Stern Border Service Officers

All I could think about was getting over that border and getting to my treasured friend, Ramona.  The morning light was heavenly.  I left the little town of Raymond, drove east and then at the intersection, turned south for the Sweetgrass Hills.

To the right, I passed wetlands and identified American Advocets and a large group of Black-necked Stilts.  On road trips, one can not possibly stop often enough to capture all of the wonder as it slips past.  I was happy to see many winged friends and to see the vast beauty that is southern Alberta.  The past ten years or so I’ve made my life all about the fleeting moments and the tremendous beauty that reveals itself in familiar places.  I’m not big into world travel…but, I’m big into deepening my relationship with what is close up, if that makes any sense at all.  We all do life in our own particular way.

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At the border, I was met by a very stern border service officer.  Oh my goodness…a 63 year old lady approaches and ‘you have the need to be miserable’.  Mayhaps I was bringing some sort of bias to the experience. “Pull around and park in the back.  An officer will meet you there.”  Sure…okay.

The officer who joined me a short while later was much more pleasant.  She covered an agricultural survey with me and shuffled through my belongings in the vehicle…most concerned with plant matter, foods…yes, I get it.  And then I was on my way after sharing with her some pleasantries about high school years in Great Falls.

Continuing on to Shelby, I thought about the lack of gun controls…the shift in thinking.  I remembered how grateful I was to be a Canadian.  I looked forward to making Great Falls.  Once there, I contemplated taking time to visit special places and special people that remain.  I sat in the parking lot of the Flying J and felt so close to the memories of home that my family built in this place…thought of my friends and the house on Fox Farm Road.  I decided that this wouldn’t be the trip for packing in too much.  I needed to sip on my lemonade and enjoy the landscape.  I would have to make another opportunity to do all of the rest of it.

I love the landscape just south of Great Falls…Holter…and Prickly Pear.  There is only one place to stop and so it’s a chore to be overcome with the extreme beauty and at the same time, in a photo-crazy world like ours, not to be able to archive it.  I pulled over at the only stop on my side of the I-15.

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I thought about my Dad and wondered why the heck he wasn’t on this road trip with me.  I love to drive with my father.  These are places he knows and loves far better than I!

Onward!

In Helena, I had my first learning about roaming data charges.  Sigh.  Enough said.  Bob and Dan, I tried to track you down.  I thought I had an hour to play with in Helena.  Sorry.  I left your deets at home in my address book. (roaming, YOU SUCK!)

I had no recollection of the places I saw south of Helena, although I’ve traveled that road…a couple of times with a long-haul trucker, a few times traveling to see my parents in Colorado Springs, Colorado and likely before that, travels to various speech team competitions.  What I haven’t done is turned off into la la land at the Divide exit, west…Wise River…Wisdom…and all of that.  There were zero opportunities to take photographs of the wondrous landscape that unfolded after that turn off from the I-15 and my mind set to wondering as I saw such beauty reveal itself.  I thought about my new-found cousin, Charlene, who lives in Idaho Falls and a bit of a remote feeling took over me, that likely I wouldn’t be able to meet her on this trip.  All of a sudden, I heard the words escape my mouth…

“This is all for you, Kath.”  And yes…there were some tears.  The crystal blue waters weaving through verdant miles were beyond description.  The rugged rock reached vertical to either side of me.  I was overcome with beauty.

As I pulled to the right into the Big Hole National Battlefield, I felt exhausted, but so grateful.  Swallows seemed to beckon me.  I knew that Ramona would be working her shift in the visitor’s center, but decided to spend a few quiet moments looking over the valley.  Again, time just for me.  I knew that this place held huge spiritual energy and that the history for the Nez Perce peoples on this land held such provision and at the same time, horror, that I wanted to be present to the moment.  And then…Ramona.

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Cat Ladies and Other Good Habits

In 2007 I met one of the most gracious and fun-loving women of my life.  There was a huge context there and quite a history, but as of today, we jokingly share that we met in rehabilitation.

My readers will know that I lost my beautiful cat, Peanut Meister, this past year…well, I had to go and visit with Kirsten to get my fill of cat loving and at the same time, eat my belly full of beautiful white chocolate and berry scone!

We shared updates and laughs and took photos of Zebbie and Mitz from every angle, while sipping a home brewed latte flavoured with just a wee bit of vanilla.  YUM!  It was an awesome start to my day.  Thanks, dear Ya Ya!

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DSC_2531I am now going to wade through the kazillion photographs of these precious siblings and post a small selection here.  I also want you to notice what I was willing to do in order to capture these photo moments.  Zebbie is the one who looks somewhat like a zebra because of the markings down her back.  Mitz (not to be confused with Mitts) is a chill sort of guy…totally different demeanor as compared to his sister.  My purple winter coat became a fascination to both cats, but especially Zebbie.

First… one of the crazy cat ladies. (Because the other one doesn’t like her photograph taken. I am true to my word with people like this.)

Kath at Kirsten's 2(Anything for a picture of Mitz)

Kath at Kirstens 1Here’s the cat lady who shall remain out of photographs (for the most part).

DSC_2558And here just a couple of the little sweethearts.  It’s easy to see why cat videos and cat books are the norm these days.  They just put a smile on your face.

Mitz...and in the case that you didn't get a good look at that black marking under his chin, he will give you a better look.

Mitz…and in the case that you didn’t get a good look at that black marking under his chin, he will give you a better look.

Can you see it now?

Can you see it now?

Zebbie just loved the purple coat.

I see you.

I see you.

Oh, Go Away!

Oh, Go Away!

Intensity.

Intensity.

You're annoying me!

You’re annoying me!

We were thinking you might leave this coat behind.

We were thinking you might leave this coat behind.

I had a great morning.  Filled up with friendship, good food, good conversation and two beautiful cats, I headed home to my adoring canine, Max.  The weather was so beautiful…it was time to play!

 

12:00 a.m. Moon Gazing

May 6 12:00 a.m. 

Moon-gazing at midnight…watching layers of cloud whiz past the perfect white globe.  Photos are grainy-but capture the mystery and beauty of the moment.

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. Anais Nin

Reflections on a Changed Landscape

Clouds Gathering to the East

April 19, 2012 4:30 p.m. Weather 12 degrees, some wind, intermittent cloud.  Findings: The Same: Again and Again  Now it is a matter of maintaining the park area.  I learned from the orientation that now the birds are settling in near the shores and that if I see any flushing at all from the ducks/geese out from under the cattails and other vegetation, then it wouldn’t be right to disturb their space, so I’m not pulling plastics out of the pond anymore.  I spent an awesome walk, reflecting and just enjoying the outdoors.  Max spent much of the time on leash as he LOVES the water!

The desire to write grows with writing. Desiderius Erasmus

Beach Day: Barachois Beach

Local Raspberries

After Cavendish (a Provincial Park), I stopped at the cottage and picked up Max so we could make our final visit to OUR beach, Barachois.  He was very excited…so after I enjoyed a bowl of local raspberries, we headed out for our exploration.  My mission was to pick up some beach sand to bring home to Mom who remains in my prayers continually.

Sea Grasses and Blue Skies

Reflected Sky

This is Where I Dug Up Mom's Beach Sand

Woolen Mill

 

The same Mule that was located in the Magrath Card and Spinning Mill, now located in the Carstairs Woolen Mill.

I am so proud of my family.  As I do the research of both my paternal and maternal sides, I  learn more about humanity.  The history lectures in school transmitted the details and the dates of the Industrial Revolution, the poverty of England and Ireland, the Workhouses and the mass immigration to a Nation that would offer hope and economic relief.  On the French side, I read the history chapters about the Mass Expulsion of the French Acadians, but none of it reached into my heart until I discovered the names of my relations on Census documents and learned of their stuggles and demise.  I continue to search for the details of their lives because now I know ‘what I am made of’.  I now understand why my immediate family is filled with hard-workers and determined, strong individuals.  I love my family!

Magpies

Time in the morning with Max, is always a beautiful time!  I mutter under my breath as I pour out of my warm bed, especially when it’s freezing cold outside or we’ve just had a dump of snow, but in the end, I am always blessed to have made it out into the dark or light of it, because there is always some sort of magic to observe in nature. 

I often find myself marvelling at the achievements or the extraordinary accomplishments of people I know OR don’t know.  I think that they take nature on in such an extreme way and they see such exceptional wonders in the sky, the mountains or on the ocean.  But no less marvelous are the wonders of every morning as they reveal themselves to you on an ordinary walk in the neighbourhood or by a local pond.

Just this morning I saw a whole battalion of magpies trying to fight off a crow.  The crow was obviously trying to create destruction to eggs/a nest/ wee hatched-birds or some such vulnerable life set deep in the arms of an evergreen tree.  Twice, the crow successfully entered into the dark cave of the evergreen, but those adult magpies came, like dive-bombers, from all directions.  What a cacophonus exhibition of will and natural behaviour in defence of some unseen treasure!  Finally, as the crow abandoned the tree, a single brave soldier took flight behind the crow in wild pursuit and the others, equidistant from the target, sat like sentinels on guard until certain that the crow would not return.  In a matter of minutes, all returned to normal and the adults dismantled their army, each returning to a different part of the park.  I was amazed by this ten minute show of wills and determination and wondered about the loss that such small beings must endure as a course of nature.  The world can be a frightening place.