unicorn quest

Creative writing, bicycling, wild west living, volunteer work, crafts, literature, religion and philosophy, all delivered to you by a 40 year old aspiring writer with Rosanna-Rosannadanna hair and glasses!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Big Sky Posted by Hello

Get out of Town!

The other night I started out on a short after dinner joyride, and decided to just keep going.

Keep in mind the facts that a)my bicycle needs a tune-up badly, b)I was out without tools, a patch kit, water, or money and c)the sun was low on the horizon.

I had just spent 8 hours helping two friends move
from a basement apartment to an upstairs apartment in the same building, which sounds like a piece of cake, but it wasn’t. They are both teachers, and own a ton of books. They are newlyweds, and own a lot of appliances and fancy food serving platters. Last and worst, they inherited some extremely heavy hundred-year-old furniture, worthy of the “Antiques Road Show”.

I have not been really, truly out of town on my bike since two summers ago, when I still had my camping gear, and my partner who knows how to fix things! So, the other night I was taking a real risk, knowing full well I might be hiking miles back to town.
It was worth it.

I rode past the airport, past the RV repair places, one of which my sweetie works at by day, past the BLM offices. Pretty soon the road narrowed to two lanes. One of the roads turned to dirt, and a sign announced “road ends in five miles; no truck turnaround.” I took the other road.

Before long I was back in the enchanted land of rolling green hills, tumbledown wooden barns, and cows. Every half hour or so I’d see a pickup truck, but other than that, there was no traffic. The downhill climbs were steep enough to propel me to the tops of the next hills.

I got off the bike for a moment and looked back. I could see Butte in the distance, like the Emerald City, and a toy plane landing. Seeing Butte tiny and off in the distance made me happy.

I came to a crossroad sign which warned “school bus stop ahead.” The sun was beginning to set, and it was time for me to turn around. Of course my gears locked up on a down hill, and I had to pop the chain back into place, leaving me with black grease all over my fingers.

It was wonderful to get a taste of the open road again!

Friday, June 17, 2005

I shot this bullet box! Posted by Hello

Sure as Shootin'

I haven’t shot any kind of a gun since I was 12 years old or thereabouts. I used to enjoy archery, bb guns, and pellet guns. My sister Val and I used to love target practice at camp, and in the backyard of our elderly friend Dewey. He was kind of like a surrogate grandpa, and would let us do target practice, as well as goof around in his garage/shop, where he tumbled rocks and let us loose amongst all kinds of fun saws, hammers, clamps, and other tools.

So, try to imagine how I felt when my new guy-friend Adrian suggested we go target shooting at the range behind Montana Tech! He had just taken a hunter’s gun safety refresher course, so he made a perfect teacher for me, in how to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, keep the safety on until you are ready to shoot, and so on.

The hard part for me was learning how to use the scope. I’d never used one before. I found you have to have your eye in just the right place, or it looks dark, like a telescope that is not aimed at the stars correctly.

But once I got the hang of it, look out! My old skills came right back like riding a bicycle, and soon I was hitting cans and bottles from 20 yards away.

Adrian’s comment: “Good shooting Tex. What are you doing for hunting season?”

My reaction: “Hunting season?!?” You see, I used to be a vegetarian and a Buddhist, and while I am now semi-Christian and eating meat again, the thought of shooting Bambi’s mother, not to mention darling little gophers that look just like the pet hamsters I used to have sends an arrow of horror down my spine.

On the other hand. . .this IS Montana–everyone hunts. I have eaten plenty of wild game since I got here (even since I hit Idaho 2 ½ years ago). People manage to sneak deer or elk or moose meat into everything from burgers to spaghetti sauce to burritos. Yes, my first night in Idaho I was chomping on a burrito up near the Seven Devils wilderness area, listening to faraway wolf howls, and thinking–hmm, this beef tastes kind of strange. It was deer, of course.

I felt a little flare of pride–I haven’t lost my eye–and can’t help wondering what it would be like to bring down a deer, and have meat for the rest of the winter, that I’d bagged for myself. Meat does come from somewhere, after all, and someone does have to kill it.

On a side note, my friend Christina keeps threatening to bring me to her relatives’ ranch in Dillon to participate in a cattle branding.

I think Montana is starting to rub off on me, and rub away some of the “city slicker.”

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Adam Graduates--a near-miracle! Posted by Hello

Cheers for the Grads

High School Graduation hasn't changed a bit since I walked down the aisle, many moons ago.

I went to a friend's last night, held in the local civic center. After processing to their seats, decked out in bright purple caps and gowns, the kids began to throw brightly colored super balls up into the air, giving the whole proceedings the flavor of a rock concert. Teachers, impressive in suits, patrolled up and down the aisles shaking threatening fingers--but what could they do??? Give it up. Those kids are out of here! As Alice Cooper once said, "school's out for the summer--school's out forever!"

When I graduated, we baked on bleachers in a field out in the 90 degree sun, and blew bubbles.

My friend Clarisse said when she graduated about 40 years ago, they threw paper airplanes.

As the grads were about to walk across the stage, the principal made a little speech asking everyone to refrain from shouting, cheering, blowing air horns after people's names were called. He might as well have saved his breath.

There were more air horns than at a parade or sporting event. Half the town was in there, shouting themselves raw, some of them cheering in sections, or just tooting horns continuously during the whole ceremony.

And then that breathtaking moment, like hot air balloons bobbling into flight, when the kids swept off their caps and sent them airborn. The mad scramble to hug and to find the parents and friends, who, bearing flowers and cameras, came surging out of the stands.

Nope, hasn't changed one bit.