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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Visions of the Past

Today the kids and I got lunch and went to the "duck pond" with some stale hamburger buns to feed the birds. It was a beautiful sunny day and the outing was very pleasant.

After we decided to leave there, my 13 year old son, Wynston, said, "Let's visit the Red Barn". He and I had gone there once right after moving to Great Falls over a couple years ago. All of us had a good time looking at the different items arranged on shelves, in cases, and in every nook and corner. I couldn't help but pull out the camera and snap some photos.

I fell in love with a silver fruit pedestal bowl. I have never seen one of these before. It is now on my dining table waiting for some fruit to be placed in it. I almost felt a little guilty splurging on it, but then again I do that for my family all the time and this was calling my name. So I am calling it a late birthday present, late anniversary present to myself.

Now, I just need to find a tea service set to match it. I have been off and on looking for one for a couple years now. This is something that I remember my foster mother had sitting on a table made from an old iron Singer sewing machine table bottom in our hallway. Another one of those visual memories I have in my mind as if it were yesterday. I never have asked any of the foster brothers or other of their family who got her tea set when she passed away. May never know but only hope they enjoy it and display it like she did.

I found this item very interesting. Was it simply a type writer way back when? Was it something more like a printing press type machine for a newspaper? Guess I will have to do a little research on this Graphotype.

Projects for June 2011

I work at a local therapeutic group home for kids ranging in age from 13 to 18. We have up to six residents at a time. Due to the rainfall being continuously keeping them indoors, the kids have been putting together puzzles, playing card games, and watching DVD's I take in for them. Their attention spans are usually pretty short and reading is not one of their favorite things to do. Since I work overnights midnight to 8 a.m., the kids know that I bring along embroidery pieces to work on. I was asked a while back by one of the boys if I could create for him a logo on a pillow of the MSU Bobcats. This was interesting to do as it is hard to print one out online as they are owned. I was able to get a faint one and laid it directly on my fabric and then did a trace outline on my sewing machine. From there I did a hand loop stitch and completed his request. I was able to put a big grin on a 13 year old. From there he then asked if I could make him a pattern on fabric to learn to stitch. I chose a horse for him and he decided he would make it for his mother. His stitches were big but he was pleased and I turned his project into a wall hanging to give to her. Now he has followed my instruction and completed 3 more patterns which I will be making into tote bags for his 3 younger sisters.

From his interest, then 2 other girls in the home have requested patterns to stitch. One is a young pregnant 16 year old and wants a jungle theme quilt top for her baby. I put most of the center of the quilt together and drew the patterns for her to stitch. I have a feeling she will not be completing her project, but we will see.

Another girl is soon to be 17 and she has completed two patterns in a days time. Now she is requesting a ladybug fabric panel to do for her mother. So I must close for now and find a pattern to give to her to work on tomorrow.

These kids are keeping me busy. One staff member told me recently that we are not there to "entertain" them. I don't know if this is what I am doing or not, but I do know they are happy and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Also, it is making their time go by faster and the other staff are happy they have something to do.

This last picture is of a baby quilt (raw edge circle) I finished and mailed to Ashland, OR to a young lady I used to be a "nanny-type" person in her life over 18 years ago. She just had her first baby. I am happy for her, but it makes me feel a little old when I think of how much time has passed by from my years with her. She was sweet and wrote me that she remembers I taught her all the words to the song "When You Wish Upon a Star". It is funny the things people remember about each other.

A Bird's Home

At the local Farmer's Market there is a new vendor this year and I simply love her items. I have never seen any birdhouses shaped or painted like these before. They are too cute to put outside to weather and fade in my opinion. I haven't purchased one yet because I haven't decided which one is my favorite. My daughter has her favorite in mind and she also says there is one of the dogs that has "sad" eyes that she likes.

All I know is the person that creates the shape of these has a creative vision and the painting is one of the best -- a true artist.

The name of this booth -- Lakeside Decoys by Jim & Chris Linn-Hatcher, http:/ out of Helena, MT

Saturday, June 11, 2011

In Love with Lilacs

Montana has been flooding the past few weeks due to rain and more rain. Also, snow melting from the mountains and running into the rivers causing the banks to overflow and dams and reservoirs being at capacity are other causes of the flooding.

Spirits of the peoples and natives in this state have been down and staying home has become a regular time passing state due to the rain. The local news and newspaper are filled with more and more stories and pictures of areas of concern and devastation. One article in today's paper says the governor reports 8.6 million in damages so far. Then other radio stories say from his office for farmers and home owners not to expect help from the government.

One happy thought and visual I see around town here is all the purple on the bushes. The blooms on the lilacs are spectacular this year. Had to grab my camera and snap some photos of the bushes in my back yard. I love the combination of the colors of purple and green. When I was a little girl and people would ask what my favorite colors were my reply was always dark purple and dark green. That has never changed for me even to this day.

I also got to work with our youngest on learning how to use the lawn mower on the front yard and was pleased to see the enormous tree in the middle of the yard is sporting some green -- the leaves are returning. I love them now, but just wait till they start falling and swamping the front yard in the fall. That will be another article with a different tone in the writing!!!

Presidential Flare

Recently I read a local newspaper article about some new statues here in Great Falls, MT. They have been placed in front of the local Scheel's store at the Holiday Village Mall. The mall is not usually a place I visit and have been maybe 3 times with my family and a little bit more with the girls from the group home I work for. It is a place I like to rush into and get out of as quickly as possible. To me shopping at a thrift store is not wasting money as much as walking the mall and making purchases on things I hadn't planned. With a thrift store, you can find "deals" and it is never the same each visit.

Still with hearing of new statues, I made a special trip with the family -- in the rain no less and snapped a few photos. My husband had to have his picture with them as well. I love all the detail included on these. Wonder if they will keep polished or if the weather will be the one to maintain them only.

Interesting history of the Scheel's Store is found below:

Three acres of potatoes were the seed for the first Scheels store in 1902. Frederick A. Scheel, a German immigrant, used the $300 he earned from that first harvest of potatoes as the down payment on the first Scheels, a small hardware and general merchandise store in Sabin, Minnesota.

Over the years, Scheels opened in surrounding communities, including Fargo, North Dakota, where the Corporate Office and the second Largest All Sport Store in the World are now located. Reno-Sparks Scheels became the World's Largest All Sports Store in September 2008.

Firmly planted in the hardware business, Scheels started adding a small selection of sporting goods to their stores in 1954. Customer interest grew, and more and more sports lines were added with athletic shoes and clothing being introduced in the Scheels' product mix in 1972.

Scheels' first All Sports Superstore opened in Grand Forks, ND in 1989. Today, Scheels is a 23-store operation with stores in 8 states including North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Nevada. Providing Scheels' customers with first-class customer service and the world's largest selection of sports, sportswear and footwear are the priorities throughout the organization

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Madame Mustache Eleanor Dumont

A colorful character that once resided in Fort Benton, Montana is Madame Mustache Eleanor Dumont. I had never heard of her before but she sounds like a pistol. Don't know how the women of the town liked her, but the men did respect her gaming skills.

Eleanore Dumont, better known as Madame Mustache, was one of the first known professional blackjack players in American history and, for over three decades, made her name famous across the mining camps of the American West.
She was thought to have been born in New Orleans, Louisiana in about 1829 but, for whatever reasons, made her way west during the California Gold Rush. Known as Simone Jules, a petite and pretty French woman in her early twenties, she arrived in San Francisco in about 1849, where she soon established herself as a gambler, favoring the game of Vingt-et-un, which means “21,” the precursor of American Blackjack.

At times, Eleanore could be a tough, shrewd businesswoman, but she also possessed a good heart, often providing free meals and a place to stay for miners who needed it. While at Fort Benton, Montana, she was perpetuating her reputation working in what was known as “the bloodiest block in the West.” Here, on Front Street, the block contained more than a dozen saloons, dance halls, and brothels, where Eleanor had set up her table in a gambling den called “The Jungle.” In June, 1867, as she sat at her table dealing cards, she spied an incoming steamboat called the Walter B. Dance coming into to dock. Having heard a report that the boat was carrying smallpox aboard, she jumped up from her table, ran down the stairs and across the street to the levee, where she brandished two pistols, warning the captain not to stop.

When the rush was on in Deadwood, South Dakota, she was also present. While there, some say that she was friends with Calamity Jane and tried to teach her the finer points of poker. However, if this is true, her attempts failed, as Jane was always known to be a poor gambler. In 1877, a Deadwood reporter would say of her: “A character who attracts the attention of all strangers is ‘Mme. Mustache,’ a plump little French lady, perhaps forty years of age, but splendidly preserved.

She derives her name, which is the only one she is known by, from a dainty strip of black hair upon her upper lip. She deals her own game, and is quite popular with the boys, who treat her with marked respect. She has bright black eyes and a musical voice, and there is something attractive about her as she looks up with a little smile and says, ‘You will play, M’sieur?’” He continued by saying, “No one knows her history. She is said to be very rich.”

The Montana Memorial

The piece below is actual wording found on this sign in front of the Lewis and Clark Memorial.

The Lewis and Clark Memorial was Fort Benton's contribution to the Nation's Bicentennial in 1976 and is the State of Montana's official memorial to the Expedition. The total cost was $175,000.

The statue is heroic-sized (1/6 larger than actual). It was cast by the lost-wax process at the Modern Art Foundry in New York City. The bronze weighs 2 1/2 tons, is 21 feet high and was brought from New York upright on a semi-trailor! During the trip, problems were encountered with interstate underpasses. It caused many a head to turn, but the Captains were not recognized until the statue was west of the Mississippi.

The 85-ton granite base was a gift from Tanner brothers Quarry near Square Butte, Montana. The rock was transported in mid-winter over frozen roads, to save the roadway, on a thirty-wheeled trailer.

Artist Bob Scriver spent an entire year in research before beginning the three-year effort. Equipment, clothing, body features and faces are as historically accurate as could be determined. The Harpers Ferry rifles are accurate even to the name on the hammer plate. The actual telescope carried by Lewis was the pattern for the one he holds in the statue; the compass in Clark's hand was modeled from the one he really did use.

Indian lore is Mr. Scriver's forte, and the statue shows his vast understanding of the Plains Indian culture. Sacagawea's dress is that of a Shoshoni who were her people. She is carrying a skinning knife and an awl, a strike-o-light hangs from her belt. Sacagawea is also wearing many rings and bracelets. Clark mentioned her fondness for jewelry which he often gave her on the trip.

On her back she carries Jean Baptiste in a blanket folded to free both her hands. The pack board is missing since it was washed overboard a few days earlier. Secured to the baby's blanket is a serpent's pouch containing his umbilical cord; such a pouch was worn by all male children of the pains people. Pouches for females were shaped like a turtle.

Art critics have placed the artistry of the Memorial among the top ten major statuaries of Western art. Bob Scriver is among the West's greatest sculptors, he stated that this Memorial is the most outstanding work of his career.

Ever Seen A Blue Trout

One fish, two fish, wanna see a blue fish?
Great Falls Tribune - Great Falls, Mont.
Date: May 19, 2011

There are blue fin tuna and blue catfish and just plain blue fish ? a salt water variety ? but have you ever seen a blue trout?

Turns out they are rare, but not that rare.

Roland Nello Micheletti of Black Eagle is fascinated by the blue trout that he found last fall in the show pond at Giant Springs Fish Hatchery in Great Falls. He has photographed them and handed out more than 200 pictures to people.

"Anything to promote Giant Springs," Micheletti said. "When we were kids we had a lot of great times down there."

Micheletti learned of the blue trout while chatting with one of the hatchery workers.

"I said the albino must be one of the rarest and he said 'no, the blue trout is the rarest,' Micheletti recalled. "I had never seen one.

"Then last summer I took a cousin down to look at the fish and the blue trout just came up and I said this is the one FWP has been talking about."

"They definitely are a blue shade," said Bruce Chaney, manager of the Giant Springs Fish Hatchery. "It is a genetic aberration. It is just that their pigmentation is a different color than what a normal rainbow would be. They are kind of like an albino but instead of yellow they are blue."

Chaney said the blue trout is rare but not real rare.

The blue trout are in the "show pond" where visitors can watch the trout, according to Chaney.

"We always get some," Chaney said. "I am sure there are some out in our raceways right now.

"They grow just like a normal rainbow trout," Chaney said. "When we do see something like that or the albino we try to separate them and raise them large enough to put out in the show pond with the bigger fish ? just something for people to see."

Chaney said he has never seen a blue trout get as large as a normal rainbow trout.

"It seems like most get to be a pound or two pounds at the biggest," he said.

Chaney said blue trout like albino trout are unlikely to survive long in the wild.

"If you come upon one in the wild, there is nothing wrong with them, they just have different pigmentation. But you probably wouldn't see one in the wild. Just like the albino, because of their coloration, they are an attraction to other predators who key right in on them."

p>Fisheries people raise between 650,000 to 700,000 trout each year at the Giant Springs Fish Hatchery. The fish come to the hatchery in the "eye" stage, in which only an eye is visible in the egg.

"We get eggs shipped in the eye stage and it takes about 10 days for them to hatch," Chaney said. "We raise them up to whatever size the biologists request.

The hatchery receives rainbows from a brood hatchery at Arlee north of Missoula and from the federal fish hatchery at Ennis.

"We plant these where ever we need rainbows," Chaney said. "Most of what we plant here stays in northcentral Montana.

The hatchery raises fish year round: They receive eggs in the spring and then again in late summer. They raise the largest numbers of fish in November, December and January and plant them in the spring.

"We are just getting going on planting right now," Chaney said. "We begin with the weather being good in about mid-April and go all the way through mid-October.

Micheletti has chats frequently with FWP Administrative Assistant Laura Doughty about the blue trout.

"He is really interested in them," she said. "He has visited a lot about them. I think people get interested in our hatchery system when they go to that show pond by the spring where they can feed the fish."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

From Stagecoach to Steamboats Fort Benton, Montana

A couple weekends ago we took a drive to Fort Benton, Montana just forty miles northeast of Great Falls, Montana. Right before the turn off of Highway 87 to the town is a scenic overlook that is spectacular, even in rainy overcast weather as pictured here.

A covered area has many informative signs about the area and I have included them here for some history of Lewis and Clark expedition, early Montana settlements, historical travel routes, and trade industry of that time period.

The river below was the first trail west. On their way to the Pacific, Lewis and Clark used the Missouri as their route to the Rocky Mountains. Maria's River enters the Missouri fifteen miles down stream. In June 1805 the Captains spent 10 days exploring both forks, trying to decide which way led to the mountains. Although their men wanted to continue up the north fork, Lewis and Clark chose the south fork. Their decision prevented weeks of retracing the trail and probably saved the expedition. The Corps of Discovery was able to cross the Rockies before winter prevented its passage.

Founded in 1846 as a fur post, Fort Benton is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Montana. From its palisaded walls grew the most important transportation center in the Northwest. Trails led to all points of the compass, carrying goods and supplies to the U.S. and Canada. Steamboats docked at Fort Benton's levee. Freight was loaded into giant wagons pulled by hundreds of mules and oxen to faraway places in Idaho, Washington, and Alberta. When the railroads crossed Montana and Alberta in the early 1880's, the town ended as a transportation center but the area continued to prosper with cattle, sheep, and wheat.

A very beautiful view and a rich full history are quiet a pair of this site we visited. It was also interesting to see license plates of others stopping at this site -- most of them from Canada with cameras in hand snapping pictures like me.