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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 Philipsburg, MT
Listening to: Martin Sexton, Black Sheep

Last night I went to the historic Wilma Theatre in Missoula for a Martin Sexton concert. Actually, I mainly went for the opener, Chris Trapper, and to scope the place out for my ongoing plan to get Matt Nathanson to add at least one Montana stop to his next headlining tour. The Wilma would be perfect for Matt. I know this because it was perfect last night for both Chris Trapper and Martin Sexton.

To start, I got rock star parking! The public lot behind The Wilma seems to be free after 5 pm on weekdays and also on weekends. Doors were supposed to open at 7 pm so I was well beyond the pay parking period. I drove around the lot and parked here:
Tour Bus

When I was in Chicago in November, I had to park on the street because my sister’s apartment building does not have any guest parking. The first night I had to park a fair walk away, but after that I managed to come and go at the right times such that I always got to park right in front of her building. My sister brilliantly dubbed that “Rock Star Parking.” This wasn’t right in front of the theater, but given that I am parked next to an SUV hauling a trailer, and the license plates are from Massachusetts, and both of the artists of the evening hail from Massachusetts, I think it is a pretty safe bet that I am parked next to the “tour bus” for Martin Sexton or Chris Trapper or possibly both if they are carpooling. If that’s not Rock Star Parking, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, it was just a short walk from there up the stairs to street level and the doors to The Wilma. It was a lovely 65 degrees or so outside with no precipitation which made for an okay time standing in line even though the doors opened somewhat after 7 pm. Here is the lovely and historic Wilma herself.
The Wilma; Missoula, MT

A couple of folks wanting to see a movie sorted themselves out of the concert line and went indoors. Some folks in front of me walked down the street and got what appeared to be burritos to go from the Mexican place a few doors down. I wondered how they were going to finish them before we got inside. Then the line started moving.

One of the great surprises about the evening was that The Wilma treats concertgoers as customers and not as criminals. I gave one friendly person my ticket and got my hand stamped by another. That was all. No evil eye from pissed-off security people. No searching my purse or clothing. No molesting my person. I just went inside.

There I found a beautiful old theater albeit a bit in need of repair. It reminded me a bit of the Fox in Tucson except not as freshly fixed-up. (Perhaps this is what the Fox will look like a few years from now as I hear from my friend A. in Tucson that it has gone broke.) There are rows and rows of movie theater style seats with a reasonably large empty dance space up front. There is also a balcony in the back overhanging the last few rows that looked like it was also open, but I didn’t go up to check. There were two bars and a snack stand (they also show movies there), and I also saw the folks with their unfinished burritos eating them openly so I’m thinking maybe it’s okay to bring outside food in. That would be cool. I was wishing I had brought a bottle of water.

I took the aisle seat in the third row on the right side of the left section behind a woman sitting by herself. She turned around and struck up a conversation with me which kept going as her friends congregated in our section. She was a Martin Sexton fan and told me what a great time I was going to have since it was my first time hearing him at all, let alone live. Her “partner” (I assume this is gay code for spouse wherever gay marriage is not legally sanctioned) was also a Chris Trapper fan which is who I was there to see so we also chatted about that.

I have to give Martin Sexton credit for having very nice fans. In addition to being really nice before the show (I heard many other “Is this your first Martin Sexton show? You’re going to love it!” conversations around the hall), they were all really wonderful during Chris Trapper’s opening set. People were not talking and ignoring the show. They were very respectful and responsive to his audience banter and music. Except for his set being too short and not getting to hear my favorite Chris Trapper tune, Jukebox Lights, it was just about perfect. The song Starlight By Her Side pretty much made up for that one missing link. I don’t have any video from the show, but here’s another performance of it.
Chris Trapper, Starlight by Her Side

Here’s another of my favorites. It’s the official video since I can’t find a decent quality live recording. He expressed his utter hatred of his high school experience and his delight in penning this number and performing it when he was invited to play at his high school reunion. He claimed that every word in it is true. I don’t doubt him.
Chris Trapper, Wish I Was Cool

After Chris Trapper was a bit of intermission before Martin Sexton went on. Shortly before he came out, they flashed the lights and my now full little neighborhood emptied out as people filled the dance area in front of the stage. The place was not sold out, but it was reasonably full and the entire dance area was full with the overflow piling up in the aisles a little bit. Meanwhile, lots of folks in the back were enjoying the show from their seats.

I stayed where I was even though I couldn’t see much. I mean, it’s a concert so I’m really there for the music and I already got to see who I came for. In fact, I saw half of Chris Trapper’s set sitting on the floor a few feet away from him along with two other girls who had moved forward before me. I was glad I stayed where I was for Martin Sexton because the people-watching was great. For example, I have never before seen a couple dry-humping to This Little Light of Mine.

The music was also excellent. Instead of a concert, it was almost a really, really long medley. He didn’t seem to stop very often, and even when he spoke to the audience he often was singing when he did so. Even though he was just one guy with a guitar, his vocal abilities were so incredible that he often sounded like a multi-instrument combo. His yodeling sort of thing is incredible. Again, I have no recordings from this show, but here are a few of my favorite numbers.

Martin Sexton, Can’t Stop Thinking About You

Martin Sexton, Thank You, Failure

As I listened to this last night, I thought nobody should ever sing the national anthem again except this man.
Martin Sexton, Star Spangled Banner/Freedom of the Road

The description in the notes of this one on YouTube is eerily in sync with how I felt last night. It was almost like going to church without the trappings of religion. Very sacramental. And we didn’t even have Amazing Grace last night.
Martin Sexton, Black Sheep/Amazing Grace

I went a little overboard with the Sexton videos, I know. But he deserves it. I will probably post more in the near future because there is something I heard multiple times last night that none of these videos quite illustrates.

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: Something classical and pretty

Here’s a little garden update from my pantry. All my plants are still indoors.

This Siberia Tomato plant was doing well until it started producing. At last count there are seven fruits on it. Now many of the leaves are dying although there is a new vine growing well from the base of the plant. I moved it to a larger pot a few days ago so hopefully that will save it. Any other ideas?
Siberia Tomato- Productive but Dying?

My Brandywine Tomato plant is doing quite nicely and is finally producing fruit. You can see three small tomatoes here.
Brandywine Tomatoes

I picked up two strawberry plants from Walmart and so far they are doing well. I still have a bunch to plant assuming they are not yet dead. They came in bags and are currently in my refrigerator. I have no idea what they look like.
My First Strawberry Plants

I have spearmint, five or six varieties of tomatoes, and several Little Finger carrots sprouting.
Spearmint and Tomatoes Sprouting
Little Finger Carrots Sprouting

My two habanero plants continue to thrive with lots of blossoms and tiny new fruits. No pictures of those yet. I also have onion bulbs and some potatoes that need to be planted. My major deficiency at the moment is that I need to plant lettuce/greens. I want to keep some of these indoors so I can have homegrown salad year-round.

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Field Trip

A couple of weeks ago, my manfriend Kel and I took a little field trip to Helena where we visited a friend and checked out the Montana Historical Society. We got in for half price because one of the galleries was closed, and we also got a AAA discount. That is good because from what we saw and heard, it wasn’t really worth full price. Outside you can see some metal sculptures. I particularly liked the giant welded bison skull gracing the front lawn. It kind of reminded me of Arizona where cow skulls are considered western decoration.

Montana Historical Society

Montana Historical Society

Inside, we apparently went through the one open gallery backward by starting at the front of the building. It became clear as we headed in that we were supposed to start at the back and work our way forward. But by going in the wrong order, we got to see and hear the best propaganda first. Here is a nice example.

Propaganda

As far as propaganda that was overheard, there was a docent giving a tour to some high school kids. I don’t recall exactly what my manfriend told me she was talking about, but it apparently had something to do with bank insolvency because she assured the kids that now our money is safe and sound in banks thanks to the FDIC. Uh huh. Yeah. Sure. Right.

My manfriend also spotted historical evidence of His Holy Noodliness in a display of various brands. I think this helps establish that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was, indeed, fond of meat and was not a vegetarian.

Evidence of His Holy Noodliness

Flying Spaghetti Monster Brand

Near the end (or what should have been the beginning) of the gallery was my favorite exhibit of all. You may recall a picture I posted a while back of a buffalo jump. This gallery contained a diorama of a buffalo jump complete with hunters and buffalo. I loved the tumbling buffalo suspended in mid-air.

Buffalo Jump Diorama

Buffalo Falling in Diorama

Finally, we went upstairs where we saw Big Medicine, a rare white buffalo born in 1933 on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. According to the Montana Historical Society:

White bison are extremely rare, historically appearing only once in every five million births. To many Indian peoples such animals are sacred and represent great spiritual power. Consequently, the May 3, 1933, birth of a white buffalo calf on the National Bison Range on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation was greeted with celebration and wonder. The birth was a crowning achievement of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ efforts to recover a population of bison for their reservation. Named in recognition of the sacred power attributed to white bison, “Big Medicine” held great significance for the people of Montana, both Native American and non-Indian. For this reason, in the early 1950s the Montana Historical Society made arrangements to ensure that, upon his death, Big Medicine would be moved to the state’s museum and permanently preserved for future generations. Because he had some pigmentation – blue eyes, tan hooves, and a brown topknot – Big Medicine was a white buffalo rather than a pure albino. At his prime, he weighed 1,900 pounds, stood six feet high at the hump, and measured twelve feet%, 20from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. Although his fame spread worldwide, Big Medicine spent his entire life on the National Bison Range where he received special care that enabled him to live much longer than bison normally do. As a result, however, when he died in 1959 his hide was in poor condition, and in many places, almost hairless. Consequently, his advanced age will forever be reflected in the worn appearance of the mount.

And here is the mount:
Big Medicine

That’s all I’ve got on the Montana Historical Society except to say that they are open on Mondays which seems to be unusual for museums in southwestern Montana.

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Posting from: Missoula, MT
Listening to: Love and Rockets, Kundalini Express on WTMD

I have been living in jealousy of you fuckers in warmer areas- not because of your warm weather per se, but rather because of your warm weather’s tendency to encourage botanical growth. Screw that! I have been nursing along some tomato plants that were looking pretty sorry in the deep of winter. I wound up adding a space heater and a fluorescent light to the room they were in, and I also hacked back A LOT of dead foliage in recent weeks. It has all paid off.

Today I went to take a photo of the tiny beginnings of a tomato on one of these plants. Much to my surprise, I discovered from the photo that there are at least THREE tomatoes on this plant.

Winter Tomatoes

My goal this year is to be canning salsa made from my own tomatoes.

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

Weather
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.

News
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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Productivity

Posting from: Philipsburg, MT

I have been pretty busy lately, some of it in a productive way for which there is photographic evidence.

First off, a couple of weeks ago I made a loaf of a friend’s Sourdough Bread recipe from my batch of her Sourdough Starter recipe. The recipe is supposed to make a round, but I decided to try it in a loaf pan. It was quite tasty (as evidence by the fact that it was gone by the second day and I was the only one eating it), but it was a little short. I don’t know if the recipe can be doubled, but that would probably be about the right amount of dough to use in a standard loaf pan.
My First Sourdough Bread

Then another friend and I made a cake for a pirate party. Next time, I need to figure out how to add a crow’s nest, cannon and plank. The pirate figures were found at Rockin’ Rudy’s in Missoula, thank goodness. They were much harder to track down than I expected.
Pirate Cake

Finally, I gave canning my homemade salsa a second go. The first time I did this, I did not cook the salsa other than during the canning process so it was really more of a pico de gallo. Unfortunately, the solids rose to the top of each jar while the water sank to the bottom. Each jar was about half water. The second time, I cooked basically the same recipe significantly down before canning. Not surprisingly, I ended up with 6 jars the second time around instead of 12. Actually, it was 6 jars plus almost 2 cups that I didn’t can so really it would have been 7 or 8 jars. It is much tastier and has a better texture, though. And since I used the food processor instead of chopping everything by hand it went much quicker.
Canned Salsa vs. Canned Pico de Gallo

Now see there. I am not the lazy bum I may at first appear.

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