Wow, I'm finally back "in the saddle" so to speak! I had a wonderful trip with some of my family to Glendive, Montana for a family reunion, where I met a couple of cousins I'd never met before and caught up with the extended family I rarely see. This is a very small town in eastern Montana, on the edge of the badlands, where both my parents grew up. My mother's grandfather was one of the founding citizens, having followed the railroad out in the late 1800s. There's a lot of family history there and I find myself attempting to piece together an elusive past, trying to get some sense of what life was like there as the town built itself up to prominence in those early years. I always think of time and history as a building process, which it is in many ways, but in certain others there is a slow dismantling and a kind of crumbling. I guess this struck me most when some of us went to see our great grandfather's (Henri Dion, originally from Quebec) original house, which is still there. Once an imposing structure in the center of town, by the middle of the last century it had long been sold, probably numerous times, and was moved to a new location not far away. Now it sits in the shadow of an overpass, having been remodeled and added onto over the years in strange ways, broken up into apartments and now is practically unrecognizable as something that might have once been a grand home. Time passes, but I still struggle to capture something of my history, not to relive it, but to "connect the dots", to understand where I came from and how that frontier past informs my identity. One of my cousins there is friendly with a 98-year old woman who has lived in Glendive on and off her entire life and, quite the perky one, she remembered both my parents, as they were almost contemporaries. Sort of like time travel to be in the presence of someone like that. My brothers, cousins and I are now the oldest generation of the Dion family and even that feels strange. Obviously, I'm still processing the experiences and will no doubt come to more understanding as I get back into the studio and start making artwork.
Perhaps some of you are wondering about that flooding Missouri River, a not-so-friendly presence these days. We're still high and dry, although less high than we were. The Army Corps of Engineers has had to up the flow from 150,000 (cubic feet per second) to 160,000 (cubic feet per second) from the dam in Yankton, which we'd hoped wouldn't have to happen. The water table by now has got to be much closer to the house and we've heard the sump pump kick on occasionally, so we'll hope it can keep up. The rains have been pretty heavy in this whole area--the last thing we need. Fingers still crossed that we won't have too many worries over the next couple months, because these high waters will be with us for a long time to come!
I finished up a little piece and added it to the shop a bit ago and am headed back to the studio to really get to work. I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully with some other things to show you! A waarm welcome to the new followers and thank you to everyone for your support and good wishes--I missed you all!