Friday, January 31, 2014

A Fearfully Fanatabulous Tale

Ribbons of Melting Snow
Ice Cycle Fingers
Pool of Roof Snow
Geese Overhead
Grendel Discovers the Old Nest
Dog Returns Home
Snow pools like melting vanilla ice cream from a sugar-cone on a hot summer day. Far be it from sweltering, yet Elmira is hardly a deep-freeze. It's nearly 40 degrees, partly sunny and I step outside wearing my hoodie and hiking boots for winter gear.

Grendel, our male GSP who never gets to roam off-leash, is attached to my waist. I've rigged his harness and lead to a waist belt, allowing him greater freedom of movement while keeping him anchored to me. The bonus is that I'm hands-free to snap photos. It's not ideal, but affords both the dog and me a bit of freedom outside.

All goes well until we reach Elmira Pond. Misjudging where grass gives way to ice, I'm unaware that we are on the pond. This miscalculation comes into play as Bobo, our female GSP who gallivants off-leash daily, charges at Grendel, leaping over him in a crash of dog bodies. Grendel pulls hard and I discover the slick ice beneath the snow.

Tread is no help. I go sliding, momentarily upright until my boots point skyward and my left cheek (not the one on my face) is throbbing from the smack of contact. I'm now tangled in the lead connected to Grendel. In a moment of foolishness, I unhook his harness.

Trotting free, I'm wary. Grendel is loose and the neighbors have a herd of outdoor cats--fair game to a GSP. Whistling, both dogs come to me, but not close enough. Just as I think Grendel is going to bolt, he smells the duck nest on the far side of the pond.

While he's occupied, I get distracted. Geese are flying low, searching for open water. Elmira Pond is not yet open to the migration; if it was I'd be over my head in water where I stand. Snapping some shots at the geese, Grendel begins to dig at the nest. I begin shouting, "On by!" It's a musher's term to communicate to the sled dogs, "Ignore that squirrel."

At least he's stationary, so I walk across the pond to fetch him and save the nest. Just as I get close enough, he bolts. Sure, I could have dove after his harness but one fall on the ice is my daily limit. Now he knows he's free and he kicks in the dog-rockets and is gone. I stand on the ice calling in a sing-song voice, then shouting loud enough to make moose march in line.

But no dog. Soon, I see the run-away; a dark brown spot clear across the neighboring Blue Bird Ranch. They have no cats. But now he's hit the dirt road past the ranch and is running toward a farm. They have chickens.

I've never prayed so hard for chickens in my life. Miraculously, Grendel blasts past the barns, the coop, the house. Suddenly I realize he is running straight for Highway 95. I yell his name so loud, my tonsils vibrate. Still he runs. So do I, in clunky boots on ice like I was a clown for the Ice Capades.

When he actually reaches the highway, my chest  compresses and my throat constricts. I stop running, watch cars hit brake-lights, hear the Jake-brake of a logging truck and take in the horror film that is my dog running down the highway as if he was a four-legged car. It's the scary scene I can't watch and I stare at my boots instead, quaking, praying.

Not hearing horns or squealing tires or worse, I look up to see that Grendel has reached our property and  veers off the road, bellies under the fence and is now running to me. Legs like jello don't move fast but somehow I sprint in a shuffle his direction. Just as he nears me, he dashes away. This time I dive for the harness and capture him.

All's well that doesn't end with my dog splattered on the road. I now have a fantabulous scale for fear--cats ranks high, chickens higher and highways highest.

Join host blogger abitosunshine for more fantabulous tales on Fantabulous Friday. Most things fantastic + fabulous are not fear-rated.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Woke Up

Winter Didn't Forget Elmira After All
Snow  on Ice
The White Piles Up
Did I say Elmira was brown? As if to read my thoughts, winter came rushing over the Cascades with playful buckets of white-wash. Clustering snow on pine boughs, clogging the driveway and covering the ice of Elmira Pond, winter is an artist who obviously prefers white over brown.

And that's okay with me. After all, I was feeling like the world was topsy-turvy when I learned that Georgia had more snow than northern Idaho. Not that I want to join the polar vortex express, but I was feeling a bit left out with my bare, brown ground showing.

Fat flakes fill the air in the familiar dance of snow. Mountains are hidden and the world is muffled for the moment. Maybe this is the beginning of winter catch-up, late snows filling the gap left by a dry early winter.

My pond and garden appreciate the moisture. Winter white is good for spring soil and a full pond will beckon the migratory ducks to pause and Blue Heron to return. Water is a precious commodity out west so I will say, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Brown Elmira

End of February 2013
End of January 2014
Playing Fetch
Happy Husky
Husky Grooming
Late last February (2013) we were just beginning to dig out of snow. Massive piles dumped from of metal rooftops throughout winter created snow barriers to sheds and winter white was the color blanketing Elmira Pond.

This year it is a brown Elmira, as if the land were wearing frozen gunny sacks. The ground is hard, exposed and dry. The ice seems to be shrinking at the edges of the pond before it even begins to melt. Brown feels parched and unusual. Storms seem to catch a northern wind and skirt past our valley.

Something white bobs in the brown grass on the edge of pines north of our back pasture. The dogs bark at the window and I squint until realizing that the white is attached to a strutting deer. She is just as mottled gray and brown as the land, and all I could see was her tail that moved like a levitating male turkey in full feathered regalia. Its so brown I can't see deer.

When the huskies visited this weekend, Ilya convinced Drew to play jolly-ball-fetch. The hot pink ball contrasts brightly with the brown landscape, easy for Ilya to see. Good thing we didn't choose a brown ball. After several running romps of fetch, Drew plucked Ilya's coat as huskies shed clumps of undercoat. Tufts of creamy Ilya hair floated away, perhaps future nest materials for the birds.

Who knows if it will be a dry spring? Rain could help make up for the lack of winter moisture, but a brown winter is not promising. In the west, cattle ranchers and wildlife both suffer in droughts and forests can turn into dry kindling. I'm holding out for the hope of more snow and a wet, wet spring.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Second Christmas

The Tree Un-Decorating Itself
The Smiles Second Christmas Brings
Gift Wrapping From India
Tales of Zeolites in the Road
Join in the Fun!
Hobbits like to eat so much that they have "second breakfast." Well, I suppose I love my fresh Christmas tree so much, I had to have Second Christmas. It still stands elegant and pine-smelling-fresh in the living room. Ornaments pool at the base; the un-decorating assisted by dogs wiggling at the door to go outside.

Allison's return from India with gifts was timely for a second Christmas. She left for Pune, India on January 1 with two suitcases. She returned on January 24 with four bags in tow. Her husband Drew, sister, Brianna and I all met her at the Sandpoint Amtrak Station (she flew into Minneapolis then finished her trip out west by train). We were happy as hounds to see her and hear of her adventures.

The next morning, over linguisa, fried potatoes and eggs we sat under the late January Christmas tree unwrapping gifts and listening to her stories like when she and a fellow traveler were walking on a dirt road through a village that she realized was full of zeolite crystals and vesicular basalt.

The villagers took notice of theses two American women gushing over the rocks in the road. Allison has an undergraduate degree in geology and was excited over the native minerals. Even though the villagers couldn't speak English, nor Allison speak Hindi, through charades and gestures, a woman took Allison and her companion on a hike to where huge boulders sported zeolite tubes and crystals.

The stories were gifts enough, but we also got to unwrap bits of India that Allison brought back to share. We sat by the Christmas tree and oohed and aahed over ear-rings and spices and scarves. The most incredible gift is on its way to Kansas to adorn the family's newest little princess. In about 2 years, out little Aly will be dazzling in the greatest princess outfit ever and her cousin Allison can't wait for that day.

It might be silly to have a second Christmas, but reuniting with loved ones is always cause to celebrate. Enjoy our photo gallery and be sure to join host blogger, Everything Susan, for more Silly on Sunday tales and photos.

The Perfect Princess "Longa"

Road Rocks

Happy to be Home with Hubby

Drew Studying His Gift-Rock

India Bling

Coffee Maker for Sis

Leather Shoes for Sis

Sister Hugs

The Perfect Gift Bag for Mum


The Smells of India

Second Christmas Calls for Peppermint Treats and Catan


Frozen Waters of the Pond
Grass in Ice Vases
Dazzling Light on Ice
Waves of Frozen Water
Window of Bubbles
Blue Heron's Log
Cracks Welding Ice
Looking Back at the House
Introducing Miss Alyson Rose
Life is amazing.

This generality is felt across the world, time and cultures by women who labor and give birth; by men who hold tiny newborns in their rough-from-work hands; by toddlers who climb up on the couch to hold a new baby sister for the first time. These amazing moments I ponder as I walk out onto ice.

When it comes to frozen water, my faith wavers. How thick is the ice; what is it anchored to; when is the best time of day to try such a daring maneuver; how deep is Elmira Pond? Questions dizzy me at the shoreline; my mind buzzes like the bees in August. Tufts of dry grass stand erect as if standing in a vase of ice.

Last Monday, my niece posted an anxious smiley and I knew...she was standing at the edge of the ice. Nine months pregnant, overdue and a mother knows when labor is pending and all the questions buzz. Can I do this; will she be okay; is the world strong enough to support the labor of a woman?

Tuesday morning, January 21 the sun is dazzling upon the ice. I wonder about my niece, how she is doing and if my great-niece has yet entered into this bright world. Women are brave for many reasons, and giving birth ranks at the top. Knowing how brave my niece is, I decide to muster up the courage to walk on frozen water. Just one step.

Reeds like skinny tentacles reach out of the ice. Another step. Water frozen in waves not yet touching shore. Another step. Bubbles frozen in a glass window remind me to breathe. Deep calming breaths. Another step. Blue Heron's log juts out of the ice in the distance and I head toward it until my feet refuse to move and my legs quiver.


Once in labor there is no going back.  You can't spin around on your winter boots and skitter back the way you came. You have to see it through. Maybe it's such an amazing experience--giving birth--because it forces you to overcome fear. Even the fathers, grandmothers and friends all waiting have to overcome fear. Time slows down and everyone is taking deep shuddering breaths, issuing silent prayers and checking the clock every 10 seconds until the newborn takes her first breath. Relief.

Standing on the ice, looking at cracks that seem to weld pieces of the pond in place, I feel like a quaking conqueror. I am standing on Elmira Pond; I am on the ice. Looking back at the house I have the birds-eye view. Not the over-head view, but the view the migratory birds have when they are summering in this space. A new view is an amazing thing.

New life gives us the gift of that new view. I walk off the ice and into the house to check my messages. Alyson Rose Medina joined the tribe of Mills and Gerry women just after noon on January 21. My niece, Sam, did well with her midwives and she is nestled at home with her family. Life is amazing.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Red Car Uggs

Available February 1, 2014
Writer-in-residence, CJ Moi skitters across the ice of Elmira Pond, disappearing into the tamaracks beyond. Such is a nomad, seeking places to step, hallows to explore and fresh air to inhale. Waving from the pond's edge, I can't help but admire her Uggs.

Yesterday, being silly, we did a toe-stomping photo-shoot at twilight, resulting in steely tones of blue. The Uggs on ice posed, photogenic. Today, they rolled out of the red car--CJ's nomadic wheels--as if to take center stage.

We are hoping that CJ's new ebook, "Being Nomad" beats out the boots for starlet fame. It releases February 1, 2014. Help us spread word-of-mouth.

For years, I've worked with CJ on other writing projects and can attest to her ability to drive a keypad and tell a story. Not only that, she's grounded in science and is a dedicated researcher, knowing how to meld facts with philosophy.

Let's help these Uggs step from the red car to the red carpet!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nomad on Elmira Pond

Released online February 1, 2014
Pink mist gathers over the Selkirks behind Elmira Pond. It's that nebulous time of evening when the lace of dreams purl loops of possibilities around solid realities.When writers dream of word-crafting, galaxy-creating and books-gone-viral.

Elmira Pond has a visitor. A writer, a mist-dreamer, a published author car-camping her way through an emerging book career. A nomad.

CJ has crunched through winter wilderness snow and felt the sand on her feet in Nicaragua. The experience has melded with her inner journey as a writer and creative. She's penned a new release called, "Being Nomad--An Ebook by CJ Moi."

Now CJ has journeyed to Elmira Pond. Having another writer, and a cool nomadic one at that, on Elmira Pond makes me giddy. Just a couple of writers hanging out at the pond, watching the pink mist play.

So we decided to play, too. It's Sunday. Silly Sunday. So we present, Nomad on Elmira Pond, a series of footloose photos of thrift-store Uggs on ice. It's what all the hip nomadic writers wear in winter.


Join host blogger, Everything Susan, for more silly creations. And support our serious effort to rock sales on CJ's book (you'll give a nomad happy Ugg-feet):

Available at Barnes & Noble at special pre-order price of $2.99 til Feb 2, 2014 

Click here and enter coupon code YL76D for a FREE download, Feb 1 only!