Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December 28, 2015 - Good times at home!

Lots of photos on this one so be patient!  Obviously we are back home again in Montana.  We came back here for the holidays. It's nice to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's day with family and friends.  In addition December is about the only cold month (by Montana standards) in Overton so we decided to spend it here in MT instead.  Here we have more things to do, more room, and better heat!

It snowed the day after our arrival and we quickly learned that our little front-wheel-drive car wasn't going to make it.  So ... we bought a (well!) used Subaru sedan that was all-wheel-drive.  We immediately put new studded snow tires and a battery and had more money in it in parts than we paid for the car.  But it gets around great on theses snowy roads and gets acceptable gas mileage (25 mpg) so we're happy with it.  We had one winter without studded snow tires and decided that that was never going to happen again!

So here are 47 photos showing some of the things we've been up to the last month!

We had a covey of grouse spend a little time outside our living room window one morning.  There are seven in this photo. We thought about bagging a couple for dinner but I just enjoyed watching them too much to shoot any.

I got out my old treadle sewing machine to hem up some pants.  Scott was fascinated with it so when I finished I took the needle out and let him play with it for awhile (like my grandmother did when I was his age).

Susan found a (very!) large serving tray and the Legos now reside in it.  It's half the size of the table and we can just move it off the table whenever we need the table for more conventional uses.  The Lego blocks provide hours of entertainment for Scott and most of our male visitors (and me!).

A Lego robot Scott put together.

A trip to Kalispell with a stop at Coscto for groceries and lunch.

One of our pressure canners put away for the season. Susan lubes the seal with cooking oil and seals it in a plastic bag to keep it soft.

My Santa suit came in the mail so I had to model it.  Scott was ecstatic but just a little confused.  He thought Santa lived at the North Pole.

Then Grandma tried it on.  She got a nice long hug for her efforts!

Scott decorated his birthday cake himself.  Susan keeps a crate of cake decorations for all events around and Scott has decorations for his birthday, Easter, Halloween and Christmas.  He wanted a "red" cake so Susan used food coloring to make it (light) red.  He was happy with it.  We celebrated his birthday a couple of more times in order for all the relatives to enjoy it with him.

Scott's mom and brother playing in his rocket tent.

One of our "traditions" is cutting the Christmas tree on our property (we have hundreds to choose from!).  We like to get it before the snow so I don't get all wet cutting it down but this time we were a few hours late.  Scott picked this one out.  We'd originally planned to take the one behind it but this one made an excellent tree for us.

He helped decorate the tree with Grandma.  (Or maybe it was Grandma helping Scott!?)

As Scott says ... "Ta Da."

Sleep kind of sneaks up him at times.

We are low on firewood.  I don't normally let that happen but I delayed cutting because of the fire danger.  If a fire rolls through the firefighters will not save your wood shed and then you have to start all over again so many of us like to wait until after the fire season to cut our wood.  I normally cut some in the spring anyway but my stepfather died last spring so we spent several weeks in Kansas.  Then when we got home the forest fires up here were so bad we headed south to get some clean air.  Then we spent several more weeks in Kansas helping my mother with the estate sale then we headed south from Kansas.  So, my excuse was that we weren't home much last summer (which is true!)  Anyway, now I'm cutting firewood in the snow which I hate doing but you do what you gotta' do.  I cut the trees down on our property then we sled them to the wood shed.  I could have used the truck but it was only a couple hundred yards and we needed the exercise anyway.  Scott, of course saw the opportunity for a sled ride and took it. 

The ride down was best because he didn't have to share the sled with the fire wood.

Susan hauling a load of firewood up to the wood shed.

Then the snow began!  I've had to shovel off the shack roof twice and clean the shed roofs twice (the barn, wood shed and storage shed) and shovel off the work shop roof once and brace the roof on it too (it has a nearly flat roof and I brace it up every winter).  They almost need it again.  I clean the snow off when it reaches about 12 inches deep on the roof.

The road coming in towards our cabin. 

Our solar panels need to be swept daily and then we have so few sunny days in December that it doesn't seem worth it.  We run the generator most evenings in December.  Our small generator (4000 watt) is getting old and tired.  We've had it for twelve years now and I estimate it's only producing about half of what it did when new.  But it's a lot easier on gasoline than our big generator so we are still using it. It will probably get replaced next spring.  We have electric starters on all of our generators here in MT.  When the temperature is -10 or lower they can be impossible to start using a pull rope.  In those cases you have to bring it in the cabin to warm it up first.

Our daily sweep.  I bought a commercial snow rake in an Overton yard sale last year and the handle extensions will fit the broom handle so now I don't need to use the ladder anymore.  I can do it from the ground.  Unfortunately, I didn't discover that until after I'd already used the ladder a few times.  It goes a lot faster now!

To say that Scott enjoys the snow would be a bit of an understatement.  He loved shoveling the driveway.  Well, he loved it for about five minutes at a time.  After that he found other things to do. 

Susan made a couple of snowmen.  This was the second one after we'd had several snow storms roll through.  It's a dandy!

Scott tried running his plastic lawn mower but it just didn't work well on snow!

Home made pizza!

Scott requested biscuits for breakfast only he stipulated that they be made using some of his favorite cookie cutters.

Our "work station."

After last summer's fires we waited until the ground was covered in snow to burn this slash pile.  It was a bit difficult to get it started but once it got going it did a fine job drying out and burning the rest of the wood.

Breakfast on the wood stove.  I have hash browns cooking in the skillet and the pan has coffee in it.  I reheat the previous day's coffee and drink it until the pot is empty.

Scott's new treasure from the thrift store.

He saw what it was made for and had to have it.  Every child needs the perfect ... snow ball maker!

This was the first snowman that Susan made.  Not much snow yet so she picked up a few leaves while rolling the snow.  It's been snowing almost constantly this month.  Typically it just snows very lightly for weeks on end.  It does finally accumulate though.  We probably have anywhere from 18 inches to two feet of snow depending upon where you're standing in the yard.

Scott getting his morning cuddle from Grandma.  Its a great way to start the day.

Melting snow for water.  We have used snow for drinking after after filtering it  So far this winter we've only needed it for washing clothes, dishes, and us.  We always bring each new batch to a boil before using it.

Susan rolling out the dough for Christmas cookies.  Scott's mom (right) and dad (left) are waiting by the table.  Scott is occupied with something in front of the cabinet behind the table.

Decorating cookies is one of our traditions not only for Christmas but also for Easter and Halloween.  Some are nearly artistic quality.  Susan goes all out mixing colors of frosting on her plate.  It looks like an artist's palette.  Her cookies are almost too pretty to eat ...  "almost" being the key word here.

More cookies ...

and more cookies ..

I did the cookies on the paper plates.  Not much artistry.  My main goal is to ensure that the frosting in at least 1/4 inch thick.  Scott likes my cookies best!

Our youngest son works at a private golf course where they have recently opened up an air museum.  The guy who owns the golf course also owns the planes in the museum.  You'll note that most of the planes have oil drip pans under them.  That's because most of them are working rigs and the owner flies them regularly.  I've put the link to the museum above this photo.  They have more information on the website.  There are a lot more planes than those in the photos.  This plane is very special.  You'll have go to the website to know why.

More planes ...

More planes.  (I used to love the stories about the Flying Tigers in WW2 so it was great to be able to see this plane up close.)

This is one very few people have seen.  Anyone know what it is and how it was used in the Vietnam war?

This one has quite a story behind it.  The pilot who used to fly it is going to visit the museum in the near future.  It should be quite a reunion.  (It was fully armed when he flew it.)  There are many more planes to see and each one has a unique story behind it.  A trip through this museum is much more than just looking at some airplanes.

Scott relaxed and playing Angry Birds on the tablet.

More snow to melt.  When the kettle is nearly full it works better to just scoop the snow into the kettle to keep from overfilling it.

The ice-cycles from snow melting on our roof.

Thanks for your patience!

Friday, December 4, 2015

December 1, 2015 Busy

Wow, it's been awhile since I posted so this is a quick update on some of the things we've been doing other than seemingly endless travel time in the car.

Scott playing at my mother's house in Kansas.

Scott recovering from playing at my mother's house in Kansas.

This is one of Scott's favorite activities at the zoo.  It's a rope spider web that helps him burn off some of the boundless energy he has.

While at my mother's we took some side trips.  One was to a meet-up in Texas and another to see our daughter in Illinois.  This is where we crossed the Missouri River on our way to see some of Susan's old stomping grounds in Missouri.

The Missouri River.

Taken from a small town in Missouri.  I don't know if that was a former jaywalker or just a warning to potential jaywalkers.

Sunset in Kansas. 

Back in Overton where we got our motor home out to spend some time in the desert.  

Scott attempting to roast a marshmallow peanut over the charcoal.  They just kind of melt.

Susan bought some garden plants to put out but we gave them away when we decided to head back to Montana for the holidays.

Me-n-Scott at Lake Mead.

Raising the wind generator pole.

Wind generator up!  We brought two more solar panels from home and put them on the motor home in Nevada.  That gives us about 520 watts of solar power on the motor home.  I permanently mounted the panels about a week after this photo was taken.  It's enough to put us over the edge.  With the wind and solar power and the 3,000 watt inverter and the wood stove we very seldom run the generator now.

Scott picked out a new bow when we were in Walmart.  It's a compound with a center-shot window.  He has a hard time pulling it back and goes through all the contortions seen by adult archers who are over-bowed but he likes shooting it.  

Scott's going to slide and dice grandpa. At least he gave me a sword to defend myself with this time.  I think the chair is supposed to be armor to protect his back.

He found a knight costume and we bought it for him.  He wears it everywhere including story time at the library.  We went to Walmart after Halloween and they had a big clearance rack of Halloween costumes so Scott loaded up on them.  At a dollar each we let him get several.

Scott flying his kite while sitting down.

Scott flying his kite while laying on the ground.  It's a good thing he has a steady wind so that he doesn't have to work too hard at flying a kite.

One of our daily bicycle rides.

Scott always seems to enjoy them unless it's cold.  Obviously it's not cold this time.

After story time at the library he plays computer games on the library computer.

Veterans Day parade at Overton. After the parade there was a community cook-out at the park.

We always like to see the Christmas light display at the chocolate factory in Las Vegas.

Scott liked a lot of the figurines they had there.

We moved the wind tower around to the side of the motor home.  It put it in a more vertical position.  We padded it where it touched the motor home and quieted it down considerably.  Hopefully I'll get it mounted permanently this spring.  I finally thought of a way to make the tower extendable without spending a lot of money or making it too complicated.

We got to see new snow anyway!

Our daughter, son-in-law, and their kids are in the process of moving and stopped to camp out awhile on there way.  We had them pick up a half-cord of firewood from a local vendor.

Everyone helped get the firewood from the pickup to the storage unit.

This is a good place to store it.  We'll bring out about a week's supply at a time when we get back down there.

While we were out hiking around Scott found a little tiny cactus growing under a rock so we stopped to take it's picture.

This is a spring we hiked in to explore.  These little springs are all over the area and most are not hard to find. 

An evening watching the lake as the sun sets.

Almost time to hit the sack.

Susan took this shot of our SIL fishing.