Our Lady of the Blue Highways

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

Saturday, September 4, 2010



Big Belt Mountains

I drove on the old road to Helena, through Wolf Creek Canyon. My, that brings back memories.

I remember as a young mother, parking along the side of the road where the Deerborn river joins the Missouri with my Sister-in-Law and all our children while our husband’s floated down the Deerborn. We were elaborately warned to make sure we were there when they arrived, and not to wander off anywhere – as they would be there in a couple hours. NOT! The river was so low, they had to carry the rubber raft (a big one) most of the way down the river – took them about 12 hours.

the Mighty Missouri
The canyon has always been a beautiful drive. The Missouri gently flows along, and is a very popular fishing area.

Guardian of the Gates of the Mountains

Gates of the Mountains

Bear Tooth Mountain

Barb and I met when we were nine years old. Her grandmother lived just up the road from my home. She and Mike- who lived between our homes – and I became fast friends – We were constant companions - eventually Margie became a part of the group too.

We had not seen each other since before I left Great Falls in 1973 – but it was like we’d visited just last week - a true life time friendship. I am blessed to have so many friends like that.

We had planned to go to Washington for the week – but Barb’s dog, Della injured her leg and had to be kept quiet while it healed so we had to stay in Helena.

I planned to visit the Historical Society, the Governor’s mansion, Last Chance Gulch, and the rest of the historic area, Drive to Marysville, an old mining town, take a boat trip through Gates of the Mountains, visit a hot springs, dig for Sapphires, and so on while in Helena.

Barb had other ideas. The night I got back there, she bought a sewing machine, and I finished all her projects the day before I left. She has a fichus tree in the living room about where I set up the sewing machine. By the time I left, it would hang over my shoulder – I told her I’d been sitting there so long the tree was growing around me.

I made a dog bed, covers for the sofa on the front porch, helped her decorate a straw hat for her bedroom, and made a cover and table pad for her sewing machine and, altered several pair of pants and blouses.

For myself, I made two baby blankets for the soon to arrive Emma, and a pair of walking shorts

Then I hit the kitchen - Check out the size of this zucchini from her garden. It made 6 batches of lemon-ginger zucchini bread. She also had been hoarding bananas in her freezer – enough for 6 batches of banana bread. Then I made two cakes for her son’s birthday – a Coca-cola cake (chocolate) and a spice cake.


I also made another batch of blueberry scones – thanks so much, Sherrie, for the wonderful recipe!!!

I love working in her kitchen – big enough island, and all the toys I ever had or wanted. It was such fun!

Wow, when I list it out, it doesn’t seem like much, but it kept me busy for the whole week – with frequent interruptions.

We did find time to drive to Missoula and tour the farmer’s market. It’s quite a large one – spread over down town. After that – we started out for somewhere, and got way-laid by some garage sales – what fun! Before leaving town, we stopped at “Good Foods” a large, non-profit organic food store. Really neat

Sign in Drummond, MT

During one of the interruptions of my project work, Barb told me she had a “compromising” photo of me, and that it was in this big box of photos. Well – naturally, I dug clear to the bottom but didn’t find the photo - I think she just wanted me to look at all her photos. (Actually, I know what photo she is talking about, and I want it back!!!)

When we were kids, we were both horse crazy. We used to play at being horses in a sand pile - we took juice cans, and crushed one side of the rim, so we could make hoof prints in the sand.

She had a horse before I did – and had a friend who would rent out his horse for 25 cents an hour.

I remember the day we spent at the Ayershire Dairy. We spent hours wandering around the facility - playing on the bucking barrel, all the free chocolate milk we could drink, the wonderful soft ice chips. Can you imagine A)leaving your kids alone all day like that – or B) the dairy allowing these 2 kids to wander around under foot for an entire day?

Before I had a horse, I often rode to her house on my bike - probably a 12 – 15 mile trip each way. Sometimes twice in a day.

I remember one time we were riding horses, and a serious storm blew up. We got soaked. We were still 5 miles from my house when we road through a parking lot where two dump trucks were parked. One of the drivers shouted out the window that we were welcome to sit in the cab of the other truck - We were totally soaked, but that’s what we did – holding the horses’ reigns out the window.

As a teenager, Barb found a baby skunk in the woods. She brought it home in a saddle bag, then took it to a vet – Dr. Dorn. We became his fan club. We went on ranch calls with him, stayed at his cabin at logging creek with his family and generally made pests of ourselves.

I remember one ranch call. After doctoring a cow, the owner asked him to check out a cow that had died. We found the remains and he cut into the cow, and she exploded – sprayed all over him. At that time, I was about 13 years old – didn’t really know how to drive, but I had to drive back to the ranch house, and he had to walk until he could get to a shower and change clothes.

I checked into digging for Sapphires - $50 a bag, plus $10 more to dig in the field.
Myra’s paying $7 per day to dig in diamond field in Ark – and found 6 diamonds – sold 3 of them for $300. The last one she found was flawless – Don’t know whether she’ll keep that one or not.

Della is a Labrodoodle – more doodle than lab. She is quick to learn – At the word “Bang”, she rolls over and plays dead. She also rolls over, is learning to crawl, gives a “high five” when asked. She’s been trained not to bark unless absolutely necessary. She waits quietly about 5 foot from her food bowl until told it is ok to eat. But the most fascinating is her toilet training – when she has to pee – she goes on the other side of the driveway – for other business, she runs to the end of the ditch along the road!!!! How convenient for Barb.

Give me Five!

There was a controlled burn on Stemple pass that got out of control – grew from 135 acres to over 1000 in just a few hours – the wind was fierce that day. We could see the Forest Service planes overhead carrying retardant to the fire zone.

It’s hard to see on this photo – but there is smoke curling up under the bright white clouds.

What a strange sight in the evening sky.

Full Moon

Ken – how about these old cars??

Sorted all my stuff, and left behind 3 large totes and a duffle bag and my bicycle – but Barb kept giving me things, that I have to leave in her garage until next year. (Have to make room for Angie and Kaycee)

Barb’s garden

Barb’s House

Visited quilt stores, but was good – except for 1/3 yard of chicken fabric for Sherrie – Sherrie – do you want me to send you the fabric, or send the completed project?

Interesting gate way

I bought my horse, Gazeon - from Barb – a ¾ Arab with a great personality – the reason I bought him – I was having back problems - I was riding him one day, we came to a stream, and he sort of did a buck/jump – and my back whipped back into place.

Another Gazeon story was that I was riding by the house one day and heard the phone ringing – at that time, I just couldn’t let a phone go unanswered – no caller ID in those days – I ran in and answered the phone, and a couple minutes later heard a clumping sound, turned around, and there was Gazeon standing in my kitchen. I had to lead him into the living room to have enough room to turn him around and head him out the door!

The last two nights I slept on the sofa on the front porch – first night was great – 2nd night – it was very cold, but I was warm and cozy.

I drove back to Missoula and spent a day visiting with my nephew, Jim, and his family.

It was only a 124 mile drive - but before I'd gone 40 miles, I got so sleepy I had to pull over and take a nap. When I woke up, I was hungry - really hungry, and I hadn't brought any food with me. Fortunately, at the next rest stop, there was a group of high schoolers selling hot dogs, polish sausages, donuts, coffee, tea, soda, and candy bars. I settled for the polish sausage and coffe - to see if it would wake me up a little.

It was fun talking about family stuff and trying to remember things his Dad did as a youngster. They have a beautiful home – decorated by Shelly – she should be a professional decorator – it’s that wonderful. The last time I was there, the twins were toddlers - now they are more than half grown.

If this sounds rambling and disjointed, it is!!! I just had so much to say, and no time to properly organize my thoughts.

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

I’ve gone to look for myself. If I return before I get back, Please ask me to wait!

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