Bring on 2014!

It has been ages since I’ve written on this blog, but it has truly been a very busy fall and early winter.  In addition trying to keep up with my kids, husband and the Giant Newfoundland, I took on some new projects.

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Such a pretty girl.

In October, we put the Columbia Falls Community Garden to bed for the winter.  We planted flower bulbs and garlic. It was definitely a successful season.  Our growing season was amazingly long, and we were able to donate nearly 260 pounds of fresh produce to the Columbia Falls Food Bank.  I feel like I spent the better part of September and October in the kitchen, processing tomatoes.  I was able to put up 74 jars of tomato products though–should last until next year.

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74 jars of tomatoes on the wall…

I started teaching a new course at the high school called History through Literature, which fulfills the required credits for both US History and English 11.  Those of you who are teachers know how time-consuming it is to craft a new course.  For this one, I have the same set of students twice a day, and I am trying to implement student-centered and inquiry-based learning.  There have been some successes and some things that definitely needs reworking for next year.

In addition to my full schedule at the high school, I also began teaching World History for the Montana Digital Academy. MTDA is a fantastic program that offers (free) courses for high school age kids throughout the state of Montana.  Montana high schools are often very small and far away from one another (the state is just barely under 150,000 square miles with just barely over a million people) and they can’t always offer the same buffet of courses for their students; this helps to fill that need. I have students from Columbia Falls to Wibaux, and from Shelby to Red Lodge and everywhere in between.  Some are home-schooled, while others are trying to get caught back up so they can graduate.  Many of my students this past semester are taking World History in addition to a full class load at school.  So far it has been very rewarding.

Finally, I was elected to the Columbia Falls City Council this past November.  I have my first meeting on my birthday, January 6th.  I’m excited–I have an orientation with the city manager on Thursday morning so I I’ll know what to expect.

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Other than these exciting additions to my life/schedule, I taught myself, with the help of my mother-in-law, the basics of crochet.  This will accompany my knitting–there are just certain things that are better crocheted than knitted.  Like baskets.  I still find crocheting awkward and much more difficult that knitting–but I assume it will get easier.

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My first attempt. It has issues.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  It’s a full plate, but someone told me that I must like it that way, or it wouldn’t be.  Very wise, very wise.    My next post will be about my “Very Crafty Christmas”.  Stay tuned!

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Dr. Murphy

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Pooh Bear got an unscheduled lobotomy. And an eye removal. And ear amputation. Yikes!

Wordless Wednesday #6

Wordless Wednesday #6

**I know this is supposed to be “wordless” Wednesdays, but lest people think we neglect our dog by leaving her in the snow, please don’t. She has a bed under the eaves of the house and she can come inside when she wants. She chooses this. She’s a Newfie.

A Walk in River’s Edge Park

It is a gorgeous almost-spring day today.  The sun is shining brightly, warming us through our coats. We decided to take a walk to River’s Edge Park with Murphy the Giant Puppy and the boys.  For its size, Columbia Falls boasts a number of nice parks (11, to be exact).  They contain playground equipment, picnic tables, etc…the normal park trappings.

862701_10151341441895886_728078854_nRiver’s Edge Park is special–it is a wide open space of nearly 30 acres and hosts approximately 900 feet of river front.  It is home to the Columbia Falls Community Garden, where I spend a whole lot of quality time during the growing season.889414_10151341449165886_11003922_oThere is a muskrat pond, two vast fields, and many winding trails throughout our park.889431_10151341417550886_1679454516_oIt is our favorite place to walk the dog.862853_10151341384630886_1497974652_nAnd to watch the birds.862749_10151341414350886_87816034_nTo sit and watch the river flow by.

862829_10151341420685886_91685741_n (1)To throw rocks into the water.

803975_10151341422765886_1868998929_nTo ride bikes.

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To take the dog swimming.
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Just another reason to feel lucky to live in the Flathead Valley.

Newfie = Dirt!

Murphy, our Newfoundland, is truly the most beautiful dog I have ever seen, but she is also the dirtiest.   If you have a Newf, you know that they are pretty much dirt and water sponges.  Most dogs bring in some mud when the snow starts to melt, but Murphy takes it to an entirely new level.

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Baby Murphy in her pool last summer.

Newfies have what we call “feathers” on the back of their legs.  We may as well call them mops, because they collect every bit of moisture with which they come into contact–and hold it.  Murphy usually thinks this is a good time to try to sit on the couch or on your lap.  One cute thing–whenever Murph gets wet, her hair kinks up as if she had been left in a room with my old high school crimping iron.

Can you see the crimps in her ear fur?

Can you see the crimps in her ear fur?

Now, I understand that most dogs shed.  I am perfectly used to puffs of dog fur dancing around the floor each time the heat turns on.  What Murphy brings to the game is dirt.  When she gets up from the floor, left behind is a giant dog shaped dirt shadow.

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Just a few hours worth of Murphy leftovers from our family room floor…

On our walk today. Murphy found one of the last remaining patches of snow and rolled all around in it, as she is wont to do.  It reminded me of a chinchilla taking a dust bath–when she arose (or was tugged back into the street for our walk), the clean white snow had a lovely, brownish doggie-shaped outline.

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Yes, Murph–please wait until you are inside to shake! Love you!

Bits of dog biscuits stuck in her jowls are released onto her “napkin”, otherwise known as the rug in front of the hearth.   She is fond of putting her chin on your sleeve–and when she leaves, a nice slimy trail of dog slobber  undoubtedly remains.  Don’t bother wearing nice clothes to my house…Newfs also like to present their paws to everyone, and dainty, she is not.

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A nice shot of one of Murph’s hang out spots

She loves to get into the bathtub after the boys shower–and up on the sink to drink whatever is left in the sink.  It is never a secret when she does this as big muddy paw prints appear wherever she has been.  We try to dry off her feet before she gets too fair into the house or out of the tub, but tug-a-towel is one of her favorite games, which makes things a bit difficult.

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There are myriad great reasons to bring a Newfoundland into your family.  However, if cleanliness is your thing, you may want to think again.

Murphy is our favorite great big, dirty, slobbery mess.  We love her to pieces!

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Murphy surveying her domain–surprisingly, “her” deck is rather tidy, comparatively speaking. The window I am taking the picture through, however, is not. Newf finger painting!