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October 20, 2011
Like An Acid Trip Without The Acid

I’ve been home for a month.

The night I came down I slept in the trailer in the driveway.  The next morning, I walked into my house in my underwear since all my clothes from the mountain were packed – easier to just get clean duds from my closet.  I caught my reflection in the large mirror I have and – this is going to sound so vain – I just stared at myself, at my body, for like five minutes.  The only mirror I’d seen myself in for three months was the rearview mirror of my truck; occasionally a glimpse of my reflection in my dusty truck’s windows.  Weird.  Mirrors are WEIRD when you’ve not been around the for a while.

I had a similar experience with a chocolate bar.  Chocolate, after three months without, gets you so blissed out and high!  It took me three days to eat the whole thing (and it wasn’t even king size), square by square, like in old-timey stories.

* * *

September 25, 2011
Coming Down

I moved everything and everyone off the mountain in one day. I didn’t want to drag it out going back and forth for a week; it was time to come down and so I just ripped the bandaid off, so to speak. It actually went really smoothly, except for when I was driving my truck down and my brakes went out. Knowing you have a 4000′ decent ahead of you and no brakes is a tiny bit stressful. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Mike came up in the morning with the horsetrailer and we loaded the bovines and drove them down first. We took the back road off the mountain so I didn’t have to see any other cars (or trucks, in this instance; a car could not travel the road we took). Even so, I started feeling WEIRD as we approached the valley ~ it was my first time down since I had left! At one point, clutching the armrest, I turned to Mike and said, “You’re driving really fast,” and then immediately looked at the spedometer. He was going 15 mph.

CULTURE SHOCK. A truck going 15mph down a dirt road feels incredibly speedy when you’ve only traveled on foot for months.

When we pulled up in front of my house, I started crying ~ and they were not tears of joy. But that’s part of the process ~ I wrote about my “starting” process, maybe I’ll write a post about the ending process too. Later….

We let the cattle out and they were like, “Here? OK, cool,” and started eating grass so Mike and I headed right back up the mountain. I slid onto the floor of his truck under the dashboard to finish crying and then I was over it, at least for the rest of the day.

We broke down Charlie’s fence and drove Charlie and Chloe home next. Charlie traveled SO WELL. Both on the way up and the way down, he sat calmly and looked out the window the whole time. And Chloe loves riding in trucks. We got them settled at home and then went up the mountain for the final time. Mike hooked his truck to the Gypsy Trailer and I loaded my truck with my hear and the cats and we started down. The sun was just setting. And then my brakes went out. Completely vanished. Nada.

It wasn’t as bad as it sounds ~ I put my truck in 4×4 Low and first gear and that kept me at a steady 4mph or so! The drive that should have taken 1.5 hours took 3.5 hours. But the cats were curled up in a pile on my lap and I was on the back road so there were no other vehicles and honestly, I was in no hurry to get all the way off the mountain, anyway.

It was 10:30pm when I pulled up in front of my house. Mike unhitched the Gypsy Trailer in the driveway and I went directly from my truck to the trailer (with the cats) and slept the night there ~ I didn’t even go into my house.

What a perfect summer. Have I said that already? It was bliss. I feel like I de-aged ten years.

* * *

September 12, 2011
The Blog Spot

I walk half a mile through the woods to an area where the trees thin out and the land suddenly drops off straight ahead. There’s a view of the valley + beyond, and this is where I get cell reception – to make phone calls, check email, and post blogs. When I have to be “on the computer”, this is a pretty wonderful spot in which to do it.

* * *

September 8, 2011
Eating Here

There’s an older sheep rancher in town who is beloved by everyone, and each summer, everyone who gardens brings him some of their bounty, almost like offerings to a god, so that by August and September, every surface of his house is covered in fresh vegetables.

Mike was helping him move hay the other day and he gave Mike a box of corn, tomatoes, and cukes to bring to me. Glorious! Before I even gave Mike a proper hello I was tearing the husk off an ear of corn and devouring it raw. Mike had never seen anyone eat raw corn before and reported this to the old rancher, who declared I must be half raccoon.  So, what have I been eating all summer?

Thanks to Daisy, I have an endless supply of milk, and thanks to my earlier “adventures in milk”, I have cheese every day, too. Mike brings meat when he comes to visit. I brought a ton of dried fruit with me and some flours and grain – quinoa is my favorite – and a gallon of olive oil and a half gallon of raw honey. Sometimes Mike brings fresh eggs and then I’ll make pancakes.

I couldn’t go an entire summer without fresh veggis but nor could I run to the store for fresh lettuce, so back in May I planted a tiny garden in pots that I brought up with me – greens, herbs, and a few tomatoes that are STILL GREEN! And I have had sprouts going the whole time I’ve been up here. My counter is always full of jars of milk in various stages and jars of sprouts in various stages – alfalfa sprouts, lentil sprouts, and pea sprouts. Sprouting is the greatest, easiest, cheapest way to have fresh “veggis” if you’re afraid to garden, unable to garden, or have no access to dirt.

Just soak alfalfa seeds, whole dry peas, or lentils in water overnight (lentils are the easiest to find in any grocery store), then drain, and rinse daily till they sprout. I cut circles of fiberglass screen (from the hardware store) (don’t use aluminum screen) to fit over the mouths of mason jars which makes the daily rinse super easy – just pour some water in, swirl it around, and pour it out. In days, you have sprouts! I let the alfalfa grow about 1 ½ inches long, the lentils about an inch, and the peas just until the sprouts peek out. Delicious as a sprout salad or mixed with homemade cheese with olive oil and balsamic or sesame oil and tamari.

It hasn’t been the most diverse diet, but it has been delicious, and insanely healthy, and has fueled all my adventures!

* * *

September 3, 2011
Autumn at 8000 feet

Yesterday morning, I woke up to frost. And this morning, I woke up to elk!

It was light but the sun was not yet up; I was awake but still huddled under my blankets – to emerge meant to see my breath.

Chloe started barking like a madman so I poked my head out to see what she was announcing. And there were two bull elk!

Gorgeous. They’re so elegant and strange. They stood watching us for a while, then they walked through the cows, nodded a ‘hey, my brutha’ to Frisco, and picked their way over the hill into the meadow below.

* * *

September 5, 2011
Sand Castles

At the south end of the great grassy meadow, sandstone buttes and other odd formations rise up as the terrain changes from meadow to woods. I decided to climb them the other day.

I didn’t bring a camera but did have my cell phone in my back pocket so I took pictures with that.

* * *

August 25, 2011
Snippets Round Three

The tops of my feet are tan. I think it’s been ten years since the tops of my feet were tan.

I’m not done talking about doing my laundry by hand. You’ve been warned.

I haven’t felt like writing much lately but I will, eventually, I promise.

Peeing in an outhouse without walls at sunset is a really lovely experience. In fact, everyone go pee outside at sunset tonight. Send your arresting officers here!

* * *

August 9, 2011
General Life Stuff

1. The refrigerator is completely overrated.

2. The washing machine is completely overrated.

3. The shower, the bathtub, nay, the entire bathroom is completely overrated.

I would not have believed these statements myself, a month ago. Though I do believe their truth would fade if one had neighbors or if it were wintertime.

* * *

August 3, 2011
May 5, 1913

“…and I can think of nothing that would give me more happiness than to bring the West and its people to others who could not otherwise enjoy them. If I could only take them from whatever is worrying them and give them this bracing mountain air, glimpses of the scenery, a smell of the pines and the sage, — if I could only make them feel the free, ready sympathy and hospitality of these frontier people, I am sure their worries would diminish and my happiness would be complete.

Little Start Crosby is going to be the sweetest little kid. Her mother tells me that she is going “back yan” when she gets a “little mo’ richer.” I am afraid you give me too much credit for being of help to poor little Molly. It was n’t that I am so helpful, but that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” It was Mrs. O’Shaughnessy who was the real help. She is a woman of great courage and decision and of splendid sense and judgment. A few days ago a man she had working for her got his finger-nail mashed off and neglected to care for it. Mrs. O’Shaughnessy examined it and found that gangrene had set in. She did n’t tell him, but made various preparations and then told him she had heard that if there was danger of blood-poisoning it would show if the finger was placed on wood and the patient looked toward the sun. She said the person who looked at the finger could then see if there was any poison. So the man placed his finger on the chopping-block and before he could bat his eye she had chopped off the black, swollen finger. It was so sudden and unexpected that there seemed to be no pain. Then Mrs. O’Shaughnessy showed him the green streak already starting up is arm. The man seemed dazed and she was afraid of shock, so she gave him a dose of morphine and whiskey. Then with a quick stroke of a razor she laid open the green streak and immersed the whole arm in a strong solution of bichloride of mercury for twenty minutes. She then dressed the wound with absorbent cotton saturated with olive oil and carbolic acid, bundled her patient into a buggy, and drove forty-five miles that night to get him to a doctor. The doctor told us that only her quick action and knowledge of what to do saved the man’s life.”

from Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart (great book, if you can find it; one of those instances where you just wish the author was your friend in real life)

* * *

July 29, 2011
Calling for Fiona

Many have wondered, when I’ve written about the 1000- and 2000-acre pastures in which the cows get to range free and graze, how they can wander such a huge area without any of them getting lost or left behind when we move from Spring to Summer to Fall grazing grounds and then move home for the Winter.

I wondered the same thing when I first moved here; in fact, I would panic when I began helping Mike move his cows, thinking “how couldn’t a few get lost or left?!”

But the cows take care of it themselves. Cows are herd animals, and, in the case of Mike’s cows, they’re not just a herd but a giant family unit – mothers and daughters and grandmothers and great-grandmothers, and all the calves running around.

Fiona is one of those frolicking calves. It’s like she’s at summer camp up here, running around with a little gang; they go off exploring which is all fine and good until Mama (and, in Fiona’s case, Big Bro Frisco) notices her kid hasn’t checked in in a while and sends out a MOOOOOO.

There are many different moos. There’s a soft “stay here, baby” moo, there’s the very common “Baby, come in, dinnertime” moo and there’s the “KIDDO, IF YOU DON’T GET OVER HERE BY THE COUNT OF TEN” moo.

And there are moos between the cows. “Water’s over here,” “Found some salt,” “The shade down in the trees is nice, we’re all headed down there,” “Oh shit, where is everybody,” “We’re overrr heeere”…

.A moo carries a long way. It’s like a foghorn. The cows and calves communicate often and with a variety of messages, much like a large extended family would do. And that’s how no one goes missing.

* * *

July 25, 2011
I Held A Hummingbird

After taking photos one morning, I popped into the camper to drop off my camera. I saw a commotion at the back window – the frantic fluttering of something trying to get out, foiled by the glass. At first I thought it was a monster bug but then it turned profile and I saw it was a hummingbird! I snapped off a few shots, since I had my camera in hand, then set about rescuing the tiny beauty. I got a super-wide mouth half gallon jar, thinking the least stressful maneuver for the hummingbird would be to move it like I move wasps and spiders from my house to the outdoors : place a jar over it, slide paper between the jar mouth and window and carry it out that way. But whenever I approached with the jar, the hummingbird would crouch at the bottom of the sill and it soon became obvious the jar method would not work.

I reached for the tiny bird with my hand and was truly shocked that the hummingbird did not panic. It allowed me to gently pick it up – so light! so full of life! the glittering throat! – and carry it outside. Standing in the grass, I opened my hands and the hummingbird sat for a moment in my palm (a moment containing a million moments) and then, like a wink, it was gone.

* * *

July 23, 2011

Pardon my French but …


This was Thursday. Friday morning two flies began screwing right beside me as I was sipping coffee outside and the sound made me nearly jump out of my skin.


I am a snake, according to Chinese Astrology.

And, far more interesting than that (to me) was my recollection of the imagery on the pin I received when I passed the EMT National Registry exam. In the Star of Life, a snake is spiraled around a staff.

* Why is the snake the symbol of medicine, of healing?


* * *

July 21, 2011
Campfire Quinoa

* Cook quinoa : 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa

* Boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes

* Take off heat and stir in honey, olive oil, toasted sesame oil, and Worcestershire sauce

* I didn’t measure anything, but it doesn’t take much of anything — start with a little, taste, adjust.

* This combo sounds weird but is positively gourmet! (or else I’m just really hungry…)

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