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Stir Crazy

Will I succumb to cabin fever and go stir crazy inflicting my husband with all manner of diatribes about unfeeling fascists and greedy grifters? It's been snowing on and off since last Thursday. Most of the time I could make it into town except last Saturday when it was too icy to travel the 3 miles in to town (Yes, I'm lucky. Some of my friends must drive up to 20 miles to town). That day they closed the interstate from here to Columbus, MT which is about 37 miles. Friday night the snow and ice got serious, but the town was packed. Our monthly art show at our artists cooperative gallery was on as well as a benefit Italian dinner at The Homestead B & B. The town was also still crawling with hunters. Friend Phyllis said that it was treacherously slick coming from up the Boulder (the river valley where they shot "The River Runs Through It" and "The Horse Whisperer"), but if she said, "If I let a little bad weather stop me, I'd never leave the house and have no social life at all." She had very fashionable high heeled boots on for the art show, but confessed she had her heavy duty boots in the car for the drive home. My friends Dave and Omi drove from Livingston (35 miles away) for the prime rib at The Grand, but he's a Teamster. They laugh at ice and snow. Besides, there was no wind.

Monday I made it to Bozeman which is about 67 miles away to have stitches taken out of my pulled tooth and to stock up on Thanksgiving supplies such as a turkey and a fennel bulb. One lane of the Interstate was clear except for a rough patch around Livingston. And there was no wind.

But Tuesday, the snow began again and so did the wind. That's when the scary whiteouts start. I grew up near snowy, windy Chicago. I went to college in Michigan and battled lake effect snow. I lived through 15 years of bone chilling winters in New York City where my car once was completely buried under yards of snow and people were cross country skiing down Columbus Avenue. But these whiteouts here are more frightening than the blizzards of wet snow in the Midwest and East. A truck passing can render you completely blind. Even without a passing truck, there is this sickening feeling as you begin to lose your sense of up and down. Even at the ranch you aren't safe. The tales of a rancher getting lost between the barn and the house and freezing to death makes staying inside a really smart thing to do. It can be a very strange experience when there are stars in the night sky or the sun shining bright, but still you are in what is called "a ground blizzard" which makes everything white except for the sky.

When the wind begins it blows the snow into huge drifts across the entrance to the ranch. Even our diesel flatbed truck won't make it through the drifts. So we hunker down. But we do have two freezers filled with beef and two refrigerators , one filled with beer and soda. We will make it to Friday when it will warm up. We are lucky to have food and a warm place to weather the storm. Others are not so fortunate. And I worry and worry for them. And I wonder why we have become an unfeeling country that doesn't talk about poverty and hasn't made homelessness and hunger against the law. We have enough homes for everybody. We have enough food for everybody. So why are some people hoarding all the stuff? Uh, oh... I feel a diatribe coming on.

UPDATE: Thanksgiving day after a night of howling or more like a mighty roaring wind all night long. It sounded like a train was running past the house and what I would imagine being out in "The Perfect Storm" might sound like. On waking it was a balmy 2 degrees and rising, but the winds were blowing at over 40 miles and hour. Here is the weather alert for our stretch of Interstate 90 which looks like we have the worst part of the storm. Not unusual. This is the windiest place I've ever lived. It makes you a little nutty or more nutty, in my case.

IMPACTS: LOCAL WHITEOUT CONDITIONS HAVE BEEN REPORTED ALONG INTERSTATE 90 FROM LIVINGSTON TO BIG TIMBER THIS MORNING. THERE HAVE BEEN NUMEROUS REPORTS OF STRANDED MOTORISTS. SIMILAR CONDITIONS ARE BEING REPORTED IN THE NYE AND FISHTAIL VICINITY IN THE BEARTOOTH FOOTHILLS. LOCAL VISIBILITY TO NEAR ZERO AT TIMES AND SIGNIFICANT BLOWING AND DRIFTING WILL CONTINUE TODAY IN THESE AREAS. HOLIDAY TRAVELERS ARE URGED TO USE EXTREME CAUTION OR AVOID THESE AREAS. AREAS AFFECTED INCLUDE INTERSTATE 90 FROM LIVINGSTON TO BIG TIMBER... HIGHWAY 191 FROM BIG TIMBER TO HARLOWTON... AND COUNTRY ROADWAYS ALONG THE FOOTHILLS OF THE BEARTOOTH MOUNTAINS.* WINDS: WEST WINDS OF 35 TO 45 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 65 MPH WILL BE FOUND ACROSS THESE AREAS TODAY.

(Cross posted at

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Submitted by MontanaMaven on

other local amenities? A commenter on my website said that the town she lives in has ceased to plow on weekends because of lack of money.

One of my neighbors was to have 20 over for dinner and had to cancel because of frozen pipes. Drifts of over 4 ft on the Interstate kept people at home. Many of my neighbors spent the morning trying to feed their cows up on winter pasture. Our cows are cold, but the wind blew the snow away and so they finally can get to the grass that has been under snow for days.

I'll be glad when the howling stops.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

amazing report of your on the ground conditions.

I can't do much to help, except offer company. And, whereas what you say about "your diatribe coming on" certainly resonates, perhaps I can turn your mind to another matter, given what I assume is your expertise, or one of many. My comment is linked below. What do you think? (celebrity movie stars)

http://www.correntewire.com/%E2%80%9Cpul...

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Thanks for the dose of reality. Didn't remember that you went to school in Michigan. I spent 5 years in East Lansing. Pretty, windy there too. Coldest place I've ever lived. Colder than New York City, where I'm from. Colder than Ithaca, NY where I went to school, colder than Buffalo, where I lived from 1965 -71, and colder than Binghamton, where I lived from 1971-75.

Since then I've lived in the DC area, which always seemed warm to me, even on those rare occasions when we get 2 feet of snow, here.

Sorry to hear you're going stir crazy out there; but I guess it will be beautiful when the snow and wind stops.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

So I much prefer Montana's dry cold. Besides, if I have to go outside, I dress for it. I don't have to stand on a NYC subway platform in panty hose and high heels. Here I can wear Carhart overalls and big furry hats. If I could figure out how to post a picture here, I'd show you.

Yes, I went to U of M in Ann Arbor. Wet cold is the worst. I won't go back. At least in NYC, you could duck into a store and get warm.

Submitted by lambert on

... can assist MM? I can explain, but it's good to have redundant functionality. It's really not hard, it's like a more powerful form of punctuation...

Meanwhile, I'm astonished. Up here in Maine, we're supposed to have winter, but nothing like what you're describing....

Submitted by lambert on

... It's bad if I'm the only person who can explain things, because if I get hit by a bus, there's no other support.

So, you, er, guys put images in the Plantidotes all the time; you know how to do it. So maybe you can explain to MM... We could even put a permanent link to it, if it were a post....

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

The huge chinook that blew in yesterday was fierce. It blew most of the snow away. 8 to 10 inches gone in fury of blasting wind that pounded all day long.

A chinook is a warm wind from the South/Southwest. Because our snow is so powdery, it blows away. I always wondered where it goes. Probably Fargo.

Charlie Russell, the great Montana painter, painted the famous "Waiting for the Chinook". It was the terrible winter of 1886-1887 when the chinook did not come and 362,000 head of cattle died in the snow and blizzards. After that, ranchers raised hay to feed in case of another bad winter.

Submitted by lambert on

... if you can get a YT in, you can get an IMG in. The principle is exactly the same, although the syntax is a bit different. Basically, if you can punctuate, you can do this...

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Submitted by Valley Girl on

MM- were you trying to download image directly from your own computer?

Lambert can say otherwise, but I don't think it's possible to post photos here that aren't already hosted on another site- fickr, photobucket, blogger, etc.

That's what I've always ended up doing. I use flickr and photobucket, Lambert flickr, twig flickr, Hipp photobucket (my detective work)....