Tuesday, September 27, 2016


In Valier where we've had neither drought nor excessive heat, we’re getting bits of our lost summer now.  It comes a day at a time so that one realizes that the time to do something that takes advantage of it is NOW.  This summer I’ve been pretty much confined to my house for reasons that I can’t quite discuss since it’s about neighbors and because it’s against the grain of popular beliefs like “safe” small towns that are a good place to raise children, which is a bit of Chamber of Commerce boiler plate that is woefully and dangerously out of date.

Yesterday was good weather and quiet households so I finally got outside to walk around my yard, go up the ladder to see how my roof tarps are doing since strong winds are pulsing through, to try to figure out a plan for emptying my deteriorating out-buildings, which are the workshop/garage and caretaker’s hut from the rebuild of Swift Dam, the one that Sid Gustafson is making famous.  The dam won’t be forgotten now but the buildings are about over.

I found two dead cats, half-grown white-with-gray patches, the most wary batch of the ferals who come and go.  I had left the roll-up door open all summer, partly because I realized that someone was sneaking in there to smoke and I thought making the interior public would discourage that.  I’m not shocked by carcasses, but it worries me that one was clearly shot (exploded head) and the other was probably the one with the smashed foot from being caught in a spring-loaded foot-hold trap, like the ones used to trap beavers.  Such hazards are an ordinary part of the West, but not usually in my own yard.  Now I'll padlock those doors.

In addition, when I began to work on sorting and discarding the contents of what I used to call my “bunkhouse,” I found a glassine packet with a syringe and a little tablet — just one.  I presume it would have to be crushed and dissolved for use, but there were no signs of equipment for that.  The past week I’d been leaving the building unpadlocked because I was carrying summer clothes (never worn this year) in for storage and winter clothes back to the house.  

I’ve been writing like fury all summer but not getting to the ends of things, maybe because it was the Big End of advancing age that was pressing me to finish up my projects, come to a conclusion, identify the stuff that was not going to be finished in my lifetime, and double-down on the things with potential.  Not for publishing but from a “body of work” perspective.  

I’m getting a little bugged by editors and other writers lying in wait for something they can grab, adapt, and monetize with no understanding of my uncured perspective.  I don't copyright because it is useless.  

Medium.com was quite a revelation, an inflated Facebook that ought to have been called “Maskbook.”  But “Medium”, if it was a true cross-section of what the writing world is like, turned out to be mediocre, same-old.  They seemed surprised by this.  I guess they, like writers, had a conviction that there were a lot of suppressed geniuses out there, but didn’t know what they would look like and didn't know what to do with them.  No guts.  I was surprised when a writing “coach” sort of person admonished me for having a severe-looking selfie on my “about.”  “One must be cheerful to attract readers,” this person scolded.

On the other hand, Paul Seesequasis’ Twitter project of posting historical photos of the northern prairie and arctic peoples (including Blackfeet) was a revelation.  I hope I didn’t invade him by tweeting comments.  These were not horseback warriors, but traders and fishermen using the webs of water (ice in winter) and drawing on white culture without being dominated.  Since knowing Euros early is based on the trading for valuable furs, mostly beaver and mink to be marketed in urban Euro places, the relationships were calm.  The profits seemed to go to accordians and fiddles rather than guns.  Photos of young people seemed cheerful in those early times, not like the suicidal despair so common today.  

Reading back over my own blogs, I saw exasperation and even depression creep in recently.  I don’t “do” depression — deny it and alchemize it into fury.  (It would be better to do dishes and housework.)  I don’t “do” doctoring either, which was my Edwardian mother-in-law’s favorite compensation.  In the worst parts of winter she always managed to develop some condition that required hospitalization.  The dark side of that was the state of the roads and her expectation of daily visits.  

At present rural health care is a mess.  Centralizing docs in a corporate profit hub means driving long distances, not good for a loner with eye probs.  The docs themselves are not content.  In some corners, deranged old men have strangleholds they hope will preserve their prestige but only marks them as insurance liabilities.  

Medicine has devolved into lists of numbers — one looks down the list for the best match to the symptoms and blood analysis, then looks across to the recommended pills for a mythical average person, and writes the indicated prescription, which the insurance company then approves through the pharmacist umbilically attached to the computer.  This justifies hiring a lot of obedient young women “just as good as a doc”, described euphemistically as Nurse Practitioners or “Physician Assistants.”  

But off I went to the doc I know best at present, a woman who is brisk and practical.  I even (as you know) asked for a pelvic exam and she was both efficient and relatively painless.  I said,  “That wasn’t so bad.”  Her reply was, “Oh, no.  I do them all the time.”  

Her nurse was the same one who assisted ten years ago for the most painful pelvic I’d ever had, as well as a diagnosis of diabetes that made it sound like end-stage HIV.  But that was a different doctor and a different story.  I couldn’t resist lecturing this nurse about why calling me “young lady” was patronizing.  I did resist blasting her for advising me to think of some young male sex symbol while the speculum went in.  Pelvics are NOT sex and the confusion does mischief.

A little over a week into a doctor-tweaked med regime, my internal summer has returned.  I’ll be making a lot of trips to the dump before the snow flies.  Unless Trump wins the coming election, I’ll be "good to go" through winter.  I’ll bunch and mail out to the various fellowships my archives of UU circuit-riding.  I’m wavering over my Bob Scriver materials, wondering if I’m really through with them.  Can a white woman justifiably comment on current Blackfeet doin’s?  Is it needed?  How to do justice to the Montana literary scene when it doesn’t seem to do more than repeat old news about Montana and is so focused on the circle that’s developed in the last fifty years — just about the same length of time I’ve been aware of it — sealing off the history before 1960 and concentrating on popularity, insisting on white people. 

Except for Sid Gustafson's Swift Dam, of course.

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