Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Sunday, May 21, 2017


It’s that time of year again.  I have arrived at Summer Camp.  

I had talked earlier with my supervisor, Traci about teaching me how to back the trailer while I was here this summer - she started upon my arrival.  I successfully backed it in (how could I help it, I had two people telling me what to do and when to do it).   And from there, everything went downhill.

First thing, the campground’s water needs to be re-certified; it didn’t pass regular testing for potability.

I hooked it up anyway, because I could use it for washing up and flushing, and showers.  EXCEPT,   my hot water tank appears to have not survived the winter.   When I hooked up my water, the water flowed right out the side of the trailer, through the Hot water system.

OK.  So, no showers.  Well, I can make do with sponge baths and hopefully make arrangements with the campground down the road to use their showers this summer.

OK - for washing up, I’ll have to bring in jugs of water to heat and use.  That’s doable.

Flushing - also jugs, except that the flap at the bottom of the toilet bowl was stuck shut.  I remember my friend Myra telling me about fixing a toilet problem by pouring pots of boiling water into the toilet.  Worth a try, and it worked.  OK - one problem fixed.

That takes care of the water situation - then there is the refrigerator.  No dice.  Can’t get it to work.   I decided to switch it to propane - I read and re-read the manual.  Can’t make sense of it, and for safety, I’ll wait til Monday, and hopefully someone from the FS will be by that knows about such things.  I went to the convenience store and bought a block of ice to put in it and it’s working adequately, but, of course, no ice.

That about covers it all.   I made the mistake of thinking, “ what next””  Shouldn’t have done that.  The “next” turned out to be mice.  I have to stay at the campground until my day off - Wednesday, this week.  Then I’m headed for Kalispell.  I’ll get some steel wool and expanding foam to plug up any access by mice.  I’ll have to wriggle under the trailer to use the foam, but, oh, well, it has to be done.  And once it's done, and I've trapped any mice left inside, I won't have a problem with them for the rest of the summer

This IS an adventure, isn’t it?

My “Home Chef” meal delivery has begun, and at least I’ll be eating much healthier this year.  Going to try my best to leave sugary snacks in the store.

I need to search for my step counter today.  I’d like to know how many steps I’m covering during my rounds.

Speaking of rounds, I’ve had my morning cup of tea, and finished my “housewifely” duties and it’s time to put Tucker on a leash and go look for trash to pick up.  The Forest Service cleaned up all the campsites before I got here which is a big help, so there is not much trash to find.

It’s very quiet here at this time of the season.  Not many campers.  The weekend was destination to quite a number of boaters - well, actually fishermen - a bit chilly for recreational boaters.

Until next time,

Boots & Tucker
“She believed she could do it, so she did”

Monday, May 1, 2017

OK, I’m going to give this another “go”

I have been very, very busy the past year.   I camp hosted in far northwestern Montana for the summer, am in the midst of making costumes for the third time for the University of Great Falls Theatre.

Last spring the play was “Secret Garden”  which was my first.  Friend Joye asked me to help sew “some little things like aprons and neckwear” and then walked in with a stack of fabric and said, “we need 4 military jackets”   She didn’t ask if I could do it, she just gave me the fabric and said what was needed.   I just accepted it.   If she had asked me if I could do the jackets, I probably would have declined.  I’m so glad I took it on.   Working with the play was the most fun I’d had in years.   Besides the jackets, I made a nightgown, an apron, and several neck cloths.  Not very much to do.

In the Fall, the play was “Jekyl and Hyde”   Several fancy (simply made) dresses with bustles, and vests and such - still not a whole lot to do. But, so, so much fun.  We found most of the costumes in the “attic” where all the previous year’s costumes are stored, in no particular order. This time, I stayed in town for the duration, and worked daily at the Green Room - where the sewing is done at the UGF Theatre.

Now, it’s spring and the play is “1776”   Oh, my goodness.  I’m so glad we didn’t start with this, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.   30 men’s colonial outfits.  Consisting of breeches, coat, vest and shirt.   We cut it down by sewing sleeves to the vests.  We found most of the breeches in the “attic”   But they have never done a play in the Colonial era so the rest, with very few exceptions are all made from scratch.  

We are nearly 4 weeks into it - with just two weeks to go to get most of the rest of the costumes completed, plus a ball gown.   We have recruited a couple of sewists who have worked with UGF previously, and I’ve farmed out a total of 6 garments.   I’ve recruited my cousin, Shelley to start sewing, too.  She has been sewing on buttons and doing some hand sewing for us - that will help tremendously.  

We have, as of today, 12 costumes completely finished, 11 nearly so and the rest we’ve merely selected the fabric - but even that is a big help.   Most of those left will require major adjustments - like tailoring men’s patterns to fit women, since we have about half the Continental Congress being acted by women.  There are only two female parts in the play - Martha Jefferson and Abrigail Adams.   Abrigail’s dress is finished, the other - is just partially cut out.

The ball gown -   This is going to be so special.  Two actresses are playing the part, so the dress has to fit one who wears size 0 and the other size 8 - 14 (according to the measurements on the pattern.  The skirt is huge.   The entire dress takes 42 yards, oops, make that 54 yards, I mis-calculated the tulle.  At least it is the cheapest fabric.   The floor length skirt is made up of 8 layers:   1 of satin, 1 of mesh, 4 of tulle, (these all white)  1 of the most luscious pink frilly stuff, and topped off by iridescent organza.   The top is fitted

with lacy sleeves.

I’m headed for the thrift store this morning, to pick up a sheet to use to make up the mock-up of the top.   (much cheaper than buying muslin for the purpose)  ((must keep an eye on the budget don’tcha know?))

In addition to all the costumes, all the men and a few of the gals need period wigs.  Not to mention, buckles for their shoes, and a few hats, and handkerchiefs - some very lacy, and Jabots and cravats - Joye is in charge of neckwear.

I’m down to the point that all I do is on the sewing machine - any handwork will be done by volunteers and Shelley.   Other than that I have to make pattern adjustments and cut out fabric.   Enough to keep me quite busy?

Those outfits we’ve finished are wonderful, and everyone is quite pleased with their costumes.

I’m not including any photos here, It will take me a  while how to re-learn how to do it.


It is now May 1 and it is all over.    The beautiful white ball gown turned out to be the dress from hell.   Trying to fit it on the two different actors was a nightmare -  each had fears of it falling down,  One because she is so curvaceous, and the other because she is very slim.   Finally, with just two performances to go, I got it all figured out, and both felt comfortable in the dress.

It has been 8 weeks of 12 - 15 hours at the green room.   Exhaustion didn’t hit me until the last week, and then it hit hard.  We went through periods of giggles, and Joye was frequently banging her head on her sewing machine, or beating it up.

The performances went very well and was very well attended.  The first play I’ve watched multiple times - it was that good!!!

Matt, who played Richard Henry Lee of Virginia - is my favorite.   The character is so boisterous and energized, and so is Matt.  He had a small part, but he remained with you.  What got my attention was when he was quietly sitting in his place, and all of a sudden, it was as if his face turned on like a light bulb - and washed out everyone else.  I guess that’s what is called “stealing the scene”  

We had many compliments on the costumes.   We had four of the actors ask if they could purchase their costumes after the play.  That really made me feel good.   I heard several comments that this was the first time they had ever had costumes custom made for them.  And it’s true.  We had stacks of fabric - where to begin.  Finally, I picked up a piece and said to Joye, “who does this remind you of?”   She made a choice, and we were off to the races.

I broke the news to the Director that I wouldn’t be back for the fall show, inf act, probably not til spring, if then!!!!!

I’m hitting the road, people.  More Adventures to write about.   I’ll spend the summer camp hosting and planning out the fall and winter travels.

Catch you later

“She believed she could do it, so she did!”

Sunday, June 5, 2016


It’s a glorious morning!   The surface of the lake is very still, and on the way back to my site, I heard the call of the Loon wafting over the water.

Yesterday was a perfect day, also.  There was a group of about a dozen young mothers and children playing at the beach.   I had to disturb their play to get them to move a couple of their cars - one side of the parking lot is for vehicles with boat trailers - the other side - for single vehicles.   I was told by one young lady that there were no signs designating parking.   I slowly turned around and looked pointedly at a 3’ x 4’ red and white sign on an easel not 20’ from her.  And then the signs on each side of the parking lot.   They  graciously moved their cars.  It’s a foretaste of the summer weekends to come.

I try to speak to each group of campers at least once.  Those who know me best, know I am a very shy person, and trying to hide it.  Years ago I wore hats to hide under when I attended any kind of group activity.    It’s difficult to speak to people - of course when you get to know me - it’s harder still to shut me up.  This is a very excellent experience.  Tucker is a great conversation starter.

A couple of young cyclists stopped for the night.   They were on their way to Jasper Park in Canada.  They were from Switzerland, and had been cycling across the country for 2 months - they had 2 weeks left on their trip.  An adventure to remember for the rest of their lives.

School is still in session in this area - I think it lets out this coming week - that will surely officially announce the beginning of summer.

Can you tell that I am really enjoying it here?

Until next time,

Boots and Tucker

She believed she could do it, so she did!

Friday, May 27, 2016


Just Wow!!!  I have arrived at my post  at North Dickey Lake Campground.
near Eureka, MT.  

I was met 2-3 minutes after stopping by swarms of handsome young men - the Trail Boss and crew.   They delivered a pickup load of cut wood for my site.  Soon others arrive.  I’ll never be able to put names and faces together.  Then Traci arrived - she works in the Ranger Station.  She backed in the rig, and along with Lyle went over my duties.  

The conversations was sprinkled with comments like, “but don’t worry about that now”,  “but you’ll have help here then”,   “later he’ll pass that job on to you, when you are ready for it”.    “If you feel like it”

I gather that my main  duties are to smile, be friendly and make sure there is toilet papers in the outhouses.  I’m going to love it here!

Tucker was heartily welcomed, and of course he loved it.

Now, let me tell you about the campground.   It’s small - only 26 sites, on a forested hill overlooking a beautiful, blue, serene lake.  There is a boat dock at the bottom of the hill.   I’ll check that out first thing this morning.

 Photo   I am so glad that I didn’t designate a specific location to work - other than the Kootenai (and I think the Bitterroot) forests.   I couldn’t have picked a more beautiful site.

 I’ve been to Eureka one day for the quilt show about 4 years ago.  That was a unique experience.  There is a “Pioneer” park in this little town where they have collected old barns, cabins and other buildings as well as equipment and odd bits and pieces, and on the Quilt show weekend - quilts are hung on and inside the barns, as well as on buildings going up mains street.

Time to shake Tucker out of bed - it’s 7:30, and he’s still curled up snug as a bug in a rug.

I’ll continue this later, and post when I get to town.  I’ve got to finish setting up this morning - set the stabilizing jacks, figure out how to get into the sewer hook-up.
Huge Surprise!!!  As Camp Host, the local cable company provides me FREE internet.   And, it’s an excellent connection.   I may re-subscribe to CBS All-access!!!   I want to see this whole year of NCIS.   I’ll also have no excuse for not keeping up my blog.

My refrigerator isn’t working - and I’ve had to throw out everything that had to be kept cold.   All my meat, all the spaghetti sauce I had made up and packaged.  

One evening a camper stopped by to see if I wanted some company.  (I need to find my extra cups so I can at least offer a cup of tea!)  The next day - in the rain - she sent over her husband to look at my refrigerator - we flipped it over to gas operation, and he lit the water heater as well.  I’m in civilization!  Showers!  Ice Cream ! Whenever I want!   Yippee.

It’s Sunday - on a Canadian national holiday - and the campground is empty.   All the campers have left - and there is only one boat at the dock.   So quiet.  Let‘s see how this all lasts.  

Well, here I am - procrastinating as usual.  It’s been a week and I need to get this posted.

This week was quiet - I found the nearest post office, went to town and bought groceries (ouch!) - but then discovered the other grocery store - it will work very, very well.

I attended a course, and I’m now certified in first aid and CPR.  I haven’t needed the training in the first half of my life - let’s hope I don’t need it in the next half, but at least I know something about it.

I met the other camp hosts in this area  - they’ve all been at it for decades, most in the same campground.  I have a lot to learn from them.

Tucker and I were up fighting the newly resident rat in the middle of the night..  Yes, another one.  I’ve been promised a live trap to get rid of it.  I’ll bait it with one of my caramels - which seems to be what it likes!!!!

I’m still not through dealing with the results of the visit from the Belt rat.  And, no they are not the same rat - this one just showed up 3-4 days ago.  I still have to get the A/C fixed in the truck and repair the insulation  on the firewall so hot air is not blowing at me while traveling.

Yesterday, I got ready to do my rounds and told Tucker it was time to go to work.  I got lost in my thoughts, and all of a sudden, Tucker stopped dead in his tracks and planted his butt on the ground and refused to go on.  I looked around, and saw that I was about to pass the first toilet.  Tucker knows!!!  As soon as I checked it out, he moved on cheerily.

It’s Friday of Memorial Weekend, and…. It is raining, of course.  But, as always, a very gentle rain - nice to walk in.   The nearby mountain peaks are shrouded in fog, but there are already half a dozen boaters out on the lake.

Last weekend was a national holiday for the Canadians - we had in 3 groups of Montana Campers.  This is Memorial Day, and so far, the sites are filled with Canadians, and a couple from Germany who are spending 6 months touring North America.  -   Even their RV is German made and licensed in Germany.  Interesting.

Well - the rain just chased out the tent campers.  Or, maybe they were just staying the night.

I’m going to crank up the heaters and make it toasty warm in here - and I think oatmeal would be the perfect breakfast.

Until next time,
Boots, and of course, Tucker

“She believed she could do it and so she did!”




Sunday, May 8, 2016

Long, lazy days of Winter (and spring, too)

January through May 8, 2016

This is another post of meandering thoughts -

The first good news item:   My new(er) trailer has a name:   Sam Joe Bean.
If you’ve never heard of him, well, that doesn’t surprise me.   Sam Joe Bean was my brother’s alter-ego.  He wrote stories and poems about Sam.   He even wrote an eulogy for Sam, which became my brother’s eulogy.  Sam had lots of adventures; perhaps, later on, I can share a couple on this blog for your entertainment.

Second good news item:   I just received an e-mail from the Forest Service asking if I am still interested in camp hosting.  You betcha I am.   They have some openings near Eureka, MT -  which is a hop and a skip from the Canadian border.   Now, I’ll be on pins and needles waiting for my next communication.

I’ve been working the past few months on a western theme quilt for Brooke.   I decided to make it a quilt as you go project.  Mistake.  Big mistake.   I don’t know what started the fiasco, probably I didn’t measure carefully enough, but the thing is really wacky.   I tried correcting it before putting the rows together, but I guess once again, I didn’t measure properly.   I was in a rush, trying to finish by Christmas - no such luck.

In any event, I spent this whole week putting the rows together - took 4 days.   Each row, pinned, stitched, pinned,  stitched together,  pressed, top stitched, then top stitched on the other side.  Took over an hour for each row.  And today?  Well, today I am unstitching it all.   What a travesty.  It’s an oversized queen sized quilt - and hard to maneuver on the sewing machine - even as a quilt as you go.

January is gone - can spring be far away?

Have confirmation from the Forest Service - I will be hosting a campground near Eureka, Montana.  North Dickey Lake - 26 sites from Mid May to Mid September.  I am so excited.

May 8, 2016

Obviously, the above was written sometime in February, 2016.   A bit of time has passed since then.

Let’s see…..   I decided I’d move up to Brooke’s about the end of February for the remainder of the winter.   About the middle of February, I was invited by a friend to help with costuming for a production put on by the UGF Music Department.   I have to tell you, I had more fun in those couple of months than I could have imagined - then dress rehersals began, followed quickly by Opening night…. Still more fun - even Mother Nature got in the act by reminding us it was still officially winter by dropping 6 inches of wet sticky white stuff on us - causing me to be snow bound in Great Falls, since I had spent the night there instead of driving home so late.   I had my jacket with me, but was wearing flip-flops, so I had to go buy a pair of shoes.

Finally, Sam was ready to go, and on the third pick-up load to Thompson Falls, Sam went along, too.  Everything appears to work - keep your fingers crossed for me.

The first day at Brooke’s, she got me up on a horse - amazing  - it’s been how many years?????   Far too many - and if there had been a photographer nearby, you’all would have been giggling for a week watching me get in the saddle.  

Sadly, my cousin, Diane, passed away that night.  I know that she is finally at peace and will be missed by many.

It is definitely Spring Time in the Rockies - beautiful weather, colorful skies, birds singing - wonderful day for Mother’s Day.   Brooke surprised me with crepes for breakfast - delicious.

I’ll be leaving here on Monday, May 16 - headed for Eureka to start my summer duties at North Dickey Lake.

I’ve promised more than one person that I will once again start posting on a regular basis.   All depends on the availability of the internet - hope it won’t be like it was in Deming last year.

Until next time,

Boots & Tucker

She believed she could do it, so she did.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I'M BACK!!!..... once again

Around or about January 14, 2016

As I mentioned in my last post, my computer has been down since mid-summer.   I went to Brooke's for Christmas and took the computer to the shop in Thompson Falls.   It was fixed in less than 5 minutes with no charge.   The ram cards were unseated.  They just took them out and put them back in, and, Bob's your uncle, we are back in business.

I've been sending out some longish e-mails, bending the "ears" of those I wrote to with nothingness.  I mentioned once that I ought to write a book about nothing - then this morning I remembered my blog.  So, here I am.

This post is going to have absolutely no order about it - just random thoughts (so what else is new).  No photos for now - I left my camera at Brooke's.

As I mentioned, I spent Christmas at Brooke's.   It started snowing an hour after I arrived and continued to snow everyday I was there.  It was beautiful.  And, the daytime temps hovered in the 25-30 range so it was comfortable to spend time outdoors.

Christmas Eve, I took Tucker outside to take care of business, and while I was waiting, I happened to look over to the hay field, and watched in amazement as 8 tiny deer floated across the field.   The ninth (Rudolph?) tagged along behind.

I missed the full moon on Christmas night because it was snowing and overcast. I guess I can't have everything.

With the exception of dinner at Scott's parent's home on Christmas Day, we went nowhere!  It was wonderfully relaxing.

Progress report on Daisy?  Well, there is no progress.  After crunching the numbers, I decided to buy another trailer.   Even after doing all the work on Daisy, I still would not have a gray water holding tank or a refrigerator with a separate freezer, making it difficult to do any boondocking.

So, I bought another trailer for half the amount I would have had to spend on Daisy - she is now for sale.  

The new trailer is 2 foot longer, 20 years younger,  has a refrigerator with separate freezer and  the gray water holding tank flows into the black water tank.  Works for me.   I do know the trailer is male, the first male vehicle I have every owned - but he hasn't told me his name, yet.    He's going to be quite rustic inside - denim, copper and antler interior.   There is nothing I have to do right away, except spend money.  The floor needs to be re-done - just because I don't like carpeting.  I want to insulate the floor and perhaps tile it - but that can wait.   I'll need to buy 2 propane tanks, and an air conditioner.  Oh, yeah - also a set of tires.  I can get along without the air conditioner for a bit -  In Montana, even if it gets hot during the day, once the sun goes down, it gets cold.

Diane is temporarily in a nursing home in Seattle.  I was going to leave here rather soon, but decided since I have a perfect set up for sewing, I may just stay here for a bit.   I would expect she will be back in a couple months and that will give me sufficient time to accomplish a pile of sewing projects.

I started packing up stuff today -  First out - all my denim - well, except for 1 tote of mixed colors. I have a mountain of jeans.   And, Diane's daughter in law says she has yet another mountain of  old jeans for me.  

We WERE in the midst of a major Chinook.   (SW wind and high temps that  melts all the snow) when it started snowing this morning - and it's still snowing quite vigorously.   I can't even see Belt - just a mile down the hill.  Darn - I was hoping to get the truck rolling once the snow and mud cleared up.  Well, after all, it is winter, what did I expect?  And, now that I'm staying on a while, no need to rush.

Well, I've changed my mind.   I'm going to post this, then start the next one in "Word".  Then I don't have to worry about this one disappearing if my computer should unexpectedly shut down before it's published.

Bear Hugs,

Boots and Tucker and What's his name
"She believed she could do it, so she did!