Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fire Season in Montana

It's fire season here in Montana. Up to now there have not been serious blazes. Scorching fires have been reserved for our friends in states and provinces to the west, but here and there, small fires are cropping up.

Just this afternoon, lightening in a passing thunderstorm most likely ignited the wildfire that started up in the Hyalite drainage, south of town. That area is important to Bozeman because it is the source of much of the city's drinking water. It's called the Lick Creek fire. Here is the incident report, courtesy of the US Forest Service, reporting out of the Gallitan National Forest.

Incident Overview

View of Lick Creek Fire, south of Bozeman

Bozeman, MT –The Custer Gallatin National Forests has confirmed one fire in Hyalite, in the vicinity of Lick Creek, north of the trail. Resources are on scene including a full load of smokejumpers (8), four heli-rappellers and Engine 661 with four firefighters, from Bozeman Ranger District. The fire is located along the ridgetop burning in timber.
Fire Name: Lick Creek Fire
Date Detected: July 29, 2014
Cause: Unknown
Location: Hyalite Canyon, North of Lick Creek Trail along the ridgetop. T4S, R6E, Sec 3
Current Size: 0.6 acres (with multiple spots)
Resources Assigned: Engine 661 with 4 firefighters, 8 smokejumpers, 2 helicopters requested (with a load of 4 heli-rappellers).
Current Status: Smokejumpers jumped the fire at approximately 3:20 p.m., an additional engine crew with four firefighters are hiking into the fire and 4 heli-rappellers recently arrived on the fire. Currently the fire is burning along the ridgetop.
Closures: No closures in effect
Remarks: No structures currently threatened.

Because of the drinking supply issue, they are jumping (literally) right on top on this one, whereas, they would normally be in a monitor and wait mode. To this point, helped by a wetter than normal June, the few fires that started locally have smoldered themselves out within a matter of hours or a few days.

Fires are a natural phenomenon with many beneficial effects. 

The Forest Service has this to say about an ongoing wildfire on the Crow Agency, over in the southeast corner of Montana. 

July 28 Noon - Fire Effects Can Improve Habitat

Incident: Lodge Grass Basin Wildfire
Released: 1 day ago
The 167 acre Lodge Grass Basin fire has smoldered for several days now on the walls of Lodge Grass Canyon, where many Crows have hunted elk. Most of the area it burned still has live trees: fire just cleaned up the sparse grass and brush under the timber. Helicopters worked through the weekend dropping water on smokes still showing in the cliffs.
Far from “destroying” the canyon, low-intensity fires sometimes improve habitat for elk and other wildlife. The effects of a wildfire depend on how fiercely it moves. Most hillsides burned in the Lodge Grass Basin fire received only gentle scorching. The canyon may hold even more vegetation and color next spring than it did before the fire. Small amounts of ash are like fertilizer; they release minerals into the soil. A more intense fire or slow smoldering can incinerate trees, cause erosion or even sterilize soil for a while, but life tends to return in nature. The Yellowstone fires of 1988 are now forests of 25-foot lodgepole pine trees.

Large critters tend to live around the boundaries between open and wooded areas. Open grass provides food, and forest provides cover. A relatively gentle, low-intensity fire such as Lodge Grass Basin creates those forest boundaries, called a mosaic burn. So do the thousands of acres of prescribed fires that Crow Agency BIA has conducted in the Reservation’s mountains since 2001.

Fuels specialists, who study these effects, call irregular fires such as Lodge Grass Basin “mosaics” to recognize the ecological benefits of wildfire. The mountains are naturally full of mosaics. Some meadows are actually spots where fires burned intensely a few generations ago.

Authorities are protecting structures around the Lodge Grass Basin Wildfire, but otherwise are minimally controlling the burn.

We blogged on the 1988 Yellowstone fire late last summer, and chronicled the local fire season, including the Obama administration's square-quester histrionics. Minus the square-quester tactics, which have faded into oblivion, we will be blogging again on the progress of the fire season as July turns into August. 

Its been a wet year. We have plenty of green. But these things can merge and grow. Til later.

Lick Creek fire, photo courtesy US Forest Service.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Saturday Pictures (On Monday)

Saturday Pictures (On Monday)
July 28, 2014
(click to enlarge)

We've been light on pictures this summer. There have been no significant Montana fires, but smoke from blazes in Washington state, and across the border in Alberta, has poured into Montana and created thick haze that washes out the scenery.  But with a cleansing air mass and little bit of travel this last weekend we came up with a few shots. These are all along the upper Missouri River, either in Great Falls (which are not so great as in the day of Lewis and Clark, since they are dammed) or further upstream between Helena and Great Falls.  

I'm publishing these pictures full size, so you can get a better idea of the size and scope of these shots.  Scroll through and enjoy!

Black Eagle Dam in Great Falls, Montana. The dam is to the left; the power plant is to the right. The dam was completed in 1891; the power plant was upgraded in 1921. 

A close up of the Black Eagle Dam powerhouse, generating capacity of 21 megawatts.

Close up of the dam only.

Looking downstream from the Black Eagle dam. The building jutting out from the bluff on the right is the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail Interpretive Center.

This is the next dam downstream, the Rainbow Dam, with a newly upgraded 21st century power plant, generating capacity of 36 megawatts. The greater flow through the power plant turbines leaves less water to flow through the dam spillways.

Here is a close up of the dam spillway.

Looking downstream from the Rainbow Dam. 

Way down there is a 550 foot long steel truss bridge.

In this close-up we get a better look of traffic crossing the Hardy Bridge at milepost 6 of old U.S. 91. The bridge was built in 1931. In this view we can see there is a turnout and a picnic table on the other side. Bridge photos are taken from an overlook on Interstate I-15.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Welcome to our Exchange Student

We have welcomed a young lady to our household for four weeks.

Asa sampling American pizza.
Her name is Asa. She hails from Yamagata, Japan, which is located along the northern spine of Japan, across the mountains from Sendai (which was decimated in the March 11, 2011 tidal wave), and Fukishima (site of four disabled, radiocative leaking nuclear reactors). Asa's father grows grapes. Her mother works with the elderly. 

She likes Anime and Volkoloids (don't ask me), an interest she holds in common with one of our children. Asa is a member of Labo in Japan.

Labo is a family-based Japanese youth organization
Children in Japan between the ages of 3 and 18 join Labo in order to improve their English-language ability as well as to learn about other cultures and intern with youngstersexpand their personal horizons. Using international bilingual songs, stories and plays from around the world, members learn about the world and about working with one another. At weekly Labo Party meetings, children of all ages work together to bring these stories and plays to life. At seasonal camps, Labo members also enjoy practicing and performing their plays in addition to hiking, games,and other outdoor activities.Labo is volunteer-driven. Thousands of Labo Tutors, trained by local Labo offices,recruit young people from their neighborhood to join their Labo Party club. Tutors often remain an important part of their members’ lives into adulthood.
Labo International Exchange Foundation
A non-profit part of Labo, has been organizing homestay and academic exchange programs since 1972 (see our history), primarily for young people between the ages of 12 and 18, but also for young adults.
Homestay in JapanThe exchange of students between Japan, North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and China, provide children and their families opportunities to experience a new culture, learn a new language and become international citizens. Labo families welcome a foreign child into their family in order to make friends, learn about a new culture, introduce their own customs and practice a new language.During the summer, Labo staff, Canadian and US university Interns, and bilingual Labo Tutors are available to assist both the families and the exchangee with problems, question or concerns.

Stateside, we are hooked in through the 4-H International Exchange Program.

logoStates' 4-H International Exchange Programs
Global Citizenship & Cultural Immersion Programming for 4-H Aged Youth

Summer Inbound Exchange Student Programs

Our Summer Inbound programs bring youth to the US each summer to stay with a host family for 4 weeks. Based on a complete cultural immersion model, youth are matched with a volunteer American family who wants to share their life with an international visitor.
Become a Host Family!
Are you interested in other countries? Would you like to welcome an international student into your home? Host families come in all shapes and sizes and reflect the diversity of the United States. What they have in common is their eagerness to open their homes and hearts to a young person from another culture. Our families are warm, welcoming volunteers who are proud to share their American culture and lifestyle.

We applied. We were cleared. And here we are.

Asa wants to visit an American farm. We will oblige. We'll also be sure to get her down to Yellowstone and Old Faithful, introduce her to a good ole western rodeo and county fair, and tube down the Madison River and chow down barbecued American bison and beef. We'll get out to a hot springs or two and over to Virginia City for a first hand flavor of 19th century frontier life.

We are looking forward to it all.

Then the day prior to Asa's return trip, we will be welcoming a German exchange student for a full academic year. It promises to be a fun and exciting time!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

John Walsh -- Democrat Senator from Montana and Plagiarist

Readers of this blog may have noticed that I am borderline obsessive about sourcing and citing the materials I rely on in this blog. I do this all for fun, not personal advancement or gain. Yet, I wouldn't think about quoting anyone or anything without putting quotation marks around the material or indenting (four or more lines is the general rule for indents versus quotes) the borrowed product. Even if I paraphrase, I link and source. It is the honest and honorable thing to do. Period.

Now here comes the junior US Senator from Montana, John Walsh, who was appointed to the office by his crony, Steve Bullock, the Democrat governor of Montana. The seat became vacant when long serving senator, Maximum Baucus, quit to spend more time in his beloved Montana, which it turns out is in the general vicinity of Beijing. Walsh is running for a full six year term against the current Republican Congressman from Montana, Steve Daines.

It so happens that John Walsh plagiarized his masters thesis (later media reports changed that to required final masters paper), not when he was a snot nosed kid, but when he was 46-year old military veteran stateside, striving to adds stripes and stars to his shoulder and advance his military career.
Montana Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized large portions of his final research paper for the U.S. Army War College, a revelation that could have a significant effect on the race to represent the state in Washington. 
In an interview with the Chronicle on Wednesday, Montana's former lieutenant governor stopped short of apologizing. Although the paper includes large word-for-word sections from academic works, Walsh said the plagiarism was unintentional and that he was taking medication at the time.
Walsh says he was taking Paxil. Common side effects include "nervous feelings, drowsiness, dizziness, nasal irritation, insomnia, or mild nausea," nothing about lying, cheating or stealing. 

Walsh was outed, by among others, the New York Times. The Bozeman Chronicle went on to report.
John Walsh's senatorial campaign is built on his so-called
honor, willingness to do what is right, and take responsibility
for his actions. What a joke!!!
Walsh submitted the 14-page paper in 2007. An analysis by the New York Times, which first reported the story online Wednesday, showed the paper contained words identical to those in academic and policy journals and books available mostly online. Walsh was 46 when he submitted the thesis entitled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy.”

An Associated Press analysis of the thesis found its first page borrows heavily from a 2003 Foreign Affairs piece written by Thomas Carothers, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a 2004 book by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer called “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.”

Sharansky is a former Soviet dissident and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States.

One section of the paper is nearly identical to 600 words from a 1998 paper by Sean Lynn-Jones, a scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a research institute at Harvard.

All six of the recommendations that Walsh lists at the end of his paper are taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie paper written by Carothers and three other scholars at the institute.

Walsh told the Times he didn't think he did anything wrong in writing his thesis.
He couldn't write 14 pages on his own? He did nothing wrong? The man is a fraud and he doesn't even know it. My eighth grader has superior academic skills and kills Walsh when it comes to honor and ethics.

John Walsh should drive away on his motorcycle and disappear into a hole somewhere. He represents everything that is wrong with this country and his party. 

Bye, Bye John Walsh.

John Walsh, driving his motorcycle in a parking lot.The man is the real thing.

Saying No to the Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage across these United States of America is $7.25.  The legally mandated minimum wage in Montana is $7.90 per hour. Neither makes much of a difference here in Bozeman, where you can't turn your head without spying a help wanted sign.

Help wanted sign at Casey's Corner Store, Four Corners location in Bozeman, MT.

The answer is in having a strong economy competing for scarce labor.  You can't legislate that. If you don't like the minimum wage where you live, come to Montana. There's plenty of work and decent pay all around -- probably better scenery too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lone Star Legacy: Introducing Joseph Holick -- Musician, Band Leader and Boot Maker

We've had a ton of fun, and learned a lot, researching and writing about ancestors on the paternal side of my family in the ever popular Road to Bathgate series. There will be plenty more to come as we comb through our mounting cache of historical documents and develop additional sources. 

Thanks to my Alberta, Canada, cousin's wife, when I walked to the mailbox a few weeks back, we found a packet of documents on another of my great uncles -- this time James (J. D.) Foster, brother of my grandfather, I. J. Foster, and a great uncle, George S. Foster. The packet also included documentation on their maternal uncle (George Sanderson, a safecracker no less and namesake of George Sanderson Foster) , who J. D. followed out west to Alberta in the latter part of the 19th century. They lived an incredible life that will make for a great read. We will be writing when the snows come this fall. Thank you Mary Joan!

But now, we will take a different tact and begin to build the story of my wife's family line, beginning with its renowned patriarch, his music and his boots.

Her great grandfather, Joseph Holick, was an Austrian (an area that later became Czech) immigrant. He was a clarinetist, bugler and band leader, and a cobbler and boot maker supreme. Joseph Holick served as campus bugler (playing Reveille and Taps) and then founded and became the first band leader of the Texas A&M "Aggie" band. He later fit and custom crafted highly prized A&M cadet "senior boots." Joseph Holick lived to be 103 years old and sired a generation of musicians.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Global Warming Swamps the South

Memphis Tennesse set a new record Friday -- for its lowest ever high temperature in July. Friday July 19, 2014 is the first day since records have been kept that the daily temperature failed to reach 70 degrees in July, so says the National Weather Service.

NWS offical statement
Here is a picture of our car thermometer when as we were driving through Memphis, Tennesse, two years ago this month.

Outside temperature of 105° Fahrenheit in Memphis, TN, July 2012, from our Dodge Caravan.

Meanwhile, scientists are predicting global warming caused temperature increases of "between 2°C and 3°C (3.6°F and 5.4°F)" in Memphis.

Carry on people, carry on.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chemtrails Over California

So say the informed citizens of Shasta County. The Board of Supervisors is opening a full bore investigation.
To combat the chemtrail menace, concerned citizens
inundate July 15 Shasta County supervisors meeting.
REDDING, California - The Shasta County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to seek more information on “chemtrails” after nearly four hours of public comment on the issue.
Supervisor Pam Giacomini put the item on the agenda, and a number of so-called chemtrail experts addressed the panel, followed by dozens of speakers who blamed a host of personal and environmental ills on airplane exhaust.
So called? It's about time to put the skepticism aside. This is backed by science.
Supervisor Pam Giacomoni said it was important to listen to people’s concerns in the community and dig deeper when presented with compelling, fact-based information.
“They say they have a lot of science, they presented us a lot of information and I think it’s important for us to have that public discussion,” she said.
A panel of people involved in the movement to raise awareness of the geo-engineering conspiracy started the presentation, telling the board that airplane contrails harm human health and the environment.
“We have a contamination issue that is a danger to the public,” Wigington said.
Climate change programs are at work. The UN is putting its weight behind the cause.

The effects on people and the environment are profound.
Dozens of residents stepped up to the podium to address their concerns. They blamed a host of illnesses to “chemtrails,” including cancer, fibers growing out of their skin, general feelings of malaise, neurological problems and compromised immune systems.
Others ticked off environmental damage, including insects disappearing from one woman’s property, trees dying, aquatic insects dying off in water contaminated by aluminum, drought, wildfires and holes in the ozone layer.
Scientists claiming human caused pollution? Of course. Chemtrails are causing the California drought. Here are the details.
Since at least the 1990′s, chemical weapons have been used in a spray form against the American people from the air, on a more or less continuous basis.  The attacks continue today.  The planes are not the air force of some other country or terrorist organization.
This Chemical Weapons Assault Targets Us, And We Don’t Even Complain
Thanks to the courage of recent whistleblowers, we now have confirmed that they are military aircraft and private contractors working for the U.S. government or its agencies, in cooperation with similar programs under way in many other parts of the world.  Though even local and state government agencies have refused to test soil, water or air samples delivered to them from heavily sprayed areas to identify the chemicals dropped from these planes, we now have extensive data from private labs indicating some of the components of the chemical weapons being used.  We know there are may sophisticated “recipes” involved, but the majority include toxic metals, such as aluminum, barium, strontium, and sometimes others such as lead.  There are also sophisticated chemical ingredients that are capable of many types of destructive effects on soil and all levels of natural life forms, as well as disruptive effects on natural weather patterns and human health.
The Chemtrails – HAARP Combination And The Killer Drought
California's Folsom lake down to 17 percent of
capacity on January 15, 2014.
Possibly in combination with the effects of the HAARP system (see “Angels Don’t Play This Haarp” by Dr. Nick Begich), the calculated spraying of these toxic metal mixtures are capable of radically changing normal jetstream patterns, thus causing climate disruption, and this has now been used to create an extremely severe protracted drought over northern California, where reservoirs that are needed to sustain California agriculture are now near empty.  The implications of this fact are sobering. 
Chemtrails over Dry Lake, California.
This drought-creation effect is extremely important as it is being used in northern California, where it is causing severe damage to California’s agricultural crops, and threatening much worse.   This is happening at the same time as the as the U.S. government’s plan to destroy the U.S. economy moves into its final stages.  Together, these simultaneous programs could lead to non-availability of many foods in the U.S., and prices so high on what is left that most people could not afford to buy it.  For many months now, each storm that comes normally in off the Pacific Ocean to bring rain to the drought stricken area is dissipated with extensive spraying (see detailed accounts at www.geoengineeringwatch.org).  The small amount of moisture that does fall is toxic.  With orchards already dying and being pulled out due to lack of necessary water, California cannot withstand this continued attack on all its life forms and its soil, especially when combined with the nuclear emergency conditions that continue as a result of the Fukushima disaster.  See an in depth discussion of the details of this combined assault (chemical attack and radioactive fallout), including scientific commentary on the ingredients in the chemical sprays that are affecting human health, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkZ7v_6nsl0&feature=youtu.be .
For more infromation please refer to http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pig Wrestling

Is alive and well at the Gallitan County Fair in Bozeman, Montana.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Morton Grove Mapped Through Time

I love maps. I love studying them, learning from them and comparing one to another. I know that I can get from here to there these days using my smart phone or GPS. But still, when I'm planning a trip, I stop at the local AAA office and gather up the relevant foldout regional, state and local maps. Looking at a big foldout map gives a sense of perspective and space that doesn't jump out from a tiny cell phone screen or my notebook computer. The foldouts are dogeared by the time we finish a trip, my kids shaking their heads all the way, wondering why I would use the maps at all.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recently came out with a spiffy new product that publishes PDF format topographical maps of various locations in the United States through much of the 20th century. The maps show streets, depict the topography, and show human-made features individually or represent them in densely developed areas by a color shading scheme.

There are ten different Morton Grove maps in the series, mostly post WW II. I downloaded maps from 1900, 1929, 1953 and 1963, and cropped down to the respective areas that encompass Morton Grove. These will appear in images below. But first, we need to look at a couple of baselines to get some perspective. Here is a high level schematic showing Morton Grove's borders today.

Morton Grove modern borders.
Golf Road is the northern Morton Grove border, plus there is a narrow commercial strip north of Golf Road, between Waukegan Road and Harlem Avenue. Washington Road is Morton Grove's western border south of Golf Road down to Dempster Street, except for the final few blocks where the border kinks in to Ozark Avenue. South of Dempster the western border lies just East of National Avenue, until it turns east to follow generally Caldwell Avenue. Morton Grove's southern border runs along Oakton Street and an industrial/commercial area just south of Oakton between the river and the tracks. The south border moves a couple blocks further south to Mulford Street starting at Gross Point Road. Starting at Mulford and moving up, Morton Grove's east border is Long Ave, until it turns towards and then along the Edens Expressway starting just south of Lincoln. North of Dempster, the eastern border is Linder Avenue.

When I was a kid, we referred to everything west of the river as the west side. The part of town east of the river and north of Dempster we called the north side. The area south of Dempster and east of the river, which was where Morton Grove was originally settled, we called the south side. East side was not in our lexicon. I will maintain that terminology in the following discussion.

Morton Grove, Illinois, 2013 land use map.

To give a current reference point, I looked at the above 2013 land use map published by a village planning consultant. Single family residential is white, multi-family residential is orange, commercial is scarlet, industrial is mauve, institutional (schools, churches and municipal) is blue, open space (parks and forest preserve) is green and vacant is light blue. 

Note there are very few light blue blots. For most practical purposes, Morton Grove is fully developed. 

In contrast, in 1900 there were only about 100 buildings (black dots below) in all of what encompasses Morton Grove today.

USGS 1900 Morton Grove topographic map.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Kuyk Logan RIP

My wife will fly off to Houston this week to attend the funeral of Mathew "Kuyk" Logan, a journalist extraordinaire. Their lives became forever intertwined as a result of her relationship with Kuyk's son, Bob, a musician who died tragically at 19 years of age.

Kuyk Logan,
August 19, 1933 - July 11, 2014
Today, we publish a brief tribute to Mr. Logan's life. May Kuyk Logan rest peacefully and eternally.

Kuyk was a reporter, editor and manager who had a long and distinguished newspaper career. He starting out as a desk man and a general assignment reporter. His newspaper career was capped off by service as the managing editor of the Houston Post
After obtaining a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma where he was editor of the student newspaper, Logan took a reporting job at United Press International and later became city editor for The Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. During that time, he was Oklahoma correspondent for Time, Life and Fortune magazines but his newspaper career began much earlier. 
At age 11, he began publishing a neighborhood newspaper in his hometown of Norman. The Petite Press, an "almost daily" with a paid circulation topping 50, gave Logan his first scoop. In the wee hours of June 6, 1944, he delivered the news of the Allied Invasion in Normandy to the doorsteps of his subscribers "before the Norman Transcript paperboys were even out of bed." 
Kuyk's early love of the news business went beyond being a grade school news tycoon. He also had a newspaper route and swept out the local radio station and several print shops where he learned the craft of letterpress printing. 
In high school he had a weekly radio program on station KNOR in Norman where he covered local happenings and played hit music of the day. In college he hosted OU's Front Page with Kuyk Logan on the same station. 
Kuyk's long news career took him to the San Angelo (TX) Standard-Times, United Press International in Oklahoma City and The Daily Oklahoman and Oklahoma City Times. While city editor of The Daily Oklahoman, the Hobby family brought him to Houston in 1969 as assistant managing editor of The Houston Post. He was named managing editor in 1976, a job he held until the paper was sold in 1983.  
See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=mathew-logan&pid=171705376&fhid=10998#sthash.HpvYyqol.dpuf
Later in his career Kuyk oversaw the news operation of a Houston television station, and worked as an information officer, communications manager, marketing executive and press liaison in the healthcare industry. He finished off his professional career with a three year stint in an endowed faculty chair at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Lubbock Avalanche Journal
November 17, 1957
Early on, working for the United Press International wire service, Kuyk covered sports. He was present for and reported on the end of the still standing, NCAA record, Oklahoma Sooner football team's 47-game winning streak. Kuyk quoted the victorious Notre Dame Fighting Irish coach, Terry Brennan, as "giving 'all the credit to my boys' for Notre Dame's storybook victory over Oklahoma." The Notre Dame coach said his quarterback "was in complete charge during the 80-yard drive that sent the longest scoring streak in college history crashing down." Kuyk's reporting continued, "After the curtain came down on Oklahoma's 47-game victory string, coach Bud Wilkinson, possible a little misty-eyed, summed up the disappointment by saying 'we played as well as we could.'"

Kuyk moved on to the cops and robbers beat. One time, he reported on a jailbreak:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bathgate Meets Morton Grove

You can take the farmer out of the farm, but you can't take the farm out of a farmer. 

The following photo is classic for both our On the Road to Bathgate and our Morton Grove series. Leading the wagon is my mother, Evelyn Foster. Trailing is my father, George W. Foster, posing (more or less) as a hayseed farmer. In between is Rilley (son of) the Pig. The picture was taken at the corner of Austin Avenue and Dempster Street in Morton Grove, Illinois, the very same intersection where the notorious The Dells roadhouse was once located.

It is the annual Morton Grove Days parade, circa 1965. My dad served on the board of Morton Grove Days, a community carnival and fair which raised considerable sums that helped to support civic ventures, including closest to my dad's heart, fields for Little League baseball. A chip off his father I. J. Foster's block, my dad always loved a fair and was active in promoting the same.

One year, dad put his signature on Morton Grove Days by introducing an event from his youth in rural North Dakota -- a greased pig wrestling contest.  Dad found a pig farmer out by Gurnee who was willing to lend one of his swine. They named the pig Riley. 

Morton Grove Days has long
supported civic investments. This
August 4, 1950 article in the Daily
references the purchase of and
improvements for Harrer Park.
As the sun went down on the carnival midway, and sufficient beer garden libations had been consumed to infuse wrestling bravado, Riley was lathered in lard and released in a muddy pen. With hundreds crowded around, fair goers were challenged to wrestle Riley to the ground. The pig, however, was bigger, stronger, faster and more agile (probably smarter too) than the he-men he faced. The would be wrestlers ended up with nothing more than fistfuls of lard and a profile caked head to toe in mud. They never had a chance. It was hilarious seeing them slide into, slither and wallow in the muck.

Sure enough, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (do-gooders as my father called them) filed a complaint. After consultation with his management team, Riley submitted an oped piece for publication in the local weekly newspaper, the Morton Grove Champion

The pig said he was living the life of Riley. When Riley returned to the farm his new found fame dictated wearing sunglasses to deflect excessive public attention. By virtue of his Morton Grove Days performance, Riley became the most popular pig in the pen. He could not help but notice that when he was away from the farm, a number of his brethren had gone to bacon. Riley thanked the Morton Grove Days Committee for giving him the opportunity to defer the same fate.

The next year, the greased pig was christened Rilley, with a double "l." My dad claimed Rilley was son of Riley, but anyone who knows anything about how pigs are raised, knows that production pigs are relieved of the ability to sire young ones at a very tender age. A little hyperbole never hurt anyone.

A big thank you to the childhood chum who sent me the parade photo on Facebook!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Watching A Garden Grow

For this, our second full summer in Bozeman, I cultivated and planted a vegetable garden. Last year I experimented a bit, planting tomatoes and peppers in rock garden beds alongside our garage. I was concerned the growing season might not be long enough to produce a viable crop. We blogged:
Last spring I was concerned whether it would be worthwhile to start a Montana tomato garden. With a cold start to spring and May snows I dared not plant tomatoes until about the tenth of June. I knew the number of days with prime tomato vine growing weather (85 degree highs and up) would be limited and I could only hope that lengthy mid-summer daylight cycles would make up for less than ideal temperatures. When I shopped for bedding plants at the garden store I looked for vines with short growing cycles. I found a Park's Whopper hybrid advertised for 65 days to maturity. I planted and caged but 2 plants, pairing them with a set of sweet pepper bushes, and hoped for the best.

Sure enough, our first ripe tomatoes came in during late August. We sliced the first to garnish grilled bison burgers, cubed others to mix in garden salads, and ate several separately as plump, succulent side dishes. Mmmmm. The peppers were slower to come around, but by September 1 we had a few. And soon enough we had too many tomatoes. Cue the spaghetti sauce brigade.
So this year I set out to create an actual raised bed and started plants from seed indoors -- warm weather vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and acorn squash, plus basil. 

I bought a dozen timbers at Home Depot to border the bed. Inside the timbers I laid down the organic kitchen waste we had composted throughout the last year. I put down layers of newspaper and grass clippings and used grass clippings (a kindly neighbor who de-thatches his lawn and bags his early season mower clippings contributed) to mulch and protect transplants. I put down a layer of topsoil on about half the area to give a first year medium for direct seed planting, which included radishes, bunching onions, carrots and lettuce. 

In mid-May I looked at the long-range weather forecast. It called for temperate conditions. So I gambled on no late season frost and transplanted most of the warm weather vegetables around May 20th. We were rewarded by a few late May days where temperatures rose above 80. Cooler weather waited until June (Bozeman June temperatures never cracked 80) when cooler than normal days meant overnight lows in the 40s and upper 30s, not a killing frost like what frequently happens in May. 

Here is the raised garden bed today.

I've made plenty of salads with garden lettuce, garnished by freshly picked radishes. In the next week or two we should have a bumper crop of broccoli, which the kids and their mom love to eat.

The chives have filled out considerable in their second full year and make a great garnish on all manner of dishes. I planted oregano (also a perennial) next to the chives early last week and look forward to fresh garden grown herb later this fall and throughout most of 2015.

Above are a couple of garlic plants. We will get a better and more abundant crop next year because we will be able to plant cloves into our raised garden bed this fall.

We'll finish up with pictures of some of our perennial flowers. The dianthus came back particularly strong and have given our property bright bursts of color all around.

With this year's tomatoes, peppers, onions, chives, basil and garlic we are looking forward to making fully homegrown tomato sauce in the fall. Yum, yum, fresh and fragrant.

Polar Vortex In July

Our eight year old was insisting at the dining room table today that cold summer is on its way. No sooner did I power up the computer than this image appeared!

The Washington Post asks  "What’s behind this unusual winter weather pattern primed for the dog days of summer?" It goes on to answer,  "A lot of it is simply chance (randomness)." As always, anything that doesn't fit the theology of global warming is noise -- we totally get it. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

River Tubing In Montana

Tubing is in season now.

Most years it is this.

We have a new twist and a different tube this summer season.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Seattle World's Fair or Bust

I grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois, a near north suburb of Chicago populated by 20 to 25 thousand people at the time. It was all Midwest all the time, but things were happening about the US and around the world. The world was a'changing. 

This was an era when the United States first launched a rocket into space, a suborbital launch at first. The Soviet Union beat the US into space, into orbit and with manned (and women) space flight. The space race was on.

I remember our household had no television in the mid 1950s. When we did get a TV with a tiny black and white screen, we were blessed with all of four channels (NBC, ABC, CBS and educational TV) because we lived in a major metropolitan area where the signals broadcast from the aerial atop Chicago's Prudential Building carried far and wide. 

Operators connecting calls on switchboards.
Our phone number was ORchard-5-3565. There was no such thing as an area code. Long distance telephone calls had to be placed through an operator who manually routed the call to distant circuits via wires and prongs into a large panel switchboard. Because we had a party line, often as not, if you picked up the phone in the late afternoon or early evening you would hear other voices engaged in conversation, already occupying the line. 

Computers -- the few that existed -- were mainframes that filled a building or a spacious room and had a tiny fraction of the computing power of a smart phone today. Only centralized government, large businesses and research institutions had entered the digital age and that was via Hollerith (more commonly known as punch) cards and reel-to-reel magnetic tapes.  

Seattle World's fair promotional poster.
So you can imagine, in August 1962 when our family squeezed into the Chevrolet Bel Air sedan to set out on a west coast trip to the Seattle World's Fair, and the 21st century wonders it promised to preview, we were incredibly excited. We looked forward to visiting the Space Needle, riding the Monorail and exploring the Century 21 Exposition.

I was only 8 years old. My memories are crisp and clear, but a bit disjointed.

I have tried since we moved to Bozeman two years ago, to piece through and reconstruct our 1962 route west through Montana. It's not so easy as you might think because the road system was quite different then. Except for a tiny section or two, Montana was devoid of interstate highways, but parts were under construction. To make it more complicated, the official 1962 state highway map showed interstate designations along the intended routes, making it all but impossible to identify the the several sections where the Interstate had been completed. 

1962 Montana state highway map.

Big sky country was crisscrossed with two lane highways.

One of the things we did on road trips back then was read out loud the Burma Shave signs. They were grouped in series of six and rhymed.