Tag Archives: Montana

The Curious Case of the Can of Buttons [Stories]

il_fullxfull_366295235_b0w0The coffee can gleamed dully in the corner of the closet. Above it were family treasures. Below were the litre bottles of Jack Daniels, Smirnoff, Beefeater. On either side were jars filled with wheat pennies, dimes minted before 1965, international coinage. The can was more interesting, filled to the brim with buttons.

Dad harvested buttons from everything, like his mother before him, saved for a day (you never know when) a button might be needed. I can’t recall a single flyaway button incident the entire time Grandma lived with us. The little ones wore zippers and elastic and Grandma preventatively reinforced the buttons on everyone else’s clothes. Flyaway buttons? That’d never happen, not on her watch.

Clothes failed before the buttons did and when they did, Grandma would snip the buttons off for later use. She died in 1989, and Dad took up her habit. There’s a Frog and Toad story about a lost button. Toad’s lost his and Frog scours high and low for one to match. Why didn’t Frog ever call my dad? We had buttons to spare. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 5, 2013 in auto-biographical


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No Regrets

There’s one thing I’m pretty sure of. I am mother of two, wife to one, sister to many because my parents’ 1977 Lincoln Continental Towncar broke down in Podunk, MT in May of 1988. 

In 1985 my brother graduated high school. Less than a year later my grandmother died. I hope I find the hook to write about her because she’s a person worthy of her own post. But the point here is that Raoul graduating and Annalise dying freed my parents to relocate. Fewer entanglements and, let’s face it: from a middle-class perspective, Annalise’s death meant that we were now kinda sorta rich. Dad wanted to move to Colorado.

Colorado was Dad’s heartland. Twenty-five years earlier he had briefly worked there as a deejay for a local radio station and he’d remembered it fondly since. Mother may have fed me milk but Dad fed me dreams of living in a mountain paradise where the summers were cool and the winters were quilted in snow. We would watch “Sound of Music” with Grandma Annalise and while she reminisced about Mother Austria, Dad would say “just wait until you see Colorado! It’s just as beautiful as those mountains. We’ll live there someday.”

Someday had arrived. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on August 9, 2011 in auto-biographical


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Being Smart on Independence Day

Independence Day reminds me that I am the smart one.

Just over 21 years ago today, my parents relocated to Montana from our former home nearby Scottsdale, AZ.  To say that it was culture shock is a bit of an understatement but not for any of the reasons one might expect. This was no Brenda Walsh from Beverly Hills 90210 fish-out-of-water experience where I was the cool cat now in a schoolyard of local yokels. Montana was the place where name brand clothes came from Sears and the closest Target was 400 miles away. If there was a divinely created opportunity for a chubby, socially-inept 12-year-old to fit in, Montana was it.

Mother was in a tizzy with the small-town down-homey community events.  They had never allowed us younger ones to go to the state fair, the park, shopping center carnivals, talk to neighbors, or anything similar because they were afraid we’d be kidnapped, molested, or exposed to drugs. But with moving to Montana, that all changed.  Suddenly, Mother was organizing walks after dinner time, visits to the neighbors, and coordinating our attendance at community events including the 4th of July festival at the local historic fort.

This was definitely a subset of society I hadn’t been exposed to before. Not only were there dozens of other families but vendors of elephant ears and cheese fries, and the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism featured jousts and demonstrations in the art of courtly dancing. Smokey the Bear and his ranger handler presented on the dangers of forest fires with the local smokejumpers. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on July 4, 2011 in auto-biographical


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