Saturday, February 24, 2018
Living in a small town, it's easy to assume that
you know everyone. Especially if you share an
isolated enclave in the middle of nowhere with
six thousand other folks. Take grocery shopping
for example. It's virtually impossible not to meet
someone you know as you squeeze your melons.
Many residents in Lewistown strategically plot
their shopping slots based on avoiding frequent
shoppers. Yesterday a lady introduced herself on
the checkout line. Handing me a piece of paper
with her name and that of her mother's on it as
a reminder to say hello to Frank and his father.
Rarely am I speechless. Hmm... imagine that...
Bump in the night
The same phenomena happens wherever one
dines in town. Our most popular local eatery
is akin to dining at one's club or La Golue in
the old days. Inevitably you bump into friends,
family, or acquaintance upon acquaintance.
Many of whom have no problem stopping by
your table while your food gets cold. Out here
in the wild west we've no need for six degrees
of separation. That's because we're constantly
interacting within the same milieu. Thus much
like any rotating menu, after dishing it out with
the same folks on a weekly basis, even tried
and true favorites can become a bit tiresome.
Causing me to wonder how anybody ever gets
away with anything in this town. Obviously it's
awfully hard to keep a secret. Therefore how
does one carry on an affair when everybody
else claims to know everybody else's name,
relations, past imperfect, comings and goings?
Somehow per the local rumor mill yockels still
misbehave. But separating fact from fiction can
be challenging. In the old days Frank's mother
got all the scoop at the Beauty Parlor or across
the bridge table. Today Facebook seems to be
the primary information conduit. Hence like it
or not - in the end the word somehow gets out.
Getting to know you
Fully immersed in said morass, one may assume
that they know everybody. However what stands
out in the midst of familiarity is the unknown.
Now that we have our shop I'm encountering
all sorts of "new" people. Yet given my fellow
workers know most of said strangers by name
it's obvious I'm out of their loop. Proving that
even within a limited sphere of influence one
may not know who/what they've been missing.
As most of us have more than enough people in
our lives, chances are we'll keep our distance.
Yet it's nice to know that there are still a few
new faces out there waiting to be discovered.
Imagine being a new fish in a small pond such
as Lewistown Montana. Making friends can
be a challenge. And no matter where one lives,
the older we get - the harder it is to establish
new relationships. My "best" friend and I have
been together so long that it's hard to recall a
time when we didn't have each other. Hence
the very idea of some interloper attempting to
compete seems foolhardy at best. Now add the
context of a small pool of talent populated by
long term participants. One might assume that
it's virtually impossible to break through the
complacency. Yet in fact little could be easier.
You had me at hello
There is one phenomena in every relationship
that usurps all pre-concieved notions. Which
is chemistry. Somehow some of us just "click."
Hence even in a small town, somebody new
is likely to find somebody old who welcomes
their arrival. Much like finding a mate, all one
has to do is get out in order to make themselves
known, A process which while uncomfortable
inevitably reaps the benefit of a kindred spirit.
So if you're feeling lonely, you've nobody to
blame but yourself. And just think about it...
how much fun would it be to say "hello" to
somebody different at Albertson's?!
Friday, February 23, 2018
Hot or cold?
For the past week central Montana has been
consumed by snow and subzero temperatures.
Per the experts it's one of the worst winters in
over forty years. Meanwhile it snowed in Los
Angeles and Portland. Leaving westerners to
question the very idea of global warming. All
while temperatures soared in the eastern half
of our country. Breaking longstanding records.
In Manhattan some folks were even wearing
shorts given their high of seventy nine degrees.
Hence looking at a national weather map our
country was once again split into red and blue
halves. This time due to climate not politics.
Left or right?
America is obviously polarized. Especially in
relationship to many issues, we can't deny that
something is off balance. Every challenge we
confront only seems to split us asunder. Which
further limits our ability to accomplish anything
positive let alone resolve our differences. What
seems so easy is all the harder as we can't even
agree when, where, and how to join forces. And
so we stand on either bank of an ever growing
schism watching any who dare attempt to bridge
the gap flounder. Which leaves many Americans
to wonder if we can ever regain our momentum
and find a way to work together for the better.
The question is have we ever been a unified
front? Human nature being what it is, we can
assume not. History shows us that at times
we've been split before. Need I say anything
more than "Civil War?!" Many Americans
preferred to be pacifists than participate in
World War One. And as late as 1939 Nazi
factions were rallying in Madison Square
Garden. The only difference is that in days
past we could escape such discord. Or better
yet pretend it didn't exist. However in these
modern times of instant news it's impossible
to ignore our differences. Or... solve them.
Here or there?
Does confronting our disparate demons on a
daily basis make life better? Is it perfectly fine
that some watch CNN and others FOX? In
theory this is a free country hence to each his
or her own. Has our politically correct culture
created a gaggle of namby pamby sob sisters?
Have we raised expectations for commonality
to a level far beyond human reality? Well, in
my opinion the answer is yes... and no. You
see I've found that it's quite honorable to hope
for the best. Even while you expect the worst.
Maybe that's why the most optimistic idealists
often end up the most jaded of realists.
There was a time when I was a Pollyanna.
Meaning I assumed everyone had the best
of intentions. Slowly but surely life taught
me that under such a false guise of naivety,
disappointment was inevitable. We all have
opinions and perspectives that are based on
our individual experiences. Our challenge
is leveraging that diversity to a successful
end result. The good news is democracy
is based on principals of collaboration
and at times detente. Which means that as
Americans all we have to do is try to meet
somewhere in the middle. I hope we can...
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Hand to hand combat
This morning I glanced at my
hands. Finding the fact that such
a pair of macabre claws as those
laying before me were mine was
shocking. My mitts are those of
an old man. NOT the young lad
that I'd prefer to think of myself
as being. Obviously an overdose
of sun upon my pearly white skin
wreaked havoc. And whether one
calls them liver or age spots, said
ocelot-like pattern atop my digits
ain't pretty. BAN THE SOLEIL!
Dead end kid
All too often things we naively did in
the glory of our youth come back to
haunt us later in life. After years of
baking like bacon on the beach my
endangered epidermis must now be
frequently scraped by a dermatologist.
And while I rationally knew there was
little to no benefit in worshipping the
sun, I've resisted sun screen. I was
even once known to say it was better
to die young but tan. But who knew
I'd live long enough to look ancient?
Talk about being burned...
What goes around comes around is fine
for those one disdains. However when
it happens to yourself it's not a pleasant
experience. With age comes wisdom
along with the occasional remembrance
of things past. I'm now a bit doughy in
stature. Hence the last thing I want is
to bump into a former beau who is still
as buff as he was when I dumped him.
Such a blast from the past is a not so
gentle a reminder that my "good until"
date is past due. Much like milk, did
I sour while I ate too many cookies.
When able to ignore the ravages of
time, I'm can easily be content with
how I look. Time and gravity have
taken their toll. However I still think
that I clean up fairly well for an old
guy. Part of maturity is being able to
not fret over one's looks. My comfort
zone is well groomed but not plucked
or puffed. And yet somewhere along
the way I evolved to become what
my community calls a "bear". Now
rather than fight Father Time, I've
become what the boys call "Daddy!"
At this point I should simply accept my
reality. However like many men I prefer
to live in a state of denial. Shouldn't we
be able to handle the aging process like
grownups? After all, getting older is all
about balance. And in my opinion - the
benefits of longevity far outweigh any/
all liabilities. While I may not like how
my skin appears, I've never felt better in
it. Thus having had my time in the sun,
I plan to enjoy the balance of my sunset
days chilling in the shade. Anyone care
to join me for an early bird special?
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
I don't know about you, but the very idea of
a foreign power stirring our pot angers me.
With Mr. Mueller and his investigative team's
latest indictments, it's proven that Russians
influenced our last presidential election. The
only question being what impact did the reds
actually wreak? Denials of collusion aside,
one can only deem President Trump's tweet
spews as pitiful. At this point his level of self-
absorbtion is so skewed that even the Parkland
shooting is but fodder for his justifications.
Thus rather than rise to the occasion, he opts
to sink to new lows. Oh how the mighty fall...
At some point we all learn that it's impossible
to completely eradicate one's former sins. In
today's world everything we say and do is on
the record somewhere... some how. Hence the
amalgam of Mr. Trump's prior Russian related
platitudes, denials, lauds, and lies are out there
for all to see and hear. And if that wasn't bad
enough, dalliances once silenced for cash are
now speaking out. Then of course you have
Richard Gates, Mr. Manafort's cohort who has
agreed to cooperate with the enemy. Finally
we know that somewhere lies a massive data
trail which once revealed cannot be denied.
Guilty as charged
We're now faced with a depth of debauchery
that is beyond belief. Consider the influence
that jaded lobbyists have on our local, state,
regional, and national politicians. Instead of
representing our interests they are in essence
hired guns. Juggling a mixed bag of priorities,
one must assume that said balancing act gives
somebody an unfair advantage. However post
events in Parkland Florida it finally seems that
Americans are all too aware of said corruption.
Now out of the mouth of babes come demands
that servants of democracy put America first!
The question is can they afford to do just that?
President Trump may assume that the world
revolves around him. However like all other
elected officials - we the people are the reason
that he has his job. Yet rather than mourn our
murdered children and educators, he maligns
the FBI. Instead of limiting access to killing
machines, our leaders spew vapid platitudes.
Ignoring their role as OUR representatives,
they warp the rules to insure a steady flow of
cash into their coffers. It shouldn't be all about
them given it's all about us. We the people are
the reason that they are employed. Their job
is to run OUR government as WE see fit.
Out of the box thinking
Sadly it's obvious that we must remind our
elected officials of their moral responsibility.
Having been caught in the act, it's time that
they serve the needs of Americans. And not
foreign powers, corporate giants, or biased
bigots with not so hidden agendas. Yet faced
with public notice they continue to ignore the
pleas of their constituents. Giving us no choice
but to react in some way at some time. It's time
that we spoke out against graft, greed, and self
aggrandizement. Fortunately for us, it's only
two hundred and fifty nine days until Election
Day 2018. Hmm... no wonder they're scared!
Monday, February 19, 2018
Far away from it all
Living in an isolated area offers many rewards.
First there is the beauty of our surroundings.
Central Montana's rolling prairies circled by
multiple mountain ranges is a sight to behold.
Second, there is the solitude of being one of
a very few who are lucky enough to live here.
To put that in context - Fergus County averages
just two point seven people per square mile.
WhileNew York City averages twenty eight
thousand. Last but not least, isolation fuels
individuality. Thus Lewistown has it's share
of characters. However few of the chains that
have turned America into a sea of pablum.
Living two hours from the nearest Walmart
should be nirvana. And most of the time that's
what Lewistown reminds me of. However in
the dead this winter, the worst since 1977, it's
hardly paradise. Normally one can get about
anything sent to their doorstep. In fact our
FedEx, UPS, and USPS teams deliver boxes
hither and yon on a daily basis. However in
the frozen tundra even the best struggle. To
date we've had over three feet of snow within
just a few weeks. Today our high is forecast
to be minus three below zero Fahrenheit. And
need I remind you that it's still only February?
Forging a trail
Here in town we're barely keeping our heads
above the latest snowfall. Even if you wanted
to purchase a snowblower, there are none to
be had in town. After shoveling and shoveling
for eons we're all exhausted. And yet Mother
Nature keeps pouring it on. Beyond city limits
folks are snowed in. With drifts rising to five
or six feet it's hard to get anywhere. However
some can't wait for until the cows come home
given chances are they can't. Nobody wants to
chill at home when their biggest investment is
out there freezing to death. If there ever was a
time for pioneer spirit it's now!
This is still the wild west. Yet many residents
grouse about the cost of living. Mostly it's all
about groceries. However few acknowledge
the reason that things cost more. Somehow
everything has to get from here to there. And
unless you're some mega giant like Amazon -
it's hard to absorb that excess expense. Having
just shipped a truckload of antiques here from
the east I can tell you it ain't cheap. However
an even bigger challenge is finding someone
willing to schlep the stuff out to these boonies.
Someone smart enough too know what it takes
to brave the wild west in the dead of winter!
A week before we left New York we had two
chairs loaded on a truck. From John Boone,
we knew that they'd be perfect in our library
(my office.) Yesterday a tractor trailer from
California pulled up to our house to deliver
said goodies. At their time of arrival we also
happened to be in the midst of a major white
out. Soon the driver was carrying our chairs
through a foot of freshly fallen snow in his
tennis shoes. Obviously out of his element,
he commented on how beautiful it was. And
that he'd already had been stuck in the snow
in Great Falls that morning. Soon he was off.
Can you dig it?!
Or so we thought he was. Quickly it became
apparent that he was going nowhere quickly.
After several good Samaritans attempted to
dig him out, he called home for help. Hours
later a tow truck finally got him moving again.
All of which causes me to wonder if he'll ever
return to Big Sky country. If and when he does
it's safe to assume he'll be better prepared. And
know better than to pull into a side street that
obviously hasn't been plowed. But then again,
he confessed that he's rarely been so far off the
beaten track. Nor driven through Montana in
the worst winter weather in decades!
Sooner or later
All of the above reminds me that some things
are worth waiting for. Instant gratification is
certain to make one happy. Yet I think that the
anticipation, planning, and looking forward to
the something new is even more fulfilling. All
of this winter weather will make the upcoming
glory of spring all the more amazing. In the
meantime, pouring over garden catalogs as
one plots their plot somehow defers the winter
blues. Replacing it with a burst of color, life,
and excitement. Now the only question is how
to get all of that stuff here in time for planting.
Wishing your dreams safe travels!
Sunday, February 18, 2018
During these dark days of winter
all I seem to want to do is
Somehow the more it snows,
the more pulling the covers over one's head
seems a viable option.
Call it cocooning, lazy, lethargic,
or a combination thereof.
All that I know is that I'd rather stay in