Thursday, June 30, 2016


Seasonal diversion
I call it Montana mania. While life can
be quite peaceful in Lewistown most of
the year, come summer the floodgates
unleash a frenzied tsunami. Suddenly
whatever solitude one had is lost for at
least until the end of September. Hence
empty houses are full of house guests
while our social calendars are booked
solid with back-to-back barbecues and
pot lucks. And while we really should
all be out enjoying this lovely place -
we're much too busy making potato
salad to enjoy the great outdoors.
Out of this world
Why do we do this to ourselves? Have
we all forgotten what summer truly is
all about? Before air conditioning we
all opted to escape the oppressive heat
somewhere else. Be that the mountains,
beach, or lake. Anyplace but home our
summers were filled with swimming,
backyard play, and catching fireflies at
dusk. Now we can't seem to find time
to escape reality. So like it or not, most
of us never if ever get out of town. All
of which means we rarely escape, kick
back, chill out. It's one endless grind!
Gone fishing...
Far away from it all it was easy to shift
gears. Within one's rustic oasis a layer
of either pine needles or sand lay upon
the floor. Nobody seemed to care and
if need be you swept the porch. One's
summer standards naturally slipped as
did their stress level. Therefore most of
us spent the summer in slightly damp
bathing suits without a care. That was
all due to the fact that there were NO
cell phones, cable, or other intrusions.
Thus everything that had seemed to be
so important was suddenly put on hold.
Weekend warriors
Every Friday Manhattan empties out
like an unplugged sewer. Everybody
races to the Hamptons, Berkshires,
or "Upstate." However once they hit
their supposed idyllic finish line, the
competition is actually just beginning.
While environment or accoutrements
are a bit more casual - one still must
jockey for the best table at the local
eatery along with the sweetest corn
at the farm stand. Then of course one
measure one's tan against all others.
Hence the rat race never really ends.
Road less traveled
Nowadays few if any of us hit the
escape hatch. Instead we multi-task
in an attempt to maintain a work/life
balance. Unfortunately in our frenzy
to have fun and pay the bills nobody
ever actually relaxes. Even after the
kids are finally put to bed, the "to do"
list rarely gets checked off. Instead
of sitting back and sipping vino we
Facebook. Burning one's candle at
both ends has never worked. So why
do we risk burning ourselves out in
the heat of summer? Can't we chill?
Catch as catch can
This summer we need to think differently.
Actually what we need to do is stop doing
whatever we're doing and reconnect with
ourselves. In truth that for most is beyond
challenging. Within our modern techno
streamlined existences, it's hard to draw
a proverbial line in the ever flowing sand.
And yet that's exactly what we must do
in order to refresh ourselves before life
returns back to normal post Labor Day.
And so even if you can't run away, step
out of your routine and smell the roses!
There is light at the end of the tunnel...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Fresh picked
For whatever reason, I've never been all
that fruity. Let me clarify that. Obviously
I'm what some have at times referred to
as a "fruit" given my preference for the
male species. However I personally have
always considered myself rather an exotic
variety of said slur. Rather than an apple
or banana my hope is that at least I fall
into the passion fruit category given at
times I can be dramatic. Whatever I may
be called, my first choice off a buffet is
never fruit. Unless theres a big bowl of
Starburst ready and waiting to be peeled.
Rare birds
Ever wonder exactly why the term "fruit"
was originally applied to gay men? Well
I looked it up. Oddly it's origins of usage
stem from the land of the limeys (think
Brexit). Even funnier is that the meaning
of said connotation connects to a theory
that fruit is soft and tender i.e. effeminate.
Well believe it or not finding that out was
a relief! I had always assumed it was all
about peeling, juicing or being rotten to
the core. No matter, said slur is no longer
applicable given most gay bars are now
full of six packs - and I don't mean beer!
Old acquaintance
At times I can be nuttier than a fruitcake.
While said sweet yet savory baked good
may be considered an archaic edible -
both Frank and I have a strange affinity
for it. Fortunately a friend in California
annually bakes some the best ones ever.
Last holiday "M" sent us several loaves
which we treated like GOLD. Carefully
parceling out daily portions which were
then slathered with butter and gone in a
flash. What could be more magical than
a delightful concoction of fruits and nuts
liberally soaked in RUM or BRANDY?!
All mixed up
Part of me finds the process of preparing
fresh fruit rather tedious. My problem is
that I seem to have a natural aversion to
skin (only on fruit that is). Therefore my
Pavlovian reaction to dealing with peeling
is that I find it unappealing. Fortunately
Frank periodically does it all for me when
he prepares macedonia di frutta - Italian
fruit salad. After carefully peeling, coring,
slicing, and dicing a variety of fruits he
liberally douses them with some grappa.
After a few hours of stewing in it's own
juice the end result is quite intoxicating.
My main squeeze
During a month in Portugal we fell in love
with Sangria. Each midday we sipped the
continental equivalent of Hawaiian punch.
Which reminded me of a society doyen
who served the best sangria at her summer
soirees. For eons I begged for the secret to
her success. Finally one drunken evening
she led me out to the trash. Upon opening
the lid she revealed what all the brew ha ha
was about. Before us lay a mound of empty
Boone's Farm Sangria bottles. She simply
added one sliced lemon, lime, orange, and
apple per bottle to create her magic elixir!
Slice of life
One can't discuss fruit without shifting to the
subject of pies. Long ago after a chic dinner
in Brussels a query was made regarding what
had been the best thing we'd ever eaten. My
reply without hesitation was Frank's mother's
cherry pie. Said tart of backyard fruit encased
in homemade crust was a culinary work of art.
For many pie pastry can be an enigma. While
in reality simply fat, flour, and water - Pearl's
crust was the manifestation of a lifetime of
practice made perfect. Now that she's gone, I
hope that by the time I hit my eighties I can
finally roll my dough with the best of them!
Free and easy?
Late July my eldest "E" and her family
arrive for their first visit to Montana.
One of her childhood favorites was
strawberry rhubarb pie. Later in life
she was diagnosed with Celiac. Hence
my challenge is to perfect a gluten free
crust before her arrival. Meaning that
Frank will be subjected to a period of
trial and error over the next few weeks.
Hopefully the fruit of my labors will
result in an upper crust that will make
her happy - and NOT sick. Now that's
what I call lovin' from the oven!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Build it and they WON'T come...

Behind the garden wall
Many have been wondering just what's
been going on at our house. For a few
weeks machines have been digging and
slowly walls and fences are arising out
of the muck. We've got several reasons
for erecting such a barrier to the outside
world. However unlike some who desire
to be our President, we've nothing against
our neighbors. In fact we rather like them.
Therefore the primary purpose of such a
perimeter stretch is to defer the frequency
of uninvited and rather ravenous visitors.
No matter how DEER they may be...

Friend or foe?
After three years of owning this property
we've finally gotten the lay of the land.
Over time we've come to the conclusion
that some seem to feel they have a right
to eat whatever comes in their way. All
of which means that any new and tender
shoots, shrubs, or other flora are but easy
targets for these interlopers. Of course
I'm speaking of our local deer population.
You know, those furry beasts who walk
around the neighborhood like they own
it? At this point we're so over them that
we're ready to play our own Trump card.
Oh deer me...
No bull. To be clear our motivation for
building a bunch of bulwarks is not that
we're nudists. Nor that we like others in
the area fear a invasion of bison. Rather
we simply want to make sure that those
who enter our rear end were invited.
Who wants to invest in flowers only to
have them disappear minutes after they
have been planted?! Thus we're drawing
a line in the sand. A six foot tall fence
that is. And before anybody worries,
we've worked closely with the city and
are doing it all by the book. Approved!
Noise control
Besides providing a massive buck buffer,
our new walls and fences also guarantee
a sound barrier. Beyond deer we've many
other wild things roaming our hood. Yet
rather than hop hedges they like to zoom
up and down the streets sans mufflers. A
rev of one's engine is simply an attempt
to make up for one's shortcomings. The
good news is we're men who respect our
neighbors by keeping the volume well at
a civilized level. Thus size doesn't matter.
Courtesy and kindness does. Could there
be a lesson to be learned in our example?
Outer limits
Frankly we have no regrets related to
establishing an aggressive "no venison"
zone. However we'll admit that we find
any form of exclusion - specifically as
it relates to human beings - suspect at
best. The very idea that someone might
suggest that keeping others out because
of  race, color, or creed is un-American.
Yet some seem ready and able to submit
legislation that would do just that and
MORE! When did our freedom become
more important than others? Have we
forgotten exactly how we all got here?!

Monday, June 27, 2016


Full circle
This time of year they are all over town.
Like swallows returning to Capistrano,
legions of long lost Lewistownians flock
back to central Montana once the warm
weather arrives. It's not hard to pick them
out of the crowd. Most sport coifs that are
a cut above any one can find locally. Many
of the male species sport sports coats to
dinner or church. Yet whats most obvious
is their happiness at being back "home."
You see, absence makes the heart grow
fonder. Even if things are not exactly as
one remembers. Can one truly go home?
Something to crow about
A local community group of which I'm
a member recently completed a survey
about our downtown. Over six hundred
provided data the majority being current
Lewistown or central Montana residents.
In the end less than ten percent of those
who responded identified themselves as
former born and raised residents. Sadly
after sifting through the feedback - the
comments - it became quite apparent that
while many former residents still remain
frequent visitors, few if any had anything
good to say about their home town.
Backward glance
Life goes on. Meaning that we're all
on a constant evolutionary track. The
ones who left and now occasionally
revisit maintain a nostalgic view of
the Lewistown that was. Confronted
by reality, they leave disappointed.
Which explains the vitriolic spews
of those who prefer to compare our
community to anything but the here
and now. Rather than support those
they've left behind, they mourn the
past. With no knowledge of why it
can never again be just like it was.
Out of the mouth of babes
To be clear the majority of said survey's
horrible, nasty, negative, mean spirited,
and vicious comments were from those
few and far between. Thus sadly a not
so silent minority of former residents,
those who claim Lewistown as "home
sweet home," talked plenty of nothing.
Hence I'm rather disappointed with our
prodigal sons and daughters. How can
we possibly benefit when distant friends
and relatives attack us from afar?! Have
they forgotten what it was like to live in
the land they now deem as misbegotten?!
When push comes to shove
Fortunately some errant offspring finally
do come home to stay. For many reasons
quite a few of the far flung return, retire,
and reinvest their futures into their past.
The good news is that those who have
misspent their youth elsewhere are now
spending their hard earned time and cash
in Lewistown. However what's even more
invaluable is that they bring back to the
fold their knowledge and experiences.
Thus everyone benefits from their time
away from home. All the reason that we
should be happy to welcome them back.
Do not disturb?
There are obvious reasons why some
of the locals who never left feel rather
proprietary about this town. They see
little reason to change and thus resist
any attempt to take Lewistown to a
better place. Few seem to care about
what others did while they were away.
Instead time has stood still and those
who return to the fray are expected
to pick up exactly where they left off.
While older and wiser, they are treated
like rebellious kids. Exiled to the town
time out chair reserved for outsiders.
A life well spent
Contrary to newspaper reports - I'm not
a returnee. Rather I'm someone who fell
in love with a native son. Like it or not
I refuse to be marginalized by the myopic.
And while newcomers like me are still in
a bit of a Montanan learning curve, we've
got plenty to offer. The difference is we're
not afraid of our city elders as we've no
residual childhood baggage holding us
back. We recent transplants are ready to
dive in and perform radical surgery if
necessary. Anything to save this place
that we've chosen to love and call home.
Glass half full?
In closing I have one request to those
who've been there, done that and have
no intention of ever coming back. IF
last thing Lewistown needs is a bunch
of armchair experts criticizing us from
afar. However, if you're willing to put
some skin in the game and actually try
to make a difference - we all welcome
your constructive feedback. If nothing
else, please stop the abuse and respect
the place that you claim to love dearly.
A hero's return
To those who are reinvesting their
hard earned lives back into the place
from whence you came - BRAVO!!
We welcome you back with open
hearts and minds. But please, once
you've settled in, SPEAK UP! We
realize you probably returned home
because you're tired and burnt out.
However we can all learn from your
hiatus from town. Wherever you've
been - whatever you've done - it had
to have been worth your while. Let's

Sunday, June 26, 2016

7th Day Surprise - WELL SUITED

Summer is here.
Meaning it's time to don the latest in swimwear.
However for many of us that's not a easy as it used to be.
Meaning the less exposed the better.
Of course then there are those
who opt to not...
wear anything that is.