Sustained by a secret


Lay of the Land: A series of essays on the spirit of Montana

I hope we all don’t brag too much about our October 2014 weather. I have already warned the Fishtail coffee klatch on this, because we might regret it. Instead, in our out-of-state conversations, we should emphasize the depths to which the thermometer drops come winter, and we need to mention how many seasonal jobs we all have to work in order to live here. Continue Reading →

This Veterans Day, save your thanks for the real heroes


Every year on Veterans Day, I cringe at the knowledge that well-meaning people are going to wallpaper Facebook and Twitter with heartfelt tributes to the heroes who have served our country.

I cringe because as a veteran myself, I know the truth about the average military personnel. Most of the people I met in the military were good people. They showed up and did their job. They didn’t cause problems. They were generally a pleasure to work with. In other words, they were average people. In other words, not heroes. Continue Reading →

Montana Ave., from blight to beauty in 25 years


True story: In the early 1980s, when I was living in Butte, I was in Billings one weekend to play hockey.

I was driving down Montana Avenue with a couple of other players, at a time when the avenue had probably never looked worse. The Rex restaurant was there, as it is now, and there were a handful of other businesses, mostly secondhand stores, but not much else. Continue Reading →

Queen for a day: Skate team helps woman realize dream


Lisa Graham has been a huge fan of roller derby for most of her life. She’s got a ticket stub in her wallet to prove it.

The ticket was for a Jan. 16, 1988, bout between the Los Angeles Thunderbirds and the Detroit Devils at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The front and back of the ticket bear the autographs of most the L.A. team’s stars. Continue Reading →

Fujiwara brings her quartet home for ABT performance


Korine Fujiwara will be going back to her roots when she performs with the Carpe Diem String Quartet at the Alberta Bair Theater on Saturday evening.

The 1985 graduate of Billings Senior High first performed on that stage in high school, when she played in the violin section of the Billings Symphony Orchestra, when the venue was still called the Fox Theatre. She is also coming back to the place where the two streams of her family joined to make her the musician she is. Continue Reading →

Brewer using new beer to promote autism awareness


Eight years ago, Mike Uhrich opened Carter’s Brewing in downtown Billings. The craft brewery was named for his son, Carter, then 6 months old.

This Thursday, he’ll be pouring a brand-new beer, this one named for his 3½-year-old son, Mason. He’s starting with one batch of 10 barrels, or 326 gallons. If it does well, he might make it a couple of times a year. Continue Reading →