Monthly Archives: November 2010

Growing up at the Table

This short essay by Michael Simic took me back to days of listening to grownups solving all life’s problems with a lot of embellishment and a great deal of laughter.  I too was much more interested in listening to the adults talk than playing with the other children. Click on the quote for the essay.

Even with all the cooking shows on television and all the thousands of cookbooks available in bookstores, fewer and fewer people have the time to cook at home and invite friends over. Thinking about it the other day, I realized that most of what I learned about my family members and their lives I heard over family meals. More than that, some of the stories I still tell my friends I first heard some relative or family friend relate over a long dinner or Sunday lunch more than sixty years ago

In Denmark, at this time of year, they spend three or more hours at dinner.  They hunker down for the winter, turn off the overhead lighting and use lots of candles.  They call it “Hyggeliq op”  pronounced “Hugh gleeg”  or “to cozy up”.  In the summer, they spend their time out in the long sunny days.  But when it gets overcast and cold, they spend more time with family and friends and “cozy up”.  They even stay out at the cafes that line the harbor.  They have beautiful big stadium type blankets on every chair and a heat lamp at the table.  There they knock back some hot toddies wrapped in their blankets.  So if you are in a place where there is cold and snow, have more dinner parties and “cozy up” and solve all the problems of the world.

Waiting For a Chinook

We finally got a little luck. A chinook blew in and blew away the snow and cleared our road so I can get out. I’ve been here at the ranch since Tuesday and I need to talk to a person in person.  I always wonder where the snow blows. Probably to Fargo.  So thank you Miss Chinook.  Now I can go in search of Arborio rice to make a lovely mushroom risotto.
A chinook is a warm wind from the South/Southwest. It has a warmer sound to it too. The shrill howling of the frigid northern wind screamed like some sort of trapped  mad as hell spirit. The sound of the chinook is at first a gentle hum that increased in loudness and intensity like a thousand cowgirls and cowboys riding that wind and having a hell of a good time. But mere mortals should stay inside even if the wind is warmer.

Charlie Russell, the renowned Montana artist, painted the famous and disturbing “Waiting for a Chinook”. It chronicled the devastating winter of 1886-1887 when 362,000 head of cattle perished in Montana. 60% of the Montana Territory herds were gone. Small operators had grown hay and many of them survived.  But the big beef speculators lost most of their herds.  Their investors demanded payment and so many of the big outfits sold out their cattle.  This was the beginning of the end for the open range cattle ranching.  It also saw the rise of sheep raising since sheep had fared much better than the cattle in the brutal winter.

Stir Crazy w Update on the Ground Blizzard

Before the Wind

Will I succumb to cabin fever and go stir crazy inflicting my husband with all manner of diatribes about unfeeling fascists and greedy grifters?  It’s been snowing on and off since last Thursday.  Most of the time I could make it into town except last Saturday when it was too icy to travel the 3 miles in to town (Yes, I’m lucky. Some of my friends must drive up to 20 miles to town).  That day they closed the interstate from here to Columbus, MT which is about 37 miles. Friday night the snow and ice got serious, but the town was packed.  Our monthly art show at our artists cooperative gallery was on as well as a benefit Italian dinner at The Homestead B & B.  The town was also still crawling with hunters. Friend Phyllis said that it was treacherously slick coming from up the Boulder (the river valley where they shot “The River Runs Through It” and “The Horse Whisperer”), but if she said, “If I let a little bad weather stop me, I’d never leave the house and have no social life at all.”  She had very fashionable high heeled boots on for the art show, but confessed she had her heavy duty boots in the car for the drive home.  My friends Dave and Omi drove from Livingston (35 miles away) for the prime rib at The Grand, but he’s a Teamster.  They laugh at ice and snow. Besides, there was no wind. Continue reading

Know-It-All Stubborn Mules

muleMichael Lewis has this quote at the beginning of his book “The Big Short”.  Kind of explains the whole financial crisis in a nutshell and the whole political circus going on nationally and all the way down to the local level.

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.”  -Leo Tolstoy, 1897

A lot of people have their mind already made up despite having facts placed before them.  I heard this recently from a city council member who doesn’t like “public parks” especially ones who are trying to be “sustainable” because that means they are part of U.N. Agenda 21.  “You’re not going to change my mind.”

You see, that’s the first thing I would ask any candidate or politician.  “Could you change your mind?…without a bribe, that is?