Just Add Snow

First real blast of winter, just before night falls, and I love it.

Trees with winter finery
Trees with winter finery
Darla the Adventure Dog breaks trail
Darla the Adventure Dog breaks trail
Safety first.
Safety first.
"Finally," said Darla the Adventure Dog, mid-storm, surveying the wilderness spread before her. "The kind of weather where legends are made!"
“Finally,” said Darla the Adventure Dog, mid-storm, surveying the wilderness spread before her. “The kind of weather where legends are made!”
Down around the bend
Down around the bend


Rage Spike

3:00 PM UPDATE: Turns out it was AN INSIDE JOB!

After talking to my mom, who suggested that maybe the willows had been cut intentionally, I called the local FWP office and talked to the manager who handles Council Grove, Mike Hathaway. Turns out they did indeed do the cutting, or at least it was done in their name via an Americorps volunteer, who also performed the initial planting. The tops of the trees were starting to die, and they were being damaged by the wind, so they were cut in hopes of encouraging root growth. Mike and I also discussed the fact that people were still obviously accessing the river via that closed spot, even though there is available access about twenty feet away. He asked my opinion as to what I thought should be done next, etc. So it was a good conversation. I told him I felt a little guilty for feeling the outrage, and he told me I shouldn’t. “Get a group of us managers together,” he said, “and you’ll hear plenty of stories of just the kind of vandalism you suspected here.” So while I briefly thought that maybe people DON’T suck, it turns out they actually still do.


Whenever I’m not traveling, every day I take Darla the Adventure Dog for a walk at a river access location nearby called Council Grove. It is actually a primitive state park. During poor weather, or cold weather, we practically have it all to ourselves. As summer rolls in, it sees more and more use. It’s beautiful, with copious wildlife, primarily birds. It is an easy place to love, and sauntering there is often the highlight of my day. I know it is for Little D as well.

A few weeks ago, along about a 40-50 foot stretch of riverbank, where the edge has broken off and collapsed into the flow of the river when it runs higher than normal, the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks people posted several signs that read as follows:

Willows have been planted in this area to restore natural habitat, prevent flooding, and stabilize the river banks. Help keep Council Grove a great place for both wildlife and people by not disturbing the vegetation on the banks, keeping your dogs on leash, and accessing the river at suggested river access points only. Thank you for your cooperation.

I’ve spoken with the game warden a couple times when I’ve encountered him down there, and he’s a nice enough guy. He realizes most people don’t keep their dogs on leashes, and isn’t really a hard-ass about it. But as it gets busier, he needs to enforce it. I understand. Most people take the risk. It isn’t a big deal.

They planted at least 20 or 30 willows along that bank. There is a perfect access spot right adjacent to the closed area, with a sign indicating it as such. I was out there Monday the 15th, and the new growth looked good. The next day I left on a work trip, and wasn’t out there again until the afternoon/evening of my return on the 19th. In the intervening time some fucking asshole had come along and cut off all the willows and absconded with them. They range in size from a bit bigger than my thumb to as small as my little finger. All gone.

click to make bigger
click to make bigger

Who the hell does something like that? Some jerk-off mad at MFWP? And they’re too dumb to realize it’s everyone else they’re hurting too? It is the kind of senseless vandalism I just don’t get. Leaving cigarette butts and beer and soda cans and shit like that pisses me off because it’s lazy. This fills me with rage. What sucks is they will likely never be caught either. What a waste. I’m making tons of effort these days to try and get my head straight and be a better person and all that, but stuff like this (not to mention racism and mass shootings and free trade agreements and oil rigs headed to Alaska and on and on… ) really makes me wish for a freakin’ pandemic or something. Truly.

Well. Rather than close on a bad note, here is a collection of Darla the Adventure Dog in action at Council Grove. She’s always happy so long as some rambunctious puppy isn’t all up in her grill.



And here are just a couple other shots I’ve taken there recently.






So Fashionable

I almost missed it, but it turns out the Fall Fashion insert was in the Sunday Missoulian this week. It came out sooner than I expected, but, thanks to a tip Julia received from a customer at Betty’s today, and verification by my always vigilant mother, I was able to wrangle a copy.


These inserts come out twice a year, Spring and Fall. What is significant is that this time last year  Julia and I debuted as the writers for it, so Sunday’s edition was our third time writing the articles (all but one, though Julia contributed to that one as well).


I have to guffaw at the idea that I, of all people, am writing fashion articles. I have to admit though that it’s a gas; I’ve come to look forward to doing it. It’s fun to collaborate with Julia (who is the real brains behind what is going on and what we do with it), plus research and write my own stuff. It’s one of the things I love about writing, the researching and trying to make something new (to me) interesting. It’s also a challenge because, for better or worse, I don’t think our stuff gets edited. Occasionally there are some formatting typos, but for the most part they come out pretty clean.


In particular Julia was amused that, as she put it, “‘Mr. Rhino-hide’ wrote an article about skin care. Your idea of personal skin care is what, rubbing gravel all over your face?”


Her comments refer of course to my constant running commentary as to how I want a weathered countenance ala dudes like Jim Harrison as I get older. I keep threatening to spend the winter sleeping with my head sticking out the bedroom window, particularly on these cold, windy nights in Western Montana.

Portrait by Andy Anderson for MyNorth magazine

It’s good it’s in the paper, though, considering I’ve got a face meant, at best, only for print or radio. I mean, would you take that kind of advice from this guy?

"Don't forget to wear your fuckin' lip balm."
“Don’t forget to wear your fuckin’ lip balm.”


I landed some photos in it too. In that capture of the page with the skin care article, toward the bottom, I shot the picture in the Betty’s ad to the lower left on the facing page. Then I also did the interviews and shot all the pictures in the following scarves article as well.


As I said, this is a fun project to work on. One of those things where it’s cool to take ideas to fruition, then have something printed on old school newsprint to show for it. It’s sad when one considers those days may be numbered, so I’m sure to enjoy it when I can.


A Musical Event of Interest to Few Readers of This Blog

Buzzo-7Last week I was fortunate to publish an interview in the Independent with one of my favorites, Buzz Osbourne of the band (the) Melvins. He’s the guitar player/singer/primary songwriter for the band. I had interviewed him once before, back in 2008, when the band was touring behind their Nude With Boots record. The guy is a great interview, very smart, and endlessly quotable. The word counts on these articles don’t allow nearly enough.

This time around he is doing a solo acoustic tour. I have the CD, This Machine Kills Artists, dig it, and was very curious to see what it was like live. I was able to get on the guest list (one of the occasional, although rare, perks of the Indy freelance gig) with a +1, and Sid went with me.

The show was fantastic. Buzz totally changed my idea about what a lone guy playing an acoustic can do. No merely standing in front of the mic, or sitting in a chair . . . he was an energetic and constantly moving performer, just like in the fully amped up Melvins environment. It was a revelation. I liked it way more than I thought I would. The performance was HEAVY, and his stories between batches of songs were hilarious. There are plenty other people out there doing the singer/songwriter thing, and doing it well. But they ain’t doing it like Buzz is, which really shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone who knows anything about his musical history. I couldn’t have been more pleased.




Adam Faucett

Also of note was the dude who opened the show, a more traditional singer/songwriter from Arkansas named Adam Faucett. Man, he was fantastic too, delivering the kinds of goods Steve Earle thinks he does. A great and powerful voice and some gorgeous songwriting too. I was mightily impressed with his stuff. Bought his latest record on vinyl, a CD of his previous record, and tipped him an additional $10. I’ll be singing his praises to whomever will listen, believe me.

adam-5 adam-8

I’m happy that I got a few decent images out of it. The light at the Palace sucks, and I’m a shitty music photographer because I’d rather be rocking out than taking pictures, but it all worked out in the end. All in all, a pretty swell way to spend a Monday night in the Big City.