Americana: The Lewis & Clark County Fair

31964750642_320caffabb_c31271778064_9db3a18982_c31271777254_942025f734_c

I insisted that Logan come to the fair with me. The fair is a microcosm of American culture: It’s big, colorful, gluttonous, loud, and silly. Children can shoot fake enormous guns that look scarily real from rough looking carnival employees. One can buy deep fried Oreos in large quantities and people watch. Rodeo visitors dress up in their best cowboy boots, hats, and belts. Men with large stomachs wear their largest belt buckles. The exhibition hall houses goats, rabbits, chickens, cows, and sheep, all for purchase or viewing.

Old people walk past children’s carnival rides decorated with busty women, hyper sexualized characters in skimpy outfits. Everywhere there is inescapable mud and dirt, in sharp contrast to the shiny neon and the lights. Food trucks line the parking lot, and one can devour anything from pork chop sandwiches to roasted corn to funnel cakes.

And I found a roll of 35mm film in a film shop in Bozeman that I hadn’t picked up, scanned in the negatives, and found all of this waiting for me. What an odd, marvelous late gift to myself.

31271777664_ba07b6d52a_c31964751002_e4d9699485_c31964750452_e683a82839_c

New Year’s Eve with Detta and the 45’s

24133790236_215e9155b4_b23531657734_e7f85309c9_b23864183180_ffcb686beb_b24077211121_2a6abc6c8d_b23864235050_4c76ccd241_b24159910715_20737149fd_b23531717454_70b5cb2a05_b23531599964_3e7fc32498_b23791979449_e9bc04382f_b24051872552_26787e98f6_b23533095813_195bc30372_b24159846945_1b84549566_b23533031763_a8a095d9ff_b24159802095_4b58ab641e_b

My friends make music and occasionally they do so in public. When they do, I bring a camera and document.

It’s hard to make words. I’m headed back to Victoria and missing them all already. My flight’s been delayed and I am trying to start on reading for school, but blogging seems to lift my spirits more.

Friends and family all gathered at the bar to watch these guys play. Everybody was excited, and for some reason it seemed that every girl was wearing lipstick, which I loved. We were all in a good mood, and I was hopeful that the camera’s battery would last long enough for me to photograph my friends well (in the end I made a total of 693 photographs- good job, Canon!).

My beautiful friends played with an energy that enveloped their loved ones. We watched them smile and jam and have fun and fed on that energy. It was almost a new year, and ending 2015 with people you truly care about is always worthwhile.

New format and lovely memories

Hello lovely readers! I’ve been ignoring this blog. I’ve been really into cleaner designs and I realized that instead of looking to make a new site when I had loved this one for so long I could literally just find a new theme. 10 minutes later, BOOM! It was done. Without an actual boom sound, of course.

What did I do today? I ate lots of candy. I chopped wood with a hatchet in a cashmere sweater. I took pictures and had a milkshake. I sat in front of a fireplace. I ate pie. It was glorious. I also spent time with a warm sleepy Labrador and my lovely famiglia.

However, since I’m a slave to film (i.e. haven’t invested in a good DSLR/have no money/when I have money it goes to rent and food not cameras), any pictures of pie or candy or whatever else I took pictures of will have to wait. For at least a week. CVS swears they can get it to me in a week. Hmmm….

So, here are pictures of what winter in Montana look like on bitterly cold mornings in backyards and front yards and around town. Things are covered in frost, a frozen sort of fog blankets the valleys, and your world becomes a little more beautiful and brittle. These are from 2010 when I was home from Switzerland for a month. My mother had recently given me her Olympus OM-20 with an f/1.8 lens and I think I made some lovely images.

Film

001_24 002_23 004_21 013_12 013_12A 015_10 016_10 022_4 023_3I went to Yellowstone and saw an enormous smoke plume.

We ate cheeseburgers.

I like running my hands over old glass bottles.

A weekend in Pburg of being lost, more lost, and sleeping and eating pie and being with awesome people.

And other lovely life things.

I’m sorry I am not more descriptive. I’ve been devouring books and living and making cake and terrible cookies and trying to not succumb to the ease of making Ramen every night.

 

What I’ve been up to

004_16A 005_15A 010_10A 018_2A 019_1A 006_20 013_13 019_7 002_23A 006_19A 007_18A 012_12A 015_9A 021_3AEating. Dipping toes into minnow rich lakes. Feeling my mouth on fire. My skin turn pink. My freckles turn darker and more numerous. I dance in underground venues and play horrible rounds of pool. Sunlight and sprinklers and woodpiles. Summer has been almost sublime in that I can’t really remember one weekend to the next. I drive a lot of mountain roads, static on the radio and my own voice to keep me company. I greet sunsets and sunrises and put quarters in a juke box and chose the Stones and dance with friends in a high ceiling-ed place. I fall asleep to Star Trek in a comfortable bed and feel the breeze cool my skin. I feel content and it is something almost unnatural.

Pre-departure

001_31A 004_28A 006_26A 007_25A 008_24A 009_23A 010_22A 011_21A 012_20A 013_19A 014_18AJulia and I wore our typical dresses to the typically un-feminine Stockyard.

I attended a magazine launch party in heels armed with a notebook trying to take down quotes from attendees. Found an abandoned beer in the elevator to the party. Admired the string lights, live art, and the typewriter that people were free to use.

I also drove around Bozeman itching for spring to finally stop tempting me and flood everything with live, greenery and sunshine.

 

Welcome to another year!

Yesterday we hopped into Chelsea’s monstrous truck and drove over the pass to Missoula to bring in the New Year.

After a horribly salty pizza, we readied (read: don pretty dresses) and headed out, first going to an Irish bar where whiskey was consumed. We went in and out of the bar all evening, coming back an hour before the New Year to have an old-fashioned laced with bourbon and drink free champagne and celebrate.

The New Year was brought in with cheers to strangers, cold biting Montana winter, and later dancing until the bar closed at 2, then heading slowly home, surrounded by other celebrators. We woke up and went to the Catalyst, a wonderful and sleek breakfasting place- I had a delicious bread pudding with bacon and eggs. Afterwards I indulged in the most gorgeous green sweater, on ultra-mega-ultra clearance, and then Chelsea and I headed home.

The new year has been uneventful thus far, but I am itching for adventures. I want to hop on a plane and go anywhere it will take me.

By the way, this roll went through my camera twice accidentally, thusly there are landscapes, paintings, and other things going on behind the images besides celebrating.

This morning, and other observations.

001_24A 002_23A 003_22A 004_21AI walked my co-worker’s dog at a way too early hour this morning- I was out until 2 am last night, and surrounded by way too many people I never wanted to see again. My only comfort came in the form of a few greyhounds.

This morning, the inversion in town made everything look misty. The light was gorgeous and glowing. Unfortunately for some reason my SLR camera decided to not give me the crisp focus I desperately wanted. I crunched through the snow and finished the roll of film, and enjoyed my time alone. I didn’t see a soul for the whole hour I spent tramping around, and that sort of total isolation was oddly serene.

I then spent the day reading in the Starbucks- I’m currently reading The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro- it’s riveting, and as an Art History major I love the spin of history with fiction, and how the author describes forging a painting and the intricacies of art (plus NPR recommended it).  I’m also reading Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut- I attempted to read his things this summer but didn’t commit enough, and I feel less flighty now. Another novel I’m currently perusing, Priceless by Marne Davis Kellogg, describes the world of an anti-heroine jewel thief in rich, visual detail.

Afterwards, I thrifted a vintage scalloped-mink-fur collared black silk cardigan, an extraordinary find that I was surprised by. I almost thrifted a gorgeous strapless blue and white lace party dress but it was floor length and reeked of a Cinderella-y vibe to the point that I wondered if it came with white gloves. I’ll be damned if it didn’t make my neck look longer and my pale shoulders nice, though.

A quiet source of inspiration.

I forget that there’s a mountain in the middle of my home town. It sits in a corner of the city, rather rotund, not ominous in the least- just there. Mount Helena is an omnipresent part of the landscape, a token rise in elevation, a constant in my view of the city. Apparently, it has so much presence I take it for granted and forget to reconnect.

While I spent a good deal of the summer running on the lower trails, many of them unmarked social trails, I had not actually made it to the top of Mount Helena in years. Literally. I can count the number of times I’ve made it to the top on one of my hands. Feel free to send me mental waves of shame.

Well, it just increased by one more. After a casual suggestion that I didn’t take seriously enough, AK and I set off walking towards the mountain, through downtown, past locked doors and dark stores. While he was wearing entirely appropriate clothing- Goretex shoes with treads, waterproof gloves, two layers of practical jackets, and pants- I wore leather boots with no treads, a red wool pea coat (another possible post- why is it called a pea coat?!), cashmere/wool gloves with a few holes and no waterproofing capabilities, and a leather bag to hold my camera. I looked, quite frankly, like a moron. Or somebody from out of town. (To be fair, I hadn’t packed boots, actual pants, gloves, or any sort of practical coat for the weekend.)

I went first. It was probably best- I didn’t have to match a pace, but was rather able to set it. A hobbled pace, to be sure- the boots were very good at keeping away water, but terrible at making me feel like I could stand up and stay on the trail. I slipped, slid, and had to engage in all manner of balancing moves that made me feel more like an amateur trapeze artist than a walker of mountain trails. (Note to self: Toss hiking boots in the car, you may need them in the future). I led us down a trail that was entirely erroneous (my apologies!) for a bit, too, to add to the utter ridiculousness.

The top was rocky and icy. A 360 degree vista of trees, valleys, faraway hills and mountains made my breath catch in my throat for a few moments. I have resented this landscape, felt violated by the isolation, and have loathed Helena as a backwater town of little to offer. Little by little I forgive this town, realizing that these feelings of hate are ill-placed. When I can see for miles on the top of a long-neglected mountain with a worthwhile human being and breath the crisp air and feel more vital than I have in a long time, things are clarified, life is simplified, and my caustic feelings turn less acidic.

As we descended, AK led us through drifts where the wind erased the trail for some yards, led us back down the mountain, and occasionally turned around to wait for me when my shrieks and curses for fear of falling grew too common. In the end, we hopped a fence and got hot food, a good afternoon spent outside in my own little-traveled backyard.

Here’s the path we walked, courtesy of AK’s smart phone:  https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=208866538666354606641.0004ce418d59a12300060

A walk in the woods (ish)

Going for a cool afternoon walk in some “woods” nearby, with muted colors, hushed noise, and cottonwood leaves littering the ground might be one of the best things ever. Waking up from a lovely nap and then doing that is even better.

Fall returned for an afternoon. The  cool breeze was enough to make my skin feel slightly flushed. The oranges and yellows against the grays and browns, the murmur of water, and the whispers of trees gave way to a feeling of contentedness. Winter released its vice-like grip for a short while, and we walked, savoring the last shreds of a too-short season here in Montana.

My town

Two weeks ago I drove home on a Thursday evening, watching the sunset at 70 mph (alright, I might have been speeding a bit, we’ll say 75-ish) on the highway. I spent the evening with loved ones and retired in a new, and yet old, location, and woke up feeling excited where I was for once.

In a way, I’ve finally begun to appreciate Helena. When you grow up in a town where you see at least one person you know in the grocery store, Target, and everywhere else, it can feel like a cage, a terrible backwash of memories and growing up that you don’t want to relive. It was in this town that I went through my awkward adolescence, where death happened a mile from my house, where too many nights with nothing to do rested on my mind. It saw me at my worst, and sometimes I feel like it hasn’t seen me at my best.

My best is when I’m on a night train or when I’m wandering in a new city. My best is when I’m trying something I can’t pronounce in a new restaurant, or when I’m being challenged by a new experience. Helena isn’t exactly a hotbed of such challenges, and thusly I often feel slightly lobotomized when I am in the midst of this town. This last year, though, Helena has become a bit brighter. I’ve discovered new little things about it, new haunts and places to wander. It now feels more comfortable than hostile, more easy than reluctant.

Fleeting adventures, among other things

Perhaps my favorite thing about this weekend was the trip to Costco…AK had never been to one, and although towards the end we were both exasperated by the sheer number of people and their lack of skill at wielding carts, there was a certain frivolity in buying food in bulk for just two people and sampling everything from hot chocolate to corn dogs.

This weekend included a lot of sleeping, which is something I need to do more. A hay bale maze near a graveyard was explored and quickly conquered, although we had to battle the ridiculous number of youngins that clogged the narrow aisles (is that what they would be called in a maze?). We made it out alive- my fashion boots covered in hay dust and the night’s darkness really settling in. The rest of the weekend was a mix of cloudy days, some rain, and a ridiculous number of movies, some quite fantastic.

I hope your weekend was as oddly satisfactory as mine.

I don’t open wine bottles and other weekend things.

I got my roll of film developed and felt quite…disappointed. I stupidly carried around the Minolta instead of lugging the much better Olympus, and the pictures obviously suffer because of it. Next time, Olympus, I shall haul thy heavy body around!

Note to self: Ease of photographing doesn’t always translate into photographs that you like.

My parents are living in a new apartment since our house sold, and it’s tiny and quite beautiful. Also very centrally located to downtown, which I greatly enjoy! Being only a few blocks from a creperie, taco place, Thai food, a confectionery, and a half dozen or so drinking establishments, as well as all of the town’s hiking and walking trails, is pretty glorious!  Helena’s food scene is rather sad but at least we can get to the better parts of it. I walked a lot as a result of the new geography, and even tried running- which went horribly and ended with me having the sorest quads I have had in months. Since June, probably. To be fair the first 2.5 miles were fine but after that it just spiraled into horrendous form and breathing that sounded more akin to an emphysemic individual.

Now I am back in Bozeman. Today wasn’t nearly as monotonous as I expected- I won a photography contest with an antiquated shot from Glacier back in 2010, and so got $50, and then went to get delicious food with my sister after nearly napping in Baroque. Oops!