Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blessings In The Desert

The world is quiet.
As I write this I can hear Kory snoring from the hallway, and stuffed cats and koalas and rubber boats and tennis balls are strewn all up and down that space.
As I write this I can see LC (with camo ball cap over his eyes) curled up and napping under a blanket on the love seat.
After walking my dog this morning, LC and I spent the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon oiling and sanding metal, and sanding and staining wood in the garage.
We have a huge wood stove in the living room and another one in the garage, and with both of them burning warmly this morning (after a freezing cold night that left an inch of snow covering the ground), LC and I found ourselves unexpectedly caught up in dirty but enjoyable garage-puttering.
A few days ago we drove down a gravel road just on the outskirts of town to a piece of private property that is strewn with piles and piles of.........junk.
Only its not really junk.  
OK..........some of it is junk.
We needed wood for a table saw table that LC wants to build.  We found much.
And we also dug around and unexpectedly found some other extremely interesting things.
An old rusty watering can.
A rusted rock hammer without a handle.
An old pulley.
Old boards holding rusty horse shoes.
Half a bucket full of other rusty old metal things that mean nothing to me, but which LC got very excited about.
And bricks.  More bricks.
Late last fall we found a big stack of kiln fired bricks in varying and beautiful shades of brown and red and yellow.  We had been told by the land owner (who wants to begin clearing up that land) that we were welcome to anything that we could find and use.
In that knowledge we picked up every brick in the pile and stacked them all against the side of our storage building, in anticipation of using them as the floor for an outdoor patio.
A few days ago we unexpectedly found more.  LOTS more.  
After stacking them in the truck and gingerly driving gravel road home, we stacked them in even higher piles outside against the back of our wood shed.
There's still more out there and it is supposed to rain and snow for the next few days, but as soon as the weather breaks again we will get the rest.
Our outdoor patio just got much larger.  Very cool................

A couple of nights ago I walked with Kory in back of town.
It was late in the day - a little later than we normally head out - and the sunset that was first developing and then developed was beautiful.
The endless world in front of me was completely silent, and as I first looked at the pink sky to the west and then the purple mountains to the north, I was glad to be living in this place.
Both LC and I are missing trees and water and by this weekend, when the snow and ice settles down a bit we will go in search of both.
But on this late day the world was calm and warm and enveloped in one of a number of sunny and mild days that we have been lucky enough to see recently................
I kept Kory on leash since it was so late in the day and darkness was impending but (as always) she didn't seem to mind.
We wandered along a fence line, occasionally veering into the sage brush as I let Kory set both the pace and the direction we traveled.
As I watched my dog happily and easily engaging in all the explorations that young and energetic dogs typically engage in,  I looked over towards Cedar and Big Buttes, watching the sky constantly shifting and changing as though it were some wild animal stretching after having lazily slept all afternoon.
Cedar Butte looks as though it is right beside Big Butte, but these are actually 10 miles apart.
You would never guess that looking at these pictures.
Such is the deceptive distances in a wide open, empty desert in the Snake River Plain...........
With the usual pinks and blues decorating the sky to the east, and with very little daylight remaining, Kory and I wandered off BLM land, jumped the ditch and picked up one gravel road after another as we slowly meandered our way back towards home.
The deer were all resting in the middle of a wide open field in town................
I love these two rusty, dented, beat up things, which are absolute treasures to me.
Found in the junk pile, the old oil can (that I initially thought was a watering can) and old pulley will go either in the sun-room (when it is built) or on a shelf in the outdoor patio (when it is built).................
A couple of pictures of LC's garage.
Still a work in progress, as so many others things are around this joint.............
A few of the other rusty things we have found in the pile.
Much of this stuff is completely foreign to me, but LC gets excited telling me all about them, and I at the same time feign interest in his answer and enjoy his enthusiasm................
A rock hammer head that I have started cleaning up................
Oh boy, we're hurriedly becoming desert rats.
A few weeks ago we were over at the piles digging for a couple of specific sizes of lumber.  Unexpectedly I found this thing half buried in the dirt.
LC told me that it was an old drain cover, but as I stood in the leftover snow studying this rusty, dirty thing all I saw was a candle holder.
After some cleaning, sanding and and oiling, it has indeed found new life as a candle holder, and it now sits on a table in the living room.............

If you don't die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music, or Neil Young.

If you don't die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert.  You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise.  The sky is your ocean and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music or Neil Young................Anne Lamott
If you don't die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music, or Neil Young.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Random - Part 2

This new dog of ours has turned into an unplanned joy that we never could have anticipated after the pain of losing Jamie a few months ago.
LC fondly says that she has a sense of humor.
I joke about her unfortunate ears and when she looks at me and I good naturedly tell her to "put your ears up!" Kory cocks her head to the side as if to say "enough with the ears already, OK?"
Over the past 2 1/2 months since we picked her up at the airport in Boise we have learned to trust each other enough that Kory can now run free on BLM land and come back to us on demand (most of the time).
Over the past couple of months both LC and I have found boots of ours with chewed up shoe laces.  She likes the laces.
And she knows that she is not supposed to chew them but she does it anyway when she thinks nobody is looking, just as she sleeps on the love seat some nights when she thinks that we are asleep and won't bust her chops for it. 
She has no interest in rubber chew toys, but loves to toss a stuffed cat and a stuffed koala bear all over the house.
Kory always stretches before approaching us and I think it is a nervous gesture on her part, but she is gradually becoming more assertive when she wants attention from us, and approaches us easily and often.
She loves to sleep in the dirt in one of the raised beds in the green house that is attached to the house, and she will miss that when we eventually tear the badly put-together structure down and replace it with an outdoor patio.
We'll have to find her another high spot where she can nap while we're working outside or in the garage.
She is friendly with everyone we come across in our travels but barks possessively when someone comes to the door.  She barks and heads for the front door whenever she hears a door bell ring on TV, so someone in her previous life must have lived in a home with a front door bell.
And so it goes...........her learning more about us and we learning more about her, and over the past couple of months it has all just..........worked.
She was easy to love and has been easy to train, and I thinks she likes the new life that she has that is 180 degrees different from the one she had previously..................
Most of the snow is gone right now, the nights have been well below freezing but the days recently have been sunny and very beautiful.  Right around or just above freezing but the air is very dry, the sky is very blue and temperatures have felt warmer than the temperature gauge outside our mudroom window would indicate.
So warm that there has been no need recently for hats and gloves or jackets.
A resident told me yesterday that usually the mountains surrounding us are covered with snow (instead of only the peaks that are covered right now).
Not only have we had little snow, but there has been almost no snow in northern Idaho so far this winter.  Unusual and it does little to ease the water shortages that have been building for a few years and that will likely continue again this year.  
This picture is filled with coyote tracks and was taken just on the outskirts of town.
They have been seen in town, although not by us.  But we have heard them inside the city limits.  Up and down our road and hidden in the icy mist that settles on Atomic City so often................
One day not long after we moved to Atomic City we met the boyfriend of a town resident.
He told us that the woman liked to paint, and not long afterwards we were invited into her home to see some of her work.
I was frankly stunned at just how talented this woman is.  She can't paint people, but she is gifted when it comes to painting animals and landscapes.  She brings them to life, and this shy, unassuming, not totally confident woman has no idea just how talented she really is.
Most of her paintings are color portraits of western wild life and mountain/river scenes but some she paints in black and white.
One day not long ago LC and I ran into her while walking Kory in town.  She had been on the way to see us to give us this painting.
LC made a frame for it, and it now hangs in a prominent place on our kitchen wall.
It is a beautiful black and white forest and water scene, and my photo of the painting does not do it justice..............
If there hadn't been one tiny patch of ice on the road when I snapped this picture I would have liked it better.
I was walking late in the evening with Kory a couple of weeks ago.  The sun was beginning to descend over Cedar Butte and Big Butte and the shadows were long.
After I took the pictures above of the old abandoned Lubrication building I turned to look over the Twin Buttes before continuing further with our walk.
As I turned I saw mine and Kory's elongated shadows on the gravel road, and impulsively snapped this picture...............
Looking north towards the Lemhi Mountain Range and the Big Lost River Valley............
These trucks are totally, awesomely wonderful.
I have no idea how long they have silently sat in this same place unmoving and forgotten, but the dry, desert environment has been kind to them.
Big Butte sits silently in the background and they are beautiful, mechanical works of art to me.
LC lusts after one of them (I can't remember which one) much as he lusts after many older, classic vehicles..............
One more sunset, taken from our back yard...............
A frozen still life, taken during a walk on a morning that was encased in icy mist...............
Yesterday morning I was walking with Kory when I saw LC's truck speeding out of town.
Surprised and alarmed I called him to find out what was going on.  
Three teenagers had been cruising through town and deliberately herding the deer together and pushing them beyond the city limits.
As they sped down our street the largest of the two bucks that live in town ran across the road in front of our house, and the teen trouble maker who was driving almost hit him.
Speeding out of town LC followed them, got the tag number and called it in.
The kids turned onto Big Butte Road and disappeared down the dirt road after LC turned back towards home.
We saw that often during hunting season, and a handful of residents (including us) confronted outsiders who were looking for an easy score.
Wanting to bag their deer without doing any of the work.
I hadn't expected to see the deer being harassed in the middle of winter.
This picture of part of the herd was taken at the small town park a few days ago............
Once in a great while someone stays at this place.
It is called "the motel" but has no signs indicating that it is such.  
Once in the past six months I have seen a visitor to the INL site staying here for a couple of weeks.  Aside from that, this building lies silent and empty.
LC and I have both heard stories of snow drifts being as high as the roof of this building in the past.  
Within the past decade past - not forty years ago.  
So this region does get more than its share of snow when the conditions are right.
The building itself is a little shoddy and a little run down, but when the light is right the combination of colors and textures makes the shoddy run-down cinder block nothing-of-a-building that is surrounded by trees, something really special.................
Sometimes the icy mist (that settles overnight on every surface) quickly melts in the warmth of daylight.
Sometimes the days remain so cold, that the trees and bushes and sage of the desert stand in frozen-stillness for extended periods.
Even though we have not had a lot of snow so far this winter, the frozen stillness has been the next best thing.............
When Kory first came into our lives she was very thin.
When I asked why she was so thin I learned that after Kory had been adopted from the shelter the first time (and then brought back to the shelter the next day because she jumped a fence), she stopped eating.
Kory had been at the shelter for over a month by the time she was adopted the first time.
She was only two days away from being put down by the time we found her, and we were told that she was depressed.
I actually think that our girl had just given up by that point.  
And so she stopped eating.
Well..........she eats plenty now.
I don't know how much weight she has gained.  I would guess maybe five pounds.
I can't see her ribs anymore.  
She has filled out well. 
In addition to regular meals, I think the Hot Dog Game may also have something to do with that:
Nowadays when we walk with her on BLM land we sometimes have to call her back to us, but more often than not she comes to us unprompted.
Eager for a slice of hot dog and eager to please us.................
I love these pictures of LC.
A good, solid, strong, decent man.
I never knew that such a man existed or that I would eventually, unexpectedly, surprisingly come across him.
I was wrong...............
A walk at sunset a few days ago.............
Kory and I walked in town during this sunset, and as we both have done a hundred times since this dog came into our lives, we wandered together wherever her feet and my feet took us.
There was no rhyme or reason and no pressure to be somewhere at a specific time other than I eventually wanted to make our way to the back of town so that I could see the buttes to the west as the sun slowly lowered behind them.
As we stood on the outskirts of Tiny Town, Idaho I looked up at the sky and saw the jet stream of a plane.
Instead of the usual white, the jet stream was a bright pink and it silently cut through the still blue (but rapidly changing to orange) sky.
As I stood mesmerized by a pink jet stream I also looked down at my dog.
She was on leash but unperturbed by that.  Just a quietly happy dog, happily sticking her nose in every sage bush and every tumbleweed and every tall clump of grass she could reach.
She was at the very longest length of her leash, as she always is.
Always stretching and reaching and tugging, curious and demanding to explore whatever it is that catches attention....................

The good and the wise lead quiet lives...........Euripides (Greek Playwright, c 480-406 BC)