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  • The Postscript: What cats like

    Carrie Classon|Updated Mar 5, 2024

    “I’ve been reading about cats,” my husband, Peter, tells me. Peter has never had a cat before. “Oh, yeah?” “Salt is not good for their kidneys. We have to give Felix unsalted fish.” Felix is our adopted street cat here in Mexico. He is coming back to the U.S. with us in a fancy backpack carrier I found online. It has mesh on either side, with one big plexiglass bubble in the back, so Felix can watch his fellow passengers in comfort. He hasn’t flown yet, but our trips to an... Full story

  • Philosophy rocks

    Updated Mar 5, 2024

    Usually I don’t read anything more complex than the back of a cereal box, but this week — perhaps it was fate, perhaps it was indigestion — I found an essay on Latin America. In it was a sentence like “it was more of an Argentinization of Brazil than a Brazilianization of Argentina. Though one can argue the Brazilianization of Argentina is really the Brazilianization of Brazil.” The essay led me to make a deep, meaningful conclusion. It wasn’t about Brazil. It was about life. I should become a philosopher. Instead of... Full story

  • Thanks for nine decades of Scouting in the area

    Updated Mar 1, 2024

    With February and Scout anniversary month coming to an end it is always a good time to step back and see where we have come from and to appreciate the journey that the Boy Scouts of American has taken. It was 114 years ago that the Boy Scout movement officially began at 11:03 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, 1910. This is exact date time that the Boy Scouts of America became incorporated. There have been Boy Scouts of America units in Havre and along the Hi-Line for more than 90 years. That cannot happen without the past and continued...

  • Looking out my Backdoor: Miles to go before we plant

    Sondra Ashton|Updated Mar 1, 2024

    It is interesting to contemplate that a mere 2-month-old baby has accumulated more frequent flier miles than I have in the past five years. The comparison is easy. My mileage is zero. More astounding is that little Marley’s flights cost more than the sum total of all my flights, domestic and foreign, inclusive of but not exclusively: multiple domestic flights, Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, China, Japan and India. Who could have imagined this farm girl could have visited so many f...

  • The Postscript: A borrowed plate

    Carrie Classon|Updated Feb 27, 2024

    My husband, Peter, and I were surprised that two plates were missing. We stay in our little apartment in Mexico and, while we’re gone, all our dishes and glasses remain in the cupboards. We pack away most of our spices, but we leave the vegetable steamer and the pressure cooker and all the art on the walls. We leave it all in the apartment which, we assume, is rented out to other people while we are gone, although it is hard to know for sure because everything is always r...

  • Interesting things going on

    Updated Feb 27, 2024

    These past few weeks have been interesting. As the Local Government Interim Committee, we had planned to look into the property tax and appraisals issues. At least that’s what I thought and what made sense to me; that the Tax Interim Committee would address these issues alongside input from folks in local government. Then, as had also happened during and after this year’s legislative session, the administration got involved in place of letting the Legislature do our job. The administration created a special property tax adv...

  • Montana Energy: Building a Vision

    Updated Feb 23, 2024

    Montana is, and always will be, an energy state. Historically, we were known to be producers that fueled the Industrial Revolution, thanks to Colstrip’s mines and the oil and gas fields. More recently, Montana’s tremendous wind resource is widely recognized as being extremely valuable to the energy transition. In order to continue being an energy state, harness our wind resources, and participate in a growing Western energy market, we must invest in our transmission lines and push permitting reform through local and national...

  • Looking out my Backdoor: To Tapir or not to Tapir

    Sondra Ashton|Updated Feb 23, 2024

    Michelle called. “I need to take Blue to the vet in Tala tomorrow. Ana can’t come with me because she is overseeing the work crew building our new guest house. Would you be able to come along with me?” “What time do we leave?” Michelle picked me up. Blue, tucked in his kitty carrier, never made a peep the whole trip. Michelle and I filled the air with words covering multiple spectrums. Background: Blue is an elderly cat, not in the best of health. Michelle feared this migh...

  • Medicaid unwind hits older Montanans hard

    Updated Feb 23, 2024

    More than 120,000 Montanans lost their Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids health care coverage in the past few months. Shockingly, 70 percent of those terminations were due to administrative reasons: failures on the part of the Gianforte administration. The administration’s poorly thought-out, under-staffed Medicaid redetermination process has hurt thousands of Montanans, especially our elders and children. During the pandemic, in the interest of keeping as many people insured as possible, the federal government suspended t...

  • Montana tax policy shouldn't favor corporations over workers

    Updated Feb 23, 2024

    Montana families and workers expect our state government to tax people fairly, invest in our safety and future, and give Montanans the opportunity to get ahead in life. Unfortunately, last year Gov. Greg Gianforte and Montana Republicans saddled Montana homeowners with a $200 million residential property tax increase, cut property taxes for large corporations, and then topped it off by providing global corporations a free lunch to lower their Montana taxes. This last tax exploit, while receiving less attention, is every bit...

  • The Postscript: A new life for Felix

    Carrie Classon|Updated Feb 20, 2024

    Last night was surprisingly calm, all things considered. I told my husband, Peter, that he should not plan to get a good night’s sleep. I told him this because Peter has never had a cat, and yesterday, we adopted one. I have had several cats over the years, but my last cat, Lucy, died just a few months before I met Peter, 10 years ago. Peter has had dogs all his life and knows nothing about cats (which means every cat who has ever met him finds him fascinating). So we d...

  • Looking out my Backdoor: Here a little, there a little

    Sondra Ashton|Updated Feb 16, 2024

    Why do the little changes take up so much space? I should qualify that with an addition, “in my head?” Really, most changes hardly make a dent in my consciousness. Change is constant. My favorite bowl slips from my fingers and shatters on the tile floor. Blip — gone. The rubber tip on my cane wears out. I replace it. Lola The Dog celebrates her birthday (OK, I celebrate her birthday). I notice she has quite a few more white hairs. Change, like a river, always moving. Other...

  • The Postscript: Donuts in the middle of the day

    Carrie Classon|Updated Feb 13, 2024

    While a person may buy a cake here in Mexico seven days a week from early morning to late at night, getting any other kind of dessert is more challenging. There is a bakery I walk by every day. Everything is fresh and in bins. Customers pick up a metal tray and tongs and select what they want, then bring it up to the counter. The tray is returned to the pile. The tongs are hung neatly with the other tongs. It is a great system, except that the tray holds a lot of baked goods...

  • Let's keep our communities stable, safe and healthy

    Updated Feb 13, 2024

    In 2015, when the Legislature expanded Medicaid to cover another 100,000 Montanans, it sought to guarantee that all of us — our families, kids, friends and neighbors — would have access to health care. Expanding Medicaid was a significant bipartisan accomplishment: the bill was carried by a Republican senator, passed on a bipartisan vote, and signed by a Democratic governor. And no wonder: It reflected our common conviction that we all — particularly kids — should have access to medical care when we need it. But now that gu...

  • A lesson from Sven and Ole

    Updated Feb 13, 2024

    Some readers, especially those with Scandinavian heritage, may be familiar with the stories of Sven and Ole. I grew up hearing them from my late grandfather. One story comes to mind in the context of our current political climate. Sven and Ole, were two farmers with neighboring farms who had always been very competitive. Ole’s father had always been a Ford man, and the bigger the better, especially the F-350s. So, of course, Ole grew up as a Ford man, too! Sven’s father had always been a Chevy man, and he loved those big Sil...

  • Setting the record straight

    Updated Feb 9, 2024

    Plain and simple — people get sick. Right now, more than 250,000 predominantly low-income Montanans get help with health care through Medicaid — a state-federal partnership. Montana has overall and primary responsibility, while the feds pick up most of the costs, averaging 80% (of total Medicaid spending). In 2022, the federal government provided $1.8 billion to cover health care for Medicaid-eligible Montanans who live in every county across the Big Sky. Remarkably, two-thirds of Medicaid recipients live in our rural communi... Full story

  • Looking out my Backdoor: All my noisy neighbors

    Sondra Ashton|Updated Feb 9, 2024

    First things first. Our Baby Marley is home. She is home, ready for the hard work of getting healthy and growing and looking at everything around her with those big eyes. We are so grateful. And we are so grateful for all the friends and strangers who cared, who in small ways took our baby in their arms and into their hearts and helped her heal. Thank you. That dog of mine has put me into the habit of greeting the rising sun on our first walk of the day. Believe me, before... Full story

  • The Postscript: A piece of cake

    Carrie Classon|Updated Feb 6, 2024

    My husband, Peter, and I landed in Mexico again, and we did what we have done in the past. We bought an enormous cake. It’s nice to have a cake in the house. I have discovered it is not necessarily a good idea to eat cake every day, as it eventually makes my clothes too small. But I do like cake, and I especially like Mexican cake, and more than anything, I like giving cake away. We love the folks who work at this hotel. When I say “hotel,” you might be thinking of some swank... Full story

  • Looking out my Backdoor: Making my Retreat Center in the kitchen

    Sondra Ashton|Updated Feb 2, 2024

    Life is tough. At times, life is tougher. I’m on the periphery of that tough life but I feel it just the same. Baby Marley is still in the hospital in Billings. She’s not out of the woods, but slowly on the right path, healing from RSV and pneumonia and detoxing from the drug that kept her paralyzed during the worst of her personal storm. Mom and Dad still camp out in her room. Meanwhile, back home in Glendive, Grandma Dee and Grandpa Chris and Uncle Tyler are taking care of...

  • Get to know your judges

    Updated Feb 2, 2024

    As you learn about all the candidates for various offices this year, the most important ones are the ones that most Montanans know the least about. The politicians you need to do the most research on are not the would-be congressmen, governors, or even legislators. It’s the judges. Although they claim to be above the political fray, judges in Montana are in fact politicians. From the district courts to the state Supreme Court, they’re elected. They have to run campaigns, raise money, and their fate is ultimately decided by...

  • Setting the record straight

    Updated Feb 2, 2024

    Plain and simple — people get sick. Right now, more than 250,000 predominantly low-income Montanans get help with health care through Medicaid — a state-federal partnership. Montana has overall and primary responsibility, while the Feds pick up most of the costs, averaging 80% (of total Medicaid spending). In 2022, the federal government provided $1.8 billion to cover health care for Medicaid-eligible Montanans who live in every county across the Big Sky. Remarkably, two-thirds of Medicaid recipients live in our rural com...

  • The Postscript: Enough

    Carrie Classon|Updated Jan 30, 2024

    My husband, Peter, and I are headed out to Mexico again, and before we do, I thought it was a good time of year to check in with some folks I care about, to see how 2024 had been treating them so far. First, I had dinner with my oldest friend, Andrew. He told me about his mother, who lives alone and has been feeling her 92 years. Her activities are becoming more limited, and she may move into a smaller place. She’s figuring out what she is still able to do, and how much is e...

  • Climate crisis: We're all in it together

    Updated Jan 30, 2024

    The year 2024 will be the most consequential one in the history of the United States. This I believe because the existence of our system of constitutional democracy is being challenged by forces who want to give more authoritarian power to a single leader than has ever happened before. Those opposing the challenge to democracy must always use democratic means in their opposition. Whether democracy survives this year, an even greater challenge threatens the life-nurturing necessities of the coming decade. Last year was the...

  • Evaluate your candidates

    Updated Jan 26, 2024

    Before you vote in the 2024 election you should evaluate how your legislator voted in 2023. Did they vote to support rural Montanans and family farms and ranches, or did they vote to support wealthy corporations? As a grassroots, non-partisan organization, Montana Farmers Union not only advocated for legislation to strengthen family farms and ranches and rural communities, but also kept tabs on which legislators put their vote where their mouths were. Report cards for legislators from different regions of the state are...

  • Time for Accountability

    Updated Jan 26, 2024

    Two notable events just occurred: The Public Service Commission’s blessing of NorthWestern Corp.’s 28% rate hike; and extreme cold. 28% rate hike The all-Republican Commission approved a 28% rate hike, the majority of which falls on small businesses and residential users — renters and homeowners. The Commission rejected our challenge to that rate hike, forcing Montanans to gift Wall Street $3,447,870 every year. We pay our monthly bills based on a pretend cost of debt for Colstrip of 6.5%. In fact, NorthWestern’s actual...

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