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Books for the kiddos
Books for the kiddos.

Salmon snagging season opened up today. In the fall mature landlocked kokanee salmon swim out of their lakes upstream into small gravelly streams to spawn and die. For a short window we humans are allowed to snag them from the shallow water. By snag, they mean literally. The snagger drgas a heavy treble hook through the water and attempts to hook the flank of a fish. Sounds crazy. I’m gonna give it a go with some people I know soon. We’ll see what happens.

If you’ve been following this page since its inception you might recall our first holiday season was spent on the west coast. We had our first urban bloat fest while visiting Portland, OR. We had just left the limited culinary landscape of Helena and landed smack into an eaters dream world. During that sojourn we went to a holiday party.  The party was hosted by the cousin of Dan Roberts (the maker of Burt’s Minstrel guitar), Suzanne Lauber. Dan and Suzanne wanted us to come by and show off the first Roberts guitar. I have not seen Suzanne since but with the wonders of the internet we’ve stayed in touch.  You can read that post about our meeting HERE. Suzanne has had many a kind and encouraging word for us over these past 9 years. There’s a lot to dislike about social media but I feel like it has given us penpals all over the world. These penpals have opened doors and offered us a real community as we move from place to place. Last week we received about a hundred pounds of school supplies from Suzanne for us to take to our kids in Mexico. Pencils, crayons, erasers, easy readers, notebooks, pencil sharpeners. All brand new. I am thrilled and the kids will be delighted. Thanks you, Suzanne. Thanks also to my cousin Cara for sending a pile of fun stuff as well.

Burt likes to complain about the weight of all these things we accumulate. I told him to look on the bright side. We aren’t toting cat litter, cat food, or feminine hygiene products anymore.

The title refers to the fact that this sight is constantly barraged by Russian spam. They don’t even try to hide it. They write in Russian. The top categories this month are cash for clunkers, sex on-line, and Russians. Only the cash for clunkers has a chance of a response.

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A team of turkeys got a turkey

This 95 year old powerhouse lets people hunt the land she's lived on since 1955.
This 95 year old powerhouse lets people hunt the land she’s lived on since 1955.

When Burt called Mary Louise and asked for permission to hunt her block management area she asked him not to knock on the door too early. She didn’t want to have to get dressed before 8 AM. To avoid an awkward pajama party Mary Louise suggested we hunt first and then come by her house later to fill out the permission slips. So that’s what we did. We’d met our hostess two years ago and had landed several turkeys that trip. This year the turkeys were few but we had more fun. When we finally arrived on her doorstep to fill out the MT hunting slips Mary Louise confessed she’d just gotten up after a night of dancing at the local bar until 2 AM. She wanted us to know this was not a typical activity for her. When I spotted a birthday card I asked her if she’d just had a birthday she confessed to being 95 years old. Burt and I know a lot of seniors. So far Mary Louise holds the crown for fittest. Next we spotted playing cards and she told us she plays Bridge, too. She learned at 84. Be like Mary Louise. She still mows her own lawn (it’s a rider, but still.) She’s living on her own in a remote town of about 60 people and welcoming all kinds of strangers to hunt her property. She drives to a nearby community to play Bridge once a week. She still drives.

Despite our best efforts and our team being an average of 50 years younger than May Louise we only got one turkey. The wily birds did not cooperate. The flock in Mary Louise’s front yard scattered behind an anti-hunting landowner’s adjacent fences as soon as Mary Louise exhorted us to go and get them out of her yard. Much to Mary Louise’s chagrin. She hates all the poop in her driveway.

Today I am writing from the gNash parked in Helena. The truck has been successfully repaired and returned. The massive oil leak was just a bad gasket and hose. Olive picked up some GI upset on our hunting trip and had to spend last night at the vet on an IV and anti-nausea medications. Normally I’d take a wait and see approach on Olive and her digestion but I noticed she had pale gums so I worried it might be serious. I have since learned that pale gums are a sign of dehydration and, while it was very expensive, seeking medical care was the right thing to do. Meanwhile, I got my second shingles vaccine yesterday and feel like i have the flu. Body aches, headache, no appetite, kinda like Ollie-belle. They say the younger you are the more pronounced the side effects as your immune systems learns to fight the shingles virus.

More interesting news is my dad is in the path of hurricane Florence and is ‘sheltering’ in place despite mandatory evacuation orders. I am not happy about this. He is not listening to a gaggle of friends, relatives, and government officials. This could be the source of some of my stomach upset. I told him to fill his bath tubs while I drain his bank account. A little idle threat to get him laughing but it did not get him to move inland.

Turkey feather art by Mary Louise.
Turkey feather art by Mary Louise.
Tea Turkey
Tea Turkey
Burt got our turkey.
Burt got our turkey.
Working the fields looking for turkeys and anything else.
Working the fields looking for turkeys and anything else.
Olive on the decline.
Olive on the decline.
New cat in the house.
New cat in the house. Welcome Kirby McConnelstadt.
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Turkey Break

Montana's Block Management Program provides access to private lands for hunters.
Montana’s Block Management Program provides access to private lands for hunters.

Turkeys are thriving in Montana. After years of tight controls where a person could only get two turkeys in the entire state you can now harvest up to twelve in a year but there’s a catch those turkeys have to come from different places andin spring and fall. You’d have to be determined and lucky to find twelve huntable turkeys in a year. We’re happy to be able to try for the two we have time to chase but if we were here year round I’m sure we’d be devising a turkey extravaganza strategy. I love eating turkey.

Today we’ll head up to Kila to meet Burt’s daughter and her boyfriend and the four of us will try for an early and wild Thanksgiving.  We have the next four days to get it done. Wish us luck.

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The end is in sight

Shower - rectilinear fixtures all around.
Shower – rectilinear fixtures all around. The one faucet isn’t on because the set screw had no threads.

My services are suddenly in demand as we wrap up this major remodel. My new meds and the increase in work has improved my tennis game. I’m quicker than I’ve been in a while. Laying flooring requires hand strength and squats. Look out Dad and Sara Gay, Burt and I are in training to take you on this winter.

This summer’s weather has been better than we could have hoped. There was a month on smokey skies but only a few days over ninety degrees. The evenings have cooled down without exception. We haven’t needed our A/C once. The post-Mimi remodel has given the gNash new life. There’s more room and better fengshui. Aside from the truck being at the mechanics for over two weeks it’s looking like a successful summer on the Gypsy Carpenter business and pleasure plan.

Burt thinks we have about 8 days left of work. we’re going to play tennis, music and hike and work from now until our departure for Portal.

Powder room floor demo.
Powder room floor demo.
Our Mexican hammer has the best staple removal tool.
Our Mexican hammer has the best staple removal tool.
The stove is in and it works.
The stove is in and it works. Check out that back splash.
Then I did this. What is wrong with me?
Then I did this. What is wrong with me?
Drilling tile requires a water cooling stream. Here's our system.
Drilling tile requires a water cooling stream. Here’s our system.
Here's a visiting box elder bug. Some say stink bug.
Here’s a visiting box elder bug. Some say stink bug.
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Fishing again

Dearborn near confluence with the South fork of teh Dearborn
Dearborn near confluence with the South fork of the Dearborn

Yesterday we had a goal of reaching the Southfork of the Dearborn River and fishing our favorite stretch of stream back to the car. We didn’t make it. A late start and earlier evenings left us with too little time to walk 4 miles in and then fish five miles of stream. Despite that it was a grand adventure. Large bear turds and perfect weather heightened our enjoyment and attention to detail. I saw sculpins swimming everywhere and a couple of garter snakes, too. I also had not one but two epic battles with fish. I lost the 18″ brown trout just as I tried to land it despite Burt’s help. It broke the line and made off with my hopper. I landed a 14″ rainbow with Burt’s help but not before falling to my knees. In the gravel. Those knees were not happy flooring today.

New gravel bar
New gravel bar
Snake in water.
Snake in water.
This fish nearly won the battle.
This fish nearly won the battle.
Crawdads in teh fish belly.
Crawdads in the fish belly.
VIxen with a hammer, a spin-off of the Gypsy Carpenters.
VIxen with a hammer, a spin-off of the Gypsy Carpenters.
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Work Update

Double vanity with carpenter.
Double vanity with carpenter.

The truck has been at the mechanic’s for over a week. Rumors of a reunion trickle in. Maybe we’ll see it again early next week. Other rumors of her possible demise were premature. She was leaking oil like a broken pipeline but it turned out to be a connector deep in the engine. So we hear. These last ten days Burt and I and the Olvis have been sharing our 24 year old Subaru and getting things done. Actually, it’s Jen’s Subaru. It was mine from 1998 until 2009. I gave it to Jen when we hit the road. Lucky for us it is a spare car in her corral now and we could borrow it for the summer. It has made for a much more interesting summer for me since I was more mobile than usual.

The job moves along and as usual for us, hitch itch is making us cranky. Some more than others. The kitchen is nearly complete. The backsplash was grouted today. The stove can be moved in now. The dishwasher and a faucet need to be installed. The faucet is electronic. You wave at it and wash your hands just like at Coscto. New skill set coming up.

Installing the tile backsplash.
Installing the tile backsplash.
More flooring
More flooring
Tub and magic wand.
Tub and magic wand.
Vanity.
Vanity. That drawer front was damaged. A new one is on the way.
Shower
Shower
Burt gets a little edgy at the end of the job.
Burt gets a little edgy at the end of the job.
Detail on backsplash.
Detail on backsplash.
I am tired but I am also sneaking up on it.
I am tired but I am also sneaking up on it. Sorting the lengths in advance makes the work go quicker.
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Can’t we talk about something more PLEASANT?

Roz Chast's memoir
Roz Chast’s memoir

Have you read a graphic novel? How about a memoir? Roz Chast, the New Yorker cartoonist, captured the last years of her parent’s lives in her book Can’t we talk about something more PLEASANT? I read this book a little while ago when I checked it out of the library. This month, thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lewis and Clark Library is giving this book away and sponsoring a month’s worth of events on aging and dying. Roz Chast herself will be here to discuss this book. I picked up our free copy today.  Our society’s refusal to face the facts of life must change. Where all headed down the same road. Let’s stop pretending. The book comes with a calendar of events and they all look interesting.  Burt and I plan on attending several. Firstly there’s Roz’s meet and greet. Then there’s a talk on home funerals and green burials. And finally we hope to make it to the death cafe, a tea and cake event where we gather with strangers to talk about the one thing we all have in common: Death. There are also talks on hospice and Alzheimer’s disease and fitness events. We’re gonna skip the work outs. Laying flooring and setting tile on top of fishing and tennis has us whipped into shape this summer.

Check it out at The Big Read.

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Lamb Jam

A chef prepares the judges' plates.
A chef prepares the judges’ plates.

Yesterday we were guests at Montana’s first Lamb Jam. The Lamb Jam is not a gross aspic of pulverized lamb, nor is it a christian music festival (Lamb of God), but it is a competitive, improvisational jam for chefs sponsored by the sheep industry to promote the eating of lamb meat. These foodie events happen across the west and Montana was finally having her first event. I already knew I was not a fan of lamb but Burt is and so are our friends so I played along. Within minutes of taking our seats I knew we were in for a looooong afternoon. All signs pointed to no food delivery efficiency. I predict our young 4H servers will be scared for life.

Our table went rogue with smuggled alcohol and soon we were ignoring social strictures.  As this was the first year I’ll refrain from ranting about the logistical difficulties that caused suffering on all sides. I worried about the child labor but I also felt sorry for cooking teams trying to time their food preparation. Suffice it to say traffic jam was more fitting descriptor than jamming as in riffing on a theme. Our table used our loss of inhibition to cut the line and also pressure organizers to acquiesce to our demands. I don’t drink much but how can anybody expect a din filled room of adults to spend 4 hours waiting for trickles of food without imbibing? Add in a speaker from a family known to drone on without a point and they were lucky there wasn’t a riot.

On the upside: The food was great. Kudos to the food prep teams. Our table was filled with smart amiable people. We had a lot of laughs.  Everyone was full of helpful ideas on how to thwart our passive waiting for food. I still don’t like lamb. The sliders, which were heavily seasoned, were very yummy. Anything that tasted like lamb was not for me. Burt lucked out because he got my refusals. I won the table’s party favor. I knit handbag resembling a lamb. We filled it with pilfered butter, leftover rolls, and lemon bars and then we ran for home.

One final note: https://www.facebook.com/pg/LambJamFestival/posts/ Check out  this musical Lamb Jam.

Lamb themed goody.
Lamb themed goody.
IMG_4084
Judge’s plate.
Burt and Jay are thrilled not to win the lamb.
Burt and Jay are thrilled not to win the lamb.
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Bath Tub

Space for the tub
Space for the tub.

Measuring, to me, seems to be the most basic skill of carpentry. You can’t do anything without measuring. This bathroom formerly had a jetted tub fit into this nook. The remodel would have a stand alone tub in the vacant space left when the old tub was removed. Our trusty carpenter Burt would have to help the client pick out a tub that fit nicely in the space and then without actually having the tub he’d have to make sure water and drains were in the right place. It’s no fun when the spigot doesn’t reach the tub. Messy, too. I am happy to say everything was just where it was supposed to be.

Work is wrapping up. We’ve got maybe half the square footage of flooring installed. The bathroom is just waiting for the toilet and shower door. Doors need painting. A kitchen back splash remains to be tiled and then it’s time to reinstall trim and do touch ups. There is light ahead.

Considering the install
Considering the install.
The drain has to line up. Feet must be adjusted.
The drain has to line up. Feet must be adjusted.
It's tight under there.
It’s tight under there.
It's in!
It’s in!
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