Misc Musings

Giving Thanks…

“The First Thanksgiving” (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930).


It’s certainly no secret that I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. When you take a moment to ponder all that’s going on in this world, from wars to famine to abuse to desperation to the simple unhappiness that affect so many, I am humbled by the joy, love and fortune that my life holds.

Among all the things I’m grateful for, I’m thankful that I have the empathy to mourn for those who can’t see the blessings in their own lives. And I’m beyond thankful for the heartfelt gratitude I have for those who selflessly give their lives and health so that we Americans can continue to live free.

I’m grateful for the love of my family – we’re the best of friends and love each other unconditionally. I know that’s sadly not the norm, and I recognize how blessed I am for my Dad, my sister, my nephew and the memory of the most incredible Mom a person could have had the fortune to be graced with.

I’m grateful to have my oldest and dearest girlfriend and my God son here with me this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for the past 10 days we’ve spent together, laughing, exploring, talking and having fun. The past few years I’ve spent Thanksgiving alone – and I’m okay with that. But it feels so good to have voices in the house, smiles at the table, and good friends to share the day with and make a homemade meal for.

I’m also thankful for my best friend in the whole world, and her amazing husband. We’ve seen so many adventures together, and supported each other when things weren’t always sunny. I’m grateful for the laughs, the shared memories and the winks and nods that allude to secrets only we know.

I’m over the moon grateful for my friend who is offering me the opportunity to start a new life filled with domesticity and creativity. To free my mind from the stresses of a professional career. To explore making a life and not just a living. To dig my hands in the soil, to spread grain for the chickens, to stack wood for the stove, to look out at an endless landscape in my native Wisconsin.

I’m grateful for the people who bought my car this week. They freed me from the only debt I held, and offered me a loaner car to save me money until I move on January 1.

I’m grateful for the fantastic landlords that I’ve had for the past three and a half years. They let me garden in my yard, they offered a smile and conversation whenever I saw them, they quickly fixed things if they broke, and are overall just wonderful people.  And they share the names of my parents: Bob and Julie. So I know they’re awesome!

I’m grateful for the view out my window every day. Even though I’m leaving Montana, I’ve been blessed with a fantastic life here filled with beauty, adventure, opportunity, and peace. When I needed it most, Montana was here to offer me refuge.

This is such a small list of all the things I have to be grateful for this year. Really, the list is endless, and like the universe, ever expanding.

I am thankful for the ability to look around me and see all of the blessings in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers – may your lives increase in blessings every day. May you put aside the consumerism of the coming season and embrace the simplicity of family, good food and experiences. May you be healthy, safe and happy. May you find much to be thankful for…

Categories: Misc Musings | 4 Comments

Bucket List

Since my life is about to change drastically, I feel like I should make some really big life goals for the future…

Do you have a Bucket List?

Ideally a bucket list is a list of things you’d like to do before you die.  Well, I don’t know when I’m going to die…  So, in no particular order, these are the things that I’d like to do before I hit age 50. That gives me ten years to get ‘er done. Some people have 100 things on their bucket list – some more – I’m not that greedy. Life is an adventure in its own right, so for the time being these are things I’d like to do:

  1. Go to India for at least a month.
  2. Go to the Kumbh Mela.
  3. Build a Vardo.
  4. Build a small house in the woods.
  5. Establish an independent income stream that nets me $50k+ per year without having to go to a traditional job.
  6. Write a book.
  7. Live in Alaska.
  8. Get a tattoo sleeve.
  9. Learn to mush sled dogs.
  10. Hunt caribou.
  11. Go to Paris.
  12. Learn to speak German.
  13. Produce a minimum of 75% of my own food every year.
  14. Learn to spin wool into yarn.
  15. Go on a bicycle tour of French vineyards. (Can you get a BUI? Biking under the influence?)
  16. Spend the Spring Solstice at Stonehenge.
  17. Raise chickens.
  18. Keep bees.
  19. Keep goats.
  20. Learn to make goat cheese from my own goat’s milk.

I think 20 is a good number to start with.  🙂  It’s a good round number. We’ll see about adding to it as time goes.

So what’s on your list? What big goals do you have before you die?

Categories: Misc Musings | 3 Comments

Memories from Alaska

Posted Oct. 9, but written Sept. 14. (better late than never!)

It’s Friday, Sept. 14. I’ve been gone some 17 days now. The past few, however, have found me intolerably impatient. After 12 days in the RV with the girls, I was simply done being around others 24/7. I left them on Monday and had a full day to myself. Tuesday I caught the train to Whittier and waited out my ferry to Bellingham.

Me and Big Bertha at Savage River in Denali NP

I seem to have caught a cold somewhere along the line, and it really hit Wednesday, Thursday and into today. Between being sick, the ferry being delayed, and me having to change my flight for a second time, I became really conscious of how intolerant and impatient I was being. I’m not sure how much it showed outwardly. But I could feel it building like a mini volcano inside of me. Thursday I spent a majority of my day in my state room, sleeping and watching movies on my laptop. Today, although the cold is still hanging on tight, my mood seems a bit better. After the phone call with Alaska Airlines this morning, and my flight finally set to arrive 24 hours after originally planned, I’m finally letting it go. I hate that I let myself get so worked up.  In the grand scheme of things, what seems to set me off is often completely insignificant.

Thankfully, I seem to be over it now. At the height of my impatience, I thought to myself “never would I take this ferry again…”  But today, with a lighter mood, I realize that I probably would. Knowing now what to expect, and allowing that I need to give myself a wider window of time, I think I would enjoy the trip again.  It’s funny how it takes so long to slow yourself down. I chose this route home specifically with the intention of slowing down for a few days. But I just couldn’t do it the first three days on board. My mind kept reeling with this and that, and I felt awful from the cold. And now on the fourth day I’m finally able to settle into the rhythm. I wish I had let myself relax into it earlier in the voyage.

The roll of the waves when they’re simple swells. The jolt when they get bigger and splash over the bow of the ship. Although I’ve never been a lover of the sea, there is something rhythmic, relaxing and nurturing about the rocking motion of the waves.

Sailing through the Inside Passage off British Columbia

Sunshine on the water

I’m back to being obsessed with all things Alaska. While I’m finally letting myself enjoy the experience of the coast of the Great Southeast, it’s really the Interior that gets to me. I absolutely adore the remote Interior of Alaska. One day, I promise myself, I will live there. Even if only for a year. But I will live there. The colors of the fall – coming late in August – are a true tonic for the soul. I could have sat in Denali and let the red absorb into my being for days. I wish I’d had more time there – alone – to soak it in. The red truly ignites something in me. And the yellows take my breath away. It’s hard to think that I’m going home to the tail end of summer – highs still around 80 degrees. For nearly three weeks I’ve been living in fleece and long underwear. A hat and mittens never far from my reach. I’m always ready for the cool time of year – and getting this early taste is really whetting my appetite.

Fall comes early to the Northland

I chose a two-volume set of the journals of Dick Proenneke to accompany me southward, back to civilization. I thought, what better inspiration is there than the words of an icon of remote living. THE icon of wilderness subsistence. After having seen the movies about his life several times, I can almost hear his voice reading the journals to me as I flip page after page. Sometimes I wonder if I could slow my life down enough. If I could release the impatience that sometimes seems to rule my world. I know I could handle the solitude… for better or worse. It’s a lifestyle I’ve been craving for years. And I’m dying to know how I can attain it.

Patrol cabin outside of Savage River in Denali NP

I have the rest of today, and all day tomorrow. We dock in Bellingham on Sunday morning, and I’ll be arriving back in Missoula at 7pm.

The Kennicott

Mt. McKinley, aka: Denali




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Going Home…

I’m going home in a couple of weeks. Three and a half weeks, to be exact.

I’m going home…




And I can’t tell you how good that’s going to feel!


It’s been about 10 years since I’ve been through Eagle River, Wisconsin. My family left the northwoods in 1985 when my DSS and I were teenagers. I think we were both heart broken when we realized that the suburbs of Chicago would really never feel like “home”. I know it was that way for me… I still never feel like anyplace is “home”… no matter how long I live there.

I think the term “home” is used a little too loosely. For me, home is where your earliest memories live. Home is where you can hear the sounds and smell the smells of growing up. Some people spend their youth moving around, following parents in the military, or those who take jobs all over the country or world. Moving every year or two. Never putting down roots. I’ve always felt sorry for them because they can’t think back to one place and equate it with those feelings… of Home.

Eagle River is my Home. All of my memories of youth live there. Climbing trees. Playing in the snow. Watching deer. Walking across the field in the fog. Riding bikes into town in the summer. Friday Fish Fry at the Charlou Supper Club. Fishing in the river. Our cousins Kenny, Kelly and Wayne watching DSS and me while our parents went out to dinner. Going to St. Peter the Fisherman School. Girl Scouts. Camp. Forts. Swimming at Eagle Lake and Silver Lake Beaches. Gardens. Stacking wood for the heat every fall. Watching my Mom can the veggies from the garden. Duke, our old German shepherd, chasing squirrels through the woods. Bond Falls. Picking apples in the upper peninsula. The snowmobile derby. Men in church every Sunday in the fall wearing their camo, with their hunting license numbers displayed on their backs…

After too many years gone, I’m going home.

My Dad moved back to Eagle River this past fall. Believe it or not, he said he got sick of the perfect sunny weather and walking on the beach every day in Florida. So he decided to head home, too. I think given the chance, DSS and I would go back if we could.

DSS and my nephew just got back last night from visiting him. We talked for nearly an hour at lunch today. She was telling me about all the changes, yet how so many things seem exactly the same. I wish we could have been up there at the same time, but my calendar didn’t work out that way. So I’m heading over there in late April for a week. I promise to share pictures and memories from the trip here on the blog. I’m almost afraid to go because I know my heart is going to break when it’s time to leave again. I wish I could make a living there, because I would move back in a heartbeat.

I’m not saying western Montana is a bad place to live.  Trust me, I love waking up and looking out the window to some variation of this every morning:

But Montana’s not Home.

It never will be.

But it’s where I lay my head at night. And since my Dad moved back in November, my nightly dreams are filled with memories of growing up in the place I call Home…

Good old Eagle River, Wisconsin.

Categories: Misc Musings, The Journey | 10 Comments

Juice feast, days 20 & 21!

Howdy folks… Apparently I forgot to post yesterday’s juices. Oops. I guess I’m just forgetful right now.

Let’s start with yesterday, then I’ll explain what’s going on…

Breakfast was the super dark jar. Celery, cucumber, kale, pear, lemon and ginger.

Lunch was my veggie juice that I’ve been drinking lately: celery, cuke, parsley, cilantro, tomato, jalapeno.

Dinner was carrot, orange, fennel, ginger.

Today, so far, I’ve only had one juice:

Lunch: celery, cuke, pear, apple, romaine, lemon and ginger.

So I have a problem. I have a business dinner this coming Tuesday, and I can’t get out of it. Which means that I have to eat. I told my DSS about it, and with her blessing I need to wean myself off the juice and back onto food for a few days.

My plan is to eat only raw food until the dinner, in addition to juice, and seek out one of my favorite restaurants in town for a good dinner salad. Luckily I get to pick the venue because my dinner companion is from out of town. When Wednesday morning rolls around I’ll be back on the juice, adding four additional days to the tail end so I’ll still get 30 days in… Just with a minor break late in the game.

I’m actually pretty bummed out about this because I was doing so well. But, as John Lennon once sang: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

So last night I ate a chopped up tomato to start getting some solid food in my system. Today, on top of the lunch juice, I had an orange and an avocado. I think my stomach had shrunk because I feel like I ate a side of beef! I ate those earlier this afternoon, and I’m still stuffed. Although, I did drink some water with psyllium husks to help boost my digestive process and move things along… Psyllium sort of fills ya up.

I’ve really enjoyed this entire process, and I anticipate periodic fasts in the future. Also incorporating juice in my daily life. Probably for breakfast. The positive affects on my health have been outstanding, and I don’t plan to look back! 🙂

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Juice feast, day 19

On the eve of 2/3’s of the way!

This evening’s a “hungry” evening for me… But I’ll get over it, I suppose. After nearly three weeks, why am I hungry now? I even made a pretty heavy juice for dinner, but I’m still hungry. I think I’m going to make a big mug of peppermint tea. Warm fluids always calm the tummy…

But in the meantime, here’s what I chugged today:



Breakfast and lunch were “fridge clean-out juices” made with kale, celery, cucumber, lemon and ginger. One batch had orange, the other was apple.


Dinner: carrot, beet, apple.

Next up: tea, a book and maybe an early night.  🙂

Onward to day 20!

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Juice feast, day 18

Okay… I didn’t do so good today. I bought more juice than I made. Woke up late, didn’t think I was hungry, so I only made lunch. But it  turns out I was starving, so I had to buy juice at the coffee shop. Plus I have our monthly outdoor writers meet-up tonight, which means I won’t get home until around 9:30… Meaning I couldn’t make my own dinner either. So the long and short of it is that I only made myself one round of juice, and promptly forgot to take a picture of it. Everything else came from a store of one kind or another. Sheesh.

So this is what today looked like:


Odwalla strawberry C monster juice and peppermint tea. Yes, I realize its pasturized, dead juice… But hey, any port in a storm… Better than a cheeseburger, right?

The invisible lunch consisted of apple-carrot-ginger juice.


Dinner: freshly made cucumber, celery, parsley, lemon from my local health food supermarket. So at least that one is up to par with my normal juice… I just didn’t get to make it myself. But I watched it being made… Does that count?

Tomorrow’s another day.  I’ll make sure to make all my own juice AND take pictures of it…  🙂

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Juice feast, day 17

Okay… Minor fail. I forgot to take a picture of my lunch juice today. But its one you’ve seen before… Carrot, apple, fennel and lime. And as always, it was delicious.  🙂

I actually didn’t have a breakfast juice this morning. I wasn’t hungry, so I decided to see what would happen if I skipped it and just drank water until lunch time.  Wanna know something? I neither starved, nor died! Woot! We’ll see how I feel in the morning. Might do it again! We have our bi-weekly staff meeting in the morning at a local coffee shop, so I’ll just get some peppermint tea there and go till lunch again… That is, unless I’m starving out of my mind by 7 am.


For dinner I pulled out a combo of cucumber, celery, apple, kale and ginger. Like heaven in a glass!

Every day that goes by, I’m more and more astonished. Completely amazed at myself and my DSS for hanging strong for this long.

Oh, and the good nightly sleep continues as well! Sometimes I wake up, but instead of lying awake for hours on end, I’m back asleep before I know it… And all that without the cortisol manager! I’m so grateful. I hope it continues post feast when I take on the raw food diet.

Life is a never ending experiment.

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Juice feast, day 16

Just sat down for dinner, and realized the jalapeno I put in my juice is a spicy one! Good thing I really like “spicy”.

Here’s what I’m drinking today:


Breakfast was celery, cuke and pear…


Lunch: beet, carrot, pear.


Dinner: celery, cuke, parsley, cilantro, tomato and the super spicy jalapeno. I really like this juice. Savory and spicy.

Onward to week three!

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Juice feast, day 15

Well folks, we’re sitting on top of  the pass and it’s all down hill from here. 15 days down, 15 to go…


Breakfast: pear, cucumber and celery.


Lunch: carrot, fennel, apple and lime.


Dinner: tomato, jalapeno, parsley, cilantro, celery and cucumber.

It’s been an adventure… Let’s see what the next 15 days bring, shall we?

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