Sunday, May 31, 2015

Always Another Storm

A couple of days ago I opened up my lap top, clicked on NOAA and learned that after weeks of storms and rain, the weather was actually going to clear out for a couple of days and be very warm and sunny.
In other parts of the country it can be storming one day and sunny the next, but in this part of the country those kinds of transitions never come easily.
Whenever there is a major change in weather patterns here, the change is always preluded by a major storm.
And so it went the other day.
We are currently embedded in work on our camper, and a few days ago LC was pulling on a piece of plastic trim that refused to give way.
Well.........eventually it gave way.
Violently and unexpectedly, and by the time it was done LCs' finger had been impaled with a very large and rusty staple.
After pulling out the staple we both watched as the two puncture wounds bled in an epic way.
Put some pressure on it.  I'll go get alcohol and a bandaid.
By the time I got back to the camper LC had succeeded in bleeding all over the damned place but the pressure was finally slowing the flow of blood.
We cleaned it.  We bandaid-ed it.  
And then we speculated about when the last time was that he had had a tetanus shot.
We had known each other for eight years.
No tetanus shot in that time.
We could already hear the familiar late afternoon rumbles in the sky.
Only this time the rumbles were not the signature sign of one more impending storm, that had become so familiar over these past weeks.
Instead this storm was the sign of transition.
Somewhere......sometime soon..........the sun would come out and it would be very warm.
Loading into the Tahoe we all three headed towards Blackfoot, and were astonished as just how ominous the sky looked.
If we had been living in Tennessee we would have been thinking about tornadoes.
In fact...........tornadoes were unusual here but not unheard of, and the sky looked angry and alive.
As we continued our journey south it quickly became obvious that this storm was moving from north to south.
The sky looked worse in Atomic City than it did closer to town.
By the time we reached the clinic we could hear almost continuous thunder that sounded as though it was getting closer to Blackfoot with each violent strike.....................
As has happened so often recently, my long-suffering dog was inconsolable.
As we both waited in the truck for LC to be stabbed by Nurse Cratchett, I watched my dog scurry from the very back of the Tahoe, to the back seat of the Tahoe, to the front seat of the Tahoe and then back again.
There was no safe place.  There was nowhere to hide.  And there were no words to calm her.
When LC finally made his reappearance we headed out of Dodge as quickly as we could.
Neither of us wanted to be in town and neither of us wanted to be out during this storm.................
The storm was definitely moving from north to south.
As we sped along the two lane highway back towards Atomic City I watched the sky, completely enthralled with it.
The dark and ominous clouds lay in a straight line in front of us, and every few minutes we drove through bands of rain.
I took many pictures and truthfully only a few turned out even remotely decent - either they were blurry from the speed we were driving, or they were blurry while taken through the windshield under low light.
Regardless I did manage to take a handful that at least partially show what the world looked like in this storming, electric, animalistic state....................
By the time the Twin Buttes were in full view the appearance of the world around us began to change yet again.
It was very dark but behind one of the buttes the smallest sliver of blue sky was visible.
The promise of things to come.
The ground looked white in places and for a while we could not figure out why. 
But the rain had stopped and the sky was beginning to calm.  No more thunder.  No more lightening...................
Within minutes we realized that the white we were seeing was hail.................
In our rush to get to Blackfoot we had left the living room, kitchen and mud room windows open.
By the time we got home we had a huge mess to clean up.
But when we were done that small patch of blue was turning into a bigger patch of blue.
Sunshine was coming.
A picture taken the next morning of one of our flowering trees in the yard by the side of the house...............
And pictures taken directly across the road from the house.
Three days of sunshine are about to come to an end.
And sure enough - and predictably enough - we were slammed with a violent storm late this afternoon................
There's always another storm. It's the way the world works. Snowstorms, rainstorms, windstorms, sandstorms, and firestorms. Some are fierce and others are small. You have to deal with each one separately, but you need to keep an eye on whats brewing for tomorrow............Maria V Snyder

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Not So Uneventful Walk - Part 2

Walking up the driveway of the old farm house I immediately noticed three large metal pens close to the house, and one large metal pen in the back yard.
Smiling at the sight of the two dogs in back, I quickly turned my attention to the pens near where Kory and I stood.
What the HECK were they?
Five llamas were still mesmerized by the presence of me and my pup..............
The woman had headed inside to retrieve food for the llamas, and as I stood looking at these interesting looking sheep, the guy talked easily about his life and his farm.
A retired fire fighter.  From Nevada.  Wife was from Arizona, and somehow they had come across this home and 10 acres and decided that retirement was going to happen on the outskirts of Arco, Idaho.
The dogs, the sheep and a few of the llamas were cast-offs.
As tends to happen in small communities word quickly got around that this couple would accept animals that nobody else wanted, and as the man told me the stories of these animals it was obvious that they were loved and cared for................
As the woman fed the llamas, the man told me the names of eachl of his animals.
The only one that I remember is the name of the white llama.
A view of the mountains from their driveway.
What a view...................
 Fifteen minutes after we walked up the driveway of a friendly couple who had shared their story and their animals with me, it was time to go.
Kory and I headed back to the property where my guy and my Tahoe were located, and after being gone for close to an hour I was mildly surprised that LC had not yet called me.
It was taking longer than I had expected and as we headed back, I was hoping that something big (read expensive) was not wrong with our vehicle.
The property immediately around the house was covered with beautiful lilac bushes that were still in full bloom, and I could smell them as we got closer.
They were beautiful.
What a great house.  What a great piece of property.  And what a great location............... 

Snapping pictures almost non-stop as I wandered back on to the property, I headed to the back of the house where the garage was located.
 As Kory and I continued down the driveway a dog approached us.
Watching him closely for a moment (and hoping that he was friendly) he wandered right up to me and unexpectedly dropped something at my feet.
Looking down at it I smiled, and then smiled again as this sweet boy waited for me to respond.
I picked up the slimy, slobbery hockey puck, threw it across the driveway and watched as this pup excitedly ran off to retrieve it.
Immediately he brought it back and again dropped the slimy black disc at my feet.
Smiling at him again, I picked it up and tossed it again.
After five or six throws I walked past the dog, petted him on top of the head, and then walked into the garage bay.
LC and the mechanic both had their heads under the hood.
They were almost done.
No leaks.  AC gassed up.  We did need a part.  It was already ordered.
How much was the part?  Not too expensive - good.
How much to install?  Part of the trade deal we made so no charge.  Good again.
After learning that I would be waiting for another 10 minutes or so, I grabbed a bottle of water out of the Tahoe, took a big drink, crouched down beside my pup, cupped my hand and poured water as Kory eagerly drank and then loaded her into the truck.
Turning, I walked out of the garage, walked over to the mechanics' dog and waited for him to drop the puck.
Picking up the slimy, nasty thing, I tossed it again.......................
Looking back towards Number Hill, that dominates the landscape in Arco much as the Big Butte dominates the landscape in Atomic City...................
I started Part l of this blog by posting a random picture of my dog hunkering down on the floor of the truck in an attempt to find relief from the thunderstorm that was surrounding us at that moment.
I will finish Part 2 of this blog by posting a random picture of a tube of chapstick that LC bought for me at a ranch supply store.
Chicken Poop - Lip Junk.
I needed chapstick and he bought this version of it specifically because of the name.
After smiling at the name (and then reading the rest of the label, that reassured me that the tube did not contain any actual chicken products) I felt comfortable enough to use it.
It did the job just fine........................

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Not So Uneventful Walk - Part 1

Kory sitting on the floorboard of the truck down by my feet, with her nose buried as far under the seat as she can get it.
This picture was taken one day last week while we were in Blackfoot running errands.
The morning had started out sunny, but then quickly turned ominous on the way into town, and by the time we reached BF it was thundering and pouring with rain.
I have no idea how this dog ever survived living in Florida because she is inconsolably terrified of storms.
There is nowhere she can hide that feels safe, and each time thunder rumbles (and it has rumbled a lot over the past month) all we can do is hold her tightly, wrap blankets tightly around her, talk to her, hold her, and move the lamp off the table in the living room during those times when she squeezes behind it.
She survived the terrifying trip to Blackfoot, and we survived trying to calm a terrified pup.............

A few days ago we drove to Arco.
We were selling something to a resident in that town, had agreed on a selling price, and it wasn't until we were well into our 30 minute drive through the desert that we remembered that the buyer had his own home-based garage.
We needed the Tahoe air conditioner charged, and after remembering what he did for a living, gave him a call.
Yes.........he charged air conditioners.
And yes - he was interested in making a trade and could charge the AC when we got to town.
Pleased with ourselves because the man would get the item he wanted without spending out-of-pocket and we would get what WE needed without spending out-of-pocket, we quickly drove through the small town of Arco, turned off the highway and drove another five minutes further into the country before reaching his home and garage.
It would take a while to get it all done - to identify whether or not we had a leak anywhere and then fill it with freon, and knowing that I smiled at LC and told him that I was going to walk along the road with Kory while we waited.
Opening the door to the Tahoe I blocked Korys' path while retrieving her leash, and she happily jumped down to the ground eager to be free.
Walking to the edge of the driveway I looked around me.
The day was cool and very overcast.  No rain yet, but it was only a matter of time.
We had never been to this area before, and as I looked around I realized that the guy and his young family lived in a beautiful place.
His yard was filled with lilac bushes that were in full bloom.
He was surrounded by farm land and mountains in every direction.
If there had been water here it would have been perfect, but as it was it was simply wonderful.
While still scanning the area I suddenly felt a sharp pull on the leash.
So sharp in fact that it pulled me off balance and jerked me forward, and it took me a moment to realize that it was because Kory had made a frantic leap at something in the tall grass along the edge of the road.
Everything happened quickly then.
I regained my balance.
Korys head jerked up, she took a few quick steps into the middle of the road and I realized that she had a baby bunny in her mouth.
As I heard it squeak I realized that it was still alive and I yelled at Kory to drop it.
Surprisingly she dropped baby bunny .
Immediately she picked it up again, shook her head once and dropped bunny back into the middle of the road.
There were no more squeaks.  Baby bunny was dead.
I watched Kory, who was momentarily studying her big kill.
This spring she has killed a number of bunnies, voles and mice out on BLM land and I knew from experience that she had no interest in eating any of them.  Once they were dead she was done with them.
And so it went with baby bunny.
Bunnies I felt badly for.
Voles and mice not so much.
Feeling badly for a small and sweet creature that didn't have a chance against my fast dog with a killer instinct, I looked down at it for a moment.
Taking a deep breath, I called to Korry.
C'mon Babe.
Happily, my pup turned away from the bunny and we began to walk down the narrow and winding paved road..................
We were walking slowly and not covering a whole lot of ground, but never-the-less Kory was having a great time sniffing her way along the side of the road and I was having a great time taking pictures of the beautiful mountains in all directions.
The day was very dark and looking through the sight of my camera I realized that I could make out very little in terms of detail - which meant that more often than not I was simply pointing and shooting.
All of a sudden I realized that there were animals hundreds of yards away from me that were headed our way.
They were so far away initially that at first I thought horses were coming to investigate us.
I knew from experience in Wyoming that horses are very curious creatures that loved to wander right up to a fence line, and then follow you along the fence line as they eagerly and quietly studied you.
It took only a minute to realize that these huge white and black and brown animals were not horses at all.
They ran without any of the natural grace that horses possessed.
For a moment I stood still and watched them lumbering, and it took another minute before I finally realized that they were llamas or alpacas - I don't know how to tell the difference.
As I had experienced many times with horses over in Wyoming, these llamas were very curious about the dog, and as they reached the fence they spread out so that they could get a better look at her.
Kory stood still and in silent awe of these unknown creatures..............
Still standing along the edge of the road with my dog, I stared at them for a few moments and then raised my camera to being snapping pictures of them.
They were beautiful, the hills behind them were beautiful.
Even the overcast day was beautiful..............
After my dogs' initial surprise reaction to these unknown creatures, she began to strongly pull on the leash.
When she is highly motivated Kory is hard to pull back, and so (equally curious about this unexpected sighting during our quiet walk) we both wandered across the road so that we could get a closer look at these five curious animals.
As we walked, the llamas followed along, not wanting to lose sight of us.
I had not expected an exciting walk.
Rather, I had expected a quick out and back, up and down the road with Kory, while killing time waiting for the Tahoe to be done.
Instead, a bunny had died and we had unexpectedly run into four inquisitive animals (who had awkwardly sprinted the length of the huge field and who were now following us).
I was enjoying this walk immensely, and I found myself hoping that our air conditioner would not be charged up too quickly.
I suddenly was in no rush to head back.............. 
Puppy wandered through the grass and sage brush, wanting to take a closer look at these four mysterious animals, and I watched her closely.
Could llamas jump fences if they felt threatened?
I had no idea, but I watched all six animals closely, ready to pull my dog back if need be.
But the llamas simply continued to watch her, seemingly enthralled by my 64 pound red headed Florida dog................
Kory and I slowly continued walking down the country road that was surrounded by mountains.
Without realizing it, I had needed this walk.
I had needed to be alone with my dog.  
Had needed the sight of beautiful and unexpected animals.
Had needed to be surrounded by hills and mountains on a cool and overcast day.
We finally found ourselves at the end of the llama field, and were greeted by the sight of a driveway, an old farm house, the llamas standing at the edge of the fence line still watching us.
As I looked over at the llamas I realized that they were indeed still completely focused on me and my dog.
Looking up I saw a "No Hunting No Trespassing" sign at the edge of the driveway.
We had been walking for only 20 minutes, and I absently wondered how LC was making out with the truck.
Should I head back the way I had come or continue walking?
Assuming that LC would call me when he was ready to go, I looked at the time and decided to begin heading back anyway.
Surely it would be done by the time we got back to the garage?
Taking only a few steps back the way we had come I realized that a truck was approaching.
Automatically I pulled Kory closer to me and then pulled her off the road and into the grass.
Expecting the truck to drive by, I was surprised when it instead came to a stop right in the middle of the road.
Looking at the driver I realized I knew him.
Not well.
But our paths had crossed a few times in Arco over the past year or so, and we had enjoyed each others company as we engaged in friendly conversation.
The old farm house was his.
The llamas were his.
And he and his wife both smiled and invited me to join him in the driveway so that I could see his other animals.
Smiling at yet one more unexpected event during what I had assumed would be an uneventful walk, I turned and headed up the driveway.....................