The Billings Outpost

Justice at Cardwell Ranch

“Justice at Cardwell Ranch,” by BJ. Daniels. Harlequin Enterprises Limited, Ontario, Canada. Paperback, 216 pages. $5.25.

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

No matter how many books you read, whole genres can pass you by. My wife used to read a lot of romance novels and occasionally I would dip my nose into one just to see what was going on. They might as well have been written in Sanskrit. Nothing much there penetrated my brain.

So it came as a total surprise to me to learn that Montana has a bestselling romance writer right here in Malta. I am not even certain that “romance” is the right word because the genre seems to contain genres within the genre.

Anyway, her name is B.J. Daniels, and she has written 26 novels in the Harlequin Intrigue series, plus ebooks. According to press materials, her first book set on the Cardwell Ranch in the Gallatin Canyon was read by more than 2 million people, as opposed, apparently, to selling more than 2 million copies.

I don’t know how many people have read the sequel, “Justice at Cardwell Ranch,” but I am one of them – just another Outpost service to its readers.

Presumably, what goes on here will be familiar ground for Ms. Daniels’ fans. Jordan Cardwell is a hunk with a past who returns to Montana for, among more mysterious purposes, his 20-year high school reunion. When he is found standing over the fresh corpse of a high school classmate, he becomes a murder suspect. Investigating the case is an attractive deputy, who feels her heartstrings tug at the sight of him.

Meanwhile, his sister, who is holding on to the family ranch, is married to the marshal, who has the irresistible name of Hud Savage. She is profoundly pregnant when another sister shows up unexpectedly, fresh baby in hand.

Let’s see, what else? There are stuck-up old high school classmates, a car crash, ancient vandalism, a possible kidnapping, yet another family member who shows up, another new baby and so on.

Having made it to the end of the book, I’m still not quite sure what to make of all this. Ms. Daniels, who started as a newspaper journalist, certainly has the skills.

The novel trips along without a hitch. And perhaps it isn’t giving too much away to note that things turn out mostly OK for the principals at the end.

But what does it all mean? Guess I will have to wait for the Sanskrit version to come out.



Last Updated on Saturday, 15 June 2013 10:09

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Edward Adrift

“Edward Adrift,” by Craig Lancaster. Amazon Publishing, Las Vegas, Nev. Paperback, 320 pages. $9.99 digital.

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

I must confess that I wasn’t too excited about picking up Craig Lancaster’s third novel, “Edward Adrift.” His first novel, “600 Hours of Edward,” was an unexpected delight, a humorous but poignant look into the mind of a most unusual character.

His second novel, “The Summer Son,” seemed to me a step back, one that replowed much of the same emotional ground with a plot that was at once too predictable and too farfetched, a deadly combination.

That novel was followed by an excellent collection of short fiction, “Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure.” So a return to the main character of his first novel seemed to me like another step backward.

But, dang it, Edward sucked me in again. He is, for those unfamiliar with the first novel, a middle-aged Billings man with Asperger’s syndrome who is socially inept and a creature of strict habits, including keeping a daily weather log and watching old TV episodes on a strict schedule.

The first novel pulled Edward out of his solitary life with a series of unexpected events, including friendly new neighbors and the death of his father. In this novel, Edward is further extracted from the careful shell he has constructed.

His old neighbors, it turns out, have moved to Idaho, and the boy, now in seventh grade, has been expelled from school. Edward had struck up an odd friendship with the boy, and he is called upon to see if can help get the boy through troubled times.

The call comes at a fortuitous time. Edward is, as the title suggests, adrift. He has lost his job at The Billings Gazette. He has a new therapist. His friends have moved away.

Although his inheritance from his father has left him wealthy, his constricted lifestyle leaves him with little use for money.

His Idaho visit turns into a much longer trip, the result of a desire to revisit the town in Colorado where his father keeps appearing in his dreams. Along the way, Edward achieves further measures of human empathy, greater independence from his controlling mother and even the stirrings of romance.

This is all high ground for such a limited hero, and both the character and author put themselves at considerable risk. A slow journey to human development involves danger at every step, of excess sentimentality, of strained credibility, of false redemption.

Mr. Lancaster avoids each of these traps, handling Edward’s growing independence with skill and humor. While some of the character’s quirks can annoy even the most loyal reader, it’s difficult to avoid being pulled in by Edward’s candor, his intelligence and even his weaknesses.

Mr. Lancaster’s years as a newspaper copy editor also show through. Although the copy I read was an uncorrected proof, I found scarcely even a single typo, certainly something one cannot take for granted in today’s wide-open publishing world.

Mr. Lancaster has triumphed again. With remarkable speed, he has made himself into one of Montana’s most important writers.  


Last Updated on Saturday, 15 June 2013 10:03

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Breaking Point

“Breaking Point,” by C.J. Box. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. Hardcover, 370 pages. $26.95.

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

Fans of C.J. Box’s 13 mysteries about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett know that Joe has been pushing his limits for some time now. Increasingly, the warden has been taking on crazed environmentalists, wacky laws and boneheaded bureaucrats.

He has found himself sympathizing more with this who break the law than with those the law is supposed to protect. He has taken on wind-power advocates and anti-hunting fanatics while finding himself sympathizing with survivalists who ignore game laws – and other laws, too.

In “Breaking Point,” as the book’s title indicates, Joe finally goes over the edge. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that Joe seems to become something other than the game warden readers have come to know.

Mr. Box plots his books with intricate care, and this one is no exception. It’s based on an actual case involving an Idaho couple who successfully battled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Mr. Box’s fictionalized account, corrupt EPA officials conspire to deprive a Wyoming couple of use of their land. Shots are fired, agents die, and most of the book revolves around efforts to track the purported killer, who is on the run in the Bighorn Mountains.

This is familiar turf for both Mr. Pickett and Mr. Box, who is a master at depicting chase scenes through the wilderness. This time, he throws a forest fire into the mix, compounding violence with sheer terror.

There’s a fine twist at the end, one that left at least this reader thinking that he ought to have seen it coming but didn’t. And the final pages are meant to raise doubts that Joe Pickett will ever work as a game warden again.

Mr. Box says he wrote “Breaking Point” in a “red-tinged fury” after hearing of the Idaho case. That may not be his best writing mode. He is compulsively readable, far too disciplined a writer to let his emotions get the best of him, but the same doesn’t necessarily hold for his characters.

Joe Pickett is the straightest of arrows, a dedicated family man, a reliable hand in a crisis, unswerving in his dedication to justice. If he decides that government service is too corrupt to deserve his talents, then what hope is there for real reform?

Let’s face it, Joe: Bad guys don’t just work for the government. They show up everywhere. No matter where you turn, you may find yourself working under some of them.

In a fistful of his recent books, Mr. Box has made villains of those who are supposed to be protecting the environment. Let’s hope he remembers that sometimes the bad guys are those who are out to despoil it.




Last Updated on Saturday, 15 June 2013 09:51

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Short Takes

Back in Beartooth Country

(Farcountry Press, Helena)

Gary Ferguson of Red Lodge is a distinguished writer, but his foreword for “Beartooth Country: The Absaroka and Beartooth Ranges” runs a scant two pages. This book lives or dies with the photographs by Mervin D. Coleman of Red Lodge, who has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years.

Fortunately for the the fortunes of the book, the photos are gorgeous, sometimes stunning. For the amateur photographer, it’s a good lesson in how pros manage to see things the rest of us miss.

This paperback book runs just 80 pages. For a coffeetable style book, it’s a bargain at $12.95. You are bound to find something here worth a look.

New children’s book

 (Farcountry Press, Helena)

“Have You Ever Seen a Bear with a Purple Smile?” is the question posed in the new children’s book by author Laura Budds. With charming art by illustrator Kadie Zimmerman, the rhyming tale follows two young bunnies on the hunt for a bear with a purple smile.

Bears get purple smiles from eating sweet, juicy huckleberries that grow in secret patches in the woods. The brave bunnies hop through the woods, learning about huckleberry picking and purple smiles along the way.

Ranch living with modern touch

 (Flying Diamond Books, Hettinger, N.D.)

Lay out your bedroll under a pine tree beneath the starry skies of Montana, as coyotes howl from the Rimrocks, cattle graze nearby, and horses nicker softly and stamp their feet in the darkness. The spirit of the West comes alive in the new book, “Montana Stirrups, Sage and Shenanigans: Western Ranch Life in a Forgotten Era,” as sisters Francie Brink Berg, Anne Brink Krickel and Jeanie Brink Thiessen write of ranch life through a legacy of pioneer values and traditions along with personal stories of working cattle, horses, wildlife and western humor.

New book on Yellowstone

(Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.)

More than 30 contributors, including several Montana State University Bozeman faculty members and alumni, were involved in “Yellowstone’s Wildlife in Transition,” a new book focusing on the changing ecology and management approaches in Yellowstone National Park.

The book describes in layman’s terms how management policies have evolved since Yellowstone National Park was created in the 1870s. Findings from studies over the past 30 years have influenced decisions and public opinion for the benefit of society, and the intent of this book is to translate that science into 21st century stewardship.


Montana mapmaker chronicles eastern Montana history

(Farcountry Press, Helena)

When Michael Bugenstein began researching the Kalfell family with intentions to write a short family history, he found a story larger than he anticipated. The result became “Since the Days of the Buffalo,” a comprehensive history of eastern Montana and a broader look into eastern Montana ranching.

Within its pages are accounts of tribal and military history, ranching and homesteading history, early railroading and outlaw history, an in-depth account of the 1920s Montana economic collapse, the effect of Roosevelt’s New Deal on Eastern Montana and the challenges the Kalfell Ranch has faced since the 1930s.


Get the Inside Scoop on the Best of All that Glacier Has to Offer

(Farcountry Press, Helena)

“Glacier is a landscape of superlatives,” states Alan Leftridge, a former park ranger and author of  “The Best of Glacier National Park.” The book describes the best day hikes, nature trails, backpack trips, boat tours, flora and fauna, historic sites, and more. With sections on activities for kids and further adventures in Waterton Lakes National Park, Glacier’s sister park just across the border in Canada, Leftridge’s love of sharing his passion for the outdoors shines through.


Last Updated on Saturday, 15 June 2013 10:01

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Eating roadkill may be legal, but is it safe?


By ARI LEVAUX - @arilevaux

The Montana Legislature recently passed a bill legalizing the salvage, consumption, and/or donation to charity of animals hit and killed by cars-aka roadkill. Gov. Steve Bullock signed it into law in April, and it takes effect Oct. 1.

The law applies to deer, elk, antelope and moose, and puts the state in the company of Alaska, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, Florida, and West Virginia in condoning the consumption of vehicle-tenderized meat.

With deer populations at all-time highs in many regions – and car vs. deer collisions skyrocketing as well – it’s possible other states will follow suit with roadkill bills of their own.

Salvaging roadkill makes sense for several reasons. Wild game is some of the healthiest meat there is, and it’s a shame to let it rot by the road. Eating roadkill could save families a lot of money they would otherwise have spent on meat, which might have something to do with why the beef industry lobbied against the bill, citing food-safety concerns.

In addition to feeding people, roadkill salvage would protect the lives of eagles, ravens, coyotes and other scavengers that typically feast on roadside carcass, and are sometimes killed themselves in the process. And the bill stands to save taxpayer dollars, as every carcass removed by a meat salvager is one fewer that road crews have to deal with - which typically entails hauling it to the dump for composting.

While the beef industry’s food-safety concerns may be motivated by the bottom line, there are, in fact, health issues to consider regarding roadkill consumption. Additionally, there are ethical issues to contend with, such as the possibility that some idiot might intentionally hit an animal as an easy way to harvest meat or collect antlers.

The way the law is written, a law-enforcement official must issue a permit to would-be roadkill eaters before a carcass can be legally removed from the scene. And the law specifies that the collision must be accidental. But it’s not out of the question – or unprecedented – that motorists might decide not to hit the brakes, especially if the animal has an impressive set of antlers. It’s amazing how irrational some people can act when a nice rack is involved.

But such behavior, while punishable by law, is also self-limiting by the survival instinct. Anyone who’s crashed into a deer knows how fun that can be.

As far as the meat itself is concerned, the deer you hit yourself is more likely to be salvageable, while eating a carcass you happen upon raises many unanswerable questions. The most important of these are when and how did the animal die?

The less you know about the answers, the weaker your ability to evaluate whether the meat is worth dealing with. This is especially true in warmer seasons and warmer regions, which is why I was surprised to learn that Florida and West Virginia allow the harvest of roadkill; heat is one of the main enemies of meat quality.

As a hunter, not only do I want my meat to be safe, I want it to be perfect. Putting perfect meat in the freezer is a bit like pitching a perfect game in baseball. Where in baseball if just one opposing player gets on base the magic is lost, with meat there is a long sequence of steps that must be completed correctly to ensure top quality.

Whether the meat is acquired via hunting or car crash, the forces that create bad flavor and spoilage are virtually identical. Despite my earlier joke about vehicle-tenderized meat, the part of the animal that took the brunt of the collision is likely to be ruined – resembling a wound more than something you want to eat. Spoilage and bad flavor can emanate throughout the body from the point of contact, especially in the heat.

But heat spoilage can happen even in mild weather, because a dead animal takes a long time to cool down. A hunter wants to open the body cavity as soon as possible to let the body heat escape, and the same would be true for roadkill.

Until you open it up, you have no idea what it looks like inside. It could be a total mess, with exploded guts and traumatized meat. Maybe the motorist who hit the deer managed to just run over the deer’s head, but it’s likely there will be some damaged meat. If the funk has not spread, you can probably cut away the bruised part. And if you’re too late, a trained nose will alert you of that when you open it up.

Montana Sen. Kendall Van Dyk, D-Billings, used a similar gauge to express his skepticism of the roadkill bill. “Despite its good intention, it doesn’t pass the smell test for me,” he told the AP, citing food safety concerns.

It’s find it funny that some supposedly freedom-loving politicians wanted to deny us a right that’s freely enjoyed by ravens, coyotes and other scavengers - especially when preventing waste could be considered a conservative approach. But in this case the majority were in favor of freedom – the freedom to be conservative, no less. “It really is a sin to waste a good meat,” state Sen. Larry Jent, D-Bozeman, told the AP.

If safety concerns truly motivated the opposition to the roadkill bill, it’s the meat itself that needs to pass the sniff test. And rather than make people drive by good meat so they can purchase their packaged pink slime at the store, it makes sense to educate the public on how to gauge meat quality as best they can, and allow the judicious eating of roadkill. It’s not a new idea, but is an idea whose time has come.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:39

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Physical therapists practice new techniques

By JANE WHITE - The Billings Outpost

K. Kelli Richardson, a physical therapist with 24 years of experience, recently attended a two-day conference in Livingston presented by Steven P. Ferdig of Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

The conference, entitled “The Cervical Spine: Mobility versus Stability,” covered 15 neck mobilization techniques for the neck, upper back, shoulders, chest and face, including the jaw, a site of pain about which many physical therapy patients complain.

At the conference, participants learned how to assess movement to determine specifically in the cervical spine what the range of movement - or lack thereof - is in the patient. The assessment techniques they learned contributed to physical therapists’ treatment plans and may alleviate suffering patients with chronic neck pain.

Ms. Richardson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of California at North Ridge, previously practiced physical therapy at a Pasadena, Calif., hospital for 12 years, owned her own practice in California and has been practicing for 10 years with Lance Hendricks, owner of Montana Physical Therapy, 2370 Ave. C, in Billings.

Mr. Hendricks, who holds a master’s degree in physical therapy, said, “There is new hope for neck pain. Many patients come to us 15 years after a car accident and they still have pain. They tell us, ‘I went to physical therapy and did exercises, but it still hurts.’”

He added, “We are doing mobilization techniques – Steve is teaching neck mobilization ... . It is the combination of approaches that we use: hands-on physical therapy, neck mobilization, exercises [and soft tissue warming via ultra-sound] that make the difference [in relieving pain for patients].”

Ms. Richardson said she learned at the conference how to stabilize one end of the joint with one hand and the healing effects of gentle, slow, oscillating movements, sometimes with the patient sitting up, sometimes sitting down; not fast, not surprising movements. “It is a comfortable, low velocity, oscillation, done very slowly...The primary difference is mobilization... with low velocity,” she said.

People who complain of neck pain may have incurred injuries from an accident or by overburdening a certain part of the body. Richardson said, “Car wreck victims, exercise victims, overuse syndrome by office workers, and even arthritis sufferers ... we could even [apply neck mobilization] to some extent to people with arthritis.” Conventional physical therapy is about doing exercises and stretches, said Mr. Hendricks. On the contrary, “manual therapy – also called hands-on therapy – is different,” said Richardson. “It is not a fast, high-velocity, surprising manipulation of a joint – the kind you might get from a chiropractor,” she said.

“Chiropractors use high-velocity maneuvers to align the spine to cure all types of ailments of the body – we do the spine and beyond, including shoulders, ankles and knees. The primary difference is mobilization vs. manipulation – it’s a big difference.” she said. “We move the joint slowly and [focus on] soft tissue mobilization of the muscles, tendons and fascia (soft connective tissue in the body). Also warming the tissue with ultra-sound (ultrasonic waves that provide deep heat and increase blood circulation to a joint or muscles) and then doing manual therapy afterwards relieve pain – it’s the combination, not just exercise and not just massage by itself and not just chiropractic by itself. That does not do it,” she said.

Hendricks agreed. Regarding the two-day conference in Livingston, he said, “Steve is teaching ‘Mobilizing Stiff Joints,’ and Kelli went to learn mobilization. We are doing mobilization techniques. It is the combined approach of exercises – the patients’ homework – hands-on therapy and neck mobilization ... that gets the patients where they need to be,” said Hendricks.

Hendricks recounted the history of physical therapy: it began in World War I when rehabilitative aides were assigned to prisoners in prisoner of war camps. The whole idea of physical therapy spread worldwide, according to Hendricks. Physician’s assistants, he said, also originated in the U.S. Army. Later on, in World War II, Joseph Pilates was German POW imprisoned in Staten Island, N.Y. Many people of Sicilian descent who lived on Staten Island in that era occasionally spoke with German POWs through the facility’s chain- link fences.

While in Staten Island, Pilates, according to Hendricks, treated his fellow prisoners and sought to relieve their pain. The transition from PT to hands-on or manual therapy emerged in the late 1970s. Sadly, said Hendricks, “It’s about the money. IT is a lot easier to make money with your rooms filled with people exercising away instead of one-on-one hands-on manual therapy. “Hands-On Therapy is a specialization itself within the field of physical therapy,” said Hendricks.

He and Richardson can be contacted at 248-8804 or go to

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:37

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Survivor warns about stroke

Department of Public Health - and Human Services                                                              

Don “Babe” Weinberger and his wife, Eloise, wish they had known then what they know now: how to recognize a stroke. Eleven years ago a stroke changed Don’s life. He is a former truck driver and mechanic who raised three sons and a daughter on the Fort Peck Reservation.

For Don, and for many survivors of stroke, recovery continues for the rest of his life. Half of the people who suffer a stroke are moderately to severely impaired, according to the National Stroke Association.

“Still have a tough time with my right side,” Don says. But Don’s main frustration is the lingering effect on his speech. “I can’t hardly talk,” he explains in an earnest fashion, his hands mobile, reaching for words. “It’s hard to find what I want to say. The thought in my brain … doesn’t connect with my lips.”

“I didn’t expect to be a speech therapist,” says Don’s wife, Eloise, with good humor. She has helped him with his recovery, from learning to walk again to practicing speech. His sons also helped take care of Don during his early recovery.

Before his stroke, like baseball’s famous “Babe,” Don was used to having the muscle power to do what he wanted to do. Don’s decreased strength in his right arm is what finally signaled Eloise to call an ambulance. Don was taken to Billings where a doctor told him he had had a stroke. It was three days after the start of his symptoms.

Most strokes are caused by a blood clot that cuts off the flow of blood and oxygen to an area of the brain. Brain cells begin to die within seconds. In twelve minutes, 23 million brain cells die. In an hour, 115 million brain cells die. Stopping this brain damage is the reason immediate treatment for stroke is critical.

Because each hemisphere of the brain has neural connections to one side of the body — the opposite side — stroke victims often experience weakness or numbness on only their left side or right side. Or their face may look crooked. This one-sided effect is an important clue that the problem is stroke.

Don recalls a feeling his “mind was all tangled up.” He woke up the morning after a day of hauling railroad ties and he couldn’t think or talk right. Slurred speech, confusion or words gone haywire are also clues that point to stroke.

He felt so bad he went to bed and stayed there. “We didn’t know what was happening,” Don says now. “People need to know the signs of stroke and know what to do.”

Don still works on cars and drives. He’s proud that he was able to get a ’92 van running again with a new engine and transmission about six years ago.

“You can learn to live with it – and prayer has helped me through – but better to learn what it is before it happens,” Don advises.

“If I had known, I would have got him to the hospital right away,” Eloise adds. “Now we know

that time lost is brain lost.”

If you suspect a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. To learn more, see or call 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653).

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:36

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Clinic in joint venture

Billings Clinic and RegionalCare Hospital Partners, a national hospital system, have announced a new joint venture that draws on the resources of both organizations.

The new relationship will provide multiple options for health care organizations in the northern Rockies region to become affiliated with the newly formed entity – Billings Clinic RegionalCare LLC.

This new relationship does not affect the governance or ownership of Billings Clinic or any of its current affiliate relationships across Montana and northern Wyoming, a news release said. The new arrangement offers potential partners expanded clinical services; access to physician integration, support, and recruitment; clinical protocols; and quality improvement systems.

Additionally, the new entity offers operational expertise and access to the capital needed for such growth strategies, including technology and facility expansion and renovation, the release said.

“Billings Clinic has a longstanding commitment to partnering with local communities to enhance access to quality health care. To build on this commitment, we have formed this relationship with RegionalCare in large part because of our shared values,” said Nicholas Wolter, chief executive officer of Billings Clinic. “This creates an additional opportunity for other organizations and communities that have an interest in exploring a relationship with Billings Clinic,” Wolter added.

Wolter and RegionalCare Executive Chairman Martin Rash noted that the joint venture fits with a national trend of excellent health systems like Billings Clinic working with national health care companies like RegionalCare to combine their expertise and capital.

“RegionalCare brings extensive management experience, along with physician recruitment strategies and access to capital at a time when many communities are in need of such assistance,” Wolter said.

“The ever-changing health care environment requires new and innovative approaches and alliances. Working together, Billings Clinic and RegionalCare can provide a path forward for organizations seeking collaborative solutions to the health care challenges of today and tomorrow,” Rash said.

Billings Clinic currently has partnerships with nine other hospitals and multiple branch and outreach clinics serving patients in Montana, Wyoming and the western Dakotas. RegionalCare Hospital Partners is a system of full-service community hospitals in non-urban markets across the country.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:35

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ArtWalk season opens

The 19th season of ArtWalk kicks off with the Spring ArtWalk from 5-9 p.m. Friday, May 3, in Downtown Billings.

Twenty-seven galleries will feature receptions, free to the public, to honor their artists and the artists’ new work. Maps are available at all of the participating galleries and on Page 17 of this issue of The Outpost. The artWALKERSbus will begin its free ride to the galleries at 5 p.m. at the Good Earth Market.

Terpsichore Dance returns to ArtWalk and will perform on Montana Avenue. The following galleries are offering a drawing for a free gift from their stop on ArtWalk: Lore Law, Stephen Haraden, Barjon’s, Billings Food Bank, Billings Gallery of Fine Art, Big Sky Cheap Tees, and Catherine Louisa Gallery. Visit to download a copy of the map and plan your self-guided tour.

Highlights of the ArtWalk will include:

The Billings Art Association will hold its annual auction to benefit the “Images: Art in the Schools” grant at CTA. Featured artists will include Jeannette Magstadt and Phil Bell. In addition, a string quintet from the Billings Community Orchestra will play.

Kennedy’s Stained Glass will present new spring-inspired art glass from Susan Kennedy Sommerfeld and her team of craftswomen.

The Apple Gallery in the Good Earth Market will feature “GEM of a Staff” through July 26. The artistic endeavors of the staff will include stained glass, oil paintings, metalwork, photography, pottery and fused dichroic glass jewelry. The Deli Special will be served beginning at 4:30. Live music is by Peter Tolton.

The Yellowstone Art Museum will open its doors, free of charge to ArtWalkers, to view “Broken Brushes: German Art from Kaiser to Hitler” and “Insomnia” by Michael Zansky. Also, Joanne Berghold from Livingston, author of “Old Windows-Old Doors,” will be on hand to sign copies of her book. Desja Eagle Tail will provide live music at Jam at the YAM.

Level 504 will host an array of artists and open studios: Aaron Nathan, Laurie DeWar, Syd Ayers (fine woodworking), Michelle Dyk (installation), Matt Taggart (installation and performance), Nick Olson and No Creative (photography studio), Blake Eden (handcrafted small clutches and handbags) and Lynne Thorpe, artist and former instructor from Northwest College in Powell, WY. Live music from Justin Choriki and Donna Ayers.

Barjon’s guest artist will be Billings’ wood carver, Russ Bessette. Owner of Wyoming Willow Sticks, he does custom carving on diamond willow and other woods. Each product is the result of a multi-step process. He harvests his own wood, strips the bark, hand tools are used to shape and refine, adding embellishments and finishing it off by hand with an oil finish. He graduated from Montana State University Billings in early childhood education and received his master of arts degree in Chinese history from the University of Colorado.

The Catherine Louisa Gallery will present the work of Ted Waddell. Waddell’s abstract subjects merge with his illusionary background that implies the vastness and simplicity of the Western landscape.

Sandstone Gallery will feature gallery artist and graphite artist Jeanie Broveak. As an artist, Broveak believes that her special gift for drawing is a style that brings to life the very character of each subject. Those who have seen her work comment on the way her created portraits have “eyes that talk to you from the paper” or subjects that “pop” out at viewers.

Guest artist will be Cliff Potts. Potts was raised in Custer and, at age 15, he contracted polio. He lost the use of his arms and legs and spent many months in an iron lung. Today he uses a tongue-controlled electric “golden arm” to manipulate his own left arm and produces original pen and ink, watercolors and oils, as well as limited edition prints and cards. He has a bachelor’s degree in art from MSU Billings and a master’s degree in counseling.

Gallery Interiors will feature The Belt Mountain Rustic Home Furnishings, a regional business that creates unique home furnishings from harvested and found antlers. This is functional art that is also beautiful and Russ Friede is the artist behind these one-of-a-kind pieces. Friede has always been an avid hunter and horn collector. Out of his passion for horn collecting, he developed a desire to build and create home furnishings from the antlers gathered.

He has designed and built table and floor lamps, chandeliers, coffee and occasional tables, cribbage boards, and candelabras made from antlers. Friede and his wife Kelli run their business from their home in White Sulphur Springs.

MSU Billings Potters’ Guild and Red Lodge Clay Center residents will exhibit at the del Alma Gallery & Studio. The Red Lodge Clay residents were able to perform a two-day workshop in the beginning of April at MSU Billings demonstrating their techniques to the Potters’ Guild.

Jens Studio & Gallery presents “Give Me Color!!!” through May. Both abstract and realistic, this exhibit is an interaction of color, pattern, form, and design. See it in Sue La Fountain’s metal sculpture, Lila Carpenter’s cabochon pendants, Lisa Ernst’s hand-etched pottery, Jenny Moller’s acrylic landscapes, Frances Boetcher’s bold floral paintings, and Gerald Kindsfather’s sculptural forms in wood, metal, or fiberglass.

Underground Culture Krew opens its first ArtWalk exhibit at 2814 Third Ave. N. by featuring the work of artist, art educator (public schools and college level), and gallery owner from Shell, Wyo., Karyne Dunbar. Her work has been purchased by the Bradford Brinton Museum and the Yellowstone Art Museum. The President of Ireland presented her bronze of Celtic warrior Queen Maeve to the Granuaille Center on the West coast of Ireland. “It is important to me that my works provoke thought. World mythology is a source of inspiration to me, particularly the Celtic which forms my heritage.” Gallery artists Sonni Senger, Vincent Severo, Gloria Mang, Kristin Rude, Sheri Gustke, Nic Beckman, Emma Prosser, Jack Sease and Cyrem Graffiti will also be exhibiting new works.

Stop by the Stephen Haraden Studio to view his latest completed pieces as well as works in progress. Also for the first time, see Haraden’s miniature gallery of small framed paintings priced at $50.00 or less.

Lore Law Firm hosts a reception for Billings painter Sarah Morris. “I’ve spent years looking out at the endless miles of visibility in this ‘Last Best Place.”

As you view my art, I hope you will experience the feeling of being a Montanan, because it is a beautiful feeling to possess.”

Calvin John Treiber, Billings’ native and a child that grew up next to the Yellowstone River, will exhibit at the McCormick Café.

Chinatown Art Gallery will show an array of local emerging and established artists. Gloria Maixg (jewelry), Coila Evans (paintings), Susanne McPherson (jewelry), Amy Drake (photography), Terry Zee Lee (jewelry and paintings), Dominique Paulas (wildlife paintings), Fred DeFauw (paintings), Lori Blaylock (pottery), and Rick Williams (metal art).

The Jason Jam Gallery, on the second floor of the Carlin Hotel, will present “The 100 Drawings in 100 Days” for the May ArtWalk. 100 original pen and ink drawings that were produced between Jan. 1 and April 10, 2013, will be on view.

Big Sky Cheap Tees will feature photographer Casey Page and artisan Amber Kober as their first ArtWalk artists. Casey Page began her photography experience under her grandmother’s guidance in Sandpoint, Idaho. In the 1990s she honed her skills by recording her trips to Europe, Mexico, and Africa. She launched her photojournalism career after graduating from Beloit College in 2003 and is on the staff of the Billings Gazette. Her exhibit will include photographs of animals up for adoption at the Billings Animal Rescue Kare (BARK). “I chose a white backdrop and simple lighting to make the colors and features of each animal jump out of the photograph.” Amber Kober created a shop Etsy ( called Day Old Tee in October 2011 and has been making upcycled accessories from old T-shirts ever since.

Toucan Gallery will feature the fused glass work of Bozeman artist Kathy Burk. After receiving a degree in interior design and working in that field for many years, Burk found herself increasingly frustrated by the available selection of lamps and lighting fixtures. She learned how to work with glass and designed and built her own.

Enchanted by the colors and textures available as raw material in the glass medium, Burk was propelled in to a new career as a glass artist. An ongoing experiment with the relationship of design, light, and emotion is taking place in her studio as she attempts to make meaning materialize from the alchemy of heat, color, and glass. A variety of vessels and lamps will be on display for ArtWalk.

Purple Sage Gallery will feature the work of gallery artists Janet Bedford, Robert Tompkins, John Felten and new member, Michael Stanish. One of Bedford’s favorite subjects is the buffalo and several of her buffalo paintings will be on display.

Tompkins will present a collection of floral paintings. John Felten continues to perfect his marquetry and adds a beautiful crane decorative box to his works available at the gallery. Landscapes in oil by Michael Stanish will be available. Other gallery artists are Greg Eiselein, Thomas English, Diana Mysse, Tana Patterson, Dione Roberts, Neil Patterson, Steve Schrepferman, Carolyn Thayer, Shirle Wempner, Brenda Wolf, Phil Smith and Barbara Gerard-Mitchell and Susan Germer. Refreshments will be served.

The Billings Gallery of Fine Art, located in the Babcock Theater Building, will present the work of Montana artist, Wayne Snowbird. Originally from New Mexico, his sculpture and fine jewelry reflect his native southwestern heritage.

The gallery will also be hosting the Billings Elks Lodge Annual Elk Poster Contest. “The Choice 4 Me is Drug Free: Living a Healthy Lifestyle.” Works by artists in grades one through 12 will be judged by Mayor Tom Hanel and Elks president, Al Kirsche.

Susan Germer will open her studio in the Carlin Hotel and show new work. Fine silver jewelry, original note cards, bead embroidery, paintings and more will all be on view.

Germer has been creating fine silver jewelry from precious metal clay since 2004 and is certified as an instructor. She teaches adult classes at the Yellowstone Art Museum and jewelry making for ages 8-14 at the Summer Art Academy held on the campus of Rocky Mountain College.

Marcasa Clothing, in its first ArtWalk show, will present the work of photographer Brooke Moore. Moore’s work primarily consists of wedding, portrait, and commercial photography. “My favorite subject to photograph or paint has always been people. People are complex. They are full of emotion, expression, and history. I love capturing that for them, because those images are reminders, moments of their own personal history.”

Other galleries to visit during the Spring ArtWalk are The Billings Food Bank, Guido’s Pizza next door to Pug Mahon’s and Navigate Art/Unreal.

For more information see Billings ArtWalk on Facebook or visit or call 259-6563.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 20:10

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How to cook a rattlesnake

By ARI LEVAUX -@arilevaux

A neighbor in New Mexico once told me that it’s bad luck, not to mention bad form, to kill a rattlesnake.

Unfortunately, he told me this after I’d already killed one.

My neighbor had lived on that mountain most of his life, and he was at peace, if not in love, with its snakes, including rattlers. Although he’s never been bitten, he has lost dogs.

The snakes were here first, he told me, and they’re better for the landscape than we are. If you kill one, he said, you will be the last thing it sees, and your image will remain in its eyes. If another snake looks at those dead eyes, it will know who killed it.

The rattlesnake I had killed was sleeping in the garden, beneath a tomato plant, when my wife noticed it.

There’s something about a snake in the garden, even to a Hebrew-school dropout like myself, that’s creepier than a snake anywhere else. It didn’t help that wifey was barefoot and pregnant.

The snake wasn’t bothering her, she said, so she continued picking tomatoes peacefully, with frequent glances toward the slumbering serpent.

Although she was pretty chill about the whole thing, when she told me my lizard brain took over. A better man would have captured the snake and moved it to safer turf, but I felt nothing but fear, and I didn’t know how to catch one. I grabbed a square-edged shovel and used the flat blade to pin the snake behind its head. I finished it with a machete, and threw the head into an arroyo behind the house. I tossed the body into the chicken yard, next to a boulder where I keep the water dish.

I had thought the hens might peck at the dead snake, as they often do with meat scraps, but they wanted nothing to do with it. For about 10 minutes the headless body continued to writhe slowly in the dust, which did not entice the chickens any closer.

As the days went by, the girls continued to avoid the snake, which sank into the dirt in front of the rock. I had to move the water dish so they would drink, but I figured it would start to rot soon enough, and the smell and insects would draw the chickens in for a snack. As the snake faded from view, I let it disappear from my list of things to do.

When my neighbor told me not to kill rattlesnakes, I felt bad about it, and promised myself I’d never do it again. And I hoped no other rattler would find the severed head in the arroyo and see my reflection in its eyes.

A few weeks later, arriving home from a night out, I went into the chicken yard to lock the coop. The car’s headlights were on so I could see.

As I passed the dead snake was, I narrowly missed stepping on another one. A live one.

It hissed violently, its mouth open wide, and rattled furiously. The rattle was surprisingly high-pitched. So was the screech I let out as I jumped onto a nearby boulder.

I didn’t know if the snake had come for me, the chickens, or the eggs they were incubating. But the coop is much closer to the house than the garden is, my wife was even more pregnant than she’d been, and I was pissing in my pants. I never, for a second, considered not killing it.

When I moved in with the shovel, the snake struck it like a bolt of lightning. My hands felt the shock and my ears heard the ping of fangs on metal.

I backed off, grabbed some baseball-size rocks, and pelted the snake. After a few hits it was stunned, and I went back in with the shovel. Just like that, I’d done it again.

This time I buried the head.

I skinned and gutted the body. It was my first time cleaning a snake, but it was hardly different from any other animal. What remained was little more than a hollow tube, defined by a dense shield of delicate, circular ribs covered in a thin layer of flesh. I soaked it in a pot of salt water. After a few hours I rinsed it, let it air-dry, and put it in the fridge.

The next day I threw the snake on the grill alongside some burgers. It tasted almost like chicken, cliché be damned. But it was a bit tough, and difficult to extract in decent-sized pieces. I had intentionally cooked the snake with no seasoning, wanting to experience its true flavor, and because the meal was as much communion as gastronomic adventure.

The unflavored snake was just a single note compared to the symphony of a well-constructed burger, but I was just glad I hadn’t puked it up. I put the rest in the fridge and slept on it. The answer arrived on a run the next morning.

The prickly pear cactus fruit were ripe and purple. Coyotes had gobbled all but the most inaccessible ones, which I gathered. (If you can’t get prickly pear, use apricots).

I simmered the snake in water for about two hours, until the flesh was soft. I strained the water and teased the flesh off the bones, ending up with less than a cup of snake meat.

I baked the meat at 350 in a cast-iron skillet. Meanwhile, I scraped the prickles off the prickly pears with a butter knife under the faucet. When the fruits were clean I added them to the skillet. After about 25 minutes they started to collapse, and I added chopped garlic and stirred. When the garlic was cooked, I served the dish.

The prickly pear fruits, sweet and fragrant, were the highlight. The garlic cloves too were spectacular. The rattlesnake still tasted like chicken: crispy, dry chicken, though nicely balanced by the cactus fruit.

It was the best that snake ever tasted, but that’s only saying so much. I hope it’s the last snake I eat. Luckily, it was the last rattlesnake we ever saw on the property.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:31

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