Friday, March 30, 2007

I am writing from the Hampton Inn in Kalispel, Montana. The antibiotics are working. I could feel my temperature start to fall as we drove north yesterday afternoon and last night was a near feverless night. Now I just have to get my strength back. We will arrive in Golden, British Columbia late this afternoon and as long as the weather cooperates we will jump on the helicopter early tomorrow morning. We're going skiing!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It has been a weird week so far. We leave tomorrow for Golden, B.C. to do the "Grand Traverse" and I should have spent at least part of my time getting everything ready to go. Instead I have been lying on the couch alternately shivering and sweating. On Sunday we went over to Red Lodge for brunch and a short hike afterward. On the way home I started feeling the chills that come with a fever. My immediate thought was "thank heavens I am getting the flu now and not the day before we leave!" As the day progressed and the fever worsened I realized it just didn't feel like the flu to me but I still hoped it would pass within a day or two. I went into Guild in Cody Monday night even though I knew it was stupid and pretty much felt like crap the whole time. My balloon took first place in the quilted, non-quilt division of the challenge but even that didn't make me feel better. Tuesday was ugly with my temperature running about 104 most of the day and showing no signs of improving. I told Ken if I wasn't better by this morning I was going into Cody to the Clinic. He tried to talk me out of it but by now I had decided I wasn't getting over this without some help. I had a horrible night last night and so headed to Cody this morning. He had to drive me because I couldn't stop shivering and I was glad he did because the roads were horrible. We are having our annual March snowstorm, even though the temps have been in the 70's for the last few weeks, and they are predicting up to two feet of snow tonight. Once I got into the clinic the Doctor told me she was pretty sure I had the good old influenza. The amazing thing is they can take a nose swab and know almost right away if that is the case. I told her I had been thinking about it a lot over the last few days and have come to the conclusion that I have cat scratch fever. I am sure Doctors hate patients who self diagnose but I didn't tell her I had already ruled out some very real possibilities based on my activities this last week. I could easily have been exposed to lyme disease, spider bite, hanta virus or west nile but this didn't feel like any of those to me. She took the swab and left me to shiver for about 20 minutes. When she came back in she had obvious surprise in her voice as she informed me my test was negative for influenza. So I am being treated for cat scratch fever. We are planning on leaving tomorrow morning if I can pull myself together enough to get packed. I will have to make the final decision on go or no-go by the Saturday helicopter flight. After that I am stuck back in the wilderness for 8 days without an escape so I will hope the antibiotics do the trick.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I have had fun this last week creating a doll for Airus, Cindy St. Charles' grandson. When I mentioned at the last WAV meeting that I was planning on making a doll for Carol's about-to-be-born son, Cindy commented that it is hard to find boy dolls. That made me think I should make two: one for the newborn and one for Airus. The dolls are huge. I hope they don't scare the boys to death! I have a vague memory of a bunny rabbit I used to drag around as a child. The real appeal of the creature to me was its large size. Of course I looked at it years later and realized it was actually pretty small but at the time it was a thrill to have a playmate as big as I was. One of the really fun parts was creating silk screens for the dolls' t-shirts. Airus gets the "A" and an airplane; Carols' baby Brett gets a "B" and a boat.
Tonight is Paintbrush Piecers Quilt Guild in Cody and we will finally get to reveal our challenge projects - in my case the hot air balloon. I will also present the challenge for next year which I think will be fun but I suspect will scare a lot of people away. We are not insisting on any fabric choice this year. Instead, people will receive three pieces of paper labeled "adjective", "noun" and "verb". They are to come up with any word they want that fits the category and then we will put all the adjectives in one box, all the nouns in another and all the verbs in a third. People then get to draw one slip from each box and the resulting sentence will be their challenge theme. For example, you might end up with "Pink dancing elephant" or "Slippery jumping cactus". It should be interesting.
The coyotes went through this morning. They have been scarce the last few weeks and we have only seen one wolf track since the female was collared last month. We did run into the State Wolf Management guy and he said they were disappointed to discover that our wolf seems to be a loner and not a member of the Beartooth Pack as they had hoped.
I mentioned in my last post that the bluebirds are back. Here are some other signs of spring I noticed this week:
* First Meadowlark
* First Douglasia
* Sand Hill Cranes
* Frank the cat wanting out at 6 am to chase rabbits
* Said rabbits building nests everywhere
* Ken pouring over maps as he plots hiking trips
* Daffodils blooming in the garden
We leave Thursday for our ski trip. This should be interesting as it is the first time they have attempted what they are calling the "Grand Traverse". Only one other person was fool enough to sign up so there will be 3 clients, two guides, a cook, the two new owners of the company and their two teenage sons and a videographer. Apparently they are convinced this could be a great trip for them in the future so they are going to film the whole thing. We have actually been sent "Model Releases"to sign saying they can use our images in a documentary or advertisement or about anything else. I just plan on enjoying myself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Well, now I know spring is officially here. We finally had our first Search and Rescue call of the year yesterday. In the 30 or so years Park County SAR has been in action this has been the longest stretch on record without a call. Don't get me wrong - we don't wish for people to be hurt - but a little lost now and then would be nice! After all, we train for many, many hours to handle all sorts of situations and it can get kind of frustrating when we don't get to use our skills in real-life situations. Ironically our group has more members right now than at any other time in its history as well. Almost half our current members had never been on a call before yesterday. The other funny thing about yesterday's event is that it would have had us shaking our heads during the busy season but since we were all so anxious for any kind of action we were ready to kiss the guy (and his dog) once we got them out of the canyon. A couple were out walking their 16 year old dog along the edge of the Shoshone River Canyon near Cody when the dog slipped and fell down the bank. The man went down after the dog and then realized he couldn't get back up the steep rocky slope so he yelled to his wife who called 911 on her cell phone. Ken and I were among the last to arrive because of the distance we had to travel from our place but we still got to participate in the final rope hauling of our team member who had rappelled down and the subject who he was helping up the hill. We probably could have done the whole thing without ropes but there was obviously no emergency and we enjoyed the practice. One of our guys just walked down and picked up the dog and carried it back up. The only injury was to the dog who cut his front leg in his fall. The man should have been able to get up the slope on his own but was severely hampered by being overweight and out of shape.
Maybe the dam has been broken now and we will start to get some more calls. The weather is certainly nice enough to lure more people outside. The bluebirds have arrived back at our place and one pair was even showing signs of moving into the sparrow hawk nesting box. That is probably not a good decision as I suspect the kestrels will be back any day now.
I need to get to work on some dolls I am making. Our fellow WAV member, Carol had her little boy last night and we will be holding the baby shower soon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cooke City should have been renamed "Cooked" City this weekend as the temperatures soared. We met our friend Peter and his wife Kate in Cooke on Friday morning and loaded all the skis and gear into the sled. They then hopped on the back of our snow machines and the four of us made our way up the mountains in search of some good snow for skiing. There was no shortage of the white stuff but the sun and wind have done their thing and the idea of finding anything resembling powder was a dream. We got a couple of runs in but spent much of our time slogging uphill fighting the wind blowing in the warmer weather. On Saturday we got up to blue skis and balmy weather. Much of the snow in Cooke itself has melted off and we were riding over pavement to reach better sledding. We had a little better luck finding some good snow and we discovered some slopes that will be great when we come back next year in better conditions. We headed home Saturday evening feeling tired and sunburned and glad we made the effort. I feel a little more tuned up for our "Grand Traverse" trip to British Columbia in a few weeks. It will be hard to get the mind set right though - it was almost 80 degrees F when we got back to our place!
On Sunday I met Jeannie at the highway and we headed to Billings for the monthly WAV meeting. I wore my new outfit that I made last week. The pants are from a Butterick pattern and are made from my hand-dyed rayon. They started out a lighter shade of mottled purple but I found when I sewed them together that I had a big white patch right on the left cheek so I over-dyed them to the darker shade once I got them constructed. The shirt is my original pattern and is made from my hand-dyed raw silk and haboti silk cords. It came about because I was looking at some photos of outlandish jewelry in a fashion magazine the last time I had my hair cut. I thought it might be fun to design some clothing that had the "jewelry" built right in. I dyed a bunch of silk cording different colors and attached it at the neck line. The closure is at the side of the neck and the cords go right around and fall to the front. There are small beads attached at the end of each cord. Once I finished the top it looked too loose so I added a matching belt to give it a little shape. I have ideas for several other built-in jewelry tops that I hope to work on in the next little while.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Whoever started the story about babies being delivered by storks obviously never took a good look at the birds. Any baby catching sight of that leathery bald head would surely be traumatized for life. One of my favorite things about visiting Florida is observing the bird life. That and getting to spend time with my mom and dad, of course! The weather in Bradenton this last week was perfect. Hot but not overly so during the day, cool enough for a light jacket in the evenings and comfortable sleeping without heat or air conditioning. The spoonbills cooperated by showing up to have their pictures taken almost every day. Ken took a bunch of great shots including this one showing the wonderful gold strip at the end of the tail. I love the way it matches the hibiscus in the background.
Mom and I took in the Sarasota Quilt Show on Saturday and it was really fun to see work by a group of artists with whom I was unfamiliar. It was also nice to note that the quality of work was similar to that of Wyoming artists so being somewhat isolated doesn't seem to have any adverse effects on the development of western quilters.
We got home on Monday to find spring had arrived. The temperature in Billings was 75 F although it has cooled down some since. It is supposed to warm right back up this weekend but we are headed to Cooke City for two days of back-country skiing with some friends so I hope it doesn't get too warm in the mountains. My ankle is still pretty painful but I think the hard shelled ski boot will provide enough support to make skiing possible.
We will get back late Saturday night and then on Sunday we have our monthly WAV meeting in Billings so it is going to be a busy weekend.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

A couple days ago Ken asked me if I would consider going up to the Beartooths on Saturday with the snowmobiles to search out some potential new spots for backcountry skiing. While it is not my favorite way to spend a day, it is nice to see the area in winter. Besides, my ankle is still too sore to run on and sitting on a snow machine is an activity that doesn't require me to put any weight on the joint. What we didn't know when we made the decision was that Saturday was the day the local snowmobile association was hosting the annual ride for the entire state. The Beartooths are usually much quieter that Cooke City because the area is so much larger and because, even though just a few miles apart, the snowpack is often thinner on the Wyoming side. Instead we arrived to find about 70 snow machines at the warming hut including several friends from Search and Rescue. Bill immediately took us under his wing as the rookies in the group. Bill is our SAR pilot. He is not much help when it comes to anything involving physical activity but put him in a plane or on a snow machine and he can out-perform the best of them. There must be something about me that shows my newness to the "sport" because just after we arrived a lady from Cody came up and asked if she and her husband could ride with us because she does not feel comfortable on the machines. We spent the morning riding around some of the areas where we camp in the summer months. I got stuck twice and the second time it took about a half hour and a whole lot of effort on everyone's part to get my machine out. This is exactly the kind of snowmobiling I dislike. The lady from Cody didn't even attempt to leave the trail and told me she really was not having fun. It seemed clear she was along only because her husband insisted. In the afternoon Ken and I told the others we were going to do what we came up for in the first place and the other three decided to tag along. We found a couple good slopes that should make for nice skiing under the right conditions. Bill talked us into going to the Deep Lake overlook after that and I didn't mind a bit because it is one of my favorite summer destinations. We ran into some really tricky conditions once we got there and at that point we were probably at least 10 miles from most of the riders. That is the problem with snow machines. It is not that they are inherently unsafe; it is that any mistake has huge and potentially life-threatening consequences. We all managed to get through it okay but at one point Ken and Bill had gone ahead and the lady from Cody got her machine stuck. Her husband and I struggled through the waist deep snow to reach her and all of a sudden he starts screaming at her that she is so stupid he can't believe it and swearing at her about how useless she is in general. I was speechless as I waited for her to snap back at him that the only reason she was here was to please him and I was totally appalled when she she didn't and instead I saw this resigned and defeated look on her face. It was obvious this was not an unusual reaction from him and her acceptance of it made me hurt inside. We pulled her out and joined Bill and Ken but my day was pretty much ruined at that point. We got back to the warming hut with about two gallons of gas to spare so headed down the hill and back to the car.
This morning I spent some time making silk screens of Adrinkra symbols. This is a graphic language from Ghana and I want to incorporate some of the symbols into a small quilt dealing with the stages in a woman's life.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

I have always had a weak right ankle. Periodically throughout my life it has turned on me; usually when I least expect it. It has been a few years since I twisted it so I was surprised to find myself sitting on the ground clutching it during a run two weeks ago. I limped around and babied it for a few days and forgot all about it. Then on yesterday's run it happened again and I could tell this one was really going to hurt. I was a couple miles from the house and I had to get to Billings so I finished my run and jumped in the car. By the time I arrived in Billings almost two hours later I realized I was going to have a hard time even getting from the car to my destination. I had a half dozen stops to make and it seemed like I couldn't park closer than three blocks away from any of them! When I got home last night after another two hours of driving I couldn't put any weight on the ankle and it was the size of a grapefruit and very colorful. The photo was taken this morning after a night of ice, Advil and rest. It is looking better than yesterday but is still very painful and I don't think I will be running for a few days. We have Search and Rescue Training in Cody this evening so I will test it out in the Rec. Center pool and try to get my workout there instead of on the trail. I guess I will be the record keeper during training as we are scheduled for a night of Deductive (ded) reckoning which usually entails quite a bit of walking. I just hope we don't get a Search and Rescue call during the next few days!