26 March 2014

Recognizing Grief Grieving for a lost loved one.

Today I have a guest writer, my favorite person in all the world, Kinsey Barnard. She made me say that!!!! I do like this article because it portends nothing but good things for moi. Let's here it for good grief!

I don’t have a lot of experience with grief. I have been fortunate in my life not to have lost very many people close to me. I have lost my parents and that’s it. I have no siblings and my closest and dearest friends are all alive and well. Losing my parents was hard, particularly my mother who was also my best friend. She spent ten long years fading away with Alzheimer’s and passed away August 7, 2002. She was 89. I still grieve for her but in a healthy way. Following her death I made many wonderful changes to my life. Not the least of which was moving to Montana.

I hadn’t lost anyone I loved for over ten years when on February 4, 2013 I lost my best friend and constant companion, Siberian Husky, LAKOTA SUNRISE aka Koty. Koty came to me at eight weeks old and we were constant companions from that time forward. Everything I experienced he experienced. He was by my side for nearly every single photograph I took during his lifetime. To say we were close would not nearly describe it, we were one. LAKOTA SUNRISE OCTOBER 1,1999 - FEBRUARY 4, 2013.

I knew, of course, that losing him would be painful but I was raised on a ranch with animals where life and death is a way of life. People used to tell me “You are really going to be messed up when Koty goes”. I always said “Yes, it will be difficult but I’ll be fine”.

Thirteen months later and I just realized I haven’t been fine at all. I really did get “messed up” and didn’t even recognize it. Sure, I got all teary eyed when I thought of Koty or saw his photograph but that was to be expected. I thought I was coping just fine. What I didn’t see  were lifestyle changes that were not healthy. Before Koty died I was nearly always on an endorphin high. I was so happy all the time I’m sure some people found me quite annoying. I was so bubbly I sometimes annoyed myself.

I just now realized I haven’t been myself at all. For example; I took not one trip in Clementine, the RV, in 2013. Koty and I customarily took several trips each year, a couple of them six months in duration. We hiked nearly every single day unless the weather was too harsh. By my guesstimate, we hiked at least 1,000 miles every year. This past year I am lucky if I hiked 100. That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration but not by much. Since I take the most of my photographs whilst hiking, my photography suffered as well.

This winter I declared the weather too harsh a majority of the time preferring instead to lie on the couch, by the fire, reading a book (Love that Kindle) and eating trail mix. Hey, if I wasn’t on the trail I could at least eat like it.  I think I need not explain how that worked out. To put the cherry on top, I qualified for Medicare in January. There may be a little grieving for my mortality going on as well. I mean, 65?! There must be some mistake. Am I really that close to the end of my runway? Say it isn’t so!

Not long after Lakota crossed over that Rainbow Bridge I did find a replacement companion. I knew there could never be another Siberian for me. Lakota was one in a million. I chose instead a breed I grew up with on the family ranch, an Australian Shepard. Her name is MOLLY MONTANA She is Montana born and bred.

Molly is as bright as a penny and takes the concept of “high energy” dog to a new level. She is also quite sensitive and perceptive. I believe she is aware that she has not been getting the best of me. We’re going to fix that. Lakota was my role model for joie de vivre. The job now falls to Molly. She is the perfect successor and with each passing day we grow closer. The day is sure to  come when we too are one.

I’m a big fan of the idea that you can’t fix a thing until you recognize it’s broken. And, although I don’t see myself as broken, I certainly own up to being in need of some repair. If my runway is getting short, and it is, I’m getting busy. I’m climbing back in the saddle so to speak. I’m working out in the gym doing intense aerobics for 50 minutes four to five times a week and walking 45 minutes to an hour everyday. In addition to the walks Molly is getting twenty minute Frisbee tosses two to three times per day for her aerobics. When the weather breaks we’ll be getting our exercise on the trail again.

I’ve been on this new regimen ten days now and already feel one hundred percent better. There are many wonderful things that come from exercise, not the least of which is; the more you do the more you want to do. Bring on those endorphin highs! We’re planning a photo safari for this spring, that is if spring ever gets here, it’s been pretty wonky so far. Just contemplating it is getting me energized. I’m thinking St. Mary’s. It’s a spring favorite.

Molly & me (not grammatically correct but I like the sound of it) are ramping up for a wonderful year. As they say, better late than never. Time’s awastin’.

WARNING: If you should run into us on the trail or around the Flathead Valley be very careful. We could accidentally bowl you right over with our irrational exuberance!

Be sure and check out Kinsey's new blog The Liberated Photographer.

©Kinsey Barnard

So there you have it. Looks like my spring and summer are going to be the bomb! I'm going to make sure she keeps her exercise routine on schedule and up to date. Whee, I can't wait for my first RV trip!

Molly Montana

09 March 2014

Spring storms in Montana very exciting.

Seems like spring IS on the way but man is it making a mess of things! Warm temperatures are melting the snow pack and rain is adding to the run-off.

Poor Kinsey was really having a time of it yesterday. Where she had stacked the snow had blocked proper drainage and pushed the water off down the drive. Then the rain came and tons of water took off down the drive eroding deep trenches. The ground is now totally saturated. The water keeps running and the trenches grow ever deeper. Normally, the snow melts slowly and we don't have rain. It's kind of like a perfect storm break-up.

Kinsey was out trying to figure a way to help divert the water. Problem is, the ground is still frozen and the normal channels are filled with snow and ice. Kinsey took after the ice with pick and shovel trying to dig the channels out. Whacking away she covered herself in ice and mud. The poor dear, I thought she was going to give herself a heart attack from the effort.

And, what was I doing all the while she toiled? Well, I was catching the Frisbee. God bless her, Kinsey would stop to toss the thing each time I brought it to her. I am getting so good. I can catch the thing over my shoulder, running away from it. And jump? My goodness golly, can I jump! I wish there were someone around that could throw the Frisbee whilst Kinsey photographed me because really I do some amazing things that should be captured. Maybe in the better weather.

I did reward her kindness. Whilst we were out some deer came ambling through up the hill. I took off like a rocket when I saw them. Kinsey hollered "STOP!" and I did. I came right back to her. She loves it when I do stuff like that and I love to make her happy.

Molly Montana

Be sure and check out Kinsey's new blog The Liberated Photographer.

05 March 2014

Spring fever is in the air in Montana

Is spring around the corner? Sure would be nice if it was. This has been quite a winter, although not nearly as severe as other parts of the country.

It's not that I mind the cold but Kinsey certainly isn't as keen to do stuff when it's 5 degrees. And, she's been shoveling and plowing like a mad woman.  The past few days we've had around a foot and a half of snow.  There was so much snow on the drive it was hard to push and the banks were several feet high. The car will barely fit in the slot.

Now it has suddenly turned very warm and it's raining. With all this snow to melt it's going to be a really big, sloppy, icy mess. I've already made myself popular by going out and digging in a muddy patch I found.

Kinsey has been totally consumed with her photography. I mean it's almost as if I don't exist sometimes. Not really, I do crave a lot of attention and I have had to compete. She has been working to get her website just the way she wants it in time for an ad she will have coming out in Flathead Living this month. I've pasted a copy of the ad below. Looks pretty good. I'm a little disappointed she's using a photo with Lakota in it. I must admit it's a great picture. I know I'll get my chance.

I have also heard her mumbling about going over to St. Mary's this spring. Now this I find exciting. I've never been. St. Mary's is on the Blackfeet Reservation at the East entrance to Glacier National Park. Kinsey is more interested in the reservation. The painted ponies have their foals in the spring and she loves to see and photograph them. She finds the reservation a mystical place.

So, is spring around the corner? I certainly hope so. I'm ready.

Be sure and check out Kinsey's new blog The Liberated Photographer.

©Kinsey Barnard