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John was walking toward me down the hallway of our single-wide mansion and he did a double take look out the window then said with a weird tone: “Come look at this.”

And this is what we saw:

A bullsnake climbing our 6-foot tall fence.

A bullsnake climbing our 6-foot tall fence.

a 5-1/2-foot long bull snake at the top of our 6-foot fence … headed toward the house. Yeah, that’s not freaky at all.

Endlessly fascinated with nature in its boundless creepiness (as well as its beauty and power and blah blah blah, insert your own descriptive here), I recorded as much as possible with my trusty auto-zoom camera … which didn’t always work that great.

Of course, the bull snake wasn’t happy with the audience, so he turned around and headed toward the shop at the other end of the fence line. Like that was going to get rid of me.

It managed to loop back on itself without falling off.

It managed to loop back on itself without falling off.

And, really, I thought this was the coolest thing to see this bull snake maneuvering itself on that thin wire, in perfect balance.

And, really, I thought this was the coolest thing to see this bull snake maneuvering itself on that thin wire, in perfect balance.

When the snake got to the shop, it didn’t lower its head once. It knew what it wanted: Up.

And up it went.

And up it went — about 3 feet up to the top of the roof of John’s shop.

And this series of photos shows the coolest thing that snake did -- redefining upward mobility.

This series of photos shows the actual coolest thing that snake did — redefining upward mobility.

Very little of its body was still pushing from the wire fence.

Very little of its body was still pushing from the wire fence.

Very little of the snake was actually on the roof when it finally let go of the fence. This is just the first of those photos that is actually in focus.

And very little of its body was actually gripping the roof when it finally let go of the fence.

You can almost hear it grunting.

You can almost hear it grunting.

Cool, quiet concentration.

Cool, quiet concentration in the face of hard labor.

This is the view from inside the house, through the window screen. The snake rested here for quite a while.

This is the view from inside the house, through the window screen. The snake rested here for quite a while.

Then the snake headed over the peak of the roof.

Then it headed over the peak of the roof …

to grab hold of the one branch i left within reach of the roof when I was up there trimming tree limbs. the week before.

to grab hold of the one tree limb I left within reach of the roof when I was up there trimming limbs — just the week before. And, yes, I’m glad I had NOT seen this first.

At this point, the bull snake was cleary on a mission.

At this point, the bull snake was clearly on a mission …

snaking its way up the limb. (Pardon the pun.)

snaking its way up the limb. (Pardon the pun.)

If you enlarge the next photo, you might be able to figure out exactly why a snake would climb a tree.

Can you spy with your little eye the foes both lurking in the leaves?

Can you spy with your little eye the two foes lurking among the leaves?

Yes, the bull snake was in the tree to hunt bird nests for a snack of eggs, or perhaps helpless hatchlings. That’s a robin sitting in the tree, softly chirp. chirp. chirp. chirping. Beware the snake in the tree.

 

Foes clearly marked for the visually challenged.

Foes clearly marked for the visually challenged.

It was trying to lure the snake to the wrong part of the tree. And it worked. At first.

You can't see the robin, but it's luring the snake down the wrong path -- kind of an ironic twist of fate, biblically speaking, and if you've ever seen the Disney cartoon of "Robinhood." Not that those two stories are related, I was just ... what were we talking about?

Here it is again, luring the snake down the wrong path — kind of an ironic twist of fate for the snake, biblically speaking, and if you’ve ever seen the Disney cartoon of “Robinhood.” Not that those two stories are related, I was just … what were we talking about?

Maybe I'll try another limb of this branch of the tree, snake says.

“Maybe I’ll try another limb of this branch of the tree,” snake said.

And he's searching.

And it was searching.

And he's searching ...

And was searching …

and it's searching.

and searching.

Wait a minute, I think that fucking bird has been leading me on, snake said.

And … “Wait a minute,” snake said, “I think that fucking bird has been leading me on.”

Screw you, Red Breast, I'm going down another branch, going with my gut, following my instincts, and there ain't nothing you can do about it.

“Screw you, Red Breast, I’m going down another branch, going with my gut, following my instincts, and there ain’t nothing you can do about it.”

And snake was right. Robin Red Breast's fluttering attack was no deterent for the symbol of evil.

And snake was right. Robin Red Breast’s fluttering attack was no deterrent for the scaly skinned symbol of evil.

And so snake traveled his own road, closely watched by a worried robin.

And so snake travelled its own road, closely watched by a worried robin.

And when that road turned out to be a dead end, snake casually turned around, telling the robin that it had meant to do that.

And when that road turned out to be a dead end, snake casually turned around, telling the robin “I meant to do that.”

Aw, but look how happy it looks to have found a proper "tree branch highway" to more lucrative hunting grounds.

Aw, but look how happy snake looks to have found a proper tree branch “highway” to more lucrative hunting grounds.

And it's whistling a merry tune.

And it whistled a merry tune.

And it's slowing down.

And then it slowed down.

And it's stopping.

And it stopped.

And it's thinking blondie with the camera is a bit freaky and obsession with the picture taking.

And it thought that blondie with the camera looked a bit freaky and obsessive with the picture taking.

Ultimtely, I manage to do what the robin couldn't, scare the snake away. I was not surprised that I had this effect on the snake, I repell humans daily, with less effort. It's a gift.

Ultimately, I managed to do what the robin couldn’t: scare the snake away. I was not surprised that I had this effect on the snake. I repel humans daily, with less effort. It’s a gift.

I left the snake alone for a while, to do the thing its nature was compelling it to do: hunt. eat. hiss in peace. That was altruistic of me, er, um, plus it was time for my own supper so that worked out alright for both of us, though not the robin so much, and for that I’m sorry that Nature is cruel. I’m also thankful that I had chicken fajitas for supper and not robin hatchlings. I hope the chicken wasn’t a cousin, that would be a lot of tragedy for one family in a day.

I did see the snake once more.

It was on a branch known to house a robin nest.

It was on a branch known to house a robin nest.

It looked content.

It looked content.

The robin was nowhere to be found at: pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

I’ve been fencing, and fencing, and fencing, and all the other shinola required to facilitate fencing, and even pulling down some old fencing … and not one whit or a jot of this has dinky-do to do with utilizing my epee (what? doesn’t everybody own an epee?).

Tiger salamander in search of a pond.

But this morning I headed out to tackle a few more posts only to discover this little guy. A tiger salamander. He was in pretty rough shape and out of his normal element, but I think I pieced together enough evidence to figure out his story. I bet he went walkabout Thursday or Friday, when it was raining here, but took a tumble into one of the fence post holes, then I inadvertently shoveled him out today and unceremoniously dumped him into a heap of dirt.

He crawled out of the dirt pile, but I don’t think he had much more effort in him than that. His skin was dry and peeling, he was covered in dirt (even his little protruding eyeballs), and he was listless. Fortunately, I had some water and a bucket with me so I scooped him up with the shovel, eased him into the bucket and gave him a shallow layer of water.

I took him to the house to show John and grab the camera (hoping the little guy would rally — I really didn’t want to photograph a salamander carcass). He freshened up pretty quickly so I took him back to the place I found him, for a second shot at freedom and a short photo shoot.

This is his pouty look. We tried both cute and sexy, but the light wasn’t right and the mood was all wrong, understandable considering the time of day and his recent brush with death and all.

I hope he gets cleaned up before he gets home. He troops into the house like that and his wife’s gonna beat him, fo’ sho’.

I told him to clean his whole self up, but look at him with his dirty head and grit still sticking around his eyeballs. I bet he didn’t bother to wash behind his ears either.

Can’t learn that boy nothin’ at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

This video of an eventing helmet cam recording (see blog post fail Sept. 14). Can you tell I haven’t slept well for a few weeks?

This is sunrise this morning:

It’s also, interestingly, what my eyes look like without regular application of Visine.

Another day in paradise at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

Last weekend we went to Saturday Market for some fresh veg, maybe a little pig on a pole (which is barbecued pork kabobs, so get your mind out of whatever trash heap it was wallowing in — I know what kind of people hang out on this blog). I took my camera to capture there and share here a little slice of my Americana pie.

Totally forgot the camera in the car. Buh-rilliant, yes, but the fresh foods were calling me — I was deliriously hypnotized by their siren song.

But later in the day I realized I could make it up to all you lovely readers when I discovered baby beaks sticking out of the barn swallow nest in my horse shelter.

I really did put in an effort to get cutesy-pie, fuzzy-wuzzy baby bird pictures. I love the little birdlets all nestled in their downy home, squawking for supper from mama, and was eager to share. I climbed my tall fence and perched on the top rail, wedged under the shed eaves, getting slivers in my ass on one end and in my forehead on the other.

I snapped photos (ignoring the message from my camera to turn the stoopid flash on). They all turned out not so good. So I took a few more with the flash enabled. They turned out much more almost discernible.

Crappy creepy barn swallow photo No.1.

As luck would have it, the only time one of the little beggars poked its head out of the nest was when I was starting the muscle twitch to bring fingers around to the flippy-uppy flashy-thingy. Yeah, I was so excited, and uncoordinated from changing my mind, that my effort resulted in this bizarro piece of double exposure. I’m holding my breath waiting for the Pulitzer announcement.

After raising the flash, I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and I waited for one of the little cretins to raise its head again. No. But the nice thing about digital cameras is that you simply cannot take too many crappy photos. Even with the flash, I got a couple dozen photos that look like this gem on the right below … and even more that make it look really good by comparison.

Crappy creepy barn swallow photo No.2.

I chose this photo to share because it’s one of the more betterish ones, and it also clearly illustrates just how disappointingly creepy these baby birds were. Where is the cutesy-pie downy softness? What happened to their fuzzy-wuzzies? I do not feel an urge to koochy-coo these homely birdlets.

Yes, I understand, they’re probably spankin’ fresh newborns — they probably deserve my pity — but I had chickens as a kid and their chicklets popped out of the egg, fluffed their matted fuzz in a warm breeze and phoofed out into an instant urge to be scooped up for a cuddle. I don’t mind saying that I was disappointed in these three baby barn swallows. Can they even hope that their mother loves them?

Go ahead and tell me that you feel any different looking at these practically bald, eye-bulging amoebas with their mama’s down humped up behind them. … And what in hell’s hand basket is that spindly black thing on the left? A wing? Nu-uh, looks like a giant creepy spider leg to me.

I was convinced, within moments of my first viewing of this photo blown up full-sized on my big, uber-resolution monitor, that what we’re seeing here is a genetic mutation experiment gone horribly awry.

This creature, I thought, is the newly formulated, three-bird-headed, downy-backed tarantula, escaped from a secret lab near you. Its bite is venomous, from all three heads, but the one on the left will also eat you (starting with your squishy eyeballs). It can wrap a grown human into a cocoon in under 7 minutes. It travels at speeds up to 44 mph over short distances. It sees in the dark, and it knows where you live.

The face that will haunt your dreams tonight.

Then I saw this last photo. And I haven’t slept well for days.

WTF is that fourth creature at the left of the photo?! Seriously, it can’t be a baby bird. Can it? No way.

That — that thing — must be what’s wrong with all the rest of the picture, and I don’t mean this snapshot. I mean the bigger picture that should be the lovely tweety-bird, zip-a-dee-doo-dah life of the three baby swallows. That thing is some kind of succubus draining the life, the cuteness, the very soft downiness from their beings. I fear now that the little tyke in the first photo was crying for help.

I want to save them, I really do, but I’m afraid to go out there in case that thing is ready to attach itself to a larger, more succulent banquet.

Such as myself at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

White-tail yearling

After weeks of cold and overcast, yesterday was nice. Bambi and Thumper stopped by to raid the haystack. The clouds cleared off shortly after these photos were taken, then we had blue sky, sunshine and mid-30s temperatures. I spent a lot of time outside, like a sun junky. I even jumped on Jilly bareback and rode for a while. Go figure.

Cottontail marauder

Lest I get too spoiled by such bounty from Mother Nature: This morning, we’re overcast and the wind is howling down the coulee at about 30 mph with gusts to 40 mph. It started last night just before bedtime, just so I couldn’t sleep.

Yes, wind is deliberately that evil. It planned ahead for this. It stormed its way east across the ocean and over the Rockies and thundered down the Rocky Mountain front, timing its approach with Swiss time-piece precision to attack my house at dusk.

It’s true.

On the plus side, now I don’t feel so bad about having to stay inside to do laundry and muck out the single-wide manor.

Queen for the day at: pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

I’m connected to the world wide web again. So there’s that to brighten your day.

You’d think that during a whole week almost to the minute without access to my No. 1 time-sucking and yet pointless hobbies: dinking around on the Internet, I’d get a lot of stuff written. No, not so much, just watched more DVDs. Yay me, for being consistent. My excuse for not writing more is that I didn’t have my “research tool” Internet service … or just go with the title of this post.

Nothing terribly interesting happened during the week unless you want to count Cooper spitting out onto the moonlit snow at my feet a slimy, half-masticated chunk of rabbit hide that included one long, delicate ear and an eyeball, still intact. He had to donate that treat to the magpies because I was pretty sure it would’ve ended up in a pool of bile-ridden upchuck on my floor during the night if I let him finish it.

Or maybe you want to count the Artist-Poet Pairing show we attended that included a replay of one entertainer’s rousing homemade musical tribute to Glacier National Park’s 100th anniversary: “O Glacier-land” (sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum”). It in no way registered on Cooper’s gross-factor scale, but it was equally difficult to keep a straight face while dealing with the moment.

Random View: It's ironical.

Let us not forget my visual tribute to the United States of Ironica. I’m not one, normally, to fritter away money, so I will wear this shirt, but I really bought it just because the brand is American Blue, but it was made in Pakistan: Outsourcing is almost always a grand source of irony. Remember that kids.

Tonight is the office Christmas party. The opportunities for social failure seem boundless.

Wish me luck at: pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

 

K-Pam the Adorable

It’s a grand day for finding the bestest of things and stuff!

In my email, I found a random photo of K-Pam looking adorbz and all in a new snow suit, with her little puggly buddy Puck telling the photographer, “I’m paying you premium price here to catch the essence of her mega-cuteness, bub, so double-check the lighting and the angle. Hey, I don’t think you’re doing it right, man. Ah, hell, she’s so cute, she can even make you look good, dude.”

And it ain’t so much in the unbearable adorableness of being department, but just so you know, I wore my winter coat today for the first time since last spring … and found my missing glasses. How pumped am I now?

I’m totally buying a lottery ticket tomorrow at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Random view: Jilly and leaves in the morning sunlight.

I have been tired all week and managed to rustle up a cold for the weekend. A beautiful fall weekend when I could be out riding or, uh, working.

I’d like colds better if they weren’t so inconvenient, y’know? If they were at least fun, but no. Colds are like those “friends” that you can’t claim as friends without explaining something about them — the thing that makes you mime quotation marks around the word friends — like, “Oh, well, we really only know them through so-and-so, and they just sort of stop by on occasion.” Or, “Well, yes, he’s a nut-job that should be kept at arms length, but he’s always been pretty reasonable with us.” Or, “What am I going to do? Be rude to her?”

Colds are boring. You never get anything done while you have one, not work, not good rest, not a lick of thinking. They’re such a burden. They never like what you feed them, so you have to keep feeding them a variety of foods (or is that just me?). And they always show up at the wrong time.

What’s that all about? at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Random view: September sunrise

We’ve had some spectacular sunrises and sunsets this month and you simply must see them before September is gone gone gone, so I’m sharing one of each with you all. I’m just that generous.

Random View: September sunset

The recent visit to see the toddler namesake, must’ve put some vibe into the air because I was tripping around the Interweb last night and found this kick-ass video of John’s and my son from some parallel universe.

I was about 10 seconds into the video of this painfully excited kid waiting for the start of his motorbike race when I realized that the boy was us. I had to pause the video to call John into the office so we could share this touching, and personal, moment together. Our poor awesome little son is waiting on the start line revving his bike’s engine while something like one gazillion other kids line up — he canNOT sit still. And I’ll bet that under that full helmet his mouth is running on the red line. He is our child after all.

I love how he keeps waving at the camera. And check out how he takes charge of the field when the start gates drop. That’s all John-genes. If he’d taken after me he would’ve killed the engine and endoed himself or, at the very least, run over three other kids.

I think I’ll just adopt this little guy for Christmas at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

OK, I keep meaning to sit down and write about these articles, and when the words are rolling through my brain, I sound hilarious enough to deserve those italics. Then I get side-tracked and then the words fizzle and then I’m not so much in the hi-larry-us department.

Random view: Xena in sepia

What? The photos? Oh, they’re just because. Maybe they’ll make up for the not so much funny, eh?

This week we are exploring how proud I am to be a Montanan.

First up is the Helena teen who tried texting a local pot dealer, but miss-dialed. And of all the wrong numbers in the world that he might’ve gotten? He texted the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff based in Helena. Busted, little dude. Actually, worse than busted, he and his buddy were turned over to their parents. Yeah, word up, dawg.

Had that’ve been me, I would’ve begged the sheriff to shoot me. Seriously.

Next up on the oh-gawd-you-could-be-my-neighbor list is the guy in Three Forks who crashed his sister’s wedding and made a first-class ass-aulter out of himself by hitting the bride in the face with a wrench. Yeah, y’know, when I’m in a big-ass wedding-party rage a wrench is my weapon of choice. Sure, pliers work better for yanking the teeth out of your victim’s mouth after the initial blow to the choppers, but they don’t pack enough heft to loosen the things to begin with. Just make sure the spinny-adjuster thingy on the wrench is well greased so you can really tighten the jaws down on the enamel, and set yourself at a good prying angle, and you’ll do fine with a wrench. Of course, quality tools work the best, so don’t skimp on that when you’re in the hardware store.

John wanted me to put this random thought that I had in my blog: Remember James J. Lee who stormed the Discovery Channel offices and held hostages with guns and homemade bombs? He said he was doing it because humans have over-populated the planet and Discovery Channel needed to be doing something about it by promoting under-population and cutting back on programs that involve mating. Or something like that, I didn’t have the gun to my head so I wasn’t paying close attention.

Does anyone else think he should’ve skipped Discovery and laid siege to some anti-abortion headquarters somewhere to be, maybe, a little more effective? Not that I’m advocating such reckless and deviant behavior. Just saying it makes more sense in a proactive sort of way.

Random view: sunrise 9-8-2010

Profoundish thought of the day: I was taking pictures of the sunrise this morning, and when the conditions had changed enough that it was no longer registering at the “extraordinary” end of my beauti-ometer, I thought, “Oh well, the moment’s gone.” Then it suddenly occurred to me that someone farther west of me was probably looking at his or her sunrise (which is my sunrise, just later) and thinking it looked awesome. And later someone

Random view: birthday boy Cooper

even farther west would be thinking the same thing, and onward into the future until it is my turn for the sunrise again tomorrow. And it’s all the same sunrise, forever.

OK, maybe the average third-grader has thought of sunrise that way, but it was a new one for me.

I told it to Cooper, and he thought I sounded the genius. BTW, today is Cooper’s fifth birthday. Such a big doggy.

And he’s so cute, too, at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com