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Drive to Willow Creek to visit Pat Zuelke

June 9, 2021

Jeff and Phyllis Dorrington

June 9, 2021

What I learned recently.

Monday morning P. and I delivered about a dozen “meals on wheels” as part of that program here in Billings.  I always get a kick out of old guys who accept the meal with a thanks with their dog accepting a Milkbone(R) with —not much—appreciation.  In the case Monday, “Peanut” held the treat in his mouth loosely, not snapping it greedily as Gunther is wont to do.

After the deliveries we stopped back at the house to eat ramen noodles with chicken.  

We loaded the Hymer van with clothes, dog, food, personal effects.  Drove to Bozeman via Clyde Park and Willsall.  In the Bridger Mountains we stopped at Battle Ridge trailhead to walk around and let Gunther pee and poop.  He did both.  Well, he peed.  He must have pooped surreptitiously.  Birds were active.  P. thought she saw a mountain bluebird sitting atop a dead tree way up there.

Great diversity of woodland plants at Battle Ridge: lupines, other familiars whose names I can’t remember, but probably a half-dozen species of plant.  Wild strawberries’ flowers.  Certainly some elderberries, probably not any huckleberries.  Sometimes it’s hard to be sure about those until the berries pop out.  I wasn’t convinced.

Soon we traveled to Bozeman, then Three Forks, then Willow Creek to visit Pat Zuelke, retired school teacher of the same town. Pat bought and renovated a small house. It was one of those houses with gas heat in the front room, a kitchen behind, a bedroom off to the side and a bathroom. A back door.

We walked into her back door to find — a smorgasbord of delightful viands and beverages.  

And people!  The in-laws Jeff and Phyllis Dorrington were there.  Also, friend Louisa.  Rounding out the group was Pat’s niece Shannon and her two children Bo-bo and Lucy and Pat’s child, Liberty, and her daughter Amani. 

I’m still peeing blood, so I excused myself to use the bathroom.  Then I found a skewer and used it to eat pieces of ham and cheese while catching up with Jeff.  Jeff, like I am, retired as a federal pharmacist.  I tried to get him interested in my recent surgery on my prostate gland, but no dice.  Instead, we talked about cars: he bought a Tesla, P. and I bought the Hymer.

He and I both have distressing dreams about pharmacy:  He can’t remember the combination to the safe (neither can I).  We can’t seem to fill the prescriptions either fast or at all.  That’s what pharmacists care about.  We really want to fill prescriptions.

At some point I crawled into the Hymer and fell asleep.  Yes, the guests had gone home, yes we sat around talking until a late hour.

Next morning we coffeed and oatmilled.  I had gotten some painful slivers from Pat’s porch, so I sanded and varnished with many coats the offending area.  Then I did a variety of small jobs.  Organized paint.  Arranged tools.  Leaned pieces of sheetrock against a wall.  Folded a tarp.  And another tarp.  Like that.  Small jobs.

At last Liberty showed up with a room carpet.  I mean a carpet, complete with border and pattern, somewhat smaller than the room it was to go into.  She and Pat unrolled it and and a pad beneath.  Then Lib trimmed the pad with a pair of scissors.  Nor did she get a blister, apparently.

Louisa and her husband Thomas invited everyone to their house in Bozeman for a feast.  This was a caesar salad, expertly prepared steak, artistically concocted cocktails, oyster mushrooms.  Louisa was born and raised in Paraguay.  Thomas from New York state (The Hamptons).  They have two children Lana, and Shane, both bright and interesting.  They created the desserts, creme brûlée’s.

I tried some humor, some stories.  When Louisa said her sign was Scorpio, I replied, “hmm. I’m a feces.”  This got a startled response from Shane, certainly not the warm, appreciative laughter I hoped for.  

I tried telling my story from NOVA about my exploits as an adolescent explorer of University of Montana buildings in which I became trapped in a laboratory.  This went over well until I expanded upon my troubled past as a bed-wetter.

“My mother hated that I could wet my bed by standing in the doorway of my bedroom and urinating on my bed,” I explained.  This got another hostile reaction.  I was trying to explain that NOVA catered to the kind of troubled youths of which I was one.  I think I got mixed success.

After supper P. and I drove back through Bozeman, took Rouse Street to the highway past Bridger Bowl, then back to Battle Ridge.  We cruised the campground and found a likely site.  Got backed into it.  Then, lo!  A dome tent was back in the distance.  Worse luck!  Occupied!  We drove back to the highway and back to the trailhead parking lot where we boondocked.  Things were good until a rude, cowardly one-eyed pickup came into the area, spun several brodies spraying some gravel into our rig.  I threatened to give them a good talking-to, but didn’t fulfill my threat.

Things were quiet the remainder of the night and we drove to Billings, arriving at 11:30 a.m.  Took the interstate after we returned via the Shields River.

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