Category Archives: Montana

Photo Hunt: Nautical

The top two were taken by my hubs on a Summer Scout Camp last summer.  I miss the sun!  The bottom two were taken in Scotland: The one huge grey rain cloud in the sky was probably a dead giveaway . . .



A Lifetime in 6 Months

It’s amazing to me how much has transpired since Cameron turned one year old in January. I was physically exhausted after writing this letter to him. I’d found out the condition of my Gran had worsened and posted this – another drainer.

We made the decision to go to Scotland together as a family to see her in March, she passed while we were there and then I wrote this and this.

You’d never know I generally seep in sarcasm after reading those. Everybody takes you seriously when you have a lilting accent, though. Something about not hearing the different sarcastic inflection. Kiss my kilt. It’s draining the sarcastic life out of me.

So, I decided since Cameron was turning 18 months old today, I was going to capture some shots of him and Ian together. It turned out well. As well as a mother could hope. Now I know why they say never to work with children or animals. Or animal children. (Click on any of the images to enlarge.)

I get them in position, and then they spot a farmer on his humongous tractor 16 miles away. OK, it was about half an acre behind our place, but still…

I birth a brain child and heave their bench from the porch onto the lawn. Too bad they’re too busy TALKING to pay attention to me. Their mother.

Almost a shot. Too bad they’re both looking the wrong way. What’s over there, you say? Nothing. A rogue twig, probably.

Ian tries to steal a kiss, holding on to Cameron with the double hand death grip.

An escapee chases a bloody butterfly. However, I am still oozing the patience of a saint.

I manage to get Ian back on the bench, doing some sort of Playgirl move. Too bad his shoes are on backwards…

Yes, he’s a freakin comedian. I’m laughing too. Can you hear me? CAN YOU HEAR ME??!!

I fake sneeze to get Cameron to laugh. It backfired when Ian started doing it too.

Granted, they’re still sitting together, but then Ian starts body slamming him because I kept telling him to move back beside Cameron. Cameron then curses at him in his own language. Ian looks on, obviously indifferent to the insults being fired at him.

I give up. This one’ll do.

I took this the night before. His first shot on a swing.

I get no respect. Check out his new growler face.

I get Ian in a prime spot and have him wait for Cameron. He was a no-show.

I’ll leave it to the professionals next time, they get paid to be miserable. In the meantime, I have some SERIOUS blackmail fodder for when they’re both teenagers. This is me with baited breath.

HF: Backwards Much?

Haiku FridayMontana = beauty
Clean, serene, charming, peaceful
Outdoorsy heaven

If you’ve e’er wondered
Why I talk smack about ‘Tana
Here’s a good reason:

UK readers: Radio Shack is the same company as Tandy.

He Married a Bloody Genius! (Modest Too.)

Well my friends, my suspicions have been confirmed: I’m a frickin’ creative genius! We just found out Bryan won the iPod Touch from the competition in April. Between the both of us, we rarely win anything, so as you can imagine, having just found out outside while Bryan was sitting on the lawn tractor talking to a colleague at work on the phone, I leapt in the air, punching it with both hands. (How’s that for a hyper-excited run-on sentence?)

The winning name? Big Sky Cafe. Doesn’t sound too creative does it? That is, unless you know where Bryan works. The company name is in there. I know, I’m that good.

I think I should at least get visiting rights.

He also wins 10 free meals, but…pfff…who cares about that?

Photo Hunt: Bad Hair

I’ve never participated in Photo Hunt before, but thought I’d take a squizz (a wee look, in case there was any doubt!) at the theme for this week. I had to. I just had to.

Personally, I think the Lab safety specs really complete the look.

HF: Montana-stachey-views

Montana has it —
Purple mountains majesty
They say “God’s Country”

The majestic mountains woo me, I luv the scenery outside my front door.

Ian is on the left

Live here long enough
And you’ll look like the locals
Well, if you’re a man

Here’s Bryan’s theory
Only cops and firemen
Wear this kind of ‘stache

Haiku Friday

You’ll be happy to know all these, bar the first one, are my shots.

…And This is Why the Amish Laugh at Us

I crafted part of a post yesterday, went out and visited a friend for a while, came home, relaxed and watched some of my favourite BBC America early afternoon shows with Ian. We weren’t even part-way through the last one when Bzzz-pop! EVERYthing went off. I sat for a moment, thinking it would come back just like it did the other day — nothing. It wasn’t even raining outside, so what was going on?

We went to the window not really expecting to see anything, and saw this:

Downed power lines: The only exciting thing around here for years. (Can you spot the cop?)

“Well, I’ll vacuum the floor, there’s nothing better to — crap!”

“I’ll put a wash on…” sigh

“Maybe I’ll get onlin…”

After about 20 minutes of nothing, the road was blocked off and the power company finally showed up to start the work. It went on. And on. And on.

Three hours later, I actually had a rational thought: I’ll start dinner, it’s a gas cooker/stove. Yeah, it is, but I planned on making a new dish last night, one that I know the boys will love AND EAT, and guess where the Chicken Crescent Roll recipe was? Online at recipezaar. So much for that craving.

The closer it got to 6 o’clock the more I worried about how I could get a message to Bryan. You see, I think I am the last of a dying breed that doesn’t, and never has, owned a mobile/cell phone. Even my own Mum has one. I’ve never really had a need for one – well, maybe with the exception of that one time the creepy guy from work followed me home (on foot) and I had to call the Fuzz, but that’s another story – and just never got one. Bryan has one and that’s good enough for me.

At least for now.

He managed to talk to the cop parked at the bottom of the street into letting him gain access to our road (it’s a dead end) and came home. Seeing as there wasn’t much else he could do, he got on the lawn tractor and mowed the lawn for an hour-and-a-half, then started up the barbecue while I made potatoes and green beans with the water we had. (We live in an un-incorporated “town” and have a underground water well. A well powered by e-l-e-c-t-r-i-c-i-t-y. If we drain the reserve, we can’t bathe, shower or even pee and flush. It’s fantastic.)

As the night drew on and the workers’ crane travelled up and down replacing the poles and cables the passing logging truck had pulverised, we put the boys to bed dirty (they’d been in the sandbox earlier), and in total darkness.

And twiddled our thumbs.

As we sat sharing the earplugs to Bryan’s iPod, I couldn’t help but think about how the Amish would laugh at us Englishmen, wallowing in our own self pity we’d created. With only a camping lantern as a distraction, and a box of matches as our passport to gastronomical modernisation, they’d guffaw at how our life had come to a screeching, kidless halt at just 9 p.m. It was then I realised we were lacking in the two person entertainment department: No UNO cards – not even a full deck of face cards, and no Twister Wheel of Fortune to beat the pants off of Bryan with.

Maybe I should’ve just gone and cried myself to sleep with my two faceless Amish dolls.

Around 02:15, I woke with a jump and had this eerie feeling someone was in the house. My eyes flicked open wide. Would you Adam & Eve it?* The power was back on. A whopping eleven hours later, some sort of normalcy had returned.

It really is amazing how we can all become a slave to electricity; and it’s not until we lose it, that we realise how much we depend on it.

Electricity is my Crack.  There, I’ve said it.

*Cockney slang: believe it.

More Answers to the Burning Questions

I’m actually still thinking about some of the questions I’ve already answered, it’s amazing what else I’ve thought about since being asked. Here are some additional points.

Some other things that surprised me about the US:
Debit cards. Back in the UK, I was so used to having people at the till hold on to my card until after I had signed the receipt. They’d take it and compare both, boring holes in both with their laser beam eyes until they were satisfied it really was me. It’s nice that it’s quicker here, but disconcerting if anyone ever stole my cards. It would take much longer to sort out the mess.

The amount of different drive-thru facilities. I had never been to a drive-thru bank until stepping on to American soil. They built some in recent years though.

An American saying:
99% of the saying are the same, including ‘raining cats and dogs’, but there was one saying that totally caught me off guard and took a while to understand: Smacking someone upside the head. I just didn’t get it. What direction was upside? we’d say ‘on the side of.’

1. LceeL asked:
Although I know that Scotland is wetter, do you find similarities between the Highlands and Montana?
The air actually smells the same as it does in Scotland, and that’s kinda cool. As for where I lived, it was in a much more built-up area with a lot of housing and buildings (The Lowlands). My older brother actually lives on the Isle of Skye in the Highlands which is part of the Hebrides (heh-breh-dees). It’s really similar, I think.

2. Jameil asked:
Are you a U.S. citizen?
No, I am a Permanent Resident, or legal alien (ha!) which means I hold a Green Card. It’s a 10-year Green Card that expires when I turn 40 (the fee to renew is $290). It took a lot of time and money to get to this point: around $3000 I think. I stopped counting. Before we were married, I was on a visitors’ visa for a year (two separate fees). When I was making preparations for our wedding, we were also filing some paperwork too, so we hired a paralegal rather than a lawyer to save stress and money, even then, she charged us $800.

After we were married, I was issued a work permit and a social security number. The work permit was only good for a year, then I had to apply for a (conditional, due to 9/11 changes) Green Card. I also had my fingerprints taken. After two years, I then had to apply for the conditions to be removed and have my fingerprints retaken (all at my expense). After almost 4 years of marriage, I got my real Green Card. I could have applied for citizenship after two years but didn’t. I picked up the paperwork for citizenship the last time I was in a USCIS office over three years ago, but never applied. It cost over $400 then to apply. It has been something I have thought about a lot, I had decided against it as I felt like I would be abandoning my family by doing so (even though I can retain my British citizenship), so I’ve never been serious about it. I actually thought about going through with it last year, but as I was about to start the process, they increased the filing fees to $595. I can’t justify or afford that now.

3. If so, when did you gain citizenship and how?
After you file and pay the fee, you are interviewed and go through a series of questions to determine how much you know about US history and government. It is not multiple answer – argh! They also determine how well you can speak and read English. After that, you have to go to a court house and get sworn in by a judge on an alloted day.

4. How do you feel about the immigration debate?
As you can imagine, I have very strong feelings on this subject. I am flabbergasted by the amount of illegal immigrants who are gainfully employed (under the table) when so many others do it the legal way and feel almost punished for doing so. The process is not easy, and definitely not cheap, but it doesn’t make it right to come here essentially breaking the law and expect to stay because of longevity or family ties. I wish there was an easy remedy to the situation, but amnesty is definitely not the answer. It makes a mockery of those who have done so properly and through the right channels.

When I first arrived in California, no one would hire me because I didn’t possess a social security card, yet there were many around me who were being paid (tax-free too) by unethical companies. It’s a touchy but important subject for me.

5. Can you vote? Do you want to?
The only right I am not entitled to as a Permanent Resident is the right to vote. After being here through two other general elections, this is the first one where I would actually like the right to vote. It’s sad that more people don’t. I took the online survey to match me with a candidate. I answered as honestly as I could, and was matched 86% with Mitt Romney. Ironically, I liked his stand on immigration the most.

6. Who do you like in the current election?
I may step on some toes, but I can’t vote, right?

Hillary Clinton, I feel, has already been the President, because we all know who wears the pants in that family.

Barack Obama: Great public speaker, visionary and motivator. I haven’t really followed his policies enough to make an informed opinion though.

Ralph Nader: Was he in a coma or something? What a numpty.

John McCain: He just seems too old to me. Plus, I have watched quite a few pieces on him which have highlighted him flip-flopping, specifically within 8 minutes of saying something else. I don’t know if I trust him.

Mike Huckabee: His last name–it’s not very presidential, is it? When he talks I see Jimmy Stewart and can’t get past that.

7. Do you want more children?
Yes. When I was 21, I wanted four kids. I didn’t get married until I was 26-and-a-half and it took 2 years to conceive Ian, so I feel like I am really behind schedule, so-to-speak. When I was in labour with Cameron, I waited until I was dilated to a 7 till I asked for the epidural (don’t ask me why, I have no idea), thanks to that, it didn’t work properly and numbed my left leg only. I felt e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g and had chills thinking about it for the preceding eight months. It still gives me the heebies.

8. Did you think online dating was bizarre before you did it?
Yes, I thought it was kinda crazy. Thankfully, it was a little safer when I did it eight years ago, and I made sure I talked to his mother and sisters and brother before we ever met. What’s weird is, about five years ago, Bryan and I both filled out the personality profile on eHarmony for a joke and it didn’t match us. It essentially rejected me. It got my personally about 90% right though.

9. Do you want your kids to grow up in Scotland or do you want to live here forever? Will you move back one day?
That’s kinda of a difficult question to answer because I don’t do well with things unless I have some sort of deadline or goal to reach. The thought of dying and being buried here is so foreign to me. I am dreading the day I am in the States longer than I was in Scotland (25 years). I don’t know what will happen, but I don’t see them growing up in the UK though. I wish I could have the best of both worlds. I specifically feel bad for my Mum, her other grandkids are 4 hours away too. I think she should move to the Isle of Skye when my Gran passes.

10. Maria asked:
If you could have any eye or hair color, what would you have?
I kinda like having brown hair and blue eyes because it’s different here (but so common in the UK), but if I could choose, I’d have black hair and green eyes.

I’ll answer more questions Thursday!

Thirteen Things That Tick Me Off About Montana

Not to be confused with last week’s post.

1. It’s bloody cold here in the winter. Friends pre-warned me of the Arctic temperatures that last for two weeks in January last year. I laughed. I’m not laughing now. I’m freezing my freakin’ she-nuts off.

2. Lack of Technology: Just as one example, Bryan walked into a print shop two days ago with a disc in-hand full of documents he wanted printed and spiral bound into fifteen booklets. They wanted/needed the paper copies. “Well, I have my laptop with me–” he offered. “I’ll print it off on mine”, the owner growled, snatching the disc. “He probably won’t charge you for the copies…” said the lady. He came out, 30 pages later (for one booklet) and said, “that’ll be $0.20 a copy.” “Fine.”

3. Mullets: Now, I’m no expert, but hair doesn’t grow that way naturally. I think there needs to be an amendment in the Constitution that bans them. There are five people in my congregation at church with a mullet. And. They’re. Women. One of them has a natural wave/perm too.

4. This one’s for Bryan. He calls them Horse Women. He knows one personally. They don’t have enough food to feed themselves and can barely make their mortgage payment, but they board, tend and take care of their horse–all for a hefty $1500/month price tag.

5. Commuting to Missoula. I’m totally used to it now, but sometimes it’s such a task. We have to pack provisions just to go shopping at the stores “in the big city”. We moved from a prime shopping area where Target, Michael’s, Toys R Us, Barnes & Noble, Old Navy, Pier 1 and restaurants galore graced our lives just a sweet 5-minute drive away. Now it’s all 45 miles from us.

6. That said, there are local stores, but if you stay, you pay. Usually. Sometimes they have amazing sales, but you can generally pay anywhere between $0.50-$1.50 more for any item. They encourage locals to shop local on adverts on t.v.–I will if I’m desperate. We bought frosting one time at Super 1, it expired 4 months previous. We have one Big Box store: K-Mart. Why does every K-Mart smell like an animal up and died in the premises? Sick. And other thing! You would think living in the midst of a meat and dairy euphoria that it would be reflected in the prices. No. I’d rather pump petrol and drink it, it’s cheaper than the milk here.

But I suppose that’s nothing compared to the housing market. Thankfully we made a 20% profit on our last out-of-state home. We paid almost $100,000 more here for a smaller home. Thanks to the influx of Californians (well, that’s who they’re blaming) over the past 5 years, the housing prices have shot through the roof. It’s pure nasty.

7. Road conditions. Thanks to the washboard Interstate road all the way to Missoula for my pre-natal doctor’s appointments, I enjoyed 50 minutes of contractions every trip, there and back. During nasty winter conditions, local roads and pavements (sidewalks) are covered in sand, not salt. It’s disgusting after the snow melts.

8. There was a time in Montana history not too long ago when you could drive any speed you cared to. Those days are well gone. I can’t help but wonder who posts the speed limit signs here. Obviously someone with a good sense of humour. The back country 2-lane – sometimes windy – highway speed is 65 mph. It changes to 35 mph with no warning and no gradual decline. What’s up with that?

9. I’d love to have a bike. I’d love to go rollerblading. I’d love to walk more places when the weather is nicer. I can’t, there’s a drastic shortage of pavements. That ticks me off.

10. You’re sick. Well, I mean hypothetically, not in the head. So you head to the local pharmacy in Albertson’s. “We don’t have that in stock, can you come back in 2 days?” No further comment.

11. I could have lumped this with No. 6, but quite frankly, this deserves a room all by itself. Okay, so I admit this should be something I am used to from the UK, but I’ve been here for eight years and I was converted pretty early on. I can’t stand it that businesses close and 5 and 5:30 p.m. Bryan gets off shift at 6 p.m. and sometimes needs things at the last minute. Tough luck, Jimmy. We’re closed.

12. Amenities, or lack there of. No zoo (it’s in Bozeman), museums, bowling alleys, kid-friendly pools, etc. We have an indoor pool 6 miles away, but they cater specifically for adults. I really don’t care to drive an hour just to entertain the kids. By the time we get there, they’ve been asleep for as long.

13. Environmentalists. I say conserve what we can, use the resources we have and recycle if possible when you can. They were against putting in a local Wal-Mart (not my fave, but I prefer the grocery prices) and had them do an environment impact study. They changed their minds because it would have set back everything another year. The thing that gets me is there are loads of log homes here (probably filled with environmentalists). Where’s the conservation there?

Thirteen Things I Enjoy About Montana

It was a huge adjustment for Bryan and me after we moved here. We felt lost and misplaced for a long time. Now after 18 months, I have a list.

1. Tax-free living. For the first 9 months, especially when we’d make a big purchase I’d bellow, “and it’s tax FREE!” Don’t hate me for it.

2. Nightmare traffic is a 6-car line at the 4-way stop. No traffic lights, no roundabouts–nothing.

3. It’s quiet and peaceful, especially at night. At first I couldn’t get to sleep because it was too quiet here, now I can’t get to sleep in the metropolitan areas.

4. Genuinely nice people live here. There’s a lot of OLD people here, but they’re nice.

5. It’s brilliant to drive to Missoula and on the way spot bald eagles, hawks or falcons overhead on the way there. Watch out for the freakin deer a-go-go though.6. The local school district is in the Top 5 in America.

7. My husband’s total commute is just 12 miles both ways, compared to 1.5 hours before we moved here.

8. The opportunities for mountain climbing, biking and camping are endless. The mountain views are also breath-taking.

9. It’s virtually stress-free, living here.

10. We’re just a 4 hours’ drive from five of the best fishing places in America. Neither of us fish though.

11. I’m only 4 hours south of Canada. It’s calling my name. I want to go buy some British food so bad.

12. It’s safe. If I’ve accidentally left the front door unlocked overnight I don’t go throw up when I realise it. I still worry a little, but it’s not a huge issue now.

13. There are plenty of places locally to go float the river.