Another Use for Duct Tape

My highschool years were during the duct tape craze – Well, at least among homeschoolers there was a duct tape craze. I know about creative uses for duct tape, although I was never cool enough to do anything unconventional with the stuff. But this was one use I had definitely never seen before.
IMG_9552Dad brought this little guy home yesterday evening. He found him on our long driveway, nowhere near water, and with a pretty sizeable chunk of his shell broken. We don’t know where he came from or how he got there, or how his shell was broken, but some kind person had duct taped him up, and it looked like he was subsequently taped another time or two. Given how warped the chipped piece was, it looked like he’s grown some since the injury.  Overall he seemed like a pretty healthy dude.
IMG_9556IMG_9558Trixie didn’t know what to make of Mr. Turtle – She growled and put her ears back and looked all funny at him, but went along happily with Dad to dump him in what little water is left in the stock pond. He’ll be happy there.
IMG_9567Oh, the creative uses for duct tape.

Laura Elizabeth

 

Best Buddies

Everybody needs a friend who will just listen, without disagreeing or trying to “fix” everything. Poor Trixie is at that stage in life where she hears “no” and “no” and “no” more often than she hears anything else. But while our friends were out of town for a night and a day, Trixie had just the buddy she needed.
IMG_8989Cleo is a mature critter, compared with Ditsy Trixie, and actually kept Trixie in line for a day. Usually Trixie takes off at the first opportunity (or the first hint of boredom) and hightails it to a cabin-sized brushpile where rabbits live. Yesterday, though, she only ran off once, even though she was off leash for hours. I was impressed.
IMG_8964IMG_9002Those two pups were a hoot to watch. They ran pretty much without ceasing for probably two hours, stopping occasionally for a short breather, plopping down exhausted and panting, until Trixie would pester and Cleo would bolt. Then the games would resume. If they weren’t running, they were tussling, nipping at each other’s faces and feet and jumping all over each other.
IMG_8985IMG_8983One good thing we learned is that Trixie has almost no territorial instinct. While it would be nice to have a dog with some guard-dog tendencies, it is nice to know that she is entirely unaggressive. Our old dog, Baby, would actively protect her space. Somehow, Trixie has no space. Or no personal space. Or both.
IMG_9027The temperature was reading in the 90s, and those girls were still zipping around the yard, sometimes stopping for a dip in the pool, then dashing off again. Trixie plunged her whole self into her pool, submerging her face and blowing bubbles. Cleo was much more dainty and ladylike.
IMG_9038During one of their “breathers,” I got this series of photos where they look like they are laughing uproariously. Every time I look at the pictures, I can’t help but giggle!
IMG_8971IMG_8970IMG_8968I always enjoy watching animals interact with one another. Whether it is watching calves playing on dirt piles, or horses frisking around a pasture, or laughing at the dog and cats as they try to work out their differences, or watching these two pups tear around the yard, I love seeing the interactions of God’s creatures. What a marvelous Creation God has placed us in!

Laura Elizabeth

Bats in the Miner’s Cabin

I love bats. Such tiny, mysterious little creatures, with their furry little bodies and leathery little wings, and little pointed ears. Unfortunately, I think the heat may have gotten to our bat population today. I saw one out in the heat of midday, which is almost unheard of, and then I found two babies as they fell out of their roost. By the time I had come back with gloves and my camera, they had died, presumably from the heat. Hopefully not from a bad disease. IMG_6913

Tonight in the Miner’s Cabin, there was a high-pitched squeaking and an occasional scrabbling sound coming from outside. When I went out to look, there was a baby bat clinging above the window, sometimes retreating into a crack above the window frame, and adult bats swooped around, sometimes coming to rest right near the baby. I’m afraid I agitated them a little bit in my admiration, since they swooped closer and closer to my head! They didn’t seem to appreciate my presence.

Judging from the number of adult bats and the squeaking, I’d say we have a bat nursery in our Miner’s Cabin! I can think of a handful of people who might not think this is such a nice thing. But I have no complaints.

Laura Elizabeth

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Happiness is…

To each his own, of course. Some prefer the bustle (chaos) of city living, or even the quiet bustle of town life. Some prefer the opportunities that come with living in the city, the close grocery stores, coffee shops, entertainment, the arts, etc. Some would be bored by what I consider to be the perfect pace of living. I recently had someone ask me what I do for fun. I kind of realized that just about all I do for fun is hiking. That, and photography and writing. I suppose some would be extremely bored by this.
Chives in the GardenThe Hills are in a state of perfection at sunset. Kashka followed me around as I snapped pictures of the cattle that Jack brought out for the summer, of the glowing poppies finally blooming in the overgrown garden, and of the chives which were neglected and left to head out. We’ve had a busy spring, and the garden unfortunately doesn’t weed or plant or prune itself.
Bully BoyThe cows contentedly grazed and watched me back as I watched them, and one of the cows headed straight towards me, like she wanted to say hello.  The little bull calves, like this one, were skittish but curious. The cows are in the pasture closest to the cabin, so we can hear them calling to each other, and can smell the warm, sweet odor, which I love.
Poppies at SunsetThe Kashka-Cat is a darling. She loves to be underfoot, in the way, and around “her people.” She and Luna make themselves scarce when we have company, but she and her brother are quite the life of the party when it is just the family. I worked on my Bible reading in the Miner’s Cabin before I went to get Anna from work and, true to form, Kashka roamed around the cabin for a good little while, finally ending up on the sofa with me. There is nothing quite like the company of a cat.
IMG_4153Happiness is a cabin, a camera, and the company of a cat. Perfection.

Laura Elizabeth

Snow and Springtime

IMG_8490Winter blew back in overnight a day and a half ago, and on the third day of spring we had four or so inches of snow, a wonderful, heavy, wet snow that cloaked every branch of every tree, every fence post, every roof and rock and hill, every little green and growing thing still clinging close to the ground. Hard to believe that four days ago we had temperatures in the 60s and 70s and were hiking to Hole-in-the-Wall without coats or mittens or snow boots!

Across the snow-covered pastures, on the sheltering hillsides, the Ponderosa pine trees were silver-blue in their wintry cloaks. Deer, startled up, fled silently through the silent trees. Wind had painted ripples into the blanketing white. But the recent spring-like temperatures had already warmed the ground, and our red-dirt driveway was muddy and mostly melted by noon, in spite of the chill day.

IMG_8558The little Kashka cat was moody and desperate, as soon as the snow began to melt. She didn’t seem to mind the dry snow, but she regarded the wet snow with unmasked disdain. She isn’t a particularly vocal cat – In fact, she seems somewhat limited in her vocal expression, sometimes opening her mouth but only producing a breathy squeak. But yesterday, she was whining and moaning and complaining and grumbling as she traipsed through the snow, and shook off her little paws in a futile effort to keep them dry. Her good-for-nothing, lazy brother was, of course, nowhere to be found. I’m sure he was holed up somewhere, dry and comfortable and warm.

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I love how the snow completely transforms a landscape, insulates it, hushes it, and the whole world seems to glow with a gleaming, blinding brightness, even beneath a heavy-clouded sky. Simple things take on a new dimension. The same hillsides and meadows and roads shimmer with an ephemeral enchantment, an enchantment that can break within a matter of hours. 

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Sarah and I took to the snow at 10:00 last night, to ramble in what was likely the last snowfall this season to be lit by a full moon. Never waste a moonlit snow! The sky was crystal clear, and there was the faintest nimbus around the orb of the moon. The brightest stars flickered in the inky blue sky. Orion and Cassiopeia, and a strange bright star we’ve identified before but whose name I can’t remember. Scrambling up deadfall-strewn hillsides to chase the moonlight, slipping and sliding into ravines, dropping flat to make a snow angel, eating snow off the needles of sapling pine trees, stopping every now and again to listen for coyotes, losing track of the time – I could have stayed out all night in that enchanted moonlit snow. 

IMG_8536In this shifting of seasons, in the sunshine and the snow, in the change and transformation from month to month, the summer birds begin to arrive with nesting on their minds, and the first insects start to hum and sing. The first of the green things shoot up from the warming earth, and rumors of pasque flowers are whispered. Snow may hide the signs for a day or two, but the seasons will fly on. Springtime is here! 

Laura Elizabeth

Blue Skies and Dirt Trails

Harney Peak Trail #4What a delight, when winter temperatures soar into the 60s and 70s under blue skies and warm sun! Waking up to 10 degree temperatures and gentle snowfall this morning, it is hard to believe that we enjoyed a summery hike last Saturday. Like many other residents of the Black Hills, Roy, Jessie and I spent the afternoon soaking up the springtime weather beneath Harney Peak. There was still ice on Sylvan Lake and snow in the shadowed places, but there wasn’t a hint of chill in the air.

Harney Peak Trail #4All around Harney Peak, there is a web of trails wending through the Black Elk Wilderness and Custer State Park, beautiful scenic spurs with gorgeous, soaring vistas and haunting hollows. We have all hiked Harney Peak a number of times, but some of the spurs were new to us, or at least new to me. Trail #9 is the most common way to reach the Peak, but Trail #4 is a little more rugged, less up-kept, and affords lovely views of the towering Cathedral Spires, as well as a lively scramble to the top of Little Devil’s Tower.

Harney Peak Trail #4For some of the little climb to Little Devil’s Tower, it was cumbersome having my camera bag slung over my shoulder, but worth it for the views at the top! The Harney Peak fire lookout looked doll-sized, and the dozens of people in and around the fire tower weren’t even visible. We could see Custer, like a map, spread out in the southwest, and we could see Rapid City to the northeast, sprawling and minuscule, with the Badlands barely visible in the distant haze. The hills dropped away, an alluring blue, fading and dimming as the distance grew.

Harney Peak Trail #4On the Cathedral Spires trail, we could see mountain goats sunning on the tops of rocks, far enough away that it just about maxed out my zoom lens. Such awkward looking creatures, yet so graceful and sure-footed! The first time I hiked Trail #4, we saw some up-close goats. It would have been fun to see a few up-close on the trail, but there were enough hikers with their companionable canines, the goats probably were more comfortable high up and out of the way.

Harney Peak Trail #4Such beautiful country to wander, and what clear, fresh air to breath deep of, to drink in, to soak up. Mica glittered dazzlingly in the trail dust, granite spires soared into the sky, pines grew precariously from any cleft of rock, and the aspens shimmered pale and silver in the warm sunshine, in a sea of golden grass.

Winter isn’t over in the Hills just yet. But almost. Spring is just around the corner.

Laura Elizabeth