Sunday, February 15, 2009


When the publicity for “Bronze Inside and Out” reviews was sent out, the person in charge used her “usual list”, which means a lot of obscure Canadian journals, since normally the U of Calgary Press is of interest only to Canadian academics. She had no consciousness at all of the Western art scene. When I tried to argue, I was over-ruled as irrelevant and a beginner. So. . .

In spite of that, one review offer did go out to George Cole, who has an interview program on Yellowstone Public Radio, the public radio station in Bozeman/Billings. He’s about my age and has been bumping around the region for a long time, venturing as far west as Seattle. He did call to set up an interview time, but I let him know I was not financially or vehicularly prepared to drive to Bozeman. Nothing happened for a long time. Then suddenly I got an email: George would be in Great Falls on Valentine’s Day because he was attending a Merle Haggard concert the night before. Could I drive down to GF? Of course.

So all last week I watched the weather report and obsessed. As Saturday drew nearer, it got colder and snowier. He set the time from ten over to ten-thirty, which pleased me because the extra half-hour meant I could drive in daylight. Saturday morning I woke up at 2:30 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’d open one eye to check the time and Crackers would be looking back at me, since she sleeps with her head on my arm. I swear she can hear my eyelids go up. They certainly felt as though they were creaking.

When I hit the road, it was warmer than forecasted (twenties f) and the driving lane had been well-plowed. Snow snakes were dancing, but the fluffy snow was not rising into the air. The only tricky parts were the transitions: on and off ramps, long swoops down into coulees. I was nearly the only one on the road except for snowmobilers heading in the opposite direction. I left at 8AM and pulled into the motel parking lot at 10:15 AM, just in time to make a quick gallop to the restroom due to coffee ingestion. (It’s eighty miles, usually takes an hour and a half.) When I came out, George was in the hallway extending his hand. “Mary?” I put out my hand, rather damp. “George?”

Rose was a little concerned that meeting in a motel implied rather a greater commitment than just an interview, but I never left the lobby. George and his brother-in-law, whose name I immediately forgot, packed while I watched CNN and then we went over to the Great Falls Public Radio to tape. We had a little time to gossip and I picked up fascinating indiscretions from George, who was once on the staff of Tom Judge, a former governor of Montana.

The actual interview went smoothly. George is very good at this. He had met Bob in 1976 and liked him. He was putting as much emphasis on the person of “me” as on Bob, worrying about whether I had any friends in Valier and whether there were trouble with Indians and WHY live in Valier??? The brother-in-law liked the interview, the tech guy liked the interview, and all was copacetic, except that George worried that there might be a little echo in the “cans.” (Those are the earphones: a “term of art.”) George doesn’t really grasp blogs and websites and all that jazz and was surprised that I have no television and no radio in the pickiup, though he said that when I pulled in, he recognized it at once as what I would drive. (Small, dirty, old and beat-up!) He doesn’t know that keeping in touch with friends on the computer has the advantage of not having to comb one’s hair or worry about housekeeping or having to provide refreshments. When it is time for them to go home, one hits a button.

When we said goodbye in the parking lot, George asked politely for a hug and I did. Then the brother-in-law wanted a hug and I did. They patted my back and I patted their back, which is a very interesting social reflex that means “no sex.” (If the patting hand begins to stroke or slide lower down the back -- well. . .) I explained that to them and they got into a friendly argument about which got patted more.

By this time it was noon and had warmed enough in Great Falls for the streets to be merely wet. I picked up some basics at the store (Oregon Hazelnut Bread and Ken’s Honey Mustard Steak Sauce plus the latest “Vanity Fair”) and hit the road, which was dry and bare in the driving lane. The latest installment of “House of Eliot” was waiting for me at the post office.

I was so elated and smug to have finally pulled off this rather important interview and also to have connected with George. For one thing the Bozeman UU group has always been a favorite, and for another the east end of the state is where the better growth and more reliable Important People are. The Flathead Valley on the west side is already choked with Californians, crooks, and pretentious women. I don’t want to circuit-ride anymore, but I like knowing what’s going on.

This morning there was frost on everything. Even the clothespins were furry as a row of white bunnies. Now the sun is out and the bunnies are throwing their coats on the ground. There’s little wind but now and then bits of white fur from the poplars drift by the window, glittering in the sun.

Tim asks, “What the interview fun?” Yes, it was. The show will air in two or three weeks. I’ll let you know. George Cole’s “Realtime” on Monday nights at 6:30 PM mountain time. More instructions later about how to stream Yellowstone Public Radio.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely meeting for you. Thanks for sharing the tale!