Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Simple Pleasures

Sometimes I get so caught up with life and whats happening right now that I forget about the simple pleasures that surround me.  Even though I live in an area where rugged beauty prevails I often forget to take it all in and appreciate it.  But yesterday was a different story.  Mace and I have had so much stress in our lives for the past year and yesterday it just got to the point that we needed to turn it all off.  So we packed up a lunch, the dog, and the camera and just headed out in the woods for the day. 

We didn't do anything special or grand.  We just found an old forest service road and toodled on up it.  When we got tired of driving we found a good spot to park and had our lunch, much to Cassie the wonder dalmatians impatience.  She did however appreciate receiving the crusts off the sandwiches and a few potato chips tossed her way.  It was just nice to sit there on a rock overlooking the mountains and valleys, breathing in the sweet air, and forgetting about the things that have been stressing us both out.  Once our lunch was finished we decided to go for a little hike.  Again it wasn't anything rigorous or extreme and we really didn't have any purpose in mind.  Instead we just walked along a ridge line and saw what there was to see, heard the birds chirping, and panicked a few chipmunks who thought Cassie was going to steel their nut reserves.

By the time we got back to the truck the sun was starting to go down so we decided to head on home.  Not that we really wanted to but figured that just because we were going home didn't mean that we had to do anything stressful once we got back.  Instead we lit a fire in the bbq pit and grilled a steak for dinner and watched the sun go down while the coals finally burned out.  All the while we were able to just talk and relax and of course I was especially happy just watching the fire.  I don't know what it is about watching flames but its so hypnotizing and calming.  Mace has always thought that I had a little bit of a pyro in me, which maybe I do, but mostly I just like seeing the shapes of the flames change and feeling the warmth of them on my face.  Sitting around a fire takes me back to camping with my family when I was little.  Its something just so soothing.  Its probably a good thing that our wood stove in the house doesn't have a glass panel front on it or I'd spend the entire winter watching the flames from the living room couch.

What I've come to realize is that it doesn't take much to decompress.  Sometimes it just takes a day away from the hustle and bustle of life.  I've also come to realize that both Mace and I need to do things like this more often instead of waiting til we're both so frazzled that it hurts.  So that is one of my goals for the next year is making sure we both take a few days here and there to just let all our cares waste away.  I mean really how many things in life can't wait a day?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Squeeky Clean

Today was gorgeous out.  The sun was shining, there was a slight warm breeze in the air, and little puffy clouds floated in the sky.  It was one of those rare days that a person can truly appreciate.  Its also one of those days that is absolutely perfect for giving your dog a bath. 

Now I have to preface this posting with a statement that Cassie, our wonderful 11 year old dalmation, is never really "dirty" unless she decides to go in the nearby pasture and roll in fresh horse poop.  She is an inside dog for the most part unless we are outside doing stuff or go out in the woods to hike.  But no matter how clean she stays there is no denying that she gets a little funky smelling.  During the summer because she is outside a lot more that Odor De Stinky Pooch gets to be a bit stronger so I try to give her a nice warm bath once every 3 weeks or so.

For years Cassie has fought me when it comes to a bath which I've never understood because I raised labs growing up and whenever there was any form of water nearby they were more than willing to jump in.  Cassie on the other hand used to act like it was a punishment.  She'd tuck her tail between her legs and give me these sad looks as I'd have to take her by the collar and coax her into the bathroom.  I've long since given up trying to do it outside with a hose  and a tub because any time I turned around she'd just jump out and go to the furthest corner of  the yard.  This summer however she seems to like it a bit more.  I think the old tiredness in her bones goes away while I'm soaping her up with warm suds and scrubbing.  She now leans into it.  So even though she gives me these "I don't like this idea" look when I tell her its bath time, once she gets in and feels the warm water rolling over her she seems to enjoy it.

And of course its even better on days like this where she gets a nice warm bath than is able to air dry in the sun outside.  First she runs around the yard shaking off the excess water and then she finds a cozy spat to lay and soak up the rays.  I can't say as I blame her.  Today while she was out drying in the sun I was flaked out on a beach towel, reading a good book, and enjoying the sun.  So now I have a squeeky clean dog who positively glows... now if I could just make the rest of the stuff in my house clean up so easily.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scrappy Fun

Once every three weeks or so a terrific group of local ladies gets together for a scrap booking party.  Yesterday was just such an occasion and luckily I was able to attend this time around.  Because of scheduling conflicts, work, other activities I hadn't been able to attend for a couple months and it was really getting me down.  So just the fact that I was able to go yesterday totally made my day. 

Meredith and Becky usually take turns hosting and introducing the new projects and yesterday was Becky's turn and oooooooh was it a fabulous one.  Somehow she had convinced her husband to cut, sand and put together three 4x4 cubes for each of us to work on as our proverbial "canvas".  Four of the sides of each cube were devoted to pictures, quotes, and decorations while the other two sides provided the means for feeding a rope or ribbon through to hang the blocks once completed.  Most of the women did a vertical hanger but I did a horizontal one so that the blocks could spin and be adjusted when I wanted rather than free spinning.
It was so interesting to see how each of us did something a little different.  We needed 12 photos that we could cut down and incorporate on to each block after we'd taken and ink stamp to them all to add a base color on top of the wood grain.  I am a person that seems to be stuck on earthy tones so I used a nice green, a dusty blue, and of course maroon as my block colors.  I then tore pieces of similar colored but varied patterned scrap booking paper to add texture to the background behind my pictures.  Finally I glued my pictures on each block face and added some extra bells and whistles afterward. 

Since my printer is on the fritz (and has been for way too long) I had to find a theme with prints I already had so I dug in my old college trunk and found some awesome pictures of my friends and I goofing off and making funny faces.  So my project was themed around friendship and having fun.  I tell you its a lot easier to find pictures of us goofing off then ones of us being serious.  Plus using just head shots made for easy trimming and provided a nice mix of combinations that my blocks can be spun to when I hang it up.

While I got all the "hard" work done.  My hanger isn't quite finished because I'm going to put nice natural wood beads between each of the big blocks to give a little bit of space in between them as well as allow for better form when I hang it horizontally.  That way the blocks wont knock into one another and they will be free to spin individually rather than as a whole unit.

Meredith did a great series themed on Halloween and included pictures of jackolanterns, ghosts, skeletons, and family photos around her house and made for an adorable hanger.  Robert did one that was based on all things beach and ocean.  It looked like an amazing beach vacation and the finished product was great.  I didn't get to see Becky's but hopefully she'll post pictures of it in the next few days.  Now I just need to finish mind and I'm thinking that I want to do another one with a Christmas theme to give to my Mom for the holidays.  I just need to make sure my printer is up and running by then so I have more variety to choose from in terms of pictures.  I've also thought about miniaturizing it to make it into a series of Christmas tree ornaments rather than a wall hanger.  We'll see what I come up with. 

Friday, July 20, 2012


It is truly amazing how quickly life can turn on itself.  There are days that you have amazing highs and others that consist of frustrating lows.  At the beginning of the week I was offered a job with the local school, one of those amazing highs, then by Wednesday night I was called by one of the jobs hiring committees and told that I came in second on a position as a Canadian Lynx biologist in Coleville.  I know I can't be too frustrated by all this but I am.  Yet again I was told that I'm super competitive and made the decision a hard one for the hiring committee, which really is a compliment, but I am tired of being the "almost" gal.  But I can't blame them for hiring who they did either.  It came down to me and another person with 5 years of research experience on lynx and bobcat as well as a completed masters degree.  If I was in their position I'd do the same thing.  They are getting a bigger bang for their buck.  Its just frustrating to me that a person that should be putting in for higher pay/experience positions are putting in for the same ones I am, but I suppose that's just the employment market we're in. 

I just shouldn't let it get me down because I know when the time is right things will work out for the best.  And as I've said maybe teaching is a higher calling that I've been ignoring.  People that are close to me keep saying that I'm good at it and Mace keeps telling me that he can tell that it makes me happy, which I can't deny.  I come home telling him stories about the crafty things we're doing, projects we're working on, activities and the ups and downs of my day.  And I'm not nearly as tired at the end of the day as I was when working in my own career field.  But that was a good kind of tired as well.  I really am glad I get the chance to do more work at the school and experience new things working with kids with special needs, but I'm not going to let that stop me from still trying to find my "dream job" whatever that might be.

In other news I had a great conversation with my mom last night on the phone.  We've both been so busy with our mutual activities that we hadn't had the chance to talk for a couple months.  Time flies!  But after 3 hours of catching up we knew the skinny on what each of us has been up to.  She told me that my sister Robin and her family are flying down to Denver to see my other sister Brenda and her family and Mom is inviting herself down so she can see them all.  If that doesn't work out hopefully the whole gang will go up to Cheyenne to visit Mom and participate in some Frontier Days activities.  With Robin coming from New York and her boys living there most of their lives they've never done the CFD stuff like Brenda's kids have done all their lives.  I think going to the parades, hitting up a pancake breakfast, going to the Indian Village, and having fun at the rodeo and carnival would be right up the ally. Hopefully either way it works out they will email me some pictures to see how everyone has grown up.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Awaiting Approval

As I've mentioned in previous posts I've been applying over and over again for jobs in my own field of expertise (wildlife biology) but in the mean time I've been working as a Preschool Teachers Aid as well as substituting fairly regularly at the local elementary/middle school.  You know that old saying "When one door closes, God opens up a window", well apparently that's whats going on with me right now.  I've been so frustrated not being able to find stable work within wildlife but have found such joy working with the local kids that maybe God is trying to tell me something. 

A few days ago the supervising teacher (kind of the same thing as the principal of the school) called and asked me to come in for a meeting about a possible position she had available.  Frankly I was a little surprised, though I know that whenever I went into the school to sub she was always excited to see me come in and we had some great talks over the lunch table in the teachers lounge.  Obviously my background isn't in teaching but I do have fun when I'm there and my heart lifts when I see that new look of understanding cross a child's face when they finally get something they've been having a hard time with. So yesterday I go in for our scheduled meeting and was told that she had been watching me for the past year and was very impressed with the way I handled myself when working with the various students, especially those that are within the special education program at the school.  She said that I always came in with a smile, a positive attitude, and willing to take on any challenge that came my way and those where qualities she was looking for in staff members. 

So after discussing the duties that the position would entail and discussing what kind of flexibility I might have to deal with I was offered a position as a Special Eduction aid.  This would be a 3/4 time position which is great because that means that I still get to work with the preschoolers for the other 1/4 of a 40 hour work week which is something I REALLY REALLY REALLY didn't want to have to give up. So I'll actually be working full time (meaning I get health, life, and retirement benefits) just between two programs at the school.  I have to say I feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity and am currently just waiting on my approval from the school board, which shouldn't be any problem because they already approved my preschool contract and even gave me a raise so I must be doing something right.  I should know within a week or so and I'll have to start going in and meeting with the new special education coordinator for the school so we can work out lesson plans and scheduling.  I also have to see what kind of training and certification I need to get in the next month or so but those are things that I'm really excited about completing.

That being said though I am beginning to wonder what all this means for me in the long run.  Did I make a mistake in college when I went into wildlife.  Deep in my heart I still want for that dream to come true and make a career of it, but am I being told that I'm mean to do something else?  My mom always told me even as a little kid that I had a way with people and was a natural with the extremes of life meaning caring for the elderly and understanding little kids.  And at various points of my life I've worked with both and have never denied that I enjoy it.  So I guess what I'm saying is that while I'm not closing off the possibility of working in wildlife and natural resources, I am going to let go of the reins a bit and follow the road I'm on right now.  Things happen for a reason so who am I to try to explain things that I can't seem to explain.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bucking Bales

I personally don't have any reason to buck bales anymore and haven't done it for a couple years since no one in the family has horses any more, but my friend Meredith has 3 horses who need food for the winter.  So Mace and I volunteered our services for Meredith and her husband Bruce to help them get 6 tons of hay in their barn a couple days ago. 

Now for any of you who don't know what bucking bales consists of, well consider yourself lucky.  First you find someone willing to sell you hay and find out when its going to be cut, dried, and baled.  That's the easiest part.  Usually folks dry and bale on the hottest days of the summer so the hay wont mold over the winter and the bales are good for storage in a barn.  But this also means that you need to buck bales on the hottest days of the year as well. Now on average a small bale weighs 50 lbs so to load a single ton you need to pick up 40 bales from the field in 100+ degree heat.

This is no small feat especially for only two people.  Bruce and Meredith had spent the previous couple evenings after he'd gotten home from work doing it themselves and had gotten 2 1/2 ton into the barn already but I know it was taking a toll on them both.  Ideally you have 4 people working together to buck bales: one to drive the pickup/trailer, one to stack, and two to pick up bales and load them on the trailer as you move along.  With 3 1/2 ton (120 bales) left to pick up and the weather forecasts spelling out rain (something that will ruin good bales in a heart beat) Mace and I were more than willing to go out to their place and give them a hand.  We were able to get both our trailer and Meredith's trailer loaded in no time (well relatively speaking) and were able to get all of it in the barn before the thunder clouds started rolling in that evening.  Of course we were all a bunch of sweaty messes after everything was said and done, and Mace's allergies were going bonkers but we were glad to be able to help them out since they are such wonderful people.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Little Bit Anxious

All my life I've tried to become a more confident person.  And for the most part I've been successful, though in all reality I was a relatively shy person growing up.  Well maybe I shouldn't say shy since I could always talk to "grown ups" and never felt awkward about that.  My shyness mostly revolved around interacting with my own demographic.  But those days are behind me and I think I put up a decent confidence front whenever I interact with new people.  I think most of my friends would have a hard time believing that it was difficult for me to exude that trait but I knew it was necessary.  I tried to put myself out there and have the "take me as I am" attitude and most of the time it worked.  So on the social level I don't think I have issues anymore but when I'm in the process of interviewing for jobs (which I've been doing again with some frequency) I have all those old fears come back to me. 

The anticipation before an scheduled interview is the worst whether its in person or on the phone because I keep trying to predict the questions that are going to be asked and go through the best possible answers I can give but there are always ones I can never really prepare for.  Once the interviews start and I get rolling I'm fine but I truly hate the hours leading up to one, like today.  And I know I shouldn't be anxious, I've been through this dozens of times and know that I come off well and represent myself to the best of my abilities but I can't seem to help it.  I just have to keep telling myself that whatever happens happens and I can only do my best, but I am tired of having that not quite cut it.  I've gotten to the point on so many of these interviews where I've passed the numerous hurdles of the system and make it to the final interviews that can last for a couple hours and find that I'm competing against 2-3 other candidates with either more education or have been working in the industry for 10-15 years.  Which in some ways should be a compliment because I don't have a masters or PhD and am still relatively new in my field yet I am competitive with the people who do have those qualifications. 

I know that I can't get myself bogged down in those details because I can't control who I'm being compared to I can only control my own skills and qualifications, but it does get depressing.  I want so much to get out there and gain new experiences and make not only my family proud but myself.  I know that when I get into something I give 120% and wont disappoint but I just want that chance so badly that it hurts sometimes.  So today I'm trying my best to have a positive outlook, prepare myself, and calm myself down because at this very moment I'm still a little bit anxious.  I'm interviewing for a Fish and Wildlife Biologist II position with the State of Washington and while I know I'm qualified its still a question of who else is too.  I know that there are 4 other candidates interviewing today and we're all out of staters except for one that is in Seattle.  The position is in Colville which in all reality is only a couple hours from where I'm living right now but I know very little about the place since I've never been there.  So we'll see how it goes and let the dice fall where they may.

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Seven Kindoms for a Pool

It wasn't even a week ago that Trout Creek was having 60 degree days with clouds and rain.  Even worse, at night we were dropping below freezing making me very glad that Mace and I didn't end up planting much of a garden this year.  Yet as of right now the temperature is a whopping 104 degrees and does not show any sign of teetering off any time soon. 

I know I've bitched about the seemingly endless cold rainy spring but going from one extreme to the other is just as nuts. Even with the air conditioner going full blast it is sweltering in the house.  The weird thing is that growing up I know that Cheyenne had about a month where we'd have this kind of heat but at least we worked our way up to it, and not only that it was severely dry heat which is sooooooo much better than this hot muggy stuff.  I love living in Montana but I will never get used to the lower elevations and the higher humidity.  It always makes me think that I'm chewing the air rather than breathing it in.

Its on the days like this, where I've been working outside for an hour at a time trying to at least feel like I'm getting stuff accomplished  that I would trade just about anything for a pool to splash in at the end of the day.  I'm not even saying I need a private pool.  I'm saying ANY pool would do.  Trout Creek is the only place I've ever lived that doesn't have a public pool and I think it is a terrible shame.  I'd love one not only to cool off in at the end of the day but to have a bit of a change up in my workout routine.  I'm still doing my circuit training every day and had been running a couple miles every other day, but now that the heat has settled in I just can't seem to run.  Its just too bloody hot out and frankly I'm not to keen on passing out on a dirt road that no one really travels down.  I seriously don't know how those Olympic athletes compete in temperatures like this.  There is a reason I played Spring, Fall and Winter sports ... not Summer.  But I did swim every summer at the public pool.  Lap swimming was a wonderful deal.  Get up early, hit the pool, and feel your muscles and body just eat it all up.  I'd love that opportunity again. 

Now there is a pool 30 miles away in Thompson Falls but I really can't convince myself that the hour long drive both ways plus the gas it takes to get there is worth the effort.    I have folks here that say I should just hop in the river and swim but frankly I've seen some of the contaminant test results for the river here down by the boat docks and I'm just not game for putting any other part of my body in it other than dangling my feet in it.    My next best option is going up some of the other side creeks that are all mountain fed and try to find a hole big enough to dunk myself in.  Which is great and I've done that more than a time or two but its not really swimming its more like shifting from gravely bank to gravely bank without slipping on a major rock. So since I can't seem to find an appropriate solution to my swimming pool dilemma I'll settle for griping about it on here. Here's to hoping the hot spell breaks soon!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Half Way Point

Here it is July 8th and its hard to believe that summer is already half over with.  I've been so busy trying to catch up on household projects and other random events that I've barely noticed that it was even summer.  But now that our busy and high stress business with the fireworks booth is done with for the year its finally time to find some fun things to do with the rest of our summer.  Mace and I were hoping that we'd have a great year with fireworks and be able to take a week or two and go back to the Oregon coast to play on the beach but with the 4th being on a Wednesday we had one of the worst years ever so that's just not going to happen.  Also there are other things around the house that need the money worse soooo we are trying to think of some cheap alternatives. 

I'm always up for going camping but Mace is not much of a camper.  He loves doing stuff in the outdoors ie hiking, hunting, looking for antlers, morel picking, and going and getting wood but since he's always lived so close to the woods he's never really had the desire to camp.  He can go out and do all this stuff and then come back home to a nice cozy bed.  While I understand his point of view its a bit frustrating for me since I LOVE to camp.  I love putting up a tent, cooking over a fire, enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning by a stream or lake, and not being connected to the "real world" for a few days at a time.  But I am hoping I can convince him to do a night or two up on Chicago or Bloom Peak so we can have mountain goats visiting us in the morning.  Coolest experience ever if you haven't ever had it.  They are so far up there that they rarely get human visitors and are so curious that they will come and feed right up against your camp and sniff at you if you are just sitting on a rock.  SOOOOOO COOL! 

I just keep thinking that we are always too serious too much of the time.  Granted there are serious things going on in our lives so its not too much of surprise but last year when we were able to just take a few days after my Vancouver interview and play we came home with so much more energy and such a positive attitude that I think its something we need to do every once in a while.  If I can't convince him to go camping maybe I can convince him to go up to Kalispel/Flathead to hang out with Kenny and Kami for a couple days.  My folks rented an amazing little cottage/room in Big Fork a few years ago when they were on vacation and it would only be about 20 minutes from Kenny and Kami's house.  While it is a bit more expensive than roughing it in the woods it would be a nice change of pace.  Mace and Kenny get along so well that I'm sure they'd find something to go do while Kami and I could either bake or go putzing around Kalispel and Whitefish.  Also Erin and Dan are living in Kalispel now so we could all really get into some trouble.

But until I can figure out the perfect little mini break vacation we'll just keep chugging along with the daily grind.  I'm putting in applications all over the place and actually have a few interviews lined up for the next couple weeks.  Seems like I always have that going on any more.  Which don't get me wrong is a good thing but I wish I would here that I'm hired rather than that I made it to the final 2 or 3 but just didn't quite get the job.  At least I have my contract with the preschool already signed and submitted so I have that to fall back on.  Meredith has been so supportive.  She really loves having me as her aid but understands that I want to get back into my own field and has given me some glowing recommendations.  Truly she is an amazing woman.  She, Bruce, and their son Cade even came and bought a few fireworks at the booth this year just to stop by and say hello.  I wish no matter what we end up doing  I could pack her up and take her along.  But that's just not the way the world works.  Sometimes I wonder if this process is somehow God telling me to change my path but I can seem to get confirmation one way or another.  Each interview I arrange gives me hope yet when the job doesn't come through it makes me question everything else.  I guess that's just the way things work some times.