Kiss The Fiddler

Ramblings, moments of humor, random thoughts, experiences, insights, simple wisdom, and whatever else I feel like sharing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Unmistakable Sound

There's an unmistakable sound that I hear during the summer. It's the sound of big heavy fire planes.

A fire stated on Sunday afternoon near Corvallis. In a very short time, the fire blew up, sending up an impressive column of smoke.

Luken and I went for a drive to get some pictures.

The planes have been busy all day. I listen to them fly up and down the valley, two by two loosely. This the Dominic Point Fire. Use the link if you want to learn more about it.

Our fire department has an engine on the fire today. Be safe out there, guys.


More Fest!

On Sunday, Kara was sick so Luken and I went back to the Bluegrass festival.

We took our own chairs this time. We had cold drinks and snacks and Luken had a stash of toys and his woobie. We had another great day there!


Saturday Adventures

I had a car seat check Saturday morning. When I got home, we went on a hike. We went up to Larry Creek and hiked the Fire Ecology Trail. It's one of our favorite local hikes.

Luken is old enough now that he can "hike" part of the way himself. His max is about 1 mile.

After that, he needs a ride.

After our hike, lunch, and a nice long nap, we went to the Hard Times Bluegrass Festival. It was about halfway between Hamilton and Darby.

We sat on our blanket on the ground in the shade and listened to really great music.

The company wasn't half bad either.

It was a great spot for a festival. We had a great time!

We came home at the end of the day happy, filthy and tired.


Luken's Bithday

Luken turned 2 on Friday! Kara took the day off work so we could celebrate as a family. We had a good day although I didn't manage to take any pictures. I have pictures of the day before and the day after though.

We had planned on going to Splash Montana for Luken's birthday. It was so bloody hot though that even the water park didn't sound like fun. So we did other things instead.

I worked on the floor in our living room. So far, so good.

On his birthday, Luken got to play in the park with Grandma Bonnie.

We went with Larkin and her boys to see Toy Story 3 in 3D. It was both little boys' first time at a movie. They did surprisingly well. We managed to stay for the entire show!

After the movie, we all went to Coldstone. Yum!

I think Luken had a good day. I sure did.

I am full of all sorts of emotions that my baby is two years old. I'm so happy to be his mama. I'm sort of sad that he's not a little baby anymore. I'm excited for what lies ahead of him. He is such a wonderful child.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sapphire Adventure

First, we got dressed, complete with headbands. Aren't we bad ass?

Then we drove miles and miles on a windy mountain road.

Over Skalkaho Pass

Past an old burn area

Past a really pretty waterfall and nice mountain meadows.

Past a really rock scree.

All the way to Gem Mountain.

We met Larkin, Mac, Kanon, my dad Leonard, and his wife Christine there.

This whole looking for sapphires thing is fun! I've been there several times and can't wait to go back.

You pay fifteen bucks for a bucket of gravel.

These guys shovel gravel into your bucket from this pile.

After you get your bucket of goods, you find a table, a screen, a pair of tweezers, and an empty film canister. Then you dump some of your gravel into your screen.

And wash it in the giant water trough. Rock and shake. Rock and shake. Rock and shake.

When your gravel is clean and you've shaken all the sapphires to the bottom of the screen, you take your dripping rocks back to your table and dump the screen upside down.

If you've done a good job washing your gravel, the sapphires will be sitting right on top of your dumped out rocks. They look like little pieces of glass. They can be just about any color.

Here, Larkin and Kanon pick through their screen of gravel.

Monka leans over to help.

Looks like Lollie (Luken's name for Christine) found a nice one!

While the big people hunted for sapphires, the little people played.

They dug in a gravel pile.

They pushed "big trucks!" around the grounds.

There were fun things to climb on.


and poles.

Everybody had a good time. When we were finished with our gravel buckets, we gathered for lunch.

It was a great day! I enjoyed the time with my family. We should get together more often.


Date Night!

I went on a date last night!

My date and I went to a concert in Bonner Park in Missoula.

We got ice cream. It was yummy and sticky.

My date sang along with the music. It was sweet.

I am so in love! I had a great date!


Skalkaho Highway

Skalkaho Pass

Highway 38, a primative seasonal road three miles south of Hamilton also known as the Skalkaho Highway, links Hamilton and Philipsburg. This drive into the Sapphire Mountains takes you on some of Montana's least traveled mountain roads. The road was once a heavily used trail for Indians. A road was built over the route in 1924 to link the mining areas in the mountains with the agricultural communities of the Bitterroot Valley. This is a narrow winding drive that offers some excellent views and takes you past Skalkaho Falls. Trailers are not recommended as there are narrow curves with limited pull-outs.

There are two campgrounds along Highway 38, Black Bear Campground with 6 camping sites in the Darby Ranger District of the Bitterroot National Forest and Crystal Creek Campground with 3 camping sites in the Pintlar Ranger District of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Skalkaho Pass sits at 7,260 feet above sea level.

This isolated, mountainous 23,000-acre wildlife area is forested with dense spruce and subalpine fir, amid beautiful lush meadows. The area is closed to hunting. In the spring and summer, look for Gray and Steller jays, dark-eyed juncos, Brewer's sparrows, olive-sided Flycatchers, and Hairy woodpeckers.

Visitors in the fall may see large concentrations of elk and hear bull elk bugle from the high basins in early morning or late evening, especially east of Fool Hen and Kneaves Lakes. Hikers can see mountain goats around Dome Shaped Mountain, near the junction of trails 313 and 86, which follow the ridge around Skalkaho Basin. Watch for moose along trail 321 in the Burnt Fork drainage. Mule deer, badgers, coyotes, and black bears are common throughout the area. Mountain biking is a good way to see wildlife, especially during the fall road closure period, October 15 through December 1. Trail 313 offers prime opportunities for overnight cross-country ski trips.

Since only the first 10 miles of Montana Highway 38 are plowed and this area becomes a popular snowmobile destination during the winter months. Skalkaho Pass Area offers 26 miles of groomed trails.

From Hamilton, travel 3 miles south on US Highway 93, then turn east on Montana Highway 38 (Skalkaho Highway) and proceed 26 miles east to the top of the pass (20 miles of gravel). Turn north on Forest Road 1352 (closed to all motorized vehicles October 15 through December 1) and drive for 5 miles into the Skalkaho Basin (past Dam Lake). A wildlife interpretive sign and orientation map is on FR 1352 right after turning off MT 38.

From this site.

We drove over Skalkaho today to Gem Mountain. It was a nice drive but I'm tired.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010


We're going to see Monka tomorrow! Luken is very excited. We'll get up and leave by 9:30 and drive to Hamilton and over Skalkaho Pass to Gem Mountain where we'll meet Monka, Christine, Kanon, Larkin and Mac. Luken is excited to see both Monka and Mac. I'll try to take lots of pictures.


Thursday, July 15, 2010




Rode a Pony!

Over the Bridge

And through the woods.

He had a great time!

His pony was named Sassy. She was gentle and nice.

At the end of the ride, Luken said, "Thank you, Tha-thee."


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Long Way Around Again

This is a hard situation. Not that would ever be anything but hard. My family does not understand the connection that Renee and I share. I wouldn't expect them to. Anyway . . . Kerry's funeral is next Thursday. It's a 4 hour drive from my home. My youngest sister, Holli, desperately wants to attend. I don't know if she'll be able to or not. She's in Pre Release right now but her time is up. She's just waiting on paperwork. I've offered to escort her to the funeral. (Renee is her birth mother and she knew Kerry. Holli and Renee have not really been very close but I'm guessing that Holli is feeling close kinship to Renee right now because Holli recently lost her children to the state, just as Renee did when Holli was an infant.) I hope that Holli does not need me to escort her because I really do not want to go to the funeral. I already had other plans for that day, fun plans with my dad and his wife and another sister, her kids, and Luken. Now it's all up in the air. I'd rather to see Renee after the funeral, after everybody else has gone, when it begins to sink in that Kerry is not coming back, when people have left her alone. Then I will go for sure.

This grief thing - it's hard. Although I didn't know Kerry much at all, her death touches my own grief. It makes me realize how deep the hurt is. How primal, how raw still, how vast. And that scares me in a way. I don't think I'm making much sense. I'm just writing, not editing as I go. My head hurts and so does my heart. I'm holding Renee in the Light.

As tender as I feel for Renee right now, I'm not forgetting Chrystal. She was also there when Kerry died. What happened was terribly traumatic for both of them. I think that Chrystal will be okay. I think that she'll lie about it though on the days that she isn't okay.

I'm writing in circles. I need to either erase this or stop writing.


The Long Way Around

When I was a kid, my folks adopted several other children. Four of them are siblings. Their birth mom is Renee.

When I was about 18, just out of high school, Renee came to visit. It was during the summer and I was home for the event. I was an angst filled undone teenager. My life sucked. I was cutting. I wanted to die.

One night, while Renee was visiting, we stayed up all night and talked. I told her things I'd never told anybody else. And she talked to me. We made a connection. I was upset and undone and she wasn't afraid of that. I remember that she held me for hours. It felt safe. It felt good. It was 5 in the morning by the time we went inside and went to bed.

Since that time, we've talked periodically. Not often. Not even once a year. She lives 4 hours from me.

On Sunday, Renee's partner, Kerry died. She died at home, in Renee's arms. Renee tried to save her but could not. Kerry's passing was not expected. I called Renee tonight. I listened to her for an hour. She trusted me with her rawness. I felt honored.

It's been almost 20 years since we first met. We've spoken less than 20 times. But we made a connection.

I'm sad for her but I know that with support, she will make it through, one breathe at a time.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Has anybody ever tried to install hardwood floor by yourself with the help of a toddler? If not, let me just tell you that it's insane. Not one of my brightest ideas.

'Nuf said.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Great Day!

I had such a great day today! I slept in this morning because I was up half the night last night. It felt good to sleep in. After a leisurely morning (not so much leisurely as slow starting), we packed up and drove to Butte. Why Butte? There's not much of interest in Butte but a giant pit of poison. Yes, but this weekend Butte is hosting the National Folk Festival!

We got to Butte just in time to find a parking place, a schedule, and a sliver of grass to sit on to hear Bua, a really fun and lively Celtic band. Loved it! I was especially excited to hear them because I won one of their albums last week on KUFM (LOVE public radio!). After Bua, we wondered around, bought food, found an outback (portable outhouse), ran in to friends, chatted in the street, and found where Bua was playing again. It rained pretty hard and we were unprepared for that but we still had a blast.

Luken was excited about the "big bus!" so we rode the shuttle bus around it's loop. We looked at all sorts of neat art and vendors and heard more music. We finished the day happy and tired and got to follow the most spectacular sunset the entire way home. Yay for a great day!


Saturday, July 10, 2010


Mop-up sucks.


Especially at night.


Now I am stinky, hungry, and tired.


Time for a shower, a sandwich and bed.


Thursday, July 8, 2010


Last month we rode the ponies.

Luken had a pretty good time.

We need to go there more often.