The Quest for New Air

Montana clouds

Home is where the heart is. Or so they say.

Yet, sometimes, the heart yearns for new horizons. New places that sing to the soul, chiming into some deep channel of a life past lived and reconnecting to journeys that began many centuries ago.

I must admit, I’m envious of people who are able to spend their entire existence in one spot. And remain content. How they do it, I’ll never know, yet, envious I remain for the “sameness gene” that clearly skipped over me at birth.

From the time I was about 16 years old, I was desperate for a new horizon. I craved it. I felt like my little hometown was squeezing the life out of me – making it impossible to breath. I’ve already breathed all the Sonoma County air. I was in search of new air. Air that had never entered my lungs and propelled my soul into the next level of contentment.

There were so many new roads to take, views to witness, places to experience first-hand. New air to breathe. I wanted to experience them all.

{To this day, I am gently reminded that when I finally took my first globe-trotting steps – in search of new air – just shy of my 19th year, I departed on Mother’s Day. I don’t think she ever forgave me, nor fully understood my addiction for varied landscapes. And the air, oh the air…}

That first day was my Golden Birthday, wrapped in Halloween, with a side of Thanksgiving and topped with Christmas. And I never looked back.

I only remember my heart was singing as loudly as it could, and my lungs were gasping gulps of freedom! Oh, how sweet it tasted. I felt like a helium balloon, drifting higher and higher as each mile carried me further and further from any recognizable ground.

Since that first outward-bound leap, my lungs have had their fill of locales – the Queens borough of New York, the Beaches of Redondo, and for the past 11 years, the twin lobes have been filled to the brim with the purest Big Sky air that God had the forethought to concoct.

Big Sky air is lighter than most, requiring more gulps to gain fulfillment. And, it’s also colder. Much colder than I’ve ever experienced.  For eight months or more in any given year, these bronchial tubes constricted tighter than a square knot when the Mercury dipped below any normal functioning degree.

Then, my respiratory rate altered. What happens when you’re not consciously thinking about respiration? Breaths grow shallow. Tired. Feels like life is being sucked out of you, slowly. Painfully.

Contentment stales to restlessness. Where is the new, fresh air?

After much contemplation, it has been determined, we are trading cold air for warm air. For the next track of our lives, we will allow ourselves to fill up on some of the most beautiful air available.

Gulf air.

The Florida kind.

That thought alone not only initiates an automatic response, but literally I am able to inhale and exhale to my full extent: relaxing the external intercostal muscles and diaphragm, to a most peace-filled resting position. Air is fully exhaled.

All I need…is the air that I breathe…and a new place to call home…


Note: I would be remiss to not give proper love, adoration, virtual hugs and a giant shout-out to all the wonderful Treasure State gems with whom we’ve shared air.

These are quality people – salt-of-the-earth types who welcomed us with open arms, despite the air we breathed previous to landing in the Bo-Zone.

My wish is that should any of you ever find yourself in the Sunshine State enjoying our sunny, humid air, that you’ll knock upon our door so we can once again, share some air. Warm air. The kind that renews your spirit and satisfies your thirst for contentment.

 KW AAL Logo

Bathing Beauty

Editor’s Note: Boy, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted within this white space. It feels good to be back. Where did I go? Nowhere special. Just enjoying my days in a Willy-Nilly sort of fashion. I’ve been without full time work since January – but rather have been doing freelance and contract work, but all the while, keeping an eye out for the next fabulous full-time opportunity. The break in schedule has offered an ample chance for self-reflection and ponderous life-enhancing goal-setting.

Now, finding myself in the middle of summer, I browsed several past posts and discovered this gem. It was from a Girls’ Weekend when we rented a lovely home in Sonoma via VRBO. This place was amazing, and made us feel as though we were in the hills of Tuscany, enjoying lazy afternoons filled with many lovely varietals of wine.

The main point of this post was beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or the camera gal, which was me. My friend wasn’t thrilled with the photos, only as she fails to see her effervescent beauty.

I trust you are all enjoying your summer and recognizing the everyday beauty that surrounds you at every turn. Cheers.  

We are funny creatures.

We are unique.

We are each beautiful in the way that makes us “us” yet, when others stop to observe our unique beauty – we squawk. We say, “Don’t use that photo! Look at my fat this or my funky that.”

You know why we are so funny?

Because that funkiness is what makes us so awesome!

(Side note – as owner of this blog, I can spout off about this subject, yet have been known to delete a photo from time to time  – to time – of myself where I find nary a wrinkle, flap of skin or otherwise gross imperfection that I will be damned to expose to the world at large. But, that’s the point of being the OWNER of this blog. I can say or show whatever I want – or don’t want – within this white space. And you can’t stop me!)

I was so excited to take some candid, poolside photos, yet everyone (and admittedly, myself included) gets goosey about photos in a swim suit. But how can you not see the unrivaled, raw, loveliness of the following photos (of which my friend didn’t appreciate nearly as much as I did.)

In my book, a body that has birthed double-sets of twins deserves some kudos.

And a spotlight.

And a tiara.

This is my most favorite shot from the entire weekend.

I love the colors and mix of patterns.

I love the serenity.

And most importantly, I love the model – {both inside and out!}

Puppy’s Day Out

Today was a lovely winter day in Southwest Montana (and Eastern Idaho) – and it was our puppy’s first big day out.

Not only was it Rocco’s first long car ride, first trip to the edge of Yellowstone National Park, and his first time in the fine state of Idaho – but he also met friends visiting from Healdsburg, California and Salt Lake City.

Road to Big Sky Montana

Edge of Yellowstone National Park

View from Rear View Mirro

winter view from the rear view mirro

Even though I continually complain when the mercury drops below “reasonable,” this part of the country has some of the most incredible winter scenery – and for that, I am glad for the opportunity to experience it first-hand.

walking in a winter wonderland

Joe walking in snow with Rocco

Isn’t he the most darling little muffin you’ve ever seen??

Yorkie puppy in the snow Rocco

Is it any coincidence that he’s the shape of a heart?

I love my Yorkie Puppy Rocco

Yorkie puppy walking in the snow Rocco

Katie and Rocco in snow

katie and rocco yorkie puppy love

Sexy Hubby, who??

Seems I have a new love – a puppy love!!!


Life’s A Beach


What a weekend.

Today, I’m in restore mode – which is a perfect time to share. Prior to arriving in Southern California, I had a few visions in my mind of beach shots I wanted to capture.

Take a look. They turned out splendidly.


This is my favorite shot! Lucky for me, my model is multi-talented. Not to mention flexible.

Connor couldn’t wait to get into the action. This shot reminds me of break-dancing in the air.

…and this was only the first afternoon.

I’ll share more. After a nap.

Separate but Equal

Marriage and togetherness is a wonderful combination. Sharing every waking moment with the one you love. Every moment in each other’s company is akin to falling deeper into the abyss of oneness. Life (and love) just doesn’t get any better. Right?

Not necessarily…

Perhaps newly married peeps cannot fathom separate anything. Yet, as a happily married person for going on two decades, I can affirmatively say, separate on occasion is what makes all the togetherness remotely tolerable.

Case in point – separate but equal vacations.

Next week, Sexy Hubby will be out searching the whiles of Montana with like-minded individuals who would spend their last dollar to attain trophy antlers.

His idea of a perfect (separate but equal) vacation:


And while he is there, sleeping in a wall tent, riding a quad all over the wilderness in search of the mighty elk, not showering and peeing in the woods (a place I never want to be. Ever.)

I’ll be here, with a few of my life-long besties…



…and lounging poolside with a drink in hand…

I am positive I don’t need further proof to support the hypothesis that separate but equal vacations are indeed the KEY to a successful and life-long marriage.

I am living proof.

What The Heck is a Chokecherry??

Prior to moving to Montana, I clearly admit, I’d never even heard of a chokecherry. What the …? Why would you want to ingest something that includes the word “choke” in the title?

What is a chokecherry, you ask?

choke·cher·ry/ˈCHōkˌCHerē/ – a North American cherry (Prunus virginiana) with an edible astringent fruit that is more palatable when cooked.

Apparently this sour, little fruit is so popular, a town in central Montana plans an entire festival around the odd-named berry – The Chokecherry Festival is held annually in Lewistown, Montana.

The festival also includes the infamous “pit spit” – to determine who can spit a chokecherry pit the farthest (although, we didn’t stay for that part of the show – gives us a reason to return next year…)

We visited Lewistown yesterday – on our way to tour “What the Hay” hay bale display (which I’ll share later in the week). Not only was it a most lovely, late summer day, but we were met with friendly folks, food vendors and many crafty-kin alike.

Can you believe the depth of  the “Big Sky” blue? (Photo NOT color enhanced!!)

Main Street U.S.A – Lewistown, Montana

Love the old-fashioned style of this old-timer, feathers and all.

Yep, I was shocked by the size of these “big girl panties” and apparently so was the on-looker (on the left!)

Interesting “Yard Art” made from ancient, recycled treasures!

“Funky Chicken” photo – appears to be at a stand-off with a Chokecherry Festival attendee…(I love the magic of capturing a simple photo when it transforms into modern art!)

Antique art, when you least expect it, on the streets of Lewistown, Montana.

Local “beanie” vendor.

Loved this bag – called “The Montana.” {Note, had a funny exchange with the owner of the booth. Apparently “The Rebel” makes people nervous, and I was asked if these images were for “my private use.” Immediately I presented a business card, revealing the blog, and it seemed to smooth things over. The proprietor was concerned I was going to “steal her designs” – which is a huge compliment, but obviously, she has no clue regarding my non-existent sewing-felting ability.}

For more information on Barefoot Beading and Bags, contact

Another lovely booth – and super creative ideas – The Little Podunk Store. My favorite find here, not only the items for sale – The Redneck Wine Glass (shown in photo – a ball jar on a pedestal with lid and straw) – but the lovely pieces of display art (which are sadly, not for sale!) Proprietor – Charity Beaman – is a charming, creative gal after my own heart, who shared with me, when building the displays she tries to “keep the fixtures intact.” *LOVE*

Follow the arrow to the “Red Neck Big Gulp!” So fun!!!!

…next stop…”What The Hay” in quaint Hobson, Montana…

Right Time – Right Mountain

While standing atop a mountain in Jackson, Wyoming this weekend – minding my own business, of course – I began to see a trend.

A trend of young men with ginormous back packs trudging past me to the edge of the mountain.

Were they camping? 


Preparing to send smoke-signals?

Turns out, it was none of these things – it was something much more dramatic. And lofty.

These men were either supermen in training, or bat-shit crazy (or maybe a healthy combination of both??)

Apparently, I just need to “try it once – then I’d be hooked.” Least that’s what the young surfer-sounding dude said when I inquired about his hobby.

Up, up, and AWAY…

It was crazy. At one point, I looked up and saw at least 20 para-gliders in the vicinity.
And what a vicinity it was! Overlooking  the city of Jackson, Wyoming, with the Grand Tetons peeking around the corner.

In a word – in-freaking-credible!!

Azure Indulgences

I’ve been laying low, as I’ve been in recovery – from 10 days in the Golden State. With a super-packed work meeting week bookended with two fabulous weekends, this girl needed some R & R from the R & R. And what better place to get some serious rest than home sweet home. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve slept as much in the past 7 days as I have in the past 7 months!

Now that I’ve got my act together (relatively speaking, of course!) I’m taking a gander back at some of my favorite photographic moments from the annual Girls Weekend. This house was another fabulous Vacation Rental By Owner find – and what a wine-country supreme find it was! (In fact, I may forgo booking regular hotels when places like this are available for the same amount of research.)


One of the many traditions of the Girls Weekend is a gift exchange – simple, fun, from-the-heart items meant to build kinship. This was a gift I brought several years ago (from our own Gallatin County Farmers Market!) that is now used as a journal to record comical events year after year as well as to highlight the current pinnacle in our lives – as Lord knows, we forgot what happens five minutes after the ink has dried.

Also, I’m wondering silently when I can go back??

Who’s with me??


Tale of Two Choices

As a 45-year old woman, I’m still amazed at the choices we make – or don’t make – and the roads to which they lead.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a gal I’ve known since the dawn of teenage-hood – back when we wore matching outfits with our coordinating B.F.F’s, crammed into the back of a tiny gold RX-7 to cruised “The Boulevard” and watched to see whose feathered hair and Bonnie-Bell glossed lips garnered the most attention.

Nearly three decades since high school, my decision to marry and have children do not mark the path chosen by my naturally blonde, mini-skirt wearing, unmarried friend.

Two women – two choices.

I chose the tradition path, while my friend chose the path that rims the edge. Currently, she assists her sister with the company they created (OxyLent), yet refuses to be a slave to the standard five-day work week. She speaks of hip D-J’s and music (of which I’ve nary a clue) and travels to Europe as regularly as I travel to my neighborhood CostCo.

Her smile lights up a room, and she has an energy that’s infectious. You can’t help but love and adore her. I know I do, and have since the moment I met her.

As we were sitting pool-side, my friend shared a story of a random night in Las Vegas {at the completion of which, I affirmed, “I’m coming back – in my next life – as YOU!”}

Here is the story as was told to me (as best I can recall. Between my imaginative interruptions, and the untold number of champagne bottles we drained in a single sitting – I’m sure some details are enhanced while others are left out altogether.)

When we were in Vegas, my sister and I went to the Chandelier Bar. We heard to go to the second floor, not the first or third.

We got all dressed up and when we got to the bar, there was a rope in front of the second floor entrance. I asked the bartender if we could check it out and he said, “There’s a private party on the second floor.”

I said, “We just wanted to see it and have a drink.” He looked at us – all dolled up – and said, “Oh, go ahead.”

When we got downstairs – it was wall to wall men – investment bankers.

This guy came up to us and said, “This is a private party.” After we chatted him up a few minutes, he said, “Go ahead, stay and have a drink with us.”

So we did.

The drinks flowed freely, as well as decadent food choices – too numerous to mention. 

We had so much fun.

If the above story happened to me, the result would have been very different:

We arrived at the Chandelier Bar – all dressed up – to discover the second floor bar was closed to a private party.

After repeatedly being denied access, and after security asked us to leave, we’d huff out the door and hit the dive bar on the corner, where we’d arm-wrestle our way onto two grimy bar stools and order cheap draft beer and snack on the community bowl of bar nuts.

As we swirled on the bar stools, drinking from chipped mugs, we’d complain endlessly about the asshole bartender at the fancy, sparkly place who wouldn’t even let us LOOK at the second floor bar.

We’d return to our low-brow motel room and attempt to close the 1970’s-styled curtains to shut out the neon “Rooms Available” sign that flickered haphazardly, yet palled in comparison to the distracting Hollywood-style trio of lights that rotated aimlessly from the all-night party being held at the penthouse of the splashy, new Cosmopolitan Hotel.

I’d sigh, thinking, “That’s how the other half lives.”

Tale of Two Chicks and Their Ultimate Choices.

I joketh not.

Annual Girlz Weekend – Take One

Upon the eve of our 40th birthdays – girls I’ve known since I was an early teen decided to create an annual weekend event – a girls only celebration.

Five years in – and the single idea has turned into a tradition of which we all look forward to every summer.

Each year a new place is chosen – usually a short jaunt from our hometown, yet it feels worlds away as we envelope ourselves into a few days of catching up, cooking, sharing and laughing.

Oh, the laughing.

This weekend we are cozied up in the foothills of Sonoma…

My favorite photo of the weekend. I call it “Women, Wine and Status Updates.”

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