Category Archives: Teton Valley

We Moved: The Launch

It was hard for us to say good-bye.

We Moved-2
She seemed to feel the same way. Teton Valley was consistent in that regard: visually speaking, her hellos and goodbyes and the moments in between seem to happen with a fair bit of drama.

We Moved-1
This is where our hearts have lived for five years, and where we hung our hats full-time for the past three.

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It’s where Winston grew up (and up, and up) and where he discovered the love of his life. (Hint: it’s snow.)

We Moved-4It’s entirely fitting that this is the last “Quick! [easyazon_link asin=”B001ENOZY4″ locale=”US” new_window=”yes” nofollow=”default” tag=”rickandkathy-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”no”]Get the D-90![/easyazon_link]” photo I took in our cherished farmhouse.

It’s by NO means the best photo we took in that magical space over the years, but it captures perfectly the delight we took there in the beauty of a million small opportunities, often in the kitchen, to slow down the ordinary until the moment became extraordinary.

Extraordinary breakfast potatoes.

In addition to “great friends and neighbors,” “jaw-dropping scenery in every season out of every window,” and “a place of deep, creative, peace,” it’s as good a summing up of our life there as anything else.

We Moved-5
But there are seasons for all things, and at the end of April, it was time to pack up as much of our kitchen gear, art supplies, dog paraphernalia, etc. as would fit into a 26-foot Uhaul and head north to Vancouver Island, Canada to some new adventures.

It was a big (and by “big” I mean huge, complicated, and exhausting) job, but thank God I had at least made an early start on packing away a few memories in this blog over the past five years.

We Moved-7
Do you have your exit buddy?

Yes, yes we do.

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Have you taken all the necessary safety-precautions before launching?

Well, no… A life worth living inevitably comes with some risk, otherwise it wouldn’t be an adventure, would it?

We Moved-8
Are you consistent, in that the first photo you took after having crossed the border into your new home and native land was also, coincidentally, of potatoes? (Poutine purchased aboard The Queen of Alberni, to be precise.)

Yes, yes we are consistent.

We have the most important constant in our lives firmly in place: each other.

We have Winston. (No choice there: he glued his butt to Rick’s left knee (see above) sometime around mid-April and stayed there until he was sure he was coming with.)

Cherished friends and family are all still just a text/phone call/email away, and now a good chunk of you are also within a ten-minute’s drive radius.

We have already had more delightful new adventures and taken more photos in and around our new home than I will ever catch up on, and I commit to remain consistent in my good intentions to post more regularly. (Ha! That should be an easy piece of cake.)

New Year Frostbow

What would January in Teton Valley be without me yelling, “Quick! Where’s the camera?!” and dashing off into the fresh snow in my slippers with no coat on?

Drop-dead gorgeous soft rime frost will do that to a person, and given the warm creek that flows year-round through our property, frost and a sock-free dash or two into below freezing temperatures, camera in hand, are somewhat predictable.

New Year Frostbow-1I did not see this coming, though.

New Year Frostbow-2This was not a rainbow. As far as I can tell, it was either:
a) magic
b) a sign from God that 2014 is going to be an amazing year
c) a frostbow, or
d) all of the above.

New Year Frostbow-3It was shimmering in a straight vertical shaft in the field directly to the south of us, bathing everything in its path with a surreal, other-worldly hue that insisted on the beauty and life in all things.

New Year Frostbow-4If you want to get technical, it was caused by the setting sun filtered through a fine dusting of frost particles drifting in ahead of the snow clouds advancing from the south.

New Year Frostbow-6I prefer to think that we live in a magical snow globe of wonder and grace.

New Year Frostbow-5Rick got outside quickly in his big snow boots and coat and took over camera fun from deeper snow vantage points while I dashed back inside to snag another layer.

I didn’t dilly-dally over footwear, though.

New Year Frostbow-7
May 2014 be a year of profound joy, peace, and presence for us all.


Accessorize Or Go Home

Lily, the Head Beautician on the mobile beauty circuit, likes to make An Entry on her Saturday afternoon rounds.

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What’s the beauty business without a little sizzle, a chauffeur (Steve), and a red carpet bucket of oats?

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To these Black Clydesdales, the throttle of Steve’s ATV is like the bells of the Good Humour man to a sugar-starved six-year old.

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They want It.

They want the new beauty “It,” and they want it bad.

They may not be entirely sure what “It” is, but whatever It is, Lily always has It, and she rounds ’em up and heads ’em in towards It.

Accessorize Or Go Home-3
(Scoop!) Lily has recently declared that Everyone who is Anyone is all about accessorized bangs.

Accessorize Or Go Home-5“Don’t mention this,” the big one with the white face confided later, “but I like how Lily’s new Stickerettes keep my hair out of my eyes: it allows my admirers to soak in the beauty of my enhanced eyelashes. They’re natural, you know. Last season, Lily was all about enhanced natural beauty, but now it’s Stickerettes, 24/7.  That’s the fickle nature of the beauty business, I suppose. Hems go up, hems go down, hems go out and shake it all around.”

(Black Clydesdales are very poetic.)

Accessorize Or Go Home-6
“Excuse me. Just a moment here. Are you a reporter? May I have a word with the reporter, ALONE, please?”

“This whole Stickerettes business was so NOT Lily’s idea. I spend one week in a Jamaican all-inclusive, come home all tall and tanned and big and lovely with one simple string of sticker beads in my mane as a memento of my trip, and the whole stinkin’ Valley goes Lady GaGa over hair accessories!”

Accessorize Or Go Home-7
“Look. I still have the trend-starting evidence.

Sheesh. Lily is such an opportunistic idea thief. Of course, anyone who can afford a chauffeur is naturally all over The Big Business Plan that venture capitalists just jump on.


Accessorize Or Go Home-8
“Hey! What you fail to appreciate, girlfriend, is the whole dreadlock/country shabby chic spin on the trend that Lily brought to the scene.

Come on… give creative credit where creative credit is due.”

Accessorize Or Go Home-9
“Did I get them in right? I can never make my hair look the way it does at the salon.”

Accessorize Or Go Home-10

Bless their hearts.

They’re such simple, simple things, artistically speaking.”

Accessorize Or Go Home-11
“Still… they aren’t shy about buying a little something for themselves now and then.

Bless their hearts.

Did I mention I have a chauffeur?”

Accessorize Or Go Home-12
“Cough, cough.”

Accessorize Or Go Home-13
“Pssst. Yes. Over here.”

See my status-busting set of bang sticker beads? Wanna know a secret?

Accessorize Or Go Home-16Lily doesn’t have the sticker bead market cornered. I have my very own manufacturing plant that I’ve been fertilizing for months now, ever since Sistah Rastah came back from her vacation with her Big Bang fashion news.

I even have my own clientele I’m grooming in the fashion bidness.

That noisy punk across the street with the poodle perm? He’s already a complete sticker bead junky. He refuses to be seen in public without at least some sticker junk in his trunk.

Accessorize Or Go Home-14
Ha! I’m a cross-species biz whiz. Lily’s gonna get her knickers in a twist when she realizes I’ve poodle punked her.

Accessorize Or Go Home-15
Ha! Get it? Poodle punked?

I crack myself up. I really do.

How To Prime A Cornhole Board

1. Begin with the end in mind.


Cornhole (and this link is worth reading for the glossary alone!) is a really fun game that is equally well suited to a wild and wooly family reunion by the lake as it is to a friendly four-person round at cocktail hour. ([easyazon-link asin=”B007B8ED3Y” locale=”us”]In case you don’t want to build your own, this one has great reviews on Amazon.[/easyazon-link]) Everyone from two to ninety-two can play.

This is important to remember, because by the time you’ve primed the fourth board and then are told: “Whoopsie! We primed the wrong side of the first board and now have to do that one over again,”  you’ll need to have a firm grip on why this was a good idea in the first place.

It’s because cornhole is a lot of fun, and people will enjoy the labor of your efforts, possibly for generations, as long as no portly drunk uncle sits on the board at a family reunion or something.


2. Do your priming at the height of a spectacular Teton Valley fall afternoon with a built-in painting expert in residence.

It also helps if he’s your best friend, an artist, an ex-house painter, and handy with a belt sander.


3. If you’re a newbie to the painting world, prepare yourself to be tutored.

There are things you’ll need to know about covering a piece of plywood with white paint that you didn’t know you needed to know, but now do.


These gems of wisdom don’t come in a well-formatted handout at the beginning of the afternoon.  They sort of meander forth in dribs and drabs as the project progresses. But who’s in a hurry?!

Look around you at the amazing scenery, take a deep breath, really hear the rustle of the autumn leaves in the cottonwoods and aspens by the creek, and just chill yer irritated hormonal self.

This is another reason why it helps to have a built-in painting expert who also happens to be your best friend: he knows what he’s talking about–even if he only thinks to tell you after you’ve already done it the wrong way–he means only the best, and he loves you.


4. Only dip the paint brush an inch (give or take) into the bucket per reload. The closer the paint gets to the point where the bristles meet the frame (the ferrule), the harder it is to clean. And paint seeps north, my friend.

5. Check for drips as you go.

6. Wipe (aka, swipe vigorously with work gloves on) the surface to get rid of any dust or debris just before priming. Otherwise, you’ll seal all that schmeebage right into the primer.

Ignoring this actually works well for “artistes”: “Oh, look! There are the horse hairs from when He was a poor, undervalued plein air artist working out of his horse trailer!”

Not so good, however, for cornhole craftspeople dealing with pine needles and dead wasps mysteriously adhered to the raw plywood.

7. Put the paint bucket on a short ladder so you’re not having to stoop over every time you reload the brush: saves the back.


8. Brush with the grain (although everybody already knows that, Walt).

9. If you happen to disappear for 11 minutes to whip together some grilled cheese sandwiches, sliced apples, and beer for lunch, DON’T LEAVE YOUR BRUSH EXPOSED TO THE SUN AND AIR!

Apparently, it will dry out and be IMPOSSIBLE to clean and will need to be THROWN OUT!! (Wrap it in plastic wrap. In fact, have a large piece of the wrap of your choice handy right from the beginning of the project. You might not end up needing it, but it calms the nervous types on the job site.)

10. Two thinner coats are better than one thick one. (This tidbit showed up a full 24 hours after I had cleaned the brush, which just goes to show that this is one robust field of expertise.)


11. And this is my very own well-tested theory, put to use in the field with occasional wind-gusts, which only turbo-charges the proof-worthiness of it:

Wear good jeans, your favorite fleece, and current “best” trail shoes while you’re painting. It will completely change the way you look at “cleanliness on the job.”

In other words, if you can’t afford to make a mess, you just have to get through the project spot-free.



[easyazon-block align=”center” asin=”B007B8ED3Y” locale=”us”]


How To Make Hand Warmers

This Saturday was the 2nd annual Teton Valley Great Snow Fest. This is predominantly a spectator event featuring that cherished winter pastime, the ultimate in chilly fun amongst steaming horse buns, skijoring.

Last year, while my soul was cheered by the thundering hooves, the Olympian focus of the skiers, and the tribal whoops of the enthusiastic crowd, my fingers and toes ’bout froze to death.

I hate having cold hands. It makes me cranky.

hand warmers-1

But I also hate feeling like a landfill-oblivious citified wussy who cracks open a pair of disposable hand heaters the moment my mittened digits cross the threshold from December to March.

Don’t get me wrong: products like the [easyazon-link asin=”B002O14BI0″ locale=”us”]Heat Factory hand and body warmers[/easyazon-link] are great if you need some extended-play external reinforcement for a blood flow that just isn’t up to the job. In fact, there are apparently even commercially available [easyazon-link asin=”B00A6O0QB8″ locale=”us”]reusable versions[/easyazon-link] that would at least alleviate the landfill guilt, but I only found out about those in the last five minutes, not two weeks ago when I made my own.

I think I’ll call them “Sarah’s Mitten Steamer Buns,” in honor of a temporarily wounded ski-warrier friend who reminded me that warm rice in a sock makes a great impromptu heat pack.

That, plus the photo above is the only one taken for this post that didn’t pose an eerie resemblance to a neat offering of steaming horse pucky. This would not be an issue, I imagine, if you chose a different color sock.

Visual aesthetics aside, if you put them into the microwave on high for about 30 seconds each, and then place each HOT lump into your mitten or gloves, they’ll steam like specialty spa treats for the duration of a 45-minute walk and keep your fingies all warm and happy and smelling like lovely toasted brown rice, unless you want to mix a tablespoon of dried lavender into the rice and massage a generous dollop of good moisturizing cream into your hands before heading out, in which case your hands will emerge like you’ve just spent $30 on a high-end manicure.

Here’s how:

Take a pair of clean “thicker” hose (I used old “trouser sock” knee-high thingies that will never grace these liberated calves and tootsies again) and cut into 7-inch tubes.

(Note to anyone not familiar with the term “knee-highs”: it’s important to use a fabric half-way between [easyazon-link asin=”B003CMYT8W” locale=”us”]Carhartt men’s extremes cold weather boot socks[/easyazon-link] and a woman’s 10 denier * [easyazon-link asin=”B008GPUNTE” locale=”us”]summer pantyhose[/easyazon-link]. Something thick enough not to succumb in total lameness to the pressure of a grain of rice , yet thin enough to permit a decently small knot diameter.

Tie a knot in one end as close to the end of the fabric as you can, making sure that it is a completely sealed egress for wayward grains bent on going AWOL.

Cut off any excess fabric from the end of the knot.

Put 1/4 c. of brown rice into the sealed end of the tube, adding the lavender mentioned above if you care about such things.

Tie a knot in the other end.

Congratulate yourself on being so handy, toss your new wee homemade reusable hand warmers into the microwave for 30 seconds each, pop them into your mittens, moisturize, and then get out and enjoy the snow!


* According to Wikipedia: “Denier (pron.: /ˈdɛnjər/) or den is a unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibers. It is defined as the mass in grams per 9,000 meters. The denier is based on a natural standard—i.e., a single strand of silk is approximately one denier. A 9,000-meter strand of silk weighs about one gram.” And now you know why 10 denier pantyhose run merely by rubbing up against legs sporting a two-day old shave.

The Great Horned Owl Next Door

Steve and Lisa call him “Dumptruck,” due to the prodigious loads of waste he crafts from various bits of local mice, rabbits, other birds and, sometimes, even skunks. He then personally transports said waste to the floor of the open roofed shed where they store their trash cans.

Great Horned Owl

Dumptruck is a huge great horned owl.

He’s an altogether impressive and fierce transporter of monster owl poopage, sitting at close to two feet tall with a wingspan of almost five feet.

According to the evidence, Dumptruck most be a fierce and successful hunter with a mighty appetite. We’re keeping a close eye on Winston.

Great Horned Owl

We are delighted to have made his acquaintance, glorious slayer of skunks that he is, although he did scare the schmidt out of Rick who was loading some trash into a can the first time Dumptruck emerged from the shadows of the shed and soared three feet over his head. Rick doesn’t startle easily, but… I heard the yelp from next door.

Sometimes the distance made possible by a good pair of binoculars is better. We’ve been known to extend a lunch hour or two hanging out on our north porch watching the red tail hawks hunting with our cheapo little [easyazon-link asin=”B000051ZOA” locale=”us”]Bushnell “Falcon” binoculars[/easyazon-link]. (Really… that’s what they’re called, but they work just fine for hawks. And the night sky. And owls.)

Great Horned Owl in Flight

It’s really something to watch Dumptruck enter his final landing approach.

Great Horned Owl

Rotate flaps…

Great Horned Owl

… engage landing gear…

Great Horned Owl

… touchdown!

Great Horned Owl

Steve and Lisa inform us that Dumptruck has a lady friend, one “Mrs. Jones.”
They are building a nest for the couple, since apparently great horned owls don’t build their own: they only steal them.

It’s more fun that way.

Great Horned Owl

Oh, don’t be shy, Dumpie… Even the bees do it, I’m told, although I’m not sure that’s technically accurate.

I just researched this. Bees do actually do it, although the nitty-gritty specifics are still a bit hazy for me. It’s probably best that way.

I love how writing this blog keeps me on my scientific toes.

Great Horned Owl

I keep waiting for Dumptruck to bring me a letter.

Great Horned Owl

Seriously? Do I look like a friggin’ mail man to you?
I am Bubo Virginianus, and don’t you forget it!


Yes, sir.

iSnapped While Walking

I’m going to love writing this series this week: it will give me a chance to iVerb all sorts of innocent byspokens in punny and personally amusing ways.

The irony of today’s title is that I rarely snap while we’re walking. Rather, I almost always find myself more calm and grounded than when I laced up the trail shoes the hour earlier. I prefer to reserve my annual snapping quota for use during customer support calls with online banking institutions when I can’t remember the postal code for a Canadian address from 14 years ago.

But I digress. This post is about shooting this photo with my iPhone while out for a walk, and how we’re going to fund our retirement by monetizing this blog.*


One of the highlights of our days is our favorite 2.5 mile walking route that’s about a five-minute drive from our place, or if the spirit, flesh, and dog are all willing, about a 45-minute hike from our house to the starting spot.

I’ve taken a Big Camera along this route many times when I’m in the mood for an “art walk,” but those experiences tend to be a pain in the patoot for anyone accompanying me who thinks that “going for a walk” means actually walking, rather than pausing to adjust for light and depth of focus every three strides. I generally leave the Nikon at home.

However, since getting seriously high-centered stuck in a fresh snow fall just over this hill last winter (“No problem, Rick! It doesn’t look that deep. Go for it!”) and having only one cell phone with 6% battery life on hand, we now both take our charged phones with us, and Rick draws his own conclusions regarding road conditions.

BTW, the most painful part was when Mike, the ungloved and bare-headed tow-truck driver with his plaid flannel shirt unbuttoned and flapping in the wind over his t-shirt, finally backed in the mile it took to reach us and hollered, “What the HELL are you doing out here? Everyone knows this road hasn’t been winter-maintained for 30 years!” He then paused, absorbing the scene of our California-plated Honda Pilot, Rick and I in our multiple layers of down-filled everything working with one small plastic shovel to dig the snow out from under the car, and a highly agitated but well-groomed 75-pound poodle puppy sporting a bright red fleece-lined vest, and concluded somberly, “You’re not from around here, huh?”

Anyhoo, that’s why my phone’s camera was available to catch the neon green offering on this overcast spring day: Car + Teton Valley Back Roads = Cell Phone

*I’ve decided to postpone disclosing our plans for raking in untold millions of dollars from this blog until tomorrow (clue: notice the copyright on the photo?) because I’m freakin’ cold in my upstairs office right now and need to go downstairs and inquire politely of Rick when he might be thinking of starting that fire in the wood stove, please?

Come back tomorrow when I’m warmer, ‘kay?

oxox k