Two cuties

Kyra watches Ollie quite a bit, and she often sends pictures of the two of them. Today’s was particularly good because, in her words, “This is the first time he’s smiling in the same picture as me!”

Last day on the water

Although it’s getting late in October, today’s weather was gorgeous. We accepted an invitation from our friends Gary and Susie to join them in a kayak expedition on Lindbergh Lake. The fall colors are in full swing, and the forest around the lake– and in fact in the entire area– is an incredible mix of evergreen and brilliant yellow larch.

The water was glassy smooth when we started, but the wind picked up and for the remaining three hours we were on the water, it was a bit choppy. But the sky was crystal blue without a cloud in sight, and all of us kept commenting on how beautiful the trees and lake were.

Lindbergh Lake is about four miles from end to end, so we went all the way down its length and then back again.

Afterward, we stopped for pizza at Rosa’s, making a great end to a great day.


I’m really enjoying this hobby of designing board games, and over the past few months I’ve been collecting a lot of bits ‘n pieces to use in new games. I bought a couple of “bead boxes” from Michael’s so I can use them to organize all of these little bits.

I’m now a fan of these four player colors, which are color-blind friendly:

I call this my Game Development Kit (GDK if you want to sound cool) and I’m excited to see what else I can do with it. I suppose it means a hobby is becoming more serious when you start having boxes full of things for it…

Fall colors on 35

We roll along highway 35 a lot, and now that we’re well into October, it’s becoming quite a pretty drive.

It’s not a great picture… I shot it by holding my phone out the window as Pepper sped along. Believe me when I say the fall colors are much more spectacular than what you see here.


It’s been a year and a half coming, but the Forest Service is finally out in the Flathead National Forest behind our house. After the windstorms a year and a half ago, there was a lot of timber down in the forest. Apparently it can be a serious fire hazard, so for almost a year we’ve heard of plans for the USFS to come in and remove the fallen trees. As of about a week ago, they’ve been running trucks and heavy equipment off in the distance. This evening we decided to see their progress.

Well, they’ve removed far more than just the fallen trees. Pepper and I hiked up into the hills and were shocked at how much they’ve removed. It’s almost like they’re clear-cutting the forest!

In their defense, it’s probably much easier to just clear an area than work around standing trees to remove those that are down. And when the forest is pretty thin (as it was after the storms), the remaining trees are much more vulnerable to future wind events. More to the point, I’m not a forest expert, so I’ll trust they know what they’re doing and in the long run this will be better for the forest.

After trudging across this barren, dusty landscape, it was nice to get a beautiful view of the lake in the evening sun.

End of the season

Well, it’s mid-October, and that means it’s getting a bit too chilly to be out on the lake. Sure, in our first few months in Montana we were more brave and went on the water around this time, but after a long summer with many opportunities to enjoy the lake, we decided it’s time to put our toys to bed. As it happens, today is a gorgeous day– with the sun shining and temperatures in the mid-60’s, we were tempted to take the jet skis out one last time. But instead we washed and winterized them. They’re looking pretty sharp:

We’ll cover them with a tarp and let them sit through the winter months. I’m looking forward to a warm spring day when we can take them out of hibernation…

Bits ‘n pieces

As I continue working on my latest board game, I’m glad I have a few boxes full of little game bits and pieces. Most of the games I really enjoy tend to have a gazillion pieces, so I figure it’s natural that the ones I design do too. Today I was testing the latest iteration of Terra Hexia, and it seemed to work pretty well. I snapped a few photos, so I can look back later (when the game is in a finished state?) and see the “rough draft”, so to speak…

Well, that stinks

About two weeks ago, I heard a bunch of ruckus somewhere in the rafters of our house. Somehow, a squirrel had managed to gnaw a hole into the eaves, which he used to get into the space between the ceiling and the roof. I’m pretty sure he was stockpiling pinecones and other goodies for the winter. Obviously that had to stop, so one day I went out and covered the hole with some chicken wire.

We continued to hear the ruckus for a few days, and wondered if there was another hole he’d found (or made). I circled the house, looking for anything big enough for a squirrel, but didn’t see any obvious holes. It was kind of annoying.

The ruckus died down, and we haven’t heard it for a week or so. Good news! He’d given up and was storing his stash somewhere in the forest, as all good squirrels should.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, when we came home from a trip to town and both said “Hoo boy, the house stinks!” When we walked in the door, there was a noticeable smell. I’m sure you know where this is going. It was the smell of a dead animal. Apparently I’d sealed off the hole with the squirrel still in the house, and he couldn’t get out! Hence the few days of ruckus, and its eventual cessation. The smell has become gradually stronger yesterday and now today.

And we were kind of at a loss about how to solve the actual problem. It was pretty clear he’d died somewhere in the rafters, but there’s no attic or other access to that part of the house. Maybe he was in the ductwork, although that would be tricky unless it was open somewhere. In any case, with the entire house smelling bad, it was impossible to narrow it down to a certain spot (“Aha, he’s behind that wall!”). It got to the point where we were seriously considering moving to the party house for a while.

Unsure what to do, we opened up the furnace to see if we could figure out whether the smell was indeed in the ducts, or if it was in the walls. And much to our joy (well, relatively speaking), we found the little guy inside the furnace. He didn’t look well.

I flung him out into the forest for some lucky bear to find, Pepper sprayed some peppermint oil into the furnace, and now we’re airing out the rest of the house. That’s great news, because if we hadn’t found him so easily, I shudder to think how long the house would’ve smelled as he slowly decomposed…