Archive for the ‘outdoors’ Category

Posting from: Philipsburg, MT

There has been a dearth of posts, lo, these last few months, such that I deserve to be on my Blogs in Hibernation list. I have been traveling a lot, working a lot, and generally trying to spend less time “living in my head” and just “living.” It has been very enjoyable. I have been taking a lot of pictures and a little bit of video, though, and I’ve been trying to edit it all together into something presentable. Two of those efforts are ready to go, and this is the first.

This is a slideshow from a winter bonfire I attended in January near Helena:

Winter Bonfire in Montana

Photos were taken by me and E. who was nice enough to take a turn handling the camera. If you’re able to view it full screen, I think it’s really worth it. Click the button in the lower right corner with the four arrows to go to full screen. This was meant to be viewed to a particular tune I picked out for it, but I’m not willing to risk thousands of dollars in fines for the privilege of sharing music I’ve already paid for once. If I see you in person, though, and you would like to see it as it was meant to be seen, just let me know.

A friend of ours has been having all manner of trees on her property, which have died due to bark beetle infestation, cut down and stacked as firewood. This bonfire was one of many she has had to burn the limbs and pine needles left behind. Quite a beautiful sight in photos; even more amazing in person.


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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: LAZERWOLFS, Elemental

Very exciting! After another long spring-like stretch (at least by my Arizona standards), we got another lovely snowstorm this week. It has snowed for the last three days, and I think we got a decent 4-6 inches or so at my house.

I am told by my manfriend Kel that I should also report that I got stuck driving in said snow. My Honda Element Penny made it most of the way up a mountain to deliver a pile of lumber, but not quite. We got pulled out of a snow drift and towed the rest of the way up the hill by a Jeep. Going back down was a little slippery but otherwise no problem at all.

The big Montana news of the last few weeks was an explosion in downtown Bozeman that killed one individual and destroyed multiple buildings and businesses. The cause of the explosion is expected to be released on Friday this week.
Bozeman blast cause to be released

In other news, Montana’s Congressional delegation are supposedly outraged over the bonuses being given to AIG executives that taxpayers are bailing out at great expense.
Outrage Over AIG

Montana’s congressional delegation is joining the outrage on Capitol Hill over big bonuses at bailed out AIG.

The insurance group handed out $165-million dollars in bonuses to executives this weekend, sending shock waves through congress as the company received about $170 billion in federal funding this year. Senator Max Baucus and others want to impose heavy taxes on the bonuses to re-coup taxpayer money that helped bail out the company.

“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Baucus said. “It’s ludicrous, it’s an outrage. I am really mad. Montanans are really mad. I don’t know what these people are thinking.”

What an actor Max Baucus is. He ought to be nominated for an award.
Before the Fall, AIG Payouts Went to Washington

Two senators who chair committees charged with overseeing AIG and the insurance industry, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), are among the top recipients of AIG contributions. Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee and has collected more money from AIG in his congressional career than from any other company–$91,000.

Yes, yes, he’s SOOO outraged. Please. Spare me.

Finally, there has been somewhat of a brouhaha brewing in recent weeks over a column being published in the Montana Kaimin. I’ll write more about that later as it turns out to be too much to put in this little post. Here’s a hint of what it’s about, though: ESS-EEE-ECKS.

Montana Trivia
I don’t know if this is unique to Montana, but in the last week or so I was surprised to hear radio commercials from at least two fast food restaurants promoting their Lent-compatible options. One was Taco Hell and the other was a lovely little local Butte business with two restaurants called Pork Chop Johns. I never heard anything like this in Arizona. Actually, it might be unique to Butte now that I think of it because both commercials were on a Butte radio station, and I believe Butte has a fairly large proportion of Catholic residents.

Montana Band of the Week
This week I am featuring a Missoula band called LAZERWOLFS. Unfortunately, this could have been better timed on my part as they just did a big Judas Priest tribute concert a couple of weeks ago. Bad me. However, since I do know at least a couple of people who read this blog who might be interested in checking them out, here are their shows. Even though there aren’t any upcoming shows on this page at the moment, I do believe I read somewhere on Mr. LaTray’s blog that there will be more in the not-too-distant future. They also sometimes play outside of Montana so, you know, don’t think you HAVE to come to Montana. And for those of you (and I know you’re reading, too) who do not like to be in crowds of people or go to big cities, you can check out some MP3s. I always like to share the love around when a band gives newcomers a little sampling without making them shell out $10 or more just to see if they are interesting.

Montana Picture of the Week
Reflections in the Clark Fork River under the Orange Street bridge in Missoula, MT:
Under the Orange Street Bridge in Missoula

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: The Merry Macs, Mairzy Doats

I am putting together my garden plans for the upcoming season and getting ready to start seeds indoors. I will be giving the Square Foot Gardening technique a whirl. I have all the materials purchased to build two 4X4 square foot gardens with trellises for vertical growing in the back row of each. I have modified a design I found in that book to make it as disassemblable as possible for easy winter storage. Hopefully, when I get to building the things, I will be able to post a material list, a line-item list of what it all cost, instructions, and step-by-step pictures of how to do it.

So far I have seeds for six varieties of heirloom tomatoes plus deals to trade for one more tomato variety and a lettuce variety. I also have mustard seed that I didn’t get planted last season. This year I would also like to add spinach, some potatoes, strawberries, more greens, possibly pickling cucumbers, maybe some green beans, turnips, carrots, maybe some onions, possibly corn, a small melon of some sort, possibly a pumpkin variety, and some more pepper varieties (I have two healthy habanero plants).

The tomato varieties I have are:
Siberian Tomato
Black from Tula Tomato
Silvery Fir Tree Tomato
Giant Syrian Tomato
Italian Heirloom Tomato
Hillbilly Potato Leaf Tomato

If anyone would like to trade seeds, please post a comment about what you have and/or what you want. This is an effort in increased self-sufficiency so I am really only interested in heirloom seeds. I am not interested in copyrighted or patented food that I can’t propogate.

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Posting from: Missoula, MT

A few days ago, a couple of babies were born at my friends’ place. Mother and babies are doing fine.
Flopsy and Her Kids

However, this necessitated the sudden acquisition of extra bedding for the kids. Bedding, in this case, is also yummy hay which all of the goats love. They couldn’t wait to get at it.
Snack Time

We had to get the goats off the truck in order to get the hay out of the back. Pulling them off proved ineffective because they would hop back on as quickly as they were chased off. We ended up with one person pulling them off while three of us threw snowballs at the goats already off the truck to keep them from hopping back on. Eventually we were able to get them going back to their pen.
Getting the Goats Out of the Way

After that, the hay was dislodged by anchoring it to a Jeep and then driving the truck out from underneath it.
Dislodging the Snack

We wrapped some fencing around the hay to slow the goats down a little bit. Flopsy, the new mom, is in the foreground eating some hay we pulled out for her since she is easily pushed aside by the other goats.
Flopsy in the Foreground

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Posting from: Missoula, MT

Last weekend, in commemoration of the inauguration of our next gungrabber-in-chief, I participated in an Obama Inauguration Commemorative Shooting Match- OInC for short. Most of the participants found it tougher than they expected, but I was very pleased with my results even though I didn’t have a qualifying target.

You had to have five consecutive hits on a 9-inch paper plate target from 100 meters. Alternatively, you could enter the cheater category wherein you only had to get five hits on a target of any size. I didn’t understand the cheater category was not five consecutive hits so I didn’t end up with a qualifying target before the deadline.

Out of ten shots, I put three on my targets from 100 meters which were bigger than the paper plate targets by a few inches in each direction. This was only my third time shooting any rifle, and only my second time shooting my own rifle so I was pretty happy that I hit my targets at all.

Here is a photo of the paper plate targets taken from the firing line roughly 100 meters away:
Targets at 100 Meters (Roughly)

Here is a picture of my targets (I thought the bright colors would be easier than white paper plates against a snowy background):
My Targets

Here I am attempting to hit them while wearing my Jayne Cobb hat (courtesy of the woman not to be referred to as Mrs. Fungusmunkey):
Channeling Jayne

Interestingly, I got twice as many hits on the target while channeling Jayne via my hat as I did when not wearing it. I was shooting a Mosin-Nagant Model M-44 with Czechoslovakian 1964 7.62x54r Hollow Core Short Range ammo.

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Posting from: Philipsburg, MT

For the last several days it has been sunny, clear and relatively warm with highs in the upper 30s to lower and mid 40s. However, it appears that winter is returning today. There was actual snow falling this morning as I was walking my dog in the park.

The big news of the last couple of weeks for me comes from my small town in Montana. Our local paper is not online, so I will post a few quotes (transcribed by me) here.

From the Philipsburg Mail, “Stimulus bill could offer P-burg funds,” 15 January 2009, Issue 2, Year 122, p. 1:

The administration of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has compiled a wish list of infrastructure projects at the request of the National Governors Association, totalling [sic] more than $3 billion and employing an estimated 108,000 workers.

Included in that mix: Philipsburg’s proposed wastewater treatment plant, $5.1 million, projected to employ 90 to 120 workers for three to four months; an additional $2 million for phase two of that project, estimated to employ 39 people for one or two months; a sludge removal project at the town’s existing sewage lagoons, pegged at $700,000 with a dozen workers completing the work in less than one month; and its water meter installation project (which is in the process of being rebid), pegged at $596,000 and estimated by the state to require 10 people less than a month- figures that don’t necessarily square with town estimates.

Town Councilman Andy Lochridge told the council at their last meeting that the news- if it actually leads to real funding from the federal government through the states- provides a welcome change of news for local residents.

“I think it’s important for the people of Philipsburg to be in touch with the Congressional delegation,” Lochridge said. “This is a huge opportunity for the town here.”

He found out about the list from Sen. John Tester’s office when contacting members of the congressional delegation. And while there is no money in the pipeline yet, and no guarantees Philipsburg’s projects will ultimately make the cut, it’s encouraging to see its projects included for possible federal funding, Lochridge said.

“I was astounded by the response I got from Tester’s office, how good things looked for us,” he said, adding, “This is not a done deal by any means. This is contingent on the stimulus bill package and how the state determines its priorities.”

Still, the stimulus package offers hope for communities like Philipsburg that have serious infrastructure needs but little money to pay for those projects, he said.

“If you want to bail out Wall Street, you have to bail out Main Street first,” Lochridge said. “Because as long as Main Street’s doing okay, Wall Street will do just fine.”

What is notable about this is that Councilman Andy Lochridge who is quoted in this article in favor of our town sucking at the government tit used to present himself as being pro-freedom/anti-free lunch at taxpayers’ expense. I have heard, but not been able to confirm, that he is now passing himself off as a Republican (the kind that doesn’t mind soaking the taxpayers, I guess). Disappointing, if not terribly surprising. I consider him yet another reason why I WILL NOT VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE EVER. PERIOD.

Legislature Should Get Real (Time Energy Pricing)

Wind energy is a big topic in Montana this legislative session. While wind energy sounds cool and sexy, Pete Geddes of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment in Bozeman argues that real-time energy pricing with higher prices during peak hours and lower prices during off hours is both a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative. Instead of building expensive infrastructure, this system simply makes more efficient use of existing equipment by encouraging customers to take advantage of lower prices at off-peak hours for things like running dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, etc.

Montana Picture of the Week
Sunset over Lake Helena:
Sunset Over Lake Helena

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: Greg Laswell, Sing, Theresa Says

Sunday was my birthday. I’m 36. Other than feeling a little more square, it’s not much different from 35. As usual, year 35 upheld my tradition of the years of my life that are divisible by 5 being extremely good years. 16 and 21 sucked, but 15 and 20 were fabulous!

I got a lot done this year. I quit my job. I cashed out my 401K before the stock market tanked. I moved. I put my house on the market. I am so much happier. My main goal for this year is to be rid of my house, preferably by selling it. I have some other goals, but so long as that one is completed, I will be happy with my progress in my 36th year. Once that is done, I will be SUPER DUPER HAPPY. Anyone want to move to a small town near Tucson, AZ?

As for the celebrating, I put on my tiara and headed over to the Sunshine Station in Philipsburg where I had an excellent birthday breakfast. No better way to kick off another year of middle age than with bacon, I say.

Then I took J. and his daughter I. to Missoula so we could go get my birthday ice cream and picture. The plan was to bring back a pint for S. and C. who stayed behind. We did some loss-leader shopping at the grocery stores for their family, and then we got dinner at a nice little local Baja-style Mexican fast food chain called Taco Del Sol. Yummy fish tacos! Their hot sauce was not good, though. It tasted like hot vinegar- not much flavor other than the vinegar. Fortunately, I did not have that on my taco- only on my beans and rice which I couldn’t finish anyway because the taco filled me up nicely.

I think after that was our stop at a local Missoula independent record store called Ear Candy Music. You get your choice of vinyl or CDs. I didn’t find any Warren Zevon, but J. after talking with the guy who gave him a tour of the store found a song he has been trying to find for 7 or 8 years now. He special ordered the CD for his upcoming birthday. Very cool. The record store guy was knowledgeable, competent, friendly, helpful and everything you could possibly hope for in a person in a service job. We loved him for a little while. And after that little while, we have resented him for making us take notice of every sub-standard service experience we have had since then.

After all of this, we were off to what was the whole point of the trip. However, I was a bit bummed for these pansy-ass Montanans put a kink in my birthday plans- and not in the fun, spanky way. 😡

I made the treacherous winter journey from Philipsburg to Missoula and back for one reason and one reason only: I was going to have my picture taken on my birthday which is also the first day of winter eating ice cream outdoors at Big Dipper Ice Cream in Missoula and send it back to my friends in Arizona who thought I would hate the cold here and be on my way back at the first sign of winter.

Big Dipper Ice Cream in Missoula

Ice cream in Montana? Outdoors? In the winter? Can you do that? I went to the website and checked. They are open, it says! Every day of the year except Christmas through New Years. Great! Let’s go!

But when we got there, they were closed. Why? A death in the family? That would be excusable. But were they on medication? Schizophrenic? Do they have leftover baggage from their childhood that prevents them from functioning? These are things which I know from Dmitri the Lover are not good excuses. Especially since there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. Believe it or not, I am a complete catch!

Ahem. Anyway…

We parked and approached the building to investigate further. There was a sign in the window. They are closed because… WAIT. WHAT?

Closed???  Pansies!

THE HELL!!! Did they just suddenly discover this year after 13 years in business that it gets COLD in Montana in the winter? Flying Titty-Fucking Spaghetti Monster! I cannot fucking believe this!

Wait, there’s a phone number on the sign. It says to call in case of ice cream emergencies. I am thirty-six years old and drove up hill both ways in the snow in bare feet to Missoula for ice cream on my birthday. HELL YES THIS IS AN ICE CREAM EMERGENCY! But alas, I only got voice mail. I did, in fact, leave a message and put them on alert that we will be having words in person in January. 😡

I also sent off a message via their contact page informing them of my birthday unhappiness. In response, a nice person named Charlie has corrected the information on the web page, and he is sending me an ice cream gift card. That was very nice.

We swung by the Good Food Store in Missoula after the No Ice Cream Debacle and picked up a couple of pints- including some Big Dipper pints- and ate ice cream in the cafe at the store. I also got myself some birthday flowers which are gorgeous and holding up nicely in their vase at home.

Once we got home to Pburg, we stopped in at the Sunshine Station where I had a birthday drink before I went home.

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