Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all you out in blogland. I haven't posted in a bit and I owe a long rambling summary of the past few weeks, but I also owe an apology to a certain person out there. You see, one of my prior posts (I deleted it this morning) aired some dirty laundry that probably should have been kept in the closet of my mind. You kknow who you are. I'm sorry.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Picking A Tree From the Wayhiup

When my friends Phil & Julie Gardner used to live in Indiana, there home was tucked away south of Indianapolis is a beautiful wooded area near Martinsville. They called their home the Waydownback and it was frequently the jumping off point for our weekend adventures in the hills of southern Indiana. Phil & Julie moved to Missoula about 7 years ago and now have a home, nestled in the pine forested mountains, about 30 minutes south of Missoula...they've affectionately named their Lolo, Montana home the Wayhiup.

The Wayhiup sits atop a ridge and is surrounded by both logged and unlogged forest. Their land butts up against land owned by the timber conglomerate Plum Creek. Because of the reforestation methods of logging companies, fast growing and invasive species of pine have crept onto the Gardner property and they let some of their friends come up each year to help thin away trees that crowd out the native trees. This year, I got invited and it was a super fun time.

I arrived mid-afternoon and was met by Julie, with some advice on where to find good trees and instructions on what type could be cut. Julie and Melanie even showed me to a promising clump of trees. I hiked around, staying near the house for awhile and then slowly drifting off into the backwoods. It was very peaceful and quiet, with a slight wind keeping me just cold enough to remember winter is here. I found a tree that looked just right, about the right height and fairly full. Unlike farmed trees, the trees out in the forest aren't shaped and can seem a bit Charlie Brown-ish. I cut the tree down and dragged it back to my car, where I used some twine to get the tree ready for the highway drive back to Missoula.

After warming my belly with some of the best chili I've had and getting in some good conversation with the other folks who'd made the journey, I headed back to town and started decorating my
Christmas Tree, what a blast the whole experience was...I can't wait to finish my tree this weekend.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

An Early Season Ski Day

Wow, what fun. Sunday, Karl & Lori and I headed up to Lolo Pass for some cross country skiing. Lolo Pass is on the Montana/Idaho border, about 30 minutes or so from town. It was a gorgeous day and the Snow was fine. Karl & Lori are in great shape and are much better skiers than me, but they humored me into thinking I could keep up. Here's me in an action shot on the 3 mile loop course. We also had their dogs Sarah & Sydney with us, so we went on an ungroomed course across from the pass that was fairly strenuous. All big fun.

Brown County Hoe-Down

Hard to believe a whole week has gone by since I last posted. Thanksgiving was a blast on my end. I flew home last Thursday morning, arriving in Indy at 3:30 PM. I'd hoped the trip would be full of holiday cheer, but most of the travelers were down right grumpy. The bad weather in the Eastern and Southeastern parts of the country ran roughshod over travel plans and left people stranded from Wednesday trying to get home. The higher prices this year also seemed to affect families so many were flying on turkey day to get better deals, so both my flights (Indy to Minneapolis and Minnie to Indy) were chock full-o-grumps. No worries, I just kept right on wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving night my Mom, Dad and brother hopped in the car for the ride up to Carmel, sister's Mother in-law hosted Thanksgiving dinner. The O'Connor's are used to eating the holiday meal around 2:00 and then again around 5 & 6 & 7...we compromised and ate at 8:00 PM. We had deep fried turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry relish, homemade yeast rolls, corn pudding, broccoli, grilled oysters, cornbread stuffing, oyster dressing and a host of other goodies. For dessert there was pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie and my homemade pumpkin roll (made it uncrushed on the plane). It was all delicious. Later that night, back at Mom & Dad's, we tapped into more food. I overate.
On Friday after some quality time with my cute-as-a-button niece Brooke, my brother Chris and niece Tara and the rest of the family, I got back in the car and traveled south, into southern Indiana hill country...Specifically Brown County. My friends Curt & Kathy hosted a post-Thanksgiving party at their split log cabin. I arrived early enough to help Curt and another buddy (John) plant a couple of hundred crocus bulbs. The cabin sits on a beautiful piece of land surrounded by hardwoods and hills. As we planted the bulbs, deer ran freely past us frolicking in the woods (or perhaps running from hunters). It was so great to see many Friends, including those traveling from afar; Marsh & Alyssa from New York City and Christy from Boulder, Colorado. We ate fried food (hey, it was a holiday!) hung out by the bonfire, talked, laughed and had a great time.
Soon I was back in the car heading north to Indianapolis. Saturday morning it was...up early, airport by 7:30 AM, back in Missoula at 1:30 PM. It was a whirlwind trip but well worth it, just to see everyone and to be with family.