I’ve put off doing this post for a couple of days, but it is time.

On Tuesday we put poor old Leo down.  It was a hard decision, but it was the right decision.

IMG_7550smHe was with us for 10+ years  and we all loved each other – through good and bad we loved each other.

Over the years he kept us on our toes with his stubborn attempts to be the one in charge of the house, resorting to intimidation tactics or using his big brown eyes to his advantage.  But turn around and there he was gently loving on the kittens and cats like they were his personal babies and carrying around stuffed animals with a tenderness that warms your heart.

He kept me feeling safe when Andy was away, guarding the doors and the gate, alerting me to anything that might be threatening coming our way.  I knew without a doubt he would protect each of us if the need ever arose – which thank goodness it didn’t.  But I also knew he was afraid of the wind – yep, a blustery night and you’d find him with his head hidden under the bed whimpering like an abandon puppy.  A big 90 pound ferocious bundle of vulnerability trying to hide from the sound of the wind.

Andy was his person, no question about it.    He died in Andy’s arms, licking his face with gentle affection.

We will miss him greatly, he was a unique and loved part of our family and certainly was a character to be reckoned with.

Categories: Daily life, Leo, Photography | 6 Comments


IMG_2071_8409smLife seems to be just barely hanging in there these days, but the point is it is hanging in there.

Andy’s client was convicted – but the jury told the judge, who told Andy that Andy did a great job and they really liked him.  Some consolation in that.IMG_2077_8415smLeo made what seems to be a bit of a comeback last week, and avoided being put down – now he’s struggling again, but I think the issue is the extreme cold.  He just needs us to move to a tropical location.IMG_2066_8404smLast of the Christmas packages got mailed today – yeah!  Why is such a simple task such a bear to accomplish every year?IMG_2055_8393sm

J and I were down for the count to a cold virus for the last week, but both seem to finally be on the mend. 

Just a couple more days of the crazies and then I think things will slow down for a week or so – and that includes Christmas day.


Categories: Daily life, Hiking, Leo, Outdoors, Photography, snow, Winter | Leave a comment


IMG_1648smIt has been too cold to really get out and take photos. 

Let’s face it, it has been too cold to do much of anything.  Just the daily activities of surviving are exhausting.  I don’t normally get impacted by the cold like this, but the past 7 days of extreme cold have kicked my tail.  The hardest part is that our home heating is not functioning at optimum due to one of our stoves being out of commission – so it is always chilly in the living area of the house and we wear lots of layers.  But that is countered by the fact that both our vehicles, which we park out doors, have started up problem free every time.  We even had to loan our 16-year-old truck to a friend whose fancy-shmancy by comparison and much newer truck wouldn’t start and their business required some hauling.  Of course we were glad to help and I note that they have helped us with the loan of a car when we’ve had one in the shop before.  Like I said above, getting through this cold has really become about survival.

TRIAL UPDATE:  The trial is going on despite the cold.  Andy is working hard.  Attorneys who are there with him tell me the jury is responding very well to him, leaning in to listen to what he has to say.  But a couple of jurors are sleeping during the time that the prosecution is presenting.  That doesn’t mean anything regarding the outcome of the case, but it sure does speak well for Andy’s general skills.IMG_7550sm

LEO UPDATE:  Leo is not doing particularly well and we are preparing ourselves for a fast approaching sad day.  He can’t get comfortable at night and is up 9 – 10 times and he has been avoiding eating for the last couple of days.  It breaks all our hearts and the tears will flow, but right now we are seeing if something will change.  But we are thankful for the 10 years we’ve had with him.


Categories: Andy, Daily life, Leo, Outdoors, Photography, the house, Winter | Leave a comment



After an absence from the blog I always want to explain – but really it is just a matter of living life.  We are getting ready for a huge three-week long trial that starts in just over a month – definitely the longest trial of Andy’s career so far, and as far as moving parts, one of the most complicated cases.  It is a white-collar crime allegation so there are documents upon documents upon documents in the case.  A huge time suck!

At the same time my not particularly inclined to handy-man work husband built a home for 12 chickens, who joined us on Sunday of this week.  These beauties are J’s project – he hopes to sell their eggs once they get settled and start producing.  Yesterday they came out of the coop for the first time as far as we can tell.  That was exciting because we were worried that they weren’t coming out even after the wind and snow of the early part of the week went away.    I think they just like it nice and warm, and yesterday afternoon they got that.


These two (above and below) keep us busy too.  Above is Arnica – a girl – and below is Arison – a boy.  They are 3.5 weeks old, and all these photos were taken last night as they ventured out of their nest for the first time – much to Sophie’s (momma) displeasure.


They seem to enjoy the dogs at this point – and the dogs are pretty excited but gentle about the kittens!


Even blind Leo finally found them with his nose last night, and he just wants to curl up with them.


When they decided to leave the nest they did it together, and were greeted by Mr. Tank, who knew they weren’t supposed to be wandering along.


Aren’t they the cutest!


So, that doesn’t explain every little detail of life for sure, but lets you know we are alive and well, just buried in work and trying to keep the balance of good things in life – and the animals are a part of the good things!


Oh, and J finished up his first quarter of 8th grade with his best ever grades and he made that accomplishment without interference from his parents – he’s very independent with his school work these days and really quite responsible.  We couldn’t be more excited about this development because of the growth and emotional peace it brings to J who has always worked hard but until we figured some things out this summer never got the reward for his efforts.  Now he’s getting to experience some of that, which is such a joy – it almost brings me to tears.

Categories: Andy, Autumn, Birds, chickens, Daily life, Fall, Family Fun, J, kittens, Leo, Outdoors, Photography, Sophie, Tank | 2 Comments


IMG_9806_7310smWhat do you think?  Is this fall enough for you?  For Montana, this is pretty fall – all those yellows are about the extent of color that we get.  This was out driveway this morning when I brought Leo home from the vet – just a blood sugar check up, nothing to worry about.

IMG_9795_7299smThese two are doing well.  Sleeping lots.  To be expected at less than 48 hours old.  But they already seem to have grown so much!

IMG_9793_7297smThis one makes me feel like I should have named them Ying and Yang.  So funny.  The lighter colored one I’m calling Arnica – also happens to be the smaller one although this photo doesn’t really show it.  The darker one is Arrison.  I think Arnica might be a girl and Arrison a boy, but that is based on nothing but size, which probably isn’t all that reliable at this point. 

IMG_9799_7303smI find myself fearful that they will die because . . .  well because Sophie’s other kitten/s did and we weren’t here to know why.  So I check on them a lot.  I’m not sure this is all that healthy on my part – I’ll be working on this.  This morning Sophie went outside (something we’ve been trying to prevent) and I went into a panic about if she would come back to care for them.  Sure enough, she did.  Still, I’m working hard to keep her in because it keeps my stress down.

Stress or not, they sure are cute!

Categories: Autumn, Barns, Daily life, Fall, kittens, Leo, Photography, Sophie | 1 Comment



IMG_9332_6643smFor those who know me well, this is sort of headline making news because I do not like mushrooms – at least not as a food item.  Yuck!  Sorry, I know that offends some, but since childhood I have not enjoyed them.  And no, this experience, while very cool, did not inspire me to want to try mushrooms.  I repeat: “Yuck!”

IMG_9419_6730smAnyway, I joined Daniel, Eva and their children for a romp in the woods up Hyalite Canyon to look for mushrooms – they asked me to come take some photos.  It was a wet morning, with clouds hanging low over the canyon walls, and I loved it!  Reminded me of my days up in the drippy foggy north coast of California – temps were moderate too, all that was missing was the smell of the ocean nearby mixed with the unique smell of redwood trees, and of course the occasional banana slug.  But since I feel about banana slugs about as I feel about eating mushrooms, I was perfectly content to be here in the Rocky Mountains.

IMG_9048_6359smFall was evident all around us – although we haven’t really had a hard frost yet, so things are still a contrast of green and yellow and brown all around.  The decoration of the water droplets just enhanced the whole visual experience!

IMG_9201_6512smWhat this experience did inspire me towards is to squeeze in a few more morning hikes in the mountains before the snow flies.  I think this weekend I’ll be heading up to Lava Lake one morning for a vigorous walk and some photo taking.  Hopefully it will be a frosty or drippy morning because that just makes it all the better!

IMG_9385_6696smAs a general update (since I’m not finding the time to blog as regularly as I’d like) wanted those far away to know we are doing well, school continues to go well for J, Andy is busy preparing for his three jury trials this fall (one in particular), Leo is getting along well with his blindness, I’ve got more photos to process than time to do so, and we are all content in our different activities and having fun together when we can.

Hopefully at least a photo posted a day this week – we’ll see.

Categories: Autumn, Daily life, Fall, flowers, Hiking, Hyalite, J, Leo, Outdoors, Photography | 2 Comments


It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Five on Friday post.  That was back when I blogged regularly instead of erratically.  But I thought I’d give it a try today.

– one –

Update on Leo

IMG_2735_5049smCan you tell by looking at this photo that he’s blind?  He is.  But I have to say, he seems to be adjusting.  It is very sad when he runs into things, like the fence (thus the cut on his right eye).  We watch him carefully, and find he really knows our property well – navigates around with little problem most of the time.  He’s not as confident as he once was, but I wouldn’t be confident out in the field if I couldn’t see anything either (I’ve been closing my eyes when walking out there so I can get a sense of what he experiences).  In the house he does well as long as we remember not to leave piles of things on the floor or any cupboards or drawers open for him to trip on.  We’re working on our training on this.

Bottom line is after almost 3 weeks we feel like he is adjusting well, and we observe that he still wags his tail often, gives affection, likes to receive affection, and does not have any noticeable pain.  The vet did a follow-up with him this past Wednesday, and although it was very stressful for him to be in the vet office which is not familiar territory to him, he is otherwise adjusting well.  So, we go forward for now, watching and adjusting.

– two –


IMG_2994_5124smYesterday morning I went out early (pre-dawn) to the Headwaters of the Missouri River to do a senior photo shoot for a family friend.  We were surprised and pleased by the fog on the rivers (there are three rivers that join here to begin the Missouri River – the Jefferson, the Madison (where this photo was taken) and the Gallatin (which flows right near my house some 25 miles up river).

To give a little perspective, the father of the young woman I’m doing these photos for was struck by cancer this past winter/spring.  I approached and asked if they would be willing to let me take her photo, figuring that doing something special, but not having a cost for it would be a way our family could support theirs.  I was fearful that I had bitten off more than I could chew and that I would only be able to provide ho-hum photos when I really wanted something special and unique.

So, I spent quite a bit of time praying for the ability to get her something special, unique and that would make her feel great about her senior photos.  And God provided!  We had the most amazing fog with sunshine for almost a full hour of photo taking at three different settings.  That just never happens in Montana, but here it was.  You better believe this will be on the gratitude list!

– three –


The sunflowers continue to bloom and bring me great joy.  Saw some today that inspire me to plant more next spring/summer in a few additional strategic places around my yard and garden.  They are so simple yet so beautiful.  And so low maintenance!

– four –


J is learning to hunt for birds through an organization called Pheasants Forever.  Last weekend he and his class learned about upland game habitat, and he is determined to create some good bird habitat on our property.  This involves creating a little channel for water to flow.

IMG_2788_4958smBut first he had to find the existing channel, clear the weeds from around it, and then begin to enhance it.

IMG_2814_4984smIt is a big investment of his time and energy, but not as big a job as it would be if the old channel weren’t there to begin with.  I don’t understand the full project/vision, but Andy does, and I trust he and J to be doing something good.  I think it is a multi-year process, but the first step is to get some water out there, and then to plan some shrubs.  Hopefully in a few years we’ll have an active bird habitat – hope the birds like our dogs!  Although, considering the above, Leo doesn’t really present any kind of threat.

– five –

 IMG_2852_5022smGuess who doesn’t want to be left out of all the activities?  Miss Sophie goes out and sits and watches J digging in the field.  It is kind of cute!

Categories: Daily life, Faith, Family Fun, Five on Fridays, flowers, gratitude, J, Leo, Outdoors, Photography, Summer, sunflowers | 2 Comments

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