Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hiking and Hollandaise

When we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves or try to fulfill the fantasy expectations others have of us, it causes intense stress that puts us out of sync with our real lives. To really understand what we are truly capable of, we have to get to know ourselves deeply. In order to do this we must learn to see life around us a little more deeply and understand our connection to it.
And we must allow ourselves to be an individual, to be different, and to acknowledge our own aspirations, desires and dreams.

We went hiking on Wednesday with Ursula, Dee Dee, and Nancy up to Pine Creek Lake.
Both the hike and the lake were spectacular. I’ve put photos at the end of this post, but photos, as usual, don’t even begin to show the beauty. This world is such an amazing place if we just get out and see it.
And the hollandaise? It was exactly the opposite.
Let me explain. Ben and I watched the movie Julie and Julia. It was a really fun movie. I never really knew much about Julia Child. Mom wasn’t a good cook, so I wasn’t a good cook, so cooking was a mystery. I wasn’t interested in cooking, because food just wasn’t that great. Before I met Ben, who IS a really good cook, eating was an obligation. Eating really good food was an expensive restaurant experience. Ben changed all that. Still, I believed I couldn’t cook. There were a few things I could do well enough, but if it wasn’t on the grill, you weren’t in for a treat if I cooked.
I was motivated by the movie and ordered Julia Child’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Wonderful book. If you really read it, that is. I already knew how to make white sauce, from watching Ben, so I moved on to hollandaise sauce. I’m a little ADD (That’s Attention Deficit Disorder with an emphasis on deficit). I looked at the pictures and read the captions and tried to make hollandaise sauce. Doesn’t work. You have to read the fine print. Actually it’s not fine print at all if you’re not ADD.
So I went back to that fine print and read what I was supposed to do. There was a lot left out of the captions below the pictures.
You see, Ben is such a good cook that if we want something good to eat, he has to cook. All the time. I have made a mental conviction to learn how to add to our menu. And I’m determined. When I recall the years we’ve lived on Muddy Creek, I remember all the great food Ben has cooked. And all I have done in that vein is grill steaks and burgers. Good food, yes, but extremely limited. So I’m going to learn how to cook with Julia for the next year, then I’ll move on to other cookbooks. I’m going to prove you can teach an old dog new tricks (like reading the fine print in a cookbook).
There’s another aspect to this challenge. As we get older, Ben and I don’t burn off the fat as easily as we used to. One of my favorite lines from the movie was a quote from Julia:  “Everything is better with butter!“ (Meryl Streep is amazing in that role). Up to now, butter is something Ben and I have used in our diets on only a very limited basis.
So here’s our challenge: have a meal once a week from what I learn (really learn this time, by reading the text and not just the pictures Smile with tongue out) and exercise enough to still trim our waistlines.
Wish us luck. I’ll be reporting our menu choices and any recipes we concoct, and I’ll be honest and let you all know how we’re doing with the waistline/weight factor.










Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mountain Gold

“The world is a bitter place only if you let it be so.”
But what does that mean? And what does “It’s all in your attitude” mean?
These are over-simplified, over-used phrases which convey the truth that the way we view the outside world depends on what’s going on in our inside world and, also, on our mental focus, which is not a simple matter at all.
We all have complete control over our inner world and over the way we view and interpret the outside world. But we readily relinquish that control to others, believing, accepting, and integrating the views and interpretations they offer, because we want to rely on outside influences to direct our lives, to take responsibility for the outcome of our lives, never trusting our own senses.
Only when we accept responsibility for our own lives and for the outcome we’re living toward, can we have a good attitude and make our world a beautiful and fulfilling place.

Last weekend we went hiking with friends in the Bridger Mountains on Saturday and the Crazy Mountains on Sunday. The sun was brilliant, glittering off the few clouds, the treetops and the clean snow on the peaks. The hikes left us exhausted and blissfully happy.
A few years ago, when spring took even longer to arrive than this year’s did, I was groaning about the cold and the snow and the rain, wishing summer would hurry and get here. Ben turned to me with a peculiar look on his face and said, “But you don’t like summer.”
I looked at him as if he was from Jupiter, wondering what he was talking about; then gradually I realized he was right, I really don’t like summer: it’s hot, several kinds of nasty bugs bite me every time I go outside, and the pollen of grasses and clover give me allergic fits. The one great part of summer I do love, though,  is being able to get out into the mountains for hiking and backpacking. The mountains are cooler, generally less buggy and usually void of the high pollen counts we have in the valley.
So maybe I don’t like summer, but I do love the mountains. When I’m up there, I don’t have to think about all the stressors of life down here. And it doesn’t matter if I get grubby and sweaty and my hair is a mess, because everyone up there on the mountain is the same. People hiking in the mountains are there for a good time away from life in the valley, so they’re not expecting me to behave in some obscure way they expect me to behave based on their personal desires, they’re too busy relaxing and having fun. In that manner, they’re all like true friends, whether I’ve ever met them before or not.
And that’s a good feeling.

As I’ve said before, Ben and I had lived here for ten years before we really got into the mountains here. Both of us grew up hiking, fishing, and hunting with our families, loving the mountains, enjoying the peace and solitude. We still often wonder why it took so long to get up there after we moved here. Part of it was, I think, that our place here on the creek has a peace and solitude of its own. It’s exciting to watch the light and snow and shades of green on the mountains from where we’re at, but a big part of us not getting up there was because we kept ourselves so busy in the studio, trying to make the kind of living the rest of the world thought we should be making. We never actually attained that kind of a living, but we struggled toward it for years.
Now, we’re a lot more relaxed. We landscape with Ursula during the summer, which is hard work that we enjoy, since it lets us work outdoors, that keeps our bodies in better shape than we would be in, and pays the bills we need to pay. And it lets us enjoy the mountains during the summer and the changing fall. And when the landscaping season is over, we’re actually anxious to get back into the studio. Without resentment. We feel more free now than we ever have.
And what could be better?

The mountains to our west, just before we headed out toward them on Saturday morning.
Our summer grasses are already turning golden down here.

The gold of our mountains is the lush greenery. (We’re RICH!!)



The Bitterroot, Montana’s state flower, is actually very rare.

The mountains to our east just before we headed out for them on Sunday morning.






Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Show Biz

On the Fourth of July Weekend, Ben and I did the arts and crafts show with our pottery in Livingston. We shared a booth with Ursula. It was a terrible show for us, as it was for almost all the vendors. Partly due to the economy, other than our annual show in Shell, Wyoming (which, unfortunately, we won’t be able to do this year because we just don’t have any inventory or any new work), we haven’t done shows for a few years. This was a reminder of why we really hate doing shows. Sweltering temperatures, damaging winds that blow a lot of vendor booths away, sales inadequate to pay the booth fee . . .  Okay, I’ll stop whining now.

While we were sitting around at the show, Ben and I reminisced over past shows we could recall.

One Christmas show in Bozeman years ago was so bad that all the vendors traded with each other at the end, just so we would have gifts to give for the holidays that weren’t our own work yet again. That was actually kind of fun: shopping with goods instead of money.

A one-day summer show we did in Red Lodge was going really well when a huge thunder storm rolled up over the mountain with lightning, hellacious winds, and drenching rain. It lasted about twenty minutes or so, but when it cleared all the shoppers had gone home and didn’t come back. We left early. That wasn’t very fun.

We did a summer show in Big Sky way back that was attended by an over-sized dust devil, one that we still call a mini-tornado. It swept through the show grounds, lifting booth tents and sailing them overhead. The booth at the end, the first to get hit, was of a group of furniture makers who had been drinking a lot of beer. They were all sitting around in the shade of their extra-large booth, shirtless and drinking when the mini-tornado hit. It yanked their tent top off and sucked up hundreds of their flyers. The men, their eyes a bit glassy, stared into the sky with  the most incredible look of stupefied awe on their faces I’ve ever seen. The mini-t continued on through the show, ripping up tents and knocking people over. The man across the aisle from Ben and me lost his entire inventory of carved and etched ostrich eggs in glass cases, thousands of dollars worth. Their tent, poles and all, ended up in the parking lot after rolling down the aisle and flattening a woman before being air-lifted.

Ben and I didn’t have a tent at that time. We were just starting out and had been braving the scorching sun. When the mini-t hit we gaped in disbelief at the destruction and subsequent babbling and stark silence of the various other vendors. It wasn’t until later that we realized that our own set-up was completely unscathed; we lost nothing. Our business cards were still inside the mug we had put them in. Ben and I were, I believe, about the only ones in the show not to have lost anything.

The show was over, of course, so with a sickly solemnity everyone packed up and loaded what was left of their work into their vehicles. As Ben and I got ready to climb into our truck to head home, we looked up and saw the flyers from the furniture makers still flying in circles so high above us the papers looked like glitter.



I didn’t take pictures at the show, I almost never do, so here are some photos of Yellowstone Park from when we went hiking there a couple of years ago. Now THAT was a good time.