Cramming in the work and fun

Kitchen
Kitchen minus the island.

The new kitchen is nearly done. The modern cabinets are installed and we are waiting for the counter and appliance delivery. After that it’s just a faucet and touch-up paint. Work continues in the master bathroom. This week we’ll install a heated floor and finish laying tile. Soon after it will be time for the vanity install and counters. After all that we’ll be on our knees for a few too may days installing the engineered flooring in the living room, master bedroom, powder room, entry, and laundry room. I’m going to need a tylenol.

Last night we hiked with a friend at Priest Pass just southwest of Helena. The pass is so named because 19th century Jesuits left behind a stone cross embedded in the hillside. I like going up there to see the remains of the narrow gauge railroad that served as temporary route over the continental divide while they built a tunnel. There’s also an old adit and miner’s shack. Mine and railroad spur were abandoned before the 20th century started. The trestle has stood strong for over 100 years but now time and beetle killed trees are conspiring to bring it down. Yesterday we found ripe huckleberries and whortleberries and a trio of through hikers. The through hikers had started at or near the border with Mexico and were only a week or so away from arriving in Canada. Our friend John shared some homegrown cherry tomatoes and pea pods. He works for Helena Food Share so he knows how to share food. I ate my snack of cold fried spaghetti and dodn’t offer a bite to anyone. That’s how I am.

I hope your summer is full of excursions and interesting people, too.

Range hood detail
Range hood detail
Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail
Through hikers enjoying fresh veggies John happened to be carrying.
Through hikers enjoying fresh veggies John happened to be carrying.
Flea bane
Flea bane
The three-spotted mariposa lily.
The three-spotted mariposa lily.
Juvenile red cross bill
Juvenile red cross bill
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Semi-Retired is Darn Fun

Welcome to Helena chicken dinner with Rosemary and Ed.
Welcome to Helena chicken dinner with Rosemary and Ed.

This is our first summer free of work in 5 years and 3 weeks in we are loving it. No work deadlines are looming and we can do whatever we want. A very freeing feeling. The first 2 weeks were spent traveling up the west coast and reconnecting with left coast friends and family and making trailer repairs. The last week has been in the Helena area. Helena was home for 30 years for Burt and 20 for me. Connections are diverse and deep. It’s always hard to figure out what to do and who to see. Generally we play it loose and see what happens. This was our first visit in two years. Many connections have naturally faded and some have strengthened despite time and distance. My friend Ed and I think it all depends on a person’s preferred method of touching base. There is texting, facebooking, emailing, phoning , snail mail and more… If you do not share the same preferred manner of communication the lines are quiet. Add to that the demands of jobs and children and who has time to chat?

This visit has had more elements of loss than earlier returns to our former hometown. Some people have noticeably declined and others died. My musical mentors are a generation older than me and the changes there are most noticeable but the loss of my peer, Linda, the sharpest pain. We had Linda’s husband over for dinner with Rosemary and Ed and it was a joy to reconnect. I only cried once when I learned half of Linda’s ashes were spread up on our favorite running trail. Linda and I ran it together the first time when I was 34. That run became a regular part of our lives for many years. From that 7 1/2 mile route we hatched our idea to run a marathon. The ridge trail with its varied terrain and expansive views became the mainstay training run as we added longer and longer weekend runs to our schedule. Frequently the ridge trail was the last bit of a 20+ mile endeavor.

Aside from our grueling and expanding schedule of eating with friends we managed to play tennis and bridge and music AND visit the doctor for checkups. We’ve scheduled some shows for July in Helena with former bandmates Mike and Barb. Announcements coming soon. We also took a tour of the former Asarco lead smelter with Betsy. Betsy and her team have done an astounding job reclaiming this heavily contaminated industrial site. I feel very lucky to see the work I first imagined happening in 1998 nearing its conclusion. I feel even luckier that I didn’t actually have to do most of the work.

After 5 non-stop days of play (thanks Ed and Rosemary for the constant doggie daycare) we headed to the greater Yellowstone area to retrieve our rowboat from Sue and Jay’s river house. The Sea King rides again. We are headed to Montana’s northwest territories and her many streams and lakes. Fish will be eaten. Jen and Robin will be visited. Pinochle will be played. A few nails might be nailed. But first Yellowstone….

Brunch with Claire
Brunch with Claire
Up on the slag pile again.
Up on the slag pile again.
By pass and new channel of Prickly Pear Creek at former Asarco lead smelter.
By pass and new channel of Prickly Pear Creek at former Asarco lead smelter.
Pickup tennis match.
Pickup tennis match. We ran into a friend of Burt’s. These two have skills but we managed to beat them. A grudge rematch will be scheduled soon.
Jay looks like he's giving Burt a lecture but he's not.
Jay looks like he’s giving Burt a lecture but he’s not.
Burt gowning around.
Burt gowning around.
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