Mothersell Montana

Town of Bannack, Montana, current time 2017, sister city to Mothersell, Montana. Looking down Main Street towards the East past the Spokane Mining House during an Autumn Snowstorm

 

This is primarily a story about Mothersell Montana, a mining town in name only most of the time. It is located on the Little Locust river eleven miles upstream from the confluence of the Little Locust river and Grasshopper creek, and is nestled into a low valley surrounded by hills containing some of the richest gold ore ever assayed.

Mothersell is similar in nature to Bannack, Montana, its sister city, which is also a mining town located six miles below the confluence of the two gold-laden water sources, but different in one major aspect. The difference will become apparent as we learn more of the town’s history. Bannack was a major player in the gold rush days being the first capitol of Montana, and a center of much of Montana’s history, but it is best known for making early miners rich as they mined and pulled gold out of Grasshopper creek at a huge rate. Those days were the town’s high point but after the gold panned out the town’s days were numbered. Folks began to move out, marching forward in the eternal quest for wealth and the better life.

Bannack still stands in a faded slightly rundown state, a mere shell of its former glory, near Dillon, Montana in the Southwest part of the state. Now a State park and tourist attraction where well meaning folk come to see what it was like to live in an early Montana mining town. The buildings, most of them now saved from certain destruction by the elements, neglect and time itself stand proudly along the towns main street and can be entered and explored at will. It offers a glimpse of what towns looked like in the mid 1860’s. The good people of Montana have seen fit to invest time and money into bringing the town back from the brink of disaster, not to mention oblivion, and should get a hardy thank you and any other kind of support one is willing to provide.

The difference between the two towns is dramatic and unbelievable if you are able to suspend belief in the story itself. Bannack is rooted in history and the present in a very tangible way. You can go there. You can walk its streets. You can enter the buildings and feel the presence of the souls of those who lived, loved and died there. Whereas Mothersell couldn’t be more different.

Mothersell exists in a place where time acts differently. It is a place where its very existence depends on your good fortune, not its own. If you are one of those people that luck has smiled upon you can stumble across the actual townsite where Mothersell is located and if you have been particularly fortunate the town will come into focus and solidify and exist as it was, or always is, if you will, and you may become a part of its life for what ever time is allotted to you.

As mentioned before time has a particular strange way of occurring here. When you enter Mothersell you leave the current world around you behind and become an active participant in its daily life. But remember, time is strange here, what may be a day or so in your other world may be a year or more in Mothersell. During that time you forget about your other existence and live instead in a golden haze of happiness and contentment. Everything you ever wanted is now available to you but only so long as you reside in Mothersell. The town itself will soon recede from its current existence and return to its place outside of your time. If you are fortunate enough to be accepted by the town you can and will remain with it and leave your old life behind you. If through some terrible act of providence you aren’t accepted, you return to your normal life except you get to keep your memories of that glorious time spent within its confines. Which you will find are both a treasure and a curse. Fate has a way of playing cruel and unusual jokes on the unwary. It’s been said “Make a plan, God needs to laugh.”

Unlike Bannack which will undoubtedly be there for you to visit for the near and foreseeable future, Mothersell is a fleeting unattainable place to revisit. Once is all mere mortals get to have and if it doesn’t work for you it is not available again. It is still there just slightly set aside on a different plane from our existence. Sometimes if the light is just right and you are paying particularly close attention you can see it floating just out of your reach, a treasure, like gold, but even more difficult to obtain.

Unfortunately cameras don’t work in Mothersell. All you get for an image is a golden glow instead. So instead images from her sister city Bannack have been used. The two towns were very close in the style of architecture and placement of their buildings so these images almost convey what it was like to be there. Of course there is no way to convey the actual beauty and undeniably wondrous presence of the town itself but for that you have to have had the most precious gift of all. Being able to have been there for awhile. Who knows, perhaps if the gods decide to take part in our lives again the town may reappear but that of course is up to them. If so I’ll be waiting.

 

 

 

 

Lost Our Lease

We lost our lease. That’s right, we woke up the other morning and there was a Cease and Desist, Immediate Evacuation of Premises, Get the Hell Out notice scotch taped to the front gate of The Institute, right where everybody could see it. We thought it was a joke at first. I mean who serves one of those on bright yellow legal pad paper written in black magic marker to an organization (**The Institute) of our stature. They didn’t even use a lot of Scotch tape. One little measly piece stuck to the flange of our *front gate padlock, the second largest in the world by the way, we’d a got the first largest but it was simply too big and the freight to have it airlifted here was out of our budget, we could have watched one full year of DIRECTV (Total package including HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, the works) for what it cost to send just the key.

A couple of our interns from the Pavlovo Arts College No. 23, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia made it for us in exchange for The Institute allowing them to work here under assumed names to escape being sent to some gulag way the hell north where the sun not only doesn’t shine, but draws heat away from the earth in a particularly commie way. Since our padlock alone weighs 916lbs. and is 56.8 in. × 41.3 in. × 10.2 in. including the key we thought we were safe from any process servers, errant bondsmen, Amway sales persons, ex’s, those who deliver religious pamphlets to your door under the guise of saying they like you, census takers, unwanted visitors, some wanted visitors that we’re not real happy with right now, lawyers except ours, rabbis, priests, clergy from unaffiliated churches with really weird names, people who just want to come in and have a glass of water, those who are not pure of heart, puppy haters and general riff-raff.

But noooo, the notice was sent by our government, that’s right, the one that we cheerfully and with full malice a forethought voted in last time. We mean you must have because we sure as hell didn’t. We had what should be an ironclad lease made with Teddy Roosevelt himself back in the days when a Presidents word meant something.

The lease said and I quote ” These guys who forthwith and in perpetuity, hereinafter known as The Institute shall have and hold for the next millennium the right to hold a huge giant p-pot of land there in the mountains with any buildings, corals, parking garages, intern camps, The Big House, helipads, farm implements of unusual design, and anything else their clever little minds can come up with for as long as the sun may shine and the grass may grow and people can walk free upon the land without interference of any cheesy government body. So help us, and I mean really, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, President of the United States and any other place we can get using that new Manifest Destiny thing.”

So you can see how we were confused not to mention vexed as to why we were being summarily kicked off our property. I mean we’re tax payers, sort of. We got rights. We called our attorney who unfortunately was getting his nails done and hasn’t gotten back to us yet with a frantic plea to buy us some time. That was last Tuesday and now we’re heading into the holiday and I’m sure the whole darn office down at Acme Law firm and Tractor Repair is taking the next week off, so we had to get packing and hit the steps. We mean if Teddy Roosevelt’s word isn’t good anymore, what is, we ask you. In trying to contact the present administration to perhaps get some assistance, even our Russian friends sent an email but all we got back was a tweet saying “Did you vote for us? huh? Well, Didya? Hope you like that new refrigerator box.” “the ‘Loser'” being understood. So in the meantime we are sort of thankful for that refrigerator box and the space under the North College Ave. bridge we get to set it in.

There’s more to this story and we’ll be disclosing that information as soon as we figure out how to work this Sterno stove and refrigerator box warmer and get some wholesome cat food in our stomachs. That’s not even addressing the problem of how to hook-up our Wi-Fi. We are a little worried about our staff. Make that ex-staff. The last time we saw them they were milling around the pieces of our lock that had been cut off by the Sheriffs department down at the front gate. Things were pretty chaotic what with dozens of empty acetylene bottles from torching the padlock laying around and various organizations checking ID’s and chasing after those individuals racing off into the sagebrush and hiding under vehicles and so on. Small sad lines of not only unpaid but now unemployed interns shuffling off single file in various directions where towns and villages were known to exist. That was pretty pitiful we got to say.

But we’ve been in tough spots before. It hasn’t always been Peaches and Cream for the Institute. We’ve been kicked in the Fuon Bwey Bweys before and we’ve gotten up and staggered off into the bushes and puked our guts out. So that parts not new. The one thing we’ve got going for us is that you can not keep a good Institute down. And we’re the best damn Institute you’re going to find. To paraphrase Woody Guthrie who wrote a song for the Ladies Auxiliary one time and we adopted it and changed all the words so we wouldn’t have to pay royalties on it. Here’s our semi-non-official version

Here’s our version

Oh, The Institute
It’s a good Institute.
‘Bout the best damn Institute
That you ever did see.
If you need an Institute,
See the director’s Institute.
It’s the Director’s Institute.  (Pretty good, right?)

OK, Here we presented Woody’s version to show you how much we improved it

Oh, the Ladies’ Auxiliary
It’s a good auxiliary.
‘Bout the best auxiliary
That you ever did see.
If you need an auxiliary,
See the Ladies’ Auxiliary.
It’s the Ladies’ Auxiliary (Link to Woody’s version so you can hear how great it is) https://youtu.be/cvnxdLptWZA?list=RDcvnxdLptWZA

 

*Our front gate padlock before it was destroyed by bad government people trying to curb our ability to be as ridiculous as we want to be .

** Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

 

 

Bring Out Your Dead

It’s pretty much the middle of Winter here at *The Institute and you can tell that it’s going to be a tough one. This morning the sun was 15 minutes late rising and that is an omen of the worst kind. The thermometer was below zero, how much below we don’t know as one of the interns drove a nail right through the big round face of it right below the zero. When asked why he did that he replied “If the needle can’t go below zero then it can’t get any colder than that.” On the surface the logic of that makes perfect sense. Our interns have many strange beliefs and customs and as they come here from all over the country, all over the world actually, we get a lot of loony ideas.

We also get our share of mid-winter diseases. It has been a big worry for our crack medical staff who have been keeping a close eye on the conditions of the interns quarters and surrounding area. This morning for example it was noted that many of the small fires that the interns use to heat their tents and igloos had gone out. That is usually almost always bad. No fires means they didn’t wake up to stoke the fires and that means lots of dead interns. In fact you could hear the cries of the cart men making their way through the crowded paths that wend their way through the intern camp. Here’s one below.

dead

“Bring out your dead ! Bring out your dead!” It’s a terrible cry and is guaranteed to put you off your feed clear into the lunch hour. Like my grandpa on my mom’s side used to say “That’s enough to gag a man’s hinder.” Simple freezing to death is not the only health problems that crop up during these cold times. Below are just a few of the near fatal to real fatal diseases that can run rampant through the camp.

Bilious Fever, (this is like typhoid, malaria and other bad stuff with bile emesis) Cacogastric, (Upset stomach but really upset), Deplumation, (where your eyelashes fall out), Erysipelas, (this is a Contagious skin disease due to Streptococci with vesicular and bulbous lesions, right) , Scrivener’s palsy, (writer’s cramp, sounds minor but not if it happens to you.) Worm fits, (Just what it says), Stranguary, (Painful, interrupted urination caused by spasms of the bladder. This happens when you try and go in the cold especially below zero). Trench mouth, (This is pretty self-explanatory, you get it from living in trenches.) Phthiriasis, (this is an ugly one I don’t even want to talk about it.) And this is by no means a complete list. This is just what was recorded at sick call this morning. Unfortunately yours truly was the one with Scrivener’s palsy, which as you know is writer’s cramp. I only mention it because it really hurt bad and I couldn’t write anything for over 15 minutes. The Doc’s gave me a codeine shot in the temple so I could finish this post, but then I’m done for the day.

As we look out over the grounds of our usually bustling Institute all we see is a depressing view of the valley where the stock all seem to be lying on their sides with all four feet out straight, icicles hanging off their hooves. The jury is out on whether you can thaw out a cow or not. The wind is blowing shifting snow sideways making walking difficult and it mixes with the smoke from the funeral pyres down in meadow making visibility very poor. We’re hoping that we don’t lose more than 60% of our interns otherwise some of the main staff will actually have to do something around here. All we can do is put one day in front of the other and watch the thermometer. It has to warm up sometime.

By the way we found this image that shows brighter times and thought we’d share it with you. It has colors that indicate warm sunlit days, it brings thoughts of the sounds of insects buzzing in the background, a gentle breeze unbroken by the hacking, coughing and spitting of those afflicted or the squeaking wheels of the cart laden with the days harvest. It’s nice. We’re all looking at it a lot. Hope you’re doing ok. Remember, cover your mouth when coughing unless you don’t like the person you’re talking to. Then cough like a Mother.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

Untold Stories

What is it about these old places that causes you to stop and reflect. The questions    “What happened here?” “Who lived here?” “Why did they walk away?” and countless others immediately spring forth to the curious mind. How many stories are untold about those who lived and loved and died here.

The air of desolation around the buildings makes it difficult to see that at one time this must have been a fairly prosperous place. At least for the standards of the time anyway. In the distance are green fields and tree-lined creeks that say there is water nearby, so they could get in a hay crop. That meant they probably had cattle. They needed to enlarge the original building and even if it was an adobe add-on it meant that things were good enough to warrant that.

The old 1938 Chevy in the yard brings more questions. That was a pretty pricey vehicle when it was new. It was one of those huge cars that they called a ‘Camel back’ because of the big trunk lid, kind of like a lady’s bustle, on the rear of the car that gave it an imposing air. Why did they quit driving it? How long were they there before they bought it, or did they drive to this spot in it when they bought the place from the old folks that homesteaded it and couldn’t make a go of it anymore. If they left why didn’t they drive off in it, or did something strange and terrible like the influenza come through and take the whole family out. The neighbors would probably shun the place if that happened. That could account for the leaving of something as valuable as that car behind. Or possibly they couldn’t afford or even get tires for it. There was a war coming on and when it hit there weren’t any tires to get. They were rationed. By the time the war was over the car had fallen into ruin, the engine rusted shut, the mice haven eaten all the wiring, there was so much damage that it didn’t make it, so maybe that beautiful old car just sat and slowly came apart. Like their lives did.

Who ever built the place knew a little something about building. The knee braces that help support the roof rafters were put there by somebody that knew about dead weight loads that the buildup of snow on the roof causes. The winters here could be long and full of peril to the inexperienced. Lots of outbuildings simply collapsed under the weight of a winter full of snow.

The weather played a big part in the lives of these folks. The endless wind blowing across these plains and its ceaseless buffeting of man and beast, has caused the dark side of a few of those imprisoned here by their ties to the land and family, to cross over into that place where insanity rules and do terrible things to their loved ones and themselves. Sometimes whole families were lost. It is true that the wind can make you crazy.

There must have been times though, hopefully many times, where the house was filled with laughter. Light from the newest coal oil lamps direct from Sears and Roebuck spilling gaily out of the windows, the sounds of a Victrola escaping to spread across the darkened yard until it faded away or was swept off to who knows where by the wind. Kids laughing and shrieking while getting stories read to them about faraway places and impossible creatures having exciting adventures. The good smells of cookies being baked and dishes clattering in the sink as mom and the oldest daughter set the kitchen right. All of the sights and sounds of a house loved and well cared for by those who lived there. There had to have a balance between the good stories and  the bad. Otherwise it’s just too depressing to think about.

Now due to events we’ll never know about the place has fallen to rack and ruin. Time has taken its toll and the house has reached a point where it is unlikely to ever be brought back to a livable state. Eventually it will collapse under the winter snows or be blown down in one of the gale force storms that sweep over the plains taking it secrets and it stories and its history with it. Sad as that may be it is part of the daily life out here on the plains of Montana. Just down the road aways there is a new house going up. Life starts afresh and another story is begun. Hopefully they will be good stories.

 

High Country Magic

There are probably one or two of you out there who don’t believe in magic. Don’t be ashamed. It’s all right. You were most likely dropped on your head when you were very little and that part of your brain, the part that believes in magic, got a little scrambled. This is not your fault. If you want to blame someone, blame your clumsy parents. Or even that monster that lives under your bed who in trying to get you, caused you to fall out of the bed right on to your stubby little noggin. In any event that fall likely caused a serious disturbance in your parietal cortex. Many physicians feel that this is bad. Your parietal cortex is needed for many daily functions and shouldn’t be screwed up if you want to live a happy normal life. Or believe in magic.

There is hope for the afflicted however. They can be brought back to the straight and narrow where they can see, feel and believe in magic again. Sometimes this is occasioned by another blow to the head and the bent and/or twisted part of that old parietal cortex is slammed back into its rightful place again. This could allow for the acceptance of magic to be reestablished.

Another possibility is seeing your sister Agnes’s kid Alfie turned into a toad by an irritable wizard and left to hang around in the garden eating flies and other disgusting things for the rest of his life. He was a miserable little buttock anyway, so that might be an improvement. That might do it. That might be just the shock you needed to get that old magic rolling again.

Another possibility is you’re just a late bloomer. For most of your life you didn’t have time for magic. You were working too hard. You watched a lot of daytime TV. You didn’t get out much. Your Mom and Dad, perhaps the ones who dropped  you on your head in the first place, told you there was no such thing as magic so just shut up. They probably had things to say about Santa, The Easter bunny, and honest politicians too. This has the result of hardening your parietal cortex and creating a no magic zone in your outlook on life. However listen up as this is a big however, as you age your brain softens, it gets the consistency of a blueberry pudding or even in some cases cottage cheese. This has been well documented by real Doctors and the occasional serial killer actually looking into your brain cavity with special tools to see what’s going on in there. This brain softening has both good and bad results. The good is you are now free to see and observe magic again, like you did when you were a kid. Common place things take on a new life, a beauty you had forgotten exists. Such as the beauty seen in the photo above. Tell me it doesn’t take magic to create something as beautiful as that.

The bad of course is you begin to lose all motor functions and are well on your way to becoming a total vegetable. You’ve seen this, your brother’s wife’s father has all the cognitive responses of an overcooked cauliflower, he was never much brighter than a four slot toaster anyway but even if he was like a major brainiac before, he’s a mental dribbling idiot now. This is too bad and often unfair but since when has life been all that fair.

Remember magic comes in all forms, from great big events, like getting the tax code straightened out, to smaller but no less magical events than finding beauty in the middle of the gently falling snow. For now I’m gratefully accepting the small events in the magical world such as this High Country Magic seen while walking in the woods one day. Here’s hoping you still see magic in your life.

 

End Of Summer

2016-10-24endoffall-6941seed pods along the Gibbon River, Yellowstone: to see larger version, right-click, choose open image in new tab 

 

This time of year is probably more a start of fall rather than an end of summer but the exact name doesn’t matter that much. If you’re looking backward from here you see the trees starting to turn, the grass heading towards that golden color it gets when it’s ready to drop its seed for the year. If you’re looking forward, the air is cooler, almost cold in fact, and the grass is still stiff from the morning frost. Mist rising off the river is silvery opaque, and its passage downstream is slower, the surface of the water flat and mirror-like reflecting the foliage along its banks. Your jacket is buttoned up to the top button and you can see your breath with every step.

Your focus is on the smaller things now. Getting ready for winter, thinking about the chores you need to finish up now while it’s easy, before you’re doing them in the snow. Thinking about what’s left to harvest, some pumpkins, a few squash, root vegetables still in the ground. Turnips, rutabagas, bunching onions, small, round beets, short carrots, radishes, winter radishes,  mustard greens, leaf beets, bunching onions, Swiss chard, kale, spinach. Maybe there’s Brussels Sprouts, everybody’s favorite, right after any zucchini that needs picking.

Chores that need to be done now are stuff like tilling up the garden, draining the fuel out of the lawnmower so it starts next spring. Making sure the  flap in your long johns isn’t sewn shut. That’s a favorite reminder from your spouse if you weren’t nice enough to her over the summer. Haul that hay in from from that very last field. You really want to plow all the way out there when there’s four feet of snow on the ground.

Yes there are chores to be done, and equipment to be gotten ready or put up for the season but there is also the need to get out there and walk the trails around the place. See how things are winding up. Get your fill of looking at the things you love before they’re covered by winter’s snow. Take in that fall feeling before it changes into that frozen ears, snow down your boots, winter we all get tired of way to soon. Be in the moment.

This is one of the good times of the year. Make sure you make the most of it.

 

Big News ! Exciting News! OpenChutes is Live!

openchuteshomepagescreen-cap of new website

OpenChutes.com

Big News ! Exciting  News! OpenChutes is Live! Hooray and Hallelujah!

OpenChutes.com,  the newest member of our family, went live! today. This new blog will exclusively feature all of the images and stories previously posted at BigShotsNow the Blog. Plus everything new from this point on. For those of you coming here to see the various powwows that have been published here, those original posts will still be here. But there won’t be any new postings. They’ll all go directly to OpenChutes.com. However if you want everything in one place, kind of like Wal-Mart, those original posts have been copied to the new site. So how can you lose ? You can’t. All the good stuff is there, plus to all of you that I met over the summer at the various powwows and rendezvous, rodeos, and other places, those pictures will be going up here as fast we can post them.

So come celebrate the Grand Opening of the best site on the net for Powwows, Mountain men, Rendezvous, Rodeos, Cowboys, all of your favorite western events at

OpenChutes.com