Our Lady of the Blue Highways

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

Friday, June 15, 2012


Diane and I are leaving for Bozeman this morning for 10 days.   I have several cousins living
 in that area, and a couple that are going to be there the same time I am.  

My computer is in the shop, hopefully it can be fixed and I can get it back by the end of the month.

I hope I'll be able to check my e-mails, but I won't be posting until I get back. -  but, I'll take notes so I'm ready to post then.

Until next time
Bear Hugs

Luv 'n Boots and Tucker too
And, don't forget Wee Beastie!!!

She believed she could do it and so she did!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Just Chat

Tucker and I went for a walk today -   There is a long, long hill down to the little town of Belt.   Tucker did very well.   As a matter of fact, for awhile there, I thought he was going to out-walk me, but when I turned to head back – about half way to town, he decided to “ride” for awhile.  

We spent the day looking at old family photos.  I had a couple in the box of Farup family (my Dad’s) that I couldn’t identify -  I found a large print of one in Diane’s box, so it belong’s with my Mother’s family photos.   I have just one unidentified photo left in that box - but I’ll keep asking.    I’m going to spend the summer scanning in all the old photos I can find of my Mom’s side of the family, and gather them into some kind of book along with stories and memories that we can remember.   My cousin, Sharon has all the statistics and some photos on Ancestry.com, but I want it to be more easily accessible)

Cousin Diane and I are making notes of little things that happened when we were little, and stories we heard of our grandparents.

 I’m drinking Coca-Cola again.   After weeks and months of doing my best to avoid it at Brooke’s, I arrive here, and Diane keeps a case of it in her refrigerator at all times.   Oh, ye of weak spirit.

 Diane is busy weeding her flower garden -  Once my computer is up-graded, I’ll do an entire post of her wonderful, unique home!  

 I’ve been going out a little with Tucker off-leash,- it just happened to be when the weather was not the greatest and it worked well so-far.  Perhaps I should capitalize “So-far”.   He just indicated that he needed to go out – a First!!!  So, I let him out, and he took care of business, then headed toward the cars, which he usually does – then like a flash he took off up the driveway – at the top of which is a country road, and beyond that a ways, the interstate.   I started running and calling him -  Did I tell you it rained yesterday?   Well, I slipped in the mud and went down hard.   Mud all over – perhaps I have a secret desire to be a lady mud wrestler – I looked like I was auditioning for it.   The best part – as soon as I landed, Tucker was there to make sure I was OK.   Back to being on the lease for awhile yet!!!!

 About the rain yesterday -  Since I arrived, (After that first stormy night) the weather has been beautiful.  Warm, sunny – with of course the wind blowing at varying strengths.  (Whenever I return to Montana, I remember how much I hated that constantly blowing wind)  Yesterday – well, yesterday, we awoke to pouring rain, howling wind and a high temperature that did not reach 50.  It was so cold we fired up the wood stove.   Diane’s house has cement floors – in the winter it’s great – the floors are heated, but on cold spring days – not so much.   It was not cold enough to put on socks, though.    Tucker was cold and shivering – before the day was over he had his harness on – it covers much of his chest, a sweatshirt, and finally his sweater that reaches to his tail.  The last time I put the sweater on him, he wriggled out of it in minutes – not yesterday!

 The weather for the next week is due to be beautiful – Sunny and breezy – high’s in the 70’s – that’s a jab for those of you in the east sweltering in the 90’s and high humidity.

A couple days ago, Diane mentioned that if I decided to drive to Alaska, she would go with me.   Is that a challenge, or what.   Hmmmmm  what a neat idea, I’d never considered it before.  I got on Google maps, and learned that the distance from Great Falls MT to Anchorage, AK is the same as from Nanjemoy, MD to Great Falls, MT.   I also learned the Al-Can Hwy is totally paved and well maintained with plenty of services along the way.   The last time I even thought of the Al-Can – it was still a gravel road.    My cousin is in AK now – and I think he said he drove there – so I’ll pick his brain when he returns.   You never know where Granny will escape to next!!!!!!

 Carol  – you do not need to read this paragraph.      Eyes closed?   Ok, for everyone else – I made caramel rolls for breakfast this morning -  a recipe my cousin Marge gave me while in ND.  Man – it couldn’t be easier or more delicious!!!!!    What fun!!!!

OK Carol – you can look now.    (Carol helped me lose 20# on my last trip and she hates to see me back slide)

Tucker attended church with me again yesterday, and behaved very well.  He looked at me during the hymns, but didn’t try to join in, which is too bad, cause he has a very sweet singing voice.   

He gets along great with Diane – she was sitting in her big chair, reading, and he asked to be picked up, and when she did, he curled up just under her chin and took a nap.   I need to keep my camera more handy for moments like that.

Yesterday morning while eating breakfast, a doe and tiny fawn came up to the edge of the lawn.  The baby couldn’t have been more than a few days old.   What a sight to behold. 

 The other night, we had beef ribs for dinner.   I gave my bone to Tucker – it was good sized, but not too much for him to handle.   He chewed on it a bit, then tried to find a place to bury it.   He hid it in the bedroom – and when I went to bed, I had to keep shooing him and his bone off the bed.

  A little bit ago, Tucker trotted into the kitchen and started barking – he was focused on something, so I didn’t try to quiet him.   I thought it might be a mouse – not uncommon out here – but really now is not the season for them to try to get inside.  I carefully walked around the island to find that he was ready to attack Diane’s tennis shoes!!!!!

 If I write too much about Tucker, it’s because I am enchanted by him and his antics.   Because he is so small, I have learned to check to see where he is before I turn over in bed.  The other night, I guess because I wasn’t turning over, I just reached down to pull a blanket up, without checking - ……. And……… flipped Tucker, who was lying on top said blanket, right out of the bed.   As soon as I made sure he wasn’t hurt, I started giggling, and guffawing (I like that word, don’t you – so descriptive)   He looked at me like “What did I do?”, then “Mom, you’re crazy”

Last night for dinner, we had roast beef, and mashed potatoes.   My favorite meal – and that’s the 4th time I’ve had it since I left on this trip.    Today for lunch – it’s hot beef sandwiches – hmmm – what time is it anyway – is it lunch time yet?  

 OK I’ll diet tomorrow.  Well, I don’t really need to lose weight, do I?  I just have to get in good enough condition to make the hike into Pretty Prairie in August.

Next Friday, we're driving to Bozeman for a week or so -  I have several cousins in that area to catch up with - and wouldn't you know it - it is the weekend friends from other parts of the country are going to be in Great Falls!  One is my friend, Joy, from Texas, and the other my niece - or is it my ex niece.   I don't know - do you lose the right to  use those titles through divorce?   Her mother will also be there, and I haven't seen her in somewhere near to 50 years.  I'm sorry I won't see them - but I plan to see Joy next spring in Texas, and the "niece" on my trip down the west coast this fall.

 Until next time
Bear Hugs

Luv ‘n Boots and Tucker too
And don’t forget the Wee Beastie

 She believed she could do it, and so she did!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Had a 3 day delay while “Luv” was being repaired.    During that time, we headed south to Whapeton, ND to attend a graduation of “cousin” of mine.   I have so many cousins in this area I think they grow on trees.   Well, I guess they do – Family Trees.

We took Tucker with us, and he behaved like a gentleman the whole time.  Marge’s sisters were crazy about him.    Even Marge, who is not overly fond of dogs, commented on what a good traveler he is.

 On Sunday morning, Tucker and I started out again.   It was rainy for the first hour or so.  The landscape was amazing – green, flat farm land – the vista broken only by windbreaks of tall old trees.

Slowly the topography changed to a slight rise in elevation and low rolling hills.   About noon, I turned on the a/c.   ……… Nothing.    Nada.   No thing!!!    I was about 200 miles from the dealership by then.   Oh, crud.   Now, what.

 We managed the heat with frequent stops, and ice in Tucker’s water dish and maps shading his seat.  

 Finally, we made it to Dickenson, ND, and called Don for directions to his house.  (I am about to meet a cousin on my Dad’s side that I’d never met before)    Remember me complaining about Brooke’s house being 15 miles from the nearest traffic light?   I’ll never complain again.

The cousins lived in a tiny town of 300 – which was 65 miles southwest of Dickenson.   There was a closer stop light, in a town of 1500 about 20 miles away.   Driving there through the lonely landscape – farms, rolling hills,  with mountains and buttes in the distance was wonderful.

Upon arriving I was greeted with great enthusiasm, and given a wonderful meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, hot rolls,  (my favorite meal) with homemade ice cream and strawberries.

We talked non stop until bedtime, and in the morning, Don and I dug into our family histories.  We exchanged photos and other information.  

 Our conversation made it more clear to me that my Mother’s side of the family needed to be recorded.  A lot of information is already on Ancestery.com,  but that is not readily available to everyone.

 We took a ride in the country to see a dam and man made lake – lots of fishing and camping there.

 I also called the dealership to discuss the a/c problem.   And learned that the dealership in Grand Forks ND has a dealership in Great Falls, MT - What are the chances of that ever happening to anyone?   I am convinced God is my co-pilot.

I left there about 9 a.m., headed for Montana.   I was warned there might be construction along the way -  the whole of western North Dakota is jammed with oil workers on the new strike.

(A word to the wise – if you are travelling across North Dakota anytime soon – plan on stopping in either eastern ND  or eastern MT – there are generally speaking no accommodations available in western ND – I heard that one town in northern ND will not let you in unless you have confirmed reservations for a place to stay)

 After driving awhile, I left the lush farmland and headed into a taste of badlands.  I kept my eyes out for signs of the oil rush.  It wasn’t until I was nearly at the Montana border that I finally saw some pumper-jacks.  And most of those were on the Montana side.

 We stopped at a rest area to check the map – I don’t know how it happened, but I didn’t have a map of Montana.  While I was standing there – I heard the trill of the Meadowlark.   Yes, I was home!   There were 2-3 of the birds, singing up a storm.  I was thrilled.

We drove on, through rough prairie and sagebrush.   We saw a couple cowboys herding cattle to a loading ramp, the truck standing by to receive them.  

We reached the top of a grade – 3500’ elevation, and swiftly rolled down the otherside to about 2000’

We hit Miles City about noon – with a temperature out of 97.  More ice in Tucker’s water, wet blanket and shade from maps.  

 We headed north and west across Montana.  Our saving grace from the heat was a light cover of clouds.  Once we headed north, Tucker’s side of the car was much cooler than my side.

 Montana has a daytime speed limit of 70 unless otherwise noted – 75 on the interstates.  We rolled through rolling grassland for miles without seeing any other vehicles.   Hard scrabble grazing land to irrigated valleys, over hills, and on and on – it seemed like forever.   At some point, the cloud cover disappeared, but by that time, the sun was losing it’s punch, and the temp was dropping.  

About the time we left Lewistown – I saw a gathering storm coming out of the west.  I had to stop and roll up Tucker’s window, cause with all that lightening, there was bound to be rain.   At a small town, I had to take a 22 mile detour – a bridge was out.   This detour looped to the west.   Right into Mother Nature’s fury!    Black as night out -   lightening, pouring rain, hail.  Wait, did I say hail?   Yep, damn – hope it didn’t get bad enough to tear the topper.  At the end of the detour, I headed north again -  still in rain – but looking west it was dark as ever – blotting out the mountains I knew were on the horizon.   Look to the east – and it was the afternoon sun – this was about 5:30 in the afternoon.

I finally arrived at my cousin, Diane’s at 6:30 and it was as dark as it would normally be at 10p.m.   It was a cold welcome!   Diane told me that in addition to tornado warnings (very unusual for Montana) there was a winter storm warning for areas above 6000’ – not so very far away as she lives at about 3500’

 It was a cold noisy night – the storm continued until about 1:30 a.m., and round 2 started at about 3 a.m.   But, we awoke to a landscape washed clean, with brilliant blue skies and fluffy white clouds – for those in the south and east – it was like the day after a hurricane.

 Tucker and I attended church services with Diane on Wednesday.  Yes, I said Tucker attended with us, and as usual, he was perfectly behaved.

 We stopped at my niece, Nicki’s antique shop to let her know I had arrived, then headed home for much anticipated naps!!!!

When we arrived, Diane’s computer fella was there, and I asked him about my laptop.  Before I leave here, I’ll have  500gig of hard drive, plus he’ll make my current hard-drive an external one, and he’ll replace the fan.  It will be like having a brand new computer.   And when I pick it up, I hope I can start up-loading photos for my blog again.   

 Until next time
Bear Hugs
Luv ‘Boots & Tucker
And Don’t forget Wee Beastie

She believed she could do it and so she did!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I prepared to leave Grand Forks, packed the truck, chased down Tucker who had escaped (I really must have looked a sight!   Chugging – “running” wouldn’t quite fit the description – down the street, wildly waving my arms at an approaching car, finally cornering Tucker in a neighbor’s garage)

 We said our good bys, and I started off.  Almost immediately, my “check gauges” light came on.   I checked under the hood, thinking, …… well, I don’t know what I was thinking as I had checked

All fluids just before leaving.   Everything looked OK.   Temp gauge was high, but came down as it naturally would – so I started up again.   I barely got on I-29 when the light came on again.   I stopped and this time when I looked under the hood, I noticed a belt didn’t look right.  I looked more closely, and – Oops, the serpentine had snapped!!!!

I called AAA and arranged for a tow, then called cousins Marge and Ray who drove out to where I was.  Ray determined that the A/C compressor was frozen and likely caused the belt to snap.

 In any event, Luv was towed to the dealership where she spent the night.

 What little cash cushion I had is gone, but ………. I once again will have a working a/c.

My plan now is to leave Sunday morning headed to Scranton ND to meet a cousin I’d not met before – to get info on my Grandfather’s side of the family, and maybe to sleuth out a little more info on the “family scandal!”   

 So, let me ask you….. If an event happened over 100 years ago, is it appropriate to try to solve it?   The first generation that it had effect upon are all gone now, and the 2nd generation – my generation is mostly gone, and who else would care?   Anyway, I’m too curious to let it go now.

 As a teaser – I may not be who I think I am!!!!!

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

Luv ‘n Boots & Tucker, too

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