Monthly Archives: March 2016

I saw this car parked like this this morning, here in Bozeman:


Now, in most towns, this would cause some consternation, but in Bozeman, that’s just the way that people park.

There are many things that we Pucketts love about Bozeman and the surrounding countryside, but it occurred to me this morning that the things that I don’t care for all have to do with lanes.

Parking lanes, driving lanes, swim lanes.

Parking here is strange; it truly seems to have nothing to do with the little lane markers on the pavement. It’s occurred to me that perhaps this was because there was often snow on the parking lots, so you couldn’t see the line markers. Now, obviously there isn’t always snow on the asphalt (in fact, the snow is mostly gone these days; it snows some every day or three, but it melts fast) but I thought that, perhaps, since they can’t count on seeing the lines, maybe they just ignore them.

My friend Scott says that no doubt there used to be plenty of parking in Bozeman, so folks simply assume that it’s okay to park any which way. And there may be something to that. This area has been growing very fast for quite some time, and the infrastructure may be having a difficult time keeping up – but let’s be plain; the infrastructure will NEVER “keep up” in terms of providing two parking spots for everybody 🙂

There’s obviously nothing that can be done about this; it’s just one of the adjustments that I’ll have to make. Folks in the Bozone simply are not going to park inside the lines.

Driving lanes are a different problem, but perhaps a different manifestion of the same issue; folks in Big Sky country drive slower than anywhere else that I’ve ever lived. Coming west from town to our neighborhood, the last couple of miles are 55 MPH speed limit, with five lanes (counting the suicide lane in the middle). But I’ve already adjusted (mostly) to the fact that, when I’m coming home from the gym or church or meeting or pool (90% of my trips to town, easily, fall into those four categories) I’m not going to be going 55 MPH to my home. Folks simply don’t get too close to the speed limit; they seem to have an aversion to getting closer than 5 MPH to that number that’s posted on the sign.

The strangest thing about this is that this is one of the states that used to have “prima facie” speed limits – pretty much “anything went” on the highways as long as it was “reasonable and proper”. ( I sure do wish that I’d lived here, with my BMW Z3 or my Audi TT, when that was the case). But now that the speed limits are enforced as such, folks seem to be scared of getting too close to them.

Or maybe it’s another symptom of growth – folks here aren’t used to so many people on the roads, or so many buildings/homes/etc on the roadside, and so they slow down in self defense.

Or perhaps it’s simply that folks in Montana are not in a hurry, and don’t want you to be in a hurry, either. Maybe – just maybe – they are AGGRESSIVELY not in a hurry.

But it means that I have to drive slower – or not drive at all. It’s true that I don’t drive much these days – a tank of gas will last me a month – but I do drive OFTEN. So I get plenty of opportunities to practice acceptance.

Swim lanes are a different issue – but, again, it might be the problem with recent growth. But the ratio of lap swimmers to swim lanes in Southwest Montana is much worse than Utah or the East Bay in California. Those are the only places in which I’ve done much lap swimming, so I can’t compare to anywhere else. But in Utah, I seldom had to share a lane; when swimming in Pleasanton, I might have to share a lane, but it’s just two folks to a lane, so each person gets a side – but if I want to swim the 50 meter lengths at the Bozeman Swim Center, then I have to swim “circles”, which means that the swimmers are swimming down one side of the lane and up the other side – which means that they have to be swimming at similar speeds, or there is passing and being passed, which interferes with everyone’s pace and rest times.

This is the only “lane” situation that might improve, here in Big Sky Country; there is supposed to be a new high school being built out at our end of town, and also a new YMCA being built about 2 miles from here, as well; the YMCA won’t have a pool until the second phase, but it still means that there might be some relief in the next couple of years.

I just hope that, when they build those places, they put in plenty of parking.


Abigail Amanda Puckett is getting used to our routine. Here she is in the training room yesterday morning while we were doing our rides:


That’s her, with her head just visible over Ethel’s blurry knee.

We’re five steps forward, four steps back, around here these days. Abby alternates between fearful shyness and goofy playfulness; she doesn’t seem to have anything in the middle. (Maybe she’s in the right family).

The last two evenings, we’ve closed the bedroom door and sat on the floor and let her run around loose. The result has been wonderful – we all start playing. She’ll play bow and bump noses with me and then there’s a sudden flurry of kisses, then she prances off and pretends to ignore us for several minutes. You can see her looking around and taking in everything, over and over again, and watch the wheels spinning in that head. She is alert.

I can’t help but compare and contrast Abby with my last sled dog, Maia. There are so many strong similarities, and also huge differences. Maia was a 100 lb. malamute who was much more powerful than Abby; Maia moved like a lion. Abby is probably about half that in mass, and she either slinks like Peter Lorre, or bounds like Rudolph when Clarice tells him that “he’s cude”.

Playtime is some of the same movements, but their personalities are very different; Maia, in retrospect, seemed to be like an older Sean Connery at playtime; she was enjoying herself, but mostly she was amused in a good-natured way about the silliness of the rest of us.

Abby, when playing, is like Robin Williams doing an improv. She knows that everybody’s watching her, and she keeps looking for the next thing to riff on.

But then the switch goes off, and suddenly Abigail is scared – of me, mostly, although Lucy barking can make her jump. The literature says that, since I’m male, and thus have a larger jaw and muscles and movements and deeper voice, that I’m more of a danger – and so a fearful dog will be drawn to a female rather than me.

Which means that Abby is a lot like me. There’s a powerful – but incomprehensible –  entity in her life that only wants to love, provide for and protect her – and she’s scared of him, and keeps hoping that he’ll go away.