Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bald Eagle

This one was out by the East Fork Road, across the river from my place.



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Slick Ice

The sunny, warm weather has coated the ice with a slick layer of water, like those olympic curlers make with their little brooms to make their stones travel farther.  It has turned my path down to the river into a bobsled course.


I need to be careful and make sure this doesn't happen.

Hot, Hot, Hot

It may have snowed in Central Texas on Tuesday, but it was hot in Sula, Montana.  It hasn't been this warm since November.

It was a good day for hanging out by the river.  It's under there somewhere.

I threw some peanuts onto the ice for the steller's jays.  They were a little nervous at first.

Tentative landing.

Test hop.

Payoff.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow in Central Texas

A friend sent these pics from Waco, Texas, where they got three inches of snow on Tuesday.  They never get this much snow down there.

At the beginning of the snowfall.

That's one big snowman.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vole

I've never seen a vole before.  My best guess is that this is a Southern Red-backed Vole.  This one shoots out of a small hole in the snow and grabs a sunflower seed under the bird feeder and then disappears back into the hole.  You can't blame them for being skittish.  They are low on the food chain, being a favorite meal of raptors, weasels and coyotes.







Friday, February 19, 2010

For Medicinal Purposes

This sign is in a storefront in Hamilton, right on the main drag (so to speak).

Reportedly, there are three medical marijuana providers in Hamilton, and they are always sold out.  To some folks, sharing is caring.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Mild, Dry Winter in the Bitterroots

The southern and eastern parts of the country must've stolen our winter this year.  Right now, we only have about 55% of the snowpack we'd have in a normal year.  There's still some winter left, though, and it can snow quite a bit through the spring up here, so we're not done yet.


February 13, 2010

October 3, 2009

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count


My bad, for not posting this sooner.  The annual four-day Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend, through Monday.  Anybody can participate.  Just count the largest number of each bird species you see in your backyard at any one time (this avoids double counting) and submit your checklist on the website.  You can participate for only one day, for as little as 15 minutes, so you can still get in for Sunday and Monday. 

You can get a regional checklist of birds in your area here.  The complete instructions are here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Short Outing Along the East Fork

You couldn't quite call this a hike, but Mari and I explored a hilly area a few miles up the East Fork Road.  This land is part of the Bitterroot National Forest. The hills face south here, so they get plenty of sun, keeping them mostly free of snow.


Not far from the road, we saw this bighorn sheep carcass.

The huge hills make you feel like a kid, and you want to climb to the top.  But it's a long way up, steep and the ground was a little soggy, so we only went about halfway up.   It was a good spot to sit and soak in the sun and look at the mountains.  We vowed to come back in the summer when the ground is dry and go all the way up, and maybe even camp for a night up there.  I want to go on a clear night and see how the stars look from top of the hill.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Scattered Thoughts From Sula

  • Okay, I'm trying to get the blog back on track after being sick for several days, but because I was sick, I haven't seen or done anything to blog about.  But I'm working on it.
  • It was a weird illness—I didn't have any serious cold symptoms, but I felt really tired and my brain didn't work very well.  For several days I was all Flowers for Algernon, in a bad way.
  • I love hearing owls.  On Thursday night two owls were having a conversation across the river.  One was close, and the other was far off, barely audible.
  • I wonder if nocturnal animals up here dread the short nights of summer in the same way I don't care for the short days of winter.
  • The weather this winter has been crazy.  Dallas is having its snowiest winter in 25 years, but the winter in Sula has been very mild.  There's about a foot of snow on the ground here, whereas it's normally over three feet deep this time of year.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tex-Mex Breakfast

I got hooked on migas when I lived in Corpus Christi, Texas.  When I moved to Dallas, I couldn't find anyone that made them right, so I had to make my own.  I don't always make these the same way.  Sometimes I vary the ingredients depending on what I have on hand and how industrious I feel.  Most recipes use oil to saute the tortillas, but if I'm frying or sauteing something, I use bacon grease.  Here's my most common method:

Ingredients:
8 pieces uncooked bacon;
6 eggs;
6 corn tortillas (if they're large, a few more if they're small);
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped;
Jalapenos--in this case, pickled is better than fresh because fresh ones won't cook enough.  I use Trappey's sliced jalapenos.  Take about 6-8 slices and cut them into quarters (or halves, if you prefer);
Garlic powder;
Onion powder.

In a large frying pan, cook the 8 pieces of bacon and set them aside, leaving the bacon grease in the pan.  Tear the tortillas into small bite-sized pieces and saute them in the bacon grease until they are crispy.  Remove the tortillas and set aside (you can leave them in, but they'll get a little soggy when you add the eggs).  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, tomato, jalapeno, garlic powder and onion powder and whisk together.  I never measure the garlic or onion powder.  I just add a couple of healthy shakes of each.


Pour the egg mixture into the frying pan.  When the eggs just start to firm up, add the tortillas back in and mix them in as you finish cooking the eggs.  I crumble the bacon on top of the migas when they're done.  You can also add shredded cheese, but do it while they're still hot in the pan so the cheese will melt.

This is before the bacon.
My food stylist said I should've added some cilantro for more color, but that would've made some jacked-up migas, so I didn't do it.  I don't care about presentation—it just has to taste good.

Options. If you use oil instead of bacon grease, you'll need to add salt, maybe 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon.  If I'm feeling industrious and have everything on hand, I'll add some chopped onion and minced garlic when I'm sauteing the tortillas (let the tortillas get a little crispy first). If you do that, you can skip the powders.

To make these perfect, you should have some refried beans as a side, but I almost never do.  It takes too much planning to cook a pot of beans and then fry them up.  My migas are usually more spur-of-the-moment.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Staying in Shape

It's hard to stay as active on the short winter days, compared to the wide-open long days of summer.  I plan to do some long distance backpacking this summer, so I'm working on staying in shape.  Packing a heavy backpackback over mountain passess is pure hell if you're not in good shape.

The nearest commercial gym is the brilliantly-named Right to Bare Arms in Darby, about 30 miles away.  As much as I love the name, and want a T-shirt, that's too far to drive multiple times a week.

Instead, I work out in my as-yet-unnamed gym in my garage.  The power rack allows me to work out without a spotter.  Don't anybody make fun of my po-man weight set, which is a hodgepodge of plates from two old sets of mine and some individual plates I picked up here and there.  Their only job is to be heavy, not look pretty.


It takes a little mental adjustment working out in an open garage during a Montana winter.  On average, it's about 28° in there when I work out, but it warms up fast after the first set.  I've never worn workout gloves before, but now I wear winter gloves, because that metal is cold.  And it's always a shock to finish a set and look up to see it snowing just outside the wide open door.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Random Thoughts from Sula

  • The days are getting noticeably longer.  In Sula, today will be a little over an hour longer than the shortest day of the year was.
  • Tomorrow will be 2 minutes, 45 seconds longer than today.  We are cruising now.
  • I'm not tired of the snow, but I miss the ground.  I haven't seen the ground at my place in about three months.
  • Most of the time, there is no snow on the ground at all down in the Bitterroot Valley (north of Sula).  It really is the banana belt of Montana.
  • I just recently learned the difference between sachet (a packet of good-smelling crap) and sashay (what New Orleans ladies do, if you remember that old song from the 80s).
  • I think I felt better about my masculinity before I knew that.

Wisdom

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.  Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Like Raising That Little Flag at Pancho's

"We need some more enchiladas out here."

This is why we need more enchiladas.  These guys eat like construction hands.

Melinda sent this pic of the Pancho's flag.  Good times.

Sula Elk

I saw these elk one snowy morning, about a mile from my cabin.  It's the first time I've seen elk in Sula.




Monday, February 1, 2010

February

"What's the matter, that you have such a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?" William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing.

My Highly-Scientific Snow Monitoring System

Based on the amount of snow on the bird feeder, I'd say about three and half inches of snow fell overnight.

Painting the Bitterroot

This artist was working to capture a winter scene on the lower East Fork of the Bitterroot River in Sula.  The first time I saw him was last Thursday afternoon. 

I took these pictures from the road without stopping.  I would like to have seen how the painting was coming, but I didn't want to interrupt the creative process.  The Muse can be a fragile thing.


I stopped at the same spot late Friday morning to get a photo of the scene he was painting.  I wonder how tightly or widely he framed his painting.

He was back at it on Friday afternoon, like a good artist, out at the same time of day to capture the scene in the same lighting.

This is how the scene looked Sunday morning.  Need more white paint!

I know I've had a lot of art references in the last couple days.  It just happened that way.  Maybe I need to post another Hee Haw clip to bring down the level of discourse again.