Category Archives: Random Katness

Montana – Day 14

Kat, Griffin and I have an indoor morning while the rest of the gang is out riding a UTV. Griffin and I play the Bowling Game. I set up the colorful rubbery foam pins, counting them off. Finish with a dramatic TEN, often like The Count: Ten Bowling Pins! Ten! Ha-ha-ha!

Then he gleefully runs over to knock them all down, I feign shock and despair. He retreats to wait for me to do it all again. This amuses us.

The gang returns, covered with dust. Had much fun, though BW claims Jason hit many mud puddles purposefully.

Adventurers assemble. Photo by j a-b
photo by j a-b
Kayla and Jason. Photo by BW

Jason does not actually deny this.

Lunch, showers, laundry.

Some work time for me, nap for my bowling partner.

Our aviary on the front porch is busy. I think the two babies—that third egg never hatched—are growing fast and constantly hungry. Many feeding times with little heads popping up.

Kat, Kayla and I have a jewelry-making class and head out. There are about a dozen of us in the group—from New York, California and our MD team. We’re given our choices of many rough gemstones and wire to wrap for rings.

Kayla chooses a pretty blue celestite. I’m tempted by the same, such a sweet color, but go with a pale yellow citrine. Kat picks a couple—starts with an amethyst—and asks our instructor if it’s okay to do something other than a ring.

Well, sure.

Of course, we’re only being instructed in the steps of making a ring, but this is Kat.

Nora and Kayla. Photo by Nora

I go with copper wire for my citrine, and Kat and Kayla for silver. Two thin wires, one thicker—I think. I’m easily confused on the process apparently. Wrap, wrap, wrap the thins around the thicker. Small and tight. Kat has to stop her own project to get me started on this, then the light bulb in my head ignites.

I manage this fine, as does Kayla. I see Kat is making a circular pendant.

Kat in her zone. Photo by Nora

Others in the group are making progress or asking for help. Everyone appears to be having fun. The instructor comes around to help most set the stone. You have to flatten the four ends of the thin wires out like spider legs then wrap them around to secure the stone in the center of the wrapped band. Harder than it sounds! The instructor sees Kat’s nearly completed pendant.

It gets the expected Wow!

We have clippers and needle-nose pliers to snip wires, to tuck the pointy ends into the wrap. I’m amazed to make this work.

Meanwhile Kat completes a SECOND pendant—a square one. Both have the pretty center stone set in a way they move freely. It’s Kat genius.

We all leave pretty pleased.

From l: Kayla, kat, Nora

Time for The Chuck Wagon.

Lovely evening, good food, great views. Kat takes Griffin—or he takes her—down to the river where he picks up rocks, hands them to her to throw into the water. Over and over and over. He may have a plan to clean the entire river bank of rocks.

Rocks are his business. Photo by BW

Jason goes down at shift change, and same deal. The boy spends the best part of an hour on his project, perfectly content. The rest of us eat and enjoy the evening sun. BW and Kat try their hand at axe throwing. No one does well at this but the axe-throwing instructor, but Kat managed to stick one in the target.

BW action shot. Photo by Kat.

Griffin comes back, grabs some offered salmon. Kayla accuses him of wadding it—which is true. A whole chunk goes in. But he’s not much interested in more, Kayla’s had her s’more, so it’s homeward bound.

Now Griffin’s into food and eats past bedtime, ignores the Daddy Dance playlist. Until The Monster Song proves too much for his will power. Scramble down and run to Daddy. Many happy dances.

I love how he sings along.

Bed time.

Curious boy. Photo by Kat.

We’re up early this morning. In house breakfast as all but Kat and Griffin are going for a morning trail ride. Workout will wait. I hear Griffin up, morning cheerful. He greets the day with: Yay!

The mid-50s may call for my new Montana sweatshirt for the ride. Gotta go get up and get ready for the trail.

Nora

#randomkatness perfection

Montana – Day 13

Shortly after breakfast, Jason and Griffin discover a buffalo pie in the side yard. Huh. BW finds, by the fence, a hunk of shedded buffalo fur. Apparently somebody got out of a pasture and came visiting during the night.

I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t happen to glance out the window and spot him—or her.

We head out to Missoula on as perfect a day as we can ask for. And such a lovely drive—hills and mountains, the fields—a whole field of white daisies! The river, the ranches.

And when we arrive, we hit the ground running. Kat and Jason walk Griffin—in his stroller—to the park. Kat will catch up with us. BW lasts through the first store—where I bag five Christmas presents, and part way through the second.

A boy around town. Photo by Kat

He heads to the park, Kat joins Kayla and me. Souvenirs! Bandannas are on our list, but we don’t see what we like, and move on with loaded bags. Kat’s spotted a rock shop so we aim there. But pause to browse as we’re girls with no men to sigh or check watches.

Hit a most excellent shop and just what I’m hoping for to find Christmas gifts for the rest of my circle of women. Mother lode! This is very lucky and exactly right. And I have two girls to consult on my selections. Does this look like you know who? How about this for so-and-so?

As I’m fortunate to have a pretty wide circle, I believe I made the shopkeeper’s day. But she and her store made mine. I love everything I bought, and think we chose very well.

It’s lovely to walk in the sun in a city with such good vibes. But nothing compares to the vibes in the rock shop. Oh boy, oh boy. I see an amethyst tower that calls to me, then a fluorite. It’s magic, and obviously waited just for me.

Photo by Kat

Everything feels good in here. Kayla picks out a couple rocks to take with her to college, and I can’t resist a couple more.

Left very satisfied.

A little more hunting for bandannas with no luck. A stop in another store. Wooden spoons. I’m weak for wooden spoons, so I’ll take one home from Montana—as well as a birthday gift for a pal.

Pun spotting by Kat

We start backtracking, and Kat texts Jason that we’re on our way to Biga’s for pizza.

The pizza’s so good here, and the staff is so friendly. Don’t miss Biga’s if you’re ever in Missoula! Just as we’re settling into our booth, stowing our bags, Jason and Griffin arrive—and so does a bee that stings Kat on the hand. Ouch!

Photo by BW.

While she pulls out tweezers—because of course she has tweezers—to pull out the stinger, I go to the counter and ask for a little baking soda. Make a poultice for the wounded.

BW arrives—he’d wandered to another section of the park for live music—and SURFING in the river. He has a video, and we’re all amazed and impressed.

Photo by BW

Surfing on a river!

Kayla has her first Italian soda—bet it won’t be her last. One of the counter guys brings out a little dish of berries and mandarin orange slices in case Griffin wants some. So sweet! And he goes right for an orange slice.

Pizza time!

Waiting on the ‘za. Photo by Nora.

We’re all hungry after our various pursuits, and eat well. Still some leftovers to take home, so good for us!

In short order the big van from Paw’s Up comes to get us.

Climb in, load up.

I haven’t had any trouble with motion or car sickness in the vans or the car so far. But for whatever reason, this ride back is really bumpy. Even on the highway, the van vibrates—feels like a train in constant motion and never smooths out.

Jason ends up queasy. I end up VERY queasy. No bueno!

Finally back home, and I’m pretty damn car sick. The ground under me and the air don’t help, so give it up, lie down.

I—thank you, Jesus—go out for a solid hour.

Better, not all the way, but better. Have a stroll out to where Jason, Kat and Griffin are enjoying the back yard. Hang a bit, then walk around the house. And I report back that besides the pile of buffalo poop Jason spotted that morning, there are seven more.

I decide to track the journey of our bovine visitor. I see where BW found the large hunk of fur—we figured it itched, and he rubbed against the fence. Then I spot a smaller clump of fur. And follow the trail of pies around the yard to the last—the first one Jason saw.

I don’t know how much buffalos poop, but feel he spent some time grazing in the front yard. Hopefully, he’s back with his pals in the pasture.

We’re all wiped from the day and opt for room service. I’m not up to actual food though much, much better. I try a trick from childhood and eat half a lemon (Kayla is amazed). It still works!

But the lemon and a few salty chips are all I want to risk.

Kayla wants a Hearts rematch, so after an abbreviated Daddy Dance—it’s way after bedtime—we get down to it.

The match goes twelve hands—a short one. This may be because I took the Queen eight times in twelve rounds. Eight. Except the final hand where I had a stunning running hand, but just couldn’t finesse her.

And Kayla regains her crown.

This morning BW, Jason and Kayla are off early for a 3 1/2 hour ATV ride. A good day for it, and they have left-over pizza with them for a snack when they stop back at Garnet.

Workout done, some writing coming up. Then this afternoon, the ladies are doing a jewelry making class. Fun!

Oh, and just to add to Kat’s skills? I’m doing my core segment on my mat and spot a wasp on the ceiling. Mention this.

After I’m done, she pulls over a chair—as wasp is now on the ceiling fan. Armed with a big water bottle and a piece of paper, she climbs up, captures the wasp—in like a second—climbs down and takes the bottled wasp outside to release.

When the Walking Dead come, we’re in good hands with Kat.

Nora

Shining a light on you. Photo by Kat
Video of the day
#randomkatness with cheat notes. Photo by Kat

Montana – Day 12

Time for a little gardening on a bright summer day. First thing, find the spot. I have to figure if I plant these revived marigolds anywhere but in with the foundation shrubs, they’ll just get mowed down. Doesn’t seem right to bring them back to life for such a short, violent end.

Still, they need a little room and a sunny spot. I find a spot I like right in the front of the house, and Kat agrees it’s the right place.

When you have to wing it with the tools at hand. Photo by Nora.

Must gather my gardening tools, which consists of a long kitchen knife. The knife was so dull it wouldn’t cut through a lemon but Kat (this is Kat after all) sharpened it—with a rock. I’m about to undo her good work for the trio of marigolds, but she’s good with that.

She helps prep the spot, yanking weeds.

Meanwhile the swallows—also nesting, and with five eggs in the top corner of the front porch—are very displeased to have us working down there. We are roundly scolded.

Another nest. Photo by BW
The contents. Photo by BW.

Kat goes off in search of a good sharpening rock while I hack at the dirt with my kitchen knife. They use rocks for mulch here, so I remove those, pull out any below the soil, and in a reasonably short amount of time have the happy trio planted. Kat, sharpening rock in hand, dumps water on them from the coffee pot.

Making space. Photo by Kat

They look sweet, and should do fine as I also discover a pipe, so there’s an irrigation system.

Kat the intrepid. Photo by Nora.
Happy spot. Photo by Nora.
Close up. Photo by Nora

Kat sharpens the knife. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I want to be with Kat.

The ultimate in #randomkatness . Photo by Kat

I work awhile—back porch time. After, while waiting for Griffin to wake from his nap, I head out for a front porch sit with BW. It’s a show out front. A constant stream of birds—and we spot an eagle soaring!—plus our nesting families.

Posing. Photo by BW

The swallows take turns in the nest. One flies to the window frame near the nest, announces the arrival. The other flies off, and the newly arrived swoops into the nest. There’s often no more than minutes between the shift change. Mr. Robin seems to be in charge of the other nest today. Maybe Mom’s out shopping.

He and Mr. Swallow get into it briefly—Bird Fight! After the short mid-air dispute they go back to their corners and ignore each other.

The start. Photo by BW

Time for our hike. Griffin’s still a little logy from his nap and wants to be carried. Since the first part of the trail is STEEP, I don’t envy Jason this task. I keep in shape, but whew! It’s a quad burner and a lung tester.

Heading up. Photo by BW

Kayla—cross-country champ—all but dances up it. But then—haha—I am old enough to be her grandmother.

Up we go, and up and up. I have a great excuse to pause and catch my breath on this challenging climb. Wild lupine! It spears and spreads under the trees, takes over sunny spaces, dashes purple into the brown and green of the woods. Seeing all the wildflowers overcomes weeping quads.

Lupine on the hill. Photo by Nora

There used to be a kind of obstacle course along the loop, but we see they’ve taken the stations out. Maybe somebody got hurt. We see a few other people on the trek, and let one large group pass us. Happily, as remembered, the track levels off. Now it’s a kind of stroll through the summer forest, with the tender green of new growth on little conifers, more lupine, what looks like wild primrose to me, sun and shadow and wonderfully pine-scented air.

Google lens calls it a Woods Rose. Comment by Laura, Photo by Nora

We find they’ve left one obstacle—oddly what we’d deem the most dangerous—the tall ladder build into a tall tree and the thick ropes for swinging.

Action pose. Photo by Nora.

Now it’s down—and steeply. Mind your step! And down we go and across the road, over the little bridge that spans a stream all but buried in the tall grass.

Back home again to make dinner.

Kat uses her knife sharpened rock to whap the garlic for peeling, then minces it—SO much better than using a steak knife! She decides to leave her handy tool for the next occupants and uses a Sharpie to label its many uses.

She’s my girl when the zombies attack.

Spanish beans and rice obviously requires rice. When my girl first started coming around she was—sincerely—amazed we cooked rice in a pan. Where’s the rice cooker? She had no idea rice could be prepared outside a rice cooker—and I had no idea such an appliance existed. And here we are, the Asian Rice Goddess and the Irish Potato Queen making a rice dish on a hot plate. In this dish, you sauté the rice in oil with the garlic for awhile—stir, stir, stir, then add lots of broth—veggie in this case. The rice cooks in the broth, absorbs it, and voila.

I’ve made this dish plenty at home, no issue. But the rice doesn’t want to fully cooperate on hot-plate cookery. Adjust temp, add more broth—let’s give it a shot of this red wine. Progress is slow, but it’s progress. Add beans, add salsa add herbs and spices. Wait for the rice to give it up.

I’ll add I don’t eat rice. Ever. At all. And as this dish is spicy, Griffin and I will share a pizza—which as it’s done (toaster oven) and the beans and rice are finally done—Kat suggests I cut with the scissors.

This is brilliant, works like a charm. When the aliens invade, she remains my girl.

We have our meal, and it’s proclaimed very tasty.

Play time segues into Daddy Dance. Upstairs for the boy for nightly Story Time before bed. Apparently Griffin declared more play time after stories, and while Mom deals with that, Daddy comes back down.

Time for Hearts! I warn Kayla she’s going DOWN tonight, and her journey stats with a hard slam on the first hand. But Jason gets hit with the queen the very next hand, shocked to take her with a measly four of diamonds.

The battle’s on. BW takes the lead, Kayla inches back. Jason holds his own. For me, other than one bad hand, it holds pretty steady. Round and round it goes, until Kayla takes the queen with a five of clubs—a reprise of Jason’s early pain.

Down she goes, and I take my solid victory. There is no sentiment in cards!

Bedtime.

Pretty day today, and a trip to Missoula for shopping this morning. Going to squeeze a workout in—or try. Looking forward for the hunt for Christmas presents.

Nora

How does a boy get a purple face? All explained in the video below. Photo by Kat

Programming note from the Travelogue Editorial Desk: I close up the beach office and head back to Maryland tomorrow morning so Thursday’s post will be a bit later, closer to evening.

Will miss this view. Photo by Laura

Montana – Day 10

Pretty day that promises even prettier as we head out to Garnet Ghost Town. Gabriella, our driver and guide, is as easy-breezy as the day. It’s just cool enough when we get there for—most of us—to want our jackets or hoodies, but oh so pleasant. I love the feel of this place, the piney air, the rising hills and dirt roads, the cabins and buildings that testify to this once thriving mining town.

Garnet. Photo by BW

It’s Kayla’s first trip here, so Gabriella fills her in—and I hit the little pop-up outside the gift shop cabin for some tumbling stones for the boys at home.

Kayla and Nora. Photo by BW

Griffin’s already taking off—the boy sees a road, he wants to travel it.

We can’t go into the wonderful and haunted old hotel or the general store—COVID’s slowed down some repairs and maintenance—but we can wander and climb and explore.

It doesn’t take long to ditch the jackets—and it’s really glorious just to be out in the warm and the sun. I spot some wild strawberries—just like the ones I’m constantly ripping out of my garden beds at home.

Wild berry. Photo by Nora

We meet up with Griffin and his parents, who—thinking they followed the right track—ended up at a private cabin’s drive. Fortunately the guy made allowances. Imagine living way, way up there, miles from anyone or anything but nature.

Griffin discovers the old jail, and apparently has an affinity for it. He loops through this cabin—out one door, around, in the other to stomp on little light balls from the sun through cracks in the roof. Around and around and around.

C’mon Granda! Photo by Kat

Climb the hills to view other cabins. I always imagine how families had to really learn to get along, and cooperate in this small spaces where a bedroom is tucked beside the tiny living/kitchen area and kids climb a later to share beds in a loft.

It’s clear Garnet is, for our outdoor loving explorer as delightful as Disneyland. I think he’d have stayed all day. And wasn’t pleased when it was time to go.

Family photo.

On the ride back, we see a doe and two tiny, tiny fawns. Mom and one streak up the steep and rocky hillside, but the other lays down and plays possum. We stop as at first we worried he’s hurt—but no—just scared, and he soon races up to join his mother and sibling.

Back home I decide to fit in a short cardio deal, and set up outside.

This is wonderful! The views, the air, the sun and shade. I smell the grass as I stretch down. Ahh.

Now I want some flowers. I plan to take scissors out and go around—out our drive, walk down to the narrow, high-grass area where the flowering bushes grow. I figure to get some of the honeysuckle looking bush, walk around it for chance at the white lilacs and some more purple.

However, when I get to the honeysuckle bush—which turn out to be tatarian honeysuckle—I see the bees—very, very busy bees, lots and lots of busy bees basically making it their own. I have a conversation with my bee friends: Okay, look, it’s a really big bush. I only one this one sprig. Just one. Do. Not. Sting. Me.

The foraging place.

Fortunately, they’re reasonable about it. But to get to the white lilacs, I’d have to test their generosity as the bush spreads clear to the other fence. I decide against.

Treasure allowed by the bees.

But I get some purple lilacs—briefly consider climbing the fence for the white—quickly reject the idea. Who knows what lurks in that high grass? But I find a couple other blooming things and make my little arrangement.

Finished! Photo by Nora.

Griffin’s napping, Kat and Jason have a couple’s massage—and I have the baby monitor. I sit on the back porch to work. Ahhh. Get a solid amount done really at my leisure before Griffin wakes.

He’s standing beside his bed, crying when I go in. Since COVID and isolation, he’s not as happy with me as he once was—but we’re getting there. He doesn’t freak that I’m not Mom or Dad but cries—just sleepy tears—on his way downstairs. Looks around.

And sees the cookie I hold out.

All is well.

We sit with the iPad and watch Sesame Street’s There’s A Fly In My Soup segment about fifty times. He finds it hysterical, and often calls out Waiter!

I give him black olives—the kid eats them like candy—some cheese, and he shares his happy with me. This is a good thing.

I think he’ll want to go outside, but when he’s done the post-nap snack, he decides all he wants in this world is the electric cord for the lamp. It’s one of the few things in this world his nana and his cousin won’t allow him to have.

The battle begins. He wedges himself behind the table with the lamp, and Kayla’s prying his fingers off the cord. As soon as she does, he grabs with his other hand—I should add there are many angry sound effects. The boy is strong. Seriously strong, and very determined to yank the crap out of the cord.

It takes both of us to detach him. I’m not saying fire shot out of his eyes during this battle, but if he could’ve done it, he would have.

We try to lure him outside. Outside is his favorite place. But he KNOWS we want him outside, so has no interest whatsoever. The cord, after all, is inside.

I try the little bubble machine, his beloved tubs of water and rocks. No dice.

Kayla says, try a cookie. Smart girl.

He wants the cookie, but seems to know it’s bait. Hard to resist bait. We get him to the back door, and I just grab him and set him on the porch.

Insult! Horror!

Meanwhile bubbles are bubbling, Kayla is all but doing handsprings to show him the joy of outside. He won’t move away from the door. Inside is all.

So I sit down on the platform of our hot tub and start playing with the rocks and water. He yearns. I can see it. We take the bucket and cup to the top step of the porch.

He caves.

Now he’s jabbering and conducting his experiments. Slowly, I move the bucket down to the ground, and Kayla and I won another battle.

He’s thoroughly happy now, playing with his water, playing in the grass, wandering around the big yard. And when his parental unit returns, there’s no desperate rush to them. It’s just like, hey, as he continues to play.

A very good thing for a toddler who’s spent the best part of 18 months with just that parental unit.

Ready for dinner. Photo by Nora.

Off to dinner—such a gorgeous night. Barbecue time with the barefoot keyboardist and his band. The sky’s just stunning, and it’s so nice to sit out without needing a jacket. At the end of the first set, the band gets kids to come up on stage and floss—or just dance around. Griffin’s been interested in the band, but he’s not ready to perform.

Sky drama. Photo by BW
Storm. Photo by j a-b

The sky goes dramatic—storm coming in. We can see the rain wall in the south east and serious clouds. It’s a sight—compelling, powerful. The wind kicks—the staff scurries to grab food off the barbecue area, and the band hurries to break down as that rain pours. People rush to the cover of the porch or inside, but the way the storm’s blowing we’re pretty sheltered in our pod. We opt to wait it out.

What a ride! Kayla and BW head for the hills (or the bar where there’s seating and some music), but the rest of us stay put. It rolls and blows, and the temp drops easily 20 degrees. But it’s just amazing. That big, big sky is one boiling mass, then it’s done.

Storm. photo by j a-b

Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Home again, and into warm sweats.

Daddy Dance—and it never get old.

Kayla, BW and I try some 500 Rummy, and Kayla once again takes the lead. Asses are laughed off, even after—maybe because—we learn we’ve screwed up the rules. Much too long since I’ve played this, but I do know: No, Kayla, you can’t play a two of Hearts on The Ace of Hearts after it’s played on The King of Hearts.

It does not, as she tries to negotiate, make a complete circle. But good try.

I nearly catch her—mere points away—but she prevails. She’s the Card Champ of this trip.

Bedtime. It’s been a long, active, pretty damn fabulous day.

Beautiful this morning—so nice to wake to 50s instead of 30s. Lots of sun.

Workout’s done, and a massage is in my near future.

Nora

#randomkatness

Montana – Day 9

An early start today a we’re leaving to visit the Garrett ghost town at nine. That means Sunday huckleberry pancakes for breakfast at the ranch before we head out.

Warmer weather and blue skies set the tone for our Saturday. Kayla and Jason have a good, solid riding lesson—time to practice working with a horse, getting to know a mount. Kayla’s equine partner is a bit stubborn, but she convinces him she’s the boss. Jason draws a sweetheart, a people pleasure who enjoys a good petting.

Girl in lavender boots meets her mount. Photo by j a-b

Kayla hasn’t been up on a horse for a long time, and the last time we were here, Jason had a fall, so this sets them up for our trail ride this week.

Ready to ride. photo by j a-b

Kat sets up Darts on the Switch, and Griffin laughs as if it’s the funniest thing ever invented.

I’m happy to get a little work in, then wander outside. There’s a big bush blooming with what looks like pink honeysuckle. Gotta get a picture, so next time I’ll take my phone out with me—and some scissors to snag some blooms.

Kat makes scratch biscuits in the toaster oven! Absolutely delish! She’s now honor-bound to do so again.

#randomkatness in the kitchen. Photo by Nora

Kayla and Kat have a date with the canopy tour so it’s off to get them geared up. And the horses are in the paddock! Oh, so pretty. One wanders over as I go to the fence, but it turns out he doesn’t want me to pet him. He wants to nibble on my jacket.

I decline.

I don’t think so!!! Photo by BW

A big bay’s more accommodating and gives me the sweet eye as I rub between his ears. Still my favorites are the gorgeous buckskins, both lounging on the ground. Several of the horses stretch out for Saturday afternoon naps.

Off to the ropes course, and into the harnesses.

I will always decline this activity, but the girls are more than game. There’s a little guy—maybe 10–with another group who also heads to the challenge course. His mom calls him out, points to the intermediate, so it’s just K&K for the challenge.

It’s up there, really up there. Swinging blocks of wood to balance on, wires to balance on like tightrope walkers, navigating from one rope to the next, a chance to play Spider-Man on a rope net. Kayla nearly loses it on one of the wires, but regains and continues. The stirrup section—seriously, hanging stirrups—nearly does Kat in, but she beats it.

Kat’s turn. Photo by Nora

Initially, Griffin’s concerned—or making concerned noises—when he watches his mom dangle and navigate way up there. But he’d like to try it, too. Daddy finds a way to make this happen—safely ground level.

Mom? Really? photo by j a-b
On the ropes with Dad. Photo by Kat.

Kayla wants to do the long drop finale. Climb up a tall, tall pole to the highest platform where the spotter hooks your harness to the drop line. Sit on the edge of the platform, then . . . Take the leap of faith. A quick drop, then a steady descent to the padded platform below.

Whew!

Both adventurers report burning legs and core. I bet!

Back home to clean up for dinner.

We note mama bird’s off the nest, so BW goes out to grab a picture—and yes, two babies—one who mistook BW for Mom and eagerly opens up for food. One egg left to hatch.

Feed me. Photo by BW.

A pretty damn perfect evening for outdoor dining, and three of our party go for the amazing smoked Gouda grilled sandwich with smoked tomato bisque. Mmmm. Before we eat Griffin takes his mom off for a walk/run. Of course, the water-loving boy finds a puddle to splash through.

And with the colorful gravel, Kat makes a Pride flag to commemorate the month. She’ll attempt the newer, more inclusive flag next time.

Only Kat would have the patience to create this. Comment by Laura, photo by Kat

We eat under gorgeous and sunny skies before Griffin takes me and Kayla off for a walk.

He thinks he has patsies. There’s an open gate to the next field, and jabbering, prancing casually, he aims for it. Kayla, says: Dude! and beats him to it. Undeterred, he jabbers and strolls on. He wasn’t going for the gate! Just wanted to stroll that way, bang on a pole, jump on the grass. Before he veers toward the gate again. Again, Kayla beats him.

Fine, fine, I really just wanted to hang on the fence, balance on my tummy, jump some more. One more casual wander toward the gate. Denied. So the fence will have to do. I’ll just jabber and balance, and hang. Then, slowly, stealthily try to swing my leg over the lowest rung.

Nana swings the leg back, twice, before he tries to wiggle UNDER the rung. Now he’s insulted as Nana hauls him back. The field’s right THERE. It’s everything I want and can’t have.

What’s Nana talking about? I just want to sit down! Photo by j a-b

The battle is brief before Daddy comes and hauls him back to the table.

Huckleberry ice cream! I can’t do it justice tonight, but still a couple tastes are heaven.

Home to hang out, to do the Daddy Dance, BW and Kayla start to watch a movie, but the girl’s worn out. Bedtime comes early.

I’m up early to a pink sunrise and the low wall of mist. Into the 80s today, and I say: YAY!!

May squeeze in a short work out—or not—before morning adventures.

Nora

Bonus Griffin content.

Montana – Day 8

The road out the front door. Photo by Kat.

Pretty day—such a nice improvement weather-wise. Still, we take it kind of easy—vacation, after all. We keep an eye on mother bird and the second hatched chick. This one fell out of the nest, too, but BW saw it and put it back quickly. She seems okay with that, and so far so good. Another egg has a little crack so maybe we’ll spot the next baby.

Back where baby belongs. Photo by BW

I grab some work time and some reading time—a nice combo for me.

Griffin gets a trip to the Apothecary to make slime. To make the class, he needs to get up from his nap. He seems confused by this. Like, you make me go to sleep when I’m playing, then you make me get up when I’m sleeping.

Peaceful boy. Photo by Kat.

Lovely afternoon with SUN. Kayla and I go along. Griffin doesn’t seem interested in slime-making right away, but Kayla is. Michael, the instructor, has a Broadway Disney playlist going, and such a sweet way with a not quite convinced toddler.

Spa town on a non-rainy day. Photo by Nora.

The boy IS interested in the little things that can go in the slime. Tiny donuts or lemon wedges, orange slices and so on, and takes them one at a time from Michael, examines, then hands off to Kat.

OK, maybe this is worth waking up. Photo by Nora

Meanwhile, Kayla’s making some pretty cool slime.

Sliming with a view. Photo by Nora.

The view is gorgeous, sunlight over mountains, hills and fields.

It’s a fun hour on a sunny afternoon, and we have two jars of slime to take home. Later, Griffin shows interest in the completed slime. I’d say it’s hard to resist playing with.

BW and Kayla go off for a ride and some photo ops. The camera loves the girl.

All grown up. Photo by BW
The equine view. Photo by BW.

A little more reading time, then change for dinner. A restaurant meal, and we think to eat inside—but the hearty Montanans have the AC on—it’s maybe 67 degrees. As a group we decide to grab a pod in the warmer. And the sun is strong and embracing.

We have Alaska John for our waiter, and he’s as interesting as his name. Normally he’d be bartending on a train in Alaska over the summer, but Covid changed his routine.

Jason and Griffin take off to run around, check out the play ground area, hang out by the fence, watch some cattle go by. It’s a really lovely evening for a leisurely outdoor meal with good food and happy faces and our interesting waiter.

Climbing the fence for a better view.
I’ve got it. Wait! There’s more? Photo by j a-b

We stay for dessert—again—and again, I can’t resist the huckleberry ice cream. So home a little later than usual, and nearly time for the Daddy Dance. The boy’s ready for it, and his head plops right down on Jason’s shoulder. When it comes around, he sleepily sings the chorus for C Is For Cookie.

But then, it’s Cookie Shark time. He revives for this with a grinning, head shaking boogie at the end. Despite the revival, he goes down without a fuss.

Nice sunset, and a promise of a 70 degree day coming up after an early, quiet night on the ranch.

Sun again. Workout done, breakfasters back as Jason and Kayla have a riding lesson this morning. She’s got my cowboy boots—the tall, lavender ones, and looks ready to ride.

Gotta get myself going, too. Kat and Kayla do the ropes course this afternoon, and I’ll go to watch. I don’t do heights.

Nora

The busy life of a two year old boy.
#randomkatness

Montana – Day 6

So pretty for about half the day, then clouds and cool mostly. So we set up to paint inside. Ashley, our instructor and guide has painted a couple of choices, and we go with lovely Montana landscape.

Let the fun begin.

Canvases, paints, brushes. Jason takes Griffin duty first—early nap so the boy’s up—and gets a late start, but he gets to join in.

Resting up for art class. Photo by Kat

I avoid looking at Kat’s because . . . Kat.

Lots of color to play with as we start—as instructed—with the sky and work our way down. I love that everyone’s interpretation’s different.

Artists at work. Photo by BW
A different view. Photo by BW

Ashley goes around the table, complementing and/or answering questions, then I hear her Oh Wow! She’s steps behind Kat.

I decide, what the hell, and round the table, too. It’s such fun to see what everyone does with the same scene. And yes, Kat’s an Oh Wow.

She’s added Buffalo (still to be detailed when Griffin is napping) and made it a winter scene.

Then Ashley brings out another canvas and gives Griffin paints and brushes.

He goes for it!

Maman c’est comme ça que tu peins! (I imagined him thinking in French – Laura).

A fun, artistic afternoon on a breezy day. And we all have our personal souvenirs of Montana.

The gallery. Top row: Kayla, Bruce; middle row: Jason, Nora; bottom: Kat, Griffin. Photo by Nora.

It gets cloudier, and rain’s off and on. Still good enough for some playtime in the tent.

In a theater family, it’s never too early to learn cues and trust falls. Video by Kat

All but BW decide to stay in, order room service and forgo tonight’s barbecue. We also have frozen pizza, and the toaster oven’s just big enough.

Sadly, we discover one of the baby birds—didn’t know they’d hatched—has been kicked out of or fallen out of the nest. And we discover it far too late to attempt a return. I hope the rest fare better.

We eat happily at home in our Montana ranch.

After dinner I play a little gin rummy with Kayla while Griffin begins his night time/bedtime ritual.  Jason finally comes down with the baby monitor as Kat tries to convince the boy to sleep.

Now we have four, and play Hearts.

This turns into a marathon, roller coaster of a game. Kayla way in the lead, BW losing steadily, Jason and I neck-in-neck between. Kayla slips, Jason sneaks by her, I sneak by Jason, back and forth.

Kayla runs them! Back in the lead.

Then BW cagily does math, plays it right and hits 100 on the nose. Hit 100 by our house rules, go back to zero.

The game turns around! BW way in the lead the other’s battling for second. Up, down. I should add Kat comes down during all this battling, and that besides card sharking we have a ridiculous amount of laughs.

We’re hitting BW hard, though he still holds a commanding lead.

And then, out of the dark, Jason—apparently inadvertently—hits 100.

Back to zero, and I fall over the edge.

Game over. Jason is The King Of Hearts for the evening.

Then we all fall into bed.

Workout done on this cold, cloudy day. This is forecast to be the coolest, wettest day of our stay, so we  plan to cook a big vegetarian meal for dinner. (And there’s frozen pizza!)

We’ll start on that after Kat, Kayla and I have our massages at Spa Town.

Sounds like a very fine way to spend a day where they’re calling for a high of around 48.

That ain’t June to this East Coast Girl!

Nora


The essence of #RandomKatness

Update from The Travelogue Editorial Desk: Today’s #randomkatness is a puzzle. A five leaf clover? Did Kat get a maniture? Do the palettes match the greens? There’s no explanation so I leave it up to you.

And just between us – since we’re friends and all? I’m working at the beach office and the weather is just fine.

Laura

Montana – Day 5

We’re gifted with a perfectly beautiful day. Bold blue skies, light breeze, low 70s. There’s another bush between the lilacs, and I think—maybe—white lilac. Not sure, and the blooms are too high and on the other side of the fence so I can’t do the sniff test.

But pretty.

High white blooms. Photo by Nora.

Lots of play time outside for the boy, in the tent, out of the tent with bubbles and his love of pouring water and dropping rocks into the tub. Pour more water from tub to tub, pick out rocks to drop in new tub. He can work this experiment for a very long time.

I can sit on the porch steps on a pretty day and watch him for a long time.

The mad scientist magics up a nice day. Photo by his Nana.

When it clouds up, as predicted, and you can all but feel the rain coming, there’s some intense puzzle time. Kayla’s deeply into this and makes serious progress.

Some wavering by me about heading to the Chuck Wagon Dinner event. If it’s raining and chilly, I can toss a frozen pizza in the toaster oven and all good.

But, delightfully, skies clear, temp creeps up again.

Time to put the cowboy on.

In the shuttle Griffin does his car riding thing. He calls out K!!!!! We like to think that’s his name for Kayla and not just the letter. Then COWS! He has a steady interest in the cattle—from a distance. We all join in.

This event is by the river and a stunning spot. You travel there through woods and hills all sparkling and shadowy at once in the sunlight. The river’s running fast, the smokers are smoking—smells good—-and the bar’s set up.

Supply wagon. Photo by BW
J by the river. Photo by BW
The set up. Photo by BW.

We grab a picnic table under a pergola—in case the rain comes back, and while Griffin takes off with his parents giving chase, the rest of us settle in.

Perfect spot. Photo by Nora.

Live music, a beautiful spot on a beautiful evening.

Apparently our boy wanted to run in the road—and the fact he was denied this activity ruined his life for about ten minutes.

The feast’s on. I’m really grateful the resort has so many veggie options, and Kayla doesn’t go hungry here. She, of course, passes on the Tomahawk steak. I do not, and it’s delicious.

Meat on the grill. Photo by BW

We all pass on the invitation to take part in a hatchet throw.

Kayla makes herself a s‘more, then it’s time for the ride home.

It’s past a certain someone’s bedtime, but he strongly objects. Mama won’t be denied, and—as mama’s do—wins the battle. But it’s fiercely fought.

Kayla and I are at the puzzle, and Kat comes to join in. But after the battle decides she’s earned a mimosa. Kat is a rare drinker, and a serious lightweight. Kayla decides she’d like to try one. When she samples, she says, it just tastes like oj. Kat is amazed! But it tastes so strong to me. (Lightweight! LOL.)

I suspect Kat put maybe a scant teaspoon of champagne in the nearly 8 oz of oj. I add a little more to Kayla’s. Okay, she says, it tastes like sparkling oj.

There you go.

So I have my first adult drink (no oj in mine, thanks) with my granddaughter.

Nora’s solo bubbles. Photo by Nora.

We puzzle on until bedtime.

Another gorgeous day, and a morning warmer than the last few. Workout done, a load of laundry in. I’ll work a little in a little.

We hope to have our Paint Day. Rain coming late afternoon, but sunny and low 70s before. It should be a great day to play artists outside.

Nora


Note from the Travelogue Editorial Desk: I wake up to a trove of photos. Some I know will fit copy. Some are there for the memory. And for some, I create stories of my own. These didn’t fit copy, but I thought you’d like a glimpse of the power of the Griffin.

King me. Photo by Kat.
Cross me and you shall bear the same fate as the flower. Photo by Kat
The flower. Video by Kat
#RandomKatness (clean rocks by Griffin). Photo by Kat

Montana – Day 4

Apothecarying’s fun!

We have our class near Spa Town with those incredible views through glass walls.

We start off making little lotion bars—custom as we choose our own scents or blend of scents.

Measure, mix, melt. Sniff, sniff to decide how we want them to smell. I’m in love with the Huckleberry so easy choice for me. Kayla goes for a lavender peach combo, and Kat huckleberry lemon.

Oh, the way everything smells!

We can add bits of rose, lavender or chamomile. Who can resist?

When we’re all done, we pour into little molds. Kayla and I both choose stars, and Kat a star and a couple seashells. So cute!!!!

From l: creations by Kat, Nora, Kayla’s . Photo by Nora

While those are in the fridge to harden we tackle lip balm. For this, it’s lavender peach for mine because it smells so yummy. A similar process of measuring and mixing, and into the little tubes.

Polish it off with bath scrub. I’m all about the huckleberry and lemon—with some dried rose crushed up in it. We get blue jars, mix it all up. It’s so creamy and fragrant.

Happy Kat and Kayla. Photo by Nora.

Back home on a warmer and happily sunny day.

BW’s been out with his drone taking aerial shots. Jason has tried and failed to get Griffin down for a nap.

The view from above. Photo by BW.

Pretty day to walk around outside—then the puzzle calls me for a session.

It’s coming along!

We have dinner—The Big Sky Bash—at the equestrian center. Kayla gets her cowgirl on with her hat—and a jacket and boots from Nana’s closet. It’s just gorgeous when we leave, but I also wear a jacket because I know how it goes here!

Kayla and her Nana. Photo by BW
Kayla and her Grandda. Photo by Nora.

We shuttle off to the bash, and it’s gorgeous there, too. There’s a pretty pond, and people out in canoes. That wide, wide spread of sky, the mountains and hills rising and rolling under it, cattle in the fields, lots of picnic table set and another live band.

Fun stuff. Along with a pony ride for kids.

Griffin makes a bee-line for the lake. That kid loves water. He has some running around time, and his Mom suggests a pony ride. But when she takes him over, sets him in the saddle, the answer is: Absolutely not!

A shame (though pretty funny) as Cookie the pony is pretty and sweet and patient. Kayla makes friends with her.

Kayla and her new friend. Photo by Nora.

Lots of food—and the roasted corn on the cob’s a big hit. Also fresh tortillas—mmmm.

Then the sun disappears behind clouds, the wind kicks up. Cold!!!! I hold out hope the sun will find its way back, but no. Just no. Still we had a fun time, good eats, and sunny and pleasant for most of our adventure.

Before the sun disappeared. Photo by Nora.

Back home for us. A Daddy Bedtime Dance. Not even halfway through that ritual, Griffin’s asleep on Jason’s shoulder. And still, mouth slack, eyes closed, he sings blearily: Wobba Wobba.

The videographer dances too!

Up to bed for our sleepy boy.

Day is done. Photo by Kat.

More puzzle time! Hang and puzzle with Kat and Kayla for awhile after Griffin’s settled (and Daddy with him). By ten we’re all tired, so an early night in the west.

I get eight straight, always a happy. Work out—good morning, Griffin. This is Daddy’s shift, their routine, and it goes along well. Some warmer, so parts of that routine means Griffin goes to the door. Time to go outside!

Finish my workout shortly before the shift change and BW, Kayla and Jason head out for breakfast.

I need to rewrite the bulk of a chapter. I’ve worked out in my head the how and the why but because it’s more intense work than editing, I take myself up to the quiet of the bedroom.

It takes a couple hours—and will need at least a couple more to make it all smooth. But it’s done. I think, while I’m up there how some idiot posted on the internet just yesterday or today—forget—how I don’t write all my own books because. There’s always a because in this type’s mind. And I think bite me, asshole, as I finally shut down after a couple of sweaty hours during my damn vacation!

Because I do write all my own books.

Come down to learn Griffin’s not feeling altogether well. When a toddler wants a nap and doesn’t want a cookie, he’s feeling off. But he has The Daddy Shoulder Of Comfort—doesn’t want Mom who is—unquestionably—his most favorite person of all people.

From yesterday when the mad scientist felt better and kept busy. Photo by Kat.

Seems a little better now, and is outside with Mom while Daddy’s getting a well-earned massage at spa town.

BW’s just back from taking pictures of our neighbors just up the road. Buffalo!

BW and his new pals. Photo by BW.
A closer look. Photo by BW.

I’m going to get some outside time myself.

We have—hope it’s not too cold—The Chuck Wagon Dinner tonight. Always a good, fun time.


Note from Travelogue Central Editorial Desk:

Because one download staring at me wasn’t enough, Kat decided to get a fuller photo of the eyes, thus earning the first #RandomKatness since 2019. To top that off, she took a snap of Griffin communing with the eyes. ~Laura

A november-ish update

November, how can that be? I mean, I know HOW it can be, but still am stunned there are 61 days left to this year.

Before 2020, Fall into the Story was full of bright, interesting travel, family and life updates from Nora along with lively book discussions. This year, while the book chats continue to bring up differing points of view and some charged opinions, the life section has simmered down to monthly updates with varying degrees of Groundhog’s Day (the Bill Murray movie, not the weird shadow day. Though I admit to preferring Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow for a movie about a day without end.)

I volunteered to take November. For those who love Nora’s own voice, I know she’ll be back with an update around the holidays. Today you’ve got the Cranky Publicist.

In Nora’s world, she and BW celebrated her birthday in the 2020 way — lots of virtual love and gifts by mail. Plus a visit from the ever entertaining Griffin and his parents.

C’mon Atticus, show me a downward dog!

Writing-wise, Nora’s immersed in the second book set in the world you’ll meet in The Awakening (out November 24). It’s hard sweaty work to build a world, but I sense it’s also daily respite from the stress of the world where it’s 2020.

Last weekend, Griffin turned 2! (Ok, if I can’t believe it’s November, I’m really having issues with Griffin and two.) He celebrated in fine style with his Nana and Grandda (and those necessary chauffeur parents). Word is he wanted everyone’s cake — especially Mom’s — instead of his own piece.

Yours looks more interesting. Mom!

Time for the first #randomkatness in a very long time! I know long-term readers have asked occasionally about the blanket Kat was knitting for Griffin. I have proof she finished it before the 2nd birthday:

One side…
the other.

In the Cranky Publicist world — outside of Nora responsibilities — my very first solo photo show opened at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro yesterday. When we planned it in January, the opening coincided with TTP’s Halloween signing. While events at TTP are canceled (the store remains open), the talented team at Gifts continues to forge ahead with in-person and virtual exhibits of interesting art from creatives all over the Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania area.

Including, it seems. Me.

As some of you know, I tend to take photos as I go on my daily walks. The pieces I chose for this show feature walks from 2018 until last month. I framed 12 pieces, then made cards and a calendar.

Framed, ready to go.
A selection of cards.
Outside the shop on delivery day.

And all will be on display/online until the end of November. You can see my pieces here.

I’ll close in the best way possible: a sweet little boy on a tree stump. I KNOW you don’t find that every day.

Perfect form.

As always, stay safe, stay well, and be kind.

Laura