ICSF is off at a hearing in Shelby today, so she asked me to fill in with another guest blog.  Here’s another day of vacation from Bar-Review.

The day started off at the cabin, and it was just about as pretty a morning as you can ask for this side of Paradise.  I spend a lot of time on the front stoop or in the hammocks, so this is the view I take in most days.

The tower used to have an old steel windmill on top of it- it ran the pump for the well.  It must have blown off in some wicked wind  (which if you’ve been following ICSF’s blog, you know that happens fairly regularly).  I found the wreckage of it back in the woods…not salvageable.  Someday I’d love to put a wind turbine up there, some solar panels on the pump house roof, and have the whole place run off the grid.  Maybe even sell some juice back to the power co-op.  Dreams.

Anyways, the morning was more chores- fixing a closet coat rack that was poorly installed and then collapsed under the weight of 8,000 unnecessary articles of clothing.  ICSF was VERY concerned that her wedding dress was getting wrinkled…I wasn’t aware she had plans to ever wear it again.  Women.  Cleaned the furnace filter, worked on the garden, painted some more storm windows.

I surmise that my penchant for ‘chores’ comes from my Dad, who has always been a top-rate handyman.  When the folks first got the house in Spencer, there wasn’t much money for hiring professionals, so Dad did most of the work himself.  He’s always figured that if some guy who may not have his GED can do it (and get paid $40 an hour to do it), then the rest of us can probably figure it out too.  Dad got the Time Life series of how-t0-fix everything back in the late 70s.  I’ve got several dozen of the tomes up on my bookshelf in the cabin now, and they are fantastic resources.  Dad has taught himself (and me) how to safely and properly wire all of the electricity for a house, how to plumb any fixture with plastic, copper, or steel pipes, how to roof with asphalt shingles or steel plating, the correct manner of properly using all manner of saws, drills, and other tools, and how to maintain all aspects of a home.  He is the Zen-Master of Homestead Maintenance.  Sound like he has lots of fun projects over at that new house in Whitefish!

Well it was a gorgeous day, so Pseudo-Sister and Darling Summer Help and I decided to enjoy it, Montana-style.

With guns, of course!  Didn’t see that coming after the photo of fresh growth did you?  We loaded up my pickup and drove over to one of the ranch’s junkyards that has all sorts of fun targets and a good backstop.  I showed Pseudo-Sister and DSH how to safely handle, load, and fire a .22, 30-30, and a 12ga shotgun.  Pretty sure they had a blast (PUNS!) and we definitely wrecked some bottles, cans, and random bits of rotten old metal.  The 30-30 and the shotgun were very novel for both of the new sharpshooters, but we had the most fun plinking with my old .22.  They both turned out to pretty darned good shots.

Annie-Oakley-Routine over, Pseudo-Sister and I cleaned up and got prepped for a good-ole-fashioned Montana Potluck.  We both worked for years at Johnson’s Cafe down in St. Mary, and our boss-lady Kristin always throws a killer birthday party for herself.

Kristin is an amazing woman, and one day I’ll tell ya’ll all about her (although NOT which particular birthday we were celebrating).  So we wandered down hwy 89 and hung out with some old friends, met some new ones, and stuffed ourselves with delicious grub.  Kristin’s father, Lester Johnson, died less than two years ago, so we climbed back in the pickup, put ‘er in 4 wheel drive, and headed up to the Johnson family plot to pay our respects.

Not a bad spot to spend eternity, eh?  As my Uncle Vince would say, what an amazing place to NOT build a house!

After visiting with Lester for a few moments, we took the truck down a muddy, narrow, aspen choked track back up St. Mary Ridge.  It eventually got too nasty, so we jumped out and walked.  Pseudo-Sister and I followed some fresh black bear tracks down to a little beaver pond hidden by willows and cottonwood trees, doused ourselves in deet (didn’t need it for once!), and set up our fishing rods.  We kept our eyes on the water and our ears tuned for any bears crashing through the woods behind us.  We caught a dozen or so fish in a half-hour, and Pseudo-Sister managed to land a nice little cut-bow hybrid (by hooking it through the eyeball, of course).

Arriving back at Hillhouse, we watched a splendid sunset sink north of us into Canada.  There was an incredible straight sheet of cloud hanging behind Chief Mountain, with a gradient of color stretching from a deep heart-of-watermelon red to up to a light pre-ripe cantaloupe orange, like a painter was practicing getting his shades just right before setting to work.  It was still light enough to see when I walked back to the cabin around 11:30pm.  Just another perfect day near Babb.