A Few Thoughts on Abortion and Sex Education

In John Prine’s song, “Way Back Then,” he sings, “I am out undoing all the good I’ve done.” That could be a theme for the past few years in the United States. Environmental laws passed “way back then” are weakened, international agreements are abandoned, traditional friends are snubbed and rancorous, argumentative politics have settled into every level of government. I… Read more →

A Few Thoughts on Questions For My Dad.

My neighbor Aaron Harris showed up with his portable sawmill this week, and we proceeded to make rectangular pieces out round logs harvested from my place by Ma Nature herself: windthrown Douglas fir, cedar and hemlock courtesy of big wind events during the past few years. Brother Kent and I salvaged them with my chainsaw and his tractor. He sent… Read more →

A Few Thoughts About Conservatism

When my grandparents landed in Montana long, long, long ago, they brought with them some interesting sensibilities. They were of the pioneer type, but missed the big push into the country and so ended up being, in reality, settlers. They arrived 34 years after the Northern Pacific, more or less, and so found other folks on the ground already. But… Read more →

A few thoughts on the closing of Ivano’s

There’s a joke about Ivano’s Ristorante Italiano, a Sandpoint institution for 37 years: Question: “Where’s the best Italian restaurant in Spokane?” Answer: “In Sandpoint.” Alas, no more. I enjoyed what was possibly a last meal at Ivano’s Friday before last. I enjoyed my “employee discount for life,” Jim Lippi’s gift to me when I left his employment once, though it… Read more →

A Few Thoughts on Listening.

Our friend Glada McIntire recently moved further into her true realm when she became pure spirit and left her shell behind. I say “our,” because Glada had many friends, and some are my friends as well. I am not privy to details of her transition, but I would hope she accomplished that final shedding in an old growth forest —… Read more →

More than a few thoughts on the United States; past, present and future.

I am ranging through The American Trails Series, ten books edited by A. B. Guthrie, Jr. and published in the 1960s. They each have a different author, including Wallace Stegner (The Gathering of Zion) and Stewart Holbrook (The Boston Post Road). Beginning with prehistory, they are accounts of major routes of exploration, migration, trade and conquest on the North American… Read more →

A few thoughts on pure-d B*** S***

The weather has been unseasonably warm, if you haven’t noticed, and I’ve whiled away a few days getting reacquainted with the prairies and island ranges of central Montana. Day before yesterday, I drove from Chinook through the Bears Paw Mountains, crossed Missouri on the Sanford-McClellan Ferry and found a camp in the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument. Last night, I… Read more →

Oh, Deer

Skin and flesh ran crimson wet with the life that only just left her. Suddenly I was overcome with anger. This carnage we create is too readily brushed aside as a necessary consequence of modern mobility. Read more →

The Blessings of Retirement

Retirement means, of course, launching full-tilt into the rest of life, set to do all the things we have been wanting to do, but lacked the long, connected strings of time to do them. There’s nothing like a chainsaw, a splitting axe and some old-fashioned salvage logging and wood-cutting to facilitate social distancing. Read more →

What Would You Tell Us?

  If you could talk, what would you tell us? About the day that they punched the highway past Powell And about the people who came there and stayed in those cabins Built so long ago What would you tell us about the river And what used to come and what no longer does What would you tell us about… Read more →

Sawtooth Adventure (2017)

Over breakfast, Sandy Compton casually mentions that the distance to the Sawtooth summit is just 2.5 miles, as a swallow flies. So I figure, with my limited understanding of off-trail hiking, that our route should be no more than 4.5. We meet Kate, Celeste, Annie and Cary at 7:55am mountain time. We wait a while for two no-shows before driving… Read more →

Upper Ross Creek

Ode to Upper Ross Creek

My right knee is troubling me. I’ve gashes in my forearm. I lately closely inspected the Belt formation’s charms. A talus slope, a faulty set of my black Diamond pole. It sank a foot and I went down my head, not in a hole. But on a rock, ‘twas quite a sock, but I didn’t come up bleeding; at least… Read more →

Side Trips From Cowboy, by Sandy Compton

Regarding Surrendering: Step One

Surrender begins with Step One. When we admit our helplessness, even for a moment, we are letting go. We are surrendering something we may know not what, but it is imperative that we do. Here is an excerpt from Side Trips from Cowboy you might find helpful as you move toward surrender. Did you ever get on a carnival ride… Read more →

lewis & clark highway US 12

Winding Road, Next 99 Miles (8 am at Apgar)

I climb out of Montana only to fall into Idaho and a sign appears yellow and black in the late June gloom like a yellow-jacket warning flying by in the dark “Winding Road, Next 99 Miles”   US 12, Lewis and Clark Highway Lolo Pass to Kooskia (leave off the “a”) the longest continuous paved curve in Idaho I look… Read more →

Ranch Report 4.0: Rodentia

Warning: Contains graphic descriptions of violence against rodents. Now that I have your undivided attention . . . The cabin under reconstruction was built in three sections; 1930 (approximately), 1952-53, and 1960, and has been a haven for rodents since the day my grandfather nailed the last shake on the roof in 1930. My sis and I and several others… Read more →

Ranch Report V 3.0

I have been working on “remodeling” the house I grew up in for X number of years. I say “X” — or, more accurately, write “X” — because I have no idea how long I have been remodeling. Let’s just say it has been a long, long time. And for much of that time, I have been removing stuff, which… Read more →

A chapter from “Growing Up Wild”

Author’s note: Growing Up Wild has a book within the book entitled Alex’s Restaurant. This is an excerpt from the book inside the book. Big Dog’s mama didn’t really name him that. She named him after his two grandpappies, Brian O’Shannahan and David Broadwater, but neither name stuck as well as his initials did, because Brian David Broadwater grew up… Read more →

Surviving the Mother of All Overscheduled Weekends . . . and watering trees

Sandpoint, the nominal capitol of the vague state of Montaho was VERY busy last weekend. Hundreds of folks from as far away as Athol — heck, maybe even Spokane — strolled the streets with melting huckleberry ice cream running down their arms, because it was also hotter than a firecracker. I probably shouldn’t even say “firecracker.” We’ve been smelling smoke… Read more →

Photography is one of my great loves

And, some days photography even loves me. I took this picture at Nespelem, Washington, in the Nez Perce Cemetery on the Colville Indian Reservation. The tree is an ancient elm that arches over Chief Joseph’s grave. People have left many gifts hanging in that tree. Notice that the cross is accompanied by a coach’s or referee’s whistle, as well as… Read more →

The Girl Who Needed Glasses

There were four of us who arrived in Russia together; Gerald, Hazel, Eugene and I. We arrived in Moscow as most Americans do, dead tired and unprepared for the seemingly eternal phalanx of forms and uniforms one must pass through to enter the Mother Country. Time is already distorted for someone who has just flown half-way around the world, and… Read more →