Saturday, February 28, 2009

Takin' a Break

I don't usually post on Saturdays, but I have been busy all morning and decided to take a break and catch up on everyone else's blogs! Then I just HAD to go on over to Facebook, just to see what was going on over there! OK, yeah, I think I am addicted. Jen and Peggy-- I blame you! (But no hard feelings, OK!)
After many evenings at home eating only meals that comprised of chicken, I said to myself "Self, you need to put more meals into your freezer-- and NO CHICKEN!"
So I defrosted 12 pounds of burger this morning and got to work.
Since Krystle and I both like to make tacos, burritos, and nachos I cooked up 14 cups of taco meat. I packaged each cup separately in Zip Lock freezer bags so whenever the craving hits, one serving is already made up! OK, I confess, I only froze 13, and I make a big plate of nachos for lunch...
While the taco meat was cooling enough to package, I prepared something new from another blogger. It is called Crock Pot hamburger steaks. They are simmering away right now, and smell awesome! Joe and I will have these for supper tonight, and I will freeze whatever is left over.
Once I am done here, I am going to get off my lazy butt and make meatballs out of four pounds of burger (excellent for spaghetti, sandwiches, or in a stroganoff type sauce). I don't make them huge, only about walnut sized, so four or five is perfect for a meal. They are pre-cooked before freezing, so meal prep only includes re-heating in whatever sauce I choose.
AND, while those are cooking, I will throw together some green chili enchiladas. I freeze these two at a time in small Pyrex baking dishes. My recipe gives me enough to make five servings.

While I am doing all of that, I am also trying to catch up on my laundry. I'll have a few loads to fold before I go to bed tonight!
Tomorrow I may make a pot of spaghetti sauce, which I will freeze in one cup portions. If I am feeling up to it, I may even prepare stuffed shells or mini lasagnas with some of the sauce. If I don't do it tomorrow, it will be on the agenda for next Saturday.

OK, Breaks Over...dryer just finished! Switch laundry, then back to the kitchen!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

East Glacier, Cut Bank, and Shelby, MT

Since we never made it to Kalispell (which is on the other side of those mountains!), Joe and I decided to make the most of being along the High Line of Montana and do some sight seeing. As you can see, Sunday was a beautiful day. This photo is of an old house that collapsed, leaving just the front entry area standing. You can see by the drift that hasn't melted by the door just how much snow this area can get! This was taken about 10 miles east of East Glacier. The mountains in the background are part of Glacier National Park.

As we were driving along Highway 2, we saw a sign pointing to a Historic Point. Joe and I always stop at these! Just off the highway, there was this monument to Captain Meriweather Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition. The full monument is actually an obelisk about 15 feet tall, but it most of it is covered in graffiti and shot gun blasts. The entire area around the monument was littered with empty and broken beer and liquor bottles. So Sad! This is still on the Blackfoot Reservation, and it seems everything they are given they destroy. I'm not being discriminatory against the tribe, or any American Indians, but of all the reservations I have been on, the Blackfeet seem to have the most garbage, broken down vehicles, and dirty, dilapidated towns. They profess "Native Pride" but I have yet to see any evidence of it. They live in such a beautiful place, too! I am nearly driven to tears any time I drive through Browning, MT. It hurts my own Montana Pride when I see how badly they are treating their land and resources.
Looking up from the Monument, this next photo is the view! Breathtaking!

This is what is known as the Northern Rocky Mountain Front, or the Front Range of the Rockies. The mountains just jump right out of the plains! No foothills, just rolling fields then steep mountain sides. I could go into a geology lesson about the Overthrust Belt, and how these mountains were formed, but if you really want to know all of that, you can do a search on the 'Net. Geologists say there is a large amount of oil deposits along the Rocky Mountain Front, but the environmentalists and conservationists have kept that from being accessed. I have mixed feelings about the whole idea, and I don't feel like being political today, so that is all I am going to say on the subject, for now.
What is the "high-line", anyways? It is the local term for the area across the top of Montana, usually in reference to either the railroad or Highway 2 which crosses the state from east to west, only a few dozen miles from the Canadian border. Anyone who has been along the high line knows the power of the wind, which blows constantly! Finally, Montana has the opportunity to harvest this clean energy source. We are one of the leaders in wind generated power in the U.S. Wind farms like this one are being built across the eastern two-thirds of the state. I think it is an awesome thing, but there seems to be quite a number of people against these wind farms. I don't even try to understand those people! They want electricity, but don't want us to drill for the oil that is known to exist along the Rocky Mountain Front, they don't want Coal generated plants, and NOW they are against wind farms! I just shake my head in frustration. This particular wind farm is located between the towns of Cut Bank and Shelby.

I had to laugh at this guy, and knew I had to share this one with everyone! Cut Bank is in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the coldest place in the Continental US. AND... yes, it was pretty cold on Sunday. I think the temperature was actually in the high 30's, but the wind made it very uncomfortable. I would have to say the wind chill was close to 10 or 15 degrees. Joe and I were geocaching in the area, and my pen became so cold it didn't want to write. (The same thing was happening to my fingers, too! LOL)

Welcome to Shelby, Montana, and the United States of America! This is a HUGE flag. The smaller flag poles are standard, school or city sized ones. Shelby is the first town of any substantial size after crossing into Montana from Canada. By the way, those small mountains in the background? They are right on the US side of the border.

This little farm house is in a field between Shelby and Great Falls. As you can see, the wind has nearly knocked it over. We have many homestead cabins and barns that lean at strange, gravity defying angles! I wanted to get a photo of this one before it finally succumbed to the elements.
Another point of interest: As you can see, Montana is not all mountains! Only the western third has the mountains, while the rest of the state looks much like this photo. One of our biggest crops is wheat, and where the wheat isn't growing we have cows.
SO-- that is what we did this past weekend. After being on the road, exploring places we haven't been to before, I am now suffering from cabin fever! I want it to warm up so we can explore more of the state.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The East Glacier Experience (Part 2)

OK, where was I? Broken down truck in a tiny podunk town. My daughter Heather was finally able to get our alternator into her pretty little hands, but she was 90 miles of mountain driving away, and it was getting dark.
A quick look around (trust me, the town is only 4 blocks long and maybe 4 blocks wide!) and we could see a motel was open throughout the winter months, and it had a vacancy sign in the window. I called Heather and we made plans for her to drive up in the morning. Joe and I walked the two blocks to the motel and checked in for the evening. We were informed we were (so far) the only patrons and the really nice owner lady gave the nicest room she had. For a mom and pop kind of place, it was actually very nice! Brocade wallpaper, oak vanity and desk, good bedding (not the cheap, scratchy type) over a memory foam topped mattress. Oh Yeah... Very Clean! And, all this for only $64.00! The owner told me she gave us a discount, but I don't know how much it was. I did ask about "On Season, summer rates" and our room would have been $154.00 a night!
East Glacier is a booming town during the summer, mostly feeding off of the Glacier National Park tourists. In the winter, the park is mostly closed, and the tourists and seasonal workers have all gone home. We found out there was one cafe open for dinner, one gas station / convenience store, one tiny market, and one bar!
It was a nice evening, so after we retrieved our bags from the truck and used the clean, private facilities of the room, we headed out for a night on the town! *hahaha*

We walked to the far end of the town, to the convenience store, where we purchased some pain relievers and a couple of sodas. Next stop was the cafe, another place we were the only patrons as it was about 7pm and the place closed at 8. The waitress was nice, but not overly friendly. Joe and I shared a Philly steak and cheese sandwich, fries, and we each had a cup of beef veggie soup. It was good food, but nothing special. On the way back to the motel, we decided to pop into the bar for a drink and some atmosphere, as we didn't have anything else to do.

The bar was occupied by about 8 or 9 locals, and the barmaid. Nothing special about the bar... it looked like a small town bar, smelled like a small town bar, and had the liquor selection of a very small town bar! Joe and I ordered our simple drinks and took a table in a corner. The first thing we really noticed was we were the only non-Indian people in the bar. We were also the only ones that didn't look like we drank every meal for the past 5 years. We finished our drinks while watching two others play a game of pool, then we left. With nowhere else to go, we retired to the motel.

We had brought along a bottle of wine, so we had a couple glasses of that while relaxing. Joe was suffering through a broken tooth, so he was in a bit of pain, but otherwise the evening was very quiet. We didn't even turn on the TV, and we retired pretty early.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny. Heather called about 8am to let us know she was on her way with the alternator, tools, and jumper cables. God Bless Her! LOL We packed up, signed out of the motel and toured the area in the day light. Here are a few photos:
Glacier Park Lodge, East Glacier, MT
A care takers cabin, Glacier Park Lodge, East Glacier, MT

I think this was an old Station Agent's office, as it is very close to the East Glacier Depot. All the windows are gone, but the sink and toilet are still there. The main room was barely big enough for a desk and chair.

Heather arrived about 11am, we got the part installed, then instead of heading over the pass to Kalispell, just to turn around, we decided to head back to Great Falls, taking a tour of a couple of towns we had not been to yet. I have a few photos to share of Shelby, MT tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I only have 10 minutes!

Work today has been pretty busy, but it has been awhile since my last post, I just HAD to write something!
I will try to summarize last weekend... It was interesting to say the least!
The plan WAS to work on Saturday with Joe, and leave from Great Falls to go and visit my daughter and her family 200 miles north in Kalispell.
We were on our way right at 3pm, no last minute shoppers keeping us from locking up! Yea! We were both in excellent spirits, the sun was shining, the Rocky Mountain Front (where the Rockies jut right out of the plains) was visible about 30 miles to the west, blue and purple, with snow capped peaks. Beautiful!
The CD player was playing, the miles rolling under the tires...not a care in the world...until almost 5pm when suddenly the CD player stopped working...then the lights on the panel shut off, then the Battery Light came on. DAMN!
We were just passing through a tiny little (seasonal) town called East Glacier. Joe pulled over, thinking he had maybe broke a belt. Nope! All indications were pointing to the alternator up and dying. Just like that. Now this tiny little town does not have a parts store, heck it barely had a grocery store!
Kalispell is still 90 miles down the highway, on the other side of a mountain pass, and it is beginning to get dark. I call my daughter, we get the number to the parts store, call them. Yes, they have the they won't let us pay for it by credit card over the phone. Finally the manager told us that we could have my daughter order the part On-line, using one of our cards, then she could go pick it up. What a pain!! By the time this was all finished, it was after 6pm.

OK... my 10 minutes is over.... Story to resume on next post! Ohhh the suspense!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A trip through the Way Back Machine!

On Valentine's Day Joe and I paid a visit to my parents home. Joe and Dad were talking guns, and I was reminded of a bit of family history that may or may not be true. I asked Dad to re-tell this tale and here it is so I don't forget it again:
My father is in possession of a sawed off, side hammer, double barrel shot gun (modified so it can not shoot, so it is legal to own). It was given to him from his father (my Grandpa John who lived 1911-1995). Grandpa John was given this gun by his Brother-in-Law, who was named George Hackett . This is the history of the gun that was given to Grandpa John at that time...
Now this is where the story gets interesting, as well as a bit fuzzy on the facts! It is a known fact that Black Bart, who was a notorious Wells Fargo Stage robber in California, was only wounded twice during his illegal deeds. The first time was on July 13, 1882. The stage driver was named George Hackett (distant relative? Coincidence in names?). A web page dedicated to Black Bart can tell the story better than I:

*Note: Wells Fargo drivers did not usually carry rifles, but instead carried sawed off shot guns for protection

The sawed off shot gun that has passed from hand to hand; family member to family member; is rumored to be THE gun that almost finished off Black Bart!

My Dad is thinking about tracing back that side of the family once he retires, just to see if the relations add up. My Grandfather's Brother-in-Law did grow up in the right area of California, and his family had been in the area for a few generations, from what I understand. The Brother-in-law George Hackett could have been the grandson, or great-grandson of the Stage Coach Mr. Hackett.

SO, is this a true story or just a fantasy tale attached to this gun? Many things do add up (time, place, family names) but there is ONE very major flaw. THE gun that shot and wounded Black Bart was put on display by Wells Fargo during the 1911 Worlds Fair. I guess the question here is: Does Wells Fargo still have possession of the famous gun, or did they borrow it from Mr. Hackett for the display, returning it after the Worlds Fair?


Monday, February 16, 2009

Just another Monday.

So, today is President's Day. What does that mean to me? Pretty much Nada, nothing, zilch. I had to come into work and deal with all the people who DO have the day off! For the most part, everyone is being decent, but there are the Uppity few who think we have to drop everything to work on their phones because "I need it!" or "I just can't be without it for two hours!" or "I am only in town for today, and this is my last stop before heading back home." (Now why, oh why, did they not make us the FIRST stop?)
Sorry, Folks, but we do all work on a first in, first worked on basis. We don't care if you think you are "Going to die" without your cell phone, you really will make it through! Trust us on this!

OK, now that that is off my chest...
After dealing with a bugger of a cold, I think I really, truely... ok, hopefully am getting better. This virus seems to take hold and not want to leave. I have been talking to many customers who have had it, too. We all agree, it really sucks! The kicker? It seems my fellow co-worker and friend Joe is getting it. All I can say to him is "I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to share!"

Valentine's Day came and went, with only a little mention. I sat at home alone most of the day, Facebooking, reading blogs, going through some crochet pattern books, laundry, and dishes. Just me and Brooke, my "puppy" (she is 70lbs and 10 years old!). Joe came by after he was finished with work and bless his heart, he brought me a card and box of chocolates! Then we called up a couple of our friends and we all went out to the local Chinese Buffet for dinner. On the way home, I bought a boquet of flowers for my mom and stopped by her house. Joe and I visited my parents for about an hour. Then home. I did hear an interesting story though... see my next post for that one!

Sunday Joe and I decided to take the hour drive to see our friends in Deer Lodge. We had only planned to be there for a few hours, but we were invited to join them for dinner at a local restaurant, so we didn't leave for Helena until about 7:30pm, arriving home close to 8:30. Highlights of the day?
*We went to the hills and "played" with the boy's guns. I got to shoot a 17mm Magnum (revolver) and a 40 s&w automatic. Don't ask me anything about them... they are guns, they shoot bullets, they make loud noises...LOL!
*We almost got stuck in a snowbank.
*We had steak and crab legs for supper, washed down with a glass of white zin (served by clueless bar maid. I asked her about a house white, she offered the "white zin" as the only "white" wine they have, which is NOT a white wine! I look at the menu afterwards, and they offer a Chardonney by the glass, which IS a white! LOL) Dinner was decent, the crab very good, but the steak was only OK. The company we were in was excellent!
*AND--I put two dollars into a Keno gambling machine, and won 6! Ok, so I could have tried to "Hit it Big", but I am never THAT lucky, and decided to cash out.

All in all, a good visit, putting an end to a good weekend!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blah, just Blah!

Blah... that is how I feel. I haven't done much, nor has anything exciting happened around me. Or, if it has, I just haven't been up to noticing.
I have been suffering through a cold for a week now. It hasn't been bad enough to keep me home from work, but it is making me miserable. I'm just worried that it is going to settle into a sinus infection and make me miserable for another week.
The worst part of this cold is every time I lay down I can't breathe out of my nose, and I start coughing so badly I can't catch my breath... or until I gag. I have spent a few nights propped up into a seated position just so I can get a little sleep. Many nights I have not been able to sleep until sheer exhaustion took over, then I fell into a very restless sleep.

I don't know if it is the strange weather we are having, or if there is just a bad bug going around, but I have noticed many people are going through the same thing.

I think I may (finally) be on the upswing, and kicking it. Monday I felt awesome... at least until late afternoon when I began to drag a bit, then the congestion came back, followed by a bad night of coughing. Tuesday was so/so, but I was able to sleep pretty good last night. Today it feels as if the congestion may be breaking up, and the cough seems to be gone.

On the bright side... I haven't been eating much, so I haven't been having any trouble sticking to my diet! I guess if you look hard enough, there is always a silver lining.....

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and Nine Inch Nails "Pretty Hate Machine"

Confused by the title of this post? Well, those are two of the cd's I listened to this week during my drives to work and home. The third pick was Billy Joel's Greatest Hits, but I actually never even put that one into the player. Why, you ask?

Well, to me, music is a HUGE part of my life, and many events can be brought back from the farthest reaches of my brain with just a song or two. This is what happened this week. I was in grade school when "The Wall" was released, but I never really listened to it until I was out of high school, married, and having some problems with depression. This cd, which is the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, spoke to me on many levels. For those of you who don't know, the basic story is a Rock Star who succumbs to depression and builds "a wall" around his emotions so he will not be hurt anymore by the people who he thought loved him... and then the breaking down of that wall, leading to a mental breakdown and schizophrenic episodes.
OK, so I was nowhere near that point, but the haunting lyrics and music spoke to me back then. Now, many years later, I still enjoy the cd, but when I played it this week, I was transported back to the late 80's and early 90's. I drove home in a bit of a daze, the music filled my brain with many memories, both good and bad. BUT, that is the good part...they are now just memories of events that made me who I am today.

The cd "Pretty Hate Machine" by Nine Inch Nails is a set of songs in which Trent Reznor (the main band member) is dealing with a failing relationship and the manic feelings that go along with it. Anger, Lust, Self doubt, lashing out.... all of it. We have all been there. This CD was my therapy during my divorce! Many memories here, too, as one can imagine.

These are, and have been for many years, a couple of my treasured cd's in my collection. I am not usually one to reminisce like this, dredging up painful memories and such. Music is usually uplifting to me, which is why I listened to so much of it during the low points in my life. But sometimes the melodies actually haunt me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Remember When...?

OK, I may be showing my age a bit here, but I was thinking of how much some things have changed over the years.
I remember running errands with my mother when I was very young. She would park in the lot, go into the store, dry cleaners, wherever... and leave me in the car by myself, or with my older brother. He is only two years older, so we were maybe 4 & 6. Sometimes we would be left alone for up to half an hour, but never when it was too cold or too hot outside. OR, what about all the times we acted up in a restaurant? We were told to go and sit by ourselves in the car until the rest of the family was finished eating. I don't think these episodes hurt me or my brother. In fact I think they gave us a chance to use our imagination to pass the time away. My brother used to "hide" behind the car door, then peek over the edge of the window and "shoot" the aliens (monsters, bad guys) with his fingers pointed like a gun. Sometimes I was his partner, others I was "saved" by him. LOL We played all kinds of games while we were waiting in the car.
If anyone left a kid in the car for even 5 minutes these days, the Department of Family Services would be called! Is life really that much different today from the early to mid 70's?

Also, does anyone think the proliferation of handheld games is actually hurting the imaginations of our children and grandchildren? When they "go out to play", it seems they just move from the indoors X-box to the handheld PS2 and continue living in their virtual worlds. I rarely see kids just out PLAYING. You know... running, jumping, climbing trees.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Many things for this Monday

I have many thoughts today, so I will try to keep each one short in order to keep this from being a novella.

On my way into work this morning, driving between Helena and Great Falls, I was passed by a young lady. She wasn't speeding or anything, just going a little faster than I was. About a half mile from where she passed me, she blew out a tire. I pulled up behind her to see if she was alright, had a spare tire, whatever... since we were in an area where there is little to no cell phone coverage. As she walked back to me, I could see she was a bit shaken, and only in her young twenties. When I asked if she had a spare and a jack, she really didn't know! So I had her pop the trunk.. I saw she did have a spare AND the jack! (So many young people take them out and forget to put them back in). I handed her the lug wrench, and she just looked at it with a quizzical expression. I knew right then she had no clue how to change a tire. I personally think that should be part of the drivers exam. The Written, The Driving, The Changing of a tire. SO, I showed her how to loosen the lug nuts, position the jack and showed her how to crank it up (lovely scissor jack), I finished removing the tire (I was late for work, and I could tell she wasn't a girl who likes to ruin a good manicure) while I had her grab, position, and re-tighten the tire into place. All said, it took only about 15 or 20 minutes. The young lady thanked me over and over again, while telling me that she had no idea that changing a tire was SO EASY!
I smiled the rest of the way to work.....

Superbowl Sunday was yesterday. That is pretty much the only football game I like to watch. I was hoping the Arizona Cardinals would win, since I usually side with the underdog team. SO Close, but no cigar. Joe was happy that the Steelers took the title once again since he grew up in that part of the country.

I got a bit off track on the dieting thing, and gained one pound since mid-January (for a one month loss of only four pounds). I knew these past few weeks I wasn't sticking to eating right, with a pizza party one weekend, Superbowl treats, and eating out a few times... and yes, that lovely piece of cheesecake from the other night! It is time to get my (big) butt back in gear for February.

I did 15 loads of laundry this weekend! Washed, dried, folded, and put them all away! I think I need to stay home more often so this doesn't happen again. And to those people who really know me... yes, I even matched up the socks! LOL

I am putting five paperbacks onto If you like to read, check it out. Very cool idea.

Joe and I went out yesterday afternoon (before the big game) to the National Forest to go target shooting with Joe's new Taurus .40 s&w. My dad is an excellent marksman and has trophies to prove it. I am not! Out of 30 shots, I hit the board the target was attached to only twice. I totally missed the target!

Still no new snow. Everything is brown and dirty. We have had some pretty awesome winds though! We are talking 40-60mph, with gusts to 70mph. If this happened anywhere in the Eastern half of the US, entire cities would be shut down... emergency procedures in place...BUT, here in Montana, we just deal with it. It is just hard to drive in!!

AND-- I picked up my crochet hooks for the first time in many, many years. Here are the results: This one is a white yarn heart that really didn't turn out as nice as I had hoped, so the photo is from a bit of a distance.

This one is worked in #10 thread, and is a small doily. The hooks I used are shown, too. The white one was my grandmothers and is made of ivory. OK, I know... don't get all environmental on me! I didn't buy it, and when Grandma did (way back when) the tragedy of ivory harvesting was unknown to the public. That hook has made many, many items; and I couldn't bear to throw it away. We went to visit my parents Saturday night and I took these hearts to show mom. She thought they were nice and kept them!

So... that was my weekend! Hope yours was fun and productive as well.