30 November 2011


The other day I got an invitation, by way of The Kinsey Kronicles, to enter a Gore-Tex contest. Gore-Tex is looking for people with stories to tell, along with photos or videos, of how Gore-Tex “delivered for you.”

I’m thinking someone stumbled upon this blog and thought I might be a Gore-Tex user. Good guess. If one does just about anything outdoors I don’t see how you could not be a Gore-Tex user and fan. I am all about the outdoors. Gore-Tex is in my gloves, my jackets, my pants, my boots. I am a real Gore-Tex gal.

Gore-Tex has kept me dry and warm for many years. I could tell stories of kayaking in the spring downpours, being caught in summer mountain squalls in the Jewell Basin, tromping through mountain streams in the Great Bear Wilderness, cross country skiing in the Kootenay Rockies, snowshoeing the Blacktail Trail, or tending chores here at the ranch in rain and snow storms.

What I can’t do is provide any photos. Which is somewhat ironic since I am a photographer.  A requirements is the story teller is supposed to be in the photos. The one thing that is never in any of my photographs is me. I have tried for years to get Koty on board with picture taking but with no success. Since it's always just the two of us ....

I can’t enter the contest but it occurred to me some of you readers might like to give it a whirl. You need to get your entry in by December 15.

You can find complete details on the Gore-Tex Facebook Page. It looks like a fun contest. I'll bet there will be some great stories.

If you are the grand prize winner be sure to let us know.

©Kinsey Barnard

28 November 2011

Insect Bites & Allergic Reactions

This post is a 180 from my last A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever. My show and tell photo for today is UGLY.

My first duty upon rising at this time of year is to get the woodstove going again. It usually goes out over night no matter how far down I dampen it. It's not a problem because this house is so well insulated often times I have to crack a window to let some of the heat escape.

Back to the tale at hand, pardon the pun. Yesterday morning I was setting about my fire making duties when as I put my right hand in the glove I felt this really nasty sting. At first I thought it was maybe a splinter of wood that gotten inside the glove. That happens. But, the sting was so red hot I flung off the glove and threw it down. I thought I saw something black on my finger but I wasn't sure because I do this task in near darkness. I don't know why. I just do. I hunted around for a flashlight and by the time I got a hold of one and swept the carpet with it there was nothing to be found. There is a lamp right there I could have turned on but I didn't. I don't know why. I just didn't.

The sting, bite or whatever hurt like the dickens and I thought to myself "Sure hope that wasn't a brown recluse or some other deadly do wrong". Ever the optimist I decided it wasn't anything lethal. Sides, I live far enough out in the bush that I would probably be over the Rainbow Bridge before they got here anyway. I noticed my hand was starting to swell quickly. I am very allergic to insect bites and stings.

Taking matters into my own hands I took some Benadryl and slathered on the Cortizone 10. Right away I noticed the swelling seemed to be slowing and I breathed a sigh of relief. Where I messed up was I thought I only needed to take the Benadryl once not a few times. This morning when I woke up my hand looked like this. WARNING! The picture you are about to see should not be viewed by those with weak stomachs. OK, that's a little theatrical but it does look nasty.


Honestly, this is not what my hand normally looks like. The swelling crept six inches up my arm. Looking at it on the bright side it did stretch all the wrinkles out!

The worst part is I don't what bit me and the bugger is still running around in the house. For all I know he is back in the woodbox just waiting for his next chance to attack.

©Kinsey Barnard

27 November 2011


This photograph was taken in the spring when the aspen and cottonwood trees were just bringing forth new life. The reflective nature of the image gives the impression that the photograph is not a photograph at all but a painting. Nature wields a mighty brush when She paints upon the waters.

For certain beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To my eye this photo is gorgeous. The stunning color coupled with the painting like quality make this an image that gives rise to a joyful feeling in my heart. Looking at it just makes me feel good. And, as Keats said "A thing of beauty is a joy forever".

I would love to know what you think.  You can leave a comment by clicking on the image and scrolling down to the bottom. It would be great if you did.

©Kinsey Barnard

26 November 2011


As regular readers know I have had an ongoing love affair with all things Apple. That is until now.

I recently decided that I needed an iPod. I saw great enjoyment in being able to go out in the forest here at the ranch with some of my favorite music. Just being in my slice of nature fills my senses. I thought including some music that takes me places I can’t explain might heighten the experience. I don’t understand why people need drugs. I’m on a Rocky Mountain high all the time!

I digress. So, I bought an iPod Classic.  When I got it home I set it to charging itself and explored the rest of the stuff in the package, which wasn’t much except for the earphones. I tried, for five or ten minutes, to put the things in my ears but when my ears started to get raw from my trying I decided something was wrong. I looked up how to put them in on the internet and found an Apple site that said there should be rubber or silicon ear buds to go over the microphones. OK, so something was left out of the box.

I called Apple and explained that my package had not contained the necessary earbuds. I was summarily told the earbuds were not included. Unfortunately, did not save the address of the page that said they did so I couldn’t argue very well. The documentation that comes with the iPod doesn’t mention the earphones at all. I did say it was crazy because surely many people would not be able to use the ear earphones them.

So, here I sit with a $249.00 piece of equipment I cannot use because Apple was too cheap to include $3.95 earbuds.  Mind you $3.95 is retail, what I can buy them for. I’m sure they wouldn’t cost Apple $1.00 to include them in the package. What Apple was after was selling me a different set of earphones for an additional sixty or seventy dollars.

The very idea that Apple ships out a product that every consumer cannot use as is is unconscionable. There is absolutely no way this isn’t done on purpose. This is the second time Apple has disappointed me. Earlier I bought an iPad that couldn’t be used with the Mac operating system I had. I needed to buy a new OS. No one told me that before hand or mentioned the possibility I might not be able to use it without purchasing a new operating system. Shame on you Apple. Looks like corporate greed has gotten to you too!

I’m sure when I get my new earphones, which I bought from Amazon, I will get all the enjoyment from the product that I had hoped for. But, I am certainly left with a bad taste in my mouth as far as the way Apple does business. I certainly won’t be singing your praises out of hand any more.

©Kinsey Barnard

21 November 2011

Kahtoola Micro Spikes - Product Review

Nothing gives me more pleasure than to find a great product that I can recommend to the benefit of others. It’s even better when I find the people behind the product are as great as the product.

My home is in northwest Montana. As you might imagine it gets very cold and icy up here. Originally from California, I am now in my tenth year at this location. If there is one thing I have developed over the years it is a healthy respect for ice, living out in a National Forest as I do, just me and my trusty sidekick, Siberian Husky Lakota Sunrise (Koty).

One slip and fall on the ice and life as you know it could be changed forever particularly if you are in that stage of life when the old bones, like the hair, start to thin. Because I am in that stage and live alone in a remote area I am quite judicious in the ways that I interact with my environment, particularly in winter. Not using my noggin could result in serious injury or even death in an icy cold grave. Worse, I could mess myself up so I could no longer live this life.

Koty and I hike almost every day of our lives. It’s an addiction affliction. In winter we tend to stick to the forest roads. I figure if we do run a cropper there’s a better chance of getting found before we become crispy critters. The roads can also be dicy in that traffic packs down the snow and it’s not long before the tracks are slick as grease.

It didn’t take me long to figure out I needed something on the bottom of my boots to give me traction and keep me from falling arse over tea kettle. The roads I travel are in the mountains. They are up and down and seldom flat. I tried everything from Yak Trax to Spare Spikes. None of them gave me a feeling of security, and worse, they fell apart within weeks. A total waste of money.

I kept searching until I discovered Kahtoola Crampons. These babies looked like I could climb Everest. I didn’t care. I bought a pair and was never happier. I could walk straight up sheer ice without slipping. I had never felt so secure walking on ice. I would still recommend these crampons to anyone with the caveat that they are not for urban or suburban walking.

Last winter, after seven or eight seasons with my Kahtoola crampons I had completely worn through one of the straps. I contacted the company and shipped them off to Flagstaff for repair. A week or so later I got a call from Vance White, a Kahtoola designer, who told me my crampons had been repaired and were on their way back. Vance was curious how I was using my Kahtoola crampons.  I told him. He asked if I had thought about trying the Kahtoola Micro Spikes?  I said no as there was no such thing when I bought my crampons and I was so pleased with those I had not bothered to look further.  Vance convinced me I should try them and, since I live in the middle of nowhere, offered to sell me a pair direct.

Shortly thereafter I received my repaired crampons at no charge. A pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect that. A few days after that I got the Micro Spikes. The only problem was it was April so I couldn’t try them out.

Now the snow has flown, the slippery conditions have arrived and I have been out with my Micro Spikes and they work beautifully. An added bonus, they are really easy to slip on and off. The crampons take more effort. I liken them to putting on a pair of roller skates, if you are old enough to remember what that’s like. Another advantage is the Micro Spikes don’t seem to get clogged up with snow. I have had times with the crampons when conditions changed whilst I was out and had sticky fresh snow packed into a ball under the crampons to the point I could barely walk. I purposely took the Micro Spikes into unpacked snow and I had no problems.

I can’t make any claims about how long they will last but they look strong and I think they will hold up well. If for some reason they do fail I also know from experience Kahtoola will make it right.

Not many live the life that I do so the Kahtoola Crampons would not be suitable for the majority. Micro Spikes, however, can benefit anyone who lives in a climate where there is snow and ice underfoot. I think if you do live in these conditions and don’t have a pair of Micro Spikes you are out of your mind. And lookie here, you can even get them at Zappo’s.  Christmas gift idea? Stocking Stuffer?

Kahtoola has great products, great people and great customer service. What more is there?

It may sound as though I am on the company payroll. I assure you I am not. It’s just that there is so much to complain about these day when I find something I think is really worthwhile I get excited about it and want to share it with everyone.

©Kinsey Barnard

17 November 2011

Coping With Cushing's

Just a week ago my darling boy Lakota was diagnosed with Cushing's disease. There is no cure for it. So, the best we can hope to do is extend his quality of life for as long as we can. Who knows, if we're lucky, that could be a good long while in dog time.

As  regular readers are aware, Koty is pretty much my family. We are as close as any two creatures can be being together twenty for seven as we are. I have decided to document our experience with the disease in a new blog. It seems a lot of dogs are getting this disease and maybe others will be interested in how we deal with it. Also, to do so makes me feel like I'm somehow being more proactive. Maybe some of my observations will be helpful to others.

In any event the name of the blog is Coping With Cushing's: Lakota's Story . Click on the link to go to the address.

06 November 2011

Apple's iMac and Lion

I took delivery of my new iMac this past week. It surely is a thing of beauty. There have been a whole lot of changes between my old operating system and Lion. It's going to be awhile before I have everything set up the way I want it and there are some software issues that need sorting out with my photo editing software. But, once I've got it put together it's going to be awesome.

One of the first things I found out was my Microsoft Word program was too old to work with iMacs Lion.  At first I thought "Drat! I have to shell out for a whole new program." A quick call to Applecare and I learned I could go to the App Store and for $19.95 buy what they call a "Page". It's the word processing equivalent of Word. You can also buy the equivalent of Power Point and Excel for $19.95 each. They are watered down versions but more than adequate for my needs. I also learned about iCloud and how I can share my documents with my iPad. This means I can take my iPad anywhere, write when I am inspired and then put it on my desktop. The two will work seamlessly. So cool!

At this point I need to say something about Applecare. Despite the fact I have been using computers for over thirty years I don't really know much about them. I was never really interested in computers. I was only interested in what they could do for me. As a result I am still pretty much of a neophyte with regard to many things operational.

So far I have called Applecare three times. On each occasion the representative has been courteous, knowledgeable and most importantly, patient. I have received a survey questionnaire for each call and responded to all of them with 10's for every question. I don't get any Brownie points for doing so. It's just how I feel.

I switched to Mac in 2007. I had been a PC user for 28 years prior to that. I started in the dark days of DOS when all you got when you turned on your computer was a blank screen with a blinking cursor. In those days, Apple was considered a kookie cult only for nerds. I was reluctant to make the change but theatrical photographer and friend, Michal Daniel, insisted I must because Apple graphics are the industry standard. With great trepidation I did.

There was a learning curve involved with that transition to be sure but not as much as I thought there would be. And I can only say that it was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made. Windows and PC's are simply junk in comparison. My Macs never crash, never get viruses, are so intuitive and simple to use and the graphics are beautiful, a photographers dream. Truly a must for serious artists. Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about Mac and Apple as a whole.

A fine legacy Steve Jobs left behind. The world truly is a better place for him having been in it.

And, that's all I have to say about Apple and Macs except, if you don't own one you are a masochist! :)

©Kinsey Barnard

Join Koty and I on Facebook

04 November 2011


There has certainly been a lot of talk about the end of the world these days. I haven’t actually counted but there have already been several end of the world predictions this year the last of which was October 28th. A fellow by the name of Carl Calleman  recalculated the Mayan Calendar and decided that the end of the world would come on October 28th rather than more popular December 21, 2012.  Since it is now November 3rd I guess we know how that worked out.

I recently watched an end of the world program entitled Is it the End of the World as We Know It?  on the National Geographic Channel. I have to say my respect for National Geographic is greatly diminished by much of their programming. It seems they, like everyone else, are caught up in the money game. And after watching this particular pseudo documentary my respect sank even further. The producers appear more interested in theatrics than facts. There were several things that insulted my intelligence but the one that sticks out in my mind was a segment of the film where the narrator went to Mexico to look into “an ancient Mayan city”.  The camera follows the “actors” as they approach the city through jungle foliage whilst speaking in hushed tones. As they break out of the jungle what do we see? Chitsa Nitsa!  As anyone who has been there knows Chitsa Nitsa is a huge tourist attraction on the Yucatan Peninsula. You do not hack your way through a dangerous jungle in an effort to get there. You take a tour bus.

In this Nat Geo episode we are whisked away to Germany to consult the Dresden Codex.  People have spent lifetimes gifting the world with their “learned” interpretations. In this particular documentary the researcher takes us to the end of the codex and shows us a page he says means the world will be covered in water and thus destroyed. Honestly, I couldn’t see it. I just had to take his word for it.

As lightweight as this documentary was it did get me to thinking about the Mayan prediction for the end of the world. Well at least that’s what a bunch of people looking for a fun and easy way to make a living say. Who knows what the Mayans actually had in mind.

Here are some of the questions I have. The world for the Mayans was more or less the Yucatan Peninsula, west to Mexico City and down into northern El Salvador. Pretty much the entire civilization was surrounded by water. Natural cycles were an integral part of the Mayan belief system. Could it be that the Mayans were simply predicting the end of what they knew to be the world and not the entire planet? When the Mayan calendar in question was written could the Mayans have had any idea there was a world outside of their own? I'd be much more concerned about living in the area of the ancient Mayan civilization.

Many centuries later, in the 1,700's A.D., a fellow by the name of Nostradamus  came along and supposedly predicted an end to the world on December 21, 2012. How anyone makes heads or tails of his quatrains is a mystery to me. I think you could have as many interpretations of his writings as there are people making them. Let your imagination be your guide.

The Bible, as we all know, predicts the coming of Armageddon but the precise time has not been revealed. Still many people seem to like to lump the Bible in with all the hype and hysteria. Although, I must admit, I can certainly see some of the biblical predictions of what end times will look like in the present state of the globe. Clearly, it could be on its way.

There seems to be another date coming around that people are worked up about 11-11-11 but I honestly can’t figure out what it is about. I believe it has something to do with an asteroid.

I’m with the Mayans in that I believe in Nature and I believe in cycles. That fact is, even though we don’t care to think about it, we humans hang by a fine thread each and everyday. There are asteroids, earthquakes, volcanoes, famines, plagues, nuclear bombs and heaven only knows what lurking out there, just waiting to render us extinct. The painful truth is, the amount of time that this planet has provided an environment that is capable of supporting the human race as we know it is so tiny within the context of a 4.5 billion year old planet you would need a super computer to express it as a percentage. The number would be so tiny. I’m not good at math but I do know it would be a whole lot of zeros after that decimal.

The naked truth is we are an anomaly. There is little doubt in my mind that human life, if not all life will some day be wiped out. How and when I have no clue. It could be tomorrow or it could be another million or more years out.

Personally, I find the current financial and economic situation in which we find ourselves of much more immediate concern. I see the real possibility of a total collapse resulting in an end to life as we have come to know it. But, I have no crystal ball. I can’t predict anything other than things will go on as they are until they don’t. We may simply muddle through or not. Only time will tell.

I do advocate that everyone have some emergency supplies on hand for anything that might come down the pike, whether man made or Mother Nature. I’ll bet there were a lot of people wishing they were better prepared for last weeks snowstorm on the East Coast.

A friend of mine and I have made a small tradition that whenever there is an end of the world day we go out to lunch and eat a lot of not healthy but very delicious food. We figure if the world is going to end we ought to treat ourselves to a decadent “last supper”.  The way things are going so far this could turn into a hazardous to my health ritual.But, I'm loving it none-the-less.

My recommendation: Do whatever you can to prepare yourself for an emergency. Once you are satisfied you have done that go about your business and live each day to the fullest, you should be doing that in any event. Life is short under the best of circumstances.
©Kinsey Barnard

Join Koty and I at Facebook