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heritage: culture, place, and land

issue n o 300 november 2019

jill mackin: a strong current

montana woman m a g a z i n e

we are seekers of history. believers in community. hunters of the original and the unique. lovers of tradition. our purpose is to give one-of-a-kind, authentic and timeless pieces a place to call home. everyone is welcome in this modern day mercantile, our very own american revival.

ScoutandGather scoutandgathermt

Scout + Gather a modern, vintage, home + lifestyle store 28 Scout Lane, Columbia Falls MT

HOURS check our facebook page for current hours or call us at (406) 897-8917

A sense of place. Appreciation and respect for the earth that holds us. An understanding and acknowledgment of culture. Our own personal histories and the histories of those around us.

table of contents BUSINESS |


AGING IN PL ACE Keller Williams & My Glacier Village



STATION 8: ALYSON DORR Living your heritage





STILL WATERS RUN DEEP Dana Berardinis: Forgotten Lands


THE WRIGHT WAY The fabric of the Flathead



FRONT PAIGE BAKES Cranberry roasted brussel sprouts


HERITAGE Alice’s blue ribbon apple pie

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WILDERNESSES Coming to the US from Germany in 1914


INTERWOVEN A poem of home


COMING HOME Your past does not have to be your present


STITCH YOUR WAY HOME A love letter to my grandmother’s thimble


A WOMAN REINVENTED The passing down



THE 10 ESSENTIALS A foundation for the outdoors


BUCKAROO BABES A women’s pack trip through the Bob Marshall



LEVITATION NATION Intermittent fasting


WHAT IS PL ANETREE? North Valley Hospital’s planetree philosophy


KALISPELL REGIONAL Creating moments of connection

montana woman

OWNER & EDITOR megan crawford

CREATIVE DIRECTOR megan crawford

This magazine has been in publication since 1994 and is a resource for women throughout the state of Montana. Montana Woman is a platform. It’s built by women, for women. It’s a place to celebrate our achievements, a place to support each other, a place to acknowledge the resilience of the women of this state. It doesn’t necessarily matter where you’re from, you’re here now. In all of your loudness, your boldness, your fearlessness— you are here. We’re here, together.

We publish a statewide magazine every month that features women across Montana— the movers and shakers, the go-getters, the rule-breakers, the risktakers. We all have a story to tell.

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BUSINESS MANAGER carrie crawford

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All contents © 2019 Montana Woman. The views expressed by the writers are their own and do not reflect the opinions of Montana Woman Magazine.


from the


November has an immense amount of forgotten and neglected history. Most of us were taught about the “first Thanksgiving” in elementary school, but the actual history is commonly swept under the rug. By solely going the route of turkey dinners and posts about being thankful, we’re ignoring so many cultures and their histories. We can do better. We can take the time to learn and re-learn, to listen. We can acknowledge that November has been a one-sided month. Its history has been altered to be comfortable for us. Take the time to get to know the people around you. Learn about the land you live on— the mountains, plains, and rivers that you love. The wild brush that grows up the hillside, the birds that sing in the morning. Be aware of where you live— physically and culturally. Some of us aren’t from Montana. We moved here, our ancestors immigrated here. We can be more receptive to people around us and build a longer table. Welcome people to your table. Acknowledge people and cultures outside of your own. We all live in this state, we can do better at living together. So, reach out to a neighbor. Take the time to listen. It can be easy to feel isolated in Montana, but we’re so much closer than we perceive. Even as a nation, from county to county, state to state, we can use our differences as a binding force.

we don’t choose where we’re born we don’t choose in what pocket or form but we can learn to know ourselves on this globe in the void take this mind, take this pen take this dream of a better land take your time, build a home build a place where we all can belong –JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ, "every age"

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behind the cover COVER MUSE jill mackin PHOTOGRAPHER kelsey weyerbacher ARTWORK kelsey weyerbacher LOCATION bozeman

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Aging in Place



ne of the biggest trends in housing is the challenges that baby boomers are facing, as this very large demographic is aging. We real estate agents are always asking folks what the five must-have features are in a property during our buyer consultation. It’s so important to make sure that a property is a fit for the client. However, I’m learning that when helping seniors, there are a lot more questions to ask, and it is imperative to think things through. I’ll give you an example: some of my agents have worked for some seniors this year. Most of them were selling their houses to move into assisted living facilities. Comments my agents mentioned to me, or the advice they were looking for, had me concerned for our clients. The reality is that as we age, sometimes our resources become scarce. Maybe we don’t have friends to rely on to help out anymore, or family has moved away, and we don’t want to bother anyone. We don’t reach out to people like we should, and we become lonely. Which, to be honest, loneliness is horrible. Many times the house has severe deferred maintenance or needs to be cleaned up or refreshed. We don’t seek out advice, especially financial and estate planning, so if there is advice to give, many times it’s too late. For example, there are Medicaid/Medicare rules that have look-back provisions, so if you sell your house, you can’t gift money away. The problem is that this scenario is absolutely rampant, even in our lovely community of Northwest Montana. Aging in place means staying in your own home as you age— it means planning ahead so you’re prepared for the challenges that aging can bring.  When it comes to your home, key things to consider are layout, maintenance, and location: 1. Is there at least one bed and one full bath on the main floor? 2. Consider the size of your home and yard.  Will


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it be manageable as you age? Will you have it in the budget to hire help in the event of an injury or accident or if it just becomes too much?   3. How close are you to facilities and services?   4. Costs: once you retire (if you haven’t already) and you’re on a fixed income, have you prepared financially for extensive maintenance and repairs? Roofing, siding, heating and cooling, and don’t forget about property taxes. As an experienced Realtor/Broker, I can help you with your real estate needs, but aging independently is about more than the roof over your head.  It’s about having a support team that can help you get around if you’re unable to drive or check in on you when you’re down.  It’s about staying active and engaged in your life with people who share your interests.  It’s about pitching in and helping others in need.  It’s about community. That’s where My Glacier Village can help; a nonprofit organization co-founded by my friend, Jenn Prunty. Villages all across the country are making it possible for older adults to stay in control of their lives as they age, and stay connected to their neighbors and communities.     Jenn is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist through the National Association of Homebuilders. She is not only my friend— she ran my company as a Team Leader for Keller Williams Realty Northwest Montana (KW) from 2013 to 2017 and was largely responsible for the massive growth of our company during that time. Jenn left our team following personal experiences that brought to light the challenges that aging can bring and how little we are doing about it as a society. She learned about the Village Movement that began in Boston in 2001 and has committed to bringing a chapter here to the Flathead.   I am very proud to be a My Glacier Village sponsor, and I look forward to assisting My Glacier Village in educating our community about the unique challenges older adults face when planning where they will age. Together, My Glacier Village and Keller Williams Realty is a powerful resource for seniors, and those helping seniors with life and lifestyle choices in Northwest Montana. If you would like more information about My Glacier Village, please contact Jenn Prunty at 406871-3988 or Chris Fraser, Broker with Keller Williams Realty Northwest Montana, can be reached at 406-471-6750 or

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living our heritage






eritage, in my business, often refers to a piece of furniture or something of value that has been passed down through generations. Here in Montana, we tend to take pride in more than just the “things” we’ve inherited. We place more importance on the values and way of life we’ve inherited. As many of you know, I’m blessed to have several amazing vendors that make up the “shops” in The Shops at Station 8. When I began to reflect on the meaning of heritage for this article, one of my amazing vendors came to mind: Alyson Dorr. She’s a fourth-generation farmer, and she inherited the work ethic and appreciation of the land she lives on from her parents and grandparents. Dorr and her husband are also instilling those values in their two daughters as they raise them on her family’s farm. Dorr’s heritage manifests in her shop, Red Barn Design. She blends a “fresh from the farm” appeal by combining beautiful found pieces with new farmhouse-inspired items. Dorr also sells peppermint oil and honey harvested from her family farm. Alongside her space at the shop, this hard-working woman also runs a vacation rental, The Red Barn. It’s a beautifully curated loft space located at the farm, just east of Columbia Falls and 15 minutes from Glacier National Park. She also keeps up with her active girls and helps out with the farming. If all of that wasn’t enough, last fall, she was asked to be a contributor for this year’s holiday issue of Where Women Cook, which hit the newsstands on October 1st! If you haven’t picked one up already, you can get them here at the shop. She was also recently featured in a podcast by Rural Revival, a creative syndicate that’s celebrating and showcasing America’s small towns. Dorr was featured on episode 65 if you’d like to listen! “I have always been a creative. It’s part of the fabric of who I am— whether it’s experimenting in the kitchen, painting a canvas, pulling together a fabulous event, or decorating and organizing a space. I’ve always been inclined to bring beauty and purpose to the things around me. Of course, growing up on a farm in the mountains of Montana certainly offered plenty of inspiration, and I still lean towards spaces that embrace and celebrate the beauty of nature and pastoral living. This is why I tend towards the “farmhouse” style— it embraces not only my heritage as a farm kid, but the simplicity and hard-working practicality of real-life living.” –Alyson Dorr If you’d like to experience a little piece of the farm lifestyle, come down to the shop and visit Red Barn design. This year, our annual Holiday Open House is on Saturday, November 2nd. So, if you haven’t been down to the shop in a while, be sure to come and see it dressed up for the holidays— it truly is magical! On Behalf of Station 8, Rachel Hopkins owner

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a legacy of connection ARTICLE & IMAGES BY SARAH HARDING


hen my husband and I were newlyweds, I created new holiday traditions that suited our little Montana family. Some folks are very diligent about carrying on their ancestor’s customs. Others, like us, discover their own ways of celebrating. I love the holidays so much, and I needed to find a way to make them work for us. During the darkest days of the year, I crave the celebrations of family, love, and light. I crocheted stockings (big ones!), took a hike in the woods the day after Thanksgiving


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for our little tree (with a permit, of course), and sewed cloth gift bags to be reused every year. Each generation tries on the traditions that have been handed down to them to see if the fit is right. To us, the holidays had become a tradition of financial and ecological wastefulness, a bloated display of convenience and consumerism that we chose to rethink. Holidays are rich with tradition and opportunities to belong, but the overflowing trash cans the morning after Christmas are evidence that it is all too much.


Between Christmas and New Year’s, Americans throw away one million extra tons of garbage (a 25% increase!). Every year, we throw away enough ribbon to wrap around the entire Earth. And this garbage is not benign. The National Environmental Education Foundation states, “When this holiday material is discarded it can be headed to landfills, where, far from making things merry and bright, it undergoes bacterial decomposition, which produces “landfill gas:” a mixture of predominantly greenhouse gases including methane, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. The methane, in particular, makes landfill gas stand out— landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States. Methane, a greenhouse gas with an impact on climate change more than 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, is the secondmost prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activity. Carbon dioxide, the other major ingredient in landfill gas, is the first.” So, #1 on my Holiday to-do list this year is to eliminate waste. I am trying to give up creating trash without giving up any of the fun. For our family dinners, in place of single-use paper or plastic party ware, we use cloth napkins, real plates, silverware, and mason jar glasses. Instead of wrapping paper, we reuse those cloth bags. I save ribbon like a hoarder, and we reuse that each year also. I choose vintage decorations, many of them made by my maternal grandmother. I try to give homemade and second-hand gifts. Is it still a loving gift if it’s not wrapped in pretty paper? Could it be wrapped in a lovely scarf ? Or a vintage reusable box? I don’t have the answers, but I believe we are such creative and resourceful creatures. I know we can come up with something better than the million tons of waste we’re trashing now! The holidays are approaching— that magical time of year when retailers insinuate that joy can be purchased, human connection requires spending money, and belonging means fitting in with this year’s greenwashed trends. Humans crave belonging and significance, so our family’s traditions are centered around connection and creating memories. I think every family member’s favorite tradition is the countdown I created using thrifted and heirloom boxes. Inside each box, I tuck a slip of paper with an activity for the day. Now that the kids are older, we each write suggestions: drink hot cocoa and snuggle, read a favorite Christmas book, call a faraway family member, bake cut cookies. We talk about how much fun the anticipation is, and we talk about that feeling after the presents have all been opened. Connection doesn’t come in a Christmas bag.



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We can make the season merry without filling up our houses with stuff. Keep the holiday spirit, ditch the cruddy gifts and debt. On average, Americans racked up $1,054 in debt last Christmas, according to a survey from MagnifyMoney, a personal finance website. And for what? Landfill fodder? About 50% of Christmas presents end up in the landfill within a year. I have to admit, despite my jolly elf persona, I’m a bit Grinchy about obligatory gifts for adults. In the “old days” when people had much, much less, I could see how gifts were special. But now? How about an experience or activity, a donation to charity, or a consumable product (special foods, drinks, tea or coffee, soaps, bath salts, etc.). Avoid gag gifts, white elephants, hostess gifts, and secret Santas. At best, they are the enemy of Marie Kondo: clutter, and at worst, they are headed for the dump. Consider the resources it took to manufacture, transport, package, and distribute each item. Price should not be our only

consideration! Genuine connection is priceless, and it’s all anybody really wants. Children spell love T-I-M-E, and it’s hard to enjoy extra oneon-one time with them when we’re trying to work more to pay off crushing credit card debt. All I want for Christmas is world peace, global carbon emissions to be cut by 50%, and no more plastic. Plastic is a plague on our planet— 40-year-old plastic washes up on the beach. Scientists find plastic in the deepest part of the ocean. It’s lifespan is many times our own, for the most ridiculous and insignificant consumer items. Think about the items in an average children’s birthday party goody-bag, and the bag itself. Do those plastic items even live in our houses for a month before they end up in the eternal trash? We have to un-yoke ourselves from expectations and start making choices to leave a livable planet for that child. Before we shell out our hard-earned dollars, let’s ask ourselves, “will this item haunt our oceans and landfills forever?” Again, I’m going to call on our big brains to get resourceful and frugal in order to avoid plastics. It is empowering to take control of your buying choices and say enough is enough; I will not buy any more plastic. Despite my efforts and good intentions, I still end up with way too much plastic in my pantry and fridge. Please, share with me the beautiful solutions you and your family have. It’s important to have these conversations without shame, blame, or self-righteousness. Through an examination of ourselves and our past, we get to choose what traditions to keep and pass down. Personally, I want the holidays to be about belonging and significance— a basic human desire. Our culture’s holiday customs have become about convenience and over-consumption. The craze of the season can distract us from the repercussions of our actions. But, in order to leave a livable planet as our legacy, we can start today by examining our buying choices, refusing single-use and eliminating waste, and choosing connection over consumerism— and not just during the holidays. We can buy merchandise, but we cannot buy joy, connection, or a livable climate. We create those together. Caring for the Earth is caring for ourselves.

use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without


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My buying guide for a livable planet: the best thing to buy is nothing at all. The next best is vintage, used, or consumable. Then, something with a very, extremely long life— something you’ll have for the rest of your life, something your family will keep to remember you. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Sarah Harding grew up in North County San Diego. She spent her childhood surfing and loving the ocean. She and her husband, John, moved to Montana when they were 22 and spent the second half of their lives farming and raising a family. Now they’re Coconut at Sea Soap Co.; a family business determined to reduce the amount of plastic in our world. Sarah is a steadfast fan of her husband and two children, who are her absolute first priority. She believes in kindness, resourcefulness, and playful creativity. Sarah and her family live on their tiny homemade farm in Whitefish. For more information on her soap and shampoo bars, visit her website at

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ich and deep seasonal tones, set within the lost details of blurred landscapes, reveal scenes of sublime yet raw experiences in Dana Berardinis’s Forgotten Lands. This robust other-earthly body of work, drawn from memory and experience, was created by the artist over the period two years. The work focuses on the different types of wetland areas in Northwest Montana and their purpose in nature. The project began in a small, frigid wind-torn cabin studio in the woods, where mother nature’s fickle weather patterns predetermined the lengths of artistic dedication, and finally completed later at her backyard studio in the Flathead Lake area of Big Arm, Montana. Berardinis was attracted to the Montana landscape early on in life and has lived most


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of her adult life here after graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Her connection to the land is spiritual and actual, serving as a river guide initially in Tennessee and later in Glacier Park, as well as making her own wine from locally harvested mountain produce, bottled and sold at her Flathead Valley business, D. Berardinis Winery. Her artwork extends from her mindfulness and dependence on the land. Dana has always felt a deep-rooted connection to the earth and concern for its well-being, even as a child growing up in Ohio she sensed a kinship with nature and would often escape to the woody, dark enclaves of the forest. “I was always intrigued and drawn to the swamps as a child. These mysterious areas have always stirred up my imagination. As I got older, I

watched the fields and woods near my home be destroyed and taken over by building and development. This deeply affected me. I wanted to fight against what was happening around me. I used my artwork as a way of dealing with my own emotions as well as projecting the importance of preserving and protecting the landscape. I feel this is my focus and purpose as an artist.” Witnessing the unyielding reality of forest fires in Montana brought Dana to a constant emotional halt yet eventual rebirth. The recurring devastation she confronted yearly sowed, primal sublime feelings of beauty and fear into her creative process, resulting in the charred painted terrains from Passage of Renewal, 2014, an exhibition shown at The Holter Museum of Art and the Missoula Art Museum. Dana’s most recent body of work Dana Berardinis: Forgotten Lands, exhibited at The Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art through January 16, 2020, continues to explore her environmental concerns about the place she calls home, but this time focuses on the precarious existence of Montana’s endangered wetland sanctuaries. “When I first started my wetlands series, I was living in an old cabin on the east shore of Flathead Lake. Before I started this body of work, I had a dream one night that I was trudging through a swampy land in the late evening. That next morning, from memory of the dream, I created Fading Realm. I worked on it in my studio using charcoal and pastel. I knew this was the beginning of my new body of work. The dream left a powerful impact on me. I thought about what the wetlands meant to me and why I would create this new series.” Berardinis meditated on her work, spending long hours walking the Pablo Wildlife Refuge in the Mission Valley or listening to the sounds of frogs, birds, and insects chirping in the Flathead Indian Reservation with the Mission Mountains to the East. Each visit was an opportunity to harvest natural materials, draw, or paint en plein air in the swamps, sloughs, marshes, and meadows she seeks to protect. “I love seeing the marshes and the grasses merge. The more time I spent in the wetlands, the more I became aware of how important they are to the health of the landscape and how fragile these places can be.” Still waters run deep for Berardinis. As a free spirit, owning her soulful connection to the land, she also admits to being a self-proclaimed recluse of sorts, “In a lot of ways, I isolate myself in order to create, I live and work in a place where I am alone and surrounded by this quiet beauty.” The landscapes in Forgotten Lands are forged from these solitary transformative sessions. mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9


Dark and moody moments grow out of the tar like textural suspension visible in the first drawing from her collection, Fading Realm, charcoal and pastel, 2017, but then grace reveals itself in a hopeful and illuminating moment filled with light and color as shown in Vibrant Slough, a large scale oil painting with mixed seeds and grasses on wood, from 2018. The counterbalance of gritty, intense terrains and caustic waters, with sunlit vibrant green marshes, are what make these dramatic artistic impressions relevant to today’s conversations and concerns about climate change, urban development, and endangered wetlands. Changing each time they are observed, much like the environs they reference. At the close of the day, when the sun sets over Montana’s treasured land and waters, Dana hopes her work remains as an example of nature’s beauty, and an artist’s efforts towards wetland conservation. Not as an end record of a once existent place. “I feel it’s important for people who live in an urban environment to become 20

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more aware of how important it is to protect the delicate ecosystems of the wetlands. My hope is that galleries and museums in larger cities will be open to bringing in this body of artwork to help people in cities experience nature and why the wetlands need to be preserved in order to live in a healthy environment.”

The exhibition Dana Berardinis: Forgotten Lands is on exhibit at the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art (The Square) in Great Falls, Montana, showing now through January 16, 2020. Dana will talk about her current work at her exhibition reception on November 8, 2019 at 5:30pm.





This painting is from the Flathead Indian Reservation with the Mission Mountains to the East. Everything here felt so vibrant and full of life. I would spend time with each changing season in order to see all the variations this scene went through. This painting was made in the early fall. I wanted to incorporate into my painting the dried grasses, the leaves from the trees and seed pods from the plant life that exists here. It was a way for me to connect deeper to the work by bringing pieces of the scene into the painting. I wanted to bring attention to this special area that some may pass by without notice. –DANA


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see the art & make the art at the square a contemporary art museum

The Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art (The Square) in Great Falls, Montana has been exhibiting art, teaching art and supporting the development of contemporary art and artists since 1977. Housed in the historic Great Falls High School built in 1896 by Paris Gibson, the founder of Great Falls. The Square is known for its exceptional rotating exhibitions showing local, regional and national contemporary artists, in addition to its outdoor sculpture garden and educational gallery programing. The museum offers outstanding onsite studio classes to the community in ceramics, printmaking, painting, drawing and more!


1400 First Avenue North Great Falls, MT 59401 (406)727-8255


Open Monday-Friday 10am to 5pm, including Tuesday Evenings 5-9pm, and Saturday Noon to 5pm. Closed Sundays and Select Holidays.

free admission!

Exhibitions presented by Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art are supported in part by the Montana Arts Council, a state agency funded by the State Montana and |the mon tanofawoman .com n oNational v emb er Endowment 2 01 9 23 for the Arts. Additional funding is provided by museum members and the citizens of Cascade County, and generous support from Montana Federal Credit Union and D.A. Davidson.


the fabric of the flathead


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n 1976, a new furniture shop opened its doors in the Flathead Valley. While the wood and stone façade has changed over the years, the core of Wright’s Furniture remains the same: satisfy the customer by offering quality pieces and exceptional service. Dick Wright first started this family business off the once-sleepy Highway 93, and since then, Wright’s has become a cornerstone of the valley. Whether you’re a longtime customer or are thinking about stopping by for the first time, you will quickly find that several qualities set Wright’s apart. The entire team takes pride in carrying on the traditions of what Wright’s has become known for: professional service, quality product, great variety, and design, to name a few. As the store manager and interior decorator of Wright’s, I know our team strives to learn from the past and is inspired to continue working hard towards a bright future. Kyle Wright, Dick’s grandson, has recently taken on the responsibility of running the family’s store. When asked about the future, he replied, “I have a vision and a drive for Wright’s Furniture like that of my Grandpa Dick when he first started the business. We plan to use traditions passed down from him and my parents, along with new ideas, advancements, and approaches. A key part of our vision is building a quality team of employees that have a passion for continuing to work hard to keep up with an ever-changing business climate, design styles, and product developments by maintaining a positive workplace culture. A positive workplace culture that creates happiness, increases professionalism, attracts talent, motivates engagement, and raises performance.” No one quite encompasses that strategy as well as Gary Nelson. Gary has worked at Wright’s for over thirty years. He is currently the sales manager and sets an excellent example for all to follow. “It has been great to be part of something that just doesn’t happen very much anymore. To have a company stay in the family for three generations is something special. From the moment Dick Wright first sent me out on the show floor to today, I have always had a clear sense of direction


on the values expected of me,” Gary remarked when asked about his time at Wright’s. Gary’s hard work and that of his coworkers can be seen in all they do. Another ongoing Wright’s tradition is the notion of “Always Something Special.” To achieve that, Wright’s management personally selects all their inventory based on quality, style, value, craftsmanship, and uniqueness. The store receives new product weekly, and the floor sets are updated daily— it never looks the same twice. Updates are done and resources are continuously added so the staff can provide the latest information, trends, and most current products. They are qualified to help you find the perfect piece for your space. The Wright’s team has a lot to be thankful for and is proud of its heritage. Kyle is grateful for the opportunity to grow the family business and build upon the hard work and dedication of the first two generations. He is excited about the future where he can enrich the relationships his father and grandfather established with their clients, manufacturers, and the community.

M O N TA N A’ S C O M P L E T E F U R N I T U R E & D E S I G N R E TA I L E R S I N C E 1 9 76 It’s no accident that Wright’s Furniture in Whitefish has become a favorite destination for home furnishings and accents. Since the first family members opened the business doors in 1976, Wright’s Furniture has focused on providing competitive prices backed by service and highly knowledgeable staff. Now, the third generation of the Wright family is active in the business. Wright’s Furniture provides endless variety, carrying product lines from hundreds of manufacturers, plus specialty furniture, accents, and art from local artisans and craftspeople. With over 60,000 square feet of combined showroom and warehouse space, a vast display area is provided, allowing more floor settings to view in search of design ideas. Prices range from low to high and “Apples to Apples,” Wright’s guarantees the lowest price within 250 miles. To further extend their commitment to satisfaction, Wright’s “Satisfy the Customer” policy is unparalleled, allowing the return of items immediately after delivery if not happy with the selected product. Ready to serve with 25 caring employees, Wright’s Furniture is open 7 days a week. Wright’s offers in-house design services, product specialists, special orders, service repair, and free delivery for trips less than 100 miles round trip. The Wright’s welcome you to stop by at 6325 Highway 93 South in Whitefish and explore their unique and interesting selections as so many people have done for three generations. Wright’s Furniture, Montana’s Complete Furniture and Design Retailer since 1976.

O P E N D A I LY 6 3 2 5 H I G H WAY 9 3 S O U T H , W H I T E F I S H M T 4 0 6 -8 6 2 -245 5 FREE DELIVERY | FREE DESIGN SERVICES



cranberry roasted brussel sprouts

o me, food is like music; it fills your soul, makes you feel loved, brings people together, and dances around your palate. In my family, we cook from the heart. We know a good cookie can turn your frown around. A warm homecooked meal makes you feel loved. Sharing those moments are the connections that we think of when life feels like a lot.

I come from a big, loud Greek family. We always had at least one extra person at dinner, and you never left my YiaYia’s (Greek for grandma) house hungry or without a cake in your hands. You knew you could always be fed far beyond your hunger level. Growing up around family made leaving for college and starting post-graduate life hard. Suddenly, Sundays were sleepy and consisted of a salad in my college apartment and thinking of those loud Sunday dinners that lasted way past the point of bedtime for school on Monday. When my husband and I got married and moved from Bozeman, Montana to Florida, we were even farther away from both of our families. We were in a big kid house, with just the two of us and our dog. November 11th, we got the keys and moved into an empty house with a few boxes and duffle bags. Mostly clothes, silverware, pots and pans, and my husband’s Air Force uniforms. With my husband at training all day, I took to the new house with fury to make it feel like home. Moose, my 9lb rescue pup at my ankles, and I went from room to room to add little to no decor. We only had

paige billings


front paige bakes

what fit in my Subaru to move to Florida with us, and I tried to make a house our home. I started to realize that the biggest thing we were missing was the warm smell of orange, sage, cranberry, and olive oil that made November the most savory month of the year. On November 15th, I had successfully invited every person in Drew’s Air Force class over for Thanksgiving dinner, although we had no table and no chairs. I knew that was next on the list! We had only a handful of friends who weren’t going home for the holiday, and that was all I needed to show Drew and our friends some much-needed family love during this time of year. I am an in-depth planner. I had the desire to emulate my mom’s menu for Thanksgiving this year. Our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, in a big kid house, with our friends, all very very far from home. I started to plan out my menu, and then I called my mom. She walked me through the recipes that she had made up years prior while prepping meals for our big fat Greek family.

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FOOD & SPIRITS | Our menu every year consists of: • Turkey • Cranberry roasted brussel sprouts • Pumpkin & sage muffins • Orange cranberry sauce • Green salad with seasonal delicata squash, sunflower seeds, and more fixins! • Garlic mashed potatoes • Apple & pumpkin pies I made my menu off of my mom’s and headed to the Air Force base grocery store. I filled an entire cart with all my goodies and ran home to prep-out the meal so Thanksgiving day could be spent walking to the beach and eating at least 3 cinnamon rolls each! Cinnamon rolls— that’s a tradition that Drew and I started when we lived in Florida. At least once a month, I would make homemade gluten-free & vegan cinnamon rolls for him and his class. I would prep them the night before and wake up 15 minutes before him to bake them off so they were warm for his friends at school. Those little moments are why I love food so much. Furiously, I peeled potatoes, sliced brussel sprouts, prepped veggies for the salad, and tossed muffins into the oven, with Moose staring at me like I was a crazy woman. I face-timed my mom to make sure I had the right ratio of brussel sprouts to cranberries on the baking sheet. She was also prepping her vegetables for the holiday. I had a moment where the whole world stood still; I felt like I was back in her warm kitchen slicing brussel sprouts with her. That’s what’s so amazing about family. Although we were 2,000 miles apart, we were both performing the same tasks to make our families feel loved through a special meal. Recipes that have been passed down from generation and generation stand the test of time and link us back to times of love and laughter. That Thanksgiving, I had prepared enough food to feed 20 people, and we ended up having just 3 of us and 3 dogs at our holiday dinner. The wine was flowing, we were laughing, and the dogs were sleeping off their ½ pound of turkey dinner.


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My heritage, my family, and my connection with food make me who I am. Those moments in the kitchen that may look like a disaster are why moms, grandmas, and great-grandmas always want you around. Feeling the love of your family in each bite holds a special place in my heart with food. As silly as it may sound, the recipes that were my YiaYia’s and my mom’s are the most special ones in my collection. When I cook them for my friends and husband, I feel their connection to that moment as well. Take a breath, hug your loved ones, and say thank you to the traditions and special moments. Those are what you look back and tie you together many miles apart.

Not one day has gone by that Paige Billings has not believed that cake can solve most problems. After being told she was allergic to gluten, Paige realized she had to modify her cake recipes. Committed to making her cakes just as delicious as before, Paige has combined her passion for baking, design, and photography into her career as a freelance food photographer, freelance copy and photography editor, and recipe developer. Her delicious and beautiful recipes that can be found on her blog, instagram, and in the secret pages of her ongoing cookbook. Paige has lived in many places, from the Bay Area of California, where she grew up, to Montana, where she graduated from Montana State University. She now works out of her Montana home with the help of her eager taste testers, husband, Drew and dog, Moose. You can find more of her recipes on her website:


5 cups of cut & washed brussel sprouts 2 cups of washed whole cranberries 2 tbsp of olive oil (enough to coat the veggies) 5 sprigs of fresh sage Salt and pepper to taste


TEMP: 425ËšF

BAKE: 20-25 min

1. Preheat your oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with tin foil. 2. Rinse your brussel sprouts and peel the outer few leaves off to ensure they are bug-free. 3. Slice the end off and slice 2-3 cuts widthwise down the sprout so each slice has a flat side. 4. Rinse your cranberries and add to the bowl of sliced brussel sprouts. 5. Roughly chop your sage to allow aromatics to shine through. 6. Add olive, sage, salt, and pepper to your bowl of cranberries and brussel sprouts, using your hands or tongs toss gently to allow the oil, salt, and pepper to coat your veggies. 7. Place vegetables on a baking sheet and place in the oven to roast for 20-25 minutes until golden brown with crunchy edges. 8. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Grandma Alice's

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie article by kelsey weyerbacher 32

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oday, when I lifted the pie crust to be draped over the top of the apples and sugar and cinnamon, I realized I was moving in the kitchen with the same effortlessness I watched my grandmother use. She drifted from countertop to countertop, mixing ingredients, shutting cupboards, and deftly lifting wax paper to lay crust atop a pie that already smelled like heaven. I used to be so jealous when I watched her, wondering how she knew so much and how she could just plop a crust on a pie plate without fumbling. Every time I roll a pie crust, I think of her giggle, and imagine her commenting at my shoulder that it isn’t quite thin enough. My Grandma Alice was an incredible cook and seamstress, though in the time I knew her, her health was continually failing. When I was in junior high, my grandmother invited my younger sister and me over to learn how to make her “Blue Ribbon” pie crust. She giggled as we struggled to roll it thin enough, as she slipped newspaper under the wax paper, asking if it was thin enough for us to read the newspaper print yet. Despite her age and poor health, she maneuvered pie crust around the kitchen with speed and a gracefulness I had never seen her exhibit. Alice Weyerbacher was the third of nine children. Raised during the Great Depression, she was frugal to the bone and grew up to be hard as nails. She quit school in the 8th grade at Kinsey Elementary School in Southeastern Montana, moving from the classroom as a student to the kitchen as the cook so she could help put her siblings through school. Before she died, I visited my Grandma Alice with a notebook, eager to fill out any information I could glean from her about her life. Sitting at her kitchen table, she laughed at me, getting up to walk three steps to her garage and smoke a cigarette. Opening the door, she said, “One day, when you write those books of yours, you can write about how your grandma was the stubbornest damn woman that ever lived. But, you’ve got to be stubborn to live this long.”


During the upcoming holiday season, I hope this pie reminds you of your own heritage and instills a sense of powerful stubbornness in your bones. mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9



PREP: 30 min

BAKE: 50-60 min


ingredients FOR THE CRUST 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp. salt 1 Tbsp. sugar 2/3 cups crisco 5-6 Tbsp. ice cold water

FOR THE FILLING 5-6 Granny Smith apples 1 cup sugar ALICE WEYERBACHER

½ tsp. cinnamon ¼ tsp. nutmeg


1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 1 Tbsp. butter

instructions 1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. 2. In a medium bowl, prepare pie crust by mixing flour, salt, sugar, and Crisco with pastry cutter or fork until small balls appear in the dough.

3. Add ice-cold water to dough, cutting into dough until just mixed. Avoid over-working.


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Split dough in half, forming a ball with half the dough and place on a 12” square of wax paper. Cover with another 12” square of wax paper and use a rolling pin to roll towards the edges of the square.

5. Slowly remove the wax paper from the top of the

12” dough circle, then lightly replace before flipping crust over to remove the bottom piece of wax paper. Leave this piece of wax paper off, sliding hands under the wax paper bottom to flip over pie pan. Remove wax paper from the top of the crust. Slowly lift the edges of the dough to settle into the edges of the pie pan.

6. Peel, core, and chop apple. Place inside the bottom

crust. Apples should be heaped in the middle, as they will settle and fall during the baking process.

Note: If you cannot immediately follow the recipe, place the apple slices in water with several tablespoons of lemon juice to keep from browning. Drain and pat dry before placing in the crust.


In a separate bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour together. Pour over the top of the apples in the pie crust.


Thinly slice the 1 Tbsp. of butter in shaved pieces, and place on top of the apple mixture, distributing evenly over the surface.

9. Roll out the top crust, repeating directions 4 and 5 with remaining dough. 10. Cover apple mixture with top crust, ensuring to cut design or simple slits in the middle for an air vent during cooking.

11. Pinch the bottom and top crust together along edges, moving crust as needed to ensure an even crust (or else larger sections will brown faster!)

12. Bake at 350ºF for 50-60 minutes, until crust is golden brown. 13. Remove from oven, allow to cool, and serve warm for best results. Enjoy! Submit your family recipe online with a story and family photo to be featured in Montana Woman’s Heritage Recipe. Visit for more information. Kelsey Weyerbacher is a writer, fabric artist, and mental health advocate living in Belgrade, Montana. After graduating from Montana State University with a Master’s in English focusing in Disability Studies, she stays at home with her son, Connor, while freelance editing and advocating for mental health services in Montana. Her work can be viewed at her website: mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9



in the land of quiet waters flows a strong current ARTICLE BY KELSEY WEYERBACHER 36

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he heritage narrative that dominated Jill Mackin’s childhood was that of her father’s European family history. Just as dominant, however, were the silences regarding her mother’s Native Turtle Mountain Chippewa (Ojibwe) lineage. A trend that Mackin says, “speaks to the broader heritage of our country and our continent” regarding the silence surrounding Native identity. Raised in Choteau, Montana, a small town with a population of just 1,619 in 2017, it was not until later in life that Mackin discovered the many community members who, like her, have OjibweMétis heritage— connections and history that were not previously acknowledged. “The identity or the heritage [of Choteau] is that we are a farming and ranching community. But, the Rocky Mountain Front was significantly home to the Ojibwe, Métis, and other Native peoples.” Like many small communities throughout Montana, the history of agriculture prevails, and too often, the history of the Native peoples who lived and existed in the lands prior to the colonization of the area are silenced— much like Mackin’s Native heritage. These silences have become deafening as many persons of Native heritage struggle to identify themselves as Native peoples. As a doctoral candidate at Montana State University specializing in Indigenous food systems and land practices, Mackin has been witness to many Native students coming to MSU’s campus and feeling disconnected from their identity. The biggest issue, she says, is the question of: Am I enough? “Who is the real Indian? Is that my grandparents? Was it my grandparents’ grandparents? Is it those people over there— those who speak more of the language, grew up on the rez, hold more of the teachings? The issue revolves around the losses we’ve endured, how we have changed, and what constitutes being a ‘real Indian,’ especially in a time when most Native Americans are growing up off the reservation. Racism and institutional racism, in the form of assimilation and termination policies, have resulted in significant losses of relatives, language, stories, and connections to place. But cultural resurgence and healing [are] ongoing and our culture is evolving, as all cultures do.” At the basis of our country’s long-standing representation of Native persons has been a

repeated stereotype of what constitutes being “Indian enough.” But, as Mackin stresses: “Culture and peoples are not static things. We change and evolve. European and Indian intermarriage can be traced back to the late 1500s in my family. Mixing does not mean you are not Indian or that you are only part— you are just mixed of more than one heritage. We’ve changed, but what hasn’t changed is the blood-quantum definition of who is Native.” The continual controversy surrounding Blood Quantum requirements shows no sign of stopping until a solution can be found. As a form of measurement, blood-quantum determines how “Indian” an individual is. The federal government uses this “Certified Degree of Indian Blood” in the form of an identification card determined from tribal documents by a tribal official or government employee. Native tribes differ in how they utilize the blood-quantum to determine citizenship— a complicated process and decision in every sense. Mackin sees the problem for what it is: “It was always meant as a termination policy, but some progressive Native communities are redefining membership based on a collective package of blood relationship, community involvement, language, and cultural knowledge. The silence around blood quantum on both sides is about competition for scarce resources— federal and tribal resources. There is a desperate need for decolonization in this regard and for healing to begin around ‘who belongs and who doesn’t, and that work belongs to everybody, not just Native people.”

Mackin’s own journey back to her Native heritage came from a deep desire to understand the story of her mother’s side of the family and to reclaim the culture and traditions that her ancestors had known and her family had lost. She was raised Catholic— as part of the legacy of the missionization of Turtle Mountain Chippewa, and she became heavily involved in church leadership, obtained a Master’s degree in Catholic Theology, and did social justice work in Haiti; Mackin even considered taking religious vows. While her life in the Church was fulfilling in the love of community and humanitarian work, there was a disconnect that she felt in her prayer life. Mackin says, “there were experiences and



blood memory things that would come to me— my connection with land, water, sky, and animals. It didn’t line up with the Catholic worldview, so there was some discontinuity there for sure. I began praying in my adult life for a connection to our Ojibwe teachings and connection with one of my relatives who carried that knowledge. And I prayed for that for a lot of years. Maybe 15 or 20. And then it came in a dream. It came in a dream that told me who I needed to seek after. It came in an invitation from a relative to the Midewin ceremony.” A thousand miles from Bozeman, the nearest Ojibwe Midewin ceremony at the time took place at the Minweyweywingan Lodge (Good Sounding Lodge) in Manitoba at the Roseau River First Nation. The ceremonies follow the seasons and occur four times a year, resulting in 8,000 miles of driving a year for Mackin and her family. The Midewin society is also called “the path of the heart.” Following the colonization of the Ojibwe peoples, Mide ceremonies were illegal in both the US and Canada for about one hundred years, as were other Native ceremonies beginning with the Ghost Dance, which was banned in Sitting Bull’s time. Mackin feels certain that “if we didn’t have the American Indian Movement, I don’t know if our ceremony would have survived. Many of the leaders in our lodge were also leaders in AIM, and they did the important work of bringing our ceremonies out from underground.” Mackin’s Mide lodge conducted the funeral of Dennis Banks, who made his journey to the spirit world on October 29, 2017. Banks was a co-founder of the American Indian Movement in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in an effort to represent urban Indians in areas of systemic poverty and police brutality against Natives. 38

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The movement grew to encompass a massive platform, including economic independence, the revitalization of culture, protection of legal rights, and autonomy over tribal lands. Mackin is deeply grateful for Mide ceremonies, as she says: “I am strengthened by attending my ceremonies. It is so good to be with a lot of people who are doing that healing work of the lodge for all our relations.” As a site of her own journey towards healing, the ceremonies fulfill the disconnect Mackin felt in her family’s collective heritage and her own understandings of the world, both spiritual and physical. In July, while she was conducting research at the Glenbow Archives in Calgary alongside her elder, Edna Manitowabi of Manitoulin Island, Ontario, she recalls Edna impressing upon her the teachings of the lodge saying: “This is your inheritance. Put it on. Wear it… let it change you, your attitude— the way that you sound, speak, and move.” For Mackin, “Leaving the Catholic Church and finding my way to that lodge was an act of decolonization because I am part of breathing life into ways of being, knowing, and doing that are important and need to be a part of our world. I have long held knowledge and connection to my European heritage, but what was nearly lost to me and my children was our Indigenous heritage. I feel like I also have a responsibility to my ancestors to carry forward that worldview— the gifts, the ceremonies, the lifeways, the foodways— that belong to that side of the family and were nearly destroyed by the violence of the past.” And beyond healing the past, there is a purpose in the present to this cultural recovery. “There is an Ojibwe prophecy which recognizes the time we are in and the importance of our teachings. We are told that “when the Earth is burning,” we will have a choice to go back along our path and pick

up our teachings for the healing of all peoples and Mother Earth or continue along a scorched path. Indigenous knowledge of living in sustainable and reciprocal ways is vitally important in the present moment.” For the last three years, Mackin has been involved in the Native Land Project (NLP) as a team member focused on Indigenous food sovereignty. An applied research initiative of Montana State University, the NLP aims to “document and generate research on Indigenous land and planning that is useful to planners and others working on issues in the interest of First Peoples in the Northern Rockies region.” In July of 2019, the Blackfeet Nation of Montana was awarded a $1 million federally-funded grant from the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, which the Blackfeet Tribe, Montana State University, and others are matching with another $1 million to support five years of research within the tribe’s Agricultural Resource Management Plan. Aaron Bolton reported for Montana Public Radio that Mackin’s work within the NLP could help “leverage funding for initiatives like the construction of a local USDA meat processing plant.” Her goal is simple: access to healthy food for Native people through food sovereignty. “I came to my doctoral work because it was clear to me that we are hooked on a fossil fuel-powered food system. It is not sustainable. None of us will exist in Choteau, Miles City, Bozeman, anywhere unless we gain control of the food system at a local level. You are not sovereign unless you have control of your food system. People like Monsanto and Sysco Food Systems have food sovereignty. We do not. We have a lot of work to do.” And Mackin has been working— working to


develop an Indigenous food sovereignty network “to provide knowledge, policy, and connectivity to support the important work Native and rural communities are doing to take control of their food systems. We are building a food sovereignty solidarity project.” Amidst her hope lies her reality, as Mackin acknowledges the “healing that needs to happen at individual and community levels is all connected to healing Mother Earth.” And that healing is continually occurring within herself, too, as she walks her journey back towards her Native heritage. A mother as well as partner, researcher, Ojibwe woman, and more, Mackin is blunt about the journey she has been on: “My kids have been along the journey as I go deeper into an understanding of [our Native heritage]. It has been hard for them because of society’s phenotype association with heritage. Their father is also European, so they feel self-conscious about identifying as American Indian, but they’re not alone.” The haunting question remains of ‘Am I enough?’ for so many Native people. When asked how she models her heritage for her children, Mackin stopped to think before opening her hands to say: “I just try to witness to my kids: This is who we are. That story is there for you. And that spiritual walk is there for you— those lifeways and foodways— all of it is there for you and it is good. I don’t force the issue that they need to own it. They will all find their own identity. But I am setting it before them with love.” I have known Jill for nearly six years, when I worked with her for a short time. She is a woman



of grace and humility that I return to time and time again for knowledge and honest answers to complicated questions. As a non-Native woman myself, I often worry that I could do more to be an advocate for Indigenous voices, but wonder how to. I ask myself how I can be authentic without speaking over or speaking for Native women, and how I can best support the many issues Native women face. I was nervous to sit down with Jill for this interview. Not because I was anxious about what she would say, but instead because I was worried I wouldn’t do her story justice in communicating it here for you, the readers.

looked at Jill’s hands, they sat next to a pile of notebooks and papers, a laptop where she had been writing her most recent dissertation chapter before I arrived, and multiple books with notes left in them. I considered the sheer volume of work this woman does: from multiple committees and boards to leadership positions in different programs and organizations, and recent articles written. When I asked how she accomplishes all this, she was quick to respond: “I think that I have a very good life partner in Bill, and my children who are all a gift to me. I spend time out on the land every day, walking, singing to the water, harvesting plants. My prayer life is strong. I greet the day each day with gratitude and my Mide rituals.”

But, just as I knew she would, Jill met my anxiety with a thoughtful response: “One of the things I always say when I’m beginning a public talk is that I Mackin sees hope, want to disarm people, We may have grown up just however, in the ways because there is this latent small communities emotion of what we have miles from each other here like the one she grew all inherited— we have up are acknowledging in Montana, but the way a collective heritage in this difference: “I think this colonial space and we see the world may be Choteau has taken colonization is ongoing— some important steps immensely different but what I want to in interviewing some of acknowledge is that the history of colonization the elders before they passed through the Métis is not the fault of anybody in whatever room I’m Cultural Recovery Trust, an organization founded speaking to… However, it is the burden of all of by people of different heritages. Through the work us, no matter what our origins. Are we going to of the Old Trail Museum, elder Al Wiseman, and live with ongoing violence over race because we many others, they are claiming a more honest haven’t contended with it? Because then those story about the past. I think that acknowledging legacies of the history are on all of us. And it’s some of the difficult things [is next].” As her own our shared work to heal this colonial heritage.” Native story was silenced for so long, Mackin sees the silences surrounding difficult subject That shared work is one I think we can all matters continued: “The stories don’t always endeavor to embark upon as we consider our own reflect the horror of what colonization is and heritage in the pages of this month’s Montana has been.” She stresses that “to acknowledge that Woman. As Jill Falcon Mackin stresses, the one tough stuff is important healing work. So is the thing we all really need to do is simple: Listen. acknowledgement Native peoples and their rich cultures still exist.” “Everybody wants an Indian on their Board of Trustees. Everybody wants an Indian on their In all she does, Mackin works to show that “we program at every conference and event gathering. have to acknowledge the difference in worldviews. And, what’s the point [of that]? I think the point We may have grown up just miles from each other is found in relationships. When you develop here in Montana, but the way we see the world an authentic relationship with someone from a may be immensely different.” As someone raised different worldview and are able to constructively in Eastern Montana myself, I saw myself in the discuss whatever the topic may be— education, words she spoke. I saw the differences between conservation, public policy— then you are us, but the threads that connect us. I saw the work allowing space for different worldviews.” that has been done and the difficult questions I The consistent themes of love and healing were struggled to ask, but I also saw the vastness that repeated in our interview, as the autumn weather we had yet to cover. There is so much work to settled in around us on her back porch. When I be done. 40

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The American West exists in mythological creatures: the outlaw story of Billy the Kid, the aim of Annie Oakley, the controversial celebration of General George Armstrong Custer, and the ever-present regal shoulders of the great American bison. Amidst these tropes and their likeness found in various art mediums lies an unassuming scratchboard. A creative process often remembered as a childhood activity that magically changed black paper to rainbow lines with a toothpick, Kaetlyn Able has taken the scratchboard and elevated it to new levels in Western Nouveau art. Line by line, scratch by scratch, Able takes typologies of western fauna: from the mighty bison of the plains to the smallest field mouse, and adorns them with clover flowers and dandelion seeds. In some of her more recent work, the historical figures of the past fade into the background as Able refocuses on the smallest creatures that situated the West— outside of the people whose confrontations disrupted it.


A mother of two, Able sets aside time on Saturdays for drawing found objects with her children. During her own childhood, Able spent hours drawing, leading her to oil painting as a focus at Wellesley College. Her favorite part of art, though, is experimenting: drawing, painting, mixed media, acrylics, watercolors. While she was working on her MFA at the Museum School in Boston, Able was a TA in an undergrad class called Art as Process, which pushed her to focus on her process over product. “It kind of got me hooked on always moving and looking for different media.” From there, she began experimenting with a variety of mediums, focusing on collages until she stumbled on a scratchboard book in the library that showed her what was possible 44

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in the medium. In 2008, she began to work in scratchboard, leaving behind the traditional oil paintings of her first degree. Growing up in Massachusetts, Able was always drawn to Montana. “My favorite babysitter was from Montana, so in the 5th grade, I did a state report on Montana. My mom still has it!” When she met her husband, Able was excited to learn he was from Montana. Finally, after following a business opportunity for her husband in 2011, the family of three moved to Montana. In the years that followed, Able cared for her family full-time, honed her craft, had another baby, and survived breast cancer.

Kaetlyn Able is modest in her discussions of her artwork and life story, but passionate as she describes her process and work ethic. “I think people think about the romantic lightning strike of ideas and inspiration, but I don’t think that’s the best route for most people.” In 2016, Able dedicated herself to scratchboard. “It was so cool to see how consistently working and delving into one thing was really fruitful and led to some really cool discoveries.” Working in only one process refined her skill and application, later adding bits of color into the black and white portraits through acrylic and acrylic gouache paints. Able sets aside blocks of time in her schedule that are specifically dedicated to creating art. “Counterintuitively, I get the most inspiration from just sitting down and doing disciplined chunks of work. It’s actually just the sitting down and the starting… that’s when all of the creativity and the inspiration starts to come through.” While she was working on her degrees, Able mainly looked for inspiration in her head. “I was thinking too hard, without sitting down and figuring out what I actually liked to do and wanted to do for really long stretches of time. That’s really where the magic happens— when you have this thing you can do for 80 hours and still want to keep going with it.” With one 10”x10” animal portrait taking up to a full week’s work and colored elements adding days of time after that, the dedication Able has to her craft shows in the delicate details of each piece. In her recent works, Able has focused on Montana’s flora and fauna— she goes out and finds acorns that turn into a cap for a mouse, berry brambles become an ornamental ruff, leaves and wildflowers transform into tail feathers. “Being from the East Coast and then having moved West is a really big source of inspiration in these kinds of not-always-so-obvious ways. A lot of the pieces I’ve been doing recently— bighorn sheep, bison, elk, and deer— they are portraits of them, but their antlers have carved designs in them. I don’t know where they came from, but for me they kind of invoke hunting culture with a [mount] on the wall.” Coming from the East Coast, Able wasn’t familiar with the frequency of taxidermy as home art as we see it in Montana. “I think of them as live animals while I’m drawing them, but I like the way they elude to the [culture] I don’t fully understand and




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the friends and people I know whose identity is built around that [in Montana].” Featured at Altitude Gallery in Bozeman and Radius Gallery in Missoula, Able’s animal portraits appear to come off the wall with tufts of life-like fur. “I have a white clay panel that I coat with black ink, then I use a variety of sharp tools— tattoo needles are the tool I use most often and X-Acto knives to make marks on it— so I remove the black to leave the white behind. It’s a very magical process, because at first you just have this void that you are illuminating, and it feels like you are adding light as you are working.” In breaking the mold of traditional Western art in the names of Charlie Russell, Able sees the foundations of Western art full of “problematic narratives of manifest destiny and what Westerners did to the Native Americans. In my work, I think I’m questioning a lot of the mythologies that traditional art doesn’t question. It promotes that mythology, rather than questions it in many instances.” Modestly, Able notes: “I hope there are glimmers of that in my work.” For Able, that’s the crucial thing about art: it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, it doesn’t have to always be your best work. You just have to create, to sit down and not worry about constantly outdoing yourself. Art can be anything by anyone for anyone. But, the difficult thing— the important thing— is to create. Furiously. Wonderfully. Wildly.


To learn more about Kaetlyn Able’s work, visit her website at, or follow her on instagram @kaetlynable Select pieces are also available at the following galleries:

ALTITUDE GALLERY 134 E Main Street Bozeman, MT

RADIUS GALLERY 114 E Main Street Missoula, MT

STAPLETON GALLERY 104 North Broadway Suite 204 Billings, MT

THE ART SPIRIT GALLERY 415 Sherman Avenue Coeur d’Alene, ID


from our readers

I have to chuckle, I’d never heard of the magazine before you took over... and I must tell you, Barb Fraser is my cousin, which is why I’m here. However, I’ve devoured the magazine page by page including ads and am enthralled by all aspects. I am constantly on the lookout for other women in Red Ants Pants to see where there ant is located compared to mine (spent 2 hours enjoying finding the right fit last winter)... “on her own terms” touched me deeply as I’m live-in caregiver for Dad... so many aspects of the different articles touched me in so many ways. I still have 1/3 of it yet to read! (I’m sorry to admit) as a full-time Paramedic, caregiver, etc, reading time is limited but you have done an amazing job of following your dream, and I’m in the process of getting ready to send gift subscriptions to the special women in my life. Thank you for following your dream and inspiring the rest of us!! –K.E. from Big Timber, MT OMG Megan’s Letter from the Editor made me cry! Loving the magazine. –M.H. from Upland, CA Bravo! The first new issue of MW was absolutely wonderful and made me so proud of this awesome state and all the women who call it home. It was beautifully executed and the articles were so refreshing! Can’t wait for the next one! —E.T. from Miles City, MT I just picked up this month’s copy and had to reach out to say "good job!" I have thumbed through past issues, but it didn’t spark. This issue was so beautifully put together. I loved the full-page quotes and the thoughtful articles & recipes! Happy you put your hand to this "plow," Megan! –Mae & June Vintage Market, Helena MT

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t h e s p i r i t o f m o n ta n a

at home with

h i l lt ow n images by sarah b. gilliam


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estled in the woods of Tennessee— an hour south of Nashville— sits an unassuming white house. Surrounded by seven wooded acres and two acres of wildflowers, Hilltown is the epitome of slow living.

I met Sarah B. Gilliam by chance. It was my first solo workshop at Photographer’s Formulary in Condon— the first time I was the instructor. I let them know that it would only take one student for the workshop to run. The student list bounced around for a while; maybe two, maybe one, maybe an international student. While the list changed, one student was always there: Sarah. As the date for the workshop approached, I received an email from Sarah saying she got a call that the workshop had been cancelled. I frantically called the Formulary and straightened everything out, and off it went. Now, I was full of just about every feeling you could possibly feel. After all, the workshops are 5 days long, and you typically work from 9am to 9pm. What if we didn’t get along? We would be in a darkroom together for 60 hours, sharing meals together, the whole kit and caboodle. As soon as I met Sarah, I knew we would be fine. Our glasses looked the same (hers were a family heirloom), we were both wearing bandanas, we liked the same music, we were both laid back— she was the absolute perfect first student. We spent five days making cyanotypes and salt prints, painting them with gold gesso, sharing conversations over home-cooked meals, and listing favorite bands back and forth. We worked from nine in the morning to midnight or one without even realizing it. At the end of our workshop, Sarah left me a note in my planner and a cyanotype painted with gold gesso, a gift that took me a few weeks to come across: “I hope (-sorry, mom moment) that when you’re 38 and need fresh eyes, you find yourself in my shoes because it is a really great place to be.” The universe works in odd ways. Never would I have guessed that I’d be writing about a woman and her sweet family from Tennessee, along with their dogs, cats, chickens, and 200,000 bees. Sarah gifted me a jar of their Hilltown honey for the workshop, and no honey has come close to comparison since. The love that goes into everything they do, from beekeeping to dendrology to workshops to raising a family, is so wildly apparent and authentic. This is why they’re November’s feature for The Spirit of Montana. The Gilliams may live 2,000 miles away, but their way of life is right at home. So, to Sarah, Patrick, Jack, and Ivy— thank you. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into Hilltown and for inspiring so many with your talent, work, and hospitality. May our readers see Hilltown in themselves and their communities. — mlc

Hilltown refers to the the name of the community we live in. In our rural county, there are many towns. Some are incorporated and some are unincorporated— usually these consist of a post office and a country store.


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What is Hilltown and what does it encompass?


Hilltown, first, is our home. But it is also a place to gather for learning things about our land. We offer workshops: Axe Camp, Tree ID, Photography— as a way for folks to experience and learn about things we are passionate about. During Axe Camp, participants learn more than how to swing an axe. They learn what trees are invasive and which are native, what wood makes for better campfires, cooking, or indoor heat. Our Tree ID course is geared toward children and adults, and we teach how to identify more than 40 species by bark, foliage, and profile in both spring and winter.

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What does an average day on the farm look like? We are currently in school mode, so the mornings are for getting ready and finishing chores (feeding pets and letting the chickens out to free range during the day). The afternoons are for free play, usually outdoors. We eat as a family every evening, and most of our food (veggies and meat) comes from about five miles from our house and is grown and raised by people we know. We walk around our property with our kids and dogs every night, the kids help with evening chores, and then we read before bed. Every Thursday we join a community meal at our neighbor’s farm. 

What’s been the most fulfilling part of creating the farm? We have been able to create a space that is truly ours in every way.

What’s next for Hilltown? We are always coming up with something. We are currently working on expanding a series of trails in our 7 acres of woods. This will aid in retrieving downed trees and give us more room to explore and enjoy with our kids. mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9


How has the slower pace of life changed your way of living?

What does Hilltown mean to you and your family?

Slowing down means making time— for coffee on the back porch, reading an extra book at night, taking a walk, watching the birds land and fly from the feeders, splitting wood, checking on the bees. Slowing down from errands and commitments and spending time in the place we decided to invest in and doing that in all the ways.

This place is our opportunity to show gratitude for our earth, to teach our children the value of healthy soil and the joy of harvest. It is our retreat from busy streets, school, and work.

Your community is incredibly rooted in each other and the land— what all is involved in that, and how could someone implement that in their hometown? The easiest way you can become involved in local agriculture is to visit your farmer’s market or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We get a box of seasonal vegetables and herbs every other week from our neighbors as well as a monthly subscription for meat. Eating local is better for our environment and, of course, supports a small business. You can also look for farm-to-table events and local 4-H clubs.


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What’s been your favorite part of your move to the farm? What’s been the most challenging? Character development is the best part. When we first bought the farm, it was in terrible shape. We have torn down buildings, made hundreds of trips to the dump, cleared brush, took down an old home piece by piece, built new buildings, and planted hundreds of trees and flowers. Our challenges are time— balancing life with projects and leisure. But we tend to wrap all of those things into manageable bites. 

What does living with the land look like/mean to you? How could someone practice living with the land in their own life? Living with the land is such a beautiful, symbiotic dance. The tree that has provided you shade falls, you clear it to make room for saplings, chop and split the wood to heat your home, maybe make a spoon— honor its life. There are so many opportunities to be part of this earth no matter where you are— you can grow vegetables in a pot on your back porch, plant bee-loving flowers, incorporate green products in your home and on your lawn. 58

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HILLTOWN.COM @HILLTOWNTN @SARAHB.GILLIAM mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9



wildernesses ***

autumn toennis

hen they reached the homestead in the evening, she found that home was a dugout cut into the side of a gumbo hill; a structure composed of fieldstone, cedar branches, and logs that sported a door and a single window. While he went in search of water, she made up the house with what little they brought and waited. Alone for miles, she sat listening to a host of new sounds that could not be seen at night.

vastly different. Born in 1898 in a village that fell alongside the Black Forest in Germany, most of her early life was spent working alongside her family in the fields, land that she described as a quilt with squares of green broken up by wildflower meadows, “from our house on the hill the view was spectacular,” she wrote, “I never missed a Sunset, as it sank behind the lofty forest, that surrounded the village & field like a frame.”

The crickets would have been loud, pulsing in the dark. She was a girl who had left behind all of her family at a young age, who became lost in the night sky as she stood at the rail of the ship during the passage. A prairie at dark is a twin to the ocean – its grasses rock and rustle against themselves as far as you can see, and the sky stretches above you like an endless sheet, punctured by the moon.

Theresa left Germany when she was sixteen. Three days out from New York, the countries floating on either side of their journey sank into World War I, and at night they sailed with the lights of the ship doused to avoid being torpedoed. She would ultimately make a home with Lawrence, “Larry”— my great-grandfather— on a homestead in Eastern Montana. They met during the crossing; years later he proposed to her on a postcard, and by way of an answer she traveled to Miles City, my hometown, where they wed.

“In 1914 an Aunt & Uncle came to visit from Chicago, Ill & asked if they would bring me to Amerika with them, they did. I had told this same Aunt, when I was five the next time she came to see us I would go back with her & so after a farewell party the people & friends had for me, I left my Homeland, to start a new life here.” –Theresa Steidle Hennewinkel, from “My Life” — her unfinished account The juxtaposition of where Theresa Steidle’s life would play out and where she hailed from was

Powderville, the area the homestead sits upon, is forty-some odd miles south of Miles City. The land that stretches across either side of Highway 59 is a tall-grassed prairie, punctuated by deep gumbo ravines and rolling hills covered in sagebrush, but for the most part, the sky is the largest living thing for miles around. “We loaded our belonging & took off for the homestead, which as the gron [crow] flys was about 10 miles, but to me who was not used to the wide horizon, it seemed endless.” mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9


By all accounts, Theresa and her husband loved each other deeply. They had six children together, the youngest of which is my grandmother, and though life was difficult in the depression era, they worked hard and loved the same way. No one in my family is able to speak clearly about what happened next. Whatever it was, it gave Theresa cause to send word for the sheriff, and in 1933, Lawrence was taken to the Montana State Hospital, otherwise known as Warm Springs. Before her narrative stops, one of the last lines in it stands out to me: “I roamed the hills, rode after the mail & visited with the neighbors, for me it was the last carefree year.” Theresa did her best to keep the homestead going in Larry’s absence, but the family would ultimately move back to Miles City. She worked odd jobs to take care of the children— my grandmother remembers walking her to the Catholic Church rectory, where she would cook meals for the priests in spite of the arthritis that was beginning to cripple her as she aged. Later, when my grandmother married at sixteen, Theresa would move in with them and stay until the end of her life, dying at the age of seventy-three.


In January of this year, my husband and I moved to New York, to the city. We rented a fifth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn, a few blocks off the edge of the East River. As we positioned my desk against a window with a slice of horizon, I noticed


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the castle-like building out in the distance of the bay. It took me a moment to realize Ellis Island floated directly across from me, perfectly framed by the spray of bare trees at the edge of the promenade. A door— the one that Theresa had passed through just over a hundred years ago. A few months later, my mother and grandmother came to visit. We booked our own passage and crowded onto the top deck of a ferry. Ellis is a ghost island of sorts. Despite the throngs of tourists and kiosks selling Statue of Liberty keychains, it’s impossible to not feel that you are visiting somewhere sacred. We see photos of the main building throughout the years; windows are added, benches disappear— but through everything, the warped stones of the floor we now stand on stay exactly the same. I feel such a kinship with Theresa, though we never met— we are two women a century apart, frontiers hovering in the forefronts of our minds. Her desire to know what more there was to see, what other wilderness existed, shaped her life – and that same desire shapes mine. I am coming to discover that though New York City is two thousand miles of difference from the Montana prairie, any new land is a wilderness to the person seeing it for the first time. Whether it is from an apartment window, the seat of a wagon, or the rail of a ship. “The voiage was grand,” she wrote, “I never tired to stand at the ships rails to watch the water & the nights filled with stars.”

Regaling the art of self-expression as necessity, and not a trite usage of time, was instilled in me through the watercolors of my maternal grandmother. My affinity for babies and young children and caring for my people by way of food no doubt came from my paternal grandmother. I reckon my knack for enjoying hard labor— and my sweet tooth— came from my maternal grandfather and my deep affection for living a spiritual life was transmitted to me from my paternal grandfather. Home has a myriad of meanings. It is at once the location in which we lay head to pillow at the end of the day, when the crow’s echo fades into the falling of night, and also the entirety of the blessed city in which we hail from, where we learned to take our first wobbly steps. It is the wide yawning of landscape constituting the state in which we live, and it is whatever fragrance or sight or sound that reminds us that we are alive with blood pulsing, in the open expanse of the here and now. Each of my blood ancestors I will never know, flow with the rollicking rhythm of a place called home on the tides of my breath. Their feet are my feet. Their trials are my own. There is no separation when it comes to where my heritage ends, and I begin. I am the clouds, the sky has created me. Everything else has conspired to formulate my existence. I am merely the waves on the surface, everything else is the sea.



I have been handed down the sacred heart of my grandmothers and the calloused hands of my grandfathers.


e m o H g n i Com BY STEPHANIE EVANS

interpret heritage as where we come from and what we leave behind. A place in which we were raised. A place in which our parents and their parents came from. It can be a place from our heart centers like our sensitivities and creativities. It can be traditions. Recipes passed down without written word— “a pinch of this and a handful of that.” It can be material possessions like wedding china. It can be the occupations that family members gravitate toward, like the family of educators or the family of business minds. I interpret it as sometimes being an unseen heritage. The dis-ease of our bodies, such as certain cancer, stroke, or arthritis. Heritage could be our mannerisms. The way we smile, laugh; our sense of humor. Our nervous ticks. Often times, emotions can be our heritage. It could be the way we hide our emotions— things that are buried deep within until triggered, like our temper or our tenderness. Emotions that haven’t been dealt with are hoarded away like a broken mixer. Put away in a box, stored away in the garage for years. Then, when we die, our children inherit them… “What the hell is this emotion? Do I use it to peel apart the people I hold dear to my heart? Isn’t this what Dad used it for?” This may be an idea that seems foreign and strange. It may be something you’ve never thought of before. It seems that we don’t realize 64

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our emotional inheritance can be detrimental and also something we can completely change, just by being aware and mindful. Being aware of our mannerisms that don’t necessarily have to be passed down to our children. We are aware of downsizing our material possessions as we age and prepare for our late stages of life so that our children don’t have to deal with the overwhelming material things. Let’s also be aware of the generational patterns we accumulate. We can downsize our generational patterns just by being mindful of them. The patterns of how we deal with situations. How we deal with the problems and energy that seem to run in families. Certain energies can be passed down— negative and positive. It could be the energy we attract. Prosperity and positive self-esteem. Abuse and trauma. How do we train ourselves to recognize the different phases that have unknowingly been passed on to us? The negative body images. The positive thinking processes. The habits of selfdegradation. The beauty of self-love. How do we change our personal customs so that our children will have a brighter future? So our grandchildren don’t have to carry that extra burden? How do we release the negatives and focus on the positives? First, start by recognizing the patterns in your family by being mindful of them. Is there a high level of divorce? Is there a “poor me, everyone is out to get me?” victimization pattern? Is it normal in your family to be taken advantage of ?

Abused? Take a moment to sit and write it all down. Go back as far as you can physically remember. Now, look at your list. Those patterns are going to pop out at you. You will have a physical response to these patterns. You will have that moment of clarity, and then you will think, “what in the actual hell?” What do you do about it now? You feel. You breathe. Sit with it for a bit and now act on the positives. Don’t dwell on the negatives. Don’t waste any more time. There is nothing you can do about the past. The action of being present, being present with each and every emotion, and truly acknowledging how they feel is getting on the right path to healing. Be present with the positive emotions as well as the negative. Learn to recognize and attract positive energy. Release and express them in activities such as art, movement, writing; expressing your emotions through creativity. Share this with your children. Show them anything you have in your existent toolbox. Something you do to release stress. Something you do to express happiness and gratitude. Focusing on positive releases. I have found yoga, meditation, and journaling to be immensely helpful in breaking these generational cycles. It’s also something I use to welcome acceptance of myself and others. A tool I use to show the light in darker times. Know that these are cycles that can’t be overcome overnight. They have been a part of our make up for generations… 20, 30, 40 years. They need to be worked with— something that we need to have patience with. A heritage that needs to be built again. I recently had a conversation with my Mom, asking for guidance and insight to see if I was overshooting this theory of mine. She agreed that this is a thing. This is a thing that most generations don’t recognize. They don’t recognize it because of guilt, grief, trauma, or maybe simple avoidance. The avoidance of emotion. I believe there is nothing you need to do with your emotions but feel them. Don’t tuck them away in a box in your garage. We do not need to pass on to our children the inability to feel. Teach your children the ability and importance of feeling.

Teach them the tools such as yoga, meditation, gardening, journaling, dancing in the kitchen like no one is watching. Teach them how to protect themselves. Teach them how to express what is in their heart and intuition. Maybe we were not taught this because it was not a tool our parents or grandparents had. Maybe we were not taught this because society doesn’t seem to accept the rawness of emotions. Emotions— they are a gift. They are our intuition. They are our protection. Those who choose to feel them are the visionaries, the teachers, the leaders. The brave ones who will go into battle with their hearts on their sleeves, tears rolling down their cheeks as they bring forth the broken mixer-box and throw that crap into the fire. The time is now. It is always now. Stephanie Evans is a lover of nature, ceremony, movement, and adventure. She is the mother of four magical spirits and a writer, ceremony officiant, yoga instructor, and retreat leader. She was born in Montana with the spirit of a fairy, the mouth of a sailor, and the heart of a hippie. She learned early in childhood that Mother Nature and expression with movement and words were three vital ingredients to a beautiful life. The ability to release tensions, aggressions, anxiety, and fear while in nature is a tonic. She would like to share with all who walk into her path how to open their senses to all the magic that surrounds us in this beautiful state and to extend it into their life. Body, mind and spirit.


Stitch Yourr



a love letter to my grandmother’s thimble



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y mother has a hand-embroidered quilt of my Great-Grandmother’s that sports a burn across one of the squares from a bullet. My grandfather had been unloading a hunting rifle in his bedroom, without checking to make sure it was empty. The bullet shot through a wall before grazing the quilt, burning a line diagonally across it before going through the outer wall of the house and towards the neighbors’. I should clarify that no one was hurt in the process.

The women in my family have lived within a 30-mile radius of Miles City for four generations. Only one of my grandmothers graduated high school, but their knowledge was instead full of recipes, remedies, and other information that never seemed to be documented well-enough—ensuring a phone call to Grandma was needed for a cherry pie to be made just right.

As I reached my own hand out to trace the handquilted stitches, momentarily frustrated about how damn consistent they were in comparison to my own, I giggled at how very Eastern Montana this entire scenario was. I was standing in my mother’s sewing room, while she showed me her grandmother’s quilt, with a bullet graze burned into it. I could see the chickens outside the window, and in the field beyond our yard, one of the neighbor’s bulls was on the loose. As I continued to sit with my mother for the afternoon, watching her quilt a new square using scraps from other projects, I looked around at four generation’s worth of stories in the seams of quilts.

My rural upbringing and identity created a different kind of literacy outside of those of my peers. While my younger years consisted primarily of lessons such as where to watch for rattlesnakes and how to properly butcher a chicken, my parents always encouraged us in school and extracurricular activities. I graduated high school ready to leave the farm and pursue knowledge outside of Montana, not yet understanding it was the knowledge I would leave behind that I would miss the most.

I grew up in Kinsey, Montana, a farming community northeast of Miles City along the Yellowstone River. While I cooked from a young age and sewed a quilt by age 12, I also excelled in school and was eager to attend college to earn a degree—no one in my family had yet received a 4-year-degree until my brother did in 2011. I saw the women in my family cook dinners for dozens, tend to livestock, darn socks, mend clothes, and balance families, but I didn’t understand that as an intelligence I could or should aspire to. For a long time, I saw the histories of the women in my family as failed potential—that if only they could have gone to school, they could have made something of themselves. The false perception I had growing up, that I know many outside of rural communities share, is that because my family wasn’t formally educated meant they weren’t fully knowledgeable. mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9



Upon arrival at the University of Portland in Oregon, I was made blatantly aware of my difference when I was asked if we, as collective Montanans, still lived in teepees. I was the only girl on my dorm floor with a toolbox, and I had no idea what Thai food tasted like. As I grew older, I searched for meaning in my classes and degrees, feeling so lost and disassociated from my classmates, I eventually transferred to Montana State University, where I obtained two undergraduate degrees and recently finished a Master’s degree. I felt empowered not only because I was once again within driving distance of the farm when it was harvest time or planting season, but because it was both a physical and emotional return home. I stopped seeing the women in my family as uneducated and matured enough to see them for what they are: powerhouses of knowledge. So many times, these women tried to teach me. My grandmother sat with me (sometimes rather impatiently) trying to teach me to hand sew when I was six. Another grandmother taught me to make hook rugs. My mom enrolled me in sewing classes. I resisted, choosing to think that the education I needed was elsewhere, instead of right in front of me. In many ways, I think it took me leaving home to see the value in the way I was 68

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raised, but it also took the death of my paternal grandmother in July of 2015. The following year, I completed two undergraduate theses: EnglishWriting in a senior capstone detailing the history of irrigation in my farming community; and Photography in a senior project of historical family photos printed on fabric and quilted.

As a writer and fabric artist, the subject I love best is my home— the farming community that raised me, the people whose potluck dishes I consumed, the irrigation waters that sustained our way of life, and the women whose cooking and sewing created meaning for our entire valley. What became most apparent to me as I grew older was how the women in my family formed a different set of skills outside of formal education that they needed to sustain themselves and their families. Those skills involved sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, darning, mending. Most of them were passed down generationally— taught at Homemaker’s meetings, 4-H workshops, and quilting groups. They became a way for women in my rural community to share meaning-making with one another. This way of knowing is so often lost in the pursuit of something new.


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When I asked my mother— a farmer’s wife— how she cares for herself, she said it was her quilting that saved her from the struggles of agricultural life in rural Eastern Montana. She has a room to herself, a space to call her own. Where she can step away from the cooking to be done, the phone calls to be made, the endless work to be done outside. She can step into her private space and create something. It is her form of meaning-making. My mother is built through her never-ending tasks of cooking for hired hands, tending the farm animals, holding together our family, and this small act of self-care in the form of fabric art. Her skills, and my grandmothers’, and my greatgrandmothers’ have translated into my own fabric art. My grandmother was appalled when I took an old photograph of her, holding a dead turkey with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and turned it into a quilt square. But, for me, my return home to my rural identity is in using the female

domestic arts that were gifted to me by prior generations— finding a way to use them to break out of the rural space in order to tell the stories of the women living there. I feel drawn to give my mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers voice. I sift through boxes of their photos, seeing them placed in neat aprons in kitchens, holding babies contrasted with images of their dirtied faces, holding garden hoes in beet fields. The site of many jammed bobbins, broken needles, cut fingers, iron burns, and pierced fingers from pins became the place that inspired me to pursue an alternative form of communication in an urban setting. The ghosts of the women before me whisper to me through my fingers and thimble, humming as I pull the thread through fabric cut from their hems. I stitch my seams, holding them close to me, transforming their pattern into something new.

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My grandmother was appalled when I took an old photograph of her, holding a dead turkey with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and turned it into a quilt square. But, for me, my return home to my rural identity is in using the female domestic arts that were gifted to me by prior generations— finding a way to use them to break out of the rural space in order to tell the stories of the women living there. I feel drawn to give my mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers voice.


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amily is one of the sweetest and most complicated relationships we will ever experience, and it can have moments when it will catch you in its arms when everyone else has walked away. The saying “blood is thicker than water” refers to the concept that family will never leave you when friendships or love have run their course. But, I was closer to my husband than any other person I have ever known. Two strangers hadn’t just fallen in love, they also created the new root that would join two existing family trees. From that root, our children have grown into their own families, but the connections remain. I am lucky to have come from good people— wonderful men and women who loved one another, who considered hard work a core value, especially when life’s challenges would come their way. My father’s people were from the South and my mother’s from the North. Though different kinds of people, both sides of my family tree worked to instill the values my husband and I have shown my sons. My paternal grandmother was from Oklahoma— a petite, quiet woman who also had a stubborn side. She had a life that went from picking cotton on Grandpa Mac’s farm to meeting the only man she would ever love at Woolworth’s, where they both worked. My grandfather came from the hills of Kentucky. He was a tall, quiet man whose morals and beliefs never changed with the times— a fact I greatly appreciated as I grew older. My granddad had a great sense of humor, loved to tell a good story, and always had a word of encouragement, traits I see passed down amongst family members. His guidance was missed after my husband died, but the faith my grandparents instilled in me remained. Both grandparents were as devoted to God as they were to their families, and it was evident in how they lived.

On the other side of my tree grew my maternal grandfather, whose family came to this country from England as freight haulers. My grandfather was a hardworking man whose sense of pride in a job well done had nothing to do with who you were working for, but the personal integrity expressed in the standards you maintained. My grandmother demonstrated this same ethic in her motto: Keep your hands busy. She was a prolific quilter and taught me to quilt— one of my most prized possessions is one of the two quilts she created from Gramps’s dress shirts. She knitted everything from sweaters, to Afghans, to the only socks I remember Gramps ever wearing. She would coach me over the phone for years when I would get frustrated, including when my youngest decided to give it a try. This lesson of hard work and perseverance from them both holds the highest importance to me. Modeled in my husband’s family too, this work ethic is one we’ve successfully passed down to our sons— and one I am immensely proud of. When I was a young wife and mom, my grandmother came out to North Carolina and taught me to not worry over my first child, how to make meatloaf gravy, and how to prepare mashed potatoes that didn’t look like wallpaper paste. She taught me how to make tomato preserves— I made it years ago and won first prize at the Flathead County Fair. I made it again this year, thanks to a generous friend. To me, it is the sweetest of jams.

I recall finding a stack of Guideposts  magazines in the headboard bookcase of their guest room when I was young. I devoured the stories, reading the little editions about faith from cover to cover. Those seeds that were planted would eventually blossom into my own unshakable faith, and I was never more grateful for it than when my life fell apart following Danny’s death. I believe that faith and the work they did to sow the seeds for it to grow in all our lives is their legacy. mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9


important part of their upbringing, and I love that fact more than words. It’s a delicate dance between work and play, but I think our sons have learned to balance it well. They work long, hard days, but still find the time to enjoy their lives. They are all kind-hearted and charming like their father, loyal to the bone as the generations before them, and determined like their mother, with a welcoming spirit and hospitality that spans generations.

I grew up with lessons in frugality that were also tempered with buying a quality product that would last, then fixing it when it broke instead of today’s concept of instant replacement. My mom taught me that there was usually a solution to any problem, learning to be self-reliant will get you out of a bind more often than not, and that there is a learning curve to every obstacle. My dad modeled her words by fixing everything that was broken, and I was grateful to have married a man who could do the same. I will never forget the Christmas morning years later when my dad gave me back the spruced up tube radio that I had listened to Texaco’s Opera on as a teenager. Music so often transports us back to a place, a people, a memory. Though I haven’t lived in the South for a long time, bluegrass music still sets my feet tapping. When I was a young girl, my dad had two friends who would come over on the weekends, and they would play songs on their guitars and sing. I heard songs by Johnny Cash, Roger Miller, and Glen Campbell, setting the tune for my musical heritage. That all changed, though, when I married Danny— an avid rock and roller. Danny taught me the appreciation of a different style of music. He took me to the concerts of REO Speedwagon, The Rolling Stones, and ZZ Top. It was an education that served me well, and it became a huge part of who we were as a couple and was also a big influence in our son’s lives. I smile and laugh to think of the numerous times they would drive with their dad, all singing at the top of their lungs with the music blaring. It’s an 76

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We gather bits and pieces along the way that create who we become, which we then use to help our children become their own, too. Although I have not been back to Alabama since I was a toddler standing in the Mississippi river, it is as much a part of who I am as everything else. If I spend just minutes talking to someone with a southern accent, mine starts to meander like the waters of the Delta. I spent my whole life contentedly living everywhere else, but it’s a part of my heritage that pulls at me. I was raised on biscuits and cornbread cooked in an iron skillet. I discovered a love of fried green tomatoes, sweet tea, anything layered with chocolate, and I’m persnickety that pecan pie should be chock full of pecans like my Gramma’s. It is the generosity of the South feels like home to me. Sometimes we are what we were raised with, and sometimes we find ourselves becoming something bigger, something better. We take the trees we grew from and tangle them, making a new branch, a new root. We grow outwards from them and away from them, still sustained from them. We grow.

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the ten essentials ACTIVE & OUTDOOR |



ecreating in the outdoors is to Montanans as playwriting is to Shakespeare. They just go together. Montana hosts an abundance of opportunity in this regard and, no matter the mode, one should always be prepared. There’s a lot we could talk about but we’re going to very briefly (I mean very briefly— there are entire books on the subject!) focus on the Ten Essentials. It’s a great place to start for newcomers and an excellent reminder for veterans. The Ten Essentials have been around since the 1930s and have slowly evolved over time, landing us where we are today. Whereas previous iterations of this checklist have included very specific items, we now refer to generalizations followed by more definitive suggestions. For example, instead of saying “Sunglasses” it now says “Sun Protection” and recommends other things as well, such as sunscreen and a hat. This allows for a broader scope of items, depending on your specific trip and what you may or may not actually need to bring along. So, let’s dig into it!


People get lost all the time, even when they’re following trails. Some trails, especially the less traveled ones, are not well marked or obvious, or perhaps you missed a turn because you had your head down. It happens to the best of us, and it’s happened to me! The difference between getting lost and staying found is having proper navigational tools that you know how to read and use. 78

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Map and Compass is certainly a skill that must be learned and practiced but a worthwhile investment for when you really need it. It doesn’t require batteries, either, so you don’t have to worry about not having access to a map. Plus, it’s just fun and can double as a really nerdy party trick (maybe that’s just me, but I think it’s super cool)! Even carrying just a map is better than nothing at all. GPS devices, such as a Garmin InReach, are another option, though be prepared to learn the ins and outs of those as well, and always carry extra batteries or have a way to recharge it.


As discussed previously, this encompasses a few different things! Basically, anything at all that protects from the sun’s harmful rays: hats, sunglasses, SPF lip balms, sunscreen, even your clothing. Long sleeves and pants protect your skin better than any other option on here, though we know that’s not always the solution we want to go with on super hot days. A lot of folks typically think of sun protection for the summer but it’s just as applicable (if not more so!) in the winter. White reflects light, after all! Instead of the sun only beating down on you from above, all that snow is bouncing its rays back up at you from below, making for a dangerous sunburn double whammy.


Insulation includes your clothing and your sleep

system (if you’re camping/backpacking). As many Montanans know, layers are best all year round. Staying cool in the summer and warm in the winter is key to having a good time on any trip! Regardless of season, you want to regulate your body temperature as best you can while minimizing sweat. Even in the summer, sweatsoaked clothing can be dangerous in the high alpine where it can cool down to 30 degrees at night and leave you susceptible to hypothermia. Choosing proper layers that you can shed or add to keep your body happily sweat-free and comfortable will go a long way. And don’t forget your rain gear! Those afternoon mountain storms are no joke. If you’re camping overnight, an appropriately temperature-rated sleeping bag is paramount, but of equal importance is your sleeping pad. This insulates your body from the cold ground upon which you’re sleeping, reducing conductive

heat loss. There are many options to choose from, and your decision relies heavily upon applied use and personal preference. Do your research before purchasing!


A good headlamp is the most common form of illumination you’ll see out on the trails these days. They’re small and lightweight, and they free up your hands to do other things in the dark, like using trekking poles if you get back later than you thought you would. Also, no need to awkwardly carry a flashlight in one hand while trying to dig a cat hole in the middle of the night when nature calls while you’re camping! Having a small flashlight, however, is a great backup to have on trips in case your headlamp decides to go by the wayside. As with all things that require a power source, always make sure they are fully charged before going out and bring extra batteries. mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9




This essential is the most vague of them all, as every trip will dictate what you actually end up bringing along. For example, I carry a much different first aid kit for a two-hour hike than a week-long group trek through the mountains. Some factors to consider when packing up a first aid kit: length of the trip, how many people in your group, potential dangers based on terrain, climate, and difficulty, as well as any special medical conditions, to name a few. Be sure to label any medications (including dosage), know how to utilize anything that you’re bringing along, and it is always strongly recommended that everyone have their own first aid kit on their person. Hand in hand with first aid is general safety, and in Montana, that means bears. Even on popular trails, I never let my boots hit the dirt without bear spray on me. Be sure to carry it in an easily accessible location, such as on your hip belt or backpack shoulder strap (ie: NOT in your bag or anywhere on your back), as you might only have mere seconds to react if you surprise a bear; getting into your pack could take too long and drastically increases your chances of an unwanted encounter. Much like your first aid kit, be sure you know how and when to use it!


A rather self-explanatory essential— a simple set of pocket matches from a gas station, a lighter, even flint— basically, anything that will make fire if needed, though some options are superior to others. I prefer having a small batch of stormproof matches and a windproof lighter. Out in the elements, a simple breeze or drizzle could be the downfall of any attempt to light that stove for cooking a meal or getting a sheltered fire to spark when you need it most. I’ve tested them many times in one of the windiest spots of the Crazy Mountains, and they simply do not go out.


Tents, hammocks, and bivvies, oh my! There are so many options for shelters it’s almost overwhelming, but it boils down to a nice mixture of necessity and preference. Bivvies are the most versatile, as they are basically a vampire’s coffin-tent that you can throw down just about 80

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anywhere and climb into, but they are not for the claustrophobic. Tents, on the other hand, have a ton more space if the weather is crappy and you need to just hang out for a day or two, but they are bulkier and heavier. Modern technology is making leaps and bounds in this regard, however, and you can easily purchase a two-person tent that’s under two pounds (but you’re gonna pay for it… literally). Hammocks are the latest and greatest trend in camping and can be a great option for those who just cannot sleep on a pad on the ground. Trust me, I feel ya. Choose what fits your needs and wants best! A simple backup in an emergency situation can be a mylar blanket (those silvery, space looking things) and some rope/paracord. It’s a rudimentary shelter but will keep the rain and wind off of you in a pinch.


The most preferential essential of them all: food. We all have our likes, dislikes, metabolic needs, and dietary restrictions, so it’s completely up in the air! You know your body better than anyone else, so it’s best to trust your gut on this one (pun intended). Obviously if you’re doing more physically demanding work than usual, you might be a bit hungrier. However, the infamous “Hiker’s Hunger” where you turn into a ravenous, bottomless pit of appetite doesn’t usually kick in until about 2-3 consecutive weeks of being on a trail. Best practice is to bring a little more food than you think you’ll need, mostly for emergency situations.


Bringing water with you is obviously important, but so is being able to acquire more. Water is life, after all! Always have a primary way to filter/purify water as well as a backup. I prefer to use some kind of pump or personal water bottle filter as my main source and the mostly fool-proof iodine tablets as my emergency backup in case my primary filter becomes compromised. Carrying a filter is a great way to reduce weight in your pack by carrying less water to start with (1 liter of water weighs a whopping 2.2 pounds— that adds up fast!), but be sure that there are abundant, reliable water sources where you’re going. A desert hike, for instance, would definitely not be a good place to rely on natural water sources for refilling, and you’d want to pack more with you in your pack to start with.


What happens if you’re camping and your rain fly tears while it’s actively raining? Or perhaps you snagged your down sleeping bag on something and there are feathers flying everywhere? Think of your repair kit as first aid for your gear. After all, your gear is what keeps you safe, dry, and warm out in the wilderness. No matter how primitive, one should always be in your pack, and they don’t always have to be fancy! Something as simple as carrying a small roll of Tenacious Tape or wrapping a length of duct tape around a water bottle for later use is considered repair in a pinch. There are more permanent fixes, such as special fabrics and sealants, but they typically require more time/care to do properly and, if the need is dire enough, you’ll be happy you had even the tape. A knife or multitool is a welcome member of your arsenal as well as they can be used in a plethora of situations. Even if not for an emergency, simply slicing into some cheese and salami at that alpine lake can be quite enjoyable.


I know… eleven? I thought this was the Ten Essentials? It sure is, but I think hygiene is just as important so it’s my own little “bonus” essential which includes a couple necessities for any trip, day hike or otherwise. Say you’ve had your morning cup of coffee and an hour into the trail it’s activated your bowels and you really have to go. Carrying a trowel to dig a cathole is pretty crucial in this case! Obviously you’ll want to wash your hands afterwards, too, so a small container of biodegradable soap or wipes will come in handy (this pun also intended). I never go anywhere without a really basic toiletry kit. When backpacking or camping, however, this would also include your toothbrush and toothpaste (also of the biodegradable variety). We might not be taking showers out in the wilderness, but that doesn’t mean we abandon good hygiene altogether!

 Trail Map & Compass (Navigation)  Small tube of sunscreen, sunglasses, hat  

(Sun Protection)

 Rain jacket, long-sleeve shirt (Insulation)  Headlamp (Illumination)  Bandaids, gauze, ointment, medical tape,      

triangular bandages, inhaler, CPR mask, splint, medications, whistle, bear spray (FirstAid)  Matches (Fire)  Mylar emergency blanket and paracord   (Shelter)  Snacks (Nutrition)  2 liters water and small personal filter   (Hydration)  Tenacious Tape, travel sewing kit, and   pocket knife (Repair / Tools)  Trowel and wipes (Hygiene)

It might sound like a lot, but it takes up surprisingly little space in a 20-liter day pack and doesn’t weigh all that much either, with water and food taking up the bulk of that. The Ten Essentials go hand in hand with the very first principle of the Leave No Trace Seven Principles, “Be Prepared and Plan Ahead,” which we’ll dive into in a later issue. They make for a safer trip altogether— if not for yourself, then for someone else who might be in need on the trail. To be cliché about it, better safe than sorry! And on that note, happy adventures, my friends! Jesslyn Marie is a Bozeman-based photographer and avid outdoor enthusiast, combining these two passions into adventure elopements. Check out her work or get in touch with her on Instagram (@ jesslynmariephoto) or visit her website for more info (

So there you have it! The Ten Essentials (with bonus content) are what is recommended for any outing, but that doesn’t mean you have to carry a huge pack with you every time. A summer day hike, for example, might look something like this for me: mon tan awoman .com | n o v emb er 2 01 9








he man standing at the side of the trail in the Bob Marshall Wilderness on August 3, 2019, was visibly uncomfortable. He appeared to be part of a fishing and rafting excursion when he paused for a mounted group on the trail. He acted like he didn’t know where to look while the group passed. He seemed to look for, but could not identify, the leader of the horse-mounted group. The man acted like he wanted to say something but appeared to be unable to find the words. He ultimately laughed nervously as he scanned the group and then looked away. The group causing such consternation in the man was made up of nine women on horses, some armed. One horsewoman, outfitter Abby Hutton of Spotted Bear Outfitters, was leading a fourmule pack train. Over the three days, the group named themselves “The Buckaroo Babes.” That name did not catch on with the backcountry radio users who communicate between groups to avoid crossing where the trail is narrow or drops off. The men talking to, and sometimes about, Kali Kitchen’s group simply called them “The Women.” The initial shock caused by the group’s composition gave way to banter, then mutual teasing, over Hutton’s radio. Kali Kitchen did not set out to lead a backcountry group exclusively of females through three days and two nights covering 40 miles of trail. When Kitchen started filling the $1,200 slots for the trip, everyone signing up happened to be female.


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Not everyone could wrap their heads around that development immediately. One rider’s husband texted Kitchen about weapons for bear protection on the ride. He asked if the men accompanying the group would be armed and if the women were allowed to carry a gun. Kitchen texted back that his wife was welcome to carry a sidearm if she wanted to and that Kitchen would be armed. The protective husband persisted and asked if the men would be armed and if the men would accompany the women at all times. Kitchen finally asked, “What men?” The husband involved— who authorized the quoting of his texts— then typed “lol.” He exchanged more texts with Kitchen as he adjusted to the information that there really weren’t any men going on the trip. The women who signed up for the excursion were not required to have experience with horses beyond knowing basic horsemanship skills like being able to mount, dismount, stop, and turn. Some of the women had lessons with Kitchen prior to the trip. Kitchen owns Montana Horse Works and has an arena on Whitefish Stage Road near Whitefish, Montana. Kitchen says she had good reason to be comfortable taking novice riders as they would be on Kitchen’s veteran trail horses during the trip. What was more important to Kitchen was that the group members could work as a team and had respect for the horses and the wilderness. Kitchen got the group she wanted with the women pitching in for the work and showing


great appreciation for the environment, their guides, and each other. As the women got to know each other, they learned each of them were professionals in their own fields— including a doctor and a pilot— with a lot of responsibilities on them daily. They all treasured the time away from electronics and work demands. The participants also appreciated the comfortable camping with amenities like cots with air mattresses and food that included chicken marsala and crème brûlée. Charlie Bertaina was one of the new riders on the trip. She’s already planning another excursion and will likely ask that Kitchen’s horse, Hank, be her partner again. Bertaina says she realized five minutes into the trip that her only option in this strange, new environment was to trust Hank and her human guides. She was able to give up control and had a great time. The ride passed almost without incident until the Snow Creek Fire happened. Amy Hooper spotted a tiny plume of smoke soon after lightning started

the fire. Hutton had gone ahead to set up camp, and experienced horsewoman Holly Bigelow raced to Hutton for her radio to notify the Forest Service. A helicopter soon arrived to assess the fire— it was monitored starting when it was only an acre. While the fire grew to more than 1,800 acres, crews did have time to protect historic buildings in the area. Kitchen plans to do about four backcountry excursions per year if there’s enough demand. She isn’t going to designate any of the trips as exclusively for women, but she would like to see another all-female trip develop. Kitchen would like to, again, feel the special level of consensus, cooperation, and gratitude she found with “The Women” who made up “The Buckaroo Babes.”




surviving the holidays with intermittent fasting MINDY COCHRAN | LEVITATION NATION

The holiday season is upon us, which means the emergence of things we love: the call for gratitude, family time, Grandma’s apple pie, and green bean casserole. There’s also things we love less: calories from all of the holiday goodies and the diets that follow. Instead of going down the age ol’ feast-then-diet rabbit hole, what if you found a sustainable eating strategy that kept the holiday weight gain at bay and reduced the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and minimized aging? Intermittent Fasting (IF) is an eating strategy with such bold claims. There are two different types of IF: one where you minimize calories on one or two days per week, and another where you restrict eating to certain hours per day. I have been using the latter strategy known as TimeRestricted Eating (TRE) for a couple of months now, and I have to say that it works great for me and my body.

THE LOW-DOWN. There’s a lot of research happening around IF right now. In addition to weight loss benefits, there’s some indication IF activates a seemingly magical anti-aging and disease-fighting cellular recycling process called autophagy. I’ve been totally nerding out on autophagy, and this is what I’ve gathered: studies have shown that after all glucose stores deplete through fasting, the body turns to its cells for energy. This would be dangerous if we were in an actual starvation state, but this is 21st century


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America, and food is everywhere. So luckily for us, we can fast just long enough for the body to burn up misfolded, pre-cancerous cells and then break the fast before the body burns up good cells and muscle. Sounds like a holy grail, right? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons before you make up your mind.

THE PROS. Looking beyond weight loss and

autophagy. At 41 years old, I had never in my life “forgotten to eat.” My life revolves around food, and IF forces me to be more mindful about what I am eating and when. As someone with little self-control around food, I find IF’s all-ornothing approach to eating works well for me.

THE CONS. Alternatively, not everyone finds

the all-or-nothing approach sustainable. Also, there are inarguably social implications that go along with skipping mealtime. Since we are accustomed to the ritual of breaking bread with friends and family, some people could find IF especially challenging over the holidays.

THE STRATEGIES. Everyone is different,

but if you decide to give IF a try, I want to share my strategies with you: • If you are new to fasting, I recommend starting with an 8 hour fast. If you find fasting is working for you, work your way up to longer fasts and shorter feeding windows.

• You don’t need many calories to sleep, so I suggest doing your fast through the night. • Break your fast with healthy fats like eggs or avocado. • Don’t snack or nibble while you cook as this breaks your fast. It is especially important to be attentive to this one over the holidays. • Up your water intake while you are fasting. Herbal tea is allowed. My favorite teas (Good Earth’s Sweet & Spicy and Stash’s Licorice Spice) are sweet enough for my sugar tooth to drink without any added sweeteners. • Consider taking a probiotic during your feeding window. • Don’t be afraid to exercise while fasting. Exercise accelerates all the benefits of IF!


• Always listen for the signs the body is sending you. Dizziness or lightheadedness can be signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Do not feel guilty about breaking your fast if this happens. • Never fast if you are underweight or pregnant. • Talk to your health care provider before starting IF.

THE BOTTOM LINE. There is no one right way to survive the holidays. Everyone is different and IF may not be the answer for all people. Even if it works for you now, you may need to reassess in the future as age and lifestyle changes. I always encourage you to search for an eating plan that works for you and your body, at this time. In other words: you do you!


There’s still a lot of research and discoveries happening around intermittent fasting and autophagy. These resources are worth checking out even before you talk to your health care provider. • In 2016, Yoshinori Ohsumi received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy. Read more about his research and discoveries in the following press release: prizes/medicine/2016/press-release/ • Dr. Jason Fung’s books: The Obesity Code, The Complete Guide to Fasting, and The Diabetes Code • For additional resources and citations, check out the web article “Intermittent Fasting and Its Beneficial Effects On The Body” by Samantha Ferguson.

Mindy is the founder of Kalispell’s Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catchphrase “fitness is fun” is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. Mindy believes that the “Real Levitation Experience” lies within elevating your health & wellness. Mindy loves to share the expertise she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer and life coach. For more about Mindy or Levitation Nation, please visit

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What is Planetree? Learning more about North Valley Hospital’s Planetree philosophy ALLISON LINVILLE


he Planetree philosophy of patient-centered care is an aspect of North Valley Hospital (NVH) that the Whitefish community helped to integrate prior to building the current hospital facility. The philosophy is community, staff, and leadership driven, and it represents the core value of North Valley Hospital: patient-centered care in a healing environment. Planetree was founded in 1978 by a patient who wanted to make patients true partners in their care to improve health outcomes. Today, Planetree is a part of 700 healthcare organizations across 25 countries, helping to build patient advocacy and a comforting, healing culture in hospitals. North Valley Hospital is well-known as a pillar of patient-centered care in the community. To learn more about what the Planetree philosophy looks like in action, below are a few examples of how patients and the community can experience Planetree.


The Planetree philosophy at North Valley Hospital features ten components, which include the following: • Nurturing and supporting staff • Architectural and healing design • Nutritional aspects of food • Sharing healthcare information • Family, friends, and social support • Spirituality • Healing properties of human touch • Complimentary therapies • Healing arts • Healthy communities These components are evident in the look and feel of the hospital facility, interactions with staff, patient care, and available amenities. For example, many patients have experienced complementary therapies such as dog therapy, massage, fresh-baked cookies, and aromatherapy. Patients and visitors alike appreciate the healthy, delicious food available in the 86

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Valley Café, the 24/7 visitor hours, and the acceptance of family being part of the healing experience. These are just some of the ways that the Planetree philosophy is more visible to patients.


Every year in October, the hospital celebrates Patient-Centered Care Month. During the month, the Planetree committee takes on extra initiatives to reengage staff with the values of Planetree. This usually includes a gift for staff, recognition of how each employee plays a vital role in patient-centered care, and investment in a way to improve the patient experience. Recently, it was new, more modest, and comfortable patient gowns.


Planetree is visible internally, through interactions between staff, leadership, and community partners. Employees at North Valley Hospital uphold a respectful, collaborative culture that is based on the philosophy of patient-centered care. This culture makes the employee experience pleasant and reflects into the patient experience as well. Also, every other year, NVH hosts a Planetree Festival, which celebrates the culture with employees and invites the community to appreciate the unique aspects of the Planetree philosophy at North Valley Hospital. The event fosters relationships with the community that built the local hospital and encouraged the Planetree philosophy from the start.


creating moments of connection


arrying only a ukulele and a few songbooks, Chaplain Heidi makes her way to the memory care unit at one of several assisted living facilities in the Flathead Valley. As she enters the family room of the unit, faces light up and wheelchairs are moved closer. Chaplain Heidi gets things started with a few tunes from yesteryear. What may look like a normal group sing-along is in fact, much more. Each of these patients struggles with remembering events or facts. In some cases, they are completely unresponsive. “It is easy to assume that patients struggling with dementia are largely in their own world and unreachable, however, I have been inspired to seek ways to enter their reality and make a connection,” says Chaplain Heidi, part of the team at Home Options Hospice that works to provide a high quality of life for those in their senior years. Alzheimer’s can be a devastating disease, both for the family and for the person afflicted. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Facts and Figures report, almost half of all American seniors aged 85 and older suffer from Alzheimer’s. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. “Patients have an amazing response to feelings and the related memories,” says Chaplain Heidi. “One of the most effective ways of making a connection is to bring something to a visit for them to experience or interact with. For example, music often has a way of reaching into their feelings and awakens their past to bring about a powerful spiritual connection.” If a patient’s mind is stuck living primarily in their young adulthood, familiar hymns or old folk songs may connect best. If a chaplain can identify that the


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patient is largely reliving their childhood, songs like “Jesus Loves Me” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” can bring a spark of recognition and joy to their eyes. “The music is often remembered and connected with on a heart level, while the mind may still be struggling for bearings,” says Chaplain Heidi. “I have worked with hospice patients with families in the room that later tell me that our interaction was the most they have connected with their loved one in years. It is extremely meaningful, both to the family and for me professionally.” As she strives to find a way to spiritually connect with hospice patients, Chaplain Heidi will often bring in flowers for patients to touch and smell or tasty baked goods that can also help patients connect with a warm memory. While Chaplain Heidi’s approach has been influenced by several books, conferences, and trainings, she found the book “Creating Moments of Joy” by Jolene Brackey to be most valuable. The book urges caregivers and family members to look beyond the challenges of Alzheimer’s and dementia to focus on creating a moment of connection and experience that can bring happiness to both the caregiver and the patient. “Creating these experiences to share is also disarming and can assist in helping hospice patients feel connected with his or her visitor,” says Chaplain Heidi. “I have also learned that it is far better to honor their current reality than to waste time striving to correct facts. It is far more effective to focus on sharing words of reassurance and comfort.” For more information on Home Options Hospice and their approach to caring for your loved one, call (406) 751-4200.

CLOSE TO HOME WHEN IT MATTERS MOST When your child is sick, you’ll do anything to stay by their side. Pediatric specialists at Montana Children’s work in your community so kids get advanced care close by, instead of taking lengthy and expensive trips out of state. Every child deserves

the best. That’s why we have made it our mission to bring unmatched pediatric care home to our Montana families.














































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Profile for Montana Woman Magazine

Montana Woman Magazine, November 2019. Issue No. 300.  

Heritage: culture, place, and land.

Montana Woman Magazine, November 2019. Issue No. 300.  

Heritage: culture, place, and land.