Tag: Montana

A Little More Local Color: Obligatory Strawberries


See other small-town and rural Montana stories here, here, here, and here

My sense of release upon leaving work before 6 was thwarted the moment I saw it that Tuesday afternoon: a busy main road, chronically backed up at one of its lights, had a slow line of cars stretching maybe a half-mile east.  Darn. I wished I’d picked a different route.  But then I spotted a way out: a looped driveway beckoned a few hundred feet to my left.  It wasn’t some private homeowner’s access, the residence of a guy just wanting peace and quiet but subjected to a parade of vehicles exploiting the convenient turnaround. No, it was kind of a business, I reasoned. Large signs year-round announced that this was a Hutterite farm. There were eggs, fresh fruit, and sundries for sale. Come on in!

FEC: Foreign Nationals Can Contribute to American Ballot Initiatives


The Federal Election Commission attracts little public attention. Oh, sure, there are advocacy groups like Common Cause who often attempt to influence FEC deliberations. People like me who (used to) run political action committees (PACs) or work with federal election campaigns pay careful attention.

But on November 2, election day in Virginia, New Jersey, and other states, the FEC reported on the results of a recent vote to dismiss a “matter under review” (MUR, in the language of Washington acronyms).

What caught my attention – and that of Axios, a center-left online media outlet – was a rare 4-2 bipartisan vote. The Democratic chair, Shana Broussard, joined the three Republicans to dismiss a challenge made by a pro-environmental coalition group in Montana pushing for clean water standards for hard-rock mining operations.

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Part 2 – the global power of drug cartels and the decades long history of their ability to establish significant distribution, money laundering, and even drug production and processing operations within the United States. In Part 1, I introduced two Mexican drug cartels. The first, the Guadalajara Cartel, was the first major allied consortium of […]

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December 16, 2006: It was one step forward and three steps back when it came to settling into the house–but perhaps a leap ahead in character development. (Read Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, Part IV here,  Part V here,  Part VI here,  Part VII here,  Part VIII here,  Part IX here, Part X here,  Part XI here,  Part XII here, and Part XIII here.) Preview Open

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Montana Journal XIII: You Know You’re in Northwest Montana When . . .


December 3, 2006: Since I’d been in Montana for several months, I felt qualified to make this list. I shared this on Ricochet years ago, but it makes sense as part of our story about moving to Montana. (Read Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, Part IV here,  Part V here,  Part VI here,  Part VII here,  Part VIII here,  Part IX here, Part X here,  Part XI here, and Part XII here.)

The lady in front of you at the checkout lane in Target creates only a small stir when she pays with Canadian currency. 

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From that first chilly July evening as Montanans, we were so busy exploring the neighborhood’s novelties that we forgot to miss San Diego. (Read Part I here, Part II here, and Part III here, Part IV here,  Part V here, and Part VI here.) September 24, 2006 Preview Open

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Montana Journal V: The Property


In the first three installments, I was preparing for the big move from San Diego to Montana. Part IV found my husband and I and two young daughters at one of our country’s most breathtaking national parks. Now in Part V, we go to the twenty acres of forested property on which we’d hoped to have a move-in-ready house by the time the girls and I came to Montana. Little did I know that our construction journey would have more bumps than a dirt road in springtime. (Read Part I here, Part II here, and Part III here, and Part IV here.)

September 10, 2006

Montana Governor Takes Legal Action Against Local Businesses


A few weeks ago, I wrote a post noting how local Montanans were done wearing masks. It turns out that I was not the only one who noticed the casual stance toward the mask mandate; it seems that our governor did as well. In response, he has taken steps to pressure businesses into compliance, moves that may backfire on him. According to this Flathead Beacon article, he:

1.) Is responding to hundreds of complaints about businesses, and soaring COVID numbers in our valley and elsewhere, by sending investigators out into our town’s establishments.

Local Montanans Decide They’re Done Wearing Masks


I first noticed the pattern when picking up my cheese pizza at Little Caesar’s. Signs were everywhere: “Due to the Coronavirus, we are asking that you not wait in the lobby.” “Due to the governor’s order, masks are required for entry into this establishment.” With a little intake of breath, I realized I’d left my mask in the car. Then I saw that no one behind the counter was wearing a mask. Neither was the other customer, a man waiting casually in the lobby for his special order. The next time I got a hankering for pizza, I noticed the same thing. Montanans in our town are just finished with the mask mandate, and certain establishments and their clientele have tacitly agreed that going maskless is fine.

If I had a graph of mask compliance around here, it would show a steep, narrow curve. It’d start with about a third of locals in the stores wearing them, often older women and workers. Before the governor made the order, there were national guidelines, and probably some state and county recommendations, too, so we all had the feeling we were supposed to be wearing them. But the mask wearers stood out. And then the governor gave the order in July, some weeks after our re-opening, enforced through the businesses. Everyone was masked, and one of my friends told a story about being ordered out of a coffee shop after protesting she had a health condition, and told never to return. My graph shoots up to about 98%.

Group Writing: Myron Ferch’s Poems


Myron J. Ferch is not a household name, perhaps even among the Ferches. But Myron Ferch served as a private from 1941-1945 in World War II, notably in Papua New Guinea. He wrote a slim book of poems, Wartime and Other Poems. The cover shows him and his dog in front of a sheep wagon (Myron was from McCone County in Montana). His niece, Sally, owned a copy, signed by the author and autographed, “To a very nice niece. I hope your trail is a pleasant one.” Sally gave the booklet to her daughter, who gave it to me.

Myron set his down his war experiences in verse. I’ve chosen this one to share, entitled “The Letter from Mother”:

Papers, Please


When I was a kid, the copy of The Hunt For Red October we recorded off the TV was one of my favorite movies. My dad was a submariner, and while he had served on missile boats instead of fast attack ones like the American sub Dallas, he was able to give the perspective of someone who’d actually been there and done that in his commentary on the movie. (E.g., when Dallas evades a live torpedo by surfacing so quickly it breaches halfway out of the water, his comment was, “If you didn’t have an emergency before you did that, you do now, because if you don’t have enough air to repressurize the ballast tanks you’re going to be sinking as fast as you surfaced.”)

In the middle of the movie, there’s a quiet scene where the defecting Russian captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) and his first officer Vasily Borodin (Sam Neil) are discussing what life will be like in America.

Checking Off My Summer List, Part One


Summer in Northwest Montana goes by in a blur. One breezy, sparkling day, a season I call “late spring” emerges out of the weeks of rain, mud, fog, and false starts.  I’m ogling the blossomy landscaping at our McDonald’s drive-through and thinking that this must be the prettiest corner of the prettiest region in the US.  We’ve arrived, and I vow to hold on to each day so that the months don’t flip by quite so quickly. But then after just a couple family visits, an out-of-town trip, several smoky days we hope will go away, and some weeks of tourist-packed traffic, we’re suddenly back to new teacher training at my job. And then I see the back-to-school supplies at WalMart. And finally—the death knell for summer—come the first crimson leaves that signal we’re about to enter that other season, that one that is unpredictably glorious, and we hope long, but always the gateway into weeks of bleak indoor weather.

With a timeframe like this, those of us who have moved here because the lush woods and mountains drew us like powerful magnets have some things to get done in our spare time. We rebuke ourselves each sunny day that we’re indoors, especially when it’s not too hot (the sun out here is brutal) or threatening rain. I tend to have a mental summer checklist of things that need to happen by mid-September, because I’m lucky if October is hospitable enough for such things. I’d say I’ve done a fairly good job of covering the list this summer, with time to spare for more:

The Zombie Car Phenomenon


Several years ago, while I waited on the curb at the San Diego airport watching traffic flow by, I noticed something about the cars. They were different from the local vehicles in Northwest Montana, and although I’d lived in San Diego for 20 years, I had never made the connection. It wasn’t just the obvious preference for SUV’s and Subarus in the rugged north—no, it was something else, too. The city vehicles were shiny and updated. Many of them looked high-end. I thought of the beaters I often spotted in my Montana town—the ’80s sedans, the classic trucks, and the boxy early style of Subaru—and it made me realize the degree to which residents of my town make do with what they have. I was proud to be one of them.

In recent months, this trend toward junky vehicles seems to have gotten worse—or better, however you choose to look at it. Before I explain, however, I have to admit that my own little red car has its own issues. I will remove the log from my own eye first. This is a beloved vehicle that won’t quit, even though we’re at 198,000 miles. Each blemish tells a story. The longish dent on the driver’s side—that was a tangle with a tall stand of bamboo at the side of our driveway when we were in San Diego. My husband could not understand how I did that, as I had backed down our long, steep driveway a couple thousand times by then. I could understand, because I had backed down that impossible driveway two thousand times without incident, and it was only a matter of time before it got me, especially now that there was a giant, unforgiving stand of bamboo to complicate things.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see the Libertarian candidate drop out of the Montana U.S. Senate race and endorse GOP nominee Matt Rosendale against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.  They also roll their eyes as “former Republican” Max Boot urges Americans to vote for Democrats in every single race as the the only way to send a message to President Trump and rescue the Republican Party.  And they greatly enjoy Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren asserting she had no idea she was the subject of an ethics complaint for how she conducted fundraising off the Kavanaugh hearings.

Summer in Montana


My last post was about summer while I was growing up in Arkansas during which I made plenty of great memories. Now that I’ve been up here in Montana for several years, I’ve made quite a few Montana summer memories.

I moved to Montana in June of 2014. The day I left Arkansas, there was a heat index of 120 with 90-some-odd-percent humidity. I loaded up the U-Haul with the help of several friends, stuck the cat in his pet taxi, booted up an audiobook, and set off on my great trek across the country. I drove up to Sioux Falls, SD the first day and was delighted with the much cooler temperatures. I drove to Gillette, WY on the second day to stay with my handsome now-husband. (@kaladin) Then I finished the journey up to Bozeman on the third day. Terry had already picked us out an apartment on his last leave. Got the truck unloaded, and started to settle in for about a week before the new job started.