our motley crew of misfits.

You are in our hearts forever, miss Cleo. Clee Clee. Cleopatra-siz.

RIP, old friend. Thanks for sharing the journey with us.

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the hot tub incident a few years ago

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Dog Days of Summer 2012, I think

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Getting ready for our first 4th of July parade!

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Cleo & her Daddy loved Ranger Riding in Steve (2008)

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Family Photo at Dog Days (Harry found these events a tad stressful so he stayed home) (Gary Kyrouac’s photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tall Tails in Fyfe Life

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the Fyfe Bee Gees, (aka the trio of trouble!)

I’ve been working on that whole ‘few versions of myself’ lately although the one I miss the most is the golfer.

Our local course closed in October and today’s little snow squall is just another reminder of what season it is. While it hasn’t been as cold as it could be for December we have had some cold snaps where it takes way longer to get dressed to go outside than it does in August. Heck, in the summer we just slide our feet into our sandals and away we go. This time of year you have to choose which jacket or coat to wear, and layer on a scarf with a toque and don’t forget the gloves!

And then its a question of which gloves to wear based on the activity you’re heading outside to do. Are we stacking or splitting wood? Are we driving into town? Are we getting more cat food out for the barn kitties? When you live on a ranch like we do you have to consider all of these things!

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Professor Higgins, asking Maurice and Andy to open the door.

I’ve been the pet Mummy- a role I absolutely cherish. Of course this time of year the outside cats submit their resumes for indoor status. Professor Higgins leaps up to the kitchen door (there are no stairs there yet) and sits there, pathetically meowing for us to let him in.

He has never been loose in the house with the ferrets but he has such a kind, sweet soul- I think they would all be fine.

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Higgy-in-the-house today

Higgins is no dummy. He worked me over easily enough and right now he is enjoying his second day of walk-about inside the house. So far so good. Babs and him made some noise the first time he was in and Sport had to pull the Siamese noise-making thing but hopefully his very large self will be a very large presence within the house at some point.

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Christmastown, 2019!

I’ve been a whimsical home owner lately- Alistair and I got Christmastown set up around Thanksgiving and it brings a huge smile to my face when I get it all going at night. Its the perfect little fantasy town for me- we have several ice rinks, an animal shelter, a pet portrait studio, grooming and boarding facilities, a brew pub and fun shopping places.

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All things animal-related in Christmastown!

Dogs and cats are all over the place as this is a very pet-friendly little community. The doggy daycare and portrait studio are brand new this year, along with a charming clock tower and barn house. The barn is next to the cozy little log cabin where I like to think Fyfe Life, Fantasy-version takes place.

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Fyfe Life in Christmastown?

The Me in this community gets to be a vet at the barn just like the Me in real life got to be a veterinarian again today, too. Well, veterinary surgeon to be more specific.

My good friend, Jessie, who was my veterinary assistant when I still had the clinic, stopped by this morning and Operation NutsBeGone commenced with the new stray cat, D’embe (formerly known as Lava), starring in the lead role.

(We are huge fans of The Blacklist and the character, D’embe on the show…. the name just seemed to better suit our little kitty who has hung around for a few weeks now.)

I had the drugs to knock him out although, admittedly, expiration dates were long past for one of them. I figured if he didn’t sedate appropriately then we’d just try again another day with new drugs. But he sedated beautifully and D’embe is neutered and vaccinated and currently in a crate in our heated garage as the drugs wear off. Special thanks to Dr.Kelly in Nevada for the excellent drug dosages for our cute little guy.

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Immediately post-op. He’s sitting up now.

I’m hopeful D’embe and Jockey can come to terms where they don’t whack at each other. Jockey was neutered as a kitten but he has always had a bit of toughness to him. While he can be sweet and adoring purring away in my arms I have heard him and D’embe get into it. D’embe started at least one of the altercations that I witnessed but I think Jockey came out on top of that one. Neither kitty has needed Clavamox yet but its here if we do.

I’m hoping the neutering will calm the little fella down. He isn’t aggressive towards Jockey or Higgins most of the time and they all eat and sleep together in the barn where I lock them up each night.

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“Look, Sport, just go tell Mum to open the door, okay?”

I have also been a writer again lately, which is where the ‘tall tales’ of the title comes from. (Well, I wrote ‘tail’, didn’t I? See what I did just there?)

My main goal for this winter is to complete the 4th book in my Missing Lake series. I am 42,000 words and 8 1/2 chapters in. I worry that I might have too much I want to include but then sometimes the characters take the book on a different journey than what I have planned in my head.

So many readers what the character, Josh to come back. But Josh can’t come back. He was never supposed to come back. His mom is in witness protection and they take that stuff seriously. When they left Missing Lake in book 2 that was supposed to be it and Luke had to learn that life sucks sometimes.

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Maurice helped me celebrate hitting 41,000 words the other day! Bonjour!

I have been thoroughly enjoying the writing again. Last winter I was learning all about life as a realtor and I had 3 transactions that kept me on my toes from September through January and then some more after that. I didn’t get into a writing rhythm, and, in the end, I’m glad I stopped the process. When I took the book up again this fall I re-wrote a few things and I’m really happy about the direction I’m going this time around.

It wasn’t that what I had written was wrong or that it wasn’t good. Its that the version of life in Missing Lake right now is that much better.

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My lap right now as I’m writing and also how I write my novels.

I’m certainly less distracted this time around and I feel more confidant not being at the real estate office from 9-5 almost every day. Those were my very first transactions last year, though, and I’m so glad I gave everything I could to get things to closing.

I don’t have any specific transactions on the go right now so that allows more time to socialize pets, set up sparkly, musical little fantasy holiday towns and invite my friends over to help me neuter a new cat on our freezer during a snow storm.

I’m also watching a friend at the NFR get bucked around on a bronc in Vegas and the figure skating Grand Prix Final. All these parts of being Me are fun but my reporting on the skating world will have to wait for another time. Professor Higgins wants to go back outside and D’embe won’t be too far behind. Now that he’s donated his reproductive organs at the door I will live up to my promise to keep him warm, loved and well-fed.

Now, which gloves and jacket are required for carrying a kitty down to the barn?

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Post-op. He’s up and chatting now.

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“Do you think I’m a bit cross-eyed, Mummy?”

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In honor of our old black lab companion, Casey. Always makes us smile!

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The ice rink where it all began and a gift shop (with its own Christmastown in the window) and the brew pub, complete with Santa flying around a Christmas tree. What’s not to love?

 

Timing

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Working “the floor” at the realty office the other day

I know I’ve talked about timing and the various stages of our lives we find ourselves in. I’ve talked about beginnings and endings and I have shared my thoughts on every step in-between.

And I’ve shared many endings and how I have the ability to be a part of choosing the when’s and how’s of these events. I have had the chance to say a couple more goodbyes for clients and their families recently and while it is never an easy thing to do, I always try to make sure it is absolutely the right thing to do.

I’ve been lucky to share some fun and wonderful and maybe even silly beginnings- like the 3 Bee Gee Fyfe ferrets who brought mayhem and shenanigans back to the Fyfe house just about one year ago. Barry, Maurice and Andy make us laugh on a daily basis and I’m so happy to make you a part of the sunrise of their lives with us!

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The boys… if only there was some way they could tell me where Alistair was…

(Because goofing off with ferrets is absolutely the right thing to do!)

A few friends have had the opportunity to visit and play with this current trio-of-trouble. They were fascinated with baby Paige’s clothing, car seat and other baby acoutrements when we let them out during our celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving. Auntie Merielle’s recent photo shoots with them and their girlfriend, Fallon captured their unique and mischievous personalities one and all. And Barry clearly forgets the No Bite rule when houseguests like Joel and Jeanette stop by.

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Professor Higgins hanging out by the campfire pit with Jockey

It has been great sharing Professor Higgins and his journey onto the Fyfe Farms in ND and eventually here in Montana. He continues to be a delightful, squeaky little friend who leaps into the air for a scritch on his forehead whenever he sees you.

And now we have yet another potential new beginning in the works.

An intact, very friendly black tomcat has been hanging around and it doesn’t look like he has any plans on leaving.

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Out front a couple of evenings ago

We have both been able to pick him up and cuddle with him and last night we allowed him a little bit of living room time with us (we blocked off the rest of the house so he wouldn’t terrorize Sport, Bebe or the ferrets.)

He is extremely affectionate with his purrs and kneading of his paws and seems to really appreciate the cat food we provide for him.

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Lava on the coffee table last night

We’ve named him Lava and so far he is getting along with Jockey and Higgins. We aren’t sure if Lava has made it to the open barn during the day but we haven’t locked him up inside at night with the boys yet. I’d like to get him neutered before we do that.

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Lava doesn’t have any trouble cuddling with us

Its funny to think that we were contemplating a time without any pets a couple of years ago. I’m fairly certain most people who know us shook their heads and rolled their eyes when I suggested a pet-less Fyfe Farm but we had a rough couple of years during Attrition and our hearts were sore.

While I doubt we’ll ever be back up to 5 dogs, 3 ferrets, 2 guinea pigs and 8+ cats again it is fun getting to know the new fur babies as their suns rise on our world bringing brightness and warmth to our lives.

But that’s where the thoughts of Timing come back into play.

Because I fear it is twilight for a couple of our special friends.

Or maybe its even getting close to sunset for one of them.

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Bebe, getting in a few zzz’s right now.

This is where our sweetie, Bebe is right now as I type.

Its not unusual for any Fyfe kitty to be curled up in one of their cat beds on the warm heated floors but she is doing it more in different places.

Like in UB’s old dog kennel in the garage where there are towels and a soft blankie and the concrete floors are heated there, too. It is almost as if she is choosing to be away from the hustle & bustle of our daily routines.

Bebe was never an interactive cat (most of our houseguests of old have never even met her… she had the distinction of being seen scrambling to get away from strangers as they cried out, “there she is!”) but that changed after we lost Boomer a few years ago.

Bebe became a chatty, personable, quirky little companion with a penchant for Greenies who liked cuddling on the couch and sunbeaming whenever she could.

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Babs, Sport and I during Couch Time this fall

But she isn’t as into Couch Time the last few nights and she has lost more weight and both of us think twilight is upon her. She also isn’t as into her canned food that we dutifully provide every night.

She did, however, jump up on the bed the last 2 mornings to visit and cuddle and she still wants her Greenies. Just not the chicken flavored ones. I’m giving those ones to Lava, Jockey and Higgins right now.

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Exactly how are those Greenies getting down here?

Bebe. Babs. Fabulous Babulous. Lutefisk Babs.

She is going on 17 years and I did find what I thought was a cancerous growth in her mouth a few months ago so none of this is surprising.

Upsetting and sad but not surprising.

And she is not suffering at all. Everyone reading this knows my rules on that. As long as we’re eating, drinking, peeing & pooping and enjoying our lives pain free then we are good to go.

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Cleopatra… also still good to go.

Like Cleo, who is also in the twilight of her life.

Cleopatra is at least 15 years old, which is her first problem.

The spaniel who ran throughout the mountains of Montana for most of her life with her Lab, Husky and Bostonocker Sperrier buddies has rear legs that don’t do what they’re supposed to do some of the time now.

Well, maybe much of the time.

She also has canine cognitive dysfunction which basically means she’s losing her marbles.

It is endearing but there might come a time this winter when life is too confusing for her or those back legs just decide to give out altogether.

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Snoozing in bed a couple of weeks ago

Right now I can get her onto and off of the bed and she generally sleeps all night long (being completely deaf helps with that.) She still loves her kibbles and sliced cheese and the “Rimmies” are gobbled up for their taste as well as their anti-inflammatory benefits. And her tail wags in big circles when she prances down the hallway with her Daddy in the morning.

Our Southern Belle will hopefully be able to get through to her Mummy if Doctor Mummy isn’t able to. I guess I’ve always been able to talk myself to it and through it but I’m not looking forward to any goodbyes at this point.

The tears in my eyes and on my cheeks are what we were trying to avoid when we talked about a pet-less world.

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the Bee Gees, fluffed and buffed post-shower a few weeks ago

But there is less happiness and laughter in a pet-less world, at least on the Fyfe Farm.

(Or, Fyfe Farm for Wayward Pets… as Lava’s presence is reminding us.)

And who am I to prioritize less crying and heartache over cuddling with a purring warm kitty cat on a cold night or spooning with Cleo or Sport in bed or trying to bathe wiggling, seemingly spine-less creatures with pointy noses and sharp canine teeth?

I have shared with many clients over the years the importance of realizing that you will probably outlive your pet when you enter into a new relationship. And that’s okay. Its part of the deal.

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My Nan and Miss Cleo several years ago at my Dog Days of Summer

So hopefully we can provide a prolonged twilight for our girls right now and continue to enjoy the sunrise of Lava (with a little snip-snip in the near future!)

And we’ll continue to make sure to provide everything we can for our furry little buddies.

As good as we can for as long as we can, right?

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Oh, Fabulous Babulous! I love this picture of her!

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“Dude, is this leather or ‘pleather’?”

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Professor Higgins coming in for head butts with Daddy this past spring

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I’m not even going to go here. He’s purring on my lap as I type…. xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fyfe’s Farm for Wayward Cats (and Unwed Mothers)

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Professor Higgins

I have visited this theme before over the past few years of writing this blog.

In our 25 years together, Alistair and I have shared our homes with, cared for, and loved 22 cats.

22. Cats.

I would have fallen over in laughter if you would have told me, as a kid, that I would someday be a Crazy Cat Lady but there you  have it.

I can’t blame being a veterinarian for how we ended up with so many feline Fyfe companions. Oh, sure, our cross-eyed, lilac-point Siamese senior, Mae Mae was a euthanasia-turned-hyperthyroid surrender but the majority of our cat buddies have settled into Fyfe Life through a variety of other means.

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Pretty little Mae Mae

Koshka, our first cat, was placed on my lap by a very young Gareth and Whitney back in 1995 and thus began my new life as a cat lover. Malchek joined her by just showing up at our house in Watford City and suddenly we were a “multiple cat household.”

Friends would have litters and we’d take one or two (or the entire litter) because we always had farmland and with farmland you always have mice. Besides, when you’re feeding 3 or 4 cats, what’s one more?

Back to Canada with Koshka, Malchek, Oscar, Boomer & Garter in 1996, then back to North Dakota with Oscar, Boomer, Chorney & Cooper in 1997.

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Cooper, Boom-Boom and Oscar a few years ago

We always suspected that our farm in Bismarck was/is a great place for drop-off kitties. Scruffy and sassy young Mulder arrived there out of the blue, just like our little Tuxedo cat, Jinxie did.

Mamma Cat showed up complete with a belly full of kitties but she actually hung around for a year and produced a second belly full of kitties. We had kept the first ones but managed to re-home all but one of the second litter.

Sport was actually given to us by one of Alistair’s nurses as her new husband was allergic. HRH Sporto even got to move to Saskatoon with Cooper and me for my four years of vet school!

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Drs Cory, Pat, Nate and Tan with our co-editor, Sport working on an edition of the TOOL newsletter in Saskatoon in 2004

So it was that Oscar, Boomer, Chorney, Cooper, Mulder, Sport, Jinx, Bebe, Hissy Phitt Georgia and Mouse made the move to our house in Montana at the very beginning of 2007. Of those, Sport, at 19, and Bebe, at 16 remain. (2015 and 2016 were two tough years we renamed Attrition… it was hard on the canine, ferret and guinea pig populations on the Fyfe Farm, too. Grab a box of Kleenex and go through some old blogs from back then if you have a hankering for a good cry.)

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Mulder in Bismarck back in the day

While we were moving from one sad departure to another during Attrition, we both had the silly notion that we were going to be animal-less for a few years.

We would be free to travel at a moment’s notice!

Imagine the money we’d save!

No more heartache!

Until Alistair was in the hot tub in Bismarck one night talking with me on the phone when a fairly well-fed tabby cat waltzed up to the tub and proceeded to mew at him. He continued mewing post-hot tub and then sauntered on into the house without much coaxing soon afterwards.

We called veterinary clinics, shelters and neighbors but nobody knew whose friendly cat this was so a couple of weeks later, Professor Higgins joined us here in Montana.

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Professor Higgins and I in the barn this winter.

Higgins stays outside with Jockey for now. Seasoned Crazy Cat Ladies know that its unwise to introduce new cats who have all of their claws to the senior cats who are minus their foreclaws.

And Santa Alistair re-introduced ferrets into Fyfe Life but if you’ve followed along here or on Facebook you already know that.

What got me going on this today is the new stray that has been hanging around our farm in Bismarck this spring and summer.

We’ve caught magical glimpses of him/her that are becoming more and more prolonged as time goes on because we’ve been providing dry and moist cat food for him/her since the spring.

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Last week- lingering longer and longer.

Basically, we don’t see the cat. I say “we” because I was back there this summer and I did see her through the window of our front door but it was fleeting at best. Primarily its Alistair doing the ground work to try to tame this little lion.

So he tries to keep a bowl of Science Diet dry food topped up in the barn where the kitty lives and a smaller bowl up by the front steps here plus he adds a tin of soft food daily which is how he’s trying to coax the stranger up to him.

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Someone really wants this fresh tin of soft food but someone knows Alistair is immediately behind the door….

Weeks ago the cat would never have come up this close knowing full well that the biped who provides the food (and dings the plate every single time hoping beyond hope for the eventual Pavlovian response that all of the Fyfe cats develop thanks to said dinging) is right behind the door.

Sometimes Alistair sits out on the step with the fresh tin of food and kitty (he calls him, Whitey…. I was hoping for Billy, or Billie if its female… you know, The Stranger… anyone? anyone?) is down by the barn watching him. He/she used to just run off at the sight of anyone but he is lingering more and more in hopes the biped will buzz off and let him eat his yummy tinned food alone.

This one night, though, Whitey decided the food was more important than fear or mistrust so Alistair got the best picture we have of our new friend yet!

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Whitey Fyfe?

As much of a big step as this was, it was nothing compared to what Whitey did only a couple of mornings later. Alistair went outside after a rainy night and found a present from our little red & white friend.

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A present from Whitey

Hey. This means they’re in a relationship, Alistair and Whitey.

I mean it. Cats don’t give presents to just anybody.

Kind of like that line in Dances With Wolves….  “Good. Trade.”

So it is that we remain Fyfe’s Farm for Wayward Cats and Unwed Mothers. Hopefully Whitey will try to trust Alistair more and more and hopefully he will keep working on limiting the rodent population that grew ever since all the other Fyfe felines moved to Montana.

It would be great if he is already altered, like Jinx and Professor Higgins were, but maybe he’s a scruffy tough guy like Mulder who hasn’t had much human care.

Regardless, he has a warm, dry barn to hang out in as long as he would like and we’ll keep making sure he has food.

And we’ll keep you all posted on the felines of the Fyfe farms along the way.

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Sporto a couple of nights ago

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Bebe, our resident Sunbeamer

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Jockey enjoying the winter sun… possibly a relative of Whitey’s?

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Babs and Sport on my lap a few nights ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Melancholy Moment

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Finally on our local golf course last week!

Normally, 99.999% of the time, this is me. Not the wine glass- that’s maybe 25% of the time and as much as I wish golf was 100% that isn’t the case, either. But I’m normally smiling, laughing, joking around and happy.

(As I type that I’m trying desperately to do the math to make sure I don’t sound like a flaming alcoholic… should that be 20%? 15% Will my friends laugh and think I underestimated?)

Driving home along muddy gravel roads with 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom potholes in the rain to a husband-less house on Friday, however, I had a moment of melancholy.

I had a few tears.

It wasn’t a pity party by any stretch. It actually had to do with some sadness.

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a couple of weeks ago before the golf course opened

I had done a house call that morning where I helped friends say goodbye to their special canine companion. It was necessary, it was an act of kindness and it was done for all the right reasons. It was also beautiful and peaceful if such an event can be.

It was Time.

But after having done this recently with a few other special canines I realized I have been the veterinarian in this community long enough that I have known these animals their entire lives. And now I’m saying sad goodbyes to some of them.

I was the Easy Cheese lady back when we did 3 sets of the distemper combo and handed out puppy kits.

I spayed and neutered them.

They were participants in my puppy parties.

And they came to the Dog Days of Summer every year.

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UB and Loki at one of the Dog days of Summer

While not all of the recent patients of the Angel of Darkness were puppies when I met them, they were still my patients for several years. It just felt kind of heavy and it all hit me at one specific moment yesterday.

The rainy, dark skies and the cooler temperatures after being teased with sunshine and golf games recently probably didn’t help.

I did allow myself time to think about and process each of the friends I had to help over the Rainbow Bridge and I think veterinarians just simply need to do this from time to time. Sure, I have all sorts of fabulous coping mechanisms- I keep a journal; I share my feelings here and with clients; I play golf; I laugh a LOT; I joke around a LOT; I have ferrets who I talk to in a variety of accents; I don’t take myself seriously; I have a tremendously understanding husband; I write; I have the Aloha hot tub with tiki torches; I drink wine; yadda, yadda….

But veterinarians have enough to worry about in this career that we need to be able to let ourselves emote, from time to time, about stuff that’s just plain sad.

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Fabulous Babulous

It probably also doesn’t help that I found what I believe to be an oral tumor in sweet Bebe’s mouth the other day. She’s fine, though, eating & drinking & bitching at us for her morning Greenies and everything is normal but Dr.Mummy knows its not right.

And she’s lost some weight.

And her hair coat is a bit poor.

But Mummy-me isn’t going to change a thing until Babs gives us a reason to.

Like my clients’ pets did.

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Getting ready for the Furry Scurry a few years ago

The noble Bernese Mountain Dog began limping enough that her parents knew the recently diagnosed bone cancer in her forelimb was taking over.

She walked less and less and started to eat a bit less.

I had done her puppy vaccines and spayed her and fixed her umbilical hernia. She was a puppy party participant and kind of just watched the goofy Labradors and goldens flying around the clinic (although she eventually gave in and played a bit, too.)

She attended Dog Days of Summers and did the Furry Scurry and she hiked in the mountains of Montana and played with her sister and swam in clear rivers and creeks and eventually accepted the newest little sister and she ate like a queen and she lounged outside her house and she loved the heck out of her dad and her new  mom and she was on the greatest adventure ever until it was Time.

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Another Furry Scurry getting ready to go!

Then there was the adorable, 16 year old Yorkie who made it pretty clear to his parents that it was Time. I knew him since I moved here and he and his canine siblings lived a lovely life with their parents. I got to see pictures of him in the basket of the 4-wheeler looking like he was the happiest big dog in a little dog’s body ever. His entire small community knew him and he even got to help out at the bar his folks owned a lot of the time.

I know a lot of hearts were broken when I helped him across the bridge with his mom and dad right there, holding him, rubbing him. Like his mom said, “It isn’t about us anymore, its about him.” It was Time.

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My Nan and the Princess, Cleopatra at a Dog Days of Summer many moons ago

My friends and I had known Sprocket’s time was coming because he was ancient. Most working sled dogs live a great, active life but they rarely make it to 15 years of age but this noble old athlete did and he did it was grace and style. Maybe not with the greatest hair coat in the world but he aged beautifully until he didn’t.

Sprocket was one of their competitive dogs who loved what he did. A Siberian Husky who I respected as both an athlete and a good dog, he started having trouble with his back legs recently. He would rally and we would stop checking to see if I was going to be in town and a few more weeks would pass.

Until the morning when the dog who had run his heart out and played with his yard mates and really liked his injectable anesthesia when he needed it and was one of the alligator bacteria patients years ago let his folks know they needed to come up to the farm for one final visit with Dr.Fyfe.

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Good times with good friends at a Dog Days of Summer

And Friday morning we laid the final dog of a litter of pups I was particularly close to to rest.

The beautiful litter of Great Dane puppies was in trouble from the start when their mom died within days of their birth. We knew it was a challenge to get enough groceries into such a rapid-growing breed but several members of the community were up to the task. It was daunting at best because without much immunity from not having their mom’s milk they couldn’t be exposed to many people so it was a small group who fed, cleaned, rested, and fed the puppies again. Most of the folks who were part of the feeding team became owners of these huge puppies and all but one stayed within our community.

My rep with Royal Canin happily consulted her team of nutritionists and those pups thrived on canned Recovery and wow, what a gorgeous group of dogs they turned into.

On April 22nd, 2009, my surgeon friend from Great Falls came by and he helped me spay and gastropexy the three females, which I had never done before. The three giants laid in a blanketed assembly line as they recovered and it was a pretty special day.

Until the curse of being a Great Dane took over and we lost the father and all of the other siblings over the years.

Generally they aren’t a long-lived breed but Bella made it to 10 years. Until Friday morning, when it was Time.

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Dog Show winners in the “Working Dog” class at one of our later Dog Days

Each and every family I cried with are friends. I’ve had coffees, lunch and supper dates and I’ve supported their buisnesses and I think most of them have read my books.

I counselled them about when to spay, what brand of foods to eat and I dispensed dewormers and did house calls and I sutured them up or took sutures out and I watched relationships grow and flourish even if there was some testing along the way and I shared the beginning, middle and now end of some beautiful lives with special people and their beloved companions and I know how very hard it was to make the decisions they made and I respect all of them for it while knowing how hard their hearts hurt.

Sometimes the making of the decision and acknowledging that it is Time is the hardest part of all. Or maybe its when I ask if my friends are ready… because they will truly never, ever be ready.

I am privileged to get to share the amazing human-animal bond that makes us choose to get another puppy and raise them and love them and care for and guide them through their magical lives as they become perfect middle-aged best friends until they gradually become beloved senior citizens.

My own heart gets wrung out every time we have had to make the decision to send our furry friends on their final adventure.

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Pretty little Bebe Fyfe

I hope I get to have more time to spend with Babs before its Time. Heck, Cleopatra, our Springer is at least 15 and is having her own set of issues. I’m trying not to think about it but I may have to face what Sitka, Danny, Sprocket and Bella’s parents all had to face just recently sooner rather than later.

And I’ll be okay.

Just like all of my friends will.

And every single other pet parent out there who has to face facts when you start making a list of all of the last things you’ll be doing with your buddy.

There are those coping mechanisms.

There is that magnificent hubby and many great friends.

And there is the knowledge that when the sadness is so great it means the love was that great as well.

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Local Coping Mechanism just opened the back 9 last week.

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One of the Furry Scurry’s along the highway in town!

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3 new Coping Mechanisms screwing around in Papa’s clean jeans.

 

Career Combos

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I don’t do it every day but this week I have had 2 such days.

Days where some of my careers combine and I have to pull various drawers out of the back of my mind to access the stored data that’s in them.

Like today, for example.

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Me, at the office right now

I’m on the floor at our real estate office today, which means I man the storefront. We are always open on Saturdays and soon, during the busier tourist season, we will also have someone on the floor on Sundays, too.

But today it was just me and a colleague who was catching up on some paperwork. Then our boss came in and soon after that a client I met up with a few days ago for his dog’s rabies vaccines came in. He was thanking me and then 2 friends from the local animal shelter stopped by knowing I still had vaccines in our fridge here. I vaccinated Betty, the cute little Schipperke and also ended up selling a couple of books to them. (Smart author, keeping books available at all times!)

I brought it back full circle by showing some vacant property this afternoon to a fun couple who happened to call in yesterday when I was also on the floor.

I guess I could have sold a necklace or a pair of earrings and given figure skating advice to someone. That would have made it a full meal deal of careers in one day.

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Our local golf course a couple of evenings ago… flags aren’t up yet

Playing golf is out of my hands at the moment but I have never been paid to play so golf isn’t exactly a career.

More like a hobby. Or a passion. Or a disease…

The media had predicted the bottom falling out of the housing/real estate market before the New Year and even into January but we are all enjoying a bit of an up-tick in interest and transactions right now.

I listed a super cute house right in Seeley Lake that is just wonderful, especially when you get inside. It is owned by friends who live out of state and I am proud to represent it. While it looks like it could be 5 bedrooms I can only list it as 3 because of the septic permit (you learn so many things when you become a realtor!) The fully finished basement is huge. Like, pool-table huge and the 26′ x 48′ detached garage kicks ass.

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My cute new listing on Hickory lane!

It is at the end of a cul-de-sac with a vacant lot next to it and the tall fenced backyard adds to the privacy.  It has a bright, open kitchen-dining-living room with new granite counter tops and lots of room for storage.

I’m super excited about hosting my second-ever Open House here on May 3rd. I’m excited because I enjoy planning social gatherings and they are fun to put together but I’m mostly excited because I am eager to show off this terrific home. Most of our snow has melted and the rains we have been having will hopefully get everything looking bright, fresh and green in the next couple of weeks.

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Awesome fenced backyard (not my photo)

It is a super investment property, too, as the community of Seeley Lake (and the surrounding area) is really low on rental inventory. We are low on sales inventory but decent rentals are close to impossible to find. My animal shelter people said its the same in the community of Potomac where they live- they have a long list of people looking for somewhere to rent right now.

I’m still spending a lot of time laughing in this real estate gig so that’s a bonus. I laughed for 3 days straight a couple of weekends ago helping my rock star couple from Texas (the Olympic figure skater and the Champion cowboy) (see what I did just there?) find their dream home in the Bitterroot Valley.

I laughed with the couple I met just today as we hiked around in the soft drizzle looking at 2.78 acres here in town. He’s a builder and there are a few parameters we have to consider when thinking about septics and wells.

They, like my rock stars out of Texas, are getting married soon and I’m honored to be a part of each couple’s future dreams.

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Dressing it up last weekend!

The real estate career path also took us to Whitefish, Montana last weekend for Clearwater Montana Property’s annual “Revival”. (When everyone last year was talking about Revival I honestly thought it was some religious event they all attended, which was odd given the parties involved but hey, I don’t judge.)

Even the name “Revival” implies we need reviving… like we need life support… and maybe after 15 or 20 years of long, quiet winters trying to sling real estate I might feel that way this time of year but I am definitely still feeling ramped up from when I started close to a year ago in this biz.

We had some continuing education and some great tips on apps for photography not to mention the team launch of our new website (www.cmpmontana.com) (its hot! check it out!), but the best part of my time in Whitefish was the networking and being able to put faces to the names I have worked with in this fun company.

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Carey & I taking the dress code to new heights

The ladies of our office all agreed to spice it up for the final awards banquet, too, which the figure skater in me loves doing. (Who am I kidding? You all knew I was going to dress up regardless but how fun to have a band of beauties to hand out with!) My friend and colleague, Carey Kanavel even wore brand new Chloe & Isabel sparkly earrings with her incredible gown (she did earn a top 10 sales achievement award, after all!)

And then this week I was able to combine Dr.Tanya Fyfe with Tanya Fyfe, REALTOR yet again when we hosted our annual gift-giving reception at the local Double Arrow Lodge. With each transaction we close, we all donate a certain percentage to the local non-profit of our choice.

I closed 2 transactions in 2018 and the donation proceeds went to Paws Up Safe Home, our local animal shelter (which is how Hazel came to know that I would be on the floor today and able to do Betty’s vaccines.) I know, I know, its confusing, but if you stick with each story long enough it all wraps around and into itself and makes sense!

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Jo and Hazel with me after receiving their check this past week at our reception

While my brain had felt a little bit full over a year ago when I officially started in real estate I think I have finally fit the various aspects of the various careers into their particular drawers and I almost always know which ones to go to when asked questions.

I am also going to make time to write and hopefully get closer to finishing book 4 in my Missing Lake series. I’m only 4 chapters in but they are solid and fun and I have enjoyed hanging out with Luke and his friends again. The silver dragon has made an appearance (and a big announcement!) so far as well and I need to get back to ‘the middle of nowhere’ with them soon.

For now, though, I have another 30 minutes of floor detail and then I’m back on the floor on Monday. If you’re around town on May 3rd from 1-4pm, stop by 155, Hickory lane- I will have snacks and refreshments and even if you’re not in the market I would still love to hear your feedback. And maybe you know someone who might know someone. In all of my careers, from figure skating to the veterinary world, to bling slinging, writing and now real estate, everything is all about connections and I’m so glad you have connected with me again here!

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Half an hour more to go today!

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Getting that sign jammed in there a couple of weeks ago!

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view from the backyard of my cute listing on Hickory! (not my photo)

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Me and my hot date in Whitefish!