More, You Say!

Scroll down for some pictures and bits about my personal life.

You can’t beat the view from my office. Unfortunately, I can’t sit around all day staring off at the mountains (except for several weeks during and after the Hi Meadow wildfire.) It is helpful, though, to watch the thunderstorms in the summer, so that I can plan for the power going out.

In memory of my husband Pete who left us much too soon. He was sufficiently Type-A to understand me, mellow enough to calm me down, and so nice that a little of that rubbed off on me. I miss his sense of humor, his patience, and his keen insight into human nature. He didn’t like to have his picture taken, so he can’t blame me for posting one of the embarrassing ones.

Click the arrows to scroll through the dog pix.

Working from home was pretty lonely until my Bernese Mountain Dogs joined the family. Berners are draft dogs in Switzerland — they pull milk carts. My dogs lead more of a life of leisure.They are great companions and very good footwarmers (sometimes headwarmers) during the winter.

If you’re thinking about getting one, be forewarned that the breeders are very fussy about their buyers, and rightly so. (Also, be sure to pronounce the breed correctly. It’s Bernese, not Burmese, which is how most people want to pronounce it.) You don’t buy a Berner. You must earn and pay dearly for the right to belong to one of these dogs. The dogs know this, so you have to be good to them or they will call the breeder and ask for a new owner.

Some working dogs! Shea slept on the job when he was supposed to be maintaining my computer equipment. Emma started work at the computer desk first thing in the morning and kept at it until late in the evening. In the summer, she would tell me when it was time to work at the table outside.

Maia and Cole do even less work and they can be overwhelmingly exuberant. However, combine cuteness with totally deserved nicknames like “The Love Sponge” and “Love Muffin”, they, of course, have me completely trained.

If you live in or come up to the mountains, try very hard to not be an idiot. Don’t throw cigarettes out of your car window! Don’t start fires outside when it’s really dry. We’ve lost more than 250,000 acres in the valley due to human carelessness and stupidity.

Buffalo Creek fire. 1996. Hi Meadow fire. 2000. Snaking fire. Black Mountain fire. Hayman fire. (137,000 acres and started by a Forest Service employee.) 2002. And dozens more since then.

Click the arrows to scroll through the fox and elk pix.

When we moved in, we inherited a friendly black fox. The den under the driveway is very popular with the foxy set, which ensures steady entertainment, despite the ever-watchful dogs. Having passed the test with the first fox, we were allowed to observe her training her kits. Watching her, we learned a lot about dog training – and I suspect that many parents could learn a lot about raising their brats from these foxes. However, the father fox only appeared in time for mating season – and hung around for the first six months of the litter. Then, Mom finished the training and chased the kits off in the fall. Men – do not try this at home.

A favorite of ours was the “pay attention” lesson. Mother fox would start digging in the soft dirt under the trees. The kits would come over to check it out, and start digging with her. (Parental lesson #1: make a chore seem like something fun, and you might convince your kids to it.) When the kits were engrossed, mother would back off about thirty feet, and then run full speed through the kits, knocking them over like bowling pins. The kits would get up, shake themselves off and try to figure out what EXACTLY had happened! After a few repetitions, the kits learned to look around while they dug holes.

The second summer, mother fox had three red kits and one black. These kits were brazen. The black kit would follow me around as I cleared deadfall on the property. They would lay around the yard while we sat outside. They teethed on our deck furniture. Now, here’s a fun fact. Yelling at fox kits on your deck will stop their behavior for, at most, 10 seconds. They just don’t care. But, a grating “ccchhhh” sound, like their mother being displeased, will stop them for about two minutes.

A pair of gray foxes moved in when the red foxes left. The gray foxes stayed together all year round. They weren’t as friendly, but you could count on two balls of fur curled up under the trees every morning. The second year of their tenure, they had four gray kits. The gray foxes became familiar enough to call for us when the coyotes were around. I would go out and chase the coyote off, the gray foxes right behind me barking, as if to say, “Yeah, see? Don’t mess with us. We’ve got peeps!”

Another red fox pair moved in. The dad was really skittish, but eventually got used to me. He had brilliant golden eyes with dark eyelids, so his gaze was piercing. He lived here for about 8 years — pretty good a fox in the wild — and long enough that he had two wives before he died.

Every so often, elk or deer will wander into the yard. The elk are bachelor elk and some of them are magnificent. They pose, looking handsome, and then move off regally. The deer are usually moms with fawns. I tried to grow flowers outside. Flowers and herbs are a favorite food of deer and various rodents. In order to have a vegetable and herb garden, I have to plant it in containers up on the balcony outside my bedroom.