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.


“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

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

So, Where You Been Then



“So, Where you been then.” That is just one of the questions we’ve been asked regarding our dearth of posting for the last month. In fact, pictured above, is Ms. Euclidia Hanson asking it again. “Where you been” she asked ” you don’t write, you don’t call, where you been? I didn’t pay good money to be treated like this.” and so on. (Note: In checking our records we found that Euclidia didn’t pay any money to us at all, and in fact owes us for service since the first of the year and all of last year. We’ll be contacting Ms. Hanson about that just as soon as the rut is over)

But regardless, we have a good answer. This summer has been the summer we have been hitting the powwow trail with a new event occurring almost every weekend. Starting back in April when we attended the Gathering of Nations, the largest inter-tribal powwow in the country, through the summer, and ending with the Crow Fair just last week.

We are working on an exciting new project that we’ll be announcing in the near future that requires lots of photography of the people and events in the powwows that occur throughout the summer. This has produced literally thousands of photographs that have to be processed and evaluated for inclusion in this exciting new project. More on that as we get closer to our release date.

When we are out in the field we run into several problems with posting to the blog. Most notably a lack of decent wi-fi in the areas where the powwows are held. Since that unfortunate incident where our satellite truck went over both the Upper and Lower Yellowstone falls and bent the roof dish all to hell and back and the generator had a total meltdown due to embarrassment or something, leaving us with nothing but an iPhone with a cracked screen, we have not been able to reliably send our posts back to *The Institute for reissuing to the world at large.

Plus now the Park Service is all cheesed off about satellite truck pieces scattered up and down in the Yellowstone river and has made us send people up there in hip waders collecting those parts for reassembly, kind of like they do with plane crashes, to determine how much they want to fine us. I’m not even getting into dealing with the satellite truck rental people, especially after the intern we sent to pick it up didn’t sign the insurance papers for it. He said he saved us $51.00 a day by not taking it. The satellite truck with all the equipment in it was only worth about $750,000.00 so he’s lucky that we can’t get into his hospital room. We’d rearrange his traction equipment for him.

Aside from that it was a great trip. We got incredible images of the different events, even with The Director getting run over by a stampeding horse and knocked tail over tea kettle in the Indian Relay Races at Ft. Hall, Id at the Western Shoshone/ Bannock rodeo. More about that in a separate post coming soon to a monitor near you.

So briefly that was why there were very few posts last month. Sorry. But! and it’s a big one. Watch for postings covering the various powwows and western events we attended this summer. They’re going to be great.

*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.

Announcement ! We’re On A Mission

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Or more accurately we were on a mission. That’s why there have been a dearth of posts lately here at BigShotsNow-The Blog. Saving lives and getting huge ATTABOY’s are what we live for. We’re back now. The patient lived and is properly grateful. Some of you know, at least the ones we’ve rescued from certain disaster before, that *The Institute has a search and rescue facility on site. We get distress calls from individuals all around the globe who have gotten themselves into some sort of medical emergency and needed our immediate response. Consequently we have semi-trained technicians, although they are not always medically trained, that can provide life saving procedures if necessary. Usually they just stand around leaning up against the mess hall wall, looking for someone bleeding or dragging around a severed limb so they can jump on them and save ’em. There have even been unsubstantiated reports of an unsuspecting new-to-be patient getting struck in the brain pan area with a brick or small length of two by four to induce what they call “patient-dom” so they have something to do. Otherwise they serve no useful purpose until a call come in.

But when a call does come in, jump back, because then they go gonzo nuts grabbing their med kits, getting a fix on where the calamity is, piling into the our private medical dirigible,”The Mother Theresa”, and springing into action when necessary. There is no accident or mayhem or chaos that is too far away, or too huge for our team to handle. Their motto is “Yeah, Well, How bad can it be?”

Lets just say you’re in the tall grass just outside of Mburu Buro slightly north and west of JoBerg and you get bit by a Black Mamba, (also called the ex-wife snake) one of the fastest meanest snakes in the world. They’re so mean that if there is no one else is around to bite they’ll bite themselves. You call us, we fire up the dirigible and we’re on the way. Unfortunately in that case you’re SOL because Black Mamba bites are deadly in a about two and a half minutes. Sorry. But thanks for calling us any way.

In each of our med kits we have life-saving equipment, such as big gauzy pads to hide all the blood, point and shoot cameras for selfies and to document our procedures and maybe some scenery shots if we go someplace cool, little skinny bandages that are good for holding someone’s eyelids open when you don’t want them to go to sleep. Lots of different sized baggies for placing over stumps and the rolls of duck tape to hold them in place. Specially grown sticks off of the Hawthorne grove down in the valley to bite on in case we have to remove a limb or larger portions of torso. A small hammer wrapped in a resilient foam-like material to gently tap the patient out with. We cannot, due to a screw up with the licensing procedures, carry any anesthesia or pain medication so we found that a short-term, manually induced coma works just as well, and is more profitable for us. Anesthesia is expensive, just saying.

Recently a very good friend had a procedure done in a normal medical facility run by a For Profit corporation ( first mistake ) that sent her into a total tailspin causing a crash that nearly gave her severe whiplash along with the loss of her spine and resulted in her calling on The Institute to come to her aid. Which we did. Luckily for her we were able to call our team back from that Black Mamba incident and get to her location in time to assist her. It took a few days to get things completely under control, but we did, and now she is happy, not to mention pert and sassy, and in nearly perfect health.  Plus she looks marvelous. She’ll have a few scars but they’re tasteful ones and unless you know her well will never see them anyway. She has a new opinion of The Institute and its Director, which is favorable. Lets hope all that feeling of good will remains after we bill her.

So there you have it. That’s why we’ve been out of touch but there’s plenty of old stuff to read until we get back so don’t go away mad. Remember if you get into trouble “Who You Gonna Call?: The Institute that’s who. We’re standing by.

* 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.