Sunday, April 29

Indians and Their Names

I love meeting new people because new names are so interesting to me. After teaching school for near 6 years I've learned to enjoy the creativity of the individual namesake. Never have I enjoyed learning new names as much as I have here in Montana. And there is one reason why.

Montana has quite a few large Indian Reservations. One of these, the Crow Reservation is right outside of Billings. Because of the proximity to the city, we have a large population of Indians in town. Indian names are incredible, they have normal first names, ie: John, Sara, Dorothy, Brian. But their last names are a combination of an adjective and a noun, or they are a phrase of some sort. I have been making mental notes of some of the Indian names that I am hearing around town. My list is partly from the Billings phone directory, as well. Last names only, below.

  • Bad Bear
  • Bad Horse
  • Bearcomesout
  • Bearquiver
  • Big Hair
  • Bigleggins
  • Birdhat
  • Old Elk
  • Oldmouse
  • Left Hand
  • Littlehead
  • Real Bird
  • Runsabove
  • Shoulderblade
  • Spottedelk
  • Stalkingcat
  • Stiffarm
  • Talks Different
  • Hedoesit
  • Headdress
  • Greathouse
  • Good Luck
  • Falls Down
  • Fasthorse

Thursday, April 26

In Case You Thought You Lived in a Small Town

Back in Billings to Catch my Breath

How great is it that for two weeks of this month I tented in the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness Area, tucked away in wild Idaho, with the rest of the Montana Conservation Corps? Sharing cooking responsibilities, sharing a pit toilet, sharing the fresh mountain air (a far walk from the pit toilet), but most importantly sharing a very unique MCC funded training. Technical Training (the official title) was compilation of three training sessions. Each session was taught by a staff of outdoor professionals for a three day period of time. Two regions of the MCC were paired together for each training session, for example: Billings was paired with the MCC Crew Leaders from Kalispell. We traveled through our three sessions with the Kalispell group. It wasn't long before we began to know their favorite lunch choices, their corny jokes, and their interesting life stories. The three sessions that we completed, in the order that we completed them, were: Trail Work, Chainsaw/Crosscut Saw, Backcountry camping/hiking.

Though there were no shower facilities at the campground where we stayed or at the nearest town, we rarely thought about how dirty we were becoming. Each day was a day of hands-on learning, in addition to the honing of skills we are sure to use over the next couple of months. Most nights we could barely stay awake to enjoy the campfire and occasional s'mores. Our exhausted minds and muscles beckoned us to finish the day tucked cozily into our sleeping bags, listening to the sounds of the night.

We made it back to Billings last weekend, enough time to catch our breaths. On Monday the Youth Crew Leaders are headed to Belgrade, MT to enjoy another couple of training sessions on the MCC dollar. These seven days will be spent learning the all important skills of youth supervision, as well as a few days of Wilderness First Aid. Should be another incredible experience. We even get a recreation day on Friday for a trip into Yellowstone National Park. This organization rocks! Who wouldn't want to be involved with the MCC?

Saturday, April 7

A Contractor's Trash is Now My Treasure

I went dumpster diving yesterday afternoon.

It was Good Friday, I had the day off, I was in need of a footprint (ground cloth) for my tent, and I decided that Tyvek was the material that would best suit my needs. Tyvek is the waterproof wrap that contractors put on houses during the framing stage of construction. It is light weight, water resistant, and free (if I'm willing to dig through construction site dumpsters).

It was cold, windy, and just barely snowing, so I bundled up in my carhart work pants and an old sweatshirt and began the search. I knew the west end of town has a growing residential area, so that was my target spot. As I drove to different sites, I realized I had to find a house in the correct stage of building. If the plumbing and electricity were being installed, I was too late, no extra Tyvek. If the siding was going up, I was too late, no Tyvek. Driving slowly, my eyes searched the developments for the perfect house. Unbelievably, it only took three dumpsters, and a few conversations with contractors, before I came home with a FREE piece of Tyvek that I could cut to the exact size I needed. Project accomplished. Check "dumpster diving" off the list!

It doesn't get much better than that!