Eclipse 2017 in Montana

I wasn’t going to get all into the eclipse like most of the country, I’m glad I did a little. We didn’t travel to see it. We just stayed home. We didn’t get the glasses. 

I looked up on the NASA website about how to make a pin hole viewer.

I used a cereal box and some tin foil and tape.

My friend who lives next door came over and we made a few more for her kids too.

They are goofy looking but they worked.

If you looked in the top end you could see the tiny little dot that was the sun. 

We stood outside looking in our boxes when her son said the library was giving out glasses down at the park. He took off on his bike and came back with one pair.

I tried to take a picture with my IPhone and the eclipse glasses. It didn’t really work.

Pretty soon most of the block was outside and came over to see what we were doing. We were passing around glasses and boxes talking about how we remember seeing the one when we were kids.

It got chilly and a little dark, but not much more than when the wildfires had filled the air with smoke. 

My son loved it. He was so excited about the eclipse. Autism didn’t get in the way this time. He looked in boxes and used the glasses just like the rest of us. He was great and didn’t even throw a fit when it was over.

We got to goofing around and tried the “finger waffle” method of seeing the eclipse. It didn’t work too badly.

We were really lucky to have completely clear skies to see the eclipse. Unlike my poor hubby, who is in Salina, Kansas right now. He only got a short glimpse because of the clouds.

After is was all over, we came inside and watched the coverage on tv. It was cool to see all the people coming together across the entire nation in wonder for something like this. If you’ll forgive the pun, this event has eclipsed the strife that has been so prevalent in our nation for too long. It is a good reminder that we can be one people after all.


Donkey Basketball

Donkey Basketball. Sounds funny doesn’t it? Well, it is. It is a game involving players riding donkeys up and down a basketball court trying to get the ball in the hoop while staying on the donkey. There is no dribbling but there is passing to other teammates. If the ball goes awry then the player must get off their donkey and chase down the ball and throw it to another player then get back on their donkey.  The donkey’s wear little rubber shoes to protect them and the floor of the gym. It isn’t a fast paced game, but it is fun.The Shelby FFA kids were having a fundraiser by way of playing Donkey Basketball. They asked the Conrad FFA group to bring a team to help out. My daughter volunteered without a second thought. Her and a couple of other kids rounded up enough members for the team. They donned fake mustaches and little sombreros and called themselves the Caballos diablos. Incidentally the team was all girls with one guy. Most of them had never been on a donkey, but they had ridden horses. It was an eyeopening experience.

When they arrived they found out they would be playing against the three time running champions- the firefighters. They were very intimidated but unbelievably enough the kids won! The Shelby FFA kids were playing against the Shelby Faculty. That match was a comedy of errors because it seemed the kids weren’t quite ready for their teachers to be so game. The final match was the Shelby FFA against the Conrad FFA. Nothing like friendly competition! Was more like a free for all and the donkeys were winning.

 There have been a lot of articles about the cruelty of donkey basketball. They say it violates the donkey’s rights and subjects them to frightening circumstances. I can’t say if that is true in other places but here in Montana, it wasn’t true at all. As a matter of fact, we live with an abundance of animals here in Montana and everyone is brought up to treat them right. 

The donkeys were subjected to lots of petting during half-time, but beyond that they were treated great.

From the looks of the games, it was the donkeys that were in charge of things. Most of the time they were meandering where ever they felt like regardless of what the riders wanted and in wonderful Montana fashion, the riders just laughed and let them go where they would.  My poor daughter had picked a very sleepy donkey that spent most of its time visiting with the audience and getting its ears scratched. She even ended up in the corner at one point because the donkey decided that he was done. 

All in all it was a wonderful night and my daughter said that she was glad she did it and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The FFA raised a lot of money for the food drive and everyone went home smiling, even the donkeys.

Prom 2017

Prom is upon us and once again the quest for a dress raises the stress levels of every girl around. Honestly I find the whole affair somewhat ridiculous. You have to find a dress, you can’t wear the one from last year, they are stupidly expensive and WTF guys get to rent theirs!

So we go shopping. My daughter is modest. She doesn’t like lots of skin showing so she wanted a long sleeved dress. HAHA! Everything we found was strapless or spaghetti strap. She tried some on then complained that she was naked! Then we found a two piece dress that had a long sleeved top but the skirt? It was poofy and barely came to mid-thigh! Who thought of that?

I told my daughter that if she loved the top then we could work around the skirt.

We went to JoAnn Fabrics and found a beautiful material that would match her top. We found a pattern and all the bits and bobs we needed to make it with.

Once home I sewed her the skirt that she wanted.

Long straight and with a split on the side.

She was very happy.

Not a traditional prom dress but she felt like a princess anyway.

Then came the hair problem. She went to the stylist to get it done up all pretty with a loose braid and all, but it didn’t last once she got home. It had to be redone. She she did it up the best she could and I fixed the rest. I’m no hairdresser but I think it turned out alright between the two of us.

Then the real fun began. She was going with group of friends and they all came to our house to take pictures together.

They have something here that is called the Grand March. I had never seen this until we moved here, but it’s kinda cool.  All the kids who are attending prom and their families, or really anyone who wants to, come to the high school auditorium. They announce each couple or group of friends and they parade across the stage showing off their dresses and tuxes. They often do some pretty goofy poses, like my daughter did. Then they crown the King and Queen and they have the royals’ dance. Then the kids go to prom and the parents go home. It’s kinda cool because everyone gets to see all the kids in their finery. 

So we got past another year. We spent less and laughed more. Prom was a success.

Ice Fishing with the 5th Grade

The 5th grade class recently went on a field trip to learn about ice fishing. The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks department were in charge of the trip and we went out to Bynum reservoir. There were a lot of buses there from other schools. We had our lunch and then the kids played in the snow until they were ready for us on the ice. It was about 26 degrees but the sky was mostly sunny and there was no wind. All in all a beautiful day.

The kids got a crash course in ice fishing and safety. The MFW keep the fish that are caught for the science classes to dissect later in the year. They calculated that they needed 981 fish this year for  all the school but so far had only caught about 50. So the kids were eager to help catch as many as they could.

Then we headed out onto the ice. It was about a half mile walk out to where the holes had been drilled. The kids spread out and found a hole each. The ice was about 16 inches thick but it was a little disconcerting looking down through the hole and seeing where the ice ended and knowing that we were sitting on nothing but frozen water. There were plenty of volunteers and MFW officers to help the kids.img_8859

My son, his aide, and I trucked around to different holes trying our luck. You have to understand that my son being autistic doesn’t have much of an attention span, so we ended up spending about a minute maybe two at each hole before moving on. img_8857

At one point my son walked past a fish that someone had caught. It was laying on the ice waiting for the MFW to come and get it. As he passed it moved. He jumped and ran away screaming, but we got him back and showed him the fish. After that he got excited and wanted to hold it. We explained all about the parts of a fish. Then they told him that if he kissed the fish he would have good luck fishing the rest of his life.

Now before you get all weirded out, it is actually a fishing tradition up here. At first, he was confused and skeptical about kissing this fish but after the bus driver explained he was game and gave it a big smacking kiss!

After about an hour of fishing unsuccessfully, most of the kids were getting bored. Some of the boys started plowing through the snow on their knees and found a fish frozen just under the surface of the ice. So that kept them going for a while. My son decided that he needed to make snow angels.img_8865 And his aide joined in. img_8863

 We had some trouble getting back to the bus. My son didn’t want to leave and it turned into a wrestling match on the ice, but finally the MFW came along with their ATV and gave us a ride on the little trailer they were pulling. The kids didn’t catch very many fish, but they had fun. All in all it was a good day.


Snow and Mice

I live in Montana. We have wildlife aplenty and that includes mice. We also have snow and freezing temperatures. It has been mostly below zero so far this winter. Now if you combine the two, you get cold mice. Most mice look for somewhere nice and warm like a house or a barn. Not me. I got the mouse that was looking for a mobile home- namely my Jeep.  When my son and I were getting in to head for school the other morning I found this…img_8825

all over the seat. It was bits of the animal cracker box that had been sitting on the seat. The little bugger tried both ends of the box but gave up at the foil.img_8826

Upon further inspection I found more…img_8828

The little mouse had torn apart the old empty beef jerky wrapper that was under the seat.img_8829

It also shredded half a roll of paper towels that were in the back.

I’m a live and let live kind of girl, but this mouse was making an absolute mess of my Jeep! I started searching every nook and cranny that I could find for the furry little beast but had no luck in finding it. I only found lots of shredded paper and mouse droppings. I suddenly had horrible visions of driving down snow covered icy roads and swerving to my death because the mouse decided to run up my leg or something. I knew I had to do something about it.

First I had to find out if the mouse was still in the Jeep. I set the animal cracker box in a different location, but so far no more bits have been ripped off of it. I could leave d-CON out for it to eat, but knowing my luck it would crawl up under the dash and die where I couldn’t get to it and the whole Jeep would smell like death for days. I thought about taking my cat out and letting her wander around inside the cab and see if she could find it but it’s a bit cold to sit out there waiting for cat/mouse instinct to set in. I might just have to set out a trap with peanut butter on it and hope for the best.

I guess we’ll see what happens. Who knows maybe I’ll be lucky and the little gypsy mouse has figured out that my Jeep isn’t going to fulfill its wanderlust and move on to someone more well traveled.

Thoughts and Pictures: Just Passing By

Just some observations that I’ve made in passing.

  1. Kids are really inventive. If you’ll notice the second floor window on the Middle School building. There is a Powerade bottle sitting on the sill. The window swings outward. I don’t know how they got it there but I appreciate the skill involved. img_8678
  2. Apparently the moth found the proverbial flame and decided to stay instead of burning up. I noticed this as the wax melted. img_8669
  3. This is the ice in the rain barrel. It froze over oddly. The ice is about a 1/4 of an inch thick but it is ridged and there is a perfect diamond in the upper right that is not frozen at all. Weird. img_8656
  4. This is a stack of potting soil outside of a store. As you can see there is a hole. I was just wondering if someone was taking a page from “The Great Escape” and taking the bag home one hand full at  time.img_8642
  5. A beautiful Montana sunrise. No explanation needed.img_8630
  6. I just love the simplicity of this apartment’s Halloween decorating. Just a simple Jack O’Lantern, but for some reason it seemed so cozy and homey. img_8629
  7. This is just my cat being melodramatic in the neighbor’s decorations.img_8590
  8. And last but not least….pink snow courtesy of sunrise. img_8521

Good Deeds

I’m not writing this to get praise but rather to remind people that the world does contain good people. Last week, the morning after Halloween I was walking my son to school and on the way back I found  this…


It was lying folded up on the sidewalk about a block from the school. Whoever Naomi was she was going to be upset later when she found her money missing.

I could have ripped off the note and kept the $5, but I’m not that kind of person. I walked to the High School and headed for the office. As I started to tell my story, the secretary looked confused at first then when I produced the money she looked surprised and then concerned.  I told her that I had no idea who Naomi was but I was confidant someone did and I would like to leave the money with her to return. She was more that happy to help. She was sure that Naomi would indeed be upset that she had lost it and she would restore it to the poor girl.

I thanked her and headed home feeling like I’d done a good deed.  I hope that Naomi got her money and I hope this will help others know that honesty is still alive and well. Doing a good thing when there is nothing to gain is a character trait we should all cultivate.

Now go out and do good!

Flathead Writers Conference 2016

Just attended the Flathead Writers’ Conference in beautiful Kalispell, MT this weekend. There was a great turn out. Got to see a lot of old friends and made some new ones. 

It felt a little different this year, maybe because a lot of the presenters were so laid back and relaxed. The presentations were very informative but also informal and funny. Author of The Riddle in Ruby, Kent Davis even pulled his agent, Susanna Einstein, in on his presentation to do a little play acting with him. img_8495

The meet and greet held at the Hampton Inn gave everyone a chance to get up and socialize. Drinks and finger foods kept normally introverted writers from sneaking back to their rooms and hiding. Instead we laughed and talked about anything that came up.

As a writer of Fantasy and Science Fiction, I often feel a bit out of tune with other writers. Most I meet are either non-fiction, mystery, or romance writers. I don’t often get to meet writers of my own genre. However this time…

Monica Poole, author of the Science Fiction book Fourth Son, was one of the presenters. She was an absolute kick to listen too. Her topic was World Building for All Genres and I am pleased to say that I realized that I know a lot more about world building than I thought. So yay me!

But when all is said and done it was time to head home and apply all my new knowledge to my current works. I look forward to attending again next year, who knows I might even be published by then…